Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Day #30

She turns 15 today. I remember clearly the day she was born.  I was so glad she was not born on Halloween.  She missed it by an hour and 15 minutes.

Katie, I am telling you, girl, I love being your mom.  You make me smile. You make me laugh.  You handle yourself with grace. You engage with people around you.  You are so much like your dad!

I want to be like you when I grow up! (smile)

Seriously, you are an amazing young woman.  I see Jesus all over you.  I am so thankful that you love Him so much.  Because, as many times as people around you (including me) will let you down, He is The One who will not.  It's going to be so exciting to see you join Him as He is at work around you. 

I hope it's a great birthday for you.  And you can thank me later for not showing up today at school with balloons.  Love you! Mom

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Day #27

I am at GA retreat again this weekend and loving every minute. I wish I had something profound to say but I can't think of anything, so I'll tell you about my Thursday night.

I had a date! We went to see the new Alex Cross movie (Matthew Fox plays a great creeper) and then on to Panera for dinner and conversation. 

It was much needed and delightful. I so enjoy time with my fellow. 

Friday, October 26, 2012

Day #26 Becoming More than a Good Bible Study Girl

I am in the second week of a Bible study called Becoming More than a Good Bible Study Girl, by Lysa Terkeurst.  Joy gave me the book a few years ago and I read it as a fast read, not slowly reading and digesting it.  But in reading it again now, and doing the workbook, I am going it through it more slowly and processing it as I go.  Man, it is some good stuff.  It's basically taking a look at my life, and all the "good/right" things I do (going to church, serving others, reading my Bible, etc) and checking those off of the Good Bible Study Girl checklist.  Then, asking the questions "What about my heart?  Are these things just external, so that I am looking good to others?" etc.

From page 34, "When God's Word gets inside of us, it becomes the new way we process life.  It rearranges our thoughts, our motives, our needs and our desires."

One Scripture that has changed my life is a verse from 2 Timothy.  I was introduced to this Scripture the summer of 1987 when I worked at the Vineyard (with Chanda Clark, Buffy Coble and Ron Thompson).  This was our theme for summer.  This verse changed my life.  Not necessarily that summer, but more so in years to come. 

2 Timothy 1:7  "For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of love, power and sound mind."

What this says to me: Fear does not come from God. It comes from the enemy.  When I am fearful, the enemy is thrilled.  He has got me right where he wants me:distracted.  When I am fearful, the enemy loves it: I'm questioning God, His love for me, His plan for me, His promises.  Fear is not from My Father who loves me more than I can even understand.  Here are the things that do come from Him - a spirit of love: love that comes from Him and flows out of me onto other people, a love that I do not even pretend to understand, just accept it and enjoy it.  He gives me power - power that comes from Him, power of self-control, bringing my runaway thoughts back under control, power that fights thoughts of jealousy and pride.  He also gives me sound mind = clear thinking, rational thinking.

Those are things that He provides, but I have to choose whether or not to accept those.  I wish I could say "Oh, yes! Everyday, those are the choices I make." But that would be a big fat lie, because I don't.

I agree with the quote above from Lysa's book, about God's Word inside us rearranging our thoughts, motives, needs and desires.  The hurdle for me is allowing it in.  After years of attending church and listening to hundreds of sermons, and even years of personal Bible study, I have the head knowledge. When I allow the Word to get all the way into my heart, things do change, no doubt about it.  But that is the hard part.

I heard a college student say not too long ago (when talking about a class that teaches application of God's Word) something along the lines of, "If we learn and learn about Scripture but never apply it to our lives, all that makes us is smarter sinners."

 Just some food for thought.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Day #25

Life is hard.

Yesterday, a family in our church was changed and things won't ever be the same. I cannot put into words all that I think or feel but Amanda has done it so beautifully, I'm linking over to her post.  You can read it here.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Day #24 School

School - public vs university model?

Our family has been a part of both of these types of schools.  In fact, we've had one girl in each for the past 4 years.  Katie was at Lighthouse, a university model school, for 6th - 8th grades (85ish students).  She went to class M W and; F and we did school at home on T and Th.  It was a great experience.  As was the public school she attended the previous years.  Those teachers at Lawson had it going on! We loved our time there.

This year, Katie is at Central High School, public school, with 1,500ish students.  Needless to say, big change this year.  I'm going to ask if I can interview her and if she agrees, her thoughts will be appearing here very soon.

Today, Mary Margaret has agreed to be interviewed. Background on her: K and 1st grade at Lawson, 2nd grade at South, 3rd and; 4th grades at Moreau Heights (all public).  We never had a horrific anything at these schools.  Her teachers cared for her and taught her and loved on her while she was at each one.  Leaving Moreau Heights was the toughest, I believe because she's older and has established relationships and that makes all the difference when leaving a place.

She and Katie have switched places, so to speak.  She goes to Glora Deo Academy here in Springfield, a classical education university model school.  She goes to class M and; W, and we are home T, Th and; Fri.  Most weeks she finishes her schoolwork on Thurs and has Friday "off."

Me: What are some things like you like about your school?
MM: New Friends! I only have to go to actual class two days a week, and we are home the other days.  People in my class are nice to each other.  And with a smaller group (15), the girls get closer with all the girls and the guys are closer to each other, we all can get to know each other better.  I love how at recess we get to be with kids in other grades, like the 4th and 6th grade girls.  We have a field to play in. I get to take Latin.  We are having a dinner theater! We talk about God in our class and we read the Bible at school.

Me: What is your least favorite thing?
MM: Wearing a uniform.  But it's not too bad. It is comfy and I get to choose what color shirt I wear.

