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30 Days of a Thankful Heart {Day 30} The Greatest Gift of All

1 Dec

I was reading to Micah last night prior to our bedtime routine, in an attempt to settle his wild soul down.  So, of course we were reading, “Where the Wild Things Are.”  It was adorable to hear him repeat Max’s phrases, “Be Still!” and “Let the wild rumpus start.”

And as I sat tonight trying to settle my soul into this special season that is upon us, it instead felt like the world declaring, “Let the wild rumpus start!”

For many, the rumpus of the Christmas season began the very night we give thanks for all we have.  What better way to reflect on our abundance of blessings than to rush out and get more, right?  I don’t have a problem with those wanting to get a jump on giving and save while doing it, but the retailers pushing it earlier and earlier is just ridiculous.  I just avoid it all together!  Was the Dollar Tree even running a Black Friday special?  That’s where my DIY gifts will hail from!

We are in a consumer society that teaches us to want more, need more, and be satisfied with none.  Trying to teach little ones what Christmas really means is tough.

I am all for passing on Christmas traditions from childhood, Santa, gift giving, and The Grinch.

But I am all about the greatest and first Christmas gift, Christ.

To be cliche, He is the reason for the season, in this heart and hearth, and I hope in yours.  There is nothing better to give or to get than the FREE gift of God’s grace, wrapped beautifully in swaddling clothes, and delivered in the humble form of His son, Jesus Christ.

But I’ve been struggling on how best to deliver this message to my children’s hearts (and ours) without robbing them of simple, fun Christmas magic and joy that comes in many commercial forms ….

Continue reading

30 Days of a Thankful Heart {Day 25 & 26} Gratitude and Grace

27 Nov

Yesterday was a beautiful, holy day.  Despite waking up from too little sleep with a throat that was on fire and a head that felt like an elephant was sitting on it, the day was wonderful.

We celebrated this little guy’s baptism at our church.  Yes, I cried.

My littlest tiger after his baptism

Papa Tiger performing the baptism

Yes, yesterday was awesome, despite feeling physically lousy.  We celebrated with family and rejoice that our son, Kasen, is baptized and covered by God’s grace.  We would need that grace. Continue reading

30 Days of a Thankful Heart {Day 24} Boomer, Baptisms, and Blessings

25 Nov

The past few days have been a fantastic blur of family, friends, and some awesome bedlam football.  I am so incredibly grateful to be able to be close to family.

Our sweet baby boy, Kasen, has also been sick the past couple days and that has made for a very tired mommy and daddy.

I think we kinda look like the walking dead a bit, but The Hubs looks wayyy better on less sleep than me.  Life is so unfair sometimes.  Eh, whatcha gonna do?

I guess I am going to attempt to get some beauty rest before the wee one wakes, which should be in less than 3 hrs if sick patterns hold.

So, in order to get my tired behind to bed and keep up with the thankful posts, here is a quick list of what I am grateful for today. Continue reading

30 Days of a Thankful Heart {Day 18} Answered Prayers

19 Nov

It’s Sunday.  In this house that means we spent most of the day at the church.

That happens when you are the pastor’s family.

It was a long day, as most Sundays are, and I didn’t even have time for my Sunday afternoon nap.

After a great sermon by The Hubs this morning, focused on John 3:16-21 and The Gift of Grace, our Abundant Life Small Group provided a spaghetti and lasagna lunch for the congregation, taking up donations to help fund various mission work in the conference.  It was delicious and I am incredibly thankful to share life with this amazing group of individuals.

We were able to have a brief respite at home after lunch, even though I had to run back up to the church to decorate and tidy up for the Community-wide Thanksgiving Service our church was hosting that evening.  I think The Hubs and the boys got a little bit of an afternoon nap, and I did manage 30 minutes to relax on the couch!

We headed back up to the church a bit before 5 and I corralled the kids while The Hubs prepared to welcome a few hundred people into our church. Continue reading

10 Scriptures to Soothe Mommy’s Soul

24 Sep

(Fair Warning: This is a lengthy post.  My lack of posts has built up and is now overflowing.  Read it through…it’s worth it.  I’m also biased!)

Yesterday (Sunday) is often considered to be a day of rest.  Sabbath.

Not so in my world.

We are a ministry family.  My husband is the senior pastor of our church and that means Sunday is a work day, and not just for him.  I’m currently the children’s ministry director and even when I am not teaching on a Sunday, I am checking in with leaders, counting little heads, hands, and hearts, and collecting the change in our Children’s Change Jar.  By the time the service is over and we have fellowshipped with as many congregants as possible, chased our almost 3-yr old son  all over the sanctuary (altar rails, chairs, stage…), and consoled our now cranky almost 4-month old, we are wiped out.

But the day isn’t even over!

If it’s a good day, I will have a delicious crockpot meal simmering in the slow-cooker.  The scent will tantalize our tastebuds as we drag in through the front door.  We can sit and eat in relative relaxation for a little bit, but let’s be honest; we haven’t had a relaxing meal on a regular basis in almost 3 years.  Hmmm, why is that?

