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Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Chronicles of Biscuit - "My Plan for My Day with Dad"

The Chronicles of Biscuit - Stories about our youngest son, Tyler, whose nickname is Biscuit.

Tomorrow night I will be at a ladies' retreat (which I look forward to blogging about!).  Our oldest three children are going out of town with their aunt to a football game.  That just leaves Biscuit and his daddy - and boy, oh boy, is he ever excited!  You may remember that several months ago Biscuit was wanting some alone time with dad.  Well, I'm sad to say that it never did happen.  It's hard to find the time to be one on one with each child, honestly.  I think it's fun when there are just pairs...getting to spend time with two different ones in different situations.  But one on one doesn't come around too often, so Biscuit is extremely excited.

When I picked up Biscuit after school today, he told me he had thought about his Friday evening plan with his dad.  Here is Biscuit's plan:

1.  Dad will pick me up after school.
2.  Dad will take me to Hop & Sack (our one and only convenience store) where I'll get my drink (our kids only get one soda a week - usually on Friday.)
3.  Dad and me will play Lincoln Logs.
4.  Dad will cook steak, mashed potatoes, and green beans.
5.  We will watch "The Chronicles of Narnia" (Biscuit and his dad's favorite movie).
6.  We will sleep on the couch bed.

Biscuit's got it all planned out.  Everything is just perfect in his mind.  Will his plans succeed?  Maybe so.  Probably so.  He may very well get everything he's planned (although I kind of think my husband was thinking "Sonic" instead of cooking steaks!)

But, you know what?  Even if something on Biscuit's plan doesn't go just exactly like he thinks it will, I know that my husband and our youngest child will be spending quality time together - all alone....without any of the rest of us home.  A rare treat, for sure.

I'm certain I've mentioned this before, but God our Heavenly Father longs for us to want to be with Him, just like Biscuit wants to be with his daddy.  God wants us to think of our plan - even write it out if we need to - but schedule time in our day just to be with him.  I pray that our alone time with God is often - even daily - and that it's not something that is a rare treat.

Our Heavenly Father wants us to look forward to our time spent with Him in study, in prayer, in silence, in worship, in our daily lives.

So, today, make a plan.  Make a plan for a day with your DAD - Your Heavenly Father.

Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. James 4:8

The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.  Psalm 145:18

Pumpkin Poke Cake

(Note: I haven't shared a recipe with you in a long time, so thought I would today.  It's a "say hello to fall" recipe. I posted it on our family recipe blog a few days ago.)

Last year, at the end of fall, I saw several jars of Pumpkin Spice Ice Cream Topping for sale....less than a dollar each.  I bought four jars thinking that this fall I would figure out some way to use them.  Here is a great recipe using the topping.  It's based on the Butterfinger Cake recipe I've posted before.  I was pleased with the flavor and the texture of the cake, but especially the flavor.  It's not too overwhelming, but it's rich - my favorite description of a dessert :).  The special addition to the whipped topping makes it extra-special.

PUMPKIN POKE CAKE

1 box yellow cake mix, prepared as directed in 9 x 13 inch cake pan
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 jar Pumpkin Spice Ice Cream Topping (mine was Smucker's brand)
1 - 8 ounce container French Vanilla Cool Whip
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/16 (or a pinch) nutmeg

Garnish as desired:  Pumpkin candy, pecans, caramel sauce, etc.

After cake is done (do not over-bake), allow it to sit and cool for 5-10 minutes.  Poke large holes all over the cake using a wooden spoon (or something like that).  Pour condensed milk and Pumpkin Spice Ice Cream Topping all over the cake.  Cover the cake and place in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight.  Combine cinnamon and nutmeg with the French Vanilla Cool Whip.  Spread over cake.  Garnish as desired.   Keep cake refrigerated.

I used candy pumpkins to show that the dessert was pumpkin flavored at a church dinner.  I think many would like it with a few pecans and maybe a caramel sauce drizzled over the top.

Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

When Things Get in the Way

Every year, in the early fall and spring, our garage door has trouble.  For a while during sunrise in the fall or sunset in the spring, the sun is just at the right spot to cause the sensor on our garage door to not work.  I have to go stand by the garage making a shadow cover the sun, or I have to go into the garage, shut it, and then go out another door.  It's annoying because something that usually works, and does what it's supposed to do, suddenly quits working.  There is something in the way that makes it not work.  And, even though the sun is actually a good and needed thing, it messes up my garage door for a while.  It causes a problem".

In our Christian walk, we may be plugging along day to day....growing, learning....loving, serving.  But then, all of a sudden - something gets in the way.  Something messes up our lives and stops us in our tracks.  We stop doing what we were doing.  We stop growing.  We stop learning.  We may stop loving and we may stop serving.  What went wrong?  What got in the way?

Paul asked the Christians in Galatia this same question in Galatians 5:7.

"You were running a good race. Who cut in on you and kept you from obeying the truth?"

The Christians in Galatia had been going along good, but then, all of a sudden, people came into their assemblies and began telling them they needed to obey other things rather than the gospel.  They became concerned with going back to the old law - the law that Christ's death, burial and resurrection had done away with.  Paul wrote to them and pleaded with them to go back to the gospel he had preached about Jesus, and to live as a new creation as they had before. (Read all of Galatians to get the whole, complete story.)

