Friday, January 28, 2011

Manilow Concert


Wednesday night, one of my dreams came true.  I got to go see Barry Manilow live in concert.  Loved it!  Our seats were pretty far away but I didn't care.  It was just so cool to see him perform live.  His opening act was kinda lame.  He was the creator of the TV show "The Mentalist."  His tricks were cool, but after growing up going to all the David Copperfield shows, it was all stuff I had seen before.  He was kinda crude too so that didn't help.
Me and my brother, Dean.  Forgive the nostril shot!
Then, you see the orchestra dance out and take their seats then start playing a medley of Manilow hits and I got so excited!  The next thing you know, Barry is on the stage amid the lights and music and it was great!  He sang pretty much all his big hits, "Mandy,"  Can't Smile Without You," "Looks Like We Made It," "I Write the Songs," "Copacabana," and ended the night with my personal favorite, "One Voice." 

Live on stage (yes, that white speck is him).

That song brings back some awesome memories for me.  At my high school, Douglas Anderson, we put on a show every year called Extravaganza.  It's kind of a showcase of the best of the best from each arts area.  My sophomore year they celebrated the tenth anniversary of Extravaganza so they wanted to do something special to commemorate the occasion.  Each year they do a big finale and the first year they sang "One Voice."  So, they decided to revisit it for the tenth anniversary.  In case you haven't heard the song, it starts out with one accapella voice, then steadily grows with voices and instruments as the song goes.  The song talks about the power of one person speaking out because if one person speaks, then others join.  Go listen to it on iTunes if you've never heard it.  It's great!  Anyway, the performance at DA started with one guy all alone on the stage back lit with a spotlight so you only saw his silhouette.  He was then joined by an ensemble, then the orchestra pit ascended, carrying a group of about 100 singers, of which I was one, right in the front row.  It was just a really cool effect.

I can't believe what a smooth voice he still has at the age of 68.  Beautiful!
So back to Wednesday night.  The concert was coming to a close and he has already done 2 encore numbers. I was starting to worry.  He came back out and said he had one more song.  I looked at my brother Dean and said, "I really hope it's One Voice.  I really want to hear it live."  He begins to tell a story of how one night he got up in the middle of the night and recorded a melody in his sleep.  He woke up the next morning and pushed play and he heard the melody.  He immediately started to sing, "One Voice, singing in the darkness.  All it takes is one voice singing so they hear what's on your mind and when you look around you'll find there's more than One Voice..."  I looked at Dean, hit him on the arm multiple times and jumped up and down.  He was singing my song!

Anyway, one of my dreams has come true.  :)  I sat in the concert and literally said, "Thank you, God that I have the opportunity to fulfill one of my silly dreams."  I am so thankful that my God cares about my silly little desires and give opportunities for them to happen.  How great is our God!

"When October Goes"

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Yes....I'm a Fanilow!

Okay, so I have been awaiting tonight for many months.  Back in September or October, I happened to go to, which I rarely ever do, and saw a banner for an upcoming concert.  It said tickets went on sale the next day and I literally jumped out of my chair and did a little dance.  You see, I LOVE Barry Manilow!  Ever since I was a little girl, I have loved his music.  The stories, the melodies, etc.  I love it all.  Some of my favorite memories are family sing-alongs in the car on long road trips.  The Lettermen, Barry, Garth Brooks, and the Cathedrals are only a few of our favorites.  I think I learned the words to Copacabana around the same age I learned "Amazing Grace."  Okay, well probably not but it was pretty close.

Soon after Dan and I got married, he became the MS youth pastor at our church.  About 3-4 months after that, I learned Barry would be in Jacksonville.  I am sure I did the little dance of joy that time as well but, there was a problem.  He was scheduled to come on the same Friday night as our middle school Guys and Girls retreats.  This was a huge problem.  I couldn't miss the retreat.  I had promised I would go, and even if I hadn't, I didn't have anyone to go with.  Dan would NEVER have missed the retreat, especially for a Barry Manilow concert.  You see, Dan does not share my love of all things Manilow.  He tolerates him for my sake but would never choose to listen to his music. 

