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Friday, July 30, 2010

Into the Fire

You may remember one of the posts in May telling about the Tipton Elementary PTO tile project.  The students and faculty painted the tiles and picture above shows how they looked after being painted.  The tiles look good, but they are dull and muted in color. They actually look old, don't they?

 In June, the tiles were taken to Oklahoma City to be fired.   The transformation of the tiles is simply amazing!  As you can see in the pictures below, the colors are now bright and shiny.  I can't wait to get the planter project finished and for the students and elementary school faculty to enjoy the finished project! 
If these tiles had never been put into a very, very hot fire, they never would have become what they were supposed to be and what they were intended to be.  Sure, they would have been okay, but they wouldn't have been special.  They also wouldn't have been as strong.  Now look at them!  They are beautiful!  They have bright colors, a strong and shiny finish, and each of them is a very unique piece.  They are special.  They are made new.

This transformation only happened because the tiles were put in the fire...a very, very hot fire.  It took something extreme for them to change and for them to transform into what they were intended to be.

When someone decides to become a Christian he/she is making the decision to make a change...the decision to be transformed into what God wants them to be.  This decision - realizing that they are lost, realizing that Jesus wants to be their Savior, responding to God's open invitation to all for eternal life, the willingness to become "new" again - is the very first important part of the transformation.  But, the transformation shouldn't stop there.  And, if one is serious about living the Christian life, it won't stop there. 

The Bible has a lot to say about how a one should live after becoming a Christian.  Romans 12:1-2 is just one of the many verses that specifically talks about the transformation process of a Christian: 

"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."

In the Christian's transformation process, the body will live for God.  The mind will be renewed.  The Christian's mind will not think as the world thinks.  The Christian's mind will seek to do God's will and not his/her own will.

This transformation process isn't easy.  In fact, sometimes is will be downright difficult.  Just like the tiles went in to the very hot fire, Christians will face "hot" circumstances that may not be pleasant, but those times will help transform them into what God wants them to be - which is to be more like Jesus. 

Becoming like Jesus is a life-long commitment.  It's not a one time thing.  It's not a one day thing.  It's not a once a year thing, or even a once a week thing.  It's a 365/24/7 committment.  It's knowing and realizing, and even accepting the fact, that to be totally transformed, there is going to be some unpleasantness.  It's going into the fire.

There is going to be a process, and that process may be extreme.  It may be unpleasant.  But, just like the tiles transformation made them what they were supposed to be, the transformation of a Christian will make each of us what God wants us to be.

Let's go into the fire.  Let's be willing to be transformed.  Let's be willing to become more like Jesus.

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

We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.
Romans 6:4

Thursday, July 29, 2010

10 Ways to Ruin Your Children

This is a borrowed guest post via Trey Morgan's blog at http://www.treymorgan.net/. It has some GREAT points about how to ruin your children....if you're interested in ruining your children, that is!  I don't think any of us (or at least I hope not) would deliberately set out to do anything that would hurt our children, but unfortunately some things we may do to try to "help" our children are really not helping them at all. 

Thanks, Trey, for this post and for previous permission for me to borrow them from time to time!

10 Ways to Ruin Your Children

1. 10  LIE FOR YOUR KIDS. When a parent writes their child a note to school saying their child was sick orhad a doctor’s appointment, and really they just over slept…YOU are teaching them it’s OKAY to lie. Don’t you get it? NEVER lie to help cover up mistakes for your kids.

2. DON’T GIVE THEM ANY RULES. Just let them do what they want. They don’t need any direction.

3. AUTOMATICALLY THINK EVERYONE IS OUT TO GET YOUR CHILD WHEN THEY GET IN TROUBLE. Your child is perfect, how could they ever do anything wrong? If your child gets in trouble it’s got to be somebody’s fault, but surely not your kid’s fault. When I was a kid, if I got in trouble at school (yea, hard to believe), I got in trouble when I got home as well. Now days, when a child gets introuble at school, the parent thinks it’s the school’s fault, the teacher’s fault or the principal is picking onmy child! Have you ever thought that your child just might have done something wrong?

4. NEVER DISIPLINE YOUR CHILDREN. Discipline is overrated. Just always threaten to punish them without ever following through.

5. DON’T MAKE GOD A PRIORITY IN THEIR LIVES. They don’t need church, faith or a large dose ofGod these days. Instead let them discover their faith on their own…once they get older.

6. PULL STRINGS TO GET YOUR CHILDREN OUT OF TROUBLE. Actually, if your child has donesomething that deserves punishment, let them be responsible for their own actions. Don’t threaten tocall a lawyer, talk to the principal or talk to a superior to get your child out of trouble for somethingthey’ve done. Have you ever heard of “you reap what you sow” or you have to be responsible for yourown actions?

7. BE INCONSISTENT. Tell your kids to do one thing then you do another. Tell them not to lie, and then let them hear you lie. Don’t practice what you preach. INSTEAD…be the parent that’s brave enough toget up and turn off a television show that doesn’t need to be on. Teach them by your example. Let yourchildren see you consistently living what you preach. Be consistent.

