Friday, January 31, 2014

Too Marvelous for Words by Lynda Leeson

Last Sunday when Stephen began to lead us in worship with this song  (, I was transported in mind and spirit to Abundant Life Church, St Louis, MO, to the year 1988. John and I were standing arm in arm supporting each other when our dear friend Janie Plante walked to the grand piano and sang this song for the first time in our hearing. I felt we might Rapture then and there.  

The Lord had proven Himself to be TOO MARVELOUS FOR WORDS many times in the months leading up to this special Sunday. We were transferred from sunny southern California to St. Louis the previous spring and had faced more obstacles and trials than we could comprehend. John's company had called 140 employees into the atrium to announce the closing of the St. Louis office. Lots of luck...see ya!

My former husband and the father of two of my children had taken his own life. Devastating to all.

The IRS seemed determined to force John into bankruptcy in spite of many offers in compromise...all rejected.

I had undergone surgery for breast cancer and we were dealing with the 50-60% recovery diagnosis. Our church had fasted and prayed during Thanksgiving for the bone marrow biopsy and The Lord had shown Himself strong to all of us with a negative report. TOO MARVELOUS FOR WORDS.  

Twenty-six years later I find myself more than ever standing in awe of Advocate, Provider, and Healer. Sure...things have changed a lot, but He hasn't. John was hired by his client and enjoyed the best job ever. We moved to sunny Fair Oaks Ranch and enjoyed 13 of our happiest years. When his health declined, we moved here and joined the sweetest people ever at Broadway Baptist Church. That "tacky cancer" still roams around in my body, but is powerless to overcome me without His permission. TOO MARVELOUS FOR WORDS.

I borrowed this from The Daily Encourager:
We all face times of great trouble. When we do, it is so easy to forget the victories that God would work in our lives, sometimes in the most surprising ways, if we would only trust him. Nehemiah reminded the people of Israel when they faced the task of rebuilding Jerusalem, "In God we will have success!"  (Nehemiah 2:20)  


Thursday, January 30, 2014

Textile Trends for 2014 by Stacy McSpadden

Our resident interior designer Stacy McSpadden tells us what's in store for the coming year.

Chinoiserie:  Chinoiserie is French for “Chinese-esque,” and refers to the use of objects and design from China within European styles. These patterns generally depict images from nature and Chinese customs such as dragons, Chinese porcelain, and foo dogs.  Cycling back to us after several decades, Chinoiserie textile patterns updated in bold colors provide a fresh and exotic slant on traditional motifs. They can be multi-colored or monochromatic. The Schumacher fabric pictured is whimsical in nature, large in scale and nods to blue and white Chinese porcelain. 

Geometric Patterns: A favorite of the past few years, and still thriving. However, we are seeing a departure from simple patterns such as the chevron stripe, and are moving to more complex designs, such as what I consider more of a chain link design. Available in different scales, geometrics are a fresh substitute for what used to be the popular mini-print and stripe. Large scale geometrics can stand alone, and small scale geometrics are great accents for solids, as well as large scale patterns like the Chinoiserie pictured above.

Plaid: Fresh and updated, we are mad for plaid in the world of design. In 2014, plaid is simple in color and sophisticated in style. Our favorites are updated tartans, window panes, and houndstooth plaids. Like geometrics, smaller scale plaids work with large multicolored patterns, and they are also a great way to soften rooms with leather sofas. Plaids even look great when applied to tufted sofas and chairs. 

Leather: While the simple brown tones are still popular, brightly colored leathers are new and exciting. A chair or a cocktail ottoman with leather in Pantone’s color of the year, Radiant Orchid, is a great way to incorporate something fresh without committing to a whole sofa. Colored leathers look great when tufted and when texture is added such as crocodile, shagreen, and snakeskin.

Floral: At the most recent High Point Market, traditional florals were starting to be introduced in various showrooms. The actual design of the florals was traditional in nature, but with a current color story. I also saw florals printed on unusual textures such as velvets and linens. They looked great applied to pillows on solid sofas and on small accent chairs. Again, these work with all the new plaids, geometrics, and leathers.

Ikats: These fabrics are still popular, but updated. Ikats are now influenced by the most current colors. Ikat refers to a pattern created by a specific weaving technique, but now modern technology makes ikats available on a variety of textiles. The most current ikats can be found printed on linens, cottons, or woven in a heavier upholstery weight cloth. Ikats are used like many large scale patterns. They blend well with geometrics, linear patterns, and textured leathers. 

