Thursday, December 30, 2010

Christmas decor

We weren't home much to enjoy them, but we attempted a few decorations for a little more festive, seasonal feel.  These pics were taken early on in the process so I made a few changes and didn't capture everything, but you get the jist.  Elvis assisted in the trimming festivities; His vocal stylings, that is.  But blue wasn't in the color scheme this year.  Although, I imagine one day we may very well have a blue christmas...hopefully in color only and not spirit. 

Entry table

The nativity set I bought from last year.

I changed out the subway art to one with the names of God.

 As much as I enjoyed laying on the couch in a room lit only by the twinkling glow of the tree, hiding treats in our stockings, and wrapping presents in shiny paper and bows, I was more anxious than I expected to rid our small space of the extra clutter.  I held out for two days, but it all had to come down and we're pretty much back to normal.  Except I keep forgetting that wreath on the door...

Excuses, excuses...


3,200 miles on the highway between
Thanksgiving and Christmas

On our last trip home my lower back and rear end began to display their disdain for the amount of time I had depended on them to support me lately, but I had to Mapquest all our travels to realize just how much I had abused them.  I owe my backside a sincere apology.

Thankfully, we get a break from the long car rides for awhile.


A new addition to our family

Penny Lane Bishop

Our 3 month old Maltese
She is in our eyes and in our ears, and she's also made her way into our hearts.
She's a lot of fun and a welcome addition.

Now excuse me while I go clean my carpets.

Here, there, and everywhere,


Sunday, December 12, 2010

New Orleans Trip #3

So, I almost forgot I hadn't yet posted about our last trip to New Orleans.  It was our last trip of the semester and of course it fell immediately following Thanksgiving and immediately preceding our Christmas concerts at church...busy time.  Will had some really late nights leading up to the trip, so I got the unenviable privilege of driving...the entire myself...while Will slept.  Blah.  But we made it safely, and I promptly went to bed upon our arrival.

This was the first trip so far that I went without a plan.  I had no definite idea of what I wanted to do.  Boy, do I know how to fill some time.  I wore myself out for not having a plan. 

I found my way to the Longue Vue House and Gardens in Mid-City. 
After perusing the house and grounds for a couple hours I went to the French Quarter to do some shopping and get some pictures. 

Saturday, after class, we went to the Krewe of Kringle parade on Canal Street before riding the street car to the Garden district and doing some walking down Magazine Street. 

Here's our trip in pictures:

Longue Vue House
Built in 1939, a local landmark. 
Interesting mix of antiques from all over the world and modern art.
Beautiful grounds with several water features and gardens.

French Quarter
One of my favorites of the Cathedral...I love the blue carriage.
We might have to take a ride next time. 

My other fav.


Complete with: noble NOLA police on elegant horses...

...sharply dressed high school bands showing some moves...

...tiny dancers in Santa hats...


  ...tiny, frightened horses in reindeer antlers...

...Elvis, in a Santa suit, on a scooter...Of course...

...floats...with beads, beads, and more beads...

...and a float with a crawfish as the star.

There's nothing like a parade in NOLA.  You can't believe how excited people get over anything being thrown from a float.  We enjoyed another good trip.  We're so glad to be going to school in a cool city, with plenty to explore.  Merry Christmas, Nawlins.  See you in February.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Butterscotch Gingerbread Cookies

This week was my turn to make snacks for small group.  I had some pre-made cookie dough to use, but I also wanted to make a cookie from scratch to go with the basic chocolate chip.  So, as I often do when I am sharing food with a group of people, I tried a new recipe.  Dangerous, I know.  I think these turned out really well and they are a great holiday cookie.  Will loves them and I recall him saying before that he doesn't like gingerbread.  The butterscotch adds a nice creaminess and unexpected flavor. 

Oatmeal raisin chocolate chip, butterscotch gingerbread, chocolate chip

Butterscotch Gingerbread Cookies
(found on allrecipes; by Nestle)


3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoon ginger
3/4 teaspoon ground clove
1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup of butter or margarine
1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
1 large egg
1/3 cup light molasses (I couldn't find...used regular)
1 (11oz pkg) Butterscotch chips (I used half a bag per others' comments)


PREHEAT oven to 330 degrees F.

COMBINE flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and salt in small bowl.

BEAT butter, sugar, egg and molasses in large mixer bowl until creamy. Gradually beat in flour mixture until well blended. Stir in chips. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets.

BAKE for 10 minutes or until cookies are lightly browned. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Make them.  Enjoy them. 

