Friday, December 30, 2016

Who Are the Extra-Ordinary People?

Uncle Larry
This past week the social media, as well as the television news channels, have put together montages of all the celebrities that have passed away this past year. People make comments about how sad it is to lose so many talented people in one year. They might also make comments about how good or inspiring this or that person was, although they may not know who that person was in the everyday. They are only speculating about their goodness or inspiration through some movie they starred in or a song that inspired and influenced them.

Usually I don't pay that much attention to all the celebrity hype. I don't follow movie/television stars or singers. It doesn't matter to me who they date or what they may be saying about the political process.

However, I think that maybe it shocks people to think that this person they have admired for so long, this person who has played a certain inspiring role on the big screen, this person who has sung the most beautiful love song, this person has died. How can that be?

Then I began to think about those whom the Preacher and I have lost within this past year. The Preacher lost his little sister and just this week I lost my uncle, my mother's little brother. Where is the montages of their lives? Why are their deaths not announced on the television news?

It is because they were just ordinary people. The little people. The people who live in fly-over country. That's what the media might say. But in our hearts, they were extra-ordinary. Their lives were not little and they lived here with us in this beautiful fly-over country. They were good people, they did things in their lives that inspired others. Maybe they didn't inspire the whole nation but they inspired their families.   

My uncle was a kind-hearted person. He was only 10 years older than me. My grandparents waited 10 years between their first two children and their last two children. He was funny and he had a great smile. I remember him so well. My brother and I used to stay all night with my uncle and aunt - we enjoyed being with them so much.

Unfortunately, the Preacher and I were not able to go back to Indiana to attend either one of our family member's funerals, but that doesn't mean that the loss is any less. We both have shed tears for those who we consider the bright stars in our families.

Death does come. It will come for us all. It doesn't matter who or what you have done or are doing in your lives. It doesn't matter where you live or how much money you make. What we can know is that through Christ there is a beautiful life after this one. It says in Revelation 21:4, "He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." Our loved ones went on to be with the Lord this year and we know that they both are in pain no more.

So, when we look back upon this year and remember the celebrities who have passed on, don't forget that there may have been even bigger stars in our families that we have lost, and maybe we should be celebrating their lives during this last week of 2016.


Love from the Preacher and I


Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Are You a Christian Grinch or Do You Celebrate With Christmas Pigs?


In November of this year, the Preacher and I went to Lowe’s Hardware store to look for some items we needed for the house. We walked through their Christmas section where we discovered all kinds of lights, wreaths, trees, all the things you would normally see displayed at this time of year. But the one decoration that made me laugh was the blow-up Hawaiian snowman with a lei around his neck. I pointed the snowman out to the Preacher and we decided that if we were still living in Florida we would definitely have to have that in our yard. And then I began to think just how silly this sort of thing is, putting blow-up snowmen in your yard. The judgmental part of me was coming out.

At the beginning of December, I was driving out of our housing division, when I came across our neighbor’s Christmas-decorated yard. I looked at the two animal-like creatures and wondered to myself, “Are those pigs or dogs?” I wasn’t sure, but upon closer look they were pigs! I immediately thought that they were so silly. What do pigs have to do with Christmas!? I caught myself becoming a little judgmental again.

What I was really thinking was “Don’t these people know that Jesus is the reason for this holiday?” Then I suddenly realized I was being a Christian Grinch.

I began to look around our little town. I saw all the decorations that are placed in yards, in the front of businesses, in our public park, and I realized something – Me being judgmental, and maybe a little angry, doesn’t further His Kingdom at all!

I decided to take a fresh look at the Christmas season. We need to look at how Jesus is in this season, whether people know it or not.

Take a look around you. You can see Jesus every where in this season. Many think that the candy cane represents Jesus’ purity, His blood on the cross and the shape represents a Shepherd. Also, many believe that the cutting of the Christmas tree was a symbolism of His death and resurrection. Then there is Santa Claus, Old Saint Nick. Originally, he was a monk who sold everything he had and gave to the poor. He became known as the protector of children. Through this symbolism comes the tradition of giving presents to family and friends.

Why do we need to be irritated when someone says Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas? We usually don’t know that person well enough to judge them on the reason that they have chosen to not say Merry Christmas.

In our irritation over the world not recognizing that this is the season we celebrate Jesus’ birth, we are not showing Christian love. All we are showing is our piousness and legalism.

