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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!

Friday, October 23, 2015

Jacob's "Junior Year Trip With a Parent"

Our third child and I just returned home from the second happiest place on earth - Walt Disney World! (The one in FLORIDA.  DisneyLAND is in California!) It's usually called the "Happiest Place on Earth", but most of the time my home is the happiest place.  Sometimes, it's not!! Ha ha!
So this was the year it was Jacob's turn to go on a trip with a parent. I went with the oldest, my husband went with the next oldest, I went this time, and for the youngest, my husband will go.  It began as a surprise gift for me from my husband, but we decided to make it a special "Junior Year" thing with the kids.
The main reason it is so special is that with two people, we can do what we can not do with six people.  With six people, we always rent a house because it's way cheaper than staying at a Disney Resort. But by staying on property in a Disney Resort, you get a lot of the perks and experiences that we can't get when staying in a house off property.
The pictures above are from "Be Our Guest" restaurant.  It's inside the Beast's Castle. The "Beauty and the Beast" beast.  He's with us in the top picture.  It was a DELICIOUS meal! Jacob says it's the very best steak he's ever eaten! And the picture above here is the "Grey Stuff"...just like in the movie!  It's delicious!  Jacob really liked it!
Christmas at WDW is just beautiful, but I loved the fall decorations! If they had been selling one of these wreaths, I might have brought one home!  (Not really because I'm sure it would have cost a small fortune and it absolutely wouldn't have fit in the suitcase!).
The fireworks and shows during "Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party" were especially fun. I'm not a huge fan of Halloween, so I wasn't sure I would like the party, but it was really fun! There were people dressed up - both old and young and in-between - and lots of stops to trick or treat.  There were special shows and parades just for that party, so it was pretty neat and not so scary.  :)
One highlight of our trip was on the safari. There are two baby giraffes on the safari now and one of them came up really close to our bus! I think he/she wanted to play!  Sooooooo cute!
One of Jacob's nicknames is "Donald". His siblings call him that or Duck or Duckling, so we had to get a picture of him with his namesake!  Donald Duck is his favorite Disney character! He was always my favorite, too!
The second best place we ate was O'hana.  That's another perk of only having two people...we could eat at all of the nice places every day. That's too expensive to do with six people!
Jacob really, really, really liked O'hana!  This was towards the end when we still had lots of food left and he was stuffed!
A special part of the trip was getting pictures with Jacob.  He didn't mind a bit and even suggested that we stop for pictures occasionally!  I laugh because with our daughter's and my trip, we do have some pictures, with my husband and next oldest, they sent me two picture, and Jacob and I have several hundreds of pictures!!  I'm thinking #4 and his dad will send two.  Ha ha!
As soon as most people get home from WDW, they miss it.  We've missed it all week, though walking 10-15 miles a day wore us out!!  My feet needed a rest (I only got 3 blisters this time compared to 14 last Christmas! YAY! Ha ha!).  But within a day, we both wanted to go back...and that made the rest of the family want to go back.
(Bathroom fast pass from Whispering Canyon restaurant.  Such a fun place to eat!)

This year has been odd for me. I've been to Florida four times.  That won't happen again unless one of our children decides to live there, then we'll be there often.  (I want them to be close, but if they do choose to live away, Florida is top on the list! :) ) 
Our housekeeper made this elephant and decorated it with the wand and sward they gave us when we checked in a Caribbean Beach Resort.  I didn't know it, but Jacob had written her a sweet note thanking her for all she was doing. That was very sweet of him! He wrote her another one after this.
I had to post one of these, even though it's really unflattering of me!  This is how I look in all of the scary ride pictures.  My children "pose" for the cameras!  This is on "Rock n Roll Roller Coaster" in which the "limo" goes from 0 to 60 in 2 seconds!  My heart beats fast just typing that!!!  But I'd get on right now if I could!
Sunday morning, we could have gotten a taxi and ridden to worship at the Main Gate congregation we enjoy every time we are at WDW, but we had worship together - just the two of us.  That's what we did with the older two, and really, it made it an intimate time with just the two of us at each trip.  Jacob wrote his own "sermon" and led us in song and prayer. I remembered the grape juice for communion, so didn't have to spend $16 for it like I did when Lauren and I went!  His lesson was GREAT. I'll share it next week.  

Special memories were made last week.  Jacob was so appreciative of this special trip just for him.  It was pretty neat seeing how much he enjoyed it.  He was even proud of these pictures where they had us hug :).  He likes hugs.  I'm thankful he does.

