Aunties M & Em

Thoughts on Faith, Family, Food, & Fun!

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Why I Don’t Go to Church

I know the title of this article may surprise and shock many friends and relatives. But the truth is, I haven’t gone to church in a very long time.cross in tetons cropped

I believe in God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.  Jesus is my savior and I know that someday when I die, I will go to heaven and live with him forever.  I’m a Christian.

As a child, I was born into the church, baptized, attended Sunday school and vacation bible school, was in youth group, and sang in the choir.

As an adult, I was active in the church, taught Sunday school, vacation bible school, and children’s church, directed the choir, and led praise and worship.

Hubby and I wanted this for our family, too. So we raised our children in the church where they were baptized, attended Sunday school and vacation bible school, were in the youth group, and attended church camp.

If the church doors were open, we were there.

So what happened? Why don’t we go to church?

We got burned out. Sorry if this sounds lame to some that have never experienced it, but pretty much plain and simple, we got burned out.

If it were only from not being able to say, “No”, we would have gotten over it a long time ago. And believe me, we have tried to go back to church from time to time over the years.

We got burned out on people, especially those in leadership, who said they were Christians but treated others judgmentally and even harshly…in the name of Jesus. People who preached love, but their actions were anything but loving. I realize no one is perfect and I don’t expect perfection. But love and acceptance isn’t that hard of a concept.

So, what brings all this to mind today? What is fueling the anger and hurt so much that I just have to write about it?

I have been wanting to try going to church again and have made plans to visit one in the very near future.  This morning I thought, “Let’s watch a local church service (a different church than where we’re going to visit) that is on TV and see what God has for us today.”  I chose one that I’ve watched before and thought was good.

The sermon was interesting, but then the preacher got to the closing prayer. It has always irritated me when preachers offer up a prayer that is really another little sermon. A little sermon prayer that contains verbiage they wouldn’t say to the people directly, but somehow think it’s OK to put it in a prayer. Well, in this sermon prayer this preacher was praying for our country (that’s OK) and then…he started praying against the “evils of Islam.”  The what?  He called Isalm the anti-christ because they don’t accept Jesus as anything more than a teacher.

I’m sorry (not sorry) but that is wrong. It came out of ignorance and was meant to incite fear and prejudice, all framed in the guise of a prayer.

Loving others means accepting those with whom you disagree and it means praying for them. Many (or most) so-called Christian preachers and other church leaders just don’t get it.

Here’s what Jesus had to say about it from Matthew 5:43-44: “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor. (Leviticus 19:18) Hate your enemy.’ But here is what I tell you. Love your enemies. Pray for those who hurt you.

Referring back to the sermon prayer I heard this morning, if the preacher had prayed for terrorism to come to an end and/or for protection from terrorism; even if he had mentioned Islamic extremists by name…I wouldn’t have been so upset.  To vilify an entire peaceful religion because of an extremist sect is wrong. It’s like saying all of Christianity is evil because of Westboro Baptist Church and others like them.

This morning’s preacher could use a review of Matthew 5:44.  I also realize that Jesus’ words here are for all of us, including me, so I’m going to pray for him to gain a deeper understanding of love, Jesus style.

Will I visit another church? Yes, I will.

Will I be disappointed in so-called Christians who use their religion to hurt others?  Yes, I will. My faith is in God, not people.

Pray for others. Love them…all of them.

Remember that home is where the heart is, and there’s no place like home!
Auntie M

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I Believe


John and I are anxiously waiting for our Believe t-shirts to arrive. These shirts were designed to be worn in support of Dominic’s other grandma, GBelieve w Dominicrandma Debbie, who is dealing with breast cancer. We chose orange t-shirts to support awareness for kidney cancer which my mother, Dominic’s Grammy, is dealing with (she’s also a breast cancer survivor). We also wear the t-shirts to honor Dominic’s Mama, Jessi, a thyroid cancer survivor.

I believe that cancer sucks.

Thinking about the Believe t-shirts got me to thinking about what else I believe in.  Here is a list of some of the things I came up with.

