Thursday, December 15, 2011

Walking with a Friend through Adversity

Do these phrases sound familiar?

    • When God closes a door, he opens a window.
    • God never gives us more than we can handle.
    • We will be praying for you.
    • God has a plan.

 When we were going through a very difficult time we heard these phrases quite a bit. These things were mostly said by those who had not experienced what we were going through & didn’t know what else to say.  These are not bad things to say, but when you are in the midst of difficult times, it isn’t always what you want to hear.
What ministered to me most was when someone listened.  They didn’t try to fix our problems, they didn’t suggest we do different things to get out of our struggles.  They asked how things were going, they really wanted to hear & as I explained, they listened.  Once I was done, they asked if they could pray for me.

If you have a friend who is going through a really difficult time, please be sensitive and don’t try to fix their problems.  If God leads you to help in some physical way, that is great.  But many times, the Lord uses us in the lives of others in non-tangible ways.  Here are some ways that you can encourage & support a friend experiencing difficult times.

Pray. If you tell that person that you are going to pray, then DO IT!  Don’t just say you will.  I almost always know when people are praying for us.  They ask often how we are doing.  They remember our prayer requests because they are lifting them up on a regular basis.  Sometimes I’ll get a card in the mail or an email or text letting me know that I am on their mind. Recently during an extremely difficult time, I received on a daily basis numerous text messages from a select group of friends reminding me they were praying for me.  It brought me more comfort than they will ever know.  Just to know that others are concerned and are diligently praying for us, lifting us up eased my fears and concerns.

Listen.  If every time your friend pours her heart out & you suggest ways for her to get out of her circumstance or things he can do, they will eventually quit coming to you.  When I need advice, I know who to go to.  But if I just need a friend to listen, I know who to call because I know she will listen.  They knew they didn’t have the answer.  They knew what God was taking us through was for a reason.  They knew that in order for God’s plan to be accomplished we had to go through it, and couldn’t go around it. It is ok, to not know what to say to someone going through a difficult time, that is when the simple phrase, “I am so sorry” works.

Be Quiet.  Do not ever talk to anyone else about anything your friend has told you unless she says you can.  If someone has told you something & you fear for her life, that is different.  But otherwise, do not even mention it even if you don’t say your friends’ name.  If you want your friend to trust you, keep it quiet, between you & the Lord.  Ask if you can share it with your husband & explain that you & your husband will pray for her.  But if she says not to share with your husband, please respect her enough not to tell your husband.

If you have experienced difficulties then you can bring comfort to a friend in a way that is special. If you have not yet experienced great difficulties, just wait because they are coming and the friend you are watching go through a hard time may be the very one who becomes the shoulder you lean on. Be sensitive to her needs now.  Give her space to experience what God has placed in her path.  Pray diligently for her and be available if she needs you.  Let God use you to bring comfort and support. 
He does have a plan and maybe you are part of it. 
 Maybe you aren’t.  

Just stay out of the way and let Him work.  

Walk with your friend.  Be there...that speaks more to her than anything you could ever speak.


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Ireland Mission Update

I thought I would update you real quick on my daughter's mission trip to Ireland. She left on OCtober 20th & will return November 1st.  We are getting tidbits of info via Facebook from her & others on the team.

They had a successful Carnival for the community of Galway. It rained, as it usually does, so they hoped for maybe 60 people & instead they had over 100!  They were so excited by the turn out & had a wonderful time.  They brought wigs with them & wore them during the Carnival...crazy Americans!

Yesterday they had a chance to take in some of the sights & rest up before they led a marriage conference.  Sarah's role during the conference is to team up with another lady & keep the children occupied by doing different activities & Bible stories with them.

Before they come home they will host a Family conference at an old Irish Manor for the familes of the Galway Church.  They did this last year & had a wonderful turn out.

Keep praying for the team.  Pray they will get plenty of rest before each event & that the Lord will work in a mighty way in the lives of the Mission team & in the lives of the people of Galway.


Monday, October 24, 2011

Soul Whispers at the Kitchen Sink

So many "what if's" going through my mind as we once again approach a critical decision.
 Not sure of what to do.
 Not sure we should do anything.
 Just not sure. 

 Standing at the kitchen sink the questions & uncertainties begin to overwhelm me.
 "Lord, just tell us what to do!" 
 And he softly whispers to my soul, bringing back the words of a hymn sung a long time ago. I had not thought of this hymn in years, but I began to sing the words softly as if I had just sung it yesterday.

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in his wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of his glory and grace. 

Words & tune by Helen H. Lemmel (1922) 


Saturday, October 15, 2011

Good News!

I feel like it has been forever since I posted last, but I know it hasn't really been that long. I don't have a good post for you, it is still in the draft stage, but wanted to explain where I've been.

 In bed.

If you don't follow me on Facebook or Twitter then you don't know our good news!

We are having a baby!

Yep...totally excited & shocked.  God gave us a 5 year break, I thought we were done so I got rid of everything.  Not a smart thing to do, but it is all good.  I'm not worried.

So, I've been really sick.  Can't remember being this sick since my first baby over 20 yrs ago.  I'm just now beginning to feel human again.  I've had 2 days of only feeling exhausted & barely any nausea.

This pregnancy is already totally different than the last ones.  Besides being so sick, my clothes are already too tight & I'm only 11-12 weeks.  Having older teens has been a huge help to keep younger ones fed & running errands & such.

