Why That Preacher’s Wife is Wearing Jeans to Church on Easter





One of the most common responses I hear from people as an excuse to miss church is that they don’t have any nice clothes.  Several years ago, I wrote an article for The Christian Standard entitled “A Challenge to Church Clothes.”   My main point is that we don’t have to dress up to please God.  He doesn’t care one single bit how I am dressed to go to church.  I do believe modesty is desired but beyond that…. what does it matter if I wear jeans, a frilly, flowery dress or sweats?  The response to that article was strong.  I got letters telling me I didn’t deserve to worship if I couldn’t dress up and give my best to God each Sunday.  Not.  the.  point.  Anyway, without exploring the depths of this subject, I am making a statement.  Here it comes… are you ready?

I, the preacher’s wife, am wearing jeans to church on Easter Sunday.

I don’t think the world will collapse.  Easter celebrations will go on as planned.  Delicious lunches will be consumed.  Jesus will be worshiped.  No matter what I wear.

Tomorrow is Easter.  I will celebrate Jesus’ resurrection (even in my jeans).  Very important day in my Christian faith.  It’s not a fable.  It’s not some fairy tale.  It’s not a myth or tall tale.  It really happened.  Isn’t that almost impossible to believe?  I mean, come on!  If you  go to church tomorrow somebody is going to get in front of you and tell you that a guy came back from the dead.  In our worlds, our finite minds, with our life experiences, this sounds absurd.  And it is.  Really.

But Jesus isn’t limited by our world, our finite minds or our life experiences.    And thank goodness for that!  But I know of a lot of people who won’t go to church tomorrow.  Not because they are bad people.  Not because they don’t believe.  In fact, most believe in God but they have a variety of reasons to stay home.  They get to sleep late.  They get to stay in their sweats all day.  They get to spend the day with family.  They get to rest.   But the one excuse I don’t want to hear is “I don’t have nice enough clothes.”  So I’m wearing jeans.  If the preacher’s wife wears jeans, you can surely wear jeans without any judgment, right?

My challenge is this:  try a church you feel comfortable in.  Just try.  Tomorrow.  If you hear something that challenges you, makes you a better person, makes you feel something you thought you had lost touch with, wouldn’t it be worth it?  You can still sleep late – most services don’t start until after 10 a.m.  Wear anything you want.  At our church (as with a lot of churches) you CAN stay in sweats all day.  AND you can bring your family.  And best of all, you’ll rest like you haven’t rested in years.  There will be peace.  Beyond understanding.  Even if you wear jeans.  With holes in them…  it’s okay.  We won’t judge.

Tammy Lanham
Tammy Lanham’s husband, Tommy, ministers at New Castle Christian Church in New Castle, Kentucky.






One Beautiful Twenty Dollar Bill

Bet you can’t read THIS to the end…….. you won’t believe it….

             We started out trying to get out of town for the day to take care of some business.  Tommy’s car needed 2 tires put on (it’s been sitting for 4 weeks) so we were going to drop by the tire shop on the way out of town.  BUT because it has been sitting so long, the tires needed air and one of them was completely flat.  So that delayed our start.  We have a little plug in compressor and managed to get the rims off the ground.  Then we found some fix-a-flat in the house and blew up the flat one.

             We drove 5 miles to the closest town and stopped at a gas station to fill up the tires.  Air pump doesn’t work.  Drove down the road to a second gas station – air pump doesn’t work.  Third and last gas station in town – air pump doesn’t work.  So we tried filling the tires up with that little plug in compressor (plugged into the van) only to blow fuse after fuse in the van.  So we gave up and decided to drive the 13 miles to Shelbyville on half inflated tires.

     Cash only        We made it to the shop and dropped off the car.  The mechanic said they could have it done in 30 minutes.  We stopped by Goodwill and leisurely shopped for 30 minutes.  We got back to the shop to find the car jacked up but no new tires.  Apparently my husband’s tires have a lock on them???  He had to give them a special key (I didn’t even know such a thing existed) to unlock the wheels so they could change the tires.  THEN we had to wait another 30 minutes.  Might as well grab some lunch at Taco Bell.  We got back to pick up the car and for the very first time, pull straight into the parking lot (we had parked on the side earlier) only to find a HUGE sign out front “CASH only – NO EXCEPTIONS.”  Okay – no biggie, right?  We’ll just run over to the ATM and get the cash.

