Too Much to Gain to Lose

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A few months ago I had the brainchild of getting into couponing. Now, I know nothing about it, but have always wanted to learn, and since my daughter is a recent Ultra-Couponer, I hoped I could latch onto her and get some good ideas. So I decided to start with shopping deals at CVS.

My first week, I bought $11 worth of stuff, and got $10 worth of Extra Care Bucks back! Not bad, eh? But I had to wait until next week to use those bucks, and the next week there were no real deals. The same with the following weeks.

One day I looked at my ECB receipt and discovered that this day was the very last day to use it! No problem – even though it was a Sunday, I would go after church. So on the way home from church I stopped by the CVS only to discover that it had already closed the the day! Oh no! My ECBs were expired! All that money was wasted!

I let a wonderful opporunity slip through my hands.

It reminds me of a verse: “Therefore, we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have learned, lest at any time we should let them slip.”

God has been speaking to me through this verse. Sometimes it is a gentle rolling, a murmer in the background, and other times it is a shocking almost visible trumpet call.

Why? Because I struggle. I struggle with allowing precious things to slip through my hands. I struggle with maintaining a lazer focus on the true and right things, and often get distracted with the meaningless dribble of life. I struggle because my attention span is so very very short.

But God in His mercy continues to call, to pull. He gently murmers in the background, and loudly proclaims His truth right in my face. And these are the things He has been speaking to me about giving the More Earnest Heed to:

1) My God – Coming to grips with the reality of God’s constant presence is something I need to pay more earnest attention to. His presence brings a clarity to my daily routine, and draws me toward a right relationship with Him.

2) My marriage – I may have been married a long time, but there’s no time for vacation or coasting. I must always pay earnest attention to my spouse, otherwise, the parade of daily distractions will pull us apart.

3) My children – For me, I struggle with screen time. It helps to remember that every moment spent in front of the screen is one less moment I spend with my family. It’s something I must always be on guard against.

There’s too much to gain to lose.

Is there anything The Lord has been speaking to you about lately? Do you find yourself struggling with the meaningless dribble of life and not doing what you know you’re supposed to?

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On a personal note, you may have noticed I’ve been a bit quiet here lately. It’s because I’m allowing the Holy Spirit to guide my daily activities and schedule. There have been plenty of evenings I thought to myself, “Well, I’m not getting on the computer tonight. I wonder what I’ll do?” and before I knew it, one or the other of the young people pulled me aside and I spent the evening talking, or taking a walk, or something fun. It’s been a good thing to keep my computer turned off.

We’ve continued on our travels, and now we’re up in the northern states. It’s blissfully cool here, so I’ve been thoroughly enjoying the great running weather. My 5k times were good for August! Now we’re back south, and it’s more of a challenge.

We’ve been doing a lot of singing as a family, which I love. We got our new CD, “I Have Been Blessed,” and have also been learning new songs. If The Lord allows, I’m hoping to make a recording when we come back from this trip, so we will hopefully have another CD ready to put out before the year is up.

We got to visit with the grandkids last week, too! What a blessing it was to be there while Emily had her birthday!! I can’t believe she’s turning 6 years old already!!

Time flies! …and I’m constantly reminded as I look at my grandkids, “I have too much to gain to lose.” I don’t want to let any opportunity to glorify God slip through my hands!

Almost Ready!

If you’ve been following me for these past few weeks, you know we’re getting ready to head out on a two-month trip – a mini-furlough of sorts, designed to help us raise the support we’ve been losing over the past 2 years. Now we’re almost ready!

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It’s been an extremely busy week, as we’ve been getting ready for our two-month trip! There are all the things that need done in the yard, to hopefully get the bushes, etc. ready for a 2 month break (does it help to trim them down within an inch of their life?? They won’t grow back soon….) Anything that needs done to the house had to be done this week, like cleaning out cabinets, etc. And then there’s school to plan.

Since we’re starting school the last week of August, we need to take all the school books for my three studious students with us. THAT’s going to be a challenge! I’ve got everything ordered (and one book I had sent to one of the places we’ll be soon, because it won’t come before we leave,) and I copied all the tests they will need while we’re gone, since we won’t have a printer or copier – and I don’t want to run to Staples every day to copy a test for a kid!

