Thursday, December 31, 2009

The True Prize

Happy New Year - almost! Today is the last day of 2009 - it is the last day of the first decade of the
2000's - a new century; and what a decade it has been. As I ponder all that has transpired in these last ten years I am amazed at all that the Lord has done in my own life and in the lives of my family members. In the past ten years I have witnessed the weddings of all four of our children; we have experienced the joy of the birth of 11 grandchildren; we have celebrated our 25th & 30th wedding anniversaries - and we have beheld the glory of God - breathtaking!

Today as we embark on the beginning of a new year and a new decade we can forge ahead with plans, hopes, and dreams for a bright future filled with promise at God's hand, or we can tread cautiously fearing the unknown; in reality we will probably do a little of both having a desire for the promise, but stepping hesitantly at times because of fear - that can be okay as long as we turn our fear into faith. "What time I am afraid I will trust in thee." Psalm 56:3

We have often heard the saying "when God closes a door somewhere He opens a window;" I have also heard it phrased "when God closes one door He opens another, but sometimes we stare at the closed door so long that we fail to see the open one." Some folks will spend today pondering all the difficulties they have faced in 2009 and fail to see that there is a new door opening in 2010. It reminds me of when we dropped our kids off to school for the first day of Kindergarten - some kids were excited to begin and kissed their moms goodbye ready to enjoy their new adventure - others clung to their moms and took days or weeks to acclimate to their new environment; both adjusted to the change, but some kept looking back at being home with mom making things more difficult for themselves while the others began their journey with joy.

Today we are opening the door to 2010 and leaving 2009 as a door that is closed behind us - let us face the future and not stare at what is past. Oh, to be sure we will carry the lessons that we have learned, the memories we have treasured and some we would rather forget. 2009 will always be a part of who and what we have become...but don't stop here! Don't stand looking at the closed door behind us, turn around and behold the wonderful future ahead! "Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus." Philippians 3:13, 14

Today as many folks will set goals, make plans, and New Year's resolutions - let's not forget to realize that the true prize is fulfilling our high calling in Christ Jesus!

Happy New Year! Have a wonderful day!

Thursday, December 24, 2009


Merry Christmas Eve! As a child I always remember being so excited on Christmas Eve because that meant that soon I would be getting presents! I thrilled as the wrapped gifts mounted under the tree and I would find myself nearly beside myself with anticipation over what I would soon receive. I am sure that most of you can remember how hard it was going to sleep on Christmas Eve because you just couldn't wait to wake up and have it be Christmas.

I remember when my children were young the many Christmases that my husband and I would stay up into the wee hours of the morning wrapping presents for our children. It became a tradition that after the children went to bed we would watch "It's a Wonderful Life" and wrap gifts. It seemed that we no sooner pillowed our heads when our children would be knocking on our door asking if it was time to get up yet. Those are precious memories to me - what a joy it was to see their huge smiles as they opened their gifts.

My favorite present at Christmas time is being able to be in the presence of my family. When it is my birthday while it is nice to get gifts - my favorite gift is to have my children and grandchildren all around me. At Christmas we are celebrating Jesus' birthday - I believe that perhaps for Him a great gift would be to have us, those He came here to seek and to save, "come before His presence with singing." Today if you want to experience the real joy of Christmas be sure to spend time in His presence. I promise you there is no sweeter time than the time spent in the presence of God. "Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore." Psalm 16:11

While children have such joy because of the presents - the real gift of Christmas is His presence. It is the fact that we are celebrating the birth of Christ that makes Christmas the special Holyday (I know how I spelled it - it should be a Holy day, not just a holiday). It was His presence that made that night so special so long ago.

As you enjoy the time opening presents and watching those you love open the gifts that you lovingly purchased for them, remember the gift that God gave us on Christmas - His Son; remember that the real joy of Christmas is not the presents, it's His Presence!

"Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands. Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing. Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name. For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations."
Psalm 100

Merry Christmas! Have a wonderful day

Monday, December 21, 2009

Its Always a Miracle

This week it is Christmas! In my desire to carry the heart of Christmas I have determined to read the Christmas story through a different portion of Scripture each day. I have often tried to put myself in Mary’s place and imagine what it must have been like for her. As I was thinking about all that happened to Mary, I saw some things that I believe every mother can learn from the Christmas story.

1. "And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee:" Luke 1:28

As a Christian mom I am so comforted to know that the Lord is with me – he promised before He left when he said, “lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”

2."And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end." Luke 1:31-33

Now, I know that not a one of us will ever be as Mary was – but from these verses I see that God determines when a mother will conceive, the gender of the child, and that He has a plan for the children even before they are born – He knows their beginning and their end, and all their accomplishments in between.

I also see an example of the attitude that we as mothers should hold so that we don’t get in the way of God’s plan.

Mary said in Luke 1:38 “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word.” Mary submitted to God knowing that the circumstances would be difficult and that she would face possible judgdment by others.

She further praised the Lord saying, “My soul doth magnify the Lord, And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour...For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name...He hath shewed strength with his arm; he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree. He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away. He hath holpen his servant Israel... Luke 1:46-54

Mary realized what a Great and Mighty God was performing this miracle in her life. Moms, I say to you, to all of us – every birth is a miracle. We of course will not be the mother of Jesus, but we as mothers should strive to raise our children to honor Christ. We should realize that our job is to seek to raise our children to glorify God. Let’s learn from the Christmas story the attitude that allowed Mary to be used of God.

1. Allow God’s will to be done in your life and submit to Him regardless of the circumstances
2. Seek to magnify the Lord
3. Praise the Lord
4. Give Him Glory for the great things He has done

Let's remember that motherhood is always miracle and that every child is a precious gift from God. It is my prayer that this Christmas we will all remember the wonder of it all - the love that God sent to us and the privilege that we have to honor and glorify Him. Merry Christmas and have a wonderful day!

Friday, December 18, 2009

It’s a Celebration!

Merry Christmas! It is hard to believe that Christmas is just one week from today. This morning I have been thinking about Christmas as I have 90% of my shopping yet undone. The word Christmas itself means to celebrate Christ – so I began thinking about celebrating. To celebrate means:

1. To observe (a day or event) with ceremonies of respect, festivity, or rejoicing.
2. To perform (a religious ceremony)
3. To extol or praise: a sonnet that celebrates love.
4. To make widely known; display

I love celebrating! I believe that we should celebrate life everyday that we wake up breathing! As Christians we should celebrate Christ everyday through our actions by observing those things that are important to our Saviour – make reading your Bible and praying a daily ceremony with rejoicing for all that God has done for you; make singing to the Lord as much a part of your shower as cleaning your body and most importantly make all that Christ hath done for you widely known!

I don’t know about you, but when we celebrate an occasion like a birthday I tell everybody. As I shop for the gifts I tell the person at the register that my purchase is a gift; I tell the checker at the grocery store about the meal I am preparing for the celebration and how happy I am to be able to celebrate another year of life for my loved ones – and if it is for my husband, kids, or one of my grandkids then of course I have to tell them how special, brilliant, talented, and precious my family is to me. Now they may not particularly care about my family – but the joy is contagious and I usually find the checker smiling and sending me off with well wishes for the celebration. Shouldn't we all the more spread that joy about our Saviour? Let’s make the joy of Christ widely known – it's Christmas let’s celebrate Christ! "And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth." Luke 1:14

Merry Christmas! Have a wonderful day.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Its CHRISTmas - really!

This year as we began the Holiday season at Thanksgiving, I must admit I did so with concern that with everyone living in different homes, and especially with "Mom and Dad" (me and my hubby) living out of the area that things just wouldn't feel the same. Well, that is true, it did not feel the same; but that doesn't mean that it wasn't special. I feared that without having all of my decorations up or having the kids come to my house for Christmas that I wouldn't enjoy my holidays...sounds so shallow even as I type it, so I determined that if Jesus could be born in a manger, certainly I could have one year without all my decorations and traditions .

Now, I know that I said that, but in my heart I was still carrying a "poor, pitiful me" attitude until I really got a glimpse of Christmas. Our family went to Bethlehem where they did a re-enactment of the Christmas story. I enjoyed the time with my kids and grandkids and thought it was so neat to see the camels and the other animals - I enjoyed walking around the "town" and seeing the various folks in costume - but when I saw a very pregnant Mary riding on a donkey and Joseph going from inn to inn to no avail I got a glimpse of the lonliness they must have felt.

