Monday, June 26, 2017

Different?

Five weeks ago I blogged about being different.  In the blog I mentioned the difference between our daughter and son.  Both kids had included us in their "vacation" plans.

Our son and daughter-in-law were going TENT camping, kayaking and hiking.

Our daughter, son-in-law and grand-kids were going to the beach.

TWO OPPOSITE vacations.

We were very hesitant about the tent camping............at 60 years old.....been there and done that and not sure the old bones can handle much more.....  BUT....Roger ordered us an old folks tent and and old folks air mattress.

(Old folks tent.....10 ft. x 17 ft. with a 6 ft. height that sets up instantly.  Smile.  And, old folks air mattress......22" air mattress that pugs up and airs up on its own.)

I am very happy to report that the weather was PERFECT for tent camping.  We were under trees, so it never got very hot inside the tents.  At night, it was so cool, we needed the fire.  And most important........NO RAIN.  That was a first for us.  I'm not sure we have ever tent camped without it raining.

We kayaked for two solid days.........on Dale Hollow Lake and down the Obey River.  And we went on a hike on a deserted island and found a cave.

It was a VERY relaxing and enjoyable few days.

Next....we went to Daytona Beach in Florida.  It rained every late afternoon, but the mornings were beautiful.  Most of the days were partly cloudy, but that is exactly what the doctor ordered for our pale skin.

Our course, our grand-kids spent the night with us while we were at the beach so we got to enjoy them and give mom and dad a break.

It was a VERY relaxing and enjoyable few days.

I say all of this to say................DIFFERENT does not have to be bad.  Many times different is good...................................we should keep and open mind and be willing to try the "different".

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Complete Salvation in Three Parts

Did you know salvation is a three part process?

Already, but not yet. 

With the initial belief and profession, I am His. Justified. Professed with my mouth and believed in my heart - Savior and Lord. Adopted. In God's sight, made right. By the blood of Christ my freedom paid for. His death taking the place of my deserved punishment. I am saved. 

Yet, the transformation of my heart of stone to one of flesh is not complete. I still struggle and wrestle with temptation and, more often than I care to admit, succumb to it. Many times, over and over again the same sin will trip me up. I am learning daily what it means to be a "little Christ," a Christian. He is my Lord and I desperately desire to obey, to make Him proud, to glorify Him -But- like Paul writes, I do the things I don't want to do. And, the things I do want to do, I find myself not doing them. 

I have come a long way. I have learned a great deal. I still have a tremendous journey ahead of me. I am being made like Christ, I am in a state of sanctification. I am still being saved. 

Ah! But the promise I hold to, the thing I know most assuredly, that was proven by Christ's own resurrection and is my victory to claim as well - God will finish the work He has begun in me. Every promise of the Bible is mine to own, to know as truth and to live out. 

The day will come when I no longer have to battle my selfish, prideful, sin nature. This dark world, groaning now, will be completely new. No more war. No more pain. No more tears. It will be as He intended it to be when He created it in the first place. This place will be finally redeemed. 

In the new heaven and on the new earth, where the old will be completely gone and the new wholly established, I will be too. I will be finished. I will be just like Jesus. I will be just as He is. Glorified. My salvation will be done. 

Notice that in this three part salvation, NONE of it is up to me. 

I could not start the process. Jesus did that. While I was still a sinner, dead in my sin, He came and humbled Himself to die in my place. The faith to believe, the circumstances of my place and time of birth, the parents who took me to church, none of these contributing factors and more were up to me to decide. It was all a gift of His amazing grace. 

Once the process was initiated, God placed a piece of Himself- the third part of the Trinity, within my heart. The Holy Spirit working from within, revealing the scriptures, convicting me of my sin, teaching me the way to live, and supernaturally enabling me to do what I can not do on my own. Without His intimate and active involvement, even though I am "saved," I still cannot meet God's standard of Holiness. I NEED Him to live as I am called to live. 

The longer I walk with God, the closer we become, the more I know that only He can rectify all that has gone wrong with His creation. I see and experience how He keeps His word and, as a result, that Jesus alone, when He returns, can fully banish Satan from this realm. When that happens, every knee will in FACT bow and every tongue WILL confess that HE is Savior and Lord. What a day that will be!

I am saved. I am being saved. I will be completely saved - but none of it, my life with all it's trials, is about me, the one being rescued. 

My life and, more importantly, my salvation, this three part process, is all about the ONE who is doing the saving. 

Why did I write all this out here, in this forum for ministers' wives? Ladies! Too many of us don't understand this. We are striving to achieve a salvation on our own by serving and doing. Too many of our church members view their faith as a series of check lists of things they can and cannot, should and shouldn't do. My heart is to teach and encourage Christians to know these things and to live them. 

Let's stop striving for our salvation and start resting in it . . .

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

The Legacy of One Minister's Wife

A local minister's wife died unexpectedly this past weekend.

As I read of her passing, my heart broke and rejoiced in the same beat.

Her death won't be reported in the local paper outside of the obituary page, yet her life is being heralded all over Facebook.

Susan was my oldest daughter's 3rd grade teacher. But I met her a long time before Riley turned 8.

She was the wife of the Minister of Education at FBC Clarksville when we first met. She was plugged in as a leader in the student ministry, teaching Sunday school and chaperoning whatever youth trip was on the calendar.

Susan and Steve's only daughter was -and continues to be- a credit to them both. Even though Jennifer was raised in the preverbal "fish bowl" of the church, she grew under their guidance in grace and truth. By God's grace she broke the mold of the stereotypical "preacher's kid" in all the best ways.

