Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Merry Christmas from The Causeys


We sure are wishing everyone a Merry Christmas from McKinney!  It has been such a long time since I have posted, but I have been greatly enjoying some much needed rest after having such an intense semester at school.  Since I last posted, I passed my departmental (praise God) and completed my time at Freedom Stones. I will be starting my practicum in January at Hope's Door in Plano. I am really looking forward to it.  

But, as of right now, I am very much enjoying only working three days a week and soaking up my extra two days off by spending quality time with Larry, Christmas shopping, cleaning, playing with our new puppy, Jack. It's been such a blessed time for me. I have been able to slow down and drink deep of the gifts of our Savior. 

As I posted on facebook, Larry and I are going through the Jessee Tree Advent Book, written by one of my favorite blog authors, Ann Voskamp.  She asked that we only share the link through her page or facebook, but I encourage you to check it out on www.aholyexperience.com. It's not too late to jump in now, or you could go ahead and download the book now and save it for next year.  She is an incredibly gifted writer and she has really helped us focus on Jesus as we wait for Him to come

I pray that each of you are also able to slow down this Christmas, and enjoy the bountiful gifts that have been lavishly poured out on us, starting with a baby in a manager. 

Much love!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Windows





















Our apartment is filled with windows. There is no need for any lights to be switched on during the day because the sunlight streams in at any given hour.  Most people love the idea of having windows illuminating their homes, but for me this is a real problem, particularly when it comes to the kitchen window.  I prefer to keep the blinds down until dusk, because if left open the sun floods the kitchen and living area with its bright rays.

I pull them shut.

Larry pulls them open.

I shut.

He opens.

Repeat.

I know how much Larry loves letting in the natural sunlight.  He loves to open windows too, without screens on, but that's another story. I love the idea of having them open too. Really, I do. I think about all those little cottages in my favorite magazines and how the sunlight burst through the window panes just like so, with subtle sun flare illuminating the golden retriever laying on their spotless white rug.

But when I open the blinds, the sun exposes...

Dust that gathers on the end table.

Dog hair that clings to the sofa.

Streaks that miraculously appear on the refrigerator.

Crumbs that surface on the counter tops.

Sneaky cob webs crafted in the corner.

A tile floor that suddenly needs to be mopped.

Fabric that has begun to fade.

Quite simply, a home that has been lived in.

While most people cheer for daylight savings time, I hate the idea of having a home lit up until nine o'clock in the evening.  That's just more hours that I need to keep those drapes pulled closed.  Once the sun passes over that last hill in the west, I can draw back the drapes, pull open the dusty blinds, and enjoy the house filled with dim lamps and soft candle light.  Each room has a lamp in my house.  Some have three. I would continue to buy more, but my sweet husband has put his foot down.

Just like that, I feel better.  I look around the house and it looks calm and cozy.  There is no evidence of my housekeeping failures, no smudges to attend to, and no more work to be done. Seemingly anyway. 

Huh...

Is this what I do with my Jesus?

For it says (ESV):
You have set our iniquities before you, our secret sins in the light of your presence. Psalm 90:8
For nothing is hidden that will not be made manifest, nor is anything secret that will not be known and come to light. Luke 8:17
And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. John 3:19-20
But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible... Ephesians 5:13
Too often I ask the Lord for revelation afresh.  I ask for more of His light in my life.  But His light reveals my wickedness and sin.  And so I picture this...

He swings wide the drapes of  my heart.

I shut them.

He opens.

I shut.

Repeat.

I don't shut Him out because I desire less of Him in my life.  Not at all.  In fact it's quite the opposite.  But that light of His just makes me look so messy.  And that mess compels me to jump up and start cleaning. No time for rest here.  Dust this. Mop that. Sweep there. Bleach everywhere.

Oh, how He's teaching me to stop looking at how the Light makes me look a mess. The Light is not about me at all. It's about Him. And how in spite of all of my measly efforts to keep things clean and pristine, I can't. I just can't. And so, if I will just be willing to sit still long enough to rest while the Light streams in, I may just be so overcome by the Light that all of the crumbs and cob webs begin to disappear. Or at least they will no longer define me.

Now, about those blinds in the kitchen...

May His Light burst forth for you and I both.
Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame. Psalm 34:5
For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. 2 Corinthians 4:6
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 1 Peter 2:9

Monday, August 23, 2010

Causey Tips and Tricks

One of the things that I love about being married (but certainly not limited to being married) is determining what works for our family.  We strive to use as many organic and natural home remedies as possible, but I will be the first to tell you that we are not rigid about this. So please, no need to point out that I seem inconsistent because I desire to eat organic chicken, but have no problem gulping down a large soda.  I.am.inconsistent. :)


I want to share some of the things that we do or use regularly in our home.  I hope that you will also share tips and tricks that you and your family practice. I have too many to share all at one time, so I will start with just a few.


















White Vinegar 
We use white vinegar to clean just about anything! Counter tops, sinks, toilets and tile floors.  It is a great natural cleaner, free of chemicals and odor absorbing.  It does have a pungent smell but it does not last too long and as mentioned before, it actually removes bad odors. 



