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IMG_4917It’s that time again.  Time to thank my Good News Club Team for all of their hard work and dedication to our club this year.  So, what do you give a group of teenagers?  As I wandered through the store I came up with a fun idea using something that everyone likes.  Candy!

I decided to give my teen volunteers a bag of candy with a fun message to let them know that they made a difference in the lives of our kids at club and that I appreciate them.  Here is my message for them:

Thanks for making a difference in the lives of so many kids this year! You made our club more fun than REESE’S as you shared many TREASURES from God’s Word.  You taught and interacted with the children like a STARBURST and not like BUTTERFINGERS.  So it was ALMOND JOY to have you on my Good News Club Team.  You are worth more than 100 GRAND and you deserve a big PAYDAY, but all I can give you is this bag of candy.  I appreciate you!

But why let the fun stop there?  One of our kids at club memorized every single Bible verse.  Since we meet every week during the school year and we have a new verse each week, that’s a lot of Bible verses!  So that child gets a candy surprise, too!  Here’s the message for that child:

Congratulations, (child’s name)!  You know that learning God’s Word is worth more than 100 GRAND and more fun than REESE’S because you memorized every Bible verse at Good News Club this year!  Now you have stored up TREASURES from God in your heart, which will give you (ALMOND) JOY as you remember God’s Word when you need it.  You are a Bible verse-learning STARBURST and you deserve a big PAYDAY for your hard work!  Good job, Mrs. Lori

So, do you need some inspiration today?  Maybe all you need is to take a walk through the candy aisle!

And to all of my fellow volunteers in ministry:  You’re making a difference, too, even if I can’t give you candy!

 

 

 

One Tall Tulip

IMG_4964Spring is here!  What a joy it is to finally see colorful flowers quietly appearing after a long, cold winter with the ground covered in only white snow or brown grass.

One of my favorite things about spring is my tulips.  It was so fun the other day to drive up my driveway and notice green tulip leaves poking up through the mulch-covered ground around my tree.  Each day after that I watched them, anticipating bright-colored tulips growing out of those leaves.  And then there was one!  I waited for more, but there would be no more tulips.  Only one. One tall tulip.  The leaves are there for several others, but it seems that the rabbits ate those other tulips.  Only one tulip stands safe and strong.

If I had thought of it earlier I would have sprinkled blood meal on the leaves to keep the rabbits away.  I have done that to protect them in the past, but this year I completely forgot about those rabbits.  Oh, I saw them running and playing in my backyard, but I forgot that they like to eat tulips.  I forgot that I was in a battle with the rabbits.  So while I had just what I needed to protect my tulips against the rabbits, I didn’t use it.  I left it right there in my garage.  And now I have one tulip.  It’s a beautiful tulip, though.  Bright yellow.  Tall.  Petals joyously and victoriously wide open to the sky.  As if somehow it knows that it’s the only tulip that survived those hungry rabbits.

My rabbit and tulip situation is a good reminder that we are in a battle, whether we know it or not.  And we can get so busy doing all of our wonderful things, but forget about spending time in God’s Word.  And then we forget about the enemy that wants us to get so busy and forget about spending time in God’s Word.  Our enemy is like those rabbits hanging out in our backyards just waiting to eat our tulips when we’re not looking.  And we have what we need to keep our enemy away.  Maybe not blood meal, but we have God’s Word to protect us, but we have to use it.  We can’t just leave it in the garage – or on the table or in a drawer – and forget about it.

Ephesians 6:10-11 says, “Finally, be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of His might.  Put on the full armor of God, that you may be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil,” (NASB).  Verse 17 says, “And take up the Helmet of Salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”

We need the full armor of God every day to stand firm in this world, which includes the sword of the Spirit – not just in our homes, but in our hearts and minds.  There’s a new song by Casting Crowns that talks about the enemy waiting for the night to fall.  It says, “And while you slumber, he’s gonna take it all…he knows you have the answers, but Truth lies dusty on your shelf and the sword that you could slay him with has become an ornament and nothing else,” (Waiting on the Night To Fall).  Has your Bible been forgotten?  Has it become a dusty ornament on your shelf?  Is that blood meal sitting in the garage while the rabbits are happily devouring your tulips?