The Griffiths followed God's call to serve a church in a neighboring county. Susan was all in at their new ministry position, again faithfully working with and discipling teens and young adults at her husband's side. Yet she still didn't feel released from her teaching job in the local public school system here in Clarksville. That was a ministry of hers too.

Whether Susan was openly teaching God's word within the halls of a church building or faithfully loving the students, faculty and staff of her elementary school she did it all unapologetically with Christ's grace.

Susan was quick to give God all the glory for growing her faith and allowing her to live her life the way Jesus intended, abundantly. You see, Susan, somewhere in the middle of parenting and, eventually grand-parenting, she never lost her sense of humor or zeal for trying something new.

All this was not is spite of the obstacles God allowed in her life, but was done in and through them.

In writing this, I would do her testimony a disservice if I failed to tell you how she allowed God to carry her through more than one, years' long bought with cancer. Yet, I am sure she would tell you her biggest trial, the circumstances that have kept her clinging to the hope of the cross, was the sudden passing of her beloved Steve.

When he died suddenly one average Wednesday night after leading his regular Bible study, she lived  her faith transparently, openly sharing her loneliness yet praising His faithfulness each day of the nearly 5 years that creeped by since then.

Susan continued to live and to love, embracing her students, her friends, and her family. A beautiful granddaughter was welcomed and adored. Her grandson continue to grow and to be delighted in. Vacations were taken, parties were held, holidays were celebrated all through her identity as God's beloved child.

We all hurt for Jennifer, her husband, and their two littles, who will probably only remember their adoring grandmother through the memories of others. We all long for one more of her hugs. We all wish we could hear her infectious laugh once more.

Every student that sat in her classroom, every teenager who confided in her heart, and countless others who were blessed to know her at any level, rejoiced that this weekend when she was reunited with Steve, completely healed of her cancer and finally with her Savior.

Yes, Susan was an excellent wife of a minster. She was a talented school teacher. She was a loyal, fierce friend. She was a mother, mother-in-love, and a grandmother. Yet, I don't think Susan would have defined herself by any of these hats she wore.

She was -and now, more than ever, still is- God's.

And there remains a countless number of us that will be forever changed and touched by her legacy.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Summer 2017

I came across a verse from Psalms recently and it instantly spoke straight to my heart.

I don't remember the context of how or why this verse caught my attention, but it was like the Holy Spirit said, "Pay attention. You need this."

As a result, this verse has become my theme for the summer of 2017:

"Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in your sight, Oh LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer."
Psalm 19:14

The verse was convicting and encouraging all at the same time. It transcended my circumstances, whether at home, church or work -yet, was so personal. 

God showed me that my tongue was quickly getting out of control and that I was allowing my thoughts to slip my emotional state into a dark place. 

I needed both my words and my meditations to be acceptable in His sight. They both needed to be redeemed. They needed to be made right. 

Part of me, a big part of me, wants to argue with God about this. My words could be worse. My feelings are completely justifiable. Anyone in my situation would feel the way that I feel. My circumstances are often frustrating and infuriating. I can play the comparison game all day and make myself seem pretty good. 

Ah, but pretty good isn't good enough, by His standards. To be acceptable in His sight, they need to be edifying of others and glorifying of Him. As my Lord, He has the right to ask this of me - no matter how impossible it may seem.

So, you can see the convicting part of this verse. The Holy Spirit is saying that my words and meditations need to be better; they need to be acceptable in my Lord's highest, most perfect opinion. 

As a result, when I found my words lacking and my meditations darkening, I began to practice memorizing this verse. 

Then the coolest thing happened. 

My meditation was on God's word and this very verse that had convicted me began to encourage me. 

"My Rock" already knows my circumstances. He has seen the injustices. He is the stability in the midst of all my uncertainty. 

"My Redeemer" has already saved me, justifying me forever -sometimes in spite of the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart. He knows those sinful tendencies of mine and He is still at work on me, continuing to redeem my unruly tongue and selfish, old-nature. 

Besides, the entire verse isn't even a command. God is not directly telling the reader to get her act in order. The writer is praying! He is asking God to help him do what he cannot do on his own. 

This prayer acknowledges God's authority as Lord and confesses that the words of the mouth and the meditations of the heart fall short from His holy requirements. It also claims the promises God has made us to be our Rock and our Redeemer. 

The truths of this one verse did not fall on me all at once. And, I am far from an expert at applying it to my life yet. But I have found it to be true. 

As I meditate on what I know would be acceptable in His sight, my words soften to those around me and my heart is lifted, not feeling bogged down by the stresses of the day. As I do what God directs, He keeps His word, fulfilling His roles as my Rock and my Redeemer. 

My circumstances have not really changed. The challenges may in fact be even bigger and harder. My words and meditations are still all too often very sinful and destructive but for now, at least, when the Holy Spirit gently points out these very real faults, I am responding with this prayer. It also just so happens to be the fourteenth verse of the nineteenth chapter of Psalms. 

