I press on towards the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:14

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Family Promise of Gwinnett

If your in the Gwinnett county area there is a wonderful ministry that you and your children can be a part of...Family Promise of Gwinnett. My husband and I attended the volunteer training a few weeks back and we were very impressed with the mission of this organization.

Here's the basics of the program:
Family Promise brings shelter, meals and support to families without homes through a network of church congregations. The congregations host families(5-6 families) for a week and provides lodging, three meals a day and caring hospitality 3-4 times a year.

During the day, guest families (as they are called) use a local day center to purse employment, care for preschool children, shower and do laundry. The day center is located on Sugarloaf Parkway in Lawrenceville.

The guest families stay in the program for up to 90 days.

Family Promise desires to end homelessness one family at a time.

How can you and your family be involved?
Serve at a nearby host church by providing a meal, playing with the kids, helping set-up etc.

Our family will be serving on New Year's day here in Lawrenceville. We plan on playing with the children of the guests! We are bringing our Lego's.

Family Promise encourages the whole family to serve together. If you haven't noticed yet they only serve families. The guests must have at least one child to enter the program.

If you would like more info go to the Family Promise website or contact me.

Monday, November 22, 2010

One Thing Leads to Another-Fundraising-Guatemala

The holidays are approaching quickly which leads to a new year. A new year leads to my thoughts and the reality that we are planning to take a missions trip to Guatemala in 2011. Since we are planning a missions trip~ we are actively and creatively coming up with ways to raise the money it will take to serve in Guatemala.

Here are a few things we have been doing:
  • Collecting all of our pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters in a container that sits on our kitchen counter. We have a can for dollar bills too.
  • Collecting aluminum cans and recycling for .60 cents a pound. This will raise the money for meals most likely. Every little bit helps. You can help with this too!
  • Yard Sale- We had a yard sale a few weeks back and will have another one in the Spring.
  • Creating bottle cap necklaces that we will be selling for $5.00 each. More info to come.
Other Fundraising plans for 2011:
  • Spring Yard Sale~ If you have items you would like to donate let me know.
  • Lego Contest and Party for local homeschool kids! We did this a couple of years ago and it was a huge success. All the entry fees received will go towards the missions trip. Dates and details to follow.
  • Cupcake class ~ All registration fees will go towards the missions trip.
  • T-Shirts~ Awesome t-shirt designs for all ages to benefit the Guatemalan missions trip!
As you can see we are going to busy in the coming year. We are looking forward to how God will work in us as a family through it all! One thing leads to another...God is always working!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Orphan Sunday

Hope is Fading – Orphan Sunday from Allan Rosenow on Vimeo.

What is Orphan Sunday?

On Orphan Sunday, Christians stand for the orphan . We are a people called to defend the fatherless…to care for the child that has no family…to visit orphans in their distress.

From many sources, one voice. Hundreds of events across America and beyond, all sharing a single goal: that God’s great love for the orphan will find echo in our lives as well.

Each as they are led. Sermons and small groups, concerts and prayer gatherings—each rousing believers with God’s call to care for the orphan…and what we can do in response.

Orphan Sunday is your opportunity to rouse church, community and friends to God’s call to care for the orphan. (Taken from My Crazy Adoption)

Monday, November 1, 2010

(Part 2 of First Things First) An Amazing God

God is Holy. God is eternal. God is all-knowing. God is all-powerful. God is fair and just. God is Love.

So, I left off with a question- How Big is Your God? Here are some attributes of God to have a better understanding of the God we serve.

God is Holy~ A lot of people would say whatever you believe about God is fine as long as you are sincere. But that is comparable to describing a friend in one instance as a 6 ft. Japanese Sumo wrestler and in another instance as a 5-ft 2 in. gymnast. No matter how sincere you are in your explanations, both descriptions of your friend can not be true.

We have to have a standard to live by.

To say that God is Holy is to say He is set-apart, distinct from us… His perfect Holiness, assures us that we cannot contain Him.

