Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Call to Cambodia

Well, the Tucker crew had an incredible Christmas with lots of presents, rest and food! But the most amazing gift of the season was the opportunity that presented itself all because of a divine appointment.

Over the last couple years, Brittany has developed a huge burden for the girls of Cambodia, specifically the ones involved in the sex trade industry. She has cried, dreamed and prayed for God to give her direction on the extent of her involvement concerning that issue. Pastor Kevin has even prophesied this same thing to her...twice. I have often gone upstairs to find her weeping after she has either watched a documentary or written a paper on the subject as one of her chosen assignments required in pursuit of her psychology degree. She recognized a very unique calling on her life and began the process of constructing a letter that she intended to send to Lisa Bevere and others with connections to the safe houses in Cambodia. But God had a better plan, a seemingly quicker plan.

While working at Lifetime Fitness a few weeks ago, she came across a member whom she had never seen before and has never seen since. He began to talk with her about religion and church, then somehow Cambodia. He said that he attends the Covenant Carrollton campus and mentioned that he heard something about our church being involved with Cambodia and that she should check it out. Talk about a divine appointment!

She called me, and I said that I had not heard anything about that. So, I contacted the McKinney campus, and they didn't know anything either. I was transferred to the Carrollton campus, then to the mission's pastor, Donna Holland...all in about 3 minutes. Pastor Donna explained that there was no missions trip scheduled but did say that there was a missionary by the name of Liney Chacko starting a safe house there whom she was getting ready to meet with in a few minutes. She said that she would have Liney call us back soon after.

Liney called and had lunch with me and Brittany last Thursday. This was the divine connection Brittany needed. Liney and Brittany hit it off very well and both share the same passion for that culture. Brittany shared her testimony and her heart; Liney shared their missionary efforts and heartbraking stories. We were saddened to hear about a 9 year old girl that had been sexually and physically abused. Her neck was tied with chains that left permanent scars, and she was drugged during the day to keep her quiet. At first glance, they assumed her to be 5 years old, but dental records proved otherwise. She had been sold by her family, then rescued by the Chacko's organization, Global Renewal, even before a safe house existed.

As we wept at the table, I sat in awe as the opportunity of a lifetime began to unfold for Brittany. To make a long story short, she will be going to Cambodia for about 3 months during the summer to support the Chacko's and help in any way that she can with the new safe house that overlooks the Gulf of Thailand. She will learn the culture, the language and see what the future holds concerning her long-term involvement. All of her room, board and food will be covered (divine provision, PTL!) and she will go through extensive training at the Carrollton campus over the next 5 months prior to her departure. There may even be a chance that she can obtain college credit toward her degree which she will continue to pursue as her schedule permits. The only thing that she will be required to pay for is her transportation there and back. She will also need to make sure that her expenses in the states are covered, but she is not worried because she has faith that God will provide even that.

Please keep her in your prayers as she embarks on this new endeavor. I have never seen her so full of purpose, so happy, so excited! Since she is relatable and compassionate, I know that she will be able to minister deeply to those little girls once they are rescued and brought to the safe house. There is already one waiting for her.

*To learn more about Global Renewal, please visit http://www.globalrenewal.org/

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Need a Hostess Gift Idea Under $25?

With so many Christmas parties and dinners to attend during the holidays, I often find it hard to come up with just the right hostess gift. I get tired of bringing the traditional bottle of wine or the overdone bouquet of flowers. Each of which can actually cause an inconvenience to the host. They may have already chosen a wine for the night, but may feel obligated to un-cork the one you brought instead. Additionally, with flowers, the host must then locate a vase, trim the ends and find a place to display them where it will not clash with the decore all in an effort to show the giver that they appreciate them.

So, here are a few ideas that I have come up with that are unique, personal and under $25!
  1. A Personalized Ornament - This is something that they will be able to display on their tree for years to come as a reminder of your special dinner together. Make sure you get one that matches their personality...not yours.
  2. A Rosemary Shrub - This is a great idea for the person that likes to cook. It is fragrant, practical and wrapped in a beautiful Christmas paper. I found them at Kroger for $9.99. Add a bow and you are good to go!
  3. Monogrammed Soaps or Candles - this would be excellent for someone who entertains alot. It is a nice addition to their guest bath and comes in neutral colors.
  4. A Movie Night - Party City has a large plastic "popcorn box" that you can fill with a DVD, some microwaveable popcorn and a few boxes of candy. Wrap it with some cellophane and you've got a great family gift!
  5. Wooden Tea Chest - If you know someone that loves tea, purchase a nice tea chest and add some specialty teas if it doesn't come stocked already. This would pair well with a nice tea cup as an added bonus.
  6. Hot Cocoa Basket - Almost everyone loves hot chocolate! Get creative. Buy a small basket, add a mug or two, some cocoa, marshmellows and a few candy canes.

If you are looking for something a bit more pricey and fun, I would buy "The Bucket List" DVD and pair it with some Kopi Luwak. This coffee is sure to get a good laugh and would make for some very interesting conversation. Make sure you google its history if you don't already know it. This gift would cost you about $50+ depending on the amount of coffee you order. Keep in mind that when ordering this coffee online, you will want to verify its authenticity and origin. I like http://www.animalcoffee.com/ and http://www.koracoffee.com/.

