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Monday, October 31, 2011

The Worst Days of My Life

Have you ever had a bad day?  How about a "worst" day or several "worst" days?  Yeah, me, too.  In fact, there are five days that I consider to be the five worst days I've had in my life.  Of course, I pray that the number stops there....at five.  I don't want any more bad days.  None of us do, do we?? However, most likely, I will have more bad days and so will you.

As bad as any of those five days were at the time, none of them would compare to having a bad day on Judgement Day.  On that day, no one will want to have a bad day.  God doesn't want anyone to have a bad day on that day, either.  He wants everyone to go to Heaven to live with Him for eternity.  Sadly, the Bible tells us that this won't be so because many reject His Word and His teaching.  Many reject His Son, Jesus, and His forgiveness and His gift of eternal life.

What about you?  Have you given your life to Him?  Have you obeyed the gospel?  Don't let Judgement Day be a day you have to fear.  Don't let it be the ultimate worst day of your life.

Judgement Day scriptures (click on each passage to go to the link at Bible Gateway.  For some reason they are not all underlined, but you can still go to them):  Matthew 25:31-46, John 12:48, Acts 1:9-11, Acts 17:30-31, Romans 2:4-11,  Romans 14:10-12, 2 Corinthians 5:10, 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, 2 Thessalonians 1:5-9, Hebrews 9:26-31, Revelation 20:11-20, Ecclesiastes 12:13-14

I'm Still Blessed

Sitting outside a doctor's waiting room last week, I noticed an older man come in the door.  He stopped and talked to someone he knew.  I could hear the conversation clearly.

Woman:  Hi!  How is your wife doing?

Man:  Not very good.....and I'm recovering from a heart attack and a stroke.  But, I'm still blessed!

Then, as he hummed a little tune, the older man went strolling into the waiting room.  Wow!  I was impressed with this gentleman!  His wife isn't doing well, he's just had a heart attack and a stroke, but there he is.....humming a tune and saying he's still blessed.  Without meaning to at all, that gentleman had made an impression on me, and most likely to the woman he had been talking to.

A few minutes later, out of the waiting room came the man again.  He kind of laughed as he came out and said he had left his medications in the car.  He was still humming his tune.

Later on, I had to go in the waiting room for my own appointment.  I glanced over at the man as I walked through the room filled with patients.  Guess what he was doing?  No....he wasn't humming any more.  He was reading the Bible.  It didn't surprise me one bit!  I could tell, just by the few seconds I saw him earlier, that this gentleman had his priorities straight. His faith in God was obvious.  He felt blessed because he knew that God was with him, no matter what.

What an example that man was to me and to others that morning!  It made me think about my own attitude as I go throughout my day, not realizing that others are watching.  That man didn't say anything to me at all that morning, yet his example spoke volumes.

I pray that we all go throughout each and every day shouting out the message for others to hear, "I'M STILL BLESSED!"

3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
5 Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
7 Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Matthew 5:3-10

Friday, October 28, 2011

Plague of the Flies

Then the LORD said to Moses, “Get up early in the morning and confront Pharaoh as he goes to the water and say to him, ‘This is what the LORD says: Let my people go, so that they may worship me. If you do not let my people go, I will send swarms of flies on you and your officials, on your people and into your houses. The houses of the Egyptians will be full of flies, and even the ground where they are.
Exodus 8:20-21
This week a cold front hit southwest Oklahoma after having 80 degree weather for some time. The flies, because of their God-given instinct, knew that the cold weather was coming and they have been looking for refuge. Hundreds of flies gathered in our garage, some even making it into the house, all looking for warmth.
I know this situation doesn't nearly compare to the situation the in Egypt thousands of years ago, but it made me think of the 10 Plagues the Lord sent to Pharaoh and his people because of Pharaoh's hardened heart.
We have a fly spray for the garage, but it can't get them all.  We have fly strips in the garage (sideways picture).  But it can't get them all.  So, as odd as it may sound, I even have a fly strip hanging in the kitchen.  I don't care that it doesn't match the decor.  It helps get rid of the pests!  It fills up quickly and we switch it out with another one.  The flies seek warmth, but our house is kept fairly cold (by my husband's choice) and the warmest place is in the kitchen.  They congregate in there.  YUCK!
And the LORD did this. Dense swarms of flies poured into Pharaoh’s palace and into the houses of his officials, and throughout Egypt the land was ruined by the flies.
Exodus 8:24
This picture is my favorite because it shows many of the flies that have died because the garage is cold. There are probably a lot more out there now (I have checked.  Don't want to let any more in!)  However, my husband has probably already swept them up and thrown them in the trash.
 
Pharaoh said, “I will let you go to offer sacrifices to the LORD your God in the desert, but you must not go very far. Now pray for me.”

Moses answered, “As soon as I leave you, I will pray to the LORD, and tomorrow the flies will leave Pharaoh and his officials and his people. Only be sure that Pharaoh does not act deceitfully again by not letting the people go to offer sacrifices to the LORD.”

Then Moses left Pharaoh and prayed to the LORD, and the LORD did what Moses asked: The flies left Pharaoh and his officials and his people; not a fly remained. But this time also Pharaoh hardened his heart and would not let the people go.
Exodus 8:28-32
Can you imagine what it would have been like to have all of the plagues that the Lord sent to Pharaoh and the Egyptian people?  I can't.  These flies have been enough!  But remember, all of the plagues happened because of Pharaoh's hard heart.   He would not let the (Israelite) people go.  What a shame!
 