Isn’t it comforting to worship a God we cannot exaggerate?

Revelation 4:8 “…Day and night they never stop saying: "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come."

God is eternal~ There is no way for us to ever grasp this concept ~Eternal. Not being able to fully understand God is frustrating, at times, but it is ridiculous for us to think we have the right to limit God to something that we are capable of comprehending. He created us. We didn’t create Him.

Psalm 102:12, 27.”But you, O Lord, sit enthroned forever; your renown endures through all generations…But you remain the same, and your years will never end.”

God is all-knowing~ Isn’t this an intimidating thought? All-knowing. We forget this when we “hide” our sins from God.

Hebrews 4:13 says~ “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.”

Now, I am one of these people and I hope you are to that I believe what the Bible says for what it says. We can dress up sometimes by calling our manipulation ~ “encouragement” or our gossip “sharing a prayer request”. We have all done it.

All knowing~ This can be a scary knowledge but it also can be comforting. There is not a problem or struggle that He doesn’t know about.

God is all-powerful~ Colossians 1:16 tells us that everything was created for God: “For by Him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by Him and for Him.

Here are some questions I want you to ask yourself:

Can you worship a God who isn’t obligated to explain His actions to you? He is all-powerful

Could it be your pride or arrogance that makes you think God owes you an explanation?

God is Fair & Just~ God is the only being that is truly good so the standard is up to Him…The creator.

You may not think the standard is very appealing. But to put it bluntly, when you get your own universe, you can make your own standards. When we disagree with God let’s not assume it’s His reasoning that needs correction. It takes a lot for us to comprehend God’s hatred for sin. For instance let’s take pride. Yeah, we would all agree it is sin but we say…”We all struggle with pride. It’s human nature. It’s just life.”

God’s Word says in Proverbs 8:13, “I hate pride and arrogance.”

God never excuses sin. And He is always consistent with that ethic. There are consequences to it.

God is Love.~ I’ll post about this attribute next time. We could feel defeated if we didn’t have love. He is Love or we would be a hopeless human race.

Monday, October 25, 2010

(Part 1 of First Things First) - An Amazing God

This year I have had the privilege of speaking at two different women’s retreats.
I am not a natural "speaker". Nonetheless, the Holy Spirit has been leading me to share with other women the truths of God’s Word.
I will post over the next few weeks what I have been sharing as a foundation for our walk in Christ. The posts may seem a bit choppy because I am typing them from my notes.

Focal Scripture:
Matt. 6:33- “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”
Matthew 22:36-38 – “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" Jesus replied: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment.”

Watch the video before you read any further…please.

Taken from Crazy Love by Francis Chan

Speechless? Amazed? Humbled?

When I first watched those images I was completely humbled to the point I said to myself …”Who do I think I am?”

It’s wild to think that most of these galaxies have been discovered only in the past few years. They’ve been in the universe for thousands of years without humans even knowing about them. They were not created for us. They were created for God’s glory.

R.C. Sproul writes, “Men are never duly touched and impressed with a conviction of their insignificance until they have contrasted themselves with the majesty of God.”

Have you ever thought about how diverse and creative God is?

He didn’t have to put 3,000 different species of trees within one square mile in the Amazon jungle, but He did. How about the way plants defy gravity by drawing water upward from the ground into their stems and veins? Did you know that when you get goose bumps, the hair in your follicles is actually helping you stay warmer by trapping body heat? I could go on and on and have a science class but I will stop with those very few examples.

Whatever God’s reason for such diversity, creativity and sophistication in the universe, on earth and in our own bodies, the point of it all is HIS glory not ours. He didn’t even really create it for us. We are privileged enough to be a part of it.

“The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.

2 Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they display knowledge.

