Be killing sin, or sin will be killing you. - John Owen

Friday, July 26, 2013


My cousin, Sarah, came for a visit earlier this week.  We had a blast together!  We did hair and makeup, went outside to snap some photos, then we headed downtown to do some antique shopping.  We spent several hours browsing antique shops together, trying on cute (and sometimes goofy!) hats, and ate lunch at a cute little cafĂ©. Here is a photographic summary. 
Texas girl!  :)
These hats were fun.  Not my style, though.  :)
This brick wall downtown provided a lovely backdrop for portraits.
I get such a kick out of this picture of me with all of our "baggage", because I am definitely not a shopper!  :)

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Burn For You

  I heard this song for the first time on Sunday.  Incredible!  

Break my heart, take my dreams, they’re only in the way
Of what’s better than I ask or imagine
You’re my home, You’re my place, each and every word You say
Set me on fire, fire for You, fire for You

Set my heart on fire so that I can burn for You
Set my heart on fire, let them see me burn for You

A face like stone, a heart like wax and a passion for the dead
Unfailing love is what You’ve asked, You’ve imagined
The offered lives of the weakest ones are known to change the world
You set them on fire, fire for You, fire for You

Burning, having a passion for serving our God - this is something that I have been pondering lately.  Again, these thoughts were sparked by reading Foxe's Book of Martyrs. 
I love the line in the song "The offered lives of the weakest ones are known to change the world".  That is so, so true!  Not only physical death, but offering our lives in service each and every day while we live.
I remember a conversation I had recently, as I was sharing my thoughts about Foxe's Book of Martyrs with a friend.  We asked the question as a challenge - whether we would be strong and even willing if/when the time comes.  In my mind, of course I would.  But, being willing to give up my life for Christ when, at times, I am hardly willing to show my love for Him by doing the dishes, or cleaning the bathrooms?  These little sacrifices.  If I am unwilling to give of myself in the little things, will I be faithful in the larger things (Luke 16:10)?  This is something that I have thought of so much during the past weeks. 
Another conversation I had in a group setting a few weeks ago, the young people were talking about spectacular ways to die.  It really got me thinking.  If I could choose a way to die, what would it be?  Truly, the conclusion I came to was that I would wish to die as a martyr.  I have prayed for God's will in this.  I do not know when or how I will die, but He holds me in His hands, He cares for me.  He knows when and how.  He knows when I will be going home. 
Charles Spurgeon said that "Death is but going home."  That is so true for the Christian!  Death is only the beginning of life!
Revelation 14:13
Then I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.’”
“Yes,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, and their works follow them.”
1 Corinthians 15:51-58 (these verses from Sunday's sermon - the best I've heard in a long time.)
"Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed—  in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.  For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.  So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.”
“O Death, where is your sting?
O Hades, where is your victory?”

The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law.  But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord."

Here is a quote from Charles Spurgeon.  I read it yesterday, and it is a great reminder that "every good and perfect gift is from above." (James 1:17)

"Whatever thou art, thou hast nothing to make thee proud.  The more thou hast, the more thou art in debt to God; and thou shouldst not be proud of that which renders thee a debtor."

I want to burn for Him, be consumed with Him, have a passion for my Lord, a burden for lost souls. I am indebted to Him, and He is alone worthy. 

Psalm 86:11
"Teach me Your way, O Lord..."

