Friday, September 30, 2011

Nancy Guthrie Seminar Notes -

Last Friday, my Momma and I were able to drive to a conference given by Nancy Guthrie about "Holding Onto Hope" in the midst of grief and suffering. I really hadn't read anything about Nancy Guthrie, except on my piano teacher's blog, and knew that she loved her, so hey .... I knew I would love her too. :D What I had read, I had loved.

So Momma and I drove there, actually, I drove and Momma talked. ;) And we drove through some familiar territory, as it was a way well traveled, here in FL. And then we hit this huge storm. I'm talking lightning within a mile, and really dark clouds. I was actually expecting hail. Gladly, there was none. So we kept driving on, aaand then we got lost. ;) And as we got lost, all the rain let loose. Are you laughing yet?! It was a pouring, storming, windy mess. I was praying we wouldn't hydroplane, and Momma was re-playing the directions message on the cell phone, and after turning around 3 times on the same road, we eventually decided .... what the heck. We would find it if we just kept driving down this one road....and we did! :) Amazingly enough, we were only 10 minutes late. Even after getting lost in the wrong part of the church campus and parking in the staff lot. HAH!

Yeah. We walked in the door, spilling over with laughter, and only missed the announcements. :) Before I jump into the rest of this .... as we walked into the correct church parking lot (cough), the sun was bursting out. With my mind always thinking about God giving me things to let me know He's near - I couldn't help but be moved inside my heart. I was walking to the church to hear about Hope in the midst of grief, and the black clouds were parting to let the sun burst its glory in streaming rays of gold to light up every raindrop there was on Earth.

Those are the little right now counts forever moments that I love.

Like these sunset pictures from August 29th, 2011. They make my heart sing to the One Who spun them exactly like that. Sunset is my favorite time of the day - I just love it. So much rest.

The seminar was 2 hours long, and I loved it. I was so so blessed, and I think Momma was too. It was nice to be together, the two of us. :) Several women from church, including our pastor's wife had made it as well, so it was neat seeing them afterwards. My only complaint is that I wished it could have been longer. I could have listened to her for at least 4 hours. :)

I am going to share my notes with you here, but I highly encourage you, if you ever get the chance, to listen to her speak or read some of her books, I know I'm going to! My notes aren't perfect or complete, and my thoughts are sprinkled in, but I hope this little bit encourages you.


(the points with the asterisks before them are the main points)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Friday, September 23rd, 2011
Nancy Guthrie "Holding Onto Hope" seminar.


What IS Hope?

When we talk about hope: something we think it should turn out to be, or an outcome that seems good or better than what it is now.

What Scripture says about hope - Hebrews 11:1
"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."

To take ahold of hope is to grab onto God, knowing that trusting Him was the best thing.

* Holding onto hope is: believing that God loves me, and that He can and will use the worst thing I can imagine for my ultimate good.

When God gives grief, we think: A. God does not love me. or B. God is not in control.

But God's love is not defined by us! His love is boundless, endless, purely good without fault. He is sovereignly planning and guiding all for His glory and our greatest good.


Our greatest comfort: Looking at the cross: where the most innocent, pure, sinless Person was slain for us. Where you cannot imagine good coming out of. The Lamb of God, slain for us. That God's love might never ever be removed from the children He loves past death.

How can we doubt His goodness for us, when we see His deepest love shown for us at the cross?

(this is the part that hit the hardest for me)
The lie - God is punishing me for my sin.

*Holding onto hope is: rejecting the lie that my suffering is God punishing me for my sin. It's a lie because Christ has already paid for my sin and has borne all our suffering and condemnation, and we are healed by Christ!!

"Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows;
Yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.
But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities;
the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed." Isaiah 53:4-5


* Holding onto hope is: recognizing that because God is in control of this world, and because I am His, nothing happens in my life that is random or meaningless.

Psalm 139: 16 "in Your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as of yet there were none of them."

No one takes or gives Life except God.



Holding onto hope is NOT
"holding out for the best" or "hoping it gets better" or "holding out for some change".

* Holding onto hope is: holding on - not to an attitude or perspective about the future - but to a Person - the living Person of Jesus Christ. Surrendering everything we know and everyone we hold dear and love to the One Who defines Hope in itself and in its whole existence.

* Faith: putting your whole hope in Christ and pushing off that ledge, stepping from the boat onto the water, and knowing He is trustworthy.

Will I trust Him with now, and all of this life, like I do with Eternity?

My thoughts at the end of this section -
"Will I trust him with now, and all of this life, like I do with Eternity? Lead me to trust in You, that in all this - You are God, and You reign in grace."


A few quick notes from the Q. A. Session with Nancy and her husband David.

Anger - being out of control or being forced to acknowledge that God didn't meet up to our expectations. Saying "if I were God, I'd do better!". We have to learn in submission that God does not owe us anything. That His ways are something we can't even begin to fathom or dream.

Healing - In Christ, there is Life and Healing. There is no Plan B in God's plan, there is no "this is second best" about being with Christ in Heaven. It is the best in Heaven.

Sorrow - Psalm 42 & 43. They both end with the same verses:
"Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are yo disquieted within me?
Hope in God; For I shall yet praise Him, the help of my countenance and my God."

Sorrow coming back in waves doesn't mean you aren't grieving with hope in Christ, it is just a long way Home.

Mine the Bible for the truths about the Lord. For Who He is, and how He cares for you.


"We might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us. This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil, where the forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus, having become High Priest forever." ~ Hebrews 6:18-20 ~


Going into this seminar, I had no idea that Mrs. Guthrie had experienced loss and sorrow in the way she had. She and her husband had two children born who both lived under a year, both of the same disease. As she talked lovingly about her children, many were moved, including me.

I was very blessed. :) So I hope this blesses you in return!