1.  I repeat… I believe that cancer sucks.

2.  I believe in God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.

3.  I believe that every life, born or unborn, is precious and deserves to be loved, nurtured, and cared for.

4.  I believe we should spay, neuter, rescue, and adopt animals that have no home.

5.  I believe less talking and more listening would solve a lot of problems.

6.  I believe we should tell our family (and our friends like family) that we love them; and we should say it every day.

7.  I believe we should speak a blessing on our children and on our spouse when we part ways in the morning.  A simple “God bless your day!” may make all the difference.

8.  I believe singing and laughter are important parts of each and every day.

9.  I believe in having breakfast for supper, leftover birthday cake for breakfast, and ice cream at any time of the day!

10.  I believe that children are precious gifts from God. We must love them and protect them always. We must remember that they learn by doing and accidents happen…the old adage, “It’s no use crying over spilled milk,” is really, really true. Relax and enjoy!

11.  I believe that trust in God and the love and support of family (and friends like family) can help us get through just about anything.

12.  I believe that a positive outlook is important for health and well-being.  If circumstances are dire and it’s hard to be positive, see #11.

13.  Lastly, I believe in the power of prayer. And that cancer sucks. Let’s all pray for a cure.

Remember that home is where the heart is, and there’s no place like home!
Auntie M


On becoming a Grandma-to-be

grandmother granddaughterFor years before we ever had a baby-to-be in our family, I was looking forward to being a grandma.

As a child, I loved both my grandmothers very much and loved spending time with them. There was little need for them to discipline me because I wouldn’t have said or done anything to make them angry or sad. It was a fun and happy time. Pure love.

When I grew up and had children of my own, my mother just naturally became a wonderful grandma. She had, and still does have, a beautiful way of reaching them and teaching them through unconditional love.

When my children became adults, I began to look forward to the time when I could have that kind of relationship with a grandchild.

You know how when you’re trying to get pregnant, there are pregnant women everywhere – reminding you that you’re not pregnant.

I felt a similar hurt. Every day I was on Facebook, at least one of my friends was posting photos of their grandchildren or a cute little saying about how wonderful it was to be a grandma. Some days I wanted to scream. Don’t misunderstand me… I was really, really happy for these grandmas. I really was. It just began to wear a little thin. I began to tell myself to quit hoping so maybe it wouldn’t hurt so much.

As I shared in a previous post, Greg and Jessi tried for two years before getting pregnant. Jessi knows first-hand what that felt like. When I found out that Jessi had been feeling this way for so long, I felt for her empty arms and that empty place in her heart that was just waiting to be filled by her own child.

Once we knew of their struggles, we all began to pray. I believe in the power of prayer and it was something we could do to help.

Now, thank the Lord, Jessi has their own child growing inside her! And we all continue to pray for a safe delivery and healthy baby.

Now, I’m beginning to let my own guard down a little and have hope again.

Now, when my friends or cousins or my own mother tell me how wonderful it is to be a grandma, I listen better, and I smile.

I’m a grandma-to-be. I hope I can be for my grandchild what my grandmothers were to me.  🙂

My heart is full as I write this. Let’s always remember that home is where the heart is…and there’s no place like home.
Auntie M


It’s a surprise!

happy balloonsThe day our son and daughter-in-law came and surprised us with their good news was a wonderful day indeed!

So… What was the big surprise? Are you ready?!

I’m going to be a GRANDMA!!!

Greg and Jessi are going to have a baby!!!

Say what?  It took me a few seconds to comprehend the full meaning of this.

I mean, they had been trying for two years and had been told by a fertility specialist that it was impossible for them to have a child.

Impossible, that is, without donor eggs, hormone injections, and IVF.

And now they’re showing us a photo of a pregnancy test that says, “Pregnant”?Baby Nelson first test

Without all that scientific and medical involvement?


Wow!  And thank the Lord!  This is a real answer to prayer.  🙂

I can’t stop smiling!  🙂

Then we were instructed…um…asked politely NOT to tell anybody for a month!!!

I could understand it. They wanted to have their first ultrasound to make sure everything was OK.

But, a month?  Well, as it turns out, the time went pretty quickly.  And the baby is perfect!Baby Nelson first ultrasound

They don’t want to know the baby’s gender until he or she is actually born. So there will be another surprise announcement then!  😀

Me…a Grandma.

Grandma Nelson.

Sounds pretty good!

