“God is not a belief to which you give your assent. God becomes a reality whom you know intimately, meet everyday, one whose strength becomes your strength, whose love, your love. Live this life of the presence of God long enough and when someone asks you, “Do you believe there is a God?” you may find yourself answering, “No, I do not believe there is a God. I know there is a God.”~Ernest Boyer, Jr.

And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart with all your soul and with all your might.~Deuteronomy 6:5

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Advent Devotions Week 1

The Prophesy Candle

First Sunday of Advent
Each day light the first candle, say its name (the Prophecy Candle) and say together: "Jesus said, 'I am the light of the world. Whoever follows Me will not walk in darkness but will have the light of life.'" John 8:12

The Prophecy Candle reminds us of the prophets who expected and predicted the coming of the Messiah who would bring peace and love and salvation to the world.

Come, Thou long expected Jesus, Born to set Thy people free; From our fears and sins release us; Let us find our rest in Thee. Israel's Strength and Consolation, Hope of all the earth Thou art; Dear Desire of every nation, Joy of every longing heart. Born Thy people to deliver, Born a child and yet a King; Born to reign in us forever, Now Thy gracious Kingdom bring. By Thine own eternal Spirit, Rule in all our hearts alone; By Thine all sufficient merit, Raise us to Thy glorious throne.
These words were written by Charles Wesley in 1744.

As you learn them together, notice the things Christ came to do both for Israel and for us. He came to set us free, to give us rest and joy, to deliver, to reign, to rule, to raise us to Himself. Haggai 2:7 says, "The desire of all nations shall come." Let us make Christ's reign a desire in our lives. (Another carol for this week: O COME, O COME EMMANUEL)

Sunday —Isaiah 9:2,6&7Approximately 750 years before the birth of Christ, God gave the Prophet Isaiah these promises about the coming Messiah. There are several important things to think about in these verses. We are walking in darkness and death until we experience the light of God's presence (9:2). Although Jesus was born as a baby, He is given several important names which show His divinity (that He is God), and His greatness. What are these names? What does each name mean? In what ways can Jesus make a difference in the way we live today? As we prepare to celebrate Christ's birth, let us remember that He will come again as King over all. What a privilege to crown Him King in our lives right now!

Monday—Isaiah 11:1-6-7,10
In this passage, Christ is pictured as a rod and a branch of Jesse, who was David's father. In the New Testament, Matthew begins his gospel by giving Christ's genealogy, or family line. Luke gives it in chapter 3. Why is this so important? We live in a mobile age, where family ties are not so important; but we must understand the vast importance this had for the Jews. Jesus identified Himself with the human race and was born into a specific family. He is the fulfillment of all God's promises in the Old Testament. God kept all His promises to the Jews, and He keeps His word to us today.

Note again and discuss the characteristics of Christ listed in these verses: wisdom, understanding, counsel, might, knowledge, reverence, righteousness, etc. And yet, He was willing to be one of us. What a great Savior—"born a child and yet a King!".

Tuesday—Isaiah 61:1-3
As we read in the New Testament, we see how Christ fulfilled the prophecy of these verses. God's Spirit was on Him; He preached Good News; He healed the broken-hearted, etc. But we must never say, "Well, that was O.K. for the people then." Christ is still working in our world through the Holy Spirit to do these things in our lives. This is a good time to discuss and think about the changes Christ wants to make in our lives. We have to confess our sin and let Him take it away before we can be free from it (1 John 1:9). As we understand who Christ is, we must receive Him; let Him heal our hearts and lives; be freed from the sins that bind us; receive His discipline and His love; be comforted; receive His beauty for our ugliness, His joy for our mourning, and His praise for our sadness, so that we can be like trees of righteousness, planted by the Lord for His glory. "By Thine all sufficient merit raise us to Thy glorious throne." What do you need from God today? Ask Him.

Wednesday—Isaiah 40:1-8
The Scripture for today and tomorrow speaks of the comfort and Good News that the Lord brings. Many know this passage from Handel's Messiah. This musical masterpiece was written in 1741, in just twenty-four days. It has made the passage in Isaiah familiar to many, who may not even know it is from the Bible. The Messiah opens with Isaiah 40; so if you have the music, take time to listen to this section together. Much of the prophecy of this chapter is still to be fulfilled when Christ comes again. Verses 3-4 refer to preparation for a King. In those days before a King was crowned or came for a state visit, the entire country prepared for Him. Everything was cleaned, painted and washed. Even crooked roads were made straight. How fitting that we should prepare for the coming of the King of Kings into our lives. The Advent season is preparation. What do you need to make straight in your life so that His glory can be revealed in you? Think about specific changes He wants you to make. Too often we do all the shopping but still fail to prepare our hearts for the King.

