Renaissance Women 2012

Renaissance Ministries is gearing up to kick off registration for our 2012 Spring Women’s Conference Renaissance 2012: Rebuilding Your Foundations. (Registration begins on January 1, 2012) so I wanted to tell you about Renaissance, the 2012 conference and why we do what we do. You’ve gotten to know me and my family, now I want you to know about me and the ministry God has called me to.

The motto for Renaissance Ministries is Revive! Renew! Rejoice!  A motto is defined as a rule to live by.  We use the exclamation point at the end of each word because we take it as a joyful command to do so. All three of these words can be found in the definition of the word Renaissance. Let’s look at the meanings of these three words to get the full understanding of Revive! Renew! Rejoice!

  • Revive means to breathe life into 
  • Renew means to make good again, to rekindle and to restore
  • Rejoice means to express joy, to celebrate, to delight in

 In other words, the motto of Renaissance Ministries can be expressed as follows:

To breathe life into the women of our community, to restore that which has been destroyed in their lives and to help them to celebrate themselves, to express joy in their everyday lives and to delight in being the woman God has called them to be.

My personal life purpose and the purpose of the ministry are one and the same: to revive, renew and rejoice and to help others to do the same.

Rebuilding Your Foundations - Renaissance Women 2012

Renaissance Conferences for Women are one way we walk out the call to Revive! Renew! Rejoice!  This year the theme Rebuilding Your Foundations is taken from Isaiah 58:12 which reads in the familiar King James Version (KJV)*:

And they that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places:
thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations;
and thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach,
The restorer of paths to dwell in.

The widely used New International Version (NIV)* reads:

Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins
   and will raise up the age-old foundations;
you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls,
   Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.

And my favorite rendering used for this conference from The Message* translation which reads:

You'll use the old rubble of past lives to build anew, 
   rebuild the foundations from out of your past.
You'll be known as those who can fix anything, 
   restore old ruins, rebuild and renovate, 
   make the community livable again.

If ever there was a verse in scripture that spoke the desires of my heart in ministry, it’s this one. To help women use the rubble of their past to build anew, to help rebuild the foundations of their lives, and to restore the dignity of their souls where it has been torn down. This is my heart, the heart of Renaissance Ministries, and the basis for Renaissance 2010. We’re going to dig through the rubble of our past, use it to rebuild the places where we as women have been broken down and we even going to have fun – yes fun – doing it.

In my next couple of posts, we’ll talk more about the conference how it is set up and what we do.  I’ll also be introducing introduce you to my friends, fellow teachers, and partners in ministry who will be teaching at Renaissance 2012. You are gonna love these women. 

*Three translations and word definitions. Can you tell that my ministry gifting is teaching? :)


Christmas 2010 - Angels & Nativities

Here are a few more pictures of my Christmas decorations from last year. Thank you all for the kind comments before and I hope you enjoy these as well.

This is my 2010 Nativity. I try to find a new nativity every year. It's part of a set that has additional pieces to it of three wise men and also another piece with an angel and lamb. It stays out all year but was moved to the mantle after the holidays. Still looking for one for this year.

I call this my Hope nativity. It also sits on the mantle all year and I love how the word 'Hope' is part of the piece because more than anything Hope is what the birth of Jesus represents. Hope. I love it.

This a little Halmark Ornament set I found years ago but I don't think I've ever put it on a tree. It's so tiny and so cute that I keep it on a little tiled plant table near the clock. I like having little treasures around that you only see if you look closely.

I've had this glass nativity for years. I found it in a dollar store if you can believe it. It sits on a lamp table tucked in a corner year round. I put a red card behind it so it showed up for the picture but the only time anyone really sees it is if they turn on the lamp on that table. It really sparkles under the light.

My mother gave me this angel shortly after I cut my hair years ago. She said it reminded her of me with the tiny afro and the round face. :)

This little red angel swings from the glass lamp shade of an antique brass lamp stand. The lamp uplights a picture of me and my sons taken when they were little. The Joy ornament hangs underneath the picture year round.

I call this my Baby Jesus Angel. You might not be able to see it, but the angel is hold a little Baby Jesus in her arms. She sits at the top of the tree. After Christmas she sits in the center of my bookcase headboard in my bedroom.

I have about six differnt sets of angel ornaments for my tree. This is a male angel which you don't see many of at Christmas and he's singing. I found him quite by accident in a corner at WalMart no less. I picked up him and a few of his brother angels like the praying one below. There's also a male angel in yellow playing a harp but I don't have a picture of him.