Celebrate this season. Celebrate it with His love. Celebrate the look on children’s faces when they see a lighted Christmas tree and a house all lit up with blow-up Santa’s and snowmen. Celebrate a child’s wonder when his mom or dad places him on the lap of a Santa Claus. Celebrate the light and the joy that the Christmas season brings to the cold winter days.


And don’t forget to celebrate the Christmas pigs!

Love and Merry Christmas from the Preacher and I

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Pumpkin Dump Cake Recipe

Last week we invited some friends over for an early Christmas dinner. We knew they would be leaving soon to visit family in Florida, so we wanted to have them over to exchange gifts and to wish them a Merry Christmas.

For Christmas, our son had ordered a set of Le Creuset dishes and pans for the Preacher. We had received the pans just the week before so the Preacher wanted to make something in the casserole dish that came with the set. 

After we made plans with our friends, the Preacher and I began to put together our menu. He wanted to bake a ham with potatoes and carrots. I wanted to make a dessert using the mini cocotte dishes from the set of Le Creuset. Of course, I went to Pinterest to find a recipe.



I found a recipe for a pumpkin dump cake. I love dump cakes. They are so easy to put together. I have been making them for my family through out the years because, besides chocolate chip cookies, they are my son's favorite dessert. So when I came across this recipe I knew I had to make it for our friends.

I thought I would share it here with you. If you are having friends and family over for the holidays, this is an easy quick recipe that I'm sure they will love.

In the original recipe she adds pumpkin spice, but the Preacher does not like pumpkin spice, so I left it out. I also made individual desserts in the mini cocotte dishes, so instead of using a 9 x 13 pan, I used the 4 individual dishes and then finished the rest of the mixture in an 8 x 8 pan. I will list the ingredients and instructions on how I made mine. But please click on the link above to see the original.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 box yellow cake mix
  • 1 can (16 oz.) pumpkin
  • 1 can (12 oz.) evaporated milk
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/2 c sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 c chopped walnuts (optional)
  • 1 c melted butter
  • whipped topping

DIRECTIONS:
  • Preheat the oven to 350F. 
  • Grease the bottom of a 9x13 pan (or the bottom of the size of baking pan you choose to use)
  • Combine pumpkin, evaporated milk, eggs, sugar, and salt in a bowl, then pour into your pan. Since I was using the cocotte dishes, I used a measuring cup to pour the mixture into the individual dishes, filling them 3/4 full.

  • Sprinkle the dry yellow cake mix evenly over the pumpkin mixture
  • Sprinkle the walnuts over the cake mix. 
  • Drizzle the melted butter evenly over everything. (I just cut the butter into pats of butter and laid them right on top of the cake mix and the walnuts.)
  • Bake your pumpkin dump cake for 55 minutes  until the top is turning golden brown(if you are baking in individual pans you might want to check on them in about 40 minutes) . Let cool and serve with whipped topping. (We used the heavy cream to make our own whipped topping.)

The dump cake turned out so sweet and moist and crunchy on top. I hope you, your family and friends enjoy the recipe! Let me know how you liked it.

Love from the Preacher and I 

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

My Father Is A Preacher

While the Preacher and I were rummaging through boxes of our son's old school files, we came across a paper that he had written for Language Arts in the ninth grade. I thought I would share it with you today.


My father is a Preacher but teaching on Sunday's is not his only task. Being a Preacher is only the title that opens the door for multiple ways to help others and telling them of the word of God.

1. My father as a Preacher
A. Presentation for a sermon: My father spends many hours preparing his sermon referring many times to commentaries and bible verses.B. Baptism: As the Preacher, my father is responsible for baptizing the people of the church. 
II. My father as an Elder 
A. Leading the church: My father must lead the church as an Elder by making financial and schedule based decisions.B. Preparing devotions: As an Elder, my father must also lead devotions and small groups. 
 III. My father as a counselor
A. Talking with people: As a preacher, my father must not just preach to the people but also counsel them in their faith and other things. B.   Praying for people: As a counselor and preacher, my father has to be someone who people can go to for prayer.
As a Preacher, my father has a plethora of tasks and positions to enact, but as a Preacher he has accepted that all of these are the will of God and that as a Preacher, it is his job to surrender his heart and life to these tasks.


While reading this paper, I had just a little tear in my eye because as a young man, I think he understood the role of his father, the Preacher.

Love from the Preacher and I





Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Who Will Counsel the Counselor?


