year end reports, taxes, and other necessary evils

It’s that time again, the time each year that reminds me what a failure I am at keeping good records. Every year I say, “next year will be better, next year I will do this monthly..” but every “next year” it is the same song, 26th verse. See, my husband is a pastor and his income is divided into 3 parts: salary, housing, and ministry expense. In order for this to work, we must file receipts, fill out forms and turn in reports. We are both of the creative mind set and neither one does this sort of thing very well. Every year I get it done, but not without much angst and sometimes even filing extensions…gasp! However, as I sat filling out reports this morning I began to see it in a completely different light. I began to look at the receipts and expenditures as a record of my year full of blessings. Maybe it is due to lack of sleep, or maybe it is because we are on the Daniel Fast; whatever the reason, my focus shifted and I am thankful.

My husband has a job
Our medical needs were taken care of
We spent time with many wonderful friends
We traveled to conferences and were refueled for the coming days
We recorded our first album
We have a home to take care of
We were given not one, but two vehicles
My Young Living adventures have turned into a business and an opportunity for ministry
We entertained people in our home
We shared meals with those in crisis situations
We are part of an awesome church family
We graduated our first born from our homeschool
and the list goes on and on…

I am so thankful I had to do this task today.

moments of miracles…

August 31 was a nightmare day for our friends The Shrefflers. As I was sitting at a baseball game in OKC, the text messages started to pour in… Lilee had been hit by a car; Lilee is being flown to OKC; Lilee…

Our beautiful sweet Lilee thrown into the air as a car hit her going over 55mph. It was unthinkable. Her head was split open; they worried about brain swelling. Road rash, broken femur, cracked pelvis, cracked vertebrate in her neck…
I remember reading her aunt’s facebook post and just crying:

“Please Pray for my sister Jessica Shreffler daughter 12 yr old Lilee Shreffler!!! She was hit by a car going 55 mph last night as she was throwing out the trash and went flying into the air then skid across the road!! She was knocked unconscious lying in a pool of blood!! Pray for 10yr old Laurellai Rose Shreffler too for she saw the whole thing happen and didn’t know if her sister was dead or alive!! (She also saw her 2 yr old baby brother Joel drowned a few years ago) This family has been thru so much, Please lift them all up in prayer!! We’re not gonna let the devil take another one of her babies!!
Lilee was airlifted to Oklahoma University Children’s Hospital in Critical Condition. The top of her head was spilt open (Skull seems to be fine), she has a concussion and a brain contusions and some bleeding, a compressed lung with contusions, multiple broken bones through out her body, shoulder blade and arm, cracked up the back of her pelvis, femur (thigh bone) her leg is all mangled (the bone was horizontal), Horrific Road Rash from Head to Toe!! And the list goes on and on… She woke up every 10 minutes through out the night in massive pain, the medicine isn’t helping very much. She wasn’t alert and didn’t know what was going on.”

But God… God held her in His hands and began to show us all those precious moments of miracles. Greg and I had the privilege of witnessing one of the first. We had gone to Children’s hospital to visit her a few days after the accident. Up until then, she hadn’t been coherent and there was concern about her brain. Would Lilee still be Lilee? Would she have her same quirky sense of humor and rapid fire talking skills? We soon found out… As we left the room, Lilee opened her eyes and saw us. We left her room and were walking down the hall when her mom came hurrying out, “Come back. Come back. She is asking for you!” As we walked in her room, Lilee asked me if Emma, our daughter and her friend, was with us!

When I said, “no, but I will bring her back to see you.” Lilee scrunched up her nose and in her best hick accent said, “well that’ll be fun cuz I’m sure I look real perty!” There was a sense of relief and thankfulness that filled the room as laughter and tears mingled together. Lilee was back! Lilee was still Lilee! Oh, the road that lay ahead was long and painful, but her brain was fine.

Only Lilee could make a neck brace, wheelchair, and walker look glamorous…

yes, it has been a very long time…

I haven’t blogged for a very long time now. Not that my life hasn’t been interesting enough to write about; quite the contrary. Life has been very full. Full of changes and blessings; heartaches and joys; miracles and struggles…

I haven’t known how to put it down into words. Maybe a little frightened of what might come out. I often wrestle with the balance between being real and being too real. But, I am back. We will see what comes out of this and where the next leg of this journey takes us.