I know I don't often say much about comments here, but I am thankful for each and every one, truly. I have been moved many many times to tears in thankfulness or gladness in how God has used this blog. And sometimes it's just nice to hear from a new person stopping by that they loved it. So thank you, for reading and for coming by. I am so thankful for all of you. :)

May God keep you secure in His love, and lead you to trust Him and to Hope.
With love,
~ Jean Marie ~

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Out of the Depths -

I woke up this morning with this song in my head .... and decided to take pictures of the morning sunshine. Sunflare seemed to skip its way into the pictures, and as the song played on repeat in my memory, I could see how the song would move - so I made a video of it. :)

It is my night song and my waking strength - to know that He is always near to me. Even though we know our Lord is faithful, in the aftermath of grief, hope is clouded. But He is God. Hope never, ever dies when it is grounded in God's promises - which is Himself given to us, and Life Eternal, and all the mercies and compassions that fill our days, that often we never see.
I pray this song blesses you as deeply as it does me.
All my questions that are unresolved - doesn't change the wisdom of His will.
With love in our compassionate Lord,
~ Jean Marie ~

Lyrics are below the video.

"Out of the Depths" by Bob Kauflin (Sovereign Grace Music)

"Out of the depths, O Lord, I cry to You, When I am tempted to despair.
Though I might fail to trust Your promises, You never fail to hear my prayer.
And if You judged my sin, I'd never stand again.
But I see mercy in Your hands!

So more than watchmen for the morning,
I will wait for You, my God!
When my fears come with no warning,
In Your Word, I'll put my trust!
When the harvest time is over and I still see no fruit -
I will wait, I will wait for You.

The secret mysteries belong to You, We only know what you reveal.
And all my questions that are unresolved, Don't change the wisdom of Your will.
In every trial and loss, My hope is in the cross,
Where Your compassions never fail!


So more than watchmen for the morning,
I will wait for You, my God!
When my fears come with no warning,
In Your Word, I'll put my trust!
And when the harvest time is over and I still see no fruit -
I will wait, I will wait for You."

Monday, September 26, 2011

I:Heart:Faces: Summer 2011-

** Neatness alert: The judges votes are in, and they narrowed down the photos to the top 138 that they liked. :) Aaaaand we are number 129. Which is just beyond exciting and totally makes my day that much more happy. :) So now it is the people's turn to vote. You have from the time when you read this blog to Friday afternoon to vote. And you totally don't have to vote for me, or Tricia, haha. ;) But it's really fun! And no. I'm not going to vote for myself. haha. So go vote! Here! And thanks to the judges for liking my photo!!**



This face right here has been a much-beloved friend this past summer of 2011. :) I took this adorable shot of her at my 23rd birthday sleepover in late June. We'd just come back from the beach, and were standing outside in the coming rainstorm-weather, and I caught her eye. :)

Little did I know that at the time, she was pregnant with her and her husband's first child, and they hadn't told anyone yet. :) Her husband is a fireman, so when he is on shift, we spend time Skyping. Sooo much laughter and late nights and sharing what God has promised, and so much special time. :) Who knew that less than a year would make us best friends? :)

I love you so much, Tricia. You make my heart so glad. :) Thank you for being so awesome.
P.S. You are one adorable little wifey and mama-to-be. Cody is blessed.
Love,
~ Jean Marie ~


This week is a People's Choice week at I:heart:faces, for a Summer 2011 Face Photo, so if you want, click on over and vote! :) There are some amazing entries, like always!
Thanks for stopping by! :) It's always nice to hear from people, if you want to leave a comment!


Sunday, September 25, 2011

Sunday Reflections (1) -

Sunday Reflections by Jean Marie
From time spent dwelling upon the Lord we adore.


This has been a thought of mine countless Sundays ... and then sometime last year, I made the button image, and I kept thinking that I would do it, not telling anyone I might ....

and then Lauren beat me to it. ;) Great minds flow with some great thoughts. :)
So I guess we will be doing this together! You can see her Sunday posts here, at: A Corner Pillar.com

This has really been on my heart to do Sunday posts for at least a year now. I can't even tell you how many Sundays I have sat in church thinking .... "I have to write this down.". That's why I have numerous filled notebooks with sermon notes. Pages and pages. God has been so good. You may not know this, but I have attended the same church for 23 years. :) We have been blessed with a wonderful pastor who preaches the gospel and God's Word, and God's Word as Truth alone. Oh, and for the record, he is my best childhood friend's dad. ;)

I have sermon notes from 2002 somewhere on paper. I have sermon notes from 2006 in my latest journal that I just filled up. There are notes from Colorado church and Ohio church and Sovereign Grace church and Missouri church. :) Seminars and guest pastors and the summer when Kimberly and I drove over to St. Andrews Chapel in Sanford when they were still building on the new land. So there are a whole lot of notes, and a whole lot I could write. :)

But before I go into all that, I want to say something that prohibited the blogging on Sunday for the past (almost) 3 years. Unless it was an emergency or something like that, I simply have kept the blog quiet on Sundays. I had several good personal reasons for it.

A. It kept me from getting stressed about feeling that I had an obligation to blog.
B. I spent more time relaxing and less time thinking about what I should share with anyone else.
C. I didn't want Sundays to be "just another post" day, to fall into line with the rest of my writing.
D. I thought I could blog sermon notes another day in the week.

Now, you see that I am starting it up, so obviously ... some things have changed. What changed was, is that I realized that the hours right after what I heard, were the best time to share them! It was difficult for me to look back on my notes, and remember how to read what I wrote! Crazy note taker, here. ;) So I struggled to find how to make a day in the week work for that, and obviously - it didn't happen. It did sometimes pour itself into other posts, which is what it is supposed to do anyways. :) Also - because of the significance of the Sunday post, "C" is now void. :) There won't be any "look what I did today because I'm .... nice" posts.

Here's a look at the idea, and if it stops being this at any time, I will stop. :)

This is what I want Sunday Reflections to be like here on my blog:

A. Sermon notes, Scripture, hymns, songs, praise, glory, worship flowing from my heart.
B. Time spent talking about the Lord I adore.
C. Reminding myself of Who is in Control, as I start out another week. :)
D. Blessing others.

