Monday, November 23, 2009

Giving of thanks

It's the time of year again where we focus on the things for which we are thankful. As I think I've said before, it seems a shame that we shove so much thankfulness into a few days and seem to not have any for the rest of the year. I want to be thankful at Thanksgiving - but I want to be thankful for the rest of the year, also.

We are having Thanksgiving at our house this year. It should be fun. We've done it here twice before. I have no idea who is coming -- it's not as large a group since it's not at my grandmother's house, but she just can't handle all that goes into hosting a meal for a big family anymore. She still does Christmas, but two meals in two months is just too much.

So, as I prepare the house and prepare the kitchen and prepare the food, I am praying that I find time to give thanks to the One who makes all of this possible, the One who provides all I need for every day, and not just the fourth Thursday in November.

Thank you, Lord.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Self Confidence

Blaine has no issues with self confidence. Much like his mother, he has a firm understanding of his self worth. I base this on the following conversation:

Blaine: Mom, is this how so-and-so happens? (Long, detailed, scientifically correct explanation)

Me: Yep, that's right. Good job.

Blaine: I'm a smart little boy.

Yes, he is, lol.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Oh, dear

I just did something really scary. I mean, incredibly terrifying.

I just completed the registration process for my college courses which start in January. Yep, you read that right -- I'm going back to school!!!

Oh, crud.

The first time I attempted college, I didn't really put forth my "full effort." In fact, the second semester, I'm relatively certain I never even met half of my professors. I was working full time, getting married and having a baby. I was a little busy. College just didn't seem like something that was all that important.

Fast forward ten years. My boys are 9, 8 & 6. I homeschool them, and I am at home all the time. I love my kids, but I truly feel like my brain is rotting. I told my husband that I felt like I needed to do something to improve myself, something to be more effective for the Lord and for my family. I was thinking something like taking piano lessons. Instead, Nate suggested I return to college.

So, after much thought, much prayer, and several sleepless nights during which I lay awake, staring up at the sky (through the roof, with my x-ray vision) wondering when on earth I was going to have time to do school, I applied. And was accepted. And registered for classes. And figured out how to PAY for the classes. And now, I am officially a Liberty University Online student.

Oh, crud.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Growing up

Justin is very concerned about growing up. It's something that this little 6 year old thinks about quite a bit.

This morning, he told me he would like a snack. Then, he said, "I think I need to learn to get my own food. I don't want to act like a little baby for the rest of my life."

I guess it's never too soon to plan for the future . . .

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

M2M scavenger hunt answers

What an awesome idea!!!

In case you're reading this and have no idea what I'm talking about, check out this post over at A Preacher's Wife!! All those PWs out there, come play along with me!

1. First Name. Dana

2. State and Country of Residence. Virginia, USA

3. Husband’s Ministry Title. Pastor. Only pastor. Solo pastor. The preacher. Chief cook and bottle washer. Dude who people call when freaking out.

4. Length of time in Current Ministry Location. My darling husband has been pastoring at FGCF since its inception, practically. The church as an entity existed for about six months before they called him, officially, in March of 2008. So, about 19 months or so. (Has it been that long?!?!? Or that short?!?!?)

5. Children? If yes, give gender and ages. I have three rambunctious, wide open little boys. Josh is 9, Blaine is 8, and Justin is 6.

6. Number of unique homes in which you’ve lived during your marriage. Just two. We've lived in our current home for about 8 years. We are an independent, nondemoninational church that is planning to stay in our local area. So, I'm hoping to live here until the Lord takes me home. I HATE packing!!!

7. Cook Sunday lunch or eat out? If I had my druthers, I'd eat out nearly every meal. But my wallet and my waistline do not permit such, so we generally eat in. I cook most of the meals, but my husband is a fabulous cook when he's in the mood!!!

8. Typically on time for Sunday School or not? Always on time. I live across the road from the building where we meet, and walk to church. I have to set up the music stuff, so we're always there 30 minutes before church should start. And then, church starts 10 minutes late.

9. Favorite TV Show. NCIS.

10. Something you watch/like/do that you would never tell the church people. My church people know me pretty well! But I don't make an issue of the fact that I read almost all fantasy novels. And I really enjoy Dan Brown novels.

11. Most annoying church-related pet peeve. People who church hop looking for a children/youth ministry that they love, but refuse to volunteer or work to grow one.

