Saturday, April 30, 2011

OK, OK, I'll do it...

Many of you know that I love coupons. I like, LOVE love them! I have been asked over and over and over to share some of my coupon "secrets". So, I'm finally giving in and doing it. Here is the most brief list of coupon tips that I can give - a good starting point for you newbies...

1. Change your perception of coupons. I know that a lot of you think of coupons as being something for "cheap people", "broke people", or "people with too much time on their hands". You need to start thinking of coupons as what they really are -- FREE MONEY!! If I were to hand you $50 to help pay for your groceries, you'd use it, right??? Of course you would! So why not use coupons?!

2. Couponing doesn't take as much time as you may think. When you first start, you will have to invest some time to get organized. However, once you have you're set and a few shopping trips into things, you get a routine. Believe me when I say that once you get used to using your coupons you will find yourself lost without them!

3. Get organized. This may mean one thing for me and another thing for you. You have to do what works best for yourself. I keep my coupon in a humongous binder filled with baseball card sleves. Each pocket is labeled with a category, and the corresponding coupons go in that slot. My pages are organized in the order that you would find things in your average grocery store.

4. Get your coupons. Coupons come from many places these days - the Sunday paper, the free weekly community papers, the internet, store sale ads. When you are clipping your coupons, remember to keep an open mind. Don't only cut out the coupons for the items that you regularly buy. I choose which coupons to clip by considering this -- Would I purchase this item if I could get it for free or really cheap? This helps me get a lot of deals that I might miss out on if I only clipped coupons for items that I regularly purchase. And heck, you can always donate items to the GLCC food pantry!!!

5. Know your store sales. You get the most bang for your buck when you combine coupons with store sales. Weekly grocery store sale ads come out in the Wednesday paper. Combining great store sales with coupons is how I saved $87 off of a $130 grocery bill this week and paid just over $42!!! Here's a picture of my receipt (I love leaving them on the counter for my husband to see how much of a good steward of our money I am trying to be).....

OK, now let the questions flood in. Who knows, if you ask enough I may even cave in again and do a couponing class :)

Friday, April 29, 2011


As a mom of two young kids, I am the queen of laundry. My toddler is a magnet for dirt, food, and markers. There are so many stains that end up on her adorable outfits. Sometimes soaking, pre-treating, or stain-sticks promising to get the stain “the first time-or your money back!” make little or no difference and the item is ruined. Usually, these clothes are tossed in the trash or shoved to the bottom of the drawer for playing in the mud.

At the same time, we are magnets to sin and suffer from these stains in our lives. As Romans 3:23 says, we have all sinned and fall short of God’s glory. We try to clean up our own lives and get rid of or hide our dirty laundry so God can’t see. But Christ, the Lamb without stain, died for us and by His blood we are made clean. God tells us in His Word, “I will cleanse them from all their iniquity…and I will pardon all their iniquities by which they have sinned against me” (Jeremiah 33:8). Praise the Lord I don’t have to worry about being tossed out or stuck in a drawer somewhere!

Even more than just having our sins excused is the beautiful picture God gives us in Isaiah 1:18, “…Though your sins be as scarlet, they will be white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they will be like wool.” God has taken all of our stains away and cleansed with His righteousness for His glory so that we can be used by Him to reach others. What a mighty stain-stick!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

May Day

May Day

Poet Robert Browning wrote:

Grow old along with me!
The best is yet to be,
The last of life, for which the first was made:
Our times are in His hand
Who saith "A whole I planned",
Youth shows but half; trust God: see all, nor be afraid....

I love the freshness of the arrival of Spring after the cold darkness of winter. The first showing of spring bulbs that push through the left over snow. Then the bright fresh colors of the promise of the Earth awaking from a long winter's nap.

In Spring I can almost feel the first color of blossoms appear on the trees and then the whole world breaks forth in colors of white, pale pink, darker pink, shades of yellow and green and purple.

How was I to know when I first started dating my husband to be that the first token May Basket was to become a lifelong tradition? Each year on the first day of May there is a reminder of a remembrance of a love that has lasted many, many years.

Song of Solomon 2:16 My lover is mine and I am his.

My first May Day basket arrived on my door knob while we were dating. The basket it's self was not much to look at. Just some folded paper with fresh blossoms picked from his yard. The treasure was mine to discover as I left my house that morning.

This tradition has been going on for so many years that I really do not remember the reason for the first one. I just know that on the first day of May I will once again be greeted with fresh flowers from our yard with an I Love You note attached. In all of our years together he has only missed two May Days and that was when he was on military duty out of the country. I have found that in a marriage it is not only good but fun to have a little way that only the two of you may understand that expresses your love for each other.

So I suggest that you have some secret fun. Something that only the two of you will understand. A special song, a coded message etc. We still use a coded message that we inscribe on cards or letters to each other. Our children are still trying to figure out what the letters mean. This does indeed bring a smile to our faces.

