Thursday, November 7, 2013

Thankful November

Many people take the month of November to comment daily on different areas of their lives in which they are thankful.  This is not something that I choose to do, but strive to live my life in such a way outlined in Philippians 4:6-7 "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."  That said, I do appreciate many Facebook posts about what people are thankful for, and also that they acknowledge others publically.  

Sometimes events happen in our lives that bring to mind areas in which we should be thankful.  Whether it be someone's illness that makes us thankful for our health, someone's misfortune that makes us thankful for the good things in our life or something of the sort.  An event happened recently that causes me to remember to be thankful for the role that God has given me, as a Christian woman, wife, and mother.  I am so very thankful for the way God set up families, and for the way God organized His church.  I am thankful that eventhough I am to be submissive to my husband (Ephesians 5:22) that I am in no way less of a person than him.  I am thankful for a husband who loves me but who also know his responsibility for our family.  I am extremely thankful for God-fearing elders who keep a watch for my soul.  Hebrews 13:17 "Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as t hose who must give account.  Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you."  

Does the fact that God has placed both my husband and the church eldership "over me" make me any less of a person?  Any less valuable?  God has created these roles for my benefit, and I am so very thankful for that.  Our lives run much more smoothly when we are thankful for our roles, and when we follow according to their plan.  

Take a minute and listen to this song for a reminder to respect the roles God has given us, and to serve Him and above all, be thankful every day, not just in November.  

Monday, September 16, 2013

Ms. Mildred Cookies

About 2 weeks ago, a wonderful Christian woman lost her battle against pancreatic cancer. However, she won her crown of righteousness for fighting that good fight on this earth (2 Timothy 4:7).

Mildred Everson was a lot of things to a lot of different people.  For our family, Mildred was a wonderful Bible class teacher, great cook, fellow Andy Griffith enthusiast and dear friend.  She was a Titus 2 older woman, Mildred could admonish and exhort quite well and was an example in all areas as she taught by example to "love their husbands, love their children, be discreet, chaste,  homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed."  (Titus 2:3-5)

Sunday, as I was teaching Bible class, I noticed that 2 or 3 items I was using were directly influenced by Mildred.  The children love to sing "What I'm Going to Be, When I Grow Up" and we stress how we can be a Christian firefighter, and a Christian mother, or a Christian soldier, and how we become a Christian.  Psalm 23 can be easily taught to even 4 year olds by using her simple stick figure drawings on flash cards.  I know that my own children learned a lot sitting in her classroom over the years and I grew as a Bible class teacher as well from observing her. 

 Food and hospitality are probably 2 things that will never be forgotten about Mildred.  She was well known for her dinners that she would prepare for visiting preachers.  Meals were simple, but oh so good.  I remember asking her one time how she made her potato salad.  She was embarassed to share the simple, easy way she made the sauce but now as I mix those 2 "secret" ingredients together until I get just the right shade of yellow I'm thankful she wasn't unwilling to share.

As I remember Mildred, I also recall what she would say whenever you thanked her for something she had done.  She'd simply say "pass it on."  Passing on good works is an important part of living a life centered around Christ.  Whenever we prepare a meal for someone, or open up our homes to them we are showing our Christian light and passing it on is what it's all about, right?

Now, back to the title of this blog post - "Ms. Mildred Cookies".  What are those, you ask?  They are a light, sort of fluffy chocolate chip cookie that Mildred was known for making.  Her grandchildren loved them, as did my own children.  My 17 year old asked me to make him some today, so I did.  I also thought it would be nice for me to pass on her recipe for them so you could make some too.

Ms. Mildred Cookies
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
3 eggs
2 sticks butter
3 cups flour
4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup warm water
4 tsp vanilla
2 cups chocolate chips

Cream butter and sugars.  Add eggs - beat well - at least 5 minutes.  Add vanilla.  Mix dry ingredients together.  Add 1/2 of dry ingredients - mix.  Add water and mix.  Add rest of dry ingredients - mix well.  Stir in chocolate chips.
Drop on parchment paper lined cookie sheet (or well greased).  Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes.  Remove immediately to cooling racks.  Store in air-tight container once cooled, and layer with wax paper or parchment.  

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Just Like Brown Sugar

Sometimes when I'm baking, and I'm measuring brown sugar I think of Luke 6:38 - "Give, and it will be given to you:  good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom.  For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you."

You see, when you measure brown sugar, you need to pack it down, which means you squish as much of it as you possibly can into your measuring cup.  When it is packed down, a lot more sugar is actually used than if you just scooped it and leveled it off as you would white sugar.  This is because of the moisture content of the molasses in the brown sugar.  (But you aren't reading this for a home-ec lesson, are you?) 

