Tuesday, February 28, 2012


by Jenn V.
Last year our church taught us an easy way to share the Gospel…I loved the way it was explained, because it took me out of the equation.  I grew up in church and have always known the importance of God in my life.  We had family Bible studies and discussions about God frequently, so I do not have a specific date of when I was born again or transformed from one way of living to another.  I have certainly made many mistakes in life and tried living without God, but because my parents were always open and honest about God, I always knew that He loved me no matter what, just like they did.  As I grew up, my relationship with Christ as my savior changed and grew.  As I grow older now, my relationship with Christ is hopefully maturing and progressing forward, to be less about me and more about Him.  So when our Adult Ministry Pastor came to our Sunday school class and shared this easy explanation of the Gospel without having to have a personal transforming testimony, I wrote it down in my Bible!

How would you feel if your boss refused to pay you the wages that were due to you?  Deep down, we all know that it is only right that we get what we deserve. Similarly, we earn wages from God for how we have lived our lives.

What do you think about when you hear this word?  Sin is more of an attitude than an action. It can be either actively fighting God or merely excluding Him from our lives. Has God ever seemed far away? If yes, that's one of the things sin does-it makes God seem far away. Look at the two opposing cliffs with a gap in between.
What thoughts come to mind when you see the word “Death”?  Death in the Bible always means some kind of separation.
This word is important because it means that a sharp contrast in thought is coming. What we have just looked at is bad news; what follows is good news.

Look at this word.  If wages are what a person earns, then what is a gift?  Someone must purchase every gift.

Look at these words.  This gift we are talking about is free. It is from God Himself. It's so special that no one else can give it. How do you feel when someone gives you a special gift?

How would you define these words “Eternal Life?”  Compare one side of the cliff, death, with the other side, eternal life. What is the opposite of separation from God?

Draw these words so they create a bridge between the two cliffs. Consider that every gift has a giver and only Jesus Christ can give the gift of eternal life.

Friends trust each other; and Jesus wants a trusting friendship with you. All you have to do is admit that you are responsible for the "sin" you have committed of either fighting or excluding God from your life. That is what trust means - trusting that Jesus wants to forgive all of us for rejecting Him from our lives.  Do you want to start a relationship with God that will last forever? If yes, pray this short prayer with me.   Dear Lord, thank you so much for your free gift.  Please forgive me of my sins and make me whole.  I give you my heart today and help me to live a new life in you.  In Jesus name, Amen.
This simple illustration shows what God is like: Someone who really cares about people, especially you.  Please read all about it in the Bible, perhaps beginning in the gospel of John.
From: One-Verse Evangelism, by Randy D. Raysbrook via www.Navigators.org

Monday, February 27, 2012

Redeeming Love - Book Corner

Redeeming Love Book Review
California’s gold country, 1850. A time when men sold their souls for a bag of gold and women sold their bodies for a place to sleep.  Angel expects nothing from men but betrayal. Sold into prostitution as a child, she survives by keeping her hatred alive. And what she hates most are the men who use her, leaving her empty and dead inside. Then she meets Michael Hosea, a man who seeks his Father’s heart in everything. Michael obeys God’s call to marry Angel and to love her unconditionally. Slowly, day by day, he defies Angel’s every bitter expectation, until despite her resistance, her frozen heart begins to thaw.  But with her unexpected softening comes overwhelming feelings of unworthiness and fear. And so Angel runs. Back to the darkness, away from her husband’s pursuing love, terrified of the truth she no longer can deny: Her final healing must come from the One who loves her even more than Michael does…the One who will never let her go. A powerful retelling of the story of Gomer and Hosea, Redeeming Love is a life-changing story of God’s unconditional, redemptive, all-consuming love.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Mom's Heart Conference

