Saturday, December 22, 2012

I made a card for you.


Welcome back to Connecting.  It is truly the busiest time of the year, so I am delighted that you took the time to see the card I made for you.

Please take a few more minute and read on.  I wanted to share with you what makes this card special to me.

The following is taken from a book designed to teach children the Names of Jesus.  This little book was included in a set of beautiful ornaments that each bear one of the names given to Him in Isaiah 9:6-7.  "...And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.  Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end."

"Peace without end is the longing of every human heart, but it cannot be found on earth.  No king has ever lived, even the most benevolent, who has ruled with perfect peace.  All kings are human, flawed, and prone to error.  But Jesus is named Prince of Peace.  This name brings the great promise of a life without conflict.  Only One who is divine, who is sinless, can rule with perfection.  His name is Jesus.
While we wait for His government on earth, we can still experience the peace Jesus offers: "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.  Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid" (John 14:27).  Later He added, "In Me you may have peace" (John 16:33).  He knew He was leaving and that His followers would feel abandoned and afraid, so Jesus promised them the assurance of much-needed peace.

It is both remarkable and comforting that Jesus can dwell within our frail humanity by His Spirit.  Even in our faults and failures, He can produce miraculous peace.  Does He live within your heart?  If He does, then no matter how difficult your circumstances, He can and will give peace that passes all understanding if you will ask.

One of the most loved hymns of the church, "It is Well with My Soul," was written by Horatio Spafford just months after all four of his daughters drowned when their ship sank in the Atlantic Ocean.  His wife was saved when a plank of wood floated beneath her unconscious body, keeping her from drowning.  Unimaginable grief must have overwhelmed Mr. Spafford.

On the journey to meet his wife, he wrote these words near the place where the ship sank: "When peace like a river attendeth my way,/When sorrows like sea billows roll/...Thou has taught me to say,/It is well...with my soul."  How was that possible?  Without the Prince of Peace it is not.  Only in Jesus can we say, "It is well with my soul."

May you know His peace and His love this Christmas and experience the joy that this knowledge brings!

Thanks for stopping by,

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Oh What Fun...!

Happy Saturday!

I continue to enjoy the "sweetest" memories of our Sweet Taste of Christmas party Thursday night.  Everyone looked so pretty and festive and seemed to be in a party mood.  Truth be told, I think I may be a little sugar toxic, but what beautiful and delicious treats we had.  Thanks again, Georgia Dodson and Rhonda Golden for setting the stage as well as coordinating with Susan Cox, Maryclare Macarons, and Bliss Cupcake Boutique.  

AND Jenny Wrublesky wrote and sang an incredible song just for us and this special night together.  I'm still hoping we can find a recording of it and share it with all of the women of Lake Valley.  Talk about a special gift.  Jenny has such a beautiful voice and we are now recognizing her additional talent of song writing.  Bless you, Jenny as we are blessed by you!

While I'm saying thank you, Morgan Golden was the sound man and Mark Russell was the photographer.  The night would not have been as special without their talents.  Thanks, guys!

Here's a little slide show of the evening.

I think everyone there got one of the decorated reminders of what will be coming up soon for Women of Lake Valley, but there are extras at the information booth for anyone to pick up on Sunday.  These will be available through the month of January.

I hope you enjoy the rest of your weekend as well as this season of Advent.  So glad you joined us for the Christmas kick off.  If you didn't make it, we really did miss you and look forward to you joining  us next time!

Thanks for stopping by,

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Happy Fall, Y'all

Hello Ladies!

I hope you saw the "Save the Date" notice in the Headlines last week which promised more information on "A Sweet Taste of Christmas".  We're having a Christmas party for just us girls on Thursday, December 6 at 6:30 p.m. at Lake Valley Church.  This invitation is for all Lake Valley women.  The night will revolve around a dessert tasting, and will include door prizes, announcements about Women's Ministry, and a surprise at the end of the evening.  Please join us, it won't be as sweet if you're not there!

Please leave a comment if you plan to attend.  I would love to hear from you!

