2012 in Review

Well, a new year will start tomorrow…..  🙂

2013

Who woulda thought? 2013!! Feels weird to say, for some reason…..

Anyway, I thought I would do a Top Twelve of 2012:

1.) January-

We found out we were moving to Texas

DSCF2029

You can read about it here.

2.) February-

We moved!

DSCF2091There are way too many posts to link back to…..but if you just “click” on February 2012 on the sidebar, you can read all about our move

3.) March-

A hard month of learning to adjust to our new town (at least for me)

You can read about it here

4.) April-

Really started to get involved by going to track meets and S.S. parties

dscf2442dscf2500You can read about it here and here

5.) May-

I went to Hawaii

Aloha sign at AirportYou can read about it here and here and here

6.) June-

We learn more and more everyday about ministering in a “secular culture” (it’s a lot harder than it was when we were in Robert Lee in 2006-2007)

You can read about it here (along with a ton of other posts throughout the year)

7.) July-

We went to Youth Camp and Pre-Teen Camp

DSC04900DSCF3193There are 3 posts about Youth Camp in the July sidebar and there are 3 posts about Pre-Teen camp in the August sidebar. You can just “click” on the month and read about them…..

8.) August-

Struggling again to minister to the youth of this culture

You can read about it here and here

9.) September-

Football overtook our lives for roughly 2 1/2 months!

539459_439676552737730_392092210_nYou can read about it here and here and here

10.) October-

Uuuummmm…..our car caught fire and blew up!

DSCF3854You can read about it here!

11.) November-

We went on vacation to Illinois!

IMG_6454We can read about where my heart is here

12.) December-

PicMonkey CollageSpent Christmas in Texas for the 1st time since 2008….

You can read about it here

Of course this is in NO WAY all that has happened or all that I’ve blogged about this year, but it gives you an overview of the “semi-big” stuff throughout 2012….

I posted 128 times this year, so if you’d like to read about it all…in full, HAVE FUN!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Life Happens

(Friday’s post was not my own—this one IS)….

It’s December 30th….the time of year where Christmas decorations are put away, new toys are already a thing of the past, and the New Year is on our minds….in 2 days, it will be 2013! Tomorrow night the world will make New Year’s Resolutions, soon to be forgotten as… life happens.

  • Life happens and the weight gets put back on.
  • Life happens and the idea of spending less is put aside as the credit card bill comes once again.
  • Life happens and the organizational tips and ideas found on Pinterest are “pinned” but will never actually be used
  • Life happens and the idea of a better marriage is kept behind closed doors, as those doors are slammed in anger and frustration….again

At the beginning of December, the University of Scranton did a study and posted it in their Journal of Clinical Psychology…..here are the top 10 resolutions that will be made in 2013:

  1. Lose Weight
  2. Get Organized
  3. Spend less, Save more
  4. Enjoy life to the fullest
  5. Stay fit and healthy
  6. Learn something exciting
  7. Quit smoking
  8. Help others
  9. Fall in love
  10. Spend more time with family

Every New Year’s Eve millions of Americans make New Year’s resolutions. Whether the resolution is to get out of debt, to spend more time with loved ones, or to quit smoking, these resolutions have one thing in common: they are goals to make our lives better.

Unfortunately, to many the idea of making a resolution is accompanied by “rolling eyes” or a “cynical chuckle” as, notoriously, these goals are never met because, well, as I said, life happens.

Consider what we do when we make a New Year’s resolution: we look at where we are in some area of life, think about where we want to be, and then set ourselves a goal to get there.

So, on paper, it seems so easy….set a goal and achieve it! But, I’m afraid we’re missing something in the middle. Like, how to achieve the goal we have set.

We have set a goal, but we have no idea the steps to take to get there…..

Well, let me give you an idea or “steps” on how to achieve at least ONE New Year’s resolution that I think at least a few people will probably have…..

To Attend Church More in 2013

The #1.) thing you have to do to achieve this goal is……GO!!

