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Monday, December 30, 2013

5 Reasons Why I Don't Make New Year's Resolutions

(First posted on 1/1/12)

Every year as talk New Year's resolutions appear at the end of December, I think this very same thing:  I don't like resolutions!  That may seem strange for many people, and I totally understand that it might.  But, just for a moment, let me explain myself.

I woke up this morning (New Year's Day) and began to get ready for Bible class and worship, just like I always do on Sunday morning.  This thought came to me and I posted it as my status on Facebook:

Happy New Year! I resolve to not make any resolutions in this new year, but to continue to strive daily to live a more excellent life spiritually, physically, 
emotionally, and mentally....all to His glory and not my own.

So....back to my 5 reasons:

#1:  It's not all about me!
The word resolution means, "A firm decision to do or not to do something."  Making a resolution implies that I am going to do something or not do something all on my own.  There is no way that I can do anything at all totally on my own.  

#2  I need a higher power!
Resolutions have more to do with what I "think" I should do or what I "believe" to be "right" instead of what I really desire and need to do.  God knows what we need and He may feel like you need to change in different ways that what you and I might think.  I can try to do something or not do something and might succeed for a while, but ultimately, I need a higher power.  I need God's help in everything. When I turn that resolution to not what "I" can do or what "I" will not do, but rather turn my commitment to live a more excellent life (continually) for God, then HE will be making changes in me because of my submission to His will and not because of me and my will.  

#3  Statistics say I will fail!
To me, resolutions only set people up for failure.  That seems harsh, but I believe it to be true.  Statistics say that most people do not keep their resolutions.  In fact 88% of people who make them do fail, so when I hear that, I'm already questioning if I can keep it at all, so I'm already thinking negatively about my new resolution.  

And here's an example: Perhaps you resolved to give up sweets at midnight.  You do good at breakfast New Year's Day, but then at lunch you attend a family dinner, and one of your family members made your favorite pie/cake/dessert.  You give in and have a bite....or two.....or maybe a whole piece.  Now how do you feel???  Defeated!  You failed!  You BROKE your resolution!  When resolutions are broken there is a sense of failure and defect that isn't easy to overcome.  When you strive for excellence more every day, you will see victories in little things.  Maybe you did eat some dessert.  But maybe before you would have eaten two pieces and this time you only ate one.  And maybe tomorrow you'll cut that down.  Maybe (hopefully) you pray before heading to that family meal that God will strengthen you and your desire to eat too much.  Now, do you see how the "ME" is changed to "HIM"???  See how it's not your will on your own, but through what God can do in your life?

#4  Every day is a new day!
Let's just face the facts:  you and I are going to goof up....we're going to fall......we're going to fail.  But guess what?  There is GREAT news!  If you are a child of God, He will forgive you when you ask Him to do so!  Isn't that wonderful??!!  It really is!  The problem is that some time we have a hard time forgiving ourselves.  We have a hard time forgetting.  We want to punish ourselves because we believe we deserve it, but Jesus' sacrifice continues to purify us.  We can wake up every day and say, "Today's a new day!  Today I will strive to live a more excellent life!"

#5 Excellence is worth striving for!
I wrote the definition of a resolution, but here is the definition of excellence: The quality of being outstanding or extremely good. An outstanding feature or quality. Do you notice the difference?  The resolution definition is just a firm decision.  Your decision might hold, but it might not.  Striving for excellence in all areas of life (spiritually, physically, emotionally, and mentally) is a life-changing experience.  It's not here one day, gone the next.  It's not going to change with every new year like a decision might.  Being committed to excellence is a continual growth and a continual reliance on God and what He can do through you and through the blood of Jesus.  It's all about His will and not ours.  It's all about Him being glorified and not at all about me.

Come on! Join me!  Be COMMITTED TO EXCELLENCE in 2012!

Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. 
Philippians 3:13-14

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 
2 Corinthians 5:17

Friday, December 20, 2013

Silly Soup Sunday

Every month our local church family has a fellowship together. It always has a fun and catchy title, thanks to our preacher/brother-in-law!  This month it was SILLY SOUP SUNDAY!  And we had soups.....and some silliness mixed in....just for fun!
He was a youth minister, so he's carried a lot of the fun games and activities from the youth group days to the whole congregation.  The older people here enjoy it a lot, as you can see!
 They played lots of "Minute-to-Win-It" games....very successfully, at times.  
 To play, they had to wear reindeer antlers and a Rudolph (clown) nose.  It was so much fun!
 Everyone was such a good sport for the games.  
 The young people and rest of us all cheered them on.
 Their determination to perform the game successfully was inspiring.....
 ....they completed each game/task without getting all discombobulated!!! 
 I'm not sure I could have done that!

