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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

When the Storm Hits


A NORVELL NOTE is written by Tom Norvell.  This post entitled, "When the Storm Hits" is being used by permission.
When the Storm Hits

What do you do when the storm hits?

You’re feeling fine, but then your doctor calls you with the results of your blood work. She says, “I’d like for you to come into my office. We’ve found some things we should talk about?”

You think everything is going well with your children. Everything you hear is that they behave themselves when they are away from you and you’ve always gotten good reports from their teachers and other adults. But, one day you get a call from the school Principal informing you that your son is in his office and is in pretty serious trouble.

You knew things were not perfect with your marriage, but compared to others you felt pretty good. You don’t argue much. You’ve just had a good family vacation. Then, one morning as your husband is getting ready for work you notice a suitcase by the door. You ask about it. He says, “I’m leaving. I just don’t want to do this any more.”

You have heard about other families having problems, but your parents have always “gotten along” and you assumed they had a good marriage. But, when you come home from school you find your mother sitting at the kitchen table crying, holding a letter to you from your Dad. Cautiously you open it and begin reading: “I know this is probably hard for you to understand, but I don’t love your mother any more, and I’m tired of playing the game. I want you to know that what is happening with your mother and I is not your fault, and I will always be here for you. I love you very much, but I need a change.”

Work has been a little slow lately but nothing major. Compared to other companies you had faired well. You had managed the economic downturn very well. At least that’s what you thought. Then you see your boss walking toward your office. He walks in and closes the door. He begins by saying, “Joe, I hate to have to do this, but…” You hear nothing after that.

What do you do when the storm hits?

You feel every emotion imaginable and at the same time you feel nothing. You are stunned. You are shocked. You are hurt. You are angry. You are afraid. You are confused. You feel desperate. What do you do when the storm hits?

One night when Jesus and His disciples were on a boat a storm hit them without warning. This is how Matthew describes the scene:

Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him. Without warning, a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke him, saying, "Lord, save us! We're going to drown!"

He replied, "You of little faith, why are you so afraid?" Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.

The men were amazed and asked, "What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!" (Matthew 8:23-29, NIV)

The disciples were afraid because of the storm and confused because it seemed that Jesus was unconcerned about them. Although Jesus rebukes them a bit for their lack of faith, at least they knew what to do when the storm hit. They went to Jesus. Obviously they did not know what He would do, or what He could do, but knew they needed to wake Him.

Perhaps that is the message for us when the storm hits…go to Jesus. Go to the One who can calm the storm. Go to the One who is not afraid of the storm. When the storm hits, go to Jesus.

To visit "A Norvell Note" click here.
A Norvell Note © Copyright 2009. Tom Norvell All Rights Reserved.

Serendipity

Serendipity is the effect by which one accidentally discovers something fortunate, especially while looking for something entirely unrelated.  This definition caught my attention.  I had never thought about the word "Serendipity" until recently, actually. And now - Serendipity is the name of my new small business!

About six weeks ago my mom mentioned that there was a new business in Altus...one that rented out booth spaces for people to sell items (new, used, antiques, clothes, gifts, etc.).  I had seen places such as this before and always thought I would enjoy doing something like that.  But, until now, there had never been a place close to here.  I was so excited that I contacted the owner immediately to get my name on the list for a booth.  Of course, in my haste (which is how I "work"!), I never thought about "what" I would actually sell!  I'm still not entirely sure what all I will end up selling, but have made a start towards the inventory.  It's funny how this whole thing worked out because I had just made the comment to my mom a few weeks before that I would like to "have" a business.  I have wanted to "have" a business, but I wouldn't want to "run" a business because I wouldn't want to be there all of the time.  This booth rental seemed like a perfect opportunity to realize that dream on a fairly small scale.

I quickly began thinking about what I wanted to sell, but there were/are so many things I like, it's hard for me to narrow it down.  I also want to make some things on my own.  Creating - whether by painting, doing crafts, or decorating - is what I enjoy, so I'll most likely incorporate those in my new business. Not only will I have a booth in Altus (about 30 minutes from home), but I can also sell from home.  In our small town we have very few stores so I thought it would be nice to have some items on hand if people needed a quick, small gift.  I wanted something as a creative outlet, but didn't want to take time away from my family.   I've been blessed to be a stay-at-home mom for most of the time since we had our children and don't want to take away from that at all.  I found out today that my booth space is ready to move into any time. (Now if I can find the time to do that, I'll be on my way!)


These pictures show part of the merchandise I've purchased as part of my inventory.  I really like this whole line of gifts and home decor. Many of the pillows and tea towels have scriptures embroidered on them.  The pillow above says, "With God all things are possible," Matthew 19:26.  The tea towel to the left has "Trust in the Lord with all your heart,"  Proverbs 3:5. (One of my very favorites.)  The apron says, "Be Happy".  I especially like the wooden spoons in the above picture.  In fact, they are why I ordered from this company to begin with.  They says things such as "This kitchen is filled with love."  You know?  I don't know if I'll make a profit or not...I want it all  myself!!

Thinking about this word, "Serendipity" and it's meaning is interesting.  I wonder how many people, before they became Christians, were going through life looking for "something"?  Perhaps they looked all around for something to make them feel complete and whole.  Along that journey maybe someone told them about Jesus and they heard the Good News...or maybe they stumbled upon it on their own.  Upon hearing this, maybe the person decided to become a Christian.  This person discovered something "fortunate" (extremely fortunate, but also very needed) that was entirely unrelated from what they were looking for in the beginning.  Actually, it isn't "fortune" at all....it's the power of God at work in their life!  And what was found along the journey?  Eternal life!

Monday, September 28, 2009

A Hole in the Middle

It seems like our life has been full of "fairs" lately. First was the local fair, then the county fair, and the last two weeks have been the OklahomaState Fair. Our three oldest children had several 1st place 4-H entriesthat were eligible to go on to the state fair. One of these entries was homemade bread made by our son, Zachary.
By mistake I had Zachary make his dough into rolls, but it was actually supposed to be a half-loaf. Since his was the only entry at the county fair, the extension agent said it would be fine to go ahead and enter it at the county fair in the 4-H bread category, but that when it was sent to the state fair he would need to make it into a loaf and send half of it for the state contest.

So the day came for Zachary to make his bread. I had never made a loaf from yeast bread myself and so I wasn't sure how much dough to tell him he would need. We guessed and he used half of the dough and made his loaf. The next day the dough was allowed to rise and then it was baked. The loaf looked great...perfectly shaped and browned . But, when it was time to cut the loaf in half and get it ready for the state fair, guess what? There was a HUGE hole in the middle! The middle was just empty! Of course, there was nothing Zachary could do at that point. It was too late to remake the bread, so it was sent to the state fair just like it was - HUGE hole and all! I wonder what the judges thought????? I think they may have laughed!