The other good news is that my 19 yr old daughter Sarah is leaving October 20th for Ireland.  If you remember, she went last year & had a wonderful time ministering to the people in Galway with the missions team from our church.  Her money is raised, luggage ready & she can't wait to start packing.

Please keep the team of 12 in your prayers as they lead a retreat & host activities for the community meant to spread the gospel of Christ.  You can see how Sarah is preparing for this trip on her blog. IrelandMission11


Monday, October 3, 2011

Faith Enough for 92 Banana's

I recently read a book that has made a profound impact on me.  The Lord literally laid it in my hands at a time that He knew I desperately needed.  I read it in only 2 days.  It has been a long time since I did that.

The book is called "Evidence Not Seen" by Darlene Deibler Rose.  She was a young missionary wife in New Guinea when WW2 broke out.  She & her husband were captured by Japanese soldiers and held in separate POW camps for 4 years.  Her husband died a year before the war ended so she never saw him again. Her story of those long 4 years in the POW camp is flooded with moment after moment of God's amazing providence in her life.  Time after time he made her difficult path straight, leading her to the exact place, before the exact people and enabled her to say exactly what He wanted her to say. Many times she doubted her faith or ability to continue on, but the sweet voice of the Lord never left her & continued to strengthen her for the next difficult moment. God used her in a mighty way in the lives of the women in the camp and in the life of the Japanese Commander.

But there is a story that has stayed with me. Her testimony is full of many amazing stories, but this one really made an impression deeply in my soul.

This story finds Darlene out of the POW camp temporarily and now in an interrogation facility.  Because she was one of only 3 Americans in the camp & a leader among the women she was accused of being a spy.  She was beaten over & over again during the interrogations.  She had only a bowl of rice porridge to eat once a day, and it often came with worms she had to fight the flies off of to eat. One day she thought about how wonderful it would be to taste a banana.
She writes; I began to crave bananas.  Everything in me wanted one.  I could see them; I could smell them; I could taste them. I got down on my knees and said, "Lord, just one banana."  Then I began to rationalize-how could God possibly get a banana to me through these prison walls? There was more chance of the moon falling out of the sky than of someone bringing me a banana. I bowed my head and prayed again, "Lord there's no one here who could get a banana to me.  There's no way for You to do it.  Please don't think I'm not thankful for the rice porridge,  It's just that-well, those bananas looked so delicious!"
What I needed to do was link my impotence to God's omnipotence, but I couldn't see how God could get a banana to me through those prison walls, even after the knife episode and my healing.

How many times have I been like Darlene and asked God for something and then decided it was just too much for God to provide it. Or I will think that I'm just so unworthy that He will never give it to my anyway. Why would he give me anything I have asked for when I have been so unfaithful and unloving to him?  How many times have I thought my faith to be just too small?

I don't know what all went through Darlene's mind at that moment in her cell, all I know is what she wrote and she is only writing what she remembered.

The next day Darlene was paid a visit from the POW camp commander, Mr. Yamagi- they had become friends after she shared the gospel with him and he trusted Christ.  She was so glad to see him, a familiar face, a friendly face.  Her appearance shocked him because she had been so sick with dysentery and malaria.  He left her cell and had very stern words with the officers and she never saw him again until she returned to the POW camp 3 months later.  But he left her a gift.

Again she writes; I heard the guard coming back and knew he was coming for me. Struggling to my feet, I stood ready to go.  He opened the door, walked in, and with a sweeping gesture laid at my feet-bananas!  "They're yours," he said, "and they're all from Mr.Yamagi."  I sat down in stunned silence and counted them. There were ninety-two bananas!
In all my spiritual experience, I've never known such shame before my Lord.  I pushed the bananas into the corner and wept before Him.  "Lord, forgive me; I'm so ashamed.  I couldn't trust You enough to get even one banana for me.  Just look at them-there are almost a hundred."
In the quiet of the shadowed cell, He answered back within my heart; "That's what I delight to do, the exceeding abundant above anything you ask or think."  I knew in those moments that nothing is impossible to my God.

She was miraculously saved from the blade of the officers 92 days later and sent back to the POW camp for the remainder of the war.

This is a beautiful reminder to me that I can ask the Lord for even those things I think are impossible to have.

Love for that one person it seems easier to hate.

Patience with that child that knows exactly how to set me off.

Forgive the one who continues to hurt.




Pure thoughts


Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think according to the power at work within us, to him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen Ephesians 3:20-21


Thursday, September 1, 2011

It was "Over the Top"

When I responded to an email from Book Sneeze concerning winning free tickets to the Women of Faith conference, I simply thought it would be fun to take my daughter with me because I knew how much she has wanted to go.  The last time I had been, I didn't enjoy it as much as I thought I would.  I was really surprised when I found out that we got tickets to go.  I knew that  Ashley would be so excited.  This was all for her.  The Lord had other plans.

The day started off rough because we needed to take Ashley's car, but it had been in the shop & wouldn't be out until that evening...after we had already left for the conference.  We were able to borrow my mother-in-laws car & made it with time to spare.

(Just a warning, most of my pictures are bad.  I borrowed my daughter's camera.  Other pics I snagged off of the WOF website)

Our seats were on the floor!  We were so excited to be so close to the stage.

As people began to fill the arena, we realized that we were not as close as we thought.  But it was still a lot of fun.  The Woman of Faith team walked right by us everytime they came in or left. This was our view BEFORE people sat in the seats in front of us.  Not bad!