What is your special message that says I LOVE YOU? That says I am thinking of you. You are my own true love.

Again this year on the first day of May I will look forward to the small affirmation of love. The flowers from our yard that will be on the table in the kitchen waiting for me to discover.

Grow old along with me!
the best is yet to be.

I wish you a May Basket.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

"And God is faithful..."

May is the craziest month of my year. In fact, one glance at my calendar could bring Goliath to his knees! For stress, it ranks higher than September; higher even than the Christmas season! Birthdays, anniversary, end-of-year celebrations, sporting practices, games and rescheduled games, field trips, band and choral concerts, graduations, piano recitals, doctor appointments, appreciation banquets, and more, press into every available cranny of the day!

New things are entering the ring as we speak: my husband’s away for 2 weeks, the car engine light is on, my sister’s 26 year marriage is dissolving, my mother-in-law’s health is rapidly declining, and good friends are hurting and betrayed. My tranquility storehouse is on its last reserves! Are you feeling the heat with me? And May hasn’t even arrived yet!

As I lay in bed last night, the house finally quiet and still, I gave the whole schedule/performance thing over to God. The Holy Sprit groaned on my behalf (Rom 8:26) - I was too distraught to formulate a coherent request! Immediately, God brought 1 Corinthians 10:13 to mind: “And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted (tested) beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted (tested), he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”

Ahhhh, the sweetness of that promise! It washed over me, and filled me with His serenity. God is faithful. He would NOT allow my peace and energy drain out! He knows my limits (but does He think too highly of me, perhaps?). When my storehouse is empty, His will take over. More than anything, I can know that it’s HIS hand on the thermostat, and He will NOT let me go down in flames!

So, as we dash past one other in the upcoming weeks, remind me of God’s character and promise, if you would please. Maybe we can tell each other. “God is faithful”!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Getting to the Point

Since I like words and language, it can sometimes be hard for me to keep it short and sweet; I have a tendency to be a little... wordy. But, as they say, “Brevity is the soul of wit,” and sometimes writing 6 words can be more of a challenge than writing 500 words. I recently read a book dedicated to the art of being concise. (By the way, if you’re into drinking games [with milk or water, of course], start paying attention to how many times I’ll reference a book in my blog posts.) The book was a collection of six-word memoirs. They asked people, both “famous and obscure,” to write their memoir using only six words.

Some were funny and clever, though still meaningful: “Underachieving... but willing to compensate halfheartedly,” or “Macular degeneration. Didn’t see that one coming.”

Some were sad: “I still make coffee for two,” and “My baby’s name was Sydney Jane.”

Some were startlingly honest: “Thank God the suicide attempt failed.”

Some even dealt with religion: “Living for Jesus because Earth sucks,” and “Not a good Christian, but trying.”

Some were just odd: “Aspiring lady pirate, disillusioned, sells boat.”

Mothers tended to be a theme: “Afraid of becoming like my mother,” “Became my mother. Please shoot me,” and “I’m my mother and I’m fine.”

I really identified with a few of them: “Can’t read all the time. Bummer.” “Right brain working left brain job.” “Realized childhood dreams don’t pay bills.”

I really liked the title of the book: “Not quite what I was planning.”

As I said, I’m wordy, which is why I’m just now getting to the point – sometimes whittling life down to the bare bones can really simplify things. The words that would fill in the gaps to further explain those six-word memoirs would be important and interesting, but they can also clutter things up and distract from the main point. Some of the memoirs in the book were so poignant because they were so short.

In addition to words, I like answers and I like to know things, so I can sometimes get very wrapped up in the theology of Christianity, wanting to know the tough answers – Why do bad things happen to good people? Why does God allow suffering? Who did Adam & Eve’s children marry? And it goes on and on. What if I just simplified it? What if I narrowed it down a bit? What if I stopped questioning and just followed this six-word rule: “God said it. I believe it.”

At the risk of being struck by lightning, here are a couple six-word memoirs I came up with that could come from Jesus: “Died on the cross. Rose again.” Or maybe, “I did it all for you.”

One from God: “Loved my son. Loved you more.”

I’ve always liked this quick sum-up of the Bible; it’s more than 6 words, but it’s still pretty darn short considering what they had to work with:

God made
Adam bit
Noah arked
Abraham split
Jacob fooled
Joseph ruled
Bush talked
Pharaoh plagued
Sea divided
Tablets guided
Promise landed
Judges led
Saul freaked
David peeked
Kingdom divided
Prophets warned
People exiled
Hope rose
Jesus born
God walked
Anger crucified
Love rose
Spirit flamed
Word spread
God remained

There’s certainly a time and place for learning all we can about God, the Bible, Christianity... for digging into the meaning of Revelation, or discussing whether you believe in predestination or free will, but there’s also something to be said for just keeping it simple every now and then to help us focus on the main point.

