Sunday, May 31, 2009

Being Left


When our oldest child, Lauren, was in 1st grade, we left her behind by accident. We were worshipping at a congregation about 25 minutes away and my husband and I both worked in that same town. He would drive home after work and get the kids (only three at that time!) and bring them back for Wednesday night services because I usually worked later than he did. So, we always had two cars at services and the kids would chose who they were riding home with each week.

On this one particular night after services, my husband left the parking lot. I thought the oldest two children with him. I even thought I saw both of them in the car. I had the little one with me. I guess I was the only one with a cell phone, because I got a call on the way home. The phone rang and the man (a friend, one of the elders of the congregation, and also a family physician) said, "Lori, do you think Joe has Lauren?". I said, "Does he not?" I pretty much knew by the question he asked that he didn't! I said, "I'll be right there!". I was halfway home - about 11 miles from the church building and about 11 miles from home. Joe was probably almost home, but I couldn't call him, since he didn't have a phone.

I turned around and went to get our daughter. When I got to the building, two family friends (one was the one who had called) were waiting there with Lauren. They were so kind to her, but at that time she was very, very shy and most likely didn't say anything much at all!

I got her in the van and we headed home. By then I was able to call my husband at home and tell him what happened. I couldn't understand how she got left, but felt really bad for her. She said she had gone to the bathroom and forgotten that she wasn't home so wasn't hurrying. Then, when she came out, all the lights in the building had been turned off and luckily those two friends hadn't left yet! I apologized to her - and still do when she brings it up! It's not a happy memory any of us have. Thankfully, it had a happy ending.

Leaving one of our children was nothing we ever would have intended to do. But, because we didn't communicate in a clear way, it happened. Since then, we have made double-sure we know who has each of the children if we're in seperate vehicles! Thankfully nothing like that has ever happened again!

Why is it that what should be the most important things in our lives, sometimes become what we neglect? Leaving our daughter was not intentional, and it was a mistake, but we did fail to communicate to each other the way we should have.


Likewise, things may being "left alone" in our spiritual lives. What are things we may be neglecting and leaving alone? Maybe we're neglecting reading God's Word and praying to Him, which leads to meditating on the scriptures and quiet times with God. We may be neglecting relationships that need nuturing or maybe even forgiving someone we should be forgiving. Maybe we're leaving behind our influence and example sometimes as we say things and do things that we as Christians shouldn't do. And, what if we are neglecting and leaving behind our children - not in the physical sense, but spiritually. As parents we are to "bring our children up in the nuture and admonition of the Lord", Ephesians 6:4. What are we neglecting to teach our children about God? About Jesus? About the church Jesus gave His life for? Are we neglecting to show them Christ living in us daily?

Just as my husband and I now check and double-check to make sure who has the children so no one will be left, we should check and double-check our lives just to be sure we are not neglecting the most important things.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

"TAKE ME OUT TO THE BALLGAME!"

This has been a week full of baseball! Little league is so much fun for kids, parents, and grandparents.

We had three ballgames today. The oldest two played at the same time, but thankfully the fields are across from each other, so I can watch both of them. My husband helps coach the oldest's team, but I could hear him yelling out to the other one any time he was up to bat, "Go get 'em, Hankus!" (his dad's nickname for him).

There aren't too many conflicting schedules this year. Last year there were several with all four playing, and our daughter's field was the farthest field at the complex. Less walking back and forth this year is great!

Our oldest son, Zachary, pitched for his team today. He's a pretty calm kid, which is a good thing. After striking out quite a few opposing players, another mom asked me if he would get a "big" head after all of his teammates were saying how good they thought he was doing. I told her I didn't think so. After the game, I asked him about it. He said, "I just kept thinking to myself, 'don't listen to them'", so he wouldn't get over-confident! I thought that was neat. Incidentally, they won their first game.

Jacob, the almost-11-year-old, plays catcher. He has played catcher for four years now and volunteers for that position. Not many want to play catcher because of all of the garb they have to wear!