The first speaker of the night was Lisa Whelchel.  Several years ago I had the pleasure of not just meeting Lisa, but praying with her my first year as leader of Mom2Mom. She was our first guest speaker of the year & was wonderful.  She was no less wonderful at the conference either. Lisa spoke on friendships & her desire for a best friend.  Her simple talk pierced my heart as I found that I could relate all too well to what she spoke about.  I have not had what I would call a best friend since Scott & I married.  I have a lot of absolutely wonderful friends that I can call on to pray for me, but I wouldn't call them "best friend"  It didn't take long for my tears to begin flowing as Lisa spoke because I too had desired to have a best friend.  I was so encouraged by her as she shared what true friendship really is.  Real friendship is found in someone who lets you be yourself, listens (not advises) & knows how to just be with you.  A real friend will watch you blow it & not judge, but love.  I realized that for me, my desire for a best friend only arises when I am not seeking the Lord as I should, I am seeking the approval of others.  I am so thankful for Lisa's message to remind me of what I already knew, but had misplaced.

Mandisa is my new favorite music artist!  She gave a mini concert, but more than that she shared from her heart how her God has strengthened her in the midst of trials.  She reminded me that God does give us more than we can handle so that we will go to him instead of try to do things on our own.  Her passion for the Lord is so evident as she sings like no other for her Jesus!  She was a bloessing all weekend!

Saturday morning started off with a bang as the worship team sang.  It was wonderful!

The first speaker of the morning was one of my favorite WOF speakers...Patsy Clairmont!  She packs a punch with every message she gives.  She has had a rough year as she sat by her son's bedside, not sure if he would live.  He lived and God gave her a wonderful story to share.  Patsy shared with us what she has learned from her trials.  She learned that prayer really matters & makes a huge difference.  Never underestimate the power of your prayers.  She learned that people matter.  People would reach out to her in the smallest of ways & they would minister to her in really big ways.  She learned that change can be good, no matter what it looks like.  I don't like change & I don't deal with it very well, but here we are dealing with big change in our family again.  Her words were perfect for me & really encouraged me.  Last of all she encouraged us to never give up.  If the doctors would have given up, her son would be dead. 
I wrote a little more about how the Lord used her message to speak to me that night in a previous blog post.

Brenda Warner was the next speaker.  I have to be honest, I had no idea who she was or who her husband was.  I'm not a big football person.  But that didn't matter.  Her testimony was wonderful of how God has brought her through so much.  She was a great encouragement to not give up, strap on your boots & just keep marching!

After Brenda was Marilyn Meburg.  I have always loved Marilyns dry sense of humor and ability to go deep in the Word.  Marilyn was the icing on the cake. She spoke about how we all have cravings for more.  Those cravings are authored by God, meant to draw us closer to him.  Only Jesus can satisfy our cravings & longings.  She presented to gospel in a way that I know was understood by many.  No big churchy terms, just simple.

The music by Mandisa, Sandi Patty & Amy Grant was wonderful.  It was cool to see Amy Grant & Sandi Patty on the stage together.  When I was a teenager I would go in my bathroom, grab my curling iron & sing "My Father's Eyes" to my make believe audience. So that was really neat for me to see her perfom in person like that.

Each woman had an individual story, but all had something in common; God was their lifeline.  Their faith was strengthen through their trials and the results are a relationship with Jesus that goes deeper with each day.

I'm so thankful that Ashley & I were able to attend.  The Lord had a wonderful word for me & I heard it loud & clear.


Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Memo to self: Change is Good

I went to the Women of Faith conference this past weekend with my oldest daughter, Ashley. We had so much fun & it was so great to hang out with her. We never get to do that!

I am writing a blog post about our weekend and hopefully will have it up by tomorrow. 

If you have read my blog very long then you know my husband has been without a job for a really long time.  The Lord provided a contract job for about a year & while we were very thankful for that, it never completely covered all of our bills.  We continued to pray for a better job that would enable Scott to provide the money we needed to cover all of our bills.

That prayer has finally been answered.

Scott has attained his license to be an Independant Catastrophic Claims Adjuster.  Say that 3 times. :o)  Basically this means that when a catastrophy happens (like Hurricane Irene) he is deployed out to handle property claims that are made.  He got his license just in time for Irene to slam the East Coast.  But, right before Irene hit land, he was hired by a company close by to work in-house support for those adjusters out in the field.  As an independant adjuster he can deploy at anytime.  It is his choice.  Not a bad deal.

So what does this mean?  It means that my husband will be gone a lot no matter if he stays here or goes on into the field!  At first, I thought it to be no big deal.  We really need the kind of money this job pays so I can handle him being gone here & there.

Ok, back to the conference. 

The morning started off wonderful with the praise team.  While in the middle of one of my favorite songs my phone starts buzzing.  It was my husband saying that he has been called into work the next morning.  Then another message came through. "I've been asked to go to Pennsylvania and be there by Wednesday morning."

My heart stopped.  This is real. 

One of the speakers at the conference was Patsy Clairmont.  I have always enjoyed her wit & humor and ability to draw in Biblical truths.  She was sharing about a recent trial their family had been through.  One of the biggest lessons she had learned was that change is good.  She just kept saying it over & over.

I don't like change, but we had been praying for change and now we really have change.

"Lord, I don't like this.  I know we asked you to provide stable income, but why does it have to take him away?"

I tried to listen to the rest of Patsy's message but my pity party was getting the best of me.  All of a sudden past fears that I thought I had buried were resurfacing.
"What if he never comes home?  It is dangerous where the storm hit."  The enemy was having a field day with my mind.

