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Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas!

From my family to yours...MERRY CHRISTMAS AND HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

A Proverbs 31 Woman

Yesterday we attended the funeral of a 94 year old woman. She and her husband would have celebrated their SEVENTIETH ANNIVERSARY in March! What an inspiration they have been to us and to so many others who knew them!

Every Sunday morning she was feeling well, this woman's husband would get up towards the end of Bible class and go and get her for worship. He was always so attentive to her - holding her purse and holding her arm. He, himself, uses a cane. They were a sweet, sweet couple and a wonderful example of faithfulness to Christ, His church, and to having a marriage that glorified God.

Joe's brother is our preacher, and he read Proverbs 31 at her service, which rightly described this sweet lady. Interestingly, last night in my ladies' Bible class, I was finishing up a series of lessons on marriage and we also read Proverbs 31. I hope you'll take the time to read it, too.

Females today talk about "goals". The life we celebrated yesterday was one of a woman who met her goals- the greatest of which is her eternal home.  As Christian women, we too should strive to have those same goals. Those goals are the very best goals we could ever, ever have.  No other goals compete.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Sacrificial Giving

Yesterday the sermon was about being happy through giving.  I really liked this quote: "You can be giving without loving, but you can't be loving without giving."  

God gave us His Son as a sacrificial gift for the sin of mankind.  In our giving, if it's not sacrificial, what are we really giving?  Unless it costs me something - time, money, talents, energy, etc. - I'm not truly giving in the way God wants me to give.

It's pretty easy to throw money at a problem or need if I have plenty of money. The sacrifice comes when I don't have the money.  It's pretty easy to volunteer my time to something if I have plenty of time to spare, but if I give up my much-needed time and take it away from something, giving it towards someone or something else, then I am giving it sacrificially.

Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the LORD your God which He has given you. Deuteronomy 16:17 

There is one who scatters, and yet increases all the more, and there is one who withholds what is justly due, and yet it results only in want. The generous man will be prosperous, and he who waters will himself be watered. Proverbs 11:24-25

And He sat down opposite the treasury, and began observing how the people were putting money into the treasury; and many rich people were putting in large sums. A poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which amount to a cent. Calling His disciples to Him, He said to them, “Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the contributors to the treasury; for they all put in out of their surplus, but she, out of her poverty, put in all she owned, all she had to live on.” Mark 12:41-44

Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return. Luke 6:38

Not only must we give sacrificially, but we should also give with a pure heart and with the right motives.  Love is the motive that should be the cause of all of our giving.  Without love, our motives will never be pure.  When we give of ourselves with love, God will bless us.  We serve Him because we love Him...not out of duty, but of love.  That's the best gift we can give Him.  That is what sacrificial giving is all about.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Renewing Your Connection

I've mentioned that I was having computer problems.  BIG COMPUTER PROBLEMS.  Since MARCH.

I knew the computer was full...mostly with pictures.  Trying to move the pictures over to an external drive helped, but even then, the problem persisted.  I tried all kinds of things making sure to save the pictures at least in one spot.  Albums to Facebook, Shutterfly, Carbonite and the other external thing just kept part of them saved, but I could never get all of them moved for some reason. The computer was slow and slower, then finally, basically couldn't work at all.  The little spinning ball kept spinning and spinning and spinning.  I was desperate because writing out my ladies' Bible class lessons is hard to do without a computer.

My husband had said back in the spring that I could get a new one, but that seemed wasteful at the time, thinking I could surely make the other one work better eventually.  Well, after eight months, I decided I needed to just get one.  The before "Black Friday" sales helped save some money and the new computer was ordered.  It was so nice to be able to go to wherever I needed to go and for the pages app to load immediately.  The last time I had tried to print out something on pages on the old computer, it took a day and a half!!!  It was crazy!!

