Thursday, November 29, 2012

I Have Decided to Follow Jesus

This song came to mind a few days ago:  "I Have Decided to Follow Jesus".  I jotted down a few other thoughts along with the song title, then thought about what that song means to me.

For me, the day I decided to follow Jesus, I decided to follow Him without exception.  It doesn't mean that I've always followed closely or haven't had a few detours along the way.  I have.  There have been times in my life that I didn't pray like I should, or study and read the Bible like I should, or strive to live a holy life like I should.  At times I was following, but not very close.  But I never quit following.  That's the key.  As the song lyrics say, "No turning back".

I urge you, brothers and sisters, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them. 18 For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people. 19 Everyone has heard about your obedience, so I rejoice because of you; but I want you to be wise about what is good, and innocent about what is evil.
Romans 16:17-19

I'll never forget sitting in a Bible class and the teacher was talking about worshipping together and class.  One sweet lady said, "Sometimes it's hard to decide whether to come or not."  She meant well and was very sincere, I know, but something struck me as odd with her statement.  The "decide" part.  That isn't something I ever do - "decide" whether or not to go to worship or Bible class.  To me, that decision was decided the moment I became a Christian and had my sins forgiven.  Why would I ever have to decide whether to worship Him with my church family?

Maybe you do have to decide whether to worship each Sunday or Wednesday or to be involved in any works of the church.  Maybe for you it is a choice each time.  If so, please consider this:  What if God made a choice about your salvation each of those times?  He doesn't, and He won't.  That's not how He deals with His children.  But what if He did?  We wouldn't think much about His free gift, would we?  We wouldn't think He loved us as much as He says He does, would we?  So what are you telling God by the way you live?  By the way your worship?  By the way you think about His church that you are a part of?  YOU are the church - the church He gave His one and only Son for!

Commit to the Lord whatever you do,  and he will establish your plans.
Proverbs 16:3

A few of the words in the "I Have Decided to Follow Jesus" song say, "tho' none go with me, I still will follow", and "my cross I'll carry 'til I see Jesus".  When we sing those words, we should mean them.  If no one else follows Him - I will!  I will carry my cross until I see Jesus!  Following Jesus may mean going alone - without your spouse and without your family.  Following Jesus means following daily and not making it a daily decision.  It should be a one-time decision - without wavering faith.  Yes, at times our faith may be stronger and then at time it may be weaker, but it's still there.  The faith doesn't go away.

By taking up your cross daily, you are telling Jesus you are willing to follow Him by denying yourself. Maybe you want to go shopping instead of worshipping Him.  You deny yourself.  Maybe you want to go golfing instead of helping with the food baskets for the needy.  You deny yourself.  Maybe you need more money so you take a job that will keep you totally away from meeting with your church family at all.  You deny yourself.

God will bless those who love Him and serve Him.  He wants you to decide to follow Him once and to keep that commitment to Him.  If you've recently decided to quit following Him, please reconsider. He will keep His commitment to you because He loves you so very much!

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. 24 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. 25 What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self? 
Luke 9:23-25

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Body and Soul

And now, O Israel, what does the LORD your God ask of you but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.
Deuteronomy 10:12

Below is a great quote from C.S. Lewis, but I'm not sure many in the world believe this truth.  Our soul will live on after our body dies.  We spend lots of time taking care of our bodies.  What is more important is that we spend time taking care of our souls.  

Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.
1 Peter 2:11-12

For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?  For the Son of Man is going to comein his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done.
Matthew 16:25-27

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Hide it in Your Heart

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.
Colossians 3:16

Sunday our preacher challenged us to get into God's Word even more, by memorizing scriptures.  He talked about the "Armor of God" and the sword, which is the Word.....God's Word.....that will give us what we need to fight in the battle against Satan.

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

As the end of 2012 comes, and the new year begins soon, many people will make resolutions.  These resolutions often have to do with the Bible:  Reading it through in a year, reading it every day, or maybe as Ken's challenge suggested, memorize more scriptures throughout the year.

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

As Christians, we need God's Word in our lives.  We need to be able to use it to fight against Satan and the evil in the world.  But we can't use it if we don't know it.

How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word.
Psalm 119:9

Followers of God will want to know what His Word has to say.  We will be eager to read it and to learn it.  Or we should be.....

Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your word.
Psalm 119:37

You and I can't rely on someone else to read God's Word for us.  We can go to Bible class.  We can listen to sermon after sermon.  We can even teach children about the Bible.  But unless we're actually reading it and studying it for ourselves, we will never grow and mature as God wants us to.  We will never become more like Jesus without reading about how Jesus lived.  We can know about Him, but we won't come to know Him personally.

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.
2 Timothy 2:15

God's Word - the Bible - is truth.  It is the ONLY source of what is really truth and what is really right. It has all of the answers we need about any subject.  We don't need any other self-help books.  The Bible is all we really need.

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.
James 1:22

People in other countries must risk their lives to read their Bible.  They have to sneak around and hide to get together to study God's Word.  Yet we in America have it right in our homes and neglect it.  Why?  Because we in American have too much stuff.  We're too busy.  We want to be  entertained.  How sad.  So often we don't realize the treasure we have in God's Word!

Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. John 17:17

His Word is all we need.  Do you believe that?

Monday, November 26, 2012

Thanksgiving 2012

 
Thanksgiving is all about traditions for our family.  Although we've added a few things along the years, for the most part, Thanksgiving Eve, Thanksgiving Day, and the day after Thanksgiving has been the same for longer than I've been a part of my husband's side of the family.  And that's been over 25 years!
Some things are different.  Everyone is older.  Some grandkids have married.  Some now have children of their own.  And some people are no longer with us.  My husband's grandmother passed away a few years ago.  His dad passed away this past June.  Things were different without him here, but still....things were also the same.  The guys still played 42.  Many of us still played Liverpool (Rummy).  We still had hot rolls.  We still had cinnamon rolls.  His memory lives on and always will.
Thanksgiving Eve's tradition is worship in song with our church family.  By that evening all of our relatives are in town.  It is the very first memory I have of Thanksgiving with my husband's side of the family and quickly became one of my very favorite parts of the celebration. It's a time we all look forward to all year long.  The acapella singing is BEAUTIFUL! There's nothing like it.  Not only is our whole family in attendance, but so are many other families who have relatives in from all over the place.  Men - both young and old and in-between -  participate in the service, leading us in songs of praise to our Heavenly Father.
Our annual "Turkey Trot" (5K), held on Thanksgiving morning, was won by one of our nephews this year.  He's won it a few other years, as well.  How do you like his prize - the turkey hat?  He also gets his name on a plaque. Another nephew videoed the whole Thanksgiving time together this year.  We can wait to see his talents used on a family video that everyone can see!  One of the runners commented that he felt like they were at a 'big city' marathon, with the camera tracking their run as a car followed the lead runners!  Most likely the video will become a new yearly tradition!
This interesting metal turkey served as the marker for the starting line and finishing line for the race.  Later on the turkey had other duties.... :)
Our youngest son was so excited to spend time with his oldest 2nd cousin and the first great-grandchild of our family.  They had lots of fun together!
See...the turkey became the guardian of the dessert table after the race!  Too bad he didn't squawk if he saw someone eating too much dessert!  I think it he had done that, he would have lost his place at the table, don't you?
Here's a sampling of the huge amount of food we had for our Thanksgiving dinner.  This is my oldest son's plate.....before the homemade roll was added.  Yum!  It was delicious, as always!  I never get tired of the leftovers.
The annual "cousin" picture is always fun.  There are four grandkids/spouses missing, plus three great-grandkids missing for this picture, but still a big group for the annual "BASH"!
One of my nephews painted a Mike Witkowski pumpkin for Halloween.  It looked pretty neat sitting with all of the other pumpkins all ready to be hit at the annual pumpkin bash.  Funny thing was that the 'eye' part of that pumpkin never got smashed! Later the eye was sitting in a pile of smashed pumpkins....totally intact!  I should have gotten a picture!
For the first time ever, my mother-in-law participated in the bashing.  She usually comes to the bashing, just doesn't usually participate.  She was quite the slugger!  Hit every single one! The special effects of the pumpkin splattering is our favorite part of the event.....unless the pumpkin is rotten and squirts all over us!  Then it's just plain GROSS!  Thankfully her pumpkin wasn't too yucky....just a lot of fun!
For the second year in a row, we've had a new tradition added to our Thanksgiving weekend:  A playoff game for our HS football team!  And, for the second year in a row, we're headed to the STATE CHAMPIONSHIP GAME!  The only part of the tradition we want to change is that last year we came in as State Runner-Up and this year we want to be - and expect to be - the STATE CHAMPIONS and bring home the GOLD ball!

