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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Doin' Homework

Do you like doing homework?  I didn't growing up and honestly, I don't like it now with my own children.  That being said, I surely understand a "little bit" of homework, such as math flash cards, spelling words, and reading.  I even understand students having to do special at-home projects from time to time. 

My reasoning about homework is this: I don't like a lot of homework because my children are away from home and at school for seven hours a day - even more sometimes with sports and other school-related activities.  I want time with my children after school.  I want them to be able to have fun and be kids.  I want them to play.  I want my husband to have time with our children after he gets home from work.  I want us to have time all together as a family.

I'm selfish with family time because it's rare in our fast-paced and busy world.  But, there is some homework that's very important.  It's more needed than any school homework.  It's more important than any school work.  In fact, it's more important than anything else at all.  Really.  What do you think it is?  This little story will show you:

Tonight during our Wednesday evening Bible study time, our preacher told a story.  He has recently become a chaplain with the hospice program and went to visit an elderly lady today.  She was reading something when he walked in.  He asked her, "What are you doing?"  She answered, "Oh, just doin' my homework."  She was reading her Bible!  Isn't that a great response?  Isn't that a great attitude?  This little lady knows what's important.  She knows what many in this life will never know - that the Bible and what it offers is more important than anything else.  She knows doin' her homework is the most important thing.

It makes me wonder:
Am I doin' my homework?  Am I reading/studying my Bible regularly?
Am I as concerned about my children reading/hearing God's Word as I am that they get their school homework done?
Is academic success more important to me (for myself or my children/grandchildren) than spiritual success - meaning knowledge of God, Jesus, and the Bible/salvation?
Do I realize that Bible reading/learning more about God and Jesus/staying close to Him is the most important thing?

Let's do our homework!

And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Mark 8:36

Wednesday's Woman of the Word - Lost and Found

About a month ago, two of my children and I were going to a basketball game out of town.  Some friends from that same town had saved some boxes for me.  They had me stop by the church building to pick them up.  Before we left home, I had stuck a $50 bill in my pants pocket (not smart, I know).  Little did I know, it had fallen out when I stopped by to get the boxes. 

When I drove into the parking lot for the ballgame, my friend called and asked if I had happened to have a $50 bill in my pocket when I stopped by.  I said that I did and she said that another friend had found it.  At that time I hadn't even realized it was gone!  However, if I had gone into the game and found that I didn't have the money to pay for my kids and I to get into the game - I would have realized it was gone and had no idea where I had lost it.   I immediately rushed back to the building to get my money - thankful that I lost it where I did and thankful for friends!

About a week ago I lost my watch.  I don't wear it every day, but any time I'm going somewhere out of town for ballgames or to get groceries, I usually wear it. I figured it would show up someday, but had really missed not having it.  Thankfully, I found it Monday in a "catch-all" compartment in our van.

Today's Woman of the Word is a parable - or a story - told by Jesus about a woman who lost a coin, from Luke 15:8-9.

"Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Does she not light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, 'Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.' "

This woman had ten silver coins.  The original Greek says "drachma".  At that time, one drachma was equal to a day's wages.  That's quite a bit of money to lose.

The woman searched and searched for her coin.  She lit a lamp.  She swept the house - which was most likely a dirt floor.  And, then, she found it!  She called (Note: These days we would have texted or Tweeted our friends - or put it as our status on Facebook!) her friends and neighbors and asks them to rejoice with her over finding the lost coin. It was lost - then found.

When I found out that my friend had found my fifty dollars, I rejoiced!  But my rejoicing was different, because something was found that I hadn't even known was lost.  But the rejoicing was because I realized how fortunate I was to have lost it in such a safe place and around my Christian friends.  It was lost - then found.

On the other hand, I knew I had lost my watch. And, I knew that the reason it was lost is because I hadn't put it where it belonged - either on my wrist or on my dresser.  I have no idea why it was found in the car - but it was.  Thankfully! It was lost - then found.

As was the purpose for all of Jesus' parables, he wanted to teach his disciples a lesson.  The lost coin in this parable represents a lost soul.  Just as the one lost coin was searched for until it was found, we, as Christians, must search for lost souls everywhere.  And likewise, as the rejoicing took place over the finding of one coin, we must rejoice over the finding (and saving) of one soul.

The woman who lost the one coin could have been content with her nine remaining coins and decided it wasn't worth her time to search for the last one.  She could have given up after searching and searching - but she didn't.  That one coin was of utmost importance to her.

Each sinner is special to God and there is rejoicing in heaven over each one that repents and comes to know Him. We are all individuals of great importance to our Heavenly Father.

"In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents."
Luke 15:10

Monday, March 29, 2010

Gratituesday - My Helping Hubby & Dr. Seuss

Several months ago, the school librarian asked me to help with the Dr. Seuss Birthday Celebration on March 5.  Because this is one of my favorite activities our elementary school has each year, and because I've helped every year since it first began (5 or 6 years ago), I immediately said, "YES!". 

Using the Dr. Seuss book, "OH, THE PLACES YOU'LL GO!", the students travel around to differnent states or countries and find out more about the place they are visiting.  This year the theme was countries and I chose to do Mexico.  I was so excited to teach the children about the Mexican culture and let them eat some of the foods of Mexico.

