Wednesday, January 31, 2007

I Am Still Alive and Well

I know that I have many faithful readers and have been hearing from a lot of you. I am sorry if I have let you down by not keeping up with my blog lately. It is certainly not from lack of inspiration and you will never find ME with "nothing to say". My life has been rather hectic lately. It all began in November with Adisyn being born, building a deck cover with James, Christmas Holidays, taking down and putting away all evidence of Christmas, packing for the cruise, the more than busy week BEFORE the cruise, THE cruise, the more than busy week AFTER the cruise, Ezekiel Walter being born while I WAS on the cruise, and so on.

So, here I am begging your forgiveness and asking you to give me a few more days. I promise to keep up the Trisha story, who, by the way, went on the cruise with us. I have so much inspiration in me right now that I just don't know where to begin. I am one of the Facilitators in a Beth Moore Bible Study, Daniel. I cannot believe how awesome it is. It keeps me reading The Word and studying. Beginning in the morning, I will be teaching a Bible Study on the Shepherd's View of the 23rd Psalm in the salon to a few stylists who have asked me to do so. So, as you can see, I am not sitting around doing nothing.

Here's a few pics for you to enjoy and catch you up on where I am.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

The Facial

Part III to Our Journey Began

This entry make take some time for me to write. There are times when it seems as though it was only yesterday. It was more than two years ago. It was such a mighty manifestation of the power of God. It was a moment that would forever change my life. It would change who I was IN God. It elevated me to a level with God I did not know I could obtain. It was never about ME -- it was always about GOD and what GOD wanted to do for Trisha. I just got blessed in the mix. You see, God was about to change Trisha in such a way that hundreds of people's lives would be affected. God uses the simple to confound the wise. I am truly unsure of which category I fell into but I know this, God was about to be the awesome God I knew Him to be. He truly sets the captive free. God truly meets you where you are but He refuses to leave you there.

By this time, Trisha has moved out of the building where I am. She moved to a salon about 2 miles away. I believed she moved into more darkness.

It was an early morning. I do not recall what day of the week it was. It was my routine to go in about an hour earlier than the appointment so I could prepare. It was also my routine to pray for my clients coming in as I readied the room. (I added water to the steamer, made wet towel rolls to put in towel warmer, turned on the stones, lined up all the facial products in order of use, turned on the bed warmer, turned on soft soothing music and prepared the special lighting; praying all the while.)

Trisha was almost always early and she was early this particular morning. I was ready. I thought I was. It was obvious there had been a late night. I welcomed her in and stepped out while she readied herself for her facial. I did not like what I felt. I sat in the hall and prayed. I just wanted her to go away. I tapped on the door, she said she was ready and I entered the room.

I cannot describe what I felt and what I saw. It was as if darkness had just settled into the room and all around Trisha. I knew immediately it was going to be spiritual warfare for me. I began the procedure. All the while God was speaking to me and revealing things to me I did not want to know. I will not reveal them to you. A wise woman (Victoria) once instructed me this way: "God does not reveal things to you for you to talk about them. God reveals them to you for you to intercede and stand in the gap." I began to pray and battle. I stormed the gates of Hell. I never said one thing aloud. I felt the Holy Spirit all around me and spoke something to my spirit and He showed it to me: "The spirit in her will BOW to the spirit in you." I immediately began to feel such a peace and I began to speak peace into Trisha. With every touch I blessed her. The hour was up. I patted her on the side of her face and said, "Wake up, little girl, I am all finished." Trisha roused and said, "Oh, I slept so good. Thank you for praying for me. I felt such peace." I told Trisha that I indeed prayed for her but not aloud. She said, "Yes, you did. I heard you." Then she told me what I prayed. It was accurate. I stepped out of the room so she could get ready. I sat in the hall somewhat bewildered. How could I feel such peace? I was exhausted. I KNOW I said NOTHING out loud. I prayed in my spirit. I knew I did. How did Trisha know? How did Trisha hear? Then I saw it again and I knew what God had done. God had protected ME and began the healing in Trisha. That foul spirit in Trisha bowed to the Holy Spirit IN ME!

