Thursday, December 4, 2014

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!





 
 
There seem to be so many things to be thankful for this year. 
 
 

 
 
 
Health and family togetherness are certainly very high on the list this year.  These are things we can just not take for granted. 
 
We are especially thankful for friends and family who have come through potential harm, protected by God's kind mercy this year. 
 
And we are thankful for those dear ones (you included!) who have become even dearer with each new year spent together.
 
 
 
 
 


We had to give a fun "hat tip" to my mom's cute expression of happiness through my entire childhood. 
 
Mom, a figure skater for many years at the same rink as the famous Dorothy Hamill, would always strike one of these adorable poses (above) on the kitchen linoleum floor whenever there was good news to be declared. 
 
We knew it well and it has become the symbol of all things wonderful.  We are thankful and so... here is our pose to prove it!  
 
 

 
 
 
Lydia, Little Red, will turn 10 this month and she is a Jones through and through.   It seems just a few days ago she was my favorite Christmas gift, arriving just slightly early, on December 20.  She was a sweet Christmas baby, who has always been a sweet little girl. 
 
So many of you have prayed for her over the years.  To you, I say, "thank you."  My mother's heart is beyond blessed by so many who have been there with us.  I am happy to report that she is presently in very good health.  We praise God for that!   
 
Her excited hope this month?  In addition to Christmas, for all Jones girls, turning 10 means getting their ears pierced.  It's a pretty big deal and she can not wait!
 
 
 
 

 
 
 
And this one.  Tom says that when he looks at her he sees me.  The same coloring.  The same hair (at that age).  The same passion for what is good and right in the world.  The girl he met so many years ago. 
 
The other day she asked my husband if he would want to adopt a child who was smart mouthed, rebellious, unkind and unruly.  He said, no.  He would not really want to.
 
She said that she agreed.  Neither would she, and that is why she marvels at God's grace toward us.  Because we are exactly that rebellious child before a holy God. 
 
Amen and amen, Michaela.  You remind us of truth every day.  We are so thankful for you.
  
 

 
 
 
 
Would you believe that it was only one day after Thanksgiving when we realized we had even more to be thankful for?
 
It was then that we heard the horrific news that my dear dad, Ray, was being taken by ambulance to the hospital after being attacked by two pit bulls.
 
It was while he and my mom were on their regular walk with their little terrier pup that either one or both pit pulls in a local yard punched through their fence and were trying to attack them. 
 
The dogs literally pressed an entire fence board out from it's nails and were viciously lunging at them.
 
My dad held up the fence board they had dislodged back into its place as a shield while the attacking dogs bit into his hands and left blood dripping at the fence line.  
 
At his command, my mom ran to get the owners of the dogs to call them off as he held them from escaping and attacking them. 
 
He was a true hero and without his bravery, I do not even want to think what would have happened to my dear mom alone with those pit pulls. 
 
God was so very merciful again to our family.  We honor my dad, Ray, as a true hero and God as the sovereign giver of grace and mercy. 
 
We are so thankful for their safety.
 
 

 
 
 
And when we think of safety and kindness, it is God's Word that also comes to mind.   
 
Hebrews 4:12 declares that: 
 
"...the word of God is alive and active.
 
 
 



As I read Psalm 19 this week, I was reminded of so many ways that God's Word is alive and active.

 
The law of the Lord is perfect,
converting the soul;
 
The testimony of the Lord is sure,
making wise the simple;
 
The statutes of the Lord are right,
rejoicing the heart;
 
The commandment of the Lord pure,
enlightening the eyes;
 
The fear of the Lord is clean;
enduring forever. 




 
 
And by His Word,
 
"Your servant is warned
 
And in keeping them there is great reward." 
 
 

 
 
 
May His Word be alive and active in our hearts.
 
 
Happy Thanksgiving from our home to yours!
 
 
 
 
 
 

Saturday, November 8, 2014

DUSTY NOTES






 
 
 
 
I know this speaks very poorly of my dusting skills, but this little "I love Mama and Pa" note in the dust blessed my heart this week. 
 
It's the little things...
 
 
 

 
 
 

 
 
   

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

SALTY LANGUAGE

 
 
 
 





SHOULD WE TEACH CHILDREN TO SWEAR?


