Saturday, March 31, 2012

Heaven's Playlist

Every now and then, a song comes along that makes me think: We HAVE to sing this song in Heaven!!!

If I could have a playlist in Heaven (is that wrong!?), "Deep Cries Out" from Bethel Church would have to be on it. It's not a brand-new song, but it's brand-new to me... and I am obsessed with it! I'm not much of a dancer, but this song makes me want to dance-jump-shout because it is so filled with God's joy. I'm obsessed with it.

It made me think of other songs that get my brain stirring about singing in Heaven. I am no expert, so I really can't tell you what Heaven will really be like. Maybe we will sing songs we sang on Earth. Maybe we will only be able to sing "Hosannah in the Highest!". Maybe we won't sing at all. I dunno. But, these are just a few of the songs that get me in a Heavenly mindset:

"Deep Cries Out" by Bethel Church:

"Ride On, King Jesus" performed by Apostolic Tabernacle Mass Choir:

"I Exalt Thee" performed by Chris Quilala/JesusCulture:

And, of course, no playlist for Heaven could be complete without my FAVORITE worship song of all time: "Shout to the Lord" by Darlene Zchech!

What gets you feelin' Homeward Bound? Are there any songs that get you thinking about what it might be like to worship God for all eternity?

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Budgeting by the Bible

Budgets. Money. Spending. Saving. I just know you are loving this post already. :)

I write about these verses a lot, but it's because I believe so firmly in them! As Blake and I start our careers and living life, the topic of money comes up... a lot. We don't have much of it, which is probably why we are so obsessed with it. Well, I am obsessed with it because I took over the money-handling a few months ago. I carefully keep up with each penny we spend, save, and give. I plan for it, rearrange plans, and review our budget every few days. I use a spreadsheet to keep up with where things are going and although I don't have it quite right just yet, it gets better each month.

But what I panic is about is not making it month-to-month. Currently, we have enough to meet our monthly needs (and, I'll admit here that we still have our parents' help with some things since Blake is still in school and making a 1/3 of what he will make once he is done). We always save, we always tithe, and we always treat ourselves just a little. :) What I panic about is the future.

I read magazines/news articles/books about saving for the future. Saving for retirement, saving for unforseen medical expenses, saving for our kids' educations. It freaks me out. I look at our budget now and I barely see enough room to pay for my own student loans, much less room to start any sort of college funds for our future babes. I just read that we need to be putting 15% of our income into our 401K each month NOW - in our 20s and 30s - for the retirement Blake says he never even wants! Errrr.... that 15% is currently being used to pay car payments and gas! Sorry, 401K.

I start to panic, and I remember Proverbs 30:7-9. "...neither poverty nor riches..."

And I think about Matthew 6:31-33, "So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has trouble of its own."

I wonder if I can really do that - not worry about tomorrow. Not worry about retirement. Not worry about our kids' college fund. Not worry about buying a new car. Not worry about future expenses. Not worry about the future.

God has provided every step of the way for me for a long time - particularly since I started praying Proverbs 30:7-9. Money has always come from somewhere. Sometimes it has been in abundance, other times it has been little-by-little. But it always comes. Yes, we need to save as much as we can. Yes, we need to be responsible for our spending. I dare say that less than 2% of our income goes to discretionary spending. The rest is allotted for tithing, saving, bills, and necessities.

Let tomorrow worry about itself. We do what we can, we hold ourselves accountable for what we spend and save, and we trust God for the rest.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Just a Quick Note

So I got the urge to re-do my blog design the other day... and I clicked something strange while playing with layouts and I can't figure out how to un-click it! And it's so beautiful outside today that I just don't have the energy to fix it!!!

I have, however, had the energy to spruce up our patio! New furniture, new plants... the whole nine yards (well, the whole 6'x10'.....). But it's so beautiful outside today that I don't want to take the time to take a picture, upload it, and post it to this blog post!

AND we had a blast in Chattanooga last weekend and I have some great photos and some thoughts I'd like to share, but it is so beautiful outside today that I just don't have the desire to upload the photos and write the post!

But somehow, I managed to spend 10 minutes typing this... dang it.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

My Fred

I think it's safe for me to assume most everyone reading this already knows my dad passed away unexpectedly in 2006. The effects of ARDS over six years caused the organs in his body to lose function over time and they just couldn't keep up. I was devastated.

But my heart didn't hurt for just me. It also hurt for my mom, who lost her husband. I was so afraid that she would be alone for the rest of her life. Thankfully, God had other plans. :)

Over lunch at Panera in September 2009, my mom casually mentioned she had been on a date the night before. I was SHOCKED! Long story short... they got married this past September!

Now I have two new sisters (one of them is not pictured here), a new nephew, and a new niece. And, of course, a new dad. :) I don't call Fred my step-dad because I hate that word. I just call him "My Fred".  I could see Fred and my dad being buddies and I think my dad would be happy to know that Fred is taking care of my mom and our little family.

In many ways, Fred is a lot like my dad. Both a little goofy, both very, very intelligent, both very compassionate. Both a little shy, both a little reserved at times, both devoted to my mama.

