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Friday, February 28, 2014

The Power of Prayer is In Him

Here are some questions to ask ourselves:

Is God good ALL of the time, or just when we get what we ask for or want?

Do I praise Him in the storm?

Do I think that my prayers have power, or realize that the real power is in Him?

Isn't it funny how in everything we say or do, almost all of it comes back to ourselves?  It's hard for us to get away from "ME"...."I". God expects us to pray. He wants us to pray.  But, He doesn't need our prayers.  He will do what He will do...if it is in His Will to do so.  Our prayers are for us to keep connected.  So remember, that the only power in them comes from Him.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Worked Up In a Tizzy!

Yesterday I could feel it coming on.  It was a big, full blown, TIZZY!  Do you know what a tizzy is?  It's a self-inflicted state of mass irritability and overwhelming state of mind.  And then it begins to turn to worry and stress.  The muscles in my neck begin to tighten. My head feels like it's going to explode.  And I get all spastic!

I don't often have tizzies, but when I do, I don't like them one bit!  I feel out of control, and I am.  In fact, though, it's because I'm trying to have all control, that I get into this tizzy!  So yesterday, while it seemed that everything that was on the calendar for the next few weeks had to be done THEN, I felt that overwhelming sense of doom, really!

Finally, I sat down, and wrote out this post for our "Parents After God's Own Heart" page.  I figured it was best to just confess the problem to God, but also thought I should say it to others...first, for their prayers, but also, just in case other mom's felt the same way.  Some said they did. Others just "liked" it in either agreement or support. And I made a prayer picture that said exactly how I felt.  I told God exactly what I was doing, knowing He was the One that should be in control.  Not me.

Here is the status.  The photo is below.

"This is straight from Lori to you moms. I don't do this often, but I have today. I've worked myself into a "tizzy", and I'm working on getting stressed. Too many up-coming things that I get excited about, but then start to worry about. There's uncertainty with plans, there's orders to place, and things to remember to do....and those things turn to worry and stress! And I don't like feeling stressed! And I know I shouldn't stress...and THAT brings stress! So, I need to calm down! I need to give it to God. He'll help me. He always does! So, why do I allow myself to get to this point?! This is my prayer. Maybe you need it today, too...and maybe you'll say one for me."

I felt much better after writing that and making the photo.  But then I turned on my music to Hallal and The Zoe Group.  This is my FAVORITE song.  I've probably posted it before, but will again. Click HERE for the link, but it probably plays on the playlist at the bottom of my blog homepage.  

Today, I am starting out with the prayer above and the worship songs.  He will calm and still me - even with many things to accomplish. HE will direct my paths, not me.  

Thank you, God, for giving me what I need.  YOU.  
In Jesus' name, 

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

God IS Great! God IS Good!

Something to think about as you go about your day:

Is God "good" and is God "great, only when you get what you want or things are going your way, or do you say that He is good and great all of the time, regardless of the circumstances?

Often times we equate God's goodness and greatness on what He has done for us, rather than by who He is....just for being God....and for Him loving us.  Maybe we should all strive to think about how we view God in His greatness and goodness...just to make sure we're really showing Him that we love Him just as much as He loves us.

Friday, February 21, 2014

A Mark of Maturity - Faith in Trials

There's so much going on in the lives of other people - people we know who are going through trials and pain.  A couple adopted triplets and one passed away....the other two fighting to survive, surrounded by loving and caring parents, family, and hospital staff.  A two month old baby diagnosed with leukemia, beginning treatments today.  A middle-aged former-coach of mine having a heart attack and in critical condition.

It's easy to get down about these trials, even if they are not in our lives, but in the lives of others. It's easy to begin to think that everything is bad, and that there's nothing good...that it's all pain, but no joy. But, you don't have to look very far to see good.  People helping people by giving financially to help others in a time of need, people preparing meals to hungry teenagers or for a basketball tournament hospitality room, people helping clean up a basketball gym so that the cleaning personnel doesn't have to do it alone, or with only a couple of helpers.  There is good all around, despite the sadness and heartache.

As a Christian, one of the key marks of maturity is found in the trials of life.  When we are able to see beyond the pain of a situation, and keep focused on our strong faith in God, even when we may be hurting inside, that is when we will know that our faith is mature - or at least maturing.  When we may want to fall apart, we don't, because we are clinging to The One who can make us strong and help us cope.  We can do nothing on our own, but we have power in Him.  Our trials come to prove our genuine faith.  It comes so that we will give praise, glory and honor to Him.  If we 'fall apart', we're not showing our faith in God to a lost world, and we're not proving to Him that we believe He will do what He says He will do.  We have to learn to say, "The LORD is my strength.  My heart trusts in him, and I am helped."

