Search This Blog

Friday, July 31, 2009

Thank You

Today I would like to take the time to say "Thank You" to those of you who read "Shine Like Stars" and especially to all of you who have taken the time to comment about the posts for the past five months, whether on the blog itself, through Facebook messages, by email, and also face to face. I appreciate your comments so much and also appreciate you taking the time to read "Shine Like Stars".

I began writing this blog to serve God in a unique way, but also to give me something specific that would keep me more in His Word. My original goal was to post just a few times a week, but it quickly became something I wanted to do daily...not just for me, but for those who were reading it, as well. The writing was something I enjoyed, but even more than that, I enjoyed looking for spiritual application in everyday life in order to write the daily devotional thought. Sometimes that is easy to do...sometimes it's hard. But, either way, it helps me meditate more on His Word each day.

So, thank you, again for your encouragement and for reading "Shine Like Stars". It is my prayer that you will continue to be encouraged by the daily posts and that you and I will continue to grow in our Christian walk each day.

I thank my God every time I remember you. Philippians 1:3


May God bless you today and every day!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Spiritual Ingredient - Perseverance

...and to self-control, perseverance...(verse 6)
from the passage of 2 Peter 1:5-11


Perseverance, in an English dictionary, is defined as a steady persistence in adhering to a course of action, a belief, or a purpose. Some versions translate this verse as patience. If you click the text link above, the passage says Christians should be adding several qualities to their lives. Let's think about verse 6...adding perseverance as a spiritual ingredient.

The Greek word of perseverance/patience in this verse is defined as follows: "The characteristic of a man who is not swerved from his deliberate purpose and his loyalty to faith and piety by even the greatest trials and sufferings." This could be summed up in simple, every day language as “Keep on keeping on”. To "Keep on keeping on" as is inferred in this verse, God is telling us not to give up, even during trials and suffering.

James 1:2-4 says, "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." It’s hard enough some times for us to go through trials and this verse is telling us to consider it joy. Why? And how? How is it possible to be joyful when we're suffering?

To answer the "why" question: God wants us to rely on Him. He wants us to see that He can help us get through anything that comes into our life - no matter how terrible or painful it may be. He wants us to stick it out, to keep Him close, and to stay on course. And, as hard it is for us to comprehend, God uses our trials to help us grow stronger as Christians. The verse above says that perseverance must finish its work so that we may mature and complete. God is the potter. We are the clay. He is molding us into becoming more like Jesus.

In answer to the second question of "how" can we be joyful, we must look to the life of Jesus. No matter what we face in our life, it could never compare to what Jesus went through on the cross for each of us. He willingly gave His life by suffering on the cross. The blood He shed became the final sacrifice - a perfect sacrifice. Hebrews 9:26-28 says, "Then Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But now he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself. Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment,so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him." Even in the worst situations we face, we can find joy because of Christ and because of our opportunity to live in Heaven eternally because of that sacrifice.

Questions to ask yourself:
What trials and sufferings have you had in your life?
How do the trials and sufferings in your life compare to what Jesus encountered in His life?
What would have happened if Jesus had not persevered?
What if Jesus had "thrown in the towel" and quit when He first met opposition to His teachings?
What if Jesus had not done His Father's Will and gone to the cross?
Can you find joy, even in your trials and suffering?
Can you persevere knowing that God is working to make you more mature and complete?

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Spiritual Ingredient - Self Control

“add to your knowledge self-control”.
From the passage 2 Peter 1:5-11.

As we learn more about God and His Word, we will begin to see that some things in our lives are not right. We will learn to recognize the sin in our lives. Have you ever noticed that it is much easier to recognize the sin in someone else’s life than it is our own? We sometimes think to ourselves, "If you sin like I do, then you’re okay and I’m okay, BUT if you sin in a way that I don’t then "WATCH OUT" because you're wrong!"
So, let's think of self control as a spiritual "ingredient" we should have in our life. Self control is quite possibly the hardest ingredient for us to have because it can involve so many aspects of our life.

"Like a city whose walls are broken down is a man who lacks self-control." Proverbs 25:28

Self control involves the following: what we think, what we say, how we act, what we wear, what we eat, what we drink, how we drive, how we work, how we discipline and much, much more. In fact, pretty much EVERYTHING in our life!

Self control is a hard ingredient to find at times. But, God's Word tells us that this ingredient is a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22). As Christians, God's Spirit dwells within us (Acts 2:38; 1 Corinthians 6:19) and will help us develop self control, as well as the other fruits we need. I'll be honest and tell you the hardest things for me to control.
#1 - My mouth
#2 - My eating (which also, ironically, involves my mouth)
#3 - My attitude (which may involve my mouth)
#4 - Drinking (no alcohol - haven't ever had that stuff!) No, my "addiction" is Diet Cherry Coke with the REAL Cherry Syrup from Sonic. (also involves my mouth...I'm seeing a pattern here.).

Besides praying for self control, I have found that if I will meditate on this scripture, it helps me a lot: "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me," Philippians 4:13.

Ask yourself these questions:
1. Do you find it easy to overlook the sins in others as long as they sin in the same way you do?
2. How much self-control do you have? Remember that these spiritual ingredient should be increasing in measure. (2 Peter 5:8)
3. In what areas do you need self control in your life?
4. What helps you to have self control in your life?

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Spiritual Ingredient - Knowledge

“...and to your goodness, knowledge”.
From the text of 2 Peter 1:5-11.


What does this mean? Knowledge of what?

If you click the text link above, the passage says to "add" to your goodness, knowledge. So, think of knowledge as a spiritual ingredient we need in our lives. We can fill our minds with all kinds of things that will make us knowledgable. We can learn statitics and data and be able to compete in all sorts of trivia games and contests. We can spend thousands of dollars and years upon years learning more and more, but it's not the knowledge the Bible is talking about. Degrees are great. Statistics are intersting. Trivia games are fun. But, the most important knowledge we can ever have is the knowledge we can find in God's Word. In doing so, we learn about Him and about His Son and Our Savior, Jesus Christ! But, let's think about another type of knowledge. God wants us to read His Word to know about Him and about Jesus, but He also wants us to read His Word to gain in knowledge for ourselves.

Do you have old recipes that you’ve made for so long, you don’t have to even get out the cookbook or recipe card? That’s what God wants from us. He wants us to know the Bible so well that it is deeply imbedded into our brains and in our hearts. He wants us to know the Word - know the scriptures - know the "recipes". Of course, we will only get this knowledge by studying the recipe book - the Bible.

Questions to ask yourself:

1. How is your knowledge of God?
2. How is your knowledge of His Will for your life?
3. Do you search the scriptures to learn more about how God wants you to live?
4. Do you look to God's Word for how to handle situations that come up in life?
5. Do you look to God's Word to find the Way, the Truth and the Life, that only comes through Jesus? Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." John 14:6
6. Can you tell others why you believe what you believe?
7. Is your spiritual ingredient of knowledge increasing in measure? 2 Peter 1:8

"This is good, and pleases God our Savior, 4who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. 1 Timothy 2:3-4

Monday, July 27, 2009

My Kitchen Timer

I am grateful for my kitchen timer! Why, you ask? Well, it's more than just a tool that helps my smoke alarm from going off quite so often. It's a tool for parenting!

