Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Compact Family Services

We all have basic needs as humans. We need food to eat, water to drink, a roof over our heads, and someone, anyone, to care about us. Some people are fortunate enough to get those needs met through their family, while others have no family of their own. And when you have no family, it can be hard to find food, water, and a roof over your head, especially when you are young. Compact Family Services is a Christ-centered ministry working to help those who fall into that last category of people.

Compact Family Services is a ministry of the Assemblies of God, located in Hot Springs, Arkansas, serving in 5 different ministry areas: Hillcrest Children’s Home, Highlands Maternity Home, Adoptions, Foster Care, and Transitional Living. You can learn more about each area at www.compactfamilyservices.org.

Hillcrest Children’s Home is a private, Christian, residential child care campus for children and youth ages 5-18 who have been abused, neglected, and sexually exploited. These children are offered hope and healing by being provided with a safe environment where they can have a chance to find complete restoration in body, mind, and spirit.

Highlands Maternity Home is a place dedicated to bringing hope and healing to young women who are dealing with unplanned pregnancy. They offer a loving Christian environment for young women to get back on their feet. They offer classes on both adoption and parenting so that young women can make the best decision possible for them and their child. They offer adoption services if that is what a young woman decides is best for them and their baby free of charge.

Transitional Living Center is available to graduating Hillcrest residents, aging-out foster care youth, and transitioning women from Highlands Maternity Home. While in the Transitional Living Center there are many classes and activities available to continue to assist these young people in becoming successful and independent.

There are so many ways that you can help reach the lives of these children and young adults. Prayer, Giving, Sponsorship, Foster Parenting, and Adoption are just a few ways you can help.

Prayer is always needed. Compact Family Services has a detailed prayer guide on their website to let you know just what they need prayer for.

You can Give to Compact Family Services in a general contribution or to specific projects within specific ministries. For example, you can donate specifically to the Hillcrest College Scholarship Fund to help graduating Hillcrest kids continue their education. You can Sponsor a child. Visit the sponsorship page to learn more.

Become a Host Family. Maybe you can’t commit to being a foster parent or adopting a child permanently, but you can still help make a difference by becoming a Host Family. Host families are families who host one or more children in their home for holidays, vacations, or other occasions.

Also available on their website are lists of their most needed items. Maybe there is something on that list that you can donate?

Hillcrest has a special project currently to provide massage therapy for the girls there which I shared in a previous post. Another fantastic way you could provide help for these children. Even a one-time donation would be a blessing!

You can follow Compact Family Services on Facebook and Twitter.

We are called as Christians to be the hands and feet of Jesus. Helping Compact meet the needs of these children and young adults is a great way to do that!


Monday, December 2, 2013

The Spa at Redeemed Womens Conference - Guest Post by Deb Abshier

Deb Abshier does a phenomenal job coordinating and running the spa at Women's Conference each year. She is a wonderful woman of God and a personal blessing to me. She spends Friday's each year at conference making sure as many women as possible get rejuvenated in body to go along with the rejuvenation of the spirit that the weekend holds. As you will read momentarily, sometimes the rejuvenation of the spirit occurs while being pampered in body!!



The day started with ladies arriving and unloading their vehicles, As they passed through the lobby, now spa they grew excited. Most returned to sign up for at least one massage. We had several professional ladies who volunteered their time only receiving tips in exchange. Once everyone was in the same mind of keeping a quiet and calm atmosphere, the entire day went very smoothly.

Foot washing/prayer with missionary Melodie Joice
We also had foot washing that had the option of hand massage as well. At first the foot washing was not as popular as the massages, and lacked participants. There came a turning point as Melodie Joice stepped in to give massages. I remember thinking how cool it was that she would step up to give a break and wash feet for strangers.

Melodie is a missionary to Tanzania who is itenerating this year. She teaches people about childrens' ministry. She is also a sweet hearted woman of God. Another little known fact is that her journal is pictures. She carries a camera and the pictures she takes become her journal entries.

So all the ladies continued their massages without interruption as Melodie simply stepped into the position. It was not too long before our attention was drawn to the back wall where the foot washing station was. The lady receiving the wash was also receiving a touch from the Holy Spirit. As she continued to minister to the lady we could feel the presence of God fill the room. Everyone was pleased and welcomed His presence. This continued until time to close the spa. Needless to say the foot wash line filled up too.

The spa is a treat, each year ladies are drawn into the dorm lobby for a professional massage and always say the atmosphere is peaceful and inviting. We regularly have missionaries present at Womens Conference. Last year we were blessed in the spa with the warm heart and laughter of U.S. Missionary Betty Holyfield. Several ladies were touched by here conversation and encouragement, I was one of them. For me, the missionaries that come to our Womens Conference are a huge benefit, to them and us. Missionaries are a treasure we all can support financially yes, but also with prayer. Both types of support are essential.

God likes humility, obedience and willingness to just give of what we have, doing just what He directs. The ladies who do the massages say they are blessed each year as just as much as the ones receiving the massages and it is obvious as i watch the interaction in the spa. This year we all witnessed God visit tangibly and minister to these ladies who opened to Him. Both the giver and recipient. It was a joy to be a part of the spa this year.


Monday, November 25, 2013

What We Say (And Write) Matters


Ephesians 4:29 (NIV)
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.


I love the bloggy world! I really do. I love the fact that there is an outlet for normal, everyday people, to share their talents and speak their mind. I highly favor free speech and what I am about to say is not meant to stifle that. I’m sure some people will not like this post and may be offended by it. That is not my intention at all, but at the same time, I’m not going to let that stop me from posting it.

