Tuesday, December 31, 2013

VBS-SAURAS Decorations

   Since the holidays are so busy, I decided I would share some of the pictures from different activities I have helped decorate throughout this year. I just LOVE helping decorate things, for whatever occasion it may be. One of the things I love the most, is being able to make decorations. It just gives me such a feeling of accomplishment when I create or help create something for half the cost of what you could buy it for! :) This week I wanted to share a few of the pictures from VBS this year! Our theme was VBS - SAURUS. Our youth pastor did a great job with the theme, ideas and decorations in the gym. Here are a few of the gym:



Each of the teachers decorated our own classrooms. I always have fun decorating, but a lot of times I get in way over my head, and that's when my amazing family steps in! Would be in trouble without them! Also the other teachers and helpers brought in items and I was very excited about how it turned out! This was definitely a team effort. I think I was more excited about it, then the kids were. I had the 3-6 yr old group. This is my favorite group!:) Here are some pics which I will try to explain as I post them. Some are a tad blurry, but I think you can see the general idea! I always get mad at myself later for not taking more pics. A lot of them had the children in them so I can't share those, although they add quite a bit to the pictures!;)





Decorations:
- Ceiling was decorated with plastic green tablecloths tacked to the ceiling, it really gave the jungle affect!
- Walls were a bit of different things. We had quite a big room. We bought a wall jungle covering (last pic) for 2 of the walls, then on the other 2 walls we continued the green tablecloths and covered them with (age appropriate) dinosaurs! Makeshift trees were also made for the walls. (We ran out of our wall covering and tablecloth.)
- Waterfall (second pic from the bottom) was difficult, but we used what we had. It was a mountain of different items stacked up with a white tablecloth and then a blue one on top, that was tacked high up close to the ceiling. We placed "grass" bought from Oriental Trading and placed that at the edges of our waterfall.
- Mountain (first and last pic) was made with boxes stacked to different heights. Packaging paper was crumbled and placed over the boxes, with real branches coming out of the boxes. More grass was placed around the bottom.
- Tent. This was my dads idea and added to the look. We just placed that in a corner to take up space. The kids loved going in and out of this!
- Miscellaneous Ideas. We added vines and nets to the ceiling, and from wall to wall with monkeys hanging from these. We also had a toucan on a net.
- Dinosaurs. The other teacher of our class bought blow up dinosaurs. The kids absolutely LOVED this and each one took one of these home at the end of the week! We placed a few at the waterfall, some on the rocks/mountains and a few that had wings we "flew" from the ceiling!


***A lot of these ideas were the help of my family and my co-teacher and helpers! When I do or plan something I put a lot of my time, effort and thoughts into it I want to do a good job!! I love to do it, and also I LOVE having help that WANTS to help!:) These ideas could be incorporated to a birthday party or whatever the occasion is! I am so thankful that God has placed me in a church where I can invest my time and effort into different occasions; and because I  am thankful I want to show it by my actions in whatever I do! I don't always do well, but I desire to always do my best for the Lord!:)
1 Corinthians 3:17 "And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him."

Monday, December 23, 2013

Unshakable Trust

  After the Bible, poems and quotes are my favorite things to read. They just seem to put things in perspective. One of my favorite poems deals with a subject that I am learning, and relearning oh so well - TRUST!


I've heard this many times and even say it myself, "I don't know how people make it without the Lord." This is very true, but the funny thing is those of us who have the Lord don't live like it, or at least don't show to others that we have the Lord. The definition of trust is firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability or strength of someone or something. If we are trusting the Lord, then we should have a firm (unshakable) belief in His strength and His plan. It seems in every area of life we can't wait until "this" happens and then once that happens, we can't wait until something else happens and so on. For us women it starts out 'I can't wait to grow up' to 'I can't wait to date' then 'I can't wait to get married' to 'I can't wait to have a baby' then 'I can't wait until the kids grow up' then on to something else. I've said some of these things myself, but as we are saying these things we completely have forgotten the 'trust' we say we have in the Lord. What if it isn't His will for me to get married, or have a baby, or for you to get what you've been praying for? Does that mean He has failed? Certainly not! Trust in God does not depend on whether He does what I want or not. It's not the belief in myself because I surely can be easily shaken, but belief in the Lord Who is never shaken! The Lord is NEVER to be on trial in our lives! This wishing for another milestone is hopeless, because once we reach that one we are hoping for another and there never seems to be an end!
   Being in the ministry for the majority of my life, I have found each season of the ministry brings with it another joy or struggle, but each area requires a different amount of trust in the Lord. It doesn't take much trust when you are happy and things seem like they can't get any better, but when something bad happens or things don't go your way you begin to lean a little heavier on that trust in the Lord. If our eyes are on the Lord no matter what happens in life, we may waver a bit but our trust in the Lord, and His sustaining grace will carry us through every time. With this grace that He provides we can smile and go on our day, realizing the Lord is in control and this is HIS will for us now. We find our strength in the precious promises of His Word. It seems every blog I encourage time in His Word, but for the Christian it is vital for the well being of our Christian life.That time spent in the Word and with the Lord each day builds your knowledge, strength and trust in the Lord that cannot be measured!
 1 Thessalonians 5:18 "In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you." Philippians 4:11 "Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content." So we are to be thankful and content in whatever situation we find ourselves in! Whether that be married or unmarried, with or without children; whether we feel God gave us what we think we deserve or not; we are supposed to be content where we are!  So we must be very careful to wish something would happen, or just can't wait for something to happen; we are wasting the time God has given us and telling the Lord He is not worth trusting because He's not doing what we want! I am convicted that I need to live every day to the fullest, not wishing my days away for another day that may or may not ever come, it is not my job to worry about what the Lord has in my future, but simply to trust that His will is PERFECT whatever that may be!!! He can be trusted, and will never let you down. He has a beautiful plan for each one of us. Choose to be a living proof that God is worth trusting even if we don't understand each move He makes in our lives!

**This has become one of my FAVORITE songs so I thought I'd share with you! Hope it's a blessing! It's called "The Potter Knows the Clay"
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jxiOOKueYzk