Jacob is not quite as calm as his older brother. Actually, sometimes I tease him by saying that I see steam coming out of his ears. He works on self-control. I guess I should say that he and I work on his self-control - and have since he was 2! I explain to him, that even though he may be disappointed in his or a teammates' performance during the game, his anger shouldn't show on the outside. He works hard at it, but sometimes it's not easy. When he hears his whole name being called from the fence or stands, he knows momma is giving him a warning that his attitude needs an adjustment! On the other hand, he's an encourager to his teammates, too. It's just those little every-once-in-a-while moments we all experience in different ways. So far Jacob's team has two wins, two ties, and no losses. A big change from only winning two games towards the end of the season last year!

The youngest, Tyler, (a.k.a. Biscuit) is playing his second year of tee-ball. Tee-ball is so much fun! Tyler is a lefty and has a pretty strong arm. He's only had two games, but has played pitcher, 2nd base, and 3rd base. He was on 2nd base at the beginning of the game today. A ball was hit towards second and he got it. He threw towards 1st base, but, unfortunately, it hit the little boy running to first just as he reached the base. The ball hit him in the stomach, so of course the little boy was crying. His daddy came and carried off the field. They got him a pinch runner. Tonight Tyler said, "Mom, I wanted to cry on the field today. I felt so bad that I hit that little boy. I told him I was sorry." I thought that was so sweet!

As with any sport, lessons can be learned that can be applied to our daily lives as Christians. Here are just a few that I thought about:

1. Work together. It is important.
(Exodus 18:13-22)

2. Be humble, not proud.
"Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves", Philippians 2:3

3. Learn self-control.
"In your anger do not sin", Ephesians 4:26a
"God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble."", James 4:6b

4. Say "I'm sorry".
"And be kind to one another", Ephesians 4:32

5. Your attitude is a choice.
"Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus" Philippians 2:5

6. Do your best.
"Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might", Ecclesiastes 9:10a

Can you think of any others?

Friday, May 29, 2009

Summertime!


Although it's not officially summer until June 20-something, when school is out - it's summertime! I dread the over-100-degree heat, but the 80's that we've been having here in southwest Oklahoma has been really nice.

Summertime for our family brings VBS, which just ended yesterday, little league baseball for three of our children (much easier this year than last when all four were playing!), Bible camps, ball camps, and FFA camp. It also brings snowcones, swimmming, sleeping in a little later, and playing outside until dark.

I am looking forward to not making lunches. I get tired of making them sometimes during the year (sorry to complain a little!). I am looking forward to not having to watch the clock as much or to meet deadlines quite as often. I am looking forward to having my children at home with me more, instead of gone over seven hours each day. Our whole family is looking forward to attending our neices' wedding in early August, which will mean a short vacation to Tennessee.

Summertime is a fun time, a relaxing time for many people. Unfortunately, though, many people forget about God and Jesus in the summer. The fun, lazy days of summer are enjoyable, but let's all remember what's most important: Keeping God first and serving Him as Jesus did....living by Jesus' example. Jesus died for us. What would be so important that we would forget about Him - even for one day, much less an entire summer?

But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Matthew 6:33

Thursday, May 28, 2009

"The Great Physician"

At the beginning of our VBS, each of the 1st and 2nd graders' bodies were traced onto white paper. Because we tied our classroom in with a medical theme to go along with "The Great Physician", we called these "x-rays". My teen helpers had the idea to put the paper up on a table and have the child lay down on it. We had them wait in a "waiting room" made up in the hallway.
Each day, whatever "problem" the person in the Bible story had, we made the student's body tracing have the same problem. All of the ailments stayed on the same side every day (meaning left side of the body, or right side), so at the end of VBS, the one side was lame, blind, had leprosy, they were dead (black heart represents), were deaf, and had a withered hand. The other side was just fine, just like in the Bible stories each day - healed because of Jesus' power as God's Son. The kids were so proud of their tracings! Even though the tracings were a little odd looking, I think it will help them remember the stories even more.


One of today's VBS lessons was Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. After the Bible story was read, my class had a "wrap up Lazarus" contest. They wrapped the two teen helpers with two rolls of toilet paper, then we used a huge box for the tomb/stone and called, "Lazarus, come out!" just as Jesus did.
The other lesson was about the paralyzed man being lowered down from the roof by his four friends so that he could be healed by Jesus. Some of the teenagers helped act out this skit. One of our members made this Bible house for the story. You can see the boy on the mat being lowered through the hole they made in the roof. It was great! The children really enjoyed this skit! My 1st and 2nd graders tried to carry each other on a "mat". They had a hard time just doing it for a short distance. At the end, they all worked together to carry each of the teen helpers.