I have read at least three different blog posts in the last week that seemed as I was reading to be fantastic posts that reflected some of the same feelings that I share with these folks on certain topics. So much so, I think as I’m reading, “I am going to share this post!”

Until somewhere in the middle of the post, out of nowhere, there is a cuss word. Not a horrible one, but one none the less, used in that context. When that happens, I will finish reading the article, but I will not like it nor will I share it, no matter how good the post is.

The types of posts I generally gravitate to reading are faith based posts about marriage, family and growing in Christ. The blog posts that I am referring to were written by people whose entire blog is based on Jesus Christ. Their entire about us page is about seeking out Christ or in one case it was a Pastor who posted it.

Now, I’m not perfect. I am not sitting here saying that I don’t occasionally have a word come out of my mouth that shouldn’t. It happens, but it shouldn’t happen in writing. If you are taking the time to write a post, there is no, “oops it just slipped”. In the context that I have read in these posts lately, there is no reason for it. You could just as easily remove the word and put an exclamation point at the end of the sentence and get the same general effect.

I just have this gut wrenching (maybe an urging from the Holy Spirit) feeling that I need to share this thought. If you create a blog that is Christ centered, you should do your best to be a reflection of Christ. While in our human form, we cannot completely reflect Christ as we are flawed humans with a sinful nature, we can be mindful of the small things that can impact the lives of our readers. Can one little word do that? Yes! It can.

In all honesty, the people who wrote the posts that I read, likely will not ever read this post. That being said, it may be pointless to post it to begin with. My goal is not to change someone’s writing, but just to put it out there that as we follow Christ and have not only the ability, but the responsibility to share Him with others, we MUST be mindful of the words we choose to do that.

Christ didn’t call us to perfection, but He did call us to a higher standard and to reflect Him in everything we do, that includes what we write and post online.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Someday

I don't claim to be a poet. This piece of literature, though original, is probably not good. It is probably not grammatically correct, or poetically sound. It probably doesn't deserve the space I'm giving it on my blog.

What it is, is my heart. It is what I'm finding myself saying regularly. Someday... Someday...

I'm waiting for that someday.



Some Days

Some days are full of joy and laughter
Living happily ever after
Dreaming of all the joys to come

Some days are full of pain and sorrow
Rushing me toward tomorrow
Hoping relief will find me there

Some days are full of happiness
Love, Joy, Peace and all the rest
Knowing my life is blessed

Some days are full of haunting memories
Nightmares flooding my dreams
Begging just to awake and never sleep again

Some days I wake up
Ready for whatever comes
Some days it is all I can do to just wake up

Regardless of some days
I’m waiting for someday

Someday my prince will come
On a white horse to take me home
Forgetting all the pain and hurt

Someday my life on earth will end
It last but a blink of an eye
Life not ending, just beginning

Someday the one who calls me daughter
Will come and take me home
No more pain, no more tears
Just worshiping around the throne

No more death, no more sorrow
No more worries for tomorrow
No more darkness, no more nights
Someday, someday soon!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Waiting While God Works



I’ve been reading You’ll Get Through This: Hope and Help for Your Turbulent Times by Max Lucado (full book review). This book parallels the life of Joseph and his journey from the Pit to the Palace with our lives today and the struggles that we are going through. I am really enjoying this book and I hope that after I finish reading, I will remember and continue to apply some of the things that I am reading.

Chapter 6 in the book is called, “Wait While God Works”. This chapter points out something that most of us probably don’t consider when we read about people like Joseph. Joseph’s journey was a long one. His troubles weren’t quickly resolved. One thing Max Lucado points out is the verse in Chapter 39 of Genesis, “Now Joseph went down to Egypt”. It would have taken Joseph at least a couple of months to walk the 750 miles from Dothan to Thebes. So in six words, we are covering a couple of months’ time.

Then Joseph spent days or even weeks on the Egyptian auction block, a decade in Potiphar’s House, and over two years in prison. In Genesis 40:14–15, Joseph asks the butler to remember him as he was being released from prison and to put in a good word for him so he could get out of prison. The butler agreed to do that. Chapter 41 begins this way: "Two years passed and Pharaoh had a dream".

“Joseph’s story appeared to stall out in chapter 40. Our hero was in shackles. The train was off the tracks. History was in a holding pattern. But while Joseph was waiting, God was working. He assembled the characters. God placed the butler in Joseph’s care. He stirred the sleep of the king with odd dreams. He confused Pharaoh’s counselors. And at just the right time, God called Joseph to duty. He’s working for you as well.”

Max Lucado. You’ll Get through This: Hope and Help for Your Turbulent Times (Kindle Locations 1071-1073). Thomas Nelson.

It is really easy when hard times come for us to feel like God isn’t working on our behalf. It is easy to think that He has forgotten us and our troubles. It is easy to feel like our pain is in vain. None of those things are true!

This chapter also reminds us about Daniel. Daniel fasted and prayed for 21 days asking God to deliver his people from a seventy year oppression they were battling. Finally on the 22nd day and angel appeared to Daniel. Do you know what the angel told him?

Then he said to me, “Do not fear, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand, and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard; and I have come because of your words. But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days; and behold, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I had been left alone there with the kings of Persia. Daniel 10:12-13 (NKJV)

Did you catch that? God heard Daniel and sent help on day 1. Why did it take 21 days for help to arrive? A principality (an evil spirit) had delayed the angel. It took the chief angel, Michael to come help him break free from the principality and continue on to complete the mission of helping Daniel.

Sometimes delays are due to God's timing and His plan for our lives, but sometimes, they are due to the spiritual forces that do not want us to break free, forces that want to keep us bound. Friends, we are in a spiritual battle that you cannot see. You can sometimes feel it, but you can’t see it. Often times we want to think that God didn’t hear us, or that He doesn’t care about what we are going through. That is just simply not true.

