Friday, July 29, 2011

The Chronicles of Biscuit: It's "Beginst" the Law

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

This morning I took all three of our boys golfing.  As Biscuit teed off the ball on hole eight, he jumped into the cart and asked, "Mom, did you see that?"  I answered truthfully, "No.  How did you do?"  Biscuit replied, "I hit a bird!"  I asked, "You did? Did you kill it?"  Biscuit said, "No. I don't think so." Then added,  "Is that "beginst" the law?"  I told Biscuit it was okay....that he just accidentally hit the bird. No laws were broken.

I know I should correct Biscuit in him saying "beginst" instead of "against", but it's just one of those cute 'little kid' things that I really don't want to change right now!  However, I got to thinking about how Biscuit uses the word and also how he cared about whether or not he was breaking a law.  I realized that by saying "beginst" Biscuit is actually stating what we do when break a law:  We are BEing AGAINST that particular law!  So, in reality, Biscuit's interpretation of the word makes sense!

Are you concerned about doing things that are "beginst" the law?  Do you care to obey the laws of our land, of our government, the "rules" in your workplace, home, school?  What about God's laws?  Are they important to you?

Under the Old Law, the children of God had strict rules and laws about how to live and how to sacrifice.  Christ died on the cross as a final sacrifice, so that no more sacrifices would need to be made.  His death became the final sacrifice for our sins.  Without that final sacrifice, we would have no hope.  We would never be able to follow every rule, every guideline, every law that was given.  The old covenant was imperfect. God knew that, so He gave up His Son, Jesus, as our Savior.  The new covenant was perfect because of the perfect sacrifice.

But the ministry Jesus has received is as superior to theirs as the covenant of which he is mediator is superior to the old one, and it is founded on better promises. For if there had been nothing wrong with that first covenant, no place would have been sought for another. Hebrews 8:6-7


But what about those laws of old?  Do they matter?  They absolutely matter!  Those laws pointed out what was sin and what was not sin; however, because the old covenant couldn't take away sins, those laws pointed us to a new covenant with God....a new covenant with a once-and-for-all sacrifice for sin! 

Those old laws was written for us to learn, just as all scriptures were:  All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,  so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. Romans 15:4


The old law was nailed to the cross.  We now no longer live by the law, but by the grace of God. 

When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. Colossians 2:13-14

However, just because we are not under the law....we are not required to sacrifice for sins, does that mean we can sin willingly and knowingly just as we please?  Can we take advantage of the death of Jesus and of His cleansing blood?  To quote the scriptures, "BY NO MEANS!"  Because of our salvation, because of our love for God and for Jesus, because of the gift of the Holy Spirit, we should want to stay away from sin!

What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 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 6:1-4

Jesus wants His followers to do the things they do because of the love they have in their hearts for God and for man. He wants disciples who obey Him because they love him. He said, "If you love me, keep My commandments" John 14:15.

Just as Biscuit was concerned that hitting a bird was "beginst" the law, we should be concerned about the laws of God.  The laws of God show us what is sin and sin can separate us from God.  God's grace is able to take away that sin....but only if we are for him and not "beginst" him.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Happy 15th Birthday, Zachary!

When I was young, it seemed like the years went by slowly.  I was always wishing they would go faster.....faster for the next birthday.....faster for Christmas......just faster.  Now that I'm older and our children are getting older, I want the years to go by slower, but they don't!  The funny (strange) thing is that even our children think the years are going fast!  It's just the nature of our fast-paced society! 
So, here I am, blogging about our second-oldest child's 15th birthday. Wasn't it just yesterday that we brought Zachary home from the hospital???? It sure seems like it!  However, I know that it is true.  He's really fifteen!
Zachary, though very specific about the food he wanted for his birthday, didn't seem to care what his cake looked like or what his party "theme" was going to be.  I suppose that's just the way it is with teenage boys!  I found some neat party plates at Target and they became the inspiration for his party.  Daughter, Lauren, made the party banner.  So cute!
For table decorations, I cut shapes out of colored paper....colors that matched the plates and napkins. Another son, Jacob, has a marble collection and the marbles and strips of curled paper tucked into glass vases made perfectly colorful centerpieces!
The cake was also decorated using the party ware colors. It was a quickly-made cake, so it's not perfectly flat and smooth, but it worked out well and was very tasty!
On Zachary's actual birthday, during the past weekend, we took a family trip to Arlington, TX. During our late-morning breakfast/early lunch at Cracker Barrel, the waitresses treated Zachary to "Coca Cola Chocolate Cake" and ice cream. He was a little embarrassed that they sang to him, but didn't seem to mind the free dessert!
The afternoon was spent at Texas Rangers' ballpark for a Junior Rangers question and answers event (our younger two participate in the program and the rest of the family got to tag along) and then a baseball game that evening. So much fun! The Rangers won in an exciting and close game!

