Monday, June 30, 2014

Word for the Week

The word of the Lord came to me: 
Son of man, with one blow 
I am about to take away from you 
the delight of your eyes. 
Yet do not lament or weep or shed any tears. 
Groan quietly; do not mourn for the dead. 
Keep your turban fastened 
and your sandals on your feet; 
do not cover the lower part of your face 
or eat the customary food of mourners.
So I spoke to the people in the morning, 
and in the evening my wife died. 
The next morning I did as I had been commanded.
Ezekiel 24: 15-18

Each week, lately, my Sunday School lesson has been in Ezekiel. This week's lesson was the hardest yet. 

So many questions:
  • But God, Ezekiel has been your faithful messenger. He's the good guy!
  • Why would You choose to bring pain into Ezekiel's life when it was all those other people who had sinned against you and not followed or obeyed you?
  • What had Ezekiel's wife done? Why take her?

After I submitted in my heart and mind to the sovereignty of God, I then looked at Ezekiel and had some questions about myself:
  • Would I have carried out my job before the people having just been told something awful was going to happen to me, not knowing specifically what it was? Would I have been filled with so much worry that I couldn't speak before them?
  • After my loss, would I have done as the Lord commanded, or would I have had to take a few days to be angry at God?
  • Why me, Lord? What did I do? Are you mad me? Have I not been serving You?

So you will be a sign to them, 
and they will know that I am the Lord. 
Ezekiel 24:27

Ezekiel was the example to others of how God's man (or woman) should respond. This isn't a new thing in Scripture. Remember Job...Abraham...Joseph...Daniel...Esther...Jesus?

My husband and I talked about this hard lesson over lunch. I remember saying to him, "I don't WANT to be an Ezekiel." Who does? Who would choose pain and loss and suffering? But I surely don't want to be those other people either. Those who sinned against the Lord, who chose idol worship, who forgot His promises to them, who chose their own destructive way rather than God's perfect will. 

So, I want to look at my "blazing furnace," whatever awful, difficult life situation that may be, and say as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego said to that pagan king: "The God we serve is able to save us from it...but even if he does not...we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up." Daniel 3:17-18

And say as Job did: "Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him." Job 13:15

And realize as Esther did that I have come to this position for such a time as this. Esther 4:14

And declare as Asaph the Levite worship leader did: "Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever." Psalm 73:25-26

And say as Jesus did: "My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as You will." Matthew 26:39

And, finally, I want to honor God, be an example and a comfort to others, and say as 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 says, "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and 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."

Notice in the paragraphs above, I said I want to behave a certain way. I know all too well that the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. So I paraphrase and pray Philippians 2:13: God,work in me to want and to do according to your good purpose. Amen and Amen. 

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Mirrors by Christie Smith

Proverbs 27:19 "Just as water mirrors your face, so your face mirrors your heart."

I don't look in mirrors very often. There's the morning visit to put my contacts in and try to tame the beast sitting atop my head, and then the nightly visit to take the contacts out for the night. I don't spend a great deal of time focusing on all the little details that make up my physical self. If I do, it usually leads to feelings of "less-than" about the qualities lying beneath the surface. 

Mirrors are everywhere in our life. In our homes, in our cars, in our purses. But it's not just in these shiny, reflective objects that we find our reflection. We also view ourselves through the eyes of others. From infancy, we judge the facial expressions and the tone of their voice to figure out whether we're "good" or "bad." As we grow, we change our need for acceptance from our parents to our friends. We find our identity in them. We emulate their qualities and actions in an attempt to be accepted, to be "normal." As adults, hopefully, we've gained a good sense of who we are and rely less on the acceptance of others. But looking to others to judge how we're doing doesn't have to be a bad thing. Just as we look into a mirror to fix flaws in our physical qualities, we can look to others to fix flaws in our character qualities. We can see where we may be off track and fix things. We can also catch a glimpse of our potential in the faith of others that sometimes eludes us because of doubt and fear. 