One challenge, but also a blessing, is going to be our Heritage Studies. I decided that, instead of bookwork, we will take these next 2 months and learn everything we can about the states we pass through. The plan is to stop at every Welcome Center and gather information and make a scrap book of the trip. I am also going to have each student write a few paragraphs about what we’re learning, and include those in the scrap book as well. It sounds like a lot of fun!

While I’ve been looking for containers to carry food, school materials, and other necessary items, my husband has been busy building a utility trailer. We looked for one on Craigslist and online, but couldn’t find one in the budget, so he bought a trailer frame kit, built that, and went to Lowe’s and got a bunch of wood to make the box. These past few days has found him out in the garage sawing, measuring, and sweating! Our FB page has some pics of the progress we’ve made.

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The van is as ready as it’s going to be, except that today it should get a good cleaning. We had the oil changed, the wheels aligned, and the tires rotated and balanced. One thing that concerns us is a loose CV joint, which we hope to get fixed at our trusted mechanic in PA…and we hope it doesn’t go out before that! If you could pray for us about that, I would appreciate it.

I also got several CD’s and books ready to take with us on the road: Lionproof, Keeping Your Children from the Claws of the Devil, and The Umbrella Story, as well as two CD’s – I’ll Say Yes, and a brand-new one, I Have Been Blessed! I’m especially excited about the new CD, because it was recorded while the guys were still with us, and it’s one of the very best we ever did!

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I’m writing this on Friday, but when this posts, Monday, I’ll be just putting the finishing touches on the packing, and loading the trailer and cleaning the house. Before you know it, we be on our way!

As we go, I’ll keep you posted on events, meetings, and setbacks. I’ll try to take pics of as much as I can, and keep you up to date on our progress.

Please pray for us as we go, for safety, and that we would be a blessing to the churches we go to!

Linking up with: Monday: Moms the Word, Tuesday: Titus Two Tuesdays, The TimeWarp Wife, Messy Marriage Wednesday: To Love Honor and Vacuum
 

Travel Preparation – Getting Ready!

If you saw my previous post on travel preparation, you know we’re getting ready for a long trip around about half of the country. It’ll be busy and crazy, but right now, I”m just crazy busy, and sometimes just crazy!!

 

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Making lists, cleaning, shopping. Getting out the luggage and dusting it off. Finding tough containers to put things in. More cleaning. Shopping for School books. More cleaning.

Guess what I’m doing? I’m getting ready to travel! The Courageous Journey will be going (the whole family, of course) on a short-term furlough trip during the months of August and September. Lord willing, we’ll be singing, preaching (my husband, of course!) and presenting the ministry to the military. And I can already see on the horizon lots of laughter and a few tears.

I’d like to include you on our journey along the way, if I can. I may not have a smart phone, and my internet will be sporadic at best, but I’ll be the crazy woman standing there with an IPad taking pictures! It won’t be a fashion-show of a trip, that’s for sure. But as The Lord allows, I’d like to post updates on our trip.

Though we travel often, it seems, this time is different. For one thing, we’ve been stationary for a year and a half, so it will be quite a change for us. Also, we’ll be doing school on the road this time. Now, that’s not unusual, except that this time we won’t be taking our RV. That means, not just home school, but “van school” – and that’s NO Sunday School picnic. Last time I did that was in 2001, when I had several younger children. Every time we hit a turn or my hubby hit the brakes hard, math manipulatives went rolling to the front of the van! Since I have older children now (the youngest is in 7th grade) I hope it will be easier. But if it isn’t, I’ll let you know.

The romance of a very long trip can die quickly, usually after the second week. Most folks don’t understand what it’s like to have a harrowing drive through horrid traffic, show up at a church breathless, and be asked to sing. Now I love singing, but it can be difficult when you’re mind is still thinking about the awful accident you just passed. Yes, there are lots of wonderful sights to see, lots of fun people to meet, and some really good times, but there are also the challenges of living in your car, getting lost, or feeling like you can’t stand another moment of driving.

Right now, my days are filled with frenzied cleaning and preparation - lists, lists, and more lists. I have to make sure I remember every school book known to man, since we’ll be starting school (with three students) on the last week in August, and every other thing I could need for 2 months. I mean, how could I possibly forsee the future to know what we’ll need? I definitely need to pray, as well. The Lord is able to remind me of things I may need.

