Thursday, May 29, 2014

Ugly Brown Clay by Donna Clayton

This week the Lord taught me an important lesson using the lips and actions of my three year old grandson.

Last Christmas, Conner received a 10 pack of modeling clay, one stick of every color in the rainbow. I only recently dared to open the packaging because clay is gummy, and it leaves a residue on the surfaces it touches. To let my little artist get his creative juices flowing, I got some wax paper and placed it on the table so he could have a “safe surface” to work on. 

The first day he played with the white clay, the only color I gave to him. He enjoyed making a snowman and some shapes, being satisfied with one color. The next day I gave him some red, and that is when he spotted the package containing the rest of the colors. He asked to play with all of them, but I told him we needed to keep them separate (you know, so they would stay true to color – my thoughts – not his!). The following day he repeatedly asked me if he could get the other colors out of the package. I said no, explaining to him that if he got all of the colors out and mashed them together, the colors would not be pretty anymore; they would mix together and the clay would turn into an ugly brown color. He seemed to accept my explanation.

The next afternoon I was cooking dinner as he played in the next room at his little table. I looked in from the stove, and he ordered, “Don’t look at me!” which was a red flag to my grandmotherly instincts. I marched in there to see what he was doing. There on the table was every stick of modeling clay all twisted together. His face had guilt written all over it. 

“You just HAD to get the other colors out of the package, didn’t you? What did I tell you?” I admonished him.  

“But it didn’t turn ugly brown!” was his three year old well-reasoned answer. How he can rationalize so well at that age astounds me! His ready answer proved that he believed he could do what I told him not to as long as the consequences didn’t come to pass

Another day, I put Conner on my bed to take his nap. When I came back in the room a few minutes later to check on him, he had pulled the sheet up to his neck and was holding his legs tightly together. Guilt was clearly written all over his face - again. When I asked him what he was hiding, he admitted to nothing. I moved his clenched leg and I found my ear buds for my phone. Busted!

I am sure this is how God sees us. We try to hide our disobedience, admitting nothing, while God clearly sees the guilt on our hearts. From personal experience, I can tell you we end up with worse messes than ugly brown clay. But thanks be to God Who takes our ugly messes and conforms them into something beautiful.  

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The Perils of Pride by Donna Clayton

Pride is a funny thing. We like to be proud of our families, accomplishments, and abilities. After all, we have worked hard to get where we are. And shouldn’t we tell our loved ones we are proud of them when they have worked hard to accomplish a goal, conquer a bad habit, or done a good deed?

On the other hand, pride is denounced in the Bible in a multitude of verses. Some verses describe pride using adjectives such as stubborn, deceived, wicked, haughty, while other verses link pride with nouns such as downfall, disgrace, quarrels and destruction. I don’t know about you, but those are descriptions and situations I don’t want associated with my name or my life.  

How can pride be deceitful? By observing others’ arrogant attitudes and thinking “I’m glad I’m not like that!” By clouding my vision so that I can’t see how pride affects my very own life. By making excuses when I am being prideful. Deceit keeps my proud heart from recognizing the darkness within, blinding me to my own faults. And that is where the peril comes in.

On a recent Wednesday, Brother Tim Lampley preached on the wickedness of pride, how it wreaks havoc in our lives and why God hates it so much. He referred to some of the writings of D. L. Moody, the great evangelist from the 19th century.  Pride will cause these problems:
It is a roadblock to intimacy with God
It blinds me to spiritual conviction
It drives me to promote myself and protect my reputation
It ruins churches, families, and schools
It takes me to a complete anti-God state of mind
It keeps me from admitting my sin
It blinds me to my own faults, causing me to blame others
It is an obstacle to faith in Jesus
It makes me act self-righteous and keeps me from loving others
It is the main ingredient in every argument!

Do I want ANY of those problems to plague me? No! James 4:6 tells me that God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble. I don’t want God resisting me – I need Him to draw me to Himself. Having heard this message, God prompted me to look at my heart, confess my sinful pride, and make necessary adjustments in my spirit so that he could fill my (empty, humble) heart with His amazing grace. 

