Thursday, December 30, 2010

How Dave Ramsey & Financial Peace University Changed My LIfe

I don't know about you but I was 22 years old when I got married. I wasn't always one for thinking ahead. I had worked several jobs through my college life and I was holding down a job at the time. I was also in very little debt and had the blissful feeling right before entering repayment on my student loans. I thought I had everything under control when it came to money....dunt dunt duh....then I got married.


Not only does getting married change who you are as a person, it changes every other part of your life! I married the man of my dreams but it was more than that. I married into his family. I married into his ministry. I married into his money (or lack there of -- which was more like it). I also married into his debt.

Now Jimmy and I are a unique case. For personal reasons that I won't get into here, Jimmy has a lot of unresolved debt due to theft of his identity as a small child and mounting student loans. Thankfully, he told me about all this before we got married or we could have had WAY more financial problems than we did. As it was, we only had so much income and no plan to make it work, but we had credit cards!

We used our credit cards for a few little extras on our honeymoon and then we paid some of it off. We thought we were fine. Then Jimmy was told he only had four months left of his job and we began to panic. We scrimped and we saved and we put away birthday money and Christmas money. No fun for us that year. By the time the deadline rolled around we had $2000 in savings. I still had a job and I took on another and another. We thought we would be okay, but five months later our savings were gone, our credit cards were almost maxed out, I was working three jobs, Jimmy was still searching, and we still had no plan. It was stressful and frightening! Not to mention all the stress it can put on a new marriage! But we were not alone.

According to USA Today money is one of the top 3 marriage stressers out there. So what are you going to do about it?

In July, I was let go from one of my photography jobs and as a last resort applied to a job as a night monitor at the Missouri Baptist Children's Home. It's not what I wanted and if I got it we would have to leave our wonderful apartment in South County to move to a considerably less desireable (but more affordable) apartment in North County but I had no other hope. I got the job.

In August, we moved to Bridgeton and I started work. While I was in training I learned about Dave Ramsey and Financial Peace University (FPU). God knew what he was doing when He brought me to the Children's Home and put me in Amy's (a die hard Dave fan) training class. As it turned out, Amy taught the FPU class at Ridgecrest Baptist Church. By the end of training, I was desperate to find out more about this class and I knew exactly who to go to.

When class started in September, I had a new job and so did Jimmy. We were prepared to hope that our situation could be different if we were ready to make drastic changes. We eagerly sucked up all the facts and techniques that Dave was willing to teach us and began trying to put them into practice. It was really hard at first and we were frustrated, but we knew where we would be if we quit. By the end of FPU, we had completed Baby Step #1: Put $1000 into an Emergency Fund and had begun Baby Step #2: Pay off Debt Using the Debt Snowball Method. Here we are a little over 3 years later and our life is so different!

Yes, we are still on Baby Step #2 but we have paid off more than $7,000 worth in debt with our limited incomes (guess what ministry doesn't pay much and we both have ministry jobs!). We also live by a budget that we actually know how to make work! We fight less about money (unless someone is just having a greedy or selfish moment). But best of all we have HOPE for the future. Yes, at times things still seem overwhleming, but we have a plan. I know that if we stay the course or do better than planned then we will be debt free (except student loans) in September of 2013. That means that just 6 years from starting we will have paid off more than $75,000 in debt with interest probably closer to $100,000. I think that's pretty remarkable.

I thank God for showing us how to find financial freedom. I thank God for Amy who God used to show us the way. I thank God for Dave Ramsey who God used to give us the tools, and I thank God for my husband, Jimmy, who has been with me all the way.

To find out how Financial Peace University can change your life, visit daveramsey.com or find a class near you!

this blog is dedicated to Shaina Rubin, Dustin Underwood, Shelby Conn, Kevin Little, and all people getting ready to start a new life together. may you get your marriages started off with the strong foundation and tools you need to make life easier and to help your marriages thrive.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Voices of the Faithful: Book 2

This week, I am reviewing "Voices of the Faithful Book 2". If you love the first "Voices of the Faithful" book--like I do--you won't be disappointed by the second volume!

Overview:

"Voices of the Faithful Book 2" is a compilation of devotions written by Southern Baptist Missionaries who serve through the International Mission Board (IMB). They have been called by God and assigned by the IMB to reach the unreached people groups of the world. Many IMB missionaries wrote devotions for this book that tell stories of the work God is doing among their people group and in their own lives as well. The "Voices of the Faithful Book 2" is designed to be a read (one devotion at a time) for a whole year.

Review:

"Voices of the Faithful Book 2" is well-written. The stories are moving and very eye-opening. I particularly like that their is a specific prayer at the end of the devotion which relates to what you have just read rather than being something generic. I felt it lived up to my expectations as someone who has already read and loved "Voices of the Faithful". I also appreciate that the identity of individuals working in high risk areas has been concealed but you don't lose the personal connections in their stories. Hearing about the work of these foreign missionaries will make you smile, laugh, and cry! You never truly know what it's like to give up everything and go serve God in a place that is totally foreign to you until you actually do it, but "Voices of the Faithful Book 2" brings the experience and emotions a bit closer to home.

I give "Voices of the Faithful Boook 2" 4.5 out of 5 stars!

This book was a free copy provided to me by Thomas Nelson Publishing for review purposes.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Tangled Web of Emotions


I don't know about you, but for me today was one of those days when my emotions took me on a whirlwind ride. I was happy. I was sad. I cried and cried and cried some more. It started early in the morning and lasted all day. I was an emotional wreck and there seemed nothing that I could do about it.

I wanted to share with you this little clip of Patsy Clairmont. She is one of the funniest Christian speakers I know and I relate to her. She speaks in a way that I can understand and that touches my heart. In this clip she talks a little about emotions. I wanted to find the full clip but wasn't able to, but if you want to hear more you can always check out her book I Second that Emotion.

Anyway, the most important point she makes is that God created us to have all these different emotions and He accepts us no matter our emotional state. God wraps His arms around me on days like today when I can't stop crying because we had another unsuccessful month of trying to get pregnant and all hope seems lost. He rejoices with me when I am over joyed with a great personally victory and He is there with me at every emotional stop in between. Nothing I can do will surprise Him. There is no emotion I can have that His own Son did not experience (although I know Jesus handled all his without sinning!).