I have an entire spiral notebook reserved for my trip. On the first page is my list of everything I need to do before I go, and on the other pages I have headings, “School Items,” “Kitchen Items,” “Food Items,” etc. On the first page, I wrote dates that these actions need to be done by, and of course am crossing them out as I complete them. I’m also working with a calendar (which is in the back of the notebook) and writing down each days assignments there. It’s not very high-tech, nor is it incredibly neat, but it will ge the job done.

On a side note, one of the meetings we’re going to is the one during which I wrote the children’s book, The Umbrella Story. I had been praying about a way to help my young people understand what to do when we (their parents) make mistakes. During this meeting, it all came to me – the young lady with her beloved umbrella, her discovery that it has a rip, and her trip to the Maker, who eventually helps her discover how to mend the hole. By God’s grace, I wrote the entire story in an hour and a half.

It’s a wonderful analogy that even young people understand. If you haven’t already read it, you can get a copy here or here.

Next time, Lord willing, we’ll be about ready to loose our moorings and head out!

Are you taking a trip this summer? What is your most memorable event that happened to you on a trip?

Linking up with: Monday: Moms the Word, Tuesday: Titus Two Tuesdays, The TimeWarp Wife, Messy Marriage Wednesday: To Love Honor and Vacuum
 

5 Must-Read Books!

I love to read, and lately I’ve read some really good books! God has allowed me to rub shoulders with some very wonderful people via their stories, and I’m so thankful to be able to pass along to you some of my very favorites!! (Side note: This post contains links to products that I have read, enjoy, and recommend, but they are not affiliate links. I get nothing from recommending them.)

 

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When I was younger, I read every single book on parenting I could find. Some were helpful. In fact, some were very helpful! But some were not. I remember particularly one book that made me feel like the worst parent in the world. I liked the cover, and the description looked like it would be very helpful. But reading the book made me feel as though I had not only made a ton of mistakes, but I my children would be ruined completely unless I did everything the book said! Maybe it’s not quite as dramatic as that, but at the time, it sure seemed that way. After that, it was awhile before I picked up another parenting book.

I found that discouraging books cause me to expect more out of my husband and children than they are able to give. Friction ensues, and the whole family unit is put out of whack. I remember one book that said that a father should start a business, so he could teach his boys to work. Well, my husband is a missionary and we travel a lot, and he was unable to start his own business. I became frustrated with my husband, until I learned to accept him and his calling the way it is.

Contrast that book with an encouraging one.

An Encouraging book:

A) Gives you hope – You’re not alone, and you CAN do it! The author doesn’t come off as a know-it-all, someone who is “imparting his vast store of wisdom” to you – he is a human being, just like you, who has gone through the same things and has come out on the other side SUCCESSFUL! He tells us, not how we should do it and why we’re not doing it right, but how he did it, and how we can do it too!

B) The message from the author is not, “I’ve always been awesome,” but “I was born with certain weaknesses in these areas, and this is how I was able to overcome them.” He does what he does in spite of all his learning problems, communication difficulties, and financial setbacks.

C) Points you toward a definite, reachable goal. It may even break those goals down into smaller, even more manageable parts. Many How-to books fit into this category.

Here are some of my faves:

1. Success despite setbacks – Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover is the result of his filing for bankruptcy, and then learning a huge lesson on how to really handle money before it goes and handles him. It’s a boy-meets-money, boy-loses-money, boy-gets-money again story, with Dave owing his ultimate success to things he’s learned from simple folks and their common sense.

2. Survival against all odds - Marcus Lutrell’s Lone Survivor. (we downloaded in and used the “replace with” key to change they cuss words into more acceptable alternatives, since we read it out loud as a family.) The book follows his training all the way from his childhood to the incredible mission, in which he alone survives. The character of these men is inspiring and amazing!

3. Learning to Succeed Despite Flaws in Your Character – Frank Bettger’s How I Went From Failure to Success in Selling. This is my husband’s favorite book, because he can identify with Frank’s failures, and, although we are in the ministry, we are showing Christ to a hungry world, and we can’t afford to fail because of our own character flaws.

4. Losing Weight By Eating - Trim Healthy Mama, by Serene and Pearl. Their book describes how people have used their program to lose weight while not feeling deprived one bit! I’ve been using their program since January myself. I’ve wanted to shed the stubborn last ten pounds, and gain control over my hypoglycemia, which seems to dictate everything I do. Their book, and the program they use (and now I use!) has helped me tremendously! In fact, I am finally down to the same weight I was when I got married, and I get to eat chocolate cake every night! (If you want to know the recipe, ask in the comments section!)

