On the Eleventh Day of Christmas, My True Love Gave to Me…


Back in September, I got this really great idea from Pinterst.  I get a lot of really great ideas, but this was one I just had to do.  It was an idea to do the 12 Days of Christmas for your husband.  Basically, you give your husband a gift for twelve days leading up to Christmas.  The gifts relate to the number of the day…day 2, Shawn got a pair of shoes, day 8, he got eight ounces of cashews.

Today is the eleventh day.  So in honor of the Eleventh Day of Christmas, I want to share 11 FAVORITE MEMORIES with the love of my life!

WARNING!!!  The following list is not for the faint of heart.  {This might get gushy people!}

1.  I love that I remember the first time I saw you.  We were playing sand volleyball at Mid America and you were on the opposing team.  The team I was on was having a winning streak and you were trying hard to impress us so we’d ask you to play on our team.  However, the very first impression I had of you was not your volleyball skills, but your sweet smile.  You are so transparent when you smile and it makes everyone around happier for seeing it.  I remember introducing myself and actually shaking your hand. (so romantic of me)  I probably freaked you out by my forwardness…sorry 😉

2.  You invited me to attend the final for your preaching class in college.  I sat in the pew of the very small chapel on campus where you transformed from this very mild, quiet guy to a crazy, passionate, chair throwing man (yes, he actually threw a chair and broke it to pieces).  It was obvious to me, at that very moment, that I wanted to follow you wherever you went because I could tell that God was taking you places.  I didn’t want to miss out on the adventure!

3.  Excitement, nervousness, embarrassment and love were all things I remember feeling the night you proposed.  You sent me on a scavenger hunt through your magically empty house (moments earlier it was roaring with laughter from Canasta with your family).  It lead me to find you outside standing in the muddy yard, since the new grass hadn’t taken root yet, at your parents new house.  Your dad had fashioned a light-up sign popping the question.  The smile on your face assured me that this was the right choice.  Once you had asked, I had answered and we were both crying, your family applauded from under the three foot high deck where they had secretly witnessed the whole thing…even videotaped it!  I love how they didn’t want to miss out on this huge moment for us all!

4.  We have laughed many, many times over the last almost 14 years.  But one of my favorites was when we were driving back to Tennessee after visiting with my family in Missouri for Spring Break.  It was this moment I realized the severity of your Directionally Challenged Disorder (DCD).  We were just going through St. Louis when you told me to go ahead and take a nap.  I looked at the map (yes, it was that long ago…before GPS) and told you that the next turnoff was about 50 miles down the road.  About two hours later you woke me up in a panic saying we were lost.  After locating where we were on the map, which took a long time due to the fact I was looking at the wrong state, I realized we were not in Illinois or Kentucky, but BACK in Missouri!!  You had managed to miss the exit and travel from Illinois back to the the sticks of Missouri.  Remember how nervous we were to take the short cut the gas station attendant gave us to get back to the highway we needed to be on?  But sure enough, we made it!

5.  One of my favorite youth ministry memories was from Estill Springs, Tennessee.  You had given a crazy challenge for the students to bring 120 people on a Wednesday night.  You followed through with your promise after they met that challenge.  Your sister couldn’t have been happier to have the razor in her hand as she shaved off the hair from your head, arms and legs!

6.  Childbirth is nerve wracking enough but thow an emergency c-section on top of things and you have a party!  I know you were so stressed out when things did not go according to plan when Ashton was born.  I don’t know if I’ve ever told you how much I loved opening my eyes and seeing your sweet face staring back at me when the rest of the room was buzzing with doctors and nurses.  I know God protected me but it was your face that gave me peace in the biggest storm I’ve ever faced.  I was reminded of this when Landon was born two years later, and you were by my side again…where you belong.

7.  Having two boys 25 months apart was very interesting.  One of the sweetest things you ever did was taking the time to call and make me hair appointments when I wouldn’t.  I had that crazy momma guilt going on and didn’t feel worthy to spend that much money on myself.  You knew it was important to me to look nice and would surprise me by coming home to watch the boys so I could go get my hair done at the appointment you secretly made.  It was so thoughtful!

8.  You’ve gotten into some trouble raising these boys.  One time I remember vividly was when we were taking the boys for a walk after dinner.  I pointed out to Ashton a pretty bird in a neighbors yard.  He excitedly said, “Daddy hit a birdie”.  You had been teaching him about golf and I was impressed he remembered that term.  When you started laughing uncontrollably, I knew something was up.  You explained that he was talking about golf, and that you had hit a birdie.  But it wasn’t the kind of birdie I was thinking…you hit an actual bird!  You had been practicing with Ashton in the back yard when it happened.  You told him to promise to not tell Mommy.  Well, that didn’t work out so well for you.  Haha!