The Preacher has a small office in a building just a block from his church office. This little office is located in a large building that has various business offices, a hair salon, a dance studio and conference rooms. It is tucked away in a corner just as you enter. On the Directory it is listed as 1205 - Christ-Centered Counseling. Inside is a sofa, a leather chair and a very small desk. It is small but cozy. 

The Preacher has tried to make it a welcoming place for people who need some counsel. And even if the main building doors are locked in the evening, his office will be opened at all hours when someone calls.

The Preacher works with people who need just a little help with some decisions. Those who need help with family troubles. Those who are trying to get over the loss of a loved one. Those who are so down that they need to know their life matters. 

In that tiny office he has witnessed laughter, sadness, confusion, tears, enlightenment and despair. He has seen and been through it all with people who he truly cares for. 

Sometimes the only people who are in that counseling office is the Preacher and I. Often the Preacher will use that office for a quiet place to read and study. So when I know he doesn't have any counseling scheduled, I will drop in on him just to see how he is doing and maybe to discuss the days plans. We never speak of the people that he sees in this little office. The words that are spoken in that office with the Preacher stays between them and him.

Sometimes the Preacher needs a shoulder to cry on too. He is not immune to this life's struggles, just like all those he helps. So I sit and listen. I listen to his sorrows. To his worries. To his what-ifs. I listen to his why's. I listen to his dreams and hopes. We cry together and we laugh together. And we pray together. The counselor needs to be heard too. When these times come I will always be here for him.

Love from the Preacher and I

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Thankful


"We only enter into the full life if our faith gives thanks. Because how else do we accept His free gift of salvation if not with thanksgiving? Thanksgiving is the evidence of our acceptance of whatever He gives. Thanksgiving is the manifestation of our Yes! to His grace."                                                                                                Ann Voskamp

"In everything give thanks, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."                                                 I Thessalonians 5:18 NASB

 

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

DIY Chalkboard Lettering


The Preacher and I were sitting, watching TV one evening. Well he was watching TV and I was scrolling through Pinterest. I came across a Pin (click here to see the pin) that I thought was very interesting, so I clicked on the Visit button to see what it was all about. It was titled DIY Perfect Chalkboard Lettering. On the site (click here to visit the site) she had a video of how to transfer lettering to a chalkboard.

I wanted to try out this new technique, but I had to think of something to write on a chalkboard. Then it came to me. Our church is in the beginning stages of a new building project and the committee had used Ephesians 2:21-22 for their scripture. Also, they are using one of the walls at the church to display pictures and things of interest. I knew that I could hang the final product on that wall.

I thought I would share with you how I did it. First, I decided to paint an old canvas that I had, with chalkboard paint. You can get the paint at any hardware store.



I typed out the scripture verse that I wanted on my computer and picked out the different fonts and enlarged it as I thought would be best for the canvas. I then printed them out onto regular copy paper.

Second, you cut out your words and fit them onto your canvas (you can do this on a piece of wood also) to make sure that everything fits.

In the above picture I had placed each word down with a piece of tape.

After you have your words exactly where you would like them, take each one off one at a time. Turn the paper over and with a piece of white chalk rub the back of the paper making sure to get it over all of the lettering.


When you have the paper completely rubbed down with chalk, place it back onto your canvas/board taping each one down so that they won't move around on you during the next step.

Next take a pencil or pen and outline all of the letters. This will transfer the lettering onto the black chalkboard.


After you have all of your lettering transferred take off all of the papers and go over all of the lettering with a chalk marker.  

I found my markers at Michaels
After you have gone over all of the lettering with your marker you can take a soft, dry cloth and rub off any of the excess chalk.



 And then you are done! And here is the finished product on the wall at our church.



If I have completely confused you, please email me with any questions you might have or click on the above link to see the original site where I found this technique.

Love from the Preacher and I





Tuesday, November 8, 2016

The Preacher Walks Into the Deep Waters To Love


Early in the morning the Preacher received the family's call. The woman who called wanted to let the Preacher know that her mother-in-law was on her death bed and was asking for prayers for her husband's family. Death would be coming at any time. The Preacher told me that we must go to see this family, to be with them in their time of need.

The nursing home, where the family was waiting, was not very far from our town. I told the Preacher that I would drive him and when we arrived that I would stay in the car and read a book and wait on him.

You see, I don't do well in nursing homes, especially when the person is in a bad way. I blame this on my mother. If she couldn't find a babysitter she would take us to the nursing home where she worked. She would leave us in the common living room with all of the 'old people'. To a young girl these people were scary. The people were sitting in their wheelchairs, some strapped in, were sleeping with mouths wide open, some would be yelling or screaming at nothing and others would drool getting their shirts soaking wet. Watching this was a very scary experience!

