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Faith's Firm Foundation: June 2010

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Love and Marriage: Going The Second Mile

He had come in early, as was his custom now. The silent, dark halls echoed as he walked to the elevator and pushed the button. No one ever came in this early, so he knew he'd be alone.  The tomb-like silence of the empty office suite provided the perfect backdrop for his morning meetings with the Lord.  This was where he could pour out his heart and talk honestly with God--and himself.
Sitting now at his solid mahogany desk, he turned his attention to the monthly task he had come to dread and asked himself again, "Why is this so hard?"  Every muscle in his face was taut and his temples throbbed, as he wrote the check.  He knew he was gripping the pen too tightly, but he didn't want his hand to shake. Focusing with extreme determination, he filled in the amount, then slowly and carefully tore it out of the checkbook, and placed it on his desk, pressing it down with the palm of his hand.  There, it was done, for another month, at least. Leaning his elbows on the massive desk, and folding his hands, a muscle in his jaw twitched.  He couldn't stand it any longer, and he let loose on himself.  "What is the matter with you, man?! It's just a check. It's not like you can't afford it!"  Pushing himself away from the desk, he raised his 6'2" frame and began pacing back and forth across the length of the office.  Every now and then, he gazed out the bank of windows, where city lights lit up the predawn darkness. Muttering under his breath, he gave himself yet another tongue-lashing.  "It's the right thing to do. You know that. We've been all through this a million times," he chided himself.  "You've given your heart to the Lord.  You've got to keep a clear conscience and show her and the kids that you've changed!  Even though they've forgiven you, they've got to see that Christ has the power to change a person!"  He sat back down, turning his thoughts as he had a thousand times before, to how it had all gone down in the end.  They'd both been unfaithful in their own ways.  They'd said and done stupid things.  Immature, selfish, hurtful things. Thinking they had no other recourse, the papers were signed and it was done before either of them had stopped to think about the ramifications, what it would mean... She'd finally forgiven him, but... "I've forgiven her, haven't I, Lord?" He sighed. Leaning back into the black leather sofa, he looked around his plush executive office, and thought about his life.  Examining himself was new to him.  But more and more, these morning talks with his Lord and Savior had been a catharsis for him. "I have.  I know I have," he answered his own question aloud.  "Then, why am I so angry?" he thought to himself for the hundredth time.  This morning, all the pent-up anger and frustration, guilt and desire, had exploded like Mount Vesuvius inside him.

Running his fingers through the shock of thick black hair, just a hint of gray beginning to appear at the temples, he sighed again.  He was a man who was used to being in control.  Professionally, he had always been able to handle any situation and had risen to the top of his field, fast.  Physically, he was a specimen of perfection.  Joe had taken care of himself, and it showed.  Always one to watch his weight, he worked out, and ate right.  His marriage was another story.  God had used the breakup to get through to him.  He had recognized for the first time that God cared about him.  And cared about his actions.  He knew he was no saint, but now he knew he was a sinner, and never could do enough to be good enough for a perfect and Holy God.  It was humbling. But God had shown him that He had done what Joe couldn't begin to, through Jesus' death on the cross for him. He'd given Joe faith to believe in this risen Christ, and accept His forgiveness. Even though he wasn't sure he liked this new feeling of Someone else being in control, since he had given Christ the reins of his life, he had been at peace for the first time.  He was a new man.  He knew he was forgiven and he knew God was with him.  He'd made changes in his life. For one, he was determined to do right by Anne.  No one could accuse him of not doing right by her and the kids.  Punctual to a fault with his alimony checks, he even sent them early at holidays and birthdays.  Still, he just couldn't seem to shake these feelings.

He didn't know what to do to stop being angry and bitter.  "Lord, what do You want me to do?  Haven't I done everything a man could do?  What more do You want from me, Lord?!!"   As he cried out to God, involuntarily his eyes lifted up to the ceiling, as though seeing through to heaven's domain. He  didn't know what he expected. But there, in the quietness of this plush office suite, he heard God say as clearly as if He were in the room, "Go the second mile."
The second mile.
"And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile,
go with him twain." 
Matthew 5:41
Custom was, in occupied Israel a Roman soldier could ask a young Jewish boy to carry his pack a mile.  Anywhere. Any time. The boy was required to do it.  It is not difficult to imagine the feelings of the Israelite people towards this custom, and being interrupted and forced to do this service for their enemies.  Every boy felt the anger and bitterness every step of that mile. Jesus, teaching His disciples, told them, "Go the second mile."  What?!!  Are you insane, Lord!? "Go the second mile." They must have thought, "I'm doing what's expected of me. I don't have to do one thing more."  

But that's not God's way.  In doing just what was expected of them, they still seethed inside.  Only when they did what was not expected of them, and went the second mile, did they put into practice the principle of loving your enemies and doing good to them that curse you.  You can imagine that in the second mile, the soldier would inevitably ask, "Why are you doing this??"  In the second mile, Christ shines.  For there's only one reason to go the second mile, and that reason is Jesus Christ, and what He's done in your life. 

