Appreciation Archives

Family Tradition SHMILY

My grandparents were married for over half a century, and played their own special game from the time they had met each other. The goal of their game was to write the word “shmily” in a surprise place for the other to find. They took turns leaving “shmily” around the house, and as soon as one of them discovered it, it was their turn to hide it once more.

They dragged “shmily” with their fingers through the sugar and flour containers to await whoever was preparing the next meal. They smeared it in the dew on the windows overlooking the patio where my grandma always fed us warm, homemade pudding w/ blue food coloring. “Shmily” was written in the steam left on the mirror after a hot shower, where it would reappear bath after bath. At one point, my grandmother even unrolled an entire roll of toilet paper to leave “shmily” on the very last sheet.

There was no end to the places “shmily” would pop up. Little notes with “shmily” scribbled hurriedly were found on dashboards, and car seats, or taped to steering wheels. The notes were stuffed inside shoes and left under pillows. “Shmily” was written in the dust upon the mantel and traced in the ashes of the fireplace. This mysterious word was as much a part of my grandparents’ house as the furniture.

It took me a long time before I was able to fully appreciate my grandparents’ game. Skepticism has kept me from believing in true love one that is pure and enduring. However, I never doubted my grandparents’ relationship. They had love down pat. It was more than their flirtatious little games; it was a way of life. Their relationship was based on a devotion and passionate affection which not everyone is lucky experience.

Grandma and Grandpa held hands every chance they could. They stole kisses as they bumped into each other in their tiny kitchen. They finished each other’s sentences and shared the daily crossword puzzle and word jumble. My grandma whispered to me about how cute my grandpa was, how handsome an old he had grown to be. She claimed that she really knew “how to pick ‘em.” Before every meal they bowed their heads and gave thanks, marveling at their blessings: a wonderful family, good fortune, and each other.

But there was a dark cloud in my grandparents’ life: my grandmother had breast cancer. The disease had first appeared ten years earlier. As always, Grandpa was with her every step of the way. He comforted her in their yellow room, painted that way so that she could always be surrounded by sunshine, even when she was too sick to go outside.

Now the cancer was again attacking her body. With the help of a cane and my grandfather’s steady hand, they went to church every morning. But my grandmother grew steadily weaker until, finally, she could not leave the house anymore. For a while, Grandpa would go to church alone, praying to God to watch over his wife. Then one day, what we all dreaded finally happened. Grandma was gone.

“Shmily.” It was scrawled in yellow on the pink ribbons of my grandmother’s funeral bouquet. As the crowd thinned and the last mourners turned to leave, my aunts, uncles, cousins and other family members came forward and gathered around Grandma one last time. Grandpa stepped up to my grandmother’s casket and, taking a shaky breath, he began to sing to her. Through his tears and grief, the song came, a deep and throaty lullaby.

Shaking with my own sorrow, I will never forget that moment. For I knew that, although I couldn’t begin to fathom the depth of their love, I had been privileged to witness its unmatched beauty.

S-H-M-I-L-Y: See How Much I Love You.

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Grandparent’s Day

Grandparents Day is the first Sunday after Labor Day. It originated with Marian McQuade, a housewife in Fayette County, West Virginia. Her primary motivation was to champion the cause of lonely elderly in nursing homes. She also hoped to persuade grandchildren to tap into the wisdom and heritage their grandparents could provide. This day is celebrated every year on the first Sunday after Labor Day.  September was chosen for the holiday to signify the “autumn years” of life. This day’s purpose is to 1. To honor grandparents 2.   To give grandparents an opportunity to show love for their children’s children. 3. To help children become aware of their grandparent’s strength, information, and guidance.  This year Grandparents Day will fall on Sunday, Sept. 11th.

