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Monday, April 30, 2012

The Most Important Thing

Yesterday afternoon, I dropped off my daughter and a friend to begin rehearsals for the Oklahoma State FFA Convention Chorus.  We had a problem about an hour before I dropped them off, because my daughter happened to realize that she had left her chorus music at home.  She was upset, obviously, because she thought she remembered packing it and knew she would need it.  It was the "most important thing".....the main thing needed for the rehearsals.  Thankfully, the reason she had the music at home was because the chorus director is very well organized and sent it out a couple of weeks ago so that all of the chorus members would learn their words and tunes in advance.  So, she knew the words, but still needed the music.

Quickly we called and made arrangements to drop off the two girls, and I went about an hour towards home to meet my oldest son and mother-in-law (my husband was preaching out of town) with the music.  They drove about an hour and 15 minutes to meet me.  Not something in our plans for the afternoon, but something that we did to help out my daughter.

She kept thinking, as we all would do, "How could I forget the most important thing?"

Something occurred to me while I was doing all of that driving yesterday.  For my daughter, that music was the most important thing she needed at that time.  Tomorrow, at performance time, her most important thing would be the FFA jacket and other clothing items she is supposed to wear.  At others times, it would be something else.  Sometimes we all forget "the most important thing", don't we?

The most important thing, in reality, should be that we become Christians....that we live a faithful life and that we spend eternity with God and Jesus in Heaven.  There is NOTHING more important than that, is there?  However, many forget this.  Many forget this "most important thing" and neglect the Bible's teachings, believing that perhaps "someday" they'll become a Christian.  They reason that, "Someday I will give my life to the Lord.  Someday I'll commit my life to Christ and His church."  Someday.

Another important thing for us to realize is that we should help bring others to Him.  Our concern should be to go to Heaven and to take others with us.  That is just one of God's commandments....that we seek and save the lost.

Right now, in my life, the "most important thing" are actually the four people that are in our home.  To my husband and I,  they should be the ones we are striving to teach about living a life as a Christian, about staying faithful to God and the importance of His church.  They are the most important thing/people in our lives right now.  Not that we shouldn't try to teach others, but they are our responsibility and God expects us to teach them before anyone else, I am certain.

So, why is it that sometimes we forget the "most important thing"?  Are we too busy?  Too tired?  Too lazy?  Too proud?  Too selfish? Do we just put it off...thinking we have plenty of time to remember?  Do we neglect the important thing in any way at all?  Sadly, sometimes we do.

My daughter realizes now - even more - that she MUST make sure....make double sure.....and even triple sure, that she has everything she needs before she leaves home for trips.  This forgotten thing...this problem could be taken care of but other things might be impossible to fix.

Don't neglect taking care of the "most important thing" in your life.  Don't neglect becoming a Christian.  Don't neglect living a lift of faithfulness and giving your life to Him so that you can live with Him for eternity.  Don't forget/neglect to teach your children about Christ.  Don't neglect to bring them up in the "nurture and admonition of the Lord".  Don't neglect teaching them about His church and telling them/teaching them why it is important.

Don't forget the MOST IMPORTANT THING.


For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love.  For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.  But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins.

Therefore, my brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
2 Peter 1:5-11

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO JOE!

Today is my husband's birthday!  I decided to give him his own page on Facebook as a part of his birthday!  The only problem is that he's not a Facebook fan - at all!  I knew that he wouldn't be upset, but I also knew he would want it deleted on May 1.  However, I also knew that he would enjoy all of the birthday messages from friends.

I revealed the surprise to him this morning before he left for work.  As of now, he has 117 friends, in just a few days!  He pointed out the fact that no one would have known he was older if it wasn't for Facebook.  That's true!  And, that's one of the things that I like about Facebook - the ability to tell everyone happy birthday, that otherwise you wouldn't have known were having that special day.

