Providence, Philip Phillips and Rosemary

I will not even begin to make excuses for the lack of blogging in the last several months.  Let me just say that I’ve been a little busy.  I no longer live in the wild west.  It’s more like the southwest.  Yep, we are Texans now.

Sometime about a year ago, we began getting hints that a move was in our near future.  This really came as no surprise, our average tenure in each of our homes has been 3 to 4 years.  It looked like the move would occur this summer, which it did, and so that gave us plenty of time to pray through the decision and prepare our hearts to say good-bye.  We were also blessed to experience every season in Colorado knowing it was probably our last one as residents of this beautiful state, and so taking none of it for granted.  That being said, this move was definitely the most difficult we have made.  We have total peace that this is the decision God was leading us to, but we have gotten very attached to the people, our church, and the beautiful place we have called home for the last four years.

I don’t know if they have been just bits of grace to console us or if they will hold some greater value in the future, but God has given us several wonderful gifts of confirmation to let us know that, indeed, we are where He wants us.

The  first big gift He has given us is our proximity to one of my dear friends who lives just north of Dallas.  We met in college, and since the moment I met her I have always admired her poise and her character.  We have actually grown closer in the years since college.  She is one of the ladies in my life that I would call a ‘super-woman’. (no pressure!) And, she has put all of her skills and gifts into action in the way she has helped us out in our transition from Colorado to Texas.  I really don’t know what I would have done without her advice and her friendship these last few months.  In addition, she is also the world’s best plant-sitter.

Sometimes my husband is a little weird.  In a very lovable, wonderful way.  But, weird.  We had some Rosemary growing in a pot on our patio in Colorado, and he decided that this Rosemary was going to make the journey to Dallas.  Yes, they sell Rosemary in Texas.  But, this was a particularly average Rosemary plant, and it was very important to him.  He began working in Texas several weeks before we all made the move.  Our moving company does not transport plants, so he placed the precious, everyday Rosemary in the back of his jeep, drove it 900 miles, and delivered it into the loving hands of my sweet friend, who had accepted the duty of caring for it until we were settled in our new home.  The exciting journey of the Rosemary doesn’t stop there, but you will have to read more of the post to get to the exciting conclusion of our fragrant herb.

The second little gift God gave us was just a ‘coincidence.’  I could blog for pages about the process of finding a home in Texas.  We made so many offers on houses that I was reciting real estate contracts in my sleep.  But, each offer and then even a contract on a home did not work out for various reasons, until Richard ventured up (with the help of our amazing real estate agent.  seriously.  I love her.  If you need a recommendation in the Dallas area, please let me know) into a small town on the north side of the city and fell in love with a neighborhood and a house.  So we made an offer.  It was accepted.  We closed in 2 1/2 weeks.  It was a miracle.  But, not a coincidence.  The coincidence is that the family who owned the house we bought in Texas- moved to Broomfield, Colorado.  Not to Kansas City, Missouri or Nashville, Tennessee or Seattle, Washington.  Not even the Denver ‘area’.  They moved to Broomfield, the very same small city that we were moving away from.  THAT is pretty cool.  Thanks, God.

The third gift has been another big one.  We know a precious family in Denver.  They did not live super close to us, actually about 20-25 minutes away from us, but we went to church together.  They have a daughter who is the same age as our Caroline  They are really genuine, wonderful people.  And, it turns out they have family in the city we moved to.  And, on the first day of school, Caroline introduced herself to her sixth grade homeroom class and told them that she had just moved from Denver, and a sweet girl near her asked if she happened to know her cousin.  Which, of course, Caroline did.  She is the one from the precious family in Denver that went to our church.  AND,  Caroline is not just in homeroom with their cousin, it turns out we actually live on the same street as them!  They have become some of our first new friends here and we already like them.  A whole lot.  A sweet, God-loving family right down the street that is connected to our Colorado faith family.  Thanks, God!

Last spring, we watched the show American Idol.  We were rooting for the winner, Philip Phillips, all along.  Even if you don’t watch Idol, you would know who Phillips is if you saw any Olympic coverage this summer.  His song ‘Home’ was played as the intro music to a lot of the broadcasting.  It kind of became our theme song during the move, too, especially for the kids.  Caroline was actually the first to say that this song described her life this summer…boy, that just grips my heart, to tell you the truth.  There is no telling how brave that girl can be sometimes…

Anyway, the lyrics are simple.  You can listen if you click here.