If it’s a fantastic day we will splurge and endure the craziness of eating out with two children under the age of 3 and indulge in Mexican food.  Pass the salsa and chips please!

Yesterday was a good day.

I had dinner on low and slow in the crockpot so we had gourmet turkey sandwiches for lunch.  Micah (the 3 yr. old) wanted PB crackers and squeeze fruit.  He ate the fruit and pushed the crackers around his plate.  He was hungry later.  Not surprised.  All was normal and even calm in the Tiger house.

Then it was time for naps.

It needs to be said that Sunday afternoon naps are a sacred and time-honored tradition that Aaron and I treasure and have made a priority in our relationship for the past ten years.  Come hell, high water, or a second kid, we will have our Sunday nap.

Unless there is a football game on.  Or a ministry meeting.  Or a family function.  Or a preschooler with a stubborn streak a mile long.

You get the picture though.  We don’t just like our rest.  We NEED our Sunday refueling nap to sustain us through small groups, meetings, and any other church event that might be scheduled.

Aaron took Micah back to his room to settle down for naptime.  I was nursing Kasen, ready to swaddle that little bug and get him drifting off ASAP so Mommy could settle in for a long Sunday snooze.

Both boys had other intentions.

Micah dug in his tenacious little heels and refused to settle, sleep, or even stay still.  I was tagged in to take over for Aaron.  Kasen was handed off smoothly with no fumble.  Micah cared for the change in coaches about as much as the NFL is loving the fill-in refs.  He yelled, he screamed, he kicked, and he flopped.  If the Emmy’s handed out an award for Best Dramatic Tantrum, he would have it in the bag.

We ignored him.  We talked calmly and soothingly to him.  We carried him back to his room and shut the door (that does not have a lock?!) I held him tightly in a loving hold to stop the flailing. We gave him options.  We attempted to reason, reward, cajole, and bribe the child to stop throwing the fit.  We FAILED!!!

I even attempted singing a new temper song we had learned just that morning watching PBS’ Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, even though I knew I was messing the words up.  “I’m so mad I could roar, but instead I’ll count to four.  One. Two. Three. Four.”  Something like that.  It even seemed like that was working.  Until it wasn’t.  The fit resumed in full force after a few calmer, shuddering breaths.  I should have sung the song to myself a few times.  After a slap in the face (my face), elbow to the stomach (yep, mine), and a scream in the ear (mine too), I lost all my patience and my mind for a moment.

Savage Mommy Tiger roared.  Right in the face of her little tiger cub.  Continue reading

Going Overboard with VBS?

9 Jul

We were not looking for praise from people, not from you or anyone else, even though as apostles of Christ we could have asserted our authority. Instead, we were like young children[a] among you.”

1 Thessalonians 2: 6-7a

Vacation.  That is a word we hear frequently this time of year.  Families are planning and taking vacations.  Co-workers are on vacation, leaving envious employees behind.  Worship attendance is notoriously lower as congregants vacate the pews in favor of vacation or just a summer break from church.  It happens!

Churches also advertise their Vacation Bible School programs heavily during the summer as they gear up to welcome in large and small groups of children who are eager for games, crafts, music, and hopefully a little bit of God’s love.  VBS programs are a major undertaking in even the smallest churches.  There are materials to gather, volunteers to recruit, meals to plan, halls to decorate, lessons to organize, and so much more.  There never seems to be enough time or help.  It can be an exhausting experience for all involved in the VBS process.  It can also be an incredibly rewarding event for both volunteers and children.

Our church kicks off our VBS program tonight.  We are doing Cokesbury’s Operation Overboard, where kids can “Go Deep with God.”  Our director and co-director have done a fabulous job getting things organized this year and have worked very hard preparing.  I am confident that the children who come through our doors will experience God’s love and grace in deep ways and will have a blast doing so.

As I was helping transform our church into an underwater adventure on Saturday I had a few moments to reflect on the VBS process while nursing Kasen.  I had seen the weariness of our leader and other volunteers who were helping prepare the church and materials for the week-long event.  It caused me to think about the other times I had either led or helped with a VBS event, and how tiring the preparation process and event were.  I felt God nudging at me to reflect on something more, but I just wasn’t sure what.  I decided to pray for our current VBS and all those helping out, and especially for the children who we were trying to reach.  As I prayed, God brought to mind one particular VBS I had organized. Continue reading

April Shower

30 Apr

If anyone is still hanging around my little blog after my recent absence, a few notes: 1) I’m still here.  I am alive, though currently not so well.  Sinus crud and nearing the end of my pregnancy are taking its toll.  2) Thank you to those who have stuck around. 3) I am struggling to find my energy and inspiration, so hang in there with me a bit longer, please!

I promised to post about the recent baby shower our wonderful church family hosted for us on the 22nd of April.  The photos are finally edited, the gifts sorted if not put away, and I’m working on the long list of thank yous.  Aaron and I were truly humbled by the outpouring of love, support, and generosity of our church family last Sunday at the shower.  The decorations were lovely and had just the right amount of personal touches from ideas I had suggested, the food was scrumptious, and the company superb.  I can’t say thank you enough to the many ladies who put forth so much time, effort, and energy into making the shower such a wonderful success and memory.