VBS is over. Hours and hours of work and it's over in three short days. It's a fun time of learning for the students and an exhausting time for the teachers! Exhausting, yes, but very much worth it.

Thank you to all who teach at school or Bible school/VBS. You are appreciated!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Saying "Thank You"

In VBS today, we studied about the 10 lepers who asked Jesus to help them by healing them (Luke 17:12-19). Jesus told them to go show themselves to the priest. The picture above is what my 1st and 2nd graders made to act out this story. Each of them were given two gloves. All ten fingers one one side of the plastic gloves were given sad faces and "leprosy" spots.
The other side of the gloves were given happy faces. The Bible tells us that on the way to see the priest, the lepers were cleansed. But, only one of the lepers came back to tell Jesus "Thank You". Jesus asked in verse 17, "Were there not 10 cleansed? Where are the other nine?"
The kids also were given "leprosy" with baby powder and acted out the story. They enjoyed the story, but learned the importance of saying thank you. The handprint cookies below also illustrated the story. You can tell the points of this story were really emphasized today! They also learned about the deaf/mute man being healed, but there were more activities to do with this healing.
One leper returned and told Jesus thank you. One leper returned and praised God. Only one. Which leper would I have been? The one who returned and said thank you and praised God? Or, one of the nine who accepted the healing power, but failed to give Jesus and God praise?

I wonder which one God would say I am? I'm afraid I need to work on telling Him more often how thankful I am for all of my blessings, and how thankful I am for the gift of His Son, Jesus.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Vacation Bible School - Yippee!!

The theme for our VBS this year is "The Great Physician". It's Tues. - Thurs. and each day we're studying two different lessons about those Jesus healed. It's always a little rough getting ready for VBS this soon after the end of school and with the Memorial Day Weekend, but we all manage to get ready in time.

This is my room, where I teach 1st and 2nd graders. Today there were 8 of them, but I know there will be a few more tomorrow. It's a fun age to teach and since they just finished with school last week, they are used to the routine of "classtime"!

The "Case Books" I have made on the walls came from an idea from a book called "Dr. Luke's Case Book", which is published by Christian Focus. I emailed the company for permission to use photos for VBS and they were willing to do it for me. Thank you, Christian Focus!

The little book is great. It's written by Ruth MacLean and here's a link if you are interested in seeing more about it. Since we did other stories about the healings Jesus did, other than all from Luke, "Case 6" used other pictures we had in our supply room.

Today we studied about Jesus healing the blind. I read from Mark 10:46-52, telling the story of Jesus healing Bartimaeus. Jesus used his spit to make mud and put on the man's eyes. We made chocolate pudding in small baggies to represent the "mud" and they had two Oreo cookies for the eyes. They seemed to enjoy learning today and we're looking forward to another exciting day tomorrow!

There's Somethin' Fishy Goin' On!

Well, at least today there was!


My mom went to Lubbock, TX, to visit my sister and her family for the week. My dad was off work for Memorial Day, so he asked if our kids wanted to go fishing.


The three boys fished all afternoon with their dad and grandpa. Sorry, there's no picture of "Grandpa". He's not too keen on pictures of himself on the computer for the whole world to see!



Their fish bait for today? WEINERS! They happened to be Oscar Mayer beef weiners, left over from the kindergarten graduation party last week. Wonder if the fish are picky about their weiners???



Unfortunately, I wasn't able to stay around to get pictures of the fish they caught. My daughter and I were working on VBS, which starts tomorrow. But, I also missed out on the two snakes they saw....kinda glad I missed that!



The boys had a great time today. It was a relaxing day and they enjoyed being surrounded by nature.

And God said, "Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the sky." So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living and moving thing with which the water teems, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. Genesis 1:20-21

Thank you, God, for the beautiful world you created for us!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

"IN REMEMBERANCE OF ME"

This morning I began teaching the pre-K and Kindergarten class again, after having taught the 7th & 8th grade girls since January. I was looking forward to teaching them all, but it's especially neat getting to have Tyler in there as I teach this class during the summer months.

