Thursday, January 31, 2013

Connect with LeAnn Kitchen

RUBY: Share a favorite Bible verse and/or inspirational song, and why this is a favorite.
LeAnn: The song that is speaking to me right now is “Invade” by Watermark. It inspires me to keep my heart AND home open to the Holy Spirit. As a mother, I find it important to make sure my children know Jesus is a part of our life. The chorus from the song goes like this:

Jesus, come and walk the halls of this house
Tread this place and turn it inside out
With your mercy…
Jesus, teach us the prayers that open these doors
Until Your light floods in and illuminates these floors
And let Your truth be on our steps and in these rooms
Jesus invade…

RUBY: I cannot thank you enough for agreeing to help me coach Upward cheerleading; no twisting of your arm necessary. Tell us more about your connection to Troy UMC and/or the community.
LeAnn: We were first introduced to the TUMC church family in 2009 when my oldest started preschool at the 1st Step Learning Center. My middle daughter currently attends, and my youngest will start in the fall. Even though we do not attend TUMC, we have felt welcomed and loved by its members. My older two girls have attended Vacation Bible School there and currently participate in the Upward cheer program. I am enjoying the opportunity to help coach one of the cheer squads!

Our family loves the Troy, IL, community and we have found it so easy to get involved. This year, I took over the responsibility of leading my oldest daughter’s Daisy Scout troop. I also love participating in the Community Helpings Coop program and sharing recipes on its Facebook page. And, when I can manage, I enjoy getting up to the elementary school to help with class parties and PTO events.

RUBY: Tell us about your family.
LeAnn: My husband, Kris, and I met while attending engineering school in Rolla, Missouri. After a few moves, we finally settled in Troy. Our oldest daughter, Kaylee, is in first grade at Henning Elementary. Megan, our second daughter, is in one of the “fours” classes at 1st Step Learning Center. Our youngest daughter, Kendall, just turned two this past November. Kris and I are getting pretty used to the comment “Oh, wow, THREE girls?!?!” Kris is blessed with a wonderful job for a copper extrusion company south of Belleville, providing me with the opportunity to stay at home. Going from Mechanical Engineer to stay-at-home mother was a drastic change, but one I have never regretted making!

RUBY: What kind of business would you love to start if the sky were the limit?
LeAnn: I would love to be a private lactation consultant. Breastfeeding my girls was an experience I will treasure for the rest of my life. If it wasn’t for the support of a few wonderful ladies and a great lactation consultant, I do not know if I would have made it through some of the challenges of nursing a baby. I would love to be able to help new mothers succeed with nursing.

RUBY: What did you eat for lunch?
LeAnn: Salad

RUBY: What was your favorite childhood game, and why?
LeAnn: The kids in my neighborhood growing up would often play tag after it got dark. It was a lot of fun!

RUBY: What is your greatest fear?
LeAnn: Outside of the fear of something happening to my family, my greatest fear is losing my memory.

RUBY: Which moment from your life would you choose to relive if you could?
LeAnn: This is a tough one! There are the obvious moments like Kris proposing, my dad walking me down the aisle, or holding each of my girls for the first time. However, while recently reading some scripture, I was inspired to reflect back on my own baptism. I really have no memory of that day (I was eight years old), and my parents seem to have misplaced any pictures or home videos. I would love to relive the experience just to be able to remember how I felt that day.

RUBY: How may we contact you in order to make a further connection?
LeAnn: You can follow me on my blog Kitchen’s Treasures: The blog has links to Twitter and Facebook as well.

RUBY: Tell us about your blog, Kitchen's Treasures.
LeAnn: My blog is based on the scripture Luke 12:34 – For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

This scripture passage comes at the very end of a section of Luke that the NIV titles "Do Not Worry.” I know for me, it is easier said than done. I have heard it is a mother's job to worry. And, while it is true that mothers have taken on one of the most important jobs, we need to realize we are not alone. Through God and fellowship with other mothers, we can reduce our worry.