I pray you had a blessed Thanksgiving.....full of thankfulness, family, food, and fun!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Thank You!

I hope you have had a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend.  It occurred to me that I didn't say "Happy Thanksgiving" on my blog this year as I usually do, so this is a few days late, but still heart-felt.  I want to say "Thank You!" to all of YOU.  I appreciate my blog readers and am thankful for your encouragement by comments on here, Facebook, email, and in person.

"Shine Like Stars" has thousands of visitors a month and hundreds of daily subscribers.  Some of you I know personally, but many I do not know at all.  So I thank you for visiting.  I thank you for reading.  I pray that you are always blessed by visiting "Shine Like Stars" and that it encourages you to SHINE wherever you are - each and every day!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Our First Broken Bone - Wonderfully Made!

Around 9:15 p.m. last night, our 14 year old son, Jacob, was playing basketball and giving 100%, but trailing by over 40 points.  There were just a few minutes left in the game, so it wasn't a close game, but our team continued to play hard.  The opposing team shot and Jacob tried to steal the ball or interrupt the play going full speed.
(Jacob giving me a silly face so I could send a pic to his siblings at home.)

A mat covering a brick wall a few feet behind the goal, didn't do much to protect Jacob's arm as he went full speed into the mat - putting his arm out to help him slow down.  The speed and force broke Jacob's arm immediately.  He dropped to the ground.  My husband saw him drop, but thought it was his knees (Osgood Schlatter).  He said to me, "Jacob just got hurt!".  When we looked down the court we could see Jacob lying on the ground, holding up his right arm.  But the arm wasn't shaped like a regular arm.  The bottom of it was an "S" shape.  My husband and I jumped up, raced down the bleachers and across the court to Jacob.  The game was stopped and actually just called.  Everyone knew immediately that Jacob's break was pretty bad.  Arms aren't supposed to be "S" shaped!
The first thing Jacob said to me when I went to him was,  "Mom, don't look."  I said, "I already did," trying to stay calm, pray, and keep Jacob from worrying.  He was fine the whole time.  Our youngest boy (Biscuit) was with us.  He was crying.  He didn't like seeing his brother in pain or on the ground like that.  The first thing he said to Jacob was, "How are we going to play football?"  Sympathy came later.  The important thing at the time (to Biscuit) was the fact that Jacob's ball playing was over for a while.
The opposing team called nurses in their small town and the school officials called the ambulance.  The nurses did their best to immobilize Jacob's arm.  Jacob was transported to the nearest hospital where he was evaluated.   After x-rays, it was determined that Jacob needed more than just a cast, but would need surgery.  We wanted Jacob taken on to the hospital where my husband's orthopedic doctor was and where their pediatrician is located.  However, after talking with the doctor there, he felt like Jacob should be taken to a pediatric hospital in Oklahoma City.  That hospital was full with trauma patients (so sad) so he was taken to a different hospital in the City. My husband rode with him in the ambulance while I took Biscuit home to stay with his older siblings.  By then it was 12:30 a.m.

The ambulance arrived at the hospital about 3:15 a.m. and I got there at 3:45 a.m.  New x-rays were taken to compare with earlier ones.  I could tell when I walked in a saw Jacob's arm that it wasn't a bad "S" shape.  In fact, it didn't look very bad at all.  The x-ray showed the same thing - that the bones had naturally moved back into their natural position.  Still broken, but now no surgery was needed!  Praise God!  Isn't it amazing how He created our bodies so wonderfully?!?

Jacob's arm was splinted and around 5:00 a.m., we headed towards home....stopped to fill pain medicine prescriptions and to eat.  None of us had slept in almost 24 hours at that time.  Jacob would need to get a cast on within a week and sees the orthopedic doctor tomorrow.

It was amazing to watch Jacob.  He was never scared....never worried....never upset the whole time.  It was the first broken bone in our 18 years with our children. (My husband had a few - his first broken bones - several years ago.)  We've been very fortunate.

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful,  I know that full well.
Psalm 139:14

Jacob wanted to go to school for a little while when he got home.  He wanted to take the test that he needed to, but also wanted to show his teammates and other kids, who had been at the game, that he was okay.  They were so glad to see him and hear about his interesting night.  