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Do Not Be Afraid of the Hard Truth about Ministry--Be Diligent

The hard truth about ministry is that none of us is immune from the schemes of the enemy.  I must not be Little Miss Much-Afraid of the enemy...but I must be diligent.
Perhaps you read about Lysa Terkeurst pursuing divorce from her husband of ‘almost 25 years’.  I hesitate writing about this because my inclination is typically to not talk about people…but since she has addressed it publicly...God can use it to help all of us in ministry.
Lysa is president of Proverbs 31 ministry.  Maybe you have heard her voice on KLOVE during one of her ‘1 minute of encouragement’ spots or read one of her many best-selling books or possibly you even were at Union University a few months ago and heard her speak in person.  Did you know as you were listening to her on the radio or reading her blog or newest book or hearing her speak at Union that she was in such a struggle?  Was it obvious or was she, like so many of us, able to cover up her broken heart like a cast over a broken bone and just go on?
Many feelings might come when you hear of any woman in ministry experiencing the end of a marriage.  Surprise.  Anger.  Compassion.  Heartbreak.  Shock.  Empathy.  Confusion.  Questions like how?  Why?  What?   Thoughts from complete understanding to wide-ranging judgment flood our minds.
Frankly, my purpose in bringing it up is to remind us that none of us is immune to the schemes of satan, our enemy.  he (I just cannot capitalize his name…even when it breaks grammar rules) wants to destroy Christian marriages.  he wants us to think that the man (or woman) at church or at our job or a workman at home or an old boyfriend (or girlfriend) on Facebook or Instagram or WHOEVER happens to be attentive to us and pays attention to us is harmless.  he wants us to believe that that man (woman) cares more about us than our husbands (wives) do and then he desires for us to succumb to our yearnings and his seductions.  he wants us to become dissatisfied with what we have and think that the weedy grass on the other side of the fence has to be better than the dry, brown grass we currently live in. 

Or maybe....just maybe the mistress isn't a woman but the church.  ouch.  or sports.  or working out.  or a hobby.
What!  You think that couldn’t happen to you?  Yes it can!  
Be afraid of thinking you could never do that.  Be afraid of thinking he could never do that.  Remember Peter?  He said he’d never deny Jesus….and he did.
Wait!  Perhaps it already has happened to you.  If so, you are not alone.  Sadly, it has happened to lots and lots of people in ministry and your pain is unbearable at times.  The great news is that our confession brings glory to God and is a form of worship (See Joshua 7:19) and he (she) who has been forgiven much, loves much!!  You, my friend, understand God's mercy and grace like many do not.
We, especially me, must be diligent.  We must “apply all diligence, in your (my) faith supply moral excellence, and in your (my) moral excellence, knowledge, and in your (my) knowledge, self-control, and in your (my) self-control, perseverance, and in your (my) perseverance, godliness, and in your (my) godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love
“therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble.  (2 Peter 5-7, 10)

Father, I pray for all of us in ministry to be diligent against the schemes of the enemy.  Use our failures to bring much Glory to Your name.  Give us wisdom to know if and when to bring that what is hidden out in to the Light and may the exposure bring healing and hope.  Wrap those who are hurting from broken or struggling marriages in Truth and give them Your Power to heal.  In Jesus' name....amen.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Do It Afraid!!

In case you don’t already know this about me, I am like little miss “Much-Afraid” from Hinds Feet on High Places by Hannah Hurnard.  If you have not already read this book (or if it has been a long time), run, don’t walk to your nearest library or book store and get it!!  Or click/drag/touch to your nearest App or Amazon site and get it!  Either way, acquire it and read it!!  It is a beautiful allegory depicting Much-Afraid as she travels with her two companions Sorrow and Suffering and battles her fears while traveling to new heights of love and power and victory!! 

So, like I said, I am Little Miss Much-Afraid.  Here are just a few of the things I am afraid of:
  • Driving over tall bridges.  A few years ago I was about to leave Carol’s house in Dallas to drive home trying to figure out how to miss the very, very tall bridge to get to the interstate I needed to get on.  She said, “Dana!  You went to Africa all by yourself you can drive over that bridge!!”  Truth.  She spoke truth!
  • High diving boards!  Oh the child in me still remembers standing on that high dive at McCree park pool while the 100’s of people shouted for me to jump!!  Shivers still now!
  • Being the first one let off at home when in a car of my Jr. High friends.  After all, what will they say about me when I’m not there?
  • Speaking in front of people.  Crazy since I do this all of the time.  I still get diarrhea.
  • Going out in public and seeing certain people.  Won’t mention any names.
  • Failure
  • Disappointing people
  • Saying/doing/writing the wrong thing
  • Not saying/doing the right thing
  • What people think about me
  • What people say about me
  • Driving on Interstates
I am not afraid of all of these all of the time and, believe me, this is not a complete list….but it is what crossed my mind and/or am going through right now.

Interestingly enough it is thundering and lightning right now and I am not afraid of that!  Or of spiders or of dying or of the dark.

Much of the things I am afraid of….I do anyway.  It’s what I call “doing it afraid”!  For years I would wait until I wasn’t afraid any more to attempt to do something….but God has told me to “do it afraid”.  Example:  God told the Israelites to cross over the Jordan River even though the banks were overflowing.  That means there was LOTS of water and how in the world were they going to cross over with all their gear and little ones and stuff?  It wasn’t until they put their feet in to the Jordan River that the water dried up!  Me?  I want to wait until the river is easy to cross….then I’ll do it.  God says, ‘No….do it first and then I’ll dry it up.’  It’s a faith thing.  A trust thing.  See Joshua 2-3

I am afraid to drive on Interstates.

There.  I said it again.  I mentioned it in the list above but I feel like I need to say it again.  expound.  confess.  admit.  it's a burden. 
I honestly feel like I have written this multiple times in one of my blog posts over the last year or two because it has become so problematic and difficult and such an issue with me….but I cannot find any record of it….so I suppose I have written it on the portals of my heart and my mind rather than my computer.
 

This fear is so odd because….

  1. I learned to drive in Dallas.  Not a lot of country roads there.
  2. I have driven from Texas to Tennessee.  From California to Indiana.  From many heres to many theres on many Interstates multiple times.

And all of a sudden….I am afraid to drive on Interstates!!

And this is a problem.  It’s a problem for many reasons but it’s a problem especially because I do a lot of traveling to speak. 