I hope that by sharing my thoughts on motherhood, marriage, and my life, I can help lessen the amount of time myself and my readers spend worrying and increase the amount of time we spend "treasuring.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Liz Curtis Higgs' The Girl's Still Got It Book Club

Never in a million years would I have thought an in-depth line by line study of a book of the Bible would be so intriguing, suspenseful, romantic, and inspiring.  Yet, Liz Curtis Higgs' manages this feat and then some in her work of nonfiction, The Girl's Still Got It.  I looked forward to dental appointments with glee, dance classes with anticipation, and children's bedtimes with relief so that I could steal some time alone with this work of writing.  Having read the book of Ruth before, this time I was awakened to the richness of the language, precise word choices, and the eloquence of simple storytelling.  Calling the hub at work, I recited Biblical verses with endearing emphasis, "I will do for you all you ask,"  (Ruth 3:11), and "Spread the corner of your garment over me . . ."  (Ruth 3:9).  Writing a sweet nothing in his valentine this year is going to be, figuratively speaking, a piece of cake due to Higgs' influence.  In addition to making Ruth's story relevant in the 21st century through down-to-earth explanation, Higgs' also concludes each chapter with a blurb from a present-day woman who relates her own story to that of Ruth. 
For the purposes of book club, one may take a cue from Ruth 1:6, "When she had heard in Moab that the Lord had come to the aid of his people by providing food for them . . ."  In Higgs' explication, the reader learns ". . .  the people of Judah are discovering plump grapes on the vines, clusters of olives nestled in the trees . . ." (29).  Thus, it makes sense to offer both red and green grapes during discussion as well as a variety of olives- pitted, stuffed, marinated, etc.- in order to reenact the bounty the people of Judah were discovering at the time.  While munching, discussion may be facilitated by Higgs generous offering of discussion questions for the purposes of book club as well as more detailed questions for a more frequent atmosphere of book study.  In addition, in lieu of a verbal lashing of the male protagonist, embrace your inner Cupids and share your own personal Boaz stories with one another as a finale to discussion.

Join Eat, Read, Pray 2/6 at 7:30 p.m. in The Oak Room at Troy UMC for discussion.  Questions?

Courtney Winkler

Connect with Emily Rose Massey

RUBY: Tell us about your connection to Troy UMC.
Emily: Well, I first came to Troy UMC in 2002 with my youth group for the Fire-Up Conference. I gave my heart to the Lord that weekend and my life was forever marked by God. I came back with my youth group every year after that. That conference fueled my life in high school and something in me changed every time. I was very grateful to be asked to minister at Troy UMC a couple weeks ago. It had been 10 years since I had been there, so it was a very special time for me because it was where my journey began with the Lord.

RUBY: Share a favorite Bible verse and/or inspirational song, and why this is a favorite.
Emily: The very first verse in the Bible that I memorized was Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
This is something that I declare constantly because it reminds me that I don’t have to struggle on my own in life; that I am an over-comer because of the One who lives inside me. Jesus is my strength. No matter what I am going through, I know that I can always lean on God and He will help me get through to the other side. The Bible also says that the Lord is made perfect in our weakness, which means He loves it when we admit we can’t do it on our own and we fully depend upon Him. I am a perfectionist and sometimes I struggle with giving God control in all areas of my life. But we weren’t made to go through life trying to achieve everything on our own. Eventually, because we are human, we will get burnt out, stressed, and exhausted. Jesus’ yoke is easy and His burden is light. He just asks us to come to Him and He will help us carry the heavy load that can weigh us down in life. Any song that talks about the topic of surrendering our life to God is probably one of my favorites. There is a song called “I Surrender” by Kim Walker-Smith that I have been listening to recently during my prayer time. The chorus is: “All to You, I surrender everything, every part of me. All to You, I surrender all of my dreams, all of me.” That is beautiful to God’s ears when we say that to Him.

RUBY: I thoroughly enjoyed your testimony and singing. You inspired me to think of my own Jesus backstory. Thank you for sharing your story and your talents with us. Which songs did you sing?
Emily: Thank you very much! I’m so happy that I was able to minister and share my story with everyone. I sang “Breathe” by Marie Barnett. An oldie, but a goodie, I say. It was written in 1995, but it was a special song to me in high school because I first heard it at Chrysalis, a Christian retreat for high school students in 2002.
The other song that I sang was “How He Loves” by John Mark McMillan. The lyrics of this song deeply move me because it speaks of God’s amazing love for us. The first few words are so powerful: “He is jealous for me...” Some people don’t fully understand what that actually means. It doesn’t mean that God is jealous of us and doesn’t want us to be happy. When the Bible declares that God is a jealous God it means He wants our whole heart completely devoted to Him because He just loves being with us. He doesn’t want us to put our hope or trust in anything or anyone else but Him because He will never fail us. He created us to walk with Him and be His family. He understands that we can’t spend every waking moment with Him, but when we can spend time with Him, He enjoys it so much! Why? Because He loves us and loves being around us! This is definitely a message our world needs to know.

