Sunday, December 26, 2010
In reading the Christmas story in Luke 2, I have always been drawn to the above passage. The fact that in the midst of the miracle of God becoming flesh, Mary took a moment to just take it all in, amazing me. In the midst of the miracle, Mary took a moment to just be a mom. There were several times when my husband and I were trying to become parents that I wondered if I was ever going to experience the pondering of the thoughts and experiences of a new mom. Then once I became pregnant with my daughter I finally realized the sweet moments that you do treasure. The first heartbeat, the first movement, the first kick and the first hiccup.
At a mere 28 weeks pregnant I had some major complications with my pregnancy that caused me to put on bedrest at the hospital. In those tense and scary moments of monitors and medicine, I treasured each heartbeat I heard, and every moment that was given to me with my daughter. After nine days in the hospital, the complications were finally settled down and I was allowed to go home...it just happened to be Christmas day, 2008! Over 2000 years before the biggest, most amazing miracle occurred, GOd became flesh in the person of Jesus Christ! In 2008 God did another miracle in allowing me to be in my home for Christmas and for my child to still be growing and thriving in my tummy.
As I sat in front of our Christmas tree that Christmas day, I treaured the fact that God had been gracious and my daughter was still thriving and growing inside of my. Then 5 days later in the early morning of December 30th, my husband rushed me to the hospital and that visit resulted in my precious, miracle daughter being born, when I was just 30 weeks pregnant! The next eight weeks my daughter fought for her life, and over and over again God showed up in a miraculous way in my daughter's life, in my life and in my family's life. In every God moment I had, I treasured them into my heart. Eight weeks after my daughter's early arrival, she was able to come home and enjoy her baby cradle for the first time.
Fast forward two years! Yesterday on Christmas day, instead of being rolled out of the hospital with a baby inside me, I was able to celebrate Christmas 2010, with my precious miracle daughter, my husband, parents, brother, sister in love, niece and nephew, and many extended family members. I was able to testify about God's goodness, faithfulness and love that He had poured onto our family. Again yesterday, I pondered the many joys that God had given to me the last few years. I say joy and not happiness, because joy is that deep, everlasting love and enduring faith that God showed to me and confirmed to me in my heart the last few years. I accepted God into my life when I was just eight years old, with a child like faith. Now at almost 34 years old I have a faith in God that is real and has been fleshed out in both joyous and very saddening times! I love God not because of what He does or doesn't do in my life, but because of WHO HE IS!!
Monday, December 6, 2010
Let's all admit that suffering stinks. Whether you are suffering from your first broken heart in the 9th grade, failing a class, loss of a job, loss of a child, infertility, depression, divorce, suffering is no fun. Just because you are a Christian doesn't mean enduring suffering isn't hard. In many cases as Christians we have a distorted faith about God. We believe that if we do good things then God will give us good things but if we have bad things happen in our lives it must mean with have or are commiting some great sin. All of this untrue! For proof that this believe is untrue just look at the like of Job. (You can read about the life of Job in the Old Testament book of Job). Many times God allows suffering in our lives to happen, because God desires to deepen our faith or to get out of our lives some things that should not be there. Other times, suffering happens just because we live in a sinful, fallen world, with sinful fallen people. So how and why should you worship, serve and love God when you are suffering? That question was answered for me not only in this Sunday's sermon, but also through personal heartache.
1. Worshipping in the midst of suffering reminds us what is important.
Since 2004 my family has endured some not so fun suffering. From the death of my precious nephew at birth in 2004, to myself and some of my other family members struggle with infertility, to my own daughter being born 10 weeks premature, suffering has seemed to be the theme. But in the suffering it helps me take the focus off of what really didn't matter in life and put my focus on what really mattered. Before the suffering, I was more worried about what my clothes and my hair look liked, instead of worrying about what my faith looked like. I was more concerned about other's approval then I was about my Lord's approval. Suffering helped me refocus on what was and still is very important in my life; faith, family and friends.
2. Worshipping in suffering protects us from using suffering as an excuse for sin.
There have been many times during my times of suffering when I just said to the Lord, "I am done". I wanted to go out and do activities that I knew were wrong,I felt like I deserved to be a little bit bad because of all the "badness" that was occurring in my life. Thankfully I had a strong support system that brought me to my senses and told me that if I did those activities, I was just going to feel worse not better!
3. Worshipping in suffering takes the focus off the suffering and places the focus on Christ. It helps us forget what is wrong with ME and focuses on what is right with THEE (God).
A friend of mine gave me one of my most favorite quotes about dealing with sufffering and sadness. She said Abbey, "Life is hard, God is good, don't get the two confused!" I have come to realize that statement is so very true. Life is hard, but God is so very good. Do we as children of God, always go through good stuff and not bad, no. But through in every step we see that God is good and faithful.
4. Worshipping in suffering is an amazing testimony to those around you.
After the death of my nephew, I will never forget my brother telling me of all the people that were calling, encouraging and praying for him and my sister in law. One of his friends from high school who had been away from the Lord for many years, in seeing the strength of my brother's faith turned back to the Lord. In my own life, I have had friends tell me that they had not prayed in years, but when they heard about my daughter being born so early and so little, they prayed. That is what it is all about! As Christians our goal is to bring glory and other people to God, even it means that we have to suffer in the process.
5. Worshipping in the midst of suffering reveals God's faithfulness.
I can definitely vouch for the fact that of God's faithfulness. When my daughter was born 10 weeks early an spend 8 weeks in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), I experienced God's amazing faithfulness. One occasion in particular energized my faith like nothing I have ever experienced. While my daughter was in the NICU the doctors did a battery of tests to get a base line for the care they would be giving her. One test they gave her was to test and see if she has Cystic Fibrosis. The test came back positive, but the doctor said they were going to redo it just to confirm. At that moment, I broke down. I went crying to my car and sent out a massive text to my friends and family and asked them to stop what they were doing an pray! The next day the doctor came back in my daughter's room and told me that they had redone the test and my daughter did not have Cystic Fibrosis. God truely did a miracle in not only in my daughter's life but in the life of many people who observed the miracle. I am so very thankful that God chose to do show me His faithfulness in such a great way.
So in closing be encouraged to worship in your suffering. As Paul states, in Romans 8:18"For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us." Suffering stinks, but through it God molds and refines us, others are encouraged in their faith and through it we learn to worship God in a whole new way!
Friday, December 3, 2010
One of my most favorite things to do is watch movies. Whether they are on TV, rented from Redbox or actually going to the movie theater. One of the reasons I love movies, is that my mom and I (Ava's Grammy), love to go to movies together. I guess we started the tradition back when I was in college and we would do it as a speacial treat. Then when I moved to Georgia we would meet up several times half way at the Mall of GA for some shopping and of course catch a movie. Now when I go back to Greenville to visit, if we have time, we try to catch a movie together. All in all watching movies is my thing. So yesterday was a special moment between me and MY daughter...wow that is fun to say! After waking Ava up from her nap, I realized it was a little too cold and windy to go play outside. I asked Ava if she wanted to watch a show (which to her is a dvd). She pointed to her stack of DVD's and said, "beast, show" which means Beauty and the Beast. I put in the movie and then went in the kitchen to pop some popcorn. After burning one batch, I had our popcorn and we were ready to watch the movie. The movie started and Ava crawled into my lap and we watched Beauty and the Beast together...well at least half of it. While I was sitting on my den floor, with the Christmas tree lit and my precious daughter in my lap, I was almost brought to tears in thanking God for the great things He has done in my life.
