Friday, December 31, 2010

The ticking clock . . .

With just hours until the ball drops, the fireworks go off, the pots and pans are banged with wooden spoons, the champagne flows and lips meet in a kiss --- however you celebrate the end of this year and the beginning of the new year --- so many things go through my mind.

Has God been pleased with me this year?

Have I been obedient to what He has called me to do?

Have I loved others as myself?

Have I given all I can give?

Have I loved with everything I am?

Have I forgiven everything and everyone that needs my forgiveness?

Have I asked for forgiveness when I needed to?

The answer to each of my questions is a resounding "NO" . . . but God! He understands, He listens, He knows and He loves --- me! You!

Ending each year brings both sadness and joy to my heart. Yes, I am sad that 2010 is ending as I think it was a great year. Yes, I am anxious to see what 2011 has in store. But in the middle of it all, all the confused feelings and thoughts, one thing matters, only one thing! I know God loves me and has been with me throughout every year ending and thus He will be with me throughout each new year beginning! That promise is what counts! That promise is the foundation of my life -- no matter what year we are ending or beginning on the calendar! I hope it's the same for you.

Be safe this evening, in whatever you are doing.

We thank all of you for your support over this past year and we pray you will be blessed beyond measure for your love, your prayers and your support!

Until 2011 . . . Susan and Monty

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Energizing ourselves . . .

I don't have Christmas pics on this entry -- they are on the other computer and I promise I'll get them to you as soon as possible.

Christmas was super great We spent the day with my family in Columbus and the following with all my kids and kids in law and grandkids -- first time in many, many years and long overdue! Watching those grandkids open their gifts, hearing Luke literally screech that "it was on my list, it was on my list" was priceless. Seeing Liv lay on her handmade blanket that I spent so much time and love on -- more than priceless!

All in all - perfect and so many reminders of how thankful we are to be able to be home and share it all with family! I'm so glad we celebrate Jesus's birthday! What an amazing and priceless gift He gave us then and continues to give us each day!

Today was my weekly Bible study. I really missed it over the past 2 weeks. With so many things going on it just couldn't happen but today made up for those lost weeks. Pastor Martie had a message that really hit home for me in so many ways. She talked of staying connected with God, how important that is in order for us to be victorious in the daily battles of being human. Each time I go I realize just why God told me to be there each week. Yes, He literally spoke to me as we were driving home from Texas with that directive. Boy oh boy, am I glad He did! Since their trip to Equador they have experienced so many of the same things we have experienced and having that understanding in common means more than I knew. Sometimes here at home I feel like an outsider, like no one truly understands this calling God has placed on my life and no one truly understands the trials and sacrifices and blessings that come from it. Having not one, but two women who "have been there" and "get it" means the world to me!

In just a couple of weeks the Pastors that they met and ministered to in Equador are coming here to the states. They will be attending a conference in Texas first and then coming here, to cold and frozen Indiana. We may not attend this church on Sundays but we are a part of this church and this mission and I am more than excited to see what God has in store for all of us! It must be big because all of us are being "challenged" in many ways and those "challenges" always come before amazing movements of God! I get excited just thinking about it!!

Be sure and stay tuned!

Until next time . . . stay connected to God, stay strong and be blessed. Susan and Monty

Friday, December 24, 2010

Are you ready?

Someone needs to be moved to the "naughty" list!!! Yes, this is the same someoone in both pics and he spent quite abit of time "hanging out" there!!!
It's Christmas Eve day and we have the ground covered with snow and possibly more than 6 more inches due to fall tonight! A white Christmas is guaranteed -- along with some major shoveling!
We pray all of you are ready -- ready to enjoy some goodies, open some gifts, spend time with family members and remember the real reason for this season. Without Jesus, God's ultimate gift for each one of us all the other gifts under our trees would be meaningless!
If you don't have a home church or your home church doesn't have a service tonight -- check the newspaper for one near you. We are so excited as we are being joined by our daughter, son in law and both grandchildren and attending one downtown tonight. You'll be glad you did!
Merry Christmas to you and yours! Love to all! Susan and Monty

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Getting closer . . .

