Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Wife to Wife Wednesday: Favorite Scripture

It's Wednesday, so that means it is time of another link up with Wife to Wife Wednesday hosted by Wives of Faith. Each week, Wives of Faith posts a topic allowing military wives the chance to connect. And who doesn't need a little community?

Today, the question is "What is your favorite scripture and why?"

Of course I love the greatest love story ever told found in John 3:16, but after that, my favorite verse is Psalm 118:24......

This is the day the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it.

As you can see, I have it framed in my living room (this is actually a greeting card that I bought years ago). I also have it on a coffee cup one of my students gave me last year.

Why do  love this verse? It serves as a daily reminder that God is in control. He has planned out each and everyday and it is up to me to be content in every situation. It is up to me to rejoice in my mountaintops and valley moments.  One thing I have learned in my 9 year Christian walk is that God is in all things. He is in all situations, good and bad.  Those moments mold me and shape me into the woman He has planned for me to be.  How can I not rejoice in that?

What about you?  What is your favorite scripture? I would love to hear about it.

If you are a military spouse, please join us at Wives of Faith today for Wife to Wife Wednesday. You can link up with your blog or just leave a comment.  Come and join the community! If you are not a military spouse, you can still join in!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

God is an awesome artist

Bible in a Year with Wives of Faith

You may remember that I am joining Wives of Faith in a commitment to read God's Word in a year.  Today, they wanted to know how it was going.  So, to be honest with you.....

I was stuck on day 23 for 3 days.  I just couldn't get through it even though I was reading daily.  I did get caught up. But overall, I am proud of myself.  I love that I can be having a conversation with someone and be able to add in some scripture that I have read.  God has allowed me to reach out to others, especially my husband by using scripture.  I have used it in Sunday school as well if something is similar to what we are studying.  

I have to admit. I am an "underliner."  When I come across a key passage, something that really touches my heart, I underline. Sometimes I even put a heading at the top of the page. I even took pictures using my cell phone one day so I wouldn't forget that I wanted to come back to those passages.  

Another confession.....the first time I tried reading through the Bible in one year. I quit. I was discouraged.  I started right in the middle.  Looking back, I should have started at the beginning and just changed the dates.  I think that would have helped.  

But I love this, reading God's Word everyday (even if takes a couple of days to get through one days reading). I have learned so much about God and about me.  I can't say it enough, but thank you Wives of Faith for challenging us and allowing us to be a community during this journey. 

How about you, friend, are you on a journey through God's word this year?  I'd love to hear about it.

Friday, January 25, 2013


Five Minute Friday: Again

They are at it again.  Fussing. Fighting. Arguing. Not playing fair. So we have a time out, and they go then go on their way.  Minutes later, you guessed it. They are at it. Again. Brothers.  What more do you expect?

He comes up behind me. Wraps his skinny, little arms around me and hugs me.  "Come here, Mama," he orders. I bend down, and my middle child kisses me on the cheek. I can count the number of times he has done that on one hand. And he is six.  Lately, though, that is what he is into.  Kissing his mama on the cheek.  Sweet boy, please do that again.  They are so far and few.

"Skype?" I got that text message again.  I love that message. Day or night I get logged on as quickly as I can. We spend that time together, long minutes, short minutes, cherished minutes.  Longing to hold each other once again.

Oops. I did it again. Lost temper. Ate too much. Gossiped. But He forgave me again.  And He will again because His love for me is unfailing. Unchanging.

Five Minute FridayAre you in?  Love to write? No time?  Five Minute Friday is for you!  Join in as women share their desires, hurts, and joys five minutes at a time each week. Stop by. Read. Encourage.  It only takes five minutes. Head on over to Lisa Jo's (aka the gypsy mama) to find out more.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Wife to Wife Wednesday

Today, for Wife to Wife Wednesday, Wives of Faith wants to know about my word of the year.

  Last year, I vowed to LIVE. I made no new year resolutions. I never keep them, so what's the point? After reading new year posts by several bloggers, I found they chose a theme or word to live by for the year. At that point, I chose the word LIVE. And live I did.

God had some amazing plans for my family that I did not know about. We ended the year in a place I never expected (well, maybe I did a little). But that is a whole series of posts to come at a later time.

I still want to live the life that God has planned for me. He is amazing and awesome. His ways are so much better than my own. So, as I am living for Him, what better way to live than to

I want to SHINE the light of Jesus in all I do, everywhere I go. I want people to see me and see HIM. One thing Jeff and I have talked so much about lately is that none of this is for us. It is for God. Everything we do should be His glory, not our own.

My marriage should glorify God.