Recently I was sent a copy of a post by a professing Christian mom who was encouraging parents to teach their children what she called "salty" language. 

As I continued to read, I quickly realized that by "salty" language this author meant that we should teach our children to swear (use curse words) in order to better express their feelings to a listening world.  That if a topic is serious, then it requires serious words-- including the cuss words most Christians generally view as off limits.

Is this modern call to create a cussing Christian really "salty" language or would it be better characterized as "salt that has lost it's flavor" language?



WHAT'S THE BIG DEAL?


Some might argue that it is meaningless to worry about words.  I mean, why are some words "bad" and others "good."  Isn't it all just cultural anyway? 

We see movies and TV shows that model cursing as a "norm" and call the language "adult" rather than defiled.  And maybe in that is the heart of the problem.  If our minds are not continually renewed by the Word of God, it can be easy to be swept away by the world's way of thinking and talking. 

If we consider the swear words in our culture, it is easy to see that many of the words either coarsely describe areas of the body meant to be covered; the elimination of waste or sexuality.  Even if we don't take God's name in vain, do we gain the impression from Scripture that Believers should really be coarsely talking about such things?


"What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them,
but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them...
Don’t you see that whatever enters the mouth goes
into the stomach and then out of the body? 
But the things that come out of a person’s mouth
come from the heart, and these defile them." 
~Matthew 15:11, 17-18

But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice,
blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth.
Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the
old man with his deeds; And have put on the new man,
which is renewed in knowledge after the image
of him that created him.
~Colossians 3:8-10



WHAT WE WILL ENCOURAGE OUR GIRLS


1.  Take your lead from the Word.  Either because of poor example, or the desire to prove that we are cool with Jesus but not legalistic, more and more professing Christians seem to be confused about this issue.  Maybe it would help us to remember that Moses was not commanded to curse in order for Pharaoh to hear the seriousness of God's demands, nor did Christ curse in order to prove the seriousness of His message.  If God's ambassadors, in more trying times than ours, have not taken up coarse talk in order to make themselves heard, I feel confident it is not necessary in our time. 


"Woe to those who call evil good and good evil,
who put darkness for light and light for darkness,
who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!" 
~Isaiah 5:20

"Set an example for the believers in speech,
in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity."
~1 Timothy 4:12

 

2.  Sound teaching will always produce godliness in our lives.  While some modern teachers have embraced cussing let godliness, rather than edginess, be the test of sound teaching.  If a teaching does not produce godliness, but instead derails us into vain speculations and time consuming distraction, it is probably not sound.  Love is the goal of sound teaching, not powerful words.
 
"Command certain people not to teach false doctrines any longer...
Such things promote controversial speculations rather than advancing
God’s work—which is by faith.  The goal of this command is love,
which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith."
~1 Timothy 1:3-4 

"But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always
be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you
to give the reason for the hope that you have.
But do this with gentleness and respect."
~1 Peter 3:15


3.  Our speech reflects what is in the heart and is for the purpose of building up the church. 

"A good man brings good things out of the good
stored up in him, and an evil man brings evil
things out of the evil stored up in him."
~Matthew 12:25
 
"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."
~Ephesians 4:29


Yes, we should teach our children salty language, but salty according to Scripture.  And we should stand against those who would sneak in and seek to change the definitions of scriptural words and imagery to paint a picture that is not true to the context of the whole of Scripture. 

We have been bought with a price.  May we teach our little ones to honor Christ with their bodies in every way.


Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least
commandments, and shall teach men so,
he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven:
but whosoever shall do and teach them,
the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
~Matthew 5:19

"You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness,
how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything,
except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot."
~Matthew 5:13
 



Blessings friends,






Wednesday, October 22, 2014

FALL QUIET










Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life
and attend to your own business and
work with your hands,
just as we commanded you.
1 Thessalonians 4:11 
 
 
 
 
 

 
 

 
 




 
  
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


 
 


 
 


 


 
 
 



 
 
 
 
 
 
 




 
 
 
 
There are times when our lives need fewer activities.  Quiet.  Margin.  Are you in need of a little margin today?
 
Here's an old post back from 2008.  But maybe it applies to you today.    
 
