Friday, December 21, 2012

A Minister Needs Help

Stu & Debi with Ellie Kate
These are my friends, Stu & Debi Tully.  We were on staff with Stu and his wife, Debi, when we were at a church in Oklahoma.  I’d lost touch with them until we found one another on Facebook.  It was so fun catching up with them.  But recently my heart has been burdened as I’ve watched what they’ve walked through with their two granddaughters, Ellie Kate (7) and Lucy (3).  Both girls were born with a rare genetic disorder which is terminal.  Ellie Kate seems to be losing her battle with this disease and may soon be in the precious arms of Jesus.  I can’t imagine what this family has walked through.  It’s been hard to read the updates on Facebook as they’ve been in and out of the hospital time after time and are physically, spiritually, mentally, and emotionally exhausted.
Stu began a missions organization years ago and has traveled all over the world sharing the good news of Jesus Christ.  He’s been one of God’s faithful ones.  In the past few months, he’s struggled over where to be.   When he’s home, he’s dedicated himself to his family–staying at the hospital with the girls so mom and dad could rest while Debi has stayed with the 2 boys at home and washed clothes, cooked, etc.  It’s been a tag-team operation so each adult could grab some rest when they could.  (Ellie Kate & Lucy’s parents, Michael & Ryan are beyond exhausted…and grieving, as you can imagine !)  My heart has ached.
Yesterday, in his post entitled “Hope for Hopeless Times,”  Stu made mention of how ministry funding had hit an all-time low….right here at Christmas…while he’s helping his family…while his granddaughter is slipping away.  I can’t even imagine.    Of course, funds are set up for Ellie Kate which help with her medical bills and her immediate family.  But there’s nothing set up for the grandparents who are dedicating their lives to help their family at this time.
It’s CHRISTMAS!  How can I help these ministers dependent on donations from God’s people?  By letting you know about this need.  Would you please consider stopping over atStu’s ministry website and making a donation?  You can make a donation by credit/debit card, Paypal, or by sending a check to the address posted.  I’m not asking you to become a regular supporter–although God may lay that on your heart!  Even if it’s only $10, $25, or $100…if we all make a one-time donation, it might help them get through this hard season of their lives.  Would you consider being the hands of Jesus for Stu & Debi?  And if you’re already a faithful supporter of this ministry, would you consider making a Christmas donation?  Please…just pray about it.  And thank you.
Sweet Ellie Kate

Thursday, December 6, 2012


Because I'm writing about my perspective of what was happening in Borger, TX when Andy was held hostage in Budapest for his book, I had to dig out my journal from 1998 to confirm details.  And because I went to the trouble of digging it out, I decided to read the rest of that journal.  I'm so thankful I journal.  It gives such great insight into what God is doing and has done in your life.
When I journal, I write down all of my thoughts.  There's very little I leave out.  I can only think of a few times when I didn't journal what was happening (or what I was feeling) for fear that person might read my journal some time and be hurt by it.  So I journal everything for the most part.  But I also listen for the voice of God.  And I write down His part of our conversation.  Do I always hear Him?  No.  Do I always correctly hear Him?  No.  But as I read this journal this week, I was awed by some of the things He'd told me.  I was also surprised by some of the things that were going through my head at the time.  But through it all, the thing that amazed me the most was seeing the beautiful picture of God's grace in my life.
I'd like to explain.  This is painfully honest.  But I want to make myself vulnerable in hopes someone who doesn't already journal will be inspired to do so.
This is from June 23, 1998.  "Today God revealed the stronghold of rejection in my life.  It began with thinking on comments made by some people about my gift of prophecy or my desire to lead--in a negative manner.  It hurt.  I felt rejected by them.  Then wave after wave of memory came back of past rejections...(I list people here)  I also felt rejected by God because He didn't give to me.  Then I began rejecting others before I was rejected--or as I saw signs of rejection."
From August 26, 1998.   "What do you want, Becky?  First, I want to be focused on you.  And I want to love (and not judge) my neighbor.  I want to speak and hold audiences captive with Truth!  I want to open doors to the abundant, free life!  I want to pray and I want to do light counseling.  God, why has my mind been so screwed up?  After I wrote what I wanted, I felt like it was invalid--like I didn't deserve, shouldn't desire what I wanted.  Like it was too fun and not hard enough work.  Like I should be scrubbing, sorting, cleaning and doing laborious counseling.   What's wrong with this?
Nothing's wrong.  You've never accepted your desires as My desires for your life.   Becky, I want to loose you to become who I created you to become.  I didn't create you to be a behind-the-scenes person.  I created you to be out front and vocal.  I created you to speak with authority.  You and I know you're not afraid of or resist hard, dirty work.  But you're a mouth...not a hand, ok?  You were trying to prove your love to Me.  You thought by doing hard, dirty work you would please me.  Cinderella, I want you to rise out of the ashes and come to the ball with Me!"
Fast forward to 2012.  I look back over the past 5 1/2 years of being the director of Living Water and see the mind-transforming, life-changing work God has done through this position!  God has metamorphosized me.  I became comfortable with the gifts He's given me.  I've embraced my gift of prophecy, my leadership skills, and my ability to speak with authority.  I've stepped up and out.  In fact, I hardly recognize the Becky of 1998.  And I wouldn't have even been so aware of the transformation if I hadn't stepped back in time through my journal.  I was also very touched by the graciousness of God.  I was making so many mistakes and walking in so much fear.  But God didn't condemn me.  He kept speaking to me lovingly and encouraging me to embrace who He'd created me to be.
If you don't, I encourage you to!  And if you don't listen for God's voice, start.  You'll be amazed.