So, all was going along well until last week.  The NEW computer was acting slow.  I knew that our internet could just be slow at times, especially during peak times of usage in our rural area, but this was different.  I finally just decided to call about it.  The service representative had me run a diagnostic test and then had me repeat it immediately afterwards.  On the repeat, the time of the test was so quick, it was amazing!  I asked what she did so quickly that made such a difference.  She said, "Oh, I just renewed your connection." Wow!!  How did something that took only a few seconds make such a huge difference?  Because the other connection was weak.

In our spiritual lives it's possible that we have a weak connection.  It's possible we need to renew our connection to God, to Jesus, and to the church.  The old saying goes, "If you feel far from God, guess who moved?".  God doesn't move.  Jesus doesn't move.  It's WE who move.  It's ME. It's YOU.  You and I have the ability to grow closer to Him and grow in our faith or we move away from Him and our faith grows weak.  Now, it may not be as quick of a fix as my internet connection - it may take some time - but oftentimes it's just a simple thing that will help.  Pray more.  Study the Word more.  Worship more.  Assemble with the saints more.  Think of others more.  Simple things, yet often tough to do at times of weak connection.

Probably all of us have weak connections in our lives at one time or another.  If not spiritually, maybe it's with our relationships or our commitment to our families or our work ethic.  We have to reconnect....renew the at it and make it stronger.  But as a Christian, nothing we do has to be done alone.  God is there with us.  Jesus is with us.  The Holy Spirit lives within us to help us in our weakness.  HE is the renewing factor of the poor connection!

Maybe I've written about this before.  It seems like it.  But maybe that's because it's what I usually need myself so often, that it is just where my mind tends to go.  I'm not sure I could think about it too often because when I'm thinking about it, it means I'm working on it.  Maybe you are, too.

Renewing your connection begins right now!

“If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever—the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.  John 14:15-17

Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. Romans 8:5

For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. Romans 8:14

 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

Monday, December 7, 2015

The Chronicles of Biscuit: I'm Just Complaining Inside

The Chronicles of Biscuit: Stories about our youngest son whose nickname is Biscuit.

These stories don't happen quite as often now, so it's kind of a treat to be writing a "Biscuit" story now that he's a teenager! Actually, this happened just a few days before he turned 13.  I still like these stories.  I hope I'll write a few more of them before he's grown. Something tells me that I will. :)

I was trying to get the yard and house straightened up for Biscuit's 13th birthday party.  It was after school one day.  Biscuit was eating a snack, then I told him to straighten up his room and come outside to help me gather up the fall decorations and put out Christmas decorations.

There wasn't much outside, so it didn't end up taking as long as I thought it would.  I came into the house and hollered at Biscuit. "I finished outside, so instead of doing that when you're done with your room, just unload the dishwasher."  I heard back from him, "Okay!"  I paused a minute, waiting for the "But I wanted to help you outside."  It didn't come!

I was a little bit shocked Biscuit didn't say anything about not getting to go outside and work, since he had said earlier he wanted to play outside.  I hollered back, "Thank you for saying okay!  I thought you would complain about it!"  He hollered back, "I'm complaining on the inside!"  Ha ha!  I responded, "Well, that's a good start!"

The Bible tells us to do everything "without grumbling or complaining" in Philippians 2:14-16, which is that passage from which this blog is named. "Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life." For most of us, we continue to fail in this area.  For Biscuit - or me, for that matter - to ONLY complain on the inside would be a big start in the right direction.  For me not to voice my complaints, but only to think them would be huge!  Should we even think them?  No, we shouldn't, but a big step in the right direction is to not open our mouths with complaining, but to just keep it to ourselves.  After mastering that goal, then we can move on to allowing God's Spirit to help us control our thoughts.  Transforming into the likeness of Christ is growing more and more mature each and every day.  It's not automatic.  It takes time to become more like Him. We will never reach perfection as He was, but we can become more like Him each day.

How about you?  Can you keep your complaining on the inside?  Would it be a big accomplishment for you?  Let's work on it together!

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Happy 13th Birthday, Tyler...Biscuit....Bose....Mickey....the Youngest!

