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marias car and valentines 007

We’ve had so many snow days here in Carter County that last week was the first chance for the kids at school to celebrate Valentine’s Day!

As I walked around the room admiring all of the Valentine’s boxes and watching the kids enjoy their treats, I noticed this little gift wrapped and sitting on top of one boy’s desk.

I asked him what it was, and he said, “Oh, this is for my mamaw.”

He had wrapped up the cookies that had been handed out for snack time and then placed a heart sticker on top to hold the paper towel wrapping paper shut and was happily watching everyone else enjoy their snacks while he had none.

Now that’s what I call love!

A 9 year-old boy thinking of his mamaw before himself.

A child passing up immediate pleasure in exchange for the joy of seeing his mamaw’s face when he hands her this gift later in the afternoon.

A human being taking whatever they have….even if it’s just a few cookies and a paper towel and transforming them into something powerful and touching.

If we could see “love” through God’s eyes, I think we’d feel a lot less pressure when buying gifts.  I think we’d realize that true love isn’t measured by the cost of the wrapping paper or what is tucked inside. 

No, love comes from the heart.

It’s the joy we feel when we’re putting someone else’s needs above ours.

It’s the smile that comes from knowing that we gave all we had for the sake of someone else.

God definitely knows what it means to give His all.

I’m still learning.

Learning from 9 year-old little boys and thankful that God can speak even through cookies wrapped in love and a paper towel,

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We’re Still Playing Ball!!

February 28th, 2010

 

snow strothers and basketball 380

We spent Friday night in Lewisburg, Kentucky, where the Lady Raiders’ traveling team won the first two games of their final basketball tournament!!

We head back tomorrow after church for the last two games of the tournament AND the season!!!!!!!

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olivia deep in thought
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snow strothers and basketball 097snow strothers and basketball 186  snow strothers and basketball 197snow strothers and basketball 334  I’ll let you know how the rest of the tournament goes!

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Holding a baby…….

February 26th, 2010

 

I had the pleasure of babysitting a sweet little eight-week old baby boy this morning for about an hour and a half.

I had forgotten…

what it looks like to have a bottle in my frig

how tiny babies really are

how dependent they are on us for EVERYTHING

that doing two things at once isn’t as easy when fragile cargo is in your arms

that little babies love to be talked to even though they can only respond with tiny smiles

 

I wonder how different the church would be if we treated new Christians like infants…

dependent, needing fed, fragile, needing to be talked to

The Bible says that to enter the Kingdom we must become like “little children.”

I think God just adores babies.

Trusting, content, approachable, non-judgmental…

These are just some of my random thoughts after spending some quiet time holding a baby.

Thank you, Father, for speaking through one of your tiny creations who can not yet speak,

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Thankful Thursday

February 25th, 2010

 

I’ve tried to imagine before what someone does with “sin” if they aren’t really a believer in anything past this earthly life.

I mean, if you simply believe that you’re born, you live, and then you die-the end, then does sin really matter?

If it doesn’t then why do we care when someone commits murder or steals or is unfaithful to their spouse or lies or any other thing that causes most to think, “That’s not right.” What makes it “not right” if there is no God, no eternity. In my opinion, none of that should really matter if there isn’t Someone over us Who cares and calls us out of those kinds of lifestyles.

So, I guess before I started talking about the next chapter in the book Choosing Gratitude: Your Journey to Joy, I just felt like I had to put that out on the table as something to think about for anyone who might stop by my blog and not be a believer in Jesus or a believer in an eternal life somewhere after death. I couldn’t just begin this blog post talking about sin when there may be some who don’t believe in a God who longs to wash away all of that ugly stuff we carry around.

I think everyone of us should think long and hard about why we believe what we believe, so that when faced with questions like, “How do you know there is a God?” or “Why do you believe in something that you can’t see?” we can hopefully give some kind of answer.

And I think that if you are reading this post and are filled with doubt about who God is or why he’s allowed your life to hold the pain it holds, then you should go on a journey searching for answers………..a personal trek for more information…………don’t just look around for others to give you answers but look up and ask God to show Himself to you somehow……I believe that He will. He’s longing for you to just look up and ask. He’ll send the right people, the right words, the right books, the right life events……………He’s waiting patiently for you. I believe that.

Saying all of that, I want to share about the next chapter in Nancy’s book, “Guilt, Grace, and Gratitude.”

Truly, this chapter means nothing if you are not aware and convicted by the tiny three-letter word –

Sin.

The dictionary says that synonyms for sin are 1. trespass, violation. 2. wrong, wickedness. 4. transgress.

We’ve all done something wrong, haven’t we? I know I have. More than once.

I think we have to come to a realization that we are not perfect before we can truly feel guilt for our sin. A feeling of regret for decisions we’ve made. An awakening to our need for forgiveness.

Have you ever hurt someone’s feelings and said “I’m sorry” only to be rejected with a response of “Sorry’s not enough.”

