28 February 2011

God is So Big and I just need to be Faithful

Keep your heart with all diligence and God will look after the universe...A.W. Tozer

This week has been a roller coaster of emotions.  So much going on with John working so many hours, the big tournament on Saturday (with over 600 competitors) and the sudden passing of John's grandmother Frances, who was 90 years old.  Yesterday after church I felt it hard to breathe with all the pressure of where to be, what to do, and who to comfort.  I was overwhelmed.  I felt myself starting to shut down emotionally.  Last night I got about 3 hours sleep because my mind was racing. This morning, praise God for the morning, I sat down to read Psalm 100.

1 Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth.
 2 Worship the LORD with gladness;
   come before him with joyful songs.
3 Know that the LORD is God.
   It is he who made us, and we are his[a];
   we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.  4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving
   and his courts with praise;
   give thanks to him and praise his name.
5 For the LORD is good and his love endures forever;
   his faithfulness continues through all generations.

This Psalm reminded me that God is much better in control than I am.  He is a Big God with broad shoulders, and my job is to just continue to rely on Him for strength, trust his hand, and allow him to be in control.  I don't understand so many things that God chooses, but my job isn't to always understand but to just be faithful in the little things.  Thank goodness I am not in control of the Big Picture.  Today my prayers are for my MIL who has lost her mother, her friend, and the role of care taker all in one instant.  My heart truly aches for her loss, because I can't imagine losing my mom.  I was so thankful my mom came to the wake with us yesterday.  My mom is such a good comforter.  She gave us a package of food/and treats for the kids and a card expressing her condolences.  I'm so lucky to have her.

I'm thankful that God is always good, his love endures forever and He is faithful.  I'm trusting in that.

24 February 2011

Saying Goodbye...

Tonight we found out that John's Grandmother Frances (Judy's mom) passed away.  Please pray for John and his family at this time, especially for Judy, she lost her father a few years ago and her only sibling 11 years ago...I'm afraid she must feel very alone right now, although we are all surrounding her, it must be so hard to lose your whole immediate family.

This weekend is John's taekwondo tournament and I'm worried about all the McInerney's because they are either running the events, speaking, or in a demo, and I"m sure their mind is else where right now (although this distraction may be a God send). 

We covet your prayers and know that we are never alone and that God never leaves us or forsakes us.

James: Beware of Personal Favoritism

James 2: 1-13

1 My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism. 2 Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in filthy old clothes also comes in. 3 If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,” 4 have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?
 5 Listen, my dear brothers and sisters: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? 6 But you have dishonored the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court? 7 Are they not the ones who are blaspheming the noble name of him to whom you belong?
 8 If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,”[a] you are doing right. 9 But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers. 10 For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. 11 For he who said, “You shall not commit adultery,”[b] also said, “You shall not murder.”[c] If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker.
 12 Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, 13 because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment.
I had forgotten that favoritism was spoken against so strongly in the Bible.  When I look at this passage it reminds that we are all CREATED EQUAL in God's eyes, rich, poor, fat, skinny, Black, White, famous, average, Harvard goers, and community college goers, God doesn't care about all those labels we put on each other.  We are all valuable and fearfully and wonderfully made!

23 February 2011

My Bucket List

My Bucket List: Things I'd like to do before I pass away...

A lot of these things I picture John and I doing once the kids are off in college or with families of their own.  It's exciting to picture your life with your best friend doing adventurous things!

1. I would love to travel to Greece!  The crystal blue waters and the history that is there (did you know John took Greek in Seminary?  He got an A plus!  He is a language wiz!

2.  I would love to go on a hot air balloon! You know how Dorothy traveled in the Wizard of Oz!? So cool to be so high up in the air...I think I would be super scared, but I would do it if John would come with me!

3. John and I are aching to go to Jerusalem and Israel, but with all the things happening in the Middle East (and there will always be issues over there until Christ comes again) it's nerve wracking to think about planning a trip...but I would still love to see the camels and the Dead Sea, and walk where Jesus walked.  And visit the Jewish temples.  John needs a reason to brush up on his Hebrew too!

4. Visit Harvard!  I know this sounds funny, but it's the most prestigious school in the United States and I would just like to walk on the campus and look around and say, "I've been there!"

5. Go to Washington D.C. when all the cherry blossoms are in full bloom.  We went a few years ago with Adrian and Violeta but in February and it was freezing, and there wasn't a cherry blossom in sight! lol  I've heard it's so pretty to see.

6. Go ice skating at Rockefeller Center underneath the massive Christmas Tree!

7. See the musical Wicked again with front row seats!  I would be very tempted to jump on stage and sing all the songs with the characters, I'm sure.

8. Take a family picture with my WHOLE family (grandparents, aunts and uncles, and cousins) and we would all be at the beach with jeans on and white shirts...I can't help it, that's just how I picture it, and all the kids would be wearing patriotic sundresses or shorts and tank tops.