In the words of D.L. Moody, “I firmly believe that the moment our hearts are emptied of selfishness and ambition and self-seeking and everything that is contrary to God's law, the Holy Spirit will come and fill every corner of our hearts; but if we are full of pride and conceit, ambition and self-seeking, pleasure and the world, there is no room for the Spirit of God. I also believe that many a man is praying to God to fill him, when he is full already with something else. Before we pray that God would fill us, I believe we ought to pray that He would empty us. There must be an emptying before there can be a filling; and when the heart is turned upside down, and everything that is contrary to God is turned out, then the Spirit will come...”     ― D.L. Moody

Friday, May 23, 2014

The Ugly Beautiful by Christie Smith

Colossians 1:18-20 (MSG)
"He was supreme in the beginning and—leading the resurrection parade—he is supreme in the end. From beginning to end he’s there, towering far above everything, everyone. So spacious is he, so roomy, that everything of God finds its proper place in him without crowding. Not only that, but all the broken and dislocated pieces of the universe—people and things, animals and atoms—get properly fixed and fit together in vibrant harmonies, all because of his death, his blood that poured down from the cross."

I'm revisiting a phrase that Ann Voskamp introduced me to a few years ago in her book "One Thousand Gifts." It's what she termed the "ugly-beautiful." That is definitely my life right now!

My windows are ugly with beautiful little handprints.

My bathroom sink is ugly with beautiful toothpast splatters.

My kitchen sink is ugly with beautiful sippie cups and cereal bowls and chocolate milk stains. 

My floor is ugly with beautiful little legos that I'm sure I'll miss one day (but my feet won't!).

My counters are ugly with beautiful stickiness from a spill my independent little 3 year old left as she tried to prove she could do it herself.

My yard is ugly with beautiful tonka trucks and powerwheels and scooters and skateboards. 

My truck is ugly with beautiful school papers and gum wrappers and cracker crumbs.

My flowerbed is ugly with a beautiful trail of toy trucks and boats that lead to a "pond" made of sticks and bricks and garbage bags.

My desk is ugly with beautiful crayons and markers and coloring books filled with Dora and Lightning McQueen and Ninja Turtles. 

My bathtub is ugly with a beautiful ring of grime left over from a bath that washed the dirt off of a very dirty little boy. 

Yes...from the outside, my life looks ugly. From the inside I'm focusing on the beauty in the chaos. I'm choosing joy over frustration. Some of you may be far removed from the macaroni-legos-bedtime stories-Disney movies on repeat days. But what things are you missing in your life right now? What frustrations and expectations are you letting get in the way of what is really important in your life right now?

Thursday, May 22, 2014

You're Invited by Ramona Callahan

Leah's House is excited to announce an upcoming event. Everyone is invited to attend a free concert sponsored by Heartland Church on Stateline Road, Friday, June 6, at 7:00pm. There will be $5.00 dinner boxes for sale as well as a silent auction.

You can help by donating items for the sale, inviting all of your friends, and attending the concert. All money raised will go toward housing expenses to support Leah's House Ministry which provides a free and safe place for women who need help making positive changes in their lives. You can be part a ministry dedicated to sharing the love and saving grace of our Lord by participating in any way. 

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

A Random Encounter by Paula Roten

I had a busy day planned. I had to squeeze my workout in first thing if it was going to get done. After all, the doctor had told me to do strengthening exercises in order to relieve the constant pain in my knee. So off to the gym I go, 3 times a week, just to walk without pain. In the workout room, a random stranger walked up to me and said,

- I'm noticing your t-shirt. (It was a Christian shirt.) Do you believe in prayer?

- Absolutely!

Then she proceeded to pour out her heart to me about someone she knew who had just been diagnosed with cancer. She ended by asking me to pray for this person.

I took her hand and asked if I could pray right then. She said yes. 

I prayed asking God for all the things we ask for in these crisis situations - healing, peace, His presence, comfort. And I ended it with a phrase I'm truly learning on a daily basis for all the things that happen in life that I don't understand or want - "But not our will, Lord, but Yours. May You be glorified in this."

She appreciated my prayer, thanked me, and went about working out herself. She finished before I did and came over to me to thank me again.