RUBY: Tell us about your family.
Emily: I met my husband Paul in 2008, shortly after I graduated college. I started attending a church with my family in Fenton, MO, which is where Paul had spent his entire life. I had plans to move to LA by 2009 to pursue a career as an actress, but those plans quickly changed when I met Paul. I like to say God had other plans that were way better than mine! Instead of moving to LA, I moved to St. Louis and Paul and I got married in December 2009. He truly is my best friend and I can’t imagine my life without him. We just make a great team in all that we do. We get the privilege of running in ministry together at our home church on the worship team where I sing and he plays bass. We are also the leaders of our church’s young adult group. He and I take turns teaching and I help leading worship. We will hopefully be buying our first home in the fall and eventually begin our family. We both cannot wait to have children! But for now, we are enjoying this season of our life just the two of us serving God with all that is within us.

RUBY: What is your favorite meal?
Emily: I enjoy any kind of pasta dish. Italian food is definitely my favorite.

RUBY: Which moment from your life would you choose to relive if you could?
Emily: I was thinking about approaching this question as something that I would like to “do-over” again, but I don’t live my life with regrets. I believe that everything that has happened in my life has made me who I am today and has made me stronger. But if I could relive a moment that just brought me so much joy, that would be my first date with my husband. We spent 10 hours together that day just talking and laughing. It was so long that we had to eat twice! LOL It is a moment that I cherish dearly and can’t wait to tell our children about it one day.

RUBY: Where do you create?
Emily: One day, when we have a house, I will have my own special room for prayer, writing, music, and other artsy stuff, but for now in our tiny, 1 bedroom apartment, I actually get a lot of my ideas in the bathroom when I’m getting ready in the morning. I love listening to music when I’m by myself and that helps with the creative mindset I think. I am a songwriter so I’m always listening to music. I also enjoy listening to music when I blog or journal. Writing has always been a passion of mine ever since I was very little.

RUBY: What are you reading now?
Emily: I just finished a book by Bob Sorge called “The Secrets of the Secret Place.” One of my goals for 2013 is to read at least one book a month, so for this book, I actually mapped it out to where I could read it over the course of the month and take it much slower and let everything really sink deep in my heart. I like to read books that will help me go deeper in my relationship with God. This book was definitely that. My next book that I will start in February is called “Abide in Christ” by Andrew Murray.

RUBY: What is your greatest accomplishment?
Emily: My husband and I somehow managed to get ourselves in about $15,000 of credit card debt in 3 years. The Bible says, “Little foxes spoil the vine.” And it’s true. Just spending a little bit here and there can really catch up to you if you aren’t paying attention to it. We had some major financial things hit us too, which didn’t help matters either. But in August 2011 we felt like we couldn’t handle the pressure any longer. We started to read “Total Money Makeover” by Dave Ramsey. Some friends of ours got us the book as a wedding gift and it just sat on our bookshelf for 2 years. But that book, along with the Bible, helped us out a ton! It takes a lot of discipline and patience to get out of debt. Paul took on 2 jobs and we didn’t see much of each other for over a year. We sold certain things that we didn’t think we needed anymore and even sold my paid off car to help take care of a majority of the debt. We didn’t eat out as much and learned how to live on less than we had before. Within 15 months, we paid off our very last credit card. The weight had finally been lifted! We would have never been able to do it on our own. The Lord definitely blessed us constantly, but He also used this to teach us a lesson discipline and hard work. But it is possible!

RUBY: How may we contact you in order to make a further connection?
Emily: You can find me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Just search for Emily Rose Massey. You can also check out my website,, for my schedule, full testimony, and links to my blog and email.

God bless!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Daily Wisdom

Prayer is not an argument with God to persuade him to move things our
Way, but an exercise by which we are enabled by his Spirit to move
Ourselves his way.

