Friday, September 19, 2014

Share the Dream

I've been reading in Genesis the last several days in preparation for a series of Sunday School lessons I'll be teaching on the life of Joseph. His life intrigues me. Each time I read his story I am amazed at his wisdom, self control and self discipline, his faith, and his forgiveness. He stands as a shining example to every little boy and every little girl of what God will do with a life of integrity, character, and submission to His divine will. I have read his story many times, taught many Sunday School lessons, and heard many sermons based on his life, but didn't react to this one particular verse until the other day: Genesis 37:11;
"And his brothers envied him, but his father kept the matter in mind."

If you aren't familiar with his story, Joseph was son number 11 of Jacob and his beloved wife Rachael. Jacob had run away from his angry brother Esau, traveled to the land of his mother's people, met beautiful Rachael at a well, agreed with her father Laban to work for her hand in marriage for 7 years, was tricked on his wedding night and found out the next morning that he had actually married her older sister Leah. His love for Rachael was so great that he agreed to work for another 7 years for her and he and Rachael were married the next week. Over the course of the next several years, Leah and his 2 concubines gave Jacob 10 sons, but the Bible says that Rachael could not have children.

In Genesis 30:22, "Then God remembered Rachael, and God listened to her and opened her womb."
Verse 24; "She called his name Joseph." Rachael and Jacob later had another son, Benjamin, but in giving birth to Jacob's 12th son, Rachael died. From chapter 30, on through the rest of the book of Genesis, we see Jacob's favoritism toward Joseph and the envy that it created among his other sons almost destroyed his family.

The Bible tells us that Joseph was a very handsome man. The Bible also tells us that Rachael was a beautiful, stunning woman. I believe Joseph looked exactly like his mother and each time Jacob looked at that face he saw the face of his beloved.....and the 10 older sons could not help but see the look of love on Jacob's face each time he looked at Joseph or spoke of him. (Please read the rest of the book of Genesis to see how things turned out. It's a good lesson for every parent on what not to do! Don't play favorites with your kids.)

In chapter 37, we're told that Joseph dreamed dreams of greatness. And he didn't keep those dreams to himself, but he shared them with his father and 10 older brothers. And in v11, when Jacob heard Joseph tell of his dreams, "he kept the matter in mind." I believe at that moment Jacob knew that God had placed His calling on his son's life. Of course he didn't know all the details, nor did he know the hurt and anguish they both would endure for the next several years, but....he knew.

Mom, I believe God has placed within your heart the ability to discern His voice in your child's life. I have many examples with all 3 of our sons when I knew that God had spoken to them, but I'd like to share one in particular.

When Jeff was a junior in high school, he came to me one day with a piece of paper in his hand and said, "I wrote a sermon." For a few moments I didn't know quite how to respond, then I said, "Well what are you going to do about it?" And at that moment I had a sense, deep within me, that God was going to use him in ministry in some way. I had no idea how, but I knew.

We did not talk it about anymore for years, and he became involved with teaching at our church and working with the youth and I thought maybe God would use him in some way in youth ministry. But when he shared with his Dad and me that he knew God was calling him to preach the Word, I wasn't surprised because I just knew....it had always been there because "I had kept the matter in mind."

So how can we help our children and grandchildren discern God's voice in their lives?
1. Love the Word, be a student of the Word and teach them from an early age to be lovers of the Word.

This is where they will first hear God's calling on their life and where He will establish His Word in their heart. A student of the Word is someone who is preparing to hear from God, and this above everything else will develop a sensitivity to all things holy and spiritual in your child's heart.

2. Make sure they hear good, solid, conservative gospel preaching that speaks truth into their young lives.

Have them attending a good Sunday School class with a teacher who has been called by God to teach children. And ladies there is a difference in a teacher and a God-called teacher. God calls teachers just as He calls preachers. (1 Corinth.12:28) Could God be calling you to be teacher? ASK HIM!

3. And this is so important; begin early in your child's life developing the kind of relationship with your children that they feel comfortable coming to you with "their dreams."