For years I’d love to pack up my car and hit the road with praise music blaring and worshiping and preparing my heart and mind to share what it is God has put on my heart to share.  A sweet time with me and God.

For the past two years or so I still pack up my car and hit the road with praise music blaring and worshiping and preparing my heart and mind to share what it is God has put on my heart to share but I have to do it taking back roads and feeling so frustrated and guilty and sad that I am afraid to drive on the Interstate.

Why?  What is wrong with me?  What can I do about it?

Many times I am speaking on Power and Strength and here I am powerless and weak and unable to do such a seemingly impossible thing.

There have been a few times I got on the Interstate for a few miles and ‘did it afraid’.  Some call it "exposure therapy".  Oh the victory!

There have been many, many times I gave in to my fear.  Oh the defeat.

I know that this is something that must be conquered because I know women who do not drive at all.  Did they start out not driving on interstates and then it escalated to not driving on busy streets to not driving out of town to not driving anywhere?  The ugly spiral I see ahead of me scares me.
 
I see myself making decisions about visiting family or taking children places based on whether or not I have to drive on an Interstate!!  My decisions MUST be based on what God wants NOT on what I can or cannot do.

Why am I sharing this?  I am not sure.  I hate to even admit such a thing.  But what I am sure about is if you have any advice, help, or thoughts...let me know!!  AND that if there is something you are fearful of….do it afraid! 

I cannot wait until I can write to say I am no longer afraid to drive on Interstates!!

Friday, June 2, 2017

Don't Complain

I attended three funerals in the last three weeks.

I lost a great aunt.

A beloved church member passed away.

A dear member of our church buried an aunt who was like a parent.

Three funerals in a relatively short period of time.

We hear this cliché all the time: life is short, live it to the fullest.

None of us knows when the Lord will call us home to be with Him. Death is an unavoidable reality, but for those of us who know Christ Jesus as Savior, we know and firmly believe that death is not the end. We believe the apostle Paul when he said, “To live is Christ and to die is gain.” (Philippians 1:21) Also, “To be absent from the body [is to be] home with the Lord.” (2 Corinthians 5:8) I believe that of each of the three who were laid to rest, all had a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ! The funeral services were more like “home going” celebrations.

As I thought about the brevity of life and all of the pain and the trials that come with our time here on earth, I began to wonder: Why do we complain so much? I say “we” because I am so guilty!! What if we determined to live each day thanking the Lord for His grace and His mercy, and ALL of His goodness towards us, instead of focusing on what’s wrong and what we don’t have?

We complain about our……

Spouses: They are not perfect, but neither are we. Accept them, flaws and all…..God accepts us flaws and all!!

Families: Be thankful that God gave you a family, people whom you can love and they, in turn, can love you back! No family is perfect; we all have dysfunctionality of some kind. That’s why we need a Savior!

Churches: Sometimes we spend a lot of time zooming in on what’s wrong with the church instead of what’s right. Just as spouses are not perfect, neither are our churches, which are made up of imperfect people who have issues just like us. If you belong to a church that is teaching the truth of God’s Word, encouraging the members to live it out, and striving to reach the unsaved with the Gospel, be thankful! Let’s pray for the church to be strong in the areas where it is weak. Pray, don’t pout!

Nation: All of us can find a lot of things wrong with our nation and many of our elected officials. Government was created by God (Romans 13: 1-7), yet unfortunately mankind has corrupted it. We are commanded to pray for those who are in authority over us (1 Timothy 2:1-2); the situations may not change, but our attitudes surely will!

I could list many more things that we find ourselves complaining about. Again, we absolutely cannot change people or situations (only God has the power), but we CAN change our attitudes toward people and situations! When that strong urge hits us to dwell on the negative, let's think on all the wonderful, beautiful, positive things that the Lord has put in our lives. God has been so faithful, and we see new mercies every day! (Lamentations 3:22-23).

Remember, life is short; may we live it to the fullest for God’s glory! So………..

DON'T COMPLAIN!



Friday, May 26, 2017

Happy Ten Years


May 26. 2007 - May 26, 2017
HAPPY 10th ANNIVERSARY....
To Our Oldest....Kacie and Chase Hicks!  We love you!

Blubbering Vivi




One of the difficult sides of ministry life is living several hours away from family.  As you know God calls us to go to the ends of the earth to share the gospel and we obey.  Because our lives are filled with ministry responsibilities, it is sometimes difficult to travel back “home” often.

My husband and I have been fortunate to live fairly close to our family over the years.  Only once have we lived eight hours away.  For the past five years, we have been fortunate to live eight minutes from our two grandsons and now two hours away from our four-month old granddaughter.  Yes, we have been blessed. However, there is a change coming.

Every week for the past two years, our two grandsons, now four and half years old and 23 months, have spent Wednesday night with us.  On Thursday morning, I drop them off at Mother’s Day Out.  This past week was no different than any other week except that it was my last time to take them to MDO.  In a few short weeks, these precious boys along with their parents will be relocating to another state and will be five and a half hours away instead eight minutes.

As I left Mother’s Day Out that morning, tears began to fall.  By the time I reached my car, I was sobbing.  My heart was breaking into pieces because I realized we would not see our grandsons on a daily basis like we do now.  There will be no more daily adventure walks.  We will not be able to drive to the lake to watch the ducks and turtles.  Daily bubble wars in the backyard will end.  The sand in the sandbox will actually stay in the backyard and not in the house.  What is this Vivi going to do?

As for our family, we love spending time together.  We may gather in our home for an impromptu barbeque or head to the ball park to watch a game.  We try to get together at least once a month if possible.  Now our gatherings will be few and far between.  We will need to juggle everyone’s busy schedule, school dates, and church responsibilities.  Let’s just say this Mama is struggling!

