December 2, 2017

We Survived the Toaster

This morning, as usual, I made my breakfast.  The same breakfast I've eaten for YEARS.  And, if you know me well enough, you already know what I eat for breakfast.  

Toast with whipped cream cheese, egg and coffee with fat free half and half.  

Most every day of my life starts with this same breakfast.  It's got protein, carbs and COFFEE!  The necessities of life.

However, this morning, when I put my toast in the toaster and "flushed" it...I noticed this strange burning smell.  I figured Everlee had crammed something plastic in there. I keep our toaster stored in a low cabinet, when not in use, and unfortunately, Everlee can reach it very easily.

I quickly hit "cancel" and peeked in there.  Nope.  Just my toast.  But, the coils didn't seem to be glowing red when I started it again.  Hmm.  Could it be?  My toaster is dying?  Say it ain't so!

We received that toaster as a wedding gift nearly 19 years ago.  It's a Sunbeam toaster, not fancy, but it gets the job done...and has been doing really well, up until today.  It managed to finish my toast with a nice golden brown hue, but it worried me.  Would I be replacing this very STAPLE part of my routine soon?

And that got me to thinking about when I received the toaster...which reminded me how close we are to our 19th wedding anniversary.  Like 17 days away.  19.  Years.  YEARS.  

I am not sure how 19 years passed so quickly, how I ended up with 3 kids, how I've lived overseas, how I've traveled across country, how I've lived in California--thousands of miles from my family, and all of this shared with the same man.  

In my wildest dreams, I never thought my life would be where it is today.  I mean, I knew marrying an evangelist would have SOME adventure attached to it.  I just didn't realize how amazing and rewarding that would be.  I knew there would be some hard times, some good times, some sad times and some happy times--but never imagined the things we have achieved and the things we have endured.  And yet, know that I am blessed beyond my own merit.

And while 19 years isn't quite a lifetime, it is longer than the life of a toaster...which is something I am quite proud of.  

Happy Anniversary (to be) to my one and onliest Pookie.  Here's to another 19 and then some...  

April 4, 2017

We Belong Together

As some of you may know, I am a Sectional Director,in the Western District, for our Ladies Ministries.

Last Friday, our section met for our yearly meeting and I took the group of ladies that were there into a side room and we had a little time of fellowship and fun.

Part of my activities included an object lesson.  I got several single stem flowers and arranged them in a vase and brought them to the meeting.  Well, I did not have "filler" or greenery and quite frankly, my "bouquet" was a bit rough around the edges but I was ok with that, because I knew what we would be doing with it.

Lo and behold, my luck was shining that day because a florist, that attends the church, was there helping to set up.  I immediately asked for her help.  And she arranged this GORGEOUS creation that I was thrilled with.

Once I had all the ladies gathered, I asked them all to take our their cell phones and snap a pic of the arrangement.  We all admired it and talked about how beautiful it was and I share with them about having a little help making it look even more fabulous.

After a couple games, I decided it was time to share my object lesson with them.  So, I asked each lady to come and choose her favorite stems and take them from the bouquet.  One by one, they begin to pick apart the bouquet until about half the arrangement was left.

I then had them take a pic of the aftermath.  I have an app on my phone that lets me put pics side by side and I did a comparison photo.  Together, the bouquet was gorgeous, full and colorful.  Once it had been separated, it was puny and rather pathetic.

When we stand together, we can accomplish beautiful things.  We have a sense of community and belonging.  Sure, individually, we have value and can be "beautiful", but together we have an opportunity to be a part of something bigger than us.  Something that can be admired, not only for it's individual beauty, but the beauty that comes when we are all together.  It was a cool visual and I hope something the ladies could take home and remember.

I left the remaining flowers/bouquet with the host pastor's wife and on Sunday, the florist had messaged me a pic of her having put it "back together again."  I was impressed!  Even with fewer flowers, it was still a beautiful arrangement.  Which struck me with this thought, we don't have to have MORE or ALL of something to be beautiful.  We can still hold value and purpose, even in the few remaining flowers.  We just need a master to come and arrange us to fit in our vase.