Troubling times come (and if they haven’t for you yet, they will). Satan wants them to derail us and to make us turn away from God. God wants to use them to make us more Christ like and draw us closer to him. All of the sufferings of this life are but a speck in time in eternity (even though it may last years on earth).

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. Romans 8:18 (NKJV)

You’ll Get Through This!! It may not be today, tomorrow, or the next day. For some of us unfortunately, it may not be until we stand before God in Heaven. If that’s you, find comfort in the fact that the years here on earth are but a blink of an eye compared to an eternity in Heaven with Him! Don't give up, so that you can make it to Heaven with Him and enjoy an eternity of peace and joy.

If we give up and we turn from God, our eternity will be far worse than our current sufferings. Wouldn't you rather cling to God and know that an end to the pain is coming rather than ensure an eternity of pain and suffering without Him?

God's plan is bigger than ours. Look at Joseph. Joseph had a good life before his brothers sold him into slavery, but he never would have dreamed that he would be second in command of all of Egypt. Those were God's plans for him!! Joseph, throughout his entire life, never took any credit. He continually gave glory to God. He didn't grow bitter of his circumstances. He trusted God and took life and all that came with it, one day at time.

We serve a God who can take ordinary people and use them in extraordinary ways. He can do that, when we trust Him and walk in obedience.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

I am Not Forgotten

We all have days when we feel forgotten. I had one of those days yesterday, and honestly, it hasn't been the only one lately. I wouldn't have used the word "forgotten" if you asked me last night how I was feeling, but I woke up with this song in my head this morning.

Great reminder that no matter what else is happening, God knows, and He has not forgotten us. Hope this can encourage someone besides me this morning.



Friday, November 8, 2013

Changing Seasons

Fall is a time of the year when the changes in the world around us become increasingly evident. While all living things continually experience change, in the fall, it becomes outwardly visible in the changing of the colors around us. Some trees and bushes go from green, to bright festive fall colors, to nothing left but limbs with little or no color at all.

I really never paid attention to this process of leaves changing colors in the fall. When I think back, I saw green, then red, yellow, or orange, and then the leaves falling off the tree all together. This year has been different. This year, God has revealed the process of change to me as I have driven to work and home this week. The colors changing in the fall, is a process. The whole tree, and even each individual leaf, doesn’t change instantly. It gradually changes colors until the green is gone.

Over the past few years I have repeatedly heard people talk about the seasons of life (funny how God stays on something until you get it). God designed all living things, including humans, to change. As humans, we go through seasons in our lives. Some seasons are good and some are not so good.

It is easy for us to look back on our lives and see the seasons, but do we notice the change?

Seasons of our lives change for a purpose. Sometimes the purpose is directly related to the new season we move into, but sometimes the purpose isn’t found in the destination, but in the journey. Trees are not pretty when the leaves all fall off and all you have to look at are the branches. They are nice when they are all green, but they are beautiful in between green and branches. That’s when everyone takes out their cameras to capture the beauty in God’s creation.

My goal this fall is to stop looking for the new season to arrive. Instead, I want to find the beauty in the journey. It’s there, somewhere. Even when a tree has no leaves left and is nothing but branches, it is still on the journey. Someday soon, new leaves will appear. It isn’t going to be just branches forever.

Even in the parts of the journey that seem ugly, rotten, useless, and hard, the journey hasn’t stopped. There are greener days ahead. Trees with no leaves, nothing but branches, are still trees and they are still standing tall. They don’t fall over or die just because there are no leaves. They are still living and changing. They haven’t been defeated; they are only waiting for the new season.

1 Peter 1:3-12 (NLT)
3 All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by his great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation, 4 and we have a priceless inheritance - an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay. 5 And through your faith, God is protecting you by his power until you receive this salvation, which is ready to be revealed on the last day for all to see.

6 So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you have to endure many trials for a little while. 7 These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.

8 You love him even though you have never seen him. Though you do not see him now, you trust him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy. 9 The reward for trusting him will be the salvation of your souls.

10 This salvation was something even the prophets wanted to know more about when they prophesied about this gracious salvation prepared for you. 11 They wondered what time or situation the Spirit of Christ within them was talking about when he told them in advance about Christ’s suffering and his great glory afterward.

12 They were told that their messages were not for themselves, but for you. And now this Good News has been announced to you by those who preached in the power of the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. It is all so wonderful that even the angels are eagerly watching these things happen.

The trials of this life and the changing seasons journey's are nothing compared the reward for trusting Him. As you journey through from one season to the next, be truly glad, for there is a wonderful joy ahead even though you have to endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine, and the reward for trusting Him will be the salvation of your souls.


Thursday, November 7, 2013

Family Life Meet Up

I was blessed to be a part of the Arkansas Women Bloggers Meet Up that was hosted by Family Life. This was the first day in a long time that I truly noticed divine connections and I knew God was orchestrating something for His glory!

The first thing I noticed before I walked in was a large monument outside the door. It read, “Dedicated by Families who want to give God all the glory”. While there is a business side to running a ministry like Family Life, I never once felt like I was in a business. Everyone we met was friendly and I felt genuine love from each and every one of them.

The day began with a tour of their beautiful facilities. When you come into the front door, you enter into a beautiful rotunda. One wall has the mission statement on it and the other has Psalm 127:1, “Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it”. Throughout the building there are photos on the walls. One wall has a timeline of their ministry on it, which I thought was really neat.

