Saturday, December 31, 2011

PLEASE Behave While We Have Company!

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. - Galations 6:9

What does this verse say to you? Personally right now in your life? In the last week it has spoken volumes to my heart as I watched my boys interact with our family in town for the Christmas holiday.

If I was completely honest there was definitely some fear and anxiety in my heart as the time approached that my sister and her husband were coming into town. Yeah see they don't have kids (yet!) and the last time we were all together it was a little chaotic up in Gatlinburg this past summer. My boys seemed to be misbehaving and needing disciplining continually while we all stayed in ONE cabin. I can remember crying because I was so embarrassed and stressed over it all. Now I look back and see that it was all a process to get to the season we are in now. was such a different visit this time around. It was a 180.

      Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy. - Psalm 126:5
 Yep this visit was such a joy and blessing for us all. My boys listened and obeyed. Oh an occasional discipline was necessary every once in a while, but nothing like the summer trip. They used manners and showed such love and care for others. I was so thankful...and I think Jesus was too!  I sat back thinking what was different from last summer till was a different season. Yes the physical weather season, summer and winter were different but so were the lives of my little ones. Sometimes it can feel like eternity when we are in the beginning years of training our kids. It is exhausting. We don't see fruit. We wonder, will there ever be fruit? There will. Be patient. He is working on them and you too. As we parent, HIS process is one of refining you and your little ones to look more like Jesus. It is just a season. And just like weather seasons change over time, so will this season of continually disciplining your little ones. Don't give up. You will reap a reward and it is sweet!
What "Season" of parenting are you in right now?
heat is definitely turned up and you are exhausted from the drought of obedience in your child(ren)

windy, you feel as if you have been blown all over with how other people think you should parent but you haven't really asked Jesus what He thinks (James 1:5)

cool, you are able to sit back and look at all you have reaped and are blessed by the fruit you have seen in your children

rainy @ times but you are seeing buds of new life in your children as they begin to obey

Here are a few verses to print out, put up, jot down on a note card, or give to a friend who is discouraged in her season of being a mommy.

Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.
-1 Corinthians 15:58

And as for you, brothers, never tire of doing what is right.
-2 Thessalonians 3:13

 ...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.
-Isaiah 40:31

A few weeks prior to my sister's visit I was encouraged by a friend who came to stay @ our home with her little ones. She shared how much growth she had seen in my older son and how his behavior had gotten so much better. My kids still struggle, they are not perfect, but I am so thankful that Teresa felt led to share that with me. I was so encouraged and it was as if the Lord was giving me a high five for all those times my head wanted to give up but my heart wouldn't let it! Do you have a friend with a child who is struggling? Keep your eyes open for those opportunities to bless them with some encouraging words (Eph. 4:29) when you see even the slightest bit of improvement in their child's behavior. It will mean SO much and keep that mom afloat on those days she wants to throw in the towel.

Remember these tough times are only a season...NOT forever...stick with will reap the rewards!

Friday, December 30, 2011

2011 Year in Review!

It has been a blessing to daily read from the other moms who write for Parakaleo Moms.  As I reflected over their thoughts of the past week, I compiled the following summary:

         There was a divine appointment for Kate by Grandpa Curtis;

         Precious children sharing the Christmas story;

         A full life promised to Teresa as she moved to the mission field for the eternal sake of her family of origin;

         Cheree is blessed by the revelation of God’s secret to her;

         Tracy encouraged us to take one step at a time with our walk with Jesus;

         And Courtney asked us to add reading as a New Years Resolution.

Image found here: pin/215046950926514105

         Considering the past week, has caused me to look back on the full year in review.  My life has been filled with the incredible gift of change.  There have been three graduations, our son from high school, our oldest daughter, and her now husband from college. My father had major surgery this summer. Our son went away to college.  Michelle was married this fall.

         How about your year?  How would you describe the events of the past twelve months? Surely there have been a host of circumstances and situations, events and activities that top your considerations of favorite memories.

         The year in review, clearly shows God’s faithfulness.  His goodness, His divine plan. It also reflects His justice and His patience.  2011 showed God’s unconditional love and His long-suffering and forgiveness.

         I think we would be wise to share with our children a summary of their year.  Highlights they experienced.  It could be a series of “firsts.”  First step, first tooth, or their first word.  It may be where they went or who they met.  This year in review, could include a new sibling or a new accomplishment.  It could be their academic or athletic achievements.  You could recall family times, of movie nights and camping trips.

         As we recall our child’s year in review, the highlight will be more meaningful if the focus is on the character of God and His attributes.  “Our trip to ______________ reminded me of what an awesome Creator God is!”  “When we visited ___________ at the hospital, I knew God was showing compassion to her.”  “God was faithful to allow you to attend a Christian school again this year.”  “I saw God’s generosity as we ate our meals every day of the year.”

