Saturday, January 3, 2015

Resolved

It’s that time of year.  Everyone is making resolutions to make their life healthier, less-stressed, happier, etc… I’ve made resolutions in the past and could have a laundry-list of things I need to do better in 2015 such as:

- prepare healthier meals
- be more consistent in my quiet time and prayer life
- learn more patience
- keep the house cleaner and de-cluttered
- be more consistent with my exercise routine
- make friends
- establish a daily schedule to increase productivity at home
- worry less
- procrastinate less
- be bolder in sharing the gospel

Truly, the list could go on and on.  I have much to improve upon. So this year I’m keeping it simple - I am choosing joy.

2014 has been a long, somewhat trying year.  First there was the frozen tundra that became the Midwest. So much cold. So much snow and ice. So little sun. In January I was diagnosed with Chronic Kidney Disease. My already somewhat fragile kidneys (thank you spinal birth defect) have been damaged due to too many UTIs. And though I’m following doctor’s orders, my numbers aren’t stable (up one month, down the next) and that’s frustrating me. Don’t worry I’m not actively dying just not where I want to be.  Almost two years into life in northeast MO I know a ton of people but I have no truly close girlfriends - no one I talk to or see on a regular basis.  No one I hang out with or do stuff with.  I’m finding that that’s causing much heartache for my extraverted self.  I was in the hospital for ovarian cyst torsion for several days.  While I’m OK and thankfully cancer-free, it was yet another reminder of my broken body and just how fleeting health is. Ministry-wise, we’ve not seen the visible fruit we’d like to see.  That’s really, really bothered James, which inturn bothers me.  Hudson’s super independent two year old spirit brings its own challenges.  I have focused on negatives a lot this year and it’s caused much solemnness.  That’s not the testimony I want to have.

So I am choosing joy.

I have a Savior who loves me, died for me, and lives again interceding on my behalf.  That’s cause for joy.

I have a husband who loves me.  Seven years this May.  That’s cause for joy.

I have a son.  A strong, independent, spirited son who is growing up so fast it makes my head hurt.  Today he told me that it’s currently winter and will be spring next. Where did he learn this? That’s cause for joy.

I have a sweet church, a group of believers striving to love the Lord more each day.  That’s cause for joy.

I have friends back home who listen to me babble for hours (literally) on the phone as an outlet for my loneliness.  That’s cause for joy.

Making traditional resolutions would help me in my endeavor to live more joyfully, but they aren’t the end in themselves - just the means so I’m not going to focus obsessively on them.  Rather, I am being intentional in looking for the joy in life.  I have much about which to be joyful.

Do not be grieved - the joy of the Lord is your strength.
- Nehemiah 8:10b

Let the righteous one rejoice in the Lord and take refuge in Him! Let all the upright in heart exult.
- Psalm 64:10

A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.
- Proverbs 17:22

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

- Romans 15:13



Thursday, December 18, 2014

Our Advent Calendar

Per my perusal of pinterest, advent calendar are all the rage.

Now, I grew up with advent calendars.  Mine were like this:


Yummy, somewhat chalky, choclate for every day in December leading up to Christmas!  Yay!


Because I'm a first-time Mama and feel pressure to make the most of the holidays (both in a good point Hudson to Jesus way and in a not-so-good I need to do this to be a good mama way) I make my own advent calendar.

Last year, it looked like this:


Each day had either a treat or an activity to do such as read a Christmas book, watch a Christmas movie, etc... It was great fun.

This year I made it a little more complicated because Hudson is older and I am a glutton for punishment.



First, I made a tree out of green butcher paper.  Then I wrapped 24 presents because Hudson's really into opening presents.  They were things like candy/treats and activities, sometimes just a paper with what we are doing inside a box.  I reused last year's envelopes to help label each one but this year, I added a printed ornament inside the envelope that corresponded to a story in the Jesus Storybook Bible.  We'd read the story, tape the ornament to the tree, then open and enjoy the present.  It was somewhat tedious to set up, but really didn't cost much money as I mostly used what I had on hand from Christmas past.

I found the ornaments here and can I say I am so thankful for the internet and all the amazing things people do and share there.

All in all it was fun and fairly easy.  Here's what we did/are doing:

December 1- Open Fisher Price Nativity Set from his first Christmas
December 2 - Watch Veggie Tales Christmas movie he got last year in his Christmas Eve box
December 3 - Decorate Gingerbread Train
December 4 - Enjoy a Chocolate Orange
December 5 - DIY Fingerpaint Christmas Tree
December 6 - Make and Decorarte Sugar Cookies
December 7 - Watch Bob the Builder's White Christmas movie
December 8 - Open this year's Special Ornament
December 9 - DIY Snowman Ornament, purchased on clearance at Hobby Lobby
December 10 - Watch Dr. Seuss' The Grinch movie
December 11 - Enjoy Candy Canes
December 12 - DIY Candy Cane ornament (pony beads on pipe cleaner)
December 13 - Enjoy Hot Chocolate
December 14 - Open (and wear) new Christmas sweater, bought on consignment
December 15 - Go see Christmas Lights at Avenue of Lights
December 16 - DIY Nutcracker Ornament, purchased on clearance at Hobby Lobby
December 17 - Watch Mr. Magoo's A Christmas Carol movie
December 18 - Enjoy Chocolate Marshmallow Santas
December 19 - DIY Christmas Cat ornament, leftover from teaching days
December 20 - Make Christmas cupcakes
December 21 - Watch Charlie Brown's Christmas, that I got for free from the library's discard pile - score!
December 22 - Listen to Christmas CDs
December 23 - DIY Foam, Oriental Trading Natvity Scene, leftover from teaching days
December 24 - Christmas Eve box with new PJs for all and a new Veggie Tales Christmas movie