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Difference of Compassion

   In my study of the women of the Bible, I am now only to the E's. All I can say is life is busy so it is  taking me quite a while to get through this book. The woman I want to talk about is mentioned by name only once that I know of in the Bible. Her name is Euodias. Not exactly a name that rolls of your tongue! Her name means "prosperous journey" or "fragrant". The verse where she is mentioned is in Colossians 4:2 "I beseech Euodias, and beseech Syntyche, that they be of the same mind." Obviously there was some division between these two women in the Philippian church, because Paul admonished them to be of the "same mind". It doesn't tell us what caused the division, but it bothered the Apostle Paul enough for him to address it in scripture!
   Differences of opinions and arguments have been going on for quite a while in churches. It seems our churches are overrun with these little differences, which soon build into divisions in the church. This pettiness shows a great deal of the spirituality of the individuals involved. I have been in church my whole life and have seen these divisions and disunity in most of the churches I've attended. There is always someone willing to cause trouble, and it can be SO easy to get caught up in this. Don't let someone else's "battle" become your own! A lot of these divisions usually begin by just one person who feels they were 'wronged' by someone else, sometimes unintentional. They then go and tell those they are closest to, or someone they know will listen. From there it just keeps getting passed down; neither one of those carriers of this awful virus will ever go to the source and find out if it's true. No one is ever willing to give the victim the benefit of the doubt.....do we not realize this is sin? I fear most the time we really don't care if it is true or not! James 4:11 "Speak not evil one of another, brethren. He that speaketh evil of his brother, and judgeth his brother, speaketh evil of the law, and judgeth the law: but if thou judge the law, thou art not a doer of the law, but a judge."  James 3: 16 & 18 "For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace." We gather from these verses that we are commanded not to speak evil of our brothers (or sisters) but to bring peace to each situation we find ourselves. There doesn't seem to be many peacemakers among Christians anymore. Peace calls for the Holy Spirit to be in control of our lives; which means we have to be in His Word each day. Causing strife and division is something that comes natural. When I enter a room or even conversation, do I bring peace to it or add more strife and division?
   The Lord made everyone different, we are not going to all agree or like the same things, that gives us no right to destroy your brother or sister with our words or actions! I John 2:10-11 "He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him. But he that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because that darkness hath blinded his eyes." We must be SO careful, because once you get tricked into talking bad about our brothers and sisters in Christ, our eyes become blinded. How can we realize we are doing wrong if we can't see it? There should never be a time when we hate our brother or sister in Christ so much that we are willing to destroy them with our tongue both physically and spiritually. How sad it is when we can do it and not even think twice about it! Romans 8:5-8 "For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be." The carnal or fleshly mind yields strife and division; the spiritually minded produce life and peace. Simply put, if you can talk about or treat someone rudely you are fleshly minded and are just doing what comes natural to you. Ephesians 4:29, 31-32 "Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying that it may minister grace unto the hearers. Let all bitterness, and wrath and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you." There shouldn't be anything bad coming out of our mouths but only things that will build up or encourage those hearing it! Philippians 2:2-3 "Fulfill ye my joy, that ye be likeminded having the same love being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves." 
   Most of the things we hear from other people usually have a very small amount of the truth, yet we are willing to believe it completely and share it with others, all the while sinning and destroying that person. Sometimes the information we hear is true; instead of us helping that brother or sister, we are so eager to push them down even farther. We give no thought to the load they carry. We think we are so super spiritual we can't bother to lift a finger to help them up, never remembering just how far Christ had to go to redeem us! Jude 1:22 "And of some have compassion, making a difference." Compassion - sympathetic, consciousness of others distress together with a desire to alleviate. Whether that person is right or wrong, do we ever think to come along beside them and help lift them up, tell them we love them and will help them along the way? No we usually are the first to tell them how wrong they are, and tell others what happened. Do you realize just how much compassion the Lord has with us everyday? Lamentations 3:22-23 "It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness."
   It is my thought and hope that Euodias and Syntyche resolved their differences and became of "one mind" as Paul instructed. Oh how we all need to heed that advice each and every day. Don't let someones actions or words cause you to sin, become bitter against them, and then repeat the matter to someone else. Don't be a carrier of the disease either. It is so very easy to get caught up, you must keep yourself spiritually minded!!
The Lord has so much to say on this topic, which leads me to believe there was a problem with this in the churches in the Bible.


1 Peter 3:8-12
"Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous; Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing; but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing. For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile; Let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it. For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers; but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil."

Monday, December 9, 2013

Abigail - Cause Of Joy

      I recently started reading a book I borrowed from my Dad's collection of books titled "The Women Of The Bible". It goes through all the women in the Bible in alphabetical order. I have only gone through a few names and I am already under such great conviction. If you can get your hands on this book I definitely recommend it. It is quite straight forward, but I am really enjoying it! This book kind of helps to open up the Bible more, instead of just reading a name of a woman in genealogy or a few chapters; it reveals such virtue and character some of these women had. So it's a good possibility my next few blogs may contain different women of the Bible. Hey, you can't help but to speak the things you see and hear! ;)
     The woman from the bible who has really wowed me with her character came after reading and studying about a woman named Abigail, found in 1Samuel 25: 1-42. I've read the story of Nabal, Abigail and David many times, but usually the focus has been on David or wicked Nabal, she was JUST the wife of 1 and then the other eventually.
     Abigail's name means 'Father of Joy' or 'Cause of Joy'. As many I'm sure have read before, she was married to a man named Nabal he is described as 'churlish and evil in his doings'. He obviously lacked the finer qualities his wife possessed. He was mean, selfish, often drunk, stubborn and ill-tempered. She lived in a miserable house. Abigail is said to be 'a woman of good understanding, and a beautiful countenance' as the book says she had "brains and beauty". "A beautiful woman with a beautiful mind is surely one of God's masterpieces." She had an all encompassing love and deep relationship with God, and although she had such a unhappy home life she was a trophy of grace for her Lord. Any woman can be an Abigail but so few women are willing to obey and cooperate with God in every area He requires.
     After Nabal treated David's servants rudely, David was coming to kill Nabal's entire household. Abigail heard of what had happened, and quickly took the necessary provisions for David and his men and rode quickly to meet David.  As I said before, from what the Bible tells us about Nabal he was quite disagreeable to say the least. There were probably many times Abigail served as peacemaker between him and neighbors he had offended due to his ill-mannered and churlish ways.
    Once Abigail arrived and brought the food and drink, she fell down before David. "She revealed her wisdom falling at Davids feet and acknowledging his accusations of what her foolish husband had done." She didn't try to argue away her husbands deeds, but admitted her husband was a fool. Abigail tactfully used her words to sway David's just wrath at the right time and in the right way. **We can never underestimate just how powerful our words can be, said in the right time and place. Neighbors knew well  Abigail's drunken and ill-tempered husband, but patiently she made amends for his wrong doings countless times.
      Once Abigail knew her trip to David was a success she returned to her drunken wicked husband, and resumed her unpleasant life. Abigail did not seek to leave her godless husband, but stayed a loyal wife and the protector of her worthless husband. Her life was hard and she may often have been beaten, insulted, and treated rudely but she remained with Nabal and was faithful to him. "Abigail manifested a love stronger than death." She was delivered 10 days after her return when her husband suffered a divine stroke. Death came as a blessing and Abigail had no tears or regrets. Amid such horrible suffering she fulfilled her marriage vows. This sad story turned into a 'fairytale' when she married David who equally loved the Lord, and would become the King of Israel. Abigail came from an unhappy life but continued to trust God and He rewarded her in His timing! Later David and Abigail had a son whom they named Chileab, or Daniel. Daniel means 'God Is My Judge', perhaps because of the Lord's divine vindication in her own life.

*****

Abigail was certainly not perfect, but we can see from the Bible's account that she had a close walk with God. It was evident in the way she handled every situation. In that day arranged/man made marriages were common, there is speculation this was Abigail's reason for being married to Nabal. She was forced into such an unhappy life, but she certainly lived up to her name and brought joy wherever she went. Joy that emanated from her came in different forms: peacemaker, protector of her worthless husband, friend, wisdom, kindness, and proved to also be a faithful wife, along with many more. If nothing else what impresses me more than anything about Abigail is her situation didn't dictate her attitude, she found joy in HER Lord! In the same way our joy should come from the Lord and time spent with Him, not from our life's circumstances. She walked in and out of difficult circumstances but because of the wisdom she had she brought joy, and handled each situation in just the right way.

**There seem to be so many different situations we find ourselves where people are just mean and ill-tempered like Nabal, or upset like David was; there are only certain ways each area can be handled. Do we possess the Godly wisdom to know how to handle each? We each possess the same Source Abigail had, but we often don't handle situations in the right way because we have not spent time understanding and knowing the true Source of Joy.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Who Has The Time?

