Welcome to my new blog! If you've followed my other blog for a while, you know I am prone to pontifications mixed in with my family news and pictures. I've decided to archive all my "thinking out loud" pieces from the past here, and put all my future ones here as well. Looking for family news & photos? Check out Moments at the Manse.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Blogging Break

I'm taking the month of September off from blogging. I know you're laughing because it appears I've taken the whole summer off! :>) Really, I've had trouble remembering to post my rambling, thinking posts over here and so some of them are over at our family blog. Maybe I'll get all that straightened out before October. See you then!

Friday, May 22, 2009

In this journey that we begin when we decide to follow Jesus, there are twists and turns. And occasionally there are stops along the way to unload the extra baggage we collect while we go along. That's where I am right now.

I wish it weren't so, but as humans, we tend to allow things in life to creep up to the spot that only God deserves in our life. I have let . . . things, relationships, pride, dreams, food, my children, my husband, self interest (on and on the list could go) take the one place that only belongs to God. And its so subtle - these "idols" are so keenly disguised. That is why only God can bring them down.

And when God shines His light into my heart, and I start to see as He sees, it is time for the idols to come down. So that's what He's doing tonight. And its not without pain, as I feel the shame of my condition, but He is so faithful. And for that I'm forever thankful. His grace is so abundant. And for that I'm forever indebted.

I'm so thankful for Jesus and the Holy Spirit who continually draws me to Himself and transforms me into the person He wants me to become, for His glory.

2Co 10:5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

Php 1:6 being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

I'll Worship Only at the Feet of Jesus - Gaither Vocal Band

Saturday, May 16, 2009

No, I don't understand my husband's theory of relativity, but I know my husband and I know he can be trusted.
- Elsa Einstein

I borrowed this from the nice lady over at New Every Morning.

I thought it was applicable to pastor's wives . . . Sometimes I may not understand or know exactly what is best for our church family. And occasionally they ask me questions that I can't answer about why's and wherefore's of this or that, but I can say with confidence, "You would be welcome to talk with Darrell about that - he'd be glad to hear your point of view!"

I don't know what is best for us, or how he ought to do things, but I have complete confidence that he can be trusted. That's a really peaceful thought . . .

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


I read this posted by a friend on facebook . . .wish I had it on Sunday to give to our church ladies! I want to be a woman of strength!


A strong woman works out every day to keep her body in shape ... but a woman of strength kneels in prayer to keep her soul in shape...
A strong woman isn’t afraid of anything ... but a woman of strength shows courage in the midst of her fear...
A strong woman won’t let anyone get the best of her ... but a woman of strength gives the best of herself to everyone...
A strong woman makes mistakes and avoids the same in the future... a woman of strength realizes life’s mistakes can also be God’s blessings and capitalizes on them...
A strong woman walks sure footedly... but a woman of strength knows God will catch her when she falls...
A strong woman wears the look of confidence on her face... but a woman of strength wears grace...
A strong woman has faith that she is strong enough for the journey... but a woman of strength has faith that it is in the journey that she will become strong...

Thursday, April 30, 2009

On Strong Willed Little People

You might have guessed why this really encouraged me today . . . especially if you were in church with me last evening.
On Doable Family Devotions

Can't help it - this was good!
On "Easy" Kids

Very true.

By the way, many thanks to Making Home, on of my very favorite bloggers, for these links.
On Christian Hospitality

I posted this on Moments at the Manse as well, but it was particularly inspirational to me as a pastor's wife.

More post vacation thoughts coming . . . :>)

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Pre-vacation thoughts

We're going away for vacation tomorrow and I've been exited all week long. But today . . . after I've looked into all our precious people's faces, something tells me, "You can't leave!" "What if . . ." "They need you!" Somehow a huge long list of to-do's and to-call's starts forming in my mind. I have decided to ignore it.

So I was thinking about our what we'll do on vacation - we hardly have anything planned - we're just stopping. But there are some things I want to accomplish:
  1. Relax - which involves aborting my urge to have everything planned to the hour and instead just going with the flow - more interesting with small children..
  2. Re-connect with Darrell - Aunt Shar may even watch the sweet ones while we go on a date!
  3. Re-evaluate each child's goals for the next year. I'm not really an overacheiver (Andy) - but I feel really lost in the dirty diapers if I can't envision where I'm going with these little people. A bit of measurable progress is wonderful - goes a long way in making me feel as if I just might be doing something of value. ;>)
  4. Re-define my personal purpose. So many needs I see, so many plans I'd like to accomplish, but what must I do right now, if I want to accomplish my ultimate goals.
So off we go! It promises to be a wonderful week - the weather in Branson is supposed to be perfect! Although we can relax in the rain as well. :>)

Friday, April 10, 2009

Finding Rom. 12:3

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God-- this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is-- his good, pleasing and perfect will. For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you. Romans 12:1-3

In high school and college I made the commitment of my life for full time Christian service. It was a thought-through, eager, deliberate decision that my life would not be my own. I anticipated the lives I could influence – the difference I could make (with God’s help, of course).

