How Sweet..

Cousins at their "big" cousin's graduation party....

Sweet Abigail...

Dear Graduate

This is a different kind of post.....please feel free to forward or email it to grads!


Dear Graduate,

Congratulations! God is proud of you. It may be hard to believe you are graduating and entering into a new season of life. This is a new beginning, and as each adventure unfolds, every wrinkle in it will be more exciting than the last! I hope you are making faith a priority in your life.




Isaiah 41:31 says “but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles, they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not grow faint.” I know, Graduate, with God by your side, that you will soar on wings like eagles!




And, of course, at this exciting, sometimes scary time of your life, it is wonderful to remember that God has a SPECIAL plan for you. Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord. “Plans for hope and a future. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you.” God has a special plan and purpose for your life. In fact, Graduate, God has had this plan for you from the beginning of creation! Paul says in Ephesians 1:4-6, “For He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. He chose YOU, Graduate. In love, He predestined us to be adopted as His sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with His pleasure and will- to the praise of His glorious grace which He has freely given us in the One He loves (Jesus).” Peter says, “You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness and into his wonderful light.” (1Peter 2:9)




God loves you! YOU ARE A CHILD OF THE MOST HIGH GOD! Isaiah 43:1 says, “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are MINE!” Never forget, you are God’s child- His Beloved. Isn’t that cool?!



Graduate, I want you to hold on to God’s love as you go away to school or begin life as an "adult." Life will be very different. You will be “free”- free to make your own choices and your own decisions. You will decide how you live your daily life. God says in Jeremiah 6:16, “Stand at the crossroads and look. Ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.” Jesus says in Matt. 11:28-30, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and LEARN FROM ME, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” So, Graduate, when you are burdened and you do have to make choices and decisions- go to Jesus!



There will be many “crossroads” you will come to Graduate. You will face many trials and temptations. I wish it weren’t so, but it is. But, you will learn from your trials and temptations, and they will contribute to your character building! Whether you succeed or fail during your trial, God always brings valuable life lessons from it.

James says (James 1:2-4), “Consider it pure joy, my brothers when you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” So, to mature and be complete, you MUST face trials. And then, (verse 12), “Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life God has promised to those who love Him.”



You will be tempted, Graduate, by alcohol, drugs, and sex. You will have to choose every time which direction you will go. Deuteronomy says that you will have to make choices. God says, “Now, what I am commanding you today is not too difficult. It is not up in Heaven, so that you have to ask someone to ascend to it to proclaim it to you. Nor is it beyond the sea, so that you have to ask someone to cross the sea to bring it back to proclaim it to you. No, the word is very near you. It is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it. See, today I set before you life and prosperity, or death and destruction. For I command you today to love the Lord with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength. (Jesus later adds and with your MIND), to keep his commands, and to walk in His ways. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to His voice, and hold fast to Him.”



Just remember that you are not alone. Even at times when you feel alone, or you feel like you are the only one who believes this, remember that you are NEVER alone! God is with you, and He gives the Holy Spirit to help you. Ephesians tells us, “Having believed (in Jesus as Christ), you were marked in Him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession- to the praise of His glory!” Graduate, you were marked by that seal! You have the Holy Spirit living inside of you! And, it is not some wimpy spirit! Oh, no! 2Timothy says, “You were not given a spirit of timidity or fawning fear, but a Spirit of POWER, OF LOVE, SOUND MIND, AND SELF-CONTROL!" Isn’t that cool? You don’t have to rely on your own will or your own strength, (or strength from professors or friends) but you have the strength of the MOST HIGH GOD LIVING INSIDE OF YOU. Philippians 4 says, “I can do ALL things through Christ, who strengthens me!”




You can’t always make wise choices in your own strength, but you can through Jesus, by the power of the Holy Spirit! Isn’t that AMAZING?



I’ll never forget my 1st night at college. My roommate was my very best friend. We had been friends since 4th grade, and I thought I really knew her. We went to a party our first night at school. I left the party and went back to the dorm before her. I had drank way too much, and passed out on my bed. Well, when I woke up the next morning, she wasn’t there. I was so scared. I didn’t know what happened to her. I didn’t know what I should do. Should I call the police? Should I call her mom? I didn’t know what had happened to her. I was so naive- it never even crossed my mind she would stay out all night. I didn’t even know we were ALLOWED to do that! Well, she was OK. She had decided to stay the night at the place where the party was. She had met a guy there. I never asked if they had sex. I was just so shocked that she felt comfortable to be out alone.




