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Monday, August 31, 2009

Connections - Blogs and Facebook

Be sure to vote on the new monthly Fun Poll:  "What's your favorite soft drink?"

Visit Laura's blog, Heavenly Homemakers, for more of GRATITUESDAY.

Isn't it amazing how connected we are these days?  Through the internet we are able to communicate with each other more than we ever could have dreamed of 20 years ago. 

I am especially grateful for the blogosphere which allows me the opportunity to "meet" so many new people all over the world.  I'm also grateful  for Facebook, which helps keep friends connected.  Some Facebook friends I've known for a long time and some only for a short time.  But, it's great to have the capability to communicate with so many of them in this way.  In our busy and hurried lives, it's nice to be able to sit down and jot someone a quick note of encouragement or to find out about what is going on in their lives.  The internet has brought a whole new way of keeping in contacting with each other and seeing into their lives via pictures and notes. The social aspect of the internet isn't for everyone and I'm sure it's not all used for good, either. But, from my vantage point, it's good.  Of course, many aren't interested in having a part of it, and that's okay.  (My husband is one of them :) although he doesn't mind if I'm on it.) We're all different - God made us that way.

I first got on Facebook right after the New Year and made a promise to myself:  If I was going to be on it, I was going to use it for good - to encourage others, to reach out to others, and to glorify God.  Many times I post a scripture on the status line.  Maybe it's a scripture that I've thought about during the day or maybe it's something I feel would help one of my "friends".   Many of my "friends" are uplifted by the scriptures.  If I can tell that someone is having a bad day by what they write on Facebook, I try to encourage them.  It's a whole new way of reaching out to others and a way to "Shine Like Stars".   And, in turn, my online friends encourage me, too.  It's great!

Connections through the blogospher continue to amaze me.  Jesus said, "go into all the world" and now the blog is another way of doing that!  But, when I began this blog, it was for selfish reasons, really.  Of course I wanted to glorify God in what I was doing, but I also wanted to do it for me.  I had just finished six years of teaching a ladies Bible class and missed it quite a bit.  I needed something to fill that void in my own life, so made the blog a goal for myself.  I knew that would help me think more about God in everyday life and keep me digging into His Word even more.  But, it didn't take long until my selfishness went away.  I then began writing for YOU.  I felt accountable to everyone that visited "Shine Like Stars" and read my posts...and I still do!  I want you to keep me accountable!   I pray that this blog has glorified God, but also that it has encouraged you.

Another connection made by the blogosphere is a recipe blog my mom, sister and I started in June.  It has been fun for all three of us and we've enjoyed sharing our recipes with so many of you.  If you haven't seen it, go to "Life's a Bowl of Cherries".  We would love to have you stop by! 

What are you grateful for today?

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Tell the Truth....and Nothing but the Truth

A story is told of four high school boys who couldn't resist the temptation to skip morning classes. Each had been smitten with a bad case of spring fever. After lunch they showed up at school and reported to the teacher that their car had a flat tire. Much to their relief, she smiled and said, "Well, you missed a quiz this morning, so take your seats and get out a pencil and paper." Still smiling, she waited as they settled down and got ready for her questions.  Then she said, "First question--which tire was flat?"

What do you think happened next in the story above?  I'm pretty sure the four boys would have either confessed or been "convicted" once they turned in their papers, don't you think?  What a wise teacher this was!

Lying is one thing that I will not tolerate with my children.  Of course they get in trouble for other types of misbehaving and disobedience, too, but I want them to know that lying is serious and it's not funny.  There are times when they tease and tell me something to have fun and play a joke.  That's not what I'm talking about.  I'm talking about a true lie...something that is not true or not admitting fault or wrong-doing.  It's deliberately not telling the truth.

In the Bible, Satan told the first lie ever recorded, which also led to the first sin.  In Genesis 3, God told Adam and Eve not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil or they would die.  But the cunning serpent tempted Eve and she took the bait and ate the fruit.  Then she gave some to Adam and he ate.  Because of that first lie, and because of the first sin, the world was changed forever.

Lies can change our lives, as well.  A lie can cause heartache and sorrow.  It can ruin friendships and relationships.  It can destroy marriages.  But most of all lies and sin can seperate us from God.

"Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator."
Colossians 3:9-10
"Truthful lips endure for ever, but a lying tongue lasts only a moment."
Proverbs 12:19

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Prepare for War!

Our son, Jacob, loves playing with army men.  He comes by it naturally because his daddy did, too, when he was a little boy. Today Jacob lined all of his army men up on the top of his bunk bed. 
He also placed them all over his and his brother's room.  The little green army men were everywhere....waiting for the enemy to attack.  The plastic soldiers have their weapons and are ready to defend themselves from every angle.
As I watched Jacob line up his men and saw how he strategically posed them as though they were really getting ready for a war, I thought about our lives as Christians.  We have an enemy and his name is Satan.  Satan can attack us in many different ways. He actively looks for ways to attack us.  (1 Peter 5:8)
We must be prepared for battle to win the war against Satan.  But, we don't have to go it alone.  We have the armor of God (Ephesians 14-18) to help us fight....and to win!  With God on our side, we can shout out the battle cry:  "Prepare for war, Satan!  We're ready to fight!"
"Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand." 
Ephesians 6:13

Friday, August 28, 2009

Eyes Like Vivian

I worked for an ophthalmologist for seven years.  During those years we saw thousands of patients each year - some with good eyesight and some with no eyesight at all.  I was always intrigued by the attitudes of the patients we encountered.  There were those who came into the office, whose eyesight had maybe gotten a tiny bit worse, but they "couldn't see a thing".  They were actually seeing pretty good, but in their mind they weren't because it wasn't as good as it used to be. 

On the other hand, there were patients who came in who could barely see anything at all...couldn't see the great big "E" at the end of the room, maybe could only see finger movement, and some saw nothing at all - total darkness.  The ones I remember who couldn't see anything or only saw finger movement were some of our happiest patients!  It seems strange, doesn't it?  Well, not really. Not when you think like Vivian.

Vivian is one sweet lady I remember in particular.  She was so kind and softspoken.  She loved to come visit Dr. K and us girls, too.  She brightened our day every time she came to visit, which was several times a year because she had glaucoma.  Vivian's vision had gone, but she didn't need her eyes to make her happy.  She had happiness that came from within her and not from external circumstances.  I believe Vivian also had her "eyes" on Jesus and was "looking" up, even though she could see almost nothing around her at all.

The story below reminds me of Vivian.  She passed away several years ago, but I think this could have been her own story.

Each Day Is A Gift
by Author Unknown

The 92-year-old, petite, well-poised and proud lady, who is fully dressed each morning by eight o'clock, with her hair fashionably coifed and makeup perfectly applied, even though she is legally blind, moved to a nursing home today.

Her husband of 70 years recently passed away, making the move necessary.

After many hours of waiting patiently in the lobby of the nursing home, she smiled sweetly when told her room was ready.

As she maneuvered her walker to the elevator, I provided a visual description of her tiny room, including the eyelet sheets that had been hung on her window. "I love it," she stated with the enthusiasm of an eight-year-old having just been presented with a new puppy.

"Mrs. Jones, you haven't seen the room... just wait."

"That doesn't have anything to do with it," she replied. "Happiness is something you decide on ahead of time. Whether I like my room or not doesn't depend on how the furniture is arranged, it's how I arrange my mind. I already decided to love it. It's a decision I make every morning when I wake up. I have a choice; I can spend the day in bed recounting the difficulty I have with the parts of my body that no longer work, or get out of bed and be thankful for the ones that do. Each day is a gift, and as long as my eyes open I'll focus on the new day and all the happy memories I've stored away, just for this time in my life."