Me: If you could change anything about your new school, what would it be?
MM: No uniform.

She did tell me that while EER (gifted in Jefferson City) was challenging in one area at a time (of her choosing), this is challenging in every area every day.

I will say that she is certainly being stretched like never before, and I've had to be patient as that in itself is an adjustment, not to mention everything else around her changing (with moving to a new city).

It seems that she is feeling more settled now, more sure of herself.  I have struggled over the years with feeling like MM sometimes gets the short end of the stick (due to circumstances beyond my control - us moving, others moving, etc).  I believe she will thrive and flourish in the next few years.  She has such an amazing compassion for people. It's going to be exciting to see how God uses that in her life and in the lives of those around her.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Day #23

32 days until our vacation.

I think I am looking forward to this trip more than anyone else in my family.  I keep thinking about the fact that these family trips, with just the 4 of us, are now numbered.  3 years from now, Katie will be off to college, and will be working, etc.  I see friends whose kids are grown and off on their own, or in college, and the number of times they are all together goes down significantly.  Now those kids are bringing home their significant others, or all the kids are rarely home at the same time -- I now it's the natural progression of things, it just makes me want to treasure these times - the time we are all together, the original Hughes Four. 

And so, in 32 days, we will head to DisneyWorld. 

Oh, wait, did I say vacation? Maybe I should call it our family trip.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Day #22 In a funk

Today is one of those days. I am in a funk.  I'm certain that lack of rest over the weekend contributes to this greatly.  Be that as it may, I'm still in a funk. I'm teary. I'm grumpy. I want to go back to bed.

I blew it this weekend.  Not externally.  You could have been in the same room with me all weekend and never known that I blew it. Because even though it was not evident on the outside, it was in my heart. Only two of us knew - God and me.

I was angry.  I still am.  I know what to do with my mad (take it to God, give it to Him and leave it).  I know how to do this. IT IS HARD TO DO.  I know why to do this.  His word tells me to, it's one of the ways He shows His love for me, by bearing my burdens.

I go through the thoughts in my mind, this is righteous indignation, I have a right to be angry about this. 

But really, do I? Didn't I give up my "rights" when I gave my life to Jesus? He calls me to complete surrender.

This battle between flesh and Spirit continues. It is day by day, sometimes hour by hour, even minute by minute.

I've asked God to forgive me for my anger, and I know that He has.  Now, it is time to move forward and leave this in the rear view mirror.

Sweet surrender.  That seems like an oxymoron.  But what rest it brings. Rest for my heart.  Peace that I cannot find anywhere else.

Lamentations 3:22-23

22 Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail. 
23 They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.


Sunday, October 21, 2012

Day #21

Negative people suck the life right out of me.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Day #20 Book or photo album?

Jay told me a few days ago that he had spoken with one of his former co-workers from the convention.  He told me about the conversation with Letha and we had a good laugh.  I got teary-eyed thinking about her.  Here is the conversation that followed:

"Are you looking forward to seeing everyone at annual meeting?"

"Yes." (with a big smile)

"Did it make you sad, to talk to Letha?"


"Will it make you sad to see everyone?"


"Why not? Don't you miss everyone?"

after a minute went by...

"Yes, I miss them.  But it doesn't make me sad to see or talk to them.  I'm like a book.  That chapter is closed.  A new chapter has started.  You are like a photo album.  You like to flip back through the pictures and remember."

He may be on to something.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Day #19 Favorite Household Products

Here are some of my favorite things to use in our home.

Kris Crawford introduced me to this Method toilet cleaner and I have to say, I love it! I get it at Target, and as Kris says, if you have to do a dirty job, might as well use a product that makes your whole bathroom smell nice and fresh.

Becky Meeker introduced me to Bar Keepers Friend, and Dana Meeker Thornhill introduced her. This is the best cleaner for my stainless steel kitchen sink.  My sink shines when I use this. Love it.
Both Casey Marchman and Chanda Clark told me about Mrs. Meyer's cleaners.  This is a big bottle, and I add a capful to a spray bottle filled with warm water. It makes our house smell clean but not medicinal or ammonia-ish.
I really like this iron.  Jay got it for me at Lowe's, after I walked by and admired it a few times. It's heavy and it reminds me of the iron Mom had when we were growing up.
This is laundry wash made by Tyler candle company. I only use this to wash towels, and most often for guests. It only takes a capful.  It smells really good. The scent I have is "High Maintenance."  I've found it at Good and Perfect Gifts in Jefferson City.
You probably recognize this from Bath and Body Works. I like these little plug in things. 
Goo Gone! This stuff will get sticky residue off of anything! I even used it on Mary Margaret's shirt that had a sticker on it when it went through  the laundry. I'm a believer.

This one is not a household product, it's a "improve my appearance" product.

Clinique All About Eyes Concealer.  This.  Product.  Works.  I get dark circles all around my eyes - it used to be just below, but now they go all the way around.  I went to the Clinique counter a few weeks ago, during bonus time, to get some new foundation.  Ms. Vonda waited on me, and we chatted a little, and just before I checked out, she said, "Would you like to come back next week and we could work on your make up a little?" I immediately said, "Yes!" I have always felt like when I try to do my eyes, I look like a child playing in her mother's make up.  So, I went back. And she introduced me to this concealer.  I am here to tell you that it works.  And, I love Ms. Vonda, too.  She's from north Alabama and we had the nicest visit while she did my make up.  In fact, she gave me her card and her number, and I called her, and we are going to lunch today!



Thursday, October 18, 2012

Day #18 Randomness

It's day #18 and I'm wracking my brain about what to write about today.