My "parenting" should glorify God.

My attitude should glorify God.

Everything I am a part of, everything I am about should glorify God.

This world is a dark place. It is becoming darker by the moment. I want to be a SHINING light of hope. I want to lead others to Jesus. I want them to know Him like I do. I want to make the world a brighter place by glorifying God.

Would you join me? Would you help SHINE the light of Jesus in this dark world? Would you help me give hope to the lost and lonely?

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
Matthew 5:16

What is your word or theme for the new year? I'd love you hear it. Check out what some other amazing military spouses are saying at Wife to Wife Wednesday hosted by Wives of Faith.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Book Review: At the Feet of Jesus

I am always looking for a good daily devotional, one that presents scripture with real life and makes it easier for me to connect.

That is what I like about Joanna Weaver's At the Feet of Jesus: Daily Devotions to Nurture a Mary Heart

I have read Weaver's book Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World and have seen myself as a Martha, with my inner Mary trying to get out.  It seems that this devotional is a good way to get on the right track.

Each day's devotion begins with scripture followed by a real life application. The daily read ends with extended scripture reading and a personal reflection. This devotional also includes a one year bible reading plan.

This is a wonderful addition to a woman's devotional reading. 

I received a free copy of this book for the purpose of an honest review from WaterBrook Press.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Five Minute Friday: Cherished

Five Minute Friday

As soon as I saw the word Cherished, I started singing some Madonna in my head.

I was thinking, "Isn't that what we all want? We want someone to want us badly. We want to be cherished."

We want to be cherished and want to make sure that our loved ones know we cherish them.

As a woman, I want to know that my husband's deepest desire is for me. To be with me. To do everything in his power to take care of me.  I don't want to have to guess at it.

Our loved ones shouldn't have to guess at it.

Every moment is a gift. We should cherish it. We should cherish those we get to spend it with.  We should make it known that that moment is filled with love.

We are never promised tomorrow. God forbid that we wake up one day and realize that we did not cherish what He gave us. That we didn't let our loved ones know what they mean to us.

Whether you are a world away from those you love or they are next to you on the couch, cherish that moment. Let that person know what they mean to you.  Let them know that they are your deepest desire.

Cherish the thought........

Today I am joining a bunch of ladies who cherish writing.  If you would like to join in Five Minute Friday, check out Lisa Jo's blog for all the details.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Wife to Wife Wednesday

For their first Wife to Wife Wednesdays weekly link up, Wives of Faith wants to know what I plan on doing differently this year.

There are so many things I could say:
watch what I eat
exercise more
donate more
volunteer more
and the list could go on
and on

But I stop to think about me, something I never do.  My life revolves around others.  Being a public school teacher most of my day revolves around my students. Being a mom of three boys, the rest of my day revolves around them.  My life revolves around taking care of my children, my husband, our home, our church, my job, our pets.

I don't take care of myself.

This year, I want to.

To be the wife and mother God wants me to be, I have to take care of me.

To be the teacher, daughter, friend, and coworker God wants me to be, I have to take care of me.

These last two months I have learned to manage my time better. I have learned to take charge of my bad habits.  I have learned to focus on God and put Him first in my life.

Because I have focused on Him, I am finding that I am a better me. I like myself better.  I feel like I have become a better wife and mother.  I have learned to give up control and depend on others.  I have learned I need to take time for me.

So this year, I want to be more intentional in doing that. I don't want to feel guilty if I decide to go shopping for myself. I don't want to feel guilty for taking off one weekend with my husband.  I don't want to feel guilty for relaxing and saying no to activities that really aren't a priority in my life.

I want to take care of me. I want to make time for myself.  Hod do I plan on doing that? By keeping God first in my life.

What about you?  What would you like to do differently this year?  You can join us at Wives of Faith to find out what some other fine ladies are wanting to do differently.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

If you were to show up at my house

You might find crumbs on the floor and being trampled on by kids as their mama tries to sweep them up.

You might see a cat waiting patiently for the new bag of cat food to be opened.

You might smell Dunkin Donuts French Vanilla coffee. 

You might hear one of these statements....
Mama, that movie's not going to find itself!
I'm not playing with you anymore....unless you are playing that hockey game!
He said it would be just a minute, but I don't know how long one of his minutes are because they are usually pretty long.

You might see a big dog eating a coloring book.

You might hear a toddler screaming bloody murder after being scared by a cricket.

You might see me crying over the latest NCIS episode.

You might find me texting my dad while we were both watching NCIS to discuss the episode.

You might hear a mama repeatedly saying, "Stop that. Leave that alone." repeatedly. Did I already say that??

