A New Season…

Well, it’s wintertime.  A colder winter than we’ve had in quite a while, actually.  Our season has changed.  Christa has graduated from college and is working.  Tyler & Rebekah are married and settled into a new home and new jobs.  Tony is looking for new employment.

The landscape here may not be as exciting and vibrant as other seasons.


But we also know that in this season, though things may appear to be dormant, the land is resting.  The cold helps control the pest population.  Here are some other benefits of cold weather, if you’re looking for some (Ten Advantages).

We discovered some mistletoe growing in the tree in our back yard.  At first I didn’t realize what was growing in there, but after some observation and googling, it was confirmed.  It was around Christmastime when I noticed it, so I brought some in for decorations.  I knew that mistletoe is a parasite, but after more research, I learned some interesting information.  (12 Things to Know about Mistletoe)

  • When a mistletoe seed lands on a suitable host, it sends out roots that penetrate the tree and draw on its nutrients and water.
  • Trees infested with mistletoe die early because of the parasitic growth.
  • Ancient Anglo-Saxons noticed that mistletoe often grows where birds leave droppings, which is how mistletoe got its name: In Anglo-Saxon, “mistel” means “dung” and “tan” means “twig,” hence, “dung-on-a-twig.”


So while these trees are “at rest”, this parasite attaches and sucks out the nutrition, and can even kill the tree.

Do you still want to kiss under the “dung-on-a-twig”?  Funny, the things we romanticize.

This is a great picture of how if we’re resting and coasting and not paying attention, we can allow something to leech onto our spirit, suck out our nutrition, stunt our growth and even possibly destroy us.

So I promptly went out yesterday and removed the mistletoe from our tree.


You know, God didn’t have to create our world to experience environmental seasons, but I’m so glad He did.  It really is encouraging to know that things change.  Wherever you are in your life, it will change.  All the good, all the bad.  There are benefits to each season.  There are challenges to each season.  Enjoy the benefits and embrace the challenges!  And know that the next season will have both benefits and challenges as well.

I was encouraged by this verse in my reading this week:

What delight comes to those who follow God’s ways!   They will be standing firm like a flourishing tree planted by God’s design, deeply rooted by the brooks of bliss,

bearing fruit in every season of their lives.

They are never dry, never fainting, ever blessed, ever prosperous.  Psalm 1:1-3 (Passion Translation)


Ok, God!  What’s next?? I am ready!


Book Review – Table Mentoring

I received a copy of this book for review purposes.  Being familiar with the concept of mentoring, this book has re-energized my desire to enter a new phase of building these types of relationships.  Sue explains the idea, and the process of mentoring which she describes as “coming alongside”.  She gives guidelines for choosing a mentor/mentee, which are concise and directed.  Included in the book are personal growth plans, and worksheets to guide your time together.  I recommend this book to those who have a desire to begin such a relationship, and to those who may only have a cursory interest.  It will definitely urge you on!



30 Day Challenge – Day 30! Recap..


So I have come to Day 30 of my 30 Day challenge.  Here is a re-cap of my goals, and my efforts.

  1.  Write a blog post every day.  Done.  I have been able to make it through 30 days of writing, although to be fair, one day I wrote 2 blogs to make up for missing the day before.  I feel like I have learned a lot and stretched myself in this area.
  2. Re-boot my healthy eating plan in order to a) be more healthy, and b) look better before Tyler’s wedding in September.  I followed a known “diet” plan fairly closely and was able to lose 7 pounds.  Wish it were more, but I feel like I have created some healthier habits.
  3. Be more regular with my Bible reading.  Pretty sure that I didn’t miss a day on this one.  I made it a rule to read before getting on face book or reading email.  And I really learned some good stuff!  I am really enjoying reading the Bible chronologically.
  4. Exercise daily.  With the help of our stationery bike, I was able to exercise about 28 out of 30 days.  Some days working outside counted as my daily exercise.
  5. Read two books.  Overachiever on this one!  Although I admit some of these weren’t thick books!  Here is what I read:
    1. Table Mentoring, by Sue Moore Donaldson (I’ll be writing a review on this)
    2. O.Henry’s Short Stories, by O. Henry
    3. Helen Keller:  The Story of My Life, by Helen Keller
    4. Just like Jesus, by Max Lucado
    5. In His Steps, by Charles Sheldon (almost finished with this one)
  6. Pray more fervently about some personal issues and also, circumstances that involve others.  I have received some answers regarding certain situations in my life. Christa has found additional employment and Tyler has found a rental home that he and Rebekah will live in ( and has moved in!).  Some interesting developments have occurred in our lives that have spurred us onto additional prayer and direction.  I am also fairly confident that I should start my doctoral studies, but not until after the new year.