         Moms, our children will learn from our examples.  As we turn the focus away from what we did, where we went, what made us happy, we will draw our children into what is really worth reviewing.  This review will lead to praise.  Psalm 126:3 says, "The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy."  Reflecting on 2011 will certainly lead us to praise the Lord.  The review of 2011 will lead to joy!!
Image found here: pin/136796907400973024

           My prayer will be for you reader, to so enjoy reflecting on who God is and what He did in 2011 that you joyfully anticipate all that He has in store for you in 2012!  God's blessings to each of you!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Happy Reading to You

I love the morning sun. It shines down on the deck outside my bedroom door signaling the start of a new day. It’s so refreshing and calming. The start of a new day, whether yesterday was a good day or a bad one, today is a new day. I don’t get to choose whether the sun shines down on the back deck or if there is rain but I do get to choose if my attitude is one that is like the sun or like the rain. So…what will it be for this new day? What will it be for this New Year?

“Remember a mind that feeds only on itself soon is undernourished, becoming weak and incapable of creative progressive thought.” David J Schwartz, Ph.D “The Magic of Thinking Big”

“…be made new in the attitude of your mind.” Ephesians 4:23

Is my mind undernourished and weak? What does the attitude of my mind look like? The New Year is a time for evaluation and New Years resolutions. This year I want to encourage you mothers to really evaluate your mind. We often will make New Years resolutions to lose weight, be more consistent in our exercise or do better financially but this year I think a challenge for the mind is in order.

Reading…. something many are happy to leave behind when they graduate. But why? There is so much a person can get out of a book. You can take the experience of someone else, apply it to your own life and miss out on some hard lessons. You can use someone else’s experience to improve as a wife, as a mother or a friend. You can learn the history of your country. You can travel to another country in your mind. It expands your imagination, your capacity for thought and creativity. It expands your vocabulary and improves your conversations.

Take the time to think of some areas that you would like to see some improvement in this year. If you are not a big reader think of a couple of areas that you would like to read up on, a parenting book, a marriage book or a spiritual book. If you didn’t read a single book this last year and you read 3 books over the next year, you just exercised your mind and that’s 300% more than what you read the year before (my engineering husband said that this number isn’t technically correct…something about not being able to quantify an increase from zero…blah blah blah, maybe you other mathematicians will understand that too, but for us simpletons this works, right?). I once heard that if you read 15 minutes a day for 1 month you can finish an average size book. That doesn’t seem so bad does it?

I am encouraging reading for 2 reasons: one, because if you pick the right books they are such a benefit to your own mind and heart and two, because it is so good for your kids to see you reading. In the culture we live in there is such a focus on televisions, movies and video games…. People are loosing their ability to think and to lead. As a parent it is our responsibility to train our children up, to teach them and to lead them. How can we do that if we don’t know how?

We spend 4 years, often longer, getting an education and learning how to do a job. How much time do we spend learning to be a mother, a wife, or a child of God? The most important jobs we will ever have…and the majority of people just “wing” them. This year make a decision not to “wing” it, educate yourself; it is worth it for you and your family.

I asked Maggie, our fellow blogger, to share with us a little of how her new found love of reading has come about:

"When God lead me to start home schooling my boys, I was naturally a little nervous. Millions of questions and concerns went thru my head but the biggest feeling I experienced was that I felt I was missing something. I began to ask God what the source of my insecurity was and to help me. Courtney recommended a book that I felt answered my question. “A Thomas Jefferson Education” got me excited about continuing my own education by reading different classics. At first I was doing it for the sake of my children and their education. After finishing one book however, my eyes were opened and I began to see how vital reading was for myself. This was the missing link. I didn’t feel adequate to educate my children because I wasn’t educating and growing myself. Reading the Bible, yes, but these books added a depth I had not expected. They are stories with usually very high morals, filled with examples of how people deal with hard situations and consequences that follow. They encourage me, force me to take a stand, to think and drive me on when I’m faced with hardships. Most importantly, they expand my ability to connect with God because they keep me focused on things of greater value than my daily grind sometimes. Because these classics only deal with issues of great substance and inspire greatness, they are a breath of freshness in our current culture. I found myself growing immensely and loving education for the first time ever, for it’s own sake and not for a grade or even for my children. I know they will benefit naturally from the overflow."

Here are some suggestions for those of you have no idea where to start:

Parenting: Personality Plus for Parents by Florence Littauer
Making Children Mind Without loosing yours by Kevin Leman
Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Tedd Tripp
Boundaries with Kids by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend

Spiritual: Becoming a Woman Who Listens to God by Sharon Jaynes
Humility by C.J Mahaney
Loving God with All Your Mind by Elizabeth George
The Shelter of God’s Promises by Shiela Walsh

Marriage: Love and Respect by Emerson Eggerichs
The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman
Becoming the Women of His Dreams by Sharon Jaynes

People Skills: How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
Wooden by John Wooden
Becoming a Person of Influence by John Maxwell
Balcony People by Joyce Landorf Heatherley

Classics: A great classic to start with is Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

Also here is a great blog full of great tips for raising readers:

Happy reading to you!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

One Step at a Time

With Christmas behind us and the New Year approaching, it's time for those New's Years resolutions to be made. Dropping five pounds maybe...being more consistent with friends...being a better disciplinarian with our kids...

