Thursday, September 29, 2011

God Needs YOU!!!

"Most believers are convinced that it is the pastor's responsibility to bring people into the church as well as into the kingdom of God. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Scripture is clear on this point. Pastors were given by God to the church to equip the people to do the work....Sermons are not God's primary method for reaching people. People are His method for reaching people. What kind of people? Men and women whose lives and life-styles have been deeply affected by the truths of Scripture, people who have discovered the wonderful Spirit-filled life.

God is looking for imperfect men and women who have learned to walk in moment-by-moment dependence on the Holy Spirit. Christians who have come to terms with their inadequacies, fears, and failures. Believers who have become discontent with "surviving" and have taken the time to investigate everything God has to offer in this life.

God's method for reaching this generation and every generation, is not preachers and sermons. It is Christians whose life-styles are empowered and directed by the Holy Spirit. People are the key to reaching people!"

Taken from "The Wonderful Spirit-filled Life" by Charles Stanley

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Well Done, Pastor Steve

Early Saturday morning our beloved Pastor Steve was ushered into heaven. After battling colon cancer for two and a half years, he is at peace and his body is completely healed. It is bittersweet as we know his family will miss this goofy, lovable man so much, yet, we all hated to see him suffer.

Pastor Steve was unpretentious and completely humble. Our church needed this desperately. He taught us how to love one another, to avoid vain and foolish arguments. He had endless football stories that he used as analogies that were lost on me (I hate football), but I'm sure every guy in that room could relate. He loved God, his family, skiing and French fries.

The night he died was strange. We knew that it would be within 12-24 hours. I heard a bump and woke up with a start 12:00 a.m. I started praying, but felt something dark. I kept praying and asking God if there was something specific that He wanted me to pray. I finally gave up and asked the Holy Spirit to pray with words and groanings that I couldn't express. I had a vision of a dozen angels hovering in the room with Pastor Steve. There was something dark and menacing in there as I sensed there was a spiritual battle going on. I knew that the enemy was angry at this servant of God. Pastor Steve had done well. He hadn't forsaken his faith throughout his illness. He grew stronger in the Lord. He became a living, breathing testimony for us. Those angels where just hovering though as if to say, "Come on, come on, we can't wait to usher you into heaven!" They were so excited!

Finally, about 3:00 p.m. I had peace again. I was able to go back to sleep. Later that morning we found out that God took him home around 2:30 that morning. Oh my, the fact that He chose me to pray for this family during the night (as I'm sure many others were) humbled me and astounded me at the same time. I will be forever grateful to be able to pray for Pastor Steve and his family at that time.

"O Grave, where is your victory? O Death, where is your sting?"

You have not won! You have lost. Pastor Steve is dancing in the streets and singing (something he always wished he could do) with a heavenly choir. He loved music!

You did it, Pastor Steve. You finished well. We watched and learned from you. We will never be the same.

You just have heaven before we do.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Doing What We Ought to Do

Martha Pierce says in "An Excellent Wife"...

"God wants us to stop living for ourselves, to stop destroying relationships and to start living for Him. Paul wrote to the church in Corinth saying '...that they who live should no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf'-II Corinthians 5:15.

It is easy to live for yourself, but ultimately unfulfilling and empty. You may be thinking, 'I'm willing to work at having a close relationship with my husband, but he is not.'  If he is unwilling to communicate or is cruel and yet you respond in a godly manner, you will be suffering for righteousness sake and God will meet your needs. God is the one to look to.

As you look to God and desire to have a normal relationship with your husband, you must become like and act like Jesus. In order to be like Christ, you must think as well as act like Christ. To accomplish this goal, your motivation must change from 'What can I get out of this?' to 'What can I give?' Hence you should expect no thanks or recognition. You are just doing your minimal duty to God. Jesus compared us to the slave who was only doing what he ought:

"So you too, when you do all the things which are commanded you, say 'we are unworthy slaves; we have done only that which we ought to have done." -Luke 17:10

Giving of yourself to your husband is not going above and beyond the call of duty. it is only doing as you ought. You out to be kind to your husband. You ought to be open, transparent, and honest with him. Your words are to be edifying. Your tasks sacrificial. Your motive is for the glory of God."
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Those are some very challenging words for me. Lately, I have been wanting recognition. I want to be told that I am doing a good job. I have even told him such. But my husband views it differently. He feels that it is an insecurity in me that needs that affirmation. I believe it is a need for encouragement. So what do you do with that?