Other then the fact that I was able to have a speacial moment with my daughter on a cold, blustery winter's day, what was the big deal. I guess the reason that it was such a big deal to me was that there were some times that I did not think the dreams I had of being a wife, let alone a mother would ever happen. I can remember like it was yesterday, driving back from the Shelby Mall with my then new, but now great friend Corie. We were just about 5 days into our freshman year at GWU. As we were driving I said, I bet I am going to meet the man of my dreams here. Well, I did meet the man of my dreams while I was in college....several of them! I dated several Godly, handsome, great Christian guys in college, but in 1999 when I walked across the stage at GWU it was a single woman.
Flash forward eight years and fourteen bridesmaid dresses later, and I was still not married. I prayed, fasted, read every "How to be a Godly single woman book" I could get my hands on and still no husband. Then, when my heart had been broken for the last time, and I said that was done with dating and I was just going to be a Lottie Moon....my knight in shining armor came along! Adam Cooler was everything that I had evey asked or imagined for in a husband. God had created him perfectly for just me! Now after almost 5 years of marriage, I can say very confidently that he was DEFINITELY worth the wait.
Now after I met he man of my dreams (one hope and dream checked off the list), I wanted to be a mom. I have always wanted to be a mom. In Miss May's K-5 class all I wanted to do was play in the home living center. I always enjoyed being around children and even chose a career path that I would be working with them. Yet, when it came to be having my own child, it just wasn't happening the way I thought. But God was again faithful to me. After two and a half years, of crying, begging, needle pricks, medicine, procedures and heart ache, I finally was able to give birth to the most precious, spunky, miracle little girl.
So my point in all my ramblings of this blog post today is to not give up on your hopes in dreams. Though they my linger, wait and be taking a whole lot longer then you would have wanted them to, don't give up. In my period of waiting there were two verses that I would always go back to and they would give me encouragement. They were Psalms 1:6, "For the Lord watches over the way of the righteouss" and Psalms Answer me when I call to you, my righteous God. Give me relief from my distress and be merciful to me and hear my prayers." I clung to the knowlege that God loved me and wanted the very best for me, and that He knew my deepest wants, hopes and desires. So today, just be encouraged to know that we have a Lord and Savior that loves us and longs to give us everthing that we could ever ask, want or imagine!
Sunday, November 7, 2010
I was reminded of that quote this morning on the way to church. As we were driving to church I asked Ava if she was ready to go to church. I said she would see her teacher Miss Malinda, all her friends and learn about Jesus. Ava then looked at me and said "church", "Mitchell" It made me tear up a little bit. Why you ask? First of all, we have been working really hard on Ava's talking, and to hear her use two words in a row was awesome. But what made me tear up the most was that she said, "Mitchell", when I asked her what friend she was excited to see at church. You see
Michell was created a little be extra special by God. He has cerebral palsy and brings his super cool walker at church. Ava loves Mitchell! Every Sunday she looks for him and they play together in class, he's only run over her once in his walker, ha ha! In fact today, as I was walking by Ava's class she was crying which is unusual because she loves Sunday School. When I picked Ava up I asked the teacher why did she started crying. She said, because Mitchell left. Then as we were leaving church today, Ava saw her buddy Mitchell and reach out and tapped him on the arm.
I love the fact that Ava doesn't care that Mitchell may walk or talk different or get around using a walker. All she knows is that he is her friend and she has fun with him at church I pray that her heart stays tender to those around her that need a little be more love and care. My little miracle baby, made this mama beam with pride today. I am thankful that what I am teacher her about "Love one another", is actually being played out in her little heart and life.
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Like many Christian women, I grew up in the church and grew up hearing about the great Proverbs 31 woman (Proverbs 31:10-31). This seeming perfect woman has been drilled into my head. . I grew up going to Sunday School, choir, GA’s, Wednesday night supers and youth retreats. I was saved at the age of eight but I have been a Baptist since birth. Every year on Mother’s Day I heard messages on “her”. Every youth trip and college retreat I ever attended would have a “girls only” session, and we were given instruction on how to become the Proverbs 31 women. During my single days in my twenties I read every book that Lifeway or the Family Christian Bookstore carried on becoming the Proverbs 31 women. Then in 2006 I became a wife and in 2008 I became a mother. Then all my knowledge I had and all the plans I had made about being the perfect woman went out the window!
Before I had my daughter I always said that when I become a mother, my house will stay spotless, my child will follow every word of Babywise and I will NEVER leave the house without looking like I just walked out of an Ann Taylor catalogue. I was never going to be one of those “frumpy, stay at home moms”. Then I actually had a baby, who was premature, on a three hour feeding schedule, and who had gas, constipation and reflux! One afternoon I realized we were out of diapers and formula and I needed to run up to the local grocery store. I got dressed, got my daughter ready, and headed to Kroger! I took my time in the store, bought the formula and diapers, and went back out to my car. As I was about to pull out of the parking space, I looked in my review mirror. That is when I notice the dried sweet potato in my eye brow! So much for being the perfect, Proverbs 31 woman who has her life balanced and figured out!
After that embarrassing but funny incident at the local Kroger, I thought to myself, “It’s time to regroup”. How can I can I complete everything on my “to do list”, spend time with my friends, family, husband and child, and maintain a dynamic walk with the Lord. As I thought about and prayed about my “regroup”, three “P’s” came to my mind. Even though it has been eight years since I finished seminary I have a hard time giving an explanation without using three points (or four points in this case) and alliteration!
1. Plan: Plan meals, plan your grocery list, plan your days, plan when you will do housework, put plans on your calendar and plan ahead for all things unexpected. By making plans you can take the seemingly endless to do list that we all have in our lives, and break it down into smaller chunks of times, so we do not get overwhelmed. Like my mother always told me, “Plan your work and work your plan”!
2. People: It is so very important to maintain the relationships with those special people in your life. They are your family, friends, husband and children. Make time in your daily, weekly and monthly life in order to grow, nurture and invest in to these relationships. This can be a playgroup with friends, date night with your husband, or celebrating special occasions with family members.
3. Perspective: At the end of the day, have the right perspective. When your child is eighteen, graduates from high school and moves from under your roof, what will they remember? Will they remember your house being spotless, eating organic, homemade food for every meal, and their clothes always being perfectly pressed or will they remember that you loved them unconditionally and invested in their lives?
4. Pray: Above all, cover your family, friends, household, spouse, children, with prayer. God has commanded us to pray without ceasing. You can pray at each red light, over your children while they sleep, at mealtime with your family, and all throughout the day. By seeking God and His will first, everything else in your life will fall into place.
So while you and I continue to try and strive to become a well balance woman, like the the Proverbs 31 women, we need to give ourselves a break. It is okay to stop and have a cup of coffee and read a book during naptime instead of making, cleaning or picking up something. It is okay after a difficult day, to run by Little Caesars and pick up at $5 pizza. You and I need to remember that God’s grace is sufficient and we need to give ourselves some, each and every day!
Sunday, October 17, 2010
I sought the LORD, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled
Fear the LORD your God, serve him only and take your oaths in his name.
O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
Let those who love the LORD hate evil, for he guards the lives of his faithful ones and delivers them from the hand of the wicked
It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees.
Now Daniel so distinguished himself among the administrators and the satraps by his exceptional qualities that the king planned to set him over the whole kingdom.
Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.
My son, if sinners entice you, do not give in to them.
Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.
1st Corinthians 6:18-20
Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body. 19Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.
2nd Corinthians 6:14
Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?
Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God, this is your spiritual[a] act of worship. 2Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Therefore I will block her path with thornbushes; I will wall her in so that she cannot find her way.
Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me.
Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.
All your sons will be taught by the LORD, and great will be your children's peace.