The Preacher and I arrived at the nursing home. I tell him again that I will stay in the car and wait. He says to me, "No, come in and say hello to the family." We were greeted by the family who were sitting in the common living room. After we exchanged "how are you's", we were escorted into the mother's room. More family members were surrounding her bed. The mother asleep, mouth wide open, trying to grasp this life's final breaths.

Me, I'm looking for a way out of the room, but the Preacher, he takes a seat right next to the sleeping mother and begins rubbing her shoulder ever so tenderly. Then he begins to ask the family questions about their mother. Questions like – how many children did she have, where did she grow up, where did she attend church, what did she like to do. All of the children began to tell stories of their mother and they began to show us pictures and some paintings that she had painted herself years ago. Their eyes brightened as they went back to a place of remembering.

The Preacher asked if he could say a prayer for the family before we left them. We all bowed our heads but the Preacher reached over and spoke the prayer words directly into the mother's ear.

The family thanked us for coming and we left to go about our day of living. Later that evening we heard that the mother, in the afternoon hours of that day, had taken her last breath and left this world to suffer no more. 

I began to think of how wonderful this man is, the Preacher. He too is not crazy about these types of visits, but unlike me, he doesn't look for a way out. He walks head on into the dark waters of fear. He is compassionate. He loves people and that love overtakes any uneasiness that he may feel.

I envy this. This love. This Jesus kind of love. I do pray that someday, I too, will be able to put behind my fears so that I can walk head on in and love like this.


Love from the Preacher and I

Friday, November 4, 2016

DIY at the Preacher's House

October went by very fast! Probably because we attended the National Storyteller's Festival and whenever you take a trip away from your normal everyday duties, time just seems to fly by. (I posted a little about the trip here)

Also I was given a chance to be a guest blogger on Elaine Mingus' blog, radicalchristianwoman.com, and you can see my post by clicking here. Elaine had asked for a post on alternative ideas for Halloween. I had told her of a conversation my son and I had when he was 4 or 5 years old and she asked if I could put that in my post.

Now it is November and I'm sure this month will go by just as fast with the holidays approaching us. But that is okay with me because I just found out that our son should be back in the states soon, so the countdown is on!

I thought today I would show you a couple of DIY's that I did last week. 

This little curio type cabinet has been hanging in our garage since we purchased our home in September of 2015. The previous owners had been using it to store tools and paint. It was a little dirty and banged up a bit but I thought maybe I could clean it up and use it.


So after cleaning and scrubbing the oil and dirt off of it, I decided to place it on our gas fireplace and use it to showcase some of our pictures. But I thought it looked a little bland. I saw on a shelf in the garage, a can of blue spray paint so I got an idea. Why not paint the back of the shelves? That would make it pop.

I had to spray the paint into a bowl and used a foam brush. Here is a tip - don't use a foam cup for the spray paint, the foam disintegrated right in my hands and paint went onto the garage floor. I was nervous to explain this to the Preacher but he was okay about it and helped me clean it up. Maybe you already knew that, I think I knew that too but didn't listen to myself.

I love the way it turned out! 

My second project was to transform this lamp.

I have had this lamp for a long time and thought about buying a new one to put in our son's room. But I found lamps can be a little pricey. I remembered I had some left over chalkboard paint and so the light bulb went off in my head. I will spray paint the lamp! 

I roughed up the lamp with some sandpaper and cleaned it up. I then taped off all of the working parts with painter's tape. And then I gave it 3 coats of chalkboard spray paint. Of course, letting it dry in between each coat.

I found a new shade for it at Ikea and I love it! Now you can say whatever you would like to who ever is staying in the bedroom.

I hope you enjoy these very easy DIY tips!

Love from the Preacher and I


Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The Good Spreads Out, Where No Telling It Will Go

     
"Granma said when you come on something good, first thing to do is share it with whoever you can find; that way, the good spreads out where no telling it will go. Which is right."   – Forrest Carter, The Education of Little Tree
      The Preacher and I discovered the National Storytelling Festival in June of 1995. The Preacher was working as a youth minister in a church in Florida, when we took the youth group to a CIY conference at Milligan in Milligan College, Tennessee. One day, while the kids had a break, we took them to downtown Jonesborough, Tennessee, the oldest town in Tennessee. While walking around the town the Preacher and I happened upon an old hotel that had all kinds of posters that were advertising the Festival. We walked in and immediately we were hooked. We had walked into the Storyteller's Headquarters. We began to ask all kinds of questions, especially the when and where questions. We found out that the Festival was to take place that October and right away we began making plans.

