Saturday, July 31, 2010

Love is faithful

“As Christians, love is the basis for our whole identity. Our spiritual rebirth came about because “God so loved the world…” [God] showers His favor on us without measure, though in return we often don’t pay attention. A times we have acted shamefully and deemed His love an intrusion, as if it’s keeping us from what we really want. We have rejected Him in many ways – even after receiving His gift of eternal salvation – and yet He still loves us. He still remains faithful. If love is to be like His, it must love even when its overtures are returned unwanted. And for your love to be like that, it must be His love to begin with. You can give undeserved love to your spouse because God gave undeserved love to you – repeatedly, enduringly. Love is often expressed the most to those who deserve it the least. Ask Him to fill you with the kind of love only He can provide, then purpose to give it to your mate in a way that reflects your gratefulness to God for loving you. That’s the beauty of redeeming love. That’s the power of faithfulness.”

Today’s Dare: Love is a choice, not a feeling. It is an initiated action, not a knee-jerk reaction. Choose today to be committed to love even if your spouse has lost most of their interest in receiving it. Say to them today, in words similar to these, “I love you. Period. I choose to love you even if you don’t love me in return.”

Before Steve and I get married, we made the decision that we would love one another no matter what. Neither of us is turning our back on the other. There is nothing that Steve could do that would make me leave him or end our marriage. And I believe that this is returned. As a result, neither of us would ever do anything to hurt the other so badly that we would want to end our marriage.

Steven, I love you, forever, for always, no matter what. I love you with all that I am and all that I ever will be. I love you. Period.


Amy, I love you more than anything. You are the best thing that has ever happened to me. I appreciate you more than you could know!


Friday, July 30, 2010

Spaghetti = Yummy!!




An Evening In

As reported yesterday, we got ready to head out to the splash park as soon as Steve and Mike got back from work.  We were loaded up walking out the door when we realized that it was storming – heavy rain, lightening, thunder, the works.  Hence no splash park for us.

We decided to have a picnic in the living room.  The guys went to pick up Zaxby’s chicken.  It was a first for all of us.  The chicken was great and so were the fried white cheddar bites.  The fried pickles were nasty – all you could taste was grease.  None of us liked those.  The fries were decent; they at least had a good seasoning.  But the picnic was fun!!

With the kids in their jammies, we played until their bedtime; then we watched The Bounty Hunter.  It was a good movie.  The guys liked the action; and, of course, there was a bit of a romance running through it that kept us girls entertained.  I could have done without some of the language in it; but overall, we all liked it.

Picnicing with Mike, Parker and Tammy011

Our babies are so sweet!002


The kids were playing with wipes.  Claire pretended to blow her nose.  I don’t even know where she learned to do this, but it was cute!010

Saying goodbye.  Until next time, sweet friends…015

Thursday, July 29, 2010

At The Peabody With Parker

Our friends Mike and Tammy and their son, Parker, are visiting us from Houston.  Mike and Steve are working today, but Tammy and I took the kids to The Peabody for the Duck March this morning.

The Duckmaster003

I finally got my own video of the Duck March.  We had front row seats right on the red carpet!!

Claire and Parker checking out the ducks008.2



Claire and Parker kept hugging one another.  Here’s Claire sneaking in another hug.  These two are so sweet!015.2

Both kids are enjoying afternoon naps.  After Mike and Steve get off of work, we’re taking the kids to the Splash Park for a picnic.  Pictures to follow.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Love is satisfied in God

“You need God every single day.  This is not a part-time proposition.  He alone can satisfy, even when all else fails you.  Every day you place expectations on your spouse.  Sometimes they meet them.  Sometimes they don’t.  But never will they be able to totally satisfy all the demands you ask of them – partly because some of your demands are unreasonable, partly because your mate is human.  God, however, is not.  And those who approach Him in utter dependence each day for the real needs in their life are the ones who find out just how dependable He is.  It’s time to stop expecting somebody or something else to keep you functioning and fulfilled on a non-stop basis.  Only God can do that as you learn to depend on Him.  He’s the only One in your life that can never change.  His faithfulness, His truth and His promises to His children will always remain.  That’s why you need to seek Him every day.  God is your everyday supply.  Of everything you need.”