As Christians, our lives can be just like this loaf of bread. All pretty and perfect on the outside, yet a big hole full of air on the inside. As humans we put a lot of emphasis on the way things look. We can "look" the part of a Christian and we can make ourselves believe and even cause others to believe that we really are living a faithful Christian life. But, perhaps inside there is nothing really there....we're just "looking the part". But, God sees inside. He knows what's really there. He knows if there is a big hole in the middle with nothing in it.

On the other hand, when we first come to know God, we may come with a hole inside - an empty, dark hole full of nothing.  That's okay!  God takes us with that empty hole and gives us something to fill it with. When we come in contact with the blood of Jesus, that empty, dark hole becomes filled up with His love! After that first contact with Jesus, though, we must continue to keep that hole filled up. Left neglected, that hole can return, little by little.  God will continue to do His part, but we must also be diligent to keep that hole in the middle from coming back.  How?  By remaining in Him and staying close to Him (worship, praise, fellowship, prayer), by following in the steps of Jesus (serving others, selflessness, faithfulness), and by abiding in His Word (reading, studying, meditating).

On this GRATITUESDAY, I'm grateful for Jesus and the blood He shed. He was and is willing to fill up the hole in my life and in your life if we will allow Him to.

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.  Ephesians 3:16-19


These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls. 1 Peter 1:7-9

What are you grateful for today? For more Gratituesday, visit Laura's blog, "Heavenly Homemakers". 

True Worship - What's Right?

Sunday morning we had a family worship service in our hotel room in Oklahoma City. Why? Because three of our children were involved in a goat show that started at 9:00 a.m. that morning. I would rather there not be a goat show on Sunday, but twice a year there is - both of them in Oklahoma City. In March, I wrote about the spring livestock show and how we had worship in the goat stalls. You can read about that HERE.

I think worship times such as this, or the ones we sometimes have outside during church camp or at camp retreats (on the mountain!) are very special. Of course all worship is special because of WHO we are worshipping and WHY we are worshipping. But when worship is in a different-than-normal place, there is just something different about it. I think it's because, without intentionally meaning to do so, we sometimes make our worship in the "normal" church building a routine and a kind of "going-through-the-motions" type of thing. We get so used to the "order" in which things are done, we don't really think about "what" is being done, like we should.

Sunday morning my husband and three oldest children left the hotel before the youngest (Tyler) and I did. On the way to the fairgrounds Tyler and I were talking and he said, "Mom, I wish the goat show wasn't on Sunday." I said, "I do, too, Tyler. But it is neat to have our worship together like we did." Tyler said, "Well it wasn't right." I asked him what wasn't "right" about it. He said, "Well, we sang the songs after daddy preached and we had communion (the Lord's Supper)at the first." You see, at our church services there's always a certain pattern of songs, prayers, etc. and our worship this morning didn't fit that pattern, so Tyler thought it was wrong - because the order was different.

What a teachable moment! It's times like these that serve as an important time for us to teach Tyler and all of our children about true worship. True worship to God is not dependent on the order of how things are done, but rather it's what we do in our worship (sing, pray, give, hear the Word, communion (the Lord's Supper)) and how we worship (the Bible says to worship in spirit and in truth John 4:24) that are important.

Now, I wouldn't be for giving up meeting with my Christian family each Sunday (we meet together in the morning and evening and also on Wednesday nights). In fact, I believe the Bible teaches that to do so would be wrong. But, I do think it's important to realize that true worship - in spirit and in truth - is worship that is done with the intent to please God and not ourselves. It's not about what we think is right, but about what the Bible teaches is right. It's not about me and what I like, but about what is acceptable to God.

Thank you, God, for teachable moments where we can teach our children more about you. Please help us to worship you in spirit and in truth and not just go through the motions.
In Jesus' Name,
Amen

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Who's In Control - You or Your Child?

I subscribe to three magazines, yet rarely have/take the time to "read" through them - only glance through quickly some times. But, this weekend we're at a hotel for the Oklahoma State Fair goat show. It's a nice change of pace to get away, relax a little bit, plus there's no laundry, no dirty dishes, and not quite as much straightening to do (yes, I straighten the hotel room some. It would be a disaster if I didn't!).

Last night while reading through my Family Circle magazine, I was pleasantly surprised by the "Ask Rosalind" section. The following questions was asked: "My daughter is 13 and is texting every waking moment. When I make her turn off her phone she gets furious. Should I set limits anyway?" Now, I don't know if this was a "real" question from a reader or if the people working for the paper just make up questions that could be real, but the answer from Rosalind Wiseman showed that she is a "Wise wo-Man". Here's the main part of her answer: "I don't understand why this is so confusing for parents. She's 13. You are in control here. If she's not furious with you at least part of the day, then you're doing something wrong. Also, it's your money that pays for the phone." And then Rosalind talks about how certain companies can set usage controls and how she as a parent can, as well.

It was great to see Rosalind answer in a way that directly put the parent in control of the child, instead of vice-versa. The "child in charge" syndrome seems to be an epidemic in our culture today. And, unfortunately, many times the advice given by some counselors and columnists is to allow the children more control of their lives than they are capable of handling at that time.

Children and teens need guidance and direction, but the right kind of guidance and direction. The advice in Family Circle was great advice, but God gave this advice thousands of years ago in His Word - the Bible. The Bible teaches that children must obey their parents (as long as it does not go against God's commands). And parents must discipline their children. Of course, this verse does not mean to "beat" children as some have made it out to mean. But it is more than multiple warnings that never result in any form of discipline at all.

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Ephesians 6:1

Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. Colossians 3:20

He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him. Proverbs 13:24

Friday, September 25, 2009

AND THE WINNER IS....

Two days ago my husband got a phone call while he was at work.  It was the pharmacy assistant calling from our families' regular pharmacy.  She said, "Joe, you won!"  He asked, "Won what?"  She proceeded to tell him that his name had been drawn in their give-away for a flat-screened TV.  But he told her he hadn't ever entered the contest.  She assured him that he really did win, but he still thought it was a joke and didn't believe it.                
A little later in the day, one of Joe's co-workers was going to Altus (about 30 min. away and where our pharmacy is located) and Joe asked her to pick up some asthma meds for the boys.  He also said, "Oh, yeah, and if I really won that TV, bring it back, too!"  Well, here's proof: Joe won the TV! Now, the reason Joe didn't think it he had really won is because (and I quote) "I never win anything."  Joe never remembers  winning any prize, give away or anything like that at all.  He's typically not "lucky", we could say. 