Somewhere behind that pile of snow is a sunshine pottery piece. I'm beginning to think it won't be seen until spring! With plenty of snow already on the ground and another storm coming in Christmas Eve we are assured a white Christmas!!
Yesterday was my day to babysit my friend, Rhonda's son. With school out for the holidays she is unable to work unless she finds someone to care for him. I took him yesterday and we headed to my parents house. My brother, Mark had some much needed bird seed for me and I needed to pick up some mail. The weather was a bit iffy in the beginning but the roads were cleared and off we went. I don't think he had ever ridden anywhere that took an hour to get there and "are we there yet" was asked more times than I can count. We finally did get there and he had so much fun playing with their dog, Humphrey. After lunch we headed outside where he spent nearly 2 hours playing in the snow and building a snowman as tall as he is. Living in an apartment doesn't give him much space to play outside and he took full advantage of it yesterday. He was soaking wet and by the time we headed back -- quite hungry. A quick stop at Wendys drive through and not only was he satisfied, the trip back seemed alot shorter since he could eat the entire way! We picked up Rhonda from work and by the time they were home I doubted he would stay awake long enough for her to fix dinner! It was a great day! Tomorrow night they are both coming to our house for an early Christmas dinner.
Today brought the end to shopping and gave me some time to do some baking. I could stay in the kitchen baking all day long -- if I can give it away! I'll be taking some of the baked items to my parents house on Christmas day and my daughters the following day.
I still feel as though I need to pinch myself -- being home with family, friends and neighbors for the holidays is such a blessing! We do hear from folks in Texas and will miss seeing so many of them. Yes, Hank and Cherie and Blake -- you are our Texas family and we miss you more than you know!
We pray all of you are ready for whatever the Lord has for you this holiday! Remember -- dont' get too busy and miss what He has especially for YOU!
Until next time . . . love to all. Susan and Monty

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Serving = blessings

The past 2 days have been amazing! Yesterday was our annual Christmas Gift Wrap day and what a day it was! I was scheduled to work 2 shifts which was a 4 hour stretch. It felt like 4 minutes. From the first gift to the end of the 4 hour shift there was never time to look up and look out into the mall. The people were lined up at each of our 8 wrapping stations and more than content to wait however long it would take to get their gifts wrapped.
Pastor Dave and I figured out it was the 19th year for the wrap!!! What an amazing outreach this is! As I said, there are 8 stations where people can get their items wrapped with tissue paper and placed in the appropriate sized box before selecting a paper of their choice from the 9 different papers and then selecting the color of bow to match. Their last choice is whether or not to put a gift tag on the gift. When they leave they are speechless as we take absolutely NO donations of any kind! When we advertise it's free -- we mean it! No matter how many gifts they bring, all they have to do is stay with them while they are being wrapped. I had one gentleman who had been there earlier in the morning with 17 gifts and when he found out we were there for only 1 day he came back in the afternoon and purchased 15 more --- he has 7 children!!! One womans husband had just had heart surgery and we saved her a bundle with wrapping -- not to mention praying for her! One story after another and one blessing after another -- blessings to those with gifts and blessings to those of us doing the wrapping of the gifts! A real feeling for the real meaning of the season and a reminder of just how much God gave to us in Jesus!
Today Monty and I were treated to lunch by our friend and neighbor, Shelley. She goes to church with us, even though she worked at Walmart until midnight last night! And do you have any idea what working at Walmart yesterday was like??? Bless her Lord!
This afternoon we headed out into the city. We were blessed to be asked to deliver gift packages to children whose fathers are in prison. Wow!! Another reality check! We had 5 deliveries to make and it was awesome! Each mother was so happy to have gifts to put under the tree that said "from Dad" and at one household I thought the 2 small boys were going to burst with excitement! Inside their apartment they had absolutely NO furniture in the family room or the dining room -- but they had a small tree with some lights on it and those presents were being placed under that tree as we left! In another home the babies were still napping so we had a chance to visit with their mother and she immediately broke down in tears as we entered with our big bag of gifts and a beautiful basket filled with gifts just for her! She told us she and her mother have been looking for a church and hopefully we will see them next Sunday! At the end of our stops I felt both sad and happy. Sad that these children have to suffer so -- yet happy that in a small way we were able to bring a smile to their face and a good memory of their dad to their hearts. Many thanks to Maria at Vineyard who put this all together!!! Jesus has a special place in His heart for children and I think He has a very special place for these very special children!!! Bless them Lord!! Bless them!!!
Once again -- it is my hope and prayer that you are doing something extra special for someone this season. So many need so much and if each of us does just a little it will add up to alot! When Monty and I first headed to Mississippi following hurricane Katrina and into a town where 26,000 homes were destroyed someone asked us "how do you rebuild 26,000 homes?" Our response was "one home at a time" and it will get done. Amen and Amen and Amen. Let's try that with one person at a time -- think what kind of world this would be if we all did that!!!
Until next time . . . Lord, we thank you for the opportunities you give us to serve You!
Susan and Monty