 
Blessings,
 
 
 



 

Monday, October 13, 2014

WHEN KIDS DON'T FEEL LIKE DOING WHAT'S RIGHT











"I don't feel like reading my Bible."

"I don't feel like going to church."


Let's face it, there will be times when our kiddos don't feel like doing what is right, or even what is good for them.  And, if we are honest, we'd agree that there are times we feel the exact same way.

So what do we do when we hear those "I don't feel like it" statements?




1.  Remain on the same team.  It is too easy to become the person who points the finger rather the one who puts their arm around a kid who is struggling.  Especially if we are fearful about the scenario we see playing out.  Don't let that happen to you!  Remember that we have an enemy and it is not one another. This little one next to you may be feeling like a weary traveler who is simply in need of a little encouragement to do the right thing, not a lecture.
 
1 Peter 5:8:  Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil,
prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.
_ _ _


 

2.  Assess what appetites you have been feeding.  As much as we do not like to admit it, we have two distinct and separate appetites (the flesh and the spirit) and the one we feed, is the one that grows.  If the mental food that has been going in is a stumbling, a gentle talk about God wanting what is best for us may be in order.  Just as a parent knows that broccoli is healthier than chocolate bars, our heavenly Father knows that we need to "pluck out" things that are not healthy for us.  Even influences that are not sin can become sin if they take over our lives in an unhealthy way.
 
Mark 9:47:  If your eye causes you to stumble, throw it out;
it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye,
than, having two eyes, to be cast into hell.
  _ _ _

 
 


3.  If a Course Change is in Order, Get Agreement First.  It is too easy for us to switch from low to high gear in the blink of an eye and loose our troops in the process.  Like a pendulum on a clock we tend to live in extremes.  Our kids are not being patient?  Well, then they should read the Bible 100 times a day!  Our kids have been watching too many videos?  Well, then from now on we watch none!  Ever!  Or... until we swing back to the other side in a month (or a day!).  If I learned anything in Project Management, it was that if you want success in rolling out a new program, you needed to connect with people and give a vision about the future hope before changing direction.  If they fell in love with the vision, then 90% of the work was already done in changing course.         

Proverbs 29:18:  Where there is no vision, the people
are unrestrained, But happy is he who keeps the law.
  _ _ _



4.  Be Real/ Choose "I Wills."  Keeping it real could not be more popular.  We love real, humble people who have been there and speak truth.  Our kids feel the same way.  Be real.  Share that you struggle with the same things at times.  Share how the Lord has grown you as you have chosen the "I wills" of Scripture: 

"I will praise You, O Lord, with my whole heart,
 
I will tell of all Your marvelous works.
 
I will be glad and rejoice in You;
 
I will sing praise to Your name, O Most High..."
 
Psalm 9
  _ _ _
 
 
David was like us.  He had to resolve to praise with his whole heart and resolve to speak of God's goodness.  Help your kids have a Psalm 9 experience by sharing David's words; taking time to sing a couple of favorite hymns or spiritual songs and remind one another of God's marvelous works.
 
Proverbs 23:7  For as he thinks within himself, so he is.
  _ _ _
 
 
We will not always feel like doing what is right.  But as we resolve to find ways to engage our whole heart; declare our thanks for God's works and sing His praises, we will feed the spirit and turn the tide.
Blessings to you!
 
 
 

Saturday, September 27, 2014

KEEPERS OF THE FAITH {girls group}








Look at all these sweet girls!




With back to school, a couple of my girlfriends and I decided that it would be fun to start a Keepers of the Faith group.  We loved the idea that we could work together once a month to train our girlies in a variety of skills and they could earn badges to share what they are learning.
 
 
 


Hailey painting her girl's group tote bag to carry her binder.


My dear friend, Lisa was the inspiration behind starting the group.  Thanks, Lis!


 
 
For our first meeting we sang together; worked on memorizing the Beatitudes (yep, that is a badge!), then divided the girls into two age groups. 
 
The younger girls worked on painting tote bags (to keep their Keepers Binders in) while the older girls learned about Home Decorating.  Then the older girls painted their bags while the little girls made their own hair bows. 
 
 
 
Our wonderful friend, Danielle with a couple of her little girls.
 
Our little niece, Mercy, age 8.
 

Finally, the younger children were read a passage from Little Women (chapter 11) about being content with their daily jobs while the older girls were taught a Photography skills class. 