Thoughts from the Mom’s Heart Conference
by Suzie M.
This past weekend I attended Sally Clarkson’s Mom Heart Conference.  The weekend was filled with the Holy Spirit, encouragement, laughter and tears.  I have never left a weekend conference thinking I can’t wait to get home to spend time with my children, read to them more, disciple them better, and the best of all enjoy them.
I gleaned so much information this weekend I am literally taking some time to just pray over my notes, and like Hezekiah lay it before the Lord to see what I need to prioritize and implement.
Here is a list of some of my favorite “Pearls of Wisdom” from all the speakers at the 15th annual Mom Heart Conference:
o    Embrace Motherhood, it’s not a sacrifice it’s a gift.
o    Look at myself through the eyes of my children – I am their superhero, rock star etc, and God chose ME to be mom to these children.
o    Satan is ready to attack.  Be a woman of action!  You will face opposition in the form of distractions, be persistent and do not allow your time with the Lord to be taken away.  Be the next Nehemiah and build a wall around my “Jerusalem”, to raise up the next generation for Christ.
o    I am the bible my children are reading. 
o    Parent in their heart, be their advocate.
o    Be a grace filled parent.  Grace is not communicated by shame, guilt, impatience, agendas, distractions or anger.
o    Am I compromising my ideals?  Do I have people in my life that will hold me accountable to my values?
o    A Christian is either growing or dying, there is no in between.
o    We want to build an estate not a condo, building an estate takes a lifetime, planting one day at a time.
o    In the absence of biblical conviction you and your kids will go the way of culture.
o    In the absence of a loving relationship you and your kids will go to culture to get love.
o    As Christians we can’t be conformed to the “Christian world” either but we must have biblical conformity.
o    Feed your mind/life on people who have fed their mind on God.
o    Trust God with your puzzle, how to put your family together (school, sports, church, discipling etc.).
o    Put down the work and pick up the child.
o    We can’t live by a formula there is none, we must live by faith.
o    Am I a good steward of my children’s minds (mine too)? Give them stories that invade their hearts, give them my own God stories.
o    AM I creating a living loving culture? Guilt or grace?  Freedom or legalism?
o    Whatever I put in my children is what is going to come out.
o    Create a culture that breathes God.
o    Lastly, our children are like gardens.  We have to plant what we want to harvest.  If you leave open spaces, whatever “blows” along or what you don’t intentionally plant will fill in those spaces.  Plant the best for the best outcome.  If your kids hearts are hard (just like hard soil) you can’t plant anything, you must work to soften their heart and then plant the seeds.  Love is the water for your “garden”.

Menu Monday Weeks 17 & 18

Menu Monday Weeks 17 & 18 (click to open pdf) - Jenn V.
Monday: Buffalo Chicken Stew
Tuesday: Chicken Tetrazzini Casserole
Wednesday: Creole Jambalaya
Thursday: Pork Chops with Pepper Jelly
Friday: Almond Stuffed Chicken
Monday: Easy Brunswick Stew
Tuesday: Cajun Shrimp Casserole
Wednesday: Chicken and Dumplings
Thursday: Fried Lemon and Rosemary Catfish
Friday: Cashew Chicken

Friday, February 24, 2012

Loving One Another - Accountability

Biblical Priority #6 – Love One Another
Loving One Another – Accountability
By Suzie M.

“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” Hebrews 10:24

Do you have someone who can hold you accountable?  Do you have another you can hold accountable?  Everyone needs someone in their life to help keep them accountable.  Romans 14:12 NIV says, “So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God.”  An account - you will be held accountable to God for everything you have said and done while on this earth.  What is accountability?  According to the dictionary, it means being “liable to being called to account, answerable.”   How will you answer God when he asks you?

Why do we need to be held accountable?  1 John 4:21 NIV commands us, “Whoever loves God must also love his brother.”  Do you love God?  Then you must love your brother, or sister, in Christ.  You cannot love God and dislike another person created in His image.  Loving another person means helping them by holding them accountable to their speech and actions. This must be done in a respectful and loving way without judgment for we are told, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.  For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”  Matthew 7:1-2 NIV.

How much do you tell your accountability partner?  Everything.  This person needs to know everything about you the good, the bad and the ugly.  Females need to have a female accountability partner.  Males need a male accountability partner.  This relationship will take time.  You don’t have to spill your guts out the first time you meet.  Key elements are:  1. Build a relationship.   Get to know one another if you don’t already, build the rapport.  If it’s someone you are already friends with then they probably already know a lot about you.  2. Trust is an essential element.  This must be someone you trust and who trusts you.  She will be the person you go to when you don’t have anyone else to speak with when your marriage is falling apart.  When you can’t take your thoughts captive and keep thinking of another man.  When your children are lost and when a loved one is diagnosed with a deadly disease.  “A gossip betrays a confidence, but a trustworthy person keeps a secret.”  Proverbs 11:13 NIV

What advice will you receive or give?  Godly biblical advice.  If you are receiving any other advice, you need to walk away.  Advice should also be gentle and loving and covered in prayer.  Galatians 6: 1-2 gives a helpful principle, "Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ." If your accountability friend has done something contrary to the Bible, you are called to confront her gently, forgive her, and comfort her. It also admonishes you to consider yourself because no one is above temptation.

