Sunday, January 27, 2013

How Does Your Garden Grow?

I've bought my gloves, my first seeds, a few containers, soil...and all I'm waiting on is February 1st to get here. My first spring gardening catalog came from Gardener's Supply about two weeks before Christmas. Then my onion seed catalog came the first week in January. And now Neil Sperry's facebook posts are starting to entertain thoughts of spring planting...and it's making me super happy.

Last summer we had to cut down 13 pine trees from our yard. I was sad beyond compare because they were one of the reasons we had bought the house. But the drought of 2010 had damaged them so bad that they were a danger and we had to get them removed. Anyway, now that I've recovered from our loss, I've been eyeing the perfect spot in the yard where a garden would get enough sunlight now. I'm pretty excited.

To add to the excitement are all the ideas you can find on Pinterest and blogs. Here are a few of my favorite ideas for container gardening:

So, in just a few days, I'll be planting. The feel of the dirt between my fingers, the promise of seed bearing fruit in a few months and the anticipatory waiting period...I love it all...well everything but the Texas heat!

Are you planting this spring? Do you container garden, dig in the dirt, buy plants rather than seed? I'd love to hear what works for you!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Pralines Anyone?

Born and raised in the deep south has its advantages. There's nothing quite like GA Fried Chicken, TN BBQ, South GA boiled peanuts, a greasy hamburger from the varsity, a mouthwatering fresh picked GA peach...and I could go on forever. I'm pretty partial to foods from the south. And maybe that's why when it came to choosing a paint color for our living room I was drawn to the warmth of the color praline cake. Think about it. The rich, sugary goodness of a praline. 

Picking paint colors was somewhat of a daunting task for me. The room is huge, filled with good natural light, has a gas fireplace. I've worked to get the right furniture arrangement using what we have for now and think I just about have it the best way possible. We use the room for all our family TV viewing, gaming, homework,'s our comfy room...rarely ever spotlessly clean. I have an old farmhouse table there that's used for everything from laundry folding to homework to extra guest seating when company is over. 

So, I thought I wanted a pretty robin egg blue on the walls...something like

But...after living with a sample on the walls for a month I decided it was too blue. So, I looked at this color...

Nope....just didn't do it for me.

Then I read this article from The Nester. CLICK HERE to read it before you decide on paint....really, go's very informative. And if you have the time...(and I'd suggest that you might want to have the time) follow the links within the article...because it's somewhere in there that I found the answer to my problem. Somewhere within those links I found out I like the warmth of a room to surround me. In other words...I found out what I've known all along....I don't like the beach ( haters please!)...I prefer the mountains...with an occasion lake (thus the attraction to the greenish blue color). I like the fireplace, a good book, flavored cream with a little coffee, Fall and Winter, sunset shadows and earthy warm colors. And why I couldn't settle on a blue???'s because I like warm colors. And while I'm sure there is a blue out there somewhere that would satisfy my cravings for pralines, barn reds, golden yellows and evergreen....I haven't found it! 

Instead, I found this...

Valspar- Praline Cake

...and we love it!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Attention PLEASE!

In a classroom of first graders I watch as they pay attention one second and then just as quickly fade into that beautiful place between day dreaming, sleep watching and distraction. They're six and seven years's almost expected. But not quite.

More times than 10 in a day I caution, encourage or demand that they pay attention. Just because it's nearly impossible for them, doesn't mean I'm allowed to just give up and let them take the first train to dreamland. No, it's my job to continuously nag remind them that something important is being discussed or read or written on the board.

But sometimes, my message is ignored. Sometimes the directions aren't followed. Sometimes, I don't catch the one before the train comes for them. And then...what happens next is near disastrous. It's when the handout requires the knowledge of the material that they missed. The hands raise, they approach the desk, they ask the question which I have just spent 10 minutes answering on the board, and without fail, I give the look. (You know- the one similar to the "mom" look, only from the teacher). And they know...they've been caught. Not paying attention. Not listening. And they've made mistakes on their paper...they know...but they don't know how to fix them. Because that's what happens when you don't pay attention. And so, I explain again why, how, what, when and where to the particular topic and they fix their mistakes and learn the concept and have the power to make better grades.