Thursday, November 29, 2012


I can't go to sleep.  Know why?  There's so much anticipation in my heart!  And I think that's crazy!!  If I had to give a word which I thought would describe this point in my life it would be "resigned."  And that probably comes from watching people who've traveled this path before me.  But instead, I am incredibly filled with anticipation.  And for that, I'm glad...and grateful.

Isn't it good of God to do something like that?  To surprise me at the last 1/3 of my life with anticipation?  I absolutely have no clue what is ahead of me.  But God has thrown out some incredible possibilities and gotten me all excited!

Andy had an agent tell him today that she couldn't put his book down (the book he wrote about his experience of being kidnapped in Budapest).  She wants to send it to a publisher and thinks they'll pick it up.

I love surprises.  And God knows me.  I'd hate to get to a place where I was resigned with life.  I hope God constantly fills my life with surprises.  I want to anticipate each phase of my life.  What a great Daddy!!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Jump on over!

Well....I've resorted to opening a new blog.  I hate moving because I'm so used to this site.  But David set up a new blog for me with my own domain.  So jump on over to  If you have me as a site you follow, you'll want to change to that one.

Thankfully, David was able to forward ALL of my old posts to this new site!  Thank you, David.  Now I just need to see if I can figure out all things new.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Photo Full

Has anyone gotten a notice that their blogspot has used all their space for photos?  What have you done?  I was going to put all my Thanksgiving photos up and with the first one, I got that message.  NOOOOO!!!!!!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Change is Coming

Well, the word is out.  I've resigned from my position of Executive Director at Living Water.  It's such a bittersweet moment.  When I began the position, I prayed that I'd never become cynical as I helped the less fortunate and that I'd know when it was time to step down.  I knew it would be easy to become burned-out in this job and I wanted to give it my best as long as I was there.  I clearly believe God told me to hire Selena McClellan two years ago and to "get her trained."  I trained her for a year.  But then last year, I told her that I was going to train her with purpose for the next year....the purpose of being able to lead the ministry.  Of course, I knew the board would have the final decision, but I felt it was my duty to have someone completely trained to run the ministry in my absence.  So I did.  By August of this year, I knew it was time.  Things were just coming to a point that I knew it was time to let Selena take the reigns.  In October, I advised my board that I was resigning.  I asked them to consider Selena for the position.  And then the wheels began to turn.  Selena was hired and was given the freedom to hire someone to take her position.  I wanted to help Selena through the holiday seasons (our busiest time) and teach her what I knew.  So my official last day will be December 31, 2012.  Selena will begin as Executive Director January 1, 2013.

There are so many emotions that accompany this transition in my life.  I'm excited.  I'm scared.  I'm anxious but anticipating.  I told some friends that I most look forward to sleeping in a few mornings!  I dread adjusting to a new home budget....but at the same time, I'm excited!  See?  I told you my emotions are all over the place.  I'm going to miss this ministry.  I look back and see just how God has grown me.  I think the most important thing that happened along the way was that I became comfortable with who I am.  And...I was privileged to lead hundreds of people to the Lord in the past 5.5 years...and got comfortable doing it.  That's amazing!!  I've grown to love the extraordinary volunteers and our clients.  I know that with any crisis or calamity, I could be exactly where our clients are.

I know I'm going to feel lost for awhile.  Or maybe not.  Before I began working at Living Water, I was ready to get outside of the 4 walls of the church and be around lost people so I could share my faith.  That happened.  And now I'm anxious to get back inside the 4 walls of the church and minister to so many hurting people who need encouragement and love.  Funny how God does that.  I want to work alongside my husband and minister.  I just want to love on some people.  I want to invite people who go to Living Water to become involved in my church!

Please pray for me.  I've already started grieving the loss of this ministry.  But I'm ecstatic over the new ministry in front of me.  I think for the first time in my life, I'm not trying to twist God's arm.  I'm taking each day as it comes and praising Him that He allows me to be involved at all.  I know He's already got my future carved out.  And I can trust Him.  Change is coming...but I'm learning to embrace change.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Dallas Days

Andy & I did something we never do--we took off for a few days just to be with friends and family.  We went to a formal dinner in Dallas at the Dallas Cowboy Stadium for the Messianic Jewish Bible Instititue.  They honored Glenn Beck as a supporter of Israel and he was their keynote speaker.  Andy & I love Israel and we recently met the founders of this organization through some friends and were invited to attend this dinner by those friends.

There was a display of many scrolls.  This was the Torah in a special case.

