Friday, November 26, 2010

Share CHRISTmas

It’s truly more blessed to give than to receive. In fact I live to give. I’m most thankful that my husband is kind and allows me to give. This morning the alarm went off at 3:00 am for Kent and me to rise and shine and give God some glory! Redonia joined us in our Black Friday quest. At 4:00 am Kent dropped Redonia and me at Target. He then went to Whataburger to get Redonia her favorite bacon, egg, and cheese biscuit with the bacon crispy (like her Popsie). We had so much fun filling our cart with gifts for kids. We purchased quite a few gifts for some children who ride our buses to Sunday School. Then we purchased gifts for nieces and nephews. The next stop was Wal-Mart to purchase a few more gifts for the kids.

Before taking Redonia to her last stop of the morning we opted to use our coupons for free mochas at McDonalds and Redonia decided to get another biscuit. While in line I began to talk with an elderly man. I’ve seen the gentleman riding his bike around town for 20 years. It’s obvious he has a few handicaps; however, he has such a positive outlook on life. I felt a little benevolent and felt I should purchase his breakfast. Unfortunately I over rode my conscience and missed my blessing. While sitting across the restaurant from him I observed him striking up conversations with anyone who would listen. He is such a pleasant person. I sat quietly and endeavored to fight back tears. Finally I lost the battle as tears gushed over my lids. I shared my regrets with my family.

As I sat and reflected on my emotions I discovered again the true meaning of Christmas. It isn’t about me rather it’s about giving unselfishly of me. The purchase was small – a senior coffee and a sausage biscuit from the dollar menu. I’m certain he could afford the purchase but maybe he simply needed someone to show him kindness. Maybe I was the one needing to listen to the still quite voice that I recognize so well.

I have vowed this will be the best Christmas season, ever. It proves to be a very busy season, however, I will not be too busy to entertain angels unaware nor will I be too busy to spend time with those I love. Christmas is in my heart and I pray I don’t keep it there. I want to spread Christmas everywhere with everyone.

May we all share CHRISTmas…Remember He IS the reason! If He being love is in us He will manifest Himself through us.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Africa Trip

Kent and I were blessed to spend two weeks in Africa. While most of our time was in Zimbabwe we did get to enjoy a couple of days in Johannesburg South Africa, too.

We saw hundreds and hundreds of elephants. What massive animals! One of the coolest animals in the kingdom is the giraffe. I thought it was especially awesome watching the tall giraffe separate his legs as if he were doing the splits to lower his tall body enough to drink water from the watering holes. Baboons and monkeys were everywhere! One of the hotels warned us to keep the doors and windows closed to ensure we didn't have special guests - the baboons. We saw a herd of more than 200 Water Buffalo's. I have a list of more than 20 animals we saw in the wild. I was disappointed that we didn't see any of the big African cats.

More impressive than the animal kingdom was God's kingdom - The UPC of Zimbabwe. Our first Sunday Kent preached in a regional evangelistic service. I'm certain 15 or 20 people received the Holy Ghost. Several were baptised as well. Vicki and I were privileged to be apart of a children's crusade. Later that week I was the guest speaker at the National Ladies Conference. I was truly blessed! Zimbabwe is blessed with wonderful leaders and pastor's and wives. I felt I made some friends for life. Hopefully this week I can create a slide show of our trip.

Thanks Vicki and Tremayne for being wonderful tour guides and hosts!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Softening Salt (Words)

A few weeks ago my husband taught an incredible lesson in our Wednesday night Bible Study. He entitled his lesson, “When to Keep Your Mouth Shut”. What a powerful lesson! Since that time I have dwelt on the lesson. I’ve endeavored to do a better job.

This morning I woke up with Colossians 4:6 pounding in my spirit.
The King James Version: Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.

The Amplified Bible: Let your speech at all times be gracious (pleasant and winsome), seasoned [as it were] with salt, [so that you may never be at a loss] to know how you ought to answer anyone [who puts a question to you].

The New International Version: Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.

The Message: Use your heads as you live and work among outsiders. Don't miss a trick. Make the most of every opportunity. Be gracious in your speech. The goal is to bring out the best in others in a conversation, not put them down, not cut them out.

As I began to read the various translations two words began to stick out to me grace(gracious) and salt. Although salt is most commonly thought of as a product to make bland foods tastier, less than 5% of salt is used for that purpose. Other purposes are for removing snow and ices from roads to prevent hazardous conditions, softening water, preserving food, and stabilizing soil for construction. About 70% is used in the chemical industry as a source of chlorine. In the form of chlorine salt is used to purify water, sterilization, as a disinfectant and bleaching agent.