Then Patsy said it again, "Change is good, no matter what it may look like at the time."

The Lord reminded me of a verse I had read the week before.

"And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your Teacher will not hide himself anymore, but your eyes will see your Teacher.  And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying "this is the way, walk in it." when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left." (Isaiah 30:20-21)

Your Teacher will not hide himself anymore.

Ok, pity party over!

We have experienced adversity but this new job isn't adversity & I really have to stop looking at it that way. It is an answer to prayer, a gift from God!  And I am complaining because it means big change for us?  Will my heart ever learn to rejoice inspite of myself?  Will I ever learn to keep my eyes on Him instead of myself?

He has given our family a new direction.  He is clearly saying, "This is the way, walk in it."

Anytime God gives us direction it will bring change

When I got the text messages telling me Scott would be called out we were singing the song that says, "He gives & takes away, but my heart will truly say, Blessed be the name of the Lord."
You know, sometimes what He gives we don't really want and what he takes away can be something we thought we would have to live with forever.

Isaiah said, "the Lord gives you the bread of adversity".  Our many years of financial difficulty were given to us by God to draw us to Him.  Now, He takes that away.  I had settled in my mind that we would forever struggle with finding enough income to meet all of our needs & now it seems that God is taking that struggle away.  We'll see. 

Change is good. 

Scott didn't go to Pennsylvania.  He is staying home & working insane hours at their office, but getting paid well to work those insane hours.  We are only at day 3 of him working there.  The real change hasn't sunk in yet.  But it will & my prayer is that I can say, "Blessed be the name of the Lord." instead of "woe is me".


Wednesday, August 3, 2011

He Is....

I encourage you to grab a cool glass of tea, sit back & listen to this.  This is called "He Is" by Aaron & Jeoffrey.

In Genesis, He's the breath of life
In Exodus, the Passover Lamb
In Leviticus, He's our High Priest
Numbers, The fire by night
Deuteronomy, He's Moses' voice
In Joshua, He is salvation's choice

Judges, law giver
In Ruth, the kinsmen-redeemer
First and second Samuel, our trusted prophet
In Kings and Chronicles, He's sovereign
Ezra, true and faithful scribe
Nehemiah, He's the rebuilder of broken walls and lives

In Esther, He's Mordecai's courage
In Job, the timeless redeemer
In Psalms, He is our morning song
In Proverbs, wisdom's cry
Ecclesiastes, the time and season
In the Song of Solomon, He is the lover's dream

He is, He is, He is In Genesis, He's the breath of life
In Exodus, the Passover Lamb
In Leviticus, He's our High Priest
Numbers, The fire by night
Deuteronomy, He's Moses' voice
In Joshua, He is salvation's choice

Judges, law giver
In Ruth, the kinsmen-redeemer
First and second Samuel, our trusted prophet
In Kings and Chronicles, He's sovereign
Ezra, true and faithful scribe
Nehemiah, He's the rebuilder of broken walls and lives

In Esther, He's Mordecai's courage
In Job, the timeless redeemer
In Psalms, He is our morning song
In Proverbs, wisdom's cry
Ecclesiastes, the time and season
In the Song of Solomon, He is the lover's dream

He is, He is, He is

In Isaiah, He's the Prince of Peace


Monday, August 1, 2011

Teaching Purity

I ran across this 4 part documentary that I just had to share with you.  The documentary is called "Virgin Daughters" and it takes you into the lives of several families who participate in the Purity Ball in Colorado.  These families are raising their daughters to be committed to remaining pure until their wedding day.

It is such a strange concept in today's society to ask a person to not even kiss until the wedding.  But, these families do that, and so do we.  We have taught our children since they were little that God gives you one first kiss and that is meant for your future husband or wife.  It is a gift that you are able to give to them, your purity.  Our daughters are 20, 18, 16 & 6.  None of my daughters have dated or kissed a boy yet.  They take their purity very seriously!  We teach this to our sons also.  We pray for our children that this will be a conviction in their heart because as you will see in this documentary if it isn't a conviction in your child's heart they won't take it seriously and results can be dangerous.  It isn't easy to stick with this as my older kids will tell you, but they don't regret it either.

I wanted to share this documentary with you because I think these families describe very well the importance of raising our children to be pure and that it isn't impossible.  While I may not agree with everything that is said, I do agree with the importance & Biblical mandate that is on parents to raise their children to seek purity.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4


Thursday, July 28, 2011

Train up a Child...or raise brats

Have you seen the story about the restaurant in in Pennsylvania that banned children 6 years and under from eating there?
McDains Restaurant in Monroe, PA recently issued a statement to their customers saying-

“We feel that McDain’s is not a place for young children. Their volume can’t be controlled and many, many times, they have disturbed other customers.”

This article states that their business went up by 20% when this happened. Other media is calling this a "Brat Ban"

As a parent, how does this hit you?  Do you agree?
I think we have all been in both situations.  We have been in a restaurant with our kids when one of our kids decides this is the time to throw a huge tantrum.  It's embarrassing!
And we have been in a restaurant when other kids are throwing the fits.  This is when I am thinking that I am glad it isn't my kid...because I have been there before.
It really saddens me that restaurants feel the need to do this for two reasons.
1. It is a reflection of the lack of parenting going on.
2. It is a reflection of the worldy view of children as burdens.

