Friday, December 25, 2009
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
A few years ago, on an Emmaus Walk, my husband met a guy who does mission work with his wife in Haiti. They started a non-profit organization to help the children in Haiti, gathering support from churches and by word of mouth. The newsletters I have read are eye-opening and heartbreaking. The couple goes to Haiti once or twice a year and are very hands-on in their ministry, seeing the need with their own eyes. The following is a brief summary of the work they support there.
Feeding Program: The program provides children with one bowl of rice & beans every weekday. And some of these children take that one portion of food home to share with the rest of their family. The lucky family in Haiti eats one meal of rice & beans per day. Others eat "mud cakes" to stay alive.
Education: After feeding the children, there are a few teachers who educate the children...teaching them about Jesus, and how to read and write. The teachers get a meager salary, and choose to work even on their "days off" because of their devotion to the children.
Medical supplies: A few times a year they ship a container of medical supplies. Many things that we take for granted such as soap, vitamins, Tylenol, pills to kill the intestinal parasites they get from drinking the water, and much more. People will stand in line all day to get these items. (In my mind there would be nothing worse than watching my child suffer and being able to do nothing about it. Kids there die all the time from starvation and illnesses we consider to be minor. In fact, many don't even name their children until their 1st birthday because the mortality rate is so high.)
The thing that amazes me the most is that the Christians in Haiti have a stronger faith than many of us. They are forced to depend on God for their needs. And they are THANKFUL for what they receive. They live with a real HOPE of what is to come. When I think about the things I whine and complain about it makes me ashamed. Every time I read about the conditions other people live in it reminds me how blessed we all are and how much we take for granted.
If you want to learn more about this ministry, receive their newsletter, or make a contribution you may write Liz and Dewaine Seese at:A Voice in the Wilderness, 99 Cypress Edge Drive, Blairsville, Georgia 30512
Thursday, December 10, 2009
1 Timothy 4:8 "For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come."
2 Timothy 1:7 "For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love, and of self-discipline".
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
Why so disturbed within me?
Sunday, November 29, 2009
Thursday, November 26, 2009
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Thursday, November 12, 2009
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Saturday, October 24, 2009
God was patient with me and continually showed me His grace when I was searching for the truth. And he continues to be patient with me as I stumble through this life and seek affirmation in all the wrong places. He waits for me to bring my burdens to Him and submit to His will for my life.
My husband won his way into my heart by being patient with me. He was content just being my friend until I came to the realization that he was the man God had chosen for me. He is patient with me still as I learn how to fulfill the great responsibility of being a wife and mother.
Yet patience is something I lack. I’ve heard the analogy many times that as Christians our job is to plant the seeds and God’s job is to grow them. Well I feel like I’ve done so much planting and I’m discouraged because I never see the growth. Am I a poor planter? Or am I just not being patient enough to allow God to do His work? Just once I want to know that I’ve been used to change someone's life for eternity. There are so many people that my heart just aches for. I want them to know the peace and joy that I have found. I know God loves them way more than I do and is working His plan, but I want to SEE it! Is that selfish? I imagine God patiently waiting for these children of His to turn around and run to Him. But I am not as patient.
Father, fill me with YOUR love for your people. Inspire me to show that love wherever I am and to patiently wait for you to grow any seeds that are planted. Also grant me patience for the work that you are doing in MY life that seems painstakingly slow at times as well. Thank you for being patient with me~
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Monday, October 5, 2009
Then another passage in this book caught my eye...this one is for you husbands. "Start talking. She needs to talk. It's necessary to her happiness, her security, and even to her health. Whether you want to talk doesn't matter. If you love her you will want to meet her deepest needs. Start talking and make sure you are truly engaged in the process, not merely mouthing words from a sense of duty...If you withdraw into your own comfortable silence, the enemy is sure to fill the communication gap and talk to your wife. She will lie awake at night wanting so much to understand your heart that words will come into her mind to express what she thinks you are thinking." And the stuff the enemy has to say is never good, or true. (I Promise by Gary Smalley)
My husband does a great job of listening to me when I simply need to talk. But on days that he is busy with other responsibilities, I am thankful for my girlfriends and my man Jesus, who frequently fill in the gap so that the enemy doesn't get the chance.
Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life - Proverbs 4:23
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
"I know what I'm doing. I have it all planned out - plans to take care of you, not abandon you - plans to give you the future you hope for.