Joe sat down at his desk and picked up the check. He held it in the air and ripped it into little pieces.  Then, in obedience to his Lord, he took the pen and began writing a new check. With every stroke, he felt more free and joy began bubbling up inside of him, as he wrote another check, for more than was expected. 

"Go the second mile."  In that second mile is freedom. Freedom from bitterness, freedom from serving man, and freedom to serve and obey Christ.  Freedom to show the world a better way. 

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Matthew 5:39-48:
39But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.
 40And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also.
 41And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.
 42Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.
 43Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.
 44But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
 45That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.
 46For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?
 47And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?
 48Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

The above story is fictional; it was inspired by a story told, in a Seminar I attended years ago, by Bill Gothard.

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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Tuesday Tag-Along: A new bloghop!

Tuesday Tag-Along

I'm joining a new bloghop today! Want to tag along?
I visited some of the blogs from Friday's Friendly Follow (did you know the links are open all week?) and I want to share a "find" with you.  (You have to go to my post, "God is Powerful!!" though, to read about it!)

First, would you like to meet a whole bunch of new friends?  Come to Tuesday Tag-Along!  Isn't it amazing how many people are out there in Blogville??  I am constantly amazed.  I was walking down the "hallway" at the "Blogville Hotel" and saw an open door, looked in, and lo, and behold, it opened unto a room full of people, most of whom I'd never met before, and most of their blogs were all new to me!  How is that possible??  (Well, Wendy, you don't know everyone.  Yes, I know.)  But, I just was so surprised! I'm kind of like that. Easily surprised. So, I just had to come back here and say, "Come over here and meet these people! Maybe you'll meet some new likeminded friends here--I hope so!"

So, go to Twee Poppets Review and Giveaway blog and follow, and link up, and well, read the rules there, and have fun! (Does anyone else think that Twee Poppets is a very cute name that's fun to say over and over?)

Welcome Everyone!

(Old and New Friends! I can't say that without thinking of the song, "Make new friends, but k-e-e-eep the o-o-ld, one is silver, but the other's gold" Ok, I digress.)

Get yourself a cup of coffee and sit down for a while! There's a lot here for you to read and check out! Read some now--and then come back later for another dose.

Do you know how much I enjoy when you tell me about yourself, and comment?! Well, I love it. So, please don't be shy--it is such an encouragement to read your comments!

I post every day--I hope you'll follow me or subscribe and that you'll visit often,

'Cuz that's how good friendships happen!

About Me:

I am a stay-at-home wife, and a Homeschooler, though my teaching days are completed, as my "children" are now 24 and 20. We are blessed to have them still living at home with my wonderful husband and me. My passion is to help and encourage young women, wives and moms to fulfill their God-given role, (but there's something here for everyone) and I love to write, so this blog is my way of doing it all.

Please let me know you came by and tell me about yourself.

Follow or Subscribe, but only if you really value what you read here.

And, Grab my Faith's Firm Foundation blog button on the sidebar (If you still have the old one, please grab the code and exchange it in your layout, please) And tell your friends and fellow bloggers about my blog, if you think they would find it helpful--Thank you so much!

Specific themes that I have written on which you might enjoy:

(click on the links)

Manage It (Victorious in Christ) Monday:

Is Your Blogging Out of (His) Control?

Managing Me

How To Endure Trials

Love and Marriage Series (Now on Wednesdays):

"Ready for Some Major Conviction?"
"Meaning of Wedding Traditions"
"Showing Unconditional Respect to your Husband"
"Belittling and Henpecking"
"Doing Those Little Things Around the House"
"Bitterness by any other name"

You'll also find Interviews; How and Why the subject of Courtship applies to you as a mom of little ones; Ways to teach young children about Godly love and marriage (our view of marriage starts when we're young and at home) and great books and resources to help you accomplish this goal. (Grab my Love and Marriage button on the left sidebar and please put it on your sidebar to let people know about this series!)

* Timely Tips on Tuesday:
(Hopefully, everything helpful: Home organization, scheduling your prayer time, child-training, running a home in general, tips for you as a mom to littlees)

Food Friday:
Most Fridays (I try to make it every Friday:) I share a tried-and-true recipe that you'll love! And don't miss my posts of Rob Barrett of "Cooking for Dads"--you'll love his cooking show, and recipes!)

So, get a cup of coffee, tea or a glass of lemon water (one of my favorites), sit back and have a good read.

Thanks for stopping by! I look forward to meeting and getting to know you!

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God is Powerful!!

Hearing a testimony of God's power to change lives thrills my soul and encourages me to trust Him more.  I heard two today!  First, tonight was supposed to be another meeting of "A Mom Thing", but summer busyness has precluded our meeting, (which is fine).  In the process of touching base with the gals, I talked to one on the phone today, and what a blessing!!  Did you know that what God is doing in your life can be heard in your voice??!!  Well, it can.  It also can be seen in your eyes, and on your face (which is called your "countenance").  This young wife and mom has surrendered to God, and is learning to walk in obedience to Him.  This sweet lady is seeing God at work in her family. One evidence is that she and her husband have gone from their 1-1/2 year-old sleeping between them and needing 5 bottles a night--and causing chaos to reign in their home where he ruled without any discipline--to his sleeping in a crib for the last month and a half, sleeping through the night, and being content, happy and rested!

