Saturday, December 17, 2011

A Weekend to Remember

Mike and I recently attended Family Life's conference for Married Couples (and engaged couples).  It is called A Weekend To Remember .  Thanks to our church - First Baptist Cleveland who gives this special time to the minister's at our church every other year.  Mike and I continue to go to this particular conference (although we could pick others), because it is always a great conference.  We have never been disappointed in the speakers, location, etc.  Family Life is a first class ministry who is committed to helping families keep Christ as the top priority in their lives. 
The conferences are located all over the United States.  We've been to a couple locations.  This year we decided to go to Charleston, South Carolina.  We just love this city.  On Friday we explored the city and here are some things we got to see:

Two Meeting Street Inn

This is where I really wanted to stay but they didn't have availability for the entire time we were in town! One day I am going to stay at this Bed and Breakfast!

Friday night before we went to the conference, we saw a couple get married in the gazebo at Battery Park.  This was their carriage!
We took a carriage ride but it was with quite a few couples!

I would most likely visit Battery Park a lot if I lived in Charleston!
Love it!

We saw families playing, photo sessions of a bride, children and about 16 members of a family- it was cute - they were all dressed alike.  The grandfather was just ready to get it over with. 

I love the homes in Charleston.

Homes we got to see on our carraige ride.  I highly recommend the Palmetto Carriage Company if you are in Charleston. 

I loved the Christmas decorations. 

The thing I look at the most is the gates, fences, lamps, etc.   I think this looks very enchanting!

Loved this gate........

but most of all loved what was inside the gate.  I could see myself sitting here to read.

Picture on South Battery.  While waiting on the Boat Parade we got to see lit up and with it's Christmas tree on.  It is a beautiful home. 

Yet another view of Battery Park!

Water view of Battery Park!

Favorite boat from the parade!
We also loved those on canoes and kayaks who came by first.  They came by yelling two things-
"Merry Christmas" and then would say "When we say row, you say Ho!"
So it was fun to hear Row, Ho, Row, Ho with all the others who had gathered to see the Boat Parade!
We also visited James Island County Park Festival of Lights at Folly Beach. It was AMAZING - so amazing that it will be a blog post all of it's own. 

So thankful for my hubby! I love him more and more each day.  I never knew 18 years ago (this month) when he asked me to marry him that it was possible to love him more than I did that day, but I do.  So thankful to God for the gift of this godly man.  I love you HB!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

A Beautiful Place

I loved exploring Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge with my love this weekend!  God is amazing in how created so many different types of places. Have a great week!

Monday, August 1, 2011

One of my favorite gifts ever..............

Well this past week I celebrated my birthday.  I was overwhelmed with birthday wishes and blessings by cards, facebook well wishes, kiddos hugs and singing and all kinds of goodies.  My husband gave me one of my most favorite gifts ever (if you know me well- you know he gave me one of the best gifts I've been given in my life this past November- leave a comment if you think you know what that gift was- hint.....I am still using it)

Anyway................. I woke up to find a Kindle beside me! Woo Hoo!
I will always love a "real, live" book (so don't worry Mrs. Lynda!) However, I absolutely love it.  The first book I read on my kindle was Leota's Garden by Francine Rivers. 
I actually discovered tonight I could go to Christian Book Distributor's site and find all the Christian books that are free in their section and go to Amazon and look up the same books under Kindle and download those free too! I actually think I downloaded about 30 books tonight - very easily added since my awesome husband included 3G on my Kindle! So now I am all set for vacation in a few weeks.

Thank you to everyone who helped my day (and week) so special!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Happy Fourth of July

Happy July 4th!  I pray you have a great time celebrating Independence Day! We have a great privilege of living in a FREE country.  We are a blessed people.  I also remind you that we have the opportunity to be free spiritually as well- In John it tells us "if the Son sets you free, you are free indeed!"

The freedom this speaks of is the freedom from the bondage of sin.  John 3:16 tells us of this FREE gift - For God so loved the world that He sent His one and only Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life. 

I pray you can celebrate the Fourth of July as an American who has freedom but also as a Christian - who is free indeed!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Family Game Night

Well tonight is one of my favorite nights of our Summer Fun- Family Game Night.  Sadly it is always the least attended night.  I LOVE this night.  A night where we bring out the board games and card games.  A night where families can come together with other families and play simple but fun games.  We ask families to bring a snack and we provide the drinks.  An all around fun night.  We will see what tonight brings. 
Here is one game I can't wait to play.
Hungry Hippo?  Ever play that as a kid?  I did.  It was my sister's game - I think she got it for Christmas one year.  I loved playing that game.  I had not played it in years until this past Spring.  At the lunch for homeschool students a family brought this game and I was able to play.  Brought back a lot of memories and I will be honest I had to remember I wasn't a kid anymore and I didn't have to get ALL the marbles. 

A newer game I love is.......................

I love to see the kids play this game.  It is a lot of fun for adults too!

One game that I love so much I UNO! I have all kinds of UNO games............. here are a few.........