I've been ready to do this for a long time, and I'm glad to finally start. I've prayed over it, thought about it, and am getting down to it. :) I probably will not write every Sunday, because I do keep that one concern - that it will be something stressful or pressing, and I don't want that obligation on the Lord's Day. And some days it might be really short, or really long. :)

Sometimes I want to stand up and write out an entire sermon, and then I realize - God's already done that, and I don't need to ... uhm. ever. And now I have a place to fill up, that is just about Jesus. :) Jesus and all the mercies He has showered on His children. Precious Savior, and King of Kings.

~~~~~~~~~~~~

Here is the first Sunday Reflections post:

Hi. :) It is September 26th, 2011, and this is the glorious sermon I want to share with you. I hope and pray that it blesses you as much as it did me. The tears of grief have been coming easily these past few Sundays, as I go through week after week, and realize that people I love are not coming back to our dusty Earth, that in the rejoicing, remains the sorrow that I miss them. It is hard to look at a calendar and feel like 6 weeks could have been 6 years. It aches.

I have heard sermons on Revelations so many times, but tonight it was like gulping down air, I was desperate for it. If you are grieving and hurting, please take 48 minutes and 33 seconds, and allow God to renew and restore your soul and guide you to rest tonight. I am praying He does.

Josh Harris has long been one of my favorite pastors. He's right up there on my top 5. :)

"Joshua Harris delivered this sermon on January 23, 2011, at Covenant Life Church in Gaithersburg, Md. His text was Revelation 21:1-8." Find Cov. Life on Vimeo.

My favorite parts of the sermon that made my heart go "YES.", although I loved it all.
30:15 - A. "And God never says to us: "It doesn't matter, because you are going to Heaven.", no He says "I know those tears!!! And I'm going to wipe them away from your eyes! And I care about that pain! And I knew that loneliness, and I knew that anguish! And I'm going to come to you, and I'm going to place My hands upon you, and I'm going to make right all that is wrong. I'm going to make right all that was wrong."
42:53 - 43:48 B. "God doesn't ignore the reality of the heartache of this world. He doesn't glibly tell us to "cheer up" because we are going to Heaven. No, He acknowledges our grief, He acknowledges our sickness and our pain and our tears. He doesn't ask us to pretend that all is right in the world, He calls us to believe and to hope in the promise that one day Jesus is going to set all things right. That's what it means to mourn, but with hope. It's not pretending away the pain, and putting a fake smile on. It's saying "I am mourning because this life is filled with pain and death, and yet, Jesus is going to one day come and wipe away the tears and these things will be the former things!"! That's what it means to be a Christian who grieves, yet with hope!

46:05 - C. God has not promised us a better life, but He has promised us a better Eternity.

~~~~~~~~~~~~

and that was the first post. I know.
It was really long, but I wanted to address it all, because it was important to me to explain. :)

Because of Christ, we stand in the midst of all of life and cry "holy!"!
With love,
~ Jean Marie ~

Saturday, September 24, 2011

I could -

aaaaaaahhhhh!

"I could go to Heaven." - "You? I doubt it." :) So glad God has made it possible for us!

Hahahahaaa....I love Calvin and Hobbes so much, so when I read this this morning, I couldn't help sharing on here. I took a picture of my C&H book and sent it to my dad at work, because we adore C&H's mutually. :) This is how we feel about work, his work, my school. :)

~ All rights go to Bill Watterson. ~ :D The genius that he is.


And this .... is just beautiful, and as my piano teacher said "makes the soul soar"! :)

Absolutely beautiful!

"Then, with my waking thoughts bright with Thy praise,
Out of my stony griefs, Bethel I'll raise;
So by my woes to be, nearer, my God, to Thee.

Nearer, my God, to Thee, Nearer to Thee!
Nearer, my God, to Thee, Nearer to Thee!"

With thankfulness for the morning's bright mercies of being His Child Forever!!
~ Jean Marie ~

1 in 3,200 -

That's the statistic for getting hit by a 300 lb. piece of dead satellite hurtling down to Earth tonight from the 6 ton total satellite. One in 3,200 of a chance. And it came down in 1 hour. :)

So I stayed up to see where it plunked down. Or where the huge swath is where the pieces came down. :)

This is what I just read on NASA twitter:

"It's possible that #UARS is down by now. (Everybody OK out there?) We're waiting for confirmation from US Strategic Command."

and then just a minute ago, it reads:

"The U.S. is very safe from #UARS. It's final orbit did not cross the United States."

To which I only respond with "drat." because how awesome would it be to have a piece of space satellite fall in your backyard. I was gearing up for it. Getting to call NASA and be like "Hey, yeah. I have a piece of UARS in my backyard. Can I snap a piece off and someone can autograph it? Please?"

:) All I know is that I burst into the hugest grin when I read that first tweet. Yes, NASA. We are all fine, thank you for checking in with the world. :)

I love NASA.

Guess we can all sleep knowing we aren't dying by satellite strike tonight. *sigh*
What a way to go to see Jesus. Walk outside. Get hit by a satellite. BAM. In Heaven. :)
Much love to you all, and to all a good satellite-less-sleep,
~ Jean Marie ~

Friday, September 23, 2011

Wanderin' 'Round Barberville -

September 10th was a Saturday, and on that day, much fun was had. :D It was a CD Release Concert for 3 bands. It was the Morse Family Band, the Stone Family Band and Loner's Junction, aka: the Acevedos and Matt and Abi of the MFB.