That's a few of my collection of angels and nativities. I hope you enjoyed seeing them.


Christmas Memories - 2010

In trying to decide how I'll be decorating the house for Christmas this year, I pulled out last  year's pics for inspiration. How different this year is going to be from the last. This is my first Christmas as a single empty nester - no one in the house but me as opposed to last year when the family reunion was at my house. I do want to do something special in the house for the holidays but not sure what just yet. Here are a few of the pics from Christmas 2010.

I collect Angels, Choirs and Nativities to use as my Christmas Decorations although many of them remain on display throughout the year. A number of them adorn the living room fireplace which is the first thing you notice as you enter through the front door.

In front of the fireplace is my Grandmother's Mirrored Coffee Table with various Angels and Nativities. In addition to the house I also inherited all of her furniture. I can remember this mirrored coffee table sitting in her living room when I was a little, little girl. The top shelf is glass, second is a mirror with brass legs and fittings. I always loved looking at myself in the mirror. The fireplace is on the southern side of the room and is draped in silk floral garlands of sparkly poinsettias.

 This is Angel Bell and you can just make her out in the center of the mantle. I call her 'Bell' because she is a brass bell underneath her feathered wings. I love her serene face. 

Grandfather Clock sits in the SE Corner of Living Room next to the set of double cut glass French doors which lead to the east side of the wrap around porch. My father gave my grandmother this clock as a Christmas present many years ago. I've made a small seating area in that little corner with two basket of books between the wooden chair and my mauve leather love seat which resides in front of the French Doors in the winter.

This is the west end of my Living Room with last year's tree. You can see the sparkly poinsettias garlands over the windows and the mirror.  You can also catch a glimpse of our hard wood floors which are desperately in need of refinishing but look pretty good in this shot. We rearranged the furniture for the reunion for ease of traffic flow. On the left hand side of the couch there is the second set of double cut glass French Doors which open to the formal dining room. (You can see them in the fireplace picture above on the right.) And yes, that is the original  1920's crown molding around the edge of the 10ft ceilings.

This is a better shot of the tree in the northeast corner of the room. As you can see there are a lot of windows in my living room as there are in the whole of the house.  It's a bright and cheery room especially in the mornings. One of the very first things I do after waking is to raise all of the shades so the room is filled with light.  One of the main reasons I love this house is because of all of the windows in it.  I have to admit, I love it a little less in the spring come window washing time, but that only lasts a week and the rest of the year I have all the wonderful light they let in.

As I said before, I collect Nativities and keep quite a few of them out during the year. This beautiful tree ornament hangs from the key of the Grandfather Clock all year. It's so beautiful and so delicate. I love being able to look at it every day. It's one of seven Nativities I keep in the living room year round. I'll show some more of them tomorrow along with the angels.

I'm a little behind this year. Usually I start decorating according to the family tradition of putting up the tree the weekend after Thanksgiving. Still not sure how much I'm going to do but I am starting to feel a bit energized by digging out these photos.  I would also like to hear about your holiday decorating. Is your tree up yet? Are you doing anything different this year or carrying on with traditions from before? Tell me about it. Maybe I can pick up a few ideas from you. (*wink)


T.G.I. Company Girls!

On Fridays I link up with the Company Girls at Home Sanctuary. We drop in and say hi to each other kinda like they used to do in the days when ladies would make 'calls'. Please join us. It's nice to have company.


Ten Minutes to Seven

At ten minutes to seven I walked into the kitchen early this morning just as the sun was coming up. It was those few moments between night and morning – dawn is what we call clumsily call it and I was looking for coffee. My kitchen window looks out across my neighbor’s massive back yard and as I opened  the kitchen curtains over the sink, I gasped. There was a brilliant shaft of light filtering through the tall crepe myrtle trees that have now gone scarlet and it flooded my neighbor’s garden.  It was indescribably beautiful and I was compelled to just stand there, in the presence that beauty, to look on a moment, a point and place in time that would never ever happen again. I was holding my breath, afraid to blink or it would be lost. God made this one perfect moment for me alone. No one else would see it just like I was seeing it, no one else would experience it like I was experiencing, no one else would marvel at the depth and richness of those colors. It only last a moment but it felt like an eternity and I can still feel the warmth of it. I can close my eyes and see it. I wish I could describe it, but I don’t have the words. All I can say is in that unsuspecting moment, I was touched by God and I have to give witness to it.

