Wednesday, March 30, 2011


Let me just tell you a little about how the Lord has used others to bless us in the last 2 weeks.  It is truly unbelievable.  Randy came home today with this very nice "teacher" chair for me that his work gave him.  I am so excited.  I have been using a folding chair and was quite happy with it and Now.....I have a really fancy and really comfy chair!  I didn't even know I wanted one....but I sure am blessed to have it! then Randy's parents came over and asked if I would get The Baby's birthday gift from of course I said yes!  I LOVE shopping and Ruth does that works out well!  So she gave me the money and I headed off to my most favorite kid store, Learning Express, and had all sorts of fun picking out goodies for THE BABY'S BIRTHDAY from Grammy and Pepa.  And guess what?  They were having a I got ALL 3 buckets....FREE with my purchase!  Yes I did say FREE!

I blessed am I?
Yesterday I also got to take my 5 kids and myself out to lunch at Chilli's.  I got a coupon for 2 free kids meals with each adult meal purchase.  The timing was perfect!  We have been working on our manners and this gave us a great chance to practice.  The kids did great and it was a lot of fun and such a special treat.

Andrew and I ordered off the adult menu and even got an appetizer.
The kids all got to order their own meal and drink (we usually make them share)
They were very excited!

It is so fun to have special treats to break up the monotony sometimes!
We would not have been able to do something like this usually but that coupon made it possible for all of us to eat out and practice our manners for less then a fast food meal!

Yes there is more.....

We came home from our special lunch out and had a surprise visit from some dear friends from church and they were bearing gifts!
3 HUGE bags and 1 HUGE crate of little girl clothes.....THANK YOU DAWN!
What a blessing these clothes are to us.  My girls LOVE to go through them and enjoy the MANY treasures you so generously give to us.
This is why I spend NO money on clothing.
I am really overwhelmed with how God uses people bless us!

No I am still not done:

On Thursday at Co-op
One of my Co-op Mommy friends GAVE me a sewing machine!  Yes ma'am you heard me right....GAVE it to me.  Now this is so nice....

I do not sew...but I really want to and now I can learn.  I am VERY excited!
I have been wanting to get one....but didn't want to spend the money

Can you even believe this....

Then last Sunday at church my sweet friend, Jill, gave me ALL these WONDERFUL books to read.  She is so sweet to know how much I like to read and then loan me not just books....but WONDERFUL books to read and she knows it will take me forever to read them all and said to just take my time.  How sweet is she!
Blessing upon blessing!

AND it all started last Sunday when we got a phone call from some people that are VERY dear to us and they were wondering if they could "just stop by and see the kids for a minute".  I said, "Sure".  Well without going into further details I'll just say that was the right answer!  Our drop by visitor blessed us with a very generous and very unexpected monetary gift.....because they had been blessed and just wanted to bless us.
To think that I would dare to worry about God's provision.  He doesn't just provide, faithfully through Randy's job, but he has absolutely spoiled us rotten.

He is good and the way he has brought people into our lives and lavished us over the last few weeks is unbelievable. 

I just had to share!

Monday, March 28, 2011

The Weekend


Guess What?  My new workboxes arrived and I spent Saturday setting them up!!!!  Fun, fun, fun!


Sweet Randy put a new cover on our sandbox!!!!
Which I've been wanting for some time!!!

So I am a happy camper!

Then we went to my brother and his son (Gray's) Birthday Celebration!  It was a superhero party.....they started off by making masks!

Who is that masked man?

We had dinner and cake!  Holly made an awesome superhero cake.  She is AmAzInG!

The Birthday Boys!

Then they all dressed up!

We had a van full of pooped puppies by the time we headed home.

I didn't get a picture of Twinkie Girl in her mask.....but she REALLY liked hers....she even wore it to church on Sunday!

I love the weekends!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Pondering Passages

Ephesians 1:15-23
“For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church,  which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.”

This passage was difficult for me to understand.  I finally understood it better after I read it in The Message (which I think is a paraphrase.....but maybe it's a translation?)  First I'll put the passage in words that I understand.....