8. GIVE YOUR KIDS EVERYTHING THEY WANT. They may think they need a new car, the latest electronic games and the best clothes, but sometimes you have to say, “No.”

9. STRIVE TO BE THEIR FRIEND MORE THAN THEIR PARENT. Believe it or not, your children need a parent more than they need another buddy I wholeheartedly believe in being friends with yourchildren, but not at the cost of giving up the role as their parent.

10. UNDERESTIMATE THE ROLE OF THE FATHER. This coming year 40% of the children born in our country will be born in a home where there is no father. We’ve quickly become a country where the men like to fool around, but they don’t like to stay around. Despite Ephesians 6:4 telling us that it’s the father’s role to train the children, fathers are not taking responsibility for that role. Men…man-up, it’stime to be a dad.

Can you think of any I missed????

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Modesty Matters

From the archives of "Shine Like Stars".  Originally posted November, 2009.

Does modesty matter to you?  Do you think about modesty as you go shopping for clothes for yourself or your family?


A few years ago I did several classes for women and teens on modesty.  (Modesty  is important for males AND females, and it can be about more than just clothing.  We can be immodest by the way we act and talk, but for this devotional thought, I'll concentrate on clothing.)  At that time, I also did extensive research on the subject.  In our society, it's sometimes hard to find modest apparel.  Much of the world does not care about modesty.  However, apparently God does care about modesty, because it's talked about in His Word.


“In like manner also that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with braided hair, or gold, or pearls or costly array, but (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works”. 
1 Timothy 2:9-10


While searching for information at that time, I came across a check list for modesty (link provided at bottom of post).  It's a great tool to use when examining your wardrobe and your attitude towards fashion. Ask yourself the following questions about modesty:


MODESTY CHECK LIST

· What statement do my clothes make about my heart?


· In choosing what clothes to wear today, whose attention do I desire and whose approval do I crave? Am I seeking to please God or impress others?


· Is what I wear consistent with biblical values of modesty, self-control and respectable apparel, or does my dress reveal an inordinate identification and fascination with sinful cultural values?


· Who am I trying to identify with through my dress? Is the Word of God my standard or is it the latest fashion?


· Have I solicited the evaluation of other godly individuals regarding my wardrobe?


· Does my clothing reveal an allegiance to the gospel or is there any contradiction between my profession of faith and my practice of godliness?


-----------------
So, what do you think?  Why should you care to be modest? Most importantly, because modesty is important to God. God doesn't care about being fashionable in the way the world does. He cares about the inside - about your heart. (I Samuel 16:7)  Modesty is a reflection of the heart.


You should also dress modestly because you should care about YOU! Your looks, your clothes, your physical attributes do not make you more valuable as a young woman of God. You are valuable as a young woman because God made you. You are His workmanship! (Ephesians 2:10) Wow! You were created unique and special. God made you that way so that you could glorify Him in all that you do.


Another reason to be modest is because of temptation. While boys and men are ultimately responsible for their own sin (Matthew 5:28) and desires, how you chose to dress can be a temptation to them. That does not mean you make them sin, but you may be the cause of the temptation - sometimes knowingly, but many times, unknowingly. If you do dress to deliberately draw attention to yourself or to certain parts of your body, please consider how this may be unpleasing to God. If you are a Christian, your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. (I Corinthians 6:19-20)


We (young, old, men, women) should all be careful that we don't care more about fashion and our popularity in the world than we do about our relationship with Jesus, who is the Savior of our life as Christians.  Our main goals in everything we do, even in the way we dress, should be to glorify God and to please God. Nothing else in life really matters! (I Corinthians 10:31)


For more information about modesty, click here.

Monday, July 26, 2010

The Chronicles of Biscuit - Hidden Talents

The Chronicles of Biscuit: Stories about our youngest son, Tyler, whose nickname is Biscuit.
(Photo: Biscuit playing hide & seek. He's hiding in the laundry hamper.)
Now....on to "The Chronicles of Biscuit":

Biscuit shares a room with his two older brothers, Zachary and Jacob.  If that sounds crowded - it is. (I must remember to be content....Philippians 4:11) Thankfully, it's a large room, but it gets really messy with all three boys, one closet, and very little storage.

Zachary and Jacob do a pretty good job keeping all of their things picked up and put away - for the most part.  But Biscuit?  Not so much. 

Sunday afternoon, Biscuit decided to surprise us all.  He announced he was going to clean up the whole room all by himself - even his brother's stuff! After a while Biscuit asked us to cover our eyes and walk down the hall to his room.  You wouldn't believe what he had done!  He had put EVERYTHING in place and had even straightened up all three of the small dressers. 

Amazing? YES!  Hidden talent?  I think so!

I knew Biscuit should be old enough to clean up better than he had been doing....his whole life....but I guess we just let it slide because the older two took care of it for him.  (An advantage of being the youngest in the family, I know.) I'm grateful that Biscuit desided to use the talent God blessed him with by cleaning up and straightening his room.  And, an added "good deed" thrown in by even cleaning up all of his brothers' things, too.  Hopefully that talent won't be hidden any more!

