PRAISE YOU IN THIS STORM

5 days before we left for Belize, the spiritual attacks started … and they haven’t stopped. For 3 1/2 months the weight of attack has borne down on us. One thing after another. We think we recover and another attack is waiting in the shadows, only to have its ugly head rear up again. Attack. New attack. Same ol’ attack … it’s felt never ending.

By Monday the attacks were too much to bear. Staying in bed seemed the best thing to do. “If I don’t get up,” I told myself, “Satan can’t find me.” As Tuesday rolled around, staying in bed not only wasn’t working, it wasn’t an option. I had to run some errands. I had to get away. I got in the car and just drove. I turned on a playlist of songs that I hoped would help. Christian songs that would give me a good cry and maybe cheer me up. First up was “On My Knees” by Jaci Velasquez. It had helped me out in my college days when my dad had his stroke and I was feeling helpless. Next was “All Because of Christ.” It has helped me the last two years when I felt overwhelmed:

Because of Christ I’m not forsaken
Because of Christ I’m not alone
… I will stand and see it through
I will stay the course and make it home.
If my heart is overwhelmed with peace in the storm
It’s all because of Christ

The next song was Newsboys “When the Tears Fall.” A song that always allows me to cry out (literally) to the Lord. It reminds me that the Lord is faithful, even when hope is lost and pain surrounds. He will be the song within my heart, even in sorrow. He surrounds me and sustains me, even when the tears fall.

The last song on the playlist was “Praise You In This Storm” by Casting Crowns. All the other songs on the list are songs I can sing just about anytime, but this one is so specific. I save it for the times I really feel overwhelmed and alone. When it started to play, I was driving around my favorite neighborhood … which just happened to be under construction. Ugh. At every turn, I was detoured. As “I was sure by now, God, that you would reach down and wipe the tears away, stepped in and saved the day” rang out, I got turned around. Then “but once again, I say ‘amen’ and it’s still raining” began to play and my sense of satisfaction was gone. More roadblocks. Determine I would make the best of it, I drove around some more. And just as “I barely hear you whisper through the rain ‘I’m with you’” began, I chuckled to myself as the rain literally began to fall. Sprinkles on my windshield turned into big drops of rain. As I listened to the song and pulled over, the rain washed over the car and I sang out

I will praise you in this storm
I will lift my head
For You are who You are no matter where I am
Every tear I cry You hold in Your hand
You never left my side
And though my heart is torn, I will praise You in this storm

The storms didn’t stop. In fact, as I drove north to go home, the rains got heavier and heavier. I lost visibility for a brief moment. “My strength is almost gone how can I carry on if I can’t find You?” The windshield wipers were on full blast as I heard “I lift my eyes up to the hills, where does my help come from?” play loudly on the speakers. “My help comes from the Lord, maker of Heaven and earth” (Psalms 121:1-2).

The storms of life don’t stop. Sometimes God allows them to, but often times they still rain down on us. Even when we cry out to Him. But how will we respond when the flood waters come and seem to overtake us? Will we praise the One who gives and takes away?

As I turned onto our street, the skies opened up and the sun shone through. As quickly as the storm moved over me, it was gone. And the final song that played as I pulled into the garage was “It Is Well.” I resigned myself that even in the storms, it is well. It is well because Christ is with me. No matter the storm, I will praise Him.

10 THINGS WE WANT YOU TO KNOW: From the hearts of Pastors’ Wives

Over the course of nearly 4 months I asked 25 wives of pastors, “What is one thing you would like people to know about your husband who is/was a pastor? What is one thing you want people to know about you or your family, as the wife of a pastor?” The following are the answers I received. 

 

My husband is a regular person, with the same struggles as anyone

“His calling is not anything supernatural that would make him non-human.  He reads the same Bible that a layperson does.  He has the same struggles as everyone but has to push those struggles aside to minister to his sheep.  Unfortunately, he has to live in a glass house along with his family and everything is on display and sometimes judged.  Overall, I wouldn’t trade the calling due to any side effects.  It’s his heart and I love that.”

“Be a friend to them!  Get to know them outside of church.  We’re people just like non-staffers … we have feelings and off-days and crazy imperfect children.  Let us “take off the mask” at church and be real.  It doesn’t do anybody any good to think pastors and wives are perfect and should be put on a pedestal.  That’s just asking for trouble!”

“They are human, too, and will make mistakes … People put the pastor on a pedestal and think he is perfect then when he messes up, they are hurt and blame the Lord and the church.”

“No need for people to hide the beer and pull out a Bible when pastor/PW come over.  We are regular people who talk about regular things.”

 

He needs to be encouraged

“I think what I would want others to know about [my husband] the most is … he needs encouragement.  What he does is fulfilling and has countless joy-filled moments, but on a weekly basis, the sounds of discouragement are deafening and come from every side and fight to drown out the joy.  I think people assume he is constantly surrounded by encouragement, but that’s not the case.  I have seen him melt into tears with one text from someone who simply said, “I know what you do is hard, but you’re changing lives.”  One sentence gave new breath to his lungs and momentum to keep fighting.  You need your pastor, but he needs you, too.”

“I would say encourage them both.  Criticism is easier (for whatever reason) for people to say out loud and, true statements or not, it hurts.  So, ENCOURAGE your pastor and his family.”

 

My husband is lonely

“I have seen my husband surrounded by many people but still feel lonely and isolated.”

“In general, pastors and wives know a ton of people, but have very few, if any, actual friends to hang out with.  Most of our relationships are very one sided and people drop you when they don’t need you anymore.”

 

… and so am I

“I would say just a reminder that we are no different than anyone else!  One of the things that I love about [this church] is how included they have made us feel.  I’ve always appreciated being invited to dinner and just hanging out outside of church functions.  Our family has moved several times so it’s easy to feel awkward, so it helps to have church members that are intentional about including us!”

“As a Pastor’s Wife, I have no idea where I fit in at church.  I don’t really have a group we fit into; I always feel different.”

“When a new pastor enters the church, everyone wants to befriend him and his family.  We are inundated with requests for meals, Sunday lunches, help moving in, help taking our kids to the nursery.  It is helpful but can also be overwhelming.  Especially since it’s not the norm.  6 months from now, no one is asking to take us to lunch and hardly anyone is asking to help take our kids to their class.  Sundays are hard!  We crave a lunch out. We need friendly face when we walk in the church door.  Especially the pastor’s wife.  Our husband most likely has not been available all morning which means not only getting 3 kids dressed for church alone, but arriving alone and taking kids by herself to church.  We still need help getting our kids to class (ya know, those kids who were probably here at church just 12 hours ago because Dad was fixing something at church and mom prepared a picnic supper just so she could see him on his one day off?)  Ask us again in 6 months to a meal or to watch the kids or just to take the kids to class.  It would mean so much.”

