Archive for November, 2012


December Devotions

Christmas tree icon

I remember when my kids were little and often the only time I had in God’s Word was with them while reading their “Early Reader’s Bible.”  Those were good times, though.  Lately I’ve talked with several moms with young children who truly want to spend time alone with God and His Word, but just can’t.  I totally understand.  And I’m sure that God does, too.  God knows our hearts.  And He sees us with our children during the day as they climb on us, cry, do silly things that make us laugh, and then draw us pictures that make us smile.  And He sees us as we introduce them to Him and encourage them to know Him and love His Word as we sit together on their bed at night or on the couch in the morning and enjoy the true stories that mean so much to us.

When my children outgrew the “Early Reader’s Bible” I still wanted to read with them, which we did, but I also did something else.  Many days seemed very busy with school, homework, dance classes, soccer, flag football and playing with friends.  So at Christmas time I took a small index card or small paper and wrote a simple thought for the day and a question.  Then I left a new note on their bathroom counter each morning.  Okay, I didn’t always make my goal of every morning.  In fact, sometimes it was once a week.  Nevertheless, it was a fun way to keep our focus on Christ as we celebrated the coming of Christmas.

I probably should have saved those notes, but I didn’t.  Anyway, I think it would be fun to do that here.  So stop by throughout December for “December Devotions” as we remember the reason for the season.  I would love to hear your comments!

*Here’s a helpful note for parents with young kids.  I recently found a resource that I would use along with our Bible if my kids were little today.  It is “The Jesus Storybook Bible” written by Sally Lloyd-Jones and published by Zonderkidz.  I love the way that the author captures the meaning of each story in the way that she writes.

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I’m excited for you all to meet my sister-in-law, Denise Olsen.  If you missed my introduction, please read “The Great Adventure, Part 1.”  I know you will be blessed as you read from Denise today!

To say I was really disappointed in the election results would be an understatement.  It was an opportunity to remind myself that my hope is not in men, but in God.  In the days following the election, several Christians I spoke with seemed to have their hope in men and commented how the world was becoming so dark and not the country they once knew.  I felt strongly to pray and get direction for myself and my family, besides the obvious of getting deeper into the Word and listening and endeavoring to follow the Holy Spirit and the still small voice even more so.  As a children’s minister, one of the object lessons we taught our kids several months back came to mind. Darkness never overcomes the light, rather, darkness cannot remain in the presence of light.  They laughed at my husband’s question as he turned the classroom light off and lit a candle, asking if they thought the candle would go out because it was dark or if the room would become brighter because the candle was lit.  It was unanimous, it’s a no-brainer that the room becomes a brighter place if even one small candle is lit.  As I thought about it and the implications of the lesson sunk in, I fought a bit of anger.  As the salt and light of the earth, if darkness is getting stronger and it seems to be true, then the light, our light, my light, our reflection of Christ is not shining brightly enough. The quote from Edmund Burke came to mind “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”  Although my heart’s cry from a young age is that I live a life of blessing and a life that brings glory to my Father, I had to examine myself.  Was I allowing evil to triumph?  Was I doing all I could to let my light shine?  I asked the Lord to forgive me for being “too busy” at times to be the light shining to those around me.  I asked for forgiveness and for opportunities.  Within an hour I had my first opportunity, a couple days later another opportunity.  Helping an elderly couple from our church navigate the world’s busiest airport, it would have been easy to dismiss the still small voice as an employee helping us get through security and to the correct terminal began to unload about her physical condition that doctors cannot cure.  She had lost weight and cannot keep any food down, she continued.  That explained her frail gaunt look, she couldn’t have weighed more than 90 lbs dripping wet.  I had a decision to make, be the light I should be or continue on saying and doing nothing.  Being a very private person, I had to overcome my discomfort with stepping out and asking a perfect stranger if I could pray for her…in the middle of the world’s busiest airport. But I wanted to be obedient to my Father and be His light shining in the darkness.  I simply asked if I could pray for her.  And she replied, “Sure, we all could use a little prayer.”  I placed my hand on her shoulder and began to boldly pray for and thank God for her healing.  Through prayer I introduced her to the Healer, who died on the cross for her healing as well and her forgiveness.  I felt such heat in my hand as it rested upon her shoulder.  What started out as a polite and quiet amen on her part turned into a loud “hallelujah, Glory” praise session from her.  I know in my heart, without a doubt that God touched her, that healing virtue went into her body and although I may never know what happened, God touched her and neither she nor I will be the same.  As I have stepped out, a boldness has come upon me, a feeling that I can make a difference, I can be a candle in a dark world.  Just stop and think for a moment, what if all of us who call ourselves “Christian” really endeavored to be Christ-like and a bold, true, reflection of Him.  Like the moon reflects the sun, we don’t shine our own light, we are just called to be a reflection of His light.  And as we reflect Him, I believe we will see the world become a brighter place, regardless of the darkness around us.
Denise Olsen is an ordained minister through RMAI.  She is currently the Children’s Pastor at New Creation Church in Longmont, Colorado.  I have to add that she has said that Steve, her husband (aka my brother), is her “most favorite volunteer.”
Here is more encouragement from a passage of Scripture that Denise shared with me:
“Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you.  See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the Lord rises upon you and his glory appears over you.  Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn.  Lift up your eyes and look about you:  All assemble and come to you; your sons come from afar, and your daughters are carried on the arm.  Then you will look and be radiant, your heart will throb and swell with joy; the wealth on the seas will be brought to you, to you the riches of the nations will come (Isaiah 60:1-5 NIV).