In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 1 Peter 1:6-7

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.
Psalm 46:1

The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song.  The LORD is the strength of his people, a fortress of salvation for his anointed one.
Psalm 28:7-8

Thursday, February 20, 2014

The Gossip Test


Here is a gossip test - regarding the words that proceed from my lips:
  1. Does it edify?
  2. Do I have permission to share what I know?
  3. Is it necessary to speak about this?
  4. Will someone be hurt by it?
  5. Will it glorify God?
  1. Is this “talk” about someone who is not there?
  2. Does it sound like this person has avoided the Matthew 18:15-20 step of going one on one first?
And am I ready to stop them and ask them if they have discussed this first with the person of whom they’re speaking?
  1. Did they have permission to tell me what they’re telling me?
  2. Would this person be saying this if that person (of whom they were speaking) were there?
Stop him or her before they give details and ask them,
  1. Do you have permission (from this person of whom you’re speaking) to tell you what you are about to share?
  2. Did you speak directly to ___________ first? (And if you did...) What did he/she say in response?
At this point, if things were done appropriately (according to Matthew 18:15-20), and the person didn’t listen, and it was determined that there is a real offense/sin involved, you will need to be willing to go with that person and follow through on Jesus’ instructions in the Matthew passage.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The Challenge

My husband and three boys were gone on a ski trip with a church group from last Thursday until yesterday. Our daughter came home from college for the weekend, but before she left, she said she was giving her brothers a challenge.
When she left, I decided to go see what it was.  I knew it involved money because she either got some from my purse, or traded it out...or maybe just tried to trade it out, since one of them is having to share his with another brother.
And here is her challenge to each of them:  Do something good for someone else using this money. Be creative and include a Bible verse with the good deed. Then they are to report back to her and tell her what they did.

I can't wait to see what they do with this money!  I'm thankful for her challenge for her brothers.  What a great way to encourage random acts of kindness!  I have a feeling she does this, herself, for others at college :).

Monday, February 17, 2014

I Love My Daughter!

It's no surprise to most people that know me well that I always wanted four boys.  Grade school drama - partly because of my own doing - made me not want girls. I was afraid to have a girl.  I was afraid I would have a "girly" girl, a prissy, drama-queen girl....and that wasn't anything I thought I could handle.

So, when we were expecting our first child, and didn't find out the gender, I just knew it was a boy. I had always wanted a big brother (still do), and just knew it was a boy. But, about two weeks before my due date, I dreamed I had a big, "hairy" girl!!! I mean hairy as in a LOT of hair.  That might have been a clue as to why I had so much acid reflux, as the wives' tale says.

September 21st went by, and no baby.  I kept working...even on my due date.  I worked for an ophthalmologist part time. He could deliver babies.  He had in his residency. He joked that he didn't WANT to, though :).  And, he didn't have to.

On September 24th,  after being in he hospital since a little after midnight, our GIRL was born at 8:45 p.m.  She weighed 8 lbs. 9 oz., so was a big baby.  And she did have a LOT of hair - even little fuzzy hair on her ears!  My dream was right! Perhaps that dream was God preparing me.  Maybe!

This past weekend, Joe and the boys were gone skiing. Lauren was able to come home from college for a day to stay with me. It ended up that her babysitting plans were changed, and she was able to stay the whole weekend. She left last night.  We had a lot of fun together.

As we were driving home from worship, she mentioned the "all boys" thing that I had wished for pre-childbirth.  I didn't tell her that for a long time, but now she knows and has heard me say it.  What she hasn't heard me say enough is that I'm sooooooo very thankful that God blessed us with a GIRL!!!  She was not a "girly", frilly, blingy girl, BUT if she was, we would love her just as much.

We cannot imagine life without her.  She brings something to our family that no one else can, simply because she is a girl.  God knew we needed a daughter.  He gave her to us for that need.

As she grows up and grows older, this quote...that a daughter grows up and becomes your best friend....became more real.  I know that from being friends with my own mother, but it is wonderful to know it from your own daughter.