A wise son heeds his father's instruction, but a mocker does not listen to rebuke.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
This song is the cry of my heart for myself and also for my daughter. As a life long people pleaser, I have so many times lived my faith and love for God from the outside/in instead of inside/out. I have found myself doing alot of Christian things and activities to show my love for Christ, but my heart and my motives were impure. My prayer daily is that my faith will be genuine! I also pray that my precious daughter will not "pick up" my bad habit of people pleasing, but will live a life completely in love with Jesus Christ!
Thursday, October 14, 2010
Even though you may know that you will receive your reward one day for being “mother of the year”, there are still days when you are exhausted, worn out, with sweet potato on your eyebrow. When I have those days I look at verse 30 of Proverbs 31. It states, “ Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. When you have gone down the list of the characteristics and requirements of being the PERFECT woman and you feel overwhelmed, remember this one truth. The most important concept of being a woman of God, is to be IN LOVE with Jesus Christ. By first being in love with Jesus with all your mind, strength, and all your heart, you can then accomplish ANYTHING through Him.
Monday, October 11, 2010
How to calendar
1. At the beginning of each year I get my old calendar out and compare it to my new calendar
2. Write down birthdays and anniversaries
3. Get the school calendar and mark off holidays and breaks
4. In order to be ready for the Christmas Holidays, I write at the beginning of November to start preparing or purchasing a family Christmas card. That way I am not caught off guard in December
5. At the beginning of each month I give myself a reminder of what birthday or anniversary cards or presents I need to purchase.
Just a little hint that you can use right now…one additional note that I have added to my calendar this year, is at the end of October. My daughter has just gotten into dress up, and I have made myself a note to purchase some Halloween costumes for her to use as dress up. I will do this a few days after Halloween this year when all the costumes go on sale at Wal-Mart and Target
In verse 26 we see the Proverbs 31 woman, SPEAKING WISDOM AND INSTRUCTION into the lives of those around her. This should encourage all of us to be pouring into another’s life. In Titus ( 2:3-5 ) we are given directions to invest in the lives of younger women.
Titus 2:3-5 (New International Version)
3Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. 4Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, 5to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.
In this passage we see how the older women should act. In turn these wiser women are able to guide the younger women in the way they should act towards their husbands, home, children and those around them.
We all have younger woman in our lives. It may be your daughter, some high school youth girls or a new mom that has just moved into your neighborhood. You can invest in this person’s life, by simply having a cup a coffee with them or being there for them when they may have a life question.
As we look towards the end of the chapter at verse 27, we see that a Proverbs 31 woman is always ACTIVELY PARTICIPATING in her world. She looks after all the ins and outs of her household. You keep the house clean, play dress up, do playdough, fingerpaint, prepare dinner and still look hot for your husband! Like my Me-Me says…A man works from sun to sun but a woman’s work is never done!! Because she is always doing something for her family or for someone else she doesn’t, “eat the bread of idleness” as the verse states. But remember…it is okay to sit down and watch Oprah with a cup of coffee during nap time!
Friday, October 8, 2010
Monday: Laundry, Make Grocery List, Clean Kitchen
Tuesday: Dust and Vacuum House, Go grocery shopping, because my daughter is in MMO and it is easier to go grocery shopping w/o my little helper!
Wednesday: Clean Bathrooms
Thursday: Vacuum and Mop house, Laundry day again
Friday: Dust blinds, baseboards and chairrailing
A resource that has helped me is a book, “More Hours In My Day” by Emilie Barnes. It has been a great book to help me get my life organized and not be overwhelmed with trying to keep a clean house….especially with a 21 month old running around! In the book it gives a plan to keep up with weekly chores, monthly chores and yearly chores. That way you don’t get five years down the road and think…when was the last time I cleaned the windows, or cleaned out that closet.
Finally what I do daily to make sure I do not get overwhelmed with the clutter and chaos of a household is that I TAKE 15. What does that mean?? At the end of each day I take 15 minutes after my daughter has gone to bed, to pick up the house and get things ready for the next morning. I make my list for the next day, make my daughters lunch-if it is an MMO day, lay out my clothes, pull out meat for dinner the next day, and most importantly, get the coffee pot set! That way when I wake up in the morning I feel like I am a little ahead of the game…at least for a little bit!
As we look on in the passage we look at verse 20 and see that the Proverbs 31 woman HAS COMPASSION ON THOSE IN NEED.
Verse 20 states that she opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy. The New testament even talks about it in (Luke 12:48 , From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.) With all that this woman has to do in her life, she still takes time to help the needy. This can be done by taking can goods to the local food bank, donating baby clothes to a crisis pregnancy center or even just taking a meal to a sick friend. It is important to teach our children how to be generous because children do not know how to share…it is something that has to be taught. I can testify to that as the mother of an almost two year old, whose new favorite word is MINE!
Thursday, October 7, 2010
22Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. 23For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
25Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26to make her holy, cleansing[a] her by the washing with water through the word, 27and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.
In this passage we see that we are called to submit/respect our husband, but first our husbands are to love us and be willing to die for us…just like Christ gave His life for us. Makes submitting a little bit easier doesn’t it?
Now let’s take a look at verses 13-16 (read passage), we see in this passage of scripture that a Proverbs 31 woman MAKES PROVISIONS for her family. She provides food and adds to the finances of the family. We all have a skill whether you can sew cute clothes, pant portraits, do someone taxes or tutor a friend’s child. Even a stay at home moms, you and I can do a small job that can bring in finances into your family. But what if you feel overwhelmed with the day to day (like me), of keeping the house together and the kids at their places, you can add to your household finances, by being a budgeter and a couponer.
One thing that I do to both help with the finances and provide food for my family, is I do meal planning. I do know people that are better than me at this and can plan meals for a month, but it works better for me to stick to doing a week or two weeks at a time.
This is my routine that I try to use.
1. I buy the Sunday Paper
2. I look at www.southernsavers.com
3. Pull out coupons from the Sunday Paper
4. Get out my menu lists/recipe cards
5. Pick and choose recipes based on the specials at the store I like to shop…for me that is Kroger and look at the coupons
6. I plan my menus for dinners for that week or two weeks. I usually cook Monday, Tuesday and Thursday. We have left overs on Wednesday and Friday. Saturday and Sunday are flexible. Sometimes I cook, sometimes we go out.
7. For breakfasts and lunches, I use the coupons and weekly specials, “red tag sales, etc in order to save the most money
Monday, October 4, 2010
The beautiful poem describing the virtuous, ideal women is found in the last chapter of the Old Testament book of Proverbs. The book of Proverbs is written my one of the most famous kings of Isreal, King Solomon. Even though the book of Proverbs was written by King Solomon, the poem describing the characteristics of a virtuous woman, was written by King Solomon’s mother. Now who was Solomon’s mother? Solomon’s mother was none other than one of the most scandalous women in the Bible, Bathsheba. Here is a little background information on Bathsheba. She was the second wife of King David. This is the same David that killed the giant Goliath with his slingshot, was best friends with Jonathan and soon took over the throne from Israel’s first king, Saul. David was a great king, called a man after God’s own heart, but he had a thing for the ladies! One evening David decided to take a walk on the roof of his castle. As he looked over all that he acquired, he looked down and saw a beautiful woman taking a bath. Being the king, he summoned the woman to come to his chambers that night…and back then you did not refuse the king. David did not care that this woman, Bathsheba was married, he wanted her. After he had his fun with her, he sent her out of his bed and back to her home. Long story short and you can read the story in its entirety in 2nd Samuel 11 and 12, Bathsheba becomes pregnant with a child, David has Bathsheba’s husband killed to conceal the affair, David marries Bathsheba, David is rebuked and disciplined by God, the baby of their union dies, they both grieve, Bathsheba become pregnant again and gives birth to Solomon. WHEW!
