$1.00 Texting Challenge

$1 Texting Challenge

Texting. Most of us text anywhere from several messages a day to, at minimum, a few a week. I am completely guilty of checking social media on my phone, reading articles, emailing, and texting while “stopped at red lights.” Often this is the case for when I am driving alone, or sadly, all too often when I am transporting my kids.

As of September 10, 2015, I will no longer be able to text or check my phone in the car without a fine. Why the abrupt and decisive change of mind? Please watch this video and you will see. (Click here if viewing in a reader.)

A video similar to this one produced by AT&T got my attention late one evening this week. It was a tipping point for me.

As of yesterday, my children, my husband, and frankly anyone riding with me, can charge me a dollar if they catch me using my phone while I am driving. Long live the passenger’s seat! The only exceptions are using my phone as a GPS or answering a phone call. Truthfully, even then I am going to be very selective as to answering phone calls.

Four years ago, I totaled my car while driving with my then one-year-old son and three-year-old daughter. A complete accident for which my family is eternally grateful that God saw us through safely. Thankfully, I was not using my phone at the time of the accident. I know what it is to be a wreck and I know that I don’t want any negligence on my part to ever endanger our children or anyone else trusting me with their life while I am behind the wheel.

Accidents will happen. However, there are many accidents that can be prevented.

Another reason that I believe this to be a necessary stance for myself is the witness factor to my children. I want to set the standard for what my elementary age children will be held to when they learn to drive. When it comes to the overuse of our phones, parents have the ultimate standards of hypocrisy. We don’t want our children on their devices, or ours, all of the time, and yet, we too find it difficult to put down the cell phone or tablet and live in real time. (Side note: I think that is one reason why I like books so much. My kids don’t have to guess if I am reading a book or the Bible when they see me holding onto a real book. I read enough articles on line and eBooks that I feel I have to explain that “mommy is reading” quite a bit.) Going hands free in the car will be an example that the kids can return to when they are held to that standard in the future.

So what about you? Will you take the $1 texting challenge for your car rides? My kids can’t wait to catch me texting. Little do they know my iron will isn’t going to budge!

Maybe you are single and don’t have children, or maybe you are an empty-nester. That’s okay! You can purpose your own tangible loss to forgo if you break your commitment to drive hands free.

Put the phone down and enjoy the ride!

If a man vows a vow to the LORD, or swears an oath to bind himself by a pledge, he shall not break his word. He shall do according to all that proceeds out of his mouth. ~Numbers 30:2

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What Your Pastor and His Wife Aren’t Telling You

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Perhaps you are familiar with Ruth Graham’s book, In Every Pew Sits a Broken Heart. You may be quick to nod in affirmation thinking, I have often worshiped with a broken heart among a congregation and friends who are unaware of my hurts and circumstances, for one reason or another. However, it may surprise you to realize the broken or discouraged heart of a brother or sister may be your pastor or his wife.

My husband has served in ministry prior to and all throughout our dating and married years. For the last fifteen years, we have served together in a handful of churches under differing roles and responsibilities. We have enjoyed sweet times serving with fellow staff and lay leaders and the visible fruit of changed lives. Other times, we have served alongside those who, it seemed, viewed us as the enemy or a stumbling block to the way they envisioned ministry should be carried out.

We encountered a situation like that in one of the first churches we served in. The most active couple in the youth ministry was also the most vocal couple in opposition to the direction my husband was taking the students. It seemed no matter what he did, this couple wasn’t pleased and wanted to let everyone know. Months after we left that church, the husband became the youth pastor. It is hard to please someone who wants your job and thinks they can do it better.

Please come read Five Things Your Pastor Wants You to Know But Might Never Tell You over here. Thanks for reading and let me know what you think.