‘Hold on, to me as we go
As we roll down this unfamiliar road
And although this wave is stringing us along
Just know you’re not alone
Cause I’m going to make this place your home

Settle down, it’ll all be clear
Don’t pay no mind to the demons
They fill you with fear
The trouble it might drag you down
If you get lost, you can always be found

Just know you’re not alone
Cause I’m going to make this place your home’

Our first church visit in Texas was with our new friend/neighbors.  They go to one of the big churches here in Dallas.  BIG churches…it was a very different experience for us, but also a really good one.  They showed a video to celebrate the anniversary of one of their new campus sites, and during the video, guess what music they played.  Yes, it was our theme song:-)

Every step along the way, God has assured us of this truth:  No matter where we go, He is there, and He will make it home.

As for the Colorado Rosemary… well, it died.  Not because my friend neglected it, but because it was just spent out.  But, the first weekend of working in our new yard, we saw something in the corner of our yard that somehow we had not noticed before.  It was a pot with something pitiful in it.  So pitiful, it took us a little while to figure out what it was.  Rosemary.  It had been sitting, forgotten, in a corner for almost 8 months, almost completely unattended.  Yet, it survived.  We moved it to a sunny spot, watered it and it is now thriving.  Have you heard the phrase, ‘bloom where you are planted’?  Yeah.

In the hands of the Master Gardener , we all can bloom in the home where He plants us.  Our time in Colorado cannot ever be compared with another experience.  It was unique and special and we will carry our friendships and lessons learned there for the rest of our lives.  Now it is time for a new season of growth, though, and I cannot wait to see what God has in store for the Texas garden.  He is so good.

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Prayer List Perspective

There is nothing like a good dose of perspective.  Especially here in middle class America.  I have a tendency to make thunderstorms out of spring showers.  But, I am always humbled when I take a look at my prayer list that includes my friend who is going through radiation over the next five weeks to treat a tumor on her brain stem.  Or another friend who lost her job last week.  Or a woman grieving the death of her 17 year old son.

Or my friend Mary Jane who lives in Uganda, a country in which the people face challenges like getting attacked by crocodiles while fetching water and dangerous political unrest and oppression.  There are lots of bugs in Uganda, but no Super Targets.  She shares her heart and her daily reality in a very poignant and honest way at Dennisons in Uganda.  It is amazing stuff.

Last week I heard a story on the radio about a North Korean girl who finally found someone in the ‘black market’ who could give her a Bible.  She had been searching for a Bible for eleven years.  She also faces a severe prison sentence if she is caught in possession of that precious book.  How often do I have to wait even eleven months for something I want or need much less risk imprisonment for it?

Not to say my troubles are completely insignificant or can’t end up being used for a good purpose.  But, it sure does my soul some good to get perspective.  It leads me to begin my prayers with so much genuine thanksgiving for the blessings and gifts that God has showered on me.  I know that real storms will come, as they do for us all.  They are powerful tools God uses to test our faith and develop our perseverance.   In the mostly sunny meantime, though, I have to choose not to let the occasional drizzle bring me down.

Just Do the Thing

Here I am.  I am still here.

The last four months were kind of an unexpected sabbatical from blogging.  It has been a really good time for me to focus on things at hand and get some good perspective.  Okay, the first few months I was just busy or lazy, but the last few weeks have been all about a new perspective and a fresh motivation.

Many years ago I was in a bible study group with several other wonderful women. (whom I love to pieces and miss like crazy!)  We took it upon ourselves to stop studying out of the usual published book format and instead to just study God’s word bit by bit.  We would each break down and analyze the same passage of scripture during the week, and then get together and compare our notes and impressions.  It was studying the word of God.  Plain, pure and simple.  We worked our way through several books of the New Testament and eventually landed on the book of James.  Yikes.  I still have all my notes from that time, but I have to say that my clearest memory of that particular part of the study was just – phew!  I can check that one off the list and be done!!  Ironically, my dismissal of James at the time goes against some of the very behaviors James teaches on.  And, perhaps one of the reasons God led me and my co-leader to pursue teaching a semester on James this spring.