Well, you do what this says to do. You move on and you let God fill you up. You measure what you are doing against God and look for His approval, not my husband's, not my family, nor my friends.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

My Psalm

I haven't posted this until now, because I'm still working through it. Ever since starting our homeschool up at the beginning of September, I have never felt so overwhelmed. I enjoyed my summer break so much, but now getting back into the groove seems harder than ever.

I am having trouble staying focused. I have never been more tempted to put my kids in school. I loved having all that free time. I loved spending time playing with the kids. Now it feels like I am back to square one as far as disciplining for attitudes and such.

I find that I am feeling sorry for myself a LOT. I guess I am in some sort of funk. What is weird, is that the kids haven't had worse attitudes than they ever have had when it come to their schoolwork. But it does seem that every child is going through some sort of "stage". Name-calling seems to be the big thing right now. "Liar", "Meany", "Brat", "Tattle-tale". Jacob is constantly yelling "stop" to everyone in a very loud, whiny voice.

God is getting my attention. As I am in this struggle of feeling like I am failing from the very second I wake up, He is there, trying to get to me to see the wonderful blessings of raising children for Him.

The more I come to the end of myself, the more I realize that I cannot raise these children by myself. I can't make them have good attitudes or get along or to even love each other. I can't make them make good decisions. I can encourage those things, but I can't make it happen.

Only God can do it. Only God can give me wisdom and the strength that I need. Only God can give me the perspective that I need, a holy one, a truthful one.

I couldn't stop sobbing as I read "The End of the Spear" by Steve Saint. The part when his precious, only daughter died at age 23 when her brain vessel blew unexpectedly. It was gut-wrenching. A parent's worst nightmare. Why then, do I struggle so much with such little things, when people are going through big things? What if something big where to happen? Why can't I be content and joyful when I have such small, tiny problems?

The answer is this. I am ungrateful. I am focused on the wrong things. I am focused on the weeds in my children's lives, instead of the flowers. I HAVE to change my focus. I have to start getting my joy back.

I feel like this post is sort of a Psalm.

It starts off with the bad, the honesty of what I am feeling, but by the end of it, I realize that my hope does come from the Maker of Heaven and earth.

Make me grateful, God! Make me a lover of You! Make me see the good things that are around me!

I love you, Lord and my hope is in You all day long.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Civil War Camp-2011

 We were blessed to be able to get a bunkhouse at a nearby military camp called Camp Rilea. Super-cheap and way better than a tent! There is a lot of cleaning involved, so we put Josh to work sweeping the floor. He was thrilled! LOL!
 It's a big room with a two-stalled shower and two toilets. Perfect for a large family!
 I caught Josiah and Andrew walking away with their guns...
 and a big, buddy hug! So cute!
 I know that this dress is a colonial dress, but it was all we had. I bought a bonnet and a little purse for her. She loved dressing up, which kind of surprised me.
 Jess, Jackie and I were drooling over the dresses. I had never seen such a selection in the "stores". The business must be booming! Jackie got a really good deal on one! I'm sure she will be posting it soon at www.homesteadwannabes.blogspot.com
 I bought Andrew a die cast pistol with some caps. He was in heaven!!!
 More dresses!!! It was pretty warm out. I can't imagine wearing this kind of stuff down in the South.
 One of the Confederates let Andrew hold his "big" rifle. Man, are they heavy!
Here, Josiah got "caught" by a Confederate Soldier. He was wearing the wrong uniform in the wrong camp. It was cute watching this big, boorish soldier come at him. I've never seen him so unsure of himself. He handled it politely though.

Next year, I think we are going to try to make it to the WWII reenactment. We have two boys that are obsessed with WWII! Can't wait to see how they do it.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Fort Steven's Civil War Reenactment-2011

 I was able to take three of the older children with me and go with my sister and her family to the coast this year for the reenactment.
 I LOVE to go to these things. I think this was my fourth time. It is the largest of these events in the Northwest. History is very cool and I love to see how people recreate it. It is very educational and a great "field trip". These soldiers are from the "Highland" unit.
 Here are the Rebels facing the Union Calvary.
 Getting ready to engage.
 A poignant reminder of what the battlefield might have looked like. What a waste of young men.