This is Paul writing a letter to the Ephesian church and he is telling them how thankful he is that they have a solid trust in Christ and that they are demonstrating their love for other Christians.  He tells them he is praying for them.  He goes on to tell them specifically how he is praying:
1. He thanks God for them....every time he prays.
BUT he does more then thank
2.  He asks God for them:  to KNOW him, to SEE what he is calling them to do, and to GRASP this life he has for his followers.  I sure would like to have someone praying for me like that!

Then it's like Paul is overwhelmed with Jesus....he is excited....he is giddy.....he is IN LOVE with Christ.  He starts spouting off about Christ's attributes: his endless energy, his boundless strength, the unbelievable way he works in us.  He talks about Christs power and his rule.   Paul is a bit ENTHUSIASTIC.

Paul seems to randomly leap from prayers for the believers to awesomeness of Christ to the Church?
Paul points out something I had never thought of....the church is NOT a side note to the world.....the world is a side note to the church.  Christ is about his CHURCH. 

So.....what does this teach me???  A LOT!
It teaches me to be thankful for the saints.  I am surrounded by saints and it is a blessing.  I am not nearly grateful enough for these precious beams of light God has surrounded me with.  I also need to take seriously the responsibility to not only thank God for these saints but to pray that they will KNOW Christ better, SEE what Christ is calling them to do, and GRASP the life he has for his followers.
That is the cry of my heart.....I do want to KNOW HIM, I do want to SEE his plan for me, and I want to GRASP the life he has for me.

You can see how Paul KNOWS Christ....he's like a middle school girl with Justin Bieber....IN LOVE!
He can't stop talking about him.....he's the word's of Randy....."he's a God Stalker".
The only way to catch that "fever" is to study him.....listen to him.....become immersed in him.  It is easy to see Paul was....and easy to see I am not!

When you know know what they love.  Christ loves His Church.  So Paul in what may seem a random fashion moves from Christ to his Church.  However it really isn't so random.  Paul KNOWS Christ and so he KNOWS Christ's heart is the church.  The church is so essential to Christ it is called "his body".  In scripture we are told "he gave himself up for the church".  The church is a BIG DEAL to Christ.  No I don't think he is talking about RBC per se....or a building campaign.....or our worship music preference or our programs.....but rather the universal church.  The body of believers.  Why is this so important?  Why is this everything? 
Well the question I feel Christ is posing to me is this:
How else will people KNOW me?
You are the body?  Why aren't your hands moving?
In the words of my second favorite Rabbi...."I'm just saying"
So convicting.....and yes I do LONG TO KNOW HIM.

Thursday, March 24, 2011


Well the highlight of our day (week, month) without a doubt was seeing JASON AND CHARITY!!!!

The little ones were thrilled!  It's been about 2 and half months since we've seen them and boy have my kids missed them!  So needless to say today was delightful. 
The kids have asked lots of questions over the last few months about where Jason and Charity are going and why they are leaving.

TWINKIE BOY was so cute.  He asked Charity, "if she was going to tell the whole world about Jesus?"  She said she was going to tell the people in Slovakia but that she needed his help she couldn't tell everyone!  She is planting seeds in his heart and mind!  THANK YOU!

They were all smiles!

Jason surprised THE BOY during Spanish class and boy was he surprised!

Jason couldn't get over how much THE BOY had grown up in the few short months he had been gone. 

Then they went to see THE GIRL.....

My girl LOVES Charity.  She had the same reaction I did.  She cried.  She couldn't put her feelings into words.  I know she like me was so happy to have a  final unexpected goodbye.  I know she was so happy to see her Charity one more time.  I know she loved getting one more hug.  I know she was also sad.  It's hard to let someone you love go.
THE GIRL had a look of sheer joy and RAN and hugged Charity.  Then she got all teary eyed and snuggled up for a picture.  When Jason suggested THE GIRL get in between them for the picture she just snuggled in closer to Charity.  She LOVES Charity.
We are going to miss Jason and Charity.
I am so proud of them!  They are brave and they are obedient and they are sacrificing for Christ.

"How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring Shalom" Isaiah 57:2

I love you guys.  I WILL MISS YOU and I WILL PRAY FOR YOU.  I cannot wait to see what the Lord is going to do through you guys!!!!!