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

July Blessings

Hello y'all! 
I hope that the month of July has been full of joy and that you have been wonderfully blessed.  Can you believe that this year is more than half gone!?!  I can't! 
The month of July has been full of glorious sunsets, incredible food, spending time with family, fun 4th of July celebrations, baseball, morning runs (working my way up to a 5K!), kitty-loving, Ultimate Frisbee, and God's ever abundant grace.  His mercies are indeed new every morning!
I have been thinking a lot about persecution, martyrdom, and serving Christ with my ALL lately.  It has been on my mind often, almost constantly, after reading Foxe's Book of Martyrs (a MUST READ!), so I was very blessed to find this quote from William Wilberforce, shared on this site.
"Christianity especially has always thrived under persecution. At such a season she has no lukewarm professors; no adherents concerning whom it is doubtful to what party they belong. The Christian is then reminded at every turn, that his Master’s kingdom is not of this world. When all on earth wears a black and threatening aspect, he looks up to heaven for consolation; he learns practically to consider himself as a pilgrim and stranger. He then cleaves to fundamentals, and examines well his foundation, as at the hour of death. When Religion is in a state of external quiet and prosperity, the contrary of all this naturally takes place. The soldiers of the church militant then forget that they are in a state of warfare. Their ardor slackens, their zeal languishes. Like a colony long settled in a strange country, they are gradually assimilated in features, and demeanor, and language, to the native inhabitants, till at length almost every vestige of peculiarity dies away."
And now for a photographic summary of what we've been up to this month:
I got up early one Sunday morning and made donuts.  Yum!
Homemade glazed donuts + an ice cold glass of milk + a glorious Sunday morning = bliss! 
We have played Ultimate Frisbee the last two Sunday afternoons, and it has been a BLAST!  I hope to post pictures soon.
The day before July 4th, I had the bright idea (or not so bright?) :) to make homemade Oreos, having no idea what a huge project it would become.  I started them in the late afternoon and finished them up around 1:30 in the morning.  By that time, my combat soundtracks were about the only thing keeping me going.  :)  The Oreos were absolutely delicious, and worth every bit of work.  You can find the recipe I used here
By the way, if you have never listened to The Red Baron soundtrack, you must! :) "Welcome Back", Friend & Enemy" and "Airbattle 1" are my favorites.
The 4th of July was a very beautiful and blessed day.  We had gorgeous weather, great fellowship, amazing food, and some super fun games.  God is so good!  I am so grateful for the freedom that we have.  Praise Him for His abundant goodness to each one of us!
"If our faith is to grow exceedingly, we must maintain constant intercourse with God."
- Charles Spurgeon
New family photo!  I love it!
Red, white, and blue.
Grandpa with his girls.
A mourning dove nest in a hanging flower basket.
I love spending time with my precious Great Grandma.  She loves to tell me stories from nearly 100 years ago. 
The kids took a bike ride after lunch.
At Grandma's birthday party with all of the grandkids. 
The guys picked a bunch of black raspberries and mulberries, so we made a pie and homemade vanilla ice cream (what's pie without ice cream!?!).  It is a new family favorite, and Papa told me that it was his favorite pie ever.  :)
Each Tuesday, the guys go to play father-son baseball.  It is so fun to watch them!
Little Tigger is such a cutie pie! 
Jeremiah takes such great care of her!
A glorious sunset yesterday evening!
"If we begin, continue, and end with God, our way will be strewn with blessings."
- Charles Spurgeon
Psalm 75:1
"We give thanks to You, O God, we give thanks!
For Your wondrous works declare that Your name is near."

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Texas Trip - Time with the Simons and the Beaches

