Summer Projects

It’s funny how one off the wall idea becomes a full on project. We moved into our current house almost 2 years ago. We have been working on it off and on since we moved in. I started to get discouraged with how slow the process was going. We have been trying to save up the money to put in molding and new carpet, but that is taking forever.

Molding – We have no molding right now because when we bought the house the previous owners put in wood paneling in both the living and dining room. No offense to those of you who put it in your home in the 70’s but really folks what were you guys thinking. Why was this such a popular thing? So, we ripped off all the wood paneling and then had to get new sheet rock put up. Thankfully we were able to hire some professionals for this job. When we took off the paneling we discovered that all the original molding in the house was removed for the paneling. So, after painting the walls we started saving to get the wood needed to install new wood work.

Flooring – after people came in to sheet rock the middle floor and painting occurred you can only guess what the current carpet looked like. Also, the previous owners had untrained cats that did not know how to use a litter box apparently. Enough said.

So, for the last 1 1/2 we have been waiting on the Lord to provide so we could get these two things done to finish the house. Then I can hang pictures and get curtains and turn it into a home. But due to car repairs and other emergencies we still don’t have the money. The last few weeks I had a pretty rotten attitude. I was having a pity party and thinking only of myself. But thankfully, God snapped me out of it.

First he changed my attitude. He used my husband’s discovery of C.T. Studd’s biography to remind me that God takes care of His people. Also, it reminded me that we are in the ministry and sometimes that means sacrifice. Derick can’t work overtime to get more money, but we are able to minister in an inner city where some people have never heard the gospel. I can go without new carpet for that.

Secondly, God gave me a cool idea. I was sitting in my living room when it dawned on me that I could refinish the floor myself for a fraction of the cost of new carpet. We have hard wood floors under our current carpet and even though it will be a lot of work at least we can afford it. So, this one thought has become our new Summer project.

I am so thankful for a husband who is willing to do it with me. I’m also thankful for a handy dad who knows how to do it and will be giving us his help and expertise on the matter. So, in the next month this is my project. I will be getting the floors ready to be stained. I hope to show you pics of my project once done.

Sunday Sermons-Trophy of Grace

Today we had two services that revolved around the GOSPEL. The day was spent thinking of Christ. His death. His resurrection. His grace and mercy poured out on us at Calvary. A day of true worship of our amazing God.

The highlight of the day was a testimony shared in our Sunday night service. A friend of ours who has been coming to the church for the last two years. He has an amazing testimony and I was in tears again as he shared it in our service tonight. I want to share some of it with you (with permission).

Brian was born as one of a set of identical twins. As a toddler his grandmother tried to share with him Jesus. She would talk about Jesus and even took him to church as a little boy. She was planting a seed. As Brian grew older him and his brother were inseparable. His mom even said as long as they had each other they didn’t even need her to be there.

As he grew older he started to get into a little trouble here and there with friends. However, soon the little things like smoking a little pot, and cutting school became bigger things, and then bigger things. Eventually, Brian became a hard core addict. He started to sell drugs in order to get more money to do drugs. By this time Brian had three kids. Being a father didn’t change his lifestyle. He felt guilty for what he was doing with his life. While laying awake at night he would remember the things he learned about God as a child. But, he thought church and God were for good people. Not him. Never him.

One day he went to see his brother (who was also on drugs). He saw his brother was at rock bottom. So, he took his brother in.  However, a few weeks later, his two youngest children found his brother dead in Brian’s bread. He died of a drug overdose. At this point Brian hit rock bottom. He decided life was not worth living himself. He took some pills and laid down to die. Thankfully, his oldest daughter found him before it was too late and ran down the block to get a neighbor to help her. God saved his life that night.

Unfortunately the story has to get a little worse before it can get better. Brian lost his children to Child Protective Services. He lost his house, his income, and began living on the street. He was basically living as an animal. Eating out of garbage cans, sleeping where he could. Scrounging enough money for his next fix. He took his car and rode out of Philly. He pulled over to a beat up motel and decided to rent a room for the night with the little money he had. He realized he had no ID on him so he paid a man a few dollars to rent a room for him. When the man came out with the key card he handed it to Brian. Little did he know that the motel was a hub of drug deals and prostitution. It was being cased by cops. So, when the cops spotted a black man handing a key card to Brian (a white man) at a motel with a car that was from out of state, they thought they just saw a drug deal go down. Of course, Brian’s thinking, of all the illegal activity he has ever done now (when he wasn’t doing anything illegal) he would get inspected by cops. The cops searched his car and found some illegal substances. They arrested Brian on the spot.