So, I thank everyone for his special birthday wishes and helping make his day special!  Happy birthday, Joe!  I love you very much!  (I started to let this blog post be the way he found out that he even was on Facebook, but I was too excited to wait!)


Friday, April 27, 2012

D.E.N.Y. - Ditch Every No-good Yearning!

Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.  For whoever wants to save his life (meaning soul) will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it.
Mark 8:34-35

In three of the gospels there is an account of Jesus telling his disciples the same thing - that to follow him they must deny themselves, take up their cross and follow him.  That command from Jesus is still very relevant to Christians (his followers) today.  It's relevant to you and to me.  He is telling US to deny ourselves, to take up our cross, and to follow Him.

An acrostic for the word DENY could be "Ditch Every No-good Yearning" because the dictionary meaning of the word is "To refuse to recognize or acknowledge; to restrain oneself especially from indulgence in pleasures".  No-good stuff!


Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.
Matthew 16:24-25

There are so many "things" that can distract us from our walk with Jesus.  Satan is ready to give us a way-too-busy schedule or an excuse to keep us of the "good and narrow" path and sadly, sometimes he doesn't have to try too hard.  We must strive to stay focused and keep our eyes on Him.

Then he said to them all: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it.
Luke 9:23-24


So, how do you take up your cross and follow Jesus?  You sacrifice for others.  You sacrifice your time.  You sacrifice your rights.  You sacrifice your needs and wants for the sake of others.  You simply your lifestyle so you can give more financially to the needs of others.  You sacrifice your personal time, to help the needs of others.  You sacrifice your right to be recognized so that others are esteemed.   When you give, sacrifice, and love others the way Jesus did, you take up your cross and follow him.  You are worthy of him.  You are his disciple.

So D.E.N.Y. today!  Ditch Every No-good Yearning and follow Him!


Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Up or Down

When I started dating my now-husband, I was only 16.  He was 22, so it was a big age difference.  Because my mom knew his family and knew their strong Christian background, she never worried about him or our relationship.  My dad didn't, either.  He wasn't the typical, "no one's dating my daughter until she's 20" kind of dad (thankfully!).  But now that our oldest, and only daughter, is 17, and will be leaving home in a little more than a year, I think about my future son-in-law or with my boys, my future daughters-in-law.

There are some important questions to ask yourself if you are of the dating age.  As a Christian, there are some very tough questions that are of utmost importance.  Don't think that you can change someone.  Perhaps they will change on their own, and perhaps you can help them change some, but don't go into a relationship expecting it.  Go into the relationship thinking of it as an "as is" thing, if you will.  In other words, you don't want someone who will change to make you happy while dating, yet after marriage, go back to the way they used to be.  Look at their family.  Look at the way they treat their family, their neighbors, the poor, the sick, the lonely.  Look at their relationship with God.  

So, on to the questions:

Will my relationship with him/her bring me UP or bring me DOWN?
Will he/she help me grow closer to God or draw me further away?
When I am around him/her, does he/she lift me up or drag me down?
Does he/she encourage me or discourage me?
Will he/she stand up for what is morally right and ethically correct or will he/she go with the flow - even if it's wrong?
Is he/she interested in helping others, or does it seem like he/she is more concerned with himself/herself?
Is he/she striving to be closer to God, or is that personal relationship ever even talked about?
How does he/she feel about the church?  Is it important to him/her or is it something he/she feels really doesn't matter?
What does he/she believe about Jesus?  Has he/she given his/her life to him?  Is he/she totally committed to Him?
How does he/she talk about his/her parents, grandparents, siblings?

These are just a few important questions.  Of course, there are many, many more.  But as a Christian, the ones that show whether the person you are dating with draw you closer to God or draw you away from God is the most important of all.  There is no other relationship as important as the one you have with your Heavenly Father and the one you have with His Son and your Savior, Jesus.  Nothing is worth allowing that relationship to suffer.  Nothing.

