Monday, December 30, 2013

my dad's bedroom

Today I had the privilege of serving my parents by cleaning their house.

Mom's recovery is going excellent - but, she's still supposed to not lift or bend down as much as possible.  So, in order for them to host all of us on New Year's I went to clean for them.

I recently showed pictures on facebook of one of their Bible's and how worn out it was - but this time I found something on dad's night stand that represents his lifetime priorities more than nearly anything else.

Remember these (for those of you who grew up in the church)?  His offering envelopes.

Dad's Bible and Offering Envelopes
I NEVER heard he or mom complain about giving to the church growing up.  Even on the weeks that I heard them quietly discussing which bill to pay and which to make a partial payment on.  It was always given cheerfully, it was always a commitment and it was always top priority.

Now that our son and daughter-in-law have a baby, I have heard them voice their concern about teaching their son how to be obedient and grow up well.

Thinking about the most important things to consider in raising a child in the way they should go, number 1 is of course to model what you believe and introduce them to Christ.  No empty words spoken by parents that don't live what they teach will ever influence a child, except perhaps to confuse them and frustrate them ultimately leading to a life of disobedience and heartache.

And perhaps no area of obedience is more important than to demonstrate to them how to honor God with their finances and priorities.

My parents never had a college education, never had jobs considered by people to be extraordinary, but all their work, and their giving and their investments are eternal investments - their reward awaits them in heaven!  And their legacy will far outlive them!

Saturday, December 28, 2013

packing up Christmas

As soon as Christmas services draw to an end, presents are opened, meals are devoured and kisses say farewell - it's time to begin packing up Christmas.

I spent today cleaning and carrying the final things to the attic including this years cards.  They contain the words our friends wrote to us - telling us they love us and wishing us a Merry Christmas - the words that were part of the rush to get ready.  The words are tucked in our hearts, and the cards are now tucked in the attic in a bag that I'll pull out again in 330 days or so helping me to remember who to send cards to next year.

We worked Friday to tuck away any remaining details left over from our Christmas services at Crossroads too - ornaments are down, instruments not needed for the weekend put away, platforms stuck backstage and posters thrown away.

Those of us involved in the preparation of Christmas at Crossroads have no way of knowing if our work has made a difference in people's lives but as I packed up Christmas here, I prayed that God had used the hours of our work.  I prayed that it brought glory to Him!

Every year as I pack up after Christmas, I try to remember what fills my work days compared to the hustle to prepare Christmas.  And then as I sit down in my office, I see the emails and coming weekends that need to be programmed, and instantly am once again consumed with regular.  And after Christmas regular is most welcomed!

There is no sadness that it is over for another year, instead I am filled with wonder at the way God allows all of us regular people  - to all come together and create another Christmas at Crossroads.  And I thank Him again for His son as I move comfortably back into normal and begin planning and dreaming about how to turn it into extraordinary in Him!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

just a glimpse

I thought I would give you all just a glimpse of what you'll see at the Crossroads services this week!

There are still 3 BEHOLD services left - tonight, tomorrow Dec 23 and Tuesday, Dec 24 all identical and all
@ 7:00 p.m.             We sure hope to see you there!

a gift bag for each child in attendance

Friday, December 20, 2013

traveling dad stories

Today as I drove with my dad to visit my mom in the hospital, the stories flowed and I wanted to get them down in writing before they slip away…
Russ Forbes - one of the best men on earth

He was the driver for the Chief Warrant Officer in the army.  He told me tales of a cocky sergeant that one day told dad he was no longer the driver.  The Chief Warrant Officer called the sergeant out in front of the whole division and stood nose to nose with him and loudly announced that HE would let him know when and if 'Forbes' was relieved of driving duty!

Another time he was laying on the wing of an officer's bi-winged plane guarding the airport when a guy known to be a prankster - tried to sneak up on dad by turning the lights off on his jeep and quietly coasting up to the plane.  Dad seeing them coming slid off the wing, cocked his M1 30 caliber rifle and yelled 'halt' the guys about had a heart attack and quickly identified themselves.

He had 7 straight bull eyes shooting from the prone position over and over - a sergeant bent down and told dad, "if you keep shooting like that son, they're going to make you a sniper."  From that point on dad shot at other peoples targets and tried to shoot at the red flags the guys down below in the pit waved to indicate misses.

Another time he was the guard for the prison compound and paid a guy $20 to take his place one night.  The guy left his post, his rifle, and took an unauthorized jeep to the PX to buy booze.  The Captain jumped all over dad for paying someone to take his shift and the other guy got  thrown into the brig - court-martialed on 7 charges and sentenced to 30 years in prison- all of this just 30 days short of being discharged.