Thursday—Isaiah 40:9-11
The coming of Christ is such Good News. He is our God come in human form. When He comes again, He will come to rule. It is so important that we be ready by submitting to Him as Lord now.
Many times Christ is pictured as our Shepherd. Look at the beautiful picture that is presented in verse 11. Christ is the One who feeds both our bodies and our spirits. He calls us to Himself and gently leads us. A sheep that doesn't follow its shepherd gets in a lot of trouble. It gives us great peace to know that our Lord cares for us and will provide for us, protect us and lead us. We can not make it on our own, and we do not have to.
Read the rest of Isaiah 40 for added appreciation of the greatness of our God. Again, listen to Handel's Messiah. Even those who are not musicians can notice and appreciate how the music enhances the Scripture.

Friday – Isaiah 55:1-13
This beautiful chapter in Isaiah points out the satisfaction and joy that comes as we seek the Lord. The first part of verse 2 is a good warning about how we should spend as we work on our Christmas lists. Truly, we must reviewuate [review and evaluate] how we spend our time, money and labor. What a tragedy if we spend, spend, spend and find that it was all for nothing; that we were in such a frenzy that we missed the real point and the great joy and contentment of Christmas. Verse 4 says that the Lord came as a leader and commander for us. Let's submit to His Word and work in our lives. Verses 12 and 13 refer to the future; but in a way, this can be true in our lives now as we put Christ first. We can go out with joy and be led forth with peace. The mountains in our lives can break forth into singing, and we can find great joy. Especially during the Christmas season we should know joy and praise. Christmas comes and goes at such a frantic pace. How do you suppose the Lord feels about our sometimes begrudging attitudes? Have you ever thought: "Well, we'd better get them a gift because they gave us one last year."? Let us use Isaiah 55 as our motto today and in the days to come. Listen for His direction and leading and see what a difference this will make in your attitudes and actions.

Saturday—Ephesians 2:8-9
At Christmas, we think much about gifts: what we are going to give and what we will receive. Think about or discuss the best gift you ever received. How much did it cost? What made it special? Who gave it to you? Do you still have it?
Jesus Christ is God's gift to us. And He is the best gift any of us will ever receive. It cost God a great deal to send Christ to earth. The reason He did it is that He loves us so much. The only way we can have a gift is to reach out and take it. All those presents under the tree wouldn't do anyone any good if no one reached out to receive them. It is the same with God's gift of salvation. A Christian is one who has reached out to receive this gift. When we see God for who He is, we realize our great need for Him; we believe that Jesus died on the cross for our sins and then rose again. We confess our sin and we receive Christ into our life. Any child or adult who wants to, may do this. If you haven't done so, receiving God's gift of salvation will make this the best Christmas ever. If you have, why not thank Him again for His great love for you!
And by the way, if you want to receive Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord, the desire that is in you is also a gift from God

I'm Back!

So I haven't posted in a while but like the title says I'm Back for the time being anyway. Since it has been so long since anything has been posted here I don't know if anyone still even bothers to check it.

The Christmas Season is upon us once again and already I can see the panic in peoples eyes, will there be enough time for... will I have enough money for...run, run, go, go. For to many of us Christmas is lost in a whirlwind of shopping,eating and stress leaving us exhausted, overweight and frazzled. What we need is to leave this season feeling refreshed, renewed and recharged to live our lives for Christ.
As a Christian the weeks before Christmas or Advent are a time of expectation and preparation. And that is what the Advent season is all about! Preparing our hearts with joyful anticipation for the coming of our King.

What is Advent?
Advent marks the beginning of the Christmas season and the Church year for most Western churches. The word "Advent" means "arrival" or "coming" in Latin and represents the approach of Christ's birth (and fulfillment of the prophecies about that event) and the awaiting of Christ's second coming. It is composed of the four Sundays before Christmas day, starting on the Sunday closest to November 30th, which is the feast day of St. Andrew the Apostle, and ending on Christmas. Because Christmas is on a different day from year to year, Advent may last anywhere from 22 to 28 days.
Not only do we celebrate His birth but we expecentatly await His second coming. What a beautiful time of year this is!
This year once again I want to teach my children the TRUTH of Christmas and not the lie the world has sold us.
Every night for the next 4 weeks my family will celebrate Advent with scripture readings and songs. Each week I will post the readings for that week, we will also be lighting an advent candle during this time. We will also make this a season of prayer as we pray for the families whose Christmas card we recieve that day...so send out those cards! :)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

True Woman | Little people grow up way too fast!