Well, I became “educated” very quickly to “normal” college life and made so many poor choices. I am so thankful that my husband was there, too. We weren’t married yet, but were engaged. I know if I had been “single” at college I would have made so many choices that I would have regretted. You see, at the time, partying is so fun. “Everybody” parties, and goes wild. It seems normal. It seems so exciting, so glamorous. Temptation is always exciting and “fun.” If it weren’t why would we sin? If the apple in the Garden had been wormy and rotten, Eve would never have taken a bite. But, it was luscious and seductive and enticing and inviting.




College is exciting, and it feels like you’re so “grown up” and in control of your life. I felt so “in control.” But, there were many times I was so out of control. I made so many stupid choices. I put myself in danger so many times. It is only by the grace of God that I wasn’t raped or hurt. I thank God that He was watching over me. God is good. Even though I abandoned Him during those years, He never abandoned me. He sent many angels to watch over me. God gives us the Holy Spirit to help us through these times. Paul says in 1Corinthians 10:13, “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful. He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” Isn’t that awesome? God gives us an escape route to help us get out. God will be helping you through!



But, you have to take God with you. When I went to school, I took a vacation from my faith (although it was very weak to begin with). My professors, my friends, the “world” had such an impact on me. They, not my faith, controlled me and my behaviors. But, the Bible says, “Above all else, (above EVERYTHING- classes, relationships, professors’ teachings, TV shows, politics, news media- above ALL else) guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” Proverbs 4:23. Fill your heart daily with God’s word and prayer so that you may have a wellspring of life within you!



I have always been on a quest for knowledge. I was always the “geek” who lived for school. I was always on the dean’s list and enjoyed the challenge of getting all A’s. I have loved acquiring knowledge and research. I get a thrill walking through the library. Essay tests were my favorite, so that I could show off how much I knew! So, when I went to college, I soaked in everything (except God’s Word). I also was performance driven, and success orientated. I wanted to please all of my teachers. I wanted their approval and acceptance. Whatever they said, I took at face value. I never questioned. I learned that to do well, I needed to conform. I just absorbed and conformed. But Paul says in Romans 12:2, “Do not conform to patterns of this world. Instead by transformed by the renewing of your mind.”



Unfortunately, my mind was transformed to reflect the ideals and attitudes of my collegiate experience. By the time I graduated, I had acquired much knowledge and “understanding.” Of course, I had gotten it from professors, media, and my friends. When I left school, I had a set of ideas that I thought were so intelligent and “in touch.” But, by studying God’s Word and growing in my relationship with Him, I see how WRONG I was!




Graduate, you will need to fill your heart and mind with God’s Word so that you can discern what is right and true. You will meet many people at school with different religious beliefs than yours. Many of them will be your favorite teachers. This may confuse you, or make you question your own beliefs and the Truth of God’s Word. Sometimes you may feel foolish for trusting in Jesus. (Notice I said JESUS, not God. For many will believe in “God”, but it will be their own idea of “god”- a god who fits in to THEIR wishes or thoughts of how a “god” should act or believe.)



YOU MUST STAY ALERT! The Bible has so much to say about the world’s “wisdom.”

Graduate, this “wisdom” will SEEM so right and so true. It will make you question your beliefs; it will make you question the Bible and its authenticity and validity. The Bible says in 1Corinthians : “ For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing (unbelievers), but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” And, “Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?” And, “This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words. The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.” And, “Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up." There are many “wise men” at school who will question your faith, who will try to make you feel inferior, less intelligent, and foolish for your beliefs.




But, remember, Graduate, God has given you the Truth and the Truth has set you free! Again, be alert! Don’t take anything at “face value.” Measure the “facts” against God’s Word. And, remember, God has already CHOOSEN you! It is not an accident you are where you are. God will empower you, enable you, and work through you, if you allow Him to, Graduate.


