"True gratitude is the ability to humbly see, feel, and even receive love. Gratitude is a form of returning love to God. Recognize His hand, tell Him so, express your love to Him." -Gene R. Cook


SOAP Reading for November 10th...a week late

So this week's SOAP passages aren't posted yet on the SOAP blog, but I didn't get to them last week, so here we go!

Matthew 25
Parable of the Ten Bridesmaids1 “Then the Kingdom of Heaven will be like ten bridesmaids* who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom.2 Five of them were foolish, and five were wise.3 The five who were foolish didn’t take enough olive oil for their lamps,4 but the other five were wise enough to take along extra oil.5 When the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and fell asleep.6 “At midnight they were roused by the shout, ‘Look, the bridegroom is coming! Come out and meet him!’7 “All the bridesmaids got up and prepared their lamps.8 Then the five foolish ones asked the others, ‘Please give us some of your oil because our lamps are going out.’9 “But the others replied, ‘We don’t have enough for all of us. Go to a shop and buy some for yourselves.’10 “But while they were gone to buy oil, the bridegroom came. Then those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was locked.11 Later, when the other five bridesmaids returned, they stood outside, calling, ‘Lord! Lord! Open the door for us!’12 “But he called back, ‘Believe me, I don’t know you!’13 “So you, too, must keep watch! For you do not know the day or hour of my return.

S: I read the scripture through which is a bit ironic because this is one of the passages that Pastor Donnie (a.k.a. my husband) will be using for the advent season.

O: All of the bridesmaids were given oil. Each of the ten had the opportunity to join the groom. Only 5 were wise and had enough oil. The other 5 missed out when the bridegroom came because they were out getting the supplies that they needed. The 5 wise ones were prepared with extra oil. When they tried to get the attention of the groom later, he didn't know who they were because they weren't ready to go with him on time.

A: Hmm... Some parallels that come to mind are that the 10 virgins are all of us. We all get an invitation to this feast. This wedding which is the final party of eternity. Each one of us is invited to join the groom as one of God's children. (I know, bridesmaid, child, groom, God... it gets a bit confusing.) As far as I can tell, the story is saying that each of us needs to be prepared to meet God. We need to be wise and get ourselves ready, so that whenever we do enter eternity, God will "know us". We will have made a decision to live our lives in His direction.
Am I doing that? Am I serving others in the way he expects? Am I learning more about how to be like Jesus by trying to connect to his word daily?

P: God, I pray that I will be prepared. Help me to be wise and to live in your guidance. Help me to see others as more important than myself. I need help to be disciplined. I am inclined to do things the easy way when it comes to my spiritual self. I want to grow in this area.


Calling ALL Bakers!

Anyone interested in baking for the Love Wins Ministry for December, please keep reading! I need YOU, to help me with a big task of baking for a WHOLE LOT of gifts. We'd like to make a box of baked goodies for each of 40 ladies and maybe a tray for each club to set on the bar. This is where your help would be appreciated... I'd love to have 10-15 people each make 4 dozen of one kind of treat. I'd like each person to make a different type of treat. (hunks of fudge, peanut butter blossoms, baggies of choc. covered pretzels, any type of Christmas treat or cookie or bar.) We need 4 dozen of each treat so that we can make a nice, full box for each lady.
Please individually wrap 40 items and put the remaining ones in a separate container.
All baked goods need to be delivered to the Miller house no later than Wednesday December 17th. We'll package all of the treats on December 18th and the delivery date for December will be the 19th.
Please leave a comment below with what you'd like to bring.
Thanks so much for your help!


Shall we dance?

So Donnie and I have been taking a ballroom dance class now for a few weeks. We had a couple of weeks off because our instructor is in a show and had two straight weeks of rehearsal. Getting back in the swing of things is a bit hard, and tonight we learned a pretty hard dance: the samba. It was a lot of fun, but there are some quick and complicated basic steps. AND a lot of hip action.
We've also learned a bit of the watlz, salsa, and swing. I think my favorite is the swing, but I did like the samba quite a bit tonight.
I think next week we're going to do more of the samba!

