Monthly Archives: December 2007

Drive-Through Church

Yes, I know most people write Drive-Thru, but I just can’t spell it that way. I know English is a living language, and thru is probably a recognized spelling now; but I just can’t bring myself to use that spelling.

Anyway . . . back to the point of this post.

In light of our church-search, this YouTube video seems appropriate to share. Sarah, my 17 year old friend who is wise beyond her years, sent it to me.

*If I knew as much about blogging as StuartDelony, I would know how to just put the video right in this post. But I don’t know much, and I don’t even know if I could do that without paying extra for that option. So you’ll have to go to the extra trouble of clicking on the link. But it’s funny and a little convicting and worth the click.

I don’t want this attitude as I search for a church. That’s for sure.

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The Great Church Search

This is one of the most difficult aspects of moving. Finding a new church home.

Though our home-church, the church we have been part of since weeks after our wedding, the only church family our children have ever known — that church — is not perfect (and what church is?), we do love the people. The people in that church have been our family for more than 13 years. Our pastor and his wife . . . well, words cannot even express how we love them. Those are the people who have watched us grow from just-out-of-college-newlyweds to parents and what some may call real grown-ups. They have prayed for us, held and played with and prayed over our babies, laughed with us and at us, and cried with us. We’ve served together and we’ve served each other. We’ve visited each other in hospital rooms and living rooms, and some of them even were in the delivery room with me when I was in the early stages of labor with our first baby. We’ve cooked together and washed dishes together and eaten meals together more times than we can count. And now, we’re supposed to go find another family like that?

Every Sunday since we moved, I have cried. Other than the days when our extended families were gathering to celebrate Christmas without us, I have been most homesick on Sundays. I suppose that’s because Sundays are when our other family is gathering to celebrate Christmas and Easter without us. And I miss them. I miss their hugs during the greeting time. I miss walking into a place where I know and am known.

Last week we visited a big church. Not big by some standards — there is a church near here with like 12,000 members. But it is big for us. So big that one child was in tears when we left him at his class, another was near tears, and one child was in tears before lunch because she missed home and definitely didn’t want to go back to the church where she might get lost. Their greeting time was so brief, I barely had time to shake the hands of the two people in front and behind me. The message was solid, and the people were friendly enough . . . it just didn’t feel like it could be home.

Another week we visited a church our children love. They mostly love it because they know another family whose children go there, so they are thinking built-in friends. We liked many aspects of this church, but my husband and I don’t know that we could feel at home there either.

Today we visited another church. This church is small. Very small. But the people seem so real, and we could feel a sense of family among them. I was thrilled to sense that these are a people with vision, with a plan to reach their community for Christ. My boys like the praise band with the drum set. My girls are concerned this church might be too small, with too few potential friends. This church is praying for growth and that God would bring leaders and servants. We have some questions about doctrine we want to ask the pastor, but we can see ourselves feeling at home there. Maybe.

But we were sort of expecting something bigger. Something with programs we could plug into. Instead, this church would give us opportunities to start programs, to serve and minister and be part of its growth. Is that what we want? I don’t know. Is that what God has planned for us? I don’t know.So we’re praying. Do we find a church family that already has programs we can plug into? Or do we join a family that has opportunity to start something new?

We’re trying to have the right balance as we visit and pray. We want a place where we will be fed, a place that is doctrinally sound, a place with people who will minister to us. But we also want a place where we can minister, where we can serve. We are not only looking at what we’ll get out of it, but that does play a part if I’m honest. Especially since we have children.

We will keep on praying.

How about you? When you have been faced with the opportunity of finding a new church home, how did you find a new family? How did you decide? How did you know that you’d found the place where you belong?

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Family Game Night

Tonight is Family Game Night in our home. We The children received some fun games for Christmas, so we’re going to munch on snacks and play games.

In case you’re searching after-Christmas sales for fun games, I suggest Cranium Hullaballoo for kids. It’s a great game for preschoolers and non-readers; it’s super-easy to play and does not really require adult help. And my girls, who are 8 & 9, also have fun playing it. It does get loud, but in a fun, giggly way — not in a pounding Hungry, Hungry Hippo kind of way.

I also suggest Cranium Cadoo for elementary-school age children who can read. The instructions are also easy, and kids can figure it out with little or no help from parents. But it is also fun for parents who want to play along.

Apples to Apples Kids is also a blast. We’ve laughed a lot playing this game. Adding in the Mr. Nobody feature is even funnier.

An old favorite around here is Don’t Wake Daddy. This games makes us laugh and sometimes has had our children hiding under the table in anticipation of the daddy jumping in his bed. Very fun!

Zingo is also great fun. It’s Bingo with a zing to it. ūüôā The children can also play this by themselves, which is handy when I have to actually do some work around here during the days. But I think it’s fun to play along. This is also a game non-readers can play.

Don’t Break The Ice is also a favorite of my boys. I think it plays into their delight in destroying things.

We don’t really need a special family night set aside to play games. We’ve been playing games every evening this week after dinner. And the children and I have been playing games during the day — you know, when I should be unpacking boxes and organizing this apartment. The kids are really getting into it, too. I can’t imagine where they get their competitiveness from; but the other day when 3 year old Jackson and I were playing Don’t Break the Ice, he looked up at me and, with an evil laugh, said, “You’re going to lose.”

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Nickole’s Pancakes

My friend, Nickole, who sometimes comments on this blog, has a very yummy way of making pancakes.  I saw her idea in a MOPS cookbook and tried it out on my family last Saturday.  They were a HUGE hit in our home.   