So here goes some randomness.

Tomorrow night, we are going to see Brandon Heath & Matt Maher in concert and I'm just a little bit excited about it. And the concert is only 10 minutes away from our house!! Woohoo! No two hour drive after it's over.

Jay is picking up our/my new chair today. I "shop" so thriftily 90% of the time (which I do enjoy) that to get something brand new is such a treat. Come over to our house. And if you are really nice, I might invite you to sit in the new chair. Why am I so excited? It's a chair, for crying out loud. It's a mystery.

I'm in a bit of a dilemma. One of the most exciting things to me about joining in with the people at Second is the wide variety of ministry opportunities that I could be a part of. I had heard about this for a few years before I even knew being here was a possibility. What I had not considered was how hard it is to figure out exactly where the best place is for me to serve. There are 4 areas that get me jazzed but there is no way I can do them all. So, I'm making myself sit back, wait and I'm asking God to show me the place He has for me.

The next two weekends, I will be at Baptist Hill camp, working with grade school girls at the fall GA retreats. GA's are close to my heart! I remember as a little girl, going to GA's on Wednesday nights at church. We read about places all over the world and the missionaries called to serve there. We tasted food from other places and played games from other cultures. We read stories of the missionaries' experiences. And we prayed for them, on their birthdays, after reading the prayer calendar. So the next two weekends, I will get to tell a few hundred girls all about my trip to Sierra Leone summer of 2011.  And hopefully, convey the message to these girls that whatever talents and gifts we have, God can use those for His honor and glory, if we make ourselves available to Him. It's going to be a great time.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Day #17 Motherhood

On Day #9, I was running out of ideas on what to write about, and my cousin, Brian, gave me suggestions. Here's one: What is different about being a wife/mother from what you always envisioned it growing up? What’s better, what’s worse?

Poor Katie, the firstborn, I apologize to her all the time. She's the first time we've done this parenting thing.  She has to be the one we "experiment" on, sometimes it turns out well, and sometimes, not so much. Thankfully, she is one forgiving girl!

I want Katie and Mary Margaret to smile all the time. I want them to be happy.  I have come to the realization that that expectation is unrealistic and ridiculous.  They are not going to be happy all the time, I cannot make them happy all the time, and that is ok.  They are not responsible for my happiness, either.  I have to keep my expectations in check.  I don't always do this, but I know that I need to.

Time flies by.  I will admit, I am not one of those moms who wishes the baby days were back.  I was so glad when they were old enough to talk to me, tell me what hurt, or why they were crying. I felt like the baby days were such a guessing game.  I was so not confident about mothering babies, very unsure about so much of it.

I think the biggest eye opener for me has been how my perspective of my mom has changed. She stayed home with us until I went to Kindergarten and then she went back to work. Some of my fondest memories are of the two of us whenever we would get to go to the mall. We only shopped for needs, back to school and special occasions, so we didn't hang out at the mall all the time. But sometimes, when we got to splurge, we would go to Bob's lemonade and get those chocolate ice cream bars (the ones they dip in chocolate, then roll in peanuts). Those tasted so good! It was during those times (when I was in upper high school) that I remember us having good conversation.

What I also think of now is how tired she must have been, taking me after work. I say that out loud to Katie and Mary Margaret all the time, but I do not remember Mama ever saying how tired she was.

I also see now how unselfish she was, in fact, I would say that she is one of the most unselfish people I know. As we got older, she worked in order to help us get through college. I remember the day I realized that (I was still in college) and I was really taken aback, and I remember thinking then that she was amazing, because I would never do that for my kids. Obviously, I feel differently now. I will do whatever I can to help our girls get through school.

Being a mom is so much more...emotionally involved than I thought it would be. But I sure do love it. 

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Day #16


A good friend once told me, "Sometimes you have to say no to good things in order to say yes to the best things."

That is hard! I have a week packed full and it's only Tuesday and I'm already feeling overwhelmed. 

My first course of action is to sit down and write out what needs to be done when.  Go from there, checking things off the list.  I feel better already. 

The things that bothers me most about this is the fact that Jay and I may go a few days without an actual conversation. Does this happen to anyone besides me?

Monday, October 15, 2012

Day #15 My sibs

How have my siblings affected my walk with Christ?

When I was 8, and Kelli was 13, I stayed awake one night, waiting for her to come to bed (we always shared a room and I always had to go to bed earlier than she did), and when she did, I asked her what it meant to be "saved?" She explained to me how Jesus died for my sin, and how we can ask Him to forgive us and how He will come and live in our hearts and stay in/with us.  The following week I did  ask His forgiveness and invited Him to live in me. So, she has had an impact on my walk with Christ from the beginning.

In 2003, she and I got to go to Honduras together on a mission trip.  It was a medical/VBS mission trip. There were 7 of us that went, and Kelli was the only one of us who worked in the medical field, so she pretty much compiled the medical team.  I volunteered to help one day, basically getting whatever supplies she asked for, etc.  I loved seeing her completely in her element.  She was so calm, listening to the interpreter, doing whatever she could for the child/adult who needed help. And then there were the people who came, who needed help far beyond what we had to offer.  She showed such tenderness and compassion to each and every person who came through the "clinic."  By the way, I didn't last much longer than an hour.  I could not keep it together, seeing the needs coming through.  She was so strong.

Fast forward...32 years, to the present.  She amazes me.  She works full time, has 3 kids, is a wife, and still makes time to open her home for Bible study (or goes to another's home if it's not her turn to host). She will call a friend who is down and struggling and say, "I'm off on Wednesday so I'll pick you up and we will go to breakfast." and then calls and coordinates others to join them, too.  I am certain that the morning out for the friend who is down was such a pick-me-up.  I see her heart for women who hurt, who go through tough times, and I see her reach out with compassion and friendship, so aware of needs around her.  I so desire that same awareness.

