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Friday, February 27, 2015

Let it Snow! 2015



So it's almost March, but I'm excited about this snow coming in this morning, February 27!  The first two snows of this winter we missed because we were out of town, so this is a welcomed event for me!
It's not much, though we're expected to get between one and three inches.  I'm posting these two pictures early (about 8:15 CST) and then will post more below closer to 9:00, which is when the post next to be ready to go out via email today.

There are 24 scriptures with the word snow in it in the Bible.  I don't know about you, but I don't think about there being snow during the days and the locations of the Bible, but there really was!  That seems so neat to me....and cold!  They didn't have any of our modern conveniences.  No North Face jackets. No central heat.  No warm, comfy clothes, blankets, gloves.  Brrrr!!!!  I like the snow.  But, I like being warm in the snow, too!
Praise the Lord from the earth,
    you great sea creatures and all deeps,
 fire and hail, snow and mist,
    stormy wind fulfilling his word!
Mountains and all hills,
    fruit trees and all cedars!
Beasts and all livestock,
    creeping things and flying birds!
Kings of the earth and all peoples,
    princes and all rulers of the earth!
Young men and maidens together,
    old men and children!
Let them praise the name of the Lord,
    for his name alone is exalted;
    his majesty is above earth and heaven.
Psalm 148:7-13
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts.
 “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven
    and do not return there but water the earth,
making it bring forth and sprout,
    giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
 so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
    it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
    and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.
Isaiah 55:9-11
It's still coming down!  YAY!! Thank you, God, for the snow.  We need the moisture and it is sure pretty coming down and covering everything in a white blanket.



Wednesday, February 25, 2015

What Do You Love? Who Do You Love?

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.' Matthew 22:37-39
I saw this quote this morning: What you love says who you are.  It says a lot, doesn't it?  What we love does say a whole lot about who we are. 

As a Christian, we ARE a child of God.  Do we love Him with all of our heart, all of our soul, and all of our mind?  That's what is most important to Him, so we had better, hadn't we?  Anything we love first is before God. He won't be pleased by being anything less than the top priority in our lives.  And secondly, we must love our neighbor as ourselves.


Do you love yourself?  I pray you do! Do you love your neighbor as yourself, wanting the best for them, no harm to come to them, watch out for them?  


What do you love?  Who do you love? Are your priorities in life directed in the way they should be? 



What you love says who you are.  GOD wants to be #1.  Focus on that as you go through this Wednesday.  Have a great day!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Teen Valentine Banquet 2015


Last night was our annual teen Valentine Banquet and Scavenger Hunt. It was a much smaller group than we've had in past years, but still...a great group who attended.
We served the same thing as every year: beef and chicken lasagna, green beans, and garlic bread sticks.
Instead of 200 bread sticks, I only made 72! They were all gone, of course! (Have bread? They will come!)
For dessert we served the Layered Pudding Delight and Homemade Strawberry Shortcake, along with a few varieties of cookies.
The scavenger hunt consisted of two teams instead of the usual four or five teams.
And Joe had asked me to scale down the list quite a bit this year.  Probably a good thing, too! One group spent 30 minutes looking for a pink balloon!! Ha ha!!  Here's the list:
A number candle.
A pink balloon.
A signature of a deacon. (on back of this)
Sing a song preschool song to the worker at Hop ’n Sack.
Do a good deed for a high school teacher.
Get the signature of someone born in the 1940’s.
Sing a devo song for a retired teacher.
Do a good deed for an elementary teacher.
A piece of Valentine candy. Must be wrapped in Valentine paper.
A ticket from last night’s basketball game
Sing a songbook song to an elder and his wife.
Bring back 2 people who weren’t already here.
When the groups got back with the new guests, we had a devotional and sang some songs.
My husband gave the groups a hard time about their items - getting specific about some of the items!
There's something special about being around a group of teens and preteens!
They have an excitement that we adults tend to let go of as we grow up.
That's why Jesus told us to be as little children, isn't it?
The older we get, the more and more we lose that child-like quality...or the qualities....that He believes we should have.  He knows we should have.
We ended the evening with a prayer, thanking God for the day and for His guidance in keeping the eyes and minds and thoughts of the teens pure.

Here's a video of one of the teams singing to the convenience store clerk!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

God Is Love

This morning as I was reading this passage, I realized that there is nothing else that could be added to it by my words.  It's simple. It's plain.  I can't add any thoughts.  I can just ask one question.  Do I love like God wants me to love?  Do you?  Read this passage....examine your heart.....and answer that question.  I made the parts that stuck out to me, especially, in bold.

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.

13 This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. 16 And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.