July 27, 2011 - A Letter on Your 15th Birthday!

Zachary,
We are so very proud to have you as a son!  You are a great Christian example to others!  We appreciate you for who you are and for what you do to help us and others.  We look forward to seeing how God will use you as you strive to be His servant!

You are our GPS and we couldn't make it without you. (literally that is usually true...especially in big cities!)  You step up as a leader and "head of the house" when your dad isn't home and are much more mature than your age would imply!  As a mom, I appreciate that you are so willing to take charge (in a respectful way) and do whatever needs to be done.  You are a great role model for your brothers, even though they might now want to admit it! 

Thank you for your work ethic, for your leadership abilities, but most of all, thank you for making the decision to follow Jesus.  We look forward to watching you  continue in your walk.

We love you very much,
Mom and Dad

Monday, July 25, 2011

"Do Unto Others"

So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.
Matthew 7:12

Everybody is different.  I think we would all agree on that point and consider it a true fact.  This fact has been very evident in our house today.

Our second oldest child, son Zachary, turned fifteen Saturday. His family birthday party is tomorrow night and he has been very "demanding" (in a kind way) about what he wants for his meal.  He wants pulled pork sandwiches on Kings Hawaiian Roll bread, Ramen Noodle Salad, and Banana Slush Punch with his meal, cake, and ice cream.  

In early June, our third child, son Jacob, turned thirteen.  A "biggie" birthday.  Here was the conversation about his birthday party.  

Me:  What do you want for your meal, Jacob? 
 Jacob:  I don't care.  Anything is fine.
Me:  What kind of cake do you want?
Jacob:  Whatever is easiest for you, Mom.

There is a BIG difference in these two boys!  I love them both, appreciate them both, and enjoy them both!  Their likes are different.  Their dislikes are different.  Their personalities are different.  Their responses are different.  

It's kind of funny that the calmer, non-caring one in the birthday party example, is actually the one who has to work on his temper and attitude.  The more "specific-food-minded" one is actually the one with the calmer, easy-going personality.  They are both different and both unique, just as our other two children are also different and unique.

The verse listed above is commonly known as "The Golden Rule".  My husband and I have been discussing this "rule" lately.  He has asked me and has brought it up in Bible class before if this "treat others the way they want to be treated" is as it seems.  Specifically, should we treat others the way we, ourselves, want to be treated, or rather.....should we treat others the way "they" would want to be treated.  What do you think?

Before you answer, think of the personalities of two of our boys that I've written about above.  The way they want to be treated is different because their personalities are different.  If we, as their parents, "treated" them both the same, would that be a good thing?  We love them the same.  We take care of them the same, but we treat them different just as they treat us different - by their different personalities.

In our parenting of these two boys, as well as our other two children, we actually are careful to parent them the way that they need for their own personalities.

When I think of "The Golden Rule", I think of being a servant.  I think of helping others, caring for the sick, etc.  For me, "treating others the way I want to be treated" means that I am going to go out of my way to help others and to serve others. For me, talking to others is a way of doing just that.  I am very much a people person and a communicator.

On the other hand, my husband is more of a quiet person (in this way...not all ways :)!!)  He is more time-minded.  He is more work-minded.  He will help others and does, but it's in different ways than I do.  If he were to "treat others the way he wants to be treated" would mean no visiting at the hospital, no phone calls or emails of concern, and no analyzing ways to help others.  He isn't going to do or want to do some of the things that seem natural to me because he, himself, wouldn't want those things being done for him.  If he treated the sick the way he would want to be treated, the sick wouldn't ever be visited or tended to!  He's not the typical sick husband!  If he's sick he doesn't want ANYONE (even me) catering to him or doting on him!  He wants everyone to stay away!  