You might find me watching last week's episode of Nashville on On Demand for the third time because I still haven't seen the whole thing.

You might smell mac and cheese.

You might hear boys laughing.

You might see lower numbers on my scale.

You might hear, "Oh, poop" from Despicable Me.

You might see a toddler trying to stick a gummy vitamin up his nose. 

You might find us praying for a snow day.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

I Love Sunday School

Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.  Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.  Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates. Deuteronomy 11:18-20

When Jeff and I first joined our church, our pastor's wife began a new Sunday school class. It was specifically for those like us: young couples/parents/singles with children.  We were all in our early to mid twenties. There were a few already in their 30's, but for the most part, we were all in the same boat.

Being involved in that Sunday school class was is such a blessing to us.  We were able to build some amazing friendships.  We were able to gain confidence in our knowledge of God's Word. We were able to begin our journey of getting deeply involved in our church and reaching others for Christ.

VBS leaders and teachers
Sunday School assistant director
Sunday school teachers
Children's ministries
Nursery cooridinators and volunteers
Choir members
Bible studies
Youth minister
Community outreach
Associate pastor
Committee members

Those are just some of the many activities that our group is involved in.  I don't think we would be as involved as we are if Glenda had not started that class.  She took us in as her children. She taught us. Loved us. She laughed with us and cried with us.  We cried with her too.  For so many of us, we were new Christians. We could have easily came for the morning service each week and eventually quit like so many do.  But God provided for us through this class.

Glenda gave Jeff and I the opportunity to be her substitutes.  Eventually, the class became our responsibility. We have met in the library, a downstairs class, the fellowship hall, and an upstairs class. We have had full classes, and we have had classes where Jeff and I were the only ones to show.  Regardless, we have had this connection with an amazing group of people. I am grateful for them. I love them all.

This morning it was so nice to be gathered around the table with our regulars and some "old" regulars.  I love how I can plan a lesson and feel that I don't get it, only to actually be taught by my classmates during Sunday school.  I love how when we read God's Word and share our experiences that God reaches out to us on a personal level.  I love how God can give me the words that someone in the group needs to hear.  We can hear and read the same words, but God tells us something different through them.  It may be the nudge we need. It may be the answer to the question we had. It may be the "ah ha" moment we were looking for to pull things together.

I guess you can say....

I love Sunday school.

If you are not involved in a Sunday school class, I really encourage you to find one that you can grow in.  If your church does not offer one for those in your peer group, pray about starting your own.  Studying God's Word is never a mistake.  You will grow so much. Don't worry if you don't know the answers, there are teacher's guides to guide you, curricula to use.  Don't worry if you don't know how to pronounce every name and place.  I'll give you a hint, the others in your group won't know the difference.  And there is a little thing on that pronounces the word for you.  There is the Bible on CD. How do I know these tricks? Experience!

Will you be there next Sunday?

We should not stop gathering together with other believers, as some of you are doing. Instead, we must continue to encourage each other even more as we see the day of the Lord coming. Hebrews 10:25

What has been your experience with Sunday school? I'd love to hear about it.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Five Minute Friday: Dive

Five Minute Friday

Do you have five minutes to spare? Join in with Lisa Jo and some other amazing women as they participate in Lisa Jo's 5 Minute Friday fun. You can visit her web page to find out all the rules, but basically set your timer for 5 minutes and write. Don't over think. Don't edit.  Just write.  Are you ready to DIVE into it?

Several years ago before we were married, my husband and I were on a trip to the beach with his family. We had gone deep sea fishing and had the opportunity (not real sure that is the best word) to swim with dolphins. Diving into that water was a mistake. We weren't thinking.We weren't wearing life jackets. We nearly drown.

Are you like me? Do you dive into things?  Do you really think about it beforehand?

Jumping into that water that day was a mistake, but there are other things I've dove into that haven't been.

I think of the things that have brought me closer to Christ.  Those things revolve around His Word.  Whether it has been joining a Bible study, leading a Bible study, or just simply reading His Word on my own, those are the moments that change my life. Those are the Words that mold me and shape me into the type of woman God has planned for me.

Diving into His Word isn't easy. Sometimes it is intimidating.  But it is worth it.  It is always fresh. It is always meaningful.  It is always life saving.  I have committed to reading His Word this year along with my friends at Wives of Faith.  His Words are the life jacket we need.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

This Year: Dream Bigger, Start Smaller by Steven Furtick

I’ve met a lot of people who knew what it was to burn plows and set out to live for God but didn’t know what to do next. They prayed, they made a commitment—and they got stuck. As a pastor, I’ve seen it over and over again. As a man trying to live for God, I’ve experienced it over and over again.