Honestly, I had planned something else for this first post of December but that will be posted another day. You cannot be touched in a moment like that and not do something to recognize it, to commemorate it.  One of the places I visit online encourages giving voice to, giving witness to the gifts that God has given us on a daily basis. It’s called One Thousand Gifts.

I hadn’t planned to take up the One Thousand Gifts  devotional practice of writing down and numbering my blessings.  But this morning standing at my kitchen sink, in that one unexpected moment of pure beauty, grace and joy I knew it was something I needed to take up as I looked forward to the coming New Year as a devotional discipline for myself. Taking up this as a spiritual discipline is my commemoration of that one unexpected indescribable moment. To thank God for the gift he gave me at ten minutes to seven this morning.

You can find out more about One Thousand Gifts and Ann Voskamp  by clicking on the A Holy Experience button on my sidebar. You'll be richer for it.


My Best Thanksgiving - Nov. 24, 1977

It was Thanksgiving Day and also my parents wedding anniversary.  I had proudly as a young wife planned to host the family for Thanksgiving dinner in our tiny off campus apartment as part of the combined Thanksgiving / Anniversary dinner.  As it turned out, it was also the day after the worst snowstorm in mid Michigan that year and also the day after my young med student husband had to take his anatomy and physiology exam after having stayed up all night with a laboring wife. (He swears he doesn't remember taking that test but he did get an 'A' on it.) Needless to say, there was no turkey, no dressing, no pies and cakes on that Thanksgiving in 1977.  But there was the arrival of this dear sweet boy who became the first of three overwhelming loves of my life.

 November 24, 1977 at 11:09 pm I was delivered of my first child, a son, Reggie II.

Happy Birthday Sweetie. You were my Best Thanksgiving Ever.


My Second Best Thanksgiving Ever

My second favorite Thanksgiving was when I was a junior in high school.  It began when my sister Jo and I were doing our homework after dinner a week before Thanksgiving. Our mom was sighing loudly in the kitchen about how she wasn’t ready for the upcoming holiday meal and how she was tired and was not looking forward to getting out, doing the shopping and putting it all together.  Almost at the same moment my sister  Jo and I spoke up and said “We’ll do it.”

Surprised, my mother turned, gave us a grateful but almost pitying look that said we were misguided to think we had any idea of how to put together a holiday meal for a family of nine plus guests. “Thank you, but no.” she said. “It’s a sweet thought but you two couldn't handle it. It’s too much.” Jo and I looked at each and frowned wondering what in the world our mother was talking about.  “It’s my own fault,” she sighed, “I never taught you how to pull together something like this.” 

“Oh Mom, pul-leeze” I said, a little insulted,(I think Jo rolled her eyes) “We know how to stuff a turkey. We’ve been in the kitchen with you every Thanksgiving for our whole lives. How could we not?”

My mother gave us her signature “Oh Really” look, sat down at the table where we were doing our home work and proceeded to quiz us on the finer points of putting together a turkey dinner. We were ready for her. It was a matter of honor now.  We got a piece of paper and wrote out the menu, the shopping list and the order in which each aspect of the dinner was prepared. We proudly answered every one of her questions and enjoyed immensely the change of her expression from dubiousness to incredulous. 

“You really do know.” She said slowly. 

It was our turn to give her the almost pitying look and sigh. “Yes Mom, we really do know. So can we do it?”

 She hesitated. “Let me talk to your father first.”

We finished our homework as she went into the family room to have a hushed conversation with our dad.  Later I wondered if Mom was trying to get Dad to give her a good reason to say no. About fifteen minutes later she came back in and said tentatively, “Are you sure you can do it? Are you sure you want to?” We nodded yes and she said, “ Well, your father said if I was sure you could it would be ok with him.” Needless to say, we were tickled to death that we were going to get to show off what we could do.
Long story short, early Saturday morning we got the keys to the car and the grocery money from our dad and took off to buy the preparations for the feast. I know it was all our Mom could do to not go with us and she was waiting impatiently for us when we got back 90 minutes later. She carefully inspected what we bought including the 20 lb butterball turkey and reluctantly gave us the go ahead to move to the next stage. Part over me still thinks Mom might have been thinking better of letting go of the reigns of one of our signature holiday celebrations. Too bad. That year, Jo and I were definitely in charge.

