miles to go…

snippets from the zellner family

Since jumping back in September 9, 2014

I have had the privilege of jumping back into the teaching world again. I am teaching 4th and 5th grade reading this year and it has been 12 years since I have been in an established classroom. People have been asking me how it is going. I answer,”It is just busy enough that I don’t go to bed stressed, but there is just enough time to get everything done in the day.” It’s a good tired. 

I have been thankful for so many things over the past five weeks:

1)Watching students soak in the 30 minutes of silent reading time that we have on Wednesdays. They have great stamina to read extended periods and I can tell the teachers in the grades below have done a great job building that reading stamina.

2) Listening to students catch their breath as they realize a new detail about our read aloud book. They gasp when they put information together- they inhale when they hear a new thought- they hurry to write what they have figured out. 

3) Celebrating their successes with them- getting to watch a child light up as he tells you about finishing his book or making a 100 on his reading comprehension test. 

4) hearing feedback about how much they love the read aloud we are doing- boys that you would think would be too cool for class are plugged into the story and eager to hear the next chapter. They are identifying with characters, feeling sympathy in situations where they should, and applying it in the classroom. My 5th grade is reading The Tiger Rising and the 4th grade is reading Because of Winn Dixie. What a huge Kate DiCamillo fan I have become!

5) watching them take care of one another- Today I had the privilege of watching students come alongside an emotionally hurting child. They noticed his pain, asked me individually what was wrong, took the initiative to care for him, didn’t leave him in his sadness. My heart was so full.

There is nothing like walking through a year of learning with students in an English class. I feel blessed beyond measure.


sweet steadfastness- a life celebrated April 23, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — zellner @ 9:33 am

Yesterday I attended the funeral of my dear friend’s mother. Her mother, Anna Beth, was the quintessential wife, mother and pastor’s wife and I had the pleasure of benefitting from seeing her do all of those roles so well. The pastor who spoke abut her yesterday did such a good job capturing her spirit. She was sweet. And as he said, even the test of marriage, parenting and eventually Alzheimer’s could not take away that sweetness that was the core of who she was.

It was a reminder to me of the beauty and power of daily obedience. Not name up in lights, flashy serving of the Lord. But in the trenches of service in her home and in her church. An open door to outsiders, a place of rest for her family and her friends, an investment in the children of the church. Steadfastness comes to mind and it was so beautiful to celebrate that about her.

One of the most powerful images came from a surprising place. As I mentioned, Anna Beth was a pastor’s wife- a PCA pastor’s wife. At the beginning of the service, a long line of men entered and filled four long rows at the front right of the church. Then the family filled four rows on the left side of the church. These men are all PCA pastors who had come to support Mr. Smith. They must have come from many places and from far away for some of them. The line was so long and such a powerful symbol of support during this grief. In our denomination, the pastor does not join the local church that he is serving. He is a member of the Presbytery. In essence, these men are his church, his elders. So we were witnessing his elders care for him not only as coworkers in the ministry, but as friends as well. It was so touching.

I can see so much of Mrs Smith in my friend Lisbeth. What an investment Mrs Smith made in her 4 children who have grown up to love the Lord, have precious families, and serve the church in so many ways. What a return on her steadfastness. What she did was so very important. And that is good for this momma of 4 to be challenged by.



age of opportunity April 14, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — zellner @ 9:23 am
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Just starting Paul David Tripp’s Age of Opportunity, a Biblical Guide to Parenting Teens.  I have had this book on my shelf for years- it comes highly recommended by so many in my life. And I am so glad that there is a little room in my life right now to read it.


Parenting teenagers gets the same response in conversations that marriage can get sometimes. Roll of the eyes, comments on how difficult it is, a you-just-wait piece of advice that leaves the hearer full of dread. The connotation is that the experience is going to be so bad that you will be lucky to survive it and the joy you feel right now in parenting your infant (or being engaged in the marriage analogy) will quickly fade once you hit the hard road of jr high!

I am only in the first two chapters and I am already impressed with Tripp’s ability to point out why that cynicism rears its ugly head.

Our own idols.

“These years are hard for us because they expose the wrong thoughts and desires in our own hearts.” (17)


He asks us what part of creation have we exchanged for the Creator. What really rules our heart and blocks our vision in relationship to our children? Those idols will be a stumbling block in our relationship with them. (and truly a stumbling block in ALL of our relationships). He uses the illustration of a hand in front of your face. As the fingers block your view of what is in front of you, so do our idols as we look at our teens (or anyone else).

Our idol of respect. Our idol of appreciation. Our idol of comfort. Our idol of Success. Our idol of control.

When these idols become what we live for, “we will unwittingly look with hyper-vigilant eyes for” them in every situation. (33)

Looking for areas where they were not respectful, areas where they made our lives difficult or failed to appreciate all of our efforts. And we become angry.

