Wednesday, December 31, 2008

So long 2008....

Where did 2008 go? Wow! What a race. When I read Lindsey's post, it made me want to look back at my own year and share what I did and I got out my cute calendar. (I wonder why I didn't get another cute calendar this year???)

January: I was busy getting ready for Zach & Shanna's wedding. I carefully timed my haircut and color that month to make it to the wedding looking good.
What I learned: Planning ahead helps you look good.

February: Zach & Shanna got married! The wedding was beautiful and FUN! Shanna was gorgeous and Zach, his groomsmen, & the little guys were so cute in their Converse shoes.
What I learned: Don't plan family pictures with small children before a wedding. And I learned a flower girl can walk down the aisle in a poopy diaper!

March: Andy & I went to Israel! How amazing and what an adventure! Our church gave it to us as a gift for our 20th anniversary at FBC. We had a wonderful time and learned so much.
What I learned: Don't throw away your bad swimsuit before you get to the Dead Sea!

April: According to my calendar, we spent quite a bit of time with Amy's boys in April. They had a birthday we attended and then they came to stay with us for a weekend---when their parents went to Florida for an interview, I believe.
What I learned: Appreciate the time you have with grandkids. You don't know when they'll move!

May: We attended David's graduation from CFNI in Dallas. We were so proud of Dave and we had so much fun. The guys went to a baseball game with Uncle Gary and the girls went shopping.
What I learned: Don't start a trip off by getting mad at your husband.

June: Several things happened in June. We attended another wedding in Borger. And then I went to Jay's graduation in Florida. Proud once again! I knew at this point of the possibility of Jay & Amy moving, so I was anxious to see where they would be. And Andy went to China.
What I learned: To let go.

July: We had a Girl's Night in July at my mom's house in Amy's honor--since she was moving. What fun--watching movies and getting a manicure the next day. And Andy went to China yet again.
What I learned: We have great women in the Sanders family!! And that I can stay alone for weeks at a time!

August: Another wedding in Borger (this was the year for weddings--I'm seeing a trend here!). And then Andy & I drove Jay's car to Florida. We had so much fun driving down and then spending time in their new home.
What I learned: I love spending time on the road with my husband---when I'm not mad! (See May---but I did learn!!) And I learned to treasure the time we have together as a family.

September: We celebrated Andy's 58th birthday. I really don't see much else on that month. I know we wanted to go to the mountains, but we were so busy we never got the chance.
What I learned: When you're busy, you don't take the time to write on your calendar.

October: I had the privilege of speaking at a retreat for the Dalhart women. What a great group of women!! I love those girls. And Lindsey went with me.
What I learned: I learned not just to listen to God, but to obey quickly.

November: This month seemed to be consumed with getting ready for the holiday food give-aways at Living Water. We were VERY busy getting ready!
What I learned: To give up control. I didn't think our new way of collecting food would work. Was I ever wrong!

December: PARTIES!! I think we attended 10 of them. Christmas at Living Water was incredible. And our own Christmas was special. And I turned 53.
What I learned: To enjoy the season. And I can enjoy it even when one of my kids lives half-way across our nation. I also learned the season is more special the more you help others.

Seriously....God has been so good to us. And you know what? I didn't even remember half of this stuff until I got the calendar out! This has been a very full year--no wonder I'm so tired!! Andy & I had a date tonight and talked about where we want to be this time next year. I just want to keep growing spiritually. And one way I'm going to do that is by making a budget. I've resisted this for 33 years. And Andy's wanted me to agree to do it for 33 years. So...I'm finally hoping to submit. I think it's all about control. (Actually, I'm sure of it!) Maybe there's a pattern in what God is teaching me after all! Here's to a great 2009!! Happy New Year everyone! And God bless us all. May our year ahead be blessed!!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Famous Connections

I just have to brag on my husband. Andy has written a manual for mission trips. It includes things like how to prepare to go on a mission trip, things to take, how to help those who are on the mission field, worst case scenarios, etc. In fact, the manual is a work in progress because each time we take a trip, he learns from the things that happen and adds instructions to the manual. It's really a great guide for leaders of mission trips. About 6 months ago, a friend of his from the IMB asked for a copy of his Missions Manual. Somehow, that copy made its way into the hands of Dave Ramsey! Dave emailed Andy and asked his permission to use his manual in training people in his church who are going on a mission trip. Isn't that awesome????

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Doctrines of Demons

I Timothy 4:1-5
But the [Holy] Spirit distinctly and expressly declares that in latter times some will turn away from the faith, giving attention to deluding and seducing spirits and doctrines that demons teach, Through the hypocrisy and pretensions of liars whose consciences are seared (cauterized), Who forbid people to marry and [teach them] to abstain from [certain kinds of] foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and have [an increasingly clear] knowledge of the truth. For everything God has created is good, and nothing is to be thrown away or refused if it is received with thanksgiving. For it is hallowed and consecrated by the Word of God and by prayer."