Another manifestation of His work is the blessing she's experiencing in having a prayer partner praying for her and who she can email her prayer requests (in "A Mom Thing" we teamed up the gals to be a support in prayer for one another).

Change You Can See
This wife and mom is feeling the joy of growing in the Lord, seeing Him change her life and that of her family.  She knows there's much work yet to be done, but her voice radiated joy, peace and contentment!  The voice was almost unrecognizable from the one of fear, frustration, and angst I heard when last we spoke. It gives me chills of praise to God to tell of the change that has been wrought by Him already!  She shared how much "A Mom Thing" has changed her life, just attending once, and encouraged me to continue.  I was reminded of how powerful God is to take my mustard seed of faith (crumbs, really, of obedience) and out of it to spring up a massive tree of blessing!  (aside: He's done this more than once in my life, so why don't I listen and obey more quickly! Maybe I should be actively looking and listening for the ways God wants to do mighty works through my obedient acts, because I am certainly the one most blessed!)

What His Grace and Power Can Do
Very soon after this phone conversation, I happened upon a blog, For Such A Time As This and read a very powerful testimony of how God saved Jennifer Sikora! Jennifer is very transparent about the sin that God has saved her from.  Now, she is a Christian Homeschooler, and shares her thoughts about her life and family and posts wonderful recipes on her blog (check 'em out).  What God has done in her life magnifies His power and glory to the highest--praise God that He can do anything!

Are you trapped in a sinful life?  Feel there's no hope to change?  Does your marriage need help?  God is powerful!!  Give your life to Him!  Give the problem or habit or what you're worrying about, to Him.  He's still in the business of changing lives--He's encouraged me in that truth today!  Praise the Lord!
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Monday, June 28, 2010

Manage It (Victorious in Christ) Monday: Depression (Part 1)

"My tears have been my meat day and night, while they continually say unto me, Where is thy God?
Yet the Lord will command his lovingkindness in the daytime, and in the night his song shall be wth me, and my prayer unto the God of my life.
Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope thou in God:
for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God."
Psalm 42:3,8,11
Whether or not  you've ever experienced depression, this article is going to help you.  You, or someone you know, has suffered from the devastating debilitation of depression at one time or another in their life, and some have fought it their whole life, so even though you may not have experienced it yourself, gaining insights into depression and how to help someone suffering with it will be beneficial to you.

As one who's battled depression on and off for most of my life (and who's learned to walk in paths of victory, to some degree), I would like to offer some insights. These are "battle strategies" which have worked for me--maybe they'll work for you. A disclaimer: I am not a doctor. I am not claiming to have knowledge or expertise in the areas of severe mental, emotional or psychological problems. Following these suggestions will help anyone, but they are specifically targeted at the 3 levels of depression which I have personally experienced.
The Bible clearly teaches that you don't have to experience something to be able to counsel another who is going through it.  But, there is something about depression which defies explanation and seems to have to be experienced, before it can be truly understood or helpful counsel can be given (and even then, who can really "understand" it).

If you've never suffered from depression, you are apt to say things like:
  • Just snap out of it
  • Just get busy and you'll feel better
  • Maybe you need more exercise
  • Stop thinking about yourself so much
While these might be helpful suggestions in another context, and I'm sure you mean well, please resist this impulse.  Believe me, if the person could do something simple and be over their depression, they would do it.

In this article, I'm going to talk about "levels" of depression, for lack of a better term.  My experience is that the lines are somewhat nebulous, and you can slip back and forth between the levels to some degree, but the deeper the level, the more the miry pit sucks you in, and the more difficult it is to back up to the top and climb out.  Managing, or being Victorious in Christ over depression, may be a misnomer.  The past few years I have, again, after almost 20 years of freedom from level 2 or 3 depression, been battling to "just" experience level 1 or be completely free of this monster.  My age and circumstances contribute to the intensity of the fight.  But I have reason to believe, though it's purely subjective presumption on my part at this point, that I may be coming through on the other side at last.  I hope so.  So I would prefer to call it "Managing, or being Victorious in Christ" through depression.  Though they may not feel this way at all, a depressed person can still bring God glory. (For proof, read the Psalms written by David, such as Psalm 42 and Psalm 143.)

So, let me describe what I call the levels of depression, ones which I've experienced.  Today I will only cover Level 1 Depression.  In next week's post, I will go on to talk about Levels 2 and 3 Depression. I hope you'll return to read that post, as it will include suggestions for the family and friends of a person suffering from severe depression.

