Monday, February 24, 2014

The Power of a Praying Man—a tribute to “Cowboy Gene” Gene J. Wallace

    Today I’m gratefully remembering a man from my home church—Cowboy Gene, who has gone on to heaven.  While Parkinson’s weakened him, I still remember him as tall, strong man usually wearing a cowboy hat, Wranglers and boots.  Cowboy Gene would often encourage me and tell me that he was praying for me.  Before I married, he also pulled aside my now-husband and admonished him to treat me right.  

    One Sunday in March ‘97, Cowboy Gene told my mom that God had put my sisters and me heavily on his heart to pray and intercede for us that week.  My mom realized why and fully appreciated it more after hearing back from us after that weekend.

    I had been on a Concert Choir tour for Spring Break from my college, Trevecca, in Nashville.  It was the Alabama/Mississippi tour.  We were riding our tour bus toward a Sunday night concert before the era of cell phones and didn’t realize the danger of tornado around us.  At one point we stopped for a break, then continued to our destination.  When we got there we learned that we had missed a tornado likely “by five minutes.”  In the light of the next day, we saw the devastation for ourselves. 

    That same Sunday night, my middle sister was on an NNU weekend Concert Band Tour.  While students slept as their bus was returning from Portland to Nampa, it hit ice and the bus spun around going the wrong way on the interstate.  It had to drive the wrong way for several miles until it was able to turn around again.

    My youngest sister, still in high school, had been attending a National Young Leaders Conference in Washington, D.C. that weekend.  She called home from Salt Lake City that night saying that the last leg of her flight had been delayed—a small plane had crashed right before hers landed and there had been a fatality.

    So, as the reports of the weekend came back to my parents, my mom remembered what Cowboy Gene had said—that he had been praying for us especially hard that week.  I’m thankful for Cowboy Gene’s prayerful life and for his positive influence on my life! 

Monday, September 19, 2011


Wednesday night, we had no water.  A neighbor came over to help with the well. We discussed the dry weather and he asked what I'd do if our well ran dry. "Pray for rain!" I said. He got the well running, but a funny thing happened; it rained the next morning! The paper's forecast for Thursday was "Brilliant Sunshine" and the weather column published that day anticipated dry and warm weather for the rest of the month. The neighbor asked what I had going on over here since I got the rain I prayed for—I said that God is so funny sometimes and he hears!!   Thank you, God, for sending the rain!  Soli Deo Gloria!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Exploring Prince Edward Island and all things Anne

Growing up, my sisters and I were obsessed with the Anne of Green Gables movie series and books. We hatched a dream to go to Prince Edward Island (PEI) and walk in the path of the fictional character, Anne, to take in the beautiful surroundings and thrust ourselves into her way of life.

This past fall, our dream became reality. We met up in Halifax, Nova Scotia, rented a car, took a ferry, and arrived in Prince Edward Island. We ate in the charming capital of Charlottetown, bought some groceries and headed through red-soiled farmland north to our cottage,, near Cavendish (the real Avonlea).

Sunday morning, we attended church at Cavendish United Church where Lucy Maud Montgomery (Maud) had attended for many years. Maud had been the church organist and became secretly engaged to its minister. We spent the rest of the afternoon seeing other Anne sites such as “Avonlea”—a theme park with no rides, but a quaint, nicely done, Anne utopia. It included a gift shop with every Anne collectible imaginable, the actual schoolhouse where Maud taught, another church she had visited, raspberry cordial was sold at a candy shop, a room was filled with self-serve dress up clothes and scenes to take pictures of yourself, and other businesses, exhibits, and animals formed this community. We drove past Maud’s birthplace and visited the Anne of Green Gables museum (a home of her relatives and where she married) which was up from the “Lake of Shining Waters.” We also visited the post office/museum like the one Maud worked at with her grandparents, saw the foundation of her childhood home, walked through Lover’s Lane and through the Haunted Wood (beautiful, not scary) to the house that inspired Green Gables.

That night, we were invited to a lobster feast that I very much enjoyed! My sisters weren’t big lobster fans; more for me! A big thanks to our shirt tail relatives on the MacNeil side.

The following day, we visited some beaches and nature trails on the island. The island includes lots of coastline, a large national park, beaches, and golfing. The scenery includes some rugged red cliffs, well maintained farms,

and cute fishing villages like one in nearby North Rustico. We also visited the author's grave which definitely stands out from the others. That afternoon, we took a scenic route back to Charlottetown and enjoyed its small, fun downtown, shops, restaurants, and the summer musical, “Anne of Green Gables.” We returned to our cottage to see the most spectacular view of stars we’d ever seen. The stars were visible from the ground up to the sky in every direction. We could see galaxies and more stars than I knew existed; it was an amazing site to behold. One sister commented that the view of the stars alone was worth the entire trip.

