Monday, November 26, 2012

Merry Christmas

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Sunday, September 30, 2012


For my personal Bible study this summer I focused on the book of James. I had high hopes to memorize the book (which I did not!) but spent some very concentrated time learning about the man who was James, the influence he had on the church, and the inspired words he wrote in the book named after him. I have always liked the book of James for his practical advice. For a book with only 5 chapters it is FULL of some wisdom for this girl who has a hard time taming her tongue. I could read chapter 3 everyday of my life due to my unfiltered tongue! For several months before a huge trail in my life God always had some of wisdom of James playing in my head. For some reason something in James came up every Sunday with the group of high school girls I was leading. I thought it was just because we were in a room full of girls and everyone knows us girls can always use some good reminding about the tongue. However, even though that is true….God had me there for a very specific purpose to help me not only survive a difficult season but hopefully survive it with grace.

During that season, the Holy Spirit reminded me of some wisdom in James almost daily. The first reminder came in the form of James 1:22. As I was struggling with how I should respond I felt like I could hear God saying “Do you want to be just a hearer of my Word or a doer of my Word? You talk about being a doer but do you REALLY want to do?” The Holy Spirit constantly had to remind me of James 3:9-12. My mouth desperately wanted to speak ill of someone that was involved in my situation. In fact, everyone around me was speaking ill of them. I never ran across anyone that said “you need to show them love.” However, anytime I wanted my tongue to lash out even though what I would have said would have been truth about the person I would remember James 3:9-12 and feel like the Spirit was saying “Is whatever you are about to say worth loosing the opportunity to praise my name since praising and cursing can not come out of the same mouth. They are made in my likeness. Would you like to make that comment about me? What is more important to you right now?”

All that to say I was very excited when one of my all time favorite teachers (Beth Moore) came out with a study based in James. I am way outside the original difficult season and me and my tongue have come a LONG way but we still have miles to walk together! I really enjoyed this study because I did not know a lot about James other then he was the half brother of Jesus. I had missed a lot the book has to offer because I was not reading it through the Jewish lenses of the author. It is a 7 week study that I picked up off and on all summer. Here are some nuggets that I picked up along the way.

Week 1:

This week we talked a lot about who James was. We also learned about his dealing with Paul and the struggles he had to overcome with the Jewish/Gentile debate that raged during that time. I know that I cannot fully appreciate it or even begin to understand what meant for them to allow Gentiles into the fold.

Week 2:

This week focused on James 1:1-18. We started out focusing on learning to count it “pure joy when you face troubles of many kinds. Because we know that the testing of our faith produces perseverance. Perseverance must finish it’s work so you can be mature and complete not lacking anything.” We move to v.5 and learn if we lack wisdom we should just ask for it. In v. 9-11 we see God’s heart for the poor. Verse 12 brings us back to perseverance and verses 13-15 touches on the progression of sin. And to wrap up the week we focused on v.16-18 and reflected on the good gifts God had given us.

Week 3:

This week we focused on James 1:19-2:12. Can I just tell you James 1:19 kicks my butt every time I read it. I do not want to be quick to listen and slow to speak! It goes way against my natural personality  I have already mentioned my journey with James 1:22. Here are a few things Beth said that really stood out to me.

“The self-deception slithers in when we mistake appreciation for application or being touched with being changed.”

“The Word of God, however, is meant to do more than penetrate. It’s meant to activate.”

I love the reminder we find in v. 25 “But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom and continues to do this not forgetting what he has heard but doing it- he will be blessed in all he does.” I know that at times I feel like the Word of God is a yoke and not something that sets me free. The joy of experiencing the freedom that comes in Christ cannot be explained. It does not make sense. However, I am so glad that I have experienced and continue to experience the freedom that can only be found in Him even while saying “no” to some of the standards/attitudes the world tells me I need to have.

We are then taken to a very real reminder of what religion looks like that our Father accepts in v. 26-27. I was reminded that you do not live the kind of life that that it says “God our Father accepts as pure and faultless” on accident. This walk is only done ON PURPOSE. I love how Beth put it “You accept that far easier ways to live exist but you were born for nothing less. And when we sniff ourselves and smell the world, we run to the One who can wash us.”