Friday, December 17, 2010

White on white

Me shoveling the remainder of the snow away from the trucks and our best friend -- the man who plows our streets open!
Yep -- once again we were recovered in white- on top of the white we already had! But shoveling yesterday morning was a bit more difficult as this snow had a thin layer of ice on top making it much heavier and more difficult to work with. But never fear -- I donned my full suit coveralls, less than lovely had, heaviest gloves possible and trusty boots and within a couple of hours had us all dug out. I have a good time doing this for many reasons but one is getting to visit with my neighbor across the street, Evie. We both have husbands who have had heart attacks and are the ones doing the shoveling --- and we both love it! Really! We were laughing yesterday and saying how beautiful it is, even if it is alot of work!
After getting everything cleared off it was time to head into town. I have a really good friend, Rhonda, who is a single mother. Her son is 7 years old and she has dedicated her life to caring for him the best way possible. We had already scheduled a shopping day yesterday. She has no transportation (takes the city bus everywhere) and had the day off work. But the snow caused schools to be closed so she got a neighbor to watch him for a few hours. We headed into town and she was able to get his Christmas gifts. As we were shopping I wondered -- what does SHE have under the tree for her? She has no living relatives -- can we imagine that? Her friends are limited as she wants to protect her son from people coming and then leaving his life. Can't say as I blame her. But we had a fun day shopping and then ran back to pick him up and bring him with me for another hour so she could donate plasma. She does that twice a week to help make ends come closer to meeting! It was a good day and a day where once again I counted my blessings!
Today Monty is once again working on vehicles -- his this time. Seems there is something wrong where it won't warm up-- not just the thermostat. I am no mechanic so I won't go there but he'll once again be under the truck in sub-freezing temps!
Later today I am headed to church to pick up gifts that need delivered to children who have parents incarcerated. Have you heard of Angel Tree? Our church is big time involved and had a great party for all the kids on Wednesday night but quite a few families couldn't make it because of the weather so Monty and I volunteered to deliver gifts to those who missed out. It's an amazing organization and once again should make us all count our blessings. More forgotten children!
I pray you are reaching out to do something special for someone else this season. There are SO many places you can help! And then I challenge you to keep it up after the season is officially over. The season might be over but the hardships, the challenges, the difficulties, the pain isn't for so many! Give it some thought -- stretch yourself and feel the blessings come back to you a hundred fold!!!!! I promise that will happen --- but most of all --- God promises that!!!!! Trust in His promises!!!! You'll never be sorry!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Until next time . . . "love your neighbor as yourself" Susan and Monty

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Winter Wonderland Part 3 on its way

