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Be Still and Know

When they were little, they sapped my energy levels physically and verbally. Now that they are not so little, they can leave me breathless and drained with their emotions.

In dealing with  a teenager’s sadness, I take on that sadness, all the while pleading for God to give me the wisdom and words to give to that child. Give me the words to encourage, YOUR words that have power to comfort and heal. In dealing with a teenager’s nervousness and anxiety, I feel the anxiety, the fear. I pray for God to give me words of love to guide. Give me words to calm the heart, YOUR words that have power to penetrate the soul. And He does give me those words. I speak them, I text them, I pray them. And I hope that peace will envelope my teenagers’ hearts.

be anxious

the lord is good

But what I find is that my heart is actually wanting God to fix it all, right now! There is impatience in my pleading for God’s words of comfort. What I really desire is for the trial to be over, for the pain to be wiped away, for happiness to be restored immediately. I have absorbed their anxiety, fear, sadness and anger, and it feels overwhelming.

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And I realized that what I need is to be still and know that God is God. To trust. And that is what my teenagers need as well. He will give the heart peace and comfort in the midst of the storm, even though the storm may rage awhile longer.

be still

 

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20 years

Mr. & Mrs. Daniel Whitten

A look at 20 years of marriage!! Made up of ingredients of laughter and tears, blissful joy and sorrow, selfishness and giving, love and hate (at times if we are truthful); all bound up in a dependence on God to mold us into him image, causing us to love like he loves, and to give like he gives. We still have many rough edges but God has been gracious in showing us our faults and giving us a heart of repentance.

 

on our way

On our way!

hiking

Honeymoon – hiking in North Carolina

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Honeymoon – Kitty Hawk

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

traveling

Honeymoon – We traveled from Mississippi to North Carolina to Virginia and D.C. and back again.

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Then we were on our way to Texas.

111 central ave

After 18 months in Texas we moved to Greenville, South Carolina – the best place on earth.

14 langley dr

We bought our first house!

new baby

And… eventually brought home our first born.

Just a short 21 months later, we brought home our second born.

Just a short 21 months later, we brought home our second born.

We eventually added onto our little house.

We eventually added onto our little house.

The house grew and the kids grew.

The house grew and the kids grew.

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We have enjoyed many friends’ and family weddings throughout the years. It’s always a reminder of our own commitment to one another.

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My precious family!

Daniel and Karen horsepature river trail 2

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My Love!

My Love! Lets make it another 20 plus years!

 

 

 

My crazy dreams

I had some crazy dreams when I was growing up. I’m sure that’s normal. It’s funny how these dreams drop from our desires and are replaced by more realistic ones and other ideal ones.

One of my dreams was to climb Mt. Everest. I use to think about how difficult and trying it would be and craved the challenge. Then one day I woke up and knew that I would never climb Mt. Everest because I really don’t like to camp and I have developed an aversion to frigid temperatures. The amazing thing is that I was okay with dropping that dream.

Another dream I had was to take up sky diving. The idea of falling and then gliding down to the ground filled my adolescent mind as the most thrilling thing I could do. But along the way (I think it occurred when I bore my first child), I developed a great fear of heights. One day I was okay climbing along cliffs and standing on the roof of a tall building, and the next day I was feeling dizzy, faint and sick to my stomach to climb to the top of my children’s playground. I now have a daughter that wants to sky dive and I smile and think, I wonder if her dream will last. I don’t discourage her, but I feel ulcers developing just thinking about her jumping out of a plane.

One dream that I had as a young girl, though, has stayed with me. Fear and discomfort has not rid me of the idea of being a beekeeper. Earlier this year I took a class, talked to other beekeepers, and read books and articles filling my head with everything I could. I prepared. My parents obliged my request for a bee hive for Christmas and I bought other supplies. IMG_6884 copySo this past Saturday, I became a beekeeper. As with everything my ideals and the actual reality didn’t match up. Handling bees is not easy! Before taking my bees home, I watched my instructor install a package of bees and it looked so simple. The bees were not very active. The instructor didn’t even wear gloves and took off his veil early on. So, I thought, I’ll do the same. My bees were a bit more active, though, and they let me know that they were not too pleased with me by giving me a couple of stings.

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My bees!!

 

I humbly donned my veil and gloves after that and the rest of the installation went well. I am super excited with my bees. After 48 hours I peeked in and saw they were making comb and cleaning house (they were pulling out bees who had died in the package).

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Building comb.

I’m thankful to be able to have bees. I have learned so much about God’s creation and amazing design just in learning about this small insect. We have an awesome creator!

A photographic recap of 2013.

Lemons on my lemon tree

yellow lemons

Ducks at Furman

srt 5

Tulips

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Flowers by the lakepeace

Bees

bee on lemon flower

Honey

honey pouring 2

A breakfast made by a sister for her brotherbreakfast

BlueberriesIMG_5684

My parentsIMG_5819copy

Determination

determination

My Whitten familyIMG_6100 copy

Happiness

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Sunset

sunset

Hay bales

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A father helping a daughter with algebraalgebra

Rabbits

sleepy bunnies

Cosette

cosette

The beach at sunsetIMG_6477 copy

And there was so much more…

The “perfect” gift

I love gift giving!  Very little thrills me more than finding the “perfect” gift. Unfortunately that seems rare. A “perfect” gift is something that says something about the other person. It is something that will be long lasting, at least in the memory. It is a rare and precious. So it doesn’t happen every year with every person on my list.