I am thankful to serve a God that can take my abundance and my lack and combine it with others to make something beautiful.  I am happy to be a part of the family of God.  To have community is His Kingdom.
Together vs. Separated 

Brought Together Again


February 14, 2016

It's Dark in Here

This post is dedicated to my daddy...

Dear Mom,

You won't believe what I've been through.  It's crazy in here.  Lots of noises and sloshing.  Sometimes it's really dark and other times there is this bright light that makes me squeeze my eyes shut.

I hear you talking and singing and I realize you have the most lovely voice.  I can't wait to see your face and look into your eyes as you sing to me.

I hear other voices too.  One is really rumbly sounding.  And at times, it gets very loud, like shouting.  It's my daddy's voice.  He sounds like someone I can trust, but also someone who loves adventure.

There are other voices.  One is very quiet and soft, almost like whispering.  Sometimes I hear him making another loud racket.  I'm not sure what he's doing, but it sounds like he's having a good time and seems to really enjoy whatever he's doing.

There is another voice that seems to sing all day long.  She's very loud and chatty.   She seems happy and is always having fun.

Even though I haven't met these voices, I love them.  I listen for them and smile or sigh contentedly when I hear them.

At times, these voices talk to ME.  I can tell because they call my name, and I feel very loved and secure hearing that they are all waiting for me to arrive.

There used to be lots of room in here.  I could do flips and roll and kick and stretch as much as I wanted.  Now, it's getting harder to move.  Sometimes I just feel like stretching my legs out as far as they will go.  And it seems you like it, because you rub against my foot, letting me know you can feel me too.

I also can feel hot and cold.  Hot is nice.  It makes me feel snuggly and relaxed.  Cold is awful!  I do not like cold at all.  It makes me stretch and kick, trying to warm up.  I don't know what is causing this, but wish you would do something about it.

I have to admit, it's pretty nice here in the dark.  It's cozy, feels warm (most of the time!), and safe.  But, I'm also very curious as to what you and the other voices look like.  I'm not exactly sure how to get out of here, in order to meet you, but I'm working on a plan.  It's hard to explain, and I'm still working out a few details, but I'm almost ready to put this plan into action.  I hope you're as ready to meet me as I am to meet you.

Well, I should go.  It's about time for me to sleep again.  I hope you are resting well.  Once I arrive, I will be anxious to learn more about you.  I plan on spending as much time as possible learning as much as I can, as quickly as I can.  It's going to be exhausting and an around the clock job, but I'm trying to rest and prepare myself for this as best I can.  See you soon!

Much Love from the Dark,

Your Baby


The Waiting Room

No, this post is NOT taking place with me sitting in a waiting room or hospital bed...

The closer I get to meeting our new baby girl, the more reflecting I am doing.  Since there is not much more I actually CAN do, thinking seems to be the safest and easiest for me to manage.

Today is Valentine's Day!!  I actually dreamed I went into labor on Valentine's Day, so in the back of my brain, it's a possibility...  Haha!!  Anxious much?  Nah...

Really, the thing that I've been thinking on most is how MANY things in our life is a series of waiting games.  Hoping.  Praying.  Believing.  Trusting.  In fact, there are very FEW things that give immediate answers or satisfaction.  Chocolate being one of the few things that satisfies immediately, although briefly.

The thing with waiting can get boring.  Tedious.  Stressful.  Nerve-wracking.  This is especially true if you aren't sure what you are waiting on.  For instance, our baby girl, what will she REALLY look like?  Will she have red hair?  Will she be a "good baby"?  Will she sleep through the night quickly?  Will she go to college?  These are not things I am worried about, just things I'm waiting to find out.

So, what's the purpose of waiting?  Is it God's way of teaching patience?  Grace?  Perhaps.  I truly believe it's God's way of positioning the best possible outcome.  The perfect plan for us.  And, He includes roadblocks, obstacles, trials and frustrations along the way too.  And, His perfect plan is perfect to Him for us, not necessarily our idea of perfect.

As humans, this is very hard to accept sometimes.  We feel that the perfect will of God should be all sunshine and rainbows, huge flashing neon signs and absolutely clear and focused direction from God.   And often, it is.  But sometimes, He asks us to wade through some tough stuff.  Our emotions get trampled.  Our hearts get broken.  We feel disconnected, lost and abandoned.  But, the reality is, He's never left.  He is still guiding and He is STILL in control.  Who do you think brought the fog?  Who do you think brought the heartache?  Does He ENJOY our dilemma?  No.  But in His wise way, it is yet another opportunity to trust Him.  To turn to Him.  To depend on Him.