Hidden talents.  Do you have any hidden talents?  Is there any talent you're not using to it's fullest potential?  (Read Matthew 25:14-30... Parable of the Talents.  Jesus teaches that talents should not be buried.  Note:  A talent in that parable is referring to money, but the application is the same.)

I'm sure we could say we're not using a God-given talent - either at all or at least not to the degree we could be using it.

Let's make a point to be like Biscuit and decide to use a hidden or neglected talent this week!

This post is linked to Gratituesday at Heavenly Homemakers.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Durant Ladies' Day Tea

Saturday my daughter and I were privileged to attend a Ladies' Day Tea in Durant, Oklahoma. The theme for the event was "We Are Sisters", and I had been invited to be the guest speaker.

Sharing God's Word with a room full of sweet sisters in Christ is just the greatest blessing! It was something I had been looking forward to for several months. I'm thankful my daughter tagged along, as well. 

The ladies of the Northwest church of Christ did a great job planning for their annual event.  Several ladies signed up to help decorate tables and other parts of the room, others helped prepare food, some invited friends and neighbors, some sent out invitations, and still others prepared special favors for all of the guests.  One sister provided all of the teacups for the tables...at least 70 of them!   
I want to share some of the pictures with you of the decorated tables.  The women who decorated a table had an opportunity to share about their table towards the end of the event. 

This table was decorated in honor of a project called "Sit and Sew" where church ladies, as well as ladies from the community can get together and sew.
Table runners with the theme embroidered across the edge.  The small sewing machine was given to this sister by her parents when she was little.
Another decorated table with the theme "all things girl-y and pink"!  So cute and so sweet!
This table was filled with many gifts that had been received from secret sisters this particular women had had over the years.  Each gift had a special meaning to her and she honored their friendship in Christ.
A table decorated in the theme of "Sisters" - biological sisters, as well as sisters in Christ. It had a special book called "Sisters" on display, as well as family photos.

Birds were the theme of this table.  Sixty percent of the birds were this ladies' mothers, who has since passed away. 
One of the birds was dated to the 1920's.  It was a beautiful table!
This was the table where my daughter and  I sat.  This whole table was decorated in red and black because it was the table decorator's favorite colors.  Very elegant!
The embroidered napkins and napkin rings were the favors given to each guest in attendance.  How special!
As the speaker, I was also given a special quilted and embroidered wall hanging.  Thank you, sweet Christian sisters in Durant!  I love it!
And....what would a Ladies' Day Tea be without food?????  Well, it would have still been special, but the food was absolutely delicious!  Doesn't it look pretty?  I have posted one of the recipes on my family recipe blog (click here) and will post the others in the next few weeks.
And, of course, dessert!!  Many of those recipes will be posted, as well.
"We Are Sisters" - indeed.  As Christians, the blood of Jesus unites as sisters.  That bond we share is special. 

Thank you, God, for sisters!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Happy 14th Birthday, Zachary!

Time sure flies!  It seems like just yesterday I was excited to be having our second child.  It was a boy! And now, here he is.  Zachary is 14 years old.  (Note:  Here's my post about Zachary's birth, written on his 13th birthday.  It talks about him being diagnosed with Group B Strep after birth.)
Having no boys in our family (except my dad), it was a whole new experience for me....but an experience I had always prayed for. I was very thankful for our first child, our daughter, Lauren, but I'd dreamed of having lots of boys. I think I was on to something since 4 of our 5 children (1 stillborn) have been boys.
Zachary requested a gold-themed birthday party with Mexican food.  It's funny that Mexican food has been his favorite since he began eating table food.  It's just fine with be because Mexican food is also my favorite!  For Zachary's birthday party we had stacked enchiladas.  If you're interest, you can find that recipe here, on our family recipe blog.
Zachary wanted his party on the night before his birthday so that he could go golfing all day on his actual birthday.  My husband is taking all three boys and they are soooooo excited!  They're leaving bright and early. I think they're excited about being away from us "girls", too!  I can't blame them, and it is good for them.
Happy 14th Birthday, Zachary!  We love you and are thankful God blessed us with a son.  we looking forward to continue watching you grow as a young Christian teen.  Thank you for being you :).
Love, MOM

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Problem With Comparing

It's interesting to look around wherever we are and people-watch, isn't it?  Often times, when shopping in a mall, you can look around and see that some who are there are really not doing any shopping at all - they're simply people-watching.  Of course, most of the time those sitting on the chairs and couches doing the people-watching may also be waiting on their friends/family who actually are doing some shopping.  And, as we all will admit, most often the ones sitting at the mall are men who are waiting for their wives!  People-watching passes time and it's also enjoyable, isn't it?

We all have problems.  We all have difficulties.  But, we also have all been extremely blessed in one way or another.  The problem with people-watching is that sometimes it leads us to comparing ourselves with others.  We look around at others and all we see is what they are on the outside...we only see the physical attributes and abilities. We see their "things".

