Monday, December 31, 2012

How We're Spending New Year's Eve

Bruce declared this New Year's Eve "family night" so we are all hunkered down for some Fruit Ninja on the Xbox, some computer time, some TV watching (still have 30 unwatched Hallmark movies from the holidays to watch) and some good food.

The kids started their day playing a new online game they've discovered:

Bruce started the day quarantined to the back of the house that we are lovingly calling "sick hall". He's feeling better now, but I really can't pass up an opportunity to share a great picture:

I started the day out with a few loads of laundry and inbetween I sat down to read all about onions...yes...I'm thinking gardening already

Then on to way more appetizing things:

And to wrap up the night....the best pizza in town

Can you smell all that yummy goodness?

As the year closes and another one welcomes us...I'm finding myself reflecting on the things that God has allowed our family to experience in 2012. Whether good or bad, He's always in the process of making me new...better...more like Him. I'm thankful, eternally for the work He's accomplishing and humbled by the beauty and truth that He desires to use ordinary, sinful, redeemed people to worship Him, serve Him, and draw men and women to Him. What an amazing gift to give Him when we can abandon ourselves and totally surrender to Him!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Great Clean Out

So in my effort to get life under control I've been cleaning out and purging the house. You can probably estimate the excitement that my family has felt toward this undertaking. Unlike before when I've done the massive cleaning, I started in the master bedroom. Normally I lose steam before I get there and it becomes the catch all for all things unhomed. This at times has included the vacuum cleaner, the bill file, the ironing board and other sundries. It hasn't been unusual for the entire house to be spotlessly clean with the exception of my bedroom. It's the last place that gets attention. Shame on me.

The room started out in bad shape...really bad shape. But, I decided that I would just take my time and clean out everything...the side table, under the bed, the baseboards, the windowsills, the closet! And it took me 7 hours to clean every nook and cranny. I moved furniture out and other furniture in to make the room more accommodating for us. I dusted and vacuumed and wiped down things. I threw away things and bagged up two huge bags for Goodwill.

If you're still my friend after reading about all this...thanks. I'm pretty sure that I'm not the only one who has a stash room or at least a closet. I took a poll of a couple of friends and they agreed...the master bedroom is the catch all place for their stuff too.

Here's pics of the after...I took before pics too...but ain't nobody got time to look at those....

After the high of sniffing all those cleaning products...or maybe it's all the Christmas flu medication, but whatever, I decided to overhaul the kids rooms too... and here's the finished product:

Savannah's room will be painted robin egg blue in the very near future. We've been searching for a bedspread we both liked..emphasis on BOTH...and found this great quilt the other day while we were shopping. I've got to order the shams online.

So, we'll see how long we can keep things neat and orderly. But for now, I'm one happy momma!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Now and Later

So, I took a very unplanned blogging hiatus over the last month. I should have seen it coming. My posts had become less and less over the last year and when I started teaching full time in September...well my goose was cooked. I never anticipated the amount of work teaching 18 first graders would be...and in the next breath I'll mention that I also didn't anticipate what a blessing they would be to me over the last four months.

I've pretty much been in survival mode and life's been living me instead of me living life - Not a mode I would recommend by the way. It just seems like between family, church, school and kid's activities there has been little to no time for me to think, process, meditate, pray, be still before the Lord. And then there was the fact that my father in law was diagnosed and died of lymphoma in just a matter of one month. It's been quite an overwhelming fall. So, as with most things in life, I've wondered exactly what God was up to, what should I be learning, what was the purpose for all this.

And it's not that I have all the answers, but God has showed me a few things that I'll be bringing into 2013.

I read and taught through Priscilla Shirer's Resolution for Women this fall. Resolution #5 I still haven't signed...mainly because I knew I couldn't or wouldn't be able to keep the resolution...

It reads: I resolve to devote the best of myself, my time, my talents to the primary roles God has entrusted me at this phase of my life. 