I’m guessing you’ve made plenty of resolutions about stuff you needed to start doing or stop doing. Maybe you were going to start praying or reading your Bible more.

Or maybe you were going to stop smoking or boycott carbohydrates or stop looking at pornography or stop saying mean things about family members behind their backs. Maybe you decided to break away from a relationship you knew was unhealthy for you.

The way I see it, there are two major reasons why well-intentioned people like us get stuck after we burn our plows.

One, we don’t think big enough. Two, we don’t start small enough.

I’m not trying to talk like Yoda here. Thinking big enough and starting small enough are two sides of the same coin. So I not only want to motivate you to dream bigger dreams for your life. I also want to challenge you to take realistic steps of obedience that can actually make God’s vision come to pass.

After all, our God “is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine” (Ephesians 3:20). It is true that we often settle for dreams and visions that are far less than those God has for us. And He wants us to experience much more. If I didn’t believe that, the title of this book would be Samer.

So of course God wants you to believe big—it’s in His very nature. I’ve devoted my whole ministry to inspiring people with this truth. Preacher Dwight L. Moody made a statement that I love: “If God is your partner, make your plans big.” That way of thinking makes my heart race.

But we’re not going to see God’s bigger vision fulfilled in our lives just because we spend more time thinking transcendent thoughts. We don’t attain greater things simply by lying on the couch and concentrating on the possibilities of a better life. Alas, sitting for thousands of hours with my headphones on listening to Guns N’ Roses and imagining I was Axl Rose didn’t translate into my being the lead singer of the world’s most dangerous rock’n’roll band.

You do have to be willing to think big. But the active ingredient of God’s greater work through us is our willingness to start small.

I want to show you an incredible image in one of the first main-stage miracles Elisha performs after Elijah departs and leaves the ministry in his successor’s hands. It demonstrates the principle that small steps and hard work precipitate a move of God. That human action prepares the way for supernatural favor.
It comes from 2 Kings 3, and it goes like this:

King Joram is ruling over Israel during the years when the kingdom is divided. When the king of Moab rebels against him, the frightened king enlists King Jehoshaphat of Judah and the king of Edom to help him. Their combined military force should be fearsome against the Moabites—but they almost immediately run out of water for their armies and animals. Now they are preparing to face a terrifying foe while facing an even more terrifying fate: dying of thirst.

Par for the course in Israel’s history, the crisis drives King Joram to look for divine help. He isn’t desperate for God, but he is desperate for a solution. King Jehoshaphat asks if there is a prophet who could consult God for them. A servant reminds him of Elisha, the artist formerly known as Mr. Plow. So the three kings and their entourages go looking for Elisha.

Elisha confirms to the kings that water will flow from Edom by the time the sun comes up the next morning. Their armies and their animals will have plenty to drink. The drought is almost over. God is going to deliver Moab to His people just as they prayed for. Hallelujah, somebody?

But he tells the kings to take a small, ludicrous step first.

This is what the Lord says: Make this valley full of ditches. (verse 16)

Why would anybody in their right mind dig ditches to hold rain that isn’t even in the forecast?

Because that’s the way faith works. When you know God has promised you greater things, you don’t wait for a sign to appear before you respond. The kings wanted a miracle. They would get their miracle. But first they got a work order: This is no time for the power of positive thinking. Tie a bandanna around your head and pick up a shovel.

It would have been great if all the army had to do was sit around thinking hydration-related thoughts or had a few guided exercises to help them visualize the water. But that’s not how God operates.

It’s as if God says, “If you really believe I’m going to do what I told you I would do, get busy. Show Me your faith, and then I’ll show you My faithfulness. Do your part. If you will do what I asked you to do, I will be faithful to My word.

“If you’ll dig the ditches, I’ll send the rain.”

The entire nation must have pitched in and dug all night, because they got it done. The next morning the water arrived. As promised. As always. The newly installed ditches were full of water, the armies and animals were refreshed, and the joint army easily overtook the Moabites.

I think Elisha used the process of ditch digging to teach Israel this important paradox of great faith:

Only God can send the rain. But He expects you to dig the ditches.

It really comes down to this: What small steps and practical preparations is God asking you to make for the greater life He wants you to live? What ditches is He asking you to dig?

You can’t expect God to entrust you with a big dream if He can’t trust you to make a small start.

You can’t have the apostle Paul’s walk with God overnight. Big dream.

But you can pray ten minutes a day beginning tomorrow. Small start.

You can’t entirely mend a broken relationship overnight. Big dream.