The Great Adventure, Part 1

English: Fishing boat, Ballydorn The “John Boy...

Looking for adventure?  Steven Curtis Chapman sang a song called “The Great Adventure” several years ago.  I thought about that song the other day when I heard from my sister-in-law about ways that God had been using her to draw other people to Himself.  What a great adventure!

It made me think of how Jesus called people to follow Him and said, “Come follow Me.”  Just imagine with me for a moment those twelve friends of Jesus.  All the amazing things that they saw Jesus do.  And the amazing things that they heard Him say.  When Jesus called His fishermen friends He added, “and I will make you fishers of men.”  And He did.  Jesus taught his friends and enabled them to do amazing things for Him.  And He does the same for us.  What a great adventure!  Okay, so the adventure is not always easy.  In fact, it can be very difficult at times.  But it is never boring.

Those words, “I will make you,” stand out to me.  God will make us.  God will work in us and stay with us every step of the way.  When we choose to follow Jesus, God has a plan for us.  He has a great adventure.  And if we will choose to truly know Him, to consistently spend time with Him in prayer and in His Word, He will be able to use us in ways that we can’t even imagine to draw other people to Him.  Now that’s adventure!

In fact, we can be “fishers of men” right where we are today:  at home with our kids, at the office, on the road, in the store….  When we listen to the Holy Spirit, God will give us opportunities for adventure.  I remember a time when I was sitting in a meeting at my son’s school and a lady that I didn’t know sat next to me.  The Holy Spirit told me to invite her to the Moms in Prayer group that I was leading at the time.  I didn’t.  Then I saw her again later that day at the school and this time I did invite her.  It turned out that she was a Christian and was going through a very difficult time.  God used the ladies in my prayer group to surround her and help her through that time.  It was so neat to see how much God cared for her!

Something happens when we follow Jesus.  When we choose to spend time with Him in His word and in prayer.  Jesus said in John 12:26a, “Whoever serves me must follow me,” (NIV).  We must follow Jesus in order to serve Him.  We were all created to know God and have a part in advancing His Kingdom purposes.  Which brings me back to my sister-in-law.

I asked my sister-in-law if she would be a guest on my blog and she agreed.  So I am excited to introduce you to my sister-in-law, Denise Olsen, very soon.  Denise has been such a blessing to our family.  I know she loves God’s Word because as soon as her first child could talk, Denise helped her memorize Scripture.  Imagine our surprise around the table when they came to visit and my very young niece who sat on a chair piled high with phone books to reach the table shared a Bible verse.  That was many years ago, but just the beginning of the fun of getting to know Denise.

Check back very soon for “The Great Adventure, Part 2” to learn about the recent adventures that God has had for Denise.  You won’t want to miss it!

In the meantime, are you ready for your great adventure?  Here’s some encouragement from Steven Curtis Chapman.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving Turkey

“Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever,” (Psalm 107:1 NIV).

Happy Thanksgiving to you all!

Have kids on your Christmas shopping list?  I have the perfect gift suggestion for every one of them.  My “Papa’s Plan for Buddy Bee” book!  (Shameless self-promotion.)

This book is the perfect tool for starting some spiritual conversations at home with your kids or to share with your nieces and nephews or grandkids.  And you can get it right here on my blog!