I am really glad I put myself through this challenge.  It has helped me to stay focused and calm and on track, as God shows Himself to me particularly for direction and guidance. The next few weeks prove to be an exciting time for our family as we celebrate Tyler and Rebekah getting married and we all settle into a new stage of life.

Are you up for a challenge?


30 Day Challenge – Day 29

Question of the Day:  So I couldn’t decide whether I wanted to write about “Thoughts on Education” or “Labor” (since it’s Labor Day).  So I’m going to combine the two.

labor image

I remember my dad telling me that I could be anything that I wanted to be.  I have always taken that to heart when making decisions and facing challenges in my life.  One thing I have learned, however, is that it takes more than “wanting” to be something to make it happen.  It takes knowledge, and it takes labor.

Knowledgethe fact or condition of knowing something with familiarity gained through experience or association

Labor – expenditure of physical or mental effort especially when difficult or compulsory

My parents encouraged my siblings and I to attend college, so I did.  I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Biology from Asbury University (1980).  Because we desired to be more effective in our ministry, Tony and I worked on our Master’s Degrees at the same time and we both have a Master’s in Christian Counseling (2008).  Tony is currently working on his doctorate in Biblical Leadership.  I am planning to start working on my doctorate sometime in the next few months.  I am not necessarily desiring a career in this field, but I do want to learn more about certain areas of Biblical Interdisciplinary Studies.  I believe we should always be learning, always gaining more knowledge.  I would also like to learn another instrument, perhaps the saxophone?  And read more about American history.  Maybe learn to paint.

I am so proud of both of our kids finishing their bachelor’s degrees; Tyler’s in Music Business, and Christa’s in University Studies in Leadership.  They are both considering further education.

With that being said, I don’t t believe you need to attend college, or “higher education” in order to be learning and growing.  A person can be learned and gifted in areas that may not require higher education, possibly trade school, or maybe they are just talented!  Our talents though, must also require further knowledge, and “labor” to perfect and increase skill.  It is interesting that when God is instructing Moses about how to build the tabernacle, he chooses men who are “wise” in their skills.

Then Moses said to the Israelites, “See, the LORD has chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and he has filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, to cut and set stones, to work in wood and to engage in all kinds of artistic crafts. 
He was not talking about pastors, teachers, counselors, or lawyers here.  And He was not just talking about book knowledge.  These were people who were wise, had knowledge, had understanding, and skills in areas that we might consider “blue collar”.  God is saying that He has given these giftings and skills for a particular calling.
Not only did my dad tell me I could be anything, but he also instilled in me a strong work ethic.  We were expected to work – around the house, around the barns, and in the fields. And work we did.  One thing I have learned, though, is the sense of accomplishment that you feel when you have done a good job; whether it be a building project, writing a song or a book, cooking a great meal, playing a difficult or inspiring musical piece, or completing an educational course, etc.
You can be anything you desire.  “If you delight yourself in the Lord, he will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalms 37:4  He put those desires in you, created you to do specific things, but you need to acquire the knowledge and put in the labor to accomplish that to which he has called you.
Hard work makes dreams come true.

30 Day Challenge – Day 28

Question of the day:  Best trip of your life.

I would find it difficult to choose only one, but I’ll talk about a trip that Tony & I took after we had been married about one year.  At that time, Amtrak had a 10 day deal where you could hop on and off the train within one of their zones.  We were living in Dallas and decided that we would take the train up through the Midwest to Minnesota and stop a couple times along the way.


Our ticket!

The seats were so amazing we didn’t even purchase a sleeper car.  Along the way, our conductor would share points of interest and tell stories about the areas we were passing through.  One story I remember distinctly was about a little old lady who lived alongside the track.  “Look for Miss Mary around the next curve on the right side of the tracks.  She usually comes outside on her porch and waves her scarf to say hello.  However, she has not been feeling well lately, so watch for her in the window.”  Sure enough, around the next curve on the right side of the tracks sat a little house and you could see a red scarf waving through the window!

For meals, we shared a table with other travelers and at one particular meal we sat with a mom and her young daughter (probably about 5 years old). As we were considering our lunch order, Tony asked her what she wanted to eat.  “Would you like a milkshake?”  Yes, she nodded.  I whispered to him that I didn’t think they had milkshakes – don’t get her hopes up!  Well, no, they didn’t have milk shakes.  We had a nice visit, ate our lunch, then went on our way to our seats.

