Friday, April 27, 2012


So, the doctor told me in January that I need to lose a little weight.

My metabolism totally misunderstood the doctor's instructions and instantly set about helping me GAIN a little weight. So that little, added to the little I was supposed to loose has now become a LOT!

Several years ago I set out on a "wrinkle reduction plan" that I thought was brilliant. Simply gain three pounds every year and it seems to stretch out the wrinkles so they aren't really noticeable. It only took three years into that plan to discover that all the "wrinkle reduction" was also causing serious amounts of "wardrobe reduction". Sigh.

Now, I'm not blaming this latest round with "sudden weight gain" on anyone else. And I certainly wouldn't name names. But our recent guests from England (Phil and Sue) sure do love ice cream. And a Southern woman can NOT allow her guests to eat alone.

I ask you, what was I to do?!

Yes, I know. "Be sure your sins will find you out."

Anyway, I decided that the main problem here was with a pivotal foundation garment that wasn't living up to its full advertised purpose any longer. These things are guaranteed to slim you one to two dress sizes. (Provided you can get into said foundational garment without injuring your back!)

So, when I stumbled upon a package that contained not one but TWO new foundation garments at Sam's Club last week, I knew that improvement was on the horizon.

I mean, Sam's deals with oversize matters. That's their target audience. They handle oversize commodities better than anyone I know. And to top it off.........this particular package of foundation forming wear was on sale! I took it as a sign from above.

(Actually, I should have stopped to question what woman in her right mind buys foundation garments at Sam's Club?! But the sale price blinded me.)

The pictures on the package gave rise to great hope.

There was the obligatory "With Tapemeasure Ultra Slimming Seamless Shorts" and "Without Tapemeasure Ultra Slimming Seamless Shorts".

WITH was definitely better!

The largest picture was of a woman's bottom half wearing only the ultra slimming shorts, a tape measure and a matching pair of black, slingback stilettos.

(The tape measure shown wrapped around her tiny waist was only a marketing ploy. None of the numbers was actually legible!)

The copy on the package heralded the idea that these new ultra slimming shorts by Tapemeasure are "The Fit Solution". So clever, those copywriters!

Apparently, scientists at NASA have chosen to refocus all their collective brain power into women's wear, now that the space shuttle has been scrapped.

Just in time for my crisis! Lucky Me!!

These people are the very ones responsible for the "NEW slimming technology improving tummy, hips and thighs". End quote.

They went on to explain: 1. shapes thighs 2. smooths tummy 3. enhances rear. Well, two out of three isn't bad.

I was pushed over the edge with delight when I read the description of the colors I'd just selected: BUFF and BLACK MAGIC!

I thought to myself, "Slow metabolism? Fooey! I've got slimming technology from NASA in buff and black magic!"

Remember how your mom always warned you to break in a pair of new shoes slowly? She cautioned you against wearing them to school the first day because you would surely have blisters and aching feet by the end of all that wear time, remember?

Moms are so smart!

But I had a crisis! Instead of a perky posterior like Pippa's, I've been dealing with a blossoming behind of battlefield proportions.

So, on Sunday morning I threw caution and reason to the wind. I struggled, gasped, heaved and finally squished all of my broadened self into my lovely new black magic foundation garment from Sam's.

(If you're reading this in an office, try not to laugh out loud, okay? This post is for dear friends only!)

I was short of breath for just a little while.

The reflection in the mirror didn't look exactly like the woman on the package but that was because I no longer own any stilettos. I was just thrilled that my Sunday outfit zipped easily. Off to church I went, confident that everyone would notice the improvement.

I won't bore you with the long version of this story. Suffice it to say, I was quite relieved when the space age technology finally kicked in. This meant I was no longer seeing black dots before my eyes and breathing became much less labored.

But Sunday mornings, for us, are pretty long. Staff prayer at 8:00. A rehearsal at 9:00. Corporate prayer at 10:00. Service at 10:30. Lunch and leadership meeting after service.

By the time I got to a restroom and could extricate myself from the new ultra slimming short, I felt sure things would never be the same again!

The price of contrived beauty? Painful at best. Embarrassing at worst.

Not real sure I'll try a repeat performance of this for tomorrow's Spring Tea and Luncheon. Then again, maybe the buff garment is a little more stretchy. Hmmmmmm...............