One person on my list is difficult to buy for. He’s picky and unpredictable about what he would like. He says he doesn’t want anything most of the time, and when he does have a request, it is practical. For example, this year he has asked for this: stihl-fs38-petrol-strimmer-large

 

Not very exciting! It doesn’t say anything about him except that he is tired of cheap trimmers.

So sometimes gift giving is practical, and that’s okay. It’s not a perfect gift, but as I said, perfect gifts are rare. Maybe they come along only a few times in life.

 

 

 

 

When I around ten or eleven, I asked for something very odd – not for Christmas or my birthday. It was something I wanted dearly, so I asked and my daddy gave it to me.  This gift ended up being one of the best gifts I ever received.

It was a hay bale. It was a perfect gift!

haybale

Being one of three sisters sharing a bedroom, I longed for a place of my own. The hay bale served that purpose. It became my retreat, where I did homework, where I dreamed looking up into the expansive sky, where I thought about God, where I cried, and where I wondered about the future.

It was a perfect gift because my daddy didn’t laugh or dismiss my desire as silly or a passing whim. He went out in the field and brought it home, put it down outside the backyard. It was for me. Even as a kid, it meant more to me than just having a hay bale. It meant love and validation – the perfect gift.

 

 

 

Why I run…

Sometimes I have to remember why I run. Many times I wake up and running is the last thing I want to do. Sometimes I even think to myself that I hate running! But, I really do love running. It’s just that first step that is SO hard. Well, sometimes it’s the first steps within the first 10 minutes that are the hardest. So to remind myself of why I run and to get myself vertical in the mornings, here is a list of my running perks that are unrelated to health.

1. I get to eat more pastries. I have a huge weakness for pastries. I LOVE them! So, when I am inclined to not run, I tell myself that I can have pastries if I do. Rewards are not just for kids. I need incentives too. I do try to limit this to the most desperate times when the other points listed below don’t work. But this one is my favorite. 🙂

pastries

2. Races! I love races. I’m not competitive and don’t expect to win, but I love the energy and the camaraderie that you find at races. And when I am signed up for a race, I run more. Saturday I’m running a 10K. Woo Hoo!

half

3. Strength. Being strong and having muscles has never been a goal before I started running, but it is rather thrilling. I love to conquer a hill that I once could only walk up. I love when my husband massages my legs and says, “These are not the same legs that I married.”

 

4. Fun running clothes – bright colors, shirts with silly sayings, and mismatched shorts and shirts.

running shirt

5. Time alone. I do love running alone SO much. I get to think or not think – just running and listening to music. There is one exception to this and that is when my son asks to run with me. I always say yes. How can I say no to a kid who wants to run with his slow moving mom? And he usually makes me laugh. It’s always a good run when he comes with me.

5K alex

 

I don’t remember ever losing sleep or being so disturbed over a “study” before. So let me share it with you. (I read about this in the book called Quiet.)

Apparently a man named, Solomon Asch, conducted experiments regarding group influence between 1951 and 1956. In his study he gave a test to a group of people asking questions about their perception of pictures of lines. Easily 95% of the folks answered all the questions correctly individually. Then he planted people in the group to throw out the same incorrect answers. When that was done, only 25% of the people answered all correctly. A whopping 75% of the group went along with the wrong answer to at least one question. Why??? Why would people who can think, who know their right from their left, who have all their senses choose obvious wrong answers?

Well, for years they didn’t know the Why. Then a neuroscientist, Gregory Berns, did another similar study. On their own, individuals answered only 13.8% wrong answers, but when answering as a group, they agreed with the wrong answers 41% of the time. But Berns also wanted to know why people so easily conformed. Using an fMRI scanner he found that people’s actual perception of the problem was changed by the group. They just didn’t say to themselves, “I’m just going to go with the flow even though I know it’s wrong.” Their belief in what they saw changed! That is just amazing and frightening to me.

So I’ve been thinking, this is how all the the atrocities in history happened and continue to happen. The crucifixion of Jesus, the witch trials, the Holocaust, and so on. What is so clearly wrong is thought right.

We probably think we are above believing it is okay to kill innocent people, but our minds are altered by our culture nonetheless and the innocent still die. People are swept away by what our culture says is right, what is cool, what is smart. We don’t seem to have a foundation anymore. Even Christians are putting aside what the Bible clearly states as wrong and deciding that there are exceptions. Homosexuality is condemned in the Bible and because a person’s daughter or son is homosexual, their perception of it changes. “It’s okay. Maybe it was wrong then but not now.” The Bible says God created the world and made man in his image. Yet, we dismiss this by entertaining ideas and theories contrary to God’s word because it seems smarter to us. Life is precious and to be protected, but if it is inconvenient then our law says it is okay to get rid of it.

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We think we are progressing in our thoughts, we are cool, we are more enlightened than our grand parents, but we are a group of lost sheep, following  what could cost us our soul and our lives. We must choose the right answers despite the group and despite the pain. But I wonder if we know what the right answers are. Has our perception so altered that we can’t see what is right? The Bible says men will call evil good, and good evil. And that’s is where we are. Seems hopeless.

But thankfully it is not because we have a God who loves us, who calls us to repentance, who covers our sin by his son’s sacrifice and makes us his children. My prayer is that God will open our eyes to our wrongs and give us courage to do and believe what is right and good.