Who should be your accountability partner?   Pray over this.  It is not always easy finding the right accountability partner, but the Lord wants you to have one so give it over and He will lead you in the right direction.  You might be like me and she might already be in your life.  She doesn’t have to be older or more spiritually mature.  God can use anyone to reveal His truth.  She may be the least likely person or the most likely.  “Encourage one another and build each other up.”  1 Thessalonians 5:11 NIV

Challenge:  Pray and seek God about an accountability partner.  Someone with whom you can be authentic, sharing God’s truth and love.  Make it a priority to ask them and then to meet with them.  Don’t put it off any longer.  Write it on your to do list today! 

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Preparing Your Heart for Easter

Preparing Your Heart for Easter

By Amy Gentry

My family attends a Good Friday service every year, then we wake up on Easter Sunday morning, I take pictures of sleepy-eyed children clumsily digging into their Easter baskets, we all put on our finest clothes, we don’t eat breakfast because my kids are already way too sugared up, then I yell at my offspring to hurry up and get in the car because we are running late, I rock babies in the nursery during one service and attend worship service the next hour, then we get go to my in-laws home for a ham dinner and an Easter egg hunt.
This is a common scene played out annually all over the world.  But is this all there is?
As Easter drew near last year, I felt that I didn’t want to experience Easter in the same old way.  I wanted to practice Lent.  The traditional purpose of Lent is the preparation of the heart of the believer for Easter through prayer and fasting.  It was Jesus who also spent forty days fasting in the desert before he began his ministry, in preparation for what lied ahead of him.
I’m not suggesting that you only “give up” or fast something that is significant to you for Lent, but also begin a new practice this Lent.  Do a 40 day devotional.  Have an extra quiet time of focused daily prayer for 40 days- saying a prayer of adoration, confession, thanksgiving, or supplication.  Wherever you feel the Spirit leading you, follow.  No, I did not give up sugar, caffeine, or texting; however I did wear a particularly large and obnoxious bracelet that constantly remind me to prepare my heart through focused daily prayer and meditating on God’s Word in preparation for Good Friday and Easter.
It worked!  After 40 days of preparing my heart, last Easter I was able to be “in the moment” with a heart fully expecting to meet with the Lord - I meditated on the death of Christ and I rejoiced in his resurrection.
Joel 2:12-13
“Turn to me now, while there is time.
Give me your hearts.
Come with fasting, weeping, and mourning.
Don’t tear your clothing in your grief,
but tear your hearts instead.”
Return to the Lord your God,
for he is merciful and compassionate,
slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love.
He is eager to relent and not punish.
CHALLENGE: Today is the first day of Lent, how should you be preparing yourself to fully experience the death and resurrection of Christ this year?  Make THIS LENT a holy time that is set apart from the usual.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

2 Cute Tuesday - Do Not Disturb

Do Not Disturb - Door Hanger for Parents
     Do you ever need to talk to your husband and it seems like there are always little ears around you?  Me too!!!  Sometimes I need to talk to my husband about birthday presents, household bills, family matters, or we just need some time alone for intimacy.  It is okay for parents to retreat to the four walls of bedroom, making that room a safe haven- CHILD FREE! 

     Here are some easy steps to create a door hanger that will be a physical marker for your children to see when the parents are not to be disturbed.  This could be a time of training where you put forth consequences for knocking on the door when the Do Not Disturb sign is out.
Supply List:
Foam or wood door hanger
Mod Podge
Foam brush
Scrapbook paper (I used pages from Song of Songs from an old Bible that was water damaged, but you could print scripture from the internet.

Coat door hanger with Mod Podge.  Add paper to door  hanger in a solid piece, strips, or torn pieces etc.  Then brush on Mod Podge over the top.  Trim edges and allow to dry.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Living Everyday with Attitude

Living Everyday with Attitude
Biblical Priority #5 - Service
By Amy G.

The word ‘beatitudes’ is from the Latin root “beatus” which means blessed, happy, fortunate, or blissful. The Beatitudes:

“God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him,
for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.
 God blesses those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
God blesses those who are humble,
for they will inherit the whole earth.
God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice,
for they will be satisfied.
God blesses those who are merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
God blesses those whose hearts are pure,
for they will see God.
God blesses those who work for peace,
for they will be called the children of God.
God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right,
for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.

