Sunday, November 30, 2008

Thankfulness--Day 30

Well, I made it. Thirty days of thankfulness. This has been a most interesting journey. Some days I couldn't wait to get to the computer to write and other days, honestly, I racked my brain right up until the last minute for a token gratitude. Somewhere about the middle of the month, we got so busy that we stopped writing down our blessings, but we still still made it a point to discuss them over dinner each night. So, how has Hallie progressed? Was this the antidote to cure her whining? Well, she is showing some improvement, but I'm not sure if it was due to this exercise or the fact that BigJoel promised her a hamster if she didn't whine between now and Christmas. (I don't think he believed she could actually pull it off and had absolutely no intention of getting her a hamster. But that's the thing about Hallie, she'll call your bluff when you least expect it.) Anyway, did she learn her lesson about being grateful? Its hard to say, but she taught me a tremendous truth. You see, we try to provide a good life for Hallie. She has a nice house, clothes to wear, toys to play with and food to eat. She has friends and family who love her. She doesn't get everything she asks for, but that's because we as parents know that not everything is beneficial for her, like say, a hamster. *ahem* We can see the big picture and despite what she believes, we really are smarter than we look. So it frustrates me to no end when she is ungrateful for all we do for her. Its maddening when she complains about wanting something I know full well will only bring disappointment or even danger. I'm saddened when she does not appreciate the sacrifices we make for her. Wait a minute... that sounds just like someone else I know...ugh, its me! My Heavenly Father has done so much for me, provided for me and even sacrificed His Only Son. Yet how many times do I whine about insignificant things? or bicker with my Christian brothers and sisters? or ask for things that really are not good for me in the long run? So is it possible that God gave me Hallie and her oh-so-unique personality to teach me about myself and the relationship He desires to have with me? I think it is not only possible, but probable.
For all of this and so very much more, I am exceedingly thankful...and humbled.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Thankfulness--Day 29

Today I am thankful that Big Joel is home. He travels a LOT during the year, but he got home this past Monday and will be here for the entire month of December. One of the best things about me not working now, is that when he's home we get to goof off. We have had some really great days doing absolutely nothing. This week, the girls have been on Fall break. Yesterday, we drove to Hill Country to have Thanksgiving with my dad. Today, we put up one of the Christmas trees and took the girls to a movie. Tomorrow we will go to church together as a family. All of these things I would have done even if he were on the road, but I am so grateful that he is here. I love laughing with him and watching him pester/play with the girls. He is a lot of fun to have around. Yep, I think he's a keeper.
For this and so much more, I am very thankful.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Thankfulness--Day 28

Today I'm thankful for the opportunity to travel. Most of the places we go are because of BigJoel's job. Probably the only perk to his being gone so much is when we get to meet up with him somewhere fun. Here are a few of my favorites:

For this and so much more, I am very thankful.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thankfulness--Day 27

"Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.
Know that the LORD is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.
Psalm 100

For His enduring goodness, love, faithfulness and so much more, I am very thankful.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thankfulness--Day 26

Today I am thankful for my family's health. In a way that seems so cliche, but I'd be remiss if I didn't acknowledge that my husband, my children and I are incredibly blessed with good health.

I read so may heart wrenching blogs from people who are dealing with terminal illness. My soul aches for them. I know people whose children suffer from incurable diseases that have forever changed their lives. I can only imagine. Then there are those who are trying desperately to conceive, have endured miscarriages and stillbirths, or face the uphill battle of trying to help people understand their child's extreme special needs. I am moved beyond words, but I know I have no frame of reference because I have not walked in those shoes. I have never been one to look at other people's situations and say, "Wow, that really makes me thankful for what I have." To me that implies a mentality of "I'm-glad-its-them-and-not-me". I do not try to put myself in their place and think about if it were my child or my husband, because that takes the focus off of their pain and puts it on me. And its not about me. So I pray for these people, some I have never met, and some I've known my whole life. I pray for them, not because I imagine how they feel based on what I imagine I would feel in that situation; but because I know The One who does know exactly how they feel.

But last night our pastor said that thankfulness has three roles: recognizes God's position as Creator and Sustainer. provides a means for us to bless God. is an instrument of remembering our place before Him.

So while I do not want to have a "thank-goodness-its-not-me" outlook, I also cannot take for granted the health our family enjoys. I don't know why He's blessed us, but I want to bless Him with my overflowing gratitude.

For our health and so much more, I am very thankful.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Thankfulness--Day 25

Today I am thankful for Facebook. If you haven't joined the fun yet, you must get in on it right now! I originally started because my daughter wanted a page and I felt I should "investigate". Now I'm so much more hooked than she is! It has been such fun to get re-acquainted with friends from college that I haven't seen in 20 years, friends from high school, and former students that came through Joel's youth ministry or my classroom. (Some of my 1st graders have graduated from high school, and even college! Man, I'm old!) My favorite part of Facebook is the way people refer to themselves in the third person when posting their status. For example, right now my status is "Denyse is declaring martial law to get this house ready for the holidays!" when in fact it should read "Denyse is supposed to be cleaning house, but is blogging instead."
For this and so much more, Denyse is very thankful.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Weekly Pic--The Way We Were

Announcing our engagement--September 1991

Thankfulness--Day 24

Today I am thankful for forgiveness. I read a story about how, after 42 years, the Vatican has decided to forgive John Lennon for his infamous "The Beatles are more famous than Jesus" remark. Seriously? It took 42 years to realize that this was merely a "boast" by a young man grappling with sudden fame? Not to mention the fact that Lennon has been dead for over 20 years...will his soul now rest in peace? Forty two years. A boastful remark. No wonder the world sees the church as hyper-critical hypocrites.