In Galatia, many things were getting in the way and causing the Christians there to draw away from God:  People teaching untrue things, the old law trying to be followed (rules, circumcision, sinful desires of the flesh, etc.)  Paul told the people there what they needed to do to get rid of the things that were in their way.

In our own lives, we may have things that get in the way of our Christian walk, too.  Things may get in the way, such as people, family, jobs, entertainment, hobbies, laziness, etc.  Many things can hinder our spiritual walk.  But, just as the sun eventually moves a bit and our garage sensors begin working again, we can make changes to make sure "things" don't stay in the way of our Christian walk.

Just as the sun eventually moves a bit and our garage door begins to work again the way it should, we must strive to make sure the things that get in the way don't stay in the way.  When things get in the way, we must take action.

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
Galatians 2:20

IN THE BEGINNING GOD....

My youngest son, Tyler, and I were driving from our hotel in Oklahoma City on Satuday.  We were heading to the Oklahoma State Fair.  As we went along the road I saw a billboard that read, "Don't Believe in God? Join the club.", then gave a website address.  The statement shocked me, but then I thought to myself, "surely the website would be a good thing....somthing actually trying to show others about God."

I didn't say a word, but Tyler, who is 7 years old, saw the billboard. He instantly said, "Who would want to do that?"  I asked him if he saw the billboard and he said yes.  I told him it was probably a sign making it "look" like it was against God, but that the website might be an actual good website telling others about God and Jesus.  I was wrong.  It's not promoting God and Jesus at all.  In fact, it's very much against everything the Bible teaches.

A little further down the road, Tyler and I saw another billboard.  It had a cross and a person on the cross.  That billboard said, "JESUS DIED FOR YOU!".  Tyler said, "I like that sign."  Yes, that billboard was much better, and I am grateful for the group that is responsible for that billboard....so close to the one that is against God.

The first verse in the Bible says, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth."  Genesis 1:1.  It's the simplest of verses, but seems to be so difficult for so many people.  There's a saying that says this:  "God said it.  I believe it.  That settles it."  That saying is okay, but you know what?  I think the saying should be this:  "God said.  That settles it."  It doesn't matter if the world chooses to believe His Word or not - it still settles it still!  It's a choice to believe it, but not believing  it doesn't change the fact that God is the creator of all things.  No billboard can take that away!

On this GRATITUESDAY, I am grateful for God, for His Son, Jesus - who died for all people - and for the Bible.  I am grateful for Jesus' birth and His life.  I'm grateful for  the Gospel - the death, the burial, and the resurrection of Jesus...and the salvation that it gives God's people.

I am also grateful that no billboard can take away the fact that God is over all.  He is even over Satan. 

There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to one hope when you were called— one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. 
Ephesians 4:4-6

Join us for Gratituesday at Heavenly Homemakers!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Time Capsules - An Idea for Parents

This weekend was a special time for one of our nieces on my husband's side of the family.  Twenty years ago, on DeeAnn's first birthday, her parents asked all of the relatives to join with them and help create a time capsule for DeeAnn.  DeeAnn's mom, Robin, asked this request from the relatives, noting that the time capsule wouldn't be opened for 20 years....on DeeAnn's 21st birthday. At the time that seemed so far away, but here it was - 2010.

Celebrating a few days early while she was home from college, DeeAnn opened her time capsule on Saturday night.  It was such a sweet and touching time for her, as well as for all who were able to attend the event.  We laughed and cried about all of the special things that were given in the time capsule - from simple to thought-out letters and cards....to pictures and special keepsakes. To see more about DeeAnn's special time capsule, go to my sister-in-law, Robin's blog:  WaWaWaughs - Tales of our life with Teens .

I was a little nervous about what I might have put in the time capsule! Thought it might have been something....ummmmmmm.....goofy!  I would have been 20 years old myself, and my husband and I were newlyweds.  DeeAnn was the first baby niece/nephew born after our marriage so that was really special for us.  After DeeAnn began reading her letter from us, I suddenly remembered writing it!  I remember making the border with a color printer (which was a big deal back then!) and then typing the letter at work.  The letter told an account of where we were the day she was born and then about her first birthday, and then on into what life for her might be right now - at 21 years old.

I wrote a post last week about how we had been to the Oklahoma State Fair since 1984.  DeeAnn was born in 1989 and even though we were living in Kansas at the time, we were actually attending the State Fair that weekend and we were able to go visit her at the hospital and at home the next day.  That was so special and it also made it special that this past weekend our own children were showing their goats at the State Fair.  Because of that we were able to attend the birthday celebration and opening of the time capsule.

I wanted to post about the special time capsule because it is such a good idea for new parents to do for their children.  Maybe you will decide to do something like this for your child(ren) or grandchild(ren).  My sister-in-law, Robin, has given me lots of special ideas such as this one.....and I copy her.  Yes, I do!  And, I'm so thankful for all of the neat ideas she has given me so that I can do them for my own children.

Maybe the first birthday has already come and gone.  Go ahead and make one for them and have a time set to open it.  Any time will be special and with be full of special memories and tiny treasures.  It's never too late to do it, really!