I definitely want to come in agreement with the Word of God about my body being His sanctuary. This verse teaches that in the last days, false doctrines will be taught by demons through liars. People will be taught not to get married. (Isn't it interesting how many people are teaching their children to just live with someone---to "test them out?") And they'll be taught to abstain from certain kinds of foods. (How many kinds of diets are out there???) But God created these foods to be received with thanksgiving. Actually, I think this verse is pretty self-explanatory. I just want to come in agreement with God's Word. I want to hallow and consecrate what I eat by the Word of God and by prayer. I think Satan has lied to us and we've bought it! He's told us we shouldn't eat certain foods. But God's Word says here that everything that God created is good! You might argue that some things we eat have been altered by man---they're not "natural." But I ask you...did God create it? I mean...there's really nothing that exists that God hasn't created. And I would agree that the natural form is probably the best for us. But I have to agree with this verse that says that nothing is to be thrown away or refused if it is received with thanksgiving. It makes me think of my China experience when I ate bees. Yes...honey bees, deep fried. That was pretty natural and I was grateful---that I was able to keep them down in front of friends who were honoring me! ha!
I want God to renew my mind. I want to come in agreement with Him! His Word is Truth and I believe as I agree with it, my mind and actions will change. And...I believe what I eat will be consecrated as I give thanks for it. And it's so contrary to what the world teaches, isn't it? But then...most things God teaches are contrary to the world's doctrine---or the doctrines of demons.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

How much....

How much junk food can a person eat through the holidays?

Peanut patties
Peanut butter fudge
Fudge with nuts
Peppermint fudge
Chocolate chip cookies
Chocolate pie
Pecan pie
Pumpkin pie
Sausage balls
Spiced cider
Chocolate crinkle cookies
Flavored coffee topped with whipped cream
Tina Massengale cookies
Barraza tamales
Cheese dip & chips
Guacamole...and more, I'm sure!

...No wonder they start talking about diets in January!!
What good stuff did you eat??

Friday, December 26, 2008

Stages III & IV of Christmas

On Christmas Day, we slept in a little late---what a luxury! Then Andy's mom came over to help get lunch ready. Zach & Shanna came and we all had lunch together (with Amanda, our adopted Frank Phillips student daughter from The Congo). We had a great lunch. Then we waited on David and his family to get here---Zach & Shanna were determined to see everyone before they had to leave for home. Zach had to work the day after Christmas.

Zach & Shanna's 1st Christmas as husband & wife.

Amanda got her own set of Double 9 Dominoes for Christmas---here, she's playing "Mexican Railroad" with Liz.

Lindsey helping Addie with her new Barbie & car. (I thought she might be able to entice Ryan to play with her if a car was involved!)
Addie playing with toys.

Ryan & his new train set.

The Day after Christmas, we celebrated with my family in Pampa. Here I am with my older brother, Bob; my younger brother Gary; and my baby sister, Sandra. Seated, is my mom.

My nephew, Benjamin, got a 4 wheeler for Christmas. Here he's sharing with his cousin, Ryan. They had a ball taking turns driving the 4 wheeler.

This was Benjamin's unique way of hanging on as Ryan drove! Too cute!!

Alexis, Matt, Lisa & Caitlin

David, Addie Belle, Ryan & Lindsey

Christmas 2008 was a GREAT Christmas!!
Happy Birthday, Jesus!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Stage II of Christmas

We were awakened by a call this morning asking if we were ready to Skype. Thrilling!! We got to see Isaac with his castle, knights and horses, Josiah wielding his tennis racket with skill (seriously!) and Miss Olivia stacking her plastic french fries on her new dishes. So cute!! Jay allowed us to speed read his new book and Amy held up her new frame. Of course, we didn't see much of her---I think she was busily opening packages for the kids as Jay gave us the virtual tour.
Side note: Why is it that kids always like the junkiest toys? Out of everything the girls got yesterday, they immediately tore into the $1 purple glitter fake eyelashes! ha! I just had to ask....I think it's so interesting.
Anyway, we thoroughly enjoyed watching the Florida family open their gifts and playing! So much fun.
Liz (or Mama) showed up bearing her chocolate pie and soon Zach & Shanna were here for lunch. We ate well. Too well. But it was so good. Then we played a round of dominoes that Amanda got for Christmas. Now we're sitting around about to fall asleep while Zach & Andy are outside playing football.
....And now we wait for Stage III....

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Stage I of Christmas

We began stage one of Christmas today. So much fun! Matt, Lisa, Caitlin & Alexis came this afternoon to kick off our celebration. Matt told the girls they couldn't open their gifts until Uncle Zach got the girls had to wait over an hour. What a hard wait!! But they were good sports and only called Zach about 5 times to see "where he was now." Zach & Shanna finally showed up and in the meantime Pops & Matt had made a run to Wal-Mart---so then we had to wait on them! But everyone finally got there and the girls began their gift extravaganza.

Alexis modeling her Hannah Montana dress.

Alexis opening her American Girl doll outfit.

Caitlin & her American Girl doll outfit.

Opening frenzy.