When you call on me, when you come and pray to me, I'll listen.
When you come looking for me, you'll find me.
Yes, when you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I'll make sure you won't be disappointed."
-Jeremiah 29:11-14 from The Message
Monday, September 28, 2009
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
"When I choose to look at the inner value of my wife, I'm simply looking at her as God looks at me. And I'm so very glad He sees me as He does. I would cringe to think that my Creator sees only my weaknesses and judges me by my stumblings and bumblings. Instead, He sees my potential, my innate worth, complete with all the godlikeness that He instilled into me originally. Honor is so simple, really. All we need to do is look at each other as God looks at us."
"You can make the choice to look beneath the surface behavior of your mate and find the value inside. You decide in your heart, on your own, that you will treasure her; that you will honor him as valuable. You will look at all the plusses instead of the minuses. And it will work. Your emotions will fall in line and validate your choice because it is our nature to place our affections, desires, and enthusiasm on whatever we treasure highly. Our feelings always follow our beliefs and thoughts." As it says in Matthew 6:21, Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
"I want to tell you a story to remind you of a point I covered earlier - the result you can expect when you give honor to your mate.
There was a Polynesian island tradition that when a man wanted a bride, he had to give in payment to her parents something that he believed to be of equal value to what she was worth. Most men would give a pig, chicken, parrot, or some similar animal. For the most beautiful of all women, a man might even be willing to give one of his prized cows.
One woman in the village who had just reached marriageable age was considered to be a little more plain and ordinary than most. Yet every girl had a few suitors, and she was no exception. One of these young men offered her parents a rabbit, another a chicken, and another a goose. One suitor came along, however, and offered the girl's father ten of his finest cows. Everyone was stunned. Such a bride price was unheard of. All the other young men walked away in disgust. No woman is worth that!
The new suitor was thought to be foolish and extravagant. But he knew what he was doing. Knowing the value her suitor had placed on her, this Polynesian plain Jane began to hold her head higher as she strolled through the villages. She, after all, was now the famous "ten-cow woman". She paid more attention to her speech, her dress, and her way of conducting herself. She became more confident and elegant. Her facial expressions became kind and gentle, her body movements graceful and elegant, her voice soft and caring. In short, she became what she believed her worth to be..."
1 Thessalonians 5:11 tells us to encourage each other and build each other up. By honoring our spouses and those around us, we have the power to help them become the men and women they were created to be.
Sunday, September 20, 2009
I'm thinking...what a minute...Jesus just changed the lives of these two men! The people no longer have to live in fear of being terrorized. They have just witnessed a miracle! Yet they were more concerned with the pigs. Maybe the pig-owners just saw their source of income run into the sea (it was about 2,000 pigs). Maybe they were worried how they would provide for their families. Maybe people were worried that their source of nourishment was gone. Or maybe the people were just scared because they didn't understand what had happened. Whatever the case, they missed what God was doing because they were concerned with less important things. It's so easy to do.
In our times of fear and uncertainty may we draw close to Jesus instead of pushing him away like these townspeople did. Ask Him to open your eyes to the ways He is at work in your life and in those around you.
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Here is what Paul says in Ephesians 6:12 "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms". Remember who your enemy is.
Then what are we supposed to do? "Be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes." Ephesians 6:10-11 We are then told to stand firm with the armor of truth, righteousness, peace, faith, salvation, and the Word of God in place.
Maybe you don't feel strong enough to fight. That's okay, because the Lord is a warrior, He is mighty in battle. I am encouraged by the words Moses spoke to the Israelites "Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today...The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still." Exodus 14:13-14 Put on your armor, stand firm, and ask God to take up your battle!
And when you get weary, pray David's words "Be my rock of refuge, to which I can always go; give the command to save me, for you are my rock and my fortress." Psalms 71:3
Don't forget to share your struggles with other Christians who can pray for you. "For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them." Matthew 18:20
There is power in that. I am thankful for my brothers and sisters in Christ who are there to lift me up and help me to stand firm. I'm ready for battle.
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
An old man was walking down the beach just before dawn. In the distance he saw a young man picking up stranded starfish and throwing them back into the sea. As the old man approached the young man, he asked; "Why do you spend so much energy doing what seems to be a waste of time?" The young man explained that the stranded starfish would die if left in the morning sun. "But there must be thousands of beaches and millions of starfish, exclaimed the old man. "How can your efforts make any difference?" The young man looked down at the small starfish in his hand and as he threw it to safety in the sea, he said; "It makes a difference to this one!"