Brian spent a few months in jail and it was there that his life would change forever. His head was finally clear to think. God brought an evangelist to share the gospel with Brian. He again remembered his childhood and realized he knew about Jesus but had never accepted Him for himself. He gave his life over to Christ and was never the same again.

Once he got out he found a job, got a house, and got his children back.God provided in special ways. One day when trying to get his kids back he was told he could have his youngest two kids back once he moved into a 3 bedroom house. Brian was currently in a two bedroom. He needed 3 bedrooms because he had a boy and girl and they couldn’t share a room. He began to pray that the Lord would provide. After a week he got a phone call from a case worker who informed him that his government housing came through and that he could move into his 3 bedroom house at any time. He doesn’t remember ever filling out any paperwork for government housing. God provided a house.

God worked all those circumstances to bring Brian to salvation. He was working all things for good and is still working for Brian’s good and God’s glory.  We have had the opportunity to spend some time with Brian’s two youngest kids. They come over about 3 times a week after school since Brian works 2nd shift and can’t be there. It is so great to see how God has put this family together again. He ended his testimony with this statement, “I’m not the man I want to be yet, but by God’s grace I’m not the man I was.”

God is still in the business of changing lives. If I was reading this I would think I was reading a script you would see for a  Hollywood movie, or a fictional book, but all of this is true. God can take any life and change it. He can use anyone to bring Himself the glory He rightly deserves. Thank God for the Gospel. Thank God that He saved Brian and that He saved me.

I hope you enjoy and that this is encouraging to you as you read it. I hope to have more Trophies of Grace stories to share with you. Our church is full of them. I just have to get their permission. But I love working here in the inner city. There is never a shortage of the Amazing Grace of God being shown in the lives of His believers.

Friends and Family Days

Today was the start of our Friends and Family Days. We started the week of meetings with our annual Community Picnic. It is always an interesting time. We serve free hotdogs, free popcorn, free snow cones. We also have balloons, pony rides, and facepainting. This all happens in the yard of our church that is about 20 ft by 10 ft. Not a big space. Although big for our neighborhood.

The rest of the week we have a special speaker that speaks twice on Sunday, and then Monday through Wednesday night.

This year I felt a little different about it. I started to become complacent about it. This was our 5 year doing it and so I kinda fell into the routine of it all. Today the Lord gave me a renewed passion for this ministry.

This year we had some of our newest members of church helping. Everything was new to them. They had never done it before. I was rebuked by their freshness and their passion for impacting the community by the spread of the gospel. I love these newest members and they served more than hotdogs and popcorn. They served me spiritually. They encouraged me and shook me out of my complacency.

My prayer is that the rest of these meetings will help to serve more in our community and within our own body. I am praying the Word of God will go out strong and powerfully.

Homemade Ice Cream Sandwiches

I love ice cream sandwiches especially chipwiches. So, this week I decided to make my own. We were having company over and I saw the idea from Kraft Magazine. The recipe featured in the mag said that you could use chips ahoy cookies, but my husband loves my chocolate chip cookies so I decided to do it from scratch. I figured I would pass along some of the things I learned.

First, get toll house chocolate chips. I think they work the best. I use the recipe on the back of the package, but one thing I discovered is that if you use salted butter you do not need to add any additional salt. This helped me keep my cookies from going flat. Also, I’ve learned that you need to only use one cookie sheet at a time in the oven. Also, before putting additional dough on the cookie sheet to make sure it is cooled completely. I alternate between two cookie sheets so that one will cool while I have another in the oven. I also like my cookies barely cooked. This helps keep the cookies soft. I hate cookies that taste like cake. So, I cute them for only 9-10 min. When they barely turn brown around the edges of the cookie. I take them out of the oven and set it on the stove top and let them cook on the hot sheet for about 2-3 minutes more. Then I transfer them to a cooling rack.

One thing I learned in making the ice cream sandwiches is that the cookies need to cool for at least 2 hours before trying to make them into sandwiches. I did not wait long enough when I made them. The cookies were a little too warm and soft. they started to fall apart when I added the ice cream. But I scooped softened vanilla ice cream onto one side. Add the other cookie on top and then rolled the sides in chopped salted peanuts. You could also use mini chocolate chips or jimmys (that is what we call sprinkles here in philly) if you don’t like nuts.