Two excited girls. I think it was a success---they went home happy. Stage II begins tomorrow with a Skype call to Florida and then gift opening with David, Lindsey, Ryan & Addie Belle.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Post # 2--Christ's Mansion

Amy posted this prayer on her blog as she talked about their family observing Advent. I just wanted to jump up and down and yell! I love it!! It's directly related to our appreciating/improving the sanctuary Christ lives in:
Purify our conscience, Almighty God, by your daily visitation, that your Son Jesus Christ, at his coming, may find in us a mansion prepared for himself; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Amen & Amen.


I keep giggling everytime I lift my hands in praise and blessing to God. Praising Him for living in me. Praising Him for this sanctuary of His. Wow! It amazes me. But I know it's changing my mind. And I want to be in agreement with God's Word about this aspect of my life.

I also giggled this weekend. Ryan & Addie came to stay overnight with us and I was reading Pinocchio to Ryan. And this was what he was doing:

I looked over as I was reading and asked him what he was doing. Why was he covering his eyes? He said, "I know he's going to turn into a donkey and I don't want to see it!" HA!! The suspense and drama were killing him. Good thing to know he has a problem with little boys turning into donkeys! Pretty cute.

Friday, December 19, 2008

The Sanctuary Challenge

Ok...several are "in" on The Sanctuary Challenge. Here's what you do....
First of all, I think it's important to repent of ever cursing God's sanctuary. What is cursing? The opposite of blessing. If you've ever cursed your body in your own mind, repent. (Repent means to confess and change your mind)
Then I think it's important to become aware of your thought processes about your body, about your insecurities and your judgment toward others.
I went to a seminar taught by Bill & Anabel Gillham many years ago and that's when I learned that Satan speaks to us (in our minds) in 1st person singular. Now for those who aren't English majors (or don't remember 7th grade English), that means that Satan speaks to me like this: "I'm so fat." He doesn't say, "Becky, you are so fat." That way...I think it's MY thoughts---when all the time he's putting those thoughts in my mind! The other way would be way too obvious---I'd know it was him speaking to me! You do know that all sin starts in the mind, right? Satan--or his demons--whisper thoughts to us all the time. And most of that time, we just allow thoughts to run rampant all day long without ever taking them captive. God has told us to take thoughts captive to the obedience of Jesus Christ. We need to stop them! Examine them. And see if they line up with the Word of God. And allowing the thoughts that Satan puts in my mind about my body is certainly going to be contrary to the Word of God! I need to stop them and quit entertaining them.
And then I need to allow God to transform me by the renewing of my mind. Start coming in agreement with God's Word. My body is the temple of God. Most people use that verse to tell me that I need to diet or work out. But once again---I believe it all starts in the mind. I'm not going to diet (or change my lifestyle) or work out if my mind hasn't been changed. And changing my mind is the work of the Holy Spirit---but I have to submit to Him and agree with Him. You know, we trust legalism (me dieting) more than we trust the work of the Holy Spirit (transforming my mind). How is my mind transformed? By being in the Word---by memorizing the Word. I encourage you to take some 3x5 cards and write down verses about your body, about judgment and about security and keep them handy and read them many times a day. Keep them at different places in your house so that when you're cooking you see them, or when you're doing laundry you see them or when you're on your computer you see them.
And then start confessing these truths---out loud. When Satan has accused me or tempted me to judge these past 2 days, I've found myself lifting my arms to heaven and blessing God and praising Him for the sanctuary He has chosen to live in---me! It's made me laugh. And it's changing my mind. It's giving me a new perspective on my body and who I am. It's giving me an appreciation for my body. He loves it---and I should, too!
I'm excited to see what God is going to do!! I have no clue. But I know that I'm finally in agreement with Him for my body--His sanctuary. So yes. Report in occassionally with what God is teaching you or how your mind is being transformed. Give us practical details. And tell me what happens to your body. I can't wait to hear!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Sanctuary

Psalm 134
"BEHOLD, BLESS (affectionately and gratefully praise) the Lord, all you servants of the Lord, [singers] who by night stand in the house of the Lord. Lift up your hands in holiness and to the sanctuary and bless the Lord [affectionately and gratefully praise Him]! The Lord bless you out of Zion, even He Who made heaven and earth."

I read this verse this morning and God has been speaking to my heart all day through it. And you'd never guess in a million years how it's been applied to my life! Never!!