And after many a frustrated end of the day, feeling like I've cheated those closest to me, I've decided that 2013 is the year of my family. The family who deserves my best. The husband who deserves to be treated with the best of me instead of the half spent wife who is barely hanging on to her sanity. The kids who deserve a mother who has the energy and the time and the love to train them in the way they should go.

And all the while I hope to not intentionally cheat the others in my life that I I'll be learning to say "no" and to modify my commitments so that I can get back to the basics. And I'll be praying that I accept the grace God gives me to do this and that others will give me the grace I need to do this. And maybe...just maybe by the end of 2013, I'll be able to sign resolution #5...having made this season of family life a priority.

A couple of things I need to do to devote myself, my time, my talents to the primary roles of wife and mother that God has entrusted to me at this phase of my life are:

- become a more organized housekeeper
- cook more
- teach my children basic housekeeping chores
- begin teaching my children basic cooking skills
- be a more wise time manager
- simplify home inventory
- set up local savings account for kids
- teach my children to spend money more responsibly
- serve together with my kids
- read missionary biographies with children
- keep better record of answered prayers with family

By no means do I want my family to be my "idol". But I can't stress to you the amount of conviction on my heart when I realize how great a need there is for godliness in this world, and how little I am doing to help model and plant that godliness into the next generation. I feel great responsibility and now it's time to put action to those feelings.

This phase of life won't last forever....that's kind of the harsh reality of it all. These moments will be replaced with empty nests and college tuitions and grandchildren. And then there will be all the time for all those ministry things, those job things, those hobbies, those women's groups...all those things that I may have a moment or two for now to give a little to.....Later there will be time for those to be the priority. And later will be here before you know it!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Counting My Blessings

I was about 13 when I saw the movie White Christmas for the first time. I fell in love with the beautiful scenery of the north east in winter and the sound of Bing Crosby's voice....well even at 13 it melted my heart! But the two women who sang the "Sisters" song cracked me up. Immediately my sister and I memorized every word of the song and wound randomly break out in song ....much to the hilarity of those who heard our dramatic version.

Another song from that movie had to do with counting your blessings...

When I'm worried and I can't sleep 
I count my blessings instead of sheep
And I fall asleep...
Counting my blessings.

We've had a hiccup in our family tree recently. My father in law has been diagnosed with stage four lymphoma. It's aggressive and in all honesty has us all just a little worried. But giving thanks reminds me that the God who has been sovereign in the past, is still sovereign. The God who has had things under control in the past, is still controlling things today. The God that guided me with yesterdays decisions will guide us in the future. Nothings changed for Him. He's still constant...still very present...still able to make everything beautiful in His time.

So...whatever has you worried...losing sleep over or just contemplating how things should've or could've been, remember to count the blessings of the past and the present and remind yourself that God never changes. He's always the same.


1. Notes of encouragement
2. Frozen meals for hurried days
3. Friends to watch kids while we juggle dr. visits and work
4. A loving church family who cries with us and prays for us
5. Few side effects so far to chemo treatments
6. A great oncologist
7. Kids who roll with the punches
8. Time
9. Hope
10. Family

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Highs and Lows

Life is a roller coaster. If you think differently, well, you're wrong mistaken. Unexpected blessings and trials come into our life daily and whether we want to acknowledge the good, the bad and the ugly it's up to us. For the most part I'm a glass half full kind of girl. I like to see the best in people, the best in circumstances and even the best in the bad times. But it doesn't change the fact that there are bad times. It just changes the way we look at those times.

God's Word says:

John 16:33-
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

He's already taken care of our troubles...He has overcome life, in death, in sickness, in health, in wealth, in poverty, in persecution, in honor, in love and in war, in certain times and uncertainty, in faith and in doubt. He has overcome every thing that seeks to consume us. He says...."have hope, take heart, be encouraged! I've overcome it all". He says..."grab hold of my peace....the kind that surpasses all understanding...the perfect peace that keeps your heart and mind tuned into Christ....that's the kind of peace you need to grab and hold tightly to get through the roller coaster times of life.