As a parent, you know that getting children to do chores is sometimes a chore! While for the most part all four of my kiddos are willing to help out around the house, there are times that it isn't going so good. Usually those times are when the three boys are cleaning up their room. They all share a room and, even though it's a big room, it just gets messier with three in there together. Of course, the older two blame it on the youngest (which, indeed, is usually the case!).

A few weeks ago we were having a "cleaning party" as I like to refer to it, and the boys were squabling about "this and that" while cleaning up their room. After trying to let it go and let them work it out, I thought about my kitchen timer. I told them I was setting the timer and that their room had to be straight by the time the buzzer rang. I asked them how much time they thought they needed. Zachary said, "twenty minutes". Having walked back to their room and having seen the "damage", I didn't think twenty was enough, so secretly gave them 30.

The whole tone of the "cleaning party" changed! You would have thought I had done the greatest thing by putting them on a dealine! Isn't that amazing....and even a little shocking??! They finished the job a few minites before the timer rang!

A few days ago we were getting ready for a real birthday party at our house, so of course we needed another "cleaning party". The boys were sorting/folding laundry and Lauren and I were cleaning up the kitchen and working on food for the party. All of a sudden, Jacob said, "Mom, can you set the kitchen timer? It makes it more fun!"

So you see, I am grateful for my kitchen timer! It has made "cleaning parties" so much more fun...and productive! (Note: Maybe I should set the timer for myself. Maybe it would make some of the things I clean up/work on/organize more fun!)

Visit Laura at Heavenly Homemakers for more Gratituesday.

Spiritual Ingredient - Goodness

“...add to your faith goodness..."
from the text of
2 Peter 1:5-11

What does goodness mean to you? Simply put, it's being good, isn’t it? Other versions of this verse say moral excellence or virtue, all of which mean "the quality of doing what is right and avoiding what is wrong". God wants us to be exemplary citizens, both of the Kingdom of God and of the society in which we live.

I've mentioned before that a motto we use in our home is: DO THE RIGHT THING 'CAUSE IT’S THE RIGHT THING TO DO! It sounds simple and easy, but we all know that doing the right thing isn't always easy. Sometimes the easier thing would be NOT doing the right thing. That's why it's so important for us to understand the "why" behind doing good.

I'll give you an example: My husband (as I've also mentioned) works for a Children's Home (Tipton Home). During the past two weeks he's been on vacation, but has had several "issues" to deal with involving the children there - stemming from minor problems to major problems. One of these problems involved a stolen item - an MP3 player of one of the teenagers. After a while the MP3 player was found or turned in by the "offender" and the people involved were all okay, because the item was found. But, my husband pointed out that there was still a problem because a "crime" had been committed. Just because the item was recovered, it didn't make the incident right. But, obviously, most of the children there haven't been taught the "whys" of doing things right. That's why that Home is there...to help teach them what is right and wrong and to teach them WHY it is wrong.

So, why is it important to have goodness, or virtue, or moral excellence? Because we are to be imitators of Jesus, and because Christians are children of God. Gossiping, lying, cheating on income tax, stealing from the workplace (supplies, time, money, etc.), breaking the law by speeding, not wearing seat belts (in many states, if not all), littering, illegally copying music or downloading it from the computer - - you name it - - those types of things are things children of God and imitators of Jesus should not desire to be involved in. In fact, we should strive to avoid those things.

As Christians, we should be the most well thought of people in our communities or our circle of personal relationships. People should be able to tell if we are a Christian by way act, by the way we speak, by the way we respond to personal trials and conflicts. Yes, you and I will fall short. But, in our falling short, that is another way we can respond with a Christian attitude. Example: "You know, I messed up. I let you down and didn't set a good example for you. Would you please forgive me?" What a great way to show Jesus living in us by confessing to others if we do wrong! Of course, we must also confess these sins to God and ask for His forgiveness. That is showing "goodness", but because of what God has done for us - it's HIS goodness being shown through us!

So, here are some questions for you and I to ask ourselves:
1. What will it take for me to have goodness/moral excellence?
2. What character flaws have I been excusing?
3. If "goodness" is an ingredient, how much do I have?
4. Am I increasing the measure of the spiritual ingredient of goodness as 2 Peter 1:8 says to do?

"But the fruit of the Spirit is...goodness." Galatians 5:22

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Wide is the Gate

Do you see this gate? This is the new gate my husband, Joe, had made for the west side of our house. (He hired the metal work out, but he did the wooden fence part)Anyway, it's HUGE! We both wanted a gate on that side of the fence because there was only one gate before and it was on the other side of the house. But, I'll tell you, when I walked out and saw this thing, I was shocked! It looked like it belonged out in a cattle corral, not at the side of a house! (Of course, we have goats behind the fence south of the house, but still!)It's hard to see in this picture, but the metal thing goes waaaaayyyyy up high across the whole WIDE gate!

Well, after a few hours when the shock wore off and I felt kinda bad about saying the gate looked strange for a house, I decided it was okay. I sure didn't want to have to pay any more to have the big gate made smaller since we'd just paid to have it put in. Plus, being the decorator I am, my mind began to spin!! "Well, I'll just decorate it", I said to my husband. He said, "That's exactly what the kids said. We can decorate it at Christmas time!" Of course, I won't wait until Christmas. In fact, I already tried to hand a big metal star up there, but just used fishing wire, so it fell right down. But, I'll get one up there soon!

I took a picture of the WIDE GATE the other night during Zachary's birthday party. Joe asked me what I was doing. I said, "Taking a picture of that gate!" I didn't know why I was doing it at the time, just thought it would be neat. Then later, I thought about this scripture: "Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it." Matthew 7:13 Hey! "That gate would make a great blog post", I thought!

Out of the blue today Joe said, "You know that picture you took of the gate?" I said, "Yes." He said, "That would make a good post for your blog using "wide is the gate that leads to destruction,"! I replied, "That's what I was thinking, too!"

Of course, we surely don't want any destruction coming from our wide gate! But, the reason Joe had that gate made wide was so that he could get through there easily with yard equipment, a vehicle if needed, and other large loads. But, of course, that is the "easy" way. If it was a small, narrow gate, it would be much more difficult. "But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it," Matthw 7:14

The road to Heaven is, indeed, through a small gate and a narrow road, but that's the road that leads to eternal life. And, that's the path we should all be on (or searching for) and wanting to take!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Back to School?? Already??

I'm getting a little sad that it's almost time for school to start. No offense to any of you who are teachers, (my mom's a retired teacher) but I don't like school any more than my four kids do! I really only like the extra-curricular things of it, like sports, 4-H, FFA, livestock shows, academic teams, Christmas parties, and such.

A lot of parents like getting back into the routine of school, and I do understand why they do. I also understand that for those who have to find childcare during the summer, it is much, much easier for them when school starts. But I just don't like the schedule-keeping and the super-fast pace during the year....and I don't care for the homework, either!

But, I know I shouldn't complain, and I need to have a good attitude for my kids. (That's why I'm telling you instead of them - ha ha!) Actually they've told me not to even mention the word "school" to them! I guess one of them read our weekly town paper were a little "offended" that the school supply list was in there and told the others about it! And so then today Tyler started crying because he doesn't want to go to first grade because he thinks his new teacher is going to be "mean". (That part makes me happy because I know if other kids think a teacher is "mean" then she or he is strict! And that's what I want!)

Our family always feels this way at this time of year and by the end of August, when we're back into the regular school routine, we're just fine. I know it will be that way this year, as well.

