The Changing of Seasons and Our Faith

 

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Autumn has always been my favorite season. The burnt oranges and reds of changing leaves paint the horizons with blazing new brushstrokes year after year as the weather turns cooler and the crunch of fallen leaves are heard underground. I welcome steady change and the faithful return of fall, skies blazing. The return for man’s work is a comfort and a constant echoed in this season.

Just mention the word fall and dozens of memories flood my mind:

A tall glass of sweet tea, the smell of fresh cut grass and the voices of football announcers on TV—these sights, sounds and smells trigger Saturday memories from my childhood autumns past. My dad worked full days in the hot Alabama sun and still managed to cut the grass just in time each Saturday. He would settle into his recliner with a large glass of sweet tea and enjoy a day full of college football. We talked about anything and then sometimes nothing at all, but it was the time we spent together that was important.

I also remember the smell and rich taste of homemade oatmeal chocolate-chip cookies my mom would bake and place in her handmade, hand-painted pumpkin cookie jar. She was called nearly every Friday to make her signature cookies, either for the football players or for some of my friends.

Read the rest of the post at iBelieve. (Click here.)

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A Letter to My Younger Self on Adoption

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I know you will remember a time in your childhood when you wondered if you were adopted. Never mind that you look like your parents and laugh at your own jokes exactly like they both do; but, just the same, you will wonder if you were adopted and never told. You will naturally gravitate towards books about orphans.

This is the planting of a seed.

Next, you will have a desire to adopt. You will make this a topic of priority with your fiancé and subsequent husband. Being the Type A planner that you are, even a few months into trying to start a family, you will again give adoption consideration and state, “If we can’t conceive on our own we will adopt.”

This is the watering of a dream.

Two kids, and a few years later, you will read Kisses from Katie and determine that if a twenty-something woman from Tennessee can adopt and foster children on her own in a foreign country, then surely you can foster one child on the way to adoption.

This is sunlight upon fertile soil.

Next you will complete the nearly 10 months of work that it takes to train and paper-approve families to foster. It will be a never ending cycle to prove your family fit to parent a child not your own. You will complain and you will wonder why on earth it will take so much to do a good deed.

This is the breaking forth of a seed out of the dark soil into the sun. 

At last, when you thought the day would never come, you will get the call to pick up your foster son. You will go expectantly with his Thomas the Train backpack and snuggle animal from Target. Then you will meet a child who your heart will forever call son. He will be blonde and beautiful and wild and covered in spaghetti sauce and you will have many long days ahead of you.

This will be the stalk rising from the ground.

For 13 months you will labor, love, and advocate on this child’s behalf. You will sing to him, Jesus Loves Me, and do all the things a mother does. You will watch every single person around you love this little boy like he was your very own son—because in many ways he forever will be your son. You will train him in the way that he should go and pray on his behalf.

This will be the wheat ripe for harvest.  

Finally, at the end of 13 months, you will say good-bye to your little boy as he is reunited with his biological family. It will be one of the hardest and perhaps the most impactful goodbyes you will ever say.

This will be the kernel falling to the ground. 

Months will pass, tears will fall, a new normal will encompass your days, and you will wonder how you ever did it all. You will wonder: can I ever do that again? The answer will not come right away–at least not the answer you think others will expect. But in all the waiting, you will say: Loving another child changed my lifemaybe the world in some small way. Then you will tell his story, your story, so that other families may open their homes to make the difference in the life of a child.

Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.

John 12:24

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100 Little Gratitudes

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 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. – Colossians 3:15

Thank you.  Two simple words which can have a significant  impact not only on the receiver but on the giver of the words as well.  The one who is thankful is choosing to shift his focus from that which  he does not have or cannot change to what he has, is blessed with, and enjoying.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.- Phillipians 4:6

When I pause to reflect on my present and past blessings from God, the giver of all good gifts (James 1:17), my mind is more clearly focused on that which I should truly petition and request in prayer. I am more apt to see life in the proper perspective.