He's got this roller coaster ride and the next and the next and the one after that too. Why not make room beside you for Him to come along side. Grab His hand and hold on for life....eternal life...abundant life...full life? It's really the only life worth living anyway!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Grace for Everyday

I need it.

Like mercy every morning and daily bread, I need grace. I need it from the Lord and I need it from you.  I'm telling it like it is. I can't make it without it. I am terribly fallible and extremely prone to disappointing God and man and without a lot of grace I will become the recipient of your judgement, your disappointment, your frustration, your anger and your scorn. I am the chiefest of sinners, said Paul....and I echo his confession.

It probably doesn't help that God has placed me in ministry....there's a whole 'nother group of people that I can manage to disappoint or possible turn away from being closely knit together with a group of believers. It's like God was playing a giant joke on humanity when He called me. Seriously Lord?

But He did and for years I tried to live this perfect little pastor's wife life, until I realized, I don't really do perfect very well. And so began the quest for something that was more real than perfect. And I found grace again. Someone in real clothes and shoes gave me a giant helping of grace one time and I will never forget what grace looks like this side of heaven. Relief. Freedom. Peace.

Grace is not my cop's my complete confession that I can't make you happy all the time....I can't even make myself happy all the time! I can't always be there for you. I don't have all the answers. I will fail you. I will disappoint you. I can't do much of anything perfect. It's my humble pie paired with a strong cup of "I'm sorry" when I fail you and it's the beautiful embrace of grace that comforts my heart when I mess up.

Thankfully God just heaps it on. Day after wonderful day. As a Christian, I am learning daily what it means to walk in that receive it, to give it, to share it, to talk about it, to embrace it. Receiving it reminds me how much I need to give it. When I'm frustrated with someone...give them grace. When I grow impatient of the same old, same old....give them grace. When I'm tired physically and the demands keep coming...give grace. It's the remedy for the hardened soul to be soften and it's the only things that can bind two hearts as one. Grace. Room to make a mistake and still be loved. Grace. Forgiveness without a guilt trip. Grace. Forgetting what is behind and forging ahead to a glorious future.

Grace. I need it. Do you?

Monday, September 17, 2012

Change Me

Change my heart oh God...
Make it ever new
Change my heart oh God
May I be like you.

The congregation number 200 or so. The sermon was finished and God was working. People at the alter sniffled...the baptistry waters were stirring and the soft sound of a collective body of believers sang softly those words...Change my heart Oh God. 

And that's what's happening. One by one the cry is going up...change me....change my heart...change everything about habits, my motives, my affections, my sin...change it all. That's white flag surrender. 

As I stood with the church that evening, I am excited about what the future holds. Could we be on the hem of a revival? What does it look like? What will it change? How will we know? I have no answers. Most weeks I sit there just thankful and humbled that God is allowing my family to be a part of something so uniquely beautiful in the world today. A perfect church...certainly not. That's laughable purely from the point that I am in it...and I understand my wretchedness as a sinner. But I am thankfully indebted to the One who redeemed me....paid the price for my ignorant sin and who is making me beautiful and new every day. 

So I join with those who sang those words Sunday night...

Change my heart oh God...
Make it ever new
Change my heart oh God
May I be like you.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Recipe For a Day Off

I'm not good at resting. I don't know many moms that are. Seems like there's always something pressing to be done. Laundry, homework, dinner and housework are constantly calling our name. But, it just so happens that I have a Friday off school and the house is halfway decent and I'm sick with a cold, so I'm ordering myself a day off.

Here's the recipe:

1. Sleep in...or at least stay in the bed past 6am.

2. Pajamas...all day

3. No running appliances....dishwasher, washing machine, dryer, hair dryer. Exception: Keurig

4. Pinterest...I've seen it very little in the last month. There's bound to be something new I need to discover.

5. At least one sappy movie.

6. Some snuggle time with the kids

7. Reading

8. A Nap

9. Comfort food....possibly chili and rice since a mild cold front has moved in

10. Pillow and blanket and me on the couch

The way I see it...I better take advantage of the day while I have it! Gotta go....I have things to do...sorta!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

What Are We Remembering?

