I'm so glad you've stopped by my blog! I am a Women's Minister and a former Pastor's Wife. I love finding God in my regular-everyday-stuff. I struggle with keeping up with the laundry, I love blogging, and my kids are my first line of ministry. I am recently widowed. So God and I are on a brand new journey as I try to find peace and understanding. Please grab a cup of coffee and let's get to know one another as we journey on our faith walk together.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

I've moved!!!

Yep!  Not only have I moved to Washington State... but I've started a new blog.  I will no longer be posting on this blog site.  I will keep it up for memories sake... but please come over to my  new home

Here I will be writing my normal devotionals - like I used to do so long ago... and sharing our new family adventures of living in the Northwest... versus the deep South!

I hope you'll come over for a visit.  Sign up to receive these updates in your inbox... so grab a cup of coffee and let's get caught up... it'll be like old times!

Can't wait to see you there!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

So... what's going to happen?!

Well, now that perhaps the shock has subsided that I'm getting married - I can answer a few of your questions....

If you don't see the answer to one that you have - feel free to call, text or email.  I know that many of you may be wondering why you didn't get a personal call about all of this - and had to find out online. 

I can understand your thought and feelings.  I would probably feel the same if I were in your shoes.  I only ask that you put yourself in mine... if but just for a moment.  

Nothing about my life has been conventional since December 30, 2010.  Nothing!  I have moved, started a new career, found new friends, slept in a different bed, driven new roads, gone back to school and the list goes on.  

Why would my life start looking conventional now?  I truly believe that God has called me to live an untraditional life.  One that requires that I constantly be ready to say, "Yes, Lord!  and "Let's go!" all at the same time.

So... without delaying your answers - let's get going on your questions.

Why so fast?!
This has not been the most asked out loud and to my face - but I know it's in all of your minds - mainly because I see it all over your faces or in your voice.  Please keep in mind that Alan and I have been talking through email, text, phone calls, and FaceTime since September.  So while it may seem all of a sudden on the surface - there is so much you've never seen.  

In this time we have asked SUPER hard questions of one another.  Sure - we asked the fun and simple ones too.  We've talked about politics, religion, Jesus, church, children, until we were falling asleep...  

And the more we talked the more we found ourselves missing each other during the day - couldn't wait until we could talk again.  So finally we both knew we had to meet in person.  We had a feeling it would only get better - but we just didn't know.  So in March he flew to Texas.  We knew the minute we saw each other - face to face - in the same time zone - that what started in September was the real deal.

He's been married before - I've been married twice before.... we don't need or desire a big fancy wedding ceremony.  We just want to begin our lives together.  We know that this is God's way of answer our heart cries - this is God's provision of blessing - and we're ready to get that started.

So... we're getting married in Washington on May 25.

Are you taking the kids?
The quick answer to this is no.  "Oh my goodness!  Why would you do such a thing!"  I can hear the outrage through cyberspace now.  Please allow me to explain.

I originally wanted to get married in Texas.  I thought probably everyone who knew me would need to see this beautiful event as a way to complete their own personal healing - from John's death.  But to be honest, the more I talked with friends and family - the more I realized they were more excited about my future with Alan - than they were about a small ceremony.

At the time of Alan's proposal - I already had plane tickets for May 25th and June 1st weekends.  Graduation festivities for his son.  The more we talked, the more we just wanted to be together.... So here's a crazy - UNTRADITIONAL thought.... why not get married when I come to Washington next - on May 25th??  I know I have to return to Texas to do 2 more weeks of school, but should that really delay anything though?

We both felt a real peace about this decision.  Then there's the big question... do you fly the kids up for this ceremony?  I could.  But let's be reasonable here... I could spend the $1000 to fly them up.  We're getting married at noon on Saturday.  So - spend all that money for them to then spend the rest of the weekend with their new grandparents.  

Now - let me just say - they are already super loved and they LOVE Alan's parents.  It would be a joy for both sides to hang out.... But our thoughts were to have another Texas ceremony that would be more family/kid focused in June.  So this is what we've settled on and we're ALL (Alan, me, Jordan and JP) very thrilled with this plan.