As Biscuit and I left the hospital last night, I told him I needed to cry for a few minutes.  He said okay.  Before that I had stayed totally calm, even though the site of the arm made my stomach turn.  I just didn't like leaving Jacob and knowing I wouldn't see him for several hours....and not sure if he would go right into surgery or what.  I also was sad that it was Thanksgiving week - a huge, tradition-filled week for our family.  I didn't want Jacob to have to miss any of it.  And now he won't.  Prayers were answered through those few moments of tears.

I didn't take a picture of Jacob right after he got hurt...with his "S" shaped arm and a swarm of people all around.  I thought that might make me look like a weird/strange/sad mom!  But now I really wish I had!  I think he'll wish I had too, someday.  So....if you EVER see something weird and think, "Should I take a picture?"  Do it!  You'll probably regret it if you don't!

We are so very thankful for all of the friends and fans of our team and the other team...plus the school officials, coaches, nurses, EMT's, and doctors that helped care for Jacob.  But God is the ultimate healer, and I believe that He worked in Jacob's life last night....and still is...to heal his arm.  And for that I am extremely thankful.  Prayers aren't always answered immediately.  Last night they were.  Thank you, God!

Monday, November 19, 2012

The Race Set Before You

Last night my family (excluding me....I'm the photographer, not a runner) ran in a race with several others from our church family. Typically this race is held on a Saturday night.  We were all disappointed that it was changed to a Sunday night, but quickly realized that many wanted to run, so we got together and had an afternoon devotional before heading to the race.  I always think it is a good idea to show children (and adults, but especially children) that you don't have to be in a certain building to worship God.  We can worship ANYWHERE!  Isn't that a great thing?!?

His devotional had to do with the race that is set before us, as Christians. 

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.  Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.
1 Corinthians 9:24-25
I thought I got a picture of my husband with the kids, but I guess not!  My kiddos did very well in their races!  Two ran the 1 mile and placed 1st in their age groups.  Two ran the 5K and one finished 3rd in his age group.  The other one didn't finish the race. He's been having knee trouble and he didn't want to mess up anything for his basketball game Monday night!   But, all is well because he won a door prize!! 

My husband did the 5K as well.  He figured out that if he runs long enough, he'll eventually win the "oldest runner" award! :)

You were running a good race. Who cut in on you and kept you from obeying the truth? That kind of persuasion does not come from the one who calls you.
Galatians 5:7-8
My husband's sister and our brother-in-law serve as houseparents at Tipton Home (a children's home).  These are their sweet little girls.  They've gotten them active and interested in running!  One of them placed 3rd in her age division.  Another girl won a door prize!

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.
2 Timothy 4:7-8
This is one of my favorite pictures from last night.  It's my sister-in-law running across the finish line holding hands with one of her little ones.  How sweet!  And, my sister-in-law placed 3rd in her age division, as well!

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
Hebrews 12:1-3
(Grinch giving hugs...:)

Friday, November 16, 2012

MARY POPPINS DIDN'T COME

For the past five days I've been trying to get my Christmas decorations up.  I realize five days sounds like plenty of time to get it all up, but the problem is that those five days just ended up being parts of five days - and sometimes small parts of five days.  And it also could be that I have boo-coos of Christmas decorations.  Yes, that is probably a big part of the problem.

So last night I went to bed thinking about how neat it would be if Mary Poppins showed up and finished my decorating for me.  I awoke this morning knowing everything would be done and in place - just like I wanted it.  But you know what?  She didn't come!  What do you think about that?!  I know.  I was disappointed, too.

Of course I knew Mary Poppins wouldn't come and just snap her fingers or wave her hand and get everything 'spit spot'.  I know I'll have to get it into shape myself.  But I can dream, can't I? :)

Sometimes we treat God like He is a Mary Poppins type of 'character'.  We ask for this or that....hope and wish for this and that.....but are disappointed when He doesn't do the quick fix we want Him to do. But God may want us to pray about something diligently before He grants the request.  Maybe He wants us to rely on Him and His power and strength, instead of thinking about Him as just being some fairy-tale character, or a genie in a bottle who wants to grant all of our wishes.  Or maybe He is saying no....or wait.

The Bible tells us God is real.  When we look around at our world - it's beauty everywhere - it is easy for most of us to see that He is real.  Most of us acknowledge His awesome power and His magnificent creation as being made solely by Him and not some strange explosion.  But though we know He is real, sometimes our shallow faith doesn't show to the world that we believe He is real.  When we treat Him like Mary Poppins, we're not showing the world that we believe He is real.  True faith will not waver when He doesn't grant requests overnight.  True faith will not give up when God says no. True faith doesn't believe in a Mary Poppins-type of God.