       Do you ever feel like Heaven is shut up, the Lord doesn't care what happens to you, or He doesn't love you? I think this thought has at least crossed most of our minds at one time. I recently had a rough couple of days, and at night I would pray and tell God my heart was breaking and tell Him exactly what was going on. I kept feeling like my prayers just weren't going through. Then the next night as I was laying there once again talking to God, the Lord impressed on me, "You want Me to help you but you have left no room in your life for Me. How can I speak to you, or help you if there is no place for Me to fit?" Then I began thinking other than my morning devotions and at meal times, there was no place else for Him. My life was so filled with fleshly things such as Pinterest, Makeup how tos, and anything else but there was no room for the Lord. The activities in and of themselves were not wrong, but they became wrong when it replaced and kicked out anything to do with the Lord. Most of them were purely fleshly, and nothing for the Lord throughout the day. The normal person lives on 3 meals a day, how is the spiritual man inside supposed to live on 1 meal? No wonder I felt lopsided inside, it definitely was not God that moved but me! When I became hurt or offended my emotions ruled everything else, instead of taking it in stride as a spiritual person and realizing this is part of life on earth with people. I didn't have enough of the Lord's presence in my life to help me, control me, or to help me to grasp anything positive out of the situation.
       My parents always taught us growing up that it was not their job to find us and get our attention, but it was OUR job to be so in tune with them that when they called from anywhere in the house and we could hear them and answer. That lesson was taught so that later on in life when God called which is sometimes in 'that still small voice' we would hear Him and answer His call no matter how 'loud' that call was.
       I had allowed so many things to creep in and substituted fleshly things for spiritual things. That's why Ephesians 5:19 is so important. "Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord." Throughout the day we need to find things that will edify ourselves in the Lord reading our Bible, memorizing scripture, listening/playing good Christian songs, spending time with those who will encourage us in the Lord, praying....and many more. It doesn't mean that everyday every hour you have to be doing one of these, but the spiritual things should out weigh the fleshly things.
     Our spiritual life does not begin and end when we do our devotions in the morning (or at night) it continues during the day. Every choice we make during the day affects our spiritual life either positively or negatively. I'm mostly referring to activities not work or school;) If we were to write down what we did yesterday, and categorize them into spiritual and physical and how long we did each, which one would win? It's sad to say I think with most of us it would be the physical/fleshly side. For an example: My Pinterest isn't bad, I don't have friends who show naked pictures, or curse words, or talk about bands and such; I try to keep my Pinterest very clean. Pinterest becomes bad when I began to spend hours on it; or if it outweighs the spiritual that I have done that day. Doing something fleshly only makes you want to continue and before you know it, it's been hours.

         

      I don't think many Christians realize just how much danger lies in our time during the day! Time is valuable and what you do with it decides how big your spiritual life is, and just how close you are to God. When you spend a lot of time doing things that edify the fleshly side of you, that is just what you are. It dulls the Holy Spirits control in your life, and soon you are so far away from the Lord you don't even notice how far you have drifted from Him. I have had to do some clean up in my own life recently, I truly want to be close to the Lord and for Him to look down and be pleased with what He sees! I hope this makes everyone at least take a look at your own life and evaluate where all of your time is going, is it to things on the internet, worldly things; or is your time a treasure because it is drawing you close to the Lord? Look at your life and make sure the time invested in spiritual things far out weighs the other!

James 4:8 "Draw nigh to God, and he will draw night to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded." 
   

Saturday, November 30, 2013

You Are Protected

          Thanksgiving has passed but I hope we are still in the thankful mindset all year long. There are a host of things to be thankful for. Through church and family gatherings I have heard so many of the normal things people are thankful for which include: Salvation, Bible, our country, families and the list goes on and on. There is another one that has been brought to the forefront of my mind lately.....God's protection in our lives daily.
God has told us He will protect us, but I wonder how many times do we actually acknowledge the times He protected us. Isaiah 43:2 "When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee." Really the whole chapter of Psalm 91 is good, but my favorite verses are 11, 14-15 "For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: i will set him on high. because he hath known my name. He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him."  The event that brought this on happened on Tuesday. I was backing our van out of a parking space, as usual I looked behind me didn't see anyone directly behind me, but saw two cars on either side. I continued to keep backing up fully confident nothing was behind me, then for some reason I stopped for a second, as I went to press the gas I saw in my mirror directly behind me a car that it seemed was inches from the van. I pushed the brake as hard as I could. That overwhelming relief flooded through me, and I told the Lord thank you for His protection. Now I most likely would not have been killed by this, but the Lord saved me from a very unpleasant circumstance.
        This incident has gone through my mind many times since it happened, there was no reason for me to stop backing up, it was just the Lord's protection. I wonder how many times the Lord protects me or someone I love from danger during the day. I shudder to think of all the danger that is before us each day that the Lord so lovingly moves out of our path.
         Bad things happen to people all of the time, this does not mean the Lord slipped up or 'forgot' to protect them; but as we know sometimes He simply allows things to happen to us for our good and for His glory. If we could see just how much He protects us from compared to what He allows us to go through I believe we all would fall on our knees in thanksgiving and praise to Him.
         This post is not to scare anyone from walking out their door everyday, but simply to make you aware of how thankful we all should be for the Lord's protection in our lives. For most of us the Lord gives us such 'smooth' lives, sometimes we don't see where if ever He has protected us.

Lest you think you don't need the Lord's protection -
* Parents - As good as a parent as you think you are, you still need the Lord's protection! 
Perhaps while you weren't looking your child picked up a penny or small object and swallowed it...the Lord allowed that penny or object to slide down your child's throat perfectly, so they wouldn't choke; though there have been many cases of a child choking on something small. 


* Driver - The road is so very dangerous, there are SO many times I can remember whether I was a passenger or driving, that I know the Lord stepped in and protected me/us.
Perhaps while you weren't looking the Lord made that other careless, distracted driver look up at the right time, to swerve back into their own lane to keep you both from hitting each other head on.  Perhaps when you were driving and weren't paying attention the Lord helped guide you away from hurting yourselves or someone else.

* Person
Perhaps while you weren't looking the Lord protected your house from burning down.
Perhaps while you weren't looking the Lord protected your spouse, child, siblings, parents or friends from an illness or dangerous situation that could cost their lives.

The ones I listed are all physical situations but the Lord's protection occurs everyday in our spiritual lives too. How many times does He guide people or circumstances away from you because He knew it would destroy your spiritual life? Many times I'm sure!

       

I listed only a very few of the thousands of times the Lord protects us from danger. I hope you can see in your own life some of the times the Lord has protected you from harm or a difficult circumstance. Sometimes through our own carelessness, other times through someone else's carelessness. There are so many attributes of God that we can and should be thankful for, I hope this is a small reminder of how thankful we should be for the Lord's protection we can see everyday, and also the 'undercover' protection (times we will never know about) too!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

** Ladies Christmas Party - Winter Wonderland **

       This past Monday night our church had our Ladies Christmas Party! We had such a good time of fellowship and just having fun with the other ladies of the church! A time where most of the ladies for a little while get to come away from the cares of their adorable children and their husbands, and just worry about themselves and get to fellowship with like-minded Christians! 
       The original intent of this blog is to cover a host of different things: lessons I am learning, decorative ideas, and any other ideas I can think of! ;) So today I just wanted to share a few pictures of how our Christmas Party was decorated! I know a lot of times, for us it is hard to find ways to decorate, (although now we have the amazing site of Pinterest) so here are some of the ideas that our group came up with!

***First I'd like to give the credit where it's due. My Mom had the original theme, and our Youth Pastor's wife helped, along with another lady in church who came up and was a HUGE help too! We also had another lady who made a lot of the decorations, she did such a wonderful job! Then we have the 'brawn' of the group, which would be the men! Our Youth Pastor and my Dad, who actually helped with some ideas too! :) This was quite a group effort!

Christmas Party Theme: ** Winter Wonderland **

~ The place where we had the Christmas party is really a huge gym, but my Mom wanted to make more of a room, to give it a comfy feel and make it easier to decorate. SO the next couple of pictures will show you our makeshift walls! Here is the back wall of the gym that we covered with plastic table cloths and added snowflakes bought from Walmart. Straight ahead is a scene a very talented lady painted for different occasions at church which made our 2nd wall. 


  
Below is our back (3rd) wall, which is a wood partition with tablecloths over it, along with snowflakes. Straight ahead the Christmas trees with lights and white pillars made the border of our 4th wall.