5. And my personal favorite: Learning to Parent Despite the Way I was Raised. OK, so this is my own book, Lionproof: Keeping Your Children From the Claws of the Devil. Many of the folks I interviewed did not come from ideal homes, and yet they still are serving The Lord today, and are raising their own children to love and serve The Lord. These young people understood that their parents were not perfect, but they were able to sort through the bad to find the good, and then clung to the good.

I remember speaking to one parent of a godly second generation Christian. I knew she had had a very rough childhood, and struggled with confidence regularly. I asked, “What did you do that pointed your children in the direction of serving The Lord?” She looked puzzled, thought a minute, and replied, “I don’t know. Prayed??” But when I talked to her adult son, he was able to point to his mom and tell me, “Yeah, I know she’s not perfect. But she was real. She loves God with all her heart, and I knew that’s what I wanted to do, too.”

Don’t read books that make you feel like a maggot. Read encouraging books that will lift you up and give you hope.
And if you haven’t gotten your copy of Lionproof yet, you can get it today!

Question: What good books have you read lately? Why?

Linking up with: Monday: Moms the Word, Tuesday: Titus Two Tuesdays, The TimeWarp Wife, Messy Marriage Wednesday: To Love Honor and Vacuum
 

Travel Tips: Taking an Ounce of Home

Have a summer trip planned? We do – and I want to be careful not to forget anything! Here are some travel tips to help you bring an ounce of home with you.

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Got travel plans? We do.

We’ll be taking a two-month trip this summer, to do a little mini-furlough on the advice of our pastor. Praise The Lord He has provided someone to come and interim pastor for us while we’re gone.

Your trip may not be a two-month one, but if you’re taking a trip this summer, there are definitely some things you want to bring. In my mind, an ounce of home is worth a pound of away.

Here are some travel tips for you:

1) Bring something with you that reminds you of home – a pillow, a favorite blanket, a stuffed animal

2) bring a scent along that makes you happy and comfortable – every evening, my daughter gives me “my scents” and t makes me feel warm and cozy, ready for sleep.

3) plan your meals carefully – being away from home does not mean you have a license to binge. It’s not good for you or your family, so plan your meals carefully. If you have to go out, plan on eating real food, rather than junk.

4) If you need some essentials to help you sleep, make sure you bring them – if you haven’t noticed, sleep is a big priority. Perhaps it’s because, with 7 children, I’ve had my share of sleepless nights, but I’m not at all interested in miserable nights, and would do almost anything to avoid them. Fan, blanket, night light…you get the picture.

5) Remember that bugs are everywhere, so bring bug killing spray! I couldn’t sleep if I knew the place was full of roaches!

6) Bring a candle, and make sure you have soothing music on your device before you leave. Did I say soothing? How about romantic?

7) something to do – an interesting book is a must, plus any devices you enjoy. For me, I also include pens and paper for writing, or note-taking, since I enjoy an odd mix of paper and electronics.

8) Don’t forget your workout clothes and some gear! Unless you actually PLAN on not working out at all, or if you’re only gone a few days, plan on working out! Don’t let a trip make you flabby. In our trips, I spend enough time in the car that I begin to stiffen up like a dead fish, so I’m going to throw some exercise bands in my suitcase.

9) The kids will need their own version of all of the above. The very worst of the worst is when you forget that beloved blanket and lil Margot simply refuses to go to sleep without it….AND you’ll be away for a whole week! Don’t let this happen to you!

We may not be leaving on our trip for another 5 weeks or so, but I’m already starting to plan. You can be sure I’ll be working on these and other travel tips!

Do you have any travel plans this summer? How can you “take an ounce of home” with you?

Linking up with: Monday: Moms the Word, Tuesday: Titus Two Tuesdays, The TimeWarp Wife, Messy Marriage Wednesday: To Love Honor and Vacuum

5 Things Faith Does

Driving our bus down a 2-lane highway in lower Michigan, my husband struggled to keep the rig on the road. There had been a violent storm the night before, and the weather was still quite finicky. The wind was gusting quite a bit, turning our bus-turned motorhome into a land-roving sail.