However, I plan to do a few things that hopefully will keep our family connected.  Besides Skype/Facetime, I plan to make little surprise boxes for my grandsons.  They love getting “prizes” from Vivi and Preacher Man aka my husband.  I will also create more Shutterfly books for my grandbabies.  I love writing stories about our adventures and the funny things each of my grandchildren do.  Hopefully, these books will help Gideon and Jude remember the fun times we have had together and introduce Hazel Grace to her silly boy cousins.

I am sure in time I will adjust to being a long distance ViVi. When we are able to gather as a family, I plan to relish in those days.  When we get to have our grandchildren for a weekend or a week, we will return to our favorite places to watch the ducks and hunt for turtles.  I am sure we will have World War III with bubbles and have a movie marathon watching old Road Runner and Coyote reruns. 

For now, here is what I need from you.  I am calling on all Mama’s and Grandma’s to share how you stay connected to your children/grandchildren when they are long distances away.  I am quite sure there are other sisters in ministry who have struggled with or are struggling with letting their children go off to faraway places like me.


EVERYONE is DIFFERENT

We are all different.  No one is the same.  That is what makes life interesting.

We have two children.  They were raised the same, but are completely different.

We tried to arrange for ALL OF US to go on vacation together, but it was not possible this year....therefore, Roger and I will be going on two smaller vacations....with each child.

First....we will be camping with our son and daughter-in-law on Dale Hollow Lake and kayaking the Obey River.  Did I mention TENT camping?  Wheww.....we use to tent camp with our children and thought it was fun.  Cheap and fun. 

We are OVER that. 

I came home from work one day and Roger had ordered a tall instant tent that sets up in a few minutes.  He also ordered a 22" air mattress that inflates instantly.  His plans are to take the fan...........and enjoy a time of kayaking, fishing and camping with our kids.

We are excited.....now that we got the "old peoples" camping equipment.  Smile.

Next....we will be going to Daytona Beach, FL to spend some time with our daughter, son-in-law and two grandchildren.

They are staying almost two weeks.............we are just crashing their party for a few days.

This vacation will involve the grandchildren spending the night with us and many hours playing in the sand and pool with them.

TWO COMPLETE DIFFFERENT VACATIONS.............but BOTH FUN.

In church....we are all different too.  We just have to accept that we are different and learn to work around that.  We need to accept people as they are and not try to change them.

Different is okay.................it takes all kinds of folks to make a well rounded church.  All members can not be treated the same............they are all different and must be treated accordingly.....just as our children are different and we have to treat them accordingly also.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Closed for Summer....


SCHOOL is OFFICIALLY CLOSED FOR SUMMER!!!
 
Be careful....don't blink your eyes because it will open back up
for teachers the end of July.
 
Hello, Summer! -- (A Last Day of School Poem)
by
Gregory K.

Goodbye, classroom!
Goodbye, Teach!
You can find me at the beach...
Or in the park or at the pool
Or any place that isn’t school.

Goodbye, quizzes!
Bye, reports!
Hello days packed full of sports
And days when I’m just lazybones
While eating melty ice cream cones.

Goodbye, homework --
Lunchroom, too.
There’s so, so much I wanna do.
I know the school year flew on past…
But please, please summer -- last and last.

 

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Life is not Always Fair!

Life is not always fair.

I know we are not suppose to question things, but sometimes it is hard.

We know a family who has a daughter that is right at 3 years old.  At ten months old the daughter was diagnosed with MPS (Hurlers Disease; a rare, incurable disease.)  Mom would up and had to move to Cincinnati, OH for months while their daughter prepared for a bone marrow transplant.  The transplant does not cure the disease....it simply slows it down.  The little girl is currently facing numerous surgeries in her upcoming future.  She wears glasses and braces on her legs and back.  Google it.  It is a very MEAN disease.

For a child to be born with this disease, both mom and dad have to be carriers.  Because of this, they were not planning to have any more children.  As we all know....sometimes God has other plans.  Even, with birth control, mom got pregnant.  Soon they discovered that the new baby was a boy.  He was born two weeks ago this coming Friday.  Because sister has MPS....they tested brother as soon as he was born so see.  He had a 25% chance of having it.  OR....a 75% chance of NOT having it.....whichever way you choose to look at it.

Everyone...including mom and dad....felt like God gave them this baby.  They tried to prevent the pregnancy, but God had other plans.

They have been anxiously awaiting the results.

Monday......they got the results.  Brother has MPS also.  They begin their traveling back and forth next week to Cincinnati, OH for treatments and preparations for the bone marrow transplant that can not take place until he is two months old.  They will be also preparing to move to Cincinnati, OH where he can receive the medical care that he needs.  Mom and sister will be going with him.  Dad has to stay here to work.

PLEASE, PLEASE PRAY FOR THIS FAMILY.  They are a Christian family and fully trust in Him.

Pray for dad as he is left behind....and traveling back and forth on weekends to see his family.

Pray for mom, sister and especially baby brother.

Keep praying for sister also.  Her MPS journey has just began and now brother will be traveling the same road.

There are different degrees of the disease.  Brothers could be worse than sisters or not as bad as sisters.

PLEASE life this family up in your prayers............the Ladd Family from Tennessee.  For over two years we have prayed for Baby Kennedy.............now we are adding Baby Lincoln to our prayer list.

LIFE IS NOT FAIR..................but....we only see the window....God sees the big picture and we have to keep reminding ourselves........God is STILL in control.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

From the Mouth of Babes


As I sit pondering this blog, I am outdoors watching and listening to my four and half year-old grandson, Gideon, use his imagination in play.  He is a true blessing from God.  He is smart and his mind goes so fast it is hard to keep up.