There was food supplied, and the three concerts on the big train station stage, and Contra' Dancing, and guess what. They rented Barberville Pioneer Settlement. HAhaha. As if we didn't already run around there like it was our second home, now we had it all to ourselves. :D It was a bit strange, not walking around with hundreds of other people, but it was so lovely too. Quiet and sweet. :)

Anytime our gang gets together, we just have the best grand ole' time. Seriously .... some wonderful, Godly, giving, joyfilled people. :) We don't take each other toooo seriously, since most of the time we are joking around, and teasing and laughing. :) It's like one huge shouting, dancing, occasionally mock-fighting, boot stomping, singing, loving, family. I'm sure I forgot something in there.... ;)

It was quite sticky and humid during the concerts, but it all seemed to fit when Gabi from Loner's Junction started singing about Florida being his home. Ahhh. Then all the humidity seemed more like a badge of honor. That's what a good song'll do to ya'. ;)

I was a volunteer at the gate. Ahem. Let me rephrase that ... someone mentioned one line at Isaac and Lydiana's baby shower, and I immediately drafted myself. I was like "CAN I BE A GATE GUARD?! I have always wanted to be a guard. YAAY." and they were like "sure!". *snicker* Then I said: "do I get a gun?", they sort of looked at me like "do we look stupid?", and then I was like "a WATER GUN, and a vest! that says SECURITY on it!"!

Needless to say, the conversation turned into hysterical laughter after all this, and much hilarity ensued, talking about shooting people with water guns and the way it would be so much fun if I showed up all dressed in black, and etc etc. :) It became quite the joke on FB too. :D

My sweet little brother, Gabi, got a super swoosher gun for me, and even painted it black. He's so wonderful .... and yes, I was a very very very good gate guard. Epic even, Abi said. And yes. People were squirted. :) But only people I knew wouldn't care. :D

So ... um. Now to the pictures. :) You'll see that my two favorite have already been blogged, but I needed to include the rest of the fun here!! :)

Like Leah, of the Morse Family Band. She is so lovely. I also got a picture of her frowning, but I might get my water gun revoked if I blogged it. :)

Another little brother - Matthew Michel. Enthusiastic as ever. You can see his siblings behind him, being as ... normal as ever. ;D

Beautiful embroidery on a cowgirl hat.

I was shooting for Bro Nathan, down the line....poor Gabe. I'm sorry. :) I love this picture though, ahhaha ... the little girls smiling at the end. :)

In case you can't tell, it was a boot stompin', good, long, clappin' song from Loner's Junction.

Gabi sings about Florida bein' his home, and I fail at taking a picture of Spanish moss above me.

I was sitting next to the bride-to-be. :) My boot, her foot. :)

Beware: you sit in front of me, I will take numerous pictures of you. :)

A small note. See the bottom of the picture above this? See the rust bench? We named it Killer Bench. It would have been nicer to sit on concrete with leaves on it. We were trying to find how many different ways we could be uncomfortable on it. In case you are wondering, it was quite a tally. :)

So sweet I can barely stand it. :) They are getting married in 57 days!

The Morse Family Band, minus Matt. :) LtoR: Seth, Abi, Leah, Aaron, Mrs. Morse, and Matt (who you can't see). Mr. Morse (who you can't see either) was running sound. :)

I chose to just sit back and enjoy the music, that's why I don't have a lot of singing or playing pictures. :) Plus, I was distracted by leaning over to EmilyCase and Ben every time someone sang a love song. I'd lean over and be like "AWWW.", after the 5th time, Ben's eyes got that look like: "no.more.pleeeeaaaasee.". *snicker* I'm so wonderfully annoying.

You could hear the music all over Barberville, so Tricia and I went and ate dinner with EmilyCase and Ben during the SFB concert. I choked once and Tricia choked once, and THAT is why we can't sit together when we eat. Because you can't laugh, breathe AND EAT simultaneously. Especially when you are sitting by EmilyCase. It's a bad idea. This also works with Darby Sproul. :) You've been warned.

Sweet Hannah with her soda.

The way it might have looked in the 1800's.

Tricia and I chased the sunset light, and got some talking in. :) Which I love. Because I adore being with her, any chance I get.

It was so brilliantly beautiful.

The baby Case belly. :)

Meesh Lynn called us over, okay, let me rephrase that ... 3 giggling, shrieking girls shouted for us to come take a picture. Aaaand it was a disgusting locust, plague, pest, curse of the Fall in huge form. We screeched and I took a picture. AND THEN. it moved. and we all screamed and scrambled away. and as my back was turned ... Meesh threw a stick on the porch and I screamed bloody murder I was so startled. I don't know how the concert people missed it.

I whirled around and saw the grasshopper still where I left it. I glared at it, turned around and yes, all the little girls were dying laughing and Tricia was like "step.away.from.the.grasshopper.naow.". I'll admit, it was pretty funny, albeit startling. :)

In Which: It never pays to be the peasant girl who threw the stick and scared the camera lady. The poor peasant girl was soon released after this picture was taken, and giggles ensued once more. Her time in the stocks was mercifully short.

Joel had brought his chess game, and Dad played two games with him, during the whole concert, they were having a hi-ho time over at the tables, playing chess. :)

Don't ask me who won, that's like asking the grasshopper how to fix hair. Impossible.

It looks scary, doesn't it. Several people started walking toward the table, and sort of stumbled to a halt when they saw it lying right next to the money box. :) I would wave it happily ... "don't worry! It's a water gun!". The kids were gleeful, especially with shooting it. :) It did look so menacing in black. Gabi did a good job. :) There were some fights and it got stolen several times, followed by shrieking and chasing and squirting. It felt great in the hot air. :)

Several people didn't slow down fast enough in their cars at the gate, and so they got a windshield wash or a tire wash. :D haha. It was great. :) It sure made the gate a lot more fun to guard for 90 minutes! Oh, and I really let Gabi and Obi and their friend have it when they went out, but a bit of a problem when they came back in....their windows were down. And it wasn't Obi in the front seat - it was their friend. oh well! ;) muwaahahahaha....

Yes. I'm a Special Friend of a daughter of a Special Agent of the FBI. and I am packing .... water. *swoooosh*

Could be 1930 if it weren't for the cars. :) I love the Barberville Settlement in the evening.

I shot just a little bit of video of the Morse's singing acapella. It was gorgeous. :) Enjoy it!