     We went to our first Storytelling Festival when our son was just 6 months old. We could not get enough. There were men and women from all over the world telling stories after stories that made you laugh and cry. We knew right then and there that two things were going to happen. One, we were going to attend every year and, two, we had to share this with as many people as we could.

    Throughout the last 21 years we have gone back to get filled up with the thing that only the Storyteller's Festival can give – a renewed love of the art of storytelling. Throughout those 21 years we have been spreading the good out to our family and friends. 

     This year we went back and the first teller was up on the stage. He was about to tell. He was someone we were familiar with and we couldn't wait to hear what stories he had to tell this year. After he was done I told the Preacher that I was a little disappointed because the teller's story just seemed to fall flat. A little while later, after hearing a few more tellers, I figured out what was wrong. It wasn't the teller who was flat, it was me. 

     A sadness had taken me over. It hit me that the people that we loved and cared about was not there to enjoy the Festival with us this year. We had spread the good out to our families; to our mother's, to the Preacher's sisters, to his nieces and to our families from our church and especially to our son. They were not there to enjoy this special time. I told the Preacher of what I was feeling and he realized this too. We began to count how many people we had shared this with and how many of them have now gone on to be with our Lord. And those that are still among us, are not able to attend. For the first full day of the Festival I couldn't get the sadness out of my mind.

     For the rest of the weekend, when we had a chance, we would tell stories of our loved ones that had come to partake in the storytelling. We laughed and we cried but we kept them alive with our stories.

     Don't forget to tell your stories. You don't have to be a professional storyteller to tell. All you have to do is say to one other person..."Remember when...." and you've got a story to tell. Spread the good and let it spread out to no telling where it will go.

Love from the Preacher and I

Friday, September 9, 2016

Proudly Standing Up


I'm not one to publicly vent my political views but in light of some of the protest against this Nation's flag, I have decided to share some of my thoughts on the matter.

I had seen a picture of the first football player kneeling at a game a week ago and then I saw another athlete a few days later do the same at their game, and then last night I see a person kneeling at the first game of the football season. In my mind I wanted to turn off the television and not even watch the game, but it was the opening game and why would we let this person ruin our evening. 

This flag means something very special to us. It represents, not only the freedom we have here in this country, but also the lives of so many men and women who have fought and died for that freedom. They died so that these athletes can kneel if they want to. They died so that we can have the freedom to say your opinions in an open forum. And yet so many people do not understand that sacrifice that these men and women had to endure.

And it is not just the soldiers themselves who sacrifice. The Preacher and I are Blue Star parents. That means that we have a son in harms way in a war or during a time of hostility. We do not have the luxury of having our son here with us to sit and watch a football game in the comfort of our living room. We do not have the luxury of being able to pick up the phone and hear his voice at any given time during the day. We understand the sacrifice that so many soldiers and their parents have had to endure and still are enduring to this day.

Even before our son went off to join the military, I would tear up a little when listening to our National anthem and see the flag waving over a sporting field. I have a brother who fought in the Gulf War and a nephew who also served our country. So it was very personal to me. Now when I see that flag being waved by men and women of the different branches of the military, I tear up even more because it hits home even closer.

What happened to the solidarity that we all had the days after 9/11? You couldn't walk through a neighborhood without seeing an American flag waving from a front porch. You couldn't drive down the road without seeing the American flag being flown from car windows and truck beds. Where has that pride gone?

I feel that by not standing and placing your hand over your heart while the anthem is being sung and the flag is waving, you are slapping the faces of all of the soldiers that have fought and those who are still fighting to this day. There is something great about this country and that greatness came with a price. We should not forget that nor should we disgrace that. The flag represents something greater than any one person.

If these individuals want to make a difference, then they should start doing something positive and not divisive. I don't know what is going on in their personal lives, maybe they are helping people less fortunate than they are. From what I read they get paid a lot of money to play their sport. I would hope with that fortune they would choose to give back. 

In this time of hatred, of them verses us, of one political party against another, I would hope that people would be a little tired of all of the negativity and would come together, under the flag of the United States, and begin to do and say positive and loving things.

This is not about racism, this is not about religion, this is not about Republican versus Democrat – this is about a symbol that represents all of those things.