A few weeks before the event I was visiting with my husband about the Dr. Seuss Celebration and we happened to turn the calendar to March.  Right there in big letters, over the squares of the dates March 4 - 7, I had written "Birthday Trip for Mom".  My sister and I had planned a surprise trip for our mom way back in September, and I hadn't thought about those dates when I had committed to helping the school librarian.  Uh, oh! I had a BIG problem.
I turned to my husband and said, "I have a HUGE favor to ask you."  Of course he knew what I was going to ask, so he immediately said, "NO!".  I pleaded and begged and pleaded and begged some more (and even some more :).  He said, "Lori, I've never been to Mexico!  I can't teach the kids about Mexico!"  I said, "Neither have I, but we've both been close, and you can do this.  It will be fun!  You'll be great! I'll get Lauren (our oldest child...A few teenagers usually get out of class to help with this day) to help you.  I'll get everything ready for you before I leave." He reluctantly said yes.  I was soooooo thankful!  Of course, this meant that I was going to have to work really, really hard to get everything done before leaving town - not to mention that he was also going to be taking care of our four children while I was gone (and working, too!).
I managed to get everything ready before I left.  Here's my husband's costume.  I had him try it on before I left, just so I could get a picture.  Cute, huh???  I made an adobe house out of cardboard...not elaborate, but it was okay.  I bought all of the supplies for the students to make homemade salsa and homemade guacamole.  I asked my mother-in-law if she would have time to make him a little Ojo (God's Eye craft) to show (and she did). He picked up four pinatas and some candy at a party shop on the way home from a work-related meeting.  I wrote out a lesson plan and placed all of his needed supplies into baskets.  Everything was all ready for his study of Mexico!

Well, after school on the day of the event, I decided to call and see how the Dr. Seuss Celebration went.  My husband didn't answer his phone, but I called the house and one of our boys (Jacob) answered. (My husband was in our field with the goats, so he didn't hear his phone.)  I asked Jacob how the day went.  He said it went well, but there was kind of a problem with the pinata in the Mexico class. The students in that group (Jacob's class and another class), kind of dog-piled onto the candy as the pinata busted.  I was a little concerned about that, but Jacob said the rest of the lesson was fine.  Our youngest, Tyler, got on the phone. I asked him how he liked the "Mexico" center.  Another volunteer had taught about Holland.  Instead of answering about Mexico, Tyler said, "Have you ever heard of Holland?  That was my favorite center.  They have lots of flowers."  I asked him again about Mexico.  He said, "Yeah, it was good."
Well, I've heard from several adults about how "entertaining" my husband was in doing his lesson on Mexico.  I've also heard from him (and our daughter!) about how everything I had planned, didn't get done exactly how I had planned for it to be.  In fact, he told me that probably nothing was done how I expected it to be! 

Here's what I've learned (from him, our daughter who was able to help him, from the librarian, and even from some of the teachers):

1.  The adobe house blew out of his pick-up on the way to school and landed in a neighbor's yard.  He got it from the yard...some of it broke...and it was set up all different than what it was supposed to be. But it's okay.
2.  After the pinata dog-pile during the first group that visited his class, he came up with a new strategy.  I don't remember what it was, but he said it worked. It doesn't matter.
3.  The moustache I had bought him to wear?  He couldn't find the sticky stuff for it, so he just put an advocado peel across his upper lip! I'm sure that was quite a site!
4.  The salsa?  He put LOTS of peppers in it - plus a peppermint candy in one of the classes!  He couldn't find the recipe (that was also left with the baskets and with the ingredients!)  He said that he and our daughter made up their own recipe and that it was very tasty!  All of the jalapenos kept some of the students from tasting it, though. I don't think I would have tried it, either!
5.  He bought pinatas that have pull strings, but didn't know it until after he had done several classes.  The students were hitting them with a soft bat while blindfolded, but they broke quickly because they weren't made to be hit.  I have to say that he had probably never bought a pinata before, so wouldn't have known what all of the strings hanging from the bottom would have meant. Remember: He volunteered to help and go get the pinatas!
6. During each class he told a big story about the history of "Cinco de Mayo", but ended with the punch line of: Sinking of the mayo (like mayonnaise!).  The first grade teacher said she was listening very intently because she had never heard all about what he was telling....then he got to the punch line!  She said it was hilarious! They learned about Mexico - that was the goal.
7.  Several teachers wrote/told me it was the most entertaining class they had been to for the Dr. Seuss Celebration - even the adults themselves were entertained! Well, at least everyone had fun!
8.  I'm thinking next year I should plan to be gone again on the first Friday in March! I'm thinking he might not say yes if it happens again.  Maybe I'd better be here!
I am grateful for my husband's willingness to help with the Dr. Seuss Celebration.  He bailed me out and tried something new...and a little crazy!  I over-committed myself by not checking the calendar more closely.  I was in a bind, and he reluctantly agreed to help me out by teaching the lesson.  And you know what?  I think he actually enjoyed it!  I know the students and teachers sure did! Although, he might not ever admit it.

Marriage is sometimes going above and beyond to help your spouse. At our wedding, which was almost 21 years ago, we had traditional wedding vows.  If we ever renew our vows, I'm suggesting these "Dr. Seuss-type vows" that I found on the web.  I think it would have special meaning for us now, don't you???? 

Minister:  Will you take her as your wife?  Will you love her all your life?

Groom:  Yes, I'll take her as my wife.  Yes, I'll love her all my life.

Minister: Will you have and also hold, just as you have at this time told?

Groom:  Yes, I will have, and I will hold, just as I have at this time told.
Yes I will love her all my life as I now take her as my wife.

Join us for Gratituesday at Heavenly Homemakers!