Hope you enjoy this treat. I know I did. LOVED THEM!!!!!

 

When People Are Big and God is Small

I recently read a book called “When People Are Big and God is Small” by Ed Welch. I highly recommend it.

This week I was reminding myself of the biblical truth I received reading this book. I have always struggled with wanting people to like me. Thankfully, throughout my life, I have had very little trouble getting along with other people. I tend to make friends easily and even if I am not really close to someone they generally like me. I guess it is all part of our human nature to want to be liked by people. How many people do you know that when you first meet them say, “I hope you really don’t like me because I am really hoping to die alone.” Sure there are many people, who by their actions, push others away. I would argue that even those people are just doing it because they want others to like them but are afraid they won’t, so they sever the relationship before you have a chance to.

I really struggle when I know someone doesn’t like me. I have a hard time accepting it. It is almost like an obsession that takes over where I try to manipulate the situation so that they would like me. I think, “if I did this for them they would see how great I am.” But sometimes it just isn’t God’s will. As a Pastor’s wife there will always be one person that’s just not into you. I’m learning its okay.

My husband knew I was struggling with this and he pointed me to God’s word and this book. There was one simple truth that really hit me. The truth is that because I am accepted by God I do not need anyone’s approval. He is all I need. And, the world can hate me, all can forsake me, but God’s love for me will not change. It really gave me a new perspective. I don’t have to be afraid to be me. I don’t have to be afraid to minister with God’s word because He loves me. I can walk into any situation, any confrontation, any service and be confident in the fact that I am accepted by the Creator of the Universe. I am loved by the Redeemer of my soul.

I know this is a DUH moment, but it was very life changing for me. I knew God’s love, but I never realized that this truth plays a very big role in my fears and in my relationships with others.

Blessings by Laura Story

I hope this is an encouragement to any of you out there going through a rough time. The Lord is faithful and I love listening to this song to remind myself that God is in all things. The things we would call blessings and the hard times that are “blessings in disguise”.

We pray for blessings
We pray for peace
Comfort for family, protection while we sleep
We pray for healing, for prosperity
We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering
All the while, You hear each spoken need
Yet love us way too much to give us lesser things

Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

We pray for wisdom
Your voice to hear
And we cry in anger when we cannot feel You near
We doubt Your goodness, we doubt Your love
As if every promise from Your Word is not enough
All the while, You hear each desperate plea
And long that we’d have faith to believe

Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near
And what if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

When friends betray us
When darkness seems to win
We know the pain reminds this heart
That this is not, this is not our home
It’s not our home

Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
And what if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near
What if my greatest disappointments
Or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy
And what if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are Your mercies in disguise

Is Piano My Forte?

I’ve always wanted to learn to play the piano. So, my freshman year of college I determined to learn. I took piano classes at my Christian college and eventually moved to private lessons by my senior year. After I graduated I didn’t have a lot of time to spend playing or taking lessons, but after having my daughter and becoming a stay at home mom I decided to work on it again. Thankfully, my mother-in-law has been awesome enough to give me some lessons. So, I have been working on it again for the last 2 years. I like playing, but only at home. Which what is the point of learning to play if you never play for anyone.

Thankfully my mother-in-law gives me the push I need to play. I just performed at a recital two Sundays ago. Let me tell you, the recital keeps me humble. Have you ever been a 27 year old playing in a recital with 5-14 year old kids? I am the tallest and oldest one in the pew, by far the tallest and oldest. Again, I wouldn’t be doing it were it not for the prodding of my piano teacher. It is good for performing, bad for my ego.

After the recital I was talking with Derick who says, “I’m proud of you for playing. If I were you I wouldn’t have the guts to keep trying.” “Thanks hun! (said sarcastically from me). I don’t think trying was the right word you wanted to use.” After back peddling a bit he made me feel a little better about what he was saying. Although sometimes it is exactly how I feel.

Then this Sunday our 1st and 2nd string piano players were out of town leaving me to play for our Sunday worship service. I think it went okay but it is not my favorite. I hate doing it but afterward am glad for the opportunity. I took piano for the purpose of using it for the Lord so I’m thankful He gives me the opportunity to play. I messed up a whole lot and played a lot slower than the other piano players would, but God can use anything. So, I’ll keep practicing and playing for the Lord.