I thought about this odd encounter for the rest of the day. I always wonder what the Lord is up to with them. Here are some of my conclusions:

1. The Lord again interrupted my "schedule." You see, I am very schedule-oriented, rather than people-oriented. This particular day, I had exactly 2 hours (including driving time) to do the elliptical and get my upper and lower body strength-training in. No time to dilly-dally. But the Lord is always more concerned with people than with my schedule. I should be too.

2. Another thing that hit me was that I am dealing with my own problems when it comes to cancer. Does God really want me to pray for someone else when my own granddaughter is fighting this awful disease? The answer is yes. Who better to empathize and understand another's pain? (Praise be to the God of all comfort who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4)

3.  Did I even tell the lady about my granddaughter and her cancer? No, I didn't. One thing I'm learning about comforting others is not to make it about me, especially by telling them my problems and concerns and experiences. It isn't about me at the moment. It's about them. And their pain. They're the ones hurting and needing some kind of encouragement. And about the only kind I can give (because, frankly, I'm drained myself) is to point them to the Lord. He's the source of their strength and the Great Physician. 

4.  And my final observation is about Christian t-shirts. I realized I better live up to the message on them. Because people notice. They are the first testimony someone might receive about Christianity, but the way I behave better back it up. That shirt might just be an open door to witness to someone who happens to really be open to the Gospel that day.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Time to Bloom by Christie Smith

There's a plant that sits in the window sill of my bedroom. It's a little plant that one of my kids brought home from school as a Mother's Day present, and for the most part, has maintained for the past couple of years without needing much. But lately, it has starting looking a little frail. I've made sure it has water, but not too much water...sun, but not too much sun. I just couldn't figure out what was wrong with it. Nothing has changed in it's environment. The plant itself hasn't changed much these past two years either. It looks pretty much the same as the day my son gave it to me. So why all of a sudden has it started to wither? Then I remembered something I used to warn all my customers of when I worked at a garden center years ago..."make sure you replant that in a bigger pot once you get it home." You see, my little plant in the windowsill had become what they call "root bound." While it looked like nothing was really growing or changing with my plant, I couldn't see what was going on beneath the surface. On the outside it looked as if the plant hadn't done any growing when, in fact, it's roots had outgrown the pot in which it was planted. 
We sometimes can become root bound too. Just like the roots of my plant had become so tangled and crammed together, we cram so much stuff into our lives that it can cause us to stop thriving. Activities, schedules, plans, expectations...not to mention the worthless anxiety we cause with social media. We look fine on the outside. We're managing. But underneath, our souls are gasping for air. 

Unlike my leafy friend in the window, we can't just trade up to a bigger house to solve the problem. And adding hours into our days to allow time to just be still is out of the question. So what's the answer? How do we make extra room for our minds and souls?  Start by asking yourself what is it in your life that drains you...drains your time, your energy, your emotions. Is it something (or someone) you can limit in your life, or cut out all together? Maybe we need to learn to say "no" and stop taking on so much? Maybe our expectations of ourselves are too much? Maybe instead of perfection we could settle for just good enough? 

And as we make room for our roots to flourish we should also concentrate on what we allow to nourish us. Our souls are just like our bodies and need proper nutrition to be at their best. So what are you feeding your soul? Maybe it's time to loosen the soil of your root bound life and allow God room to move in and through you. 

It may have seemed as if nothing has been going on in your life. From the outside nothing has really changed. But God has been doing a work of growth in the unseen parts of your life. Now it's time to loosen the soil and allow your life to bloom. 

Monday, May 19, 2014

Word for the Week

But encourage one another daily, 
as long as it is called Today, 
so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness. 
Hebrews 3:13

The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. James 5:16b

I experienced these verses first-hand yesterday as a friend looked into my eyes and asked me how I was doing, then listened intently, cried for me, and then prayed with me. And the crazy thing is that her prayer was just like mine lately...she had no clue how to pray...she had no words to formulate what she didn't know how to pray for. Yet this prayer was so encouraging to me. I was reminded of that scripture in Romans 8:26-27 that tells us the Holy Spirit intercedes for us when we don't know how to pray or what to pray for. 

Who needs your prayers today? It may just make a huge difference in their life! 