With the current bold colors and patterns being introduced in 2014, I am still noticing that the main pieces in most rooms remain neutral. What I like about a neutral palate is that you can change the design of your room easily from season to season or trend to trend. All of the afore mentioned patterns work well with neutrals. They not only bring in a lot of color, but they also introduce different textures. Even different textured neutrals look great when you want a very simple design without using a lot of color. Don’t be afraid of color and texture in your textiles. They are the key to making your room more interesting.

Stacy McSpadden
Interior Designer and Store Manager
Chestnut Hall Fine Furniture and Interiors
3075 Forest Hill Irene Road
Germantown, Tennessee 38138
901.753.8515 phone
901.756.1966 fax

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Soups by Paula Roten

My mother has been sick since the beginning of the year, and my sister and I have taken turns staying with her and cooking for her. We have found that she really prefers soups. Because it's bitter cold (for our area anyway!) or because they're easier to eat? I don't know, but we felt a need to make her something nutritious and flavorful. The following soups are great for the sick, but they're delicious, quick, and easy for a family too. Serve alone or with crusty bread or your favorite sandwich.

Cream Corn Soup
1 can cream style corn
1 cup milk
1 cup light cream
2 chicken bouillon cubes or 2 tsp. chicken stock base
1/2 tsp. ginger
salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 stick butter

Blend corn in blender. Combine with milk, cream, and bouillon cubes. Add ginger, salt, and pepper. Pour into saucepan, bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Add butter. Remove from heat and garnish with parsley or paprika. 

Creamed Squash Soup
2 lbs. yellow squash
1 medium onion, chopped
2 (8 oz.) cans chicken broth
1 (8 oz.) pkg. cream cheese, softened
1 T. ginger
salt and white pepper, to taste

Slice squash and onion into medium thickness. Add to large soup pot and pour in chicken broth. Cook just until squash is fork tender. Add cream cheese and let it soften in hot soup mix. Add ginger, and puree mixture. Add salt and pepper to taste and more ginger if needed. Serves 6-8.

Tomato Soup I (adapted from allrecipes)
1 (29 oz.) can diced tomatoes with onion, garlic, and basil
1 can chicken broth
2 T. margarine
1 T. white sugar
1 T. chopped onion
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1 - 1.5 cups heavy whipping cream

1. In a large pot mix tomatoes, chicken broth, butter, sugar, onion, and baking soda. Simmer for 30 minutes to 1 hour, until reduced and thickened. Blend with an immersion or regular blender.
2. Heat cream in the microwave until hot, beginning with only 1 cup. Stir once or twice. Once heated through, slowly add to tomato mixture, stirring well. (I prefer only 1 cup cream, but the online recipe actually calls for 2.)

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Over by Tony Manley

Over it. Overbooked. Overextended. Overtired. Overstimulated. Overcome. Overjoyed. Overwhelmed. Overflow.

Guess what word is in my head ALL the time lately??? OVER!  

Being gone during the Christmas break and even the first weeks of the New Year, I have felt like my heart, emotions, and life have been “over_____”.
Emotions, don’t you love them? For me, my emotions can have way too much power and presence. They have a tendency to be “over the top” (See? I told you that word is in me). I have realized that when I am over anything (by the way the prefix over means “too much” or “not necessary”), I become overwhelmed and overflow! This can be good or bad.

God is teaching me several truths. Emotions are a gift, but they are not always reliable. Even more true for me is that they are shallow and shifting often depending on the circumstance, responses or lack of responses toward me, or the condition of my heart. So, emotions can be oversensitive or overcoming. Life is a gift, but life can be full of "overs." The words at the beginning of this rambling can basically describe each day in my life. Do you have an “all over the board” type heart too?!

Thankfully, the Holy Spirit intervenes this ADD soul and speaks peace, truth, and grace.  “I have told you these things, SO THAT IN ME you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. (*that is a promise) But take heart! I have OVERcome the world.”  John 16:33 (The definition of overcome – succeed in dealing with a problem or difficulty; master, conquer, defeat; - is good news!)
See, even Jesus knows the word “over.” The wonderful truth of “over” that I am currently being overtaken by the Holy Spirit’s teaching – I am overwhelmed to overflow…will I be overwhelmed with the flesh and overflow with flesh OR will I be overwhelmed with fruit and overflow with fruit? This is my fresh challenge I am embracing each day, to live an overwhelmed life of overflowing fruit. “This is to My Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.”  John 15:8  

Monday, January 27, 2014

Word for the Week

The eternal God is your refuge, 
and his everlasting arms are under you. 
Deuteronomy 33:27a NLT

My sister and I have taken turns staying with my sick mother since right before the new year, but one thing remains constant: She asks every day that we read her devotion book and Scriptures out loud to her. What a blessing to have a mother who looks to God every single day for peace, comfort, and wisdom! 