For a small recap:

My oldest son moved 3 hours away to do an internship at Church On The Move

I was given brand NEW FORD FLEX

My husband and our church released our very first LIVE worship album

I began a career as an Independent Distributor for
Young Living Essential Oils

I am teaching 2 classes at our homeschool co-op

My middle son got his driver’s permit

That’s just a few things to get you caught up!

How “The Voice” let me hear God’s voice…

We are hooked. We love “The Voice”. All 5 of us sit around and cheer and critique; it is awesome! Since we are a house full of musicians, this kind of show is perfect for us. Now, I do wish the judges had a better vocabulary and didn’t resort to profanity like they do, but it is what it is. We have teens now and we talk about how those words make us feel and how unnecessary they are. Well, the other day I was catching up on an episode that we had missed as a family (thank you HULU), when I heard this phrase, “it just proves there is no pit too deep”…wow… it stuck. I beleive that, I believe there is no pit too deep for God. He can reach us and lift us up. Also, He can come down in the pit and comfort us as we find the strength to trust… whoa!

As soon as I heard that phrase, I went to the piano and sang the song God was speaking to my heart… here are part of the lyrics:

No Pit Too Deep

No pit too deep
No mountain to high
You see every tear
You watch me cry…

I’m never alone
With You by my side, so come and rescue me

You are here
I feel You now
You are here
There’s no more doubt
Your love surrounds me and I know, I know
I know that You are here

I hope this brings an encouraging thought to someone. Even in “the pit” God is there. We are never alone! What an amazing thought!

the sweet sound of sabbatical…

I am sitting in worship team rehearsal writing this blog. I am not in singers rehearsal. Why? Because I am on a singing sabbatical. I am so excited, I don’t know if I will be able to explain it with mere words. For 25 years I have been a pastor’s wife on a worship team. The majority of those years I sang every Sunday. Some Sundays I sang 2 or 3 services… I love to sing and I love to use my gift in the local church. But I wanted a break. I want time to sit and soak it all in. I want time to pray about the things that are ruminating in my spirit. I want to explore the next phase of ministry God has for me. Many can fill my spot on the worship team, but none can fill my spot as Greg’s wife (just let them try!) and no one else can be the mother my kids need. Remember my word of the year? streamline. This is what STREAMLINE looks like as God is bringing it to fruition.

repost from Holly Furtick…love her fashion advice

Fashion File… How to ruin a good outfit
How to ruin a perfectly good outfit…

Don’t iron your clothes. If you don’t have time to iron, you should probably choose something different to wear. I know that there are those out there that subscribe to the I pull it out of the dryer and hang it up before it wrinkles theory. And while this usually works, it is not the perfect solution (neither is the Downy spray on wrinkle releaser). There is no point in spending money on a shirt that you won’t bother to iron. And if you hate ironing so much, you can always budget in dry-cleaning.

Wear clothes that don’t fit. If your clothes are too tight or too loose it can be distracting. Also if your pants are too long or too short. Clothes that are too tight, or too loose can actually make you look bigger.

Stop just short of completion. Sometimes you have to give up a little bit of comfort. I am sorry to break it to some of you, but your sneakers do not go with everything. And ladies, if it is chilly outside, a hoodie does not compliment everything in your closet. And you know that sporty velcro watch that you have had since college, it no longer goes with everything.

Read more from Holly here

my word of the year… a few months late

Last year my word of the year was QUIET. It came to me during the 2010 Christmas holidays, and it rang true on so many levels throughout the year. So as I approached 2012 I was anxious to find that word; the point of focus for this year. I waited, I prayed, I read, I discussed… At some point in January Greg came to me and stated in true “man, leader, see-the-hill, take-the-hill” fashion that the word of the year should be RESULTS! Now, I agree with him, we could sure use some results around here at the Erway house… but, was it my word? Could I see myself focusing on RESULTS? I guess my innate fear of failing took over and I couldn’t allow myself to proclaim that truly this would be the year of RESULTS.