I'm reminded of a trip I took with my kids two years ago when Cooper was only 3 years old and Griffin was barely 2. Rob and I were still in Colorado and he decided to take a couple weeks to go hunting with my brother-in-law from Michigan, so I had a choice. I could stay home with both boys mostly by myself or travel to MI with them to spend that time with my parents, 3 siblings and all the cousins. It didn't seem like a very hard decision (espcially seeing as Griffin was still flying for free). But it was. I would have to drive the hour and a half up to the Denver airport, park in the $5 parking lot, grab a shuttle with a stroller and all the luggage and then spend the rest of the day juggling both kids through the airport and plane by myself. I'll tell you what, I had to think long and hard about this. We had flown many times before with our kids, but never had I done it without Rob (who is extremely on top of things when we're traveling). I tend to be the flightly one (no pun intended), so I was a little aprehensive before finally committing to do it.

The night before, I was very nervous. Very. But I kept telling myself that if I broke the day up into chunks of time rather than looking at the big picture, it was no big deal. I knew I could drive the hour and a half up to Denver if that was all I was to do. So I did it. I pretended like once we were there, I was done. We sang the whole way. I talked to my boys. I didn't let my mind even think for a second what it was going to be like once I parked.

And then I parked.

I knew I could get my stroller out--we do it everyday, don't we moms? I got it out. I knew I could put Griffin in it. I did (even as one shuttle bus left the parking lot). Oh well, we'll catch the next one. I knew I could stuff the bottom full and get my one piece of luggage out of the car. So, I did. And so it went. I got Cooper out of the car, locked it up and told him to hold onto the suitcase until we got to the shuttle stop. He did. At the shuttle stop a bus pulled up within minutes and a very nice driver helped me to get Griffin in first and pulled my very heavy piece of luggage onto the bus. We were in!

The boys loved the ride on the bus and even though my heart was racing I was relieved to be this far and to know that we were not alone--God was there with us every little step of the way.

Once the nice driver helped us up onto the curb, we checked the bag and from there it was just a matter of going through security and getting on the plane (which all went very smoothly as well). God heard my (and other's) prayers and we were flying safely home.

There are so many times that when we look at the big picture, life can seem a bit overwhelming. How do we get from point A to point B as smoothly as possible. But through this trip two years ago I learned that with prayer and taking things one step at a time, anything is possible if the peace of God is with you. He will get us there if we trust Him.

I worry too much about the day after tomorrow. But I think if I were to focus on the moment and just accomplishing one thing at a time before moving ahead in my mind, I would be way less anxious in general.

So, as you are setting a goal this year, don't let it overwhelm you to the point of not following through. Give yourself the grace that God gives you, pray through it, sing through it, don't get ahead of yourself and leave tomorrow to God. Take it one step at a time.

We praise you for new beginnings. Thank you for the grace you've given us so many times and the faithfulness you have promised. I ask that you go ahead of us now and prepare a way for us and that we would let you take care of all the details of our everyday. We love you, Lord and praise you for another New Year.

In Jesus' Name,

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

His Secrets

I remember the moment my love for Him was settled. It was just before dark and the wipers of my car could barely keep up with the torrential downpour. No matter though, my eyes were so blinded by tears, I couldn’t see more than a few feet in front of me. I pulled off to the side of the road and let my heart cry out. I sat and sobbed, begged and pleaded. “God, don’t let them take my baby.” For 14 months, we had been parenting our sweet angel-boy, with the hope to soon finalize his adoption. Our years of infertility and heartache had become a distant memory, replaced by first steps and slobbery kisses. We had loved this little one fiercely and he was now the light of our lives. And here I sat, realizing that in less than 24 hours, we may no longer be a family. I felt the familiar lump of disappointment welling up within. I wanted to scream at the injustice; cry out to the God who had promised to never leave nor forsake me. I remember laying my head on the steering wheel, wondering what to even do next, and for a few moments, it seemed as though my world just stopped. I had come to a crossroads in my faith and a battle was raging in my heart. Yet there, in the midst of desperation and despair, the Holy Spirit began to fill me and help my unbelief. He began to remind me of His unfailing love for me, for my husband, and for our son. And through doubt, and fear, I began to speak His truths aloud. “God, you alone are the giver of life. You are good. You are holy. I am your child. I chose to serve you many years ago and my circumstances will not determine whether or not I remain in You. I surrender my all to You.” In that moment, it was settled. My soul was quieted. I would serve my God, come rain or shine. I would serve Him if He allowed our baby to go or to stay. I would CHOOSE Jesus. I had heard before of “the peace that passes all understanding” and in that instant, I knew it.