Sunday, August 30, 2009
I like the way the book was concluded, and will close this post with Don's words:
"I find comfort in a story recorded in John's Gospel. A man born blind meets Jesus and is healed. After that, he runs around praising God, but his healing is an embarrassment to the religious leaders who have been trying to turn the people against Jesus. They interrogate the formerly blind man, trying to force him to admit that Jesus is a sinner (that is, a fraud). The man wisely says "Whether he is a sinner or not, I don't know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!" (John 9:25)
Monday, August 24, 2009
To my left stood my husband and best friend, Jeremy. He has walked with me and supported me through much of my faith journey. He knew me back in the day when I was skeptical about Christianity and still searching for the truth. He accepted me unconditionally and played a big role in my initial acceptance and growth in my relationship with the Lord. He has been there to push me out of my comfort zone and support me in whatever I've felt led to do. I am continually blessed through his music and his character. Thank you, Jeremy, for always standing by my side.
And to my right stood Jim, who is a father-figure to me. Shortly after New Hope opened I was introduced to Jim and greeted with a hug. And so it was every weekend...I looked forward to seeing Jim because I knew he would be happy to see me and have his arms open wide. Such a simple act, but one that made me feel loved and accepted, like I was in a place that I belonged. And I've come to look up to and respect him as a leader in the church. But now due to some messy circumstances, Jim is no longer there to greet me on the weekends...and I have felt the void. I knew asking him to come to the river and baptize me would require him to step out of his comfort zone. But he did it, for me. Thank you, Jim, for your love and support.
I am at peace knowing that I was obedient to what God has asked of me. I hope that as He looked down yesterday, He thought "This is my daughter, whom I love; with her I am well pleased." Matthew 3:17
Sunday, August 9, 2009
Thursday, August 6, 2009
May we all fight for peace. Not just because it is best for us, but because we want to bring happiness to our Father.
Thursday, July 30, 2009
"In 1 Peter 5:8, the great apostle compares Satan, the enemy of souls, to a roaring lion. He says something like this "Be careful! Be alert. Watch out. Stay awake. A roaring lion is out there, and it's stalking you and seeking to destroy you."
That passage has always confused me. How does a roaring lion sneak up on anyone? Unless you happen to be deaf, you can't help but notice his approach. His roar gives him away, even if you're busy or occupied with other things. Even a dull roar would cut through your thoughts and interrupt your senses. You don't have to be that alert to notice, do you?
That question sounds logical, but what if we heard that roar all the time? What if we heard it so often that we gradually tuned it out and became desensitized to it? It would be like living in a house next to the railroad tracks; after a while, you don't even hear the trains. We grow so accustomed to the distractions around us that we barely notice their influence.
And that's when we become easy prey."
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Friday, July 17, 2009
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
The Powerful Key to Prayer
by Rick Warren
"And I tell you more: whenever two of you on earth agree about anything you pray for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three come together in my name, I am there with them" (Matthew 18:19-20 TEV).
If you look at the Lord's Prayer, you'll see that it reflects praying together: "Our Father . . . give us . . . our daily bread . . . forgive us our debts . . . as we also have forgiven our debtors . . . lead us not into temptation . . . deliver us" (Matthew 6:9-13 NIV, emphasis mine).
Saturday, June 20, 2009
And still today my dad sacrifices his time to come up to visit, baby-sit his grandsons who adore their "Papa Joe", and help out with projects around our house. Just this past week he came up and allowed Jeremy and I to escape overnight for our anniversary...and even gave us the money to do so!
I may not have the luxury of being able to focus all my love and attention on one person, but I certainly hope that enough of my dad has rubbed off on me that my husband and children will always be able to feel the love I have for them and know that they are my priority.
Thank you , Dad, for being such a great example and for loving me even when I haven't been easy to love. Happy Fathers Day! I love you.
Monday, June 15, 2009
Saturday, June 13, 2009
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
Friday, June 5, 2009
Today I am living my dream. But the road to get here was not easy. I was blessed to grow up in a loving home where my needs were provided for. However, it was a broken home. The frequent changes that occurred in my family left me feeling insecure. So I took control over every aspect of my life that I could. I excelled in school and tried to do everything "right" to earn the approval of others. I shut myself down emotionally so no one could see my pain and vulnerability. And when I got older, I sought my security from my relationships with boys. While I grew up going to church it was more of a "Sunday morning" thing rather than a faith that permeated my life.
