Friday, June 29, 2007

I'M FEELING LIKE THE BOUNCING BALL THAT LANDED WITH A THUD...I've been home more than a week now from Memphis and Franklin and still feel like I will never catch up around here! I think that two weeks away out of the month of May plus VBS plus a women's event was too much. My brain feels totally scrambled and I can't seem to get any organized thoughts moving in my head. Well, just a few, but not enough to do me any good.
Last weekend I got some gardening gaps filled so our tiny yard would look good for the remainder of the summer. I still don't know if all the plants are in the right location for the amount of sun they will get but the timing worked out great last weekend. It was cool AND rainy so the plants hardly even drooped after being replanted.
I'm doing a little work in the house, but the debris seems to be multiplying before my eyes. When my brain gets mushy like this, I have a much harder time going through stuff and knowing what to do with it.
Yesterday was a great break. I went to Bloomington (about an hour away) and met a new friend for lunch at Panera bread. I was supposed to help her but I think the visit helped me more than it helped her. I listened to some CD's on the way (that Tara Barthel was getting rid of on her blog one day) and they were JUST what I needed. They were from the WIC Women's Leadership Training Conference this past March (I think...or 2005). Barbara Juliani's talk on the Heart of a Teacher was really great. One thing she said that I needed to hear was that prayer is how we let God know that we have nothing to offer Him and we can't do anything on our own...expecially the christian life! (not a direct is a blend of her quote and how I processed it.) That really got me. Even though I know I can't do it on my own, it is only intellectual knowledge based on my actual prayer life. Her words were very convicting and very true! I think I needed the drive to listen to the CD's. The lunch and fellowship with another pastor's wife was pure gravy:)
Today, we will be going to a baseball game! We really aren't great baseball fans...especially me:) The local team is the Peoria Chiefs. It is now a Chicago Cubs farm team. That has changed since we have been here I think, but that is the way it is now. In the local competition between the two teams--Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals--things can get pretty lively. Some families can get divided over loyalty to the teams. If I had to choose, my choice would be in the direction of the Cards, but we'll go and sweat tonite with a group at this game and enjoy it. i'll end of visiting with people and miss most of what happens on the field:) I just don't know enough about baseball strategy to stay riveted on the game. Besides, it moves ever so slowly.
Since the bouncing ball has bounced from topic to topic, I'd better stop for now...and eat lunch:)

It was almost a shut-out. Peoria won 9-1 I think. At the last minute, the other team made a run. I think they were from Iowa. It was a fun evening and the weather was great. I needed a jacket!

Sunday, June 10, 2007

OUR NEXT DESTINATION...MEMPHIS, TN...that's right, we're headed to the Presbyterian Church in America's (now do you know why we usually use the initials PCA?) General Assembly tomorrow. For Ron, as a teaching elder, it is a week of meetings...listening to reports of committees, doing business of the denomination mixed with prayer and worship. He actually enjoys it. He enjoys hearing what God is doing in the Missions arm, the church planting arm, the Christian Education arm, etc. of the denomination. He runs into all kinds of people that he has worked with over the years in other churches, presbyteries at the presbytery level and sometimes on the mission field when we were working with a "faith" mission. We have friends that we see almost every year that we get to catch up with and people we never expect to see. It is always an interesting week from many perspectives. There is usually some big theological issue that is being hashed out on the floor. This year is no exception. There is a big study paper on a topic that I still don't know if I understand. The exciting thing is that here the issues are related to "What does God's Word have to say about this?". We served in another presbyterian denomination before this one was started and in many discussions, that was not the starting point. It became more and more frustrating. We still often have disagreements but at least we DO agree on our starting point. Often if things get tense on the floor, the moderator will take time out for prayer or singing of a hymn or two to change the focus. Have you ever heard a room full of about 1300+ men heartily singing hymns? There is nothing like it to warm your soul!
For the women, there are seminars, some luncheons, special speakers and the main gigantic book table that we can pore over for resources and booths from a variety of organizations (further resources). Some women watch the proceedings from the visitor's section. (That just doesn't happen to be my forte.) I find it very refreshing for me. It "fills my cup" and energizes me to go back home. I often have people I am looking up to get further information on certain topics where I need more help.
In the evenings--Tuesday through Thursday--there are wonderful worship services. Depending on the presbytery where General Assembly is held, the worship services are quite different. Usually they have a more traditional night, a more contemporary night and a more mixed night, but not always. The congregational singing is always fantastic. It is weighted more heavily male and they really sing. Some raise their hands in worship, some don't. I love that we don't all do it the same. I love that we have not thrown out the old hymns. Some of our people are putting new tunes to some of the old ones. Some I like, some I don't. I guess that's the way it is with changes. The evening worship services are a highlight. We have some wonderful preaching--sometimes well-known men, sometimes not.
Can you tell that I love to go to General Assembly. It is a wonderful week for both of us...for different reasons. We look forward to this week as well. At the end of the week, we'll take a few days in Franklin, TN with our daughter and her family there. Then we will head home with the books and information we have gathered and try to put it into practice:)