Jacob and Joseph lived in a time when children were considered property. Most sons didn't have an open, loving relationship with their father and Jacob certainly didn't have that kind of relationship with his other sons. But in chapter 37, Joseph eagerly shared "his dreams" with his father. Joseph saw Jacob as "approachable". Do kids not share their dreams with us because they are afraid we will not take them seriously or dismiss their intimate thoughts? I love to hear my sons share their hopes and dreams with me. Whether it is Kyle sharing with me his dreams for Africa, Bryan sharing his dreams for his family and his personal life, or Jeff sharing a dream he has for his church, I want to be approachable to my sons and interested in their dreams. And the really neat thing is, now my grandchildren are sharing their dreams; maybe not on as great a scale, but I believe little dreams turn into big dreams and I want to be a part of it all!!

So...as you tuck in those little ones tonight, or sit around the table with your teen or pre-teen, create an atmosphere in your home that invites "dream sharing." What a privilege to be a part of their lives and dreams. And when they do open their heart, (maybe just and inch or so) and share their most intimate hopes and dreams, "keep the matter in your mind" and watch over the next few years how God turns that dream into a calling on their lives. And because you have been approachable and inviting, you get to influence the dream and become a part of it.

Penny

Sunday, September 7, 2014

To Stay or Flee

Did you ever get in trouble as a kid and try to hide from your Mom? Some of you may remember when families kept a "folding bed" tucked away for guests who visited and spent the night. Basically they were like a sofa-bed except they could be moved more easily. It was a regular bed with "springs" and a mattress, 4 wheels, it folded in the middle, had latches on the top, and when you unfolded it, it became a bed that could be used, then folded and stored away till the next batch of company showed up. They are becoming popular again and are great for when the grandkids visit. And for kids, they can be a great place to hide when they are folded.

When I was a child we had one. It stayed "folded" and out of the way until we had company, and one of the funniest stories my Mama would tell was about one of us kids, (not me) and the folding bed.

One of the "kids" did something he or she shouldn't have done, knew they "were going to get it" and ran and hid in the folded up folding bed. Well Mama couldn't find him/her anywhere, then she noticed the folding bed and saw his/her feet sticking out of that folded up bed and got so tickled she could not bring herself to punish him/her.

I hadn't thought of that story for years until I read Psalm 11.
v1: In the Lord put I my trust; how say you to my soul, "Flee as a bird to your mountain?"

David knew what it meant to hide. For 10 years he hid from Saul and then he spent years hiding from his son, Absalom. He had put his trust in the Lord and now he hears God speak to his soul and say, "Flee, just like a bird who is pursued by an enemy flees to the safety of the mountain."

David had spent most of his life in the fields and the woods and the mountains. Don't you know that many times he watched as a bird being pursued by a larger bird or animal flew higher and higher until it reached safety. And how many times he may have watched that bird and longed to be able to fly far, far away. Far away from Saul, and later in life, away from God's eye.

I know what it's like to want to hide and I know what it's like to wish I could "flee". But I also know that there are things to stay and fight for. And in this post I want to share with you 2 situations; in one of them we stand and fight, and in the other we flee. The secret is having the spiritual discernment to know which to do at just the right time; our testimony and our effectiveness depend on staying or fleeing.

v3; If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?

Foundations are important, right? Does it matter what kind of foundation your house is built upon? It sure does.A foundation is something you lay down first, and in today's building code, that foundation is cement or steel, depending on what is being built. Then layer by layer you lay down the right material in the right order and when you do it right, you have built something that will last and stand the test of time.

So let's do some building; let's build a marriage. What is the foundation that a lasting marriage is built upon?
1. Love for God, love for each other.
2. Respect.
3. Trust.
4. Faithfulness; to each other and to the marriage.
5. Forgiveness.
6. Patience. (ouch)
7. Work together as a team.
8. Commitment to the marriage.
9. Endurance.
10. Choosing to look for the good, refusing to allow bitterness to grow.

Ladies, we are at a crisis level in our world today. The 2 targets on satan's hit list are the family and church and in that order. Your family starts with the foundation of your marriage and then on that foundation you build a foundation in your children. If he can destroy the family then he will succeed in destroying the fabric of our society and he is targeting our kids. We stay and fight for marriage and family.

This fall tv viewing season is said to be a record setting season for the number of shows that do not depict the traditional family, and this is how you stay and fight:
Educate yourself about what your kids are viewing on tv, reading, the music they listen to, who their friends are, and pay close attention to what they are wearing. In other words, get real nosey. Who told you you had to respect their privacy? You are MOM and studies show and I firmly believe that kids today are "needy" for an "on sight" Mom and Dad who love them too much to respect their privacy. Commercials, shows, movies, books, and music that portray families as anything other than a Mom and Dad are targeting your children to help develop in them a tolerance for open sin and tolerance for lifestyles that are not biblical. (I know there are many single parents today doing a fantastic job and I know a few of them personally. Keep it up! That isn't the subject of this post; please keep reading and you'll see what I mean.)