Solomon was one of the wisest and greatest kings of Israel. Yet, like his father before him, he also loved the ladies. As an adult he eventually had 400 wives and 800 concubines. Even though as an adult he made some poor choices it was not without instruction from his mother. Solomon’s mother, like any mother wanted better for her son then she had been given. She wanted to warn her son and give him a picture of the type of woman, she wanted for him. That is how Proverbs 31 came to be!
Saturday, October 2, 2010
As we begin to examine this seemingly perfect picture of womanhood, we do not find the stereotyped housewife occupied with dirty dishes and laundry, her daily life dictated by the demands of her husband and children. Nor do we see an overly ambitious, highly stressed, over hardened career woman who leaves her family to fend for themselves.
What we find instead is a dignified, strong, mult-talented, caring, amazing woman.
This woman has money to invest, servants to look after and real estate to manage. She is her husband’s partner, biggest cheerleader and helpmate. She has the business skills to buy and sell in the market place, but also has sensitively and compassion to care for and meet the needs of people who are less fortunate. She tackles every challenge that she may face with a cheerful and energetic attitude. Her family love and respect her for her kind, generous and caring nature.
But above all else she knows her value in Christ. She looks to Jesus Christ for all that she needs and wants. Proverbs 31 is written about a woman who is confident in SOMEONE other than herself. Here we find a woman who believes with all her heart that she is loved by a God who knows and cares for her. She depends on HIM and not on herself!
Sunday, September 26, 2010
Today I was reminded again that God desires that we all come to Him with transparency and realness. God already sees what is in our hearts and our thoughts...so why do we hide our true feelings. Today during Sunday School we were sharing about a time in our lives when we truely felt God's touch on our lives. One guy in the group shared about the time in him and his family life when they lost their son. He told about how his wife had given birth to twins...a little too early (my ears perked up at that), the little girl did really well but the little boy just wasn't strong enough. So instead of allowing him to suffer anymore, the Lord in His grace took the little boy, named Jack, home to Heaven. The dad said that at that moment he fell to his knees and cried out to the Lord. He told the Lord that he was really, "pisted" at him. At first it took me by surprised that this guy would use such a 4-letter word in church. But then I thought...well that is what he was really feeling! Did the Lord, cringe at the word the guy used as his time of need? No, the Lord reached down with grace and mercy and comforted him and his family.
So what about you? Are you willing to be honesst and transparent before the Lord. He desires that we come boldly to Him with the good, the bad and the ugliness of our lifes!
Saturday, September 4, 2010
Here is the article as seen on www.christiandevotions.us
Archives by Tag 'abbeycooler'
Put on Your Big Girl Britches – Abbey Medcalf Cooler
By Christian Devotions Editor - Last updated: Saturday, September 4, 2010
The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. Psalms 18:1-3
“I put on my big girl britches this morning!” I said as I bolted toward the nurse who attended my daughter. Due to some pregnancy complications, my precious, beautiful daughter was born ten weeks premature. At just two pounds and fourteen ounces, she spent the first eight weeks of her life in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).
My tiny daughter lay in her incubator with all types and colors of tubes coming out of her little body. I sat by my daughter in her incubator, talking with her and praying over her, when a nurse came by and said it was time to change out her IVs.
“You don’t have to stay in the room while I do this,” said the nurse.
“I’m fine; I wore my big girl britches today!”
I had awoken early that morning to spend some time with the Lord before heading to the NICU. During my quiet time with the Lord, I opened my Bible and read Psalms 18. These verses tell of the comfort and strength we can receive by holding on and relying on the Lord. There are many difficult situations we may be forced to deal with in life and God may ask us to step-up our faith or to “put on our big girl britches.”
What can we do to grow our faith? We can start with prayer, reading scripture daily, attending church and developing Christian friendships. During times of challenge, the most important thing we can do is to hold to the Rock of our salvation…Jesus Christ our Lord.
With a slight giggle from the nurse…a deep breath from me… and a high pitched cry from my daughter, the nurse removed one IV and reinserted another into my brave, precious daughter’s arms.
Be brave. Let God lead you through the difficult times.
Abbey Medcalf Cooler is a dynamic and energetic speaker with a heart for women. She has a Masters of Arts in Christian Education from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and a Bachelor of Arts in Christian Education from Gardner-Webb University. Abbey has served as the Associate Director of Elementary Ministries and as the Preschool and Children’s Director before moving on to teach sixth grade. She is currently residing in Acworth, Georgia and is a stay-at-home mom. Abbey is married to Adam and they have a daughter, Ava. Read Abbey’s devotions
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
But He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."
I see the creatures God made:
God made sheep
God made butterflies
God made dogs
God made cat
God made ducks
God made fish
And God made me!
These are the words of the book that I read to my daughter tonight as I put her to bed. After each God made....there is a verse that sort of goes along with the topic. One of the verses that jumped out at me tonight was the one that went along with GOD MADE BUTTERFLIES. The verse was, Isaiah 25:1, "O Lord, you are my God; I will exalt you and praise your name, for in perfect faithfulness you have done marvelous things!"
Today I had a conversation with two of the moms in my daughter Ava's Gymboree class. One of the moms, well she is actually the nanny, of one of the little started talking about her child and how early she was born. My ears perked up because my daughter was also born very early. The nanny said that the little girl was born 3 months early, and had to be on a feeding tube, oxygen and a heart monitor up until just a few months ago. This child does have some delays/special needs that are noticable, but she is improving everyday!
While the nanny was telling me this I looked over at my daughter and thought how gracious God had been to our family. My daughter was born 10 weeks early, but only needed a little assistance with oxygen, and was able to come home from the hospital eating and breathing on her own. Though she did have to wear a heart monitor, it was only as a precaution. Also, now at a year and a half old she is pretty much caught up developmently with children who were now born prematurely!
But later tonight as I read this little book of my daughter's I was convicted. Was God not gracious to the other little girl's parents, just because she had more delays/special needs then my daughter? Absolutely not! God showed grace by allowing this little one to live. God has given grace continuously to this child and to her parents, to overcome some of the difficulties she is facing. Just because God does not answer our prayers or fix our problems the way we thing they should be, does not mean that His grace is insufficient.
My junior and senior year in college, I had an amazing prayer group. We would meet at 6:30 am on Thursday mornings. This song reminds of this. All of us in this group, had a desire to serve the Lord with our lives. We did not know if that meant as a missionary, teacher, preacher, church staff or stay at home mom. Our desire above all else was to glorify God with our lives. Though our lives have taken some twists and turns and many of us are not where we thought we would be at the wise old age of 21...we are all spack dab in the middle of God's will. Through that early morning prayer time, I learned to seek God's face first thing in the morning and to lay all of my hopes, desires and dreams at His beautful, nail scared feet!
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
In order to listen to this song, you will need to press pause on my playlist on the right. I hope that this song and verses will encourage you today. Know that God loved you so much that He sent His one and only son to died for you. Jesus rose again and love you. No matter the sin that you may have commited, God will forgive you and will wash you white as snow!!
Wednesday, June 30, 2010
“I'm a part of the fellowship of the unashamed. The die has been cast. I have stepped over the line. The decision has been made. I'm a disciple of His and I won't look back, let up, slow down, back away, or be still.
My past is redeemed. My present makes sense. My future is secure. I'm done and finished with low living, sight walking, small planning, smooth knees, colorless dreams, tamed visions, mundane talking, cheap living, and dwarfed goals.
