Love Me Challenge #21

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I am so proud of my God!! He is something else! If you haven’t met Him, you should, because He will change your life!! ❤

and I’m so proud of my husband and our boys! They are so incredibly awesome, and I truly don’t deserve them; however, I am so thankful God brought them all into my life!! ❤

(this, of course, is a younger pic of them, but they are growing into such fine young men!)

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A Note of Thanks

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“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: 
If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls
and has no one to help them up…. Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”
Ecclesiastes 4:9-10, 12
Yesterday was our Staff Appreciation, and I, personally, just have to give a note of thanks. I think we have the best pastoral staff on the planet! Now, I know. You don’t work with them; so, some of you might like to argue that your personal team is better, or some could argue that they “can’t be the best, because no team can be a ‘dream team’,” and that’s ok; you are entitled to your own opinion. However, from where I stand, we couldn’t ask for better.
First and foremost, they love God with all their hearts. Each one of them, in their own way, portray their love for God in the way they speak, the way they teach or preach, in the way they carry themselves on and off “the stage,” and even in the way they treat each other. They are gracious, honorable, full of integrity, servant-minded, and deep of character. They are never competitive, slanderous or spiteful toward one another. They are always seeking to be better Christians, better husbands or wives and better influences to those around them.  I have worked alongside each of them for the last 3 1/2 years here, as well as, for some of them, much longer, and I am a witness to their depth of Christ-like characters and servant-minded lifestyles. They may not always be what everyone expects them to be, nor do they always react in the most “pristine, perfect, superhuman” fashion that some may believe they should, because they are, after all, still very human.  However, I will say that each of them is the most humble individual I have ever met, and they seek with all their hearts to be closer to God while they serve in the ministry to which He has called them.
There are so many qualities they possess, it would take me all day to list each of them, but I have to say, one of the most valuable characteristics they give to our team (aside from loving God, of course!) is they truly love my husband and our family. This is such an important asset to the unity of this team, and I, as a pastor’s wife, am so appreciative. Honestly, it brings tears to my eyes when I think about the graciousness with which they treat my husband, our boys and me. You just don’t find this with every staff dynamic, and we have not always found this to be 100% true everywhere we have been.
Let me share a little of what I mean…
Sometimes, I watch their eyes as my husband challenges them with a new idea, or maybe even a needed rebuke, during a staff meeting. I hear their words of comradery and encouragement to our oldest as he walks into one of their offices and their tone of warmth and acceptance to our youngest, even when they might have better things to be getting accomplished. I see when they go the extra mile to make an adjustment that their pastor has suggested, even when they might not yet completely understand or be incredibly enthused about.  I have even caught a glimpse of their sincerity when they have encountered someone with ill intentions toward me, my husband or our family, as they speak words of admonishment and confrontation to that individual.  These are just a few of the acts of kindness which each of them shows to my family day in and day out, and these are the things which make me love them like family.
Rest assured, these members of our pastoral staff whom we celebrated yesterday are not simply employees of our church nor are they just plain co-workers who ‘pitch in to get a job done.’  They are each a part of, what I choose to call, a great “dream team” helping my husband to be a better pastor, and our church to be a better Body of Christ for the betterment of God’s Kingdom. They and their spouses are a true blessing to us, and I am thankful to have them and to consider them friends, as well as, staff members. These words don’t seem quite adequate today, but I’d like to say, “THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart. I love you guys!” ❤
*Note: I do not own, nor do I possess, this picture. Found it simply through Google and sharefaith.com.*

Blessed Heart and Home

I read this article the other day, and it really hit home…

18 Things That Are Hard to Explain to Third World Country Friends

Please, know I’m not bragging at all, but I have to say, I consider myself an incredibly blessed person. God has blessed our family so much that, many times, I am simply overwhelmed to tears because of the favor and blessings we have. Please understand, I’m not going to be one of those “prosperity preachers” who claim you will always have favor, you will always be blessed if you just do (blank) and (blank). No, you don’t give to get.

That’s not how God works, but He does honor obedience. He does give wisdom, and when you walk in it, you find blessings. He does honor prayers when you diligently seek Him, and, sometimes, He simply blesses; so you can, in turn, bless another. I can’t tell you all the reasons our family is blessed; I’m sure I could write another post on that later, and I won’t tell you that I’ve never gone through sufferings and pain. That, too, can be saved for another post…and another, and another… but all I am saying is I count myself a very blessed woman.

With that being noted, I really try to keep a grateful heart at all times, and I guess I do pretty good most of the times, but there are moments in life when I forget to be thankful. I forget to remember there are greater struggles in this life than the ones I am facing. There are people in this world who do not know from where their next meal will come, or even, if it will come. There are those who don’t even have a roof over their head, much, much less, an abundance of stuff that they’re needing to throw out!

I read this article the other day, and what the author described reminded me, again, of how very blessed I am…

Each of our family members sleep in their own beds every night.

When I’m hungry, I simply walk over to our refrigerator and decide what I’d like to eat.

When I’m cold, I put on a jacket, cover up with a blanket, or turn the heat up.

When I’m hot, I pour a glass of ice water, go outside and feel the cool breeze, or in the summertime, go stick my feet in a creek or waterfall.

Both of our boys have all the clothes they need, food they can eat, and even too much of material things they want.

When I want to go to the store, I simply jump in my car and drive over to the nearest store.

If we want to travel, we drive the car, fly in a plane, rent a boat, or ride in a train.