Salt has always been an important commodity. Today salt is inexpensive but that wasn't always the case. Salt can be used to preserve foods. The human body requires salt. Hence, it has been an extremely valuable commodity throughout time. In early times Roman soldiers received a salt allowance as part of their pay.

A favorite scripture in thinking about our words or conversation is Proverbs 15:1.

King James Version: A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.

New International Version: A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

The Amplified Bible: A SOFT answer turns away wrath, but grievous words stir up anger.

The Message: A gentle response defuses anger, but a sharp tongue kindles a temper-fire.

Just as salt softens, cleans, enhances flavor, and reduce chances for tragedy so should a Christian’s words. We should be gracious – tactful, delicate, showing kindness, compassion and mercy.

Matthew 5:13 admonishes that we are the salt of the earth.

The Amplified Bible: You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste (its strength, its quality), how can its saltness be restored? It is not good for anything any longer but to be thrown out and trodden underfoot by men.

New International Version: You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.

The Message: Let me tell you why you are here. You're here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. If you lose your saltiness, how will people taste godliness? You've lost your usefulness and will end up in the garbage.

King James Version: Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.

A man can never be separated from his words and actions. We have a purpose and without it we are worthless! Let’s flavor, soften, cleanse, and preserve others by allowing our words and actions to draw others to the Lord.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Thoughts on Leadership

Leaders are visionaries, risk takers, and mentors serving optimistically with persistence and passion. Leaders think dimensionally are flexible and willing to continue learning. A leader is willing to change the status quo creating new opportunities yet not seeking change for change sake. A leader will remain focused and not be deterred while building relationships and giving to the community. Leaders must be committed to improvement even when substantial change is required.

An improving leadership team recognizes change keeps things fresh recognizing non leaders often don’t deal well with change. Turmoil is inevitable. Some are effective in thinking of ways to change but find the turmoil too uncomfortable or draining to follow thru. Skeptics and naysayers will always exist. Focus should not be given to the loud critics rather those willing to remain team players laying aside personal desires.

Effectiveness is critical in leadership. Some find it difficult to admit something is non-effective or nonproducing. However, if an idea fails or inadequately produces it should be discontinued without fear of hurting feelings. Often rather than eliminating something it is more comfortable to simply reduce the plan and add new plans. Maintaining ineffective activities are energy draining and hinder greater things being accomplished. Analyzing expenditures and balancing gain against cost is helpful, too. We are involved in this process and are amazed at the results. Recently, we decided to spend more money on web design, internet advertising, and banners moving away from costly ineffective yellow page advertising. Leaders must be willing to instill excitement and move forward.

Flexibility of a leader includes willingness to move within the framework of the structure. A leader must be willing to do what is best for reaching the goal of the team rather than being in control of every situation. Often age and time of involvement in a particular area diminishes a leader’s effectiveness. This does not mean the person should not remain a church leader rather it is time to serve in another capacity. Normally a student pastor is effective in his 20’s and 30’s yet in his 40’s the energy to maintain the expectations of a younger generation is more difficult. It doesn’t mean the person is no longer a leader rather it means it is time for a leadership shift. By making room for younger leaders the leadership team broadens. Often fear of being out of the loop or lack of involvement causes a person to want to remain in control of areas that should actually be released. Releasing control does not release leadership from the individual. Rather the leader should involve in other areas of the structure. Mario Andretti stated, “If you think you’re always in control, then you’re not going fast enough.” Change is exhilarating, but unsettling. Change produces rapid growth and is more satisfying than a slow methodical manner.

Finally, optimism makes risk taking more comfortable. Planning for success is fulfilling. Look for victories, even small ones. Victories lift spirits and gives faith for better days ahead. Regardless if a leader’s opti­mism is shaken he must still speak positively. Fearlessness or the appearance of is another asset in achieving change. Leadership is about discerning what should and should not be changed and accomplishing it!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Birds and Friendships

Amos 3:3 (Amp) Do two walk together except they make an appointment and have agreed?

A favorite saying when Mom was rearing each of her children was “Birds of a feather flock together”. She tried to instill in us the importance of selecting our friends knowing we would eventually become them. She knew that our reputation would become our friends by association. Basically, Mom’s quote was an effort to safe guard.

Recently Mom posted something similar on Facebook. It created quite a dialogue. Some felt Mom was rude, uncaring, or prejudiced against people who choose to not live a life of holiness. I grew frustrated because someone told Mom she wasn’t the sweet person she knew Mom to be. I endeavored to carefully explain Mom has lived this principle my entire life. The person felt it an unchristian approach. Mom does not refer to ‘flocking or friending’ in regards to outreach rather those who we share close friendly relationships. In fact this is a very scriptural principle based on Amos 3:3. Additionally, this is a very civic principle. If you are with persons vandalizing and the group is caught everyone is guilty. If you are with persons doing drugs all are guilty if an arrest is made.