Hope you enjoyed reading, and hope you can join in on the next function we have! :)
We always have a wonderful time, and yes, the dancing was wonderful, and it was all splendid!
Huge thanks to Gabi for setting it all up, and to the Settlement for allowing us to have it there!
Thanks for stopping by. :) It was so great seeing so many of you at the concert.
With much love and laughter,
~ Jean Marie ~

Click here to go to Shannon's post and see her pictures at A Bright Light in a Dark World. :)

Monday, September 19, 2011

To Dargan -

~ Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind. "Pooh!" he whispered.
"Yes Piglet?" .... "Nothing" said Piglet, taking Pooh's paw.
"I just wanted to be sure of you." ~

There haven't been many friendships that have lasted so long as the one between my friend Dargan and I. :) Before she came along, my sister and I were happily friends with her siblings, and then all of a sudden ... a girl to play with, around my age. :)

We all got along famously well. Like Pooh and Piglet. ;) So many childhood memories revolve around what Dargan and I did, or where we went, or what on earth we almost got in trouble for. :) I know we were way more blessed than we knew ....

(Mrs. D's picture ... from when we were young. :) )

I feel like as we grew up, we still stayed close in different ways. Even though, Dargan, you went to public school, and I cried because I knew it was all going to change .... and the once a week get-togethers had to fade off, because our time schedules were different, and so was school, and then .... all of a sudden, we were growing up. There's something though, that stays dear. :)

I love that Pooh quote, because it's exactly how I feel we are. Remember every Sunday we would run screaming to see each other, and give each other huge hugs? Well, I guess some things never change. The hugs are still awesome. :) But I also remember so many times, coming up behind each other, slipping an arm around the other's waist, or slipping a hand into another, resting our heads together....just being sure of the other person.

We are different friends than we were at childhood, and we have different lives and friends and everything else, but we share the same precious Savior and the bond of being His daughters.

Something sweet has stayed, from knowing you will love me even if I mess up, and I will love you the same way back. Maybe it comes from being friends for about 20 years. :) Maybe it's because our lives have been so entwined for so long, that it's normal to think back on childhood and think of Dargan and Jean. My childhood forever holds deep memories of us.

and I think that makes us so special. :)

Jean and Dargan - July 2011

I love you so so much, and always will. :) My dear, longest friend ....
Thank you so so much for the years of friendship, adventures, and expeditions. :)
Happy 21st birthday, and all the joys that come with knowing you are so loved,
~ Jean Marie ~

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

A gift -

They are getting married. :) In 66 days. :)

photo taken September 10th, on their 5th week anniversary. :) at Barberville.
Barberville: The Courtin' Stompin' Grounds.

They are getting married -
and I get to be right there, standing there with my best friend, watching her get married.

Yes. I'm a bridesmaid. :)

This is the part where if you were me, you would faint or freak out or run around the house screaming in joy. Or do the happy dance for 3 minutes every 5 minutes for the next week every time you think about any conversation that starts with "Ben", "EmilyCase" or "Wedding.".

So I didn't faint. And since it was night, actually, at 1am, I didn't run around screaming either. Buuut I did freak out, and I did burst into tears. :)

So here's the story that I wrote out, so I'd have it on my memory file just like it happened. :) I typed it all up a few minutes after I finished talking to EmilyCase, when I still had tears in my eyes. :)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"Skyping with EmilyCase on August 9th, 2011 at around 1am -

Mrs Case walks in ... EmilyCase starts smiling very sweetly, and my heart goes skippity-skip .... "I have a question to ask you. :) Actually, it's a request." And she smiles.

And I try to break the moment in case it's not what I think she might say. I say "I have the sniffles. *sniffs to prove the point* ". She laughs, "I think you might have the sniffles more after I ask you ........ Will you be a bridesmaid in my wedding?"

I am overwhelmed instantly, and in the second after she says "bridesmaid", I put my hands over my face and burst into tears. I totally lose it.

I could hear her and Mrs. Case going "Awwww!", and as my shoulders shake and I try to pull it together as EmilyCase breaks in the silence with a "is that a yes?". :) I pull my hands down with tears streaming down my face and smile as hard as I can without making a sound, and I nod. I nod a yes. I cover my face and wipe at tears, and nod again. Firmly. A smile breaks out. :D

She is delighted, and so is Mrs. Case. haha.

I breathlessly choke out "I had been hoping you would want me to, but praying that God would not keep me thinking about it that you would, so I wouldn't be disappointed if you didn't ask!"! Haha .... and she laughed again, so sweet.

"This is the first time I've cried since you were engaged!!", I sniffle and wipe away the last of the streaming joyous tears .... "I would LOVE to. Thank you!!! That's so sweet of you!"

I am overwhelmed. Overwhelmed and overjoyed.

And I try to pull it together to choke out trembling words that it means so much, and I don't even remember if I correctly thanked her ... but I'm pretty sure bursting into tears says it all for me. :)

So completely precious.

I love her.

And God is so so kind."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Wow. I'm in joyful tears all over again. What a gift!

They are getting married, and I am honored to be a part of it. So so precious to me.

I really love her. :)
(taken April 2011. that one day after Barberville that was one of the best days of my life.)

Wanna' hear something funny? So, somewhere in that conversation, I asked who the other bridesmaids were, and when she told me that Lauren was one of the other ones, I was like "Did you ask her yet?!", and she was like "yes, I asked her earlier", and so I said "What did she say!?", and of course - "she said yes. and that it was an honor....", and then EmilyCase told her that she was going to ask Jean later .... and apparently Lauren was like "She's going to cry.".

HAha. She hit the nail right on the head with that one. ;) I love that she knows me so well.