Friday, April 20, 2012

Oh, Man!

Spencer is now fourteen months old. And comparatively speaking, I've subjected you to very little "Grandmother-Gushing".

But that changes with today's post!

For the past week, Kristin has been conducting special children's services for a school in NC. She didn't want to make the twelve hour drive by herself, so Joy and Spencer joined her. (Of course, the fact that a certain newlywed, Amanda Bock Hoggard, would serve as hostess was a major draw!)

Every couple of days we've gotten updates; the services have been outstanding. And they've had a great time catching up with Amanda.

Wednesday brought a special treat! I was talking on the phone with Joy and said something that surprised her. She responded with a signature, "Oh, Man!"

"Oh, did you hear Spencer?" she asked. "He just said it too."

I didn't hear him but smiled at how cute it must have sounded to hear him trying to imitate her. He says things that are very close to "key" and "ball". Then there are the standards: "Mama" and "Dadda".

They say that when they turn onto our road, he often starts with "Poppa! Poppa!" And although I haven't heard "Nana" yet, I have seen him reach for the phone with a clear "Gama!" (That's Linda. And she and John talk with Spencer often via phone and skype.)

Joy and I talked on for a moment when I heard,"Oh, Man!' in the background, I figured Amanda's husband was teasing us and got ready to give him a message through Joy. "Oh, Man!" he said it again.

Suddenly it dawned on me, that voice was too high.

"Joy! Was that Spencer saying 'Oh, Man!' ?"

"Yes, Mom. I told you he was!"

It was so clear and articulate; I couldn't believe Spencer had said it.

Brilliant! That fourteen month old is just brilliant! (I know, just like your grandchildren!)

And for those of you who aren't anointed with the "Grandparent Gene" wait. Frank and I used to roll our eyes like you just did. Now? Well, we're pretty much out of control and unapologetic! It's pitiful actually. But I did my time loving on the "Granddogs"! This pay back is wonderful.

On an unrelated note, I felt it important to leave you with this scripture from my reading today. Joshua 21:45 "Not one of all the Lord's good promises to the house of Israel failed; every one was fulfilled."

It bolstered my heart; hope it will yours as well!

Brief commercial: If your church or children's ministry is in need of a terrific speaker for VBS or a summer crusade, let us know. Kristin has launched out in that area and is seeing really great results among children for the Kingdom of God.

I hope to get the Easter Joy Reality Check written tomorrow. You'll smile; I guarantee it!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Rather Random

And the company this week would be: Pastors Phil and Sue Parsons; direct from Stoke-on-Trent, England!

Yes, that's real. No, I'm not making it up. He is "Pastor Parsons".

Better yet, their daughter married a man named Pope. So just before their wedding, the local paper ran an article with the headline: "Parson marries the Pope". Really turned some heads, they said. Oh, that dry British humor!

We always enjoy hosting Phil and Sue. We've been close friends for the last thirteen years. God used Phil to help push us toward the dream of living as evangelists. (Or as gypsies...the two life- styles have uncanny similarities.)

And thanks to the Parsons, we've made three ministry trips to England. We've preached in an Anglican church. Sang for the BBC. Did interviews for a nationally syndicated radio broadcast. And have driven long distances on the WRONG side of the road. Such Fun!

They brought Ty-phoo tea bags with them (my favorite). So we've been sipping lots of hot tea; holding our pinkies in the air; suddenly saying things like "Cheerio", "Mahvelous", "Brilliant! Simply Brilliant!" (I have to use totally different facial muscles when imitating their accent.)

No other news than that for today's post.

Oh, wait! Kristin, Joy and Spencer have taken a road trip to NC. Kristin is doing a children's crusade in the school where Amanda Bock Hoggard now teaches. They are having such fun.

And since they're out of town, I now get my own copy of the "phone picture texts" that they're always sending to Linda. Love that kid!

I have a second Easter post brewing that will certainly give you a smile (at the very least) and balance out the rather "rosy" picture I painted last week. Should be ready by Saturday.

Hope your week finishes well! "Cheerio!"

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Easter Joy

Happy Resurrection Day!!