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Homeland: A Christmas Series

Homeland Part 1

When I was young in the mountains, I never wanted to go to the ocean, and I never wanted to go to the desert. I never wanted to go anywhere else in the world, for I was in the mountains. And that was always enough. (Cynthia Rylant, When I Was Young in the Mountains)

I have spoken to several men and women whom desire to live in a different place than where they are. Admittedly, several times in a given week or month, I am one of them. I often love the place I live and other moments I desire a grand adventure far, far away. This phenomena has prompted me to contemplate whether this is a perspective shared by historical accounts of men and women documented in the Bible. So far my search has turned up empty.

I believe the desire for novelty and adventure are good, and God-given, but I also wrestle with the reality that it can be a sign of ingratitude, discontent, and a blinding of my eyes to the mission God has given in the present, to the gifts of here and now. This Christmas God has guided my thoughts on the matter to the account of the shepherds and the wise men.

There are two groups of men that were called to worship and witness the Christ-child: the shepherds and the wise men. The shepherds traveled walking distance to witness the new born King of Kings. These men, by vocation, were homebodies often sleeping among the sheep they guarded and never going far from their flock.

And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them.  (Luke 2:17-18, ESV)

Conversely, the wise men traveled up to two years to witness the Messiah. Their journey started when they saw the star rise and set out to worship him.

When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy.  And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasure, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh. (Matthew 2:10-11, ESV)

In considering the missions of both these two vastly different groups of men, a few similarities stand out:

  • Their mission was to find the Christ and worship Him.
  • They were given a sign to know that they had found the Messiah.
  • They obeyed their assignment.
  • Their response was worship and joy.

Whether shepherd or wise man, pauper or prince, native or foreigner, those that are in Christ Jesus are each traveling to the same homeland. They are each integral parts to the story of the world, redemption, and the promised restoration of God’s creation. We each work in our areas of influence so that it too can be said of us as the cloud of witnesses in Hebrews 11:

For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city. (Hebrews 11:14-16, ESV, emphasis mine)

Shepherds heeded the heralding angels and the wise men followed the star; we are all called to follow the King. Each of us as part of the story should look to our homeland and work toward that same end. Let us find something in our surroundings today to be grateful for and to recognize the hand of God in our adventures near or far.

Have you encountered any men or women in the Bible who desired a grand adventure away from the place they were living? I would love to hear your answers if so. You can leave a comment below or e-mail me at Brooke.Cooney.1@gmail.com.

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A Letter to My Younger Self on Adoption

John 1224

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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All Hands on Deck

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This Sunday I have the awesome honor and great responsibility of teaching my first church-wide apologetics class.

I can’t make that sound as daunting and wonderful to you as I would like to. In world importance it is trifle, but in personal and perhaps lasting change it is big. First off, it is a wonderful opportunity to share some of the creation science apologetics that I have studied for 3-5 years. (Really, anytime you or I have the chance to teach it is a culmination of all that God has taught us up to that particular point in life.)  It could prompt lasting change if it encourages even one person to study in order to  enable them to defend their faith better and give a reason for the hope that they have.

Conversely, it is daunting because there is soooooo much information to choose from and therefore a great deal that I aim to communicate accurately. Additionally, our church is very blessed to have a pastor on our staff with a doctorate in apologetics. He is a great teacher who sets the bar high and I have learned a great deal from him. In other words, this isn’t the class’s first rodeo and they will spot a weakling. (Smile.)

That being the case, I had decided a month ago that for VBS I would choose a behind the scenes, low responsibility type job as it starts the Monday directly after my Sunday class. Well, as it turns out, VBS was short on Bible teachers and I changed my volunteer status to teach four-year-old Bible. Part of the responsibilities of the Bible teacher is room decoration. Also, I still needed a co-teacher as volunteers were sparse. I turned to my community group and sought out help. Wouldn’t you know that a co-teacher committed out of my group as well as three ladies to decorate the room?!

Needless to say, these are full weeks for me and I want to give a public praise to God for providing opportunities and the means to meet the demands of these opportunities.  It is remarkable that even though the three ladies decorating the four-year-old Bible room have week-day jobs and can’t volunteer for the face to face VBS time, they are able to contribute to make the classroom environment fun.

What about you? What ministry opportunities are coming your way? How can you enlist the help of friends and sisters/brothers in Christ to help meet Kingdom needs?