I decided to teach them about the Last Supper. Because we partake of the Lord's Supper/Communion every Sunday, the children are very interested in what it is about. I began the lesson by talking about symbols that help us remember things. I showed them a heart. The children said it reminded them of love and Valentine's Day. I showed them a star. It reminded them of shooting stars and the wise men following the star to see Jesus. I showed them a raven. Elijah was our VBS theme last year, so they remembered that the ravens fed Elijah. I asked them what else they remembered about a raven. How someone in a big boat sent a raven out of the window. Of course, I was hinting for someone to answer "Noah", but one little boy blurted out: "NOSEPH!" A cross between Noah and Joseph! It was so cute and we all laughed. I thanked the little boy for making me laugh this morning!

The lesson went well. I lit a candle and we turned off the light and sat on the floor around the low table, perhaps like Jesus and the apostles did. I explained to the children that Jesus and the apostles didn't have electricity. I served the children just like Jesus did at the "Last Supper", with the fruit of the vine (we use grape juice) and unleavened bread. We talked about how Jesus said, "do this in remembrance of me." Luke 22:19b. In 1 Corinthians 12:26, it talks more about the Lord's Supper: "For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes." . This verse says, "for as often". We do it weekly because of this verse in Acts 20:7 "Now on the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread..."

The class seemed to make an impression on the children. It did Tyler. During the communion service this morning, he leaned over and said, "Mom, that's what we learned about!". Yes, we learned about how the Lord's Supper is a memorial of the death of Jesus, just as Jesus himself explained to His apostles during His Last Supper with them. The bread represents His body and the fruit of the vine represents His blood. I hope we always remember the importance of the communion time and always "do this in remembrance of Him."

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Teaching Responsibility

When our oldest child was in 1st grade, I remember her calling home and asking me to take something to school - something she had left at home. It only happened three times, but I remember thinking to myself, "Should she be remembering these things? Is this normal for a 1st grader?" I assumed it was normal and took the items to her. But, when our second child was in 1st grade, two years later, he never called home. He always remembered his things. Now in 3rd grade, our daughter was still occasionally calling home for left items. It occurred to me that it was just her - it wasn't "normal" or "abnormal", but just the difference in the two children. One was more naturally responsible than the other one. Now, five years later, it is still this way with our oldest two children (I won't take the time to analyze the youngest two in this post!!), but they are both pretty responsible with most things.

It is very important to teach our children responsibility, isn't it? We want them to grow up to be responsible adults and it is our duty, as parents, to do so. So many children are free to do as they please and aren't give responsibilities at home while growing up. They become lazy, unproductive adults, and they may end up being employees who may not be able to keep a job for long.

There are two people who have children just a few years older than I do who have served as great role models for me. They have shown examples of teaching children responsibility. One of the women is my sister-in-law, Robin, and the other is a friend named Mary. Both of these woman have given me unique ideas over the years that have helped me as my children have grown. When my children were young and we were visiting Robin's house, her three children had a rotating chore schedule posted on the refrigerator. The chores were done each morning, and could be done in about 5 minutes. The rotation gave each child a different responsibility for each day. Immediately I came home and made a chore chart of my own for the three oldest children (#4 hadn't arrived, yet.). It worked perfectly and the kids all seemed to enjoy having these small responsibilities. Now each child is just given daily chores as the need arises, but will be more scheduled during the summer months.

My friend, Mary, gave me another great idea about that same time. My oldest two children were always arguing about who got to sit next to their younger brother in the second row of the minivan, and who would sit in the back alone. Mary had four children. She used a rotating seat system, where each child got to sit in a certain seat for a week, then would rotate the next week to the next seat. The week system was implemented in our minivan immediately! The children were responsible for keeping up with the weekly schedule, which was put on the stick-up calendar on the visor. Now, with four children, this system is still used; however, with two over 12 years old, it also involved sitting in the passenger seat in the front when Mom is driving!

Sometimes teaching responsibility isn't fun. It takes time, and it takes work. Sometimes it takes planning. But, it's definitely worth it!

I'm reminded of this Chinese Proverb I saw at a teacher's workshop recently: “Tell me and I'll forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I'll understand.” Involving our children in the day to day activities of family life is teaching them to be productive, responsible adults - just like God intended for us to do, as parents.