The book of James is just a relatively short letter towards the back of the New Testament.  Why so intimidating?  Well, for those who are unfamiliar, the book of James is a very direct and practical book for Christian living.  Similar to, say, Proverbs, in that so much of it can be put directly into physical practice.  In my humble opinion, it is confrontational and challenging.  If you know me, you know that I am an organized, Type-A, list-making girl.  Therefore, it should be natural that these more practical books of the Bible would appeal to me…they are like a checklist of what ‘to do’ to be a Christian.  WRONG.  Yes, they are a checklist.  The only problem is that they reveal how many things I am not checking off the list most of the time.  I just don’t know if I can face an old checklist that I have not completed, much less one that will show just how insincere and disobedient I can be at times.  Which is exactly why it is good and time for me to dig into the book of James.  I can’t stand a coward…especially one in the mirror.

At this time I have really only gone deep only through the middle of the 2nd chapter of James.  What I have gotten a hold of so far is that there would appear to be two mega-themes in these chapters.  I call them mega cause they’re big to me.  The first would be that true faith results in actions.  The second would be that mercy triumphs over judgment (vs. 2:13).  But, on top of both of these themes I have sensed an even bigger message, which would simply be that God is God.  He is so much more amazing and worthy of praise than we could ever comprehend.  Once we genuinely recognize this truth it will manifest itself in practical ways.

First, it shows through our actions.  James 1:22 says, “Do  not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves.  Do what it says.” God has given us the privilege of being His, here on earth, and we bear the awesome honor and responsibility to reflect Him to the world so that they can know Him, too.  I don’t want to miss that!  Practically, I need to study and then obey his Word.  Put hands and feet on my faith.  Some ways of doing that are to care for the poor, widows and orphans, and to not be ‘polluted by the world’ – in other words not choosing worldly values over Christ’s.  To rein in my tongue (yep, that one stings), be “quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry”vs.19.  More often than not, the things He calls us to do don’t come naturally to me as a ‘passionate’ woman (that’s my husband’s word for me), but if I blend into the world, how will anyone recognize God in me?

Secondly, the truth of God’s awesomeness is manifested in the mercy I show others.  This has to begin with my heart.  I cannot allow favoritism to shadow how I consider or treat others, regardless of their appearance, background or status.  But, if I really think about it, favoritism can be so much subtler with me.  We all have relationships that are more intimate than others.  The apostle Paul was obviously close with Timothy.  This is not a warning against intimacy.  It’s a warning about treating them differently in my heart.  Let’s face it, we often give those we are closest to more of a pass with some things we wouldn’t let others get away with.  No matter how well we know or don’t know people, we can’t allow favoritism to rule our judgment.  If favoritism was a God value, let me assure you, I would not be a member of the in-crowd.  He is a loving, merciful God.  He has brought me out of the pit.  It wasn’t pretty.  It was grace and mercy from a loving heavenly Father that did it.  Favoritism has no place in Him, and should have no place in my faith in Him.

My new motivation is not to check things off the Christian ‘to do’ list.  It is to recognize everyday that Christ is worthy, God is worthy, of me giving up my worldly habits in order to look a little more like Him so that others can experience the mercy He has already shown us all through the sacrifice of His son.  But, as James would say – motivation isn’t enough. Just do the thing!

Out of the Ashes, Beauty

It’s hard to believe that ten years have passed since the attacks of September 11, 2001.  This week, as I have been reflecting on the events of that day, I found myself peering back in time, like through a telescope, at the girl I was ten years ago.  Yes, I was 25, but I was just a girl.  I still am!

My oldest daughter was born in June of 2001, so I have a very visible marker of the time that has passed since that fateful day.  We had just moved to a new city about a month before her birth.  I remember that time as being challenging and insecure and wonderful, all at once.  New location, new baby, new job, as I had decided to leave my paid employment to stay at home full time.

Some of the ticks on my timeline since then represent difficult seasons we have lived through.  Two consecutive miscarriages, a time of self-imposed isolation from God, struggles and loss in my extended family.  But, they are accompanied with so much to be thankful for – a flourishing marriage, two more healthy babies, growth and maturation spiritually, forming lifelong friendships.

