Thursday, December 29, 2011

Christmas Recap #1

You may have noticed, I've spent less time here:

But I've been spending more time here:

I have really missed blogging, and am hoping that in the new year I can manage my time a little better so I can keep in touch with all of you!  I wanted to post some Christmas pics and realized I have too many for one post, so it's going to take two or three posts to get them all in!  This was the night we made sugar cookies.  Nothing fancy, but our time together was priceless.

This is Kylee and Aubrey before we got started. 
They were so excited!

Some dough rollin' action!

There's just something about getting those hands dirty
that makes life fun.


It takes focus to make an awesome sugar cookie!

Focus and Imagination 

Okay, don't hate.  You can definitely tell I did not go to
Pinterest!  However, we worked hard, and the kids had
so much fun! 

Aubrey kept sneaking bites of cookie dough.

We took baths and washed hair while the cookies baked, and

Pure Delight

Everything's better when you work for it.

Well, that's it for tonight!  I'm thankful for every blessing we received and were able to give this Christmas.  Most of all, I'm thankful for the Christ that we celebrate, and that He is ever so close to me.  That is the greatest gift of all!  We love you and look forward to sharing with you much more on our long lost blog!
~Josh and Jill

Monday, October 31, 2011

Apply it to Me Monday

Did you know that God has designed specific types of communication to be used toward specific people?  There are times for words of warning, times for encouragement, as well as times for helpful and practical words.  The more we grow in Christ, the more He longs to use our conversation to grow His Kingdom.  I'm memorizing this one with a prayer that God will use my words in the right moments in talking with my children, my husband, and anyone I come in contact with.
 "Warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone." 
1 Thessolonians 5:14

Precious Father,
May you use my words for your purpose.  Give me wisdom and discernment in my conversations.  Discernment to see the need, whether it be for warning, encouragement, or help, and wisdom to choose words that you can use to further your Kingdom and bring people into relationship with you! 

In Jesus' amazing name... Love you so much!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Apply it to Me Monday

Y'all.  I almost forgot to post on here this morning!  I never forget on a Monday morning.  I've been really excited about posting this scripture, because God really spoke it to my heart this week through a book I've been reading a book called Sheperding a Child's Heart by Tedd Tripp.  So far I think it's a great read and it is really helping me to refocus some things in parenting.  Every parent needs a boost like that from time to time.  You can get burned out in your "home" responsibilities much like the way you get burned out at times in your job.  I find an encouraging book filled with insight and wisdom can be a great motivator!

One thing Tedd Tripp emphasizes in this book is drawing conversation out of your child and really hearing what they have to say.  In fact, hearing not only what they say with their lips, but hear what their heart is saying and finding the heart issues that need to be addressed, corrected, or even praised.  This has to be the biggest challenge!  Isn't it typical that we work to keep them quiet when they are little, then when they are teens we beg them to talk, and cannot understand where we went wrong?

There is a verse in Proverbs that addresses this very issue.  I actually wrote it in my scripture spiral so I can memorize it and pray for the kind of understanding it speaks of.

"The purposes of a man's heart are deep waters, but a man of understanding draws them out."
Proverbs 20:5

Help me to love and parent my children the way you love and well, even parent me.  You are our Heavenly Father.  You love our children more than we can even fathom loving them.  Give me the wisdom and understanding in drawing out the deep waters of my little girls' hearts.  Help me refrain from being the only one who is heard in conversations, but let me hear my children, so I can shepherd their hearts and lead them to You in every word and every deed.  Make me the Mom you've called me to be!
In the Precious Name of Jesus,

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Incase You're Wondering

Incase you are wondering about the pages we have added to the blog, we want you to know that we will soon be doing some neat things with those!  We want to expand the blog to really show the ministries in which we serve here in Shreveport so those of you miles away can feel plugged in to what God is doing here and have direction in how to pray!  For those of you in Shreveport, well, hopefully this will be a source of pride and joy for you!  We will have some interactive times here as well as let you hear from some of our incredible students from time to time! 

So hang in there, and keep checking back for more PAGES!

Because of Love... 
Josh and Jill

A little side note...