   
~ The chairs were placed in a circle, and covers were made for the tops. In between the chairs were 4-leg wooden tables with covers over them for drinks and added decoration.
~ Tables for food had blue tablecloths with a sheer cover with snowflakes over the top. 
~ Rounded table for Christmas gifts had just a plain blue table cloth. Centerpieces for all 4 tables were flower type arrangements which had blue lights in the bottom of the vase, these gave a beautiful glow to the table.
~ Entrance - pillars with blue and silver garland wrapped around each one, with a string of lights stringing around each of them
~ We used lights with tulle wrapped around them to string from one side to the other, and we hung more snowflakes and icicles from the tulle too!
**To top it off we turned down the lights, and turned on some Christmas music......this made for a perfect effect for our Winter Wonderland!!! :)

Here are some more pictures to give you more of an idea of what it looked like!!! Hope these give you some ideas of the possibilities. I honestly couldn't "see" all of this before it was up; but others saw it and made it happen! :)





**These pictures were the effort of a team effort, I am not responsible for any of the gorgeousness that you see! I merely did what I was told! ;) 

Friday, November 22, 2013

** My Precious Holiday Memories **

           Oh how I love the holidays this time of year!!:) As long as I can remember Thanksgiving and Christmas in the Hall household has always been done in great style and with such excitement. No matter how much money we had, my Mom always made both of these holidays special. We used the same decorations for Christmas for many years, but each time we put them up she made it seem like it was her first time seeing them. So we just followed her in her excitement, and were ecstatic when it was time to put them up again. So now that I am grown I still get SO excited about these holidays! I'm now just as eager to get those Christmas decorations put up; and last year we finally got my Dad to put lights up on the house! Oh!! They were just gorgeous to us!!! We are working on him getting them up this year too, but he's really a softy inside so I think we will have some pretty lights up this year too! ;)  I'm going to open the door to our house a bit, and let you see what these holidays are like for us! 
        First thanksgiving. All of us girls (minus 1 :( ) and my Mom pick dishes we are going to make, and are all in the kitchen sharing ingredients and pretty much making a huge mess; guys in the family come in sniffing and complaining about WHEN the food will be ready. Once it's ready we stuff ourselves to the full then take a nap to let it digest you know ;) Then we have a game we play called "bonky ball" where we all stand around in a circle outside and hit the ball going from A to Z. My brothers are at this "macho guy" stage where they just think every time they hit the ball they have to make a sound or make it look cool; then there's my Dad who will hit the ball as hard as he can in a direction, and one of us have to run to hit it before it hits the ground and herd it back to the circle. All of this may sound corny or absolutely boring, but to me it is absolutely the most precious memories in the making. We have some of the funnest times just being together! It's a time where we get to come apart from the cares of the ministry or just the day, and be together. Then late Thursday night/early Friday morning the girls in the house go Black Friday shopping, and often we aren't out for a great deal necessarily, but it's just fun for us to all go out together. Many times we just stop to get something to eat. 
       Then Christmas!! The Christmas season starts well before December gets here. As soon as Thanksgiving is over, sometimes that very night, we get our Christmas decorations up while listening to some Christmas music. It takes us quite a while to get everything up, because one person likes one decoration in a certain place only for the next person to move it, and by the time 7 people do that it has become totally chaotic. Once our house is in the Christmas spirit, then we start making white chocolate covered pretzels and all those delicious Christmas goodies!!! It's no wonder we all think our new years resolution needs to be a diet! Us kids all swap names in a hat to buy a gift for our secret someone. Then all of us kids used to go out with my Dad to buy Moms Christmas gifts until my Mom wanted to come too. Now we have to figure out how to buy all of her Christmas gifts with her there. We all hated leaving Mom behind though, so we have become creative with sneaking things by her! While we are out, we all have to pair up to buy our secret someone a gift too.  Then we finish off with going to Steak n' Shake to get a meal and some holiday milkshakes. (but just butterfinger for me thank you!) We go Christmas caroling with our church, then on Christmas Eve we go riding around looking at lights and singing Christmas carols.
      
      I'm sure I have left a few things out in our holiday 'traditions', but the general idea of these holidays is family. Of course all of our hearts aren't completely together, because part of our heart belongs to 5 people in Chile! :( We have learned the Lord's will is not our own, and to trust Him even when we miss those we love! 
      I hope each one of you have holiday traditions with your families. I encourage you to put down all the electronics and tell friends no you can't spend a lot of time with them, these seasons are times to cherish your families! Make memories!! I am so very thankful my parents for as long as I can remember put aside most things when it came to these holidays. They paved the way for all of the memories I have today, and continue to have. You don't have to be rich or spend a bunch of money to make these holidays special. Most of the things we do cost nothing but some gas or the price of our ball  ($3.97 at Walmart). All they really cost is the time of each one of us. My Dad instilled in us the importance of family from the time we were all very small, when you feel no one else is on your side family is the one thing apart from God that will always stand beside you! Your family are your best friends, (sometimes) enemies, play mates, audience, partners in crime, will work beside you, will soul win beside you, the people you can always be yourself around, always count on, and will love you always and forever. I thank the Lord every night for allowing me to be born in this family, I personally think I have the best family! (I hope all of you feel that way about yours too!) Parents who realized very early that their children were their greatest responsibility! God has been so good to me, I hope you can look around at your precious family and say the same thing!!
     Maybe you don't have any holiday traditions, it's not to late to start them! Pick some traditions to start and get them going! Maybe you have some great holiday traditions already, if you do and don't mind sharing them I would LOVE to hear about them! I just love all ideas Thanksgivingy or Christmasy! Just comment below! :)

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

What Do You Say?

       For the past couple of weeks the Lord has been convicting me about how many times I say things that don't need to be said, and then don't say what needs to be said. A couple of months ago the Lord impressed this on me also, and I studied the Bible writing down all the verses that had anything to do with the tongue. I also highlighted them in my Bible for easy reference, and memorized a lot of them too. But sadly as time went by it was so easy to let the bad and unpleasant habit sneak back into my life without realizing it. Until during my devotions confessing my sins, it was like the Lord played a recorder back about the things I said that had hurt people, and times I missed the opportunity to encourage someone. As the song says this Christian life is truly a battlefield that we must fight each day. Enemies so easily and quickly show up and sometimes we recognize them, other times not until it has consumed us. Sure hope I'm not alone!  I have a horrible habit to come back with a stinging remark faster than I can think about it before I say it, this makes trying to control my words 10x's more difficult. So I am back once again in the Bible studying it to re-learn how to use my tongue/words right. I will share some of the things I have learned, for those who may also have problems controlling their tongue.

Proverbs 18:21 "Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof." The Lord is telling us there are 2 completely different outcomes that can come just by the use of our words. Whichever one you love, will determine what you produce in your life. We have the power to uplift someone or to completely destroy them with what we allow to come out of our lips.

* DEATH *
      When negative things come out of our mouth or others mouths it is a good indication of what the heart is like. Proverbs 17:20 "He that hath a froward heart findeth no good: and he that hath a perverse tongue falleth into mischief." So we must take special precaution to check the temperature of our hearts constantly because without realizing it the devil will plant seeds of bitterness, jealousy, discouragement and other sins that will begin to grow and make our heart sick. Before long that will come out in our words to others. The devil is so smart and knows in what area we are the weakest. 1 Peter "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour." If you find yourself in this predicament you must go to God and confess sin your life.
       Stay away from those with negative attitudes. There's nothing wrong with speaking to them occasionally, but if you spend time with negative people you will become like them. 1 Corinthians 15:33 "Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners." Do not be fooled into thinking that you can handle someone who is negative or has a bad spirit, the Lord tells you you cannot! Before long you will be just like them!
       Realize your flesh enjoys saying negative things. Psalm 52: 2,4 "Thy tongue deviseth mischiefs; like a sharp razor, working deceitfully. Thou lovest all devouring words, O thou deceitful tongue." I hate to hurt someone and will go through great lengths to avoid disappointing or hurting someone, but in a split second I will say an unkind word. Why? Because our tongues LOVE saying words that devour someone. We must be oh so careful! Do not be the reason someone goes home and cries, or leaves your presence feeling worse than when they came! This definitely should not be said of a child of God, the one who was showed the greatest love that anyone could ever show to you!