Involve your children in something today!

Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might...Ecclesiastes 9:10a

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. Colossians 3:23-24

Friday, May 22, 2009

"Oh, Be Careful Little Minds What You Think"


In several past posts, I wrote about "Oh, Be Careful Little Eyes, and Ears, and Mouth and Feet." You can find those posts in the archives on the "Shine Like Stars" homepage.

Today let's add a verse to the little song, "Oh, Be Careful Little Minds What You Think!" Before the face of God (Remember, Coram Deo), we use our minds. When you think of our eyes, our feet, our ears, our mounths...it all goes back to what's up here (I'm pointing to my head! You point to your head!. It's all about what's in our mind.

What we think matters to God. Philippians 4:8 says, "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." Have you ever taken the time to think about what you think about? Let me ask you again slowly: Do...you...ever...think...about...what...you...think...about? It good for us to take the time to analyze our thoughts. Take the time to think about what you think about. Make sure your thoughts line up with what God would want you to think about.

Thinking on the things God wants us to think about may not always match with what is out there in the world. We must be careful how we fill our minds. Our mind should be on things listed in the verse above, not what the world gives us to think about.

"Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things," Colossians 3:1-2. It's pretty clear where God wants our mind....not on earthly things.

"Don't you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man 'unclean.' For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. Matthew 15:17-20a

If we are going to walk in a manner worth of God, and if we are going to walk like Jesus walked, then we must think like Jesus. That's what Paul talked about in Philippians 2, as he talked about imitating Jesus. “Have the mind of Jesus”. Our thoughts become our actions.

Before the face of God, we think with our minds.
Oh, be careful little minds what you think.

The Chronicles of Biscuit - Saving the Day!

A few weeks ago it was very pretty outside. I can't remember where everyone else was, but Biscuit and I were the only ones at home. I said, "Biscuit, why don't you go outside and play? It's such a pretty day!" Biscuit replied, "I know....I'm saving it!" Hmmmm. Saving it? I wonder what he was saving it for? I should have asked, but didn't.

This sounds funny for a child to say he's saving the day to go play, when it's a perfect time to go play. But we, as adults, do the very same thing, don't we? Maybe someone is sick and we think to ourselves, "I'm going to call so and so later and check on them". Then later we decide to put it off until tomorrow. Tomorrow turns in to many tomorrows. Eventually so and so is well...and we missed an opportunity. Maybe we're going to help out with Bible classes or VBS the next time we're asked, but the next time we're asked we are too busy or just don't feel like we can commit to the task. Eventually, the one time turns into years, into decades, and sometimes even lifetimes.

Several years ago a friend told me a story about a woman she knew. This woman never did anything for others while her children were growing up. She didn't feel like she had the time to help others. She devoted her time solely to her own children. While we should be devoted to our families and not neglect them in our serving, we should also be teaching them about serving others...teach them to put others before themselves. In doing so, we are being like Jesus and teaching our children about following Jesus, as well.

Too many times we have the attitude Biscuit had of saving the perfect time and then we loose that opportunity to do good. Acts 10:38, gives us a description of Jesus, "how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him."

Are you "saving the day" to do something good? Don't waste a perfect opportunity! Every day is a perfect day to serve God, and a perfect day to show Jesus living in you!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

We All Scream For Ice Cream!


Every year on the last Wednesday night of the school year, our congregation has an ice cream celebration. Ladies sign up to bring ice cream, toppings, cookies, and brownies.


I usually make ice cream shaped sugar cookies, but this year my daughter, Lauren, made them. Thanks, Lauren! As you can see, we always have plenty of sweet treats!


Tonight, just as we were getting ready to serve, someone announced that a young lady had decided to become a Christian and was going to be baptized! We all hurried back over to to church building to be part of that special event and then back to the fellowship building part to enjoy the ice cream, cookies, and brownies. It reminded me of Phillip teaching the Ethiopian eunuch and he said, "Look, here is water. Why shouldn't I be baptized?"(Acts 8:26-39) The chariot stopped right then. Tonight we stopped right where we were (well, we had to walk next door, but the young girl was already there!) and this young girl became a child of God!