However, this story also reminded me of the attention garnered by Pope John Paul II in 1984 when he met with, and offered forgiveness to the man who had tried to assassinate him only a few short years before. It made the cover of Time Magazine and inspired a song by Steve Taylor (whom I LOVED as a teenager).

To Forgive

I saw a man
He was holding the hand
That had fired a gun at his heart
Oh, will we live to forgive?
I saw the eyes
And the look of surprise
As he left an indelible mark
Oh, will we live to forgive?
Come.......find release
Go...........make your peace
Follow his lead, Let the madness recede
When we shatter the cycle of pain
Oh, will we live to forgive
I saw a man With a hole in His hand
Who could offer the miracle cure
Oh, He said live
I forgive
Oh, He said live
To forgive

And I'm convicted. What kind of person am I? The kind that holds a grudge over a foolish mistake for 40 years? Or the kind that could hold the hand of a man who had fired a gun at my heart? I am so very grateful that Jesus was the latter. And because I've been forgiven, I live.
For this and so much more, I am very thankful.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Thankfulness--Day 23

Today I am thankful for my husband, Joel. You may be wondering why I waited so long to get around to him, but today is our 17th wedding anniversary. In some ways, I can't believe its only been 17 years because it seems so much longer (I mean that in the very best way). We dated for six and a half years before we got married and had been good friends before that. I can hardly remember a time where he wasn't a part of my life in one way or another. And yet in other ways, I can't believe its already been 17 years. It seems like just yesterday that he proposed to me on the stage at the very same youth camp where we'd decided to begin dating six years before. It doesn't seem so long ago that I walked down the aisle of the church where we'd both grown up and saw him, my groom, waiting for me, smiling.

In junior high and high school, I had a pretty serious, but on-again/off-again boyfriend. It was not a healthy relationship. I isolated myself from my girlfriends and allowed him to determine my self-worth. My senior year, I finally had a maturity growth spurt and realized that was not how I wanted to spend the rest of my life. This was due in large part to long conversations with Joel and his best friend, Jarrod. They helped me see that I deserved better. Yet, honestly, I never could have guessed what the Lord had in store.

When we first started dating, I'd just graduated from high school , but because I'm 5months smarter (ok, older) than Joel, he still had one year left. I assumed we'd go out through the summer, but that when I left for college, he'd want to be "free" to enjoy his senior year. Instead, he wrote me a letter every. single. day. of my freshman year. Seriously. That was back (in the Dark Ages) before cell phones, texting, or even email, and yet...a letter every day.

Joel is often described as a "big teddy bear." He truly is one of the most genuine people you could ever have the privilege of knowing. He is kind and gentle, yet strong at the same time. He is good at whatever he puts his hand to. He is an amazing father. He's smart and funny and handsome, too. His smile and warm brown eyes still melt my heart the same today as 23 years ago. I feel safe and loved and happy whenever he's around. And I still, after all these years, cannot believe that God blessed me with a soulmate like Joel. As a matter of fact, next to sending His Son to die for my sins, having Joel in my life is one of the most tangible ways I feel God's love demonstrated. I'm sorry. I know I'm being terribly sappy, but I honestly cannot say enough about the man I married on this day, 17 years ago.

For Joel, and the godly husband and father he is, I am so very thankful.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Thankfulness--Day 22

Today I am thankful for my husband's sense of humor...and text messaging. Yesterday I went to the craft store to get some supplies. As I was standing in the bead aisle, there was an elderly man and woman discussing beading wire. They were bickering. At first I thought it was just good-natured marital banter, but then I realized what horrible things the man was saying and that he was serious. "I should have known better than to bring you here...Why do you need someone who works here? They're going to tell you the same thing I just did...Read the package yourself if you don't believe me..." Finally, the woman said, "Don't make a fool of yourself here in public." I guess they realized how loud their discussion had become. At this point, he unleashed a string of profanity and words so harsh that I know the look of horror must have shown on my face even though I was trying desperately to busy myself with choosing a toggle clasp. "Just get it, and let's go!" he said gruffly and herded the poor old woman toward the front muttering even more ugly words under his breath. I stood there somewhat stunned for a moment...trying to decide whether to laugh because they were having such a silly argument over choosing between 24 gauge or 28 gauge wire; or cry because they had both spewed such foul and bitter words and treated each other so awfully. I was sorry for them. So I texted Joel and said, "Please promise me that when I'm old and can't decide what I need from the bead aisle, you won't cuss at me." As I typed, I realized that he's shopped with me enough and knows full well how indecisive I can be, especially when it comes to beading supplies. If he hasn't lost his temper yet, he's probably not going to. And since he never, ever uses foul language, it was a doubly moot point. However, in typical BigJoel style, he replied (and I quote) "F%*& that $#@+!" I laughed out loud. Right there in the store. I *effin* love that guy.