During the night Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron and said, “Up! Leave my people, you and the Israelites! Go, worship the LORD as you have requested.  Take your flocks and herds, as you have said, and go. And also bless me.”
Exodus 12:31-32

Only after Pharaoh had lost his first born son, did he finally soften his heart to the Israelite people and allowed them to go.  He had to loose his crops, his livestock, be subject to pain and sorrow.....all of that before his heart was softened and he obeyed the Lord.

Makes me wonder.......in what ways do I need to soften my heart?  In what ways do I allow a hard heart to keep me from doing what the Lord wants me to do?  Perhaps I should example my life - look into my heart and just see what might be getting in the way.

Notice the last sentence in the passage above.  Pharaoh said to the Lord, "And also bless me."  Interesting, isn't it?  Pharaoh finally obeyed God and now asks for His blessings.  Obedience is the key.  God's blessings will be bestowed upon those who are His children.

Blessed are they who keep his statutes and seek him with all their heart.  Psalm 119:2 

My plague of flies will go away, but for now, I'm thankful for the reminder to seek God, to examine my heart for any hardness, and to be thankful for God's blessings each and every day.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Stumbling Blocks

\Just a thought for today....
This photo is from Stand on the Rock Facebook page.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

True Colors

What do you see when you look at this picture?  It looks like pretty fall colors on the trees, doesn't it?  It appears that these pretty colors on the leaves are the true colors....the colors they are supposed to be in the fall, but they are not.  Yes, the trees might turn colors in the fall, but in our area they shouldn't have been turned when this photo was taken on October 1st.

This summer, during the worst drought and extreme high heat our area had seen in a very long time, we had a lot of wild fires.  Many of the fires rapidly spread over hundreds or even thousands of acres in some areas.  The fires damaged the trees, as did the drought.
Now here's another picture, just a little bit further down the road.  What do you see now?  Burned tree trunks, branches, and leaves.  This picture shows the destruction from the fire.  There are many scenes like this in our area and in the areas around us.  Those aren't the leaves' true colors, either.

My mom was an elementary school teacher until she retired several years ago.  One of the things I remember her telling me that she learned from teaching one of her science classes, was that a trees' true colors are what they turn to in the fall.  They bud in the spring and spend all of the months in between growing and growing.....then, in the fall, they turn to those true colors.

Hmmmmm.......I wonder......What are my true colors?  What are yours?

Our true colors are revealed when we go through 'fire'.  This 'fire' comes in many forms in our lives. When troubles come our way.  When things don't go our way.  When we're in a hurry.  When we're tired.  When we're alone.  When we're stressed.  We could go on and on.

Do we, like the trees in the first picture, look beautiful - even in the 'fire'?  Or, do we, like the trees in the second picture, look like the 'fire' is getting the best of us?

The photos I took was from a fire that was burning at the Quartz Mountain State Park in late July.  It was threatening Bible camps and homes, but the firemen came in and saved everything.  Thankfully, no structures were destroyed.  What a tremendous job those firemen had during that fire!

When 'fires' come into our lives, they can destroy us if we just try to fight the fires on our own.  But, there is One who will save us from the fires of life.  God is ready and able to put out those fires!  He will keep the fires from destroying us.  Will they damage us?  Perhaps they will....for a little while.  But God can restore us.  He can help us get through the pain.  He can heal us from the damage we receive in the fires. 

How we, as Christians, respond to the fires in life, shows the world our true colors.  When our true colors are revealed, we should look like Jesus Christ, Our Savior.  

When you pass through the waters, 
                                                  I will be with you; 
and when you pass through the rivers,    
they will not sweep over you. 
When you walk through the fire,    
you will not be burned;    
the flames will not set you ablaze.
Isaiah 43:2

Monday, October 24, 2011

Dare to Be Different

I love the stories of Daniel.  (Daniel 1:1-21) One of my very favorite stories is when Daniel and his friends dared to be different.  Instead of eating the king's fine, rich food, they would only eat the vegetables and drink water because that is what God wanted them to do.  What courage Daniel and his friends had before the king!

My two middle boys don't play football.  They tried it in elementary school, but so far, in junior high and early high school, neither of them have desired to play any more.  That may not seem like such a big deal, but in a small town, where football is "king", it really is a big deal.  Football Friday nights are a BIG deal in our community, and while we go to many of the home games and a few of our children go to some of the out of town games, it's not that big of deal to us.  We're supportive of it and the team (in fact we sponsor a few of the football boys), but , we're just not as into it as most everyone else in town seems to be.

Our oldest son Zachary, who is in high school, commented several weeks ago, that it's harder to not play football now that he's in high school.  Immediately my "momma radar" went off, thinking he meant people were making fun of him or teasing him about not playing, but he assured me that no one did.  What he meant was, that football is a  BIG DEAL in high school, and he recognizes even more that he's not a part of it.  He's okay with that because he's not going to change his mind. (Okay....."momma radar" went off!  All is good!)

Then a couple of weeks later, the younger junior high boy, Jacob, and I were talking.  Something was brought up about kids at school being picked on.  I asked him if people made fun of him for not playing football.  He answered: "No, they don't, and I don't know why.  It's the weirdest thing, because no one says anything to me about not playing, but then there are a few others that don't play and they make fun of them for not playing.  It makes me so mad!"  I talked to Jacob about standing up for those others.  He said he did.  He said that he even asked them why they were picking on others for not playing, but they don't him.  Of course, the "pickers" didn't have a reason.  Jacob was still aggravated about it telling me the story.  It's really not fair and doesn't make sense.  Sometimes children and adults are just mean and cruel!