I am so grateful that when God calls us He also provides the means to meet the tasks.

This weekend I will post a list of apologetic resources for the participants of Sunday’s class to access. They are for you as well! The resources are geared to further equip us to answer questions about creation, dinosaurs, and the Flood. Be on the lookout for the list and for upcoming posts that will cover the teaching time.

Thanks, as always, for taking time to stop by This Temporary Home. Please read this post with grace as I am certain I have mixed tenses throughout…and yet, I am leaving it that way. Yikes! 🙂

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Two Reasons I Am Glad I Ditched Facebook

 

Two Reasons Facebook

I decided to take a break from Facebook the beginning of this year. It was a decision that I had grappled with for some time. I excused my forbearing with Facebook because it was and is a great way to gain readers for This Temporary Home. I held onto that social media outlet for the sheer reason that it promoted traffic to the blog and perhaps provided a glimmer of light and substance on the Facebook market.

Fast forward several months and I am more convinced than ever that I made the right choice when I listened to the still small voice of the Father asking me to trust Him and let the stat counter for the blog fall where it may.

That being said,  my goal is to provide encouragement for those of you who may be sensing it is time to take a hiatus or a permanent departure from Facebook or other social media that you currently use. Some people, like my husband for example, are not driven to check the latest status updates or page patrol. But others, like myself, waste time and emotions on digital portrayals of people I know but would otherwise not keep up with in real life. Or, if I do communicate with them in real life, then I can send a text message, email, share a cup of coffee, or make a good old-fashioned phone call to catch up.

Here are two reasons why I am glad I ditched Facebook:

1. Reduced use of one form of social media seemed to contribute to overall decline in time spent on other social media outlets.

I continue to use some forms of social media. However, I found that by eliminating Facebook I dramatically decreased my time spent mindlessly surfing the other social media outlets that I continue to use. I do not find myself checking the remaining social media with the fervency as before.

2. The twin monsters of envy and  jealousy have drastically quietened themselves.

Envy and jealousy are two of the sins that Jerry Bridges refers to as subtle sins. I’ve written about them on numerous occasions because they pose a problem for me as a Christian woman and for most women in general. Since quitting Facebook, I have no idea what other families did this weekend and therefore less temptation to be jealous or envious that while others were out snorkeling in the Florida Keys, I was at home scrubbing toilets and cleaning dishes. I know about my friends adventures via real life conversations and chances are extremely high that I will celebrate with and for them.

I found it too frequently the case that I would hear about an amazing day at the beach or some such tale and then become jealous that I was stuck in the mundane that day while reading that post.  Facebook ran interference with my contentment.

Join me on Friday for three more benefits of quitting Facebook. 

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Gym Lessons

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Being in my early thirties, I should know how to jump rope with ease. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case until a few months ago. Working out is one of my favorite activities and setting small physical goals has become one of the motivations for helping me achieve new accomplishments and avoid a rut. Learning to jump rope was one such small goal.

A few months ago, I entered the gym with a purpose: get a good workout in and see if the CrossFit videos on jump roping would prove beneficial to me. Whom should my gaze find as soon as I entered? A handsome, twenty-something male at the computer in my all-women’s gym! I decided to stall, as any intimidated female would, and I hit the cardio deck.

One mile on the Stairmaster later, I worked up the nerve to pick up my pink jump-rope. I rehearsed the pointers I had learned: “Elbows tight by my side, hands forward at an angle and jump.” Twenty-five revolutions in and I was feeling great! I paused and geared up for a reset to continue jumping after a minor glitch in rhythm, swung the rope and… WHACK! The jump rope hit the ceiling fan and was flung across the room with a loud thud.

Want to find out what happened next? Join me at iBelieve over here.

Enjoy your weekend!

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Happy Birthday Treat

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When you celebrate three birthdays between the second week in January to the first week in February the new year can certainly seem like a whirlwind. This year, we decided to take the kids to Disney to celebrate their 4th and 6th birthdays. Yesterday was the big day we had squelled and prepared over for a few weeks. It was a day filled with Disney magical moments and a minimum of tears and whimpers.  Praise the Lord for that!