My dear friend, Christoula, taught me the official Greek Easter greeting many years ago. "He is Risen!" she said. "And the one greeted responds, 'He is Risen Indeed!' "

I fell in love with the exuberance of it and pleaded with Frank to make it part of our own Easter tradition. He graciously agreed. And we awakened our girls every Easter morning after with the joyful declaration. Sometimes their little voices were groggy but the message echoed just the same year after year.

That's why Meagan was giving Nathan an impromptu tutorial on the way over for our sunrise service this morning.

"Oh, Nathan. We have one more family tradition that you need to know about."

Nathan is also gracious. But his sigh reminded her that our family seems to have a LOT of traditions!

"Sooo when you first walk in the door, someone will probably say, 'Good morning, guys. He is Risen!' And then you have to respond, 'He is Risen Indeed!' Got it?"

How could he possibly resist those beautiful green eyes on Easter? "Okay, He is Risen Indeed?"

"Yes, perfect! Let's practice - 'He is Risen.' "

"He is Risen Indeed!" Nathan is gracious and a fast learner.

She said they had one more dry run-through on the driveway before coming inside. My sons-in-law are truly the best!

Frank met them at the door. "Good morning, guys. He is Risen!"

Meagan and Nathan looked at each other, burst out laughing and answered together, "He is Risen Indeed!"

Now when I say "this morning," I should probably clarify. Frank woke me at 5:00 and Kristin came stumbling into the kitchen around 5:30. Yes, that would be A.M. We've marked Easter with our own family sunrise service for over twenty-five years now.

When the girls were little, Frank and I served as associate pastors in Asheville, NC. Because we directed rather large Easter productions each year, it left little time for our own "bunnies." And we all know the only "sure fire" method of passing on our faith is - intentionally.

So on Joy's first Easter, we began. At only eight months old, I don't think the blanketed baby absorbed much. But Kristin (3 years old) snuggled into Daddy's arms as we sat together on the front porch and croaked out the resurrection hymns. We stumbled over the words and shivered in the cold. But that sunrise was spectacular!

And a tradition was born that our girls have willingly marked with us every Easter since.

The locations have varied widely. One year while we were evangelists, our service was conducted in a mall parking lot because that's where we found a beautiful Bradford pear tree - and privacy.

Our years in Ocean Isle afforded us a golf course, a trampoline, a deserted stretch of beach. We've celebrated in parks, on porches and even porticoes when necessary.

Some years we haven't had the privilege of being all together in the same place. Kristin has traveled the most. One year she sang from under the kitchen table of friends she was visiting so as not to waken them. And even called on her Easter evening the year she was in India.

One of my favorite memories was the year that Easter coincided with the time change. Frank and I hustled everyone out of bed, grabbed blankets and snacks, then drove to a favorite spot on the beach in the predawn darkness.

We parked our Ford van, then huddled together in the back with the hatch wide open so everyone could see the sun as it rose. We sang all our songs - twice. Ate a few snacks. Diverted an argument over squishing and cover-snatching. We talked about what Easter meant. But the sun did not come up!

Finally it dawned on us (cheesy pun totally intended) that we had miscalculated the time change and had dragged our little girls out of bed TWO HOURS EARLY!!

Dad, Kristin and Meagan closed the door and took a nap. But Joy was too full of energy to sleep. So she and I walked the deserted beach and I listened to her little ten year old voice tell me all that was going on in that precious blond head.

The mistake ended up being a marvelous memory!

Perfection has never been the goal. Just joining the rest of Christendom in finding some way to mark the greatest day in all of human history!

Our croaky choir of five has added two more male voices. And even Spencer (snuggled into a blanket in his daddy's arms) watched the proceedings with wide blue eyes this morning.

"We will be faithful to tell the next generation of your goodness!"

Ah, He Is Risen! May it echo in your heart too.


Friday, April 6, 2012


Oh, how I wish each of you could have been with us last night!

Our church hosted a Seder service; led by a Gentile minister who has converted to Judaism. (No, I didn't get that backwards. And no, he isn't confused; although I was at first!)

Mr. Burroughs did an excellent job of leading us through the symbols and symbolism of a Jewish Seder. The meal used in homes all around the world to mark Passover. We felt incredibly "connected".