(Fits in a cup holder and designed to play on the go)
Uno Cars Version

UNO Disney Version
(two of my great loves combined)



(One of my new favs- this is fun if you are a preschooler or 40- lol)

(plastic so they can get wet)

UNO Classic
(Still my all time fav)

What is your favorite game?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Mom's Nurturing Moms adds an Evening Edition

Mom's Nurturing Moms is a group for moms at all stages on the journey of motherhood.  I started a group while serving at my last church- 11 1/2 years ago.  My heart was for the group to be a fellowship time for moms to be together while their children were being well taken care of by our childcare staff.  I wanted it to be a time of encouragement for them but not a Bible Study.  Let me explain that statement- the moms I felt led to reach out to all were doing an awesome job in that department- they were doing Bible Study through a small group with their husbands at church and / or a small group study throughout the week with other ladies.  What I realized from listening to them is they needed time with other ladies.  That group flourished as did the group at my current church.  The Lord has given me a passion for this group. 

Earlier this year I had a mom approach me asking me if I would expand this group to have a meeting in the evenings for moms who worked outside the home.  After thinking and praying about this venture- in August we will begin Moms Nurturing Moms- Evening Edition.  I am excited but also a little nervous.  This is where you come in................

Some of the topics we discuss or invite speakers in will be able to be duplicated - some will not.  So my question is ......... if you are a mom working outside the home- what are some topics you would love to learn more about? 

Some of our speakers in the past have discussed.....
marriage relationship
creative correction
meal time
homeschool, private or public school

Well you get the drift................. Looking for new ideas for the morning edition and evening edition!

Thanks in advance.!! Please leave me a comment or email me at twaldrop(at)

Friday, April 22, 2011

I was speechless..............believe it or not!

For those of you who know me personally - know I seldom at a loss for words.  Most often quite the opposite, I am full of words.  I want to tell you about a time this past week when for a moment I didn't know what to say but was actually overwhelmed by God's goodness. 

You see, it has been a really busy month.  There have been many activities and events at church.  Several of these were providing childcare.  Every single time it was to support incredible opportunities for parents.  As the excitement of the first night of our Music and Media Ministry sharing a worship experience with our church family and community, so did my desire to attend.  I had heard great things about it and one of my good friends even told me you have got to attend.  She encouraged me to find someone to work the desk so I could attend.  Well I tried and after asking several people just resigned myself to the idea I would not get to attend. 

Well the Friday night it opened the weather was horrendous.  I mean it was a down pour.  It was a huge storm and I thought oh no, people will stay home.  They will not come out in this weather.  I was beginning to get disappointed for our new Music Ministers - they both had worked so very hard.  Then an amazing thing happened - people began to POUR in just like the rain was pouring outside.  There was an excitement all around.  Then it happened. 

I began to have a big pity party for myself.  I wallowed in a lot of thoughts in my flesh.  It was not a pretty - all the thoughts going through my head.  I actually prayed Lord is there anyone that cares that I don't get to go to church most of the time and that I would really, really like to be a part of this special worship opportunity.  To be completely honest with you I was even mad and told God I was mad.  I ended up telling myself to "suck it up" and "get over it" (forgive me if that word offends you). I just accepted it is what I do and that often there are sacrifices that go with being called to Children's Ministry.  So I went about my night and didn't think of it again. 

The sanctuary begin to empty and parents returned to pick up their little ones.  One of the parents came up to the desk and said are you getting to attend one of the nights.  I told her that I wanted to and tried to find someone but could not secure someone.  She said I am going to cover the desk so you can attend.  She said the Lord told me during the worship service to come and offer to stay so I could go.  I just looked at her for a minute and then said are you sure?  She said yes, I know the Lord told me to offer to do this.  I didn't really know what to say but made the necessary arrangements and thanked her.

As I had time later that night, to really think about what had happened, I realized God was answering my plea.  He was saying Tara - I heard you and I care.  I care so much that I have secured someone for you.  Not only had He secured someone but it was a former staff member who had worked the desk before.  I then realized not only did God find someone to cover the desk but someone I was more than 100% comfortable covering the desk.  Someone I knew I didn't have to wonder if they were okay.  Because of those two facts I was able to have an incredible worship experience that next night. 

When my friend came to cover the desk - I left her a note telling her about my pity party and thanking her for being an answered prayer.  She told me later that she wondered if when God spoke directly to her and told her to ask me, if it was at the same time I was asking Him if anyone cared I wanted to attend too.  I believe it was.  I believe it could have even been before.  I believe when I made those pleas and lamented to God - even if not necessarily with the right attitude- He heard me and answered my plea.  I remember saying God please send someone who can work tomorrow night.  The reason I think He might have even prompted her to ask me before I prayed those prayers- is because He already knew my heart.  He knew how I felt but He wanted me to tell Him how I felt (and boy did I).  Oh His grace and goodness!

What an incredible thing- I know He answers prayers all day long, every day but I am reminded of His goodness to me when He makes Himself known that powerfully and quickly in my life. 

The neat thing is she came back the next night so one of the "nursery ladies" could attend.  And when someone else heard what she did for me, they came back the next night and worked so another "nursery lady" could attend.  There is no better life than to live for Jesus.  Even when I fail, He unconditionally loves me!

Tomorrow is a day to remember what He did for each and every one of us on the Cross at Calvary........ but remember Sunday is coming!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

School Lunch

I always have fun eating lunch with kids at their schools.  Each January I begin the trek to the different elementary schools we have children attending.  There are 22 schools I will have visited this year.  Most of the time I am in the schools on Wednesday.  I think when I write my book (yes, on my "bucket list" is to write at least one book), it may take more than one chapter to expand on the things I learn at lunch.  I am going to list just some of the things I learn......