Friday, May 16, 2014

Don't Be Afraid of the Dark by Christie Smith

My friend and I were talking yesterday about how it's so hard for us to be still, to be quiet, to be alone. It's like we fear being alone. We fear not being "productive." We concluded that maybe we need to redefine what it means to be productive, because in truth, God often comes to us most clearly and powerfully in the stillness and loneliness. Maybe that's why we are afraid of it?

For me, being still has been one of the hardest lessons I've had to learn. "Work" up until this season of my life has meant contributing to the gross national product or producing something with my hands...something to show I've been of some sort of worth for the day. But I've learned that in those days where I've been the least productive in human eyes, those were the days where God has been the most productive IN me. 

My job in those times of sadness or loneliness or exhaustion or just the mundane days of motherhood is to just be still. That is my job. That is what I'm here to do right now. And most of the time when I hit one of those "down times," it's usually because there is something I need to work on personally. Either unconfessed strongholds of sin or forgiveness that I refuse to give someone who's wronged me or any number of things I can't quite put my finger on. Whatever the reason, I must start the stillness. Because in my world in those moments, everything is not ok. Why do I think that I have to pretend that it is? We think as Christians we should be protected against sadness, but sadness is not our true enemy. 

Our true enemy right now busyness. Our true enemy is blind faith, the kind of faith that closes her eyes in the dark, refusing to see it, pretending that everything is fine. The kind of faith that chases after achievements and service, hoping she will be named worthy because of all she's accomplished.  

Now, I'm not saying that in these times we should stop reading our Bibles (although a lot of times in these sad and lonley places that's exactly what we do). I'm just saying that in these times it's not always a mountain of theology that is needed. What is needed is time to be still, be depressed, be angry...time to just be REAL with God. Elijah went through times like this. And it wasn't a refresher course in Old Testament 101 that God gave him. What He gave Elijah first was food and rest. Before He ever uttered a word to Elijah He gave him what He knew he needed as a human. God created us, yet we think He expects us to be these spiritual, superhumans. He, more than anyone, knows our human weaknesses and needs. When our devotional life becomes impractical, it's we who have made it this way. With the expectations we put on ourselves and others, we've made it downright inhumane at times!

It's ok to be overwhelmed and to question God. Even Moses wrote at one point: 

"We live for seventy years or so (with luck we might make it to eighty), And what do we have to show for it? Trouble. Toil and trouble and a marker in the graveyard. Who can make sense of such rage, such anger against the very ones who fear you?" Psalm 90:10, 11

And it was in that dark place that Moses heard from God, Psalm 91:14 "If you'll hold on to me for dear life," says God, "I'll get you out of any trouble. I'll give you the best of care if you'll only get to know and trust me."

After hearing these truths spoken to Moses thousands of years ago, am I still sad? Yes, a little. Am I still struggling to find that passion and joy? Yes, at times. But it's in these times that my faith is growing. It's in the darkness that my view of the Lord is becoming clearer. So let yourself be sad. Let yourself be still. Don't be afraid of the dark because it's only after being in the dark that we truly appreciate the light. 

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Fear of Trusting by Donna Clayton

Trust – Reliance on the integrity, strength, ability, surety, etc. of a person or thing; confidence.
God’s Word has a lot to say on the subject of trust – as a matter of fact, it is vital to salvation. We must trust He is Who He says He is and that He can do what He says He can do. Many Christians say they trust the Lord (including me), but do they really? Do I really?

God brought that question to my attention recently while on a trip in a small airplane. I was sitting next to my husband, a pilot, headed to Arkansas to visit family. The airplane climbed up into the air as my husband operated the controls with expertise. Then God spoke: You trust him so implicitly. You will climb into any airplane with him and never give it a second thought. Why don’t you trust Me in the same way?

Hmmmm. I don’t trust You implicitly? Why not? I’ll get in an airplane with my husband, no matter the weather, no matter where we are headed, and never sense an ounce of trepidation. I have complete faith in him as a pilot.  He knows how to fly, he knows when to be scared, he knows when to stay on the ground. That is his job. 

On the other hand, God, the Creator of the universe, gave my husband this knowledge, and His knowledge is far greater: He knows much more than weather, aviation principles; the list is endless. Creating and maintaining the universe is His job.