**Warning this may make you cry...I did

I had one of those dreams filled with such normal stuff that you think it's really happening while you're in the dream. You know what I mean?

When my children were little, we used to go camping a lot. We loved hiking through the woods, eating s'mores around the campfire, fishing from the bank's edge. We even tried mountain biking as they grew older. So in my dream I was working my way up the side of a little mountain trail, wondering where Rachel and Caleb were. I started thinking about the fact that I hadn't seen them for a while—at least not the "little people" version of Rachel and Caleb. Shouts and giggles interrupted my climb as I turned around to see the eight- and twelve-year-old version of my children running toward me. "There you two are! I've been looking everywhere for you. I've missed you! Where've you been?"

That's when reality crashed in on dreamland and I woke up with tears streaming down my face, because I realized I'd never see those two little people again! They no longer existed in that "pint-sized version." The next morning at breakfast I relayed to my teenaged, six-foot-three son the dream (with big mommy-sized tears streaming down my face!) and the fact that I missed those two kids so much. Caleb looked at me incredulously. "But Mom, I'm sitting right here!" He couldn't understand my confusion. My tear-filled reply was soggy. "I know, I know—I'm glad you're here. I just miss that little guy who used to come running to show me the lizard he just caught, and the one that needed me to help him tie his shoes and find his missing frogs. I'm really glad you're here—I just miss that little guy!"

Today's post is for those young moms who've had a really long day of laundry and dirty diapers, one too many spills, and no breaks from the world of "toddlerhood" for weeks!

Tips from an "old mom"

•Pause for a minute. Take a deep breath, and ask God for grace to enjoy this season.
•Ask Him to remind you of the brevity of this season in moments when you're so tired you think you'll collapse.
•Find creative ways to have fun with your kids today!
•Go give each of your children a hug—right now while they're this size—because tomorrow they'll be a little bigger!
•Tell each of your children something special you've noticed about the way God created them. Then pray with them thanking God for that particular trait.
•Ask your children for forgiveness—often! It will train them to do the same.
•Watch for opportunities during your normal routine today to teach your children something new about God.
•Ask God to remind you (often) to treasure these years.
•When you go to sleep tonight—be sure to thank Him for the gift of these little ones.
Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights (James 1:17).

Lord forgive me for the days I don't cherish your gift!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Fall in the air

Well now that we have recovered from our sickness and the rain has stopped we have been enjoying fall. We have had beautiful cool days and even chillier nights just right for all the fun things fall has to offer.

This weekend was packed with fun for us, we started off by seeing "Where the Wild Things Are" at the IMAX and went to the "Wild Things" party they had.

My Wild Thing!

Then Sunday we had "Baby" Lily's 1st birthday party which my kids had really looked forward to and had a great time.
Then Sunday night we went to Boo at the Zoo with some of the kids from church and since we did not have school the next day we got to stay longer than anyone. It was very chilly Sunday night just perfect for fun fall activities. The kids got to trick or treat and since they went through some of the trick or treat areas 3 times they racked up on the candy and it was good stuff too.
Caleb meets his kind

Friday, October 9, 2009

Sharing the Magic

So I can't believe it we had planned for going to Disney for so long and now here it is 2 weeks since we've been and I have finally gone through all the pictures and am ready to post them.

Waiting at the airport
We made it...Magic Kingdom
First ride...tea cups Ella loved them!
They made Caleb barf later in the week ;0

Our first day was full we flew in and then spent the rest of the day riding rides, meeting characters and taking in all the Magic.
Since this was our first trip to Disney we weren't sure how the kids would do with meeting the characters and rides all of this was new to them but they took to it like they had done this a thousand times. We found out Ella is fearless she rode everyting she was big enough for and did not even think twice about her first time on rollercoasters. Caleb loved the roller coasters too.

Country Goofy was the first character we met

Thursday, September 17, 2009

City Chicks

Do you see a problem with this picture?