After the party, my family left DeeAnn's celebration in two different vehicles.  My daughter was alone with me.  After we left Lauren said, "Mom, did you make a time capsule for me?"  (See....she knows that a lot of neat ideas come from her Aunt Robin!)  I hesitated a bit.....not wanting to tell her....but, of course. told her the truth.  I told her that I did have one for her, but not to mention it to her three brothers.  I think she's excited, and I'm sure she has no idea where her time capsule container is - stuck up high in a closet!  She'll be opening it in five years.  FIVE SHORT YEARS. (tears)

I believe that this is a special way for parents and grandparents to show their love for their children/grandchildren, but also to share their faith with them.  The special little pieces of advice, encouragement, and faith-building scriptures will be something that the person opening the special gift will cherish forever.

Lo, children are a heritage of the LORD, and the fruit of the womb is His reward. Psalm 127:3

Friday, September 24, 2010

Happy 16th Birthday, Lauren!

Today we are celebrating something that seems like it shouldn't even be happening - our oldest child's 16th birthday.  It's really amazing to think that Lauren is 16 years old!  She's growing up so fast.
We celebrated Thursday night with a friends and family party.  She requested finger foods, such as Mini Calzones, Potato Skins, Pizza Cups, Hawaiian Roll Sandwiches, and chips with Queso.  All of the recipes are on our family recipe blog, if you're interest.  Just type in the name of the food in the search to the right on the home page. (Sorry, I'm too tired to link them all :).  I had so much food, but at the end of the party there was only ONE calzone left and some of the queso.  I told the boys they couldn't leave until it was gone - no left overs.  They believed me and I was thankful.
Lauren's cake was so cute and so good!  It's from June's Tasty Treats in Altus.
This picture is of all of the kids/teens at the party.  They had a great time laughing and playing outside.  We enjoy having company so especially enjoy the big birthday celebrations for each of our children.  

I have mixed emotions about Lauren turning 16.  I'm sad that she is almost grown and will be going off to college before too long, but I'm excited about her getting to drive (so she can run errands for me!) and it's exciting to see every new chapter of her life.  

God blessed us 16 years ago with a beautiful baby girl.  I'm thankful that He did.  He gave us someone very special.

Dear Lauren,

Happy 16th Birthday!  We love you very much and always will.  We will always be here for you. Always remember that you're our favorite daughter.  Our family wouldn't be the same without you.  You make us laugh and you make life fun.

We're proud of you and thankful for you. You are a great Christian example to all who know you, and for that, we thank you.  You're an encourager and are always willing to help others.  

You're a great big sister to your three brothers, too! They look up to you and they always will, even though they sometimes get tired of your "mothering" them.   

Continue to serve God and follow Jesus in all you do.  Choose your mate wisely. Use your talents to glorify Him.  Keep your eyes on Jesus.  Keep His Word on your heart always.  Be a servant to others.

Love,
Mom and Dad

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Rebooting and Starting Over

I wanted to share this message with you.  We all should be thankful that God's plan includes revooting and starting over.  We all need His mercy, grace, and salvation. 

This "Thought for the Day" was received via email and used with previous permission from Mr. Smith.  Enjoy the message :).

REBOOTING AND STARTING OVER

The following are some suggested new error messages for Microsoft Windows:

1) Smash forehead on keyboard to continue.

2) Enter any 11-digit prime number to continue.

3) Press any key to continue or any other key to quit.

4) Press any key... no, no, no, NOT THAT ONE!

5) Close your eyes and press escape three times.

6) Bad command or file name! Go stand in the corner.

7) Keyboard not attached. Press F1 to continue.

8) CONGRESS.SYS corrupted... Re-boot Washington D.C? (Y/N)

9) Runtime Error 6D at 417A:32CF: Incompetent User.

10) Error reading FAT record: Try the SKINNY one? (Y/N)

11) WinErr 547: LPT1 not found. Use backup.....PENCIL & PAPER.

12) Backup not found: (A)bort (R)etry (P)anic.

Wouldn't it be nice if every time we made a mistake in real life, we received an "error message" telling us we did something wrong, along with instructions on how to correct it? And wouldn't it be nice to keep "backups" so if we did something stupid we could go back and put in the backup, continuing on as if nothing had ever gone wrong? And if things get really bad, wouldn't it be nice just to be able to "reboot" and completely start all over again from scratch?

In essence, God has given us a way to do just that. Part of the blessing of becoming a Christian is the ability to start afresh. Paul said of the Corinthians:

"Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God." (I Cor. 6:9b-11).

Thanks be to God for giving us all a way to "reboot" and start over.

Have a great day!

Alan Smith
Helen Street Church of Christ
Fayetteville, North Carolina

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Oklahoma State Fair - A Family Tradition

This was my husband and I in 1988 - twenty-two years ago - at our first trip to the Oklahoma State Fair after getting married.  (I know, I look like one of Santa's elves all decked out in kelly green, but it was my favorite color at the time!).  I was 19 in this picture and he was 24.  We've both changed a lot!
My family first started going to the Oklahoma State Fair when I was 15, so it's been a tradition for our family for all of these years.  The tradition, in the beginning, included my materal grandparents (while they were still living) and my parents, and my sister. My parents continue the tradition with us still. 
We missed one year when our oldest child, Lauren was born.  That was almost 16 years ago.  My parents missed another year when my dad was in the hospital.
I want to share some pictures of our trip this year.  I love seeing the baby animals!
I didn't take pictures of the baby goats.  I can see those in our field out back :).
Most of the years we've gone we've seen Disney on Ice.  A few times we've seen the rodeo or circus.
This year's theme was "Let's Celebrate".
The kids - even though they're older - still enjoy the show.  I think my dad even stayed awake the whole time!
The Toy Story characters were a big hit with the whole audience.
It seems like they're favorites of everyone.  I'm thinking that next year it will be a total "Toy Story 3" Disney on Ice.  It's already showing in some areas.  Here's the link.
I wasn't sure what this was from, unless Minnie was dressed like Mulan, but it was beautiful.
The Christmas part of the celebration was my favorite.
We're heading to Disney World at Christmas this year, so we were excited to see "The Mouse" and "Minnie" decked out in the Christmas attire.
The snow was so pretty!  In the past my favorite part was always when there were bubbles, but the snow topped it!
Disney magic, for sure.
The State Fair all lit up at night is a special site to see.