But you can have a conversation and open the door, write the letter, make the call, say, “I’m sorry.” Small start.

If your kid is far from God, you can’t bring him back overnight. Big dream.

But you could start praying for him every day. Small start.

Notice what Elisha doesn’t say; he doesn’t tell the kings to dig one ditch. No singular ditch digging on this prophet’s watch.

Instead, make this valley full of ditches. Plural.

Believe that God is going to send a lot of rain.

If we really believe God is an abundant God, ready and willing to bless our lives in greater ways than we could ever imagine, we ought to be digging all kinds of ditches. In our relationships. In our careers. In our ministries. In every area of our lives, there ought to be heavy-duty equipment on site. Moving dirt. Making preparation.

And we ought to dig ditches using every means available. We can dig ditches with our words. With our prayers. With our expectations. Even with our thoughts.

How many ditches are you willing to dig? How deep will you dig them? You’re not digging alone. And it’s not in vain. God has a downpour scheduled in your near future. The deeper you dig, the greater the rainfall has the potential to be.

Adapted from Greater by Steven Furtick with permission of Multnomah Books, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.

Monday, January 07, 2013

Let us be radiant

I am feeling hip

During December, I took part in the Wives of Faith Christmas Blog Carnival.  It was so much fun.  I was able to reflect and meet new people. And I won some prizes.  One of those prizes was from Angela at Helix Crochet.  She custom made a scarf and cap for me, and I absolutely LOVE them. 
Thank you, Angela! You did a fantastic job. 

You can check out some of Angela's creations on Face Book

Sunday, January 06, 2013

Resolve to Love by Kerry and Chris Shook

Right now, there are three relationships in your life that trouble you. Perhaps a good friend said something to you yesterday. It felt critical, but you’re not sure what she meant. The two of you used to be so close, but lately you’ve been drifting apart. Something’s not right. Oh, and your mother called. There’s that. You know you should return her call, but you haven’t. Why? You know there are things you should have said before, you avoided them, and now you feel it’s too late. It’s always so hard with her. Always messy. And then…your son has been missing. Not missing physically, but he’s been distant, quiet, silent. Missing emotionally. What’s that about? What’s going on in his life? You want to reach out, but he pushes you away. It worries you.

Maybe the relationships in your life aren’t exactly like these, but I’m guessing these remind you of someone close to you, a problem relationship in your life right now. Maybe it’s not your mother but your father, perhaps not your son but a daughter-in-law. It could be your best friend. Whoever it is, he or she is someone who matters to you—or else the relationship wouldn’t trouble you, gnaw at you on the inside, make you question and grumble, or even bring you to tears.

So take a moment and think, who are these three key people in your life? Which meaningful relationships are troubling you? Relationships you wish were closer. Relationships you’d like to be deeper and richer. Relationships that trouble you, bother you, even make you a little crazy right now.

Seriously, think about it. Who are they? And now take a moment to name these three key relationships out loud.

Trust me, this is important for you. In fact, this may be the most significant thing you do in your life right now. Why?

Because life is way too short. At the end of the day—at the end of The Day—in this all-too-short life we share, all that really matters is relationships. Our relationships with the God who created us and with the people we love. Compared to these relationships, the job or career goals we set now aren’t really so important, the ladders we try to climb don’t matter so much, and the objects we long to own and possess seem utterly trivial.

What really counts in the end is that special knowing look you share with your spouse, the arms of your child reaching up to you, or the quiet comfort of a friend who stands by your side in a difficult time.

The award-winning animated movie Up contains some profound truths about relationships. In a breathtaking sequence early in the film, we see the entire arc of the life of Carl, a balloon salesman, as he meets Ellie, falls in love, and gets married. They share a dream to travel to South America and save every penny for their big trip. But there’s something familiar about the way their savings are constantly being used for the urgencies and emergencies of daily life. Before Carl and Ellie know it, they’re in their seventies, and although they have a beautiful marriage, they never realized their dream adventure.

Ellie dies, and Carl is overwhelmed with regret about the trip they never took. In a desperate attempt to escape loneliness and recapture memories of Ellie, Carl attaches a bunch of balloons to his house and sets out for South America!

You begin to realize as the movie progresses that this dream trip they were saving for, this object of their future plan together, wasn’t really that important after all. The real adventure was the life they shared along the way.

The same is true for us: the adventure of a lifetime is right in front of us. It’s just cleverly disguised as a familiar face.

Think about the possible loss of the relationship with one of those three people you named. You can’t do anything about death and the physical departure of one of them from this earth. That’s in God’s hands.
But you can do something about your relationship with them in life.

