Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Marathon Shopping Lessons

Yesterday Bruce and I escaped to do a marathon shopping trip in and around Dallas. 15 hours later we landed back home. Here are a few things I learned while away:

1. There are still nice, helpful and even over accommodating sales people out there. The elderly lady in the jewelry department at Macy's at Firewheel is the bomb.

2. Burger King is no longer selling their cheesy tots....this saddens me.

3. Some people feel that it is perfectly acceptable to parade through previously mentioned mall in their workout clothes. Respectfully might I submit that some people should not.

4. Wrapping paper is expensive.

5. When Bruce is ready to leave a store he stalks me. You know how it is....husband is ready to go so he follows close behind you and will like everything you show him if it means you are headed to the register to pay.

6. It's ok to pipe music in over loud speakers that has Jesus' name in it during this time of the year.

7. Garden Ridge Pottery is not just for pottery. Where else can you go pick out a Christmas tree, long underwear, luggage, movies, mattresses and pottery?

8. We need a GPS.

9. Cyber Monday is a great day to go shopping....no one is at the stores!

10. There is never enough time when it comes to shopping.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Dear Preschoolers

Dear Preschool Class,

Tomorrow Ms. Gina will be gone. Don't worry. I am not sick. I am not tired. You see, sometimes life calls for a little adventure. Usually Ms. Gina's adventure begins around 11pm Thanksgiving evening and ends around 6pm the day after Thanksgiving. This year, however, I could not go on my adventure. So, as the calendar would have it and the preschool rules allow it, I am skipping school to bask in the bliss of retail therapy. A teacher has to do what a teacher has to do....and so I must go on this adventure.

You will not be far from my thoughts....when I see big puffy skirts...I will think of you. When I need to go to have a morning snack I will think of you. When I see silly bands....I will think of you. When I see Texas Tech paraphernalia I will think of you. When I run in a store instead of walk....I will think of you. When I hear Christmas music...I will think of you.

So....I will hope that you will think of me too....and remember our classroom rules for the sub, and help her...and use your inside voices....and sit still and quiet during L and L time (Listen and Learn)....and be kind to each other...and "get what you get and don't throw a fit".

And when I return to class on Tuesday....after a long marathon shopping day I hope to hear of a sparkling report as to how my angelic class made it through their first day without me. Come on class! You can do it!

Ms. Gina

Saturday, November 27, 2010

A Quick Christmas Craft

This morning I was browsing a few of my favorite creative blogs and I came across the paper banners that I sooooo love. I thought to my self, "Self, you can do this." So, I rummaged through my house, managed to get my finicky printer to work and presto...within 30 minutes had this:

Here's a close up (with all the imperfections) of one of the letters:

This is what I did: 

1. Print out letters (I was out of black ink....thus the rainbow of colors...but I kinda like it). I used a 650 size font and Bastia font. Use whatever you like. Cut out the letters. I left a small (uneven) white border.

2. I had a 12X12 pack of scrapbook cardstock that had 1 single hole punched at the top. I cut a random triangle and used it as a pattern for the 4 others that I needed. I made sure the hole punch was in the center of the top of the triangle. Glue the letters to the cardstock triangles.

3. Thread string, yarn, rope or whatever you like through the holes of your triangled letters. Be sure you put them in the right order. This might take longer if you allow your children to assist in the ordering of the letters ....just sayin'.

4. Space letters evenly and tie to nail or other surface. I had left over fabric from a rag garland I made last year and threaded it thru the hole punch for dimension and to add a little sturdiness. 

You could give it lots more embellishment if you like fancy smancy. I'm more simple primitive so this is it for me. 

Let me know if you try it. I'd love to see what you come up with!

Friday, November 26, 2010

My Christmas Wish List

Here's a few things I'm wishin' for this Christmas season:

1. Plenty of time to spend thinking about and teaching my kids more about the real spirit of Christmas...Jesus and His amazing birth!

2. Time to snuggle up and watch a few good Hallmark Christmas movies....you know...the ones that Bruce won't admit he watches with me :)

3. I want to find those perfect gifts for the special people on my list.

4. A house ready to receive guests.

5. To go Christmas caroling with friends.

6. To bake Christmas goodies for my neighbors.

7. To get packed for the after Christmas ski trip before the week of Christmas...so I can enjoy the days leading up to our Christmas celebration.