God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. 17 This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. 18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

19 We love because he first loved us. 20 Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. 21 And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister. 1 John 4:7-21

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

What I Learned From Staying Home Alone

I can only think of one other time I was alone for more than a day and it was only 2 - 3 days, so this was very different for me.  I gained some insight during these 4 2/3 days.  Here's what I learned:

1. I can get a lot done being the only one in the house.
2. Even if I'm here alone, dishes and laundry still have to be done.
3. I'm the messiest person in this family.
4. I'm a hoarder.
5. I should be banned from buying any more craft supplies.....mesh.....ribbon....stuff.....anything, basically.
6. I'm highly distracted when sorting through "stuff" and "junk".
7. I love looking at old pictures, the kid's old papers from elementary school, baby clothes....
8. If I were to write a book called, "The 7 Habits of Highly Distracted People", my picture could be on the cover.
9. It's okay to get Valentine's Day decorations up on Feb. 13 and leave them for a few weeks (we'll see how long).
10. It's possible to not leave the house for almost 4 2/3 days, only leaving to feed the goats and see three basketball games and Sunday worship/class and evening worship. I made a pact with myself to not go anywhere those first two days at all until that night for one basketball game! I even turned down two lunch invitations in Altus - one on each of those days with family members.
12. I'm thankful that goat feeding isn't my usual job, though I love seeing the babies. Trash duty in 32 degrees isn't my cup of tea, either!
13. When Joe is gone, it's just not the same around here. I miss him and am thankful to have him for a husband - not just for what he does around here, but because he's my best friend on earth.
14. Life isn't as fun without children around. It may be noisier and more food needed, but I wouldn't trade it for the world.
15. When you get a call from your husband and he doesn't say anything, you know something is wrong. It makes your heart seem to skip a beat waiting for the news. So thankful that Camry is going to be okay. A young woman skiing with her fiancée the next day wasn't as fortunate. Makes you think about this swift earthly life, your eternal life, and relationships with those you love. Puts things in perspective.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Decluttering

My husband and three boys left early this morning for a church family ski trip.  They look forward to this trip every year and it's good for them to get to go together with "just the guys".  This year I kind of wanted to go, just because I knew I would miss them and love seeing the snow, but wouldn't allow myself to even think much about it.  Why?  Because our house needs me here!

While the family is gone, there isn't a schedule I have to keep.  I don't need to cook.  I don't have to go anywhere (except for a few basketball games that are in town that I'll go to because I don't want to miss them).  No one is counting on me to do anything, except for myself!

From Christmas until now has been crazy.  With basketball, helping move our daughter to Florida, beginning a new ladies' Bible class study, working on our church ladies' event coming up, and trying to keep things going in the house, the house is beyond neglected!  I just got the final Christmas totes all packed up yesterday and finally found the Valentine's tote (labeled as Christmas on one side, but Valentine's on top, causing the problem of not being able to find it for days) yesterday - just a few days before the holiday!  Ha ha!  Oh well....we're having two events here after the 14th, so it works out perfectly.  And on top of that, our oldest son's putting green he  built a few years ago in his room is covered with lots of stuff that's not his - it's mine! He couldn't putt on it if he wanted to!!  It's time to DECLUTTER beginning NOW!!  As soon as I click PUBLISH on this post!

Decluttering feels good, doesn't it?  It's a needful thing to do from time to time, isn't it?  Our homes, cars, offices, spare rooms - all can become cluttered if we're not careful.  And when there's too much clutter around, it's hard to breathe! It's as if we're claustrophobic with all of that junk around. And we have to declutter.

What about in your spiritual life? Do you ever need to declutter?  Get rid of the junk?  Yes, from time to time we also should declutter our spiritual lives!  We may need to declutter bad habits, unloving and impatient attitudes, greed, unforgiveness, jealousy, envy, pride.....all of these things clutter our lives and keep us from focusing on the blessings that God has given us. They also keep us from shining brightly for Jesus.

And just like it's bad to hoard up the junk in our homes, it's even worse when we hoard up that "junk" in our spiritual lives.  It will weigh us down and keep us from being free from the tangles web of sin.

So declutter your spiritual life!  Get busy today!  You'll be free again!

Let us examine and probe our ways, And let us return to the Lord. Lamentations 3:40

Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you - unless indeed you fail the test? 2 Corinthians 13:5

I considered my ways and turned my feet to Your testimonies. Psalm 1119:59

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Longing for Home

Every year during basketball season (which is my favorite sport, by the way), I feel as if we are barely hanging on.  We have games five nights a week - all but on Sunday and Wednesday - and  then, of course, we're busy those days with worship and Bible classes.  So there's very little time for anything else.  It doesn't last long because we're a football school and have had great football teams for several years now, so all of our basketball is crammed into a few short weeks.  And now it's basketball playoff time, so the schedule eases up a bit.

Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. 7 For we live by faith, not by sight. 8 We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. 9 So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad. 2 Corinthians 5:6-10

"As long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord."  Hummmmmmm.......

Do you see what that's saying?  If we feel at home in this earthly body and are too comfortable in this world, we're away from the Lord.  Do you prefer to be away from this body and be with the Lord?  Do you long for heaven?

I must admit that at times - like during this basketball season - I get to enjoying this earthly life a little bit too much! I like watching my children play. I like being with the fans.  I like spending time as a family at these activities.  But then I get to missing my earthly home, since we've not been there too much. I "long" to be home without activities and schedules.  

But what about my heavenly home?  Do I long for it?  Of course I do, at times.  I often think if Jesus did come back "today" that none of this "stuff" would matter, but do I really long for it like I should?  Do I crave it and want it to happen soon or would I rather have Him return according to my own schedule?  I'm afraid that sometimes I enjoy this earthly life too much and would prefer Jesus to wait until a certain event is over.

If I am going to make it my goal to please Him, then I will have to begin to say in my mind, "I prefer to leave this earthly life and be at home with Him".  I must learn to deny my selfish, earthly desires, and focus on heavenly, spiritual thoughts.  This life is temporary, no matter how caught up in it we may be.  The spiritual life will last for eternity.  It's easy to forget....or fail to acknowledge....that huge fact!  It's easy to get caught up in this "season" (whether basketball or any other earthly season) and forget that it doesn't really matter in the scope of eternity!

Today, I need to be singing this song:

THIS WORLD IS NOT MY HOME
(Albert E. Brumley)
'52 Acclaim Music

This world is not my home I'm just a passing through
My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue
The angels beckon me from heaven's open door
And I can't feel at home in this world anymore
Oh Lord you know I have no friend like you
If heaven's not my home then Lord what will I do
The angels beckon me from heaven's open door
And I can't feel at home in this world anymore

Let's all strive to long for home - our heavenly home.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Elevate Marriage Retreat


Last week, Thursday evening through Saturday morning, Joe and I attended an Elevate Marriage Retreat held at the historic Skirvin Hotel in Oklahoma City.
It was a wonderful time being with other Christian couples striving to keep their marriage a top priority and having a get away with just the two of us.
Like most parents, we get busy with the kid's activities and our own schedules and don't take the time for just ourselves like we should.
The retreat made us refocus and commit to making sure our marriage is elevated and placed before other things in life.
The marriage relationship should only be second to ones relationship with God.
Even our children shouldn't come before our marriage, but most parents fall into the "all about the children" mode fairly easily and without much thought.
We're already looking forward to next year's retreat!  Who wouldn't want to spend a few days together at a beautiful place such as the Skirvin?!
One book that the speakers used for quotes and information during the retreat was "5 Love Languages" by Gary Chapman. If you haven't read the book, you should.  It's great!
The Skirvin has a few odd things that you don't really notice just walking by.  When you look closer, it's kind of scary and weird and funny!!!
And then you see something beautiful!  I imagined a wedding right here, but it would have to be a really small wedding being one of the entries into the building.
There were many photos of famous people who have stayed at the Skirvin over the years. There are stories about the past, stories about repair and remodel, and interesting artwork throughout.
The black, red, and gold color scheme definitely gives it a rich feel, though we got a great deal (with meals included) in our retreat package!
And then another odd little man perched up on a column! I would love to know why these weird things were included in the building! What was Mr. Skirvin thinking???!  Or was he?
We had to take a picture of the "Closed for Maintenance" sign and send to our Disney World girl.  At Disney World, the word for maintenance is "refurbishing".  So this was very un-Disney-like! Ha ha!! (I don't know why that's so funny to me!)
Thank you to BJ Clarke and Steven Minor and their wives, Tish & Stephanie, for speaking at the Elevate Marriage Retreat, and to Denton and Joanna Wood for their hard work organizing the event!  It was a blessing to attend!

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

YES, YOU CAN GO TO DISNEY WITHOUT VISITING ANY PARKS!

(Port Orleans Resort - New Orleans)
When my daughter and I drove to Walt Disney World a few weeks ago so that she could begin the College Internship Program, we had just gotten home from a family Christmas vacation there a few weeks earlier. 