The problem comes when we look to these external "mirrors" as absolute truth. We have to remember that the people we're looking to are also flawed. They have their own weak spots that warp their view of themselves and others, so looking to them to see who we are is like looking in a fun house mirror. We can't look to others to figure out who we are. We can't even look to ourselves for the truth. We have to focus on the mirror that nevers distorts, never warps, never lies. If we are to be a reflection of Christ, why would we look to anyone or anything other than the one true Christ? It's the only way to stay focused on what is real and true. 

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Strawberry Spinach Salad by Brenda Riden

It's summertime, and hot weather always calls for salads, whether it's a light lunch salad or a heartier dinner salad. This strawberry spinach salad is perfect for lunch or as a side salad with a larger meal, or you can add grilled chicken to it for dinner. Enjoy! 

1 lemon
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
1/3 cup sugar
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp poppy seeds

¼ cup sliced natural almonds, toasted*
1 package (6 ounces) baby spinach
8 oz. (1 ½ cups) strawberries, hulled and quartered
½ med. Cucumber, cut in half and sliced
¼ small red onion, sliced into thin wedges (1/4 cup)

For dressing, zest 1/2 the lemon. Juice lemon to measure 2 tbsp juice. Combine zest, juice, vinegar, sugar, oil and poppy seeds in a bowl. Whisk until well blended. Cover; refrigerate until ready to use.

* To toast almonds - Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread almonds in single layer over the bottom of a small bar pan. Bake 10-12 minutes or until lightly toasted. Remove from oven; cool almonds in pan.

Place spinach in large serving bowl; add strawberries, cucumber and onion. Whisk dressing; pour over salad, gently tossing to coat. Sprinkle with almonds. Serve immediately.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Word for the Week

Are you so foolish?
After beginning with the Spirit,
are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?
Galations 3:3
No explanation needed. God's Word is pretty clear on this one!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Book Reviews by RaMona Callahan

"There will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars... Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near." -Luke 21:25, 27-28

After reading John Hagee's Four Blood Moons, I have a whole new appreciation and understanding of what those words mean. This book presents the alignment of history and scientific study with scripture. It is exciting to realize how the activity of the sun and moon has perfectly coincided with the modern history of the Jewish nation. It also explores the possible meaning of the next upcoming series of the sun and moon called a tetrad. I recommend this book for anyone who enjoys learning about history, prophecy, or the events of the Jewish nation. It is easy to read, making a rather intimidating subject matter much easier to comprehend. Reading this book has taught me to pay closer attention to the unfolding events of the world.  

Wonder by R. J. Palacio is a book about kindness and transition. It tells the story of Auggie who was born with a bone structure deformity. Because of multiple surgeries, he was never able to go to school, but now he is entering fifth grade at Beecher Prep Middle School. Some of the other kids are really nice to him, and others are really mean. The story progresses as we see through his eyes the experiences and relationships the year of fifth grade holds. You will laugh and cry, be angry and happy, but it all ends well with a wonderful surprise. I recommend this book for kids, teens, and adults. It is appropriate for group discussion or just for enjoyment at any age. It is not Christian fiction, so there are some mentions of God and the universe that may catch your attention, but they are not the focus of the story. The focus is about being kind. I hope you will enjoy this easy read. 

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Mango Walnut Salad by Paula Roten

I love salads with fruit in them. This one is so simple that I didn't even measure the ingredients for my single-serving lunch. I topped mine with white balsamic vinegar, but I'm sure your favorite salad dressing would work as well. 

Mango Walnut Salad  -  serves 4 (from
3 small mangoes, peeled and cubed*
6 red lettuce leaves, rinsed, dried, and torn
1/2 cup walnut pieces
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
1/2 green bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
1 carrot, peeled and sliced

In a large bowl, gently toss together the mangoes, lettuce, walnuts, cranberries, red and green peppers, and carrot. Add your favorite vinaigrette or dressing. Serve immediately. 