Much of what you’ve been told about relationships is upside down and wrong.


Researchers tell us that a baby sees everything upside down for the first few days of life until the brain can adjust the visual picture to right side up. Most relationships today are stuck in this same infant stage; we tend to see relationships upside down, and our culture only reinforces this view. The concept of love at first sight permeates our music, movies, television, and books. What we learn as children and continue to believe as adults is that a fairy-tale relationship somehow just happens. Now, I’m not bashing romance, but meaningful relationships depend on seeing other people as they are and looking at them right side up. Real love—whether romantic love, a close friendship, or a family relationship—happens long after first sight. It shows up as people get to know each other more deeply and often after they work through tough things together. Real love in relationships isn’t a magic act; it’s a journey.


When people say, “It was love at first sight,” what they really mean is “I was attracted to that person the first time I saw them.” There is nothing wrong with being infatuated with someone at the start of a relationship. The real question, however, is, do you have a love that is growing stronger and deeper every day?
I don’t believe in love at first sight; I believe in love at last sight. Each of my relationships has the potential to be better the next time we’re together than it was the previous time so that the last time we see each other on this earth we’re closer than ever before.

I’d like you to join me in the Lasting Love Relationship Challenge. The book One Month to Love is the challenge, and you can do it on your own. Just read a chapter each day. There are thirty chapters, they’re short, and you can probably read one a day pretty easily. At the end of each chapter you’ll find the Lasting Love Relationship Challenge, which is designed to help you take the insights from that day and apply them to your key relationships. Also you can log on to each day to access our personal coaching and get extra encouragement and advice or share your story. Our goal is to come alongside you to help you create the very best relationships possible. Let’s resolve to love this year!

Adapted from One Month to Love by Kerry and Chris Shook with permission of Multnomah Books, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.

Friday, January 04, 2013

Haiti Mission Trip

Please remember to pray for our Haiti mission team. 
They will be leaving tomorrow.

Wordless Wednesday Explained

Just a word of warning, if you are the parent of a sweet little prince or princess who never does anything wrong or gross, you may want to quit reading immediately.  This post is not for the faint at heart......

You may remember the post where I told you "if my boys haven't done it, then it ain't worth doing." Well, at that point, I thought I'd seen it all. After all, I am an elementary school teacher with 13 years experience AND a mom of 3 boys.  Imagine my surprise when I saw more than I ever expected from my almost 3 year old.

The other day the boys were playing with play-doh. Carson got the dentist play-doh set a while back, and the boys were playing with that.  Did you know it had silver play-doh with it?   Well, they played with that for awhile and then decided to watch TV and play on the iPad. Carter got to fussing and came to me saying, "My nose hurt."  I got to looking and saw something in there. I had him blow. Nothing but air, but it still looked silvery.  I asked him if he put something in his nose, and he said yes.  I assumed it was silver play-doh.  It kind of freaked me out because it wasn't budging when he blew his nose. It didn't shoot out like those marshmallows. I was convinced I needed to take him to the doctor.  But it was New Year's Day.  The ER would have to do.

To make a long story short, I didn't take him.  Instead, I squirted saline drops up his nose and used the aspirator.  Nothing.  I could no longer see anything so I assumed it (whatever it was) was gone.

Two hours later, I found this on the floor
Notice the gook? 

My conversation with Carter went like this....

Me: Carter, what is this?

He shrugs his shoulders.

Me: Carter, was this in your nose?

Carter (grinning): Yes.

Me:  Where did you get that?

Carter: In my nose.

Me: Carter, where did it come from?

Carter: In my nose. 

So, obviously, it some how, miraculously, THANK YOU, LORD! came out of his nose. 

And no, I have no idea what it is or where it came from. It screws into something. 

I dare say, "I have seen it all!"

Five Minute Friday - Opportunity

Five Minute FridayI was so excited to see the first 5 Minute Friday of 2013.  This lets my mind just run with thoughts and type them out as they come. Want to join in?  Head on over to Lisa Jo's to find out how.  The skinny of it....Set your timer for 5 minutes and write. No editing. No over thinking.  Can you do it?  Let's go!

When I was in middle school, my music teacher encouraged me to try out for the high school band color guard. I chickened out and came up with all kinds of excuses on why I could do it.

When I started college, I was going to room with one of my best friends in the dorms.  For whatever reason, I didn't.

Those were opportunities for me to come out of my comfort zone.  I didn't.

God has provided lots more opportunities for me.