Until then I'll just work on my attitude about it and remember to "Shine Like Stars" ...without complaining....

"Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe." Philippians 2:14-15

A Pot of Hot Water

This little frog was in our garage last night. My husband got it and showed the kids, then we released it in the back yard. I don't want them hoping into my house, but the little ones are really cute, aren't they?

Do you know the story about the man who put a frog into a pot of hot water? When the frog felt the hot water, he immediately jumped out! But when the man put the frog in a pot of cold water and gradually turned up the heat, the frog didn't try to jump out. Instead, he died. Little by little the frog got used to his surroundings, until it eventually cost him his life.

I wonder if we do this same thing in life sometimes? Think about the world around us...how it has changed. Many years ago some of the things that are now seen on TV and in movies would never have been shown. Many years ago, people would never have dressed immodestly, but now immodesty is considered the "norm" by many. Many years ago, song lyrics wouldn't have had drugs and alcohol in their lyrics, and they wouldn't have talked about marital infidelity or had sexual tones. Yes, the "temperature" of life around us has definitely changed. And what have we, as Christians, done about those changes?

Maybe we are like the little frog. We've allowed the world around us to change and gotten content in our surroundings, instead of "jumping" out of the very hot water. The world has gradually changed and we haven't said "no!".

Having the strength and courage to say no definitely comes from God. It's not something we can do totally on our own, but God is willing to help us. In fact, He needs us to speak up and say "no"! If we don't, who will?

"These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world."
John 16:33

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Happy Birthday, Zachary!

Thirteen years ago today we had our second child. Our first boy, Zachary Joe was born at 4:14 A.M. on July 23, 1996. He was my biggest baby at 8 lbs. 12 oz. This collage is from his 1st birthday party. The pictures below are for his party tonight. It's a "cheeseburger" cake and "French fries" that are iced sugar cookies. I'm excited because he hasn't seen it, yet, and won't until his party (hopefully!).

I was induced , so we got to the hospital on the 22nd, the evening before Zachary's birth. About six hours after he was born, my sister was holding Zachary, and she noticed he was breathing heavily and his chest was sinking in. We mentioned it to the nurse and she immediately became alarmed.

It turned out that Zachary had Group B Strep. He was put in the nursery ICU and was given antibiotics twice a day through an IV in the top of his head. The first 24 hours were critical and of course it was very scary, but after that, we knew everything would be okay. He stayed in the ICU for several days, but thankfully I could go in to feed and rock him. After several days they were able to move the IV down to his foot, which was much better. He also moved to a regular room for the rest of the time, which totaled a week. I was able to keep my post-partum room the whole time, even though I had been released. Of course, that week was difficult because we were so ready to take him home, but it was also hard because I really missed our daughter, Lauren. She was only 22 months old and I had never been away from her like that. She and Joe would come visit us every day and the last night we let her stay all night there with us. We ordered pizza and it was delivered to the hospital room. Lauren liked that and also thought it was neat taking a bath in the very deep bathtub! (It was huge and deep because of it being a post-partum room.)

After a whole week, we finally took our new baby boy home! It was so much fun having a boy! I didn't grow up with brothers so this was a whole new experience for me. Out of all four of our children, Zachary was the best baby. (Not that the others were bad...he was just the best!) He was calm and content and hardly ever cried. He loved to laugh and still does.

Lauren was so proud of her new baby brother. She called him, "Acky Doe". The afternoon we brought him home, I think she pulled out every one of her toys for him. Of course, he was not impressed!

Zachary is a worker now and has been since he was little. He gets that from his daddy. I like to work, but mine is more inside work and not "hard labor" like they do! He's also very handy to have around when I'm driving! If I'm driving in Oklahoma City...or anywhere else....Zachary tells me where to go if I'm not sure. He KNOWS where to go (sometimes that does get a little annoying (haha). This past weekend we were in Arlington (Dallas area) and he was telling Joe where to go - in that crazy traffic! I tell him he's going to make a good husband and he always replies, "Thank you!". Of course, I want the other two younger boys to be good husbands, too.


Mostly we're proud of Zachary because of his Christian example. As a young Christian, he is showing characteristics of a being a leader in the church by writing and doing short devotionals from time to time, leading prayers, helping serve communion, and leading singing. Right now he plans on becoming a youth minister when he grows up. His uncle Ken gives him a great example in that area (thanks, Ken!).

I look forward to watching Zachary continue to grow - physically, mentally, and spiritually - and thank God for blessing us with a great oldest son! Children are a gift from God.

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. Psalm 139:13-14

P.S. I can't believe we have two teenagers in the house now!!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

American Idol

American Idol is a hugely popular show in America. There are similar shows in other countries, as well. Millions of people watch the show each season rooting for their favorite talent. But, my post isn't about American Idol, the TV show. It couldn't be, because I've never seen it! I wouldn't have a clue what to write! No, my post is really about "idols" in America, as well as other countries all over the world.

Idolatry, the worshipping of idols, has been around for thousands of years. Throughout the Old Testament, we read of the people worshipping golden images, the false gods, Baal and Molech, and about the worship of Asherah, using a carved or molten Asherah pole.

The first and second commandments of the "Ten Commandments" speak about idolatry:

And God spoke all these words: "I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand {generations} of those who love me and keep my commandments." Exodus 20:1-6
Of course, we know that the Ten Commandments were part of the Old Covenant with Israel verses the New Covenant with Christians, but we can still learn from them about how God wants us to live. Plus,
all but one (Sabbath - Colossians 2:16-17) of those principals of the Ten Commandments are repeated in the New Testament. "Dear children, keep yourselves from idols." 1 John 5:21

Nowadays, most people probably do not have carved or golden images around their houses that are worshipped, but idolatry is still alive and well, even today. It may even be present in your life...and in mine. Placing things/people before God at times, makes those things idols in our lives.

How can we tell what might be an idol in our life? By looking at what we allow to take us away from our relationship with God. Ask yourself these questions: What takes me away from Him? What takes me away from worshipping Him? Whatever is in that place is an idol. It is becoming what you worship.

Some thoughts about idolatry:
1. You can tell what you worship by looking at how you spend your time.
2. You can tell what you worship by how you use your money.
3. You can tell what you worship by analyzing what you think about the most.
4. You can tell what you worship by the looking at the entertainment in which you choose to spend your time and money.
5. You can tell what you worship by looking at how you use your talents.

Idols today come in many shapes and sizes. Quite possibly the biggest idol today is the idol of self. Making ourselves an idol takes our focus and our worship away from God and away from Jesus. The one who idolizes self may say these things:

1. I will do what I want to do...no matter what!
2. I'll do it my way and will do what I have to do to get my way!
3. I am the only one that matters.
4. It feels good to me, so it's okay.
5. It seems right to me, so it must be right.
6. If it makes me happy, it's okay.

But, this type of thinking is far from what God's Word teaches. Mark 8:34 says, "Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.""

