Since I'm always the one behind the party planning and camera at our house, I was totally caught by surprise Sunday!
We had invited my husband's side of the family (that lives here) over for lunch after morning worship - all combining food for the lunch. What I didn't know was that he had someone pick up a cake for me so that we could celebrate my birthday, which was Thursday!
It was fun getting a picture with all of the "kids" at the party, just like I always do for my own children's parties. Fun memories! Thanks to Joe for planning it! Maybe he'll become my partner in party-planning...??? :).
For years, I have purchased those yard light stakes, wanting something pretty that would give a little light in the flower beds. Facing the hot summer sun and the extreme winds we have often in Southwest Oklahoma, most of the little lights didn't ever make it too long or put off much light at all.
Some time last year, towards the end of summer, I bought two more expensive light stakes. I remember my son's quote when I bought them: "Mom, you buy those things all the time, but they never work." He's right. They never had. But these seemed better. They were a little more expensive, which is why I only got two of them.
We didn't put them out for a long time. They just sat somewhere, waiting to be used. Finally, I had my oldest son stick them in the front flower bed. They were solar powered, but sadly, they didn't work. I kept thinking that maybe he had done something wrong, but he assured me he hadn't.
A few weeks ago, I was at Walmart and saw some of those lights. I noticed a coating over the sensor, so thought maybe that was the problem - he had left that coating on. When I got home I went to check the lights, but the coating was off. However, I did notice something that neither of us realized the lights had on them: An ON/OFF switch! Wow! All of this time they weren't even on! I couldn't wait to tease my son about this because it's usually me who doesn't notice simple things, not him! Ha ha!
Would you believe that those lights have been working quite well ever since? Imagine that! They just needed to be turned on to be connected to their source of power!
This story reminds me of a Christian.
At first, when someoneone becomes a Christian, she is so excited! (Initial purchase of lights) "And he gave orders to stop the chariot. Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptized him. When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord suddenly took Philip away, and the eunuch did not see him again, but went on his way rejoicing." Acts 8:38-39
She may tell others about her new decision to walk with Jesus, but right after that initial excitement....nothing. (Telling my son about the new lights. Leaving them sitting around for months.) "What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead." James 2:14-17
Nothing about her life changes. She continues to do what she's always done. She isn't doing anything that the Lord prepared for her, in advance, to do. She isn't involved with her church family. She might attend worship - if she feels like it or doesn't have anything better to do. Some times things get in the way. She doesn't have enough time to worship the Lord. (Lights just sitting in a pile with other stuff. Not being used.) "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
Then one day she realize that the on/off switch needs to be turned on (Flipping the switch and causing the light to work.) She realized that staying connected to Jesus and God is the only way to let her light shine!)
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 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. 3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4 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. 5 “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. 6 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. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples." John 15:1-8
She began to read the Bible daily. She began to pray more often and more fervently. She began to get involved with her church family more - going to worship each and every time, going to Bible classes, helping teaching classes, visiting others, staying after worship to visit, asking others questions and getting to know about her new brothers and sisters in Christ.
"For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. 6 For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot. 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. 9 You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. 10 But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you." Romans 8:5-11
"In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God." Romans 8:26-27
She began to feel connected, and because of that connection, she began to notice things in her life that needed to change.
"So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever[c] you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit." Galatians 5:16-18, 22-25
Just as my little yard lights didn't work without being turned on so that it could connect with its power (the sun), a person's life as a Christian can't work unless it's turned on and connected to the source of POWER. God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit - that is the power a Christian must have in order to stay connected. And only then did she realize that the connection to the power would cause her to grow in her Christian walk.