Today’s Dare:  Be intentional today about making a time to pray and read your Bible.  Try reading a chapter out of Proverbs each day (there are 31 – a full month’s supply) or reading a chapter of the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John).  As you do, immerse yourself in the love and promises God has for you.  This will add to your growth as you walk with Him.

As I was growing up, my dad was self-employed and was the one who got up and made breakfast, packed lunches and helped all of us get out the door before he headed off to work.  While we sat down to eat breakfast each morning, my dad read us a chapter from Proverbs.  Then, just as we were heading out the door, he would have us put on the armor of God and would pray over us for the day.  He taught us to trust God for friendships, for help with a test, for healing, for favor, etc.  Dad made God very real to us.  He made sure that we knew that God was there with us and for us every day.  We could trust Him for anything and everything.

My dad was instilling wisdom into our hearts and minds.  He endeavored to teach us everything he could about how to live Godly lives.  My parents now have three children and three children-in-law who love God and strive to obey His commandments.  They have four beautiful granddaughters who are being raised by Christian parents and who are learning about the love and faithfulness of God.

God’s Word does make a difference in your life.  Reading from Proverbs every day does help you to grow in wisdom.  Reading the Gospels does give you insight into the heart and character of God.  In the Book of John, John called himself “the one Jesus loves.”  Jesus loved all of His disciples, but John understood the heart of the Savior.  He understood how much Jesus loves us, and he writes about that love in the Book of John.  I would encourage all of our blog readers to study the Book of John until you, too, understand that you are Jesus’ favorite.

Steve and I are teaching Claire about God every day.  We read to her from her devotional.  We pray together before meals.  We pray together at bedtime.  We pray for her if she gets hurt, etc.  God is as much a part of our lives and daily discussion as anything or any one else.  Steve and I are endeavoring to teach Claire to honor God, to trust God, to be thankful, to be dependent on Him.

As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord!!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

It’s All About Claire


Claire has started feeding herself.  It makes for some messy meals and some very funny pictures.

Here’s what happens when Daddy lets Claire feed herself:038


Actually, he just let her feed herself with a spoon from her yogurt cup.  But as soon as he turned his back, she tossed the spoon and slurped from the cup making a huge (but adorable) mess.

This is how Mommy lets Claire feed herself (with a plate and spoon):045



Claire has been doing well feeding herself.  Steve and I are quite amazed that she has developed so many skills so quickly as of late.

Here are some pictures from our evening walkabout:056


067069 073

My loves:081


We’re having the time of our lives!100

Monday, July 26, 2010

Love is Jesus Christ

“Everything you’ve failed at and haven’t been able to do, every minute you’ve wasted trying to fix things your own way—all of it can be forgiven and made right by putting your life into the hands of the One who first gave it to you.  And when you have received this new life and love as your own, you are free to love in ways you’ve never been capable before.  [Jesus] was willing to love you even though you didn’t deserve it, even when you didn’t love back.  He was able to see all your flaws and imperfections and still choose to love you.  His love made the great sacrifice to meet your greatest need.  As a result, you are able (by His grace) to walk in the fullness and blessing of His love.  Now and forever.  This means you now share this same love with your spouse.  You can love even when you’re not loved in return.  You can see all their flaws and imperfections and still choose to love.  True love is found in Christ alone.  And after you have received His gift of new life by accepting His death in your place and His forgiveness for your sins, you are finally ready to live the dare.”

Today’s Dare:  Dare to take God at His Word.  Dare to trust Jesus Christ for salvation.  Dare to pray, “Lord Jesus, I’m a sinner.  But You have shown Your love for me by dying to forgive my sins, and You have proven Your power to save me from death by Your resurrection.  Lord, change my heart, and save me by Your grace.”

Steve and I are in awe of the love Jesus has for us.  We have completed this dare by renewing our commitments to receive and express His love.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Love is impossible

“You cannot manufacture unconditional love (agape love) out of your own heart.  It’s impossible.  You may have demonstrated kindness and unselfishness in some form, and you may have learned to be more thoughtful and considerate.  But sincerely loving someone unselfishly and unconditionally is another matter altogether.  You may be convinced that with enough hard work and commitment, you can muster up unconditional, long-term, sacrificial love from your own heart.  You want to believe it’s in you.  But how many times has your love failed to keep you from lying, from lusting, from overreacting, from thinking evil of this person you’ve vowed before God to love for the rest of your life?  It’s this failure that exposes mankind’s sinful condition.  If you’re not right with God, you can’t truly love your spouse because He is the Source of that love.  You simply won’t be able to do it without Him.  The truth is, you can’t live without Him and you can’t love without Him.  But there is no telling what He could do in your marriage if you put your trust in Him.”