Yesterday I printed off one of our hugging pictures, put it in a Mickey frame I had gotten him without him knowing, and set it on his dresser. He was so proud of it and asked how I did it so quickly and how I got the frame.  He'll always remember this special one-on-one trip.  And so will I.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Why the Straight Paths?

We've been reading Proverbs and memorizing passages from it. This morning I asked the boys why there are so many references to walking the straight path - why God put that in His Word so many times in Proverbs?  We talked about how going down the wrong path can lead to destruction.  Bad choices.  Bad friends.  Bad examples.  Bad habits.  All can get us on the wrong choice that Solomon warns of in his wisdom from God.

One verse that strikes me funny is this one: Proverbs 4:7, "The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding."  The BEGINNING of wisdom is simply in trying to GET IT!  That is funny to me because it's so simple, yet for many, just coming to that conclusion isn't that simple.  And maybe even for me, at times, it isn't so simple.  It's actually pretty profound!

Wisdom will save you from the ways of wicked men,
    from men whose words are perverse,
who have left the straight paths
    to walk in dark ways,
who delight in doing wrong
    and rejoice in the perverseness of evil, Proverbs 2:12-14

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
    and he will make your paths straight.
Do not be wise in your own eyes;
    fear the Lord and shun evil. Proverbs 3:5-7

Listen, my son, accept what I say,
    and the years of your life will be many.
I instruct you in the way of wisdom
    and lead you along straight paths.
When you walk, your steps will not be hampered;
    when you run, you will not stumble. Proverbs 4:10-12

The righteousness of the blameless makes their paths straight,
    but the wicked are brought down by their own wickedness. Proverbs 11:5

Straight paths, for some, may seem boring.  There may not be as many "thrill rides" on the straight path, but that depends on what thrills you.  Does pain and sorrow thrill you? Do trials and heartaches thrill you?  When you are on the straight path, you will have pain and sorrow and trials, but nothing compared to the ones you will have on the dark path.  Ask anyone who has gone down that dark path and hit bottom. They will tell you it wasn't a thrill when they hit.  There may have been a few thrills on the way, but most all of them will tell you it was in no way thrilling when they got to the bottom.  It's actually more like a roller coaster spiraling out of control and then crashing at the bottom of the track.

So, why does God warn to stay on the straight path?  Here is why, plain and simple: 

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. Matthew 7:13-14

No thrill ride is worth missing out on the eternal home of Heaven.  No thrill ride is worth getting off of that narrow road and keeping us from that small gate.  Does God WANT people to choose destruction? Of course not!  But He won't make anyone choose the narrow way. He allows us the choice and allows us to have our own free will - whether we choose to love Him or not.

When it's put that way, it's a pretty easy choice, isn't it?  And if you were once on the wide, destructive road, there's good news!  You can get back on the narrow path.  It's not too late!  Praise God for His plan of salvation.  Praise God for His Gospel - the death, burial and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ - and the opportunity to obey that Gospel.  

Straight paths.  The narrow way.  Life.

Monday, October 12, 2015

What Do You Want To Be?

Growing up, I probably wanted to be a teacher in the beginning, but by second grade, I knew teaching wasn't for me.  After that, towards late elementary and early junior high, I wanted to be a fashion designer.  I liked the "in" fashions at the time, and was different than everyone else in my small town...I never, ever wore jeans, except to show my calves in 4-H and that was only because I had to.  Following the fashion designer years, I wanted to be a home economics teacher.  That was my favorite class, and even though I couldn't stand to sew and cringed at the thought of teaching it, I was willing to do it to pursue my dream.

A few year later, I began dating my husband.  I still planned to teach home ec, but the program began disappearing in Oklahoma colleges.  Only one had it, and it wasn't close to where I was going to live. I married, just went to college for the closet degree that went along with that field, and finished going a year and a half from graduation.  I've thought about going back some day, but mostly just liked to tease our daughter that I would just wait and go with her.  The funny thing is that she's more "done" right now with college than I am! Ha ha!

Deciding what to "be" when you grow up is difficult. There are so many choices! So many options! So many things to do that it's hard to even imagine.  I'm actually doing what I never realized I wanted to do when I was young - be a stay-at-home mom.  Staying "home" was definitely nothing that appealed to me. I was a "go-er".  How funny that now I'm thrilled when I do get to be home more than a day or so at a time!