Our friend Jimmy allowed me to snap a photo of his lovely ice cream sundae! Thanks, Jimmy!

The sundae makes a good illustration of the Lord's Church. Christ is the base - the bowl. We are the ice cream. The ice creams come in different flavors and different textures. As Christians, we are all different. None of us are made exactly alike. Now for the toppings. There are many different toppings - caramel, chocolate, fruits, whipped toppings, and nuts. We all have different talents, different abilities, different personalities. We all have different roles to fill in God's Kingdom. And the cherry on top? That's the fellowship we have with one another, and the fellowship we have with God because of our relationship with His Son, Jesus. The church, which is rejected by so many in the world today, is one of the greatest part of being a child of God!

Romans 12:4-5 "Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others."

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

It's Been A Circus Around Here!

Yes, it's been a circus around here! A literal circus, as well as a figurative one! This year, the Kindergarten teacher chose "circus" as the theme for her room. The students won two parties from the PTO for collecting the most box tops and labels. They were treated to a party recently and I decided to make these cupcakes for them to go along with their circus theme.



So then, along come's Teacher Appreciation Week the first week in May. But, our elementary teachers were having a "Biggest Loser" contest and didn't want to eat the food the PTO usually prepares while on the diet. They said they would eat if we would wait until the last weigh-in! So we waited until after their contest ended and fed them last Thursday and Friday, plus yesterday and today (Monday & Tuesday). The theme was "Under the Big Top" and the decor stayed up in the workroom during the celebration. It was a travelling "circus", making stops in Italy (Italian food was served), Oklahoma (circus fun food), Hawaii (fruit, snacks) and Mexico (soft tacos). The circus theme seems to be carrying on throughout the year!





When it came time to plan Kindergarten Graduation, a circus theme was choosen. The students used the alphabet to go along with a character one might see at the circus. Tyler was Melvin the Magnificant Clown. Lots of fun for all the kids!



With each of our four children, after Kindergarten Graduation, we've hosted a party at our house following the graduation program. Tonight there were 12 kindergatrten students, plus their families and others who came for the hot dog cookout. There are 21 in Tyler's class, so not everyone came, but we still had about 70 in attendance!



Our third child, Jacob, agreed to be the clown for the party. The students seemed to enjoy having him dressed up and acting the part for a little while.



My mother-in-law enjoys making cakes and does a great job at it. She made this circus cake for the graduation party.


Tyler decided to put on the clown wig, just for jokes.


We've got one more circus event planned in Tipton in the next few days. Tyler's Kindergarten teacher has been named "Teacher of the Year" for the school. I usually decorate for this event each year and as a surprise for her, it is going to be a circus theme. I am even going to use the stage background she had made for the program tonight as party of the decorations for her celebration! But, shhhhhh! Don't tell her! It's a secret!

God gives all of us gifts, talents, abilities. How do we use them to serve others? Every day we wake up with new opportunities to use our talents to serve others. By doing so we are "Shining Like Stars" for Jesus!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Joy, Happiness, and a New Puppy


Tomorrow night our youngest child, Tyler, will graduate from Kindergarten. He has wanted a puppy for quite a while (the other three kids have, too). So, as a surprise, for his graduation gift, we got him a puppy. Of course, the little puppy will be for all of us to enjoy.

After school we took the kids out in the backyard and one of them spotted the little fur ball, then the others noticed him. They were all so happy to have this new little puppy for a pet!









Pets can make children happy. Things can make children happy. In fact, pets and material things can make adults happy, too! But pets and material possessions can not bring joy to our lives. True joy comes from inside us because of our relationship with Jesus.

I really like these quotes about happiness versus joy. I found them in a book, but can not remember which one, or I would give the lady credit for it! But, her thoughts about joy are great:

Happiness or Joy?
Happiness is feeling good because of what happens to you.
Joy is a delight coming from within you.
1. Happiness is external. Joy is internal.
2. Happiness is based on chance. Joy is based on choice.
3. Happiness is based on circumstances. Joy is based on Christ.

The happiness that a new pet or a new possession brings will go away. It will not last. It is something that will have a beginning and an end. But, our relationship with Jesus never has to end. We can choose to turn our lives over to Him and become Christians. We can have the true joy that is internal, the true joy that is based upon the choice we make to become a Christian, and the true joy that is based upon Jesus, our Savior.

