First Family Vacation

That's right... we're just taking our very first family vacation.  We'll definitely be making it a priority to do each year from now on.  The girls are getting big enough to travel and enjoy some time away.  I'm hoping we can do even more now that we'll be home schooling.  We can incorporate our travels into lessons - and won't be so restricted on when we go.  And, Derek's new job offer should be here any day.  With his new job, he'll be working from home - which means he can also work remotely.  God has really been paving a path for us and I'm soooo excited!!

Anyway... just wanted to share a few highlights of our trip so far.  I know it isn't over yet, but I thought if I documented it while it's happening, I won't forget the details before I scrapbook it.  ;)

We drove over to Myrtle Beach on Thursday afternoon.  The girls traveled pretty well.  With all of our stops, we made it in about 7.5 hours.  The place we're staying in is BEAUTIFUL!  (We're using my in-law's time share.)  We are right on the beach.  We have a 3 bedroom villa on the 7th floor.  It is so nice!  We've eaten breakfast & dinner here - only going out for lunch.  It's worked out great for us.

Friday we spent the day on the beach.  The girls LOVED playing in the sand.  Even though its still way too cold to swim in the ocean, they chased the waves a bit wading in the water at the edge of the beach.  Audrey actually fell in a couple of times - but she loved it.  She especially loved chasing (and feeding) the seagulls.  We walked down to the pier and had some lunch.  We built sand castles.  Audrey won a turtle race.  :)  We found LOTS of seashells and "treasures" on the beach.  We came back to rest - and Maddie fell asleep in the floor with her hiney in the air.  So cute!  D & I played games and put puzzles together with Audrey.  Then we went swimming briefly in the indoor pool.  And, finished the day off cuddling in bed watching a movie!

Saturday we slept in a bit.  We first went to The Children's Museum of South Carolina.  They really enjoyed that.  It was Dr. Suess week, so they had several activities with that theme.  They made Ooleck.  :)  They got to meet Clifford the Big Red Dog.  They got to play all kinds of different things like restaurant, post office, pizza maker, paleontologist, bus driver, sailor, etc.  Afterward, we drove around Myrtle Beach and found a place to eat - 2 Dogs 'a Walkin'.  LOL  Then we went to Barefoot Landing and walked around a bit.  We bought a kite there.  (And, I bought those stick figures to put on my van.  Ya know, the ones that represent your family.  Silly, I know, but I've always wanted some.  LOL)  We came back to the beach and flew the kite for a while.  It was GREAT!  It was so windy that the kite went up immediately.  Audrey did great!  We didn't stay out long because it was late and really cold.  Maddie doesn't seem to be feeling very well, so we came in pretty soon.  Though, we did stop by the activities center and play a little ping pong ball.  :)

So, that's it for now.  We're having a great time!  Can't wait for tomorrow.  It's the last day, sadly - and is suppose to storm all day.  We'll just have to get creative!

I'll have to post more pictures from home.  The internet at the resort is not very strong. 

Happy Friday!

I know, I said I wouldn't get back to you until next week, but I'm waiting for something to run at work - so I thought I'd pop on.  The weather is beautiful!  I'm really looking forward to a fantastic weekend.  I started a great new Bible study yesterday called Jonah: Navigating a Life Interrupted.  We watched the intro video yesterday and it is going to be fantastic.  And, after a 5:30 am wake up call this morning from the Harley across the street, I just got myself up (ok, maybe not immediately - but way earlier than I normally would) and started reading it.  It actually felt kinda nice to be up before everybody.  The house was quiet.  I even popped some cinnamon rolls in the oven for breakfast.  I could get use to this.  :)  Amazing the things we take for granted when we don't have the luxury of being at home all the time!

On that note, there's going to be some changes happening around the Norton house in the next few months.  God is working things out and laying a plan for our family.  I'm so excited about what He's doing.  I've said it before and I'll say it again - He knows the desires of our hearts and rejoices in providing in His time.  A new season is about to begin and I can't wait!  (And, no, I am NOT pregnant.  That would be a miraculous conception!  LOL)

Blessings to my friends.  Have a great weekend!  I look forward to reporting back from the great weekend ahead!

The Devil went down to Alabama

I've got a few minutes by myself this morning and thought I'd just post a few random thoughts for my blogging friends.  We all know how therapeutic this can be.  ;)  We've been pretty busy and I know ya'll need a recap.  LOL

We've had some sickness (again) at our house the last few days.  Audrey has had an upset stomach since Saturday.  I finally took her to the doctor yesterday - and it's just viral.  Nothing they can do.  She seems to be a lot better today. 