 I always enjoy watching the armies fire their cannons.
We were blessed to be able to be there the whole day. The weather was terrific! We got to watch both battles. One was a recreation of the battle where the commander Stevens, fell. It was interesting. The flag fell to the ground and you could hear the vets in the audience say, "Get your colors up"!!! My brother-in-law, Michael couldn't stand it any longer as some of the soldiers actually walked over the flag. He got up and SCREAMED it. I was so proud of him. That flag means something to him. He has served over in Iraq and he said that would have never happened.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Marcus Turns 11!!!

 Dear Marcus,

What a year you have had! God has been working in your life as you grow in wisdom and in stature. You quit TKD, but then decided that you really did like it. You have excelled and we anxiously wait for you to do your belt test. I know you will pass with flying colors. You did your first TKD tournament and sparring this year. You did a great job! Even though you didn't win, you learned some valuable life-lessons.
 You are such a good big brother! You are so helpful with the little ones. I love that you can teach them math or phonics while I'm busy working with another child. You are getting proficient in the kitchen as well. Making popcorn, pancakes and such. You are a big help to me when I'm not feeling good. You were also invaluable to me when I had my foot surgery. You tender compassion and mercy helped so much as you helped take over the household chores. I can't thank you enough for that!
You are such a character. Loud, funny and a quick-thinker like your father. You always find the humor in every situation.

More importantly, we can be honest with each other in spiritual matters. You keep me accountable when you see me start to lose it. I love it when you are struggling with something and you ask me to pray for you. I see such spiritual growth in you, Marcus. I don't know many ten-year olds that attempt to do a Beth Moore study. You have said to me this year that you believe God has called you to be a pastor. I can very much see that happened someday in His time. In the meantime, we continue to get "self" out of the way so that we can see God work. I am excited to watch you get baptized next week!

I encourage you to continue to walk in the Spirit, work on your anger and to put things in to perspective when stuff starts to build up. Let us both examine our reactions to different situations and see if they are godly responses.

Thank you, Son, for making me a better Christian. I look forward to growing in the Lord with you this year.

May God's blessing be upon you! Happy Birthday!!!

Love,

Mom

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Pastor Steve Update-It is Well...

This is the latest update on our Dear Pastor Steve, written by his wife.

brief update on Steve:


- nausea is under control at this time

- sleeps 90-95% of the day

- pain is well managed

- becoming more confused and easily becomes anxious

- still has a sense of humor!

- still has that beautiful look of love when I gaze into his eyes!!

- he is very weak; can no longer walk; is able to stand and pivot with help

- LOVES LOVES LOVES popsicles!!

- eating and drinking very little!!

- probably on the "home-stretch" of his live on earth!

- does not want to leave his friends and family, but is ready for the ULTIMATE HEALING!!

- His motto: FOR TO ME TO LIVE IS CHRIST, TO DIE IS GAIN!

Please keep us in your prayers as we help Steve finish strong. There is NO DOUBT in my mind that Steve will hear these precious words from our Father in Heaven, "WELL DONE THOU GOOD AND FAITHFUL SERVANT!"

In the midst of our pain and sorrow, I can say It Is Well With My Soul!

Disclaimer: It is not well with my heart, my mind, my emotions, my security, my hopes, my dreams, my future, my comfort, my experience, my family, my friends, my ANYTHING except my soul.

Thankful for a God who will never leave me or forsake me, and who has promised a place of no more tears, no more sorrow, and no more pain!

Love,

Marilyn

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Unworthy Goal of Raising Well-Behaved Children

Some parents succumb to the pressure to raise well-behaved kids. We help them develop poise. We teach them to converse. We want children who possess social graces. We want them to be able to make guests comfortable. We want them to be able to respond with grace under pressure. We know that these skills are necessary to be successful in our world. It pleases us to see these social graces in our children.

Yet, having well-behaved children is not a worthy goal. It is a great secondary benefit of biblical childrearing, but an unworthy goal in itself.

You cannot response to your children to please someone else. The temptations to do so are numerous. Every parent has faced the pressure to correct a son or daughter because others deemed it appropriate. Perhaps you were with a group where Junior did or said something that you understood and were comfortable with, but that was unquestionably misread by others in the room. Stabbed by their daggers of disapproval, you felt the need to correct him for the sake of others. If you acquiesce, your parenting focus becomes behavior. This obscures dealing biblically with Junior's heart. the burning issue becomes what they think rather than what God thinks. Patience, godly correction is precluded by the urgent pressure to change behavior. if your goal is well-behaved kids, you are open to hundreds of temptations to expediency.