So, maybe when we think of "The Golden Rule", we need to treat others kindly and considerately like we may also want to be treated, but also think about how the people themselves might want to be treated.  Sometimes, in thinking that way, it may be different than what we might think is "right".  But, we have to remember that in many or most things, different responses to things doesn't always mean "wrong".  It's just different.

People will react differently to sickness in themselves, illness of a family member, death of a loved one, personal trials, pain, and other stresses.  They will respond differently.  They will reach out differently.  They will cope differently.  They will expect different responses from their friends and family.  But, different doesn't mean "wrong".  To quote a friend who made a wise statement recently:  "I have to remind myself a lot that you never know how you will go through something until you are there."

The only wrong way we could act or respond to certain situations, was if we failed to rely on God during any of these examples.  If our fear and worry about the situation takes over, instead of our faith in God and gaining our strength from Him, then we've got trouble.  If our inability to get out of our comfort zones in order to serve and help others, then we've got trouble.  God wants us to "do unto others" as His Son, Jesus would have done and actually did do.  In everything and in every way, Jesus served others.  We can imitate him by serving others....and sometimes our "serving" of others will be different than what we might think. It will be serving them the way they want to be served.....the way they need to be served.

On this Gratituesday, I am grateful for God's Word, the example of His Son in the way He showed "The  Golden Rule" to everyone, and for Him creating us all different.  What an awesome Creator!

Join us for Gratituesday at Heavenly Homemakers!

A Great Question

I would like for you to ask yourself this question today:

If you woke up tomorrow with only what you thanked God for the night before, what would/wouldn't your morning look like?

A friend posted this question on Facebook yesterday, and it really made me think.  Does it make you think, too?

No matter how good/how bad our prayer life may be, it can ALWAYS be better.  Let's work on making it better this week and think about this question as we pray.

Have a great Monday!

Praise be to God, who has not rejected my prayer or withheld his love from me! Psalm 66:20

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints. Ephesians 6:18

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

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. Philippians 4:6








Thursday, July 21, 2011

Blessings Among the Heat and Drought

Southwest Oklahoma, as well as other parts of the U.S., have seen record setting numbers of days with temperatures of over 100 degrees.  We have also been having a drought.  Our small town of Tipton has had only a few sprinkles and immeasurable rain only once or twice since October.  It's hot.  It's dry.  It's extremely hot!  It's extremely dry!

Our county has issued a water restrictions, where city water can be used for livestock daily, but lawns can only be watered a few days a week.  There has been a burn ban in effect for many months.  Cotton crops are suffering.  Herds of cattle and other livestock are being sold early.  The heat and drought are causing problems for farmers and those in the farming industry.

How can blessings be found among these problems?  What good can be seen from any of this?  Well, for one, there are not many flies this summer!  Not nearly as many as there usually are at this time of year!  Another thing we've noticed is that there aren't any mosquitoes to speak of.  That's a huge blessing when a few years ago the threat of mosquito borne illnesses were a hot topic throughout this area.

My husband and one of our friends see the blessing of no worms with their livestock.  When there is a lot of rain, the threat of worms getting into the ground and in the feed of the livestock increases greatly.  In years past this has been a huge problem causing some loss of life in some of the livestock.  The lack of rain has eliminated this problem this year.

And finally, because there hasn't been rain, there hasn't been much mowing going on.  We have well water for our lawn, so we have to mow quite often, but our field next to the house usually needs mowing several times a month hasn't needed it once at all this year.  My husband and son also mow lawns for people and they haven't had to do it very often, either.  Although they make a little money doing it, they are having more time to do other things since they aren't mowing as much.  Another blessing!

Sometimes it's hard to see blessings in the midst of trouble, trials, sorrow, sickness, or pain, but in each of those areas there are always blessings to be seen.  We just have to open our eyes and look for them.  We have to want to see them.  We have to expect to see them.

God is faithful and blesses us in so very many ways.....even in the heat and drought.  Thank you, God, for your blessings!!

Take the time to read this passage today:  Deuteronomy 28:1-12

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Chronicles of Biscuit - Camp Countdown




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

Biscuit was crying on the Wednesday night of camp during the last evening devotional.  Tears were streaming down his sweet little face.  I asked him what was wrong - in the midst of my own teary eyes.  He said that he was sad that camp was almost over.  I told him I was, too, but that we still had a few more days to enjoy being there.