Traditions are so important for families.  What are some of your favorite family tradtions??

Monday, September 20, 2010

To Tell the Truth, and Nothing But....

This could have been a "Biscuit" post, but I thought since it involved the "crime" of lying, it should be attributed to the criminal:  Tyler himself.

Today I talked to Tyler on the phone while he was at a football game with his daddy watching an older brother play.  I was working on my small business booth in Altus, and decided that, since it was just a scrimmage, I would continue working and finish up the fall decorating.  While on the phone, Tyler asked me if he could eat something at the game.  I said yes.  He asked if he could have a drink - meaning a Gatorade or a soft drink.  I said no, that he could just have water.

Well, in a few minutes my husband called me and said that Tyler told him that I said he could have a drink.  My husband knew better so called me.  I got Tyler on the phone and asked him what he thought I said.  He went on and on about how he didn't understand me and that he was sure I said he could have a drink at half-time.  I told him that I was disappointed in him because he knew what I had said and that he was lying.  He kept saying he just forgot.  I knew he didn't.  Anyway, by the time we all got home and I talked to him, he admitted to my husband and I that he had lied to his daddy.  Lying in our home constitutes a spanking.  Usually I'm the one that gives them because I'm home with the kids the most.  But, this time, since he actually lied to his daddy and because daddy hasn't had the "privilege" (joking, of course) of doling out the spankings as often as I have, it was mutually decided that he would give the spanking.  I left the house to go to another game with the older two kids and they went in to take care of the disciplinary action.

Just a little while ago I sat down to write this post, going to make it just about the spanking/discipline part, but then my husband came in and told me about Tyler's prayer at supper (I was at the game).  I changed the focus of my post (although I realize the discipline part is very apparent).

Here is Tyler's prayer:

Dear God,
"Please help people get their act together and not lie like I just did, " and then he continued and prayed for the food.

On this Gratituesday, I am grateful for Tyler's tender heart!  Oh, and how different the world would be if everyone did tell the truth!  Of course, I pray that Tyler does get his act together and doesn't choose to lie again.  Daddy doesn't like giving spankings.  And, in fact, Momma doesn't either.

Join us for Gratituesday at Heavenly Homemakers!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Chronicles of Biscuit - Prayers and Torture

The Chronicles of Biscuit - Stories about our youngest son, Tyler (age 7), whose nickname is Biscuit.

Yesterday we were driving to the mall in Oklahoma City.  My husband, Joe, mentioned something about prayer.  Biscuit said, "I pray all the time."  My husband and I both told Biscuit how proud we were of him for praying about so many things. We reminded him of the verse "Praying without ceasing, 1 Thessalonians 5:17".  Then Biscuit said, "Yes.  I pray about things that torture me."  Joe and I looked at each other a little shocked!  I asked Biscuit what tortured him in a teasing way - like his brothers, his sister, things like that.  He replied, "No.  2nd grade.  It tortures me."  He was serious as could be.

A little backgroud on Biscuit's 2nd grade year this far:  His class had 24 students and so after the first week of school, it was decided that the class would be divided.  We didn't care which teacher Biscuit got and neither did he.  The day the class was split, right after school Biscuit got in the car.  He told me he had moved to the other class, instead of the original class.  I asked if he was okay with that and he said yes.  But then I asked Biscuit about the friends he had in his "new" class.  His answer?  No one.

After that I named his friends one by one, including all of the kids that he goes to church with.  None of the ones I mentioned were in his class.  He seemed sad, but didn't complain.  He's continued to seem sad and mentions it some times, but we encourage him to look at the bright side - recess, lunch, P.E. - at those times the original 24 students are all together.  And, maybe Biscuit will become closer to the students in his own class throughout the year.

Biscuit will be okay.  It's not like he comes home crying and complaining each day.  In fact, he doesn't.  But, he is disappointed and isn't very excited about school this year.  And in his life, just as it is in all of our lives, disappointments will come.  Things won't go the way we want them to go.  We have to learn to adjust our attitudes and be content....or at least we should.

But, back to the "torture" comment.  Biscuit has no clue what the word "torture" really means, and I'm so very thankful he doesn't.  To him something not going his way is torture.  He'll make it and we'll help him, but most of all, I know that God will help him.

Biscuit knows what many of us know and what God wants everyone to know:  That He will help us and that He will give us just what we need.  He can give comfort, peace, and the strength to make it through anything at all - no matter how trying or painful it may be.  And, for that we should all be thankful.

Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.
James 5:13-16

Friday, September 17, 2010

A Post Worth Sharing

Today I want to share a link with you of a post I received via email a few days ago.  It's written by Laura of Heavenly Homemakers and is titled, "What Matters Is My Kids".  Click on this link to view.

If you are a Christian mom, like me, you know that the little ones in your care must be a big part of your "mission" work.  It's of utmost important that we teach our children about God, about Jesus, about the Good News.  It's important that the Bible be the most important book in our home, and that the Lord's church be a part of our lives - not just occassionally, but regularly.

Helping our children on their road to maturity is something we should naturally be concerned about, but we should be even more concerned about their spiritual lives and their spiritually maturity.  Children are a gift from God. 

Be sure to read Laura's post.  You'll be glad you did.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Chronicles of Biscuit - "Choose For Yourself This Day"

The Chronicles of Biscuit - Stories about our youngest son, Tyler, whose nickname is Biscuit.

Tonight our almost-16-year-old daughter, Lauren, invited three friends to Wednesday night Bible class.  We went and got each of the girls before services and allowed them time to visit other high school friends after services.  The teens were all gathered around visiting, just like the adults usually do, when I happened to notice Biscuit sitting on the steps outside and all alone.  He looked sad.

I went over and asked Biscuit what was wrong.  He said he was sad because of Lauren's friends and how that she would be graduating in two years.  What he meant was that with friends around, Lauren wasn't paying any attention to him.

After we dropped off all of the girls, it was just Biscuit, Lauren, and I in the vehicle.  The rest of our family had gone in another vehicle.  Lauren said, "Mom, as I walked with the girls and Biscuit out to the Expedition, he said, 'Lauren, you need to choose between your family or your friends!'"

As we made our way home, Biscuit and Lauren discussed the friend/family dilemna.  Lauren assured Biscuit that her family would always and has always come before her friends.  He kept trying to explain what he meant....which was basically that he was feeling a little bit threatened in his close relationship with his big sister.

In two years Lauren will go to college.  She's got big dreams of going far away.  Biscuit has big dreams of her staying home and going to college online, like he plans to do.  Me?  I'm praying for something a little in-between - not too far, but enough away to give her some space.  It will come too fast, but I know that family will always come before friends....even then.

In Joshua 24, Joshua is speaking to the Israelites. He was telling them just exactly what God wanted him to tell them. 

Verses 14-15:
“Now therefore, fear the LORD, serve Him in sincerity and in truth, and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the River and in Egypt. Serve the LORD! And if it seems evil to you to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”

The Israelites needed to make a choice.  They needed to either decide to serve God and Him alone, or they needed to serve the (little "g") gods, which were false gods.  Joshua told the people that he would serve only the Lord.

The Israelites vowed that they, too would serve the One true God. 

 And the people said to Joshua, "We will serve the LORD our God and obey him." Joshua 24:24

In life we can be close to family and be close to friends - all at the same time.  Family can and should come first in most cases (although being a Christ-like servant, others needs should always be considered), but friends are important.  But in our walk with God, He must come first - before anything else - even our friends and even our family.  Following Jesus has to be our main goal.  It has to be our whole life.  It has to be what we always choose.

Biscuit doesn't understand how Lauren can have close friends and still love her family.  He'll be in shock when one day she finds a young man who wants to marry her!  Biscuit is jealous and he'll have to work through those feelings.

God is a jealous God.  He wants our love for Him to be above anything else.  We must "choose for ourselves this day" just who/what we will serve:  God or other.

How is Your Walk?

Josiah was eight years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem thirty-one years. His mother's name was Jedidah daughter of Adaiah; she was from Bozkath.  He did what was right in the eyes of the LORD and walked in all the ways of his father David, not turning aside to the right or to the left.
2 Kings 22:1-2

Although King Josiah was only eight years old, he was wise beyond his years. Verse 2 above tells us that he stayed on the right path - not veering to the right or to the left.  It tells us that he obeyed God and followed in the steps of his father, David.

How are you in your Christian walk?  Are you staying on the right path?  Are you veering off to the right or to the left?  Are you following in the steps of your Savior Jesus?  And what about your children?  Can they walk in your ways and be on the right path?

Blessed are they whose ways are blameless, who walk according to the law of the LORD.

Blessed are they who keep his statutes and seek him with all their heart.

They do nothing wrong; they walk in his ways.
Psalm 119:1-3

Monday, September 13, 2010

My Table is Back!

It's been a long time since I've seen it, so I'm sooooo grateful to have it back!  For the past four weeks, our big dining room table has served as "Craft Central".  Before school started our four children began working on crafts to enter in our local and county fair.  Since three of them are in 4-H, those crafts are a little more time consuming and sometimes very difficult.  Also, because there are other activities they are involved in, it takes several days to complete some of the projects.  That's why the table has been out of commission for eating for all of this time.

Well, the kid's hard work paid off.  They won lots of ribbons, will win some prize money, have several 4-H crafts and some cookies that will go on to the state fair this week.  But mostly it is neat that they have learned to make some new things.  In fact, as I type this, my son is making another recipe of sugar cookies.  He's gotten pretty good at making them.  They'll sit in the fridge all night and he'll roll them out and bake them in the morning.  I think they will be taken to the Oklahoma State Fair on Wednesday and hopefully they'll have a ribbon on them when we go to the fair this weekend!