For example; when you watch a movie or tv show and 2 people who are married to other people decide to have an affair, does it shock you? Probably not because our generation grew up being conditioned that, "Hey, that's life." Why? Because there is a crumble in our foundation and we have developed a tolerance for the adultery we see portrayed, cursing and taking God's name in vain, nudity, exploitation of women and children and they are so common place that we aren't even fazed by it. And the result; we are helping satan accomplish his purpose, crumble by crumble.

So how do we stay and fight? We get back to Bible morality. We read it for ourselves, ask God to give us His convictions for how we are to live our lives, and then we speak up; first, in our homes and to our own children, then we don't remain silent when issues come up at work, in the school, in our community, or in our relationships. We don't hide away and let our foundation begin to crumble: we take a stand and we fight!!

But when do we flee? When a man who is not your husband begins to notice you a little too much, or makes you feel awkward or uncomfortable, that's our God-given 6th sense that warns us of sexual danger; "that's your cue to flee as bird to your mountain." And if he doesn't stop, tell the appropriate people in your life. Stand up for yourself, you don't have to be treated that way even if it is your boss, or family member, or family friend. If you are married, do not be alone with any man who is not your husband, do not accept gifts from him, and after the first, "you look nice today", don't let it go any further; flee!

We fight by speaking truth into people's lives, and we flee by protecting ourselves and those we love. And yes, even a teenager needs the protection of parents who know the truth and teaches it by how they live their lives. And ladies, our husbands need our protection, too, just as we need his. That's a blog for another time!

Morality, morality, morality; we teach it by taking a stand for it, and we teach it by fleeing when it's time to flee to the mountain.

Whew........I have felt so pressed in my spirit to share this with you. I know it may sound so out of date and old fashioned to some of you, but.....it is the truth.

Questions or comments?

Penny

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Knee Deep in the Struggle

Are you in a "struggle"? You know what I mean; you feel like you are pulled in 100 different directions at once and you don't know which struggle is worth the fight and which one is not. Struggles come in all different shapes and sizes. I have a friend who is in a physical struggle with breast cancer. She has small children and struggles with how to effectively treat it in order to have more time with her children. I have another friend who is in an emotional struggle with how to effectively help her aging mother. A sweet young friend of mine is facing a struggle with her pregnant teenager and they are both way in over their heads, knee deep in the struggle. Daily I watch a friend struggle with insecurity, low self-esteem and depression. And dear friend, I know that if you are living, breathing, and serving Christ, you struggle.

As I wrote in an earlier post, I don't swim, I awkwardly dog paddle. Since my Dad had such a fear of water that he told us girls we couldn't go swimming until we learned to swim, I didn't do much swimming. When I was about 9 or 10, our Baptist association rented a local swimming "lake" for the day and all the
G A girls and their leaders were invited to swim, free of charge, and my Dad let me go. There were lots of leaders there, plus women from our own church, and I'm sure he felt I would be safe.

For awhile I was content to splash around in the edges of the water, but I kept watching my friends out in the deeper part, so I decided to venture out a little farther. This may have been a man-made lake, but it still had drop-offs and I hadn't ventured out too far until I stepped off the solid ground and found myself in water up to my chin and I panicked. And what do we do when we panic? We struggle. Even to this day I can still feel the fear, I can still hear the roaring of the water in my ears, and still remember struggling for something to grab hold of. As I stood on my tippy toes and tried to get closer to shore, the noise, the splashing, and the fear all contributed to my struggle. I was in "almost" over my head, struggling against the water that threatened to wash over me, and more scared than I could remember being in my entire young life. Suddenly someone saw my struggle and they reached out a hand and effortlessly pulled me onto solid ground, I made my way to the shore, and I stayed there for much of the day.

As an adult, I learned that the struggle I had with the water that day was nothing compared to the struggles of everyday living. David and I married young and when 2 very opinionated, strong willed people try to make a decision or come to an agreement, you talk about a struggle! I've struggled with other issues such as fear, low self-esteem, the usual depression that most women struggle with from time to time, jealousy, hurt feelings and anger. I've struggled with making good choices, and the everyday struggle of being a godly wife and raising our sons. And then as if I hadn't struggled enough, there was the struggle to be a good mother-in-law, grandmother, daughter, daughter-n-law, sister, friend. In other words, the struggle to be perfect and have it all together because that's what people expect of us strugglers, right?

