Thursday, July 29, 2010

Fall Bible Studies Are Just Around The Corner!!

 "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path."  Psalm 119:105    

Oops...I am late with my post today and the sad thing is I started my post last week! Today as I was driving down the road it hit me, today is Thursday! I was suppose to blog by 9 this morning. Even though I had already started my post for this week I remembered that Ladies Bible Studies are just around the corner so I will save that post for another time. Can you believe that this is July 29th? Fall is quickly approaching and that means it is time for Fall Bible Studies to start back to.

I know I post about Bible Studies alot! Well, probably just about everytime that it is time to sign up for either the spring or fall studies. I love Bible Study, I love what I learn in Bible Study and I love the friends I make in Bible Study. One of the ways for us to draw closer to God is through reading what He has written for us in His Word. Bible Studies are a great way to help you dig a little deeper into his word each day.

If you are in our area and would like to sign up for one of the studies going on this fall you can sign up online HERE or in the Connection August 1st, August 8th, August 15th or August 22nd.

If you are not in our area I encourage you to find a Bible Study Group to join this fall.

Below is a list of the studies that will be offered this fall.  For more information go  HERE

Embracing God's Grace: Colossians/Philemon
Elizabeth George
(11-week study)

Here and Now...There and Then 
Beth Moore
(11-week study)

Harvest of Hope: The Story of Ruth 
Jill Rhodes
(5-week study)

Five Love Languages of Children
Gary Chapman
(11-week study)

Me, Myself & Lies: A Thought Closet Makeover
Jennifer Rothschild
(7-week study)

Monday, July 26, 2010

Back to the Closet Before Heading Back to School!

Like most of you..... I have had a very busy summer. I can't believe that in just a few weeks we will be sending our kiddos back to school. My blog this month, is a pretty simple "savings" blog. It is a tradition that I have done with my children each year. Maybe it can help you through the "back to school" shopping time, or cause you to get creative and come up with your own version.

In my family, when I say that it is time to clean out the clothes, I don' t always get a positive response. Soooooo.... my husband and I came up with some creative "back to school basics" and memory makers in our home. Hope they encourage you!

Rob, each year, lets the children pick an activity. Any one that they want (within the budget,) and he takes them out for at least half the day one at a time. They get to enjoy the date/activity with dad, breakfast or lunch and he talks to them about a memory verse for the year. They talk about that "character building" verse the entire school year. It is pretty neat to listen in on them during the year, as it is being reinforced and encouraged. And the activities that they have chosen over the years have been pretty fun with dad. They have done, fishing, bowling, golf, frisbee golf, Six Flags, ball games, etc. (Always using coupons of course. :-))

The Bible topics and verses that Rob uses change, depending on the grade. Examples: Always tell the truth!, Don't try to be right, but be the "right" person, Jesus grew in wisdom, and so will you, etc. My sixteen year old, probably can't tell you every activity that he has done with dad, but can probably tell you every topic/verse that he has learned with dad.

Now.... my money saving, closet cleaning, clothes organizing, back to school shopping part! I get to take each child "back to school" shopping before school. One-on-one!

BUT, before they can go, they have to help me clean out their clothes. They try on every item of clothing. Not a lot of fun, unless they have grown over the summer. Then the laughter comes into the conversation. Once we have gone through the clothes and shoes, we can truly see what the needs are for the school year. We make our shopping list from there. That way we are not guessing and buying a lot of stuff that we don't need. (We also get the opportunity to give bags of clothes to other families just in time for school.) If we have everything we need for school, they still shop, but it is for a "first day" outfit, and the special school supplies and binders needed.

They always get to pick a restaurant to "eat out" with mom! Yeah for me! We talk about what they are looking forward to for the year, nervous about, excited about, and I just get to encourage them and tell them how lucky I am to have them in my life, and how I know they are going to do GREAT!

I hope this will encourage you as you do the dreadful "back to school" shopping. My children don't usually care about how much I get them, as much as the time and effort I give them. I can talk to them when we are making our lists about the difference between "needs and wants" and they get to help me decide what they NEED!

Hopefully this will help them make wise choices as they grow and have to shop for themselves!
Enjoy the rest of summer!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


With brand new running shoes, I set out for my run in the cool night air. It was late. It was dark. And I was psyched! As I sang along with my gals Gwen Stefani and Pink, my pace quickened. Then it happened. Mercilessly, the uneven sidewalk silently ambushed me. In one graceless movement, I tripped over a raised section in the sidewalk. While my left knee and ankle turned underneath me, my right leg scraped violently against the cement. Just moments before, I had been gliding effortlessly down the street. Now, every part of my body screamed, "OUCH!" as I sat wounded and crying in the middle of the dark and empty sidewalk.