  • how kids interact in the school environment (as opposed to church and church activities)
  • how they relate to the peers
  • who their peers are at school
  • what their teachers think of them (or the cafeteria lady)
  • what they like to eat and what they don't like to eat
  • what happened at their house that morning or the night before (sometimes good but sometimes sad)
  • how they view me- often in how they introduce me- which often makes me feel really good- "this is my friend from church Mrs. Tara"
  • many interesting things about their teachers, friends but most of all my book you all shall remain nameless but man oh man the innocence and honesty of kids- tee hee- it's awesome
If I were to be the "cafeteria lady" .......
  • I might be broke all the time- how it pains me to see the kids who have to put things back up because they don't have the money for that item
  • I would outlaw television (cartoons) EVER being played during lunch
  • I would pray the noise and behavior issues in the cafeteria would not get to me and I could remain "nice" - which most places I visit the environment is really neat! (yes, I do realize I am in the cafeteria once a week and they are in there every day, all school year)
  • I would figure out a way for little ones not to have to begin lunch at 10:30 in the morning..... I know it is a tight schedule but come on (it makes for a really long lunch time when you begin then and the last lunch is at 12:40)..... if I wouldn't look silly I would take a seat cushion
Kids in their environment are awesome.  I love it when I get to sit with them at their regular lunch table.  Most schools that is not possible because we have way too many kids who attend there- and I can't bounce back and forth from tables.  However, it is amazing when we get a table for our group and they say "I didn't know you go to First Baptist".  I like to see them connect. 

Oh yes- and I always take my lunch.  No offense cafeteria ladies of the world- I always did and always will.  It is just better that way ......

Tomorrow the homeschool are coming to me- whoo hoo! Lunch with all of them here at the church and guess what??? They are bringing lunch- woot woot!

Have a great afternoon!

Friday, March 18, 2011

On The Go Dinners

About a month ago I discovered a new business here in town (Cleveland, TN) that has been a huge blessing.  You guessed it - it's called On The Go Dinners.  It is a business that provides ready to cook meals for an incredible price.  PLUS she delivers.  Please be sure to read the order and delivery info - it is really important and can answer your questions!

Here is how it works- the cook posts the menu on Monday each week.  You email , call or text (464-2322) your order and when you would like the item you order.  If you live in the Cleveland city limits delivery is included (FREE).  Each item you order is $12.  No that is not a typo- TWELVE dollars.  I have taken a few pictures of things I have ordered and how it comes................ (I think I only have one picture of how it looks after it is cooked- lol - we usually gobble it up so fast I forget to take a picture). 

Also if you are doing weight watcher's the points are listed for each dish.  The cook lists these on the menu each week.  You can also find On The Go Dinners on Facebook - but I have no idea how to link that here! (remember I am technology challenged- just ask the crew at church).  And just in case you wondered - I have not been asked to post about this wonderful new business, I wanted to share it with you since I love it so much.  I also am not getting anything in return for sharing this business with you.  Although I am hoping I can influence the menu selections over the next few weeks- lol.  In reading past menus on the blog (from before I heard about this business) I would love to see the Chicken Alfredo Bake and / or the French Toast Casserole return to the menu selection sometime.  (Melissa - if you are reading this hint, hint )

Here is how it comes...........

 Here are the instructions for the Roast Chicken Bake!
Here is the Roast Chicken Bake ready to go in the oven!

Here is the Taco Noodle Bake ready to go in the oven!
Here it is ready to eat - yummy!

I can't not say enough good things about EVERYTHING we have ordered- Here are some of the things I have ordered: 

Roast Chicken Bake
Taco Noodle Bake
Chicken Enchiladas 
White Chicken Chili with Cornbread Crust 
Bruschetta Skinny Chicken
Beef Enchiladas
Skinny Ginger Soy Chicken

It has worked so well for Mike and I.  On nights I have ordered he gives me a buzz when he leaves work and I put it in the oven and we are ready to eat.  It is also enough food for us to have leftovers for lunch and  dinner.  So I've let you in on one of my secrets.  Oh by the way - clean up is a done quickly now- no dishes to load in the dishwasher from preparation - which makes Mike and I both happy!  Hope it helps you too!

Monday, February 28, 2011

A sleepless night ......

It was one of those nights- I don't know why.  I never do.  I guess something triggered the movie that played over and over in my mind - well at least every time I shut my eyes.  It was a movie of one of the happiest times in my life and one of the saddest as well.  All day I've battled on if I should post this on here or not.  I decided it is part of who I am and always will be.  I don't write it for pity or sympathy... really I write it because it helps my heart.  It is part of who I am and one of the chapter's in life that has shaped me.  Enough of all that and back to the movie that played over and over last night....

It took me to a far away place, although not really that far away.  A lusciously green land whose country side is filled with beautiful scenery.  Although parts of this country are something you would see in a travel magazine if you look closely you see evidence of a war that ravaged this land.  Poverty is all around.  Partly due to political battles that engulfed the people for way too long.  Natural disasters have also left much devastation to this place- a place I fell quickly in love with on my first mission trip.  It was the first time I looked into a person's eyes and saw true desperation.  I am not speaking of a spiritual desperation- although it was there as you looked deeper.  I am talking about true desperation on having your basic physical needs meet.  I am talking about literally having nothing to eat- not just something you "like" to eat.  After that first trip my heart was broken and Mike and I returned many times.

It didn't matter if we were in the barrio's (villages), the schools or at the orphanages- most all we encountered had (has) that look.  Each time my heart was broken as I returned to my comfy American lifestyle.  If you've ever seen or been to a place with extreme poverty you can relate.