It was a real pleasure meeting Glenn Beck.  I appreciate that he loves Israel.  He was very warm and personable.  I've heard that before, but it was very true.   Amy calls this our Olan Mills family photo with Glenn Beck.  Ha!!

This is the group of friends we met in Dallas and spent time with.  These were some of the first people we met in Borger 25 years ago and we love them dearly!!  We went to dinner together at PappaDeaux's the night before and laughed our heads off!!  Oh...are there some stories!  It was great being together.

After the MJBI dinner, we went to spend some time with Jay & Amy and their family.  It felt delicious to take the whole weekend (we hardly ever miss our church on Sundays!) and visit the kids and even go to church with them.  Andy had never been to their church (All Saints Dallas), so it was really special to get to go.

Miss Olivia.  She's getting so big!  And she's becoming such a sweet, thoughtful, caring big sister.  

Miss Hadassah...the little sister.  She's adorable and has managed to quite become a Wright.  She fits right in.

Saturday morning, Andy went to throw the football with Isaac (black shorts) & Josiah (red shirt) and the whole neighborhood turned out for the game.

Mom & Dad attended a wedding of some friends from Dalhart Saturday night, so we had a party.  It included Subway, The Muppets and popcorn and candy.  Later, Buff told an original Buff Bedtime Story.

Josiah took a photo of us girls Sunday morning as we prepared to go to church.  Olivia gave me the bracelet I'm wearing.  We got to participate as Jay led worship at his church and observe a moving service of confirmation.  We had a great time in Dallas!!  

We saw this beautiful sunset on our way home.  We made it home...and 30 minutes later, Andy joined the staff in driving to San Antonio for the evangelism conference!  I, for one, was glad to unpack.  But what great fun we had!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Anniversary Weekend

 It's anniversary weekend.  David & Lindsey asked us a few months ago to babysit for them so they could take an anniversary trip.

They're celebrating 10 years of wedded bliss.

We've been anticipating some quality time with their kids...and vice versa.  I can only hope we've met their expectations.  Because they had some pretty high expectations of these grandparents.
 We started the first night right.  We taught them how to carve and boil a weenie so that it had a face and hair.  (Just like we taught their dad.)  Ryan's had a really mean face and some fabulous hair!

Addie's had a happy face, some great hair and a designer dress!

That first night, Pops took them to a Borger Bulldog football game.  They got their photo taken with the mascot (Addie's favorite part of the game)....and then they sat at the top of the stadium seats to watch the game (Ryan's favorite part).  They came home with a megaphone and clappers.  

Today, Pops had to sing at a funeral in Pampa.  That created a new game plan for us.  We called Granny and made plans to spend the day with her.  And cousin Ben came over!  The boys discussed Tai Kwan Do and then the three of them pretended to be spies behind Granny's great trees.  They had a blast!

While we were there, Addie came in with a pecan she found in the backyard.  Granny told her a squirrel probably dropped it there because she doesn't have a pecan tree.  On her own, Addie went in the backyard and smashed the shell and cleaned it...and ate it!

When we got back to Borger, we went by Mama's house and Ryan got to take a close look at Papa's Indian arrowheads.  He's been fascinated by arrowheads and we even looked for some last week together.  He was pretty impressed.

And, of course, you can't make a trip to Mama's house without enjoying a soda.
We've watched movies, thrown the football, taken deep baths and finished off with hot towels and still have a day of church ahead of us.  It will be over soon.
I'm sure mom and dad know that, too.  I only hope they've had as much fun as we've had...

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Self & Money

I woke up at 3:20 this morning and couldn't go back to sleep.  Usually when that happens, I know God is wanting to spend time with me--to either pray for others or to reveal something to my own heart.

One of the first things that came to me as I awakened was my family.  As I lay there, I prayed for them.  More things began to come to my mind and I knew I wasn't going back to sleep and I also knew I was about to start reading Nehemiah (which excites me!), so I got up to pray and read.  I began praying for our nation and the election.  I began praying for those who've been affected by Hurricane Sandy.  And then it came to me--there are so many disasters going on around me!  Things are out of control.

And then I stopped and asked, "What am I missing God?  What am I not seeing?"  And I looked for the common denominator in all these things and you know what I saw?  Self and money.

Begin listening.  As you listen to the final days of the presidential election, notice how often you hear references to how the candidates are thinking about your best interests (self) and will help you prosper (money) in the days ahead.  We've experienced a terrible disaster on the east coast.  Unfortunately, it will be reduced to ugliness over who does or doesn't get help (self)...financially (money).  (We've seen that one before!)  Many churches are in conflict over who is in control (self) especially in the area of finances (money).  And I'm often reduced to the same.  I want control (self).  I want what I want financially and materially (money).

It hit me.  There's no sacrifice left.  There's no serving God and others.  How did we get so off focus?  It's created a disaster in our nation, in our churches, and in our homes.  It all boils down to the two greatest commandments:  Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength.  Love others as yourself.  Everything is hinged on these 2 commandments.  Everything.

We can either love and serve God and others.  Or we can serve self and money.  And I think we're seeing the disastrous results when we choose self and money over God and others.

