Sunday, June 19, 2011

True Beauty Devotion

This is a quick devotion I put together for my daughters and I to do over breakfast that I adapted from a chapter in the book "Five Conversations You Must Have With Your Daughter" by Vicki Courtney.

  1. What does it mean to be beautiful? or What does the world say is beautiful? (I usually ask my youngest first and move up to the oldest.)
  2. Read 1 Timothy 4:8
  3. What is God's attitude toward physical exercise? Toward godliness?
  4. What can we do to be spiritually "healthy"?
  5. Which is more important to you, physical health or spiritual health? Why?
  6. Talk about exercise for health benefits, staying fit in order to have energy and good health to serve your family and your God!
  7. Read 1 Samuel 16:6-7
  8. What did God tell Samuel not to look at?
  9. By what standard does God judge beauty?
  10. Talk about the things we do to make our outer self beautiful vs. the things we do to make our inner selves beautiful.
  11. Which do we spend more time on? Why?
  12. Read Psalm 139:14
  13. Watch Dove Evolution You Tube video and discuss the images the media show us and how they are altered.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Behind, Beside, and Beyond

"It was with good reason God said let the older women teach the younger (Titus 2).
Trial and error is not the best teacher when it comes to marriage and motherhood!"
- Debi Pearl

I agree! I have several "mentor moms" who I call on for wisdom and advice on a fairly regular basis. Women who are ahead of me in this adventure of motherhood. Women whose children are bearing fruit. Women who are like-minded.

I heard it said once that we all need someone who is younger who we are helping along, someone who is ahead of us who helps us, and someone to walk beside us who is in a similar season of life. I think most women are fine in the "alongside" department, but lacking in the other two. Let's not re-invent the wheel, so to speak! Let's learn from each other and avoid some common pitfalls.

Some women ask "how do I find a mentor?" Look around you and find a mom a few steps ahead who is like-minded and is on the road you want to travel and ASK HER! Invite her over for coffee or a lunch date out and pick her brain. Ask if she would be willing to answer some questions for you regarding being a godly wife and mom. I bet she'd be blessed to do it! You may have to meet with a few different ladies before you find a really comfy fit, but it will be worth it! It doesn't have to be anything formal, just a friend you can call on in times of need (and we all have them!)

On the flip-side--are you open to helping someone else? All of us are older than someone! Are you willing to share the wisdom you have gathered thus far?

Two Recipes for Success- Which do you want to make?

Colossians 3:1-4
Living as Those Made Alive in Christ
1 Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3 For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 4When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

Sunday at church we had an amazing sermon that has had me thinking. It really complemented all that God has taught me from the Mother Teresa book. Don't you love when He speaks from all different directions and resources to shape your thinking in an area?

Here is an overview of some of the points my pastor hit me with:

  • We are easily distracted. We live in a world with too many distractions.
  • Sometimes the "good stuff" we do can get in the way and keep us from God's "best" for us.
  • Am I defining my world and my circumstances by Christ and His plan and kingdom or by my own thoughts, feelings, or the world's leading?
  • Am I seeking His agenda or my own?
  • Which is more important? My Lordship and my plan or His Lordship and His plan?
  • Am I choosing to know nothing but Christ and Him crucified (1 Corinthians 2:2) or do I still think I know quite a bit and interject my "wisdom" into all my decisions in spite of what God thinks?
  • How am I defining success?
  • The world says "what you see is what you get" meaning if you "look" successful on the outside (a good job, stylish clothes, nice car and home, pretty family, financial security...etc.) then you are successful.
  • But what does Jesus say about success?
  • How is success measured in the kingdom?
  • When I stand before God will He be impressed by this outward "success" or is He looking for something entirely different and I have been "duped"?
  • What will be important then?
I think of Mother Teresa (since we just finished reading her story) and imagine how pleased the Father must have been with her life's investment. She did not gather up treasures for herself, but gave herself entirely to a mission of loving the unlovable in Jesus name. I compare this to myself. What is my investment? I have known Jesus for 12 years now. I have studied my Bible continuously since He saved me. I have sought ways to share my faith, attended church faithfully, and am raising four children to know and love Him. But I have done all this while remaining in the comfort and safety of my Kentucky home where I live in a gorgeous neighborhood, surrounded by pretty people with plenty to eat and wear. Don't get me wrong, I am not talking about earning my salvation. My salvation is complete and secure in Christ. I am talking about using my life wisely for His glory. Being Jesus hands and feet. Focusing on things above rather than the here and now. It is so easy to get caught up in THIS life and forget that there are those who have yet to hear the gospel and are dying as we speak!