Monday, December 6, 2010

Thanksgiving 2010

Thanksgiving 2010
Memphis, TN

*Will arrived around 3am
*shopped at the Collierville mall
*ate bbq at the Germantown Commissary
*Will took a nap
*visited with friends, Ben and Mollie

Will secretly wants to live in the '40s or at least dress me like we do

*lunch at Will's parents
*watched football
*family photo shoot
*trip to Old Navy in the pouring rain
*leftovers at the Bishops'
*2 games of Bezzerwizzer

*got up at 2:30am to very cold temps
*Kohl's at 3am
*Target at 4am
*JcPenny at 4:30am
*Dick's at 5am
*Chickfila at 5:45am
*back in bed by 6:30am
*Thanksgiving lunch with mom
*bowling with the Weaver's and Baxter's
*leftovers with mom
*naps and football

*left mom's around 11:30
*went to all 3 Tiger related bookstores
*thrift store
*late lunch at Cafe Ole
*drove back to Longview

thrift store finds

It was a whirlwind weekend full of good times with family, good food, and some good deals.  We definitely perfected the art of Black Friday shopping; know what you want, grab it, get to the counter before the line wraps around the store, and on to the next one.  This is not a day to browse.  I also enjoyed that most of what we were looking for and buying was for other people. 
We enjoyed the time at "home" and are glad we were able to make the trip.  But those are just the accessories to the true purpose of the day.

This year we have many things to be thankful for.  We continue to be thankful for the salvation and hope we find in Jesus.  His presence in our life cannot be mistaken.  We are thankful and blessed that He has led us to serve at a God loving, people loving, life changing, mission minded, growing, serving church.  We have been able to heal and to grow.  We are thankful for God's provision in many ways, but especially financially.  We are thankful for new friendships made through our small group and the music ministry.  We are thankful for the opportunity that has been afforded to us for Will to return to school and pursue his DMA.  We are thankful for our health.  And I know I can speak for both of us in saying, we are thankful to be doing life together. 

Happy Thanksgiving (really late)!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Reverend Will

We were recently blessed by the desire of our pastor and church to ordain Will into the gospel ministry of Jesus Christ, thus giving him the title of reverend.  To me this honor is a further confirmation of the call that God has placed on Will's, and in some ways now, our, life.  Even though ordination must come to you through the local church body, Will has done his part to follow through with the call God put on his heart in eighth grade. 
He willingly accepted the call, surrendered his life, committed to prepare, and has served the local church for the last three years.  I am very proud of the heart my husband has for worship and music ministry and the integrity with which he serves.  He desires excellence, but does not neglect the one we seek to worship or the people he is leading to worship.  I count it a privilege to serve alongside him where I am able and to support him always.  I look forward to seeing what the Lord chooses to do through the ministry he entrusts to Will in the future. 

On to the service... 

As should be expected with the ordination of a music minister, the service was packed full of music.  The youth choir sang one of our favorite anthems, Brooklyn Tabernacle's "My Help".  The adult choir sang a beautiful arrangement of "Jesus Paid it All", and of course there were a few hymns including "Great is Thy Faithfulness" and "How Firm a Foundation". 
The service was made even more personal by a letter written for Will by his long time music minister, mentor, and role model Dr. James D. Whitmire. 
The biggest surprise, however, was a song written by our orchestra director, Deborah, based on Will's favorite scripture, Isaiah 43, and sung by yours truly. 

We had been sneaking around for over a week trying to pull off the surprise and a couple of times I was sure we were busted.  But the look on his face when I got up from the pew and walked to the stage during the middle of the service confirmed that he didn't have a clue. 

The text of this song could not have been more appropriate for the occasion. 

You Are Mine

This is what the Lord says,
He who created you,
This is what the Lord says,
He who formed you:
Fear not, for I have redeemed you,
I have summoned you by name.
You are mine.

And when you pass through the waters
I will be with you
And when you pass through the rivers,
They will not sweep over you.
And when you walk through the fire
You will not be burned;
for you are precious in My sight,
You are mine.

This is what the Lord Says,
Your redeemer the Holy One;
This is what the Lord says,
Your Savior and your God.
Fear not, for I will be with you,
My servant, I've chosen you;
And you are mine.

And you are mine.
You are mine!

The service concluded with a time of laying on of hands by other ordained ministers and deacons, including Will's dad.  It was a sweet time of prayer. 

We were so thankful to have most of our families present to celebrate with us. 

Congratulations, babe.  I love you and am so happy to be your help mate.

Musical Journey of 2010

Alright, let's dive into this.

