Thursday, July 14, 2016

Going on An Adventure


Emily and I are leaving the house at 5 a.m. tomorrow and headed off to Adventure Learning Center in the Bahamas.  We will be there for ten days, serving the people of the Bahamas and sharing the love of Christ.  Whenever I tell people we are going to the Bahamas, I get a smile and a comment, "Suffering for Jesus on the beach?"  However, contrary to popular opinion, we will be working that entire time and only one day spent at the beach.

Emily will be working with the children in their summer camp program which runs from 8:30-4:30 each day.  I will be cooking for the various groups that are there serving during that time.  It's a different sort of an adventure, but one that we have been anticipating for a while.

As I was thinking about this trip, there are a few things that I would like to see occur.

1.  For Emily to see a broader view of the world outside of her little corner of New York state.  This is the first time she will have ever traveled outside the U.S. and while it's not that far away, it's still a different experience.  I love her heart for people of other cultures and races so I want this to solidify that.

2.  The opportunity for me to encourage some of the ladies who are working at this center.  One of them has been sent out from our district and as we were chatting one day, I discovered that she and her husband worked with my aunt and uncle years ago.  What a small world!  Anyway, they are working long hours in tropical heat and need a bit of encouraging.

3.  A time of bonding with my daughter.  So often, I feel like I'm in Mom "drill-sergeant" mode.  I want us to be drawn closer together through this experience.  I want it to be a time where I can listen to my daughter share her heart without feeling like I need to correct things all the time.  My bad habits need to be broken! ;-)

4.  For Emily to hear from the Lord and get some direction from Him to the path she should take after high school. 

There are many other things floating around my brain too, but these are the primary ones.  I'd appreciate prayers over the next ten days for travel safety, tolerance of the heat and humidity and that some of these things would happen.  Also, prayers that Emily's allergies will be okay.  She does not do well in the sun so I'm praying for her during this time.  She is deathly allergic to peanut butter and stops breathing if she even touches it.  We discovered that is primarily what the children in the camp eat each day so she's more than a little worried.  Please pray for God's protection over her. 

And on a silly note, I am petrified of spiders so I would really appreciate it if the Lord would allow those tarantulas and larger spiders to stay away until we come back home! :-)

We are off on an adventure and praying the Lord will bless it!

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Wednesday Words of Encouragement

Romans 12:17-21 ~

Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," says the Lord.

On the contrary:
"If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head."

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.


So many times in my life, I've been hurt by mean-spirited people. They are intent on hurting those around them. I'm sure many of you can say the same. There have been times when we are a target because we are trying to live out our faith and often that goes against the grain.

The human reaction when someone hurts us is to protect ourselves. We are either inclined to defend ourselves by gossiping about them, repay their unkindness with an equally unkind reaction, or to give them the cold shoulder.

Yet, this passage in Romans tells us to do the opposite. We are to do the unthinkable: repay evil with good. Be kind when others are unkind. Be at peace with those who are not easy to deal with. Reach out to them in love. When we do this, we are shining our light in the midst of a dark world.

If you are facing a situation where you are being harassed by others for your faith, then it is your responsibility to show them what the love of God looks like. It is a difficult thing to do. Yet, when we do this we may be the very person who shows them what a Christian truly is.

I love the last verse. It is so easy to feel overcome and discouraged when we are in the midst of this situation. We can feel defeated and depressed. Yet, Paul is telling us not to be overwhelmed by the evil around us. We are to chip away at the evil in the world by our good deeds.

So be encouraged today. Overcome the evil around you and point others to Christ through your kindness and peaceable nature.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Fruit Salad


I love fruit!  Often I will combine different fruits and make a big fruit salad.  I will eat some of that for all three meals.  It's refreshing and low calorie.  Fruit is good for you!

Which is why I love the verses in Galatians that talks about the fruit of the Spirit.  It's good for you, as well as those around us when we exemplify them.

Galatians 5:22-23 (HCSB) ~

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law.

Unfortunately, the place I seem to struggle with this the most is with my own family.  It's easy to show fruit to those outside my four walls, but I often seem to forget to dish out a serving of fruit at home. 

I'm working on showing love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, and self-control to my husband and children.  The thing about living by the fruit of the Spirit is that the more the fruit flows out of me at home, the more my family begins to reflect that fruit too.

I don't want to show just one type of fruit either.  I want to be a big fruit salad!  That will happen with prayer, practice, and persistence.

Have you had your fruit today?

Monday, July 11, 2016

Impossible?


Overwhelming circumstances.  Financial disaster.  Illness.  Children who make bad decisions.  A broken relationship.  Lack of employment.  And a host of other problems.

We look at these things, get knots in our stomach and wring our hands.  How in the world will it ever work out?  How can we possibly see the light at the end of the tunnel when we are surrounded by darkness?  Where is the hope?

Yet, God reminds us of who He really is in these verses.

Jeremiah 32:26-27 (NIV) ~

Then the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah: “I am the Lord, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me?

I need a reminder from time to time and I'm sure you do too.  The Lord of all the universe can do all things, even change our impossibility into a possibility.  We just have to trust.  We need to walk in His ways.  We need to cling to Him.  We need to step out in faith.