Somehow I didn’t really think that much about the other side of the coin - the problems that are a part of leadership. The weight of responsibility sometimes feels like a burden. I didn’t know the other side of the coin, because I hadn’t been there.

But - I’m confessing here - I’ve been on the other side of that coin in the last six years. Not the whole time, nor even most of the time, but some of the time. Every so often, the great times are overshadowed by the weary, worn times. Occasionally, it seems no one is in your corner. Now and then, it appears you’re spinning your wheels. From time to time, my weaknesses are glaring.

And I have to think that some of the struggles I’ve faced have to do with a line I missed in verse three: “Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought.”

When I presume that I deserve a peaceful existence or a comfortable way of life or the ability to see what God is doing or instantaneous maturity in my walk with God, I will always get into spiritual trouble.

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. John 16:33

I’m a little embarrassed because I’m sitting in Starbucks crying while I type . . . so I’ll hurry to my conclusion.

As I continue to give my life as a living sacrifice, it is a more ardent act of worship than ever before. Just as it means more, in a way, when you tell your spouse “I love you” after you’ve been married for many years and have weathered many storms together, than it possibly could have on your wedding day. Your capacity to love and fully embrace the one God gave you has expanded.

And so it is with my relationship with God - all the other-side-of-the-coin experiences, and the unveiling of more and more of my weak self, though they are eclipsed by His goodness and faithfulness to me - they have expanded my capacity to love and worship Him – the only Perfect One. I recognize more and more all the time that I can’t even walk without Him holding my hand.

But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.

2 Corinthians 12:9

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The other evening we arrived home after dark and there was our friend "John" lying on our porch swing having a smoke. We said hi and the kids and I went inside. Darrell stayed outside and talked with him on the porch swing. He was very drunk and vomited on himself and the porch. And Darrell shared the gospel . . . again. He talked straight to him about how Satan has come to steal, kill and destroy and he's doing a pretty good job in his life, and John cried. Darrell opened the trailer for him to sleep in there again (he's homeless), but then he was gone again in the night.

My friend, "Carrie," came to church with a black eye. I didn't want to ask about her eye, because I don't want her to lie to try to explain it away. She's had a problem with drinking, and it has made her life miserable - none of her six kids are able to live with her - she may or may not know where they are. Satan has certainly stolen from her.

And today, I'm very conscious of my human limitations. I simply can't make a life-changing decision for John or Carrie. There is, on the surface, little I can do. Another conversation will not rescue them. God helped me to remember this just in time as I was near despair last night. So after I'd turned on my bed for a while, I turned them over to the only One who can transform lives.

God, please help me to do my part for those that I know need You, but to recognize that I'm not the author or the finisher - that's Your job and you've got it under control. Thank you for doing the work that I can't see and I certainly can't do. I'm leaving our church family in Your merciful hands again today.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

I really enjoy reading self-help (or "God Help Me!") type books. Darrell and I both do, actually, so we joke around that we think if we could find the right home organization book and just leave it lying around the house, our home organization ails would be over! :>) That's just a funny thought, of course, we don't really think that, do we? Ha ha So here are a few I've been reading this year so far.

A nice little discussion on a great gift married ladies can give their husbands.

A really encouraging, devotional type book. It has inspired me to think beyond the "God Box" I have created in my brain.

This book has been both affirming and challenging to decisions I've made/am making about housewifing and mothering.

BUT all these books are on hold while I finish this one - I'm really good at starting several books and getting sidetracked. . . I'm on day seven (out of 30) and I've been reading it for over two weeks. So it may be a while, but something's telling me it will be worth it. I've been really encouraged and challenged so far.

I'd love to hear what you're reading now or have read that has impacted your life!

Thursday, March 5, 2009


A segment of my ever-growing, ever-changing, completely incomplete philosophy on children . . .

· They will reflect their parents’ attitudes about life in general.

· They will even reflect our facial expressions and tone of voice.

I believe Darrell’s Grandma told me a story about tucking one of her boys into bed and he would screw up his face and say “I love you” – and after a while of puzzling over it, she realized that he was mimicking what she was doing – screwing up her face to hold her glasses on her nose, while she bent over to tell him “I love you.” :>)

· They will reflect our views of God. Not the ones we speak, necessarily, but the ones we live.