So, back to a couple months ago.  After I saw the ad and did my little dance, I sat back down and immediately sent an email to my mom, Dan, and my sister-in-love, Tiffany.  My idea (actually more of a command) was for them to buy my brother and I tickets for Christmas and we would go together.  I mentioned before Dan is not a huge fan, but even less of a fan is Tiffany.  She hates him with every fiber of her being (well that may be a bit of an exaggeration, but not much).  So, this would save Dan and Tiff both from having to go.

Thankfully, they heeded my advice and bought us tickets and tonight is the night!!  I am super excited!  It is the first time I'm getting to see him live and from what I hear, he puts on a good show.  I am going to try to take lots of pictures (if they let us) and I'll post some tomorrow.  I AM SO EXCITED!!!!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Multitude Monday

So after my Thankful Tuesday last week, my friend Jill told me about Multitude Monday on a blog called A Holy Experience.  It is by a lady named Ann Voscamp.  She wrote a book called, "One Thousand Gifts."  I have not read it but I like the concept.  She talks about finding the everyday blessing of God and His grace through being thankful.  You can read the first chapter here. So, I am jumping on the bandwagon and adding to my list of blessings from the Lord.

25.  My Sunday school girls who listen, love me, and challenge me to look deeper into scripture.
26.  Diet coke with dark cherry syrup from Starbucks.  :)
27.  Quiet moments with Caroline after Dan and Katelyn have left for school and work.
28.  Time I get to hang out with Katelyn by herself.  Taking her to get her haircut last week was so sweet!  We just talked and giggled.  It was so much fun! 
29.  Pastor's Conference at FBC.
30.  Meeting and spending time with pastors, pastor's wives, and lay people from all the country (and even the world) and being able to encourage them and love on them.
31.  Being a part of corporate worship with a large group of men and women who have dedicated their lives to serving Christ.  It's electric!
31.  My husband and the ability he has to speak to parents and convey his love for them and their students.
32.  The time and effort he puts into preparing anytime he speaks.
33.  The way he constantly pushes himself to be a better youth pastor.
34.  The way he leads our family in every aspect of our lives (spiritually, financially, etc.)
35.  Our pastor, Dr. Brunson, for seeing the importance of tradition but not letting that hold him to past. 
36.  For Dr. Brunson pursuing Christ and His vision for our church, even when faced with criticism and indifference.
37.  Digital thermometers
38.  Magnetic dinner planners that go on the fridge
39.  Chips Ahoy Chunky cookies.
40.  Groupons for The Dreamette
41.  Large desk calenders that keep our lives some-what organized
42.  Dishwashers, though I realy wish they would invent one that unloads itself for you.
43.  The Married to Ministry blog roll.  It's nice to know you're not alone out there!
44.  Yahtzee app on Dan's iPhone.
45.  Little kid's birthday parties.  I don't know why, but I love them!
46.  My parents gave us Disney World tickets!  Can't wait to use them and take the girls!
47.  Lunches at PF Changs with my parents.  Yummy Honey Chicken with egg drop soup!
48.  Watching my daughters eat a banana.  they each have their own way they do it.  It's too funny!
49.  Seeing Katelyn and Caroline get so excited about going to the library to pick out a book.  Babie for Katelyn and Barney for Caroline.
50.  Grocery stores.  It's nice to be able to go to one place and get all the food items I need (and other things as well).  How convenient. 

I always feel somewhat random with my lists, but that's okay I guess.  God has blessed me in so many ways!  How about you?  How has God blessed you this week?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Thankful Tuesdays

I've been inspired by my friend Jill to take the time to list some things I'm thankful.  She calls it Multitude Monday (which I believe she got from somewhere else, but who knows?).  She is taking time to list 1,000 things she's thankful for.  Growing up, my pastor, Dr. Lindsay Jr., challenged us every year to make a list of 100 things you're thankful for.  I don't know if I ever did it as kid, but I have as an adult.  When I journaled in college, I always took the time to list 5 things I was thankful for each day.  It's cool to look back and see what they were.  So, I am stepping up to the challenge.  I always want to thank God for even the small blessings in my life!  Who's going to join me?