Please excuse the abscense of a post on Heaven today and join me for some Disney magical birthday moments? I appreciate your stopping by and I will be back on Friday to dive into the topic of, “Can Our Loved Ones See Us from Heaven?”

Special thanks to our Disney-loving friends Deborah and Christy for helping two clueless parents prepare a wonderful day trip to the Magical Kingdom.

“See you real soon,”

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Thanks to this guy for taking these amazing pictures to help us remember our day and…

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helping end my day with a smile.

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Unpacking Christmas: Three Gifts

 A Christmas Poem

Christmas dawned cool and bright; I awoke at 6 AM that morn’.
All the presents were still wrapped and the ribbon yet untorn.

I began to wonder with delight what the day’s festivities would bring
Would I get that iPod shuffle, a DVD, perhaps a ring?

After breakfast came three presents they were wrapped just as I liked.
When I shook them they were silent, small, and tender…was that right?

The first I gently opened wondering, “Was it delicate and sweet?”
I gasped as I discovered Forgiveness had been given me.

I wept as I recounted all the selfishness, anger, and pride
that had accompanied my character; those traits I try to hide.

I was thankful for this present, overwhelmed at such generosity
to be given what I hadn’t asked for, nor deserved, but yet would be
the greatest gift that only Christ could offer which cost His life on Calvary.
I lingered with Forgiveness one more moment then proceeded to open next,
a present a little larger and more glittery than the rest.

Grace and Mercy came pouring out as soon as I unwrapped the ribbon then
light shone all around it as I gingerly looked in.

Ah, Grace, greater than all my sins which beckons me to come
and Mercy to let me visit with my Savior and consider all that He has done.

Grace, which accompanies Forgiveness but continues to set me free
to pursue the King of Glory and to know the King of Kings.

I marveled once more at Mercy that would allow me to behold
a precious gift much greater than all my weight in gold.
Could there be more to this Christmas? One more present still left beneath the Christmas tree?
I rubbed my eyes in wonder as His Spirit had set me free.

The third gift looked more rustic a little rough that was clear to see.
I eagerly unwrapped this present and was astonished to see… me.

A dirty mirror met my gaze and I started then to fret
as I picked up a note inside then proceeded to read it.

11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.
12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
1 Corinthians 13:11-13

Dear One,

I have saved you to make My Name and Glory known among the nations.  Let us move beyond your childish ways this year and clean this mirror together. It is not an easy task, but with Me all things are possible.  Let’s make this a year to love others. I want to use you to extend Forgiveness, Grace, and Mercy to all mankind. Will you join me?

Love,

I Am

Oh, Christ whose grace is greater than all my wicked sins,
would you choose to use this vessel though it is dirty deep within?

That you would change me and use me to set other captives free.
Yes, I will join you on this journey, take up my cross and follow Thee.
Will you join us on this journey, take up your cross and follow He?

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To Lay Down a Life

He picks up the fallen, sawed logs and lies them in a path for others to follow.

Raking dead and fallen leaves to clear a path for tiny feet and wrinkled hands.

Pushing the dead things aside, giving of his time and energy. Eagerly working at his task that will provide direction through the woods on a dirt path to grandma’s house.

 

 I see him working gladly and give thanks for his work.  Thinking all the while that in laying down our lives, the dead things, and picking up our cross, new life, we are laying paths for fellow man.

24Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. Matthew 16:24-25

Weeks approaching Thanksgiving may meditation be on this:

1 Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth! 2Serve the LORD with gladness! Come into his presence with singing!3Know that the LORD, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him;bless his name! For the LORD is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations. Psalm 100

In everyday tasks, to serve the LORD with gladness. To do this. To do this, is to lay down my life and walk in the newness of Christ’s.

Give thanks, lay down our wills, take up our crosses and lay a path for fellow-man to follow.

May praises and thanks be on our lips and gladness be in our heart.

*a repost

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