Biscuit went on to say that he loved singing the devotional songs.  I agreed with him.  I encouraged him that next year he would be old enough to attend camp at the 4th - 7th grade session.  He said, "But that's not where all my friends are.  They are at this session. (which is the 7th - 12th grade session)."  I reminded him that a few of the bigger kids often serve as conselors for the younger session.  He wasn't phased by my logic.  He was still crying.  It was so sweet.

This morning, a few minutes after Biscuit woke up, he was crying.  I wasn't sure what was wrong, so I asked him.  He replied, "I miss camp.  It's a whole year until we go back."  He says this same thing every few days.  He even has this camp countdown posted by his dresser to mark off the days.  He wants his 3rd grade to go by quickly so that it will be time for camp again.

Biscuit's tender heart loves camp because of the closeness that is there between the campers and counselors.  There is a special feeling recognizing that God is in the midst there....just as He is everywhere. Biscuit loves singing praises to God with all of his friends at camp.  His "friends" are all 8 - 20 years older than him. It's so sweet! 

Oh, that we all would have a heart like Biscuit and other children!!  It's no wonder that Jesus loved the little children and stated that we should all be as children.  Their hearts are so pure.

On this Gratituesday, I am grateful for Biscuit, for camp, and for the hearts of children.  Join us for Gratituesday at Heavenly Homemakers!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Living to Please God

Do you ever stop to think about what pleases God and what doesn't please God?  In a world that shouts out to all who are in it, "Do your own thing!"...."Do what it right for you and only you!" and other self-sufficient-type motto's, thinking about what pleases God isn't the norm.  However, in the life of a Christian, we must constantly strive to live our lives to please Him.  That is His will for us - that we will live a life pleasing to Him.  That doesn't mean that we will or can live a perfect life.  None of us are perfect and never will be, but as a Christian, it should be our mission to try to live a life worthy of the calling we have received.

His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.
2 Peter 1:3-4

In 1 Thessalonians 4:1-12, the heading in my NIV Bible says, "Living to Please God".  Paul was writing to the church in Thessalonica, but these same scriptures are for Christians today, as well. 

As for other matters, brothers and sisters, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more. For you know what instructions we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus.

It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable,  not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God; and that in this matter no one should wrong or take advantage of a brother or sister. The Lord will punish all those who commit such sins, as we told you and warned you before.  For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. Therefore, anyone who rejects this instruction does not reject a human being but God, the very God who gives you his Holy Spirit.

Now about your love for one another we do not need to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love each other. And in fact, you do love all of God’s family throughout Macedonia. Yet we urge you, brothers and sisters, to do so more and more,  and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.

So, what can we learn from these passages about living to please God? Let's look at four things we can learn:

1.  First of all, Paul commends the Christians for living to please God, but urges them to do it more and more.  So, in our lives, we shouldn't be content with our spiritual walk, but always strive to do more.  We can strive to be more like Jesus.  We can strive to please God more and more. 

2.  God wants us to be sanctified.  He wants us to be holy.  Both of these words (sanctified and holy) mean to be set apart.  Sanctification is the process of making holy.  So, as Christians, God's Spirit at work in us and the blood of Jesus cleansing us of sin sanctifies us and makes us holy.

What is part of that process?  The above passage says that by fleeing sexual immorality, we will be sanctified.  This is a huge way Christians can be and should be set apart from what the world believes is right.  The world says sexual relations before marriage and outside of marriage is okay.  God's Word says that it is not.  The world says it's normal for teenagers to be sexually promiscuous.  God's Word says that is sin.  The world says homosexuality is acceptable and in some places even idolized.  God's Word says this is sin very plainly.

3.  God wants us to live self-controlled lives.  Specifically these passages are dealing with sexual desires, but they can also carry over into other areas of life. Anything that we put in place of God or in front God becomes an idol to us.  The Israelites worshipped statues made of gold.  Our idols may come in different forms:  money, careers, entertainment, hobbies, shopping, etc.