I have many ‘friends’ who do not live the way I live nor believe the way I believe. But those who are my closest, best friends, bff, or how you may describe the person will have much in common. Recently, I was asked why is it when people leave a congregation they began to talk or befriend others who have left the congregation when previously they weren’t friends are didn’t talk. We have pastored for almost 20 years. Through the years there have been those who have left and I have noticed the conclusion drawn by my friend is often true. This has not only happened in regards to CUPC but in two other churches I’ve been strongly associated with. Additionally, I have seen it via Facebook from other churches. In this setting of forming friendships or groups the people are trying to connect to a part of their life. The common ground is the church they attended.

Ministers & wives are friends with other ministers & wives. Last week Trent and Calah drove to Beaumont to spend time with a young minister & wife. This week we had some ministry friends traveling thru Texas from Kansas enroute to Louisiana. They decided to stay the night in Conroe so we could spend a few hours together.

Recently I have decided to challenge our youth to do more. In so doing I began to think those who serve tend to be friends with others who serve and those who become discouraged hang with other discouraged teens.

Of late I have gone through a few difficult times. I am certain I have been an emotional strain on some dear friends who have kept me encouraged. However, our relationship will not last if I am always taking from my friends and not depositing something into the relationship. This challenges my thinking. If I realize I can weaken my friends then I must acknowledge friends can weaken me.

What kind of persons will I associate? Those who gossip, complain, cause disunity, and are judgmental or will I be with those who are faith filled, friendly, positive, and Christ like? Sometimes a close look at our friends reveals who we are. True friendships are not casual. Rather I believe our friendships are as Amos 3:3 suggests planned because we have made an appointment and agree otherwise the friendship would not exist.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Find Strength by Counting Blessings

Often schedules are cluttered, life is busy and problems are present. Most lead this type life on a consistent basis. During such times it is easy to fail to count our blessings. I do not want to become like the people the Psalmist wrote about in Psalm 106:21(NIV) "They forgot the God who saved them, who had done great things in Egypt." I do not want to forget His saving grace nor the great things He has accomplished in my life.

Today I want to be still and honestly reflect God’s goodness, blessings, and mercy. During busy times I find it necessary to list my daily plans and chores. This morning I have committed that in future cluttered and difficult days I will list a few of His ‘wonders’. This day I will notice the abundance of God in my life. Psalm 66:5 (Msg) “Take a good look at God's wonders—they'll take your breath away. He converted sea to dry land; travelers crossed the river on foot. Now isn't that cause for a song?” No, I haven’t crossed a river on foot but God has performed many other miracles for me. He always takes good care of me. Yes, it is cause for a song!

Psalm 71:15 (NIV) "My mouth will tell of your righteousness, of your salvation all day long, though I know not its measure." If we talk about the good things of the Lord rather than dwelling on things we may face; joy, strength, and happiness will abound. Be strengthened in the Lord today!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Finishing Strong

1 Corinthians 9:24 (MSG) You've all been to the stadium and seen the athletes race. Everyone runs; one wins. Run to win. All good athletes train hard. They do it for a gold medal that tarnishes and fades. You're after one that's gold eternally.

In the game of life as well as serving the Lord it is not how we start the race but how we finish that matters. There are seasons of life where everything goes right. We are on a winning streak, make good choices, make right decisions, and take wise steps. However, this season does not last forever. Eventually seasons change and we struggle. Perhaps we have problems within our families. Injury or offense comes. We get injured by a bad deal ,a harsh word, or the loss of a career. Instead of pressing forward toward the prize, we are tempted to give up.

Paul encourages us not to give up or give in but to finish the race. In other words, it is not how strong we start, but how strong we finish. It is not how a marriage or family began; it is how strong our relationships grow. It is not who or what may hinder, bring us down, or when we messed up. It’s about pressing on and winning the prize. However, in order to win the prize we must finish the race we began.

Living for the Lord everybody wins. It is different than earthly games where only one person or one team can win the prize. I Corinthians 9:24 explains “There are many runners but only one prize.” In the Christian race all may obtain the prize which is the crown of life. We are chosen to be on God’s team – the winning team. As children of God, it doesn’t matter how many times we get knocked down. We can still finish the race as strong winners

Life is going to bring us down from time to time. The Bible says because we live in a fallen world, we should expect adversity. If you are on a winning streak right now; look out! Adversity may soon be running behind you. It takes a made up mind to stay in the ‘game’. After being knocked down you may need to forgive someone who has hurt you or prevented you from playing well. Stay focused on the Word it adds power and endurance to finish.