It's 9-11.

And folks are remembering. Facebook status' this morning were filled with "We will never forget" "We Remember", "Where were you???...". And frankly, I'm wondering what are people really trying to remember. I mean, I get it, you want to talk about where you were and what you were doing. But then what...What do you remember?

- I remember a country who came to their knees in one moment.
- I remember race and religion and social status mattered little in that same moment.
- I remember fear in the eyes of every person.... wondering who would be next.
- I remember parents holding children tight...really tight
- I remember a sense of urgency to get back to God
- I remember schools believing all the sudden it was ok to pray in their buildings again
- I remember the pledge of allegiance meaning something
- I remember people singing the national anthem with pride
- I remember communities bearing the burden of NYC in their hearts
- I remember ordinary people giving up their lives in hopes of saving others
- I remember God and Country....united we stand.

....and I remember being hopeful that maybe this would get our attention and bring American back to her roots. And yet, now after 11 years, we're barely different than the day before 9-11 happened. We've drifted back into our pride and self indulgence. We're noticeably different at ground zero...but how about the ground zero of our hearts? Are they more passionately devoted to the urgency of the gospel? Are we closer to that nation that lived and breathed the beautiful message of freedom...both spiritual and physical?

I wonder...and in my heart I know. We are slow to learn the lessons of tragedy. We forget the beauty of fear...and that it draws us closer to the Lord. We become anxious to feel secure and independent and in that search for both, we abandon the only one that can truly bind our hearts securely. What really have we remembered at all?

Monday, September 10, 2012

White Flag

I'm sitting here...the eldest just tossed her cookies and the youngest is singing at the top of his lungs in the shower, Chris Tomlin's, White Flag....and Bruce is out of town and I'm knee deep in grading phonics papers for my class of 18 first graders. And giving up is looking pretty good right now. Only it's not the right kind of giving up. It's the poor pitiful me...look how bad I have it...My life is so busy...poor me kind of giving up. (And I hear you saying "Spare me, join the club, you're not the only one"...and I am already sick of hearing my own complaining.

Our church's theme for the next year is "Take Over...Surrender...White Flag". And as I sit and contemplate all the things that surrender means....none of them includes vanishing from the face of the earth...which if I were completely honest, temporarily, sounds good. Instead, it means giving it all up to the Lord and letting Him take care of it. Trusting that He will take care of it. Loving that He will do His part to juggle the kids, the house, the school stuff, the Bible study...Knowing He can take way better care of things than I could ever. And that's really where I want to be.

I want to be that woman who is not easily flustered by life. The one who is calm and cool and well yes, even collected (although I'm not sure what that looks like). I want to be the one that is selfless and uninhibited when God asks me to do something. I want to think of others more and, instead of, myself....and that's hard when your hands are full of pins you're juggling.

So, I'm surrendering. Not because the church is having a theme, but because God says He can do more...more with my time, my talents, my treasures, my kids, my class, with me....than I could ever do in my own power. His exchange rate is prime. My overwhelmed, pitiful life for His Abundance. Sounds like a pretty good deal to me. I'm raising my white flag.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

First Days

It's the first day of the first grade for Tucker! 
And yes...
I'm his teacher and as you might can see, 
he's terribly excited about that!

Savannah (Fifth grade!) will be with us this year at school. 
She'll be working on her own work in another classroom. 
We're glad she's going to be close by!

I'm praying both my kids have a great year academically...but even more so that they learn the life lessons that God has for them as they are at school each day. I'm thankful for the freedom they have to learn about Christ and His ways each day at school. 

Now....if school just didn't start so early this would all be a whole lot more fun!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Movin' On Up

I'm movin' on up to 1st grade this year. More than six months ago I was asked to consider teaching first grade and I turned it down....without praying about it. Guess what? I'm teaching first grade now...and I'm actually very excited about it! Here are a few pictures I took last week as I was working in my new classroom:

Math Board

I got this cute little fabric banner out of the party department at Target...on clearance for $1.70! 

This is my word wall. I used vinyl peel and stick letters.