· They will reflect our diligent (or not diligent) work.

· They will reflect what we believe about them.

· They will reflect whoever they see and admire most.

I’ll share another example from Grandma Stetler, she tells the story of going back to where she was raised. There was a relative who had plenty of money and wanted to take her children into a store and tell them “Get whatever you want!” She didn't want that to happen because she knew that would be very attractive to a child, and that a child might begin to admire that person, who wasn’t living for God, and the effects could be subtle, but long-lasting in her children.

· They will reflect your attitude toward “things” – being overly aware of what you’re wearing, or overly aware of who has what cool, new thing, or caring too much about what people think – kids pick up on that and usually adopt that attitude as their own.

The underlying truth here is that kids (all of us, actually) are created for worship. They are looking for something to reflect and admire. And we all naturally look around us, unless we are reminded over and over again to lift up our heads and look to God.

Okay – to me, that feels overwhelming. (And truthfully, I feel totally overwhelmed today.) But, when I take a minute and think and pray, I remember - there is hope. If we're trying to train our children to be God-followers, if we’re trying to whet their spiritual appetites to know and love God – there is hope.

2Cor 3:18 And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

That inspires a bit of hope, does it not?

I love self-help books and more training ideas are always great, but our greatest dreams for healthy, happy, God-honoring children will only come true as we ourselves are being transformed “by the renewing of our minds.” (Rom. 12:2)

2Cor 4:6 For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.

7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.

And last . . .

‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,' says the LORD Almighty Zech. 4:6b

Not by schedules, nor routines, nor by sheltering, nor by talking, nor by spanking, nor by stressing about doing it right . . .

But by His Spirit . . . .

That’s my only hope.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Pastor Darrell

I've called him that, Gracie and Darrell Lee have even called him that - in a last ditch effort to get his attention, or just because they've heard other people call him that all the time. And a whole lot of people in our part of town call him that too.

We share our "honey" and "daddy" with a whole lot of people. It's part of the territory that is pastoring. Thankfully, Darrell places a very high priority on our spiritual, physical and emotional welfare and he is generous with his time for us.

We love to spend our Mondays together, and any evening when something else isn't going on - its "family time." He doesn't do anything "for him" to speak of. He works for the church tirelessly (I joke that he refuels in flight, unlike his wife), but when it comes to his children, is never to worn out to have a little game of Sword Fight, Wrestle or Find the Tiger.

He also diligently instructs our children when he is home, giving me a break from the discipline, teaching them scripture and encouraging them toward God. Each night he can be found on the couch with two or three wiggling children talking about God and each morning he can be found walking and talking to God about us, as well as many other people. He's a selfless leader of our home. I'm pretty sure I'm the most blessed lady in the world to be married to him.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

The contrasts of the parsonage

I may write a bit more about the role of Pastor's Wife another time . . . here's a taste of my world.

This week, I have:
  • had a meal and meeting with girls whose husbands . . . well, lets just say they live very comfortable (financially secure) lives
  • had a couple join us for supper who is homeless
  • sent groceries home with a sick family from our church
  • received an unexpected check in the mail
  • sent supper for tonight and frozen stuff for next week to another family in a challenging situation
  • had my lunch (and my kids' lunch) bought for me by a friend.
  • enjoyed the company of a couple of mamas of young children - my dear friends with whom I have a million things in common
  • chatted for an hour with an alcohol dependent woman, with whom I have very little in common - but one thing, the great need for Grace
  • listened, graciously, hopefully, to a bit of criticism for the pastor
  • listened to the happy call of a neighbor boy to his grandmother, "Can I stay and sword fight Pastor Darrell??" Then I got to watch as he fought off the attack of four preteeen/teen boys at the same time! :>)
Its this contrast in my world that keeps my feet on the ground, and my face looking up to Him, hands reaching out to him - I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Grace of Flexibility

Yes, this is a grace - when someone “gives you a break” - allows you to be thoroughly human. I have been the grateful recipient of my husband’s “wiggle room” (as he calls it) many, many times.

In fact, I have experienced so much of this sort of grace that I decided to pay tribute . . .