I will love ya'll forever!  Thank you for sharing your lives with us!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Cleaning Up and Inside and Out!

So.....Today I have been CLEANING out.  Our Sunday School Class is trying to raise money for a Toy Drive to help provide toys for needy children and so I started cleaning to look for stuff to donate.  I purged the entire school room and even re-arranged it was fun.  I found all sorts of things I had forgotten about.

I sorted the books........

I cleaned out the files...rearranged the furniture

and now I have an empty I ordered new verticle workboxes....and I am soooooo excited!

While I worked inside THE BOY and MY MAN cut the grass!
Thanks guys!!!!

As I cleaned of course I pondered life.  I'm WAY too in my head and think about and analyze EvErYtHiNg!  So I have been pondering a parenting issue lately and today I had an epiphany.  It was actually very freeing and very exciting.  So I'm going to share it :)

I am often disappointed when my children sin.  I think this is probably normal but in the past I've been overwhelmed with making sure I KNOW what my kids are reading, watching, talking about, looking at, doing....etc.  and when any of these things don't meet my standards I get upset and dole out punishment and wonder where I went wrong.

 I do think it is important to be plugged in and I do think it is important to keep close watch over your "flock" "catching" my kids in their sin doesn't need to be my focus.  I pray I do catch them.  I pray I am plugged in but catching is not the issue. 

Behavior modification has also been a focus for me.  When I see misbehavior I want it modified......... IMMEDIATELY!!!!  People often comment on how patient I must be to have so many children.  HA!  The jokes on me. I am NOT patient....but I can assure you the Lord is using these children to develop a patience in me :)


I want my children to obey.  Which is important.  Very important but again....I think there is something even more important then behaving.   This was my epiphany:  My sinful little children need EXACTLY what their sinful Mama needs: JESUS!  The closer I am in my relationship to Christ the less a hold sin has on me.  I think the same is true for my children.  Especially as they get older and have their own relationships with Christ.  I don't need to CHANGE my kids I need to bring my kids to Christ and let HIM change them. 

I need to pray, correct, love, model, administer discipline, lavish them with grace, love them, enjoy them....but most of all I need to show them Jesus.  I need to pray they want to know him.  I need to pray not only for their salvation but for their love of Christ to GROW.  This is going to change their hearts and that is what needs to be changed. 

So....this is probably rambly and way too random....but it was exciting to me :)

Hope you all are enjoying this BEAUTIFUL Day!!!!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Pondering Patrick!

If you know the Stewart Clan....than you probably know that we all LOVE a good party.  I particularly have been known to make up reasons to celebrate.  To me parties are like the sprinkles of life.  They add color, fun, and ta-da to otherwise normal days.  So I decided we needed to celebrate St. Patrick's Day this year....but first we needed to find out why....
So in my research I found this post at Focus on the Family concerning St. Patrick.  I've included it because I found it very informative and very inspiring:

"It’s widely known that St. Patrick was actually not Irish. He was born in Britain. When he was 16 he was captured by thieves looting his parent’s estate. He was taken to Ireland and enslaved for six years, escaped and retreated back to Britain. Although some accounts of his life differ, the History Channel summed up the remaining years of post-enslavement life this way:celticcross.jpg
Soon after (his escape), Patrick began religious training, a course of study that lasted more than fifteen years. After his ordination as a priest, he was sent to Ireland with a dual mission-to minister to Christians already living in Ireland and to begin to convert the Irish.
Familiar with the Irish language and culture, Patrick chose to incorporate traditional ritual into his lessons of Christianity instead of attempting to eradicate native Irish beliefs. For instance, he used bonfires to celebrate Easter since the Irish were used to honoring their gods with fire. He also superimposed a sun, a powerful Irish symbol, onto the Christian cross to create what is now called a Celtic cross, so that veneration of the symbol would seem more natural to the Irish.
So there is Saint Patrick, a man ahead of his time, attempting to be real and relevant, climbing inside the pagan worldview of another country and culture in order to gain credibility and win converts for Christ. "