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While he wrestled with the steering wheel, we continued our normal daily routines. It was not long after lunch, and both the dishwasher and washing machine were humming, while the kids sat in various favorite spots enjoying a book or writing on the computer. I sat on the couch beside several kids, while one of the girls walked from the back bedroom toward the front, absolutely unaware that the course of our lives would change dramatically in the next few seconds.

I heard my husband shout, “Look out!” and the next instant felt the bus shudder. Time seemed to crawl as I looked up and saw that the windshield was shattering. For what seemed like an eternity, I could see leafy arms reaching toward my cowering daughter, as several branches came through the hole that was once the windshield. The noise created by splintering glass, kids shouting and my husband yelling filled the air. Within seconds, My Beloved pulled the bus to a stop, although he could hardly see the road.

Even before the bus was stopped, however, several of the children began crying and screaming, blood oozing from various places. It was an instant I will never forget.

In just a second of time, a tree had fallen right in the path of our bus, not even hitting the ground, but striking our windshield. At that moment, my life was totally out of my control.

Jochebed, Moses’ mother, had a similar life-changing situation. In Exodus 2, we see that the king, Pharoah, had already made his slaves’ lives very difficult, but now, in an effort to keep their numbers down, he ordered that all baby boys be thrown into the river to drown. Jochebed’s life, which had never really been easy, had suddenly been turned upside-down.

Have you ever felt that way? Maybe you’ve never had an accident, or maybe you’ve never experienced a life-changing moment, but I’m sure somewhere along the line, you’ve experienced times when you’ve felt that your life was totally out of your hands. Perhaps it was a financial situation, or sickness of a spouse or child, or perhaps something broke, and you had a difficult situation to deal with. We’ve all had times when the life we were living at the time took a sudden turn, and we were now completely in God’s Hands.

Even though she was in a awful situation, Jochebed chose to live by faith. She put her life into God’s Hands…and her faith altered the entired course of history.

What happens when we choose to live by faith?

When we choose to live by faith, we choose to place our lives in God’s control. Jochebed understood that there is no better place to be than in the center of God’s Will; no stronger Hands to be held by the the Hands that made the Universe.

We choose action over passivity. Like Jochebed, whose faith moved her to make a little boat for her baby boy, I could not just sit around after the accident. Within seconds, I popped one child in the shower to rinse off his glass, while someone else began brushing off another child. Still a third started sweeping up all the glass.

We choose the Word of God over our emotions. Jochebed had the promise that God’s people would someday be delivered from bondage and go to the Promised Land. Her emotions probably told her that her efforts were worthless, but God’s Word never changes. “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee…

We choose miracles over the mundane. While every other Israelite mother was throwing their baby boys in the river, Jochobed chose a very unusual route. Her results were miraculous – her boy not only lived, but she was PAID to take care of him!

We choose to live a life of significance, rather than to fade into the obscure. All of the peole in the Hall of Faith, Hebrews 11 (including Jochebed) were people of significance – not because they were powerful people, but because they were people who exercised faith.

God took care of us that day along the side of the road. Amazingly, only the Rocket Boy had to go to the ER to have glass removed! Two months later, the bus was all fixed up and ready to go, and we were able to continue our journey. God is good!

Personally, I want to live a life of significance, to make the world a better place because I’ve been in it. It can only happen as I live a life, like Jochebed, of faith.

Linking up with: Monday: Moms the Word, Tuesday: Titus Two Tuesdays, The TimeWarp Wife, Messy Marriage Wednesday: To Love Honor and Vacuum

The Truth About Building Relationships

Building relationships is like opening Dad’s workroom. Messy? Oh, yeah. But as a kid, all I could see were possibilities!

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When I was a kid, there was a room in the basement which always drew my attention. One day I was wandering around without anything to do (I could NEVER imagine that now!) and I happened to open the door to my Dad’s workroom.

Opening the door just a crack revealed a glorious mess, and the brown smell of wood shavings mixed with the musty smell of damp cinderblock walls. I glanced around the room and my eyes beheld many wondrous things: tools of all shapes and sizes – hammers, saws, chisels, files, and many electric tools as well, stacks of planks, 2x4s, and smaller blocks of wood, and on the ceiling were baby food jars holding various screws, nails, and bolts of every type. The two worktables were strewn with various projects in different stages of done-ness – a fan that had been taken apart because the switch didn’t work, a vacuum cleaner that needed its belt replaced, and several broken toys waited for my Dad’s attention.