BTW, is it just me, or does it look like the baby is in a heart?  ♥  🙂

Home is where the heart is, and there’s no place like home!

Auntie M



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Two big things, part 1

It’s been quite some time since I last wrote anything here. There has been plenty going on…I just haven’t really known where to begin.

Now it’s the end of June and here I am sitting in a Florida hotel room, watching The Mighty Ducks on TV, and thinking about all the many blessings in my life.

It all started in early February…. oh, wait a minute now… it really all started way, way back years ago when hubby John was only 14 years old…

OK, tell you what…I’ll cut you a break and skip over about 45 years (I can hear the collective sigh of relief) and tell you about one of the two big things since February.

The first big thing, and the reason why I’m in Florida right now, is that we’re at a chaplain conference and John just became a Board Certified John w certificate-webChaplain! He’s been working as a hospice chaplain for almost six years and was able meet with a certification committee this week and – he made it! I’m very excited and thankful and happy about his accomplishment. This truly has been 45 years in the making and we’ve learned to serve God and trust Him in ways we never imagined.

The most important part of this, and what I want to share with you, is that God is faithful and He will bring you through.

1 Thessalonians 5.24 (New International Version) says, “The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.”

In the New Living Translation it’s, “God will make this happen, for he who calls you is faithful.”

Each one of us is here for a reason and God calls each of us to something in this life.  It’s not the same for me as it is for you.  What is the same though is that God is faithful.  You can count on Him.

Always remember that home is where the heart is … and there’s no place like home!
Auntie M

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Change… the kind that chooses you

MailmanSomeone once said, “The only constant in life is change.”  If that’s true, then why do I always go kicking and screaming when change comes a-calling?  I’m most comfortable with routine.  I need to know that two follows one.  If I have to do something new, I want to make a plan and also have a back-up plan ready to go if necessary.  Oh, I know that I also have to be flexible in life within the routines and plans, but that’s different than change.

For example, one day last week our postal carrier at work, Jay, announced that it was his last day.  The United States Postal Service, in its infinite wisdom, decided to shake up all the mail delivery routes in our town and moved all the carriers to different parts of town.  I’ve been working at our local Chamber of Commerce for 7-1/2 years and, even before my time there, Jay has been bringing our mail, telling us jokes, and brightening everyone’s day.  That’s a long time and maybe it was time for a change, but I gotta tell ya that it sure did come as a shock to us.  It was like losing a friend.

To add insult to injury, the mail is now being delivered mid-afternoon rather than mid-morning.  (Not the fault of the new carrier.)  I mean, come on!  Does the USPS have no feelings whatsoever?  I’ve had to change my whole routine!

Sorry to be so dramatic, but that’s how I get when change forces itself on me.

Since “the only constant in life is change”, the important thing then is how we react to it.  Going beyond my USPS woes… if something major in life happens that I have no control over, I figure I basically have two choices.  Accept and keep moving forward or live in denial and stall out.  I like to think that I will choose the former.  With the help of family, friends and my faith in God, I’m sure I will.

Always remember that, even in the midst of change, home is where the heart is, and there’s no place like home.  ♥
Auntie M

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It’s New Year’s Eve

Christmas is over.  2013 starts tomorrow.  And I’ve been thinking about the past year…

I’m still sad about the terrible shooting in Newtown, Connecticut.  My heart is grieving for the parents, sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles, and friends of those sweet souls lost that day, the 14th of December, 2012.

My heart is still heavy for a local family with two little girls who lost their grandpa last summer then their daddy a month later and their mommy is battling against cancer. 

I can’t imagine how any of these families are getting through the holidays.  I know there are many others who have experienced loss in 2012 as well and sometimes it all just overwhelms me.  My heart goes out to each of them.  I hope that they are able to feel support from me and others who care for them and are praying for them.

On the other hand, in January 2012 our son Greg and his wife Jessi moved back to our town and just few months later bought their first home.  Just a few months after that Jessi was pronounced cancer-free for the second year.  Hallelujah!!  They are looking forward to what 2013 brings for them and so are we!

Emily’s husband Steven went through a health scare and came out with a good report.  Again, hallelujah!!