So this wasn’t a short post, but I did warn you that I was wordy. By the way, I did try to write my own abbreviated memoir. Here’s what I eventually ended up with: “Wasted time on six little words.”

Old Dog...New Tricks

We're learning all sorts of new things here at Grace-Lifeline and how to manage the blog is one of them. We've added a new feature and if it works (praying it does!) you will be able to follow us by email. So...look to the top right, add your email address in the box, follow the simple instructions and you can be notified each day if there is a post. New email, new post. No email, no post. Easy.

We're working hard, so you don't have to:) I stole that from Scrubbing Bubbles.

Bloom Where You're Planted

Vicki Kolbe

Lauren Giller, Vicki Kolbe, Delores Washington

Happy Monday, ladies of Grace-Life!

Each week, we've been trying to shine the spotlight on someone who is joyfully serving where God has led them. This week, we get to meet Vicki Kolbe who led the choral performers in yesterday's rendition of In Christ Alone. What a blessing that was for us, at Easter, to hear the lovely sounds of a choir...something we have been missing for a while now. If you see Vicki around GLCC, get to know her and tell her how thankful we are that she saw a need and answered the call.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

A Very Special Sunday

From our Easter service at church this morning...just in case you wanted to watch it again and again.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Best Laid Plans

How many of you are planners? I believe most women are, even if they are not the most organized or they aren't list makers. We like to think things through, have an idea of what's coming our way in order to be prepared. Has your mind ever been too busy at bedtime for you to shut it down and drift off to sleep? Have you woken in the wee hours of the morning with that mental list flapping away in your head, unable to snooze again due to the way you're wired?

I've been thinking about the ladies who followed Jesus to his crucifixion and then to his grave. What a different ending then they had expected when their journey with him began and the devastation they must have felt would have been overwhelming. What could be done to change the outcome or to make things better? I know they must have been feeling the need to do just that...make things better. The only thing left to them was to care for Jesus' body in the best way they knew how. They began to prepare.

Luke 23:55-56 says, The women who had come with Jesus from Galilee followed Joseph and saw the tomb and how his body was laid in it. They they went home and prepared spices and perfumes. But they rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment.

What a long day that must have been for them, waiting to go and anoint the body of their beloved Jesus, but they must not break the Sabbath. I found myself wondering what must have been going through their minds as they anticipated making that walk to the tomb, finding someone to roll back the stone and then lovingly perfuming their Master's bruised and beaten body. Did Mary M have a list? Did Salome wake in the night wondering if Mary the mother of James was bringing the linen she had been assigned? What about Joanna's special spice blend? Would she have enough? Perhaps they would not even be allowed to enter the tomb and then what would they do? Can't you see their minds spinning with the plans...just like we do now when we are worrying over what will be?

Finally the first day of the week arrived! know they were up with the sun. Scriptures tell us that very early, just after sunrise they set out. Moss didn't grow on these girls! No sir, when women have a plan it's better to go along with them or get out of the way! God had a surprise for them, though, and it came with the discovery of the empty tomb and the miraculous resurrection of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.

What did I learn from these ladies? I learned that no matter how many lists I make and how much I plan, the Lord has a better way than I can even dream of. I can make all the lists in the world and involve all sorts of other people, yet when it comes down to it, God will provide the most awesome outcome, the one that will renew my faith and bring Him Glory.

Friday, April 22, 2011

He said..."become like little children" (Matt 18:3).

“Let’s read the story again, mommy!” My kids each went through a phase during their 2’s and 3’s when they wanted to hear the same storybook over and over and over again! Can you identify? Every single night, despite our tactics to divert and redirect (“Hey, how about this colorful one?”, “Check out the princess on this cover!”), we always ended up reading the same old story! For my husband and me, it became pure torture (I still recall some snippets today). But for them, it was new, fresh, and exciting, and they listened with eager interest, as if it were their very first time.

As adults, there are some things we just never tire of hearing either. I thought of this on Sunday, as I took in Pastor Bob’s sermon. Skillfully, he described the life we believers were born to naturally, and then, reborn to in Christ. We too were crucified to our past, our sinful natures, our striving to be acceptable and good enough, the day we trusted Jesus as Savior. In its place, we received Christ’s perfect righteousness and His inseparable presence for all eternity.

I listened to this wonderful story with fresh, youthful ears. Indeed, it was banquet of pure delight! The scripture, the praise songs, the truth so perfectly delivered, the prayer of thanksgiving, are a story I never get tired of! I can never get enough of this story! It is music to my ears and the food my soul craves, every time I hear it. It reminds me: I am righteous (despite my sin)! Christ is my never-ending source of life (despite this creaky old body)! I will never be lonely again (even when I’m alone)! I will go directly into His arms after (after I take my last breath)! I am forgiven, I am FREE!!! Last Sunday, I think I could have stayed in that pew, listening to that same story, all day long!