Then there was an area that displayed some of their resources. One display had Barbara Rainey’s Ever Thine Home collection displayed. Beautiful items created with the idea that Christian homes should be a place where when people walk in there is no doubt in their mind that the family living in that home is a family that is serving God. But it isn’t just about decorating your home. The Ever Thine Home collection is designed to help teach your children about different things from the Word. For example, there is an entire collection of hanging ornaments that have the names of Jesus on them. They come with a book with stories and information to share about each of the names of Jesus.

Barbara Rainey also spoke to the group while we were there. Her heart for the home and family is evident. I have heard the name Dennis and Barbara Rainey and Family Life for as long as I can remember. I have listened to Family Life Today and my husband and I have attended a Weekend to Remember Marriage Getaway early on in our marriage. I never would have imagined meeting Barbara in real life. She is such a gracious and sweet spirited woman. I am so glad that I was able to meet her.

For me personally, the best part of the day was talking with Tracey Eyster, Founder and Executive Director of MomLife Today and Author of Be The Mom. She is an unbelievable blessing to anyone who crosses her path. She is genuine and has such a heart for moms and families. In the few minutes you are around her, she will encourage, uplift, and challenge you all at the same time. I know that only Tracey will understand this, but I will never look at Macaroni and Cheese the same way again!

Speaking of Macaroni and Cheese, the food was amazing too!! It was prepared by some wonderful folks at Family Life just for us. What a blessing they were. The picture I took shows all the goodness, except for the desert. I totally forgot to take a picture of that before I dug into it. It just looked so great the picture slipped my mind. It truly was an amazing day and I am so blessed that I was able to be there!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Special Therapy for Special Girls

Do you ever hear about a cause that you just wish you could totally fund on your own because it’s just that good? Well this is one of them!!

I received this email from a friend the other day, she had already told me about this before the email, but reading her email just really made me sit back and think about how much ministries like Compact Family Services are doing for so many young lives. Here is her email.

Dear Friends,

I have a burden on my heart today for the girls of Hillcrest Children’s Home; specifically those 12-17 yrs. old.  In their short life these girls have already endured YEARS of abuse, emotionally and physically. Add to that fact they are growing up without the love and affection of a stable Christian family of their own.

Praise God for the ministry of Hillcrest!!

It was my privilege last week to meet with Ashley Grant.  She actually serves as director at Highlands Maternity Home, but works closely with the Hillcrest girls as well.

A door has opened for special love, care and healing to be brought to 15 needy girls at Hillcrest.  The Lord has connected Ashley with a wonderful massage therapist who herself was sexually abused as a young girl.  She was sent to receive weekly neck and shoulder massage treatments that strengthened her muscle and cell memory AND retrained her not to carry stress in her body. As a result of this positive healing, she became a massage therapist herself. This is exactly the care we desire to provide for these girls.

Since this massage therapist has been through the same/similar experiences, she is anxious to make a real difference in their lives.  She has offered a discounted price of $8 for 15minutes. Ashley’s goal/dream is to provide weekly sessions for all 15 girls.

I have offered to help raise 3 months worth of sessions for all 15.  After this amount of time they can document progress of each. This is a brand new way to minister to these precious girls.  They are just waiting on the funds to begin.

Here is the breakdown of cost:

  • One girl per month is $32. One girl for 3 months: $96
  • All 15 girls for one month is $480
  • The total for all 15 girls for 3 months is $1,440.  Really not that much.

THANK YOU for Prayerfully considering what God would have you do! We know the great need, now we have responsibility.

All gifts can be sent directly to:
Compact Family Services
2325 Malvern Ave.
Hot Springs, AR. 71901
Memo line: Massages

Or online at compactfamilyservices.org.
Choose Get Involved on the menu and then choose give.
Under the Bold Heading “Project Contributions”
Choose the Hillcrest Special Project Fund- 890063.
Note: Massages


Either way you choose to give, please email a confirmation of your gift amount to Ashley at: agrant@agfsa.org. 

This is to ensure all donations are accounted for this project is quickly covered!

If you would be able to contribute to this project in any amount, I know that God will bless you for it! These girls are precious to God and they have a bright future ahead of them thanks to Compact Family Services and the Hillcrest Children’s Home.




Monday, October 28, 2013

Encouragement for Today by the Proverbs 31 Ministry Team

“Encouragement for Today: Devotions for Everyday Life features 100 daily readings that meet you where you are. Written by the Proverbs 31 Ministries team, authors Lysa TerKeurst, Renee Swope, Samantha Evilsizer, and more, share from the realities of everyday life – the highs and lows, the coffee spills, humorous stories, and tender moments.”

This quote is from the Proverbs 31 Ministries website regarding this book. This is such a true statement. Encouragement for Today is a great devotional book.

I love daily devotional books and here is why. I don’t have hours or even 30 minutes a day some days to sit down and read. I can find time to read a one or two page devotional though. While I do my best to fit in time to read the Word of God directly, devotionals sometimes focus my attention to one topic or issue and help me to search that out in the Word. I’m a bit scatterbrained at times so a little focus and a specific direction to think in helps me out!

I love the Proverbs 31 team and appreciate the work they do to help women grow in Christ!!


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze.com® book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255:“Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Halloween

The end of October is here. Facebook and Instagram are full of pictures of cute kids dressed up for Halloween activities they are attending. Pinterest is saturated with pins of yummy Halloween treat recipes and super cute Halloween crafts and DIY decorations (like the peacock pumpkin and gourd pictured here). People everywhere are planning and attending all kinds of carnivals, festivals, and parties to celebrate the occasion.

Growing up, I lived in the same house for as much of my childhood as I can remember. We lived on a circle with only one way in and out. For the most part, the only people who drove through either lived on our block or were visiting someone who lived on our block. My parents knew almost all of the neighbors and trick or treating around our block was safe and fun.