There are times we are caught up in some pattern of life that is making us miserable, and we think – I am never going to stop feeling this horrible or frustrated.  And, it can seem like those dark days go on forever.  Until we are standing at the end of a decade looking back, realizing that in the bigger scheme of things those days don’t look as big as they felt on the timeline of the last ten years, much less an entire lifetime.  Yet, even though time makes our toughest seasons look smaller, they are still a significant force that molds us into who we are when we put them in the hands of the Heavenly Potter. (Isaiah 64:8)

When I was younger, my testimony was all about me.  My teenage angst and pain.  My emptiness.  My needs.  And, yes, by the way, God saved me.  But, did I mention me?  I have found that this level of self-involvement tends to accompany immaturity, and I was very immature.  What amazes me is how God has transformed that testimony into the truth that it is all about Him.  How others see Him through me.  What amazing things He has done.  Because He is Almighty God who loves us and He is glorious.  I can give specific examples of God’s mercy and grace on me through the years, but they are not nearly as powerful as seeing the big picture (or at least, the portion of it that has been lived to this point!)  Trust me, whatever bad choice you could think of – I’ve probably already made it at some point.  But, as selfish, foolish and arrogant as I have been at times – God’s grace has brought me to where I am today.  He has taken little broken puzzle pieces and placed them together perfectly.  Not that I am perfect – noooo.  Or finished, for that matter!  But, if I had been left to my own devices I would not be who and where I am today.

I did not lose someone that I knew personally in the World Trade Center, Pentagon, or a Pennsylvania field that day now ten years ago.  For those of you who did, I cannot even attempt to imagine what the last ten years have been like.  What sorrow and loss you have known.  What healing, joy, or redemption you have been able to experience in the days since.  But, I do know that even though our experiences might be different, God’s love and desire for all of us is the same.

It just isn’t enough for me to tell you what God has done in my life.  I want everyone I know to be able to brag on what God has done.  I think this special anniversary for our nation is the perfect opportunity for us to be introspective and look back over the last ten years.  Look for God’s mark on your lifetime calendar.  It cannot be missed.  For those of us who are currently in a dark season, I pray that through endurance and getting into God’s word you would know what real hope is, and that hope would encourage you through this time.  When I think of the image of the twin towers with the smoke rising into the clear blue sky, it always summons the following verse to my head, perhaps because of the association with ashes.  It is spoken to God’s people people being held captive in a time of trouble.  Ultimately, Jesus is the fulfillment of this verse for all captives.  If you can relate to that condition, physically or metaphorically, then this is for you (and, I am including all four verses, ’cause they are just that good) –

‘The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.  He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion – to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.  They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.  They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated.’ (Isaiah 61:1-4)

Why we do what we do

Several years ago I watched a miniseries called ‘Band of Brothers’ that tells the story of the U.S. Army’s Easy Company during World War II.  It is such a well done film all around, from the cast and characters to the presentation of soldier life in the European Theatre during the war.  The series consists of ten episodes based on the testimonies of actual Easy Company members compiled with research.  The episodes detail battle moments as well as the hardships these men faced during Easy Company’s entire trek across Europe.  Frostbite, hunger, injuries, missing loved ones, witnessing their friends killed on the battlefield.  I cannot imagine the experience these men had in real life, and none of us really could who were not there.  Personally, though, the thing this movie had me thinking about the most was the insight into the motives of the men who fought.  In the 21st century, we have so much information about the events and horrors of that time that the fighting makes perfect sense to us.  An enlisted man in the 1940’s, however, did not have access to all of the knowledge we have now.  They knew about German aggression in Europe and the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, of course, but they were ignorant of the truly monstrous things going on under Hitler and the Third Reich.  In the series Band of Brothers, it isn’t until episode 9 of 10, after several years’ journey from England to Normandy and then fighting through France that the American soldiers cross over into Germany and come upon a concentration camp in Germany, shocked to discover that the starving and pathetic prisoners were not criminals but Jews and Gypsies.  The episode is called ‘Why We Fight.’