9. Go on a European Cruise with my hubby and visit all our favorite places again, Italy, France, Spain...

10. Go to Prince Edward Island and see where Anne of Green Gables was filmed...walk by the trees, see the beach, visit the school house and Green Gables of course.

11. Live like an Amish person for a few days....learn how to cook and bake their popular dishes and desserts and just be around the simple life without tv, computers, or cell phones.

22 February 2011

Building Better Relationships Chapter 5

This is me and Julia this past summer at the farm.
Handling Confrontation

I'm happy to say Gina is leading next week's lesson on confrontation.  I can't wait to hear what she has in store for us.

Here is what God showed me in this chapter...

If you have a problem with another person do you...

1. confront the person
2. avoid the person
3. talk about the person to a third party
4. forgive and work on forgetting

"In Scripture we are called to put away criticism, malice, revenge and hurtful words.  We are called to put on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience and love-even when rebuking or admonishing another person."

Gossip is never the answer

Have you noticed that the times you didn't confront the person who hurt you or continues to hurt you, one of the first things you do is tell someone else about the offense?  Gossip only causes pain, and it shows are immaturity in Christ.  Sometimes we call it "talking it out with a friend" or "venting", but really it's all sugar coated ways of masking gossip.  And we are called to go to the person and as far as it depends on us be at peace with all men.  (even mother in laws) And believe you me, I am talking right to myself!!!

Making peace with all men is not easy, it takes work, it takes prayer, it takes the power of the Holy Spirit, it is SO MUCH EASIER to gossip and avoid the situation.  "Gossip sows seeds of distrust and gives us negative attitudes toward those whom Christ has called us to LOVE."

Why do we gossip?

1. Gossip is less threatening than talking face to face with the problem person.

2. The story we retell is usually slanted to make us look good and the other person flawed.  We fail to realize the damage we inflict on another's reputation.

3. We try to manipulate people to join our side.

4. We gain sympathy for ourselves by telling the dreadful way we have been treated.

5. Gossip makes us feel powerful--we know something someone else does not know.

6. We have poor communication skills and often don't know how to talk about a problem without making in worse.

WHOA!!!!!!!!!! Are you as convicted as I am right now?  And looking at the reasons why we gossip only makes it worse because we realize how immature and hurtful it really is than just a face to face talk.

How are we to treat a gossip: 

Proverbs 20:19
A gossip betrays a confidence; so avoid a man who talks too much.
What cluster of problems does Paul list along with gossip?
2 Corinthians 12: 20

20 For I am afraid that when I come I may not find you as I want you to be, and you may not find me as you want me to be. I fear that there may be discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, slander, gossip, arrogance and disorder. 

How did John handle gossip?

3 John 1: 9-10

9 I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to be first, will not welcome us. 10 So when I come, I will call attention to what he is doing, spreading malicious nonsense about us. Not satisfied with that, he even refuses to welcome other believers. He also stops those who want to do so and puts them out of the church.

"Scripture teaches us that gossip not only separates the best of friends but also brings anger, strife, and quarreling.  Gossip is the work of Satan and is a primary weapon he uses to destroy Christian fellowship."

Action Steps To Take on Gossiping

First and foremost, confess your sin to God, but then don't just feel bad about being a gossip repent or confessing your sin means that then you turn away from that behavior and head toward a new, better behavior.  The author suggested contacting a friend/coworker/family member that you usually are sharing negative info with tell them that you are sorry for involving them in your gossip and share that you want to change, they can even hold you accountable (very humbling, but that's ok, it'll keep you from tripping up in that area again).

This chapter also goes into rebuking and confronting others but I will save that for next Tuesday because there is a lot of scripture to share and go over!  It will also give me a chance to pray and ask God to show me where I fall short and how I can change.

Happy Tuesday!

21 February 2011

My Spa Saturday

Sometimes you need "alone" time and "quiet" time.  For Valentine's Day John got me a 3 month membership at Massage Envy.  I booked my first appointment for this Saturday at 4pm.

John has taekwondo on Saturdays til about 2 or 3pm, so what I did was put a 4lb chicken in the crock pot and made a lemon chicken roaster (recipe to come this week...I even took photos this time!) It was seasoned and ready to go at 8:45 am, and had a good 8-10 hours roasting and filling my home with yummy smells all day.  I also made some white rice and took out the corn John would need to heat up.  I did this so that dinner would be easy and delicious and one less thing for him to worry about.

At 3:20 pm I left the house for my appt.  The first appt you have to arrive 15 minutes early to fill out paperwork.  I had a green tea as I waited.  Emily was my massage therapist and she was kind and friendly.  Most times when I get massages I feel like I have to talk to the therapist the whole time, but this time I just laid there and relaxed and it was really great.  Did you know that 1 hour of massage gives your body 6 hours of rest!  That was great because I only had 4 hours of sleep the night before (Mark is teething, poor guy).

