Good, Great, Awesome, Amazing, Wonderful, Incredible...nothing describes Him well enough.

Money is tight right now. I quit work 2 weeks ago to vacation and get ready for my new job and I won't see another paycheck until the end of September. So, that's roughly 2 months of a mortgage payment, car payment and all those other lovely pieces of paper called "bills". We are trying to save as much money as possible. Trying is the key word because it seems like anytime you try to save money, unexpected expenses come up and you just can't save like you want to. As my dad would say, "Welcome to the real world."

We usually tithe at the middle or end of the month. That's just the way it works out with our budget and bills. On the first Sunday in June, I was sitting in church and felt the need to write a check for half of our tithe amount. Even though it wasn't what we normally do and we didn't have the money to do it, it's what the Holy Spirit was telling me to do and I couldn't say no. I've learned that when He bugs you about something, you can't say no. There is no choice, a quick "yes" is the only answer you have. So, I whispered to Brent what I was doing and he okayed it and I put it in the bucket during the offering. The next day, we received a letter from our insurance company telling us they credited our account $167. The letter did not explain why, but it didn't matter. We chose to be faithful to God, because He has always been faithful to us, and He provided and blessed us in return.

It's the end of the month and we spent more money then we usually do in July due to weddings, traveling, and a vacation. I admit I was tempted to not tithe. It would make it a lot easier to make ends meet in August if we had extra money. On Tuesday in the Bible study I am doing with the high school girls, the chapter we read in Crazy Love was about giving...our money and our time. There was a story of a man who consistently gave 20% of his income to the Church. When his income dropped drastically, he didn't decrease his giving. He actually increased it to 30%. And, of course, the Lord was faithful to him. When I was tempted to not give this month, I realized that I'd be one lousy example to these girls if I'm encouraging them to have faith yet I have none. I remembered the previous story and I also remembered a quote from Crazy Love, "When it's hard and you are doubtful, give more." It was hard and I was doubtful, but the Holy Spirit was bugging me again. I wrote a check and sent it in the mail today. This afternoon, I was in the kitchen cooking chicken fajitas (yummo) when Brent walked in with a letter from the city's utility department. I was thinking, "Great, another expense." Because we have paid our bill on time for the past 2 years, they are giving us part of our deposit back with interest which will be applied to our account. You can't say it's just coincidence. It's just God being Himself, which is a pretty powerful thing. I'm not surprised. I think it's more of a WOW factor than a surprise. But, again, I am amazed and humbled by the truth of His Word and by His love for me. I'm going to put the letter somewhere in my house as a reminder that God is ALWAYS faithful and has never and will never fail to provide for me. I hope this motivates you to say yes next time He bugs you about something...it's for His glory and you will be blessed.

"You shall give to him freely, and your heart shall not be grudging when you give to him, because for this the LORD your God will bless you in all your work and all that you undertake."
Deut 15:10 (ESV)


This is not church, this is Church's Chicken

On our way home from the beach (Fort Morgan) last Sunday, we stopped at THE most fine dining establishment and I've GOT to tell you about it. We left around 10:30 am, which meant finding a lunch spot would be a tricky one because if we ate while still on 59, we'd be eating too early and if we waited until we got to Greenville or Montgomery, we would be starving. So we had to eat somewhere in between. Where? Atmore, AL! Now, I've never been to Atmore before and we didn't go far into town, so I'm only making comments based on my experiences at this particular establishment. The appetizing exit of choice was the Wind Creek Casino exit (if you are familiar with I-65 in South Alabama). Mom thought we weren't dressed nice enough to eat at the restaurant in the casino. So, our options were RJ's BBQ and the Creek Family Restaurant that mom had eaten at before and said it wasn't good (surprise surprise). As excited as we could be, we got off the interstate and began looking for RJ's, which was only .6 of a mile according to the sign. We drove and drove and drove...far past .6 of a mile and never saw it.

Background info: we were in two vehicles and each had a walkie talkie we used to communicate and make decisions. In our van was Driver Brent, mom, Granny Rosie, and me. In the other van was Driver Dad, Ben, Quinton, and TH. Dad had already decided it was in his best interest to allow me to decide where to eat in order to avoid the "pregnancy attitude of disapproval" (of course, he made that decision long before we realized we only had one option...RJ's).