  • To my parents, on too many occasions to count, but to name just one: when I came home with my hair dyed very blond just a few days before high school graduation. They thought “it could be worse!” I wasn’t so sure.
  • To my piano teachers through the years, who knew I could have done better if I had just practiced! And probably were dying to hear another song, but suffered through my stumbling version of _________ one more time.
  • To my siblings, who have dealt with my quirky ability to be completely idealistic about most everything - they’ve been so gracious.
  • To my husband, who has been patient as I’ve slowly learned about living with another human being, and has been so kind as I’ve slowly learned (and continue to learn) how to keep our home.
  • To my in-law family, who has always treated me as one of their own.
  • To a college teacher, who generously offered Darrell and I the opportunity to grade papers in order to recover our grade after way-too-many-absences in a particular 7 o’clock class after we were married. :>)
  • To my children, who are always just moments away from a big hug and kiss for me, no matter the occasion and no matter how I fail them as a mother.
  • To so many friends, who have not held against me my ability to stay out of touch for long periods of time - they act like they still love me! It’s a miracle!
  • To our church family who has been so kind to me, with all my inexperience and bumbling efforts to learn this role - pastor's wife. God has knit our hearts together through this process.
  • And most of all, to God, who has given me grace upon grace when I could never have deserved it.

As I continue to "grow up" I am blessed with many opportunities to learn more about how to offer this grace to others - and I do appreciate that! God has helped me to learn a little bit about walking a mile in someone else’s shoes.

A few scriptures to consider . . .

. . . and to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to those who are under the law, as under the law, that I might win those who are under the law; 1 Cor. 9:20

At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath, and His disciples became hungry and began to pick the heads of grain and eat. But when the Pharisees saw this, they said to Him, "Look, your disciples do what is not lawful to do on a Sabbath." But He said to them, "Have you not read what David did when he became hungry, he and his companions, how he entered the house of God, and they ate the consecrated bread, which was not lawful for him to eat nor for those with him, but for the priests alone? Or have you not read in the Law, that on the Sabbath the priests in the temple break the Sabbath and are innocent? But I say to you that something greater than the temple is here. But if you had known what this means, 'I DESIRE COMPASSION, AND NOT A SACRIFICE,' you would not have condemned the innocent.” Matt 12:1-7

Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Luke 6:37

He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you, but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God? Micah 6:8

Common places to learn about grace:

  • When you are asked to work closely with someone who you know doesn’t understand you or share your values.
  • When things don’t happen like you planned.
  • When someone disappoints you.
  • When someone shares a personal failure with you.
  • When you’re in the position of “student” or “teacher.”
  • When you’re in any relationship, with anyone! Does that cover it all or what?!

God, please help me to be a reflection of the gracious God that you are. I pray that you will show me how to take the circumstances of life and see them as an opportunity for Your grace to abound through my attitude toward others. Thank you for your unparalleled kindness to me. So that God may be glorified, make this grace very real in my life. Amen.

By the way, there is also something that might be called . . . The Everyday Grace of Flexibility

This is the casual version . . . like being flexible with waiters and waitresses, or with the “idiot” who’s driving while texting, or with your children when they inconvenience you, or with your spouse when they make you late, etc. It takes God’s grace actively renewing our minds to be able to respond like He would. God help me!

Monday, February 9, 2009


This morning I happened to pick up the book "What Every Mom Needs" (by Elisa Morgan and Carol Kuykendall). It is written by the founder of MOPS. (Mothers Of PreschoolerS) Honestly, I've felt the need for some perspective - so here in the chapter about Perspective I found these four Myths and the Reality that corresponds.

Myth #1: If you control everything, life works.
Reality: You can't control everything.
You have to go with the flow.

Myth #2: I should do it all and all right now.

Reality: I can't do it all, but I can do what's important.

Myth #3: The best way to make it through mothering is to grin and bear it till it gets better.

Reality: Enjoy today. Make the most of life's irretrievable moments . . . now.

Myth #4: Mothering is serious business and the lives of your children are at stake at every moment.

Reality: Lighten up. Children are resilient. Handle them with honesty and humor.

I put the Myths in bold because they are what we hear naturally from the infamous, sometimes screaming, voices in our heads, but we have to, on purpose, look for the Reality.

A group of girls and I have started a MOPS group here in our area - I'd encourage you moms to consider starting a group or finding a group in your area. There is no real virtue in being the Lone Ranger Mommy (although I tried that route) - I have been very encouraged by the other moms in our group. If you have questions about starting a group, I'd be happy to help any way I can.

Happy Mothering!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Why we're here . . .

This post was inspired something my sister told me about two years ago, "Ministry is meeting the need that is in front of you right now." (Or something like that :>) So this happened over two years ago, but God used it to remind me of the reason we're where we are.


At nearly 10 last night, our neighbor boys came over - pounding ferociously on the door as only they can do. :>) They needed a band-aid - the six year old had scraped his back. So Darrell (he's such a sweetheart) invites them in, goes and gets neosporin and band-aids and gets him all fixed up.

The little guy says, "Do you think you would have time to pray with me to ask Jesus to come into my heart?"