~Leonard Ravenhill~
Submitted by Carol Pigg

Friday, January 25, 2013

My Jesus Backstory

Listening to Emily Rose Massey's testimonial and singing this past Sunday brought tears to my eyes and made me consider my own Jesus backstory, past events which led me to my current state of worship.
As an adult, my mother has told me she urged our reverend, that guy who always wore that black dress, to offer a Sunday school class for 3s, children my age at the time.  He welcomed the idea and asked her if she'd be interested in leading the class.  She agreed, and, thus, my first Sunday school experience was conceived although I have no recollection of it.
I do remember my father leading what I believe was the sixth-grade Sunday school class at the time.  His class was to light the candles during one Christmas Eve service.  A student, attempting to maneuver the small flame on a long golden handle knocked a lit candle from its perch at the end of the pew right onto the head of a balding man.  This is what I remember.
When my parents divorced for the second time when I was 8, my Jesus backstory fell at the hands of others.  I attended Sunday school with a dear childhood friend and her family if I was having a sleepover at her house, even though we feigned sleep when her mother opened her door in the morning hoping we would not have to go.  Occasionally I was a drop-at-the-door Sunday school attendee and looked for my father's car at the church entrance an hour later where he would be waiting for me.
After four elementary schools in three grade-school years, my parents must have come to the consensus that I would attend a parochial school in the city my mother was then living.  Each student had her own Bible, and we read aloud from it daily after recess.  We had daily Bible verses to memorize, and I can still remember my first, "The heavens are telling the glory of God while the firmament proclaims his handiwork"  (Psalm 19:1) which I struggled with the night before it was due.  I learned The Apostle's Creed, The Small Catechism, and The Lord's Prayer.  Daily religious studies were part of the curriculum, and I remember loving every minute of it.  A yearly religious musical was performed, and this is how to this day I know Methuselah lived to be 969 . . .  "960, 960, 969 . . . 969 is a might long time!"  Extracurricular religious opportunities were encouraged, so I tried out for Joyful Noise, the children's choir, and sang to my heart's content off-key once a month on Sunday mornings at the church connected to my school.  My mother whom I was living with at the time once attended a service in which I was singing, but didn't return because she said she didn't understand the service, so I was dropped-at-the-door on following singing Sundays.  When confirmation studies began at my school, I wanted to join our school church along with my classmates.  My mother disagreed, said we weren't Lutheran, and sent me to confirmation classes when I was visiting my father where I was dropped-at-the-door.
For high school, my parents decided I should live with my father and my stepmother.  A few times I attended church with my high school boyfriend; otherwise, church was absent from my life for those years and beyond.  I didn't experience ski trips like my sister had with her youth group, but I did attend a lock-in at my friend's Catholic church, and I remember yearning for more of this type of experience.
Into adulthood, I finally took matters into my own hands.  I attended a Christian church at my friend's urging in my early 30s and enjoyed the way it felt as if the pastor was actually talking with me.  Relocating to another part of the state with my husband, we tried a service here and there, and I would attend the weekly service at the local college when my teaching schedule allowed.  I was hungry for more, though.  When a religious friend would come and visit, I would quiz her repeatedly on belief, faith, church, etc. and always wanted to learn more, more, more from her.
As a mother, though, I knew I wanted a solid foundation of Jesus Christ for my children, and I knew the best way to provide this is with modeling my own faith.  My family and I now have a church we consider home filled with women, men, and children blessings and a pastor who allows me to squeeze on him along with numerous learning, growing, and ministry opportunities.  Although an inconsistent ride along the way, what matters is the here and now, and for me, the Jesus Backstory my girls will be able to share one day.

Courtney Winkler

Daily Wisdom

There is nothing more important in any life than the constantly enjoyed
Presence of the Lord. There is nothing more vital, for without it we
Shall make mistakes, and without it we shall be defeated.

~Alan Redpath~
Submitted by Carol Pigg

Thursday, January 17, 2013

J.W. Bull's Pickin' Tomatoes Book Club

Claiming 1st Prize in the 2012 Shirley You Jest Fiction Book Awards, J.W. Bull's Pickin' Tomatoes was ripe for review.  Deemed a romantic comedy, I found there was so much more to be found in the pages of this novel. . . self-discovery, overcoming loss, and the necessity of genuine friendship.
Not only was a smile spread across my face as I sat reading during my daughters' dance class, but tears flowed, too, during a young protagonist's dialogue with her mother, losing a battle with breast cancer:

"Momma?  You don't feel so good?"  I whispered as I peeked from behind Daddy's legs.  The hospital was a scary place with weird smells and lots of whiteness.  Where were all the colors?  Momma stretched out her hand to me.  I crept around Daddy and put my hand in hers.  It felt dry and warm.  "Sometimes even mommies get sick, Maggie,"  she replied in a voice that didn't sound like her.  (Loc 548 of 3590 Kindle) 

as well as a first-time pregnant woman at the deathbed of her father:

For a time, we stayed like that, curled up in the hospital bed together.  Joined by memories and hearts.  Until I felt his body begin to relax and his eyes closed.
And he went home to Momma.  (Loc 1477 of 3590 Kindle)

Thus, the anecdotes sprinkled throughout such as:  "Finding Mister Right is like washing dishes.  Just when you think he's squeaky clean- bam!  You find dried up, crusty old egg on him"  (Loc 42 of 3590 Kindle) kept the pace of this work moving right along.  In addition to the various literacy elements interspersed throughout, J.W. Bull offers the reader easy-to-decipher, mouthwatering recipes sure to please any food lover.
So, for the purposes of book club, assign one recipe found at the back of Pickin' Tomatoes to each bookie.  This way everyone has a chance to sample each delicacy written about and compare ease of execution with the main character, Maggie Malone.  Food for the mind and body. . .  Pickin' Tomatoes is a win win! 