For this and so much more, I am very thankful.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Thankfulness--Day 21

Today's guest blogger is Hallie. Just remember that she is 8.
I am most thankful for friends and family, because no matter where I am they are always by my side. I'm thankful for Miss Teacher, because she takes time out of her day to teach us. I'm thankful for the people I can trust, because they are trustworthy to me. I'm thankful for doctors, because they will help you when you are sick. I'm thakful for school,because without it we would not have good education. I'm thankful for love, because without love no one would be here except for Adam and Eve because they would not have loved and had kids. *ahem* Remember she is 8. I'm thankful for me, because I am unique and I'm the only

For a child-like heart and so much more, I am very thankful.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Thankfulness--Day 20

Today I am thankful for my jewelry hobby/obsession. Until I started making jewelry three years ago, I had no idea that creating something could be a relaxing and rewarding hobby. You see, I'm what I like to call an impatient perfectionist. I want things to be perfect, but I also lose interest quickly. For example, I tried to learn to sew. I took sewing classes and even made a "formal" dress for a dance in high school. But I found that if I couldn't begin and finish a project in one day, it would never get done. And I also failed at mastering button-holes and zippers. There are only so many one-day-buttonless-zipperless project out there, so I gave up sewing.

I tried gardening, or working in the yard, to be exact. People always talk about how working the soil is cathartic. Well for me, no. It's dirty. It gets under my nails. And it's hot outside because I live in Texas. Plus I always manage to kill even the plants that are supposed to be "hearty and foolproof". So this is not a relaxing, rewarding hobby for me.

Quilting...I made one, very, very simple and very, very small quilt when I was expecting HannahKate. It was her favorite. She called it her "mommy blanket". But, alas, even though quilts don't have buttonholes or zippers, to do it right takes longer than just one day. (Please don't mention to Hallie that I made a blanket for the second child, she already feels mistreated.)

So, on to scrapbooking. Several of my friends are really into this. Some of them even have the luxury of a whole room dedicated to creating cherished works of art that would rival most scrapbooking stores. But I get overwhelmed when I think about having to photograph and journal about every event in our lives. I knew it was not for me when I saw the most precious picnic paper with watermelons and ants one day and found myself thinking, "Wouldn't that be adorable to take pictures of the girls eating watermelons outside this summer?" Seriously, I was planning a "photo shoot" inspired by a piece of paper. Shouldn't it be the other way around?

Let's see...what else? Oh, my friend Kristi tried to teach me to crochet. I actually found it very relaxing, but I cannot for the life of me master turning the corner at the end of a row. So for a while I was content with just making a shapeless blob of green yarn because I enjoyed it and felt sure that after just "one more row" I'd get the hang of it. But when BigJoel asked me if I was crocheting astroturf for a football field, I knew it was time to give it up.

But about three years ago, Joel wanted to know what I'd like for my birthday. I told him I'd always wanted to learn how to make bracelets. So he took me to the craft store and bought one of everything on the beading aisle...literally...well, almost literally. I was trying to envision what I would need to make just one bracelet and he was piling the cart full of tools and beads and books and all sorts of stuff. It was truly one of the best gifts ever because so many times I don't finish a project because I'm missing one important component and by the time I run to the store to get it, life has moved on and I'm left with a half-done mess. With that birthday shopping spree, I was set! I had lots of choices and plenty of materials and could just let my imagination run wild. Now I understand how a hobby can be relaxing, rewarding, cathartic, enjoyable and therapeutic! (Of course since my dining room has become the "jewelry studio" and the housework is frequently neglected when inspiration strikes, BigJoel probably regrets getting me started and wishes he had taken me on a shopping spree down the cleaning supplies aisle instead!) **sigh**
For a hobby that brings me untold joy and so much more, I am very thankful.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Thankfulness--Day 19

Today I am thankful for my mother. This would have been her 75th birthday had she not succumbed to diabetes and heart disease fifteen years ago.

My mother was an amazing woman. She could play the piano by ear and had a beautiful soprano voice. Unfortunately for me, I did not inherit her musical abilities. After eight years of piano lessons, I still can't play in front of an audience (here an audience is defined as "anyone else in the room") and I have what can only be described as a "functional alto" voice. But she instilled in me a love for music, especially old hymns.

My mother taught me rules of etiquette. She used to take me and my friends to fancy restaurants in Dallas or to see The Nutcracker at Christmas time so we could "practice being ladies". "Polishing her diamonds in the rough" is what she called it. She taught me that young ladies do not call young men on the phone nor do they sit in their laps. Words of wisdom like, "If you'll do that in public, people wonder what more you will do in private" and "It only takes an instant to ruin a reputation," as well as "I will trust you until you prove you can't be trusted," reverberated in my teenage brain and kept me from making many foolish mistakes.

As her health began to decline, she always kept a positive attitude. When her leg had to be amputated due to an infection, she put us all at ease by saying, "That just means I have my foot in the door of Heaven." The picture above is my mom (seated) and Joel's mom at our reception. She had spent the entire week leading up to the wedding in the hospital with pneumonia. Through countless doctor visits and hospitalizations, she kept her cheerful disposition and wound up ministering to almost everyone she came in contact with--doctors, nurses, hospital roommates, therapists, and housekeeping personnel. That is not to say she didn't have bad days or bouts of depression; but even in those dark times, she sought refuge in her Saviour.