Angry that they have taken away something very valuable to us.

“Parenting is not to conform my children to my image, but to work so that they are conformed to the image of Christ! My goal is not to clone my tastes, my opinions, and my habits in my children.I am not looking for my image in them; I long to see Christ’s.” (38)

I already love this book and know it will be a blessing to me as we welcome the teenage years; as it encourages me to see those years as an opportunity to help our children grow in their faith. That is exciting! I am thankful for those people in our life who speak of their teenage children as blessings too. We need to hear the joy of the experience too.




The Unexpected Power of Encouragement- Women’s Retreat! April 8, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — zellner @ 9:14 pm

“I’m worn out!” “I am not sure how much more I can handle” “I am lonely.” “I need more girlfriend time- the way my life is going I could use the encouragement” “I just can’t see how this circumstance will work out” “I am feeling hopeless” “There is just so much on me.”

These kinds of phrases swirl through conversations and prayer requests all the time. We are a worn out group in search of real connection and real encouragement.

If I could encourage you to do something for your own walk with the Lord this year and for your relationships in this community, I would encourage you to attend the Women’s conference that we are hosting on Friday and Saturday, May 2nd and 3rd. Pam Caldwell, a bible teacher and women’s retreat speaker from Birmingham , AL is coming to our church to challenge us in the area of Biblical Encouragement.

She has been studying this topic all year long with her own biblestudy that she leads at Faith Presbyterian Church and she has seen how crucial biblical encouragement is to a believer- how important community is to a believer.


She is going to focus on Ephesians 4:29 “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”

We will spend time considering what unwholesome talk is and what the root of it is. We will see what is unique about a community of believers who speak hope into one another’s lives. We will study God’s word together and grow in our love for Him and what He has done for us.

The schedule will be :

Friday, May 2nd  Registration from 6-6:30pm. Session #1 6:30-7:30pm and a dessert/ coffee bar to follow.

Saturday, May 3rd   Session #2 9-10:00 am   Session #3 10:15-11:15 am We will have a salad luncheon following and snacks available all day. It’s free- no cost to you!

My prayer is that God would use this conference to show us how great His love for us is, how sufficient His word is and how beautiful are the relationships that He has granted us.

If you have any questions, please leave a comment or call our church office at 662 8871975.

daisys          daisys


Come like a child April 7, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — zellner @ 9:56 am

During Sunday school yesterday, our youth group studied what sin is. They wrote down what the Bible says to say, to think, to do and to not do. We read Ephesians 5 and the 10 commandments and the fruits of the spirit. In just those few passages, we see how impossible it is to do what the Bible says to do.  “Be imitators of Jesus”says one verse and another for this section says,”Be perfect therefore as your heavenly father is perfect” Mt 5:48.

As the youth studied what God said, they were so tender to learn- they asked questions…good questions.They evaluated their own failures in these areas and they recognized that they struggled with ongoing sin such as pride, anger, jealousy, revenge. I realized as we were discussing sin why the Lord says

“Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”

Did you see that?

Unless you CHANGE and become LIKE LITTLE CHILDREN- you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Why like little children? Because they spend their whole day learning, being instructed, being shaped by their teachers and parents- submitting themselves to others as they grow in knowledge. They see themselves as learners who need to be taught. They are under authority- They say “yes ma’am” when you ask them to do something. They trust and they come running to you when they need help. They seek you out when they are fearful.

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And it stands in such contrast to adults- we are independent, self sufficient, take us like we are because I’m not changing! I already know what I need to know, Who are you to tell me something about my life? my actions? my thoughts? what I do or what I don’t do? I’m not changing, so you better learn to deal with it.

But God’s word does tell us what to do- what to say-what to think- what to not do. It says we need to submit to one another and welcome each other into our business. It’s called accountability and it’s vulnerable-recognizing that we need help. God calls us to be soft hearted- teachable- vulnerable- honest- and part of a body of believers (the church). You just can’t deny that the Bible teaches this if you read the scriptures.

I marvel at how humble our children can be- how much instruction they take, how they allow teaching into their lives and apply it to their situations. Oh that all of us as adults would become like children in this regard. Are there areas in your life that you won’t let God’s word speak to? Are there areas you claim adulthood in and refuse to submit to the Lord? Ask the Holy Spirit to soften you and to give you eyes to see that area as He sees that area.


Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” Mt 19:4





unraveling March 25, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — zellner @ 2:47 pm

I am amazed at how much work it takes to keep things clean-

right now I am sweeping my floors…again. I have to. I have to sweep it daily- most the time, I have to sweep it multiple times in a day. after every meal that I cook, after the kids play outside, after the kids go to school and there is a fighting chance for order and cleanliness!