About 8 or 9 years ago, Tommy's church was participating in a community wide choir thing, with lots of choirs all singing together. He told me it was so great to see lots of old friends, and he also thought how neat it was going to be that they would all be singing together again in Heaven one day.  He said as they were singing, he got to thinking and this thought went through his mind: "when I die, will I be in Heaven?" He just wasn't sure.  It seemed to be something he had wrestled with for some time. So that night, when it was over, he grabbed his pastor, talked with him, prayed, and got it settled.  I am so so proud of him, so proud of the fact that even though he was a grown 40 something year old man, he did not let his pride keep him from getting this settled.

Tommy is currently the youth pastor at his church (along with working full time, parenting/coaching 3 kids (teams), and being a husband).  Two summers ago, he took his youth on their first mission trip.  They went to the Appalachian mountains and worked at a community center where families come to get food, clothing and school supplies.  While they were there, they organized and worked in that center, while also working at various homes in the community (replacing steps, flooring, etc).  He told me about the kids' responses after they went the first time.  It seemed they were a bit leery, having never done anything like this before, but they had an amazing time.  On the bus ride home, they were already talking about going back the next summer, and what more they could do while they were there.  With tears in his eyes, Tommy told me stories about the students and also the families of the homes they worked in while there.  Lives were changed. And he played a huge role in that.

I do not know the right words to describe how I feel about my sibs and how they have affected my walk with Christ, so I will sum it up by saying this - my sibs inspire me.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Day #14

"Giving is a privilege, not a burden." Shane Segars

2 Corinthians 9:6-7 Remember: A stingy planter gets a stingy crop; a lavish planter gets a lavish crop. I want each of you to take plenty of time to think it over, and make up your own mind what you will give. That will protect you against sob stories and arm-twisting. God loves it when the giver delights in the giving.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Day #13 Our Story

I had my first date with Jay on April 15, 1992.

 I had observed him from a distance for awhile. And I thought he was H.O.T. When I went to visit Tommy (my brother) at La Tech, Jay was playing on a volleyball team with him.  When I had casually asked about Jay (January of 1991), Tommy's response was, "Incredible athelete." And if you know Tommy, you know that is high praise. He went on to say that he loved playing on the same team with Jay because regardless of whether their team was winning or losing, Jay was the same.  Always a team player. Always positive. Never lost his cool, etc.  After seeing Jay, and hearing about him, and finding out he was 2 years older than me, I thought, "He is so far out of my league."  I went on to finish my freshman year at Palm Beach Atlantic College and moved to Ruston in June of that year. I saw Jay around from time to time but never really talked to him, until March of 1992, in Alexandria at the Sweet Sixteen Girls BBall state tournament.  I was carrying Tyler on my hip (my nephew who was 1), when I ran into Jay. (He told me later that that really threw him off, seeing me carrying  a baby). We basically just said hi, but after that, I couldn't get him out of my mind.  So, into April we go, and my roommate was dating another guy on that same volleyball team, Greg Hughes, who was also in accounting and sat next to Jay (alphabetical order) in some classes. Greg was over at our apt one night, and I asked if he knew if Jay was dating anyone. He said, no, and then immediately asked if I wanted to go out with him.  And from the smile on my face he knew I did.

So when Greg went to the next volleyball game, he says to Jay, "Hey, you know Tommy's sister?" and Jay replied, "Niki?" and Greg said, "Yeah.  You know... you can ask her out anytime."  (Thanks for the subtlety, Greg!)  Actually, I didn't really care because I did want him to ask me out.  I waited. and I waited. and I waited, all the while, Greg is assuring me, Jay is going to call.  So, being the patient person that I am (this is a joke), I called him and invited him to go with me to the Easter musical at my church.  (I knew he was a believer.)  He could not go, but asked me to go to a movie and out to eat in Monroe.  I told myself and my roommate that I wanted just one date. Just one.

After just a few minutes into the date, on the way to Monroe, I was already hoping for another.  And a week later, there was another.  He took me to a crawfish boil.  And I ate crawfish for the first time. And I got some of the crawfish spice in my eye, and it puffed up so nicely.  Lovely! And that was the first night we had our picture taken together, and the first night Jay held my hand, and the first night he kissed me. It was not awkward or weird or too much (as those first kisses can be sometimes). It was perfect.  And he's been holding my hand and kissing me ever since.  20 plus years.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Day #12 Preacher's Kid

Life as a preacher's kid is the only one I've known.  My memories are (for the most part) sweet.  Some things stand out in my mind more than others.

Dad pastored Hargis Baptist Church in Montgomery, Louisiana,  from 1973 - 1978. We moved to Alexandria in 1978 and lived there until 1986, and Dad pastored Community Baptist Church.  In 1986, we moved out to Calcasieu where he pastored New Hope Baptist Church.

I do not remember much about living in Montgomery.  I remember that it was very exciting when the new church building was going up.  I remember the Tommy Drewitt family singing there.  I remember some sweet people loving on our family.

I have lots of memories of Community.  The church was a few miles away from England Air Force Base and because families stationed there were so far away from their own families, the church became their family in the truest sense of the word.  I thought all churches were like that.  Dad taught me how to drive, going around the outer edge of a cotton field next to our house and also practicing in the church parking lot (when no one else was there).  I also remember him shooting baskets with me in the parking lot there.  As I got taller, I think he thought he may have a ball player on his hands. It didn't take many times going to shoot for him to realize that was a futile thought.  My uncoordination revealed itself rapidly.  (But I am not bitter. At. All.)