*Don't know how to cut a mango? Check out this video.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The Middle by Christie Smith

I recently read about a literary discussion group that would meet once a week in a little pub in England to discuss its members' works and other various pieces of literature. Some of the group included J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis. I think of writers such as Jane Austen and Emily Dickinson and I wonder why I can't write something as inspirational and life-changing as some of their works were. Then I remember that they all had something that seems to constantly elude me...time! Life was so much different for these people. They had cooks and housekeepers and nannies. Anytime a thought hit them they could stop knitting or playing cards or smoking their pipes and spend time thoughtfully constructing their musings in beautiful leather journals (don't overlook the envy dripping in sarcasm here!) They didn't have to tell their muse to go away because can't she see that there is laundry to do and dinner to cook and bickering children to referee. Who has time for inspiration in all of that? I mean, anyone could whip out a literary masterpiece if they had more than five minutes of sustained silence and a full night's sleep! (Again with the sarcasm).

My visions of inspirational writing times differ greatly from what actually happens. I'm not sitting against a tree in a beautiful field full of wild flowers and singing birds. A babbling brook does not serenade me as I rush to take down the beautiful prose it's whispering. No, usually I'm sitting on my bathroom floor with the door closed and lights off in an effort to hide from these people who call me "Mom!" I'm at the park full of babbling children trying to write the next great chapter of my book on my iPhone as the other mothers stare at me and talk about what a bad, uninvolved mother I am. I'm hurrying to write down a few lucid thoughts in between changing a diaper and wiping up a spilled drink. I know you're jealous! Jane Austen and C. S. Lewis had the freedom of pursuing their dreams as a way of life, a way of earning a living. My dream of writing will have to happen in the Middle of living my life or After the "living" of this life sleeps for a while. It will happen in the middle of raising my little ones and after supper and baths and bedtime stories. It will happen in the middle of the night and after the laundry is folded and put away along with  the groceries.

Then I realize that it's this life I'm living that inspires me. Most of what I write about is about being in the midst of this chaotic life of mothering five children. Luke 6:45 (MSG) “You must begin with your own life-giving lives. It’s who you are, not what you say and do, that counts. Your true being brims over into true words and deeds." 
                                Life-giving lives.
                                    True words. 

These words spoken by Jesus during the Sermon on the Mount couldn't be more peace-giving for me right now in my life. I don't have to set the lofty goal of publishing a book. All I have to do is live this life He gave me the way He wants me to live it and wait for Him to meet me here, in the midst of it. My "call," my inspiration, my writing is born out of living in His perfect will day in and day out. That's all I have to do. 

Writing has been a lifeline to sanity for me these past few years. I never even really wrote anything (except journaling) until my last child was born. I found my voice in the middle of my life-giving life. I do have dreams of publishing a book someday, but I know that it's "who I am, not what I say" that matters. And I've experienced time and again that it's when I use this gift of writing that I find my way through the toughest times in my life, because God always meets me the middle of it all. 

Is there a dream you've put on hold because you don't see it happening the way you've always envisioned it? Maybe your dreams could come true in the middle of your life-giving life. It's there that God meets us and, not only gives us our dreams, but makes our dreams reality! 

Monday, June 16, 2014

Word for the Week

The word of the Lord came to me: 
"What do you people mean by quoting this proverb 
about the land of Israel: 
'The fathers eat sour grapes, 
and the children's teeth are set on edge'"?
Ezekiel 18:1-2

The current Israelites were playing the blame game - blaming their fathers' sin for their circumstances. How often do we do this same thing, blaming others for our situation? Blaming parents, co-workers, using the "She did it first" or "She started it" mentality. Blaming someone else's actions for our responses. 

The soul who sins is the one who will die. 
The son will not share the guilt of the father, 
nor will the father share the guilt of the son.
Ezekiel 18:20

We are responsible for our own actions. Not our parents, our environment, our situation. 

Therefore, O house of Israel, 
I will judge you, 
each one according to his ways, 
declares the Sovereign Lord. 
Repent! Turn away from all your offenses; 
then sin will not be your downfall. 
Rid yourselves of all the offenses you have committed, 
and get a new heart and a new spirit. 
Ezekiel 18: 30-31

How should we respond when we're tempted to play the blame game? Stop and turn away from what our "normal" response would be. And get a new heart. We need a heart transplant. One gave His heart for us many years ago. Receive it. Jesus died and gave His life for us that we might live victoriously and eternally. 