I slowly entered the room and flicked on the light, making the whole mess appear even more awesome. Soon, I was pulling a plank out of the woodstack, and I cleared myself a spot on the worktable and began to make my very own creation.

Building relationships is a little like opening up Dad’s old workroom. Everything looks scattered, broken, and messy – complete with sawdust and wood shavings! But, oh, the potential that is there in that workroom! As a young person, I could easily envision the many wonderful things I could build. Birdhouses, go-carts, tables, and shelves were among my ideas, and some of them even made it to fruition. But none would have been built at all without me opening up the door, seeing the awesome room, and getting to work.

Building Relationships takes time. I never built a go-cart overnight, although I tried really hard. Well, I take it back – I DID build a go-cart in just a few hours once, but it only got about 100 feet down the road before it collapsed. (Lesson #453: what goes together quickly comes apart even quicklier!) But building relationships takes time. Whether you want to reach out to a co-worker, or have a better marriage, or build a bridge to your children, it takes time. A truly good go-cart never gets built in a day, and neither will a good marriage or relationship.

Building Relationships take work. Of course, when I was building go-carts, my work was so mixed with play that it was hard to tell the difference. Perhaps that’s the key. Perhaps there should be so much play mixed in with our relationship building, that it hardly seems like work at all. We attack the project with so much gusto and enjoy the process that it is thoroughly enjoyable.

Building Relationships is a process. It takes time to build a go-cart that will take you flying down the hill to the envy of your friends, and it takes work to do it. But the whole process can be enjoyable, not just the end result. Which brings me to my next point:
Relationship building is actually the goal. If we take the time and work on our relationships, playing and enjoying the relationships as we build them, we will find that the process is the goal. We may never reach the goal – having the coolest go-cart in the neighborhood, because your friends down the street may be building one at the same time. And in my case, my friends always had better raw materials to work with, because our large family never allowed for really nice stuff. But in reality, it didn’t matter if I had the best go-cart or not – I had a lot of fun (and learned a lot) in the process. Enjoy the process of building relationships, because the process really is the goal.

Building Relationships is a continuing process. Once I had my beloved go-cart “finished,” there were always little tweaks that needed done – oiling the wheels, re-tying the ropes when they come off (remember those ropes you would tie onto a 2×4 that would steer? Lesson #454: Always make sure your knots are tied TIGHT before you ride down the steep hill!) and perhaps even painting the name “Cruiser” on the side! That just means that the fun just keeps on going! In relationship building, there are always little things we can do to improve, both ourselves and out relationships. The fun just goes on and on.

I had seen the potential, when I opened the door to Dad’s workroom. I had hammered, sawed, and bled in that workroom for my creation. After days and days of work, I finally closed the door to Dad’s workroom, lugging my newest g-cart up the basement steps carefully. I was thrilled. Oh yeah, I was smiling. And when I rode down the hill on my very own go-cart, the wind never felt so good.

Question: Can you think of something you build when you were young? How did you feel after you built it?

Linking up with: Monday: Moms the Word, Tuesday: Titus Two Tuesdays, The TimeWarp Wife, Messy Marriage Wednesday: To Love Honor and Vacuum

Choose to be Real

The choices we make in our lives impact our future happiness. One of the most important choice, the choice to be real, is by far the most far-reaching decision we can make, impacting generations to come. In a world of pretenders, let’s choose to be real.

The ancient tradition of the Olympic Flame became the longest and most popular relay in the world in the early 1900′s. Lit from a concave mirror in Olympia, Greece, the flame is carried to the host city and is used to light the Olympic Caldron. The final torchbearer, who often sumbolizes Olympic ideals, is kept a secret until the very last minute. Bt the time the flame reaches the stadium, excitement and fervor has reached a fever pitch. But in the 1956 Summer Olympics in Melbourne, Australia, something very supriseing occurred.

On its way from Cairnes to Melbourne, the torch had already gone through several mishaps. Runners battled heat exheaustion, thunderous downpours, and a finicky flame. But it was in Sydney that the flame made Olympic history.

