Monday, December 31, 2012

Family Resolutions

Today is the last day of 2012. Looking back, we have had a very fun and full, and at times trying, year. The older my kids get, the more the new year is a time for me to give thanks for all the blessings we have received the past year, and a year to evaluate and focus on where we want our family to go in the next year. As you are planning what your New Year resolutions will be, I thought I would share with you how our family goes about our resolutions.



Each year we begin by reviewing last year's resolutions and how we were able to accomplish or not accomplish them. This is a great way to help us to live intentionally in our lives. Then we make our new resolutions and put them in a special place so that we can focus on them in the year to come, and read them next December 31! Since our kids were little when we began this, we made questions to make resolution-making simple and a little more fun. Here are our resolution questions (feel free to use them if you wish!):

1) What bad habit do you resolve to quit this year? This year, same as last, I resolve to stop biting my nails. **sigh**

2) What do you resolve to do to better yourself this year? I would like to exercise regularly (past January!) and to try to be more stress-free.

3) What new thing would you like to try this year?  I love this question, because it prompts dreaming, reaching for something beyond the usual. However, as a logical-minded person, I struggle thinking of things. Last year, I resolved to go deer hunting with my husband and in November I took down my first deer. This year, I decided to try not to be so logical-minded and go with the first thing I could think of, and ended up resolving to ride a motorcycle alone.

4) Our last question takes our goals and dreams to the heart-level. What fruit of the Spirit would you like to harvest more of this year? Considering the hardships that I went through this year, especially this summer, I want to grow more joy in my life. Others in my family chose love, peace and patience.

The new year is a wonderful time of year to focus on where you want your life to go. How do you want to strive to be a better person and what will you do to actually reach your goals and dreams?

As I close this year, I want to glorify my Father in heaven for all the blessings that He has given to me, all of the things He has seen me through, and all the ways I have seen Him working around me.
Happy New Year and blessings for 2013!!!

Monday, December 24, 2012

12 Days of Christmas Traditions I Love: Day 12 Christmas Morning Surprises

The issue of Santa bringing gifts on Christmas Eve is one of much debate within Christian circles. Questions arise such as: how do we tell them Santa is real and God is real and then later Santa is not real and expect them to believe in God? How can I flat out lie to my children? Doesn't Santa take our focus off of the true meaning of Christmas?

I had Santa when I was little. I never found it a conflicting issue with God, and neither did my sister, to my knowledge. However, I was not sure on which side I stood when the time came for my daughter's first Christmas. My husband and I decided that we would let the kids lead. We would not lie to them, but we would only tell them what they asked. We decided we would not actually tell them Santa came on Christmas Eve, but we wouldn't say that he didn't either. We would not call the gifts on Christmas morning "Gifts from Santa," rather "Christmas morning surprises." We were really unsure of how it would go.



My daughter was only two when our first issue came up. She was a deep thinker from the start and as we sat there making Christmas cookies that year, she asked me, "Is Santa like Jesus, is that why I can't see him?" I knew then that was where I had to make a decision. It was an easy one to make. My daughter's salvation and faith in Christ could not be confused with a make-believe story of Santa. I explained to her that Jesus was real and that Santa was a made-up story that people like to pretend at Christmas. I told her it was like when she played dress up and pretended to be a princess, etc. She understood and continued to "pretend" Santa was coming that year and the years to follow. Her brother didn't ask outright and we didn't tell him outright, but as he asks his simple questions about Santa, we make sure to give him honest answers. He believes in Santa but is starting to realize that Daddy is that jolly old elf!

Santa is a beautiful story of giving and joy, and in a way reflects the meaning of Christmas - giving and joy. We should embrace the story in just that way to add it to our Christmas celebration, not having to decided between Santa and Jesus.  Christmas is just not the same to me without little ones going to bed early so they can wake mom and dad up at the break of dawn and run out to see what is awaiting them under the tree. It is innocence, joy and beautiful.

In whatever way you choose to approach tomorrow morning, I hope your morning is filled with laughter, love and the joy that Christ brought into the world that Christmas day long ago!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

12 Days of Holiday Traditions I Love: Day 11 Candlelight Service

As Christmas approaches the anticipation grows. That is what I love about the candlelight service. It focuses our minds and hearts on what exactly we are anticipating. As the 10 virgins awaited the bridegroom in the parable, we reflect on the first coming of Christ and anxiously await his second coming. The gorgeous candles symbolize this and Christ, the light of the world.

That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world. John 1:9

Jesus was born over two thousand years ago into a dark and sinful world. He brough light and hope. This is what we celebrate at Christmas and there is no better way to focus on this than to attend a candle light service on Christmas Eve.

image from crossroadschurchroselake.blogspot.com

Saturday, December 22, 2012

12 Days of Christmas Traditions I Love: Day 10 Jesus' Birthday Cake

Amidst all of the holiday business, my husband and I find it critical to make sure that the real reason for Christmas, Jesus' birth, is not forgotten. One of the ways that I love to do this is to make a birthday cake for Jesus with my kids. On Christmas day we light candles, sing happy birthday, and let the kids blow out the candles. This helps the kids remember why we are having Christmas.



This is  tradition that we have done with our little ones since our daughter was only a year old. I heard of someone who did it and was thrilled with the idea. It has been a part of our Christmas tradition ever since!

12 Days of Christmas Traditions I Love: Day 9 Stockings

I have to say that stockings are one of my favorite traditions of our Christmas celebration. I don't know what it is, but there is just something about the simplicity of the surprises inside. To me, it is just as fun to get the little hand lotions, socks, candies and other small items inside my stocking as it is to get the big things, and I have just as much fun or more shopping for stocking stuffers than the bigger gifts!

In my family growing up we got our Christmas morning surprise and opened all of our gifts on Christmas morning. We got to open stockings, however, on Christmas Even night before candlelight service. It made Christmas Eve night even more special and our stocking gifts did not get overshadowed by the larger gifts.


Stocking suffer ideas:

chapstick
cologne
hotwheels
socks
underwear
candy
miniature action figures
flashlight
hand sanitizer
gloves
body wash
perfume
chapstick/makeup
lotion
socks
underwear
gloves
hair accessories
jewelry
body wash
nail polish
cards or handheld games
key chain

Hope you and yours are having a wonderful Christmas holiday!!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

12 Days of Christmas Traditions I Love: Day 8 Holiday Baking

This morning I realized that I have had to really clean my kitchen every day this week! Why? From all the baking! It is time consuming, sometimes hard, but oh, so fun and delicious! What is better than holiday baked meals?? Nothing!