It's amazing to me that she found the second part of this verse comforting, but the first part is what spoke to me. Isn't God's Word something? Perfect for whatever stage of life you are in!

Just a few questions to get you thinking about this verse:
  • Is someone or something other than God your refuge?
  • Where are you finding your source of strength or peace?
  • What/Whom do you turn to when you are stressed?
  • Do you depend on self or others first and then turn to God?
  • Do you ever work on your problem first and then when it can't be worked out, ask God for direction?
  • What gives you security? Your savings, 401K, job, husband, stocks and bonds, good health, a life with no current problems? 

The eternal God is your refuge, 
and his everlasting arms are under you. 

Friday, January 24, 2014

Words by Paula Roten

I had grandmother duty recently: school pick-up. I could tell a block away that something was wrong. The boy got in the car, quiet and sullen. The girl got in and the tears and words instantly spilled at the same time. Mean girl stuff had occurred, actions and words. But the worst of it was that the mean girl had said, "You're useless! You aren't worth anything!"

The boy didn't volunteer his problems. But as I gently probed, I discovered his day had been just as bad. Everything from a substitute teacher, to someone intentionally messing with his stuff, to name calling too. He had been called the S word. "Stupid."

This Granna's heart broke to hear how words had hurt these children. Mean words. Lies. 

You're useless.

You'll never amount to anything.

You're slow.

You'll never find anybody to marry you.

You can't ever do anything right.

You'll never be good enough.

You can't possibly raise those children.

There's no way you can make him happy.




Hopeless Case. 

Sound familiar? Yeah, I thought you might have heard them as well. They're lies, too. Straight from the Father of Lies. 

This mean girl-bad boy name calling reminded me of a book by Max Lucado, You Are Special. In it the Wemmicks all give each other stars for being pretty or talented and dots for lack of beauty or no talent or ability. But there's one girl whose stars and dots won't stick. Try as they might, the Wemmicks can't get the stars and dots to stick on her. You see, she goes to see her Maker everyday. He says, "The stickers only stick if they matter to you. The more you trust my love, the less you care about their stickers...Remember, you are special because I made you. And I don't make mistakes."

God doesn't make mistakes. These precious children aren't mistakes, I'm not, and you aren't either. Let's quit believing Satan's lies and instead believe our Creator who tells us in Ephesians 2:10 that we are His masterpiece. Let's visit Him everyday so His words can drown out those of the world.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Quick Parenting Tip by Kim Wright

Quick Parenting Tip:
Taming the Technology Monster 
Suggested ages:  Preschool-6th grade

What you will need:

1 roll of tickets (available at Walmart, Office Supply stores, Education stores, Walgreens, etc)  

2 baggies (or containers)

Label Baggie (or container) #1 “Used Tickets”
Label Baggie (or container) #2 w/ the child’s name

Basic Rules:
              -A child must present a ticket to play electronics/watch tv
-Each child begins the week with 5 tickets (1 ticket is worth 30 min. of electronics’ time*)
*electronics=computer games, video games, handheld games, tv/movies

-Sunday is a free day, no tickets needed (as long as they have been obedient and have not abused the rules the previous week)

-Room (or anything the child has gotten out) must be picked up and any regularly assigned chores must be completed before you can use a ticket

-As long as the child has met those conditions, he can use as many tickets per day as he would like (he can spread them out over the week or save them for a rainy afternoon and play for several hours)…but when they are gone…they are gone.  He must earn tickets to receive add’l electronics time.  (Mom reserves right to lift ticket requirement for special circumstances, i.e. a Friday night family movie rental)

-Set timers to insure time limits

-The beginning of each week starts fresh…tickets cannot be carried over from week to week
Ways to earn tickets:
1. Reading for 30 min = 1 ticket
2. Practicing math facts for 30 min = 1 ticket
3. Playing outside for a specified length of time=1 ticket
4. Doing extra chores that are over and beyond their regular chores (ie folding and putting up laundry, unloading/loading the dishwasher, etc)
5. Especially good behavior (normal good behavior is expected…but sometimes tickets can be used as an incentive or reward if a child went over and above normal good behavior)….don’t use this too often…make it special!