Tyler, the youngest, our "baby", a TEENAGER today!!! How exciting for him, even though it makes me feel a little strange.  Strange because his 13 year old life has just zoomed by so fast!
It was great that Tyler's two oldest siblings were able to be home from college for his party the night before.  Some day that may not be possible, but we are thankful that this time they could.
Decorating for Tyler's birthday has always been a challenge because his party decorations compete with the Christmas decorations. He doesn't seem to mind.  I tried to talk him into a mustache party, but he is not a fan of facial hair, so he said no!  :)  After OU won last Saturday, he decided he wanted an OU party.  I decided since he was into bow ties these days that the theme could have some bow ties mixed in.  It was cute and he liked it!

Tyler wanted his Uncle Ken to make the meat for his party, but he was busy with another food event. Zachary volunteered to be the meat cook.  Tyler wanted pulled pork, ham, and ribs plus twice baked potatoes, green beans and rolls.  Since Zachary did so much of the work, we also made baked beans to treat him.
It was great!  Zachary did a super job!!
It's so much fun to have so many family members to share these special times with for our kids.  I should have gotten pictures with grandparents each time like I do with the cousins!
The cake was simple and if you cannot tell, that thing on the bottom left is a bow tie!

You light up our lives.  We are blessed to have you as a son and as a member of this family.  When I think back on this past year, I see maturity.  I know that you are striving to be the very best person on the inside, as well as on the outside, and I admire and thank you for that.

This is the year you began calling me my very first nickname! I have to document that because if you ever try to forget, I won't let you! Ha ha!  Have that special name given by you was very special. I always wanted a nickname! Who knew it would be "awai" or "tender"???!!! Ha ha!

Tyler, we can't wait to see what God has planned for your life. We know that he will use you in His Kingdom to help fulfill his plans.  We pray that you will always rely on Him, that you will allow Him to direct your path and guide your steps.

You have a special bond with each of your siblings.  You always will.  Each one of them is special to you for different reasons.  My prayer is that you all will always be close.

Being the baby of the family has its perks and its negative side.  In some ways we let you off easy, but in other ways we may be harder on you.  We pray that you always know that what we do or don't do is only because of what we think is truly best for you.  We see your potential more than you do and know that you are capable of things than we allow you to be or that you sometimes want to be.  But that's okay.

Keep laughing. Keep having fun.  Keep making others laugh.  Keep your fun imagination.  Keep growing in wisdom.  Continue to grow in the Lord.

We pray that you grow up and continue to be a faithful servant of God.  Thank you for the example you show to others. Never forget the influence that you have wherever you go.

I love you very much,
MOM (Tender) :)

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Spending Quality Time with the Grinch...and Lauren!

Lauren called a few weeks ago and asked if I could go to Oklahoma City on Monday the 30th. She had a surprise for me.
I had no idea what we were going to do, but figured it was a show of some kind.
I started to be nosey - checking out Christmas events in the Metro, but didn't want to spoil the surprise. I told my husband that, and he said I probably wouldn't be able to find it anyway. Hmmmm....I wondered what it could be!
Lauren asked me to meet her st Bricktown. We ate at Spaghetti Warehouse (which, by the way, has a gluten free Spaghetti Alfredo!). 
We ate then drove around looking at Christmas lights downtown and around Automobile Alley.
As we drove past a painting studio, I commented about it, not knowing that was the surprise!
We parked and walked across the street - me still not realizing what we were doing! 😂
What a fun new get we had pairing this Grinch themed canvas!! It's Lauren's favorite Christmas movie (top of all movies), so it was really fun getting to do this with her!
Just the fact she planned this special evening for the two of us meant a lot to me.
It's hard to spend a lot of one on one time together these days. We're both busy and in different places. 
It was very special, and I'll remember it always.
Being downtown in OKC is fun, but at Christmas time, it's even better! 
We just took pictures from the car since it was so cold, but it was beautiful!
Even this truck was decked out in holiday lights!

Thanks for the fun evening, Lauren! I love you!

Monday, November 30, 2015

Thanksgiving 2015

Thanksgiving 2015 has come and gone. It was a great time and we were blessed to have almost everyone here for my husband's side of the family. 