 


Our dear Michaela, age 15.
 
 
In between classes, the girls had lunch together; worked on their Beatitudes passage and, once classes were done, had an afternoon snack and fellowship time.
   
 

Sweet girls working on memorizing the Beatitudes.
 
 
 
We decided that it would best meet the needs of our busy group to meet less often (once a month) for an entire day rather than try to meet weekly or biweekly for a shorter time. 
 
It seemed to work great and it's been so fun to see all the girls with their amazing tote bags and hair bows since then and hearing about the things they learned from the moms who were teaching those classes. 
 
 
 
 
Ellie's sweet tote.
 
 
 
If you aren't familiar with Keepers, I think one of it's strengths is that you can really customize your club in whatever way best suits your group (or family).  You can go with uniforms, or no uniforms.  Weekly meetings or monthly meetings.  With the pre-determined criteria for badges, or make your own.  It's really up to you!
 
 
Our schedule looked roughly like this:
 
 
10:00 -  Arrival and greeting time
 
10:30 -  Begin club meeting- greeting, memory verse, singing together, discussion of the day's plan
 
11:00 -  Session 1- Little girls paint canvas totes/ Older girls learn about Home Décor
 
12:00 -  Lunch break and clean up
 
1:00  -    Session 2- Little girls make their own hair bows/ Older girls paint canvas totes
 
2:00  -   Session 3- Little girls hear story about being content with their daily chores/ Older girls learn Photography skills
 
3:00  -   Snack time, clean up and fellowship
 
4:00  -   Depart for home
 
 
Badges worked on:  Beatitudes, Crafts, Home Décor and Photography
 
 
 
It was a full day and one we look forward to doing again soon!
 
Do you have plans to work with other families this year to encourage one another and work on skills?  I'd love to hear what you are doing!
    
 
  
Blessings friends,




Thursday, September 25, 2014

DOES GOD CARE ABOUT WHAT WE THINK?








I can't believe it's Back to School time already!
 

 
RIGHT THINKING MATTERS 
 


I just want to say from the start, this isn't a post to add one more burden for anyone to carry.  The point is not that we won't make mistakes in our thinking but that there are times I buzz through life with the false impression that my thinking is inconsequential to some degree.  

Maybe you do too. 

We know that God cares about what we do; how we treat others, spend our time, abilities and resources.  And we know He cares about what we say (our words are to encourage, exhort and so on), but have you given much consideration to the idea that God cares about what we think? 



 
 
 
 
 
Back to school packs.  Each kiddo had their own color.  And a chocolate.  Because
really-- everything is better with chocolate, right?
 


GOOD-BYE STINKIN’ THINKIN’


Recently, I have been reading a lot of verses that have reminded me that our thinking matters.  

Before we were believers, we had a different way of thinking.

Ephesians 4:17-18 says that we are commanded to no longer walk or even think as the Gentiles.

 no longer walk as the Gentiles also walk, in the vanity of their mind, being darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance in them, because of the hardening of their heart.” 

Our thoughts are new, just like our hearts.  And when they are not, we have a new pattern of how to deal with those thoughts. 




Getting our hands dirty harvesting the last of the garden spoils.
 
 
 
We learn (with ever so much trial along the way) to “bring every thought captive into the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5).
We push out ungodly thoughts and worldview to have “the mind of Christ” (1 Cor. 2:16).
And we make provision to grow in our discernment and understanding (Phil. 1:9).

 
 
All packed and ready for a last little slice of summer-- a day at the lake.
 
 

Yes, God cares about what we think.  I guess that we should too. 

 
 

We had a private beach for hours to play and rest.
 

 
DAVID HAD RIGHT THINKING 


As I have been meditating on the Psalms the past few weeks, I have been so very encouraged  reading David.  Sometimes I think that he has a much clearer view of God as his Father than I do.



Tada!  Sister love.  They played for hours in the lake.
 

 
David’s enemies were ungodly.  That didn’t mean they didn’t go to temple, but  they were slick-talking, self-promoting and vile.  They exposed their own lack of faithfulness with throats that were like an “open tomb” Psalm 5:9. 
 