When I was in 8th grade, we moved to Calcasieu.  Tommy and Kelli had both moved out, so I was without them.  As a 13 year old girl, I thought life was over - moving from the city to the country.    I think I was mad for about a year.  And I have no doubt that anyone who knew me then can attest to the fact that I was not a pleasant person to be around.  The summer between my 9th and 10th grades, I went to Alabama to work at a camp called The Vineyard.  To say that summer changed my life would be an understatement.  I went for one primary reason - to get away from  being the preacher's daughter.  In my mind, I had the most terrible life. After all, my dad had time for everyone. Except me.  (Again, I want to reiterate, this was in my mind.)  My friend and fellow-staffer, Ron, called me out on this.  And that made me so mad at the moment.  Looking back on that later, I saw that Ron was a true friend, willing to risk making me mad to tell me the truth.  About half way through the summer, Dudley Hall was the camp speaker, and God used him to get my attention.  That was the first time I felt like God was holding up a billboard just for me. And it said, "Let go.  Let go of the anger and resentment you feel toward your dad."  This was HUGE for me.  That was also the summer I met Chanda Heaton (Clark).  I had never spent time with someone my age before, who had such a personal walk with Christ.  That was life-changing for me.  I went home with a different attitude.  I went home with a new understanding and love for The Word.  And my relationship with Daddy became much sweeter. Perfect? No. Enjoyable? Yes.  And I know my mother must've been so thankful for the smart-mouthed, know-it-all, brash 14 year old girl to be left in Alabama.

I remember waking up in the middle of the night, to find extra kids at our house.  Dad had gotten a call from a couple in the midst of marital struggles, and gone to their house, then brought the kids back to our house to sleep, where it was quiet and safe. Then, gone back to the house to help the man and wife work through whatever was going on.  This happened more than once.  Sometimes they stayed for the night, sometimes longer.

When I was a senior in high school, Dad and Mom prayed with me every Monday morning before school, about where I would go to college, and my future.

I titled this post "Preacher's Kid" but maybe I should've called it "Tom Smith's Kid." I remember wanting to do something one time that my folks said no to, and I commented, "Well, if Daddy wasn't the preacher I could do it." And my mother quickly told me, that the beliefs he had were not because he was a preacher, but because he was a follower of Christ.  I have never forgotten that.

Just after we moved to Jefferson City (2003), I ran into a couple who had been at Community Baptist in the early 80's, and Dad had done their wedding.  The man told me that Dad had taught him about ministry and serving others in just one afternoon. This guy's father-in-law had died and my dad was asked to the funeral.  After the funeral was over, men in the family got shovels out to bury the casket because the family didn't have the money to pay the burial company to do it.  Dad took off his suit coat, laid it with his Bible nearby on the ground, grabbed a shovel and helped dig the grave.  This man told me that Dad's actions clearly showed him what ministry is.

At times, I felt like others looked at my life through a microscope.  And that was hard.  On the other hand, knowing that God has used my dad/my parents to work in so many people's lives - that is a feeling that is indescribable and humbling.  They have lived a life of surrender to the call of Christ on their lives.  What a legacy.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Day #11 Recipes I Enjoy

Dana's Special Fried Rice (from Dana Meeker Thornhill, via Becky Meeker)
2 eggs
5 T peanut oil
1 bunch green onions, chopped
4 c cooked rice
Chicken or beef pieces marinated in soy sauce
Chopped veggies: green pepper, mushrooms, carrots, snow peas, broccoli, water chestnuts, onions, bean sprouts [any combo, finely chop]
Sauce: 1/4 c chicken broth
3 T soy sauce
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp LaChoy brown gravy sauce (I used a different brand & it was fine)

Cook beaten eggs in peanut oil, separating into small pieces while cooking. Remove. Stir fry meat and remove. Stir fry veggies (carrots first as they take longest).  Add meat, green onions and rice.  Mix together, then add sauce.  Stir in eggs. Add additional soy sauce and cayenne to taste.

Shirley's Fried Rice (from Shirley Sears)
Cook some rice - I use my rice cooker, and most recipe's I've seen say to cool the rice, but I never have. In a large skillet, I fry a pound of bulk sausage and a large onion (or whatever size onion you have) chopped. When sausage is done, and onions, too, spoon out most of the fat from the sausage, and add from 3 to 5 eggs, and scramble them in the meat mixture for a while. Before they're completely cooked, start adding the cooked rice. I just put several cups of rice in, mix it up, and add more until I feel it's about the right amount, mixing after each addition. That's where it's hard to say how much to put in. As you add the rice, mix up everything (over a low heat) and then add soy sauce. Sometimes I use regular, and sometimes low sodium. It will start turning it somewhat brown. If I get too much soy sauce in it (taste it), I just add more rice. That's it.

I have also added, with the meat and onion mixture, carrots that I used a potato peeler on and have slivers of cooked carrots in it, too. This fried rice recipe is also the same mixture that I add to egg roll or spring roll wrappers, and then I deep fry them. When I make egg or spring rolls, I usually add some bean sprouts or cook a little bit of chopped cabbage with the meat mixture, too, before adding the rice and rolling them up and frying.

Easy Etouffee (courtesy of Amy Williams' fireman dad)
1 onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
¼ c oil
1 can cream of shrimp soup
1 can cream of celery soup
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can rotel tomatoes
1 pound raw shrimp, peeled & deveined
Salt and pepper, Tony’s Cajun seasoning, cayenne, garlic power, onion powder (I just sprinkle these in, go lightly with the cayenne, or leave it out. It’s got a good kick with the rotel & Tony’s.)