No, Mary Poppins didn't show up last night.  It's doubtful she will tonight either...or the next night....or the next.  Someone is going to have to get to work.  Someone is going to have to find the time to finish the Christmas decorating.  I think that someone is me!

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his powerthat is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
Ephesians 3:20-21

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Take Time to be Thankful

I'm participating on the "30 Days of Thankfulness" on Facebook.  Maybe you are, too.  During the whole month of November, I - and others - post about one thing we are thankful for on that particular day. We'll be doing it every day in November.

Of course, it is easy to find something to be thankful for every day.  Or is it?  It should be, but maybe it's not.  Maybe we're struggling to be thankful.  Maybe all we see is bills that need to be paid or hurting people who need help.  Maybe we're overwhelmed with obligations - family, friends, work, school, extra-curricular activities, busy schedules.  Maybe we don't have time to stop and think about being thankful.  But maybe we should.  Maybe we should stop.  Maybe we should be still and think about all God has done for us.  Everything we have has been given to us by Him, so we should be thankful for it all - shouldn't we?

Being thankful is an attitude of the heart.  Recognizing God in everything - big or small.  Recognizing Him in the busy times and the quiet times.  It's finding a way to be thankful during the trials and hardships of life.  It's trusting Him enough that, even in the bad things, the good things shine through. 

 Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. Colossians 4:2

The "30 Days of Thankfulness" is great.  It's wonderful!  It's great to see so many posts from so many people expressing their thankfulness.  But our thankfulness shouldn't be limited to 30 days or to just November.  We should be thankful each and every day - 365 days a year.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

What Would God Say About You?

When looking for a new king to take Saul's place, God chose David.  God said that David was, "A man after His own heart."  He wanted a king who would follow His will and do what He wanted him to do.

But now your kingdom will not endure; the Lord has sought out a man after his own heart and appointed him leader of his people, because you have not kept the Lord’s command.” 
1 Samuel 13:14

21 Then the people asked for a king, and he gave them Saul son of Kish, of the tribe of Benjamin, who ruled forty years. 22 After removing Saul, he made David their king. He testified concerning him: ‘I have found David son of Jesse a man after my own heart;he will do everything I want him to do.’
Acts 13:21-22

David found favor in the eyes of the Lord, and so He was given a great compliment by God.  God didn't care that David was the youngest in His family.  God didn't look at the outward appearance - the way man looks at people.  God was looking at David's heart.  

Here are a few questions to ask yourself today:

1.  Can God compliment me?
2.  What am I doing that enables God to compliment me?
3.  Am I more concerned about my outward appearance and pleasing the world, or am I more concerned about my inward appearance - my heart - and being pleasing to God?

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
1 Samuel 16:7

God loves us unconditionally.  Nothing can take that away.  But He may not always be able to compliment us.  If we are not striving to do His will, but are continuing to do our own will, He won't find many reasons to compliment us.  If we aren't walking 'in the light' and trying to following in the footsteps of Jesus, we're walking in darkness.  There isn't much to compliment.

God wants to compliment us.  He wants to see that we are striving to walk in the light and live according to His word.  Yes, we may mess up.  In fact, we will mess up, but it's the continuing to try aspect He is looking for.  It's the perseverance...the not giving up.  That's what He can compliment!

(*Note: This devotional thought is based on a lesson from Phillip Johnson, who was with our congregation in October for a series of lessons.)

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Little Things

Sometimes little things turn into big things.  Little things often mean a lot to someone who is having a hard time.  Just taking a little time or using a little effort can go a long way in helping someone in need.

Last month at a ladies' retreat, some of the speakers talked about doing "little things".  They listed things that could easily be done for someone.  I want to list some of the things mentioned, in case you are looking for a way to be a blessing to others.

It's the time of year when we tend to think more about others....we tend to think more about serving others.  Pick out just one thing you can do for someone today!

1.  Share your talent with someone.  Teach them how to do something.  Or ask them to show you a talent.  Your asking may help them more than you could ever imagine!

2.  Send someone (this was directed towards college-age kids) $2.00 in the mail.  Tell them to go get a soft drink....on you!

3.  Offer to babysit little ones.  Parents can become overwhelmed with responsibilities.  An hour or two break may be beneficial to a parent and give them a little time to just relax for a little while.....or go to the bathroom alone! (I remember those days!)