Does this happen to you? Next time, listen with the enthusiasm of a child. You’ll hear the story, YOUR story, like it was the first time ever.

Retreat Opportunity in June

If you've been wondering about God's love toward you and wanted to explore your passion for the Lord, there is an opportunity to do just that. Eagle Eyrie Conference Center near Lynchburg is hosting The Women's Deepening Weekend, June 24-26. The information for the retreat can be found at the link.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

We Are Weak But He Is Strong

Our family is going through the adoption process for siblings from Ethiopia. We started this journey in the summer of 2009 and we will be lucky if we complete it this year. Let me tell you this process is not for wimps. It is costly in time, emotions and money. We strongly felt God's leading even though we did not have the resources to pull off such a huge and costly endeavor. We had no idea what God was going to do but we began the process even though we barely had enough in our savings account to get through the first 3 steps.

After doing mounds of paperwork and legwork we finally got a completed home study and began our official wait to be matched with children from an orphanage. We waited and we waited. More then one year we waited. Then we got word that Ethiopia would be slowing down their international adoption process by 90%. We were devastated. Would we wait years longer? Would we EVER be matched with kids? Lord, what are you doing?
That night was very difficult for me and I couldn't sleep. I felt in my heart that there were 2 children in Africa who had our name written on their hearts but I was beginning to doubt that I would ever really get to them.
I had a heart to heart with God that night and basically threw my hands up and admitted that I had no control over this process. None. The fate of our adoption process was 100% in someone else's hands. God would have to finish this and I just had to trust Him.

Less then one week later we got the call we had been waiting over 20 months for. They had matched us! We are going to be the proud new parents of two beautiful little boys, ages 3 and 5. We are beyond excited and we saw with the timeline that had this process gone any faster these 2 particular little boys would not have been ours.

There is a verse in the bible that was written just for me. No kidding. It is Matthew 15:16 ' "Are you still so dull?" Jesus asked them.' Yep, that is my verse. How many times will God have to prove himself faithful to me before I learn to trust Him completely? Why does He have to bring me to the end of myself every time before I will give up my will? The most difficult financial and emotional part of our adoption is still yet to come but I have complete peace that His grace is sufficient and each day He will give to me what I need to get through it. Can I also tell you that so far we are over $20,000 into this process and every fee has been paid at the moment it was due. We have not yet had to take out a loan and we don't owe anyone any money for our adoption. Amazing!

I believe there is something beautiful about throwing your hands in the air and admitting to God that we are weak. We just can't do it. Isn't that where he wants us? Complete trust in Him. Aren't those the times we really see God work in our lives and we experience true rest? And how many times does he work things out even better then we even thought to ask for in the first place? His power is made perfect in our weakness.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


What is your first thought when you hear of a natural disaster?
How Horrible!
Everything is gone.
Oh, those poor people!
How will they survive?
Who will help them?
What can be done to save others?
That is really sad but I sure am glad I don't live there.
Where is God?

When the major earthquake hit Japan I was in a daze just as many of you were. As the world learned of the total devastation in some areas it just became too much to watch. The news stations were right there to cover every new tragic event as it happened and we here could watch and listen from our comfortable homes and perhaps say OH THAT IS SO HORRIBLE. HOW WILL THE PEOPLE SURVIVE?

Or perhaps some of you can put a personal handle on the people of Japan. I did. No,I have never been to Japan but I know someone who was born and raised there. Several years ago Humi asked me to teach her Bible. What a joy that was. Humi had seen something different in the way my daughter led her life. She wanted what my daughter had. After coming to know Jesus Humi experienced God working in her life. She suffered a miscarriage and as disheartening as that was she felt the presence of God holding her hand.

Naturally after the earthquake my thoughts went to her and her family. Humi's family still lives in Japan - father, mother, sister brother, and nieces and nephews. Humi now lives in CA. with her family. I sent an e-mail to her inquiring about her family in Japan...had she heard from them? Were they safe? How was Humi dealing with the situation being so far from family? I assured her I would be praying for her and her family. Her reply was "Families are ok but still afraid of many problems." "Every day I feel so sorry with my family because I live away from Japan and I don't need to be scared everyday like them." (They do not know Jesus) She adds pray for them.

Do you know God?
Do you share with others how He is working in your life?
Do you believe that in all events God is in perfect control? I mean in ALL situations.

Through the study of the book of Isaiah this year it has become so evident to me that God is always in control. This brings me much hope in this changing world we live in today that no matter what the circumstances. No matter what natural disaster or who rules a country. He is still in charge. No fear He is He was and He will always be in control.