 

It’s not just a job, it’s his/our life

“[My husband] feels very deeply but you wouldn’t always know it.  He wants good for people and for the church.  I would also say that (whether he should or not) he takes criticism (good and bad) very personally and seriously.  And most often it’s negative.  He constantly hears when things aren’t going well or when things don’t go ‘like they should.’  I would second what [others have] said—encourage them!  If there is something that needs to be addressed, go about it in a constructive, loving way and search out the Biblical truth about the matter and share it with him personally.

Just because we are under 30 and are the “youth” leaders does not mean we should be treated as youth.  My husband often does not feel respected as a leader.  Especially by members who are older than he is.  They are always ‘well-intentioned,’ but they come to him like they would come to a student who needs their guidance or passive aggressively through anonymous notes, through the grapevine, or through the deacons … [bring] it to him in a loving, respectful, Biblical way.”

“His heart is true.  [He] loves serving Jesus wherever [God] has us, be it in a pulpit or pew.”

“I want people to know that he always encourages everyone he spends any time with and will make them laugh.  Since I was in the 5th grade, I knew I wanted to marry a minister and I love serving people.”

“Not that long ago, a hard decision had to be made.  It was something that my husband and I prayed over non-stop for hours.  Someone in the church did not like what was decided.  They pulled me aside to tell me that my husband was great at his job, but I was a hinderance to his ministry.  He could be great, but I was in the way.  This didn’t just crush me.  It devasted me.  She was a trusted friend and volunteer throughout the church.  I didn’t get out of bed for days.  I never imagined anything like this ever happening and I began to re-evaluate everything I do as a Pastor’s Wife.  Shortly after, my husband and I attended a pastor’s conference.  One of the speakers talked about how pastors and their families don’t get stabbed in the back just once.  Sometimes it’s the small things (questioning his authority or not being involved in events or disregarding Godly council or criticizing a sermon) that add up and kill you slowly.  It’s ‘death by 1,000 cuts.’  He talked about how families in ministry have much in common with the military and have shown signs of PTSD.  Both careers have a high suicide rate, people suffer from depression and anxiety.  They are both high-stress jobs that face the living and the dead on a daily basis.  Both feel that you have to save others, or you have failed.  It’s not just a job.  It’s our life.”

“There are days I question why we are here and for how much longer.  Then the Lord brings to mind a time where we helped someone or someone texts to say they are praying or us.  This job is not for the weary or faint-of-heart.”

“For us personally, our entire life is revolved around church.  The only time we can get a break is when we are physically out of town with phones off.  So, when hurt happens at church, it affects who we are.  It shakes us because we are so deeply invested.”

 

I am his wife, not his secretary

“I don’t think people should come to me with complaints or ‘suggestions’ for my husband.  I am on my husband’s side and this goes back to talking to him with a loving, Biblical truth if you feel it needs to be addressed.”

“Pastors’ wives have feelings.  It’s very hurtful when people come up and complain about my pastor husband, letting me know how something should have been handled instead of the way it was handled by my pastor husband.”

“… people complaining to the wife about her husband.  Why do people do that?  I smile and nod and say ‘nope’ when they walk away.  I will not be their messenger person.”

“[My husband doesn’t share everything that goes on in the church with me.]  When a church member starts asking me lots of questions that I can’t answer, it is frustrating to us both [husband & wife].  If a church member has a question, they really need to ask him!  At our last church, there were many members who wanted to use me as a “go between” and it was very frustrating.  They’d ask me to tell him ‘X’ or ask him about ‘Y’, and I had no frame of reference for what X or Y was, because he had not shared with me any of the conversations between those members and himself.”

“I’m not his secretary or yours.  He is my husband and my pastor.  If there is something that you need an answer to or he offends you, don’t come to me.  It’s unfair to ask me to get in your business and it’s unfair for you to interfere with my marriage, because what happens is, he gets upset with me for being the messenger.  Don’t ask me to get involved.”

 

Wife.  Family.  Church

“[It has] always been important to me to keep the home fires burning while my husband leads the sheep.  I have never felt ashamed or guilty for not attending every event that happens at church.  My calling was my children and home and then the church.  I don’t have to answer to the church folks.  I have to answer to God and what He calls me to do.  A pastor’s wife is one of the greatest joys of my life and one of the hardest times of life, but I wouldn’t trade it.  Be yourself and nothing more.”

“For me, I’d say I would like people to know I’m doing my best but know I fall short in meeting expectations.  Sometimes I introduce myself to people I’ve already met because I’m meeting new people all the time.  Sometimes I don’t go to all the weddings my husband officiates because my kids have things going on and need me.  Sometimes I just need a break from church events, not because I’m a slacker, but because my mental and physical health need a break.”

“We are first a wife and mother and we aren’t supposed to do everything at church.  We have our talents.  We all aren’t teachers, pianists, or singers!  I was actually told one time at a church after they had called [my husband] as pastor that the pastor’s wife is supposed to play the piano.  I told them they would have to rescind their vote because I didn’t [play]!  [He] always tells the church when he goes in view-of-a-call that he is the one being hired, not his family.  That we are a bonus.”

“It always killed me that my kids were blamed for things.  They were there with all the other kids, but said parishioner was just positive my kid started something or broke something or dinged a brand-new car in the parking lot (true story).”

“About PKs-They’re not perfect.  But I do make a great effort to make sure they behave.  But they’re just kids.  Their little minds aren’t a Bible app that can just pull any verse or story out at a moment’s notice.  They are also not your source for family gossip about the pastor or his wife.  Don’t pump them for information.”

“As a pastor’s wife, there are a few things I have wanted to share

  1. Just because I’m married to a pastor, it doesn’t mean I’m comfortable leading ladies’ Bible study or playing piano for the congregation (I mean, I’ll do it, but I won’t be comfortable doing it!)
  2. My husband does NOT share everything with me!  So, just because he knows what is going on, it doesn’t mean that I know what is going on.  He takes confidentiality very seriously! 

 

I am just a person

“I think probably, if I were to narrow it down, I would want people to know that their pastor is also my pastor.  We do have that in common.  But their pastor is also my husband and that is something they often don’t get.  So, complaining to me about their pastor means complaining to me about my husband.  That is often soul crushing.”

“… we shouldn’t be viewed as having it all together.  Sometimes I need someone to pour into me since I am usually pouring into other people.”