I have performed many facials in my career. I have enjoyed the presence of God in many of them. I always prayed for my client and I always prayed they would feel the presence of God. At the beginning of Trisha's facial, I felt the presence of the enemy. I was never afraid. I almost became ill. Comparatively speaking, Trisha's facial is The Facial that changed me forever. I knew in those moments that my God was bigger than any demon and demons truly do flee at the mention of Jesus. Jesus gives peace that surpasses all understanding, simply because He says He will. His name is LIFE. In Him there is liberty and freedom. In Him there is joy.

Today, you too can have peace, joy, life, liberty and freedom. It is all in Jesus.

(There is more to come on Trisha. Next: Part IV - Bible Stories in the Salon).

Shaved My Head

Part II to Our Journey Begins

Time went on. I did my thing and Trisha was doing hers. I gave her a pedicure and, as she dozed, I prayed for her in my spirit - not aloud. I truly did not know how to pray but God said for me to pray for her and love her. I prayed choppy and simple prayers. Thinking back, to God I must have sounded like a 2 year old learning to put sentences together. I repeated myself and I kept it to myself -- just me and God. I did not want anyone to know about this because I had no clue as to what I was doing and I had no clue as to what God was doing. In my eyes, this girl was crazy and needed more than I had to give her. She needed rehab, not ME. Consequently, I was not the only one that felt so strongly about Trisha. Many people around the salon would comment to me that they could not believe I was going to someone like Trisha to have my hair done. My answer was as God directed, "I love Trisha". See, there are Christians who believe we should only go to Christians to have services done. I had one lady tell me that because I was going to this certain place to have my nails done that I was giving my money to heathens and God would not bless me. I got a bit indignant. See, I was getting bolder and God was showing me, little by little, how to love someone where they are. You know, the way GOD does it. That "heathen" that was and IS doing my nails is a precious child of God. She serves my God. She was PREjudged just because of the country she comes from. Someone witnessed to her before I came along.

Oh, my Father, help me to never judge anyone ever again.

My hair got to looking better and better. Every time Trisha did my hair, I loved it more and I loved HER more. One day I was giving Trisha a facial and I asked her if I could pray for her. She said I could. You see, the more I obeyed God, the more bold I became for Him. It was a simple prayer, no King James vernacular -- just simple things like thanking God for putting Trisha in my life and thanking Him for blessing her business, and the like. Looking back, I've wondered why I did not just come out and ask, "Trisha, do you know my Jesus?" The only answer I have been able to ascertain is I was in direct obedience to God and, in hind sight, I think she may have said "yes" and I would have just dismissed the whole mission God had ordained. See, she DID believe in God. She just did not believe in God as THE God. She saw God as an option. So, "just believing" was not all God had for Trisha -- He wanted all of her and He wanted to be her ALL IN ALL.

I wish I could tell you that prayer included Trisha's salvation. It did not. It was about to get even darker. I was about to be thrown into spiritual warfare I had never been in before. God knew that and God equipped me with His Mighty Word as my weapon. If I had known what was ahead of me I think I would have shaved my head rather than go back to Trisha.

The Facial that changed MY life. Even after all this time, Trisha has known nothing of the story you are about to read. Until Saturday, December 16, 2006 - - I told her all of it, sitting in her chair, while she did my hair. (I guess that means I never shaved my head).

Our Journey Began

It is 4:00 AM and I am wide awake. I did not JUST wake up. I have been awake since 1:15. I have counted sheep, I have talked to the Shepherd, I have counted backwards from 100 at least 100 times, I have prayed, I have reflected, I have sang complete songs in my head, I have talked to Lexi, I have prayed more, I have written out all my checks for next week, I have prayed again. How many nights have I done this? I do not want to do anything right now but sleep and yet I am not sleepy. I know I need sleep. My thoughts during these wee hours of the morning keep taking me back to my friend, Trisha.

Trisha is my Hair Stylist and she came into my life just over 4 years ago. I will share the story.

Trisha shared a suite with 2 other girls and they were next door to my suite. Trisha was loud and obnoxious and said things that would just blow my mind. She was crude and obviously lived a very different life than I. She was much younger than me -- maybe 17 or 18 years younger. Not someone that I would pick to have a relationship with. She was in a transition in her life. She was in the process of getting clean from using drugs and abusing alcohol. She was tangled up with someone in Prison for drug possession offenses. She openly bragged about her sexual preferences (basically, she had no preferences -- either was fine). No, this was not someone I would choose for a friend or even a Hair Stylist.