On the other hand, I remember winning lots of things in the past.  When I was little, I registered to win karate lessons while at the county fair.  I won, but didn't take the lessons (wouldn't have wanted to, either).  Another time I won a life jacket from the county fair.  I do remember using it a few times.  The one thing I won several years ago was a pig canister set door prize at a "Taste of Home" cooking show.  Although I wasn't a pig-in-my-kitchen type, it was a very nice prize donated by one of the merchants sponsoring the cooking show. 

What I remember most about "winning" things was at the annual Lions' Club Carnival in my hometown: Eldorado, Oklahoma.  My dad gave a donation to the Lions Club at the end of the carnival - right before prizes were given away.  He won a TV.  But then, the next year he did the same thing and won again!  So, being the oldest, I got to have the third TV in my room.  It was amazing that he won the TV's two years in a row!  I don't always think I'll win, but I always know there's a big possibility I will if I enter something. I guess its an "optimistic attitude" towards winning.

Some of our children have also won various drawings and give-aways at school and races (running races they enter where door prizes are given away).  One of our children, Zachary, especially seems to win a lot. In fact, it's almost as he EXPECTS to win. Another one, Jacob, doesn't typically win very often (The other two are kind of in the middle!).  But, with Jacob, it's almost like he expects NOT to win.

This whole "winning" thing causes me to think about God and also about mental attitudes.  Do you suppose that since Joe believed, "I never win anything." that he didn't for so long?  Or do you suppose because Zachary believes he is going to win something helps with his abundant success in winning door prizes and awards?  I believe it does.  I believe God uses those simple things - like our optimism and pessimism to teach us lessons and help us grow in our faith.  If you and I believe it, we can achieve it!

Jesus taught His disciples several times about what their optimistic faith could accomplish:  Jesus replied, "I tell you the truth, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, 'Go, throw yourself into the sea,' and it will be done. If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer." Matthew 21:21-22

He replied, "Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you." Matthew 17:20

Now, in life, it doesn't really matter whether we win door prizes and giveaways or not.  No "things" don't matter at all in the scope of eternal life.  But, what does matter is our attitude and our faith...not in what WE can do, but in what GOD can do in your life and in my life, but also what God can do THROUGH us.  Just think about all of the ways God could use us if we used optimistic faith every day of our lives!  Just imagine how we could spread the Good News about Jesus if we used this optimistic faith.  More than we could ever, ever imagine.

About the TV.  We only have one TV in our home.  Wonder what we'll do with this new one????

Thursday, September 24, 2009

A Birthday Party To Remember - Hawaiian, Italian, Fall, and No Noodles!


Back in the early summer Lauren decided she wanted a Hawaiian birthday party this year.  Because of her birthday being in September, she's had the full spectrum of temperatures for her parties.  One party I remember was 102 degrees!  Another one, I believe the next year or the year before that one, was in the 50's!  Really unpredictable.

I've been kind of funny about the kid's parties...not wanting them to repeat parties or not have the same party theme as a sibling had already had (that's getting hard with the 3 boys).  But, Lauren had a Hawaiian party six years ago and wanted the same again this year. I agreed.  Who could blame her?  All that Hawaiian and luau stuff is so cute!  Even though the party decor was Hawaiian,  Lauren's meal choice was Italian!  She chose:  Parmesean Chicken and Fettucine Alfredo.  I added Stick to Your Ribs Meatballs, green beans and Garlic Bread Sticks (I will post recipe for bread sticks on "Life's a Bowl of Cherries" Friday night).  To add to the Hawaiian and Italian flair, I had also decorated the house both inside and outside today with fall decor.  So, it was definitely an "ecclectic" look!

My mother-in-law (Grammy) made Lauren's cake.  Isn't it cute?  Tasted good, too!  There are lots of details in the cake that don't show up in the picture.  Little fish, shells, rocks, graham cracker "sand", and cinnamon stick poles.

The food was all out on the counter and the prayer for the meal had been said.  Everyone was getting up to fill their plates - buffet-style.  And... that's when I realized I had NEVER cooked the fettucine!!!  Everything was ready...Alfredo and spaghetti sauce, chicken, meatballs, green beans, bread...EVERYTHING!!!  Or so I thought!  But, all of a sudden I realized that I had NO NOODLES COOKED! 

I know what happened.  I remember thinking that the noodles always get sticky, so I was going to wait and do them right before everyone arrived; however, I forgot (obviously).  So, I promtly put on a large pot of water, boilded it, and cooked the noodles.  We were delayed about 20 minutes, but it wasn't too bad.  Since it was all just family and friends, it wasn't too embarrassing.  Plus they all know me and know that's just the way I am sometimes - a little (lot) goofy!

Back to the cake...The sign on the cake says, "Happy Birthday, Lauren", but in Hawaiian.  Interesting.  Wish I knew how to say it!

Lauren got this red "Kinsler" Texas Ranger's shirt from my parents for her birthday.  That's what she really wanted. She's a huge Texas Ranger's fan!  She even asked me to go look for her one on Monday when I went out of town and told me she would pay me back for it.  I already knew my parents had it for her, but did as she asked.....went to the store and looked.  They didn't have one, thankfully!

Tonight was a family party, but next week Lauren will have a slumber party and invite some of her friends.  That will be fun and I'll have more to say about that next week. 

It's really amazing how fast time goes.  It seems like yesterday we brought our new little baby girl from the hospital and now she's 15.  Lots and lots of memories.  Lots of laughs.  Lots of tears.  But, mostly, lots of love.

I prayed for this child, and the LORD has granted me what I asked of him. 1 Samuel 1:27

Happy Birthday, Lauren!

It's amazing to realize that 15 years ago today I because a mom.  I suppose all mothers feel that way as their children grow up!  I tease Lauren that she "technically" isn't 15 until 8:45 on the 24th.  She took her own sweet time arriving in the world (and that character trait still describes her to this day :)!!)
Lauren was due on September 21st, but that day came and went without any hint of impending labor.  On the 23rd, my husband and I were at his parents house playing a card game.  I actually won that game of "Liverpool" (a type of rummy) that night!  It was midnight.  We went out to the car and as soon as I got it I told my husband that I thought my water broke.  I wasn't sure, but it sure seemed like it to me.  He ran in and told his mom, we stopped by our house and got the bag that had been packed for a month (only because it was the FIRST child!) and headed to the hospital, an hour away.  We didn't know if we were having a little boy or a little girl, but both of us were thinking "boy".

All the way to the hospital nothing changed, just still the fluid, but no contractions.  They admitted me and we waited for something to happen.  It never did, so around noon the next day, they induced labor.  After a few hours, things began to get to going.  After getting to a certain point, I was given an epidural.  The babies heart rate went low so a monitor was stuck in the top of the head to keep check on that.  Thankfully, that part didn't last too long and everything was fine.