At the same time in life Mike and I continued to walk the path of infertility.  We desperately wanted a child and had been open to the idea of adoption for a while.  Many people wanting to help in our desire to become parents would share with us a child (or children) that needed a home.  Each time we would walk through the door as long as it was open.  This time was not any different.  I sat down with Mike after Wednesday night church at a local restaurant, and said well you are already sitting down and began.  A friend in ministry had a lady in his church who was not going to keep the twins she was soon to deliver and he wanted to know if we were interested.  As long as I live I will never forget my precious husband's response.  He said sure we will always have a open door for any children the Lord may bring to us.  Tell "RJ" yes to give her our name.   And then the words that would really set us on a life changing course..... But we have two girls waiting on us and they are ours.  I believe we are suppose to go get them (meaning begin adoption procedures).

You see when we first began serving on short term trips to this country it was closed to Americans adopting but had recently become more open.  We had met two sisters on one of our trips and had seen them again just the month before.  I will actually never forget standing over "JG"'s crib and crying out for God to rescue her.  I vividly remember Mike coming to tell me the team was already walking out of the village.  I couldn't move.  My heart was riveted to this precious child who although was several years old could not sit up.  We were told she had special needs - although they were not really sure what.  She had to be propped up in her crib.  The little girl whose orphanage caregivers told me they had never seen her smile until that day.  It was when I was holding her close and singing "Jesus Loves "JG" into her ears.  Her eyes darted towards me and smiled.  A little girl that was left alone with her 1 1/2 old sister for they believe at least a week.  Their mom had left them and the uncle brought them to the orphanage.  There was no way their family could feed anymore children.  It didn't immediately enter my mind -at first- they we should adopt them.  It wasn't possible when we first meet them.

So last night the next several trips (over two years) played in my mind.  The times we spent with them at the orphanage, mission house, zoo, McDonald's, playing, trying on clothes we had brought them, hearing their laugh when they receive the Build-a-bear and puppy with our voices tell them we loved them, feeding them, watching them grow and learn and hearing them call us ma ma and pa pa.

Then the movie is taking a's a turn toward a ending I don't like or even want.  We are at the necessary offices thinking our paperwork is going to be reviewed and given the "nod" to get the official seals on it.  However, as the sweet kind lady who has helped us from the beginning leaves the room and is gone for a period of time, a longer period of time than necessary, my heart begins to panic.  As she enters the room- I know- I don't need the translator to translate.  When her eyes won't meet mine, I realize it is not to be.  They called it political red tape, they are sorry.....policies changing.  The words are just a jumble in my mind and on the screen.  I am not sure how I will every move from that chair.  You see "our girls" was what had kept me going for the past 11 weeks.  The 11 weeks I physically and emotionally healed from an unplanned hysterectomy.  You see even though I had been told I would most likely not have a baby- I secretly held out hope all those years for a miracle.  How could I look at Mike in the eyes.  The movie is playing but it brings back to many intense memories, I can't watch.  Somehow we cling to each other and make it to the car waiting to take us to the mission house.  Our precious friend who is driving us is visibly upset for us.  I go through a range of emotions but mostly just intense pain with lots of crying.  We are told we can see the girls one more time.  I can't even begin to imagine saying goodbye. 

As we went back to the mission house - I am thankful that our dear friends Laura, Elizabeth and Jami were there to love on us.  They talked if we wanted to talk and just sit quietly if that is what we needed too.  It was a hard day.  Mike made arrangements for us to see the girls the next day.  He and our driver went to pick them up and I began to work on setting things up.  We had brought quite a few gifts to give them each day and since this would be our one last time to see them- I wanted to set it up like it was Christmas.  I had always been so excited to do as my parents had done for me and set up our gifts for that special morning.  Here they came in all excited- I hold as a portrait in this movie playing - their faces when they rounded the corner.  It was priceless.  I had prayed and had lots of people praying I could enjoy this special, last visit with them and not cry.  He answers prayers-we had an incredible time together but when it came time to let go that last time was hard.  It was if part of my heart was being ripped out.  My incredible husband rode alone to take them back -  to spare me the pain.  I knew his heart was breaking too and we had cried many tears together but he was forever trying to protect my heart from any pain he could at this point.

The movie is in it's final scenes.  As I know I need to watch to the end last night- I'm hysterical.  I am crying so hard I am trying not to shake the bed so I will not wake up my husband.  I begin to pray the Lord will give me the peace only He can give me- peace He brings me whenever this movie is showing in the darkness of the night.  Here it comes...............
The Lord's gentle reminder that He asked us on this journey for reasons - some we know why and some we will only know in heaven.  However, a big smile comes to my face as I see "JG" and "JL" playing and laughing.  I am reminded of the miracle of it all.  Lots of things that I can not share here happened (due to our process to adopt the girls).,  One of them I can- "JG" was given medical treatment.  She did not have a rare disease that we were told would end her life just a few short years after she was to be officially "ours" but rather a simple problem that could be solved with medicine.  She was already becoming a different little girl the last time we saw her- the disabilities were being solved with therapy.  She was so much happier and smiled a lot.  Her quality of life would be different.
Before the credits were to play- the final scene.  One of my precious husband, me and the girls.  Mike is  praying over them - praying someone would water the seeds of His word in their life, asking Him to allow them to accept Him as Savior - so that even if not here on earth we were every joined together we would be in heaven.  The credits roll - although it is just one large groupings of words.  I strain to see what it says because I am falling in a deep sleep as I wrapped tightly in in the peace of God.  I can't read it - I am too sleepy and just then the Holy Spirit whispers in my ear- PRODUCED BY GOD THE FATHER PURCHASED WITH JESUS CHRIST AND ARRANGED BY THE HOLY SPIRIT................ the last picture rolls and it is Mike and I in heaven...........we are not's our girls!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Missing a Sunday

Sometime on Friday I realized the sickness I had somehow seemed to avoid, well it had caught up with me.  Two days later, I wake up and realize I am still not fully well.  So that means I will miss the main thing of my job.  You work all week to prepare for Sunday.  You look forward to seeing all your friends- young ones and young at heart.  When you don't see them it throws everything off.  It just doesn't seem right- all day, it just hasn't seemed right.