8. I'd like to leave my school classroom in tip top condition so I am prepared before we start the new year.

9. I'd love to wrap pretty packages this year.

10. Do something for someone who cannot do anything in return.

I'm sure there are many other things on my wish list..but for now I'll work on these.

What are you wishin' for this Christmas season?

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Day 25 of 25 Days of Thanks

It's hard to believe that 25 days ago we started this journey of thanksgiving. Now, here we are at Thanksgiving and there still so much I could write about to tell you I am thankful for. Isn't that just like God? Always piling on more blessings so that we can easily "rejoice evermore". I'm listing some things here that I haven't written posts on throughout this month but I am sincerely thankful for:

1. Living in a town with Wal-mart. This is the first time in 14 years that I've lived in the same town as the store. Formerly I've had to drive 25+ miles to support the Waltons. I gripe a lot about going there...but I'd rather have it than not...so for that convenience, I'm thankful.

2. People that pray for me. I know they're out there...sometimes they tell me they are praying and other times I can feel the presence of prayer working in my life and I just know someone is praying. This is very special to me.

3. I'm thankful for Savannah's piano teacher. Mr. Loren has the patience of Job and the ability to tune out lots of bad notes! But, nevertheless, Savannah has a deep love of music and he is helping to cultivate that.

4. I am thankful for terrific youth leaders at church who listen to kids when they are hurting, support each other through life altering circumstances and who have hearts as big as the world. They're awesome!

5. I'm thankful for God's complete forgiveness. I experienced it on the day of salvation...and everyday since.

6. I am thankful for the gift of music...how a song can lift my spirit, cause me to worship, deliver me from a bad attitude, get me to dancin' and start my toes a tappin'. Lately I've needed good music when the words haven't been there for me to speak. Good thing God understands the music of my heart!

There are many more that I could list, which indicates the abundance of God. He's working in our midst. We just have to slow down long  enough to hear and see.

If you've participated in the 25 Days of Thanks....Thank you! It's been such an encouragement to read your facebook status', blog entries and emails. Like me, I know  many of you have been motivated to live a more intentional life of gratitude. I'm looking forward to hearing from you regarding more wonderful things going on in your life.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Day 24 of 25 Days of Thanks

Today I am thankful for today. So many times I imagine what a day will be like and it turns out nothing like I had anticipated. But today was exactly right. Bruce and Tucker headed to the church before 7am to put up Christmas decorations for this weekend. I stayed up and piddled. Mom got up and we sat and ate homemade banana bread and drank coffee and diet coke. The the guys went fishing midmorning and us girls baked in the kitchen and visited all afternoon. I made a taco salad for dinner,the guys cleaned the fish and the kids got bathed and played games.

It was a crazy good day....one that was exactly like I had hoped it would be...filled with lots of being together and laughter.

Thank You God for today!

PS...lest you think the day was perfect...I failed to mentioned that Tucker had a 3 hour nap that made him more bearable, he used his new TV tray as a shield while playing war with Savannah...and for more of his defense in war, he mooned her....and no, I couldn't even make up anything close to this...it's all truth!

Day 23 of 25 Days of Thanks

Siblings....gotta love 'em. With a brother and a sister I have plenty of stories of passing the buck, the blame and the peanuts. Being the oldest I can now say, years later albeit, that yes, sometimes the oldest does think of it, the middle child does it and the youngest does get blamed for it....and sometimes the plan works...and sometimes it doesn't! 

I'm thankful for my brother, Andy. He's strong, perseveres, smart, loving, a good daddy, a godly husband and an incredible musician. He's been a help to those who couldn't help themselves and he loves his family. I am so glad God gave us each other!

My sister Amy has one of the most generous hearts ever. Just yesterday she sent me flowers for my Thanksgiving table and recently randomly sent my kids care packages...which of course they thought was the coolest thing ever! She's a survivor, resiliant, hardworking, a great cook, strong-willed. From the time we were little she called us "best buddies"...which I loved. When my kids now call each other that it reminds me of great memories with her.

In the last 5 years I've gained a sister in law, Jan, who became a mommy last Christmas Day. She is a wonderful helper to Andy. She makes the best pimento cheese ever and writes beautiful devotions on her blog. She's the perfect wife for my brother and I am so glad God planned for her to join our family.