 The cups would have been flying with me, yet each of them did their game with ease and grace.

 This fun game was a snowball toss. I had bought these for our elementary party...from Target. The buckets were numbered, making it easy to score.
 The plush snowballs were from Oriental Trading.  Hallmark sells a big bucket of them, as well. The red buckets came with ping-pong type balls that would have been fine, but the plush ones added an extra element of fun. 
 This game was the funniest of all! The four contestants had to move the piece of brownie down from their forehead to their mouth without using their hands!
No one was successful, but the winner was determined to be the one who didn't drop it, but only left it setting on her head!  Don't we have some wonderful people in our midst?! They are willing to have fun and didn't mind us laughing along at their fun.  A GREAT SILLY SOUP SUNDAY!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

At Last I Realize

The Mountain Song

O Lord, I need a mountain to climb on,
Just a quiet place to go and know You’re there.
O Lord, I need to spend some time with You,
Spend the night with You, dear Lord, in prayer.

The greatest friend you’ll ever find Is on a lonely mountain.
The highest high you’ll ever feel Is when you kneel to pray.
The brightest light you’ll ever see Is when you close your eyes,
O Lord, You are my first love, At last I realize.

O Lord, I thought the day would never dawn,
When I would lay my burdens down and walk with You,
But this morning as I greet the rising sun
The fondest of my dreams had all come true.
(Repeat Chorus)

When I woke up this morning, this song came to mind and I began singing it in my head. Maybe it's because the sun is shining so beautifully this morning. Maybe it was because I prayed as I began to sit down and write a post.  Either way, this song is one of my favorite "camp" songs, and brings back special memories of early-morning worship times at camp.

Quite time with the greatest friend you could ever have....that's what this song is about!  If you're like me, I don't have a lot of quiet time.  Someone is always around or something is always making noise.  Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, would retreat to quiet, lonely places. There's a reason He did that. He wanted to talk to His Father - alone.  In the quietness of the day or night.

We will have to retreat or wake up really early (not my favorite thing to do) or "climb a mountain" to get away for solitude to be with God alone.  But, we should strive to make time for quite time with Him....our greatest and best friend.  He wants to be with us.  He should always be our first love.  As the song says above - AT LAST I REALIZE.  At last we should realize all that He is to us and for us.  He is all we need.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The King That Became a Baby

A Facebook sister-in-Christ posted this great thought and picture. I wanted to share it with you.

Truly humbling to know that the:
Lamb of God
Bright and Morning Star
Christ the King
Came from Heaven and made His dwelling among dust He created, to die for us, so that we who are obedient to the gospel, and who live faithful can have eternal life with Him forever!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Elementary Christmas Party - Winter Wonderland 2013

This year's elementary Christmas party (sponsored by the P.T.O.) was a Winter Wonderland theme.  It was very fitting, too, since we had a winter storm that brought snow and ice to us just a week before.  It actually stayed a whole week and melted off, for the most part, during the party!
Our daughter was home from college and dressed as "Frosty the Snowman" for pictures with the students.  Here she is with our youngest at his very last elementary party.
 The students played lots of fun games. This game (from Target) was trying to throw snowballs into a bucket for points. The buckets have points on them, so it made it really nice.
 I had bought fluffy snowballs, so we used them instead of the ping pong type balls that came with the game.
 Another games was a "Winter Relay".  Students had to dress up in a hat, gloves, and a scarf, then take it off and run down to the next player who had to do the same.  It was fun!
 There was Christmas Bingo, with shapes for the younger kids and words for the older ones.
 The ornament this year was shapes cut out of burlap.
 The students painted their stockings, snowmen, snowflakes, trees, and ornament shapes with washable tempura paint.  They turned out great!
 It will be a fun thing to remember for the "burlap craze" that is so popular now, but was also something different than the typical foam kits that we usually do.
 The older students played a fun and messy game. I bought snowball white cheese puffs.  They threw them in the air to the other teammate, who tried to catch them in their mouth.
 It was fun for the students!
 It was really fun to watch!  Thankfully it wasn't too big of a mess!
 Older students of the Life Skills class helped during the party by cleaning up, loading up supplies, and making these cute pages that the elementary students will place their party pictures on for a keepsake.
 The Life Skills classes also made and decorate the sugar cookies for the elementary party.
 After lunch the students ate their cookie and drank hot chocolate. it was lots of fun!
 During the party, one of the stations is the reading station. A parent volunteer read lots of wintery themed books.
 You might think the students wouldn't like sitting and listening, but they really do.  I think it's nice for them to have to sit and listen to a few stories.  It's probably relaxing to them.
 I had to take several pictures of our youngest, since it is the last party :).
 The students had a great time, and I'm thankful for all of the parents and older students, and teachers, who helped with this memorable event!
 It's so fun to hear the older students come in and talk about the memories they have of their own Christmas parties.
That's what it's all about: Making special memories for the students!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Why Young People Are Leaving the Church