Prayer for today:
Thank you, God, for creating me with the full range of emotions. Thank you for being there with me as I go through these emotions. Please help me to share my joys with others and allow others to build me up when my emotions are not so good. Most of all, God, help me to cast all my cares and emotions on You.  Amen.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Birthdays

December is a month of birthdays in our circle of friends and acquaintances. My birthday was the 4th, my husband's the 5th, Dustin's the 1st, Rebeccah's the 13th, Shelby's the 19th, and most importantly Jesus' on the 25th! There are five or six others that I don't even have the time to mention, but you get the picture. It seems like everyday we have something or someone new to celebrate. For some of us, like Nicholas and Noriah, we celebrate new milestones as they turn 2. For others like Aunt Steiny we celebrate a full life as she turns 70 on the 29th. I was thinking about this today and one particular verse came to my mind...

"The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. 'The LORD is my portion,' says my soul, 'therefore I will hope in Him.'" Lamentations 3:22-24 ESV

Especially in December I can find myself getting so caught up in what I am doing, what I want to do, what I still have to do, and the next thing to celebrate that I lose track of the things that really matter. I should be celebrating the Christ of Christmas everyday because His love and His mercies are new EVERY morning. They are perfect and without end. It's no wonder that we are commanded to, "Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." (1 Thess. 5:16-18 ESV)

So admist this season of rejoicing and celebrating don't forget to enjoy the gifts of God's unfailing love which is new every morning and to rejoice always for this is the will of God.

Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Dragon Spell is Spell Binding

DragonSpell (Dragon Keepers Chronicles, Book 1)When I was browsing the shelves of my local bookstore, I was first drawn to Dragonspell because of the cover art. I love enchantments, fantasy, dragons and adventure. This book looked perfect for me! Within the first few paragraphs I knew I was right. I was going to love this book and I do!

The Dragon Keeper Chronicles, the first of which is Dragonspell, by Donita K. Paulcenters around a former slave girl named Kale and the many friends she meets along her journeys. This book was originally written for grades 4-8, but I was 23 years old the first time I read it and enjoyed it just as much. I just couldn't put the book down. I have since read all of the Dragon Keeper Chronicles and I was very sad when the series came to an end.


The adventures are legendary! The characters are easy to relate to, and you just can't wait for more. The best part is that the books also teach you valuable lessons about faith and purpose as you follow the will of your master and creator.

This book is a must read for the entire family!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Background by Lecrea & C-Lite



"For however exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted." Matthew 23:12

This morning I was listening to the song "Background" by Lecrea and C-Lite that my friend Sarah shared on Facebook. I love Lecrea but I wasn't really expecting the song to speak to me today but it did. The whole point of the song is putting Jesus first and letting Him take the lead in your life rather than trying to be the focus yourself. In the second verse Lecrea says,

"So, just let me shadow you. And just let me trace your lines.
Matter fact just take my pen.
Here, you create my rhymes.
Cuz if I do this by myself I'm scared that I'll succeed.
And no longer trust in You, cuz I only trust in me.
And see, that's how you end up headed to destruction."

I feel like that I have been there many times. How many times have things been going good and I have been so eager to take credit for my life? How often do I forget that my blessings are coming from God when things are easy sailing? It's just so easy to get full of yourself!

Then the song get's to the bridge:

"I know I'm safest when I'm in your will and trust your word.
And I know I'm dangerous when I trust myself; my vision blurred.
And I ain't got no time to play life's foolish games.
Got plenty aims but do they really glorify your name.
And its a shame the way I want to do these things for you, yeah.
Don't even cling to you. Take time to sit and glean from you.
And its seems that you are patient in my ignorance.
If ignorance is bliss, its cuz she never heard of this"

 It's powerful and overwhelming to think about giving God the complete control He should have. That's the whole point! We can best glorify God and be like God when we allow Him to fully takeover our lives. I want to be able to voluntarily say that "I could play the background" and some days are better than others. For now I am striving to get to the point that my live shouts that every SINGLE day! Each day I want to be more and more like Christ. I want to give up more control so that I can truly be like Him. You too can play the background if you will follow Christ.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Holiday Traditions

Christmas TreeIt's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...

Last night I dragged our tree and trimmings out of the basement, cranked up the Christmas music, and started preparing our apartment for the most celebrated holiday of the season. In our house we have a funny little holiday tradition that has developed over the four (going on five) years of our marriage.

Every year, I prepare the place where our tree will "live" for coming weeks. In our current apartment that means I have to haul the loveseat into the spare room/office to make room for the tree. I then get out the bins containing all of our Christmas decorations and turn on some Christmas music -- preferably Bing Crosby to start. Then Jimmy settles down Jimmy sleeping while I assemble tree into his oversized recliner and falls to sleep while I piece together the tree that was given to us our first Christmas together. Once the tree and the lights are up (I put the lights on as I go), Jimmy rouses and we put our ornaments and tinsel on the tree. Each year we each buy an ornament to be our ornament of the year. When we bring them home, I write the corresponding initials and year somewhere on the ornament.

It's funny to see our collection of ornaments. We have the glass balls that we bought to fill the tree as we continued to accumulate ornaments year after year. Then we have the chosen ornaments... Jimmy has an ornament for each of his favorite sports teams--St. Louis Cardinals, KC Royals, KC Chiefs, and UCONN Huskies--and R2D2. My ornaments have primarily been Care Bears but last year I did get a Sleeping Beauty ornament. We also have a few that were given to us by family and friends. We have a great time remembering why we chose the ornaments and the memories from Christmases past as we hang the ornaments on the tree.

Once the ornaments are hung, Jimmy puts the star on top. Then we turn off the lights and cuddle up in Jimmy's recliner watching the tree and listening to the music and we are truly happy.

Jimmy and Christiana Mustion
I know that putting up a tree, decorating with lights, and getting presents isn't what Christmas is really all about but spending this time enjoying each other and our family traditions helps us to focus on the Christ in Christmas.

Monday, November 22, 2010

What If Your Best



This morning my husband shared this song with me. It's called "What If Your Best" and it's by a Christian group called FFH. It really spoke to me. I encourage you to watch the video and see what God says to you, and then take the time to read a little about what God said to me.