If you are a reader of the Old Testament, then you know that many men, and women, struggled. In Genesis
32 Jacob actually struggled, physically, with God Himself. And poor ole Moses endured one struggle after another as he tried to get those wandering Israelites to the Promised Land! But for me, Job stands out as the "struggler of all strugglers".

Job was a man who loved God and God loved him. Job is one man in the Old Testament that I believe God was "proud of", like you and I take that good kind of pride in our children. Job was wealthy, blessed with a wonderful family, honor and prestige in the community and an all around great guy. Then one day, he lost it all. And for the first time in his life he knew what it meant to struggle, I mean really struggle. I hope you'll read his story in the book of Job, but what caught my eye today is found in Job 41. I was reading in a devotional and saw the verse Job 41:3, and in that verse is a word that has always fascinated me and sent my imagination racing; leviathan. The leviathan is defined as the largest of all sea creatures and in Job 41 the Bible says in v33 that "upon the earth there is nothing that can compare to leviathan."

Dear friend I do not know what your struggles may be today, but as a woman I know you have them. Just know this; that what God created, God controls. And if God has complete authority over leviathan, then He has complete control over your struggles. You may have created your struggle through neglect, wrong choices, or out and out sin, but God allowed it and what God allows, He can fix.

So whether you feel you are treading water and just trying to make it to shore, or if you are-facing a struggle that threatens your marriage, the safety of your children, your job, or your very life, the God Who created leviathan can replace your despair with hope.

In Job 41 God reminded Job that He had created leviathan and He has all authority over it. But please don't stop there; in chapter 42 Job finally gets it. After all of his struggles with fear, insecurity, loss, hopelessness, and pride, he sees for the first time why God allowed his struggle.
v2; Job said, "I know that You can do everything, and that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You."
v4; "Listen please and let me speak."
And here it is: v5; "I have heard of You with my ears, but now my eyes can see you."

We hear the words of God, but after a struggle with our weight and health issues and God prevails, we see Him.
We hear His words in our struggle with insecurity, but He answers us, and we see Him.
We hear His words in our financial struggle, but then He sends a breakthrough and we see Him.

Dear friend, whatever your struggle may be today, I encourage you to take it to the One Who created and controls leviathan. Remind yourself of Who God is, how big and powerful He is, of His abiding love for you. I am continually amazed at how much less I struggle when I remember that the One Who created all things has total authority over my struggle. Could my struggle in that lake so many years ago turned out differently? It sure could have, but God had a divine plan for my life and He has a divine plan for your life, too. Sometimes in that divine plan He lets us struggle for a set time so that we can grow and expand. And sometimes in that divine plan He lets us struggle so that we won't just hear Him, we will see Him.

Blessings to you and yours today. Thank you to each one who responds; many are faithful to respond to each post and it means so much to me.

Penny

(and just one more thing; when you have been delivered from a struggle, and you see a dear sister in her own struggle, do what that dear lady, that I did not know, did for me: reach out a hand and help pull her out of her struggle. God bless)

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

What's The Plan?

I am a planner. If you read my last blog, then you also know I like structure, routine, and order in my home and in my personal life. As I often heard a wise woman say, "A place for everything and everything in it's place." Sometimes that works, but much of the time it doesn't, right?

Being a a structure oriented, type A personality, goes a long way in making me a planner. When we have a holiday or family get together coming up, I start making plans weeks in advance. Most of the time, planning in advance is a good thing and it sure helps things to run more smoothly, but.......sometimes even the best made plans can get unmade in a hurry.

This month we are celebrating our youngest grandson, Isaac's birthday. He will be a year old and we are so blessed and thankful for his life. Since April had a C-section with our grandson Alex, she scheduled a C-section with Isaac. And since the hospital was about 40 miles from their home, and she would have to stay for 3 days, David and I planned to stay in a motel with the 3 older children so they would be close to the hospital and it would make for much less driving back and forth.