It's good to learn new things.  It's good to try new things.  I'm glad that my children enjoy getting involved in the fair and like entering their creations, but I'm always to get the house back in order after the chaos.  I'm especially grateful to see that big dining table again!  We were finally able to sit down for a family meal around the table yesterday after worship.  It had seemed like forever since we had done that! How nice it was! 

While my big table was still in the house and still being used, it wasn't being used for it's original purpose.  It was being used for crafts.   It had paper covering it up.  It had paint, tape, scissors, markers...all sorts of things just sitting all over it.  It was a mess!

This makes me think of a Bible.  What if it isn't being used for it's original purpose?  What it it's being left on a shelf in your room, just to collect dust?  Or what if it's being taken to worship each Sunday and maybe even on Wednesday, but it's not being used in your daily life.  It's there - it's sitting there, but it's not being used to help you daily.  It's not being used to help your family.  It's not being used to guide your life.

It was such a great feeling to rip the paper off of the table yesterday so that we could eat lunch sitting around it.  It was so nice to all be able to sit comfortably and visit around the table, after squeezing together for weeks at our small bar area in the kitchen.

Think of how it would feel to open up your Bible daily - to take it off of that shelf or maybe unzip it from it's cover - and read it for a certain time each  morning or evening.  Maybe make it part of your family's bedtime routine.

Just like my table's purpose is for our family to sit around and eat.  The Bible's purpose is to direct our lives in the Way. 

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
2 Timothy 3:16-17

This post is linked to Gratituesday, hosted by Heavenly Homemakers.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Be All That You Can Be

Last night I was going through a file I have named "Bible Class Keepers".  I found this poem, which I wanted to share with you.  The author is Dot Harrison.  It's a great poem for Christians!

BE ALL THAT YOU CAN BE
The Lord doesn't ask the impossible,
Or demand perfection in me.
All He wants from each of us,
Is be all that we can be.

Be the kind of Christian,
Whose light shines far and wide.
Reflecting only Jesus,
As you walk by His side.

Be full of love for others,
As Christ would have you do.
Reaching out for souls,
To teach the gospel to.

Be the kind of woman,
Found in Proverbs Thirty-One,
Called "blessed" by her family,
For things that she had done.

Be full of works like Dorcas,
Who gave to those in need.
Just simple acts of love,
Yet mourned for such a deed.

Be all that you can be,
As you walk the "Narrow Way",
Waiting for the master,
To take you home some day.

For God never asked that we be great,
Or climb the social ladder,
He's not impressed by worldly things,
That do not really matter.

He only looks inside of us,
Where no one else can see.
And knows if we are trying,
To be all that we can be.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Chronicles of Biscuit - Our Day at Oklahoma City

The Chronicles of Biscuit:  Stories about our youngest son, Tyler, whose nickname is Biscuit.

This week has been filled with lots of tears in Tipton, so I thought I would share a few funny things Biscuit has said recently.  Laughing is good for us.  Maybe you need it, too! :)

Last Friday Biscuit had an eye doctor appointment in Oklahoma City.  He was looking forward to us spending the whole day together and looking forward to having a day off of school.

When we were about 15 miles away from home, I said, "Oh, I forgot to print off the Hobby Lobby coupon."  Biscuit replied, "I don't have a problem with that!".

I laughed and laughed!  Biscuit didn't have a problem with me forgetting the coupon because he didn't want to go to Hobby Lobby.  He doesn't enjoy going there at all. (I think he gets that "No Hobby Lobby" attitude from his daddy :).

However, Biscuit did have a plan to go to a mall, but he didn't want to shop.  He wanted to go to the food court, sit in an "old, rusty car", and eat Chinese food!  The Quail Springs Mall has several old classic cars that are booths.  We were excited to actually find the pink cadillac booth empty - just in time to eat that yummy Chinese food.

Later on in the day Biscuit asked me if I could get him a rotten, old motorcycle when he's sixteen.  He said he and his brother, Jacob, could fix it up. 

On the way home from Oklahoma City, Biscuit wrote in a spiral notebook.....for the whole two hours and fifteen minutes.  He made his football schedule out the whole way - filling out every little detail about the game, times, teams, and all sorts of other "important" information.  It's amazing that he can stay so focused on something like that, but can't stay focused for five minutes when he's supposed to be straightening up his room!

Thanks for the laughs, Biscuit!

A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. Proverbs 17:22

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Teaching Kids - Parable of the Lost Coin

The past few Sundays I've been filling in teaching class in the 1st and 2nd grade room.  I've enjoyed it a lot because I taught this group for several years when they were younger. My own youngest son, Tyler, is in there, so he's especially excited I've been filling in.

This Sunday the lesson was "The Parable of the Lost Coin" from Luke 15:8-10.  Several of the ideas I used came from Danielle's Place.  It's a wonderful site to help in teaching Bible classes.

Typically for this age, I wouldn't do a snack, but this week they got a special treat.  A few summers ago, Tyler went to Wednesday night Bible class at Memorial Road Church of Christ, when we were visiting the Oklahoma City/Edmond.  He was so excited because dads were teaching the class.  There was a dad at each table of little children.  He was also excited about learning this parable and he told us all about it...for about 10 mintues.  He also told us about a fun thing they did in class.  They had a snack that went along with the parable.  I really like it when the snack makes the lesson even more memorable.