When I was young, my parents made it very clear to me how to act in public, especially while eating at a restaurant.  If I threw a fit, there was no way he would take me out for a long time.  WE have tried to do the same with our kids, but it seems to be a lost value taught to children.

In the Washington Post article something was said that I agreed with.

This generation of parents is somehow more self- and kid-centered than previous generations

Ya think?

We need to get back to basics.
1. As the parent, your world should not revolve around your child.  Their world revolves around you.  My kids are extremely important to me.  They know this.  But my day doesn't revolve around them.  If I am meeting a friend for coffee and my daughter wants me to take her to the mall, she waits until I get home (unless I can drop her off on my way). I do not cancel my plans.  If my daughter chooses to get upset then when I get back from seeing my friend, my daughter doesn't go to the mall. 
If my child throws a tantrum in a restaurant or a store, we leave.  We do not make everyone around us endure the screaming & floundering on the floor.  If my child has thrown this fit because they want to leave, we go sit in the car until they are over themselves & then we go back in.  I need to go shopping, I will still go shopping.  And that child will not go with me next time I go.
The same goes for church.  I probably need to write a post on letting your children sit in church with you.  They need to be there with you.  It is so important that our kids see us worship!  They also need to learn how to act while in the service.

2.  Do not let your child interrupt you when you are talking to someone else.  I can tell you how many times I am speaking with a mom, her child walks up and begins the, "Mom-Mom-Mom-Mom-Mom" until the mom finally turns and says, "WHAT?".
I have taught my children that if they need to speak to me and I am already speaking to someone else all they have to do is stand beside me, I put my hand on their shoulder so they know that I know they are there. Then they wait until I can see what they need.  If it is really important they put their hand on my hand so I know.  These are our secret signals to each other without interrupting the conversation.  It works.  It took some kids longer than others to do, but it works. 
When Ben was about 5 years old we went to see family that were meeting at a hotel.  I was talking to some relatives when Ben walked up. I put my hand on his shoulder & he put his hand on my hand.  When my Aunt had finished her sentence I looked down at Ben and asked what he needed. "I think I'm gonna throw up".  We ran to the bathroom just in time.  I was impressed with Ben because if I had been him, I wouldn't have waited, I would have interrupted before I threw up. But even while sick, he understood that it is rude to interuppt.

3.  Teach your child to be considerate of others.  This ties in with #1 & #2.  Most of my children's bad behavior stems from selfishness.  They way their own way & they will make your life miserable until they get it.  No way!  This starts with siblings.  Teach them to put their siblings first.  This is hard & we still work on this everyday. 
Funny story...I had made a chocolate cake.  The boys were running in to get the first piece.  I reminded the boys of when Jesus said, "Whoever wants to be first will be last." I told them, "I think that if Jesus were here he would say, "let my brother have the first piece of cake, I can wait."' Austin looks at Ben and says, "You be Jesus".
It is not impossible to teach our kids to respect others.  The amazing thing is that even though it may not seem like they are doing it in the home, they do it outside the home. At least that is what I hear. :o)

4. Simple manners go a long way.  "Yes mam" "No Sir" "Thank You" "I'm sorry" Teach these as soon as they begin speaking.
Teach your boys to open doors for girls.  My boys have always seen my husband do this for me.  Now when I go somewhere with my teen boys, they open the doors for me. I love it!  I see them doing this for others also.  Sometimes they even do it for their sisters!  Baby steps... :o)
Teach your girls to say "thank you" when a boy is gentlemen like to her.  I heard girls at church make fun of a boy because he had opened a door for them. Ugh!

It is no secret that the world views children as a burden instead of a blessing.  This "brat ban" is evidence of that.  But we have brought it upon ourselves by not training our children properly.  Parents have given up I think.  It is harder than they thought. They don't know what to do.  I know!  I felt the same way...and still feel it in many ways. 
Parenting is daily!  Everyday, your child will need you to show him what is right and what is wrong.  Somewhere in the past, parents began losing site of their Biblical responsibilities as parents.  Scripture does a great job of lining out what we need to do.  But it is hard. We need to step up & do what God has given us the opportunity to do & not expect the church or school to do it.  And don't forget your children are watching you.  They really do learn more from what they see you do, than what they hear you say.

In the mean time, until your children are properly trained don't expect them to act in a way they haven't been taught to act.  Don't take them to places where they are expected to act above what they are capable.  Have mercy on your children and on others.

Train up a child in the way he should go. Proverbs 22:6


Storms bring Blessings

I love to read daily readings from Streams in the Desert.  If you don't have it, I encourage you to get it.  It is an old devotional favorite full of excellent writings from a variety of people.
Below is the reading for today.

"His way is in the whirlwind and the storm." (Nahum 1:3)

I remember when I was a young person attending school in the vicinity of Mount Pleasant.  One day I sat on the side of the mountain and watched a storm as it moved through the valley.  The skies were filled with darkness, and thunder began to shake the earth.  It seemed as though the lush landscape were completely changed, and its beauty gone forever.  But the storm passed quickly and soon moved out of the valley.
If I had sat in the same place the following day and said, "Where is that intense storm and all its terrible darkness?" the grass would have sand, "Part of it is in me.".  The beautiful daisy would have said, "Part of it is in me". And all the other flowers, fruits, and everything that grows in the ground would have said, "Part of the storm has produced the radiance in me."
Have you ever asked the Lord to make you like Him?  Have you ever desired the fruit of the Spirit and prayed for sweetness, gentleness and love? If so, then never fear the fierce storms that even now may be blowing through your life.  Storms bring blessings, and rich fruit will be harvested later.
(Henry Ward Beecher)


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Over the Top-Women of Faith 2011

Are you going?  I'm going & taking my oldest daughter, Ashley with me.  We can't wait.