I Corinthians 2:10-13 tells us that the Holy Spirit will reveal the very secrets of God to us as we choose to live in obedience to Him. To think, I can KNOW the secrets of the God of the universe! I can rest in the certainty of Him when nothing else is certain! Lysa TerKeurst, president of Proverbs 31 Ministries says, “With God’s amazing love settled in our heart, we have his power to keep our faith steady and to experience lasting hope and joy independent of our situation.” I would not trade that hope, that joy, that faith, that peace… His secrets, for anything!

That rainy evening over five years ago, my love for Him was settled. Soon after, we finalized the adoption of our son. I pray that you, too, may allow every experience to bring you right to the foot of the cross. Choose you, this day, whom you will serve.

Cheree Moore

Monday, December 26, 2011

Incredibly Full

“…I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10b

Full. I have a full tummy from all of the Christmas festivities and parties. But more than that, I have a full heart as I reflect on all that God has done and is doing in our family. A little over a year ago, we left our comfy nest in Fort Lauderdale to go on a mission. The mission: family. You see, we were very settled in Fort Lauderdale: we had a nice house, incredible friends, a great church, a phenomenal small group bible study, etc. Who could ask for more? Yet, we felt God tugging at our hearts to take what we had learned and apply it to our family. Many in our family have a personal relationship with Jesus, but many of our family members are also lost and in search of something that truly satisfies. We felt God speaking to our hearts through his word and his Holy Spirit, asking us to serve our family. To show them what a family intent on doing things His way looks like.

When we first moved, we were very excited. We had this utopia in mind of enjoying the company of family, having regular date nights, and seeing the lost saved. Well, as you can imagine, there have been many bumps in the road; some that have even tempted me to run back to Fort Lauderdale as quick as my car could take me. Once the going got rough, I was struggling and questioning God. “God, why would you move us up here if you knew they would not be open to our message, if you knew he was going to do that, if we were going to miss our old friends so much, if we were going to lose our house in Fort Lauderdale, if you knew we would have less date nights here than we did there, if you knew Mikey would miss his friends so much, etc.” I was questioning alright!

BUT then a very wise friend of mine told me that sometimes when God moves us, we don’t give him enough time to work things out. The change isn’t quite as we expected, so we bale out. She lovingly, yet firmly told me that I needed to be patient and wait on the Lord. So, I began to wait (although I am not sure how patiently), and I prayed asking God to make things very clear…and He did. The very weekend we visited Fort Lauderdale with the desire to know if we should make it our permanent home again, was the very weekend that God sent a buyer for our house down there. On top of that, we felt like we were visiting…it wasn’t “home” anymore. He was re-confirming very clearly that he had indeed called us to be with family, and that he indeed had a plan that was higher and better than my own.

"My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord. “And my ways are far beyond anything you can imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts are higher than your thoughts. The rain and snow come down from the heavens and stay on the ground to water the earth. They cause the grain to grow, producing seed for the farmer and bread for the hungry. It is the same with my word. I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it.” Isaiah 55:8-11 (NLT)

My husband and I now have peaceful assurance that this is really where we are supposed to be. On top of that, we are now enjoying the company of both family AND friends…something we didn’t have in Fort Lauderdale. God wanted to do more in our lives than we had planned. He wanted to stretch us, mature us, grow us, and then fill us up with Him—knowing that we were doing what he had called us to do. We are also seeing positive changes in the lives of some of our family members, and our relationships with them and their relationship with our kids is growing. Others in our family are still rejecting the Good News and still struggling (and I ask your prayer for them), but I trust that God’s word will penetrate the rocky soil of their hearts, and that one day they too will accept Jesus into their hearts.

In some ways, I felt we were having our own Abraham moment—where God was telling us to get up and go because he was getting ready to do a new thing in our lives. Except with Abraham he was moving him away from family to an unknown place. I was actually moving back to be with family to a place where I grew up, but it was a place I had sworn I would NEVER move back to. It is funny how God works! I know He has a sense of humor, because we were back in a place where we never thought we would be. Yet, he wanted to take this “old place” and make it new for us. The truth is that my husband and I had grown and changed so much since we left our family nest eggs. Moving back was a wonderful opportunity to show them a transformed life…a life surrendered to Christ. And even though they could argue theology and religion with us, they could not argue with the fact that we were different…in a good way. Praise God for that!

I share this recent change of events in my life to encourage you that no matter where you are in life, Christ came so that you can be full. Another translation of the Bible says, “so that we could have life MORE abundantly”. That means wherever you are at now…God wants to do even more. On your best day ever, God wants to do more. On your worst day, you can rejoice that God has more than that in store for you. He has plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a future and a hope (Jeremiah 29:11).

I am so thankful and grateful to say that after about year of struggling and questioning our move, I have incredible peace that this is where we are supposed to be, and God has been so faithful to show me more of himself this Christmas season. As I celebrated Jesus’ birth with friends and family, I saw that God had done a new thing…our kids were enjoying the love of Grandma and Papa, uncles and aunts, cousins, AND friends…all in the same city. He is faithful! I pray that you too will experience more of Him each and every day of this coming New Year. I also pray that you will patiently wait on the Lord so that he can show you the MORE he has in store for you.