So, for this Gratituesday (visit HeavenlyHomemakers.com to read more about Gratituesday at the link), I am grateful for the happiness the new little puppy has brought to my children, but I am especially grateful for the joy that Christians can know, which is based upon knowing Jesus as Lord and Savior.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

THE END OF THE SCHOOL YEAR

I cried to the LORD with my voice,
And He heard me from His holy hill.
I lay down and slept;
I awoke, for the LORD sustained me.
Psalm 3:4-5

I'm tired. You may be tired, too. The end of the school year is a very busy time for students, parents, teachers and many others. At these times, it's easy to get too busy for God. Obligations, schedules, and deadlines bombard us and strive to become first in our life - ahead of everything else. And they will become first, if we allow them to.

Most of my tiredness comes from self-imposed obligations of things I commit to - things I enjoy doing, such as decorating for high school graduation (which I just got home from!) and feeding the teachers at the elementary and secondary school (breakfast in the morning). Someone else could decorate. The teacher's wouldn't have to be treated (it's a late Teacher's Appreciation celebration hosted by the PTO). I choose to do these things and the consequence is tiredness right now.

And this blog....another self-imposed "obligation". But you know what? This blog makes me search for scriptures that have to do with what I want to say. It gets me more into God's Word, even if for just a short little post. It also may encourage someone else, which is my goal. So, tired or not, I always look forward to sitting here and writing. It gets my mind off of my to-do list and focused on God and a scripture or group of scriptures, even if for just a little while.

The verse above is especially meaningful tonight because, just as it says, later I will be able to rest and in the morning I will wake up and the Lord will have sustained me, yet again!

Good night......ooops, I mean, off to the kitchen!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

The Good Shepherd

Last night when my daughter and I arrived home after cleaning up after a banquet, we heard the cry of little goats. It had been raining a lot, so we mentioned the crying to my husband.


He went out in the field and found seven little babies seperated from their mommas and surrounded by water. Because we recently lost six babies and a momma due to flooding, he wasn't going to leave them there and let them try to find their way out. They were wet and tired and probably hungry. Unfortunately, some of the first-time mommas don't take care of their babies as good as they should and they weren't trying to help them. So, my husband brought all seven babies to our garage!


The little babies were towel dried and blow dried, then sent back to their mommas. Thankfully, all seven of them were alive and well this morning!


A good shepherd takes care of his sheep....or in my husband's case...goats!! My husband will go out in the rain and mud to help his goats. I'm certain he wouldn't lay down his life for his goats, though.

We have a good shepherd - JESUS!! And as His children, we are His sheep. And our good shepherd did lay down His life for us!

"I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep." John 10:11

By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. 1 John 3:16a

Thank you, God, for the gift of Your Son, Jesus, who is our Good Sheperd and who was willing to lay down His life for us.
In Jesus' Name,
Amen

Friday, May 15, 2009

Being Honest With Your Children

Are you honest with your children? I've always made a concentrated effort to not lie (even about surprises and such) to my children. I may have had to say, "I can't answer that", or "I don't want to answer that", or even "Don't ask me that." But sometimes it's hard to be honest and truthful, isn't it? We want our children to be good - at everything!! So, we don't really want to tell them, but we really need to.

For example, today my daughter and a friend were practicing the National Anthem for a banquet that will be held tonight. They were performing in front of the middle school students, as well as their advisor, and a few others. They were singing acapella and my daughter was singing alto, while the friend was singing the lead part. There were times it sounded really good, but there were times where...well, to be honest, it was bad! Really bad! Our anthem is a difficult song to sing anyway, but my daughter has only practiced the alto part a few times, and it's just really hard to get. Plus, she is usually singing alto at worship - in a group - and able to follow with others. She was able to be on the right part sometimes, but most of the time it sounded really off.

Immediately after the performance, the advisor came over to me. Before he could say a word I said, "That won't work!" I think he was relieved that I felt the same way! He suggested to me they sing in unison. I left for a little while, and when I came back the two girls asked me what I thought about the earlier performance. I was honest with them and told them that the alto part just was not working. I explained to them that it's hard to get that part anyway (I know because I tried to do it myself when I left and I couldn't get it either!) and that it would sound great for them to sing in unison. They said, "That's just what Mr. W (the advisor)said!". So, they practiced and it sounded much better and on tune. Hopefully it will be at the banquet tonight!