I was challenged several years ago to write a list of 100 things that I was thankful for.  It was truly a sweet time of reflection to think on at least 100 people, circumstances, and experiences for which I was thankful.  I hope that this simple exercise in gratitude will spur you to do likewise.

Graciousness is caught in addition to being taught.  I realize more and more that my actions speak so much louder than my words.  I want to live out a life that is authentically gracious and obedient to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, so that I am modeling a life that I want my children to pursue.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart for taking time out of your full day to read this blog.

Here is my list in no particular order.

  1. for life
  2. my husband and best friend, Ron
  3. our children
  4. my parents
  5. my wonderful sister and her husband
  6. all of  my in laws
  7. my nieces and nephews
  8. our family’s collective health
  9. salvation in Jesus Christ
  10. forgiveness
  11. the ability to read
  12. access to almost any book in the world
  13. my Bible
  14. a good nights sleep
  15. our home
  16. two cars (yes, we now are a two car family once again)
  17. fresh fruit and vegetables
  18. my church
  19. friends
  20. furniture
  21. our ministry together
  22. my gym
  23. Emily’s artwork
  24. quiet time in prayer and Bible study
  25. throwing the football with Joshua
  26. toothpaste and a toothbrush
  27. water and warm showers
  28. access to good healthcare
  29. Target, Walmart, Ross, and Michael’s
  30. mercy
  31. hope
  32. a future
  33. my grandparents and extended family
  34. autumn (my favorite time of year)
  35. mentors in the faith
  36. a baby boy on the way for friends who have tried for seven years to have a baby
  37. hiking
  38. kayaking
  39. camping
  40. mail and packages from Nana…and Amazon
  41. God’s provision!
  42. education and the ability to learn
  43. soy vanilla lattes
  44. Costco
  45. time to spend with those we love
  46. freedom
  47. missions
  48. road trips
  49. Jesus’ unending pursuit of my heart
  50. Jefri and Jasmine (our Compassion children)
  51. a camera and photographs of memories
  52. a dining room table to eat at with my family and friends
  53. a bed
  54. clothes and shoes that fit
  55. writing opportunities
  56. a purpose
  57. good music
  58. vegan mayonnaise
  59. dancing
  60. chiropractic care
  61. naps
  62. holidays
  63. protein powder
  64. Auburn University and my experience there
  65. University of South Florida and all that I learned
  66. Pinterest
  67. groceries and money to pay for them
  68. a washer and dryer
  69. wifi and a computer
  70. the Grand Canyon- hiked it four times and it never gets old
  71. science
  72. Classical Conversations
  73. homeschooling
  74. organization
  75. Emily learning to read!!!
  76. electricty and indoor plumbing
  77. travel
  78. children’s books
  79. my memory
  80. thrift stores and consignment shops
  81. my weaknesses because when I am weak then He is strong
  82. Chick Fila, Chipolte, and Olive Garden
  83. second chances and lessons learned the first time
  84. that first impressions aren’t always accurate (Amen?)
  85. laughter
  86. the beach
  87. the moutains
  88. my coffee maker
  89. Christian apologetics resources
  90. funny YouTube videos
  91. my workout playlist
  92. Colorado Pinion Pine Cones (pictured above)
  93. mom’s red velvet cake
  94. Christmas movies
  95. Christmas tree farms
  96. flowers
  97. the sun and moon
  98. Easter
  99. free will
  100. love

 Now, our God, we give you thanks, and praise your glorious name. ~1 Chronicles 29:13

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The Spirit of Giving

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There is a joy that accompanies generosity…

A blessed intimate abiding between the redeemed and the Redeemer who never drops even meager offerings.

In the giving there is a birth which overshadows the death of temporary treasures.

Meager offerings may even be the Father’s favorite kind when we offer all we have. He loves to multiple the offerings of the humble. Consider the five loaves and the two fish. He used a young boy’s simple lunch to feed over 5,000 hungry men–besides women and children.

What if we chose not to give because we thought our offering too little or too simple to be of much use? 