On that note, I finally sent myself to the doctor.  I've been dealing with vertigo for over 3 years now.  I've just learned to live with it.  I'm sensitive to my left side.  I know that I can't turn certain ways without spinning.  In the past it has been from wax build up.  Sounds gross, I know.  I promise, I wash my ears....LOL... but some things you just can't control!  Anyway, I don't normally have pain in my ear, so after 3 days of it, I decided I should go to the doctor.  Much to my surprise, there was no infection or wax.  Kinda puzzling.  She did find out that I have something called Nystagmus.  Basically, I have some involuntary movement of my eyes when trying to follow some things.  She said, "No wonder you're dizzy."  Ya think?!  She also referred me to some sort of Vertigo Physical Therapy.  Who knew?!  I'm also going to make an appointment to get my eyes checked considering I don't remember EVER having had an eye exam.  (Shame on me!)

Let me say, I need an attitude adjustment again.  This week has made me sooo resentful of my job.  I am incredibly grateful for it.  My boss is great.  But, my "part time job" is getting in the way of life and consumes me.  I didn't go in Monday, but worked from home because Audrey was sick - so I'm grateful for that flexibility.  But, the less I do, the more it piles up (funny how that works, huh?).  I've talked to my boss about adding someone else, as there use to be 2 people working for him.  He's been talking about adding someone else for months - but nothing yet.  When summer is here, I have to drastically cut back hours.  The problem is that I think about it all the time.  I feel like I'm constantly thinking about work and what needs to be done.  I don't just go to the office, work 4 hours, and go home.  Because I can work from home & there are so many things to be done, I have this cloud hovering over my head all the time to get it done.  Many nights, like tonight, I'm sitting here at 11:00 at night answering e-mails, placing orders, and figuring out what I have to do in the 1 free hour I have tomorrow.  Truth be told, I just want to be home taking care of my girls like I did before.  I don't want to question *if* I have time to spend with them when they're sick.  I'll just keep praying that things work out as they should.  In the meantime, I'll tweak my attitude and work on my time management.

Let me tell you how excited I am about our upcoming weekend in Alabama!  The group I'm singing with now will be doing 2 concerts Sunday. I'm really looking forward to a weekend with the ladies - just getting to know them and having some "girl time".  I'm prayerful that our music will be worshipful and that God will work through us to reach those in need of Him.  Satan sure is working though!  He knows that a good thing is about to happen and he's reaching in where he can to try to stop it.  Our group has had some sickness and hit one member really hard today with some devastating news.  But, we are on our hands and knees praying that the Lord will intervene and bless this trip.  He will be present and He will beat the devil down!

So... this post didn't actually get posted this morning - because those "few minutes alone" weren't enough to organize these crazy thoughts.  There are more thoughts to organize and share with you... but I'm so tired right now... I'm doing good to get these posted.  So, I'll leave you with these thoughts and I'll return again soon.  And, by soon, I mean probably next week.  :)

Veritas Press Giveaway

There's a GREAT giveaway over at Raising Homemakers.  Check it out!!

Revelations of Revelation

We just finished up our amazing new Beth Moore study on the Book of Revelation.  Amazing!  I did miss last week's video - and missed a piece of homework here and there (which I do intend to go back and finish), but I still got so much out of it.  I've studied the book of Revelation somewhat halfheartedly in the past (if I'm being honest here...), but this is the second study in the past year that we've been involved in at our church.  I feel like there is soooo much that I don't know, so I am incredibly grateful for our church, the teachers, and the people that God has surrounded us with since joining First Redeemer.  It has been a major heart change for me.  I'm humbled by how much I don't know! 

With all that being said, WOW, what an eye opening study this has been!  Today was our final lesson - just a wrap up with a time line provided by one of the great teachers at our church.  I thought I'd share some of the things I've learned in this study that really stuck out to me.  First of all, the parallels between Genesis and Revelation.  It truly is full circle.  God is The Beginning and The End.  He is Alpha and Omega.  What God starts in Genesis, He finishes in Revelation.  (There are also some great parallels in the book of Daniel I want to dig into.)  Another thing we touched on that I want to dig into deeper, purely out of fascination, are the Bowls of Wrath and the idols/gods the judgments parallel.  Also, a huge revelation for me was in realizing there is nothing left to be fulfilled before The Rapture.  Simply put, it's next on the checklist!  We have no idea when it will take place, but there are no prophecies to be fulfilled before then. 