Where are you going to live?
Like ripping off a bandaid - let's do this quick - WASHINGTON.  I know, I know.  Seriously??!  I've heard these words more times that I can count.  Why?  Really?  You just got here!  I know.  

I know because these were all questions that I asked myself.  So - I know I must allow you to take the same journey - in your own way, and in your own time.  If you're ready to read on - please do so.  If you need to take a breather - no worries.  I understand.

Why? To brag on my future husband for just a bit.... (actually I'll be doing a lot more of this!)
It hasn't always been a given that we would move there.  The last time he came to Texas he worked diligently researching his business and other business opportunities here in this area.  However, he has experienced much success with his business where it is and it makes much more financial sense to continue there.  

We separately made lists (pros and cons) for each location.  And wouldn't you know it - his pro list was longer for moving to Texas and my pro list was longer for moving to Washington.  

Love.  That's love in case you missed it!

So, yes.  We're moving to the beautiful state of Washington - and soon!  I've already been asking questions about schools, t-ball leagues, and dance companies.  I'm doing my homework folks!  

This next part probably still falls under "why?"  - but it's more than just why Washington - but rather why Alan too.

I wish you could see my journal (not really, but humor me).  It's filled with the cries of my heart.  Prayers about being lonely.  Prayers about security.  Prayers about the future.  Tears over things like spiritual leadership in my life.  Godly manly examples for both my son and my daughter.  Feelings of being overwhelmed by the everyday.  

I know on the outside - on the surface - it looks like I'm keeping it all together and that I don't need anyone or any help.  Let me just say - what you've been seeing is God at work... big time!

I'll never forget standing in Alan's dining room.  I had somehow found myself there alone - looking out the window at the beautiful scenery.  I'm telling you the Holy Spirit and I had a moment - a very special moment.  We reviewed my journal prayers and the Holy Spirit showed me that through Alan, He (the Lord) was checking off my requests, concerns and desires.  Then He asked me a very profound - yet simple question...

Was I willing to deny all that God had planned for me over a place.  Was I really going to pick a place over a person - God's person for me?

NO WAY!!!  It was then, that I got 100% on board with God and was confident that He would work out all the details.  Alan & I knew that if God could divide the sea, drop manna from Heaven, He could work out our distance issue too!  Since this moment, I have had complete peace about our move to Washington.  I know that God has big plans for us there and we all - all 4 of us are ready to be His servants!

When?  Well - that's another bandaid moment - June 16th.
I must teach until June 7th.  Then I have committed to VBS at my church and I wouldn't miss it for anything.  That takes us to June 14th.  

So we've decided to have a Texas ceremony/reception on Saturday June 15th (details to follow) - and then head out June 16th.  Could anything be more perfect.... On Mother's Day I get engaged and on Father's Day the kids get a new "dad" in their life!  You should see JP - everywhere Alan goes - JP is just a step behind him.  He want to sit beside him at meals and copy everything he does.  It's just precious!  Jordan sneaks out of bed to come say hello on FaceTime.  Oh!  Sorry - this had nothing to do with moving....

Please remember that I'm still in the middle of all of my Master's classes - and we need to get back to Washington so I can do my assignments - not in the car on my iPad!

What will you do there?
The quick answer to this is substitute at first.  I will need to retake every certification test.  Since I'm heading to being a school counselor, I may sub until I get my Masters - which will be next summer.  Then search for a school counselor position.  I even feel that God may be leading me to get my LPC license... those are details still in progress.  However, after getting settled in - I might take the certification tests and jump right into WA teaching.  I cherish your prayers where these details are concerned.

I do know that after working the past 2.5 years, I enjoy working outside the home.  I totally enjoy the social aspect of it all and seeing that I only know a small handful of people - this will be a great way to make friends.

How do the kids feel about moving?
Great question!  Please remember that they have moved their entire little lives.  I wanted for them security.  I wanted roots for them.  I wanted to stay put for more than a couple of years. 