These questions can be used for relationships with friends and co-workers, as well.  It is our duty as Christians to teach others and bring them to Christ, but we need to be careful that we are not being brought down in the process.  We want to be one who lifts others up, who bring others up with us, and ultimately, people who point others to Him.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Be Somebody

This past weekend I got a text from my sister.  She was watching her son play little league, kid-pitch baseball and said she had a blog post idea for me.  It seems that when some of the young boys (age11 or so) were up to bat, their parents would yell, "BE SOMEBODY!".  The thought that parents were doing this to their children appalled me, and her, obviously.

I wondered to myself, "So, if your child strikes out, is he not "somebody"?".  "If he pops the ball up in the air and is out immediately, is he not "somebody"?"  "Is your child only "somebody" if he does good and makes you feel proud?"  All kinds of questions and sadly there aren't many good answers.

The only thing a parent could possibly mean by yelling this to their child is "make me proud".  Sad, isn't it?  Do you see that in doing this it really has nothing to do with the success of the child, but it is totally directed towards what the parent gets out of it?  Perhaps these parents want little "Johnny" to feel good about himself, but doesn't it seem like they are more worried about how "they" feel about themselves.

Adults, if you grew up with parents who were never pleased with you unless you were performing well according to their standards I'm very, very sorry.  And "kids" of all ages, if you are still living your life to try to please you parents by the way you "perform" or "succeed", I'm very, very sorry.  Parents aren't perfect.  None of us are.  And, yes, the Bible says to honor your father and mother.  But here is something you need to know:  You don't have to prove that you are somebody by doing anything.  To "BE SOMEBODY" has nothing to do with sports, academics, or any worldly success at all.  You ARE SOMEBODY!!!

On this Gratituesday, I am GRATEFUL to say that you and I can "Be Somebody" without having to perform or succeed in any worldly matter!

You and I are SOMEBODY because we were created by a Heavenly Father who knit us in our mother's womb.  You and I are SOMEBODY because He is somebody.  You and I are SOMEBODY because He sent His one and ONLY SON to earth, to live life as a human, to die on the cross for YOUR sins and to give you and I the HOPE of eternal life with Him because of the SALVATION that is found only THROUGH HIM.  You and I are SOMEBODY because we are loved by a GOD who wants ua to live with Him forever and ever.  And in becoming a child of God, you and I are SOMEBODY when we have CHOSEN to follow Him daily and have GIVEN our lives, our hearts, and our SOULS to SOMEBODY WHO MATTERS.

To "BE SOMEBODY" has nothing to do with anything in this world. Don't ever let anyone tell you any different.

For you created my inmost being; 
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; 
your works are wonderful,    
I know that full well.
Psalm 139:13-14

Monday, April 23, 2012

Thank you, God


So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.
1 Corinthians 3:7

Friday, April 20, 2012

Do You Know This Guy? Justin Case

Maybe you've met him.  Maybe he's your friend, too.  Meet my friend......or my partner in sin......or my partner in good deeds:  Justin Case.  Sometimes he helps me with my excuses and as a way to validate my fears, but sometimes he helps me do good and helps me to serve others in need.  It depends on my thoughts and my motives.

Here are some examples of Justin Case partnering with me in sin:

Yes, I see that "Mary" is hurting and lonely, but I'm not the person who should go see about her....Just-in-Case I say the wrong thing, and make matters worse.

I would help with the benefit fundraiser for the family who lost everything in a fire, but I need to keep this extra money I have Just-in-Case I have a fire or something catastrophic happen in my life.

They called and ask me to teach Bible class tomorrow, but I told them no.  I better stay home Just-in-Case I don't feel well.  I never know what is going to happen and don't want to commit to anything.

I know that idea is unethical and wrong, but if I say anything, I made get made fun of.....and I certainly don't want that.  I don't like persecution, so I'll just keep quiet....Just-in-Case.

Now, here are some examples of Justin Case helping me do good:

"Susie" just got home from the hospital. I'm going to call her "Just-in-Case" she needs someone to help her with something.