She went on to explain, "Old age is like a bank account, you withdraw from what you've put in. So, my advice to you would be to deposit a lot of happiness in the bank account of memories Thank you for your part in filling my Memory bank. I am still depositing."

And with a smile, she said: "Remember the five simple rules to be happy:
1. Free your heart from hatred.
2. Free your mind from worries.
3. Live simply.
4. Give more.
5. Expect less."

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Bite Your Tongue

If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless.
James 1:26

The book of James talks a lot about the tongue.  As humans we sometimes have a hard time keeping a tight rein on the tongue, as the verse above suggests, but as Christians, we must try. Why? Because we are to live as Christ lived.  He is our example. And also, as the verse above tells us:if we don't keep a tight rein on our tongues, we deceive ourselves and our religion is worthless. No Christian would want a worthless religion, would they?

Think of all of the negative ways we can use our tongues:  gossip, slander, curse, criticize, lie, humiliate, vent anger, complain and there are others we could list. So, obviously, there are many, many ways to use our tongues.

I had a friend who once said she was in a conversation and she had to "bite her tongue".Then she said, "Literally!" She was half-way joking, but I thought about that. How many times would it have been better for me to have "literally" bitten my tongue than to actually say what I said?  Too many times, I'm afraid. Although I have worked to control my tongue a lot, I have to admit that I still have a long way to go to have total rein on it. But, God knows that and He is aware of the struggle it is with me and maybe with you, too.

Look at the following passage of James 3:2-10:

We all stumble in many ways. If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in check.When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts.
Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and creatures of the sea are being tamed and have been tamed by man, but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.
With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God's likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be.

So, we see in that passage that James says (in God's inspired Word), that no man can tame the tongue. Does this mean we can never have a tight rein on it? Or does it mean that no man can tame it on his own? I believe that it's the latter.  I can not control it totally on my own. I must rely on God and His Spirit to help me control it.

Much damage can be done by the words we say. On the other hand, much good can come from the tongue. Some positive ways to use are tongues are for praising God, or encouraging and uplifting others, for confessing to God and to others when we've done wrong, for teaching others and telling others about Jesus, and many others ways.

These are the ways we should use our tongues - to glorify God and in the name of Jesus. 

"And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him."
Colossians 3:17

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Thank You, God!

Well, if you read yesterday's post below or here, you'll know that our house has been struck with "swine flu". Tyler, the youngest, who tested positive for the flu, woke up at 5:00 a.m. this morning with fever again, but went back to sleep after getting ibuprofen and didn't wake up until 10:00 a.m.! He's been fine ever since - "Thank You, God!" It's really amazing how fast the Tamiflu helped him. The pediatrician called today and talked to my husband. He said that it really does work fast. That's great.

I knew Tyler was better when I heard him talking - loudly - and like "Mickey Mouse"...his favorite impersonation! Also, he came to me this afternoon and asked if he could cook lunch for us (for his two siblings, himself and me). I asked him what he wanted to make and he said, "Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. I haven't cooked in a long time!". And so, he did. It was so sweet.

We went ahead a got two of our other children on the Tamiflu and I'm glad that we did. They both had fever throughout the day, but their coughing has subsided some. They should be fine by tomorrow, but will have to wait and see.

Our oldest son who was only sick Monday is still fine and didn't have to take Tamiflu. I did get on it. This morning I felt horrible...don't think I've ever had the flu of any kind that I remember, but this thing made me ache all over, even in the knuckles! That was weird. After getting on the medicine, though, I'm already better (Thank You, God!).

The school called all the parents of kids who have been sick this week and let them know, just to take extra precautions. So far Tyler is the only "official" one. It is something to watch for, but nothing to panic about. The Tamiflu is great. Of course, for those with weakened immune systems, they would need to watch more carefully for complications.

Thank you for all of your prayers on our behalf. We appreciate it very much!

"The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective." James 5:16

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

it's all in how you look at it...

Yesterday our oldest son, Zachary, was sick...running fever and coughing. Come to find out, there were 10 out of his class of 24 either sick at home, went home during school, or were in the nurse's office. Zachary was much better this morning and even went to school today. Early this morning our youngest, Tyler (a.k.a. Biscuit) began running fever and coughing. Of course, he stayed home from school and rested most all of the day even slept over three hours.

Late this afternoon, Tyler's fever shot up to 103.8, so I gave him ibuprofen and immediately called the pediatrician's office because they were getting ready to close. The nurse said to take him to the emergency room, which is an hour away from our small town. There are some closer, but it's where our four children were born and where their doctor is located. When we got there, we could tell the fever had gone down some, but they got us right in quickly. Tyler really acted sick, which is very unusual for him.

The doctor couldn't find anything wrong on examination, but tested him for strep throat and swine flu. The strep was negative, but the flu was positive. That means that Tyler is 92% postive for swine flu. This information didn't surprise my husband and I. In fact, we kind of suspected it because the way it had begun so quickly with Tyler and with Zachary the day before, but also because of so many being sick in our middle school yesterday and the symptoms they all had - fever and cough.

The ER doctor prescribed Tamiflu and said we should call to see if our other children (and us, too) needed to be on it. We'll do that in the morning. Because of the results, the information will be passed on to the State of Oklahoma. The test will be confirmed, as well. By the time we got back home, our other two children who were feeling fine when we left, were coughing and were also running I'm coughing and feeling a little "yuck", but not too bad. My husband usually never gets what the rest of us do, so prayerfully that will be the case with this thing.

We're not worriers or panicers (is that a word???) by nature, so we're calm about the whole thing. God is always in control so there's no need to worry. Because the boys and I have asthma, I do want us to be extra cautious and watch for complications because of that. The doctor did say that most cases of swine flu are mild and most never go to the doctor or know they have it. Tyler's fever just happened to get high, where Zachary's didn't do that yesterday....and then today Zachary was also better.

We told Tyler that he was the first person we knew that had swine flu in our small town. He now thinks he's famous. He's excited and thinks people might want his autograph! He thinks this because a few of the Texas Rangers baseball players had swine flu several weeks ago and in his "make-believe" life he is a pro baseball player. My husband ran into Tyler's teacher today down town and she asked, "Are you all flying to Georgia?" Joe said, "No." She said that Tyler has said that he is in class. Joe explained to her that in his make-believe pro baseball life, he plays for the Ranger's but he's being traded to the Atlanta Braves!

So, you see - it's all in how you look at it!

Please pray for our family and for others who have it - that they will get well quickly and without complications. Also pray for those who have been exposed that they may not develop the full-blown flu. In advance, thank you for your prayers.

Children Are A Gift From God

Gratituesday is hosted by Laura at Heavenly Homemakers.
Children are a gift from God, but unfortunately, many in the world do not see them in that way. Some people put little value on the life of a child. I've mentioned before that my husband works for a children's home (Tipton Home). Most of the children there come from abused and neglected homes. Others have been abused in other ways that aren't typically thought of as abuse: over-indulgence (giving a child everything they want) and no form of discipline (never saying no), and not teaching right from wrong.
I'm convinced that children just want to be children. It's adults who sometimes want them to grow up too fast. It's adults who teach them about the things in the world - some good, but unfortunately, some bad.

