Friday, October 31, 2014

With Much Appreciation to the Preacher

Today is the last day of October. Today is Reformation Day commemorating the day that Martin Luther posted his 95 Theses on the church doors. It is also Halloween which is probably what this day is most known for.

But today I wanted to take the time to say Thank You to my Preacher because this is the last day of Pastor Appreciation Month. My appreciation and love for him won't stop after today, I just wanted to include mine here in October with all of the others who have shown their appreciation to their Pastors.

Our congregation has done a wonderful job of showing their appreciation through their kind words and by the work that was done on our house while we were away in Tennessee. 

The first time I heard my Preacher teach I knew there was something different about him. He taught in such a way that you could understand the scripture, he brought the scriptures out of this lofty King James setting and brought them down to our level. We who heard these teachings understood that the scriptures were for us, for the lives we live right now.

I then heard him preach from the pulpit and again there he placed the scriptures and their message right before me so that I and everyone else who was hearing them, could understand that the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob was also the God for us. No longer were we beat down with the fire and brimstone preaching of the past but he showed us that God is the God of love and grace. 

(I also loved the fact that he didn't like to stay behind that pulpit. He needed to come out from behind there to feel like he was more accessible to those who were in the church that day.) 

I love the fact that through his studying and preaching he has tried his very best to show that love and grace to his congregation. No matter what church we have served in, he truly loves the people and wants to be a part of their lives showing them the love of Christ.

He has been my rock through the bad times and has been, and still is, my very best friend. We have been a team from the day we married 30 years ago. He has been the best father he knows how to be. He loves our son so much and has always tried to teach him a foundation that he can rely on.

There have been awesome, wonderful times in leading a church congregation but there also have been those days that you doubt that you can still hear the Lord's calling. Through all of that he is still strong in the Lord. He loves the Lord, he loves the inerrant word of God and I know that is what I love most about him. He is our spiritual leader here in his own household. I couldn't imagine living without him.

Thank you to my love, my best friend and to my preacher!

Love from the Preacher's wife

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Women of Faith

This past weekend I went to the Women of Faith Conference in Denver along with three ladies from my church.

It has been several years since I have gone to the WOF Conference. I chose not to attend or even try to put together a group from my church to attend for a few reasons.

One of the reasons is -- that years ago, one of the last times I attended, was when I was in such a depressed state. I had so many negative thoughts running through my mind. I felt that year maybe if I would attend the conference with a few women from my church, I would hear the amazing speakers and find how to have positive thoughts again. Maybe I could feel good about myself again. During that conference I purchased a necklace at the WOF booth. It is silver with a pink flower on one side and the word "celebrate" on the other. The theme that year was "Celebrate Joy" and I knew that I needed joy, His joy. Unfortunately that weekend did not end the way that I had hoped. I think I was even worse than I had been before attending. I continued to wear the necklace though. I would feel it around my neck and I would pray that the Lord would help me remember that true joy comes from Him.

When I would think of attending in the years after that, my mind would bring back those memories and feelings. I just couldn't get myself to get excited about attending.

 But this year I decided to go. Three women at church came to me and asked if I wanted to go so I decided "let's do it!"  I found myself looking forward to being with these women, I was looking forward to the conference.

Friday evening arrived and we found our seats. The music began and I found myself raising my hands in praise. The speakers on Friday and Saturday were awesome. Many of them were new to me and at first I was disappointed the speakers from past conferences were not there but I began to realize that just as the Women of Faith team had have I!

I'm not the same person I was all those years ago. Through the years, through the pain, through the depression, I began to find Jesus and his joy.  I began to have a more personal relationship with him.

All of this made the weekend even more special. I was able to listen with new hearing and learn so much more.

I still wear my "celebrate" necklace, even though the original leather chain has long since disintegrated, I have put it on new chain and ever so often I rub it between my fingers to help me, on the hard days, to remember to look for God's joy.

I want to thank these ladies for asking me to go with them. Thank you for helping me remember the joy of being with my Christian sisters and praising our Lord together by singing and by hearing His word alongside 6,996 other Women of Faith!