However... they have never experienced this and wouldn't even begin to know what roots feel like.  We spent 4 years in Houston, not even 2 years in New Orleans, 2.5 years now in Lufkin and they are ready for whatever is next!

On Saturday night - our last night in Washington, as I tucked the kids into bed, I asked them if they were ready to go home.  They both looked at one another and then agreed - they did not want to go home.  They both said, "'we're ready to be in that home" - and pointed out the window towards Alan's house.  Just this morning Jordan asked me how long we would live in Washington.  I told her I didn't know - but I did know that God was telling us to move.  I asked her if she was truly okay with this change.

She and JP again, looked at each other and said, "We hope we can live there forever!"  They are used to change - they are used to meeting new people.  What a blessing for this life that God has called us all to!

I think this may be enough for now... if you have more questions - please let me know!  I'm happy to respond.

I may not call you directly because I'm still:

working on my Masters,
doing the laundry
making all the meals,
teaching 6 chemistry classes
taking out the trash, 
breaking up sibling fights,
yelling at T-Ball games
dropping off and picking up from dance class
talking to Alan at night
cleaning house
Women's ministry at DABC
Vacation Bible School.
and..... so much more.

From Survivor... to Back to the Future

"I haven't seen you much on Facebook lately, I'm hoping that means you're out enjoying life!"  This was recently said to me by a dear friend & mentor. 

I have been a little absent from my social medias lately, but I've really been AWOL from my blog for sure.  So.... I thought I would take this opportunity to catch everyone up with the happenings of my life.

My friends that know me best know that I am shamefully a closet reality show watcher.   I used to watch Survivor religiously.  I'm not sure why I liked that show... The whole premise of the show is to manipulate everyone you know.  Shortly after John died, I wrote a blog about being a real Survivor. I guess I couldn't get out of my head that this was a new category given to me in the obituary. What does it mean to really be a survivor?

John & I used to talk about the future all the time. We used to talk about what it would look like to be grandparents. We wondered what "retirement" would look like for a ministry family. Just lots of "future things" made up our hopes & dreams. However on December 30th, 2010 all thoughts of future hopes & dreams ceased. I entered into a new world of just being a survivor. Scratching & clawing to make it through each new day trying to find victory in the many overwhelming challenges God was allowing me to experience.

It's been a very long 2.5 years!  Sometimes it feels like a lifetime ago, especially when I see how much the kids have grown since that day. At other times it seems like it was just yesterday that we were talking about the new year (of 2011). 

Today I'm a chemistry teacher, certified in every science, ESL, and GT. I'm currently working on my Master's degree in school counseling.  This past August the kids & I finally got our own house. And yet, I still felt like I was just surviving each day... Moment by moment. Still no talk of "future things."


Yes, until recently. I can't tell you how many people have eluded, hinted, suggested, asked, about God sending someone new for me to love - someone I could share life with again.  To be honest I wondered too. Would I be like Ruth in the Bible who was given another chance at love & happiness or would I be like Anna (Luke 2:36)?  Who was married 7 years and then died a widow at age 84.

As I looked around, I wondered if a man that would meet all of my expectations even existed in Lufkin. Every Sunday, from the choir loft I would do my standard cursory glance across the sanctuary. Just to see if I noticed a new single man worshipping with us that day.  Each Sunday brought the same reaction... "He's not here today." 

However, all of this changed when a dear friend of mine introduced me to Alan. I know that if you're my friend on Facebook you've seen us together & may have wondered... Who is that?  Is she dating?! What is going on? 

(Oh... by the way... to say, "Are you dating?" implies to me that I'm seeing many different people in a casual manner.  Let me certainly clarify that I NEVER did this!!!)

So... I'm going to answer some of the questions I know are going through your minds....

Where does he live?
Washington State

How did you meet?
We were introduced back in September. His sister used to live in Lufkin. She & her family sat right next to my parents every Sunday for years. My sister taught with his sister in Lufkin.  After she moved back to WA,  some mutual friends of ours went to visit her. While there, they met Alan. They then thought we should "be friends." He contacted me on my birthday!  What a nice surprise! 