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens…”  Eccl. 3:1

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Wings of Hope by Christie Smith

I'm done...done with winter! I can make it through November and December because the holidays give me enough to make the cold worth it. But, by January... I'M OVER IT!!!

I look out at my sad little mums, just dead sticks all in a clump. The dead leaves lying there frozen under a blanket of cold humidity. You see, here we don't get the pretty snow to go along with the cold. We just get the cold. The humid, wet, cold! At least with a thick blanket of white snow there would be some sense of freshness...newness. But when all you have is the cold, the ground seems so hard, so dead. It seems like only yesterday that we were running around barefoot in the same grass that would now give me frostbite. How quickly the climate changes, whether we're ready or not. 

I struggle during these winter days to feel energized. Instead, I feel empty. These are the days when, along with Mother Nature, my own heart feels dead. Everything seems frozen, and in the quiet of this season, my mind whispers questions to itself. How can new life spring from all of this?

But then I see my birds. Every year around this time, a group of Waxwings comes exploding in from nowhere. They swarm the holly bushes around my house scavenging every red berry they can find. They roost in the oak tree, but only for a day or so...and then they're gone. Some years I'm outside when I hear their familiar tweets. Other years my kids have come running in shouting, "Momma! Your birds are back!" But this year it was like they came just when I needed them most. I watch them and in the middle of this cold, hard "winter," I am reminded that this too will pass. Winter won't last forever. Isn't that what hope is? The thought that things will get better?

Just like my waxwings, hope moves in the coldest and darkest parts and then... just sings.

There are more cold days ahead for us, just as there are many more storms coming in our lives. But the waxwings keep showing up... along with hope. All we have to do is look for them.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

New Ears by Tony Manley

Recently, a dear girlfriend had the joy of watching her one year old hear sound for the first time! An overwhelming sense of gratitude, joy, and even amazement overtook her heart as she watched her daughter respond to the gift of sound for the first time!

As I have watched and thought about this little life this last year, I believe the Holy Spirit has shown me how I lived before I received the gift of the gospel personally in my life. 

For the last year, this precious family has been on a mission – a misson of research, doctors, insurance, schools,…basically, their hearts were “all in one accord” for this little one to receive  hearing ears! This sweet girl has been loved from the moment she was known about. The hearts of her family have praised God for her as a fearfully and wonderfully made, 100% knit by God child. As God has led the way of her journey to hearing, her family has walked faithfully following and trusting Him to do “beyond and beyond” all they asked or thought for their sweet girl – ALL IN HIS TIME!

I have lived the life of a deaf heart – a heart that needed to be turned on - awakened. All the while not having a clue I was missing a part of life that was available to me. Being born with a heart that can’t hear or know the sound of God’s voice or ways is to be born into a life not complete. Left to myself, I couldn’t know I needed more. As God began putting all the preparations into place for me to have a “more” life, it was His work, love, and attention that brought me to the day of turning my heart on! He gave me a new heart that could hear His voice, understand His heart, and even become more engaged in the life He had for me - the life I had been totally unaware of experiencing personally. I had watched life without total understanding but had not been able to bring understanding to the new life in Christ – until He implanted the Holy Spirit into my heart!

Monday, January 20, 2014


How does this verse speak to you today? From what or whom do you need to guard your heart?

Friday, January 17, 2014

How You Can Help Support Leah's House by Ramona Callahan

Leah's House has many on-going needs, but several are of concern right now. During this cold weather, we need the propane tank filled so the ladies can stay warm and so they can cook their meals. Taxes will also need to be paid in February. We are currently taking orders for Valentine's Day in order to raise money to pay these upcoming expenses. Please consider ordering the following as you make your holiday plans: 

Red velvet heart-shaped cakes:  $10
White cake, heart-shaped: $10
Oatmeal raisin cookies: $5 per dozen
Chocolate chip cookies: $5 per dozen
(Other flavors to be announced as they come available :)

We will also be selling Thank You Cards sporting the beautiful Leah's House logo design. We will know the cost as soon as the printer contacts us.