12. One thing you need to throw away but can’t bring yourself to do it. A sweater I absolutely love. It came completely unseamed up one side, and is a material that would be difficult to resew. So, it's just up on a shelf.

13. The one food you can not live without. Just one?!?! I love food! But probably buffalo wings.

14. Parsonage or have your own home? My own home. I actually live in the home my father grew up in, about half a mile from my parents. Nate's family all lives pretty close, too.

15. Freak when the doorbell rings or always ready for a visitor? I used to freak because my house was such a mess. My house is not any cleaner, but I'm more accepting of it, and freak a bit less.


Blessings & the work they require

Our church is growing! Yay!! Last week, there were 12 people in our children's church room during the sermon. I was one of them and two of them were teenage helpers, but that still means there were 9 kids! YAY!! And we had several regulars missing.

This is without a doubt a blessing. We have been reaching out to the community with events and cards and letters for the past 18 months, and they are starting to respond.

But we meet in a teeny, tiny little house. It's a two bedroom, one bath house with an open style living/dining room/kitchen that we use as the sanctuary. The bedrooms are small -- 10x12, maybe. So, when you have nine kids plus in a room, it's crowded!! And LOUD!!

Without a doubt, this growth is a blessing. But it's going to require hard work, and without a doubt a new facility. As a book I once read says, you can't create a wave. But it's up to us, in the church, to ride the waves that God creates. We're on a wave right now, and we need to make some changes so that we ride it, instead of having it crash over our heads!!

Friday, August 07, 2009

Children's Ministry

We are just finishing up a fabulous week of VBS at our church. It has truly been a wonderful time of building community, building family and teaching little ones about Jesus. I think they all had fun, and I hope they all got a bit closer to that moment when they answer Jesus' knock on the door of their hearts.

VBS is very special to me, as a lifelong Christian. I loved VBS as a child, and started helping when I was about 12. I was at an awkward age in my church -- quite a large group of kids three to five years younger than me, and a fair group of kids five or so years older than me, but pretty much just me in the middle. Since I knew a lot about little children thanks to my big extended family and my mother's babysitting, I started out working in the nursery at about 12. I taught my first class at 15, and have been teaching ever since.

In my area, quite a few churches are tending away from Vacation Bible School. It is too much work, too much effort, too hard on small churches with few volunteers. Although no one seems to ever say it, the emotion seems to be, "After all, it's only kids who come."

This is a MEGA pet peeve of mine. Maybe it's because I have always worked with kids and love kids, but I think the children's ministry is one of the, if not the, most important ministries in a church. First of all, if you attract the kids, the parents and oftentimes the grandparents will come. Second, statistics show that most people who are saved are saved as a child or a teen. Third, Jesus himself seemed to appreciate children for their honest, simple faith and open hearts in Luke 18:16.

If Jesus himself rebuked his disciples for not encouraging the children to come to Him, who are we to do any different? Why wouldn't we want to attract His littlest children to Him? Why wouldn't we do everything in our power to have a vital and growing children's ministry?

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Awesome realization

My children are currently working on memorizing the Lord's prayer for their Bible work for school. As an aside, my husband is highly irritated by that name, since Jesus would never have needed to pray this prayer, but I digress.

As part of our Bible memory, I try very hard to relate the verses to things my children can understand. It's not enough that they memorize the words -- they need to understand them, to truly get what God was trying to say.

During my explanation of this prayer, it struck me how many times I said things like, "just like your daddy does." Now, my husband is not God. Trust me, I am not able to confuse the two. If ANYONE knows his faults and foibles, I do.

But he truly models that fatherly relationship to our children, in a way I can't even describe. The boys have no doubt that God loves them and wants to spend time with them. After all, He is their Father, and as far as they know, all fathers spend time with their children. All fathers teach their children. All fathers love their children, at times discipline their children, and have their children's very best interests at heart every second of every day. Because, after all, their daddy does.

I love my husband for many reasons, far too numerous to list in a blog post. But today I realize that one of reason I love him more and more each day is his shining example and love for our children. He is not a perfect father -- but he does his best at every moment to point the way to the One who is.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Yay, a Carnival!!!!!!

Okay, what homeschooling mother couldn't use some tips on getting more organized?!?! Heck, what mom couldn't handle being more organized whether you homeschool or not?

If you could use a tip or two, check out the Organized Homeschool Carnival posted by Heart of the Matter, an awesome online homeschooling magazine!