And when a little later, Mama walked in to see why on earth I was skyping, well, at 1am, she wasn't so surprised when she saw it was the Bride to Be. haha. Sooo much leniency. I told Mama, and she was just soooo happy for me. I told her matter of factly: "I cried.", and my Mama was like "aaaaww!" and got all teary eyed. It was sooo sweeeet. *happy sigh* She knows I don't normally cry at really happy news. :) I usually run around screaming. hahaha. :)

So that's the story. The really sweet gift of EmilyCase to me. I'm so blessed. :)
In case bursting into tears didn't quite explain enough, EmilyCase - thank you. :D
*scrunched noses* I love you so much.
The RedHeaded Bridesmaid,
~ Jean Marie ~

Here's the Blond Bridesmaid's post on it, and she also tells some more background to EmilyCase and Ben's story! :)

Oh, and if you are amazed that I kept this under wraps this whole time ... yes. Do be amazed. Because I didn't mention it to barely anyone in .... 5 weeks or something. :D Finally, yesterday, I was like "EmilyCase, do I get to blog this? or are you going to...", leaving out the part that I might implode if I don't just get it out there sometime soon. ;) hahaaha. She's like "sure!". :D

THE WEDDING IS IN JUST 66 days AND YES I AM SOO EXCITED!!!!! :D

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

To: Paulina -

*explodes*

Happy Birthdaaaayyyy!!!!!!!

Happy Birthday to one of the best and dearest friends I've ever had! :D

Miss. Paulina Krause. She's 22 today! :)

I knew right away what picture I wanted for this post. It's this one of her laughing. :)
When she laughs, I have to to. And when she is sarcastic, aka: 75% of the time, it's so hilarious, that I am soooo not responsible for how loud I am when I'm laughing hysterically. ;)

Well, technically, I took this when she was like....21.um.....21.8? whatever. but she looks amazing, huh? Her laugh is pretty much one of the best.things.ever.

I just love being with her, no matter what we do. :) We haven't had a lot of time, between her college work schedule that is insane, and everything else that life throws at us....

and so I hope we get to have some time together pretty soon. :)


Paulina -
I know that there have been so many times when I've written you, between losing grandparents and our dog, and so many loved ones, and you wrote back that you just didn't know what to say. But you'd be praying anyways. Thank you so much.

I hoped and prayed that you wouldn't have to feel grief like I have, and you just lost your Lolo. I hurt a lot over that, and now it's my turn to cover you in prayer, as you walk through this.

You are such a special friend, and I cherish every memory with you. It has not always been easy, and sometimes I think we both wonder when life is going to settle down enough to actually get down to not being stressed out about life (or maybe that's just me. ;) )! But I know that times with friends encourages us. Friends, sisters in Christ, we need each other .... and you have been encouraging and uplifting to me so many times over the years we've known each other.

So this is me. Sending you a long birthday hug, for your 22 years of grace from our loving Heavenly Father, who has bestowed us with all manner of wonderful and perfect gifts.
And has blessed so many of us with you as a friend.
Happy 22nd birthday!!!! :D Can't wait to see you soon.
I love you so so so so soooooo much, my curly haired Filipino friend,
Love,
~ Jean Marie ~

You are beautiful, my dear friend, walk in the light of His glorious grace for you.

Look how small Lucy Mae was! She was just 8 weeks here. ;)
Me, Lucy Mae, Paulina, and Peter. Christmas cookie decorating.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Two smiles for today -

Today I really really needed some things to smile about. And I found two. Two smiles today.

Here's the first one. :)

1. Baby Belly picture. There's a baby in there! Maybe two. ;) in case you don't know - it's Tricia!
I took this picture on September 10th, at Barberville, while we chased some sunset light. :)

and here's the second one. :)

2. An e-mail.
EmilyCase wrote me this morning, and actually made me laugh out loud. Here's what she said:

"Jean Marie, I am begging you, on my hands and knees, to make tapioca for the bridal shower. PLEASE.

I love you.

Goodbye."


Don't worry. I won't make her beg. :)
But golly Moses, that is going to be a lot of Tapioca Pudding.

Thank you Lord .... amid a hard day, for even just two smiles.
Thank you to Tricia and Baby Case and EmilyCase. ;)
I love you three. oh. and Cody too. and Ben too, I guess. ;)
With love,
~ Jean Marie

9-11-2011 Ten Years -

**Written: Sunday, September 11th, 2011. Published: Monday, September 12, 2011**

Pieces from the WTC site, at the Police Hall of Fame and Museum, FL.

~~~~~~~~~~
As a writer, in a way :), it was very hard for me this past week, because I was bombarded on every side every time I got on the internet. Actually, it's been going on since late August. Perhaps you know what I'm talking about - maybe you've noticed too. My home page just so happens to be Yahoo, and way back in August, they started their "9-11 Remembered" page, and an article showed up, a new one for every 12 hours, it seemed.

The first time, I thought, "ooh goodness. I need to read this", and so I did. I didn't realize it would be going on for a few weeks. I'm not gonna lie - it has gotten increasingly harder as this anniversary has come up ... for me to not make a big deal out of it.

Now before you explode, let me explain.

9-11 is a big deal every year for me, and I remember it every year, by writing, or taking pictures, or spending time journaling .... it is something I will never forget or get over, or stop praying for those families. But .... to have it coming at you from every side every day when you are working around on the computer .... it was exhausting. It was getting more than exhausting, it was dredging up all the emotions and everything that normally I only have to go through JUST on the day of 9-11. Instead, I was getting preview after preview and having to push past my emotions every day leading up it.

Practically every one of my favorite pastors and teachers had several articles on it.
There are sermons I have bookmarked, and quite a few articles, I've got the special American songs stuck in my head, and the unwanted memories of the 9-11 TV specials that forever ring in my ears around the anniversaries. The words I wrote in my journal following the first time I saw the footage scroll through my mind unbidden. There is new footage, and new interviews, and new releases of things we haven't heard yet. There are memorial unveilings and special words and Biblical sermons on how to look at it all from all different angles.

It is heart-wrenching to relive it every year, not that I willingly dive into the pain of it all, but it seems, because it is such a permanent part of the American's heart, that I would be thrust into it, and work through it every year.

Earlier in the week, I told Tricia "I can't believe it has been 10 years, it seems like yesterday. I know exactly where I was, and exactly when we heard. I know it sounds horrible, but I just can't wait until it's over. Yes, it's been 10 years, but it's just another year. It's hard every year."

aaaaand then she knocked me back into place and reminded me how hard it must be on those families to have to deal with it every single day. So true.

It's not like it doesn't still hit me every time I look at the clock and it reads "9:11", that I don't think of that day. It's impossible not to. I remember the first year, I got tears of shock in my eyes every time I saw that.

So many memories. Maybe too much. But there's nothing I can do about that.

