Oysters

Do you ever feel that your trials keep piling up?  That you can’t even come up for air before another situation occurs?  When I feel hopeless or even helpless, I have an analogy that I try to remember.  I think of myself as an oyster.  Plain on the outside, but beautiful on the inside (at least, that is the way I try to be).  I picture my trial as a few grains of sand.  They come inside and irritate, annoy, even hurt me.  Then I picture Christ.  His love fills me and coats me with a soft, smooth covering over the trial.  Even though the trial (sand) is still there, it no longer irritates me, or hurts me.  It has now been given to God.  God has taken that trial and turned it into something good.  Instead of an irritating, harmful bit of sand, there is now a beautiful pearl in it’s place.  The pearl has surrounded the sand and taken it away from harming the oyster.  That is how we should feel when we have accepted Christ as our Savior.  Getting saved does not protect you from trials, but God will protect you and help you learn and grow from them.  Instead of getting infected from the trial in our life, God takes it from us, just as Christ took our sins on the cross.  God looks to our inside, which is the beautiful inner shell of the oyster, which reminds me to keep my thoughts pure.  We should not be concerned with our outward appearance, which is like the outside of an oyster.  Nothing special in it’s own right, but with God, it has a beautiful pearl on the inside.  Notice that the pearl is the part that has real value.  We are nothing without Jesus, but with Him we have great worth.  So the next time you have a trial in your life, think of the oyster and how with Jesus, you can get through anything.

Romans 8:28 KJV

“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”

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Keeping your attitude in check

This weekend was very long and stressful.  We moved across 7 states in 2 days, then we had to get everything unloaded (thank the Lord for movers!) and put in their proper rooms, THEN we could start to unpack everything.  It’s times like this that make it very easy to snap at the ones you love.  Letting stress overpower you is something we justify, but in reality, it never should be acceptable.  We should always be able to control  ourselves.  Sometimes I have a hard time with that, and I really have been trying hard to stay calm and not get upset when I am exhausted, or very hungry from not eating all day, or in pain.  When we are anticipating a stressful situation (such as with a move), for me, it is easier to control my feelings when I know in advance I could get grumpy.  But what about those unplanned stressful situations?  The death of a loved one, or the loss of a job?  Those times can be really hard to keep your attitude in check, however, especially as a Christian, we need to always remember to model Christ.  You never know who is watching you and how you react to something.  Try to keep calm and control what you say and how you respond.  It really does make things easier, and you won’t have any regret from having an outburst. Just take a deep breath, and move forward.  Sometimes keeping our mouths shut is the best thing to do.  Put a smile on your face and give the stress or burden to God.  He never gives us more than we can handle, and we need to remember to honor Him in all things, and that includes our attitudes.

Are you teaching what you believe?

This post weighs heavy on my heart today for 2 reasons.  The first is that I had the honor of leading a little girl to Christ last night.  The second is that I am praying for a little girl that is dying of Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever-she got from a tick bite.  It really got me thinking.  Are we really teaching our kids what we believe?  Once they reach the age of accountability, they can actually go to Hell if they died.  That is such a scary thought.  I know too many people that proclaimed their love for the Lord, only to raise their children in a secular environment.  I always wondered if maybe they truly aren’t saved, or if they just really don’t care that their children could very well end up in Hell for all eternity.  Whatever the reason, I pray that if you are saved, that you are trying to lead your children to Christ.  We never know how long we have with each other on this earth.  I don’t want anyone that I meet to end up in Hell.  It’s so simple to live a godly life.  It brings joy and peace even when others see hopelessness.  Romans 3:23 “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God”, Romans 6:23 “ For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 10:9 “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.”  We ALL have sinned BUT all we have to do is accept Christ’s free gift of salvation!  It’s FREE!  All we have to do is believe that Jesus died on the cross to save us and rose again from the grave and is preparing a place for us in Heaven.  That’s it.  It’s so simple, and yet so many “Christians” aren’t teaching it to their children.  Please do not put it off.  Share Christ’s love with your children and your friends and family.  It will be too late after they die, don’t put it off.  And while you are sharing the love of Christ with them, make sure you are living it.  We show our true belief in our actions, not just our words.

*If you truly are a child of God, please stop and say a prayer for this precious little girl Emilee.  She is fighting for her life right now.  What a blessing that she has loving, godly parents.  God is good all the time and He will carry us through our trials and bring us joy in the midst of our suffering. (This is a picture with her twin brother.  They are six years old.) **Update, little Emilee went home to be with Jesus.  Please keep her family and friends in your prayers.**

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VBS

Our church is putting on Vacation Bible School this week.  I may have bit off more than I can chew, since my strength is not fully back to 100%, and I am moving in 5 days, but I just couldn’t pass up an opportunity to share the love of Christ with children that are hunger and search for the one true Savior!  We have the privilege of having the Merrill Evangelistic Team with us again this year: http://www.merrillevangelisticteam.com/ministries/vbs-adventures If you have not seen them in action, I encourage you to talk with your VBS director about letting them come to your church.  They have so much energy and love for the children and the workers.  You can’t help getting fired up for Christ.  This year we are doing ElectriCity.  I loved VBS as a child, but I think I love it even more now.  Being able to share the love of Jesus with others should be an every day experience for us.  We should be living what we believe.  I love that VBS is so encouraging to the adults that are there as well as the children.   It’s so true that kids are always watching and mimicking our behavior.  We need to walk the walk, not just talk the talk.  Even with everything on my plate, I love getting fired up for Jesus!  The things I have been learning and the example I need to be setting is worth the lack of energy I have for packing.  God is my strength and power, and through Him, I can do anything! 🙂