He also informed us that the exact day of Passover seldom coincides directly with Easter as it does this year. So, as we walked through the rituals and listened to the explanations, we marked it just as Jesus did 1,982 years ago. Amazing!

Frank and I have participated in these before. But last night was more significant because we were sharing it with our own church family. We were thrilled that so many parents brought their children to learn as well.

This will probably become a Garden Grove Church tradition right along with Family Communion at Christmas. We love tradition!

And, of course, Seder is actually geared for children. The various elements all serve to retell the story of the Exodus. Children have specific roles to play. Each element, every step is an object lesson in itself. All pointing to the love of God for us, His children.

(If you have young ones in your home, you should look up the Seder meal before next year. You and your children would thoroughly enjoy it.)

No wonder Judaism has continued through the ages with so little variation. Jewish people intentionally train their children to know, to understand, to believe.

God grant that we would all be so deliberate in communicating our faith to those entrusted to us!

The only hitch in all this wonder is that I'm struggling with a miserable head cold. Benadryl has become my closest friend. Trying to knock it out before Easter - my most favorite holiday.

I'll try to get back here tomorrow. I'd really love to share with you how we've personalized Easter sunrise through the years.

No matter how you and your loved ones celebrate, may your Easter/Passover be abundantly blessed!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

They Know

Our congregation is incredibly patient with me; they know me.

Although I try diligently to avoid it, there are lots of times that I’m slow in returning emails and phone calls.

And our dear members never hand me a scrap of paper with an important message or announcement on Sunday mornings. They just know that it will never be seen again. Sunday morning requires a lot of focus; it's all about the service/the people and nothing else!

(Well, that’s not entirely true. I usually find a way to squeeze Spencer as soon as he arrives. But I don’t think “Grandmothering” counts against you.)

This June marks seven years that we’ve served Garden Grove Assembly of God as pastors. Seven wonderful years! And after all this time, we just know a few things about each other.

They know their pastors love them and work hard. They know that if we don’t get back to them on the same day, there's a really good reason. They know that no matter how busy we may be, they are never far from our thoughts and prayers.

The past nine days have been just such a time.

Our full work week ended with us getting on a plane last Friday. We headed to Ocean Isle Beach, NC. Pastor Chase had graciously invited us to come back and preach for the church we pioneered almost twenty years ago. (Frank AM; Sheri PM) Such a GREAT weekend!

Pastor and Mrs. Chase are long time friends. So we shared meals and laughter and trials and testimonies. The congregation has blossomed under their leadership; we enjoyed ourselves immensely!

The flight home was late Monday, so we carved out a little beach time too.

Got home at midnight.

At 6:00 AM Tuesday, we discovered that a storm had tripped the breaker for our extra freezer. Which promptly began to defrost. All by itself! Tuesday was full; game on.

Around 7:00 PM, my dad pulled into our driveway with a new friend. This friend is of the female persuasion. So of course, one whole suitcase rolled in just stuffed to overflowing with emotions.

(Yes, we knew they were coming. Yes, tomorrow will be three years, four months since my mom passed away. Yes, I fully expect my dad to remarry someday. Just not THIS day. Sigh.)

Wednesday we dovetailed family time with office time then the evening Bible study then more family time.

Thursday went pretty much the same. Only we planned for a big fish fry dinner at our house with my brother and his wife, too.

Things stayed fairly balanced until half way through the day. We got a call that Spencer had pulled a large cabinet over onto his right hand. It immediately turned blue and swelled to twice its normal size.

John and Joy rushed to the hospital for x-rays. Thankfully, nothing was broken and none of the surgery was affected. Oh, those guardian angels!

Friday I made a big breakfast, said farewell to Dad and his friend, took a long walk and went to bed for a nap! Must say, it was a definite “10” as naps go.

Frank treated me to the spring concert at SEU Friday evening. Magnificent music is powerful medicine! Saturday morning found us back at church for the missions meeting. (Have I mentioned that we will be going to El Salvador for ten days the end of May?)

Great Sunday service with amazing people this morning.

And at the time of this writing, I’m sitting under the oak tree behind our church. Enjoying the breeze; watching a flag football game. Our youth group was challenged by another group. I have the easier part – cheering from the shade!

Yes, some days I’m a little slow about returning messages. But there’s almost always a legitimate reason. And the people we serve know that – what a blessing!