I'll make a cake and have it ready and in the freezer "Just-in-Case" there is a need for more food to take to the new family in town.

I called to volunteer to help teach Bible class Sunday, "Just-in-Case" someone is going to be gone and they can't find a substitute.

My donation to the church for VBS can be used to help teach children about Jesus.  I'll give it now Just-in-Case we are low in funds in that particular area of our budget.

You see?  Justin Case can be a good guy or a bad guy....depending on how I depend on him.  It all depends on my motives in letting him be my friend.  He is standing there ready with an excuse if I need it, or ready to help me find ways to help and serve others.

Justin Case:  Is he your partner in sin or your helper in service and good deeds?


What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it?In t he same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.
 But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.”
   Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do.  You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.
  You foolish man, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? Was not our ancestor Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar?  You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,”and he was called God’s friend.  You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone.
James 2:14-24

Thursday, April 19, 2012

It's Your Time to Bloom

Tuesday night I had the opportunity to speak at a Ladies' Night Out with the ladies of the Tamarack Road  church in Altus.  There were visitors from other congregations, as well.  The theme was, "It's Your Time to Bloom!" 
In the lesson, using the life cycle of a plant's life, I compared it to the life cycle of a woman's life.  The point of it all is that, no matter what stage of life you and I are in, we should be blooming.....serving God and following Christ. The part I especially want to mention is the "Motherhood" part.
The Tamarack ladies wanted a skit and I found a site that wrote skits. The problem was, I didn't find it until just the week before the event!  Thankfully, the sweet writer from www.skitsandstuff.com was just as excited about writing the skit and I was in her writing it for us!  The way the site works is that you pay $10 for them to write the skit, then they make it available online for others to by.  If you are interested in the skit, which is based on the moms from Tim McElmore's book, "iY Generation", please visit Skits and Stuff.  Of course there are many other skits available on the site, as well.
What was so neat about the skit was that the Tamarack Road ladies only got it and worked on it Monday night!  The event was Tuesday! However, you would never have known they worked on it only one evening.  It worked out perfectly!
There is something special about being with your sweet sisters in Christ.  Thank you, ladies, for inviting me to share God's Word with you and be together with you for that special evening.

So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The man who plants and the man who waters have one purpose, and each will be rewarded according to his own labor.
1 Corinthians 3:7-8

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Crushed Spirit

Sometimes you can be going through your day and "BAM!", something happens that knocks you down.  Maybe it's hurtful words from someone.  Maybe it's your own insecurities. Maybe it's just the feeling of failure or the inability to reach what you believe someone expects from you.  Either way, you feel defeated.  Your spirit is crushed.  You've lost your zeal.

It's really, really hard, at times, to not let those roadblocks get the best of you.  It's hard to not allow the hurtful words of others to bring you down.  Sometimes it is hard to rise above and hold your head high.  It's even harder watching this from the outside - as a parent or a friend.  You want to help, but you really can't.  All you can do is to be there for them and to listen to them.

We know that God can help with those who are crushed in spirit.  His Spirit can help us.  His Word can help.   At those "knocked down" times, we can take comfort in knowing that He is there - ready too help us get back up.

If you are feeling crushed or knocked down, pray for Him to help strengthen you.  Meditate on His Words and claim His promises.  He will hear you and He will strengthen you.  He'll help you get back up and help raise your spirits, as well.

We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.
2 Corinthians 4:8-9

Monday, April 16, 2012

What Do You Fear?


My oldest two children will be participating in a speech contest tomorrow morning at an FFA competition.  My son is using this story as an introduction, and I wanted to share it with you:

********

Two old geezers lived in the backwoods of the Ozarks: Rufus and Clarence.  They lived on opposite sides of the river and hated each other. Every morning Rufus and Clarence would go down to their respective sides of the river and yell at each other.

"Rufus!" Clarence would shout, "You better thank your lucky stars that I can’t swim, er I’d swim this river and whup you!"