He has provided me with the opportunity to serve Him.  I am not boasting at all.  I serve Him in so many ways.  I teach Sunday school (adults and children). I teach VBS.  I host Bible studies.  I am hosting a Bible club on Fridays at school.  Those are obvious ways.

I am sure there are other ways that I may not think about.  I may have encouraged someone. I may have shown love and compassion. I may have been helpful. I may have had the right words at the right time.  Those are the not so obvious.

But the opportunity to serve Him should be sought by us all. We should get to know Him.  We should look for Him in the little moments of life, not just the big.  He will provide us with so many opportunities to serve, to bless and to be blessed.  Don't let those opportunities pass you by.

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Wordless Wednesday

Starting the New Year with a Fresh Perspective by Mike Glenn

In the story of the prodigal son, Luke uses a curious phrase when the younger son realizes what he has lost and determines to go home. The King James Version translates the phrase, “He came to himself.” That phrase has always fascinated me. How do you come to yourself? Can you set yourself down somewhere and then forget where you left yourself? Actually, it is something like that. We can become so buried under mistakes and failure, stuffed under grief and regret, that we get to the place where we no longer recognize ourselves. But God’s “yes” changes all that. When the Spirit changes our true identity in Christ, we leave behind everything that is false and start walking toward the truth of Christ and who he created us to be.

Changing your mind
Walking away from the lies and destruction of sin is very close to the practical meaning of biblical repentance. It goes far beyond feeling bad about your sin—all the way to literally changing the direction of your life. And to change your life, you have to change the way you think. A change in your life’s direction means you stop fighting the current of God’s grace that flows in your spirit. Now you start flowing with the current of grace. As you reorient your life in the direction of God’s leading, you find your efforts are amplified through the Spirit’s presence in the same way an ocean current enhances the work of a ship’s sails.

When we talk about Christian conversion, we emphasize feelings of conviction and a decision to confess our sins and seek forgiveness. But we don’t stress the essential role played by our thinking. The problem that results is we don’t change the way we think, so we end up not changing our behavior. For a total transformation of a person’s life, the mind as well as the heart must change. We live the way we do because we think the way we do. The mess is in our heads before it is in our lives, but it moves from the mind to daily life. 

This changes when we ask Christ to renew our minds, to alter the way we think. We need to allow our minds to be completely transformed. “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.” When your mind is transformed, your life will follow.

I am not naive. I understand the lure of sin and the effectiveness of its deceptions. And I am familiar with the consequences of sin. I have sat with large numbers of people and listened as they recognized and talked through the harmful consequences of their actions. When the cost of their failures sinks in, it is devastating. A man’s infidelity cost him his wife and children. For a few minutes of pleasure, he traded away a future with his family. It takes only one incident to disrupt a friendship, a career, a family, a life. Lies are told, discovered, and confessed in tears, but how can a person regain trust? Sin looks good in the moment but only because it’s hiding the future consequences.

I’m convinced we don’t understand the total impact of salvation. We make it about feelings or a one-time decision to confess our sins and trust in Christ’s death and resurrection. But to live a new life, to be completely transformed, our salvation has to be about the total person, including our minds.

Changing your frame of reference
If in obedience to Christ we are going to make different choices, we have to adopt Christ’s way of looking at things. God will create a new mind in you and me, but we have to join willingly in the process. And part of thinking differently is letting go of old assumptions and preferences and accepting the preferences of God.

In Acts 10 we read the story of the early church hearing from God a “yes” that led to its dropping of ethnic barriers. A Roman centurion named Cornelius was praying, and in his prayers he was told to find a man named Peter. Peter, in the meantime, also was praying. In his prayers Peter saw a vision of a sheet holding all kinds of animals—and they weren’t kosher. Although Peter was told to kill and eat, he refused. Again the vision came, and again Peter refused to eat. Each time, Jesus confronted Peter with the following rebuke: “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.” Only when Cornelius’s messengers appeared at his gate did Peter begin to understand the message of the vision. Nothing created by God, people most of all, can ever be called unclean.

God created Gentiles just as he did Jews, and no one—Gentiles included—was inferior to anyone else. God loves those outside the nation of Israel on a par with the descendants of Abraham. Having grown up under the influence of Jewish traditions and biases, Peter must have had difficulty processing this. But to his credit, he was obedient to Christ and changed the way he thought about these matters. And not just the way he thought, but his life and his preaching as well. 

Free of condemnation
There are two reasons we should not condemn others or ourselves. First, we all are created in the image of God. And second, Christ died for sinners. This is the price God was willing to pay for our redemption. We are called to live in the glory of knowing what we are worth. And when we don’t, we damage ourselves, one another, and the world we live in. Sin devalues us as people and causes us to see others and all creation as lacking worth. Sin negates the good work Christ does in us and in the world. Where Christ speaks “yes,” sin says “no.” 