I saw a young married couple that knew God was doing something extraordinarily miraculous facing rejection. I saw a young mother frightened at the prospect of having a baby with no place to go, a man that couldn't provide his best for his wife and coming child...and then considered that what God provided for the place of the birth of His only begotten Son was a lowly manger amongst animals in the cold, dark night. I saw a picture of God's greatest gift of love and realized that the most precious things can come in the most meager of circumstances. I realized that for His love He was willing do without what most people take for granted.

I bawled like baby as I heard "Oh Holy Night," and as my mind and heart pondered all of these things I felt so convicted over the things I was concerned about- Christmas isn't the decorations or the tree - it is the fact that God so loved us that He gave His only begotten Son; it is the joy and peace that we receive through the love of God - when we receive His only begotten Son as He is indeed - our Saviour!

As I enjoy my country home and see the majestic showing of stars each evening I am reminded of that Holy Night and the Star that led the Wise men to Christ - as I sense the presence of God through the Holy Spirit when I pray and read my Bible each day I have the joy and peace that was promised on that night so long ago in Luke 2:9-14, "And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men."

I am so thankful that though things are not as they have been in years gone by, Christmas has new meaning - or maybe I should say "True" meaning - the celebration of the birth of our Saviour! I pray that you will with me marvel at the miraculous gift of love God has sent to us - wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. Merry Christmas to you! Have a wonderful day!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Do You Know the Way?

I have always enjoyed reading. I like to read all kinds of books and I have quite an extensive library of my own. One thing that I don't read well is maps! I guess you could say that I am "directionally" challenged. I get turned around very easily - in fact if I am shopping in a mall I have to determine the direction I am heading by the surrounding stores before I go into a store or I will not know which way to go when I exit the shop!

I am normally not a ditsy type, but for some reason I just am not good with directions. One good thing that has come as a result of my "weakness" is that I pay very close attention to detail when I travel, so if I am willing to give you directions I will be able to tell you not only the street names but all the landmarks that will help you to find your way. Of course as I mentioned before that is only if I know the way - if I have to check a map I am definitely not the person you want in charge of giving family can attest to that!

For as many years as I can remember our family has always travelled together to cut down our Christmas tree. While the tradition has been to cut down the tree, we have through the years tried out different tree farms. I recall one year we went to Groveland (near Yosemite) and it snowed while we were cutting down the tree - that is a special memory to me. The time I am thinking about today in particular is one year when we went up towards Colefax - we had never been to that area and all we had was a map - and for some reason I was the one holding the map as the navigator. BIG MISTAKE! Anyway, I kept directing my husband to different areas to find the many tree farms in the area (or so I thought) - finally as we kept turning up empty my husband decided to ask me how I knew where the tree farms were and I told him that I was following the little green triangles that were on the map - oops. I thought that since they looked like Christmas trees it meant that we could find Christmas Tree Farms in those locations. Now, just so you know typically a triangle on a map stands for a US Mineral or Location Monument.

I was falsely leading my family because I didn't understand what I was reading. Had I taken the time to read the legend I would not have mislead my family to waste so much time driving to the places where there were no Christmas Tree farms. As I was chuckling at the memory of my "gaff" I was reminded of how important it is that we understand, truly understand what we are reading - especially if we are going to try to lead someone else to follow our interpretation; that is what is so dangerous about listening to TV or radio preachers - they are often misinterpreting the Scriptures and misleading their listeners.

I am reminded of I Corinthians 2:12-14 which says, "Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned." The key to understanding the Bible is to be taught by the Holy Spirit which God gives as a seal to those that receive Him as their personal Savior. (Ephesians 1:12-14, "That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.")

Without realizing the purpose of the map legend my lack of knowledge led us in circles; don't let that be you especially when it comes to God's Holy Word! If you don't know for sure if you have trusted Christ and been sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise - please let me know and I will happy to show you the way!

Needless to say my husband doesn't ask me to be the one to navigate using a map any more, but fortunately now I can google the map WITH directions before we leave for our destination. I am thankful that I know the Word of truth, the gospel of my salvation and that I know the way to heaven! I pray you do as well.

Have a wonderful day!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Whose Making You?

As long as I can remember, I have always loved to cook and bake. I remember being a nine-year old girl and cooking dinner for my family - not that I was forced to do so, but because I wanted to prepare the food. One thing that I especially enjoy doing is tasting something, guessing the ingredients, and then preparing it for myself. For the most part I have been pretty successful, but there have been a few times when I just couldn't quite get the right flavor. When that happens I look up several recipes and then assemble what I believe my husband will best enjoy eating.

I guess you could say that when it comes to cooking I like to be able to make meals that are not only nutritious, or something used to fill our tummies, but also something that is made well and enjoyable to eat. When I begin to cook I always imagine the flavor I expect for the meal I am making to produce. I have thought a lot about making things and how that in order for most anything to be made you must follow a plan, a recipe, an idea, or even your tastebuds!

For the last several weeks I have had a verse on my heart that Jesus spoke in Matthew 4:19, he said, "Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men." In Mark 1:17, He is quoted as saying, "Come ye after me, and I will make you to become fishers of men." I know that we are commanded to "go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature;" but not everyone is obeying that commandment. As I pondered the verses quoted above and thought of the Great Commission, I realized that if we were really following Jesus - He would make us to be fishers of men - if we haven't been made thus its because we aren't following!

God promised to make us...

* Fishers of men" - if we follow Him (Matthew 4:19)
* Free - when we know the truth (John 8:32)
* " increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men" - by faith (I Thessalonians 3:6-12)
* "...perfect in every good work to do his will..." - through the blood of His everlasting convenant (Hebrews 13:20-21)
* "...perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you." - after you have suffered a while (I Peter 5:10)
* "...that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ." - as we grow in grace (II Peter 4:1-8)

I would love to be made all of these things for my Savior and what a joy to know that I can be by following Him and His Holy Word! I don't want to follow the wrong recipe and be made into something that is not savory or undesirable. It is my prayer that I will follow the Lord and let Him make me - after all He is the potter and I am the clay. I believe our greatest joy is found when we fulfill the purpose for which we were created - and become what we were made to be. May your joy be full and may you become all that God has intended for your life!

Have a wonderfu day!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

My Cup Runneth Over

The empty nest sounds like such a sad transition – it has even been named as a syndrome for when parents experience sadness and emptiness when their children leave home. We have had an empty nest for several years now as our youngest child has been married 4 ½ years now – however we have always had all our children living near to us – in fact for a short while 3 of our 4 children all lived on the same block with us! So now that we are living away from all of our children our nest really seems empty.

One of the best ways to prepare for the time when your children are living away from home is to make sure that you and your husband share time together as a couple not just parents. Be sure that you make time to be sweethearts; go on dates with just the two of you; and work at being best friends with each other. I am so glad that my husband and I always considered the fact that one day it would be just the two of us again – and now here we are. I will say though that we look forward to any time we can spend with our children! It is a special treat for us to spend time with our kids and now grandkids as well.

This morning as I was reading my Bible I read Psalm 65:11 which says, “Thou crownest the year with thy goodness.” As I read that verse I thought of the wonderful time we were able to enjoy for Thanksgiving as we had all of our children and grandchildren together – all 21 of us! Though we planned various activities for the week we were together to me it didn’t matter what we did, it was just being together that made the time special. Now, if anyone were to view the video that was taken of the craziness that transpires when 11 children aged 5 and under are all together they may not agree with my sentiment; but to me it was sheer bliss.

As I see our children all happily married, serving the Lord and raising their children to the glory of God I say - Thank you Lord for crowning my year with goodness; I am so thankful for our family and for the time You gave us to spend together – I don’t feel empty at all – in fact I can say as David did in Psalm 23:5-6, “my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.”

During this Holiday Season especially please keep Christ at the center “…for consider how great things he hath done for you.” I Samuel 12:24

Have a wonderful day!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Good Byes

Nobody likes to say Good Byes. One of the things we all look forward to in heaven is that we will never have to say good bye. Last September our youngest son and his wife and their 2 children moved to the other side of the country...I did not want to say good bye; I wanted them to stay with us, but God had another plan and He is using them for His service where they have moved.

