Thursday, August 23, 2018

Encouraging One Another

I have the most beautiful nineteen-month old granddaughter.  She is extremely bright and learns things quickly.  Her personality has really blossomed in the last few months as well.  She is quite the Drama Queen and hilarious with her facial expressions and comedic antics.

Last week I had the opportunity to babysit little Miss Priss for a few days in my home.  Our daily routine consisted mostly of playing.  I did manage to get in my exercise workouts before she awoke each morning except for one morning.  That particular morning Hazel Grace began doing squats with me and was my cheerleader.

Imagine an adorable blue-eyed, cherub-faced girl sporting a tank top and ruffled bottom shorts squatting her cute chubby tush alongside her Vivi.  Each time we finished a set of squats, Hazel Grace would stick her little hands in the air and squeal, “Yay! Go!”  I would then proceed with another set of squats.  My little cheerleader encouraged me to finish my very difficult workout that morning in record time and even work my abs muscles by laughing at her antics.

Don’t we all need a cheerleader to encourage us?  God’s word says we need to carry one another’s burdens and to encourage one another in our spiritual walk.  I certainly cannot do this ministry life thing alone and I daresay you cannot either.

That is why is it is vital for each of us to find a sister in ministry who understands what we are going through.  We need a sister who has walked through the issues we all deal with-criticism, firings, moves, financial issues, etc.  We need someone to tell us that it is okay to cry over the hurt, rejoice over personal victories, and worry about health issues or financial strains.  We need a sister who will not be afraid to speak firm truth to our soul when all we really want to do is quit. We need that sister who will embrace us in a hug. Let’s face it.  We need that sister who knows when we need a good dose of chocolate.

Ecclesiastes 4:9 states, “Two are better than one because they have a good reward for their efforts.  For if either falls, his companion can lift him up; but pity the one who falls without another to lift him up.”

Sisters, we need to encourage and support another in our calling.  Let’s be each other’s cheerleader and shout, “Yay! Go!”

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Make Sure You Have All the Ingedients

No one can ever label me as “Betty Crocker.”  Most dishes I prepare are very simple and no fuss.  Even my mom, who was an excellent cook, decided my culinary skills were lacking.  We won’t even discuss my artistic ability, my mind for math, or my successful sewing feats.  Nope, just not going there.

Well, I decided the other day to make homemade chocolate chip pumpkin bread.  Yes ladies, I know it is August and pumpkin season has not arrived.  However, when your six-year-old grandson pleads, “Vivi, will you make your chocolate chip pumpkin bread for me,” you step up to the plate.
I purchased my ingredients only to get home from the store to discover my eggs were still at the store.  I rushed back to town, gathered the eggs, and raced home.  By now, I am frazzled.

I doubled check to make sure the ingredients were on the counter and proceeded to mix the sweet-smelling bread.  As I am pouring the mixture in the pans, I noticed the mixture was a little off. I was not worried.  It had been a year since I made pumpkin bread.  As I went to open the oven, I spied my can of pumpkin . . .UNOPENED on the counter.  I dumped the loaf pan contents back into the mixing bowl and ADDED the pumpkin.  Ah, there was the perfectly smooth mixture I remembered.  The pumpkin bread batter poured evenly into the prepared baking pans and a sweet pumpkin spice smell filled my home.

Ladies, have you ever done “all the right things” for the Lord but left out the most important ingredient-THE LORD?  Did your “right thing” turn out to be God’s plan?  Did the “right thing” go smoothly without the Lord?

If you are like me, I often focus on my “right thing” and check off the box.  I tend to go in head- strong on a project that I believe is the “right thing” without consulting with the Lord.   The result is a sticky mess that I must correct.  However, once I put the Lord into the mix, things run smoothly.  I know that I need to have all the right ingredients for my day to run well or my project to go smoothly.  With the right ingredient-the Lord-our life will be a sweet-smelling aroma to the Lord.

Friday, August 10, 2018


YIKES............I've been a victim of a scam.  It could have been worse, but it was still annoying.

Three weeks ago, after church on Sunday, I was checking my email and I had THREE emails from Kohl's Department Store thanking me for my online orders.  One was placed at at 11:55 and one at 12:05.  During ALL of these....I was at CHURCH.