I am working for results
I am praying for results
I am trusting God that results will happen

But where is my focus?

I am happy to say that today I finally feel like I have my word. STREAMLINE.
Ya know what? STREAMLINE is the key to RESULTS. God is cool like that!

So, here is to STREAMLINE – Let the purging begin… did I just say that? I know some will be painful, some will be liberating, all will bring about RESULTS.

How about you? Do you have a “Word of the Year”? I would love to hear what God is doing in you life.

I wore a hat today; that was a mistake…

I could start this blog post by saying that I never wear a hat, but since I wore one today that wouldn’t be accurate. What I can say is that hats aren’t a regular part of my wardrobe. I like hats. My husband wears hats, my kids wear hats, I however, only wear hats on special occasions. Today was one of those occasions. I leave my house with my hat on and go about my day. Then it happened. I find myself in a gathering of parents and kids. There is to be an opening prayer before the activities begin. The man in charge says to me that he is going to ask me to remove my hat. I smile and stand there with my hat on my head. He then addresses me by name and asks me to remove my hat for prayer, I chuckle and respond, “I’m a woman, I don’t have to.” Now, even as I type this I see how non-submissive that sounds. You must understand, I was sure he was joking. Apparently he wasn’t. As all eyes focused on me and waited for me to remove my hat, I felt the tears well up in my eyes… I did the only thing I knew to do. I excused myself and stepped outside. It would have caused a scene for me to pull off my hat and stand there blubbering like a baby while the group said a simple prayer.

In all my 25 years of being a pastor’s wife I haven’t ever heard of a woman being asked to remove her hat. Obviously this is something this particular person believes in and that is fine with me. I just felt blind sided with emotion and was instantly humiliated… the kids even started chanting, “take off your hat” over and over. I’ll spare you the details of the conversation that followed. I do want to make it abundantly clear that I hold no ill feelings towards this person. They were not intending to cause me angst, they just didn’t understand all of the emotion behind me wearing a hat. I’ll let you in on my train of thought…

I wore a hat today because after my workout I didn’t have time to wash my hair. I didn’t have time to wash my hair because my oldest son was trying to get his stuff together to make a trip to Tulsa and I needed to help him. My oldest son was going to Tulsa to turn in an application for an internship at Church On The Move for next year. He plans to do an internship next year because he is a SENIOR in high school and will be moving to Tulsa in August.

I am losing my baby… that’s why I have on this hat!

I wore a hat today because I didn’t have time after my workout to wash my hair. Oh, I had plenty of time to wash it, but not enough time to dry it and fix it. I didn’t have time to dry it and fix it because it is half way down my back and it takes half a day to dry. My hair is half way down my back because I made a stupid deal with myself that I won’t cut my hair until I lose 50 pounds. I haven’t cut my hair in almost 2 years because I have lived through weight loss hell (see previous fat to fit posts).

I am a failure at losing weight… that’s why I have on this hat!

WHEW! That’s a lot of stuff behind the simple act of wearing a hat. However, I think it rings true for a lot of things in life… we never know what people are going through. While I know that I’m not losing my son and I know that I’m not a failure, in that moment that is what my hat represented. It represented where I was on my journey. I plan to try and remember this moment and embrace the lesson of grace I learned. I hope that in the future I try to see things more from other people’s point of view. I also learned to not ever wear a hat again!

the blog post I shouldn’t ever write…

If I were brave enough to type the words that are running through my mind, it wouldn’t be pretty. That’s real life though. We all have days and series of days where our emotions, physical limitations, and our humanity get the best us and we crumble into a heap of ugliness. The cool thing is that it doesn’t have to last forever… Learning to give thanks and looking for the gifts in my life can help lift me above myself. So, maybe I should write this blog. Maybe, just maybe, this is the healing process. Sharing my thoughts without writing them down. I think we all can relate. No need to give the nitty gritty details. The details and names change, but the story is the same: we are a people in need of a savior… Grace is our only hope, and grace is all we need.

Christmas crazy…

Christmas can be a crazy busy time around our house. Much of our energy is spent preparing for special Christmas events at church as well as the normal family decorating and gift buying. Here are a few highlights from the first half of the month…