“I ‘took off my mask’ a long time ago because it was too exhausting to pretend.  I didn’t want to feed the lie that I had to be or do certain things as a staff wife.”

“I’m just a person.  I watch movies and TV shows I probably shouldn’t.  I have trouble keeping my mind pure when I’m frustrated.  I struggle just like you do.  I just happen to be married to the man who stands before the congregation on Sunday.  But know that he’s speaking just as much to me as he is to anyone else listening.

“Sundays are my most stressful day with having to look a certain way, make sure my kids look properly groomed, and are behaving properly.  As an introvert, I do a lot of peopling on Sunday.  Hugging and shaking hands can be overstimulating if I’ve had a bad week.  So, I take Mondays off.  Having grown up as a PK, in the fishbowl, my privacy is important to me.  Call or text before you stop by.  Give me a minute to pull myself and my house together before dropping in on me to see ‘how we really live.’  Basically, give me the same respect you would want others to give you.”

 

He loves the church and puts her above himself

“He works just as a hard as a pastor as he does at his 9-5 job.  He overworks actually.”

“Sunday is sacred!  Sunday morning is not the time to ask him to do whatever pops in your head.  He does not need to remember prayer requests, visits, meetings, etc.  If he is preparing for a sermon, then he needs to be focused on that.  Text him on Monday if you have a need.”

“A pastor is always ‘on call’.  Not only do they rarely get the opportunity to turn their brain off because they are always looking for sermon illustrations, praying, or serving, but their phone rings at all times of the day and night.  There was one night in December that my family had finished supper and my husband had been working late almost every night that week.  He told us all to get bundled up so we could go look at Christmas lights.  He & I stood in the kitchen making enough hot chocolate for us all.  Right as we were loading children into the car, someone called from jail to talk to him.  He spent half an hour on the phone talking and praying with this man while our young kids waited with their now cold chocolate.  That is just one of MANY examples of what a pastor sacrifices for the church.”

“One thing I really want people to know about pastoral ministry is how it is ‘all in.’  I’ve been part of a pastor’s family all my life, so I know if from a child’s perspective and as the wife.  Pastors will put their own families on the back burner and miss important events in their lives in order to minister to others (whether they are church members or not!).  Even on a ‘normal’ week, there is so much behind-the-scenes that goes on.  I’ve heard it said that pastors are always ‘working’ in their minds … they might be changing the oil in the car, but they might be thinking about the sermon.  So, it is hard to even separate ‘work’ from ‘life.’  One issues that he has had lately is a person who decided expository preaching was not what she enjoyed, and she tried to convince [my husband] to do topical sermons or ‘hell & brimstone’ sermons.  So, to that, I would say, ‘God is the one Who gives the pastor the words from the Word (or at least God should be the one, if the pastor is seeking God!!!).’”

 

I love the church.  The church is my family

“I have been around pastor’s wives who didn’t like talking to people and ‘getting messy.’  Both pastor and wife were unapproachable.  I’ve taken on a role I never imagined taking on.  I’ve had to counsel with ladies whose husbands have had an affair, sat in the waiting room with a wife as her husband is dying, and held a mother as her family member has gone to jail.  I’ve led children to Christ and helped parents grow in their faith. Sharing the gospel and life together with our fellow believers is such a blessing, even though at times it can be exhausting.  Following God is rarely easy, but it’s always rewarding.”

“Not long ago a lady sent me a scathing text because I had not done enough to try to ‘get her back to church’ once she stopped coming.  I had reached out to her several times, and I knew she was lashing out at me as a result of a host of other painful circumstances in her life.  I knew all that.  But the fact that she felt I had let her down weighed heavy on me for months.  I think I’d just like people to know … I desperately want to never ever let them down, but I’m going to because there is nothing extraordinary about me.  I fail a lot … my husband, my kids, myself.  And yet somehow, Jesus has called me to this anyway.  I’m going to fall short, but I’m also going to keep trying … It’s such a difficult gig we have!  Everything we do is for people, and yet, people hurt us the most.”

“We are brothers and sisters in Christ first, church members second, paid staff or married to paid staff or child of paid staff last.  Church isn’t a business, it is a family.  We have a hard time trusting due to how some people in the church are so quick to kick out its family members because they don’t like how they preach, don’t like how they visit or don’t visit, don’t like the clothes they wear, don’t like how their kids behave or don’t behave, don’t like how they keep house, don’t like how they wear their hair … but we have to love them no matter what with no negative words or judgement.”

“…but for all the downside of being a pastor’s family, there is a lot of blessing, too!”

 

*Not every pastor’s wife is the same.  We all have different experiences and handle situations differently, but more often than not, we have the same feelings, emotions, struggles, highs, lows, etc

**These women that I spoke with have over 270 years combined experience being pastor wives.  The job of these pastors ranges from children to adult education, Worship Pastor to Senior Pastor, Campus Pastor of mega-churches, Evangelist to Church Planters.  Some of the pastors are full time, while others may be bi-vocational (they are a pastor and also work a second job). Several of the Pastor’s Wives were also “PKs: Preacher Kids” so they have insight as a wife, mom, and child.

THE LIGHT of the FATHER

By Grace

While scrolling through Instagram earlier, I came across a post by a favorite actor of mine, Misha Collins. It said this: “It was well past bedtime last night when I stomped into the kids’ room and demanded, ‘Why is the light on?!’ [My daughter] said, ‘I turned it on because I was scared. But you can turn it off now. When you’re here, you’re the light.’”

This got me thinking. Isn’t this the kind of trust that God wants His children to have in Him? Okay, I know you might be a little confused. Why would I use a story from Misha Collins of all people? He’s not exactly the poster child for Christianity. His most notable role is in show that deals with misrepresented angels, demons, and even the devil himself.

Don’t worry, I can see the irony. Almost immediately, I thought of this verse:

“What man among you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!” —‭‭Matthew‬ ‭7:9-11‬

We’re going through a pretty scary time right now. I have no idea what’s going to happen. To be honest with you, I’m pretty freaked out. But I don’t have to be. I don’t have to be afraid of the dark, because when God is here, HE is my light. I don’t have to be frightened of the monster under the bed because God is right there with me—and He isn’t going anywhere.

So what about you? What is your darkness? Is it uncertainty? Is it stress? Is it worry? Is it a general lack of peace? Whatever your darkness is, you needn’t fear it or dread it. Our God is the light that banishes the darkness. The monster under your bed has no hold on you.