The Inferiority Complex.... It's the opposite of the Superiority Complex - what we usually think of when we think of pride. But, in reality, it's just as bad for us, and our relationship with God as one of His children, when the pride comes from the other end of the spectrum. The Inferiority Complex is a type of pride I'll be teaching about tonight in Ladies' Bible Class. I found a great lesson about this complex and how it relates to the problem we have of pride. Here is a quote from the lesson: "Feeling inadequate is exactly what we all should feel, because then we'll depend on the Lord to make us competent. As Paul said, "Such confidence as this is ours through Christ before God. Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God" (2 Corinthians 3:4-5). Jesus said, "Apart from me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). His Holy Spirit lives within us from baptism on (Acts 2:37-39). The same Person who empowered the Lord Jesus in His ministry is in residence in our hearts." Our reliance is on Him. He makes us competent...not ourselves. We get in trouble when we focus too much on SELF. Think about it: We compare ourselves to others and we worry about what they think of US. We don't feel adequate in our job, our role as a wife or mother. We worry about what people think about US. Do you see how it is all coming back to SELF??? When we worry about how we compare to others or when we measure our worth by performance or appearance, we are going to feel insecure. Those insecurities all lead back to SELF. That's what makes it a form of pride. Pride is thinking of SELF too much. So, how can we get rid of this selfish attitude? We can only do that by relying on God. We must realize that HE is the source of our strength and our abilities. When we learn to put our complete trust and faith in Him, those insecurities will go away. Keeping our eyes on Jesus.....keeping our head looking up and not at self....that is the best way to turn your thoughts around. That will be the beginning of a new life - a life not focused on ourselves - but focused on the only One who can make that inferiority complex go away.
For in him you have been enriched in every way--with all kinds of speech and with all knowledge. 1 Corinthians 1:5
Put it to work: Read the scripture above, but where it says "YOU" say "I". Put special emphasis on the words IN HIM.
It will read "For IN HIM "I" have been enriched in every way -- with all kinds of speech and with all knowledge. IN HIM....IN HIM.....He has done things for ME. Say that over and over and over in your mind. :)
Last month our song leader did something really neat at the beginning of each worship service. He would read a scripture that had an "IF" clause. Each of the scriptures had a promise of God, but the catch was the "IF" clause. In other words, we had to carry out our end of the deal in order to claim that particular promise of God.
Here are just a few scriptures that have these clauses in them. Below the passage I will break it down and over emphasize the IF (clause/condition) that is our responsibility and the WILL (promise) that is God's promise to His children. However, you will notice that not all of the promises are positive. Some are negative. But they are only negative if we are negative in our Christian walk. God's promises have conditions. Those conditions are determined by how we live our lives. Scripture verifies that fact over and over.
But God's promises are abundant on the positive side! He wants to pour out His blessings upon His children - and He does! He wants to see us learn by our mistakes and follow more closely to Him! He wants us to put our complete and total trust and faith in Him.
5 This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.6 If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth.7 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.
8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.10 If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us. 1 John 5-10
IFS AND PROMISES
THE IF CLAUSE: If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness
GOD'S PROMISE: we lie and do not live out the truth.
THE IF CLAUSE: But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light
GOD'S PROMISE - we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all[ sin.
THE IF CLAUSE: If we claim to be without sin
GOD'S PROMISE: we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.
THE IF CLAUSE: If we confess our sins
GOD'S PROMISE: he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
THE IF CLAUSE: If we claim we have not sinned
GOD'S PROMISE: we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.
And let's finish this thought with another great "If and Promise":
My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But IF anybody does sin, WE HAVE an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.
What do you know about Ethiopia? What do you think of when you think of Ethiopia? Do you think of the desert? Do you think of the famine of the 80's & 90's? Do you think of safari-type animals? Do you think of waterfalls or lush green landscape? During our school's recent Dr. Seuss Celebration, we found out more about this unique country in northeast Africa.
If you're like me, I thought of dry desert. But recently I was proven totally wrong about my assumption of this beautiful country. The picture at the top shows just one of the beautiful sites you will see in Ethiopia.
I have a friend from Ethiopia who actually is living here in this small town. He was born and lived in Ethiopia until he was a young teenager, when he was then adopted to an American family and has lived here ever since. He has been able to go back to Ethiopia to visit his family, and thankfully he was able to be at the Dr. Seuss Celebration to tell the students about life in his home country.
