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Sunday, September 29, 2013

The Chronicles of Biscuit: I'll Try

Last week Biscuit and his brother were going golfing.  As Biscuit hugged me before going out the door, I said, "Be good!" I expected for him to reply, "Okay,", but instead he said, "I'll try."  I don't remember what I said afterwards....because I was thinking how honest he had been and cute it was....but most likely I said, "Well, try hard," or something to that effect.

Knowing Biscuit's previous experiences of golf trips with his brother and phone calls or reports I've gotten when they got home, some times Biscuit gets a little upset with his golf game.  But, some times even his older brother gets upset with his golf game and has a hard time being good, too.  I'm convinced that golf is one of the best ways to teach my boys about self control.  It's a hard process, but one that they are eventually learning to control their emotions more and more.  Sometimes they've had to learn that control by walking instead of riding in a cart (doesn't work with the oldest since he walks anyway) or they have to walk and not get to finish playing.  That really worked a few years ago when I was going with them often. Now that the oldest drives himself and his brother, I'm not always around to see everything.

So back to the, "I'll try," statement.  You know, sometimes "I'll try" is all we can do, isn't it?  We just have to try to improve our bad attitudes and actions.  As long as we continue to try, though, we will eventually see improvement.  And any improvement is growth.  The problem comes when we give up trying or just never try.

If you are a Christian, you received the Holy Spirit when you were baptized (Acts 2:38).  The fruits of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control.  The Spirit will help you.  Your, "I'll try" gains power because it's no longer just what little you can do, but more about what GOD can do!  And He can do so much more than you could ever imagine!  And He can do amazing things through you and in you!  But, you have to try.  You must do your part. He will do His. And, let's give God thanks for that!


 For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us. This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words. 1 Corinthians 2:11-13

Friday, September 27, 2013

LIVE AS CHILDREN OF LIGHT!

For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a person is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. Therefore do not be partners with them. For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) 
Ephesians 5:5-9 NIV

Before the boys head out for school, we have a devotional with them. This was the passage for this morning, and it was a great one to send them into the "world" - where they could be tempted and persuaded.  It's a good reminder for all of us to LIVE AS THE LIGHT! 

If we are Christians, we are His children.  He wants us to live as His children, and sometimes it's hard for us to do that.  But He is there to help us. He will be right there with us! His Spirit lives within us, teaching us to say no to things we need to, and helping us to say YES to what is best.  

What a wonderful thought!  Happy Friday! Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Mother/Daughter Road Trip - San Antonio and Fredericksburg

Before Lauren went to college, we didn't have time to take a weekend trip together, like I had wanted to.  Thankfully, it worked out that we  could take that trip this past weekend!  We had lots of fun, traveled lots of miles, saw new things, view some of God's beautiful creation, and made special memories.
Near the River Walk in San Antonio, we saw a few neat sites:  An old firetruck being towed...probably to that fire station museum or away from it.
Beautiful buildings with PALM TREES (I love seeing palm trees! I'm going to plant one - in southwest Oklahoma!)
The Alamo!  When Joe and I visited there years ago, I had no idea there was stuff behind this building! 

Lots of neat information about the history of the event, as well as a beautiful garden. There's a gift shop, too.

It was pouring rain as we walked along the River Walk! We had to stop in at CVS (which is right there on the River Walk) and buy ponchos.  But that's okay. :)
We ate at the Rainforest Cafe - a favorite place of our family, but we haven't been in several years.  Great food and great atmosphere! 

The mall had a GREAT Disney Store!  It even had a little castle room for little girls to admire their princess dresses.  Lauren tried it out!
The mall had a HUGE pair of boots outside of its entrance.
Saturday we went to Fredericksburg, TX. I had been there, but Lauren hadn't. We shopped up and down the main area, which was fun.
Then ate at Pasta Bella, a GREAT Italian restaurant.  Their Alfredo sauce is delicious!
Dessert was at Clear River, an ice cream, deli, and bakery shop. Very good!
                                               
We saw tons of bacon "stuff" and treats.  Hmmmmm.....Interesting.

It was a great mother/daughter weekend! We ended by attending a performance at the Rockbox Theater in Fredericksburg on Saturday night, then going to Bible class and worship and eating at the Peach Tree before heading back towards home.  It was a great little trip! I dropped my college girl off at her dorm, met her for lunch the next day, then headed back to Joe and the boys. I left her a fun surprise for her birthday, which was yesterday - lots of cupcakes and party supplies, so she could have a little birthday party in her dorm hall.