I keep going back to that quote from earlier. “[My daughter] said, ‘I turned it on because I was scared. But you can turn it off now. When you’re here, you’re the light.’” What a trust this little girl has in her father. The kind of trust she has for her father is the trust God wants us to have for Him—multiplied by thousands. The love that her father has for her is the kind of love God has for us—multiplied by billions. If we who are evil—by default or by practice—know how to give good gifts to our children, how much more will our Heavenly Father give good gifts to us if we ask? This man is a candle for his little girl. Our God is the sun for us. He banishes the darkness in blinding rays. We never have to fear or worry!

What is your darkness?
What gifts has God given you to overcome your darkness?

Homeschooling 101

When I was pregnant 20 years ago, I felt God was calling me to homeschool. I wasn’t sure why, but when I met that little fella, I knew it was for me. I loved the idea of being at home with Sean and teaching him. We started when he was in preschool and added his sisters to the mix one-by-one. We did decide to put Hope in school Sean’s senior year so I could concentrate on him and give her a break from us (and us from her), but as the year has gone on, I have found myself being pulled back into homeschooling for her. This time of self-quarantine (after spending a week out of the country doing a mission trip in Belize) will be just the trial run we need to see if Hope and I will survive & thrive.

I’ve had some questions about homeschooling. Tips, tricks, sanity-savers. I hope my nearly 15 years of homeschooling experience helps you. I don’t have all the answers, but I do have some suggestions. If you want homeschooling resources, there are plenty of those out there already. These are just the top 5 tips I have for being home with your kids and how to survive homeschooling.

  1. Never, EVER do school longer than 3-4 hours. Kids don’t just sit in school all day. They get up, move around, and go outside. They don’t just sit for 3 hours. A lot of time in a classroom is spent on a teacher teaching not just your kid but 20+ other children. Questions from 20 kids, explaining and explaining again, telling kids to settle down … that all takes time. As a homeschooling parent, you don’t have to spend that time talking to multiple kids. Just one or two. Less time, therefore, only a few hours is needed to do the work.
  2. Find out what time works best for your family. We have almost always done school first thing in the morning, usually around 9am. But for some, kids may need some play time outside before starting school work.
    Also, figure out your “where”. For us, we sit in the couch with TV trays. My kids could never sit still long at the kitchen table. I’ve heard of some families doing school outside, some in a fort in the living room, and some on their child’s bed. Whatever works with the least distractions. And this is very important: pajamas! After three straight days y’all may wanna change into real clothes, but if they want to do school in their pjs, just let them.
  3. Structure is good, but flexibility is better. In regards to what time to do school, it’s good to do it the same time every day. Especially when you have kids with special needs. They need the structure. However, when it comes to the school work, be flexible. When Sean was in kindergarten, we spent 2 weeks on the letter “G”. All the sounds and writing and words. I was getting frustrated and so was he. I began questioning my calling as a homeschooling mom. I relayed my concerns to John and he simply said “skip it. That’s why you homeschool. To give him what he needs, when he needs it. And if he doesn’t get it, just skip it and come back to it later.” That was the most freeing thing anyone ever said to me in regards to my kids. If, as a parent, you don’t understand how to explain something or they aren’t getting it, skip it til you can get some help. Don’t put so much pressure on your or your kid(s).
  4. Anything can be educational. When we would go to the grocery store, I would have the kids add up numbers of objects. They learned to to add, subtract, multiply, and divide. When cooking or baking, the kids would have to learn to measure and work with fractions.

Also, be honest with your kids about what they are learning. Sometimes I have had to say “I have never used this, but you have to learn it because the state says so.” Sometimes when we do math, I explain that Sean may need to know this when he has to balance a budget as a Preschool Director. As a mom, Grace may need to know to balance a family budget. Let them know how they will be using these skills in their everyday lives.

  1. HAVE FUN!
    One of the reasons I have movie nights and ADVENTure days at Christmas is because I want my kids to have fun learning. My dad was a firm believer that on every vacation, we needed to at least learn one thing. Museums, war sites, gardens. We always stopped along the way to our vacations for a chance to learn something. With my kids, we may pick out a movie to watch. Then I will plan a theme night to go with it. That might involve costumes that they make or making a themed dinner. If there is a movie based on a book, we will read the book first and then write up a comparison between the book and the movie, writing the similarities and differences. Some movies may involve some research, but it’s definitely something you and your kids can do together. That’s where Pinterest becomes your friend.

Don’t worry. You can get through this time of isolation and insanity. It just takes some time, prayer, and a tiny bit of research. Invest in Disney Plus or Amazon Prime for some educational videos. Enjoy the moments and don’t stress too much. And always remember that sending them to recess is always an option!


“UNDER THE SEA” movie night
Watch “The Little Mermaid” or “The Incredible Mr. Limpet.”
Eat fish sticks and goldfish. Drink Ocean Water
Research underwater creatures. Draw them or print them out and hang them from the ceiling.
Dress in bathing suits and picnic on beach towels.


PIRATE NIGHT
Watch “Pirates of the Caribbean.”
Eat “sand”wiches. Octopus hot dogs (cut half of a hot dog into strips and add x’s for eyes. Boil. The hot dogs will curl as they cook and turn into octopi). Drink Ginger-ale and root-beer. Make a treasure map on top of a sheet cake.
Have a treasure hunt
Give pirate names and design pirate flags
Dress up like pirates
Talk like pirates
*You can also watch “The Princess Bride” to do a Pirate-Princess night. Allows the girls to dress up like a princess and the boys to dress up like a pirate. Have a sword fight with pool noodles


BOOK & MOVIE Night
Find a movie based on a book. Read the book. Set up a movie theater. Allow the kids to make their own money and set prices. Sell hot dogs, popcorn, and drinks. Let the kids be the cashiers
Watch the movie and have kids write a report (with pictures) on the similarities and differences between the book and movie


PRESIDENTS DAY
Watch “National Treasure”
Have kids research presidents.
Make your own treasure quest
Look on Pinterest for printables

ANIMATION STUDIO STUDY
Watch “Frank & Ollie“, “Steamboat Willie”, and “Saving Mr. Banks”.
Watch “The Pixar Story” and Pixar Shorts
(check Disney Plus)
Research Walt Disney
Make a flip book

I DON’T HAVE A TESTIMONY

By Grace

Stop me if you’ve heard this one.

“I grew up in the church. My parents taught me the Bible and I got saved when I was [six/seven/eight] years old. That’s pretty much it. There was no drastic difference or dramatic life change. I don’t really have a testimony.”

This is the statement that many people make when asked to share their testimony. I’ve heard this too many times to count. Heck, I’ve even said it. But it’s not true. It’s not true for me, it’s not true for you, it’s not true for anyone. This is a lie.