I am so thankful that the script of my life did not have me waiting until my last days before I learned the reason why I should do what I do.  My pastor gave a great sermon on Sunday covering Matthew 6:1-18 – Seeking the smile of God over the Applause of men.  It is hard for me to do it justice with a quick summary, but essentially Jesus is telling us it is okay to be motivated by Heavenly rewards because God gets pleasure out of rewarding His children (see Luke 12:32-34, Hebrews 11:6, and Matthew 6:19-21).  Note that it is heavenly rewards we seek through diligent service on earth, nothing earthly or material, and certainly not the approval of men.  Also, please know that this is not about working to get into heaven.  None of us are capable of that.  There is nothing we could do to get there – Jesus did it all.  This is about after we have surrendered our lives to God, and not settling for a shack in heaven – for the least of what He is offering.

Does this mean if we are foreign missionaries we get a better zip code in eternity?  I don’t think so.  As a stay at home mom whose travel destinations usually include a grandparent and not necessarily a third world country, I certainly hope that this is not a criteria.  I believe we are all called to ‘go’ in the name of God, but where each of us is supposed to ‘go’ depends on Him.  Not that I don’t want to get out to as many nations as possible someday or am justifying rejecting a foreign opportunity for the security of home, but I am also confident that God gave us this place and this life right here and now for a reason.  I don’t want to miss the mission here in my backyard because I’m too busy pining for faraway places.  (For the record, my backyard is almost 2000 miles away from the place of my birth.  Does that count just a little?)

Lost people are lost people, whether they are starving in AIDS infested African villages or deliriously ignorant in suburbia.  It might seem more attractive to reach one people group because we can work through their physical needs, but we also need to take up the challenge to reach people whose material needs are met and so they don’t think they need anything, but they are missing everything!

If I haven’t lost you somewhere in my film review or my mission preaching, I’ll try to make some sense of what I am trying to express.  (I haven’t blogged in FOREVER, I might have forgotten how!!)  As the last weeks of summer have dwindled down and we are facing getting back into our routine, I have gotten a little down-hearted.  Why do we do all this?  What purpose am I serving?  What kind of legacy will I leave?  Does it make a difference if my kids play soccer, take ballet, have a PTO mom?  None of these things seem important in the big scheme of things.  However, who I am to say what God can make important, as long as I do everything to serve and glorify Him.  I mean, He is Almighty God.  If people can see Him through me, then it is bound to be important.  Period.

‘So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.’  (1 Cor 10:31)  If we can honor God with something like our meals, then how much more so in the way we interact with our neighbors, the service we do for those around us, the way we lead our families.  Actually, we can incorporate food into a lot of these things.  Sorry…I’m a Baptist and a southerner, we just love food.  We live life, knowing in the end it’s about pleasing our Heavenly Father and honoring His sacrifice for us, and not about human recognition.  (Not even from other Christians, although we should certainly encourage one another. )  In Band of Brothers the advertisement tagline for the series said ‘There was a time when the world asked ordinary men to do extraordinary things.’  Well, we are all pretty ordinary.  But, we have a God who is extraordinary, and he will use us to do amazing things everyday if we are willing to serve Him.  It is why we should do whatever it is we do.

Footnote:  If you love studying WWII experiences like I do, read Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand.  An amazing true story, a wonderful uplifting ending, I highly recommend!

Foundations and…yardwork?

I would like to begin with a confession.  Always a good place to start, right?  I was memorizing Hebrews 12:1-2 this week, and I started to type it from memory, and there were so many errors in it I am just going to call it a work in progress.  So, I’ll keep working on it, promise.

I still remember my previous memory verse (my mommy mantra), “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”  Proverbs 15:1 – does that make up for it a little bit???

How about:

“So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes from the message about Christ.” Romans 10:17

This is correct from memory!   But, I can take no credit for it – considering I had a lot of help from repeating this verse about 1000 times at Vacation Bible School this week.  And singing it in songs.

Many times.

With lots of awesome, amazing kids.

I had the honor of being a fourth grade leader this year alongside several Godly and strong women.  We are different ages and stages, from high school to having high schoolers, but God knows what He is doing when these things come together.  He is so purposeful in the details, it just blows me away.  And, this week God gave us the gift of new foundations being laid in young hearts.  It was such a privilege and a blessing.