 
With all of the parties for church, the kids, meals for others, Christmas gifts and just our own holiday meals, I have baked so many things I can't even remember! Most of the things I make you can find on Pinterest. You can find the recipe to my favorite meal, homemade chicken pot pie, here. I only made SIX of these babies this week!

 
 
 
Holidays are the only time I seem to be able to splurge and make lots of fancy foods for my family. Go all out! It is so much fun. And as for those pounds...well, you need a New Year's resolution, right?

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

12 Days of Christmas Traditions I Love: Day 7 Christmas Lights

"The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light,
And upon those who sat in the region and shadow of death
Light has dawned.” --Matthew 4:16

One of the reasons I love Christmas is the atmosphere and decorations and all the lights! It is so beautiful! At Christmas we are celebrating that Jesus is the light of the world. Each year, my husband and I load up the kiddos and drive around looking at the lights around town.


This year, we decided to add a little extra fun to our regular drive. We told the kids that they were going to get a ride on the Polar Express! My husband went out and decorated the inside of the car with Christmas lights and put our favorite Christmas CD in the player. I printed off some Polar Express tickets off of Google and placed them underneath their dinner plates. We made each a travel mug of hot cocoa. We had them take their baths and get into pjs early and then come to dinner. After they had eaten their dinner, we told them to look under the plates. My husband and I pretended to be conductors and loaded them up on the Polar Express! Then we drove around to look at the lights. It was so much fun!

If you haven't already, take a family trip around town tonight!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

12 Days of Christmas Traditions I Love: Day 6 Caroling at the Care Center

I remember going to sing Christmas carols at the care center with my family when my son was only five months old. One of those moments passed that you hold on to and "ponder in your heart." I remember watching as my mom, holding my infant son on her hip, walked in to an elderly woman's room and reached out her hand to her and spoke with her and showed her my little boy. I remember this woman using all her strength to rise out of bed toward my mom to take her hand and see the baby. There was such joy on the woman's face. I realized several things at that moment. One, I have an incredibly compassionate mother who sets a great example for those around her. Two, I wanted to raise my children to love those around them in this way as second nature by raising them with the same example as I had before me this night.


Six years later, I am beginning to see the fruits of this labor. We once again visited the care center to sing carols with some of my children's friends. I was almost brought to tears as I saw my daughter unhesitatingly enter the rooms of the residents to shake their hands and give them a hand-made ornament. I was proud as I watched her little brother follow her example at four years old, as he shook hands and said "Merry Christmas" to each person.

Caroling at the Care Center is definitely on my list of favorite Christmas traditions. Besides the above, here are a few reasons why I think you should visit the care center:

1) It brings joy and excitement to the residents
2) It reminds us of the true meaning of Christmas - loving and giving
3) It teaches our children to get out of their box and think about others before themselves
4) It nourishes the residents fulfilling our command to care for the widows and orphans, which goes beyond just their physical, but their emotional and spiritual needs as well.

If you haven't had an opportunity to go this year, look for a church or group that is going, or make your own small group. Find a few of your favorite Christmas carols, buy a pack of ornaments or candy canes to hand out and just go. You will be so blessed!

Monday, December 17, 2012

12 Days of Christmas Christmas Traditions I Love: Day 5 Family Christmas Movies

What else do you do when it's cold outside and getting dark early and you are anxiously awaiting Christmas? Watch Christmas movies! We love to make a night of watching our favorite Christmas movies. We even like to have themed parties around these great movies as well! (see How To Have a Successful Grinch Party) 

Necessary items for your Christmas movie night: a special snack or dinner, hot chocolate, snuggly blankets, pillows, Christmas lights!

Here is our list of our top 5 favorite Christmas movies:
Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer
It's a Wonderful Life
Frosty the Snowman
How the Grinch Stole Christmas
Miracle on 34th Street

Snuggle up, and have a blast!




Note: For those of you who have been following my 12 Days of Christmas Traditions I Love, you may have noticed that I skipped day 4. This was on purpose in light of the events in CT. My 4th favorite is our annual Children's Christmas Program. For whatever reason, I could not bring myself to write this one so close to so many losing their precious children at Christmas. Continued thoughts and prayers for those families.

A Pause for Remembering

As I said on my facebook page, for those of you who follow there, I missed days 3 & 4 of our 12 days and am making up for them today. I had an extremely difficult time emotionally in light of the tragic event that took place in Connecticut on Friday. Even as I write these posts today, I struggle, because I can't help feeling sorrow for those mothers who will never again be able to share these times with their precious child again. I cannot even begin to imagine what that would be like, and I well up with tears at the mere thought.

I have never in my life had an event that hit me so hard as this one did. I was there watching the news through 9-11 and similar tragedies, but never have they made me literally unable to function or emotionally cope for days. Friday, I could do nothing but cry off and on. I believe this is because I am not only a mother now, but a youth/children's ministry leader. I have been a teacher. My love for the children in my life puts me in a place to empathize with these parents and teachers and I can't handle it. I pray with a deep yearning for God's peace and strength in these lives right now.

This morning, there are many mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, grandmothers, grandfathers, aunts and uncles and friends who are laying their loved ones to rest. This will be the second hardest day of their lives next to Friday. Let us not stop remembering them and let us pause throughout our day and remember to lift them up in prayer. Galatians 6:2 says to "bear one another's burdens." I personally do not know any of these people, and you may not either, but that does not mean that we cannot help bear their burden by carrying it to the throne of God in prayer. He loves them and hurts for them as well. Let us pause today and remember.

12 Days of Christmas Traditions I Love: Day 3 Christmas Stories

One of my absolute favorite things to do with my kiddos during the Christmas season is to read Christmas stories. Our family enjoys reading altogher, all year round. It is my favorite time of the evening. Christmas stories are those that you can read over and over again and they just never get dull! I remember a big book my mom had when we were growing up that had 4 different Christmas stories in it. I loved it!

Here is a list of our top 5 favorite Christmas stories (there are so many, I had to limit!):

Llama Llama Holiday Drama, by Anna Dewdney
Bear Stays Up for Christmas, by Karma Wilson
Froggy's Best Christmas, by Jonathan London
Follow the Star, by Rachel Brown
The Night Before Christmas (just about any version!)

We also love to spend a lot of time at the library choosing Christmas books. Chances are, just about any series of books your child loves to read will have a Christmas one. My kids love to search out their favorites - Madaline, Olivia, Max and Ruby, Clifford, Froggy, Winnie the Pooh, Splat the Cat, Pete the Cat, Fletcher, Disney Princesses, American Girls - and the list has changed and grown over the years - but they all have a Christmas edition! If you have older children, read aloud a classic Christmas novel like Little Women or A Christmas Carol or the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe!