It is not my testimony. This is not my story. My story is not about a little girl who made a decision when she was six. It’s about a man who loved this little girl so much that He left everything behind and sacrificed Himself on a cross so that that little girl would live.

Christians who grew up in the church tend to think that we don’t have a testimony. Because we didn’t have some dramatic 180 turn in our lives, our story doesn’t matter. The only testimonies that matter are the BIG ONES, the INSPIRING ONES, the ROAD TO DAMASCUS stories. The small ones are not important. Our stories are no big deal.

What??

Look, maybe God didn’t save from alcoholism or a drug addiction or gambling or something like that. Maybe God didn’t stop you in the middle of your trip to blind you and tell you to stop killing and persecuting Christians. But that doesn’t mean your story isn’t important. Listen—you went from hell ridden to heaven bound! Correct me if I’m wrong, but that seems like a pretty big deal to me! You were called from death to life! And that’s not important? Your story MATTERS.

“The dramatic change wasn’t as important as why the change happened.” -Christie Smith

Maybe Jesus didn’t save you from what you WERE but what you COULD HAVE been. No matter who you are or how old you were when you made that decision, you were headed down a road of brokenness and emptiness. You were on a dark path, headed straight to death and Jesus intercepted you. He told you to turn around and you obeyed. Now you’re on the path of LIFE. That’s amazing! Don’t you want to tell everyone about the path you’re on? Intercept people!

There is not a single person who is not empty apart from Jesus. There is not a single person who has called upon the name of Jesus and not been filled.

Sometimes, I think we try to make our testimonies about ourselves. But at the core, we all have the same story. We were empty and we called on Jesus and in His great love and mercy, He filled us. Our testimony is this: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on him should not perish, but have eternal life.”

‭‭(John‬ ‭3:16‬ ‭ASV‬‬)

Your story matters. You have a testimony.

A New Year. 12:00am

PROMISE. HOPE. FAITH. BELIEVE. TRUST. JOY. PRAISE. REJOICE. STRENGTH. GRATITUDE. WISDOM.

In 2009 I was working at Cross Church in Springdale, AR for the preschool department as a teacher. We were having our beginning of the year meeting as a team and our Preschool Director began talking to us about prayer. She told us that her family had a tradition of “praying through a word” each year and how it had impacted their family. It was intriguing to me. Something I had never heard of. When I got home I told John about it, but pretty much just left it in the air. We began 2009 strapped for cash and it didn’t look like we were going to be able to pay rent. I began to panic when Jeremiah 29:11 came across my mind. “What a beautiful promise!” I said to myself. As I prayed about what to do with our finances, I felt God reassuring me that everything was going to be okay. John was on his way to speak to our landlord about an extension for our rent and I sat in the recliner with my Bible in my lap, praying and praising God for the promises He has given us. When John returned home, he told me that our landlord not only granted us an extension, but had prayed with him about our future. It was a sweet moment as we thanked the Lord for taking care of us. I definitely felt that “PROMISE” was the word of 2009. But to be honest, I didn’t always pray knowing that God would provide or protect. I still had moments of doubt and fear. Determined, I decided that 2010 would be a better year of praying for me. I wasn’t entirely sure what 2010 would be so I searched my heart and again Jeremiah 29:11 came up. I decided on the word “hope”.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

Each year I search diligently for our next word. Some years are easier than others. Some years it is right in front of my face and I miss it. This year is no different. I studied and prayed and studied some more. I pulled out journals from the past and pulled up old Facebook posts, hoping for some inspiration. But December 30th came and I was stumped. Completely stumped. And grumpy. As I read through entries I prayed that God would reveal the word for 2020. I wasn’t feeling a peace about anything. And the prospect of the coming year and what God was calling us to do felt like such a daunting task. Family. Work. Relationships. Mission trips. Ministry work. School. It all began to pile on me like a plague to my mind. 4 hours in to the process (praying and taking it over with John and searching scripture), I asked John to just hold me and pray. All day my mind kept going back to Jeremiah 29:11. I thought about how I had claimed that the first two years. Promise. Hope. As John prayed I sat in the dark room listening. Listening to John and listening to the Lord. God has a plan for me. It’s a scary one. It’s a leap of faith. It’s trusting Him. We have already done “faith” and “trust”, so what was He asking? He’s asking me to trust Him and to lean into Him. I was reminded of something John said to me when I said “God is calling us to adoption, but I don’t know what to do” and John simply said “Lean in.” LEAN. Lean on Him. Lean in to what He has to say and do. “Trust in the Lord with all of your heart and do not LEAN on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your path.” I learned that verse when I was 9 years old. This was the first time that I truly understood what God was saying. “I know the path I have for you. I have the plan. Just lean in and I will guide you.” I am excited to see where God takes us in 2020. I’m eagerly awaiting Him and ready to follow.

Some years have made me questions why I do this. The year we prayed through the word “JOY” was the year we left the familiar and moved. Two months later, my mom passed away. Some days it was hard to find joy in those situations, but it brought us closer to God. The year we chose “FAITH” was the year that we had to step out on faith for God to provide when God called John to quit his job and go to school full time. God was faithful to us because we were faithful in our faith. In 2012 we picked the word “BELIEVE.” We believed that the Lord was going to do something big in our family. He did, allowing me to get pregnant, only to have a miscarriage 18 weeks in. We had to believe that God would carry us through. And he did, when I got pregnant again just a few months later. Following God is rarely easily but it is always rewarding. Having a word that reminds you daily of how God wants you grow you is such a blessing.

I challenge you, dear friend, to start this new year, this new decade, off in prayer and thanksgiving. Allow Him to guide your path in 2020.

Christmas ADVENTure

It’s official. Christmas is a month away. It’s time to start getting the December calendar out and planning the holiday parties, end of the year school functions, and work get-togethers. For our family, we have the calendar out to start planning our annual Advent Activities

In 2009 I decided I wanted to share my love of Christmas with my kids. I wanted to do more than just decorate the tree or watch holiday movies. I decided that we would do one Christmas activity a day during December leading up to Christmas. As a homeschooling mom, I wanted to incorporate fun into our learning and learning into our fun. I wanted to take our lessons and give them a Christmas feel. I wanted to teach the kids how to use math while they learned to bake. I wanted to put into practice writing skills with movie watching and writing their own stories. But most of all, I just wanted to have fun and spend time with my kids and my husband.