Get rid of weights which will hinder your ability to finish:
Hebrews 12:1, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” (NIV)
Make up your mind to persevere:
Acts 20:24, “However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me--the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace.” (NIV)
Keep pressing, you are going to make it:
Philippians 3:14, “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (NIV)

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


"Imagine a person who lives well, treating others fairly, keeping good relationships…doesn't live by impulse and greed, doesn't treat one person better than another, but lives by my statutes and faithfully honors and obeys my laws." Ezekiel 18:5 (MSG)

After taking a few days to write my previous post on “Friendships” one word began to dance in my thoughts – ‘impulse’. Our senses bombard us to become impulsive. At one point or another everyone has been impulsive. We want to look right, enjoy certain smells, taste something particular, enjoy how something makes us feel, and enjoy hearing compliments. These 5 senses many times are unbridled causing us to make poor impulsive decisions.

Ladies, how many times have you at the last minute decided to purchase a new outfit because you had nothing to wear that looked right? Better yet, shopping with a friend not needing to spend money a friend told you how beautiful you looked in an outfit you tried on for fun; you loved what you heard and gave in to impulsive spending. As a result the item still hangs in your closet with the tags because it is not your style. Maybe you were attending a wedding or special event and ‘needed’ a new outfit. Regardless that you couldn’t find what you really liked you settled not really liking the purchase. The money was a waste because you never wore the outfit again. Possibly a friend got a new gadget and you decided you ‘needed’ one, too.

Often the same impulsive nature exists in our spiritual lives. Many pray in a crisis or run to church when there is a problem, yet others stay home and hide during a problem. Impulse prevails for the moment rather than a consistent walk with God. Decisions are made impulsively that must be lived with. Life is not like a new gadget, clothing article, or car. It can’t be put sold on Ebay, Craigslist, or a garage sale. In fact it can’t be traded with a friend. An impulsive nature in spending, habits, hobbies, and friends uncontrolled will definitely began to form our character. It is impossible to separate an impulsive physical nature with an impulsive spiritual nature

Well planned decisions add balance and consistency to our daily lives. Decisions are made with a plan to execute the goal. Every decision may not be easy, however regret or frustration will not exist and a strong mind to accomplish will prevail. We can give God what He desires of us and not just a quick impulsive prayer or Christian service. I want to live by His statues and faithfully honor and obey Him as Ezekiel 18:5 suggests.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Thoughts on Friendships

Friendship, a complex word used to describe relationships ranging from mere associations to very intimate or close relations is intriguing. While marriage relationships, business relationships, and even some family relationships have fallen apart; a true friendship will last forever.

It is impossible to change friends abruptly, forge deep relationships quickly, maintain a friendship that lacks loyalty, or embrace someone without knowing them. Many times people seem inconsistent or always involved with a current fad or hobby trying to connect with someone they call “friend”. While everyone is influenced somewhat by those we associate others seem greater influenced. Some change hobbies or interests, purchase or decorate homes like friends, acquire similar vehicles, dress similarly, or fashion hair styles to their ‘friends’. Simply, a person involved in this confusion is really not a friend rather endeavoring to satisfy an inner longing never satisfied with things, hobbies, people, or careers. These persons are disastrous or dangerous full of inner turmoil. The threat that is created by this type individual is more a self destruction or a threat to their immediate family members. Some may try to argue the person is not a leader rather a follower. Another may argue “I’ve always wanted to do what I’m doing and I’m finally in a setting allowing me to be the person I’ve always been”. However, I contend it is impossible to vacillate quickly without the possibility of self destruction.

A short time ago I discussed with someone the difference of a true friendship and a mere association. I explained my perception of a relationship this individual had was a relationship built around an association created by location rather than a “friendship”. One may ask, “How did you base your opinion?” Simply, I recognized one of the persons in the friendship was simply involved due to location and nothing more. While the person I was endeavoring to help had a true feeling of friendship toward the other person it proved difficult for him to comprehend my feelings. Time, however, has proven my point. The friendship has not remained loyal or committed.

Regardless if a person is of the generation preferring the hymn "What a Friend We have in Jesus" or the praise and worship chorus "I am a Friend of God" hopefully we recognize the true meaning of ‘friend’ not confusing it with an association or casual relationship. Though distance and life separates friends; friends will always remain friends. Likewise, nothing should ever separate us from Him. Today, I will endeavor to strengthen my vertical relationship so every horizontal relationship will be correct.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

My World

After several pleas for me to blog here goes.....