Back to the story--So we are driving down the road realizing that RJ's is no where to be found and we are headed into the middle of no where, and our chances of finding a place to eat are getting slimmer and slimmer. The boys didn't care what we did, I hate making decisions, my mom was reading her book, and Granny Rosie just wanted us to make a decision. In the meantime we kept driving. My mom has that notion about her that maybe, just maybe, if you keep driving you'll come upon a town that will have places to eat; so we do as she says and "see what's over that hill." And we came upon Atmore. If it were up to me, I would drive around the entire town, see what there is to offer, then make a decision about where to eat. I like to be well informed. Who knows, although highly unlikely, there could have been a Moe's or Panera Bread. Instead, Driver Brent pulls into the first restaurant we see...Church's Chicken, which was perfect because it was Sunday. I was hesitant from the start. We walked in and we were all looking for a bathroom...and there wasn't one. If it's not inside, the only place it can be is, yep you guessed it, outside. Similar to the nasty outdoor gas station bathrooms that never get cleaned because they are "out of sight, out of mind." Maybe this is selfish, but I felt better that I went after my grandmother and mom because I felt like they soaked up the dirty germs before I got in there. But I'm sure those germs were so intense in that bathroom that nothing could be done to sanitize it. The bathrooms in the middle of no where Mexico were cleaner than this one. It was one of those bathrooms where I felt that I would be more sanitary if I didn't wash my hands. The less time I had to be in there, the better. So after hand sanitizer and 3 Wet Ones, I ate my white meat chicken basket with mashed potatoes and a biscuit. Well, more like I picked at my food with my nose turned up. Wow, I sound stuck up...but I'm just a huge germophobe thanks to Mrs. Stanley and her unit on germs in 2nd grade. I was sure there had to be a better place to eat, until I saw all the church folks coming in at exactly noon to get their bucket of chicken family meal. It's a happenin' place on Sunday's. We quickly finished our meal, had another round of hand sanitizer and Wet Ones, and headed back towards the interstate. We were determined to find RJ's BBQ so we could know what we missed out on. Turns out that RJ's is in a gas station, right by the interstate...if it had been any closer to the interstate, it would have been sitting on top of it. It wasn't like a Subway that shares a building with a gas station; no, BBQ from a gas station. Surprisingly, I think we got the better end of the deal.

I have included this link of a Rickey Smiley (comedian) prank call about a lady who calls into Church's Chicken thinking it's a church. I would stop at 1:42. You can continue to listen at your own discretion...there is a dirty word at the end. Enjoy!


Family Food Portrait Week 14 and 15

I have failed miserably at my new tradition. Maybe I shouldn't have started it, but now that I have...I must keep going. Otherwise, one lonesome family photo of us with a lime is just lame. So, here goes week 14 (a lemon) and week 15 (an apple). I had great intentions with the lemon. I actually bothered to go to the store to buy ONE lemon. But last week got the best of me between finishing up my old job, getting started on my new job, and preparing for a week at the beach. So my lemon (the actual lemon, not the baby--that would be slightly impossible) sits lonely at home and I'm here at the beach with something other than a lemon or apple. I'm a little on the burnt side, so I went with my mom and Brent to the outlet stores today, instead of soaking in the sun all day. I was all excited about the Motherhood Maternity outlet. Smaller prices means it's easier to justify spending a small fortune on clothes that I will only wear for short period of time. I know I know, I will have other children and can wear the clothes again. But I'm sure I'll be preggo during another season, that would be my luck. Although the selection was greater than the actual MM stores in the malls, I was so very disappointed with the prices. I'm convinced they were higher than the non-outlet MM stores. At the least, they were not cheaper than the regular stores. I paid $40 dollars for a pair of jeans. I have NEVER done that in my life. My rule for jeans is $30 or less (unless, of course, someone is buying them for me). My mom convinced me to buy them, however, because they were the perfect length and length has been such a struggle for me when buying maternity clothes. Length is always an issue for me anyway, becuase I'm too tall for petite/short and too short for regular. If you are male, I'm sure you don't care. None of the talk about MM is all that important, I just wanted to share my frustration with you. I will say that a trip to the outlet mall that is usually an all day affair, is really cut short when there is only one store you can shop in :) After shopping, we went to Milo's for lunch. Probably my least favorite place to eat. For those of you not from the Ham or have no experience with Milo's...it's not just really sweet tea that you buy in the grocery stores. It's a fast food hamburger place that has their own "special sauce" that they pour all over your burger. Their theme song says, "Everybody goes to Milo's" but the song should say, "Almost everybody goes to Milo's." I'm not a fan, but it was either that or some chicken place and I didn't win. As my mom and Brent ate an apple pie, we discussed going to Wal-Mart to get a lemon and an apple for the family portraits. Then it dawned on us that we could do without Wal-Mart produce (nothing against Wal-Mart produce, I just don't like going there) and use the pie boxes instead, which so conveniently have pictures of lemons and apples on them. Wal-Mart still enjoyed a visit from us to get chocolate pop-tarts and a fishing license (which Brent still doesn't have thanks to the dept of transportation, but that's for another post). Here's the family pictures:

Week 14 Lemon. I'm covering the box so you can only see the lemon. BTW, we are on the longest pier on the Gulf Coast. It opened today after Bob Riley cut the ribbon. We're not fanatics or anything of piers. The weather was a little overcast, so we checked out the pier. Fish guts and rednecks galore.
"The pier is for fishing, not french kissing!" Name that movie.

Week 15 Apple. From the left: Me, Ben (brother), Brent, TH (cousin). Ben and TH are 100% redneck and proud of it.