Courtney Winkler

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Faithful Fitness Fellowship

Is this the year you are going to take better care of yourself? Your mind, your body, and your spirit? Do you need someone to hold you accountable? Or to share your progress with?

Beth Miramonti will meet with this group
once a month on Wed evenings at 7:30 p.m. in
room 150 beginning January 23. Then on
third Wednesdays—2/20, 3/20, 4/17, 5/15.

You may contact Beth at with any questions.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Daily Wisdom

Faith does not look within; it looks without.
  It is not what I think, nor what I feel, nor what I have done,
      But it is what Jesus Christ is and has done.
And so we should trust in Him who is our strength, and whose strength will never fail.

~D L Moody~
Submitted by Carol Pigg

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Daily Wisdom

"If God wants you to do something, He'll make it possible for you to do it, but the grace He provides comes only with the task and cannot be stockpiled beforehand.
We are dependent on Him from hour to hour, and the greater our awareness of this fact,
the less likely we are to faint or fail in a crisis."

~Louis Cassels~ 
Submitted by Carol Pigg 

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Secret Santa Sister Surprises

This year I signed up for the Secret Santa Sister program at church because, you see, I love secrets and surprises, even the ones where the home pregnancy test dot changes color. Thank you, Lord, for Rebecca!
I was so excited! I had dozens of ideas of how I might surprise my designated sister . . . crazy and creative schemes to shower her with love and encouragement. I thought about renting a skywriting airplane, putting an ad in the classified section, staging a flash mob, getting a tattoo, asking the mayor to declare a day in her honor, having a flag flown over the capitol, naming a star after her, writing a song, and you get the idea, generally broad siding her with gee-whiz moments. Well, you know what happened?! The holidays happened. There were tangled lights and cold-tingled limbs; stocking stuffers and stuffing myself into stockings; dropping needles and gaining weight; carpal tunnel Christmas card-itis; parties, lunches, teas, and cocktails, dinners, balls, desserts, and brunches; Silent Night and loud malls, angels harking and dogs barking; board games and bored games; losing the tape, finding the scissors, finding the tape, losing the scissors, losing my mind, finding Nemo. Jesus got lost in the shuffle, somewhere between aisle two and ladies’ lingerie, and so did my Secret Sister. Oh, yeah, I managed to mail a few items, write a few notes, and sneak a few packages on her front porch, but I had planned oh so much more. It was my goal to bombard her, slather her, dunk her, plaster her, impress upon her, undergird her, surround her, and astound her with the love and grace of God through Christ Jesus. Since I failed to carry out my mission the first time around, let me tell you, Secret Santa Sister, what I would give to you if I could.
I would give you peace . . . not world peace, though that would be awesome, or whirled peas, though they would be healthy, but God’s peace, the peace that passes all understanding. It has the power to penetrate and overtake every ounce of our being and to smooth out and assuage every ragged emotion that is part of our human condition. It is the balm of Gilead, not sold at Bath and Body Works, and it does, indeed, make the wounded whole. It is found in Jesus Christ, our Lord.
I would give you hope, the hope that is spelled out in Jeremiah 29:11 . . . the Lord’s plans to “prosper you and not to harm you, to give you hope and a future.” This kind of hope provides sure footing for our life journey and a spring in our step that far exceeds anything that a little pink pill can do. It opens wide our eyes to the friends who accompany us, the joys that bloom along our path, and the secure knowledge that we have a Divine purpose in our walk. Above all, hope is the assurance of eternal life in the very presence of our Creator God. It is found in Jesus Christ, our Lord.
I would give you faith -- unshakeable, rock solid, unwavering, unswerving, steadfast, Gorilla-glue-like faith. Yep, I would give you a little chunk of genuine faith, about the size of a mustard seed, because that is all you need to see you through the storms of life. I would give you the will to do faith work-outs, sorta like Zumba class and water aerobics, but not exactly. That is, I would encourage you to grow your faith muscle by regularly exercising it through the practice of the Spiritual disciplines (you’ll have to read up on those). Invite the Holy Spirit to be your faith fitness coach and boom, the faith you need to move mountains will be yours. It is found in Jesus Christ, our Lord.
I would give you grace or, as the definition says, “God’s unmerited favor.” In other words, I would give you the knowledge that you were, are, will be . . . in every tense . . . forgiven! I would also give you the mercy and goodness you need to extend that forgiveness to others – radical, extravagant, other-worldly forgiveness, because that’s what God offers us, self-centered creeps that we are. This kind of grace and forgiveness was made possible through the sacrifice of God’s only Son. It is found in Jesus Christ, our Lord.
I would give you love, in all its many forms: storge or affectionate love; philia or friendship love; eros or romantic love (We gotta keep those home fires burning!); and agape or unconditional love. Agape love is found you know where. It is found in Jesus Christ, our Lord.
Oh, dear Secret Sister, on top of all that, I would also give you a diamond bracelet; a cruise to a Caribbean resort; a life-time’s worth of his and her massages; a personal chef, tailor, gardener, hairdresser, and housekeeper; a Mary Poppins babysitter at your command; every New York Times best-seller; a membership in the Chocolate of the Month Club; and a super sweet red convertible.
I would also give you good health, a bevy of wild and crazy girlfriends, and laughter, laughter, laughter. It is, without a doubt, the best medicine, unless your pelvic floor muscles are weak.
Finally, I would give you the answer to your question: “Who is my Secret Santa Sister?” Your secret sister is me! I love you, Courtney, and will continue to pray that peace, hope, faith, grace, love, health, girlfriends and laughter are yours, through Jesus Christ, our Lord. As for the rest, well, you’re on your own! When do you want to do lunch?
Sue Busler