I have just finished my quiet time which was in Jonah.  Before I began, I asked Gideon if he minded if I read my Bible while he played.  He said, “Vivi, you can read your Bible anytime you watch me play.” (Wow, he gets that we can read God’s word any time and any place). 

Next I told him that I was reading from the story of Jonah and asked if he knew who he was.  “Of course, I do, Vivi.  Jonah was swallowed by a whale because he didn’t do what God wanted him to do,” replied Gideon.  My heart smiled as I knew this boy is being taught biblical truths by church leaders and his parents.

The next lesson Gideon taught me was that we all must obey God.  “Vivi, when Jonah told God he was sorry, the whale spit him out and Jonah started doing what God wanted him to do,” stated Gideon.  Yep, when we tell God we are sorry, our life gets better as we pursue God’s plan for our lives.

Although I knew all these facts, the simple lesson provided by my precious little one warmed my heart.  It really has nothing to do about being a minister’s wife.  However, maybe it does.

First, our schedules get so hectic.  We rush from one thing to another.  Some days it seems there is not a minute to spend with the Lord.  One thing I have learned is that I can have five to ten minutes a day with the Lord.  For instance, after power walking I cool off.  This is when I often take my devotional and I sit by the pond and read His word for a few minutes.  No, it is not an hour of study but my time in The Word renews my soul.

Second, sometimes as ministry families we can refuse to follow the Lord’s direction.  Maybe a church is calling us but we want to stay where we are.  If you have ever experienced this situation, you know God will send “a whale” to get our attention and redirect us. 

Third, all too often our congregations think ministry families are perfect and thus never sin.  Well, the truth is that we are all sinners and have fallen short of God’s glory.  Each day I must ask the Lord’s forgiveness for some unkind thought or an action I have done.  I will never be perfect until I reach my heavenly home.  I have found that when I am out of God’s will my life is miserable.  Since I am a stubborn person, I will fight against God’s discipline until I am exhausted and emotionally drained.  However, when I come to Him and ask for forgiveness, my Heavenly Father restores me and I am more in tune to His purpose for my life.

So, little Gideon reminded me of simple truths from the book of Jonah.  As the saying goes, “a child will lead them.”


ChAnGe

ChAnGe!

Have I mentioned to you that I HATE change?  I would like to blame it on my age, but all through my life I have not been a fan of change.  I like comfort.  Comfort comes with familiar things.  Change is scary.

Our 6th grade Science teacher is retiring.  We will have a new teacher next year.  Our band director is retiring.  We will have a new band director next year.  Our principal has been transferred to another school, so we will have a new boss next year.  Our school secretary is getting married and moving, so we will have a new secretary next year.

This is just to name the changes that I am currently aware of.

I DO NOT LIKE CHANGE.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~
 
I do not like change.....although I know that it is necessary.
 
I have found out that our new, incoming principal is a lady that was at our school a few years back as a teacher.  She is a wonderful Christian lady and while working with her as a co-worker, I really respected her.  She has a passion for her job.
 
And....I know my current boss is at a point in her life where the "change" for her is a good move.
 
So....all in all......next years changes will all work out and I need to quit stressing.
 
 

All of this being said.............I dodge change and then I wonder WHY our older members tend to lean on the fact that "we've always done it this way....so why change?"  Smile.

We have been at the same church, ministering for going on 21 years.  We have seen LOTS of changes.  Changes are scary.  Changes run folks off.

BUT.....changes are not always bad.  We are old-school, but did not want to sit and watch our church die............therefore to reach the younger generation....the millennials.....we had to do some changes.

We prayed and prayed about it.  Because....remember, change is not always welcomed.

After much prayer, we concluded that the MESSAGE is the same;  the GOSPEL is still the same; GOD is still the same......the only thing that needed to be changed was the way it was delivered.

EXAMPLE:  We had always had a music director with a choir and the Baptist Hymnal.

We NOW have a worship team that sings hymnals and contemporary music.  It is a PERFECT blend.  Even our older members are loving it.  The words are projected on the big screen........and the older generation that was opposed to that initially finally discovered that it was MUCH easier to read from the screen than the little print in the hymnal.

Yes.....we lost a few members in the process.......but we gained many, many more members.  As I have blogged before, our little country church runs about 75-85 in Sunday School and about 100-125 for preaching and at least 85% of those are under the age of 35-40 years old.

CHANGE is scary................because we fear the unknown..............but change is not always a bad thing.

Let's strive to be open to change.......whatever it takes to reach the lost.


That is just ONE way that our church has changed

Monday, May 22, 2017

It is THAT time of Year...

Being a school teacher.....it is THAT time of Year!

The students have been OVER IT since after Spring Break and especially after the TCaps.

The teachers are OVER IT also.

NOW....we are just wrapping things up.....tearing down bulletin boards, cleaning, packing things up, getting grade cards ready.....working on permanent records.....all while watching those few students that keep coming to school...................even though we are not taking attendance.  Smile.  WHEWWWWW.........

Tomorrow is the students' last day.  Wednesday the teachers will have a work day and Thursday, they will drop by and pick up their final grade cards..............THEN.....we are officially on SUMMER BREAK......UNTIL....July 31st when it ALL BEGINS AGAIN.

Seriously....I am so ready for a break, but some of the students I will really miss.  This has been a very "difficult" year.  We have had an odd bunch of 98 sixth graders.  Each of them have a story to tell.  Many of the stories are sad.  After spring break, I had them to type me a story about their spring breaks.  It was sad................visiting mom......visiting dad...........mom getting arrested............dad being sent off.  Bless them!