Bruce's sister, Debbie, hated me the first time we met. She ran out the back door. Now over 17 years later, we're good friends. It might have something to do with the fact that I've birthed her two favorite people into the world but whatever....I'll take what I can get:) I'm thankful for her help, her newly developed bargain shopping skills and the way she helps with Bruce's parents. 

Last year, God added Jennie, Nate, Charlie and Stacie to my sibling group. When mom married Pop, I gained a wonderfully fun group of siblings. The miles separate us but every time I go home we get to see each other. The laughter rolls as we gather around the table. I'm looking forward to many years getting to know them better. I'm thankful for that our parents met and that God planned all along for us to know each other. I'm glad God doubled the family!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Day 22 of 25 Days of Thanks

I'm thankful for the smell of coffee. For close friends and family you know that this is NOT because I drink it. Instead, it's a definite indicator that friends or family are over. To be specific this week....it's my mom and Pop. I have been looking forward to this visit for almost six months. It's the first Thanksgiving in 5 years we will have spent together and I am soooo looking forward to baking and visiting and loving on them! They're major coffee drinkers and I know before they come through the door after the long 12 hour drive I better have a pot of Joe on or I'm in big trouble. 

Today...I'm thankful for a the smell of a good strong cup of coffee. 

Monday, November 22, 2010

Day 21 of 25 Days of Thanks

I first discovered my love for laughter shortly after my daughter was born. She spent the first 90 days in the NICU and during that time experienced many firsts....and one of those firsts was her first little laugh....which produced a roll of laughter from me. I caught it on film and still chuckle every time I see that smile.

Since then, the addition of my son has increased the laughter volume in our home. He's a little comedian himself and desires an audience regularly. I willingly oblige. From his silly faces to his sincere desire to tell a joke and make everyone laugh, Tucker keeps us in stitches.

And do I even need to talk about my husband.....I mean really! Although half the time he doesn't know he is funny, our family and friends get regular comic relief.

I have lots of friends that provide me with lots of reasons to laugh....not at them...but with them. It's funny how we can go from laughter to tears back to laughter in just seconds....but that's how it usually happens. 

The Bible tells us a lot about laughter: 

Even in laughter the heart may ache, and rejoicing may end in grief.Proverbs 14:12-14 

A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.Proverbs 17:21-23 

I am glad that God tells us in Psalms 30:5 that weeping endures for the night but joy comes in the morning. In Psalm 23 God restores us...and not just a little bit....but until our cup runs over. That's what I call abundant joy! It doesn't surprise me that God is into doing things abundantly...He's anything but average! 

Thanks God....for the gift of laughter!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Day 20 of 25 Days of Thanks

When I set out to be intentionally thankful 20 days ago, never in a million years did I dream that we would be burying a friend halfway through this challenge. I can't believe how conflicted my thoughts have been in the middle of such anguish for a young widow and her 2 girls and unborn baby boy. You can probably understand that while I can personally think of a million things to be thankful for, it seems almost careless and a little insensitive to be offering praises when someone is in the midst of such a storm in life. Yet....that's exactly what God's word tells us to do. I'm reminded of the words to Casting Crowns' song Praise You in the Storm....

I was sure by now,God, that You would have reached down
and wiped our tears away,
stepped in and saved the day.
But once again, I say amen
and it's still raining
as the thunder rolls
I barely hear You whisper through the rain,
"I'm with you"
and as Your mercy falls
I raise my hands and praise
the God who gives and takes away.

And I'll praise you in this storm
and I will lift my hands
for You are who You are
no matter where I am
and every tear I've cried
You hold in your hand
You never left my side
and though my heart is torn
I will praise You in this storm

I remember when I stumbled in the wind
You heard my cry to You
and raised me up again
my strength is almost gone how can I carry on
if I can't find You
and as the thunder rolls
I barely hear You whisper through the rain
"I'm with you"
and as Your mercy falls
I raise my hands and praise
the God who gives and takes away


I lift my eyes onto the hills
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth
I lift my eyes onto the hills
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth


So today, after a week of roller coaster emotions and lots of tears, I'm thankful we serve a God who we can praise through the storms of life. He's worthy of our praise everyday....the good ones and the bad. He's deserving whether we feel like it or not. He's familiar with our suffering and our grief. He's no stranger to our heartaches....and yet...somehow as we worship Him in the midst of our brokenness, we feel closer to Him, more in love with who He is and more aware of His presence. There is a beauty in brokenness that only comes from enduring the storms of this life. 