For today's Gratituesday, I am grateful for my children. And, here's why:
I am grateful for their independence and their uniqueness. Each one of them is special in their own way. I don't love any one of them any more or any less than one of  the others.
I am grateful for their friendship and care for each other (of course, not 100% of the time :), but for the most part!)
I am grateful for their ability to laugh about the simplest things. They can have fun and they don't feel the need to worry about things in life. (Another thing they sometimes learn from adults.)

I am grateful for their ability to enjoy life and just relax.  They're not in a hurry and rushing around trying to meet deadlines and stay on schedules.  They are content to go at their own pace - taking the time to see the world around them.

I am grateful for their ability to see beauty and joy in every day things. Their happiness comes from being able to play and have fun together - or alone...not because of some toy or gadget that will become outdated, broken, or need a new battery.
I am grateful for their ability to be silly at times and serious at times, but thankful they want to just act their age and be kids most of the time. It's hard to not want to be older when you're young...then when you're older you sometimes try to be or want to look younger!
I am grateful that they are leaders and examples to others around them, but pray that they will always choose to be followers of Jesus...united as physical brothers and sister, but also as children of God.

I am grateful for my children.  They are a gift from God.

"I prayed for this child, and the LORD has granted me what I asked of him.  So now I give him to the LORD. For his whole life he will be given over to the LORD." And he worshiped the LORD there." 1 Samuel 1:27-28

Monday, August 24, 2009

Deep Cleaning

I warned our three boys last weekend that this weekend we were going to clean their room. I didn't mean just straighten up and organize a little....I meant we were going to go through EVERY SINGLE AREA of their room! Needless to say, they weren't too excited. Truthfully, I wasn't either, but knew it needed to be done.

Our boys are 6, 11, and 13 and for now they share a room. (Hopefully and prayerfully, in the future the oldest will have his own room.) It's a large room, so that's not a problem. The problem is that sometimes three is a crowd and it's hard to find the time to go through and weed out what they don't want or need or can't wear any more. Because our daughter isn't playing volleyball this year, we've had a few extra free Saturdays to do some things around the house. That's been nice.

The room project was a whole-family-event - all six of us! We took everything except the big pieces of furniture out of their room. It was piled in the living room and dining room. Then, to put it back together, we were starting with a clean slate. We began to bring some of the clothing, toys, and decor back in, but drastically reduced from what was in there before. Of course, now there is a huge pile to get rid of.

The boys were glad to get rid of the clutter and are very proud of their "new" room. It's amazing how clean and organized it is now! We knew it needed to be done, but really didn't realize just how bad it was until we saw the finished product and went through the process of cleaning out the "stuff".

Isn't that kind of like our spiritual lives? When we decide to become a Christian, we have realized that what we are doing wrong - our sin - is hurting God. We have realized that we need Jesus and that His blood was shed for our salvation. Our bodies then become the temple of the Holy Spirit when we become a Christian. And, we should strive to keep our temples clean and "clutter" free.
"Peter replied, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call."" Acts 2:38-39

"Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

We then can begin to get rid of the "stuff"...the "clutter". We confess our sins at that time, and then continue to do so throughout our Christian walk. And, God is faithful to forgive us of those sins. "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." 1 John 1:9When we are forgiven, we are beginning again with a clean slate - those sins are erased. God doesn't keep a record of them any longer. We may have a hard time forgetting those past sins, but God doesn't.

The "clean slate" feeling is a great feeling, isn't it? It's only then that we realize just how heavy of a load sin can be in our lives. It will clutter up our lives, just as like "stuff" can clutter up a room.

But, the boy's room will get "cluttered" and get too much "stuff" again. I will make an effort to keep this from happening and now that they're all older, they will, too. But, I also know that it will need this deep cleaning out again someday. It has many times before. Our spiritual lives will need "cleaning out" from time to time, too. None of us are perfect. We all make mistakes. We all get "clutter and stuff" we have to deal with. But, just as our family all worked together and accomplished the cleaning task this weekend, God will help us clean out our spiritual lives. Jesus will help us. The Holy Spirit will help us. Our Christian friends can help us, too. We just have to be willing to go through the process.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

50th Anniversary Celebration

This picture is of my husband's family - minus one brother-in-law and one of the grandchildren. In May of 2008, my in-laws celebrated their 50th anniversary. Instead of a party or a reception, they wanted to celebrate this milestone with a family vacation. Usually the Waugh side of the family is only all together once a year - at Thanksgiving - sometimes twice (Christmas or New Year's). However, due to conflicts the past few years with some of the grand kids, it had been a few years since everyone had been all together. This was a special time we all planned on for about two years. The family trip was scheduled for Crested Butte, Colorado, in December of 2008.

There are six children in my husband's family (four boys and two girls) and seventeen grandchildren (plus at that time three of them were already married - now four of them are!). The furthest away live in Nashville, so it was quite a drive from there to Crested Butte, Colorado! Others family members came from Montana, from work in Connecticut, from college in Arkansas, and also from Texas. Most came from Oklahoma. There were 32 of us in all that made the trip.

Each sibling family signed up to cook for breakfast or an evening meal. We rented a hostel, so all of us were able to stay in the same place. There was a huge living room and kitchen area, which gave us plenty of space to talk, eat, and play games. The Waugh families "main" games are Liverpool (a type of rummy), "42" (dominoes), and Farkle (a fun dice-rolling game!). Of course skiing and snow tubing were highlights of the trip!

The most special time of the trip was Sunday morning worship. It was held in the large living area and the singing was beautiful. I really wish we had recorded it! Many of the grandsons led songs and the harmony gave all of us chills! The chills went to tears as my brother-in-law, James, preached the sermon. My father-in-law, three of the Waugh brothers, one brother-in-law, three of the grandsons, and one grandson-in-law preach full-time, part-time, or are in ministry in another area, so any of them could have preached that day. But James talked about my in-laws and their life together, but most of all for the Christian example they had been for the whole family for so many years. He said just what needed to be said that morning. It was a great time of worshipping God together as a family.

Other fun events were a "mock" wedding for my in-laws, a talent show featuring many of the grand kids, and a slide show with pictures from their 50 years together. It was a great celebration and time together as a family. We all look forward to getting together again soon...Thanksgiving will be here before we know it! (I think that's why I thought to do this post...I'm hungry for turkey and dressing :).....)

Friday, August 21, 2009

Fun Times in High School

Our daughter, Lauren, is a Freshman in High School this year. The big deal about that is that the students are allowed to leave campus for lunch once they're Freshmen. It has been fun having her come home for lunch everyday. Usually my husband has already gone back to work from his lunch break, so we have some time together - just the two of us. That doesn't happen very often!

Lauren and I decided that it would be fun to cook lunch for some of her friends once a month. Today was our first luncheon, and Lauren invited four girls to come over this time. My husband picked the girls up while I finished the meal preparations. She'll invite more sometimes and less sometimes, and maybe we'll even invite the whole class. There are only 24 of them, so it wouldn't be too many. They could walk, too, because we're only a few blocks from school.

Today's menu was lasagna, green beans, garlic bread, and brownies. You can find the brownie recipe here at "Life's a Bowl of Cherries" (a recipe blog of my mom, my sister and I). A funny thing happened during the luncheon. I had put some dry lemonade mix in a bowl with a spoon, so if the girls wanted to make their cups of water into lemonade. Unknown to us, one girl had thought it was Parmesean cheese and had sprinkled it all over her lasagna! I guess she hadn't taken a bite yet because Lauren asked, "Is this Parmesean cheese?" I said, "No. It's lemonade mix." The girl who had already used it gasped and said, "Oh, no! I put it all over my lasagna!". We all got a kick out of that! Of course we made her another plate of food. I can't imagine what that would have tasted like! YUCK!