There were many photos taken, and I tried to take a few at home of just some of the fabulous gifts we received.  I’m going to put most of the photos in gallery format to save some time.  I hope you enjoy the pictures and the sneak peeks you’ll see of the nursery in progress!

Shower Sneak Peek

23 Apr

I was treated to a fabulous baby shower yesterday at church!  Kasen is already one very blessed baby boy.  The upside of such a tremendous time was getting to share the time with the wonderful people in our church.  The downside is one very exhausted mom come Monday.

After helping teach Sunday School, being up on my feet a little too long, and an almost 3 hr-shower, I went home and rested.  Actually, no, I didn’t.  My mom and I sorted through all the goodies and then stayed up way too late watching the latest Hallmark movie, Firelight.  Only one commercial made me tear up; the one with the basketball team and coach.

Well, I did not get my shower photos edited yet or all the rest I need, so I have been taking it easier today, and just enjoying time with Micah as he entertains me with his antics.

Here is a peek at one of the amazing gifts we received at the shower.  I look forward to sharing the rest of the pictures of my sweet shower soon.

This will be such a delightful addition to Kasen's nursery! Thank you to the Rhodes family!

This was snapped last night as a quick pic, so please excuse the less than stellar quality.  I’ll take another that will do this art justice!

Gracefully~~Heather

Quick Thought on Ministry Life

20 Apr

I saw this on Facebook and just had to share it with my other friends and family who are in ministry.

Can I get an AMEN?

More money always gives a bit more breathing room for creature comforts, and we’d love to be able to give, give, give, but we know that money is not in ministry.  That’s not the point.

We feel called to see broken lives restored to fullness in Christ, and that is the richest reward we could ever hope for.

So for all of you called to a life in ministry, blessings as you journey on and remember to keep your eyes on Christ, not the pay stub!

Time to Shower

20 Apr

It’s Friday! Yay?!

Happy Friday!!!!
Yes, I am really this happy!

As a stay-at-home-mom Fridays aren’t quite as exciting as they are when I was in the “working world.”  Fridays are Aaron’s day off though since Sundays are his big work day at the church.  That makes them happy days!

I know I’ve been a little absent this week from posting, but it’s been for good reason.  We have made some good progress on the cleaning and organization at the house, and my little Micah man had his first ear infection early in the week so I got some extra cuddling time.

Now he is on the mend (YAY) and boxes are practically emptying themselves (not so much), so I thought I’d take a short break to share my excitement about this Sunday.

It’s shower time!  Baby shower that is.  The church is hosting our baby shower this Sunday with a light lunch right after service and I am tickled by all the trouble certain ladies are going to!  Even some guys are pitching in and bringing yummy goodness like homemade guacamole.  Yes please!  I will feel no guilt as I shovel the green goodness in my mouth chip by chip (spoon if necessary) since I had my 33 wk Dr. visit and I have still only gained a total of 7 lbs.  I am very proud of that, so a day to splurge at the shower seems in order!

I know there are mixed feelings out there about whether or not there should be showers for second and subsequent babies, but there are actually some items we need and I think if people are willing to share in the joy and just celebrate the new baby, then shower away.  I tried to get a wide array of items on the registry and make sure there were plenty of $20 and under items, as well as actually registering for my adored Pampers diapers this time.  I even included a few darling outfits, though we aren’t too shabby in the clothes department even though the boys are Fall and Summer.  My mom sorted all 7 large bins of clothes we kept from Micah, and space bagged them to save room.  Thanks mom and great idea!

Since we didn’t need any really big baby items this time around (think stroller, pack-n-play, crib, etc), I did include a pricier, but stunning, diaper bag that I fell in love with after a friend posted about them on Facebook.

Here is the lil gal….

Petunia Pickle Bottom Boxy Backpack Diaper Bag in Fez

You can get a closer look at all her lovely details here.  Pottery Barn Kids does the initial embroidery but you can also purchase them through Petunia Pickle Bottom or just check out all their other awesome items and designs.

Since Kasen’s middle name is Cross and we also collect crosses, I just fell head over heels for this pattern.  I also thought it was pretty without being overly feminine.  The hubs gave it the seal of daddy-carrying approval so on the registry it went!

As I said, it is pricier, $175, but well-worth all the organizing compartments and features, like zip-out changing pad.  The bags got bonus points from friend reviews that they are well-made and hold-up to the 2-3 years of daily use.  Plus, if I have to look at and carry a bag everyday for so long, I need to love it, right?!  Even if it is one of the items we have to invest in, I think it will be well worth it.

Isn’t she lovely?  What are your favorite diaper bags or baby gift items?

Well, I need to get re-focused on cleaning and organizing, so I am signing off until next week.  I will then regale you all with photos of what I know will be an amazing shower.  I might even have some sneak peeks of the nursery and some of the projects in store.  I hope you all have a fabulous and blessed weekend!

Gracefully~~Heather