I'm talking about the Women of Faith Conference for 2011.  The conference in Dallas is coming up really soon, August 26-27!

It has been several years since I was able to go so I am really looking forward to this, especially to be able to take my daughter with me.  I know we will have a great time & receive grand amounts of inspiration & encouragement.  With everything that we have had going on lately, it will be a great day to get away and be encouraged!

The Speaker line up is great...again.
Patsy Clairmont, Marilyn Meberg, Lisa Whelchel, Sandy Patty & Brenda Warner.

God loves us more than we know. He gives us more than we can ask or dream. He's unrestrained... excessive... outrageous... Over the Top

Below is a preview video of what is to come.

If you don't live in the DFW area, there are still many more conferences to go after this one. Check out their site & see when they are coming to you.


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Teaching your kids to work

The scenario has played over & over again on our front porch.
"Can you come play?" (neighbor kid)
"Not yet, I have to do my chores." (my kid)
"Chores?  Are you in trouble? What did you do this time?" (neighbor kid)
"Nothing, I just have to do some stuff before I can play." (my kid)
"Wow, that's not fair.  When can you come out? (neighbor kid)

You get the idea.

Before we moved to town, my kids never thought of chores as "not fair".  They just thought it was what you did.  Everyone did chores.  Now that we live in a neighborhood they have found out that not everyone has to do chores everyday.  It is frustrating as a mom.

Work is a part of our daily life, even for our kids.  They will work when they leave our home, so now is the time to teach them how to work.  It matters.  The parent who holds the opinion their children have plenty of time to learn to work, let them be kids will have adult children who do not know how to work.

In our home we call them "chores" or "responsibilities".  Everyone has them, even the youngest in the family.  Everyone has jobs that are appropriate for their age.
The four year old helps me with laundry, unloading dishwasher, picking up toys, making the bed, etc...  He will soon have his own list of chores to do on his own when he turns five.  I don't ask the 4 year old to do what the 15 year can do, nor do I ask the 15 year old to do what the 4 year old can do.

Here is a website that has chores divided by age range.

We have some very basic rules in our house when it comes to chores.

1.  Work without complaining. Philippians 2:14 tells us to do all things without grumbling or complaining.  If you complain about doing your chores you get more chores to do until you stop complaining.
Funny of my boys was doing a lot of complaining about having to sweep the kitchen floor everyday.  so, for the rest of the week he had extra chores and could not play with friends.  He did all kinds of lovely chores everyday like; cleaning toilets,  scooping dog poop in the yard, matching my bottomless basket of socks, baseboards, blinds, and the list goes on.  by the fourth day he gave up.  He lasted longer than I thought he would.
"OK, OK I hate doing all of this.  I will never complain about sweeping the floor again!"
And he hasn't. :o)

2. If you make a mess, clean it up.  This sounds simple, but my problem is finding out who made the mess.  My little ones are the worst at making the mess and then trying to cover it up so they don't get in trouble.
Example: Yesterday Sam was eating chips and salsa on the couch.  A huge No-No!  his bowl of salsa spilled on the couch.  He tried to wipe it up & then cover it with a blanket.  Thankfully I can take the cover off of the cushion & throw it in the washer.  He knew he was not to eat on the couch & knew he would get in trouble, but I let him know he is in worse trouble for not being honest about what he did & punishment was given.
My big kids are good about this and they are trying to help the little kids learn it too.  Advantages to having a large family.

3. Don't step over it, pick it up.  I would love to say we have this one mastered.  But that would be a lie.  But we keep working towards it.  I like the rule, it is simple & one of these day we will have it mastered!

Benefits of Chores

We teach our kids to work from the time they are old enough to make a mess.  I like how this has paid off for us.  Our older kids are beginning to work outside of the home and they are highly respected because of their work ethic.  They are trusted by those they work for because their employers have learned that the job will not only get done, but get done very well.
We learned early on that by assigning various chores to our children it helped to give them purpose in our home.  They don't get bored near as often (though they still get bored) and they have more to do in their day than keep the couch warm and the TV on.  There is purpose to their day.

When they do their jobs, they are to do for the Lord, not for man.  Yes, it makes me very happy when they do their chores, but it pleases the Lord even more.

Colossians 3:17, "And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him."

If you start when your children are small, teaching them to work for the Lord, by the time they are older they will have developed an attitude towards work very different from others around them.  They will stand out in the workforce.  More than that, they will know who they are really working for, which will make it possible to work for those who are hard to work for.


Saturday, July 23, 2011

He waits on me!