After my massage, it was 5pm, and I was dressed and ready to go home, John texted me (Honey, we are all fine here, why don't you get waxed, and get a manicure/pedicure, too!)  Seriously, he spoils me!  I get my eyebrows done about every 2-3 weeks, but right next to Massage Envy in East Brunswick, is a European Wax Center, my sister Sara gave me a coupon for a free wax for your first visit.  She highly recommended the underarm wax (I was so scared).  I figured I have a high tolerance for pain and it's free, so why not...and so I went in and it was so nice inside.  Very professional and clean and bright...much nicer than any of the salons I go to near me.  I got waxed and it did hurt a little but overall it was well worth it.  Quick and easy.

Then I drove closer to home and took John up on the pedicure offer.  I haven't had one since November!  I picked a light shade of pink and sat back and relaxed...it was heavenly.  Knowing my kids were with their daddy, and had a good meal, made me feel comfortable too.

So that was my Spa Weekend.  I skipped the manicure, because that would have taken longer and by that point I just wanted to be home.  I arrived at home around 7pm, kids were fed and had pjs on, and John had dinner ready for me.  He even made corn bread! My fav.

*******************************************************Here's what's to come this week:

Tuesday: Building Better Relationships Chapter 5

Wednesday: My Bucket List

Thursday: James Walk Thru

Friday: How do you do it series...

Have a great week!!!

18 February 2011

16 Text Challenge

Today is a secret really.  John has no idea that I will be texting him all day how much I love him.

He's been so busy at work that he doesn't really have time to read my blog much lately...so I've been writing him notes in his lunch to tell him all about our day.

Like two days ago, when Julia said, "Mom, you're my best friend."  And yesterday how Mark said "No!" to just about everything I suggested, with a smile, I might add.  And just yesterday when Julia said, after nap time, with no prompting, "Mommy thank you for taking us to the store and playing with us...thank you."  These are the moments I wish he could share with us, but he is hard a work, and for that I am thankful.

So today is a way I want to bless John and let him know just how much I care...and 16 texts because we've known each other for 16 glorious years...we met at age 16.  I've already sent 4 texts, and I'm excited to send more.  So today, if there is someone you are thankful for or truly care about, and you just want to bless them, send them a bunch of texts telling them so...it's really fun!!!  Don't be shy to share about it with me!

17 February 2011

A Perfect Day: Story time at the Library

Well we spend at least one or two days a week in a library class for story time and craft time on Mondays, or story time and bubbles on Wednesday with Ms. Marilyn or Thursdays with Mr. Darren.  It's whatever works best for our little schedule that week, and this week it was Wednesday.

Julia and Mark love to walk in and use the water fountain.  It's one of the high lights of going to the library, don't ask me why, but they are either very thirsty kids, or they like standing on the step stool, either way it's a must.

Then we head over to the play area.  Julia likes to play with the barn and all the animals and Mark likes to play with the beads.  This has been a great opportunitiy to teach them to share with other children.  We have had many a lesson and many a melt down because we wanted all the farm animals (Miss Julia likes to line them ALL up) or when we build a castle we cry if someone knocks it down.  All good learning opportunities to share, take turns, and not get so upset if something falls.

The library gives the kids freedom to choose what they want to do, which I like because each time they pick something different.  (We go 10-15 minutes before story time so they can play, and we stay 10-15 after wards so they can play again).

Today Mark enjoyed walking all around and playing on the computer, even though it was rather sunny.

Sydney was helping him with the headphones and sound.  But he loved holding the mouse and hearing the songs and words of the characters.  He really didn't want to go to story time today...he had a lot of paper work to do on the computer, like his daddy...

This is Ms. Marilyn (we need to work on a good gift for her because she is wonderful).  She reads all the books, she sings tons of songs and finger plays, and she is kind, and sweet like a grandma.  She blows the best bubbles and even takes Clifford a huge red dog out of the back closet and let's the kids pet it.  Today there were over 30 parents and kids in class so we skipped Clifford time.

Julia and Mark posing for the picture.  Usually Mark is kept on my lap (he loves to escape). And Julia sits right next to me.  Julia is getting too old for this class, so we may have to start coming at 11:00, but I like this group for Mark, and I like a lot of the moms in this class...

Julia notices all the cute babies in class and turns around and tells me about them.  I have to remind her to listen to Ms. Marilyn's story.  But I do love that face of hers!

Bubble time!  Julia is so sweet she always, always catches a bubble for me and brings it to me!  Who does that?  My girl...

Mark is in the middle amazed at the bubble around him...look at those lips and cheeks...munchable

Another highlight today was seeing Ms. Amy and her daughter Sydney and Lucas in the library.  She let Julia hold Lucas and Julia was forever grateful...even when they almost tipped over...

Julia is a baby magnet...

Thank you Ms. Amy!