It was great hosting the teenage girls. They were so appreciative of the home-cooked meal during the rushed school lunch time (only 25 minutes). It was fun to hear them talk and laugh together. I look forward to hosting teens in my home for the next many years as Lauren and her three brothers go through and into high school. I've added it up and we'll have someone in high school for the next 12 years....lots and lots of meals!

Have a great weekend, everyone!

"Beauty and the Beast"

Tonight my mom and I took my kids to see the musical production, "Beauty and the Beast". It was a great production, which included actors only 18 years old and under. As I sat through the performance and thought about the story, it made me think. I know it's just a fictional, fairy tale story, but it has a good moral to it at the ending. It proves that true beauty is what is on the inside, not on the outside.

In the world, a lot of importance is placed on looks. That's nothing new. In fact, looks and outward appearances were referred to many times throughout the Bible. In 1 Samuel 16, God told Samuel to go to Bethlehem and to anoint one of Jesse's sons to be the new king. It was to be the son whom God had already selected. God told Samuel He would indicate to him which son he was to anoint. When the first son, Eliab, passed by in front of Samuel, he thought to himself that this son was to be the king (1 Samuel 16:6). However, the Lord said to Samuel in verse 7, "But the LORD said to Samuel, "Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart."

One by one, each of the sons of Jesse passed by in front of Samuel. During that time, God never indicated that one of them was the one to be anointed. Samuel asked Jesse, "Are these all the sons you have?" (verse 11). Jesse told Samuel there was one more son, David, who was out tending sheep in the field. Samuel anointed David as the new king.

"So he sent and had him brought in. He was ruddy, with a fine appearance and handsome features. Then the LORD said, "Rise and anoint him; he is the one.""

The Bible says that David was handsome and that he had fine features, but that isn't why God chose David. No, God chose David because he knew about the condition of his heart. He deliberately chose David because he wanted the king to be "a man after His own heart, as we see in 1 Samuel 13:14, "But now your (referring to Saul) kingdom will not endure; the LORD has sought out a man after his own heart and appointed him leader of his people, because you have not kept the LORD's command." He knew that David would continue to be a "man after His own heart", too. The book of Acts tells of God's confidence in David, "After removing Saul, he made David their king. He testified concerning him: 'I have found David son of Jesse a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.' Acts 13:22.

We can read all about David's life from then on. From time to time, David sinned. David messed up. But, David's heart was always striving to be more like God. When he had done wrong and when he sinned, he was truly repentant. He was very sorrowful because he knew that he had sinned against God. He confessed his sins before God and did all he could do to live a faithful life in service to God.

Belle, the "beauty" in the "Beauty and the Beast" production, saw something inside of the Beast. She saw into his heart and found kindness and love that no one else could see and her love for him caused him to turn back into a prince. But that's a fairy tale. God is for real!! He can look in our hearts and see what is real and what is true.

Ask yourself these questions:
What does God see when He looks into my heart?
Does He see a man/woman with a heart like His?
Or, does He see a heart that is cold, hard, and uncaring?
When I look at others, do I look at their heart or look at their outward appearance only?
When I do sin, am I truly repentant and sorrowful...realizing that I am sinning against God?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Inspirational Poems

I hope you enjoy these two inspirational poems...


Through me
let there be kind words, a warm smile, and a caring heart.

Through me
let there be a willingness to listen and a readiness to understand.

Through me
let there be dependability, steadfastness, trust and loyalty.

Through me
let there be compassion, forgiveness, mercy and love.

Through me
let there be every quality I find, O Lord, in Thee.

-Author Unknown

A Pebble

Drop a pebble in the water: just a splash, and it is gone;
But there's half-a-hundred ripples circling on and on and on,
Spreading, spreading from the center, flowing on out to the sea.
And there is no way of telling where the end is going to be.

Drop a pebble in the water: in a minute you forget,
But there's little waves a-flowing, and there's ripples circling yet,
And those little waves a-flowing to a great big wave have grown;
You've disturbed a mighty river just by dropping in a stone.

Drop an unkind word, or careless: in a minute it is gone;
But there's half-a-hundred ripples circling on and on and on.
They keep spreading, spreading, spreading from the center as they go,
And there is no way to stop them, once you've started them to flow.

Drop an unkind word, or careless: in a minute you forget;
But there's little waves a-flowing, and there's ripples circling yet,
And perhaps in some sad heart a mighty wave of tears you've stirred,
And disturbed a life was happy ere you dropped that unkind word.

Drop a word of cheer and kindness: just a flash and it is gone;
But there's half-a-hundred ripples circling on and on and on,
Bearing hope and joy and comfort on each splashing, dashing wave
Till you wouldn't believe the volume of the one kind word you gave.

Drop a word of cheer and kindness: in a minute you forget;
But there's gladness still a-swelling, and there's joy circling yet,
And you've rolled a wave of comfort whose sweet music can be heard
Over miles and miles of water just by dropping one kind word.
Author James W. Foley

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Turn Up the Heat

This morning in a Bible study lesson I was doing, it said to read from Daniel 3:1-30. I've read this story many times and I've taught this story to children many times, but this morning, I took the time to really stop and think about the story. You can read it from the link above, but I'll also paraphrase it a little bit for you.

King Nebuchadnezzar made a 90 feet high-9 feet wide golden image. He sat it up on a plain and issued a decree that whenever the people heard music play, everyone had to bow down to this golden image and worship it. Whoever did not worship the image would be thrown into the fiery furnace. Some astrologers went to the King and told them this: "But there are some Jews whom you have set over the affairs of the province of Babylon—Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego—who pay no attention to you, O king. They neither serve your gods nor worship the image of gold you have set up." Daniel 3:12

The king was furious! He called for the three men and asked them why they didn't bow down when they heard the music playing. They stood up to the king. "Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to the king, "O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up." Daniel 3:16-18

Well, their defiance to the king's order made him even more angry, so he had the furnace turned up seven times hotter than it already was. He ordered his strongest soldiers to tie up Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and throw them into the furnace. The soldiers did what the king said, but because the fire was so hot, they died. The flames were so hot that they killed the soldiers.

Let's pause right here for a moment and think about what has just happened in this story. First of all, the king gave an order. Secondly, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego disobeyed the order and someone told the king. Thirdly, the king gave the men a chance to bow down before the golden image, but the three men told the king that they would never bow down to that image. They also said that God would be able to serve them from the punishment of the firey furnace. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were not scared about what would happen to them. They would have rather tied in the furnace than to bow down to the false god - the golden image.

So, imagine you are Shadrach, Meshach, or Abednego....what would you have done? Would you have bowed down to the image when you heard the music? Would you have bowed down after someone snitched on you and you heard of your punishment? Would you have been willing to go into a fiery furnace before denying your faith in God?

The next part of the story is truly amazing,even today as I read it and it was to King Nebuchadnezzar, as well! When the king looked into the furnace, he not only saw Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, but also someone else! He said that the four men were walking around, unharmed, and that the fourth one looked like a Son of God (KJV).

The King immediately knew that the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego was, indeed, the one and only true God. He called for them to come out of the furnace. They came out - uncinged, unharmed, and not even smelling like smoke. I really like how this story ends:

"Then Nebuchadnezzar said, "Praise be to the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who has sent his angel and rescued his servants! They trusted in him and defied the king's command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God. Therefore I decree that the people of any nation or language who say anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego be cut into pieces and their houses be turned into piles of rubble, for no other god can save in this way." Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the province of Babylon." Daniel 3:28-30.