She took me to church and taught me about Jesus, as much in deed as in her words. She prayed for me. She prayed for the man I would marry. When Joel surrendered to the ministry, we were still just dating. As a gift, she gave him a beautiful blue Italian glass fish he'd admired on her ettigere many times. She told him, "So that you will always remember to be a fisher of men". I'd had my eye on that fish for years and made it quite clear that I would have it in my house someday. So I told Joel, "She gave you MY fish, that is more binding than an engagement ring!" I think Eunice knew what she was doing all along :)

She had a wonderful sense of humor; although nine times out of ten, she'd botch the punchline to a joke. She just loved to laugh. And it was infectious. When I was growing up and would have friends over, I think she giggled as much as we did...maybe more.

My mother also had a great sense of decorating style. I grew up in a house where the walls changed colors almost as often as the seasons. Sometimes, I get a little twinkle in my eye and Joel will sigh, "You're gonna make me paint something, aren't you?"

I could go on and on, but still not find the words to express all that my mother means to me. Losing her was the most difficult thing ever.ever.ever. Greg Laurie says, "[She's] not lost. I know exactly where [she] is." And that is so very true, but it doesn't make me miss her any less. It doesn't make me hate it any less that she will never know her grandchildren in this life or that they will never know how a hug from her could set the world right. But I take comfort in the fact that she is not lost, but found in Him...complete, whole and restored. For this and so much more, I am very thankful.

Wednesday Words of Wisdom

"You must practice growing old gracefully."
--Sarah Elizabeth Mae Glasscock Shields
(my precious grandmother)

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Thankfulness--Day 18

Today I am thankful for my fluffy, comfy, snuggly warm down comforter. And a Baked Apple Pie candle that smells good enough to eat. For this and so much more, I am very thankful.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Thankfulness--Day 17

Today I am thankful for Hallie. Oh, what can I say about Hallie? She suffers from what I call "Second Child Syndrome", meaning she's outgoing, scary smart and terribly precocious. Actually, I don't think she's suffering at all. I believe she enjoys every minute of it. Yesterday, I "blog-erized" HannahKate's myspace profile, so today I'll share a bit about Hallie in her own words from a questionnaire she did at the beginning of the school year.

My name is Hallie Elizabeth
I was born on January 27, 2000.
My favorite subject at school is math.
If I could go anyplace in the world, it would be Africa.
When I grow up I want to be a veterinarian.
My favorite animal is turtles.
A hobby I enjoy is singing.
My favorite meal is chicken spaghetti.
The best thing about me is my humorous personality. [Yes, those were her exact words.]
The next best thing about me is my voice.
I think I am really good at piano.
I think I need to improve at tennis.

When Joel first began traveling, the girls were missing him one night at bedtime. I told them that when I'm sad, I always pray about it and that helps me feel better. We made a little circle of three in the middle of my bed, held hands and began praying. I prayed for Joel's safety and that God would watch over us while he was away. HannahKate prayed for Joel, but also thanked Jesus for coming into her heart. She prayed that Hallie would soon know Jesus, too and that God would bring good Christian men into their lives and that their children would also know Jesus. [At this point, I was bawling. She was only 6 years old, but she was praying for my future grandchildren.] Then it was Hallie's turn. She prayed, "I wish, I wish with all my heart, to fly with dragons in a land apart!" (If you haven't watched children's programming recently, this is the chant that Max and Emmy say to transport themselves to a magical land in the show "Dragontales".) Needless to say, our time of intercession dissolved into a giggling frenzy (once I assured HannahKate that Hallie would not go to hell for invoking the dragons during prayer.)

About two or three years ago, the girls and I were in the car going somewhere and got into a discussion about what they wanted to be when they grew up. Hannah said, "I want to be a teacher, and live in a house just like ours, and marry a man just like Daddy, and have two kids just like us." I was very touched by this sentiment. Then Hallie piped in, "I wouldn't want kids like us. I want kids that behave and don't whine!"

As you can see, Hallie keeps us on our toes. The other night at dinner, Joel was home and we were all laughing and having a good time. The laughter died down for a minute and there was a lull in the conversation. Hallie sighed and said, "Oh, our family is better than cable!" Yes it is, Hallie. Yes, it is. For this and so much more, I am very thankful.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Thankfulness--Day 16

Today I am thankful for HannahKate. She's thirteen, but I think she's a remarkable young lady. Of course, I am her mother; but she's the kind of kid I'd like even if she wasn't mine. Here is what she has to say about herself. (This is probably as close to having a guest blogger as I'm going to get...and I stole it from her myspace profile)