I'm thankful I can praise Him in the storm.

Day 19 of 25 Days of Thanks

God has a plan. I am thankful that whether I can understand why, what or where that He already has it all figured out. He's never surprised. I am thankful that his plans are higher, wider, deeper, longer, stronger, more purposeful that anything I could ever imagine on my own. When I wonder "why?", He's got the answer. When I struggle to be content, He's everything I need. When the road is long...he's there to keep me company. His plan is good...it's perfect and it's exactly what I hunger for.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Day 18 of 25 Days of Thanks

People who go the extra mile deserve an award. This world is full of mediocre, average, predictable men and women who help us determine what the 50% line should be in the scheme of things. But....every once in a while some shining star pops out and really makes you believe in the human race again.

I've seen these kind of people in action this week and it is such an encouragement to watch. They minister in an all of nothing sort of way...they look for things to do instead of waiting to be asked....they go above and beyond (not in a showy sort of way)....they sacrifice....they go out of their way to make others more comfortable, happy or satisfied. You know when you've encountered one of these precious people because you walk away wanting to be a better individual....I know I do.

Thank God for people who go the extra mile.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Day 17 of 25 Days of Thanks

Heaven. I'm thankful that in God's amazing outpouring of love for us, He gives us heaven. In the midst of grief, heaven provides peace and hope. When death stings, heaven soothes the soul. When tears fall, heaven raises a hand to wipe them away.

Why would God create such a wonderful place of no pain, sorrow, sadness, sickness of the soul or depravity of man? To give us hope, peace, comfort in our sorrow and a beautiful reminder that this world is just the preface to eternity.

Thank God for heaven.

PS. For those not in my CBC family who might read this.....

Please remember the Baier family in your prayers. Bryan, age 30, went home to be with Jesus today after  recently being diagnosed with cancer. He leaves parents, a wife, 2 girls and a baby boy on the way in March. He also leaves a student ministry where he has served as a lay leader for years, a church family and friends who love him. Thanks for your prayers.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Day 16 of 25 Days of Thanks

Good books have been my friends for a very long time. I remember browsing in our church library when I wasn't even old enough to check out a book alone. I remember our small public library in Lithonia, GA, where you could go for reading circle time in the summer. My first trip to Barnes and Noble....heavenly!

I remember my first boxed set of books....Little House on the Prairie. Then came Anne of Green Gables and Nancy Drew. As I grew older Janette Oke and Gilbert Morris books lined my small bookcase. Missionary biographies and historical fiction fascinated me and I grew to love the characters...fictional and real in each book.

As I have grown older, so has my taste in books. In fact, on New Years Day for the last 10 years or so I have spent my morning in the bookstore, gathering and browsing through books that peak my interest. It's a springboard to reaching my New Year's Goals....thus the large library of cookbooks, decorating books, non-profit texts, current religious topics and child rearing/family issues.

I'm thankful people that are smarter and more studied than I am take the time to jot down their thoughts, stories and dreams. It's reassuring to hear someone has already been there...done that. It's motivating to hear exciting stories of someone who is spending their life doing something adventurous or eternal. Escaping to dangerous mission fields or back to the colonial period allows my mind to wonder about what it would be like to be there in the present.

So whether curled up on a cold December day, waiting in the car, taking a long road trip or soothing my soul....books have a way of sneaking into most everyday of my life. I'm thankful for the knowledge, the entertainment, the adventure and the ideas.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Day 15 of 25 Days of Thanks

I remember my first grade Sunday School teacher: Sadie Harper. She was a wonderful older lady with orange hair who loved kids and probably had been teaching Sunday School since the beginning of time. I remember where the class met and if I close my eyes and take a deep breath I can remember the slightly musty smell of the carpet. I remember the flannel graph stories, snacks she would bring and stickered attendance charts. She made quite an impression on me.