Today’s Dare:  Look back over the dares from previous days.  Were there some that seemed impossible to you?  Have you realized your need for God to change your heart and to give you the ability to love?  Ask Him to show you where you stand with Him, and ask for the strength and grace to settle your eternal destination.

Again, Steve and I discussed this dare and how it relates to us and to our relationship.  We have long before settled our eternal destinations, and we know without a shadow of doubt that we are going to live together in Heaven with our Lord Jesus.  We hope that you are able to confidently say the same.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Happy Birthday to Me!

Today was a fabulous day!  It started with a breakfast of chocolate chip pancakes.  Steve made them just the way I like them.  Yummy!

Claire brought me a birthday card this morning.  So sweet!

Then we got ready and went to the Peabody Hotel to watch the Duck Walk.  It was so much fun!  Claire loved it!  We even got splashed by the ducks while they were swimming in the fountain!  Then we went on the roof to see the Duck Palace.  We had a great view of downtown from up there.  So cool!








Next we walked to Beale Street.  It was fun.  Our favorite place on Beale Street was A. Schwab’s.  It was interesting to see the old things there.


After that we decided to go to Cheeburger Cheeburger for lunch.  We had yummy burgers, frings and a double chocolate shake.  De-lish!

A nap was in order after such a busy morning, so we headed back to the apartment.  We had some family play time when Claire woke up, then we were off again.

Next stop – the splash park!  We had a blast!  Now that Claire is walking, she is very independent and loves running around with the big kids.

All of this playing wore Claire out, and she is now in bed sleeping.  Steve and I are enjoying a relaxing evening in front of the TV, watching mindless silliness while playing on our computers.

Today has been a perfect day!  Tomorrow promises more wonderful birthday celebrations!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Love seeks to understand

“We enjoy discovering as much as we can about the things we truly care about.  [From our favorite football team to cooking or a subject that appeals to us], we’ll take notice.  But this is where love would ask, ‘How much do you know about your mate?’  Consider the following perspective: if the amount you studied your spouse before marriage were equal to a high school diploma, then you should continue to learn about your mate until you gain a ‘college degree,’ a ‘master’s degree’ and ultimately a ‘doctorate degree.’  Think of it as a lifelong journey that draws your heart ever closer to your mate.  Study them.  Ask questions.  Listen.  Ask God for discernment.  Enter the mystery with expectation and enthusiasm.  Desire to know this person even better than you do now.  Make him or her your chosen field of study, and you will fill your home with the kind of riches only love can provide.”

Today’s Dare:  Prepare a special dinner at home, just for the two of you.  The dinner can be as nice as you prefer.  Focus this time on getting to know your spouse better, perhaps in areas you’ve rarely talked about.  Determine to make it an enjoyable evening for you and your mate.

Steve and I did not complete this dare over dinner.  Instead, we waited until Claire went to bed and then discussed some of the questions that were offered in this chapter.  We also discussed a few other things.  We learned a lot about each other and actually knew each other better than either of us realized.

One of the questions was “How does your spouse prefer to give and receive love?”  Just knowing the answer to this helps you to feel more loved.  Knowing that Steve views certain things as acts of love (both on the giving and receiving end) helps me to see them as that too.

Steve is an amazing man, and I’m so glad that God brought him into my life.  I am honored to have a husband who loves me and desires to make my life as stress-free and perfect as he can.  I am so blessed!

Monday, July 19, 2010


I'm still trying to figure out my new photo editing software, but here's a pic of our girl enjoying an ice cream cone at the birthday party. Hopefully this will hold you over until I can work on some more.

Birthday Week

This week is turning out to be quite surprising, so I'll have to post in several parts.