Go to church. You’ll never achieve your goal of getting more involved in church, if you don’t GO!!

#2.) Realize that it’s not all about you…..

  • Someone makes you upset, talk to them about it!
  • Someone says something and you take it out of context, find the original source and get to the bottom of the story!
  • Someone doesn’t say “hi” to you in the hall…..get over it!
  • Someone doesn’t call you when you miss a Sunday, let them know you’re going to be gone!! They don’t know anything is wrong, unless you tell them!
  • If you want to “feel included,” get yourself involved!

#3.) Communicate!

  • If you don’t like something, TALK to someone about it.
  • If you don’t think something was biblically-based in the sermon, TALK to the preacher about it (don’t belittle him–just ask to talk about it; I’m sure he’d be fine with that)!
  • If a leader in your church hurts your feelings or makes you upset about something, TALK to them about it!

(Are you sensing a theme here)!?

#4.) Be excited about going….

Get your kids excited about wanting to GO TO church! If you are not committed to church, your kids will not be either!

#5.) Live with God’s people…..get involved in one another’s lives.

  • Go out to eat with people out of church
  • Take a meal to someone who works full-time
  • Write someone a note (you know, snail mail)!!!
  • Notice when people aren’t at church, and then…..let them know you missed them
  • Offer to run an errand for the elderly or babysit for a single mom

(Again, it’s not ALL ABOUT YOU)!! It’s about God’s people and living your life to serve others.

#6.) Pray for those who are a part of your church.

(AND DO IT)!!! Don’t just SAY you’re going to pray….actually pray!!

#7.) Besides #1, #7 is just as important. Forgive others.

Remember Christians are not perfect. We are all sinners and we live in a fallen world. Please extend a little grace and a little mercy to those who are serving in the church. The church leaders are not perfect. They fall. They make mistakes. Love them anyway.

So, I understand:  Life happens.

But, because life happens…..church should be a place for freedom, reconciliation, peace, love, forgiveness, and grace.

Make it a priority in 2013—to come to the place where life happens and hopefully love abounds.

Resolutions for Church Leaders

As I was thinking about the New Year coming upon us, I began to think about church….and life.

I understand that life happens. However you want to define life is up to you, but I do understand: kids get sick, cars break down, jobs call for an extra shift….I get it.

But, what I don’t get it is….why do people not want to come to church? (Specifically speaking about believers)…..

If you are a believer, why do you feel compelled to skip church…..for no reason. And, if you do have a reason, what is it? Do you have a problem with the church (building), do you have a problem with the church (people), do you have a problem with the worship (music), do you have a problem with the leadership (pastor)?

What is it? Because believe me, as a minister’s wife, I notice. And sometimes, it makes me mad.

So…..to calm my spirit, I found this….it is list of 10 things that Worship Leaders/Pastors can do to get people EXCITED about church!!

Not that it’s the fault of the worship leaders/ministers, but……like the movie says, “If you build it, they will come!” Maybe it should say: “If you are excited, they will be excited!”

(This list is not my own–and I realize it’s LONG, but…..so to help, I “bolded” the important stuff and added my own thoughts in parentheses and underlined them)…..

1.) Get the people involved! (And I would also say church members can get themselves involved!! Don’t just wait to be asked–ask if you can help somewhere–don’t sit back, get involved)!

Not just as readers or liturgists but really involved in the planning and in the preparation. No matter what size church you have, the people need to have input into what happens on Sunday. This can be in the form of worship committee or just in conversations as people go out the door or in the weekly visitation. Most importantly the voice of the Holy Spirit within the laity should be added to the voice of the Holy Spirit that the pastor is hearing.

2.) Have a good time! If you are not enjoying worship as you lead it, do you think other people are going to get excited? (SMILE and interact)!!

This doesn’t mean turn the sermon into comedy hour, but it does mean intentionally being outgoing to the people, excited about worship, and passionate about relating to God each and every moment of each and every Sunday. Can you watch a video of your service and not cringe?