I kneel before God and pray for you Graduate from Ephesians,

“I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints (other believers), to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know that this love that surpasses knowledge- that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”

Little eyes watching as we....Gather at the Well




“Do as I SAY, not as I DO!”

Did you ever hear your mother say this? Or…have you, exasperated, ever uttered these words?

I have been guilty of saying one thing but expecting another from my children. I teach my children to speak nice words with a sweet tone of voice (no sarcasm!), but have been known to say the very same things I forbid. I tell them to be patient, but expect IMMEDIATE results when I want them. I warn against complaining, but find myself whining about someone else’s driving skills. I tell them how important it is to extend grace to others, but how well do I fare at it?

Saying one thing and doing another IS something children notice. They can spot hypocrisy a mile away!

Likewise, 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. THEN they can train the younger women….



Little eyes are watching. I know it so much more important to live what I say…not say how I live. (My mother always said, “Actions speak louder than words.”)


Little eyes see if I am walking in the fruit of the Spirit- love (and forgiveness), joy (no matter what the circumstances), peace (NOT stress), patience (including non-verbal sighs), kindness (even when it is not “convenient), gentleness (even when I am tired), goodness (to everyone, even those who aren’t “good” to me) and SELF-CONTROL (do I need to elaborate???). They see if my walk is “real”.

You’ve heard it said, “Walk the walk, not just talk the talk.”

And, as our daughters grow into mature young women, watching Godly mothers truly LIVE OUT their love for the Lord, they see that faith is REAL. Living a Godly life is not just following a set of rules or a regiment, but it grows out of a RELATIONSHIP with a living God. Younger mothers in the church (and at the park and on the soccer sidelines) are drawn to a Light…..a love, a joy, and peace that they want for their own families. We become a reflection of Him…a display of His splendor.

This “attraction” doesn’t result from us telling them how to live, but when they see the fruits of how we are living for themselves. THEN, the mentoring process begins...... THEN we can share with them what God has taught us. We can share with them what God’s wonderful Word says. THEN we can “train the younger women.”

But, first, we must live it out ourselves.



Ponder these two verses, write down what you have learned, what God has shown YOU, and please join us At the Well. Make sure to go to the Well, link there and invite others to share in the conversation today!

Likewise, 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. THEN they can train the younger women….. (Titus 2:3-4, emphasis mine).

Why is the “way we live” so important?

Why does Paul tell Titus to first teach the older
women to “be reverent in the way they live” before they can train younger women?

Thinking about your own life, do you have mentors you can LOOK to….watching them live their lives reverently, AND, are there others (children, younger women in the church, friends of your children) who are watching you live out your life? Is there a difference between what you SAY and how you LIVE?


The Future Generation....YouTube...and sparklers

Last night my (newly) 13 year old had a sleepover for his birthday. So, Andrew and 7 other 13ish boys slept outside in the tent. Andrew has gone to school with these guys since kindergarten.

We laughed at Paul Blart (we project it on the garage wall outside like a drive-in....very cool!), grilled burgers at 10 PM, lit sparklers...very fun.

It was awesome watching these BIG boys (most of them taller than me) play like little kids hitting a baseball around the yard, swinging on the swing set, chasing each other....

But, around 2 AM, they started watching some YouTube videos. Some were silly videos THEY had made- you know pretending to be BIG FOOT, bathroom humor- usual BOY things. Others were videos that are just posted by the millions of users to YouTube. Some definitely bordering on inappropriate sexual innuendo....(and I am sure they were being "careful" of what they were showing with me there!).

A couple of the boys are atheist, a couple "Christian", going to church, but not living out their faith..... And, I am again reminded of what a different world my son is growing up in.

Not that there haven't been sexual pressures, drugs, and alcohol in the past. I remember being in 6th grade when a neighborhood friend took me into his house and showed me his grandfather's Penthouse collection- a small room with these magazines stacked (I am not exaggerating) to the ceiling. Too embarrassed to throw them away? Still read the hundreds and hundreds of issues? Waiting to sell them? Have no idea why he kept them....

I began drinking when I was in 7th grade....so I know alcohol has been a problem for a long time....

But...