Getting rid of idols in our life may be hard. It will only happen if we take a long, hard look at ourselves and be honest with what we see. We may not like what we see after looking deep inside. We may see too much of self. We may see problems with other things being put before God. We may see idols. But, just as some of the idols of the Bible were destroyed, the idols in our life can be destroyed, as well. With the help of God, we can get rid of them!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Right Ingredients

Several years ago, my son wanted to make some cookies for the fair. He wanted to choose the recipe all by himself. Instead of looking through cookbooks, he decided to search on the internet for the perfect recipe. Eventually, he found one he liked and printed it out to show me. As I scanned the recipe ingredients, making sure we had all of them, I noticed that we didn't have one of the key ingredients. But, it wasn't something simple, such as flour, sugar, or eggs that we could quickly run to the store and purchase. No, not at all! His missing ingredient...an ingredient he had failed to even notice...was crushed crickets!! Yuck! Can you imagine that? The recipe he had choosen was called "Chocolate Chirpie Chip Cookies"! He just liked the name and didn't realize that the "chirpie" part was referring to crushed crickets. "Oops! Sorry Zachary, but we are fresh out of crushed crickets". (Thankfully!) And mom wasn't willing to go get that ingredient, either! Of course, Zachary was just as shocked as I was and quickly went off to search for another recipe.

Having the right ingredients for a recipe is essential. Without a key ingredient, a recipe can flop. Recently I posted about "recipes" and how God gives us many "Recipes for Life" throughout the Bible. It's chock-full of good recipes for our spiritual lives! One of those God-inspired recipes is from 2 Peter 1:3-10 .

"His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins. "

In verse 3, Peter tells us that God will supply us with the ingredients we need for life and godliness, "His (God’s) divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness." The small print on God's "recipe" is the part that says, "through our knowledge of Him". We have to come to know God. And, we come to know Him through the time we spend with Him in prayer, in the reading of His Word, and through our times of worship and praise to Him. Our knowledges of Him begins with our faith in Him, as verse 5 points out.

The ingredients God will supply to each of us, as Christians, are listed in the passage above. We begin with our faith, then add ingredients to that faith. (Imagine for a moment that you have a bowl of faith: Some have a small bowl, some have a medium-sized bowl; others may have a big bowl.) Our bowls of faith are all different sizes, depending on our spiritual maturity.

Now let's add the next ingredients in God's recipe to our bowl of faith:
1. GOODNESS - Verse 5: "For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness"

2. KNOWLEDGE - Verse 5: "and to goodness, knowledge"

3. SELF-CONTROL - Verse 6: "and to knowledge, self-control"

4. PERSEVERANCE - Verse 6: "and to self-control, perseverance"

5. GODLINESS - Verse 6: "and to perseverance, godliness"

6. BROTHERLY KINDNESS - Verse 7: "and to godliness, brotherly kindness"

7. LOVE - Verse 7: "and to brotherly kindness, love."

If you were to rate yourself on each of these ingredients, how much of each would you have? A small amount or a large amount?

God's recipe includes instruction about how much of each of these ingredients we should have. (Remember, His recipes are without error and they are perfect!) Verses 8-9 tell us how much we should have. It doesn't matter what amount of each ingredient we have, as long as we continue increasing each of them. In other words, we should continue to grow each of these "ingredients" as we walk our Christian walk. And these verses also tell us why this is important: To be effective and productive Christians. What if we fail to add one of these important ingredients or decide to leave one of them out? God's recipe tells us about that, as well. If we fail to add one of them, we have forgotten about Jesus and how He gave His life to cleanse us from our sins.

This recipe is sure to be a success when we pay special attention to all of the ingredients! God again tells us so with this promise in verses 10-11 following the above passage: "Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fall, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ."

I am grateful for this "Recipe for Life" God gave us and for His recipes that never fail. Visit Heavenly Homemakers for more Gratituesday.

Also, please visit Life's a Bowl of Cherries, a family recipe blog for some great recipes from my family to yours!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

"Sing and Make Melody in Your Heart"

My daughter has been in the church youth group for a few years now, so most of the time she doesn't sit with the rest of us during worship, but sits with the group. However, she has sat with us during the summer some because many of the youth have been gone for camps and vacations. It's been nice to have her sitting by us to hear her sing. Before she would sing always sing soprano, but now she has also learned to sing the alto part. It's neat hearing her sing the different part and learning how to do so! I sing alto, so maybe she did learn some of that from me...not that she would admit it :).

Today during worship, our oldest son Zachary was singing and I could hear him trying to sing tenor. His dad sings tenor, but was not with us today. (Note #1: My husband works for Tipton Home and part of his job includes speaking about the Home to churches who send money to support the Tipton Home. He also is asked to preach in those congregations many times and also preaches when needed at nearby congregations.) Anyway, Zachary was singing tenor without his dad being there for him to follow! It was so neat hearing his voice and realizing that he had learned that part and was learning to read the music. (Note #2: Our small school has not had much of a music department in many years, except for a small amount in elementary school. This coming year, they've hired someone that is helping in that area for the middle school/high school - yippee!)

Zachary will be a seventh grader and be in the youth group this coming school year. I will miss having him sitting by us all of the time (of course, maybe he still will!). Of course, the youth group sits just across the aisle from us, so I could request that our two oldest sit on the end closest, so we can hear them! (Note #3: Of course, then they might be getting someone else's "place" on the "pew"....and you know what kind of trouble that can cause!! (just kidding!) Do you have "assigned" pews????? We ALWAYS sit in the same place, do you?????)

Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord...
Ephesians 5:19

I will praise the LORD all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.
Psalm 146:2

A Cherokee Legend

I received this story from my friend, Karen, a few months ago. I would like to share it with you.

Cherokee Legend

Do you know the legend of the Cherokee Indian youth's rite of Passage? His father takes him into the forest, blindfolds him and leaves him alone. He is required to sit on a stump the whole night and not remove the blindfold until the rays of the morning sun shine through it. He cannot cry out for help to anyone. Once he survives the night, he is a MAN. He cannot tell the other boys of this experience, because each lad must come into manhood on his own. The boy is naturally terrified. He can hear all kinds of noises. Wild beasts must surely be all around him. Maybe even some human might do him harm. The wind blew the grass and earth, and shook his stump,but he sat stoically, never removing the blindfold. It would be the only way he could become a man! Finally, after a horrific night the sun appeared and he removed his blindfold. It was then that he discovered his father sitting on the stump next to him. He had been at watch the entire night, protecting his son from harm.

We, too, are never alone. Even when we don't know it, God is watching over us, sitting on the stump beside us. When trouble comes, all we have to do is reach out to Him.

Moral of the story: Just because you can't see God, doesn't mean He is not there.

"For we walk by faith, not by sight."
2 Corinthians 5:7

Friday, July 17, 2009

The Chronicles of Biscuit - "That's the Way God Made Me!"

We've been on vacation for a few days. Last night at the hotel we were all trying to go to sleep and Biscuit kept talking. I had asked him to stop, but he didn't. I said, "Tyler (Biscuit) why do you keep talking when I asked you to stop?" Biscuit replied, "That's the way God made me. You can't change what God made." Well! He does have a point! God did make him and God did make him very unique and part of that uniqueness includes his "spirit", which sometimes gets him in trouble.

I know why Biscuit said this to me. Any time he asks me a question about why he can do something, can't do something, or why he has to wear glasses, my response is "God made you that way." Even though that response backfired on me because of his response, it's still true - God did make him that way.

Even though there are things that I can't change about Biscuit, as the mom, I have the responsibility to discipline and instruct him and teach him how to have self-control. I did my job and Biscuit got quiet and was asleep within about five minutes.

Train up a child in the way he should go,
Even when he is old he will not depart from it.
Proverbs 22:6
Thank you, God, for children and their spirit!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Jesus Knows Your Name!