The exciting news?  The book of Nehemiah is all about rebuilding the walls which had fallen down in Jerusalem.  We can do some rebuilding of our own by confessing our sin and turning our focus back to loving God and others.  We still have time.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The November Fast

Once again, God showed up at our prayer time this morning...and showed us He wants to change us. As we talked, we realized there was a reoccurring theme in our conversation--offenses.  This led us to examine Matthew 24 where it talks about offenses in the last days.  It actually says (Amplified Bible),

"And then many will be offended and repelled and will begin to distrust and desert [Him Whom they ought to trust and obey] and will stumble and fall away and betray one another and pursue one another with hatred. And many false prophets will rise up and deceive and lead many into error. And the love of the great body of people will grow cold because of the multiplied lawlessness and iniquity, But he who endures to the end will be saved."

We were kind of stunned after we read it.  We just looked at one another.  This is happening...all around us.  People in the church are being offended in record number and have just quit going to church.  The love is growing cold--including ours.  But we agreed that we want to "endure to the end."  

So....we agreed to fast for 30 days in November from Fear, Anger & Offenses.  We'd like to invite you to join us.  We believe these things start out of fear.  Fear we won't get our way, fear people won't like us, fear others won't see we're "right," fear of losing our position, fear of self not being served.  Fear leads to anger which leads to offenses.  So we decided to start at the root and fast from all of it.

Isaiah 30:15 says, "For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel: In returning [to Me] and resting [in Me] you shall be saved; in quietness and in [trusting] confidence shall be your strength." God is going to have to do this through us.  I know I can't do it on my own.  I don't even realize when I start getting angry sometimes--or what I'm fearing!  But I'm trusting the Holy Spirit to quicken my spirit--quickly!  It's only through His power I can fast these things.   God wants to rid me of fear, anger and offenses.  Fear is such an opposite of Who God is!  And He desires more than anything for us to live in unity--not divided over offenses.  Isaiah 30:18 says this, "And therefore the Lord [earnestly] waits [expecting, looking, and longing] to be gracious to you; and therefore He lifts Himself up, that He may have mercy on you and show loving-kindness to you. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed (happy, fortunate, to be envied) are all those who [earnestly] wait for Him, who expect and look and long for Him [for His victory, His favor, His love, His peace, His joy, and His matchless, unbroken companionship]!"  He wants us to have victory in these areas of our lives.

I don't know about you, but I'm weary of offenses--both in taking them up and in offering them.  It's kind of like what the serpent said to Eve, "Has God really said...?"  He offered her fear before he ever offered her fruit.  And he's still doing the same today.  Don't accept the fruit of offense--and don't offer it, either.  Remember:  Eve was drawn away by her emotions and was deceived.

James (1:19) says it best, "Understand [this], my beloved brethren. Let every man be quick to hear [a ready listener], slow to speak, slow to take offense and to get angry."  We three prayer partners tried it out today and we've already found it to be a hard thing.  It's not going to be easy.  But I know a fast from these three things which are tripping us up will only be beneficial.  So we've committed to fasting for 30 days.  And we invite you to join us.  The November Fast--For 30 Days.  We want to start a movement of Endurers!  Spread the word.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

25 Years of Blessings

Andy took the position of Student Minister at First Baptist Borger 25 years ago this month.  Wow!  We've been in Borger, TX 25 years.

When we came,
Andy was 37 years old.
I was 32 years old.
Matt was entering 4th grade.
Amy was entering 3rd grade.
David was 5 years old.
Zach was 2 1/2 years old.

Gary Miller was the pastor who brought us to Borger.  Since then, we've served under Gregg Simmons, Scott Maze and Steve Taylor.  About 14 years into our tenure, Andy changed positions and became Minister of Evangelism & Missions.  He's also served in many capacities when we were without ministers.  He's served as children's minister, worship leader, and senior adult minister.

To gain perspective, Amy is now older than I was when we came.  And Zach has children close to the age he was when we came.

I wish I could expound on everything I've learned in the past 25 years...but maybe that's a post for later.  Instead, I can tell you that we are rich beyond words in friendships and relationships.  God has blessed us indeed.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Dietz Brothers

Andy Dietz on left and his twin brother, Phil Dietz, on right.
Singing at Living Water, Borger, TX

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Amazon & Me

I'm already in the mode.  Amazon already has some of my money and I've already made a trip to Amarillo to hit a couple of places.  Christmas is coming!  I have a grandchild coming this week who I'm sure will give me her wish list so I can either give Amazon more money or make another trip to Amarillo.  I love it.  I put great thought into it.  I have some Pinterest ideas which will appear under the tree.  With an expanding family, I can't do every idea I I'm hoping the ideas I implement hit the bullseye.  I just don't know how I'm going to beat the helicopter idea for the big guys last year.  Now that was success!  How did I do this before Amazon?

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Political Politics

Politics have become more and more political.  Not only do politicians spout their expected rhetoric, now they have to follow the political guidelines of posture, tone of voice, turn of their heads, intensity, etc., nauseum.

