Monday, February 18, 2008

Remembering Kiley

This post may be too strong for some...but it will be therapy for me to get out some thoughts and a bit of my fractured heart. My sister died last Wednesday. We know without a doubt that she is at her "real" home, the one we as true believers in Christ groan and long for. The one without pain, tears, heartache. The one where there is no curse, night, or anything impure. She was a child of God simply because of her faith in Christ Jesus to be the Way, Truth, and Life. Therefore, she has eternal life in Christ Jesus. Jesus says, "I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand." When Jesus died for our sins, he redeemed us from all of them, not just the ones we remember to confess. She was a sheep and she knew her shepherd's voice and she was so grateful that he laid down his life for her. She had studied the book of Daniel extensively and knew that Christ is the "Son of Man." She recognized him as the ONE who has all authority, glory, sovereign power; and that all would worship him. She knew that HIS kingdom was the only true kingdom, and that it will never pass away.

Kiley had wounds that had allowed Satan a stronghold over. Christ has come to give us abundant life, a life of freedom. The truth sets us free. Take your stand! Don't let anyone (including yourself) put a harness of slavery back on. In life, we tend to call things "reality" based on our experiences, but God defines reality as the TRUTH found in the Word of God. Victory comes when we line ourselves up to the reality of God's life. We must allow no person or experience to shape us...unless they are consistent with the promises of God. As the book, "The Three Battlegrounds" states, "every battle we face in life is over the Word and whether or not we can build our lives upon the faithfulness and integrity of God." I am learning to believe Him and put my ruthless (without self-pity) trust in Him...He is the only thing worth it because He is the only Truth. I sleep at night lately because I rest in a Sovereign God who has declared himself as Good and Faithful...He alone is reliable and constant. I am also learning that I trust God based on the degree that I know I am loved by Him. God had prepared my heart for this tragedy...I had been boasting of His love for me for a few months now. I do not understand His ways, and yes, He seems Wild--just like Aslan in "The Chronicles of Narnia," but He is safe. In my grief, all I have to cling to are two things: faith in the person of Jesus and hope in his promise. When Jesus says that He is the resurrection, and anyone who believes in Him, even though he or she dies will live, and whoever lives and believes in Him will never die, I cling to that promise with all I have. Deep down, I know that it is going to be alright. Deep down, I know that even though it appears that Satan has the victory, in reality, death has no sting.