Oh my! Isn't this just like our own grown up lives. Aren't we really in a lifelong classroom. Trying to pay attention...but distracted by so many other stuff, the neighbors, someone else's family, money, jobs. And all the while God is trying to teach us stuff on the chalkboard of life. But we're looking somewhere else, too tired to see what He's explaining, disinterested in His lesson. And so we miss the truths in the lesson. And the next time we're faced with the worksheet....we don't have the material, the information, the knowledge to implement into life to succeed. And sheepishly (yes, SHEEPishly) we go to the teacher...we admit we weren't listening...and sometimes...He gives us that look of correction.....and then lovingly He goes back over the material...and we apply it and have the power to make better choices and decisions in the future.

Before I judge my first graders too hard, I'm going to try to remember this little lesson. I'm old enough to be paying attention, old enough to read the directions found in His Word and certainly know who to go to when I've got questions about the material of life. Thankfully He's patient with me and knows I'm a little bit of a slow learner. Aren't we all?

Thankful particularly today for His never ending supply of grace and patience with me.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Meal Plan for Wk of Jan 20 we go. This week is going to be crazy because we are having some interior painting done and my guys are out of town until Wednesday afternoon....but Savannah and I still have to eat so we've made a special meal plan while they are gone...(her favorites).

Monday- Leftover Spaghetti
Tuesday- Homemade pizza
Wednesday- Eat at the church
Thursday- Chicken Spaghetti
Friday- Corn Dogs (for the kids)
             Date Night (Bruce and Gina)
Saturday- Sausage/Potatoes/Onions with green beans and salad

Nothing exciting at all...except date night!!!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Holding the Rope

So tonight at about 10pm one of my sweet friends and her family will be on their way to Papua New Guinea to continue following God on their journey to assist in spreading the gospel of Jesus to people in their own heart language. This is their first term. There are lots...and lots of unknowns. But they have faith in a BIG God..that same God who has led them every step of the way...and He will not fail them.

Sunday night in church we were challenged to help hold the rope as our church held a commissioning service for the Brewers. It was beautiful to see the body of Christ praying over them, crying (a lot), rejoicing that this time was finally here, loving on their parents in the service, laughing, letting go, holding on, embracing, taking photos of tear stained faces with smiles and watching as we help send this family to the other side of the world to fulfill God's call on their lives. Again, it was beautiful. God's presence was all over the place.

So, here they are...

Jason and Jaime Brewer Family
From tonight at 10pm until Friday morning around 1am they will be flying to Australia, then to Papua New Guinea and once in the country they will be flying to the city of Madang where they will catch their breath for a couple of days and then head to 4 months of intense training before finally making it to the city of Ukarumpa where Jason will be a pilot for the JAARS/Wycliff associations. He will be assisting in getting translators, Bibles, missionaries and supplies into areas of that country that otherwise would be nearly impossible to reach.

You'll notice the three little munchkins in the picture...Mal, Dylan and Mo are gearing up for their own adventures....Schools, culture, food, language.

As Christians, we all have some level of sacrifice that God has called us to. What God has asked us to give or sacrifice doesn't even begin to touch what we have been given because of His own sacrifice. Like most missionaries I've met through the years, the Brewers are humbly sacrificing relationships, convenience and security to be sure that others know of the greatest sacrifice that has ever been made.

Will you pray with me, for them? Especially for these first few days of travel, time zone craziness (they will travel 16 time zones!), emotions running high and low....just whatever comes to your mind.

You can follow the Brewer's journey at Jaime's Blog HERE

..."We talk of the Second Coming; half the world has never heard of the first." — Oswald J. Smith

Monday, January 14, 2013

When Trust Isn't Really Trust

Sooooo.....we've been talking about FEAR in our Sunday School Class the last couple of weeks. In our group of a dozen or so participants we have every fear imaginable ....loss of family, car accidents, death, not being needed, being out of God's will, messing up this whole parenting thing, frogs.

Yep, in the middle of many could be life altering fears...frogs. That's mine.

Seriously? Why are you so afraid of those disgusting, gross, slimy, wart giving, pee-on-the-spot, nasty  animals? Well, because very early in my life a frog was placed in my hands. It was the ugliest, nastiest looking thing and it must have felt how I was feeling about it and it peed all over my hand. Disgusting. So since then it's not just the feel of the frog or the fear of being peed on, it's the whole experience that I am afraid of. Touching, petting, catching, chasing, holding....ain't gonna happen. I'm afraid.