4.  Mentor someone.

5.  Write someone a letter.

6.  Visit the nursing home.  Make door decorations for nursing home residents.

7.  Offer to read the Bible or a book to someone in the hospital, nursing home, or shut in at home.

8.  Continually pray for someone.  Don't give up on them, but keep praying!

9.  Coordinate play groups for your young children.  It's fun for them, but gives young moms an opportunity to get with other moms.

10.  Be an "adoptive" grandparent to children in your congregation.  This is especially great in college towns where students may live far from relatives.

11.  Organize "Ding Dong Ditch".  Prepare goody bags.  Leave them on someone's porch.  Ring the doorbell and run away!

12.  If the youth in your congregation participate in LTC (Leadership Training for Christ) or other leadership opportunities, get involved.  Help the youth by using your talents to teach and train!

13.  Ask questions.  Most people will talk when they are asked questions.  Some will not.  Just be sure to not make it seems like you are prying into their life.  Some people are private.  Give others the opportunity to open up, but be respectful when it's obvious they don't want to.

14.  School supplies are really expensive.  We often think of school supply drives during the beginning of the school year, but many schools/students could probably use supplies all during the year.  Organize a drive and donate to schools all school year long.

15.  The Bible says to care for the widows and orphans.  Caring is more than sending money, clothing, or other goods.  Give them a hug.  Send them a note.  Sit by them.  Ask them to eat with you.  Show them you care in your actions.

16.  Care givers have a difficult task in caring for others, and often they, themselves, need a break.  Offer to sit with someone so that the caregiver can get away for just a little while.  Just 30 minutes would be welcomed, I'm sure.

17.  Offer to take people to their doctor's appointments.  When I worked at a doctor's office, I often heard patients say they couldn't get to an appointment - especially when they needed to go further away.  It made me really sad.  Did they really not have anyone to call?  Were they afraid to ask others for help?  I'm not sure, but I definitely know there is a need for transportation for many people.  What a great opportunity to serve!

18.  We have a juvenile detention center nearby and there are jails/prisons around the country.  What about taking goody bags and Bibles to these people?  Perhaps a small act of kindness would show them Jesus and they would want to know more about Him?

19.  As Christmas approaches, I am reminded of a time when we heard of a family who didn't have very much.  We made stockings for the children and filled them with goodies - leaving them on their porch Christmas morning.  Help someone in need.

20.  Recently I heard of a family who has no running water.  This breaks my heart.  I think that a great "project" for our Bible class would be to pay to have their water turned on, but then also to continue paying their bill.  The water in our town isn't very much and it is definitely a need that needs to be met.

So many people are struggling in so many ways.  There are so many things we can do to help others.  Some things are little things, and yes, some things are big things.  But we can all do something.  We can all help someone in some way.

Reach out and help someone today.  Remember that those little things you do may be big.....HUGE things to them.  Let your light shine today!


Monday, November 12, 2012

QMCC Teen Fall Retreat 2012

This weekend we were blessed to attend the QMCC Teen Fall Retreat.  It's not that my husband and I are teens, obviously, but three out of four of our children fit into that category, and we were helping with lessons, crafts, and other things.
My brother-in-law did two of the lessons. My husband did one.  The theme was "Rock Around the Clock", which meant to be a ROCK around the clock...living out your faith 24 hours a day.
We made it a '50's theme so I had the kids do '50's crafts.  They made Coke floats and decoupaged glass Christmas ornaments (some with '50's styled paper).  
I found neat CD's that were vinyl and made to look like real records.  (You can't tell that in this picture, since it was decoupaged with tissue paper, but I'll show it on my craft blog this week.)  I also found CD sleeves that made it look like a record album.  The kids thought it was pretty neat!
For the evening meal, we decorated in a diner styled theme. 
A cute '50's looking backdrop was perfect for photos.  Many of the teens dressed up for the meal.  Here my daughter and two of her friends pose for a cute picture.
My two middle boys dressed up and reluctantly posed for my camera shot!
Several games were played.  A bubble gum relay.  They had to keep their bubble blown until they got to the other end.  This guy has one tiny little bubble!
A "Sock Hop", which was a three-legged race where the legs were tied with a long sock.
A hula hoop contest.  Here my little niece is handling 5 or 6 hoops!
Later in the evening we had a small bonfire and made s'mores.
The best part of the retreat was the spiritual part.  The worship and the singing.  The singing was BEAUTIFUL!  We had 48 youth there and seven adults.  It was great learning more about living out our faith....in the morning.....in the afternoon......and in the evening.  Being a ROCK around the clock. 