So is this serious?
Yes!  We spent months corresponding - emails, Facebook, texting, phone calls, and now we FaceTime every day. Much of our early conversations were like any other relationship, just regular getting to know you type of stuff. However, given the trials & tragedies we both had "survived"... We were also sharing how God was healing us & keeping us in His perfect peace even though our lives looked nothing like we expected.

 Alan loves The Lord with all his heart. He has an active & daily walk with God. We encourage each other often with verses from our own personal prayer times.

We're both finding that we do remember what it feels like to laugh.  I must admit that when I talk to him my cheeks often hurt - from all the smiling & laughing. I guess I hadn't realized that those muscles had become dormant.

What about your kids?  Do they like him?  Does he like them?
Yes!  I don't have the space here to tell you all the neat conversations I've had with the kids about him.... But they truly adore him. They've shared with me that they don't want me to be alone forever. Yes!  He loves them too... Course - what's not to love?  LOL!!


So... Washington?!  Seriously?  What's going to happen?
I initially wrote this blog on the plane to Washington - on my way to see him Mother's Day weekend.  I wanted to show it to him before posting it, just to make sure he liked what I had said about him.


When I got to Washington I received the best Mother's Day present!  We arrived Thursday afternoon.  We had a great time just hanging out - the four of us.  For dinner we had a cookout - so the Franklin kids could meet the Finch kids.  Of course his 3 boys are 18, 20. and 24 - and mine are almost 9 and 6.5.  Eventually it got dark and it was time for the Franklin children to go to bed.  We always stay with Alan's parents when we go there - so I tucked them into bed, gave them their Daddy blessing and kissed them goodnight.

Then Alan & I sat out on the back porch to enjoy the beautiful Washington weather and gaze at the stars.  Moments later, he was down on one knee - asking me to marry him!  It was a beautiful night!  Oh, of course I said yes!  

I'm very happy to report that my life is no longer like the realty show Survivor, but instead... More like the movies... I'm finally heading Back to the Future!  We find ourselves talking about "future things" all the time and what a feeling to know that we both will be doing much more than just surviving... we will be doing our future - TOGETHER!

I know many of you have MANY more questions.  You've been lighting up my cell phone with calls, texts and filling my inbox with them all.  I'm happy to answer them - but perhaps I can streamline them a bit here.

Stay tuned for Part II - the answers to more questions.....

Monday, January 21, 2013

"What do I have in here?"

Today is a Teacher In-Service Day at school.  My kids get to enjoy a lazy Monday, while I learn how I can better equip my students with updated learning tools.

I'm actually looking forward to today.  It's all about technology - stuff I absolutely love!

However, on most days as my students enter my classroom a common question they ask me is this, "What do I have in here?"

By this they mean, what is their current average.  Sometimes they need to know so they can participate in extracurricular activities, sometimes they need to know for their parents-sake, most times they are just curious.

There is no way I can remember over 100 students' averages, so I have a place at the back of the room where I periodically post their grades.  Funny, even though they are posted, they still find comfort in asking me this question.

The grades that I post reflect simple daily grades, projects and of course major tests.  The daily grades are not worth as much as the tests.  Sometimes I think they try to figure out how many good daily grades they need to make up for bad tests.  LOL!

I absolutely LOVE my One Year Bible.  I've read it over and over ever since 1999.  God shows me something new from familiar stories every year.  Recently I read about Abraham and Isaac - and their journey to Mount Moriah.

Genesis chapter 22 starts out like this, "After these things, God tested Abraham and said to him, "Abraham!"  And he said, "Here am I."

Then the Lord commanded Abraham to sacrifice his son!  We all know the end of this beautiful story.  Abraham passed his test with flying colors.

I know the Lord has had me in a season of testing.  He took the love of my life and everyday I struggle.  Every day I miss him terribly.