Around the 5-6 grade Nell Cook became my Sunday School teacher. She let me help do the bulletin boards in our class, taught us about modesty and even hosted a slumber party at her house once. She was a dear friend of my mom's so I saw her outside of the classroom a lot. One thing that impressed me even then, was how busy she was with her own family, yet she made time to invest in the lives of adolescent girls.

In junior high and senior high, like most churches, we had our share of youth directors in and out. Mostly I remember Dale and Cheryl Butler who were lay people who were looking to serve the Lord full time when He opened the door. I had never been around someone so funny and so sold out. He was a shoot straight kind of guy and when he spoke...we listened.

I guess I am writing all this to say how thankful I am for faithful Sunday School teachers for my own kids now. I don't think that we as parents ever give them quite the credit they deserve. I trust when I send Savannah and Tucker to their classes on Sunday mornings that they are getting much of the same love and teaching that I received as a kid. When I think about the impact it made on my own life, I am incredibly thankful that God has placed us in a church where the teachers are prepared and equipped to share God's love with the kids in a way that they understand what they are being taught. I'm glad they are reinforcing the things we are teaching at home.

Thanks to all you Sunday School teachers out there! You're a blessing!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Day 14 of 25 Days of Thanks

This week I've had the opportunity to enjoy the little things in life that I am thankful for:

1. A new wallet....a friend picked up for me. Who knew a little wallet with a bird on it could make me near giddy. It's just about the cutest thing in the world.

2. An empty stove box. I've enjoyed watching my kids turn this square box into an indoor fort this week. They've graffitied the inside and out, eaten their lunch inside, read books and enjoyed their cozy little hideout. It's brought back some great childhood fort memories of my own.

3. Groceries on hand. I cleaned out the kitchen pantry and found there's way more food on hand than I thought. That's a few extra bucks in the pocket this week.

4. A newly learned craft.

5. A night out with the mom friends in my life. Lots of fun, laughter, a few tears and lots of good food.

Thanks for the little things in life God.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Day 13 of 25 Days of Thanks

We are halfway there in our 25 Day of Thanks Campaign! I just want to say what a blessing it is to read all the posts on facebook and the comments from friends regarding what they are thankful for.

Today I am thankful for a Godly heritage. I was one of those kids who was blessed to have been raised in a home where God's Word was taught and lived out by my parents. Sure, they made their mistakes, just like I am, but there was never a moment I questioned how they felt about God, a relationship with Him, our church or how we should treat others. If I do half as good a job as they did, I feel like I will have accomplished something.

I am thankful that they didn't take the easy way out. They really could have cared less what the Jones' were doing. They were unconventional....things like limited TV, no spending money on Sundays, fasting on Wednesdays with our church family, homeschooling (before it was cool :)), volunteering us 3 kids to serve at Senior Citizens luncheons when we were very young, teaching us how to treat those who can do nothing for us, allowing us to work on a bus ministry in one of the roughest suburbs of Atlanta, going to homeless shelters and playing the piano...and the list could go on and on and on.... of the hands on things our family experienced growing up. I remember one time winning a coloring contest at a local grocery store. I was probably 8 or 9. It was Christmas and I remember my mom saying, why don't we donate your prize (a new toy) to a child who won't get anything for Christmas. It was the first time I can remember having to make a decision like that all by myself. She left it up to me...and in presenting me with that option she planted a seed of giving. I caught the lesson that day.

I am thankful they weren't lazy. I'm thankful that they instilled in me God's Word. That it was valued and used as a guidebook for family living. What a heritage they've given me!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Day 12 of 25 Days of Thanks

Mom friends. You know the kind I am talking about. You have your mom. You have your friends. And you have your mom-friends. They're the ones you can talk to about all your mom issues....of course I am going to list a few:

1. Why your child refuses to potty train.
2. Why your body is falling apart after pregnancy.
3. Why a balanced diet has more to do with you juggling a baby bottle, baby and spatula than 1 meat, 2 veggies and a starch.
4. Why you chose a certain pediatrician.
5. Where to find the latest and greatest deals on everything from laundry detergent to Disney movies.