Symptoms of Level 1 Depression
The first level is what I would term mild depression, or pre-depression.  It's often accompanied by sadness, lethargy, negative emotions and thinking, a desire to just crawl back into bed, desire to sleep more than usual, temptation to give up trying, or give in to fleshly desires or temptations, and temptation to neglect responsibilities and be slothful. (Allow me to remind you that temptation is not sin, but giving in to temptation is.) Level 1 depression may be associated with, or the result of, an extraordinary expenditure of emotional, physical or spiritual energy (such as when Elijah came against the prophets of Baal, or after someone has just attended a spiritually and emotionally moving seminar where God was really at work, or has just finished a huge physically-draining project, or has just nursed a sick friend or family member back to health) or it could be the season of the anniversary of a sad event, such as the death of a parent.  It could be any one of these things, but it doesn't have to be.  Level 1 depression may be triggered by lack of close fellowship with the Lord, or irresponsibility in normal tasks, or eating poorly. It may be due to a lack of Vitamin D or experiencing cloudy or rainy days for days on end.  There doesn't have to be a reason, or it could be the culmination of a number of things.  The cause may never be known, and though we often spend endless days and exhaust ourselves trying to figure it out, knowing what caused our depression is not as important as taking action to fight against it and hopefully preventing it the next time.  I hasten to add that, if you are depressed it doesn't mean that you did something wrong, or always could have prevented it!  However, taking action when I first see symptoms at this level, has allowed me to prevent depression from moving to the next level pretty successfully for the last 20 or more years and has been the key to successful management of depression for me.  But not elimination of depression: (read next week's post). (One can be Victorious in Christ even when depressed.)

Actions to Take when experiencing Level 1 Depression:
  • Cast out negative thinking, and replace it immediately with a plethora of specific thankful thoughts (Philippians 4)
  • Bathe your mind, emotions and soul in the Bible, especially soaking in Psalms and Proverbs (suggestion: on the day of the month, read every 30th Psalm; e.g. July 1 read Psalm 1, 31, 61, 91, 121; July 2 read Psalm 2, 32, 62, 92, 122, etc.; Proverbs can be read this way, too, one chapter a day)
  • Force yourself to be responsible: satan is tempting you, and irresponsibility breeds guilt and mental instability, which produces depression (it's not the only cause of depression, though)
  • Ask God to bind satan in Jesus' Name and by the power that raised Jesus from the dead; resist the devil and he will flee from you!
  • Follow a healthy routine, and schedule--going to bed and getting up when you should and at the same time each day.  (The Bible is full of examples of rising early and spending time with God.  If you are able, go to bed each night early, say, by 10:00PM, and get up early, say, by 6:00AM.  Routine and schedule are the important things here.) (Practice moderation in all things.)
While I used to experience fairly severe depression at times during my teens and twenties, I have experienced almost complete freedom from the deeper levels of depression over the past 20 years by following the above advice.  When I begin thinking complaining, negative, or ungrateful thoughts or I hear lies in my head, the key for me, in this level, is to immediately begin thinking and even speaking out loud, "Thank you, Lord, for this, and thank you, Lord, for that,  and thank you for this other thing..."--and keep on going for as long as 5 minutes or more.  This has nothing to do with my feelings and everything to do with my will!  Forcing my will to follow what I believe in my spirit, and telling myself the Truth, causes the devil to flee, and creates an environment in which my emotions can follow the ways of gratefulness and faithfulness.  Gratefulness and depression cannot live together harmoniously in the same spirit.   I sometimes have to say out loud, "I will (do such-and-such!)" This prevents the devil from gaining a foothold in my life through bitterness, complaining, self-pitying, ungratefulness, disrespect to my authorities, etc.  The battle begins in my mind.
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Saturday, June 26, 2010

Food Friday: Recipe for Seven-Layer Salad

Seven-Layer Salad


Use a glass dish (9x13) to layer the salad in, which allows you to see the layers.
It's prettier that way!

Cut up lettuce (1/2 to 3/4 head, fairly small shreds.)
Cut up onions (1/2 cup)
Celery (cup up thin slices; depending on your love of celery: 1/2 cup to start)
4 hard-boiled eggs (chopped up)
3-4 slices bacon, (fried, then broken up and sprinkled over)
Frozen peas (not completely thawed)
Shredded cheddar cheese
Whipping cream, whipped

Layer the first 6 ingredients above (lettuce, onions, celery, eggs, bacon, peas) in 9x13 dish.

In another bowl combine 2 cups mayonnaise with 1/2 cup sugar (or less) and mix with 1/4-1/2 cup whipped cream.

Spread this mixture over top of layers.

Sprinkle shredded cheddar cheese on top of that.
Refrigerate overnight.

Obviously, this recipe is very flexible, and you can increase or decrease the quantities for your family and your liking!  It's a great picnic or summer recipe, as it's very refreshing, but it also goes great with chicken or a heavier meal in the winter.  Try it and I hope you will 
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Joni Eareckson Tada

Lying in bed, reading Joni Eareckson's autobiography, I knew God was changing me.  I was 19, and though I was a new Christian, I needed to know that God loved me and was Sovereign, was in control, and to fully surrender new areas of my life to Him. 

Joni's life and testimony, after suffering a spinal cord injury in a diving accident which left her a quadriplegic in 1967, have impacted perhaps millions around the world, as she's travelled and spoken, written articles and books, ministered through radio, and even drawn beautiful artwork with her mouth.  God's done miraculous things through her since her accident.  Her ministry, Joni and Friends, does physical, emotional, and spiritual good while informing, educating and giving.  And she has a unique ministry to all those who've had a physical health issue to battle in their life.