Over the weekend and those Monday and Tuesday nights we chopped and diced onions, celery for the stuffing, along with walnuts and apples for the Waldorf salad.  We baked cornbread for the stuffing, peeled potatoes, made a cake and a couple of pies and if I remember correctly, Jello fruit salad for dessert.  We prepared the turkey, stuffed it and about 1:30 in the morning shoved it in the oven to roast slowly (in the traditional brown paper bag, mind you) over night. It was just like she did it. We were confident in our preparations which of course we should have been. We did everything exactly the way we has witnessed our Mom do it over the years. I still wonder why she was so surprised that we had picked up so much from helping her out in the kitchen. After all, it was exactly how she learned to cook from her mom.

Everything turned out great and we were very proud of the compliments we received all around, Jo and I for the meal and my mom for having trained her daughters well in the homemaking arts. I’m not sure how much rest she actually got because she hovered over us the whole time but it was worth it. We were proud to be able to give our mom a true day off. The only thing Mom had to do with the cooking was make the gravy.  (The process of making gravy and I are not friends to this day.) To this day it is my second favorite Thanksgiving memory. I’ll tell you about my best Thanksgiving Day ever next Thursday.


To Our Men and Women in Uniform

In one of my favorite movies "A Few Good Men" Demi Moore's character is asked why she likes the Marines she is defending so much:

To my Father, my friends and family past and present, my two granddaughters in ROTC at Tuskegee Institute and to all of those how have put on the uniform to serve...

Thank You for standing on that wall.  



A little poem crept into my mind when I opened the curtains early this morning and saw fog whisping along our street for a second day in a row:

The fog comes
on little cat feet.
It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.*

Amazing the things you remember from high school English class.  It made me homesick for November in Michigan with the turning of leaves, the cool damp mornings and my mother's kitchen.  It triggered off a nesting instinct in me which meant that the first thing I did today was to put on a pot of soup.  


In the fall and winter, I nest in my kitchen.  Cooking and baking are two of my favorite things but I had gotten out of both as my sons grew older and moved out onto their own. Picking up something fast for one on the way home after a long day at work was much easier than trying to think of what to cook for dinner. Since I’ve taken off work to return to school this last year, I find I have more time to pick back up the things I’ve let fall by the wayside and cooking for myself is one of them.

I used to make soup at least once a week when the boys were little, making full use of a very large, very well used crockpot.  Many times I would put all of the ‘fixins’ in it at night before bed on the lowest setting and be awakened the next morning to the most wonderful savory aromas. More than once on a cold morning my sons went off to school after insisting on a breakfast of homemade soup.

In the spring and summer I go for lighter broth based soups like chicken vegetable but I’ve recently been turning to heartier soups like split pea, navy bean or a hearty Italian vegetable. Today I’m making a spicy pinto bean chili which I learned from helping my mom (a great cook) in the kitchen. Mine is a little spicier than hers (I love spicy food) and I use ground turkey instead of ground beef. I still make a big pot but now I freeze a couple of individual serving for later. To go along with the chili there is a pan of homemade cornbread which I also learned to make from scratch from my mom.  Very little of that goes into the freezer because I jump on it as soon as it’s out of the oven.  

Mmmmm…warm cornbread.

I’m glad I started cooking for myself again. There is nothing I love more than the comforting aroma of a pot of soup wafting throughout the house. No matter which variety it is, it always smells like home. Does this time of year trigger a nesting instinct in you? If it does where is your favorite place to nest? I’d love to hear about it and I’d also love to hear about your favorite soup. Feel free to share the recipe.

*Carl Sandburg, Chicago Poems (1916) "Fog"
  US biographer & poet (1878 - 1967)

*Linked to:  33 Shades of Green's Tasty Tuesdays


Josephine and Marvin Sr.

I feel so blessed to have a copy of this picture. Let me introduce you to Josephine and Marvin my mother’s parents. I remember back when I was in high school (a hundred years ago) Mom pulled the original of this picture out of the cedar chest that sat at the foot of her bed.  As you may have figured out I love old family pictures and to have a portrait of Mama Jo and Marvin Daddy – well! I was over the moon about it. My mom took the original and had copies made for her three brothers and a few other family members. I’m not sure if I was given my copy or if I stole – I mean - borrowed it ala my other grandmother Mama Carrie – but that’s a post for another day.