I no longer need preeminence, prosperity, position, promotions, plaudits, or popularity. I don't have to be right, or first, or tops, or recognized, or praised, or rewarded. I live by faith, lean on His presence, walk by patience, lift by prayer, and labor by Holy Spirit power.
My face is set. My gait is fast. My goal is heaven. My road may be narrow, my way rough, my companions few, but my guide is reliable and my mission is clear.
I will not be bought, compromised, detoured, lured away, turned back, deluded or delayed.
I will not flinch in the face of sacrifice or hesitate in the presence of the adversary. I will not negotiate at the table of the enemy, ponder at the pool of popularity, or meander in the maze of mediocrity.
I won't give up, shut up, or let up until I have stayed up, stored up, prayed up, paid up, and preached up for the cause of Christ.
I am a disciple of Jesus. I must give until I drop, preach until all know, and work until He comes. And when He does come for His own, He'll have no problems recognizing me. My colors will be clear!”
Sunday, June 20, 2010
Why Does Infertility Stink??
- The dream you had of marriage then kids has been shattered.
- Every month having to see just one pink line on the pregnancy test, instead of two
- 16 and pregnant on MTV
- The never ending question of "When are ya'll going to have kids?"
- People telling you that you can't do a good job in children's ministry or as a teacher because you do not have children of your own
- Baby Dedication
- Mother's Day
- Going to Babies R Us
- Being told to "just adopt" and feeling bad because you don't feel led to do it.
- Hearing the news that one of your friends or family members is pregnant. One one hand you are excited for them but on the other hand your heart breaks because you wish it was you. Then you feel bad for not feeling absolutely excited for your love ones, and then you beat yourself up for being selfish
- Feeling like you must have some BIG SIN in your life or why else would you not be pregnant
- Feeling like you are a science experiment
- Having your most private parts of your body be on display for countless doctors, nurses and even pre-med students
- Taking vitamins, hormones, and shots
- Doubting your faith and wondering where God is in all of this struggle.
- Seeing the "I'm so sorry" look in the nurse's eyes as she tells you yet again that you are not pregnant
- Crying in the Wal-Mart check out line as you buy your "supplies" for your monthly gift
- Hearing "We weren't even trying"!
- Having your arms ache to hold a child
- People telling you to "just relax and it will just happen"
These are all things that I have hated and still sometimes hate about infertility. Infertility is not fair, it stinks, it's heartbreaking and it affects you spiritually, emotionally and spiritually! Through my struggle with infertility the words of this song helped. My favorite line is "still I will praise you, still I will praise you!"
The biggest change in my relationship with the Lord that happened during my infertility journey was that my love for God is now based on WHO HE IS and not on what He gives me! Even though I have a child now, through the help of hormones, shots and treatment, my heart still aches. Because now that she is 18 months old the questions are starting up again...when are you going to have another one? So today as we sang the song below in church, God reminded me of the lessons of grace, mercy and faithfulness that He had already taught me. So today I can again say, "still I will praise you LORD!"
YOU NEVER LET GO LYRICS - MATT REDMAN
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death
Your perfect love is casting out fear
And even when I'm caught in the middle of the storms of this life
I won't turn back
I know you are near
And I will fear no evil
For my God is with me
And if my God is with me
Whom then shall I fear?
Whom then shall I fear?
Oh no, You never let go
Through the calm and through the storm
Oh no, You never let go
In every high and every low
Oh no, You never let go
Lord, You never let go of me
And I can see a light that is coming for the heart that holds on
A glorious light beyond all compare
And there will be an end to these troubles
But until that day comes
We'll live to know You here on the earth
Yes, I can see a light that is coming for the heart that holds on
And there will be an end to these troubles
But until that day comes
Still I will praise You, still I will praise You
Monday, June 14, 2010
They say a picture is worth a thousand words....but to me this picture is a dividing line in my life. It is the point at which I went from a woman who said she was completely sold out to the Lord but really wasn't. A woman who would live like a Christian one day and a lost soul the next. A woman who would trust God in the good times put would easily turn away from Him when life was unfair. That woman with wavery faith was transformed through suffering and uncertainty on December 30, 2008.
My precious daughter was born, by emergency c-section, 10 weeks early! I had had it all planned out. She was not suppose to be born until March, so I was going to spend my Christmas break (I taught 6th grade at the time), getting my hair, toes, and finger nails done. I wanted to make sure I looked "perfect" when it was time to deliver. But oh, how God's plans are so much higher, wiser and more PERFECT then our plans could every be!
On December 17th, I was rushed to the hospital in preterm labor. I was then on bed rest for 2 weeks. The first 4 days of which I had to lay perfectly still and was not even allowed to go to the bathroom. So you can image how beautiful I looked and smelled!! God was humbling me, and teaching me day by day, hour by hour. Then on December 30th my miracle was happened. Ava Elizabeth was born! She has to stay in the NICU for 8 weeks and during that time God continued to grow and refine me.
All my past worries of what I looked like, what I acted like and what others thought about me went out the door. For my whole, almost 32 years at that point, I had been a people pleaser. My moods and decisions would change based on other people's opinions. I would be up one day and down the next. I would make a decision I "thought" was right one minute and then change it the next because someone in my life did not approve of it. That all changed when I had Ava. The only person I worried about was that little 2 pound 14 oz little girl fighting for her life in her tiny incubator in room 4 of the NICU.
Today I looked at the picture in my hallway of my chipped finger nailed hand being held by my precious, beautiful, miracle, life altering daughter, Ava! So who am I today. I am a woman that is bold, brave, and completely sold out to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Am I still a people pleaser? Well, sometimes, but not as often. Everyday I seek to be the mother of a daughter, who is a true miracle. A daughter whom I desire to lead, guide and direct towards an amazing relationship with the King of Kings and Lord of Lords!
Thursday, June 3, 2010
PUT ON YOUR BIG GIRL BRITCHES!
Abbey Medcalf Cooler is a dynamic and energetic speaker. She has a heart for women, whether young, old, married, single, a working or stay-at-home mom. Her messages are filled with encouragement, Biblical truths and humor woven together with her own personal experiences.
Abbey has a Masters of Arts in Christian Education from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. She also has a Bachelor of Arts in Christian Education from Gardner-Webb University. Abbey has served on the staff of First Baptist Woodstock as the Associate Director of Elementary Ministries focusing on the third-fifth grades. She has served on the staff at Noonday Baptist Church as the Preschool and Children’s Director before moving on to teach sixth grade at Cherokee Christian School. She is currently residing in Acworth, Georgia and is a stay-at-home mom. Abbey is married to Adam and they have a daughter, Ava.
“There is nothing quite like personal experience. Abbey has walked where many have walked, however her perspective was life changing.”
Dr. Johnny Hunt, Pastor of First Baptist Woodstock.
“Abbey brings three important qualities to the ministry table: experience, passion, and a love of God's Word. All three are needed in ministry today. She has a heart for seeing women of all ages impacted by the powerful Truth of God."
Kim Davidson, Director of Parent and Family Ministries
Providence Baptist Church, Raleigh, NC
Are We There Yet?
On our journey in the Christian walk some times God calls us to take scary steps. As we walk high on the mountain top and low in the valley,God may call us to step out on faith. Remember that God is the lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path.
To Those Who Come Behind Us
As Christian women while we are living our lives and developing our own
Christian walks, let us not forget to look behind us. There are younger women behind us that need support and encouragement.
