Wednesday, January 4, 2012

So the New Year's more on here :-)

Happy 2012. This year, I would like to spend more time reflecting on the blessings which God has given me. Finding the beauty hidden within the multiple problems and trials which come into every person's life.... I am ever so thankful for the opportunity to delve into the abundant grace and comforting love of Jesus this past year as I experienced the loss of my father, Rev. Ralph C. Raley. It was a tremendous earthly loss, yet I can only feel overwhelming joy that he is experiencing the wonder and beauty of Heaven right now!!!
A couple of highlights from this past year was the precious gift which my husband gave me after the funeral and stress from all that losing Daddy entailed...he took me to South Carolina before turning North to go home. I spent hours sitting by the ocean and unwinding, re-focusing, and making sense of my "new normal" life as an "orphan." The realization that with my Heavenly Father, I am never alone, brought immeasurable comfort.
Also, I enjoyed a beautiful Thanksgiving in the Great Smokey Moutains with family at a gorgeous cabin. Albeit, it was not without some unhappy moments...or uh, days, in which we were flattened with the worst virus I have experienced in years....ugh! Don't get me started on that, but regardless, God is good ALL the time and I treasure the memories of the days prior to and after the BIG event!!!! So with that in mind, hope you enjoyed pictures from those two trips and I will post more this year....I hope :-)

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Thanksgiving Tidbits

Today, if I can find anything to write about, it would be about the people that we minister to at this church. They are, without doubt, the best people on the face of the earth. I am thankful for them and all that they do to help us in the ministry. I love each of them as if they were my own parents/grandparents/kids/siblings!!! Thank you all my church family for being the precious gift that you are to me....
I would write about how thankful I am for my parents and the Godly heritage they gave me. I never remember a time that I wasn't in church. The years roll back at the memory of fun times around the table, in the living room by the tree, at church functions...the list could go on. I'm thankful that they sacrificed and gave me a foundation in God....
I could write about my precious mother and father-in-law...all they did to raise an absolutely wonderful son who is the most tender, gentle father and pastor...a good provider for us. I am thankful for all they do and what they are...I love you mom and dad.
In a couple of words, Thank you God for everything!!!!!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Hello my dear friends...

I am so mortified that I have only posted on here once this year...hmm, the pitfalls of Facebook. LOL...couldn't resist. So much has happened and changed in this year.
We have seen growth in our church members and in the number of people attending. Relationships are budding and growing. The process is slow, frustrating, painful, but oh, so joyful. We look back and then see where changes, though subtle, have taken place. That gives us the courage to go forward.
In other news, this mother heart is sad, proud and not a little terrified. My baby girl started kindergarten. Now this is a good thing except that I am her teacher! Not me! But she told my niece the other day after her first class time, "Mommy taught me lots of fun stuff. She's the best teacher in the world." That did my heart good and made me more determined than ever to do right in her education!
We had a back-to-school camp out with the girls from our church group. This was great fun for them and a trial like no other for me. My idea of camping is to sink into a heart shaped jacuzzi (sporting fragrant bubbles up to my chin) to the background of a crackling fire in a stone fireplace in a five star chalet. Preferably this little piece of heaven is nestled in a mountain hideaway with a bubbling little stream dancing merrily alongside the deck (which is equipped with a hot tub).
Somehow, laying on the cold, hard ground outside a tent that is literally about to collapse from the activity and gales of laughter emanating from within its canvas (or whatever it is) walls is not my idea of fun.
Thankfully, our good friend and camper par excellence, Jason, was along. After taking these active little rascals on a terrifying hike through bramble, briers and utter darkness (a trip throughout
which I moaned, muttered and threatened great harm to the leader of the pack under my breath) he finally saw my efforts at restoring calm, quiet and sleepiness were failing utterly. Taking pity upon my over-strained equilibrium, he came and sat in the door of the tent while Alan manned the fires and fended off the bears, snakes and other harmful creatures I was sure were about to eat us all. I lay in an exhausted heap on a blanket outside on the ground, while Jason talked in his most calming reasonable voice to these excited (what I now viewed as the wild animals) girls until they literally dropped off mid-sentence. It was funny but much appreciated. Goes to show what a good dad can do. . . and so many of these girls have no father figure in their life. It was heart rending and touching to see how they wanted to be with Alan and Jason at all times.
All in all they had a blast. Jay took them on another grueling hike, gave them rides on an old rope swing in the woods, then took them to KOA to swim and fish. It was fun to watch them having fun. But by the time I got to my bed, I knew I wasn't fifteen anymore! Every one of my 32 years were heavy on me! Oh, and I failed to mention that we never slept till 3 am Sunday morning because Emily got a poisonous bite on her ankle and had to make a trip to the ER late that night. I had only had an hour and half sleep since Thursday night. Alan had none! But it was worth every minute of it for those girls' sake!
So now we are almost to Sunday, September 12,2010. This is the day of celebration for our church. A 60th Anniversary, I am so excited to see all of the people who used to pastor here and attend. We have people coming from Mexico, Colorado, Florida, etc... to join us on this special day.
Now, I am so tired just thinking about that camping trip and all I have to do, I think I'll quit for now and try to do more later!!!! Pics I hope.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