The Preacher and I will stand and proudly put our right hand over our hearts the next time we hear the National anthem being played and see that flag waving, where ever it may be. We ask that you join us in being proud of this Nation and what it stands for....freedom.

Love from the Preacher and I



Wednesday, August 24, 2016

His Light Always Shines Toward Life


This is the Smith family, the way we looked many years ago. This picture is of our niece's wedding.

Since this photo many more of our niece's and nephew's have gotten married, had children, and some of us have moved to various parts of the country and even abroad. We also have had some of our family go to, what Jesus calls, 'sleep'. We have lost the woman who held this family together, Joan, or you may have known her as Grandma, the mother of the Preacher, and we have lost the Preacher's sister, Brenda.

There is a line in Mat Kearney's song, "Closer to Love", that says "I guess we're all one phone call from our knees." That call came for us this morning. Today we learned that the Preacher's sister, Michelle, the baby of the family and the one sitting to the left of the bride in the picture, went to be with the Lord this morning. She had been having heart problems for some time and she knew that her time here on this earth was short but she was okay with that. She was okay with going home to be with her Savior, and to be able to see her mother, her father and sister again.

Within an hour of receiving that call the Preacher received another call telling him that a man in our town had also passed away today. A man that the Preacher considered a friend.

The Preacher had to write an article for our church's newsletter today. He wrote his article about his sister going to sleep, he wrote about his friend's passing, and he wrote about believing that Christ's light will always chase away the darkness. After reading his article I asked him if I could share it with you today. He told me that it would be okay. 

Here is his article:
"The phone rang today right in the middle of a morning run.  That is not my favorite time to get a call because in my mind I am about to set a 5K world record or at least a personal best.  But I saw the pic on the incoming call, it was my brother.  He doesn’t call that often so I assumed it was important and I gave up the gold to answer the phone.  In that instant when I heard a fragile voice on the line I knew that it was something important.  He said “Michelle died of a heart attack this morning.”  Michelle is our sister.  She is the 4th of our little family of 6 to go home.  Linda and I talked and prayed for her husband Greg and her daughters and grandchildren.  Within the hour I got a second call.  It was Greg.  He too had that frailty of voice as he told me the news.  My sister struggled with a weak heart for a decade or more.  He had left early this morning for work and she called to tell him that she was having trouble breathing but was going to a regular scheduled Doctors appointment.  The neighbor found her slumped over in her van in the drive way to their house.  My sister was what the Bible calls a “Believer.”  She seemed to struggle sometimes with accepting and understanding people.  But Jesus, she never seemed to doubt.  To me she was a woman of extremes.  If she was angry she was very angry and you knew it.  If she was blessing you, you knew it.  You were blessed beyond expectation.  When she loved she loved large.  Jesus was always the object of her love.  She doubted herself sometimes and sometimes she doubted her two brothers.  But her faith was like a life line that she clung too.
     As I was talking to her husband I had gotten a third call.  I saw the name.  It was a young lady that I had done a wedding for.  Her dad is a friend and she grew up friends with Samuel.  I listened to the voice on the machine and heard the fragile break in her voice also.  The same lilt I had heard two other times this morning.  Just a simple, “Could you call me please.”  I called her back and she said, “My dad died this morning and we want to know if you would do a service for him.”  I told her that I love her and her daddy very much and made plans to meet later in the day.  In some ways my friend and my sister were alike.  They both loved large.  Both struggled with health issues for years.  They were both gregarious storytellers.  Both lived in-between the extreme edges of joy and sadness.  Both left this world with in the same hour.  But in one particular way they greatly differed.  I do not know if my friend understood how much Jesus loved him like my sister did.  About a month ago I called my sister.  She told me her health was continuing to slip away.  That she struggled to live life well.  But she said, “I am okay with it, I am ready to go home when He is ready for me.”  My friend on the other hand in some moment of doubt or desperation took his life.
     Jesus is the Way.  He will always be the way, in the light or in the dark.  He is the way to life not away from it.  Always toward life.  That is true if we believe it or if we do not.   But believing it brings a light into the darkness, believing it now chases darkness away.  You see I remember another phone call.  This one was 24 years ago.  It was my sister Michelle.  She called me in Florida from Indiana to tell me that she was going to take her life.  We talked about life and love and faith.  We talked about Jesus.  For hours it seemed.  As we did the light of his love began to flicker in her soul.  A light that continued to shine all the way to the other side today."
Please pray for our family, for our brother-in-law, Greg, and for Michelle's girls.