I was around 18 years old when I began losing control. A 2-year romantic relationship had just ended, my self-esteem was in the gutter, and I was heading to college with a major...but no real direction or purpose for my life. I was drawn to a student Christian group on campus. The people there were different. They had a sense of joy and optimism that I longed for. But my skepticism kept me at a distance and I continued making poor choices. Until one day I hit rock bottom. But instead of sinking into despair, I felt something telling me "You were made for more than this"! And the amazing thing was that I believed it. I began to really seek out Jesus, and you know what...I found Him! I thank God that he made His presence known to me before I made a total mess of my life.
In the 12 years since, my life has completely changed. My attitude and outlook on life have improved. I have a clear purpose and direction. I now look to God for my security and self-worth. I find freedom in not needing to be in control. And I'm finding joy in my growing compassion for others, rather than living life for myself. All these changes are a result of God refining me, which sometimes can be painful, but the end result is worth it. Of course my life isn't perfect...I still struggle with issues, I still mess up, I still sin. But now I seek wisdom and correction, I know that I'm loved unconditionally, I have hope for the future, and I live in the freedom of resting securely in the grip of my heavenly Father.
As I throw this bouquet, I pray that you would catch it and if you do not know Jesus as your personal Savior that you would begin to seek Him with all your heart. No need to push your way to the front, or elbow and claw the person standing next to you...the invitation is open to all.
"Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who opens finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened." - Matthew 7:7-8
Sunday, May 31, 2009
"Many people could claim to know me because they've read some very intimate details of my life in books I've written. But to know me through a book can't compare with how my friend knows me so personally and intimately.
Suddenly I sensed God saying, Uh-huh! That's exactly how I feel, Shannon. Lots of people know many things about Me because they've read My Book, but they have yet to experience the joy of being in an intimate relationship with Me.
Think about it. Would you enter a room where your closest friend was waiting, sit down near her, pick up a book about her life and read a chapter or two, then stand up and leave without personally interacting with her? Of course not. So why are we tempted to do that with God?"
Friday, May 29, 2009
I'm trying, Lord. I'm trying.
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
So I wonder how God feels to be in that position. He has written us an entire book of advice and wisdom on how to conduct our lives. Jesus has lived as a human and knows what it means to suffer and be tempted. He loves us and only wants the best for our lives. But we are able to exercise our free will. We can choose to follow his path or leave it. Do we trust Him enough to follow His counsel even when we don't understand it? And what happens when we make a poor decision? Some people may think that God is a judge and is quick to condemn and say "I told you so". But if he loves me even more than I love my children, then I know he would hurt when I hurt. And he would pick me up off my feet and encourage me to do better the next time.
Monday, May 25, 2009
1. You don't need to go out and buy an outfit like the one pictured above (which by the way is NOT what we wore). Although if you really want to wear a frilly dress, this would be a good occasion!
2. It's ok if you don't know how to dance. There are lots of beginners and the callers walk you through the steps. Learning is half the fun.
3. If you arrive right at 7:00 and feel weird because it is an older crowd, rest assured that the younger generation shows up "fashionably late".
4. Be prepared to be spun...a lot. Thankfully there are breaks after every couple of dances or I wouldn't have been able to stay on my feet!
Go ahead...be brave and give it a try!
To view dates of future Barn Dances check out: http://malabarfarm.org/activities_content.cfm?coverpageid=3&storynbr=2
Friday, May 22, 2009
Monday, May 18, 2009
As God is preparing Ezekiel to become a prophet in Israel He tells him, "Your job is to speak. Whether they listen is not your concern." (Ezekiel 2:7 msg) Then God promises to strengthen Ezekiel in verse 3:8.
What is interesting to me is that even though God is going to directly give Ezekiel the words to say to his people, he still has a choice as to whether to speak them. The same choice that we have everyday. So God lets Ezekiel know that if he chooses NOT to speak the message that he's been given, God would hold him accountable for the ruin of the people. (Ezekiel 3:20-21) I wouldn't want to be responsible for that.
While you or I, as Christians, may not be commissioned as prophets, we have been commissioned to "go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life, marking them by baptism in the threefold name: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Then instruct them in the practice of all I have commanded you." (Matthew 28:19-20 msg) I think there are different ways to reach different people. But when I feel that stirring inside me, telling me to share something about my faith with a particular person, I hope to always say "Yes, Lord. I will not fear, for the outcome is up to you. Give me the right words to speak."
