100 Days

As I was wrapping up our school week recording grades, attendance and filing papers, I realized that it was our 100th day of school for the year! Due to all the preparation for our Bible conference this weekend, I hadn’t even noticed. If I had been paying attention, we would have done something special. Then I realized that hosting a British preacher and hearing about life in England and Italy (where he currently lives), has been pretty special. Bro. Nixon and his wife graciously brought us Italian goodies, which we have devoured, and souvenirs, which we will treasure always. His sermon on Wednesday night was such a blessing to my heart, and to the children’s hearts. The truth is, I couldn’t have chosen a better, more fantastic way to celebrate 100 days of learning if I’d tried!

I did manage to take a picture to memorialize the occasion, though. I asked them show me “excited”, and this is what I got:

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Yep. Crazy, aren’t they? We know which side of the family that comes from don’t we? (wink wink)

I hate to rush off, but I have so much to do. I’ve got Cream Cheese Chicken Chili in the crock pot, a blueberry crunch cake in the oven and lots more to do before our services tonight. And I can’t wait to get to the Lord’s house!

Thanks for dropping by. Lord willing, I’ll be back Monday.

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Vintage Valerie: The Man I Love

In honor of  “Throw Back Thursday”, I’d like to share some photos of the man I love. More specifically, photos of the man I love, doing what he loves – preaching. We are preparing for our Bible conference which begins tomorrow night at 7 PM (if you’re in the area, please come by!), which has me thinking a lot about ministry life. We have been involved in either part-time or full-time ministry since we were married seventeen years ago. Here is a look back at our pastoral ministry which spans the last decade:

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A very grainy photo of my young (age 25!) preacher-husband, while preaching in view of a call in Louisiana, Missouri. We didn’t get the vote, which was devastating for our little family. We had been misled by a pastor in Kansas, and were basically left high and dry. We clung to the hope that this church would be the place for us. It was not God’s will. But God never let us down, even though men did. We never missed a meal and kept a roof over our heads despite earning only $13,000 for the entire year! This was also right before my dad died suddenly.

As I look back, my heart is overwhelmed with how God has loved us, cared for us, and led us. The Lord spent so much time with us, teaching us to let go of our own desires and cling to His. God used that time in our lives for much good and I am truly grateful.

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After many years of waiting, praying and hoping, he finally became a pastor on October 11, 2005! Here he is at the pulpit of Northside Baptist Church in Burnet, Texas.

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Here we are – two very excited parents with our three children: Lauren, 6; Mitchell, 3; Leslie, 5 months. We could not have been more thrilled! A dream had come true.

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Our auditorium in Texas.

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In April of 2008, the Lord moved us to Grace Baptist Church in Hope, Arkansas. We learned so much there through many valleys, but again, God was faithful. We are a work-in-progress and want to be willing to stay on the wheel as the Potter molds and shapes us.

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Grace Baptist Church auditorium.

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Here he is today, as pastor of Bethel Baptist Church in Lawton, Oklahoma. As I look at the photo above, I can’t help but get a little teary-eyed. He was a great man when he began his journey ten years ago, but he’s even greater today. The Lord is purging him, refining him, making him more and more into the image of His Son.

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This verse seems appropriate to describe my husband:

For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!

1 Corinthians 9:16

I love you, Terry, and I love the Gospel that you preach. I count it an honor to be a fellow-laborer in this great work. I pray we have many more years to serve the Lord together.

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We Pray God’s Blessings

This is a very big week for us. This evening, a friend of ours is flying into Oklahoma from Italy to preach for our Bible conference. Bro. Adam Nixon has blessed us through his preaching already, which we have enjoyed listening to online. Bro. Nixon is a friend of a friend and we are thrilled to be meeting him in person. The Internet has its pitfalls, but it also has the potential for great good, and hearing Bible preaching is the best kind of good!

Our conference begins on Friday and goes through Sunday. One thing we know for sure, prayer is the key to living the Christian life. We have been praying for this meeting for weeks now, and we are continuing to do so. We are praying that God will bless the preaching. We are praying that all will be healthy and able to attend, and that all who are coming will have safety in their travels. Most of all, we are praying that hearts (especially my own) will be open and receptive to the message that God has for us. We are praying that if any should come under the preaching who are not born again, that God will open their eyes to that reality and they will be birthed into His kingdom. But whatever happens, we are grateful. We are thankful to be in this place, doing this work. We leave the results in the Lord’s capable hands.

I may be away from the blog for a few days due to the busy-ness of the week, but Lord willing, it won’t be long. I am already making plans for an exciting series for the month of March. I hope you’ll join me!

Words cannot begin to express how much I appreciate your being here. I hope my little ministry is a blessing, because you are a blessing to me. I love hearing your stories and knowing that there are other sisters (and brothers) in Christ striving to serve God all over the nation, and the world.

With love,

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The Beauty of the Sound

My son loves to play the piano. He practices for a couple of hours a day, without ever being told. All of our children are required to take piano lessons beginning at age nine. They must play until we feel that have reached a basic level of understanding, then, they can choose another instrument to learn, or quit. Mitch loves classical music, but we also rely on him to be our standby pianist when our regular virtuoso is out of town.

He has been working hard on learning to play hymns, and yesterday morning, he played one which immediately captured my imagination. It’s amazing how a song can do that! In just a few measures of melody, I was taken back in time to when I was about nine years old. I was in the old church building of Victory Baptist Church in Benton, Arkansas, standing next to my dad. I could smell his cologne and the scent of leather. I could hear voices of my past, joining together in praise to God. The song we often sang was “I Am Resolved”. That’s what Mitch played.