Calendar, weather and birthday board

Centers and a portion of our class library

Our "Let Your Light Shine" Theme for 2012 

Phonics, Spelling and Language Arts board. 

Teacher Orientation is in the morning! Looking forward to a great year!

The New 30

I've heard it said a million (ok, maybe not that many) times over the last year "40 is the new 30"...and in my near dread of facing the big 4-0 I was trying to convince myself that this was the case. However, I've been reading "The Resolution For Women" and the first chapter is all about embracing the moment you are in now and not wishing for a better time, a more stable time, a healthier time or a more profitable time. As I neared my birthday I had resolved that I would tackle this year with more contentment. Thankfulness for where God has brought me, that His grace will be just as sufficient for these days as the last. Contentment for those moments when I am sorely dissatisfied and markedly unthankful. And joy for this moment in the history of my life. And just when I thought things couldn't get any friends showed up.

Yes..and my Dr. (who ordered me to stay in the wheel chair all night long)

These crazy girls along with 45 or so of the ladies in the church showed up to give me a really special welcome into the 4th decade of my life. Here's a glimpse into the evening:

We played some games....including "Are you smarter than a first grader". And there was poetry and music from the 70's.

I was given some charming accessories...what girl doesn't like that?!

Lasagna and all the sides were served

And of course...cake

And a very special devotion on the faithfulness of God.

Then this company of godly ladies gathered around and said a prayer over me. And that perhaps, was the best gift of all...That you are loved enough to be taken to the feet of Jesus and prayed over is a gift that I'll never forget. How blessed am I?

And one of my favorite parts of the party was when they told me what my "real" gift was...

They had all brought food to donate to our food pantry at church! This was such a thoughtful gift...knowing that our food pantry is so close to my heart. 

So, thanks Ladies of CBC. You made turning the new 30 easier than I could have ever imagined! I know lots of hard work and effort went into making it a night I will never forget! I think you successfully accomplished that! 

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

When Little People Teach Big Lessons

This summer has been a little different around our house. I've been in the midst of preparing to teach a new grade at school. I'll be going from pre-school teacher to 1st grade in a few weeks, and that has meant a lot of prep work to wrap my mind around. I've also been adjusting to being the mom of the pastor's kids and if my radar wasn't up before regarding my kids poor kids...nobody is as hard on them as me! And then we've been extremely busy ...but who are you.

BUT, my kids have taught me a few really good lessons this summer...and I thought I'd pass them on to you.

1. You need at least one pajama day a week.

2. Your perspective changes when you are in a home made sheet fort. The world goes away for a few minutes and even laundry can't hinder you from taking a break!

3. Re-runs of Seventh Heaven and Heartland are just as good as the first time....especially when you didn't see them the first time.

4. Even moms can win at Mario Cart....when the kids let her!

5. Dinner may take 5 times longer to prepare, but nothing beats two kids in aprons helping.

6. It's ok to have a pile of flip-flops at the door. Makes going out for a quick snow cone, or to chase the ice cream truck down much easier.

7. Housecleaning is easier with Toby Mac blaring. I apologize to my elderly neighbors.

8. Hide and Go Seek in the house is way more fun if you tag with a nerf gun.

9. Never throw away random nuts, bolts or screws you find. Tucker learned to use the screw driver this summer.

10. I'm not getting this time back. Fill it will love and memories. In a flash it's all you have left.

Hope you're enjoying the last few weeks with your kids before school starts back! I know I will!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Sunday Dinner

I don't cook on least that's been the norm for the last 19 years. With being in ministry it's not been a priority to cook a home cooked meal on Sundays, instead, we usually grab lunch with someone after church and let someone else do the cooking. It's worked for us.

But this past week I actually did some meal planning and decided it was high time my family saw a vegetable, so I planned the traditional pot roast meal for Sunday. I threw everything (Roast, seasonings, red potatoes, onion and carrots) in the crock pot on Saturday night and programed it to start slow cooking at 4am.