Thank you, God, for special times with my family...with all of them or one on one times.  A wonderful blessing.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Happy 19th Birthday, Lauren!

Even though I have been on a Mother/Daughter trip with Lauren and seen her the past five days, it was still waking up this morning and not being able to tell her "Happy Birthday" in person for the first time in 19 years!  I knew that some day I would not see her on her birthday, but 19 seemed to young for that!  But, we had a great long weekend together, so it will be okay (I'll tell about the trip tomorrow.)

I remember turning 19.  Even though I was going to be getting married soon, it was a weird age.  Not really a "teen" feel anymore, but not in the "total adult" ages yet, either.  Strange feeling!  Lauren said she felt that way, too, not too long ago!

The years have flown by. When I look at these pictures, some of those times seem like just a short time ago!  But then, when I think that it's been almost 20 years, reality hits....and I know it's really been a long time!

Technically Lauren will not be 19 until 9:45 p.m.  She took her time getting her, after my water breaking at midnight and heading to the hospital right after that! Nothing happened for 12 hours, so they induced me around noon.  Still nothing happened for several hours, but then I started making progress!  YAY!  There were a few scary times when Lauren's heartbeat would drop.  We didn't know if we were having a boy or girl, but when the nurse put a needle into the baby's head to track the heartbeat, she knew the baby had lots of hair! It's covered in the picture up above by a cap, but she had so much hair that it was even on her ears! She STILL has baby hair around the hairline! :)  It was an exciting time, and we were glad to welcome our baby girl!  I thought it was a boy, but had dreamed I was having a big, hairy girl a few weeks before!  (Sorry, Lauren!)  She weighed 8.9 lbs.

Dear Lauren,

Happy birthday!  We love you, and are so very proud of you - for who you are and what you are.  You are beautiful inside and out.  Your love for God is evident. You are making a difference in the lives of those around you - as well as in the lives of those who don't know you. You influence others by the way you live and the way you encourage.  We look forward to seeing how He directs your paths in the future.

Love, Mom and Dad


Thursday, September 19, 2013

The Tongue - An Uncontrollable Evil

Don’t say anything that would hurt another person. Instead, speak only what is good so that you can give help wherever it is needed. That way, what you say will help those who hear you. Ephesians 4:29 (God's Word Translation)

I haven't read much about this God's Word Translation version - to make sure it is all translated according to the original meaning - but I sure like how blunt it is with things we all need to hear!

My words....maybe your words....sometimes come out of my mouth before I take time to think about them!  That's not good!

It's no wonder that James warned about the tongue in his letter.  It is an uncontrollable evil.  Scripture says "no one can tame the tongue", so it is hard.  We can't do it on our own, but with God's help....with the Holy Spirit working inside of us....we can tame it.  And we must, if we're striving to look more like Jesus.

If a person thinks that he is religious but can’t control his tongue, he is fooling himself. That person’s religion is worthless. 
James 1:26

 All of us make a lot of mistakes. If someone doesn’t make any mistakes when he speaks, he would be perfect. He would be able to control everything he does. We put bits in the mouths of horses to make them obey us, and we have control over everything they do. The same thing is true for ships. They are very big and are driven by strong winds. Yet, by using small rudders, pilots steer ships wherever they want them to go. In the same way the tongue is a small part of the body, but it can brag about doing important things.
A large forest can be set on fire by a little flame. The tongue is that kind of flame. It is a world of evil among the parts of our bodies, and it completely contaminates our bodies. The tongue sets our lives on fire, and is itself set on fire from hell. People have tamed all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and sea creatures. Yet, no one can tame the tongue. It is an uncontrollable evil filled with deadly poison.
With our tongues we praise our Lord and Father. Yet, with the same tongues we curse people, who were created in God’s likeness. 10 Praise and curses come from the same mouth. My brothers and sisters, this should not happen! 
James 3:2-10

Let's think more about our words today, and use them to help, not hurt.  Let's strive to glorify God with our words!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Ladies' Bible Class 2013

I'm so excited to begin our fall quarter of ladies' Bible class tomorrow night!  It was supposed to begin a few weeks ago, but I was sick and couldn't do it, so it's been a long time since ending ladies' class in May, and I've missed being with them!