In this picture six were missing. By the end of Wednesday night only three were missing! And by Thanksgiving day, we had only two people not here for at least a part of our time together. That's pretty amazing with 52 people!! 
The annual Turkey Trot started slowly, due to heavy rain, but these brave souls decided the weather wouldn't stop them!
Some ran, some walked, and some biked. I'm the official photographer of the event. I took most from the car to stay out of the rain. 😄
I just noticed our son's thumbs down sign! I guess he didn't care for the wet run he was experiencing! 😂
Zachary was designated as the official cinnamon roll maker for Thanksgiving 2015. He did a great job!
The amount of food that it takes to feed the family is tremendous! Huge catering pans are used! Yum!
The yearly "cousins" picture keeps growing and growing. It's great! There are 10 great-grandkids now!
The pumpkin bash was lots of fun. The rain broke for a while so it was less messy than we thought it would be. (Thankfully!) Now there's a huge mess to clean up. My husband mows the pumpkins down!
Games are a big part of our family Thanksgiving. This year we played a new game: "Pie in the Face". It was pretty funny - especially when someone got hit! My husband was a great sport and it hit him big time!

The week ended with an ice storm. Thankfully we kept our electricity, but many didn't. 

It was a great week having the two youngest out of school for the week and the two college kids home for several days. I'm thankful for these special times. I'm very thankful for the memories we have of Thanksgiving 2015. Thank you, God! 

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Family Fun Day

Sunday we had Thanksgiving lunch after morning class and worship, followed by an afternoon worship.  These days give families a block of time to do things on Sunday afternoon that are different from the regular "evening worship" schedules with the hours broken up into afternoon and evening.  For our family, we've been using those afternoons to rest and get caught up.

This time we decided to go somewhere.  We headed to the Wildlife Refuge and later ate at Meers. (Which, in our opinion, isn't the same as it used to be.  The cobbler and ice cream made up for it in my husband and older son's opinion!).

It was a cool, overcast day with a lot of wind, but it was still pretty being out in nature at the Refuge.

The flash on the camera actually provided a mock "sunlight" that caused the pretty colors of the trees and bushes to stand out. 

We toured the Refuge Visitor's Center, checking out the buffalo and other exhibits.
We went to the Holy City, which our youngest had never been to and the next oldest didn't remember because he was really young when he was there before.
Just being at the place where Christ's death, burial and resurrection is reenacted each year is inspirational.  It was good to look at the places they have and see how the Bible story moves along the City's landscape. I am sure it is wonderfully done each year (It's done every Easter.).
We drove up to the top of Mt. Scott to look around.  It was extremely windy and very cold! Jacob was the only brave one who looked for a little while! The rest of us headed to the care quickly!
It was a fun day, with just the four of us.  That's so different than being "the six of us" or even "the five of us"!  It was special, though, and good for the boys, especially the youngest.  So many of the things we "used to do" happened when he was not yet born or when he was young enough that he doesn't remember. He's done special things - maybe even "bigger" things - but I want him to experience the little things.  Special days where we just spend time together....not much money....just time.  Making memories.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Unfaithful Children

Yesterday on our "Parents After God's Own Heart" Facebook page, we posted the following:

"One of the biggest reasons for unfaithful adult children is that they were raised by unfaithful parents. If parents practiced a religion of convenience and that was the example shown to the children, the grown children will usually do the same. As time goes on, there are more and more "convenient excuses" and "uncommitted followers" as our society becomes busier and busier.
Put God, Jesus, and His church FIRST. Everything in front of any of those is an idol."

A reader sent this follow up and wanted to share it. It's their personal family situation, but they thought it would help others, possibly.

"I would like to submit the following comment to your post about unfaithful children, if you feel it would be useful to others?

I agree this can be true (*Note....What we posted yesterday). But another perspective, if I may. We would be considered "faithful" because we attended all services and programs offered by our congregation, my husband a deacon, lead singing and I taught bible class. We still have one unfaithful and one who has never obeyed the gospel.