~~~~~~~~~~

Standing underneath the flag, in honor and memory, grieving for all we lost that day.

~~~~~~~~~~
When finally this morning, September 11th, 2011 came .... I had driven myself into that crevice of the Rock of Ages that would not be moved by how anyone interpreted the attacks other than being allowed by God's hand. To deny that God was in control is to say that He is not sovereign.

Either He is God. Or He is not. There is no middle ground. And He is.

I got up and watched the ceremony at the WTC Memorial streaming live. I put my hand over my heart and whispered along to our National Anthem. I watched until I had to peel myself away to ready for church.

I got in the car and started to drive to church, when I neared the entrance of our subdivision, I faltered, and slowed down. There were signs on both sides "2,977 flags, one for every person lost on 9-11", and there, lining the road on one side, were tiny American flags, stuck into the ground, fluttering in the breeze as far as I could see.

All these weeks I hadn't cried, and I had been fine, and right then and there - I lost it.

Tears came easy, so easy the rest of the morning. I cried off and on through the whole church service, more on that later today .... it was overwhelming to try to fathom, and the memories came and stayed with me. Unwanted, but also muffled by the praise that rose from our voices to the Lord Who ordains all in His just and perfect wisdom.

*shakes head* Amazing, Lord. How have we lived through all this? Even, so Lord Jesus come!

~~~~~~~~~~~

I know this is so long. You probably won't ever read it all. :)

But I wanted to share, and writing it out is the best way I know how. That and pictures. So this evening I drove out to take pictures of the little flags, and sadly drove up to the entrance to see that the kind neighborhood committee was rejoicing in that one last sign. ;) I pulled up and rolled down my window, seeing that one of the men was nearing where I was.

I thanked him, and told him how special it was and how appreciative I was that they had done that, adding on that I saw them going to church this morning, and then drove by after church all the way down to where they ended. He looked so pleased, and when the others noticed that I was talking to him, they locked eyes with me as well. I thanked the entire group ... again, repeating the words, and expressing my thanks from my heart.

They said they were so glad, and I pulled away, that American spirit cradling me like a blanket.

So, I still wanted some flag pictures, so I headed down to the Veterans Memorial, pulling up as the sun started to spill out of the clouds and the wind was whipping up as a storm moved through. I walked towards the water, and halted as I saw our flag at half-mast.

Then I moved on, taking pictures and videotaping. I even walked out on the pier and watched the sun set, and saw a manatee swim by. :) But the water was so so rough and choppy. It seemed angry. As if it was our fault that our dear flag was at half mast. The water was spitting up little fountains and smacking the posts and planks, and the wind was pulling at the pier. Between the two of those elements, the pier was creaking and groaning. It sounded like it was moaning. Other than the whipping wind, and the moaning pier and the smacking waves, it was quiet. No seagulls calling. No people talking. No music across the water. It was just very somber.

I stayed awhile, and I prayed some, and then I left. 10 years will go by fast again.

I made a video with the footage and pictures. I wanted it to be special, and I think it is. :)

Here is what I wrote this morning on Facebook, and what I'd like to close with here:
"Matthew 24:31 "And He shall send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other." ~
Lord, please put Eternity into the hearts of the people here on 9-11, let them come to You for the precious Comfort of being Children of the Promise. For You shall be glorified in all the Earth. Comfort, Ye, Your people. Amen."

I can sum up 10 years in 3 words - God is gracious.

It was a terrible, tragic day, that Tuesday morning: filled with horror, pain and suffering. Words seem to not even be able to describe the shock our nation felt in the minutes, hours, days, even months and years afterwards. It stuns us to our core, let it also drive us to our knees before the One who sustains our every breath in life. As Americans - let us live honorable lives.

I remember.
~ Jean Marie ~

You can read back at some of the memories here, 9-11 8 years ago., and 9-11 9 years ago.
Please feel free to share your 9-11 stories in the comments below.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Ormond Beach Dance -

Our dear friends the Sparlings mischeviously and magnanimously put together a dance night with their church in Ormond Beach with the Jackson Creek Band and Roy Moye as the caller. Aka: The best dance band and caller EVER.

Ok, so maybe they did not plan it mischeviously. But it sounded so like them. ;)
It was on Labor Day, September 5th, and we all had such a lovely time. Thank you, Sparling Church!!!

I have 36 pictures in this post. I think I went cross-eyed about 5 times, just trying to figure out if I put the pictures in order and got all of them. Needless to say, it's gonna be LONG. ;) but nice. Here we go!

Driving there....of all scenes in the sky, my favorite is when the sun pours sunbeams down. Often, it gives me chills. Heaven's glories spilling out. Be near to us, Jesus.

a picture to remember how I did my hair - as if I will be able to replicate it. *laugh*

As we broke out of the heavy rain, this greeted us, looking to the East. Promises of God.

Of course, Kimberly and I ran to the beach when we got there. Just to see our beloved sea. There must have been some good waves earlier, because we saw a lot of surfers leaving.

Walking back to the church from the ocean (it's just across the street).