The theme for this fall is, "It's a BEE-UTIFUL Life!"  The lessons will have a small bee theme - a bee trait or reference to make an illustration - but then focus all different kinds of things that we should be.  We can learn a lot from the bees! God made them very unique!

Tomorrow's lesson is "BEE All That You can Be!"  Others throughout the fall will be: Be Holy, Be Content, Be a Light, Be Kind, etc.  Many different characteristics of the Christian's life.  I pray that it will be a blessing to all of the ladies that attend.


For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.  
Ephesians 2:10


The scripture above is the theme for the first lesson, but I also found this great quote from John Wesley that makes the point, as well:


“Do all the good you can. By all the means you can. In all the ways you can. In all the places you can. At all the times you can. To all the people you can. As long as ever you can.

There are things that keep us from being all that we can be for God.  We're going to look at those things....and come up with a plan of attack so that we can be what He wants us to be.  Maybe there is something that is holding you back from being what God wants you to be.  Think about your life....and His Will for your life.  Is there something holding you back?  If so, maybe you need a plan of attack, as well!  

Be all that you can be....for Him!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Hospitality - Love Your Neighbor

Yesterday we were visiting in the OKC/Edmond area and worshipped at Memorial Road Church of Christ. The sermon was about hospitality and loving your neighbor in a series called iNeighbor. Hospitality has always been a favorite topic of mine.  I even taught a whole semester of lessons to a ladies' class on the topic.  Some of the key points of the sermon were these:

Quote from sermon today...his opinion, as he said, but it's my opinion, too! "In the last 50 yrs our homes have changed from centers of hospitality to others to centers of entertaining ourselves."

"If Jesus Christ lived in your home, how would He use your dining room?"  In fact, the preacher asked,  "How would Jesus use your living room...your home?"  What would He do differently and to further His kingdom?  Kind of make you think, doesn't it?

He used the verse from Hebrews 13:2, "Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it."  But, he said, sometimes the divine encounter could happen because of YOU....that someone is  blessed or taught about God because of something YOU do.  Offering hospitality to others.....to your neighbor.....to people you may not know very well.

The sermon was great! Even my boys, who typically balk at the thought of having to clean up their rooms for company, thought it was great!  But it was a great reminder for everyone, even for those who do have people over often.

So, how do you use your home....your living room....your dining room for Him?  Is it for your leisure and entertainment or for Him?

Friday, September 13, 2013

Special Ingredients - Make Every Effort

God’s divine power has given us everything we need for life and for godliness. This power was given to us through knowledge of the one who called us by his own glory and integrity. Through his glory and integrity he has given us his promises that are of the highest value. Through these promises you will share in the divine nature because you have escaped the corruption that sinful desires cause in the world. Because of this, make every effort to add integrity to your faith; and to integrity add knowledge; to knowledge add self-control; to self-control add endurance; to endurance add godliness; to godliness add Christian affection; and to Christian affection add love. If you have these qualities and they are increasing, it demonstrates that your knowledge about our Lord Jesus Christ is living and productive. 
2 Peter 1:3-8

Several years ago I did a lesson at a ladies' retreat about these verses. It was a recipe them, so these verses fit right with the theme.  I am using the God's Word Translation above, but the NIV says "increasing measure" on that last verse, instead of just increasing....so the 'measure' fit well with measuring ingredients in the recipe.

I love this passage of scripture because it shows us that it is not on our own power that we change into what God wants us to be.  He wants us to live a godly life.  He wants us to be holy, have faith, integrity, knowledge, self-control, endurance, and love for each other. But our sinful nature sometimes resists those changes.  It is ONLY through HIS divine power within us that we can change into what He knows we can be.

The Holy Spirit is given to us when we are baptized (Acts 2:38) and helps us grow spiritual fruits (Galatians 5-22:23).  His power has given us everything we need!  There is nothing more!

The key is in verse 5 in the passage above:  Make every effort.  Make every effort.  Am I making every effort to add these special ingredients to my life? Are you?   If I am, the last verse (8) says that my knowledge about Jesus is living and productive.  If I'm not, my knowledge about Jesus is not living and not productive.  

Jesus wants us to bear fruit for Him.  That shows that we are His disciples.  And because of Him, we have that power within us to do just that!  Thank you, Jesus!  Thank you, God! Thank you, Holy Spirit!