Because I had taken ALL of my unnecessary papers and cards out of my purse when we went on vacation a few weeks ago, I did not have my Kohl's credit card with me, but I got online and found a phone number to call.

After talking and explaining for 35 minutes to a non-American........he thanked me over and over for calling immediately so that they could CANCEL the order before it was processed.


Imagine my frustration when on Tuesday....two days later, FedEx delivered a GIANT box from Kohls.  When I checked my account...............the total oft he three orders were over a thousand dollars.

I called Kohls back and told them I had been told on Sunday that the orders were cancelled.  I was then told that ONE order was cancelled..........they were unable to cancel the other two orders.  There were 15 designer backpacks in the huge box on my porch.  YIKES.  AND...another package coming with 10 more designer backpacks.

The lady said she KNEW I did not order it and it was a common fraud............they order something ridiculous and have it sent to your house.  They don't send it to their house because they don't want caught.  (I guess I can be thankful that it was not ordered, charged to me and sent to a P.O. box that could not be traced.)  Still....I was frustrated.

In the end....I received two large boxes.  Kohl's sent UPS to my house twice.....picked up the boxes and returned them.  Eventually the $1,000 + was taken off my credit was frustrating and inconvenient. 

Apparently they did not hack into the actual credit card.............they hacked into my online Kohl's account and the credit card was linked to that account.  They have since removed the credit card from the account, sent me a new card.....which I am debating to close comepletely (I only use it to get the extra discounts and pay it off at the end of the month.)...and I have changed the password on my online account. was scary, frustrating and inconvenient. 

Made me think about the "SCAMS" in our own church.  Don't act know what I mean.

Those folks that come in, usually gun- herselwhole and volunteering to do EVERYTHING. find out later down the road that all of that is a cover up for what they are REALLY like and also completely opposite of their real self.

Years ago, we had a lady that was working in our church and was always the first to volunteer to teach, lead or anything else.  One Wednesday night, she stood up and asked the church for permission to call around to other churches and get together a community Youth Revival.  The church gave her permission.  A week and a half later, she left her husband, who was a deacon at the time, for a druggie and we found out she had been using for some time herself and hiding it.  SCAM.

I could go on and on.  You make it through it and in the end, not as much damage is done as it could be is still disappointing, frustrating and confusing.

We've, just recently, been slammed with not one but two church SCAMS.  I guess as long as we are doing what God wants us to and following Him.....Satan will throw SCAMS our way.  I get that...............but it still is not easy.

Let's pray for each other that God will protect us from the real life and in church work.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

DIFFERENT....but it Works.

Since I am a complete OPEN BOOK...............if you have read any of my previous blogs, you KNOW I LOVE to BLOG and I LOVE TO CAN.

They are BOTH my STRESS RELIEF.  And, sisters, if you will be honest, we ALL need a stress relief...............probably everyone does, but especially if you are in the ministry.

We usually have a garden and some items I will purchase from local farmers and put up.  This year we had NO GARDEN..............I came back from OBX and could not stand it because I had not canned anything.

I LOVE to can vegetable is low in calories and great to take for lunch at school when it gets cold.  Also....I can open it, add potatoes and some beef or chicken and have a quick meal for us.

I have a recipe for three day sweet pickles that my Grandma passed on to my mom.  Roger LOVES them with tuna fish.  I usually make him a batch every three or sometimes four years.  This was THE YEAR.

We got home late on Thursday night and I got up Friday and went up on the mountain to the local farm.  We went back again on Monday.

  • I froze a 1/2 bushel of okra.
  • Froze 4 dozen ears of corn.....some cut off and some whole.
  • I canned 1 1/2 bushels of green beans.
  • I made homemade spaghetti sauce, without sugar
  • I made the three day sweet pickles for Roger.
  • I made the old fashioned squash relish....which is great with dried beans, hotdogs, hamburgers, tuna and chicken.
  • I made salsa.
  • I canned 27 pints of vegetable soup
  • I canned two different batches of dill pickles.
  • I canned vinegar peppers.
And I did this all in ONE WEEK.  Whewww.............I was exhausted, but I wanted to get it done before I started back to school.  And when it was over, I was so excited that it was done in one week and the messed was cleaned up.  Smile

SOOOOOOO........if you ladies get hungry this winter, come to Dayton, TN and I will feed you.  Smile.