By the time I got up on Sunday morning the delicious smell was wafting through the house. I started some yeast rolls to rising and left for church at 8am.

When we got home from church at 12:30, the roast was done, I boiled some corn on the cob, put the rolls in the oven for 20 minutes and TA-DA! Our meal was ready. Nothing to it....except some

The meal was delicious and my family raved about how good it was. Tucker acted like he had never had a home cooked meal in his life and cleaned his plate with no hesitation. That's a miracle in itself.

So, while I'm not ready to commit to an every Sunday cooking contract, I will say it was very nice to come home and eat a nice Sunday dinner....and did I mention....I even got a little nap? Maybe that's the reason this idea is sounding better and better....

Do you have a favorite slow cooker meal? I'd love to have a few other easy go-to recipes for the crock-pot. Leave me a comment if you've got something yummy!

Monday, July 23, 2012


Last night our church welcomed us as the new pastor's family....and of course that means there was food...lots of good food. After church we gathered in the Family Life Center for finger foods...and you go:

Pam Carter of The Catering Company and The Lodge in Commerce is also a member of our church and a friend...she made all the sweets at the celebration. In her words....she's never sliced and served a cake so was delicious! Each layer was a different velvet, carrot, white and marble...with butter cream icing. Yummmmmmmyyyy! My kids loved that they each had their own custom layer!

It was such special time of fellowship and getting to know our church family a little bit better. They've been so good to us over the last three years...and yet again last night. 

Thanks CBC for making us feel welcomed again!

Friday, July 20, 2012

How to Fix a Flat

Neither Bruce or I are mechanics. In fact, other than changing a flat and putting gas in my car, I can't do much more than read the gauges...and sometimes that's a little sketchy!

Bruce had gone up to the camp to see our Jr. High kids on Wednesday. He was going to stay overnight and come home Thursday. He took our kids with him for fun and on the way home picked up an extra kid from our church who needed to get home to leave for vacation early on Friday. They were heading home, cruising at 70 mph when they had a blowout.

As you can tell by the tire, this was pretty bad. Tucker said he thought someone was shooting at the car because the noise was so loud. For some reason I think it was a disappointment to realize he wasn't in the middle of a modern day shoot-em-out.

The thing is, they were in the middle of nowhere except for this one little worn out gas station with a restaurant. Thanks God. Then there just happened to be a DPS officer there to help Bruce get the kids into the restaurant and get the tire changed. Thanks God. There also just happened to be was a wheel welder there to help fix the damage to our least temporarily. Thanks God. And the restaurant employees wanted to feed my kids. Thanks Again God!

So, for whatever reason this happened, God took care of each and every detail to protect my family. Sometimes I take for granted all the time we spend on the road. I was reminded again today that so much can happen in a moment's time. Take nothing for granted.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Under Attack!

Ever feel under attack? Bruce and I made a decision years ago that Sunday mornings would not be the enemy's victory ground. You see, even before we had kids Sunday mornings always seemed to be the time that we would argue over small, unimportant, petty....even stupid things. It would be the time where the blow dryer would stop working or the iron would give out or the hem would be out in a pair of suit pants or the power would go out. It just seemed we couldn't make it to church without something terrible or irritating happening.

So, 16 years ago when Bruce started pastoring we decided to figure out a way that this Sunday morning havoc wasn't ruining our attitudes and actions before the day really got started. We started laying out and ironing all our clothes on Saturday nights. We started limiting what we did and how late we stayed out on Saturday evenings. We went to bed at a decent hour. Bruce started leaving earlier on Sunday mornings and I would have the house to myself and the kids so that his mind was at ease and in tune without having to worry about finding kids shoes or a blow dryer malfunctioning.

Sound silly? Well, maybe it is, but it's what it takes for us to arrive at church on Sunday mornings without the traditional fight on the way, or angry looks, or mismatched socks. It just took some intentional planning on our part. It works for us.