The Perfect Parking Spot
“That job is too simple...that job doesn’t give me the recognition that I need... I want to be like him or her.” This is what many of us say when we are presented with an opportunity to serve the Lord. Let us not miss out on God’s plan for our lives because we are waiting to be recognized for what we are doing.
Secure in Your Insecurities
“Not pretty, too fat, too skinny, too many zits or wrinkles, too flat” All of
us have insecurities. Let us look together at what God says about our value and worth.
She Was How Small?
My daughter was born 10 weeks early when I was just 30 weeks pregnant. While she was in the NICU I saw babies born as early as 23 weeks. These babies not only survived but thrived. This experience gave me a real view of the devastation of late-term abortions.
True Love Waits Until You Are 28!
Actually I had to wait until I was 29! Being single in “Christian land” can be
tough. Be encouraged to be faithful and pure to your values, to your faith and to your God.
Abbey Medcalf Cooler
40 Thornwood Lane
Acworth, GA 30101
Tuesday, June 1, 2010
This is a picture of Ava and I during her NICU days!! For those of you that don't know she was born 10 weeks early and spent 8 weeks in the NICU. She is 17 months old now, walking, starting to talk and bringing joy to my life each and every day! It was not the path I would have taken, but I am grateful that God found me faithful! To God be the glory, great things He has done!
Jeremiah 29:11, "For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plan to prosper you and not harm you, plans for your hope and a future!"
The Chosen Mothers
By Erma Bombeck
Most women become mothers by accident, some by choice, a few by social pressures, and a couple by habit.
Did you ever wonder how mothers of children with life threatening illnesses are chosen?
Somehow, I visualize God hovering over Earth selecting His instruments for propagation with great care and deliberation. As He observes, He instructs His angels to make notes in a giant ledger.
"Armstrong, Beth, son, patron saint Matthew. Forrest, Marjorie, daughter, patron saint Cecilia. Rutledge, Carrie, twins, patron saint Gerard."
Finally, He passes a name to an angel and says, "Give her a child with an illness." The angel is curious. "Why this one God? She's so happy."
"Exactly" smiles God, "Could I give a child with an illness to a mother who does not know laughter? That would be cruel."
"But, does she have patience?" asks the angel.
"I don't want her to have too much patience or she will drown in a sea of self-pity and despair. Once the shock and resentment wear off, she will handle it."
"I watched her today. She has that feeling of self and independence that is so rare and so necessary in a mother. You see, the child I'm going to give her has it's own world. She has to make it live in her world and that's not going to be easy."
"But, Lord, I don't think her faith is strong enouch."
"No matter, I can fix that. This one is perfect. She has just enough selfishness." The angel gasps. "Selfishness? Is that a virtue?"
God nods. "If she can't separate herself from the child occasionally, she'll never survive. Yes, here is a woman whom I will bless with a child less than perfect. She doesn't realize it yet, but she is to be envied. She will never take anything her child does for granted. She will never consider a single step ordinary. I will permit her to see clearly the things I see... ignorance, cruelty, prejudice... and allow her to rise above them." She will never be alone. I will be at her side every minute of every day of her life, because she is doing My work as surely as if she is here by My side."
"And what about her patron Saint?" asks the angel. His pen poised in mid-air.
God smiles, "A mirror will suffice."
Monday, May 31, 2010
I am very thankful for the friends and family in my life that have so bravely served our country. I am thankful for God's hedge of protection on my friends and family members that have recently served. Thank you God for keeping Matt, James, David and Brent safe and bringing them home to their family and love ones.
Saturday, May 22, 2010
I had a wonderful time at the Blue Ridge Writer's Conference this past week. I was able to meet Jerry Jenkins of "The Left Behind" Series and Todd Starnes of Fox News.
One of the best classes that I took was with Vonda Skelton. She is a fabulous speaker and taught us all the tricks of the trade. The most exciting part of the conference was that my Bible study, "The Waiting Womb", won 3rd prize in the Bible study category. God is so good to me and this week was a wonderful time of encouragment.
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
Theme: The second soil is the rocky soil where the seed is planted and develops shallow roots. The plant is easily burned up or blown away by the elements. This seed represents a shallow faith based on the circumstances of life. When circumstances are good in the person’s life they are willing to say they believe in God. God is providing what they want so they believe. When circumstances change and life is challenging or their faith is tested they quickly walk away from faith because they believe the lie that God should demonstrate his love by giving them an easy comfortable life. This faith will not stand the test of time and this seed represents the person who walks away from faith because they don’t get what they want in life. However true belief in Christ always points to hope. What may appear hopeless and helpless can be God’s greatest work in our lives. The cross is not the end! After the cross there is the resurrection!
Scripture: Matthew 13:5-6, 20-21
“Others fell on the rocky places where they did not have much soil and immediately they sprang up, because they had no depth of soil. But when the sun had risen they were scorched and because they had no root they withered away.”
“The one on whom seed was son on the rocky places, this is the man who hears the word and immediately receives I with joy, yet he has no firm root in himself but is only temporary and when affliction or persecution arises because of the word , immediate he falls away.
1. What did the seeds that fell on rocky places do immediately?
2. What did the sun do to the seeds?
3. Why were the seeds scorched?
4. What do the seeds that fell on the rocky places represent?
5. How are the roots of these seeds described?
6. What happened to the man who face persecution because of his faith?
This second group of seeds is like those that people who hear the gospel, they quickly have a major life change, but the "high" of their new found salvation quickly goes away and they are back to their old life. This is why it is so important that the church provides opportunities for new Christians to deepen their roots of faith. Adults and Youth can benefit from classes that teach them how to study the Bible in an in-depth manner. Children could benefit from discipleship classs and programs such as AWANA.
7. What are some ways that you deepen your faith?
8. Who helped you strengthen your faith?
9. How would you be willing to serve the local church in order to deepen the
faith of new Christians?
Other Texts: Romans 8:38, James 1:2-4, John 19:30
“For I am convinced that neither death nor life nor angels nor principalities nor things present nor things to come nor powers nor height nor depth nor any other created thing will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
10. List the things that can not separate your from the love of God?
11. Can we ever be separated from the Love of Christ?
This verse should be encouraging to new and old believers, that no matter what they have done or may do, once they believe in Christ…NOTHING…can separate them. There are many sects of Christianity that believe that you can loose your salvation. But this verse clearly shows that once you are saved, your are always saved.
“Consider it all joy, my brethren when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
12. When you face a trial how should you look at it?
13. What does the testing of your faith produce?
14. Why is it important to strengthen your faith?
“Therefore when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said IT IS FINISHED! And He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.”
15. What did Jesus say on the Cross?
16. How does this give you hope?
When Jesus was on the cross, dying for your sins and the sins of the whole World, his final words were IT IS FINISHED. This is encouraging to Christians, in knowing that once we have believed in Christ and accept Him in our lives…IT IS FINISHED. Our salvation is based on what Christ did on the cross not on what we have or have not done.
Read text: Acts 9:10-18
1. In Damascus, what was the name of the disciple that received the vision
about Saul’s conversion?
2. Where did God tell Ananias to go in his vision?
3. What was Ananias’s initial response to the vision?
4. Why was Ananias afraid of Saul (now Paul)
5. What mission did God have planned for Saul?
6. Did Ananias follow God’s instructions that were given to him in the vision?
7. What happen to Saul’s eyes when Ananias touched him?
8. Once Saul could see again, what was the first think that he did?
In one of the greatest stories of redemption in scripture we see Saul, the persecutor of the church, saved by the grace of Jesus Christ. No one is beyond the reach of God=s redemptive power. It does not matter who we are or what we have done, redemption is available to all! Saul=s immediate response to being redeemed and set free was to step out on faith and be baptized. Baptism shows
the world that we have been redeemed!