What do I want?  I just want someone to come out and totally be themselves and share their hearts.  If they shed a tear, that would be acceptable.  I want someone with such honesty that they'd be apt to tell on themselves.  But I want someone who loves God with all of their heart, soul, mind and strength--unashamedly.  I want someone with strong, godly convictions.  I want someone who appreciates how our country was founded and the sacrifices which have been made to maintain our freedoms.  I want someone who wants to hold to the Constitution of the United States and the Declaration of Independence.  I want someone who loves and serves others more than themselves.  That pretty much sums it up.

Monday, October 15, 2012


Some people like change. They prove it by doing something as minimal as moving their furniture weekly or by doing something as extravagant as moving to another country.  But most of us have a problem with change.  We begin to feel insecure when things around us change.  It signifies that we're losing control.

I guess what has helped me most is to recognize I never had control.  It's an illusion to think we do.  But the good news is that we have a God who is in control...and He never changes (since all things are consumed in Him).  He never changes, but things around us are changing all the time.  Living things change.  The only changes dead things make is decomposition.

I think one of the hardest places to allow and even embrace change is in the church.  But if the church is the Bride of Christ, we have to expect her to grow, mature and...change.  I'd hate for people to expect me to be the same person I was 37 years ago as a bride.  How restrictive!  I've grown, matured, and changed.  In fact, I don't even feel like the same person I was back then.

It's just easier and more convenient for us if things remain the same.  We don't have to learn anything new nor be stretched.  And it leaves us feeling in control of our lives.

Change can be a scary thing.  But it can also be a great adventure!  I think I'll choose change over decomposition.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Dax & Gus

I went to Lubbock last weekend to keep Dax & Gus while their mommy & daddy went out of town.  While I was there, both boys got sick.  But I got some good pics of them before that happened--and even after it happened.  I'd kind of forgotten how hard it is to take care of sick kids.  As a result, Dax got to watch lots of Elmo and Gus got lots of swing time while the other child was being cared for.  I love these boys---they're so dang cute!!

I brought a couple of costumes for the boys.  This is Dax the Spider.  

Gus will probably hate this picture later--him in a gown.  But isn't he sweet?

Dax reminds me so much of his daddy at this age.  He loved to perform and wear crazy things for hats.  So does Dax.

I hadn't noticed the little dimples on Gus' mouth until this photo.  It reminds me of the dimples on his cousin, Josiah.

Dax stopped the swing to help put the pacifier in Gus' mouth.

Sweet Gus
(He's so laid back!)
You can hear Dax singing with Elmo in the background...

Dax dancing with the robot
(Sorry, Dad...I didn't notice him dripping the bottle!)

Saturday, September 29, 2012


What is it you hope the following generations don't forget?  I've watched the conflict that has arisen in our churches over "worship" (meaning which songs we sing) and the way we dress at church.  I finally had an older man explain to me that he was afraid the next generations were going to forget the songs that his generation loves and not come to church and give their best to God (meaning the way they dress).  I totally understand what he's saying.  I honestly believe it comes down to respect. I want to respect the generations who have preceded me.  Hymns aren't necessarily my favorite songs with which to praise God--but I respect the generations who love it.  I honor that the words in those songs are passing down truth about God from one generation to another.  I don't love wearing dresses, nylon stockings, and heels to church, but I totally respect how important it is to the older generation.  They feel like they're offering their best to God by dressing that way.  I honor it...even though I may not pattern myself after it.

What do I treasure that I hope the following generations will embrace?  Truth.  There's almost a panic in my heart as I watch the younger generations.  Believing that there is a right and a wrong is dying.  Believing that God's Word is the standard is becoming obsolete.  If I could make sure the next generations cling to one thing, it would be...


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

My dad is still speaking...

"[Prompted, actuated] by faith Abel brought God a better and more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, because of which it was testified of him that he was righteous [that he was upright and in right standing with God], and God bore witness by accepting and acknowledging his gifts. And though he died, yet [through the incident] he is still speaking."  Hebrews 11:4 (Amplified  Emphasis mine)

I was reading this the other day and the last line hit me between the eyes!  I had to ask myself how those who've gone to heaven before us in our lifetime are still speaking to us today.  My logical place to start was with my dad.  Dad died 9 years ago.  What lessons did he leave behind that are still speaking to us today?  

My dad was a very unassuming man.  He was a mailman.  Not a postal worker...a mailman.  My dad loved people and he loved to laugh!  He was a practical joker--and was still at it after he'd had a stroke 6 months before he died.  Mom had hidden the car keys to keep dad from driving (trust me--he had no business driving!).  He continually found her new hiding spot and would go to the garage and start the car.  Later, he told us kids it was "to see your mom come running"--as he laughed.

If I had to choose 2 key lessons my dad taught me, the first one would be to forgive.  I had a teacher who embarrassed me in front of my entire class in 9th grade.  My dad's first response after learning what had happened was to tell me to greet that teacher the next morning with a cheerful "Hi, Mr.____!  How are you?"  My dad didn't elaborate, but I learned by doing this that I couldn't greet my teacher that way without first forgiving him.  My dad never sat me down and "taught" me anything.  He never expounded on anything with me.  Everything he taught was by example or from a conversation after I told him what was going on.