Because of their faith, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego taught King Nebuchadnezzar about God that day. In fact, they probably taught a whole group of people that day. And now, thousands of years later, their story is still teaching those who read about it themselves or those who hear about it from someone else. What a great example for us!

Questions to ask yourself:
Am I willing to stand up for God and for Jesus in every situation?
Do I deny God or Jesus by what I do with my life?
Do I deny God or Jesus by what I don't do in my life?
Would I be willing to suffer and be punished rather than go against God and His commands?
Would I have been willing go into the "fiery furnace" which was turned up seven times hotter?
Would I have pleaded with the king for lighter punishment?
Do I realize that how I live my life day to day can greatly influence others?

Monday, August 17, 2009

Mysteries Revealed

For the past five years, my parents have taken our school-aged children on a "Mystery Trip" the first weekend after school starts. They send a letter inviting the kids and telling them any specific instructions they might need (such as "wear comfortable shoes" or "bring your camera").

This year's trip was this past Friday and Saturday. My parents drove 30 minutes to our small town and picked up the kids and our minivan. (Joe and I got their car with satellite radio - SWEET!). The kids spent the night with them and then they woke them up early Saturday morning and headed to their destination. This year's trip was to the Oklahoma City Zoo. They stayed several hours, enjoying a picnic during their stay. Later on they went to Zio's for Italian food. The group arrived back here in Tipton about 8:00 p.m. - every one exhausted!

Mystery trips are lots of fun! It's exciting to be surprised. (Well, it is if it's a GOOD surprise! I suppose not ALL surprises would be good.)

The word "mystery" is used 22 times in the King James Version of the Bible. The Old Testament is full of prophesies about what was to come. In the New Testament we can find that those prophesies are fulfilled. Jesus told the disciples that the mystery of the kingdom of God had been revealed to them, but had not been revealed to the people to whom He was speaking. (Mark 4:11). Because of that, He spoke to them in easy-to-understand parables.

Paul even prayed that God would given him the words to speak, as well as boldness when he was speaking, about the mystery of the gospel. (Ephesians 6:18-20)
And, he later explains that the mystery is Jesus Christ living within His people, the saints/Christians. It is also the hope of glory, which is eternal life.

"I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body, which is the church, of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God which was given to me for you, to fulfill the word of God, the mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His saints. To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory." Colossians 1:24-28

I am grateful for Jesus and for what His life, death and resurrection means for me and for Christians everywhere. I am grateful that the mystery of the Old Testament was revealed so that we may have the hope of glory.

What are you grateful for on this Gratituesday? Visit Heavenly Homemakers for more Gratituesday.

Black Light Bible Stories

I mentioned in an earlier post that I had been teaching the Pre-K and Kindergarten Sunday morning class about "Creation" using a black light. Last week they were able to take their "Creation" mobiles home. They were so excited!
These pictures are taken in the dark with the black light on, but it doesn't show how the flourescent paper "glows". That's why the pictures are a little blurry, though. Black light stories are great because the kids are so interested in looking at the pictures. It keeps them interested in learning about God's Word even more. Of course, they also get a kick out of looking at each other because the whites of the eyes glow and so do teeth!
Today four of these kids moved up to the 1st and 2nd grade Bible class. I gained one, but now only have two. I'll miss those four 1st graders who have moved up! Of course, one of them is my youngest child, Tyler (a.k.a. Biscuit), so I'll especially miss having him.

The children learned the "Creation" song. Do you know it? It's great!

Day 1 Day 1 God made light when there was none (repeat)
Day 2 Day 2 God made clouds and skies so blue (repeat)
Day 3 Day 3 God made flowers & grass & trees. (repeat)
Day 4 Day 4 God made sun,moon and stars galore. (repeat)
Day 5 Day 5 God made birds and fish alive (repeat)
6th Day 6th Day God made animals & man that day. (repeat)
Day 7 Day 7 God is resting in his heaven (repeat)

"In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth." Genesis 1:1

Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Chronicles of Biscuit - "You should thank God!"

In March, Biscuit came home from Kindergarten and said, "Mom, I'm the only one in my class who doesn't know how to tie shoes!". Well, out of 21 students, I was really shocked! Then I began to fill bad that he didn't know how because we hadn't taught him. We practiced from time to time, but not very often at all. I had never really thought about it before.

Because our other three children learned from each other or from a friend, I began having one of the siblings try to teach Biscuit how to tie. It immediately seemed more difficult teaching him because of his lack of caring in learning to accomplish this task, but also because he was left handed and none of us are. Though he practiced from time to time,it just wasn't working. I asked the teacher about it at the next parent-teacher conferences. She assured me that out of the 21 students, not even half of them knew how to tie their shoes! But, I still felt bad that we had neglected it. I think it's because he's the youngest of our four. It's easy to keep that one "young" and forget what they are capable of!

In July, we told Tyler he had to know how to tie before he began 1st grade in mid-August. He tried a while, but still didn't seem interested. But then I had an idea! We've never bribed our children to do something, but we've often-times taken things away as a means of discipline. (Ex. Potty training our third child (son) wasn't going so well until I told him he couldn't watch another movie until he learned- then he was totally potty trained in three days!) So, I told Tyler he couldn't have any gum until he learned to tie his shoes. He really liked gum, so I thought that would do the trick. It didn't. He didn't have gum for three weeks!

On the way to Nashville last week, we came up with another plan. He and his older brother, Zachary, were going to be sitting in the second row of the mini van for 13 hours, so it was a perfect time to practice shoe tying. After a few minutes of that not going so well, we thought of another "take away" as a form of discipline. Being an avid "ball" player, we told Biscuit there would be no more ball playing of any kind until he learned to tie his shoes. Well, you should have seen Biscuit then! It was like he was in a excited and interested to learn to tie his shoes!
It still took a while, but at least now he had the interest to learn how. It took lots of patience (from Zachary, especially) and lots of practice (from Biscuit, Zachary, and us) but Biscuit learned to tie his shoes on that trip to Nashville...then fine-tuned the task on the 13 hour trip back home. Joe and I helped a little bit, but I'll give credit to Zachary for the majority of the help.

While we were on our way home from Nashville, we stopped to eat. Biscuit was so excited about learning to tie his shoe, he was doing it all of the time...even while waiting for our food. I said, "Biscuit, I sure am proud of you! Thank you for learning to tie your shoes." He said, "Mom, you should thank God!" How sweet!
Yes, Biscuit, I do thank God....for you and for you learning to tie your shoes.

Friday, August 14, 2009

The Strength of a Man

Note: I got this poem via email from Inspiration Daily. I really liked it and wanted to share it with you. No author was listed. Also, be sure to vote on the monthly fun poll: "What's your favorite color?"

The Strength of a Man

The strength of a man isn't seen in the width of his shoulders.
It's in the width of his arms that encircle you.

The strength of a man isn't in the deep tone of his voice.
It's in the gentle words he whispers.

The strength of a man isn't how many buddies he has.
It's how good a buddy he is with his children.

The strength of a man isn't in how respected he is at work.
It's in how respected he is at home.

The strength of a man isn't in how hard he hits.
It's in how tender he touches.

The strength of a man isn't in the hair on his chest.
It's in his heart, that lies within his chest.

The strength of a man isn't how many women he's loved.
It's in being true to one woman.

The strength of a man isn't in the weight he can lift.
It's in the burdens he can carry.