Week 4

Week 4 was focused on James 2:14-James 3:17. Most of this week you grapple with how faith and works go hand in hand. You look at how faith without works is dead and review some examples (Abraham and Rahab) how faith and action work together. Chapter 3 opens with a word to teachers. I loved this quote from Beth because I know in different seasons of my teaching time I have struggled with this. “God will never call you to sacrifice your intimacy with Him on the altar of your ministry.” We end the week with another look at the tongue and how dangerous it can be if not used and sanctified by God. It is in these verses 3-12 that we find out our tongue is set on fire by hell itself and can corrupt the whole person and praising and cursing cannot come out of the same mouth…salt water and fresh water cannot flow from the same spring! I love the connection we have here with Matt. 12:34 “The mouth speaks from the overflow of the heart.” My prayer for me is that my heart will be so full of Christ that out of the overflow will come only those things that edify the body. I have A LOT of work to do here. I am so thankful for the evidence of growth that I have seen in my life so far with this issue and pray every day that God continues to prune me here. I love the wisdom section of this chapter. Something that was really cool was Jeff and I were just talking the night before I read this about the right way to speak truth/wisdom in someone’s life. God really slowed me down and had me focus on 3:13-18. A great test for me now is to stop and think if my “wisdom” is really the wisdom of Christ or the wisdom of the world is for me to compare it to v. 17-18. “But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure, then peace-loving, gentle, compliant, full of mercy and good fruits without favoritism and hypocrisy. I know that I have been guilty of imparting “wisdom” that had none of the above qualities. Forgive me Lord for the many times that I have spoken in Your name and my heart/attitude looked nothing like you. Teach me your wisdom Lord and in the moments I am tempted to use my own- SHUT MY MOUTH!

Week 5

This week we covered all of chapter 4. I have a lot of this week underlined in my book so I am just going to share some of my favorite things!

“Let’s have the guts to ask Him what’s in our hearts and , when he reveals it, die to the self-gratification and live for the greater glory. That’s when the attic door to the throne room of God will fall open and answered prayer will tumble out like boxed up treasures.” (pg. 133)

“He gives greater grace…” James 4:6

“He is enough. Let me say that again: He is enough. When you need more, you will have more. When your woes are great, his grace is greater. When our sins are vast, His mercy is deep. We cannot exceed Him. We cannot outrun Him. “(pg. 140)

“Nothing muffles conviction as effectively as entitlement.” (pg. 144)

“People who walk in the Spirit judge ‘things’ not people. “ ( pg. 147)

“Anyone then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.” James 4:17

Week 6

James chapter 5 is another great reminder that wealth or lack thereof…..does not belong to us. Any wealth I have belongs to God and I am called to be a steward of it. Giving is so much easier to do when you get to a place that you feel like the money you have does not belong to you anyway! James brings up the idea of perseverance again in 5:11. The idea of not giving up just because your prayers were not answered on your time table in the way you wanted. To sit and wait is one of the hardest things I have ever had to do but the reward was fellowship that I had never experienced before at the feet of Jesus.

“Fellowshipping with Christ in our suffering guards it from purposelessness.” (pg. 178)

“When we cry out, our God hears whether or not He heals. Something greater must be at stake. Something we may not know till we see Him.” (pg. 180

“If I am going to err, let me err on the side of faith.” (pg. 180)

“Sometimes beloved it takes more faith to feel forgiven then it does to feel healed.” (pg. 181)

Week 7

The last week was spent telling the about the end of James life and where the church went next. Around AD 62 James was taken into custody and put to death. “With James went the Jewish Christianity of the early days in Jerusalem. The loss of James radically transformed early Christianity. We have a Jewish Messiah, and his earthly heritage is our spiritual birthright.” (pg. 197)

Sunday, July 29, 2012

My surprise trip!

Jeff and I are so fortunate that both of our parents insist on taking our kiddos for a week every summer. When the kids were at his parents house in June Jeff and I stayed around Atlanta and just enjoyed doing whatever we wanted and waking up on our own without kids! Jeff has been REALLY busy this summer at work so I just assumed the plan would be the same when the kids went to my mom's house. However, my sweet husband had something else up his sleeve! Jeff was not going to tell me until Wednesday, which is the day that I thought I was driving to meet my mom with kids.He ended up telling me Tuesday because when I went to leave for work my car would not start so I was working on getting a rental car which Jeff knew i would not need! He took to me work and told me when I was getting out of the car. I was so excited! I was also thankful I found out a day sooner so I could get all my work done at the office and not feel like I was leaving anything unfinished. On Wednesday Jeff and I took the kids to my mom's house when he got off work and spent the night with them and then got up Thursday morning to start our mountain adventure. He had booked an amazing cabin for us about 20 miles outside of Gatlinburg. It was perfect. We had two decks with a hot tub attached to the deck outside the master bedroom. We were close enough to Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge that we could get out everyday and stay busy but the cabin was also perfect and far enough way to feel more isolated and not so much in a tourist community.