Let’s take up our sword – the Word of God – and stand firm against the schemes of the devil.  We can win the battle with the rabbits in our yards.

You could be like that one joyful, victorious tall tulip with it’s bright yellow petals reaching toward the sky!

No matter what’s going on around you, you can stand – like my one tall tulip.

Here’s “Waiting on the Night to Fall” by Casting Crowns:

 

 

EmptyTombPic“On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb.  They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.  While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them.  In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, ‘Why do you look for the living among the dead?  He is not here; he has risen!” (Luke 24:1-6 NIV).

Happy Easter, Everyone!

 

 

IMG_4920It’s here!  The “Children’s Ministry Magazine” May/June 2014 issue.  The one with my article in it!  They said that they were going to publish it.  And they did!  I have enjoyed reading this magazine for several years, but this one is extra fun!

shoesI’m excited about the opportunity to speak at a dinner for writers soon.  In preparation of that I was asked a question about a post on my blog.  You know the post, or posts.  The subject that keeps coming up again and again – my brown shoes.

Since I have posted different times about my brown shoes I was asked where I was going with those shoes.  It made me laugh at first because I have been going to many places with those shoes – to the grocery store, to the airport, to different places to teach, to restaurants for lunch with friends and even to the ladies’ Bible study that I’ve been leading in my home.  I know that going to literal places is not what they meant by that question of where am I going, but in a way it is.  And it’s a good question.

You remember the shoes.  Those brown, leather and oh-so-comfortable shoes that I can just slide my feet right into as I walk out the door.  My favorite shoes.  And you remember that when my first pair of those favorite brown shoes looked worn I went to the store and was able to replace them with a new pair of the same shoes.  Oh, that was a happy day!  But over time that second pair of brown shoes began to look just like my first pair and, oh, that was a sad day when I realized that they were worn out, too.  But then I discovered brown shoe polish.  I polished my shoes and they looked like new again.  I can’t even begin to explain to you the excitement in my heart over my newly polished shoes.  I could wear them everywhere without being ashamed of how worn my favorite comfy shoes looked.  As I wore my shoes, I could polish them over and over again to keep them looking nice.  But that much work only lasts for so long.

So what did I do?  I kept one pair nicely polished and stored away in its box for times when I needed to wear shoes that looked fresh, clean and perfectly polished.  And the rest of the time I just walked right out of the house wearing my favorite brown leather comfy, well-worn shoes.  As I think about that now I realize that while maybe we don’t all have favorite shoes or even two pairs of the same favorite shoes so we can keep one pair in a box for special times, we do wear different faces depending on where we are going.  Sometimes we can just be ourselves in our comfy well-worn shoes like when we shop at our local grocery store or meet friends for lunch, but at other times we don’t let others know we have those well-worn shoes and we put on our nice shoes, as if we have everything all together.

Over the last few months I have been leading a ladies’ Bible study in my home about marriage, which has been a lot of fun.  I so enjoy spending time with other ladies who love God and also their husbands!  As I shared some of my own mistakes from my early years of marriage we laughed and learned together.  It was like I put on my well-worn shoes and let everyone see them.  Well, actually, most of the days I’m pretty sure that I was wearing my actual well-worn shoes.  But what happened was that the other ladies saw that I don’t always have it all together.  And that it’s okay to learn and grow each day.  And while I wore those worn-out shoes something happened.  The ladies quickly felt comfortable to share about their own struggles and victories as the room became a safe place to put on our well-worn shoes together and just be real.  Because of that we were able to surround each other with prayer and support each other.  Don’t you love wearing your well-worn shoes with good friends?  The whole series was such a special Bible study time together.  Because I wore my favorite brown leather worn-out shoes.