The weekend before last, Steve, Claire and I flew to Tulsa to celebrate the July birthdays in my family. We have four - my Mom's, Shannon's, Aunt Fran's and mine. So much fun! I'll post pictures from the party in another post since most of the pictures from the party were taken with my new birthday present:
This is the Samsung TL220. This thing is so crazy! It takes pictures and movies and lets you edit them right on the camera. It has the front view screen so that you can see yourself when taking a self-portrait. It also gets Claire's attention easily. And it's fast - fast enough to capture Claire. It has really cool features too. For example, you can set it to take a picture only when everyone's eyes are open. (My dad's eyes are very sensitive to light. He has his eyes closed in most pictures. But we tried taking his picture with his eyes closed and couldn't do it. This thing is smart!) The videos it takes are amazing too. And it's all controlled by a touch screen with a series of menus, much like an iPhone. It's cooler than cool!

I'm still learning to use this new toy of mine. As soon as I figure it out, I'll post some new pics. Hopefully that will happen today or tomorrow.

Also, yesterday Steve and Claire bought me a new laptop! I love it! It's so fast and easy to use! It can handle all of my pictures and movies (something our old laptap could not do). I am so excited!

My family also chipped in on my camera and accessories for it, including an extra battery and an extra memory chip. I also got some Fiesta, a new apron, some money, some jewelry, a few knick knacks for my house and some clothes.

It's been a wonderful birthday so far, and I still have seven days left to celebrate! (In case you were counting, I've decided to go ahead and celebrate all of next weekend too. Why stop on my birthday?!)

Time to go learn how to use my fabulous new toy. Hopefully pictures will follow soon.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Claire Perfects Walking

Claire has been practicing her walking every day for the past couple of weeks. This video was taken last week while we were in Tulsa for Amy's Birthday Party. Claire was trying hard to divert our attention away from conversation and on to her! For your enjoyment, a short clip.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Love promotes intimacy

"Nothing rivals the closeness that's experienced between a husband and wife. Marriage is the most inimate of all human relationships. That's why we need it so much. Each of us comes into life with an inborn hunger to be known, loved and accepted. Yet this great blessing is also the site of its greatest danger. Someone who knows us this intimately can either love us at depths we never imagined, or can wound us in ways we may never fully recover from. Your mate should not feel pressured to be perfect in order to receive your approval. They should not walk on eggshells in the very place where they ought to feel the most comfortable in their bare feet.

Marriage has unloaded another person's baggage into your life, and yours into theirs. This is your opportunity to wrap all this private information about them in the protective embrace of your love, and promise to be the one who can best help him or her deal with it. They will either know they're in a place of safety where they are free to make mistakes, or they will recoil into themselves and be lost to you, perhaps forever. Loving them well should be your life's work."

Today's Dare: Determine to guard your mate's secrets and to pray for them. Talk with your spouse, and reslove to demonstrate love in spite of these issues. Really listen to them when they share personal thoughts and struggles with you. Make them feel safe.

For obvious reasons, Steve and I will not comment on this post; however, we did discuss some things last night and resolved a few things. It's nice to know that we are safe in each other's arms.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Love intercedes

"Have you ever wondered why God gives you overwhelming insight into your spouse's hidden faults? Do you really think it's for endless nagging? No, it is for effective kneeling. No one knows better how to pray for your mate than you. A husband will find that God can "fix" his wife a lot better than he can. A wife will accomplish more through strategic prayer than from all her persuasive efforts. It is also a much more pleasant way to live. So turn your complaints into prayers and watch the Master work.

Pray for exactly what your mate needs. Pray for his heart. Pray for her attitude. Pray for your spouse's responsibilities before God. Pray for truth to replace lies. Pray that forgiveness would replace bitterness. Pray for a genuine breakthrough in your marriage. And then pray for your heart's desires - for love and honor to become the norm. Pray for romance and intimacy to go to a deeper level.

One of the most loving things you can ever do for your spouse is to pray for them."

Today's Dare: Begin praying today for your spouse's heart. Pray for three specific areas where you desire for God to work in your spouse's life and in your marriage.

Steve and I have decided not to post what we are praying about. However, we did want to post this entry just in case anyone out there is following along and might want to also pray for their spouse.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Dear MiMi

Claire has a little message for her MiMi.