I hope that you too can experience that peace of God being in control.
Isaiah 49:16...See I have engraved you on the palms of my hands. Is your name engraved on His palm?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Languages of God

I love words; I love language. I’m mostly concerned with the English language, but let’s take a moment to consider some of theses facts about the languages of the world:

- It is estimated that there are 2,700 languages in the world (and that’s not taking into account different dialects).
- The rarest language is Oubykh; it has 82 consonants but only 3 vowels.
- An early written language consisted of nothing more than scratches on rocks.
- In many countries, people use 1 language for some activities and a 2nd language for others.
- Irish Gaelic possesses no equivalent of yes or no.
- The Eskimos have 50 words for snow.
- In German, if you wish to say you, you must choose between seven words.
- Japanese has no future tense.

These facts are taken from Bill Bryson’s book, The Mother Tongue. English and How it Got That Way. It’s a fascinating book, and I just gave you a sampling from the first 2 chapters of the book.

I’m sure by now you’re wondering what the point of all this is (or if I even have one). It’s coming, I promise. I was in my truck the other day listening to one of my favorite singers, Kathy Troccoli, when the words of the chorus jumped out at me: “Oh praise Him all His mighty works, There is no language where you can't be heard, Your song goes out to all the earth, Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah.”

Think about that – 2,700 languages in the world, including some so remote they’re only spoken by 10 people who have no contact with the rest of the world - and yet God knows their language and the language of every person on this planet. He knows every dialect, every quirk, every spelling, and every accent. He knows when to speak from the back of the throat versus the front of the mouth. He knows tenses, gestures, gender nouns, and every little complexity. He knows how the languages have changed over the course of the years. He even knows where the commas and apostrophes belong.

Now some of you are probably sitting here thinking, “Well, yeah, of course He knows this stuff. He’s God; He knows everything.” And of course you’re right. But sometimes I think it’s nice to sit and ponder how great and awesome He is. And for me, this just made me sit back and say, “Wow.” Every single person in this world, no matter their language (or their ability to speak it well) has the ability to speak to God, and He will listen and answer them... in their language. The oh-so-obvious conclusion here is that God speaks our language too.

If you want to listen to the song, here's a version by Chris Rice (though I think Kathy Troccoli's version is better):

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Bloom Where You're Planted

Do you know Penni Barreras? If not, you need to get to know her. She has been faithfully volunteering every Friday for an entire year to prepare the bulletins for Sunday's service. Every Friday for a year to do 600 bulletins single handedly! That's pretty amazing. Those in the front office who have the pleasure of working with her say she's a blessing and so incredibly faithful.

This next Sunday when you receive your bulletin, know that Penni's hands have prepared it just for you. When you see her around the church, say hello and tell her thanks for her heart of service.

Colossians 3:23
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men,

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Eggcitement at the Eggstravaganza

Who's your friend, Sheila? She must be somebunny special!

Terri and Joanna are "hoppy" to be part of the celebration!
Tammy and Pam look "eggstra" special for the occasion!
Laura, did you make those "eggcellent" cupcakes?
Hannah looks quite "eggsotic" in her glam bunny ears.
What's so "eggstremely" funny ladies? Joan and Elaine share a laugh over Jeff McCormick's bunny ears (not pictured).

Come to Me, all who are weary...

Did you catch Pastor Bob’s sermon on Sunday? It’s been bouncing around my head all week. His message – we need to rest in order to live and serve fruitfully (rest to better work, huh?) And God will make sure we rest, one way or another! In fact, I have a hunch that He even imposes that rest on His people who refuse to take it themselves. He did that for me a couple of years ago.

I was teaching Sunday school and my co-leader had jumped ship. Furthermore, my class had become an enormous group of combined 1st and 2nd graders. "This wasn’t what I had signed up for!", I bemoaned. Week after week, I plowed forward becoming more exhausted by the minute. My nerves were frayed, my creativity had evaporated, my patience was thinning, and my joy had all but disappeared.

One day, I bent down to retrieve something from the car’s back seat. Ouch! Piercing pain shot up my side. I could not even stand! And right then, my spinning wheels ground to a halt. There was nothing I could do but lie down and rest.

Rest. And think. And pray. And cry. I felt depleted and helpless. I had failed God and failed myself. Why wasn’t I able to pull this off? Maybe I just wasn’t cut out to do this work, I thought. That’s when God spoke up. Like a surgeon, He went right to the diseased spot in my thinking. He said, “I don’t love you because you serve Me. You serve Me because you love Me.”

The truth of these words washed over me like a healing salve. God loved me. Period. It had nothing to do with whether or not I served Him, or how well I performed at doing it. He loves me. And, only with a heart full of that love and dependence could I do anything worthwhile for Him. God didn’t NEED me to accomplish His work; but, He would ALLOW me to participate in it, if only I could understand my rightful role. In my weakness, He made me strong. In my rest, He gave me work.

Col 1:9 – 10 says, “Ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will … so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work”.

So go ahead. Take that rest you desperately need. Let His words fill you and cut away any wrong thinking. Do it of your own accord, or He will do it for you :).