Things to remember:

1. FLEXIBILITY. Each year is different. Some years I am able to plan my days out ahead of time but most years I won’t know for sure what I am doing until the week, or even the day, before. Some days we have a big activity planned where we might go to Zoo Lights or watch a movie that has lots of cooking/baking that goes with it. There are a few days we simply add “go to Hope’s school performance” or “Candlelight service at church.” It’s something that we would do normally, but makes it feel special when we put it on the calendar for the entire family to be a part of.

I have had friends who panicked at the thought of doing 25 activities so they have asked me if they could do just a week or do a “12 days of Christmas.” Sure. Why not? You have to do what works best for you, your family, your budget, and your schedule. The very first year I planned on doing one advent per day, we were well into the month when my grandfather passed away. My kids were a bit disappointed that we weren’t able to finish the month because we were on the road for a week, but it was a special time being able to share some of our activities with our family when they all gathered for the celebration of Papaw’s life. I learned real quick that flexibility is key when planning for ADVENTures.

2. EASE. Don’t make the activities too complicated. Many of our activities are simply things that we all want to do every year such as watch a Christmas movie or go look at Christmas lights. With most movies, we will incorporate some sort of food. For example, when watching The Christmas Story we eat Chinese food like the Parker family does at the end of the movie. When watching The Nativity the kids and I get together to make no-bake cookies called haystacks. After 5 years of watching A Charlie Brown Christmas and not having a food to go with it, Grace came to me and said “we should make brownies because they say ‘of all the Charlie Browns, you’re the Charlie Brownie-est'”. It made me so happy that she wanted to contribute and had been paying attention to the theme of matching movies and food.

3. HAVE FUN! If you get bogged down in the details, you will lose the magic and amazement of the Advent Activity. If you aren’t having fun, then the people you are sharing the day with won’t have fun either.

4. REMEMBER THE WHY. John & I value two things. God and family. Advent Activities allow us to spend time with our kids and share with them our true meaning of Christmas. Our family starts every year with reading the accounts of Jesus birth then watching The Nativity. We do our best to do a family devotional each day leading up to Christmas. We have used the Bible App to find many different devotionals (our favorite being Carols: A Christmas Devotional). This year we are doing The Way To The Manger by Jeff & Abbey Land that we got at LifeWay.com.

Now onto the real fun. Here is the list of the Advent Activities that my family has done year after year. *At the end of the list I have included a list of activities that we have done in the Memphis area.*

NATIVITY. Read the accounts of Jesus birth in Matthew and Luke. Compare and contrast the stories. Watch The Nativity (older kids) or The Star (younger kids). Make haystacks (no bake cookies using crispy lo-mein noddles, peanut butter, marshmallow cream, and butterscotch chips).

ELF. Watch Elf. Eat spaghetti. Buffet of candies and syrup

CHRISTMAS STORY. Watch A Christmas Story. Eat Chinese food (crockpot orange chicken and homemade fried rice). Drink Ovaltine

ITS WONDERFUL. Watch It’s A Wonderful Life. Eat Italian food.

CHRISTMAS CAROL. Watch A Christmas Carol (musical with Kelsey Grammer, Disney version with Jim Carrey, The Muppets A Christmas Carol, etc.). Compare and contrast the different films. Write your own version using people you know as the characters.

GRINCH. Read then watch the classic The Grinch Who Stole Christmas. Eat roast beast or green eggs & ham

CHARLIE BROWN. Make brownies. Watch A Charlie Brown Christmas.

GINGERBREAD. Decorate gingerbread houses (I buy kits from Kroger or Michaels; I use Pepperidge Farm gingerbread men instead of making my own). Watch Shrek and Shrek The Halls. Read the Gingerbread Man books by Lauren Murray

POLAR EXPRESS. Put on pajamas. Make crockpot hot chocolate. Read then watch The Polar Express. Drink hot hot hot hot chocolate and eat cookies.

REINDEER GAMES. Play board games while watching Rudolph. Make dips (from kits) to eat so you have one hand free for playing and one hand to eat with.

SIBLING GIFT*. Split up into two teams. Buy gifts for your sibling. Go home and wrap gifts

*this is my kids FAVORITE Advent. They love the one on one time with each parent and they enjoy thinking of others. We make a day of it: shop, eat, wrap

CAROLING. Find fun hats. Go caroling and deliver gifts to friends

CHRISTMAS LIGHTS. Pile in the car and look for Christmas lights. Drink hot chocolate or eat holiday-flavored ice cream. Or both.


Memphis Area ADVENTures

-Nighttime at the Memphis Zoo lights

-Pink Palace Enchanted Forest and Festival of Trees

-Christmas Lights at Shelby Farms in Memphis or Southern Lights at Central Park in Southaven

-Drive through nativity at Longview Heights Baptist Church in Olive Branch

-the March of the Ducks at the Peabody

-check out the holiday shows and movies at the Orpheum

-The Singing Christmas Tree at Bellevue Baptist Church in Cordova

-Holiday Wonders at the Botanical Gardens

-Southaven Christmas Parade of Lights

-Collierville Christmas Parade. Tree lighting with Santa at the square.

ATTITUDE OF GRATITUDE

October 1st to December 31st is my favorite time of the year. Yes, I love fall. Yes, the colors of the trees changing make me smile. Yes, I do get out my Christmas decorations super early and start planning for the holidays (more on that In the next post). But those aren’t the only things I love about the holiday time.

When I met John 20 years ago it was pretty much love at first sight. We immediately started talking about our future. Where were we gonna spend our holidays and who was going to sacrifice? Would we go to see his family then mine on Thanksgiving? Would we do Thanksgiving with one then Christmas with the other? I was very excited when I found out that John loved Thanksgiving as much as I loved Christmas. We wouldn’t have to sacrifice anything. We could do Thanksgiving with John’s family and uphold their traditions and do Christmas, which is my favorite holiday, with my family. John LOVES Thanksgiving. The food. The focus. The family. Everything. On Thanksgiving Thursday we would spend the day with John’s maternal family. There was always turkey and ham, tons of sides and lots of desserts. We would spread out over his grandparents house in Central Arkansas to eat and visit with family we usually only saw once a year. Then on Friday we drove an hour north to his paternal grandparents home where we had sandwiches and appetizers and peanut brittle … and we would celebrate Christmas! It made me so happy. They did this because they knew that Christmas is a busy time and it’s hard to get all the family back together just 4 weeks later. We drew names and exchanged gifts and just had a wonderful Thanks-Mas.