~ from yesterday's Sunday School lesson taught by Nellita Young

Friday, June 13, 2014

How to Know What Kind of Paint to Use by Michael Baty

I think I have come to the realization that blog posts don't have to be long and drawn out. My boss Michael Baty actually posted this the other day. I thought it was good. 
           ~Stacy MacSpadden (Chestnut Hall)

How to Know What Kind of Paint to Use....

Latex or oil-based? -- Ready to do some painting over old paint? Wondering whether you need a latex or oil-based paint? Here's how to tell.

First, scrub a small area with a solution of household detergent and warm water. Rinse well and towel dry. Then soak a cotton ball, Q-tip or soft rag in alcohol and rub it back and forth over the cleaned area.

If paint comes off, it's latex and another coat of the same is in order. If the paint doesn't come off, it's oil-based, and an oil-based primer is a must.

Then you have options for the finish coat, and different types of latex or oil-based paint can be used. 

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Keep Walking by Christie Smith

Psalm 42:1 "As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God."

In my younger days, I enjoyed hiking. One of my favorite hiking experiences came one summer during a trip to Colorado. I'd always gone snow skiing in this area during spring break, but found the beauty of the mountains absolutely breathtaking during the summer months. I also found the hike breathtaking...literally. The energy it took to hike these trails and the higher altitudes was almost more than I could handle. And the heat and exercise made me grab my water bottle every few minutes it seemed. My friend and I were over half the way up when I realized I was almost out of water. I desperately wanted to make it to the top, but wasn't sure if I'd make it without a refill. Should I just turn around? Or continue hiking and looking for a stream along the way? My competitive nature pushed me to keep going. I couldn't let my friend...who was a boy, beat me...the girl. So, on we went keeping an eye open for any source of water. Out of water and not sure how much further it was to the top, I contunued on in determination. What else could I do?

Sometimes I feel that very same way in my spiritual hike. I have those "dry spells" where it seems like I just can't go another step. Things are uncertain and the presence of God is a faint memory. I have so many unanswered questions that I may or may not get the answers to in this life. But just like on that mountain in Colorado, I have to keep going in search of water. Even if I'm not feeling very spiritual or even feel like God is real, I believe that He's real and I believe that He is the only answer to all this life throws at me. So, I continue on in search of His presence because I know that just as my body needs water or it will die, so my soul needs the Lord to survive. 

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Book Suggestions by Ramona Callihan

Looking for a great book?

The Bait of Satan by John Bevere is an easy read, but just as though-provoking. It brings to light the ways Satan uses the trap of offenses to distract us from our calling... to love one another. It includes a study guide and affirmations as well as suggested prayer subjects in each chapter. This book certainly made me think about the ways I respond to situations and people, particularly when something hurts my feelings. I suggest this book for anyone who has felt hurt by other Christians, anyone who desires a deeper, more meaningful relationship with God and other people, and anyone who is in a position of leadership. I hope you enjoy it and learn from its pages as much as I have so far. I will be using it as a personal reference many times in the future. 

Looking for inspiration? 

Echoes of Mercy by Nancy Alcorn will inspire and encourage you. It is the story of how Nancy Alcorn was called to serve God and the journey that lead her to begin Mercy Ministries. Mercy Ministries is a nationally recognized organization that helps teenage and young adult women in times of crisis. This ministry is a non-profit free service for girls who are pregnant and need help, homeless teens, drug/alcohol addicts, self-mutilation addicts, and victims of human trafficing, just to brush the surface. The path her career took allowed her to see the deficit in the public rehabilition and correctional facilities for delinquent girls. You will be amazed as her story unfolds. God is using Nancy and Mercy Ministries to change lives drastically. I recommend this book for anyone who believes God calls us to help others. This generation is full of hurting people, and Mercy Ministries is a wonderful example of the way God can change lives.   

Have a hard time saying “No”?