There are safari animals in Ethiopia, though not as many as there are in other African countries. However, there are 862 bird species in the country, making it one of the most desired places to go for bird watching!
Allen brought many things for me to use in decorating for the country. He had clothes, two different flags from different times in history, a flag quilt made by his grandmother, money, checkers, an alphabet chart, and some baskets.
Allen's wife, Laura, and daughter Grace, enjoyed the day with the students. Allen and Laura spoke in Amharic, sang in Amharic, and Allen told some interesting stories about his childhood.
As a young boy, Allen was a shepherd. He said that one time an elephant chased him! He learned to walk on his hands while he was bored out in the fields watching the sheep (or goats...I forgot!).
We wanted the students to try some Ethiopian food. We got lamb and Laura cooked it for the children. Traditionally, Ethiopian dishes are eaten on a big pancake-type of very sourdough bread called "injera". Laura has the bread on the big tray in the picture below. In Ethiopia, wives feed their husbands, so Laura is demonstrating this very non-American custom! :) I'm pretty sure my husband would NOT want me to feed him! But, isn't it interesting to learn about other cultures?
Most of the children liked the lamb. A few thought it was too spicy, even though Laura was careful not to make it too spicy. It smelled great, but I'm too chicken to eat anything "different"!! Very weak stomach! But, it smelled so good, I'm pretty sure I would have liked it.
We also served the students mango juice. Fruits are very abundant in many parts of Ethiopia. Mango is just one of the main fruits. The students loved the mango juice!
We took pictures of Allen and Laura (and me, too) with each of the classes and their teacher. A copy of the picture, the students name written in Amharic, and an Ethiopian flag sticker, will be given to each student.
Another interesting fact about Ethiopia, is that at birth, children are given the first name of their father, instead of the last name. So may name at birth would have been Lori Larry. That seems odd thinking of all of the "Larry's" in the world! Really common!
Thank you, Allen, Laura, and Grace, for taking the time to teach the students about Ethiopia! Thank you, Allen, for sharing your country with us! It was a GREAT DAY!
Just saying that you love someone isn't enough. Love must be shown. It's an action word. I love this quote: "Love is a verb. Without action it is merely a word." Love is living when it's in action. Without action, it's dead.
The easiest - but perhaps hardest - way to show someone you love them is by spending time with them. Taking time out of your busy schedule to be with someone shows that you care. Taking the time to visit, call, text, email, write....any of those things show that you cared enough to do something.
Love in action. It's what Jesus did for us in an extreme way.
Love in action. It's what God did for us from the time He knitted us in the womb and for the rest of our lives. And for the Christian, for eternity.
Love in action. It is putting our own selfish needs and desires behind, and putting the needs and desires of others in front.
Love in action. It is taking care of those less fortunate...not just with our money, but with our time and talents.
Love in action. It's showing others that we care. It's stopping to listen. It's being there. It's slowing down to see what is going on around us.
Love in action. What can you do to show your love to someone today?
Dear children,let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. 1 John 3:18
This picture is from City League Basketball 7 or 8 years ago. We knew then - well, even before then - that this group of boys had amazing talent, and that we would see them go far in sports when they were in high school. And they haven't proved us wrong one bit!
They've dropped a few teammates (one being my son, who is pictured here, but decided that he would rather play golf than the other sports) and added a few, but they've just continued to grow and mature, and added some discipline and control along the way, to make them get to where they have gotten so far.
This year, for the first time EVER, the Tipton Tigers won the Area Championship! That meant they got to go to the STATE basketball tournament in Oklahoma City! We played last Thursday. It was an exciting time, and although we didn't get past the first game of the State Tournament, it was still a great accomplishment to get there. We are all looking forward to getting back there next year, and getting past that first game. We want to play at THE BIG HOUSE! They will do so next year, just by getting to the State Tournament. But they will play there on Friday night, too. They will do it! I just know it!