Check it out!

Saturday, March 07, 2009

A Kool-Aid Mom

Throughout my nine years, so far, of being a mother, I've discovered that there are lots of different kinds of moms. No one way is right, of course, but each mom is created by God with a different parenting style. There are extremes that are problematic, but for the most part, mothers fall along a contiuum. Some moms are very strict, very scheduled, very organized. Other moms are very laid back, completely go-with-the-flow, and thrive on chaos. Most moms fall somewhere in the middle.

I am currently babysitting a beautiful little six week old girl and a handsome two year old little boy. These two children come from very different families, and have very different types of moms. The little girl's mom is young, a first-time mom, who is very open to advice and extremely flexible. The little boy's mom is not as young, also a first-time mom, who is happy to hear advice but has a certain way she wants things done. I have no problem with either style, as far as the babysitter, but exposure to their disparate approaches has caused me to examine my parenting style.

I came to the conclusion that I'm a Kool Aid mom. Let me explain. Some moms are all about organic food and organic cleansing products; they bake their own bread from the wheat they ground themselves, and then clean the counter with vinegar and baking soda. I'm more into Scrubbing Bubbles and Sunbeam. Easier, but still effective - like Kool Aid versus home-pressed apple juice. Some moms keep their children very scheduled, with lots of sports and clubs. I like my kids to have time to run and play in the yard and just hang out. Picture summer time, playing in the sprinkler and enjoying a tall glass of red Kool Aid. Some moms hover over their children, staying very close as they play outside. They are protective and concerned. I tend to shove my kids out the door as soon as the chance of frostbite has passed over, and tell them not to come back inside. I have been known to lock them out on the porch, from time to time. I don't worry about stains, serving them only water. I give 'em all the grape Kool Aid they can drink.

See? I'm a Kool Aid mom.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009


My Justin stories tend to be active in nature. He is a very . . . active little boy. I am far more likely to find him standing on the back of the sofa than sitting on it. But every once in a while, he does something really cute. Today was one of those Once in a while's.

I am babysitting a precious little baby girl who is 6 weeks old. Justin said something about having her get up and walk. I told him, "Baby A can't walk, sweetheart."

He looked at me with brown eyes wide open and said, "We need to pray for her, so she will feel better and walk."

Cute, huh?

Monday, March 02, 2009

Good Little Christian Family

Okay, I am officially a Christian. I mean, I was saved at the age of 9, but recently I've been feeling a little left out of Christian culture. See, despite the fact that my husband is a pastor --- we had not seen Fireproof. We still haven't seen Facing The Giants, although we've owned it for months.

First off, the movie was pretty good. I thought it was kind of predictable, since I knew how it was going to end. That could have been because we saw it so late, though. The couple fighting reminded me of some people we knew, and I think they might be able to get something out of this movie. It likely would have meant a lot more if Nate and I were in a struggling or new relationship. It's certainly a movie that a newly married Christian couple or a couple that is having issues could benefit from.

However, the hype around this made me think of the Christian sub-culture. We seem to be a sub-culture of fads, of movements. Doesn't it seem to you like things go in waves, through all the churches, and you aren't really considered part of the Christian "in" crowd unless you've read/seen/done whatever it is? Like the Purpose Driven Life. I'm not anti-Purpose Driven Life, really, but the hype got old. FAST.

It makes me wonder how many of the marketing people, advertising people, publishing people are truly Christians who want to impact the world for God's goodness.

Or, is it more likely that they know by stamping "Christian" on a product, it has a guaranteed audience? Is it about Jesus? Or is it about money?

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Help out a great cause!

I want to let everyone know about an opportunity to help out a great family. My good online friend, Gillian, and her husband Sergei are adding a beautiful little girl to the three girls the Lord has already blessed them with.

Their youngest biological daughter, Polly, has Downs Syndrome. They were missionaries in the Ukraine until Polly was born, when they returned home to give her the advantage of therapies only available here in the US.

Sergei and Gillian are now adopting another little girl from the Ukraine who also has Downs Syndrome. You can see her beautiful face on the button to the right.

International adoption is extremely expensive, and this family is running a fundraiser on their blog. For every $10 you contribute, you will receive an entry into a drawing for a really cool camera! Check it out here!!

If you can't contribute financially, could you please pray for them?


Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Happy Birthday, Joshua!!