On another note:
It was an eventful weekend at the Russell home.  Sunday afternoon as Mark and I settled in with a fire in the fireplace and books to read, listening to the storm going on outside, Mark suddenly had a pain in his left shoulder. Being a physician and quickly ascertaining that this was unlike anything he had ever experienced, he laid down on the floor and asked me to get an aspirin for him as is the recommended protocol if you suspect you may be having a heart attack.  It was only a few minutes later that we took off for the emergency room.  Not a minute too soon I might add, because very quickly the pain went from distressing to nearly unbearable.  The very efficient ER doctor and nurses evaluated the situation and set about relieving his pain.  It was the third attempt that gave him the much needed relief.  After it was decided that he should have an angiogram the following morning, we moved to our room for the night.  As many of you know, there is NO rest through the night in a hospital.  The great end to this story is that Mark did not have a heart attack, nor was there anything wrong with his heart.  On the contrary, the test revealed that his heart is very healthy.  We may never know exactly what did happen, but I'll take a false alarm every time.

Why am I telling you this?  I'm not completely sure.  Maybe it's because this experience was difficult and Mark and I got through it.  Together.  And a lot of friends were praying for us.  It was one of those experiences that helped me focus on what I cherish most-the man God gave to me to love.  God was good.  But here's the thing that kept going through my mind: "My grace is sufficient for you".  I was afraid that I was about to know the depth of God's grace in a way I wanted to resist.  But I didn't resist it.  I embraced it and I was not as much afraid as I was determined to hold on to the strength God gave in the terrible moments.  Real comfort is hard to describe, but it was very real and I am grateful.

As we approach the season of Gratitude, I am praying for you to be certain of the sufficiency of God's grace in your life;  that you are strengthened and encouraged by that truth to face the challenges that are yours.  May we be truly grateful for the abundant life that is ours in Jesus Christ as we celebrate a day dedicated to giving thanks!

Thankful for you,

Monday, September 17, 2012

A Little Insight...

Hello Ladies!

I thought you would appreciate a little insight into what's going on with the Women's Ministry Leadership Team  (WMT).  I would love to tell you that we have a lot of new ideas and plans for the future.  But God is leading us, and His timing is a little different from ours!  What we are learning is that there is a great deal more at stake than planning some group events and Bible studies for the coming year.  We are very carefully examining WHO we are, and WHY we would do something.  We have also made a decision that we will meet weekly, but only when all four of us can be there during this foundational period.  Because of some pre-existing family plans there will be three times over the next six weeks that we will not meet.  Life obviously goes on for all of us and those commitments cannot be ignored.  All of this to say, we are working diligently, within the constraints that we have, to develop a fresh and new vision for encouraging and equipping the women of Lake Valley Church.

Furthermore, we will be calling on you to help us in the development of this vision.  While the dates are not yet firm, we expect to have a series of FOCUS GROUPS to which all of you are invited to participate.  I know this may be a new concept for some of you, but I think you will enjoy the opportunity to be part of the process.  There will be more news on this when we are able to confirm the dates.

We are also putting  "A Fresh and New Christmas" on the church calendar for Thursday, December 6.  We want to honor the tradition of the Women's Candlelight Dinner, but with a little different take on the event.  I know that life speeds up from Thanksgiving on, so please pencil this one in on your calendar.  You'll be glad you did!

So, are you praying for us as a leadership team?  Please know that we NEED your prayers for wisdom and clarity.  I am happy to report, that this team of four women are enjoying a remarkably comfortable relationship.  We couldn't be more different, but we are also confident that God is at work in our lives and in this ministry to incorporate the gifts and talents He has given us for Kingdom good.

We love you, we are praying for you, and we are looking forward to hearing from you as we continue to serve our Awesome God!

Thanks for stopping by,

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Winner Announcement!

Good Morning, Happy Sunday, September 2nd!

I have just a brief post today to announce the winner of our first ever Girl's Just Wannna Have Fun contest. If you missed the post, check the August archives for A Little Wardrobe Malfunction...

But first, thanks to all twelve of you who joined the conversation by commenting on how you like to have fun with your friends.   We ran the gamut, didn't we?  Campfires to cruises and a lot of other great ideas in between.  The most often repeated idea was Bunko.  I think it's safe to say there will be a Bunko Night in the future for us girls who just wanna have fun!