So why, in my life, when I’m about to encounter a situation that could be dangerous or simply dealing with the unknown, am I afraid?  It stems from a lack of trust.  

According to statistics, 20-30% of people are apprehensive about flying; 2-10% are at phobic levels. Sarah Schlichter wrote an article giving five steps on how to deal with the fear of flying. They are as follows:
Know what to expect – learn the basics of how airplanes work
Familiarize yourself with your plane – know what your plane looks like
Choose an aisle seat – you’ll feel less claustrophobic and won’t get scared looking out the window
Monitor your media intake – avoid airplane disaster movies, don’t dwell on news coverage of plane crashes
Think positive – try to focus on the fun things you’ll do once you reach your destination

Could I possibly make a 5 point checklist of how to trust my Lord?
Know what to expect – God wants the best for His children
Familiarize yourself with His Word – read the MANY accounts of His faithfulness to His people (even in seemingly bad/scary situations) 
Choose an aisle seat – or any seat in a church where God’s Word is preached – it solidifies your faith
Monitor your media intake – what you feed into your mind will affect how you think, act, and feel
Think positive – memorize Scriptures that encourage trust and quote them often

“Trust in the Lord forever, for in God the Lord, we have an everlasting Rock.” Isaiah 26:4

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Super Smoothie by Paula Roten

I find that I like to drink smoothies more as summer approaches and the weather gets warm. They make delicious, refreshing, and often low calorie breakfasts and snacks. 

I was a little hesitant to even try this particular smoothie. I usually drink fruit smoothies, with an occasional handful of spinach thrown in for good measure. But I had never put cucumber in one. I discovered the cucumber gives the smoothie such a refreshing quality. Perfect for cooling off on a hot, sweaty day.

Super Smoothie - 4 servings (but I think 2)
1 cup frozen blueberries
1/2 cup sliced banana
1/2 cup sliced peeled cucumber                                                   1/2 cup water
1/2 cup vanilla yogurt
1/2 cup crushed ice, or as needed

Blend blueberries, banana, cucumber, water, and yogurt together in a blender until smooth. Add crushed ice and blend until smooth.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Wholeness by Christie Smith

Today my soul longs for wholeness, for that moment we will know the meaning of it all. For now, we get only  a glimpse of the picture. We see only a fractured image of what God intended this world to be. We have this picture in our head of how our lives should be and … CRACK!... bankruptcy… CRACK!... divorce… CRACK! … cancer. This is a broken life we live.

All too often I find myself living in that fractured reflection. I forget that one day we will see and we will know all the answers to these questions that overwhelm us now. (1 John 3:2) I’ve been living in a world that is full of trouble instead of living in the fact that we can “take heart” because God has overcome the world. (John 16:33)

My younger faith was hopeful. I hadn’t experienced the heartaches that await us as we live day-after-day in a world that continually rejects the very One that gives it life. I’ve been looking at myself and this world through the cracked glass and hanging onto the brokenness and despair instead of seeing what God wants me to see…that He completes and heals the brokenness. He heals the hurts, He heals the pain… HE HEALS IT ALL. I can’t whisper “thank you” with my lips and then live “what if” with my life. I have to start seeing through God’s image and not the broken one I see every day in the mirror.

I have not been living life abundant, but instead I have been holding on by my fingertips to just keep breathing. I have forgotten that my heart “will be restless until it rests in Him.” (St. Augustine) In Lamentations we are reminded that even though we sit in the silence and in the grief, we can be hopeful because there are promises to be fulfilled…promises of love and compassion and faithfulness.

In one moment I am awed by the “blessings” of the Lord. The next moment I want to throw all the spiritual lingo out the window because of my heartache. I know the truth in my head, but my heart hurts! I’m afraid of hoping too deeply, of loving with abandon, of ending up broken.

Despite my fears, God is still God. When I allow Him to clean the mirror for a moment, I’m reminded that this is just a fractured reflection of the whole picture. I don’t have to focus on the cracks of this world, but on the God who holds it all together. He holds the answers. He holds the heartaches. He holds our fears. And He holds every one of our tears.

We can let our brokenness lead to bitterness, or we can let it lead to a heart forced open that allows the space necessary to hold all the love and joy and hope that God wants us to experience.