Saute onion & pepper in oil. Add shrimp. Stir while cooking over medium heat 3-4 minutes. Add all soups & rotel & spices. Simmer on low 25 minutes or so & then serve over cooked rice.

Shrimp Fettuccini (courtesy of my former neighbor, Sharon)
½ stick butter
1 pound shrimp, peeled & deveined
1 onion
1 bunch green onions (I leave these out)
1 can cream of shrimp soup
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can rotel
1 pound velveeta cheese
1 box fettuccini pasta
celery salt & Tony’s seasoning
Boil pasta & pour into greased 9x13.
Saute onions in butter. Add shrimp. When they are pink add the rest of the ingredients. Heat until cheese is melted. Pour mixture over pasta & bake at 375 for 30 minutes.

Chicken Pot Pie (thanks to Sandy Hall)
2 pie crusts
2 cups cooked chopped chicken
1/2c milk
2 cans cream of potato soup
1 can veg-all (drained & rinsed) 
1/4 tsp pepper

Stir together all ingredients (except pie crusts). Pour into crust. Top w the other. Bake at 375 for 1 hour. I cover the edges with foil for first 45 min.

I just tried Pioneer Woman's Twice Baked Potatoes recipe and they were delicious and have done well in the freezer also.  I used half the amount of butter it calls for and they were fine. Here's the link. http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2007/07/twice_baked_pot/


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Day #10

Disclaimer - By introducing this blog, I am not saying I agree with every word written here.

I left off something important yesterday. My cousin, Brian, writes a column for The Daily Quarterly. I think of it as my online news source, not a mere blog. So, if you like satirical writing, you might want to check this out.  http://www.thedailyquarterly.com/articles/

Brian lives in Jacksonville, Florida, with his beautiful wife, Christina, and 4 amazing children.  I've only been around Emily (the oldest) but with a dad like Brian, I don't know how his children could be anything but amazing.

He has a fantastic sense of humor and always makes me laugh whenever we are together.  Unfortunately, that is not often enough.  This is one disadvantage to living far away from extended family, not getting to see each other much.  Thankfully, with Facebook, I do at least feel like I have some idea of what is going on in his life.  Or at least how he's feeling about the MLB happening of the day.

Brian has given me lots of ideas to write about. And I intend to do it.  Starting tomorrow.  Or maybe recipes tomorrow (thanks, Mandy, for the idea!) and subjects that require more thought in a few days.

Happy Wednesday.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Day #9 Blogs I Enjoy

*Disclaimer - By introducing these blogs, I am not saying I agree with every word these people write.

I have been reading Big Mama & Boo Mama for several years now. Big's writing makes me smile, as living a life as a "child of the eighties" influence comes through from time to time. I love the music & book references. On Friday, she does Fashion Friday. You can check her out
here. http://thebigmamablog.com/

Boo Mama lives in Birmingham & her blog makes me laugh out loud. I love her Southernisms.  Anyway, you can read Boo here if you want to. www.boomama.net

If you really want some entertainment, Big & Boo have done a few podcasts that you can find and listen to on ITunes. Search for the Big Boo Cast. Travis Cottrell (aka Fry Daddy) has been their guest several times & his imitation of Neil Diamond makes me laugh every time I hear it. 

Lots of Scotts is another blog I enjoy. Jennifer is the mom of triplets & married to a surgeon.  As you can see, we have SO much in common! I love the way she sees truth & depth in everyday situations and just writes about life as it happens in her world. You can check her out here http://lotsofscotts.blogspot.com/

Beth Moore blogs. Enough said. http://blog.lproof.org/

http://lysaterkeurst.com/ is another good one. Lysa is the coordinator of Proverbs 31 Ministries. I've heard her speak several times & I'm about to start one of her Bible studies with a group of women on Wednesday nights at my church.

My brother-in-law, Mark, is a counselor & I love his insight, about marriage, relationships, life period. http://www.markdebord.com/counselors-corner.html

Jana writes her about life in the South, with her family of four. http://endrishomehappenings.blogspot.com/ I have known Jana since as far back as I can remember - our dads were pastors in Grant Parish in Louisiana back in the 70's. Her folks still live in central La. while my folks are now up north in Ouachita Parish.

Vicki Courtney has written numerous books about parenting (girls) that I have read & reread. She also has published a few issues of BeTween, which is a magazine type of writing for Tween girls. The last one was based on Proverbs. Both Katie & Mary Margaret have enjoyed these & pick them back up to read from time to time. Great resource! http://vickicourtney.com/

Denny Burk is a professor at Boyce College, which is under the arm of the seminary in Kentucky. I knew Denny at La Tech when he was a freshman in my family at the BSU. I enjoy reading his writing because it makes me think. http://www.dennyburk.com/

Dr. Marshall (my pastor) blogs. I smile when I read what he writes. http://www.secondbaptist.org/john316-blog-post/?post_id=1349537280

This blog is for mothers of daughters. http://modsquadblog.com/

This one is for wives of ministers. http://www.flourish.me/Blog/

This is The Nester, whose philosophy is "I've got a secret that will unlock creativity and hope for your home. Ready? Here it is: It doesn't have to be perfect to be beautiful. Yep. That's it. All you have to do is believe it." She is the blogger that challenged her readers to write for 31 days in October. But I still haven't figured out how in the world to link over there. But if you want to meet hundreds of other bloggers, you can do it from her blog. www.thenester.com.