Any other ideas about large OR small group gatherings are welcome anytime.  (Fun ideas for home group socials as well)  Feel free to add your thoughts via a comment in this or any future posts.  My hope is that you will be encouraged to connect with the other women of Lake Valley.

Now for the big news (drum roll, please)

Congratulations, Natalie Manatt!  Please send an e-mail to to let me know when you and your two friends will enjoy a free lunch together at Zoe's. 

(A random number method was used to choose the winner.  Merit of comment does not apply.)

I hope to see you at worship this morning.  If not, have a safe and happy Labor Day.

Thanks for stopping by,

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

A Little Wardrobe Malfunction...

Yes, that's our story and we are sticking to it!  This post was supposed be the introduction to our first ever "Girl's Just Want To Have Fun" event, but unfortunately, it's not gonna happen.

Instead, we want to pick your brains a little.  When you think about getting together with your girlfriends and having fun, what comes to mind?  We (the leadership team) are looking for all the ways you think fun happens.  Are you game?

Please leave your very clever and creative ideas in a comment box below for a chance to win lunch for yourself and two friends at ZOE'S.  There will be a random drawing for the prize on Friday, August 31, at 12:00 noon.

We are looking forward to hearing from you.

Thanks for stopping by,

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Tap, tap, tap, is this thing on?

Hello Ladies!  This is a test.

If you receive an e-mail notice for this post, PLEASE click on the blog title (somewhere in your e-mail will be the word Connecting highlighted in some way.  Mine is in blue, below the content of the e-mail) in order to go to the blog site.

Click on comments, (at the end of the post), and write something in the box.  Anything will do.  I just need to know that you are actually receiving your notifications.

After you write the comment, you may remain anonymous, or in the box designated comment as: type in your name, and forget about the URL. Close the box and...

 PUBLISH YOUR COMMENT by clicking on the publish button.  Do not close the blog window until you see your comment appear in the comment list or it will vanish forever.

I think that's everything you need to know to successfully leave a comment.  If it really works, there will be another post coming your way.

Thanks for your help!

Friday, August 10, 2012

A Book, A Card, A Little Inspiration

Hi Ladies,  happy weekend.

I hope that many of you have re-subscribed by e-mail now that our "technical difficulties" seem to be resolved.  Check out the Blog Archives column on the right.  There have been several posts since the "welcome".  You may have missed the further introductions of the leadership team for Women's Ministry here at LVCC during the time that the subscription service was not working.  Please give Meagan Krone a big thank you the next time you see her for getting us up and running again.  I think Meagan is the one woman IT team for Lake Valley!

Did you know that there is a women's book club going on at Lake Valley?  Yeah, they meet once a month on Wednesdays after the bible study (currently a Beth Moore study of Daniel, open to anyone who would like to come).  Actually Judy Ellis is the contact person so I asked her to tell you about it:

The Women's Book Club decided to read the Book by Eric Blehm... Fearless-The Undaunted Courage and Ultimate Sacrifice of Navy Seal Team Six Operation Adam Brown.  This is a book about a young man from Hot Springs named Adam Brown.  Fearless is the story of a man of extremes whose courage and determination was fueled by faith, family and the love of a woman. He gave the ultimate sacrifice. We would like to invite any and all of the women of Lake Valley to join us. Just read the book and on September 12th at noon, we will meet at church to discuss the book. Please bring your lunch and join with us in discussing this book and how it has impacted our lives.  

The Book Club is a small group of women who enjoy reading and want the fellowship of other women.  We enjoy reading, eating lunch together, watching movies but most of all we carry the love of God in our hearts for each other.  God has blessed us with new caring friends.
Thanks Judy.  You can contact Judy for more information by phone, 520-0456, or e-mail,

If this isn't a time or day that works for you, maybe you would like to start another book club.  There are probably others who might have the same needs as you.  You are welcome to use the comment box below to get that rolling.  I will help in any way I can.  

Did you by any chance notice the words on Judy's t-shirt in the picture above?  It says, "Daily Dreamer".  It says some other things too, but this really caught my eye and it is a natural segue into the next subject I wanted share with you tonight-my card!