(Taken from Shepherding a Child's Heart by Tedd Tripp)

When I read this I felt something pierce my heart. I knew I was guilty of this. When my children say or do something that makes me want to crawl into a hole and disappear, I immediately feel extreme pressure to correct or punish on the spot, instead of taking that child to the side and explaining why it may or may not be appropriate in a certain crowd. So many times, it is truly in innocence that they say those kinds of things. Like the time Marcus made fun of Buddha in his Tae Kwon Do class. He said, "I don't know why anyone would want to worship a fat, bald guy." He had no idea that there were three children in front of him that had been baptized in a Buddhist Temple. That day, three adults came down hard on him. His teacher, His father and me. We were too hard. He assumed everyone in the homeschool TKD class were Christians. We learned a lesson that day. But out of my own embarrassment I know I took it out of proportion.

I'm going to really try to work on this. I need to be thinking about my child's heart. Is it truly rebellion, or a lack of understanding? You know, those kinds of things.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Joshua Turns 13!!!

Dear Joshua,

The day came. It is finally here. You are a teenager. I can no longer say, "But you aren't quite a teenager yet!" when you ask for more freedom. You are. You are. How did this happen so fast?
 I am now thinking so much about the few years I have left to teach you all you need to learn to survive in this ol' world. I hope I'm doing a good job. I have to trust God that He will give you everything that you need.
 This year has been full of ups and downs. I watch you struggle with your faith and the pull of the world. It is hard to watch. I pray for you. I've come to realize now that I really have no control in this area. God has to do the wooing. And if I give you to Him, it is a beautiful thing to watch. I know you love Him. This year I've seen you worship Him for the first time in Spirit and in Truth.
 You are so worried that you aren't strong enough, your voice isn't deep enough, you don't have enough arm pit hair! I keep telling you, it will all come and to try not to compare yourself with your friends. I personally, have seen how you are turning slowly into a man. I can't believe that you are now stronger than me and I do rely on you a lot when Dad is unavailable. You are a HUGE help to me!
 You are desperate to be taller than me! In this picture you kept standing on your tippy toes. Pretty soon, you will be flying past me in that regard!
So Happy Birthday to my young man. You get the privilege of being the FIRST teenager of all the kids. They all look up to you and I pray that you will show them how it is done. I pray also that you continue to build trust so that you will always been able to have loads of freedom as you grow older.

I pray that you will grow in all "wisdom and stature" just as our Lord Jesus did. I pray that you will rely on God, that you will turn to Him when you are angry, hurting, or need wisdom. I pray that you will love the Lord Jesus with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. Make righteousness your passion. Remember that the world is not here to entertain you. You are here for a purpose. To love and serve God. To find out what His calling is for you.

Remember, I am here. I am available. I will listen even if I might not agree with you.

May you enjoy your day, my special one!

Love,

Mom

Friday, September 9, 2011

The Will Of God For Every Wife

(Picture taken at the Civil War reenactment at Fort Stevens. I just thought this couple looked so sweet together)
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God's will for every Christian wife is that her most important ministry be to her husband (Genesis 2:18). After a wife's own personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, nothing else should have greater priority. Her husband should be the primary benefactor of her his wife's time and energy, not the recipient of what may be left over at the end of the day. Whether her husband is a faithful Christian or an unbeliever, God wants every Christian woman to be a godly wife-an excellent wife.

This truth is so important to God that He has clearly and completely revealed it in His Word, the Bible. Indeed the Scriptures alone are sufficient to provide the wisdom wives need for living the Christian life. One of the most important Scripture passages concerning God's will for the Christian wife is Proverbs 31.

An Excellent Wife is...

1. Respectful to her Husband.
2. Trusted
3. Kind
4. Fears the Lord
5. Blessed by Her Children
6. Careful
7. Praised
8. Not Afraid
9. Worker with Hands
10. Wise
11. Generous
12. Good to Her Husband.
13. Of Exceptional Worth

What a glorious reflection of God a woman becomes as she develops her ministry as a godly wife! Ask yourself , "Are these the qualities I want in my life?"