Olive Oil  
I use this as a hair conditioner weekly.  Add 1/4 cup of olive oil to wet hair and put in plastic cap for 30 minutes.  Then rinse with tepid water and shampoo (may need to shampoo a couple of times). You can also use any leftover oil to moisturize your body, to shave your legs or to soften chapped lips.

Cinnamon 
In an attempt to save money and reduce the number of chemicals in our home, I use cinnamon (sticks or ground) to fragrance our home.  Just simmer water and cinnamon to make your house smell like fresh baked goodies.  You can also add nutmeg and cloves to alter scent. Though I like this smell, I would love to find other natural options.  If you have any affordable suggestions, please let me know!

Weleda Skin Food 
I adore this body creme!  The scent is a little more citrusy than I would prefer, but it works so well, I don't care.  It's also little pricey for what I use as a body lotion, but it does such a great job at keeping your body hydrated without harsh chemicals that I think it's worth the price.  

Home-Made Deodorant 
Yes, I make my own deodorant and I think it works better than any store-bought product out there. It's simple to make, last a long time and it's super cost effective. Here is how to make it:
1/4 c Corn Starch 
1/4 c Baking Soda
5-6 Tbsp Organic Coconut Oil (you will need to sit jar in a pan of hat water to liquefy. Mash all ingredients together until it's mixed together and then let harden in fridge in either a wax mold or travel dish.

You can also add a few drops of your favorite essential oil if you prefer some scent. 

Okay, that's enough for tonight.  I am sleepy! Soon I will share about plopping, homemade carpet stain remover (puppy pee anyone?), and ways to avoid bottled water.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

House of God





















This morning I read Tullian Tchidjian's blog and was challened by one of his four-part blog post. He writes:
In the opening verses of Isaiah 6, what the prophet encounters first in the house of God is the glory of God: “I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple” (v.1). It doesn’t first say he encountered well-dressed people or hot coffee or influential power brokers or a booming sound system or a great organ. What he caught site of first was God’s glory.

There’s a growing trend in some churches to offer door prizes to any returning visitor. One church visited recently by a friend of mine promised him a ten-dollar Starbucks gift card if he came back the following week.

Isaiah shows us the door prize that awaited him when he walked into the house of God—the uncomfortable, wrecking presence of God’s glory: “Woe is me!” (v.5).
To read his entire blog entry, go here.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Heaven Came Down
















Yesterday morning, Jesus carried Walker Jack Rainey home to heaven. 

Soon after Walker was diagnoised with a rare and aggressive tumor, the Rainey family contacted our agency to discuss needs for childcare.  I was instantly drawn to the family and the way that Chad spoke of his son, their plan of action, and most of all their faith in a good God. I met with the family in person to discuss their needs and I even entertained the idea of a way to help this family myself seeing that they lived so close by to my home. Walker was deemed precious in my sight from the moment I layed eyes on him and it was obvious that his parents swelled with infectious pride. I have since watched Walker's blog closesly, always waiting for the day that Chad and Missy would announce that he was set free from cancer.

I had always hoped that "free" would be here among the land of the living.  But nonetheless, today Walker is indeed set free.

And Chad and Missy's faith in Jesus continues to inspire and wreck me.

To read more about Walker's ridiculously beautiful and fruitful life, go here. I believe that their faith will leave you changed.

Please pray for the family's healing and that Jesus will be ever near in their darkest hour.

Beauty for ashes, Lord. Beauty for ashes...

**The first song now playing on my playlist is Held, by Natalie Grant. These lyrics are some of the only words that seem to come to my mind and lips when I think about the loss of the Rainey family. **

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Panera on a Monday: A Story

A few days ago I mentioned on Facebook that I had the most bizarre experience at Panera Bread.  I wanted to share more, but it required more words than my status update would allow, as you can clearly see by the length of this post.

On Monday I headed up to Panera bright and early to study for my midterm exam.  I was anxious about cramming nine chapters into my brain for a mere four questions.  I like going to Panera because they have free wireless and I can cozy up in the back corner and typically be left alone.  Not this time.

A couple of hours into my study session a large family settled in for lunch behind me. Soon after, another gentleman sat himself at the tiny table directly next to me.  I was deep in thought and had my earphones in, so I just quickly noticed him in my peripheral.  A few minutes later he stood up and I noticed that among his greasy, tousled hair and unshaven gray beard, that he was sweating profusely through his heather grey t-shirt, particularly in his chest region.  I initially thought he must have been working out, but he was in normal clothes. As he went around to the coffee bar, I studied him as he walked away.  That's when I noticed that he had two large poop stains on the back of his shorts. I could not believe it.  Nor could I believe that I was going to be camped out next to this guy for who knows how long.

He soon came back to his tiny table and tiny laptop, and all the while he was trying to talk to the children at the other table and was laughing at every little thing that they did.  I was anything but focused on studying at this point, and as my husband has communitcated to me, I am not the most discreet observer. :) Glancing his direction occasionally, I noticed that his socks were filthy and that one of his soles flopped when he walked. He was an absolute mess, but he did not appear homeless, but rather unclean and extremely socially awkward.