Snuggle up this week in front of the lit Christmas tree and read, read, read! It is such a special time to share together!

Friday, December 14, 2012

12 Days of Christmas Traditions I Love: Day 2 The Advent Wreath

I know, I know! I have already posted on the advent wreath, but it just had to go on my top 12 list! So if you want to read about what we do with the advent wreath and why it is one of my favorites, check out my post from last week here.  Have a very blessed 11 days til Christmas!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

12 Days of Christmas Traditions I Love: Day 1 The Christmas Tree

I am so excited that Christmas is just 12 days away! I have decided to share with you my top 12 favorite Christmas traditions! Some of them we have done already, and some I am waiting anxiously to do sometime in the next twelve days!!

I would like to begin with the Christmas tree! Now we have had many adventures with Christmas trees since the kids were little. Our first three years of marriage, we had a tiny 2ft tree that our princess would decorate. Finally, we decided to get a real tree and our cat knocked the whole thing down! The next year, I thought I had found a great buy at the local dollar store - a 6' artificial tree for $25 - which ended up being only about 1' around and my best friend dubbed it the "anorexic Christmas tree." We went back to buying real trees.


We make a night of it! We put the date on the calendar and go out as a family to pick out, purchase, and carry home our precious tree. That evening we spend decorating it together as a family. Daddy makes some hot drinks to have while we do it, and I like to put on a little Christmas music (my favorite is Bing Crosby!). When it is complete, we sit by the Christmas tree light and cuddle and read our favorite Christmas stories!

One of our special traditions with the Christmas tree is our yearly ornaments. Each year we buy an ornament that has a special meaning to our family. Then, as we begin our tree decorating, we start at the first year's ornament - my husband and my first year of marriage, and then we work through the years and look at each ornament and remember the meaning and memories behind it. I think this year I will make a photo album with each ornament and the meaning to have saved for years to come!


Happy 12 Days Til Christmas!

Monday, December 3, 2012

The Advent Wreath

The advent wreath has been a symbol in the Christian church since possibly the early 16th century. It's purpose is to focus one's heart on Christmas for the 4 weeks leading up to Christmas day. Each candle symbolizes a Sunday before Christmas. The candles all have reflective meanings like Hope, Love, and Joy.

Growing up, my family did the advent wreath every year. It is one of my favorite memories. My mom had a box of mini devotion books and Christian poems and prayer books and each of us would choose something from them to read each night around the wreath. Dad would read a portion of the Bible and we would sing a Christmas hymn. I think the reason it so stood out to me is because this is the only time of the year in which my family would sit down to devotion time together.


While we do devotion time every morning (or almost) in our home, I still like to keep that special advent tradition. Because of my budget our first year, I purchased this booklet that cost only $.99 to lead us. I fell in love with it. It has a new year published each year and this year I got the eBook version for only $.65! It is called the Abingdon Press "Advent: A Calendar of Devotions." You can find it at just about any Christian bookstore, or at www.christianbook.com.

Each evening my husband reads the passage from the Bible. Then I read the devotion. My daughter will usually read the prayer. My son isn't able to read those things yet, so we try to let him help lead the song for the evening and blow out the candle!

I would encourage you to find some way to focus your family's heart on the true meaning of Christmas during this season. I will not rant about the over-commercialization of Christmas, but the truth is that this season is all about Christ's birth. God loved us so much that he sent his one and only Son...let's remember!

Friday, November 30, 2012

Tough Questions

You've heard them, the "tough" questions in the Christian's life. Why do bad things happen to good people? If God is there, why is he allowing this to happen? Why would He let innocents suffer? Why do the "sinful" people have more, do more, seem happier? Why did he let this person die? In the past couple of days, those around me have suffered two deaths and I have had some of my teens asking the tough questions.

As I read my reading for today (Job 19-21), I realized that the tough questions in life have plagued humanity since the fall of man. "Why do the wicked live on, growing old and increasing in power?" (21:7) "Yet they say to God, 'Leave us alone! We have no desire to know your ways.Who is the Almighty that we should serve him? What would we gain by praying to him?'" (21:14-15)

We have no idea, just faith. I consider those the "faith" questions. It is in those moments that we have to have the faith that God is in control and knows what He is doing. We have very limited knowledge, no foresight, no understanding, but God does. He knows all. I know that feels like a weak answer to give someone, but it shouldn't. That is the truth.

Mankind is not wise. God, in his love, has given every human free will. He does this so that we can choose to serve him, choose to love him, not be little robots on the earth. He wanted companionship, not toys. Therefore, we must endure the consequence of each and every individual's choices. Each choice affects not only the person, but the people around that person, sometimes causing pain and suffering. That person, as a result of their suffering, must make more choices, affecting more people. Imagine how that has taken course over thousands of years! Our world is now so full of consequences of actions from years and years of poor choices, that sometimes the things that happen don't even make sense. You can't "trace the source." But you do have to understand that God is allowing the earth to turn, the world to live out life without his micromanaging. He has given His Spirit to prompt and guide, but ultimately, it is up to us. And we don't make the greatest choices.

Don't try to make up a reason. When we are faced with the tough questions, we want to "defend God" and give a good justified reason. Don't. The truth is that we don't fully understand, so admit that! Job said to his friends, "So how can you console me with your nonsense? Nothing is left of your answers but falsehood!" (21:34) Don't give the seeker and sufferers more reason to turn away from God. Give them reminders of God's love, comfort, and strength. Admit you don't know the answers or you will just push them away.

Are you going through a hard time and asking some tough questions? God loves you. He loves you SO much. Lean into his arms today.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Remebrance of Sincere Faith

Do you ever wonder what you would be doing if you weren't a mom? Occasionally, I do. It is amazing to me that once a woman of faith takes on motherhood and the raising of her child, all else seems to slip away. We often joke about having "no life," because every last effort in a day is consumed by doing the most to raise those beautiful blessings. And sometimes, if you are like me, you wonder if all that you do is even worth it. Will they even care? Will it make a difference?

The biblical mother and daughter pair Eunice and Lois remind me that it is most definitely worth it. Paul immortalized these two women with one statement in a letter to their grandson/son Timothy:

"I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well." 2 Timothy 1:5

Sincere faith. We don't know much about Eunice or Lois, but we know a lot about Timothy. Just knowing that these two women were the ones that taught him about God and the Scripture from the time he was a small child (2 Timothy 3:15) is enough for us to know that they were good moms. They did what it took. They raised him with a fear and love of God - a sincere faith. And they did a great job. At least as far as Paul was concerned, all their efforts did make a difference in the character of Timothy and how God was able to use him in the early church.