As we passed through Wisconsin, I knew that the train may stop in Columbus which is about 20 miles from my parent’s farm.  The train would only make a stop if someone was getting on or off, and it was a small town, so I didn’t expect it to stop.  (We were planning to get off and visit on the way back through later in the week.)  However, the train stopped in Columbus!  So I said to Tony,  “Let’s see if anyone we know is here!”  So as we take a gander out the window, we spot my mom and my little brother!  So we jumped off the train, and they handed us a bag of fast food (Hardee’s, I think), and we jumped back on since the train didn’t stop very long.  And what was in the bag?  You guessed it!  A milkshake!!  Tony went to find the little girl we had dined with and handed her a milkshake.  Her eyes got big as saucers and she was thrilled!  Isn’t God cool??

We continued our trip up through Wisconsin and visited friends (Don & Brenda Boshela) who were attending University of Northwestern Christian College and had a wonderful time with them.  On our return trip, we stopped in Wisconsin and visited my family, who came to the station to see us off!  I remember it was snowing!  This was in March. In Wisconsin. so.



Me with Landon & Lucas, my nephews

This was one of my favorite trips and I would love to do something like this again.  So relaxing to just enjoy the beautiful countryside of the USA, let someone else do the driving and cooking, and spend time with someone you love.

What was your favorite trip??

30 Day Challenge – Day 27

Question of the day:  What is your dream job?

I have already had my dream job.  It was to be a stay-at-home mom!  Tony and I discussed this while we were still dating and it was a desire for both of us that I would be able to do just that.  I worked for several years after we married until I got pregnant with Tyler, and I worked until I was almost 9 months along.  We were living in Wisconsin at this time.  After being home a few short weeks, our financial situation was such that I knew I would have to get some type of employment.  But lo, and behold!  Tony got a call from a friend in Texas who wanted to hire him!  The difference in salary made up for what I would have made, they paid for us to move, and the job also included a vehicle, which was an amazing blessing!!  So back to Texas we went!

I “stayed home” with our two children until they were in high school.  Financially, we were blessed with some times of plenty, and times of not-so-plenty.  But God was faithful.  There were years that I home schooled them for various reasons, and years of private school and public school.  I believe that these decisions need to be made year by year, child by child.  I have also worked in ministry with my husband throughout all those years (youth, young adults, senior pastor).

So my dream job description was:

Nursing babies, doing laundry, make umpteen meals, cleaning house, gardening, home school teacher, cleaning  house, running errands, taking kids to the doctor, cleaning house, helping hubby with ministry, home-room mom, cleaning house, driving kids to school and sports… Did I mention cleaning house?  Anyway, I realize most moms who work outside the home also do these same things, and I commend you!

Since I went back to work over 7 years ago, I have worked at a local food pantry.  My job titles have been; food pantry supervisor, volunteer coordinator, interim director, and client service coordinator.  I have really enjoyed working there and have made so many new friends while being able to use my administrative and organizational skills.  (My brother, Alex, used to tell me I am bossy, but I just tell him, “I’m not bossy, I just know what you should be doing!”)

So it is a blessing to be able to do a job where I get to help people, and I get to help other people, help people.  In fact, the word “ministry” means – “a person or thing through which something is accomplished”.

I guess I have always been in ministry.  I’ll bet you have, too!!


30 Day Challenge – Day 26

Five Minute Friday:  Word of the day – “Neighbor”

What a perfect representation of the word, neighbor, we have seen this week.  Jesus told us to “love our neighbor as ourselves”, and then proceeded to tell a parable of the Good Samaritan to visualize what that looks like.  According to Him, the definition of neighbor is not, as Webster states, “one living near or located near another”.  Jesus description of a neighbor is one who stops along his way, bandages the wounds, feeds and clothes and provides shelter to someone in need – with no thought or consideration that he was possibly despised, or at least disliked by the injured party.