Putting others ahead of yourself

Have you ever heard the expression “JOYJesus first, Yourself last, and Others in between”?  When I was growing up, one of my sisters had this poster.  It really got drilled into my head as a teen, but now, it’s even more applicable.  Do you ever realize that when we are discontent with our spouse, or “inconvenienced” with our kids, that it all has to deal with selfishness on our part.  When we think of Christ first, and putting others ahead of ourselves, we really don’t even think about what we are not getting, and what is not fair for us.  When we have minor problems with our marriage, we need to take a look in a mirror and see if our actions and thoughts are selfish.  If your spouse is not meeting your need, there is nothing wrong with communicating that in a loving way, but to think angry thoughts about how they are not meeting your needs is just selfish.  It doesn’t do anyone any good, it doesn’t make you a happier person.  All it does is drive a wedge between you both.  Put yourself if their shoes.  Most of the time (especially with men) they don’t even know that there is an issue, or that you are starting to get resentful.  Instead of hinting around, expecting your spouse to get clued in, try communicating your needs and desires with your spouse.  Make it 100% clear to them, and then pray.  Let God do the changing in their hearts if there is really a need that you have, but do not belittle them and look at all their faults.  Give that to God and continue to do your part in meeting their needs.  You will find that when you do that, regardless if your needs are being met, you will be a happier person.  You will have peace and joy.  The same thing applies to your children, or your co-workers.  Keep God first in your life.  If you claim to be a Christian, people should see it in your actions and your temperament.  They should not even have to ask (or guess) if you are saved, it should be very obvious in the way you live your life.  Learn to be a giving person.  Don’t let negative thoughts consume your mind.  Change your thinking to the good things you see in someone.  Don’t let bitterness control you.  Give all your hurt and worry to God and try to dwell on things that are good. Galatians 5:22-23

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering (long enduring trouble/patience) gentleness, goodness, faith,

23 Meekness (humble/submissive), temperance  (self-restraint, self-control): against such there is no law.

and my favorite, vs. 25:

25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.

Not looking inward, but focusing on others can bring a true peace and joy to your life.  Instead of thinking what others are not doing for you, think of what you can do for others.  You will truly feel joy and fulfillment.  Model Christ and you will find joy, even in the midst of your trials.

How do you spend your vacations?

My family has a trip coming up soon, so I have vacationing on my mind.  Usually we plan and take a trip within a few months.  This is the first time we planned our trip about a year before actually taking it.  I’ve got to say, I think I like the last minute trips better!  I’m not big on the waiting, but I refuse to take a trip on credit.  That is the reason we planned our trip long before actually booking and taking it.  What a great feeling to leave on vacation, spending money in hand, knowing that when we return home we will not have the stress of debt hanging over our heads.  I love that part of vacationing but I really am not fond of the waiting phase.  I’m more of a last minute, hop on a plane or jump in the car kind of person.  Planning and waiting is not really my thing 😉  It definitely has taught me patience and I also have had time to find really good deals (although, when I book last minute, I can usually get a good deal on that as well).  When I was growing up, we tended to visit the same locations over and over again.  It was great to see family and to get to know an area really well, but with my kids, I really want them to explore the world and to experience new places.  I want them to really appreciate what they have and to be open to trying new things.  The part I love most about vacations is the relaxation and sightseeing.  I love to get away from the tourist areas and really experience how the locals live.  I used to love the hustle and bustle of a big city.  Now, I prefer the gorgeous views and slower pace of the country.  I still love to visit the city, but in moderation.  I love budgeting where we will eat and what we will do, so that we can enjoy ourselves without the panic of racking up debt on the credit card.  When we went to Disney last year, my husband was thrilled to be able to buy something he didn’t think he could buy, because I had set aside money in advance for each of us for spending money.  He really liked being able to get something he really wanted without worrying about the cost.  When you are vacationing, you never know what will happen so you have to be flexible.  Sometimes things don’t go as planned, but sometimes the unplanned screw ups can be the most memorable.  For example, when we were following our GPS through Arkansas, it took us to the middle of a muddy field-with no road in sight.  We could have freaked out and gotten upset over the time lost, but instead, my husband decided it was a great time to test out our 4 wheel drive and we drove around the field (sometimes in circles) for awhile trying to find a road (and having fun muddin’).  We finally made it to our destination, mud slopping off our car for days. 🙂  It was an unexpected adventure but it was very memorable.  The kids still talk about it to this day.  I have a lot of expectations for our cruise that is coming up in just 3 months, but I know that things could happen that were not expected.  We are determined to go with the flow and have a great time no matter what.  We will plan for the worst, pray for the best, and have a relaxing, enjoyable time.  I hope you remember when planning your vacations to not hold too tight to your schedule, to budget overage money (I always plan 10-15% over budget), and to save up in advance to prevent regret, fighting with your spouse over money, and to cushion the cost of any unexpected deals you find along the way.