The snack was chocolate pudding with a slice of banana hidden in the bottom.  The banana represents the woman's lost coin.  Boy did the kiddos have fun finding their lost coin Sunday morning!  And I hoped they learned the meaning of the parable:  Saving those who are lost...without Jesus.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

In Memory of Chris Oakley - Part 2

If you missed Part 1, click here.

Well, today was the memorial service for Chris. My brother-in-law, Ken, did the obituary, lead the congregational singing, and took care of the songs for before the services and after. The songs were beautiful. I had someone ask about the music...wondering who it was. The CDs used, if you are interested were ZOE Group, and Hallal,. (Some of their songs are on my playlist at the bottom of the "Shine Like Stars" home page.)There was one more, but it's at my husband's office and we can't remember the name.

My husband, Joe, did the rest of the service.  He wasn't sure what to say for the first few days.  The shock of Chris' death and the love we all felt for him, made it difficult.  He didn't want to be preparing a lesson for Chris' funeral.  He prayed about it and prayed about it.  Finally, God helped him to realize what he needed to do.  He needed to let Chris do his own funeral lesson.  Not in person, obviously, but by "Notes" he had written on Facebook.

Chris was amazing with words. When he was still in high school he would do devotionals from time to time.  His church family was always amazed at his knowledge and application of God's Word.  His "Notes" were insightful as well.  They were faith-based, and full of wisdom.  Here are some of the notes that were used during Chris' funeral.  Remember that he wrote all of these himself and he was only 20 years old.  Amazing.

What to Do? Part 1
by Christopher Micheal Oakley on Saturday, July 31, 2010 at 6:45pm.

Unfortunately life is full of struggles, and for many of us they are internal. I honestly believe that an external struggle is easier to deal with than a struggle against yourself. We can shield ourselves from external struggle and face them when we are prepared. (not in every case of course) We cannot, however, run from a fight against ourselves and our feelings. The human emotion is the most devastating weapon there is, but what happens when we are assaulted by our own emotions? It is very hard to deal with self conflict and when it is something that has been there dormant for years it can take even longer to finally overcome. More in part 2.

Joe commented between each note, giving scriptures that went along with each thought.  But, also he mentioned how that Chris didn't write out Part 2.  His death and his funeral service....that was Part 2.  He also told those in attendance that Chris would want all of us to learn something from his passing.  Here are more of Chris' thoughts from his Facebook Notes.

Past, Present, and You
by Christopher Micheal Oakley on Monday, June 21, 2010 at 2:02pm.

What if your entire life was about the worst thing you ever did? What if it was about where you began? In this age we never look where we are going only to where we have been. This makes us only look at where others have been as well. Why is it that we can hold someone else's failings against them but we can overlook ours? Life is too short to look back. Its also to short to live in the here and now. We must constantly forge ahead and look to the future, for in the future lays hope. The past is poor regrets, look only forward. Life too short, where do you stand?

Why, I mean really?
by Christopher Micheal Oakley on Saturday, December 12, 2009 at 10:54am.

Why is it that when we see something we have to say something no matter what it is? We never take into consideration what we are about to say. What effects will it have, is it appropriate, and will it make the situation more positive? It always astounds me how insensitive the human race is. I am including myself in this just so that way no one thinks I am saying that I am perfect.

Even if the "problem" is small we have to interject our own opinions before we have even considered where the other person is coming from. If it happens to be that we don't agree we automatically tell the other person they are wrong.

For what reason is it? I personally believe that it is because humans think that it is their right to tell others when they are wrong.

This is the basis for all conflict, we are never willing to compromise, and when we do compromise we do not sacrifice our opinions. That is to say that we do not put our opinions to the test, that even when proven wrong we will stick to our guns. This is, in large part, due to an excessive amount of pride. We will not step down because if we do it means we were wrong, and we see wrong as being weak. Today's world won't accept this so called weakness.

I think another reason that things are pushed so far is that we are scared of change, which is understandable, but does it make it right? We must learn that if we are wrong it is okay. Something is only truly wrong if you do not learn from it. "Once we realize that imperfect understanding is the human condition, there is no shame in being wrong, only in failing to correct our mistakes." - George Soros.

So which will you be a person who has made a mistake, a boastful person when you're right, or just flat out wrong? Personally I want to be the one who made a mistake, but fixed it in the end.

And finally, Chris wrote this poem. It was a perfect ending to his memorial service.

Dear God

by Christopher Micheal Oakley on Monday, July 12, 2010 at 9:21pm.

When I look back at all the things I have done
Even when when I was at my best
All I can see is what I never won
It seems to me life is just a test

But you are there for my rest
You know what I've done
And where I'll be at my best
You are the answer to my test

Now when I look back at what you have done
All I can see is all I have won
You will make sure im my best
For you give me the strength to pass the test.
Amen

Joe gave the challenge to everyone at the service to not forget Chris' words.  Chris was a young Christian who struggled, just like we all do.  He failed at times, just like we all do.  But, by his words, you can see that he realized the weaknesses he had, and he also realized that God was the only One who could help him.

I pray that we all learn something from Chris' death and his life.  Mostly I pray that those around his age will think about the choices they make and how it affects those around them. 

Think about how you would like to be remembered.  What will be said at your memorial service?

Who would have thought that a young 20-year-old would mostly write his own?

Thank you, God, for allowing so many of us the opportunity to know Chris Oakley.  He will be missed.  Thanks to all of you who have prayed for my family and for Chris' family and friends.  It is greatly appreciated.  Please continue to pray...especially for his family.