"Clarence!" Rufus would holler back, "You better thank YOUR lucky stars that I can’t swim, er I’d swim this river and whup YOU!"

Every morning. Every day. For 20 years.

The Army Corp of Engineers came along and built a bridge at the river, but the insults continued every morning.  Every Day.  Another five years.

Finally, Mr. Rufus’ wife had had enough. "Rufus!" she squallered one day, "I can’t take no more! Every day for 25 years you’ve been threatenin’ to whup Clarence. Well, thar’s the bridge! Have at it!"

Rufus thought for a moment. Chewed his bottom lip for another moment.

"Woman!" he declared, "I’m gonna whup Clarence!"

He walked out the door, down to the river, came to the bridge, walked about halfway over the bridge, then turned tail and ran screaming back to the house.  He slammed the door, bolted the windows, grabbed the shotgun and dove under the bed.

"Rufus!" cried the missus. "I thought you was gonna whup Clarence!"

"I was, woman, I was!" he whispered.

"What in tarnation is the matter?"

"Well," whispered the terror-stricken Rufus, "I walked halfway over the bridge and saw a sign that said, “’Clearance, 13 feet, 6 inches.’ He ain’t never looked that big from the other side of the river!"

******

Have you ever hesitated at an opportunity? Has something ever caused you to pause because it was a whole lot bigger than you thought it was? Often times the things we fear aren't really as scary as we imagine them to be, yet we let the fear of it immobilize us. 

God tells us over and over:  Do not fear.  I am with you.  I will give you strength.  Yet time after time, we chicken out or turn away and run.

What fear do you need to face?  What is keeping you from facing your fear?  Is your fear causing you to doubt God's promises?

Cross the bridge and face it!  Not with self-confidence, but with GOD-confidence.  He will help  you!

The Lord is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; Of whom shall I be afraid
Psalm 27:1


Friday, April 13, 2012

They Are New Every Morning

When our new addition on our house was finished in December, 2011, our oldest son made this statement, "Mom, I don't think I'll ever get used to the new part."  Our daughter - the oldest - agreed, especially since she would be leaving for college in a year and a half.  It made me a little sad.  I was excited about having more room, but didn't like the thought of change, especially if the two oldest weren't thinking it would feel like home.

I enjoyed the new space from the start and it only took a few days to really get used to it because it was so nice having more room, but what surprised me was that within a couple of months that oldest boy made another statement:  "Mom, I don't really even remember what our house looked like before this new part was here!"  Wow!  How did just a few months' time change his opinion? Because it was still home!  It still felt like home!  And, most likely he was enjoying being in his bedroom all by himself and without his two younger brothers in there with him.

One of the first thing I do every morning after waking up the kids is to open the blinds in the new addition part.  I love having east windows that I didn't have before and being able to see the sun coming up or just barely up.  It's a great start to the new day and makes me think of God and all of His wonderful blessings.

Lately as I've opened up the blinds, I've thought of this song:  "The Steadfast Love of the Lord".  Maybe you know it.  It's based on this verse:

The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases, 
his mercies never come to an end; 
they are new every morning; great is thy faithfulness. 
"The LORD is my portion," says my soul, 
"therefore I will hope in him."
Lamentations 3:22-24

Just like we got used to our new addition, but enjoy it every day, we may get used to God's mercy and love; however, getting "used" to His love, shouldn't make us think less about it at all.  In fact, each morning we should realize that it's a new day and that yesterday is over.  God's mercy is "new every morning".  It's a clean slate!  He doesn't hold grudges like we sometimes do.  He doesn't love conditionally like we sometimes do.  He is ready, willing, and able to forgive us when we confess our sins if we are walking in the light.  He will make us spotless and clean by the redeeming blood of Jesus.


This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth.  But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.

  If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.
1 John 1:5-10

They are new every morning!  What a refreshing thought!