This past Sunday we had to say a most difficult good bye as after nine years of pastoring the Redwood Baptist Church we had our last service with the church family that we love so dearly. My husband has always been burdened about church planting, and about 16 months ago God dealt with his heart and that burden became a call. It has been such an emotional time for me personally - you know women like to nest; we like to feel secure about where we are and that we'll be able to cozy in and call it home forever...that has not been the case with me.

I remember when we were at our previous ministry I really struggled with leaving when my husband was called to the pastorate. In fact, I down right fought him! I was unwilling and disobedient. Our pastor knew I was struggling and very pointedly "suggested" that I get alone with God and figure it all out. I remember spending an afternoon in prayer and I read from the Book of Isaiah - from chapter one to 36! The Lord dealth with my heart and gave me my answer in the first chapter, but I battled Him until I finished reading chapter 36. My fear was that if we moved I wouldn't be able to be with my kids in church, I would miss out on what I was accustomed to doing with my family and in my church. God's answer to me was Isaiah 1:18-20 which says, "Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land: But if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it."

I learned that if I was willing and obedient to the Lord I would enjoy good at His Hand. As it turned out, 3 of our 4 children served with us in the ministry for 8 years! This past year God began moving us one by one. When my husband told me how God was dealing with Him, as difficult as I knew it would be heart breaking to say good bye - I learned by experience that I will be much better off by being willing and obedient - as my daughter reminded me when she moved away I used to tell her after she was cured from cancer that I would be happy to have her anywhere God used her to serve Him because it would be closer than heaven.

Through tears and a broken heart I hugged the dear ladies of our church and said "if I don't see you here, I'll see you there." I have learned that being willing and obedient to God will allow us to see good. Good bye comes from "God be with ye" and so while I close this chapter and say "God be with ye," (goodbye) I look forward with great anticipation to see what God will do as we willingly and obediently answer His call to Oakdale, CA, and planting the Lighthouse Baptist Church. Please pray for us. I will keep you posted and will continue posting the Tender Touch as God leads.

Have a wonderful day!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Swallow and Follow

Swallowing took on a whole new meaning for me recently when I underwent an endoscopy - that is a test where the patient (me) must swallow a tube with a small camera at the end so that the doctor can see all the way to the stomach. I knew I needed to take the test because of family history - but I was okay with it because I thought I was going to be asleep during the procedure. A few days before my appointment the nurse called to give me last minute instructions; I became apprehensive when she said I would have to be awake to swallow this tube! In fact I told her that it sounded like a panic situation to me...I did not want to do it so I fretted and stewed about having to swallow that tube for the rest of the week (that was a lot of help); but the truth is the only way I could get the results was by swallowing that horrifying tube. Thankfully I indeed was asleep during the procedure and so all that panicking was for nothing - Praise the Lord!

That word swallow is an interesting word because it has so many meanings other than just to take food from your mouth to your stomach. Another meaning is to accept without question or suspicion. I believe that is the kind of swallowing we should use when it comes to the Bible. Psalm 34:8 says, "O taste and see that the Lord is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him." When it comes to the Bible we should swallow and follow - accept the Word of God without question or suspicion - and then do it!

Ladies,when God calls your husband to take that step of faith - though it may seem difficult and perhaps even frightening - just swallow and follow. This will be much easier if your bathe your husband in prayer and trust that God is leading your husband to lead your family. Every mighty miracle that we read about in the Bible started with a step of faith (that's the swallowing part - believing), but as James said in James 2:18 "...I will shew thee my faith by my works." In other words when you believe something your actions will prove it.

Ladies, I encourage you to take the Word of God to heart today - swallow and follow - as you do you will indeed experience Psalm 34:8 - you will see that the Lord is good and you will be blessed as you trust in Him.

Have a wonderful day!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Two are Better Than One

This past Friday I underwent a health test that required my having an empty stomach. I was instructed to have nothing to eat or drink after 7:30 in the morning but the actual test was not until 4:45 pm - so I had to fast all day. My husband woke me up a little earlier than usual to invite me out to breakfast - we finished our last bite and sip of coffee by 7:25. We spent the rest of the morning at the church getting some things done, and then we ran a few other errands before going back home for the afternoon. I was able to nap (to kill time and not think about being thirsty) and when I woke up my mouth was pretty dry - but I couldn't have any water. I didn't say anything about it - its not really a big deal, but my husband came downstairs to check on me and wanted to let me know that he was with me - that he too had determined that he wouldn't eat or drink anything either. Maybe that's not a huge deal, and I wouldn't have minded if he had wanted to eat and drink - he had no reason not to; but it was a loving gesture on his part to let me know that he would "suffer" with me.

"Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up. Again, if two lie together, then they have heat: but how can one be warm alone? And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken." Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

In the 31 years that we have been married as I look back, all my memories include my wonderful husband because we became one flesh - two separate people joined to form a holy union and as such the two of us together is better than one of us alone. In your marriage be two together forming one, not two fighting to see which one will get their way. Here are points to remember.

1. The two of you together is better than one of you alone because your labor together will give you a good reward. You'll be able to look back on your lives and see what you have built together - the home you have built (not house), the children you have raised, the work you have accomplished.

2. When you go through a hard time together one of you will be able to help the other. There have been many times that I have been down, either because of health or discouragement and my husband has been there to hold my hand to encourage me. By the grace of God I have been able to do the same for him.

3. On a cold winter night its nice to be able to snuggle with my husband for warmth, but it also a blessing to receive a warm reception from the man I love. There are times when have been at gatherings where we have received "the cold shoulder," but when we're together we can provide warmth for each other.

3. When you face opposition together you can stand, and most especially if Christ is at the center of your marriage - He makes the third fold of the cord that will not be quickly broken. Recently my husband had a conversation with a man that greatly discouraged him - probably as low as I have ever seen him. Please note that my husband did not come crying to me, but rather began apologizing for his shortcomings. I couldn't understand why he felt the need to apologize, nor did I agree with what he was stating were his failures. I tried to encourage him from my point of view, but then as we then prayed together the Lord brought so many illustrations from His Word to our hearts that soon we realized that the discouragement and oppression were simply distorted views from Satan. Praise the Lord for His Word and for His comfort!

Years ago I remember watching an old 40's movie (for some reason that era seems to be when many of my favorite movies were made); in the movie a young gal was getting married and her father said to her, "well honey, now the two of you are one, but remember for you he is the one!" I know it was just a line from an old movie, but I think we would all be wise to consider our other half as the one we should put first. I'm glad that we enjoy that type of relationship - and I know that every married person would be happy to enjoy a marriage like the one God has given to me. I am a blessed lady indeed - thank you Lord for giving me such a wonderful husband that follows your Word, and for a marriage that by Your grace earnestly seeks Your Word as our model.

Have a wonderful day and may God bless you and your marriage!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

The Eye of the Beholder

"Beauty is bought by judgment of the eye." -Shakespeare 1588
"Beauty, like supreme dominion is but supported by opinion." -Benjamin Franklin 1741
"Beauty in things exists merely in the mind which contemplates them." -David Humes Essays, Moral and Political, 1742
"Beauty is in the eye of the beholder" as we quote it today is a line from the book Molly Bawn written by Margaret Wolf Hungerford in 1878. The same sentiment expressed throughout history in these quotes is this - beauty is a matter of opinion.

I remember when my first child was born I thought he was the most beautiful child, so you can imagine my utter surprise when one of my sisters-in-law came by and saw him and said, "oh look, now he is getting cute." In my mind I thought, "Getting? What do you mean getting? He has always been very cute!" She had her opinion and I had mine - to me he was always beautiful and to her he was now getting cute (at least she had the good sense to know that he was cute, right?). The fact is that beauty really is determined by the one that is looking, and is subject to each person's opinion.

As a wife the opinion that matters most to me is that of my husband's. I want to be beautiful in his eyes - so I try to dress to impress him, I fix my hair in ways that he finds attractive, and so on. To be honest though I would probably put up a fuss about it if he had ridiculous ideas (like if he wanted me to wear my hair the same way I did in the 80's, or if he had strange ideas about having me wear totally outdated fashions) - thankfully he appreciates my choices, but he will let me know if I choose something that he doesn't like and when that happens I respect his opinion and get rid of what he doesn't like.

As a Christian the only opinion that matters is God's. I want to be beautiful to my Lord. I believe that holiness before the Lord is what He finds beautiful. There are five verses in the Bible that teach us that truth and within them I find also a recipe for holiness.