As soon as I read this verse about God testing Abraham.  I thought about the testing the Lord is requiring of me.  And, I guess it was just because I hear this so often, I asked the Lord,

"What do I have in here?"  Am I passing?  Am I passing enough to enjoy a few extracurricular things in life?

I know I've failed some daily grades.  I know of my shortcomings - getting upset with the kids over small things, feeling lonely and forgotten.  But hopefully I'm performing well on the major stuff.

After each major test I remind my students that I arrive early every morning and stay late every afternoon for tutoring.  I practically beg them to come and see me.  I know that if they will give me 30 minutes I could help them raise their grade.

You know what?   My God does the same for me.  He begs me to meet with him every morning.  I know that by spending time with Him I can raise my grade with Him too.

So, how about you?  Have you asked the Lord if you're passing the tests He's given you.  Just ask.  He'll tell you.  And if the answer is not what you want - He's always available for extra tutoring!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Way More Miles!

December 30th.  What a date!  It's after Christmas and not quite January 1st.  It should be just a relaxing day in any life.  Closing out the old and about to bring in the new.

Yet for me it was a day that my entire life changed forever.  I have to admit it seemed like it was little like hell on Earth at first.

5pm on December 30, 2010 my hero husband stepped into his forever Home... Heaven.  We had made many moves in our short-lived married life, but we always made them together.  Here was a move he made without me.

I had so many things I wanted to say to him and yet did not get the chance.  I had so many questions - really about how to handle his death, and could not talk with him.

Today, 2 years later, I'm leaving to go to Dallas, TX to do something I've never done before - run a half marathon!  I chose this race, at this time, on this day for a very specific reason.  I want it to reflect the miles the Lord has carried me since John moved to Heaven.

Oh the miles!  I've heard it said many many times that our time here on Earth is preparing us for Heaven.  As I've been training for my race - I can see how my training is going to get me through and allow me to complete my goal.  One day as I was running, it began to rain and rain and rain!  I somehow ended up on a very busy road that had very little shoulder.  So cars were splashing huge amounts of water on me as the Lord was dumping water on me as well.  I've checked the weather report for tomorrow and it's supposed to... yep... RAIN.

I'm so glad I've trained in these conditions - otherwise I would be freaking out!  One day it was freezing... but I ran in layered clothes and trained in how to remove them as I got hot.  Yes, it is also supposed to be about 38 degrees.

Cold & Rainy.  No problem. I'm prepared.

But... how in the world does living in a world without the man God gave me, without my children having a father prepare us for Heaven - a perfect place filled with unspeakable beauty?

I have to be honest - I've only been on this race - I've only run these miles - 2 years - and I'm still trying to get my head around what God wants of me now.  There is still so much I don't know about running. You see, I'm not really a runner.  I'm just one over-determined lady.

I think it's very similar with God.  Most of the time I don't feel very saint-like.  Yet the Bible says that I am one.  I know that I have been bought with a price and that my whole life belonged not to John - but to God.  I am over-determined to live my life for Him.  If He says this place here is a training ground for Heaven then I must trust Him and run for the prize every day.

As I run tomorrow I have a few verses that are going to keep me running... mainly because I know He wants me to keep running in life until it's my turn to go Home:

1 Cor 9:24
"Do you not know that in a race all the runner run, 
but only one receives the prize?  
So run that you may obtain it."

Joshua 1:9
"Have I not commanded you?  Be strong and courageous.  
Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, 
for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go."

And finally - no matter what happens tomorrow on the 13.1 mile journey that I'm running or in the miles that I run in life... God is for me!

Psalm 56:9
"Then my enemies will turn back 
in the day when I call.  
This is know, that God is for me."

Babe, I don't even know if you'll know or even see what I'm doing tomorrow.  But I do know that the Lord sees.  I pray that He gives me strength, stamina and good health to complete this goal.  I want to show our children that no matter what happens in life - God can carry you way more miles than we could ever imagine!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Can I go with?

Have you noticed that we live in a world of shortened phrases and that abbreviations have replaced almost complete sentences?

My children have a favorite and it seems like they say it all the time... "Can I go with?"