Few can bring the warmth
We can find in their embrace,
And little more is needed to bring love.
Than the smile on their face.
They’ve a supply of precious stories,
Yet they’ve time to wipe a tear,
Or give us reasons to make us laugh,
They grow more precious through the years.
I believe that God sent us Grandparents
As our legacy from above,
To share the moments of our life,
As extra measures of His love.
~Author Unknown.~~

Grandparents bestow upon
their grandchildren
The strength and wisdom that time
And experience have given them.
Grandchildren bless their Grandparents
With a youthful vitality and innocence
That help them stay young at heart forever.
Together they create a chain of love
Linking the past with the future.
The chain may lengthen,
But it will never part….
~~Author Unknown.~~

Grandparents and grandchildren,
Together they create a chain of love
Linking the past,
With the future.
The chain may lengthen,
But it will never part.
~~Author Unknown.~~

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• Come in early and prepare the pastor’s office for him by turning on his lights, setting the temperature, preparing FYI sticky notes and placing them his desk.
• Make sure his office is stocked with items he uses daily. (paper paper, Kleenexes, pens, paper clips, staples, bottled water, coffee, creamer, sugar, etc.)
• Keep counseling books together. If the pastor asks you to find a certain book before a counseling session, you will be able to find it quickly.
• Never ask the pastor to do something that you can do. (making or receiving phone calls, receiving and sorting mail, preventing  interruptions and attending to trivial requests, hosting unexpected guests, etc.)
• Be careful never to isolate your pastor on very important matters. Ask God to give you discernment about ways of protecting him without becoming bossy with others and isolating him from his ministry.
• Don’t waste your pastor’s time with too much conversation and giving him too many unnecessary details.
• Never come across with a know-it-all or prideful attitude.
• Never give him negative information before his messages.
• At the end of the day, clean your desk, clean office floors, empty trash in his office and yours.
• Be flexible concerning your pastor’s desires. Although you might have your day planned, he might want you to do something completely different.

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Teacher Appreciation Day

Consider having a special day to promote attendance by recognizing all teachers. (Public school, Christian school, University, etc) You could plan this day for the spring or fall.

• Announce two or three weeks in advance that the church will have a Teacher-Appreciation Sunday.
• Encourage everyone to invite a teacher for that day.
• On the special day, have all the visiting teachers sit in a reserved section. (The person who invites a teacher could sit in that section with him)
• Pastor could speak briefly about the appreciation the church has for the teachers and how difficult their jobs might be.
• Have each teacher stand, give his name and the department and class he teaches. As the teacher stands, have someone ready to present the teacher with a wrapped gift. (Gifts should be of a spiritual benefit to teachers such as a Bible, a one-volume commentary of the Bible, a Bible dictionary, or a picture with a spiritual theme)
• Pastor could then offer a prayer of dedication and thanksgiving for all the teachers.

Quotes about Teachers

Matthew 18:5 And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me.

A great teacher is a great artist; his medium is not canvas, but the human soul.

A Good Teacher is like a candle; it consumes itself to light the way for others.

The dream begins with a teacher who believes in you, who tugs and pushes and leads you to the next plateau, sometimes poking you with a sharp stick called truth.     ~Dan Rather

One looks back with appreciation to the brilliant teachers, but with gratitude to those who touched our human feelings.

The mediocre teacher tells.
The good teacher explains.
The superior teacher demonstrates.
The great teacher inspires.    ~ William A. Ward

One hundred years from now, it will not matter what my bank account was, the sort of house I lived in, or the kind of car I drove. But the world may be different because I was important in the life of a child.    ~ Forest Witcraft

When God created teachers, He gave us special friends to help us understand His world and truly comprehend the beauty and the wonder of everything we see, and become a better person with each discovery.

God understood our thirst for knowledge, and our need to be led by someone wiser;  He needed a heart of compassion, of encouragement and patience; Someone who would accept the challenge regardless of the opposition; Someone who could see potential and believe in the best in others… So He made teachers     ~ Unknown

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Ways Pastors’ Wives Can Show Their Churches Love

I just came across  Sandra Peoples’ blog, Living and Loving My Plan B Life. I would encourage you to check out her site! She has some great articles. The following is an article she wrote on October 16, 2012.

A pastor’s wife can often be her husband’s best asset or his biggest hindrance in ministry. She might see the church as her enemy–the job takes him away from her, their children, and their home. All plans are tentative, depending on what needs arise in the congregation. When pastors’ wives stop seeing themselves in a battle for his attention, they can begin partner with their husbands in ministry. Like Priscilla and Aquila, they work together to disciple and minister to others.