We have things in our lives that cause shame or grief, and they act as a giant but to the good news of Christ. He promises us new life, which sounds great, but...“my family business went bankrupt after I misspent some accounts. I was going to pay it back, but then everything collapsed.” And suddenly we forget the promise of Christ. He promises forgiveness and second chances, but it’s hard to believe the second chance could still apply after the things we’ve done. 

Why do we think that we alone committed a sin so horrible it exceeds Jesus’s ability to forgive? This kind of thinking is the ultimate heresy. What we are saying is the death of Jesus was payment enough for everyone else’s sins, but our sin is so monstrous that his death isn’t enough to cover it. 

Let Christ change the way you think so you can let go of that lie. Jesus paid it all. No part of the debt has been left for you or me to pay by working hard to clean up our own lives. On our own we can’t get clean enough to impress God. Whatever we might try, we will always be unworthy of his love. The gift of God’s “yes” in Christ is unearned, given to us freely. Our relationship with God is not a contract; it is a covenant, a bond of mutual love and commitment. In this covenant the parties are not equal, but the arrangement is mutual. Christ died for us and offers us his salvation, and we accept what he did for us as a free gift—on his terms. 

Christ opens the door; we need only to walk through it. We then live our lives in loving response to God’s grace expressed in Jesus. This is the mutual love and commitment of the covenant. Yet, for some reason, we have a hard time believing the gift of salvation is free. Who would give away something like that? So we think we have to earn it. 

Adapted from The Gospel of Yes by Mike Glenn with permission of WaterBrook Press, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Book Review: Heaven Changes Everything

I have read Heaven is for Real and Heaven is for Real for Kids.  Now I have completed the third book by Todd and Sonja Burpo called Heaven Changes Everything: Living Everyday with Eternity in Mind.

In their third book, the Burpo's apply what they have learned from their son Colton's experience in heaven.  Each chapter takes a look at part of Colton's original story and then shows how the family has changed because of it. Hence the name of the book!  The chapters begin with a quote from Heaven is for Real and then a narration of the effect of Colton's visit to heaven.  At the end of each chapter, the reader is presented with a question or statement to consider and then scripture that goes along with the chapter's purpose. 

This book was a quick and easy read. I enjoyed it, but not as much as the original story.  I did appreciate the honesty of the authors and the revelation of how their son's trip to heaven changed them and how it can change us too.

I received a free copy of this book from Thomas Nelson for the purpose of an honest review.

In a word

Last year (sounds so weird saying that), I vowed to LIVE.  I made no new year resolutions. I never keep them, so what's the point? After reading new year posts by several bloggers, I found they chose a theme or word to live by for the year.  At that point, I chose the word LIVE.  And live I did.

God had some amazing plans for my family that I did not know about.  We ended the year in a place I never expected (well, maybe I did a little).  But that is a whole series of posts to come at a later time.

I still want to live the life that God has planned for me.  He is amazing and awesome. His ways are so much better than my own.  So, as I am living for Him, what better way to live than to

I want to SHINE the light of Jesus in all I do, everywhere I go.  I want people to see me and see HIM.  One thing Jeff and I have talked so much about lately is that none of this is for us.  It is for God.  Everything we do should be His glory, not our own.

My marriage should glorify God.

My "parenting" should glorify God.

My attitude should glorify God.

Everything I am a part of, everything I am about should glorify God.

This world is a dark place. It is becoming darker by the moment.  I want to be a SHINING light of hope. I want to lead others to Jesus.  I want them to know Him like I do.  I want to make the world a brighter place by glorifying God.

Would you join me?  Would you help SHINE the light of Jesus in this dark world? Would you help me give hope to the lost and lonely?

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. 
 Matthew 5:16

What is your word or theme for the new year? I'd love you hear it. 

Haiti Mission Trip

We have an amazing group of men and women from church who will be going to Haiti on Saturday for a mission trip with Orphan's Heart.  Please be in prayer for our team and that lives will be changed in the name of Jesus!
Don, Graham, Brad, Brandy, Cindy, Teresa, and Jennie

It has been amazing to hear the stories of how God is already working.  When Brandy did my hair last week, she told me about how God works in the hearts of people here before they even leave. Brad also mentioned some wonderful ways in which God has provided for them and the children they are going to help.  God is so good.

I am so proud to call this team my brothers and sisters in Christ.  I am proud of them for answering the call to GO beyond the church pews to be the light of Jesus.