9. Would you have had the guts to go talk with Saul, if you were fully aware
of all the “sinful acts” he had done?
10. Is there someone in your life right now that you feel is “too sinful” to
Why is Baptism so important to a Christian?
Baptism is one of the two sacraments of Christ that we as New Testament Christian practice. What is a sacrament? A sacrament is a tradition, practice or visual that represents the grace of Jesus Christ. The two sacraments that are practiced in the Christian faith are Baptism and The Lord’s Supper. The Lord’s Supper represents to us the death of Jesus. The bread stands for Jesus’ flesh that was pierced and the wine/grape juice represents the blood that Jesus spilt while he was on the cross. Baptism represents the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. During baptism, when a person is standing in the water, this represents his live before Christ. The person is dirty and unclean. As the person is dunked under the water this represents the person dying to his old life of sin and death. Then as the person is raised up out of the water, it represents the person’s new life in Christ, cleansed from his sin.
Read Text: Acts 8:26-40
1. Where did God tell Philip to go?
2. Who did Philip meet on the road?
3. What was the Ethiopian reading?
4. What did Philip tell the Ethiopian?
5. What was the Ethiopian’s response?
One important piece of information about salvation and spontaneous baptism is seen here in the passage about Philip and the Ethiopian. Even though the Ethiopian was immediately baptized after his salvation, Philip had already thoroughly explained the meaning of the death, burial and resurrection of Christ to the Ethiopian. The Ethiopian understood what salvation meant and it was not a rushed into decision. The Ethiopian heard the truth of Jesus and His free gift of salvation. The truth was explained to him by someone who was already walking in the truth. Finally the Ethiopian responded to the truth and the explanation, and was baptized.
6. If you have accepted Christ’s salvation, have you been baptized?
7. Tell about your baptism
Friday, April 23, 2010
"Now as they were traveling along, He entered a village; and a woman named martha welcomed Him into her home. She had a sister called Mary, who was seated at the Lord's feet, listening to His word. But Martha was distracted with all her preparations; and she came up to Him and said, "Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving along? Then tell her to help me.!"
This morning Ava and I ran some errands and then got home. Ava was playing in her little play area in the kitchen and I was putting up dishes and wiping down the cabinets and countertop. I had just poured myself a cup of coffee and I look over and Ava was pulling out her tea party set. She looked at me and smiled. At first I thought about all the housework I needed to be working on while she was entertaining herself. But then I thought about how fast she is growing up and I did not want to miss out on a "mommy and daughter moment". So I set aside my cup of coffee and my "to-do" list and I sat down and had a tea party. Ava and I were joined in our tea party by her Cabbage Patch dolls and Curious George.
This scripture above and the real life experience that I had this morning just reminded me to put everything in my life into the correct perspective. In less then 18 years Ava will be graduating from high school and moving on into the exciting future that God has for her. She may be going on the mission field, entering college or starting a career. I don't want to miss a moment or take for granted the time that God has given me with my precious daughter. My calling as a mother is to invest in the spiritual, emotional, educational and physical life of my child. When Ava is grown up and she looks back at her childhood will she remember the perfect house that I kept or will she remember that I took the time to have a tea party?
Sunday, April 18, 2010
Today at church we had "testimony day". It was a time when several of the church member were asked to share about their lives before Christ, how Christ changed their lives and how thier life is different today. As I sat in the service I could not help but think about the parable of the sower. The basic story line is this. A farmer goes out to his field to pant some seeds. The seed represent the gospel. Some of the seeds land on the path and the birds quickly come and eat them up. Some seeds fall on the rocky land, where there is little soil. They spring up quickly and then because they do not have any roots that die. Then there are others that grow amongst the thorns. But as they grow, so do the thorns and they are choked out. Finally there is a group of seeds that is sown into the good soil and they grow and produce many, many healthy plants.
How can this parable be applied to our present day church life in regards to evangilism and discipleship. The first group of seeds that are thrown on the path and quickly eaten up by the birds, can represent when witnessing to a group of people that are hard to the gospel or just do not understand the point of salvation and life-change and they simpley walk away. The second group of seeds are like those that people who hear the gospel, they quickly have a major life change, but the "high" of their new found salvation quickly goes away and they are back to their old life. The third group of seeds that fall amongst the thorns represent those who find salvation but continue to surround themselves with people that bring them down in their faith and do not encourage them to grow in their walk with the Lord. They never make any kind of major life decisions in order to grow thier faith or improve their lives, they simpley let life just happen and eventually their faith dwindles. The last group of seeds are those seeds that fall on the good ground and grow and flourish. These are the people that accept the gospel, have a life- changing experience in Christ and then and this is important, grow in their faith. They attend church, get invovlved in a small group or Sunday School and deepen their faith each day with a quiet time. Day by day, week by week, year by year their knowledge and faith grows and their roots of salvation deepen and strengthen.
So the question is what type of seed are you? What type of seed do you want to be? Unlike literal seeds that do not have the means to move or change, you have that opportunity. One of my favoirite quote is, "God accepts you just the way you are, but loves you too much to keep you that way." GROW, FLOURISH, NURTURE OTHERS!
Thursday, March 18, 2010
Psalms 37:4, "Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart."
Isaiah 26:8, "Yes, Lord, walking in the way of Your Truth, we wait eagerly for You, for Your name and Your renown are the desire of our souls."
Growing up all I wanted to do was to be a wife and a mother. As a child I would spend hours playing make-believe with my dolls and Barbies. In kindergarten my favorite center was the family life center, because I loved being the mommy. Even in college, when others would be discussing the successful careers they wanted in their future, all I was thinking about was getting married and having babies. Yet, college came and went and still not knight in shining armor. I then went onto seminary and again still no prospects of being a wife and a mother. After recieving my masters degree I went on to work at an incredible mega-church! While on staff I poured myself into the ministry and God granted me such great peace as I served Him with my life. Shortly after coming on staff the church began a large building program and the creation of a community playground on the church grounds. I had the great privilege of helping plan some details of the playground and was even there for the ground breaking. During the ground breaking ceremony, I walked along the land and prayed over it.
A few weeks before the openning of the new building and new playground every member of the church had an oppurtunity to sign, write a verse or a prayer on the steeple that would shortly be put up on top of the church. I wrote down that I desired to one day be a wife and a mother and wrote down Ephesians 2:10 and Psalms 37:4. I knew God had a great plan for my life and I knew that God knew the deep desires of my heart.
Then the prayer that I had placed on the steeple, were answered in a wonderful way! I met my Godly, handsome, amazing husband. Then a few year later, after a heartwrenching journey to become pregnant, we had our precious daughter. Then today, God revealed to me and reminded me, that His timing and His plan is perfect. I walked onto the community playground, that years earlier I had planned and prayed over, with my precious daughter in my arms! We played, had a picnic, enjoyed the swings and climbed through the tunnels. My heart was full and my eyes blinked away tears of joy and thankfulness!
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Title: Where is the Love?
Theme: The mark of a Christian life is to be love! We are called to love because Christ first loved us.
Scripture: 1 John 4:11-14
“Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us. By this we know that we abide in Him and His in us, because He has given us His spirit. We have seen and testify that the Father has sent the son to be the Savior of the world.”
1. If we know and love God how should we act?
2. What has God given us to abide (live in) us?
3. God sent Who into the world to be the Savior?
4. Does your life reflect your walk with Christ?
According to verse 12 the only way the world will see the love of God is if the people of God are a picture of love. If Christ is the center of our life than love will be the fruit that is seen by the world. A life led by the Spirit of God will show the love of God to the world.