Sometimes when fighting the enemy we have to remember that the enemy isn't the spouse or the kids or the blow dryer or iron or _______. It's the prince of darkness...the one who is after your peace and your mind and your hope and your marriage and your contentment and your hope and your Sunday mornings. He wants it....bad. He knows if he can rob Bruce and me of a peaceful Sunday morning, he can distract Bruce from presenting a clear presentation of Christ....he can get him flustered and most of all hinder his worship of the Giver of all good and perfect gifts. The enemy is after you....he hates you.

Take the extra measure of attention to put up the barriers, to fight the good fight, to protect your family. It's worth the odd looks, the inconvenience and the early Saturday nights. Someone asked me once, "so how long are you going to do your Saturday night routine?" I don't know. What I do know is that it's way more important for my family to arrive at the church building in harmony with each other and ready to worship than it is to arrive with a plastered smile, a fake hallelujah and a look that could kill. So if it means we're home every Saturday night until eternity, it's OK with me.

Guard yourself...protect your family, filter your computer, monitor your kids TV (and your own), read your kids text messages if you need to....because your enemy is seeking whom he may devour.

Thanks God...

- For your protection over Savannah while she was at camp last week and for wonderful counselors who took such good care of her!

- For some recent girlfriend time that nourished my heart.

- For an unexpected blessing of a meal paid for while we were out eating recently....and not just our meal, but the meal of the people we were eating with...there were 10 of us altogether!

- For missionaries who share ideas for ministry.

- For golden opportunities to love.

- For your undeniable presence in our church.

- For tears that flow freely out of worship.

- For real fellowship that lingers more than an hour after church is over.

- For hard conversation made easier because you reside in the lives the of hearer and talker

- For music that touches the soul no matter the mood.

- For dreamers and visioneers and hope-filled people who see potential.

- For prayer time with believers who WANT to pray and WANT to hear from you.

- For altars full with heartbroken people who desire to be fixed with the Truth of God's Word.

- For using the broken, the out of sorts, the shy, the misfits and the unsure...along with those who seemingly have it all together...God truly does make Beautiful Things.

The last seven months have been a roller coaster of emotion and hope and doubt and trust and unrest within me. Over the last month its been a relief to have so many unknowns settled for my little family and, in a way, our church. Being in limbo is never fun (or at least not for me). It requires such trust in the God who sees past today. I'm changed because of limbo. My faith and trust in God is strengthened and my hope is secure, not because of ANYTHING I did, but because over and over God was faithful to give hope and purpose to the waiting and the in between.

What's God doing in your life...your family...your church?

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Trusting God with My Children

This week Savannah is at church camp. Without me. Sniff. For weeks she's been looking forward to spending time with friends, away from her brother, being on her own. Until we looked at the weather forecast...and it looked something like this:

If you know her, you know this has been a struggle for a few years now. So, Sunday night we prepared her as best we could and come Monday morning she was good to go. Until she got to camp and it was actually raining and thundering. My heart hurt a little as I heard from one of the counselors that she was a little upset.

Savannah and I talked and through her tears in her throat voice she said she would be ok. Her counselor had prayed with her and that brought some peace to my own heart. I've been thinking about how this week might help Savannah grow in her faith in God. Without me there to comfort her or to help her cope she's having to learn that God is in control and when uncomfortable or nerve wracking things happen around us or to us, we have to learn that God is bigger and can and will help us through them.

 As I was thinking about all that God might be teaching her, God reminded me that this week there was some growth to experience in my own life. What about trusting Him with my daughter while she's 200 miles away? What about being incredibly thankful that there is a group of loving adults there from our church who can help her? What about realizing that there are situations that I can't protect her from and that God can and will use the things we have taught her to help her through them. Do I want to get in the way of all He wants her to learn this week? And then there's the simple fact that if God wants to change the forecast He can and will! My pride has tried to argue with God "But I'm her Mom" and "We're her parents" and "I want to protect her"...and God seems to be saying

"The best way to protect her is to trust me with her."