Thursday, January 10, 2013

You Can Never . . .

Marriage on my mind today.  
Also the lyrics to the song Who You Are by Unspoken.

"I know that look you're givin' like you got something to prove
'Cause I have walked for miles and miles in that same pair of shoes
You refuse forgiveness like it's something to be earned
But sometimes pain's the only way that we can learn

You can never fall too hard, so fast, so far
That you can't get back when you lost where you are
It's never too late so bad
So much that you can't change who you are

You believe in freedom, but you don't know how to choose
You gotta step out of your feelings that you're so afraid to lose
Everyday, yeah, you put your feet on the floor
You gotta walk through the door, it's never gonna be easy
But it's all worth fighting for

You can never fall too hard, so fast, so far
That you can't get back when you lost where you are
It's never too late so bad
So much that you can't change who you are

So let the ashes fall wherever they land
Come back from wherever you've been
To the foot of the cross to the feet of Jesus
The feet of Jesus"

Tonight as I lay here talking to my husband about friends of ours that are having a really bad time in their marriage, I am thankful for the times that almost destroyed our marriage. NEVER thought I'd see myself typing THOSE words!

SO much has changed since then. It's so humbling to look back and think of what our marriage would be like if we hadn't committed to fighting through those hard times and fighting for our marriage and our girls. In fact, our 2-year-old would not even exist if we had decided to give up and get out! And she is such a sweet blessing! Our girls needed their Mommy and Daddy to work on our marriage. It wasn't easy. It still isn't easy. But we love and understand each other more now than ever before. We have walked through some deep dark valleys, but God has given us the victory and we have come out on the other side! I know there are a lot of people struggling in their marriages right now. It's never too late for God to work a miracle in your marriage!  If you are in a deep dark valley, DON'T GIVE UP AND GET OUT!!! GOD WILL GIVE YOU THE VICTORY AND YOU WILL COME OUT ON THE OTHER SIDE!!

Lisa Powell

Wednesday, January 9, 2013


My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:  And I give unto them eternal life;  and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.  - John 10:27-28

Literally five minutes ago, I was in my bathroom in front of the mirror in a state of euphoria.  After repeated failed attempts, that stiff, rather pesky chin hair peeking out from the pore of my skin was plucked with my tried-and-true tweezers.  Victory!
Unfortunately, this chin hair and I have a rather tumultuous history.  Thinking back, I would have to say it all began with puberty.  At my mother's urging, I went to see an electrologist while visiting her one summer.  "Your facial hair comes from your Portuguese ancestry," I can remember her saying, "You'll thank me one day."  Not knowing what to expect and not having a choice, I went and met the nicest woman with not one discernible trace of facial hair.  She placed a cool cloth over my eyes followed by goggles and then turned on what sounded like a bug zapper followed by words of reassurance, "This might sting a bit."
Aaaaaah!  My hands clenched into fists, and my toes curled.  When she asked if I was all right, I didn't know what else to say but, "Uh huh."  I didn't want to hurt her feelings.  Imagine a needle being placed into each of your pores which shoots a burst of heat and then someone pulling each of your hairs with a tweezer.  Well, I didn't imagine it;  I only just lived to tell about it.  The pain was excruciating and as a teen, I'm positive I barely survived.  The ice cube being rubbed over my chin after the procedure didn't do a whole lot except intensify the redness of my skin and prolong my agony.  Embarrassed beyond belief, I walked out of the electrologist's office looking away from patients in the waiting room hoping no one would see me.
Nonetheless, what I believed to be the end of any chin hair battle turned out to be mere foreshadowing . . . enter pregnancy.  My chin hair and I were reunited in what now appears to be everlasting llllllllllloathing.  This chin hair is determined to see the light of day while I remain consistent in quashing her dreams.  My plan of defense these days is Old Faithful, my tweezers.
Tonight after revelling in my triumph, the term pluck truly stuck in my thoughts and reminded me of the above Bible verses, John 10:27-28.  It's amazing how God is always there and may even sneak up on us when we least expect it . . . even when plucking that pesky hair.  What's comforting, though, is the ideal that my faith protects me from being metaphorically plucked from God's proverbial chin.  Amen!