A couple of weeks ago, Julie Simmons brought Beth Moore's webpage to my attention. She had a survey on there about insecurity that I spent a whole morning reading. There were LOTS of women who answered the survey and I was engrossed in reading them---especially those of women my age. She asked women to answer how insecure they were, how old they were, if they were married, the source of their insecurity and how men played into their insecurity.
Now here's what I found interesting. Most women (probably 95% of them) said the source of their insecurity was from comparing themselves to other women! Or that they were insecure about how they looked or how other women perceived them. Shocking! Are you shocked? I mean, as I began thinking on it, I knew that was probably the source of my insecurity, but I had no idea that almost every woman dealt with the same thing! And it was pretty discouraging to read how many women my age (and older) still deal with that insecurity---and this thought process then becomes all about ME!!
But isn't that just like Satan? He perpetuates the same lie to all of us. And you know why it works? Because we don't talk about it. It's hidden. We think we're the only one dealing with that---which, in fact, is the other lie he tells us! But this lie has been exposed! So now...what to do about it?
That's where this scripture comes in. You see, I'm so frustrated because I've gained back some weight I'd lost. And what's our normal reaction as women when we do that? We beat ourselves up! We compare ourselves to other women and find ourselves wanting.
But I think this verse has a key in overcoming. We "lift up our hands in holiness and to the sanctuary and bless the Lord." In the Old Testament, the sanctuary was a building. In the New Testament, the sanctuary is our body. When we lift up our hands in holiness--and to the sanctuary--and bless the Lord, it means our focus is on God and not our body. It means we're blessing God instead of cursing our bodies. Isn't that what goes on in your mind? It does mine---I start cursing my body.
So...I want some women to join me. Especially women who have a problem with their weight. I want some "testers" of this. No more cursing---even in your mind. Remember the verse that says, "As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he?" All of that cursing brings extra weight into reality because that's how we're thinking. It's what we're expecting! I want to do something different. I want to lift up my hands in holiness. What is holiness? It's living a life set apart for God. It's setting our minds, bodies & spirits apart for Him. It's lifting my hands in holiness and to the sanctuary. It's honoring the sanctuary God has given me. If He's chosen to live in my body and has set it apart for Himself, then who am I to complain against it? It's lifting my hands in holiness and to the sanctuary and blessing the Lord. I want to bless the Lord for how He has created me. I want to bless Him for this sanctuary He dwells in. I want Him to change my mind. I don't want to live in insecurity any longer. No more comparing. No more judging. No more cursing. And I want to see what happens. Any takers?

Christmas is Coming!

Just one week away!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Andy's Gift to Me

This is the card Andy made for my birthday. The one he spent an hour on. Isn't he creative???

The rose is 3 dimensional. He was really proud of the rose.

This is a close-up of the rose. Notice the thorns on the leaves.

And this is my gift! Didn't he do good???


Yep, I turned 53 yesterday. It's not that bad---really! Age has never bothered me. But I did tell a friend yesterday that I might feel it when I turn 60. We'll see....
I got to work yesterday morning which is our Clothing Day at Living Water. People come and "shop" for gently used clothing. I have 3 women who volunteer on Tuesdays but when I got to work, there were over a dozen cars there! I was shocked. But my mind went into gear (slower at 53...) and I decided the guys must all be there to get the food ready for our big Christmas day on Friday. So I walked in and started working. I was taking some things back to the chapel and poked my head into the food room---and there they all were---including my husband! Most of our consistent volunteers had come to Living Water just to wish me a happy birthday. I was blessed. Roger had made a cake for me and had a little candle that played "happy birthday." One of the guys who is a wood craftsman had made me an intricate ornament to hang on my tree. And there were lots of cards. Just for little ol' me! How amazing.
Other people showed up throughout the morning (some I hadn't seen in a long time--but they always remember my birthday) and gave me hugs, cards and gifts. Then 4 of my friends prepared lunch for me at one of their houses. It was so much fun! We don't get to get togegther as often as we'd like these days. They blessed me!
Andy came home from work and told me that we were going out to eat with Ralph & Gayle and then we'd shop for our single mom we're helping. So on the way, Andy pulls out a bag and he'd made me a card (said he spent an hour on it---you can tell!). There was also a beautiful bracelet in it--it had several beautiful diamonds (or diamoniques---he's on a minister's salary, after all!). It was perfect! Ralph had to call my mom during dinner and ask her what time I was born to make sure we weren't celebrating prematurely. And Gayle gave me one of the best presents---when asked, she told someone that she thought I was 44 (and in her mind, she said she thought that because she was thinking at the moment that she was 48!) I love that Gayle! We had a great laugh over how that guy must still be shaking his head!
I did have to call one son to ask him if he wanted to tell me happy birthday! ha! (Not naming any names here...) And I had to do the same with one of my adopted sons. I asked him, "Anything you want to say to me before you hang up---today???" And he got it! I love doing that--just to hear their reaction. And Keough's was priceless--he couldn't quit laughing. The funniest call I got was from David's family (oops! You know it wasn't that son...) He was letting everyone have a turn talking to me and I could hear Addie Belle in the background screaming at the top of her lungs, "I DONT' WANT TO TALK TO GUH!!!!" I loved it! And Zach gave me one of the best gifts ever (oops! You know it wasn't that son either...). He told me he was going to go get a haircut in honor of my birthday. Sigh....what a great kid, what love, what a perfect gift! I told Josiah I had a birthday party and he turned to yell at his family, "Gee had a party!" Pretty amazing stuff when your grandmother has a party!
Let me just say...if this is the way 53 is starting out, I can predict a year full of friends & family and wonderful surprises! I can't wait! And now I have this blog to refer to all year long when I forget how old I am....