(you can click on this picture for a closer look)

Some of you already know that I LOVE paper craft.  I usually make cards, but occasionally I try other projects as well.  This hobby started about three years ago and I have found it to be a creative adventure.  I have learned not only a lot about the art itself, but have met a lot of people on line who inspire me daily.  Many of the paper crafters are very open about their faith.  The entire community, which is world wide, is consistently encouraging and uplifting.  I have joined a local group of other card-makers for a monthly stamp club.  Perhaps the most surprising benefit of all is the increased knowledge of computer usage.  I am light years beyond where I was three years ago.  I have recently celebrated my first year anniversary for my personal blog, Beauty and Blessings.

All of this to say, it was about three years ago that I asked God to give me a dream.  I wanted a way to experience Him and connect with other people in a creative way.  I don't think I articulated that exactly, but now I see very clearly that God showed me a way of expressing His Character, through His Spirit in me.  I have always known that Beauty is important to me, but it took a long time to figure out that it is important because Beauty is a characteristic of God.  One that He expresses in a unique way through women.  I know this is not fine art.  But it is the way a Creative, omniscient God chose to speak to me about Himself and His character.  Pretty cool, huh?  It is to me.

Are you daring to dream?  Please do.  Then watch what happens!

Have you joined Pinterest yet?  I know a lot of you have because I follow you or you follow me.  According to Wikipedia, Pinterest is a pinboard-style social photo sharing website that allows users to create and manage theme-based image collections such as events, interests...etc.

You will need an invitation to use Pinterest, but it's not as exclusive as that may sound.  Let me know if you want an invitation and I will get you in!

This poster is one of the reasons I like Pinterest so much.

 I want to be a strong woman.  I want to hang out with other strong women.  I bet you do too.

In closing, we have a lot of hurting people in our Lake Valley family right now.  Pray for those you know about.  Love them as if you were Jesus with skin on.

Thanks for stopping by,

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Meet Karen Wright!

Hello again, and welcome back to Connecting.  Today, we have the introduction of the final leadership team member, Karen Wright.  I know you will be glad to hear from her.

My name is Karen Wright.  My husband Mika and I have been married for 29 years.  Robert is the older of our two sons and is married to Kayla. They have two children (our two grandchildren); Rylee is three years old and Mason is 2 months old.  Our youngest son, Andrew, is a senior at UCA and is headed to Washington D.C. in a few weeks to participate in an internship (probably as a US Marshall).  I am a Licensed Associate Counselor and have a private practice at the Rix Professional Building. In that role, I have the privilege of providing gentle restoration to hurting fellow sojourners.  I also provide trauma focused counseling three days a week for the children and parents at the Cooper Anthony Mercy Child Advocacy Center.
Mika and I stumbled into Lake Valley eleven years ago; broken hearted, disillusioned, depressed and separated (on the verge of divorce).  God loved us and did some Holy transformation in our lives during that very difficult time (I hope I get to share that part of my journey with you sometime, but that’ll have to do for now).  I will tell you this, eleven months after our separation began, we were healed enough to courageously merge our lives back together again under the same roof filled with a renewed sense of God, hope and purpose.

As we move forward, it is my desire to stand shoulder to shoulder with women who are seeking a deeper experience with God; A Sisterhood of Faith.   I wish for a time and place for each woman at Lake Valley to explore further her own story.  I long for us to recognize more clearly God’s Presence weaved throughout History (HisStory) playing out in our personal lives.   I yearn for all women to recognize in a fresh and new way their God-given value and purpose and to identify both her unique position and specific role in His Kingdom.  I am thrilled that God knitted our lives together; and am passionate as we move along in His Great Adventure together.

Thank you, Karen!  

Well, that concludes the introductions of the leadership team for Ministry to Women at Lake Valley.  I hope you have a better idea of who we are as well as faces to match up with the names.  In case you missed any of the other introductions, please check the archives in the right column under our pictures for previous posts.

NOTE:  Technical difficulties have prevented notifications for those of you who subscribed by e-mail but I expect that the problem will be fixed as early as tomorrow.  (Monday 8/6/12).  There will be a post later in the week, so hopefully you'll know when it goes up.  Please feel free to let me know (via my e-mail, of any problems you are having or if you need a little tutorial on how to use this site.