Beyond just being fun to be around, Fred is passionate about spreading the Gospel. He is constantly - and I mean constantly - pursuing ways to tell people about Jesus. He knows SO much more about the Bible than I do - and Fred has only been a Christian for a little less than a decade. Can you believe that?? It's amazing what God has done in Him and I am so proud of the ministry God has given him.

When I glance at "new" family pictures, I am amazed at what God has done. Not only did God provide a new husband to keep my mom company, but he brought my mom back to life. Fred has made her happiness and joy bubble back to the surface.

And for me, I feel like I have been given a second chance with a new dad. I still mourn over the things my "real" dad doesn't get to experience as a father (and that I don't get to experience with him as a daughter). But God gave me a suitable replacement. Someone worthy to go through life being my dad from here on out. And I am oh-so-thankful.

Like any little girl, I always imagined my dad walking me down the aisle and giving me away at my wedding. When he died, his presence at my wedding was one of the first things I mourned. But when I got married last June, a different man stood beside my mom to give me away. His name was Fred. My Fred.

I apologize if you had to go grab a Kleenex!!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Never Ever Have I Ever

A few weeks ago, our Sunday School class had a game night... and what a revealing night it turned out to be! We started with the ever-popular "Never Ever Have I Ever". You know, the one where you sit in a circle and there's one less chairs than people and the person in the middle says something they've never done and all those who have done the said thing have to get up and switch chairs. (That was a mouthful!) Well... a few things I'd rather not have shared were mentioned... so I thought a blog post about little-known-Katie-facts would be fun!

- I failed Biology 101 at Montevallo. Not because I wasn't smart, mind you. It was because Family Feud came on at the same time and I stayed home to watch it.... a lot. By the time I realized my final grade was in serious jeopardy, it was too late to make any significant difference (and I couldn't drop it). So, I failed the class. The next time I took it, I aced it... as well as all of my other physics/math classes.... and I still got to graduate summa cum laude from UA. :)

- I worked at a fast food restaurant... for like 2 months during high school. A family friend owned the shop and gave me and a couple of friends jobs. It was fun while it lasted!

- I attended 3 Universities on my quest to finish my degree. It went something like this: Shelton State 2003-2005; University of Montevallo 2005-2006 and Jan-Aug 2008; Shelton Fall 2008; UA Jan 2008-2011. Crazy, huh?

- I moved out of my parents' house for the first time when I was in 10th grade. I lived with my cousin Steve to help with his girls and be closer to my school (it was 40 minutes away from my parents' house). It worked out because my dad ended up being hospitalized for 3 months that fall. I moved out again in 12th grade to live with my sister (again, because my high school was so far away). I moved out again in the summer of 2005 to go to Montevallo; back home in 2006 after my dad died; back to Montevallo in 2008 to try to finish my degree there; back home that August because I still hated Montevallo. Then I lived with my mom until I got married... well, and even after I got married... :) 

- I cheated on a French test in high school. It was totally justified. My French teacher was crazy. 

- I got my first tattoo at 19; my second at... 24, I think.

- I have had 4 cars since I turned 16 (Ford Focus, Jeep Cherokee, VW Jetta, and the Corolla).

- My sister is 16 years older than me and YES I was planned. I was my mom's 1984 New Years Resolution. :)

- On my mom's side of the family, I have 13 first cousins and 20something second cousins and this fall, I'll have my very first third cousin!

Well... that's all you get because I have to go take a shower and do laundry so I can watch TLC's My Crazy Obsession... the episode where the big ugly guy is obsessed with pretending to be a baby!!!!!!! :)

Sunday, March 4, 2012

What's to Love About Leviticus?

At First Baptist, the entire congregation is following a one-year Bible reading plan that takes us through scripture in Chronological order. So far we have read Genesis, Exodus, Job, Leviticus, and some Psalms. Genesis, Exodus, and Job were easy. And then we hit Leviticus. And Numbers.

Most people would say they don't like those books because they are hard to understand, they are (at time) quite boring (Numbers 7 about did me in... 12 days of the same exact offering!!), and they are obscure in terms of the Christian lingo. Most of us are fluent in New Testament.... not so much in the Old Testament sacrifices and laws.

But what I have found most challenging about Leviticus (and now we're in Numbers) is the law. And how it reveals my sin.

My prayer at the beginning of 2012 was for God to reveal my sin to me and help me learn to come face-to-face with it instead of ignoring it. I'll be honest here - I don't spend a great deal of time asking for forgiveness for my sins. I don't dwell on my sins or my sinfulness or what I really deserve.

The Church talks so much about grace and love and gentleness and how God doesn't see us as the heathens that we are. Those things are not untrue. But guess what... I am also a sinner. I don't live in sinfulness, but many of my ways are sinful. Sometimes I want to avoid the law, ignore it, pretend it doesn't exist... but the law there because it is life-giving. God's laws are still applicable today, His promises still ring true, His judgement the same as it was in Leviticus. I owe to Him my life, which means obeying His commands even when it's inconvenient, difficult, confusing, painful.

"Is the law then contrary to the promises of God? Certainly not! For if a law had been given that could give life, then righteousness would indeed be by the law." (Galatians 3:21)

We are no longer "held captive" (Galatians 3:23) under the law because we have faith through Christ. But the law is still there for us. The rules are meant to show us our sin, to remind us of how much we need a Savior.

And, oh, how I need Him.