3 There is no speech or language
where their voice is not heard.

4 Their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.
In the heavens he has pitched a tent for the sun,”

No matter how many pictures we see of His glory in the galaxies and His creation... No matter how many sunsets we see... We still forget. How awe struck we should be of the Creator. We are suffering from amnesia: loss of a large block of interrelated memories; complete or partial loss of memory.

I need to let you know of a spiritual amnesia that is going around and none of us are immune to it and it is caused by our own human and sinful nature and the enemy.

Most of us know that we should to love and fear God; that we should read our Bibles and pray so that we can get to know Him better; that we should worship Him with our lives. But actually living it out is challenging. I think the biggest problem is not remembering whose we are.

This is where keeping First Things First comes into play. I am convinced only because it is in God’s Word that if we focus on the First Things in God’s Word will we truly experience all God has for us.

You know what? It is hard to keep that in focus. It confuses us when loving God is hard. Shouldn’t it be easy to love a God so wonderful? When we love God because we feel we should love Him, instead of genuinely loving Him out of our true selves, we have forgotten who God really is. Our amnesia is flaring up again and we need a cure.

We have to intentionally and consistently remind ourselves of Him.

We are programmed to focus on what we don’t have, instead of being content with what we do have. We are bombarded multiple times throughout the day with what we need to buy that will make us feel happier or more at peace. This dissatisfaction transfers over to our thinking about God. If we are a follower of Christ and have accepted Him as our Lord and Savior then we already have everything we need in Him. We just forget that.

We absolutely must entertain the magnitude of God’s grandness and greatness on a regularly basis because it will fuel how we act, speak and respond to the ones around us and to Him.

The first question to ask is...How Big is God to me?

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Sacred Decorum (Part 2)

In the previous post Leslie Ludy described what I have heard a lot lately. It may have been described under different circumstances but the underlying dilemma was the same.

The reason for our dilemma is, “But we don’t abide with Him moment by moment throughout the day.”

Most of us are familiar with the word “abide” but I thought it was interesting to look at the actual definitions to get a better understanding.

Abide: (1) to wait for (2) to endure without yielding (3) to accept without objection

Wow! To accept without objection.

We must read His Word and do what it says to have the kind of abiding that is defined!

Each of us will have moments or days that we complain about how far away God is but in all truthfulness He is not far from anyone who actually seeks Him.

Acts 17: 24-27 The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. From one man he made every nation of men,that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us.

One more excerpt from Set-Apart Femininity~

There is a sacred decorum of set-apart femininity, a pattern for daily living that marks a young woman as a true daughter of the King. When it comes to our clothes, words, actions, thoughts pastimes, and pursuits, we must be, as Amy Carmichael put it, “dead to the world and its applause, to all the customs, fashions and laws of those who hate the humble Cross.” We must be consumed with honoring Christ far above meeting our own selfish desires. Not out of duty, but out of delight. Loving Him with such ardor that we relish the opportunity to lay everything we possess at His feet.

Sacred Decorum (Part 1)

This post is an excerpt taken from Set-Apart Femininity by Leslie Ludy

She said it better than I could.

Last week I opened a letter from a distressed college student named Jennifer. “I just can’t seem to have intimacy with Jesus in the beautiful way you describe it in your books,” she wrote. “I’m sick of living this half-Christian, half-worldly life. I go around saying that I am a Christian, but my Christianity is not based on a passionate relationship with Jesus. I want to find Him, but I don’t know how.”

How many countless thousands of young women echo Jennifer’s despair? Our Christianity is based upon an idea of who Christ is, not upon an actual, personal experience with Christ. We may have moments of intimacy with Christ-like during a worship service or reading an inspiring Christian book. But we don’t abide with Him moment by moment throughout the day. We don’t even know how. And if we were totally honest, we’d admit that we often feel frustrated with God because He makes Himself so distant. We pray, and He seems not to hear us. We read the Bible, and it is just a blur of spiritual-sounding words. Why, we wonder, does He make being a Christian so difficult? If He really wants a relationship with us, why is He so hard to access?