             Ummmmm….. I haven’t used an actual ATM for over a decade and I have no idea what my pin is.  So we drove to the other side of Shelbyville to my Fifth Third branch.  I walked in, fill out the withdrawal slip, walk up to the counter only to be told I couldn’t get any money.  What???  The computers were down.  They couldn’t take deposits, make any withdrawals… nothing.  Seriously?  So I asked if I could wait a few minutes (and pray fervently that God would somehow restore the magical powers of the computers so I could get some money and get our car!!!) and they said it had been down for hours.  Hmmmmmmm…….  When I asked if I could cash a check, she said (now listen carefully to see if THIS makes sense to YOU) – I could take the check to another bank and they could cash it for me but that Fifth Third couldn’t cash a check since I had an account there with them.  WahhhHuh?  Feeling completely dumbfounded and frustrated, I asked her to repeat herself 2 more times – I thought I was losing my mind – seriously?  Can’t cash a check at my own bank???  She told me to go to the bank in Wal-Mart.  (Remember, by this time, we were supposed to be heading out of town 3 hours earlier.)

             I got out to the van where my husband and children were patiently waiting.  I told my husband the computers were down and we couldn’t get any money.  He looked at me like I had lost my mind.  I was beginning to feel like I had.  We went through the kids’ savings envelopes I keep in my wallet, dug through our wallets, change bins, looked between seats… and found a whopping fifty two dollars!  But the bill was sixty dollars.  I needed a measly eight bucks.

             I drove to Wal-Mart and walked into the Citizens National Bank.  They were incredibly nice and told me they couldn’t cash a check unless I had an account there or the check was drawn on an account there.  Sure.  Sounds about right at this point.  What now?

      mop       Just an observation:  when you raise your voice and yell “I need to get some money!” in front of a bank teller’s window, people tend to take notice.  As I saw security guards, a loss prevention specialist and a big guy yielding a large mop handle head my way, I quickly lowered my voice and told them our situation and asked if they had any other ideas.  The amazingly sweet girl behind the counter smiled and calmed my would-be attackers.  Then she told me I could get $20 cash back when I make a purchase at Wal-Mart.

            chocolateOkay – so I go buy chocolate.  That’s EXACTLY what I need right now.  Chocolate.  Lots of it.  Then I tried to use my debit card.  I always use it as a credit so I don’t know the debit pin (SHUT UP – I KNOW I should probably know my passwords but I don’t – OKAY???  That’s not the point of this story…….)  So the cashier asked me if I had any actual checks on me.  Well, yes… yes, I did.  She said if I made a minimum purchase, she could use the check for my transaction and I could get $20 back.  I started throwing chocolate on the counter – Reese’s, Reese’s Big Cup, Reese’s White Eggs, 3 Musketeers, oh… and a game of Uno…..  I told her to tell me when I reached my minimum purchase.  She stopped me somewhere before I got to the lighter that looks like a gun, this week’s issue of TV Guide and the doggie finger nail polish….

             She wished me luck and handed me back a receipt, a bag full of chocolate and a beautiful (and I do mean stunningly beautiful), green, crisp, clean, (seriously, it almost glowed) $20 bill.  I wanted to sing the “Hallelujah!” chorus but if you’ve ever heard me sing – you’ll know why I chose not to – I’d hate to scare their customers away.

             I walked out of the line towards the bank up to the front clutching my beautiful $20 bill for dear life.  I see the bank teller who had recommended this solution standing, clapping and cheering for my sweet victory!  “Go get your car girl!”  she shouts to me!$20 bill

             I march, rather proud and determined out of that store, opened the van door and slung the bag of chocolate towards my husband.  He didn’t know if it was a “Duck!  She’s mad, she’s got chocolate, and she may hurt someone!” kind of throw or a “Yeah, baby!  I have money AND I scored some chocolate!” kind of throw.  Either way, the flying 5 pound bag of various chocolates and the game of Uno missed his head by only centimeters.  He may have nightmares.

             So, nearly five hours after we began our trip out of town today, we returned to the shop.  We handed the mechanic $60 cash– consisting of a bunch of folded, crumpled one dollar bills and ONE beautiful $20.  We got in our separate vehicles, and DROVE HOME!   Out of town business will have to wait until another day!

             By the way, the place in Shelbyville is WONDERFUL – just remember, they require CASH only.  Anybody got $52 – I gotta pay back my kids!

Organizing Groceries & Saving Money!