When I was younger, ours was a neighborhood where people would come on Halloween to trick or treat. Flocks of kids I didn’t know would come in by the car full to our little block and would ring our doorbells and ask for treats.

Occasionally I remember us going to a carnival or fall festival where we could dress up and wear our Halloween costumes. These were either put on by our church or the Christian School that we attended. Good food, games, face painting, hay rides, and just plain fun is what I remember about attending these events.

As I got older things changed some on Halloween. Familiar houses became unfamiliar as long time neighbors moved to other communities. Fewer kids came onto our block to trick or treat with us. I grew up and had a child of my own. Now all of the sudden, I’m the adult trying to decide what is appropriate and safe for my child on this particular holiday.

Obviously when he was little it didn’t matter too much what we did. He didn’t know that we were even supposed to do anything special on that day. As he grew up and understood what Halloween was (or at least what the other kids around him said it was) he would ask me if we were going to trick or treat.

A few years we have gone to another neighborhood and became one of the “flock of kids”. Most years, I have searched out church carnivals that we could go to. I didn’t care too much what church was hosting it; I was just looking for a fun, safe place for my son to enjoy the night.

As I have grown both into adulthood and grown spiritually speaking, there are things about Halloween that bother me. Kids dressed up in costumes that just make you cringe. Short skirts with fishnet stockings, or blood and gore like your six year old just came out of the latest R rated horror film. Neither of these things (regardless of your beliefs) are age appropriate for the children I have seen wearing them.

Unless you live in a small community and still know your neighbors, trick or treating is no longer safe. You can’t allow your kids to roam the streets and even if you go with them, you don’t know what you may end up with. You don’t know what you may expose your children to without realizing that you will. I’ve been to a few homes that just felt “evil” when you walked up. Regardless of how much innocent fun you can come up with for your kids on Halloween, it is hard to avoid the spooky, scary, and sometimes evil that comes along with it.

I’m not saying that Halloween is all bad and that you can’t find something fun and safe to do with your kids. My son will participate in a few Halloween activities this year and will dress up a few times this week. I will not ban him from participating in Halloween. However, I will find opportunities to talk to him about what is ok and what is not ok for our family to participate in. I will find opportunities to help him understand what things about Halloween line up with what we believe and what things do not.

For me, it isn’t about avoiding Halloween, it is about guarding against spiritual forces of darkness and teaching my son to do the same.

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. – Ephesians 6:12-13

This year my son is dressing up as his own made up superhero, Super Jonathan (yes he made that up himself). Super Jonathan will be reminded this week about the whole armor of God: truth, righteousness, peace, faith, salvation, the word of God, and prayer. Put on the whole armor, then you can go out and be a superhero!


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Redeemed Conference - L.I.F.E.

A few days before the beginning of the Redeemed Fall Conference, I received a random text message from Angelia Carpenter, the District Women’s Director for the Arkansas Assemblies of God. She was looking for a vinyl chair and said, “If you see one anywhere, let me know”. That made me curious, so I asked her what she needed it for. She told me she had this idea to redeem a chair for conference and then auction it off to raise some money for L.I.F.E.

That is all I needed to know. I didn’t have one or know of one, but there were a few resale shops close by, so I decided to go look for her. The first place I went to, there was this chair. The only chair in the place and it was only $8.00. I sent her a picture and picked it up for her.

Have you ever heard the saying “duct tape can fix anything”? Well, duct tape can redeem things too!!

We put the mat from the chair out and had anyone who wanted to put a piece of duct tape on the chair. Collectively, ladies at conference turned this plane jane chair into a redeemed work of art!

The chair was auctioned off and we raised money for missions! What a fun way to raise some mission’s money. That is one of the things I have picked up on since I’ve been around Angelia and some of the other ladies that work with her. I am always hearing someone say something like, “we could do (insert a million different ideas here) and raise money for missions”. I love it! I truly wish I had more opportunities to say that myself. Maybe I need to start looking for them.

If you are interested in learning more about L.I.F.E. please visit the Arkansas Women’s Department website.

Redeemed Conference - Redemption Crosses

“Redemption is Jesus taking the pieces of my life, the beautiful and the broken, to create something of worth for His Glory.”

One of the activities available at conference was making a Redemption Cross. This project is truly a depiction of redemption. The idea is that we take the pieces of cloth (the pieces of our lives) and place them on the cross. When we have finished the project, we end up with a patchwork cross that is not only a great decoration to hang or put on a shelf, but it is a representation of redemption in our lives.

Earlier in the year this was done at the women’s leadership training as well as at a women’s luncheon at our church. Ladies were encouraged as they laid their pieces on the cross to pray for a specific thing in their life that needed to be redeemed. They were encouraged to let that piece represent something that they were going to lay on the cross for Jesus to redeem. What a healing time for some of the ladies who participated in that!

There was a group of ladies that came in during conference to make a cross together as a group. There was a man in their church that was going through a lot in life it sounded like. They had decided to make a cross to take back to him. They were praying over their pieces and that cross while they were making it. I wish I knew what church it was and how the man reacted when he received it from them.

On to the craftiness!!

Here is how you can make your own Redemption Cross.

Materials:
1 wooden cross (you can either make your own or buy one)
Various Material Scraps/Pieces (cut to size)
Glue (Mod Podge is the best, but can get expensive. If you don’t want to use Mod Podge, you can mix Elmer’s glue and water half and half)
Sponge Brush for spreading the glue

Instructions:
The instructions are pretty simple. You take a piece of material and spread the glue mixture on the back. Place it where you want it on the cross. For best results, stretch and flatten the material so that it is smooth and there are no bubbles or bumps in the piece. Continue doing this until you cover the entire cross.