9.  When we lived in Colorado, we were visited by our dear friends Lewis and Stacey.  We decided to go skiing and were excited when we got really good deals on rates because it was the end of the season.  We didn’t know that this meant the conditions would be icy and the smaller hills would be closed.  For me this was a pretty big deal since I’d never been skiing before.  You gave me a short lesson and assured me that I could do it.  The problem was, I believed you!  Once at the top of the BLUE, I  uncontrollably sped, (at Olympic speed I’m sure) down the hill passing everyone I saw.  After screaming, one-legged a good distance, I finally lost complete control and tumbled head-over-feet to a halt loosing both skis, polls and hat.  After a couple of minutes you all caught up with me.  My first trip skiing ended very quickly with a motorized trip down the mountain to the clinic.

10.  Another great memory for me was our time in Michigan when you were taking classes online.  Our nights were very quiet as you spent many of them downstairs responding to comments and writing papers.  If you weren’t working on that, you were studying how to build websites.  You were determined that our youth group needed a cutting edge website and you were going to figure out how to build it your self.  And…you did!  You’ve always been able to figure things out that to the “normal person” would seem impossible.

11.  My most favorite, recent memory was when you couldn’t sleep for three nights in Michigan.  You had talked with Lewis and he asked you to pray about the possibility of moving to Missouri with him and Stacey and starting a church.  It was the craziest idea I’d ever heard.  I’m so glad that I did decide to follow you anywhere after hearing that first sermon.  It seems like you’ve taken me around the world and we’ve ended up back at the beginning, but I wouldn’t have it any other way!!  I love you!




{For those of you who actually made it to the end of this post, here’s your reward…this lovely picture of Shawn and me this past Halloween.}

The Most Important Question

Shawn and I talked with a great man of God today over lunch.  He shared the story of his salvation with us with such enthusiasm, one would think that it happened this morning! However, it was forty years ago. Oh to be in a relationship with God for that long and still have the passion of a honeymooner.

The conversation got me thinking about my own story. I had been going to youth group with a girl who would quickly become my best friend, Alisha. I was not opposed to God and believed in Him. I just didn’t know there was anything more than that. We were on a trip out of state and I had been praying for friends at the altar.  I got up and was walking back to my seat when a wonderful woman named Joyce (who would quickly become my mentor) grabbed me by my shoulders and smiled as big as day and asked me if I would like to ask God to forgive me and live for the Lord. Well, I was not going to say no to that.  Who would, right? I easily answered, “Yes.”. I walked with her and knelt as she lead me in a very simple prayer that would alter my life forever.

Fast-forward seventeen years to this morning at church. My husband, who is very sensitive to the Spirit, asked that same question to the congregation with us today. He’s been asking that question a lot lately. Sometimes a fear rises up in me that he’s asking it too much and no one will come forward to commit their life to God and the whole group will be discouraged. (I know, that’s a crazy fear.) But you know what?  Eight people came forward who wanted to see what is on the other side of the door!!

If Joyce hadn’t asked me that question seventeen years ago, I don’t think I would have ended up praying that prayer that night.

It took someone asking.

Who in your life is just waiting for someone to ask them that question?

The Funny’s

My boys are always saying the funniest thing.  My mother-in-law is always telling me to write these things down or I will forget them.  So, for that reason, I am making a new category to put these memories into.

Here’s just a couple of things that Landon has said recently…

The other day I asked him to cut his fingernails.  He looked at me with big puppy dog eyes and pleaded with me to not make him trim his right thumb.  I thought that was very odd and asked him why.  He said, “because it’s my lego finger”. I gave him one of those looks that needed no further explanation.  He continued, “you know, I use it to take legos apart that are stuck together”.  Well, I’m glad he explained that one.  I let him keep that one long because I sure don’t want him bringing me those things to try to get apart.

Today, when we got home from school, the boys were very hyper and needed a lot of direction.  After instructing them many times, I turned the corner to see them wrestling.  I accusingly asked them what they were doing.  Landon quickly spouted that they were dancing!

Love those guys!

Freedom Results in Service

I read this devotional today and thought it was worth sharing.