Okay. Small break. :D We had started dancing, and then at the beginning of the introduction of another dance, Ben and Emily walked in the door, hand in hand. A collective sigh rolled through the room, and then someone shrieked, and I figured "hey, if I'm not the first one, I might as well scream too." and so I did. I whooped, and a few others joined in. AHAHAHA. They stood there grinning and blushing, and my gosh, it should've been in a movie. HaHa. Then everyone clapped and cheered. HAHAa. It was so so great. :)

Then Mr. Sparling ran over to poor Mr. Moye, who had no idea what everyone was clapping for. :) He whispered in Mr. Moye's ear....but we were all being so loud, that I think he misunderstood...which is why he announced them as the newlyweds. After a jolt, I thought "they better not have!" HAHA. :) No worries. :) The wedding is in 71 days.

So we all went dancing, and I went a whole dance (8minutes) until I could hug her and Ben. See, it was the first time I saw them together. It was so wonderful. I'm so excited. (Understatement of the year. *snicker*) Okay. back to the pictures. ;)

BWAAAH. ok. sorry.

Charles and EmilyCase. Yes. Can you spot the bling on her hand? ;D *giggle* I can.

Remembering all the steps has got to be hard sometimes when you're just a wee lad. :)

Okay. Break again. When I rushed over and hugged EmilyCase, I pressed my nose against hers and we stood there in giddy joy. I laughed out loud "You are here with Ben! You get to DANCE with Ben!!!!" and she giggled with me "I KNOW!"! Our noses crinkled and we held on to each other's arms in fierce excitement. :) She's so precious. I love the sisterhood we have. ;)

I was right next to her sitting down, and Ben was next to her on the other side. He found his way to be in the picture with his love. :) I love her smile. ;)

EmilyCase took these next three - I was somewhere. Official! First person to take pictures with my d90 other than my family! Woot! :)

Daddy and Kimberly waltzing.

LtoR: BroNathan waltzing with Becs, Gabi and Abi, and Dad with Kim. :)

Yeah. Matthew Morse tends to put all our waltzing to shame. Thanks a lot Matt. And Anna tends to look graceful when she dances....so let's just say they showed us all up. ;)

Ohmygoodness. This was so cute. Luke wanted to take a picture of Provvy (his best friend), and Mrs. Burnsed needed to hold the camera steady for him. It was ADORABLE though. :)

Aaron entertains us all by eating cake AND balancing a fedora on his head while looking dubiously at the rest of us.

Waltzing can scarcely be any cuter when it's with two little cowgirls.

Sharing funny stories ....

The Broom Dance ... all the ladies in a line ...

Mr. Moye - our favorite caller who has the patience of a saint. We love him. :)

The Lassies and Lads.

That Golfing Buddy of mine - Aaron.

Part of the Jackson Creek Band - Mrs. and Mr. Waller, and Mrs. Morse.

Gotta love all the little cowboys. Brason and Boaz (future little bro-in-law's to EmilyCase), and little sister-in-law's in the background, Provvy and Beri.

HAH! I did get a picture of Will! Yes, he's tall. And beautiful Bethany. She looks like she stepped out of Little House on the Prairie. I love it. :)

Favorite! Little Cowboy Luke in total dance concentration. :) Jeff called him a little Garth Brooks. HAhaha. He's quite the little swaggering chap.

and Provvy. :) in all her sweetness. 20 years - wedding bells? :)

Poor Luke got accidentally knocked down, and came back bawling, but calmed down quite a bit when his best friend showed up with some ice for him. Provvy LOVES ice, but when Luke turned it down, holding onto his cell phone, she shrugged a little and ate the ice. :)
Mrs. Brower appeared to check on Luke in his mama's lap. :) I think Luke was the most upset that it happened in front of Provvy and that his hat got knocked off. ;) haha.

Ashlynn's feet -

Sweet Little Bit and her cheeky smile.

Baby Ashlynn gets a bottle and thoroughly enjoys the music. :)

Curly haired little one watching the swirling, stomping commotion.

Little Bit was determined to press down every single valve on the organ. HAHAAH.

Clapping to the beat -

Momma Case left to see if she could help out Mrs. Brower with Ashlynn, and I followed her, hoping to get some Ashlynn time. :) And I did! I'd loved seeing Ashlynn for the first time, since so many prayers had been sent up to our loving Heavenly Father for her.

Clearly, she was at home smiling for Momma Case, and completely happy. :) What a beautiful, precious gift of God she is! I was utterly overjoyed to snap some pictures of her joy. :)


Smiles ....

Beautiful baby feet.

This one is so amazing to me. Ashlynn has a 5 inch scar on her chest, its pinking and smoothing, healing beautifully, and she is growing! At 6 months, she's small, but what a fighter! Here's the size of my hand and her foot .... God has sustained and lifted up her little family, and they love her so so much. Please continue in your prayers for her growth and health! :)

One last one - a giggling baby girl. Doesn't get much better than that. :)

Whew! That was a lot of pictures. :)

I'm putting the two videos in a separate post, below this one, so you can view them there. I videotaped EmilyCase and Ben's first waltz, so that Lauren, Tricia and Adie, who couldn't be there, could see. And you all, of course. :) And a video of Luke and Provvy, and some of Ashlynn. :)

Oh, and we finished off the evening with walking over to the beach, us gang of children and teens and adults (and several dads, haha), and walking on Ormond Beach in the dark. With half a moon lighting up the rolling and crashing waves, and the soft breeze blowing, it was gorgeous.

Hahha. At one time, I was walking with Abi, and I was getting wet! I sort of whined at her "Are you splasheeng meeee?!", and she was like "No! Are you splasheeng ME?", and we turned and Gabi was running between us. Thanks a lot. hahaha. :)

Then we sat on the wooden bridge between the road and the beach there on the dunes, and Gabi strummed the ukelele and we tried to break out into song, but the dad's came and got us. :)

After we left, I was STARVING. Like - my head hurts and I'm achy, because I just danced for 2 hours and I burned off 6 meals in calories. So Dad graciously let us go to Steak 'N Shake for some late dinner for the ride home. :) He's so nice to us. And yes. It tasted so so good.

All in all - we had such a wonderful, laughter filled evening. Thank you, Sparlings!

With love,
~ Jean Marie ~