Make Sure You Have All the Ingredients

No one can ever label me as “Betty Crocker.”  Most dishes I prepare are very simple and no fuss.  Even my mom, who was an excellent cook, decided my culinary skills were lacking.  We won’t even discuss my artistic ability, my mind for math, or my successful sewing feats.  Nope, just not going there.

Well, I decided the other day to make homemade chocolate chip pumpkin bread.  Yes ladies, I know it is August and pumpkin season has not arrived.  However, when your six-year-old grandson pleads, “Vivi, will you make your chocolate chip pumpkin bread for me,” you step up to the plate.

I purchased my ingredients only to get home from the store to discover my eggs were still at the store.  I rushed back to town, gathered the eggs, and raced home.  By now, I am frazzled.

I doubled check to make sure the ingredients were on the counter and proceeded to mix the sweet-smelling bread.  As I am pouring the mixture in the pans, I noticed the mixture was a little off. I was not worried.  It had been a year since I made pumpkin bread.  As I went to open the oven, I spied my can of pumpkin . . .UNOPENED on the counter.  I dumped the loaf pan contents back into the mixing bowl and ADDED the pumpkin.  Ah, there was the perfectly smooth mixture I remembered.  The pumpkin bread batter poured evenly into the prepared baking pans and a sweet pumpkin spice smell filled my home.

Ladies, have you ever done “all the right things” for the Lord but left out the most important ingredient-THE LORD?  Did your “right thing” turn out to be God’s plan?  Did the “right thing” go smoothly without the Lord?

If you are like me, I often focus on my “right thing” and check off the box.  I tend to go in head- strong on a project that I believe is the “right thing” without consulting with the Lord.   The result is a sticky mess that I must correct.  However, once I put the Lord into the mix, things run smoothly.  I know that I need to have all the right ingredients for my day to run well or my project to go smoothly.  With the right ingredient-the Lord-our life will be a sweet-smelling aroma to the Lord.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Purging

In our home during the New Year weekend, we began an all in clean out.  Clutter was in the garage, the attic, and in our closets.  My pastor husband toted items to the trash bins and to Goodwill.  It felt good to purge out our clutter and start with a clean garage, attic and closets.

I wonder as ministers’ wives if we should do some purging in our lives.  Think about it:

*Does bitterness hide in the corners of your heart?

*Has a hurt taken root and become a tree that helps your distance yourself from the person who caused your pain?

*Has Satan whispered lies regarding your personal appearance or performance causeing you to be inward focused?

* Have you forgotten your first love-Jesus?

If we are all honest, we have one of these issues or a similar problem cluttering our lives and spoiling our relationship with Jesus. 

I know in my own personal experience that clutter around our house causes tension and chaos.  We can never find an item and that brings on frustration.  However, when we clear out the clutter, life is much easier and peaceful. 

The same holds true with our spiritual lives. When our spiritual lives are lacking, we need to take time to examine what is going on.  If our lives are loaded down with life’s lies and messes, we cannot have freedom in Christ.  We cannot truly focus on our Heavenly Father.

I challenge each of us to examine our hearts in this new year and see what is cluttering our relationship with Christ.  Once we discover it, PURGE it!

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A Simple Christmas

As a minister’s wife, my life is jammed packed from September through December.  I rarely stopped to think about Thanksgiving or Christmas until a couple of weeks before the big days.  This year has been no different.  However, I have decided that Christmas will be a little simpler this year.

Oh, we will stay with our family tradition meal started by my parents-a Mexican Fiesta.  However, gift giving is going to be smaller and I hope a little less stressful.  The following are some ideas that I have come up with and some ideas are borrowed from various people.  Hopefully, an idea or two will help you keep your sanity during this Christmas season.

*For a child-Fill a small box with new PJ’s, a book, and a snack.  Allow this gift to be opened on Christmas Eve.  You can also do a simple variation of this gift for an adult.  Just have fun with it.

*Have your children make gifts for their grandparents.  (Grandparents have everything they need).  As a grandmother aka Vivi, I look forward to getting handmade presents from my grandsons.  I especially love receiving ornaments with their hand prints/footprints on them. These gifts are precious treasures to me and remind me to keep making memories with my babies because they are growing up too fast.

*Stuffing a stocking can often break the bank.  Stay on budget by shopping the local dollar store.  I love Dollar Tree.  This store has great ideas for all ages.  For instance, create a stocking filled with snacks for your college age child.