All of my memories of Mama Jo are bookended by my strongest memory of her standing on the front porch of her house. Every summer our family would drive down to Dallas where my parents grew up to spend the last three weeks of our summer vacation. As a little kid I was always amazed to see Mama Jo standing on the front porch of her house looking for us. I wondered how long she had been standing there and how did she know we were coming up the street at that precise moment. We would tumble out of the red station wagon and scoot up the front walk as fast as our little legs would carry us. She would gather us kids all in her arms at the same and hug us so tight. I remember those hugs, those warm tight soft grandmotherly hugs and how loved and safe I felt.  Those hugs lasted forever and they were wonderful, wonderful, wonderful. There is nothing in the world like a grandmother’s hug.

Marvin Daddy spoke slow but had a strong voice, always wore a hat and called me 'baby'.  I remember he called us all ‘baby’ as far as I can remember, but we always knew which one he was calling. We’d sit on his lap or snuggled up next to him as he sat and talked with the other men in my family, my dad and my uncles until we were called into the kitchen by the women or sent outside to play. He always gave us money for the ice cream man (yay!)and bought us candy when we would ride with him to the store.  Although Mama Jo went on to be with the Lord when I was in fourth grade, Marvin Daddy was with us until I was a young married woman. One of my last memories of him was when I brought my first born son down to Dallas for him to see. He was dying from prostate cancer at that time and I wanted to make sure he saw my son. He was also so proud of my husband who was in medical school and would call him “Doc”.  Obediently my husband brought his medical bag and took Marvin Daddy’s pulse and blood pressure and listened to his heart.  My grandfather then declared to all in the room how he felt so much better now that ‘Doc’ had checked him out. 

Marvin Daddy went to join Mama Jo not long after that last visit.  I miss them both so much. The Bible says in Psalm 127 vs. 3a that “children are a heritage of the LORD…” and that is true but in my heart when I think of my wonderful grandparents I always think, grandparents are a heritage for children from the Lord like they were for me and my siblings. I love them, thank God for them and miss them all very, very much.


Carrie: A Free Woman

This beautiful woman is Miss Carrie, my grandmother.  When I refer to the historical home I live in as my grandmother’s house, this is the grandmother I’m referring to.  To the long time residents of this neighborhood, I live in Miss Carrie’s house and nine times out of ten I am referred to as ‘Miss Carrie’s oldest grandbaby. That always makes me smile. Miss Carrie or rather Mama Carrie as we called her is my father’s mother. She passed in the late 90’s and although I miss her a lot, I live surrounded by her.  I’m writing this post seated at the kitchen table where I ate breakfast with her when I was a little girl. I often drink my morning tea out of one of her china cups.  

The name Carrie means ‘a free woman’ which I find amazing because her parents, Mama Hattie and Granddaddy Seabon were born slaves. I don’t know if Mama Hattie and Granddaddy Seabon knew what the name Carrie meant when they named her but it so fits her. It is personally overwhelming to me that she was named such as a child born to parents who were born slaves.  

Mama Carrie went to school up to the eighth grade but was one of the wisest women I know when it came to finances. I asked her once if she had a credit card and she told me, “I wouldn’t have one of those infernal things.”  She believed in saving for what she wanted to buy and in buying wisely. I remember she told me once to buy the best once, then you won’t have to buy it twice.  She didn’t believe in changing out cars ever year. They would buy a good car, keep it tuned up, and drove it till it stopped.  They didn’t spend wildly but lived, dressed and ate well and supported their church with their tithes and offerings. As far as I know there was always enough to go around. Wisdom like that comes in handy for these tough financial times.

There is so much I can tell about Mama Carrie, things I recall fondly.  I tend to think about her a lot in the fall especially October. Every year she would ride the Greyhound Bus two days up to Michigan right around the fifteen to visit with us and she would always bring her heavy coat. A Southerner all her life, she didn’t like the cool temps of a Michigan fall. She always stayed for two weeks and made sure she was home in time for Halloween to pass out candy to the kids. I’m not a big supporter of Halloween, but every year, I leave my porch light on and hand out candy in her memory.  Before she would leave to go home she tell me, “Baby, make sure you get your education first. Don’t get married until you can’t do anything else.” I knew what she meant but the phrasing always made me smile.  I found out at her memorial service that she told my other two sisters the very same thing.  She was a strong believer in education especially for women. She wanted us to take advantage of what she wasn't able to.

There will more about Mama Carrie and I will be posting pictures of Mama Hattie as well. I also have pictures of my mother’s parents, Mama Josephine and Granddaddy Marvin and I’ll tell you about them. They are all wonderful people. I thank God for the rich heritage He gave our family in our forbearers.  

What are your favorite memories of your grandmother and grandfather? Please share them. I would love to about your grandparents.