My sister loved life and seemed to do everything "big." We called her dramatic, but she just wanted to experience life at its fullest...from buying 10 different kinds of candy from the Dollar Store to sneak into the movies to downloading one trillion songs onto her Ipod. She was one of the prettiest people ever...with sparkling hazel eyes and naturally curly brunette hair. She loved helping others...her latest project was laying down the hardwood floors in my parent's new home. She ate up little kids...even ones who couldn't speak her language. We called each other "whoes" SP?? for the fun of it...not because of the reality...she kept herself pure for her true Prince. She, like me, loved to eat...especially anything Mom made, from Never-Fail Chocolate Cake to big ol' steaks. She loved any and every romantic comedy ever made...including: "How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days," "Sweet Home Alabama," "The Family Stone," "The Wedding Planner," and those a bit more sad, like "The Notebook" and "A Walk to Remember." We agreed that a good cry was sometimes just plain therapeutic. She loved to drive fast in her convertible with the top down and her hair blowing in the wind, with the music playing as loudly as possible. She loved the rain and I am sure the perfect proposal for her would be to have her man dance with her in the rain and then get down on one knee in order to win her forever. She loved "Acambaro" Mexican food and any other Mexican place that had kickin' salsa. She had to have her coffee fix every morning, as long as the caffeine was appropriately mixed with Splenda and CoffeeMate. She loved her dog, Bruiser, and he adored her. Kiley was passionate about storing up her treasures in Heaven. We often joked with her, telling her that she spent more on her church and people's needs than on herself. She loved sports, especially going to cheer the Hogs on at Football games. All of the "girls" in my family love the beach and last August we got to go down to Gulf Shores for a week, just the four of us. That week will be one of my most priceless memories ever. She and I ate those "non-beheaded" shrimp like they were going out of style while Mom and Amelia looked on with disgust. We shared a love of key lime pie and the same taste in clothing. Last time I was in her closet, I saw at least two things that I had almost bought (when by myself)---same color and everything. We both hated our thighs and kept those babies brown in the summer to hide the cellulite. Kiley had a love for Beth Moore and all of her Bible studies. I think they opened her eyes to how rich and marvelous God's word is. It almost tore me in two when I saw that Beth Moore's 2nd daughter got married the day I buried my sister. Some things just don't seem fair. Kiley lived in Conway for two years while finishing up school at UCA. I was on a spaghetti and homemade meatball kick and she joyfully would come over to help eat it all up. Those two years were a gift from God. My boys, Cade, Eli, and Sam loved their KiKi (long I's--like pie) and I later adopted that name for myself and started calling her that as well. I loved being her sister: teaching her to show cattle, doing her makeup for proms, hosting her UCA graduation celebration, and on and on. I ache because I longed for the day of being an Aunt to her kids and getting to dress them up and play with them as she had done with mine. I wanted to take road trips with she and her future husband and stay up way too late playing Spades. I wanted to grow spiritually with her and simply grow old together. The aches of what could have been have to be transferred to the hope of what will be in heaven. She is still my sister and she is still a world that is far more glorious than our present one. Cade seemed to wrap up my thoughts pretty well. I took him to the doctor this morning...he had fever and I was afraid it was the flu...but just a cold. As we were sitting and waiting, Cade got a big smile on his face and burst out with, "I can't wait til Heaven!!!" He then proceeded to tell me that "Jesus will either come back in 5 or 3 years...well, maybe 10...when I am 17." He has the hope of his Redeemer coming back and setting everything right, being the Just and Fair King of Kings. He has the right perspective of hope. Hope that does not disappoint.

How do I end a post on my sister, best friend, and spiritual companion? It feels like I haven't done her justice in the few words that I have written down. If you are reading this, then you have probably been in prayer for our family. I thank you from the depths of my soul. God is grace and He is all we need. We have definitely seen "Him" in all of the food, cards, phone calls, support, and ongoing prayers. May God be glorified in the days to come.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Valentine Brunch

I have been having this burning desire to do something girly...something that no man or boy in my household would be able to partake any shape or form. So, I thought it would be fun to plan a Valentine Brunch for the girls in our community group. I think the red plates I got for Christmas were the inspiration, but it all came together when I found the black and white gingham napkins to go with my new black charger you get any girlier than that? Deep, down, I just love little girl smocked dresses and big white bows and white lacy socks. But, that story is for another day. So, we girls had the opportunity to "brunch it up" for two and a half hours without the interruption of kids, men, dogs, laundry, work, or bills. And I think it was therapeutic. We talked baby names (no, not for me), recipes, 80's sitcoms, and even ringworms. It was a blast. Thank you to all who shared that time with me.

Old, New, and Things that Never Change

This piano is one of my most treasured possessions. I don't spend much time on it. It has a few notes that won't even play. It really isn't in tune. It could use a new paint job. But, it was my great-grandparent's piano, and therefore, it has a place in my heart. The story goes something like this: my great Grandma Pitts was longing for this piano and my Grandad (her son) sold a cow in order to buy it for her. He also sold a cow in order to pay for the C-Section that allowed my Mom to come into the world, but that is another story. This piano was one of the old fashioned "player" kinds, but someone along the way had that part removed. I kind of wish they hadn't. At the age of 6, I started my dreadful piano lessons on this piano. It wasn't that I didn't want to learn, I just never could get my brain and fingers to work very well together. So, after 5 or 6 years, I hung it up. Thankfully, the lessons taught me to read music and to play out parts when needed.