This year, I have decided to work on my organizational skills when it comes to groceries and shopping.  I think I do really well keeping our grocery budget (just food) at $60 per week for our family of four but I really wanted to plan better.  Yes, I stayed at or under the budget each week but sometimes I would have to “borrow” from the next week’s budget to get something I forgot for this week, etc.  Sometimes I was making 3-4 trips a week to get groceries and just like a lot of you folks, I just don’t have time to do all that!

I decided to pick a month and do my menu planning and grocery shopping before the month began.  Yes, I am a wimp so I picked February because it was the shortest month… 🙂  It was to be an exercise in self discipline, planning ahead with menus and only making one trip to the grocery store (be it a LONG, overwhelming trip). I began this process last week by sitting down and organizing my menu planning and taking an inventory of my freezer, fridge and stockpile.  One of the things you have to be careful with when you stockpile is making sure you actually use the stuff you purchase.  So I developed my February menu by using most of the foods I already have on hand and then I made a list of what I would need to complete the month.  My biggest challenge has been planning for the fresh fruits and vegetables.  At the beginning of the month (the first 10 days or so), it’s easy to plan bananas, apples, salads, etc. but what do you do the rest of the month?  I decided to depend on canned fruits and vegetables (store-bought and self-canned at home from our garden) and dehydrated fruits and veggies for later in the month.  As for milk, our church buys milk and orange juice each Sunday for the breakfast they serve before Sunday School.  Our family has been blessed to be given the leftovers each week so we rarely have to buy milk or orange juice.

So today, I gathered the grocery coupons I have been accumulating, my sales ad (Kroger), my reusable bags and my two children and headed to Kroger.  Not long after walking in the door did I realize I had left my grocery list at home!!!  What a way to start this commitment to organization, huh??!!  ugh….

Once I entered Kroger, I began my regular routine – I stopped by the Manager’s Special section first and ran up on some really good buys.  Then I circled around to the bakery Ooops! cart where they put marked down breads and finally, we stopped at the produce overripe section.  I found a box of 8 organic kiwi (normally priced around 2/$1) for .49!  I bought 3 boxes.  Yes, they will need to be used very soon but they will dry very nicely in my dehydrator for the end of this month’s snacks.

With the help of The Krazy Coupon Lady (absolutely amazing free couponing website), I knew which items were on sale and matched them with good coupons to get some great deals.  Surprisingly, it only took me an hour and 30 minutes, start to finish.  I ended up with two carts filled to the brim!  At the checkout, my total was $301.03 before the sales and coupons.  My total after discounts was $145.31.  (And as an added bonus, I had a $100 gift card as a gift from our church that helped bring our total out of pocket to $45.31.)

And for those naysayers who complain that people who stockpile are silly (putting it nicely), let me share this story.  A family came by our church last Sunday night after Bible study and needed food.  Our church’s food bank has been dwindling since there is so much need in our community right now (as in most communities).  They specifically asked for children’s drinks and a bag of sugar.  My husband (who is a minister) called me and asked if we had anything to give to them.  Praise God our stockpile was there.

It has been a challenge preparing for this month but I will let you know how it’s going as the month goes.  For those of you who are interested, here are some photographs of my menu plans for the month.  (The third week of the month, we will be at JBC for homecoming so I didn’t plan many cooked foods for that week.)  You may notice I only plan 3 lunches and 3 dinners for our family.  The rest of the time, we eat leftovers or peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, whatever is around that’s convenient.

By the way, I’m teaching a class on how to do this on Saturday, February 25th.  Here’s the link for more information or to sign up!  http://ibloom.co/events/savemoney

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Summer Time / Family Time / Mosquito Time???…

Tonight was so much fun with the Gatliff family!  But let me tell you something –  6:30 photo shoot in the woods in late summer in southern Kentucky should be accompanied by LOTS of bug spray!!!!  These guys were troopers!  We were constantly swatting and I had to delete some of the images because there were mosquitos on their faces!  Poor guys!  But the hard work paid off – we got some great images!  What a fun family these guys were!  We really had to work to keep Dad under control – 🙂  He’s a nut!  Such fun… did I mention that I love what I do?????

This shoot also included Mrs. Amy Gatliff, author of The Power To Never Give Up… a book my husband Tommy Lanham, endorsed.  Here’s a link:  http://amygatliff.tatepublishing.net/  It’s a great story!  Worth the read!