Monetary donations in any amount will be appreciated too:
minimum propane amount - $300.00 (for a month's supply)
filling entire propane tank - $1125.00
upcoming taxes - $1300.00

Please contact RaMona Callahan for more details, to place orders, or to make a tax deductible donation:

On Facebook as RaMona Shelby Callahan

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Leah's House Update by Ramona Callahan

Here are the highlights of what’s been going on at Leah’s House lately:  

Hollie: got a job at Exxon as a cook and has been working toward moving out. Please pray for her as she faces limitations her past choices put on her current options. 
Sue: got a car, went home, and has obtained custody of 2 of her 3 children. She is going through the process to gain custody of the third. Please pray for her as she deals with multiple issues of the abuse of one of her children. She has a long road ahead, but because of the power and grace of Jesus Christ, she is a stronger woman than ever before and is facing it head on. Pray for strength, courage, persistence, and faith.  
Abigail: got a job through a vocational rehab program. Please pray for her as she saves money to pay fines at her upcoming court date.   
Monica: our current house manager, is engaged to be married. Leah’s House is looking forward to our first wedding! Pray for her as she learns this position and all of the demands and rewards that accompany managing and coaching the others. Monica is one of our first graduates and has a special place in her heart for the others.  
Leah’s House has been contacted by the prison system, and we expect to be taking in new residents within the next month.  

Please pray for us as we grow and learn how to do the job God has called us to do. Pray for discernment, discipline, and discipleship on our parts. Pray for generosity and faithfulness on the part of our financial supporters. Pray for open hearts and healing minds for the new residents who will be joining us.  

Dear Refresh ladies,
As always, we are so grateful to all of you who have become part our ministry. You are such an encouragement to us, and we thank you for the work you do in support of the restoration of women from all over Mississippi and surrounding areas. Please take a brochure from the ministry table next to the “house” in the Welcome Center. Share them with as many people as you can. May God bless your every effort and allow you to share in His goodness and grace.  

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

A Letter (To My Much Younger Self) by Christie Smith

Dear Christie, 

I'm writing to you from the other side of the hill. Yes, you made it over the hill despite all the days you felt you wouldn't. I'm sitting here now at age 80 questioning what my purpose in life is now, because as long as I still have breath in my lungs there must be a reason. The wondering about my remaining days makes me reminiscent of the days when we were younger. Such a blessed life we had! But, oh, the days we wasted!!! So, I'm writing you this letter in an attempt to rescue you from all the "little things" that robbed you of your joy. Little things like laundry and expectations (both self-imposed and others-imposed) and disatisfaction caused by the fictitious lives you see on social media. Every one of your days were filled with so much happiness, and sadly, you missed most of it. 

You're entering the best years of your life. Every season of life holds its own pros and cons, but the remainder of your life can truly be the best if you embrace it. "Youth is wasted on the young..." How true that is! How true that has been in your own life. Christie, you've missed so much already! While your first born was lovingly looking up at you with so much trust and awe, you were staring out the window wondering what you were missing along with the loss of your independence. Thank God for second chances (and third and fourth and fifth chances)! And with each new chance you learned a little more about yourself and about God. That was the secret! The more you let go of yourself...your thoughts, your ideas of who you should be and of what your life should look like...the more you were able to see Him. And the more you saw of Him, the more alive you became.  

Now, you're almost 40. To many people, it is the beginning of a downhill journey to old-age. But looking back from where I sit now, it is the beginning of a life that will finally be lived the way it was meant to be lived. It is the start of a heart that finally beats and loves the way God created to love. Give your frustrations of the noisy kids and messy house over to Him! He will show you the beauty in the symphony and masterpiece He is creating in each one of them. Though the noise now sounds like a lot of wreckless banging on drums and piano keys (I know, I know...that is actually what it is at times), in time you will sit back and watch as their lives begin to resonate the Godly melody they were created to play. Find beauty in the details and struggles as they grow because when you are here in this quiet room forty years from now, that noise will be all you long to hear. The most beautiful symphony performed by the world's greastest musicians will never hold a candle to the music of your kids playing in the other room. Don't miss it!!!

And you see that man lying there asleep on the other side of the bed? You remember him, don't you? He's that man who at the age of 31 became a little boy again at the sight of you. The same man who met you on a Monday and said he wanted to marry you on Friday. The same man who moved the bathroom sink 6 inches because you wanted the shelves on the right side, not the left. That very man still does anything to make you happy today. And he is the man God has given you as an escort through every stage of your life. Friends will come and go, family will come and go, and yes...even your kids will go someday. But he will still be there because he loves you like Christ loves you. Selflessly. Unconditionally. Stop missing him!!!

The day will come (sooner than you think) when you will sit staring out the window, remembering these days you have now. You drudge through them sometimes as if they are punishment. One day you'll long for the noise and the mess and chaos. You'll wish for one more trip with all 7 of you crammed into the same vehicle. Your most precious memories will be of the simplest things...bathing the babies, friday night "pizza and a movie" nights all snuggled up together, lazy days of summer when the kids were home everyday driving you'll wish for just one of those days back. Stop missing them!!!