As is true to my character, I had our bag packed several days before the planned event. Two days before the scheduled C-section, I receive a call from Kyle about 6 a.m. saying April was in labor, they were headed to the hospital and he needed me to get there as quickly as possible. Do you know what an unexpected 6 a.m. call like that does for a seasoned planner? First of all, I had "planned" to wash my hair that day and do all the things we women "do" when we know we are going to be gone a few days. I had "planned" to get everything in order here at home, and I was looking forward to spending a few days with the older children and being a help to Kyle and April and their family. But my plans didn't even enter the picture when I received that call. David had already left to get an early start at work, so I called him and told him what was going on, then I threw on some clothes, combed my needed to be washed hair, jumped in the car and headed to the hospital. I was excited, nervous, and deep in prayer as I turned on my flashers and as David says, "Probably at least drove the speed limit."

As I am driving down the parkway, I receive another call from Kyle. An ambulance had met them about half-way there and she would be arriving at the hospital ahead of them and I needed to be there. That sure wasn't in the plan, and I began to pray, in earnest, for God's mercy, His grace, and His blessing. God was faithful to our family that day and we have precious Isaac as evidence of His goodness.

Later that evening after things had calmed down a bit, I jokingly told a friend, "Well as usual, I made my plans, then God showed me His."

Do you ever make plans? It is scriptural to make plans; remember the ant in Proverbs 6? And what about the woman in Proverbs 31? She made all kinds of plans for herself and her family, and they were good plans, plans that God blessed. Making plans, setting goals for your family, your personal spiritual growth, financially and for your health are all good things and things that God will bless. The problem occurs when I focus on the plan and not the God Who reigns over the plan.

Proverbs 19:21; "There are many devices (plans) in a person's heart; nevertheless the counsel (decree) of the Lord, that will stand (prevail)."  I love that KJV word nevertheless; for me it's right up there with "wherefore and therefore". It says to me, "Penny, go ahead and plan your day, nevertheless, don't be caught off guard if I change things around a bit for your good and My glory." Only someone in authority can issue a decree and only God Jehovah has the authority to make a decree in my life.

So how do you respond when your best made plans are suddenly changed and you or someone you love must move in a different direction?

True of false:
1. I get angry.
2. I blame someone else.
3. I try to make my plan work anyway. (can be dangerous)
4. I cry and have a "poor me" party for one.
5. I adjust my plan to God's plan and keep on moving.
6. I learn from the experience and choose to ask God to help me make my plan the next time.
7. I look at God's plan and say, "Hey, this worked out much better than I had planned."

Well, needless to say, God's plan was much better than mine. April had a speedy recovery, no issues with surgery, she was back home in less time, and there was less stress on their family. And for me...I'm learning some planning adjustments. I find myself asking God more often, "Lord, what do You want me to do today?
How can I be a blessing to someone? I "plan" to do so-and-so today, but if You need me somewhere else, I'll change the plan."

I had such a good time that day with my grandchildren.  There was no plan, we just hung out, ate lots of junk food, made a movie of the day, and I inner-acted with people I may not have had the opportunity to be with had we stuck to "my plan."

Ladies, it is amazing what God will do when we let Him "run the show". Would there be less stress in our marriage, with our kids, in our health, at the workplace, even in our church family, if we didn't have to always be in control, and if we got up each morning and said, "This is the day that the Lord has made; I will rejoice and be glad." And Lord, what's Your plan for me today? And then move in the direction that the Holy Spirit sends us.

People watch how we respond to the un-planned, and they are influenced, one way or the other by how we react. It's amazing, yes, even life altering what un-explainable, supernatural things can take place when I take my hands off of my life and surrender control to the One Who has the authority to issue the decree and say
nevertheless.

Penny


Monday, August 4, 2014

Boundaries, Structure, and Responsibility

Hey Everyone! Has this been the busiest summer you have ever had or what?? I know it sure has been at the Noffsinger household. We've hardly had time to sit on the patio and enjoy a cold glass of tea and watch the hummingbirds! (one of my favorite summertime things to do. If you haven't gotten there yet, trust me, one day you will be old enough to enjoy it, too!)

I can't believe school is already starting! My Mom used to say that she was always ready for school to be out, but she sure was ready for it to start again. And as a Mom of 3 boys I soon understood what she meant. School means routine and I like a routine.

Recently a Mom was sharing with me about her daughter's obsession with her new phone. We talked about all the advantages of kids having cell phones and she feels that her daughter is mature enough to handle the responsibility, but she had some concerns. She said to me, "All she wants to do is face time her friends, take selfies, (selfies, really? what's next?) text and play games." I shared with her that my boys often express relief that kids didn't have cell phones when they were in school because I would never give them a minute's peace; I'd be calling to check on them all the time! So true. We talked for a while about some things she could do to lessen her daughter's phone time, and with school starting this week, I thought I'd share 3 of those things on the blog.