In preparation for being shipped out for combat in Korea dad had a dentist appointment.  The dentist tried to pull a wisdom tooth - he ended up cracking his jaw and allowing him never to have to face war!  The down side was a liquid diet for 4 months in the hospital and then they kept his mouth wired shut too long making it impossible to open his mouth and eat - forcing another doctor to stick his hand in his mouth and jerk open his bottom jaw.  Now he couldn't shut his mouth!   Maybe war wasn't such a bad deal after all!

While recovering from his jaw they couldn't stop his bleeding.  He asked his buddy on the lower bunk if he could sleep down there so he could get out of bed easier, his friend agreed and proceeded to spend the evening in the PX drinking.  In the middle of the night forgetting he was now on the top bunk, he got up to use the restroom and did a face plant on the floor beside my dad.  He climbed up and said, "BLEEP Forbes - what happened??!"

I love my dad and I LOVE his tales!  He still remembers everything!   I definitely didn't inherit his memory!!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

happy and sad

Is it possible to be both happy and sad at the same time?  I think I am…

I am SO happy and blessed to have our son Eric in our Christmas production this year at Crossroads!!  I told Pastor Tim today - wait until your kids become adults and they start to lead YOU in church.  It's just something that's indescribable!

At the same time I am missing our daughter and her husband more than I can possibly describe!  I don't understand why the Christmas holiday makes me so homesick for them?  Our family gets together constantly so it's not like we only do at the holidays…I guess it does hold special memories.

With my mom facing surgery this Thursday I have to remember that it's an unusual Christmas anyway. A Christmas of

Monday, December 16, 2013

Christmas takes preparing

Tonight we were at Crossroads preparing for Christmas, preparing for you!

Our prayer before rehearsal was for God to use our preparations, our rehearsals to honor Him and to use us to help tell His story to someone who doesn't know Him-  the story of the Savior!

I would really appreciate your prayers for our teams as we prepare this week.  The team is made up of amazing people that love the Lord and love to use their talents to serve Him.

Here's just a glimpse of BEHOLD!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Crossroads at it's most amazing

Adopt-A-Child is happening right now at Crossroads!  Many think this is just a chance to meet the physical needs of some of Richland County's most needy children which is EXTREMELY needed but unless you attend this event you miss seeing and feeling how God is honored in this, and how far reaching this event is.

I have to give a shout out to one of my closest friends and one of Crossroads greatest assets!  Darlene Rudrick heads up our Missions area both local, national and international while working a full-time job!   She has one of the greatest 'Jesus views' of people that I've ever known.  She sees people as God sees them - never judgmental, never caring what it costs her physically, mentally or spiritually.  she challenges me with her life!

During Adopt-A-Child we send people home with gifts for children who may not otherwise have Christmas - we send people home with gifts that may have entitlement attitudes - we send people out that may be walking through the doors of a church for the first time - and we send people out that accepted the Lord while here, whose lives just changed forever.

You see it doesn't matter if we're thanked, or met with excitement, we do this out of obedience to the Savior that came as a child so that we could accept this precious gift - the ultimate gift of eternal life!

This morning one of our volunteers got to lead a young adult woman to the Lord!  i immediately ran to the cookie room and told all the volunteers' there that their serving allows them to share in the eternal celebration!  They said, "that's true, we're one big team no matter what our 'job' is at the Adopt-A-Child event"!  Awesome to see that realization come across their faces …

We are here until 3:00 or 4:00 today - stop in or call the Crossroads office and ask how and when you can help!!

 I wanted to show you some pictures of our day here at crossroads…

Crossroads auditorium

every gift is placed in gift bags

a precious time of prayer with all the volunteers

Eric - Alyssa and Oliver chatting with a young mother who came for her babies' gifts
This makes me more proud than anything they could do!

precious hand-made tags by a dear lady on every single package

Monday, December 9, 2013

my day off

This weekend was one of the very first weekend's I've taken off from Crossroads in 15 years and just spent the day at home.  Although I have to admit the reason I took the week off was in case my mom needed me additional nights following her surgery last week.  She didn't, so I just watched our services from home.  We are blessed with amazing praise and tech teams indeed!

Today I just have a few cards to finish and I continue the journey through time by capturing all my family's videos on my computer to create DVDs for Christmas for everyone.

Brother, talk about reliving the past!