Thursday, April 12, 2012

Who Are You?

Nevertheless, God’s solid foundation stands firm, sealed with this inscription: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness.”
2 Timothy 2:19

If someone were to ask, "Who are you?", what would you say?  You would probably blurt out your name.  That would be logical.

What if they asked again, "But, who are you?"  If it were me, I could answer, "I am Joe's wife.  I am mom to L, Z, J, and T."

Maybe they asked again, "Who are you?"  I would probably be getting annoyed by this time, but I would go into details about things I do, "I'm a blogger.  I'm a Bible class teacher.  I'm a 4-H leader.  I'm a PTO president.....etc"  I would give more details about who I am.

So, let's say the "asker" (not a word, but you know what I mean, I think...) is God, and He is asking, "Who are you?"  Now how do you answer?  What is your answer?

For me, I would say, "I am your child.  I am a follower of your Son, Jesus.  I am a Christian."  I would want to identify with Him and have Him hear me say those specific things because He is the judge of my eternal life.  I would want to make sure He knew where I stood.....firmly, without waiver.

Hmmmmmmm, isn't that just what He asks us to do as His children?  The Bible says in many, many places to confess with our mouths, doesn't it?  So, why, if we were asked by a random person who we are, would we not say "Christ follower" or "Christian" first or at least in part of the conversation?  What makes it so difficult for us to "confess Him" to others, even though we know that is what He wants from us?  Is it fear?  Perhaps.  We're not sure what the reactions of others is going to be.

Remember Peter?  He strongly confessed Christ, but then later denied him three times, after assuring Him that he could never deny Him.  (Luke 9:18-27 and Matthew 26:73-75)

The confession we make at our conversion to Christ isn't a one-time thing, but something we show daily, be the words we choose, by our actions, by our reactions, and by our choices.  We confess Him by striving to live for Him daily and by following Him daily.

Who are YOU?

But what does it say? “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,” that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming: That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. As the Scripture says, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame." 
Romans 10:8-11


Nevertheless, God’s solid foundation stands firm, sealed with this inscription: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness.”
Hebrews 13:15-16



Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Unless

One of my favorite quotes in Dr. Seuss' book/movie "The Lorax" is this:  "Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not." It's a true statements, isn't it?  A big part of the movie deals with the word "UNLESS".  It's meaning is just what the quote says...that unless someone cares, nothing will get better.


It reminds me of the "Taters".  You've probably heard of them.  You're probably one of them yourself.  The important question to ask yourself is "Which One Are You?"



Some people never seem motivated to participate but are just content to watch while others do the work. They are called "Spec Taters."
Some people are very bossy and like to tell others what to do, they don't want to soil their own hands. They are called "Dick Taters."
Some people are always looking to cause problems by asking others to agree with them. It is too hot or too cold, too sour or too sweet. They are called "Agi Taters."
There are those who say they will help, but somehow never around to actually doing the promised help. They are called "Hesi Taters."
Some people can put a front and pretend to be someone they are not. They are called "Emma Taters."
Then there are those who love others and do whatever they say they will. They are always prepared to stop whatever they are doing and lend a helping hand. They bring sunshine into the lives of others. They are called, "Sweet Taters."

I'm not sure who wrote this "Tater" tale, but it makes a good point, doesn't it? UNLESS you and I are "Sweet Taters", we've got some changing to do, don't we?  The thing is, we have to care enough.  We have to care enough to make a difference wherever we are.  It's easy to get down.  It's easy to get discouraged.  God will help us if we ask Him to.


UNLESS.  You can make a difference!


Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
Philippians 2:4

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another."
John 13:34-35



Monday, April 9, 2012

Tipton Home Alumni 2011 - Fun Day

Every Easter weekend, the Tipton Home celebrates Homecoming for all alumni.  This year was the 88th year of existence for Tipton Home and a special theme that included the work that the Southwest church of Christ in Oklahoma City, has provided for the children of Tipton Home for many, many years.  
That "work" is called Fun Day.  The Christian brothers and sisters bring games, toys, food, and lots of fun to the children ever summer.  This year at homecoming, the "Fun Day" people were honored by making the alumni celebration in the theme of "Fun Day". 
Mrs. Davis, Tipton Home employee for decades, did a wonderful job at organizing the event, as always.  There was good food, fun, and fellowship all morning and afternoon.
This photo is of a clown that came to Fun Day for many years.  Such a cute picture!
Mrs. Davis displayed numerous photos of Fun Day through the years, had another employee make a picture video, and planned for the Southwest members in attendance to be given a much-deserved award for their service. 
This year I was asked to help Mrs. Davis with some of the decorating.  If you follow "Shine Like Stars", you know that I gladly said, "YES!".  So much fun and such a great work/theme.
More from Fun Days through the years....
 
 ....and more....
 Aren't the centerpieces cute?
 The little hot dogs are dog toys, I think.  So cute!
 Elementary children singing several songs for the alumni.
 Mr. Canan is a former Southwest member who helped with Fun Day years ago, but now serves as a houseparent at Tipton Home, so he has experienced Fun Day from both sides!
 Mr. Smith honoring the Southwest members with a plaque.
 Many alumni came to visit this year.
 My husband's parents were houseparents for 12 years.  This photo is his parents, he and his siblings, and many of their boys/friends.  The big trophy was a traveling trophy won at Fun Day one year!
This photo is my husband and our youngest at a Fun Day several years ago.  It looks like daddy is sharing the snowcone with Tyler!

What a great weekend celebration!  Thank you, alumni, for coming HOME so that we can visit with you and enjoy your company!  Thank you, Southwest, for your many years of service and dedication to the children at Tipton Home!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Opening Day

My family is excited!  Today is Opening Day for Texas Rangers baseball!!  We look forward to watching games, attending games, and keeping up with our favorite team.

Some friends are excited about Friday being Opening Day for hunting wild turkeys.  I've heard there are a lot of wild turkeys around, so the hunters should be very successful.

It occurred to me that there is another Opening Day for which we should all be excited, thankful, and humbled.  This Opening Day happened over 2,000 years ago, yet is celebrated often.  In fact, for many Christians, this Opening Day is celebrated every first day of the week during communion.

What Opening Day am I referring to?  Do you know?  YES!  The Opening Day I'm referring to is the day when the tomb was opened.....when the stone was rolled away, and when Jesus arose!!  That is the best Opening Day there could ever be.  I pray that you celebrate it, not just once a year, but every day by thinking of Him and also on each first day of the week with your Christian brothers and sisters.  Because Jesus arose, we have the hope of eternal life!  He defeated death!

Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb and they asked each other, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?”  But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away.
Mark 16:2-4

After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.


There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow.


The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. 
Matthew 28:1-6a



There will be another Opening Day some day.  When Jesus comes back, there will be an Opening Day of sorts.  On this Opening Day.....Judgement Day......books will be opened and each of us will be judged.  We will be judged according to what had been recorded in the books.



On that day, there will be an opening of the book of life.  Many names will be written there.  Those whose names are written will be saved.  Those whose name is not found will not be saved, but thrown into the lake of fire.


Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. Earth and sky fled from his presence, and there was no place for them.  And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books.  The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done.  Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death.  If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.
Revelation 20:11-15

At the resurrection of the unsaved, the time of judgment, there is no second chance for those who have rejected Christ: "He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power."
2 Thessalonians 1:9



OPENING DAY.....ARE YOU READY?!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Who Matters?

When our son Jacob was little, he would get his phrases all mixed up. (Well, truthfully, he's 13 and still does some times!!) If one of his siblings got under his skin or upset him, instead of saying 'Who cares?' as his rebuttal to them, he would say, 'Who matters?'.  I didn't want him to say 'who cares' so he would get in trouble for the whole thing, but at the same time, I would also explain to him that what he was trying to say was 'who cares' because the other phrase didn't make sense.  He was meaning, "What does it matter to you?", I think.  I would also explain to him that HE matters, that EVERYONE matters.