It didn't take long for the morning sunshine to be covered by the incoming snow clouds. Snow clouds look alot different than rain clouds, I had almost forgotten! Almost!
With our third winter storm looming and the warnings posted all over the radio and television it looks like this one could bring 5 to 8 inches on top of what we already have! Stay tuned for photos. I know the folks in the south have enjoyed seeing them -- be thankful you aren't experiencing the single digit temps that come along with it all!
Monty is a bit under the weather today, nothing he can put his finger on -- just a case of the "yucks" I think. He had his flu shot so hopefully the stuff that's going around and hitting the young kids will skip over him.
Yesterdays meeting with one of the local Pastors went really well. He was already familiar with the missions class educational material and was excited to know we were starting this class. He is the missions director for this church of around 3,000 members and also had alot of input for us. We are excited to see the results and know that God already has all the people chosen who are supposed to attend -- we can't wait to see who they are!
Yesterday I also awoke to a message saying my weekly Bible study was cancelled. The holidays are a very busy time and they decided to take a break this week and next week. I understand but so look forward to that study and always come home so filled up -- unlike anything I have ever experienced so I will miss it -- alot! Pastor Martie --- you just don't realize . . . thank you for being obedient to God's calling on your life!!!!
And now I head off to babysit my grandchildren for a few hours to give their parents a chance to attend a work Christmas party. The snow will begin anytime now . . . pray for everyone who will be out traveling.
Until next time . . . white Christmas?????? Susan and Monty

Monday, December 13, 2010

Be someones "snow angel"

We had to dig out coats that have been stored away for a few years!!! These were taken yesterday -- another winter wonderland -- the whole day!!
The snow started falling even before we left for church. Our neighbor, Shelley, and us piled into the truck and off we went. I think the trucks are wondering what in the world has happened to them since neither of them had ever been off the coast until we brought them here! No problem, through the snow we went.
Pastor Dave and Lisa were both home sick in bed with the flu. In the nearly 13 years Monty and I have been going to Vineyard I can't ever remember Pastor Dave being sick and missing a Sunday! And to make it worse (for him) yesterday was the children's Christmas program -- his favorite thing! The kids took a completely different twist on the Christmas story -- they told it from the perspective of the animals! Amazing and we all had tears -- of joy and laughter and all of us left with a new way to tell the story of Jesus's birth!
After service it was time to meet with all those who have signed up for the annual gift wrapping day being held this Saturday at the mall. We wrap gifts -- completely free -- no donations accepted -- and for me it's Christmas! We have to cover a few "rules" and everyone will be blessed beyond their wildest dreams while blessing others beyond their wildest dreams! I love how God works that way!
A quick bite to eat and Shelley had to be off to work. We spent the rest of the day removing snow from our porch and sidewalk -- I lost count how many times as the snow came down in some of the biggest flakes I've seen! Beautiful!
Schools were delayed 2 hours this morning so I didn't need to take my grandkids. I decided to bundle up in my coveralls (yes, girls can wear coveralls), hat, scarf and the biggest and thickest gloves I could find as the winds were (and are) howling around 25 miles per hour!
I knew my neighbor had his first rehab appointment this morning. He's been waiting for this for weeks. He had liver surgery and knows this is the first step to recovering more of his strength.
The snow had drifted up the front of their garage door and they had already pushed through it with their car. After some time I had the driveway and walkway cleared. It's great to go out early, when everything is still so pure white -- watching the birds flock to our feeders. Their chirping and songs tell me how thankful they are to have those feeders -- a reminder to myself to be more thankful! The neighbors called later to ask if I had seen anyone at their house on their drive?! It's fun to do things unseen! :)
This afternoon I have been working on a somewhat gourmet meal -- for a couple in our church who have been -- and are still -- in a battle! Reid was diagnosed with brain cancer a few months ago and has already undergone surgery. He then developed blood clots -- in numerous places, and is really struggling and praying and healing. We, the church, are bringing meals to them on a nightly basis and we are blessed to be the ones on the schedule for tonight! I love cooking, especially for others! A few disposable pans and a quick trip to the grocery and we've got everything in the oven and will be on our way in a couple of hours!
It might be winter here, a time when folks think of staying inside where it's warm. But . . . there are soooooo many opportunities for all of us to reach out and help someone else. If you're like us, all we need to do is step out of our door and there are opportunities right in front of our faces in all directions.
Be careful -- you might get some much needed exercise and you will definitely be blessed!
Until next time . . . another pastoral visit tomorrow to promote our missions school so please keep us covered in prayers! Thanks a bunch! Susan and Monty