I know we are all talking about the floods and devastation in Texas this week.  I myself am a Texan, living in Austin.  It has made me so proud to see not only our great state, but people from all over the U.S. coming to help! I work for a non-profit food pantry and clothes closet.  Our tagline is “Neighbor Helping Neighbor – Hope for the Future”.  Though we are 3 – 4 hours from the worst of the flood, we have had families coming in all week, looking for help. We have been able to help with food, clothing, and gas cards. Tomorrow we are collecting hygiene and clean-up items and loading up our truck (plus several more) and heading to the Houston area to help with cleanup.  I have had people calling me this week offering their homes for others to stay.  Friends calling to say they are making survival kits with towels, soap, toothpaste, etc.  People have been just taking their boats down there and rescuing people from their flooded homes. People taking off work and using vacation time to go help with clean-up.  Hundreds of thousands of people giving money to help sustain and rebuild.  People donating crucial items to get the evacuees and first responders through the day.  I love this meme that I saw and shared today:

I’m tellin’ you guys, Texas needs to erect a statue honoring “random average dude with a bass boat” – Curtis Weber (face book)

These are not only the neighbors I want, but the neighbor I want to be.

texas strong_n


30 Day Challenge – Day 25

Question of the day – What is something you never tire of doing?

Ok, So I’m going to make this quick and easy today.  I had a busy day at work, helped Tyler move into his new (rental) home, and shampooed the carpet.  I’m tired.

So this is what I never get tired of –



And this…


And this…


I love this tree!


Never get used to this!



God is an amazing artist!






Get it?  Yeah.  Love our scenery, especially the sunsets.

Come and see them sometime!!


30 Day Challenge – Day 24

Question of the Day:  What is something you are looking forward to in the next month?

Well, my handsome son, Tyler, is getting married in 30 days!  He is marrying Rebekah Holcomb, whom he met while living in Longview, Texas, several years ago.  They didn’t date until last year when they re-connected.  So she IS a Texas girl, though she currently resides in Fayetteville, Arkansas, with her sisters.

I have always wondered and tried to picture what Tyler’s wife would be like.  Rebekah is the personification of the kind of woman I imagined for him.  She is a beautiful young lady, but more importantly, lovely from the inside out.  A committed Christian woman who also has a Godly heritage.


So I am looking forward to the beautiful setting in the woodlands of Arkansas.

and looking forward to…

The vision of an exquisite bride walking down the aisle, which always brings me to tears.

The look on my son’s face as he gazes at his true love on this momentous occasion.

The promise of “as long as we both shall live”.

The celebration of man and wife joined as one.

A memorable dance with a remarkable young man  – my long-awaited firstborn, an immeasurable gift from God, who brings me such pride and joy.

An entrancing dance (or two!) with the extraordinary man with whom I get to spend my life and who made this all possible.

The festive atmosphere of shared celebration with family and dear friends.

And, of course, the expectation of many years of joy and love, multiplied by adjoining families together.

I can’t wait!


30 Day Challenge – Day 23

Question of the Day:  What 3 lessons do you want your children to learn from you?

Well, my kids are now in their 20’s so I’ve either taught them just about all I can, or I’ve ruined them for life!

But if I could instill 3 lessons into their lives, I would hope it would be these 3 things, among others of course.

  1. Be grateful.  Nothing can make you more miserable in your lot in life than to be constantly looking around, wanting what someone else has.  there are plenty of verses to remind us.  “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus”. 1 Corinthians 5:18   Last year I started a new tradition which I call the Blessing Box.  Throughout the year, I encourage my family to write a blessing which God has done and drop it in the box.  Then at Christmas, we distribute all the papers, and take turns reading them aloud.  It is a great reminder to recount and remember how much God has blessed us throughout the past year.  When you are feeling down and discouraged about circumstances in your life, start counting your blessings.  And like the old hymn says, “it will surprise you what the Lord has done!”



2.  Be Giving.  Really Tony is the best at this one.  He is a giver.  He loves to bless others, even with seemingly little things.  I don’t know how many times he has purchased a meal for somebody else in a restaurant, someone who is having a rough time, or maybe a U.S. service man or woman, or a first responder.  If we were millionaires, we would probably be in the same financial state as we are now because he would continually find ways to bless others.  Although our kids probably don’t feel like they have always been on the receiving end, I hope they have learned the difference between learning to pull your own weight, and being generous to others as well.



3.  Be Forgiving.  Bitterness rots the bones.  Forgive as God has forgiven you.  If you harbor unforgiveness in your heart, God will not hear your prayers.  Lots of reasons to forgive.  Having a heart lacking in bitterness and anger will make your life so much simpler, and peaceful.  One standard we have kept in our marriage is to “keep no record of wrongs”.  Don’t bring up the past. Move on.



Be grateful, give, and forgive.  3 lessons we can all learn to make our lives exceptional.

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