There are a lot of tips I could give you from this view looking back. Helpful financial tips. Useful advice concerning events to come. But this is the most important advice I can give:  The only way to enjoy life at 80 is to learn to enjoy it now, when you're 38...when you're 40, 50, 60. Because it's not about your age or season of life. It's not about how much money you have or how "good" your life may seem. It's about knowing God, trusting God, thanking God for it ALL. If you do your best in those things, you have the greatest gift this life has to offer. Gratitude is the miracle that turns your life into joy. Be thankful for it ALL. Stop missing your life by being ungrateful. Stop missing your life by taking it for granted. Learn to praise God and thank God and know God as much as you can, and hopefully, I will be writing a very different letter in forty years. 

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Heaven's Bread by Vicki Taylor

Exodus 16:13-15 - "…and in the morning there was a layer of dew around the camp. When the dew was gone, thin flakes like frost on the ground appeared on the desert floor. When the Israelites saw it, they said to each other 'What is it?' for they did not know what it was."

I was reminded of this verse this morning as I drove in as there was a heavy layer of dew on the ground, or maybe just a lot of moisture after a long rain from the day before. I love the way it sparkles in the morning sun. Everything just looks so fresh and green.  

One morning driving in, the dew was especially heavy. I could not see any color, just the white of the dew. I wondered if this is what the Israelites saw when they first saw the manna that the Lord provided for them. It was like the dew, but when it was gone, it became thin flakes like frost on the ground. I wonder if they were amazed and in awe over what the Lord had provided or if it was just “another” miracle.  

I decided to do a little research on manna, and you know how I like to dig…

Scriptures describes manna in Psalm 78:24&25 as the grain of heaven and the bread of angels. That’s really not surprising since it was bread. It had many flavors. To the young men it tasted like bread, to the elderly it tasted like honey and to infants it tasted as oil. Since they collected it every morning, they were able to eat it while it was still warm. Fresh baked by their Heavenly Father. Can you imagine?

Because manna came daily, it taught the Israelites to direct their hearts toward their Heavenly Father every day. This also lightened their burdened as they traveled on their journey in the wilderness. What a picture for us today. By turning our hearts toward our Heavenly Father every day, our burdens can be lightened as we go about our stress-filled day.

Exodus 16:4 tells us that they were to gather “just enough” for the day. He did this to test them to see if they would follow His instructions. And on the sixth day they were to gather twice as much for the Sabbath. Everyone gathered as much as they needed not even knowing “what it was.” Kind of sounds like us again doesn’t it? We collect things, gather things, hoard things, and stuff ourselves with things that have no meaning and leave us empty. Only to start all over again and still our hearts cry out for more. 

“What is it?”  Manna, the bread that came down from heaven… Jesus says, “Your forefathers ate manna and died, but he who feeds on this bread (Me) will live forever.” (John 6:58)  Let’s think about this … we eat the mystery with trust and we are nourished for another day – or we can refuse it and die. Jesus is our manna for today. He is the Bread of Heaven. Only He can fill our under nourished and starved souls.  

I don’t know about you, but I hunger for that manna. I need it…I crave it. In this hurry up, push and shove world we live in, full of distractions pulling at us from every direction, if we are not feeding on the Bread of Heaven daily, we will starve.  

Let’s make it a daily practice to feed on the Bread of Heaven. Begin your day with Him. Spend time in His presence. Soon your soul will know what you need by seeking Him instead of what the world has to offer.  

Monday, January 13, 2014

Word for the Week

Do you remember learning the first part of this verse as a child? Or perhaps constantly reminding your children to be kind? It seemed that any time brother and sister would bicker or fight, this verse came out. I'm thinking as adults, we might need to concentrate on the next phrase, "forgiving one another." By this time in our lives, we all have "baggage." Perhaps we need to get a dose of reality and remember how, through Jesus' death on the cross, God has forgiven us...over and over...many times for the very same thing! Can't we extend that same grace to others around us?

Friday, January 10, 2014

Leah's House at Christmas

Nellita Young's Ladies Sunday School class wanted to give Leah's House a Christmas party and luncheon. So on the Saturday before Christmas, many of us cooked and traveled to bless some ladies who needed it. But we were the ones who received the blessing. 

The ladies had all left the house when we arrived, so we quickly went about warming the food and preparing the tables. We had brought Christmas plates, tablecloths and cloth napkins, candlesticks and centerpieces, silverware and glassware, and everything needed to have a sit-down meal. We wanted these ladies to feel pampered and precious this day. 