Chorus:
I want your best but what if your best is brokenness
Would I be broken?
I want your best but what if less than what I ask
And what I'm hoping?
What if your best is here in the waiting, here in the going thru the motions?
I'll still be trusting all I am, and all have, and nothing less to Potter's hands

I honestly can't tell you how many times I have asked these questions lately. It seems like things aren't going my way and maybe God isn't even listening. Who knows? Oh yeah, God does! Sometimes it's all we can do to believe that God is the Master and He doesn't need our help. Thankfully He chooses to use us and He does care about us and does want His best for us. A lot of times it can be confusing and we might find ourselves thinking, "Really, God, this is your best?" We forget that we are living in the midst of the storm. When the storm passes and we can finally see the rainbow maybe then we will have a better point of view.

I know it's hard! I'm there right now. There are things in my life that I would really like to see happen. It scares me that some of the things I dream may not be in God's best plan for me. Only time will tell. Until then I need to trust and to follow and to obey because God will give me His best.

He promises us that in Jeremiah 29:11-13, "'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.'"

God wants us to have His best for us for two reasons:
1. When He gives us His best it brings Him glory
2. When He gives us His best it gives us a hope and a future

There are a lot of "what ifs" in life but if we dwell on them we miss the joy of "what is".

Thank God for what He has planned for you--even if you don't know what that is. Know that it IS His best.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Follow Christ



I was thinking about this song this morning. It talks about following Christ no matter what battles you face or where he leads you. Sometimes you don't know where you are going when you are following Christ.

That is the interesting thing about following someone, if you are focused on them then you can't see around them. You only see them in front of you. You are fully depending on them to lead you to the correct destination. That's why it's important that you are following the right person. I had a friend who punctured her car radiator because she was following someone blindly. When they swerved she was too close to swerve herself and drove over a piece of metal that was lying in the road. Thankfully, we never have to worry about Christ leading us into situations where we puncture our spiritual radiators -- that only happens when we leave Christ to follow someone else or we get distracted.

Are you following Christ today? Where is He leading you? Are you being a good follower or are you getting distracted by what's going on around you?

Focus on Christ and follow Him.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Let's Be Thankful

As Americans many of us have grown up knowing about and experiencing Thanksgiving. Many of us gather together with our families, and we eat and eat until we couldn’t possibly take another bite. Once we have completed our eating rituals, we might fall asleep from all the turkey or we might find the energy to watch the football game. Eventually the family members leave and a couple of weeks later you finally run out of Thanksgiving leftovers, and Thanksgiving passes into distant memory as we begin to prepare for Christmas. The thing that we too often forget is that Thanksgiving was specfically set aside as a day to give thanks.


A few years ago, my family started a new tradition. We had always done the family thing and the food thing, but we had never done this before. We never stopped to give thanks. Now wait a minute! I’m not saying that we were complete heathens and didn’t stop to pray! What I am saying is that now we gather before the meal and we stand in a BIG family circle, we hold hands, we go around the circle, and each of us says at least one specific thing we are thankful for this year. The first time we did it I honestly thought it was a little corny. Now I love it. It’s the one time a year when I know I will hear my family speak from the heart and we all turn back and give thanks to God no matter where life has taken us.

Make time to stop and give thanks this year. You never know what God might do!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

God Given Talent...Literally

I don't know about you but I love being creative! It feels good to take supplies into my hands and to make something from them. It doesn't matter if I am using pencil and paper to sketch or material to sew, when I see an outcome that I like it makes me excited and proud. I am so thankful that God gave us to enjoy the abilities He has given us.


What I was thinking about today is this...How true is the saying "God given talent"?

Then I remembered the story of the building on the tent of meeting. If you check out Exodus 31, you will find a detailed description of the creation of the tent of meeting. It talks about the materials that should be used and the measurements and the decorations, but in the midst of all of this there are six verses that stood out to me...

"Then the LORD said to Moses, “See, I have chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills— to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, to cut and set stones, to work in wood, and to engage in all kinds of crafts. Moreover, I have appointed Oholiab son of Ahisamak, of the tribe of Dan, to help him. Also I have given ability to all the skilled workers to make everything I have commanded you..." Exodus 31:1-6

God LITERALLY (my husbands second favorite word) gave them the talent and artistic ability to serve Him. I believe that God still gives us the talents we need to serve Him. Sometimes it's music. Sometimes it's the ability to write great stories. Sometimes it's the ability to draw or create great craft items. Whatever it is that you are great at God has given you that talent. Don't forget to give it back to Him by doing His work with the abilities He has given you.

After all...It's God given talent!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Time Flies

I was turning in my time card today when it really struck home that October is over. It’s time to pull out the winter coats and sweaters (unless you live in my house which is cold year round) and prepare for a long, cold winter. The fall semester is half over and the holidays will be fast upon us.

Boy! Does time fly!

It’s no wonder that the Bible tells us that we are like the mist. In James 4:14 it says, “Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” Life is fleeting. It flies by before we know what’s going on and sooner—rather than later—it will be gone completely.

I know one of these days I won’t be saying “Wow, this month went fast!” Instead I will be saying, “Where did my life go?” I want to have a worthwhile answer for that question when it comes. Carpe Diem.

Seize the Day!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Wait for the Lord

“Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.” Psalm 27:14


Wait. How many millions of times have we heard that?! Life is all about hurrying up and waiting or so it seems. We have to wait until we’re older. Wait until we have a job. Wait until we’re married.

Wait upon the Lord. This simple phrase gave me pause. Do I really wait upon the Lord or do I get impatient and jump in and do my own thing because God isn’t fast enough?

Jimmy likes to use this example when he talks about waiting on the Lord… If Jimmy really, really wanted a brand new flat screen TV and he went out and bargained shopped it (that’s what we do in our house). Then he finds an awesome deal where the TV will only cost $700 instead of $900 so he comes back to talk to me about it. Jimmy asks me if it’s okay to buy this $700 TV. I don’t say anything. Does that mean he has the “OK” to go and buy the TV? No way! Just because I don’t give an immediate answer doesn’t mean that I am giving approval. Jimmy needs to wait.

It’s the same with God. Just because He doesn’t say “Yes” right away or He isn’t granting our requests like an all-powerful genie doesn’t mean that we should take things into our own hands. Neither does it mean that He doesn’t hear us. He simply wants us to wait. In Psalm 27, God says we are to be strong and take heart and wait. Don’t give into the temptation to give up! Be strong! Be patient! God will send you His answer in His time and in His way.

“Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.” Psalm 27:14

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

from Scratch: My Quest, My Welcome

This is my friend's blog which is just getting started. Check it out! I know it's going to be awesome.

from Scratch: My Quest, My Welcome: "Welcome to my Quest! I am a married, 27 year old mother of two...who desperately needs a piece of the pie for herself. So I turn to persona..."