The problem with comparing is that we are setting ourselves up to fail.  There will always be someone better than you.  There will always be someone better than me.  There will always be someone prettier, more handsome, more physically fit, more healthy, more successful, more caring, more.......and the list goes on and on. When you and I compare ourselves to a standard that we see as "perfect" we are going to be discouraged.  We are going to feel like we can never measure up to that standard - because we can't.

Why do we compare ourselves to others, anyway?  Here are some of the reasons:  We want approval.  We want acceptance.  We want to know that we are okay...that we are normal.  But what's normal?  It's only a cycle on the washing maching :).  We're all different.  God made us each unique and special.  And, as the saying goes, "God didn't make junk!".

So, how do you and I stop comparing ourselves to others?  Here are five ways we can stop the comparing:

1.  Realize that you were created by God and for His purpose.

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
Genesis 1:27

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

2.  Realize that God gave His Son, Jesus, to die for you and to be your Savior.

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Romans 5:8

3.  Realize that you are worthy of God's love.  He doesn't care what kind of house you live in, what brand of clothes you wear, what kind of car you drive, or what brand of hand bag (sunglasses, flip flops, jewelery, etc.) you own.

How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!
1 John 3:1a

4.  Realize that nobody is perfect.  Everybody has gifts and abilities.  Everybody has imperfections and character flaws. (Jesus was the only perfect living person and he was put to death on a cross for you and I!)

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
Romans 8:1

5.  Realize that comparing yourself to others will most often cause you to think less of yourself.  Compare your life to God's standards (through studying His Word) and not the standards of the world.

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
Hebrews 4:15-16

So, go ahead and people-watch.  It's okay and it's sometimes fun.  But, don't compare.  Remember that they are human - just like you :).

"Oh, Be Careful Little Feet"

From the "Shine Like Stars" archives of May, 2009:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Before the face of God we walk with our feet.

Oh, Be Careful Little Feet Where You Go!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Laughter

What else could I do but laugh at myself?  It wasn't the first time it had happened, and I'm pretty sure it won't be the last.  My family laughed, too.

Sunday morning, right at the beginning of our worship service, I realized that I had forgotten to put the food in the oven that was to be our lunch for that day.  I had gotten up early that morning, put frozen chicken breasts in a casserole dish, poured barbecue sauce over the top and covered it with foil.  Potatoes were wrapped in foil, as well.  I had planned to put everything in the oven right as we walked out of the door for Bible class, but unfortunately, I forgot.  Usually I remind one of our children to remind me (the one who tends to be the best at remembering...and eating!), but I forgot to do that, too.

When we arrive home after worship on Sunday at noon, usually there is a pleasing aroma as we enter the house.  My son (the same one referred to above) will say, "It smells good, Mom".  This time there was nothing. No pleasing aroma, just two dishes of food waiting to be baked.

The dishes were placed in the fridge and baked the next day.  It made for an easy and quickly-prepared meal, for sure!  For the Sunday meal, we ended up going to eat at a favorite restaurant we haven't been to in a long time....an unexpected treat.

Laughter is good medicine, so it's been said.  If so, I give myself and my family plenty of material for laughter! But, even though I might be embarrassed sometimes, I'm grateful for the laughter in our family.

So, what have you done lately that has caused you to laugh at yourself?

This post is linked to Gratituesday @ Heavenly Homemakers.  To see what others are grateful for, visit Heavenly Homemakers - here.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

"I Will Not Sell Candy at Recess"

I only remember getting in trouble three times at school.  Once was for hiding under the teacher's desk in first grade.  It was during the Christmas party and my mom happened to walk in and find me.  I'm not sure the teacher got on to me, but my mom sure did!  Another time was in 7th grade, for talking (not surprisingly!).  There were three of us and all of us got a spanking with Mr. Trammell's paddle.  Immediately afterwards he went down to my mom's room (she taught 2nd/3rd grade then) and told her to not give me another one at home.  That was my parent's rule, but he didn't want me getting double punishment (how kind of him!).  Thankfully, they let me off the hook.  I think it was because my mom was in trouble for talking a few times as a child, too!

And then there was the third school offense.  This one was a little more serious, I suppose.  My twin cousins had moved to town and all three of us were in the 4th grade.  Their dad was our school superintendent.  My dad was on the school board.  We came up with a brilliant plan - so we thought!  Bubblicious and Hubba Bubba bubble gum had just come out.  As I recall we could buy a pack for 20 cents.  We bought gum and candy and sold it at recess to all of our elementary school.  What a "service project" we had come up with!  I still remember the little coin purse we had to put our money in.  I think we sold each piece of gum and small candy for 10 cents.  We were raking in the dough!  We thought we had come up with something really nifty - until we got in trouble.  We were told not to sell candy at recess anymore.