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church— for we are members of his body. "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh." This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.
Ephesians 5:25-33

Sunday, March 28, 2010

ROSE - Reflecting Our Savior's Example

(*Note:  I just got an email from my mom asking me if I knew that my music list had "Animal Crackers" on it.  I didn't!  I know what happened, though.  Last week I decided to add music to our family recipe blog (Life's a Bowl of Cherries listed on my blog roll on the right side) and listened to "Animal Crackers", but decided not to use that song because of a few words.  But, by accident it posted to my "Shine Like Stars" blog.  So if you've noticed that and thought it "strange" for a devo blog, I'm very sorry.  It's off now!)

Isn't this pretty?  This was one of the centerpieces from the Waynoka church of Christ Ladies' Day I attended Saturday.  Actually, I got to bring this one home because I was priviledged to be the guest speaker for the event.

The theme for the day was ROSE - Reflecting Our Savior's Example. It was a great idea for a theme, don't you think? Here are a few of the scriptures that were used during the lesson.

As water reflects a face,
so a man's heart reflects the man.
Proverbs 27:19

When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
1 Corinthians 13:11-13

And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
2 Corinthians 3:18

Have a great week!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Chronicles of Biscuit - Made In...

(These are the chronicles of our youngest son, Tyler, whose nickname is Biscuit)

This afternoon we were watching our daughter's softball game.  Instead of sitting in bleachers, we usually sit in folding bag chairs.  Biscuit was behind one of the chairs and read the tag on the back.  He said, "Made in China.  Everything's made in China."  I responded, "No, it's not. You're not."  He said, "Nope.  I was made in Heaven!"

Every good and perfect gift is from above...
James 1:17

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

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Pray 'Out Toppin'!

When our second child, son Zachary was two years old, I began teaching his age group in Sunday morning Bible classes.  I printed out several bible verses and taped them to the wall.  Each week we would concentrate on learning a particular verse by memory.

I'll never forget Zachary's favorite verse.  It was 1 Thessalonians 5:17.  I used a children's version which read:  Pray without stopping.  Zachary's interpretation was so cute and we still remember it now - 11 years later - and most likely we always will.

His version was:  PRAY 'OUT TOPPIN'!  And we should, shouldn't we?

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Wednesday's Woman of the Word - Lydia

When I think about Lydia, I immediately think "seller of purple", do you?  That is what she is usually known for from what is said about her in the Bible.

However, if we read Acts 16:13-15, we will find something even more important about Lydia.

On the Sabbath we went outside the city gate to the river, where we expected to find a place of prayer. We sat down and began to speak to the women who had gathered there. One of those listening was a woman named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth from the city of Thyatira, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul's message. When she and the members of her household were baptized, she invited us to her home. "If you consider me a believer in the Lord," she said, "come and stay at my house." And she persuaded us.

When we first meet someone, what is usually one of the first things we ask them?  "What do you do?"  Meaning,  "Where do you work?" or "Do you work outside the home?"  We all ask questions like that, don't we?  But, Luke writes about Lydia's work and then he writes something else about Lydia - that Lydia is a worshiper of God.

Which of these things sounds the most important to you?  That Lydia is a dealer in purple cloth? (which was valuable and expensive in Bible times.  Lydia may have been a very wealthy woman because of her business.) Or that Lydia was a worshiper of God?

Many times we're impressed with worldly success, but what should impress us more is whether or not a person is a worshiper of God.  That's what we should want to be listed as a characteristic of ourselves, as well.

Luke and those with him went to the place of prayer and spoke to the women there.  When I first taught a ladies' class about Lydia a few years ago, I found this commentary (I don't have listed where the commentary was from or who wrote it - sorry!).  It explains why the women may have been out at this place of prayer:

In Jewish law a synagogue could be formed wherever there were ten male heads of households who could be in regular attendance. Failing this, a place of prayer under the open sky and near a river or the sea was to be arranged. Apparently there was no synagogue in Philippi - Paul had already been there a few days - this explains why he and his companions went a little way out of the city to the river, where they expected to find a place of prayer.

I expecially like the next part of the passage  about Lydia, which is verse 14 and 15.  It says, "The Lord opened her heart".  Up until that time, Lydia and the other women were worshipping in the only way they knew how.  They were worshipping God, but hadn't yet heard the Good News about Jesus (or at least they hadn't been converted to Christianity. Maybe they had heard of Him, but they didn't believe in Him as a Savior.) 

When the Lord opened Lydia's heart, she immediately responded. The other women with her responded, as well.  She believed what Paul taught her about Jesus and she and the others were baptized.  They all responded to the Gospel message and immediately went to work serving the Lord.  She invited Paul and his companions to her home.  She had received something very special and she wanted to give something back.

So, ask yourself these questions:
1.  What is more important to you - what you/others do for a living or whether you/they worship God?
2.  What is your response to the Good News about Jesus - that He was crucified for you?  That He was raised up for you?  That He wants to be your Savior? That He died so that you could live in Heaven for eternity?
3.  Look at Lydia's story timeline:
Lydia believed in God even before she heard about the salvation through Jesus. 
Lydia believed Paul's message about Jesus.  (Note:  Notice that Lydia's conversion was on a river bank, not in a building.)
Lydia was baptized.  (Note:  How convenient - they were on a river bank!)
Lydia began to serve.
Where are you on your timeline?

Lydia has one more verse written about her that shows she continued to be a servant. In Acts 16:40.  Paul and Silas had been in jail between the time of Lydia's conversion and this verse, but look at what it says, "After Paul and Silas came out of the prison, they went to Lydia's house, where they met with the brothers and encouraged them. Then they left."