Football isn't that big of deal.  My boys have chosen to be different and not play like most every other boy in school does, but they haven't had any trouble because of it.  Obviously, some others who have made the same choice haven't been as fortunate.  My boys' conviction of daring to be different and not playing football is admirable to me because I'm their mom.  Their dad feels the same way.  But still, it doesn't really matter in the scheme of life.

But, where I want my boys (all three of them and my daughter, as well) to be different and where it really does matter, is in spiritual matters.  What matters to God is if my children will dare to be different when it comes to drunkenness....when it comes to sexual immorality.....when it comes to respecting others.....when it comes for resisting sin and standing up for their morals in regards to the music they listen to, in the movies and TV shows they watch.  That's what really matters.

So far, all of our children have dared to be different in those areas and in others, and for that, we are proud of them for the choices and stands they have made.  It takes a lot of courage to be different.  Sometimes our children have been made fun of - by other teens and adults.  Sometimes they have stood alone.  Sometimes they've had a few friends standing with them.  But, I pray that they will always dare to be different as a child of God - no matter what. 

It's easy to be like everyone else.  It's easy for Christians to just blend right in with the world.  It's easier to not be different. 

So here's a challenge for you this week:  Dare to be DIFFERENT!

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.
Ephesians 6:10-13

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Get More Than a Sample

When we were expecting our second child, and the oldest was only about 20 months old, I sent my husband to get a new mattress for the baby bed.  We had moved the original baby bed mattress over to the little toddler bed for our daughter.

Much to my surprise, when my husband got home that day, he had a small, little mattress, about a third of the size of what the regular mattress should have been.  I asked what he had bought?  He said, "I bought what they had.  They were all this size."  Amazed, I asked more questions about "Why?"   "The worker, who happened to be extremely short in stature", he added, "is the one who pointed them out to me."  He had bought a small, little SAMPLE baby bed mattress instead of the regular sized one!  I couldn't believe it!  Yes, I was a little perturbed, but couldn't help but laugh at the situation at the same time!

A sample sized mattress didn't do us any good.  If it was put into the baby bed, it was obvious that 2/3 of a mattress was missing because the springs and coils were visible at the bottom of the bed.  It wouldn't work.  It wasn't enough.

Many people want just a sample of Christianity.  They believe in God.  They believe in Jesus, but that's as far as their faith will take them.  They are just getting a sample of what God has made available to them.  They are not getting all that comes from being a baptized believer.  They are not getting the fellowship that comes from being in unity with their Christian brothers and sisters of the church.  They are not getting involved in service to the Lord, in giving to the Lord, and the growing that comes along with it.  They are not maturing in their faith.  They are not bearing fruit. Their belief isn't to the extent that they are transforming to become more like Jesus.  And just like the sample baby bed mattress didn't work, neither will this.

We have much to say about this, but it is hard to explain because you are slow to learn. In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.
Hebrews 5:11-14

We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light.
Colossians 1:9-12

The next day after my husband bought the sample, he went to return it and replace it with a larger one.  My daughter, Mom and I happened to be going shopping that day, as well, so we went with him.  However, because Mom and I were laughing so hard about the small mattress, we stayed way back behind him as we followed him in.  We weren't sure what the customer service workers would say about the return!  Thankfully, it all worked out.  The sample mattress was returned and a regular mattress was purchased.  It's still one of our favorite memories that we laugh about.  Even my husband laughs.  (I hope he will as he reads this today, too!! Ha ha!)

If you are just getting a sample of Christianity, why don't you turn that around and get the whole thing?  God has offered so much to you.  He has a whole book of blessings and a plan in mind just for you.  Get the whole thing.  The sample just won't work.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

ZEST!

ZEST!  Such a neat word!!  Kind of like SPARKLE that I wrote about here.  

Yesterday I needed some lemon zest for this cookie recipe I posted on my recipe blog (click HERE for recipe).  I was excited to get to use my favorite kitchen gadget - the MICROPLANE (shown above).  It's so fun and makes the "zesting" quick and easy. 

As I started getting the zest from the lemon yesterday, my husband commented on how strong the lemon was smelling.  I explained to him that the rind part was called zest and that a little bit of zest goes a long way in a recipe.  He agreed that from the smell, it wouldn't take much.  Later on, as the cookies baked, the thought of 'ZEST' kept coming back to my mind.

What does the word ZEST actually mean?  First, in regards to foods, it means flavor or interest; piquancy (which I also looked up and it means pleasantly pungent or tart in taste.  And the other definition, relating to a characteristic of a person is great enthusiasm and energy.

So ZEST means two different things, depending on whether it is referring to a food or to a person.  Just as zest adds tons of flavor to a recipe, zest adds tons of personality/character to a person.  Someone who has zest is someone who is excited and enthusiastic about a certain idea, thought, or mission.

As Christians, it is absolutely essential that we have ZEST - a zest for life, a zest for Christ, a zest for God, a zest for His church, a zest for our Christian walk, our service, and on and on.  We should be enthusiastic about our lives and have an energy about us that comes from the salvation we have because of what Jesus has done for us.  It should come from our commitment to God and our service to Him.  Sadly, instead of having a zestful attitude, we take the wrong approach and act as if we have nothing exciting to share.  

Maybe you recall a phrase I've mentioned before.  It has to do with lemons, so goes along with this ZEST post.  "Some people walk around looking like they were weaned on lemons!"  I'm sure I've had that look on my face before, too.  But we shouldn't.  None of us.  When we walk around with that look on our faces - all sour-faced and mopey - we look like we have no hope.  We act as if God isn't going to do what He says He will do.  Perhaps at that time we have forgotten what He has already done.  Something has to change if we're looking like we've been eating lemons or looking like we were weaned on them!