Harry Dillon, a cross-country titleholder, was suppposed to take the flame to the mayor, Pat Hills, who was prepared to make a speech before passing the torch along to its next runner. Excitement ran high in Sydney, with 30,000 people lining the streets waiting for the torch to arrive. Police escorts, reporters, and multitudes of anxious onlookers fidgeted in the tense moments.

Finally the runner emerged, carrying his flame with a proud, light step. Applause and cheers rippled through the crowd as they surged forward with cameras blazing to catch this momentous event. In an effort to protect the runner, the police surrounded him and escorted him as he lightly ran through the streets.

With the confidence of an athlete, the runner bounded up the steps and handed the flame to the waiting mayor. Mr. Hills smiled, thanked the runner and turned toward the rowd, clearning his throat to make his speech. Before he could oen his mouth, however, someonw stepped up to him and whispered something startling:

“That’s not the torch!”

The mayor looked startled and stared at the object in his hand. Suddenly it dawned on him that what he was holding was nothing but a chair leg topped with a plum-pudding can, with the “mighty Olympic flame” coming from a pair of kerosene-soaked underwear!

What everyone thought was the real thing, was NOT the real thing. As a matter of fact, the prankster was so concinceing that the police, the crowd, and even the mayor were all fooled!

Our Christian life can be a lot like that false Olympic torch. We can have lots of people convinced that we are really Christians, at least for a time. We may have cameras clicking, the applause of the crowd, and even a police escort, but someday SOMEONE will realize that we don’t have the real thing. Time reveals the truth. (excerpt from Lionproof: Keeping Your Children from the Claws of the Devil)

Being a real live authentic Christian is the first and foremost way to pass down our faith to our children.

What are some of the marks of a true Christian?

1. Righteous Living (See Acts 4:34-35, Acts 5:1-10)
2. A Heart for Souls (see Mark 16:15)
3. An Abiding Walk (see John 15:1-8)
4. A Loving Spirit (see John 13:34,35, John 15:12)

One day I listened as Joanne, a 23-year old graduate from home school, told me, “My parents were REAL. Christianity was their life, and more than anything else that stood out to me.”

Herein lies perhsp one of the greatest challenges of parenting: that of really, truly, honestly believing what we say we believe as parents. If we are to change the world, it must begin at home. If we are to bring up young people who are passionate about living daily in the presence of the Almighty God, then we mst ourselves experience that same burnign passion.

It is realness, it is true transparency, and it is life.

In a world full of pretenders, let’s choose realness – let’s choose life.

What are some other marks of a Christian you can think of?

Linking up with: Monday: Moms the Word,  Tuesday: Titus Two Tuesdays, The TimeWarp Wife, Messy Marriage Wednesday: To Love Honor and Vacuum

Use What You’ve Got

Becoming All God Wants You to Be

God is doing some tremendous things in my life lately, and some of that overflow is going to end up on this blog. While it’s very easy to become mired in the cancer of “can’t, sir,” it takes a special courage to use what you’ve got and watch God make it into something wonderful. I pray we all have even just a little ember of that courage.

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One day, God gave a huge responsability to a very reluctant man. “Go and speak to my people,” He told the him. The man was confused. “What if they won’t listen to me? What if they don’t believe me?” he questioned. God’s response is absolutely striking: “What is that in thing hand?” Moses looked in his hand and saw nothing unusual, nothing worth mentioning. But God saw differently. He saw something He could use, if only Moses would use it. Moses’ simple staff became his mighty tool throughout the decades as he led the Israelites out of slavery and to the brink of the Promised Land. His common staff – that weathered, worn, piece of wood – became the centerpiece of the miracles of God.

It’s easy to neglect what we have and concentrate on what we DON’T have. How do I know? I’ve been there, done that. Sometimes I even think I write the blog about it!

But life is full of opportunities, and people are full of needs. How can we help folks? How can we be everything God want us to be? Even more, how can we help our own families?

By using what we have.

Right now, I have 3 teenage girls at home (and of course the Rocket Boy is 10) and I want to find ways for them to earn money, especially without having to go get a job. Funny thing…I’ve been telling them for years that they need to find something they love to do and start their own business, and I’ve been praying for The Lord to open some doors.

Well, I realized the other day that I need to put some feet to those prayers and help them.