* LIFE *
    This is the most rewarding one, you can make someones day simply by saying the right thing. Proverbs 31:26 "She openeth her mouth with wisdom and in her tongue is the law of kindness." Do you open your mouth with wisdom and kindness? Or does it depend on what mood you are in?
    We keep ourselves out of trouble by controlling our tongues. Proverbs 21:23  "Whoso keepeth his mouth and his tongue keepeth his soul from troubles." We could all use help staying out of trouble!
     Spreading the gospel with your tongue is the best thing you can do. How often do we use our tongue to tell others of Jesus? Proverbs 15:4 "A wholesome tongue is a tree of life: but perverseness therein is a breach in the spirit." You can be a tree of life to others, spreading encouraging words everywhere you go! Do others know by your words that you are encouraging, so when they have no one else to talk to they know they can call you because you will encourage them in the Lord? You can remind others just how good God is! We certainly could talk all day about how good God is to us!
     Proverbs 12:18 "There is he that speaketh like the piercings of a sword: but the tongue of the wise is health." We have the power to pierce someone with our words, or to promote the health of someones soul. This is obvious but the more we use our tongue to say something kind to someone the less time we have to hurt them with our words. You have the power to say just the right thing to brighten someones day! Proverbs 25:11 "A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver."




James 3:8 "But the tongue a can NO MAN tame; it is an unruly evil full of deadly poison."
The key to controlling our words is to realize who is controlling US! Is it your flesh or is it the Holy Spirit? Without the influence of the Holy Spirit, we will go by our nature which will produce nothing but sadness in us and those around us! We on our own cannot control our words, ONLY through the Holy Spirit will we accomplish this! There is quite a bit of scripture in this post, but the best place you can ever go when you are struggling with something is to go to God's Word and find what He says about it. I have really only given a very small amount of the verses that are in the Bible concerning the tongue. The Lord has SO much to say on the tongue, it would be wise to study and apply them in our lives. This is a daily battle with me, it is so easy to say what we feel; but we must retrain our tongue to say the things that will encourage others.Through the Holy Spirit we can hold our own in this tough battle! :)

Monday, November 18, 2013

Family By Design

         Each family is perfect the way God designs them whether you are oldest, middle, youngest or just in between. He places each child in a specific order for a reason He alone knows, but sometimes allows us to have some insight on why. For those of my readers who don't know me personally, I am the 2nd oldest in a family of 7 children. I love my family, it is quite large compared to the normal family, but I wouldn't change it for anything. We are all very close and have a great time together, besides the spats here and there!;)
        Through all of my growing up years me and my older sister were best friends, doing everything together. During different pastorates my Dad had we were the only friends that each other had, so we grew closer due to that also. She tends to be the outgoing one, whereas I'm more shy and kind of to myself. I always tagged along behind her learning so many things to do, and also NOT to do. ;) Unknowingly I depended on her to do so much, and just tagged along behind. When my sister got married in 2009 it was like a rug was pulled out from underneath me. I had lost my sister, best friend, roommate and in a way my confidence too; I became so lonely. As I look at it today it was almost like the Lord said, I can't use you if you're always tagging along behind someone; your eyes must be on Me alone. He also had much greater plans for my sister than always leading me about! Just because I am shy and quiet by nature doesn't mean that's how the Lord wants me to be. I can't show or tell others about the Lord if I'm quiet and don't say a word. It took me quite a while to establish a new normal after a big hole was made in my life. Through talking with my Mom and dealing with loneliness she told me, "Jessica when you feel lonely or are discouraged find a place to serve the Lord, and just keep serving until the Lord moves you or shows you something else. When you are focused on someone else through serving the Lord, you will tend to not notice the loneliness so much." Matthew 6:33 "But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness: and all these things shall be added unto you." So that's what I did, I started serving in as many places in the church as I could. Slowly I began to establish a new confidence I had never had on my own before. Those who know me know that I am still shy but slowly the more I serve others, big and little, slowly the Lord is helping me come out of that shell.
        I wish I could say that I am no longer lonely but this is just the opposite, sometimes the ache of desiring someone to be serving along side of is so overwhelming, but the Lord is good and reminds me to not get my eyes off of Him. Seek HIM first, not what I want. Serving the Lord consists of sacrificing what I want for what He wants!
       I Cor 7:43b "The unmarried woman careth for the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit:" This is the verse I quote to myself over and over. I remind myself this is my job at this time of my life, until the Lord shows me differently. I have made it my choice to be so busy serving, I have no time for much else. Usually from the moment I step on the church property Sundays & Wednesdays I go from one area of service directly to the next. I have received comments because I don't socialize a whole lot during church, because I'm always going. I have made this my choice so I don't get my eyes off of the focus, there are many temporal things I can look at that will distract me from the Lord, and make me unusable to Him. I know the Lord specifically placed Ashley in my life as my older sister, so I could be a follower and learn things from her; and then for her to to get married and move out of the country (as a missionary) because He knew that was the only way I would become usable for Him. He allowed me to go through a process of stripping me of my confidence in her, to my confidence in the Lord alone. I thank the Lord so much for giving me a sister to learn from, then also for those tough lessons He puts us through to mold us and make us into what He needs us to be.
      Whether you are married, unmarried, in the ministry or not, have children or don't I think all of us struggle with loneliness from time to time. The Lord allows loneliness and other discouragement to come in our lives to always teach us something. It could simply be He wants us to spend more time with Him, or to find somewhere or someone to serve. I think all of us must realize when we start becoming focused inward through dwelling on being lonely, offended, or just discouraged our eyes are becoming clouded by things of the flesh. It is not about how we feel or what will make US happy, it is about how we can please the Lord and what will make HIM happy.


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Ministry Battle

               Over the past few years the Lord has given me the great privilege to work with children in the ministry. I personally have taught a 3-6 yr old class for Sunday School for over 5 years, taught Pee Wee Class Wednesday night for about 2 yrs, moved to teens on Wednesday, and more recently have included the bus ministry on Sunday mornings! I LOVE each area I serve in, and thank God for the privilege often! However, let me tell you the bus ministry is a whole lot different than any area I have served before! The Lord has definitely taken me out of my comfort zone with this one, which I am truly thankful for. Everyone can be involved in most ministries if they have a willing heart, I'm not saying every ministry at once, but there should be a willingness to be used in ANY area! I assure you, our church like many, has areas where we could add a few extra volunteers to lighten the load on the rest. 
            The first week I rode the bus, it didn't turn out well, the kids left frustrated I left frustrated and I felt like a failure that entire week! I was so heartbroken when I went to bed that night, and prayed, "Lord I know I failed you today, I'm sorry. I am so out of my realm here, please teach me how to serve in this ministry." That week I kept praying, studying, and reading anything I could to help me. Children are SO important to the Lord, and I so want to please Him. Matthew 18:5-6 "And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me. But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea." So I kept asking the Lord how to accomplish this task He had placed before me to His glory. I know the Lord was not exactly glorified the week we both left frustrated. 1 Cor 10:31b "...or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God." 
            These are some of the things the Lord impressed or showed me during my studying. Most of these thing can apply to any ministry we serve in. 
    * Prayer. I believe the battle is either won or lost in the week leading up to the time of your ministry. The ministry whether nursery, choir, teaching, playing an instrument, bus ministry or whatever area you serve in does not began the hour it starts. The greatest tool at our disposal is prayer! How dare we stand up to teach, sing, work with children or anything else without the power of God on our lives. James 5:16 "The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much." I wonder how many outcomes would be different, had everyone involved prayed for the ministry they would serve in! 
   * Prepare. Whatever your job is in the ministry whether helper, or leading prepare for what you're doing. This goes without saying in a musical ministry, but this should also be wherever we serve. As for me in the bus ministry, my preparation starts Monday (or in this case Tuesday, since I was at Fun Spot with teens Monday ;) ) where I decide what my promotion, songs and everything else that goes along with it will happen next Sunday. If you fail to prepare, you have prepared to fail! 
   * Be excited and energetic. If you are not excited about your ministry, what makes you think those you serve will be excited? Children are drawn in by someone who is energetic and excited! If you are in a children's ministry I can't express this enough!
   * Behavior. At times if you are prayed up and have prepared well, this will curb a lot of the misbehavior issues; but at times there will still be those who will test you. You can always take the easy route and not let them come back, that just breaks my heart. I am reminded how much grace and mercy the Lord has with me everyday of my life. This is the only hope some of these kids will ever have, don't be so quick to give up on them and condemn them to an eternity in hell. What if it takes that child 3 years of riding on your bus route, or coming to your class to realize how much he needs the Lord? Yet he/she is kicked out on the second time they misbehave and they never get to see how much the Lord loves them and wants to save them, because you were not willing to deal with them. If you will talk to them you will see a very clear and unpleasant picture of where some of these children come from. Broken homes where screaming, yelling and violence is common, and where curse words and police visits is a daily occurrence. A young boy on my route has to alternate nights with siblings to watch his 1 month old sister, so the Mom can go out. Just breaks my heart! Then for a few hours a week, they get to take a break from their lives and come to church where God's love should be evident, and where workers are excited to see them and love them! PLEASE love them. Love those you serve, whether big or little. Sometimes you have to figure out how they need your love! Some need tough love, others gentle love; still others may need a little of both. You must learn those you serve, and what they need. You can't do that if you only speak to them when you correct them! 
**I do realize that sometimes there will be a child beyond your control, but before you decide they are beyond help please try EVERY option available; pray and ask God to show you a "new" way to love them. It should break your heart to lose any child, this should only happen very few and far between! 