A Recipe for Holiness

1. Give glory to God. "Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name: bring an offering, and come before him: worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness." I Chronicles 16:29

2. Praise the Lord. "And when he had consulted with the people, he appointed singers unto the LORD, and that should praise the beauty of holiness, as they went out before the army, and to say, Praise the LORD; for his mercy endureth for ever." II Chronicles 20:21

3. Worship the Lord. "Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name; worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness." Psalm 29:2

4. Fear the Lord. "O worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness: fear before him, all the earth." Psalm 96:9

5. Be willing to do what God wants you to do. "Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power, in the beauties of holiness from the womb of the morning: thou hast the dew of thy youth." Psalm 110:3

I am thankful that I can be beautiful to the Lord in spite of my looks. I am thankful that I can be beautiful to the Lord though I have sinned because of the forgiveness I have received through His blood according to the riches of his grace. It is my prayer today that I may be found beautiful in the Eyes of my Beholder.
"The eyes of the LORD are in every place, beholding the evil and the good." Proverbs 15:3

"Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy." I Peter 1:16

Have a wonderful day!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Would Your Son Share His Lunch?

On Sunday morning my husband preached a message about the feeding of the 5000. As he was preaching he mentioned the "lad" that had food to share. I have often thought of that lad as I have read my Bible and so many thoughts have flooded my mind about that is the account of what happened.

"When Jesus then lifted up his eyes, and saw a great company come unto him, he saith unto Philip, Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat? And this he said to prove him: for he himself knew what he would do. Philip answered him, Two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may take a little. One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, saith unto him, There is a lad here, which hath five barley loaves, and two small fishes: but what are they among so many? And Jesus said, Make the men sit down. Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand. And Jesus took the loaves; and when he had given thanks, he distributed to the disciples, and the disciples to them that were set down; and likewise of the fishes as much as they would. When they were filled, he said unto his disciples, Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost." John 6:5-12

Now, the thing that intrigued me (as a mother) is the fact that of all the people there (5000 men plus women and children) there appeared to be just one boy that either had a lunch or the very least was willing to share his lunch. I have pondered several things about this boy and would like to share with you today.

1. He must have had a very good mother - she made sure and packed her son a lunch, so she took care of him.

2. He must have had a spiritual mother because she sent him (or allowed him) to go to Jesus.

3. He must have had a mother that taught him manners because he was willing to share his lunch with everybody even when there was obviously not enough to go around.

4. He must have had a mother that taught him to pay attention to the needs of his authorities and spiritual leaders - because it was the apostles that knew about the lad.

5. He must have been taught to speak with and respond to his authorities - so many children today would not have spoken up to say anything. This speaks to the fact that he must have had a measure of confidence (something a mother can foster or squelch in her children).

Now I know that I am attributing all of these things to his mother, but in truth it is the mother that would do all of those things.

So, quite possibly, because of what his mother probably had done, this lad, and all of those present witnessed a miracle! This lad was used of God very possibly, or even probably, because of the loving tender care that his mother gave him and it put him in the right place at the right time.

So, you may be wondering what all of this has to do with anything - but in fact I believe that there is a valuable lesson that can be learned and applied to every mother's mothering skills.

1. Make sure that you prepare your children for the unexpected - it is better to be over prepared than to be caught in a situation with no resources.

2. Have a personal walk with God at home. Be involved in your church, church activities, special meetings, make sure your kids know that it is important to be a part of every opportunity that God brings in your lives.

3. Teach your children basic manners, be polite, share, be attentive, show respect for your elders especially those in a position of authority.

4. Encourage your children to know that they can do all things through Christ - most leaders had someone in their life that made them believe they could do what God wants them to do.

I can't say for sure - but I think this is the kind of mother that nurtured this lad - and God used His offering to perform a miracle that is recorded in the Word of God! I think this mom was pleased, and I know this lad brought glory to God! Would your children share their lunch?

I pray for all of you moms that are raising your children for His glory that these thoughts might be a source of encouragement to you - I love you.

Have a wonderful day!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Don't Mind Her - She Cries at the Brady Bunch!

When I was a young girl I remember watching The Brady Bunch with my family. Of course I always related with Marcia because she was my age. I remember one episode in particular, and perhaps some of you that used to watch the show or those that have watched reruns will remember this one. The story in this episode was about Marcia trying to enter a contest so that her dad could win "Father of the Year" award. Throughout the episode she kept sneaking to do things so that she could get her entry turned in, and each time she did she got in trouble - she even sneaked out of her room and got caught! At the end her dad won the award and he realized why she was doing what she was doing. I was very touched by the episode and my eyes filled with tears (I was relating). My brothers (all 4 of them - younger than me) could not believe that I cried at the Brady Bunch! For many years after that my brothers would dismiss my tears (especially at movies) and say things like, "never mind her - she cries at the Brady Bunch!"

What moved me about the episode of the Brady Bunch was the fact that Marcia took the false accusations so that she could honor her dad. Sometimes things people do look so evident, but we can never really know a person's intentions. As Christians people are often very quick to point their fingers at us and falsely accuse us of things that are simply not true as we are seeking to honor our Heavenly Father. Our motives are often misjudged and sadly we become the target of harsh words and misplaced blame, most especially when we take a stand for the Word of God.

While these encounters that take place from time to time in our lives are very painful, and we may be tempted to retaliate we should respond more like Marcia Brady and take it quietly. I know that was just a story that touched my heart as a "daddy's girl" but in reality our best example is the Lord. Matthew 27:12-14 says "And when he was accused of the chief priests and elders, he answered nothing. Then said Pilate unto him, Hearest thou not how many things they witness against thee? And he answered him to never a word; insomuch that the governor marvelled greatly."

Jesus was being falsely accused because He was doing His Father's work here on earth. He was falsely accused, beaten, spat upon, and finally crucified but because of His love for us and because He had God's bigger picture in mind He allowed the people to say what they wanted and willingly and silently endured the pain. When it all comes down to it, we are called to do the same thing - be about our Father's business so that lost souls can be saved - and as Jesus we will be persecuted. II Timothy 2:12 says, "Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution."

"Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy." I Peter 4:12-13 While at times we may have our hearts broken by the very people we love, by the grace of God and Lord willing one day our stand on the Word of God and obedience to His calling will be blessed.

God Bless you as you serve Him and have a wonderful day!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Meet Grace

Encouragement. Sometimes the words of kindness and support can be what makes all the difference when going through a difficult time. I can recall one of the most frightening, heartbreaking, and trying times that we ever endured was when our daughter was diagnosed with cancer. I have written a testimony about all that God did during that time and it is posted as "Surviving a Crisis."

I would like to introduce you to Grace. She is the beautiful doll that is pictured. She was given as a gift to my daughter while she was in the hospital shortly after her surgery. Grace is a reminder of just that - God's grace to us as well as a token of encouragement received when we needed it most. Grace is a porcelain doll that was made by the very special lady that gave her to my daughter.

In the letter that was given to my daughter along with Grace, Joy (the lady that gave my daughter the doll) told the story behind Grace. You see Joy had two daughters and one of them (the one with brown eyes) had somehow broken her mother's creation! After looking at the pieces of Grace, she realized that since she had made Grace to begin with, she could make her again. Joy went on to explain that just as she was able to fix the broken doll that she had made, God could fix my daughter's health. Wow! what a great example and picture she gave to us that day. I remember the tears of hope flowing down my eyes as I read her godly words of encouragement.

Jeremiah 18:6 says, "O house of Israel, cannot I do with you as this potter? saith the LORD. Behold, as the clay is in the potter‘s hand, so are ye in mine hand, O house of Israel." We all have broken parts from time to time - whether it be our health, our attitudes, our spirits; and in every case we can go to our Heavenly Father and He can make us again.

I am thankful for the godly friend that gave us Grace - she was like Proverbs 27:9, "Ointment and perfume rejoice the heart: so doth the sweetness of a man’s friend by hearty counsel." I am most thankful that indeed God healed my little girl, and has made me again each time some part of me has broken.

Have a wonderful day!

Monday, October 26, 2009

You Don't Need Calgon!