One day I decided (in my spare time) that I would do some color on my hair myself. Well, needless to say, I got in way over my head (pardon the pun). I went out in the hall to find someone to help me and I ran into Trisha. I said, "Hey, would you mind putting this color on my hair for me?" She told me she would be glad to, all the while telling me how she was into witchcraft and Astrology, not to mention her sexual escapades. Somehow I just sat there. I never reacted and I never responded. I simply stated that I believed in God and that I was a Christian. I later went back to my suite where I apologized to God for going to her and allowing her to touch me and said I would never go back to her. My righteous indignation stunk and God let me know it immediately. God said to me, "You WILL go back. You WILL love her and you will pray for her and teach her to love Me." You can only imagine the argument that ensued. "Oh, no, God, she is so full of sin and she is so steeped in junk . . . . . . " And on and on I went. Then that voice saying "No, you will go and you will love her and let her know I love her." "OK, fine, well, I don't have to get my hair colored again for at least 4 weeks so maybe she will just go away." God told me to go to her right then and be friendly and love her where she is. I marched back out in the hall and guess who was out there?! Trisha. Yes, Trisha! At the time I did spa services as well as hair so I asked her if she would like to start doing my hair and I would give her facials and pedicures. She gladly accepted and booked an appointment with me right away. I hugged her. When I took her in my arms I felt her melt.

Our journey began.

Over the next few days I will share with you what has happened during this journey. It is amazing. God is amazing. God is faithful to do everything He says in His Word He will do. Our obedience is all He wants. This story will not be about ME or great things I have done. This story is about God loving someone that seemed (to me) unworthy of love. This story is about God meeting a young woman right where she was -- not where I thought she SHOULD be. This story is about God stripping me of that filthy self righteousness that sickens Him. Stay with me and I promise you God will speak to you through this. There are people in YOUR life needing to be loved right where they are. They need YOU to love them and they need YOU to show them GOD.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Magnetized Rocks

On our train trip!

Who knew Kyle, Brooke and Mason would have so much fun with a $7 bag of rocks that were magnetized? As you can see, they put them on either sides of their ears and noses. Kyle realized his teeth were mostly metal. Now that is some kind of grill!

They were all doing a little toss up in the air with 2 or 3 and they would all come back down as one. I'm thinking there may be a lesson in there. However, the lessson may be simply thoughtless fun. My mother used to call it "horseplay" and I remember getting in trouble for it a lot. They actually had the attention of many people on the train and we certainly enjoyed watching them all play together and entertain each other.

Kids make life seem so simple. During the Christmas season we get so busy doing "the stuff" that we forget to just have fun! We are starting a new tradition at our house -- just have fun! Play! Laugh! And yes, giggle. Nothing sounds sweeter than hearing children giggle.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Train Ride

On December 2, James and I took our grandchildren on our first annual Christmas trip. Ages ranged from almost 12 to almost 2! Baby Adisyn and Baby Ezekiel will be added to the mix next year, giving us 7 wonderful grandchildren (to our credit).

Here's a rundown for you. Kyle (11), Brooke (9), Mason (7), Josiah (3) and Ava Beth (23 months). Cousins who obviously enjoy being together!

We gathered up the kids on Friday evening. Just PawPaw and MiMi -- no parents were allowed. Randy and Lori came bearing dinner! Thank goodness! Soon after they left it was bed time. Mason (and his special pillow and blanket) and Brooke slept in the guest room. Kyle and Josiah (and his guitar, book, blanket and Elmo) slept on an air matress in the living room). This left Ava Beth (a.k.a. Sissy) to sleep with PawPaw and MiMi (and of course Lexi). Ava Beth comes complete with blanket and Baby Elmo. Guess who was the last to close their eyes? Yep! Ava Beth! Actually, she talked so much (and tried her best to snore like PawPaw) that finally Lexi got up and wanted to go outside where she stayed the rest of the night.

We left our house at 6:15 on Saturday morning with all kids dressed, teeth brushed and most of them had their hair combed. We went straight to McDonald's and let them have anything they wanted. We loaded back up after a not so quick bathroom run and headed for Rusk to catch the train. I believe Rusk is where the Texas State Mental Hospital is as well. As we drove along I became a little unsure of our actual destination.