It's a good thing we have a couple of therapists in our group. (Funny...but true)

In the middle of our lesson this past week our teacher asked us, what could we do to counteract the fear. The class chimed in "TRUST, think about your past experiences, believe God's Word." My answer: "avoid frogs." And pretty much I'm good with my answer. Only, I'm pretty sure that while it's comical to deal with my greatest fear of frogs, I don't think God wants us to live our lives paralyzed by fear of anything....especially the serious issues many of us have trouble trusting Him with.

In fact TRUST is one of the things most of us struggle with. Trusting each other, trusting God, trusting the government, trusting our spouse. Trusting is a huge part of our emotional make-up. But somewhere along the line I've misconstrued what trust is really all about. So many times I've made a decision and because I had rationalized it out, worked the dynamics of the whole situation out, budgeted the finances for it, mulled over every jot and tittle and it all worked out...I'd say proudly that I was stepping out by faith, trusting God to provide, depending on Him to lead me....when in reality that wasn't really trust at all..I'd already told God how this and that were going to work together to get me exactly where I wanted to be. And hopefully it would look like I was trusting God. But it didn't.

But in recent days, I'm figuring out, with God's Word as the guide, that TRUST is more an act of obedience and less an act of me knowing what the next step is. Trust means believing that what God is asking you to do is going to glorify (make Him known) the most. Without knowing the next step...without figuring it out...without knowing how it's all going to work out. It's obeying because He says this is the next thing, the next step, the next way you can glorify ME best.

So I'm learning in this process of sanctification that the old hymn is true...

Trust and Obey
For there's no other way
To be happy in Jesus, 
But to trust and obey.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Meal Plan Week of January 13

Here's our meal plan for this week. We're eating out of the freezer this week for the most part. I have most of these items on hand so that should make my weekly trip to the store much quicker and cheaper.

Breakfast Options:

Blueberry Muffins
Pigs in a Blanket


Baked Chips or Pretzels
Snack- for kids


Meal 1- Turkey Sausage with onion and bell pepper, Green beans, Mac n Cheese

Meal 2- Homemade Spaghetti in Meat Sauce, Salad, Rolls

Meal 3- Chicken, Rice, Broccoli Bake, Salad

Meal 4- Pizza

Meal 5- Chili Dogs, Potato Salad

What's cookin' at your house this week?

Saturday, January 12, 2013

I'm Not Raising the Preacher's Kids

Don't you just love it when you place unrealistic expectations on yourself, or better yet, when others place them on you. I've always been prone to listen to others advice- whether solicited or not. And sometimes, I've taken it to heart, sometimes I've walked away rolling my eyes, and sometimes I've been hurt.

When Bruce and I had children we knew they would not be perfect. How could they be? We were raising them, and we are about the furthest thing from perfect! Surprise, surprise, surprise (in my best Gomer Pyle might need to google that). Imperfect people cannot raise perfect children. So, my kids were destined to be a mess. We prayed that God would give us wisdom and grace to raise them to be godly, that they would know Christ at an early age, fix their eyes on HIM and never look away. I don't pretend that we have even touched the hem of doing it right. We are not finished raising them (are parents ever really finished?)

But one thing I know is that I'm not raising the "preacher's kids" anymore than a plumber should be stereotyped to be raising "plumber's kids". I've done it before- placed unrealistic expectations on people ...only to be sorely disappointed when they fail me. Shame on me. I know I don't want that expectation of raising perfect kids just because they belong to the preacher.....Oh, but wait.....

They don't belong to the preacher. See, way back when the kids were super little, still in our arms, we gave them back to the Lord. Much like Hannah did Samuel. So, they are God's kids. His. Not mine. Not the preacher's. We're the earthly instrument to pointing them toward their Heavenly Father. I'm not trying to raise perfect preacher's kids. I'm trying to guide imperfect children to God. And I will fail. And they will fail. I will make stupid mistakes....and they will and do too. They will do things that make me sad and joyful. They will make me proud and disappointed....and perhaps, if your eyes are on them, you will feel the same. I'm sorry. We are a work in progress.

Thankfully, I don't feel like we are under a micro-scope, like I hear from other ministry friends across the country. Thankfully I feel like grace upon grace has been given to my kids. Thankfully for the most part, they make me very proud. Thankfully God has already captured their hearts.

But, as we make our way in parenting, let's encourage each other. Be another parent's biggest cheerleader. Tell another mom "you're doing it right". Or ask a good mom, "What did you do right?". This world will beat you down and tell you it's not worth it to do this parenting thing with all your heart. But just like that marathon runner who finished their last mile of a race...the work you do in parenting may not be completely realized until the race is complete...or at least further down the road.