Friday, December 10, 2010

Planning . . . and waiting. . .

My snowman!!! He's a bit smaller and shorter as the temps actually got above freezing yesterday and today but he is hanging in there. He might get a chance to "grow" if we get the additional snow forecasted for tomorrow and Sunday!!!

I've been pretty busy the past couple of days. Since I decided to not do any more baking as I'll just sit and eat everything I make, and there's only the two of us, I have switched to sewing. I found a really cute pattern for a Princess blanket for my 2 year old granddaughter and a Cars one for my grandson. I couldn't resist and have been busy making each one into a quilt. They turned out pretty good and I'm anxious for them to open them at Christmas. Most of all I am thankful we will be here for Christmas!

Next week we also have another Pastoral visit scheduled. This one is with the missions Pastor at one of the largest churches here in our hometown. We are excited to be able to share our vision of our upcoming missions training school. This church is very active in missions and hopefully there are folks who will be able to get signed up for the classes. January 18th will be here before we know it!

Speaking of our school, I would ask for prayers for the director of IGO missions school as today he underwent back surgery. It sounded pretty extensive and we thank you ahead of time for the prayers for healing and God's covering.

We also heard from our UMCOR friends in Texas today. They are busy closing down the relief effort and finding it to be quite a job! Their last day will be the 31st of this month and what an amazing job they have done over the past 27 months! So many families helped and so many now in homes where they are safe, sanitary and secure -- and super blessed!

One last thought --- I am amazed at how God has been speaking to me through nature the past few days! Yesterday and this morning I was watching all the birds at our feeders. There were blue jays, redbirds, turtle doves, downy woodpeckers, flickers, red headed woodpeckers, the large pileated woodpeckers, chickadees, crows and sparrows ---- all eating at the same feeders, all making room for each other, all enjoying the seed both in the feeders and on the ground. In the Bible God promises to care for us and uses the example of His caring for the birds -- if only all of us could gather round the table together, all the nationalities, all the cultures, all the races, all the denominations . . . each making room for each other and all enjoying the love of Jesus!!! That thought made me smile . . . I think it was a glimpse of heaven! How about a little heaven on earth??

Until next time . . . Lord, thanks for the object lesson! Susan and Monty

Monday, December 06, 2010

How cold is it?????