Speaking of incredible students, here our two of our beloved students playing with Kylee & Aubrey at the spray grounds today.  Thanks Ashleigh & Carol for loving on our girls!  I don't know what they would do without all the teenage love they receive!  We feel so blessed!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Apply it to Me Monday

I've had a passage of scripture on my heart repeatedly throughout the past week.  In our society, it seems that more and more often children are seen as an inconvenience rather than a gift from God.  It's easy as a mom to want that break or alone time so badly that I can forget to cherish the time I have with my children.  How it must grieve the heart of God when we become so wrapped up in ourselves that we neglect the gift He entrusted to us.  A young heart to nurture, love, care for, and protect.  Not only has He entrusted this task to us, we only get one chance in life to get it right.  There are no do-overs.  Sometimes that overwhelms me, but it's in those overwhelmed moments I know I need to go to the Word of God and hear God's perspective and rely on His guidance.  I love what it says in the Psalm 127:3-5:

Children are a gift from the Lord; babies are a reward.  Children who are born to a young man are like arrows in the hand of a warrior.  Happy is the man who has his bag full of arrows. They will not be defeated when they fight their enemies at the city gate.

The Message says it this way:
Oh, how blessed are you parents, with your quivers full of children! Your enemies don't stand a chance against you; you'll sweep them right off your doorstep.

Children are a heritage from God!  A gift He must delight the most in giving. 

Help me to treasure my children the way you treasure them.  Give me the strength to be diligent, patient, consistent, and loving.  In the moments when I feel weary and even ungrateful, fill my heart with joy and gratitude for the precious gifts you've trusted me with.  May the desires of my heart and the attitudes toward my children line up with your Word.  Thank you for my children.  They are the best gift I could ever receive!

One last thing...
If you are a mom, a wife, or still single and waiting, I encourage you to stay strong in the 31 day "Make Your Home a Haven" challenge.  Check it out

A few fall pics of my delightful gifts:

Monday, October 3, 2011

Apply it to Me Monday

I am going to be really brief on here today, as I so often feel I have to be!  Life with preschoolers is busy, but wonderfully so!

I came across a scripture today that encouraged me.  Sometimes I am overwhelmed with the task of parenting effectively, being a loving wife, and influential for God Kingdom in the lives of others. Sometimes I really fear getting it wrong or really messing things up big time, especially with parenting my kids.  Listen to what King David wrote in Psalm 25:14-15:

"The Lord confides in those who fear him; he makes his covenant known to them.  My eyes are ever on the Lord, for only he will release my feet from the snare."

The Message translation words it this way:
"If I keep my eyes on God, I won't trip over my own feet."

I love that!  I don't have to have it all together, I simply need to keep my eyes on Him!  When my full trust is in Him, He will fulfill His very best in my life and will keep me not only from snares of the enemy, but snares that I might walk into on my own! 

So if life seems overwhelming to you, I challenge you to take a moment to assess if your eyes are truly on God.  If not, ask Him to help redirect your focus, and He will direct your path! (Prov. 3:5-6) 

One last thing, today is the official start of the 31 day Fall Challenge:  Make Your Home a Haven.  I encourage you to hop on over to Courtney's blog at Women Living Well and be inspired to make a little extra effort this fall to be the wife and mom your family needs you to be!  There are many principles that can apply to men as well. 

I'm lighting my candle, and commiting before God to make my home the haven He intends for it to be this fall!

Have a WONDERFUL day on this beautiful October Monday!
~Josh and Jill

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

31 Day Fall Challenge... Making Your Home a Haven

I'm putting candles on my next shopping trip list.  Lots of candles!  Why?  I read about a challenge called "Making Your Home a Haven" by Courtney at Women Living Well.  The challenge is to create ways to bring peace and calmness into your home in the midst of all the hectic activity of school, extracurricular activities, jobs, and whatever else may be keeping your life tense. 

Part of the challenge is to light a candle in your home every day.  Each time you light the candle, pray for peace in your home.  If you stay home, you may light the candle in the morning and let it burn all day.  Others may start the candle at dinner time.  The idea is to focus on establishing a peaceful and loving atmosphere at home.