Our nephew, Travis (pictured right), is the coach for the boys' basketball team. Taking them to State hadn't been done in Tipton basketball for 40 years! Coach Chambers, pictured left, accomplished that task through the losers' bracket, in 1974! How neat that he was able to go cheer on Travis' team this year! He is a great supporter of our schools' athletics. I'm sure he could easily remember the excitement he felt, himself, 40 years ago!
Growing up in a smaller town than Tipton, basketball was our "big" sport. I'm always sad when the basketball season is over. And for Tipton, since we made it to State in football, it shortens the basketball season by a month. That makes it extra-fast! So, I don't like to hurry things up or see my children's lives go any faster, but I must admit that I'm ready to shout again, "ALL THE WAY TO STATE!" :) Go, Tigers!
For the last few months, we had been planing a church Ladies' Night Out - inviting ladies from over 50 congregations to join us - plus inviting friends from around town.
We had been talking about having a LNO for 7 or 8 years, but just never got it off the ground due to other things getting in the way. But 2014 was the year to make it happen!
Deciding the theme for the evening was pretty easy. We started by getting the speaker, Denell Dennis, from Garland, TX. Denell is an author. She has written two Bible study books so far in her Ladies Better Understanding God series: LadyBUGs...The Journey Begins and LadyBUGs....Learning to Morph. So, lady bugs, it was!
We had lady bug candies....
Lady bug mason jars...
Lady bug baskets....
Lady bug flower pot/scripture favors...
Lady bug dessert plates....with yummy desserts. Big plates, too, but I didn't get pictures of them.
Lady bug decorations....
Lady bug registration....
A lady bug banner....
Lady bugs and daisies....
A lady bug topiary...
And Denell's LadyBUG books for sale.
Denell spoke about "Living the Lyrics", using a song called, "Highest Hope". I have probably posted a link to that song before, but if you would like to listen to it, go to YouTube and search Highest Hope Hallal. It's a beautiful song with beautiful lyrics....lyrics to live!
Denell showed a beautiful lady bug quilt that was given to her by her friends' aunt. She talked about how we all have different talents. Some can quilt. Others can't. Some can speak in public. Others can't.
God made each of us unique and different. He gave each of us different talents and abilities, but He can use everyone of us in some way.
Around 120 ladies met together last night for a time of devotion and fellowship together. It was a wonderful evening! Thank you, God, for the blessing of time together with others who are striving to walk more closely to You!
Oh, I've been having computer problems, and nothing tries my patience more than computer problems! I think the problem is that I have too much on the thing, actually. Too many pictures, too many documents, too much junk! Some of it good. I would be very sad if I lost any pictures. And if I lost any Bible class lessons or ladies' retreat/event flyers and programs, I would be sad, too. They all took a lot of work to do! But some of the stuff is just junk! I see something I want to keep or think I'll use, so I save it...just in case. That junk just keeps piling up and piling up until one day - THE COMPUTER WON'T WORK! And I need it to work! I've got lots of things to get done on the computer! And I need it done by tomorrow. You know how it is!
So, I perform system scans, download pictures and files to flash drives. Try to make sure everything is backed up properly. Do all I can to make sure it is back in tip-top shape in no time. But it's not as fast as I want it to be. Things are going too slow, and I'm beginning to think it will take longer than I can stand. I move on to another computer...my husband's. I just try to get by because waiting is too hard.
So many of life's lessons can be learned in ordinary, every day life things.
Let's say I'm a Christian whose life is going along just fine. I get involved with the work of the church. Volunteer to do everything available in every way. I am studying God's Word. I am praying often throughout the day. I am worshipping God alone and together with my church family. I teach Bible class. I cook for my family and for others. I serve and volunteer, and I get busier and busier and busier. My life is "full". It's full of good stuff! But then I begin to take on even more. I work more. I volunteer more. I am busy with my family's activities. I'm planning. I'm scheduling. Busy, busy, busy!