Sunday morning I taught the Pre-K and Kindergarten class about Zacchaeus. We went outside and sat in the shade to read the Bible story, then walked over to a big tree to talk about the story. (Luke 19:1-10) Zacchaeus wanted to see Jesus, but he was too short and couldn't see over the crowd. He quickly went and climbed up a tree to see Jesus. When Jesus came near, He looked up in the tree and said, "Zacchaeus, come down! I must go to your house today!"

How neat it is that Jesus knew Zacchaeus' name! Jesus didn't have to ask who was up in the tree...He knew! Jesus also knows your name. He knows my name. He knows about our trials and struggles. He knows about our hopes and dreams. He even knows how many hairs are on our head as we are as Matthew 10:30 tells us(and for me, since I'm constantly plucking out the gray, that number changes quite often!).

Tonight in our family devotional, we read the story of the woman at the well (John 4:10-12). Jesus also knew all about her. He knew she had had five husbands, and he knew that the man she was living with at that time was not a husband. This woman really didn't want Jesus to know all about her so she quickly changed the subject! But Jesus wasn't trying to condemn the woman. He wanted to save her. She didn't have to hide anything because Jesus could see everything about her....and He loved her anyway.

Isn't it comforting to know that Jesus knows about each of us? He knows because He cares. He cares because He loves us. And, He loves us enough that He gave His life for us.

I'm glad Jesus knows my name! Aren't you glad He knows yours, too?

Inspirations

Today my mom, daughter Lauren, and I went to Oklahoma City (OKC) for the day. For lunch we ate at a tea room called "Inspirations". It's in Edmond, a suburb of OKC. My mom and I had eaten there before, but my daughter never had. In fact, she wasn't too sure she would like it....thinking it was just for more "mature" ladies and not for teenage girls. By the end she was very pleasantly surprised!

When eating at Inspirations (click here to view the website), guests are first served a heart-shaped scone with lemon curd in a tiny little cup and saucer...so cute!. (I should have taken a picture so you could see it.) The food is delicious and served beautifully with special attention to small details. Every entree is served with a fresh flower and a scripture.

This scripture was on my lunch plate today: "For the LORD does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart." 1 Samuel 16:7 What an "inspirational" and much-needed thought from God's Word!

If you're ever in Edmond, Oklahoma, take the time to stop by Inspirations! You will be inspired.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

COME AS YOU ARE...

I shouldn't even admit this to you, but I will. It's a treat for me to get up and stay in my pajamas to cook breakfast and to clean and straighten up the house. Sometimes I'll stay in them until noon! It's not being lazy because I actually seem to work more that way than when I get dressed. However, I don't let myself do it very often because it's probably not a good habit!

This morning I didn't go to bed until 4:15 a.m. That's a treat, too (that many don't understand!). I'm very much a night owl. Our daughter was leaving this morning at 5:00 a.m. for an FFA event, so she woke up at 4:00 a.m. She was quite surprised when I was still up and she MADE me go to bed. She didn't want me to make her usual smoothie for breakfast - she did it herself. She did, however, let me get some money out of my purse for her to take for the day, but then told me to go to bed!

Our three boys have been at my parents house for a few days, so this morning it was just me in the house - cleaning, straightening, vacuuming, laundry, dishes, dusting....lots and lots of everyday things that you, too, know all about (never ending things!). I cranked up the music and lit all of the candles...that makes it seem like a party! I guess it was a party - a PAJAMA party, now that I think about it!

Anyway, as I worked around the house this morning, I was thinking about how I was still in my pajamas (and it was almost noon) and my mind drifted back to about 17 years ago. Four friends and I planned a special breakfast for the older ladies at church. It was on a Saturday morning and we decorated the fellowship building with old quilts for tablecloths and pretty dishes and silverware. We each made several different breakfast dishes and had them all ready for the breakfast. Then, each of us had a list of ladies to go and pick up from their homes. The catch was that the ladies we were going to pick up had no idea we were coming! We went to their homes, rang their doorbells, and invited them to the "Come As You Are Breakfast". It was so much fun and so special for the ladies! They came in their gowns, robes, house shoes, and curlers. No make-up and of course, everyone had a "bed head" hairdo! It was just great! We really need to do it again.

There is one time when we will all "Come As You Are". However, we do have an invitation telling us about it, except we just don't know "when" the even will take place. When Jesus comes back, we will all "Come As You Are". There will be no time to prepare on that day. No, the time to prepare is now.

No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man..."Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come." Matthew 25:36-39, and verse 42

But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; The elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare. 2 Peter 3:8-10

Let's all be prepared to "Come As You Are" on that very special day!

Monday, July 13, 2009

My Front Porch

We have lived in a 39-year-old ranch-style house for nine years. Little by little we repair old things and add new things. For the next two weeks during his vacation, my husband is putting up a new privacy fence, board by board - 500 total to do - to replace the rotten one that's been up for no telling how long. A few weeks ago he replaced the rotten iron posts on the front porch with these wooden posts. They aren't fancy, but they look so much better than the rusty broken ones, plus I was a little concerned about the safety with the rotten ones.

I painted a special rocking chair (that I rocked my babies in) and put it on the front porch. Also, three days ago I purchased a small wire table and two chairs for half price to set out on the front porch. Yesterday Tyler (a.k.a. Biscuit) and I ate breakfast at that table. He thought that was really neat! The palm-looking plant I bought last year for $7.00. After we got home from Florida, Lauren and I wanted something that reminded us of palm trees. The two hanging baskets have real-looking, but fake Boston ferns in them (half-price at Hobby Lobby). I don't care that they are fake because they really do look real (hee hee!). I'm tired of spending money on real ones to have them destroyed by the extremely hot south winds (you can read more about this problem in this post).

But the best thing about the front porch? Tonight a friend stopped by unexpectedly. She needed to talk to Joe and I about something and wanted to visit alone. We sat out there and visited for at least an hour. With the rocking chair and two chairs, each of us had a seat. Three days ago there was only the rocking chair.

In our hurried lives, visiting on the front porch isn't as common as it used to be. I've heard stories from my parents and used to hear from my grandparents about the past...how people would stop by all of the time just to visit. In fact, I remember some of that when I was little. But now, it's rare. Unfortunately, we're just too busy.

I am grateful for "My Front Porch" and look forward to more times of visiting with friends who happen to stop by or by enjoying a meal at the little table with my husband or one of our children. Oh, and by the way, if you're ever in Tipton, stop by. I would love to visit with you on the front porch!

Visit Heavenly Homemakers for more Gratituesday!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

"I Love Life!"

This afternoon my dad's side of the family had a family reunion. There were about 130 in attendance. Out of eleven original children, there is only one living sibling left. My dad's aunt Elsie is 86 years old and lives in California. There were 15 people who flew from California for the reunion and 52 total from just her family alone.

I found out some interesting things about Elsie today. For her 80th birthday, her family went on a cruise. For her 85th birthday, they went to Disney World. She made a small speech today and said she plans to live to 100!! She also said something that was great to hear: She said, "I love life!" Isn't that great? Thankfully, Elsie is in good health so far and is able to do everything she wants to do.

Tonight our preacher talked about suicide. While he was talking, I thought about the people who I know that have lost friends and loved ones in this way. Sadly, the people who choose to take their life don't feel like they can say as Elsie did: "I love life!" For those who feel like ending their life, there is no hope - there is no help.