*To provide some laughter on Christmas Day, play a game.  Purchase various $5 gift cards (Starbucks, Sonic, McDonald’s etc) and give as prizes.  My family loves this idea.  (By the way, if you shop at Krogers, download the 4x the fuel points digit coupon NOW, and on each gift card purchased at Krogers, you will receive 4x the fuel points).

*Instead of busting your budget on high ticket items or buying tons of gifts for your family, try purchasing only three gifts-a need, a read, a wish.  (Remember the Christ Child received three gifts at his birth).

*Weather permitting bundle up on Christmas Eve and walk outside to look at the sky.  Read the Christmas story outdoors.  Be amazed that God sent his only Son from  Heaven’s high throne to be born of a humble birth in order to save us from our sins.

*Because our family is scattered in different directions, we have decided not to exchange gifts.  We would much rather eat well, laugh a lot, and spend quality time together.  (We still purchase small gifts or give money to our sons, their wives and our grandchildren).

*Grandparents, instead of a big expensive gift for your grandchild, put money toward their future college education.

As I said these are just a few ideas I have to simplify my Christmas.  I would love to hear some tips that you may have.

Have a blessed and wonderful Christmas season!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Dreams

Have you ever thought about the path God has chosen for your life? Does it match up with your childhood dream?

All my life I have loved to read books and write little stories.  As a grade school child, I imagined myself writing fun books for children.  It so happened that my cousin was a very talented artist (she even became a successful commercial artist and then at the age of forty decided to pursue a medical degree).  When my cousin and I saw each other at holidays, we would “create” cards for our family.  She would design the card and I would write the verse.

Then as a teen I attended a Career Day at my high school.  I decided to be adventurous and explore a career as an airline hostess.  I mean I grew up with an amateur pilot dad who built experimental aircraft.  He would also take our family flying occasionally.  Becoming an airline hostess met my love of flying and traveling in one package.  Sadly, that door closed quickly because back in the late 70’s, a hostess had to stand between 5’4″-5’10.”  If I stretched really hard, I stand 5’3″.

Still God opened another door.  I married my high school sweetheart who had surrender to the ministry, and I became a pastor’s wife.  No, I don’t write children’s books. Thanks to Shutterfly,  I do create fun stories for my grandbabies. Also, I am humbled to share my life lessons of ministry through two blogs, and I occasionally write for a couple of publications.  No, I don’t fly to exotic places.  However, I have traveled around the country and the world sharing Jesus.

No, I will never be an airline hostess even though the regulations have changed.  Yes, I still dream of publishing a “real” children’s book.  However, I would never change the path God has chosen for my life because it is pretty awesome.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Brazil Bound

It seems like forever since I posted on our blog site.  The last several months have been a whirlwind of activity including babysitting my grandsons, the sudden death of my mother-in-law, and helping to sort through items at my in-law’s home.  Top that with all the church activities and I lost track of posting a blog.

So today I apologize for my absence and ask that you forgive a sister who is struggling to keep pace with life in general.  As I pondered what to write about I decided to share some prayer needs for our church’s upcoming mission trip to Brazil.

On Sunday a team of nine will travel to Sao Paulo, Brazil for a twelve day mission trip.  After we check into the hotel, we will literally hit the ground working.  For the next eight days we will have very little to no down time.  Every day we will be working with our host church to do door to door evangelism, prayer walking, Vacation Bible School, Sports Workshops, evening bibles studies and also have a three night revival service.  In addition to these activities, we have the opportunity to go into public schools (yes, public schools in Brazil welcome people coming to share the gospel).  We will spend three morning in different schools in the area talking with students and teachers.  As you can tell there are plenty of opportunities for the gospel to be shared.

On the ninth day of our trip, we will fly to Rio and team up with a missionary who is preparing for the Olympic Games.  The plan is for us to do more prayer walking, street evangelism and some ministry on the beach.  I think it is exciting to know that hundreds of people from around the world will come to Rio.  Many of these individuals will hear the gospel for the first time due to the many volunteers and missionaries who will be in place during the games.  Please pray for the Christian volunteers and missionaries as they seek to share Jesus with the world.  Pray for the people to have open hearts to receive Jesus.