I and the other three leaders are praying for you.  Have a great week!

Thanks for stopping by,

Friday, August 3, 2012

Meet Dian Glover!

Good morning, Ladies!

I'm back again today with another leadership team introduction.  Take it away, Dian!

My name is Dian Glover.  Thomas and I have been married for 33 years.  We have 2 sons and a daughter-in-love.  We have lived in Hot Springs since 1983 and owned Glover Bible Bookstore for 17 years.  We joined Lake Valley in 1996.  I taught school at Cutter Morning Star Elementary for 7 years.  I am now the Elementary Children’s Coordinator at Lake Valley.  I enjoy singing, playing the piano, organizing and decorating, reading and traveling.  I am even a part of a band that sings around town!

God began a work on my heart for women after hearing a lady talk about the mentoring program at Fellowship Bible Church in Northwest Arkansas.  After hearing, I began praying for the women of Lake Valley to catch the vision of Titus 2.  As I prayed for a mentor for my daughter-in-love, God’s still small voice reminded me I, too, could do that for someone else.  Last year we began our mentoring ministry at Lake Valley!  I am also very passionate about encouraging women in their connections with God and with other women; recognizing the value they have in Christ and their influence in the lives of their children and husband, which can produce satisfying joy.

I am so excited about the “fresh & new” adventure I feel God is preparing for us as women!  We need each other for support and encouragement as we seek to follow Christ each day.  We need to lend our strengths to each other as we seek to build His kingdom.   My prayer it that God will unify us as sisters in Him!  I’m ready for where He leads.  I’m sure it will be amazing!!

Thanks, Dian.  I expect that you will be getting a few responses about the mentoring program, what that means and how they can plug in as a mentor or a mentee.

Well, Ladies, I hope you are getting the sense that something good is brewing for the women of Lake Valley Church.  Lest you are thinking we are all talk and no action, let me assure you that over the next five months a great deal of preparation will be taking place.  By December, you will get to hear what that means and how you can be part of the plan.  In the meantime, may I ask you to pray for us as we explore the "Fresh and New" opportunities?

Have a great weekend!

Thanks for stopping by,

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Meet Karen Stuckey!

Hi Ladies!  The introduction of the other members of the leadership team continues.  Most of you have met or at least seen Karen in the lobby on Sunday mornings.  I have asked her to answer a few questions about herself and those answers are in the paragraphs below.

My name is Karen Stuckey.  My husband Bill and I have been married for 32 years and have two adult children, a married daughter Laura and a son Bennett, a senior in college.  I have been a stay-at-home wife and mom for most of our married life.  I enjoy tennis, walking, and boat rides with Bill.  (We usually have room for more!)

We found our way to Lake Valley in the spring of 2002 and it didn't take attending more than about two services to realize I had found my church home.  I have been active in Women's Ministry under some gifted leadership through the years.  I help the LVCC office with the administrative duties of organizing Home Groups and serve as the coordinator for First Touch ministry (greeters).  Bill and I have been home group pastors for a number of years.

I am energized by being a part of a team where each member uncovers their passion and gets to use it for the benefit of those we are serving.  I love to spend time with women mentoring or coaching.  I am at the stage of life where I need to be looking over my shoulder at the generation of wives and mothers coming up behind me and be willing to follow the exhortation in Titus 2.  I love to listen to women's hearts, share mine when asked, hopefully pointing women to the One who created them.  I want to remind them of His life-changing love for them and help them discover the beauty and gifting He placed in them.  I believe our lives are a journey with a purpose, a plan, and a destiny ordained by God. I hope to help create opportunities for women to discover who they are as they courageously move toward theirs.

Thank, Karen for giving us a glimpse of your heart.

I am delighted to be on this leadership team with her as well as Karen Wright and Dian Glover.  You will be hearing more from each of them soon!

Are you ready to start getting to know each other a little better?  

Please leave a comment today telling us a little about yourself, your interests, and your family.  How long have you been at Lake Valley?  Do you have any hobbies?  Would you like to recommend a book  you enjoyed reading recently?  We want to hear from you!