Friday, April 15, 2011

Take Me Out To The Ball Game

Those girls of GLCC keep popping up everywhere. Here we are at Valley View fields watching the church team whip up on opponents. If you're looking for a fun way to spend a Friday night, come out and join us for the game. If you haven't had enough fun, head with us afterward to Foster's Grille for food and fellowship.

Be Still...

I'm a planner. Type A to the max. I have a list for everything. Yes, I had my whole life planned out by the time I was 18. And yes, I know God's plan is WAY bigger than mine... but He built me like this, so I try to use my planning "skills" as a gift. That is, until a week like this one comes along!

You see, I have this Google calendar where I put my schedule and my kids' schedules. My husband has one too where he posts his schedule. We share calendars so everything is all planned out, nice and pretty, in one place, just the way I like it!

This week was going to be a busy one -- football and cheer on Monday, baseball practice Tuesday, baseball game and cheer on Wednesday, football and baseball practice Thursday... and the weekend? 5 baseball games, 3 hours of cheer and 1 football game! Sounds like a lot, but you see, I had it all planned out on my pretty little calendar. It was all going to run smoothly, no problem, easy breezy! And then the rain came. Tuesday - cancelled, Wednesday - cancelled, weekend baseball tournament - CANCELLED... Are you kidding me??? I can fly by the seat of my pants for one day, but for a week? Come on now! You'd think I would see the freed up time as a blessing, but I was too busy consuming myself that my plans were getting messed up.

So, my nicely planned out week has gone up in flames and now this planning "skill" of mine has turned into a burden. Kids are picking on one another, I'm losing my cool... but the planner in me is consumed with trying to figure things out and replan, then replan again, and again... Then I hear it from somewhere in the back of my mind, "Be still". Still? I'm a mover, a shaker, gotta get to the next thing on my plan. Wait, what happened to my plan? "Be still." This time I get it. Time for me to let it go. God's plan is bigger. I'm still not quite sure what He has in store for me this week, but I'm going to be still and know that He is God, and I'm sure His plans are WAY better than mine!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Big Events in the DC Area

Have you given a thought to your summer yet? How about fall? As you make your plans, you may want to check out these sites to see if Women of Faith or Beth Moore might fit into the schedule. Here's the info...have fun:)

Women of Faith will be in the District on August 26th and 27th.

Beth Moore will be in Baltimore over the September 30/October 1 weekend.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Birthdays and Fathers

Today is my birthday. I celebrated in much the same way that many of you might celebrate. I ate all day, and opened gifts and cards and had a lovely evening with my family. Over dinner we talked of many things but I told them of the best gift my father had ever given me.

My dad left school in the 6th grade to go to work. It was in the thick of the depression and my grandfather was earning 25c a day and trying to feed a family of 8. There was no question of furthering an education, so that was that. Fast forward many years and he's a father to his own small family, still working hard and doing his best with his limited education. On the morning of my 7th or 8th birthday, he came to wake me up and said there was a surprise for me. He carried me to the window and showed me that it had snowed during the night (April 12th...yeah, pretty cool!)and told me God had done that for me. Then he gave me a poem he had written especially for my big day. It's full of misspellings and letters that aren't capitalized, and it's a English teacher's nightmare, but it's more precious than gold to me because it was a gift from the heart and one I'll never forget. I still have it in my box of treasures.

Our Heavenly Father does the same for us. He loves us unconditionally, carries us close to His heart, and shows us the magnificent things He's created, things like snowy April mornings designed to bring us joy.

What has the Lord done for you that brings you joy or great encouragement? Think about these things, write them down and store them up like treasures in your heart.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Bloom Where You're Planted

My mother had an amazing way of planting things. She could take any little slip of a growing thing, put it in dirt, and like magic it would become big and mighty in a very short time. It was a gift.

Another very important sort of gift is being available to serve where God directs and doing it joyfully. I popped in on the ladies in the infant nursery yesterday and saw love in action, crying babies being comforted and happy babies playing under the kind supervision of some younger volunteers. Each and every Sunday, the nursery is staffed by volunteers who give of their time and energies and we want to recognize them here on Grace-Lifeline.

This Monday's bloomers are Cindy Hagenhoff and her daughter, Sara. Melanie Johnson pitched in with her friend Sara, and those up and coming helpers are very much appreciated. Casey Hadsall put her mothering skills to work to care for the little ones, as did Kelly Badillo. Kelly's two children were there assisting as well. The young moms who bring their babies each week are sure to be thankful for such loving attention!

Be on the lookout for next Monday's bloomers. You never know who will be snapped joyfully serving where they've been planted.

Peter, Jesus, and Grace

If you missed it this morning, Pastor Bob showed a skit from The Skit Guys about Peter and unmerited grace. We have a hard time forgiving ourselves, but Jesus has already done the work of forgiveness on the cross.

Go, watch and see.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

A Thankful Heart?