My mind wants to analyze. My mind wants to run through the list of a million questions I have for the future. My mind wants to doubt. My God wants me to rest. My God wants me to accept and rest. So, here we go again, searching for the truth of our faith. Right now we see only part of the picture, but our faith, that has proven itself true time-and-time again, tells us that we can find hope in the One who sees it all. His reflection is never broken, and in Him, neither are we.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Sistering by Christie Smith

I read an article at and fell in love with the term "sistering." It's a term used in carpentry and this is how one reader defines it:

"Sometimes an existing joist, which was designed to handle a certain load, becomes too weak. Maybe it was damaged by water or fire. Maybe it still has structural integrity but an addition is being constructed and the new load is going to be a lot heavier than before. Either way, now it is not as sturdy as it needs to be.
When a builder needs to strengthen that joist, she puts a new member right next to the original one and fastens the two together. Sometimes, two new joists are needed - one on either side."

Do you know what they call that?

A Sister Joist.

And builders use “Sister” as a verb, like, “We need to Sister the joists in the east bay about four feet.” Even better is the nonsensical: “Sistering” as in, “Are they finished Sistering the roof rafters?”

Sometimes the load of life is too heavy. Sometimes we break. And sometimes after the breaking, a sister comes up beside us to help bear the load. When the two are fastened tightly together, the original member is stronger than before. 

Are you in need of "sistering" today? That's what our women's ministry is all about...coming alongside each other to make us all stronger. So reach out and help someone around you. Or, like in my case, reach out and let someone know when you need help. God created us for relationship! 

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Grands by Ramona Callahan

When I think of my grandparents, teachers, preachers and friends who I’ve looked up to over the years, they all have one thing in common. They told stories. I loved to hear the stories they told of the things they had experienced personally, the things they knew about, and the things they had learned. The common thread was they were all talking to me. There was a relationship where I was listening and they were talking. I may have been part of a large audience or an audience of one sitting on a lap, but they were talking while I was listening. As nature would have it, many of them are no longer alive. What’s left of them here on earth? What’s left is the stories, the memories of hearing them told by the one who knew more than I, simply because he or she had been around longer. 

“I heard an old, old story, how a Savior came from glory, how He gave His life on Calvary to save a wretch like me. I heard about His groaning, of His precious blood's atoning, then I repented of my sins and won the victory.” Wonderful words that remind me of the stories told by some of the special people in my life. Other stories are the classic novels and plays we read in high school. Teachers made them come to life off the pages and take on new meaning as they explained the dialog. The economics teacher taught us to watch money and markets while the history teacher helped us see how our economy got there in the first place. But it was my grandmother who let me see a glimpse of the reality of those effects on every day people as she told me stories of TB and Sanatoriums. It was my grandfather who told me what it was like during the depression to stand in line hoping the food didn’t run out before he got to the front. It was also my grandfather who told me how he cut hair and shaved faces during the war and rode on a city sanitation truck to feed his family afterward. It was my Sunday School teacher who helped me see how to carry out the words of Jesus by caring for others when they needed something as simple as a hand to hold. It was my mother who took me to nursing homes to sing to people whose families might not be able to visit often. It was my Dad who told me to smile when they kissed my cheek with whiskered lips and not to let on like it bothered me. Then I got busy. I became an adult and had children of my own. Grandparents died and teachers retired long after I graduated and forgot about high school. Those lessons stayed with me though.  The memories of the relationships are precious. I learned from them.  

It is for this reason I love to hang out with “grands.” Grands are the people who could be my grandparents. Grands are people my age and a little older who already have grandchildren. Grands are people who have a grand personality, one that oozes excitement and joy. Grands are people who have stories to tell. 

Grands are also people who need to be heard. Perhaps their own “audience” is too busy to listen or has heard the same stories so many times they’ve lost the enthusiasm of listening. After all, you can only laugh at the same punchline so many times. Grands are people who need and long for relationship as much as I do. They are my mentors in Christ, and I am their hope for future generations. These are people I can continue to learn from while offering an ear and an opportunity for them to tell their stories. They are the folks in my church and in my neighborhood and in my salon who have so much to offer simply by being a friend who tells stories.   