So, yeah, ummm, It's me again

Hi everybody, We are so busy here that I cannot believe how far behind I am in posting. So many things to tell, so many pics I want to post, but no time. Little Timothy is growing bigger everyday and is more and more my little boy and not my little baby. This mommy heart breaks at how fast the time is going with my little one's, but I am trying to remember to enjoy every second with them.
We are now having attendance at the church of anywhere from 30-40 on Wednesdays, and 20 something-30 on Sundays. Kids Club is doing sooo well and the children are really having a great time. Also, some parents have started attending and enjoying it as much as the kiddos!!!! We are so thankful and excited.
Right now, we are buried in almost two feet of snow and I personally am enjoying the break from the wild schedule we normally keep. It is so beautiful and relaxing to watch the flakes pouring, yes pouring - not drifting, down from the leaden skies. We were not able to have church Sunday and now we won't be having it tonight as the Storm Warning is in effect until 7 p.m. I will miss all my "little youngins'" as I fondly call them, though. Still, this has given us time as a family to enjoy being together, watch a fun movie, have a snacking party at midnight, laugh like crazy at the kids' antics and cuddle on the couch with the kids and a nice storybook.
Timothy has rythm in his blood and just recently has started dancing all over the place. Anytime he hears happy music, his chubby little legs start prancing up and down. It is soooo cute to see his little diaper shakin' to the beat!!! We laugh so hard when he does this. He is a typical baby-of-the-family with all of his funny antics!
Well, I will post more later, but for now...remember Spring will soon be here and God is always looking after His children in such a loving and special way. He is faithful to all in all things!!! Love you all.....

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Ummmm....I did it again...that's right...I'm behind again!

Ahhh....take a deep cleansing breath with me (nope, I'm not into yoga, guys) and catch the scent of woodsmoke, freshly cut hay, and apple cider warming on the stove. Yes! It's that time of year again. My most favorite season of all is back in full force!!! I LOVE AUTUMN. Fall is my favorite season. Strangely enough, I find myself more energetic and bubbly than at any other time of the year.
Two weeks from now my little baby boy, Timothy, will turn ONE YEAR OLD!!! Oh dear, where did the time get to. That is soooo depressing. But, we are enjoying all of his sweet little antics, his very chubby legs trembling with the effort of walking along holding to the edge of the couch, his developing sense of humor when he shouts back, "Boof" to our cries of "BOO!" A mild-natured child who is sooo full of love for Em-em, Mom-mum, and DaaDaa. Our little Timothy is a precious little fellow whom we thank God for every day.
Emily is our little live wire. Full of passion from weeping, fury, laughing, playing, etc...she never gives us a dull moment around the house...and we love our little girl sooo much, as well. She has invented a new name for herself...."Daddy's little Soup Hog" Where that came from, I'll never know, but it certainly cracked us up! She also sang loudly after kid's club the other night, "Joshua fought the battle a year ago, year ago...."
So, I am planning to haul out the fall decor tommorrow and let the joy of color surround us as we bask in the waning glow of summer and relish the brilliant display that is already stealing into the green canopy of nature.
We are busy with church growth and cultivation....don't get me started there, but let me say, All the glory belongs to Jesus Who is helping us in a very special way. He is showing such grace to us as we endeavor to bring souls to Him. And, for now, that's about all I can think of to share.
More from the well-spring of activity later....Hold to God's unchanging hand as the seasons change!!!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Time has ceased to march and has begun to fly!!!!

Hello Everybody, I am once again embarressed to find myself so far behind in blogging....but, we have had a riotous two months going on. My mother-in-law had hip replacement surgery in June, we have had multiple car problems, a teething baby, tending to my exploding with weeds and produce garden, a GREAT music service with God's Bible School quartet, started a Kidz of Promise Kidz Club on Wednesday nights, getting ready for VBS (starts tonight) and taking teens to Youth Camp next week if they decide to go...(gasp, pant, pant, gulp.....) Do you see why you have not heard from me in awhile?
I am sooooo happy to be busy though. Thank God for His help in our fledgling ministries at the church! We are so excited to see what God is doing and how His Spirit is working in the lives of people around us, drawing them to come to Jesus!! Keep us in your prayers for this week as we work with many little children!!!! More when I have time...

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Please, whatever you do, DONT throw me in the Briar Patch

Hi Everybody! I am writing this from inside my storm shelter. I know it probably will stir up a lot of feelings and very possibly some disagreement, but that's okay. Just the same I came in here in case the rotten eggs, tomatoes and other objects began to fly my direction. Also, the writer's group that I am with encourages us to write fifteen hundred words daily and so I am trying to do that some. This has not been proofed at all, just straight from the heart. P.S. I did NOT make it to fifteen hundred for those who are interested....only 1,209 words. Oh well, maybe these will count for something. I love you guys!