The next morning, we bid adieu to Prince Edward Island and left by way of the Confederation Bridge. It is nicknamed the Gentle Island and it was quiet, with friendly people and a slower pace of life. We had taken in the beautiful sites of the island, learned more about our heroine and her creator, and saw our Creator’s handiwork in the night sky as well.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Basement Beautification

When we bought our 1918 Colonial Style home back in 2002, it had a creepy basement.

    We hung drywall to hide the crawlspace, painted the floor, stairs, and walls.

While shopping in a market in Pakistan back in 2003, I purchased fabric and later stapled it to the joists to create a ceiling and keep up the cords and insulation. 

Recently, I was inspired by the blog, The Stories from A to Z, to embellish my wooden staircase. With some of the old paint and a $6 stencil, I went to work.  On Halloween, I donned old scrubs as paint clothes and worked on the stenciling. I ran out of time, and took my kids to the Harvest Festival at church in scrubs with red paint stains, which, I am told, made a very realistic costume.

I love the look of my basement stairs now! 

Sunday, October 4, 2009

'Tis the Season of Pumpkins

Fall is here and it is pumpkin season! In the past, I've celebrated by hosting a pumpkin recipe tasting at my home, where everyone brings a food item made with pumpkin to share. This year, I'm responsible for creative activities chair for my Mothers of Preschoolers' (MOPS) group and so I wanted to share a fun and festive pumpkin craft creation that is frugal, too:

Paper Bag Pumpkins

1) Select bag size you want to use (we offered lunch bag to grocery bag size)
2) Paint bag orange (except the bottom), also paint some paper green for leaves
3) Round the bottom of the bag by reaching in, pulling it up and tying it
4) Fill with scrunched up newspaper
5) Add stem (stick) and tighten around stem with raffia, wire, or hot glue. The stem can be wrapped with florist tape if desired.
6) Add leaves

When my son saw my paper bag pumpkin, he asked whether it was a pinata for his sister's birthday. I decided to use it for that, inserted candy, added a tape strap at the top, and then my husband threaded a rope through the tape loop. I was impressed with the durability of the bag, but with adult intervention, the pumpkin was smashed and candy released.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


It’s wedding season and I love weddings. I also really hate to see marriages break up, even in couples I’ve never met.

Last week, I tried unsuccessfully to e-mail Jon and Kate—parents featured on TLC’s reality show Jon and Kate Plus Eight. Recently, the media has feasted on rumors of their marital problems, yet before that, it was disheartening to see their ways of relating on the show. It was the classic “crazy cycle” discussed in the Love and Respect DVD series. That seven hour series by Emerson Eggerichs (www.loveand discusses how women often become critical, the man responds by being unloving and the downward spiral continues to feed itself in this warped fashion. The series goes on to teach the biblical way of relating with lots of practical help. I wanted to encourage them see the DVD series, which is like a marriage conference in the privacy of your own home. It also comes in book form, I recommend it to everyone, and bought the DVDs to share.

My husband and I will be celebrating our 10th anniversary this summer. Here are some other marriage resources that have helped us along this journey:

1) The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman. This book talks about how individuals express (and expect to receive love) in five main ways including: gifts, acts of service, physical touch, quality time, and words of affirmation. The book explains how to better express love to your spouse by showing love according to their preferred love language.

2) The movie Fireproof and its book Love Dare. Fireproof is about a couple on the brink of divorce. It is a powerful and thought provoking movie with a Christian perspective. The husband in the movie decided to complete a love dare and change his actions toward his wife. The book is a practical exercise in agape (unconditional) love.

3) Sacred Marriage, by Gary Thomas. The premise of this book is that God’s goal for our marriage is not for our happiness, but for our holiness. Yes, this is in total contrast to the world’s thinking! God uses the trials in marriage to refine us and draw us toward Him. Marriage is a spiritual discipline, growing and testing us, and causing us to rely on God. The book is not a formula for perfect marital bliss and happiness, it’s a realistic view that we are created for paradise, yet we live in a fallen world, and so the journey isn’t guaranteed to be wonderful or pain free.

This year, I planned ice breakers and games for our church’s moms group. One of our lessons was on marriage and I was a little stumped in planning a game to correspond with this theme, but had a voice in my head saying, “call Chris.” I called Chris, who told me she had been in the process of calling me, too. (At this point, I knew it was a God thing!). She had the game idea—having everyone draw a question and share positively about their husbands. I’m attaching the list in case anyone else can use it.