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


1. Post rules on your blog.
2. Answer the six "4" items.
3. Let each person know they have been tagged by leaving them a comment.

4 Things I Did Yesterday: Went to work, Shopped at Wal-Mart with Amanda, Called Jodina almost hysterical, Went to yet another Christmas party!!
4 Things On My Wish List: To never have to worry about my weight again!, to give away millions, to love others deeply, to have time and energy (and at times the desire) to minister the way I want.
4 Things I Look Forward to: seeing Amy & her family, Christmas, going HOME (as in heaven), getting those millions to give away
4 Restaurants I like: Plaza (call me crazy!), Rosa's, Logan's Steakhouse, Coffee Ranch
4 Favorite TV Shows: Designed to Sell, Well...anything on HGTV actually, The Office, Amazing Race, Secret Millionaire
4 People I Tag (You're it): Ember, Marcy, Holly, Sandra

Monday, December 15, 2008

Candy Ornaments

You girls and your projects are contagious! Yesterday, I was watching The Neely's on Food Network and saw them making these. Actually, they were making ornaments. I skipped the step of making a hole in them to hang them. I actually wanted some candy to put in these cute candy dishes I bought for our staff. You start with a bag of Jolly Ranchers or any hard candy.

I sorted them so I could grab the colors I wanted easily.

The Neely's used metal cookie cutters. I couldn't find any, but found this pan at Wal-Mart with these cute Christmas shapes. I put 3 Jolly Ranchers in each design. (I worked and worked to turn a couple of these pictures and it never worked!) You bake them for 6 minutes at 350*.

They were a little hard to get out of my pan. I broke a few while getting the hang of it. But they turned out really cute! They looked like stained glass.

This is just one of the cute dishes I found. There are several different designs. I'll fill them fuller, but just wanted you to be able to see the plate. Cute! It was fun. Kids would love making them! (Warning: Dentists hate Jolly Ranchers!)

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Our Finished Christmas Gift

Getting in a Hurry

I've done some dumb things recently just because I was in a hurry! No. 1 on the list would be when I jumped the rail by my driveway and not only ruined a tire, but did some serious damage to my car. The other morning, I was in a hurry to get to work and instead of scraping the windshield, I used the De-Ice spray that works for a few minutes but then begins fogging/freezing again. (I really didn't know this!) My windshield was freezing/fogging in the 8 1/2 blocks it takes me to get to work. Six blocks into my trip, I realized that I couldn't see and "sensed" that I was driving next to a parked car. My estimation (because I really couldn't see!) is that I was 1 inch away from this parked car! YIKES!! I stopped and sprayed immediately. Oh man! And I praised God the rest of the way to work that He prevented a major scraping accident.
About a month ago, I was applying Revlon ColorSilk #42 Medium Auburn to my hair (because it's $2.99/box) and got in a hurry. I had to get to church! Don't do that. I can only tell you I resembled a red headed skunk...and I never made it to church as a result...and had to spend another $2.99! (I can only imagine what the people at Wal-Mart thought!!)
I was in a hurry backing out of a parking space at Wal-Mart this week (not the same hair color trip)--and apparently, so were about 3 other people! We all met in the middle. Fortunately for all of us, we saw our predicament before we collided. I can't tell you how many times God has saved me from myself! (I didn't realize so many of my mishaps involve a car!)
The worst thing that happens is when I overlook the contributions of others because I'm in a hurry. So many people give of their time and money for others and I don't want to forget to be thankful because I'm rushed. I've got to learn to slow down. Why am I in such a hurry?

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Remember When

Andy & I took our senior adults to Amarillo last night to Hillside Christian Church on Soncy to their Christmas program. If you live in the Amarillo area, I HIGHLY recommend it! And I don't do that lightly.
The music is wonderful, but it's also a highly technical program that will keep you interested. Andy & I were impressed with the excellence with which it was done.
They will be doing a program at 7 tonight, 3 tomorrow afternoon and 7 tomorrow night. And if you go, be sure and step into their bookstore!! They have lots of good books, but some beautiful gift items! If I'd had the money, I would have a pair of black and white lamps that were there! Wowee!!
I hope some of you make the effort to go---it's an excellent program!!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Christmas Party # 4 and counting....

Wheweee! Party #4. It's a marathon! But tonight was sweet. We had our ESL Christmas Party and it's worth going to! We have mostly Spanish-speaking friends in our ESL class and can they COOK! WOW! You would have loved it if you like authentic Mexican food. Amazing! I don't even want to learn how to make their foods---I know I'd never match what they can do and know it is hard work. We had a feast! The funny thing is that I took a good ol' box of fried chicken from United and the kids cleaned it out! ha!
Tomorrow night is party # 5. We're taking our senior adults to the Christmas program at Hillside Church in Amarillo. I'm hoping we leave early enough to eat at Cracker Barrel before the program! ha! (I know, I know...I have CB on the brain now.) I love the fact that Andy is not only our missions & evangelism minister, but also our senior adult minister now. These people know how to cut loose and have fun---and they like to eat at places like CB---even if it is only 3 in the afternoon! ha!
I have taken my daughter's advice to heart: I made up my mind to just have fun at all these parties.
Last night, at church supper, I asked our 3 ministers (including my husband) sitting at our table if we were having a staff Christmas party. They all three said "YES!" in unison. I warily looked at them and hesitantly asked, "Is it at my house?" They all died laughing. No...this year, it's at the Cox's. Yep, last year, I was told 2 days before that 25 people would be at my house for a party! (So I've learned to ask ahead of time) Thank you, Cox's!! I think I"ll enjoy...let's see...that should be Christmas party # 7.