1.  Time to spend with just Dan and the girls
2.  My daughter's laughter
3.  Massages  :)
4. Pedicures and cute toes (which I do not have right now!)
5. Date nights with my wonderful hubby
6. Cuddling on the couch with my whole family, feet in my face and all
7. Sunday night dinner with friends after church
8. Emperor's Bride tea from The Tea Room in Savannah
9.Extra-firm, yet soft pillows
10. Time to be by myself to read
11. Mom 2 Mom group discussion time
12. Comfy yoga pants
13. Hoodies
14. Disney vacations
15. Times when Katelyn gets excited about the Disney Village, thinking it's just as great as Disney World itself. 
16. Hearing, "I love you"
17. Victoria Secret Love Spell lotion
18. Amish Friendship Bread
19. Romantic Comedies (especially ones with Julia Roberts)
20. Watching Survivor and then discussing strategy
21. Starbucks Caramel Apple Spice with whipped cream and caramel sauce.  Yummy!
22. Karen Kingsbury books
23. Tape: scotch, making, packing, duct, etc (Have you ever thought about what life was like before tape?)
24. My new sewing machine and the fact that I actually figured out how to thread it!
25. The Generous Giving seminar this past Saturday.  Tim Keller rocked my world!

Now, what about you?

Monday, January 17, 2011

Happy Birthday Caroline

Dear Caroline,

How time flies!  It seems like just yesterday we were headed to the hospital to meet you for the first time!  It was an exciting night and it's been exciting ever since!  You are so full of life and excitement.  It's such a wonder to look at the world through your eyes.   You have such a cute smile and it lights up the room!

Right now, you are totally in love with Barney!  Who knew that a little person could love a big purple dinosaur as much as you do.  You love to sing along and dance.  My favorite is when you shake your booty!  :)  You ask for Barney as soon as you wake up and always when we eat lunch. 

You are saying all sorts of fun things now too!  Mama and Daddy are still your favorite words with Sissy right behind it.  You say "up" whether you want up or down.  :)  You love juice and get really annoyed when Mommy tries to give you water or milk instead.  You love hot dogs, mac n cheese, shrimp and ice cream.  Chick-fil-a is your favorite restaurant.  You ate clams for the first time this weekend and loves them (though it made Mommy a little sick to my stomach).  You love to dance, sing (especially in the car), and play in your playhouse in the back yard.  You're trying to figure out the whole trampoline thing too.  You're not quite sure how you feel about it.  You still cry every time Mommy or Daddy drops you off in the nursery at church but you're always grinning ear to ear when we pick you up.

Mommy cannot believe what a big girl you have become.  It seems like you grew up overnight!  I love you and can't wait to celebrate many more birthdays with you!  Mommy, Daddy, and Sissy love you very much!!

Saturday, January 15, 2011


This morning our church had a leadership breakfast and our foundation brought in a guy named Dan from an organization called Generous Giving to speak to us about generosity.  I was looking forward to the free breakfast and a time to talk to some friends, but boy did I get so much more.

I have always thought of myself as a giver.  I always score high on the giving section of the spiritual gifts test, I have always tithed, I give my time at church, we consistently give to the building fund at church, etc.  I know I have selfish tendencies, as do most of us, but I almost took pride in the fact that I love to give.  This meeting challenged everything I had thought about myself in regards to giving and being generous.

First off, one of the things I heard was you can be a giver without being generous.  How many times have we given someone a dollar, not because they need it, but because of how it makes us feel and look to other people?  How many times have I volunteered for something at church so people will say nice things about me?Being generous is more than the action of giving.  It goes much deeper than that. It's a heart issue and a true desire to meet a need without looking for anything in return.

The last few verses of Acts 20 is Paul's closing statement to the church of Ephesus and the main things he wants to get across are to 1.) Believe the Gospel and 2.) Live radically generous lives.  On one of the videos, Tim Keller, links those two and says the are inseparable.  If you believe the Gospel, you will give.  Giving is at the heart of the Gospel.  "For God so loved the world that He GAVE..."