Boundaries by Dr.'s Clowd and Townsend has been a wonderful resource for teaching others about setting limits and becoming disciplined. Not surprising, though, I learned so much about myself while reading it, that I became engrossed in its pages. I've now read the book 5 times as I teach from it at Leah's House Ministry. Every time I work with a new group of  ladies, I learn more about myself and how God wants me to grow and mature in His image. I highly recommend this book for everyone who has ever felt overwhelmed or inadequate in any way. It is also a great book for anyone dealing with hurtful memories, the inability to forgive, or a family member with addictions. It is a simple format that walks through boundary issues from birth to adulthood, how we form them, how they are strengthened or weakened, and how they measure up to God's plan for our lives. It is my prayer that everyone who deals with any “issues” will find answers from God's word through this book.  

Monday, June 9, 2014

Word for the Week

This is what the Lord says:

"Cursed is the one who trusts in man, 
who depends on flesh for his strength 
and whose heart turns away from the Lord.
He will be like a bush in the wastelands;
he will not see prosperity when it comes.
He will dwell in the parched places of the desert,
in a salt land where no one lives.

But blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord,
whose confidence is in him. 
He will be like a tree planted by the water
that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes;
its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
and he never fails to bear fruit."
Jeremiah 17: 5-8

Friday, June 6, 2014

How Do We Find Hope in All the Hopelessness? by Christie Smith

Preface: Please read the story of the Road to Emmaus in Luke 24:13-35. Go ahead... I'll wait.



...(still waiting on the slow readers)

Ok, so lately I've felt like these two men. I don't even watch or read the news, but these stories bombard my world anyway. They infiltrate my mind and heart and I've found myself almost hopeless that things will ever get better. Floods, fires, hurricanes, and tornadoes that kill many and leave even more devastated and homeless. That wouldn't be so bad until I hear stories of relief efforts being delayed or even taken by government. Third world countries suffer because of this daily, but even here in America, the greed and selfishness of those who are in charge of the well-being of its citizens is sickening. Then you have the mass-shootings and murders and abuse that seem to be an everyday headline of the five o'clock news. Thousands of children are being sold into slavery in the sex trade industry and it's not even a big deal for most of us when we hear it. Sure, we let out the uniform, "Oh wow! That is horrible!" statement. But it pretty much ends there. Because what can we do...really? Even when someone invests their whole life into a cause, what difference does it really make in the effort as a whole? Hopeless. It all seems hopeless!

That's what happens when I look at these stories with worldly eyes. I forget to focus on the facts. And as Christians, our facts are found in His Word. This is exactly what Jesus does for these two hopeless men who have just seen the one they were hoping was THE ONE be crucified and put in a tomb. I love the Message version of the following verses, "Then he said to them, 'So thick-headed! So slow-hearted! Why can’t you simply believe all that the prophets said? Don’t you see that these things had to happen, that the Messiah had to suffer and only then enter into his glory?' Then he started at the beginning, with the Books of Moses, and went on through all the Prophets, pointing out everything in the Scriptures that referred to him."

Yep. Thick-headed and slow-hearted. That's me. Jesus started at the beginning for them and walked them through the Scriptures. Then they recognized that this was Jesus with them. Verse 32 says,  "Back and forth they talked. 'Didn’t we feel on fire as he conversed with us on the road, as he opened up the Scriptures for us?'"

"Didn't we feel on fire?" It's been a while since I've felt "on fire." But if you notice from the verse, they felt on fire when Jesus conversed with them and opened up the Scriptures.

So, that's my mission in these times that overwhelm me. Now, more than ever, I need to focus on Him and on what His Word tells me. There is no other hope in a world that is nearing its end. That is a fact. It's going to end, and in the process it's going to get pretty bad. But we have hope because we know the end. We know who holds the past, present, future...and the His hands. Do you believe that? Do you really BELIEVE that? Then not only is there nothing to worry about or lose hope over, but we have every reason to be joyful in these days of violence and catastrophy. We shouldn't lose hope, but instead we should be full of hope and live 
"on fire" in the truth of Jesus and all that He has promised! Don't focus on the stories of this world, but on the Scriptures. Bring your focus back to Him and your heart will start to burn with His passion once again. Only through Jesus revealing Himself through His Word will our hope be restored and will always remind us that even though we cannot see Him, He is always with us!