Whatever we are giving; praise, encouragement, gifts of love and time, we are going to receive back proportionally to what we give.  Jesus says here that it will be given to us using a good measure.  My grandfather used to work in "weights and measures".  That means he would check scales at markets or counters to make sure their scales were accurate.  1 pound should equal 1 pound.  What we are given is going to be pressed down, shaken together and running over.  Every little bit that can possible get into the unit of measure is going to be in there.  So much that it will be spilling out all over.  Another thing to notice from this scripture is that whatever unit of measure we use in giving, that same unit is going to be used for us.  

Take a few moments and think about what unit of measure you are using.  Is it an eye dropper, that you just drop a tiny amount of praise and encouragement onto your husband?  Is it a teaspoon of time that you give your children after a busy day at work and school?  Is it a measuring cup of love and time you give your parents?  When I think of what kind of measure I want to be used towards me, I'm thinking a huge bushel basket or bigger!  However for that to happen, it's up to me.  Guess I'm just going to have to keep measuring that brown sugar and packing it in tight.

P.S.  Think about 1 or 2 people you can give a little extra to today, and do it!  Give a word gift (verbal or written), a gift of time or an inexpensive "gift" gift (card, flower, something handmade?)  You'll be amazed at how good it makes you feel, and also the blessings you will receive back.  

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Hurting People Hurt People

I haven't been a very good blogger yet again!  I think about it, have lots of ideas I'd like to write about, but between being a wife, mother, business owner, homeschooler, etc. it just gets put down on the list.  Today though, I logged onto my blog hoping to write about some good things hopefully to lift your day and encourage you and found a really ugly, hurtful comment left by "anonymous".  Ouch.

You know, in each of us is a bit of insecurity, and hurtful comments like the one I received just go right to the heart of my insecurities, and my things that I have been trying to improve.  It made me sad, but not for myself  but for anonymous.  I'm sad that anonymous couldn't leave her name.  I'm sad that anonymous  couldn't contact me directly and share her feelings about me so that we could work through them.  I'm sad that anonymous doesn't really know me, doesn't know my past, the things I've struggled with and the things I'm working daily to improve.  I'm sad that anonymous doesn't see the heart of this blog, and how if we could all ascribe to the Biblical teachings of the golden rule found in Matthew 7:12 we would be a happier people.  I'm sad that anonymous doesn't understand that to grow closer to God means we must grow closer to our Christian brothers and sisters.  I'm just reminded that hurting people at least try to hurt people.

So, dear anonymous, if you're reading this post, let's talk.  For everyone else, keep working daily at living the golden rule, putting God first in your life and being a light in the world.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Just One

A friend of mine shared this poem with me, and I thought I'd share it with you.

Just One

One song can spark a moment,
One flower can wake the dream
One tree can start a forest,
One bird can herald spring.

One smile begins a friendship,
One handclasp lifts a soul.
One star can guide a ship at sea,
One word can frame the goal.

One vote can change a nation,
One sunbeam lights a room
One candle wipes out darkness,
One laugh will conquer gloom.

One step must start each journey.
One word must start each prayer.
One hope will raise our spirits,
One touch can show you care.

One voice can speak with wisdom,
One heart can know what's true,

One life can make a difference,
You see, it's up to you!

I am inspired by this poem.  It serves as a reminder to me of the difference one person can make.  Jesus calls Christians to be salt and light.  Jesus instructs us to treat others as we wish to be treated.  We can be that "just one" and make such a difference in the lives of others.

Sometimes we allow our shyness, busyness, or other things stand in the way of reaching out.  When you are tempted to stop, remember the difference that "just one" can make.  You will be making the world a better place, one small thing at a time.

Monday, February 18, 2013

What's Your Excuse?

We've all offered an excuse for something before, and I've heard my fair share of them as well.  Just recently, I was planning a visit to a neighboring town for my business.  I had planned to visit all my clients in that town on one day, delivering product and just visiting.  What started out as an entire day planned to visit about 20, ended up being an enjoyable visit with 2.  Excuses were varied and interesting.  One said "I excercise on Saturdays" and I wondered if she spent all 24 hours of each Saturday exercising?  Another said, "I'm taking down my Christmas decorations".  Now, this was already February when we spoke and I couldn't imagine what difference 30 minutes could make in a task that was already several weeks old!