Heavenly Father,
Thank you for your faithfulness! Thank you for the comfortable times and the times that stretch our faith. Please help us to experience your joy and peace in all seasons. Help us to wait on you when we start to question where or what you have called us to. Remind us of the truths in your word, and may we truly find that your word never returns empty. You are good, and we love you. Help us experience more of you each and every day of this coming year…and every day of every year after that.
In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Challenge: What has God called you to during this season of your life? Are you trusting and waiting on him to reveal his plan and purpose? If not, pray and ask God to give you peace; then find someone whom you can confide in, and ask them to pray with you as you go through this season of life.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

A Divine Appointment for Me??

Live wisely among those who are not believers, and make the most of every opportunity.  Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone. -Colossians 4:5-6

It seems like the Lord is always using my children to set up divine appointments for me at parks and playgrounds these days. I love it! So much can be learned as you share and take a few minutes to get to know a new friend and ask a little about their life. You glean so much...where they are headed in life, what is their biggest struggle right now, and if they want a new friend or not. We go to a different park each day. Today my mom had me run an unexpected errand, causing us to go to a park we don't typically go to. It's wild because the Lord knew exactly what He was doing as he placed me there at Plantation Woods Park at 10:45 am.

As we jumped out of the car my kids immediately ran up and hopped on a bike not their own. I hurried to catch up and explained to them that we could not use those because they didn't belong to us. As I began to do this, a grandpa named Curtis shared that they could use any of the 7 bikes/scooters he had brought to the park that day. He also handed me a flyer that explained we were living in the last days and some info about prophesy. At first I was taken aback that he handed it to me and walked away. As I walked around the playground I began to read the flyer and eventually made my way over to him. I asked how long he had been doing this "park ministry" and he shared that God had given him a second chance after alcoholism and two crazy car accidents. 

As we began to talk, he told me that he meets families everyday at the park.

After talking to them he writes down their name (and the names of their children too) in a journal (he showed me) and lets the family know he will be praying for them. I was so encouraged as I watched and listened to him. It is contagious as we watch others shine for Christ and learn that we could be doing more in our own "mission field" too!  Divine appointments. Yes Grandpa Curtis, with his little grandson Lucas, was placed at that park to remind me of where I am headed and who I am serving. As I left there I was thinking of how I could acquire some more bikes/scooters ect. to bring to parks with my boys and share the love of Christ with others through a similar ministry.  I was changed because of my encounter with Grandpa Curtis. Many are changed because of their encounter with Christ, whose birth we celebrate soon.

In our home, like most, we have been talking a lot about the story of Christ's birth.  There were many divine appointments placed in the pathway of Mary, Joseph, the Shepherds, the Innkeeper, the Magi ("3" Kings) as they encountered Jesus in the manger so many years ago. They shared their experience with those watching in awe. God hand-picked each of them to play a role in the divine appointment that impacted the world forever. Whether they followed the encouragement of angels, or followed the star in the sky I am sure that there was a time or two they questioned why them and why now. But the Lord had a divine appointment for well as ALL of the people they would pass, tell, share with, and encourage to meet this new baby who'd change the lives of humanity.

Which character in the Christmas Story can you most relate with in this season of your life?
Angels- providing direction for others
Mary-  excited for the next step in ministry knowing it will change your life forever and humbled He has chosen her
Joseph- trusting God's sovereignty even in unforeseen circumstances
Magi- using your gifts to bless the Lord
Shepherds- following steadfastly after the light of Truth
Innkeeper- allowing others to come into your "stable" and find refreshment there

Think of how many people heard the good news about Jesus' birth, by word of mouth, because the characters traveled their road of faith with God.

Many lives followed to see Truth in the manger just because of their faith. Is that how we live our life too? Each day with excitement because we have an amazing story to share. Knowing Jesus is such a wonderful journey with many divine appointments along the way. That is one reason it is so exciting being a Christian. The Lord uses divine appointments in your life to impact many who are hungry for Truth. Allow yourself to be used like Grandpa Curtis to encourage others towards living a life for Christ.  What divine appointment will HE have for you today??

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Best Christmas Gift for Children!

Image found here:

The little drummer boy has always convicted me.  The precious cartoon with the sad little face looking for the perfect Christmas gift for the baby Jesus had me identify with him from the first moment I saw him!

I am just not a shopper.  I lack creativity, time, money, and in so many ways, I am just too practical to shop for a gift.  So when Christmas nears,  I am stuck looking for the perfect gift.  But I know it should be ingenious, inspiring, thought provoking and filled with love.  Inevitably I fall on my face.

However, I want you to know, I have found a perfect gift for ALL PARENTS!!  It is great for the new parents and grandparents. I didn’t invent it, I have been taught this perfect gift.  The first time I heard of this gift came from the teaching of Growing Kids God’s Way by Gary and Anne Marie Ezzo.   They suggested the best gift we can give our children is, “Love your spouse!”