We played putt putt, went to Cade's Cove, toured the Titanic exhibit, and rented tubes and rafted down the river. Jeff schooled me at putt was not even close! We really enjoyed driving around Cade's Cove and even spent some time wandering around an old church and a few old cabins. One of my favorite things we did was look at an old cemetery. I have no idea why but on one of our first dates we spent some time looking at an old cemetery in Jackson. I think it was one of those things that we did because we did not want the date to end but did not know what else to go do! I still rag Jeff about that date because he brought me back past curfew so I ended up getting a call from our RA Director the next day but he did not get in trouble because he was an RA! The Titanic exhibit was cool but not something we would need to do again.
We did not tube until the last day and it was very last minuet decision. I do not know what Jeff loved more....tubing down the river or laughing at me as I screamed and acted like we were on some major rapids! Bless his heart....he did not marry me for my adventures spirit!
View from our middle deck

Who does not have fun playing putt putt??

Upstairs in the cabin.  We never could figure out why there was a tub in the room! 

Our attempt of a self portrait before leaving the cabin to head home. 
It was such a good trip and I love my husband surprised me. He sure does know how to make a girl feel special! It was a perfect blend of activity and downtime and I do not know anything better then some alone time with the one my soul loves!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

An update of sorts

Once again  I have stayed true to my once every few months blog post! We have been busy living life over here at the McKenzie household. So here a few updates broken down by family member.

Daniel is ten and half months old and ALL OVER the place. He is crawling everywhere and pulls up to everything. His favorite places to crawl is into any bathroom to dump the trashcan or to Taco's (our cat) food because he thinks it taste pretty yummy :) He has started eating some real food but still mostly just has baby food and milk. He is taking two sometimes three naps a day and goes down for the night between 7-8 and sleeps most mornings until 6:30-7:30. He is a very content baby and has his daddy's laid back personality. I would say the on thing that defines him right now is he is BUSY. A few of his recent tricks are to wave hi and when asked how big someone loves him he puts one hand in the air as we say "so big" and then he just grins as we clap! 

Emma Kate:
Emma is such a great big sister. She is so helpful and takes great delight in her little brother. She has had a big summer that started off with her first ever dance recital. She had 12 people come to her recital (8 from out of town) and she was the princess of the ball! She received 6 different bouquets of flowers and a trophy. She was so proud of herself  and did a great job. From the recital her and her brother went to MiMi and Paws for a week and Jeff and I had a great week that included date nights and waking up on our own time instead of one of our children's timetables! She also attended a few different camps. Some of them include:
Princess and Fairy Camp at Sweet and Sassy, Day camp at her old school,Girls Just Want to Have Fun Camp at Adventure Kids and hanging out with our babysitter two days a week. She stays busy making up songs, dancing her heart out, creating new crafts, playing barbies, swimming, and watching movies. As much as Daniel has his daddy's personality Emma Kate is definitely my child.

Jeff and Lori:
Jeff has had a very busy summer at work. His company won a big bid and they have spent the summer implementing it with the client. He also attended beach camp with his small group guys from NPCC that are going into the 10th grade. We have had a few visitors from Alabaster visit us this summer and we went to Alabaster once to see a group of our old students to perform in a concert. I turned a year older (32), have made a trip to Dallas for work,  and started consistently working out and love it! The only other big things we have going on this summer is  one more week when both of our kids are going to be gone again this time spending time with my mom and sister. We have already made our date plans! And last but not least we celebrate 10 years of marriage on Aug. 17th!!

I can not imagine doing life with anyone else and so glad that we get to have all of our adventures together!

Our summer is quickly coming to an end and in less than a month we will have a Kindergartner on our hands.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Word of God Speak

In Sept. of 2001 I walked into Lifeway and purchased a Bible. I was used to switching out Bibles every few years so I did not have any reason to believe this one would be any different. Little did I know this particular Bible would be with me for the next 10 years and would be one of the tools that God used to completely transform my mind and my life. This Bible has been my companion for the last 10 years. It was the Bible I had when we got married, served in our first 2 churches, studied with for 5 years of Sunday School lessons and Core Groups, completed 26 Bible studies, moved with me to 3 different states, was my Bible at the birth of both of my children, and was used to help me fall more in love with my Jesus.