Another came about 10 years later, after I was married.  I was supposed to meet my parents for the evening, but conflict with extended family prevented me from coming.  When I called them (crying my heart out), my dad answered the phone and when I told him what was going on, he told me, "You're right where you need to be.   It's where we'd want you to be, if we could choose.  We'll see you soon...I promise."  From that experience, my dad freed me to do what I needed to do and to be where I needed to be.  He wasn't possessive of our relationship and was, in fact, quite confident of our love for one another.  I knew he loved me unconditionally and wasn't jealous of my other relationships.

Ok...and I guess my third favorite lesson my dad taught me was to laugh.  Never to take myself too seriously and to enjoy others through laughter.  I'm sure that's why I have such a big {loud} laugh.

When I asked my sister, Sandra, what life lessons dad taught her, she reminded me of some things that spoke to me as well.  Dad loved woodworking.  And he didn't just "allow" the grandkids to come to his shop...he enjoyed them being there.  He was patient and kind with them and let them use his wood and his tools.  I know my son is a builder today because of his granddad's influence on him.  Sandra was still at home when dad retired.  Dad worked 2-3 jobs our entire lives.  But Sandra observed that when dad retired, he knew how to slow down..and enjoy it.  I have to comment on that.  I never felt slighted by dad working so much.  I think I knew he was doing it for us.  We took great family vacations and he worked extra jobs to pay for those vacations.

Dad wasn't afraid to admit when he was wrong.   Sandra said that her son, Scott, confronted his Papa about smoking.  And dad gave up smoking on Scott's birthday.  He was also loyal.  If you were his friend, you were always his friend.  

I think it was obvious that my dad's life touched many people by how many attended his funeral.  He was a simple man who quietly worked behind the scenes.  He was proof to me that love speaks loudly and draws people in.

Yes.  My dad still speaks today.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Dax & Gus Came to Visit

Shanna and the boys are in town.  Her sister, Amanda, has come in from Alaska and they're enjoying a great visit in Borger.  We were blessed that they came by to see us!

Gee with her arms full of lovin'!  How exciting that Gus had his eyes open.

Like this?  You want me to pose like this?
He's such a cutie--and already changing so much.

Dax wasn't sure he wanted to come in the house with me until I bribed him with the car.

Pops (or "Pa" according to Dax) was holding Gus when he began to tune up for a good cry.  I didn't catch the full pout at the right moment.

And finally....I did catch Dax in rolling his eyes at me.  He is hysterical!  If you annoy him, you get the eye roll.
And it's hard not to laugh.

Running for My Life by Lopez Lomong

As I perused the book selection for a book to review on the BookSneeze website, I decided to choose a book which had a 5 star rating.   At the time, there was only 1.  And that book was Running for My Life by Lopez Lomong.  It had a 5 star rating--and 99 people had already posted reviews.  That is quite a feat!  As I read the synopsis of the book, I realized it was a book I wanted to read, too.

Lopez Lomong is a Lost Boy of Sudan.  As a 6-year-old, he was stolen out of his mother's arms while at church by the rebel Sudanese army and taken to a prison camp.  Three boys from his hometown reassured Lopez that they would take care of him.  It was these three boys who later stole him out at night to take him home.  They ran for three days.  Unfortunately, they went the wrong direction and ended up in Kenya.  They were taken at the Kenyan border and placed in a refugee camp--where Lopez remained for the next 10 years, eating one meal a day.  The ten boys he roomed with in the refugee camp became his family.  During this time, Lopez also assumed his parents were dead--or they would have come to look for him.  One night, his "family" went to a nearby Kenyan's home where they each paid five schillings to watch a black and white television hooked up to a car battery.  They were there to watch the Olympics and Lopez watched as Michael Johnson won his race.  A dream was placed in his heart at that moment.

Lopez attended school in the refugee camp but only had a stick with which to write in the dirt.  For the rest of the day, all of the boys played soccer.  Since so many boys wanted to play, the young leaders made a new requirement--each boy must run the 18 miles around the camp in order to play.  So each day, Lopez ran the 18 miles so he could play soccer.  One day at church in the refugee camp, the Lost Boys were told that a limited amount of boys were going to be taken to America and they had to write an essay in English to be considered.  Lopez's essay was among one of the ones chosen (and he didn't know English)...and he was soon on his way to America and to his own dream of running in the Olympics.

Lopez's story touched my heart in so many ways.  He remembered many of the Bible stories his mother taught him as a child and he clung to those in terrifying moments.  Lopez had tenacity and the fight to live along with a positive attitude.  It was fun (and also sad and guilt-inducing) seeing America through his eyes.  It was incredible to see him succeed against such great odds.  It was humbling to watch his American (sponsoring) family love him and fight for him.  You can go to his website and watch video of him telling his own story.