When he finally said something to me, he simply pointed to the tattoo on my heel.  He said, "I just noticed your little cloud there. It's cute." I simply said thank you and then returned to my reading, to politely relay that I was not able to engage in conversation.  A few minutes passed and he said, "Your feet are so small. If you ever committed a crime the police would be looking for a nine year old". I managed to curve my lips into some kind of polite smile and again, returned to my reading.

All that I could think was, "I DO NOT WANT TO HEAR YOU SAY ANYTHING ABOUT A CRIME"!

About this time, another women sits on the other side of me and she is the most odd little pregnant woman I have ever seen. She looks intently at me and gives me the strangest smile while holding her belly.  She sits and continues to look about - as if in a daze. 

Then, following her is another women who I would say is in her fifties. She headed straight to the back asking where another outlet was. She then starts chatting with everyone around her and starts climbing the furniture to close all of the blinds in the back of the restaurant. I noticed while her back was turned that she had these high-rise jeans on with a shirt that only connects near the neck, exposing her entire back.  "So odd", I thought to myself.  She sat down and announced that she was going to be getting on a conference call and that she can be quite loud.  Of course.

I turned my music up.

Then the gentleman taps on my desk to get my attention. I remove my earphone (becoming a bit frustrated at this point) and I focus my attention on his face. 

***Disclaimer - I have this awesome disposition where I feel like I am "on to people".  My husband calls me Crime Dog McGruff because I am always convinced that someone is doing something wrong or bad and it's my job to bring these people to justice.  Hilarious really. So, please picture Crime Dog McGruff kicking in at this point.***

Back to the gentleman...he was typing on his computer and stopped me to ask a question.  This is what I heard, "How do you spell mass killing". Can you even imagine the horror on my face?  I am quite certain that I looked at him in disgust as I shook my head, while also trying to look past him for a manager, police officer, body guard, a grown-up! :) I repeat back to him after a while and say, "Mass killing"? He said, "Huh? No, how do you spell mas-cu-line?"

[body begins to relax]

"Oh, masculine", I say cooly. What an idiot.

After the spelling bee incident, I can't help but laugh at myself.  I text my hubby, who I know will get a kick out of this and then I simply step out of the building to phone my mom to let her know about my Crime Dog McGruff faux pas. We have a good laugh and then I am really ready to get back to my text book.  I walk in, sit down, put on my earphones and pick-up my textbook.  It's after maybe a minute that I realize the woman from the conference call is now off the phone and wait...is she...no, really?...is she talking about me? I remove one earphone and look in her direction and yes, she absolutely is talking about me.  She then says to me, "Must have been a really important phone call for you to take that call outside. You can talk in front of us you know?"

I am so confused.  I let her know that it was a private call. And left it at that.  I wish she had too.

I put my earphone back in and then I soon notice the woman packing up her things, all the while chatting with the gentleman and pregnant woman. Before I realize it, she is standing right next to my chair.  Again, I remove my earphone and ask, "Can I help you?" She then looks at the man, and says, "See what I mean? She sees me as a problem child.  Once a problem child always a problem child. If you don't conform with the masses...yada yada yada".

At this point, I have been looking for a reason to leave this psycho-section of Panera for an hour and so I stand up, quite ruffled mind you, and begin packing up my things.

She then says, "You don't have to leave, I'm leaving soon anyway".

I then tell her, "I am just trying to study for a mid-term. I don't know what I did to you, but I don't have time for this". She replies, "I am just looking for some involvement here". I quickly announce, "I came here to study. I am not looking for involvement".

Again, she says to the man, "See what I mean.  They just don't care. This generation...."

I walk away in complete bewilderment.  Did I seriously just sit next to a guy in poopy shorts AND get into a heated argument with a manic, middle-aged woman (who apparently thought I was in high school)?

And the worst part - they made me CRY! :)

The End.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Wilderness

Last week we loaded up the car and headed to Creede, Colorado to enjoy YL's Wilderness Ranch. Although it was technically a work trip for Larry, we were surrounded by tons of fun and forever friends. This was the first time either of us had been to Wilderness, and my first time to ever go to a Young Life camp period, and I can easily say that my experience was indescribable. Joy, excellence, amazing food, smiles and cheer-offs abound. If you ever get the chance, check it out and if you have teenagers - SEND THEM HERE for the summer.  They will be changed.

Here are just a few pictures from our road trip.























































Goodnight, y'all. So excited to sleep in my own bed tonight!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Nothing Between

Recently I found myself googling the words soda + spiritual battle. Whoa.

I had come to this place where I felt physically ill when drinking soda, though all the while feeling completely compelled to get my next Coke. I was/am miserable. I crave it first thing in the morning, then as treat in the afternoon and why not just finish off the day with an ice cold cola. I think about how much I love it and then race to my nearest Sonic, but when lift the straw to my lips the taste makes me cringe and  I can never put it down. It is never enough. I often think, "How did I get here? I never used to drink sodas".