And now for the second part of my Texas trip - in the Houston area!
I was "traded" to the Beaches (after a sad, sad goodbye to the Renfro ladies).  It was great visiting with Mrs. Beach and Hannah on the way to meet the Simons.  But, to tell the truth, I was having a hard time keeping awake after staying up talking the night before.  Mrs. Beach was so sweet, and she commanded me to close my eyes and rest.  It did me so much good!  Thank you, Mrs. Beach, for taking such great care of me! 
We met the Simons, and I got to give Kimberly a big hug.  I hadn't seen her for years, but we picked up right where we left off.  There is such a sweet bond between those who love and belong to Christ!
On Thursday, we made sauerkraut with fresh cabbage from their grandmother's backyard.  I had never made it before, and it was a really fun experience.  I went to bed early (that is, shortly before midnight :) that night and had some much needed rest. 
Friday was incredible!  Kimberly took me on a horseback ride to the park and we had a sweet heart-to-heart talk.  It was so sweet to catch up with her, to get to know her better, and to encourage one another. 
We had a ton of fun swimming and ski-bobbing on Saturday!  I had never been ski-bobbing before (pictures below), so I had an absolute BLAST!
Sunday was great!  We all crowded into the Simon's huge van, and headed off for church.  I was able to see several old friends at church, which was very sweet.  On the way home, Mr. Simon stopped and picked up 6 containers of Blue Bell ice cream.  Bliss!  Ice cream is my favorite dessert!  We had so much fun eating ice cream that night.  :)
We played Settlers of Catan the next day.  I had never played before, and I really, really enjoyed it!  Kimberly and I also made cinnamon rolls that night.  The next morning, we baked them and headed for the park down the road.  Kimberly and I rode the horse, while everyone else went in the van.  We had a morning picnic by the lake, which was just lovely.  I must say, though, it felt GREAT to get back into the air conditioning.  :)
We watched Anne of Green Gables together one day, while eating homemade caramel corn, made by Karissa.  Oh. My. Goodness.  This was incredible stuff!  Anne of Green Gables just got a whole lot better.  :)  It was fun to snuggle up on the couch with a cup of tea, bowl of popcorn, a cozy blanket, and just enjoy the movie.  What sweet memories! 
On my last day there, Kimberly and I got up early (4:15) to make donuts.  Oh my!  That was totally worth it!  While they were rising in the oven, we snuggled up on the couch, under a warm, fuzzy blanket, with our cups of tea, and had a very sweet time talking together. 
The Marques family and the Beach family came over that evening for dinner, fun, and fellowship.  Afterwards, the Beaches took me home with them to spend the night, and then took me to the airport in the morning.  But, before leaving the Simon's home, Kimberly taped a sign on my back that said "MINE! DO NOT TAKE (Thou shall not steal!) ~The Simons".  I was so loved! 
Most pictures were taken by me on either my camera, or my iPhone, but many were also taken by Karah.  Thank you, Karah, for all of the great memories that you captured on your camera.  The photos and videos are absolutely priceless!  You're a really great photographer!
The girls.  Love them so much!
Dear Mrs. Beach, sweet Mrs. Renfro, and adorable Ellie.   
At Chili's With the Renfro ladies and the Beach ladies before being "traded".  :)
The sweet sign, welcoming me at the Simon's lovely home.
Harvesting cabbage for sauerkraut!  Sweet Kendra was my little shadow the whole time I was staying with the Simons.
LOVE her!
Quartering and coring the cabbage before they are grated.
Karah and I squeezing the cabbage before putting it in the crock.
Later that day, rolling a hay bale for the horses before the rain comes.  What a fun experience!
Photo shoot at the railroad tracks.  Thank you, Mrs. Simon!
Lunch buddies.  :)
These lovely little girls were doing my hair while I was holding Kraig.  How sweet!
French braiding hair before leaving for the lake.  Best way to keep hair from tangling!
Me with sweet Klaire.  Love her so much!
Kamryn, Kason, me, and Klaire.
Loved these swimsuits!  The Simons order the fabric online and then sew their own.
Kyleigh, Kendra, Karah, Karissa, Kimberly, me, and Kaitlyn
Ski-bobbing with no hands.  What fun!
This is why I love photography - I get to catch sweet little moments like this that are treasured forever.
Absolutely worn out.  :)
Kimberly and I went on a horseback ride and had the sweetest heart-to-heart talk by the lake.
Beautiful Klaire.
Blue Bell ice cream!  What a treat!
Fun shot! No, I did not eat all of it!  :)
We had so much fun together...obviously!
Kimberly and I made cinnamon rolls one night, baked them the next morning...
...and had a lovely picnic at the park.  Kimberly and I rode the horse.  :)
Praying over the meal together, since we arrived a little bit late.  :)
Looking up at the clouds after breakfast. 
Plaid picnic blanket, cowboy boots, and a big blue sky.  Glorious!
A little bit of time on the edge of the lake before heading back.
Girl time doing hair.  :)
Sweet time worshiping the Lord.
More hair time!  :)  So fun to be in a house full of girls!
Settlers of Catan.  How fun!
Turkey burgers for dinner.
We did tie die one day.  Kimberly and I were both quite nervous about how ours would turn out, but I am very happy with the results.  :)
Cutting pine needles for pine needle tea.  Delicious!
More girl time painting toes.  :)
Making Play-Doh with the kids. :) 
Those eyes!
One of Karissa's pen-pals from Chicago also came to visit while I was there.
Karissa, Hannah, and Rachel
I love this photo. 
Kason.  What a cutie!
We went outside one evening and Karah took photos of us.  Didn't she do an awesome job!?!
We were soooo dizzy after we finished spinning!  I couldn't walk a straight line.  :)
Homemade glazed donuts and fruit smoothie.  Incredible!
They are both such lovely girls!
The Marques family and the Beach family came for dinner one night.  We had so much fun playing games together, talking, and worshiping the Lord together.  Oh, and we also squeezed 30 people around the Simon's dining room table.  That was amazing fun!  :)
Simon family, thank you for opening your beautiful home to me, treating me like family, spoiling me with Blue Bell ice cream, making me laugh till I couldn't breathe, making me feel absolutely loved to death, plotting and scheming how you could keep me in Texas :), helping to make my trip memorable, and most of all, for showing me the love of Christ.  His glory shines in all that you do.  I love each one of you dearly, and I pray that we may see each other again soon.  I pray that the Lord will shower His richest blessings upon you.
After dinner, games, a super fun boat ride, Frisbee, and family worship, it was time to leave with the Beach family. We talked, laughed over old memories, listened to soundtracks, and just enjoyed each other's company.  The next morning, Mrs. Beach and Hannah prepared an incredible breakfast.  The Hill family and the Huffman family came for breakfast, and we had more sweet time together.
Thank you, Beach family, Hill family, and Huffman family, for making me feel so welcome.  It was great to spend time with y'all, though it was all too short.  We are praying for more opportunities to visit in the future.  I love and miss y'all very much.  May the Lord bless and keep you.
Playing Catch Phrase.
Playing spoons at the Beaches home.  Super fun!
Mr. Beach and Mr. Huffman.
The whole group of young people before leaving.
Hannah, Ethan, Ellie, Keegan, Sam, Alex, me, Courtney, Ben, Jesse, Nate, Anna
The flight home was completely uneventful; I made it through the airports quite easily, praise God!  It was so wonderful to get back and see my beloved family again.  I am amazed at the blessings and providences of God poured out upon me during my trip.  He kept me safe, healthy, He blessed me in the reading of his word, I had beautiful fellowship, created unforgettable memories, and deepened relationships with dear friends.  I am so grateful for His goodness.
Until next time...y'all have a beautiful, blessed, and Christ-filled week!