Well then you don't have much experience with chickens because the problem with this picture is one of our "hens" grew up to be a rooster. We suspected it for a while but then on morning as we walked outside to a cock a doodle doo we knew we had a rooster! Knowing that a rooster crowing every morning would not go over too well with the neighbors we knew we would have to do something...so we named him pot pie. From that day on every time he crowed Ella would yell "you stop that pot pie" just hilarious!
So on Saturday we had our first chicken killing. This was a project for Dan and Caleb, Ella watched for a while then came running in "that's a boy job, I'm never going out there again" my thoughts exactly!
Now pot pie is in the freezer and you are invited to dinner... guess what we are having?

That's right Pot Pie!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Back to School

So yesterday was the first day of school for my kids, I think they were officially the last kids in the state of Alabama to start school. I'm glad they started a little later we were able to eek a few last days out of summer and get in one more trip to the grandparents. This year begins a new chapter in my life...both kids in school...how did that happen? The night before when I was putting Ella to bed is when I got all sentimental and as I looked at her and we talked about school I did actually have the thought I need another baby! don't worry that has passed;)

Our traditional silly faces and poses picture

Who couldn't love that face...sweet girl!

Aren't' they cute and so sweet

I'm ready to go mom
headed in with supplies in hand

Yes we brought some cookie bribes for the teachers...yes I'm a nerd but the teachers always love me.
I am pleased to say nobody cried on the first day, Ella thought she needed to a little but we got past that and I thought I was going to but held it together. It was a good day.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

On the Table

OK so this is late I promise I am trying to get better

Monday - Pork Tournedos with Mango Salsa and Backberry Sauce, garlic whipped potatoes and green beans
Tuesday - Beef and Broccoli Stir-Fry with Texmati Brown and Red Rice
Wednesday - Church
Thursday - Angel Hair with Shirmp, Scallops and Pesto Sauce
Friday - Pizza Night

Monday, August 3, 2009

Inspiration for Monday

On the Table

I am back to doing weekly menus with school starting soon we have to get back on a schedule and this really helps

Monday- Flounder with Bread Crumbs and Vegetable Tian
Tuesday- Grilled Jerk Chicken with Mango Salsa *dinner at family Group home
Wednesday-Dinner at Church
Thursday-Bourbon Glazed Baby-back ribs with Fresh Corn and Sweet Potato Fries
Friday - Pizza Night

Sunday, August 2, 2009

A Honey of a Day

Last week we harvested the first of our honey from our bee hives. Herman, Dan's bee mentor, helped us with the first batch. We have now cared for hives from establishment of a hive to harvesting honey. Now if we can keep our hives healthy and happy to harvest again we will be doing good.

Removing of the first frame most bees should be gone but you still have to be careful of the hangers on. Jack oversees the whole process
The honey is sealed off with a wax seal that must be removed to get the honey

Cutting away the wax seal. Wax, comb and honey all go into a bucket together

Look at that beautiful honey

You would not believe how heavy these frames are they are full of honey at least 5 pounds

Everything goes into the first straining this removes all the big stuff
Next it is run through a fine mesh then it is ready to bottle. This year we got 48 pints from our 2 hives next spring it is possible to double that number...honey anyone?
When we were done we invited a few neighbors over for an evening of biscuits and honey
Now if we could some how fit a cow in the back yard we would be the land of milk and honey.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Back Yard Splash Bash

This weekend not only did we celebrate the 4th but we celebrated Caleb's 7th birthday. Wow 7 where have the years gone? This year we decided to have smaller simple birthdays so for Caleb we had a backyard splash bash. Everyone came with water gun, or should I say cannon have you seen the size of some of these, in hand for a free for all.

We also got the new slip n slide surfer for the kids to play on, surfing on it proved to be harder than advertised espically since our back yard is not level. Mostly the younger kids used it as a splash pool so it was not a total waste.

Of course Jimmy did give it a go with the raft instead of the skim board

Dan and I made about 300 water balloons that were used in a game of capture the fort adults vs kids, the kids won but I think the adults had a lot of fun.

Even Jack joined in on the fun, when your birthday is in July it just screams BACKYARD SPALASH BASH!
Top it all off with a little ice cream cake and you have a good start to year 7.
Happy Birthday Caleb!

Then the next day we celebrated the 4th with some Red White and Blueberry Cupcakes,what a weekend!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Kids Night

Since I started doing cooking classes at the community school Caleb has begged to come and I promised him I would teach him to cook. So I decided this summer the kids would make dinner one night a week, they get to plan the menu and cook the food the only rule is it must be a complete menu and it can't be cheeseburgers every week.