I found myself in Isaiah 30 this morning during my Bible reading.  I love the book of Isaiah.  It seems to satisfy my love for OT History & present life application all at one time. And this morning was no different.
In light of our present circumstances (that feel very desperate at the time) this chapter is a great reminder to me to keep my eyes on Jesus, not my circumstances, but it also taught me something new.
Context of this chapter is King Hezekiah is getting advice from advisers to do one thing but the Lord is telling him to do something different.
Little side note often does that happen?  Our girl friends are telling us what they think we should do to fix our problems, but the Lord is telling us something different.  Who to listen to?
The advisers are telling Hezekiah to go to Egypt for help, to form an alliance with them.  The Lord knows what they don't..the Assyrians, who the Israelite's were going to invade had already defeated the Egyptians, who the Israelite's were going to ask to help them invade the Assyrians.  Are you following me?
The Lord calls them;
"stubborn children who carry out a plan, but not mine, and who make an alliance, but not of my Spirit." (Is 30:1)
This is nothing new for Israel.  They completed this cycle for many generations of trying to do things their way, it fails, so they  repent & turn back to God & do things his way.
The Lord even gave them a way out & they refused.
"In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength." But you were unwilling. (Is 30:15

I read that over & over & underlined it.  God provided salvation & they wouldn't take it!  So, he had to wait on them.
"Therefore the LORD waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you.  For the LORD is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him." (Isaiah 30:18)
He waited for them to realize their own pride & sin. 
How many times does God have to wait on me?  I never thought about him waiting on me before, but I know he does.  He waits for me when I am putting my trust in someone else or something else to provide a way out.  He waits for me to come to him.  He waits for me!

I don't want to be like King Hezekiah who trusted in the help of others than in God.
I don't want to be like the Israelites who were given a way out & were unwilling to take it.
I don't want God to wait on me. But I also realize that there is beauty and wisdom in his waiting.
Andrew Murray had this to say about God waiting on us.
God waits on us because He is a wise Gardner who "waits for the land to yield its valuable crop" and is "patient...for the autumn and spring rains"(James 5:7).  God knows He cannot gather the fruit until it is ripe, and He knows precisely when we are spiritually ready to receive blessings for our gain and His glory.  And waiting in the sunshine of His love is what will ripen our soul for His blessings.  Also waiting under the clouds of trials is as importance, for they will ultimately produce showers of blessings. 
Rest assured that if God waits longer than we desire, it is simply to make the blessings doubly precious. Only in His hands, and He will quickly avenge those He has chosen, swiftly coming to our support without ever delaying even one hour too long.
I appreciate Murray's words. He paints a picture of God's waiting on us that I did not have. I'm so thankful my God knows the exact moment that I am ready to receive his blessings.
He is patient.
He is gracious. 
He is merciful.
He is just.
He waits to be gracious to you.

Blessed are those who wait for him. (Isaiah 30:18)


Guest post: Tending the Garden

Here is my guest post that was posted on The Confident Mom blog last week.  I encourage you to linger around on Susan's site.  She has some great goodies for sale & for free.

Tending the Garden

Many years ago we lived in the country on 20 acres.  My husband grew up in the country, farming with his dad. My dad is a preacher and I grew up in the city, but always thought the country life sounded amazing.  So I was thrilled when we had the chance to buy land and build a house in the country. I soon found out that it was very different from the city.  But, I still loved raising my kids out in the country in the wide open spaces & I tolerated the “critters”.  We all miss it very much.
One year, I wanted to plant a garden, because that is what you do when you live in the country.  I had never raised a garden before, but since my husband was a farmer I knew he could teach me how.  We tilled up the dirt, planted our seeds and waited to see what would come up.  Much to my amazement plants began to grow. It was wonderful.  I couldn’t wait until it was time to harvest our veggies.
Within a month or so we had a garden full of plants that would soon become vegetables for our table.  I was so excited!  But soon my excitement turned to horror as the grasshoppers moved into my garden and began to eat all the plants.  We could not keep them out.  The only plant they didn’t eat was the okra and my husband and I were the only ones who liked okra.
We tried again the next year, but didn’t have much more success.  If the seed actually sprouted the grasshoppers got it.  I was so frustrated.  Looking over my pitiful little garden I wondered if I would ever learn how to grow a garden that would produce something besides a mob of grasshoppers.
Have you ever looked at your children in the same way?  

What am I doing wrong?
Will I ever get this mom thing down?
Will my kids ever learn to obey?

I love the verse, “For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

I have days when I really question that verse.  I mean really…motherhood is harmful!  You will get your feelings hurt.  You get your toes stomped on.  You get vomited, pooped and sneezed on.
My kids have disappointed me.
 They have embarrassed me. 
They make me angry.
 They make me cry.
 They make me proud.

Our third child gave me great cause to worry.  I wondered if he would ever listen to us or would make good choices.  The older he got it seemed that the worse his decisions became.  I spent many a nights praying over him and for him.  He and I really struggled when he was young.  He made me feel like a failure as a mom.
Thankfully, when he was about 12, the Lord showed me Jeremiah 29:11-13 in the context of my relationship with my son.
For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  Then you will call upon me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.  (Jeremiah 29:11-13)

 The Lord reminded me that he does have a plan for my son and a plan for me.  It is an excellent plan.  The Lord wants me to seek him and let him take care of my son.  I learned that through seeking the Lord, He guided me in how to handle my son.  There were so many days when I still wondered if my son would have a life outside of a jail cell.  As he entered into his teen years it seemed as though it became worse and I was so tempted to take back the reigns and do things my way.
Today he is 17, only a few months away from 18.  I still have my moments when I wonder about him, but there is one thing that I know for sure.  He loves the Lord.  He may not always follow him as closely as I think he should, but he has a growing, changing relationship with the Lord.  He recently got his first job as an assistant swim instructor and at the end of his first month he was given 3 awards by his boss for outstanding work ethic, integrity and ability to diffuse a volatile situation with a parent. I was so proud of him!
I can look back over the years now and see where the Lord clearly guided me in how I spoke to my son, how I touched him and how I prayed for him.  I mentioned earlier that my son made me feel like a failure as a parent.  Actually, my son has shown me the importance of seeking the Lord in how to be a parent.  He has shown me that I can’t do any of this on my own.
 I gave up on the vegetable garden, but I am still working on my other garden…my children.  I’m so thankful the Lord has given me the opportunity to care for these little sprouts. He guides me when weeding needs to be done and allows me to see the fruit that is produced in my children.  By his grace and mercy, someday I will have a bumper crop of children whose heart desire is to love the Lord and share his love with others.
Tend to your garden carefully, recognizing who the real gardener is. Seek him in all you do and watch His fruit be produced in your little sprouts.