There is such a SATURATION of culture..... Some of these guys (judging by their expertise on navigating YouTube) spend hours on the computer a day. No limits on TV, vidoe games, or movies. One has already battled pornography addiction. None of them (except for Andrew) have a STRONG, personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Listening to them talk last night, two of them are "experts" on evolution.

The enemy is in full assault on this generation.

More than ever, we as Christians have to be a Light in a dark world. We have to speak up. We have to pray for the Lost. We must LOVE them in actual relationships.

One of these guys went to a loving, Christian preschool with Andrew. (Which, looking back, is strange. I don't think his parents are Believers.) Now, he is an atheist. Expert evolutionist. Educated in pornography.

Heartbreaking.

When I look at him, I still see the 4 year old smiling....long, mussy hair. Sweet heart.

Battle going on for his SOUL.

His SOUL.

ETERNITY.

This morning, (after about 4 hours of sleep) the realization again hits me.

We are not playing games.

There is a battle raging.

Another guy leaves for Japan next week to spend the summer with his extended family. Again, such a different world he lives in.....No one he will be in contact with believes in the saving grace of Jesus Christ.

It is not too late for these boys.

Pray for this next generation. We can become cocooned in our "safe" lives, forgetting there are lost souls out there that need the love of Jesus.

Where have I BEEN?????








It's soooo great to be back blogging! I was gone for a week because I was BLESSED to be able to take a wonderful trip with Brian to Baltimore. He was there for a conference and I was able to tag along....


Thanks, mom and dad for taking such good care of the kiddos while we were gone.

I had every intention of blogging on the trip. I even made Brian bring his laptop! But, I didn't even crack it open! We had wonderful time!!! We had a beautiful view of the bay right out of our hotel room window.

BLESSINGS!

Word-Filled Wednesday

Doesn't this make you want to shout from the rooftops?
Raise your arms in adoration?
Do somersaults?
Tell every person you know?
In Christ.....
I am CHOSEN (verse 4, 11).
BEFORE God CREATED the world, He chose me! Before He laid the foundations of the world, He knew me and through Christ CHOSE me....and YOU. Doesn't that blow your mind? Before He spoke the waters, before He created all of the beautiful flowers and trees, before He imagined the fish and the birds and the animals.....He CHOSE us.
I am holy and blameless in His sight (verse 4).
Through Christ, I am a new creation. I am spotless. I am blameless. No guilt. No shame.
I am LOVED and I am ADOPTED as His child (verse 5).
I am no accident. I am no second-thought. There is no regret. I am special. Through Christ, I am an adopted child.....
I am REDEEMED through His blood (verse 7).
I was bought back. There was a price paid. I was purchased by the very blood of Jesus Christ.
I am FORGIVEN (verse 7).
No matter WHAT I have done, it is forgiven. The slate is washed clean. I am white as snow. There is nothing, nothing that the BLOOD of Jesus does not cover. Past mistakes. A life of regret. Abortion. Promiscuity. Adultery. Unbelief. Doubt. Hate. Jesus has taken care of ALL of it. There is no shame. Trade your shame and your sorrow for His forgiveness.
I am INCLUDED (verse 13).
Have you ever been "left out"? Felt like you didn't belong? Felt "different"? Not so with Christ....I am INCLUDED in the Beloved!
I am SEALED (verse 13,14).
God has sealed all of these promises with Him very SELF.... the Holy Spirit. I am marked IN HIM with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance.....
Doesn't that just want to make you SING?
But, Beloved, there IS a "catch."
These promises and blessings ONLY come through the blood of Jesus Christ and to those belonging to Him. It is IN CHRIST that I have these promises.
Have you given your heart to Jesus? Have you accepted the forgiveness, and redemption that comes through His sacrifice? He loves YOU so much...
Please visit Amydeanne for more Word-Filled Wednesday!

I am CHASING THE MOON at Laced with Grace today!

As I walked in the still, quiet air, I was delighted by God’s glory.

It was one of those rare mornings that the moon and the sun were sharing the sky. The sky was beautiful, with blue/gray and pink hues. There were clouds sweeping around the sun, making a breathtaking sunrise.
But, the moon was incredible!
It was a huge, perfect golden circle in the sky.