Slowly, I hobbled home and pushed open our front door. How relieved I was to see my sweet husband waiting to greet me! "How was your run?" he asked playfully. As tears streamed down my cheeks, my sobs seemed to now grow louder. "Are you crying because you are hurt or are you crying because you are embarrassed?" Marty probed further. "YES!!!" I wailed indignantly.

Marty smiled, took me by the hand and led me to our bedroom where he affectionately assessed my wounds. Gently, he cleaned and dressed my scrapes and applied ice to my ankle and knee. Certainly, my husband's tenderness touched my heart deeply, and in his care, I slowly regained my perspective on all that had transpired. Yes, I was hurt, but I was going to be ok. Though the pain was searing, there was no permanent damage done. In a few days, I would be running again. A little slower, perhaps. Probably not in the dark. Yet, with a little rest, I would recuperate and be on my way.

Sometimes in life, we fall. One moment, everything seems to be going well and then out of nowhere, we stumble. It hurts. A lot. And we need help to pick ourselves up again. Truly, we must have a safe place to rest while our wounds heal. But, we must keep our Biblical perspective. Despite our pain, we are assured that God will be there, even when we stumble. In heartbreak. In trial. Regardless of how hard we fall, we must return to our Savior. His love awaits. And we will surely find comfort in His arms, for "he heals the brokenhearted and binds their wounds."(Psalm 147:3 NIV)

Monday, July 19, 2010

Mommy Guilt - is it Biblical or man made?

A lot of my friends and myself included struggle with what many of us call "Mommy Guilt". It's the guilt that follows us and keeps us trapped in a world of discontent and self-defeat. I have struggled with this many times in my journey as a mom. Am I spending enough time with my kids? Do I set a good enough example of Christ? Do they know I love them? Do I feed them well enough? Am I careful enough with our finances? I could go on. So the question is, does this guilt come from God, is it Biblical? Or have we created this extra burden and guilt ourselves?

I think maybe a little of both. Guilt is from the Holy Spirit and used by God to keep us from doing what we shouldn't or to keep us doing what we should. I do not believe that God designed this guilt that we sometimes experience in our Mom Journey to weigh us down and give us a feeling of defeat. But rather to be an encouragement and an inspiration to make changes in our lives.

As moms we are expected to wear many hats. And to juggle lots of balls. Sometimes the hats that are piled too high topple to the ground and as we struggle sometimes to pick them back up we learn that there are a few that don't need to come back on top of our heads. That maybe it's time to let one or two go. As we do that our ability to wear many hats becomes slightly easier. Less of a magic trick but rather covering of all the bases.

Once a mom, always a mom, no matter how old your child is. As a mom we will always have concern for our children and feel guilt for their choices. So what do we do with that Guilt that comes back around day after day and year after year? We use it to learn to improve and to grow in our walk with the Lord. We learn that without God in our lives we will fail and life will be pretty pointless. Once we put our God hat on first, we form a firm & solid foundation for all the other hats we wear as women & moms.

Are you putting your God hat on first each day? Take a few minutes at the start of each day to say a prayer of thanksgiving for the blessings you have in your life. Focus on something positive God has recently blessed you with before you do anything else. Use that focus as your foundation for the day. Make sure you end the day with thanks for the people you have encountered.

For the next 30 days challenge yourself to start your day and end your day with a short prayer of thanksgiving.  I pray that it will help erase the "Mommy guilt" and replace it with sense of purpose and self worth.

Praying for you!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Missions...Don't Forget Your Own Backyard

I still have this year's VBS fresh on my mind. This year, our church decided to do things a little differently for our annual summer Vacation Bible School. Instead of hosting the usual hundreds of children on our church campus for Bible teaching, crafts and activities.. we decided to take the VBS to the people. To try to involve children (and families) that would not normally attend VBS, were it held on our campus. To reach those families for the kingdom of Christ. Instead of one huge central VBS, we had many smaller versions of it in various backyards, all over this area. A return to backyard Bible clubs.

Of course there were a few little hiccups along the way, but overall, this effort was an amazing success story. Even weeks later, I have all the stories I heard of the different lives that were touched.. lives that were changed.. burned in my mind.