Over the past few months there have been a lot of blog posts and articles written about why young people - or even young adults - are leaving the church.  Those reports say that where the parents are involved more than just a youth minister, the young people will stay involved. Some have said it's because of youth ministers in mega churches focus more on fun than spiritual matters, some say it's things that others have said to them, making them turn away and not come back.  Still others say that the church either needs to conform to the people to make them feel better or go the other way and get back to basics.  Some would say it has to do with the worship songs - either they don't like the older hymns or the other side who don't like the camp/youth-type songs.

The lists go on and on and on.  And some of those facts are very valid and surely may have a part in the large scale of people leaving, but I believe there is one thing that is causing people to leave the church that isn't ever on anyone's list.  COMMITMENT.  Yes, commitment.

Millions and millions of people who would claim to be "Christian" in the world today don't understand the word commitment and what it really means to be a disciple of Christ. Oh, they want Jesus.  They want salvation.  But, they just believe it to be a one time commitment (often times within the realm of a prayer they've heard is the "sinner's prayer" that has no scriptural basis of truth at all).  They say a prayer and they're done.  They are "saved".  Then it's, "Okay, let's go on with my life, and I can continue to do as I please!"  That's it.  That's the whole part of their commitment.  Even those who believe that there is more to salvation that just that prayer can do the same thing. They can decide to follow Jesus, confess Him before others, repent of sins, and have their sins washed in baptism, and come out of that "watery grave" (symbolizing Jesus' death and resurrection) to live a new life, yet never once strive to live that new life.  It was a one-time, one-day, one-moment commitment, and again, it goes back to the "all about me" mentality.  It's a self-centered commitment.  One that wants what Jesus can give, SALVATION, but one that lacks the commitment to pick up their cross and follow Him daily.

And, it's not all the fault of the young person. Most likely they were raised in a home that had the same problem with commitment issues.  Sports were placed before God and the church.  Entertainment and things in the world were focused on more than spiritual matters.  They might have "attended" worship services, but it wasn't more than a check off on the "do-to" list.  Money was spent on pleasure for the family, but not for helping those in need.  In family discussions, the church and spiritual matters weren't talked about.  Only things about their busy lives and busy schedules.  God's grace, His power and might weren't realized on a daily basis.  Sunday, for a few hours a day, was the "Jesus" time, then He was put back on the shelf until the next week.  Oh, and that was only if there wasn't something more important going on.  And don't forget the comments that happened after worship.  The attitudes of the parents and children in regards to the sermon, songs, and Bible classes is very important, as well.  Roasted preacher doesn't taste very good and certainly doesn't shed a great light on what we are doing when we worship - praising Our Heavenly Father!  And the same goes for the songs.

So what's the cure for this disease?  This non-commital problem our society has?

The ONLY cure for it is to be in complete submission to God and Jesus.  A submission that denies self and puts others before themselves.  The complete surrender of self to Him and His Kingdom.  Get the focus off of self and get it where it belongs - to Our Father in Heaven, His Son, Our Savior, and the church - the One He died for!  His bride!

Attending worship isn't the only important thing about walking the Christian life, but the attitude a person has about worshipping with his or her brothers in sisters in Christ speaks volumes about their spiritual walk.  It also shows a huge example to your children and is a big part of how young people will grow up to think about the family of God.  If parents didn't care for it why would the children grow up to care about it?  If parents just "sent" their children to Bible class, but didn't go themselves, what kind of example did it show?  If parents put other things before God and Jesus, why wouldn't their children do the same?  And if parents did talk to their children and ask them questions to make sure they understood spiritual matters, why would children think it matters?  And if parents relied on others to be the spiritual foundation for their children, why would they believe children really had a firm foundation?  But, eventually those young people are adults and can't use the excuse that they weren't taught.  Eventually they must search the scriptures and find truth on their own. Spiritually minded adults can help them in that search, but it is ultimately their choice.