I've got much I'd like to say. Much has been in my thoughts and heart. I just haven't slowed down long enough to organize my thoughts. What a pitiful excuse, huh? Actually, it's the truth.

Each January I establish personal goals. Some years the list is long and very detailed other years it is much shorter. This year I simply put three goals on my list. Little did I realize the amount of effort and prayer that would go into ensuring I accomplish my short list. Following is my 2010 Goals.doc

increased prayer for my children
aggressive in teaching/training
aggressive in studying/preparation

The goals were formulated with prayer and meditation. I wanted to write meaningful things that I truly would work to accomplish. Things that would help me yet have a positive effect on others.

First, let me say when you make a STRONG determination to commit things to God and see His will accomplished expect opposition. Later in January we hit our first obstacle. It was quite a challenge but we made it through. Then our family attended Because of the Times in Alexandria and were blessed. We fight battles and win victories as a family. Surely, victories were gained at BOTT.

In the Spring I went through a major surgery. A few weeks into the recovery I questioned if I had done the right thing by going thru the surgery. Later I realized God had ordered my steps. The recovery process allowed alone time at home to reflect on God. During this time I truly feel I grew closer to Him. Through the first quarter of the year the church continued to grow and the ministries of the church strengthened.

One Thursday morning in late May I was awakened by a God dream. At the time it felt more of a nightmare. Might I add every Mom's nightmare yet I knew it was from God. I dreamed my beautiful unwed daughter was with child. I lay still in bed weeping and talking with God until Kent awoke. I apprised him and immediately made my way to our daughter's room. I told her the dream and she began to weep telling me her fear. This began the longest weekend of my life. We went that afternoon to the doctor only to get a positive test. We shared the news with our parents and siblings immediately. We found great love and support. We had some ministry friends to come to our home and pray with us and our three children. Friday and Saturday we took time telling the ministers and church board. Then on Sunday night Kent told our entire congregation with our family sitting on the front pew. I can't explain the great amount of love and support we gained from our church family. The ONLY negative remarks we have received are from a few persons who no longer worship at CUPC.

The first few days were like a death had occurred in our family. Thankfully, we made it through those dark times with the help of our church, family, and friends. A couple of weeks later we went as a family to Texas District Camp Meeting. We were overwhelmed with the love, prayer, and support we received from the ministers and wives. On Wednesday morning the minister knew NOTHING about our circumstance and prophesied to Kent. Then we had a couple of other very evident divine moments. Each of us left refreshed in the Lord.

The first month I could not have made it without my friends, Jerry Ann Guidroz, Renee Flowers, Judy Gandy, and Karen Wehrle. They continue to call or text to check on us. Then there is Sis. Benson, Sis. Russo, Gena Caruthers, and others who have gone out of their way to make sure we are ok and to encourage our daughter.

Immediately we got busy making sure our daughter is well taken care of. Bro. Wayne McClain, our pastor, told us she was forgiven before we even knew. He knew she had already made things right with God. Bro. McClain admonished us to love her and continue with life as it were prior to our knowing of the pregnancy. He said if God forgives then we as well as others should. While we knew he was right we also knew we had a church to protect. We wanted our church and daughter to know she didn’t just do wrong but she committed sin against God. Much to our surprise we didn't have to protect the church. They protected us. What awesome saints! Friends as well as saints told us God had arranged for the right people to be in our lives for this time. I know they are right and stand amazed at God.

Now, we are enjoying watching our daughter plan for her baby by preparing the nursery, choosing names, picking out which outfits the baby will wear at the hospital, etc. She is going to be an awesome Mom. Of course we don’t know the gender so final plans can’t be made.

Someone not knowing anything about our circumstances told me God had given them a word for me. "The problem that has robbed you of your joy is going to bring you the greatest joy." I stood and wept and wept. The lady did not even know our daughter. When I told her what we were dealing with she cried. Then replied, "God is right a grandbaby will bring you the greatest joy you have ever experienced"

While I wouldn't wish this crisis on an enemy I am thankful that we see how God prepared us for it. We are doing great and we know great days are ahead for our daughter and grandbaby.

I work with many unwed Moms in bus ministry. I love these dear Moms and their children so much. Just as I have shown mercy we are receiving mercy. Thankfully during this time CUPC has continued to grow and prosper. In fact I believe even greater things will come thru this process that we have experienced. I now love with a new love and show mercy with a new mercy.

I'll try not to be the insane grandmother and let every post be about the baby but as Kent told our church...."Our grandbaby is going to be cuter than yours" :)

Keep us in your prayers.....