Here are 30 practical ways pastors’ wives can show their churches some love:
1. Pray for members specifically and often.
2. Smile, a lot.
3. Serve the church with your gifts and talents.
4. Be a willing hostess.
5. Show and tell your children’s Sunday school teachers and youth leaders how much you appreciate them.
6. Don’t always be the last one to pick up your kids from their classes or child care.
7. Don’t take the best parking spot.
8. Don’t expect youth to baby-sit for free.
9. Write cards, letters, and/or emails to members.
10. Keep confidential matters confidential.
11. You can’t do all things for all people, but be careful not to just do some things for some people.
12. Do not participate in gossip.
13. Respect your husband as the head of your family and the leader of your church.
14. Spare your friends in the church the details of your marriage, find other women to share with who are not in your church.
15. Be real about your life, family, and weaknesses.
16. Keep your home tidy (I’m not saying immaculate) for visitors.
17. Give generously of your time, money, and possessions.
18. Be visible and approachable around church.
19. Realize that some of the pressure you put on yourself is just that- self-inflicted, and not from the church.
20. Take time to feed yourself spiritually- grow in the spiritual disciplines of prayer, bible study, and worship.
21. Don’t take a job or position just because if you don’t no one else will, allow others to step up and use their gifts.
22. Get to know women in different life stages from your own and learn from them.
23. Be willing to accompany your husband on visits and in meetings so he is not alone with a woman.
24. Know your weakness and try to strengthen them. For example, read a book on counseling (like Women Helping Women by Fitzpatrick and Cornish) or hospitality.
25. Make your husband a better preacher by giving constructive suggestions at the appropriate time.
26. Keep yourself healthy.
27. Forgive and forget.
28. Keep frozen cookie dough in the freezer to bake when some one stops by the house.
29. Take care of your appearance.
30. Serve more than you expect to be served.

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Project for My Last Class-Give 3 Smiles

An Unusual Breakfast at McDonalds:

 I am a mother of three and have recently completed my college degree. The last class I had to take was Sociology. The teacher was absolutely inspiring. Her last project of the term was called, ‘Smile.’ The class was asked to go out and smile at three people and document their reactions. I am a very friendly person and always smile at everyone and say hello anyway. So, literally, I thought this would be a piece of cake.

Soon after we were assigned the project, my husband, youngest son, and I went out to McDonald’s one crisp March morning. It was just our way of sharing special playtime with our son. We were standing in line, waiting to be served, when all of a sudden everyone around us began to back away, and then even my husband did. I did not move an inch ….. An overwhelming feeling of panic welled up inside of me as I turned to see why they had moved. As I turned around I smelled a horrible ‘dirty body’ smell, and there standing behind me were two poor homeless men. As I looked down at the short gentleman, close to me, he was ‘smiling.’ His beautiful sky blue eyes were full of God’s Light as he searched for acceptance He said, ‘Good day’ as he counted the few coins he had been clutching. The second man fumbled with his hands as he stood behind his friend. I realized the second man was mentally challenged and the blue-eyed gentleman was his salvation. I held my tears as I stood there with them. The young lady at the counter asked him what they wanted. He said, ‘Coffee is all Miss’ because that was all they could afford.  (If they wanted to sit in the restaurant and warm up, they had to buy something.  He just wanted to be warm.) Then I really felt it – the compulsion was so great I almost reached out and embraced the little man with the blue eyes. That is when I noticed all eyes in the restaurant were set on me, judging my every action. I smiled and asked the young lady behind the counter to give me two more breakfast meals on a separate tray. I then walked around the corner to the table that the men had chosen as a resting spot. I put the tray on the table and laid my hand on the blue-eyed gentleman’s cold hand.

He looked up at me, with tears in his eyes, and said, ‘Thank you.’ I leaned over, began to pat his hand and said, ‘I did not do this for you. God is here working through me to give you hope.’ I started to cry as I walked away to join my husband and son ….when I sat down my husband smiled at me and said, ‘That is why God gave you to me, Honey, to give me hope.’ We held hands for a moment and at that time, we knew that only because of the Grace that we had been given were we able to give.  That day showed me the pure Light of God’s sweet love.

I returned to college, on the last evening of class, with this story in hand. I turned in ‘my project’ and the instructor read it. Then she looked up at me and said,  ‘Can I share this?’ I slowly nodded. She got the attention of the class began to read it aloud. I suddenly realized that, in my own way, I had touched the people at McDonald’s, my son, the instructor, and every soul that shared the classroom on the last night I spent as a college student. I graduated with one of the biggest lessons that I would ever learn.   