Recently I sat at lunch with three teenage boys who travel singing with their father, who is an evangelist. They were the most polite, well spoken, gentlemanly young men I have ever met. At dinner the same night, I sat across the table from a close mutual family friend and asked her what she felt like had been a factor in raising such responsible, godly young men...since in the world today that is so incredibly rare. Her response was that she had watched the parents....Consistently pointing them to Christ. 

That's my goal. Send them to Jesus, point them to Christ. Because I'm not raising preacher's kids.....they are on loan to me....for just a few years.....God's kids, and I want them to know their walk in His steps, to know His voice. That's the goal. Give them Jesus.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

When the Music Fades

Currently on the Christian radio stations there are a plethora of songs that are anthem/ballad style and it's super easy to get my mouth moving, belting out the lyrics without even really thinking about what I'm singing at all. Maybe you've been there...catchy beat, nice rhythm, awesome recording artist, great lyrics....and you find your head bopping, toe tapping, mouth humming, words spilling out...because after all, you know this song. And if you're like me, pretty soon I'm singing about Jesus taking it all, asking Him to bring the rain, raising my white flag. Unintentionally, I'm singing words I've not really thought about.

Because, what if Jesus Brought the Rain.....

Bring me joy, bring me peace
Bring the chance to be free
Bring me anything that brings You glory
And I know there'll be days
When this life brings me pain
But if that's what it takes to praise You
Jesus, bring the rain

Is that what I really want...anything that brings Jesus glory. What if that entails losing something close to me? What if it means losing someone close to me? What if it means I lose my worldly possessions? When the music fades and all your left with is the words, are we still singing with such reckless abandonment?

I'm ashamed to say, I'm not most of the time. Losing people, things, stuff, friendships, jobs, lives, hopes, dreams. That's tough stuff. And often our mouths quit moving. The pain is too deep, the hurt too close, the grief of loss too tender and we become mute. Our praise ends, our worry picks up. Our heart hardens and soon we are singing a different song. One of sorrow and lamenting and worrying and complaining....and one that says Rain Rain Go Away...come again some other day! 

I want the words that sing from my mouth to be words that I'm living. I want my heart to echo complete surrender...waving my white flag high to heaven....even if that means I lose something. How does that happen? Daily, by the minute surrendering to whatever brings Him glory. Whatever....pain, joy, peace, unrest, anguish, sorrow...whatever brings Him glory. And these words are easier to type than to live....just like the words to these anthems we sing in our churches, in our cars, in our homes, in our showers. And that is the reason we surrender. Daily. By the moment. As often as necessary. Even now. This second. Surrender.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013


Today during class my phone double beeped telling me I had a text message. I glanced down to see it was from one the parents of a student from last year....when I taught pre-kindergarten. I waited til the kids left and checked the text when I got back to my room. Much to my surprise it was a video message! Even better.

With Avery's face filling the screen, it went something like this:

"Mrs. Gina, I miss you, I'm in kindergarten, I miss you. My sister is one now and my brother is two. I miss you. I wanted to call and tell you. Bye."

It made my day.

Isn't it nice to be have made an impression on someone's heart that they actually miss you..actually wish there was a way to see spend time with enjoy you? Little Avery knows just a little of what it's like to miss someone. For some reason, today, she misses me. But as we grow older, suffer more losses, we understand more and more what it's like to really miss people.

The same should be true of our Savior. There should be a yearning to be with Him, to enjoy His presence, to spend time with Him, to thank Him for the impression He's made in your life. But, how often do I fill my day so full that at the end, I'm left missing Him? Wondering where He is? Feeling like I have to tell Him how old my brother and sister are because it's been so long since I last communicated with Him.

Thankfully He hasn't moved, He's there...all along. Waiting patiently...missing us as we stay busy and preoccupied with the kindergartens of life. He's still there...and we say to Him "I've missed you Jesus, my days are nothing without you, I miss you, I wanted to tell you, I miss you." And like the prodigal child, arms open wide....He welcomes us.

Thank you Jesus. 

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Leadership - TKD Style

For Christmas, all this girl could eat, sleep and breathe was to be in Leadership at our local Taekwondo studio. She's been taking classes since last spring and has passed all her belt tests with flying, for Christmas she was rewarded with the privilege of being in leadership. What does this entail?

1. She will attend an extra class to develop her leadership skills each week. This is in addition to her 2 classes that she attends for her physical skills/forms/sparring.