So I realized tonight how much I LOVE seafood when I couldn't eat any of it! We went to our favorite restuarant down here, Shrimp Basket, and I always get shrimp skewers and crab claws. Not tonight. Chicken fingers for me please :)

Random: Babycenter.com (which provides all my baby updates, including the food for the week) informed me yesterday, on my Week 15 update, that I had "probably gained 5 pounds." Please! Wouldn't that be wonderful if I had only gained 5 pounds by now?!


Week 13

This week, this is as good as it gets. Of course, it would be my course of fate to start a new tradition and ruin it the 2nd week. The baby is the size of a medium shrimp. Now, there has been some confusion. Yes, a lime seems bigger than a medium shrimp. Babycenter.com is talking about length, so the lime was 2 1/2 inches and the shrimp is 3 inches. And the "bump" picture. Well, there isn't one for 13 weeks. Just trust me on this one...the bump is growing. And all of this food information changes tomorrow. I'll be 14 weeks tomorrow and starting my 2nd trimester. I'm so behind.

Here's what's going on in my life right now. Hopefully, this will help you understand why we haven't taken a family food portrait. First of all, I haven't been a typical teacher this summer, work still goes on from 6:30 am-4:30 pm everyday. Last week, I went out of town for Rebecca's wedding in Dothan. I left on Thursday night, so beforehand I had to make sure clothes were washed and Brent had food. The wedding weekend was SUPER fun! I had such a good time hanging out with my Cohort C girls from Auburn. However, for my exhausted growing body, I grew very tired very quickly. After 7 hours down and 7 hours back home, I returned on Sunday with a huge lack of sleep and a wonderful sinus infection. But that is the least of my problems. You see, it's tradition at the "Cohort C" weddings (the 4 girls that were in all my education classes with me) to dance to Hanson's "MmmBop" in a really loud, annoying fashion. Our signature dance move is jumping with one hand in the air, while we belt out "mmmbop, ba ba doo wop..." Many of you are probably wondering why I jumped while being preggo. I don't have an answer, but I do know that my baby will love to dance. Poppyseed has now been to 2 dance receptions in his/her lifetime and had LOTS of fun! Anyway, it's Tuesday and my calves are still recovering from jumping so much. I never realized how much I desperately need my calf muscles. Now, I've had sore muscles before from working out and what not. But it has NEVER been this painful. Anytime I have been sitting or lying down for any length of time, I first have to get my balance with my back hung over then I start walking. It's really more like a 100-year-old-woman-walking-really-slow-through-the Wal-Mart-parking-lot kind of waddle. I look ridiculous. My right calf is about 100 times worse than the left, so I also limp. I can't cross my legs and I can't even touch my calves for the screaming pain that is a result. And no matter how much I try to walk it out, I am convinced it's only getting worse. So moving on...I get home Sunday night and got in the bed at...drum roll... 1 am. I get up at...another drum roll...5:30 am. Surprisingly, I was FULL of energy yesterday at work. I had so much energy that after work, I went straight to the church to start working on my classroom until 10 pm. The exhaustion hit me today at work. I took a nap as soon as I got home for about 2 hours then I had Bible study at 7. So I'm here now, in the bed, blogging and checking email in between loads of laundry. My schedule for the rest of the week is crazy...Wednesday: work, classroom, youth service, classroom. Thursday: last day of work, classroom, pack for weekend mission trip. Friday: youth mission trip to a conference in the Ham. Saturday: back home, pack for beach, then back to the Ham. Sunday: AHHH beach for a week :)

Icing on the cake: Sanibel needs surgery to correct her Medial Patellar Luxation. If it's not one thing, it's always another.

Also, I received another Baby VK gift at Rebecca's wedding. She gave me a white bonnet for Baby VK to wear home from the hospital. Rebecca wrote a sweet note that said the bonnet was similar to the one she wore home from the hospital, and now it was her "something old" and one day it can be my daughter or daughter-in-law's "something old." Of course, I fell apart (no, it's not the pregnancy hormones. That reaction is pretty typical of me preggo or not) . I couldn't read the note and I could barely look at the bonnet. As soon as she handed it to me, the floodgates opened up and tears poured down my face--just imagining that I already have my child's "something old" and it's from a dear friend of mine. It really got to me and I thought it was such a sweet and precious idea. I don't have a picture yet. But it will be posted sometime in the future. Thank you Rebecca!


Family Food Portrait Week 12

I get fetal development updates every week from babycenter.com. The updates always compare the size of the baby to a type of food. Brent had the creative idea of taking family pictures with the food items each week. This week, our sweet poppyseed has grown to the size of a lime.

I usually have Bible study with the high school girls on Tuesday nights. But, I had to move it to tonight due to a family emergency on Tuesday (Brent's dad is in the hospital with a bad Staph infection). So, I took a picture with some of Baby VK's future babysitters. From left to right: Paige, Mary, Me, Tori, Whitney, and Katie. Notice that Sanibel is trying to eat the baby.

No pregnancy would be complete without belly pictures. So, here I am at 12 weeks. And, yes, those are Powerpuff Girl pajama pants that I have had since 9th grade. They are my favorite PJ pants in the whole wide world and I especially love them now for the elastic waist :)


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