We arrived at the Depot in plenty of time to shop at the gift shop. What was I thinking? Have you ever taken 5 kids to a store and told them to pick something out and given them a limit? Not smart! Josiah and Ava Beth immediately chose "Thomas the Train" toys. The older 3, believe it or not, settled on bags of rocks. They had more fun with those rocks because they bought the magnetized ones -- I'll have to post those pictures another time.

We took so many pictures that Josiah finally said, "MiMi, no more cheeses." We had so much fun and the kids were so good. They played together and they bonded. I first thought of assigning seat arrangements. Kids do that all by themselves. I have to say, my older ones, Kyle and Brooke, amazed me at how good they were with the little ones. They were loving and patient. Mason is still trying to find his place and he is smack dab in the middle. He can hang with the big ones and play with the little ones.

We made so many memories and enjoyed our day so much. We found that all we had to say was "Bubba and Sissy" and they all looked at us. I guess it's a Texas thing -- we have a Bubba and a Sissy in all three of our little families.

Our trip home went very well. We stopped at Wal-Mart and bought a DVD. Josiah fell asleep drumming with one hand and playing his guitar with the other. Ava Beth fell asleep (but not for very long). Kyle enjoyed the movie in peace while Brooke and Mason got a little rowdy in the back.

Next year we will either need to go in 2 cars or charter a bus. Mandi traded cars with us as she has the DVD player and third row seating. I asked for the DVD entertainment package in my new vehicle. James said, "No, when we are with the grandchildren, we want to talk with them and hear them." It was JAMES' idea to stop at Wal-Mart and buy the movie for the ride home. He also bought HIS favorite movie, CARS!

If you do not have grandchildren -- get you some!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

You Knew (revised)

I seem to be falling back into something I went through months ago -- not sleeping good. I guess it's a menopausal thing. I like to sleep and I need to sleep. OK, what is that we tell everyone when they can't sleep? Pray. Spend time with God. God woke you for a reason. Don't count sheep -- talk to the shepherd. Yea, well, that sounds great. It's easy to say that. It can be very hard to do it yourself. When in my sleeplessness, I find myself repeating this one prayer over and over: "Dear Lord, PLEASE let me go back to sleep."

This morning around 2:00 I woke up -- wide awake. I began chanting my prayer, "Dear Lord, PLEASE let me go back to sleep." I began reminiscing over recent events -- mostly about new babies being born into the family: a new grandchild, Adisyn, and a new cousin, Hayden. Two precious little baby girls born to two precious young women.

Now, let's go back to the beginning of the story. This is a true story but I like to begin it this way.

Once upon a time there were two young girls, Helen and Doris. They were cousins as their fathers (Melvin and Cecil) were brothers. Helen and Doris spent a lot of time together as young girls and after both married they ended up in the same town. As a matter of fact, they ended up in the same neighborhood. In this neighborhood they raised they raised their children. Doris's daughter, Sheryl, and Helen's daughter, Karen, were about the same age. They played together and when they learned to drive they began to ride to school together. Sheryl and Karen stayed close and they actually married within months of each other and the couples stayed close. They each had two children that were born 9 months apart. Of those children were Karen's daughter, Mandi, and Sheryl's daughter, Cara. Cara and Mandi saw each other from time to time and mostly at the Family Reunion we have every year on the second weekend of June. Cara and Mandi begin calling each other when it's close to reunion time. Neither of them want to go if the other one is not going. They love to team up and do a very good job of it. In the most recent years they have become the BINGO Nazi Duo.

Well, here we are, Mandi has had two children (Josiah and Ava Beth) with one on the way. Cara just had her little baby girl, Hayden. We were at the baby shower for Ezekiel (Mandi's baby boy due in January) just days ago. I looked at Ava Beth looking over at Adisyn and then at Hayden. It hit me: This is major family ties here.

Cara and Mandi have become very close as they both have children now. They talk on the phone almost everyday. Sheryl and I still talk on the phone and we email back and forth. Sheryl and I live about 2 miles apart.

Let's recap:
Doris and Helen: first cousins
Sheryl and Karen: third cousins
Cara and Mandi: fifth cousins
Hayden and Ava Beth: seventh cousins

Who knew? God knew!

God knew way back when Cecil and Melvin were born that through them would come this awesome family. There is so many more in this family but I think this story is worth telling. God knew how much I would need Sheryl in my life. Sheryl has been a rock for me when I had nothing but sinking sand. Cara and Mandi have been so much fun for each other and have shared so much laughter. Now, they encourage each other and build each other up. They make each other feel good about themselves.