That lesson was UNCONDITIONAL ACCEPTANCE. Love and compassion are sent to each and every person. We all must learn to LOVE PEOPLE AND USE THINGS – NOT LOVE THINGS AND USE PEOPLE.   Many people will walk in and out of our lives, but only true friends will leave their footprints in our hearts.

(Copied- author unknown)

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When I receive a thank-you note from a child, it makes me respect his parents even more for taking the time to teach that child to be thankful.   It is never too early to teach  a child to write a thank-you note.

For many years, my mother sent each of her children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren a small monetary gift  in cards for their birthdays and in Christmas cards. Because the amounts were very small, none of the children bothered to send her thank-you notes. In my mother’s later years, she lost her sight, and she could no longer send those cards. I  recently was visiting with my mother,  and she shared with me that my granddaughter had sent her a Christmas card, and in that Christmas card, my granddaughter thanked my mother for all those years that she had sent her birthday and Christmas cards. That small expression of thankfulness from my my granddaughter was a real encouragement to my mother.

I read an illustration of a woman who received a sweater from her aunt. This woman failed to send her aunt a quick thank-you note as soon as she received the sweater. Since the woman was somewhat of a perfectionist and wanted to write a perfect note, she postponed writing it. As the weeks passed, she began to worry about how to word her late thank-you. She began to think, “What will my aunt think of me for not writing sooner?” By  postponing writing the thank-you note to her aunt, she felt guilty and dreaded writing it.

Writing thank-you notes  does not have to be difficult. Sometimes we put off writing them, because we do not know what to say. Our words do not need to sound formal,  but they should express our feelings of thankfulness.  Here are a few tips to remember when writing  a quick thank-you note.

• Keep a supply of paper, cards, postcards, and envelopes near your desk.

• Hand write thank-you notes unless your handwriting is illegible.

•  Send a thank-you to someone who does something nice for you such as treating you to a meal or taking you to the airport.

• Send thank-you notes within two weeks. Even if the note is late, always attempt to send one.

• Thank-you notes do not have to be long but they should be sincere, specific, concise, clear, and positive.

• Always mention the gift and your plan to use it.

• Teach children as soon as they can write to send thank-you notes for gifts.

Always send thank-you notes for wedding gifts. (Try to send within three months)

• If someone mails you a gift, mail a thank-you within two to three days. The sender will want to know that their gift arrived safely.

• If you receive flowers of condolences after a death, always send a thank-you.

• If you receive a birthday, Christmas, or shower gift, send a thank-you within two or three days.

• Send a thank-you to someone who helps, provides food, or gives you a gift during an illness.

• When you stay overnight in a home or a mission’s apartment, leave a thank-you note in the home or apartment before you leave.

• To thank good friends or close family members after you have stayed in their home or enjoyed a nice meal, you can give a thank-you phone call or email, but it is always good to send a card.

• Leave a small gift with a thank-you note if you stay with family or friends more than one night.

• Consider sending informal cyber thank-you cards with personal notes. Although if you receive a beautiful gift with a hand-written letter, do not send a quick e-mail; respond with a nice handwritten thank-you.

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Although there is not a pastor’s wife description in the Bible, many churches have high expectations for her.   She is expected to be the perfect wife, be a teacher and home school her children,  be the church secretary, be a friend to everyone (but  never have a best friend) , coordinate all the church events, organize women’s ministry activities and banquets, coordinate wedding showers and weddings, organize and host baby showers, and  organize and prepare meals for those who have had deaths or serious illnesses in their families.  Many of these expectations are unfair and unbiblical.

All pastor’s wives are different.  Some are introverts, while others are extroverts.  Some love having guests in their homes, while others shutter at the thought of it. Some can sing and play an instrument, but there are those who can’t sing or play an instrument. Some love to teach women,  yet some find it very difficult to stand in front of women and speak.  God has gifted each pastor’s wife with different gifts and strengths. When church members place unrealistic expectations on their pastor’s wife, these expectations can make a pastor’s wife think she is inadequate for the position, and feel like she is a failure in her duties. The most important thing you can do for your pastor’s wife  is to have realistic expectations for her.

Here are some realistic expectations you can should have  for your pastor’s wife.