Courtney Winkler 

Tuesday, January 8, 2013


Let.It.Go. How to stop running the show and start walking in faith by Karen Ehman, Director of Proverbs 31 Ministries.  Many women are wired to control. 
You are the ones who make certain the house is clean, the meals are prepared, the beds are made, children dressed, and everyone gets to school or work and to other activities on time. But trying to control everything can be exhausting, and it can cause friction with your friends and family. 
This humorous, but thought-provoking book and study guides you as you discover for yourself the freedom and reward of living a life "out of control" in which you allow God to be seated in the rightful place in your life. 
This study is six weeks with short video, group discussion, and in-between session personal study.
Study begins January 9th at Troy United Methodist Church beginning at 7:30 p.m.  Questions?  E-mail Julie at 

Eat, Read, Pray Book Club

ALL welcome!  Come for any or all discussions.  Book selections are available from for a nominal feeLight snack provided!

1/16- The Vow by Kim and Krickitt Carpenter with Dana Wilkerson

2/6- The Girls Still Got It by Liz Curtis Higgs

3/6- Wonderstruck by Margaret Feinberg

4/3- The Covenant by Beverly Lewis

5/1-Twelve Extraordinary Women by John MacArthur

Join us at 7:30 p.m. in The Oak Room at Troy United Methodist Church on the above dates.  If you have any questions, please contact Courtney at

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Daily Wisdom

To be filled with the Spirit is to have the Spirit fulfilling in us all
that God intended Him to do when He placed Him there.
To be filled is not the problem of getting more of the Spirit;
it is rather the problem of the Spirit getting more of us.

~Lewis Sperry Chafer~
Submitted by Carol Pigg

Friday, January 4, 2013

Connect with Carolyn Biagi

RUBY:  How long have you attended Troy United Methodist Church?
Carolyn:  Approx. 11 years.  I remember attending a Palm Sunday service as a pregnant lady just before my son was born on Easter Sunday that year.  (April 15th, 2011 – yes, ironically, also tax day)

RUBY:  What drew you to this church?
Carolyn:  My cousin was attending this church at the time.  We were searching for a church since we had just moved to this area.  The people were nice & there were lots of kids my daughter’s age.  I also enjoy the music.

RUBY:  Which service do you typically attend?
Carolyn:  9am – Most Sundays my husband Mark runs either lyrics or lights for the Tech Team. 

RUBY:  Share a favorite Bible verse and/or inspirational song, and why this is a favorite.
Carolyn:  I enjoy reading the book of Ecclesiastes when I need some perspective.  It can be related to the current times and help us realize that all on this earth is futile.  My favorite is chapter 3 verses 1 -12.  It talks about there being a time to weep and a time for joy.  Basically a time for everything under heaven.  But in verse 12 it says, “So I concluded there is nothing better than to be happy and enjoy ourselves as long as we can.”  Mandissa has turned it into a great song called “He  Is With You.”

  Tell us about your involvement at Troy UMC and/or the community.
Carolyn:  I currently sing in the Praise Band on a rotating schedule and have recently started singing in the Chancel Choir for the Christmas program & the 10 am service.

  I heard you recently started a new job.  Congratulations!  Tell us about it.
Carolyn:  I have been a CPA for the last 17 years.  I enjoy doing taxes for other people and helping them manage their finances better.  My new job is with a small CPA firm in St. Louis on the 20th floor of the Sevens building.  It has a great view of downtown & the Arch!

RUBY:  Tell us about your family.
Carolyn:  I have been married to my wonderful husband, Mark, for 17 ½ years.  We have a 13-year-old daughter named Jenna and an 11-year-old son named Tyler (TJ).  We enjoy playing video games and board games and going to the movies as a family.  Jenna is into musical theater, playing the clarinet & piano and singing in school choir and the Praise Band Jr.  TJ enjoys playing football and baseball and playing video games as much as possible.    