There are times to put on my nicely polished shoes, though.  Like when I go out with my husband or speak somewhere.  I wore them recently to a fundraising banquet for a ministry that I volunteer with.  It is important to look our best!  However, sometimes we choose to look our best, like maybe on Sunday mornings, when really we just need to put on our worn-out shoes, be real and allow someone to see that we don’t have it all together.

First Peter 5:5 says, “…clothe yourselves with humility toward one another because, ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble,'” (NIV).

I guess I clothed myself with humility as I put on my worn-out shoes and shared with my Bible study friends.  It has been so neat to watch God work in our lives as we have shared with each other.  So I guess for now that is where I’m going with those shoes, which is wherever God leads me, whether it’s in a time to wear my nicely polished shoes or in a time to wear my worn-out shoes.

So here’s my question for you today:  What shoes will you wear?

Amazing Fish Story

fishing boat picHave you ever gone fishing?  How many fish did you catch?

I recently got to share Peter’s fish story with two different groups of kids and I wonder how it compares to your fish story.

Peter grew up learning how to fish from his dad.  He got to ride in the boat and learn how to put the nets into the water in the Sea of Galilee.  He learned the right place and the right time to catch fish.  And by the time he grew up he was a very good fisherman.

So one day while he was cleaning his nets someone stepped into his boat.  It was Jesus!  Jesus was there teaching people.  Only there were so many people that Jesus didn’t have a lot of space to teach from.  So He got into Peter’s boat and invited Peter take him out into the water a little ways to teach.

When Jesus was done teaching, the people left.  But not Jesus.  Jesus stayed in Peter’s boat and told Peter to do something that didn’t make any sense.  Jesus told Peter to go out to the deep water, put down his nets and then he would catch fish.  Would Peter do what Jesus said?  Peter had just been out that night – the time when you catch fish in the Sea of Galilee – and in the shallow water – the place where you catch fish – and not caught anything.  Besides that, his fishermen friends were right there.  What if they laughed at him?  What if they made fun of him for doing what Jesus said?  And why would Jesus want him to do that anyway?  It didn’t make any sense.

You have to like Peter.  He knew it was more important to do what Jesus said than to worry about why or what his friends would think.  So he did what Jesus told him to do.  He took that boat out to the deep water, let down his nets and waited.  And waited.  What would happen?

I’ll tell you what happened.  Peter caught so many fish that his nets began to break and he ended up filling his boat and his friends’ boat with fish!  Only God could have done that!  And everyone there was amazed by how many fish they caught.

There’s a lot in this story, but today I’m enjoying the reminder of how amazing our God is.  Everyone there that day knew it.  How about you?

Okay, so maybe you haven’t caught two boatloads of fish during your fishing trips, but I’m sure you’ve seen God do amazing things.

And what if you didn’t worry about what other people think about you – only God?  What if you didn’t worry about why God says what He says and just obeyed Him?  Or what if you just took time to notice the amazing things that God has done and is doing right now?

You may not have an amazing story about fishing to tell, but I bet you have an amazing story about God to tell.  Or maybe you’re like Peter in that boat before the miracle.  You’re obeying God and you feel like you’re sitting in that boat waiting to see what will happen next, wondering what God is doing and hoping that it will be good.  In time I think those nets will be full of fish, everyone around you will be amazed by what God has done and you will have an amazing story to tell!

Like Peter’s amazing fish story.

While We Wait

childwaitingAre you waiting for anything?  I’m waiting for something.  Something that’s going to make me wait again.  And I don’t even really like waiting.

I ordered a new slow cooker.  Now I have to wait for it to come.  Why does that take so long?  Well, it should only be a few days, but it sure seems like a long time.  It will be great when it is here, though.  And while I wait I can find new slow cooker recipes.