God blessed us by making it possible for us to sell our first little house and purchase a double that we could rent one side of - allowing me to be home with our kids.  This was priceless.

Day after day I could let them sleep in, and run around the house in pjs or just diapers.  I video taped a whole lot!   As I watched videos of Eric chattering and laughing as a 2 yr. old in the tub, and listened as Jocelyn sang her way through every room of the house, memories came flooding back.  My life is moving fast.  And my kids are moving even faster!

I ache for lost friends that ONLY have this life.  That only have these memories.

All of us that God has extended grace to in the form of a Savior, we are the blessed ones.  We understand that this is temporary in a very good way, not sad way.  We live life to the fullest not in the way the world does - but using our memories, our past good or bad,  to grow closer to Him and move toward Him.

As I write my final few Christmas cards this morning, that's what Merry Christmas means to me.

The future, not the past.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

what I learned today

It seemed fitting to read Luke 1 today before I finished (hopefully) all the creative details of Crossroads' Christmas services.

Out of the whole passage what caught my attention was a portion of Mary's conversation with Elisabeth.

Over and over again in the Bible God talks about the needy, the humble, the servants when all the world values are the complete opposite characteristics.

Luke 1: 51-53
"He has shown strength with his arm; 
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts;
he has brought down the mighty from their thrones
and exalted those of humble estate;
he has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty."

Mary knew who she carried in her womb and she knew what God's promises were for the coming Messiah - what he would do for His people.  She rejoiced!

Can you imagine being the parent of a child that had been written about for years and years before his birth?  Everyone that read the scriptures knew what was promised.  Sadly many didn't believe Jesus was the Messiah, mainly perhaps because He didn't come the way they thought He would.

They expected a mighty King - someone who would overthrow evil earthly kingdoms and lead His people strongly.  Did they make up their own version of what the Messiah would be?

Just as the scriptures discuss above, it's the humble and the hungry He ministered to and worked through.  The healed witnessed to others, the shepherd boy killed giants, the widows last mite was used to demonstrate to generations that followed what our hearts should be like in order to really give.

The proud - even the proud spiritual leaders of the day refused to except a baby born of a human mother who quietly lead most of the time.

God's way of overthrowing governments and evil is to usually use an unlikely man or woman.  Someone who is powerless in the world's eyes.  Or someone who has been reduced to nothing in order to be used.

I try to see Him through all that I have and most of the time I don't see Him clearly.  It's difficult to need a Savior when you have all that you need now.  The humble, needy and sick need Him immediately - with no effort they see He is their only salvation.

Perspective comes when I quietly and honestly look at how fast my life is passing and ask myself -
"will anything I've done or bought or spent my time doing withstand the scrutiny of eternity?"

Monday, December 2, 2013

my day off

I actually have several days of vacation left so I am taking them this week before all the surgeries begin.

Before my day started I sat down to begin reading the scripture that Pastor Tim will base his next series on.  I wanted to refresh my memory with the passages so that I can prepare to focus on what's next after Christmas.

As I walked to my living room to read, I noticed how foggy it was outside.  My Christmas tree cast tiny sparkling lights on the window against a foggy backdrop.

One of the verses read, "The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it."

It just confounds me how often God gives me a physical example to support His Words when I focus and pay attention!

Despite the fog, the darkness - His son came - The light overcame the darkness….

I cannot wait for Pastor Tim to systematically teach us these truths after Christmas.

My day off started perfectly and I'm convinced I accomplished a ton because I gave Him my first moments - my best most focused moments!  Why I don't ALWAYS give Him first place in my life I have no idea !

He waits for me to reach out of this darkness - to reach toward the Light so that I follow Him through my days, not my own earthly agenda...

Sunday, December 1, 2013

weekend report

Nothing, Nothing, Nothing better than being in the house of the Lord !

I'm thankful for another amazing weekend with my brothers and sisters!  Instead of writing I thought I'd just show you all the worship that was going on!  Setlist is at the bottom of page!  Enjoy!
Main Auditorium

student ministry
video booth

audio booth
just one of our children's rooms

coffee house

Our Setlist:

The Lord Reigns
As We Pray
Lord I Need You
Revelation Song
Message:  Famous People You Should Know Pt. 4 Naaman:  Sr. Pastor Tim Armstrong
Ending Special:  Worn

To watch our services online go to

To see what other ministries used in their services go to

I pray your week is full of blessings!

Friday, November 29, 2013

again today

Of course there was reason today to eat more - leftovers!  So back we went to Grandma Gatton's to chow down even more calories!