Monday, October 11, 2010

A Word from "She Seeks"

Today I wanted to share with you an article which really spoke to me. I am a regular reader of the "She Seeks" blog which is a compilation of many different female writers who take turns writing and vlogging (video blogging) about the things God is teaching them in their lives. The article really struck a chord with me today and I would like to share with you what Ali has to say.

a real, raw, and honest inspirational entry

I was at Starbucks the other day, minding my own business, when I was suddenly surrounded by what I could only describe as a big flock of lovebirds. In every direction couples were walking hand in hand, strolling the mall, laughing, smooching, and just… being together. I felt like pulling out a giant megaphone, standing on the table and making a special announcement: “ATTENTION ALL LOVERS: please withhold any physical display of affection or else leave the premises. Thank you.”

I pretended to be disgusted, but the feeling registering deep inside was that of loneliness. I wondered if that would ever be me — with someone else. I have been waiting ever so patiently on God’s timing, and most of the time I honestly feel fine. I am enjoying the special blessings that come along with the ‘season of singleness.’ But then there are those moments when it feels like things are moving along at a snail’s pace. You know, those times when you just want to march straight up to heaven and shout at the top of your lungs, “Hurry up already!”

So what are we supposed to do when our desires – and emotions that come with them – bubble up to the surface of our souls like the foam of a root beer float? Pretend like they are not there? Shove them under the rug and ignore them? Put on a smile and feign happiness?

Then as in now, I am reminded of Jesus, and how he dealt with periods of waiting. His journey on earth wasn’t a bed of roses, but of reality – living in a fallen world ridden with pain and darkness. Rather than having an artificial response to these earthly experiences, Jesus was real, raw and utterly honest about the deep well of emotion He felt. He wept. He cried. He expressed anguish and anger.

If Jesus, the Son of God, experienced such valleys of intense emotion while He waited for God’s purposes to unfold in their proper time, how much more us? Through His example, it is clear, not only that we will face moments of “long-suffering,” but also that God does not expect us to suppress our emotions. He wants us to express them-to Him.

I love the words from the Psalmist who wrote, “Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge” (Psalm 62:8). Part of showing our trust in God is pouring out our hearts to Him. This is something very practical we can put into practice each day. All it requires is that we be real with God, approaching Him with a raw honesty like Jesus did. Feeling down in the dumps? Tell Him why. Is your heart troubled? Share it with Him. Tired, weary, lost or alone? Invite Him into those deep crevices of your soul and allow Him be your strength, comforter, healer and friend. He is just waiting to put His arm around us in those tougher moments and say, “My child, I am here with you. It’s going to be alright.” He desires nothing more than to be a part of our world – but it’s up to us to let Him in.

I left Starbucks that day with a feeling other than loneliness in my heart. No matter how low or lonely I felt, I could rest in the fact that I was never truly alone. And dear sister, so can you.


Resources…
The Bible
“During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission.” (Hebrews 5:7)

“…but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” (Isaiah 40:31)

“The spiritual life does not remove us from the world but leads us deeper into it.” — Henri J.M Nouwen

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Ready for Review

This week I have been working extra hard to get my graphic design portfolio ready for review. Why am I doing this? It’s simple. I have to have two portfolio reviews done in order to qualify to participate in portfolio day and I have to participate in portfolio review.

Right now I am in the process of finding every piece of artwork I have done and every single photograph that I have taken and compiling them into a massive collection of works. Then I will go through and cut all the items that are absolutely atrocious and the ones that I would rather die than show to the professors conducted my review interviews. The rest will all go for evaluation. Then I will get the plain truth. Am I good enough?

I think this is the same question we ask God. We stock pile all the good things that we do for God and we present them to Him and say, “Look what I’ve done!” and we wait for a cosmic pat on the back and a stamp of approval. Am I good enough, God? Will you sign off on me?
That’s not how God works. He doesn’t evaluate us based on performance or merit or talent or lack of talent. He evaluates on one basis. Do we meet His one requirement? I don’t know. Have you asked Jesus to come and forgive your sins and be an active part of your life? Yes, that’s awesome! You pass! Anything else you do is just a compliment to the fact that you have Christ in your life. No, then you better re-evaluate your spiritual portfolio. Without that key piece you will never get a seal of approval and you will never exhibit in heaven. If you want in then you have to meet the requirements. God is standing there waiting to accept you, but first you must accept His Son.

CLICK HERE to Learn How to Become a Christian.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Duck Tales


I don’t know if you have ever done anything even a little bit crazy, but let me tell you that I have. The silliest thing is that it was all over something so small. Last Friday, Jimmy and I went to Breadeaux with two of the college couples. Jimmy really loves Breadeaux and he hadn’t had it for quite some time and we wanted to do something special so we thought – Breadeaux it is!

Now if you don’t know, Breadeaux is French style pizza and they specialize in small towns, but we live in Saint Louis. So the nearest Breadeaux is about 45 minutes from our house. SO we all got in the car and took a drive to Milstadt, Illinois, just for pizza. I know crazy! Once we were in town we passed Happy Days Icecream. We figured we had come this far, why not have some dessert. After dinner we stopped to get icecream, and that’s when I saw them…

Cute. Adorable. Tiny. Miniature. Rubber Ducks! Shaina, Shelby, and I instantly fell in love! We each purchased a couple of ducks from the vending machine and gave them cute little nicknames. I got Cow Duck (white with brown spots) and Edward Cullen Duck (Black with White Fangs) that day. They even rode on the dashboard all the way home!

The thing is… When you find something so cute and adorable and you fall in love then you are always going to want more. Therefore, when I discovered another mini-duck vending machine in Bowling Green, Missouri, on my way home from visiting my sister at Hannibal LaGrange College, I knew my duck family needed a few more members. Yeah, I bought three more!

Still this wasn’t the craziest thing that happened! On Sunday, the couples were all sitting around and we were talking about all the fun we had had on Friday and I was showing the girls the new ducks I bought on Saturday and then Shelby decided we should drive to Milstadt again just to buy more ducks! Yep. We got in the car, drove 45 minutes, ate Breadeaux, had icecream, and bought more mini-ducks!