Happy reading!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Day #8 My Favorite Books

No surprise here that I am writing about books. The Bible has been been the most impacting book I've ever read. My favorite novels are...

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (the movie will be shown in theaters nationwide November 15 in honor of the 50th anniversary).

 Not My Will by Francena Arnold

Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers

 and The Help by Kathryn Stockett.
My favorite children's novel is Treasures of the Snow by Patricia St. John. Best read aloud novel ever.

My favorite authors are John Grisham, Mary Higgins Clark, Eva Marie Everson, Elizabeth Musser, and Ann Tatlock.

I'm not reading as much as I used to.  I miss the Jefferson City library (librarians). Jay called us three girls library groupies.  But...I will say, having 10 branches of the library all over Springfield is great! And they have an extensive Christian fiction selection.  And tv series on dvd. And a great coffee shop. And cd's, too!

Anybody have a favorite author to tell me about? I'm always looking for new reads.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Day #7 Community

 Today in the Court, Daniel preached from 1 Thessalonians 3. It's about the sense of community within the early church. He posed this question: Am I in community with other believers
Am I known? Do I know others?  Really know them?

True community is so much more than saying good morning to other people at church - people that I see Sunday after Sunday.

1Thessalonians 3. Check it out.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Day #6

I turned 40 this summer.

And I had a hard time with it! I believe God timed our moving perfectly, as I was so occupied with that, and I didn't really have tons of time to dwell on the birthday.  Jay, Becky, Dana & Sarah worked hard and threw me a lovely party.


It was a wonderful night. I felt celebrated and loved. (I have so few pics from that night. If anyone has any others, please send them to me! Thank you!)
Then we moved a few weeks later, and I haven't had much time to consider that I am no  longer in my thirties. 
Last Sunday night, at church, Jay, Mary Margaret & I were visiting with a few people & Jennifer Rothschild asked me how old I was, and when I replied, "I turned 40 this summer" Mary Margaret leaned over to me and asked, "Mom, is that the first time you've had to say it out loud?" Boy, does she know me or what!?
And Jennifer responded with something like, "No, Niki! Embrace growing older! It's wonderful!" and she went on to say this, "I feel so much more comfortable in my own skin now than I did when I was 30."
I have thought and thought and thought about this. And I realized that she is right! I had not thought of it like that, but she is right.  And I'm so glad she said that to me.
When I think of how I felt about myself at 30, it does seem so different than how I do now.  We moved to Jefferson City when I was 31, but I've told Jay that I feel like I grew up there.  My walk with Christ is so different now that it was then and I know that is the strongest factor in this. 
What about you? Are you comfortable in your own skin? Comment or email if you'd like to.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Day #5

In honor of Kelli's visit this weekend, I am posting about an adventure we had back in the summer of 2010.
Several months back, Kelli and I got tickets to go see Beth Moore in St. Louis, June 25 and 26. We made our plans and we were ready to go. 

I had the brilliant idea that we could take the MetroLink from our hotel (in Clayton - approx 7 miles away) to the Chaiffetz Arena (on STLU campus) to hear Beth. After all, we might have to pay $5 to park! and we are frugal people! Our husbands would be so proud of us (the frugal part).

So...after 3 MetroLink stations, incorrect directions from at least 4 St. Louisans, and walking (the WRONG direction) approx 2.5 - 3 miles, (right through what appeared to be a group ready for gang initiation waiting on the city bus) in our cute, freshly ironed outfits, accessories and darling shoes (meant for completing the look, NOT walking, walking, walking), carrying our Bible study bags, sweating until we were dripping, getting blisters on the bottom of our feet, walking into the Children's Hospital to call a cab, look for a water fountain and ask for Band-aids, meeting the Security Guard, Mr. Stuckey,

 our new (former Marine, 60ish) Hero who cancelled our call for the cab and drove us over to the arena...after all that, after leaving our hotel at 3:45, we walked into the arena at 6:50....imagine our delight, to not only get to our final destination, but also have a terrific friend, Sandee

who had saved us seats... on the front row! Can I just say, it doesn't get any better than front row seats at a Living Proof Live event? Kelli and I both warned the girls on either side of us to be forewarned, that we were not "smelling pretty" and believe me, we were not. It was about 5 til 7, and I was frantically texting Tara to ask if she and Tamara would give us a ride back to our hotel when it was over -- I knew it would not be safe to walk to the Metro-Link at 10 pm. I found her, she agreed to give us a ride. So, we get into the arena.

I found my seat, took a deep breath, and Kelli said, "Look 3 seats down." I did. You'll never believe who was there! BooMama! we rushed right over, and I said, "Boo?" and she looked up, smiling & said, "Yes?" We then proceeded to hug and act as if we've known each other forever, and she wanted to know our names and where were from, and then the music started, and our visit was cut short. But that's ok, because we got to say hello and make a picture.
It was a crazy afternoon, leading up to the event. But once the worship started, it was so great to forget about getting there and just enjoy being there. Beth brought the Word, and taught us about each of being created in the image of God.