What can we do???  Here's a few thoughts:  
Let's get more ZEST in our lives! 
Let's be enthusiastic!  
Let's be energetic!  
Let's be excited about our salvation and share the Good News with others!

Yes - ZEST! Just what we needed!  Remember, even a little bit will go a long way!

(Note:  I thought a verse about 'zeal' would be great, because zeal means the same as zest!)  So....let's be zealous!

Be devoted to one another in 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.
Romans 12:10-12

Monday, October 17, 2011

Just Like It's Supposed to Be

In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory.
Ephesians 1:11-12

My husband came home for lunch today and I happened to be baking cookies in the kitchen.  I asked him, "How's your day today?".  He answered, "Just like it's supposed to be."  Because he's usually cracking a joke and because, unfortunately, many of his days are hectic and at times eventful, I thought he was just being sarcastic; however, he wasn't.  He just used a really good reply to my question that I immediately wrote down to use for today's blog post!

I love that answer:  "Just Like It's Supposed to Be."

What if, every day, we went through the day thinking that very thought....that everything was just like it was supposed to be.  What if, every day, we recognized that God is totally in control, that there is nothing to worry about?  What kind of day would we have?  What kind of attitude would we have?  What would our example to others show them about our Christian walk?

The reality of the phrase is just that - it's REAL.  It's TRUE.  It's a FACT. 

Each and every day - no matter what comes with it - good or bad, happiness or sorrow, sickness or health.....it is just like it's supposed to be.  That even when things don't make sense, God has a plan and He has a purpose for our lives.  Even when things get hectic and crazy or sad and worrisome, He is there.  He is in control.  We just have to believe that He is, and that He will continue to be by our side - no matter what, just as He said He would be. We just have to believe that everything is "Just like it's supposed to be."

On this Gratituesday, I am grateful that today was just like it was supposed to be.  Aren't you?

Join us for Gratituesday at Heavenly Homemakers!

Yours, LORD, is the greatness and the power
and the glory and the majesty and the splendor,
for everything in heaven and earth is yours.
Yours, LORD, is the kingdom;
you are exalted as head over all.

Wealth and honor come from you;
you are the ruler of all things.
In your hands are strength and power
to exalt and give strength to all.
1 Chronicles 29:11-12

Fall Crafts

It's been a while since I've shared any crafts with you, so I thought I would today.  My mom and I have been doing a few things with burlap.  She has posted a burlap door decoration on our recipe/craft blog a few weeks ago.  I made this wreath and shared it last week.  You'll find photos and instructions for the crafts below.

Happy crafting! Happy Monday!

Burlap Wreath

Last week I bought a magazine called "Christmas Cottage".  It had a really cute burlap wreath pictured that I wanted to make.  The only place I've found burlap on a roll is at Michael's.  Saturday I was able to get to a Michaels to get the supplies, but by the time I was ready to check out, their cash registers were no longer working because of power outages due to thunderstorms.  Anyway, yesterday I was able to go back to Michael's and get the supplies.....again!

Burlap Wreath

3 rolls of 10 foot burlap (The magazine craft said to get 2 rolls; however, I had to use a little more. Mine was 6 inches wide.)
Wire wreath form (this is a large one)
Jute or string
Decorations for "bow" area
Without cutting burlap, form a loop (as if you are making a bow).  Tie loop with string and attach to the wire wreath form.
Continue tying loops all around the wreath, being sure to make loops on the whole width of the wire wreath.  At first you may wonder if you're doing it right (I did!), but soon it will begin to take on the look you are wanting.
Continue until wreath is full.
Add decorations as desired.  The magazine suggested that the typical bow for a wreath is usually ribbon, but that in this case the decorations become the "bow" part.  I added the leaves.  They showed holly.  I'm not sure I like the leaves, but left them there for now.  I'm thinking a raffia bow with some leaves and fall picks might be better?  We'll see.  But, I do know I'll be keeping this wreath on the front door for many months, changing out the decorations to fit the holiday or season.

Burlap Sack - Fall Decor by my MOM


I had so much fun making this for my front door this weekend. I'm not a great decorator, but I get such an enjoyment doing things like this---it's a lot of self satisfaction. Of course, a lot of it, too, is that I can't go out and buy everything I see--I have to make a lot of things myself, but I do love doing it. I should have been cleaning my house, but things like this are so much more fun!!!!! I knew my "dirt" would still be there.

To make this, I sewed a long pocket out of burlap--then folded the top over to make a flap. I probably should have used orange, yellow, and purple for the greenery, but I really liked these "sprigs" from Hobby Lobby. I think the brighter colors would have shown up more from the street, but these look good from the front porch. The netting is a dark purple-y brown that matches the darker sprigs. Larry had to help me get the wire secured the right way. What would we do without our husbands?

Happy Fall!!!!!!

Friday, October 14, 2011

A Few of My Favorite Things

They are growing up too fast!
One of my favorite pictures of them dressed up as Wizard of Oz characters.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Chronicles of Biscuit - Letters to Siblings

The Chronicles of Biscuit - Stories about our youngest son, Tyler, whose nickname is Biscuit.
Apparently Biscuit had a 3rd grade writing assignment last week that involved writing rules or steps for something.  Biscuit chose to write rules for being a nice brother.  He put in parentheses (I have two).  I'm not sure these are rules for them or for him.