You make your normal pancake batter — whether it’s from scratch or the Bisquick kind like I make. ¬†And then you add cooked, crumbled up sausage to the batter. ¬†You can either brown the sausage like you would ground beef, or you can cook the patties and then crumble them up. ¬†So now your sausage is right in the pancake batter. ¬†Then fry the pancakes as you usually would. ¬†¬†The added sausage makes the pancakes taste even more delicious. ¬†

Because I have a couple non-sausage-eaters, I made pancakes with and without sausage, but even the non-sausage-eaters were tasting the new pancakes before breakfast was over.  And they loved it too!   

As a side-note, fixing pancakes and sausage this way will stretch the sausage out more as my boys grow and help with the food budget.  Thanks, Nickole, for a yummy recipe! 

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Merry Christmas!

from the Jesus Storybook Bible, written by Sally Lloyd-Jones, based on passages from Nehemiah, Malachi, and Ezra, written by The Holy Spirit . . .

Then God told his children something more . . .

I can’t stop loving you.
You are my heart’s treasure.
But I lost you.
Now I am coming back for you.

I am like the sun that gently shines on you,
chasing away darkness and fear and death.
You’ll be so happy —
you’ll be like little calves running free
in an open field.

I am going to send my Messenger — The Promised One.
The One you have been waiting for.
The Rescuer.

He is coming. So, get ready!

It had taken centuries for God’s people to be ready, but now the time had almost come for the best part of God’s plan.

God himself was going to come. Not to punish his people — but to rescue them.

God was getting ready to wipe away every tear from every eye.

And the true party was just about to begin . . .

They awaited His first coming. Now, we await His second.

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It’s Beginning To Feel A Lot Like Christmas

. . . or not.

I know Christmas doesn’t have anything to do with snow or cold weather or pretty decorations. I know it’s not about the ornaments that represent so many memories. I know it’s not about a big meal with family. I know that Christmas is not about a winter coat and scarf and sipping hot chocolate after caroling around the neighborhood. I know it’s not about fun parties with friends. I know it’s not even about the candle-light service at our church and worshipping with our close friends in a familiar place.

I know all of that.

But this year, when all those things have been stripped away, it’s important to remind myself once again. It’s a good opportunity to examine my heart. If I’m not feeling like it’s Christmas, then my heart is focused on the wrong things.

Yes, I may be Christmas shopping in capri pants and flip flops. And my tiny 4 foot tree may not have any of our cherished decorations on it. And we may be far away from family. And we may not have a new church home yet. But my heart can feel full and my mind can be fixed on the Truth — the Truth about Christmas and the Truth about everything else.

For me, it’s a matter of taking every thought captive. (2 Cor. 10:5)

Maybe you too are having a difficult time feeling like it’s Christmas — maybe you’re mourning the death of a parent or spouse or maybe you’re mourning the death of a dream. Maybe your plans for Christmas are falling apart. Maybe you are far away from family or maybe your son or husband is away defending our country. Maybe you planned to be holding a new baby in this year’s Christmas photo, but those dreams faded with a miscarriage. Or maybe problems in your marriage are casting a dark cloud over this entire season. Maybe you’ve lost your job or you’ve lost a friendship. Maybe you don’t have money to spend on lavish gifts. Or maybe you’re just too busy to bake twenty varieties of cookies and decorate the house. For whatever reason, you’re just not feeling the holiday spirit.

I encourage you to do what I’m doing. Take those thoughts captive. Don’t let the enemy rob you of joy. Fill your mind with Truth. This is what Christmas is all about —

You will conceive a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end. . . . For with God nothing will be impossible. . . . Glory to God in the highest”

Christmas is about God doing the impossible. It’s about the Creator of the universe humbling Himself into the form of a tiny baby. It’s about God coming to dwell with us so that we can dwell with Him forever. It’s about the Rescuer coming to save His people. It’s about the beginning of a kingdom that will never end.

And though heirloom ornaments and chocolate chip cookies and church candle-light services are all wonderful, the absence of those things does not change the meaning of Christmas.

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Miscellaneous Monday – 12/17/07

Several weeks ago, I promised I would share some creative gift basket ideas. Life interrupted blogging for a while, but finally — here they are. (Some of these ideas are from a book called Homespun Gifts.)

1. Choose a children’s book and compile a gift basket centered around that book.

For example — “How To Make An Apple Pie And See The World” by Marjorie Priceman. Give a basket or box filled with this great children’s book and a ceramic pie plate, a pie server, a pie crust mix, a small bag of sugar, a small jar of cinnamon, a bag of apples, and a small globe.

Another example — “The Complete Tales and Poems of Winnie the Pooh”. Give a basket with this book, a box of Teddy Grahams, some homemade biscuits, a jar of local honey, and a small stuffed golden bear.

2. A Rainy Day Gift Basket. Fill a basket with a coloring book and crayons, a game of checkers, some bags of microwave popcorn, an umbrella, and a fun pair of rubber boots.

3. Beautiful Feet Gift Basket. This one is for your pastor’s wife or for a missionary lady. Fill a basket with foot lotions, a foot scrubber, nail polish, and a fizzy foot soak ball. Write a note including Isaiah 52:7 — “How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news.”

4. Family Game Night Gift Basket. Fill a box or basket with some fun family games — Jenga, Don’t Break The Ice, Connect Four, Trivial Pursuit, Candy Land, Cranium, etc. Also include some favorite snacks — chips, popcorn, boxes of candy, etc.

5. Super Sundae Gift Basket. Put all kinds of ice cream toppings in a gift basket along with some cute bowls (maybe some with a favorite character (Dora, Mickey Mouse) or with a child’s name painted on the side or just some fun-looking bowls from a Dollar Tree. Include a Pampered Chef ice cream scoop and some special napkins.

Those are all the ideas I have time for now. Maybe I’ll add more later. And you can all feel free to add your own ideas.

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