Time to color with Sydney and Gavin.  They love this part.  They can pick any print out by the librarians themselves and plop down near some crayons and go to work.  We've had melt downs when we had to stop coloring too...

Mark enjoyed being with the big kids!  He was eating his bagel and coloring and sitting like that in the chair...it drove me crazy, but he was fine, I just need to RELAX!

Another perfect day at the library.  We stayed for a full hour.  We got home around 11:10, had lunch, did school, and then the kids napped for almost 2 hours.  It was a good day!

16 February 2011

New Year's List Update

So it's mid-February, and we are all wondering, how are we doing with our New Year's Goals or Resolutions.  If you don't remember my New Year's List click here and you will see the whole post, but my list was as follows:

* Date nights will be put on the calendar!  And at least 1 date outside the home each month! (a big deal once you have little ones and have to find a sitter)

* Trying at least two new recipes or more a month.

* Beginning to cutback my commitments in ministry at church, since I do: nursery, beginner church, Sunday school, and ladies Bible study, not to mention being on the women ministry team.

* Now that all my scrapbooking materials are downstairs and in an accessible space (not upstairs in Mark's room which did me no good since when he slept and I had time to scrapbook he was in there) beginning to scrapbook my kids birthday books.

* Blogging less and not feeling bad about it!


Well, I must say, God has really allowed me to keep to my promises this year, and I have had some accountability with some dear friends who check in with me, especially about over-committing myself at church.

This is the face of one very happy lady!

1. Date nights will be put on the calendar!  John and I have gone on several dates recently, thanks to my mom and my sister Sara who are always, always willing to help with Mark and Julia.  One night we went out to dinner and a movie (I savored every bite of my steak dinner) and we laughed and laughed at a silly movie together.  Just this past weekend we went into the city all day with our traveling buddies and we had a blast, my friend Vivi had to keep me from skipping down the sidewalk, I was just so happy to be with John and my friends and enjoy our time in the big city.  We've even planned a few date nights after putting the kids to bed.  We just put everything else aside (paperwork, dishes, etc.) and grab a snack and watch a movie together.  Those are the best nights.  And we don't have to spend a dime!  John does like looking on our family calendar in the kitchen and when he sees the words DATE NIGHT he is one happy camper!

2. Try at least two or more recipes a month.  Okay, I was just showing off with this one, I've been trying at least one or two new recipes a week!  Between my friends sharing with me, and Suzette's blog, I've been a busy lady in the kitchen.  New recipes make me feel GOOD.  I'm using different ingredients.  I'm using supercook.com (Suzette suggested this on her blog...you have to try it out!  You just plug in the food in your own pantry and they give you recipes so you don't even have to leave your house) and my Real Simple magazine which always has great recipes and food tips!

3. Beginning to cutback on my commitments at church!  Done! I've decided to lead Ladies Bible Study one more year for the 2011-2012 year, simply because I love it and I can really see God blessing our ministry and growing our group. I have already spoken to our Sunday School Superintendent (this past week) and told her I will not be teaching K-5 Sunday School next year.  I will continue to teach through May, but then will stop (It was a hard thing to do, but I know God will provide a new teacher).  Sundays were becoming so stressful and whirlwind like for me.  I was starting to dread going to church because I had so much to do there.  And with two kids and a husband who need me it was getting to be one of the busiest days of the week for me.  Now I feel like I can enjoy Sundays again, and believe you me I am still involved at church, but I let go of 2 teaching ministries (Beginner Church and Sunday School) and I'm looking forward to going to a Sunday School class in the Fall!

4. Beginning to scrapbook my kids birthday books!  I'm already working on Julia's birthday book and loving it.  It's taking me a lot longer than usual because of home schooling and all my teaching commitments at church, but this summer when we take a break from school-time I will be able to catch up even more!

5. Blogging less and not feeling bad about it!  I find it funny that I have been blogging less this year, and yet my followers continues to grow!  I'm at 30 followers!  (My goal is to have 40-50 by next year, if not more.)  Fact is, my life has gotten very busy this past year, sometimes I'm home all day with two kids by myself, John doesn't get home til late most evenings and so I've had to learn to cut back on computer time.  I tend to feel bad if I don't blog every day of the week, but I don't know why.  No one has put a pressure of blogging daily on me, just myself, so I've learned to let it go, and to blog when I can!  No worries!  Time with my kids I will never get back and so investing in them is very important to me.

15 February 2011

James: Keep Oneself Unspotted from the World

James 1: 21-27

21 Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.
 22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.
 26 Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. 27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. 

I need God's Word like I need breakfast (and a great cup of coffee) in the morning.  I can't have a good day without taking time to refill and recharge my mind and spirit.  I really need to hear from God and see what His plans for my day are.  I'm really good at making my own schedule and plans, but I'm finding the days that I really seek God and ask Him to show me what He has purposed for me each day He gives me really neat insights and I actually get more excited about the day.  We can get so bogged down in the nitty gritty of cleaning our house, dressing/feeding our kids, going food shopping that we forget to be joyful and excited each day for what God has planned for us!