Lydia was at the right place, at the right time, with the right heart, and with the right attitude. That is a challenge for us:  Are you and I the right woman, in the right place at the right time, with the right heart and attitude - ready for God to use?

Monday, March 22, 2010

Signs of Spring

The snow we received in southwest Oklahoma on the first day of spring quickly melted away yesterday. Today brought many signs that spring is officially here. 
On this Gratituesday, I am grateful for the many signs of spring.
New baby goats - a set of twins and a set of triplets born today.  We're grateful they are all alive.  One of the nannies had toxemia.  My husband was treating her and trying to help her be able to have the kids.
They appear to be healthy - and happy!  This one looks like it's smiling. The nannies are doing well, too.
This baby was just trying to stand up on its own when I got to the pen to take a picture.  Baby goats are so cute!  Of course, all babies are cute - animal or human.
This nanny is being a good momma so far - cleaning off one of her new babies.
Another sight of spring...blossoms on the trees...Beautiful!
...daffodils blooming...
...softball games...
....baseball games...

Yes, today I am grateful for the many signs of spring.  What are you grateful for?  Gratituesday is hosted by Laura at Heavenly Homemakers.

Spring Cleaning

Saturday was the first day of spring.  It also marked the end of a week of spring break for a lot of people.

As spring comes around each year, it seems to make people get in the mood to do some spring cleaning.  This "spring cleaning" often-times involves more than just the typical everyday cleaning that has to be done, but goes deeper into the cleaning process:  Cleaning out closets, cleaning out from under beds, going through boxes of stored items, going through piles, etc.

It's a good idea to "spring clean" our physical homes, but from time to time it's a good idea to "spring clean" our spiritual lives, as well.  What should we clean?

1.  Cobwebs:  Think of the cobwebs as sin in our lives.  If we regularly dust our homes, cobwebs won't form.  In our spiritual lives, if we regularly resist temptation to sin, the habit of sin will not form.  Since there is no such thing as a little sin or a big sin, we need to focus on ridding our lives of any sin.  Sin that's not taken care of (repented of, resisted) will grow bigger and bigger and harder to "dust" away.    And you know how sometimes you'll look up at your ceiling and see a cobweb hanging (please tell me you have this problem occassionally, too!)?  Well, those little neglected places that form big long cobwebs on our ceiling and just like neglected sin in our lives.  If we ignore them or fail to notice them, they'll just grow bigger and bigger. The devil likes cobwebs (sin) in our lives and does his best to get us to fall by tempting us.

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

2.  Closets:  Think of closets as our mind/heart.  If we keep stuffing "junk" in our closets, pretty soon the closet will be all full and we won't be able to store what needs to be stored.  The "junk" will take over unless we get rid of it.  Likewise, if we fill our minds and our hearts with "junk" we will not have enough room for the "good" stuff we should be filling our minds with - wholesome things, spiritual things, godly things.

Create in me a clean heart, O God,
And renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Psalm 51:10

Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.
Romans 12:2

3.  Clutter:  Think of clutter as the busyness of life.  If we allow clutter to continue to pile up in our homes, pretty soon we're going to be over-run with - well, with more junk!  In our spiritual lives, if we allow ourselves to become too busy with activities and work and obligations, we won't have time to do what God needs us to do.  He gave us a mission:  We're to be His servants.  We're to do good works that He planned for us to do. We're to tell others the Good News of His Son, Jesus.  We can't become too busy with the clutter in our lives that we forget our mission.

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

For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:10

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." Matthew 28:19-20
 
To clean your home, you need cleaning supplies.  You get out dust cloths, paper towels, cleaning sprays, powders, and gels, trash bags, and many others.  There are types of things to make your home spotless...new ones on the market every day.  But in your spiritual life, you don't need any new cleaner.  You don't need the latest cleaning gadget.  You need only one thing - the Bible.  The Bible is the only true source that will show you how to clean your spiritual life.  And just like any home cleaning supplies, they won't work unless you use them.  It's the same way with God's Word.  Left on the shelf, it will never help clean your spiritual life. 
 
For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
Hebrews 4:12
Let's get busy spring cleaning!

Friday, March 19, 2010

The Jelly Bean Prayer


Do you or someone in your family like jelly beans?  The next time you eat jelly beans, take the time to think about this little jelly bean prayer.  It would make a great addition to a children's bible story lesson.  The special sweet treat using the colors to represent God and Jesus would serve as a visual reminder to them for years to come.

The Jelly Bean Prayer
A bag full of jelly beans
Colorful and Sweet
It's a prayer - it's a promise
It's a loved ones treat.

Red is for the blood He gave.
Green is for the grass He gave.
Yellow is for the sun so bright.
Orange is for the edge of night.

Black is for the sin we made.
White is for the grace He gave.
Purple is for the hour of sorrow.
Pink is for our new tomorrow.
 

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Parenting Questionnaire

Over a year ago, our preacher handed out some questionnaires to several parents in our congregation.  My husband and I filled ours out then and gave it back to him.  Tonight during our Wednesday night Bible study he handed the questionnaire out to everyone and used it as part of his lesson.  His goal is to use the questionnaire results in a parenting seminar some day.

I thought I would share the questions with you, as it gives each of us some important things to think about - whether our children are still home or already grown.