Hey this is Hannah. Some people call me HannahKate. Some things you should know:
1st, and most important, I live for God. I strongly believe he is our savior. He died on the cross to save us from our sins and thought of you and me,actually pictured our faces while he hung in pain on the rugged cross. John 3:16 "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." I believe he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities, the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and BY HIS WOUNDS WE ARE HEALED. My parents don't MAKE me go to church, its my choice to go and I love it. I believe God put us on this earth to be examples of him. John 13:15 "I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you." I don't hold grudges. I follow the golden rule as closely as I can. Luke 6:31 "Do to others as you would have them do to you." I DO NOT, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, CUSS!!! Cussing is for messed up people who aren't creative enough to find some other way to express themselves.
2nd: I love my friends and family soooo much. I have lots of friends. [sara(sbf)] lol. I’m always texting them and love talking to them. I’m always up to making new friends so send me a message and i'll give you my number.
3rd: I am taken. ♥♥♥♥♥
4th: I absolutely L-O-V-E music. I don’t know what I would do with out it.
5th: Say whatever you want about me cuz i don't care. God is the only one who can judge me. Yeah, I don't wear lots of makeup, i don't like to fix my hair or wear dresses but who cares? Good for you if you do care. Matthew 7:1 "Do not judge, or you too will be judged." Luke 6:37 "Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven."
6th: I love sports. I played volley-ball, basket-ball, and was on the track team last year in 7th grade. (Hated track.) I love to be outside.
Well that’s me in a nutshell. Message me, IM me, text me, call me. I would love to talk to you!!!

See what I mean? She's a pretty neat kid. For this and so much more, I am very thankful.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Thankfulness--Day 15

Today I am thankful that HannahKate plays indoor sports, instead of outdoor sports. It is the most blustery, chilly day outside. Even though the sun is shining, the wind is so cold it will take your breath away. As I was dropping Hannah off at the school this morning to leave for her volleyball tournament, there were people bundled up in coats, hats, blankets, etc. making their way to the football stands for area play-off games. So while I'm not exactly thrilled at the prospect of driving an hour and a half to watch the volleyball tournament, I am very, very, oh-so-very grateful that it will be indoors.
For this and so much more, I am very thankful.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Thankfulness--Day 14

Today I am thankful for books. I love to read. It is my escape. There's really nothing I need to escape from, but I like to travel so maybe that's what I like about books. They take you somewhere else. I had a run of "bad books" earlier this year. Books that I read, but didn't love. I think I'm back on the right reading path now, though.
Here is what I'm currently reading:
because I loved:
This one, not so much, but still really good:

Two of my other favorites:

And two books that revolutionized my Christian walk (besides the Bible):

For this and so much more, I am very thankful.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Thankfulness--Day 13

Today I am thankful for Godly women who have mentored me. First, of course, is my mother. (She gets a post of her own later this month.)
Next, is my youth minister from high school, Becky. She came to our church when I was in about the eighth grade. Once I got over the initial disappointment that she was not a really good-looking young single guy or older, but with a good-looking single son about my age (ok, so my priorities at 14 were a little messed up) I quickly attached myself to her. Or she attached to me, I'm not sure which. But she began to disciple and mentor me in ways that have shaped the person I am today. I know I am not the only person to have benefited from her legacy, but I am certainly one of the most grateful.
When I went to college, Robbi was the associate BSM director. She was/is one of the most intelligent and strongest women I know. She has such a heart for missions and international students. She has devoted her life to not only showing God's love to people who are far away from home, but also equipping those who are far away with their own resources for sharing God's love. I am blessed that my path crossed hers.
And finally, Sharon, is a precious lady who was my Bible study leader for several years when Joel first changed ministries and we were able to go to "grown up" Sunday school. I don't believe I've ever met another person who has such a commanding hold on Scripture. By trade, she is a dyslexia teacher, so she is able to present Biblical concepts in a way that even those of us who are "spiritually learning disabled" can understand and apply. She has a heart for children. She is on the frontline by choosing to minister in the public school setting. She is artistic and creative and I want to be when I grow up.
Mrs. Jettie, Mrs. Cheryl, Karla, Mary G, Ms. Sybil, Patti H, Paula Shaw and my sweet cousin, Debbie also come to mind as ladies who have supported me, encouraged me, challenged me and enriched my life for having known them. For this and so much more, I am very thankful.

Compassion in the Dominican Republic

Last week, Compassion International took a group of bloggers to the Dominican Republic to get their thoughts and perspectives and to increase awareness among those in the blogging community. What an amazing experience they had! I highly recommend taking the time to read their stories.

One post that stood out to me personally was from Mary. The last time we were in Peru, I remember one evening, being overcome by the great need of the people. To most of us, the solution would have been something simple: $30 a month for eye drops so that a bivocational pastor can prevent his eyesight from deteriorating any further or maybe just a bit more to buy hearing aids so that a child could attend school and not be thought of as the "village idiot". Mary talks about that overwhelming sense that no matter what we are able to do, its never enough. Yet God calls us to accountability. (1 John 3:16-20) I cannot save the world, but I can share the love of the One who did. I cannot meet all their physical needs, but I can partner with Compassion to help one child at a time. And I can trust God to be sovereign through it all.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Thankfulness--Day 12

Give thanks to the Lord, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done.

1 Chronicles 16:8


Today I am thankful for the privilege of serving through missions. At the age of 12, I felt God speaking to me about mission work. I assumed that meant becoming a missionary and moving to Africa. As I grew and God placed Joel in my life, it was obvious that, while Joel loved the Lord and was called to ministry, he would not be moving to Africa anytime soon. I struggled with why God would direct me in these seemingly conflicting paths. Was He asking me to choose? During a period where Joel and I had decided to spend some time apart to seek God's Will, I took the opportunity to go to summer school in Mexico. I remember God working to reveal to me so clearly that we are all called to be missionaries...whether its on a foreign field, or here at home in our everyday lives. (And believe me, sometimes being a minister's wife is as much of a *foreign* mission field as the remote jungles of the Amazon.)