Missing a Sunday also means you must make phone calls and extra work on the Childhood Ministries staff.  I work with some incredible ladies and one awesome man who leads our kids each week in Worship.  Well to make a long story short- some of them had sicks kids and that creative and crazy man who leads worship was fighting sickness himself.  I appreciate each of you who made sense of a crazy morning and evening.  I am so thankful for you!

I missed seeing my church family today.  I missed my friend and colleague's 5th anniversary celebration (congrats Asble family!).  I missed seeing little faces excited to be in the incredible space God has blessed us with at First Baptist of Cleveland.  I missed being in God's house on God's day.  However, I am pretty sure it was best for my germs and myself to stay at home.  It will make me look forward to this coming Sunday even more.  

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Things we allow to estrange us from God

 You may remember that in January I attended a couple of conferences.  In clearing out a "stack of stuff" today, I found the notebook.  As I thumbed through the conference notebook, I came across one of the main session notes I took.  The speaker / preacher was Britt Merrick .  I am obviously paraphrasing but read some of his points from that day---- I pray you are encouraged and challenged.

  • We are valuable because we are loved by the Supreme One! 
  • In Ezekiel - we see idols estrange people from God....... we are estranged by much lesser things. 
  • Ask yourself- is He enough? 
  • Anywhere we find more joy than God it will estrange us.  
  • Christ is not a means to heaven but a treasure! 
I looked up the word estrange.  According to Webster's this verb means ....
  1.  to remove from customary environment or associations
  2.  to arouse especially mutual enmity or indifference in where there had formerly been love, affection,  or                  friendliness

The Synonym for estrange is alienate.  

Wow, am I saddened to think of the ways I let crazy, silly, stupid things estrange me from experiencing the fullness of God's love and grace.  May I allow the things to never alienate from all God wants me to experience until I receive my "treasure".  I remind you the treasure for one who has trusted Christ is HEAVEN!


Thursday, February 17, 2011

Just a pair of shoes..........

This week I have been reminded two things about a pair of shoes.........

First, is to remember you never know what a person is going through unless you've walked in their shoes.  I mean you just don't know.  You don't know what hurts and struggles they may be walking through and sometimes they don't know how to tell others they are having a hard time.  There are many reasons we don't share our struggles or even that we are at a point in our live that we need help.  When those who pass by us in the hall at church, work or at a ballgame could be experiencing a time in their life they may need a smile, an encouraging word, a friend to say "how can I help?", etc.  I've been reminded this week to ask the Holy Spirit to make me sensitive to His prompting me of when I think someone around me needs that smile, hug, kind word, offer to meet a need, extra prayers, etc.  I have asked God to forgive me for times I am too quick to judge those around me.  I've begged forgiveness for the times I have been too busy to realize when someone is hurting around me or even "hear" his whisper / prompt to reach out to others.

The second thing I was reminded this week about shoes is rather somber.  Did you know there are places in this world that a pair of shoes could not just change a child's life but a whole village?  A member of the team I am privileged to serve with shared this week of a pastor in Ethiopia.  When asked by a mission team from our church- what can we do to help you- what needs do you have?  His response was our kids need shoes.  The disease and illness that are spreading throughout our village is in part due to the children not having shoes (they are passing things along this way).  The children Pastor Sammy (I believe this was his name) ministers to everyday are not only being feed and educated but are hearing how their spiritual needs can be met as well.  I look forward to a project our Missions Pastor - Jake will be introducing in the near future to attempt to put shoes on every child in that village's feet.  I mean really- should this even be a need that we can't accomplish?  Although I have seen this first hand in Nicaragua as well, this week I was reminded of the poverty in Third World countries.  I don't know if I can even walk near my closet - first of all when I walk in my closet I am reminded this area could be doubled and be the size of an entire house in some areas of the world- I promise I've seen it.  Not even to begin to think I have so many shoes I can't even begin to count them all.

It is my prayer that the things the Lord has broken my heart over this week about shoes will not soon be forgotten.  I pray that when I go to my closet in the morning to decide which pair to wear- I will be lift up those around me hurting and ask the Lord to show me those I have no idea the path their shoes are walking right now- especially for those needing a kind word.  May I be faithful in giving to help Pastor Sammy cover Ethiopian children's feet with quality shoes as he continues to plant their feet in the truth of God's word.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Turning back time

Sometimes in life you wish you could turn back the clock. You want to begin a day or week again. This week has been one of those weeks. It started out a great week and I was sitting in staff meeting laughing and cutting up with the FBC team. Then Bro. Jim received a call and shared with us our friend and brother in Christ, C.C. Conway, had collapsed at work and was being taken to the hospital. The mood immediately moved to a very somber one. We prayed as a team. Bro. Tom, having just moved into the Pastoral Care role (having just retired after 25 years as music minister at FBC) headed to the hospital. We continued to go through the motions of staff meeting but our hearts were heavy as we awaited Bro. Tom's call to give us an update. I literally could not focus and really can't tell you much we discussed that day. Bro. Tom called and gave us the sad news that C.C. has passed away. As we all sat there, I believe we all experienced a range of emotions- most definitely beginning with shock. Many of us had seen and spoken to C.C. the night before at church. A man who is 44 years old and doesn't have health issues is not suppose to collapse and die. We ended staff meeting and many of us headed to the hospital. As I walked away the tears began to flow. Still five days later they are flowing freely.