1.  What positive reinforcement do/did you use with your children to help them learn self-discipline?

2.  What negative reinforcement do/did you use with your children to help them learn self-discipline?

3.  Who was the primary disciplinarian in your home? 
A.   Dad     B. Mom      C.  Both Equally

4.  What roll did television/video games play in your family? 
A. Entertainment   B. Baby Sitter   C. Reward    D. Other

5.  How much time does/did each family member spend watching television or playing video games each day?
A.  Dad ______________   B.  Mom ___________________  C.  Children ______________

6.  How much profanity or sexual activity was tolerated when watching television?
A.  None/Zero Tolerance       B.  Some            C. Ignored/Didn't Matter

7.  What is/was the primary method of punishment for disobedience in your home?
A.  Verbal       B. Spanking     C.  Loss of privileges     D.  Other

8.  What do/did you do to promote spiritual growth in your family?

9.  How often do/did you pray together as a family?

10.  How much time is/was spent each week in family-related activities (games, chores, school activities, sports activities, etc.)?

11.  Are/were the parents in agreement on rules, requirements, and expectations in the home?

12.  Do/did you present a united front to the children in the enforcement of rules, requirements, and expectations in the home?

I would like to add a few more: 

13.  Do/did your children see you living for Jesus and serving God every day?

14.  Do/did your children know that worshipping God is important to you - together with the church on Sundays and maybe even on Wednesday - but also each and every day?

15.  What do/would your children say was the most important thing in your life?

Just some good questions for all of us who are/were parents to think about, aren't they?

Goin' Showin' at the Oklahoma Youth Expo

Every year, on the weekend before Spring Break, our family goes to the Oklahoma Youth Expo in Oklahoma City, where our oldest three children show goats. This year one of our sons took his pig to show, as well.
Others from our local 4-H and FFA also showed this past weekend and will continue to do so during this whole week. This picture shows the front of our goat stalls. Some clubs choose to decorate their stalls and work hard to keep it clean. There is an award given for Herdsmanship for those who work towards this competition. Last year our club place 1st/Overall Champion. This year our group place 3rd.
I took some chalkboards and my daughter decorated them with Chalk Markers.  She did a great job, but in the picture below, you can see where her little ornery brother messed it up!
She wrote:  Got goats?...a play on the "Got Milk?" slogan.  Then at the bottom she put, "WE DO!"  Tyler got the Chalk Marker and in the middle wrote, "WE DON'T".  I got on to him for messing up her sign while the other two brothers laughed hysterically.  Soon my daughter and I were laughing about it, too, but we didn't let Tyler know it!
This is Jacob getting his goat ready.  It's neat that they are able to clip a lot themselves now.
Zachary washing his goat.  Thankfully the goat is seeming to enjoy the bath.
Lauren working with her red goat.  It was my favorite one because of it's hair color.
Jacob with "Floop".  He enjoys the pig more than the goats.
Jacob's goat...before going into the show ring.  Looks like the goats smiling, doesn't it?
Lauren with her goat....right after the show....and right before taking it to the trailer... 
The male goats don't come back home, so it's sad for some of the kids who've grown attached to their show animals.  Lauren is always sad to have to say goodbye to her animals.
Zachary with his goat doing the same thing....posing before heading to the trailer.  He's more business minded, so doesn't get too emotional about the goat's future.
Zachary, Lauren, and Jacob watching the goat show.  I always try to get a "from behind" picture of them in their 4-H and FFA jackets. It just looks neat to me.
Tyler had some fun learning to play the "big" Sequence with our high school principal and his wife.  It was a fun way to pass the time for him during the long, long, long goat show!
As the people began to clear out during the day, the aisles became free to have some fun.  This is at the end of the day, in between times of cleaning and packing up to head home.
Tyler giving rides to our county extension agent, plus his sister and one of his brothers.
I walked by a table with a skirt around it and saw a few legs and boots sticking out. I also heard giggling coming from underneath as the kids were trying to hid. It was so cute, but I didn't want to scare the kids by talking to them, since they were hiding under there. I waited until one of them kind of came out and asked if they would line up with their boots in a row. Such a cute picture! I never did see any of the kid's faces, but thanked them for posing!
And finally, Lauren and Zachary giving their dad a ride back to the barn to get the final load before heading home.  We were all ready to be home after four long, busy days!
 
Last year I wrote a post about our worship each year at the stock show.  Read more about that here.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Joy Robbers

In the past week there have been several negative things that have happened.  A few of the things have been personal in nature, but most have been problems in the lives of friends or acquaintances.  All of them would be classified as "Joy Robbers"....things that attempt to steal my joy.

I'll admit that when a few of the things happened, they did seem to steal my joy.  I was sad.  I cried.  A few of the times I was even angry. (This scripture came to mind:  "In your anger do not sin...." Psalm 4:4)  But, you know what?  After each of those things I prayed to God for strength.  I asked him to help me and take the sadness away.  I asked him to take the disappointment and anger away.  And He did strengthen me.  He did take my anger away.  And He's helping me work through my disappointment and sadness.

When I get to thinking about these things that attempted to rob my joy, I realize that true joy comes - not from what happens to me to or to my friends and acquaintances - but from within. I've shared this description of joy before, but feel the need to share it again:

Happiness or Joy?
Happiness is feeling good because of what happens to you.
Joy is a delight coming from within you.

1. Happiness is external. Joy is internal.
2. Happiness is based on chance. Joy is based on choice.
3. Happiness is based on circumstances. Joy is based on Christ.

In reality, the things that happened over the last week didn't rob my joy.  They robbed my happiness, not my joy.  I am the only one who can rob my joy.  (Satan is the accomplice.) I can chose to be joyful...or not.

Things may sadden me.  Things may disappointment me.  Things may anger me.  But, it's my choice as to how I allow all of those things to affect me. It's my choice if I allow those things to control me.