Rusty and I were privileged to hear Dennis Rainey, the founder of Family Life Ministries, speak at an adoption dinner recently and he said something that has really stuck with me. He said that when we are near to something it matters to us and we care, but when we are far away (removed) we lose interest and it is more difficult to care. Basically the old "out of sight, out of mind" mentality. This is exactly why Mother Teresa chose to go and live among the poorest of the poor rather than serving them while living in the convent up on the hill, separate. She wanted to live AMONG the people, eat what they ate, live the way they lived so she would have true compassion for their situation. So as I'm listening to the sermon on Sunday I was thinking...if Rusty and I were on a plane that crashed on a deserted island and we were the only 2 who were un-injured and mobile, we would be up and running, helping the other crash victims. We would do our best to nurse them back to health. It would be a desperate situation that calls for immediate help. Isn't that the truth of the situation we live in today? Around the world there are so many sick, dying, starving, impoverished, orphaned, lost people and here we are able-bodied and equipped with resources to help and yet we have chosen to live separate from the problem. We aren't close enough to see it, to feel it, to have compassion. We have "moved" to the other side of the "island" to our comfy neighborhood and ignored the need hoping "someone else" would help. We make the mistake (or choose to believe) or (allow ourselves to be deceived) of thinking that we don't have what it takes to make a difference. We (want to) think it takes lots of money or special gifts and talents we don't posses. I think this is what God showed me in MT life, she was an ordinary woman with no money, no resources, and no outward "gifting" to set her apart and yet she made a dramatic difference in our world for the sake of Christ. And she did it in a completely unconventional way! No spreadsheets, no goal-setting, no self-promotion, no fancy fund-raising, no catchy slogans or ministry titles, no cross country speaking tour, no ten year plan, no expensive or elaborate building plans or programs. She simply followed God to position herself in a place of need and then set about meeting those needs in a simple, loving way every day. She drew near to the problem no one else wanted to be close to. That is courage. That is love. That is the gospel!

Mother Teresa didn't have the worlds definition of "success", but I feel sure she was a true success in the eyes of our Lord. The question is which version are you striving for?

Colossians 3:1-4 (The Message)
He Is Your Life
1-2 So if you're serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides. Don't shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ—that's where the action is. See things from his perspective.-4Your old life is dead. Your new life, which is your real life—even though invisible to spectators—is with Christ in God. He is your life. When Christ (your real life, remember) shows up again on this earth, you'll show up, too—the real you, the glorious you. Meanwhile, be content with obscurity, like Christ.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

A Real Nice Gal

We have been studying India in History and just finished reading this book about Mother Teresa. Sadly, I knew almost nothing about this incredible woman prior to this. I knew she was a nun who worked with the poor and that was about it. After reading the book and watching a documentary on her life I am convinced she is the clearest, most beautiful example of humility (other than Jesus) that I have ever heard about.

Humility is such a difficult quality to define, and even more difficult to achieve. Websters defines it as:

1. (n.) The state or quality of being humble; freedom from pride and arrogance; lowliness of mind; a modest estimate of one's own worth; a sense of one's own unworthiness

2. (n.) An act of submission or courtesy. Low in rank or status-"a humble position"

My favorite definition, in fact the only one that has ever been helpful to me, is:

"True humility is not thinking less of myself, but instead, thinking of myself less." C.S. Lewis

Mother Teresa chose to become a nun and lived in the convent for many years teaching in a school on the same grounds in India until one day the Lord called her to give it all up to serve the poorest of the poor on the streets of Calcutta. What I love about this book is that it tells us she was normal. Her first experience with these "untouchables" was in a hospital where an infants foot had been nearly chewed off by a rat. The baby was too undernourished to cry out for help. This case and others like it scared and disgusted her and she vowed she would return to the convent and never come out to the streets again! But soon she sensed God reminding her of the passage from Matthew 25

42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

What I love about this is the acknowledgment that she was a normal human being as opposed to some unique, one-of-a-kind super-human! Was she special and unique? Oh yes! But was she "special" in some sense that you or I couldn't do the same thing when filled and submitted to the power of Christ? No! She felt the same disgust that any of us would feel in that same circumstance. The difference is, she allowed God to change her, to grow her into a woman who looked past the outer and loved the people in spite of their sickness, their smell, their imperfections.