Love from the Preacher and I

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Goodbye Tennessee, Hello Colorado

While I was laying on my cot inside of our tent on the last night we were to be in Tennessee, this thought came to me. In years past, on the last night, I would become very sad, knowing that it was over. 

The National Storytelling Festival would come to an end on the next day and after the last story was told, while the chairs were being packed away and the tents were being taken down, we would pack up our truck and start the long trip back to South Florida, where we used to live. 

On that last night I knew that I did not want to leave those Smoky Mountains, I didn't want to leave the slow pace that the people of Tennessee seem to have down to a science. I didn't want to return to the fast-paced lifestyle that South Florida thrives on. I yearned to stay, I dreamed of the day we could move to the Appalachian hills that were so beautiful during the autumn season.

This year, this trip, I did not have those desires. I realized on that last night, while laying on that cot, I did     not yearn to stay. The Smokey Mountains did not have the same pull on my heart strings that it had in the past.

I'm not quite sure why. Am I finally content here in the slow-paced, northeast corner of Colorado? 

I believe so.

Love from the Preacher and I

Thursday, October 16, 2014

National Storytelling Festival

We began coming to this place 19 years ago. Our son was just 5 months old when we discovered Jonesborough, Tennessee. We have returned here some 14 years now. This is the place our son discovered a tradition.

In this place, in this little town, the oldest town in Tennessee, is where thousands of people come together during the first weekend of October every year. Between the storytellers and the people who come to hear their story's, the entire world can be represented here. And through these people, through these story's, we come together as one.

We are transported to the Choctaw Nation where a little Choctaw girl saves a little slave boy; to the country of Wales to see 'Jack' saving the Squire's daughter from a dragon; to South Carolina to hear about a school principal who knew the name of every child in his school and helped them have the best experience during their elementary years; we ride along on boxcars with the hobos. We are excited to hear the next storyteller, we ask ourselves, "Where will they take us next?"

Tim Tingle
On Friday, the first storyteller was Tim Tingle. Tim was the one who taught the preacher how to play the Native American Flute and helped him develop his storytelling skills. Tim started us off with the Choctaw National Anthem. He asked us to sing it along with him. This was the song that the Choctaw Indians learned from Methodist Missionaries and sang while walking on the Trail of Tears. This song is Amazing Grace. He said he prayed that it would be a blessing for the entire weekend. 

Tim's story's will draw you in, they will make you laugh, then cry and then laugh again.
All of the storytellers will do this to you. No matter what kind of story the tellers tell, no matter if you laugh or cry, there will always be a moral to the story. You will leave knowing that you learned some kind of truth.  Like Tim said in one of his stories, "The path to freedom is always there, even if you don't see it."

We gather in large tents, some placed over pavement, some placed upon grass. The chairs sitting so close to each other that you touch your neighbor's elbow. There could be 600+ people placed under these tents, these storytelling tents, but when the story begins, you forget all of that. You are transported into the story with everyone else. You are on this journey together. Together you laugh, cry, gasp, and sigh all in unison.

There is no place on earth that we have found, that can do this. You are lifted up to another plane. When the weekend ends with the Sacred Stories on Sunday, everyone goes back to their cars and we all know that we have experienced something special. You know that there is no where else that you could have found what you just experienced.

On your way home you savor all of the stories you have heard. You retell your favorites. Then those stories begin to remind you of stories of your own childhood, your own travels, your own school days. There, in the stories, you remember and you begin to tell, there is the end result of the weekend, the lesson the tellers were hoping you would learn.

As much fun as this one weekend is, this is not where we were meant to stay. This weekend is to teach us to never stop telling our own stories, to pass them on to our children, and then to their children. The lesson  was the importance of learning from our ancestors and continuing in these traditions.

So the preacher and I hope that you too, will catch a hold of this truth and go and transport your children to a land far, far away.

Love from the Preacher and I

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Somewhere Safe for 30 Years

Oh, the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person:
having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, 
but to pour them out.
Just as they are -- chaff and grain together, knowing
that a faithful hand will take and sift them,
keep what is worth keeping, and then with the breath
of kindness, blow the rest away.