I'm not sure who got after us that first time, but apparently we didn't take it seriously or just decided to break that rule anyway.  We stocked up on more gum and candy that afternoon and carried on our new business the next day at recess.  Of course, we got caught and got in trouble, yet again.  This time I do remember who got on to us....Mrs. Mefford.  Mrs. Mefford made us write sentences - 100 each - saying, "I will not sell candy at recess."  I guess we pleaded with her to lesson our punishment.  I suppose it was more than our poor, tired hands could endure because she cut down our punishment to only 100 sentences between all three of us!  I don't know for sure who had to do the 34 sentences, but the other two would have done 33.  I kind of think she must have had mercy on us because our "crime" was such a brilliant idea (smile), don't you??

It seems that we ended up making about $3.50 from our candy sales.  Not bad for the late 70's.  We walked down to the grocery store and purchase a few items with our profits.  I remember a can of Pringles, but can't remember the rest.

The mercy granted to us by Mrs. Mefford is still a vivid memory to me today.  God grants us mercy and his mercy should be a vivid memory in our minds and in our hearts each and every day.  But unlike my selling candy crime, the crime of my sinful nature without Jesus is serious business.  It's serious business and is only forgiven through the blood of my Savior, Jesus Christ, and by the mercy of my Heavenly Father.

Mercy is essentially the out-flowing of love that seeks to satisfy anothers true needs with a willingness to forgive their faults.  God most definitely seeks to forgive our faults when we come to him through His Son and his out-flow of love is abundant.

My cousins and I didn't need mercy because our punishment wasn't very severe, yet we were still granted mercy. And, we were thankful for it (and so were our poor, tired hands :)!!  I need God's mercy and I'm very, very thankful for it.

You know, maybe I should feel guilty.  Maybe I should write those remaining 66 or 67 sentences and send them to my former 4th grade teacher.  Awww.....I think it'll be okay.....my hand might get too tired.  Hey!  Maybe now I could just type them out and email them to her!  No!  I've got it!  I'll type in in a text and send it to her 66 or 67 times.  What an idea :).

Thursday, July 15, 2010

You Are a Light!

My daughter, Lauren, made this Bible verse graphic today. Just thought I would share it with you.
Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Hammers and Nails

"If all you have is a hammer, then all of your problems look like nails." My husband, Joe, shared this quote with me tonight. "What a neat quote!", I thought. I started brainstorming post ideas using this quote. I was telling Joe these ideas when he burst my bubble. He said, "Lori, you're looking at this quote as a good thing, but that's being like Peter in the Bible." Joe was referring to the story from John 18, when Jesus is arrested. Peter cuts off the ear of the high priest's servant and Jesus tells Peter to put his sword away.

I was looking at the quote about the hammer as good: "Go tackle your problems." I was looking at it as an independent person who likes to be in control. Joe pointing out the fact that the quote was meant as a negative quote really made me think! It made me think even more when he said he thought of me right when he heard that quote on the radio today! OUCH! I know. He's right. It does fit me perfectly.

Do you, like me, try to be the hammer and think of your problems as nails? Do you, like me, independent and controlling (with some stubbornness thrown in) try to do things yourself? I struggle with this daily - not always recognizing that it is a problem.....until my sweet hubby points it out to me :).

Being a Christian is putting our lives totally in God's control. It is giving up our own independent, controlling attitudes and becoming dependent on Him....allowing Him to mold us into what He wants us to be. It's giving up that "hammer and nails" attitude. Is it hard? Absolutely! Harder for some of us than for others of us.

I think of the little song, "He's Still Working on Me" (lyrics below). Yep. He's got a lot of work to do, but I'm grateful He's willing to not give up on me. Thank you, God!

Chorus:
He's still working on me
To make me what I need to be
It took him just a week to make the moon and stars
The sun and the earth and Jupiter and Mars
How loving and patient He must be
'Cause He's still workin' on me

Repeat Chorus

There really ought to be a sign upon my heart
Don't judge him yet, there's an unfinished part
But I'll be better just according to His plan
Fashioned by the Master's loving hands

Repeat Chorus

In the mirror of His word
Reflections that I see
Makes me wonder why He never gave up on me
But He loves me as I am and helps me when I pray
Remember He's the potter; I'm the clay

Repeat Chorus (x2)


Yet, O LORD, you are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.


Isaiah 64:8

"Oh, Be Careful Little Minds"

From the archives of "Shine Like Stars". Originally posted in May, 2009.

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

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

What we think matters to God. Philippians 4:8 says, "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things." Have you ever taken the time to think about what you think about? Let me ask you again slowly: Do...you...ever...think...about...what...you...think...about? It good for us to take the time to analyze our thoughts. Take the time to think about what you think about. Make sure your thoughts line up with what God would want you to think about.

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, July 12, 2010

Power Boil

There's a neat feature on my new stove top.  It's called "power boil" and it's on the back left burner.  When I need to boil anything - it's great.  However, there's a down side to the "power boil" burner and that's when I forget that it is a "power boil" burner.  I've burnt several things forgetting just how hot that burner gets.  I'll get use to it, but it's going to take some time.