The thing that impacted me the most was when Tim was talking about treasures and how we make them idols in our lives.  We will do anything to obtain or hold on to those things we treasure.  The end up enslaving us.  He said, "Every other treasure will enslave you, but Jesus.  Jesus did everything to purchase you yet every other treasure expects you to lay down your life for it"  We are more valuable to Jesus than His glory because He gave it up for us when He came to earth.  We are more valuable to Him than His life, His comfort, His power, etc because He gave it ALL up for us on the cross.  He even gave up the relationship with God the Father.  I had NEVER thought like this before.  When I put something in front of my love for Christ, I am slapping Him in the face.  What a thought!  Then I think of all Christ gave up for me and then I thinkabout what I'm unwilling to give up for Him.

While watching that certain video of Tim Keller sharing all this, God spoke right to my heart in such a clear way.  He told me you take pride in not needing "stuff" but you are holding so tight to you comfort that there is no way you can be holding onto Me too.  WHAT?!  Comfort as my treasure, my idol?  The thought had never crossed my mind before but as I've thought about it today...a is so true!  What keeps me from sharing my faith and living out the Gospel to those around me?  Stepping out of that comfort zone of friends and church is scary!  What keeps me from being generous with my time?  It might inconvenience me or make me miss something I really enjoying doing.  What keep me from being generous with my money?  Fear that a comfort item or items will be taken away.  Fear that I may have to give up something for someone else.  It is like God has hit me with a Mac truck!

Now, I don't know what all this will look like in my life, but it's a starting point for me.  I know I have never regretted giving money or time to the church or friends or family, but I want to be one who is GENEROUS with my life.  I don't want to hold so tight to my comforts that I miss out on being an instrument of blessing from God to someone else!  Dan made a statement that stuck with me and it's, "God gives seed to the sower."  God is looking for those who are already busy working.  I want to be that person God blesses so I can turn bless someone else.  Pray with me as I seek what this looks like in my life and the life of my family!  I pray you all will be a generous people as well.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Pizza Night

Well, we Elkins love pizza! Ham and Pineapple pizza to be exact. Dan and I have a tradition that whenever we move into a new home, we order a Ham and pineapple thin crust pizza as our first meal in that new home. Katelyn has continued the tradition of loving this pizza, but she is fine leaving out the ham. She just wants the pineapple, and the pineapple of mine, and daddy's get the picture. She loves pineapple pizza! Caroline doesn't really care what's on it, she just loves it. With that being said, we decided we were going to make our own pizzas.

I bought some dough (not quite ready to make my own yet) and english muffins and all the fixings. We all had a blast making the pizzas and even more fun eating them! Here's some pictures of the process and final results.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

A New Dinner

I will preface this entry with saying I am not the best cook. I don't really like to cook all that much so I am always looking for quick, easy meals to fix for my family. To help me save money when I go to the grocery sore, I have been trying to plan out our weekly meals and buy only what we need (plus some lunch stuff, a few snacks, etc). Some days I do really well and others...not so much. I found this website on facebook on a thread one of my friends started and it's pretty neat! It has menus and recipes for each day of the month. I know they have January and February up but I haven't looked much farther. I tend to get into a rut with the meals I plan so I was looking for a little variety. I have not used their exact meal plan but I have definitely taken some of their meals and made them, or tweaked them to where my family would like them.

Todays dinner, Chicken Stuffing Casserole was straight from the website. It was super easy and my family loved it! Caroline ate all hers and asked for more and Katelyn, who we normally have to coerce, ate all of hers without us having to say anything to her! That constitutes a success in my book! So, in case you are interested, here is the recipe:

Chicken Stuffing Casserole
by Karen Barton
serves: 8

1 lb cooked and shredded chicken
2 box stuffing
2 cans cream celery
1 c milk
2 cans corn
2 cups shredded cheese

Prepare stuffing and set aside. Mix soup and milk together. Spread stuffing in pan; layer chicken, corn, soup mixture. Top with cheese. Bake 350 for 40 minutes.

I actually cut the recipe in half, put in an 9x9 pan and baked for 30 minutes and it worked great! I added a salad for the adults and we were set. I hope you guys will enjoy it as much as my family did!