As a side note, just think about the purpose of the tombs in David’s day.  Remember, they conveniently kept the stink in (John 11:39).  There was deadness and decay inside and people wanted to keep that stench contained.  If only the sharp tongued men who attacked David had a stone placed over their mouths.


 
Smiling at my honey (see me in his glasses?)
 
 
 
But this is really about how David responded when he was literally run out of town by these men, led by his own son Absalom. 

You remember that Absalom had covertly worked to turn hearts against David and toward himself.  He seemed proud to "make a name for himself" like the ungodly men from Tower of Babel.

David's life was turned completely upside down as he was forced to flee far from his home; was cursed by men who misunderstood him and heard the people say, "There is no help for him in God (Psalm 3:2)."
 
 
 
 
Dog surfer by Michaela.
 
 
David, while running from their traitorous hands cries to the LORD: 
 
“But You, O Lord, are a shield for me,
My glory and the One who lifts up my head.
I cried to the Lord with my voice,
And He heard me from His holy hill.”
- Psalm 3:3-4

 
This is right thinking. 
 
 
 
Faithie soaking up the heat and the chance to read.
 



David set his mind on truth.  While others said he was without hope, David rightly believed that God heard his cry and was the lifter of his head. 
 
I am a head lifter.  As parents, we all have opportunities to lift up little downcast heads, don't we?  When a little someone has had their feelings hurt by others, it is our love relationship with that little one, that allows us to lift their little head; look in their eyes; dispel their fears and comfort their heart.  

And David knew that God is our Father in that way.  He is the lifter of our heads. 
 



I love this man like crazy.  We just celebrated 23 years of marriage.


 
 
 Later David said: 
“But let all those rejoice who put their
Trust in You;
Let them ever shout for joy, because
You defend them;
Let those also who love Your name
Be joyful in You.
For You, O Lord, will bless the righteous;
With favor You will surround him as
With a shield.”
- Psalm 5:11-12
 
 

Goodbye sweet Summer...
 
 
David asked that all of those who trust in GOD (that is you and me!) would rejoice, shout and be joyful!  Not because we won't face trials, but because GOD Himself is our shield!   And we can't get a better deal than that.

We know that God has fought for us in the past.  We have seen His faithful hand extended to us.  Remembering those truths and having patterns of thankfulness.

That is right thinking.
 
 

It's been great to visit on the porch with dear long-time friends.
 
 
 
David had it right. 
 
Paul had it right.
 
And they not only remind us of right thinking, but also tell us to protect that right thinking from the crafty and persuasive words of men (Col. 2:4) as we are rooted and built up in Him (Col. 2:6).
 
 
 

Friend love.



Is the way we think really such a big deal?  I guess it is because God placed a warning sign up for us to read in His Word. 

It starts as all serious warning signs do-- with the strong declaration of "BEWARE":



"Beware lest anyone cheat you
through philosophy and empty deceit,
according to the tradition of men,
according to the basic principles of the world
and not according to Christ,
 
 For in Him dwells all the fullness of
the Godhead bodily;
and you are complete in Him,
who is the head of all principality and power."
 
- Colossians 2:8-9
 
 


Unless we guard right thinking, we will be cheated.


Back to School we go!
 
 
 
 
As we get back into schooling our children, or in some cases as we send them to school, right thinking is something worth our attention. 
 
 
 
Dr. Greg Bahnsen, writes in his book, Always Ready:
 
 
 
'"All the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hid in Christ (Col. 2:3-8).'  Note he says all wisdom and knowledge is deposited in the person of Christ- whether it be about the War of 1812, water's chemical composition, the literature of Shakespeare, or the laws of logic! 
 
Every academic pursuit and every thought must be related to Jesus Christ, for Jesus is the way, the truth and the life (John 14:6)."  p. 4-5
 
 
 
 
As we read the headlines, study academics, interact socially, we have so many opportunities to filter those things through the protective screen of God's Word.   
 
May we clearly show our little ones that all thinking and all wisdom relates back to the One Who made us, sustains us and lifts our troubled heads.
 
What are ways that you are proactively protecting right thinking and growing in discernment?   
 
Because right thinking matters.
 
 
 
May you be blessed!
 
 
____________________________
 
Have High Schoolers this year?  Consider having them read Always Ready by Greg Bahnsen and When People are Big and God is Small!