I now have 8 mini-ducks sitting on top of my computer monitor at home. I still think they are cute and adorable, but I can’t believe the extra effort I put into getting the last three ducks. Would I have put that kind of extra effort into other areas of my life? Or do I waste it on things that have no eternal importance? Not to say that it’s not okay to have fun and be crazy and go on wild duck chases, but what I am saying is that I need to make sure that I don’t lose out on things that are more important because I am too busy chasing rubber ducks.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Take Heart

Lately it’s been day after day of stress, pain, and heartache. Things are out of control and seem utterly hopeless. Over time I have become heartsick. Have you ever had days where you just can’t seem to see the end of your problems? That’s where I am right now.


So what do you do when you are heartsick?

I think there are only two options: give up or fight.

Giving up is easy. You just shut down mentally, physically, and/or emotionally. You don’t care anymore. You simply give up. Now it’s someone else’s problem so who cares what the outcome is going to be.

Fighting is the hardest thing to do. You have to make a constant choice to keep up the good fight. What do you do when you don’t think that you can stand it even one more second? Paul gives us the answer in Ephesians 613-14a “Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm…” As Christians we are called to trust and obey. We all know the song…Trust and obey for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus but to trust and obey. It’s true. We must trust that God will bring us through and we have to obey Him by daily putting on the armor of God and standing firm against the enemy.

So what’s the problem?

The problem is that we are weak and we are human. Too often we trust in ourselves rather than trusting in God. We obey our desires rather than seeking the heart of God. We give up instead of standing and fighting until we can’t fight anymore and then keep going. Just because you have given up or failed in the past doesn’t mean that you have to keep doing that. Break the pattern. Trust God. Be more than a conqueror. Take heart.

“He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.” Isaiah 40:29

God won’t leave you to fight on your own. He will give you strength. Yes, it is difficult. Yes, you are walking a fine line between giving up and finding the determination to continue. Yes, sometimes we all fall. Yes, God will pick you back up!

“Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm…” Ephesians 6:13-14a

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Back to School

School time again! The children groan and I rejoice. I don’t know about you, but I LOVE school! I know…I’m weird. Even as a child, I was excited for summer but two weeks in I was ready for school to begin again. I have an undying curiosity and thirst for knowledge. I think that’s part of the reason I enjoy reading as much as I do (although I have to admit I squander that passion by primarily reading fiction).

A year ago, I returned to college and began taking classes part-time while I worked full-time. This semester I have three classes, and as I prepared for my class tonight I had a thought. God wants us to be lifetime students. What?! Yuck! Eew. You’ve got to be kidding me! No way! No. It’s true. God wants us to be lifetime students.

In 2 Timothy 2:15 (nasb) it says, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.” In the King James translation this verse begins with the word study. God wants us to have good study skills when it comes to reading, learning, and remembering His word. We don’t want to fail the tests of life because we haven’t spent enough time studying the material! In Psalm 119:11 the psalmist wrote, “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” The best way to hide God’s word in your heart is through reading it, studying it, and memorizing it.

I know being a lifetime student doesn’t appeal to everyone, but there are so many benefits to being a student of God’s word! Don’t let your own dislike for school to rob you of the lifelong blessings that come from seeking the face of God through studying His word. Start today and never stop studying!

Friday, August 27, 2010

In Need of a Faith Booster

It's that time again! Summer has ended. School has started. Flu season is coming soon, and my faith has run dry.

I don't know about you, but things have been though for me lately. Life has run me through the ringer and sadly I have come out worse for the wear. During the summer things seemed to be going so great! We did vacation Bible school at our church and we had a great turnout. We then took our youth on their hardest mission trip yet and I was do proud to see how they served God in the inner city and how they let God speak to them. Then we started getting ready for school and everything went crazy! I hit a spiritual dry patch. Students stopped coming to church. People I thought were my friends turned around and betrayed me. Jimmy and I found out that even after another abnormally long cycle, we were STILL not pregnant! What else could go wrong?!

All this stuff left me more than a little wanting in my walk with God. Then as I was running around doing errands this week, I saw that Walgreens is already advertising their flu shots. It made me stop and think... "Boy, I wish I could just go in and get a spiritual and emotional booster shot!" Why isn't there a quick and easy fix for the way I am feeling?

The honest answer is...THERE IS! The problem is believing that it is the answer.

Rejoicing in the Lord and believing in His plan for my life are just the booster shots I need. However, rejoicing in the Lord when you don't feel like there is anything to rejoice about is a lot easier said than done. Also, it's easier to believe that God doesn't have a plan or doesn't care than to believe that He planned for me to go through these things and feel this way. But He does and He promises that He will work all these things for the good of those who glorify Him.

Well...I haven't been able to truly take these Spiritual and Emotional boosters yet, but I am working on it. I hope this will help you to take heart if you too are feeling more than a little spiritually dry and emotionally drained. There's hope! You're not dead yet!

"Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!" Philippians 4:4


Monday, August 16, 2010

Daughters of the King Pt 4: Application

Hello, Ladies! This is the final installment of the Daughter of the Kings Bible studies. I hope that you have enjoyed our time studying what it means being a daughter of the King. So let’s just jump right in!

Daughters of the King Pt. 4: Application

I believe that every good lesson should have application. I know that not all parts of this lesson have had application sections, and now you know the reason. Today I want to take a look at one final section of scripture and bring everything we have talked about thus far together in one conclusion.

Read Psalm 45

For space I won’t include all of Psalm 45, but I will include the verses we are going to highlight. However, I greatly encourage you to read the entire chapter. There are so many good and encouraging things in this chapter.

Focusing In:
Psalm 45:9 “Daughters of kings are among your honored women; at your right hand is the royal bride in gold of Ophir.”
Remember that according to 1 John 3:1 (How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.) we, as Christians, are all Daughters of the King! This simply goes to prove that these verses are talking about us. They are relevant to us. We should pay attention to what they are saying about us and to us.

Psalm 45:11 “The king is enthralled by your beauty; honor Him, for He is your lord.”
The King is enthralled by your beauty! Imagine it! God is enthralled by your beauty. Enthralled means captivated or charmed and is synonymous with Enchanted. God is captivated by your beauty. God is charmed by your beauty. God is enchanted by YOUR beauty! How amazing is that! God sees you as perfect and beautiful just the way you are. If God is enchanted and captivated by the women He has created us to be then why do we spend so much time focusing on the negative things we see in ourselves?
Psalm 45:13 “All glorious is the princess within her chamber ; her gown is interwoven with gold.”
I want to take a moment to focus on one word—glorious. Glorious means delightful; wonderful; completely enjoyable. God completely enjoys us and the way He created us. He didn’t make a mistake. He made us delightful. He made us wonderful. He made us completely enjoyable!