So, Lauren....THANK YOU.  Thank you for being our daughter.  Thank you for being in our family. Thank you for staying with me and keeping me company this weekend. Thank you for taking out the trash since your Dad and brothers weren't here :).  Thank you for wanting to spend time with me.  Thank you for being a friend.  I LOVE YOU MOST! :)

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Love Is In the Air

It's the week of LOVE.  It's the week of Valentine's Day.  Do you think of chocolate, candy, cards, flowers? Do you think of giving to someone special?  Do you think of spending time with your spouse or friend? Most likely one of the above comes to mind.

In our home, Joe always gets me something - always a dozen roses and usually chocolate, too, and he also gets our daughter something special.  I get him something - always different each year - and I also get each of the three boys something.  We show our love by our giving.  We also usually have a special Valentine's breakfast for the kids.  It's always something heart-shaped or red/pink in color.  Special things for the special day.

So, that's showing love within our own home, but how can we, as a family, show love to others during this time and all the time?  Yesterday I went to a larger town, about an hour away.  During the time I was there, I tried to do little things that were "random acts of kindness". These simple acts really didn't take much effort on my part, but simply showed common courtesy to others. On the way home, I thought of other things we could do for others.  How can we generate the feeling of "Love in the Air" all the time?

Here's a list of some ways we can show love to others each and every day.  Just simple and random acts of kindness....

1.  Help someone by getting their shopping cart for them at a store.
2. Help someone by putting their shopping cart in the designated spot in the parking lot.
3. Open the door for someone - especially for the elderly.
4. Allow someone with fewer items to go ahead of you.  As a really special act, let someone with a BIGGER shopping cart full go ahead of you!
5. At a drive thru of a fast food restaurant, pay for the person's food that is behind you.
6.  Leave a bigger than usual tip for a carhop or waiter/waitress.
7. Ask someone how they are doing as you're out shopping.  Really listen to them.  If they are having a bad day, ask to pray for them.
8. Look at people in the eye and say hello.  It sounds simple, but too often as we go through our day, we don't take the time to really look at those around us. See their needs.  Be sure to listen.
9.  Encourage those you see who may be struggling.  If someone you come across seems to be having a bad day, tell them you hope everything is better soon. Be genuinely concerned.  Offer to pray for them.
10.  Smile.  There's a song that says, "It's isn't any trouble just to S-M-I-L-E".  Well, sometimes it is.  Sometimes it is hard for some people to smile.  But, "A smile is a curve that sets everything straight," said Phyllis Diller, and she's right.  A smile makes everything better - for you - and perhaps, for the person you are influencing with your smile.

None of the things above will take more than a few minutes or seconds of your time, but might mean the world to another person.  It's important for us to put others before ourselves.  Why? Because that's what Jesus did, and, as Christians, we're striving to imitate Him - or we should be as His followers.  You never know what that random act will do.  Just a simple way to show that LOVE really is in the air...not just this week...but all of the time.

Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.
Romans 12:10

Monday, February 10, 2014

Teen Valentine Banquet & Scavenger Hunt 2014

Our annual Valentine Banquet and Scavenger Hunt was held last night. With our big Senior class of '13 gone, it was a smaller group, but a fun group that we look forward to hosting for many more years!
We served the usual: Chicken Lasagna, Beef Lasagna, Green Beans, Breadsticks, Pudding Delight (or Chocolate Quad, or Pudding Cake, get the idea!), Butterfinger Cake, and Banana Pudding.
I should have cut back on the breadsticks, but they did eat quite a few of the 144 of them!  Just not as many as the larger group in years' past. We enjoyed hearing them talk, laugh, and have fun while being "served".  Kids have to go through lines enough, so to be served, is a treat for them.
After the meal, the teens were divided into 3 groups. They competed in a scavenger hunt. The first team back with everything done or brought back on the list is the winner.
My favorite "item" on the list is that the groups have to bring back two people who weren't previously at our house. It's fun to get others involved, and they seem to enjoy their time with us, as well!
We sing and have a short devotional thought. My husband did a really neat illustration of how to not follow peer pressure, but to....
 STAND OUT and be willing to not go along with the crowd.
My husband said I had way too much on the scavenger hunt list (ha ha!! I knew he would :).) BUT, these were a few of the fun things:  Someone in the group had to be handcuffed....which makes it nice to live in a small, small town, where the cops and kids know each other - and that's a GOOD thing!
And then, the groups had to buy something for someone at our convenience store.  Mr. A got some delicious donuts!
Besides, doing the above, singing silly and cute songs to teachers and elders and their wives, the groups had to do a good deed for a school teacher, take pictures of items, pick up items, and take a picture in front of the school sign. I had them text their pictures back to me so that I could see them...and have them to show you.  This one is blurry, but the best group picture in front of the school sign.