While we wait, we should make sure that we stay in the waiting room.  Even if it means sitting in the dark.  Once our name is called, we should be ready to walk through the doors and receive the answer He has for us.

Abandon the waiting room...and you abandon the blessing, the miracle, the answer.

Waiting rooms are seldom fun.  Out of date magazines, screaming toddlers, cold and uncomfortable plastic chairs...but oh, the feeling when your name is called...  Somehow, all the unpleasant parts of waiting just seem to slip away as you stand up, look forward, walk through that door and into the thing you've been waiting ever so patiently for.


September 14, 2015

15 Weeks!

We've announced it on Facebook, which makes it official, but I have more to say about this pregnancy.

First of all, I feel great!  Not like, run a marathon great, but great.  A little fatigue, which is fairly normal, but other than that, GREAT.  I've had ZERO morning sickness this go around.  Thank you, Lord!

The scariest thing I've encountered was some spotting for about 3 weeks that worried me some, but at the same time, I also had a peace about it all.  I also had some great friends that checked on me (DAILY) and that made a huge difference.  I firmly believe their support is what kept me thinking so positively during that time.  Sadly, this occurred the same time my husband was supposed to be in the Philippines.  He cancelled his trip to stay home with me, just in case.  I kept telling him to "go", but he wanted to stay.  I love him for it, but feel bad that he missed out on a trip because of me and baby.

The spotting was especially worrisome to me because I have miscarried before.  When Jon was about 5, we got pregnant again.  I had just started working and I really needed to be working and we had just started a church and even though we had planned for that pregnancy, God needed our little one Home with Him.  While I had some sadness, I never really got depressed over this loss, as I had tremendous peace/comfort from God during this time.  I knew that our angel baby was in His care and He could take better care of her in Heaven than we could on earth.  To be honest, I felt something was "wrong" from the beginning of the pregnancy, so losing this baby was painful, but not a huge surprise.

Some of you may recall, my pregnancy with Ella was a BEAST.  I saw every "ologist" in the book.  Passed out while sitting in a chair, dealt with a whacked out thyroid and ended up going into the hospital at 36 weeks to be diagnosed with pancreatitis.  I was later told that I was pretty close to dying.  Nice.  Yeah, Ella was nearly the death of me and yet...  I am now pregnant again.  Women are crazy.

Secondly, I'd like to say that this pregnancy was TOTALLY planned.  Yes.  We CHOSE to have another.  There are lots of reasons why we shouldn't have (hello, we live in a 5th wheel and spend most of our days in a truck traveling church to church AND we like traveling overseas to the Philippines), but there were enough reasons why we should that I didn't want to regret at least trying for another.

Lastly, and I can't explain this, but I'm not NEARLY as hungry/starving as I was with Jon and Ella.  With Jon, I'm pretty sure I ate all the time because it was my first pregnancy and I was just totally ignorant as to how much I was actually eating.  With Ella, I stayed a bit nauseated all day long and having food on my stomach helped, so I basically grazed, like a cow, ALL DAY LONG.  With this pregnancy, I'm "normal" hungry for the most part.  I'm eating way less (but still managing to gain weight and look much further along than I really am!!!) and mostly craving healthy stuff.  Proteins, cheese and citrus seem to be the things I gravitate towards.  Too much sugar makes me a little sick feeling, so I've been "indulging" but not as much as I have in the past.

I'm 38.  Now, most days that doesn't seem/feel all that old.  But, the docs consider pregnancy high risk for women over 35.  I definitely qualify.  This does make me a teeny (okay, more than a teeny) bit nervous.  I see all kinds of scary diagnosis on Facebook and spend way too much time googling baby stuff and at times,  I have tiny little panic attacks.  And yet, I feel very strongly that this baby was definitely meant to be and will be exactly what we need, no matter what.

I'm excited!  I'm feeling super strong BOY vibes, as this pregnancy is much like my pregnancy with Jon.