Last night we heard a lesson about being a child of God vs. being a Christian.  It was actually very interesting and something I had never thought of before.  He talked about how that when we obey the Gospel, we become a child of God, but that to be a Christian means to be a follower of Christ.  I knew all of that, but think about this that he said:  We can be a child of God BUT STILL choose not to follow Christ.  We see it all of the time, actually.  One may believe, repent, confess, and be baptized, yet still not TURN away from the things of the world to follow Jesus.  WOW!  That is so true.  It is not just a one day thing.  It's an every-day-I'm-striving-to-follow-Him thing!  And if and when we fail, we don't turn away, but keep on going....striving to follow Him more closely.  When we do fail and turn away, continuing to grow further and further away from Him, that is when we are in trouble.  His grace is sufficient, but His death was worth more than just a one time commitment that it quickly forgotten.  Because He loves us so, He wants us to love Him.  And loving Him is striving to do His will.  It's striving to transform to His image.

Being a child of God and a Christian - a true Christ-follower - THAT is what we should all want to be! Nothing else in the world matters more than that decision.  No degree is more important than having our names written in the Book of Life.  No life choice is greater than deciding to dedicate your life to Him.  Living with Him in eternity is more important than any earthly destination.

What do you want to be?  I pray you want to be a child of God AND a Christian.  Faith is belief PLUS obedience.

You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. Galatians 5:4

Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:1-2

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. Hebrews 11:6

So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.  We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5:16-21

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

QMCC Ladies' Fall Retreat 2015

One of the highlights of fall each year is getting to go to the QMCC Ladies' Fall Retreat. This year was no exception.

I was trying to figure out how many years I've attended the retreat, and think this was probably the 15th year....maybe even the 17th or 18th. A long time!  It's been going for 32 years, but I didn't even know about it until that first time I went.  I'm thankful I found out about this wonderful retreat at the camp that's very close to my heart!

Two sisters-in-law and a niece attended the retreat, so that was special to get to be together a little while.

This year the Elm and Hudson church ladies from Altus hosted the event and did a wonderful job.  Name tags hung from a brach as you registered, which also had number on the back to be used for door prizes later on.
The ladies had pooled together their fall decor to make beautiful table arrangements for the tables.

Since fall is my favorite season, I loved the decor!

I love the colors of fall. They are my happy colors!
For a snack, the ladies had a popcorn bar. There was a caramel popcorn, a pumpkin spice popcorn, plus a few other varieties, and candy corn, chocolate and peanuts.  They had little brown paper sacks to put the snacks in. Very cute!

 Craft time was fun. They had stations to make fabric pumpkins, pumpkin magnets from jar lids, cinnamon/orange simmering project (in the jar above) and a pumpkin made from canning jar rings.
This is a favorite time for everyone!  Ladies, even those who claim not to be "crafty", seem to enjoy making something! 

Thank you to the E & H ladies for a spiritually uplifting time at the retreat.  Studying God's Word together, singing together, praying, laughing, sharing's all a part of what makes this retreat so special.  Looking forward to next year already :).

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Making the Most of Your Mistakes

Even though we don't like to think about it, God often gives us our trials, mistakes, and painful times to teach us something or to grow us in some fruit.  Maybe you're lacking in love.  God will give you an opportunity to grow in that area.  Maybe you're lacking in patience or self-control. God will give you plenty of growth opportunities.  Other times He allows us to go through the storms and process of the mistake instead of taking away the pain.

Some of the storms in our lives are simply out of our control, but others of them we have caused ourselves.  What we do with those hard times is how we can learn to make the most of our mistakes/trials/troubles.  What we do with them can become our ministry.

In my Wednesday night ladies' class, we have been studying how our mistakes can be used to minister to others.  Although I had written last week and studied the lesson both last week and this week, it wasn't until looking at it for the final time yesterday that this verse seemed to jump out at me. I've enlarged the part that jumped.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.
2 Corinthians 1:3-4 

Do you see that?!  God comforts us in our troubles SO THAT we can comfort others in the same way.  There's another reason for the trials we go through!  It is so that we can help others!  It's so that we can share His love with others!  It's to bring us closer to someone!

Yet, often times we're afraid to use our trials for good.  Sometimes we don't want to bring up those painful times because...well, they're painful.  Maybe we still feel guilty about them. Maybe we don't want to think of the rough times.  Maybe we're content just in our own little world where we don't have to acknowledge the past.  But sometimes God wants us to get out of our comfort zone. Sometimes someone else needs us to share.  Sometimes we are missing out on an opportunity to share Jesus with others because we're afraid.  Let's get bold! Let's get brave!  Let's comfort others with the same comfort we, ourselves, received!

God wants us to make the most of our mistakes.  That's the end goal - to learn from them, to grow because of them, and to help others.  In doing so, our mistakes will become our ministry.  That's how we make the very most of those mistakes, troubles, and trials....using them to help others.
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