Because, many times, I think we decide that people like Mother Teresa are "different" than we are and that's why they are able to do these awesome works for God. We make excuses..."well if I had___.", or "if I was ___.", as though there is something fundamentally different in her biological makeup that enables her to do hard work and love it and we just don't have that "special something".

We don't just do it on the BIG scale though, we do it in the smaller areas too. Like marriage, we say "I know the Bible says I should submit to my husbands leadership and I would BUT..." Then we explain why Sally can do it because her husband is the pastor and he is a great Godly man and "if I was married to him..." We say it about weight loss and physical fitness. We see a star lose weight and we say "sure, I could do that too if I had a personal trainer and a chef!" Really? Does that make it easier not to eat the brownies at midnight? Do they sleep with you and hold you down? Mother Teresa compared herself to a "pencil in the hand of God". Let's just admit that God would be pleased to do equally amazing work through you or I if we were but willing to surrender to the same degree. Ouch.

In addition to her humility, which was so beautiful to see in action, here are some other points I learned from her life:

  • God doesn't force us into His service kicking and screaming. He allows us to be involved and if we will obey we will find ourselves LOVING it! He always blesses our sacrifice. She didn't tolerate this work, she lived for it!
  • She did not set out to cure the worlds poverty problem or build some kind of ministry empire. She simply saw a need and began to meet it one day at a time.
  • She did not make long term plans or goals. She did the work that was in front of her today. When she saw a new need she began to move in the direction to meet it too. She didn't know how or when it would happen, she just moved in faith that God would supply.
  • What she was doing seemed like foolishness to many.
  • She didn't have money and that was never a concern for her.
  • She drew near to the people she wanted to serve. She chose to become an Indian citizen, she lived where they lived, how they lived, dressed as they dressed, ate as they ate.
  • She didn't "recruit" helpers or supporters in an active way, she was too busy doing the work itself. She trusted God to handle all the details.
  • She worked hard! She slept 2-3 hours per night and prayed 2 hours each morning.
  • When she had a need she went directly to her knees. She never tried to handle things herself, she depended on the Lord.
After we completed the book we watched a documentary on Mother Teresa's life on Netflix. When it was over my youngest daughter Carley, age 5, said to me "she was a real nice girl huh mom?" This cracked me up since Mother always looked like she was a hundred and twelve years old and she was so much more than nice!! Hilarious!

A man can counterfeit love, he can counterfeit faith, he can counterfeit hope and all the other graces, but it is very difficult to counterfeit humility. --D. L. Moody

How do we know if we have a servant’s heart? By how we act when we are treated like one! Unknown

Everybody can be great... because anybody can serve. You don't have to have a college degree to serve. You don't have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace, a soul generated by love. --Martin Luther King, Jr.

Friday, May 20, 2011

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We are super excited because all 3 girls will be singing in the choir for this performance and Morgan even has a speaking part!! This is her first time to participate in a play so we are looking forward to seeing how things turn out!!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Fun Books

So I usually don't read books for "fun", I typically read books to learn, but I've been on a break to just enjoy some lighter reading. Plus I am trying not to buy any books but borrow them instead from the library. Where have I been that I didn't know I could get just about any book (older than one year old) from the library even if my branch doesn't carry it? I can request it online and they email me when it is waiting for me at my branch! What a deal! So here's a few I've just finished:

All really quick reads, all very inspirational and interesting. I'm a little hesitant to admit the Kirk Cameron one, but it's not because of his teen idol status (promise), but because of his involvement in the Way of the Master ministry that drew my attention. :)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

I may be back...

I don't want to make any promises I can't keep...
but I'm going to try to get back in the swing of the BLOG!
The world went blurry for a while after we got home with Evan, but that isn't unusual. :) Rusty and I had a discussion about how it takes us about a year to "settle in" when we add a new family member! But we sat down in March (our one year mark) and decided we were ready for a new "adventure", so we'll see what the good Lord has in store for us next! In the mean time, I know it will do me good to have an outlet for my "talk".

So I made some cosmetic changes to the blog, changed the ages of the kids...etc. and now I feel REFRESHED! So, what do you want to talk about? Marriage, parenting, cooking, crafts, God-stories and lessons???

Why Wouldn't I?