WOW!  That speaks my heart.  Now I just love me some St. Patrick!  How cool was he?  Meeting people where they were.  Not just any people but people who had enslaved him.  Whoa!  Yep....they had kidnapped him, enslaved him....and yet he went back....and didn't try to change them but met them where they were and INVESTED in them and became RELEVANT to them.  And to think I just wanted a reason to party.....
So yes....we are going to have special St. Patrick's Day after dinner treats...

and yes we are going to make cool preschool crafts.....

and yes we are definitely donning green today.....BUT we will also be having a very cool family time tonight discussing how we like St. Patrick can be daring and brave and real and relevant to reach the world for Christ! 

I am still Pondering and I am feeling VERY loved and VERY cherished by my Father.  God awed me this week in how he worked in our family...BUT I'm not ready to post about that yet.....SO I decided to post on St. Patrick today instead.

A few funnies I want to remember from today:
In my attempt to be Irish I made Brussel Sprouts for dinner:

my family assured me that potatoes would be Irish enough next year! :)


The Twinkies and The Baby cannot for the life of them say "Saint Patrick's Day" they have been telling everyone it is "Green Patrick Day"

So from my family to yours "Happy Green Patrick Day!"

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Just Life

Life is slowing down in my neck of the woods and I must admit I am enjoying the change of pace. 
We've had our cheerleading and basketball awards ceremony...which was a lot of fun!
Which also more games on Saturdays or practices on Monday night!!!
The girls got to do a cheer on stage and my little girls LOVED that.  The 2 younguns are NOT shy!

THE GIRL really misses Basketball.  She had a fantastic coach and really seems to have a gift and passion for playing ball...who would have guessed.  She averaged 14 points a game.....and a lot of rebounds, assists, and steals too!

Jackson liked playing basketball too....but he REALLY liked making friends!  He is a people person:

We've ended our year at Odyssey.  Which means no more all day Saturday's or all morning Monday's or all the in-between practices....ahhh....TIME

Will I coach next year?  That is the question!

I want to say...NO

The oppurtunity to INVEST hours in your teenage son and his peer group and them WANT to hang out with you.....doesn't come around but so often.  Is there a cost.....YES.....Is it worth it....PROBABLY!

So with all my extra time.....I've been doing SCHOOL....especially's catch up TIME!
Yes....I do let them sit on the table :)

We've been adjusting to life with a teenager!

We've been watching THE BOY grow way too fast.....He's been on the go.....middle school formals. 
Getting braces....ahhh......tooooooooooo  FAST!

the kids have spent MANY hours out in the backyard.

we've been watching with delight as the daffodils we planted this fall come bursting forth!  LOVE SPRING!

We've been having fashion crisis.....what to day it's cold and one day it's hot.  TWINKIE BOY may be on to something with this look.

The days are still full but I like the change of pace!

Happy spring!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Things that Make you go Hmmmmmm

It's you know what that means: Pondering Passages with Shay.

This week we pondered Galatians 2:20
"I have been crucified with Christ, I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.  The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me."

As I pondered this once again familiar passage I noticed several phrases  that confused me.
From the get go: "I have been crucified with Christ" seemed strange.  I know Christ was crucified for me and I know that my sin was nailed to the cross....but I don't think I knew that I was crucified with Christ....and I'm not sure I completely get what that means. 

So I started reading the verses around it....and there are all these verses about the law...and being justified by faith...not by observing the law. 

As I wrestled with this phrase several things became apparent. 
First off, Paul was not saying he was literally crucified with Christ....because he wasn't. 
However it is also equally apparent that Paul is identifying with Christ's death. 
Taking all this in context with the surrounding verses I think Paul is saying....When Christ was was our bondage to the law.  We are not slaves to the law.  We are FREE because the price Jesus paid!  In a sense I think Paul was dying to himself, his sinfulness, and to the law. 

"I no longer live but Christ lives in me"
This to me reinforces the earlier idea of Paul saying "I've died to myself"'s as if he is saying, "now it's not about is all about Christ."