Sunday, May 17, 2009
Children can teach us to love without judgement or prejudice.
Children can teach us to fully enjoy the moment, instead of thinking about everything else that needs to be done.
Children can teach us to play sports for the love of the game. I enjoy watching Jacob's t-ball practice because the kids care about each other and having fun more than the competition (which may drive all the fathers crazy during games..lol)
And when it comes to faith, Mark 10:15 tells us to "receive the Kingdom of God like a little child". My kids are so trusting and have complete faith in me to care for all their needs. They don't worry because they know they are loved and in capable hands. If only we all trusted our Heavenly Father the same way...
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
Monday, May 11, 2009
Yesterday was Mother's Day. I could have expected to wake up to a hot homemade breakfast, flowers, and heartfelt cards telling me how wonderful I am :) I could have expected to get the "day off" and do no chores of any kind...a day of total relaxation. I could have expected that someone else would do those chores so they wouldn't all be waiting for me Monday morning. I could have expected that my children would be perfect angels and would cease to argue and disobey. But those expectations would have led to disappointment. They wouldn't be grounded in reality.
I have learned that I have the tendency to daydream and "anticipate" certain events in my life. While all anticipation isn't bad...what happens when expectations aren't met? Disappointment and discontentment. I find that much of my unhappiness in life comes from unmet expectations. And that is something I have control over! If my expectations of how life "should be" are coming from fictional movies or books, or my own imagination, then I am setting myself up for a fall. It's a difficult thing to separate myself from because I really enjoy those types of entertainment! However, I know what is best for me. Real life. Real people. Real experiences. And most importantly...God's truth and perspective. Is there an area of your life that is causing you unhappiness? A change of attitude and expectation might be a good place to start.
Friday, May 8, 2009
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
Monday, May 4, 2009
God used the testimonies of these women as reminders to me. It brought back memories of my own Emmaus experiences and what God had taught me. It also reminded me of the power of God's love and how he can use us to show that love to others if we're willing. There were women there who had recently buried loved ones, who had been hurt by the church, who had drifted away from God, who didn't feel loved...all kinds of pain. And these women found restoration. They had joy. They had hope. They felt the love of Jesus because of a group of people who were willing to sacrifice their time to invest in the lives of others. It was beautiful.
One story I heard from one of the ladies (we'll call her Jen) echoes something I struggle with...being quick to judge based on appearances. Jen says that there was a girl on the Walk who she was critical of. This girl had some physical deformities and a speech impediment. Jen was nice to her, but held feelings of judgement in her heart. Well, there came a time later in the weekend that Jen was overcome with emotion and was at the altar crying. Suddenly she felt a set of arms around her and heard someone praying words of comfort...it was this girl. Jen learned a powerful lesson and said she will never view people in the same way again.
It was an awesome reminder to me as well that we are all children of God. We share the same hopes, dreams, fears, and hurts. We may look at another person and think that we have nothing in common. Maybe because of how they look or act, or how we perceive their life to be. But there is so much that goes on beneath the surface. May we all take the time to see others for who they really are. Thank you God for the reminder.
Thursday, April 30, 2009
Saturday, April 25, 2009
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
One day I came into the kitchen just in time to see Isaac shut the fridge. I came up and asked him what he was doing. He of course says "Nothing". So I asked him what the white powder was all over his face. "I don't know." Hmm...after smelling it I realized what he had done and couldn't keep from smiling. It was Parmesan cheese! But sometimes Isaac doesn't get into trouble on his own...
Jacob started using Isaac as his scapegoat at an early age. Isaac was about a year old at the time. I could hear that he was awake in his crib, but wanted a little extra sleep, so I told Jacob to go in and keep Isaac happy. I was pleasantly surprised that he obeyed...until I walked in a while later to find everything covered in white powder! Jacob says "Isaac did it". But he left out the fact that he was the one who handed Isaac the open container of baby powder...
And of course since Isaac is the middle child, he can learn from his older brother ways to torment the younger one. There are many days that Isaac is just cracking up laughing, while Brady is screaming due to him taking a toy away (and mom is about to lose it...lol). But along with the mischief comes an adorable little boy who brings a lot of smiles and laughter into our home. Thank you God for this wonderful gift.