For those of you who don’t me, I’ll let you in on a secret: I’m a pessimist... a negative, cup-half-empty, untrusting, little Eeyore. For those of you who do know me, you know it’s actually no secret at all.

Because of this (among other things), at a Bible study two Mondays ago, my friends gave me a challenge – I was supposed to try to have a spirit of thankfulness for the rest of the week. I’ll be honest with you, I can’t quite remember how we went from discussing The Last Supper to that, but nevertheless, the challenge was issued, and I accepted. I was pretty psyched about it, too. I was due to report back the following Monday, and I just knew that I was going to come in with an amazing positive spirit, telling them all how my life had changed and I was a new person. (I like to have things planned out, and that does include spiritual awakenings.) I was pretty convinced that this thankful heart was going to be the turnaround I’d been seeking in my walk with God. I went to bed looking forward to it (how’s that for optimism?).

The next morning, I kinda forgot about it. Actually, I kind of forgot about it until that Thursday afternoon – I tripped a little while walking up the stairs but didn’t fall, for which I was grateful. As I breathed a sigh of relief to God, I remembered what I had forgotten. Figuring I could work on it retroactively, I began thinking of the things that had happened that week. Foremost in my mind was learning that a friend had been admitted into the hospital. I was not thankful. Surely that didn’t count, so I kept thinking. I had a good dinner with a friend; it involved cheesecake – thankful, of course. I couldn’t remember much more of my week, so I decided I’d just start the whole thankful-thing over again the following day. Over the next week, I didn’t remember constantly, but there were moments when it occurred to me to be thankful. Good evening with friends... check. Bought a “new” truck... check. Heard the water running from the air conditioner in time to turn it off before any damage occurred... check. Then I began thinking that only being grateful for the good stuff was easy, and therefore, probably wrong. To truly have a spirit of thankfulness, I needed to be thankful even in the bad stuff, right? Ok, so my friend was in the hospital, but she was doing better and it wasn’t as serious as it could be – silver lining to be thankful for! But, wait, isn’t that actually still a “good” thing? Am I cheating? My head began to hurt a little (not thankful).

Am I supposed to actually be thankful for a bad thing happening? I looked it up – I Thessalonians 5:18 says “give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” Well, dang.

I know good can come from bad, so I can understand being thankful for it in hindsight, but in the middle of misery, is thankfulness an emotion that I’m truly expected to be capable of?

I know when people read a blog on a Christian website, they’re expecting guidance, encouragement, answers... honestly, you’re not going to get much of that from me (see first sentence of this blog). But I do like discussion, debate, and learning, so let’s talk – what’s your take on having a spirit of thankfulness. Do you have it? Do you want it (easy answer!)? How do you think you get it? Are we as humans capable of it or is it just something we strive for until heaven? Is it a spirit, rather than an action? There may be no easy answers, but I’m very interested in hearing what y’all think.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Been Thinking About....

Deuteronomy 6:5-7 "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your heart. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up."

In March we were blessed with a beautiful sunny Spring -like day. The grass was beginning to turn and I could see some evidence of the Earth awakening. So a trip to the basement was in order to retrieve Spring. Frist item out was our basket of Resurrection Eggs. Mine are not just any store bought eggs but ones made around 18 years ago. I look forward to bringing these out each year. They have become a cherished memory for me, just as they have for our 8 grandchildren. Each year we share the story of Easter with the eggs.

When our first granddaughter Whitney, was about 3 years old I found the idea of Resurrection Eggs in a Parentlife magazine. This was the beginning of what proved to be a tradition with all of the grandchildren. This year I had the great joy of sharing the eggs with Ben our youngest grandson for the first time. Ben is four and he has enjoyed learning the story of the eggs and in correcting the older ones if they miss a point he feels is important.

Our eggs are homemade. If you want to make your own the instructions are as follows: You will need a dozen plastic eggs (any combination of colors). Children learn the story from you. I do not include the actual Bible verse for each but we talk about God's book the Bible. Keep the events simple that even the youngest can understand.

small cracker (last supper) feather (Peter's denial of Jesus)

three dimes (Judas)

crown of thorns (Jennifer actually made a small one)

nails(let them feel the sharp point)

dice(casting lots for garmet)

cross(made of pipe cleaner)

spear (plastic toothpick - broke off sword handle)

cinnamon sticks(burial spice)

white cloth (burial cloth)

stone(covered entry to tomb)

empty egg(when Mattie became older she decorated a special one)for He has Risen

I love making special memories with my grandchildren. I love being able to share the Story of Easter with them. Most of all I enjoy the Sweetness of hearing them retell the story.

Proverbs 22:6 "Train up a child in the way He should go and he will not depart from it."

Think about what memories you would like to create for your children or grandchildren. What a joy it is for me to be able to share the Bible with my grandchildren.