My heart was heavy as I began to think of his precious family- his wife Keri, his sons Brandon and Sean and then I wept even harder as I thought of his little girl- Emily. I can't even imagine the heartache, pain and extreme grief they are experiencing now.

The Conway Family

This is one of my favorite pictures- although Brandon was not there and Emily's face is blurry. I love it because it took me back to the day it was taken. Oh how excited their family is (and was) about our new church. C.C.'s smile as he looked at all the Lord had blessed us with is one I will never forget. What a special day. What a special memory. As his family gathered for a meal after the funeral service in the very room they had written that scripture on the floor (before the carpet was layed), my heart smiled. What a memory for his precious family.

I also was sent messages from parents of children who had Mr. C.C. and Mrs. Keri as their mission teachers or Cubbie teachers. They shared how sad their kids were. They also shared of the great impact this couple has had on their child's spiritual development due to their faithfulness in serving.
My heart has also been heavy for C.C.'s mom and her husband- Mary and Maylon. His siblings- Joe, Julie and George. Each member of their family are walking through hard and sad days. Please continue to lift each of them up in prayer. As time moves forward, we often forget. Please don't.
I named this post "Turning back time" because at first I wanted to do just that - go back to early Monday morning. I wanted God to change the events of that morning. My pastors- Bro. Jim and Bro. Allan- shared that even though C.C. would never want to leave his family, friends or his church...... that he is with Jesus. I was gently reminded that the moment C.C. left this world, he saw Jesus face to face. Wow! What a day of celebration it was for him. I am so thankful for pastors who shared it is okay to be sad and grieve and we should do that as long as we need to do so. I know that grief is a process and am thankful for a family of faith who I know will continue to join together to love on and minister to this family for the "long haul."
Will you join me as a part of the family of faith who loves on the Conway's? Will you pray and as the Lord prompts you with specific ways to minister to the Conway family- will you do so? If you would like their address you can email me !
I am thankful for a family of faith but most importantly the hope we have in Jesus of eternal life.
My heart continues to be sad but I am thankful I will see my friend C.C. again one day!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Staff Leadership Development

Yes the setting for the Children's Pastor's Conference was gorgeous. Coronado Springs was beautiful. As I sat outside during a break the above picture was the view.
As I headed back inside- here are the three I passed. I will never cease to be amazed at the handiwork of Disney cast members. One of the sessions I attended was by Alan Nelson. It was on leadership development. You can go to his website and actually download the power point he shared with our class here!
Here are some of the things I took away and just reviewed tonight. It was a good review in light of the fact I am in the midst of praying through putting together some leadership teams for summer ministries.
  • Just because someone has a passion for ministry doesn't mean they can lead. Team them someone who can lead.
Wow- isn't this true. I think this is true of myself sometime. Some of the things I am passionate about I need help with someone who can help me get it accomplished. This makes me think of a conference session I listened to years ago from a Fellowship Church conference - Elevate. It talked of dreamers, developers and doers. Each team needs some of each.

He also spoke of Other People's Influence. He encouraged us to think about the following and reminded us we all need people with influence in our corner.
  • Power is a resource, tap it!
  • ID (identify) influencers.
  • Develop them! - Create a booster team! Empower them to cast a vision! Unleash them to run interference.
  • Get to know the gatekeepers.
Just think of those who influence others in your church. The people who motivate others and those who others follow. Find who they are and let them champion Children's Ministry. I love the thought of making them cheerleaders- I am thankful for these individuals in my own church who champion the area of ministries I am responsible for- what a blessing!

  1. Thou Shalt empower leadership.
  2. Thou Shalt ID others with influence gifts.
  3. Thou Shalt clearly define tasks and talents.
  4. Thou Shalt not micro-manage.
  5. Thou Shalt lead up (that thy ministry might be blessed).
  6. Thou Shalt do everything in teams.
  7. Thou Shalt not pursue trivia.
  8. Thou Shalt facilitate leadership training.
  9. Thou Shalt manage by wandering around.
  10. Thou Shalt not neglect thy soul.
Wow what great stuff!

I encourage you to check out conference websites, seminar speakers, etc. Often just because you can not attend the conference doesn't mean you can find session downloads, MP3s etc. Sometimes you can find these free or for a small fee. Personally I could be a conference junkie- I love conferences- the networking, the learning and the dreaming.
I also encourage you to network in your area with other Children's Ministers - you can share resources from conferences this way too! I am thankful for the Cleveland Children's Ministry Network - glad I can attend this month's lunch. If you don't have a network in your area- find an area that does or pray about beginning one in your area! I'm so thankful that Jonnie Shumate felt led to begin one in Cleveland. I'm also looking forward to attending the group in nearby Chattanooga when I can.
Have a blessed week as you look for those influencers, leaders and those with a passion at your place of ministry!