“In thee, O Lord, do I put my trust; let me never be put to confusion. Deliver me in thy righteousness, and cause me to escape: incline thine ear unto me, and save me. Be thou my strong habitation, whereunto I may continually resort: thou hast given commandment to save me; for thou art my rock and my fortress. Deliver me, O my God, out of the hand of the wicked, out of the hand of the unrighteous and cruel man. For thou art my hope, O Lord God; thou art my trust from my youth. By thee have I been holden up from the womb: thou art he that took me out of my mother’s bowels: my praise shall be continually of thee. I am as a wonder unto many; but thou art my strong refuge.” Psalm 71:1-7

Why would I use Scripture that starts out asking God not to let me put to confusion? As a mother, you may not wonder at all. I remember when I was a young mom with 4 children ages 5 and was quite a time. I have so many wonderful memories of great times and precious moments with each of my children. I also remember having "adventures" in trying to survive each day.
I remember one day after having received a special plant as gift from a friend finding my 2 oldest sons (or should I call them fencers?) using plastic knives as swords to destroy my treasured plant! I remember another day in particular when the "natives" were restless and it seemed that no matter what I "promised" them, they would not settle down - they ended up knocking the VCR off the stand putting a hole in the wall of our brand new home! I recall countless times when I struggled to get the kids to obey resorting to calling my husband on the phone, and the kids would obey his voice over the phone more readily than mine (even with a swatting paddle in my hand!). Sometimes my days blurred into confusion as my plans changed from what I hoped to accomplish instead to following after my children and cleaning up the results of their curiosities.

As a Christian mother, people should be able to look to you and say that you are "as a wonder" to them; they should ask “How do you do it?” To keep any kind of real sanity, you have to put your trust in God. Do your child rearing His way. I like the verse that says “cause me to escape” you don’t need Calgon you need the Lord.

David (the writer of the Psalm) states that the Lord had been his trust from his youth. One day you will want your children to trust the Lord; not only for their Salvation, but for everything. You want them to trust that God’s way is right, and to use His Word as a guide for their lives. Teach your children that God held them up from your womb, and allowed them to be born. Teach them to praise God continually. To teach your children to turn to the Lord for their strength make sure that your children see that you trust the Lord.

Let your children see you read your Bible and pray. Pray with them and praise the Lord when He answers prayer. Remember on those days when life seems overwhelming (everyday, right?) to place yourself under the refuge of God’s strength. Trust in Him, He gave you the children; He will give the wherewithal to raise them for Him. When people ask you “how do you do it?” (I am as a wonder to many...vs. 7) say as David did “thou art my trust…” And as you do so, you will be teaching your children from their youth to put their trust in the Lord; so that one day they might say as did David “O God, thou hast taught me from my youth; and hitherto have I declared thy wondrous works.”

I am thankful for the comfort this verse gave to me and continues to supply. I may not be facing the hectic days of raising 4 young children, but throughout our lives we will face circumstances that we wish to escape...during those times resort to the Lord our Strong Habitation! By so doing you too will be "as a wonder to many." May the Lord bless you. Have a wonderful day!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Of Some Having Compassion

One of the things that my husband and I sought to instill in our children is individual responsibility - in other words, accepting the consequences of their own actions without pointing the blame on someone else. One of the other traits that we worked on was that of being independent. I believe that all parents want their children to grow up to be responsible adults that will be an asset to their generation; both of the character traits I mentioned are vital - no one wants their child to be a "flake."

My daughter learned "independence" very early - maybe a little too early as she seemed to be compelled to do things on her own, even if she was too little or too young. I remember one Wednesday evening when she was just 4 years old, I was cooking dinner and we were getting ready for church. My daughter took it upon herself to shower on her own while I was cooking. Being the only girl, she was also very modest, so of course she locked the door for privacy.

At the time the house we were living in was situated so that the kitchen and bathroom were on either ends of the house...I could not hear what was going in the bathroom. When my husband got home from work he asked me who was taking a shower, and I assumed it had to be my oldest son who was 7 at the time; but my husband had just seen all the boys in the backyard, so we knew it had to be our daughter. As we walked towards the restroom we began to hear screaming "help me, I'm burning!" Our daughter who wanted to help me by getting ready all by herself had gotten in the shower with only the hot water turned on. I am sure she did that because she had watched me always turn the hot water on and wait until it was warm before turning on the cold.

We were living in an older custom home and for some reason the builder (or previous owner) had used a solid core door with a key lock for the bathroom. Normally that type of door is used for the front door - never a bathroom! We could not get that door opened! We tried telling her to turn off the water, but it was just too hot for her to even reach up to the handle. My husband tried to kick the door down, he ran outside to see if he might be able to climb in the window, and finally he had to get tools to take the door off the hinges so that we could get our daughter out of the burning water. As soon as he got the door off I went in, turned the water off, and got our daughter out of there.

I found our precious little girl crouched in the corner of the shower. She was slightly pink and a little swollen; I had been instructed to place her in a cool bathtub which I did until she was calmed down and then we took her to emergency. Praise the Lord that she did not suffer any serious burns. What a horrifying experience it was for our entire family! We were crying, and praying, and so concerned about our daughter's pain - we did not want her to burn. The kids were standing by watching and crying and I am sure they were afraid as they witnessed the panic.

When I was a little girl I had met a burn victim and because of her burns her life was never going to be normal. While I felt confident that our daughter was not going to be burned to that degree - I still did not want her to feel the pain of burning. When she was screaming and burning in the hot shower there was no question that we would do whatever it took to get her out of there. Jude 1:23 says, "And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire..."

The Book of Jude is only 25 verses, one chapter exhorting Christians to earnestly contend for the faith. The verse I quoted above is of course speaking of reaching the lost and keeping people out of hell. I believe that the Lord allowed that very frightening experience in our lives so that we could have a heartfelt understanding of the urgency in seeing souls saved.

It is always easy to find an excuse not to hand out a tract, or to go out soulwinning when there is so much to do at home, or to give the gospel to someone; but what could be more important or urgent than pulling someone out of the fire? The preceding verse in Jude says, "And of some have compassion, making a difference:” Christian won't you prayerfully, compassionately seek to make a difference? It is my prayer that I may do so...will you join me? I pray you will.

Have a wonderful day.

He Giveth More Grace

I have four children, and one of the things that my husband and I sought to instill in our children is individual responsibility - in other words, accepting the consequences of their own actions without pointing the blame on someone else. One of the other traits that we worked on was that of being independent. I believe that all parents want their children to grow up to be responsible adults that will be an asset to their generation; both of the character traits I mentioned are vital - no one wants their child to be a "flake."

My daughter learned "independence" very early - maybe a little too early as she seemed to be compelled to do things on her own, even if she was too little or too young. I remember one Wednesday evening when she was just 4 years old, I was cooking dinner and we were getting ready for church. My daughter took it upon herself to

Friday, October 23, 2009

Are You "One?"

Do you ever just get a “hankering” for something? I have different comfort foods that somehow make me feel better when I have different types of ailments. As a little girl when I was under the weather, I remember that my grandmother used to make rice pudding – I don’t think she made it for any particular reason other than the fact that it was delicious, but now when I have a cold I think I need to eat rice pudding. If I have an ailment with my stomach, I eat soda crackers and grape juice (my grandfather’s cure). My all time favorite comfort food is Chinese cuisine.

One day last week I had such a day, and so I texted my husband the name of a couple of food items suggesting that he bring them home for dinner. I guess I wasn’t all that surprised to have him call me a few moments later telling me that he had already made the purchases and would be home in just a few moments – we have been married for 31 years after all…he should know me by now, right? I will say that though I wasn’t surprised, I am very appreciative of such a thoughtful husband. I am so thankful that my husband is “dwelling with me according to knowledge.” He definitely knows me.

It is amazing how much we two have become one in the years we have been married – I can’t even tell the number of times I hear my husband ask the same questions, make the same comments, or express the same thoughts about things. I believe as Christians we experience this even more because of the unity of the Holy Spirit. This morning as I was praying the Lord brought a particular parable to my mind that reminded me of a situation we are facing. Later in the morning I was telling my husband that the Lord brought the parable to my mind and he stated that the Lord had brought the exact same parable to his mind…coincidence? I think not. The Lord brought the same parable to our minds individually to comfort us, and also to show us the unity of His Holy Spirit’s working in our lives.

“Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus: That ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Romans 15:5, 6

This oneness doesn’t happen simply because you have exchanged wedding vows, wear wedding rings, or because you sleep in the same bed…

1. Depend on each other – not your parents (Genesis 2:24)
2. Love and respect each other. (Ephesians 5:33)
3. Don’t be selfish – think of your mate. (Philippians 2:4)
4. Don’t argue – give in to each other. (Ephesians 5:2)1
5. Love each other (Charity) (I Corinthians 13:4-8)
6. Be filled with the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:16)
7. Give your husband lots of kisses and appreciate how handsome he is. (Song of Solomon 5:16)
8. Read your Bible and pray daily
9. Talk to each other! Bare your heart.
10. Stay sweethearts - hold hands, go on dates, have fun together

It is wonderful to be good friends with each other - work on'll be glad you did!

Have a wonderful day.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Amazing Grace

Our little Kellie girl, a few weeks after she was lost
Having your child get lost is a common nightmare that mothers share. I mean, how many of you never had the nightmare of seeing your child's face on a milk carton?

I know that it was certainly one of my greatest fears when my children were little; especially after my daughter disappeared for 15 minutes at the Beach & Boardwalk in Santa Cruz! It was early August and we went on a mini-vacation for a few days to the beach. Our oldest son was not quite 6 years old, our baby was just 5 months old - our daughter was almost 3; really, still a baby herself.

On this beautiful day at the beach we had enjoyed playing with the kids with a beach ball and building sandcastles. The 3 older kids were still building a sandcastle while I began to feed the baby. My husband was holding him as he didn't sit up by himself quite yet, and my daughter was sitting directly behind my husband so I could not see her. I remember asking him where she was and he patted her little head as she sat behind him and assured me that she was "right here." A few moments later (I told you it was a nightmare of mine to have a lost child) I asked my husband again where our daughter was, and when he went to repeat the action of patting her head - she was not there!

Kellie, 4 months after the day she was lost at the beach
We asked the boys where she had gone and our second son nonchalantly answered "she went to get some water." I don't think I need to tell you that we jumped to our feet immediately and began calling out and running toward the beach to see if our daughter had gone down to the water...she was nowhere! Our next step was to go to everyone that was around the area where we were sitting to see if they had seen our daughter - and while most of them had noticed her (she was very adorable if I do say so myself) none of them had seen her leave the area. By then we were beyond panicked, crying out, running all over the place, praying out loud...anything to find our little girl! Finally a good 15 minutes later we finally found her; a woman that was sitting near our family on the beach found her wandering around looking for us. Our independent little girl had gone to the bathroom to get water for her sandcastle!

I don't think I ever got completely over that experience to which my children can attest, but it did help me to better understand some things that have changed my perspective.

1. Now, I believe I know, or have some feeling, how desperately God does not want us to be lost! "For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost." Luke 19:10

2. I learned that there is no shame in what you are willing to do find your lost loved one. We were not afraid to talk to anyone, we were not embarrassed to pray out loud in a crowd of people. We didn't care if anyone thought we were nuts, or weirdos...we had one objective - to find our lost little girl. As Christians we should be bold about reaching the lost. "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek." Romans 1:16

3. I know the joy of finding someone that was lost for a time. "For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry." Luke 15:24

God, our Heavenly Father, does not want anyone to be lost - He sent His only Begotten Son Jesus to seek and to save us because we were lost. He wants us to carry on that work and carry the Gospel of Jesus to a lost world. "And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature." Mark 16:15

I am so thankful that my daughter that once was lost was much more does the Heavenly Father want to find His precious creation in His presence and not lost for all eternity! He has amazing grace - let's take it to the lost so that they too can be found.

Amazing Grace how sweet the sound
that saved a wretch like me
I once was lost but now am found
was blind but now I see

Have a wonderful day!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Making the Hard Times Count

I like the old saying, “Necessity is the mother of all invention.” I believe this to be a true statement. My family enjoys a full array of recipes “invented” because of lack of either an ingredient, or necessary funds to purchase a more expensive option. In either case I have found throughout the years that the lack of something is not necessarily a bad thing.

I remember talking to Nanna about the Great Depression. We had this conversation in the early 80’s when the economy was much like it is today. At that time there was a recession, plus the interest rates were extremely high (17-18%)! I remember the stories she told of how the neighbors would all get together and have potluck and play games because they couldn’t afford to do anything else. While the times were clearly difficult, she had great memories of the unity that was formed as a result.

I remember one year in particular when things were somewhat “tight” financially, but it was the first summer after our daughter completed her chemotherapy and we wanted to be able to take the kids on a family vacation. We had originally planned to borrow a friend’s van and go camping, but at the last minute we couldn’t use the van, so we couldn’t go camping. At that time we had the “clown car” (read blog “Miracles Do Happen”) meaning that we had a car that sat only 5 people for our family of 6. Instead of being defeated my husband had another idea.

We ended up going on our 49er Trail vacation. With a car that was too small, and very limited funds we ventured on a road trip along the California 49er Trail. Each day we went to a different town, a different hotel, only one restaurant meal a day, and yet it is a trip that we all remember being a lot of fun. I don’t know if the kids even knew how tight our budget was. I remember many of our meals being “inventions” – things made in a hotel room with no stove or microwave. We enjoyed salads with interesting varieties of ingredients, lots of fruit, and snacks. The highlight of each place was the pool – the kids knew that at the end of the day they would be able to go swimming- they would have so much fun playing in the water.

You know today as we look back on the times when our funds were so limited, like Nanna I do so with fond memories. Today if your finances are tight and your bank account is empty it is not the end of the world – use these times to build memories and unity with your family and friends; you’ll be able to look back on these days with lessons learned and many of your life’s fondest memories. Please don’t worry during these times instead follow this advice.

Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you…I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.
I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me."
Philippians 4:6-13

Don’t worry, pray.
Think about good things
Follow the godly example of those that have gone before you
Be content
You can do it through Christ – He’ll give you strength for the journey!

Have a wonderful day!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

My Best Birthday Gift

Today is my birthday. It is hard to believe that I am already 52 – I remember anxiously waiting to turn 17 thinking it was such a mature sounding how time flies. As I see time marching on, each year on my birthday I like to spend some time pondering my life, setting goals, and making plans for the coming year. I also always remember my special birthdays.

I remember my 16th birthday when my parents gave me an almost surprise birthday party. They planned the party for me, but on the day I was to be surprised my mom didn’t want me to not be prepared, so she told me that I was going to be surprised that evening. I always wondered if anyone believed that I was surprised when I showed up with my hair done professionally in my new dress! I also remember my 21st birthday because I was a newlywed of 1 day. We flew to Hawaii for our honeymoon and everything in life was brand new.

The birthday that I remember above any other is my 25th birthday – on that day I received the absolute best present a woman could ever receive, and that gift continues to bring me joy even today. I remember the whole day so well, as if it was yesterday.

I woke up early in the morning being 9 months and 12 days pregnant! I was expecting our 3rd child and was oh so overdue. I remember as I began working around my house that I vented my prayers to God (though I didn’t know the Lord personally at that time). I said something like… “Ok God, I am going to clean my house, do these dishes, and take my shower, and I sure hope this baby comes by then.”

My first contractions began while I was in the shower, yeah! I called my husband and told him that I was finally in labor – he was so frantic and panicking because my 2nd child was born only 23 minutes after I arrived at the hospital! Well, this little one didn’t come quite that fast – but this baby was ushered into the world to the sound of the Italian opera singer Luciano Pavarotti. The doctor that delivered the baby said, “This Italian baby is going to be born to Pavarotti!”

Though I had an ultrasound, the technicians were not able to confirm the baby’s gender. I am the only girl in my family with 4 younger brothers; my husband’s family also was 4 boys and 1 girl, so having a girl was rare in our family. I remember Nana saying, “Wouldn’t it be something if the baby was born on your birthday, and it was a girl?” Well it happened just that way and our precious daughter was born on my birthday. They sang Happy Birthday to me as soon as she was delivered.

I don’t think there is another birthday gift that can top that one! Psalm 127:3 says, “Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.” Thank you Lord for all of my children, and for every gift that You have given to me. Happy Birthday to my precious baby girl, thank you for being such a joy to me, and for being my best birthday gift. I love you very much.

Have a wonderful day!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Its Not Getting Old, Its Getting Better!