As I thought about these strange excuses, I couldn't help but remember a song I had heard a gospel quartet sing.    "Excuses, excuses, you'll hear them everyday, and the devil he'll supply them, if the church you stay away, when people come to know the Lord, the devil always loses, so to keep them folks away from church, he offers them excuses."  How many times do we offer up an excuse for something we just do not want to do?  Whether it be missing a gospel meeting, not teaching a Bible class or just not attending worship, what is our excuse really saying?

Matthew 5:37 says "But let your 'Yes' be 'Yes', and your 'No' be 'No'.  For whatever is more than these is from the evil one."  I believe we offer excuses because we don't want to hurt someone's feelings, or maybe we don't want to share the real reason we are saying no.  However look at the second part of that verse - where is our excuse from?  Satan was giving excuses to us from the beginning (Genesis 3:10, 12, 13).  

Next time you're tempted to offer an excuse, think about what it is you really want to say and why and also, where that excuse is really from.  

Monday, January 7, 2013

Reaping What You Sew Part 1

Priscilla was a seamstress in the Bible.  Her story is found in Acts 18 and throughout the New Testament.  There isn’t a lot told of Priscilla, but we can see from the brief mentions of her throughout the epistles, that she was a Godly woman, who was a worker in the kingdom.  Priscilla was a tent-maker and worked alongside her husband Aquila.  She is never mentioned in the scriptures by herself, but always with her husband. 
Priscilla practiced hospitality.  Perhaps because of sharing the common occupation of tent making, or perhaps because of sharing the common faith, Paul stayed with them.  In Acts 18:11; we see that Paul lived there about 18 months.  That is hospitality!  The couple and Paul formed a working relationship and their love and service to God kept them together as they traveled.   Priscilla and Aquila also showed hospitality by having a church meet in their home, Romans 16:5.  This seemed to be a common practice for them, as they are mentioned doing this several times in the New Testament.
Priscilla and Aquila were also missionaries, spreading the gospel with Paul and on their own.  In Acts 18:24 we can read that they had influence over Apollos and helped him to understand the scriptures more plainly.  It’s interesting here to me that in many verses, Priscilla is mentioned first, but when it comes to teaching someone else; Aquila’s name comes first.  Priscilla was a submissive wife.  Priscilla and Aquila risked their lives for Paul’s life (Romans 16:4) and this benefited not only Paul, but also the churches in that area.
I view Priscilla as a strong woman, willing to work and serve the Lord wherever she lived and in difficult circumstances.  We see in her faithfulness, kindness and longsuffering. 
Another Biblical seamstress was Dorcas.  Dorcas, was also called Tabitha and her story is found in Acts 9:36-42. Although there is not a great deal told about her, the little that is said is enough to show that she was a godly woman who was loved and respected in the Christian community of Joppa.

We know that she followed Christ because the Bible describes her as a disciple and we know too, that she was well known for doing good and for helping the poor. In the Acts account, she became sick and died. Her friends were devastated. They had lost someone they loved and who was an important part of the family of believers. But they had faith that God would do something. So much so, that they sent men to travel twelve miles to the town of Lydda, to find the apostle Peter and to ask him to come.

When Peter did come, they took him directly to the upstairs room where they had placed Dorcas’ body. All the widows were there mourning. They stood around Peter, crying and showing him the robes and other clothing that Dorcas had made.  Sending them out of the room, Peter got down on his knees and prayed. Then he said “Tabitha, get up.” She opened her eyes and sat up. God had restored her life. Peter took her by the hand, helped her to her feet, and presented her to her friends.

Dorcas’ works of stitching clothes and helping the poor may sound simple in comparison to the more visible works of Priscilla, but they were enough to gain the love of her community and enough that God saw fit to restore her life.  She was described as being “full of good works and charitable deeds.”  She did not need a women’s liberation movement to make her feel like somebody, she knew what she was and who she was.  Dorcas was a servant and because of that attitude of the heart, she was truly loved.  Dorcas was a good woman who was so loved by the family of believers that they prayed for a miracle and God granted it.
Dorcas was a woman with a giving heart and we can see in her love, kindness and goodness.
These two Biblical women were stitching two totally different items – Dorcas sewing clothing, made probably of linen and cotton and Priscilla sewing tents, made of thick, twisted goat hair.  Their works were different as well – Dorcas probably served God in a quiet way, making garments for the widows and those in need while Priscilla was a teacher seen with her husband teaching others, providing a meeting place for the local church.  However, they were both serving God and were a great benefit to the church. 
Next time, we'll see what we can apply to our own lives through these Biblical women's examples.