Every year it seems as if the numbers of "sad situations" get more and more.  I guess it is another sign of the end of time.

I am asking you right now to PRAY for Our Students................by our students....I mean all of the students in the U.S.A.  They are faced with obstacles that we never dreamed of as students.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

"I Want You to Read This . . ."

My husband asked me to a read a book.

In the 18 and nearly a half years we have been married, he has never asked me to a read a book.

We've read the same books before, but this time, he finished this particular book and asked me to read it.

When I asked where his copy was, he said that he wanted me to get my own copy so I wouldn't be influenced by this underlining and marginal notes.

I did not hesitate, but reached for my phone, selecting the Amazon app and ordered the book. Thanks to our Prime membership, in two days I held it in my hands, took a deep breath and opened the paperback to the first pages.

What is this page turner you ask?

No, it isn't a novel. It isn't the latest offering of his favorite theologian. Honestly, it isn't even spiritual in nature....

It's a business book. No, I guess it is better described as a leadership book.

I haven't finished it yet, I am only about half through.

It's a good book and is making me think. The book has brought some new ideas to my attention, and is changing how I am approaching my job at the church. There are implications for my personal walk with Christ and the direction He is giving me for ministry.

What IS this book you ask?

I am not going to tell you.

This post isn't about the book despite all the words I have dedicated to its credibility and  effectiveness. Instead, it is about the man who suggested I should read it.

Honestly, if a pastor suggests a book that would grow me and challenge me, most days I would be more likely to buy that book from Amazon then one I've seen my husband read.

Yet, when MY man stepped up into his leadership role and kindly, suggested that I read this particular book, I didn't hesitate to buy it OR invest the time needed to read it. He knew it would be good for me, for us, that I would read it... I chose to trust him and his leadership.

I am so glad I did.

In the past few weeks, it has spurred more thoughtful conversations and great dialogue between us. I am pointing out a news story I saw on a network morning show. He is emailing me a blog post that addresses the book's themes. We are talking how these secular themes could be translated into the sacred work of the church.

I love it.

I love him.

I don't write this to make you green, wishing your husband would be more like mine, but to encourage you to look for a few things:
  1. Have you missed an opportunity to bond with your man because you too quickly dismissed something he has interest in or has tried to talk to you about, as being boring or uninteresting?
  2. Could he be trying to lead you and your family, but you are too caught up in your own agenda or interests that you've failed to give him the opportunity? 
  3. Have you prayed that your groom would be a spiritual leader within the home and not merely at church?
If I am honest with you, I'd answer the above questions this way:
  1. Yes, too many times to count.
  2. I am afraid that is too often true.
  3. No, not like I should be. 
Sometimes, as women carrying the weight of Eve's curse, we get in our own way. 

Let's commit to pray to allow the Spirit to show us where we should apologize to our husbands and how we can be a better helpmate to him. 

Now, if you'll excuse me, I am going to try to finish another chapter before bed tonight...

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

The Biggest Story


One of my favorite aspects of my job is leading chapel time with the older preschoolers of our weekday preschool program.

At each gathering, I hold a Bible before the children and they recite with me a few basic facts about the Good Book - "It's God's word. It's always true. It's one big book with lots of little books."

In the faith-based program, we intentionally teach the children various stories from the Bible. However, it is hard to explain to these little ones that each individual Bible story is merely a small part of the large story of the Bible.


For Easter, my husband and I gave each our daughters books that would point them toward the true reason for the holiday. The one we got our middle daughter is truly the coolest.

Kevin DeYoung's "The Biggest Story," does a truly beautiful job explaining how all those little books and individual stories are connected into the most epic of true stories.

As I read aloud "How the Snake Crusher Brings Us Back to the Garden," to my girls, I was struck how this "Biggest Story" can impact my perspective too.

The Bible isn't just a book to turn to when things get rough. It isn't just something that we pull out on Sundays or to prep for Vacation Bible School. It isn't just some list of ancient truths that we can apply to our modern lives.

Just as I wrote in my last post, the Bible is SO many things, but it is also the true story of how our Creator God has gone to incredible lengths to redeem His people and bring us back into fellowship with Him.

He is the main character of this true epic.

Yet, the story does not end with the book of Revelation. It is still being written on the tablets of our hearts with the details of what He is doing with our lives.

As believers, we have been grafted into this tale. It is all written in His Great Book of Life - along with the ending, that we have yet to see.

When Christ returns and ALL the promises of the Bible are fulfilled - then the happiest of ever after's will come to pass. He will be ultimately glorified and we will be made perfect.

His Word, this "biggest story," is a reminder that our lives are not really about us. My life, by His grace, is just a very minor role in the most amazing love story ever imagined.

Perhaps next school year when I lead the preschoolers in reciting factual statements about the Bible I will change it up a bit or add a new fact:

 "It's God's word. It's always true. It's one big book with lots of little books. AND it is one amazing story with lots of little parts."

Thank you Lord for giving us as believers a part of your story....

Monday, May 15, 2017

the Bible - What I Say & What I Live

The Bible.

What do you believe about it?

Do your actions and attitudes back up what you'd say you believe?

I have had the privilege and honor of preparing some Bible studies for this coming weekend - on the Bible.

The focus of these studies aren't "apologetic" in nature. I am not trying to defend my belief in the Bible. Nor am I trying to explain how the canon, the Old and New Testaments, were decided upon, but rather, I am expanding and exposing what I would say I have always believed about the scriptures.

It is more than 66 smaller books bound under one title. It is greater than the 40 some human co-authors the Spirit inspired used to place ink on parchment. While, I fully believe in God's wisdom in selecting the 3 original languages it was written in, there is most definitely something more than just translations of ancient texts.