I cannot think of a cool name.  *sigh*  Apparently, "Jon" and "Ella" are the extent of my naming capabilities.  Oh, I have a few that I've been tossing around, but none just FEEL right.  Yet.

The kids have agreed it MUST be a boy.  Jon wants a baby brother and Ella refuses to share her "girl toys".  HA!

I have my next doctor appointment on Thursday and I'm hoping 15 weeks is far enough along to find out boy or girl...I'm hopeful, but won't be surprised if I have to wait longer.

So, there are some random thoughts floating around in my brain.  I apologize for all the grammar mistakes.  I tend to over use commas...  I am pregnant and that is going to be my excuse for the next several months.  Enjoy and feel free to comment!


November 7, 2014

The scariest thing I have ever done…twice!

Are y'all ready for this?  I should probably be horribly ashamed to admit this…but I must confess.  Before this trip to Manila, I have NEVER bought fresh (not frozen) chicken.  Never.  Not once.  I am terrified of salmonella, e. coli, and all the rest of the funky stuff just lurking in a person's home to contract.

Yet, of all places, I choose to be brave several thousand miles outside of my comfort zone to bite the bullet and buy chicken.  Crazy, right?  But, I'm glad I did!  I now have 3 new dishes to feed to my family and due to so much more time in the kitchen,  I have mastered the rice cooker.  Oh.  That's the other thing I have never used before in my life.  A rice cooker.  This trip, I learned how to cook rice (thank you Google!!) and I have mastered the art of fluffy rice in a rice cooker!  Let the angels rejoice!  I might actually be turning Filipina after all!

While I am serious about these two new things to add to my accomplishments in life, I am also struck with the thought about how much more brave a person can be when they are out of their comfort zone.

When things no longer feel safe and secure, you have to make adjustments.  You have to change your plans.  You have to change your thinking, your perspective.  Sure, you can stay inside that little safety zone, but you would be missing some pretty awesome things (hello!  fluffy rice anyone?!?!).

Living for God is like being brave enough to buy fresh chicken.  Ok, that may be a bit of a stretch, but sometimes living for God can be scary.  It can cause us to have tremendous faith.  Faith in the unseen.  Faith in God and faith in ourselves.  We have to trust that He will take care of us and trust that He has already spoken a word to us and equipped us with the tools and/or talent we will require to accomplish what He has called us to do.

It's not too hard to trust God, but it can be quite challenging to have faith in ourselves.  If you have ever felt a call of God on your life, then you already have been given everything you need to see the work fulfilled.  Oh sure, there may be a learning process along the way (how many TIMES did I allow the rice to burn before I realized you have to unplug it after it's finished cooking!!!!), but know that God's hand is leading you and guiding you into EXACTLY what He has planned for you and He has given you all the ability you need and is also capable of teaching you along the way!!!

Besides buying fresh chicken and mastering the rice cooker, I've also done a couple other scary things since being here in Manila.

The Lord gave me a dream not long after arriving here.  In my dream I was teaching the 2nd year class.  Since I do not have any classes with the 2nd year, I knew there was something special about this dream.  In my dream, I began to discuss "balance" with the students.  God gave me a visual and the 4 key points to the lesson and then I woke up. Well, I let it stir in my heart and my brain and finally, it came time for me to present it.  I was SO NERVOUS!!!  I do not know how my husband can repeatedly get up in front of a congregation with a word from God and deliver it with polish and confidence.  I suppose, after many years of "practice" it's easier for him, but I was a wreck.  However, I delivered my heart to them, and I believe they were blessed by it.  Today, I was able to share the same lesson with the 1st year class.  I was less nervous today, but still, trusting the voice of God and delivering what He has laid on your heart is not something for cowards.

I've also started some of my own personal development.  An opportunity opened up for me to take an online certificate course in counseling.  I've been praying about some things I've been feeling and talking things over with my husband and this seemed like a confirmation to what I felt.  It literally just kind of dropped into my lap.  So, I signed up, enrolled and took the plunge.  I am about halfway through the class and LOVING EVERY SECOND OF IT!  I feel challenged!!!  Part of the course work involves reading a book a week and so far, I've had to write two papers.  The reading part…I LOVE!  The writing part…I LOVE!  The submitting papers for grading…I HATE!  Oh, the agony.  Did I say everything I need to say?  Did I fully capture the essence of what the instructor asked for?  Did I use correct APA format?  I am sure that I will adjust and this anxiety will lessen over time, but until then, I will be biting my nails and questioning every little sentence.