Great conversation, teaching, worship, laughs, Krispy Kremes, wrong turns, more laughs, food at Applebee's (weight watcher menus), hurting feet, gross peaches, a man who wanted to take care of us "lovely ladies," shopping fun, a waitress whose tatoo said "Daddy's Girl" and much more than I can remember now...all that to say, we made some memories.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Day #4

"We Will Dance"
Take a listen - copy & paste this into your browser.
This song is such a sweet song to me, telling of the seasons we go through in marriage. On our wedding day, when I said, "I do" and "I will," I knew that I meant those words with all my heart. What I did not know was all that those words cover - all the circumstances - injuries, sicknesses, surgeries - not to mention wanting (more) babies, fertility meds, losing a baby, job/career changes, moves, apologies, forgiveness, etc.
I also had no idea the joy that would be a part of my life due to the smiles, the laughter, the two dear girls we get to parent together (as we sometimes still wonder what in the world we are doing!), the adventure & excitement & comfort that comes from knowing that I still do & I still will.
It is not perfect.
But it is a delight.
That is for sure.
"We Will Dance"
I've watched the sunrise in your eyes
And I've seen the tears fall like the rain
You've seen me fight so brave and strong
You've held my hand when I'm afraid
We've watched the seasons come and go
We'll see them come and go again
But in winter's chill, or summer's breeze
One thing will not be changin'
We will dance
When the sun is shining
In the pouring rain
We'll spin and we'll sway
And we will dance
When the gentle breeze
Becomes a hurricane
The music will play
And I'll take your hand
And hold you close to me
And we will dance
Sometimes it's hard to hold you tight
Sometimes we feel so far apart
Sometimes we dance as one
And feel the beating of each others hearts
Some days the dance is slow and sweet
Some days we're bouncing off the walls
No matter how this world may turn
Our love will keep us from fallin'
And we will dance
When the sun is shining
In the pouring rain
We'll spin and we'll sway
And we will dance
When the gentle breeze
Becomes a hurricane
The music will play
And I'll take your hand
And hold you close to me
And we will dance
The music will play
And I'll hold you close
And I won't let you go
Even when our steps
Grow weak and slow
Still I'll take your hand
And hold you close to me
And we, will dance

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Day #3 Christmas music

Day 3 - Christmas music I love Christmas music. Every year it seems that I discover a new song that I really like. A few years ago, Kelli & Mark gave us tickets to see the Casting Crowns Christmas tour (which was an a amzing concert!). My friend, Nicole, went to it in Louisiana a few nights before we went in St. Louis & she called me & said to listen up when Natalie Grant sang "I Believe." That song is now one of my all time favorites & I listen to it all year long.
Joy introduced me to "Winter Snow" that Audrey Assad sings with Chris Tomlin - another I can listen to all year long.
Francesca Battistelli has two Christmas songs I love, "You're Here" from her Christmas cd & then "Be Born in Me" from the music inspired by The Story.
I have enjoyed both of Mariah Carey's Christmas albums. I love all of Jim Brickman's Christmas ones, too. 4Him Christmas has been a favorite for years. "Breath of Heaven" is a favorite year after year. Amy Grant is a Christmas standard for me.
My all time favorite not-about-Jesus Christmas song is "Merry Christmas, Darling" sung by Karen Carpenter.
I bought the Matthew West Christmas cd last year right after the holidays, but I've made myself wait to listen to it. Only a few more weeks! Please comment & tell me your favorites!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Day #2 More Music

Day #2 More Music It was around the time of my freshman year in college that Amy Grant's "Baby, Baby" came out & I loved every single song on that cassette!
I also got my first Amy Grant Christmas tape my freshman year of college. I still know all the words to "Sleigh Ride."
Point of Grace came on the scene. I loved their close harmonies & sing-along-ableness. "Jesus Will Still be There" & "I'll be Believin'"
Michael W. Smith's "Go West, Young Man" was another one of my favorites.
On our honeymoon, in 1994, we bought our first Phillips, Craig & Dean. And left it in the tape player in our rental car. We went to see them in concert that fall & that was the first concert I went to that I felt like was a worship service more than a concert. It was amazing.
When we started attending First West in 1998, a contemporary worship service was a new experience, and we soaked it up like a sponge. Terry Howard was leading worship then, and the church was still meeting in the old sanctuary. Worship (at church) changed for me. Because of the songs we were singing, I felt much more like I was singing to God, rather than just about Him. We were introduced to songs like "Better than Life" and "Shout to the Lord." I discovered MercyMe around this time. "Here Am I" is one of my all time favorites of theirs. I remember listening to that over & over around the time we were getting ready to move from Louisiana to Missouri.
Moving to Jefferson City in 2003, artists like Avalon, FFH, Mark Schulz & Jump5 (musical influence of Katie!) were played frequently in our car. In 2005ish, I discovered Steven Curtis Chapman's love songs cd. It came at a time of renewal for Jay & me and those songs were so sweet to me because of that. "We will Dance" was my favorite, simple ballad that talks about the seasons of life that we go through.
Travis Cottrell. Need I say more? He is an amazing worship leader. As Jay says, "He has got some pipes!" Tara & I got to work his sales table when he sang at the MBC annual meeting in 2009.
In January of 2010, our world shifted a bit as Jay's job took on some new responsibilites, and I listened to Audrey Assad's "Restless" many times.
In recent years, my favorites have been Matt Maher, Brandon Heath, (these two are coming together in concert in a few weeks!) Mandisa, and music inspired by The Story. This is an amazing cd. It's filled with songs from the perspectives of people in the Bible. Bart Millard sings as Moses. Brandon Heath sings as Joseph. Francesca Batistelli sings as Mary, the mother of Jesus, and Natalie Grant sings as Mary Magdalene, after Jesus' resurrection.
One thing I love about music is that hearing a song can take me back - back to a time in my life, to wherever we may have lived at the time, to what Bible study I was doing at the time. Last night, we sang Bill & Gloria Gaither songs, and oh my goodness, I was taken back to Community Baptist Church, and New Hope Baptist Church. Memories came flooding back. Sweet, sweet times. What great experiences in my life. Tomorrow, it's Christmas!