Last week I had to be honest with my daughter about a solo song for this same banquet. She has a good voice - don't get me wrong - but there are some songs that just will not work for her. She's got a deep voice and not many songs are written for girls with deep voices! It was hard to tell her, and I did it kindly, but of course, she was disappointed. She has been able to sing at a few other events throughout the school year, but these two newer songs she was trying to sing would not work for this event.

As a parent, sometimes we have to have the courage to tell our children the truth about their talents and abilities. We have to be honest with them and tell them if they need to improve on something or that maybe something "isn't their thing". I'm all for building my children up and encouraging them (and I do), but too many times children are told how great they are and then they are disappointed later in life when they don't do as good as they assumed they would. They have kind of a false impression of themselves because they've been "puffed up" by their parents and many times by grandparents.

On the positive side, though, my daughter is going to be doing part of her FFA speech tonight. Today as she did her speech during the practice, she did a great job. And, I was able to tell her so. I expect that she will tonight, as well.

Throughout their lives our children will experience success and failures. They'll have many opportunities to try new and exciting things. Some will work out and some will not. We have to be willing to help teach our children to learn to fail - because some time they're going to.

Update: 11:30 P.M. and after the FFA Banquet - The unison anthem and the speech went great. And, I've already told her, "Great job, Lauren!"



Thursday, May 14, 2009

Wisdom

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.
--Reinhold Niebuhr
I found this prayer in a set of stationery many years ago and cut it out. It was taped where I could see it every day. I don't have that little paper any more, but it continues to be something that I think of from time to time. Until yesterday, as I was looking for the origin of the prayer, I had no idea that it is really much longer than what I have listed above.

The key to this prayer, in my opinion, is found in the last part - "wisdom". It takes wisdom to know what we should just accept or what we should have the courage to try and change. Where does wisdom come from? Some of us may be wise - we were knitted together in that way. Others of us may not be so wise. Some wisdom comes from learning through academics or learning a specific trade. But the kind of wisdom we should desire can be found through reading God's Word. We should desire this type of wisdom, which comes from heaven.

But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. James 3:17

It starts with fear - but not a scared fear. A Christian's fear is one that realizes that God is in control of the entire universe, and we should worship Him in reverence, and in awe, and in total submission. For those who have not yet become a child of God this fear is the fear of the judgment of God and eternal death, which is eternal separation from God (Luke 12:5; Hebrews 10:31)
.
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding. To him belongs eternal praise. Psalm 111:10

If we find we are lacking in the kind of heavenly wisdom we desire to have, God encourages us with these verses: "If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him," James 1:5. But, this promise has a string attached to it, as we can see in verse 6: "But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind."


I don't know about you, but I need to be asking God for wisdom every day!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Oh, Be Careful Little Feet Where You Go!



There are many paths to choose from in life. But, in every path we choose, and with every step we take, it is before the face of God ("Coram Deo").

Where are you going? Are you on the path that leads to Heaven? Jesus taught His disciples about how to pray in Matthew 6. Think about the part of that prayer that says, "And lead us not into temptation." Do we pray for God's help and guidance - for Him to lead us away from temptation, but then us walk ourselves right into it?

We may be tempted to sin by going to certain places, by being around certain people, by walking into something we shouldn't. God promises us, as Christians, that He will not allow us to be tempted beyond what we can handle, but do we take the escape route that God is going to provide for us?

1 Corinthians. 10:13, "No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it."

God is going to provide us a way of escape, but we must be willing to walk through it.

One of my favorite passages is Proverbs 3:5-6: "Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight." God will guide our paths, if we will let Him. Are you willing to follow and walk with God anywhere and everywhere that He leads? We must be willing to put our trust in Him and not in ourselves.

There are so many verses in the New Testament about how we should walk. Take the time to look them up and see for yourself.

Yes, God cares about where we go with our feet.

Before the face of God we walk with our feet.
Oh, Be Careful Little Feet Where You Go!
 
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