Yep, that’s it!  Simple?  Well, not so much huh?

As the Lord reminded me of this principle about a month ago, I started making a mental note of what I was publically seeing in wives.  Whether in conversations with other wives or in front of their husbands, I watched and listened as to how they were treating their spouses.

Girls, many times I was looking in the mirror seeing my own face and listening to my own voice.  If my children were listening or watching, was I using tones and body language to convey my love and respect for Greg?

We often use the words, “I love you!”  but what do our actions show?  Do we use a kind voice and a sweet tone with our husbands? Is there evidence for the outside world to say, “they really love each other!”

Recently, while reading Lisa Beamers book, Let’s Roll, she lovingly talks of her husband Todd’s family and how strong his parents relationship was.  She also reflected on her dad’s love to her mother.  Lisa said of her father, “One of the best things he did for us was to love Mom.  He showed her respect, asked her opinions and encouraged her pursuits…”

So when is the last time you have talked with your husband about his aspirations and then encouraged him to dream and take the next step.  When is the last time you offered to serve him (without mentioning your personal “to do list”?) Are you praying daily for your husband? Are you building him up in front of your children and his peers?

Ladies, lets make this the sweetest Christmas on record.  Let’s love our husbands.  Lets give him the respect God has asked us to give.  Let’s help our children feel secure and safe with us as their parents.

The obvious gift, should not be overlooked.  Be sure to enjoy the Baby Jesus.  To love Him like you can see Him. Look to Him for the answers of our everyday motherhood.  Ask Him to help us to love our husbands and bring out the best in them. 

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Love Jesus.

Love your husbands.

The Drummer Boy gave all he had, his drum and his song.  We may not have the creativity, time, money, or the interest to produce an amazing gift under the tree.  However, we can give our children, our husband and our Sweet Savior the best gift of all.   Let our gift be love for our husbands and Jesus!

Merry Christmas Girls!!

Mark 12: 30 -31
"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.  The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself."

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

Every Sunday night my family has movie night. This is a tradition we started about 5 years ago. We started it with the hopes that as the kids got older and busier that it would be that night each week where we would make no plans and we would all just be together. We do our best to make it a very special time. We have always tried to limit the amount of television our kids watch and it is a pretty big deal to sit and watch a movie together. We also made it during dinnertime, so the kids get popcorn and m&m’s for dinner. Though, they have been growing bigger as have their appetites, so the popcorn and m&m’s have been supplemented with a fresh veggie and fruit, cheese and crackers or little sandwiches and sometimes we mix it up and do pizza.

This week we decided it would be fun to watch a couple of the classic Christmas cartoons; the first one the kids chose was Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. It is funny watching these old cartoons because they are so different visually from what we watch today on our high definition televisions, but regardless, each year my kids don’t notice the difference and are drawn right into the story.

There were three things that I noticed as I was watching Rudolph. He wasn’t liked or accepted at first, there were other misfits that joined him, and in the end, others accepted and appreciated him. Some of us may be able to relate to Rudolph.

When Rudolph was born his father said that his nose was not acceptable, so for Rudolph’s first year of life his father used mud to hide Rudolph’s nose. His father wanted conformity. One day when the young deer where learning to fly, Rudolph got all excited because the fawn Clarise said he was cute, and oh how he flew. He flew better than all the rest. Because he got so excited, his nose was glowing more than usual and the mud popped right off and there it was for all to see, his bright red glowing nose.

Boy did his friends laugh as did the adult reindeer. Some were so shocked their little claymation eyeballs were spinning. Santa even told Rudolph’s dad that he should be ashamed. Everyone seemed to forget how well Rudolph could fly. All they could do was think of that strange red nose. They would no longer let Rudolph play with them because he was different.

Rudolph ran away and bumped into an elf, Herbie, that had declared his independence because he didn’t like to build toys like all the other elves. He wanted to be a dentist and all the other elves would not accept him. Herbie and Rudolph then decide that they would be “independent together.”

Eventually as Rudolph grew older and realized that he couldn’t run away from his problems he returned to Christmas Town. Herbie also returned, and just in time, because the head elf had a very bad toothache that Herbie was able to fix. After that they gladly accepted Herbie seeing how his gifts and interest, though different, were beneficial.
Then there was a big storm and Santa had to cancel Christmas but Rudolph was there to save the day with his glowing red nose that could shine bright in any storm and lead the way. Right away Rudolph’s dad declares, “I knew that nose would come in useful one day.” Yeah…right he did!

“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Romans 12:2

I keep this verse hung where I can see it everyday to remind me not to conform to the world. It helps me to focus on what is important and reminds me that it is not the world that conforms me but me who has to conform to it. That gives a feeling of power, doesn’t it? As hard as the world may try to conform me, the choice is really up to me.