It's ok to get worn out. That is when we must turn to the God who is our fulfillment, our breath of life. Just remember today that it all matters! Let go of all the things that don't. Feel free to make a mess if it gives a few laughs. Let the laundry pile up on a sunny day. Teach them to fear and love the Lord. Teach them to enjoy the beautiful life around them. Make those memories! Build those relationships so that you may pass on that sincere faith.


Comment: Do you have a Eunice or Lois in your life? Tell us about her!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

The Crazies

We all know the story of Noah. Some of us may have even had the picture represented on our nursery walls or bedding as infants. We tend to think of this story as a children's story. We have little rhymes to sing about it. My son even has toy figurines of Noah and all his animals. My questions is this: When did the story of Noah stop being a story of absolute tragedy and despair? As I reread the story of Noah the past couple of mornings, I realized that there are several parallels we can make to that story - and that is terrifying!

The Hearts of Man Broke the Heart of God

Then the Lord[b] saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. 6 And the Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. Genesis 6:5-6

How far are we from being able to say that every intent of the thought of man's heart today is only evil continually? When we read or watch the news, when we look what is happening in the homes of so many families, when we see the trouble in the schools, how can we say that we are not breaking God's heart? And we are the fortunate ones living in the US, how much worse is going on in so many other parts of the world today! I will not get into more, for I feel that you, my friend, can fill in with your own experiences the corrupt actions that take place in the society around us. Let me make one thing clear: It is breaking God's heart. Are we in on this? Are we breaking God's heart by going along with what is happening in the world?

It's Always the Crazy Ones

By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith. -Hebrews 11:7

Can you imagine how it felt to be Noah at that time? In a desert saturated with nothing but corrupt values, one man was "walking with God" and builing a giant boat. He was one of those "crazies." He would have been labeled as "extremist." I am sure that there would have been those around him who would have said, "I believe in God, but that is taking it too far." Have you ever heard those words said about you? I certainly hope so! Do you know why? Because it is always the crazy ones that God uses for incredible things. It is always the crazy ones that witness the miracles. It is always the crazy ones that get their reward in the end. The average person is always the one who wishes he had listened. Don't believe me? Read Hebrews 11. It is referred to sometimes as the "Hall of Faith." Every individual listed is someone who did great things through faith. Every individual listed was probably considered crazy. Enoch, Abraham, Sarah, Moses, Joshua, David. Think about their stories. Were they not crazy? Crazy about following God with everything they had! I love the following passage at the end of this chapter:

And what more shall I say? For the time would fail me to tell of Gideon and Barak and Samson and Jephthah, also of David and Samuel and the prophets: 33 who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. 35 Women received their dead raised to life again.
Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. 36 Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. 37 They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted,[f] were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented— 38 of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth.

God is Crazy About You

Another amazing thing about this whole story is that God gave mankind another chance. And then another. And then another. Then he loved us so much, that as he looked down and saw all of our wickedness and corruption, instead of finally giving up, he sent his son to this earth, to pay the penalty for all that we had done. Talk about crazy! How can we ever love or serve him enough to show our thanks for such an incredible act of love?!

Dear friend, you have to be crazy to believe that God would love us that much. You have to be crazy to stand against the flow of society and live your life the way God has desired you to live, despite the consequences. It may cost you your job, your family, your wealth, your reputation, and they may call you crazy. Don't blend in with the world. God is calling you to be crazy.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Poison Apple

This is a repost of a post I wrote a few years ago...
Do you remember that intense moment in Snow White and the Seven Dwarves when Snow White is about to be tricked by the Evil Queen (in disguise as an old woman) into eating that poisonous apple? You just wanted to scream at her, "Don't do it! It is a trick!" But alas, our beauty takes one bite and falls to her death (or a deep slumber).
            This part of the story echoes an all too familiar story of another deception and another piece of fruit. Let's go back to the Beginning, to the garden of Eden. Our beauty in this story is named Eve. As we read the first few chapters of Genesis we come to this same intense moment. Eve is about to be tricked by the Evil Prince of Darkness (in disguise as a serpent) into eating that forbidden fruit (could have been an apple, probably not). Again, we just want to scream at her, "Don't do it! It is a trick!" But alas, our beauty takes one bite and falls to her death, taking the rest of the human race along with her.



            But don't worry, happy ending lover, it isn't over. As Snow White lies there, cold and lifeless, along comes a prince on a white stallion. The Prince sees Snow White as beautiful, falls in love with her, and kisses her lifeless body (ok, so it is kinda morbid, but I think it is supposed to be romantic). By the power of that love, the spell is broken; Snow White awakes and the Prince carries her away with him to his castle in the clouds. IN THE SAME WAY (ironic the parallels here), as Eve, and the human race, were experiencing the death of their souls, the separation from God the Almighty, and living through the ever-increasing consequences of this sin, along came THE PRINCE, Jesus Christ. He saw his bride, felt compassion and love, and gave his life for her (a bit harder than a kiss, wouldn't you say?). And once again, by the Power of that great Love, the bonds of sin were broken; Eve, and her children, awake to new and everlasting life, and THE PRINCE will come soon to carry us away to His mansion "in the clouds." Wow.

            So what can we take from this and apply to our life today? I mean, as Christian women who have already accepted THE PRINCE and await His return. I believe the key here is the temptation. We may have been rescued from the result of our sinful nature, but we are not finished here. The tempter is still hot on our trail. So we need to be wise to him, not allowing him to deceive us as he did our mother Eve. "(Our) enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” 1 Peter 5:8. Here are some things we learn about the schemes of the Devil:

One: He jumbles up your mind and twists God's Word. (Gen 3:1-3)
            Two: He contradicts God, placing His motives under false light, and causes Eve to doubt her faith in Him (Gen 3:4-5).
            Three: He leaves it all up to the senses, which for us women is a dangerous thing. (Gen 3:6)
            So what can we do when Satan attacks, placing that oh so desirable thing before us? Well, if possible: RUN!!!! But here are some other things:
            One: Know the Word of God. "Do not let the book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful." Josh 1:8 Don't allow Satan to jumble you up when it comes to what is in the Bible. If you get confused, there is only one thing to do-open up that Bible and find the truth.
            Two: Know your God. If you spend time with God daily, in prayer and in His Word, you will know the character of your God. Satan can not cause you to doubt someone you so intimately know.
            Three: Know yourself. Realistically. You don't have the power to overcome when you allow something to sit there and stare at you, calling you, looking so desirable. You'll break. We all will. Think about a little child wanting to touch that pretty ornament. You said no, but it is still there, staring at them, tempting them. And what do they eventually do? Touch it. So as parents, or caretakers, what do we generally do? Say no, and then remove the temptation. It is the same for us. All I can say is remove that temptation somehow. Back to my original advice - run!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Speaking Life

When I say the word 'prophecy,' what do you think of? Do future predictions come to mind? Individuals such as Elijah, Isaiah and Ezekiel? That would have been my answer some time ago, however, I have had a sort of thinking shift recently. Those of course are major prophecies, but from what I have been reading, there is something more...I will share, and you decide!