Commitment.  It's a real problem.  And the busier and busier we get, the more non-commital towards God we get.  It's a choice.  It's a choice to be committed - or not.  God doesn't deal in excuses.  He only deals in truth.  And the truth is that He wants a totally committed who puts Him above self. Always.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Let It Snow!

It's been pretty amazing around SW Oklahoma! We have had two big snows (big for us!) this year, already, and it's still on the ground four days later. With temps in the 7 to 32 degree range over the past few days, it's easy to tell why it's still here, too.  It's just unusual for us to have this much snow and for it to stay longer than a day! 

The snow began to fall last Thursday, causing the school to close early and letting out Friday, too.  This  gave our three boys a really long weekend of fun and family time!
I like being snowed in. It shows me that I'm not in control, or that any of us are in control of the weather. Only God is.  That shows His power and might!
Being snowed in changed some plans for our town....having to cancel our football state championship game and us having to cancel our church family gathering at our house for Sunday night. I got of online Christmas shopping done, which I wasn't sure when I would have the time to get some of it done - some that involved uploading photos...lots and lots of photos.
When the temperature was a little higher, the boys played and played. They scooped snow for building projects.
They played football. (This one got tackled!) The snow was/is really dry, so they didn't come in all wet like you might think.
They built a bucket-made snowman, with spray-painted eyes, mouth, and buttons. (Ha ha!!)
And they made a huge pyramid.
That thing is about 6 feet tall!
Yesterday I had them pose, right after worship, for a quick "brothers" picture. It sure seems odd not to have a "sister" in the picture!  She'll be home soon for Christmas break, so we'll have to take more pictures with her in the shot.

The boys had to go to school this morning. They didn't want to, but it's probably best. The way it looks, we may be getting more snow days in the future.  We all hope so, anyway! :)

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Happy 11th Birthday, Tyler!

It's been a pretty special birthday for Tyler today!  Because of ice and snow, school was dismissed early - around 12:10 p.m.!  I think it's a birthday he will remember forever because of that.
Although there's not picture of the event, except one of the stadium that I got via text, but failed to save, Tyler and his dad did something special for his birthday.  His gift was a day with his dad at an OU game. It was in early November and had a rain delay for several hours, but they both enjoyed the fun time.  I would have liked a picture, but the important thing is that they went together - just a young boy and his dad.  Just that day alone, without the game, would have been a special treat!  We don't get a lot of free days that are one on one with each child.  We get hours here and there, but rarely a whole day!  Pretty special!
For the first 10 birthdays, Tyler has always had soups at his family birthday parties.  It was always a beef/vegetable stew, chicken enchilada soup, potato soup, garlic cheese biscuits, and cornbread. But this time Tyler requested something different.  So odd since a few years ago, when I suggested something different, Tyler protested! Ha ha! But this year he wanted stacked enchiladas. We did both beef and chicken.  He made a great choice!
You are growing up quickly.  You're a real, true pre-teen. :)  Unbelievable!  

We're proud to have you as our son, and are thankful that God has allowed us to be your parents.  

We can't imagine life without you in it.  Our family would definitely not be the same.  You have such a  funny spirit. You have deep thoughts about life, about God, about Jesus, and the church. You've taught us a lot in his short life, and we're thankful for all of your lessons. Some day you will read about your inspirational thoughts that I've posted on this blog. (The Chronicles of Biscuit posts.)  You'll be pretty surprised at your young wisdom, and probably get a laugh at some of your funny stories!  I think you'll get to ready them all when you turn 21 - the year you will open your time capsule that was made on your 1st birthday.  How special that will be, and hard to believe it's 10 years from now!

In our prayer this morning before school, we thanked God for giving him a healthy life, and prayed that God would continue to bless you with many more years as disciple.  We prayed that God will continue to lead you in being a good example for those around you, so that you are a shining light for Jesus for the rest of your life. We look forward to seeing what God has planned for you.  And we pray that you always keep God the center and highest priority in your life.

Thank you, God, for Tyler, and the blessing of this birthday!  And thank you for the early day off of school! That was pretty neat for him.  He gets another day off tomorrow, so an added dose of winter fun time!

We love you, Tyler!  

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