4.  God expects His children to act like His children.  It seems that many Christians believe that once they have received salvation and have been freed from the bondage of sin, that they can live any way they chose to live, but God's Word says this is not true.  In fact, Paul, through the inspiration of God gives this warning in verse 8: Therefore, anyone who rejects this instruction does not reject a human being but God, the very God who gives you his Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit was given to help us and when we reject His teachings and His commandments, we are rejecting Him.


Living to please God always matters.  It should matter to you.  It should matter to me.  Living a life that is holy is living a life that is pleasing to God.  And though we may be living that kind of life, as the scriptures above point out.....we should strive to continue doing it more and more.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Making Memories Craft Project

Last week my mom and I went in a new shop that had opened in Altus, OK.  There was a cute frame that had been made into a photo holder. 
This week my daughter has been changing up her turquoise and white bedroom, but adding black as an accent color, so I told her about the frame idea.  She decided to try it!
First of all, get an old frame (or a new one, but we had an old, unused one in a closet).  Paint the frame as desired. 
Put desired number of eye hooks down two sides (Lauren did three on each side, making three rows for photos), being careful to measure and screw them in directly across from each other.
Tie on wire (like framing wire), twisting to secure each end.  You may want a little slack in the wire, but not too much.
Purchase mini clothes pins (Walmart has them.)  Paint them in a desired color or leave them natural.
Attach photos to wires with the clothes pins.  We made the pictures using black ink only to go with Lauren's room.  We also made the pictures in various sizes to add interest.
Notice the theme to most of Lauren's pictures???  Texas Rangers games on all but a few!  Yes, she's a huge fan!
The frame can be hung by a nail on the frame itself or tie ribbons for added "cuteness"!
Loop the ribbon on the top two corners, tie a bow, and hang on  a nail.  You could also bring two ribbons together and tie at the top to directly hang on the nail.  There are lots of possibilities!
This is a quick project that adds a sparkle to any room, but it's also a very useful way to display all of those special photos!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Frugal Living

When you hear the word "frugal", what do you think of?  My own definition is when someone doesn't just spend money to spend it, but one who spends it wisely.  It would also be for when someone researches to get the best deal on an item - not just buying it as soon as it's found.  But that's my interpretation.  Let's see what others define this word as being:


(From Wikipedia).......Frugality has been defined by modern behavioral scientists as the tendency of acquiring goods and services in a restrained manner, and resourcefully using already owned economic goods and services, to achieve a longer term goal. Dictionary definitions of frugality focus on being sparing, thrifty, prudent or economical in the use of consumable resources such as food, time or money, avoiding waste, lavishness or extravagance.


Most of us are frugal to some degree.  I am in some ways, but not in others.  Example:  Tonight we surprised our four children with a late night showing of Cars2 at a nearby theater.  For many, this kind of outing is normal, but for us it isn't.  We only see one or two movies a year (an occasional third one thrown in.)  For us it is a waste of our money because we would rather just wait a short month or so and buy the DVD.  (There aren't too many we'll buy or even want to watch due to content, anyway.) For others it is their habit to see movies on opening night or soon after. 


On the other hand, we've been to four Texas Rangers' baseball games this year.  Some seats have been really inexpensive....others have been more expensive.....yet we do it.  Why?  For us, it is worth it to attend the games together as a family because we all enjoy it.  We don't go on yearly vacations (though we have gone on two very special Disney World ones!), so these mini-trips (sometimes just down to Arlington and back the same day) are a special treat.  Also, the games can't be bought on DVD in a few months.  They are live.  There is a difference in what appeals to us and what doesn't.  But we're all different and have different ideas on things.


Frugal living is different for everyone; however, there is one area that none of us should ever be frugal. Look again at the end definition of frugal: focus on being sparing, thrifty, prudent or economical in the use of consumable resources such as food, time or money, avoiding waste, lavishness or extravagance.  In our walk as Christians, in order to live out Jesus Christ's example we can not be frugal in lots of ways.  Contrary, we must NOT be sparing with our food, time, or money as it relates to helping others.  Of course we shouldn't waste and we should spend wisely, but we should exercise lavishness and extravagance in our response to others.  We should graciously give to those in need and to the Lord's church - to further His work.  