In this frame of mind, I headed off with our group of Roman Road Warriors (our church's motorcycle ministry) on an 11-day road trip to Colorado. It was not an "official" mission trip, as such, but I know the hearts of the people we traveled with, and they are constantly on the lookout for those in need.. for opportunities to share the love of Christ.

Every day, I heard different stories of lives that were touched and I witnessed our group helping the needy. Giving food to the homeless, changing a flat tire for a woman who'd been ill in Colorado for weeks visiting her family, praying with a cancer patient who was living in one of the mom & pop motels where we stayed, listening to various harried waitresses as they shared some of their stories... and on & on.

I will be honest in that I kept waiting for my "moment".. for that person that I knew God wanted me to help.. to really try to change someone's life for the better.
Not that I didn't do anything.. but I just never had that "this is it! this is someone I have sent specifically into YOUR path" moment.

Not until near the end of our journey did it hit me. You see, we were on this trip with not only my family of four, and twenty other motorcycle buddies, but also my brother-in-law. Picture a group of ten motorcycles, two chase vehicles and then my brother-in-law in his 35-foot RV going down the road.

I have decided to be brutally honest here in the hopes that it will help somebody else out there. I did not want my brother-in-law along on this trip. I was having far from a Christian attitude about it. I didn't say much outwardly to my husband, when he told me that his brother would be joining us for those 11 days. But inwardly, I was feeling more than a little frustrated and resentful.

My brother-in-law is not the easiest person to get along with. He is very gruff and rough, has a tendency to swear (and loudly, since he has hearing issues), chain-smokes, is very opinionated and usually very negative. How in the world am I going to deal with him.. is our group going to deal with him.. on this long trip? These are the things I kept agonizing over.

I hoped against hope that being around a group of positive Christians on this trip would change my brother-in-law.. change his heart. What hit me toward the end of the trip was that the person whose heart was being changed... was me.

Day after day, I watched our group minister to my brother-in-law. They helped him with a serious blowout tire that he experienced on the first day of our journey. They counseled him, listened to him time & time again, included him, bought meals for him, prayed with him, gave him money to try to help with the unexpected expense of buying new tires for the RV.. in short, they loved on him and showed him the love of Christ. Did he make that easy for them to do? No... far from it.

Instead of seeing him as annoying, as a liability, as a hindrance.. I started to view glimpses of the hurting soul underneath all that gruff exterior. A hurting soul to whom God was reminding me to minister. A soul just looking for love and acceptance. I looked all over Colorado and the person that God was really wanting me to minister to, is in my own family.

So many are called to go on mission trips.. both domestic and international. God is working great miracles through the efforts of the faithful in these areas. Today I just feel led to remind us all... look around. You don't have to go to another town, to another state, to another country to do missions. Look around. Who is hurting? Who is having a tough time? Is it a family member.. a close friend? You might be just the "Jesus with skin on" that they need to see. Look around.

Sometimes the person God has in mind for you to witness to... is in your own backyard. Look around.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Are We There Yet?

Last week my family and I headed to Missouri to visit my parents, sister, and various other extended family members. The drive took ten hours and three minutes—not that we were counting....This is our personal best time, so my husband and I were pretty happy with it. My children, on the other hand, did what all children on long journeys do…they asked questions. “Are we there yet?” “What time is it?” “How much longer?” “When can we watch another movie?” And of course there was also the, “I’m bored,” “I’m hungry,” and “I need to go to the bathroom NOW.”

The questions and continual badgering were about to drive me over the edge. I couldn’t understand why they had to ask every couple minutes. We just told you what time it is. We still have 7 hours to go. Why don’t you just go to sleep and we’ll take care of it?

But then I was reminded, isn’t that just how I sound to God? Lord, could you just show me what to do next? How much longer do I have to go through this? When will I be there? Like my children, I ask God over and over about certain things. I also give Him my, “I’m bored with the day to day. I’m discontent with where I am….” It may be said in varying degrees and various situations, but I know that I both question and badger God in a way that is similar to my children in the car.

Yet in all of my questions and frustrations, God remains. He doesn't treat me like my questions are worthless, and He doesn't go "over the edge" because of my constant stream of, "why? when? how long?" I am so thankful that my God has more patience than me...but I'm also reminded that in turn I am to be like Christ, therefore turning to Him in order to have more patience and then teaching my children by example. How will they know if they are not shown? This Jesus life is not one of only laws and rules but of relationship. Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them" (Matthew 19:14). I want my example to be one that leads them to Him and does not turn them away.

Who knows? With a little help (and a lot of prayer), maybe I'll be a better example of Him on our next car trip, remembering how much like my children I really am.