But God never removed that desire to go. And because of that I've had opportunities to participate in mission endeavors here in the States, as well as Mexico and Peru. And the thing I've learned is that no matter how much you give, you always receive more in return. And so I am grateful that God allows me the privilege of "making known among the nations what He has done". For this and so much more, I am very thankful.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Christmas Tag

Kimberly wanted to know if I have my Jingle on yet. Well, let me tell you.

Today I scheduled the people to put up our outdoor Christmas lights. (We pay someone to do this for us 1.) because Joel travels right up until December and by the time he's home its not worth the trouble; and 2.) because the first year we lived here he did it himself and I came home to find the truck backed up to the house with a ladder in the bed and Joel perched precariously on the roof of the second story. HannahKate was sitting in the driveway with the phone and said, "Daddy says if he falls, I'm supposed to get out of the way and then call 911".)

On the inside, we have 4 trees: a big family tree (7 ft.), a frilly froo-froo tree (6 ft.), HannahKate's tree (4 ft.) and Hallie's tree (3 ft.). We usually put these up the day after Thanksgiving. I used to say there were only two days out of the year when BigJoel and I "fight". One was the day we'd leave for youth camp (He was a student minister, so there were always a bajillion details to deal with) and the other was the day we put lights on our big Christmas tree. Well, he's no longer a youth minister and he bought me a pre-lit tree. Now life is golden...

And then there's the Nativity sets. I collect them. Some stay on display year-round, but at Christmas, I have around 50 that I pull out. Some are inexpensive, some are quite costly. Some are hand-crafted by talented artists, some are made on a production line China. I have them from all over the globe--places I've traveled and places I hope to visit. That is my favorite part of decorating.

I must admit that I'm more excited about getting ready for Christmas now than I was when I started writing this post a few moments ago. I guess that's probably the point. Now that my "jingle is jangling", I'm supposed to tag three more friends to tell about their plans for the holidays. So I'm throwing a big 'ol yellow snowball at:



Elizabeth and/or Ms. Cheryl

Thankfulness--Day 11

Today I am thankful for our Armed Forces. It is Veteran's Day. A day to remember those who have fought for our freedom and served our country. I am especially thankful for the men and women who are currently serving. They put Party ties and political rhetoric aside to place their lives on the line every day. Regardless of whether we support the war, we must support them while they are away as well as when they return. I honestly believe, no matter how unpopular it may be, that if they weren't "over there", they'd be "right here" fighting this battle on our soil. Mark, my friend Paige's husband, is serving his third tour in Iraq. He has a beautiful wife and two of the most adorable kids you've ever seen. As difficult as it is to be away from them, I hope he realizes that his family, and mine, sleeps safely tonight because of his sacrifice. For this and so much more, I am very thankful.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Weekly Pic--We're No. 2!

In honor of my Texas Tech Red Raiders being ranked No.2 in the nation, this is a picture of the girls and I in front of the university back in 2005.

Thankfulness--Day 10

Today I am thankful for my in-laws. I've mentioned before that not only do I pray for my girls' future spouses, but also their future in-laws. This is why. My husband's parents have been such a blessing to me, that I pray the same for my girls. Poppy is a man of integrity if ever there was one. He is tall in stature and in presence. One word from him and my girls go from little devils to perfect angels. He is faithful and devoted to his church and his God. A man of prayer as well as a man of action. My mother-in-law is a small woman with a gigantic heart. She is always making a pie for someone or tending her little aged adopted widow. She loves her family fiercely. She spoils my girls to no end and loves every minute of it. She spends quality time with them doing art projects, painting fingernails and even playing tennis. She is the most organized pack-rat you'll ever find. She has every award ribbon, school project, newspaper article and keepsake from her boys' childhood. Yet her house is always in order and she knows right where to find things. (I can't even keep up with the girls' homework assignments from yesterday, much less things from 35 years ago!) They have welcomed me into their family in such a way that I don't feel like an "in-law", I just feel like a "daughter." For this and so much more, I am very thankful.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Thankfulness--Day 9

Today I am thankful for my church. It is flawed, imperfect and full of sinners. I fit right in. For this and so much more, I am very thankful.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Thankfulness--Day 8

Today I'm thankful for lazy Saturdays in the fall. The weather is absolutely beautiful today. The leaves are changing. The sky is brillant blue. There is just a feeling of peaceful, well-being that I can't explain. For this and so much more, I am very thankful.

I also wanted to share how the girls are doing with their thirty days of thankfulness. Last Saturday, I called them to the living room and told them we were going to start a project. They both groaned and HannahKate said, "Are you gonna make us clean something?" (You can see I have my work cut out for me with these people.) *sigh* I explained that each day in November, we would write down something we're thankful for and hang it on a make-shift string across our fireplace mantle so that we will all be more mindful of our blessings.
(I have seen one website suggest you take a tree branch, put it in a decorative pot and write your thankful thoughts on cute-sy scrapbook paper leaves. I decided I had to choose between doing it "cute" or doing it "this year", so I opted for paper circles on yarn.)