Our giving and service to God isn't that He needs what we can give.  We need HIM!  And because we need Him, He has given us His Son. We need to and must serve Him because of what He has already done for all of us.  When we serve Him in this way, our frugal living will take on a whole new meaning!  Our desire to be frugal will be so that we can serve Him more and more.  We will realize that everything we have is His and is because of Him.   We're just stewards of His blessings.  


“The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything.” 
Acts 17:24-25 

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing."
John 15:5

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
Ephesians 2:8-10


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

I COULDN'T DO THIS AGAIN IF I TRIED!

Tonight we had a delicious meal consisting of grilled chicken (marinade recipe is posted on our family recipe blog:  http://www.3cherrycokes.blogspot.com/), grilled fresh corn on the cob (recipe in archives), roasted potatoes (from our garden), salad (with "real" Ranch.....the kind you make, not bottled).  It was so good! 

After we had been eating for a while, my husband wanted some more potatoes, but just as I was getting ready to pass them to him, our youngest two boys started grabbing them!  I wasn't very happy with them and scolded them about already having seconds and that they shouldn't be so greedy.  Just then my husband started laughing because he had already had seconds, too!  

A fun/teasing conversation went on for a few minutes as I continued trying to insist that my husband take the few remaining potatoes.  He kept telling me no. The kids were laughing....he was laughing...I was laughing......and I broke the table manners that we (I) typically enforce at family meal times.  I decided to throw a potato chunk to my husband! 

I flung the potato across the table (which is 72 inches long....we sit on opposite ends) with my left hand.  (I'm right-handed.)  And guess what happened????? You can probably guess by this picture!  It landed in a cup of water!!!  Not my husband's cup, but our daughter's cup!  She was sitting down at the end of one side towards my husband!

Oh, it was hilarious and yes, bad, bad table manners. :)  But, it was more amazing than anything and we laughed about it for quite a while.  I was actually pretty proud of myself and thought how nice it would have been if it was a "potato throwing contest" and I had just won a large sum of money!  Me....the one who is typically not very good at throwing a ball with my dominate right hand, chunked a potato into a relatively small cup with my non-dominate left hand! SIGN ME UP FOR THE POTATO THROWING CONTEST!

And.....of course......the whole family said:  "This has to be a blog post!"  And, of course, I agreed.  Yes it does!

I couldn't do that again if I tried!

For this Gratituesday, I'm grateful for fun and memorable family meal times with all six of us together....bad table manners and all!

Join us for Gratituesday at Heavenly Homemakers!

Monday, July 11, 2011

God is AWESOME!

For the past week I have been drawing up house plans.  Not a whole house, but just an addition of a bedroom, bathroom, laundry room, and closets to add on to one side of our house.  It's saving a lot of money just doing it ourselves, but as many hours as I've spent drawing, erasing, and redrawing....my husband has teased that I'm going to get stuck to my "drawing bench"!  It's literally been hours and hours and hours of work!  In the end it will all be worth it.

As I've been drawing my mind has drifted thinking about the awesomeness of God.  Here I am spending a week's time on a small home addition and yet He created the whole world in six days!  He knows everything about every human that has ever lived - or who has not lived, for that matter!  He knows how many hairs are on our heads and that number changes daily (more for some than for others :).  He knows what we are doing, why we are doing it, and our motives behind what we do.  He knows our thoughts and how they will determine our actions.  He knows what we will or won't do with His Son.

For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
Jeremiah 29:11

So then, as I continued to draw and actually scale down my larger addition to a somewhat smaller one, I thought of heaven.  Heaven has been prepared for God's children and has "many rooms".  Here I am finding challenges with just a few rooms that will serve our family for a relatively few years and He planned for His children now and for eternity! 

My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.” 
John 14:2-4

Yes, God is AWESOME!  Every day we should sit back (and draw up home addition plans :) and think and meditate about His awesomeness.  This life we're living.....this world we're living in.....the plan for eternity.....it didn't just happen with a big boom.  It took an awesome, loving, caring Heavenly Father, who wanted us to live with Him some day.  Think about that every day.  Think about your place in that plan every day. Get to know Jesus personally.

Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well.
John 14:5-7a

Have a great week, everyone!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Dentists and the Gospel Message

Note from Lori:  I just had to share this with all of you!  It's got such a great message and I, like the author, despise going to the dentist.  I have to agree with my mother-in-law who has always said she would rather go through childbirth than to go to the dentist - and she had six children!! :)


This message comes from Alan Smith and is used with previous permission.