It was a lovely day, sleeping in, casually strolling through some stores wanting nothing except to be out and then to eat…and eat…until nothing was left.

Here are the rest of our pictures full of love and food!

Ron's side of the family!

Day 2 of feasting

Dana and Sue - two of our favorite Crossroadians!

Grandma Gatton and Cousin Nick and Oliver.

Aunt Anne and Oliver

such a big tummy pants won't stay closed!

Oliver entertaining everyone!

The Perez family from Crossroads!

Vern - all pooped out!

new Thanksgivings

For our family there were many new Thanksgivings this year.

We were missing a daughter and son-in-law, this was new - they never miss our family holidays.

We added 6 new faces to our Thanksgiving.  The Perez family, celebrated with us - one of favorite new families from Crossroads!

And a most amazing new addition is our precious Oliver!

I will never quit praising the Lord for our family, for His provisions and for the opportunities He gives all of our kids.

Today Aaron and Jocelyn spent time with a group that invited them to observe ancient instruments being played in Siem Reap Cambodia.  Aaron was invited to play an instrument that only 3 people in the world know how to play.  And the group is asking them to return to help notate out the music for the first time ever.  My understanding is that music has never been written for these instruments and they have never been recorded!  Unbelievable opportunities!
my amazing son-in-law Aaron

My son Eric on left - who is the most amazing father I've ever seen!  (Ok, maybe the
only other ones as good are my hubby and dad!)

I loved every minute today with our families.
All 4 of these guys are huge parts of my life!

I will never take them for granted.

They're Godly, they're hilarious, and they're really good cooks!

One of my biggest thanksgivings today was that my mom was well, and happy and confident in her Lord for whatever lies ahead.

A special thankfulness seeing my mom
who is soon to face several surgeries, enjoying time
with Oliver her first great-grandson!
I'm also thankful that for the first time there is absolutely nothing I care about standing in line for on Black Friday!

I pray that all of you had a blessed day!!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

I'm often distracted

I probably get the most frustrated with myself when I get distracted.  Facebook, Twitter etc I can turn off.

My distractions are often things that cross my path that are none of my business, but I make them my business by trying to solve problems or asking dumb questions when I have PLENTY to do right in front of me.  It's often shocking to remember the world can survive without me managing everything…

recently I've had to confess to the Lord that I'm dwelling on things that feel unfair.

Like how our kids are working like crazy to pay baby bills and to secure a future for themselves while others we know similar in age choose not to marry, not to work and let the government pay for baby, send them to college free and put food on their tables, food that they are physically more then capable of working for.

Now with my mom's illness I can go down that path again.  She's loved the Lord and served Him faithfully her entire life - why cancer - feels unfair.  Then I realize how that line of thought must cause the Lord to be so disappointed in me.  Because if I had His Words hidden in my heart I would remember that the greatest reward for a life well lived is to be in His presence.  To be spared from evil here on earth.

To stand in front of Him and hear "well down my good and faithful servant" coming out of his mouth should make it the deepest desire of my heart, to get out of here, to be present with Him.

But the distractions of my life here on earth tantalize my attention away from Him - away from a deep understanding of how pale all of this is in comparison to Him.

My prayer today is for singular focus, and that I'll have an unquenchable desire for Him that deadlines, and gossip, and problems can't cause me to be distracted.

  1. extreme agitation of the mind or emotions.
    synonyms:frenzy, hysteria, mental distress, madness, insanity, mania;

Thursday, November 21, 2013

things that matter

We can spend the precious minutes of our day investing in things that are eternal or things that are temporary.

I cleaned out my purse & wallet and removed the receipts that I knew I had no need to keep and tossed them in this metal box.

When I re-entered the room later it dawned on me that each receipt represents minutes of my life that I traded for whatever it was I purchased.

First I worked for the money that bought the items, then I spent time shopping in order to buy them and finally spent time sorting through all the items in my purse and wallet in order to dispose of them.

I wondered if anything on those receipts was really worth having and how much more of an eternal way the money could have been used?  Probably nothing on them was even an actual need.

Later today I was at my parents home.

My mom was just diagnosed with uterine cancer.  After dinner I walked to the couch and noticed her Bible on the table.
The pages were very worn - she had placed tabs on the different books of the Bible to make finding the desired passage easier.

Every time her fingers have touched those pages it's an eternal touch.  Minutes that count for eternity as she studies and applies the truths from God to her life.  These minutes make up the life of the amazing woman she is.

And now all the times she's read those well worn pages they'll come back to lift my parents through this nervous time of surgery and evaluation.