Thursday, July 21, 2011


Then our mouth was filled with laughter...The Lord has done great things for us and we are glad.  Psalm 126:2-3

People often say they would like to be a fly on the wall in our house, just to get a glimpse into what life is like with so many kids.  Well, if we didn't swat you flat first you would hear a lot of laughing & play happening.
Don't get me wrong, we still argue, the kids fight, people get mad & frustrated with each other.  We are definitely not Leave it to Beaver! But at the end of the day, I can safely say that there has been more laughter in our home than other. 
Our life isn't perfect.  I blog about how un-perfect our life really is.  We have problems...serious problems.  But, we try not to dwell on our troubles, but instead on the good things that God has done for us.  That list is a lot more fun to make.
Our family is good at laughing with each other.  We can even get away with laughing at someone as long as we don't cross the line.  We have fun together and (depending on their age) my kids like coming home. (Preteens & young teenagers never like being home. :o)  At least not mine.)  We enjoy watching movies together with all the kids crowded on our bed.  We enjoy listening to Dad tell stories that his dad told him about life in the 1940's as poor dirt farmers & the crazy things he & his brothers used to do. We really enjoy laughing about things the kids did when they were little.  Like the time that Josh dared Ashley to spray paint his butt with silver spray paint!  Yep, she did it!

Laughter is good for you!
Did you know there are heart doctors who actually prescribe their heart patients at least 2 laughs a day.  It is that good for your cardiovascular system.  Not just a giggle!  But a whole body, until you pee in your pants kind of laugh!

It is easier for me to laugh & enjoy my day when I am focused on the good things God has done.

Laugh!  I dare ya! Below is a video that might help.

Tim Hawkins on Moms


Saturday, July 16, 2011

How to Pack for Camp

As my kids get older, our summers have become consumed by camps.  Our church offers a camp for every school age group and of course I have a kid who is eligible for each group.  So, we have become quite good at packing up for camp.
Thankfully now that my girls are older they pack for themselves.  Packing for them when they were younger was quite the ordeal.  Packing for boys is easy.  So, here are a few of my best tips on how to pack for camp.

Pack for dirt.  I don't know about your kids, but my kids usually go to camps that are hot and dirty.  So I NEVER buy them new clothes for camp.  We either pull out the old stuff or go to Goodwill or Salvation Army if they need anything, with the exception of socks & underwear.  I like to send clothes that we call "disposable". If it gets really dirty or lost it is no big deal.  It can be thrown away.  I tell my boys that if it get's wet & muddy just throw it away.  I know that girls are a little different, but the same concept can stand.  Don't send clothes that would be missed if they didn't make it home.

Let them help you pack.  Don't pack up your kids bags & not let them see what you put in the bag.  They need to see what towels you put in there & what clothes.  Even though they use these things at home all the time, for some reason when they get to camp they forget what it all looks like.  Make sure they know their own stuff.

How much to pack?  I usually send clothes for twice as many days as they will be there.  Zach will be at camp 4 full days so he takes 8 sets of clothes.  I know they get dirty during games & really sweaty, so I make sure he has something to change into that evening for dinner & evening devotions (or whatever they do).

Ben at camp
Label. Label. Label.  OK, 2 reasons why you need to label their stuff.  1st, if they throw their stuff on the floor their counselor can call them on it & make them pick it up. Scott & 2 of my daughters have gone to many camps as counselors and they are amazed every year at the stuff that is thrown around and even though it has the kids name in it, they swear it isn't theirs.  LOL!  2nd, if it get's left somewhere at the camp it can be returned to them.  If they are taking camera's or water bottles, it is inevitable that they will set them down & forget to pick it up before they leave.  Something besides their clothes that you might want to label is their spending money if they have any.  Guaranteed every year there is someone in a cabin who likes to help themselves to other peoples money.  We usually put initials or full name on the bills.  Works!

Kids love mail!  I am the absolute worst at this!  That is why I started sending my husband to camp with my kids.  LOL!  The week before camp, you can get the mailing address for the camp & start mailing them letters before they even go.  Some camps even have it set up where you can email your kid.

Snacks.  Most camps have vending machines or an area the kids can buy snacks, but honestly they are so expensive!  So I usually send some snacks with my kids.  I send stuff that is individually wrapped so that they don' t have open packages of food left in their bag.  That is nothing more than a giant WELCOME TO MY SUITCASE sign for ants & other nasty's.

Camps are so much fun & I am so thankful that my kids get to experience them.  They learn so much and always come back excited about next year.  I wasn't sure if I wanted my kids to do the "camp thing" as my experience as a kid was not always that great, but there are a lot of life lessons involved in spending a little bit of time away from Mom & Dad.

Happy Packing!

Sarah worked this Summer as a counselor at Joni & Friends Camp.