DENTISTS AND THE GOSPEL MESSAGE

"Open wider," requested the dentist, as he began his examination of the patient.

"Oh, no!"  he said.  "You've got the biggest cavity I've ever seen -- the biggest cavity I've ever seen."

"OK Doc!" replied the patient. "I'm scared enough without you saying something like that twice."

"I didn't!" said the dentist. "That was the echo."

    I did something this past week that I never look forward to doing – I went to the dentist.  Fortunately, it wasn’t anything traumatic, just a routine cleaning of the teeth.  But it reminded me of something I have long believed – that going to the dentist relates to what we’re doing as a church (and specifically, what I’m doing as a preacher).  Allow me to explain.

    Like many people, I don’t enjoy going to the dentist and I tend to put it off a lot longer than I ought to.  It’s not primarily because of the cost (although that’s certainly a factor).  And while some people are afraid to go to the dentist, fearing possible pain, that’s never been a problem for me.  I don’t mind the sound of the drill, or the poking and the prodding in my mouth.  No, the reason I dread going to the dentist has to do with guilt.

    You see, I don’t floss as often as I ought to.  I know it’s important, but I have always found flossing to be a difficult habit for me to keep up.  And whenever I go to the dentist, I know what he’s going to say – “You’re not flossing.  Don’t you know how important flossing is?  You need to floss!”  And I want to say (but don’t), “Yes, I know.  I’m guilty!  I knew I was guilty before I walked in here.  I don’t need you telling what a terrible person I am!”

    I understand the position the dentist is in.  He wants what is best for my health.  If I’m doing something that is not beneficial to my teeth, he has a responsibility to tell me.  I don’t want him to stop caring about me.  But because of my guilt, I don’t want to hear it, so my response is to simply avoid going to see him.

    I wonder how many people there are who approach the church in the same way.  They know they’re not living right and when they go to worship, they know what they’re going to hear from the preacher -- “You’re not living right.  You need to change your life!  This is the way you ought to live!”  Their response is to say (or to think), “Yes, I know.  I’m guilty!  I knew I was guilty before I walked in here.  I don’t need you telling what a terrible person I am!”

    I'm in a situation similar to that of my dentist.  I have a responsibility to talk about sin because I care about the spiritual well-being of others.  We can’t ignore sin just because talking about it makes people uncomfortable.  But if people already feel a burden of guilt and they don’t want to hear about it, they simply stop coming to worship.

    As I was considering the awkward position my dentist was in (“Do I say something and make my patient feel more guilty or not say something and show that I don’t care?”), his dental assistant found the perfect words.  She said to me, “As you know, you need to floss more.  I understand, I have a hard time with it myself.”

    Suddenly, I felt at ease.  Here was someone who cared enough to tell me what I needed to hear, but who wasn’t looking down at me, criticizing me, and “beating me up”.  Instead, we were on the same level, facing the same problem together.  All it took was her saying, “I understand what you’re going through.  I struggle with that, too.”

    What a difference it would make if we could all simply acknowledge to one another, “You’re not doing what’s right, but I understand because I struggle, too.”  What a difference it would make if the world could see us, not as a bunch of people looking down on them, criticizing them and "beating them up", but as  a group of people who share in their struggles and who truly desire to help one another to live holier lives.

    "Brethren, if a man is overtaken in a trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness..." (Galatians 6:1)

    (and in case you’re wondering, yes, I did floss this morning!)

Have a great day!

Alan Smith
Helen Street Church of Christ
Fayetteville, North Carolina

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

When All Else Fails....

If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land. Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place.
2 Chronicles 7:14-15

Have you ever heard the expression, "All there is left to do now is pray"?  How about the quote "When All Else Fails, Pray"?  What do you think about those two expressions?  Do they make sense to you or do they seem to make no sense at all?

It's clear from reading scriptures throughout the Bible that prayer shouldn't be a last resort, as both of the statements above imply, but instead, prayer should be the first resource.  Prayer shouldn't be combined with the attitude of giving up hope, but rather the attitude and mindset of putting our hope in what God can do - instead of what man can or cannot do.


Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
Philippians 4:6


Children of God can come before the throne of God in prayer in Jesus' name.  We can pour out our heart in sorrow and grief.  We can thank Him for all of His wonderful blessings.  We can ask Him for strength and courage to face any kind of trial or temptation.  He hears the prayers of the righteous.  When we don't know what to say - the Spirit intercedes.


The LORD is far from the wicked but he hears the prayer of the righteous.
Proverbs 15:29

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.
Romans 8:26


He wants us to talk to Him constantly thorough out the day.  He wants us to talk to Him at the beginning, middle, end, and all other times of the day.....not just went things get tough, but also in times of gladness and rejoicing!

Be joyful always; pray continually;  give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

It's kind of sad if we only use the resource of prayer as a last resort.  It's as if we don't believe that God can do what He says He can do.  It's not putting total faith and trust in Him.


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


So, pray all the time.  

Pray fervently. 

Pray expecting God to answer.  

Pray with hope.  

Pray in faith.  

Pray.


Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Oh, Did You Ever Hear of QMCC? - 2011

I've mention before (probably many times) that my husband and I met at Quartz Mountain Christian Camp (QMCC).  Because of that, it's always had a special place in our hearts.   
 We're both active in the work of the camp. I organize the annual ladies' retreat and help for other camps/events. He helps with many things, but also serves on the camp board.
 I have had the opportunity to stay at camp many times over the past years, but my husband really hasn't.  He hasn't minded though and helped on day to day things as needed.  However, this year he had the opportunity to help direct one of the session of camp this summer.  I was so excited that he decided to take on this awesome task!  That meant we would all be together at QMCC for one week.  The first time in 25 years!
My role during the session was to be the camp nurse.  Another role was doing afternoon crafts.  I also usually decorate on Thursday's for this session - even when it was my brother-in-law helping with the session.  This year I also decided to string lights outside.  First of all, because it's really dark around that area at night, but second of all, because it just made it pretty!
 This is Joe passing out the mail at lunch....but he "threw" it out to the campers.  His own idea of air mail!
Oh, and another one of my "jobs" that week was judging the cabins - for cleanliness, etc.  One girls' cabin used dry erase markers on the bathroom walls.  They had scriptures and goals specifically targeting teen girls.  Such a neat idea, but one that was inspirational, as well!
 The theme for the week was "WANTED". Each day during craft time, a banner was made with the theme for the day.  This one says, "Bought 4 A Price".  Thanks, Mark, for doing this each day!  Thanks to his daily helpers, too!
One craft that the campers did was this cute little foam cowboy.
Each camper had their picture taken in this "Wanted By God" cut out.  The campers were given their pictures.  All of the lessons throughout the week stressed to the campers that we are all wanted by God.
 It was great having all four of our children at camp with us.  The oldest two were campers.  The youngest two just played and went to singing and worship times.  Here is our oldest, Lauren, having fun with our youngest, Tyler.  I love this picture!
 On Thursday evening, each of the four family groups of campers each made forts for a fun family competition.  Their weapons were water balloons. 
 Notice the little "hideout" in this fort.  Also notice the little boy inside of it with his hands over his head!  Every time a balloon would hit the fort, he would cover his head!
This new-to-us game is called "9 Square".  It's made of PVC pipe and it was purchased online.  The campers had a blast playing this game!  It was a hit!
Apparently my husband liked it a lot, too.  I think that's why he was dubbed the "King of 9 Square"!
Each night (as well as throughout the day) we spent a lot of time singing praises to God.  A tradition of this session (and was even when my husband and I were growing up) was to end the day/camp session with the song, "God Bless You Go With God".  For this song, we all stand in a huge circle holding hands.  So very special.
And, the very most special thing about camp is when someone decides to become a Christian.  Desi made the confession that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and decided to put Him on in baptism.  Praise God for this new sister in Christ!

...and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at God’s right hand—with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him.
1 Peter 3:21-22

In him you were also circumcised, in the putting off of the sinful nature, not with a circumcision done by the hands of men but with the circumcision done by Christ, having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead.
Colossians 2:11-12

Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 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.

If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection.
Romans 6:3-5

On this Gratituesday, I am grateful that we were able to spend the whole week together at QMCC and look forward to doing again for many years....if it is the Lord's will.

Join us for Gratituesday at Heavenly Homemakers!
 
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