Friday, November 9, 2012

Small Town Community Spirit

There's nothing like small town community spirit.  Nothing at all.  Yesterday our small town honored our veterans, as well as veterans from all over America.
Our Student Council held its annual Veteran's Assembly yesterday morning.  The color guard presented the flags.  Always special to watch. STUCO leader and members dressed in red, white, and blue, and did a great job organizing the special assembly.  The speaker, a pilot for the Air Force, had a great message and asked the students for questions about the job and the military.  He was very interesting!
Last night was our annual PTO Fall Festival/Carnival.  Vendor booths were set up and one of my sons even volunteered to set at my little small business booth.  He did all of the setting up of the booth, too, because I was too busy with other things!  Thanks, J!
Our elementary classes each have a game in their rooms and get together a themed basket for an auction.  The 4th grade always does an OU basket.  The money raised helps the PTO do special things for the school all through the year.
This is one of the favorite games the students play.  It was loaned to us and we really appreciate Mrs. P for letting us borrow it!  It was made by her dad, I believe.
High school classes also have games/activities.  The Junior class had a fun obstacle course that many enjoyed.  The Seniors did a haunted house - something we've never had before, but was a huge hit!
Tonight is the first playoff game for our football team.  At the end of the evening, the cheerleaders had a pep rally and bonfire. 
The fire was so pretty to watch!  The wind was blowing away from us, so that was great, too!
My daughters' Senior class (about half of them here) got together for a quick pose at the bonfire.  Just another "last" in the books and in our memories. 

Thank you to everyone who helped make this years' Fall Festival and Carnival a HUGE success.  Small town community spirit is alive in our town.  We're thankful to be raising our family here. Go, TIGERS!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

'Twas the Day After the Election


Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and you are exalted as head above all.

1 Chronicles 29:11

Today you have a choice.  No matter whether you voted for President Obama or Governor Romney, today you have a choice.  You can either act like a sore loser or a content loser.  You can either act like a proud winner or a humble winner.

If you are a Christian, you have the opportunity to let your light shine, or you can choose to cause people to wander if you are really a follower of Jesus.  Your words, your actions, your attitudes, your tone says a lot about you and the God you claim to serve.  It says a lot about what you believe about Jesus, the Savior.

Be careful what you show others today.  Be careful how you SHINE.  Shine brightly, not dimly.  Let others see Jesus living in you today!

That people may know, from the rising of the sun and from the west, that there is none besides me; I am the Lord, and there is no other. I form light and create darkness, I make well-being and create calamity, I am the Lord, who does all these things.
Isaiah 45:6-7


Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The Chronicles of Biscuit - Put it to Use!

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

Last week I was talking to my mom on the phone when I picked Biscuit up from school.  When we got home and walked through the garage, Biscuit was eyeing a new golf bag.  He touched it, examined it, and smiled.  I asked him (still on the phone), "Is that your dad's?"  Biscuit said, "Yes."  As he raised up the cover I could tell there were new clubs, too.  "Are those new clubs?", I asked.  Biscuit replied, "New irons."

I began to tell my mom about my husbands' new bag, clubs, and a recent 'how to swing' video he had bought. "He's really trying to improve his game," I said to her within earshot of Biscuit.  Biscuit turned around and joined in the conversation with, "Yeah, but it would be better if dad actually got out and swung the club instead of just watching a video!"  Biscuit walked on to do his homework, as I kind of laughed about what he said and went on to finish the phone conversation.

When my husband got home, Biscuit and I relayed the whole 'new golf stuff' conversation to him.  He laughed about what Biscuit said, too, but quickly told him he had been practicing - even when Biscuit didn't know about it.  The old bag and clubs I had bought for him 23 years ago, so obviously he was due for more.  The old bag had holes in some of the pockets.  Even so, my husband and I laughed about his renewed hobby and getting new gadgets that go with it.

(Disclaimer: My husband knows about this blog post and approves.) Our conversation led to us joking and laughing about other 'things' that he had purchased over the years.  He's always been into the newest 'health/exercise' products and sometimes get-rich-quick schemes when we were newlyweds.  He admits it. It's not uncommon to find new things that are going to help him in this area, yet they sit around the house often unused. 