Here are his rules:  1. Play outside with them.  2.  Watch TV with them.  3.  Do the right thing. (Note:  This one makes me proud since our motto is "Do the right thing, 'cause it's the right thing to do!") 4. Be polite.  5. Share.  GREAT RULES, BISCUIT!
Biscuit told his dad the other night he though he should write a book.  I asked him the next day what kind of book he wanted to write.  He said he wasn't sure, but really enjoyed writing and thought that was what he needed to do.  Yesterday he wrote letters to each of his siblings.  So sweet (for the most part)!!
Biscuit is writing to Jacob in this letter.  The "Mr. 42" refers to the golf score Jacob had told his brothers he had made the other day while golfing.  He didn't get that good of a score, but his plan was to make them think that until the next morning.  Obviously, Biscuit never believed him anyway!
In this letter to Zachary, Biscuit tells him that he is his best brother, except (or acsept in Biscuit's words) for the fact that he likes golf.  He's a little upset that golf has taken over from the other sports and that his brothers don't play his games (for whichever sports season it is at the time) with him.  And.....Biscuit is ready for Bible camp (QMCC).

I appreciate Biscuit wanting to write all of these letters and rules.  In our busy world, sometimes we don't take the time to sit down and write someone....especially a hand-written note.  Maybe he will write a book some day. 

The Bible is a book written by many men, but inspired by God.  Think about what our lives would be like without that Book.  What if those men had never taken the time to write it down?  What if we didn't have a written account of the life of Jesus and the plan of salvation?  What would our world be like?

I'm thankful that they did take the time.  I'm thankful for God's Word!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

What Am I Here For?

Do you ever wonder about your purpose?  Why you were born?  What your mission in life might be?  Why you are where you are?  Many people ask these questions every day.  Maybe all of us have as one time or another. 

Many spend their entire life searching for the answers to these questions, but as difficult as the questions may seem, the answers are really simple.  The answers are simple because they center on one simple principle:  We are here - each and every one of us - to do God's Will.  Simple, right?  Yes...at first the answer seems simple and in reality it is, but the fact is that we allow "things" to get in the way of this simple fact. 

Too many times we allow our own desires to get in the way of what God desires for our lives.  We believe that it is all up to us to find our purpose, forgetting God some times.  But, the truth of the matter is, we are not here on Earth to please ourselves.  We were put here to please Him and Him alone.

So, let's ask ourselves another question:  How can I do God's Will? Seeking to do God's will is an easy thing to say, but a must more difficult thing to do. So, to find out how to do this task, we look to the example of Jesus.  He is our example for everything in life.  He lived a perfect life - a life totally committed to God.  As His followers, we will strive to mimic His life's example of commitment and service to God.

For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me.
John 6:38

Remember how Satan tempted Jesus? How did Jesus respond? With scripture, right? Jesus didn't argue with Satan, he just simply quoted back scripture to him.

Now let's look at how can we know God's Will. Here are five ways:

1. Scripture

To know what God's will for our lives is, we must know the scriptures.

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.
Psalm 119:105

We can't just hear a sermon or a lesson once or twice a week and get to know what God's will for our lives is. We must study the scriptures. We must claim the words and the promises of God as our own. God's Word plainly tells us what His will for us is on many situations we will face in life.

For example, say we are having a problem with someone and we're not sure what to do. God's Word says,
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 1 Corinthians 13:4. Doesn't that passage pretty much clear up any problems we might be having with someone....if we really apply that message to our lives?

Scriptures help us know God's Will for us in many ways, but they won't tell us specifics....like “who should I marry?”. They give guidelines for marriage, but not specifics....such as who. We can pray for Godly Wisdom in making decisions in our life.

2. Pray for Godly Wisdom

God will not audibly tell us the answer, but He will guide us in our decisions. When something specific comes into our life that we need help with, prayer is the way we can seek God's counsel. By talking to Him.....asking for His help.....asking for wisdom to make decisions in our life....He will help us.

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.
James 1:5

Wisdom is “Knowledge Righteously Applied.” You and I can have all of the Bible knowledge possible, and decide not to use it. Satan knows the bible better than we do, yet he uses it wrong and in the wrong way. Knowing the Bible isn't enough. We must know how to apply it in our lives.When we are asking God for wisdom and using His Word as a guide for our lives, He will point us in the right direction and help us know what His Will for our lives is.

He also gave us each other.....to help each other.

3. Seek Godly Counsel

God did not create us to be alone. He created us to be in fellowship with one another. We can (or should be able to) gain wisdom from one another. We can seek counsel from Godly spouses, friends, family members, preachers, elders, teachers....all kinds of people.....even people we don't know through books or websites. However, this is where the scriptures and wisdom come in....we must make sure what these counselors tell us is what is true and right. We want counsel that will help guide us to finding God's Will....not those that will guide us in the wrong direction.

The way of a fool seems right to him, but a wise man listens to advice.
Proverbs 12:15

4. Open Doors (Opportunities)

If God wants you to go in a certain direction he will open doors for you. Or he will close certain doors.

Just this summer three of my family members had job offers that come out of nowhere. God opened doors that they weren't even thinking about. It's great to see God's hand in each of those situations.

However, I have a friend who made a statement recently about her life.  She said, .“God kept putting hurdles in my way, but I kept jumping over them.”  Have you ever felt like my friend?  That God was trying to help you, but your wants and desires led you down the wrong path?

Closed doors may be a way that God is trying to keep us from making mistakes and yet we, like my friend, may continue to jump the hurdles God is placing in front of us. We may be doing our own will, instead of looking for His Will.

Open doors may be God's way of getting us to do His Will.

I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name.
Revelation 3:8

But, beware.....Satan can open doors, too....and he does. We must use scriptures, wisdom, and wise counsel so that we won't jump over the hurdles God places in our paths or go down doors that are opened by Satan.

God will guide us to do His Will if we allow Him to do so. 