Lauren Ashley was born at 8:45 p.m. on the 24th.  She weighed 8 pounds and 9 ounces.  A funny thing was that the week before, I had dreamed that I had a big girl with a lot of hair!  Well, she was a big baby girl and she had a LOT of dark hair...even on her ears (we still tease her about that, too!).  It was such a strange dream because the whole time I had been thinking "boy".

Now, today, Lauren is 15.  It's truly amazing!  We have enjoyed watching her grow up and are so proud of her for who she is and who she is becoming.  Her Christian example is evident to those around her because she truly cares about others.  She makes it a goal in life to be an encourager to those around her, whether in her family or a school sports team, classmates, or club.  She is really funny (Dad trait), independent (Mom trait), and determined (Dad and Mom trait)...at times a little stubborn (I won't say who she got that from :)...)

I'm not ready for her to grow up completely and she's not ready, either.  However, we are both kind of ready for her to be 16, so she can drive (it will help me out a lot!).  In fact, she's going to start online driver's ed SOON!  Really, I'm glad she doesn't want to grow up fast.  Too many kids these days want to grow up fast and unfortunately many parents want them to, too.  We do know it's our job to prepare her to be ready for that day when she doesn leave home, though (sniff, sniff).  It's hard to let go, but it's my God-given duty as a mother.

Sometimes I'll tell Lauren things...things she doesn't necessarily agree with or want to hear. She will make a comment about it...letting me know she doesn't like it.  I just say, "God gave me the job to be your mother.  Let me do my job."  She just smiles and lets me "work".  At other times she makes her own decisions and then will ask me what I think.  I say, "You just do what you think you should do."  Then she comments about how hard some things are to decide.  Again, "just doing my job", I say.  I'm sure that scenario will be repeated many times during the next four years!

Today I took Lauren and Tyler (a.k.a. Biscuit) to voice lessons.  We were discussing her future in getting to drive soon.  Lauren told Tyler she wanted to take him places.  Neat places.  She said, "Tyler, I'm going to be the best big sister you and Zachary and Jacob could ever have!"  Although sometimes they don't like her "mothering" them if I'm gone and she's in charge, I think they will grow up and know that they did, indeed, have a great big sister!

 
Lauren, you have big dreams and goals and we look forward to watching you reach those goals. But, mostly we look forward to seeing how God will continue to work in your life in helping you become what He knows you can be!  We are proud to be your parents. And, we're very thankful that YOU are glad we're your parents!
We'll  love you...forever and always,
Mom & Dad 

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Christian One Liners

I received this via email some time ago. It has some really good thoughts! Enjoy!

Don't let your worries get the best of you;
Remember, Moses started out as a basket case.

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Some people are kind, polite, and sweet-spirited
Until you try to sit in their pews.

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Many folks want to serve God,
But only as advisers.

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It is easier to preach ten sermons
Than it is to live one.

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The good Lord didn't create anything without a purpose,
But mosquitoes come close.

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When you get to your wit's end,
You'll find God lives there.

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People are funny; they want the front of the bus,
Middle of the road,
And back of the church building.

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Opportunity may knock once,
But temptation bangs on the front door forever.

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Quit griping about your church;
If it was perfect, you couldn't belong.

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God Himself doesn't propose to judge a man until
he is dead. So why should you?

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Some minds are like concrete
Thoroughly mixed up and permanently set.

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Peace starts with a smile.

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A lot of church members singing 'Standing on the Promises'
Are just sitting on the premises.

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Be ye fishers of men. You catch 'em - He'll clean 'em.

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Coincidence is when God chooses to remain anonymous.

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Don't put a question mark where God put a period.

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Don't wait for 6 strong men to take you to the church building.

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Forbidden fruits create many jams.

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God doesn't call the qualified,
He qualifies the called.

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God grades on the cross, not the curve.

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God promises a safe landing, not a calm passage.

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He who angers you, controls you!

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If God is your Co-pilot, swap seats!

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Prayer:
Don't give God instructions, just report for duty!

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The task ahead of us is never as
great as the Power behind us.

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The Will of God never takes you to where the
Grace of God will not protect you.

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We don't change the message,
The message changes us.

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You can tell how big a person is
By what it takes to discourage him.

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The best mathematical equation I have ever seen:
1 cross + 3 nails = 4 given.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Judge

After two weeks of fairs at the county and state level, I guess my mind is on judging.  Last week at the county fair, I went around with the judge who was judging the crafts.  It was interesting watching her and listening to her comments of why something placed 1st, 2nd, 3rd, or why something placed last.  She really thought through her decision on each and every entry she judged.

This past Friday, our three oldest children were involved in livestock judging at the Oklahoma State Fair.  After they were allowed to look at the livestock animals, they "placed" them in the order they believed they should be.  Then, they were instructed to go and give "reasons".  Reasons are telling someone else (usually college-aged kids) why they placed each animal in a certain order.  This is my kid's LEAST favorite part of the event.  It's hard to give "reasons" (I remember from my 4-H years!) because some of the animals they judge they really don't know very much about.  But, part of the contest is telling the reasons of why they judged the animals in that particular order.  It's good practice for them and makes them think!

Another "judging" event was the table setting contest I wrote about yesterday.  I looked at all of the tables and judged them in my own mind.  I even picked the 1st place tables just as the judges did in the junior division and the senior division.  However, even though my daughter received 2nd place, I actually thought my son's table was more of a correct table setting.  Her's (to me) had a few more mistakes made than his did.  (Of course, I'm very proud of them for how well they did because they both did great!)  But, you know what?  It doesn't matter what I thought!  Why?  Because I wasn't the judge!  The only persons's opinions that mattered at that contest were the two judges opinions.  That's all - no one else's opinion mattered one bit.

Throughout our lives we have times where we find ourselves as a judge.  I'm often a judge between my children's squabbles...even if I don't really want to be!  You may be a judge in your family relationships, too, or in a situation with an employee or co-worker.  In fact, some people appoint themselves as a "juror and judge" of every situation!

The Bible has a lot to say about judging.  Some of the scriptures warn us about judging.  Others actually even tell us to judge, but are careful to explain the situations where it is okay and even necessary.  The verse below explains that whatever measure we use to judge others will be used to judge us.  It's easy to see weakness and sin in someone else, but it's not always so easy (or we don't want to look at ourselves close enough to find out!) to see weakness and sin in our own lives.  But, we must be careful - because when we are too hard on others and have a condemning and judgemental spirit, we're going to get that same "measure" used on us.  That condemning spirit actually condemns us! (Romans 2:1-3)

The reason we are not capable of judging as God and Jesus do, is because we can not look at the hearts of people.  We only look on the outside.  We judge the motives of others when we really have no idea about their motives.  We judge the actions of others when we really may not know their true actions.  We judge on the outward appearance and personality traits.  God judges the heart.  He sees inside the mind and in the soul.  He judges by what is true and real.  We judge by what is perceived to be true and what appears to be real.

"Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you." Luke 6:36-3

"You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. Now we know that God's judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. So when you, a mere man, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God's judgment?" Romans 2:1-3

These verses are  enough to make us think long and hard about our sometimes-self-righteous judging, aren't they? On this Gratituesday, I am grateful that God is the judge and that He is mericful!

Visit Heavenly Homemakers for more Gratituesday.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Table Settings

Four years ago the Oklahoma State Fair started a new competition, a table setting competition.  At that time my daughter and I both entered the contest - she in the junior division and I in the senior.  Although we both did very well in the competition that year, we hadn't ever taken/had the time to do it again; however, this year our daughter and our oldest son both decided to enter the contest.

Lauren's table setting theme was "OKLAHOMA".  She placed 2nd in the competition and it was fun watching her use her creative talents as she set the table during the competition.

Zachary's table theme was "A Table Divided"...an OU and OSU table.  He was the only boy in the whole competition, but he didn't mind a bit!  He placed 4th in the competition.

We don't ALWAYS set the table properly at each meal, but when it's a sit-down-family-meal, we do; and when the one of the kids set the table for these meals, I expect it to be set properly.  It may not seem like that big of a deal to many, but to me it's teaching the kids about manners and etiquette.  Manners and etiquette are important in life, but  unfortunately they are not always regarded in high esteem in this day and age.

The goal of good manners and etiquette isn't for one to look good or to impress others.  No.  Not at all.  Good manners and good etiquette show kindness and consideration to others.  So, thinking of it in that way puts it in a Biblical perspective, doesn't it?  By showing kindness and consideration to others, we are putting others before ourselves. 

Just another way to "Shine Like Stars"...

"So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God." 1 Corinthians 10:31

"Do to others as you would have them do to you." Luke 6:31

Saturday, September 19, 2009

A Twenty-Six Year Tradtion



Twenty-six years ago, when I was 14 years old, my family started a tradition of going to the Oklahoma State Fair.  At that time, my sister and I, our parents, and one set of grandparents would go with us.  Later my husband joined the group, then my sister's husband.  Our grandma passed away in 1991, but after that my grandpa came some times. 


As each of our children were born, they were added to the "state fair" group.  But, due to distance, after my sister and her husband had children, they had to stop coming.  Then Grandpa passed away.  Now, the tradition continues with my husband and I, our four children, and my parents.  My husband and I missed the year our oldest was born because she was born during fair time.  My parents also missed one year when my dad was in the hospital, but we were still able to come for a day.


This year we saw Disney's Fantasy on Ice.  It was great!  The flowers above here were "growing", being blown up by air all around the ice rink.  They were made like the blow-up outdoor Christmas  decorations.
Almost every year we've seen the "Disney on Ice" show, but we've also been to the rodeo a few times, as well as the circus.  But, the ice show is our favorite.  Tonight's show was so cute with the cars above (from the movie "Cars").  It's amazing to see Disney's work in this show each year.  They pay so much attention to the details to make everything spectacular.

We've had good seats before, but never this good.  They were on the front row in the center section on the floor.  We always thought they were radio-give-away-type seats, but I guess not!  I asked my husband about it later and he said that when he sent in our order in June (they don't process them until July some time), he mentioned that after being at the shows for over 20 years, we had never had front row seats.  Well, it worked!  It was exciting!  (Even my Dad stayed awake during the whole show :)!!!) The front row seats were the same price as the ones we had gotten for many years, though...just better!  We thought he was joking about writing that on the order, but apparently not.  It never hurts to ask - IN A NICE WAY!

(This is from the afternoon...can't work the laptop to "move" pictures to get them in sequence tonight!) These are the two brave ones in the family - my husband and daughter.  They like the thrill of some of the rides.  My mom does not like these rides at all and really doesn't like watching them, either!  I don't want to ride them, but I'm okay with them riding (just don't expect me to!)


Sebastin from "The Little Mermaid" is a favorite any time he's on one of the Disney Ice shows.  It's one of my favorites, too.  They use black lights and blow lots and lots of bubbles!

Lightening McQueen and Pumba were favorites in tonight's show, as well.  It was amazing how the wart hog moved around...and to think there was a person in the costume doing all of that moving is amazing!

Of course nothing "Disney" would be complete without a visit from Mickey, would it?  The finale of the show was "Tinkerbell" making everything beautiful.  Flowers were everywhere and confetti fell from up high.

One of our favorite parts of the weekend is worship on Sunday.  This part has changed, too, because my parents leave on Saturday now (they have obligations at their home congregation).  We go to worship with my husband's brother, his wife, and their children in Edmond, then go eat lunch with them afterwards.  It's become another highlight in the weekend!

I've written before that traditions are important to me.  This is one family tradition that is important to all of us.  I know that as our children get older, there will be more and more conflicts that may cause this tradition to change....change, but hopefully not end.  Who knows, maybe some day I'll be coming to the Oklahoma State Fair with my own grandchildren!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Think On These Things...

I don't agree with everything Joel Osteen believes and teaches, but I came across this quote from him, and found it to be quite true.  ( The "ALL CAPS" is done by me.)

"You can be committed to CHURCH but not committed to CHRIST, but you cannot be committed to CHRIST and not committed to CHURCH." - Joel Osteen

The passage below is often used with the husband/wife relationship and it should be, but read it here and pay close attention to what it says about Christ and the church.  The "bold" emphasis is added my me, of course.)

"Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her (her is referring to the church) holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless."
What do you think?

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Chronicles of Biscuit - "Is There Food In Heaven?"

Tonight's lesson during worship was about Heaven. Towards the end of the lesson, the preacher was really describing what we know about Heaven from the Bible. Biscuit (our youngest child who's six) looked up at me and whispered, "Will there be food in Heaven?" I know why he asked this question.  He's hungry ALL THE TIME! So, I'm sure the thought of no food in Heaven bothered him.  I shook my head yes. (But, see note below.) Biscuit replied, "Well, I hope it's good!"

Note: In the morning I'll remember to talk to Biscuit about the "food in Heaven" question because I thought later...there might not be because we might not ever get hungry or need food...we just don't know. But, I'll tell him that if there IS food in Heaven, it will be the BEST food he's ever eaten!

"Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am." John 14:1-3

I want to be there! Don't you?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Love Your Enemy - John

Sometimes we find it difficult to love some people, especially those we might consider our enemy.  However, God's Word tells us that we must love them. This week we have an out-of-town preacher in town doing a series of lessons about "Moments With Christ".  The lessons have been encouraging and thought-provoking.  By the end of each lesson, I'm sure that most everyone has gone away from the building feeling closer to God and wanting to live more like His Son, Jesus.  I know I have.

Tonight the preacher had us look at this passage in Philippians 4:8, "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things."

Then he asked each of us to think of someone who we didn't care for or someone we felt like had wronged us.  He suggested putting their name at the top of a piece of paper sometime and  then writing the above words down the left side:  true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy.  Using those words, he suggested writing something good about the person whose name we had written.  As an example, I'll use the name John, and pretend he is someone I am feeling is my enemy.  Even though I may have a real problem with John, I would take the time to find something good to say about him using each of these words.  So my paper would look like this:

JOHN
True:  John is a good dad. 
Noble:  John seems to be a good employee.
Right:  John is a hard worker.
Pure:  John seems to live a holy life.
Lovely:  John does a good job teaching Bible class.
Admirable:  John is a good husband.
Excellent: John sings well.
Praiseworthy:  John helps the elderly in the church.

Now, this was "fake" and by the time I finished writing all about "John", I felt better about my "problem" with him and IT'S ALL MADE UP!  I know a John, in fact two that I can think of right now, but this situation wasn't real.  Imagine how it would make you and I feel if we took the time to do this with someone we REALLY felt was our enemy?  Why don't you try it today and see how you feel afterwards?

Monday, September 14, 2009

Treasures

On Labor Day, our four children spent the day working. But, it was fun labor....for the most part! They spent the day getting entries ready for the county fair, which was this past weekend.
They made cookies, bread, biscuits, crafts of all kinds, drew pictures, painted items, glued, cut, and on and on. Plus, they washed, dried, clipped and walked their goats.

By the end of the fair,  they had many ribbons and even some trophies. The funny thing is that the day before, we had given a box full of trophies BACK to the trophy store for them to recycle. And when the county extension supervisor needed some 1st place ribbons during the livestock show part of the fair, she knew she could take ours off of our winning entries and recycle them by giving them to others. Why? Well, it's simple, really. Trophies and ribbons are neat, but they are not what matter in life. No, not at all. What matters in life is that we serve God. That we live to please God. And that we store up treasures in Heaven, not here on earth. (Matthew 6:19-21)

We take pictures of the kids awards so they can look at them later on and can show them to their own children. They keep their trophies or plaques from their goats or other events for a year, but then we take the fronts off of them and give them back to the store to be used again. There are a few that mean a little more to them or to me and we keep those, but it's only a few.

I've talked about 4-H and FFA before and how I believe they are GREAT organizations for kids.  Many of you may not realize that even home-schooled children can participate in 4-H and it's for ages 9 through 18 years old.  4-H and FFA help teach children responsibility, leadership, citizenship, and many other things.  It's not about winning ribbons and trophies or plaques.  It's about teaching children to do their best  and to work hard.  It's about doing what's right and about serving and helping others...putting others before ourselves. Kind of reminds me of a GOOD BOOK I've read a lot, doesn't it you???  (Yes, the Bible!)

W want our children to learn from their experiences and activities how to live more like Christ and how to better serve God.  We don't want their goal in life to be how many awards they receive.  On this Gratituesday,  (Hosted by Laura at Heavenly Homemakers), I am grateful for treasures, but treasures in Heaven - not on earth.

It Rained and Rained for.....

Well, so far here in Tipton it's rained for five days and maybe even five nights (I'm not exactly sure about the nights). There are two more days of rain in the forcast right now, so it looks like we may even get more. At our house, we've had close to three inches, which we really needed! Thank you, God!

When I think about continued rain, I always think about Noah. Today, I thought it would be fun to do a "Noah Quiz". It's something I've thought about before as I've taught little ones in Bible class, and it might be good for all of us to think about, as well. If anything, it gets us digging deeper into God's Word - and that's always a good thing!

I'll ask some questions and then give the answers below. Be sure to comment on the questions or answers, but also please take the time to search the scripture references for yourself.

1. True or False: The animals went in the ark two by two.

2. True or False: It rained for 40 days and for 40 nights.

3. Noah herded the animals onto the ark.

4. How many windows were in the ark?

5. How many people went into the ark?

6. True or False: Everyone on the outside of the ark died in the flood.

7. How long was water on the earth?

8. Noah sent a bird(s) out of the ark ______ times to see if the waters had gone.

9. What kind of bird(s) did he send?

10. If you were alive during that time, would you have been faithful like Noah and his family? Or would you have been one of those who perished in the flood?

ANSWERS:
1. Some did, but some didn't! Genesis 7:2-3

2. True. Genesis 7:12

3. No! The animals went to the ark! Even the animals obeyed God. I love that, don't you? Genesis 7:8-9

4. Only one window that opened, but the ark had an opening all of the way around, 18 inches from the top. Genesis 6:16; Genesis 8:6

5. Noah, his wife, his three sons (Ham, Shem, and Japheth) and their wives - 8 people in all. Genesis 7:13

6. True. Genesis 7:21

7. 150 days. Genesis 7:24

8. Four times. Genesis 8:6-12

9. Raven, Dove, Dove, Dove - Genesis 8:6-12

10. Only you can answer this question.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

And the winner is.....

This afternoon marked the end of our country fair. A few years ago the fair added a new pie contest as part of the fair. We've always been too busy with the kid's goats to have time to do pies, but this year my husband decided to give it a try.

He first began talking about making one or two on Labor Day, but I didn't really think he was serious. But the next day he mentioned some pie recipes he had found and was thinking about trying. By Wednesday, he had come up with four pies he was going to make. He even went shopping (the nearest early opening supermarket is 30 miles away)early Thursday morning before work to get his supplies.
He got a 1st place, two 2nd places, and the other we're not sure about (either 2nd or 3rd).

One of the pies he found was "Apple Crumb Pie". He didn't realize when he went shopping that he would need a disposable deep dish pie plate (it had to be disposable), but we had a round disposable one we thought would work. It looked really good as you can see in the picture. It came in 2nd in its class of "Fruit Pies", but one of the judges said it had the best flavor of any of the pies. It was 2nd only because it wasn't in a typical pie plate, but rather in a straight edged pan. It was so pretty cut! The layers of apples just lined up, without any juice coming out at all. I was waiting to take a picture of a cut piece with my husband holding it, but someone came up and bought the rest of the whole pie, so I missed it!