Friday, January 7, 2011


If you know me at all, you know I love to read! Reading is kind of my escape. I like to read mostly Christian fiction, though I do enjoy Danielle Steele, Nicholas Sparks, and a few others. I don't want to have to think a lot when I read, so I don't read a lot of non-fiction. I should probably read more that challenges me to live a better life and to be closer to God but I'm just not that kind of reader. Maybe one day though! :)

I actually have quite a few people ask me for advice when they are looking for a new book to read. I am so thankful that our church has a pretty nice size library and that I'm able to check out many books. Over the years, I have had the opportunity to read many books by many different authors and a few have really stuck out to me. So, here's a few of my recommendations:

1. Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers; This book is AMAZING! It is the first book I always share with people. I have given this book to many people as gifts and I always get the same reaction, they LOVE it! It is the story of Hosea and Gomer and the love God has for us. Amazing read! If you never read another book, PLEASE read this.

2. Divine by Karen Kingsbury; Another one of my favorite books. It is a modern day story of Mary Magdalene. I was crying by chapter 3. It's heart breaking but will change how you see trials in your life.

3. Unveiled by Francine Rivers; This is the first book in a series by Rivers of 5 women in the Bible (Tamar, Mary, Rahab, Bathsheba, and Ruth). It is based on scripture but it's important to understand it is not scripture. Rivers uses all the facts that scripture gives along with historical facts, but puts her thought in the stories. She takes you inside the minds of these women and what they may have thought and felt. Makes you think!

4. After Anne by Roxanne Henke; This is the first of 5 in a series of different women who are all connected in some way. I love the way these books are written as each chapter is written from a different character's perspective. It jumps around so it keeps you interested. It's cool to see the same situation played out in different people's perspective.

5. You Can Still Wear Cute Shoes by Lisa McKay; Now this book is a non-fiction book but reads so easily! It is written by the wife of a pastor for pastor's wives but I think any lay woman would glean lots of wisdom from it as well. She talks about many of the problems and issues many women face but coming at it from the pastor's wife perspective. Loved it!

Well, hopefully this will be a help to you as you choose a new book to read. Many public libraries carry a christian fiction section and you can download many of these books at amazon or another website where you can read them on your computer. Our public library now has it where you can "check out" digital copies of book for 2 weeks. Haven't tried it yet but it sounds cool! Happy Reading!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The New Year

Don't faint!! I'm writing a second blog update in the same number of days. I know! Shocking! But, I actually have a lot I want to share so there might be another one tomorrow! Who know?!

I'm not usually a big resolution maker because the way I see it, I'll have already broken it by the end of January so why bother! I do try to set goals for myself though (probably the same thing as a resolution, but it's not as daunting sounding). :) I thought I would share a few of them with you. I'd love to hear what your goals for this year are.

1. Fall in love with my house. I know, it sounds somewhat strange. When we moved into our house, I was not real excited about it. I was happy to be out of the condo and not be attached to neighbors who yelled at their kids to get up every morning, but the house itself was not what I was hoping for. We bought at the peak of the market so houses were selling as soon as they came on the market so we had to move fast. That being said, we closed at the end of August and moved in mid-September '05.

God has been showing me a lot lately how much I complain! Dan even told me yesterday, "You're never happy with the temperature!" I said, "I am. Just only when I'm not complaing about it." So, God has been pretty much smacking me around about it. So, I want to stop and first on my list is my house. God blessed us with our home and I want to see it as such. We have been able to pay our mortgage, keep it heated and cooled, buy furniture, etc. It's not perfect, but so what! I want to spend more energy loving it and being thankful for it than complaining about it. I've actually started working on my kitchen to spruce it up a little bit. We have one coat of paint on the walls so far and I'm making curtains for the window in this really great fabric I found! I even bought a new light for the room as well (all for less than $60). :) So, I'm going to take more pride in my home and fall in love with it!

2. I want to be more careful with my spending. I know I just said I spent money on the kitchen but it's all Christmas gift money so that doesn't count! :) I am an impulse buyer. I walk into a store, see something and buy it. Now, I never spend a lot, but I spend nonetheless. Ten dollars here and ten dollars there can really add up. I do what I can to save when grocery shopping so this is one more way I can "add" to the family budget.