When I was 17 years old, I began dating my husband. By my 18th birthday I knew I wanted to marry him - I knew that I loved him and wanted to be his wife for the rest of my life. Well, it took a while for him to get with it, but finally on the eve of my 21st birthday we were married - 31 years ago today! What a journey we have had thus far, and somehow though we have been together for so many years, we still share new dreams for our future together. Its not getting old - its getting better!

Several years ago I taught a lesson to the HomeBuilder's Ladies, "The Bride of Christ, The Church, and Your Marriage." This lesson was taken from the Book of Revelations where Jesus is writing to the Church, (the Bride of Christ) and paralleling it with man (made in God's image) and his wife. I believe that the truths I learned in preparing for that lesson helped us to build the truly marvelous marriage we enjoy today!

Here are the key points.

1. Keep your hubby #1 In Revelation 2:4,5 Jesus is telling His Bride that she has stopped doing the things she did when their love was new. "Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works..." No matter how long you have been married, keep the honeymoon in your marriage.

2. Stay by your husband through thick and thin In Revelation 2:9, Jesus is telling His Bride that though they are suffering hardships, though they may not have money, in keeping true to their vows they are indeed rich. "I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich)..." "be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life." The promise is to the faithful.

3. Keep a walk with God and pray for your husband Be careful with this one, because Eve was deceived and encouraged her husband to sin. In Revelation 2:13-15, "I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where Satan’s seat is: and thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith, ... But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel,... So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate." This wife is not denying Christ and probably thinks she is a godly woman, but she is following the wrong leaders. She is being influenced by laity in the church instead of following the pastor; she is in danger because she is doing something God hates!

4. Don’t get sidetracked from your purpose (your husband), your goal should be to help him achieve his goal. Jesus warned His Bride in Revelation 2:20 - 23, "I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, ... And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not. ...except they repent of their deeds. And I will kill her children with death..." This is serious because though this wife is saved, giving and serving and believes God; she is willing to hold hands with doctrines that God is against; this wife is not putting her husband first, and refuses to follow him. The scary thing about this is that it will ruin your children's lives unless you get it right.

5. Do what he likes and build your relationship by carefully listening to him – use what you did when dating to encourage him. "thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead. Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain"
a. To rebuild a weakened marriage, begin by strengthening what little you do have, make it better. Think of what makes your husband happy and do it.
b. Remember the things you did while dating (the way you act before you are married)
a. More attentive
b. Dress nice to impress him
c. Make him feel that you really want to be with him
d. Tell him he is handsome
e. Tell him what a great man you think he is
f. Remember the things he has told he likes and dislikes; if he likes it, do it; if he doesn’t it, don’t do it!

6. Trust and obey him (don’t fight him every time he wants to do something) "...for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name." Keep your husband’s word and confidence – this wife is obeying her husband, trusting his leadership and is earnestly trying to trust and obey

7. Be his #1 cheerleader "I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my zealous therefore"

I am thankful that God gave me such an awesome husband and has allowed us to enjoy such a close and happy marriage together. We have been tried through every one of the downside (sickness, poorer, worse) vows; yet together as one we have endured and weathered each storm.

Of my hubby I say, "His mouth is most sweet: yea, he is altogether lovely. This is my beloved, and this is my friend." Happy Anniversary Sweetheart - I love you!

Have a wonderful day today ladies and may God bless your marriages!

Its Raining!

Its raining outside. I enjoy the rain, especially if I can be inside, curled up with nice cup of hot coffee or chocolate. Its the first rain of the season and this first rain always takes me back to one of the most trying times I have ever endured, and as well to the marvelous grace that God affords during those times.

The date was September 25, 1991; my nearly 9 year old daughter had just been diagnosed with cancer, she had undergone surgery to remove her kidney, and it was the day she would begin chemotherapy. I recall sitting in the hospital room with my daughter and reading to her from the Book of Psalms, as I had determined that I would read 5 Psalms a day, hoping for comfort and claiming the promise in Proverbs 4:20-22 which says, "My son, attend to my words; incline thine ear unto my sayings. Let them not depart from thine eyes; keep them in the midst of thine heart. For they are life unto those that find them, and health to all their flesh."

On that particular day I read Psalm 68 and what a comfort it was to me as I read verse 9 that states, "Thou, O God, didst send a plentiful rain, whereby thou didst confirm thine inheritance, when it was weary." The reason that verse meant so much to me on that particular day was for two reasons: 1. There had been a draught, so the first rain was a blessing in itself; and 2. because the rain (on the first day of my daughter's chemo) confirmed my inheritance. The Bible teaches that "Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord..." God was confirming that He had given me my children - He was in control.

This past Mother's Day we awarded the Mother of the Year award to a young mom in our church that has a 9 year old daughter that had been diagnosed with cancer; having lived through the same trial I know how she felt and what she was going through. I was asked to make the presentation and the Lord gave me the words to the following poem.

Dreams of a future without pain or tears
Visions of hope for a life without fears
Willing to give, to spend, and be spent
To secure that your life can be all that God meant
Sleepless nights, tireless days, lasting year after year
Is all part of the life that a mother holds dear
Desiring for you all of life’s best
Doing her part, trusting God for the rest
And when trials arise, beyond her control
Her broken heart only God can console
As she prays for your life, for all to be well
Always remember what words cannot tell
Only your mother carries you from the start
For a time at her bosom, everyday in her heart.

Today as it rains I am reminded that God has confirmed my inheritance. I am thankful for the health that my daughter enjoys living here, for the everlasting life that has been promised, and for the glorious Word of God that gives comfort in our times of trial. I am thankful for the dear young gal in our church that today is cancer free! Thank you Lord for the rain.

Have a wonderful day!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

He's Watching Out for You!

When my oldest son was courting his wife, at times he had to drive a great distance to visit her and her family. On one of these visits he was awarded a ticket for speeding. The amazing thing about this was the fact that he was not going any faster than any of the drivers on the road; he was just keeping up with the flow of traffic. When my son stated this to the highway patrol officer, he answered and said, "I know, but the word came from up there (pointing towards the sky where the helicopter was monitoring the traffic) that I was to issue you a ticket.

At the time my son was so frustrated and it seemed unfair - but in truth the answer was very clear - God didn't want His son driving unsafely even if the rest of the world was travelling too fast. We have often heard parents say things like, "I can't control what other kids are doing, but you are my child and I do not want you doing that!" God, our Heavenly Father has different expectations from us as His children. He makes that very clear in Deuterononmy 14:1 which says, "Ye are the children of the LORD your God: ye shall not..." While the ticket was a frustating expense, it was also an indication of God's constant care and watch over His children.

"The LORD looketh from heaven; he beholdeth all the sons of men. From the place of his habitation he looketh upon all the inhabitants of the earth. He fashioneth their hearts alike; he considereth all their works. There is no king saved by the multitude of an host: a mighty man is not delivered by much strength. An horse is a vain thing for safety: neither shall he deliver any by his great strength. Behold, the eye of the LORD is upon them that fear him, upon them that hope in his mercy; To deliver their soul from death, and to keep them alive in famine. Our soul waiteth for the LORD: he is our help and our shield." Psalm 33:13-20 Thank you Lord for watching over us and keeping us safe from our own mistakes...and thank you for teaching this very valuable lesson to my son; I know that you have saved his soul, thank you also for Your watchful care over his life.

Have a wonderful day!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Promises, Promises

When my kids became teenagers we realized that as they were experiencing new freedoms, we had to set clear perimeters for what we would allow. One of the rules that we implemented was that our kids would not be permitted to ride in a car with other teen drivers. Well, one night after a special meeting (I think it was during Youth Conference) I spotted one of my sons in the car with a load of teens! I was in a dilemma because I did not want to embarrass my son, but I also didn't want to let him do something we had already ruled against. My son did not know for sure that I saw him, but I saw him not only in the car, but ducking down hoping I wouldn't see him. So, what did I do? Well, as much as I didn't want to embarrass him, I also knew I would never be able to live with myself if they got in a car accident - so I walked towards the car - waved my hand for them to stop - poked my head in the window and politely asked my son to get out of the car...ouch!

When my son got out of the car, I talked to him about his disobedience, apologized for embarrassing him, and let him know that he could have avoided the shame if he had just obeyed. We didn't further punish him, because being "red-faced" in front of his friends as a teenager seemed lesson enough. He also then was not able to go wherever it was that his friends were going, he came home for the evening.