Princess Lessons:


Take a moment to think about the movie Princess Diaries. If you haven’t seen it then I hope you take the time to watch it. Anyway, before Mia found out she was the Princess of Genovia, she was clumsy and didn’t see many good things in her life. Even after Mia started having princess lessons with her grandmother she still broke glasses, wreaked havoc on meals with dignitaries, and had many other embarrassing disasters. Her life didn’t really change overnight.

What really caused Mia’s transformation?
I believe her transformation started when she truly accepted that she was indeed the Princess of Genovia. This is when she started accepting her responsibilities and who she was born to be. She also began to have confidence in her heritage. She believed in the woman that her father saw in her as a young child.

Was Mia perfect from this point on?
No way! Mia still had incidents when she performed less than perfectly. If you don’t believe me all you have to do is watch the second movie. Mia also continued to have moments of self-doubt. None of us have perfect records when it comes to believing in ourselves. We all have days when our jeans don’t fit or our faces are broken out with tremendous amounts of acne and we wonder why anyone would ever believe in us. It’s what you do when you have the moments of doubt that truly counts. I love the quote from Mia’s letter from her father. In this letter he writes, “Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear.” If you can’t find the courage to rise above your fear that you aren’t good enough then you will never truly recognize your heritage as a Daughter of the King.

My Princess Lessons:

Lesson #1: Have the courage to believe God and accept that I am a true Daughter of the King.

Lesson #2: Start believing that God created me to be beautiful and that He sees me that way at this very moment.
God has never lied to you before. Why would He start lying to you now? Think about it. The Bible is 100% truth and it says you are beautiful. To say you are not beautiful is to call the Bible a lie!

Lesson #3: Train my mind, my heart, and my body to believe I am God’s Princess and to behave like I am God’s Princess.
Memorize scriptures that will remind you how God sees you. Do things, such as exercising and eating right that will help reinforce a positive self-image and help you to feel good about yourself. These things can’t be your self-worth but they are very helpful tools in enhancing a positive self-image. I know I feel better about myself when I have taken time to eat right and exercising. Maybe you will too!

Lesson #4: Make a conscious effort to STOP saying negative things about myself.
This is possibly the hardest of all the application lessons. Your negative thoughts about who you are are the biggest obstacles standing between how you see yourself and how God sees you. If you consciously make an effort to stop being negative about yourself you make room for you to see the positive things in yourself that God sees in you all the time. If you are constantly telling yourself you are fat, ugly, or stupid then it’s no wonder you think you are fat, ugly, and stupid!

Lesson #5: START recognizing the positive areas in my life!
Are you a talented artist or musician, tell yourself about it. Share your talents with others. Are you an avid reader, keep track of all the books you have read and tell yourself you have done a great job in pushing your mind to read all of them.

Lesson #6: Work on the things that need improvement instead of using them to beat myself down all the time.
I hate it when people sit around and complain about their problems but never do anything to fix them. Yet, when it comes to my problems of self-image I often do the exact same thing. Instead of whining and complaining about being overweight and then telling myself how stupid I am for being overweight, I should use half that energy to go for a walk! I would have walked a lot by now in my life!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Daughters of the King Pt 3: Identification

Sorry that it took so long to get this one out to you wonderful ladies. I have had a lot going on this week. I have also been having some issues with my back that have only made things more complicated.


So why wait any longer? Let’s get down to business! But first a quick review. In part one, we learned that in general most women are critical and negative about themselves. In part two, we learned that we are willing to accept princesses for who they should be and are not critical about them—generally speaking. Next we are going to look at who God is and who we are in relation to Him.

Daughters of the King Pt 3: Identification

Who is God?

When I say, “Who is God?” I am not asking the obvious—god is God. In this situation, I am specifically asking for some of the names of God. I want to know His identity based on the names He is given in scripture.

Names of God:
First of all, there are many, many names of God. I want to take the time to focus on just a few of these names. If you would like a more complete list of the names of God, please feel free to visit the following websites:




  • Almighty - Revelation 1:8
  • Everlasting Father - Isaiah 9:6
  • God - John 1:1
  • Glory of God - Isaiah 60:1
  • Jehovah - Psalm 83:18
  • King of Israel - Matthew 27:42
  • King of Kings - 1 Timothy 6:15; Revelation 19:16
  • Lord of Lords - 1 Timothy 6:15; Revelation 19:16
  • Master - Matthew 23:8
  • Messiah - John 1:41
  • Prince of Peace - Isaiah 9:6
  • Savior - 2 Samuel 22:47; Luke 1:47
  • Word – John 1:1

Let’s boil it down. According to scripture God is the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords, Master, and Savior. God is the original version of royalty. Not only that--He is the perfect royalty! All the good things we talked about last time that apply to Princesses could be applied to God. He is beautiful. He is good. He is kind. He is just. I think you get the picture. Next I want to look at who we are in relation to God.

Who am I?
I don’t know how many times I have heard myself ask the question, “Who am I?” I wear so many different hats and have so many different responsibilities that I find it easy to lose myself. I want you to realize that I am still learning that I am who God has made me to be. God is still working on me and perfecting me to be the perfect version of me, but I am already His. He created me. That means only He really truly knows who I am. So I guess I should be asking, “Who does God say I am?” Let’s check it out.

Who Does God Say I Am:

I am a child of God.
“How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.” 1 John 3:1

“Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” John 1:12

“because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, "Abba, Father."” Romans 8:14-15

“You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus,” Galatians 3:26

I am bought with a price/sought after.
“Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.” 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

I am chosen.
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.” Ephesians 1:3-8

“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.” John 15:16

If you would like to find out more about who you are in Christ check out this link: http://encouragingbiblequotes.com/verses2a.html

In Summary

I believe these scriptures make it very clear that we are God’s children. We are children of the King! That makes us true royalty. We are Princesses! I love the stories of Gigi by Sheila Walsh. If you have never read them you should!

Gigi is a tenacious little girl, around eight years old. She knows she is a princess and she lives like it—even to the point of treating her best friend as a commoner. However, Gigi doesn’t quite understand why she is a princess. In her first book, “Gigi, God’s Princess” Sheila Walsh shows how Gigi first comes to understand that she is a Princess because she is a daughter of God who is the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. Join Gigi as she learns what it really means to be God’s Princess.
For more information or to purchase “Gigi, God’s Princess” click here.