“I am resolved, no longer to linger, charmed by the world’s delight.
Things that higher, things that are nobler, these have allured my sight.
I will hasten to Him, hasten so glad and free,
Jesus, greatest, highest, I will come to thee.”

Of course, I had to come back to reality. (Sometimes I worry that one day I’ll take a “trip back” and never return. At least I’ll be in a good place, if that does happen.) I smiled as my son played, my husband sang on the platform, my girls were next to me – just like I was to my dad – and the voices of the present filled the air as we joined together in praise to God. It’s a beautiful sound, hearing the saints of God sing praise to their Savior. I think it’s a little taste of Heaven on Earth.

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Little By Little

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My daughter, Leslie, is committing this poem to memory in her fourth grade school work. I just love it, and I wanted to pass it along. Whether you’re familiar with it or not, I hope you enjoy it.

 

Little By Little
Anonymous

“Little by little,” an acorn said,
As it slowly sank in its mossy bed,
“I am improving every day,
Hidden deep in the earth away.”

Little by little, each day it grew;
Little by little, it sipped the dew;
Downward it sent out a thread-like root;
Up in the air sprung a tiny shoot.

Day after day, and year after year,
Little by little the leaves appear;
And the slender branches spread far and wide,
Till the mighty oak is the forest pride.

Far down in the depths of the dark blue sea,
An insect train works ceaselessly.
Grain by grain, they are building well,
Each one alone in its little cell.

Moment by moment, and day by day,
Never stopping to rest or play,
Rocks upon rocks, they are reaching high,
Till the top looks out on the sunny sky.

The gentle wind and the balmy air,
Little by little, bring verdure there;
Till the summer sunbeams gaily smile
On the buds and the flowers of the coral isle.

“Little by little,” said a thoughtful boy,
“Moment by moment, I’ll well employ,
Learning a little every day,
And not spending all my time in play.
And still this rule in my mind shall dwell,
Whatever I do, I will do it well.

“Little by little, I’ll learn to know
The treasured wisdom of long ago;
And one of these days, perhaps, we’ll see
That the world will be the better for me”;
And do you not think that this simple plan
Made him a wise and useful man?

It’s been a long week for me, and I admit I’ve had some discouraging moments. I pray that God will help me to learn to trust Him even when His face seems hidden. This poem reminds me that the moments add up, and I can use each one – even the difficult ones – for Him. I hope you have a wonderful weekend. Thank you for visiting my online home. See you soon, Lord willing!

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Vintage Valerie: A Texas “Snow” Day

I haven’t lived anywhere that was as warm all year long as central Texas.  It was a real bummer to cook Thanksgiving dinner in 90 degree heat. The winters were mild, and, for someone who enjoys all four seasons, this was a disappointment. We didn’t really get snow, but occasionally we got sleet and ice. We’ve had a mild winter here this year, too. In fact, it’s reminding me of Texas! But today, the temperatures are low enough to give us some sleet outside – nothing like the pictures I’m sharing, but it reminded me of this exciting day, back in early 2007.

We had a large area to mow when we pastored in Burnet, Texas. When we got an unexpected ice storm, Terry rigged up the church’s riding lawn mower to a homemade sled and took the kids for a ride. I managed to grab my camera and dash outside to take a few snapshots. As I recall, I didn’t even put a coat on, so the pictures were quick. I was caring for four young children, two of whom were in diapers. Snapping photos was low on my list of priorities back then. At least I have a few memories from those busy days which are now mostly a blur.

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Mitchell enjoying his turn.

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Riding together is so much better.

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I love Lauren’s face in this one!

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Hang on!

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Leslie was only 18 months old, so she just went out to pose for photos.

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Daddy, AKA, the “chauffeur”, with two of his passengers.

Thank you for joining me for a trip back in time!

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Sunrise in the City

I have seen some gorgeous photos of sunrises and sunsets. The most beautiful ones seem to come from the desert or the mountains. But right here in town, I have seen some lovely sunrises and sunsets. They have been scarce this winter, though. We’ve had weeks of cloudy skies. Those are days when daylight comes, but it seems that dawn skips us. I made it home from my walk this past Monday, January 19, 2015, just in time to see a lovely sunrise. I grabbed my Nikon and tried to snap some photos, but sunrises don’t dawdle, so I didn’t have much time to perfect the shots by changing the settings. I did as many as I could, and tweaked them a bit using Photoshop Elements. Here are my results:

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This view is from my backyard. I love the way the sun is beaming brightly at the base of this sycamore tree.

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This is from my front yard.

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My settings weren’t quite right on this one, so I darkened it a bit to make a silhouette shot. I like the way it turned out. I love the fiery glow of the sun in the distance.

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A few pastels as the sun rose higher and higher.

Sunrises represent the beginning of a new day, new potential and new hope. They shout to us that we have awoken to another day, a witness to God’s handiwork all around us through His glorious creation. We see the sun in its place, doing its job, and we know that God is in control. It is an awesome and exciting thing to be a part of this life!

We will probably have more cloudy days before winter is over – in fact, we have one today! On those days, I can take a look at my photos and be reminded all over again of God’s faithfulness, His promises and His love.

While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease. ~ Genesis 8:22

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