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Friday, December 7, 2012

I Will Give Him Praise

I have one of those Christmas coffee table books that I bring out each December and place on my coffee table, of course.

When reading through it again this season I had to really stop and ponder this quote by Max Lucado.

Mary didn’t know whether to give Him milk or give Him praise, but she gave Him both since He was, as near as she could figure, hungry and holy.

I tried to imagine what Mary had to be feeling and thinking as she held in her arms the God that held her very life in His. 

If you were her, how would you have responded knowing you were called to carry Jesus, Emmanuel God with us?

As sweet and precious as that moment had to be when Mary held Jesus, this quote made me realize we can have the same experience, not literally, but spiritually because although we may not hold Jesus in our arms, we do hold Him in our hearts.

33 years after giving birth to Jesus, His mother, Mary, let go of Jesus’ hand for a final time so that we could forever hold Him in our hearts. 

So I will give Him praise!!

Have yourself a Mary little Christmas,

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

One of my Fav Places

Information about the Chronological Bible is toward the end of this short post.

Today's Chronological Bible reading took place in Caesarea on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea.  It was one of my favorite places we visited on our Holy Land Trip.

We read in Acts 25 that Paul defended himself in front of King Agrippa, his sister Bernice and Festus along with many others in the auditorium.  This is the stage Paul stood on that day.

The center of the auditorium shown below is where the King, Festus and other important people were sitting.

Sometimes we forget that the things we read in scripture really did happen, and happened in locations still in existence today.

The Bible is not just a book of interesting stories, but a book of stories that can change your life.

If you would like to journey with the staff of CCA in reading the Chronological Bible with us in 2013 then you can click here to download your own Bible on a Kindle app or device, here to download on a Nook app or device, or here to order one to be delivered in time for us to begin January 1, 2013.

In addition to next year's reading, every day, Monday thru Friday, you will be able to read a blog post from one of our staff regarding that day's readings.

So, if you are ready for a new beginning, a deeper understanding of the Bible and a closer walk with God then I pray you will take this amazing adventure with us!  

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Will You Join Me

Yesterday I mentioned that October is National Clergy Appreciation Month. I wrote a note of appreciation to all our staff and I also shared that today I wanted to ask a favor from our all our wonderful CCA peeps.  (To read yesterday's post click here)

My favor I would like to ask is this…

Will you join me in caring and praying for the staff like I do?

One fact many people do not think about is this; Ministers are humans too.

They hurt,

They get disappointed,

They struggle,

They need encouragement,

They need to know what they do matters…

Just like everyone else hurts, gets disappointed, struggles, needs encouragement and to know what they do matters.

But, the difference is this,

While they are hurting, they still minister to the hurting.

While they are disappointed, they still minister to the disappointed.

While they are struggling, they still minister to the struggling.

When they need encouraging, they still minister to those that need to be encouraged.

Many times a pastor is more concerned about the needs of the people God has entrusted them with than they are their own needs.  And they minister out of broken places. (Trust me, I know)

But being broken is not necessarily bad.  Because of our struggles, we can minister more effectively to the struggling.   It doesn’t make our struggles easier, it just means God is using every part of our lives for His good.

So, again, my favor is this, will you pray and care for our amazing staff like I do?

You will never know how much it means to them and will carry them through tough times when you just send them a note saying I am praying for you and I see all that you are doing and thank you for investing your lives to minister to me and my family.

You will never know how much it means to them when you bring them a meal so that after a long day of giving of themselves they wont have to spend money or hours in the kitchen cooking, feeding their families, then cleaning up.

You will never know how much it means to them when you publicly praise them.

You will never know how much it means to them when you spend your precious time in prayer for them and their families.

You will never know how much it means to them when you do something special for their kids (I know, they don’t have them yet, but they will).  Their kids will share their parents with hundreds of people and I can tell you, that is a tall order to ask of any kid.  And as a parent it is a balancing act to make sure your kids know they still come first.

You will never know how much it means to them when you ask them if there is anything you can do for them because they are always asking what they can do for you.

You will never know how much it means to them when you sacrifice for them because they willingly sacrifice for you.

So, will you join me in caring and praying for them?

I pray you will.

Hope you have a spooktacular day!!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

To Our Staff

October is National Clergy Appreciation Month and as we are in the last two days of this month I just wanted to say something to our Pastoral Staff and tomorrow I will ask one favor from our CCA peeps.

To Jay- Thank you for leading our students so well.  You are an amazing leader to not only them but your youth staff as well.  You wear many hats at CCA and you wear them masterfully.  Your organization, determination and work ethic is visible to all who know you. Thank you for not only sharing the ministry journey with Mark and myself, but for being our friend.

To Caley- You also wear many hats at CCA and your #1 hat is being Jay’s wife.  Thank you for loving him, caring for him and modeling to other young couples what a Proverbs 31 woman looks like.  Thank you for keeping everything at CCA running so smooth and keeping Mark and myself on track cause you know we are getting old and forgetful. J  Seriously though, I don’t know where I’d be without you. Thank you for being not only a great ministry partner with me, but a very dear friend.   I pray you never lose your passion, grace and deep love for Jesus.