An Apple for the Teacher

It's been a long-time tradition for a student to take an apple to his/her teacher. Although the original origin of this tradition is not known, it used now to say "Thank You" to the teacher and is given from the student. At Tipton, we have a tradition that's been going on for nine years, but it's not just an apple the teacher's receive, but a whole entire breakfast! Yes, every year on the first day of class, the teachers and staff are treated to a "Back to School Breakfast".

The breakfast is provided by people who want to say "Thank You" to the teachers and staff of Tipton Public Schools. Some of the helpers are PTO members, while others are parents who want to be involved. And sometimes even people in the community contact me to let me know they want to help.

The "Back to School Breakfast" is delivered to three different buildings - elementary, middle school and the high school (we're really small, so only have one of each and they're all on the same campus.) The teachers and staff members are so appreciative any time they are treated in this way throughout the school year. And, of course, it's a fun way for all of us to say "Thank You" to the teachers and staff for teaching and caring for the students during the school year.

Other times the teachers and staff are served meals are at the two parent-teacher conferences, which are held in September and in February. Since the conferences are set up from 4:00 - 7:00 p.m. on Thursday and also from 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 noon on a Friday, the meals are brought on Friday evening. A special celebration is held each May during Teacher Appreciation Week. You can read about that event here.

Even though I wasn't ready for school to begin this year, after enrollment Monday night - and then seeing everyone when we took the kids to school this morning - it made me excited about the upcoming school year. It doesn't take too long to get back into the swing of things.

Another tradition on this first day of school is something our own family has done for the past nine years. On the evening of the first day, we take meals to our children's teachers. This year we have two in elementary, so meals were taken to their families. This year, another son is in middle school and our daughter has moved to the high school building. Because Tipton is such a small school, some of our children's teachers overlap into both of those buildings, and maybe even into the elementary. For the middle school and high school teacher's meals, we choose two or three teachers to take to each year. This year we took to three of them, making a total of five family meals delivered.

This "First Day of School Meal" always consists of the same menu: lasagna (usually beef, but sometimes I do chicken for some - if I know they've liked it in the past), green beans, garlic bread, Chocolate Delight (called Pudding Cake, too) or Butterfinger Cake. Because all four of our children have gone or are going thru elementary here and have had the same teachers, the teachers know the meal is coming if they have one of our children - and they are very thankful for it! Thankfully today we didn't have conflicts that would cause us to be rushed getting the meals delivered. It was also a blessing this year that most of them lived close. Only one lived out in the country about 10 miles, but it wasn't 30 minutes away as some in the past have been.

Maybe a whole meal is too much for you to think of doing, but you would like to do something simpler. It's easy in a small town to deliver meals because you know where everyone lives. This would be hard to accomplish in a larger city or metroplex area. My sister does something neat for her children's teachers. I believe it's on their birthday or maybe Valentine's Day (can't remember, but the day doesn't matter!). She makes them a meal served on a plate and delivers it to them at school. I remember her saying that she also takes a flower in a vase as a decoration during the teacher's meal.

Treating others by delivering them food, sending a special card. or a note of encouragement is a great way to serve others. Jesus said in Mark 10:45, "For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." We can serve others just as Jesus did. It doesn't have to be something big. It doesn't have to be anything expensive. It just needs to be done from our heart - a servant's heart!

Serving others in this way is just one more way we can "Shine Like Stars".

I am always looking for new ways to serve others...ideas that can be used by our elementary PTO (Parent/Teacher Organization), the 4-H club, or just ideas for my own family. Do you have any ideas to share? Let me know!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Optimistic Prayers

See this alarm clock? This is my daughter's alarm clock. It says 8:10 p.m.. But there's a problem with it. It's really 10:10 p.m. This clock is set for California time and we live in Oklahoma! I asked Lauren why she did this and she said since she's been sleeping later this summer, it makes her feel better when she wakes up late and looks at the clock. She's "pretending" that it's really earlier than it is, which is a good thing because tomorrow morning (Thursday) school starts and it really is going to be early! Way early, in fact. I don't think she's going to want to keep it on California time after tomorrow....otherwise she'll be waking up at 4:30 a.m.

Lauren tends to be pretty optimistic. She keeps a good outlook on life and doesn't have concerns about peer pressure like some teens unfortunately face. In fact, last year she asked me what peer pressure was. I'm very thankful that we've not had to face that with her or any of our children as of yet, and pray that continues throughout the rest of there years at home.

The one concern or worry Lauren does have from time to time is having to have shots of any kind. She's always been petrified of them and gets more upset than the three boys have combined! Well, about a month ago after having her teeth cleaned, we found out she had a cavity. Her first one ever. The appointment for the filling was scheduled for today, and I had kind of forgotten about it until yesterday. I mentioned to her last night while we were walking and she said, "I know. I remembered, and I'm really scared." Because I don't care for going to the dentist either, I had a hard time saying that it wouldn't hurt because I wasn't positive it would be for her - everyone is different. I did tell her that this particular dentist was better than any I ever had as a youngster. He didn't seem to hurt at all and that in the end she would be just fine.

This morning we headed to the dentist and got there a few minutes before the appointment time. After waiting an hour and twenty minutes (no complaining - just the facts -ha ha-), Lauren was called back to the dental chair. In a few minutes, the nurse assistant came out and said she didn't have a cavity and they weren't going to do anything after all! I asked, "Where did it go?" because it was there the month before. I also teased the nurse and said, "Do you know how much suffering Lauren has been through thinking she was having a cavity filled today?" We both laughed because the nurse also could tell how nervous Lauren was and now she wasn't having anything done.

When I got back to the dental chair, I said, "Lauren, you must have prayed really hard about that cavity!" The dentist explained that the little spot seen before it just shaded and it's not a cavity at the time and he recommended just watching it and seeing if it progressed into a true cavity.

After we left the dentist office, Lauren said, "Mom, you know you said that about praying hard? Well, I really did, but I thought God would just help me get through it, not take it away!"

This story reminds me of the following scripture:

"Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen." Ephesians 3:21-22

God is able to do more than we can imagine because of His power! Isn't that awesome? I think Lauren saw first-hand what God can do today - more than she ever imagined! Thank you, God!

Our Weekend In Nashville

(Note: This post isn't a devotional thought, just a special family memory. Hope you enjoy it!)

Last Thursday our loaded up the minivan and headed towards Nashville. We were going for our niece's wedding on Saturday. Since it's a 13 hour drive, we had planned to stop that night in Little Rock, Arkansas.

It's always fun to see interesting things along the way when driving to somewhere new. We thought this sign was really cute. I can't remember where it was...Arkansas maybe.

When we stopped in Little Rock to eat, we decided we could drive on to Memphis, Tennessee....then later decided to go all the way to Nashville that night! I'm glad we did. (I thought this picture was funny because we're from Oklahoma....the kids are wearing Texas Ranger's shirts....we were stopped to eat in Arkansas....headed to Tennessee!)

On Friday we toured the area around the Grand Ole Opry. It's a very pretty place.

Being the "comic" and "entertainer" my husband, Joe, is, he thought it would be funny to sit in front of the Grand Ole Opry and play his nose harp! The nose harp was a gag gift from my parents a few years ago. You put the harp in your mouth and sniff air into it to make music. He actually can play a few tunes on it!

The Opryland Hotel is amazing! The garden area is beautiful and to tour the place is free, so even better!

The flowers were beautiful and seeing so many kinds of plants and trees growing inside the atrium/garden area makes you wonder what the garden of Eden might have been like. It must have been even more beautiful than even this was.

We ate at a fun place in the Opry Mills mall called "Johnny Rockets". The waitress was so friendly and kind. She made Tyler this ketchup happy face and he was so excited about it!