Thanks for stopping by,

Monday, July 30, 2012

A few Blog Tips and a further Introduction

Hi Ladies!

Thanks to all of you who so quickly found us and commented here on Connecting.  I know this is new to many of you so I thought it would be good to start off with a few tips to make your visits a little less frustrating.

It would be great if you chose to subscribe by e-mail.  In the right column, outside this text box, you will see a space for you to enter your e-mail address.  Once you hit submit, you will need to go through a verification by typing in the wonky words given.  When you finsh the process, you will automatically receive an e-mail each time I make a new post.  You won't have to check in to see if there is something new, it will come to you!

Secondly, you can stop being anonymous by adding your name in the little box beside Comment as: click on the box and then click on name/url.  Type in your name and forget about the url unless you have one.  When you finish the process, your name will appear beside your comment instead of Anonymous.

It was good to stand in front of the congregation yesterday and be introduced by Morgan as part of the leadership team for the Ministry to Women.  However, I realized that there are a lot of you who have no idea who any of us are beyond that.  Over the next few posts, each of us will tell you a little more about ourselves.  Today, it is my turn.

My name is Suzanne Russell, I have been married to Mark for almost 38 years.  We have two adult children.  Our daughter Wesley, married to Tyler Choate, is the mother of Hudson, our only grand child.  Our son, Mark Stephen will graduate in December with a Masters in Community Counseling from Denver Seminary.  We are one of the founding families of Lake Valley, which means we have been around since 1993!  I enjoy paper-crafting and blogging about it as a hobby, as well as the occasional golf game with my husband.  I spend most of my days managing our household, grand-mothering, mentoring, working out at the gym, and now, writing this blog.  I have had a variety of roles at Lake Valley over the years, but being part of this Women's Ministry team is my new favorite!

For a while, I have felt somewhat detached from the body of women in my church.  Along with that, there has been a lack of direction, a sense that I just didn't belong any more.  Surely after all these years, I still have a place in my own church!  I believe God led me to feel that way because a lot of other women are experiencing similar feelings.  I am grateful to say that He has given me real hope, a sense of freedom and calling as I have never felt before.  I want to be part of a Women's Liberation Movement.  Not the bra-burning, man-bashing kind that led so many of my generation to despair, but real freedom to be who I was created to be.  The one and only Suzanne Russell that God loves and called to walk along side Him as His kingdom expands in this world.  I believe He created me for a ministry of presence.  As the Holy Spirit hovered over the unformed earth (see Genesis1), I feel called to hover over the women of our church in a way that encourages you to grow and be the one and only you for whom God has a unique plan; a destiny.  I want to share my experience, hope and victories with you.

Feel free to leave a comment, ask a question, or tell us more about yourself.  That's how this Connecting thing will succeed!

Thanks for stopping by,

Friday, July 20, 2012


Hello and welcome to the very first post of Connecting.

This is a brand new blog created just for the women of Lake Valley Community Church, Hot Springs, Arkansas.  Are you feeling special yet?  I hope so, because you have been on the hearts and minds of a group of women serving as the Lake Valley Ministry to Women leadership team.  I am talking about Dian Glover, Suzanne Russell, Karen Stuckey, and Karen Wright.  You will be hearing more about this team and the future for the Ministry to Women during the church service on July 29th.  Until then, I hope you will begin to think about your questions, thoughts, hopes, and dreams for yourself and all of the women in our church.

Did you know that the word "blog" is a contraction of 'web log'?  It simply describes an online discussion or information site. This blog is designed to be a great place for us to begin to talk about what is on our minds.  You will see some regular features, some guest bloggers, some "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" ideas, and who knows what else may evolve!  Our hope is that you will read it and respond to it by leaving your comments at the end of each post.  You will be able to see comments left by others allowing you to join the conversation.

In case you have little (or no) experience with participating in a blog conversation, feel free to contact me by e-mail with your questions and I will try to help.  Or better yet, leave your question or thoughts in the comment box below and start a conversation!

I am truly looking forward to hearing from YOU!

Thanks for stopping by,