I'm adding my five stars to the rest.  This is definitely a book you will want to read--I highly recommend it!
Thank you to Thomas Nelson Publishers for providing this book for review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Scent of Rain by Kristin Billerbeck

I usually laugh all the way through a Kristin Billerbeck novel...but not so much on this one.  There were a few guffaws at points, but The Scent of Rain wasn't as wildly humorous as most of her books.  In fact, I thought the ending to this book was quite odd.  If it hadn't had an epilogue, you would have been shaking your head wondering if the author had gone to wash the dishes or something and forgotten she was finishing a book.

Here's the synopsis of this book: Daphne Sweeten is left standing at the altar.  She'd created a fragrance for her fiancee' which she was giving as a gift to everyone who attended the wedding.  Daphne is a chemist who develops scents.  The problem after being left at the altar is that the trauma has left her without a sense of smell.  And...she's just been hired by a new company as a "nose"--a person who develops scents for products--in this case, cleaning products.  When she gets to Dayton, Ohio she finds a company struggling to stay afloat and depending on her nose to succeed.  She also finds that the guy who left her at the altar also traded the beautiful house her father had given them for a wedding gift for a fixer-upper--and taken the difference in the money with him to Paris--to her old job.

If you haven't read any of Billerbeck's books before, you'll find plenty to chuckle about in this book.  But for those who are Billerbeck fans, I think you'll be mildly disappointed.  I give this book 4 out of 5 stars.
Thank you to Thomas Nelson Publishers for providing this book for review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

The Choice by Robert Whitlow

What a great book!  I love Robert Whitlow's books.  And this book is a departure from the subject matter of most of his books.  I downloaded the ebook of The Choice yesterday and couldn't put it down.

The Choice follows the life of Sandy Lincoln who is 17-years-old in 1974.  Sandy is a cheerleader and gets pregnant by the football star her senior year in high school.  The first part of the story chronicles each of Sandy's choices as she follows her heart--and the advice of an old woman at a gas station.  The old woman tells her that she's pregnant with twin sons and that if they ever meet, one of them will die.  And in fact, Sandy does have twin boys...and she chooses to give them up for two different families.  The case is sealed and can only be opened if either of the boys chooses to search for their mother.

Sandy never marries and becomes a dedicated high school English teacher.  She loves her students and becomes involved with a young hispanic girl, Maria, who tells her she's pregnant.  In order to help Maria (who doesn't speak much English), she takes her to a young lawyer who is able to begin the process of protecting her rights.  As Sandy meets with this young lawyer, she notices a photo of him as a young child in front of a house.  A house Sandy recognizes.  And Sandy is faced with yet another choice--thirty-three years later.

This is such a redemptive story.  And it's told in a very engaging way.  I highly recommend this book.  I'd give it 5 out of 5 stars.
Thank you to Thomas Nelson Publishers for providing this book for review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

The Blessed Church by Robert Morris

If you've read my book reviews before, you know that I like a lot of books.  But there are few books that I love so much that I'm willing to purchase them for people I hope will read them.  This is one of those books.  For anyone on the staff of a church, I highly recommend this book.  Robert Morris brilliantly shares the things he's learned from growing a church from the ground up.  His humble attitude is refreshing and creates a desire to learn from him.

Robert has an effortless style of writing which will allow you to get through this book quickly and easily.  In this book, you will learn about how to gain vision for your church, how to lead and shepherd your church, how to choose leaders, how to follow your pastor, and all about church governance.  I don't think this book is strictly for church leaders (pastor, staff, elders, etc.).  I also think church members would gain a lot by understanding what a pastor does (his decisions, boundaries, etc.)--even what to look for when your church is looking for a pastor.  It would also assist a church in trouble to understand how a church could/should be governed.

At one point in the book, Robert tells how many churches today are falling into a ditch on either side of church governance.  There are churches who have given complete authority to a pastor and many of those pastors are failing either morally or in their shepherding because there's no accountability.  And then there are churches who are failing because lay leaders have so much control that it's choking the vision of the pastor.  I think this book and Robert's church give an example of how to have a balanced church.  We can certainly learn from the things he's learned.

I'd give this book 5 out of 5 stars!
Thank you to WaterBrook Press for providing this book for review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Manipulation of Your Mind

I finished reading the book, Hidden in Dreams, by Davis Bunn.  This fiction book is about a medicine which was developed for ADHD but a side effect was manipulation of the dream state in people.  And people wanting power and control used it for their own evil purposes to create dreams in people who were in positions of power and leadership.

And this morning, I began reading The Bishop of Rwanda by Bishop John Rucyahana.  (On sale on Amazon)  This book tells the story of how the Belgians created so much animosity and division among the Tutsi and Hutu people that the end result was a genocide of over 1 million people.  Bishop John makes the point that before the evil work of the Belgians to divide a nation, it would be like trying to find a difference between the Irish & Norwegians who'd been in America for generations.  There was no tribal or language division.  In fact, there had been so much intermarriage, you couldn't tell substantial differences between the two peoples.  They'd lived in peace for over 500 years.  And yet...there was a mass genocide.