Because when it comes, I’ll get to cook with it.  And then wait some more because slow cookers cook food for hours until the food is ready.  But the slow-cooked food will be so good.  And while I wait, the kitchen will be filled with the wonderful aroma of hope – hope of a delicious dinner.

So today I’m thinking about waiting.  Some things just take so long.  And we have to wait.  Like waiting in line at the store.  Waiting for pizza to be delivered.  Waiting for God to answer prayers.  Waiting for injuries to heal.  Waiting for a doctor report.  Waiting for someone’s heart to change.  Waiting for a job.  Waiting for a paycheck.  Waiting for Christmas.  Waiting to meet someone special.  Waiting for marriage.  Waiting for a baby to be born.  Waiting for a busy time of life to be over.  Waiting to go on vacation.  Waiting for nail polish to dry.  Waiting for a child to tie their shoes.  Waiting for an airplane.  Waiting for the weekend.  Waiting.

Some things just take time.  And we have to wait.  But often the things that we wait for are worth the wait.  Which is why I ordered a slow cooker instead of just cooking everything in the microwave or oven or on the stove.  Yes, dinner from a slow cooker will be good.  And worth the wait.  So what do we do while we’re waiting?

There are several verses in the Bible about waiting.  Here are a couple from the Psalms:

When David was confident that God would deliver him from his enemies he wrote, “Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord,”  (Psalm 27:14 NIV).

I don’t know who wrote this, but whoever it was knew that God’s Word would never fail.  Here’s Psalm 130:5, “I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his words I put my hope.”

Isaiah knew that God was always good, even when we are in difficult times of waiting, and he encouraged God’s people to trust in Him and gain their strength from Him.  He wrote Isaiah 40:31, “But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

So, even when it’s difficult to wait, we can be confident and strong because we know that God’s Word will never fail.  Whatever happens during and after the wait, God will be with us.  Actually, God is right here with us even while we wait.

Love Is…

heartinhands“Love is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  Love never fails.”  1 Corinthians 13:4-8a NIV.

Happy Valentine’s Day, Everyone!

Shoe Saga Steps On

shoeswalkingSo, you know those shoes that I’ve written about twice now?  Yep, there’s more.  My shoe saga steps on!

To catch you up, first the shoes were very worn out, but I kept wearing them because they were so comfortable.  Then I found out that the store was still selling them and they had them in my size.  What a happy day that was!  But I also learned that maybe God doesn’t want us to just be comfortable all the time.  Oh.

Then that second pair of shoes wore out, but I made an amazing discovery:  shoe polish.  When I polished my shoes they looked like new again.  Another happy day!  And I learned that God is very good at making things new, including us.

So I wore my nicely polished shoes for weeks until I realized that they were looking worn out again.  Ugh!  I need to get that shoe polish out.  I haven’t polished them yet, but I did see someone at an airport having his shoes polished and again I discovered something.  As we all live our lives from day to day, our shoes get worn out.  We need them polished over and over.  In the same way, we need to continually be spending time with God.  We were created to know God, to be in relationship with Him, not to live life on our own.

Think about all those athletes that we get to watch now at the Olympics.  I’m sure that they didn’t always feel like training for their sport, but now I’m sure that they are very glad that they did spend all of that time learning, practicing and listening to their coaches.  What if we as believers spent time every day with our coach – our God who knows us and wants the best for us?  I think it would make a big difference in our lives.  We definitely see a difference in the way that those athletes perform their sports.  So let’s spend time training with our coach as he helps us keep our shoes polished.

Let’s keep spending time with God every day and continue to be filled with His Holy Spirit as we step on!

“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize?  Run in such a way as to get the prize,” (1 Corinthians 9:24 NIV).

presentpicWe just celebrated Christmas and I found this poem that my son wrote when he was little.  It’s still a good reminder for today so here it is:

Christmas is fun in the snow.

But don’t the people know?

The only thing that really matters

Isn’t the turkey on the platters.

It isn’t the presents under the tree,

But it’s that Jesus came

For you and me.

By Nathan Schulz