We did not have a garden, so this summer was different............but we will still have our homegrown veggies this winter.  I share with my children and anyone else that wants it.

Many times "the way we have always done it" CHANGES at church.  Does that make it BAD?  NO.  It makes it DIFFERENT....but it Works.

I still LOVE my own garden.................but Roger said in the end, it was cheaper to go up on the mountain and purchase the veggies wholesale from the farmers than it is to raise it ourselves.

Regardless...............come on by..............I can hook you up with several things, including some of the three gallons of blueberries that are also frozen.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Changed Plans

Our 39th Wedding Anniversary was Friday, August 3rd.

My first day back to school was Tuesday, July 31st....therefore we usually celebrate early.

When I got married, I wanted a fall wedding, but did not want to have my anniversary during school, so I got married in August.....back when school did not start until after Labor Day.

Our trip to the Outer Banks was an early Anniversary trip.............but, Roger still decided we would go out to eat for our anniversary this year since it fell on Friday, so he made reservations at Ruth Chris.

On Wednesday, August 1, the very sick man that feared would die during our vacation, when home to be with the Lord.

The Visitation was Friday, August 3 from 5-7 and the funeral was at 7.  The burial was on Saturday.

Therefore, Roger called and cancelled out reservations at Ruth Chris.

Instead of going out  to dinner for our anniversary, we spent it at the funeral home.

Did we plan it that way?  Of course not.Did we resent that it happened that way?  Of course not.  

The family NEEDED us and we wanted to be there for them.  DUTY CALLED.

We would not have had it any other way.  

It may have messed up our dinner plans, but we did not have to come home early from our Anniversary Trip...................God took care of us.

In the ministry....................MANY times, our plans get changed...........but I would not have it any other way.

We are doing EXACTLY what God called us to do.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018


Today is bittersweet.  

Our first grandchild, Cameron Lee begins Kindergarten.  

Today is just a meet and greet half a day.  He is sooo excited, but I think back and wonder where the time went.  For five and a half years, momma, mimi and Ms. Sky have been the three most important females in his life.  

NOW....another female will be added.

He is soooo excited, but we are nervous.  We won't be there.  AND...his sister, Kinley Grace, who is only 13 1/2 years younger is devastated.  She does not want her Cam to leave her.

Cameron is one of the most compassionate little fellows I've ever met, with a servant heart.  He never meets a stranger..............which is sometimes scary.  There is no doubt, he will be fine..................I'm just worried about Momma, Mimi and Sister.

New Beginning the first full day of the 2018-2019 school year.

Our Middle School is fairly small.  Last year we had 97 sixth graders.  This year, we have the largest group of 6th graders that have EVER come through out school, which has created several different problems.  This year we have 132 students in 6th grade so far.

We do not have enough seats.

We do not have enough lockers.
We do not have enough books.
We do not have enough computers.

With numbers, comes more "issues" and more "needs"

This year will prove to be challenging.

Ladies............I know you are  praying women.  Please join me in PRAYING for ALL of the STUDENTS all over Tennessee and all over the USA...................and PRAY for the TEACHERS.

School use to be a "Safe Place", but with all of the school shootings, etc., nowhere is safe.


Monday, August 6, 2018

Played It By Ear

Roger and I had wanted to take a big vacation this summer........but between several things that went on, that didn't happen as we planned.

We were dealing with "things" in our family.........I lead a ladie's retreat......we had VBS......the first of the summer, we were both going through PT.............

FINALLY.....we settled down on a Thursday night and started looking at somewhere to do.  On the spur of the moment, we decided to go to Kitty Hawk, NC.  Twenty-one years ago when we first went to our church, one of our church members was from the Outer Banks and kept telling us we needed to go one day.  Every summer Mrs. Hattie would spend two months in the Outer Banks.