My son, Sam, seems to have the most musical ability out of our 3 boys. It is hard to tell at his age, but he enjoys singing and banging around on the piano. For awhile, everything he sang was to the tune of "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star." I captured his precious hands on my "antique" one day and it really got me thinking about hertitage and how God allows things to be passed on. My great grandparents were musical and loved to sing good ol' gospel songs to our Savior. They even sang together at their 75th wedding anniversary. 75 years! That is, again, another story. I don't know if my kiddos will have a natural gifting towards music or not, but I already know that the heritage of singing praise to the Father has been passed down to them. They all three "sing it up" in the car. We have various CD's that are scriptures set to music. It is a fun way to sneak in the Word of God! (Kind of of like sneaking spinach into brownies...but I just can't try that...what kind of Mother do you think I am? Maybe into lasagna, but brownies??) Back to the point, I am thankful for my Godly heritage. I am also grateful that some things never change. Jesus, true Love that comes from him, the Word that is truth...those are a few things that will always remain constant. As I get older and our world gets odder, this reality becomes more and more comforting to me.
On a side note, I am taking a photography class at UCA. Just in case you wanted to know, the second picture displays the "rules" of leading lines and the rule of thirds (to the best of my amateur ability!) I am hoping that I can at least define aperture and get off of my "auto" mode when it is all said and done! :)

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Soaring Wings Ranch

Eric and I have some hilarious friends named Donny and Becky Lockett. We met them at church, where Becky and I sing on the praise team together. They have a daughter named Lauren. A few weeks ago, Becky came to me and asked us to start praying about a possible life transition. I was almost in tears, because I didn't want one of my singing buddies to be moving away. She said it was nothing like that...but that they were considering the role of "house parents" at the girls' house at a place called Soaring Wings Ranch. I had never even heard of this ministry, so I ran home to my internet to check it out. What an amazing vision and ministry! They take up to 8 girls (and I guess 8 boys for the boy's home) and treat them like family. The vision is to build more and more houses on the 200 acres the ranch owns out-right. These kiddos range from being abused, neglected, to being in need of a strong family support structure. Donny and Becky promptly quit there jobs and headed to the big ol' town of Holland to start their new phase of life. Eric, the boys, and I headed out there last weekend to check the place out. All I have to say is WOW! This ministry thought of everything when it came to building this home. There are 2 dishwashers, 2 ovens, 2 washers and dryers, 6 humongous bedrooms that sleep about 2 each, personal bathrooms, and even a study room with desks for everyone and windows into the room so the "parents" can keep on eye on things. I think if I were a kid that came from a shaky background, I would about wet my pants the first time I stepped into the house. "You mean this is for me? I get the opportunity to live here and be loved and treated with dignity? What did I ever do to deserve such a thing?" (I think my response will be like this when I get to heaven!)
This ministry is not government funded in any way; they "survive" based on giving from normal people like you and me. God has blessed the upstart of this place of hope and I imagine he will continue to do more and more that seems impossible to human eyes. I don't know why God has softened my heart towards this ministry so much, but I find myself praying for these children that live there...that God would redeem, heal, and comfort these kids. If you want more info. on this, then visit

Things I Didn't and Did Want to Know

This is a random post, but I have in the past few months come across some facts that freaked me know, the kind of things you really wished you had never learned. I thought I would share these, but I decided to balance them out with facts that are kind of fun knowing! Enjoy!

Things I didn't want to know:
1. You should avoid the salad bar at restaurants because of all the dead skin that floats around in the air.
2. Dentists recommend that a toothbrush be kept at least 6 ft. away from a toilet to avoid airborne particles resulting from the flush.
3. The oreo cookie is one of the worst things you can eat...the state of California is trying to ban them because of the high level of trans fats. (This is very depressing for me!)
4. To burn off one plain M&M candy, you need to walk the full length of a football field. (And why is it that I don't weigh in at 395 pounds??)
5. Our eyes are always the same size from birth, but our nose and ears never stop growing. (This is scary for our kiddos--big ears from Martens and big noses from Stuarts!)
6. In the US--for every dollar you spend on gasoline--27 cents of it is in taxes. (Ugh!)