This time of year I think a lot of people can really identify with Rudolph. Our culture and the consumerism puts the pressure on trying to conform people to their idea of what Christmas is supposed to be about. It is not just the season though; I think we can feel like Rudolph all year round. If you are different from the world in how they think you should manage your finances, raise your kids, do your landscaping, what clothes you wear, how much you weigh or what media you watch or listen to there is pressure to conform.

I have had numerous mothers tell me that they feel pressure from friends, relatives and society to put their kids in preschool the minute they can talk for “socialization.” I wonder what our grandparents would have to say about that. Probably the same thing they would have to say about the immediate gratification that our culture breeds and encourages. The debt that seems like no big deal, the lack of responsibility to pay for what you said you would. I know my grandpa would have a lot to say. He didn’t buy anything he couldn’t pay for in cash. And the pressure that parents feel to ship their children off as soon as possible for “socialization,” he’d think that was crazy too. Moms, dads, brother, sister, cousins, aunts, uncles, friends, church, neighbors, the grocery store….life is socialization unless you are a hermit. And mom, you are a better teacher to your child on how to treat others because you care more.

There are many more things this world tries to conform us to, but these are the two that were heavy on my heart. I know there are a lot of people that do not agree with me and you know, that is fine. But I would ask yourself if you don’t agree because it is what you really know in your heart to be true or because the culture you live in has made it true for you. I also realize there are a lot of mothers who have to work and have no choice but to put there beautiful babies in childcare and this is not to guilt you in anyway. You have to take care of your family.

Now I said there were three things I noticed about Rudolph and the first one was that he wasn’t liked or accepted because he couldn’t conform. Nowadays he probably would be able to just get a surgery and have a normal black nose. But, that wouldn’t work very well for my analogy now would it. But Rudolph did have a choice, he could have kept his nose covered with mud and he chose not to. We could also choose to conform to the patterns of this world so that we didn’t stick out like a bright red nose. But, Christ called us to be bright red noses and along the way there are going to be those who don’t like or accept us because of it.

Rudolph wasn’t happy about not being accepted by the people in Christmas town but he found out there were other misfits. In the body of Christ we are never alone, like Rudolph and Herbie we can be “independent together.” And if it feels like that isn’t true for you, you forgot that your friend is Jesus Christ, and he will never leave you or forsake you. He loves you and is fighting for you.

My last observation from Rudolph was that others later appreciated the misfit’s differences. For us this may not come until the day we reach heaven. But who knows? It may come sooner and maybe, like Rudolph, it will be your biggest critic saying, “ I knew that would come in handy one day.”

Lord, help me to be strong in you, help me to declare my “independence together” with you. I want to be your misfit. If there are areas I struggle with conforming to the patterns of this world, I pray Lord that you would reveal them in my heart. I want to come to you so you can transform me by renewing my mind. I desire to be yours.

Click here to listen to Audience of One

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Joy to the World

Joy to the world the Lord is come,
Let earth prepare her King.
Let every heart prepare Him room
And heaven and nature sing
And heaven and nature sing
And heaven and heaven and nature sing!

As I am writing, I'm still packing. But as you read this, I'll be flying home. I'm praising God for this time of hope, for this season of Advent anticipating His birth and soaking in the festivities that surround it all. I hope you are, too.

As much as I've tried writing about something that relates to all of us moms this week, I am being pulled to the words of Christmas hymns that I love. I hope you will take the time to read the words without music and soak in the glory of the season.

Hark the herald angels sing,
Glory to the newborn King!
Peace on earth and mercy mild
God and sinners reconciled.
Joyful, all ye nations, rise
Join the triumph of the skies.
With angelic hosts proclaim
Christ is born in Bethlehem.
Hark the herald angels sing,
Glory to the newborn King!

If you get a chance, listen to this song by Amy Grant on YouTube. It will bless you.

Oh Holy Night
The stars are brightly shining
It is the night of the dear Savior's birth.

Long lay the world
In sin and error pining
Till he appeared and the soul
Felt it's worth.

A thrill of hope
The weary world rejoices
For yonder breaks a new
And glorious morn!

Fall on your knees!
Oh hear the angel voices.
Oh night, divine
Oh night, when Christ was born.
Oh night, divine!
Oh night, divine!

It's amazing how these words fall on a different time, but the very same world in a condition that hasn't changed at all. To listen and be blessed, go to YouTube, Josh Groben.

Silent night
Holy night
All is calm
All is bright.

Round yon virgin
Mother and child
Holy infant
So tender and mild

Sleep in heavenly peace,
Sleep in heavenly peace.

Cooper was born around Thanksgiving, so every night I'd rock him, I would sing him Silent Night.

I pray that as this season approaches, you will sing to your kids.