They're the ones who you call when you're overwhelmed, need adult conversation, are worried about something, need a good laugh, the husband is driving you crazy or you've locked yourself out of your car. They don't care that you talk to them while you are in the bathroom. They are probably there too. They don't care that it's late or early or that they have to practically yell so that you can hear them above the roar of children playing in the background. They're soul sisters. Kindred spirits. Your backup. Your emergency contact. Your prayer warrior. They don't care if you have makeup on or a clean house...let alone stain free clothing. In fact....they would much rather you just spend the time catching up over a cold cup of coffee and a burnt grilled cheese sandwich. They will watch your kids, your dog and feed your husband if you are out of town. They will share their secrets, their burdens and their triumphs...and at the end of the day you'll realize your life is fuller, richer and more because of them. I know mine is.

Thanks Mom-friends. Love ya!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Day 11 of 25 Days of Thanks

Teenagers make life interesting. I don't have any yet....but I've had my share of unbiological children come through my door in the last 16 years and there has NEVER been a dull moment.

Currently Bruce and I along with 5 or so other couples have the honor of working with some of the best teenagers ever! They're regular teenagers with their relationship woes, parental complaints and louder-than-this-38-year-old likes music (and I do like mine loud). But as regular as they are I see something wonderful happening in them that is making them anything but ordinary. They are a generation rising.

They serve in our church AWANA program, sing in the choir, help in the nursery, go on visitation, attend church regularly, witness to their friends, invite their friends to church, ask questions about the Bible and sing (that's my favorite). On Friend Day they brought MANY teens to hear about Jesus....and we might not ever know (this side of heaven) what decisions were/will be made as a result of that invitation.

I'm proud of their faithfulness. I'm honored by their trust. I'm in awe of the way they worship. I am motivated by their enthusiasm and most of all I am thankful that for this moment we are privileged to watch them grow.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Day 10 of 25 Days of Thanks

I know in the scheme of things one job is not more important than the next if you are doing what God wants you to do, but, I have a certain fondness and admiration for missionaries to foreign fields. They risk it all...sacrifice comforts, pleasures, English speaking television, personal preferences and abandon it all to go wherever God leads them to tell others about Jesus. It sounds reckless, adventurous and brave. Would I be willing? Would I leave all this behind to go to the other side of the world to tell others about Christ? Would I be willing to let go of all the preferences I have about toilet paper, radio stations and home decor to live in a land where a thatched roof was a luxury and a static AM radio station is all I have. I hope so!

I realize some of our missionaries lead somewhat Americanized lives on foreign soil these days. For those who may live in a large city where modern conveniences abound, I still think about the sacrifice of raising a family half way around the world- away from their own families-  and admire their dedication to the call God has placed on their lives.

They are true heroes in my book. I pray that I would serve with such reckless abandonment here in my own mission field.

Thanks missionaries!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Day 9 of 25 Days of Thanks

Yesterday our new stove was delivered. I am thankful for the opportunity to get to cook again. It's been 2 weeks since I've boiled water, seeped tea or made a pot of rice. It's time.

I switched from a glass top range to a coil top stove...thanks to several friends who gave their advice regarding our recent mishap. It's white, to match the rest of the kitchen appliances. It also came packaged in a sturdy cardboard box...so you can imagine the fun the kids will have with that!

Sometimes I get tired of cooking, but after a couple of weeks of creatively figuring our how to melt caramel chips and a few other stove top dilemmas, I think I will put the complaints on the back burner for now!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Day 8 of 25 Days of Thanks

11 children enter the door of my preschool classroom everyday. Each one of them is unique, special, energetic, beautiful, creative and talkative. Yes...I said it....my class chatters like they will go mute by noon.  Since I have them from 8:30 to 11:30am this presents a problem for them sometimes!!!

I'm thankful for this job. I originally only planned on working 2 days a week...teaching three year olds, then I moved to taking a PreK 3 day a week class, and then at the last minute took the 5 Day PreK class. Most days I feel ill equipped to handle the challenges that come my way....don't get me wrong...I am perfectly capable of teaching reading, writing, numbers and colors. But factor in making sure they know that they are loved by God, unbelievably valued and special...and it gets a little daunting. Some of you might think I take this too seriously, but these are kids and families that I KNOW God has placed in my class and He has a special purpose for these special 11 munchkins that only time will reveal.

I'm thankful for the challenges they present, the diet cokes they bring me, the art pictures they draw to hang on my file cabinet, the things they bring to share with the class, their humor, their quirkiness, their parents and most of all their innocence. I pray that each week I come in prepared...to teach the basics with my curriculum and my life.