The neat thing about this pie contest is that these were the first pies my husband has ever made - and instead of just making one he made four! He can cook.  He knows how to make things, but he had never made a pie. So, that's pretty neat, I think! He also doesn't roll out the crusts. He just presses them into the pie plate, but they look really good.  He thinks rolling them out seems too hard and he makes it work - so that's just fine!

The recipe for this "Apple Crumb Pie" can be found here.  He just made another one of these pies for our church fellowship dinner tomorrow - in a glass deep dish pie plate!  Congratulations, Joe!

Something to think about...

Quote by Paris Reidhead: "Most Christians don't have fellowship with God; they have fellowship with each other about God."

What do you think?

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Man at the Fair

Today was the beginning of our county fair. I'm one of the chairmen for the craft department and spent the afternoon, evening, and some of the night working on getting the items entered and organized. In the morning I'll go around with the judges as they judge, placing the ribbons on the winning exhibits. It's a fun time for all who are involved.

For the past two years, there have been a few food items stolen. Last year a few of us actually saw it happen. Today, as soon as I arrived at the fairground, I saw this same man. He's in his 60's or 70's I would guess and he had his wife with him. Because I was carrying in my four children's entries, some of which were food, I was a little concerned to sit it down and go to get other entries from the car. Since the items weren't yet entered, they could easily be picked up. But, I decided to be trusting and not worry about it and go on and do what needed to be done.

When I came back into the building, I heard someone say to the man, "This year you need to try something new. You need to pay for your items." I was a little shocked, but the person who said it didn't do it in a mean way, in fact he's a very kind and helpful man who was also helping enter items. The "theif" man said, "Well, I don't know how - and kind of laughed." A lady sitting nearby said to him, "It's time you learn!". That was the end of the conversation.

I thought about that conversation throughout the day. I don't know anything about the man who has stolen food the past few years. But, if he's truly hungry I am very sorry about that. I've never been hungry. Oh, I think I have - just like today, without eating lunch or anything since breakfast - by 8:00 tonight I was hungry, but not really...not hunger like some know hunger. I'm very thankful that I have never experienced true hunger.

He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need. Ephesians 4:28

For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: "If a man will not work, he shall not eat." 2 Thessalonians 3:10

So, maybe this man is truly hungry...truly needy. In that case, I should help him. However, there's a possibility that this man just steals because, like he said, "I don't know how (to pay)." Did he mean he steals because that's what he grew up doing and didn't pay for things - like at a store? I don't know. Only he knows and God knows. God's the judge, not me.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Chronicles of Biscuit - "Perils of 1st Grade"

Just yesterday morning I mentioned to my husband, Joe, that it had been several weeks since I had been able to write a "Chronicles of Biscuit" post - about three weeks, actually.  It was making me sad, actually, thinking that Biscuit (Tyler - our youngest child) was growing up and out of his "funny" age. I would miss it, for sure, and so would the rest of the family.  But today, Biscuit changed all of that!  Thanks to the perils of 1st Grade!

When I picked the kids up from school, the youngest two were the first to the van.  When Biscuit got in the van, he immediately started crying. (This reminds me of a Biscuit episode from Kindergarten posted here.)  I knew by that he'd been in trouble.  I asked him what he had done and he prefaced it with, "I'm still good in class, Mom.  I yelled."  Well, of course, the "yelling" part was concerning.  Students shouldn't yell in class.  I asked him why he yelled and here was his explanation:  "I held my hand up for a long time.  They (meaning the teacher and her assistant) never saw me.  It's so loud in there."  I asked what he needed and he said he didn't understand what he was supposed to be doing on his work.  I explained that with so many students (24) in the classroom, it's going to be hard to get to everyone quickly and if they are getting help, it is not going to be really quiet.  I asked for a demonstration of how he held up his hand.  He showed me and I suggested he hold it higher.  He said, "Mom, it gets really tired and I have to keep changing arms."  Well, we talked a little while and I told him that even if they don't see him, he can't yell.

By that time the other siblings were in the van, so I began talking to them about their day.  Later on when Biscuit, his sister and I were on our way to their voice lessons, I thought about his problem.  It occured to me that I never asked WHAT he yelled.  I was almost afraid to ask, but did anyway.  When I asked he responded, "Mom, we've already discussed this!"  But, I told him he never told me what he yelled.  So, he explained that he said he just yelled her name...THREE TIMES!  However, he was quick to say that his teacher assured him that he's still being good in class.  That's funny that he kept saying that because last year he really didn't seem to care.  I mean, he didn't get in trouble very often - in fact only a few times, but he didn't care.  This year he WANTS to do good and be good.  He's definitely grown in that way. 

As far as he knows, nothing happened as far as classroom discipline...probably because it was at the end of the day, which is probably why it was louder in the classroom.  Biscuit now knows that he can not yell, even if he needs help and even if the teacher isn't seeing his hand.  He learned an important lesson today. 

Of course, I don't want him getting in trouble at school, but secretly I am glad to have another "Chronicles of Biscuit".  Shhhhhhhh!  But, don't tell him I said that!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Looks Good, Doesn't It?

See this brownie?  It looks good, doesn't it?  Well, it isn't.  In fact, it's horrible!  At first, if you were to bite into this brownie, it would seem okay, but then you would begin to taste the flavors and find that something is definitely wrong.  I'm not sure what went wrong.  My daughter made a double batch of them and apparently messed up somehow.  We think she may have put too much baking powder.  But, at first glance, the brownie looks good.

Isn't sin this same way?  Some things that are sinful - at first glance - seem appealing.  If they weren't appealing, we wouldn't sin or be tempted to sin, would we?  But, just like this brownie looks appealing and might taste okay right at first, as it stays in the mouth for a little while, it gets worse.  Sin might not seem too bad at first.  We might think we're "okay" because it's just once...or just a few times....or just ever so often.  But, little by little that sin can destroy us.  Even the first time we sin it seperates us from God, but to continually do it over and over puts us further and further from Him.

Although only a few of these brownies were ever taken from the pan, I had to throw away the whole batch.  I knew that because those few brownies tasted bad, the whole batch was bad.  We must do the same in our lives...get rid of all sin.  We can't keep some sin in our lives and get rid of others.  No sin can be hidden from God.

But now my brownie pan is clean and no more of the "bad" remains.  It's the same way when we confess our sins to God.  He wipes the slate clean.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
1 John 1:9

Thank you, God, for your unconditional love for us and your willingness to for our sins when we repent.
In Jesus' Name,
Amen

Monday, September 7, 2009

Mice and Mold

First of all, "Thank You" to whomever it was that nominated "Shine Like Stars" for an award! If you are interested in voting for this blog, you may do so on the right side of my home page.