When my children were little they sometimes would say, "I can't do it."  "It's too hard."  And then I would encourage them to keep trying.  When we cry out, "I can't."  "It's too difficult." God reminds us that we can with His help and strength.

So fix your eyes on Him today.  Nothing is impossible with God!

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Take Notice


As we barrel through our days, we often forget to stop and take a look around us.  There is beauty everywhere we go but it often gets missed because we are so busy.


On this Sabbath day make sure you...

Slow down.

Take a deep breath.

Look around.

Drink in the beauty.

Live in the moment.

Intentionally look for beauty.

Hug a family member.

Thank God.



Saturday, July 9, 2016

Misfit


All of my life I've struggled with the following feelings:

I'm a misfit. 
I don't belong. 
I'm different. 
I'm not part of the popular crowd. 
I'm not good enough.

For the most part I've overcome those feelings, but from time to time they rise up inside of me again.

I felt that way when I went to college and then on to seminary and many of the students were from families with a long heritage in our denomination.  There seemed to be this club where if you had the right name, you were accepted.  I came from a single parent home, was unknown and to be honest, felt "not good enough."

I went on to work for an inner city ministry and those feelings dissipated.  For much of our church ministry they have been silent.   This past week they rose again.  As we spent the week at our district's family camp they were so loud that I could barely think.  As I saw people who have grown up going to this camp get together, the thoughts and feelings chattered at me.  I saw the comradery and fellowship they had and felt like was on the outside, looking in.

Quite a few times I heard pastors of larger churches being held up as the ones on the cutting edge of ministry.  During those times, I felt that feeling of dejection and that inner voice, "You and Dan are meaningless."  "Small church pastors don't count." 

As people nodded to me only to talk animatedly with the person beside me, I realized that those feelings I thought were long gone were still there.  And I don't like that feeling.

But then the Lord reminded me that my life is not about me.  It's not about receiving recognition, accolades and praise.  It's about serving Him.  And He reminded me of the verses that I claimed long ago as my life verses and asked me the following question.  "Can you continue to serve me even if no one notices?"   "Even if you are snubbed and ignored?"  "Can you do my will even if you are alone?"

And my answer is, "Yes!"  That has always been my desire and I do believe that He reminds me of that from time to time.  I may be a misfit in the world's eyes but in His eyes I am His daughter and He loves me.  That should be enough.

Philippians 2:3-8 (HCSB) ~

Do nothing out of rivalry or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves. Everyone should look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.

Make your own attitude that of Christ Jesus,
who, existing in the form of God,
did not consider equality with God
as something to be used for His own advantage.
Instead He emptied Himself
by assuming the form of a slave,
taking on the likeness of men.
And when He had come as a man
in His external form,
He humbled Himself by becoming obedient
to the point of death—
even to death on a cross.


Friday, July 1, 2016

Frugal Friday


I haven't done a Frugal Friday post in a while, and thought I was due.  One of the things I've learned is to appreciate the small things in my life.  Dan & I live simply.  We have a small house.  We can't afford fancy vacations.  We don't have a lot of toys.  But we enjoy our lives.

We've learned out to have fun on a shoestring budget.  We've celebrated big events simply ,but with joy.  We've made due with what we have.  And it sets the tone to truly appreciate the small things. 

Some frugalness this past week:

$ For our anniversary, I packed a picnic dinner and we headed to the lake.  We found a quiet spot off the beaten path.  I brought a folding table, camping chairs, tablecloth, china and stemware and cloth napkins.  We had salad, fresh mozzarella with tomato and basil, shrimp, sour dough bread, olives, and apricots.  I picked up two pastries at a local bakery and we had sparkling water with fresh lemon.  It was perfect!  The best part was there turned out to be a wedding ceremony there and we could hear chamber music wafting through the air.




$ Dan and the boys have started climbing the high peaks of the Adirondacks.  There are 46 of them and their goal is to climb all 46.  Some take up to 10 hours to climb in and out and so far they have done 9 peaks since last year.  The only cost is gas to get there and the food they pack.  They get a fantastic view and a sense of accomplishment!


$ Dan's Father's Day gift was a pie of the month certificate.  It was a frugal gift but since I truly hate making pies, it's a gift of love that keeps giving all year because he loves pie!  This month was strawberry-rhubarb.


$ I wanted to make barbecue chicken for dinner last night so whipped up my own barbecue sauce.  It used simple ingredients and took 20 minutes start to finish.  Delicious!


$ We wanted to take the teens at church on an outing and we went last night.  We found a place where they could ride go-karts and play mini-golf.  For $11 they rode the karts for about 20 minutes and played 18 holes of mini-golf.  That was a wonderful deal.  We paid for the ice cream and for 5 teens who ordered things like hot fudge sundaes and shakes it only came to $16.  That was a very frugal way to have a night of fun! 





Our denomination's northeastern district has a campground with dorms, tent sites, cabins and cottages on a lake.  We are headed there this weekend for a week of family camp.  From Tuesday afternoon on we will be staying in a cottage with a kitchen so I'll bring food to cook.  I'm so looking forward to it as we'll get to fellowship with friends from around our district, hear great speakers, have fun on a lake and just enjoy some peace and relaxation for very little money.

Fun does not have to equal expensive.  Learn to expect nothing and appreciate everything!