Reading these two books back-to-back has startled me.  Both books are about manipulation of the mind.  In the first book, people had no idea they were being manipulated.  The second book was a slow and subtle division of people by manipulation.  And it made me start thinking about how our minds are being manipulated today.  I remember the first time I went to Tibet (well, actually, the only time!).  A loud speaker came on across the city of Lhasa each morning.  The message lasted about 30 minutes.  When I asked Marcy what they were saying, her response was, "The government's propoganda."  Immediately, I began to think of our own government.  Do we have propoganda?  And if so, how is it issued?

Recently, I've been very disturbed by the political anger and seeming hatred being thrown about on Facebook.  It disturbs me.  I'm not suggesting that we be silent when we need to speak up.  But I'm wondering if the hatred is a part of our minds being manipulated.  Bishop John said that by the time of the genocide, pastors were luring their membership into the safe haven of their churches with the intent of killing them.  How do church leaders get to that point?  By allowing their minds to be manipulated.

I'm just advocating that each of us examine ourselves.  Have we been manipulated by the enemy?  I'm reminded of the Bible verse that says, "[Inasmuch as we] refute arguments and theories and reasonings and every proud and lofty thing that sets itself up against the [true] knowledge of God; and we lead every thought and purpose away captive into the obedience of Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One)..."   Take your thoughts captive.  Don't be manipulated.  Be a seeker of TRUTH and love.  Anger leads to murder...even if it's only in your heart.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Sopapilla Cheesecake  I made this this morning for my prayer group.  (Of course we don't just pray!  We meet, eat, and catch up.  Then...we pray.)  I promise you...I could have eaten THIS WHOLE THING all by myself!  I knew I didn't need the 5/6 remaining at my house, so I took it to work to share with all our great volunteers.  I had another piece (or 2) for lunch.  Just looking at the picture makes me want to run back up there and get the remaining 4 pieces in the Living Water fridge and bring them home and eat them!    I know most of you already pinterest and have probably pinned this to your board.  But for those who don't, you must make this!!  Every woman at Living Water asked for the recipe and said they were making it this week.  Did I tell you it's YUMMY?????

Sopapilla Cheesecake

-2 cans pillsbury butter crescent rolls
-2 (8oz) packages cream cheese (softened)
-1 cup sugar
-1 teaspoon vanilla
-1/4 cup butter (melted)
-Cinnamon & sugar

Unroll and spread 1 can crescent rolls on bottom of un-greased 9x13 pan. Combine softened cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla. Spread mixture over crescent rolls. Unroll and spread remaining crescent rolls over mixture. Spread melted butter over the top and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Little Worker Bees...or not?

As you know, I went to visit Zach & Shanna this past week and to help out with 2 little boys.  Mostly, I entertained the 18-month-old Dax while Shanna took care of baby Gus and Zach got used to a new job.  Of course, I got my hands on baby Gus plenty of times and kissed those fat cheeks.

I learned pretty quickly that Dax is indeed enamored with his mommy's broom.  It's one of the new words he's saying that you can understand pretty clearly (that and "outside").  Anytime the broom comes out, he wants a turn.  He's really cute with it!  So he and I made a trip to Target with one goal clearly in mind:  to get Dax his own child-sized broom.  Easy task, right?

Wrong.  I went down all the toy aisles looking for a child's broom.  Nothing.  I went to the adult broom section to see if there was a short broom.  None.  So I gave up in Target.  The next day, we were making a Wal-Mart run anyway, so I decided to check out the toy section there for a broom.  Nada.  In fact, it occurred to me that there were NO "working toys."  I didn't find a vacuum, iron/ironing board or any cleaning/working toys.  Really?   At first I thought it was pretty funny.  But then it made me think.  Is it really a reflection of our society that we're not teaching our children to help out at home and work?  Are they all being taught to be princesses and super heroes (the main toys in the toy section) without any responsibility?

Fear not.  I found a child's broom online.  We're going to encourage that little guy to sweep!  After all...Cinderella knew how to work before she became a princess.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Lubbock Trip

I came home yesterday after spending a few days in Lubbock.  I was anxious to get to meet Gus!  He's such a cutie. 
He looks a lot like his big brother, Dax.  But totally different.

This was the first morning I was there.  Dax's first act of the morning was to tell "baby" good morning!  (This picture reminds me so much of one of Matt looking at baby Amy for the first time!)

This was Gus on his way to see the doctor to get his foot pricked.  He was such a good baby!

I was thrilled to get to watch Lissa come and take the new family photos.  And of course, pics of Gus.

Lissa has such great ideas for family photo shoots.  I just got to tag along and kill ants and stand on my head so Dax would smile.  You can see how successful I was! ha!

While I was there, Dax wanted me to go outside with him all day every day.  He LOVES being outdoors.  And he especially likes walking to Michael & Heather Murry's house next door.  He wanted to ring the doorbell to see if they were home....but couldn't reach it.

Gus sleeps and eats.

Dax was chillin' on his pillow pet.

Gus even opened his eyes occasionally to give us a good look at him!

I couldn't believe that Shanna went outside and buried some stepping stones.  But it gave Dax a great opportunity to dig in the dirt...outside.

This is the new family in front of their house--which is for sale, by the way.  If you need a nice 3 bedroom house in Lubbock, let us know!

Dax digging in the dirt.  You can hear Gus hiccuping in the background!