Some people seem to have a "power boil" setting.  Their internal temperature goes up at even the slightest hint of something not going their way.  As a young adult, I think I may have had a little bit of the "power boil" setting in me.  Thankfully God - with His Spirit - has worked in my life to teach me through the example of His Son, as well as through His inspired word, that the "power boil" setting isn't very becoming to someone trying to live a Christian life and set a Christian example.  I am grateful for God working in my life and getting rid of the "power boil" setting.

Another setting on the new stove top is "melt".  This is a small burner with the word "melt" just below the lowest temperature setting.  I used it today to melt butter for an icing recipe.  This "melt" setting just slowly melts whatever is in the pan.  It won't burn anything.  It won't scorch anything.  It just gently warms up the ingredient.  I think that's the setting that might be best for a Christian and here's why:  Suppose I come across someone with a cold, hard heart.  If I speak to this person with love, I can "melt" that cold, hard heart.  My "melt" setting would be just enough to help the hard heart, but would also warm the hearts of others I came in contact with each day.  I pray that God will continue to work in my life so that I may be that "melt" setting to others who need that warmth and love.

This post is linked to Gratituesday.  To see what others are grateful for, visit Heavenly Homemakers.



Sunday, July 11, 2010

You get what you pay for....sometimes!

See this hammock?  I was sooooo excited when I saw a hammock advertised in a store circular the week of Father's Day.  Years ago my husband had mentioned that he'd like a hammock, but we'd never bought one.  This one was advertised for $20.00. 
"What a great deal!", I thought. 

The next day I went to the store in a nearby town for the purpose of purchasing the hammock. I  found a hammock, but not the advertised, cheap one.  I asked a clerk and she said they didn't have the one advertised in stock.  I was disappointed!  After I returned home, I looked at the circular thinking it would say "Not all items available at all stores."  It didn't.  However, it did have an email address for the company.  I emailed them and said (very nicely) that I was disappointed the great deal/hammock wasn't in the store.  The next day I had an email saying that the advertised hammock would be at the store by the end of the week - two days before Father's Day!  Yippee!!

Well, I went to pick up the hammock. The first indication that something might be wrong was the fact that it came in a box about 24 inches long, but only 2 inches square around. It felt really light, too. But, it was CHEAP and it was a HAMMOCK and I was EXCITED! We gave the hammock to my husband. Two of our children were gone to camps for the week, but the other two helped him put it up. He bought a strong rope and got it just the right height, but then our older son tried it out. He almost touched the ground. They raised the hammock and got it the right height.

The above picture shows the smallest member of our family. You can tell that he is about to fall through the thing! In fact, shortly after this picture, he did fall through it! I took a picture of my husband on the hammock, but I'm not sharing it with you. It's just too funny! You can imagine how it might look, though, by seeing this picture of my husband and son, Zachary showing how wide it will stretch!
Yes, sometimes you get just what you pay for - and in this case.....I sure did!  I got a $20.00 hammock.  I quickly learned that there is a reason the hammock was only $20.00!  (On a positive note, I did appreciate the VERY GOOD customer service of the company:  Alco/Duckwalls and the hammock actually does look neat hanging from the trees.  And, we already have rope ready for when we buy another nicer and better-made hammock.)

To get good things, sometimes we just have to pay a little more.  If we choose not to pay more, sometimes the quality or results are not good.  But, you know what?  There is something that is totally free.  We don't have to pay for it.  In fact, someone else paid for it.  Salvation is a free gift bought and paid for by the blood of Christ.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Love (by Jacob)

A few weeks ago I gave my children a challenge to write a short devo about a character trait.  I told them I would use their devo as a blog post in the up-coming weeks.  Jacob chose the trait of "Love".
LOVE
by Jacob, age 12


Romans 12:9-21 says, 
"Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God's people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.

Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," says the Lord. On the contrary: 

"If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head." Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good." 

If you do this you'll be successful in life.  Love is the greatest as 1 Corinthians 13:13 tells us:  "And now these three remain:  faith, hope, and love.  But the greatest of these is love."


*** The end***


You know?  I just counted 26 commands in that passage Jacob used...Romans 12:9-21....and I might have missed a few!  I think Jacob is right.  If we could just be self-controlled and loving enough to just do those 26 things, we would be successful in life.  We would certainly be shining like stars, wouldn't we?


Thank you, Jacob.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Chronicles of Biscuit - "I Wanna Be Like Dad"

The Chronicles of Biscuit are stories about our youngest son, Tyler, whose nickname is Biscuit.