Here is how God spoke to me as I read these verses in James.  Right away in verse 21 it says, "get rid of"  that is an action phrase...what can I lay aside, get rid of, let go of today...what filthiness and wickedness is in my own heart and life...lust? gossip? materialism? pride? whatever it is James tells us GET RID OF IT!  And the next action phrase is, " and accept the word planted in you."  So get rid of the filth and accept the truth that God has implanted in your heart and soul.  Which means, we should actually be reading the truth, right?  On a regular basis, right?

verse 22 says, "Do not merely listen to the word, BUT DO what it says."  So basically just reading the Bible isn't enough because we are to LIVE out our faith!  Actions should spring from our listening of the word.  Read the Bible...YES...and the next step is to APPLY it to your life, and LIVE the way it tells you to live.  Just reading it isn't enough because anyone can just read it or know the truth that is in it.  It takes a step of faith to live out it's truth.  "Be doers of the word, not hearers only!"

Guess what verse 26 talks about??? OUR TONGUES!  I told you our words and our mouths are a hot topic in the Bible!!! Taming the tongue and using self control with our words is so beyond us that we really need God's power to help us in this area.  We need to ask God to bridle our tongues, or else, they will get us into a LOT of trouble and heart ache.

I loved verse 27  "Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble and to keep oneself unspotted from the world."  God has a tender spot for orphans and widows, those who cannot help their circumstances and desperately need aid and assistance.  People who are hurting matter to God, do they matter to you?  When was the last time you cooked a meal for someone who needed it, or lent a hand for someone who could never repay you or might not even be able to thank you, when was the last time you did something for someone else in secret so noone but Jesus knew?  Many times we do good things for all the wrong reasons.

God is challenging us here by saying we are to be unspotted from the world, we are to be different, we are to do good simply because God is good to us, not for praise or honor, although God will bless us, but our motive should simply be to bless others because God blesses us.

I'll leave you with a quote, "The serene, silent beauty of a holy life is the most powerful influence in the world, next to the might of the Spirit of God."  Pascal

Psalm 96:9 "Worship the Lord with the beauty of holy lives."

14 February 2011

Happy Valentine's Day

Yesterday we spent our Valentine's Day on a double date in NYC with our nearest and dearest Adrian and Violeta!

First, we went to the Guggenheim Museum and then we went out to dinner.  I could have skipped the whole time, it was wonderful.

Adrian and John made us laugh the whole time, and Vivi and I kept warm by walking arm in arm and drinking lattes most of the day.

It was so fun to be in NYC with friends and hang out.  We talked, laughed, observed art, ate, walked and enjoyed the lovely city and the rather warm temps (it was around 45 and felt like spring since the week before it was in the teens).

It was a great day, and I got to spend it with my handsome Valentine and lovely friends...who could ask for more!?

13 February 2011

Mark and the sleepless night

Mark barely slept last night...he went to bed by 7:45 but by 12:30 he was up and in our bed.  By 3:30 I could tell he had a fever, and a cough, and a stuffy nose.  Poor guy.  But we had a big day ahead of us with church, John leading Sunday School class, and then our double date with close friends in the city for the day (to a museum and then a restaurant for dinner).  So I put him back in his bed, but an hour later he was back with us feeling pretty miserable.  I gave him Tylenol at 7:30 am but I felt so bad for him because he wouldn't eat, and barely drank his soy milk.  So...please pray for my little man today.

He's normally so happy go lucky, but today I think the sleepless night, the runny nose (the fever is gone) and the watery eyes just have him downright sad.  He was excited to hear that Grandma was coming over, right away he said, "Grandma hug, Grandma kiss!"  It was the first time he perked up...I did get him to eat some melon, and two hershey kisses and some grapes.  And he drank some juice and soy...but I know once we leave the house at 1:15pm I will be a nervous wreck hoping he is ok.

Praying my mom can handle my rambunctious Julia and my sick baby Mark today...

11 February 2011

James: Swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath...

James: 1: 19-20

"So then, my beloved brthern, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God." NKJV (New King James Version)

19 My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20 because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. (NIV)
I love how both of these versions read.  Here is what speaks to me:

1. Kristi, be quick to listen!
2. Kristi, be slow to speak!
3. Kristi, be slow to become angry!

Talk about needing the Holy Spirit's power!  This is probably the exact opposite my initial reaction is when I've been hurt or criticized.  I want to start defending myself, point out my good points and attributes, and get really angry because how DARE this person hurt ME! Right?  Wrong!  Chapter 1...it's not about ME...it's not about YOU.  It's all about God!  And when we are quick to speak instead of listen and we are super angry, guess what..."it does not produce the righteousness that God desires for us."  God doesn't want us to react in anger.  He doesn't want us to defend ourselves...He does a great job of fighting our battles, remember...the battle is the Lord's.  God is our defender.  Sometimes we need to, to put it bluntly, shush up and listen and chill out!