 So...Trusting God with my daughter will be a week long adventure....with rain in the forecast...I can't wait to see what God does in her life...and mine.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Summer Reading

I've been teaching a summer reading clinic on Wednesday afternoons this summer. At first the kids were less than excited. Read? In the summer? You've got to be kidding me! But as soon as they warmed up to the games, centers, iPad and fun books they were eager to get busy each week. I'm reading the If you Give a Mouse...books and we are having fun making our own predictions!

On a personal note, I'm doing my own reading this summer, mostly ministry driven to get ready for the fall at church.

Discovering the Treasures of a Godly Woman: A Woman After God's  Own Heart Series, Proverbs 31

This book has been out a while but it is by the same author who wrote the James Bible Study we did last Fall. It was a manageable, do-able, toe stomping study. During the teaching time I added information from other studies, dictionaries and commentaries. It was so good...we still talk about it!

And....the ladies version of the Courageous Resolution....The Resolution for Women

The Resolution for WomenOne in a Million: Journey to Your Promised Land
Priscilla Shirer says this about One in a Million

Not sure which one (if any) will make it to the Ladies Bible Study table this September...but I sure am glad to be reading all of them. Really good reads!

Whatcha Reading? Have you done a Bible study that just really spoke to you? I'd love to hear about it!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Happy 4th of July

Tucker (in white) with a posse of boys from church. 

And Savannah (almost 10)

Thankful for the freedom we celebrate today. 

Monday, July 2, 2012

Where God Meets

In a quiet car with a soul sister talking...God met us there. Another time as family gathered to say an earthly goodbye, He was there. As a teenager welcomed Christ into her life, we agreed, His presence was so real. Then there was the late night conversation over hurts and heartache and the joy of a "surprise baby" times two for another friend....He was right the middle of it all.

That's the beauty, heartache or hallelujah, God meets us where we are. Mountaintop experiences may prove to our humanity that He's the creator, sustainer and provider, but there's nothing like a valley to get you completely saturated in the nearness of our God. When He might seem so far, so removed from your hurt and pain and struggle, His presence can quickly scoop you up and cradle you in the strength of His firm embrace.

I'm thankful. Thankful that I don't have to go to a church to sense His closeness. I don't have to have it all together or do anything to make Him closer. I'm thankful His Spirit walks with me every step of every day. In those moments of joy, sadness, defeat and victory, His guidance and comfort remind me that God meets me where I'm at....What a promise!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Outreach Ideas for Vacation Bible School

This year for Vacation Bible School our church did a little something different. Since I'm always on the lookout for new ministry ideas, I figure there might be someone out there that could benefit from hearing what we did.

Instead of crafts this year our kids did outreach activities. Grades 1-6 participated in four activities that will benefit someone else. Our VBS theme was "What's in it for me?"...and obviously we were trying to get them to think of others instead of themselves.

Here's what we did:

Monday: The kids wrapped and boxed 2500 water bottles. We printed labels with the church information...times, programs, contact information... And plan to pass them out at a local July 4th event in our community. We finished nearly 1800 on Monday and completed the rest on Thursday. We boxed them up and took them to a man in our church who has a refrigerated truck and he's cooling them down for us before the event.

Tuesday: We painted a clay flowerpot and planted flowers in each one. The kids were challenged to give there potted plant to a neighbor, elderly person or someone who might be lonely. We heard at least a dozen reports at how people were touched by this act of kindness. Our local Lowe's ordered the pots in bulk for us, so if you need an abundance you might check to see your local stores supply ahead of time.

Wednesday: A few weeks before VBS we started collecting sample/hotel size shampoos, toothpastes, body washes, lotions, conditioners and wash clothes. A local dentist donated several hundred toothbrushes. And we used ziplock bags to assemble 1400 hygiene bags. We donated these to the local pregnancy center, our church food pantry and our local hospital.

Thursday: We closed the week out by purchasing enough fleece to make 30 fleece tie blankets. We bought various colors and patterns to appeal to boys, girls and adults. We donated these to Home Health Care who will distribute them this fall as the weather gets cooler.

The great thing about these outreach activities is that the kids understood the correlation with the lesson time and the activities and had a greater understanding of focusing on others rather than themselves. It was a great week!