Anyway, I came across an article that left me speechless...mainly because the author had taken all my words and penned them for me. :)  It was so comforting to know someone else out there had the exact same struggle and conquered it. It was also really good to finally call it what it was in my life...an idol that has come between me and my Lord.

Please pray for me as I cling to the Lord for help to lay this down (everything within me is saying, "Don't publish this yet. Just a few more days."). :)
  Nothing Between
For many years, I was in bondage. It was a subtle bondage, and most people wouldn’t have thought there was anything wrong with what I was doing. However, what comes between my Lord Jesus and myself is bondage.It began innocently enough many, many years ago by simply enjoying a Pepsi with my meal if we went out to eat. After a period of time, probably when we had a little more financial stability, I decided a Pepsi would be a treat when I cleaned house. So I started buying 24 packs of Pepsi at the grocery store enabling me to have a cleaning-day supply at home.

I remember one day when I was pregnant talking to Steve on the phone while he was at work. It was the middle of the afternoon, and I was tired. I told him a Pepsi would be a nice pick-me-up for some extra energy. He said, “Sure. Go ahead.” That one little statement from Steve was all I needed to push my way into having a Pepsi every afternoon—for that caffeine boost.

More time passed, and there was a day when I was weary in the morning. My solution was a Pepsi right then, and before long it was not only an afternoon habit but a morning one as well. If there was a special occasion, Steve might buy me a 2-liter so I could sip on Pepsi throughout the day. When we were out and around, I would get a soda from a convenience store if we stopped for gas or just because it sounded good.
In my mind I justified my Pepsis. I worked hard taking care of a large family and homeschooling. I needed energy boosts, and I felt I deserved a treat. Sometimes the Pepsi was an escape from the pressure and problems of the day rather than turning to the Lord for His comfort.
Are you familiar with the words to the beautiful hymn, “Nothing Between”? It says:

Nothing between my soul and the Savior,
Naught of this world’s delusive dream;
I have renounced all sinful pleasure—
Jesus is mine! There’s nothing between.
Chorus

Nothing between my soul and the Savior,
So that His blessed face may be seen;
Nothing preventing the least of His favor;
Keep the way clear! Let nothing between.
Nothing between, like worldly pleasure;
Habits of life, tho harmless they seem,
Must not my heart from Him ever sever—
He is my all! There’s nothing between.

There was something between for me. While it appeared to be a harmless habit of life, it had become a sinful, worldly pleasure for me because it had become so important. During the day, I thought about when I would get another Pepsi. I hoped when we were out that we would stop at the convenience store so I could buy a big drink from the soda fountain. If I didn’t have a Pepsi, I’d get a headache so I was always trying to prevent that from happening.

While I greatly enjoyed drinking my Pepsi, I was truly in bondage. I fought spiritual battles over my Pepsi—defending it one moment and feeling condemned the next. I would drink a Pepsi telling the Lord that it would be my last one, but the next day I’d find myself rationalizing it again.

Paul says in 1 Corinthians 9:27: “But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.” Paul understood what was important spiritually, and he took steps to keep his body in subjection. I knew that my body wasn’t in subjection. It was ruling me instead of me ruling it.

I knew the amount of soda I was consuming wasn’t good for my health or my teeth. It was an unnecessary expense, and if I didn’t have a Pepsi, I was guaranteed a caffeine headache. I planned to stop drinking Pepsi many times but would end up deciding I’d wait for another day.

Twice I succeed in getting off the caffeine for several weeks or a couple of months only to end up back on it. I thought I could start drinking the Pepsi again, and keep it in moderation. Although I would begin with small amounts, before long I was back to where I had been before.

I remember a friend telling me about how she had stopped smoking. She was trying to stop but was out gardening when a very strong urge to smoke hit her. She cried out to the Lord and said, “If You want me to stop smoking, Lord, You will have to take this craving from me.” And He did.

I thought to myself. “Lord, if You will do it for her, You can do it for me.” That’s how I started praying. However, in my life the Lord hasn’t zapped me from my sinful directions into a righteous path, although I keep hoping it will work like that. It would be so much easier.

“There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it” (1 Corinthians 10:13). This verse showed me that the Lord doesn’t stop making the temptation a temptation. Rather He provides the way of escape. Then I have to decide if I will take the way of escape or give in to the temptation.

“Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God” (Romans 6:13). Here I saw again that I had to make a choice. What would I yield to—righteous or unrighteousness?

In my spiritual battle with my sin, I knew the Lord was telling me the Pepsi had become an idol in my life. That was evidenced by my wanting to stop drinking it but not being able to and by the focus it had taken for me. Finally, the Lord’s conviction of my sin was so strong that I said in my heart, “It isn’t worth it. I don’t want anything between my soul and the Savior.”

I made the decision to stop yielding to unrighteous, and God’s grace was sufficient. “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).