Sometimes mental illness and other diseases can cause people to feel this way, but other times it is a choice. Our attitude determines a lot in our life and it's important to realize that we do have a choice whether to be happy or not. If we allow selfishness to creep in, before too long everything becomes "ME" centered instead of Christ-centered. If we begin to look at everything inwardly instead of looking upward - towards Christ - our whole outlook on life will change.

Last year I got a little down about something that had happened in our lives. It wasn't a conscience decision, but I allowed Satan to control my thoughts and began to look inward instead of upward. I remember something my husband, Joe said to me during that time: Nothing we ever go through will ever compare to what Christ went through for us. That is so true! Any time you and I have a struggle it can never compare to the agonizing death Jesus went through on the cross - and He willingly did that for us...because He loved us so much.

If Jesus loves us that much, surely we can, like Elsie say, "I love life!" And we can love life enough to live for the One who saved us. I hope that you, too can say, "I love life!"

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. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Colossians 3:1-4

Our Family Vacation

One year ago today, July 12th, we were headed to Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. We had saved for over three years for the trip - saving all of our change for that whole time (and continue to do so). In fact, that three years worth of change paid for more than half of the entire trip! Also, any extra money the kids got for their birthdays, fair entries, and such, went towards the trip and they each had their own envelope with their extra spending money.
The night before we left was our niece's wedding. Joe took the kids home as soon as possible after the wedding so they could sleep and so he could, too. At 1:00 a.m., we loaded up the van and headed for Dallas to catch the plane. We arrived in Orlando around 10:00 a.m. on that Saturday morning.
So that we wouldn't have to eat out as much and save some money that way, we rented a house. Some people wouldn't think it was fun to cook during vacation, but I enjoyed it. We ate breakfast and dinner at the house which was nice because we were totally exhausted by the end of each day!
In between morning and evening worship on that first Sunday, it was nice to swim, take naps, and play games. The kids were especially excited about the game room with pool, air hockey, and foosball. It was also kind of neat having five televisions (we have one!!) plus four bedrooms and four bathrooms (we have 2 1/2 baths and 3 bedrooms!). It's always great visiting congregations while on vacations. Meeting new Christian brothers and sisters is a heart-warming feeling.
On the second Sunday after worship, we drove to Daytona Beach. The ocean is beautiful! Joe and the kids had only seen the Gulf of Mexico and it's just not as pretty, although still enjoyable to visit. I posted once about what we saw one the way to Daytona Beach. It was awesome and you can read about it here.I actually talked Joe into staying in Orlando for 10 days, instead of the original seven we had first planned. We did have to get someone to take care of our yard, pumpkin garden, and goats while we were gone. By the end of the trip, even Joe didn't want to come home! He had never gone on vacation for very long and he really enjoyed being able to get away almost totally. I say "almost" because he still had a little bit of work to do while we were there via phone calls and laptop and he got a few business phone calls he had to take care of, but it wasn't too bad. We all enjoyed getting away and really having the time to relax. That's hard to do sometimes, isn't it?
We enjoyed Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Animal Kingdom, and Hollywood Studios. Each of us enjoyed different parts of each park. The character meals were so much fun and definitely worth doing. Disney makes a special effort to make each guest feel welcome and pays such close attention to tiny details.
Have you ever read about the tunnels under Magic Kingdom? I hadn't until we got back home. It's really amazing! It truly is a happy place!
Even though when we went to WDW last summer, we expected it to be a once-in-a-lifetime trip, we are planning to go back again in December 2010. I actually felt guilty about saving up and going for a while, but I really believe family trips are worth it.
Why? First of all, like I mentioned above, it gives the opportunity to meet new Christians and worship with them. That is special.
Secondly, wherever the trip is taken, you are able to see more of the beautiful world God has created!
Thirdly, it is really easy to get caught up in everyday life and forget that there is a whole big world out there. It's easy to get wrapped up in jobs and activities and get so bogged down, that we forget what is really important. Vacation time is a time to relax, but also to refocus and think about what is really important.
Jesus often retreated from the crowds and his busy life to pray. He would go off alone and spend time with God. That is what is great about vacations! Of course they are fun and a great way to be together as a family; however, vacations can (should) also provide us an opportunity to reconnect with God and to refocus our minds, so that we can come back "home" ready to serve Him more fervently.

Also, if you are going or have gone to Disney World, you may agree that it's "The Happiest Place On Earth". At least our family thinks it ranks pretty high! But, nothing can ever compare to what Heaven will be like! That's where I want to go on a permanent vacation some day....for eternity, actually. Don't you?

Saturday, July 11, 2009

The Chronicles of Biscuit - "I Need Some Dollars"

A few weeks ago on a Sunday night during worship, Biscuit was writing with a pen and accidently hit one of his top front teeth with the pen. That tooth had been a little loose, but now it was even more so.

Biscuit was excited and immediately began trying to pull the tooth out. I told him to wait until after we got home because it started to bleed. I knew if he didn't quit, it would bleed a lot (his last tooth actually came out during worship, too - but it had been dangling for a while!). Biscuit said, "But I want it to come out. I need some dollars. All I have is pennies." Well, he did have a point! He had spent all of his money recently on a Texas Rangers' shirt and hat (not the hat he has on here....this picture of him with his "dollars" is from Kindergarten graduation).

Biscuit worked and worked that night and the next day trying to get that tooth out. I tried, too, but didn't want to pull too hard - afraid I might hurt him. It didn't come out and still hasn't!

In the meantime, Biscuit's brother was looking through his piggy bank and found a $20.00 bill wadded up. Biscuit was so excited! He took the money to Walmart and bought himself a discounted batting helmet. He had been wanting one for a while and it was a really good deal. He also bought a package of gum and some good-smelling body spray like his older brothers wear!

Yesterday, I asked Biscuit about his loose tooth. I said, "I thought you wanted that tooth to come out so you could get some money?" Biscuit said, "Oh, I have $8.00 left, so I'm okay." Now that his brother had found the $20.00 and he still had some of that left over, he was no longer in need. Loosing the tooth wasn't quite as important as it had seemed before. I'm sure it will be again....as soon as that $8.00 is spent!

Isn't this how we sometimes are in our relationship with God? We ask for something in prayer and God answers our prayer, and then many times we neglect that close relationship with Him until we need something again? We often treat God like a vending machine - putting our "money" in and wanting to push a button and choose what we get out...making our selections and wanting our requests granted, but only when we feel the need. But, God wants to hear from us all of the time - not just in those times of need.

"Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful." Colossians 4:2

Thank you, God, for the direct contact we can have with you through your Son and our Savior, Jesus!
In Jesus' Name,
Amen

Friday, July 10, 2009

The Rooster Crowed

There are many happy stories in the Bible, but there are also many sad ones. One of the saddest passages in the Bible is the account of (Simon)Peter denying Jesus. The story can be found in all four of the Gospels - Matthew 26:69-75, Mark 14:66-72, Luke 22:54-62 and John 18:15-18, 25-27. Jesus predicted that Peter would deny Him three times before the rooster crowed, but Peter was confident that he would never deny Christ.