God is there to help me be joyful in all things.  Christ is the reason I can be joyful.  The Holy Spirit will help to cultivate the fruit of joy. "But the Fruit of the Spirit is...joy." Galatians 5:22

I like the words to this song, which is based upon the verse, Philippians 4:4:
Rejoice in the Lord always,
And again I say rejoice.
Rejoice in the Lord always,
And again I say rejoice.
Rejoice! Rejoice! And again I say, Rejoice.
Rejoice! Rejoice! And again I say, Rejoice!

"Rejoice in the Lord always: again I will say, Rejoice" Philippians 4:4

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Just Read It!

My son Jacob and I had an interesting conversation today. He said, "Mom, you know why I would rather read a book than see a movie?"  I said, "Why?"  He replied, "Because in a book you get to know how the person feels.  You can't know that from a movie."  We finished up that conversation talking about how that is true, but it led me to thinking about how it is also about the Bible
.
It's great to hear great sermons.  It's great to hear good Bible class lessons.  But, if we really want to come to know God and Jesus, we must read the Word for ourselves.  Since the Bible is God's inspired word, it would only make sense that we would come to know Him more by reading it, wouldn't it?

Just read it!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Not Nearly as Big

I received this via email from Alan Smith's Thought for the Day.  It has such a great message so I wanted to share it with you.

NOT NEARLY AS BIG

I heard a story recently about the University of Tennessee football coach. He bought a bolt of cloth thinking he would have a suit made out of it. He took the material to his tailor in Knoxville where the tailor measured him, examined the bolt of cloth, did some computations on a piece of paper, and said, "I'm sorry, coach, there just isn't enough material in this bolt to make a suit for you." The coach was disappointed, but he threw the bolt of cloth in the trunk of his car, wondering what he was going to do with it.

A couple of weeks later he was in Tuscaloosa, Alabama -- the home of the Crimson Tide (arch enemies of the Volunteers). He was on his way to the coast for a vacation. Driving down the main street in Tuscaloosa, he noticed a tailor shop, which reminded him that he had that bolt of cloth in the trunk. He stopped, thinking he would give it a try. He told the tailor he had bought this bolt of cloth and wondered if he could do anything with it.

The tailor measured him, measured the bolt of cloth, did some computations. Finally he said, "Coach, I can make you a suit out of this bolt. What's more, I can make you an extra pair of pants. And if you really want it, I can give you a vest out of this, too."

The coach was dumbfounded. "I don't understand," he said. "My tailor in Knoxville told me he couldn't even make one suit out of this bolt of cloth." The tailor said, "Coach, here in Tuscaloosa, you are not nearly as big a man as you are in Knoxville."

Paul warned each of us in Romans 12:3, “not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think.” It is easy for us to make the mistake of being that we are "bigger" than we really are (the Pharisee who prayed in the temple next the the tax collector in Luke 18 comes to mind).

The church in Laodicea made this mistake. They said, "I am rich, have become wealthy and have need of nothing" (Revelation 3:17). Jesus responded to them by saying, in essence, "You don't realize how poor you really are." The sad part is that God can do nothing to help people who are self-sufficient, people who are "big" in their own eyes.

Jesus reminded us (both by his teachings and his life) that to be viewed as "big" in the eyes of God, we need to be willing to be viewed as "small" in the eyes of those around us, willing to serve, ready to find our significance not in our abilities, achievements, or possessions, but in the glory we bring to God in our lives.

"For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted."
 (Luke 14:11)
Have a great day!
Alan Smith
Helen Street Church of Christ
Fayetteville, North Carolina

WHAT ARE YOU AFRAID OF?

I'm afraid of snakes.  I don't like real ones.  I don't like plastic ones.  I don't like pictures of them.  I don't even want to see snake-skinned boots.  I think I would have a heart attack if one came into my presence.  Really.

I once worked with a girl who had a pet snake, and she thought it would be good to bring the snake to our work place to "de-synthesize" me and get me used to them.  Let's just say I strongly encouraged her NOT to bring that snake to work! But, even though I'm afraid of snakes and don't want them around me, it's not like I have to encounter them very often - just occassionally along the road (and amazingly one little tiny one came in our front door a few years ago!).  I don't think about snakes constantly. I don't worry about them.  I don't dream about them.  It's not something that consumes my life or leaves me afraid of doing things.  But, I don't want them near me.

Fear can keep us from doing things.  It can keep us from doing the things we need to do or should do.  Some fears we need to face.  We need to face them head on and conquer them.  God can help us face our fears.

The Lord is my Light and my Salvation--whom shall I fear or dread? The Lord is the Refuge and Stronghold of my life--of whom shall I be afraid?
Psalm 27: 1

For I the Lord your God hold your right hand; I am the Lord, Who says to you, Fear not; I will help you!
Isaiah 41: 13

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
1 John 4:18


What do you fear?  How do you face your fears?

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Wednesday's Woman of the Word - Eve

Several years ago I taught a Wednesday night ladies' Bible class that focused on women of the Bible. This study actually went on for two and a half years. It was interesting learning about so many women, from the ones who have a lot said about them in scripture, to those who only were mentioned by name.

I've kind of missed the in-depth study of these Biblical women lately, so decided that each Wednesday I would feature a post entitled: Wednesday's Woman of the Word. I hope you will enjoy looking closely at each of their lives and seeing how their life might relate to your own.