On December 31, 2006, I drank my last Pepsi. It was a miserable two days as I suffered through the caffeine withdrawal, but I kept crying out to Him for His grace and strength. The joy I have experienced this past year and a half since being freed me from my bondage is completely worth the discomfort of the withdrawal.

The sodas had become a habit for me. I would drink a soda—when I was happy, when I was sad, in the morning, in the afternoon, on special occasions, when we were running errands—there was almost always a reason to have a soda, and it was all part of the habit of my life. After getting off the Pepsi, when I hit those habitual times, I longed for a soda at first, but every time I put my thoughts on how much I desired the Lord Jesus and how much I didn’t want to be back in bondage. I asked for His help as the days went by. I knew from my previous attempts at freedom that I could justify starting again and soon be back into the old habits.

“I can do all things through Christ which strengthen me” (Philippians 4:13). Experientially, in the release from Pepsi drinking, I found this to be true, but only as I yielded to righteousness and chose to take the way of escape from the temptation. It didn’t happen automatically. The desire wasn’t removed from me. I had to fight a spiritual battle with the help of the Lord Jesus Christ. The way of escape was to care more about the Lord Jesus than about my sinful pleasure.

I want to make it clear as I bring this Mom’s Corner to a close that I am not saying drinking a Pepsi is sin. Instead, I am telling you how something that isn’t inherently sinful in itself became sin for me because of the focus it had taken in my heart. “Whatsoever is not of faith is sin” (Romans 14:23). “Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin” (James 4:17). I knew the Lord was convicting me that I shouldn’t continue the Pepsi habit in my life. I was aware that it wasn’t pleasing to Him. Yet, for a long time, I allowed my flesh to rule my heart.

I share this story because I know many of those who read the Mom’s Corner are in bondage to something. It might be what others would call sin, but it might be like my Pepsi drinking that no one else would consider wrong. From the moms who share their spiritual struggles with me, I know that this list could include soda, coffee, smoking, other treats, an addiction to the computer or TV, and many others. Each of us knows our own hearts. We are aware of what it is that comes between us and our Savior. Don’t think that because you have tried for freedom before that you just give in to it, live with it, justify it, and say it’s the way you are. I had tried before as well. It took becoming more and more miserable in my sin for me to get to the place where I would choose the way of escape.

My heart’s desire is to encourage each of us to be free. “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed” (John 8:36). “For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another” (Galatians 5:13). Hardly a day goes by that I don’t rejoice in my freedom and liberty from the flesh. I never want to return to that bondage; the joy of nothing between is too sweet. Would you be free as well?

Teri Maxwell

Written by Teri Maxwell, co-author of Managers of Their Homes, Managers of Their Chores, Keeping Our Children’s Hearts, Just Around the Corner (Vols. 1 & 2), and author of Homeschooling with a Meek and Quiet Spirit.

Teri Maxwell is the mother of eight children and began homeschooling in 1985. Four of her children have graduated from homeschool, and one is married. Teri is a homeschool conference speaker and has been writing monthly articles of encouragement for homeschooling moms since 1990.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Really?

Did I really write my last post on May 13th?  Wow. I barely have even been online to read any of my favorite bloggers. I am sure missing you guys.  Things have obviously been a little hectic here. Three jobs, a husband in Zimbabwe for 15 days, solo with the residents while the house parents are in Scotland. It has been enough to cause me to collapse into bed every night.

All is well though.  I picked up the husband yesterday which is a glorious gift. He is home for five days and then heads out to Canada for eight days. The residents go home on Saturday for summer break and I will get to enjoy sweet time with family and friends.

I have really been enjoying my time with Freedom Stones. I am learning so much. I will continue to keep you posted on what's going on there, but you can follow F.S. on twitter for regular updates and awesome information on human trafficking.

Much love from our Cornerstone abode,

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Exciting News! (and no, I'm not pregnant)







I have been busting at the seams to write this post for the last couple of weeks, but I have been waiting for the right time...for the dust to settle.

I will start by saying that when I first went to visit Cornerstone, I silently prayed in my heart that I would love to work there. Months later we were packing our things and heading to McKinney to indeed live there. In the same way, when I started my masters in professional counseling I knew that I wanted to work with women, but what I really wanted was to be involved in the fight against human trafficking in some capacity. This was a desire that seemed so far fetched many years ago. I was not educated about human trafficking, nor did I even know a soul who advocated on behalf of these individuals.

But, a couple of months ago I started communicating with Leah Knippel, Founder of Freedom Stones International. And last week I became a Freedom Stones part-time, volunteer staff member.

That's right, I went part-time with Mom's Best Friend, only to pick-up more hours for no pay. [Curtsy]

I can't even begin to tell you what this has done for my heart. I am so excited about working with Leah, other talented staff members, and working on behalf of the mission of Freedom Stones. The company launched several months ago and are a claimed learning organization, meaning that although they have developed a business model, they are open to change and adaptation.  What I love is that I am helping with things that truly fit my skill set and background. Have a I mentioned that I am excited?

I could sit here and type a million different things about Freedom Stones, but if you have interest then I trust you will check out their website to learn more. And if you have time watch these videos!