The following passages are those that have made me question my views:

"14 For those nations, which you shall dispossess, listen to those who practice witchcraft and to diviners, but as for you, the Lord your God has not allowed you to do so.
 15 The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your [a]countrymen, you shall listen to him. 16 This is according to all that you asked of the Lord your God in Horeb on the day of the assembly, saying, ‘Let me not hear again the voice of the Lord my God, let me not see this great fire anymore, or I will die.’ 17 The Lord said to me, ‘They have [b]spoken well. 18 I will raise up a prophet from among their [c]countrymen like you, and I will put My words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him." --Deut. 18:14-18

10 and to another the [a]effecting of [b]miracles, and to another prophecy, and to another the [c]distinguishing of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, and to another the interpretation of tongues. --1 Corinthians 12:10

If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. --1 Corinthians 13:1-2

Pursue love, yet desire earnestly spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy. 2 For one who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God; for no one [a]understands, but [b]in his spirit he speaks mysteries. 3 But one who prophesies speaks to men for edification and exhortation and consolation. 4 One who speaks in a tongue edifies himself; but one who prophesies edifies the church. 5 Now I wish that you all spoke in tongues, but even more that you would prophesy; and greater is one who prophesies than one who speaks in tongues, unless he interprets, so that the church may receive edifying.
6 But now, brethren, if I come to you speaking in tongues, what will I profit you unless I speak to you either by way of revelation or of knowledge or of prophecy or of teaching? --1Corinthians 14:1-6

So then tongues are for a sign, not to those who believe but to unbelievers; but prophecy is for a sign, not to unbelievers but to those who believe. 23 Therefore if the whole church assembles together and all speak in tongues, and [k]ungifted men or unbelievers enter, will they not say that you are mad? 24 But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or an [l]ungifted man enters, he is convicted by all, he is called to account by all; 25 the secrets of his heart are disclosed; and so he will fall on his face and worship God, declaring that God is certainly among you. --1 Corinthians 14:22-25

Is it just me, or do these verses treat prophecy as if it is a regular occurence within the church? Yet these verses remain mysterious to us! Paul clearly tells his readers that he encourages them to prophesy for the edification of the church. Surely, this is not just the future-telling prophecy that we have in the little boxes of our minds.

Testiment, these prophecies often required a type of divination or direct revelation from God. But is that necessary now? Is not discerning the needs in the life of an individual and speaking the Word of God into his/her life situation a type of prophecy? Have you ever been in a situation when you are listening to someone's problem, not sure of the advice to give, but a Scripture comes to mind that you believe will encourage and enlighten them? Is that not prophecy for the edification of the church?

I believe that when we speak God's Word into the lives of his people with the guidance of His Spirit, then we are prophesying. We are letting His people know His Word and Will for them. If it isn't prophecy, it isn't any less important. As God's women, as those who are entrusted with the knowledge of His word, we must use it to impart His love on others. Whether prophesying or not, go forth today and try to speak God's Words into the lives of those around you!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Our Big, Big God

It has been a while since I have posted, mainly because I have been living real life - what God calls each of us to do! This year is a busy one and I will attempt to post when I can, but they may be farther in between. Thank you for reading!

God Made Me
Lately I have been reading a book with my son simply called Nature Reader, by Christian Liberty Press. This book takes all the letters of the alphabet and assigns an animal to each one and teaches about that animal. As I have been reading this Kindergarten level book, I am in awe of God's creation! I am reminded that there is no possibly way that these things could ever have just happened!
We read of the Hippo, the only land mammal whose offspring are born underwater - they even nurse underwater! Did you know that the kangaroo is incapable of walking? Caterpillars have 228 muscles in their head. And what about the elephant? Is there any other creature that has a trunk? And last but not least, look at mankind. Of all the billions of species, from fungi to insects to birds to mammal, we are the only ones with a higher intelligence, with a heart and soul created for God to have a relationship with. I simply don't have enough faith to believe anything other than that my God is awesome and big!


God is Big
Have you ever taken a tiny glimpse into the studies of our universe? Well, it doesn't take long to realize how teeny, tiny and insignificant we are. We are one in our town of _______. We are one in our country of over 300 million. We are one on our continent of over 520 million. And we are one on this planet of almost 7 billion! Feel tiny yet? How about the fact that we are one planet out of 10 that circle our sun forming our solar system. And that our solar system is just one of many in our galaxy, and that there are many, many more galaxies out there in the universe? How about now? Teeny, tiny yet? But our God, he created all of this! He is bigger than all of this!

A Teeny, Tiny Response to such a Big God
What gets me most about all of this is walking into churches on Sunday mornings. I don't know about you, but the worship service that I witness is not anything close to being worthy of such a big God. We are so miniscule and worthless, and yet he sent his only son to die for us, because he loved us and wanted to spend eternity with us. How humbling! I would suggest that our worship services should bring us to our knees, to tears! We should be crying out "Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty!" as we will forever be in heaven! We should be taking time out throughout the day to just admire him and praise him for his works! You know all of those things I talked about above? He made them just for us to enjoy. Have you been too busy to enjoy the beauty your Father has given to you? Take time out to be filled with the awe of his beautiful creation and to meditate on his greatness! Giving the proper praise and honor to such a God will fill you and inspire you to do all the other things in life that is placed before you.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Well Done!

My son had his first ever soccer game tonight. I was such a proud mama! Especially because at four years old they can play one of two ways - 1) the pick flower and play in the dirt and run around after the other kids, or 2) they see there's a ball and try to kick it...anywhere.  He was actually that second one! I was so happy that he was trying his hardest to get that ball, to listen to his coach and to be where he should be, all with a huge smile. But at the end of the game he said to me, "I'm sorry I didn't score a goal for you, Mom." Oh, no! I told him, "You do not have to score the goals to play well. You did an amazing job tonight and I am so proud of you."