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Meatballs and Meatloaf for the Freezer by Paula Roten

I was recently strolling through Facebook when I saw a post about slow cooker meals to last all summer long. I landed at this link HERE. But as I clicked, I found myself at where she had published a meatball/meatloaf recipe that could be frozen for future meals. Who couldn't use an already prepped meal all ready for the oven? I see spaghetti and meatballs, hoagie sandwiches, Italian meatballs over pasta...just change up the sauce and the base, and you have at least 4 different meals. This is in my freezer just waiting for one of those super busy days!

Meatball / Meatloaf Mixture

4 pounds ground beef 
3 cups bread crumbs 
6 eggs, beaten 
1 large onion, chopped 
3 cloves garlic
2 Tablespoons dried parsley 
1 Tablespoon dried basil 
1 teaspoon kosher salt 

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Don’t mix too much, just enough to distribute ingredients throughout mixture. Form into meatballs or divide into four parts and form four meatloaves. These are not very salty meatballs, since you will serve them with sauce or gravy.

For meatballs, bake in 350° oven for 15 minutes or until cooked through for meatballs. Cool, label, and freeze. For meatloaves, wrap, label and freeze. When ready to serve, thaw and bake 45-60 minutes or until cooked through.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

A Story of a Car by RaMona Callihan

I really like my car. As a matter of fact, I love driving it. As I was preparing a lesson based on past, present, and future, I used my car as an example. The windshield represented my future, which is much larger than my past, the rearview mirror. It is important to consider the past and learn from it, even make decisions based on what I see there, but I certainly would never stare at it while driving forward. If the windshield is my future and the rearview mirror is my past, then it stands to reason that my current choices would be the steering wheel. I use it to decide which way to go. No one makes that decision but me. Occasionally, I might allow someone else to grab the wheel for a moment, but ultimately, it is up to me where to steer my car.  

In true RaMona fashion, this little picture quickly became a full-blown movie. I began to consider all the other parts of the car and how significant they truly are. For example, the engine has all kinds of working parts that need oil to keep them moving. They need regular maintenance. They need fuel to make them go and brakes to allow them to stop. I know a good mechanic who takes care of some of these things. It's up to me to put the gas in and pay attention to the fuel gage. The speedometer tells me a lot, but only if I pay attention to it.  

My car is a picture of my life. There are many internal parts that require "oil" and "fuel." My brain and my heart physically need to keep moving, and the right choices in food and exercise help to insure good performance. However, there is also my soul, my inner man, that needs to be fueled. The radiator is there to keep things cool, and sometimes my ego and temper need cooling. God's Word is full of the many fluids I will need to keep the engine in check. Then there are the tires. Tires come in all sizes and treads. I wouldn't want bicycle tires on a tractor. Neither would I want all-terrane tires on my luxury ride! Some tires give traction for riding the rough roads. Other tires offer a smooth, comfortable travel. God knows exactly when the road is going to get rough. He provides the right message for each road. Some "tires" are words of encouragement. Others are lessons of accountability, consequence, and reward.  

I could go into headlights for vision, seat belts to protect, cruise control for easy sailing, or even the emergency brake for when I need to stop suddenly to avoid a crash. Instead, I'd like to share a lesson in blinkers. I've been guilty of changing lanes without warning the others around me. Those blinkers are meant to let others know how my actions are about to effect them. They then have the responsibility and freedom to adjust their own speed or position. If I fail to let others know what I'm about to do, I risk causing a big accident. This is so true of my every day actions. It is inconsiderate of me to make big changes without warning others. How rude when they blow a horn at me! My human nature is to react in anger at the horn blower, when in reality they are trying to avoid a collision. Life is full of possible collisions: The other mothers at  school who get in my way, the grocery clerk who is working SOOOOO slowly, and the husband who leaves dirty dishes in the sink.  

There's the gas pedal and brake that must work together but not against each other. There's the roadside assistance and required driver's license. Let's not forget the insurance, especially the uninsured motorist coverage. We've all been driving along next to other cars whose owner/operators had no insurance, no Jesus. We can't look at the car and know. We can assume, but many times we are DEAD wrong.  