There are a number of ways that you can help!

Should you have any questions or want to help in ANY way, please email me directly at courtney@freedomstones.ws

Breaking the chains of trafficking,

Monday, May 10, 2010

Our First

On Saturday, Larry and I celebrated our first trip around the sun as a married couple! This last year has flown by and I am ridiculously grateful for the Lord's (and Larry's) mercies in my life. We enjoyed dinner at Rick's Chophouse that evening, but it was just an interesting day with many twists and turns along the way.  It would take me way too long describe our day - you would be reading for days, and laughing and crying all along the way.  Nonetheless, year one is under our belt and I count my husband as a precious gift.  If you haven't checked out Larry's beautiful editing of our wedding, enjoy it now!


California Love Before the Wedding from Larry Ray Causey II on Vimeo.



California Love, The Ceremony from Larry Ray Causey II on Vimeo.



California Love III from Larry Ray Causey II on Vimeo.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Off to the Zoo!

On Saturday Larry and the residents met me after class and we headed to the Dallas Zoo.  It was perfect weather and the girls did a great job packing a picnic for us all. After lunch we split up and the girls and I enjoyed every second of our zoo adventure together. Larry and I know that our Saturdays look different than if we had stayed on Abbey Rd., but we would not trade this time for anything. It is such a blessing.  We would covet your prayers though, that Larry and I would be diligent and thoughtful about setting aside time for one another. We did get to enjoy a long bike ride tonight, which was much needed! :)

Here are some pictures from my sweet time with my girls.





















































































































































































Friday, April 30, 2010

Orecchiette with Sausage, Asparagus and Spinach

I made a great pasta dish on Wednesday night that I wanted to share.  It is not a dish that calls for a heavy sauce, so if you don't enjoy pasta without the alfredo or marinara poured on thick, then this probably isn't going to be for you.

1 pound orecchiette
4 sweet Italian sausages (about 1 pound), casing removed and crumbled
Small bunch of asparagus, trimmed into 1 inch pieces
1 pound spinach, washed, trimmed, and cut into pieces
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup organic chicken broth
1 teaspoon organic butter
Garlic to taste
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

















Place sausage in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Brown for about 8-10 minutes, transfer to a bowl.

















Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente, 8-10 minutes; drain, reserving about ½ cup of the cooking water.

















In the same skillet that you cooked the sausage in (don’t wash it out) add the olive oil and garlic and once hot, sauté the asparagus until almost tender, then add the spinach and continue sautéing until wilted.

















Add sausage mixture to sautéed spinach and asparagus and mix together.

Add the orecchiette to the mixture. Stir to combine, adding chicken broth plus the cooking liquid if pasta seems too dry; add the teaspoon of butter, sprinkle with cheese, salt and freshly ground black pepper and serve immediately.

















Bon Appetit!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Wish List

There are a few books out there that I am dying to get my hands on. Luckily, they are all a great price on amazon.com, so you should check them out too!  What is on YOUR reading wish list? 

Bittersweet by Shauna Niequist.  This is her second book, a follow-up to Cold Tangerines. I adored her first book and was challenged and inspired by her beautiful writings. 























I Will Carry You by Angie Smith. Angie is the author of Bring the Rain, an incredible blog that was first started as an outlet for Angie as she anticipated the birth of her daughter, Audrey Caroline, knowing that Audrey would not survive.  She has tremendous and beautiful faith and her writings have certainly contributed to my growth.























And lastly, Sleep: It Does a Family Good.  I heard Dr. Archibald Hart on a radio program and was intrigued by this topic. I think this will be a great read that Larry and I will learn a lot from.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Where Does Our Help Come From?

Well, I am going to step out here today and risk being irrelevant. Oh my!  My hope is to get some of my closest and dearest friends to think and investigate the things of our culture that can so easily become the norm to us. I would love to read comments or be provided with additional resources should you have any.

About a month ago I was at home alone. It was right around the time that I went part-time and I was a little stressed out about the whole transition. My stress always manifests itself in physical ways.  I will clench my jaw, my shoulders will hurt, I have headaches and chest pains.  It's really just good, plain fun.

Anyway, I had some time to myself and I was experiencing lots of tension in my neck and shoulders. I decided to pull up a YouTube video and try to couple of yoga exercises specifically for the relief of neck pain. I proceeded to spend the next 30 minutes on the floor of my bedroom in an array of poses and postures. When I was finished I sat up and just felt kind of strange. On one hand I loved the idea of becoming more flexible and relaxed, but on the other hand something just did not feel right.  I honestly can't explain it any better than that.

I popped up and began to search for thoughts on yoga from some of the men that I respect the most.

First, I listened to this sermon from John Piper.  The whole sermon does not solely revolve around the topic of yoga but he definitely addresses the topic and he pleads for us to stop and think about what we are doing.  If your faith is in Christ then I encourage you to listen to the words from Piper.