SOAPed Up Oct. 7th

S = Scripture
Jeremiah 31
23 This is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: “When I bring them back from captivity, the people of Judah and its towns will again say, ‘The LORD bless you, O righteous home, O holy mountain!’24 Townspeople and farmers and shepherds alike will live together in peace and happiness.25 For I have given rest to the weary and joy to the sorrowing.”26 At this, I woke up and looked around. My sleep had been very sweet.27 “The day is coming,” says the LORD, “when I will greatly increase the human population and the number of animals here in Israel and Judah.28 In the past I deliberately uprooted and tore down this nation. I overthrew it, destroyed it, and brought disaster upon it. But in the future I will just as deliberately plant it and build it up. I, the LORD, have spoken!29 “The people will no longer quote this proverb:
‘The parents have eaten sour grapes,but their children’s mouths pucker at the taste.’
30 All people will die for their own sins—those who eat the sour grapes will be the ones whose mouths will pucker.31 “The day is coming,” says the LORD, “when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and Judah.32 This covenant will not be like the one I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand and brought them out of the land of Egypt. They broke that covenant, though I loved them as a husband loves his wife,” says the LORD.33 “But this is the new covenant I will make with the people of Israel on that day,” says the LORD. “I will put my instructions deep within them, and I will write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.34 And they will not need to teach their neighbors, nor will they need to teach their relatives, saying, ‘You should know the LORD.’ For everyone, from the least to the greatest, will know me already,” says the LORD. “And I will forgive their wickedness, and I will never again remember their sins.”

O = Observations
  • God gives rest to the weary and joy to the sorrowing. This statement comes after he talks about very different kinds of people living together in harmony.
  • God did some harsh things intentionally: uprooting, tearing down, destroying, and bringing disaster.
  • The last few verses are really complex and yet they seem so simple. It talked about how God will write his instructions on the hearts of his people and that they will not have to teach others his ways because everyone will already know him. They will be forgiven and he will never remember their sins. (This seems to be about Jesus.)

A = Application

It seems like the beginning of this passage is missing something. There are some effects: uprooting, destroying, etc., but I don't see a cause. Maybe I need to read the passage before, but this makes it seem like God is upset with his people for some reason. Then when you get down to the second half, he offers a new kind of relationship. One that extends forgiveness, no matter what.

I am a pretty justice minded person. I don't offer mercy very readily. When I don't think rules are being followed, I usually get upset. If something doesn't seem fair, or if there is a lack of consideration, I am ready to jump in and try to rescue or protect or defend. I usually want the person to acknowledge what they did. I wonder if this is how God was reacting in the old way? I think the new way is something that I need help to do daily. Forgiving is really hard. I am a huge grudge holder. If I feel hurt, I really want to be understood in that hurt. I want acknowledgement when someone is doing wrong. I want them to take responsibility. What I really need to learn is how to take my hands off of other people's necks and extend grace and mercy.

P = Prayer

Father, help me to be merciful... To the drivers getting on the highway in the morning who cut other people off. To my husband when he is trying to tell me how he feels and I get defensive. To my students who sometimes forget procedures or their homework. To myself when I am not perfect and I think I should be. To my family who makes mistakes sometimes, too. I want to be gracious and forgiving like Jesus.


Soaped up on October 6th

S=Scripture... The part where we read God's word.
Exodus 3
7 Then the LORD told him, “I have certainly seen the oppression of my people in Egypt. I have heard their cries of distress because of their harsh slave drivers. Yes, I am aware of their suffering.8 So I have come down to rescue them from the power of the Egyptians and lead them out of Egypt into their own fertile and spacious land. It is a land flowing with milk and honey—the land where the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites now live.9 Look! The cry of the people of Israel has reached me, and I have seen how harshly the Egyptians abuse them.10 Now go, for I am sending you to Pharaoh. You must lead my people Israel out of Egypt.”11 But Moses protested to God, “Who am I to appear before Pharaoh? Who am I to lead the people of Israel out of Egypt?”12 God answered, “I will be with you. And this is your sign that I am the one who has sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God at this very mountain.”13 But Moses protested, “If I go to the people of Israel and tell them, ‘The God of your ancestors has sent me to you,’ they will ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what should I tell them?”14 God replied to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.* Say this to the people of Israel: I AM has sent me to you.”15 God also said to Moses, “Say this to the people of Israel: Yahweh,* the God of your ancestors—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob—has sent me to you.
This is my eternal name,my name to remember for all generations.
16 “Now go and call together all the elders of Israel. Tell them, ‘The LORD, the God of your ancestors—the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—has appeared to me. He told me, “I have been watching closely, and I see how the Egyptians are treating you.17 I have promised to rescue you from your oppression in Egypt. I will lead you to a land flowing with milk and honey—the land where the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites now live.”‘18 “The elders of Israel will accept your message. Then you and the elders must go to the king of Egypt and tell him, ‘The LORD, the God of the Hebrews, has met with us. So please let us take a three-day journey into the wilderness to offer sacrifices to the LORD, our God.’19 “But I know that the king of Egypt will not let you go unless a mighty hand forces him.*20 So I will raise my hand and strike the Egyptians, performing all kinds of miracles among them. Then at last he will let you go.21 And I will cause the Egyptians to look favorably on you. They will give you gifts when you go so you will not leave empty-handed.22 Every Israelite woman will ask for articles of silver and gold and fine clothing from her Egyptian neighbors and from the foreign women in their houses. You will dress your sons and daughters with these, stripping the Egyptians of their wealth.”