Peter replied, "Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will." Matthew 26:33
But Peter declared, "Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you." Matthew 26:35


The Bible tells us that Satan had asked to sift Peter like wheat, in Luke 22:31. What does it mean to be sifted like wheat? When wheat is sifted, the grain is separated from the chaff. Satan asked to "sift" Peter like wheat to find out if he was all "chaff" - just pretending to be a follower of Christ. God allowed Satan that opportunity to sift Peter. Unfortunately, Peter did fail and some chaff did show up as he denied Christ those three times, but then Peter boldly became what Jesus knew he was capable of becoming.

I wonder...is God allowing Satan to sift me like wheat? If so, what is being left behind - chaff or grain? Am I denying Christ by how I live or by things I say or don't say? Is Jesus as confident in me as He was in Peter - that my faith will not fail?

“But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back…” (Luke 22:32)

Before the rooster crowed...what would have been my response?

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Thank You, Lauren & Jacob...and Joe!

Sorry - this isn't a devotional post, but just a special one to me. This post is a "Thank You" to Lauren and Jacob and also to my husband, Joe.

I like doing things spontaneously. It's fun and exciting! I spent yesterday morning cleaning and organizing. The kids and I had a late breakfast and also a late lunch since we've been sleeping later this summer. My plan was to get everything done around the house yesterday because today Tyler, Zachary and I were going to Oklahoma City (OKC) for Tyler's eye check-up.(See this post for more about Tyler's eye history). However, yesterday afternoon, all of a sudden, we decided to go on to OKC one day early for the appointment. We got our things together quickly and left around 4:00 p.m.

It was fun getting to stay the night with my husband's brother and our sister-in-law and their family in Edmond. We had a several places we needed/wanted to go in OKC so going up early gave us several extra hours last night and a few this morning. We didn't get home until almost 7:00 p.m. tonight....just in time for the monthly second-Wednesday singing worship services.

While we were gone, Lauren and Jacob did some cleaning and straightening. My husband helped out with some of it, too. Lauren has enjoyed helping around the house this summer and has learned to cook more than she ever had before. This morning she made Jacob pancakes for breakfast and quesadillas for lunch. Tonight they warmed up left-overs, but when we arrived home the kitchen was totally clean! Yea!! It's fun watching her learn to cook more and also to see her becoming interested in doing house work - without being asked to do it. (I wonder if this will carry on throughout her college years?????)

I told Lauren and Jacob that maybe I should leave more often! It was nice to come home and the house actually be cleaner and straighter when I got home than it was when I left. I think they enjoyed the time their daddy was at work today and they had the house to themselves! It's the impression I got when I told them we were on our way home and Lauren said, "Oh, already?" I forgive her for that....(ha!ha!). I understand them wanting to be at home with just the two of them. It's a lot quieter with only two people here - a lot quieter than when all six of us are home!

Thanks, Lauren, Jacob, and Joe. I appreciate you very much!

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

Note #1: Thankfully, Tyler's vision is great and his eye pressures are good! Thank you, God!

Note #2: I took the time to write a post yesterday before I left and it was scheduled to post last night. However, apparently the scheduling feature in Blogger isn't working again and it didn't post. It's the first time I've missed posting since late February! I was able to post it from the Apple store in the mall today, though - which is pretty neat!

Zachary and Tyler really liked the Apple store - playing with the laptop computers, iPhones, and other gadgets. When I called home around 12:30 p.m., I asked Lauren what time they woke up this morning. She said a phone call woke her up, but Jacob was already awake. They didn't answer it because it said, "Apple". I said, "Zachary, did you call our house from the Apple store this morning?". Zachary replied, "OOPS!"....then started laughing!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Will You Go?

Sometimes it's hard to know what direction God is wanting us to go. It would be a lot easier if He would speak out loud and give us commands and directions. Nowadays, maybe He could just send us a text message, post it on our Facebook wall, or send us a "tweet" on Twitter! But, that's not the way God works. He speaks to us through His word and by His Spirit living within us. Sometimes He speaks to us through open doors that give us new opportunities.

I recently heard a story about a man who is a minister. His family was quite content living where they were. The children were happy in their school, the mother was happy with her job, and the dad was serving God as a minister in the small town they had called home for several years. Out of the blue, the minister got a call about a congregation needing a new minister. Someone had given the elders his name and thought he might be interested in working with the church in this new town. The minister was surprised because he hadn't been looking for a new church, but, he recognized the fact that because of the way it happend, God might be guiding him in that direction. He took time to pray about the situation before he agreed to meet with the elders and preach for the church there. Through prayer, he decided to go, but still wasn't thinking of actually taking the new position. However, after preaching there, he was quickly offered the new job. The family moved and the man has been the minister for the new church for over a year now. Isn't it amazing how God works sometimes?

While we are commanded to be content, we should not become complacent or apathetic about doing what God wants us to do. Doing for God - serving God - may mean "GOING". He may need us to go somewhere to accomplish what He needs and wants us to do. It's up to us to let God use us to our fullest potential, according to HIS plan - not ours.

It's not always easy. It is sometimes very, very hard. But, it is always serving in faith knowing God is in total control.

"And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him."
Hebrews 11:6

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The Chronicles of Biscuit - HUGS THAT FILL YOU UP!

Every morning as our four children wake up, I give them a "good morning" hug. A few days ago only the three boys were up. I hugged them one at a time as each of them woke up, but couldn't remember if I had already hugged Jacob or not. I said, "Jacob, did I already hug you?" He said, "No." As I was hugging Jacob, Biscuit said, "Mom, come hug me." I said, "I already hugged you." Biscuit replied, "I need another one. That one didn't fill me up!". I thought that was really cute!

The love that parents show their children creates a very strong bond that will last forever. That love is shown by caring for their physical needs, their emotional needs, and their spiritual needs. Those daily hugs are only one part of what children need to be "filled up". The love God and Jesus have for us is an even stronger bond than that of a parent and child. It's more than we could ever imagine! Look at this passage and see what Paul told the Christians at the church in Ephesus:

"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 3:17b-19

I am grateful for hugs that "fill up" all four of my children. I am also grateful for the love God and Jesus have given me.

What are you grateful for today? For more on this Gratituesday, visit Heavenly Homemakers.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Get to Work!

Since the beginning of June, I have been putting off some things around here that needed to be done - in fact, many things!! Can you say the word "PROCRASTINATION"!! After decorating for events from mid-March until VBS at the end of May, I have had piles of decorations that were extremely unorganized. Yesterday afternoon I began the GIGANTIC (It seemed much bigger than it really was, I know.) task. This afternoon I continued the task, then tonight after evening worship services - finished the task! Yippee!!!

All of the decoration totes are now organized and in the proper place at a small rented shed in our small town. My husband gave the okay to rent the shed last summer to give me a place for the decoration totes and thankfully he helped me take them to the shed and get them in their proper place tonight. Originally, when we rented the shed I told him I might start renting them out to people for for parties and showers...kind of a on-the-side party rental business. I haven't done that, yet, (some procrastination here, too!)but maybe I'm close to doing that, since it's all in order now and easier to find.

Procrastination is something that gets in the way of doing things we need to do. It can keep us from doing what we should do, especially when it comes to the kingdom of God. God needs us - each of us! If you and I procrastinate on some things, it may only affect us or maybe our families, but if we procrastinate on spiritual matters it not only affects us, but also many others. But, most importantly, our procrastination in our spiritual lives affects our relationship with God.

How can you and I, as Christians, stop procrastinating in our spiritual lives?