   -- Dinah Maria (Mulock) Craik, 1826-1887

"To be somewhere safe with somebody be safe with 
you is grace beyond measure"

-- Cynthia / from the book "Somewhere Safe with Somebody Good" Jan Karon

Happy Anniversary to the one I will love forever!

Friday, October 10, 2014

The Laughter Left Her Face But....

While we were in Tennessee last week, we were able to get
together with some very good friends. 

Bill & Melody worked side by side with the preacher and I in the ministry 
here in Colorado before they moved to Tennessee. They actually moved to
the town where the Storytelling Festival is held.
We love them to death and miss them terribly, but we believe that the Lord
has a plan for their lives and we are sure that they have touched
many lives and have shown the Lord's love through the
work they are doing.

We also were able to meet with Alvaro & Dennisse and their boys. 
They are very special people. In Florida we worshiped together, 
we went camping together, we loved going to Cici's Pizza on 
Sunday's for Church After Church. It was so great to get to seem them.
They have purchased an investment property there in Tennessee and were 
getting it ready for renters. We were able to spend just a few hours
with them eating Dennisse's awesome food. She is an amazing 
cook. She and Alvaro love to cook for the preacher and of course
the preacher is in heaven when we get together and break bread together.

There was a line in a story that Tim Tingle told, 
"The laughter left her face but the friendship stayed."
This is how I feel when we get together with these amazing friends.
This is how I felt when we had to say good-bye to our friends.

It is so amazing how the Lord brings us together.
I believe that when you build relationships through the love of Christ
those friendships never die. 

I did a word search and there are many scriptures that talk about 
friendship, but the one that I found fitting is John 15:12-15.
"This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his live for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you." (ESV)
Jesus understands friendships. He wants us to have deep friendships with one 
another, but even better than that, He wants to have a deep relationship
with us. He calls us friend! Just like the song, "I Am a Friend of God" by Israel Houghton
says, "God Almighty, Lord of Glory, You have called me friend."

Think about the friendships in your life. Do you have deep friendships?
Now think about your relationship with Jesus.
Do you call Him your friend? 
Is your friendship with Him a deep relationship?
He wants to have that kind of friendship with you.

He calls you friend!


Thursday, October 9, 2014

Road Trip!

The preacher, our son and I went on a road trip to Jonesborough, TN last week. 

It's was that time of the year again, time for the National Storytelling Festival!

We had not been to the Festival in 3 to 4 years and since this is our last time 
our son will be able to attend with us (at least for a few years), 
we decided to go this year. 

This was also the preacher's "conference" for the year.
We have an amazing church leadership that encourages the preacher 
to go and to continue his education by attending conferences and seminars each year.

The preacher decided to drive straight through in order to get there within 20 hours.

When we were younger and newly married, we worked for a harness racing stable.
We would be in New Jersey in the summer and then move to Florida for the winter. 
When we left from one stable we had to be at the next stable BEFORE 
the horses arrived. The horse trailers drove straight through 
so we too had to drive straight through.

We were young - no problem!

Now 30 years later we are not young anymore. 
Driving straight through is not as easy as it once was. Even with 3 drivers it is not easy.
Our son helped with the driving and he was a big help!

On our last leg of the trip, as we got closer and closer to Jonesborough, 
we were all so excited to be back in Tennessee. 
Excited to hear some amazing storytellers, excited to see the preacher's mentor, Tim Tingle. Excited to learn new stories, hear new tellers, and to learn new storytelling techniques.
(I will talk more about the Festival in another post.)

We were not disappointed. We loved every bit of our trip.
Storytellers did not disappoint. In fact we were thinking this year might 
have been one of the best years.

On our way home we decided to stop and get a hotel room for the night. 
It was nice to be able to stop and rest. The next day driving 8-9 hours, 
we thought we just might not make it. 
The last 3 hours seemed like it took forever.

It was wonderful to spend time with the preacher all to myself.
It was wonderful having this time with our son.

If you have not been able to take a road trip, I highly recommend it! 
Jump in the car with the ones you love and drive!

Road trips can be a such a special time.

Love from the Preacher and I