In 2011 I was in a funk. John didn’t have a job and he was in school full time. We were in the midst of our “faith journey” (following God has John prepared for full-time ministry). November was approaching and I realized that I was losing my excitement for Thanksgiving. I was so excited for Christmas that I was glossing over Thanksgiving. I began daily writing down one thing that I was thankful for. I posted my list on Facebook so I could be reminded each year of the ways God took care of me and for others to be inspired to do the same. I’ve done this every year since.

“So then, just as you have received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, being rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, and overflowing with gratitude.”

‭‭Colossians‬ ‭2:6-7‬ ‭CSB‬‬

Each year on January 1st, our family “prays through a word.” We have been through “joy”, “believe”, “faith”, and “trust” (and many more). All words that turned inward. They were things that I could do to better myself and allow God to work in me. It was time for a change. I wanted my daily life to be saturated with God and what He was doing in my life and a way to give back to Him, so I choose the word “Gratitude.” Each day I would come up with something that God had done that day to remind me that He is in control and blessing me. 365 days. Some days it was easy. A home. My family. A friend. Church. But some days I really had to think hard about it. But these challenging days helped me to find God in the madness. It was beautiful. It helped me to fall in love with God every single day and remind myself what all He does for me. It was sad for me when the new year rolled around and I wasn’t posting every day all that God was blessing me with. I enjoyed the intentionality of looking for ways to find God and His blessings for my life. I was eager for November 2019 to begin so I could start my daily “Thanksgiving Blessings” list (I know I can do this every day and don’t have to wait for November. But God has given me a new word to focus on this year).

Even though November has already started, go ahead and start your daily Thanksgiving list. It’s not too late. It truly is a blessing to see what God is doing in your life and see how He blesses you all day, every day.


2011

“Never be surprised, but always be in AWE”~Mark McEuen, refering to God’s blessings.

Tonight, I was IN AWE of my Heavenly Father when a friend brought over 30 bags of groceries & toiletries for our family. She did not know that we were down to our last items in the pantry, but God did. HE IS AMAZING!


2012

THANKFULNESS, DAY 17: Second Chances

God has given me 2nd, 3rd, 4th … the list goes on. But I am extremely grateful to the Lord this year for second chances in regards to this baby. I had my [miscarriage] surgery on MAY 12 and Mother’s Day was MAY 14. Michael Whitehead sent me a text on Mother’s Day that I still have: A very special Mother’s day to you, I know this one will be different, God feels you today & loves you so much.

God has truly shown his SECOND CHANCES this year. My due date for this baby is MAY 14 … a year to the day of Mother’s Day, just two days after my surgery. How special I am to have a God who loves me & gives me second chances!


2013

DAY 26: John’s call

I am proud & excited that John has embraced and us obedient to God’s call into the ministry.

I grew up with a music minister as a dad and John grew up in the home of a pastor. We both know how hard this is, but he is still willing to serve.

John loves the children’s ministry. He has so much fun acting, being crazy, and hanging out with kids…but his passion is for Christ and his desire is that every child will learn about Jesus.


2014

Thanksgiving Blessing

Day 8: my mothers legacy

Today I am celebrating my moms birthday by being with friends and doing the thing she loved: scrapbooking.

I scrapbooked the photos I took of her hands. Her beautiful hands were those of a servant. “Honor her for all that her hands have done and let her works bring her praise at the city gate” Prov 31:31


2015

BLESSINGS DAY 15: multi-generational church

I love that my kids are being ministered to by every walk of life, every age. From a student serving in the nursery to an 80+ year old great grandma giving out hugs, my needs are met at Broadway Bapt Church


2016

“Do everything you say or do in the name of the Lord Jesus. Always give thanks to God the Father through Christ.”

– ‭‭Colossians‬ ‭3:17‬ ‭NIRV‬‬

BLESSINGS, Day 14

My lil’ blessings

I am grateful that I got to spend the day with my kids. I love them so much & enjoy their company. And hugs. And kisses. And giggles.


2017

Branson with friends

10 trips, many hair colors, a million laughs … and a few secrets!


2018

Gratitude, Day 330: homeschooling

Some days are fun, some days are difficult, and all days are rewarding. Spending extra time with my kids, teaching them, doing our devotional together. All the time we spend together is a blessed time. Even if we do get on each other’s nerves…because we are together. It’s not for everyone, but for us, it works!

I am so grateful that God called me on this journey 18 years ago. I knew when I was pregnant with Sean that I was going to be his teacher and we would learn together. It’s been a joy, honor, and privilege to stay at home and teach my kids


2019

Thanksgiving Blessings, Day 2: technology

My dad (Phill L. Wilson) & Wenjuan just made it to Thailand after 6 months in China. I was pleased to wake up to 40+ videos from Wenjuan this morning 😂 I watched every single one … sometimes twice. This one of my dad saying “hello, Megan” I may have watched a dozen times. I am grateful for the chance to “travel around with them” on their adventures and “talk” to them. Wenjuan is very intentional on making sure he greets me at least once a week. And “proof of life” videos as we commonly refer to them gives me a peace of mind as they travel throughout Asia. Today I am extremely grateful for phones and apps that allow us to keep in touch (especially after 12 hours of no WiFi in our last night 🙄). #thanksgiving #blessings #technology #hifromasia

Tomorrow is always fresh with no mistakes in it

Tomorrow is always fresh with no mistakes in it – Anne Shirley, Anne of Green Gables

My most favorite-ist movie in the whole entire world is Anne of Green Gables and Anne of Avonlea. I watch it every year as soon as the first hints of fall waft through the air. I dream that I am running alongside that Anne-girl on the shores of Prince Edward Island, taking in lunch at the White Sands Hotel, and walking the dusty lane to the Lake of Shimmering Waters. We pick Queen Anne’s lace and braid each other’s hair. We sip raspberry cordial in the parlor and feast on cakes and pudding. We quote poetry and make up our own sonnets as we read Tennison by the fireside. And after a very Jonah Day, she gives my favorite words of wisdom: tomorrow is always fresh, with no mistakes in it.

This always reminds me of the verse from Lamentations 3. His mercies are new every morning. What a wonderful promise!

I was reading about another promise that He gives us in Isaiah.