No, the Bible is not metaphorical stories with good moral lessons.

Yes, the Bible is a factual, historical collection of documents that science is more often than not, proving reliable and true.

BUT

It is so much more.

It is inherent and true. All of it, to be believed as it is written.

It is God's revelation of Himself, to us, His creation. Living on this side of the cross, having the HUGE grace of being able to learn about Him through the written word is an incredible blessing.

It is alive. (Isaiah 40:8)

It is powerful. (Romans 1:16-17, 1 Corinthians 1:18)

It is purposeful. (Isaiah 55:11)

It is profitable. (2 Timothy 3:16)

It is perfect and proven true. (Psalm 18:30)

Confession time - I have more copies of God's Word then I can lay hands on. I have a couple of digital copies on my phone and iPad. I leave it sit around on various surfaces in my house, including my floor. I go days without really opening it, much less really reading it....

In it are the words of Life. yet, I take my ease of access to it for granted. And, all too often, it is the last place I go to for direction, help and hope.

Can you relate?

Through my study, I have become convicted. I treat the Bible way to casually. In my familiarity of it, I have lost my reverence for it.

Today I have found myself overwhelmed with the demands of my job, my commitments, and my family. A friend texted a paraphrased truth found in scripture and I, literally, felt the direction, help and hope I needed.

The theme verse for our studies this weekend is Psalm 119:114 and in a very real way was proven true to me today:

"You are my hiding place and my shield;
I hope in your word."

Forgive me Lord.
Thank You for Your grace.
Thank You for Your word and ALL that it is....

Saturday, May 13, 2017

I Must Stop Wanting to Re-Create!!

At 2:00 a.m. this morning I arrived home from a two week trip to California!  Don't be hate-en.  You can be a bit jealous, but no hate-en.  Besides, it was chilly and not much sun during week two.  It is now 7:30 a.m. and I am up because I really, really REALLY needed to get a least one post this week before the week (and my turn) is over!  You see, I was having major technical difficulties using my ancient IPad....apparently blogger and my IPad have an on-going issue because I can never seem to get the two of them to cooperate and work together!!  Hummm.....I know people like that....in church.

Last week I received the following text from my brother:

Any chance you have any pics of the four of us as kids that we could "re-create".

Oh Yes!! Did I ever have pictures!! I found several and this was the one he picked for us to "re-create".  Aren't we precious?



 
This was the 'gem' that we would 're-create' when we all gathered from Indiana, Texas, and northern California at brother number two's home in (normally) sunny California (but, right now? not-so-sunny California!).  (Yes, that's right!  Present tense!  I actually wrote most of this on that frustrating IPad but it hates me and would NOT show most of it....I'm now operating on little sleep and digressing....)

I searched for a long sleeve white shirt...check! Then a black sweater....check! The red headband....not so easy to find, but, wha-la!!! Walmart comes through again! I was all set to "re-create" this pic!

Here is the end result!


 
We definitely tried to recreate the picture. As much as we tried, however, it just was not the same! Years changed us in size, OBVIOUSLY!!  We no longer had the same clothing or hair styles or couch to sit on.  We were not the same.

It hit me that I want to recreate lots of things.  Events.  Friendships I have had in the various places we lived.  I want to recreate churches we have served.  Women I have mentored. Communities we have been a part of.  Experiences.  Jobs.

Often times I want to recreate the days when we were first married or when our children were small or when times just seemed easier.  Funner.  Happier.  Simpler.

Lately I have had many conversations with other women who also struggle with this very thing.  Wanting. Longing for the way things were when they were _________________ (fill in the blank).

They miss the church they served before.  The discipleship group they had community with.  The ebb and flow their marriage had.  The relationship with God that just doesn't seem the 'same'.

These conversations revealed to me that, apparently, I am not the only one who struggles with wanting to 're-create' life.  People.  Circumstances. Events. Etc.

It reminds me of when Peter exclaimed to the Lord in Matthew 17:4 "Lord, it's wonderful for us to be here! If you want, I'll make three shelters (or tabernacles) -- one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah."

As he was saying this a voice spoke from the clouds and the disciples were terrified and fell on the ground face down!!!  Jesus comes and tells them to get up and to not be afraid!!!

Can you imagine!! Oh please, Lord!! Keep things just like this!!! Us, You, Moses, Elijah all hanging out.  This is awesome!! Don't change a thing, God! This is as good as it gets!! Don't ever wanna go back to real life and real people that's for sure!!

The next thing you know they find themselves face down on the ground cause they heard a "voice"!!! Then Jesus tells them to "get up" and "don't be afraid"!

Wait! What?? What happened to "it's wonderful to be here"?

I wonder how many times Peter or James or John wanted to "re-create" that event?? Can you hear them thinking or saying...'Remember how great that time was?  Remember when it was just us three on the mountain? Remember when we didn't have to deal with all of these crazy people??'

Jesus had more for them though.  And He has more for us.  He knows that we have a tendency to make amazing events or churches or communities or small groups or jobs or whatever an idol.  We can worship them rather than worship Jesus.

The beautiful and great thing is that God is about doing things new!  Creating vs re-creating!

  • His mercies are new every morning.
  • He is creating a new heaven and a new earth
  • We are to sing new songs to Him
  • We have become a new person in Christ
  • He has given us a new heart and a new spirit

Why should we long for the old? Why should we long to "re-create" something when He has new things for us? The disciples were willing to settle for tabernacles when Jesus was going to show them something greater and better and amazing-er than that!!

I must focus on creating instead of re-creating!!  I must quit longing for what was and be thankful for what is.  What is the thing you keep wanting to re-create?