3.) Realize that it’s not about you, it’s about God… and God is all about God’s people! All passionate worship begins in God’s heart reaching out to the hearts of God’s people. Choose or write liturgy that evokes change and challenges and emotes in your heart. Tell stories and illustrations that not only flesh out the points but also incarnate God into human tears, laughter, anger, and smiles. (Personally, I love a joke or two, a personal story…..something to “reel” people in)…..

It doesn’t hurt to remember that the pastor doesn’t have to lead the entire service either. The pastor may speak to Word of God, but all human voice is made in God’s image.

4.) Listen to God’s people. (Take people’s advice and criticism…..even if you think it has no merit, think about it. It might be better their way in the long run)!

If folks think your sermon is a shade too long, it may very well be! If people are not singing that hymn you love for the third Sunday in a row, it might not be a good pick for next Sunday. We don’t worship the people (their ways, culture, customs, etc.), but the people are the ones worshiping. Listen to the sheep to keep people in church; listen to the goats to bring in the not yet convinced.

5.) Worship has always been and should always be interactive. Hear a baby cry, say “I’m heartbroken over that too child.” Hear someone’s forgotten cell phone go off, say “Jesus is calling you!” Don’t force “Amen’s” but do encourage people to interact. Allow the environment to aid the delivery of the sermon. Do not be a control freak about every little detail of worship. God is in the mix, and according to Genesis, God created a lot out of chaos. Let the congregation chose hymns some of the time. (Take an “informal survey” of your church people–both young and old–and see what they want to hear during the “worship time” of your service)….

Train and encourage other people’s voices to pray, read, and be the voice of God in worship.

6.) Worship has always been and should always be multimedia. Sight, Sound, Taste, Touch, Smell… these are the ways we learn and relate. These are the ways we worship. We’ve always had these in the forms of stained glass, music, Communion, Baptism, incense – worship has always strived to captivate our senses (Does yours)?

Why should today be any different with “all things new?” Have paintings, pictures, and images during the sermon, all sermons can have object lessons (not just children’s), videos, and music, music, music! Some churches are even encouraging people to text prayers to others from their cell phones during prayer time. Some are asking people to email questions about the sermon to the pastor during the sermon. It’s a brave new worship service out there just waiting to “reach out and touch” God.

7.) Worship is as much about preparation as inspiration. (Your congregation can totally tell when you “rushed” to prepare a sermon).

Has the sound system been checked so that there are no uncomfortable feedback moments? Has the projector and power point been run through to see if there are any unnecessary gaps? A good worship service takes months of preparation, just like a good sermon.

8.) Live with God’s People. (I might add: Live in God’s People’s Community)!!! Are the ‘prayers of the people’ relating to the people’s prayers from the pew? Did the pastor ever get surprised to find out that Sister Betty or Brother Joe has been in the hospital for three weeks during the sharing of concerns and joys? Worship begins in God’s heart and reaches out to the mourning and celebrations that happen in the hearts of God’s people. Sunday afternoon through Saturday night have everything to do with what happens on next Sunday morning.

9.) Pray for God’s people. (Don’t just let your congregation members be another number on a prayer list).

Worship planning should always begin with a conversation with the one we are worshiping! Not to mention that sincerely praying for congregants during worship planning is a good way to keep worship in the local language as well as to avoid preaching to them instead of with them.

10.) Love God’s people. (Be involved in their lives, not just a “hello” as you pass in the hall or a “phone call” on a Wednesday afternoon, so you can report on them on Wednesday night).

Even if folks are giving you “the look,” love God’s people. You were called to love, not to be loved. Worship is the one time you are with more of the people you are appointed to than any other time during the week. What an amazing opportunity to love them all at once!

So, that’s the list….it comes from a pastor in California~

It’s not all inclusive, but as church leaders it certainly gives you something to think about, huh?

Christmas 2012

This is our first Christmas to be back in Texas since 2008. We moved to Illinois in February 2009, so we were there (in Illinois) for the last 3 years…..it was nice to be back close to family….