Our lack of personal training in the home and letting them see God was first in everything we did was a mistake we made. We just assumed they would grasp the concept of a loving relationship with God and the church by osmosis, I guess. As parents, we can always second guess our parenting skills, but, please, young parents, take the time to pray, teach the word, morals, etc with your children. You can start as soon as they are born! Use life situations to talk about what the Bible says and it's answer to the situation. Help them grow their love and reliance on God for their everyday needs. I know we can do everything right and some will still go astray.......God gave us a free will to worship him or not. But, I believe your odds will be greatly increased if you raise your child to become a lover of God and follower of Christ, not just a church member. It takes both to make a faithful Christian.

I wish the expecting parents would seek out the advice and wisdom of those who have traveled the road before them. It took me quite a while to understand it takes more than being a bench warmer to be in a right relationship with God. Unfortunately, too late to have much influence on my children's spiritual development."

Friday, November 6, 2015

Goals - A Public Service Announcement for Teenaged Girls

Marriage and family/parenting topics are my very favorite things to talk about.  One thing that I keep noticing - especially on social media - is lists of things that girls expect from boys.  They go on and on and on with what they expect.  Are some of those things good?  Of course.  But the problem is that many girls expect a long list of things from boys, yet they believe that they act any way they please and it's just fine.  Having three boys, I'm especially protective of them in regards to girls - well, pushy girls, anyway.  And any girl that thinks that one of my boys will be their "everything" will be sadly mistaken.  None of my three boys are perfect.  In fact, NO boy is perfect.  And no girl is, either.

Yesterday morning I wrote a quick message to my young girl friends.  I know some of them will pay attention to it and think about it and perhaps some of the adult women will, too.  I had several comments and messages about it...even people wanting to print it off for their granddaughters.  I pray it helped even one to think about how they view boys.  It will save them a lot of heartache in life if they realize these things.

Here it is:


Public Service Announcement for my teenage girl friends who I care very much about!!

DON'T expect too much from boys. Some of you want him to be EVERYTHING for you. HE CAN'T BE. No one can be that except God.

Boys were made by God to be much different than you. Their brains are wired very different from yours. Do not expect them to understand your needs and wants and desires in everything. It's not that they aren't intelligent, but that they just were created differently from you. They can not think the way you do. It's impossible. (And based on raising three and being married to one, they each understand women/girls in different capacities, based on their personalities and genetic make-up.) And different doesn't mean wrong or inferior either way.

Don't base your worth on what society tells you is right. It's not about social media popularity. It's not about wearing the right clothes, having a boyfriend, or any of that stuff that won't matter in 10 years...even five years.

Your are worthy because you were made by an awesome God who loves you and cares for you. No human on earth will ever compare to that, so don't look for and expect that to be your source of happiness.

If you want to be treated like a princess, then act like one. Don't expect a perfect prince, though. He doesn't exist. Those are Disney fairytales. 😊 But don't expect your prince to be almost perfect, yet you, the princess,  gets to act as please. That's not fair. If you want to be treated like a princess, then treat him like a prince. It goes both ways.

Don't be in a hurry. Someday you'll find "the one". In that process, don't lower your standards because you're lonely and feel incomplete. Wait. It will be worth it. It may not be a Disney fairytale, but it will be yours.

That's "goals".

Friday, October 30, 2015

There's No God Like You!

There's just something about the sound of rain, isn't there?  It started early this morning and is still going...hopefully all day long! I've got the back door open, just to listen to it.  It's peaceful and calming.

I know that the Lord is great,
    that our Lord is greater than all gods.
The Lord does whatever pleases him,
    in the heavens and on the earth,
    in the seas and all their depths.
He makes clouds rise from the ends of the earth;
    he sends lightning with the rain
    and brings out the wind from his storehouses.
Psalm 135:5-7

After several years of drought, we are thankful for the rains we've had. Praising God for the rain comes naturally, even to those who may not truly know Him.