Monday, January 31, 2011

A Fun Spot!

Well this is the sign that I had to turn by to get to my condo while in Florida. So every day for a week in November and the two weeks I was gone this month, I drove by this sign. Sometimes several times. I started thinking............. A Fun Spot.
We all like to be in or at a fun spot. It also challenged me to think do the children who attend ministry activities and events - from Discovery Zone and Kid's Church and AWANA to big special events- think WOW! that was a lot of fun. I want them to leave thinking the spot / place they learn about Jesus amazing love for them is a really FUN spot to be.

Now, some of you are thinking I mean the amazing theme design at our new church. Although we are incredibly blessed at FBC of Cleveland and Joe's team did an amazing job, that is not what I am speaking about. Nope, not all. I am actually asking - are we making God's word and the truths found within His word FUN? It is my prayer that we as Children's Ministry leaders and teachers make God's word come alive, be exciting and they never walk away bored.

I was also challenged to think of my home- is it a Fun Spot?

The more I thought on "FUN SPOTS", I began to realize it is more than the spot. It is a feeling. Also being a fun spot is not just about fun- it is about love and feeling safe. It is a feeling of security and belonging. It is never having to wonder if you fit in and you never feel out of place. It doesn't mean it is always a bed of roses and can be interesting and even challenging. However, the people with you in this "spot" make it worth it and you love them. Most of all you can laugh and cry together. It is the place you can come running to in good times and bad. Some people call it their happy place.

Whatever the case- happy, fun, etc. Where is that place for you? Are you making the environment around you- be it home, work, school, etc. a FUN SPOT?

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Inspiring Creativity

One of the sessions I was blessed to be able to attend while at the Children's Pastor's Conference while in Orlando was the Disney Institute called INSPIRING CREATIVITY.

This is me and our instructor, Austin Brock. She did an amazing job of applying the class topic for Children's ministers. This is one thought she shared on creativity.....

When they are researching a new idea they gather lots of cast members together. They include people from many different departments. They all get in the same room and begin to dream. They think about how to touch all the senses. At Disney they want to submerge guests into the Disney magic and make it real. Guess what? In the church we want to submerge children into God's word. We want to make it real. What a challenge for the church!
I'll share more in the days ahead of things I learned from this one session. But I'll leave you with a quote from Walt Disney-
"Every child is born blessed with a vivid imagination. But just as muscle grows flabby with disuse, so the bright imagination of a child pales in later years if he ceases to exercise it."

I encourage parents to provide many opportunities for your children to imagine!

Being on the same page..........

Well one thing I was reminded of at the conferences I attended was making sure you are communicating effectively. Sometimes you think you are, but you realize you are not on the same page. This can be frustrating for everyone involved. I thought this picture clearly illustrated this tip............... Minnie Mouse misunderstood when planting BUTTERCUPS in her flower pot. If you will notice from the picture above she literally has CUPS OF BUTTER! Not quite the same!

At first I thought - Minnie Mouse sure is silly. Then I stopped and thought of all the times I thought I had communicated clearly .... only to find out later I was not so clear. Well this is definitely one of the areas of my life I need to work at harder. How about you?

Note: This picture was taken in Minnie's house in Toon Town at Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World (Orlando, Florida). If you are a Disney may have heard Toon Town will soon be gone........forever. They are making way for the expansion at Fantasy Land and as of right now there are no plans to put Toon Town somewhere else. Sad, I know. So you may see lots of pictures in the future because I took lots since it is disappearing from my favorite place on earth.

Friday, January 21, 2011

I am alive.................

I realized, while sitting here at the airport, that I posted about the excitement I felt as I prepared to attend the Children's Pastor's Conference in Orlando. And then I kinda left you hanging.......... Well I went non stop on the full days at the conference and on the one day that wasn't full I had to go make sure Mickey wasn't missing me too much!

Well and when that conference ended another one began- Rec Lab. Many of you know I have have attended this conference since seminary (this was my 16th Rec Lab). It was filled with incredible fellowship, sessions and worship and sermons that seemed to be tailor made just for me. Isn't it awesome when God does that?

I stayed over a day - when you fly the cheap airline you have to fly on days they do (Monday and Friday). I will tell you more about Allegiant Airline in another post- if possible I will not fly out of Chattanooga on another airline but Allegiant.

I have missed Mike something terrible. I have done a lot of people watching and talking to myself- yes out loud. It is just what you do when you are by yourself this many days. Funny thing I was to the point of starting to talk back -oops- so great thing I am departing today, huh!

I will begin to post next week on what all I learned, saw, experience and some of the things God whispered to me while I was away. I will also share some of the people God used so I could learn, see, experience and hear from him.

In the mean time............. I hope to see you at the Family Swim Party tomorrow night at the YMCA if you leave in Cleveland or close to Cleveland.

Guess what I just heard??? It is possible there is more snow coming to my little town next week and the next. Oh WOW! I may never flush ice again (you know that is suppose to help it snow! )

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Children's Pastor's Conference

Well it is finally here. I have wanted to attend CPC for a while - several years- but it has just never worked out. I am excited but also a little nervous. Not sure what to expect but anxious to find out. I have heard so many great things about this conference. What am I looking forward to? Here are few things....................