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
Romans 12:1

By renewing our mind......by dramatically changing the way we think.....Only then will be able to test and approve what God's will for our lives is.

5. A Peaceful Heart

Having a heart that is at peace means that we are thinking about spiritual things and not earthly things. It means we are using the Bible to guide our lives, we are praying for Godly wisdom....we are seeking Godly counsel.

When we truly have an open door...opened by God....where we are taking scripture and applying it to our lives....we will have a peaceful heart about the situation. Not a “comfy feeling” or a “good feeling” because we can sometimes even feel okay with sin. What I'm talking about is a true, God-given peace. Peace that comes from seeking His Will for your life. Peace that comes from undergoing a dramatic change. Peace that only comes from God.

So, from now on, when you want to ask, "What am I here for?"  Your answer can be an emphatic, "As a follower of Jesus, I am here to do God's Will!"

Monday, October 10, 2011

What Are You Soaking Up?

(This is a kitchen sponge.  Isn't it cute?? I actually sell these in my small business rental booth.  I need to buy one for myself!)

Last night my nephew preached for a youth event. At the beginning of his lesson, he mentioned how our minds are like sponges. Immediately my mind centered around that very true statement. I thought about all of the teens (and many adults, too) who were listening to his message, and how each of our minds soak up information from birth to death.


Sponges are useful items around the house. They absorb things. They soak up spills and help keep things clean, but they can also become dirty and contaminated with germs and grime. In the same way, our minds absorb and soak up all kinds of things. We soak up good and positive things. We soak up bad and negative and sometimes even dirty things.

Sponges can be made clean. They can be disinfected to where they are like new again. Likewise, our minds can be cleaned....cleared....and made to be like new again. We can decontaminate our minds by filling them with what is good and what is holy. We can clean our minds by prayer, by reading the Bible, and by meditating on God's Word.

Ever so often it is a good idea to check our "sponges" (minds) to think about what we are soaking up.  Maybe even ask ourselves, "What Am I Soaking Up?"  Will what I am soaking up and absorbing bring me closer to God or move me away from God?  Will what I am soaking up have me looking more like Jesus...more like one of His followers?  If not, maybe it's time to decontaminate.

Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.
Romans 12:1

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Reading the Small Print

Reality is setting in.  It's pretty clear that I'm getting older.  As I sat in the exam room listening to thousands of patients being told, "You need bifocals or reading glasses," when I worked part-time for an ophthalmologist for seven years, those days seemed in the far future for me.  I would scribe the diagnosis on the chart:  presbyopia, which means the inability of the lens to focus.  Yes, it seemed very far away for me in my life.  Not so any more.   In fact, that diagnosis for me seems very near or actually "here".

Saturday my daughter and I went shopping out of town.  She let me choose lunch for the day and I chose an Italian restaurant that we hadn't been to in a long time.  I knew exactly what I wanted to eat, but she wasn't sure.  As I flipped through the menu, I noticed that my favorite dish also came as a family meal.  It was only $7.49, so I asked her if she wanted to share.  I was so surprised that the price was so cheap, but thought we might splurge on dessert somewhere later on in the day.  I checked the price again, just to be sure.  The portion said it would serve 2-3 people.  "What a bargain!", I proudly thought to myself.

Our meal came and it was delicious.  It served us and we even got a to-go box to put leftovers in to take home.  The waitress brought the bill.  Much to my surprise, instead of the meal being around $10, it was almost $30!  I told my daughter how much it was and how much I thought it was supposed to be.  I reasoned that it must have been my mistake, that it must have really been $7.49 per person; however, with that reasoning, it still should have been less than $20.  I asked the waitress if I could see a menu because I didn't think the meal was that much.  She gladly brought a menu to me and even stood there to see what the problem might be.  Sadly, that was when I realized that the problem was me - my eyes to be exact!  What I thought was $7.49 was really 27.49!  No dollar sign in front!  (My daughter reminded me later that menus don't usually have dollar signs.  Thank you for that tip, Lauren.  I'll remember that the next time I make a $20 mistake. :) 

So, the waitress apologized for the amount.  I reassured her over and over that it was my fault and that I was just proving to myself I was getting old and needing reading glasses very soon.  She laughed and probably thought that was in the long, distant future for her....just like I used to do!

I paid my bill and left a generous tip!  I didn't want to appear cheap, of course! (ha ha!)

Sometimes it's hard to read the small print.  Sometimes we fail to see the small print.  The small print can get us in trouble, just like it did for me.

The Bible is full of lots of words....lots of small words and lots of big words....but all inspired words of God.  The font or type of a Bible may be small, but the message is big and of utmost importance.  God doesn't hide anything from us.  He doesn't want us to miss anything in His Word. 

My presbyopia reminded me of how many in the world actually choose to neglect or fail to focus on His Word.  They either take what they hear from others or maybe by written accounts of men and women, but don't actually read the Word for themselves.  They have spiritual presbyopia.  They neglect to focus on their spiritual lives.  However, no over-the-counter reading glasses or addition of bifocals to their contacts or glasses will help with this problem.  The only cure is to open the Word for themselves.  To open their eyes and focus on what God's Word has to say to them.

The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!
Matthew 6:22-23

After my daughter and I left the restaurant, do you know what we did?  We went looking for me a cute pair of over-the-counter reading glasses.  If I'm going to be needing them soon....they might as well be cute, right!? :) (or maybe I'll just take one contact out and do mono-vision. hmmmmmmm)

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Chronicles of Biscuit - The Haircut & the Confession

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

Saturday night our three boys were getting their clothes out and ready for the next morning's worship.  We had company spending the night and figured Sunday morning would be a little more hectic with eleven people getting dressed, so asked them to get everything ready in advance.  My husband, Joe, was studying in our bedroom (he was preaching out of town the next morning).  I was in the living room with our two older boys, and he sent me a text that said, "Biscuit has picked out all of his clothes and has them on.  You should let him wear it." 