What if instead of concerning ourselves with the size of our offering, we humbled ourselves to give our meagerness or our much cheerfully?

With eyes set on eternity, the cheerful giver cannot wait to drop her donation in the plate, her gift in the box, her package in the mail for she considers the smiles and prayers of thanksgiving waiting on the other side.

The cheerful giver woos man to draw near to Christ as she follows His commandments:

Feed, clothe, give, go, take care…

Knowing  that she cannot out-give the Father, for He has already given of His Son, the cheerful giver will share her abundance or her slight understanding that she is a mere steward and God is the ruler and controller of all things.

The cheerful giver has learned that it is in the opening of the hand, not in the clenching of the fist, that there is life.

May your hands be open and the gifts be plentifully given.

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A Recipe for a Thanksgiving Feast of the Heart

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Turkey, parades, football, family traditions, feasts, and the unforgettable pumpkin pie consume us this time of year.  In pausing to share our gratitude and celebrate family and friends, I would like to offer a Biblical recipe for a thanksgiving feast of the heart.  This one will not cause you to move your belt to the next notch or run to the gym, but might necessitate moving comfort zones or running hard after God’s heart in a way in which you thought only fanatical Christians, or Bible-time-believers did.  Feel free to not limit your portion sizes here, but rather feast on God’s word and the joy of unbridled obedience to the One who alone is worthy of praise.

Psalm 106 and 136

Ingredients:

1.       Heartfelt Confession:

In Psalm 106, confession for sin is made on behalf of the psalmist and of his nation and forefathers.  This Thanksgiving season can commence with repentance and confession. Notice the specific confession versus blanket requests for forgiveness.

Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.  James 5:16

2.        Powerful Prayer:

 Praise the LORD. Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever. Who can proclaim the mighty acts of the LORD or fully declare his praise? Psalm 106:1-2

Psalm 106 seems to parallel 136 in that the former showed the sin of man and the justice and mercy of God, while the later praises the eternal and enduring love of God. Both document points in Israel’s history where God led his people out of exile in Egypt and gave them victory over their enemies by miraculous signs and wonders for the glory of His Name.  In our present and past circumstances we can list the errors of our way. Regardless if our sin occurred in times of abundance, want, blessing, or trial.  During each and every season of our life, no matter our behaviors,God has been good. To be contrary to good is against God’s character.

Read these two chapters in Psalms back to back. See how God’s hand worked good in every circumstance. Consider how God has worked good in your circumstances this year.

God’s love endures forever. Let’s pray that our spiritual eyes will see his love and goodness. That our tongues in turn would praise Him for the works He has done. That our hearts would choose to trust Him even when we don’t understand His ways.

When our ancestors were in Egypt, they gave no thought to your miracles they did not remember your many kindnesses, and they rebelled by the sea, the Red Sea. Psalm 106:7

When we neglect to remember God’s goodness we consequently neglect to praise Him and thank Him. This breeds a heart of discontentment. 

We are commanded to thank God multiple times in the Bible.  In Psalm 136 alone we are commanded four times and then given specifics as to what to thank Him for and why.  Use Psalm 136 as a prayer of thanksgiving to God and then add specifics relevant to your journey in 2014.

Directions:

1.        Combine all of the above.

2.       Enjoy!

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Providing for the Poor

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As it pertains to responding to the requests of the poor and homeless, it seems we have questions as to the right way in which to respond. I wrote at iBelieve about one such positive experience I had. Please join me there today as we explore this topic approaching the Thanksgiving season when opportunities to give abound.

Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. ~Matthew 7:7

My family was eating lunch at a local restaurant amidst dark, black clouds threatening an approaching thunderstorm. I glanced out the window to survey the progression of the storm when I saw a man ride up on his bicycle. It was apparent he was homeless by his unkempt appearance and his beard that hadn’t seen a trim in many months, perhaps years.

