Sarah waited very patiently, and her patience is finally rewarded!

A Kitten for Sarah

Last week Kathy and I attended the JBC Prayer Conference for the fourth time. We’ve written about the conference before:

I am sure there are many deep and spiritually-pertinent things I could say about that conference, but at this point, nobody cares.

Why, you ask?

Because we got a new kitten on Sunday.

New kitten Marco makes his debut on the blog.

For Christmas, Sarah received a gift certificate for her ‘big’ gift: one kitten to be her very own. This is a big deal to Sarah, since she is bossed and rebuked by many of her siblings whenever she tries to pick up our other cat, Misty.

As it turns out, Christmas is a difficult time to get a kitten. It seems that parents around the United States take leave of their senses around this season, and they all rush out and buy up all the available kittens. When the procrastinators show up, there aren’t any kittens left. So we had to go with a certificate.

Fortunately, Sarah is a very patient little girl, and she carefully bided her time, tactfully reminding us, without being obnoxious. Finally, our excuses ran out. Kathy contacted the Itty-Bitty-Kitty-Committee, and we were awarded a visitation appointment.

Sarah waited very patiently, and her patience is finally rewarded!

So now little Marco is part of our family. We hope to teach him to say ‘Polo’ when we call, or at least to Meow. Sarah is beside herself with glee, and our efforts to induce Misty to accept him move forward. As I type, she is crouched by the mud-room door (where we have set up protective custody for Marco), trying to see him under the door.

Truth be told, Kathy hinted that she wouldn’t cut my hair tonight unless I posted something on the blog, and so I took the easy path. I could’ve spent an hour or two crafting a thoughtful, useful blog post, or I could be done in 20 minutes with a few photos of the kitten.

Save time, score!
Get a more favorable response, score!
Get a free haircut, score!


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Goals, AWANA & Godly Plans

I LOVE fresh starts. My spirits lift when I think of new opportunities and new beginnings. I am definitely a Glass is Half Full kind of girl. Actually, I’m more like a Venti Americano ALL the WAY FULL kind of girl, but that’s another subject. As an optimist, I really and truly believe that THIS time I will meet my goals, THIS time I will change and grow, THIS time I will be different, conquer my weakness, blah, blah, blah.

This one keeps my heart full of joy and love!

I’m not sure why I continue to have such optimism when one of my other defining characteristics is a horrible inability to actually COMPLETE a project. Really, the only way I ever finish things is because they often come with concrete deadlines. Sigh.

Still, again this is where my optimistic nature immediately kicks in, I LOVE the New Year and the chance to reevaluate the previous year and cast some sort of vision for the upcoming year. In this and last weeks’ sermons, Pastor Jim has been teaching on the importance of establishing godly plans. [Best Time to Plant a Tree Pts 1 & 2] I so appreciate the emphasis on “godly” and “plans” rather than resolutions.

School and candy canes – perfect combination!

Tim and I have blogged on the subject of goals several times over the past few years. It has been a topic that encourages and challenges us in our growth as believers, parents, spouses, and servants in our local church body.

Last week Tim presented the idea of goal planning to our T&T kids at AWANA. These 3rd through 5th graders are such an exciting group to work with. They have energy, enthusiasm, and, unlike the younger ages, are capable of handling some complex and difficult concepts.

Brendan and Zach are ready for some serious goal planning!

Tim shared with them a video from the Skit Guys and selected six student to come up front and read a passage from I Corinthians 3. We try hard to keep the kids engaged and interested in the Word of God – and nothing like a little competition (“Pick me, Mr. Tim! Pick me!”) to focus their attention. :)

By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as an expert builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should be careful how he builds. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames. I Corin 3:10-15

Finally Tim passed out some goal planning sheets for the kids. Here’s a link to the Word file. I respect Tim immensely for encouraging the children to think about the upcoming year and make some decisions about how they want to spend their time and energy.