Yes, both Bitty and Samson would like to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas (even though they weren't thrilled with the new duds)!!!
I don't know how long it's been since Monty and I have experienced temperatures like this! A very long time and we would have been happy if that time could have been extended! As I drove the grandkids to their other Grandma and to preschool this morning around 9am the thermometer read 9 degrees! Yes, single digit 9!!!!! And that didn't take into account the wind chill which was below zero at that time!!!! The high for the day?? A whopping 22 degrees!!
Needless to say the snow isn't going anywhere anytime soon!
We decided to go out anyway. We needed a Christmas tree!
Let me back up a moment . . . when we arrived back home here in June I was cleaning closets and drawers and took 2 truck loads to Goodwill. One of those truck loads was all Christmas decorations, including our tree. For the past 5 years we have not been here to use any of it and I had a huge sense of guilt for all those who may have lost their jobs (or worse) and didn't have the money for decorations for their families. Since we thought we were only going to be here for 3 months it seemed like the thing to do. So off I went and off it went! Am I sorry? No way! Yes, I had years of "things" but they were just that -- things! And somewhere there are families who are smiling as they put up their decorations -- some new ones they were able to purchase as a surprise this year!
But back to our tree for this year --- sales are great, especially 50% off sales. Our tree this year is a wee bit smaller than years past --- it's a whole 10 inches tall. Yes -- inches!!! It sits atop a small end table and has the tiniest decorations on it, complete with a star on top. And we smile each time we look at it! It's beautiful! And most likely everything will fit into a ziploc bag at the end of the season!!!! :)
Each time I look at it it helps me keep things, and this season, in perspective. It's not about the biggest, the most beautiful, the most expensive or even the latest gadget --- it's about family, about sharing and expressing our thankfulness for each other and about Jesus birthday! He came into this world as a small baby in a barn in a manger. Not the biggest nor the most beautiful of places and definitely not the most expensive bedding or clothing were awaiting him. But . . . he came for us, for you, for me --- and THAT is what this season is all about! Looking at our itty bitty tree reminds me even more of all "that".
Until next time . . . be blessed and be thankful. Susan and Monty

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Tis REALLY the season

Amazing! We haven't seen anything like this in over 5 years! I love getting up early, before the trucks come through to clear anything, seeing the beauty of it all! I love how it covers up all the ugly, turns it all pure white and beautiful! Kind of like Jesus does with us! I do know that it's time to trash the pumpkins though!!! And Bitty and Samson were less than thrilled with it all, especially since Bitty had snow up to her belly and squatting was a bit difficult! I did shovel a path for them!
The snow held off just long enough. Last night was our annual Workers Appreciation Dinner - the 20th one! We haven't been able to be there for years and it was really special for us. The meal was fantastic and it's always great to get to see so many friends in one place where we can all visit and laugh and share! Thanks to Pastors Dave and Lisa for making this all possible. And thank you Lord for holding off the snow until we all were home safe and sound!
Remember to enjoy each day -- no matter the weather. But if you are fortunate enough to have a site like this out your door today, look for the beauty, look for God's hand and smile!!!! As they say "and this too shall pass!"
Until next time . . . be blessed. Susan and Monty

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

A Time for Every Season

Yep -- this was the scene early this morning. It's still the scene late tonight! We're definitely not in the south anymore!

I must admit that I enjoyed going out early and brushing the snow off the front deck and my truck. There's something about the freshly fallen snow, the pure white and the crisp cold that makes me smile. Don't get me wrong; I didn't miss it while we were gone, but I did enjoy this morning! How many others will I enjoy? Time will tell!

It was my morning to go and pick up the grandkids. I take Liv to her other grandma's and then take Luke to preschool. He attends a Cathlic preschool and I love that the focus of this season is actually Jesus! The bulletin boards all along the hallways are changing from turkeys and pumpkins to manger scenes and candy canes. He brought a home made manger home. It was made from paper and had strips of yellowish paper inside along with a piece of paper that had baby Jesus on it. A note inside said that each time he is "kind" he is to put one piece of "straw" in the manger and hopefully come Christmas morning Jesus has a nice soft manger to lay in! Great teacher, right! They are also really into the Advent calendar and take turns opening the surprise for each day until Christmas.

And right after lunch I am back at their house where Liv is brought back to me for the afternoon until Luke and Dad are home from school. It's a special time where just the two of us play and read books until nap time. What a blessing they both are and I thank God for this special time with both of them!

Last but not least -- it's Wednesday -- and that means "Survivor" night for us! Yes, we are huge fans and even while we are in the disaster field we set aside this night for the both of us! No phones, no doorbells, no anything else. We've not missed a season yet. If you're a fan, you understand. If you're not, sorry!

Until next time . . . thank God for all the seasons in our lives! Susan and Monty

Oh --- almost forgot --- I am finally on facebook!!! Wonders never cease!! Look me up under my full name, Susan Scales. Whoopee!!!!