GRATITUESDAY
Hosted by Laura @ Heavenly Homemakers

For this Gratituesday, I am thankful for mice and mold. Yes, I know. It sounds strange, but, it's true!

Each year when school begins, I start cleaning out closets and cabinets that have been neglected for many months. This year my goal was to clean out our pantry. It really hadn't been too long since I had cleaned it out because we had a mouse in there as I mentioned here. But, after cleaning it out then, I didn't have the time to go through and organize it like I should have, so the first full week of school was the designated time to take on that task.

Our pantry closet was next to a shower and in the laundry room. It sounds strange to a lot of people to have a shower in the laundry room, but not to me because two houses I grew up in had showers in the laundry rooms. I think it's a "farmer" thing...so they can come in and take of their dirty clothes and shower there...not having to go through the house. Anyway, we knew the shower had some leaks and my husband had recently sealed it, but apparently, it didn't work.

While cleaning out the pantry I found a few mouse droppings, which was very un-nerving since we never caught the mouse before and hadn't seen any trace of one being around. But, I figured they were just some that I had missed before (or at least I hoped so!). The mouse droppings were bad enough, but then, as I was taking out boxes of snacks from the pantry, I found a box of Cheez-Its STUCK to the wall against the shower wall. It was MOLDED to it!! YUCK!! Well, after my inital shock, I became angry and then I resorted to tears. Yep. I just stood there and cried for a minute. Then, realizing I had an even bigger task before me and realizing it wasn't going to clean up by itself, I dried up the tears and began throwing boxes and boxes of food away. For someone who doesn't like to waste, this was very hard, but extremely necessary.

So, this picture shows why I can be grateful for mice and mold. This picture is my NEW PANTRY, except it's not yet framed and doesn't have a door/curtain, yet. This new pantry was the leaky shower! My husband worked for two weeks after work and on weekends tearing out the old shower and making this new, larger pantry for me. I'm sooooooo excited! The old pantry, which is actually to the left, is a closet for the vacuum, brooms, mops, tablecloths, my husband's running gear, etc. Eventually the whole laundry room is going to be part of the kitchen and I'll have a new laundry room, but that will have to wait for a while.

I had wanted a bigger pantry, but wasn't expecting the mold problem to become the reason I got one. Something bad ended up being something good. This is a minor example of situations that happen in our lives all of the time. Something bad happens, but later on something good comes of the bad thing.

Thinking of this in a spiritual sense, we don't see the big picture that God sees, so sometimes it's hard to understand why bad things happen. It's sometimes hard not to become discouraged. In the Bible there are several examples of something bad turning into something good. One of those examples is Joseph. Joseph was sold by his brothers and later they were sorry for what they had done. But, look at what Joseph says in Genesis 50:20. "You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives."
The brothers meant to harm Joseph by getting rid of him because of their jealousy, but God's big picture of "why" it happened was so that Joseph could save the lives of many people.

In reality, mice problems and mold problems aren't that big of a deal, but at the time on that Monday morning, they were to me. But, something good came from that problem. You may be facing some problem right now...maybe a big problem or maybe a little problem. You and I can have faith that God sees and knows the big picture, even when we don't understand. Someday we may find out what that big picture is, but it's possible that we may never know for sure. We can put our faith, hope, and trust in God because He is the only one who can truly give us the strength we need to get through the problems in life.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Fellowship with Christians Friends


It's been a long time since we've hosted our church family at our home. It used to be something we did every October, but the past few years there have been too many conflicts and it hasn't worked out for us to have it.

Instead of waiting and trying to work it out later on, we decided to schedule the fellowship time for tonight after evening worship services. Because it's a holiday weekend, we knew there would be a lot of people out of town, but we still ended up having a good crowd. It made it great for the kids and many of the adults, since tomorrow is Labor Day and there's no school and many don't have to work.
Everyone brought finger foods and desserts (including homemade ice cream - YUM!)and enjoyed the time visiting in the coolness of the day. The teens and children enjoyed volleyball, swinging, and some even caught a few frogs!
It's nice to get together to visit and enjoy the company of fellow Christians. In the hurried lives we all live, it's a nice change of pace when we're able to slow down for a while.

If you are off tomorrow from work or if your children have the day off from school, take the time to relax and enjoy being together with friends and/or family. If you do have to work tomorrow, be thankful for your job. So many are struggling with job loss at this time - work is something to be especially grateful for.

To all of you - have a great week!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

"As for me and my house....."

Above our fireplace mantle is this scripture sign my parents gave us for Christmas several years ago.  I love the verse painted on it: "As for me and my house we will serve the Lord." Joshua 24:15.  I pray that scripture will always be true in our home.  I also pray that we are teaching our children about God in way that this scripture will also be true in their homes when they grow up and have families of their own.

Today I was thinking about all of the things with which we can fill our lives.  It's hard to not fill our lives with stuff....non-important "stuff". If we become so busy, we don't have time to serve the Lord.  If we're not careful our "to-do" list becomes so big that our "service" list gets neglected.  It's a struggle for our family and maybe yours, too, to not let fun and entertaining things, and even sports become the most important things.  Not that any of those things are bad, but they need to be kept in  proper balance and not before our service to God. 

Let's think about how else we could finish this scripture if we allowed our lives to get too busy, or if we allow ourselves to put other things first in our lives.

As for me and my house we will.......watch TV for hours and hours, but not be able to do any good deeds for others. 
As for me and my house we will.....spend all of our free time doing what we want to do for pleasure, but never have the time to help the needy or visit the sick.
As for me and my house we will......put entertainment before God.
As for me and my house we will.....find fault with people who are doing trying to do good, but not help with the effort to do good.
As for me and my house we will......do whatever we want to do instead of worship God with our church family.
As for me and my house we will.....be thankful for baby Jesus and celebrate his birth and resurrection a few times each year, but not worship Him daily by following Him.
As for me and my house we will.....put sports above our service to God.
As for me and my house we will....worship God when it is convenient to do so.
As for me and my house we will....make sure we don't miss the latest movie that's out, but not have time to fellowship with our Christian brothers and sisters.
As for me and my house we will....make sure we have the biggest and best things, but fail to give to further the Lord's work.
As for me and my house we will....make sure to read the latest and greatest novel just released, but never have the time to open and read God's Word.
As for me and my house we will....make sure we attend worship service once, twice, or even three times a week so that I can check that off of our "faithful Christian" list.
As for me and my house we will....make sure to stay up late Saturday night watching the end of the big game, but not be able to get out of bed the next morning for worship (or Bible classes).

"As for me and my house we will........" Can you think of any others?  How would you finish this sentence?  Hopefully we can all finish it just like Joshua did:  "Serve the Lord."
 
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