Thursday, July 8, 2010


I really enjoy running and I’m sad to say that haven’t taken time this summer to go on many runs. This past Monday I had a little time in the afternoon, though, so I thought I could go on an easy run…or jog…or whatever I could survive, really. It was the heat of the afternoon so I headed out the door with my sunscreen on and a cold sports drink in hand. About 20 minutes into my run I had only taken a couple of sips of my already-hot drink and the incessant sloshing of the bottle as a trotted down the road was really getting on my nerves. So, being the “intermediate” runner that I am (I read Runner’s World…that automatically makes me a non-amateur, right?), I decided to ditch the drink and finish my run sans-hydration. Not. so. bright.

Again…this is not the first run of my life, so I decide to take a new route to shake things up a bit. As it turns out, the path I had chosen was a bit longer than I had expected. An hour and fifteen minutes into what had now become a walk-jog excursion I am wishing I had some water…an ice cube…anything. I had never felt so thirsty in my life and I was staring at another 30 minutes before getting back home.

I was looking for a water hose, or water spout on a building anywhere I could. I found myself walking around an unoccupied building or two (or four, but who’s counting) just praying there would be a water source I could tap into. Nothing.
I was praying for God to PLEASE give me some water…it was going to be a painful, dehydrated, final 30 minutes if I didn’t find some water soon.

And then…off in the distance…I saw it. Water sprinklers. They seemed so far away and my energy was shot, but I was going to do everything I could to make it to that water. I started jogging toward the sprinklers, clumsily making my way down a steep hill and onto the open field with the water sprinklers from heaven. This moment was beautiful. My whole body was thirsty. The mist from the sprinklers cooled me off and the little bit of water I gathered in my hands to drink seemed more than satisfying. I felt refreshed and ready to go the rest of the distance.

As I headed home, I couldn’t believe how thirsty I had been (and still was). I was so thankful that God had given me that refreshment. I could think clearly again and this is what He brought to my mind:

1 O God, you are my God,
earnestly I seek you;
my soul thirsts for you,
my body longs for you,
in a dry and weary land
where there is no water.

Psalm 63:1-8 is one of my favorite passages and God used verse one (and my run) to open my eyes in a very new way this week. I say the words of this verse so often, but have I ever really know what it’s like to truly THIRST for God? Have I ever been so thirsty for His Word, for time spent with Him that I can think of nothing else? I didn’t even care if I was breaking some rule by being out there with those sprinklers that day because what mattered most was quenching my thirst. What matters most to me on every other day of the week? What am I trying to satisfy my thirst with?

I want to truly seek Him and be thirsty for time with Him every day. We know from His word that when we seek him with all our hearts, we will find him (Jere. 29:13).

How thirsty are YOU?

Monday, July 5, 2010

Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness

Happy Independence Day! How did you celebrate America's 234th birthday? Were you able to catch some fireworks or find a grill with burgers or hot dogs? I hope you enjoyed time with family and/or friends on this holiday weekend.

I recently saw a quote that contrasted the U.S.'s behavior on its birthday with other countries on theirs (and I'm paraphrasing): some countries mark their national anniversary with armies marching on display before their president and leaders; Americans celebrate Independence Day with family picnics, children's parades, and fireworks.

I like the sentiment expressed in that quote, that America's values lie more in family, freedom, and fun (thinking of the more wholesome sort) than in flexing our military muscles. Perhaps the author was reflecting on these words:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

 We spent our 4th with dear friends who were visiting from the East Coast. They were tickled to experience a real "down-home" Texas celebration. Our church hosted a party at a nearby ranch, under an immense pole barn, complete with burgers and 'dogs, chips, drinks, cotton candy and popcorn, a jump house, volleyball and water balloon games, face painting, a hay ride, and lastly of course, the fireworks. Many of you blog followers were there, too!

My favorite moment came while watching fireworks crackle and boom overhead, cradling my 5-month-old as he drifted to sleep, listening to worship songs blaring through the speakers, smiling at my 4-year-old as she skipped and danced with her glow stick swishing like a light saber (I'm sure that's what she thought it was). There was peace. There was contentment.

There was happiness.

And while I know that happiness is not the end all, be all, I am grateful for the opportunity to experience it. To my grandfather, father, uncle and friends who served or are serving still in the armed forces--thank you. To my husband who is seeking to serve as an Army chaplain--I'm proud of you. To the Creator who planned for me to live in this place, at this time--I'm grateful.