Monday, June 04, 2007

I'M PLAYING CATCH-UP AGAIN...hopefully, you'll bear with me over the next few days as I catch up on my blog with all the activities of the past few weeks.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY PRINCESS CAROLINE...our oldest granddaughter turned four on May 25. Her aunt in Ukraine even found her a crown:) I had to show you some photos. This was taken on her birthday when we went to visit her G.G. (great-grandmother--she has 2 in Seattle). The birthday party was the next day. What could be more fun than having a bunch of friends over to a gymnastics gym for a birthday party? After the kids jumped and played and bounced around there, they came into the party room that we had set up and had pizza, cupcakes and drinks. Of course, there were lots of balloons and best of all, a pinata. (That family tradition started at her parents' wedding reception.) When the kids finally broke it open, there was lots of candy and a bunch of finger puppets too. I think the kids had a lot of fun as well as the parents.

SPEAKING OF BIRTHDAYS, QUINN turned one on April 30. I have a photo of that too but can't get to it. I guess I'll just have to use one from Caroline's birthday weekend. Quinn is running all over the place, says a few words and is trying to keep up with big sister. I'm not sure she realizes she is a little kid.

I'd better quit while I have two photos in place safely.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

TARA BARTHEL VISITS HANNA CITY, IL...I guess if you are going for an amazing news headline, that is ours. Now for the photo to accompany it. Whoops! Your absent-minded photographer was not as alert as she thought on the day of the seminar! I took the camera with me to the church, I looked at Tara's photos of her family, we talked about blogs, etc. Do you think that even once, it crossed my mind to take a picture? NO, not even one time! When I got home, much later that evening, after a nap, I remembered my ditz-headedness. So there will be no photos of the not even ONE. That is how I know that I was even more dazed than I realized from my trip. So Megan, of Halfpint House, you don't ever have to feel inferior around me:) (Actually, I can give you about 50,000 reasons why you wouldn't have to, but we won't even go there.)
I'm looking forward to talking more to our ladies tomorrow, but the ones I talked to on Wednesday...or have heard from...have been so encouraged by Tara's talk on the Four G's of Biblical Conflict Resolution. (See the Peacemaker pamphlet from Peacemaker Ministries.) One lady from a nearby church told me she was so grateful we had told her about Tara. (We put an ad in the local paper that goes to a lot of the small towns around here.) Another older lady who was once a member of our church, wrote me a letter to thank us for having Tara. This is not to glorify Tara, but to glorify the Lord. The message of the gospel that was presented by Tara with the emphasis on God's grace, love and mercy is one that is not heard around here much. I don't believe that these christians would ever say that they are working their way to heaven, but the many live as if their salvation rests functionally on their performance and they get so disheartened. This presentation reminding us of how much God has forgiven us in Christ, how we are to forgive others, not motivated by guilt, but because of the grace that has been shown to us was like putting salve on wounded hearts. Her personal illustrations and honesty touched people where they live. I know God was there and trust that it was the beginning of a special work he will do in all of our hearts...starting with me. We are grateful to both Tara and her friend for the sacrifice of most of the day (plus preparation) that it took for her to be with us. It meant a lot.

HOME AGAIN, HOME AGAIN...after a week away, we arrived home late Tuesday night from Seattle after a very crazy day! I HAD to be home in time for Wednesday morning the 30th. We have been planning a ladies' seminar with Tara Barthel for weeks. When we first knew about it, we thought it would be later in the summer, so I got our tickets for Seattle with the coupon that gives a major discount before June 1. AFTER the tickets were purchased, we got the final dates for the seminar--May 30...the day after I would arrive home. Since that was the best date for everyone else, I knew it was possible to do it. I don't have children and their schedules to deal with. So of course, the problem to manage (which was totally out of my control) was the plane scheduling.