As you can imagine I was very sad when I opened up the Bible one day and this happened:
The entire section from Romans 8 on came out in my hand. It causes a little problem when the New Testament is not in one piece! I thought I could still make it work but that part of the Bible kept falling out! I finally came to my senses and started the mourning process (I am only half kidding :) ) I thought about getting my Bible rebinded but after much thought decided it may be better to get a new one without all my study notes so it would make me read it with fresh eyes. I purchased a new Bible a few months ago and started the process of trying to make it "mine". Tonight as I was cleaning up my room I came across my old Bible that I have not seemed to be able to put away yet! Here are a few reasons why:
Emma Kate drew all over the pages one day because she wanted to "write" in the Bible like her mommy did. I was SO MAD at first but as time went by those scribbles were very sweet reminders of the legacy the Word leaves.

It was with this Bible that God taught me in the study of Exodus that sometimes He chooses the wilderness for his children. The Israelites had a shorter route to the promise land but God choose to lead them through the wilderness. Exodus 13:17-18 "When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter. for God said, "If they face war they might change their minds and return to Egypt. So God led the people around by the desert road toward the Red Sea. The Israelites went up out of Egypt armed for battle." It was through that same study that God taught me I could have missed the wilderness but then I would have also missed the parting of the Red Sea. It was just a few chapters over in Exodus 15 that God showed me that could indeed make bitter waters sweet. I wrote a little more about my journey in Exodus here.

I also spent a lot of time in Hosea and learned about the relentless pursuit of God. I was confronted with my sin, convicted to deal with "unplowed ground" (Hosea 10:12), and meet the tenderness of God.

I spent a good bit of time in Hebrews where just in chapter 1 we learn Jesus

•Heir of all things (1:2)
•The world was made through Him (1:2)
•He is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of His nature (1:3)
•Sustains all things by His powerful Word (1:3)
•Made purification for our sins (1:3)
•Sits at the right hand of God (1:3)
•Is better than the angels (1:4)
•All the angels of God worship Him (1:6)
•He is the Unchangeable One. (1:12)

It is Ps. 55:18 that He showed me when I really did feel like I was in the middle of a battlefield. He has continued to remind me that "He ransoms me unharmed from the battle waged against me."

Bible Studies Completed:
Experiencing the Heart of God- Max Lucado (Saturday Morning at WWBC)
Patriarchs- Beth Moore (on my own)
Covenant -Kay Arthur (Saturday Morning at WWBC)
Believing God- Beth Moore (Saturday Morning at WWBC)
Kinsman Redeemer (Ruth)- Kay Arthur (Saturday Morning at WWBC)
2007Daniel- Beth Moore (Thursday nights at WWBC)
John- Kay Arthur (Saturday Morning at WWBC)
He Speaks to Me - Priscilla Shirer( On my own and with Monday morning at WWBC)
No Other Gods- Kelly Minter ( On my own)
Hosea- Kay Arthur (College class at WWBC)
A Women's Heart God's Dwelling Place- Beth Moore (Saturday Morning at WWBC)
Stepping Up- Beth Moore (Monday morning at WWBC)
When Godly People do Ungodly Things- Beth Moore (On my own)
Esther-Beth Moore (On my Own)
Hebrews1-3- Kay Arthur (Saturday Morning at WWBC)
One in a Million- Priscilla Shirer (On my own)
Proverbs and Principals for Parenting- Stockdale (Monday mornings at SBC in MS)
Haggai- Kay Arthur (on my own)
Zechariah- Kay Arthur (on my own)
Ruth- Kelly Minter (on my own)
Lord I want to know you- Kay Arthur (on my own)
Faithful, Abundant, and True- Deeper Still Women ( on my own)
Believing God- Beth Moore (2nd time with someone from work)
Jonah- Priscilla Shirer (Tuesday mornings with FBC Alpharetta)
Ruth- Kelly Minter (2nd time with FBC Alapharetta)
James- Beth Moore ( on my own- went into 2012)

I could go on and on of why this particular Bible feels like home to me. I have cried many tears over the pages, rejoiced in promises, marveled at the mysterious, and have been downright frustrated when I could not make it say what I wanted :) There have been many changes in my life over the last 10 years but one thing has and will remain the same.....The One who met me in the pages of scripture is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

Friday, March 9, 2012


Jeff and I had the opportunity to go to Cancun on an all expense paid for trip by my company since I hit a sales goal. The trip was AMAZING and I am so thankful we had the opportunity to get away and do whatever we wanted for 4 days without paying for anything! We left really early Sunday morning and arrived at our hotel around lunch. We ordered in room service and took a nap since we had been up since 4:00AM. That night we had an all company dinner where the person who founded our company spoke. It was so cool to see him live and in person. I love my company and not imagine ever working anywhere else.

We had a complete free day. We slept in and then I did my Bible Study on the balcony looking at the beach. Can I just tell you how much I love the beach mixed in with God's Word. We ordered room service for breakfast and then went to the beach with our books! We ate lunch on the beach, took naps, and enjoyed the steam room at the spa. For dinner that night a driver took us into the city and we had a great steak dinner. Once we got back to our hotel we rented a movie and called it a night.