I think that’s where God offers something that many humans simply cannot. Grace.

A sense that He has freed us from all that is weighing us down. A clean slate. A fresh start. A new morning.

That’s what I think of when I read this chapter.

On the other hand, have you ever done something wrong, ask for forgiveness, and felt as if someone has truly “let it go.” Aren’t you full of gratitude in a moment like this? Just so thankful to be FREE from past mistakes!!!!!!!!!!!!!

That’s what this chapter is all about.

Being full of gratitude for a God who covers our guilt with His grace!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Not just looking Heavenward now and then and saying, “thank you, Lord,” when you get a good parking place at WalMart, or when a prayer is answered exactly as you have requested……….

No the gratitude Nancy is talking about runs much deeper.

It’s the kind that says “thank you, Lord,” even when you don’t understand how or why life is going the way it is but you know that, in spite of how dark the valley, YOU ARE LOVED, FREE, COVERED IN GOD’S MERCY, AND LIVING A LIFE HEADED TOWARDS ETERNITY WITH HIM.

That’s the kind of gratitude God longs for from us and the great part is this:

When we express thanksgiving in these kinds of times, guess what happens? Others are touched, blessed, inspired, and motivated to live better lives for Him and then they too begin to be full of thanksgiving for what God has done for them and the cycle goes on and on and on and on and on……………………….

Nancy compares it to the rain cycle and I love that analogy!!!

See when we are overwhelmed with gratitude, we are much more likely to reach out and bless others causing them to be thankful which then causes them to reach out. God is the direct link between us and the rest of the world and in a sense we are the direct link between God and the world. It’s really amazing if you think about it!!! I just imagine little lines of prayers of thanks going up and down all over the world from people to God almost like rays of light beaming out everywhere. The Son is our light and our thanksgiving is His light reflected back to Him.

How do you feel when one of your children complains about something after you have given so much for them………….I know how I feel. Hurt, angry, disappointed. I do not like to hear my children grumble or complain. And they know how I feel. That’s one area of life where I speak my mind clearly.

God, on a much, much larger scale, I believe, feels the same way about His children.

How dare we complain or grumble to Him or about Him after all He has done for us?????

To grow up or mature in Christ, we have to develop a deep gratitude for what God has given us and done for us.

How will we know when we are growing up???

I think we will know by the things we talk about, by the amount of complaining we get caught up in, by the amount of grumbling we allow to fall from our lips.

A thankful heart is a heart that gets it.

Believe me, if you are reading this and saying, “Tammy, I can’t be thankful after……….,” I want you to know that I understand. I really, really do.

Choosing to be thankful in the midst of not feeling like there is a reason to be is a tough choice.

But I’m writing this today from the depths of an aching heart. When you can get to the place where you can be honest and say, “God, I’m struggling to be thankful. I know You have done so much for me, but the road I am on is just too hard and I don’t feel thankful. Help me, Lord,” I promise that……………

He will cover you in grace and mercy and bless you not only for your gratitude but also for your honesty.

Try it, today.

Try to thank God in spite of what you are going through.

Just try it.

Our guilt covered in God’s grace should be enough to send us to our knees in gratitude today.

I’m heading there now,

heartBG2

Argentine Miracle…….

February 24th, 2010

 

son meets father for the first time

“Never again will I use this name,” he said. “To have your identity is the most beautiful thing there is.” 

These were the words of Francisco Madariaga when he heard the name that had been given to him by his kidnappers 32 years ago.

As I read this story of a father’s 32-year search for his son, I couldn’t help but think of God’s constant search for us.

Oh, the joy He must feel when we finally choose to take His name as our name.

Are you a child of God’s?  Do you find your identity in Christ?

I hope so.

The face of this father above speaks to me.  This is how I see God.  A Father who won’t stop searching and hunting until He finds us….and when He does, oh the joy He feels when we choose to take His name as our own.

If you haven’t read this story in the  news today, you should.  It is beautiful.

Luke 15:4-7

“Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.

Thankful for a Father who never stops seeking us,

heartBG2

Tammy had a little dog…….

February 24th, 2010

 

olivia drawing  2-19-2010 0224 resized Tammy had a little dog, little dog, little dog,

It followed her to school one day,

Which was against the rules.

Friday, I turned around during my photography class and there stood my dog Snoopy!!!!!! She had followed me upstairs in Lusby!

I don’t really know why I decided to share this with you, other than the fact that I thought it was funny.

But after deciding to call this post, “Tammy had a little dog,” I did a little research about the origin of the song “Mary had a little lamb,” and I learned a few things I never knew.

First, the song was written about a real event in history when a student named Mary Sawyer actually took her lamb to school one day.

Also, the author of the song, Sarah Hale, is famous for a few other things I never knew!