Christ Himself gave us the answer. “He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him” (John 14:21).

Jesus Christ reveals Himself to those who follow in His steps. He draws near to those who build their entire lives around His pattern. If we feel far away from Him, it is very likely that we aren’t truly building our entire existence around Him; that we are living far more for self than for the glory of His name.

Follow up post to come….

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Meander, No More!

Over the past few months I have picked up a new habit. Thankfully it is a habit for my good. I have started running. I do mean physically running. That may shock some of you who know me. It has not been easy especially when I first started. I literally thought I would pass out after running a minute and a half. Thankfully, I didn’t stop that first day out. I saw some results with my endurance and energy level fairly quickly. Since that time, I finished my first 5K race and I plan to continue running even more.

I wanted to write about something that happened during the 5K race and maybe you can relate even if you are not a runner. The race started later than anticipated because the police who would direct traffic had not arrived on time. I was already nervous and that just prolonged it. All of the runners and walkers had some extra time to stretch and warm-up so I guess that made up for it. Once the police arrived we were off. I was in the back of the pack. I started with my running and continued to follow the path laid before me. There were a few more hills than I had anticipated but I pressed on. As I came running towards the finish line I saw my husband and kids waving and cheering for me. I was really surprised once I saw I had made it with relative ease. I even questioned if it was really the finish line. I ran through it and finished in great time.

Now I need to share the outcome of the 5K. Once all the runners crossed the finished line we were all told over the speaker that the race had been a ½ mile short of a full 5K. The lead runners had turned down a wrong path and guess what the rest of us did? Followed.

I was disappointed but I didn’t ask if I could run an additional ½ mile to make up for it.

God’s Word is full of many, many verses about “running the race” While they are all wonderful the Holy Spirit prompted me to write about Hebrews 11:39-12:2: And all these, having gained approval through their faith, did not receive what was promised, 40 because God had provided something better for us, so that apart from us they should not be made perfect. 12:1 Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance, and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

The book of Hebrews was written to a church that was getting old and was settling into the world. They were starting to drift through life without focus, without vigilance, and without energy. Their hands were growing weak, their knees were feeble. It was just easier to meander in the crowd of life than to run the marathon. Chapters 2 through 5 speak repeatedly about the coasting mode the believers had settled into.

When the book of Hebrews approaches chapter 12 it is clear what the writer is saying, RUN!

Run the race set before you! The path is laid out. Don't stroll, don't meander, don't wander about aimlessly. Run as in a race with a finish line and with everything hanging on it.

Hebrews 12:1: “Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance, and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,”

This is a command to look at your life, think hard about what you are doing, and get ruthless about what stays and what goes. Do not be easily led down a path that turns your heart toward the things of the world.

As a follower of Christ, we must seek hard after Him! We are not to be lackadaisical in our walk or should I say run with the Creator and Savior of the world. He will not lead you down the wrong path. You will finish the race!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

What breaks your heart?

Just to see their big brown eyes causes me to laugh out loud from the sheer beauty of their faces. Honestly, I have seen so few with frowns on their faces that it is hard to believe they live in the environment they do. I am referring to the multiple pictures I have seen in recent weeks. They are the real faces of Guatemalan children and families.

Most people do not know of the poverty found in this small Central American country of Guatemala. Personally, I would have never known except for the life altering decision my husband and I made seven years ago. We prayerfully and joyfully adopted our youngest son from Guatemala. Actually, October fourteenth will be the anniversary of when we first held him in our arms. I could go on and on about that encounter but I have another purpose for writing.

Recently, I have been led by the Holy Spirit and His Word (Matthew 25:31-46) to pursue ways that our family can be involved in the lives of other children. God has directed us back to Guatemala. I began to pray intentionally and seek out ways for our family to help with this overwhelming need. As I prayed and searched guess what happened? We found a way to help.