My last request for prayer is for our team’s welfare.  Pray for safe travel (air and land).  Pray a hedge of protection over us regarding our health.  (As you know South America and other regions including Arkansas have the Zika Virus.  This virus has been in these areas for years but due to the Olympic Games, it has become world knowledge).  We know God has called us to do His work and that He will provide the protection we need.  Also pray for our strength.  Because this trip is long and every day is full from the time we wake till late night, we will be tired.  By the seventh or eighth day of little sleep, working on emotions, stress due to adjusting to a new culture, our bodies will be exhausted.  We need a good dose of Jesus strength to keep us focused.

I truly appreciate your prayers for our team.  I love each of you and hope to post again soon after I return to the states.

God bless you!

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“Really?”

Have you ever had one of those moments at church or with a church member when something done or said is just so ridiculous that your response (maybe to yourself) is a sarcastic “really?”  I try very hard to keep my tongue in control but sometimes my brain runs wild.  However, it was really hard to keep both my tongue and brain reined in one Sunday not too long ago.

We have really morning Praise Team practice so I was at the church early and midway through rehearsal.  A few people trickled into the sanctuary, and I naively thought they were coming to get a sneak peak at the music for worship.  Hardly!

I noticed one lady walked to “her” pew on the back center row and placed what looked like green cards on the seats.  Hmm, I thought.  Then I realized what she was doing.  She was “reserving” her spot on “her” pew.  “Really?”

A few minutes later an older gentleman came in to the sanctuary and placed his Bible on “his” pew.  Now, I am confused.  The man was obviously going to Sunday School so don’t you think he would need his Bible?  “Really?”

The fact that these individuals “reserved” their spot for service was not the big issue.  The main thing for me was that these people sit every Sunday in the same spot and only interact with those immediately around them.  I have never seen them welcome a guest or offer their seat to a visitor.  “Really?”

If we are the body of Christ, shouldn’t we be willing to give up “our” seat or offer a friendly “hello” to guest who visit the church?  Because our service begins a little earlier than normal, I have seen people come in late for service, look for a spot at the back of the church and leave because no one will offer a seat to them.  Also, I have seen guest arrive late and they must walk to the front of the church to find a seat.  “Really?”  Where do you think the eyes of members are when visitors must walk to the front during worship?  It is certainly not on the God.

Last, our church is short on parking these days.  Our members have been asked to park away from the church so guest can have easy access to the buildings.  However, the same people park in the same spot Sunday after Sunday (and sometimes in the Visitor Parking).  “Really?”  Shouldn’t we as a body of Christ be more welcoming?

You may think I am venting and perhaps I am.  However, I do believe that we as ministers’ wives are not immune from doing the same thing.  I would imagine there are some of us who sit in the same spot every Sunday or park in the same area.  “Really?”  I am challenging myself and all of you to be a better example to our members.  Offer your seat to a visitor.  Take a moment to welcome them and find out how your church can assist them.

Let’s be the church to the lost world!

I am just wondering if any of you may have a similar situation at church that you find ridiculous.  Please share!

 

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Time in the Word

My life these days consist of trying to juggle daily babysitting schedules for my two grandsons.  In between the playtime, cuddles, feedings, diaper changes and potty time, I have to figure out how to manage me.  The washer and dryer run constantly since a three year old and an eight month old get dirty constantly. Of course, cooking the evening meal is like an Olympic game with a three year old running circles around my kitchen island and trying to entertain the baby.  Let’s say just this Vivi gets tired and there are many early mornings when I would much rather sleep in than have my quiet time with the Lord.

However, today was a little different.  I do not have three year old Gideon so things are a little quieter in the house.  I do have 8 month old Jude.  Instead of settling down in my comfy corner chair in my bedroom for my quiet time, I decided to sit in the floor next to Jude.  I read aloud the scripture and devotional guide all while he laughed and played with his toys.

However, I noticed one thing.  While I was holding the Bible, Jude kept reaching for it.  Finally, I placed my Bible on the floor in front of him.  He grabbed the Word, pulled it to his chest and hugged it.  Now that is a picture!  Wow, shouldn’t we be anxious to pull the Word into our hearts and hang on tight to the promises of God?

Yes, our lives are busy and consumed with a whole host of “To Do” items on our list.  However, from the simple actions of my precious Jude, who watches everything I do, I will make time to be in God’s Word daily.  When I have my grandchildren with me, we will not just talk about the Bible and sing Veggie Tales “Silly Songs with Larry,” we will actually read a verse from the Bible and hug it tight in our hearts.

 

 

 

 

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