One new foundation in particular stands out to me because it involves a young man that my husband and I have gotten to know over the past year.  He is very smart and a quick learner.  He can be stubborn and unresponsive.  He can be defiant.  He has even developed a reputation for this in his young life.  Over the last 12 months, though, there has been a transformation in him.  He has developed a desire to participate, to answer questions, to learn.  He is also not just striving for negative attention, his heart has been softened.  And, this week he made the decision to give his life to the Lord.

I wish I could describe what an honor it was to get to be a witness to him standing up for Jesus.  To listen to him praying with a humble heart to his Savior.  What a gift it is to see the bigger picture of this past year, to see how God has been drawing this young man closer and closer to him, seeing him soften until he was ready to make the ultimate surrender.  To know there is an even bigger picture – years of family, teachers, the body of Christ working and loving this little life and planting seeds that have been fertilized and watered and resulted in the most important decision he will ever make.  He has chosen the sure foundation:

‘See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.’  (1 Peter 2:6, referring to Isaiah 28:16)

So, I just want to brag on God.  (and, please click here to see more bragging from some wonderful people!) God, who doesn’t have to give us the opportunity to witness the harvest, but sometimes does reveal a glimpse, and what a huge encouragement it is.  Encouragement that no matter how small our role may seem, they are all significant and perfectly coordinated by the Master Gardener.  The apostle Paul wrote about these roles in 1 Corinthians 3:6 – “I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow.”  Even more, it makes me get fired up and motivated.  Because we know, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.”  (Matthew 9:36)  We need to be working the fields in our churches, in our neighborhoods, in our cities, in our prisons, and in all the nations.  Keep it up, God WILL have the harvest!  So, that’s my verse this week:  “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”  (Galatians 6:9)  We don’t always see the results of a little sprinkle of water or the dropping of the tiniest seed, but seeing just one little bloom can give the encouragement to get out there and do some serious yardwork!

Foundations II

“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” (Proverbs 15:1)

I typed that from memory!  This past week as I focused on this verse, I found that the more I thought about it the more easily applied it was.  And, the more I thought about it, the less intentional I had to be in thinking about it.  By the end of the week I was thinking about it before I even got out of bed in the morning.  Joshus 1:8 says, “Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it.  Then you will be prosperous and successful.”  I have always thought to myself, ‘I have millions of things on my mind at once, how can it be I can meditate on the word full-time while also remembering piano lessons, scheduling girl scout events, what I’m going to make for dinner, how I need to prepare for our upcoming visit with family, making time to clean the house, my grocery list, who I am carpooling with this week, whose Birthday cards need to be mailed, how I can be creative in motivating my pre-adolescent to stay current with her math and writing, blah blah blah….’  ( a thrilling glimpse into my deep thoughts)  What I found is that after I intentionally meditated and applied the word for a few days, it became like a background thought for me in everything I did, and so it was applied to everything I did.

Did I mess up?  Don’t be shocked…yes…there was one morning in particular this week I woke up to the lovely sound of sibling arguments at 6:45 am.  Who has the energy to fight at that time of day???  I mean, Mama had not even had her coffee…so, I was pretty harsh with the kiddos.  Did it stir up anger?  Not quite, but the harsh words stirred up some pretty deflated looking faces because their little hearts are still sweet and soft.  The sadness on their faces after I reacted in an angry tone is something that will easily translate into hardened hearts and anger later on in their lives if that is my consistent reaction.  Even though there were a couple relapses into letting anger rule my reaction, I was greatly encouraged to see the results of gentle answers in behavior and response, especially in a few discipline conversations I had with my oldest in dealing with her attitude and responsibilities over the summer.  I also had a lot less mommy-guilt at the end of the day.  So, overall it was a great success.  That is how powerful the word of God is.  Even though we aren’t perfect in the implementation, God will still show us big results if we put forth the effort.  And, we will be prosperous and successful in God’s eyes.  Maybe not the worldly results we want sometimes, but it is the kind of success that lasts forever.

This next week I am putting up a double verse challenge.  My personal verse is an encouragement verse.  Next week is Vacation Bible School, and that can just be an exhausting week.  It is such an awesome opportunity, though, to speak the word of God into young hearts and work alongside some wonderful laborers.  Hebrews 12:1-2, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.  Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”  The second verse is the actual theme verse of VBS, Romans 10:17, “Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.”

This will be a lot more challenging, but I am looking forward to seeing what comes out of it!