3. I want to fall in love with Scripture again. My greatest struggle in the Christian walk has always been having a consistent time with the Lord. I can look back and see the times I was most content and happiest were the times I was spending time with God each day. So, I want to get back there. Right now, I am doing a workbook entitled 30 Days in the Psalms. There's no commentary, just some questions to get me thinking about what the writer was saying and how I can apply it to my life. So far, God has been faithful to meet me right where I'm at. I am surprised at how many of the Psalms deal with contentment in Christ alone. God is showing me that He is all I need and when times get tough, He is faithful! How cool!

So, those are a few of my thoughts. What are some things you're going to work on this year?

Monday, January 3, 2011

Happy New Year

It's a new year so I decided the blog needed a face lift, along with a little more content. I started this blog really as a way for me to remember life as it happened. I wanted to be able to look back and see what REALLY went on. As you can tell by scrolling down the blog, I have not been very good at it. Hopefully, this will change this year.

Since I am so far behind, let me hit the high notes of the past 7 months.

-Camp Atlanta was awesome! Stayed at FBC Woodstock in the corner crypt with the lovely Sherri Parmer. My girls were awwwwwesome! Got to minister at a women's shelter called My Sister's House. We had much fun playing at Whitewater, Six Flag's water park. Sorry to the many ladies who rafts got flipped, etc. It was all in good fun! The best part tough was getting to lead one of my sweet girls, Courtney, to the Lord! Our SS class had been praying for her for a couple of years so it was a hug answer to prayer and how awesome was it that God used me?! Totally blessed!

-In Auguest we went on the 3rd annual Elkins family vacation. This year we went up to Pigeon Forge/Gatlinburg area. It was so much fun! We stayed in a beautiful cabin with Dan's parents and his brother and his family. The highlights were Dollywood (can I say their waterpark is AWESOME!!), Ripley's Aquarium, and just hanging out with the family. We had some really great ice cream one night too!

-Katelyn turned 4 on August 19th. We had a ballet party with 6 of her friends. We decorated picture frames, jumped in Papa's bouncy house, ate awesome cupcakes, decorated by moi, and just had fun! I love seeing Katelyn with her friends! They are sweet group of girls!

-Katelyn started school this year. She is in Pre-K at FBCJA. She LOVES going to school. She looks so grown up in her little uniforms! She has great teachers and administrators and we are so blessed that she can be in school there. She and Daddy share special Daddy/Daughter times in the car on the way to school and then Mommy and Sissy pick her up. It works out great!

-Halloween was fun! Katelyn was Angelina Ballerina and Caroline was a lady bug. They were adorable! We went to a fall festival with the Nocks (Katelyn's best friend's family) and the Harmons and had so much!

-Thanksgiving was a blast! ALL of Dan's family (all 4 generations) gathered at his parents house for Thanksgiving/Christmas. The kids had their own little table and did pretty well overall. The kids (and us) got spoiled rotten with all the presents. We had a great time but by the end of the week, I think everyone was ready to be back to normal routines and homes.

-Christmas was spent with the Spurlin clan this year. My brother and his family were able to come down for 4 days so that was great! It had been over a year sonce the siblings had seen each other. We actually had an opportunity to have an all adult dinner (thanks Sarah and Emily!) It was nice to spend time with my parents and my brother at J. Alexanders. Katelyn and Caroline got a trampoline from Nana and Grandpa so that was a HUGE hit. All the cousins came over and jumped around one morning and loved it. There are going to be lots of fun times on that trampoline. I can already tell. :)

-Dan had his annual New Years Discipleship trip this year. He took 105 middle schoolers and adults to Miami to work with 3 different churches. They put on block parties, handed out invite cards, put door knockers on doors and pretty much worked ALL day long telling people about Jesus and living out their faith. From what I've heard, it was a GREAT trip that the kids won't soon forget. Me and the girls stayed behind at Hotel de Spurlin. Elias and Brannon had a sleepover on New Years Eve and then we had our traditional lunch of jowl, black eyed peas, rice, and greens. I didn't partake of the greens or peas but it was good nonetheless.

So, I guess that brings us to the present. God has been teaching me and showing me some things that I will share in a later post but I'm excited for this year holds. I hope your 2011 is even more blessed than your 2010!