2. She will volunteer in classes each week that are lower ranked that her current belt color. Currently she is a green belt, so that allows her to help with Tiny Tigers, white belts, yellow and orange belts. She will get credit for each class she assists.

3. She gets this fancy red, white and blue uniform, a new weapon of choice and plenty of time on the mat to develop into an even more disciplined athlete.

It's exciting to watch her confidence develop as she takes on another challenge. Little does she remember, but when she was five years old we tried enrolling her in Taekwondo in Gunter. She screamed and cried and acted bashful and shy and we ended up dropping out because she refused to participate. What we know now is that Savannah does things at her own pace! She just needed a few years.

Word of caution to anyone who tries to mess with her: She's strong as an ox and fiercely serious about her sport. I wouldn't recommend trying to get the best of her!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Complete Cupcake Foolishness

Today was Bruce's 42 birthday. I had decided that regardless of whether or not he asked for a particular  type of cake flavor I was making cake. He deserves to celebrate. Right? He deserved a special treat. Right? He and the kids love cupcakes. Right? Mom wanted to use her fancy smancy cupcake cups. Right? Oh wait.

It's true. Right after Christmas I hit the motherload of cupcakery clearance sales at T J Maxx. Savannah and I had gone to Rockwall in search of a new dresser for Tucker. We ended up browsing through the shelves at the Maxx and I spotted these:

Because I'm going to go into the cupcake business....Right?

 Why is Valerie Bertinelli designing cupcake liners while on Jenny Craig?

Because big taste comes in mini cupcakes ...
like what I'm making for our ladies Taste of Home Night on Thursday!

 And I couldn't pass up the cuteness of these...butterfly, boots, floral and watering can toothpicks! 

All this goodness marked down to $2 and $3 a package...
and that's what caused me to go into complete cupcake foolishness.

So...I asked Bruce chocolate or vanilla? He said chocolate and here's what he got

Happy Birthday Bruce! 

Some Things Change

The world ends tomorrow...

Ok...well, not really....

But the Christmas Break world ends tomorrow. That's truth.

I'm trying not to mourn away my last day of alarm
...leisure mornings
...late night movies
...Duck Dynasty marathons
...a clean house
...empty laundry baskets

I've been wishing there was a way to keep all those things and get back in the groove and while some of those things just don't make the cut, I am striving to do a little better with others...

...the clean house - we've made a family pact to help keep the house cleaner. Picking up as we use things and a 15 minute tidy-up right before bed will help us. I'm also planning on setting the alarm 15 minutes earlier to make sure dinner preparations are made and laundry is started before I leave the house for school.

...blogging - It is good for my soul. It helps me set goals and most of all it allows me to journal how God is always working on me, in me and thru me. This also allows my own children to one day hear the stories about God's faithfulness, my foolishness, God's grace and my own walk as a woman, wife and mom. Perhaps my imperfections will help them make better choices one day. And maybe somewhere along the way, they will see the greatness of God in all of this.

...staying focused on my goal to be more devoted to the priorities that God has placed in my life for this season could quite possibly change the way I live, blog, cook, parent, play. Isn't that how it should be when God does a work in your life? It should change you. And that's a change I'm happy with.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Meal Plan- Wk of Jan 7-11

I've decided to post our meal plans here again for a couple of reasons:

1. It keeps me on track...If I'm planning ahead and shopping ahead, I know what we are going to eat and there's an answer for the age old question "What's for dinner?".

2. I enjoy surfing the web for meal plans...and there may be some other nut out there that is bored with what they are eating and wants to mix it up...and might need a place for a few ideas.

3. Maybe by me sharing....someone else will share and I'll get some great ideas for more interesting, healthy, easy meals.

One of the things that I am changing is that I am only planning for 5 days. Inevitably we will eat out some and so instead of buying food that is going to go to waste I just decided that I'm only shopping for five days a week. Chances are we will have leftovers anyway so if we need food or get snowed in (yeah, right) or the car breaks down or we have no money....there will still be food.