The ladies walked in, greeted with the smell of Christmas lunch! There were hugs and introductions all around. Why is it when women get together, we can instantly connect, feeling like we've known each other? The ladies filled their plates and sat down. We served them their drinks, encouraged seconds, and offered dessert. Everyone left full, and enough was left-over for at least another meal or two. 

After the meal, we all gathered in the living room to watch several of the ladies perform a praise routine to a Christian song. What a blessing! Then Nellita Young brought a devotional. Another blessing with such encouraging words!

We had the opportunity to give each lady at Leah's House a Christmas gift, a Bible. What joy to see them receive and then open their gift. Several had tears in their eyes and clutched the Bible to their chests. I was reminded of how precious God's Word is and how I should never take it for granted. 

After "our part" in the program, the founder of the home read a thank you letter to us. Actually, it is to all the women of Broadway. So I want to let all of you know what a difference you have made in these women's lives:

"There are no words to express the appreciation we at Leah's House feel for all the godly women who do so much for all the women who come through here. 

To see women who have such hearts filled with God's love is amazing. We could not be as effective as we are without you. You are truly what the Word says when it says you will know my disciples by the love they have for one another. 

This is a very hard ministry with great battles to fight, but knowing we have all of you brings much comfort to my heart. Women like all of you is what makes this ministry complete. You are helping change lives for eternity. Your rewards will be great. 

I just want your entire group to know how much I and everyone involved appreciates you more than we can say. Nothing you do or gives goes unnoticed. You are true disciples of Christ. Thank you so much for your faithfulness to this mission. Thank you for your sensitivity to the Lord's Great Commission. 

We pray for all of you to be blessed in this life and the one to come and that you all walk in divine health and prosperity."

What a blessing to actually meet the founder and some of the women who are benefitting from being at Leah's House! Our Refresh Women's Ministry will continue to support this ministry all this year, so watch for ways you can be involved. 

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Who Am I Serving? by Paula Roten

No, this is the kind of fasting I want: 
Free those who are wrongly imprisoned; 
lighten the burden of those who work for you. 
Let the oppressed go free, 
and remove the chains that bind people. 
Share your food with the hungry, 
and give shelter to the homeless. 
Give clothes to those who need them, 
and do not hide from relatives 
who need your help. 
Isaiah 58:6, 7 NLT

As I sit here staying with my mother after a day in the hospital and two ER visits, this is the suggested scripture reading for the day in my morning devotional. I love how God is always so relevant. I didn't get to go to church Sunday or to an elderly friend's funeral or to play with my grandchildren or out to eat with friends. Instead, I've stayed at my mother's house preparing her meals, reminding her to drink more liquids, helping her out until she gets well enough to live independently once again. 

And God reminds me through scripture what true Christianity looks like...and what it does not. It's not church attendance and so many other things we spend our time doing. It looks like the above Isaiah passage and what Christ Himself told us in Matthew 25:35-36, 40:

"For I was hungry, and you fed me. 
I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. 
I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. 
I was naked, and you gave me clothing. 
I was sick, and you cared for me. 
I was in prison, and you visited me. 
When you did it to one of the least 
of these my brothers and sisters, 
you were doing it to me!"

So as I wash clothes, make meals, dole out medicine, help her bathe, give her a stable hand while she walks, and do many other ordinary even unpleasant tasks, I will remember who I am doing them for. It's Jesus I am serving.  

Wednesday, January 8, 2014


Once again while grocery shopping I witnessed a distracted, hurried Mom walk away from her shopping cart to grab another item leaving her toddler unattended. I can see the child watching the Mom's every move waiting for her return. Often times the Mom gets into a conversation or gets on the phone and I wonder, "Has she forgotten her little one?"  For some reason, I can never leave the aisle until I see the Mom return to her waiting child. I am always afraid the child will reach for something and maybe fall or climb out and get hurt. So, I act like I am searching for something and stay as near as I can without looking like a weirdo. Driving home it hit me....

I am like that distracted Mom! That child is precious to her as my Lord is precious to me. Every time I sin, I am walking away from Him. In my hurried life, I get distracted with trivial things. I talk more than I serve, I don't spend as much time with Him as I should, and so on and so on.  

I am a sinner saved by grace and so thankful for my Father who loves me. He watches me and every move I make waiting for me to talk to HIM, praise HIM, serve HIM, and draw nearer to HIM! The bond between a mother and child is special but nothing in comparison to the love and bond between GOD and his child. He never takes His eye off me, forgets me or leaves me. As his precious child, I want to stay close to Him. Father, I pray that in every situation I see what you are trying to teach me.