(to my friend in Uganda we will do a marriage post soon, I promise.)

With kids it's all about boundaries. Boundaries say to a child, "You are loved. I care too much about you to allow you to do whatever you please, whenever you please." I asked her, "Who bought the phone?" And she said, "Well I did." And I said, "I thought so. Children usually don't have the money to buy their own phone, ipad, notebook, or ipod. And since you are the one who bought it, doesn't it just make good sense that you should be the one to decide when it is used, where it is used, and how it is used?"

It's amazing how secure kids feel when parents establish authority in their home by setting boundaries. Ipads are great tools for school and work, plus they're fun. But children need balance and too much Iphone or Ipad time will get the best of kids off balance, quickly. You bought it, you set the boundaries.

Children don't just need boundaries for Iphones; parents need to set boundaries for how their children speak to them, for how they speak about them, for how they speak to other adults and their peers. Children also need boundaries in what they wear, (who buys their clothes?) who their friends are, where they go, and what time they are to be home.

So Mom, talk to Dad and together you set the boundaries for your family.When you do, you will be amazed at the level of respect that will be present in your home. Respect for you, but also, you will treat your children with more respect. Remember, you are the Mom; you bought it, you set the boundaries. You are the Mom; you decide how you are treated by your children, tell them what you expect, then tell them what the consequences will be when they step outside the boundaries, and follow through. Here's a great Bible verse to teach your children about the importance of living within the boundaries that you set for them;
Psalm 101:2; I will behave myself wisely in a mature way.

Children need structure. Parents create structure in their children's lives by developing a routine that works for your family. A set time for homework, family devotions, mealtime, bathtime, getting their backpack ready for the next day, laying out their clothes and a set bedtime all work together to make your kids feel secure, and gives them the structure they need to be successful in school. Structure and routine will give your kids the edge they need to be prepared physically, mentally, socially, and scholastically. A sleep deprived kid, without his homework complete, and all fueled up with sugar and junk food does not make for a pleasant student. And there is no way they can have a good day when it gets off to that kind of a start. Mom, you are the key; work out a routine that works with your family's schedule and stick to it as much as possible. You will be amazed at the difference almost instantly in your kids when they adjust themselves to the routine you put in place.
A great verse for teaching structure; Eccles.3:1; To everything there is a season and a time to every purpose under heaven.

Children need responsibility. When you create boundaries in your child's life, then build structure into their day, giving them age appropriate chores will build confidence and self esteem. Work is an important part of our lives. And next to our identity as believers in Christ, our work identifies us. Our work is a display of our talents and spiritual gifts and training. Work is a good thing and most children like to work. When children are given age appropriate tasks, then as they grow bigger, given more advanced chores, character and integrity begin to blossom and grow. They love to hear Mom and Dad praise them for a job well done. Even when they let you know very matter-of-factly that they are not pleased with what you have assigned them to do, but they finish the job and you praise them for their work, you can just see that little face soften and grow tender at your praise and gentle touch. Giving your kids age appropriate work will be a blessing in their lives, even if they don't think so at the time. Here's a great verse to teach your kids about the importance of work; 1 Cor.4:12; Work with your own hands.

Mom and Dad, you are the key players in your children's lives. Our kids are too valuable and too important to us to allow them to live outside the boundaries. We care too much about them to allow them to live without good habits that are formed by family structure and routine. And work establishes their place in the family and society. And as I shared with my young friend, when Mom and Dad set boundaries for their family, set up structure and a routine for their home, and give age appropriate work for their kids to do, iphone, ipad, ipod, video games and a whole lot of other "obsessions" have an amazing way of taking care of themselves.

Here's a suggestion; try these 3 things in your home for 2 weeks and watch the level of respect within your family go through the roof. See if they don't make a difference in how much more smoothly their school day goes and how much work will actually get done. But it gets better; kids who live within the boundaries that are lovingly set by their parents, learn good habits through structure and routine, and who learn at an early age the value and importance of a job well done, will be "stand out" kids from most of their peers. They will have a level of character and integrity that we don't see in every child. Sounds simple, I know, but from experience I can tell you it works. Try it, you will be amazed!