O=Observation... The part where we write what we noticed in the reading.

  • God hears his people and tells Moses the specific problems that they are facing.
  • Moses talks back to God, protesting, and God still stays in conversation with him.
  • God is named lots of ways in this passage: the Lord, our God; I Am; the God of the Hebrews, and the God of your ancestors
  • God speaks directly to Moses
  • He makes promises to Moses, too
  • He knows what the reaction of the people will be, both Pharaoh and the Israelites
  • He causes good things to happen to his people: "I will cause the Egyptians to look favorably on you."

A=Application... The part where we think about what the passage is telling us, what God might be trying to say through his word to us.

Right now, I'm not too sure about this part. The application is sometimes hard. I think maybe I can understand that God knows the specific problems that I am facing. I have been angry with God before and I've thrown quite a bit of yelling his way. Lately I haven't felt like yelling. I've more felt like staying unengaged. That is totally lukewarm and probably really dissatisfying to God. Maybe I should yell some more. I don't think that it is disrespectful. Some people have the perspective that it is wrong to be angry at God. I don't think anger is wrong... I think some of the things people do toward others when they are angry is unhealthy. But, being angry with questions and confusion... That has to be okay. If not, how would we begin to grieve and heal? Sometimes I just want to understand why there is so much loss in life. The Israelites had it way tougher than me. They were worked to death. I'm just struggling with my purpose...

P=Prayer... The part where we pray.

Tonight, as I sit here trying to engage, God, I want to acknowledge your goodness. I want to thank you for sticking with me. Thank you for the amazing gifts that you've given to me. I have all of my needs met. I have a caring and loving husband and family. I also want to understand my purpose. I know that I may never figure it out, but I want to trust that you have a plan for my life. I don't want to speak in cliche. I just need to figure out how to let go of some things and to try to follow your leading. Help me to do that as you helped Moses to all those years ago.



I'm just gonna be honest here. Besides the somewhat regular nightly reading of the bible with my husband before bed, I haven't spent a lot of time feeding my soul. I really like worshipping through music, but I don't spend a lot of time reading the bible. I haven't been getting "SOAPed up" like we talk about in church all the time. The word malnourished was brought to my attention the other day. I think I am starving myself spiritually in this way.
I'm a pretty undisciplined person in some ways. This is one of them. Anyone want to discuss some SOAP passages?
I'm going to try to post some here...

Conflicts all around

So the other night as I was working at my computer, I heard a heated argument between two guys in the hallway. They were arguing about their job responsibilities and throwing threats and insults around. Since I am such a tough looking person (NOT) I thought that maybe I should go out and let them know that someone was in earshot... and that maybe they should calm down before things got carried away. Even though I suggested this, they kept it up. I thought they might actually throw a punch! But after a minute, I think they realized that they really should stop before things got out of hand. Let me tell you, egos were involved.
When I got back in my room, my phone rang... Another coworker down the hall had heard everything that was going on. She asked if we should call our boss. I said that I had been thinking about it. SO... I did.
Am I a rat? What if kids had been around? What if something had happened and someone did get hurt? They're both adults, but don't I have the responsibility to help people see that there are other ways besides abusing each other words or fists? My husband thinks I am crazy sometimes for getting involved. Maybe I am...


I LOVE hearing the rain

I could
listen to the rain
for hours.

I could
walk in it
with bare feet
but, I think I would
take an

I love
You know those
rubber boots
that some people call
I'd like to have
a pair with
polka dots. :)