Take a deep breath, let the other person speak, and ask the Holy Spirit to help you remain calm because if you want the righteousness of God to flow through you then that is how we are to behave.  If you are a yelling, ranting, and raging crazy woman (did I say that out loud? lol) then chances are you didn't stop and pray and ask God to help you in the situation.

Quick to hear...Slow to speak...Slow to wrath...

It also reminds me of the Proverb (10: 19) that says, "In the multitude of words sin is not lacking, but he who restrains his lips is wise."

Oh, Lord, we need your help in this area, because taming the tongue is very difficult.  Teach us to be good listeners and really hear what others are trying to tell us.  Remind us that it is not about us, but all about YOU!  Help us to be wise with our words today!

10 February 2011

James: The Temptation Talk

James 1: 12-18

12 Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.  13 When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14 but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. 15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.
 16 Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters. 17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. 18 He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created. 

 Have you ever blamed God or gotten angry with God because you messed up and you felt God kind of set you up or wanted you to fail?  I can't think of a particulary instance right now but I'm sure I've been angry with God before about the sin that I allowed in my own life.  Often times we need someone to blame, and it is very difficult to look inward and much easier to play the blame game.

I found comfort in these verses knowing that God can't and doesn't tempt us because he can't be tempted by evil.  He is a holy God.  The temptations that we face are just a part of life and temptation in and of itself isn't wrong.  Money isn't bad when used properly.  S*x isn't bad when saved for the marriage bed.  But when these things (and countless other temptations) are taken out of the context that God ordained them to be, and when temptation gets the best of us, our own evil desires (because we all have wicked,sinful hearts that desperately need cleansing from a Savior) entice us to go farther than we should go and we stop looking to God as our authority and we begin to lust after the flesh-filled things of the world.

"Don't be deceived" this verse says.  We need to constantly be in God's truth so we aren't deceived.  The world has all of it's answers about sin and temptation and desires, but God has created the world and is our authority, not the god of this world (you know who he is).  Every thing good comes from God, God wants what is best for us, that is why He gives us parameters and laws and rules, to protect us not to stop "our fun".  He only wants what is best for us.

In verse 15 it says "when desire is conceived it gives birth to sin and sin when it is full grown brings forth death."  Not a happy series of events...our wicked hearts have these evil desires that when we allow them to control us and don't bring those things to God for help then those temptation will lead to sin and when sin is full grown in our life it brings forth death!  It just reminds me that something as little as a thought or desire can ultimately destroy part of me or even all of me if I don't tap into the power of the Holy Spirit and ask for help.

God wants us to "endure temptation", He loves us and will give us the strength we need just when we need it if we are willing to ask for it.  I don't know what your struggles might be, but you and God do.  I pray that we will be wise and seek God's truth so that we are not easily deceived by this world.  We constantly need to re-program our minds and renew our minds with God's Word.

07 February 2011

Secret Encourager Reveal

Our Secret Encourager Reveal was this Friday evening, and since it was the same weekend as the Missions Conference we had two missionary women speak at the event!

One of the speakers was my Christianne who is ministering in Philadelphia right now.  She is married with a 2 1/2 year old son Judah, and they spent the weekend with us.  Judah and Julia are such cute buddies.  (I'll post about their stay tomorrow.)

I've known Christianne (to my left) and Lisa Douglass (to my right) for almost 30 years (more like 28)!  We met as 4 year olds and were in Pioneer Girls together.  I love both of them and am so glad we have remained close.

Clare (in charge of the program) and Irma

The secret encourager program started in October.  Gina Lang and I took about 70 names and randomly paired women together.  So for the past four months we have been praying for, writing cards for, sneaking gifts at church to, and emailing secretly another woman that we might not have ever really talked to or met.  Then on Friday at our big reveal each woman went around the room and shared how her person blessed her and then the woman would stand!  It was so cool!  I got to "man" the table each Sunday and would make sure gifts were given out and lots of people thought I was their secret encourager because of that, it was cute.

Loyda and Nancy
Before we sat down to eat and reveal we sang some songs together, always a blessing to worship together.

  We had an awesome turn out...out of the 80 women in the program only about 6 or 7 didn't show up.  After the reveal we listened to Debbie Bannon missionary to Lithuania and Christianne speak and then we all stood in a circle and sang Circle of Friends.

Thankful that the night was a huge success and for Deb and Ev who watched my munchkins at home til John arrived.  It was a great evening and lots of women made new friends, or got to reconnect with old ones.

05 February 2011

Spiced Up Steak

Thanks to Suzette's idea of going on SuperCook.com I found a really great recipe using all the spices, and ingredients in my pantry and fridge!  This is just a simple recipe to add to your steak to spice it up, and you can choose your own sides.  We had mashed potatoes and green beans on the side.