Some of the things Hallie has been thankful for, besides Pepto Bismol, include "friends & spare time, supper, the world, and life". Some of the things HannahKate's been thankful for are "books, a comfy bed, hot showers and Chicken Express sweet tea." And so, I hope the girls are learning that each day has its share of blessings not to be taken for granted. Big ones, like life itself; and small ones, like sweet tea. Umhmmmm...we do have so much to be thankful for.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Thankfulness--Day 7

Today I'm thankful for laughter. Johanna and I went to the Big City to go shopping today. We were having such a good time a lady in one store said, "I'm going to have to get away from you two. I think ya'll are trouble!" Since when is laughing a crime?
Then tonight Elizabeth, Paige, HannahKate, Hallie and I went to eat at a local restaurant. We laughed and laughed. It felt good. I didn't think we were being too loud, but the people at the table next to us kept turning around looking at us. They were celebrating a birthday. But they were not laughing. We were not celebrating anything and we couldn't stop laughing. I think they were just jealous because they were not having as much fun as us...
For laughter and so much more, I am very thankful.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Well, Mercy Me!

This is really cool. Did you know that MercyMe is touring right now with Bebo Norman? And, did you know that they are running a live feed of each show on their blog? For free! Yes! Yes, they are! They will be in Amarillo on Friday, November 7. Then Lubbock on Saturday and Abilene on Sunday. But I will be watching them from Hometown, and so can you. And the best part is, I'll be wearing my traveling gnome pajamas! Its great! You should check it out. You'll be glad you did.

Thankfulness--Day 6

Today I am thankful for my dad. We've always had an interesting relationship. He is an only child who grew up to become an electrical engineer. If you know any only children or any electrical engineers then you are nodding your head and saying to yourself knowingly, "Aaahhhh...I see." I mean that in the most respectful way. I just think I probably was, and still am, a mystery to him. But he taught me so much through word and deed that make up who I am today.
He gave me a love for "oldie's" music, 50's and early 60's stuff. Of course he tried to explain to me that it hasn't always been called "oldie's music" because when he was a kid it was just "music". (I'm beginning to understand that more now when, say, Journey comes on the radio. HannahKate rolls her eyes and sighs, "How did you ever listen to that stuff?" which makes me realize that its been 20+ years since that song was released. But it my mind, it seems like just yesterday.)

He taught me that the only color for a Jeep is red. Anything else is sissy and a disgrace to the Jeep name. Actually, he taught me that most anything is better in, front doors, name it.

He gave me an appreciation for Piet Mondrian, Frank Lloyd Wright, stained glass, Charles Schultz's Peanuts and Saint Bernards.

My mother was an excellent cook, but she was a "southern cook" who made everything from scratch and didn't use recipes. The only things I can make from scratch is meatballs and tunafish gravy with waffles (I've mentioned this before, so there's no need to tell me how disgusting it sounds. Don't knock it 'till you try it.) My dad is the one who showed me how to do those.

When I was in second grade and we moved to Washington state for a temporary job assignment, he didn't want the company to be charged rent on furniture we didn't really need. So he used all of the moving boxes to create an L-shaped playhouse for me in our empty formal dining room. It even had a "room with a window" at one end that you could stand up in and play "FoxPhoto Drive-Thru". (I'm not sure why that fascinated me, but I'd never seen one in Texas so I thought they must be glamorous.)

When I went to school in Mexico for a summer, my dad wrote me a letter every single day. If you've ever been away from home, you know what a treasure it is to get mail...every day. They weren't long letters, just a paragraph or two, and each one contained a randomly generated phrase from a Spanish computer program, such as "Donde esta el bano?" or "Me gusta tomar la cerveza." Priceless.

I've never been Daddy's Little Princess (as a matter of fact, I told everyone in my kindergarten class I was Daddy's Little Dummy...what? I thought that was a good thing when I was 5), but I've always known my dad loved me and I've been blessed by the sacrifices he made to ensure that I had every opportunity to succeed. For this and so much more, I am very thankful.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Thankfulness--Day 5

I know its probably cheating a bit, but I've got too much going on here. So I'm combining my regular Wednesday Words of Wisdom feature with my Thirty Days of Thankfulness post.

I will praise God's name in song
and glorify Him with thanksgiving
Psalm 69:30

Today I am thankful for music. Christmas music, to be exact. And a cup of french vanilla coffee on a chilly, blustery day. For this and so much more, I am very thankful.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Cancel My Subscription

Here in Hometown, people sometimes "take out an ad" in the local newspaper to celebrate a birthday ("Oh my wordy, Look who's 30!" or "Lordy, Lordy! Bubba's 40!") or to announce a baby's arrival (who needs to send frilly-froo-froo cards on fancy paper when newsprint works just as well and you don't have to buy stamps). These usually appear on page 3 right next to the obituaries. In a town who's population is smaller than the enrollment of the university I attended, this is just one more way we make sure everyone knows everyone else's business. We're fun that way.
But the thing that I just do.not.understand is when people put an "ad" in the paper for a deceased loved one on their birthday or perhaps the anniversary of their passing. Sometimes its in the form of a letter: Dear Momma, We will never forget you. Love, Your Children. Sometimes its a poem about the day you became an angel or you may be gone, but your memory lives on. Now, please don't think I'm insensitive to the heartbreaking loss of a loved one. Its just that...honestly, do these people think "Momma" is actually reading the Hometown Herald? Do they believe that all our loved ones meet for coffee at the Dairy Queen in the Sky and say things like, "Did you see the lovely sentiment Pearl's family put in the paper?" or "My children wrote the sweetest poem about me spending Christmas with Jesus this year!"? I just don't believe that's the way Heaven works. Like my friend Bart says, "I'd like to think my [loved one] has more to do than sit around and peek through the clouds at me all worship the Living God." So here is my admonition to my family: Say what you want to say to me while I'm here on earth. And when I'm gone, you can cancel my subscription to the Hometown Herald. I won't be reading it anymore.