My favorite things
to do when it rains
are read

My First Sewing Lesson

On Thursday evening, I sat down in front of a sewing machine for a lesson. It's been 17 years since junior high home ec. My friend, Judy let me help a bit this summer with costume tasks for the musical, and one night she asked if I wanted to help overcast a seam on a skirt. I was WAY intimidated, but I tried. Stupid idea! I kept messing up the thread and getting all kinds of knots and running off the fabric. Urgh!
On Thursday, Judy and I decided that I should just start out by sewing some basic seams on some fabric that had no purpose. First she sat me in front of the machine and showed me how to thread it and what each of the parts did. Then I had to thread it myself. (She's a great teacher.) When I actually started, I had trouble with figuring out how to hold the threads while keeping the fabric flat and straight, guiding the edge, and keeping it straight. LOTS of multitasking in sewing! What I came to realize throughout the evening is that my trouble was with trying too hard to force the fabric through. I was trying to make the machine do the job that it was accomplishing all by itself.
Do you ever do this with your life? I sure do. All too often, I try to force things to happen. A death grip complete with white knuckles and all. I push that fabric through and what do you know? it gets wrinkled and all bunched up... Knots appear and string comes from places that I know they shouldn't. Why do I do this? Why do I make a mess of things by trying to control them? Why can't I give up control?
On the other side of the coin, there are many things that I don't control that I really should... Like what I eat. Will I ever get this balance thing figured out?


Labor Day with the Sass Family

Today, Donnie and I were fortunate to be able to spend several hours with the Sass family. We met them through the musical this summer. Valerie and I were Pick-a-Little ladies together and Judy was in charge of costumes. All of the members of this family are so giving and loving. We started the day in a car ride to the lake. I rode with Dale and Judy (the parents). It was fun to chat and get to know them a bit more .
Then we went to the lake and hopped in their boat. We had an awesome lunch together sitting in the middle of the lake. Next it was time for tubing. Donnie and Zach went first. It was so fun to watch them hang on for dear life while Dale steered them around and kept speeding up. I think they fell off like three times! Then Valerie and I went out. Dale definitely took it easier on us. I liked zooming back and forth across the wake. Valerie fell off twice, but I actually managed to hold on both times! Then Donnie came out with me. We went quite a bit faster with him on the tube. Again, a whole lot of fun and I never went for a dive... until I was trying to climb back in the boat and my husband dunked me! After tubing, Donnie skied for a bit, followed by Zach and Valerie wake boarding. Dale slalomed and Donnie tried to wake board, but ended up skiing some more.
When we got back to Gardner, we all washed up and had a FABULOUS dinner! All homemade: steak, potatoes, bread, salad, sweet corn, peach ice cream and sugar free strawberry ice cream, and apple pie! Needless to say we are SO full.
It was a wonderful day filled with AMAZINGLY giving people. Thanks, Sass family, for an amazing day!


Coincidences and Prayer

My husband likes to often repeat something he read from a professor some time ago: "A lot of coincidences seem to happen when we pray."

Last spring we were in Walmart after Donnie had been praying about getting involved in the community. A flyer for Gardner's Community Theater was in the cart. They were holding auditions for The Music Man. So, we look at each other and decide that it might be fun. At that point, Donnie was trying to figure out if this was what he had been praying about. So, Donnie goes in to audition and gets a call back. He gets the role of Harold Hill, which is the lead in the musical. I got to be in it, too - a Pick a Little Lady.
During rehearsals, we get to know a bunch of people--lots of people who live in the community or who drive in to be a part of the show. We hung out after rehearsals, go watch some other performances, and wouldn't you know it, people start noticing that Donnie is a bit different than a lot of pastors.
We did not directly invite people to church, however people asked about it. We had five different families visit our church after the musical. And there are some journeys beginning that you can read about on Donnie's blog.

Prayer and coincidences??? Yep! I think so!


Shades and Flip flops

Tonight I get to bring some fun gifts to the ladies at the clubs. I had a great time picking out sunglasses from Forever 21 and I LOVE the pink and black flip flops from Old Navy, too! We've recently received lots of donations that have made these gifts possible. I'd like to give a shout out to Christ Community Church in Olathe, New Life Church in Gardner, and Burlington First Church in Burlington, Iowa. Thanks SO much for your generosity!
I just HAD to try on all of the shades when they were delivered by Mr. Brown. Don't you LOVE the stickers on the lenses!


Mama Mia!

Yesterday, my friend, Debbie and I went to see Mama Mia. I LOVE musicals, hence the reason I am singing with Donnie and 90 other people on stage this weekend in The Music Man with Gardner Community Theatre. Anyways... the movie is SO awesome! Obviously a lot of music by Abba. There were some silly, quirky moments, but as usual for me, I laughed out loud and clapped and sang throughout the movie! I like to do that when I'm in public watching a musical! Don't you? I hope my friend, Debbie didn't mind!!! I would highly recommend it. It is REALLY fun! Thanks to Debbie for getting me out of the house. :)


Special Deliveries!?!?

It is getting really late, but as I often do when I am up late, I was reading a blog by someone creative and stumbled upon this fabulous idea! It sounds a bit familiar...