This week a special announcement from Joni and Friends came out.  Joni is fighting a new battle--a new health issue.  She has breast cancer.  Having battled cancer myself, I know that the words "you have cancer" pull the rug out from under you, and there's immediately the thought that this might take your life, and it won't be pretty.  But, also, having had cancer, (go to the link to read my cancer testimony) I know that God's grace is able to reach you there. In fact, as she puts it, she is ready to accept from the Hand of God--even His left hand--whatever He gives.  That was the perspective that I had, too, that God wasn't just taking a nap, and let this bad thing slip through somehow when He wasn't paying attention!  No, He is still in control, friend, if you are going through a devastating situation right now.  We won't know, until we get to heaven, what all of His purposes were in it, but we can know, that His grace is sufficient for this and every situation.  The Almighty, Sovereign God of the Universe loves us and knows the number of every hair on our heads.

Please pray for Joni and her husband, Ken.  Joni is undergoing tests this week, and will be having surgery Monday, June 28.  There will be updates which you can access through her site, at the link above. Continue after the surgery to pray for her recovery, as well, and treatments, and that it will not have spread.

Perhaps we wouldn't even know the name of Joni Eareckson Tada if she had not had that accident 43 years ago.  What new thing God is doing through Joni's life, only He knows, but I know it will be good.  
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Friday, June 25, 2010

Friendly Friday: Subscribers are Super and Followers are Fabulous!

Welcome to Friendly Friday!

I am so happy you came by!
Please leave me a comment to let me know you were here!

This BlogHop is hosted by Thanks, Mail Carrier, The Frugal Novice, and Healthy Home Blog, and is a great way to meet new friends and gain new followers! I have been really enjoying this BlogHop and meeting so many of you! Every week they highlight three blogs from all those who enter, so go on over and read about them! If you want to join in, get their instructions--it's really simple--& make some friends!
(Thanks, so much for hosting, ladies!) 

Welcome Everyone!
(Old and New Friends! I can't say that without thinking of the song, "Make new friends, but k-e-e-eep the o-o-ld, one is silver, but the other's gold" Ok, I digress.)
  1. Get yourself a cup of coffee and sit down for a while! There's a lot here for you to read and check out! Read some now--and then come back later for another dose.
  2. Do you know how much I enjoy when you tell me about yourself, and comment?! Well, I love it.  So, please don't be shy--it is such an encouragement to read your comments!
  3. I post every day--I hope you'll follow me or subscribe and that you'll visit often,
  4.  'Cuz that's how good friendships happen!
About Me:
I am a stay-at-home wife, and a Homeschooler, though my teaching days are completed, as my "children" are now 24 and 20. We are blessed to have them still living at home with my wonderful husband and me. My passion is to help and encourage young women, wives and moms to fulfill their God-given role, (but there's something here for everyone) and I love to write, so this blog is my way of doing it all.

  • Please let me know you came by and tell me about yourself.
  • Follow or Subscribe, but only if you really value what you read here.
  • And, Grab my button on the sidebar (If you still have the old one, please grab the code and exchange it in your layout, please) And tell your friends and fellow bloggers about my blog, if you think they would find it helpful--Thank you so much!
Specific themes that I have written on which you might enjoy:
(click on the links) 
Manage It (Victorious in Christ) Monday: 
You'll also find Interviews; How and Why the subject of Courtship applies to you as a mom of little ones; Ways to teach young children about Godly love and marriage (our view of marriage starts when we're young and at home) and great books and resources to help you accomplish this goal. (Grab my button on the sidebar to let people know about this series!)
* Timely Tips on Tuesday: (Hopefully, everything helpful: Home organization, scheduling your prayer time, child-training, running a home in general, tips for you as a mom to littlees)
Food Friday:  Every Most Fridays (I try to make it every Friday:) I share a tried-and-true recipe that you'll love! And don't miss my posts of Rob Barrett of "Cooking for Dads"--you'll love his cooking show, and recipes!)
So, get a cup of coffee, tea or a glass of lemon water (one of my favorites), sit back and have a good read.
Thanks for stopping by! I look forward to meeting and getting to know you!
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Thursday, June 24, 2010

Thankful Thursday: Vision to Homeschool or Be Holy?

It's Thankful Thursday, and I'm very, very grateful for the family times we've had together lately, and the way I see God working in my two grown children. (Visit Iris at Grace Alone to read other thankful posts--Thanks, Iris, for hosting this month!)

I'm so thankful for prayer, and that the Holy Spirit works in each of  us, including my children--it's not going to be me, but His Spirit, that changes or produces Godliness (holiness or the desire to be holy) in them!  He does such an infinitely better job than me!  Why do I even try to do His job?!  We watched two thought-provoking videos together this week (both made by Homeschoolers, incidentally).  The first was

The Story
"While prior Siblings episodes found the Moore family at home, Heartstrings takes us on the road.  During a family road trip, the Moores' vehicle breaks down outside a bed and breakfast, where they choose to spend the night.  Jeff Moore soon notices that Jim Morton, the owner of the bed and breakfast, seems troubled.  Before long, Gator's curiosity and sleuthing abilities find him crossways with a mysterious stranger in the middle of a secret treasure hunt, trying to unlock a family mystery.  The adventure, comedy, and drama of Heartstrings make this film a real treasure families can enjoy!"