Tune in next time to learn more about your true identity as a Daughter of the King!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Daughters of the King Pt 2: Comparison

Let’s take a minute and review what we talked about last time. The first thing we did was to evaluate how we view ourselves. In general, the majority of females see themselves as more negative than positive. Now let’s look at the next part of our Daughters of the King lesson.


Daughters of the King Pt 2: Comparison

How do you view princesses?
Remember, each of the girls was given a sticky note pad with markers. Again they were asked to write one word or phrase, describing what they thought about when thinking about princesses, per sticky note. Since our world isn’t overly full of real royalty, I encouraged the girls to include their ideas of literary princesses and Disney/movie princesses. When everyone was finished the sticky notes were collected and sorted.

So what did I find…

Positive.
Considering that most young women dream about growing up to be princesses I assumed there would be many positive attributes listed. My assumption proved to be correct.

Friendly                            Beautiful
Pretty Singers                   Pursued
Pure                                 Regal
Sought After                     Fought for
Kind                                Happy
Gentle                              Elegant
Thin                                 Perfect
Looked up to                   Adored
Fair                                  Loyal

Many of the girls had the same or similar to the things listed above so I have simplified.

Negative.
I wasn’t sure what kinds of things were going to be listed here. I was sure that there would be far less than there were in the positive column.

Spoiled                            Demanding
Stubborn                         Selfish
Ditsy                               Doesn’t Listen
Self-centered                   Proud

In truth, I think these girls thought about more negatives than I would have been able to think of on my own.

In Summary
It seems that most of us still want to live the charmed lives of princesses. We see in them all the things that we lack in ourselves. We also see greater amounts of positives than negatives. Let’s compare this to what we learned last time about how we see ourselves.

Time to Compare
As women, most of us see more negatives in ourselves than we do positives. However, we see more positives in princesses than we do negatives. We so desperately want to see ourselves as princesses. After all princesses have no problems and are seemingly perfect in every way! Why wouldn’t we want to be princesses? Here’s the surprise….we are princesses!

Tune in next time to learn more about your true identity as a Daughter of the King!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Daughters of the King Pt 1: Evaluation

Two weeks ago, we went on our annual mission trip. This year we traveled to inner-city Memphis. When we began planning this trip back in December, we decided that this year we were not only going to challenge our teenagers and adults with physical and spiritual tasks but also with mental ones. We decided that the best way to do this was to require them to take classes during their mornings. They were allowed the freedom to choose classes from a list of course offerings and then they were required to attend their chosen classes all week. The other ministers’ wives and I decided we could best handle our other responsibilities by joining forces to teach a girls only class. During this class the girls learned many different lessons as each wife took time to share the lesson that God had laid on her heart for the week.


For my lesson, I taught the girls about being Daughters of the King. My time that week was limited but I want to take the next couple posts that I make to further expand and break down the lesson that I presented to these beautiful young women. We all need to learn about being the Daughters of the King!

Daughters of the King Pt 1: Evaluation

How do you view yourself?
When the girls entered the room on mission trip, I handed each of them a marker and a pad of sticky notes. They were to write one word or phrase on each sticky note that she felt described herself. Once everyone had the opportunity to write five to six different things down I collected the written on sticky notes. Then the girls and I divided them into positive and negative columns and hung them on one section of the classroom wall. Let me just say that as I prepared this lesson, God used it to convict me of some of the attitudes that I have toward myself and how I see myself. Knowing the attitudes I often have, I was not surprised to see much of the same in the girls we were working with.

So what did I find…

Positive.
Let me just start by saying, I was pleasantly surprised to see more in the positive category that I hoped. Here are some of the things the girls said that were positive about themselves.

Smart                                              Good Smile
Friendly                                           Good Sense of Humor
Tall                                                  Athletic
Hard working                                   Musical
Artistic

Many of the girls had the same or similar to the things listed above so I have simplified.

Negative.
I really expected the negative column to be totally overwhelming and in truth it was better than I thought but still twice as big as the positive column. Here are some of the things the girls said that were negative about themselves.

Fat                                                 Overweight
Short                                              Zit Faced
Lazy                                               Lonely
Friendless                                       Not good enough
Impatient                                        Unforgiving
Uncommitted                                  Poor
Annoying                                        Ugly
Unemployed                                   Stupid
Critical                                           Angry
Hurting                                           Worthless
Sarcastic

Many of the girls had other things to say that I do not feel that I can share with you, but I think you get the picture.


In Summary
So today we have learned that although some of us do see a few positive attributes in ourselves we are way more willing to see and believe the negative things about us.

Tune in next time to learn more about your true identity as a Daughter of the King!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

LOST

LOST the Series by ABC


As a woman in the ministry, there are more than I few days that I feel like I am on "LOST". I live on an island where no one can really reach me. I am surrounded by other ministers and their wives who have their own issues, and I am constantly being attached by the "Others". In this case the "Others" could be any number of people. Sometimes they are in your church. Sometimes they are in your youth group. Sometimes they are even in your family. The Others spy on you and report your every behavior to anyone willing to listen. There is no privacy on the island. You are surrounded by people and yet you are alone and still you have no privacy. Everyone knows your business and the Others are ready to kick you off their list with one bad decision made or one character flaw discovered. How are you to survive? There are days when I wish the giant polar bear would just attack me and get it over with! I am tired of being alone with no real friends and being condemned by the Others who surround me! I just want to get off the Island.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Missions & Ministry

This is our whole mission team. Villebrook Baptist Church & the Harrison Baptist Association.

Whew! Just got back from a week of ministry in inner-city Memphis, Tennessee. Jimmy and I took our youth group on their third mission trip this year. The previous two years we went to Springfield, Missouri, but this year we were allowed to take them a little farther out of their comfort zones.

We used the eight days that we were on mission trip to teach and reach. Our teens had classes in the mornings to challenge their brains and equip them mentally for life and missions work. In the afternoon, we took them to their ministry sites to get down and dirty with people who live in extreme poverty. One team was doing street witnessing. Whether they were feeding the homeless at Church Without Doors or handing our water bottles in the Memphis heat, their real purpose was to share the love of Jesus Christ. Our other team did a vacation Bible school for an inner-city church that couldn't afford to do one for themselves. They loved on kids, fed them snacks, taught them songs, and connected them to people in the church who would continue to help them long after we had gone.