The writer happened to be a bit depressed about a move that is taking her away from her normalcy. She is grieving. Her loss is the home in which she and her family poured themselves. BUT, the cool thing is that when she is feeling blue, she brings unexpected gifts to friends, neighbors, etc. She is uplifted when she is uplifting someone else. That's what I want Love Wins to be. I want it to be a bright spot, even when there is crap happening to me or those who get the gifts. Right now, I feel pretty crappy. Sometimes I don't even want to get out of my pajamas and it is the middle of the afternoon... I do get pumped when I am thinking about Love Wins. I am really excited about the July gifts. The ladies will actually get to pick their favorites of two different, very summery things! Can you guess what they are?


Flower Food

On Sunday at church, Phillip brought a whole bunch of white roses to church out of the kindness of his heart. He said that his dad works at a place where damaged goods are brought in and sold at reduced prices and this week, a flower truck was overturned. So he bought a whole bunch of different flowers. How nice for all of us! I ended up bringing home about a dozen white roses. The poor little things were in my car for a couple of hours in the scorching heat and looked pretty limp when I got home. So, I thought I would try to revive them before giving up and tossing them out. Last Spring, a florist from Hy-Vee came to my classroom to teach the kids how to arrange and care for cut flowers.

The first thing you always want to do is to put the flowers in water when you cut them again before putting them into a vase. You need to cut the stem at a diagonal under water. This allows the water to be better absorbed. Then put water in a vase and add a sweet and sour to it. For instance, I added a tablespoon of sugar and a teaspoon of vinegar for a quart of water. Be sure to change the food and water every few days and your flowers will stay beautiful much longer!
Do you have any handy tips today?


56 Today

Today is my mother's birthday. If she were still alive, she would be 56 years old. The last birthday that we got to celebrate with her was her 40th. I can remember what she was wearing at her party, assisted a bit by a photograph that we still have. She was wearing pink, white and blue with a pink scarf wrapped around her forehead. I can still see her crooked smile. That is a gift for which I am really thankful.
I remember her...
singing while she did the laundry
coming to our rooms at night to read or sing us to sleep
making beautiful dresses, costumes, and wrapped presents
staying up really late to finish a book
staying up really late to wrap presents
staying up really late to sew a last minute costume
talking with anyone who came to the door for an hour
loving the Christmas season
spending all of her clothing budget on my three sisters and I and not on herself
working for the Lee jeans company
smiling every minute of the roller coasters at Worlds of Fun
telling me not to shave my legs until jr. high (which I disobeyed and regret!)
being a goofy actress with her sisters
lighting up a room
being a friend to dad's sisters and cousins
favorite flowers were yellow roses
being persistent about my youngest sister's education
smelling like raspberries when she left the world
leaving the world when the sky was pink
always wanting what was best for me and my sisters.
We love you, Mom!


Cruisin' in Alaska: Skagway

In Skagway we took an excursion by helicopter up to a mountain river and hiked about 2 miles up to a beautiful lookout point. Along the way we walked out to two spots on the river that were gorgeous! Our tour guide, Erin, taught us about many plants and animals that live along the trail. During the helicopter flight, our pilot took us to see another glacier up close. About 25 feet away, actually. Then he landed on a concrete slab near a railway bridge. We began our hike along the river. When we reached the lookout point, we returned to the landing spot and got on a train back to Skagway.


Cruisin' in Alaska: Juneau - City Walk & Whale Watching

The nice thing about taking a cruise is that if you decide to do any of the excursions that the cruise ship has to offer, everything is taken care of for you. You don't have to think about where you're going and if there will be tickets available or not. There is a tour guide from the area and you get picked up and dropped off right by the ship. We also took advantage of a few hours between excursions to wander around Juneau. There were shops of course, as well as the capitol building, which we toured. It was interesting that Juneau has the largest area of any city in the country and only about 30, 000 people. Alaska also had a big part in the gold rush days. The Klondike Gold Rush to be exact.
An old mining building used in the Klondike Gold Rush days.
A cable car that takes you to the tip of a mountain above the port.
A cute little house in Juneau.Flags that tell the city's story.
A Russian Orthodox Church.

The capitol building in Juneau.
Alaska's state seal.

Side shot of a humpback whale coming up for a breather.
Humpback fluke.
A deep dive of a humpback whale.
Caught the fluke again! Sea lions resting on a buoy in the middle of the bay.

Can you believe this is ONE vertebrae of a whale!?!
Michelle, our naturalist, showing a part of a whale's baleen.

On the whale sightseeing boat. I think Dan was tired of pictures...
This is the ferry that takes people in and out of Juneau.
If you want to take your car, you bring it on the ferry, too!