After reading the text, I became a little concerned about what Biscuit might look like when he came into the living room.  I warned Biscuit's older brothers that no matter what he had on, they could not laugh because it would hurt his feelings. 

In a few minutes, Biscuit came into the living room....all dressed up and hair fixed in a spiked mohawk-type style.  I quickly glanced at the older brothers, reminding them of the "deal" of no laughing.  It was kind of hard not to, but none of us did.  Biscuit beamed with pride as he showed me his "duds" and hairstyle.

Biscuit had on a lime green, orange, white, and blue plaid, long-sleeved, button-down shirt, a yellow and navy striped clip-on tie, and a navy suit jacket and navy suit pants....as well as the spikey-mohawk hair style that he had obviously worked on very diligently. 

Biscuit asked me, "Can I wear it?"  Years ago I would have said no.  I would have tried to explain that the plaid shirt and yellow striped tie didn't match, but now I said, "Yes."  I said yes because everyone in town or out of town that knows Biscuit would know that he picked out his attire all on his own.  They would know, without a doubt, that I wouldn't have picked out the mismatched items.  They would also know that it really doesn't matter if it matched or not.  Biscuit was pleased and was showing his independence and that is what mattered.

The next morning arrived and Biscuit quickly got dressed.  He redid his spiky mohawk.  We all went to Bible class and worship.  After that we had a potluck dinner (yum) with our church family. 

Biscuit was in line for the dinner standing by his sister and a few of her visiting guests.  When I walked up to them, Biscuit held up his arms as if he was surrendering.  Biscuit started saying, "Mom, I sinned.  I cut my hair with scissors because I didn't like this part right here (pointing to the front part of his hair line).  I shouldn't have done it and I confess.  Please forgive me."

I talked to Biscuit about his haircut and why it was wrong to cut it, (safety, didn't need it, etc.) but I also told Biscuit that I forgave him.   Biscuit knew he shouldn't have done it, and he admitted it. At the time I actually couldn't even tell he had cut it, but when it is down and not spiked up, it shows.  I haven't mentioned the haircut since then.  He'll get a reminder about the issue every time he looks at his hair in the mirror.

Biscuit learned a lesson that day.  Yes, he learned that he shouldn't have cut his hair on his own, but he also learned a valuable lesson about admitting wrong, confessing wrong, and receiving forgiveness.  As Christians, our sin doesn't just hurt us and it can also hurt others; however, most importantly, it hurts God.  It separates us from God.  Admitting sin and confessing it shows that we are acknowledging our imperfections, but relying on the One who can perfect us.  God will forgive us.  Jesus' blood sanctifies us.

In Him, we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace.
Ephesians 1:7

Parenting is great and unique way to show God's love to our children.  There are times when they need and deserve discipline and they get it, but then they are forgiven.  There are other times when they need and deserve discipline, but then they are not punished....only forgiven.  Sometimes they get pardoned. 

God does the very same thing with His children.  Some times He disciplines.  Some times He pardons.  All the time He forgives when we ask Him.

For the LORD disciplines those he loves, and he punishes each one he accepts as his child.
Hebrews 12:6

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
1 John 1:9

A Little Boy Named Teddy

Note from Lori:  We're having a lesson series this week on "Home Sweet Home".  Last night the preacher read this story.  It is very touching and will make you think.  Sometimes we give up on people when we shouldn't.  Why?  Because God never gives up on us!  He never gives up on anyone!

You may have someone like "Teddy" in your life. Use the time you have to influence and encourage that person to become what God knows they can be, instead of giving up and being frustrated with them.

This story is written by Tony Campolo.

It seems that there was a lady named Jean Thompson and when she stood in front of her fifth-grade class on the very first day of school in the fall, she told the children a lie. Like most teachers, she looked at her pupils and said that she loved them all the same, that she would treat them all alike. And that was impossible because there in front of her, slumped in his seat on the third row, was a boy named Teddy Stoddard.

Mrs. Thompson had watched Teddy the year before and noticed he didn't play well with the other children, that his clothes were unkempt and that he constantly needed a bath. Add to it the fact Teddy was unpleasant. As the school year went by it got to the point that she would actually take delight in marking his papers with a broad red pen, making bold 'X's and then marking the 'F' at the top of the paper biggest of all.

Because Teddy was a sullen little boy, nobody else seemed to enjoy him, either. Now at the school where Mrs. Thompson taught, she was required to review each child's records and because of things, put Teddy's off until the absolute last. But, when she opened his file, she was in for a surprise.

His first-grade teacher wrote, "Teddy is a bright, inquisitive child with a ready laugh. He does work neatly and has good manners...he is a joy to be around."

His second-grade teacher wrote, "Teddy is an excellent student and is well-liked by his classmates -- but he is troubled because his mother has a terminal illness and life at home must be a struggle."

His third-grade teacher wrote, "Teddy continues to work hard, but his mother's death has been hard on him. He tries to do his best, but his father doesn't show much interest and his home life will soon affect him if some steps aren't taken."

Teddy's fourth-grade teacher wrote, "Teddy is withdrawn and doesn't show much interest in school. He doesn't have many friends and sometime sleeps in class. He is tardy and could become a problem."