I'll never forget finding boxes and boxes and boxes of envelopes and papers in the closet in the first few years of marriage.  It was one of those 'stuffing envelopes' scams.  I never asked what happened to those.  Pretty sure they ended up in the trash!  Other things have been exercise bars (huge) that hang on the door frames.  Never saw it used.  Haven't seen it in years.  A huge, plastic exercise ball....I saw it used a few times.  FUNNIEST THING EVER!  There's no way I could have balanced on that ball.  I'm pretty sure my husband found that it was that way for him, too.  Didn't see it very long.  Many smaller, less HUGE things have stayed and gotten used: kettle bells, books, exercise videos, and a few other things.  But you know what?  It's true what Biscuit said.  If those 'gadgets' and self-help things aren't put to use, they will never help.   

Nothing - no matter how new and nice and useful it may be - will work, if we don't put it to use.

The same is true with our spiritual life.  When we become a Christian - which can ONLY come through Jesus. That process begins by believing in Him, realizing that our sin separates us from God and that repenting of that sin, confessing that belief, and coming in contact with the blood of Jesus that is symbolized through immersion/baptism.  It's at that moment we receive a wonderful gifts: Remission of our sins and the Holy Spirit to live in us!  

Maybe we found out about Jesus by hearing a sermon or lesson.  Maybe you read about Him yourself or someone told you about Him.  Maybe some of you even read about him online - through a website or blog.  Perhaps even now your are just now hearing about Him by reading this post.  YOU NEED JESUS!  HE IS THE ONLY WAY TO OBTAIN SALVATION!  HE IS YOUR ACCESS TO GOD!

But, just like Biscuit said, that my husband must swing the club and put those new tools to use, YOU must use the gifts God gave you.  The gifts He has or He will freely give you!

Here are THREE STEPS TO PUT OUR GIFTS TO USE:

1.  USE GOD'S WORD
You and I must use God's Words.  Even if we hear the words from someone else, we'll never grow and mature like we should if we don't read them ourselves.  

Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good. 
1 Peter 2:2-3

2. BE MORE LIKE JESUS BY RELYING ON THE HOLY SPIRIT
You and I must strive to be more like Jesus.  The Holy Spirit lives within us and will help us grow and be more like Him, but we have to allow that Spirit to help us.  When we don't 'put the Holy Spirit' to use, we are grieving Him.

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. 
Ephesians 4:29-32

3. WALK IN HIS FOOTSTEPS
We can talk the talk of Christianity, but if we're not walking the walking our talk is useless.  There is more to believing and confessing that a one-time-covers-it-all deal.  True belief, true confession results in true change in our lives.  Not that we'll never sin again, but that our walk is striving to imitate Jesus....that we're not deliberately sinning.

Changing attitudes and habits is not always an easy task! Established thoughts and behaviors resist being altered! However, change is easier when we clearly see the dangers of continuing old habits, understand the benefits we can gain by adopting new behaviors and learn what actions are needed to replace our old behaviors. This gives us a clear path we can follow.  The path is the one where we're following Jesus' footsteps.  We can read all about that in the Bible.

If we are not walking with Him, we're not living in the light.  And if we're not living in the light, we're in serious trouble.

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. 
1 John 1:5-7

To remain in Jesus is to strive to walk with Him....by His example we read about.

 But if anyone obeys his word, God’s love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.  
1 John 2:5-7

When we stop walking with Him, we're forsaking God, His Word, His Spirit, and His Son.  We're saying to God that we don't want His gift of salvation.  And that's the saddest and most heartbreaking state of "not putting to good use" there could ever, ever be.

It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit,who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age, if they fall away, to be brought back to repentance, because[b] to their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace.
Hebrews 6:4-6

Nothing can separate us from the LOVE of God, but we can choose to turn away from Him.  We can reject His salvation. Sadly, it happens all of the time. 

Put to 'good use' all that God has given you!  Remember, if you've got all of the 'stuff', but not actively doing it, it's useless.  And Biscuit might need to have a talk with you!

On this GRATITUESDAY, I am grateful for the opportunity God has given me to put His gift to good use!  I pray that my goal and desire is to serve Him to the best of my ability.  His gifts of salvation are free, but He wants me and all of His children to love Him and serve Him.  That is how I show Him I love Him.  I want nothing more that to do just that!  I hope and pray that is your desire, as well.


 
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