8 pieces of sirloin steaks (we only used 2 for John and I...the kids aren't steak fans)
1 tbsp thyme (I used 1/2 tbsp for each spice since we had less meat to cover)
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tbsp paprika
1 tbsp oregano


1. Mix all of the spices together including salt and pepper
2. Lightly coat the steak with the herbs on both sides.  Cook on high heat for 2 min on each side.
3. Serve with the sides of your choice!

I loved this little recipe because I never would have used those herbs on my steak and the flavor combination was delicious!!!

04 February 2011

How do you do it series...entertain so much (how do you keep an active social calendar)

I love to entertain and since John and I have been married we have kept up a busy social calendar!  Just because we have kids doesn't mean we don't get to share our lives with our friends anymore, it just means it's a little bit less and much more enjoyable because the kids get to meet so many new and wonderful people.

Our family teases us and says they have to "get on our calendar" when they want to see us (which is totally not true since we try to see the grandparents at least every week, on birthdays, on holidays, and we pop over just for fun sometimes to get a change of scenery).

Recently my Uncle Mark (cancer survivor and new senior pastor of a church) , who lives in California with his wife Marie and 18 year old son Paul, (he is very special to us not just because of his love for the Lord, but because his boldness and friendship allowed John to see that their are "cool" men out there with a passion for Christ!) visited us for two days, and although it was busy, the kids adored seeing him, I baked a ziti which kept us happy and fed, and Mark had no problem playing in the snow with the kids and watching kid movies with us.

Judah and Julia last year during the 2010 Mission's Conference

This weekend, even though My Marky has stitches and Julia has a cold we will be entertaining again with some missionary friends.  Christianne, Grant and Judah will be sleeping over and going to our church all weekend for our Missions Conference.  I grew up with Christianne since we were itty bitty at SW...and her son Judah is only a few months younger than Julia.  Mark is doing better than well, and Julia's spirits are high and she is excited to see Judah... I did warn Christianne that Julia had a cold, but she said, no problem Judah did too, this is just how life with toddlers is, they get colds and life still goes on!  (Although we will be keeping our germs to ourself in our house and not spread them at church on Sunday...only Daddy will go since he teaches sunday school).

Entertaining and having people over is what we do best.  We love to host and have guests because that's just how God created us.  There are many weekends when it's just family time but at least once or twice a month on the weekends we have company.  And during the week we love play dates with friends and going to special places to meet new people!  Hanging out with our friends and family is like medicine to our souls...no really!  It makes us happy to share a few hours with them and sharing our home and space and our lives with others is what matters.  Building relationships takes time and it is a commitment and sometimes a sacrifice, but it is worth it. 

02 February 2011

Mark's Accident (Twenty Months)

My sweet boy had just finished his soup and I took him out of the high chair as I was cleaning up the kitchen.  John surprised us by coming home early and he and Julia were in the basement playing.

Mark was toddling around like normal, holding a piece of his roll from dinner and he walked into the living room to follow me (for the life of me I can't remember why I was in there) and the next thing I knew he tripped over his feet and fell right on the corner of the coffee table.

Praise God John was home because once I heard the strange crying (definite pain) and the blood I knew this was no ordinary fall.  And the panic set in!  I mean John heard me scream his name, darted up the stairs, and grabbed Mark and began applying pressure.  I was frozen with panic and fear and John just kept walking me through what I needed to do, reminding me to calm down and breathe...I literally was having a panic attack.  I don't know why but it was awful.  He decided we need to go to the ER.

John continued to care for Mark (who had stopped crying and was just sucking his thumb...the bleeding had also stopped, another good sign) and I grabbed Julia, her coat and boots, Marks shoes and coat, the diaper bag, and Mark's blue comfort blanky (so glad I brought this because we were at the hospital for about 4 hours and it really helped him).

The hospital ride was only about 10 minutes but Julia's constant questions were a lot to take when all we wanted to do was get there and get mark better. Julia started to talk to Mark, "Mark, what happened boy? You got a boo boo? Awww, do you want me to kiss it?" To which he replied, "Mmhmm."  It was precious.  She is a great big sister.

We were moved to fast track at the ER...although we had to wait for the surgeon time went by quickly when a neighbor came to sit with me and Mark and while John arranged for his sister to care for Julia at home.  John drove Julia home and came back in time before the plastic surgeon came to work on Mark.  All the nurses were great and so friendly and comforting and Mark was so good.  He was saying Hi to everyone and singing with me.  I just kept trying to distract him and sing with him.  He wanted to walk around but I didn't allow him to.

Around 8:15 or 8:30 the surgeon came in took charge and by 9pm everything was done.  John stayed with Mark during the surgery...mommy would have cried her eyes out.  I was outside the room and hearing him scream and cry for me was hard, but it was a quick procedure.  We were so glad we had a great doctor.  By 9:35 we were picking up his antibiotic at CVS and Mark was fast asleep in the car seat.