To Robby- “You know what they say…” You know I had to open with that.  Thank you Robby for just being you.  Your first serving job at CCA was literally flipping a light switch during service when we were still at Mebane Middle School and we had to use those massive filming lights.  And now, you are leading every one of us in worship every Sunday.  WOW, what God can do when we are faithful in the little things.  I love you and Mags so much.  Thank you for following God's leading in your life.  He is going to do great things through you!

To Maggie-  Sweet, Maggie.  I smile just thinking about you.  And so does everyone else who knows you.  My prayer for you is that you never change.  You may not be ‘out front’ but I promise you are leading.  Every Sunday you demonstrate faithfulness first to your husband as you serve him and make sure he has everything he needs and secondly by your willingness to literally clean elementary school bathrooms and make them as inviting as possible so our guests feel loved and welcomed even while they are taking care of business.  Thank you for doing what most people wont.  I pray you never lose your love for life.

To Caleb- I have NEVER met someone who ALWAYS smiles until I met you.  Thank you for smiling even when things are tough and ministry is hard.  The parents of CCA will never fully know how blessed they are to have you leading their children.  You are willing to dress like a pirate, farmer, or whatever the current series requires.  You make the kids WANT to come learn about Jesus, even in a school library.  Thank you for allowing me the privilege to serve with you once a month in the children’s department. And thanks for always sharing the Kidz Konnection bubble gum during our Monday Evaluation meetings!!

To Erikah- For you, coming to CCA meant leaving a church you had a deep love for and great friends at.  I know what that is like!   But you knew being Caleb’s wife meant partnering with him not only in life, but ministry.  Thank you for supporting him and the Kidz Konnection ministry and loving and caring for the children who some of them only see real love when they come to CCA for 2 hours every Sunday. You are making an impact that will last throughout their entire lives!  There is no greater reward.  Love you for your willing and obedient spirit.

To J Mark- My husband, baby-daddy, pastor and best friend…  almost 19 years ago I stood on a stage with you and before Farrell Kyser prayed over us he looked at me and asked, “Tina, are you willing to go and do whatever God calls Mark to go and do?”  I said, “Yes.” But I had no idea the amazing journey God had planned for us.  I watch you give 110% to everyone everyday.  You have loved, encouraged, prayed for, guided, led and directed thousands of people all over the world. But you have always loved, encouraged, prayed for, guided, led and directed me first. For that, I am more than grateful.  I am who I am today, because you are who you are.  I love you.

So, Happy Pastor's Appreciation Month to all our CCA Staff.  And thank you for all the laughs!!  I LOVE YOU ALL!!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Sunday Night Dinner

I LOVE Sunday nights!!  They are mine and Mark's time for unwinding, processing, celebrating a week's worth of praying and planning that culminated in one awesome CCA service.  It is also the time I look at my Action Steps for another new week and get my mind seasoned with what's ahead.

Sometimes I even begin working on those Action Steps because I really enjoying waking up on Monday morning knowing I have already crossed some things off my To-Do list!!

When our kids were still living at home our Sunday night tradition would be to go to that pancake capital of the world (International House of Pancakes, aka IHOP) for some fam time and LOTS of carbs.

Now, we just settle in for the evening, unless it is hunting season, then one of us is usually sitting on the side of a tree (BTW, that one is not me, of course you already knew that).

So since the IHOP tradition has passed, and we still like to eat, I usually cook us up something that we can also warm up on Monday night when we come home from a long day at the office.  Planning ahead.  It's a good thing!

Today I wanted to share with you one recipe I discovered last week that my hubby said was even better than the restaurant's.  Although, if you are feeding more than two, there probably wont be any leftovers for your Monday nights.  It's that good.

Hope your family loves it too!!

P.F. Chang's Mongolian Beef Recipe:

2 teaspoons vegetable oil
½ teaspoon ginger, minced
1 tablespoon garlic, chopped
½ cup soy sauce
½ cup water
¾ cup dark brown sugar
vegetable oil, for frying (about 1 cup)
1 lb flank steak (I used sirloin since it was on sale)
¼ cup cornstarch (I will use flour next time)
2 large green onions, chopped


Heat 2 tsp. of vegetable oil in a medium saucepan over medium/low heat.  Don't get the oil too hot.

Add ginger and garlic to the pan and quickly add the soy sauce and water before the garlic scorches.

Dissolve the brown sugar in the sauce, then increase the heat to medium and boil the sauce for 2-3 minutes or until the sauce thickens. Remove it from the heat.

Slice the flank steak against the grain into 1/4" thick bite-size slices. Tilt the blade of your knife at about a forty five degree angle to the top of the steak so that you get wider cuts.  

Dip the steak pieces into the cornstarch to apply a very thin dusting to both sides of each piece of beef.  Let the beef sit for about 10 minutes so that the cornstarch sticks.  As the beef sits, heat up one cup of oil in a wok (you may also use a skillet for this step as long as the beef will be mostly covered with oil). Heat the oil over medium heat until it's nice and hot, but not smoking. 

Add the beef to the oil and sauté until brown. Stir the meat around a little so that it cooks evenly.  After a couple minutes, use a large slotted spoon to take the meat out and onto paper towels.  Dab excess oil off meat with a paper towel and add to medium saucepan with the sauce in it.  Put the pan back on the stove over medium/low heat.  Add chopped green onions and let sauce simmer until warm. Serve over rice.

Bon Appétit!!