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory,that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
John 15:1-8

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The Pencil Parable


A few weeks ago we had our church youth group over after Sunday night worship.
We fed them pizza, they played basketball, football, and 9-square outside, then they came in for singing and a devotional.
Because it was early in the school year, my husband did a devotional about a pencil.  My mom had sent it to us thinking Joe might like to use it some time. It worked perfectly for a "Back to School" thought.




Here is the devotional thought:  The Pencil Parable.

The Pencil Maker took the pencil aside, just before putting him into the box. 

"There are 5 things you need to know," he told the pencil, "Before I send you out into the world. Always remember them and never forget, and you will become the best pencil you can be."

"One: You will be able to do many great things, but only if you allow yourself to be held in Someone's hand."

"Two: You will experience a painful sharpening from time to time, but you'll need it to become a better pencil."

"Three: You will be able to correct any mistakes you might make."

"Four: The most important part of you will always be what's inside."

"And Five: On every surface you are used on, you must leave your mark. No matter what the condition, you must continue to write."

The pencil understood and promised to remember, and went into the box with purpose in its heart.


Now replacing the place of the pencil with you.  Always remember them and never forget, and you will become the best person you can be.

One: You will be able to do many great things, but only if you allow yourself to be held in God's hand. And allow other human beings to access you for the many gifts you possess.

Two: You will experience a painful sharpening from time to time, by going through various problems in life, but you'll need it to become a stronger person.

Three: You will be able to correct any mistakes you might make.

Four: The most important part of you will always be what's on the inside.

And Five: On every surface you walk through, you must leave your mark. No matter what the situation, you must continue to do your duties.

Allow this parable on the pencil to encourage you to know that you are a special person and only you can fulfill the purpose to which you were born to accomplish.

Never allow yourself to get discouraged and think that your life is insignificant and cannot make a change.


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

He Will Sustain You!


Even to your old age and gray hairs
    I am he, I am he who will sustain you.
I have made you and I will carry you;    
I will sustain you and I will rescue you.
Isaiah 46:4

Sometimes before I write a post, I go to biblegateway.com and read today's scripture.  Occasionally, it becomes my topic for my blog post, once I read the whole chapter, but not always.

This morning I had done a devotional with our boys before school from Jesus Calling.  My husband usually does one from a daily devotional app on his phone, but he was gone.  I just opened up the book to September 8th, even though today is the 9th, because one of the boys had already ready the 9th.

I think God is speaking to me today!  The Jesus Calling devotional went like this:

Accept each day exactly as it comes to you.  By that, I mean not only the circumstances of your day but also the condition of your body. Your assignment is to trust Me absolutely, resting in My sovereignty and faithfulness.

On some days, your circumstances and your physical condition feel out of balance.

It went on to say that we have a choice:  To give up or rely on God.  

The scripture at the top, from Bible Gateway, also had to do with the body....specifically the decaying of the body.  This is pretty neat that both of these thoughts had to do with our physical body and how it feels.  It's also very relevant to me, since I've been sick for over three weeks!  But praise be to God that yesterday and today I've felt really good! Sometimes, when we have been sick, it makes us thankful for the good days, even more. It also shows us that there are so many who are so very sick and who have it much worse than we do.  Some don't get to feeling better.  Some never do.

As I read the devo to the boys, I wasn't sure they would really "get" it.  It's more for adults.  But, I explained to them, that when I felt really, really bad, I could have given up. I couldn't have gotten down and depressed. I could have given up on God.  But I didn't.  And so many don't.  Sadly, many do.

It is a choice.  But, even if we choose to give up on God, He never gives up on us.  He loves us and cares for us....even when we don't love and care for Him.

If your physical body is feeling signs of getting older, or if you are sick and in pain, choose Him.  He will sustain you!


Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior. Psalm 42:5  

Monday, September 9, 2013

Do You Feel It?

 
                                            
Do you remember the day you became a Christian?  That excitement about being a new babe in Christ?  The feeling of having all of your sins washed away?  It was great, wasn't it?

Do you still have that feeling?  The excitement?  The zeal?  Maybe you do.  Maybe you don't.  

I saw this quote last week and it really struck me.  It is a good quote for any commitment you make, but it is especially great for our commitment to become a follower of Jesus.