"Turn it around, Baby."
"Good. Now hold it up."
"Look at the camera, Sweets."
"Beautiful! Oops. You covered the sign."
Oh well. We just wanted to say:
We hope you have a wonderful day today. We love you!

Love is honorable

"To honor someone means to give them respect and high esteem, to treat them as being special and of great worth. When you speak to them, you keep your language clean and understandable. You are courteous and polite. When they speak to you, you take them seriously, giving their words weight and significance. It is a call to acknowledge the position or value of someone else. Honor is a noble word.

Love honors even when it's rejected. Love treats its beloved as special and sacred even when an ungrateful attitude is all you get in return. Love dares to say, 'Of all the relationships I have, I will value ours the most. Of all the things I'm willing to sacrifice, I will sacrifice the most for you. With all your failures, sins, mistakes and faults - past and present - I still choose to love and honor you.'"

Today's Dare: Choose a way to show honor and respect to your spouse that is above your normal routine. It may be holding the door for her. It might be putting his clothes away for him. It may be the way you listen and speak in your communication. Show your mate that he or she is highly esteemed in your eyes.

Again, Steve and I have always made it a priority in our marriage to show one another honor. Because of this, it was a bit difficult to do something outside of our normal routine. However, we deliberately showed each other honor. When Steve opened my door (which he always does), he told me that he loves me and honors me. When I cooked and did laundry and cleaned the house, I pointed out to him that I do it to honor him. I want him to live in a place he can be proud of. I want him to feel comfortable and be able to relax when he comes home.

Steve - I honor you because of who you are and because of whose you are. You are the head of our home. You are God's, and you are mine. I respect you for the man you are and the place you hold in our home and in my heart. I love you.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

We're walking. We're walking!!!

Love takes delight

"It's time to delight in your spouse again, then to watch your heart actually start enjoying who they are. Remember why you fell in love. Accept this person - quirks and all - and welcome him or her back into your heart. If you've been delighted before - which you were when you got married - you can be delighted again. Even if it's been a long time. Even if a whole lot has happened to change your perceptions. The responsibility is yours to relearn what you love about this one to whom you've promised yourself forever."

Today's Dare: Purposefully neglect an activity you would normally do so you can spend quality time with your spouse. Do something he or she would love to do or a project they'd really like to work on. Just be together.

My parents left Sunday morning as we were leaving the apartment on our way to church. Normally, as soon as we got home, I would start washing their sheets and cleaning the house, etc. Instead, I put it off. I spent the entire day on Sunday enjoying my family. The only housework that we did was cooking and cleaning the kitchen. Steve and I watched a movie. We gave each other massages. We relaxed and enjoyed one another.

Steve turned off his cell phone. His phone rings 24-hours a day, seven days a week. He often ignores it when he's at home with me and Claire unless it's his boss or a potential emergency of some sorts. But Sunday he turned his phone off and enjoyed the day with me and Claire.

Even though Steve and I always put each other first, it made a difference when we neglected something for each other.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Oodles of Fun!

We went to the Splash Park today. We had a blast!
Claire enjoyed playing with the big kids.
She even made a new friend - Julia.
"C'mon, Mommy! Let's go!"
Loving it!

Fabulous Fourth!

We Nortons had a fabulous Fourth of July weekend. PopPop and MiMi came to visit on their way home from visiting Uncle Matt, Aunt Randi and Baby Kenley.

PopPop and MiMi brought Claire a baby. She was so excited! She loves Baby!
On Saturday, PopPop and Daddy took Claire to the splash park while MiMi and Mommy went shopping.
There were also ducks at the splash park. Claire loved them and chased them.
We woke Claire up last night to take her to see the fireworks. We sat in the back of Daddy's pickup and enjoyed the show.
Claire "ooed" and "ahhed" during the fireworks. She loved it!
Claire applauded at the end of the fireworks show. She can't wait until next year to see more!

Steve has today off as well, such is the fabulous life of a man who holds a management position v. a man who flies the line and works most holidays. So this afternoon we are going back to the splash park for an afternoon of family fun!

We also tried a new church yesterday, and we really liked it. We're going back next week and hope that we've found our new church home away from our church home.

We hope that you, too, had a fabulous Fourth!