We booked it on Thursday night and left Sunday after church.  Drove part of the ten hours and stopped and on Monday went the rest of the way.  We only had three nights to stay there.  We rented a VRBO from a very nice couple.  When we arrived they asked us what were our goals and plans...............we told them we had NO IDEA....we just needed to get away before school started.

In three short days..........we woke up and walked the beach every morning, picking up large shells for our grandkids.  When it started getting hot, we went back to our room and changed clothes to begin our adventures for the day.  

We played it by ear.

I forgot to mention.....when we left.......there was a man, who the family had already asked Roger to preach his funeral, who had days to live. know how it is.  We left on our ten hour drive knowing that at ANY minute, we may be packing up and heading back for a funeral.

We saw the Wright Brother's memorial, etc.
We saw some light houses.
We saw the wild horses running the beaches.
We ate plenty of fresh seafood (our favorite)

AND....we had a WONDERFUL, relaxing trip.  It is definitely one of our favorite vacations of the past 39 years.  We had NO PLANS....we played it by ear.

We saw the sign pointing in the direction of the actual town that Mrs. Hattie was from, but regretfully, because of our limited time....we did not get to go to Okracoke Island.  Roger is talking about going back soon.

We came home and discovered a couple that we know were in Kitty Hawk Monday and left on Friday....we left on Thursday....................the same week we were there.  AND....we did almost the exact things, but never ran into each other.

However...........the other couple, had searched the internet and planned for three years everything they wanted to do.

We played it by ear.............and had no pressure and still saw the highlights.

In our busy, hectic worlds.............where we are always OVER SCHEDULED, it was refreshing to us to HAVE NO PLANS.  (I know everyone is different and for some of you, that would have stressed you out.........but it was prefect for us.)

If you have never been to the Outer Banks...........I would like to encourage you to go.  Especially to Kitty Hawk.  It was non-commercialized and very refreshing.  A very quaint place......and as WE ALL KNOW...........ministers and wives sometimes just want to GET AWAY.

Sunday, August 5, 2018

We Made It!

HAPPY 39 YEARS to my BEST FRIEND....Roger.....August 3,1979. 

Whewwww............this has been the most difficult year of our 39 years.  We have faced things and obstacles that we never dreamed we would ever face.

Just to name a few.......
  • We've survived some "old age" health issues.
  • We've survived unfaithfulness within our family. Not us....but another)
  • We've survived a very serious issue with one of our children.
  • We've survived the loss of my husband's secular job.
  • We've survived the divorce of one of our children.
BUT....together....WE MADE IT!   I would not have wanted to gone through everything with anyone else.

Don't you LOVE the peach with the red carpet in our 39 year old wedding picture below?  

If you will look closely at the back of the will see the two ministers that married dad on the left and Roger's dad on the right.  Both of them are celebrating with us together in heaven.

Friday, August 3, 2018

Remembering and Celebrating Summer

She blows the whistle with three short puffs to signal the other guards. Then all the lifeguards together blow one loud, long, blow signaling the end of free swim and the beginning of the 10 minute rest break.

The children scamper out of the shallow end and away from the line for the diving board to meet on beach towels and eat small snacks around the perimeter of the local, public pool.

It was 5 o'clock yesterday and somehow that whistle seemed extra lonesome as I found myself wishing that sound somehow wasn't symbolically signaling the end to my summer.

I know that by the calendar, summer has over a month left. Here in Tennessee we can and will have summer type temperatures and weather patterns clear into November. (Or we could trick-or-treat in snow!) Summer, by many standards, is far from over -but according to my rising 10th grader, none of those indicators really matter.

School starts on Monday.

Dance classes for my daughter starts next week too.

Bedtime enforcements, packed lunchboxes, and set alarm clocks return to the norm in the Vinson house.

There's not a pumpkin-spiced anything in the cupboard - but summer is OVER.

I am not one of those moms that wish away summer for school to start and the kids to be out of the house once again. I have loved listening to the play, to the giggles and to the squeals. Yes, in all honesty and complete transparency, the bickering, the fighting, and the crying do get old - but in the grand scheme, they are worth the price of admission to get the time, to make the memories and to relish in the blessings.