           


***If you are in a ministry, you cannot glorify God if you have not prayed or prepared yourself for those He has called you to serve! 
So in conclusion, the next week I rode on the bus I met with those who are on the bus with me, and kind of gave them my ideas and asked for theirs. We came up with a definite plan of action, I prayed and prepared best I knew how.....it was a completely different bus route! One of the little girls on the route said, "Wow, this is the best Sunday ever!" I'm sure it was not, but I believe the Lord allowed her to say that to give me a little pat on the back that I'm on the right track! ;)

Friday, November 8, 2013

Giving It All

             This week God very vividly taught me a principle that I have heard over and over, but it never came alive like it did today! In my posts I use a lot of real life/personal experiences in them. For one reason I never want anyone to think I am better than others and am giving these posts because I am judging others lives, or have this wealth of knowledge but that maybe some of the things the Lord teaches/is teaching me daily can help someone else! Anyways back to the reason for this post!
             I was having a conversation with my Mom today, who also happens to be my best friend ;) I was telling her how I wouldn't make enough money this month working, because I lost some of my work through different situations, to make my Faith Promise Missions commitment. Without a beat my Mom came back and said, "What about your savings?" My immediate thought was no, I can't use that. The savings is NOT for that, it is for my future. Before everyone thinks I'm a secret millionaire, this was a little bit I had saved little by little working, definitely not much by most peoples standards. It was however enough to pay my missions. It was almost like the Lord asked me, "Oh is that your back up plan, in case the trust you have in me doesn't work out?" Ouch! I had never thought this out this much before, but as I thought about it today I was using it as a safeguard.
             If I was asked would I give the Lord my all, my answer would've been a resounding yes!! But I realized through my actions I was not willing to give this up. (I know how horrible!) Sadly, as I type this now I am ashamed. Was my thought if God brings my husband into my life, surely the God of the universe can't provide the funds also?! I don't believe I actually "thought" this, but my actions were clearly shouting this! Here in the beginning of the year I promised God I would give a certain amount in missions each month, but that didn't include that tiny savings account? Can't I have anything, even something so tiny? Absolutely not!! God wants EVERYTHING, it doesn't matter how big or small it is to me!!! If I am not willing to give that, why would God ever give me anything else?
              I think this lesson was not only about my savings account, but also my decision to wait on God's will for my life. I have already decided I will trust the Lord in His perfect will for my life. Realizing that I may not marry until 25, 30, or later; I will not settle for just anyone. The world (or other well meaning Christians) will not tell me what "the age" is for marriage.
              However, it seems like I forgot to tell my savings account that too ;) I think because this is a monthly, weekly, and sometimes even daily battle; there are times when the emotions take over and it's hard to simply trust God's will. So in having the savings account it was my back up plan, and still not giving ALL of my life to God's will. As in salvation, it is a covenant between me and God. I accept Jesus into my heart, and God said He will do the rest. It is not a feeling, but simply a trust that God will do what He said.So also in my life, submitting it to Him and trusting Him to do the rest.
              Trust is not having a back up plan, but simply giving my ALL to the Lord to do with as He sees best. I believe sometimes God doesn't exactly need everything, but He simply wants to know we are willing to give Him all! Watch out for the little corners in your heart, there may be a bit of you that has not been given to the Lord. Take inventory often, and make sure every part of you is given to the Lord. The Lord knows and sees your heart. Hebrews 4:12c (...and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart."

 


**Maybe you don't think you have this problem! I hope not, I hope you can honestly say you have given everything you have to the Lord. Ask the Lord to search your heart and confirm this! If you would have asked me yesterday, I too would have said yes God has my everything!
1 Peter 5:8 "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:"

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

You're Absolutely Precious!

           Do you ever have those days you feel so worthless, no one likes you, it wouldn't affect a soul if you left; pretty much so low that if you sat on a curb you still could not reach the bottom? I have had a day like that recently! I think we all have days like this, but they shouldn't turn into weeks or months for sure!
           Recently I became aware of a special lady who felt so worthless and inferior, that during service she would just keep her head down. Those close to her would try to encourage her to sit up, but she simply felt so low she couldn't! This just breaks my heart, NO child of God should ever feel like that for a long period of time! So today I just want to remind each one of you just how precious you are to God!
Psalm 139:17-18 "How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand: when I awake, I am still with thee." God thinks about us with precious thoughts that are more than the number of sand on the earth! If you think about how much sand is in a little sand box, you definitely can't count that, but He thinks about us with precious thoughts that are as much as all the sand combined! precious - of great value, greatly cherished, costly, dear, expensive, high, valuable Each one of these describes what YOU are to God!
           The first way to feel precious to God is through accepting Jesus into your heart as your Savior! If you are not sure about that, or have a question please contact me! Then, once you are saved you must recognize all that was encompassed in this! God gave up His most prized possession Jesus, to buy YOU back because you are so precious! If there was no one else on earth, or you were the only one who needed it, Jesus still would have died for YOU and only YOU!
           Today do you need to feel loved? I've had days like that! Tell the Lord, ask Him to show you He really loves you! I promise if you look close enough He will! He wants to show you how much He loves YOU! If you look outside around you and listen, you will hear the Lord tell you just how precious you are! You must learn to love yourself! You cannot obey Mark 12:31 "And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these." How will you know how to love your neighbor if you don't first love yourself?
           The world tries to tell you you are weird, odd, out of style or just not worth anything if you don't follow the latest exercise plan, fashion trend, body size, or look like a certain model. This is ABSOLUTELY not true!  Psalm 139:14-15 "I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth." The Lord is telling you right here you were made fearfully, wonderfully and marvelous! So from the start you were already made spectacular!!! No one has the right to tell you what your worth is! Your worth is not found in the opinions of others; but in the opinion of the One Who created you!
           A lot of times insecurities come from an unpleasant past. Young children are very impressionable, and if they are constantly told how bad they are, they will start believing it! Also insecurities come from sins committed in the past, that you just can't let go!  Psalm 103:12 "As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us." Once you have confessed your sins, they have been completely erased. When you keep bringing them up the Lord doesn't even know what you are talking about! You must forget your past and move on!
Little by little you can change your perspective by:
*Accepting you are loved!
    You are loved by God! John 3:16, 1 John 3:1
*Making a list of your strengths and weaknesses.
     Make a list of you strengths and weaknesses, and then set some goals to change the negative things that   you can change. Everyone has strengths, use those strengths for good, or something that will glorify God.
*Smiling and help others.
    Put a smile on that face, and start looking outward. Nothing helps you feel better or give you more worth, than helping others. There is ALWAYS someone you can be a blessing to.
*DON'T hang around negative people.
   You can tell by their actions and speech, which people are negative. Stay away from those type of people, they will never encourage you, but will only make you worse. Find joyful people, and spend time with them; it will rub off on you! :) Yesterday I was just having a rough day, but spending time with some special teen girls and our Youth Pastor's Wife helped me so much! I came with a cloud over me, and left with a smile on my face and laughter in my heart!
*Confess sin and turn from it.
    When you confess your sin to the Lord, don't let it consume you're mind. Forget it, as the Lord did. Don't keep committing the same sin, you have just confessed. Forget the sin, remember the lesson!
*Be YOU! 
  No one could be you, like YOU! Don't try to be your friend, or someone you think it "popular". Be who God made you to be. He doesn't need replicas of the same person, He needs you for a special purpose! Don't make yourself useless to God, by trying to be like somebody else.