Mr. Tim offers a special prize for the kids who return their goal sheets!

Love that the night hasn’t even ended and Bethlehem already has her form filled out!

It has been a tremendous blessing to serve in AWANA as a family over the past few years. Tim is the T&T Director. I help him in T&T’s (administrative duties and the like). Daniel works in the games department (as Joshua did before he went off to college). Rachel is a Sparks leader (probably one of the best in the whole program). Sarah is a current T & T’er and David helps in Sparks when he isn’t attending middle school.

Another awesome T&T’er.

I hope to do some work on my only godly plans for 2013 as well in the next two weeks. I’m sure this will be the year …


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Serve Team

Some time ago Nancy/Niki, the amazing duo who run our Christian Education department at church, came up with a brilliant idea for developing leaders among the older elementary kids. They wanted to create an environment where young children could serve in ministry and leadership positions. Brilliant! Why wait for high school or college age to ask kids to start leading and serving?

Niki invited all interested children in grades 3rd through 5th (with some 6th grade stragglers); she formed a core team of willing kids and created the LC3 Serve Team. Now this team meets monthly for dinner and planning sessions. They practice, train and play. Each month the children come to the meetings armed with their calendar of availability (LOVE IT!) and sign up for ministry responsibilities.

Duties/Opportunities of Service Include:
1) Helping in the nursery
2) Working with the 2 and 3 year olds
3) Serving in the 4 year olds class
4) Leading worship in Promiseland (k thru 5th grade)
5) Acting in skits and dramas

What a gift for the children serving, the little ones being served and the church as a whole! These kids on the “Serve Team” are learning how to minister at church. They are learning the joy of giving of themselves. They are seeing how they can be a part of the body of believers and use their gifts, no matter what their age.

It is thrilling to think we are raising a new generation of children who are excited to be at church, who are taking responsibility for significant ministries at church, and who desire to be a blessing and a servant.

Let’s get that mixer and start making cookies!

During a brainstorming session, the serve team kids came up with several projects they wanted to do. One of them was to make meals for people in need. This week Niki and Nancy (seriously, did I already note how amazing and humble and full of grace, energy and true selflessness these women are!!) put together an entire meal making event. The families were divided into groups, assigned a station, and handed out their recipes and instructions. One team made up pieces of garlic bread. Another set out salad fixings. Still another group prepared the ingredients for lasagna rolls, and of course, it wouldn’t be a complete meal without a dessert (snickerdoodles).

Hurry, we need that Kitchen Aid inside, asap!

Each group prepared their part of the meal and then went to all of the stations to assemble the individual portions. There was even a table of blank notes and a bin of markers so we could write little notes. Next to that table was a collection of names of people who might enjoy a meal (everyone from singles, Prime Timers, and families with a deployed parent). On the slips of paper was the phone number and address so we could easily deliver our meal.

In between our cooking and assembling we had time to write a few notes.

Daniel spent nearly all of the time washing dishes. What a servant!

They think of everything! We had a blast making cookie dough and then going around the room and gathering our meal fixings. I didn’t get a picture of Niki (probably because she was running around answering all of our questions) and I wish I had taken a picture of our final dinner – so compact and ready for delivery. We dropped one meal off on our way home and left the other in the church fridge (all labeled and ready to be picked up on Sunday).

Would you trust these two in your kitchen? (Nice gloves, Debi and Nancy)

Serve Team Rocks!

Thank you Niki and Nancy for all your hard work.


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Thank You Notes

We are AWFUL about thank you notes. It’s a source of continual frustration and shame. I have no excuse – my parents were faithful and consistent about teaching and modeling a practice of writing thank you notes. In fact, one of our favorite things to get in the mail was my dad’s thank you notes, scratched in his (barely) legible handwriting. We would take turns reading aloud, the first time quickly with much laughter, and the second for actual comprehension. We keep one pinned to the bulletin board – makes us both smile and tear up in remembrance.