To the Grands I say as Paul said to the Philippians, “I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” 

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Prayers for our Children Will Never Cease by Cathy Westmoreland

I am a member of the Baby Boomer generation steadily approaching the Golden Years. My children are grown with children of their own. Some of you are in the same boat! I love watching my family grow in number and in faith. Joy is watching how God is working His plan out in their lives.

I recently read a question from a friend's blog that asked, "Who will help our adult kids develop an ongoing passion for God, for His Word, and for the lost now that we are not with them?"

Never underestimate the power of prayer and the working of the Holy Spirit, especially in our adult children's lives. Our parenting may be different now, but it is far from done. Our children are always watching our lives to see if we mean what we say and say what we mean. We can completely trust God to continue to nurture and raise them up even when our influence is limited. He is responsible for what takes place in their hearts and the outcome of their lives. We plant and water (those are huge responsibilities), trusting as God provides the growth. We just keep obeying God, keep praying for them, and keep loving them.

I pray we all grow in grace.

2 Peter 3:18   but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen

Monday, May 5, 2014

Word for the Week

Are you in a dark, lonely place lately? Do you, like the Sons of Korah, say...
(you have) covered us over with a deep darkness...
Why do you hide your face and 
forget our misery and oppression?
Psalm 44:19, 24

In the dark, I can feel alone but my feelings offer no reliable confirmation that I actually am alone.

If someone tells me they are there, then I just have to trust they are. Accepting God's omnipresence is a matter of faith; it's that simple...and it's that hard.

Am I a God who is only close at hand? says the Lord. 
"No, I am far away at the same time. 
Can anyone hide from me in a secret place? 
Am I not everywhere in all the heavens and earth?" 
says the Lord.
Jeremiah 23:23-24

In Acts 17:28, Paul describes the ever present God this way: 
In Him we live and move and exist.

Let's not trust our feelings today, but let's trust a God who cannot lie.

~ taken from day 1, week 3 of Jennifer Rothschild's Missing Pieces: Real Hope When Life Doesn't Make Sense

Friday, May 2, 2014

Epaphras Praying by Kim Wright (Col.4)

Every Friday, we will be wrestling in prayer over our children. Click HERE to read Kim Wright's post that started the concept of Epaphras praying.

Read Colossians 4:1-18 personalizing these verses in prayer for your children.

V 2 Father, help my children to devote themselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.

V 5 Help my children to be wise in the way they act toward outsiders, help them make the most of every opportunity (to further the Gospel and win others to you!)

V 6 Let their conversations be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that they may know how to answer everyone.

V 12 Father, please help my children to stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Anyone Up for a Power Trip? by Donna Clayton

Recently on a trip to Minneapolis, I stopped in the airport and bought a copy of Marie Claire magazine. Not because I usually read this magazine, but because I watch Project Runway on Lifetime, and the designers often have their creations featured in the magazine.
As I flipped through the magazine, I happened upon an intriguing article called “The New Power Trip” by Abby Aguirre. It caught my eye because of the beautiful photo collage on the title page. So I read the article with the Holy Spirit as my guide, accompanying my thoughts.  

The article was about Ayahuasca, a psychedelic drug that originates in the Amazon, which is currently being used in the United States in shaman-guided rituals. The objective?  “…to spend four to five hours seeing yourself, and others with unflinching clarity.” It is a self-examining drug that women especially are drawn to. According to anthropologist Jeremy Narby, who has studied the drug and even written a book about it,  “…the drug functions like ‘the Drano of the soul.’ It’s going to kick you in the pants and show you what you need to know about yourself.”

Wait a minute!! Isn’t that what God’s Word does for us? Hebrews 4:12 tells us that “the Word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” John 8:31-32 also tells us “If you abide in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you shall know the truth, and truth shall make you free.”  

 God’s Word is not illegal in the United States. It is amazing to me that people sincerely want what the Lord offers freely, but will spend countless dollars, too much time, and risk being arrested to find the deceptive alternative. Let’s take a REAL power trip with the Creator of the Universe to find out what we need to know about ourselves.

Thank You, Holy Spirit, for helping me make the connection. Help me help others make the connection. Let me always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks me to give the reason for the hope that I have.  1 Peter 3:15