Make me know your ways, Oh Lord; teach me your paths.  Psalm 25:4

Monday, January 6, 2014


Praise be to the Lord, 
to God our Savior, 
who daily bears our burdens. 
Psalm 68:19

Are you grateful you don't have to carry all your problems alone? We have a Savior who knows our struggles and is always interceding for us. 

Friday, January 3, 2014

What Should I Wear? by Christie Smith

(Even though this article was written several weeks ago, it is still relevant for our lives today.)

"Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience." Colossians 3:12

I open my closet stuffed with far too many clothes for one person and ask myself, "What should I wear today?" In the background is the noise from the tv, the morning news clamoring details about a tidal wave that killed nearly 2,000 people over 8,000 miles away from my blessed life. What am I supposed to do? I can't pack up my family and go there...well, I guess I could if God told me to. But He's not He? I'm brave enough to ask the question, but I'm pretty sure the answer is 'no'...this time the answer is no. So, what then? Send some money? I feel like that would be like trying to fight a fire with the moisture from a kiss...pointless. 

I continue staring at my closet. 

I stare at all I have and hear of all they lost. The heart becomes numb to the needs when the needs seem so endless and overwhelming. When the hurting seems a million miles away, it's hard to feel obligated to do anything at all. So, I go on about my day. I wake five kids up and make breakfast and pack lunches and chauffeur to and from and fold the endless mounds of laundry. Standing there in front of my closet, I have this internal conversation between the Jesus girl who knows I can do more and the world girl who says that I'm only responsible for the lives inside of my four walls. It's a daily battle I have that no one wins in the end. All that's left are a few sad thoughts for some people in need and a heart heavy with guilt knowing I have to do something more, but what? 

Standing there in front of my closet, it hits me that the answer lies in the question..."What should I wear?" 

In Colossians 3 we are called to "take off" our old selves, out old self with its passions and desires, its wants and its needs, its pride and self-centeredness. And we are to "put on" our new selves. Put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. This list is not exhaustive, but it is representative of those virtues that speak of your relationship to others.

"Put on" first occurs in Colossians in chapter 3 verse 10 and then again in verse 14.  In the Greek it is the verb "enduo" which means "to sink into (clothing), to put on, to clothe one's self."  This is important because you are commanded to do this, to put on, to clothe yourself with the new self. 

So, standing there in front of my closet wondering what I could possibly do to help those typhoon-hit people "a million miles away," I realize that putting on the characteristics of Christ is my only way of helping. I may not be able to travel to the Philippines and help those people specifically, but I can help those people all around me who are drowning in their own hardships of life. 

Everywhere you turn you can spot those who are being smacked by waves of one kind or problems, financial troubles, family issues. So what can I do to help any of them? I can clothe myself in these Christ-like characteristics Paul speaks of in Colossians 3:12-17. If I view others with compassion and kindness, then I will be more aware of their needs and be quick to try and help. If I am more gentle, humble, and patient, then I will never view someone else's needs or hurts as trivial or unworthy of my attention. 

We live in a society that believes in everyone getting their own way whatever the cost, so the ones who succeed are the ones who are least gentle and least humble. Unfortunately, that spills over into church life. We are surrounded by needs, even in our own church. But we are so self-absorbed that we fail to recognize them or we don't care even if we see them. We say we care, we offer our thoughts and prayers, but we don't do anything sacrificial to really meet their need. Even worse, a lot of times we decide that the way someone chooses to live or the choices they have made in their situation somehow gives us the right to judge whether or not we help them. That makes us just as bad as the church in Colosse that Paul was writing to here. The problem with the Colossians was that, although they called themselves Christians, they weren’t really living like it. Some people had been trying to teach them the wrong things about Jesus and many of them had been living in such a way that there was no real difference between them and anyone else. Sound familiar? What if we strived everyday to take off our old wardrobe of selfishness and judgement and put on our new wardrobe of selflessness and tolerance. What if we didn't ask why someone needed something, but just asked, "What do you need?" No strings attached. Isn't that what love really is? 

Paul begins Colossians chapter 3 with these words (The Message): “So if you’re serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it.” You see, it’s not enough just to know the stuff. The important thing is to actually do something about it, allowing it to make a difference in our lives. So, what am I going to wear? Maybe instead of cleaning out my closet, I should take a look at my heart and see what I need to get rid of, so I'm not tempted to wear those out of season characteristics anymore.