                     No one can make you feel inferior without your consent



There is so much more I could say about this subject, I believe there are so many more woman/ladies/young girls who feel this same way. Like they are a nobody, and just want to walk around with their heads down, like the lady I mentioned. If I could talk to each one of you personally I would tell you: (insert name) YOU are smart, YOU are talented, YOU are gorgeous, YOU are absolutely perfect the way God made YOU, God created YOU with the perfect face and body. YOU are a child of the King, royalty. YOU are so expensive, and valuable it cost God His most prized possession to buy YOU back. Don't EVER let someone tell YOU, or let yourself believe YOU are ANYTHING less than a precious, prized and cherished possession! We have a kingdom in heaven, royalty prepares for their kingdom from the time of their birth. Walk like you are a child of the King!:)

Sunday, November 3, 2013

God IS Good!!

           Today's post isn't going to WOW anybody, but is simply going to praise My Savior Who deserves the utmost praise! I was reminded by a song that was sung in our church Sunday Night, titled "God Is Good"! I encourage you to listen to it sometime! It was sure a great encouragement to me!
            God IS good! This is a fact. He doesn't NEED us to acknowledge it to be good, He just is. It reminds me of my 3-6 yr old class, there are times when I will tell a child how good they are being, to give them praise, but also as an incentive to continue to be good. This is unlike God, He doesn't need us to acknowledge that fact, for Him to CONTINUE to be good. He just is! I am so thankful of that. There are times when I "forget/neglect" to tell God how good He is, or to thank Him. How grateful I am, that He doesn't just shut off His goodness to me because I don't tell Him. I do believe that God gives us maybe a little extra blessing, if we thank and acknowledge that He is good; but He still continues to be good regardless.
      Psalm 145:9 "The Lord is good to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works."
            Now, I just want to tell  how good my God is! On April 13th, 2001 He reached down and made me aware of the fact, that if I died I would go to hell; and I bowed my head along with my sister (and best friend) and asked Jesus into my heart! That was the happiest day of my life!
            The Lord also allowed me to be born and raised in a Christian home, with parents who love God and have made it evident through their love and devotion to the Lord. Refusing to allow me to do what was popular, but rather what was safe and right before the Lord; they have saved me from many a heartache. I often wonder in my quiet time, why God allowed ME the privilege to be raised in this kind of home, instead of some of the homes of the kids on my bus? I am certainly not better than any of them, but simply because God IS good!
             I get to be apart of THE greatest church (in my opinion!) and I am allowed to serve Him through so many capacities. I get to serve along some great people; but also serve some awesome people too! The ministry is truly one of the hardest and can be physically and emotionally exhausting; but to me it is the greatest occupation on earth. It will truly be the one that matters in eternity. Sometimes when you walk away from a ministry you serve in and have this overwhelming feeling that you failed, but because God IS good He comforts us and reminds us that He is there to help us!
              There are so many more areas that God is abundantly good to me in, that if I listed them this post would never end! Every day I wake up God IS good, as I go throughout the day God is still good, and when I lay down at night He remains good! Anything that is good in my life, is simply because God IS good.  I think if we could see all the many dangers and circumstances the Lord keeps us out of, we would be willing to tell the Lord more how good He is; but we get use to this "safe" life and take for granted that it is His duty for us to have an easy life. If His goodness depended on our acknowledgment of it, as with those little kids in my class, I'm afraid with everyone His goodness would cease and we would all be destroyed by this life. I hope everyone frequently tells the Lord how good He is! If you have nothing else to praise the Lord about (although everyone is blessed beyond measure) then just be thankful that God IS good!!!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

To Please Him

        I wonder how many times a day, week or year do we give thought to when we stand before God. The Bible says in Romans 14: 10c, 12 "...for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God." The judgment seat of Christ is where a believer will stand before God and give an account based on the things they have done for Christ. For me this is a very sobering thought! If God were to say (insert name) what did you do on October 31st to please me? My hope is that we would have a list of things we did for Him; but honestly if I don't plan on doing things for Christ they just don't get accomplished in a busy day! The Bible says we will ALL be judged on what we have done FOR Christ, by the Lord's standards, not by ours. There are many areas we can and should please God, I will just mention a few that stand out to me in my life:

1. Bible Reading & Prayer
I hope everyone has a set time to read your Bible and pray. How can we know how to please God, if we don't read what He says? I encourage you if you don't already have a set time to read your Bible every day, that you make one. God is to be the center of our lives, and not just when we can get around to Him. My parents taught me this from a very young age. When I was about 6 on up, my Mom would wake me and my sister up every morning, and we would come downstairs to the table and all read our Bible. When I was young it seemed like a chore, but as I started growing up to today, it is such a sweet time of fellowship with my Lord. That pattern carried on, and the morning is still my favorite time to spend with the Lord. Probably because it is the only relatively quiet time in our house! ;) If you don't read your Bible at all, I encourage you to start reading a little at a specific time each day and ask the Lord to speak to you.

2. Standards & Convictions.
Is there anything you are not willing to do in life because YOU know it's wrong? Convictions are principles found in the Bible, standards are what we build around our convictions to keep us from being tempted. These standards are a safeguard from getting close to breaking those convictions that are Bible based. I strongly recommend, if you have not already, to search the Bible for yourself and find what the Lord commands; then place a standard around them that will keep those convictions strong.

3. Friends
Proverbs 27:17 Do your friends please God? Do they allow you to please God, or do they try to get you away from anything to do with God? Write down the 5 people who are closest to you. These are probably the 5 people you try to please more than anyone else. They are also 5 people you are most influenced by. Now write "God" at the top, and look at your list again. Ask yourself, "If I please God will I still be able to please these people? Or will they laugh at me?". If you can please both, then you have good influences around you; if not, then you need to find some different friends who will HELP you please God. There is nothing like having a friend who will talk to you about the things of God, and encourage you to love God. Someone you can tell walks with God, without them having to tell you. I have also had the opposite, and felt like an outcast if I even mentioned God's name. Believe me, these are people you can do without. As it says in Proverbs 27:17, find a friend that will truly sharpen you for the Lord.