This event is so much fun for us to host, and for the teens to attend.  We thank God for this opportunity to be an influence in the lives of these young people, and for our community and the people here, that make it a great place to be able to go to homes that we know will willingly and graciously, help out.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Welcome to the Family!

After the last grandchild on my husband's side of the family was born 11 years ago, we've added two more grandchildren to the number - making #18 and #19!!  T & J were adopted into the family by Joe's sister and our brother-in-law last Friday.
Although their three children are grown and two are married and have children, my brother and sister-in-law felt like they could make a difference in the lives of children. They moved to Tipton Home and became full-time houseparents to a group of little girls.  And what a difference they've made!
Two of these little girls were able to be adopted by them, so are now a part of our family forever! We're all so excited to have them in our lives!

These special necklaces were a gift from their new siblings.  A sweet keepsake of this special time!
We decided to get each of them a piggy bank....or an ice cream bank, and.....
....a cupcake bank.  And, to get a head start, we added a little cash to the banks.
Sunday we had lots of snow (for southwest Oklahoma, anyway), so our regular worship services were canceled.
We already had a family meal planned for that day at noon, so everyone just stayed around afterwards for a family worship time together, followed by presents for the girls, then play time in the snow.
What a great day of worship and celebrating! A cold, winter's day, made warmer by the gift of love!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

So Far Away....Yet So Close

I was thinking about so many people that have moved from our small town recently, all of them had been part of our church family.  The thought of them being "gone" is unpleasant. I don't really like to think about it at all.  We miss them all so much!

But, I was thinking about how I still see posts and pictures from all who have moved.  They're on Facebook, and as often as they update their posts...or as often as they post new pictures....I can keep up with them.  If I didn't know they had moved, I wouldn't know they had moved!  It's like they're really here, but I won't see them at school or at worship any more.  Kind of nice that they can still feel close, but kind of strange, too.  They're far away, yet so close. Of course, that's easy for me to say, since I'm not the one who packed up and moved away.

Many see God as far away.  And, in a sense, I suppose He is. I don't know how far Heaven is.  You probably don't, either.  But, we all know that God is very near. He's in the wind. He's in the sunshine, the rain, the storms, the mountains.  He made all of those things, so He is part of those things. He's in our hearts, as Christians. He's in the Word....the Bible, His inspired words.  He's in our prayers and our songs of praise.  He's far away, yet so close.

We can know Him.  We can intimately know Him. We can "meet" with Him each and every day.  He wants us to be with Him. He wants to be with us, too.

Hello, God.  It's good to be with you!

 Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. James 4:8a

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Right Here, Right Now

*Printed with permission.  

Though skeptical of his teenage son's new found determination to build bulging muscles, one father followed his teenager to the store's weight-lifting department, where they admired a set of weights.

 "Please, Dad," pleaded the teen, "I promise I'll use them every day."

 "I don't know, Michael.  It's really a commitment on your part," the father said.

 "Please, Dad?"

 "They're not cheap either," the father said.

 "I'll use 'em, Dad, I promise. You'll see."

Finally won over, the father paid for the equipment and headed for the door. After a few steps, he heard his son behind him say, "What! You mean I have to carry them to the car?"

That story reminds me somewhat of my commitment to follow Christ.  Like Peter, who said, "Even if everyone else abandons you, I never will...Even if I have to die with you..." (Matthew 26:33,35, GOD'S WORD), I am committed to serving God in every big way imaginable.  I am prepared to die as a martyr if the situation arises.  I am prepared to serve as a missionary in foreign fields when my life situation allows me to.  I am prepared to offer large sums of money to the cause of Christ whenever I "strike it rich."

However, I am sometimes hesitant to serve God in small ways right here, right now.  I'm hesitant to use the $5.00 in my pocket to help someone in my presence who is in need.  I'm hesitant to give up the time it takes to watch one TV show to spend some quiet time with God.  I'm hesitant to show grace and forgiveness to someone who has hurt me deeply. I'm hesitant to speak up and talk about Jesus for fear of what someone might think.  I'm insistent on getting my way and always being right, and so I'm hesitant to say, "I'm sorry."

Father, please forgive me.  I have such grand dreams of ways I can serve you, and I tend to overlook the many ways I can serve you right here, right now.  Help me in my resolve to be committed to you in all ways, both small and great.  In Jesus' name, amen.

"He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much." (Luke 16:10)

Have a great day!

Alan Smith
Helen Street Church of Christ
Fayetteville, North Carolina
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