I'd love to hear from you. Contact me through the blog or by email and let me know how it's working for you. God loves your family and He desires that you succeed as a Mom. And I do, too.

Have a great day and a great new school year!!

Penny

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Do You Need a Miracle?

When something extra-ordinary, or something un-explainable by human reasoning takes place, we often hear someone say, "It's a miracle!"

Then we hear a theologian explain that "we live in a time when there is no need for miracles, because we have the Word of God, and miracles in the Bible were simply a means for God to reveal Himself to mankind".

The definition of a miracle is this: "An event that appears un-explainable by the laws of nature and so is held to be supernatural." And ladies, I believe in miracles; yes, the old fashioned kind that cannot be explained by any other means but........God.

No matter how old we are, no matter how long we have been a Christian, we never outgrow our need for the basics. We will never grow in our faith, we will never be the women God created us to be, unless the basic truths of God's Word, of His character, His love for us, His plans for us, are firmly established in our hearts and in our minds and in our very being. And one of those basics is this: Our God still works miracles in the lives of His beloved children every single day! And you and I need to believe it.

Do you need a miracle? I'm talking about a good ole fashioned miracle like we read about in the Old Testament. A miracle like the parting of the Red Sea, water springing forth from a rock, a young boy with a sling killing a 9 foot giant who was welding a sword bigger than he was, or a pagan king's heart melting at the sight of a beautiful Jewish woman named Esther.

Or maybe you need a miracle like we read about in the New Testament; a deathly illness that is healed, bread and fish multiplied to feed thousands of hungry people, blinded eyes that see, legs that run and jump, or money to pay the bills that just keep mounding higher and higher.

What looks like a miracle to me, may not look like a miracle to you, but when I am desperate for something that can only come from the supernatural hand of God, it's a miracle. And if you don't need one today, just hang on; this life is full of hills and valleys and one day, maybe sooner than you think, you will need a miracle and you will be desperate for the touch of God upon your life.

One of my most favorite women in all of the Bible is Ruth. I love her name. It is simple. It is strong. It is a no-nonsense name that speaks of stability, faithfulness, truth. Her name means "friendly", and that is how I picture her in my mind.

Let me briefly tell you her story:
Elimelech and Naomi left Bethlehem for Moab during a severe drought. The old saying, "the grass always looks greener" certainly applied to them. They were Hebrews, from the mighty tribe of Judah, living in Bethlehem which means "house of bread". They left their family, their friends, and forsook their land and went to a place that was evil, practiced idolatry and child sacrifice, and a place God had cursed and commanded His people to avoid.

Their 2 sons married Moabite women; Chilion married Orpah and Mahlon married Ruth. For 10 years both women were exposed to a new way of living. They were introduced to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. But Elimelech died. Chilion died and Mahlon died and 3 wives were now 3 widows.

In her defeat and depression, Naomi makes the decision to return to Bethlehem. She has heard that the drought is over and her hopes are that some near kinsman will be so kind as to invite her to stay in his home as a servant or maybe a care-giver for his children. She has nothing; her land was forfeited when Elimelech made the decision to move them to Moab. Her husband and her sons are gone and there is no one to redeem the land. Orpha and Ruth both decide to go with her, but after a while, Naomi realizes how absurd this is; she knows they will not be accepted, they will be treated as outcasts and she commands them to return to their families. She reminds them they are still young and can marry again and have a family. Orpah turns back, Ruth is determined to stay.

After a series of events that you can read about in the book of Ruth, Ruth receives a marriage proposal from one of the wealthiest, most influential men in all of Israel. His name is Boaz and he is a near kinsman of Elimelech. His father was Salmon and he had married Rahab the harlot after the invasion of Jericho. Boaz and Ruth had a son, Obed, and as an heir of Mahlon, he receives all of the land that once belonged to Elimelech and his family. Obed becomes the father of Jesse, Jesse became the father of David and our spiritual lineage becomes one miracle after another, and another, and another.......

Oh dear lady, please don't listen to the lies of the enemy when he tells you that God cannot love you, or save you, or use you for His kingdom work because of sin from your past. You see, He used Rahab who had a sordid past, and He used Ruth who was directly descended from Lot and his daughter. (Gen. 19)
You can never do anything to make God love you less and there is nothing you can do to make Him love you more. His love is unconditional and you are important to Him.