4. Attitude Psalm 51:10
How is your attitude? Does it seek to please God? Our spirit says a lot about what's in our hearts. If we have a sour attitude eventually everyone else will know it too! Matt 12:34b "...for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh." Does our attitude reflect we have a sweet caring spirit that makes people want to be around us? Or do we think of only doing something if it will make ourselves look better? God gives us grace every day. Are we as quick to give that person that always seems to rub us wrong, that same grace? Activities we are engaged in...how is our spirit while we are serving? I LOVE to be around other Christians who enjoy serving. It seems I am always at the church doing something, and I so enjoy working with other adults or even kids who want to be there. That's one reason why I love my 3-6 yr old class. Those kids LOVE to be at church. They are so excited that they GET to come to church. I get just as excited when they bound in with all that energy! Please don't complain or have a bad spirit serving wherever you are. A bad spirit is contagious, if you have one you will most definitely spread it. That is definitely not a picture of Jesus' love toward us! I don't remember Him complaining when He had to go to the cross.

                                                                                               Amen, to be all "used up" for God is my goal! :)



**There are so many other areas that we can and should please our Heavenly Father! I so desire to please God with my life. So many of my friends have went away from serving the Lord, and it breaks my heart. It also gives me a stronger desire to stay in the Bible, lean on my standards and keep my attitude in check so on that day when I stand before my Savior, I will be found pleasing in His sight!




Note to all my readers: Thank you for reading my blog. I tried to convince my Mom that no one would read them if I decided to start a blog. You readers have once again proven Mom is always right! These blogs I type are things the Lord works/is working on me about, and hope maybe they will help you also. I have definitely not mastered this life yet, not even close!;)

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Strength In My Weakness

         2 Cor. 12:9 "And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness." This is one of my favorite verses, especially in my own life. One of the things I inherited from one of my parents is something that has embarrassed me as long as I can remember. I have this very minor condition called 'action tremors'. This is a purely pride 'weakness' for me. Action tremors is defined as a tremor that increases when the hand (or leg) is in motion. Sometimes my hands will shake for no reason, other times it is intensified if I am nervous. I have been asked countless times if I am cold or nervous, when in reality I am neither, just trembling! When I have to hold hands with someone other than family (for prayer), I just know they are going to think I am a freak! ;) This can be VERY embarrassing, and is a reason I tend to like to be behind the scenes! I say this is a pride weakness, because it doesn't hurt or make me lose grip on things, it just makes me shake on the outside. I know without a shadow of a doubt the Lord gave me, and not any of my other siblings, this because He knew I would need to learn humility that only this could teach me. I sing in choir at my church, and my sister knows if I reach over and tap her foot it means share your book with me because I can't turn the page, for fear of dropping it because of my trembling hands. Getting up in front of anyone makes me nervous, which intensifies the trembling and anything I do with my hands looks like an earthquake is happening. For someone who is a control freak, not being able to control my own hands, and sometimes legs is a very humbling thing! God is so good, and knew I needed these lessons in humility.
          Honestly this is the least of my weaknesses, and lest you think I have a body full of sickness, I'm talking about in my spirit. I have SO many weaknesses that I see everyday, in my own strength I will never be able to win. As embarrassing as it is to shake uncontrollably, I am so much more embarrassed when I allow my weakness of my pride, discontentment, and many others to be seen to others. Because that means I chose to not allow the Lord to show His strength through me. I can't take a pill or do some remedy to stop my physical weakness,  but God has given me and you the best tools to win this battle every time. We so seldom decide to use His strength in our weaknesses every day. When you face the battle of discontentment, where do you run? Is it first to the TV, music, a friend or food to drown your sorrows? Or is it on your knees, or to the Bible? In every situation of life whether you have physical ailments, or just spiritual/emotional, God should be our source of comfort in each situation! He will give us the RIGHT answer, not just the one we want to hear! When the Lord becomes our strength, someone can say something unkind to us and we can sweetly respond. Knowing that if I was in my own strength I would have come back with something unkind. We have such a powerful God, and He wants to help us. When we choose to let Him be our strength, we avoid sin that we become that light of Jesus' power to the world.
            Now the rest of 2 Cor 12:9b & 10 "Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong." Wow even as I type this blog, I don't know that I have ever thanked God or taken pleasure for my action tremors, I'm quite sure I have not. I need to remember when I get up there and play the piano, or simply hold my song book in choir I am doing it through His strength, because I know on my own I would be quaking (literally ;)! I also don't know that I have thanked God for the times of discontentment, because they teach me to rely on God, even when I can't see the whole picture! I for sure haven't taken pleasure in them! There is so much instruction packed in these few verses! Maybe you have this under control and this is not really up your alley, I promise that it will be one day. You will come to a time when your life, physically and/or spiritually will become full of weaknesses. You can choose to live in your weaknesses and be depressed, or thank God for them knowing that His strength is what you will rely on, and learning the lessons He will teach you through each of them.

....most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me!

I know I need to work on being thankful for both my physical and spiritual weaknesses. Thanking God for His presence in my life, and for also teaching me through each weakness just how much I need Him more everyday.

**Disclaimer: I am in no way saying that my 'weakness' is the same as someone who has one or many physically painful conditions, but I believe the principle in these verses are the same if you have a physical weakness or spiritual/emotional weakness. The Lord doesn't specify what type of weaknesses He will be our strength in, it's all encompassing! :)

Monday, October 28, 2013

Is It Delightful?

         In my morning devotions a couple days ago I was in Psalms 119. As I was reading over and over the same phrase kept being repeated again and again. David was talking, and these phrases kept jumping out at me: "I will delight myself in thy commandments", "thy law is my delight", "thy testimonies are my delight". Then I realized, THIS is one of the reasons why David was called 'the man after God's own heart' in Acts 13:22b "I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfil all my will." I believe one of the reasons David was known as 'a man after God's own heart' was because David delighted to obey God's commandments, and loved His law (Bible). To delight is defined as 'something that gives great pleasure'. It gave David great pleasure to simply obey the Lord. Why? Because David had such a close walk with God, that when He displeased the Lord it broke his own heart. How sad it is when we obey God because it is our duty, and not because it is our pleasure to obey Him!
          As a parent, when you give your child something to do, it makes you very happy if they jump up with a smile on their face, and quickly go and do what you tell them to do with a pleasant attitude. In my mind I see this as the same way.
          Delighting in the Lord's commandments was a way of life, not just an occasional thing when he was in a good mood. Psalm 119:143 "Trouble and anguish have taken hold on me: yet thy commandments are my delights."  When David was running from Saul, he still delighted to obey the Lord. Oh how I desire to please my Savior and not just obey because it's what I'm supposed to do, but to delight in doing what He commands. There is a difference. You can obey God without taking pleasure in what He commands you to do. God wants all of us, including our hearts, just obeying with our bodies and leaving our hearts out of it is not what God desires.
         Does our love for the Lord go deep enough to delight, or take pleasure, in obeying Him? I Jn 5:3 "For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous." Does it break your heart when you displease the Lord, or even just do what you are supposed to do with the wrong attitude? Another thing that impressed me was Psalm 119:136 "Rivers of waters run down mine eyes, because they keep not thy law." How do you feel when someone hurts your husband, children, sibling? David had such a close walk with the Lord that he knew how much it hurt the Lord when others chose to disobey him, that he actually cried for the Lord. Does it break our hearts to see others disobey, or walk away from the Lord?


     
         

**This post goes along with my last post, but reading this chapter this past week in my devotions, made me see just with how much emotion David spoke with in these words. He understood just how important Gods Word was, and had a deep relationship with the Lord! David has always been one of my favorite characters in the Bible, because of his sincere devotion for the Lord. Yes David seemed to fall away at the end of his life, but the Lord still thought enough of Him to inspire Paul to call him 'a man after his own heart'. I have so much work to do in my own life, but I SO desire for the Lord to look down on my life and to be pleased with what He sees. I encourage you to read Psalms 119 sometime, and pay attention to David's emotion in this chapter. See how much He loved the Lord, and how many times he talks about loving and delighting in the Lord's commandments. I hope it touches and convicts you as much as it did me! :)