This situation did reruns through my head last night until I finally realized what it was. This was a reenactment of God and his children. You've read the passages of running the race to get the crown, never giving up. Those are great! But often times that leaves me feeling a little "less than." I see the "kids" who go to the mission field and break through to Christians who have been in darkness millenia. I see the "kids" who become nationally known authors, singers, and preachers, reaching millions of people. I see the "kids" who foster households of children. I see the "kids" who travel the world building organizations to combat hunger and poverty. Then I see me and I say, "I am sorry that I didn't score those goals for you, Father." But last night, I hear His response to me, out of my own mouth!

God does not care if you make those "awesome" accomplishments. That may not be the position he has for you. The soccer team consists of more than just the forwards that score; there are middies, and defense, and goalies! Oh, boy, I bet the goalies of our spiritual lives often feel totally useless!! God wants the whole team and he wants you to play your position with dignity and heart. What you do matters, whether big or small or noticed or not. It matters greatly to the outcome of the "game." So feel great today, friend! Because your heavenly Father is proud of you.

His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’ --Matthew 25:21

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Kings of the Past Part 3: We Are There

We are finally on our last king before we reach the book of Esther! I am glad that you have stuck with me this far! As we saw in yesterday's lesson, King Darius has ascended the throne, most likely through treachery. Once again, what you read here is my interpretation and not necessarily factual (though I hope I have gotten it right!)

King Darius is found in many places throughout the Bible. He is found in the books of Ezra (4:5; 5:13-6:3), Haggai, and Zechariah (note: he is not the same Darius as found in Daniel, which was a viceroy for king Cyrus, as we discussed in Part 1). There are many interesting events that take place in the reign of Darius, but keep in mind, as we have been working our way to Esther, that this is the father of Esther's husband, Xerxes (Ahaseurus). This is where he grew up and the palace and lifestyle that Esther steps into is formed.

The Royal Family
Darius I was married to a common woman and had several sons. He was the shield bearer to King Cambyses. After assuming the throne, he realized that he was not of royal lineage and wanted to prevent his people from questioning his right to be king. Therefore, Darius married many women of nobility from surrounding kingdoms in order to form alliances with their families. Most notable of these was the daughter of Cyrus himself (the sister of Cambyses), Atossa. {Interesting side fact: Atossa is thought to have had breast cancer. Historians recorded a tumor on her breast that got worse and worse until the royal physician convinced her to have it removed.} When it came time to declare an heir to the throne, Atossa insisted that it be her son Xerxes, not Darius' oldest son from the common woman. It is thought that, as the daughter of King Cyrus (of his favorite wife), that she had learned to read and write. Some historians note that she was the first queen given the title of Lady and that she even advised Darius on matters of war. She must have been a notable woman indeed.

Crowning Achievements
Darius had many conquests and achievements, but those that matter to us are this:
Darius built the palace in Susa (you know, where the great banquet takes place in Esther 1; where Esther lives after she becomes queen?).
Darius gave support to the Jews that had returned to Jerusalem and the temple was completed in the 6th year of his reign.

What is interesting about the life of Darius, is that he was constantly seeking to prove himself. He felt that he did not deserve to be where he was. We are too often that way as well. We constantly seek to prove ourselves because we don't feel we deserve the grace and blessings that have been poured out on us. As we finish up this timeline leading up to the story of Esther, I want you to remember that we are all a part of God's story. We all have a roll to play, whether we are deserving of our position or not is of no consequence. We must do our best to trust in God and follow him instead of trying to prove ourselves by our own power.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Kings of the Past Part 2: Cover Up

So last time we left off with the fall of Babylon to King Cyrus. Here's to sum up the next few events rather quickly. I found some rather interesting side stories here! But please, please realize this is my interpretation of various sources I have read and I am not a historian.

After Cyrus the Great kicks the bucket, his son Cambyses II rises to the throne. Cambyses continued much of his fathers conquests. There are many legends that surround Cambyses' death and other parts of his life, including the famed Lost Army of 50,000 men in the Egyptian desert. Cambyses at one point had his army fight against his brother, who sought his throne, but then claimed that it was an impostor posing as his brother. Not long later Cambyses died of an infection in a wound he had sustained in battle. It is commonly believed that Cambyses, and possibly his brother, were both murdered by Darius I, who at the time served as his shield bearer and wrote the account of both of their deaths.  Darius, therefore, assumed the throne.

This was a big ancient cover up! We see these things happening everyday, right? In reality, it is the response of our human nature. What did Adam and Eve do as soon as they realized they had screwed up and their eyes were open to their nakedness (Gen. 3)? They covered up. Then they placed blame. What do we do when we fail? We try to cover it up. What do we do when we feel that we are unworthy, or unbeautiful? We cover it up. If we are honest with ourselves, we spend a good majority of our lives covering up who we really are. This is not what God wants of us of course. His plan is for Him to cleanse and exalt us. Only one cover up is necessary - the blood of Christ.

"Humble yourself in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you." --James 4:10 (NASB)

Friday, August 31, 2012

Kings of the Past Part 1: Every End is a New Beginning

Do you ever have a question for so long that you finally decide to dive in and discover your answers? I sure do! My latest quest is taking me deep into the history of the ancient Persian empire. No, history is not my cup of tea, but good stories are and that is what has led me here!

Why on earth would I want to study about ancient Persian kings? That is a question I keep asking myself! One of my favorite books of the Bible is the book of Esther. What is so frustrating to me about it, however, is that it is just stuck in the Bible with no real historical context given. Many of the names found are similar names to those found in Ezra and Daniel. What is difficult, however, is that many of these names are repeated in the royal lineage, so there are seven kings known as Xerxes/Artaxerxes and four individuals known as Darius and that makes things confusing! What it does tell us, however, is that the events found in Daniel, those found in Chronicles and Ezra, and the story of Esther all took place close to the same period in time. So my question has been, for a very long time, how do these stories flow into one another? I have finally decided to find out, if possible. This may be somewhat of a lengthy journey, but I will share all that I can with you!

I decided, the best place to begin is the beginning. So here is my best attempt to compile what I have read into a story that makes sense. Please remember that this is completely my own understanding of what the historical studies show and I am in no way a historian. This story twists and turns, so hang on for the ride!

The Israelites in Babylon and Old King Neb
Ok, so we all know that when Israel fell it was to the Babylonians under the rule of King Nebuchadnezzar II. Much is found about Old King Neb in the Bible, most of which we find in the book of Daniel. When King Neb destroyed Israel, he did not do so entirely and he took the noble young men with him back to Babylon with him in order to train them up the Babylonian way and make good Babylon-serving leaders out of them. Daniel and his three friends Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were along on this ride and we find out about their experiences during this time frame in Daniel chapters 1-3. King Nebuchadnezzar married Amytis, daughter of Cyaxares the Great, king of the Medes. History tells us that she was so homesick that King Neb built her the great Hanging Gardens of Babylon to remind her of home. King Neb was also married to the great Queen Nitocris who continued his building projects and kingdom improvements for years during King Neb's insanity (Daniel 4) and even after his death. It is thought that Nitocris was the grandmother "Queen Mother" of Belshazzar that refers the prince to Daniel during the banquet in Daniel chapter 5.