The Lord is the everlasting God, the creator of the ends of the earth. He does not grow faint or grow weary; His understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might He increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they that wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with winds like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” (40:28b-31)

This weekend we celebrated my son’s 19th birthday. I have been doing Weight Watchers for 2 months. I’m down 15 lbs and would really like to lose 15 more by Thanksgiving. Knowing we had birthday plans coming up, I carefully tried to plan ahead my points and prep my body for a day of celebration. However, the celebrating started a little early when I decided on Friday to go to Krispy Kreme to get the donuts for Saturday’s birthday breakfast. It’s been a tradition for over 10 years that we start our birthday morning with donuts. However, the smell of those delicious pastries was more than I could stand so as soon as we got home, everyone (except Sean who was at work) unceremoniously took a donut to tide us over to party day. As I indulged, I felt gross and shame, telling myself this was the beginning of the end for me this weekend, then I pushed the thought from my head and finished the last bite. The next morning I decided to do better. “I will make better choices”, I told myself. One donut instead of two. One serving of pancakes at IHOP would be plenty. One piece of pizza for supper. No coke. However, by the time supper rolled around I was frustrated and hungry. I cried as I thought about scrambled eggs and turkey for supper instead of pizza. In a moment of shear weakness, I ate yet another donut and warmed up a hot pocket. That hot pocket still haunts me. It didn’t satisfy. I was filled with regret. I went to bed disappointed and dis-heartened. Sunday rolled around. Sunday is a day where the church provides breakfast and Granny provides lunch. Normally on Sundays I take my own shake to avoid the donut stand, but I ran out of time and didn’t make one. I resigned myself to the donut brought to me by Hope. At Granny’s I chose small portions of meatloaf, mashed potatoes, green beans, corn, and homemade pound cake. When supper arrived, all I was craving was a Freddy’s cheeseburger and fries with their fry sauce. As we pulled into the parking lot, I remembered a piece of paper I stuck in my Bible that morning. In 4th grade Sunday School, we talked about Jesus coming back and what that means for us during the interim. Each girl got to pick a card that said “If Jesus has the power to return, how should I … “. Without looking, I drew a card. It said “if Jesus has the power to return, how should I take care of my body.” Very convicting as I knew what a crazy weekend of eating I had had.

As I lamented to John about how I had struggled this weekend to eat right and really beat myself up about it, the kids tried to encourage me and tell me how Monday was the start of a new week and I could start over again. And I kept thinking “only with Jesus help. Lord, give me strength.” Grace insisted we could walking the next day and Sean told me that I had plenty of time to walk and get back on track. In the midst of us eating, my WW buddy texted and said “I’ve been eating terribly [this weekend]. Tomorrow is a better day and the start of a new week. Gotta get back at it…let’s keep each other accountable this week.”

I woke up this morning, trying to decide if I really wanted to walk. I sat down to do my devotional and Isaiah 40 was the topic: God gives your strength. These verses renewed my spirit.

TODAY I will do better! TODAY I will take care of my body in what I eat and drink. I will exercise and go for a walk. I will honor God with the way I treat my body. Today, His mercies are new. It is a fresh day with no mistakes in it. TODAY I will ask God for strength and I know He will grant it to me. He has already given me people to keep me accountable.

What is it that God needs to give you strength for? Something physically, just getting out of bed when the pain is unbearable? Homework, schoolwork, and tests? Being a busy mom or dad? Dealing with lacking faith? Depression? Call on Him for strength. Allow Him to grant you the new mercies of the day. TODAY is fresh with no mistakes in it!

*starting a new day, fresh, with no mistakes in it*

Chocolates of the Spirit

A month ago I made a change that I never imagined. I texted my sister and said “I’m officially turning into mom now. I’ve joined Weight Watchers and I’m exercising to ‘Sweatin’ to the Oldies.” My life has now come full circle to a time when I remember my mom trying the different diets and exercise videos. I remember very clearly working out with my mom and Richard Simmons in our living room when I was just 7 or 8. Now my kids will get to share those same memories 😂

I started WW just a few days before we left for our second church camp of the summer. So many people told me what a bad idea that was, but it was actually the best time for it. For one, it held me back from gorging all week long. Two, I was able to recognize my unhealthy eating habits. Some choices I have made over the years have been mindless decisions to just eat and not even realize it.

When I was growing up, my mom struggled with her weight. I always found her beautiful no matter what size she was, but she detested her body. I understand that now. When my dad got married for the first time, they planned a big wedding. I was determined to lose the weight, make my mom proud. Over several months, I lost 25 lbs. It was a goal that I met and that’s it. I wasn’t prepared to keep it up. I just wanted to lose the weight to fit into a dress. After the wedding, I was so depressed and disappointed that without thinking, I gained all that weight back. I didn’t even see it coming. It just happened. I remember going to the ER with heart issues and the doctor asking if I’d been under any stress the last 6 months. “Does my dad getting married count?” I gained more weight. Then a month later I went to get my hair cut and the stylist asked “have you been under any stress the last 6 months? Your hair is thinning from stress.” Same answer. Same result. I gained more weight. In the end, I gained 35 lbs. I didn’t know how it happened, but I realized that I needed to make changes. My friend Jamie told me about her success with WW. I had already been doing research and saw that many studies showed it was the best program for losing and maintaining weight. I signed up … then went to camp. I started the week out trying to make good decisions. Water only. Walking several miles a day. Limited snacks. I was feeling good. It was tough at times, but I was making the best decisions I could under the circumstances. Then Thursday hit. I was tired and weary. In the afternoon, we needed to run into town to get some things. I was standing at the checkout, complaining about an incident that had happened earlier in the day and bought myself a piece of my favorite chocolate. The girl put it in the bag and before I had even paid, I opened up the chocolate and popped it in my mouth. Without missing a beat, Betsy gently said “I have some Fiber One brownies in the car if you want one?” I must’ve glared at her because she simply said “I think you are stress eating.” I whirled around and looked to Anita for reinforcement. Anita just nodded her head in agreement. Lightbulb moment. Had I really been eating when I was stressed? Had I lost all self-control?

The Fruits of the Spirit are: peace, love, joy, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Unfortunately, they aren’t called the “chocolates of the spirit”. We need to be healthy spiritually AND physically. I finally feel that I have found peace in my self-control.

In 1 month I’ve lost 8 lbs. I have no idea where they went. I don’t feel smaller, but I do feel stronger. And sore. All the time 🙄 I’ve made some discoveries about myself and how I view food. I’m making the necessary changes to get my life in control and eat healthier. I wanna be around for a long time. I want my kids to see how to eat well and know that I care about myself. I want them to be proud of me. I’m actually looking forward to taking care of me, for once. Some days I feel like all I do is count points and exercise, but those days are fewer and far between. I have a weight-loss goal. I also have a goal of being happier and healthier. God has blessed me with this life and I want to honor Him with a healthy body. I want to be on this earth for a long time with my family. And I want to be able to handle the day-to-day stresses of life without depending on food to comfort me. That’s what God is for. He is my comfort in all times of trouble


My workout buddies. Such encouragement!