 "the life I live in the body"  just clarifies that he is still literally alive.
"I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me."
To this I say...
Do I live out this kind of faith?
 Do I walk around in my flesh and live with my faith firmly planted in my Savior?
Or is my faith in circumstances, other people, familiar surroundings, financial security, health....where is my faith?
"who loved me and gave himself for me."
I can honestly say he is the only person who has ever died for me.  He is the only person who loved me so much he gave himself up to a shameful, disgraceful, embarrassing, humiliating death....for me. 

Yes my Mama might die for me....Randy might die for me.....but Jesus DID die for me.  AMAZING LOVE. 


So where does that leave me?  What do I have in my life that needs to be crucified?   In whom is my faith....or should I say in what is my faith? What is too much of a sacrifice for this God and Savior who died for me?  Who lives in me?  Christ or my own selfish desires?
Unfortunately some of these questions don't require much pondering on my part!  I have so much of self in me I make my own self sick! I can't imagine how it must make a perfect, holy, always good God feel who doesn't just love me....but gave his own Son for me.  I did NOTHING to earn this love.  I did NOTHING to deserve this love.  I can do NOTHING to lose this love.  Who is this Savior?  Ohhhh I long to KNOW him!

Love spending time in the word.  Good stuff!
I would love to hear others thoughts as well.  I am just a ponderer.  I DON"T know all this stuff....I'm just learning and I hope I'm not too far off base.  Please don't take my word as TRUTH (I am so not a professional) please PONDER for yourself!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Tastey Tuesday

So today I've been hanging out here at the house.  Doing a bunch of thinking.  Asking myself a bunch of questions.  Wishing I had some answers.  Feeling in limbo. 

So.....I started cooking.

I made a big ole dinner for the family.  I don't usually make such fancy dinners....but we are nearing grocery shopping day and I started trying to use up some things....and the kids were outside playing so nicely with the neighbors....that I just kept on cooking.

So for dinner we are having: meatloaf, deviled eggs, sauted squash and onions, sweet tea, green beans, and homemade Giant Cherry White Chocolate Chip Cookies....YUMMY.  I love cooking on days like this. 

As I cooked I started wishing I had new dinner ideas and new cookie recipes.  So I thought I'd share the cookie recipe I stole of My Life on the Taffy Pull blog and hope that in the comment section I could get some new cookie recipes or dinner ideas.....nothing fancy please....just regular, easy, yummy ideas :)

1 cup butter-softened
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
2 1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. apple pie spice (or 1/2 tsp. cin., 1/2 tsp. all spice & 1/4 tsp. nutmeg)
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups dried cherries-chopped
1 bag of white chocolate chips

Cream butter and sugars, add eggs and vanilla. Add next 6 ingredients, mixing well. Stir in cherries and white chocolate chips. Drop by great big spoonfuls onto a cookie sheet. Bake at 375 for 9-12 minutes. Let cookies rest on sheet of a minute after removing from oven, transfer to a wire wrack.

Happy Tuesday!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

A Journey....

Odyssey of the odyssey is defined by Webster as a "long, wandering, and eventful journey".  I would say that definitely describes our year at Odyssey.

We have been meeting since August for at least 2 hours a week....and since January....for a lot more hours a week! We have been meeting for a long time.  We have spent long hours, and we have had some long days. 

We have definitely wandered.  We've wandered from house to house for practice.  We have wandered what on earth we are doing.  We have wandered around high school campuses.  We wandered how to make an inantimate object become antimated.  We've wandered how to get a sheet to hang from PVC without sagging or falling.  We've wandered around Home Depot.  We have wandered what the outcome of regionals will be and if we will ever find out.  We've wandered what a spy, santa clause, the blue fairy, Pinochio, an ad dude, the FBI and a lawyer have to do with each other....yes we wander.

I'd say.....We started off with Nerf Wars in a church and ended up with playing cards at Chapel Hill Highschool Commons area...and we've had pizza parties, movie nights, work days, challanges, problems, issues, laughs, emails, memories, rehersals, meals, carpools, sewing classes.....yes I'd say it has been eventful!

It was not easy....but it was not bad.....It was not always was definitely an Odyssey.

We all grew, we all learned.....and now we all wait.......The Journey Continues......