This is our family before the wedding. Our daughter packed herself and so did the oldest son. Tyler was in the wedding so his clothes were provided for him. Unfortunately, I didn't check Jacob's clothes before we left, just told him what to take. When we began getting ready for the wedding, he didn't have khaki pants to go with the brown polo he brought and then for Sunday worship he had brought brown pants (too "clashy" to go with the brown polo) and a pink and navy striped polo! I had said "pink" meaning solid pink. He also didn't have a belt (later it was found). Luckily Target was across the street and the new white polo was cheap! (Mom's Lesson Learned: ALWAYS CHECK JACOB'S CLOTHES!). It wouldn't be a family trip if something wasn't forgotten - at least in our family, it wouldn't be :)!

I thought our niece did the cutest thing with her two flower girls. Instead of wearing shoes, they wore ribbon sandals! Cute and extremely cheap, too!

This picture is dark but it's where the wedding was held. My brother-in-law preaches at this congregation (Hillsboro Church of Christ in Nashville). He walked Hailey down the aisle while the groom's father did the "Who gives this woman?" part. Then my brother-in-law took over and performed the wedding ceremony for his daughter and the groom. It was so sweet and personal.

Hailey's wedding dress for her special day was over 95 years old! It was worn by her mother and her grandmother, and her great-great aunt. The top of it was altered some for her, but her mom and grandmother are holding photographs of themselves on their wedding day in that dress. Very neat.

Instead of a traditional big wedding cake, Hailey chose to serve cupcakes. Her mother made hundreds of them and they were served on two large circular displays. Her mom got these from a department store for $20.00! They were perfect for cupcake tiers. In fact, I may need to find some of these things for my decorating adventures!!

Tyler was the ring bearer. This is the second summer in a row he's been asked to be the ring bearer in a cousin's wedding. He really likes wearing the tux! After he walked down the aisle and got in his "spot" he began working really hard to untie the silver fake rings from the little pillow. It was then that I realized that he thought he had the real rings and that he was really supposed to give them to the groom! My husband and I looked at each other with the same thought: "What is he going to do when they don't get the rings from him?" When that happened, he looked a little bit worried, but thankfully he didn't say anything.

On my husband's side of the family there are six siblings and 17 grandchildren plus in-laws. Twenty-one of us were able to be together for the wedding - fourteen of us from Oklahoma. It was a long drive, but very much worth it to be part of the special day.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Is My Mom Cupid?

I'm wondering if my mom is really "Cupid". You may wonder, too, after you read this! Why? Because, in September, it will be three years since my mom made a suggestion to someone that has since changed the lives of many.

(All names have been changed in this true story.)

It first started when a young man, "John", moved to the town where my parents live and began worshipping with them. He was from the other side of the state, but moved to town to play baseball for the junior college there.

My mom was impressed with the young man - for his attitude and his Christian example. She thought about my niece, "Sally" (no relation to her, but on my husband's side). She called and asked Sally if she could give her phone number to this young man. Then she asked John if she could give him a phone number of someone he might be interested in meeting. John said yes! And, although the two young people were four hours apart and at different colleges, they began talking on the phone and then eventually met and started dating. And, as they say....the rest is history! John and Sally married last summer and recently celebrated their first anniversary together.

Not only did Mom play "Cupid" in this relationship, but it also led to something else. During the first summer that John and Sally were dating, they were counselors at church camp together. While at camp, John was introduced to a friend of Sally's, named Jenny. Jenny was a counselor that week at camp, too. John thought of his friend, Ben, who was living on the other side of the state. He told his friend Ben about Jenny. Well, guess what? Ben and Jenny also married last summer, two weeks after John and Sally's wedding!

Which leads me to the third thing that makes me think my mom may be "Cupid". I just finished enrolling all four children in school about 30 minutes ago. Our junior high principal is a family friend. Her husband grew up here, but he left after high school and hasn't lived here since. Now they're moving back, after over 25 years! But, she just told me something really neat: Her oldest daughter, Mary, is dating a guy named Mark and has been all summer. And guess what? Ben and Jenny are the ones who set Mary up with Mark! They knew both of them, but the two didn't know each other.

Now, we don't know what is going to happen in the relationship of Mary and Mark, but it's just kind of neat.

I keep telling my mom she should go into business, like eHarmony or something like that. You never know!

Seriously, I know my mom really isn't "Cupid", but I do believe she has a "knack" for getting to know people and find out about them like many do not have. I also know she doesn't get to know them to be nosey nor is she a busy-body. She does it because she really cares about people. She takes the time to listen to them.

We all talk to people every day, but do we really "listen" to them? Think about all of those you come in contact with every day or at least every other day. What are their needs? What are their concerns? What is happening in their life? Do you know? Do you care? The typical conversation is like this: "Hi. How are you?" Other person: "Fine, thanks."

What if it was like this: "Hi. How are you?" Other person: "Not very good. I'm having a hard time today." What would be your next response? Do we really want to know how someone is doing when we ask? If we're truthful, a lot of the time, we really don't want to know...we're just being polite by making small-talk with them.

I am grateful that my mom takes the time to care for and care about others. I am grateful she takes the time to listen. We all should do the same. It's a great example of what a Christian is supposed to be.

For more Gratituesday, visit Heavenly Homemakers.

Spiritual Ingredient - Love

"For this very reason, add to your"

From the scripture passage of 2 Peter 1:5-9
Love is the last spiritual ingredient from the above passage, and probably the most important one. In I Corinthians 13:13, Paul says "Now abide faith, hope, and love; these three - but the greatest of these is love." Why do you suppose love is greater than the other two? If we don’t truly love God, we will not care to gain knowledge about Him or His Word or care to become more godly. If we don’t have love for ourselves and others, we will not care to gain in all of the other spiritual ingredients (goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, or brotherly kindness).

The love in this passage is agape love. Agape is one of the Greek words for love and it means a type of love that is selfless and unconditional. How is agape love different than brotherly kindness or phileo-type of love? They kind of overlap, but agape love is doing something. It is not just saying I love you or getting a warm, fuzzy feeling towards someone. It is more than that. It is acting on that feeling. We can tell someone we love them all day long, but unless we SHOW that love, it really doesn’t matter, does it?

Love is action. Love is doing something. Love is doing something for others.

Jesus gave us the perfect example during his ministry of this type of love. He was constantly going about doing good for others, serving others, humbling himself, and submitting Himself to the will of God, His Heavenly Father. Jesus loved and still loves unconditionally and selflessly.

Remember, that love is action, and part of that action involves submitting to others. In fact, God actually commands us to submit to others (many scripture references are listed below in the questions). Submitting to others means giving up my wants and desires to care for the needs of others. In submitting to others, we will give up our time, treasures, and talents to help and serve others. We will not care so much about taking care of ourselves, but constantly be looking for ways to help and serve others. We should model our lives after Christ - we should smell like Christ (have His aroma - 2 Corinthians 2:15). Christ gave His life for us. That was the ultimate sign of His love for us. It was in submission to His Father. It was love in action.

Some questions to ask yourself:
Do I show love in action?
What do I do to show love for others?
Do I visit the sick, shut-ins, or others in need?
Do I take food to those who are in need or are sick?
Do I teach others about Jesus?
Do I send notes of encouragement or call to check on others?
Do I submit yourself to my spouse or parents, my boss, my fellow Christians, to the church leaders, to the laws of the land (Hebrews 12:9; Hebrews 13:17; Ephesians 5:21-22; James 4:7; 1 Peter 2:13-14; Romans 13:1-6)?
How much of the spiritual ingredient "love" do I have?
Is it increasing in measure (2 Peter 1:8)?