Next, I sought out what John MacArthur had to say about this issue.  Quickly I found this interview (it is posted on YouTube so don't be surprised by the mix of comments left on this video) and follow up sermon and I thought MacArthur's responses made great sense, particularly in regards to how we should pursue meditation and ways to relieve our stress. It's short and sweet, so watch it, okay?

Lastly, I just think it's important for you to study the terminology, poses and postures of yoga so that you can understand what each of them mean. I think that you would be surprised by some of the meanings.  As a brief example, a few are listed here.

Again, this post is not to make anyone feel condemned for being a Christian and practicing yoga. Afterall, I am just beginning to think about this myself. Rather, it is a call for those of us love Christ with our whole hearts to examine everything carefully; holding fast to that which is good (1 Thessalonians 5:21).

I will continue to study this topic and let you know if I stumble across more relevant materials. And of course, I would love the same from you.

Much love, friends,

***You will see a number of anynomous comments below which are from a email thread of some of my closest friends. Lots of different thoughts on the subject. ***

Sunday, April 18, 2010

An Open Letter

Dear Sir,

It was not a pleasure to meet you today. No, not a pleasure at all. My mom and I were enjoying our Sunday. I am making dinner tonight for my family. We only had to stop at Albertson's so that we could pick up some cream-style corn for my new Corn Chowder recipe. My mom is sweet and dropped me off at the door since it was raining cats and dogs. It was quite unexpected when I opened the door and my purse and its contents went tumbling to the ground.

What I immediately felt was a slight hint of embarrassement for causing a scene in front of the store. But, when you pulled up behind me and began to honk your horn and make obscene gestures at me for not hurrying along, well, I felt anger.

You drove off in a rage before I could come over to the driver's side, whip open the door, and tell you what I really thought. So, I wanted to take that opportunity now. It would go something like this...

What kind of a man would pull up behind a car and see a woman searching frantically for her soggy, wet belongings in the pouring rain and then begin to honk as if it was rightly warranted and as if she did it entirely to irritate you? So entitled.

It appears that you are that kind of man. I also noticed that you were the same gentleman who took up two parking spaces as well. So entitled.

I have a feeling you are the guy that cuts people off, who won't allow others to merge when their lane is clearly ending or that flips someone off if their pace doesn't keep up with yours. You probably don't open doors for little old ladies or say thanks to your servers. I bet after you eat dinner at home you don't help with the dishes, and in fact, probably even leave your mess just scattered on the table. So entitled.

You sir, are a jerk. Your disrespect for women is a shame. Did you know that I married a man who would jump out of his car to help a frantic or troubled woman? In fact, I almost suspect that he would ask the woman to get back into her car so she would not continue to get wet. He would certainly never rush her. He makes me proud and thankful. And he showers me with dignity.

What a disgusting example you are, sir. Maybe you should consider taking your Cub Scouts sticker off of your car because it was certainly difficult for me to recognize any of your youth-based values today.

Sincerely,

Wet and flustered

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Yummy!

As a way to try and watch our budget I have started using a weekly menu planner prior to grocery shopping so that I can try and incorporate items left in our pantry and then once I get to the store I know exactly what I need to buy, alleviating random purchases. We are very lucky because we prepare meals for Cornerstone three nights per week, so that is automatically three meals that we are not responsible for. What a gift! Not to mention I have learned how to cook for eight on a regular basis.

This week, I purchased a whole chicken so that I could make both homemade chicken tortilla soup and chicken spaghetti. I made the soup this morning and it turned out super yummy! My mom had the recipe and then I added a few extra spices. This soup is also a great idea when you are working on a budget because it saves well and makes great leftovers, so you can get several meals out of it.

Homemade Tortilla Soup Ingredients:
Half of rotisserie chicken (both white and dark meat; shredded)
2-3 carrots
1/2 yellow onion
celery (if desired; I do not use)
1 can whole-kernel, golden corn (organic)
1 can stewed tomatoes (organic)
1 carton chicken broth (organic, free range)
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp cummin
1 tsp garlic
salt and pepper (we use Old Thompson Garlic Pepper on EVERYTHING!)
dash of crushed red pepper
dash of Tony Chachere's creole seasoning
dash of cayenne pepper if you like your soup spicy
olive oil

Directions:
In a large stock pan saute chopped onion, carrots, celery, garlic, cumin, chili powder, cayenne pepper (if using) in olive oil until veggies begin to become tender.

Add chicken broth, shredded chicken, corn, stewed tomatoes and simmer until veggies are tender. Add salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper and creole seasoning to taste.

Garnish with shredded monterrey jack/cheddar cheese mix, tortilla strips or fritos, dollop of sour cream, and slices of avocado.

Enjoy! We are!
 
 
 

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Spring Afternoon

I have to admit, I relish working from home on days like today. Clean linens, cool afternoon breeze, trees rustling in the distance combined with the sounds of a busy husband in the next room, and a lazy pup stretching in the sunlight near by.  Spring is here, friends.