If you are using Mod Podge, after it is finished and dry, you may want to use a sealer finish to seal the edges well. If you are using the glue mixture, we found during conference, you really had to use a lot. You almost had to soak the material for it to stick.

The cross that I made at conference with the glue mixture turned out pretty cute, but after it dried there were quite a few air bubbles that weren’t there when it was wet, so if you can spare it, I would definitely recommend using Mod Podge!

Here are some pictures from the craft room at conference.













Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Redeemed Conference - Redeeming our Relationships

The message given by Kerry Clarensau during the Saturday morning service at conference was another one that hit me between the eyes.

Because we are human, we at times will make relationship mistakes. I am not only referring to a relationship with your better half, but even relationships with friends and acquaintances can be affected by our human tendencies and emotions.

Matthew 22:34-40 talks about the greatest commandment given by Jesus. It is the most important objective in life, to love God and love others.

But when the Pharisees heard that He had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. Then one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, and saying, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?”

Jesus said to him, “‘you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”

Jesus himself (red letter) said that loving God and loving others are the two most important commandments.

In my world, that means I need to slow down and reprioritize some things. It means that when I have laundry piled up and dishes in the sink and fourth grade homework that all need to be done at the same time, it is more important for me to show love to my husband and my son than it is for me to finish everything that needs to be done. My tendency is to get stressed and be impatient with my son when we are working on homework or try and do three things at once and not give him the attention that he needs to be successful at finishing his tasks.

In my world, it means that with a limited number of hours in the day, I need to make sure that even if something else gets neglected, spending time with Jesus doesn’t.

I’m a quote person so I love when I hear people say things that I can quote. One of the things Kerry said more than once over the course of the weekend was, “We need to be Jesus with skin on”. What a great visual. We need to be showing the love of Jesus to others through our words and actions. Jesus isn’t on earth anymore to stand beside someone, but you are and I am. We can make a difference in other people’s lives by being Jesus with skin on.

Steps to redeeming your relationships:
  1. Take full responsibility for yourself (Galatians 5:13-26)
  2. Choose mercy over harsh judgment
  3. Learn from people with more experience and then pay it forward
  4. Handle conflict with grace
    • We can overlook an offense in love
    • If we need to confront someone we need to do it in love
  5.  Look for ways to encourage other people.

The Bible talks about the proper way to handle conflict. If we have an issue with someone, we are supposed to take that issue directly to the person. The reason for this is not to point out their faults, but to restore the relationship.

These principles apply to any relationship, but I’m going to take just a minute to insert something here that weighs on my heart constantly. The divorce rate in America is incredibly high and last I saw there isn’t much difference in the numbers between those inside and outside of the church. Within my immediate circle of influence I can count on one hand the number of people who are still married to their first spouse. This is due to varying circumstances and what I am getting ready to say doesn’t apply in every single situation, however, I feel the need to say it and I apologize if it sounds harsh.

While there are some acceptable reasons for divorcing someone, many times in life, people get a divorce for ridiculous reasons. Or, even if the reason may seem legitimate, they do nothing to work on their relationship before divorcing. They simply take the easy way out and sign the papers.

This is not God’s plan for marriage. It isn’t His plan for you. The pain of divorce is real. The pain it causes your children is real. The scars it can leave behind are real. If you could stick it out and go through the Redeeming process that God can take you through, wouldn’t you rather do that. Wouldn’t you rather look back on your life and say, “God saw us through and our family is still intact”? Instead of looking back and saying, “we aren’t together as a family anymore because I was just tired of fighting”. Or, “we aren’t together as a family anymore because my needs weren’t being met so I just decided to leave.”

I have personally seen families torn apart, and I have personally seen God Redeem Marriages. I can tell you from my experience, if you are struggling in your marriage, take it to God. Ask Him to Redeem it. If you are willing to stick it out and willing for God to ask you to make some changes (even if you think you are the one that is right), I believe that He will Redeem your marriage. Commit yourself and your family to Him and see what He can do. It won’t happen overnight, but I have seen it happen and I know that He can do it. Let Him Redeem your relationship.

More quotes from Kerry:
“When you fixate on something you can’t change, satan is thrilled because you are neglecting the thing you can change, YOU”

“Forgiveness isn’t a feeling. Forgiveness is a behavior. Unforgiveness ties us to the pain of what has happened.”

“You can’t feel your way into right behavior, but you can behave yourself into right feelings.”

“Love is the only thing that has ever changed people.”

Redeemed Conference - Redeeming our Perspective

Friday night’s service was an incredibly powerful service. The presence of the Lord was there from the beginning and never left. From the first utterance of sound to the last person leaving the auditorium, you knew you were in the presence of the Lord.

So many wonderful things happened even before Kerry began to speak. Anointed worship, tongues with interpretations, encouragement to keep trusting God and to keep walking in His redemption.

Kerry’s message Friday night was “Redeeming our Perspective”. We all have times when we let life get in the way of our perspective. I am guilty of that quite often actually and I was really glad that this was what she was speaking on.

Isaiah 43:1 says, “But now, thus says the LORD, who created you, O Jacob, And He who formed you, O Israel: Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; You are Mine.”

In this verse the Lord is claiming you! You are His! He created you, redeemed you, and called you by your name. He knows you and He loves you!

Psalm 139:16-17 says, “Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, The days fashioned for me, When as yet there were none of them. How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How great is the sum of them!”

In these verses we are reminded that God knew you before you were even conceived. He wrote the days of your being in his book before you even existed. He thinks precious and good thoughts about you.