By now Mrs. Thompson realized the problem, but Christmas was coming fast. It was all she could do, with the school play and all, until the day before the holidays began and she was suddenly forced to focus on Teddy Stoddard on that last day before the vacation would begin. Her children brought her presents, all in gay ribbon and bright paper, except for Teddy's, which was clumsily wrapped in the heavy, brown paper of a scissored grocery bag.

Mrs. Thompson took pains to open it in the middle of the other presents and some of the children started to laugh when she found a rhinestone bracelet, with some of the stones missing, and a bottle that was one-quarter full of cologne. She stifled the laughter when she exclaimed how pretty the bracelet was, putting it on, and she dabbed some of the perfume behind the other wrist.

At the end of the day, as the other children joyously raced from the room, Teddy Stoddard stayed behind, just long enough to say, "Mrs. Thompson, today you smelled just like my mom used to." As soon as Teddy left, Mrs. Thompson knelt at her desk and there, after the last day of school before Christmas, she cried for at least an hour. On that very day, she quit teaching reading and writing and speaking. Instead, she began to teach children. And Jean Thompson paid particular attention to one they all called "Teddy".

As she worked with him, his mind seemed to come alive. The more she encouraged him, the faster he responded and, on days that there would be an important test, Mrs. Thompson would remember that cologne. By the end of the year he had become one of the smartest children in the class and...well, he had also become the "pet" of the teacher who had once vowed to love all of her children exactly the same.

A year later she found a note under her door, from Teddy, telling her that of all the teachers he'd had in elementary school, she was his favorite.

Six years went by before she got another note from Teddy. And then he wrote that as he finished high school, third in his class, she was still his favorite teacher of all time.

Four years after that, she got another letter, saying that while things had been tough at times, that he'd stayed in school, had stuck with it, and would graduate from college with the highest of honors. He assured Mrs. Thompson she was still his favorite teacher.

Then four more years passed and yet another letter came. This time he explained that after he got his bachelor's degree, he decided to go a little further. The letter explained that she was still his favorite teacher, but that now his name was a little longer. And the letter was signed, "Theodore F. Stoddard, M.D."

The story doesn't end there. You see, there was yet another letter that Spring. Teddy said that...well, that he'd met this girl and was to be married. He explained that his father had died a couple of years ago and he was wondering...well, if Mrs. Thompson might agree to sit in the pew usually reserved for the mother of the groom.

Most people overlook a child's heart when it is buried under pain. Take the time to give a wounded child your love and he will learn to love the world. Love is very powerful. Use it's power wisely and someone will be the better for it.

Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

More Birthday Celebrations....

Although Lauren spent her real birthday with the Texas Rangers in Arlington, we had her family party a few days later.  She decorated for the occasion herself.....hence all of the Rangers' "stuff"!
Grammy (my mother-in-law) made Lauren's cake.  Didn't she do a terrific job???!!!  So cute, and I think the Rangers' organization might be calling her soon!  After the party, we froze part of the cake for the next part of her celebration.....
...a weekend long slumber party! 

 Unfortunately this picture is without one girl who had to leave early.  Some of these girls are local friends and some are from out of town.  They all met at our Bible camp several years ago and have been friends ever since.  It was fun for them to get together for a fun-filled weekend. 

A special part of their time together was that the girls all were able to go to Bible class and worship Sunday morning, as well as fellowship luncheon that day.  On a side note, that's 11 people getting dressed and ready on our house that morning and no one was late.  That's success! :)

Good friends!  Great weekend!

A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity. Proverbs 17:17

Monday, October 3, 2011

QMCC Ladies Fall Retreat

The 32nd Annual QMCC (Quartz Mountain Christian Camp) Ladies' Fall Retreat was held this past weekend.  It was a great time of worship, fellowship, and fun for all who were in attendance.
This year's theme was "In PURSE-uit of Holiness" with the play on words to use a purse decorating theme.
There were lots of purses everywhere - going along with the brown and turquoise color scheme.
This was Friday night's delicious meal.  The plates are so pretty!  (Not really that sturdy, but pretty :).  I like the square plates, don't you?
This year's t-shirt design was so cute!  I commented that each year's shirt is my favorite!
Bookmarks were made and handed out to those in attendance.
I can't post about QMCC without a picture of the cabins I grew up sleeping in when I attended camp in my growing up years.  The little "A" frame still brings back a lot of memories. It's the only one left on the QMCC grounds and this is one that was actually my cabin many times.
One of the newer cabins is shown here, right at sunrise, so it's in the dark.  They are nice....with bathrooms in them, as well as air conditioning...something we didn't have in the "A" frames!
Craft time at the retreat was especially fun.  This craft consisted of totes being decorated with ribbons, buttons, paint, flowers, jewels, trims, and a lot more.  So neat watching everyone create their own, unique project!
More crafting....
One of the finished totes...with a PURSE theme!
Another decorated tote...with buttons, a flower, and scriptures.
Friends decorating...
Another craft was using scrapbook papers and scriptures.  Very cute and fun! (This photo was with my camera, so looks really yellow.)
The retreat was an uplifting time spent together with sisters in Christ growing closer to each other and closer to God.

Each of the four speakers talked about holiness and shared God's Word in thier own unique way...encouraging each one there to continue to strive to pursue holiness in her own life.  It's always amazing to give one topic to four people and see how they use God's Word to portray the message in their own way.  
 The singing was beautiful! Hearing women sing together in that way is a sweet, sweet sound!  It makes me think of the singing that will be in Heaven!  (of course, men's voices are nice, too....but just neat to hear a bunch of ladies singing alone some times.)

Thank you to all who helped with the retreat this year, who attended the retreat, and who have volunteered to help with next years retreat.  It will be here before we know it!  (I'd better get busy! :)
 
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