My opinion:
Heartstrings challenges fathers to intentionally tie "strings" every day to their children's hearts (a message every father needs to hear) that eventually will be so strong that they can't be broken. Though the movie is somewhat "amateurish" appearing, the concept and challenge within was "point on", and my favorite character, Gator, was great, as usual.  He steals the show!

The second DVD we watched was
Homeschool Dropouts.
From the producers of Return of the Daughters and Father to Son comes a revealing documentary featuring Homeschool graduates who take a critical look at how to preserve the modern home education movement. Their findings may surprise you. Homeschooled children have unique advantages as well as a unique legacy. Will they build on it, or drift back into the spiritual wilderness? What will tomorrow’s Homeschool graduates do with the vision, the foundation, and the freedom that their parents have provided for them? Careful research by the seven Botkin children opens a window on the true state of American Homeschooled youth ages 15-30, revealing six specific sins that could lead to the death of the Home Education experiment if not dealt with directly by second-generation Christian Homeschoolers. This controversial documentary addresses the spiritual threats to the movement, and explores how faithfulness can be maintained for a hopeful future. 

This film challenged the "2nd generation" Homeschoolers to embrace a vision of not only Homeschooling their own children, but of being holy! This excellent film was produced by the Botkin family's children.  They identified key elements in the potential "failure" in passing on the baton of Homeschooling from one generation to the next.  But the proof of the excellence of this documentary, and its success in its objectives, at least for me, was in the reaction of my family after it ended!  Jerry, Dane and Kelsey all were so charged up to invite everyone we know to watch it, and they were talking about who to invite--who "needs" to see it--and discussing the subject matter further!  I definitely am thankful when a movie that has a meaningful and deep message grips my family's heart like that!  I thought the movie was sobering and challenging, but it made me very grateful for my own two children, and their vision for holiness...and Homeschooling!  I see my children pursuing holiness.  Most blessed was I this week, as well, when my daughter turned to me, and passionately expressed, "Thank you for Homeschooling me!"
You are VERY WELCOME! (Thank the Lord!)
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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Love and Marriage: Ready For Some Major Conviction?

Ok, Ladies, I'm going to warn you that these
will Totally stab you in the heart and conscience, and challenge you (if you're at all like me).  But, I highly recommend that you watch them, and prayerfully ponder them. 

Ladies Tea in Chicago from NCFIC on Vimeo.

(What did you do when you were courting or dating
to "do good" to your man? Do you still do it?
Proverbs 31:10-12: "Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies. The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil. She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life.")
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Busy Days and The Buffalo Days Parade!

Wow, these have been a wild few days! Sorry I've been MIA.  I thought I'd give you an update via some photos! In a separate post I'll include my Manage It (Victorious in Christ) Monday post.

Make sure to go and read that and also about the Tornado in Wadena, my father-in-law's hometown! So, here goes!
The busy four days began Saturday, when we went to the
Buffalo Days Parade!

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Manage It (Victorious in Christ) Monday: Our Church Just Keeps Getting Bigger

Our church, Cornerstone, has grown to about almost 400 people.  But on Sunday we hosted Home Church, which leads me to my post for Monday. Read "Devastation to Delight in one day", about the Wadena Tornado and a Bridal Shower, to read the reason why this post is late!

"Managing" When You Outgrow Your Facility!
We've "managed" the increased size of our church, as it grew past the capacity of our meeting space over the last few years, in a little different way than many other churches who've been in the same situation, who have just added a second or third service.  Our main goal was to make it possible to continue meeting in the Community Center which we rent for only $50 a Sunday.  We don't have any paid staff, being elder-led by three men who each have full-time jobs, and we strive to keep church programs to a minimum, therefore not requiring a secretary, etc.  All of these facts make it possible for our church, a non-denominational church, to be debt-free, and to be the primary and substantial supporters of a number of missionaries around the world, as well as to help people in our congregation whenever they have a need.  To keep the number in attendance at church each Sunday in compliance with the fire code regulations, the leaders came up with a rather unique solution.  They divided up the whole church (by geographical area) into 6 "Small Churches" or "Home Churches".  Each Sunday, one or two of these groups is "out", meeting at an off-site location--either a home or public meeting place.  It is up to each group to decide on a location for the meeting.  One of the groups has become very large, as most of its people come only to its meeting, coming from quite a distance further north.  They meet every other Sunday.  The rest of our groups meet approximately once a month.  Leading, and responsible for, each of these "Small Churches" are two or more "elders", who were appointed by our elders.  The Small Church leaders aren't official elders of our church, but they would fit the category of an elder, Biblically.  They're spiritually mature, wise and knowledgeable in the Scriptures, having their homes and children under control.  Most of them are also the older/oldest men in the church.  Each Small Church service and sermon topic follows that of the "Big" Church, and these "elder" men take turns preaching.