So here it is:

Day 1-  Cereal or Oatmeal
             Leftovers or Sandwiches
             Salisbury Steak, Mashed Potatoes, Salad and Rolls

Day 2- Cereal or Oatmeal
            Sandwich, Baked Chips, Fruit (Kids get a snack in lunch)
            Ranch Chicken, Rice and Green Beans

Day 3- Cereal or Oatmeal
            Sandwich, Baked Chips, Fruit (Kids get a snack in lunch)
            Church Dinner

Day 4- Cereal or Oatmeal
            Sandwich, Baked Chips, Fruit (Kids get a snack in lunch)
            Beef/Vegetable Stew and Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

Day 5: Cereal or Oatmeal
            Sandwich, Baked Chips, Fruit (Kids get a snack in lunch)
            Baked Potato Wedges and BBQ Chicken Drumsticks

What's cooking at your house this week?

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Easy TN BBQ Recipe

A few (5) years back a generous couple in our church gifted us with a time share in Gatlinburg, TN for a week. Since TN is my birth state and I had been dying to get Bruce to spend some time there and convince him that there was a state as beautiful as Colorado, I was ecstatic! We decided to take two weeks off and got away to Chattanooga for one week and Gatlinburg the other. We booked for the first part of November and the leaves were at their prime, the temperature was perfect and Dollywood was already decked out for Christmas....what more could we ask for? Wanna see more? Look HERE

Good Food.

Yep. We made a pact before we left that we would eat at unique restaurants as much as we could. We hit up a place where we were introduced to the Chattagooey....a finger lickin' good sandwich with smoked pimento cheese....yummo! But, our favorite sandwich was this sweet TN BBQ sandwich we ate at a little whole in the wall place in Gatlinburg. Of course, it's a secret recipe, but here's my close as I can get it to the real thing. And it's easy and delish!


1 Pork Roast (boneless or not)
salt and pepper
1 cup brown sugar
2 onions chopped
Baby Ray's BBQ Sauce (Brown Sugar)

Place roast in slow cooker and add other ingredients except sauce. Cook on medium for 8 hours. Drain excess juice off meat and pull apart. Then return to slow cooker. Add 1 bottle of BBQ sauce. Cook for 1 more hour.


Green Bell Pepper- sliced
Onions- sliced
olive oil
Texas Toast

In a skillet, saute' peppers and onions in olive oil til very soft.

Bake bread according to package.

On one piece of bread, pile pork and top with onion and peppers. Top that with another piece of Texas toast.

I'll love it!

Friday, January 4, 2013

On Being the Pastor's Wife

I rarely talk about the stress of being a pastor's wife. My main reason? Because I am truly so incredibly, almost indescribably thankful that God has called Bruce and I to serve Him this way. Hopefully, I would be just as thrilled and thankful if He had called me to do something else....because I don't really believe one job is more important than any other if you're totally willing to do what God wants you to at that job.

However, I do believe there are stresses involved in ministry that (humbly speaking) only other people in the same shoes as you can fully understand. I would also say, this is true for whatever job you have. For instance, the stay at home mom has stresses that no one understand except others who also stay at home full time. The garbage man has to meet deadlines and deal with issues we don't even know about. We often find ourselves wishing for different roles, but let's be honest, every role involves it's own stress, deadlines, time restrictions....

I was looking at a few blogs the other days trying to find the right Bible study for the ladies at my church this winter. In my searching I came across this article about a pastor's wife who had committed suicide just days ago.  It broke my heart. On the outside, everything looked fine, people believed she could change the world, she was successful, a mom, a grandmother, business owner, creative pastor's wife. And as I sat there reading, I thought of the many women I know that are juggling the weight of the world or their family or their church or their business on their shoulders....and realize how quickly it can all change.

I don't know what prompted this pastor's wife to commit suicide. I don't have to know. What I do know is that sometimes, in ministry and other places, people can be mean, the enemy can feed us lies, we can believe them, the burden of keeping up a spiritual appearance can be more than we can handle, we can get depressed, discouraged and completely consumed with negative, destructive thoughts. And those thoughts lead to actions...and sometimes even death.

Thankfully Jesus Christ is the answer to all those overwhelming thoughts that can consume us quickly. His Word provides every single answer that we need to overcome this world. Yes, counselors help (my mom is a great one) but she will tell you in a heartbeat, the root of all these negative actions is our own sin or the consequences of someone else's sin. The enemy wants us to get bogged down and discouraged and depressed and overcome. And in ministry...where you give of yourself, your time, your talents and your husband and yes, even of your children, it can become too much.

My heart aches for the many people I know that have been hurt in ministry. Imperfect people, who at some point in their lives felt God asking them to surrender all and go, preach, baptize and make disciples for Me, feed My sheep, take up your cross and follow Me. It's sad to watch them walk away from that call, that commission, that zeal they once had.