RUBY:  What is your favorite smell?
Carolyn:  My favorite time of the year is Fall, and during that time I love to smell burning leaves.  It reminds me of growing up in a small town.

RUBY:  What is your favorite hobby?
Carolyn:  My husband says I have a lot of hobbies.  But I think I just enjoy trying new things.  I really enjoy going away for a girls’ weekend to scrapbook memories of my family.

RUBY:  How may we contact you in order to make a further connection?
Carolyn:  I get emails on my cell phone, so either email or call me. 
Email address: (yes, my husband is a computer guy) 
Cell phone:  618.973.1713

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

God told me today . . .

“Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 3:13-14 (ESV)

Just as Paul wrote to fellow Christians back in his day, I write to you. I am by NO means an expert; I make mistakes, miss deadlines and fail at times. Today is a brand new day, a new start, a do-over. Move on from what did not work yesterday, last week last year. Start today and give Him your best self.
I believe strongly that my body is God’s temple, that if I have invited Jesus into my heart, I had better get that guest room up to the standards He deserves.
As many of you know I having been working on my weight, but you may not know exactly how. I want to share with you what’s going on with a little project I call Faithful Fitness Friends. FF started last January and has continued throughout 2012. After much prayer and consideration, I felt the need to share what God has been doing through me with others. I started an on-line Facebook group and asked permission to meet at the church for group workout sessions. We competed in 3 5Ks last year and a couple plank challenges. We want to do that and more this year, and we want you to do it too!

Our Facebook Group is a private group where I attempt to share information daily about what it means to live wholly Holy, in mind body and spirit; encouraging support, accountability and community. We would like to meet face to face, possibly once a month, at the church for the same type of sharing. We are looking into times and spaces available.
For the workouts, we have been using videos by Leslie Sansone, Michelle Spadafora, Brooke Boone. Sessions last 30-45 minutes depending on the video and the amount of energy we can work up together! We are beginning this year with morning sessions @ 5:15 am in the upper Youth area on Tuesdays and Thursdays. There are evening sessions being considered once again for Monday or Tuesday nights. Also, I can workout @ 7am on Saturdays. If these times and dates don’t work for you, PLEASE speak up and let us know what will. I want to find a place and people to join you on your journey!
I do not believe in diets, fads and quick fixes; I’m learning the benefits of healthy eating, regular exercise and prayer. With God’s strength and support, I have managed to lose over 50 pounds, probably closer to 75! I feel better than I have in years and am able to do things I have never done before. I invite you to join me and others as we attempt to stay Faithfully Fit in 2013!

Please contact me at

Beth Miramonti

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Dannette's Devotional: Courageous

For the first time in nearly 30 years of marriage, Andy and I were pet-less.  Our sweet Nike, who wrote my last devotional, went onto Kitty Heaven a few days after her Ruby debut.  Her immune system finally gave out following nearly 10 years of FIV (the kitty equivalent of AIDS).  Nike died on Daddy’s lap in the recliner, her favorite place to be.  How we missed her.  The kitchen seemed bare without her food and water dishes.  The house was too quiet without her congested breathing and purring.  Our nest was empty.
This lasted exactly 2 weeks.

We spent Christmas with Andy’s family and returned with more than wonderful memories, delicious cookies, and carefully selected gifts.  We had 2 new family members: Callie Anne and Dandy Lion.  Our new cats began their lives with us in the basement of their new home after a traumatic road trip from Kokomo, Indiana to Troy, Illinois caged up in cat carriers.  

Have I not commanded you?  Be strong and courageous.
Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged,
for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.

Joshua 1:9

That first day Dandy Lion huddled on a blanket under the table saw and Callie Anne hid behind plywood stacked against the wall.  Upstairs waited a different world with warmth, carpet, comfy furniture, and loving laps.  The wood shop doors were open and the stairway was lit, but our two newest family members chose to stay in the cold and dark basement.  Afraid to leave what they knew, our new cats were missing out on abundant lives in their new home.

How often do we miss out on the abundant lives that God has prepared for us because we are afraid to leave what we know and take a step of faith?  I consider all personal growth and amazing experiences I would have missed had I never taken those steps to move from Texas to Illinois for a job transfer, write a devotional, act in a drama, leave the company where I had worked for 19 years, or go on an overseas mission trip.  Still, many times I ignored God’s call, fearful of trying something new.  What all have I missed? 
As we move into the 2013, let’s all resolve to be more courageous about taking those steps of faith that take us out of the cold, dark basement to the light of the warm upstairs, toward the abundant life that God has prepared.  Happy courageous New Year!

Dannette McKellar