There is no question God wants His children to take care of others. He assigns his people in different places. I love that. One way we plan to help is through a ministry in Guatemala called Orphan’s Heart. They are caring for children in a real way at the Guatemalan Malnutrition Center. We hope to go on a mission trip to minister to the children there. In the meantime, we are going to raise money for diapers! They go through approximately 300-400 diapers a day!

In my searching, I was brought to tears by a book called, A Hole in Our Gospel by Richard Stearns (The President of World Vision). I had not experienced a conviction of that kind in a long time! It was overwhelming and overflowing. My husband and kids appeared concerned since I was practically sobbing as I read excerpts from the book during one of our morning devotionals. I assured them I would be OK. If God is directing you and/or your family to have an impact in another country I urge you to read this book.

The clincher for me (and my husband) was a blog post I read on the site A Holy Experience by Ann Voskamp. Mike and I both read it and viewed the pictures. THAT WAS IT FOR US!

There are many things throughout my daily life that can break my heart... When my kids argue with each other or when my husband and I argue. The sin in my life that I thought I released is a heart breaker as well. Other issues in the vast world can break my heart because I do not feel equipped to have an impact. Nonetheless, I am encouraged on to a point that I cannot resist any longer. The pain, the pictures, the possibilities are enough for me to move out of my small world. It would break my heart not too.

What breaks your heart?

If you are interested in a mission trip or more information on ways to help in Guatemala please let me know. If you are searching for what God is calling you to do in the larger world check out these websites- World Vision and Orphan’s Heart for many opportunities and ideas. Be ready for the Holy Spirit to lead you forward.

Below are a few statistics on Guatemala:
Guatemala has the highest illiteracy rate in Central America. Eight out of every ten children are undernourished.
Today, 56 percent of Guatemalans live below the poverty line and 32 percent live on less than $2 a day. In rural areas, 78 percent of indigenous children under the age of 18 live in poverty. Guatemala has one of the highest income inequities in the world. The wealthiest 20 percent of the population receives 61 percent of the nation’s income, while the poorest 20 percent receives only 4 percent. (Taken from the World Vision website)

Friday, September 24, 2010

Lead Me

If you are reading this blog I would guess you are a woman. Did I get it right? I thought so. I say that because this post is about husbands and fathers. Don’t stop reading…please. It will still apply to you too. I recently purchased a CD and heard the song "Lead Me" and then shared it with Mike (my husband). Unfortunately, we both thought it described many Christian families in our world today. Simply put- It is about husbands and fathers leading their families.
Go to the Sanctus Real website to hear the full song. Watch the video below to hear the story behind the song.

The Story Behind "Lead Me" - Sanctus Real from BrightBulb Entertainment on Vimeo.

Fear (originally written in 2009)

Fear is such a relative emotion. What one person is afraid of may not even cross the mind of someone else. Also, depending on a person’s experience and environment fear can be different for each individual. On top of that, the deceiver (Satan) can lead individuals to fear something that can trap and enslave them.

Mike asked a question the other day of each of our kids… What are you afraid of?

We had a range of answers:

Ethan: I am afraid I could break my foot. (The “smart” answer since he had recently broken his foot.)

Rebecca: I am afraid of dying.

Sarah: I am afraid of lightning and having a baby.

Anderson: I am afraid of getting lost in Goodwill. Yes, that is what he said.

At first, I thought, “How cute?” Then I thought, “How real?”, “How honest?”

We don’t always grasp the truth that God has for us concerning fear. We also are unaware of the enemy trying to trip us up with fear. As a grown-up, I find it so funny how my fears are really no different than a child’s fears. We want to be well liked so we are people pleasers and avoid conflict. We would sometimes cover our fears with words like… “I am just being careful” when it is actually fear. God has called us out of our comforts to a life of trust. So, I speak to myself by saying, “God, I trust you know matter what.” I just need to take my fears to Him. He knows exactly what to do with them.

I Peter 3:13-15- “Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. ‘Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened.’ But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.”