Thursday, March 25, 2010

Getting Into the Routine









This week I began my new schedule as a part-timer. I have spent the last five years in household staffing sales and recruiting and about four months ago I let my employers know that I would be making a change. I am currently in graduate school for professional counseling and I am finally nearing the end of my coursework. Can I get an Amen? I am,  however, also in danger of my catalog expiring, causing me to have to take additional classes. I would love to avoid this and so I am doubling up this semester, then I have one more lecture class and lastly my practicum work. The goal: being completed by spring 2001 in order to avoid falling under the new catalog.


Anyway, in order for me to go part-time, Larry and I have and will have to make some financial sacrifices. We will need to eat at home more, shop less, ration the wine and maybe, just maybe put my coveted Tyler candles on the back burner for now.

When we first decided to make this change, we started taking a closer look at our budget. It was very evident that a huge junk of our money was spent on food, particularly restaurants and eating out. Larry and I don't eat out a ton, but I love going out at lunch. And buying sodas or a coffee. In the months ahead, I will definitely be curbing this habit *whimper*. We have rid ourselves of credit card debt and are now working on the remaining balance on my car and our school loans.

A friend of mine recommended Mint.com when I was explaining to her that we were needing to keep a better eye on our finances. I swear by this website. It has been such a valuable tool for our little family and I know that it will only increase in value as our family grows.

I also really enjoy the advice of the Get Rich Slowly blog. It is full of tips and relative articles. It often puts things in perspective and helps me think more about our goals for the future.

I went to school today to print off some research materials, and I found my mind drifting: where should I stop on the way home to get a drink? Is there a Sonic near by? Home Goods is on my way home...I should just peek in and see if they have anything cute. But I resisted the urges and pointed my Acura straight home without spending an extra penny. Sweet small victory.

I write this blog as somewhat of an introduction into this new season of our lives. It is sure to be a sweet one. I have already been able to spend precious time at home with Larry and help with things around that house that he typically takes the initiative to do while working from home. I am also hoping to find areas where I can help him with his business, as he is taking on more of the financial responsibilities. My hope is to begin frequently writing about money savings tips that are working for us and if you have any to share, I would love it!

If you will, we would covet your prayers for financial wisdom and discipline in both school work and with our time.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Left Wrestling

It has been several weeks since I have written.  My little leave of absence began because I was too under the weather to even stare at the light from my computer screen, but then I read a post by one of my favorite bloggers authors,  Ann Voskamp. The entire entry is breathtaking and thought-provoking (read it. hint, hint.) but a few simple sentences caught my eye, my mind and then eventually my heart.
Afraid that when we aren’t talking, aren’t connected, aren’t piping in on conversations around tables, water coolers, comment boxes, aren’t messaging or emailing …. that we don’t matter. That we will be forgotten.
That we’ll become invisible.
And then...
This. I think on this: “the great contemporary terror of anonymity.” Is the whole of our lives this flailing, surging struggle against obscurity? That our worst fear is to be unknown. Not known as someone special, unique… better. That only when we are seen, and then, most importantly,valued … only then do we see our own worth. 
Oh how these words ring true for so many reasons.

I have always been a woman who has struggled with opening my writings and the whirling of my mind up for public opinion.  On one had it is a door that ushers in those that I love and  are like-mind to connect with me and know my heart, joys and struggles. Yet on the other hand, it is at times merely a way to be seen. Partially known from afar. After all, it is much safer that way, right?

On Saturday night I sat 'round a table with some of my dearest friends, and we talked about Ann's post and our culture and I confessed my sincerest desire to write for God's glory, discerning when to invest time pounding away at the keyboard. I also shared with these friends my feeble attempts at merely wanting to being seen and not forgotten in this world of chaos.

I have poured out this struggle many times before to my sweet husband, who graciously accepts me as I am.  But Saturday night, I felt brave. I took the risk of coming outside the safety of my own home, and let words of pride and vanity drip from my lips. These words came forth as an act of faith; trusting that the Lord will not leave me this way, leaving little to fear. He does indeed command us to confess our  sins so that we may be healed.

As I often do, I sing Ginny Owen's sweet lyrics up to heaven as a cry for dependence on the Lord's sanctifying work in my life.
And I am clinging to the promise You're not through with me yet.
You're not through. Not yet. Amen.

Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in your sight O Lord, my rock and my redeemer. Psalm 19:14

Saturday, February 27, 2010

And The Sun Shines On

Welp, it is Saturday and it is gorgeous outside. But I am still propped up in bed, like I have been for most of the week. I went from being sick to sicker, which eventually brought my sweet mom out to the ranch to visit me.  I am finally on the mend---thank God.

Now all that I really want is to feel good enough to make a picnic with prosciutto and cheese, sip on some Cab, watch my dog sunbathe and enjoy the words and company of my husband. Hopefully soon.












This should have been posted yesterday, the day that marks the third anniversary of the death of one of our dearest friends, Nathan Herzog. We love you Nate.  What a blessing you all are to us, even still.

Here is my post about Nathan after being gone for one year. Please enjoy our sweet friend!

Signed,

Grateful for health, friends, family and memories that last forever. Simple graces.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010