Today is Joshua's 9th birthday. I have to confess, I feel a little shocked. I distinctly recall bringing him home from the hospital just a little bit ago. And now he's so grown up!! If I could get him to turn off the Star Wars Wii game and sit with me for a moment, I might say something like this:

Dear Josh,

Hello, big boy. I can't believe you are nine years old already! The time is just flying by so very quickly. You are so grown up -- so mature, and intelligent. I'm very proud of you, and so is your daddy. Neither of us could have imagined how very much we love you.

We love your caring spirit, how great you are with little ones, and your sense of humor. I love that you asked permission to start calling me Mom instead of Mama, because you didn't want to hurt my feelings. And I love that you invited almost everyone we know to your birthday party, including kids you don't particularly like, just so nobody felt bad.

Joshua Martin, your Daddy and I love you more than you will ever know. Happy Birthday, sonshine.



Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Update on Homeschooling

Since I dropped off the radar map for such a long time, I thought it may be time for a homeschooling update. We've been at it for three years now, and it seems to be working pretty well for us. Some days are better than others, obviously. I think public school teachers would say the same thing about their classrooms. Some days, the children are obedient and respectful and do all their work without complaining. However, on days that end in "y," there is at least one time where a child whines about his work. I ignore it, and we push on!

The interesting thing for me has been Justin. He is technically sort of working on a kindergarten curriculum this year. His birthday is four days before the grade cutoff for public school, and with his emotional issues, I think it's better for him to be the oldest in his "grade" rather than the youngest.

He really likes school, though. I didn't expect that, for some reason. I expected it to really be a struggle. But he seems to enjoy it, and asks to do school. I'm going to really focus on his schooling over the summer. I don't know if he'll start 1st grade next fall or if we'll still be in kindergarten. But the best part of homeschooling is, it doesn't matter!! He can be where he is, and I can meet him there.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Politics, Religion and Her

There's an old country song by a singer named Sammy Kershaw called "Politics, Religion and Her." The song talks about two old buddies who meet up, and one of them is telling the other a list of things they can't talk about. The chorus of the song says, "Politics can start a fight, Religion's hard to know who's right, And one more topic I won't touch, That one's her -- it hurts too much."

I don't have a "her" in my life, as I've never been in a real relationship that ended badly. And since I am involved in a church (and married to a pastor), religion comes up pretty frequently. (For the record, I actually do think I know who's right. But I digress.) Politics, though -- on that one, Sammy and I can agree. It amazes me how vitriolic people can become when discussing politicians and political viewpoints.

Overall, though, what really astounds me is the sheer number of topics that are considered off limits in the average discussion. If one is to be considered a polite conversationalist, one must avoid talking about money, religion, politics, or anything controversial (or interesting).

So I guess my question would be, how do you ever get to know someone if you can't talk about anything fun? I want people to know me, to know the real me. That means sometimes I must give my opinions on subjects that people disagree about.

Since I'm just starting back to the blogging world, it seems like a good time to state this:

Just so you know, we are next to broke, I'm an evangelical Christian who strongly believes Jesus is the only way to Heaven, and I'm probably more libertarian than anything, politically.

There you go. Now I guess we talk about the weather?

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Car without kids

Well, thus far, my plan to avoid housework by blogging is working perfectly! I sit here on my bed, surrounded by the mess that five people in a small house easily produce, ignoring it all in favor of making sure I keep up with my new blogging responsibilities.

I'm dedicated like that.

I had the opportunity to enjoy one of my favorite activities this morning. I went to town, to drop a check off at the bank, and there were no children in the car!! I blasted the radio as loud as it would go and listened to any song that I wanted to.

Now, I don't listen to vulgar music or anything like that. But I do love some southern rock, and rockin' country, and other songs that might not be overly appropriate for a five year old.

I have learned to be very careful what songs come on the radio while my children are in the car. Even if you have the music coming out of only the front speakers, quietly, it's one of Murphy's laws that they will hear the one line out of the one song you'd rather they didn't.

After all, having your three year old son break into "Save a horse, ride a cowboy" in the church foyer is a good way to learn that lesson.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Back at this thing

I've decided to blog again. I decided to return, because I miss it. I miss putting my thoughts in written form, down on "paper." I miss carefully choosing a phrase for maximum impact. I miss seeing what the few loyal readers I had thought of what I wrote.

But most of all, I find myself recently having far too much time for housework. And that, my friends, is entirely unacceptable.