Babylon No More
There is a lot of history pertaining to the fall of Babylon, and even many prophetic scriptures warning of this occurrence in the Bible. For our purposes we need to know that King Neb was succeeded by his son Nebonidus who was the father of Belshazzar in Daniel 5. Nebonidus was the last Babylonian king. When Babylon fell, Nebonidus was on a conquest in Arabia, so his son was left in charge, just as we see in the biblical account. The Medo-Persians, under Cyrus the Great, were now in control. Daniel 5:31 states "So Darius the Mede received the kingdom at about the age of 62." This Darius the Mede is most likely the individual in historical accounts known as Cyaxares II who served for 2 years as the viceroy of Cyrus in Babylon. One of Cyrus' immediate acts to prove his authority and secure his reign in Babylon was to release all of the forced exiles to return to their homeland. This event is found in the Bible in 2 Chronicles 36:22-23 and Ezra 1:1-8; 5:13-17 and is a clear fulfillment of the prophesy in Isaiah 44:28 and 45:1. Cyrus, called by name, was an instrument in God's overall plan for His people.

Now, if your head is swimming with facts like mine is at the moment, then I am happy to tell you that I am finished for today! I find it always helpful to place stories in context, so now that we have a beginning to our story!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Praying Through Our Choices

Every day we are faced with choices, large or small. Our choices lead us down the path of our life and take us in a direction. All of our choices, big and small, form our future. And whether we like it or not, our choices affect more than just our own lives. They affect the lives of those around us, our children, our friends and family, our employees or employers, whether in a positive way or a negative way. Many people often question why bad things happen. In my experience, bad things typically happen because of someone's poor choices.

So how can we avoid this? How can we live our lives as a blessing to others? Well, we can start by praying through our choices. We should always take time to pray about the choices we make, big and small, before deciding them. We should seek God's will in everything we do. Sometimes, for a smaller decision, we feel silly praying about it. But small decisions eventually become large ones. Pray for your choices of what you watch, read, how you spend your time. Pray for your financial choices. Pray for what you are going to buy. Pray before buying a vehicle or a home or other large purchase. Pray before confronting someone on a serious issue. Pray before voting. Pray before EVERY choice you make! You will find that you become more confident in your choices and make less "rash" decisions by doing so!

So today, as I am learning to weave prayer deeper into my life, let us focus on praying through our decisions.

"A wise man will hear and increase in learning, and a man of understanding will attain wise counsel." --Proverbs 1:5

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Winning the Gold

Today's prayer topic is perfect for the Olympics going on right now! Our focus today is on obedience. Have you had a chance to watch any of the Olympics? I have been watching as much as I can and it is astounding! What those athletes can do with their bodies is phenomenal. Here's the question, though. Did any of those individuals get to that point just because they knew the rules of that sport, or because they had read a lot about it? Did they get there because they decided they wanted to be an Olympian and signed up? Obviously, the answer to both questions is no. Every one of those athletes, when interviewed after their achievements, will claim that the only reason they made it that far was from hard work. They trained, day after day. They pushed themselves as far as they could push. They were never content with where they were but wanted to be better, stronger.

borrowed from www.guardian.co.uk

As Christians, we should be spiritual Olympians. We should never be content. We need to train daily and push ourselves to the limit. Here is what Paul says to us in 1 Corinthians 9:24-27:

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.  Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air.  No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.

Does that describe you? Do you want to win that gold? If not, then that is what today is about. This discipline comes from a constant obedience to God's desires for you. We begin by having time spent in his word. We cannot be obedient if we do not know what he is asking of us. There is a level of calling, however, that God places on each of our individual lives. That is only determined by seeking God's will through prayer.

As you take time to pray today, ask God to show you what it is that he desires of you. Ask him to reveal any place in your life where you are not being obedient. Ask him if you are where he desires you to be (work, church, relationships) or if he would like you to step out into something new.

"Similarly, anyone who competes as an athlete does not receive the victor’s crown except by competing according to the rules." --2 Timothy 2:5 (NIV)

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The Cleansing Power of Prayer

The other day I had to explain to my daughter the definition of repentance. That concept is a bit hard for a six year old to understand. The problem we were having was that she would do something mean to her brother, say sorry, then do it over again. She thought it was ok, because she said sorry. Thus, the repentance conversation.

What is repentance? Repentance is just turning from your sin. When you confess it, you are recognizing that the sin is there, that you've messed up. But when you repent, you turn away from that action and try to not do it any more.

Today's prayer focus is on Confession and Repentance. During our prayer times we must allow God to cleanse us. We must open up our hearts to allow him to show us what is wrong in there. Then we must confess those things - admit it. Then turn away.

For some, this may be a hard thing to do. It may make us feel awful to admit what is truly inside! But that is the point - as long as we leave it hiding there, it is like an unclean wound that just festers and grows! If we face the pain and shame, then the healing process can begin. Remember the study from yesterday - knowing the names of God? Today we call upon God our Judge and our Healer.

"If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." --1 John 1:9

Take time today in prayer to confess, repent, and heal.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

A Journey of Prayer - Drawing Near to God

"The number one personal need of all women surveyed was that they would grow spiritually and have a deep, strong, vital, life-changing, faith-filled walk with God." -Stormie Omartian, The Power of a Praying Woman, 27

As a few of you may know, this week I have begun anew the study on the Power of Prayer. As a guide, I am using Stormie Omartian's book The Power of a Praying Woman. Prayer is the one area in my personal Christian walk that I struggle. It isn't that I don't understand the importance of prayer - I do! It isn't that I don't have the faith in those prayers being answered - I do! And I am great at the "popcorn" prayers, you know, the onces that just pop up throughout your day as you are doing your daily tasks - and that is a good thing! But I lack that quality time, set aside for deep, intimate prayer.

I will be totally honest with you. I think that my great faith in who God is is somewhat the hinderance to my prayers. I believe that he can do anything and do anything and that he will do that which will be according to his plans and purpose. So why should I pray? If I know God can heal that person, and will heal that person if he desires, what does my prayer have to do with it? I know that this thinking is wrong, but that is what I struggle with. What we all need to realize is that prayer is not so much for that person or thing, or for God, as it is for us.