Adoption Fundraiser for the Blaschke Family

Jennifer and Joel Blaschke, part of our church family, are in the process of adopting from Ethiopia and need our help. They are hosting a fundraiser at Chick-fil-A on Rt 28 on April 16 from 7am to 4pm with lots of fun activities for the family. Here is the information from Jenn's Facebook page.

Come join us for a fun filled day and help us get closer to bringing our child(ren) home. We will be having a YARD SALE from 7am-4pm, CAR WASH from 11am-2pm, and a Spirit Event from 11am-2pm. We will have coupons you can present to the cashier with your food order and Chick-fil-a will give us 15%.
Chick-fil-a will be hosting The Silly Bus from 2pm-4pm and they will have an Easter egg hunt from 1-2. Bring the kids for an afternoon of food and fun!

Get the word out among the ladies of GLCC to help this lovely family bring home the children God has waiting for them.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Rose Colored Glasses

I'm a self-proclaimed neat freak. I love having a clean house -- the smell of the cleaner, the lines on the carpet from the vacuum... If you know me, you aren't surprised by any of this. Now, I don't clean every day - once a week while the kids are at school seems to work just fine. Occasionally, I even skip a week. GASP!!!

So, this morning while I was getting ready to start cleaning, something happened. I opened my refrigerator and it was like someone ripped the rose colored glasses right off of my face... My refrigerator was DISGUSTING!! OK, house cleaning has been officially derailed. Time to clean the fridge! And so there I was, cleaning the fridge for an hour and a half!!! Insane? Maybe, but it got me thinking. Somehow this neat freak had a refrigerator with several expired items (some by over 6 months!), juice spots all over the inside, rotten produce, even a moldy jar of jelly!! How did this happen to a neat freak like me??? Well, as a busy mother of 2 who is constantly running kids from sport to sport, social event to social event, I am just plain tired at the end of the day. Usually I do a quick "surface clean" at the end of the day to appease my inner neat freak. Somehow, I just hadn't gone deep enough with my cleaning over the past few months. As I thought about this in my disgust, I realized that there is more than my refrigerator that I've been neglecting... I have been "surface cleaning" many areas of my life, including God. Sure, I go to church every Sunday that I can and I read the inspirational bible quote that shows up in my in-box every morning, but when was the last time that I really made time for God? Time to let everything else melt away and just hear Him? Now, I know that I won't make a change overnight (those 2 kids with the jam-packed schedules aren't going anywhere), but at least I have taken off my rose colored glasses and see that it's time to make a change. Time to make more time for God.

How packed is your schedule? I want to challenge you to find an extra hour or two this week for God. Go to church for the first time in a while, meet up with a friend from church who inspires you, take your bible out of that drawer and read it... There are tons of things you can do. Will you make time for God too?

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Then Jesus said, “Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear" (Mark 4:9).

Hello Grace Life friends! How fun it is to peek into your deepest thoughts and lightbulb moments! As I read, it strikes me that God is forever attempting to communicate with us. And aren’t we are just like ants, hurriedly scampering about our oh-so-important business? But through the chaos, He reveals Himself and teaches us who are ready to receive. Do we lend Him a teachable and listening ear? Do we search out His hand in our lives?

In January, I attended a children’s ministry workshop (I teach 2nd grade Sunday school). It was a great time of fellowship, encouragement, and growth as we shared ideas and lessons learned in the classroom. During the breakout session, we addressed “object lessons”. To practice, Heidi O. gave each of us a grab bag of random items. (My bag contained an oven mitt, a rubbery stretch toy, a flashlight, notepad, and a cheerleader pom pom.) Our assignment was to come up with spiritual lessons based on these ordinary objects. The discussion started stiffly. Gradually though, as we sought to “hear” and “see”, creative ideas began to fly! It was so exciting! Who would have thought an oven mitt has something to teach about salvation? Or, a stretch toy shows us the need to de-compartmentalize our lives??

Ever since the workshop, I’ve been much more aware of God’s efforts to get my attention. His object lessons seem to show up everywhere! Everyday He gives me glimpses, realizations, and “ah ha”s moments, smack in the middle of the chaos. I guess you’ll be hearing about those in future postings! The grab bag’s getting full!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Cast Your Net Again

My thoughts....don't ask her, she's too busy. Don't consider her, she's got a lot on her plate. Don't burden her, she's already involved in another area. Don't bother her, she's probably not interested.

God's directions...Cast your nets again, even in the area YOU think is pointless, and let ME do the work. So, the nets are being cast and God is at work and I'm excited beyond belief!!

Stay tuned...

Luke Chapter 5:1-11

One day as Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret,a with the people crowding around him and listening to the word of God, he saw at the water’s edge two boats, left there by the fishermen, who were washing their nets. He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from shore. Then he sat down and taught the people from the boat.

When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let downb the nets for a catch.”

Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.”

When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink.

When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken, and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon’s partners.

Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will catch men.” So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.