Thankfulness--Day 4

Today I am thankful for my country. I am soooo ready for this election to be over. I am also very aware that there are many, many things wrong with the U.S.; but at the end of the day, there are many, many things RIGHT about America as well. So no matter how sappy you think I am {*wink, nudge* you know who you are} I will always have a little tear when I hear The National Anthem, Proud to Be An American or There She Stands. I will continue to pray that our leaders will be motivated by doing the right thing, even when they make the wrong decision. And most of all, I will take comfort in the peace that my God is big enough to get His glory regardless of who inhabits the White House. For this and so much more, I am very thankful.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Thankfulness--Day 3

Today I am thankful for my home. I love my house. If I could change anything, it would only be to add a "crap room", er, I mean craft room for all my crap/crafts. And I would spring for the self-cleaning feature...what? That's not an upgrade option? Well, ok then. Seriously, when I quit working, I had grand plans for getting my house back in tip-top, clutter-free shape. (I know at this point, Big Joel is wondering when it was ever in tip-top, clutter-free shape. Remember Honey? Those first few weeks when we moved in 4 years ago?) The thing is, I have a difficult enough time picking up after myself. So I really hate it when I have to pick up after everyone else. Now I must say that BigJoel is every woman's dream when it comes to a man: he does not leave his clothes in the floor, he does not leave the toilet seat up, and for all intents and purposes, he's the neatest member of our family. Unfortunately, the other people who live here took after their mother. *ahem*
This post is supposed to be about thankfulness though. FlyLady has a wonderful take on housework. She calls it Weekly Home Blessing. I like that. Now it is no longer about chores, but about the outward manifestation of inward thankfulness. So I'm thankful for dirty dishes, because it means we had food to eat. I'm thankful for piles of laundry, because it means we have plenty of clothes. I'm thankful that I have to scrub the toilets, because it means we have indoor plumbing (ok, that's a stretch, but if you've ever been to Peru and experienced a "squatty potty" then you'll understand). I'm thankful for the girls' things that are left in my bedroom, because it means we have spent time together when they could have been holed up in their own rooms. So now, I must go and "bless my home" because there are a ton of opportunities for gratitude awaiting me. For this and so much more, I am very thankful.

As a little side note, last night Hallie (the inspiration for Thirty Days of Thankfulness) wasn't feeling well, so she went straight to bed before writing down what she was thankful for...I know, only 2 days in and we're already slacking. Anyway, this morning I found her in the living room hanging her blessing on the line (I'll post a pic later). I said, "Oh good I'm glad you're catching up from yesterday. What were you thankful for?" To which she replied, "Pepto Bismol!" Baby steps, my dear, baby steps.

Weeky Pic--Room With A View

I took this picture from the balcony of our condo on my most recent trip to New York. This street is on the NYC Marathon route.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Thankfulness--Day 2

Today, I am thankful for Texas Tech University. The #7 Red Raiders beat the #1 Longhorns last night to rise to the #2 position in the AP poll. It was the most amazing game ever! (Of course, I'm well-aware that this rank will most probably be short-lived. Red Raiders aren't necessarily known for their consistency.) Texas Tech is my alma mater. But what I'm most thankful for is the emphasis my parents placed on education. When I was growing up, it was understood that I would attend college. I was seven years old before I learned that it wasn't illegal to get married before you graduated. Seriously. My parents, and Joel's too, saved and sacrificed so that we could go to school without worrying about finances. Joel even went on to get a Master of Divinity from seminary. We were able to begin our married lives equipped with our college degrees and without the burden of student loans hanging over us. Our parents gave us a tremendous gift. For this and so much more, I am very thankful.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Thirty Days of Thankfulness

I've mentioned before that my youngest child is a whiner. I'm just about at the end of my rope with her. Yesterday, I was ready to make a noose and hang myself with said rope. Instead, I've decided to focus on the positive and try to help Hallie do the same. For the next thirty days, I am going to post at least one thing for which I'm thankful each day. The girls will also participate by writing down their daily blessing/s. Hopefully, this will help us all to be more aware of the things and people we so often take for granted.
To kick off my Thirty Days of Thankfulness campaign, I will begin with my friend Kristi, because today is her birthday. She has been my best friend since the seventh grade. This picture is from our college days...only a *few short* years ago. We've shared secrets, tears, laughs and even a couple of boyfriends and still managed to stay close. Our friendship has survived living across the country from each other as well as living in the same town. She laughs at my jokes and gives me encouragement when I need it most. She's been through hard times and happy times with me. We can go weeks or even months without talking to each other, yet pick up right where we left off the instant we're together. For this and so much more, I am very thankful.