Prayer is our alone time with God. Husbands and Wives need alone time to reconnect, rekindle the flame, share their hearts with one another. Parents and children need alone time to open up, get to know the real person inside, discuss any life situations going on. That is what we need with our God as well! We need time with him to reconnect, rekindle the flame, share our hearts, get to know him better and discuss what is going on in our lives with him. It is about being a woman who knows her God.

So as we begin this prayer journey together, there are a few things we need to do to begin -

Make the commitment to do what it takes. Don't let your busy life keep you from that which will fill you up and sustain you for everything else.

Set aside a time and place. Make your prayer time just like a meeting or outing with any other person. And be there! No excuses!

Spend this first day getting to know God. Learn the different names for God that there is in the Bible and what each of those mean to you. Learn who he is to his people. (Psalms is a good place to start!)

Comment below on what this time of prayer would mean to you? What is your deepest prayer need? What is it that hinders your prayer life?

I am so excited to start this with you! Thank you for joining me!

"Draw near to God and He will draw near to you." --James 4:8

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Hey, Jude!

I feel like it has been so long since I have written on here. Our family has been going through a lot of trials lately, plus a lot of summer travel, and well, after a while I figure people don't want to hear anymore about it! I know I'm tired of it! But last night, I got inspiration.

Ok, don't laugh. So I was watching the Olympic Games Opening Ceremonies last night. It was supberb and we made a family event of it. I love that it is in London this year. If you didn't watch it, well, it closed with legendery Paul McCartney singing "Hey, Jude."

Now you see where I am going with this? I said don't laugh. This prompted me to read the book of Jude this morning. It is an easy, one-sitting read. This is my take on the book.

Don't be fooled. (Jude 1-16) There are many people out there that have rebelled against the word of God and many who try to pursuade those in the church away from the truth. Don't let that happen! It is so easy to allow our own wants and desires to blind us from what is truly happening. Let's take Germany, pre-WWII for example. The citizens were suffering so much from a depression that they were desperate for a better life - one offered by Hitler. Hitler gained his power because the people were too blind to the truth until it was too late.

"Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints."

Don't give in. (Jude 17-25) Sometimes we feel like giving up. We know that God's standard is perfection and we know that we are not perfect. No matter how hard we work and strive, we are not perfect. But listen to this quote from C.S. Lewis:

The command 'be ye perfect' is not idealistic gas. Nor is it a command to do the impossible. He is going to make us into creatures that can obey that command. -Mere Christianity

That is what Jude is trying to express to us:

To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy - Jude 24

We must love others, even the non-believers. We must build relationships with them and we must show them God's love. However we must not give in to our temptations to sin. We must not be persuaded by false teachings or media bias or whatever other influences are around us. Christ is our perfection, if we remain in him through faith.

Here is a quote from yet another great British man, Winston Chruchill:

Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never—in nothing, great or small, large or petty—never give in, except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force. Never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

In Pursuit

Every relationship needs a little pursuit - from both sides! Oftentimes we as women assume that it is our husband's job to pursue us. He should buy us dinner, flowers, do the dishes, rub our feet, smell nice, write us letters and give us chocolate in pursuit of our love. Yes, and YES! He should! That is definitely part of it! But that is not all of it. Our husbands' male ego sensors have not been turned off just because we put a ring on his finger!

Men want to know that they are attractive enough for a woman to come on to them. They want to know that there is something about them that will make a woman lure him to her. He wants a woman to pursue him, to take the initiative and do whatever it takes to make him happy and make him want her - because she wants him. Make sure that woman is you.
Let's look at some scripture to back this up. I have been reading through Song of Solomon this week, and here is what I have found - passage, after passage of two lovers who are equally enamoured with one another and equally seeking each other:

He is in pursuit:
My beloved spoke and said to me,“Arise, my darling, my beautiful one, come with me. - Song of Songs 2:10

She is in pursuit:
I belong to my beloved, and his desire is for me.  Come, my beloved, let us go to the countryside, let us spend the night in the villages. - Song of Songs 7:10-11

And these are the tame verses I have pulled out. There is passage after passage of passionate, intense pursuit and longing after one another. (Hey, the Bible can be quite scandalous, if you didn't know!)

What is so beautiful about all of this, beyond the beauty of this love story, is that this is also the love story that God has planned out for us with Him. He pursues us, yes, but passage after passage reveals to us a God who is jealous, who desires for his people to seek after (pursue) him in an intimate way!

“In that day,” declares the Lord, “you will call me ‘my husband’; you will no longer call me ‘my master. - Hosea 2:16

For the Lord your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God. - Deuteronomy 4:24

Today, make the effort to pursue your husband. Pursue each other! And in the center of it all, come together to pursue God with a devouring passion!


Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Handcrafted Inspiration

I know you all have just been dying to find out what projects we accomplished today on our second day of Project Week!  I decided to focus today on the tedious little projects, the handcrafted stuff. Here's what I ended up with:

1) Handcrafted Monogram frame for Dad's birthday


Easy to do!
What I used:  decorative frame (bought at dollar store on sale for $1.50!!), piece of cardboard to fit glass, gold tissue paper, fine paintbrush, paint, glue
What I did:  I just layered the cardboard with the tissue paper. Only put the glue around the edge or it will wrinkle the paper. Paint the letter onto the tissue paper (I google-image search for the letter to find nice calligraphy letters to replicate) Put into the frame when it is dry! EASY!

2) A remake of my daughters Proverbs 31 mirror: I made this for her pre-school graduation a couple of years ago, but it broke. I promised her a new one and here it is:


What I used: mirror (any will do), fine paintbrush, acrylic paint, Modpodge
What I did: I hand painted Proverbs 31:30 on the mirror (Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.) The first time I did this project, this is all I did. However, this time I coated it with Modpodge to make it easier to clean. Not sure I am completely happy with the finish of the Modpodge...

3) This next one was dear to my heart. While I was pregnant with each of my children, I challenged myself to learn a passage of scripture during the nine months. I memorized a good chunk of Psalm 119 with my daughter, and then all of Hebrews 11 with my son. Based on these, I chose a "life verse" for each of them. When they graduate from Preschool and become "big kids", I frame their verse for their rooms. I then give them another special inspirational gift (made by Mommy!) to go along with it. My daughters was the original of the mirror above.
My son loves animals and cowboy stuff. So, for my son's special gift, I took some old pictures of my dad (his Grampy) when he was young and used to be a bull-rider. I put them in matted frames and wrote inspirational quotes on each matting.


I made three like this. One had the arena quote by Theodore Roosevelt, one had Joshua 1:9, and the above one had the character quote by Thomas Paine. I can't wait for my dad to see these!


So that is what I accomplished so far today! How about you, friend??