I take all the pictures my heart desires on my little smartphone and download them onto a “cloud” program to be retrieved at a later time.

When I want to share with the world what’s going on in mine, I simply sit here at my desk and begin to type, clicking the little blue button when I am finished.

When compared to our daily lives in America, these things I’ve listed seem like little, meaningless things, things that we each take for granted. Yet when compared to the daily lives of those from a third world country who don’t even live at the level of poverty, these simple things seem monumental. We all have something for which to be grateful. We all have someone for whom we can be thankful.

Can we take a few moments today to remember what and who those might be?

Appreciate the things you have. They are just things, and we should never be obsessive nor materialistic; yet, we can acknowledge the ease those things bring to our lives. We can enjoy them and not take them for granted.

Cherish those whom you have in your life. You never know which moment may be the last. Never let the sun go down on your wrath, and never let a moment to be cherished be one forgotten. Live. Love. Laugh, and remember what and who is most important. ❤

Wednesday’s Ode #35

  I love fresh baked bread! I don’t want to be redundant, because I know I posted about my baking day on Monday; however, I just wanted to reiterate the fact that I love homemade, fresh baked bread!! My house smelled heavenly after that little baking session.

I tried my very first attempt at baking bread this past Monday, and I think I’m hooked! It is so yummy, and the kind I made is so very good for me that I don’t feel guilty pigging out a little. I had to hold myself back, ‘cuz I didn’t need to eat the whole loaf in one setting! Haha! Of course, the kind I made wouldn’t actually allow for that, because it is so filling. I made it with almost all organic ingredients, including freshly ground, authentically organic whole wheat flour and organic all-purpose flour.

Now, I have to make a note for you here: not all flour you buy in the store is good for you. Actually, unless it is organic, you can be certain it’s NOT good for you! There’s a whole lot I can share on this subject; however, I will simply give you a link to the person and company who can give all of the info so much better than I, because I learned the little I know from her, Sue Becker, at Bread Beckers.

  I cannot wait to make some more bread, and, one day soon, when I can afford to buy the materials I need (and make it one of my top priorities to do), I look forward to grinding my own wheat and attempting even more baking of breads, rolls, and maybe even pastas, among other things! 🙂

  

Thank You for Your Time

Today is Labor Day, and I just want to say, “THANK YOU!” 

Thank you for your time. Thank you for your service. Thank you for all you do to make this country, and the world in which we live, a better place. 

You are the truck drivers who carry my food across country for the groceries. You are the warehouse workers who stack and box the clothes for the retailers. 

You are the teachers in our schools who give so much, and often, receive little in return. You are the cashiers who run up my items at Walmart, Target, Kroger and Sam’s. 

You are the CEO’s, the lawyers, the bankers and the accountants who work with the big numbers and the long hours to supply the goods, protect the laws and assign the funds. 

You are the policemen on patrol who help to protect my babies as I drive on the road. You are the firemen who are on call to put out a fire or pull a cat from a tree. You are the ambulance and EMTs who come at a moment’s notice. 

You are the dentist who cleans my teeth and the doctor who checks my sons’ ears. You are the quick care nurse who receives my name and checks for insurance. 

You are the SAHM mom who saves on your daycare bill and decides to skip on the coffee trips; so, dad doesn’t have to work those extra hours this week.  

You are the state park worker who works at the visitor center; so, I can get more information and find my way to that beautiful waterfall. 

You are the amusement park worker who makes sure my son is buckled in tight for his thrill ride. You are the bowling alley waitress who brings me a coke and helps to make the party a success. 

You are the restaurant hostess who finds my husband and I a quiet booth, and you are the parking lot security who makes sure my car is safe. 

You are the pastor who prays for me and the youth pastor who teaches my son to pray. You are the maintenance man who cleans the toilets and mows the lawn to make our church look better.

There are so many who make this world go round and who work hard to make everyday a little better for the rest of us, and I just want to take time today to tell you…

WE APPRECIATE YOU!!

Happy Labor Day!

Wednesday’s Ode #11

Today, I’d like to be headed toward what I am going to give tribute: the mountains! Oh, how I love the mountains! We live near the North Georgia Mountains, and every time I get near, every time I get even a glimpse of them, I have to take a couple of really deep breaths and just close my eyes and let everything else simply slip away. 

    I am, specifically, in love with the N.GA mountains and the Smoky Mountain National Park; however, I have been to the Rockies, as well as, several other parks and mountain ranges along the East coast, and I love them all!! 
  There is just something about standing at the base of an ancient hill that has withstood the test of time. Those ranges have stood strong amidst rain, blistering heat, earthquakes, snow and mankind. Their strength precedes them. Their peace hovers around them, and it can be felt with more intensity the closer you get. 

Some fear the mountains, because they are unpredictable and unwavering in the raw elements; however, I have found my time spent hiking, walking, or simply gazing up at the trees, is always refreshing, revitalizing, and it reequips me for the days I have ahead. Some grow frustrated and restless as they draw near to the sheer size of the mound; yet, I find myself longing for moments of solitude in their midst. They are a fortress, a refuge, a high tower upon which I will lean and find rest. They bring me peace, strength, and even, wisdom, as I gaze at their majesty. They are a constant reminder to me of their Creator and mine. 

I just love, love, love the mountains!! My heart is longing to escape to that fortress even now. …Hmmm, I wonder if I could possibly squeeze in a trip to them today…or at least, over this coming weekend! 🙂