The most logical choice of which woman to look at first would be Eve - since she was the first woman mentioned in the Bible. Can you imagine what it would have been like to be Eve? It's hard to imagine what her life might have been like to me. For however many years it was just Adam and Eve - no other humans around. Strange to think of, isn't it?

Eve is known as the first woman, but she is also known for the very first sin. The sin of disobeying God by eating the fruit which God had told she and Adam not to eat.

"Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, "Did God really say, 'You must not eat from any tree in the garden'?"

The woman said to the serpent, "We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, 'You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.' "

"You will not surely die," the serpent said to the woman. "For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil."" Genesis 3:1-5


The major thing we can learn from Eve is that sin leads to sin. Even though the first sin of eating the fruit was wrong, Eve could have decided then to sin no more. Unfortunately, though, Eve gave the fruit to Adam. He didn't have to take it, but he did...and their eyes were open to their nakedness. To cover up their sin, Adam and Eve then tried to hide from God - something that didn't work then and still doesn't today. And lastly, Eve tried to blame her sin on someone else. Yes, Satan was the tempter, but it was by choice that Eve sinned.

It's easy for me to sit here and think to myself, "Why didn't Eve just obey? Why did she eat the fruit? That wasn't that hard of a thing to resist." But that's easy for me to say when I can read the whole story and see that because of that bad decision sin entered the world. But how many times do I disobey God? How many times have I been tempted by something that might seem really easy for someone else to resist? What would I have done if I had been in Eve's same situation - being tempted in that way by Satan? What would you have done?

I have hidden your word in my heart
that I might not sin against you.
Psalm 119:11

Monday, March 8, 2010

Gratituesday - A Weekend Getaway

Last Thursday my mom, sister Kimberly, and I went on a long weekend trip to Fredericksburg, Texas.  This was something my sister and I had been planning for six months, but surpirsed our mom with the announcement at Christmas (as part of a combined Christmas/birthday gift).  We had taken a one day trip to Edmond, Oklahoma a few years ago, but other than that we had never done anything like this together. It's not that we don't enjoy being together, but we're all so busy with our families and responsibilities...there's never time.  This time we decided to make the time.  I'm grateful that we did.
Mom and I left Thursday morning from Tipton, Oklahoma.  Kimberly left an hour or so later that morning from Lubbock, Texas.  We met in Abilene and left one of the vehicles with a friend.  After lunch, we headed towards Fredericksburg.
Our home for the long weekend was Peach Tree Inn and Suites
The manager was so sweet and kind. It's a great place to stay! They have little duplex-type rooms, which we stayed in, but they also have larger family-type rooms with kitchens.
We spent most of Friday and Saturday shopping.  There are so many different kinds of shops. We didn't really buy much, but had lots of fun looking!
Hen Feathers (home decor) - Isn't it a pretty building?
Sandwiches and Sweets - Lots of yummy desserts!
...more desserts...
Sandwiches, Soups, and of course....desserts!
Italian food - so good we ate there twice!  Yes, they had dessert, too.
Carriage rides....We didn't ride, but wanted to show our kids the picture.
Cute garden idea: bicycle with flower basket - this is at the Pie Company.
The Spunky Monkey - a toy store.
Besides the shopping, food, and just time together, we enjoyed Friday evening at the Rockbox Theater.  The cast was super-talented and made the show lots of fun and entertaining.  If you ever go to Fredericksburg, be sure to go to the show.  You'll be glad you did.

Sunday morning we woke up early and drove to Abilene to be there in time for worship.  We picked up the other car and ate a final lunch together before heading back to our homes and families.  

On this Gratituesday, I am grateful for "A Weekend Getaway"...a special time spent with my mom and my sister.  I'm glad we took the time to get away together and look forward to doing it again someday.

P.S.  I am also grateful for my husband and my brother-in-law. They are great dads who were willing and able to care for the kiddos in our absence.  It's great for daddies to have time to bond with their kids. 

P.S.S.  I am also grateful to my husband for filling in for me at our elementary school's annual Dr. Seuss Birthday Celebration.  I volunteered to teach the students about Mexico, but later realized that I wasn't going to be here that day.  He did a great job, so I've heard.  I'll post about that soon.

P.S.S.S. My daughter went with my dad to keep him company while my mom was away.  They had a good time at the Oklahoma Class A & B state basketball championship games for a few of the days.  That was a special treat for both of them to get to spend time together.

To see what others are grateful for, visit Heavenly Homemakers.

Hawaiian Roll Sandwiches

Posted by Lori:
I've been out of town for several days (which I'll write about tonight), but today I wanted to share a recipe with you, which was first published on my family's recipe blog, "Life's a Bowl of Cherries".  This recipe continues to be a favorite of ours, as well as most everyone who has eaten them.  I was given this recipe by one of my children's teacher's last year.

Hawaiian bread/rolls can be purchased at most supermarkets. If you are not familiar with them, they are sweet bread/dinner roll packaged in an orange plastic wrapper. Sometimes they are not with the regular breads on the shelf, but you know how supermarkets move stuff around so we have to search for them???? I have noticed these rolls keep moving locations so that I have to hunt for them! I think they do that on purpose....so we'll find something else we (don't) need.

Hawaiian Roll Sandwiches
24 King's Hawaiian Rolls
1 pound of ham, thinly sliced
3/4 to 1 pound sliced swiss cheese

To assemble sandwiches, slice the entire package of rolls at once to make the bottom layer. Place bottoms on a large cookie sheet. Add ham and cheese equally to each bottom and replace tops.