God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers. 

Be happy about it! Be very glad! For a great reward awaits you in heaven.

And remember, the ancient prophets were persecuted in the same way.” 

Matthew 5:3-12 NLT 
     The word ‘love’ is a noun, but it is also a verb, an action.  He loves you with a passionate love.  He wants to share with you His love letter.   His love letter is found on every page of the Bible.  Revealed in the Beatitudes, you see how He wants to show you His love today- here on earth- and He wants to show you His love until the end of time. 

Challenge:  Reread the Beatitudes, soak in His love letter to you.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Q & A

Q:  What is so significant about the names of God?

A: Just like when you speak to me and call me by my name my ears perk up.  I think names are important to God.  How many names did he change in the scriptures?  Jacob became Israel, which means, ‘God contended;’ Abram and Sarai became Abraham, which means, ‘father of a great multitudes’ and Sarah which means, ‘princess;’ Simon became Peter-Petros, which means, ‘the rock;’ Saul became Paul, which means, ‘humble;’  These names were not chosen without thought, they meant something to Him. 

   Even in Revelation 2:17, we are told that you and I will be given a new name. “To everyone who is victorious I will give some of the manna that has been hidden away in heaven. And I will give to each one a white stone, and on the stone will be engraved a new name that no one understands except the one who receives it.” 

   When Moses asked Him who he should say sent him in Exodus 3:13-15, God replied, “I AM WHO I AM.”  Jehovah/Yahweh means I am who I am - a covenant name.  But who is He really, this Jehovah/Yahweh, this I am who I am?

Jehovah-M’Kaddesh (Ex. 31:13) - the God who sanctifies,

Jehovah-jirah (Gen. 22:14) - the God who provides,

Jehovah-shalom (Jud. 6:24) - the God of peace,

Jehovah-rophe (Ex. 15:26) - the God who heals,

Jehovah-nissi (Ex.17:15) - the God who is our banner,

Jehovah-rohi (Ps. 23:1) - the Lord is my shepherd, and

Jehovah-shammah (Ezek. 48:35) - the Lord who is present.

That is who He is.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

A Heart Makes a House a Home

A Heart Makes a House a Home
Biblical Priority #4 – Home
by Stephanie H.

1 John 3:18 “Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions.”
Delana Bell, my sweet grandmother, was the strongest prayer warrior I have ever known.  She kept prayer lists, detailed lists.  She prayed for her home, those that lived in her home, those that entered her home, and those that she wanted to enter her home.  Her ministry began at home and everyone that was influenced by her knew that she loved them.  She didn’t go around saying “I love you,” she showed it.  She spent time every morning praying and reading her Bible with my grandpa.  She spent time planning for her family.  She had a modest, warm, loving home.  She was involved with her church.  She had hundreds of sweet friends at her funeral.  Her legacy lives on in several homes!

Home is the center of family life.  Our homes minister to each member of our family.  Proverbs 14:1 reads, “A wise woman builds her home, but a foolish woman tears it down with her own hands.”  We can either choose to build up or tear down our ministry at home.  If we are trying to minister in other areas of life, but not in our own homes, our very own families will be the ones that suffer.  Is it more important to feed a family that just had a baby when you haven’t taken the time to feed your own family?  The neighbor with cancer needs prayer, but have you prayed for salvation for your children?  Does your ministry begin at home?

CHALLENGE:  Spend time praying about your priorities and how you are ministering to your family.  Ask God what areas of your home need you.  Ask God what areas away from the home you need to step away from.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Menu Monday Weeks 15 & 16

Menu Monday Weeks 15 & 16 (click to open pdf) - Amy G.
Monday: Angel Hair with Meat Balls, Garlic Bread and Salad
Tuesday: Lime Chicken Tacos, Ranch Style Beans, Lipton Spanish Rice, Corn Tortillas
Wednesday: Pork Chops, Baked Potatoes, Broccoli
Thursday: Chicken Marengo, Rice, Green Beans
Friday: Chili Dogs
Monday: Baked Ziti with Meatballs and Salad
Tuesday: Lemon Chicken, White Rice and Green Beans
Wednesday: Zesty Herb Chicken, Mac and Cheese and Broccoli
Thursday: Greek Chicken, Oven Roasted Potatoes and Salad
Friday: Orange Chicken with Veggies and Sticky Rice

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Special Love - Guest Blogger

Special Love
by Jennifer G.
I am the mother of a special needs son who is 6 years old.  My son was diagnosed with severe Autism at age 2 while I was pregnant with our second son.  This being my husband’s and my first child it really changed the dynamics of our “perfect” family and the plans we made for our future.  Why would God do this to us?  We wanted a “normal” child like everyone else.  Even though my husband and I were both Christians, we just didn’t understand and felt completely helpless.