Along the lines of the rapture, there is still one issue that I'm struggling with.  I did not realize this until the study - and there are still some questions that I have and am researching independently and with friends.  It had never occurred to me the possibility that those that have heard of Jesus, but reject him prior to the rapture, will not have another opportunity afterward.  (Those that have never heard will have an opportunity.)  But, it isn't until after the 2nd Coming that new generations will receive the opportunity to accept Him as Savior.  I guess I can understand that point of view - ok, you've been told, you chose to reject sight unseen, the rapture happens, and now you want to believe after seeing what you just saw?  I don't think so!  So where's the back up scripture to this?  God states in 2 Thess 2:10-11 ...."and with all the deception of wickedness for those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved.  For this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false"....... So, I'm kinda leaving this one open ended. I'm sure there will be those that disagree.  And, as I stated, I'm still researching.  It's just been on my heart all day.  I may be confused about the events, but nonetheless, it gives me a new sense of urgency to share the gospel.  I have never been very good with witnessing to others (shame on me), but I feel God tugging at my heart to make that a priority.  Please pray with me that He will teach me and guide me as I learn more and more about Him each day and that He will give me the wisdom and the words to say. 

Project Life Week 10

Our week in pictures... ENJOY!
My big girl!  She just looked so big eating her cereal before school.
Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss!  This is my friend and Audrey's Awana leader (who also teaches preschool).  She was all dressed up for Dr. Seuss's birthday.  Isn't she cute?!
PUZZLE time - Photo courtesy of Audrey :)
My splurge!  Don't know when, with what, or how I will wear them, but I had to have them!
Missed the really good moment, but the girls were loving on each other (Audrey hiding her face because she doesn't want her picture made.)
Pedicures all around!  Thank you, Nana!
Our countdown calendar - 16 days 'til the beach.  Our very first family vacation!!

The Season of Singing Has Come....

"I will sing with my spirit, but I will also sing with my understanding." 1 Cor. 14:15
"Sing to Him, sing praise to Him; tell of all His wonderful acts." 1 Chr. 16:9
"I will be glad and rejoice in You; I will sing the praises of Your name, O Most High." Psalm 9:2
"Sing to Him a new song..." Psalm 9:2
"Because You are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings." Psalm 63:7
"There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens." Ecc 3:1
"...the season of singing has come..." Song of Sol 2:12
"...sing and make music from your heart to the Lord." Eph 5:19

When I got to singing rehearsal with my new sweet friends Wednesday morning, these were the verses that were written down and handed to me by our fearless leader.  Perfect reference to the events that unfolded in the next few minutes.  Today was the first day back for the lady on maternity leave that I have been filling in for.  I knew my time was almost up, but they had asked me to stick around a little longer because another member would be going on a mission trip in April, so it just made sense to all sing together until the end of her trip.  So, back to the verses I began with.  The leader handed me the card with these verses on them and asked me to read them aloud to the rest of the group.  There's this part of my brain saying, "Oh, it's time to say goodbye and they got me this sweet card."  (Because, seriously people, these are the most precious, genuinely thoughtful ladies E.V.E.R!)  However, at the bottom of the page there was an arrow pointing to the other side.  I flipped it over and began to read aloud - until the tears started and I couldn't talk any more.  My heart rejoiced, my brain did a 180 (yes, in my head), and I felt like a giddy little girl as I read about half way down the page to these words... "We would be honored if you would join us as a member of WOW - officially - and sing His praises with us as a permanent member!" 

Are you kidding me?!  I am just beside myself with excitement!  What an absolute honor and privilege to be part of this amazing group, who by the way, have been singing together for 7 years!  I know God knows the desires of our hearts, so I should not be so amazed when He provides such blessings, but I am!  God is so good!  He knew what I had need of.  He knew my heartfelt desire.  And, He paved a path for me - putting these lovely people in my life for a reason.  "I will rejoice and be glad in it!" 

Now, the reality side of me, in all seriousness, is scared.  Not just because of the great commitment I just made.  But, I know how Satan loves to try to crush things that are pleasing to God.  And, I remember a time when I was part of such a group that was singing His praises before - and Satan attacked each of our families in a mighty way.  But, I know that my God is bigger!  We are going to have a good time singing and praising.  I in no way feel worthy of this position, but I am incredibly grateful beyond any words that I can type in this space!  =)  Thank you, Jesus, for your grace & mercy!

Project Life Week 9

I didn't get my Project Life pictures done last week.  My camera was MIA.  But, no fear - it has been found!  I'm really thinking I'd like to have a new camera.  Mine is at least 4 years old.  It's time for an upgrade, don't you think?  ;)

2/24 Maddie's "dress up": pants, ballet skirt, t-shirt, Twinkle Toes, wings, & headband

2/24 - The girls at their friend's house for a pizza/tea party.  My girls didn't want their pictures made.  lol

2/26 My "girls" all grown up!  This is my last full class of guard girls.  I had them in middle school and part of their freshman year of high school.  I got to see them perform in Atlanta this weekend as Seniors!!

2/27 Modeling in mommy's shoes - hands on hips. 

2/28  Maddie's field trip to Chic-fil-A - she was intrigued by the kitchen tour.
Loving, Losing, & Living © 2011 | Designed by Ibu Hamil, in collaboration with Uncharted 3 News, MW3 Clans and Black Ops