These verses are a great place to start considering what our perspective should be. For me personally, but I think for women in general, we don’t give ourselves enough credit. We don’t think we are pretty enough, or good enough, or talented enough in life. We put ourselves down and we don’t feel worthy. I am the world’s worst at taking a compliment. When other people give me a compliment, my first reaction is, “yeah right”. But in these verses, God is complimenting me. He is complimenting you. He is telling you that you are worth something to Him. He is telling you that you are valuable to Him.

In Kerry’s book and in her message, she gave strategies for redeeming our perspective.
  1. Allow God to define you. 
    • Don’t compare yourself to others.
  2. Find your security in God. 
    • If I am dependent on Him, He gives me what I need moment by moment.
  3. Accept your limitations. 
    • There are certain non-negotiable limitations in life. We all need sleep, food, and there are only 24 hours in a day. 
    • Every season of life has different limitations. 
    • Live graciously within your limitations.
  4. Stop longing for the ideal.
  5. Embrace God’s purpose for your life
All of these things speak to me directly. I have struggled my entire life with feeling inadequate as I mentioned above. Never feeling like I was enough. But by God’s definition, I am exactly who I need to be, created by Him for Him and greatly loved.

Accepting limitations is something I also struggle with, but I think a lot of women struggle with that one too. We want to be the best and do it all. We weren’t made to do it all. At some point, we will reach our limit. We will reach a breaking point. We need to understand our limits and live within them.

Stop longing for the ideal. This one hit me square between the eyes. There are things in my life that I have struggled with and part of the struggle has been me wanting life to be a certain way. Life is not always ideal, but that doesn’t mean it is always bad.

This can apply in many ways, but here is an example. When I decided to go back to college after I was married and had a child, I couldn’t do everything by myself. My husband and my son had to pitch in around the house. We started teaching our son to fold towels. At first, I would let him fold them, but I would come back behind him and redo them. Now, this didn’t save me any time. It didn’t solve my dilemma of needing help getting things done. If I was just going to come back behind him and redo them, it didn’t do any good to ask him to do it to start with.

At some point, I realized that when he folded the towels, they didn’t sit pretty on the shelf, but they were clean and “folded” and put away. So, I finally let that go. As he got older and folded more towels, they started looking better. They still aren’t the way I fold them when he does them, but still, they are clean, folded, and put away.

The towels on the shelf don’t have to be perfect. The clothes in the drawers and hanging in the closet don’t have to be perfect. This is a topic for an entirely different post, but your spouse doesn’t have to be perfect! Live in reality and accept the fact that life will not be perfect. It is ok that it isn’t, because we serve a perfect God!

Embrace God’s purpose for your life. God has a plan and a purpose for everyone in life. Whatever that is embrace it head on and live it with everything that is in you.

I intend to continue to work on having a redeemed perspective. I want to continue to work on viewing myself the way God does and not letting the enemy convince me that I’m anything less. I pray the same for each of you.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Redeemed Conference – Redeeming our Sexuality

The 2013 Women’s Conference challenged me in many ways. One of the main ways it challenged me was through the workshop and messages presented by Kerry Clarensau, National Women’s Department Director for the Assemblies of God. Because of how much I want to say, I am going to post about the workshop and services separately.

The first thing on the workshop agenda was Kerry’s workshop on “Redeeming our Sexuality”. Before I say much more about this, let me just say that I read Kerry’s book prior to conference. I got to this chapter in the book and before I read it, I didn’t really expect it to apply to me. Boy was I wrong. There were things in this chapter of her book that absolutely applied to me and some of them were things that I hadn’t even considered before.

One of the things that Kerry said during this workshop was “God doesn’t want His daughters to carry around the baggage of sexual sin”. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the baggage is from you choosing to live in sexual sin. This could also apply to you if you are the victim of someone else’s sexual sin. These things, whether brought on ourselves or put on us by others are not a part of God’s plan for our lives and He wants us to live in freedom from them. He doesn’t want them to hold us back and keep us down.

When Kerry was talking about this, just her use of the phrase “God doesn’t want His daughters” immediately caught my attention. I forget entirely too quickly that I am God’s daughter. I go through life and I forget to view myself that way. This changes my perspective on myself. It changes the way I view myself. It drastically improves my self-worth and my self-esteem for me to view myself as God’s daughter. If you are saved and you haven’t thought about yourself from that perspective lately, try it!

Another thing that really got my attention was when Kerry said, “The world is really loud about sexual things, the Church needs to be just as loud.” I will admit, that this blog post in and of itself is a stretch for me. To be honest, I’m stretching myself to even write this post. The world has twisted the idea of sex to the point that it is uncomfortable for many people to even talk about (it is me). However, Kerry is right! Because the world is so loud about it, and because what they tell everyone is so wrong and full of lies, we need to be just as loud in speaking the truth.

Kerry shared five ways to set healthy boundaries around your sexuality.
  1. Guard Your Heart
  2. Avoid inappropriate conversations with your friends
  3. Don’t let the flame die
  4. Guard your heart from other men (never have alone conversation with someone of the opposite sex)
  5. Be respectful of men. (The respect we show other people is not a reflection of the other person’s worthiness; it is a reflection of our character.
You can find out more in Kerry’s book “Redeemed: Embracing a Transformed Life”.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Remembering Buck and Nelma

Buck and Nelma Carpenter
Life can take a turn in a matter of seconds. On October 20, 2011, one family’s lives changed forever. The brakes on the vehicle that Nelma Carpenter was driving went out as she was exiting off the interstate. With herself and her grandchildren in the car with her, she knew they were going to have a wreck. All she could do was warn the children it was about to happen. In that moment, one of her grandchildren, Buck, leaned over to try and protect his little cousin. The car wrecked and life as this family knew it would never be the same.

Nelma, a precious woman of God and Buck, his cousin’s hero, went to be with Jesus that day. The other grandchildren survived the wreck, but the paramedics told the family that if Buck had not shielded his cousin, there would have been a third fatality.