One of our last letters from Grandad

Often our problem isn’t writing the notes, it’s MAILING THEM!! Ugh. Once I found a sweet note Joshua had written to my uncle TWO YEARS after he had received the gift. Seriously? Hanging head in shame.

So two nights ago when I was making Tim’s lunch, I had the brilliant idea of gathering the kids together for a Daddy Thank You Note writing session. I hoped a few cheerful cards in his lunch bag would help ease the transition off vacation and back to “real life.”

“What did I get for Christmas? It’s been so long.”
“Um, it’s been a week and a half.”
“I know, but I still can’t remember.”

We use a company called Send Out Cards for our Christmas letters and other photo cards. For several years we’ve had a subscription, but we never really used it to its full potential. We have birthdays loaded into the database as well as addresses and contact information. I hate to even admit how easy Sendoutcards makes it to upload your own photos and connect with friends and family.

Thank you notes to Pa!

But this is January, a new year. Fresh starts and all that. Surely we can do better! I think Mamie mailed out at least a dozen thank you notes while she was staying with us – it does NOT have to be difficult or time-consuming, fancy or long-winded. A simple note. A stamp and we’re done. David has already gotten online, uploaded a picture and sent off a cute thank you note. Only one, but still it’s a start!

These kids look VERY grateful!

I’d like to be done with all of our Christmas thank you notes by the end of this month. We won’t talk about the ones from the birthdays over this past year. Sigh. I guess this is a good time to mention how very grateful I am for all the gifts and hospitality our family has enjoyed over the years.

If you don’t get a personal card, consider yourself thanked here on the blog. ;)


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Christmas with Mamie

It is such an incredible blessing to spend time with my mom. She is beautiful, godly and a true servant. The joy, however, is always tinged with the sadness of missing my dad. This is the second Christmas without him and time has not diminished the ache of our loss. If anything, I think I miss him even more as the realization that he really and truly isn’t coming back hits me. The family picture is NOT complete without Grandad.

Such a blessing to have everyone gathered together for Christmas – we miss Grandad!

There are more things I wanted to discuss with him. There are projects around the house I had hoped he would do with Daniel and David. I wanted him to see how well Joshua is doing at college and marvel over Rachel’s new car and shake his head at how much we love our cat. I wanted to watch him hug the kids and listen to them talk about their friends and school and the books they are reading. I wanted to see him hold Mom’s hand and sing enthusiastically (off key of course) to the Christmas carols at church and watch Christmas movies with us.

We love Mamie!

It is a sweet comfort to know we will see each other again. I hold tightly to the truth that death does not part forever those who love Jesus and follow Him. And I am thankful beyond measure that I had such a godly, wise, loving earthly father and that my children had close, tender relationships with their grandfather.

Mamie and her oldest grandson.

In the meantime, as we wait for heaven or Christ’s return, I am holding tight to the gift of this time with Mamie. What an honor that she comes and spends weeks with us. It is worth the effort of shuffling kids around and sharing the space. She brings such a light and joy to our family times. Even her tears are a reminder of God’s love and His design for marriage – she grieves deeply because she loved wholeheartedly. I hope that I will be as closely bound to Tim in our marriage.

A restful moment at The Refuge!

The children love her (even if she says Grandad was the “fun one”). She is always ready for a game or an outing or a story. She is faithful and steady and gifted us with her service (she must have washed dozens of loads of laundry while she was here) and finances (paying for groceries and dinners out).

Laughter and joy – a silly moment.

Our last official outing – pedicures for the girls!

We love you, Mamie! Thank you for traveling to Washington to be with us. Thank you for loving my children and my friends. Thank you for pedicures and dinners and laundry and groceries. Thank you for tissues and cold medicine and wise council. Thank you for Christmas presents and little treats and clean dishes and helping me prepare many, many salads. It was NOT long enough! Please come back soon!!


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