But,now, something has happened.
I used to have time to read God's Word. Now I'm too busy. I used to have time to pray many times throughout the day. Now I'm too busy to think about it. I used to have time to really prepare my Bible class lessons. Now I just throw something together in a hurry. I used to "run smoothly" like that computer, but now I'm slow and sluggish. Now I'm just spinning my wheels and getting no where (much like that little colors circle that keeps spinning on my computer!). Now I'm full of some really good stuff, but have a lot of "junk" that's bogging me down.
Something's got to get fixed. There's a big problem. What should this Christian do? Well, just like with my computer, it's good to run a "scan". What was happening in their life when everything was running smooth? They were studying God's Word. They were worshipping alone and with brothers and sisters in Christ. They might have been teaching Bible class and doing good deeds, but then what happened? They got busier and busier and busier!
There is a saying that goes something like this: Satan doesn't have to get you to do anything wrong. He can get you so busy that you fail to do what's right.
Sound like someone we know? Yes, the "scenario" Christian.
I don't know about you, but sometimes I AM THAT SCENARIO CHRISTIAN. I do good, but then do too much, failing to do what's right, or best. It's at those times I must do a "full scan" of my heart and soul and mind.....clean out the junk....learn to say NO to more and more things that "busy" up my life. If you're like me, NO doesn't come easy. I love to help and volunteer! I have a hard time saying NO to some things, especially when they are good things.
Be still and know that I am God. Psalm 46:10. BE STILL. Be still. Yes.....be still.
I once went to a community event and saw someone that I wanted to talk to. As I visited with the person, they were with a group of family members. Although I hadn't interrupted anything, I couldn't help but feel like I was intruding. I'm selfish with family time, myself, but this was more than that. I also don't analyze situations or people to much, as in how they make ME feel, because I try not to think too much of ME in any situation like that. But, I just couldn't help getting the feeling, "You don't belong here."
Later, as I was visiting with someone else, I mentioned that odd feeling. They, too, had gotten that feeling at times, from that same family. It's probably unintentional. Most things like that are, yet it still puts off an odd feeling vibe that makes me think.
Hmmm...."You don't belong here."
There's a wonderful song we sing. I love the meaning and the lyrics. It's by The Collingworth Family.
We’re part of the family
That’s been born again
Part of the family
Who’s love knows no end
For Jesus has saved us
And made us His own
Now we’re part of the family
That’s on its way homeAnd sometimes we laugh together
Sometimes we cry
Sometimes we share together
Heartaches and sighs
Sometimes we dream together
Of how it will be
When we all get to heaven
Using the scenario above....when I felt like I didn't belong...imagine a family visiting your worship services on a Sunday morning. They come in and perhaps are greeted with a hello at the door, but no one else speaks to them. No one asks them to sit near them. The songs may be new and they may not recognize them. They may not really know many people sitting in the pews. People look at them and smile, figuring that someone else knows who they are...or they're related to them. No one offers to take them to eat lunch. No one invites them back. No one asks anything about them. They just kind of smile or nod and go on their way.
Now, what do you think will happen when this family gets to their car? What will they talk about on the way home? Will they mention the unfriendly atmosphere? Will they have felt welcome? Will they feel like anyone cared? Will they feel like I did: You don't belong here?
Maybe in this scenario, the family wasn't yet "part of the family". Maybe they weren't Christians yet. Would they want to be, after being in the service and not feeling a part?
You see, the way we act is important, but the way other perceive how we act may be even more important. As we scurry around doing all we need to do as we live our lives, we must be aware of those around us. How are we appearing to them? No, we can't make everyone happy. We can't please them all, but let's make sure - for certain - that we aren't making anyone feel as if they don't belong. If we do, in the spiritual sense, why would they ever want to belong? That certainly wouldn't look like the church Jesus died for, would it?? No. Not at all. Jesus died for God family - where everyone is welcome. Jesus says, "You belong here. I will forgive any sins you have ever committed. Come and follow me."