Did my son get angry and become rebellious because of the stand that we took? Well, he may have been angry at the time, but today he is a preacher of the Gospel; he is a godly man, happily married, and raising three beautiful children to the glory of God! He learned a valuable lesson that we can all apply to our lives today.

1. Obedience in the first place will prevent embarrassment later on. "...shame shall be to him that refuseth instruction..." Proverbs 13:18

2. Kids need to see that Mom and Dad are a team, they are one therefore they should not be divided; if Dad gives instructions to the kids, it is up to Mom to make sure they are followed (even in his absence). "My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother." Proverbs 1:8

3. Keep your promises. If you can't keep it, don't speak it; and if you're gonna break it, don't make it! "But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath: but let your yea be yea; and your nay, nay; lest ye fall into condemnation." James 5:12

Your children should grow up knowing that you do what you say you're going to do whether it is a promise for a special treat, or a promise that they will be disciplined (never give your children threats - give them promises)...don't give cause for your children to doubt what you say - you are the one they are looking to for security. I am secure knowing that the Word of my Heavenly Father will not change. "For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven." Psalm 119:89

Have a wonderful day!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Got Talent?

When I was a young girl in the 6th grade I was very involved in the various activities my school had to offer. I was in the choir - and even was asked to sing solo parts at times; I was involved in athletics and was normally the fastest runner (amongst the girls) in my class. I was basically a straight A student and didn't face a lot of competition...that is until the new girl came to school.

This new girl named Bonnie came to school and as our class sang - she had the most beautiful and clear singing voice I had ever heard! She had an amazing talent that of course I soon envied. To make matters worse when we went to PE, she was the fastest runner (even beating out many of the boys!), I was doomed; no matter how hard I tried to beat her, I simply could not out run this girl. With Bonnie's presence in my life I realized that there were others that were far better than I was at what I thought were my best attributes. I was so disappointed at first, but it taught me a valuable lesson. I learned that it is a fact of life that there is always someone smarter, prettier, more popular, more talented, etc. than I am, but that's okay, I don't have to be the best, I just need to strive to do my best and God will help me with the rest.

"Use hospitality one to another without grudging. As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God." Each one of us has a purpose and God has given us specific talents and gifts so that we may fulfill the purpose for which we were created. So, if you aren't the absolute best in the world - it is because you don't need to be to fulfill your purpose. I believe in good, healthy competition, but it is not healthy to expect that no one will be as good or talented as you are. Remember that God gave you the measure of talents and gifts you have according to what He knows you need; use them to the best of your ability. I am not saying you should not try to improve your skills or talents, I believe that we should all strive to grow in every area. One of my favorite verses is Psalm 17:15, "As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness." In other words I won't be satisfied until I am like Christ...that means working at improving until the day I wake up in heaven.

So, today if you have a gift or talent that God has given you, use it today, it will bring you joy and glory to God if you use it properly. You may not have control over being the best - but it is within your power to do your best! Remember James 1:17 says, " Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning."

Have a wonderful day!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

This is the Day Which the Lord Hath Made

Have you ever tried to do something that you thought was going to be a good thing only to have it wreak havoc in your day? I remember a day many years ago when my oldest son was in kindergarten, and I was expecting my 4th child. I received a call from the school nurse because my son apparently had the stomach flu - so I had to go pick him up from school. This meant I had to load up my other 2 children, and my 7 month pregnant self into the car so I could bring him home. On the ride home I thought it would be a good idea to stop and get a video for the kids to watch since one of them was sick...bad idea!

I stopped at a small local shop to get the video, and since the shop was small and the car was parked literally in front of the door I had the kids wait in the car for the 2 minutes it would take to get the cartoon. Well, I am sure that it was the longest or definitely most eventful 2 minutes of my life! First my oldest son ran in to tell me that my other son had to use the restroom, so I had him get back to the car so that he could be strapped in and ready to go; but as soon as he got back to the car, he realized that my other son (not wanting to wet himself or the car stepped out of the car and used a tree!), so he ran back in as I was finished paying to tell me what his brother had done; but then his stomach flu kicked in and he vomited all over the floor of the store! I had to first make sure my second son was back in the car, help my sick son get cleaned up and back in the car; and then the young store clerk looked at me (quite disgusted) and handed me a mop and a roll of paper towels! What a mess, here I was 7 months pregnant on my hands and knees cleaning the floor in a store as my sick and impatient children were (now honking the horn) waiting in the car! It sounds comical now, and actually I remember my sisters-in-law laughing as I told them all that befell me on that day...all because I was trying to do something I thought would be a nice gesture for my kids.

What can you say about a day like that? Well, I could think of Job 30:26, "When I looked for good, then evil came unto me..." or Psalm 35:12, "They rewarded me evil for good..." But the truth is the things that happened, happened not because I wanted to do a good thing, or because my kids wanted to do evil - those were the events of my day and from them I did learn a few things.

1. I should have taken my sick son right home!
2. While I was totally stressed out at the time, really other than having the unpleasant task of cleaning up after my son - no one was wasn't the end of the world.
3. In retrospect most things aren't as traumatic as they seem at the time - and often may be found to be comical; so instead of panicking just tell yourself that in a few years you'll be able to laugh at the situation.
4. Remember "This is the day which the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it." Psalm 118:24

This picture was taken just about a year after the fateful day!  I was a young and busy mom and oh so happy to be thus.  You see, we lived through that day fully unscathed! 

Have a wonderful day!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Story Time

I am convinced that I had the most adorable grandfather in the world. My little grandpa was such a great man. He worked hard and provided for his family. He was innovative, intelligent, and funny. He was a barber by trade, and a successful one at that! In fact we had newspaper articles of his barber shop in Central America because he had come up with the idea of installing special "ride" type seats for children to sit on while getting their hair cut. Instead of having the ever intimidating barber seats for the kids, he had one seat that looked like a car, and one that was like riding on a horse. His idea worked and he had a very successful business.

One of the things I remember especially about my grandpa was that he would tell stories. He would often tell hilarious stories of things that happened when he was young, and he would get to laughing so hard that he could barely talk; this in turn would get all of us laughing without even knowing the whole story. Sometimes his laughter was in fact funnier than the story - but we had a great time listening to him tell his stories.

Grandpa would also tell made up stories to us kids (me, my brothers, and my cousins) in an effort to teach us lessons. One that I am sure all of my relatives will remember was about a man he called "Catchafu." He was a very skinny man that would capture and imprison children that disobeyed their parents. He would go into great detail telling us of the dangers of disobedience in an effort to help us realize that we would be much better off if we obeyed.

As an adult, he continued to use his story telling to teach me lessons about my marriage and raising my children. I remember when my oldest son was getting one of his first haircuts from my personal barber (Grandpa), he was frightened, he didn't want to sit still, he began crying and fighting against my grandfather as he was trying to cut his hair. My grandfather then told me a story of a family; they were from Germany, and the man was so hard on his son - in fact when his son fought getting a haircut - he removed him from the barber chair, took his son into the restroom, and promptly disciplined the young child. Well, I got the message and took my son in the other room and disciplined him. When I put him back in the chair for his haircut, he sat still and the job was finished in no time. Then I remember my grandfather as he looked at me and said, "you know, I guess that German man knew what he was doing."

My grandfather knew the thing for me to do was to discipline my son, but he didn't want to flat out tell me - "go discipline your son;" he wanted me to understand it for myself. Telling a story is wonderful way to teach a truth to a child, a lesson to an adult, or to convey a message to someone in a way that they'll understand. The Bible says that Jesus used parables (parable means: a short allegorical story designed to illustrate or teach some truth, religious principle, or moral lesson. 2. a statement or comment that conveys a meaning indirectly by the use of comparison, analogy, or the like). Matthew 4:1-2a says, "And he began again to teach by the sea side: and there was gathered unto him a great multitude, so that he entered into a ship, and sat in the sea; and the whole multitude was by the sea on the land. And he taught them many things by parables..."

Moms, teachers, Sunday school teachers - why not follow the example of our Lord and help your children to really understand what you are trying to teach them by telling them stories. Children love to hear stories about things that happen to other children. I am thankful that I had a grandfather that was a story teller - he used his stories to teach me so many things.

Have a wonderful day!