Thank you God for my class!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Day 7 of 25 Days of Thanks

Pastors have hard jobs. When I think back to the years Bruce was a senior pastor I KNOW there were hard things he had to do and difficult decisions that he had to make. I think I am even more appreciative of the role now that we aren't in it...because we see the difference.

I'm thankful for a pastor who preaches the Word of God. He's not out there taking requests for things to preach about, or using his position to scold people. He just preaches...the Word of God. He comes to church prepared and ready to speak the words God has laid on his heart. He speaks with confidence, not pride. He is ready with an answer and willing to talk things through so the congregation better understands God's Word. He is a witness in the community. He cares about people. You can't go anywhere that people don't know who he is....and it's not because he's popular....but because he's invested a couple of decades in the community. He visits people....the sick, the elderly, the downhearted, the discouraged, the hospitalized. He works as hard or harder than anyone I know. He's at the church late some nights, visits during his lunch hour, makes appointments for after hours when people will be home to visit. He is one busy man....who loves God and people..and it oozes from him.

I've seen his heart break over wayward Christians, the sickness of a church member and lots of things I couldn't begin to explain. He is human....just like me and you...and he's gonna fail me...just like your pastor will fail you....but He is God's man for our church for this time. Imagine that...this is the man God picked out to lead this group of believers in our community...leading us closer to Christ, our community and one another. He deserves my prayers and support....along the way a word of thanks. Today I am thankful for him, for his supportive wife who has worked along side him and for his faithfulness to God and to God's people. I'm thankful that my family gets to serve with such an example of service and dedication. Thanks Pastor!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Day 6 of 25 Days of Thanks

Air conditioning, heat, running water, cable television, high speed Internet. What do these things have in common? They are all modern conveniences that I am afforded...conveniences that most of the world has never experienced.

So many times I take for granted the advances that make my life easier, more enjoyable or more comfortable. Yet...the minute one of these things malfunctions....I'm whining! These are just a few of the blessings God gives us that we get to enjoy. While most of the world lives in poverty, in less that ideal living conditions....I've found myself enjoying many of the luxuries of the world. It's a privilege to experience everything we have in America.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Day 5 of 25 Days of Thanks

Peace. The word alone makes me feel more calm. I am thankful for peace in the midst of stressful situations - which include but are not limited to going to the Dr, dentist, Walmart and driving through Dallas!

Growing up, my mom reserved one hour a day for us kids to spend alone in our rooms. As a kid I never understood this concept....but boy, do I get it now! After lunch we would head to our rooms for quiet time and she would spend an hour doing something peaceful. I remember her crocheting, listening to "soft hits" on the radio and resting during this time. She quieted herself and our home for a brief hour so that we could all experience the peace that comes from getting quiet.

These days I find myself practicing my own version of one hour peace. After lunch the kids and I set aside some quiet time. I prop my feet up, close my eyes for a moment and rest. They read, color, or play alone quietly. I can't tell you what it does for us except that the fighting factor is down and the blood curling screams have diminished drastically.

Sometimes I find it hard to settle my mind the same way I settle my body. Know what I mean? It can take me half an hour to get settled mentally yet, my feet have been propped up for 30 minutes. I'm learning to realize this unsettledness in me is an opportunity to experience peace. While all the elements are in order for me to enjoy quietness it takes surrendering my concerns, worry, helplessness and pride and embracing PEACE. The PEACE that was left to me by Christ through the Holy Spirit. If you've ever experienced that then you know it's worth the surrender.

There have been plenty of more serious times when I've experienced God's peace in my life. Surrendering my future to the Lord at age 14 was the first time I can remember feeling an undeniable sense of peace, then when I went 1000 miles away from home for college, when I was 18 and my dad passed away, years of waiting to have children, being a pastor's wife for 14 years, birth of my kids, taking care of my mil while she fought cancer, homeschooling, employment and much much more. In fact, I can't even think about one year of my life that HIS peace hasn't been present in a huge way!