Throughout our Christian lives, we may grow weary. We may get discouraged.  We may be following Him, but not closely.  Our mood may change.  We may lose our enthusiasm.  We may neglect Him and His Word. We may become lax in our Bible study.  We may not pray often.  We may stop worshipping with our brothers and sisters in Christ.  And, we may even get to the point where we feel like it doesn't matter.

But, Christian sister! It DOES matter!  You committed yourself to HIM.  Now, live for HIM!  Get up!  Pray! Read! Worship! Encourage!  He needs you! He wants you!  And He has work for you to do!  So, get up and do it! Don't neglect meeting together with your Christian family.  You need them, and they need you!

Our moods change, but our loyalty and commitment to follow Him should never change.  Because His commitment to love you and strengthen you will never change.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Are You Working Properly?

For the past few weeks, I've been pretty sick.  It started with a sinus infection, then went to bronchitis, and the doctor thinks maybe pneumonia, though by the time I had a chest x-ray, it didn't show it.  It's been a long ordeal, and I've felt horrible.  But, I think I could have gotten better sooner if I had realized that my breathing machine wasn't working properly earlier.  I didn't figure that out until Saturday!  I cleaned it in vinegar and it worked - twice - really well!  It was so great to get oxygen throughout my body.  A little weird feeling, too, actually!

So all of those many, many treatments I had done didn't help at all!  But then it stopped working again.  I cleaned it again. Nothing helped. :(

I was a little aggravated at myself for not noticing the problem with the machine before, but the motor was running, vapors were coming out....it appeared to be working great.  But it wasn't.  I knew they weren't helping much, but didn't realize what was really causing the problem.  With the holiday Monday, I wasn't able to get a new "kit" for the breathing machine until Tuesday.  That first treatment, when it was working so great, was

This problem made me think about our spiritual lives.  Often we go through the motions, checking off an invisible list. For example:

Attended worship: CHECK!
Gave some money: CHECK!
Sang the songs: CHECK!
Bowed my head in prayer: CHECK!
Took the Lord's Supper: CHECK!
Listened to the sermon: CHECK!
I'm done - YAY!!  CHECK!  Clear for a week (or until Sun. night or Wed. night)

Do I look like a Christian or religious person.  Yes.  Am I a really following Jesus?  Maybe. Maybe not.  From time to time I need to do some soul-searching, some heart-checking.  I need to really examine my life to make sure it's not just looking like like everything is okay when it really isn't.

Here are some questions to ask myself:

Do I spend time each day in God's Word?

Do I pray and stay connected with God?  He said to pray continually, so am I constantly in a prayerful state of mind....thankful and content with my thoughts?

Am I putting others first, or myself?

Am I a true servant?

Am I striving to be more like Him each and every day?

Am I concerned about sin in my life, or do I act as if there is none?

Do I repent of sin, knowing the blood of Jesus covers it and God forgives, or do I pretend it's not there?

Am I seeking to save the lost as Jesus said to do?

Am a a true disciple or am I just a pew sitter?

Am I doing all that I can do to further the Kingdom of God?

Am I truly committed to Him?

Do I consider it a chore to worship or am I excited?

You may think of other questions to ask yourself.  But, let's all make sure we're not just running motors and blowing vapors, bur actually producing "fruit" as our Heavenly Father and Savior asked us to do.  Otherwise, we're just not working properly....just like that breathing machine.


“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes[a] so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory,that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
John 15:1-8





Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Love One Another


                                           
I love this thought we posted it on our "Parents After God's Own Heart" Facebook page yesterday.  We live in a world where there is much hatred.  People hate each other for all kinds of reasons.  Yet, hate is a sin.

Sometimes groups get accused of "hating" one another because they don't agree with them on a particular issue.  Maybe it's political, race-driven, lifestyle, etc.  But, not agreeing with someone doesn't mean that there is hate involved.  However, a lot of that "hate" assumption could be, and would be, alleviated, if we would choose our words wisely, watch our tone of voice, and do it all in love.  There would be more civilized conversations.  There would be less criticism.  There would be less finger-pointing.

The phrase, "Love the sinner. Hate the sin." comes to mind.  We just have a hard time being like Jesus in that way.   

This week, let's try harder to love one another.  In fact, let's pray for those we find to be unloving.  Only then will be striving to live like Jesus....and being a person after God's own heart.

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.
                                                                 John 13:33-35

 
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