  • To love the Lord
  • To love and respect her husband
  • To use the gifts the Lord has given  her to serve Him
  • To train her children to love the Lord
  • To cultivate in her children’s lives their God-given gifts,  so that they can use their gifts to serve and glorify the Lord in the church

The world and the devil are full of discouragers.  Look for some way this week to encourage your pastor’s wife.  A small act of kindness could make all the difference in the world to her.

Here are a few ways to encourage your pastor’s wife.

  • Have realistic expectations for her
  • Pray for her—the demands are great!
  • Give her a small gift to show your appreciation for her service
  • Mail her an encouraging note
  • Give her words of affirmation when you talk with her
  • Text her and let her know that you are praying for her
  • Take her out for coffee or lunch
  • Do something nice for her children


The Preacher’s Wife

You may think it quite an easy task
And just a pleasant life
But really it takes a lot of grace
To be a preacher’s wife.
She’s suppose to be a paragon
Without a fault in view,
A saint when in the parsonage
As well as in the pew.
Her home must be a small hotel
For folks that chance to roam,
And yet have peace and harmony—
The perfect preacher’s home!
Whenever groups are called to meet,
Her presence must be there,
And yet the members all agree
She should live a life of prayer.
Though hearing people’s burdens,
Their grief both night and day,
She’s supposed to spread the sunshine
To those along the way.
She must lend a sympathetic ear
To every tale of woe,
And then forget about it,
Lest it to others go.
Her children must be models rare
Of quietness and poise,
But still stay on the level
With other girls and boys.
You may think it quite an easy task,
And just a pleasant life,
But really it takes a lot of grace
To be a preacher’s wife!

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Appreciating Your Pastors

October has been designated as Pastor Appreciation Month. Usually the second Sunday of October is the day that many congregations show their pastors how much they appreciate them.

 I Thessalonians 5:12,13 And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; And to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. And be at peace among yourselves.

To honor a pastor is not so much about honoring the person, but it is about honoring the dignity of his office. Although some church members highly esteem pastors who carnally please them, the Bible says that church members should highly esteem all pastors in love for the work that they do. Esteeming or honoring a pastor has more to do with showing great respect for the office that he holds.

Although a wealthy church down the road might be able to send their pastor and his wife on a Caribbean Cruise or buy them a new car to show their appreciation does not mean that your church has do the same. There are smaller ways during the year to show your love and appreciation. It is nice to remember their family on special days.  Nothing will thrill your pastor and his wife more than knowing that their church family is concerned about their children.

My husband and I helped a small church a few years ago. On Pastor’s Appreciation Sunday, they called us forward and presented us with a card that had cash in it. That token of appreciation meant as much to us as an extravagant gift, because it showed us how much they truly appreciated our service to them.

One missionary wife wrote me and shared what her church did to honor their pastor and his family.

One year for Pastor Appreciation Month, we did something different each Sunday of the month. One Sunday, we honored his children with some gifts. Another Sunday we honored his wife with a new dress and sent them out to her favorite restaurant. The final Sunday was the big finale. We had scheduled months in advance to have their grown children with us on Sunday. We put them up in a hotel so that they would not know about it. We hired a photographer to come in after Sunday morning and take pictures of the whole family. We then sent them out to lunch. Our pastor and his wife talked about that Appreciation month until the day the Lord took them home. It was special time for them and for us!

Tips for Showing Your Pastor and Wife Appreciation

  • If your pastor plays golf, purchase a gift card from his favorite golf course.
  • Present a candle with a card saying “Thank you for lighting the way in our lives.”
  • Leave a bag of gold chocolate coins with a note saying, “You are worth your weight in gold to us.”
  • Leave box of Andes mints or peppermint patties with note saying, “Your service is worth a mint to us!”
  • Buy a clock and present it from the pulpit saying, “Thank you for all the time that you sacrifice for us.”
  • Present the pastor with a new shirt with a note saying, We know that you would give the shirt off your back to anyone in need… so here’s an extra one for the next time you give your all.”
  • Buy a plant with a note saying, “Thank you for helping us to grow spiritually.”
  • If the pastor has children, give him and his wife a gift card to a restaurant and a paid night of babysitting.
  • Send an electronic greeting card thanking them for their love and service to the church.   
  • Place a Mounds candy bar Place a Mounds candy bar with a Mountain Dew soda on a pastor or staff member’s desk with a note saying, ‘”Mounds of thanks for all you Dew.”
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