So whether you're experiencing a mountaintop experience or a valley view....God's peace is there for the taking....He's left it for us....embrace it today. You'll be thankful!
Thank you for your peace that passes all understanding!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Day 4 of 25 Days of Thanks

There is only one body.....the body of Christ. I've thought one million times about how hard it must be for people who do not belong to the body of Christ to go through tough, desperate or desolate times. The word lonely comes to mind.

I am thankful to be part of the body of Christ. The beautiful earthly depiction of Christ on earth. His hands, His feet, His words, His heart. Could there be anything more glorifying to God than a body that is functioning in perfect tune to His desires? Over the years God has allowed me to be part of a few local churches that have represented the body of Christ well. Whether through benevolence, or taking care of orphans, the sick or the wounded, or celebrating victories together, there is no sweeter time than those spent with the body of Christ.

In a world full of politicians that promote mudslinging and bickering and coaches that yell too much at their players and news reports that are more depressing by the minute, I am blessed and thankful for the beautiful body of believers that pulls together when things are tough, brings a casserole over when someone is sick, picks my kids up when I can't, is a phone call away at 10:30 at night and who loves me,  despite my faults, hangups, or personality (which may vary depending on the amount of sleep I've received), who cries when I cry and laughs when I laugh (ok...yes, sometimes at me).

Thank you God for your church...the beautiful body of Christ.
How 'bout you? What are you thankful for?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Day 3 of 25 Days of Thanks

The power of prayer...I feel like I should stand up and give an old fashion-jump up and shout-gospel church testifying testimony about the prayers God has answered this past year. The yes's, no's and even the not now-wait-answers have all been very clear....when I've been quiet enough to listen. Ouch! That is such a key element to prayer....the getting quiet, shutting up, closing the mouth, settling my mind, opening my ears and hearing what HE has to say.

From the sell of our house....which ended up being a big waiting game and was terribly uncomfortable - to the undeniable green light to quit my work from home job that I loved - to the distinct NO regarding some financial decisions we faced.....God's answered our prayers for wisdom, patience, guidance.

I think sometimes I get in the mindset that because God doesn't answer something the way I want Him to that He's not answering...boy is that wrong thinkin'. He's got my best interest in mind. He wants to bless me. He wants me to trust Him with my future...every second of it....so His way is ALWAYS best...wether it's the way I see things or not.

All that being said....I'm praying especially for the Baier family in our church during the next 24 hours. Please join me as Bryan (husband, 30yo) has super serious surgery on Wed. morning. He has a wife, 2 girls and a baby boy on the way.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Day 2 of 25 Days of Thanks

Today I am thankful for seasons. In Texas we only have 2 seasons usually - summer and not summer. It's one of the things I miss most about my four years of college in Missouri - Distinct changes. Crisp fall mornings, bitter winter nights, melting snow on early spring days and warm...not blistering hot..summer afternoons. That's beautiful weather if you ask me.

But today I am thankful for the different seasons of life God has given me so far.

I'm thankful for the 10 years of married life that Bruce and I had alone. Those were great years that God allowed us to grow closer together, minister to teens, build a church, travel and devote countless late night hours scrapbooking, playing video games, counseling teens and going to ballgames. They were great years....and that is a season of life I will never forget. The people that filled our lives during that time remain in our hearts even today!

I am now thankful for the last 8 years God has given me to be a mother. This season is by far the most rewarding and satisfying so far (I think every mom would agree). I am so very thankful God allowed me to be a mom. I remember those sad feelings every Mother's Day when I was barren. I will probably always have a soft spot in my heart for those who walk in those shoes. My life with Savannah and Tucker is full and although I dreamed of having a large family when I was younger, God knew exactly what we needed when He gave us our two blue eyed kids. So while this season leaves me more tired, doing more laundry, more cooking, more cleaning, more running - it also leaves me feeling more than grateful for these little miracles, that, according to doctors were never suppose to be.

Thank you God for these special seasons of life.....help me cherish every moment.

What are you giving thanks for today?

Monday, November 1, 2010

Day 1 of 25 Days of Thanks

I am thankful for fresh starts, clean slates, new beginnings...anything involving a chance to do better than the last time. I'm thankful for a God who understands my weaknesses and forgives my sins with each fresh new mercy day. When I am grumpy, angry, tired or just plain mean, I am thankful that family and friends are forgiving and love me anyway. In all my inadequacies I am thankful for grace. Grace says "all is forgiven".