I've heard it said before that women are the ones who set the tone of the home.  That's not to say that negative tones are not ever set because of a husband's bad day or a child's wrong attitude, because those days will happen!  In general, however, it's my job as the mom to set a peaceful tone in my home with my attitude and efforts to support my family.  So I am thankul for this 31 day challenge to help me focus on making some improvements in that area.

Lighting a candle is only one aspect of this challenge, so I encourage you to check out Courtney's post by clicking the link below!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Apply it to Me Monday

We are halfway through our "I Am Pure" series that we are hosting for the teen girls in our church on Saturday nights in our home.   It's been so much fun, and so enlightening to look at sensuality through a biblical view point.  It's an idea that God created, and His purposes in it are good.  Our culture has distorted God's design for our sensuality devastating many lives and homes.  I don't think anyone goes unaffected by the bombardment of images on billboards, commercials, and magazines, not to mention the internet.  The pressure to conform to a certain image is incredibly intense on people of all ages, especially teen girls and young women.

There are many prophecies in the Bible that refer to the exact time we are living in today, and many prophecies of an even more difficult time to come.  So how do we withstand the pressures of our culture?  How do we raise daughters who are pure and unblemished by sexual sin? 

Daniel 11:32 says it best:
"With flattery he will corrupt those who have violated the covenant, but the people who know their God will firmly resist him."

The answer is simply in knowing God, knowing Christ, knowing His Word.  Our only hope for overcoming temptation and living lives pleasing to God is found in His Word.  I love that the verse doesn't just say the people who know their God will barely survive.  No, it says they will firmly resist him.  They don't just overcome, they pass the test with flying colors, and bring others along in the process.

God loves you so much, and His plans for you are good and perfect for your life.  His boundaries are drawn for our good and our health.  Are you struggling with temptation?  Let me challenge you to open His Word and simply ask Him to help you know Him better.  It is the only way we overcome.  And oh, what a way!  We can't rely on ourselves.  Instead, we get to rely on Him and His goodness. What a relief!

God loves you!
~Josh and Jill

Monday, September 19, 2011

Apply it to Me Monday

I am going to keep this morning's post brief, because there is a website I would love for you to check out!  It speaks for itself.  Yesterday, we were privileged to have Theresa Flores as a guest speaker in our services.  Theresa is a human trafficking survivor who was victimized right here in the United States.   Her story is heart wrenching and yet such a picture of God's unending mercy and grace.  Click on the link below to check out her website.  Watch the video clip of her story there and learn about the S.O.A.P project and how you can be involved! 

"Speak up for those who cannot speak for themsevles, for the rights of all who are desititute.  Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy."  Proverbs 31:8-9

I encourage you to view Theresa's website with a prayerful heart.  How would God ask you to respond?

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Apply it to Me Monday

I remember well the day of September 11, 2001.  I have a story, just like everyone else, of where I was, how beautiful the weather was that day, and how I discovered the horrific news that America had been struck with terror, and thousands of lives were lost.  I remember it well.

Now that I'm a mama to two of the most adorable girls on the face of the planet, it's hard to reflect on that day without a little twinge of fear.  Somehow as a parent, the thought of tragedy striking in your city or neighborhood instantly raises thoughts of concern for the safety of your children.  I don't fear so much for my life, after all, to die is only gain for the believer.  However, the thought of something happening to the ones most dear to me is unthinkable. 

September 10 is a huge celebration day for us.  It's Aubrey's birthday, and this year she turned 3!

This is her excited face before opening presents.

One thing I have to daily conquer as a parent, is fear.  It may not be fear of something as tragic as 9-11.  It can be in the simple act of leaving the kids with a sitter for 2 or 3 hours.  The thoughts that can invade our hearts and minds are endless. 

I have a flip calendar that I keep in my bathroom by Stormie Omartian called, The Power of a Praying Parent.  Early in the morning of Aubrey's birthday I was thinking about how much I love my kids while at the same time trying to push away thoughts of the 9-11 tragedy.  Yes, I was pushing the thoughts away, because all I wanted to do was celebrate my baby girl in safety and peace.  Then I happened to flip the page on my calendar, and this verse was written there: 

"You will keep him (or her) in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he (or she) trusts in You."  Isaiah 26:3

Wow, what a promise!  We can't know the future, nor can we avoid all tragedies in life.  But the thing we can do?  We can put our trust in a Sovereign, Loving God.  And in return?  We receive indescribable peace that can carry us through the darkest moments in our lives.  Not only does it carry us through the dark times, but it counteracts the irrational fears that threaten to plague our minds.