She is credited with having the most influence on our country’s decision to celebrate Thanksgiving as a national holiday. She spent 17 long years campaigning in favor of this holiday and through that period of time wrote to five different presidents sharing her reasons for wanting to see this holiday recognized. Her final letter, the one written to Abraham Lincoln, was the one that finally convinced the government to create Thanksgiving Day. Until then, the only holidays in America were Independence Day and Washington’s Birthday.

Sarah also traveled and campaigned for the preservation of George Washington’s Mount Vernon plantation and the completion of the Bunker Hill Monument.

Hale finally retired from from being an editor in 1877 when she was 89. In that very same year, Thomas Edison made his first ever recording on a phonograph, speaking the words of, believe it or not, Sarah’s little rhyme, “Mary Had a Little Lamb.”

I share all of this with you for this reason:

Some day we will merely be part of history.

So, what are we spending our time doing?

Where are our passions focused?

What will people remember about us?

Not that we need to be famous. I don’t consider Sarah Hale famous.

But, I do think it’s a good idea, every once in a while, to stop and simply reflect on our life goals. Have we given up on something because as much as 17 years have passed and nothing has changed? Have we felt convicted about something but then remained silent out of fear?

Tonight, I look at the picture of my determined dog Snoopy and I think of a determined Sarah Hale, and I have to ask myself, “What am I determined to do?”

Praying your day is a day of purpose and determination,

heartBG2

 

Romans 8:38-39 (New International Version)

38For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

These words alone are enough for me today.

Enough hope.

Enough promise.

Enough assurance.

Enough……..to keep smiling and believing.

Praying they are enough for you too.

Love,

heartBG2

A Father’s Love……..

February 23rd, 2010

 

 Tim Nischan(2) The King and Queen (2010)

My friend’s husband took these pictures during the homecoming festivities Friday night, and they make me smile every time I look at them.

Tim loves our boys so much, and the pain of losing Nick has been almost unbearable for him.  See, Tim and Nick were the biggest football buddies.  They watched every game together, talked stats together, and played fantasy football together.   In the off season, they followed players and teams through drafts and recruiting.  While life will never, ever be the same for any of us, I think the void has been amplified for Tim because of the loss of his kindred-spirited little man.

So seeing Tim’s face beaming with joy as he watches Erich and Jena receive their awards makes my heart sing.

Thank you, God, for being the Almighty Joy-Giver.

Thank you for loving us with a deep abiding Father’s love,

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Where was Todd????

February 22nd, 2010

 

busy mom pictures 001

I just realized that in all of my “thankfulness” for who was with us Friday night, I forgot to mention why Todd wasn’t with us…

He was practicing with the honors band at Marshall University in Huntington, WV.  Mom and I went to watch him and several others from his high school play on Saturday.

They did such a nice job!

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Our Friday Night………

February 22nd, 2010

 

olivia drawing 388 Our oldest son Erich was on the homecoming court at Kentucky Christian University this past Friday night and was crowned “king” during the ceremony between games. 

I was moved to tears as they called his name.

I really don’t know why.

I think it was a combination of so many things.

olivia drawing 324 The reality that our little boy is now a senior in college.

The thought that Erich is loved by his classmates.

The memories of so many past homecomings where Erich simply ran the halls playing with his buddies and now HE was standing in the middle of the court for this special honor.

And then the gnawing reality that Nick wasn’t with us to share this moment.

All of these emotions welled up in me over and over and over.

olivia drawing 356I’m thankful Mallory was here to share this special night and that she made it safely back to Nashville yesterday. olivia drawing  2-19-2010 0338 resized olivia drawing 358

I’m thankful that Jeff (President Metcalf) was in the lobby so we could snap this picture!olivia drawing 366

I’m thankful that Evan and Maria both got to be there.

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I’m thankful that Erich has made great friends like Justin, Shawn, and Matt.olivia drawing 385

I’m thankful that Mom and Olivia were both there too! 

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I’m thankful that even in the midst of this honor, Erich and Jena could both have a fun sense of humor as they returned to the gym to draw scholarship names out of their baskets. (Notice their crowns)

I especially loved that the names Erich drew were “Nicholas and Nicole.”  (How special was that?!?!?)  I think Nick was saying “hi!!!”  One friend whispered in my ear, “Nick is a child of the King and now he is the brother of a king.”  I thought that was so sweet. 🙂

Most of all, I’m thankful that little things like the words Homecoming King remind me that the King of Kings is truly going to bring us to our knees weeping one day as we bow before Him thanking Him for all He has done for us.

I Timothy 6:12-16

12Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses. 13In the sight of God, who gives life to everything, and of Christ Jesus, who while testifying before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, I charge you 14to keep this command without spot or blame until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15which God will bring about in his own time-God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, 16who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To him be honor and might forever. Amen.

So for today, I pray that you will feel the presence of Your King as you venture into yet another week of life.

The mother of a king, but most importantly, a daughter of THE KING,