But it’s not just sweeping. It’s also washing and vacuuming and dusting and remaking beds and scrubbing tubs and toilets and countertops. They just keep getting dirty! And that is only the inside of the house- we haven’t even begun the outside work of the lawn and the weeds and the pruning.

It is not by accident that we have this perpetual pattern of cleanliness and order and then an unraveling of that beauty.

Our physical lives teach us spiritual truths- In this life, the fall is at work and we have to push back the unraveling. I am reminded while I sweep that I have to work to make things clear in conversations, we have to work to keep our bodies healthy, we have to work to be disciplined to read God’s word and spend time in prayer. Those are efforts. And are necessary to prosper emotionally, physically, and spiritually. Why are we surprised in any of these areas if there is unraveling and we have to work to put them back in order?

These things won’t come easily- they are marred by the effects of the fall. Family life isn’t easy. Raising kids isn’t easy. Church isn’t easy. Learning isn’t easy. Exercise isn’t easy. Growth isn’t easy. There is a push going on. A push to undo the order, a push to complicate the easy, a push to unravel the beautiful.

But the effort is worth it. Just like I love my house when it is clean, we will love our relationships when we do the hard work of refining our communication. Just like I benefit physically from great exercise, my relationship with the Lord will flourish if I put the time into the means of grace that He has given us: His word, prayer, fellowship with believers, church, the Lord’s Supper, and praise.

There’s a popular children’s book that is called Going on A Bear Hunt. In that book as the characters meet a variety of difficult conditions (mud, snow, wind) there is a refrain that says You can’t go over it, you can’t go under it, you’ve got to go through it. And the characters slosh through the mud or they power through the wind. All to get to the bear that they are searching for on their bear hunt.

That’s how growth in these areas is- you can’t go over it, you can’t go under it, you can’t skip around it, you can’t ignore it. You’ve got to go through it. Stumble, trip, stumble, trip.Stumble, trip.




All must be well February 25, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — zellner @ 11:19 am
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What promises, what confidence we have.

Through the Love of God our Savior, All will  be well.

Free and changeless is his favor, All is well.

Precious is the blood that healed us.

Perfect is the grace that sealed us.

Strong the hand stretched forth to shield us, All must we well.

Though we pass through tribulation, All will be well.

Ours is such a full salvation, All is well.

Happy, still in God confiding.

Fruitful, if in Christ abiding.

Steadfast through the spirit’s guiding. All must be well.

We expect a bright tomorrow. All will be well.

Faith  can sing through days of sorrow. All is well.

On our Father’s love relying.

Jesus every need supplying.

Yes, in living or in dying.

All must be well.



Valentine’s 2014 February 14, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — zellner @ 10:30 pm
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What a strange week it has been- snow, sickness, valentine’s day. That means a lot of kids at home, a lot of messy house, and a lot of thwarted plans.

But tonight we are getting things back together and we celebrated Valentine’s by doing what we always do…dinner, fun foods and our love notes to one another.

This dinner I was thinking about all the cute valentine ideas out there that I didn’t get to use and I decided to serve food that we could use some of those fun valentine wishes… like a tableful of candy heart messages.

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We ate ribs and caught up on everyone’s valentine’s parties and social life.

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We finished by sharing the things we love about each other- Getting to tell Cord how proud I am of him for praying to receive Jesus this past Monday- and how much I love his wrestling that turns into hugs and how proud I am of his effort at school and during homework time. Getting to tell Lucy how much I love our times at pick up when she climbs in my lap and we laugh and sing together and how funny she is and how much I love her optimism. Getting to tell Emma Frances how proud I am of her for doing her best at school, how much I appreciate her work on honesty and how much I love how she processes every situation, how creative she is and how much fun we have cooking together. Getting to tell Olivia how proud I am of who she is becoming, her sensitivity to the Lord’s work in her life, and all her help that she provides for our home. Getting to tell Eric that I am so thankful for how he makes me coffee every morning and unloads the dishwater and keeps children so that I can see my friends, how he pursues truth and learning and how he is so faithful and obedient in the mundane- the real stuff…And I get to hear my little ones tell each other how thankful they are for each other.

I have to say one of my favorites this year was when Lucy told her daddy,”Even though you are you, I still love you.” classic lucy line.


Pushing back the fall February 3, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — zellner @ 1:57 pm

I. Hate. the. Fall.   Not the season that welcomes my Auburn Tigers to the field and encourages us with its rich colors and cooling breezes. I hate the fall. Of man.