So, even in light of the scary times we are living in, I refuse to live a life of fear.  God loves me more than I love myself.  God loves my husband more than I do.  And those baby girls?  Loves 'em way more than I could ever begin to love them.  That's hard to fathom, but I'm so thankful that's where I can place my trust!

Just for fun, a picture of Aubrey with her princess toddler dolls.
I guess this was the pose of the day!

Both girls making silly faces.

Place your trust today in the One who is trustworthy, and perfect peace will follow!

~Josh and Jill

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Kylee's First Day of Pre-K

So, here they are!  The pics of Kylee's first day at preschool!  She did great!

Getting ready to head out for her big day.
Lil' sis wasn't quite sure what to think of all the change.

She's ready to go.  Her first year as a student!

She will always be my baby.  I don't care what they say!

The "bye" kiss

Kylee and her teacher, Mrs. Becca.
She couldn't have gotten a sweeter teacher!

This is where she puts her name to check in each morning.

I knew she would be just fine when I saw the kitchen!
She LOVES a kitchen.  Maybe she'll be an incredible chef one day.

A little play time at the park after school.
The weather has been gorgeous!  A breath of fresh air after
a long, hot August.

I surprised her with a Happy Meal.
I had missed her, even though it was only 3 hours!

Pure delight on the swings.

Well, that's it.  Our first day of Pre-K.  And might I add, she didn't cry (which was a miracle) and neither did I (possibly a greater miracle)!  I'm thankful she's in a great school, and not just a great school, but the school we chose for her.  God's provision is never found lacking in my life.  How very blessed we are to have a Heavenly Father who knows how to give good gifts to us!

~Josh and Jill

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Labor Day Pics

 It's been a very exciting week so far around here.  Today Kylee began her very first day of preschool, which to my amazement, was a complete success!  I'll post pictures from her first day tomorrow, but for now I have posted some pics from our Labor Day family fun, which just happened to be the day before Kylee became a big preschooler!

Over the weekend, both girls got a feather in their hair
to celebrate the beginning of Kylee's first school year.

They LOVED them!  Girls are sooo much fun!

I think she's just a little proud, don't you?

This is Labor Day.  We are headed to the Alligator Farm
and Exotic Zoo!

She's ready to see some gators!

Me & my little preschooler at Cracker Barrel.

Alligators.  They seem like some very lazy creatures to me. 

Daddy giving the girls food to feed the petting zoo animals.
They were a delight to watch.

Sisters and best friends.  I'm so thankful they have each other.

Daddy and his girls. 

She loved this horse! 

Aubrey went for the Jeep.  Girl after her daddy's heart!

Later that night we painted finger nails and toe nails.
It's become a fun little tradition for us.

Beautiful toes.

Kylee's backpack hanging on the cabinet by the door.
We're ready for our first day of Pre-K!

I let the girls each pick a book for me to read to them before we headed to bed.  Kylee picked her favorite, Dance Me Daddy by Cindy Morgan.  It's a story of a little girl who brings her parents so much joy and grows up.  She gets married and everything!  What mama puts themselves through reading a book like that at bedtime?!  The story makes me tear up everytime, but somehow reading it the night before preschool was especially emotional.  I have loved having her so small, and sometimes I miss the little baby things she used to do, but I daily make the choice to enjoy every moment and every stage of her life.  I choose to live in the moment, while holding the past close, and anticipating the future with excitement.  A phrase that's repeated throughout her favorite little story is this, "And though some things change, some things stay the same."   I have found that to be true.  There are things about her little person that have been there since she was a baby, and they always will be.  Although she will grow up and become all God has intended for her to be, she will always be my little Kylee.

So, congratulations, sweet Kylee.  Your mommy & daddy are so proud of you!