I looked at this man and thought: what a hard life. Not knowing where the next meal will come from, not sure of where to spend the night or pass the time until storm blows over. I remarked the same to my husband and his response surprised me, maybe he looks at us the same way. I was stunned. What if my husband was right? Maybe the homeless man sees the unrealistic expectations that I cling to, the purchases I make and the hours that were necessary to work in order to make those purchases. Maybe he looks at my choices to take care of two children and prepare their three meals–and seemingly equal three snacks–a day and think: that’s too much work.

Please head over to iBelieve to finish reading this post and join me in the discussion. (Click here.)

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For Everything There Is A Season

For everything there is a season

 

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven (Ecclesiastes 3:1)

I feel a changing of the seasons. A time for me to keep silent as surely as there is a time for me to speak. I sense that a season away from blogging is in order. A time of refreshing. God is allowing me a season off to spend quality time with my children unhindered by a Tuesday/Friday writing schedule. Time which will allow an occasional skipping of naps to go on an expedition (thank you Christopher Robin); this break will mean the post I needed to write won’t be late. Writing two times a week doesn’t seem like much when I type it, but compiled on a list of other to do’s both maternal, matrimonial, ministerial, and homeschooling (too bad that can’t start with an “m” ) it is much.

Even Jesus need time away.

With that said, I am taking off the entire month of August and will determine if my break will continue in September and October at the end of the month. I believe that it will be a three month break which will pinpoint me coming back in November and December to celebrate our Savior’s birth with you. God will let me know once I have been obedient to take the break I feel is necessary. Being a naturally driven person, it is hard for me to follow through with a break. I have almost talked myself out of it several times over the last week after I made the decision.

I pray that my ministry here is effective in the hearts and lives of those of you who read these posts; that these words I type would be an encouragement to keep fighting the good fight and to arm yourself with the belt of Truth and the breastplate of righteousness and to seek the eternal in the everyday. Thank you for your prayers for me  and my family as well. I will be re-posting past posts over at iBelieve.com during that time so feel free to join me there every Tuesday if you can’t stand the time away. (I almost completely say that tongue-in-cheek!)

May our days apart be a time to plant, to laugh, to dance, to build up, and a time to gather stones–may God’s intended time be beneficial to you while we are apart.

See you in the fall,

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Getting Ready as in the Days of Noah

Getting Ready Noah

The Bible tells us–even more specifically Jesus tells us–that in the last days it will be as in the time of Noah:

Just as it was in the days of Noah, so will it be in the days of the Son of Man. They were eating and drinking and marrying and being given in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. Likewise, just as it was in the days of Lot—they were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building, but on the day when Lot went out from Sodom, fire and sulfur rained from heaven and destroyed them all— so will it be on the day when the Son of Man is revealed. On that day, let the one who is on the housetop, with his goods in the house, not come down to take them away, and likewise let the one who is in the field not turn back. Remember Lot’s wife. Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will keep it. (Luke 17:26-33, ESV)

God determined to destroy His creation and created because of the rampant sin on the earth.

The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the LORD regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. So the LORD said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them.” But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD. (Genesis 6:5-8)

The sins of our day are not unlike the sins of Noah’s day; in fact, sin has been the same since the days of Adam and Eve after the fall. Murder, lying, adultery, covetousness, sexual immorality, and idolatry to name a few. The sins of our times are not unique to our times; they are, however, more rampant and championed–like the days of Noah.

Once God gave Noah the command to build the Ark, Noah knew that the time men had to repent and turn to God was limited. Scripture leads me to believe that Noah preached repentance and faith in God to save those who would listen. The people of his day decided they would mock Noah and his God and not heed the warning of impending doom.

God protected and preserved human life and animal life on the Ark in his abundant grace. God provided a way out–a wooden ark. Today, God continues to provide a way out of damnation and judgment: Jesus Christ. Just as the Ark provided the only way to survive God’s judgment of sin by water, Jesus provides the only way to salvation when we face God’s  judgment of fire. (See 1 Corinthians 3:13 for the believers, and 2 Peter 3:10 for the destruction of the earth by fire.)