Deep Breath

Ok. I know I confused alot of you with my blog yesterday. And it was more about me than any situation. God was exposing my heart to myself. And isn't it just amazing how God speaks to us through so many different avenues to get a message across??? Makes me think of my friend Job: "For God does speak—now one way, now another—though man may not perceive it." Job 33:14.
I've been trying to help 3-4 different families for Christmas. Not through Living Water---just different situations that have touched my heart that I knew people would want to help with for Christmas if they knew about it. And they have!! It's just been amazing.
But yesterday, I think I'd heard one too many stories that broke my heart. And I felt so helpless. I felt like everywhere I was turning, the only thing I could offer was a bandaid---when these people needed major surgery!!
And that's when God started digging. He began to show me that I've done a lot of the things I've helped with out of obedience and not from my heart. Hence, the emotions that were bubbling out. And if you know me at all, you'll know I'm not an emotional person. I've had many discussions with God about that. But it's just how He made me. In fact, as Andy was holding me yesterday afternoon as I was crying, I think he was shocked! That's how often he's seen my emotions come unglued!
So...I'm not sure what it means from here. I think more than anything it means not doing things by the letter of the law. It means getting to know people and their stories and extending grace and mercy.
The good news is that I have a very good role model right here at Living Water---Cairl Horst. What a great guy!! He ministers straight from the heart. People love him and ask about him when he's not here. He loves people and is the best model of love and grace that I know.
So yes, Virginia....there is a God. And He's been speaking to me first one way and now another...and I'm finally perceiving it.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Can I Vent?

That's part of what blogging is all about, right? Being able to vent and then not being judged for said venting?
Today was our Christmas Toy Give-Away at Living Water. It was awesome. We had about 30 families show up to get the toys our volunteers had shopped for. Andy sang, I gave my testimony about the year we had no money to have Christmas for our kids. (I don't even know if they knew about that.) And I gave the gospel. No one got saved, but I think they knew someone understood where they were. And then they wrapped their gifts, ate snacks, etc. and went home. It was awesome.
And then I came home and cried my eyes out.
To back up, I'm also trying to help a single mom right now. She's living in poor housing and she's going to be able to move into a rent house in a good neighborhood this weekend, thanks to the goodness of some friends' hearts. Our S.S. class has taken up money to buy Christmas for her and her son. So she's going to have a great Christmas.
But...she's going through a divorce which will be final next Monday. She had brain surgery last April (her brain was slipping down into her spinal column). Her doctor hasn't released her to work...but she's babysitting her brother's 2 kids for $300 a month---and her brother hasn't paid her yet. But she's been out groceries for the kids. She has nothing--except constant migraines! She exists on child support. So if her husband messes up ONE time, she's in trouble. And she's giving up smoking to move into this house---it was a prerequisite she accepted to move in.
I talked to a grandmother who had signed her grandkids up for toys (they live with her) and she found out her cancer is back. It's in her lungs, under her lungs, in her lymph nodes--all over. She's going to be taking chemo once a week.
Another woman told me her story of how she's raising 2 grandkids and one has cystic fibrosis and the other has some disease I'd never heard of. This grandmother needs dental work so bad--but can't afford it.
One woman found out some grant is going to pay for all of her cancer treatment. She just hopes it's not too late! She's been needing it, but had no money to get it.
One grandmother is raising 6 grandchildren now---and has no money to get her grandchildren anything for Christmas. The parents are in prison.
And we gave them all a stinkin' $15 toy.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Deacon/Widow Banquet

Kaye Smith

I just had to share my friend's idea for decorations for the Deacon/Widow Christmas Banquet at our church. (This is my friend, Kaye Smith!) She got different sized glass blocks and tied ribbon and bows on each of them. She arranged them together in the center of the table and put some battery-operated LED lights in the middle of them. She put silver beads and little tea lights around them. Some of the LED lights were white and some were multi-colored. She had also found holiday ceramic bread dishes that she baked strawberry bread in and then tied them up in red cellophane paper--which were gifts for the widows. I thought the effect was stunning! I wish you could have heard everyone raving about them. It was really special---and something she dreamed up all on her own. I was really proud of her!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Heavenly Emotions

Isaiah 9:6
"For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace."

We usually hear this verse at Christmas time with a Christmas message. And that's what our visiting preacher at Living Water did this past Friday. But my mind started wandering as he was preaching. (Imagine that!) He made the point that most people misquote this verse as saying, "Wonderful, Counselor," when it's really, "Wonderful Counselor." He is the wonderful counselor! I can attest to the truth of that statement! He's given me lots of wonderful counsel over the years. The preacher then broke down each name of God and what it meant.