He has two older brothers - one of them was saved at our VBS this summer - he's had a big change in his heart and attitude. His other brother is 12 and headed down the wrong path quickly. He was the one who had brought him over here - I was thrilled for him to get to hear that Jesus can forgive and I pray that he'll make the same choice as his brothers very soon.

I confess, I've had to pray for God to help me to actively love these boys as they stop by sometimes several times a day (and always when I've got my hands full of something . . .) to tell me the trivia of their lives or to ask for a glass of water. ("Even a glass of cold water" - I've actually quoted that out loud trying to keep perspective . . .) And there have been many times when I've had to ask God to forgive my "put out" attitude towards them. But God is helping me to see that this is ministry. All this listening and unexpected supper time visits, and rides to here and there - it's about showing them Jesus.

So whatever you're doing that seems like a chore. . . :>) join me in looking for God's perspective.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Shades of Gray

I’ve been thinking about people in a new way lately . . . there is a couple I’ve come to love who is a picture of this contrast I’m about to discuss. I’ll have to introduce you to them. Come to think of it, you might recognize them!

Sally is a delightful, fun-loving girl. She is involved with the children’s ministry and loved the variety of personalities that she sees In the children. She thrives on doing things in the moment, spontaneity is her game. She’s reluctant to set up strong boundaries because children are all so different that they can’t all have the same rules! She sees most areas of life in shades of gray. There isn’t a right way to do everything. It just depends.

Joe, Sally’s husband, is a calm, processing man. He is the one who takes attendance each Sunday, writing down each person’s name who is there and keeping records of it on the computer. He thrives on a thorough discussion of the details of most anything. He’s very intelligent (as is Sally) and recognizes the value of order – I’ve been told he even folds his laundry on its way to the washer! He sees most areas of life in black or white. There is a right way to do almost everything – large and small - in his eyes.

Observing this couple and their interactions has made me realize that all of us see life as either mostly black and white or mostly shades of gray. I would tend toward more black and white, and Darrell – shades of gray.

The most brilliant observation on this topic came from my husband. We were talking about this and he said, “You make the greatest difference in the areas you see as black and white.” So the BIG point? Make sure you’re viewing the most important thing – serving Jesus – as black and white. And be a fanatic about it.

Freedom in Fences

I was listening to Dave Ramsey's radio program about money management. He has people who call in after working his system and are debt -free. They tell their story and then yell, "WE'RE DEBT-FREE!!!!!!" At the end of their call. Then you hear Dave's laugh and a voice says, "FREEDOM!" How did they find financial freedom? Well, there are these things called financial "rules" that can determine what you do with your money, if you let them. If you follow the "rules" you will find freedom.

I'm reading a couple different books about training children. They all say, "Children need boundaries. They thrive in a structured environment." Direct quote from James Dobson, "They are like the night security guard - they will go around checking door knobs, but they hope they don't work." Where can kids find freedom? When they live within "rules."

So what's the point? Well, I think sometimes we forget what a privilege our "rules" in the Bible are. When we follow God's plan for relationships, marriage, children, reaching out to others, personal godliness - that he has laid out in His word - That's freedom! Being his special people - that's who we're created to be. To be his representatives to this world, which knows very little about the joy of living by "rules," that 's what we're created to do.

Sometimes I get a little overwhelmed by the task in front of me. The girls here on my street, on the surface, have very little in common with me. Most of them are raising several children all alone, or with a temporary "husband." Many of them have never had any examples of great relationships. They look at me like I'm a little odd, at times, but they want me to come back and see them. I think they know there's something that they're missing in life. They haven't found real freedom, but they sense that I have. I want to tell them the good news - "there's freedom in fences!" I'll pray that God will tell them through my life.

He Gently Leads

I read this chapter this morning after solving several “calamities” that arose since I overslept and my baby woke up earlier than normal. I had never before really seen what God seems to be saying here. He gives special attention - he gently leads - “those that are with young.”

Have you ever sensed God was especially near as you are just going about your daily activities - diaper changing, feeding, endless laundry and negotiating between siblings? Have you ever had moments of worship as you watched your children playing, singing, praying, or sleeping? Have you ever taken a breath and thanked God for the strength to keep up with your family? I have. It's not because I've been fasting and praying, and having overwhelming, inspirational, hour-long devotions everyday! It just must be because God gently leads those of us who have young children.

At times I have an overwhelming sense that God is helping me here in the daily routine. It’s not to my credit the day is going so well, or that plans are falling in to place! He’s gently leading me!

I’m so thankful for his Divine hand that guides and I’m eternally grateful that he gently leads you and I to know Him better.