Today I was driving down the road and thinking of Jacob and his "Who Matters?" days. As bugs smashed into the windshield, I thought about how small they are in the scope of the great, big world.  They're so tiny!  But then I thought of myself.  In the scope of the great, big world, I'm tiny, too.  And so are you!  In fact, when you think about it, we're so tiny, it's like we don't even matter, isn't it?  Our problems, our worries, our goals, our dreams.....all of them seems like they don't matter if you look at it that way.  But then, there's another way to look at it.....

Just as I would explain to Jacob that he mattered and everyone matters, God wants us to know that, even though we may feel tiny and as if we don't matter, to Him we certainly do matter!  To Him, it's as if YOU are the only person alive.  He loves you totally and completely and unconditionally!  And to Him, I matter.  He loves ME totally, completely, and unconditionally!  You and I matter because we were created by a God who matters.  Those who are Christians matter because we were saved by a man - Jesus Christ - who mattered.  Baptized believers are filled with a Spirt who matters.

If you ever have a day where you're asking if you matter, remember that you do.  You really do.  You matter to God.  And that is enough.


He shielded him and cared for him; 
                                he guarded him as the apple of his eye... 
Deuteronomy 32:10b

Satisfied

This spring, as I've been driving around to different place to attend my children's school activities, I've seen a lot of scenes like this one:  Cattle laying down in lush, green pastures.  It's interesting to see this because last year, with the drought, you didn't see cattle lying down too often because they were constantly trying to find food.  The food was sparse and with four stomachs to fill, the cattle were having a difficult time!  

This year it seems the cattle are satisfied.  They can rest and relax instead of constantly eating and eating and chewing and chewing.  (On a side note: Some of us humans constantly eat and eat and chew and chew, but we only have one stomach.  Just an observation. I'm not pointing any fingers at you or me!) 

There's a really pretty song out right now that I've heard several times by Jewel called, "Satisfied".  The lyrics are really good and have to do with telling people that you love them and the feeling you get in your heart/mind knowing that you've done all you needed to do.  The song's chorus ends with this phrase, "That feeling inside - that's called satisfied".

The definition of satisfied is content or pleased.  It's a feeling inside, just as the song lyrics suggest.  The cattle are satisfied because their tummies are full.  Their basic needs are met:  food and water.  They need nothing else at this time.

We humans have a harder time becoming satisfied.  We always want more.  More money.  More time.  More opportunities.  More everything, it seems.  But what we think will make us satisfied, may not make us so, at all.  In fact, the more we get sometimes, the more we want or think we need.  Another song, from the popular Lorax movie that is out now, shows a side of wanting more that is quite the opposite of being satisfied:

Greed...ya see, it's like a little pet, alright?And the more and more and more that you go and feed it,The more hungry it'll get!But...you know, you really can't blame greedNo, that's stupid. (Note from me:  I don't like it having the word "stupid" in there, but it still makes a good point.)You see, it's gotta worm inside.  Oh yeah, that's right.It's one that always needs to feed,And it is never satisfied.You get it?But the more you try to find it,The more it likes to hide.Now listen--that is NASTY little worm.And I like to call it "pride.
Many people search all of their lives for "more", yet never feel like they are satisfied.  Sadly even Christians sometimes continue to fill their desire to be satisfied with worldly things or other people.  There's an empty feeling deep inside us that can't truly be filled with anything from here on this earth.  Only being satisfied spiritually, by putting our faith, hope, and trust in God and by making a decision to follow Jesus no matter what can truly fill this desire.  We are then filled with His Spirit, filled to the measure of all fullness (see below).  Only then are we truly SATISFIED.
For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ,  and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:14-19
And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.Philippians 1:9-11

 
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