Writing fifteen hundred words a day is a hard thing to do on the surface. However, when one considers how much time is wasted on Facebook, Myspace or some other social network, then the time it takes to write these words is really not that much. I will be the first to admit that the internet is an amazing tool. You can find almost anybody, anytime. If you are willing to pay the price, you can almost find out the sizes of underwear they have used for the last fifteen years!
What is more important, though? Are we as a nation willing to sacrifice the edifying and growth of the mind on the altar of technology. We are little puppets that are drawn to the screen to receive our daily dose of perceived self-worth from the pile of messages that come from people we are barely acquainted with or do not know at all. We search desperately for someone to love us as we roll through the pages of this vast online world.
I have made several observations while engaging more time than I care to admit in perusing online activity. The first is, those people (whom I personally know) that are spending hours and hours glued to their computer have mostly sad, lonely lives. I think I know why now. Before social networks such as Facebook took our world by storm, there was only the "boob tube" to watch. Many of these same people, I know for a fact, used to spend countless hours watching one video after another. Then they would turn on the computer and read all the news and gossip they could find. Through all of this, is anyone following with me the common thread which holds this woeful tale together?
Here are people who are looking at and talking to faces on a screen. They do not hear their voice, see their expressions, share the same room while they converse. I could be screaming and crying right now while I write this very logical sounding claptrap against techno addiction, but you would not see it. There are neighbors, old friends, family and just people that are close by with whom I could be building good, wholesome relationships with. But, as long as I sit here in front of this screen, anxiously awaiting a pop-up chat screen from one of my equally techno addict friends, I am losing out on this privilege. The old cliche no longer holds true: "No man is an island unto himself." More and more, we put on peppy screen names, write bouncy little notes and no one knows or really wants to hear the genuine pain we might be experiencing. We get online hoping someone will make us laugh, hoping someone will affirm our flagging ego, hoping to attain something that only direct, personal time spent with other human beings will accomplish.
We are sadly spiraling down into an abyss of loneliness. Maybe we need to wake up and realize that a "friend at hand is worth five on-line." Computers cannot hold you close in a warm embrace of friendship and care when the chips are down and your luck is up. Facebook cannot offer a tissue and cry with you when your heart is broken by someone or something that has come into your life. Technology does not have a soft hand to hold when you feel afraid in the darkness of a stormy night.
Recently, some friends of mine received a totally unexpected blow. By the choice of a few, sadly misguided people, they no longer had a job, a home, insurance or direction of where to go or what to do. I sent messages on Facebook, my husband talked on the cell phone while strolling through Walmart. We tried to offer care and concern through the means of technology. By the next night, I was fed up. Since we lived relatively close by, we made a trip to their home and sat with them. I hugged my friend, my husband offered sympathy, counsel and a listening ear as we grieved with them in their sudden displacement. It was hard. I could not offer little sweet cliches to them. I could not quote some author. I had to look into their eyes. I had to see their pain. I squirmed with discomfort at their agony and uncertainty. But, I was there. It made a world of difference for me. It made their pain become real to me. It was worth every bit of the embarrassed, timid feelings which I overcame as I ministered to their time of hurt. Their hurt isn’t over yet. It is ongoing. Yet, they will not forget that night that we were there holding their hands, praying with them, encouraging them, and brain-storming with them for a reasonable solution and conclusion to their trouble. We did not fix one thing, but long after the instant messages and emails have been deleted, the cell phone waves have floated away, the memory of a true friend, I hope, will remain in their hearts.
I told this story to illustrate the point I am making in regard to our over-"technologised" (no it isn't a word) lifestyle. We must learn to have balance in all things. People who eat only celery will eventually die. Why? Because they are burning one-half a calorie for every bite they eat. If you burn constantly and never put anything back in, eventually you will burn out. It is the same in relationships. Those who only watch black letters dancing across a white screen and never experience the sight, sound, (dare I say) smell, and touch of other human beings will wither up and emotionally die.
People, in a world population of almost seven billion human beings, we absolutely need each other. We cannot walk through this world alone. We were created for relationships. Next time you find yourself on that crowded elevator, look someone in the eye and smile. If you are standing next to someone at the meat counter, rather than hang your head and burrow through the meat packages trying to beat them to the best deal, strike up a conversation. I have only met two people in my entire life who gave me a cold stare and walked away. People love to feel that their opinion is important. People are starved for friendship and someone to listen to the sound of their voice. That sounds conceited, but it is the basic need in the human psyche. God instilled this into mankind because He knows we aren’t going to make it through this world and get out of it alive. But, that doesn’t mean that we cannot experience joy in the journey. We can know the reality of many satisfying, friendly relationships as we walk through life. And, yes, my techy friends out there, I believe there is room for communication via social networks to connect with old friends. Just don’t let it totally replace the opportunities for relationships that might otherwise pass you by because you spent all of your time connecting online. As sweetly as I know how to say it, Get a life! Live it to the fullest. Keep your heart in line with Jesus and you will never walk alone.