We went on trips. We visited with friends and families. We tried new recipes in the kitchen. We had adventures. We did new things.

It has been a great summer and I am honestly sad to see it end.

Yes, I have missed my little friends and co-workers at the church weekday preschool and I am excited to see them all again next week, but for now, I am more than a little blue to turn the calendar page to August.

I understand the need of structure, school and routine. God set up the seasons, but He also instituted holidays to break from the mundane and remember.

In the Old Testament, He set up festivals and times to acknowledge His goodness and provision. Passover is an example of how the Israelites were supposed to commemorate how God had delivered them from the Egyptians and to celebrate their freedom from slavery.

In the New Testament, Jesus calls on His followers to regularly partake of the "Lord's Supper" to remember His ultimate sacrifice for us and to celebrate the end of our slavery to sin.

This summer has held a bit of both remembering and celebrating for me. As I've had a break from the school year routine, I have had the opportunity to do both. I have tried to be intentional to remember God's gracious goodness and thank Him for the bountiful blessings that have filled these summer days with joy. I have also been intentional to stop and to soak up the slower place, leaving something undone and realizing that it really isn't a necessity. I have relished time in Bible Study and relaxing around that same pool with good Christian sisters too.

It is the structure, school and routine that make me appreciate the summer so very much. So, as this season ends, and the next one begins, I want to be intentional this last weekend to remember and celebrate - to let summer linger and last as my family transitions back into the busy.

I don't know when summer ends for you. Maybe you haven't had a whole season, but maybe a week's or weekend's vacation. Maybe your kids have already returned to school Regardless, take the time to remember and celebrate His goodness and His grace.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Who's Teaching Who What?

I am LOVING my Friday Ladies' Bible Study at church. 

I have shared a little about it on here, but in case you didn't catch that post, let me catch you up a little- 

I was asked to lead a monthly gathering for the women of our church. The first, informational meeting came and I gathered a few notes and met with about eight ladies. 

We made a plan. We would study the women of the Bible. We would meet once a month, on a Friday morning. And, we would not have any homework.

After we set the next month's date, the ladies began comparing their ages. I am SO glad they waited until I was through before they determined that exactly half of them were in their 80s and that I was the youngest there by at least 25 years. Had I known all of this beforehand, I would have been completely intimidated and would have gone into our meeting feeling completely inadequate. 

As I took the next month to prep and pray for our next meeting, God helped me set my insecurities aside. Together, we all had a great time, opening God's word and all of us learning new things. 

Last Friday was our most recent meeting. There were 13 of us gathered in the choir room. We had our Bibles open for an hour and a half. No one seemed to mind. God was teaching all of us.

Some of the ladies related more to Naomi, while others stated that Ruth was the one they seemed to have more in common with. The first chapter of an Old Testament story that we were all confident in saying we were familiar with, was what God was using to speak His truth to us in fresh waves. We could see God's providence and sovereignty displayed despite Naomi's blindness brought on through understandable bitterness. 

Every time I am with these ladies, I am inspired by their faith and their insatiable desire to continue growing in it. I am reminded that this race we are running is indeed a marathon and that we will only see its finish line with the return of our Lord. I take hope in how God has grown and sown perseverance into their lives, knowing that He will do the same in mine. 

If our Lord tarries in His second coming and He sees it fit that I live into my 80s on this earth, I want to be like these women in so many ways. I want to be teachable. I want to be encouraging. I want to be growing in my understanding of who God is and how He works. 

He is that big. These ladies prove it. I can follow Him faithfully decade after decade, watching todays melt into yesterdays, trusting His promises and testifying to His faithfulness. 

How are these foundations of faith grown? 
  • By daily choosing to increase Him and decrease me . . . 
  • By taking rouge, sinful thoughts captives and replacing them with His words of Truth. . . 
  • By being obedient even when it's hard and especially when I don't feel like it. . . 
  • By resting in the knowledge that He is with me, helping me, recreating me all along the way, not wasting an experience, heartache or tear . . .
These sweet ladies are teaching me so much. I am SO thankful for our sweet time tougher. They may call me the teacher, but I know I am the one being taught!