Thanksgiving in Panama City

The Boat Ride

Over Thanksgiving week 2015 my husband Donny and I rented a pontoon boat in Panama City, Florida, to enjoy a day on the bay with Chris our oldest son, Meggie his wife, and my mom and dad. We began our leisurely excursion and were having a great time. The water was calm, the sun shinning, and the temperature perfect! Donny was our captain; he looked so handsome maneuvering the boat. I was impressed with his nautical skills.

Then everything went downstream fast! We crossed an invisible line in the water and found ourselves in the Gulf of Mexico – where we were warned NOT to go. But Donny tried to shake off that warning by consoling us and saying, “We are not in the Gulf. Don’t worry.”

Easy for Donny to say, but hard for us to do as the waves grew higher and higher and rougher and rougher. Water literally poured over the sides into the boat! Unfortunately, Chris was reading the map upside down and assured us we were in the right “boat lane.” Funny about that, because all other boats in that lane were actually ships – cargo ships and cruise ships!

Our little pontoon was like a bobber in the water. Up down, up down, up down. Huge ocean vessels passed us by, and crews on their decks yelled and asked if we needed help. Of course, with all the noise from the water and the waves, they couldn’t hear Meggie yelling, “SOS! SAVE OUR SHIP!” Instead, they looked at us as if we were crazy, and I guess we were crazy at that point!

My dad started looking for life jackets, but couldn’t open the seats where the man at the rental place told us the jackets were stored. In fact, the man said, “You won’t need any life jackets in the bay!”

I yelled at Donny, “TURN AROUND! TURN AROUND RIGHT NOW! WE’RE GONNA DROWN!”

Donny replied, “Don’t worry. We’re right where we should be.”

It was about then that Chris aligned the map right side up. And guess what? We were not where we should be. We were far out in the Gulf in a pontoon boat where only ocean-going vessels should be. Our leisurely excursion had morphed into a terrifying experience!

Donny finally turned us around and we made it back to the calm waters of the bay. “I’m gonna park the boat now,” he said (I believe the nautical term is moor) after hitting two buoys and another pontoon. I said to Donny as we got off the boat, “What were you thinking? You almost got us killed!”

Donny smiled his half smile and laughed, “I guess I really don’t know how to drive a boat” (I believe the nautical term is steer).

This experience caused me to think about the many times when we are where we shouldn’t be and think we can handle the situation on our own. The storms of life toss us up and down, up and down, yet we still think, “We have this.”

After being tossed around in that little boat for awhile, my family got down on our knees and realized that the only One who really has this is God! He is the Captain of our boat and He will always lead us to calm waters if we allow Him to.

The Lord says, “Do not be afraid . . . When you go through deep waters and great trouble, I will be with you . . . For I am the Lord, your God, your Savior . . . You are precious to me . . . and I love you.” (Isaiah 43:1-4 NLT)

 

 

COUPON DIVA

 

coupn cat.bmpI have a confession to make.  I am an extreme couponer. No doubt you know someone like me, the woman at the grocery store with the binders full of coupons.  The one who blocks the aisles with overflowing shopping carts, holds up the check-out line, and argues with the cashier about whether or not a coupon is still valid. Yep, that’s me. But I’m not ashamed!

It’s not easy being a Coupon Diva. It takes me hours upon hours to sort, cut out, and file the coupons into my two, obnoxiously big binders. Then it takes me more hours upon hours to determine what stores have what deals. Do they offer a two for one or a BOGO or a buy ten and get eleven? Do they have a double coupon that expires in a few days?

When I finally map out and execute my itinerary for coupon day, I often spend over two hours in one single store. That’s because I get distracted so easily. Even if I plan on buying only certain items, it never fails that other items are on sale or clearance. It’s very complicated and higher math-intensive being a Coupon Diva!

For instance, I buy a lot of deodorant and body wash. Not only can I get great deals on these items, but my son, Noah, plays soccer for a college and I give the players on his team the deodorant and body wash. God knows they need it! The athletic dorm smells like a locker room throughout the hallways!

One day as I was cutting out and sorting coupons, I had to leave for an appointment in the middle of the chaos. So I left everything where it was, on the floor, coffee table, kitchen counter, ceiling fan, wherever I could find space.

Long story short. We have a cat named Oreo, inherited from my son, Zach, when he went away to Auburn University. Oreo is very testy and temperamental, and when he feels like he hasn’t had enough attention, he “acts out” in the only way he knows – by doing “his business” on something. That afternoon when I left, I guess Oreo was feeling neglected and overlooked.

When I returned home to put my coupons away, I noticed that some were wet! Yep, you guessed it! And to make matters worse, several coupons were for $2 off the deodorant my son likes and several were for buy one, get one on the body wash (I knew I would save some money and also help the smell in Noah’s dorm). I told Donny, my husband, what had happened, and he said, “There’s no way you can use those coupons!”

Well, there’s no way I would let that statement stand! So I tried to air out all the “wet” coupons before I put them in a plastic bag to at least confine the smell.

The next day I went to WalMart to partake of the great deals, but I decided to go to a WalMart in the next town over. I figured nobody would know me there. As I was shopping, I noticed an item on clearance that I had a coupon for, but I wasn’t sure if it was a wet coupon or not. So I opened the plastic bag to check, and whew! The smell was overwhelming! At that exact moment a lady walked down the aisle and started to reach for the same item. Her nose began moving like a dog’s nose when it’s sniffing (a place to do business)?? She started coughing and gagging and her eyes turned red. She looked at me with that twitching nose and those watering eyeballs and walked as fast and as far away as she could.

I ended up at the register with my smelly coupons. The cashier tried to pretend that she didn’t notice, but I’ve never been checked out faster. I walked out of the store with A LOT of deodorant and body wash to give to the smelly soccer players.

The moral of this story is this. We all smell – and that odor is sin. Just think how we appear to others when we sin – dirty and dingy, grimey and grubby. But God has a Coupon for that, a really Great Deal! All we have to do to redeem it is give Him our hurt and offer Him our heart. No matter how smelly and sinful we are, God doesn’t see us as mankind sees us. No, God sees us as His beloved children – and He promises to wash us white as snow.

Have mercy on me, O God, because of your unfailing love. Because of your great compassion, blot out the stain of my sins. Purify me . . . and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. (Psalm 51:1&7 NLV)

A Crazy Pastor’s Wife: Wit and Wisdom from Saints and Scoundrels

Joyce Thrasher tells her story about being a Pastor’s Wife at a large church in the south. She is married to Donny, a retired Army Chaplain and now the Senior Pastor at The Grace Place Church in Enterprise, Alabama. This book is full of humorous stories about serving in the ministry. Joyce’s brother, Joe Brown, is a well known artist who illustrated the cartoons for the book. This is his sixth book of illustrations. He also has been commissioned for many other projects, to include the cover for Garrison Keillor’s book, Life among the Lutherans. 

You can purchase her book on Amazon  or Barnes and Noble.

 

A Crazy Pastor’s Wife: Wit and Wisdom from Saints and Scoundrels (Enterprise: Jet Publishing, 2015)

Joyce Thrasher tells her story about being a Pastor’s Wife at a large church in the south.  She is married to Donny, a retired Army Chaplain and now the Senior Pastor at The Grace Place Church in Enterprise, Alabama.  This book is full of humorous stories about serving in the ministry.  Joyce’s brother, Joe Brown, is a well known artist who illustrated the cartoons for the book.  This is his sixth book of illustrations.  He also has been commissioned for many other projects, to include the cover for Garrison Keillor’s book, Life among the Lutherans.

Just released! Available on Amazon Prime!

Available on Amazon!