Lord, I thank you for the family I have. I thank you for the Godly heritage we have. It is powerful and it is assuring. Keep close watch over all of us, Doris, Helen, Sheryl, Karen, Cara, Mandi, Ava Beth and little Hayden. This is no accident. This has Your handprint all over it. You have orchestrated a love and bond that comes from what You designed it for: FAMILY. Through all the struggles in our lives and all of the unknowns we have had; YOU KNEW. Amen

Monday, November 06, 2006

Adisyn Is Here!

Adisyn Renee Livingston came into this world Saturday morning, November 4, at 5:03. She weighed 6 pounds, 2 ounces and was 18 inches long.

PawPaw and MiMi are very proud of this little girl. She is a darling baby and we are going to love her a lot. Her big brother, Mason, is very excited about his little sister. I am sure she is going to rock his little world. He has had his Mom all to himself for 7 years and now Adisyn is going to occupy most of Desiree's time.

Keep Joshua and Desiree in your prayers. May God give them all the knowledge and strength to be the good and Godly parents this precious little baby girl deserves.

We have lots of pictures of Adisyn but this is MY blog so I chose to post the one of PawPaw and MiMi loving on her just minutes after she was born.

My prayer for little Adisyn Renee today is:

Lord, keep her and bless her. Make Your face to shine upon her and be gracious to her. Keep her from evil and keep evil from her. Protect her and give Your angels charge over her. Bless her body and give her perfect health. Give her mommy and daddy wisdom and may they seek after Your will for their lives and the lives of their children. Amen

Saturday, October 21, 2006

MamMaw Ritter's Oatmeal

I am not a cook. I have no special recipes that would come to anyone's mind when my name is mentioned. I did not get that particular gene. My mother only got 1/2 of the gene. My sister got the gene -- totally. It skipped me and went straight to my daughter, Amanda (Mandi). I was telling someone the other day that you will never hear my grandchildren say things like, "Remember how MiMi used to bake us . . . . Or MiMi used to fix us . . . ."

No, my grandchildren will say things like, "Remember how MiMi used to take us to those cool places to eat . . . Or MiMi used to buy us the neatest little snacks . . . "

When I was a little girl (and even as an adult) my MamMaw Ritter used to cook some of the best food. She made delicious lemon ice box pies with graham cracker crust, all from scratch. She made chicken and dumplin's to die for. No one could fry potatoes and onions like MamMaw and oh, my goodness, the salmon croquettes. The one dish MamMaw made that stands out in my mind is her oatmeal. She cooked it on the stove -- none of the instant microwave stuff. She would sweeten it and put butter and milk in it. Sometimes she would make toast and crumble it in the oatmeal. My personal favorite was when she would fry bacon real crisp and crumble it into the oatmeal. She would sit my bowl down in front of me. And, even now, I can smell it and see the steam rising. I loved MamMaw's oatmeal.

Not long ago, my little granddaughter, Brooke, spent the night with us. It was getting late and we needed to eat something so I made dinner. When PawPaw, Brooke and MiMi sat down to eat, Brooke said, "MiMi, this is so good. I have never eaten this before but I really like it. What is it?" I told her it was MiMi's special recipe and when she was older I would teach her how to make it.

It was SPAM with cheese melted on top.

There is one thing I have mastered in the kitchen. It is how to make MamMaw's oatmeal. This is Saturday and I am off work today. James was out working on his next big project - putting a cover over the deck. I finished my third cup of coffee and decided I needed a bowl of MamMaw's oatmeal. I even had my bacon fried just right and I added 1 ingredient MamMaw did not have -- dried cranberries. It was perfect. It tasted just like MamMaw made. I could almost feel her with me. I imagined what it would be like if she were still alive and what sort of conversation we would have over our oatmeal. I brought my bowl into office where I sat down to write about MamMaw's oatmeal. I take a bite and oh, it is so good. My cell phone rings in the kitchen and I go to grab it. I talk for only a brief minute. I head back to my office to finish my oatmeal and write. What I found stopped me in my tracks. Lexi (my dog) was eating MamMaw's oatmeal. Yes, her head was in the bowl. The moment is over. I am just going to make another pot of coffee.