But what can we do? I have no real answers...on suggestions...but maybe if we become a more loving, caring body of Christ, that extends God's grace to those in leadership and those in the pew. Not ignoring or turning the other way when we need to address sin, but lovingly facing each other in agape love, shoulder to shoulder, iron sharpening iron, building up and strengthening each other, not esteeming ourselves higher than the other. Growing, learning and loving. Maybe if we have a sensitivity to the Holy Spirit's leading in our lives to say an encouraging word, extend our arms to hug each other, offer a shoulder to cry on or lean on. Maybe we would see more people totally willing and excited about giving their all to Christ's service.

And for those in ministry, my heart screams out sometimes to CHEER UP! God could have called anyone to do your job but He called you! Be excited about what God is doing around you. Be in love with the Savior. Let people know He's the greatest thing that has ever happened to you. Be glad that your job happens to be helping care for the sheep....the beloved sheep...the bride of Christ....the church. What a responsibility to take hold of! Look at life through eternity's eyes. Don't be easily offended or you'll never make it! Give people room to mess up...after all isn't that what we all want...a little grace? Be REAL.....and smart. Let people know you're human but be smart enough to realize some will use this against you. Let the joy of the Lord be your strength. He's strong...He can carry you...your burdens, your failures, your children and spouse, your thoughts.....all of it. He's got it.

As for this family who has suffered such loss. I'm praying that someone close to them is being the body of Christ during this gut wrenching time. No matter the circumstances, she was a mom and a wife and a grandmother who leaves behind people with questions and heartache. May God's peace envelope them.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

What I've Loved About Christmas Break

I think more than any other time before I have enjoyed this Christmas Break...and being a creature of routine this has surprised me just a bit.

I've loved...

1. Spending time with my family (of course)

2. Sleeping in (of course...although that has a different meaning since I have Early Bird Tucker)

3. Mapping out some plans for remodeling out dated bathroom and picking out colors for painting our den.

4. Playing games with my kids...they are finally old enough not to get bent out of shape when they lose...makes gaming much more fun!

5. Cooking/Baking more

6. Cleaning the house from top to bottom and getting rid of stuff we don't need.

7. New Years Eve text party with girlfriends....our hubbies just thought they could keep us apart! LOL!

8. Watching Christmas movies

9. Celebrating Christ's birth with church family, my class, my family, our community.

10. And ....SNOW!...on Christmas Day!

It's been wonderful....and I really don't know how I can get back in the routine of school in 5 more days....oh well....I'll figure that out when it gets here!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

The Belly of the Whale

Jonah 2:6 says, But you, Lord my God, brought my life up from the pit.

I woke up thinking about Jonah today. His story resounds loudly with my own as I think of my own life journey. Knowing the right thing to do and yet, somehow thinking I can outsmart God, buy a ticket to someplace else, get on a boat, where surely God won't find me, cause a big mess (storm), get thrown overboard and then have a heart to heart with God.

At the start of a new year it's easy to get caught up in all the regrets, the past mistakes, the roads less traveled, the diets undone, the money wasted, the time released. Just like Jonah....all those things that we know we should've and could've done, all those commands from God that we ignored, all those things that would have brought Him glory that we ignored for our own selfish's easy to get bogged down in the reflection of failure we see when we look in the mirror. And that's what the enemy wants.

But the truth is...the Lord my God has brought my life up from the pit. Even without being spit out of the belly of the whale, Jonah knew God had brought Him up from the pit. He claimed the promises that He already knew about His God, while He was at the lowest point of His the churning belly of the nasty whale. He remembered what God had done for Him in the past. The constant God, the faithful God, the one who was strong enough to bring His life up from the pit.

I think that's my greatest defense these days...Remembering who God is, what He's done in the past, recalling how He has brought my life up from the pit.  Rejoicing in the faithfulness of a God who isn't finished with me, who has a plan for this life, who loves me....loves me....loves ME.

Isn't that the greatest gift?...His love. It encompasses every other attribute He has...His grace, His forgiveness, His compassion. It's that love that brings my life out of the pit. It's that love that helps me look forward instead of backwards and it's that love that gives me hope that He has a plan for my future....just like my past....and He's already done so much with my life I can't imagine what else He has in store.