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Spiritual Ingredients - Brotherly Kindness

"For this very reason, add to your faith....brotherly kindness..."

From the scripture passage of 2 Peter 1:5-9

Brotherly kindness comes from the Greek word Philadelpia. It is used in the New Testament to describe the love Christian brothers and sisters in Christ have (or should have) for each other.

God commands us to love one another in I John 4:7. "Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God." God never ever says it is okay not to love someone. In fact, this verse tells us that if we love then we "know" God, so the opposite would mean if we do not love, then we "do not know" God.

Christians make up the church, which is the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:12-14). Christ is the head of the church. In fact, He died for the church. "And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way," Ephesians 1:22-23. Many in the world say "yes" to Jesus and God, but "no" to the church. But throughout the New Testament, the importance of the church is emphasized.

The spiritual ingredient of brotherly love is a much-needed ingredient in the Lord's church. So, how do you get more of this ingredient?
1. Reflect on love and sacrifice of Jesus and what that means to you and I personally.
2. Spend time with your Christian family - the church.
3. Pray for your Christian family - your brothers and sisters in Christ.

Naturally some people are easier to love than others. In fact, think about this: Someone may be having a hard time loving you! So, pray that you may love others with brotherly love, but also pray for yourself....that you will be easier to love, as well. We must love others in a way that we care about their soul and want to teach them about Jesus. We should want everyone to go to Heaven, just as God does.

Ask yourself these questions:
Are you a part of a church family?
Do you love your church family - your Christian brothers and sisters?
If not, why not?
If Christ died for and is the head of the church - shouldn't it be a part of your life and important to you, as well?
Is brotherly kindness "increasing in measure" in your life (2 Peter 1:8) ?

Friday, August 7, 2009

Spiritual Ingredient - Godliness

"For this very reason, add to your faith....godliness..."

From the scripture passage of 2 Peter 1:5-9

Today let's think about godliness as a spiritual "ingredient". What does "godliness" mean? Literally, it means these things: "to worship well", “to be reverent“, and "to be very devout". There are many good people in the world, but being "good" doesn't make one "godly". Being "moral" doesn't make one "godly".

So, how can we gain this ingredient of godliness?

A. Hebrews 12:28-29 says "Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire."

This verse says and implies that we should:
#1 Be thankful for the gift of salvation God has given us through Jesus' blood shed for our sins.
"You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing to you and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give you thanks forever. Psalm 30:11-12

#2 Worship God acceptably with reverence and awe.
It is seemingly easy to come together as Christians and worship God once a week or even a few times a week. It's much harder to think about living the Christian life daily as we should be doing. Answer this question: Is worship with the church "easy"? At first I would say, "Yes". But, a minister we once had asked our Bible class this question and by the end, we all had to say, "No." It's NOT easy to worship, whether together as a church family or even alone. Why? Because, as human beings, our minds wander. It's extremely hard to keep our mind totally focused on God because we get easily distracted by what is going on around us. It's often hard to have true godliness as God wants us to have.

#3 Fear God for who He is.
"Teach me your way, O Lord, and I will walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name." Psalm 86:11

B. We read in Romans 12:1-2 (below) that our lives should be living sacrifices.
"Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will."

So we also should:
#4. Live sacrificial lives.
If we have the spiritual ingredient of godliness, we will not be selfish. We will put God first, but the needs of others above our own, as well.
"Turn my heart toward your statutes and not toward selfish gain." Psalm 119:36

#5. Live holy lives.
God is holy. His name is also holy. Holy means “set apart”. For us to live holy lives, then, we too must be "set apart". Being set apart means not being like the world, but being different. We can be different by how we act, but also by how we dress, how we react, how we entertain ourselves, how we spend our money...virtually in everything we do.

#6. Renew our minds.
When we become a Christian, we are transformed. But, that transformation doesn't just stop at that moment, but continues - or should continue - throughout our entire life. During that time we are being transformed to be more and more like Jesus, our Savior.
"And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit." 2 Corinthians 3:18

Here are some questions for you and I to ask ourselves:
Are you increasing in godliness? 2 Peter 1:9 says it should be "increasing in measure".
If you are a Christian, are you thankful for God's gift of salvation?
Do you recognize the fact that Jesus gave His life for you to give you that salvation?
Are you living a holy life?
Is your life a living sacrifice?
Do you worship God acceptably - with reverence and awe - not just with your church family, but also in quite times of worship when you are alone?
Is worship with your church family concentrating on truly worshipping God or is it geared toward entertaining the audience?
Do you use God’s name in reverence and awe or flippantly as part of your speech?
Does it bother you to hear God’s name used as part of every day language or are you so used to it that you don’t even notice that it is being used in this way?

Lessons Learned

A very good story...Author Unknown

One day, the father of a very wealthy family took his son on a trip to the country with the express purpose of showing him how poor people live. They spent a couple of days and nights on the farm of what would be considered a very poor family.

On their return from their trip, the father asked his son, “How was the trip?”

“It was great, Dad.”

“Did you see how poor people live?” the father asked.

“Oh yeah,” said the son.

“So, tell me, what did you learn from the trip?” asked the father.

The son answered: “I saw that we have one dog and they had four. We have a pool that reaches to the middle of our garden and they have a creek that has no end. We have imported lanterns in our garden and they have the stars at night. Our patio reaches to the front yard and they have the whole horizon.

“We have a small piece of land to live on and they have fields that go beyond our sight.

“We have servants who serve us, but they serve others. We buy our food, but they grow theirs.

“We have walls around our property to protect us, they have friends to protect them.”

The boy’s father was speechless.

Then his son added, “Thanks Dad for showing me how poor we are.”

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Matthew 6:19-21

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Pass the Salt, Please

"Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone."
Colossians 4:6

Paul used the expression “seasoned with salt”? Why? Salt is important to us and was even in Bible times. In fact, the Latin word for salt means the same thing as the Latin word for salary. Salt was a very valuable commodity back then. In Bible times salt was used as seasoning, but in other ways, as well.

I read this quote about salt: "Salt is what makes things bad when it isn’t in them. " Isn't that true? I am not very good at making pies, so don’t do it often, but several times when I’ve made a pie or cobbler, I’ve forgotten to put the salt in the pastry dough. I forget because I don’t always use it in recipes when it calls for it. But in the pie crust, without the salt, the crust just tastes bland. In fact, it makes the whole pie not as sweet. Salt used just right in some desserts actually make the dessert taste sweeter.

As Christians, we are to be salt to the world. We are to give things "flavor". What we do, what we say, how we live - everything is done because of Christ living in us. Salt flavors food by dissolving into it. The flavor permeates throughout the food and affects the entire thing. We can be salt by letting our "flavor" permeate throughout the world around us - whether it be in our family, in our job, in the church...throughout all of our relationships.

Think about being "salt" in how we use our words. When we belong to Christ, our words can be and should be wholesome and tasteful rather than bland and dull. Our words can have just the right about of seasoning to brighten someone’s day - encourage them rather than discourage them or bring them down. We won't use our words to gossip or hurt others, but use them for good.

Jesus spoke of salt loosing it’s flavor.

"You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men." Matthew 5:13

If we, as Christians, loose our "saltiness", it means that we are no longer living for Jesus, but rather living as the world lives. It means we are not "Shining Like Stars" in the universe (Philippians 2:14-15), but that our lights have gone dim - or maybe even out completely.

So, go ahead! "Pass the Salt" to everyone you meet - today and every day!
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