Galatians 5:22 states, “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.”
5. List all the words that describe the Spirit
6. Do you have these qualities in your life?
7. Which ones do you need to work on?
John 15:5 states, “I (Christ) am the vine, you (Christians) are the branches, he who abides in Me and I in him he bears much fruit for apart from Me you can do nothing.”
8. Who is the vine?
9. Who are the branches?
10. How can we as Christians “bear fruit”?
Read John 13:34-35, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another even as I have love you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
John 15:12-13, “This is my commandment that you love one, another just as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this that he lay down his life for his friends.”
11. How have you shown love to those around you?
12. What may you need to “lay down” in order for those around you to see Christ in your life?
Read the words of the lyrics to,
“If We are the Body”
It's crowded in worship today
As she slips in trying to fade into the faces
The girls teasing laughter is
carrying farther than they know
Farther than they know
But if we are the body
Why aren't His arms reaching?
Why aren't His hands healing?
Why aren't His words teaching?
And if we are the body
Why aren't His feet going?
Why is His love not showing them there is a way?
There is a way
A traveler is far away from home
He sheds his coat and quietly sinks into the back row
The weight of their judgmental glances
Tells him that his chances are better out on the road
Jesus paid much too high a price
For us to pick and choose who should come
And we are the body of Christ
Jesus is the way
Title: Fearless Love
Scripture: 1 John 4:15-18
“Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him and he in God. We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment. Because as He is, so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.”
1. How can you have God in your life?
2. God is what?
3. How can you have confidence on the day of judgment?
4. Is there fear in love?
5. What does perfect love cast out?
God is love. As Christians we have God living in and through our lives. We should have love in our hearts and demonstrate it with our actions and lives.
First Corinthians 13:4-7 states, “Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous. Love does not brag and is not arrogant. Love does not act unbecomingly, it does not seek its own, is not easily provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered. Love does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things and endures all things.
6. What traits of love do you need to work on?
7. Do you demonstrate these “love traits” to those around you?
There is no fear in love because there is no judgment in love. For all who abide in God’s love there is no reason to fear. Through Christ we have the power to love the unlovable because His love is our power. When we truly experience the love of God there is no reason to fear.
Read John 15:8-11
“My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be My disciples. Just as the Father has loved me, I have also loved you, abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love just as I have kept My father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you and that your joy may be full.”
8. How is God glorified?
9. How can we be full of joy?
In His earthly ministry when Christ was asked, “What is the greatest commandment,” Jesus answered, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind and to love your neighbor as yourself.” Everyone around is our neighbor. It does not matter whether they are just like us or very different. God has called us to love those around us, not because it is easy to do but because we need to demonstrate God’s love in our lives.
Title: Lover or Liar
“Share the Gospel always, use words only if necessary.”
Scripture: 1 John 4:19-21
“We love because He first loved us. If someone says, “ I love God,” and hate his brother, he is a liar, for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen.?
1. Why do we love God?
2. If someone says he loves God but does not love those around him, what is he called in this scripture passage?
3. Give an example of a time when you DID NOT show love to those around you.
4. Give an example of time when you DID show love to those around you.
Actions speak louder than words. We cannot love God without loving people. The way that we demonstrate God’s love is to show that we love people regardless of who they are or what they have done.
Read 1 John 2:4-6
“The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him: the one who says he abides in Him ought to himself walk in the same manner as He (Jesus walked).
“If you are going to talk the talk, then you better walk the walk”
5. Give an example of how you can “walk the walk” when it comes to your faith and love in Christ.
Read: Matthew 5:43-44
“You have heard that it was said, You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say to you love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”
6. Who does God command us to love?
7. Give an example of when you had to “love your enemy/enemies”?
Read: Leviticus 19:18
“You shall not take vengeance, not bear any grudge against the sons of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself, I am the Lord.”
8. What does God command us NOT to do?
9. What does God command us to do in this passage?
10. Why is it hard not to hold a grudge or take vengeance on those who have hurt us or someone we love?
11. Give an example of a time when you had to love your neighbor and not take vengeance.
Read: Matthew 22:37-40
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the prophets.”
12. How can you love the Lord with all your heart?
13. How can you love the Lord with all your soul?
14. How can you love the Lord with all your mind?
15. Give an example of how you can you love your neighbor as yourself?
16. Are we showing that we are a lover of God because we love people or are we showing that we are a liar because our actions do not line up with our words?
The Lost Son
As a little kid did you ever “run away”?
How did you parents react when you came back?
Read Luke 15:11-24
1. Which son asked for his inheritance early?
2. Did his father give it to him?
3. How long did the money last? (look at verse 13)
4. What job did the son have to do once he lost his job?
5. In order to get away from feeding the pigs, what job was he willing to do at his father’s house?
6. Describe his father’s reaction when the lost son came home?
The youngest son arrogantly went to his father and demanded his inheritance. In the Jewish culture, to demand ones inheritance was as if you where saying “I wish you were dead”! The father lovingly gave his demanding son what he desired. It did not take very long for the young son to run out of money and to run out of friends. Since he had no place to go and no money to spend, he took the only job available and that was feeding pigs. The son was so desperate for food, that he even started sharing his meals with the pigs. Because of his sin, he knew his father would not welcome him home as an heir, but the son was willing to become a slave, as long as he was under the same roof and protection of his father. As the young son, still smelling of pig slob, trudged up the walkway towards his house, something astonishing occurred. His father, in his fancy clothes, hiked up his tunic and ran towards his son. He hugged and kissed the son, not caring that he too now had the stench of pig on himself. Not only did the father welcome the son back into his household, but the father welcomed the son back into his heart as his son.
7. Have you ever said a very hurtful thing to you parents or have been told something hurtful by your child?
8. How did you react?
9. Have you ever done such great sin or disappointed God that you felt like He would never forgive you?
10. How did you feel once God forgave you?
Read Romans 8:35-38. See that nothing, absolutely nothing can separate you from the love of Christ.
“It costs God nothing so far as we know, to create nice new things; but to convert rebellious wills cost him crucifixion.”
Nothing, absolutely nothing can separate you from the love of Christ. Once you have accepted Christ’s forgiveness and salvation, no sin can separate us from His love, mercy and grace!
The Other Son
Growing up, did you ever have sibling rivalry??
What activity did you and your siblings compete in the most?
Did you ever feel like your parents “like” your brother or sister more then you?
Read Luke 15:25-32
1. Notice the first few words of verse 25, “Meanwhile, the older son was in the field”. The older son was being responsible, doing what he was told. Do you ever get tired of doing the right thing??
2. What was going on when the older brother came in from the field?
3. What was his reaction?
4. What did the father say to him to try to get him to come into the party?
5. What did the father say belonged to the older son?
6. Why did the father want to celebrate the return of the younger brother?
The older son was very frustrated with his father for having the party for the younger son. The older son had done what was right. He had stayed at his father’s side. He had worked the fields while his younger brother was out carousing with loose women and getting drunk on wine. The older son had never asked anything from his father. The younger son had asked for everything from his father, and in receiving it, squandered it away. Yet, when the younger son returned he was given a great celebration! To the older brother this did not seem fair. This is the reaction that many Christians have when a lost soul has come to know the Lord.
7. What has been your reaction when a lost person comes to know Christ?
8. Have you ever felt jealous of someone who had a very sinful past gain more recognition once they became a Christian?
Instead of being jealous of that Christian who “sowed their wild oats” and then were saved, we should rejoice in their salvation. We should also rejoice in the fact that we were spared some of the scars created by their created by their sinful behavior.