"I wanna be like Dad...except taller," quipped Biscuit recently.  Biscuit loves his dad.  He wants to imitate him.  He wants to be with him.  Of course Biscuit loves me, too, but he wants and needs that time with his dad - just man to man (well....man to boy, I should say!).
In the spring, while school was winding down, Biscuit would say he wanted to spend more time with his dad.  With our busy schedules of my husband's work, yard/garden/goat raising, and school activities, the father-son alone time with Biscuit just didn't work out.  In fact, it seemed like we were barely all home together at any time.
This summer has been great for Biscuit and his dad to have some special time together.  My husband coached Biscuit's baseball team, they walked over to different sections of the Ranger's Ballpark at two different games (Biscuit thought that was really special, though to us it seemed so simple!), and recently Biscuit drove the lawnmower and 4-wheeler with his dad.
There's something special about a father-son relationship.  Just think about the relationship of God and His Son, Jesus!
My favorite "daddy" poem is "Walk a Little Slower, Daddy".  I used it last year, but here's the link if you've never read it.  It's so sweet!

I found another poem to share with you about dads.  It's great, too!

To Any Daddy
There are little eyes upon you,
And they're watching day by day;
There are little ears that surely
Take in every word you say;
There are little hands all eager
To do everything you do.
There's a little boy who's dreaming
of the day he'll be like you!
You're that little fellow's idol,
You're the wisest of the wise.
In his little mind, about you
No suspicions e'er arise;
He believes in you devoutly,
Holds that all you say or do
He will say and do, in your way,
When he's all grown up like you.
There's a wide-eyed little fellow
Who believes you're always right;
His keen ears are always open
To catch your words, day or night.
You are setting an example,
Every day, in all you do,
For the little boy who's wanting
to grow up to be like you.
- Isabelle Tucker
 
And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.
Ephesians 6:4

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Who's Your Bestie or BFF?

I've noticed many people talk about their "bestie", meaning their best friend.  Others use the acronym BFF, meaning "best friends forever".  Having good friends is great.  Having a best friend(s) is extra-special.  In a marriage, I believe it's extremely important for your husband (or wife, if a male) to be your best friend - above any other friendships you may have.  However, above your relationship with your "bestie" or your "BFF", or even your spouse, should be your relationship with Jesus Christ.

Jesus Christ as your best friend is the most important thing you could ever have in your life.  Having Him as your friend makes you a child of God and your relationship with Him is the only way to be part of the family of God.

Jesus wants to be your friend.  He wants to be my friend.  Do you and I want him to be our "bestie" or "BFF"?


Lyrics to "I'll Be a Friend"


They tried my Lord (they tried my Lord) and Master
With no one to (with no one to) defend
Within the halls (within the halls) of Pilate
He stood without (He stood without) a friend



Chorus:
I'll be a friend (I'll be a friend) to Jesus
My life for Him (my life for Him) I'll spend
I'll be a friend (I'll be a friend) to Jesus
Until my years (until my years) shall end


To all who need (to all who need) a Savior
My friend I (my friend I) recommend
Because He brought (because He brought) salvation
Is why I am (is why I am) His friend

Monday, July 5, 2010

Something is Missing


Note: This post is linked to Gratituesday, from Heavenly Homemakers. It is written by Tom Norvell of "A Norvell Note" and used by permission. It sure makes one think about their priorities....or it least it did me!

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

Something Is Missing

      Something is missing. 

      We spend enormous amounts of energy when it comes to sports, business deals, and political conversations. We show great excitement over good grades, delicious meals, and the latest blockbuster movie. Yet, we sit on our pews acting bored while someone simply tells the story of the cross. 

      We are completely engrossed in a story about an abandoned puppy, the latest political gossip, and information about our newest electronic gadget. We participate in grand displays enthusiasm when our team scores, when our candidate wins, and when our favorite performer wins an award. Yet we check our voicemail while our daughter tells us about her Sunday School lesson.

      We arrive at the theater twenty minutes before the movie begins, we are in our seat an hour before kick-off, and we arrive at the golf course thirty minutes before our tee time. Yet we cannot seem to leave home early enough to make it to a church gathering until well into the service.

      We shed tears when the movie gets gushy, we get weepy during greeting card ads, and we get choked-up when we see photos of a newborn baby. We scream and shout for the home team, we put team logos on our vehicles, and we travel long distances to show our support for our team. But, we make sure we keep our emotions in check when we stand in the midst of our brothers and sisters singing praises to the Lord so that no one will accuse us of being "out of control."   

      We rush to the bookstore and stand in line for hours for the latest bestseller, we make sure we get our name on the list for the not-yet-out-still-being-designed smart phone, and we push and shove our way through the crowds to get a glimpse of a super star. But, we see no need and have no desire to take advantage of quality opportunities for spiritual enrichment in our own church or in our own community.

      We have lengthy conversations about weather, sports, work, a delicious meal, what great gas mileage we got on our last trip, and love to catch up on our favorite television show. But we can't seem to find a way to ask our friend about his spiritual life.  

      We'll stay up late to watch the replay of the game, we'll get up early to be in the woods before daylight, and we'll work late to make the overtime. But we rush through the Lord's Supper and skip Bible class on Sunday morning because we have really important stuff to do. 

      We sit for hours in front of our televisions watching news from around the world, celebrity cooking shows, and comedians telling us what is wrong with our culture. But we find it almost impossible to sit through a twenty-minute message from the Word of God without losing our concentration or needing to go to the rest room.  

      Something is missing. What is it? 