That belly of the whale isn't a place I want to go back to....and that's not where God intends His redeemed, reconciled, justified children to live. So I'm rejoicing in my rescue from the pit and pray that God will keep my heart and mind fixed on His Son, His love and His plans for the future.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

The To Do's

I've been wanting to make a home binder for a while...a central place where all things home related could be found. I began searching blogs and pinterest for free printables that might meet my needs and what do you know....I found everything I needed to get organized for the new least on paper.

Bill Pay Schedule

Menu Planner

Weekly Goal Setting 

Really Cute Monthly Calendars

Family Contact Sheet

Monthly Cleaning 

Grocery Check List

52 Weeks to an Organized Home 

Customizable Cover Sheet

I found these sheets at Money Saving Mom and at The Organizing Home Life websites. I just went through and picked out the ones that I needed. There are many more printable sheets that I did not print out...budgeting, address sheets, chore charts...and more.

So, after a morning of getting the binder all together, I spent part of the afternoon making our favorite New Year Meal... Chili. I had some ripe bananas so I made some homemade banana bread to put in the freezer for a rainy day. Bruce is feeling under the weather still so the kids and I hung out in the den watching Christmas movies and playing games. I'm loving this break from all things routine!

Happy New Years Day! 

Year in Review 2012

Here are the highlights from our year:

January- Our senior pastor or 27 years resigned from our church and Bruce submitted his resume to be considered as a candidate. We said goodbye to good friends who moved to NC to finish up training with JAARS. 

February- Savannah and Bruce went to a Father Daughter dance and had a great time. They share such a special bond. We had our Missions Conference at church and I was blessed to meet and get reacquainted with truly beautiful people who are sharing Christ around the world.

March- We spent Spring Break in Georgia and had a wonderful time just enjoying the beauty of the deep south. The kids enjoyed playing with their cousins and the puppies. Sissy took us to a huge trampoline gym and the kids had more fun than they could have imagined. We enjoyed a trip up to NC to see The Brewers since we were so close. Traveled back through my birth state...TN and enjoyed the gorgeous blossoms on the trees and flowers. Savannah started taking Tae Kwon Do with Tucker. 

April- Easter and preparations for end of the school year were underway. Welcomed home missionary friends from Peru. 

May- Tucker graduated from Kindergarten and we finished up the school year with a Fun Day with bounce houses and parachutes and snow cones. Super fun.

June- both kids earned their new belts for Tae Kwon Do, we did VBS at church. Bruce candidated at the church for the pastorate and was voted in at 99%. God taught us gobs during the waiting process.

July- Savannah went to church camp, Bruce and Tucker went to visit her at camp and I wasted 2 days of my life watching 3 seasons of Heartland. We spent 2 days away with our church staff for staff was a God-anointed time. 

August- Made another trip to GA. Mom and I toured the Southern Living 2012 Home and enjoyed some girl time. We also took a trip to Lake Lanier with my brother, sister in law and niece and my sister and Mom and Tom. Three glorious was the best thing in the world we could do! I turned 40 and the ladies at church threw me a hilarious surprise party. Savannah turned 10 and we took a Mother Daughter trip out of town with Debbie and one of Savannah's friends. 

September- School started teaching 1st grade, Tucker in my class and Savannah doing work in Mrs. Ali's class. I also was blessed to begin teaching a Wednesday night small group of women. We worked our way through Priscilla Shirer's Resolution for Women. God began doing some work in my life during that study. Both kids advanced to the next belt rank in TaeKwonDo. Bruce shared his vision (God's really) for the church for the next 18 months. 

October- We had our Fall Festival at church. It was a great time of outreach. Bruce's dad was diagnosed with stage 4 lymphoma. He had his first chemo.

November- Women's Night of Worship, Friend Day at church with Daves Highway, Bruce dad was hospitalized, Mom and Tom came early for Thanksgiving to help with kids, Bruce's Dad passed away right before Thanksgiving. Hard month. God was with us each step of the way...and our incredible, loving church family ....words fail me....

December- Christmas festivities at church and school. Savannah went with Debbie to see the Rockettes, Tucker rode his first bronco bull. We took the kids to Prestonwood's Gift of Christmas and they loved it. Enjoyed a night out with some girlfriends.  Tucker turned 7. We took the kids to their first hibachi grill. Savannah and I got the flu for Christmas. We enjoyed seeing Scott Anderson and having the Erwin family with us for our last Sunday in 2012.

And through it all...God was faithful. And He will be in 2013 because that's who He is. Faithful. Always. Always. Always.

Happy New Year!