The ushering in of sin- both the kind we commit and the kind done to us. Sin that separates us from the Father and that separates us from one another. Sin that freezes our hearts and makes them cold, and sin that fires up our hearts and makes them burn with anger. Sin that discourages us and so easily entangles us and sin that deceptively woos us. The fall had such enormous implications in our lives. Eternal ones and crushing ones. It complicates our communication. It hinders our love for one another. It lies to us and tells us that being isolated is better than being with others who love us and love the Lord. It enslaves us with promises of personal freedom and knocks our feet out from under us when we discover that we have been tricked by our idols.

The gospel, that good news, saves us. From our sin, from its power over us, from our thoughts, from ourselves, from death.  And this gospel- this good news is that through Jesus’ perfect life and substitutionary death we have ACCESS to the Lord. That by the Holy Spirit we are united to Christ and we have freedom from those things that enslave us. There is power in the blood- and I don’t mean that lightly or colloquially… We are able to now see sin for what it is and we are able to choose to pursue holiness and we are able to hear the lies that we once believed and we are able to act differently than we once did. Not because of us, but because of HIM. He pushes back the effects of the fall in me and in you. He pushes back the effects of the fall in our churches and in our relationships.

What will that look like? Instead of running from one another- or hiding from one another, we will run to each other and repent and listen. Instead of “winning” in arguments, we will seek where we are wrong and apologize as far as it depends on us. Instead of making our own kingdoms, we will lay it down and work for His. Instead of pleasing ourselves with as much as we want in all areas of our lives, we ask Him where do you want me to be and what do you want to do with the money you have given me and how do you want me to spend my time and who do you want me to befriend? Oh the possibilities if we would welcome the nudges that the Holy Spirit gives us.

I just got back from seeing WICKED with my oldest two and my college roommate. You know the great song “defying gravity”. The words,”I’m limited.” “Together we’re unlimited” are ringing through my mind. The possibilities of what His Kingdom can do are unlimited- when we work in tandem with the Holy Spirit. We aren’t defying gravity- we are defying the effects of the fall. Rising above them, so to speak.

And the discouraging patterns of the world will be pushed back and we will be encouraged- with man, this is impossible, but with God all things are possible. And such great healing will happen…the deep, beautiful, spiritual healing of all that He created.

**Writing for my own encouragement to work in tandem with the Holy Spirit and not against it. As is true in the Kingdom of God, it will be the opposite of the way the world teaches to handle any situation.


Hope for Kids! December 9, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — zellner @ 10:27 am

Starting in January, Indianola Academy will begin a program that is called Hope for Kids! It is a program/ curriculum that teaches children about their faith and about how to share their faith. It will be focusing on 4th and 5th graders.  Several Delta schools are currently using the program and the participants are raving about the connections that are being made between adult volunteers and the students, the children’s willingness to share their faith, and the impact the program is having on individual lives.

Tag Reed, the coordinator for Hope for Kids in the Delta, was looking for someone to head up the program at Indianola Academy. The elementary principal, Sylvia Spivey, and I went to the training in October and set off to organize what it will take to make it happen at IA as soon as possible. We didn’t want the current 5th graders to miss it!

We have narrowed the year long material to a 16 week curriculum for this year and aim to start on January 15th.  A typical meeting will include: A fun welcome, a review of last week’s lesson (students will learn hand motions to explain the gospel, as well as memorize 11 verses that will help them understand the gospel.) Each week the students will have a take home craft that they are asked to share with someone in their lives- we start each meeting with students having a chance to tell about how they shared that take home craft. They will then learn a new aspect of the gospel (sin/ God’s holiness/Jesus/ Free gift of eternal life/ saving faith) through hand motions and skits and stories. We will then break into small groups of 4 students per adult volunteer. This time is so valuable! The students work in pairs to learn their verses. Each student will have a booklet for his or her crafts. These crafts and activity pages will be done in the small group. Then the adult volunteer prays with the children and they return to the big group for a final review and goodbye.

The 4th an 5th grade have over 70 students when combined- so we NEED 18 ADULT VOLUNTEERS that will commit to coming 16 time to invest in these students.

I have 7 already and am praying that the Lord will send 11 more, so that we can work with both the 4th and 5th grade.

It is my job to make sure the volunteers feel prepared and that all the material is ready for them. I am currently organizing each of the craft boxes, props, materials, notebooks,etc  that need to be used starting Jan 15th.  Since the program is brand new, all the materials must be gathered. We have been blessed by donations that covered 13 of the 18 boxes that we need. I will continue to visit area churches and groups to talk about the program and see who can participate, either by volunteering or by donation for the materials.

I cannot tell you how excited I am for this to come to IA. I can’t wait for my own children to have a chance to learn the material- I want them to see that large group of adults who love the Lord and are willing to be there to invest in them. Discipleship takes time- growth comes by feeding and watering and waiting and the repeating that all over again. I know the commitment is a big one, but the investment will produce fruit that far outweighs the time given.