On Sunday we went to Waco to see my parents….

We saw “The Grinch” while were there!!!

Meet "The Grinch" himself

Meet “The Grinch” himself

Mom's tree

Mom’s tree

“Santa” still comes to my mom’s house to visit. But, since we were going to be there a day early, “Santa” had to come to her house on Christmas EVE morning, not Christmas Day. We even heard his sleigh bells “ringing” down the hall on Christmas Eve morning…..(my mom was ringing them to get us up)!!

Paul opening up "Santa" gifts on Christmas Eve morning

Paul opening up “Santa” gifts on Christmas Eve morning

We got a luggage set from "Santa"

We got a luggage set from “Santa”

We got stocking stuffers, as well.

We got stocking stuffers, as well.

me and my "loot"

me and my “loot”

My dad does the crossword puzzle everyday, and Christmas Eve was no different!

Dad working the crossword puzzle on Christmas Eve morning

Dad working the crossword puzzle on Christmas Eve morning

I asked my mom to take our picture. She said, “That’s fine, but do a different pose. You are always standing right beside him. Do something different this time.”

So we did.

 

a "different" pose

a “different” pose

Attempt #2

Paul and me

Paul and me

Attempt #3:

another pose

another pose

And now, my parents.

Mom and me

Mom and me

Mom and Dad

Mom and Dad

We ate a semi-late breakfast (around 9:00) so we all got cleaned up and then opened presents before lunch.

me and a couple of my presents

me and a couple of my presents

On Christmas Eve EVE my dad, Paul, and I all went to the mall to go shopping. Dad wanted to buy my mom a new pajama set. He bought some at JCP’s. As we were leaving he said, “Oh shoot, I should’ve gotten a box; we don’t have any.”

So, when we got home, Dad took the cereal out of the box and used the box as a wrapping box. When mom was finished opening her present, dad took it back and put it back in the pantry with the cereal inside!!

the "box"

the “box”

After having lunch with my parents and hanging out for awhile, we drove over to Hamilton to see Paul’s parents and Susan.

Paul and his "grinch face" lovin' on a "singing Santa"

Paul and his “grinch face” lovin’ on a “singing Santa”

We drove over to “Uncle” Jake and “Aunt” Dorothy’s for Christmas Eve dinner. (Actually Jake and Dorothy’s is a cafe in Stephenville that we try to go to everytime we are in Hamilton). It’s a family favorite!

Susan, Paul, and me

Susan, Paul, and me

Paul "modeling" Susan's hat

Paul “modeling” Susan’s hat

When we got home, Mike gave us our Christmas present. It is a “new to us” Keurig machine!! It was a Goodwill find for Mike. He tested it out all week, and it works great! So, we now have a Keurig!!

our "new to us" Keurig

our “new to us” Keurig

Christmas morning we were supposed to drive over to Graham, northwest of Ft. Worth. Well, the weather was calling for sleet, ice, and rain with temperatures dropping in the 20’s all day long. So, we decided not to go….we just spent the day in Hamilton. It was nice; I enjoyed it!!

on Christmas morning

on Christmas morning

We got a new game from my parents called The Logos Game. It’s a really fun game; we played it twice while we were in Hamilton!

our new game

our new game

playing Logos

playing Logos

David, Paul’s brother, brought “a friend” with him to Christmas this year. Her name is Chris. It was the first time anybody had ever heard anything about her or had ever met her…..she was nice. I think she fit in pretty well with Paul’s family.

Chris and David

Chris and David

Susan

Susan

playing Logos

playing Logos

And, here’s David’s attempt at a smile!

Chris and David

Chris and David

We left Hamilton about 4:00 and stopped in Temple on the way home for dinner. We ate at Applebee’s. It was crazy, crowded!!! Good, but crowded!!

We got home (back to Giddings) about 8:00….

We had a very Merry Christmas!!