Because we had gone to the four main parks (Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom) during that visit, I wasn't going to buy a ticket to go to one during this visit.  Not that I didn't want to, but I didn't think I should spend the money on it since we already had weeks before.  Lauren will get a discount and even a few free tickets, but that wasn't going into effect until I was gone.
We stayed on Disney property during this trip, which usually our family doesn't do.  Lauren and I even got the dining plan, just for a fun way to be able to try a few different restaurants, so the room and meals were paid for in advance.  But I was determined to not spend any - or much - money at all after I arrived.  I made it a challenge to NOT spend, actually! I wanted to prove that it was possible!  And I did!!
If  you're staying at a Disney resort, you can ride the buses everywhere. Actually, even if you're not staying on property, you can ride the buses, boats, and monorails.  So transportation isn't an issue.  It may take you awhile to get to where you want to go, but you easily can do it.  We spent time around our resort pool (pictured on top), visited the amazing Boardwalk (FREE!), which provides beautiful scenes, fun shopping (without spending!)...
...and funny sidewalk entertainment!  You could literally spend hours down at the Boardwalk just walking around and looking - or even sitting and watching!  Such a neat place that we had never been to!

Another free thing to do is to watch the Wishes fireworks show at Magic Kingdom from a distant location.  This view is of the Grand Floridian as we sat on the Polynesian Resort beach.
It was a great place to watch Wishes!
When Lauren was busy with training one day, I spend the day riding boats and buses going to Downtown Disney and other resorts.
Included WITH our resort package were FREE tickets to Disney Quest!  It's an arcade, game, food, and fun place that's five stories high!!  I actually did some of the things, even though I was all alone!
It was fun, but I was also determined to use up that FREE ticket well! I made my own roller coaster, then got to ride it in a simulator that went upside down!  The kids thought it was hilarious that I did that all alone :).
I toured Pop Century Resort, which was amazing!!  I had seen pictures of it, but never in person.
Art of Imagination Resort may have been my favorite, though.  I love how they designed the movies within the hotel rooms.
Aren't these amazing places to stay??!  How fun to spend the afternoon in a Cozy Cone!

One thing about the resorts:  You can only swim in the pool at your OWN resort. You can't go to all of them just because you're a Disney guest.  But you CAN go around and visit them!  And you can also take your refillable Disney mug and use it at every resort.  I just snapped mine on my camera bag and used it whenever I needed something!
The Disney transportation system is very well organized.  Over 250 buses transport guests over the 30,500 acres!!
So, yes, you CAN visit Walt Disney World without going to the theme parks!  It was possible!  I wouldn't recommend it if it's your first visit to WDW, or maybe even your 2nd or 3rd, BUT if you want to experience Disney at a more relaxed pace, or if you want to splurge a little to stay on property, but not spend too much, you can still experience Disney just by being there.  

There's no more magical place on earth!  That's why WDW is called the happiest place on earth!  Of course, it's happier when your whole family is there, but you can make it happy just on your own....or even when telling your oldest child bye and you won't be seeing her for four months!

No matter how you experience WDW, that last picture, "See Ya Real Soon", will be the saddest one you see!

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

How Far Can You See?

 HOW FAR CAN YOU SEE?
(Used by permission.)

     Sam, an old man, was a witness in a burglary case.  The defense lawyer asked Sam, "Did you see my client commit this burglary?"

     "Yes," said Sam , "I saw him plainly take the goods."

     The lawyer asked Sam again, "Sam, this happened at night.  Are you sure you saw my client commit this crime?"

     "Yes" said Sam, "I saw him do it."

     Then the lawyer asked Sam, "Sam listen, you are 80 years old and your eyesight probably is bad.   Just how far can you see at night?"

     Sam said, "I can see the moon, how far is that?"

     Now I'm not prepared to discuss the validity of such a statement in court.  But this story does serve as a reminder that some people are content to be concerned with what they can see up close and forget what they can see from afar.  For example, it is a common sight to see someone walking along with their eyes focused only on the ground a few feet in front of them.  They end up seeing all sorts of things -- coins, buttons, pieces of trash.  But they miss out on all the beauty of the world around them.

     And yet we all tend to do the same thing spiritually.  We keep our eyes on television ads, store displays and our next door neighbors and focus on all the "things" we think we need, and fail to see the spiritual things that really matter.  I challenge you to walk through a shopping mall and look not in the store windows, but at the number of souls you pass by who need Jesus.  I challenge you to drive through a busy part of town without focusing on the Lexuses in front of you and behind you, but on the physical and spiritual needs of the people to your right and your left.  I challenge you to look beyond the things of this world to those things on a higher plane.

     "Since you were brought back to life with Christ, focus on the things that are above -- where Christ holds the highest position.  Keep your mind on things above, not on worldly things." (Colossians 3:1-2)

     How far can YOU see?

Have a great day!

Alan Smith
Alan Smith's "Thought For Today" from May 31, 2006

 
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