What is your spouse especially good at?
What did you do on your 1st date with your husband?
What is the 1st movie you watched together with your husband?
What did you eat on your first date with your husband?
What did you wear on your first date with your husband?
What initially attracted you to your husband?
Describe the first time you decided you really liked your husband—was it love at first sight?
What is your husband’s favorite dessert?
What is your husband’s favorite food item to order at a restaurant?
What is your favorite date to go on with your husband?
What song was sung at your wedding?
What type of flowers did you have at your wedding?
What was your wedding color/the color of your bridesmaids’ dresses?
Describe your bridal gown
What was the most embarrassing thing that happened at your wedding?
What were your new, old, borrowed or blue items (that you can recall)?
How did your husband propose to you?
Did you ever read a book together? Which one?
What TV show(s) do you like to watch together?
What is your husband’s favorite food?
What is your husband’s favorite restaurant?
Would your husband prefer chocolate chip cookies or brownies?
What is your husband’s favorite pie flavor?
Where did you go on your honeymoon?
What is your husband’s favorite thing to cook?
What is the most romantic thing your husband has ever done for you?
What was your favorite vacation with your husband?
What do you like to do together with your husband for fun?
What is your husband’s love language (words of affirmation, quality time, receiving gifts, acts of service or physical touch)
What is your husband’s favorite hobby?
What is your husband’s favorite style of music or favorite group/artist?
What is your husband’s dream job?
What is your husband’s favorite "comfort food"?
What is your husband's favorite color?
What was the last book your husband read?

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Kindergarten choice "revealed"

So, I went through the Kindergarten selection craziness—visiting nine schools and additional preschools. I was a bit preoccupied by the whole thing—our designated public school frightened me, yet I am a product of public schools and felt as a taxpayer they should work. I had narrowed it down to three options and was planning to apply to two public schools in hopes that one could take Eli. Plan C was Norfolk Christian—attached to our church, triply accredited, but with a cost. (I might add that my husband had told me from the beginning not to worry about the money aspect, but the coupon queen and garage sale bargainista in me couldn’t handle the thought of paying out).

As I was explaining my preoccupation with this process, a Bible Study leader asked me, “Have you prayed about it?” I answered quickly and a bit defensively, “well, yes.” Of course, I’d prayed general prayers over the situation, but in my quick answer, something didn’t feel right. I recognized I had not asked God what He wanted me to do. It took me a few days to figure out why I was holding back. Sunday morning as I was getting ready for church, it became clear. I was afraid God would want us to pay for schooling for Eli, and I didn’t want to ask the question because I didn’t want to hear the answer. This exposed my root unbelief of God as provider. Right away it clicked with me, God is my provider (Jehovah Jireh), and He can afford his own plans, so I might as well be open to know them and trust Him.

That Sunday morning the pastor preached about Abraham’s faith—Abraham is noted for readily obeying God even when it didn’t make sense. During the sermon, the pastor also mentioned the faith involved with building our church and Norfolk Christian School which he said is now a top Christian school. This was news to me and I wondered if God was using the pastor to tell me something.

Then Monday night, I was in a small group and we were discussing the kindergarten dilemma and our leader mentioned that Norfolk Christian was excellent and really the ideal choice for school if it is a financial option.

That night, I was involved in a conversation in a dream where I was told Norfolk Christian. I argued a little bit and felt kind of put in my place and, while not frightened, I got the impression that I didn’t want to disobey.

Tuesday morning I was wondering whether I was just crazy or if God was speaking to me through the dream. He has been known to do that, but I couldn’t remember it happening to me before. Before lunch, I met up with a friend who is also going through the kindergarten selection process; we got together to exchange notes on our findings. I told her about how things were not going the way I’d planned; it was looking like God was pointing me to Norfolk Christian and had even had a very direct dream about it that I didn’t know quite how to take. One of the things she said was perhaps I should call or visit the school to get all of my questions resolved . . .

About two hours later, THE PRINCIPAL OF THE SCHOOL CALLED ME!! I had visited their open house a few weeks back so she was calling (on this particular day) to follow up. It was sure looking like God was trying to get a message through to me, but I was still a bit reluctant to accept it.

Wednesday morning, I ran a quick errand before Bible Study at 9:30. As I was returning, I found myself right behind a Norfolk Christian school bus (and I’d never even noticed their buses before). Anyway, I felt like a character in that routine, “here’s your sign”—there it was, smack dab in front of my face. Okay, I finally succumbed, and was laughing and crying at the same time how this had been orchestrated for my benefit.

I had lunch with my husband, Jason, and was explaining to Him all of these things and how I was feeling led that way. I wasn’t sure if he was going to say I was crazy for seeing God’s hand in all of these things. He suggested I just step out in faith and destroy the other applications and get working on the one for Norfolk Christian. He asked why I was continuing to try to doubt the message and what I was going to do next. I told him find a cave (or maybe the basement would do) or perhaps I could follow in Jonah’s footsteps and find a ship to take me away from Norfolk. He reminded me that that hadn’t work out so well . . . Anyway, I started on the application.

Over the next few weeks, I began asking God, “what about Ava?” (my younger daughter). I explored many, many preschool options, but none were working out for many reasons including geography, start times, and waiting lists. It didn’t make sense that God would have a great plan for Eli but not for Ava since He knows everything and could have anticipated this problem. I’ve heard that when God remembers, it isn’t that He has forgotten, it’s that he springs into action. Well, I found out a couple weeks ago that Norfolk Christian had just decided to expand their preschool program for Ava’s age group! It is exactly what we needed, and the geography and start times are perfect! He remembered!

Just got an e-mail today that they’ve both been accepted!

I found out where the Norfolk Christian buses are stashed and got a picture of the sign on the back of the bus.