1. To borrow Nike's slogan: "Just do it!"
Quit making excuses for whatever it is you are putting off and "just do it"!

2. Set small goals at first.
Maybe you are wanting to be a daily Bible reader, but you put it off day after day. Make up your mind to read for a small amount of time at first - even one minute is better than nothing! Maybe you could read five verses a day or one chapter a day. Many devotional books and daily Bibles are set up to give a daily reading schedule.

3. Don't give up.
Perhaps you have been procrastinating inviting someone to worship and you finally get the courage to "just do it!" and they say no. Don't give up! Be sure to ask them again before too long. Someday they might just say yes.

4. Pray.
Prayer is the most important thing you can do to overcome our desire to procrastinate. God will give you the strength you need to get through whatever it is you are needing or wanting to do. You just need to ask Him.

Okay, so I've stopped procrastinating on the decoration piles and taken care of that problem. Now, I suppose I need to get to the refrigerator tomorrow....it's needing some attention!

He who watches the wind will not sow and he who looks at the clouds will not reap.
Ecclesiastes 11:4

Saturday, July 4, 2009

He Loves Me!

Remember playing the little game with the flower petals, "He loves me, he loves me not"? I was thinking about that today. My friends and I used to enjoy playing that little game when we were young.

Isn't is great that we don't have to play games or wonder if God loves us?
How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! 1 John 3:1a

Thank you, God, for your love for us! Help us to love you more each day. Help us to show you that we love you by the way we live our lives.
In Jesus' Name,
Amen

Friday, July 3, 2009

True Freedom

As the United States celebrates freedom and independence tomorrow, July 4th, we think of those in other countries who may not have the same freedom we enjoy. Our hearts go out to those who suffer at the hands of terrorists and militias who bring harm in any way.

Although we are not all equally blessed as far as freedom in the world goes, we can all be equally blessed by true freedom. What is true freedom? The freedom in Christ when we become God's child. Jesus died so that we all could have that freedom.

"So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, "If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free." " John 8:31-32

"It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery." Galatians 5:1 (Note: The "yoke of slavery" is referring to the old law - the law Christ's death abolished.) "Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes." Romans 10:4)

"But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. " Romans 6:22-23

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Lemons and Dill Pickles?

If you're happy and you know it clap your hands!
If you're happy and you know it clap your hands!
If you're happy and you know it then your face will surely show it,
If you're happy and you know it clap your hands!

Are you clapping? Are you happy? Christians should be the happiest people on earth! That doesn't mean that we don't have pain and sorrow, but geniunely, we should be happy. Why? Because we belong to Christ!! We are children of God!

A friend taught a ladies Bible class several years ago and mentioned a phrase her mom used to say when she and her siblings were frowning or looking down: "You look like you were weaned on lemons!" Tonight in a conversation with my niece's husband, I mentioned this phrase to him. He said his dad, a minister, would say, "You look like you were weaned on dill pickles!". Either one gives a graphic description of our facial expressions.....neither of which is becoming to a Christian, is it?

But may the righteous be glad
and rejoice before God;
may they be happy and joyful.
Psalm 68:3
So, are you happy? Just like the children's song at the top says - if you are happy, then your face will surely show it! Let your face show it!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Planning Your Funeral


A sweet Christian lady passed away this week. Wilma was 85 and recently had a stroke. We've known Wilma for about 13 years. She worships at the congregation where my parents do in Altus.

I just heard something really neat about Wilma's funeral preparations. She wanted to be buried in a gown and robe (it's pink). And, she only wanted a single rose on top of the casket. These two simple requests are not fancy. They are not elaborate. Elaborate wouldn't be Wilma's style at all. Isn't that a sweet request?

It may sound strange to some of you, but I "plan" my funeral. I'll be thinking about it and realize, "Hey! You won't be there!". Oh, yeah! Now, when I say "plan", I mean like the songs, the color of the casket, NOT THE DAY!! (However, God's in control of that, and when he calls - I'll be there!) Sometimes I'll tell my husband I want a certain song at my funeral and he always says that I will out-live him so I need to tell someone else! Maybe someday I'll write it all out like I did my wedding plans years ago (ha! ha!).

Often I joke about having a "theme" at my funeral - like a party. I'm a party-planner at heart and I decorate for lots of things. I have a shed full of totes with luau decor, cowboy decor, safari decor, garden decor, rubber ducky, and more. LOTS OF DECORATION STUFF! I remember telling my ladies Bible class that I wanted a theme at my funeral. One lady jokingly said that if it was winter I could have a cowboy theme and if in the summer, it could be a luau! No. I'd better not! No theme.

You know? Wilma's request is so simple and sweet. She knew what all Christians know and realize. It doesn't matter what we wear at our funeral. It doesn't matter what color the casket is or what flowers are on top. It doesn't matter who attends our funeral. (Of course, it matters to the family and that is a very important part of the grieving process...going through those steps.) The only thing that really and truly matters is if your heart belongs to Jesus. It only matters if you are a child of God. It only matters where you will be spending eternity. In Heaven with God and Jesus - that's where I want to be. How about you?

"Thank You for Being Honest!"

Be sure to vote on July's new "Fun Poll". "What is your favorite fruit?"

I'm really embarrased to even tell you part of this story, but I'm going to because it makes a good point.

Last week our family went to Walmart in Altus and purchased several bags with many items. Two things our daughter needed was a pair of shorts and some flip flops, which we found and purchased. That evening, the kids carried all of the sacks into the kitchen and we left them there until the next morning.

While putting up the purchases the next morning, I couldn't find the two items we bought for our daughter. I looked in the van and couldn't find another sack. I sent one or two of the kids to look - no more sacks! I have left things before after checking out, so assumed that I had done the same thing this time. The customer service center writes down what is left and has a record of it.

The next day later we were back in Altus, so we stopped by to get the two items. The lady at the service desk said that it wasn't written down, but told me to go get the two items that I showed her were missing from my ticket. I thanked her for her help and assumed the person who checked out after me had a pair of shorts and flip flops and they didn't know why!

Four days later my husband was cleaning out the van. Because baseball games were winding down, a lot of the chairs, bags, and "stuff" could be taken out - plus we were getting ready to take two kids and their luggage to camp. Guess what he found? The Walmart sack with the two missing items!! How embarrassing! Now I was going to have to go back and return the items that I said we didn't get!

The next day, after dropping our oldest two off at church camp, we stopped by Walmart. Of course, then I had to explain to the door greeter what I was doing, then went to the customer service desk and explained to the ladies there. You know what's amazing, though? The door greeter and those two ladies were shocked that I brought the items back! They could not believe that I didn't just keep them and they all said, "Thank you for being honest."

I really don't feel like I should have been "thanked" for being honest. It seems strange to me to be thanked for doing the right thing. It would never occur to me not to take something like that back. For me, it would be wrong. But, I understand why they thanked me. Unfortunately, some people would have kept the merchandise. I would like to think that most people would have taken the merchandise back, but maybe I'm too optimistic.

Could I have kept the items? Yes. No one would have known, would they? No one from Walmart would have known. None of you would have known. But my children would have known and what would I be teaching them? And, oh, yes, God would know. The One who matters most would know! Of course, He knows everything. He knows my heart. He knows my thoughts. He knows my actions. Nothing can be hidden from God.


O LORD, you have searched me and you know me. Psalm 139:1
 
Pin It button on image hover