Principle of Ownership (relearned)
One of these "Small Churches" meets in our home, and my husband is one of two "elders" who lead it.  Our group is one of two groups in our area which happen to be smaller than the others, having only about 35 people in each. This past Sunday we were even a little smaller than that, as some were sick, or couldn't make it, because of Father's Day.  This particular Sunday, we followed the service with a Potluck.  We were blessed with good weather and everyone was able to be outside for at least part of the afternoon.  When we first began hosting "Small Church" and one or two of the Small Church groups were "out" each Sunday, I didn't like it.  I especially didn't like when we were the ones "out", not wanting to miss being all together with everyone at Big Church for even one Sunday, and also having to learn a lot of lessons about the Principle of Ownership. Sadly, I have had to relearn this lesson I thought I'd mastered:  that God provided and owns everything I have, and just allows me to use it while I'm here on earth.  He has had to teach me all over again that He expects me to use my home and everything in it for His glory, and that He will take care of it.  He has tested me, and I failed repeatedly at first, and I often was in tears on Sunday morning, as He tried to train me not to hold on to "my" home with my tight little fist, saying, like a toddler, "Mine, mine!"  It is not becoming of a Christian to be worrying during communion whether the grape juice will be spilled on the carpet, instead of thinking about Christ's sacrifice on the cross, and the fact that He didn't even have a place to lay His head at night, and He unselfishly gave up His home in glory, to come to earth and die on a cross, so that I could be saved!  It's really pathetic, but true, that this was my state at one time.  I'm grateful that the Lord is so patient with me.

Thankfully, in time, I've come to enjoy our Small Church group.  I can now see the benefits: it has enabled us to get to know others more intimately; we can share more deeply and transparently our prayer requests, testimonies, and our lives and it has caused a number of men to grow in ability to shepherd a smaller group.  Not to mention, allowing us to stay in one location with minimal cost.  My husband, as well as others, have had the opportunity to grow in preaching and leadership skills and have been "forced" to intensely study the Word of God!  We, as a family, have been taught lessons in humility and service through opening our home. So, bottom line, I'm grateful that we have Home Church!
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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Devastation to Delight in one day

Driving Through Devastation
The Manage It Monday (Victorious In Christ) post was unable to be posted on Monday, because I was driving my father-in-law back to his home in Wadena, MN, the location of a devastating tornado which touched down and demolished 39 homes and caused major damage to 75 others, and minor damage to 75 more.  Some of the debris had been cleaned up or cleared away in just a few days, but it was still a sobering sight to drive into Wadena on Highway 10, seeing piles of rubble where buildings had stood only days before.  Then driving down side streets, per my father-in-law's request, we saw in front of every third house or so, trees laying on the boulevard, stacked as neatly as a huge broken tree can be:  trunks cut up, huge branches and leaves piled on top, the trees having been pulled up from the ground by the tornado as though they were weeds being pulled out of a garden and thrown in a pile.  None of our relatives living in the area were injured or suffered loss in any way, and none of the area's residents were killed, miraculously.

Video in aftermath of Tornado in Wadena, MN

I returned home later yesterday, having driven about 300 miles, only to get back in the car a few hours later to drive another 70 miles, round trip, to attend a bridal shower!  I am thankful for the safety God provided.

Bridal Shower
The bridal shower was a delightful event! One of the games "played" was to "make a bridal veil" in 10 minutes, with all the guests being divided into 8 small groups (yes, it was a very large shower!), and then each group had to appoint a spokesperson to tell why theirs was the best and should win the prize!  I videotaped the presentations, which resulted in howls of laughter, as some pretty "creative" explanations matched or outdid the creativity of making the veil!
 Stephanie, the Bride-to-be on the right, and her sister, Jenny
Kerry, Breezy and Jeanie did a lot of work to make
the shower such a success! Thank you, ladies!
Contestants in the Wedding Veil Design Contest

And finally, today was another adventure, as I had the privilege to help Kelsey for a couple of hours, by watching the boys she takes care of once a week.  They are 5, 3 and 1-1/2.  The first thing the two older ones had to do was teach me how out of practice I am with watching little people! While I was distracted, the three-year-old got a Tupperware glass and went into the bathroom and practiced "aiming".  Having just been potty-trained, his aim wasn't too good!!  After cleaning up the mess on the bathroom floor, and changing his clothes, which had just been changed, I went into the kitchen to find the 5-year-old had filled about 5 small containers full of water on the kitchen counter, and was just getting ready to play in them!  Fortunately, that's as far as he'd gotten, and no mess had been made. The littlest one was napping, so after this little bit of "education", the older two and I listened to Patch the Pirate and read an old Richard Scarry book, and a book about farm life, together.  This was pure joy for me.  I can hardly think of anything I'd rather do!  There was much cuddling on the couch, hugging, reading, questions and answers and talking about life...and explaining some everyday things from times past that are not around anymore, like phonograph records, jacks, marbles, and Tinker Toys.  And so, I think at least for now, you are somewhat caught up! Oh, and my Timely Tip on Tuesday is:  Don't turn your back on a 3-year-old! (At least not for very long:) Which you knew already!
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Sunday, June 20, 2010

Honoring Three Very Special Men on Father's Day

My husband Jerry, with Dane and Baby Kelsey 21 years ago

I praise the Lord for giving me a Godly husband, who is a wonderful father to our two children.  He is Mr. Steady personified.  He is a faithful provider, a responsible husband and father, a protector of our family (spiritually and physically); and he takes his role as shepherd and "priest" very seriously as he intercedes for us and leads us in our study of the Word of God.  I'm sure he would die for any or all of us, if needed.  Thank you, Jerry, for being a great husband and dad.