Monday, September 6, 2010

In Memory of Chris Oakley

Friday night everyone was excited about the first football game of the season.  The Tipton Tigers defeated their opponent that evening, the fans were excited, and the junior high and high school students enjoyed 5th Quarter - an after-the-home-game meal.  This week's meal was sponsored by Tipton Home. 
 Houseparents, Gray and Teresa Canan, did a lot of the work preparing for and serving the meal.  Little did they know that in a few hours, their life would be forever changed.

At 1:00 a.m. our phone rang.  It was another houseparent calling and asking for my husband, Joe.  He was asleep and I was sitting here at my computer.  I could tell by my husband's reaction that there was somthing wrong.  Most of the time we don't get calls at that hour of the night, but occassionally with the children's home, we do.  But I knew something was really wrong.  Joe told me that one of our Tipton Home graduates, 20-year-old Chris Oakley, had died.  We were in shock.  We were sad.  We were confused.

Gray and Teresa had been Chris' housparents for five years of the time he was at Tipton Home.  He was at Tipton Home longer, but with other houseparents...coming from another children's home.  Joe and my great-aunt and uncle helped to get him to Tipton Home.  I'm so grateful they did!  Chris was thankful for Tipton Home and had so many people there who loved him.  If you help Tipton Home in some way, you also helped Chris.

The last thing Chris wrote on his Facebook page was that he was coming to the football game.  We knew we didn't see him, but didn't think much about it, since he didn't live in Tipton, but in a nearby town.

The next hours of the wee morning hours were filled with phone calls from the sherrif's department, Oklahoma Highway Patrol, Joe's boss, Gray, and the other houseparent.  Eventually Chris' biological mom was found and contacted.   Chris had just recently been reunited with her and his siblings after many years.  She requested that Tipton Home make arrangments for Chris, which they were honored to do.

All during those hours all of those people were all working together trying to get everything straight and also make sure Chris was well taken care of and cared for.  It didn't matter that we were all awake during that night....it's not like any of us could have slept anyway.

Finally, Joe and I were able to sleep a few hours. Very few.  When we woke up we wished that everything was just a dream.  Unfortunately for us, the Canan's, the Tipton Home family, and the whole Tipton community realized that it was real.  It was a sad and somber day in Tipton.

Some of the community quickly made plans for a candlelight service in memory of Chris.  It was held that evening on the football field.  A special time remembering a special person.  Here's the video link of the ceremony from KSWO News out of Lawton, Oklahoma.

Unfortunately Chris' death was in a big part because of choices he made.  But, because of those choices, he is teaching a big lesson to many.  Hopefully because of his choices he has also changed some lives. 

"God's ways are not our ways" has especially rung true over this holiday weekend.

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the LORD.  Isaiah 55:8

Who would have ever thought of something like this becoming a way to teach others to make wise choices?  Only God.  And just maybe that is what He's done.
 
Tomorrow will be Chris' funeral.  Joe will be doing the funeral (the preaching-type part...for lack of a better term).  It will be a hard day for him, for the Canan's, and for all of us who knew him.

In Tuesday night's post, I'll share some special things about Chris and more about his memorial service.

I'm grateful to have known Chris Oakley.  I'm grateful for his many wonderful characteristics.  I'm grateful for places like Tipton Home that make it their mission to help children who have been abused and neglected. I'm also grateful for the outpouring of love that has been shown in this small town, as well as from other places.

To see what others are grateful for visit Heavenly Homemakers as Laura hosts Gratituesday.

Friday, September 3, 2010

REFOCUS!

Do you ever feel like the apostle Paul, who made the following statement in the New Testament book of Romans?

"I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it."  Romans 7:18-20

Do you have the desire to do what is good, but not do it?  Do you keep doing what you know is not the best thing to do?  Do you struggle with sin living within you?

Paul was a Christian, converted on the road to Damascus.  Before his conversion he murdered Christians.  Now he is saying that, though he is a Christian, he still struggles with sin.

And don't we all?  Of course we do.  And, just like Paul, the good we desire to do is not always what we do.  We oftentimes continue to do what we know is not good.  But, instead of beating ourselves up for our lack of self-will, why don't we refocus? 

Let's try to focus on the real problem.  Paul states that the problem of not doing the good is because of sin living in him.  Where does that sin come from?  The temptation to sin comes from our own natural desires.  But who tempts us?  Satan.  He tempts you and he wants you.  He wants you to be on his side and not God's side.  He doesn't want you to live in Heaven some day.  He wants you in hell with him.  He's looking to attack you - anyway he can.

Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8

I don't know about you, but that makes me mad!  The fact that there is a "being" that is actively trying to get me to fail...to sin...causes me to feel like a mighty warrior! 

How does it make you feel?  Mighty and strong?  Defeated and weak?

Instead of getting down when you sin....instead of giving up and giving in to the temptations time and time again, REFOCUS!  Turn your focus from the "thing" you are resisting, to the ONE who is tempting you.  REFOCUS! Refocus on SatanHE IS YOUR ENEMY!  HE WANTS TO DESTROY YOU AND I!  And, he will stop at nothing to try and get you on his side.

Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings. 1 Peter 5:9

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. James 4:7

Stand tall and strong and brave against the devil.  God is on your side!
 
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