Mix together:
1 stick butter, melted
1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 Tablespoon onion flakes or powder
1 1/2 Tablespoons poppy seeds
3/4 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
Drizzle a little of the mixture over the ham and cheese layer before placing tops of rolls. Drizzle remaining mixture over the rolls. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes or until cheese is melted.

You can also use the huge round Hawaiian bread loaf.  The baking time will increase to about 40 minutes. Then slice into individual sandwiches to serve.
These are so yummy!! Enjoy!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

You've Got a Friend

Yesterday our small school (Pre-K - 12th grade) got three new students.  That's a lot in one day for a small school!  One of the new students is in our youngest son, Tyler's class.  This little boy and his older sister are new residents of Tipton Home (a children's home). 

Because my husband works at Tipton Home, he's aware when new kids come, so at dinner last night he asked Tyler about this new little boy.  Tyler said that the new boy was his partner and explained that it meant that he was supposed to show him some things around the class and help him with things.  I asked Tyler if he thought he and the new little boy could be friends.  His response has had me thinking all day.  He said, "I think we already are."

Isn't that sweet?  I don't know why that little boy is here and not with his biological family, but there's a reason.  And even though that little boy isn't quite and doesn't sit still and may get in lots and lots of trouble at school because of the way he acts, that little boy needs a friend.

Children make friends so easily.  They (usually) don't judge someone based upon first impressions.  They don't analyze people. I think that's why Jesus used "children" in so much of His teaching.  We adults could learn a lot from children, couldn't we?

"People were bringing little children to Jesus to have him touch them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.
Mark 10:13-14

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Babies are a Blessing

Sunday was a baby shower for a little girl who will make her debut in April.

We're planning the shower of another April baby....it's a boy. 

Today co-workers at my husband's workplace welcomed a new little baby boy into their family.  They now have two boys and a girl, plus they are "parents" to three or four other girls as they serve as houseparents at Tipton Home.

Our niece is having a little boy in July. The first great-grandchild in our family.

Friends are waiting to welcome a baby into their life as they pray and prepare to adopt.

Yesterday, a family of three welcomed quads into their life.  They more than doubled their family size in a short amount of time.  (To read more about this story, click here.)  The mother grew up here.  Her dad was our preacher.

Babies are a blessing. They are a gift from God.

Thank you, God, for babies!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The Chronicles of Biscuit - "I'm Not Braggin' or Nothin' "

The Chronicles of Biscuit (Nickname for our youngest son)
This is our daughter's FFA show pig.  His name is Berk.  Last weekend was our county livestock show and during the show, while Lauren was showing Berk, Biscuit said, "Mom, I'm not braggin' or nothin', but Lauren's pig looks pretty good."  I agreed.  Berk did look good - for a pig.  Personally, I like red haired pigs the best....don't have a clue what kind they are, but another son shows one of them!

Biscuit thought the judge should pick Berk as the Grand Champion.  Berk did good - even won his breed (which is Berk, actually), but he didn't win Grand Champion. I thought Biscuit's comment was interesting (though it wasn't proper English using not and nothin') because I wasn't sure he realized what braggin' meant.  I guess he did.

Braggin' is something we've tried to teach our children not to do, but it's been kind of hard at times.  There's a fine line between being proud in a braggin' way and being proud in a non-braggin' way.  Being proud is okay as long as we're giving God the credit and not wanting credit for ourselves.  The pride comes from knowing that our God-given talents and abilities are being used to His glory and not our own.

I love this version of Proverbs 16:18:
First pride, then the crash—
the bigger the ego, the harder the fall. (The Message)

Carry a Big Stick!

This Friday is our elementary school's Dr. Seuss Birthday Celebration.  Each year the students "travel" around to different rooms in the school and learn about different states or countries.  This year I volunteered to teach the students about Mexico. (Actually my husband is going to be teaching it for me, but that's for another post!)  Right now the plan is to make guacamole and fresh salsa for the students to try.  I'm also working on an adobe house made from lots of cardboard boxes.  For an extra-fun activity, each group of students is going to have a pinata.  They will be able to take turns hitting it until it bursts open. It has been fun studying and preparing the lesson for the students, but today I learned something very interesting about the pinata.

The origin of the pinata is actually believed to have come from China and then passed into other countries.  There are many speculations as to the meaning of the pinata, but most all of them point to religious practices and customs.  I found that to be very interesting.  It's something I never would have thought about until I found it studying today. One tradition has the following explanation for the pinata and the way it is hit by someone whose eyes are covered:  "You go around life with your eyes covered, trying to find the good things and working hard to get them." Another tradition says that the piƱata symbolizes the devil:  "You have to hit him hard to make him let go of all of the good things that he has stolen."

Here's a song that is sometimes sung while the pinata is being hit:

Spanish Version:
Dale, dale, dale,
No perdas el tino
Porque so lo perdes
pierdes el camino.

English Version:
Hit it, hit it, hit it,
Don't loose your aim.
'cause if you lose it
you'll loose your way!

Isn't the whole pinata thing interesting? I especially liked the idea of thinking of the pinata as the devil and hitting him hard! Beating him with a stick! The Bible says, "Resist the devil and he will flee from you," James 4:7. Imagine if we hit him over and over with a BIG STICK? He'd be sure to turn around and run if he knew we're gonna come out fightin' wouldn't he??

In America, pinatas are used for fun - many times for birthday party celebrations.  The connection to religion isn't something (that I know of, anyway) that we in America recognize at all.  But, the idea of the devil trying to "steal from us" is very real.  The devil is active and ready to devour Christians.  Let's carry a BIG STICK and get him!
 
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