Singing has always been a favorite pastime of mine, and being married to a Minister of Music I knew it would continue to be a significant part of my life. But music, well that's a different story. Whaaat? Yeah, singing "Desperado" along with Linda Rondstadt, "Achy Breaky Heart" with Billy Ray Cyrus, "Take Me Home, Country Roads" with John Denver, and "Greatest Love of All" with Whitney Houston, all on tape (can you say child of the 80s!), is a far cry from teaching music to a children's choir, learning notes and rhythms, playing an instrument, and singing four part harmony in a one hundred fifty voice choir. But again, thanks to the influence and encouragement of my husband, that's exactly what I am doing. Now I still don't "read" music, sometimes I confuse half notes and quarter notes, and I'm often very nervous on stage, but I've learned a lot and I'm enjoying the process. The following activities have added significantly to this process.
First up, teaching Praise Kids (Pre-K and Kindergarten choir). This one is close to my heart. It really hit me when I filled out my volunteer application for the children's ministry. It asked why I was interested in working with children and specifically with children's choir. My answer, I want to be a part of giving to these children what was given to me. It was through the ministry of children's choir and the movement of the Holy Spirit, that lead me to give my heart to Jesus at the age of six. The Lord has given me a heart for these kids and I want to impact their lives for Him so that they can impact the lives of those to come.
Our program this year was entitled, "The Thank You Meal". The kids did so well and I'm so glad to be part of this ministry.

My ten little munchkins on the end

1st - 6th grade choirs

Next in line, guitar lessons. I'm not quite sure how this came to be. Will is the director of our performing arts academy so I have a feeling he has something to do with it. I'm sensing a pattern. The things I get into following him around. :)

At first I wasn't sure my fingers were going to stick with this endeavor, but they have come through. I can now manage my way around a G, C, C2, D, Am, and Em chord. Getting from chord to chord (cough, playing a song, cough) is still a bit tricky at times, especially if it involves the F chord, but if you sing really slow and don't require it be in time, I'm your girl. If only I would practice. I know, I know, I'm working on it.

Also pictured, my pumpkin chocolate chip cake

Lastly, recording a Christmas CD, entitled Underneath the Tree, with our adult choir. Singing with a choir, especially a large choir, is a very unique, unifying experience. The impact is extended when singing corporately about a person, a relationship, a message we all believe in, that being the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Also, the leadership we are under (I'm slightly biased to one of them in particular) and the extremely talented sound engineer that recorded us made it a really fun time. Oh, and did I mention I had a solo on said CD. Yikes! And it's the title track. I never expected I would say that. It was an unexpected, nerve racking, lie awake in bed all night, pressure packed, tear inducing, humbling experience, but I grew from doing it and dare I say I might be willing to do it again, one day. That said, it is my sincere hope and prayer that the song not be about me, but that all the glory go to God.

This morning we completed the final 3 of 4 performances of some of the songs on the CD with an added drama, both on stage and through video.  It turned out really well and we're glad to have that behind us. 

So, with that, moving on...

Monday, November 29, 2010

Writer's block

I have so much to catch you up on, but somehow I don't know what to say. 

So for now I'll just share some pictures of what's been keeping us busy lately. 

Hopefully I'll be back soon with the info that goes along with these.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Christmas for "our kids"

Operation Christmas Child Banner

Operation Christmas Child is a ministry coordinated by Franklin Graham's Samaritan's Purse.  The project involves packing shoe boxes with small toys, school supplies and toiletry items for children in need around the world.  I don't recall how I first learned about this ministry, but I have loved it ever since.   I've participated for about four years now.  In 2008 they initiated a bar code system that allowed you to find out the destination of your box.  Mine went to Indonesia.  Sadly, I did not participate last year, and I really missed it.  This year there was no way I was going to miss it.  I've been collecting items for months. 

The other day, as I was wrapping the boxes and finishing up the packing, Will asked me, "So, what are our kids getting for Christmas this year?".  This comment warmed my heart and made me smile, because that is exactly how I feel.  For this year, the children that receive these boxes are our kids.  They are part of our family and it is our prayer that through this ministry they will come to know our heavenly father and we will become brothers and sisters in Christ.  For the first time this year I included a little note and a picture of us in each of the boxes.  I even put our address.  It's not guaranteed, but how neat would it be to receive a note from the children that receive these boxes?!  At the very least I'll get to know where they went. 

So, without further ado, here's what our kids got for Christmas.

2-4yo boy

5-9yo girl
10-14yo girl

A few stuffed toys got added to the final product.
Quite different from the type of Christmas' we're used to here in the US.  I just hope this box will bring a smile to a child's face and a little joy into their day.

I'll let you know when I find out where they end up.