1. Worship
2. Conferences that give me new ideas
3. Conferences that help me strengthen areas of weakness for me personally and professionally
4. Resource / Vendor area
5. Seeing people I know
6. Making new friends
7. my first conference held at DISNEY

Well that is a lot and I could keep going but I won't. Needless to say I can't wait. I am about to eat lunch and head out. I want to get checked in and look over the schedule and classes. Well I have done that a zillion times based on the stuff online but I know it can change. I am also going to attend the first time attendee orientation. We start with a general session, eat dinner together and well since I am at Disney............. I will probably stop by a park as I leave. Oh yes, the Resource Area opens this afternoon too. So I will definitely stop by there. I hope I am not disappointed but I will be honest I have high expectations.

Well folks...............I had better get my bag ready (packed with my video camera and my camera)- yes I am a nerd! :0 But hey, there is nothing like seeing things and experiencing them through the eyes / lens as a first time attendee. I can't wait to tell you if it was all I thought it was going to be! I would appreciate your prayers in that these few days will be life changing, they will bring me closer to God, I will hear clearly what He desires for me to hear and I will go back home with a clear vision for FBC Childhood Ministries!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Christmas Present to myself!

My New Tervis Tumbler
(mine has my name on it)

This Christmas I purchased Tervis Tumblers personalized with their name for the ladies I work with at church in Childhood Ministries. I decided I needed one too! Well, I am not sure how I have never been exposed to these nifty tumblers before but oh my! I am in love. A deep love relationship has begun. I mean how in the world have I not know about these before? Especially because my mom thinks I am a gadget person (like my father). It's true if he is the gadget King well I am the queen. I think that is why I love Pampered Chef stuff so much (thanks Jackie for the awesome party last night!)

Well a friend told me - knowing I like deals and coupons- to go to Bed, Bath and Beyond and take a 20% off coupon and purchase one from there too! She says they have all different kinds. Oh my this could become an addiction.

My most favorite feature is it does not sweat- thus does not leave rings. Woo Hoo! Mike laughs at how long I can make a drink last. However, the problem is sometimes it does not stay cold. Well this solves that problem. I purchased the 16 oz. tumbler but want to get one a little bigger. I also love that they are dishwasher safe!
Where have you found good deals on the Tervis Tumblers?

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

I'll Hold You In Heaven Remembrance Book

I wanted to share with you a book that I pray you never have a need for in your life or circle of friends and family. However, I know that many of you, especially if you are a Minister to Children, will have times when you will need to pass along this resource to a family who has lost a baby. The book is I'll Hold You in Heaven Remembrance Book by Debbie Heydrick.

It states this books if for "Those who have experienced the loss of hopes and dreams through the untimely death of their baby, those who have had to say "Good-bye" before really having the chance to say "Hello", Those who knew of their baby's existence for but a few hours, days, weeks or months, yet grew in love with their child in great hope and anticipation of this treasured life., Those ho held their child for only a brief moment and for those who never had the chance., Those who have experienced closure in the loss and for all those who have had little or no real closure at all., May you now hear the words your heart longs to hear and truly experience the hope, comfort and peace that Christ has for you."

A while back I began to search for a resource to help those couples who had experienced the loss of a baby before it was born or shortly after it was born. Although there is not a whole lot of resources I have found this is one of the best I have found. It provides words of encouragement from someone who has walked the same path. It offers the truths of God's word so you can hang onto His love and truth during this difficult time. It provides space to journal if you decide to do so. It also helps you find ways to remember your child.

I have began to pass these along to couples when they experience loss. Sadly today was one of those days. I encourage couples to set the book aside until you are ready to look through it. For some it will be the day they receive it and for others it may take a while. Grief is a journey and for two people it never looks the same. I encourage you to continue to lift up the Ryan and Keenon as they are in the beginning days of grieving. As the days and weeks move ahead for the rest of us, please don't stop praying for them. I encourage you to visit their blog HERE ! You can read about the celebration of Sam's life on their blog this coming Saturday at our church- First Baptist Cleveland . It is my prayer that even if you do not know this family our church will be HIS hands and feet this Saturday morning as we come out to love on them. Isn't it great to be a part of the family of God?

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Baby Sam Passed Away .........Please Pray

Yesterday I asked you to pray for the Hulton family. First time parents Ryan and Keenon welcomed baby Sam on Christmas Eve. Baby Sam was born 4 months premature. This morning Sam passed away. Please pray for this couple as they grieve the loss of their son.

They have shared their journey here and I encourage you to leave them a comment. If you would like to drop them a card please email me ( and I will send you their mailing address. I would ask you to shower this family with prayers today and in the days ahead. I also ask you to either leave them a comment on their blog or to send them a card to let them know they are being lifted up.

It is my prayer the peace of God surrounds Ryan and Keenon and Christ holds them close. It is my prayer that the body of Christ holds them up through prayer. I also pray that the body of Christ called First Baptist Cleveland expresses in many ways the love of God not just today but in the many hard days ahead.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Praying for Sam

I wanted to take the opportunity to ask you to pray for a new addition to FBC's Childhood Ministry family. He was born on Christmas Eve ....... 4 months premature. He is a fighter and his parents are troopers. Please join me in praying for Sam. You can follow his journey here !

I would encourage you as you pray and read their updates to also leave them a comment. Many of us have experienced times when we know that God's people are lifting us up. It is also encouraging to hear / read notes from those doing so. So please even if you don't know them or are not a part of FBC........take a moment to lift them up and leave them a note letting them know you have done so.

FBC Childhood Ministries Email 1.1.11

First Baptist Church Childhood Ministries Happy New Year - 1st email of 2011