Prior to the wreck, I knew who Nelma was but I really had not been able to get to know her. Buck and my son were in children’s church together, but I had not really gotten an opportunity to get to know him either.

During this time, I went to church some, but I was working on my degree and I let that keep me from going to church the way that I should have been. I remember one day my husband came home from church and told me “some lady”, who he couldn't remember her name, “asked for your phone number and said she wanted to call you”. I said ok, but I didn't really expect her to call. Mostly because so many people in my life before had said things like that but never did.

But that afternoon, she did call. It was Bucks mom, Angelia. She asked me how things were going and told me we needed to take the boys to Chuck-e-Cheese one day. I think about that phone call often. I think about how much I wish we would have made it to Chuck-e-Cheese.

It wasn’t long after that, the wreck happened. I couldn't imagine going through such a thing. I remember just sitting there wondering how this family was going to make it. How do you survive such a tragedy and keep going in life? I kept thinking of how messed up I would be if such a thing happened to me. I had no clue what they were going through, but I knew that it was the hardest thing they had faced so far in life.

A few months later, Angelia asked me to go with her to a women’s service that she was speaking at in Conway. I went with her, and this was really the beginning of our friendship. As I said earlier, I didn’t have the opportunity to get to know Nelma or Buck well at all. But here is what I have been able to do.

In this new found friendship that began, I have had unique opportunities as time passed. I have had the opportunity to watch a family go through the hardest time of their life, and to do it with such grace. I have been able to watch them and learn what it means to fully trust in God. I have been able to see what it means to believe in God and His faithfulness and to keep pressing forward with Jesus despite the hard times in life.

That night in Conway, just a few short months after the accident, the message that was shared was a message of perseverance. A message of how there are seasons in life. God created us to change and grow and that through each season of life He was there with us and would never leave us.

I have heard Angelia speak several times in the last two years, most recently just last week. That night the message was about finding peace in the Lord. How God wants us to not just have a little peace, where we are barely hanging on, but how He wants us to rest in His peace. Peace is something I continually struggle with, but I looked at my friend that night, and I thought to myself, “If this amazing woman can find a resting peace, then so can I.”

I have watched her and her family show the love of Christ to others even on days when it was obvious that they were struggling themselves. They always put others needs ahead of their own and they are continually striving to point others toward Jesus.

When I think about the Carpenter’s, I think about what it means to live life fully relying on Jesus. Fully trusting in Him and fully resting in His love. And then I think about what it looks like to live that out so that others can see Jesus in them.

What an amazing family, with an amazing testimony, and amazing strength. I have often said in the last few years that I want to be like Angelia when I grow up. I say that jokingly, but I do really mean it. If I can be half the woman of God that she is, half the wife and mother that she is, then I will have succeeded in this life.

My love and prayers go out to all of the Carpenter family today and every day.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Uniquely Authentic

“Same Song Second Verse”

I don’t know how many of you sang a song with that line in it as a child. I grew up in girl scouts and there was a song we used to sing called “Fried Ham”. A silly, fun, kid song that really had no point to it at all, but that was what made it so much fun. It went like this:

Fried Ham, Fried Ham, Cheese and Bologna
And after the macaroni, we’ll have onions and pickles and pretzels
And then we’ll have some more
Fried Ham, Fried Ham, Fried Ham

Then you would say, “Same song second verse, cheerleader voice and a whole lot worse”. Then you would repeat the song but you would imitate a cheerleader while you did it. It went on and on with many different voices (cheerleader, football player, valley girl, baby, opera style, cowboy, and the list could go on). As a kid, it was fun to try and sound like these different people. It was especially fun to hear a group of elementary girls give their impression of what a football player sounded like.

Now, this song is annoying enough on its own, but when you add in the different voices, it takes on a whole new level of (annoying) fun. I’m really not sure why my thoughts came around to this song (which now will be stuck in my head for a while). However, there is a connection between it and the life that I believe we are called to live as Christians.

There is a message to be shared. There are people waiting to hear it. God has called each of us if we are His, to share His message with others. It is what we are called to do as Christ followers. The Great Commission in Matthew 28 tells us to go and make disciples of all nations. We can start doing that by starting with those in our immediate circles. We don’t all have to go to a foreign mission field to make a difference in the world. We can make a difference one encounter at a time.

That being said, it is important to note that we all don’t have the same sphere of influence. I guess this is where this song came to mind. I can reach people in my immediate circle of influence by authentically being me. Now, I could act like I was someone else, but it would not be genuine and people see through that. People can tell when you are trying to be someone you are not, and quite frankly, it is a little annoying.

If you are a cheerleader, you have a greater ability to reach other cheerleaders. If you are a football player, you have a greater ability to reach other football players. If you sing, you have a greater ability to reach other singers. If you write, you have a greater ability to reach other writers. God has called us to love everyone and I believe we have the ability to share Him with anyone we meet, however, I believe that we are each uniquely able to reach a certain few people, that possibly no one else can.

I am not saying that you should only try and share Christ with those who are like you. NOT AT ALL!! I am saying that each of our abilities and hobbies, as we pursue them, puts us in contact with people who we otherwise would not have had the ability to meet.

We were created to be unique and there is only one you. Be you and let God use you as your true authentic self to reach those who truly and authentically relate to you.

There are a handful of ladies that I have met over the last several years that I truly admire. While I want to look back one day and say that I made the same kind of impact on the world that they did, I don’t want to do it by trying to be them. I will never be them. I was created to be authentically me and by being authentically me, I will be able to reach those I was created to impact for Christ.

Dare to be uniquely authentic and see where it takes you!