In 2012, I got to witness my brother and my niece each find love, get married, and experience reconciliation in their family.  Times are hard but their futures look bright!

John and I got to attend a cousin’s wedding in his home town and while there re-connected with his brother, sis-in-law, and our wonderful nieces and nephews.  It was a grand time!

After 20 years at this address, we finally got a garage for our cars with space for John to have a workshop.  That was big for us, folks.  🙂

Oh, and I finally learned how to bake key lime pie and cheesecake.  The pie was easy as, well, pie to make.  It tasted just like the first key lime pie I ever had in Florida.  Yum!  The cheesecake took several recipes and several practice cheesecakes to get it right but since it was for my niece’s wedding, it was worth the effort.  Comments we heard from guests included, “Best cheesecake ever!”  Oh yeah!!! 

I hope that 2013 will bring health, peace and comfort to us all.  Keep the faith and remember to pray.  As Tiny Tim said in A Christmas Carol, “God bless us, every one!”  Always remember that home is where the heart is and there’s no place like home!  Happy New Year!
Auntie M

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Christmas 2012

As I sit here at the close of this year’s Christmas Day, I find myself reflecting on past Christmases.  This is by far my favorite time of year.  The air is crisp and cold, and we either have snow or are gearing up for an impending snow storm.  Families and friends are reconnecting, perhaps planning a party, or at least dinner.  For me, I’m celebrating three very different occasions: the anniversary of my hubby’s dad’s liver transplant, my wedding anniversary, and of course, Christmas.

Five years ago, Steven’s dad was diagnosed with liver failure that had no known cause.  He was placed on the waiting list that fall…which just begins a long, stressful wait.  I can’t find the words to describe what it’s like to wait for that one phone call…or two…or three.  Two false alarms, and one “good-to-go” call is what it took before we could finally settle in for a very long night in the ICU waiting room.  Three days before Christmas.  Now, I’ve been on the living donor side of transplant surgery when my dad donated over half his liver to his cousin in 2001.  But it’s a completely different feeling to be on the recipient side…especially knowing that my loved one gets a second life because another family is grieving the death of their loved one.  Because of that family’s willingness to donate their loved one’s organs, not only my family, but also several other families get more time with their loved ones.  This year, we were able to celebrate Dad’s 5th second birthday!  Thank God for medical technology that allows for the intricacies of transplant surgery!

Steven and I met when I was a sophomore in college (Go, McKendree Bearcats!).  He says that after our first date, he went home and told his mom that I was the girl he was going to marry, a story she confirms.  Aw!  In October of that year, he proposed on McKendree’s front lawn, one of my favorite places on campus.  I was so surprised, but found the ability to say yes.  I wanted to finish school first, and he was so understanding and patient…what a blessing!  We were married two years later, on December 23, 2000.  I think our relationship benefitted, though, from such a lengthy engagement.  We were able to learn about each other’s habits, our family’s habits, and really see each other at our best and worst.  Some days we can’t believe it’s been 12 years…and others…well, it feels like it’s been a lot longer.  I am so thankful every day, though, that God blessed me with Steven.  I couldn’t imagine my life with anyone else!

And now, Christmas…my very favorite holiday of the year.  The cookies and candies…the decorations…the twinkle of lights on houses and trees – I just love it all.  Each year, I make fudge for my brother and S-cookies for my dad…at minimum!  I also made animal (cutout) cookies this year, and we’ll decorate them as a family on Friday night.  We’ll get together with Mom’s family on Saturday, and just our six that night.  Steven and I spent time yesterday and today with his parents, as well as this morning with just the two of us.

We started our Christmas festivities, though, with singing in both Christmas Eve services at our church, Leclaire Christian Church.   The service, whether we attend or participate in it, always helps to get me centered on the real reason for Christmas.  Without the birth of Jesus, we wouldn’t be able to know the power of God’s redemptive love.  Without Him, my joy in celebrating Dad’s second birthday and my anniversary wouldn’t be as meaningful.  Without Him, my joy in the Christmas season wouldn’t be complete.  Thank You, God, for sending your Son for us.  Thank You for loving us so much that you give us a second chance…a chance for eternal life.

My greatest wish for each of you is that you have a blessed Christmas, and that the memories of today stretch into the New Year.

Merry Christmas!