The good news is that any Christian woman who knows and obeys this passage of Scripture can become a godly woman, and excellent wife. A wife's responsibility is to learn to put her confidence in the faithfulness of God and His Word-to do what He says. She can become what He wants her to become if she does what He wants her to do. There is not other way!

Many wives look at the list and feel overwhelmed and condemned. If you are a Believer you have the Holy Spirit dwelling inside you. He will enable you to obey his commands and to submit to His ways.

(Taken from "The Excellent Wife" by Martha Peace)

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Playing School

 I think the children were actually missing school. All last week on their own, they started lining up our "new to us" desks in the homeschool room. Josh and Marcus started teaching the littler ones. It was really cute!
 Josh made his own map of Europe, complete with flags and symbols. He loves military maps.
I am always amazed at how my children use their imaginations. Even though they say they are not looking forward to starting up school (which is today), secretly I think they like to learn new things and have a routine.

I'm so thankful that the Lord gave me a fresh vision for my homeschool. I didn't know it, but I was getting burned out. This whole summer He has made me face my impatience. My impatience is the root of my anger. I am thankful that it has been revealed, but it is my choice now to allow the Holy Spirit to help me.

 I continue to let Him undo me, take me apart, and stitch me back together again His way and in His time.

I am grateful for the priviledge be homeschooling. I am also grateful that this is HIS homeschool and not mine. All glory be to Him!!!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Impromptu Baptism

Jessica and Marcus had asked awhile back to get baptized. It just hadn't worked out with everything that is going on in our church right now. Our senior pastor is in the final stages with his battle with colon cancer. We have put it off since late winter. Jessica asked me the other night if I could baptize her right NOW.

I thought it about it before I answered her. I thought of all the VOM pictures of people getting baptized in kiddie pools, oceans and such. I also felt the Lord say in my spirit, "Do not prevent the little children from coming to me." So I said yes.
 Steve of course was working, so I was on my own. I filled up the bathtub and gathered the older ones around me. It was beautiful as I prayed with them and baptized them in "the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit."
 Here is Marcus. I was so proud of him for making this decision.
 Josh surprised me and said he wanted to do it as well. I was thrilled! The other ones cheered when they came up out of the water. It was very special.
We went ahead and talked with our pastor and they will be officially baptized by him in September. I'm so glad I had this special moment with my children. It felt like I was experiencing some of the fruit of my labors of teaching them about the Lord.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Voice of The Martyrs VBS

 Last year I was reading my VOM magazine and I saw their new VBS curriculum. I was super-excited and went ahead and purchased it. I prayed that our church would be willing to do it. They got on board and put on an amazing VBS!

I was the "AWARENESS LEADER", my job was to teach the children about what Christians are going through around the world. Some of the men in our church created this jail cell for me to take the kids into. They used a liner from a truck bed. Can you believe it? It was perfect! As I brought the children in, I asked a lot of hard questions. I made them think about what it would be like to really be in jail.
 Here we all are packed in the jail. We are singing and witnessing to our prison guard.
 They kids did super job memorizing their verses!
This is our "underground Sunday school". The kids had to go through a tunnel to get into this dark room. We had streamers up as a decoy. When the "police" came, we had a birthday party. We had LED candles and made the room look dark and a little spooky. They kids LOVED it! We talked about what it would be like to meet in a secret place to worship the Lord. We sang "Jesus Loves Me" silently so we wouldn't alert the "police". I showed them pictures of churches that had been burned down, and people worshipping in their homes or in caves. Most of them had no idea that Christians had to endure such things just to get to church.

My biggest question to the kids was this...

Why do they bother? Why do they continue to risk their lives just so they can be together and worship?

The answer is that God made the Body of Christ to need each other. We are meant to encourage and edify one another. We are not to "forsake meeting together".

This VBS is different from any I've ever attended. There were not a bunch of bells and whistles, "stores", toys and such. It was not about the kids, it was about others. It was about the suffering saints all around the world.

The kids even raised enough money ($500) to launch a balloon into North Korea that releases 10,000 scriptures! This is one of the most closed off countries of the world! Imagine the Word of God spreading like wildfire among it's people!

I'm so thankful that I got to be a part of it and the highlight of the week was leading five children to the Lord. I've been praying for years to lead someone to Christ. God gave me five in one day! He is so good!!!

If you are looking for a good VBS curriculum, click here.

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