Wondering if your kids will like it?  This fall I was invited to speak at a Christian elementary school in my city and here is what some of those children said:

“We learned a lot about comparing.  We want to be what God made us to be.  We liked the book you wrote.”

“I like Buddy Bee.  You should make more books about him.”

“The book you wrote is awesome!  I think it taught everyone the same thing.  It taught me that even if you think you can’t do it, just try, try again.”

“I want to be what God made me.  I liked the book you wrote.  I learned not to compare myself to others, but to God.”

“I liked the book you read and wrote.  I’m glad that at the end of the book that Buddy learned that God loves him just the way he is.”

“We liked the book you read to us.  I thought Buddy was funny!”

I left out the very fun notes about the Bible verse that I taught them, which is in the book, and the song that we sang, but I have to share this one letter:

“Dear Mrs. Schulz, Thank you for coming to our chapel.  We  want you to come back.  We liked the book you read.  I love the song you taught us.  When I grow up I want to be like you.  You were a great inspiration.  Your friend, (a student).”

I’m looking forward to seeing those kids again soon!

And here is what Nebraska Life magazine wrote this summer:  “Buddy is unsure of himself and is particularly conscious of his crooked stinger.  But after his loving father teaches him to fly by reading from a special book, Buddy explores the world in the garden surrounding his hive.  He learns that despite his imperfections, he has gifts he can use to help those in need around him, and that his Papa has a plan for him.  Complementing this touching story of faith are the warm and colorful images of illustrator Hannah Segura” (July/August 2012, 94).

Happy Christmas shopping!

Confused?

My son sent me this video.  It literally made me laugh out loud.

Two referees at a football game are completely confused.  Both make different calls, look again, and then make the opposite different calls.  I’d say they were confused at that moment about which team had the ball.  It’s funny how they could both be right there and clearly not know what happened.

Those two confused refs made me think about the many times that we can feel confused.  One day we can be so sure about something and the next day so confused, so unsure of what is going on around us or unclear as to what we should do.  I’m very thankful that my moments of confusion have not been recorded and placed on YouTube for all the world to see!

But we all have those moments.  And God says that He will help us.  He tells us in Jeremiah 29:13, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart” (NIV).  For me, when I have those moments of confusion I go to God and often read the Psalms to help me remember who my God is.  He is good.  He is faithful.  He loves me.  He cares about me.  And He never changes.  Everything around me can change, but God will always stay the same.  And He wants us to seek Him.

Listen to the song “Something to Say” by Starfield.

I like the words, “Like I was found, but now I’m lost in the fray.”  Are you found today?  Or are you lost in the fray?  God knows everything going on around us today.  And He cares about us.  He cares about you.

Will you stay lost in the fray, in your confusion, or will you choose to seek Him and allow Him to help you?  I will choose to trust my God who is always good and always faithful.

Learning Contentment

picture of a wrapped present

You know those tattoos that kids put on with water?  Little pictures on their faces, their arms and even their hands.  They last for days and days.  That’s what I want to happen with the lessons that I teach.  I want my lessons to be so effective that the kids will remember them and grow closer to God.  So I’m always up to something.  The other day was really fun!

I totally set up my Good News Club kids.  We were learning to be content with the things that we have because God has said, “Never will I leave you.”  (If that sounds familiar, it’s because it comes from Hebrews 13:5.)  We learned the Bible verse and I taught the lesson.  And then came the test.  I gave each child a small gift, each one the same.  And they were so excited!  You should have seen their happy faces, so eager to discover what was inside their small packages.  Then, after every child had their gift, I gave a different gift to a child in the middle of the room.  This gift was a giant box with a bow and ribbons.  And something happened to those happy faces and questions like, “Can I open it now?” and “What is it?”  The mood completely changed in the room.  Aha!  I got them!  What a perfect time to learn about being content!  To apply right away the things that we had just learned.  And to remember that God is always with us.  Even when life isn’t fair.  Even when someone else has something that we think is better.

It’s a lesson we will all remember.  I hadn’t thought about it at the time, but now that it’s November it is a good time to remember to be content because God will never leave us.  We should always be thankful for the things that we have and especially for our God who loves us so much and will never leave us.  That is the best gift ever!  Even in the times when I feel like I just have this very small, simple gift and someone else has that giant, beautiful gift, I can know for sure that God is with me and He will never leave me.  That’s really all I need.

So, are you wondering what the gifts were?  Tootsie Rolls.  Everyone received a Tootsie Roll.  And, in the end, they were quite content!