Lane of Lights in Ledbetter

On Friday Paul and I kept Henlee all day, from about 8AM-5PM….it was a long day, but we had a lot of fun! 🙂

We went to Whataburger for breakfast

602721_620760694957_1066694046_nWe went to the library

428845_620757596167_376715725_n(She had to be listed as my daughter, in order to check out books for her, so we now have a “daughter”)

I also made her work for her keep around our house–she helped with laundry!

68627_620767206907_2109821777_n

Well, after having Henlee all day (and Hanna for 1PM-5PM) we went out to eat with the Hanson’s and then went to Lane of Lights in Ledbetter….I enjoyed it! (In my opinion, it’s a lot better than Lights of Tejas)!!!

Hanna and me on the hayride

Hanna and me on the hayride

Henlee

Henlee

Matt and Toni

Matt and Toni

Once you go through the Lane of Lights (all these different “scenes” in lights–characters and displays lit up), they have hot chocolate, a walking trail, Santa, and a big fire pit all set up….you can stay as long as you want there…..

Hadley, Henlee, Hanna, and Zoe

Hadley, Henlee, Hanna, and Zoe

Zoe and Hadley

Zoe and Hadley

Hadley

Hadley

Hanna and Henlee

Hanna and Henlee

Hanna

Hanna

Hanna and Santa

Hanna and Santa

Henlee talking to Santa

Henlee talking to Santa

Hadley and Henlee

Hadley and Henlee

Zoe and Henlee loved the lady singing and playing the guitar

Zoe and Henlee loved the lady singing and playing the guitar

And then you take the hayride back to your car!

Zoe

Zoe

Toni and Hanna

Toni and Hanna

Paul and me

Paul and me

Toni and Hadley

Toni and Hadley

The Hanson crew

The Hanson crew

Thanks, Hanson’s, for a fun night! We always love hanging out with you!

Children’s Christmas Celebration

Tonight we had our last Wednesday night activity (until NEXT YEAR)! 🙂

We had pizza at the church and then went on a hayride (and “caroled” at people’s houses that were members of our church)!

A huge thank you to Toni, Matt and Marty for helping with the hayride, along with Leslie for leading the singing…..Also, thanks to Amy J, Bobbie, and Ms. Beth for going along on the hayride–we ended up having 34 kids!! 🙂 It was wild and crazy…..but we didn’t lose anybody, so I count that as success!!

"big kids" in the back of the truck

“big kids” in the back of the truck

getting everyone settled (and making sure no one falls off)

getting everyone settled (and making sure no one falls off)

Abraham

Abraham

Brooklyn

Brooklyn

Will and his little brother

Will and his little brother

caroling

caroling

Q

Q

Henlee

Henlee

Heath

Heath

at the Placke's house having cookies!

at the Placke’s house having cookies!

eating our snacks at the Placke's

eating our snacks at the Placke’s

Shyann

Shyann

Henlee

Henlee

Hadley

Hadley

Abraham

Abraham

Brooklyn and Damien just chattin' away

Brooklyn and Damien just chattin’ away

eating their snacks

eating their snacks

Sierra

Sierra

Rylee

Rylee

Catherine and Sierra

Catherine and Sierra

Jesus, Come Quickly

In the wake of the tragedy of today (the shooting at the Connecticut school that killed 20 children and 6 adults) I decided to write. I’m not sure where exactly my thoughts will go or if my words will flow, but nonetheless, I write.

Now, of course, I have to ask myself….why did I not “write” about the other shootings in and around our states over the past year? (The list is extensive and found here)….it doesn’t even include the shooting in Oregon three days ago! Apparently if you only kill 3 people, it’s not major)…..

Anyway, why this one? Why this shooting? I don’t really know the answer, other than to say, it’s been on my mind today….so I shall write.

Of course the shooting happened this morning, so immediately it started showing up on FB. (Surprisingly, though, I read the Yahoo article before I looked at FB–I know, I’m surprised myself. Most of my news I get from FB)….