Today, for some reason, I've been pretty emotional. Maybe it's because I'm praying for some sweet girls and their emotions. But that "wonderful counselor" thing came back into my mind. Here's what I was thinking about when my mind wandered: I wonder what perfect emotions look like in heaven? There won't be any drama queens in heaven---which is a word to me here on earth! But since God created us in His image, and we have emotions here, I'm expecting to have them in heaven. How will we express them there? And then how does that relate to how I should express them here on earth?

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Sunday Morning

Usually, when 4-year-old Ryan is at our house, our bedroom door opens pretty early and he comes and gets in bed with us and expects cartoons to come on pretty quickly! But this morning, I heard him tap on the bathroom door where Pops was getting ready for church and heard this little voice say, "Pops. I couldn't sleep anymore. I need in!" I opened the bedroom door to help him get into the bathroom (in case Pops didn't hear him) and this is what I saw:

I died laughing and told him to stay right there while I grabbed the camera. Then I let him in the bathroom. He still sleeps in one of our baby beds when he comes here, but has learned how to climb out on his own. I guess he kept this mask close by last night! HA!!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Growing Up

Addie learning to sit on the potty. She had a couple of accidents tonight. The best one was the one where David had to clean out the bathtub. Why, oh why didn't I think of grabbing the camera? He totally deserved that after all the times I had to do it....

Last week, Ryan was here and couldn't reach this door knob!! And this week?

Success!! It's a mile marker everytime one of the grandkids gets tall enough to turn that knob---it's the stairway to the grandkid's room in the attic.
I'm thinking it's about time for some new babies---everyone is growing up! What do you say, girls? Any takers???

Friday, December 5, 2008

Remember this?

Caitlin has become quite the email girl. I think she checks her mom & dad's emails now. I sent all of my kids an email telling them that Amanda (our adopted Frank Phillips student from The Congo) would be spending Thanksgiving with us. Matt & Lisa were going to be spending Thanksgiving with Lisa's parents in Amarillo. Well...Caitlin got that email and was insistent that they needed to come to Borger so she could meet Amanda. She was enthralled. She & Alexis immediately fell in love with Amanda. In fact, they had made some money playing some game with their Uncle Bryan and they used that money to take Amanda shopping----for a Webkinz! ha! I think Amanda did get to choose the Webkinz she wanted---which was a spider monkey. She giggled everytime she looked at it that evening and would say, "Caitlin & Alexis!"
Remember that I told you that Caitlin left her Bible for Amanda to read? Well, after Caitlin got home, I think she sent Amanda 5 emails that first night---asking her if she'd gotten online with her Webkinz---and if she'd read her Bible. It did cause Amanda (who grew up in the Catholic Church) to ask us if we had read the entire Bible. We told her we had. She said it was very difficult for her to understand. So apparently, she'd cracked it open to please Caitlin.
Last night, we took Amanda to our Adopt-A-Student Christmas party at our church. During the evening, Jason (our youth minister) shared the gospel and gave the students a chance to respond. And respond they did! About 12 of them...openly! Amanda was among them. She prayed to receive Christ into her heart. WOW! We were so excited. But I was most excited to call Caitlin and tell her that Amanda had made the decision to follow Jesus. She was thrilled! I told her how proud I was of her for sharing Jesus with Amanda. Is that not awesome?
And a little child shall lead them.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Flowers by Your Bed

Have you heard the reports that having flowers by your bed cause you to have sweeter dreams? Jodina told me. She said that not only do they bring life to your bedroom, our dreams are tied to our olfactory sense and smelling something so sweet will cause us to have sweet dreams.

This isn't the first time I've bought flowers for my bedroom. I did it as soon as Jodina told me this. I've never been a big flower person---I hate spending money on something that isn't going to last very long. I'm too practical. But...that is all changing.

I have tested this theory and found it to be totally true! Not only are my flowers pretty, they have improved our dreams!
Just last night, Andy dreamed that we were best friends with Barack and Michelle Obama and we were at Stanley Cummings' house visiting them. It just doesn't get sweeter than that!
(I wish all of you knew Stanley---he's a great guy!)


Jodina & I were walking this morning and as we walked and talked about God-things, He began speaking. I love when He does that! men, you can stop reading now. This is for the women. Or maybe you do need to read--to help you understand where we're coming from!