For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. (2 Timothy 4:3-5)

I believe we are living once again in the days of Noah. I believe that everything we are seeing on a national and international stage is preparing the way of the Lord as in the days of John the Baptist. That is why it is so very important for us to know the Scriptures so that we are wise unto salvation and prepared to heed the coming of the Lord Jesus. Noah’s Ark may seem archaic, or like a children’s story, but in reality it is a pivotal picture of what is to come.

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What’s the Flood Got to Do With It?

What's the Flood Got to Do With It

You most likely remember the 1984 Tina Turner hit song, What’s Love Got to Do With It? Not sure what Ms. Turner decided about love, but, for the next few posts we are going to consider a brief overview of the Noetic Flood account (Genesis 6-9) and determine, What’s the Flood Got to Do With It? (You can thank me later for planting that song in your head for the rest of the day!)  I think we will find that the world-wide flood of Noah’s time has everything to do with the world we see today, and the condition of the world we will see in the end-times prior to Jesus return.

As we begin to unfold the events of Genesis 6-9, lets commence with a few facts concerning the Noetic flood:

1. From the time God closed the door of the Ark, to the day Noah’s family and the animals departed, was 371 days.

2. The flood had to be global in scope for the following to be necessary:

  • The need for the Ark: Why not simply mass exodus with family and animals during the 120 years from God’s command to build the Ark and Noah’s family entering it?
  • The size of the Ark: The gross tonnage was about 13,960 tons placing it within the category of large metal ocean-going vessels today.
  • All the high mountains were covered. (Genesis 7:19-20) The flood would have had to be global in scope for the waters to cover even one high mountain…let alone all the high mountains. Water seeks its’ own level therefore the water would have had to cover the entire earth to cover one high mountain.

(The Genesis Flood, Whitcomb and Morris, p. 10)

3.  It is imperative that we understand the flood condensation did not come from water found in the cloud coverage. “If all the water in the earth’s atmosphere were to condense, only an average of one inch of rain would fall.” (In the Beginning, Walt Brown, p. 362) However, if we flattened the mountain ranges and lifted the ocean basins then there would be enough water to cover the earth over two miles high.

In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on that day all the fountains of the great deep burst forth, and the windows of the heavens were opened. And rain fell upon the earth forty days and forty nights. (Genesis 7:11-12)

  • “Fountains of the greet deep” refer to subterranean water chambers 10 miles underneath the earth’s surface.
  • The opening of the great deep left a permanent scar on the earth called the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. (Click here for Google Images.)
  • The scar, Mid-Atlantic Ridge,  is composed of basalt rock which is found in the interior of the earth.
  • See full explanation of Dr. Walt Brown’s Hydro-Plate Theory at www.creationscience.com.

Perhaps you, like me, didn’t give the Flood Account a second thought in reference to the scientific and geologic ramifications of such a catastrophe. Perhaps, you focused instead on the animals going in two-by-two and the picturesque rainbow scene thereafter. However, once we look at Noah’s Flood in such a way, it will change our view of the earth and the scientific information of our secular society. Additionally, our understanding of multiple texts we encounter when reading the Bible will be further enlightened and read with added meaning.

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Pinterest Perfect

Pinterest Perfect

I recently had a woman from my home town ask me if I cooked all the recipes that I pin on Pinterest. I had to laugh! She was almost convinced that I mange to homeschool my children, write a blog, and actually try my hand at the pins I pin on Pinterest.

First of all, I was flattered. However, I was also a little unnerved because I somehow managed to give off the impression that I may have achieved what the rest of humanity has yet to do: have it all together. Let me put your ponderings to rest: I am not that good.

Anytime I cook real meals for dinner more than three nights in a week, I joke that I am in the running for wife and mother of the year awards. I do not believe that any of my friends will accuse me of being Sandra Lee or Ma Ingalls! Secondly, my staple meals are black beans and rice with guacamole or homemade chicken salad with Vegenaise mayo. Not quite a Pinterest perfect spread now is it?

Would you join me at iBelieve for the rest of the post? I would be so grateful. (Click here.)

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*Fantastic and fun photo by my husband Ron.

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