Thank you and Love from the Preacher and I

Thursday, August 11, 2016

The Church Dog Is Home!



Yes the Church Dog, Sergeant, is home! (Read here to see why he is called the Church Dog.) 

Sergeant left us back in December of 2015 to live with our son in Texas. Since that time our son has been deployed and it was necessary for Sergeant to come back to stay with us.

I had written a blog post on how empty our nest was after Sergeant had left us and how much we missed this crazy dog. Well he is back and I think the Preacher is happier about it than he would like to say. And Sergeant, I believe, is very happy to be home.

The first thing the Preacher did was go and buy him some dog toys. Then an appointment with the groomer was in order and soon will be a camping trip so they can hike together. The Preacher loves to throw the Frisbee for Sergeant to run after and catch. I'm not sure who enjoys this more – Sarg, getting to run and jump or the Preacher, getting to brag on how good his dog catches the Frisbee. 

As far as Sergeant being the Church Dog, he hasn't lost that title. On Sunday mornings the kids enjoy playing with him after church. We have a few new kids in our church since last December and they are having fun getting to know this crazy dog.

Our nest is a little fuller now. Sergeant is filling up our days, keeping us just a little busier. He just loves the Preacher. He keeps his eye on him and watches his every move. And the Preacher loves this crazy dog. 

Love from the Preacher and I


Friday, July 29, 2016

The Light Shines In The Darkness


If you were to look out of our back window everything would look just fine. The sky is blue and the grass is green and yet a big dark storm cloud has covered our family. We didn't expect it. The "weather man" didn't predict it. Just as Tim Tingle says in his story Crossing Bok Chitto, "One day trouble came. It always does, in stories or in life, trouble comes."

The Preacher and I have been feeling so many emotions these past two weeks. For three days straight we were so stressed that it took another five days to recover. And the storm is not over yet.  Although it does seem to have lightened up a little bit, there are still days when it comes back and shows it's ugliness.

When a tornado comes your way what do you do? You head to your storm shelter and take cover. What do you do when storms rage and the darkness invades your life? We headed to our Lord, our shelter from the storm. We came together and bowed our heads humbly in prayer. We asked that the Lord help us to think and act with wisdom and grace. Then we asked our friends to pray. And even though, that week was very stressful, we felt your prayers and we thank you for praying to the Lord who overcomes the darkness.

"The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it."                                                                                            John 1:5 (NIV) 


The darkness will not prevail...the Preacher and I must hold onto this. 

Love from the Preacher and I





Friday, July 8, 2016

What If We Rode a Bicycle Across the Country


Last night the Preacher and I hosted 2 young men, Marcos and Jeremy, who were cycling across America to raise awareness and funds for the fight against cancer. In June they began their journey in Baltimore and in August they will end in San Diego. 

The four of us sat on our patio around the fire pit talking about their journey. It was so interesting hearing of their adventure, the places they have been, the people they have met, and the anticipation of riding over the Rockies.

The Preacher and I have never done anything like this. Listening to these young men made us realize that out of all the things we have done, this would have been a wonderful adventure.

The Preacher told Marcos and Jeremy of the time that he and I took our bicycles up to Glenwood Canyon. We camped in a campground about 1 mile outside of town. We had high hopes of not having to use our car that weekend. We would just ride into town everyday to shop at the local stores and eat at the local restaurants. What we didn't realize is that even though we live in Colorado, the altitude where we do live is about 2,000 feet less than when you are in a canyon in the Rockies. Therefore, going up the hills that are on the path that parallel the river, is a very hard task when you are not used to that kind of activity. Of course I'm not in that kind of shape, and the Preacher, although being in better shape than I, had a hard time also.

The boys explained to us the training they did to get ready for their ride. One boy, Marcos, loves to ride. Loves everything about riding and the bicycles themselves. Jeremy explained that he was a runner and had been training on his bicycle since December of last year. Both boys were in the kind of shape you need to be to do this kind of trip.

While listening to their stories I thought about what the Preacher has been trying to teach us in his last 2 sermons. These 2 boys have the gift of riding their bicycles thousands of miles across country. The Preacher and I do not have that gift. Then why should we be jealous of their gift? 

When you long for someone else's gift you are not able to fully give God what He wants you to give. You will always be faking it. The Preacher says, "If you know what you are called to do keep doing it and keep moving forward. If you don't know what you're called to do then do the small stuff and God will show you what He wants you to do." 