They say this for almost every place I go...  for instance..

Me:  "Kids, I'm going out to the car to look for something."
Them:  "Can I go with?"


Me:  "I'll be right back... I'm going inside the house, I need to go potty."
Them:  "Can I go with?"

Not really.  But almost!  Most times, it's not even about where I'm going - they just "want to go with."  They could tack that on the end to wherever I'm going - whenever I say I'm going someplace.

I want to explain to them that I can be out of their sight for one second and they will be just fine.  However, I also know that they may fear losing another parent - so I do my best to have patience when they want to CONSTANTLY be with me.

I saw something in scripture today that really blessed my heart.  So often we wonder if God is really "with" us.  We wonder if at times He's busy with someone else and has forgotten all about us.

Check out what He told Jeremiah....

Jeremiah 1:7-8 (ESV)

But the Lord said to me,
"Do not say, 'I am only a youth';
for to all to whom I send you, you shall go,
and whatever I command you, you shall speak.  
Do not be afraid of them, 
for I am with you to deliver you,
declares the Lord."

After reading this verse, I just had to stop.  

"I am with you - to deliver you."

Almost daily I need some type of deliverance.  From dishes, laundry, quarreling children, bills....

And He's right here with me.  Perhaps it's just a moment of silence - just to catch my breath.  This would be a temporary deliverance.

However I saw this morning that He is ever present - ever with me - to bring me complete and total deliverance - to see Him face to face someday.  And I need Him with me to make it to that day!

It's really not a matter of has God forgotten me - but rather... when God says, "Penny, can I go with?"  I need to say, "Yes Lord!"

For when He comes with - He brings deliverance!  Praise God for His temporary and complete deliverance in my life!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Loose Clothes

Yesterday I did something that my Mom always used to do - once a year - with me & my sister... we went school clothes shopping in Houston!

For the first time every in Jordan's school history - no uniforms are required!  So instead of robotically purchasing 5 different colored polo shirts and 5 khaki shorts - I took the kids to The Woodlands to shop for fun school clothes!

We had a blast!  Of course the kids learned what the word "appropriate" means - crazy shorts, glitter shirts will not last past the first wear, and rain boots are not "school shoes".

At the end of our shopping - I asked the kids if I could have a turn.  So my Mom very graciously watched the kids for me while I went to try on "just a few" things.

Now here's where the story takes a bit of a sad turn...

For the past 2 weeks I've been working out like a crazy woman.  Not only am I on a serious marathon training schedule - but I've also added INSANITY (by Shawn T) workouts to my days.  I'm kind of putting myself through my own version of "two-a-days".

charts of my different workouts - with stats

Before going shopping I checked my stats - I've lost 9 pounds and 1 inch in my waist and legs!  Yay!  Right?

I wonder - how many pounds lost would equal a new size - or loose clothes?  I hate women's sizing!

Let's just say I was not the size I was hoping I would be after such loss.

But you know what - these are just physical clothes.  I know one day I will reach my fitness and weight goals - in time.  However, there is another fitness and size goal that I have set my mind to and it has nothing to do with something I would find in Macy's!!

The Bible speaks of another kind of loose clothing!

Check this out....

Psalm 30:11 (ESV)
You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; 
You have loosed my sackcloth 
and clothed me with gladness, 
that my glory may sing 
Your praise and not be silent.

Did you catch that?!  I'll exchange loose clothes for gladness!  How exciting!!!

I have many fitness goals - but did you hear the greater ones found here?

1.  For mourning to turn into dancing
2.  Loose clothing exchanged for clothes of gladness
3.  To not be silent about my Lord

One day my size 12 clothes are going to be too big... one day.  And believe me, you'll hear about it!

However, the desire of my heart would be that you would hear about how great my God is more than something I find in a store.  That others around me would know that no matter what tragedy I experience, my God is big enough to loosen my sad clothes & replace them with glad ones... and that I would one day dance again!

Are you tracking your progress for these kinds of loose clothing?  Where do you stand?

I must admit - I'm still on the journey - but working towards it every day!