Our flight was Seattle to Dallas, Dallas to Peoria. It was scheduled to leave at 12 noon. We were loaded on the plane and at 1 PM we were told that the minor hydraulic problem was a major one that would cause, at best a major delay and at worse, a cancelled flight. By the time we were off the plane, there was a long line of people waiting to get rerouted. My husband stood in line while I checked the board for the next flight to Chicago. It was leaving at 1:25 PM. Since their line only had two people in it, I got in that one and happily, there were two seats on the plane to accomodate us. I motioned to my husband to come over, we showed our ID and we were good to go. The agent warned us that we would not have good seats and we would not have our checked luggage. I told him that was the least of my worries. I needed to get home!

We got to Chicago an hour later than our original plan and the flight from Chicago to Peoria that is often cancelled, wasn't. We got in about an hour later than the flight from Dallas was supposed to get there, but WE GOT HOME! By the time I got some things typed into my computer for Wednesday and had my things all lined up for the morning, it was 1 AM. I slept well and our day with Tara went very well. More on that later. TO GOD BE THE GLORY! (I don't say that tritely because we were praying to get home on time for Wednesday and others were too.)

SEE THE FOLLOWING ARCHIVED BOOK LIST. I'M JUST GETTING AROUND TO UPDATING IT! Between my mom's death in March, burial in May and the Bible study preparations and meetings in between, I have not had time to catch up on this TBR reading challenge. The other goof I made was in having way too many books on depression and I just was not up to wading through them all. I'm entering my prime reading time now with recent traveling (where I finished one book) and car traveling where I'll probably finish a few more partially done ones.

TBR CHALLENGE! I'VE ENTERED A CHALLENGE FOR 2007 (TO BE READ) TO COMPLETE A BOOK A MONTH...of my choosing, that I've been wanting to read for awhile. The TBR Challenge is here. It wasn't hard to find 12 books I've been wanting to read. Unfortunately, none of them are fiction...or even light reading! I'm WAY behind in NEED TO reading. If I keep up with the challenge, there is a CHANCE that I could win a prize during a drawing in month 3 or 6. Knowing my past history, I won't hold my breath:) Here's my list:
  • Getting Over the Blues-Leslie Vernick
  • Depression: A Stubborn Darkness-Edward Welch
  • Addictions: A Banquet in the Grave-Edward Welch
  • Perfecting Ourselves to Death-Richard Winter
  • Real Love for Real Life-Andi Ashworth
  • To Be Told-Dan Allender-Great! very helpful in sorting thro' floods of memories. MAY
  • When I Don't Desire God-John Piper
  • Simplify Your Time-Marcia Ramsland
  • Too Small to Ignore-Wess Stafford
  • Each for the Other-Bryan Chapell
  • The Way We work-Cynthia Tobias
  • His Word in my Heart-Janet Pope


  • Women Helping Women-Ellyse Fitzpatrick/Carol Cornish
  • Whatever Happened to the Gospel of Grace?-James M. Boice
  • Holiness by Grace-Bryan Chapell
  • The Proper Care and Feeding of Marriage-Laura Schlessinger
  • War of Words-Paul Tripp
  • The Second Half of Marriage-David and Claudia Arp
  • for balance, I must choose some fiction!...and here are my final additions to the list.
  • Miss Julia Hits the Road-Ann B. Ross-funny espec. if you have lived in the south.JA
  • Losing My Mind-Thomas DiBaggio-1st person view of Alzheimer's by atheist-gloomyJA
  • Cry, the Beloved Country- Alan Paton-couldn't get into it. quit.
  • Whose Body?-Dorothy Sayers
  • Under the Overpass-Mike Yankowski
  • Winesburg, Ohio-Sherwood Anderson
  • Till We Have Faces-C.S. Lewis
  • Reaching Out Without Dumbing Down-Marva Dawn
  • either Windows to the World; Triumphs of the Imagination; or Realms of Gold-Leland Ryken

So there you have it. I plan to read 12 of these books this year. I hope I make it. I've been wanting to read some of these books for a few years!! It's time I do it.

One thing that tends to spur me on to action is a need--either mine, that of someone close to me or someone for whom I feel responsible. All go together to motivate me to get the depression books read. Just today, someone I know was taken to the hospital and most likely admitted for a related problem. I need to have a better handle on how to minister to people (frequently women) who struggle in this area. It is very common and is NOT a simple one to deal with. Some of the other books are for personal growth. It would be fun to read a good fiction book. I'll check around and see what I can find to add to the alternative list. I would hate to be off-balance:) (For those who know me, you can keep the sarcastic comments to yourself!) I'd better move along and try to finish this blog so I can get the photo in that I wanted to put into my Christmas blog, so I can enter that one! This traveling (and the sickness that often comes with it!) puts me so far behind. I'll say adieu for now as we start 2007.