I thought to myself, How can I help my girls so they can earn some money? I wondered what I had that could inspire them to launch out to start getting business on their own. I may not have much, I reasoned, but I do have time, and I can get behind them so that they will feel confident in trying. It may not be much, but at least it’s something.

So the other day we sat down last week at Starbucks and had a brainstorming session. It wasn’t long, but it was long enough and encouraging enough for one of my girls to go ahead and courageously post her new photography business online. And wouldn’t you know, she’s been swamped with requests! Now she’s got folks booked for the next few weeks, and she’ll be busy doing something she loves, making money at the same time. Isn’t God good?

The moral of the story? If we just use what we have, and work with our own assets, we can be what God wants us to be, and bless our families tremendously.

Using what we have means that we don’t waste the talent God has given us. Have you ever given someone a Christmas present, only to find out later that they stuck it in their closet and never even used it once? Your thought is, Well, that didn’t go over well. Guess they don’t care. And sometimes we’re tempted to think, Apparently they don’t think very much of ME. God has given us many tremendous gifts, and it shows our gratefulness to Him when we use what He has given us.

Using what we have means we’re willing to obey. How many of us are tempted to think, Well, because I don’t have such-and-such a talent, I can’t do anything useful. I’ll just sit here like a lump. It’s easy to get into that mindset, especially when we’re not stellar in an area, we’re more like Average Janes. But if God wanted us to use out talents, would we? Would we be willing to obey, even if we’re not the best? Our simple obedience is more important to The Lord than blasting fireworks.

Using what we have guarentees that we’ll have more! It’s almost as though The Lord says, If you’re going to use what I give you, I’ll go ahead and bless you even more! In fact, He even says in His Word, “Thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will put thee over many things!”

We’ve seen that work in our lives. As a family, we’re working on getting out of debt. It’s no small task, and especially requires diligence in even the smallest expenditures. It’s been difficult to sometimes say No when we’d much rather say Yes, but I’ve noticed that as we’ve been faithful with our pennies, we’ve been blessed with little bits more here and there. What a blessing!

I could give many examples of this: we’re not a talented family, but we love to sing together. As we sing more and more, it sounds better and better, and, though we’ll never be “rich and famous” (who wants that?!?) we can glorify The Lord with the voices He’s given us.

Today, God is asking you and me a question, “What is that in thine hand?” Is it just an ordinary staff? Is it a common everyday piece of equipment? God can use it as a mighty tool in His Hand, if we’re willing to let it be used.

So, I’m going to work more on using what I have, even here on this blog. I enjoy writing, and I enjoy research, so I can use what I have and do what I love, and bless others at the same time.

Question: What has God given you that you can use for His glory? Or, have you ever seen The Lord bless you in a special way because you used a talent He has given you?

Linking up with: Monday: Moms the Word,  Tuesday: Titus Two Tuesdays, The TimeWarp Wife, Messy Marriage Wednesday: To Love Honor and Vacuum

Getting Along with Others

We all need help in getting along with others! This is a lesson which I’ve been teaching to my children, as The Lord allows. It’s been a great study so far, and I think has been a help to us in gettng along with each other as a family, and getting along with others in our daily contacts.

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The other day, I was gone for a few hours, and the hubby and kids were left to themselves for awhile. When it was time to get dinner ready, my man organized a big cleanup, and, with everyone working together, got the place neat as a library in just a few minutes! Teamwork was the key!

Getting along is extremely important in life. If we understood the necessity of learning to get along, it will help us realize how good it really can be. Here are some of my thoughts about why we should learn to get along:

1. No man is an island – we are in constant contact with others, and need others to help us go through life

2. The lost world is watching us as Christians, looking to see if we get along better than the rest of humanity.

3. The Lord taught us to “live at peace with one another,” and to “love one another.”

4. We get many benefits by learning to get along with others. Here are just a few: fewer fights, less arguments, more friends, get included in activities more often, more fun, have better relationships, enjoy life more, etc. etc. etc.

Like I said, I’ve been working with my family about these things, and it has helped us get along better. If you take a few minutes to share them with your family, I’d love to know how it goes!

Question: Can you think of any more benefits of learning to get along with others? Have you taught your children any lessons on getting along? What did you tell them?

Linking up with: Monday: Moms the Word,  Tuesday: Titus Two Tuesdays, The TimeWarp Wife, Messy Marriage Wednesday: To Love Honor and Vacuum