Let's think about the tailpipe. What comes out of that thing is pollution. It goes into the engine as air and is circulated through gas fumes and dirty oil and eventually spit back out. Gross! I imagine that's kinda what happens when we take in information, add a little of our own opinions to it and spit it back out. That's pollution!  

God uses everyday vehicles (get it?) to help us learn and apply His word. Psalm 1:1-2 describes the blessed man. He does not walk in the counsel of the wicked by taking advice from those who are not wise in the ways of God. He doesn't hang out with those who make fun of or smirk at the ways of God. Verse 2: Rather, the law of The Lord is his joy, and on his law he meditates day and night. It is through regular reading and thinking through the scriptures that God's Holy Spirit of Truth and Wisdom teaches us and allows us to teach each other. Because of this daily meditation of scripture, we can see lessons in every day life, things like cars.  

I hope this silly story inspires you to learn more about the way our hearts and minds and actions work. I hope it encourages you to search out the scriptures for lessons. Even if it doesn't, I hope it at least has entertained you. Because the things we read and listen to are like the stereo system in our cars. What we listen to becomes what we think about and what we act on. My prayer is that what you listen to and think about and act on will be the Word of God. 

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Holocaust Pennies Project by Diane McNeil

Two Horn Lake Middle School teachers and I have been working for the past nearly five years on the Holocaust Pennies Project. The last few months have seen it go from a struggling fledgling to an eyebrow-raising, legitimate contender. We have become a non-profit through the Community Foundation of NW Mississippi, have our own Board, and have a world-class schematic sketch of the Unknown Child Holocaust Park created by Doug Thornton, a talented local architect.

For an overview of this project, please click the link below and watch the short video (on the left-hand side of the page). I think you'll be inspired. 

Southgroup Insurance Agency in Southaven is hosting a breakfast at the Landers Center on Monday morning, June 9th from 7:30-9:00 to unveil the plans to the community. Earl Cox, Goodwill Ambassador to Israel, appointed by Benjamin Netanyahu, will be in town for the event, as will Rick Wienecke, our commissioned sculptor from Israel. Both gentlemen will speak at the breakfast.
This may be one of the biggest things Desoto County has seen in a long time, and I'm writing to ask you to please come if at all possible and see these plans unveiled to the community for the very first time. Tickets are $30 each, or a table for $240, and every cent goes toward the building of this permanent Holocaust memorial in Desoto County.

And, if you know of anyone else who might be interested, please feel free to share this with them.

Hope to see you there. 

Monday, June 2, 2014

Summer Bible Study

Remember, Ladies, Summer Bible Study starts next Monday night, June 9, at 6:15 in Fellowship Hall. We'll be doing Beth Moore's Sacred Secrets. God's Word plus dessert, coffee, and fellowship. Who could ask for more?

I know that some of you have super busy summer schedules and planning another night out just isn't possible. But you know you should be and want to be in the Word. So here's another option for summer Bible study that you can do on your own time. 

Word for the Week

Then the word of the Lord came to Elijah: "Leave here, turn eastward and hide in the Kerith Ravine, east of Jordan. You will drink from the brook, and I have ordered the ravens to feed you there." I Kings 17:2-4

Some time later the brook dried up. I Kings 17:7

What do we do when we think God has provided for us, met our needs, and even blessed us...but then the brook dries up? Do we wonder if God still loves us or is mad at us or has forgotten us? Do we get angry that things are different now? Less comfortable? Hard even?

It might be good to remember several things:

1) God is sovereign - "Whatever the Lord pleases, he does, in heaven and on earth, in the seas and in all deeps." Psalm 135:6 

2) God loves us and has a purpose for us - "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11

3) We get comfortable, maybe even complacent, and would never change or leave our comfort zone. God has to literally change our circumstances in order to get us to move on to do His will. (Think Abraham who had no clue where he was going. Or Saul who was struck blind on the road to Damascus. Or Joseph who was sold into slavery but would one day become 2nd in command in a foreign nation. Or Esther who would save her people.)

If your brook has dried up, remember that if you belong to God, all things must come through His hands to reach you. Remain faithful, prayerful, and vigilant to see what God's next plans and purposes for you are.