Grandpa T, 5 months before he died, with his grandson and 2 daughters, on my sister's birthday

My own dad passed away almost 21 years ago, 8 days before I gave birth to his second grandchild, Kelsey.  He is still very close to my heart. He was a very special man. With a strong personality, a strong temper (which mellowed in later years), a strong voice and big laugh, strong opinions, strong dislikes and strong likes, well, you get the picture...we had our run-ins when I was growing up.  As he mellowed, and I matured, I realized many of our run-ins were because he loved me so much, and I was going the wrong way.  Once I began walking in a wiser way (I became a Christian), and lived a responsible lifestyle, we stopped clashing.  I came to respect, love and appreciate him more and more as I grew older.

My dad was really something.  For one thing, he didn't do anything halfway.  He was not just "frugal," well, there's no word for what he was. He came out of the Depression, and he was about number 6 (you kind of lose track with that many kids) of 21 children born to his father (his dad was widowed twice, and married 3 times).  My dad went to the nth degree to get a bargain, and had fantastically funny stories to tell about it.  He never was able to finish school, so he "educated" himself, learning a new word every week from the dictionary, and using it in his everyday speech.  He had an enormously large vocabulary.  He loved words and talking.  Maybe a little too much. Did I say how much I am like him?  I grew up thinking that I was nothing like him, and thought that was why we didn't get along sometimes.  When I grew up, I realized I was just like him, and that's why we didn't get along sometimes. He really mellowed and softened as he grew older.

We developed a wonderful relationship in the last years of his life.  He was my biggest encourager, supporter, and cheerleader.  He would listen to my problems--really listen.  He was never too busy. I treasured his love.  He showed me he really cared.  And oh my, did he enjoy being a grandpa. He was outstanding at it.  Though he only had 3 years and 8 months to exhibit this wonderful trait and with only one grandchild, he poured himself into the role!  He and my mom watched their grandson 2 days a week while I volunteered for 9 months near where they lived. I am so grateful for those days with him, not knowing they were some of his last.  His greatest joy in life was his "little guy", what he called our son, Dane. The last months before he died, I was pregnant with our daughter, Kelsey, and he kept on talking about the baby, referring to "her"!  I finally suggested that it might turn out to be a boy, and I hoped that he would be able to love the baby if it was a boy. He continued to call her "her". I think the Lord must have given him a secret knowledge and love for her, knowing that he would never get to meet her, because he was extra tender and concerned for me during that pregnancy, and he was right, she was a girl.

My dad really enjoyed laughing, and you could hear his deep, booming laugh anywhere. He had a great sense of humor, and was always telling jokes. He loved to call small children, "George" (both boys and girls), to which they would answer, "I'm not George!"  He was so beloved in his neighborhood by all the children, that when he was in his 70's, children would come to the door, and when my mom would answer, they would ask if Ken could "come out and play."  He was a warm, loving man who could not resist putting his arm around your shoulder in a big hug, to show that he liked you, and it didn't matter that he had just met you.  He adored my mom, and one of my favorite photos is of my folks sitting on the sofa, sideways hugging each other very tightly! with huge beaming smiles all over their faces.  He told us very often what a wonderful mother we had and said how much he loved her.  Daddy was wonderful, and he is greatly missed.

  Grandparents with Kelsey at her Graduation Open House 2007

I am blessed to have a Godly father-in-law, still with us, and who has been visiting us this past week.  This is the third time he's come to stay with us since my mother-in-law (in blue on the right in the photo above) passed away last year on the 4th of July.  Each time he comes to stay with us, it is such a blessing.  It's hard to describe, but being around him gives me a bigger concept and faith in God.  Listening to him share "his life" with us during Home Church this morning, I was struck with the fact that:  my father-in-law's God has been so faithful to him, that I can trust Him, too, more than I do.  My father-in-law is not a complicated man. He's patient, gentle, kind, and loyal.  He's merciful, wise, generous, and persevering. But he's also a man whose prayers will bring tears to your eyes, and who will get teary pretty easily, himself.  He is not afraid to talk about his Lord and Savior and what He's done for him, especially saving him. He said this morning that though he didn't think he ever really knew what it was to be in sin, (having been raised by Godly parents, who were raised by Godly parents), he had dedicated his life to serving the Lord at the age of 17. The next day he took as his life verse Ephesians 3:20:
"Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above
all that we ask or think,
according to the power that worketh in us."

"I grew up the grandson of a preacher, and thought it would be fine to follow in his steps, but never got the call," he stated simply in his testimony this morning. But he served the Lord every day, nevertheless.  During our testimony time in church, he gave simple expression to his heart of thankfulness to the Lord for saving him, and gratefulness 'cuz "He's been faithful to me through all the years."  Then he ended his testimony by saying to all of us that he wished that we'd be able to say the same at the end of our lives.
I hope you all had a wonderful Father's Day, and were able to honor the fathers in your life in some way.

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