We also read a Christmas book a day, because when your mama is a former elementary teacher, you have a lot of books.  It was really sweet this year as he is retaining more about the Christmas story from the books.

18 days in, here are some pictures of what we've done so far.



















This advent calendar thing is a lot of prep work so we aren't preschooling for this month.  It is tiring to do each thing each day, however, it's been such a blessing to see his little face light up with whatever we're doing.  He's so excited, even over silly (cheap) DIY ornament things.  I hope he keeps that sense of wonder forever.  

But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.
- Luke 2:19

Friday, December 5, 2014

Ministry Update Fall 2014

James and I are our association's Evangelism & Discipleship Team Leaders, so in September we organized a "Curriculum Preview".  Ken from LifeWay in Springfield came up, brought samples of curriculum, explained the differences, and answered various questions.  We had about 30 in attendance, which was super!  






PKs learn early how to entertain themselves at various boring church events.
Three of our ever-faithful youth accompanied me to Kahoka's Old Settler's Day at the end of September.  The weather was perfect, unlike last year - so thankful.  We added face-painting into our repetoire this year and it was a hit, even though we're really not that good at it.  Kids are gracious.



On their own, A & K decided to walk around handing out balloons to kids to draw people to our tent to hear salvation testimonies and Bible story (with face painting).  So proud of their initiative.









New playground at the Kahoka park was a big hit!



In October, we took our church family to the Pumpkin Crate, which was loads of fun even though it was ungodly cold.

We also went to a sister church's bonfire, hayride, and dinner.




Making apple cider

Serious sun flare


Bro. Jesse, the cowboy

H painting a pumpkin....and a watermelon




James officiated his second wedding in October.  Congratulations to Katie & Matt!




 Each month, our association has a Hymn Sing where we gather at a church and sing for about an hour with snacks afterward.  We hosted the October Hymn Sing.





Halloween party at the community park!
Hudson loves Rusty!


He'd had enough of the turtle costume


His stance upon finding some kids' gun that went with their costume.
I have no idea where he learned this
Our church hosted the fall quarter's Girlfriends' Cafe. It's where women from our area get together, eat (we are Baptists y'all) and have a Bible story.  I sadly got no pictures.  But we had fun and 28 ladies were present - awesome!

Myself and two of our girls went to the Girls in Action retreat.

Also in November, James and I, along with pastor-friend Bro. Ted went to HLGU's Booster Banquet.  We ate a tasty gourmet meal and listened to the Duggars.  




Like last year, we hosted the International Students from HLGU for a Thanksgiving Meal then listened as they presented their final project for the American Culture class - a presentation on their home country.  Our area is very homogeneous culturally (mostly white) so I always get excited to see some people of different races/ethnicities.  That probably makes me weird, but oh well.  













James has become a volunteer for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.  Part of that means promoting the different movies that the BGEA has recently produced.  We've shown two of them at our churches on fifth Sunday evenings.  He


It's been a busy fall and we're on tap for a busy winter as well.

Thank you for all your prayer support this past year and a half that we've been in northeast Missouri.  We have definitely felt it and needed it, still do.  Please join us in prayer....

Praises:

  • Mild weather (so far).  Though it's bitterly cold, so far we've had only a sciff or two of snow.  
  • Our church has worked really hard to try to get their neighbors, friends, and family to consider the gospel of Christ.
  • James and I have visited every person living in Williamstown.  It has taken forever due to people's work schedules and well, suspicion of random people showing up at their door - ha!  
Prayer Requests
  • Discouragement.  Despite all our members (and our) efforts to share the gospel with people in our community.  We've had no one come to faith this year (yet) and have seen little interest.  It's super discouraging.  Though we all know that we're being obedient it'd be nice to see some fruit from our efforts.  To use an agricultural analogy, the ground is really hard here.  Pray for encouragement and continued trust in God's plan.
  • Church member Patsy - she is now home from the nursing home after having fallen, almost died, spent weeks in the hospital and nursing home.  
  • Wisdom in setting the church budget for next year.  
  • Our association - in October our DOM (Director of Missions) retired.  So we're in the search for a new one, or other options (like joining with another association since we're so small).  Our associational Moderator and Camp Director also resigned so we're in the search to fill those vacanies as well.  I'm part of the association's nominating committee so pray for wisdom for me in looking for people God may have planned to do this service.

Until next quarter....