OK---some fun things to know!
1. The average housewife walks 10 miles a day around the house doing her chores!!!
2. Women have a slightly higher average IQ than men. (This one may be a no-brainer!)
3. Only 1% of Bacteria causes disease. (This is comforting as you haul your kids to school.)
4. Donkeys kill more people annually than plane crashes. (Random, but good info. when your husband flies all the time.)
5. You burn more calories sleeping than you do watching television. (I knew I liked sleep for some reason!)

Have a great day!!!

Monday, February 4, 2008

Thoughts from a stay-at-home theologian

I love the beach. I love the sound of waves and the glory of God that is displayed in the powerful ocean. I love the sunsets, the feeling of sand between my toes, and the heat beating down on me. I love to watch the little kids build sand castles. I love to read good books while undisturbed. I love to pray while in some of the most beautiful of God's settings. Something God showed me last year at the beach was that His grace is all sufficient. Maybe I should just believe it instead of asking for more of it. Since then, He has started to show me that when He declares Himself as Jehovah Rapha, He is not saying He can heal as much as saying that He IS healing. When he says he is Jehovah Jireh, he isn't saying he provides as much as saying that He IS provision. He is all we need. We should seek Him when we want wisdom, for He IS wisdom. He is GRACE, HOLINESS, LIGHT, the WORD, TRUTH. He is all we need. I think this is hard for me and possibly other Americans to really believe. We are bombarded with so many ads for so many "things" that we are told we need. We are comfortable, not wanting for food, shelter, or clothing. And yet, in reality, He is all we need. I have been on a little search for the real Jesus. I feel like he is presented in different ways by various preachers...does he want me to suffer like he did; does he want to bless my socks off financially; does he even care? I finally threw my hands up one day and shouted, "Would the REAL Jesus, just please stand up!?" I have come to the conclusion of one thing: Jesus loves me, this I know. And I think that when we come to the point that we really BELIEVE that God and Jesus love us, then we can rest in His presence and have confidence that He really does have GOOD things in store for us. I did a little project today. I decided to go through the book of John...just the first three chapters and read who the real Jesus is. Here is what is listed about him, just in the first 3 chapters:

the Word (with God and WAS God)
Creator (through him all things were made)
Redeemer (gives right to become children of God)
King of Israel
SON of MAN (This is how Jesus refers to Himself)
THE temple

My favorite new way to think of Christ is the SON of MAN. I never understood this title til last fall. In Daniel 7:13-14, we see "one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory, and sovereign power; all peoples, nations, and men of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed." Since the Jewish people knew these scriptures, He knew they would know just WHO he was declaring himself to be when he called himself the Son of Man. I just love this!

Well, so much for deep thoughts by Becke'! Hope I didn't freak anyone out!

Here, our brilliant 2 year old is perusing the phone book. You see, Sam is not a discriminatory person when it comes to book selection. He usually picks out one book, carries it with him throughout the day...also into the car, and calls it his "Bible". One day he was hooked on "My Utmost for His Highest" and wouldn't let it out of his sight. Why on earth does this make me a proud Mama?? I think I have issues. :)

Sleep Stories Part II

This is Eli, asleep on two kitchen chairs that have been pushed together. We had some friends over for dinner and games one night and Cade and Eli were enjoying playing with an "older" girl...a whoppin' 9 year old, mind you! Well, around 8:30, Eli started running fever and so we drugged him and told him to go lay down. He would have nothing of the sort, scared to death he might miss out on some of fun. They were playing "The Land Before Time" dinosaur board game that HE got for his birthday, and I am sure that he wanted to monitor everything. Well, I really think he just didn't want to miss out on any fun!! So, around 9, I peeked at them and Eli is sprawled across two kitchen chairs, asleep as can be as the other two were playing. I love how his booty is sticking straight up...this is his normal sleep position. (Sorry the pic is sideways!)