It begins with:

“You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.” Galatians 5:13

I love how we are to use our freedom to serve others.  The word freedom today typically means a freedom of choice.  It’s all about us and our wants.  Here, Galatians says to USE our freedom to serve others…humbly in love.  Whoa!  There’s an idea.  Most think of serving others as an obligation or as something we are forced or even paid to do.  Just let the words “serve one another humbly in love” sink in for a sec.  Think about the ways you serve today…who you serve today.  Do you do it humbly in love?  If the answer is no, then the next question is, do you know the freedom that only comes from Christ? (Freedom in Christ)

Here’s the full devotional:  Wisdom Hunters for September 19, 2012 …I highly recommend reading it!

Praise Report

Thinking on things of the past can often be a bad thing, but tonight it was a very good thing.  Downstairs in Rock City (our children’s church room) our church board met for our monthly meeting.  A huge part of the meeting was dedicated to a praise report.  This is always my favorite part of board meetings.

Ministry can be stressful at times.  There are always lots of decisions to make and they are all important.  The pressure to do the right thing is high.  The best quote of the night came from Stacey.  She thanked the board for being patient with us when we make mistakes.  Ha!  Of course we make mistakes.  We’ve never done this before.  But the truly amazing thing is to see a list of things that happened over the last month that couldn’t have happened without God’s hand on Echo Church.  The best of all on the list is the nineteen people who accepted God’s gift of forgiveness!  It just makes it all worth it!

Here’s the complete list:
We have grown 100 in attendance from the summer months.
192 people saved YTD.
Hot Springs VBS.
We went from 31 volunteers in the children’s department to 64 volunteers.
Canoe trip.
Amanda Nitcher has returned to lead worship at Hot Springs Campus.
Tithe has increased 44% since we started the 90 Day Tithe Challenge.
28 people were baptized this year in Pleasant Hill.
5 Have signed up to be baptized in Hot Springs.
We have gone to two services in Pleasant Hill.
Friends Day
Started building out the offices but have put no money into it.
We are continuing to support Bible translation in the Central Eurasia area.
Received a basketball goal, a beautiful couch and a school bus as donations.


A Look Back

Curiosity got the better of me this morning.  I was looking at a group page  on facebook for members of our church.  I scrolled to the bottom and hit “view older posts”.  I kept hitting that button hoping to get to the first post.  Quitting crossed my mind  numerous times because it was taking much longer than expected.  I zoomed into the past year skimming as I went.

I slowed down a bit when I got to last November.  There were a lot of posts about work days and pictures of the progress on our current building on 7 Hwy. in Pleasant Hill.  Those were fun to look at.  Sandy posting what the dinner for the night would be, pictures of car lifts being removed and people just plain excited about what God was doing.

It probably took me 45 minutes to get to the beginning of the thred.  Forty-five minutes I really enjoyed.  Funny, the reason I was on the group page today was because I was trying to think of as many new people as I could to add to the current group.  I came up with 17 friends to add.  If I remember right, Stacey started the group on November 27th with 17 friends.

The beginning was full of comments on everyones excitement for the possibility of starting a new church.  The future of Echo Church was uncertain.  Actually, the church didn’t even have a name at that point.  Everyone rejoiced when the Yagers signed the papers on their new building for their business.  It meant we would have a place to meet from the beginning!

Wow, from meeting in homes to meeting in a 10,000 square foot building. Meeting with 17 people to now meeting with over 300!  God is still on the move!  Looking back has helped me see just how far we’ve come.  I can’t say it enough…”Thank you God for using me!!!”.

Super Volunteer {number 1}

I’m not sure what worship song it was this past Sunday, but it was really fast and full of energy.  Near the end I looked up at our drummer Justin Cook to see how in the world he was keeping up.  His arms must have been on fire.  At the last beat he glanced up with a huge smile on his face.  He really enjoys what he does.  I love seeing passionate people using their talents for God.  It’s such a blessing.

Then, I thought for a moment about Justin.  On that Sunday alone he would play the drums for two services, run the cameras after worship, we would see the baptism video he compiled and edited and to top it off, our Hot Springs campus would watch the sermon video he put together as well.  He was involved in four different areas in one day.  I love it!

I want to challenge everyone to get involved in your local church.  I promise there is a need somewhere.  Even if it seems like they have enough volunteers…there is always a need.  Don’t just go for the message or for the worship, or because your kids beg you to go…get involved!

Thank you Justin for all you do for the Lord!  We love you!