The week was long and hot but much good was done. I saw our students gain a new appreciation for their physical possessions and for their families. I saw children who came broken hearted leave with a smile on their face because they had found a small piece of hope and happiness. I saw God move.

I would suffer all the heat and heartache in the world to have the joy of seeing people come to Jesus!

Monday, July 12, 2010

A Wild West Love Adventure

Redeeming LoveRedeeming Love is a blend of historical fiction and a retelling of the Bible story all rolled into one. You travel back to the wild west and land in the middle of the gold rush. Towns go up over night. The gold rush is booming. Men flock to the new frontier to find wealth and fame. What else do these men want besides food and gold? Women. As fast as new towns are founded so are the brothels and other houses of prostitution. That’s where we meet Angel.


Angel is a prostitute. She came to the West to start fresh after suffering from prolonged sexual abuse. She doesn’t know what love really means. Being involved with a man in any way beyond the surface is just opening yourself up for hurt and betrayal. But then she meets Micheal Hosea. She can’t her finger on it but something about him is different than the other men she has met.

It is in the interaction of Angel and Michael Hosea that we see the Biblical story of the prophet Hosea come to life. It is new and fresh and different. The story is filled with passion and love and you will learn from this story as you never have before.

I highly recommend this story to anyone who loves to read. I especially recommend it to historical fiction and romance lovers. It’s not your typical romance. Jump into the rush and go to the wild west for a whirl wind romance unlike any other. Read Redeeming Love today!



Other Books by Francine Rivers
  

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Learning to Run

One-one thousand…two-one thousand…three-one thousand… I count while I run to keep my pace. I feel my clumsy feet hit the feet with each word. I breathe heavy and feel like I am going to die but finally my time is up and I can literally gasp for relief. Betcha didn’t know that I was a runner, did ya?
For the last three weeks, I have been learning how to run. Yes, I have run short distances before and I played games as a child that required running, but not like this. In three short weeks I have progressed from absolutely no running to running for three minutes! It sounds so small; try it if you don’t believe me! It’s hard! The first time is the easiest but when you do it in cycles (walk, run, walk, run, etc.) for 30 minutes, each running session gets harder no matter how long or short it may be.

Running takes focus and determination, especially if you aren’t that good at it yet. The more focused I become the easier it is to “go the distance” and the less clumsy my feet become, but get me started thinking about how tired I am or how much I would rather be inside taking a shower and suddenly everything changes! In an instant I am breathing harder, sweating more, tripping over my feet more, and wanting to quit.
For the first time in my life, I think I fully understand what Paul was saying to the Galatians…

“You were running a good race. Who cut in on you and kept you from obeying the truth?” Galatians 5:7

They were running smooth and steady and growing in their Christian walks, but then they got distracted and lost their focus. They began to let their minds wander and they confused fact for fiction. Soon they were tripping up in their walks and making silly mistakes. Some of them even quit trying all together. As Christians, we must focus on what’s important so we may run a good race. We want to please Christ and finish strong. We can’t let the world cut in and distract us or we will not obey the truth.

Run a good race! Keep your focus! Follow Christ!

What a joy to be able to say…
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” 2 Timothy 4:7

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Vacation Bible School

Vacation Bible School (VBS)…so much fun and yet oh so tiring! Let me tell you I am totally exhausted and I still have two nights left! The best part about VBS is getting to meet a bunch of different kids that you didn’t know before. This week, we have met seven new kids so far and I am sure there will be more tonight. Jimmy and I are teaching the 5th & 6th grade class with the help of Dustin, Kevin, & Shelby. The whole point of the way we structure this class is to help get these kids ready to be a part of the youth group. We want them to know what to expect now that they are old enough to be a part of the “big kids.”

Every year, we take one specific night where someone shares the plan of salvation with the kids. Then the teachers answer any questions the children have and if they want we can pray with them and help them to ask Christ to become a part of their lives. Well last night was that night. Pastor John shared the salvation message and offered the children a chance to pray to receive Christ and then told them to talk to their teachers about it if they “prayed the prayer.” Two of girls approached me and for some reason I got really nervous. It happens to me every year. I don’t know why I get nervous when I counsel youth and children about the gospel…I just do. Give me an adult any day and I am great. Give me a kid and my heart starts racing and I have to work twice as hard. I guess I worry that they won’t understand.

I guess I just have to realize that ultimately it’s not about whether I can make them understand. God uses the Holy Spirit to speak to their hearts and He will help them to understand. I simply need to be there to be a tool He uses to teach those children about His love. Yes, some kids pray a prayer that they don’t fully understand, but there are other kids who have really felt the movement of God’s Spirit in their hearts and lives. I am not worthy of being the judge of which kids are which. Thankfully, it is God’s job—not mine! I just need to let go and let God.

Let go today and let God use you to speak His truth.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Teachable Moments

Life has been hectic in the Mustion house lately. We are go, Go, GO! Our routine is out of whack between Strawberry Festival and Vacation Bible School. Since I had to work all day on Saturday at the Strawberry Festival, I wasn’t able to do my grocery shopping when I normally do – on Saturday. So while my friend Sondra and her oldest daughter, Shaina, worked on snacks for Vacation Bible School, Jadie (Sondra’s youngest) and I went grocery shopping. It made for a busy Sunday afternoon, especially since I had a meeting at church that night, but we had fun.
While Jadie and I were shopping we started talking about the wind and the sunshine. Jadie didn’t understand why we have wind. Of course, I could have bored her with all the scientific reasons for wind and rain and sunshine, but instead I chose to use this opportunity to have a “teachable moment.” Now you may ask, “What is a teachable moment?”
A teachable moment is an opportunity to share about God/Christ that arises from your day to day activities.

Jadie wanted to know why we had wind. I had two choices: tell her the science or tell her about God creating the wind. So many times I am ashamed to say that I choose the easy way out and just talk about the “facts”. I am happy to say that on Sunday God helped me to seize this teachable moment and I told her the Creation story instead.
That night Sondra and I were talking about my outing with Jadie and how she behaved and all those good details parents love to know and Sondra shared with me the questions that Jadie has been having about Jesus. I thank God for giving me those words to say in that teachable moment. I pray they will be a few of the seeds that will help Jadie find all her answers about Jesus and to come to know Him as her personal Lord and Savior.
I urge you to seize those teachable moments in your own life. They don’t have to be children. Maybe it’s your neighbor or co-worker. Whoever it is, you will not be sorry that you told them about the love of God!