I was so glad that we were going to be in Cancun for Valentine's Day :) We had room service for breakfast and then got ready to swim with the dolphins! I was so excited about this particular excursion because it was something that I never I would get a chance to experience. It was part of a small aquarium so we also got to see some big sea turtles and jelly fish.
There were four different dolphins they used and you broke up in 2 big groups. Each group was in a different pool and you started out with getting to know the dolphins. You get to touch them and they swim around and between you. You also shook their "hands" and gave them a kiss.

The grand finale was the the dolphins came behind  you and each pushed a different foot and "swam" you to the other side of the pool. I was freaking out and decided pretty quickly I did not know if this was a good idea! I pushed through my fear and Jeff said my face was priceless as the dolphins were pushing me because I was so scared! I am glad that we did it but I do not think it is something we will do again.

For dinner that night we ended up at a really cool restaurant completely by mistake! I had thought that I had made reservations at one restaurant but ended up at a Mayan themed restaurant. From the front of the building it did not look like a "good" mistake however once inside it was beautiful! They sat us outside at a table that was at the very edge of the bay. They had it decorated for the day so there were Christmas lights strung all outside. It ended up being the best mistake of the trip and a perfect spot for our date!
This morning started off early with a massage at 8:00. Once I got back to the room it was time for us to go eat breakfast and meet up with the group to go snorkeling. This was the first time that either of us had gone snorkeling and I was not sure what to expect. Each couple was given their own speed boat to get out to the coral reef. Once we arrived close to the coral reef we put on our gear and got in the water. I must admit it did take me a few minuets to figure out how to breath! We swam and swam and swam and swam some more. It was beyond cool to see God's creation under the ocean and reminded me of the vastness of His creation that we are never even made aware exist. Between being out of shape and the big flippers we had on our feet I was worn out  by the time we made it back to the boat. I am really glad we picked this excursion and had a lot of fun once I got the hang of breathing!

Once we arrived back at the dock we saw this guy hanging out.
When we looked a little closer on the other side of the dock we saw this little friend.

Wednesday night we had an office dinner at Harry's. It was fun to get hang out with everyone else from my office and celebrate. At the end of dinner they bring cotton candy to everyone's table.
Thursday our flight left around 11:00 so we other then waking up and getting breakfast one last time at the hotel the day consistent of mostly flying home. It was such a fun trip and I loved getting the alone time with Jeff. However, as wonderful as it is to be gone we were both glad to get back to our babies and "real" life. We came home to 2 very spoiled children who really still wanted a few more days with MiMi and Paws :)

Until next time Cancun....thanks for the were good to us!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

6 months

Since we are three months into the year with no blog updates I thought I would spend some time trying to catch up! I always have great intentions but then I get home and after I hang out with Jeff and the kids the last thing I want to do is get on the computer! However, I know that I will regret  it if I don't document these moments so I am going to try to do better. I have every Monday off work so it was the perfect time to take Daniel for his 6 month check up. I had forgotten that Emma Kate was going to be out of school all week or I might had decided it was not such a good idea! However, by the end of the day I was thankful I had my little helper with me because she is such a great big sister.

The doctor said Daniel was doing great. He is in the 10% of height and weight (but sticking to his normal growth) and the 90% in head circumference. Poor baby has a big head but he gets it honest :) The only thing that was a little off was the doctor wanted us to go get hip x-rays because there were some creases on his back legs that did not match up. She said more then likely it was not a big deal but she wanted to get it checked out just in case. The x-rays were not going to happen until 2:00 so it was a perfect opportunity for us to go meet daddy for lunch.We recieved the results of the x-rays the same day and everything is fine...he just has mis matched creases!  I was so proud of Daniel because he was way off his eating schedule but was a real trooper all day especially considering he had 5 shots!

 Emma is always such the big helper and has to be reminded at times that she is not the mommy!
Some things that Daniel is doing at 6 months:
Sits up
Laughs (the most at Emma)
Nurses 5 times a day
Eats a fruit at lunch
Eats a fruit and veggie at dinner
Loves his exersaucer
Starting to reach when he wants something or someone
Puts EVERYTHING in his mouth
Is VERY laid back
Wears Size 2 diapers
Wears some 3-6 months clothes but mostly 6 months
Sleeps until around 5:00 and then needs to be fed but will go back to sleep until 7:00
Loves pulling hair
Loves Taco (our cat)
Completely stolen his mommy's heart :)