The God that created her knows every cell of her body and loves her more than any of us ever have because He is her eternal Father.

The things we buy, they things we love, the things we give in exchange for those precious fleeting minutes of our days must count for eternity...  or they don't count at all.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

what I learned today

I learned that things change quickly!

My mom had some tests done that we didn't expect to have results from until next week.  They want her to come in the morning to talk to the doctor.  We shall see…

I had my carpal tunnel evaluation today - my right hand is serious.  Would like to have surgery right way.

And then good things happened.

Oliver smiled at me.
Vern didn't whine when I ate food in front of him.
Aaron and Jocelyn face timed with us twice!  And, while I talked to them they played me a song that they had just written.  It was amazing!

God is good ALL the time.

Everything we go through draws us to Him.

I face whatever tomorrow brings with strength only available to us from the God who created us and cares more about us then we can ever understand.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

weekend report

Our praise team came well prepared, ready to worship and ready to lead the congregation to the throne!

Pastor Tim taught a great message - I heard several people teasing one another about NOT being the kind of person he taught about. They listened.

Following the services I sat and worked for a little while with Steve our Tech Coordinator on a few more Christmas details - we talked about the fact that this will be our 11th Christmas service working together and that we served at several prior to those as volunteers.  A blessing to have such a strong dedicated team!

Our setlist:

Alive In You
Always Will
All He Says I Am
Pastoral Prayer - Wendell Anderson
Crown Him
All My Fountains
Message:  Famous People You Should Know Pt. 2 - Senior Pastor Tim Armstrong
Exit Song:  All My Fountains

To watch our service go to

To see what other ministries used in their services go to

Have a blessed week!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

what I learned today

Exodus 35:35 & 36 ESV
He has filled them with skill to do every sort of work done by an engraver or by a designer or by an embroiderer in blue and purple and scarlet yarns and fine twined linen, or by a weaver--by any sort of workman or skilled designer.

"Bezalel and Oholiab and every craftsman in whom the LORD has put skill and intelligence to know how to do any work in the construction of the sanctuary shall work in accordance with all that the LORD has commanded."

The only place I feel like I really fully concentrate and dream of what God has intended - is at home on my couch.  With views like the glorious snow today - my breath is taken away and my thankfulness for life in Him accelerates!
my view as I pray

When I 'go' to work, it's spent communicating things that need to be discussed, bouncing ideas off one another about how to do something better, encouraging one another and constantly working out the details - which is exactly what we're supposed to accomplish 'at work'.  But I can't often fully develop an idea or move on a God inspired thought - too busy there.  Isn't that ironic?

I HAVE to complete the bones of our Christmas services today in order to present them to the team - only after the bones are committed to - do the details and creative pieces get pursued!  Pressure, if I except that - but what I plan to do today (with your prayer) is sit and let God use my ears to listen and my thoughts to form around the message He wants to use us to communicate.  There is nothing self-pleasing in this process - or God cannot work.  I place my attention fully on Him right now and only dream of what He could choose to do through our services in people's lives.

The Christmas services will be called


Sunday, November 10, 2013

weekend report

So proud of our Crossroads teams this weekend.

As I came into the building last night and went to prepare for the service -

I looked down at the 'order of service details' laying in my office and was struck by the realization of how many man hours go into each sentence, each video cue, lighting cue, each one of the 7 pages of information - the timing involved in bringing in each lyric listed and was so filled with thankfulness for our staff and volunteers that help us each weekend to pull off - what we put in writing - what God helps us to dream up.

Our amazing hostess team leader had coffee brewing as the music rehearsal started in the auditorium.  I love the smell of brewing coffee - nothing says welcome like that does!  A small detail but so important - a part of our DNA at Crossroads.

Outside of the area I oversee - the volunteers in our children's and student ministry areas had hundreds of children/students this weekend that they taught from God's Word.

Our Adopt-A-Child Christmas project kicked off this weekend too with 168 of our 500 kids already adopted!  I LOVE our GoMissions team!

And how encouraged I was as I watched our praise team worship, not just lead worship, but worship their Savior themselves!  The congregation resounded with some of the loudest singing I've heard in quite some time!  So thankful to be part of this community!

Our Setlist:

Our Setlist:

Video announcements
God Is With Us Now
To Live Is Christ - written by our worship leader Milo
The Whole Earth
Message:  Famous People You Should Know Pt. 1 Absalom  -  Sr Pastor Tim Armstrong
Exit Song:  Cornerstone

To watch our services go to

To see what other ministries included in their set lists go to