Do any of the worthless idols of the nations bring rain?
    Do the skies themselves send down showers?
No, it is you, Lord our God.
    Therefore our hope is in you,
    for you are the one who does all this.
Jeremiah 14:22

Our praise to Him should not waver.  He, alone, is God. No idol can bring rain.  He IS the ONE who does all this. Let's never forget to give Him praise.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Sweet Things

It was always important to us for our children to be close.  They were always expected to attend each other's events unless, of course, they, themselves had an event.  This meant that the youngest was at ALMOST EVERY game, contest, etc. of his older siblings.

So now, the youngest is the one with lots of activities beginning.  He is in Junior High sports, so has a lot more games.  Last night was his final football game, and since she didn't have college classes or work obligations, the oldest was able to drive over two hours just to see him play.  That's pretty sweet!  The way it worked out she was even able to stay all night and leave early this morning to get back to college and work, so it was just a down and back trip.  But even if it had been, she would have done it.

Another sweet thing happened Saturday.  After I spoke at the Ladies' Day, I decided to go to the biggest craft/vendor show in Oklahoma, "An Affair of the Heart".  I would have been fine going alone, but my oldest son decided to join me. I was shocked he even wanted to go!  The 17 year old had been a few times and only liked it because of the cappucino/frappuccino, and this college boy did enjoy the food samples, but I think he really just went to spend time with me because I didn't get to see him during Fall Break.  He knew I was sad about that.  That's pretty sweet!

I know that as they get older and have their own families, these times won't happen.  They will be busy and my husband and I will be making the special effort to go visit them and their families.  Whether near or far (they say it will be near because they want to stay close to family - all but the youngest who's planning to live in Florida!), we will go.  Those sweet times will continue.

Thank you, L and Z, for these sweet things! I love you both and appreciate you taking the time to do what you did! :) MOM

Monday, October 26, 2015

Ladies' Day in El Reno

One of my favorite lessons that I'm asked to do for Ladies' Day events is called, "If Teacups Could Talk". It's the one that many have asked me to do, probably because it's about sisters in Christ and their friendships, so relatable to all, but also because it's an easy and fun decorating theme.
The ladies of the London & Macomb church in El Reno, OK, did a wonderful job decorating and planning for their ladies' day!  Lots of hard work went into the event, as you can tell!  I loved the teacups in the flower bed!
One lady has a lot of the blue and white tea cups and saucers and other items, so the blue/white was the predominate theme color.  So pretty!
A quick breakfast was served as ladies registered.
The registration table was beautiful.  And the little blue and white purse on the back left corner was later used to draw out names to win door prizes.  The prizes were books about tea and friendships. (I can't remember the name right now, but it actually may be "If Teacups Could Talk", just like my lesson!)
There was enough food for us, plus they had a dinner yesterday after worship! I'm sure there was still food left! It was delicious!
One lady made all of these little teacup and teapot candies.  So cute!
And she made this cake, which was beautiful, but also delicious!
A beautiful tiered tray with more desserts....
More pretty blue/white dishes for decorations....
And each table setting had an adorable teacup sugar cookie and the silverware wrapped with the pretty theme-inspired napkin ring.
The fellowship building, just up the street a few feet from the church building, is an old house.  I loved it! It reminded me of a house my husband and I lived in and where we lived when our first three children were born (except it was at least double the size!).
The kitchen was so cute. I loved the shelves and all of the antique decor that members have probably donated to the building/house.
I could imagine wedding showers and baby showers being so intimate in this place!!
This was my favorite room. Love those windows and lace curtains!
Homey.  That's what it was.  A wonderful day!
Sharing God's Word with ladies is my passion.  I think that ladies' day events are some of the most important things we can do, because it's great for women to get together and worship, sing, pray, and laugh.  It's good for us to get to know one another better.  

Thank you to the ladies from the L and M congregation for inviting me to be with you.  I pray that you were encouraged and uplifted by being there.  Most of all, I pray that God was glorified by all that was said and done.  To Him be all of the glory!
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