Two things jumped out at me….

Jesus, Come Quickly and Teachers Armed (And Dangerous)!

1.) Jesus, Come Quickly

Over the course of the day, after having FB “open” for most of the afternoon, several of the people I know have updated their status to say, “Jesus, Come Quickly” (or something to the likes of that)…..

In other words, it’s a plea.

A cry for help.

We don’t know what else to do, so Jesus come.

We’ve given up hope in humanity, so come.

A cry of desperation.

A cry of sorrow and shame.

Come, Lord Jesus, Come.

But, is it a cry for Jesus to come literally, as if we want this life of ours to be over?….(that we’re ready to be in Glory with our Maker).

Or is it a cry for Jesus to come and meet us where we are….in desperation….in pain….in sorrow….pleading for all that we know? We know Jesus, so please come.

It could be both. Literally and figuratively.

If it’s literally, I don’t agree. I don’t want to Jesus come back….yet.

My work on Earth is not done.

Despite the tragedies of today, God’s work is not complete. We are to be God’s hands and feet here on Earth. And, we can’t do that if….Jesus Comes.

If it’s figuratively, then yes, Jesus Come.

Come, give comfort to those who are hurting.

Come, give healing to those who are suffering.

Come, give strength to the broken.

Come, give peace to those who are faced with the “why.”

Yes, Jesus Come.

But, why are people so enraged and heartbroken over this tragedy? Children are dying everyday, all over the world, numbering over 19,000, but why do we not cry over those? Why do we not want to have prayer vigils at church for those children? Why are we so affected by those that are close to home?

Is it because it’s just that….close to home. Is it because it happened in a town like ours? Is it because the families that were affected are like ours? Do we relate better to them because it could happen to us?

Maybe I’m cynical or jaded, but if we pray Jesus, Come Quickly for today, why wouldn’t we pray Jesus, Come Quickly everyday….for children are dying, all over the world….not just today.

2.) Teachers being Armed (and Dangerous)

Another status update that has been on FB today is “Teachers should have guns to protect our babies.”

When I first saw this (on a “wall” of a “friend” of mine) I immediately said to myself (and out loud, probably), “No way! I have to disagree.”I typed it out even, as a response, but I deleted it.

I deleted it because a.) I have to be careful what I type on FB as a pastor’s wife and b.) I’m not even sure what I think about that….

I’m not a proponent for guns in general. I’ve never been around them enough to be “for” or “against” them, but I don’t really back the theory that guns are the right way to go….All I see of guns is the negative. The shootings in malls, schools, movies, etc. (I don’t even see the positives….not too many news stories run stories on guns being used in a positive way)….

But the idea of arming teachers is just wrong.

(Close your eyes and imagine)

Little hands reaching into a teacher’s desk, looking for a pencil and pulling a trigger.
Little hands grabbing for a stapler, instead feeling the butt of a gun.
Little hands wanting crayons out of a box, instead switching the safety off on a (loaded) gun.

And, most of all, teachers would never have (enough) proper training in the mechanics and handling of a gun. Having a gun in your possession is a full-time job. You cannot guess; you cannot forget. There is no such thing as a foolproof gun.

I just think it would lead to way too many accidents in the classroom….
My babies’ lives are more important than a loaded gun in a desk that is needed just in case.

So, maybe the answer is tighter security….armed guards at each school….
Do I really want my babies to be escorted by a police man with a badge and a gun going to recess? No.
But, is it necessary? Maybe.

I don’t know…..I don’t know what to think.

But I am grateful. Grateful that Jesus has not come….yet.

CNN.com* had an article about the shooting on their website….it was titled, “Evil visited this community….”

It’s a beautiful headline, in my opinion, because it states that evil VISITED…..it was not welcome, so it did not stay…..it only visited….and there will peace again.

The world seems a little darker tonight. That I can see. But, there is hope. You were born into darkness. And yet, You are Light.

John 1:5-“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”

Thank you, Jesus, for being Light in our dark world…..