Well, I hope that you come away with some neat ideas; get creative and add your own personal touch. If you have any hostess gift favorites, let me know! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Edible Candy Sleigh

I LOVE Christmas! I love the decor, the spirit, the reason, the cooking, the giving, the songs and most of all, spending time with family.

It has been so funny this year to hear Javin and Kadi singing their rendition of Christmas songs. Kadi was singing, "Oh , ho, the mistletoe - one, two, three - I see." I let out a little chuckle as I said, "Ho, Ho the mistletoe. Hung where you can see." That lasted about 2 minutes before she forgot the words again. So cute, but it was Javin that had me rolling! He started singing, "Deck the halls with cows of jolly!" I lost it! I mean can you just picture robust cows hysterically laughing as they sing Fa-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la?!? What a greeting that would be! ♪♫♪

Lately, I have been enjoying doing fun, edible creations with the kids. For Thanksgiving, we did a cute turkey with feathers of candy corn, so for Christmas, we decided to make a candy sleigh. We even invited a few of their friends over to join in the fun for what I called "Javin & Kadi's 1st Annual Christmas Social." I am glad it is only once a year because I will need at least that long to recover and wrap my head around the next one! The sleighs turned out so cute though, so if you decide to make one with your kids, here is what you will need:
  • 2 Candy Canes
  • Vanilla Icing
  • 1 Graham Cracker
  • Shredded Coconut
  • 1 Double Stuffed Oreo
  • 1 Candy Santa
  • 1 Red Fruit Roll-up
  • 8 Gumballs
  • 1 Twizzler Pull & Peel

First, you will want to get the two candy canes and put a heaping amount of icing, so that the graham cracker will stick. The icing will serve as your "glue". Be sure to allow about 10 minutes for it to dry a little.

Then you will want to ice the top of the graham cracker and sprinkle on your coconut. Now we have snow!

For Santa's seat, we will use an Oreo. Separate the halves to make your chair. You may actually want to add a bit of icing to the top to provide some extra stability for Santa. Let it sit for about 5 minutes, then add Santa.

Next, we will make the toy sack. Very carefully, unroll the fruit roll-up. It is best to cup it in your hand, so that it doesn't stick to the counter. Pour in the gumballs and bring all edges up to the middle to form a pouch. Stretch out the top a bit, so that you have ample room to tie your Twizzler's Pull & Peel bow. Add the toy sack to the sleigh, and you are done!

Simple, yet fun and the kids end up with a yummy snack! Bring on the sugar high! Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Our Nine Year Anniversary

So, yes, I realize that it has been quite sometime since my last blog, but it has been one crazy, busy fall season! Now I am back in the saddle, so let's giddy-up because I have been wanting to write about my anniversary!

On December 1st, Jeremy and I celebrated 9 years of marriage. Wahoo! Years 4-6 were pretty rough with the idea of divorce looming overhead, but we learned important lessons, went to counseling and have continued to grow more in love each day. I am so stoked to be married to such an incredible man of God. I find such comfort in his embrace, warmth in his smile and a heart that is ever giving. Needless to say, we were excited to celebrate another year! For our special night, we had a lovely dinner planned, a wine tasting reserved and memories waiting to be made. Then the church called...

Our anniversary had fallen on a Wednesday night. So since it was First Fruits, we didn't have to lead worship. (Yea, a night off!) Then I got a call saying that they wanted us at service to "commission" us as leaders in front of the congregation. We decided to cancel our other plans and let them know that we would be there. I mean, we had spent other anniversaries at church; heck, we were married in a church, so this was fine...no big deal. It didn't necessarily seem any different. Oh, but it was.

In fact, just over 10 years ago during our dating tenure, I remember us sitting with Bro. Rod in Louisiana discussing some of our issues and fears about being married. We felt like our ministries would inevitably take us in opposite directions since we both shared different passions, and this fear terminated the relationship for about 6 months. What we did not realize was that our passions actually complimented each other perfectly. It took us a while to see that potential, but even longer to believe it. Now many years later, we are so grateful for our current Pastors' Mike and Debbie Gamble for pointing that out and reminding us again. They blessed us, believed in us and spoke life into our marriage during a time when we needed it most.

Our commissioning and their re-affirming ended up being extremely symbolic for Jeremy and I both. How awesome is it that the one thing we questioned so long ago was now being publicly confirmed (on our anniversary) as we stood in front of the Covenant McKinney congregation?!? It was amazing to see our destinies mirror each other and our passions sing in perfect harmony. ♫♪♫

I had forgotten all about that initial meeting with Bro. Rod until that night. I love it when God works full circle! And on top of that, someone who did not know us said that God told them to buy this (HUGE) diamond-like gemstone ornament and that they would know who it was for when they got to church that night. As the service went on, they knew it was for us and explained that it was to serve as a reminder of this night and that we are married to Him, etc.

Now it sits displayed on our tree and will be for many years to come. God knew what He was doing then, and He knows what He's doing now. Trust is a great thing. I cannot wait to see where our paths lead. I am just glad that we get to walk that road together. I could not imagine my life's journey with anyone else. ♥