As I walked, I tried to keep that moon in sight. I knew it wouldn’t last much longer….the later it became and the more the sun rose would chase the moon back into its hiding spot.

As I turned the corner and went on my usual path, and as the moon made its journey, it was now behind me. It began dipping behind houses and trees, and it became harder to find.
As I continued to walk, I kept looking behind me, stretching my neck, trying to catch those last glimpses of the beautiful moon.


To finish reading this devotion, please click here to join me at Laced with Grace today!


Do YOU run?

Do you run? I have NEVER run in my life. I have walked, including power walking for years. In college I worked out in the gym daily, doing aerobics, step aerobics, stair steppers, treadmills, and various weights- both "free" weights and machines.


But, I have never RUN.

It's not that I didn't WANT to run. I have always envied runners when I see them. I longed to be able to run with long strides, sweating, arms flowing. And, it seems that runners perform the activity with such ease!

I have always had a "vision" of me running and a dream of someday running in a marathon. But, every time I tried to run, I would take a few strides, my legs would start burning, and I would just quit.

To finish reading this devotion, please visit me at the Internet Cafe! Simply click here.










Getting to know one another....at the well

Gathering At the Well

Today's topic At the Well is......OURSELVES!

We are asked to share about who we are....What a fun a topic for us to write on today At the Well!


If you have visited my blog before, you would see that I LOVE the Lord! I am abandoned to Him, crazy in love with Him...totally LOST without Him. Click here to read my testimony on how I "got here".......

But, I thought it would be fun to share some things you may not know about me....



I am married to Mr. Wonderful, otherwise known as "Dad" at our house- Brian if he is at work! We are one of those "weird" families where Brian and I call each other "Mom" and "Dad" instead of our names. I guess that is better than "Bunny", which was our pet names for each other BK (before kids!). We started dating when I was 15 and he was 19. I know, I know- HOW could my parents date someone so OLD??????? I guess I probably just told them he was a "sophomore" and they assumed I met a sophomore in high school. Once they got to know him, they fell in love with him before I did! So....we have been together ever since- 26 years. We've had our share of "ups and downs"...but I thank God for Brian. He truly is my best friend.


I am a mom of 5 amazing kids- three girls and 2 boys. We are sometimes louder than I'd like us to be. Definately not "perfect". I make lots of mistakes, but THANKS to the grace of God, I am FORGIVEN...both by my GRACIOUS, loving God and my sweet family. Our oldest son just turned 13 and our youngest just turned 2. When I first started going to Hearts at Home conferences, there was a "track" you could take called "Mothers of Teenagers and Toddlers." I thought "who would be crazy enough to try to raise TEENAGERS and TODDLERS at the same time?????? Well.....we are! It is awesome!

We don't watch much TV, but LOVE the show "24". My favorite quote I read online was "Superman wears Jack Bauer PJs." We also love Fox News- O' Reilly, Sean Hannity, and Greta. That is all of the evening TV we watch. In the morning, I have to have my daily dose of Joyce Meyer! She sets me straight!

We like to go camping in the summer. Yes, we tent camp. Can you believe it???? It is pretty comical....5 kids, two tents, lots of chairs, and a dog! Did I mention a BIG dog???

BK- I was a "teacher." I taught kindergarten for 2 years and 6th grade for 4 years. LOVED it!Still a teacher....just don't get "paid" anymore! LOL! Other interesting jobs I had.....waitress at Red Lobstor, lots of retail- Victoria's Secret, GNC, Brooks (a clothing store), a "greeter" at a car dealership....

Today, I enjoy teaching Sunday School to wee little ones. I also LOVE to "teach" grow-up "Sistahs". I don't really "teach"- just share what God is teaching me through my "messes", trials, mistakes, and triumphs! I also LOVE, LOVE, LOVE to lead worship every summer at our church's Vacation Bible School. I can be the "real me"- totally silly, crazy, loud.... The crowd is HUGE- usually about 200 in both the morning and evening. It is a great outreach to the community and I can share my love for the Lord to both kids and their parents. VBS is a huge blessing to me!

Please take a few minutes to get to know other women at the well this week! Take a few minutes to write about yourself....and link here.