Why is it that we women have the unquenchable need to TALK??? Now I'm not talking about the home-from-work chatter. The "Caleb poured the cereal all over the floor," the "Isaac & Josiah made a track out of books," the "Addie didn't pee today," or the "Sadie folded her hands and prayed today." (Even though those things are all adorable!!)
No. I'm talking about the talking where we have to know WHY he (your husband) did something a certain way. WHY did he stay home from the men's accountability group that you desperately wanted him to go to? WHY is he not talking to you? Why doesn't he lead our family spiritually? WHAT IS HE THINKING???
That's our FLESH wanting to talk. Our insecurity. And insecurity is probably one of our biggest problems as women. And insecurity causes us to want to hold on to our husbands (sometimes to the point of suffocation!), to demand that they talk to us! And of course, we all know what that does to our husbands. They clam up! They run away. They resist our "clingyness."
As Jodina & I talked this over this morning, we already knew the answer. Our answer is to run to the One who already has the answers. We have to fall into God's arms and pour out our hearts to Him. Tell Him all about our troubles. (Breaking out into song here...)
The opposite of this fleshly response--to try and dig answers out of our husbands--is I Peter 3. Respect him, trust that God is working in his life. Have a heart of gratitude that God is committed to making our husbands into "mighty oaks of righteousness." (Isa. 61:3) Bottom line? Trust God. And this verse keeps coming back into my heart and mind (you'd think God wants me to get this or something!):
Proverbs 15:15 (Amp)"All the days of the desponding and afflicted are made evil [by anxious thoughts and forebodings], but he who has a glad heart has a continual feast [regardless of circumstances]."
REGARDLESS OF CIRCUMSTANCES!! Regardless of whether my husband shares his heart with me, I can have a continual feast. Regardless of whether my husband has hurt me or disappointed me, I can have a continual feast. Regardless of whether my husband is my spiritual leader, I can have a continual feast. Regardless of whether my husband romances me, I can have a continual feast.
It all depends on me. Who am I going to turn to? Who am I going to talk to? If I run to God and my needs are met there (and the only place they'll be completely met!), I can then offer my husband the respect he desperately wants and deserves. I don't become clingy and desperate. What's to be desperate about? I'm sitting at God's table and He's serving me a feast! (And we may find out that God has already done those things in our husband's life that we're so anxious for Him to do--it may have been all about us in the first place!) This journey is really all about God & me, isn't it? I'm almost 53, but I'm getting it---finally! (Boy, won't Andy be happy!?!)

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Christmas Parties, Parties, and More Parties....

How do you protect your family time, your sanity, your joy during the Christmas holidays? If you're like us, you have about a dozen Christmas parties to go to! Please share how you protect your time.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

2nd post tonight (I tell you that because I really want an answer to my pancake post) are my gas logs!

I couldn't stand the pressure of so many people wanting to see my new gas logs----even though they are unassembled! (Ok...maybe it was just Amy who asked...) Here they are in all their pre-assembled glory! (The hopeful finished result.) Stay tuned...


Yesterday, Gib (a volunteeer at Living Water) started talking about Cracker Barrel---his favorite restaurant. Well...that thought led me to pancakes. I think their pancakes are my absolute favorite pancakes in the world. Well, I haven't had pancakes all over the world, so I may reserve judgment. What is the flavoring that is unique to their pancakes...does anyone know? Yesterday, my prayer partners & I decided to meet at Nu-Way Cafe for breakfast today so we could catch up on each of our Thanksgivings. So last night, I began thinking about the pancakes I'd be eating this morning. Pancakes and bacon. Yummmm! It was good, but not the best I was dreaming about all night. What IS that flavor????

Monday, December 1, 2008

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year....

Oh...I LOVE Christmas! I love everything about it. I love the fact that we're celebrating Jesus' birthday, I love the gifts, I love the shopping, I love the name it, I love it! I even love what everyone else calls the commercialism of the season. Can you imagine everyone celebrating your birthday that way? Putting posters up, paying for ads to announce it, calling all shoppers to come in to buy gifts? (I know that's not most store manager's motivations, but don't tell Jesus, ok?) I love that everyone hangs lights on their houses, that they're looking for ways to give and to help. Can you imagine the world, knowing your birthday was coming up, and saying, "How can we give? How can we help in her honor?" Even if the world isn't thinking that about Jesus, we can.

It's so amazing having my job. You get to be a part of knowing how people give. You get to see children bring in their old toys to share with children who have so much less. You get to see youth go house-to-house and collect canned food. You get to see a senior adult bring in old ornaments to share with those who may not have any. You get to see a young woman bring in new gloves to distribute to all those people having to wait in the cold to come in and get their groceries. You get to see a man you don't know come in and give $1000 just to help buy groceries. You get to see a person you've helped (because they have so little) bring in things they no longer need to help someone else. Now you know why I love my job!

I just believe Christmas brings out the best in people. I know it's so easy for us to close ranks and want to just be with our own families, but do you know how many people need a family during the holidays? I was so sad to find out one of our senior adult volunteers and his wife went to Lone Star (a restaurant) for Thanksgiving because they had no one to spend the day with. Our student from the Congo knew of a college student that spent the whole week in a motel---with no place to go. I hope you can open your eyes and your hearts this Christmas season and see what you can do. See how you can be the hands, the feet, the heart of Christ. It's not hard! It's as easy as taking old toys to your local benevolence ministry or buying some new gloves! Ask your family how you should reach out together. Christmas=Jesus=Love=Giving.
I love Christmas!!! And maybe that's why I love my job---I get to give all year long!