So, there you have it.  A brief recap and a little inspiration for your day.  Doing scary things doesn't have to be scary, if you allow God to lead you and guide you through them.  Love y'all!  Hope you are all enjoying fall!  It's getting cooler here (yes…cool!!) and the wind is blowing and there has been a lovely breeze today.  While this weather is typical for Manila during this time of the year, I like to think that God is blessing me with my own personal fall/autumn here.  And I love it!


October 20, 2014

Living with a Lizard: Update from Manila

Y'all, I consider myself a tough kinda gal.  I am not too frou frou and even though I avoid it as much as possible, I don't get all bent out of shape about getting sweaty and dirty.

But living with a lizard is like living with a spring-loaded jack-in-the-box!  You never know when that stupid thing is going to turn up!  Good gravy!

No, they are not poisonous or dangerous.  They do not attack or bite or even hiss.  They just creep and crawl along the floor and the wall--at will!  They strut their stuff right in front of you without regard to your personal feelings.  They are very selfish and self-centered evil beady-eyed creatures.  *shudder*

I've been fighting the lizard battle NON-STOP since we arrived. It's ridiculous!  Last year, we had ONE lizard.  One.  Just ONE!  It lived in the closet and we rarely saw it (only flashes as it darted away) and it never bothered us.  We did manage to capture and "release" it (into the toilet), but prior to that we lived in complete harmony.

This year, totally different story. The lizards are taking over.  I imagine them darting to and fro as I see phantom images of them out of the corner of my eye.  I'm not even kidding.  I may need therapy after this trip.  I have a severe case of the heebie jeebies!

On top of the lizard infestation (yes, 3 is an infestation!), I have ant issues.  Ugh.  They wouldn't be so bad if we didn't get the mean ones that bite.

I feel like I'm living in the middle of the jungle!  I wouldn't be too surprised if a lion or zebra didn't walk through the living room!

Besides the pest control issues, life here is pretty routine, but more fun--because we are in the Philippines!  HA!  Everything is more fun in the Philippines!!

Trent and I have started taking Sir. Flowers' night school class on leadership.  We are studying leadership through the book of Nehemiah.

I recently enrolled in a certificate program through Apostolic School of Theology.  The certificate program is Congregational Counseling.  It has been a very LONG time since I was a student, but I have been feeling a nudge regarding going back to school and this opportunity opened up and it just seemed like the right fit and the right timing.  So, here we go!!

The first week, we were required to read an entire book.  Not a huge issue for me, because I am a total nerd about reading.  I also had to write a 3-page paper and that was a bit intimidating, as the only "writing" I've done is blogging (doesn't count) and changing my Facebook status (totally doesn't count).

It would appear for the time being that we are all healthy and happy.  I have a minor cold that sends me into coughing fits when I talk too much, but the rest of us are all feeling finer than a frog's hair.  FINALLY!!  Besides lizards, it seems we have battled illness or ailments galore this trip.

We are especially thankful to our partners, family and friends that have supported us and continue to support us!  We recently experienced a financial miracle/blessing!  We knew we would have to renew our visas for the remainder of our stay and it was our hopes to be able to do this for the same amount we paid last year and had budgeted for this year.  However, we were quoted a MUCH higher price.  The next day, a pastor friend of ours felt led to send money to our paypal account.  Thank you Lord for your provision!  I replied to the email thanking him for his support and prayers and told him that this money would help cover an unexpected expense.  He replied by sending an additional offering!  Thank you Jesus for your goodness and abundant blessings!  I am telling you this story because I recently taught my first year students about giving.  When we give, God WILL give back.  I have been faithful in my giving of offerings, even while here in the Philippines, and God has not held anything back from us, including this huge financial blessing!

Despite the creepy crawlies, we have been blessed and blessed more abundantly while we have been here.  God's hand upon us is evident and we are so thankful to be serving Him!

Much love from Manila--until next time,