Thank you Lord for keeping all of us calm and safe and for giving us a great doctor.  The stitches will be removed next Tuesday.  Please pray for quick healing.  Mark is doing well today.  I have a CLOSE eye on him!  Pray for John as he had to travel back to Warren NJ for workshops for the rest of the week, it was hard for him to leave us last night.

01 February 2011

Building Better Relationships Chapter 4

Encouraging One Another

I love this chapter and I LOVE encouragement!  Who doesn't, right?  I have a pretty good work ethic, but give me a little encouragement and I will just BLOOM!  When John compliments a meal, or how the house looks, boom, I just want to do even better!  When my principal would come to observe my class as I did a lesson and leave a positive note, whoa, super big smile planted on my face!  When my younger sister would compliment an outfit I put together, I would feel like a million bucks!  It's just amazing how powerful our words are to people and how much impact an encouraging word can have on someone's day.

Here are some "speech facts":

* Psychologists estimate that each day we have about 700 opportunities to speak.
* Talkative people utter about 12,000 sentences a day, which is approx. 100,000 words.

Key question: Are most of your words positive or negative?

Estimate how many of your words are negative and discouraging ___and estimate how many of your words are encouraging to others ____.  Could you use some improvement in those numbers?  We all could.

The Bible tells us that the power of life and death is in our words (Proverbs 18:21).  That's why we don't give our children mean or degrading nicknames that may seem funny because we want our children to always know how much we loved, adored, and cherished them!  Think about your childhood, can you remember a time when someone said something to hurt you?  How did it affect you?  Did it impact your day, your week, your month or longer?  I'll never forget in fourth grade being called the "N" word by a male student in class.  I was so shocked, and even more shocked when my teacher didn't believe me...he made a big deal about asking students if they heard it, which they all did.  I was the only person of color in that school (as light as I am, but still it was enough to get such an awful word to be labeled to me) and it stayed with me, and it hurt.  I think the worst part was my teacher's reaction.  I never gave my teacher any trouble, I did my best in school, and yet my teacher didn't believe me.  My best friend Cindy stood up for me, and she was my teacher's favorite...then he had the boy sent to the principal's office and he was expelled from school for a few days.  Words are powerful and our words can bring life or death.

Hebrews 3:13

"But exhort one another daily, while it is called "Today" lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin."

We are told to encourage each other daily...

If you look up the words "comfort," "exhort", and "encourage" in a NT concordance or Greek dictionary of the NT there is only one Greek verb for all three translations.  The word is parakaleo, which means a "calling to one's side."  The Holy Spirit is called the parakletos because He is the one who comes beside us to help, comfort and encourage us.

I'll never forget my youth group leader Duane Floyd.  He was an awesome man of God and he had us all memorize:

Ephesians 4:29 " Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, and that it may impart grace to the hearers." NKJV

The words that come out of our mouth are really an overflow of our heart.  Matthew 12:34 says "out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks."

So if you have been struggling with your words lately, or you haven't been very encouraging to others, then take time to hang on the Vine! (Joyce Meyer-ism)  If you want your life/your words to be the fruit of the spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and self-control...then take time to spend time with Jesus.  Have quiet time with Him.  Sit down and listen to what He has to say to you.  Don't worry about how long it is, or what your check off list of pray, read, write is...take time to just be with the Lord, and He promises us that when we spend time with Him we will be changed.  He transforms us and renews our minds and changes our hearts.  His word is transforming!

I want to be an encouragement to all of you today!

Here are some actions steps you can take today...
*Pray for others, and tell them you are doing so!
*Tell your children/spouse/friends/parents how special they are to you and to the Lord.
*Speak your positive thoughts to the person who inspired them.  Don't just think to yourself, oh that sermon was encouraging...tell your Pastor so!  Don't just think, that song really touched my heart, tell the singer!  Don't just think, that was a delicious meal, tell the cook!
*Recognize others' God-given gifts. Say, "I appreciate what you said in that meeting." "I appreciate you setting up our class."  "I appreciate your ministry to my child in sunday school."
*Stop criticizing others.
*Encourage others with notes or phone calls.
*Spur others on by offering a helping hand when they want to quit.
*In a group setting practice encouraging others on their birthday, anniversary, or other special days (Valentine's Day is coming up...)
*Institute a "Family Night" in your household-a night of encouraging one member.  All other family members tell the person whose night it is one thing they appreciate about him or her.  Choose someone different the next week! (I'm gonna try this as the kids get older...this will be fun!)

Dear Lord,
We can all be quick to criticize or be sharp with our tongues.  Help us to remember there is power in our words.  Help us to be an encouragement to others.  Forgive us when we are slow to encourage and quick to critique. 

Have a great Tuesday!!! I love you oodles and oodles!

Happy February!
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