The Preacher and I have been called to love one another first, and then those who we minister to. We each have specific gifts that make us a great couple and make us who God wants us to be.

I'm glad I don't have to fake it and try to ride a bike across the country. I'm glad God has given the Preacher and I the gifts that make us who we are. But it's not a bad thing to keep yourself in check when finding yourself going down that road of "what if.....?"

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Be the Grace and Love They Seek

Photo taken from The Blaze website
In these times when grace and love seem to be so hard to find, we as the Church need to be the grace and love that people seek.

All this week I have been listening to the talk and observing the way various people have reacted to the horrible mass murder by a terrorist in Orlando last Saturday night.    

A friend of mine knows someone who was friends of one of the first victims killed. His heart was broken and needed some understanding but he did not see it in a church. This particular church did not acknowledge the tragedy nor did they pray for the victims. 

While in a meeting, I heard people talking about how they couldn't believe all of the publicity the LGBT community was receiving from this awful event. They were talking about how terrible the media was because they felt that if this had been 49 Christians killed, there would not have been as much of a show of support. It was as if they were a little jealous of the media attention.

I do not support the choice of the homosexual lifestyle. BUT I do support love and grace. The people that were shot and killed were fellow human beings. God loved them just as He loves you and me. He wishes that all people be saved. Paul says in I Corinthians 10:33, "For I am not seeking my own good but the good of the many, so that they may be saved."

I told my friend that I wish her friend would have been in our service on Sunday morning. Our Worship Minister and the Preacher both prayed for the victims and their families. But at the meeting I had attended, I did not speak up. I had to process their attitudes a little before I could speak.

The Preacher has said on many occasions, "If we, as a church, are always showing people what we are against, then how will they ever know what we are for?"

I'm sure you have heard the saying, "hate the sin, love the sinner". Do we say it just to be talking christianese and we feel we'll sound more holy? We all deal with our own sins every day but thank God He still loves us in spite of it. 

So as we go forward in the wake of this tragedy, let's not go forward in hate. Let's go forward in love. Let's go forward with grace. 

Be the Church, be the people that Christ wants us to be.

Love from the Preacher and I 

Friday, June 10, 2016

It Is Hard When 'Life Goes On'




In November of 2014 I wrote of the pain that we felt when our son was taken away in a military bus to be taken to an airport and flown to the sight of his basic training. In that post I wrote, This is the hardest thing his father and I have had to go through in all of his life. This is the time where your faith is tested, where you know that your faith in God is the only thing that keeps you going. You have to pray and believe that your son will be okay and that, with the Lord's help, he will get through this. With the Lord's help we will get through this.


Now jump ahead 2 years. Our faith once again is being tested and we are going through another hard time in our life as a family. The training that he received while in the military is now being tested in a real life situation in some distant land.

On the day I knew that he would be taken to an airport to be flown to a place where his training may be tested, I cried. I cried a lot. I didn’t know how to really function. Again my heart and stomach were being ripped from my body. I was trying to put on a better face but to no avail. 

On that same day our church was hosting a get-together picnic in honor of some friends. In the morning I was doing alright but the closer the time came for everyone to gather together to eat and enjoy each other’s company I began to feel like I couldn’t breathe.  I had to leave, I had to go home and just be by myself. The truth is I was not ready for the 'life goes on' conversations and laughter that I knew was waiting there at the picnic.

I feel like I need to confess that since our son’s enlistment two years ago, I find myself not feeling compassion for mothers who lament of their sons or daughters leaving the nest for college or maybe even a summer camp. I find myself thinking so what, you can go pick them up anytime you want, you know they are on the soil of our country that is free, you know exactly where they are, you know that on the weekend they will be home back safely in your arms.

I expressed these feelings to the Preacher one day. He understood because he feels the pain of separation too, but he reminded me of how I felt when our son would go off to camp. He reminded me of how I felt the day we moved our son into his own college apartment. At every milestone there has been a sense of loss and the feeling that you are the only one having to deal with that loss.

We are all mother’s and our children are our lives and we each have to endure their leaving.   So to all of the mothers out there who are feeling the pain of a son or daughter inching their way, little by little, out of your nest, I apologize. I apologize if I have not seemed more sympathetic. I apologize for not understanding your pain. I apologize for not being better at offering my shoulder to cry on. I ask for your patience.


As we did two years ago, the Preacher and I ask for your prayers of safety for our son.  

We are praying for your sons and daughters too.
Love from the Preacher and I