When you and I believe in faith (Matt.:21,22) that we serve the One Who can do what human logic says is impossible, we'll see the miraculous. Do you need a miracle in your marriage? God can do it. Do you need a miracle with your son? God can defy human logic. Do you need your daughter to come to her senses and return to her faith? God is waiting. Aren't you thankful that God defies human reasoning and logic??

What miraculous thing do you need God to do for you today? Don't be afraid to ask; He delights in doing what human logic deems impossible. Luke 1:37; "For with God nothing shall be impossible." I encourage you to boldly enter into His throne room of grace (Hebrews 4:16) and ask Him to step into your situation, whatever it may be, and do the supernatural.

What if Ruth had settled for a life in Moab? Look what she would have missed: a miracle. A poor little girl from Moab became the one God used to bring His Son, the King of Kings into this world. Now that's a miracle. Step out in faith today. He will not fail you. (Psalm 89:33)

Penny

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Mom, It's Up to You.

As Beth Moore often reminds us, "It's tough being a woman", right? We play so many different roles, wear so many different hats, and feel pressure from all sides to be all and do all. So why would I, a woman, bring up one more thing for you to add to your list? Because I feel it is important, and something that is missing in many marriages and families.

I was going through some of my notes this morning and ran across something I had written down ages ago, and I tweeted it, then decided it needed more than a tweet; it needed to be "blogged". It is something my Mom modeled for us kids when we were young, and something I tried to do with our kids, although I know I failed many times. And it is this;
"Moms are responsible for how their kids view their Dad."

The way you speak to and about your husband in front of your kids will be the influencing factor for how your children will speak to their Dad, and one day speak about him to their friends. Mom, you do your children a great injustice each time you belittle, criticize or manipulate your husband. Little ears hear a lot, and each time you show dis-respect for your children's Dad, you are teaching them, by example, that it is acceptable for a wife to verbally tear down her husband. And each time your daughter hears you disrespect her Dad, you are setting her up for trouble in her own marriage some day. And each time your son hears you disrespect his Dad, you are tearing down his hero and role model, and making it more difficult for him to be the spiritual leader in his own family.

No man, no Dad is perfect. David and I have been married 44 years and raised 3 sons; need I say more? I know men are imperfect, and we are, too. Ladies, some things just need to be overlooked. Sometimes we need to just walk out of the room, (even the house) take a deep breath and ask ourselves, "Is the aftershock really worth the blow-up?" It's easy to tear down what we've worked so hard to build up, and we can do it with only a few words.

Begin today looking (intentionally) for the good qualities in your husband and point those out to your kids. Don't you enjoy being appreciated for what you do for your family? Don't you feel good when your husband or kids compliment you on how you look, the meal you cooked, how clean the house is, etc? When a man feels respected and appreciated it changes the whole dynamics of the family relationships. It strengthens your marriage and bonds a Dad to his kids like nothing else will. Teaching your children to look at your husband's strengths rather than his weaknesses will build security into their lives. Girls who see their Dads as a strong father, (spiritually, physically, and emotionally) will look for those qualities in a husband. And boys who see their Dad's strengths will be strong leaders in their family, their church, and yes, even in our nation.

So Mom, it's up to you. The most important thing you can give your kids is to love their Dad and accept him just as he is. Our job is to love him and be submissive to his leadership in our home. It's God's job, through the power of the Holy Spirit, to do any changing that needs to be done. I learned a long time ago that the only person I can change is me. I can pray for change in those I love, but ultimately, the only person I can do anything about is me.

If Moms and Dads want their kids to be spiritually and emotionally strong, they have to stay on the same page. There is power in a united front, and ladies, building that united front with your husband begins with how your kids view their Dad. When they hear you praise his good qualities and point out the many ways he sacrifices for your family, you are well on your way to laying a foundation of respect for their Dad that you will be so thankful for in years to come. Oh what Mom and Dad can accomplish when they work together and not against each other!

Sunday is Father's Day. Make it a special day for your kid's Dad. It is tough being a woman, but God has created you and placed you in this man's life for a reason. Respect is one of those things that the more you give the more you receive.

I was blessed to have a wonderful father and my Mom made sure we knew his good qualities and I never heard her belittle or criticize him in our presence. Thank you Mama for your example.

Happy Father's Day to my wonderful husband. He is the best husband in the world and my boys could not have a better Dad or role model. And I think our sons are great Dads too!!

l-r; Bryan, David, me, Jeff, and Kyle.