So this week was our first dinner that the kids made they chose Macaroni and Cheese with ham and broccoli. Even though the temp was about 95 that day and mac and cheese really did not sound good I agreed. I printed off the recipe and taught them how to read the recipe and follow the directions...lesson in reading at the same time.

They learned how to make a white sauce aka bechamel, and how to boil pasta. I know some people might laugh at me but I just think the earlier you start the easier and what talents and interests can develop. And besides don't they just look so cute in the chef hats? Caleb will tell you he only has a small one because he is a junior.

When asked what they learned Caleb said you have to stir the sauce a long time. Ella lost intrest about half way through but Caleb held out to the end.

Fannie Farmer's Classic Mac and Cheese
1 (8 ounce) package macaroni
4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons flour
1 cup milk
1 cup cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
fresh ground black pepper, to taste
2 cups good quality shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup buttered breadcrumbs

1 Preheat oven to 400°F.
2 Cook and drain macaroni according to package directions; set aside.
3 In a large saucepan melt butter.
4 Add flour mixed with salt and pepper, using a whisk to stir until well blended.
5 Pour milk and cream in gradually; stirring constantly.
6 Bring to boiling point and boil 2 minutes (stirring constantly).
7 Reduce heat and cook (stirring constantly) 10 minutes.
8 Add shredded cheddar little by little and simmer an additional 5 minutes, or until cheese melts.

9 Turn off flame.
10 Add macaroni to the saucepan and toss to coat with the cheese sauce.
11 Transfer macaroni to a buttered baking dish.
12 Sprinkle with breadcrumbs.
13 Bake 20 minutes or until top is golden brown

I am going to make them their own "cook book" with the recipes of everything we make this summer and some of these cute pictures.

Turning brown

Summer is in full swing here at the Loudon's it's hot and our days are lived at the pool. We are all looking well browned, maybe a little to brown.

My friend Debbie was reading to her children about Noah and how after the flood they were the only people left on the earth and God told them to repopulate the earth. So her oldest asked the obvious question "so everybody comes from Noah?" Yes says Deb, "well what about black people where do they come from"...dreaded question. So Deb takes them to answers in Genesis which shows how all people have the same DNA even though skin tones vary and skin color is really an adaptation to environment in which these people settled. So our differences are a result of our bodies adjusting to the environment over time.

C ponders this for a moment and says..."Don't you think Mrs. Pam has gotten darker since we've known her?" Guess I better start using some more sunscreen!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Look what we found

With summer on the way here in Birmingham our vegetable garden is in full production. We have enjoyed lettuces, peas, beets, and carrots but my favorite of all times to harvest has been the potatoes.

Last week Ella and I dug around the potato plants in search of potatoes imagine the excitement as we found beautiful red potatoes. "I found one mommy" Ella shouted "me too" I chimed in and another...from all the excitement and shouts you would think we had discovered a cache of rubies in our backyard. And as I'm in the backyard digging out my dinner I have that Gone with the Wind moment "God as my witness I'll never go hungry again" Sometimes I wonder what world I live in...but I like it where something as simple as digging potatoes can bring joy, excitement and inspiration. Who knew potatoes could be so much fun!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Catching up

For the next week or so I am childless Caleb and Ella have gone to Arkansas to spend some time with the grandparents. This was not an easy thing for me to do, but I decided it is important for both the children and the grandparents.

So this has become my time to play catch up on all those things that have been pushed aside for so long and so here I sit at the computer with a quick update on our lives and all the things we have been up to in the last month, it is also a time to think about my kids and how much I love them.

Ella had her little recital last month and she did a great job, she has enjoyed ballet so much this year and it has been just too cute to watch. Of course the day before her recital she fell running down the hill and bashed her lip just in time for pictures that's always the way it goes.

Caleb has decided he wants to learn to skate....imagine his fathers pride! For those of you who may not know back in the day Dan was BIG in skating, taught skating, organized skating groups and promoted skating and roller hockey. So like father like son!

So he has been practicing on Jimmy's drive and he is getting much better, I love to see Dan get out and just play with the kids.

of course Ella's in on the action

I love to see Dan on skates...it reminds me of the guy I first fell in love with

Of course it was mom that put on the helmet!
So now my blogging is caught up...what's next?