       "Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. (Colossians 3:1-3, NIV)

      Is it possible that the something that is missing has to do with the direction of our heart? Is it possible that our minds are more focused on things on of this earth than on things above? 

      Something is missing. 

Tom

A Norvell Note © Copyright 2010. Tom Norvell All Rights Reserved.

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Thursday, July 1, 2010

"Oh, Be Careful Little Mouth"

This lesson was originally posted on May 22, 2009.  It is part three of a series entitled, "Oh, Be Careful Little."

Oh, Be Careful Little Mouth What You Say!

I mentioned in a post a few days ago that I used the song, "Oh, Be Careful Little Eyes What You See" in a lesson I did at a Bible Teacher's Workshop. I went into the other verses of the song as well, so from time to time, I will use them as posts. Today let's consider, "Oh, Be Careful Little Mouth What You Say". I also mentioned in that same post to think about the Latin phrase, "Coram Deo", which means, "Before the face of God."

We say thousands of words a day, but what do we say with those words? How do we use our words?
What do others hear when they are around us? Uplifting words? Clean words? Kind words? Dirty words? Unkind words? What words do we speak before the face of God?

The words we say can heal wounds, but our words can also tear others down. Just yesterday someone said something to my husband about his weight. Something very rude, actually! And even worse, this is the 2nd time someone has said something like this to him. Yes, he could loose some weight, but he knows that without anyone having to tell him, just like we all do if we need to loose some weight! Things like that are hurtful and what this person must not realize is that men have feelings, too. Would these men say something like this to a woman? Why say something like that to anyone?

I have to say that it was VERY hard for me to have self control about this yesterday. In fact, I would have called the person right then! But, my husband asked me not to and I won't. I did go for a long walk and prayed about it, of course. Now I'm writing about it because it goes so well with this topic and it makes my point so well!! I kept thinking yesterday of a momma bear trying to protect her cubs, although my husband's not one of my "cubs"....he's the daddy bear!

Yes, the words we say are so important. Our words can encourage and build people up; however, our words can discourage and even destroy people, as well. Within families we can build each other up (in an honest, truthful, and uplifting way - not with false flattery) like no one else can, and we can also destroy each other like no one else can.


Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. Ephesians 4:29



Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. Proverbs 12:18

So, how should we use our words to God's glory and before His face? These verses tell us:

May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer. Psalm 19:14

Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. Colossians 4:6

Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that confess his name. Hebrews 13:15

In the Bible, James talks about the tongue and how it is hard to control, but let's think of the tongue in a positive way. We can use our tongues for good. We can tell others about God. We can tell them about Jesus. We can share with them God's Word and tell them about salvation through Jesus. We can also use our mouths to speak kind and encouraging words to others who need to hear them.

So, how do you use your mouth and your words?

Before the face of God, we use our mouths.

"Oh, Be Careful Little Mouth What You Say. "

The Chronicles of Biscuit - Gum and Discipline

The Chronicles of Biscuit - Stories about our youngest son, Biscuit, who is 7 years old.

Yesterday Biscuit broke a gum-chewing rule.  When spitting out their gum in the van, we've made a rule that our children must first wrap the gum in a tissue.  This rule is to prevent the gum from getting stuck in the carpet, on the seat, or even in the little trash section we have in the van.  Hot chewed gum is a recipe for disaster!

Well, just as I glanced in the mirror on the way home yesterday, I noticed Biscuit putting his gum in a piece of a plastic JCPenney sack.  He was tearing the sack, had the gum stuck to it, but wasn't being successful getting it torn.  There were clothes in the sack, too, so that was a big concern for me.  I asked Biscuit what he was supposed to do with the gum, and why he was not doing what he was supposed to do.  Of course, he didn't have a good answer because he wasn't doing the right thing. As punishment, I told Biscuit he couldn't have gum for a week.  He understood.

Today we were again driving in the van.  Biscuit said he wished he could have gum.  Do you ever forget a punishment you've given?  I do - quite often, actually!!  But Biscuit remembered.  In fact, he said that while visiting his sister at church camp the evening before, she had offered him a piece of gum.  He told her that he was in trouble and that he couldn't have a piece.

I was so proud of Biscuit for telling his sister that he was in trouble and for him even remembering.  I would have understood if he had forgotten (since I, myself had forgotten), but he didn't.  I told Biscuit how great it was that he chose to do the right thing and didn't take the gum.  I told him how proud I was of him for telling his sister about the punishment.

Sometimes we think we may not be getting through to our children when it comes to discipline.  Sometimes it seems like it's not worth the effort - that it's easier to just give in, but in reality, it's not.  Discipline is hard sometimes and many times it makes it harder on the parent than it is for the children, doesn't it?  But, it's for their own good.  It helps them learn self-control  It helps teach them the difference between right and wrong.

Way to go, Biscuit!  I love you and I am so proud of you.   (In case you're wondering, though, Biscuit still isn't getting gum until next week.  I want him to remember the rule and not break it again!)  And, this time - I won't forget!
 
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