Having a new born, my husband and I learning about Autism (therapies, schools, resources, support groups, etc.), and trying to keep our sanity, we were so overwhelmed!  Though we had love and support from our family, friends and church, for months I struggled with anxiety, depression, anger and loneliness.  I would constantly say, “No one understands what we are going through and the life we have.”  I didn’t feel happy or joyful when I looked in my child’s eyes.

One day my friend said something to me that really stuck with me.  “Consider your son, like every other child, a blessing from God.  Thank him for choosing you to be his mother.  God would not have given him to you if he didn’t think you were strong enough.”  Encouraging words can really change your perspective and soften your heart. I was at a point of brokenness in my faith.  I realized my heart was so hard and I had turned my back on God when I needed him the most.  My issues were not my children or my life; they were all with me.  I started to truly cry out to God in prayer, “Lord, I am so sorry for turning my back on you! I know I need you to get through everything in my life!  I don’t want to live this way anymore.  Please give me the strength to change and show me how.”  God has been so faithful to me when I have called on him.  His Living Word has been the foundation of the changes in my life.

 I have turned to God’s Word for my encouragement and it allows me to have Christ’s perspective.  God loves me and through him all things are possible.  Circumstances may never change, so I had to change and that was only through giving everything to Jesus Christ and trusting him.  For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord.  They are plans for good and not harm, to give you a future and a hope” Jeremiah 29:11. “Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow” James 1: 2-3.  These are just a couple of the many verses in my heart that have helped me gain Christ’s perspective.  Through hardship I have been able to experience how powerful God’s word is.

My life is not perfect, but no one’s is. I don’t have a perfect walk with Christ either, but we are not supposed to because God wants us to continue to grow and trust him daily.  God has made it possible for me to love my son regardless of his needs or how different my life is compared to everyone else’s! It is because of His love for me.  A “Special Love” that can never be taken away. I can’t imagine where I would be today without having Christ in my life and seeking him daily.  Though the world may claim to have all the answers to “fix” your life, there really is only one answer- God.  One day when I am in Eternity with Christ and I look back at my life here on earth I will know the “why,” but we are incapable of seeing God’s big picture in this life.  God always provides what I need and He will do the same for you!  I absolutely love the poem below because it is a true depiction of “our lives.”

Welcome to Holland

“I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability – to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It's like this…

When you're going to have a baby, it's like planning a fabulous vacation trip – to Italy. You buy a bunch of guidebooks and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum, the Michelangelo David, the gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It's all very exciting.

After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, "Welcome to Holland."

"Holland?!" you say. "What do you mean, Holland?" I signed up for Italy! I'm supposed to be in Italy. All my life I've dreamed of going to Italy.

But there's been a change in the flight plan. They've landed in Holland and there you must stay.

The important thing is that they haven't taken you to some horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It's just a different place.

So you must go out and buy a new guidebook. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.

It's just a different place. It's slower pace than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you've been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around, and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills, Holland has tulips, and Holland even has Rembrandts.

But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy, and they're all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life you will say, "Yes, that's where I was supposed to go. That's what I had planned."

The pain of that will never, ever, go away, because the loss of that dream is a very significant loss.

But if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn't get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things about Holland.”

Written by Emily Perl Kingsley

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Chocolate Strawberries

Chocolate Strawberries 

1 pkg. Melting Chocolate
Large Strawberries
Whipped Cream

- Choose strawberries as big as you can find
- Cut the point off of the strawberry off so they can stand on their own.  The melted chocolate helps form a little base to make them even more stable.
- Hull out the strawberries. Be careful not to make them too thin or they'll break. (Nothing a little melted chocolate can't help mend!) Pat strawberries dry before dipping in chocolate.

- Dip the strawberries in melted chocolate.
- Freeze the dipped strawberry cups for maximum sturdiness.
- Remove from freezer and fill the inside of strawberry with melted chocolate or anything you like.  You could also fill with chocolate mousse, cream cheese & sugar, ice cream, etc…
- Top with whipped cream and sprinkles for an extra special touch.

This will make a great dessert to celebrate Valentine’s Day!