If you need a resource beyond CD's or radio, there is a website (though I don't agree with the "x") that has a lot of songs we all know and love (

Have a blessed Christmas season with your family!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

No Matter What

Hello my name is Jodi Nowak and I am Tammy Negron’s sister. She asked me about 3 weeks ago if I would consider writing a blog for this web site. I have to admit that at first I was hesitant about the idea, thinking I was not capable of doing something like this. Why would God want me to share my story with you when I have questioned Him a lot lately regarding this trial? But I told her I would pray about it and let her know. I felt like Moses asking God to use someone else, like my amazingly talented sister who is so beautiful inside and out!! Well here I am writing, listening to God's calling although I still feel so unworthy. Let me start off by introducing you to my family. I am honored to be married to Andrew, a wonderful man of God, for 15 years. We have four beautiful blessings, 3 girls and 1 boy. They are Julianne 13, Kylie 10, Alyssa 8 and AJ (Andrew John) 4. I have the privilege of being home with them every day as God called me to home school 6 years ago. We are busy to say the least but that is not what Tammy asked me to write about today.
What I am going to share with you has to do with my little boy AJ. So to make a long story short I will briefly explain what we have been going through these past handful of months. Back in May I noticed an odd behavior in him, he would just fall over as if he was losing his balance all of a sudden. He never passed out or lost consciousness, he just fell, cried if he hurt himself and went back to whatever activity he was doing. I mentioned it to our pediatrician, who sent us to a neurologist, who sent us for testing. The MRI was normal Praise God, but the 20 minute EEG was not. So we than had another longer EEG done, a 23 hour video one at the hospital. This too came back abnormal and our neurologist wanted us to start him on medicine right away. Her diagnosis was that he was having mini seizures, and could possibly have a grand mal seizure. This as you could imagine was a shock to my husband and I, I couldn't believe the second test came back abnormal. I had prayed and believed that the first one was a mistake and that this second test would come back fine and we could go on with life as normal. After praying and researching on the Internet, the side effects to the medicine were unsettling, so we just didn't have peace about giving it to him. The fact that my husband still hadn’t seen a “falling episode” had made it even harder to agree to it. We both felt torn about what to do and went in the next month to ask more questions and talk with the neurologist. She understood our feelings and ordered another EEG to try to get more information to help us make a decision. This time he had to get the wires put on one Friday afternoon and come home with them until the following Monday. I received a phone call a week and a half later from his neurologist with the results. She said that in comparison to the last EEG this one was showing an increase in abnormal brain spikes, in more parts of the brain. Which raised her concern greatly and said it increased his chance of having grand mal seizures. She highly suggested we start the medicine and said that the last thing she wants is for him to have a seizure in his sleep, aspirate and die. Well I couldn’t speak as I was overcome with tears and hung up the phone feeling so helpless. Questioning the Lord, asking him why? Why does my baby have to go through this, why wasn’t He healing him? Why do I have to make this decision or even deal with this? What did God want from me? To trust Him completely to heal AJ or to use the medicine and heal him that way? I felt so scared, alone, uncertain, wishing for a pillar of fire to show me what to do. My husband and I talked that evening, prayed and did more research. I had a hard time sleeping the next couple of nights as we continued to pray. I believed that God allowed me to see my baby fall for a reason, because otherwise we would have never known all this was going on inside his brain. And although the side effects to the medicine were scary, they were rare and I was more scared to not have him on the medicine and would be devastated if something happened to him. So we started the medicine on Thanksgiving Day and AJ has been doing fine, with no side effects besides being a little more tired than normal. Something we are truly grateful for.
I continue to feel like my faith is constantly being tested through this. There is a song on the radio by Kerrie Roberts that came out last year called “No Matter What”. Well I love that song and remember listening to it and saying that I wanted to live my life like the song says. That no matter what God allows into my life I will trust him. One part of the song says this: “Before a heartache can ever touch my life, it has to go through Your hands, and even though I, keep asking why, I keep asking why. No matter what, I’m gonna love You, no matter what I’m gonna need You, I know that You can find a way to keep me from the pain but if not, if not, I’ll trust you, no matter what, no matter what.” I felt like I failed the test because in my humanness I wondered where God was, questioned His plan for my life and was upset that He was allowing this to happen. But then I was given scripture by many sweet friends who were praying for my family. One in-particular verse was given to me over and over, either sent in e-mails, cards or in a devotion. It is found in Isaiah 43:1-3, which says “Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine. When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.” God wanted me to know that He was with me, holding me; He wasn’t going to let me drown or be consumed. He knows that as humans we feel like he isn’t there, Jesus himself asked while on the cross, God where are you? Why have you forsaken me? That is why He gives us His word with scripture like Isaiah to reassure us that when we are in the midst of a trial He is right there with us. That it is ok to ask why because He understands our hurt, pain and suffering. But He also provides us with hope, that He works all things out for His glory for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). We may never understand the why, but we CAN trust Him that He does have a plan and a purpose that is better than our own. He loves my son more than I do, so much that He sent His only son to suffer and die for all of us. Jesus trusted His father with His life, am I willing to do the same with my life and that of my children? It is not easy to let go and let God, but there was this peace when I finally got to the point of “ok Lord I can’t do this by myself anymore, my baby is yours, please help me to trust in you with all my heart no matter what!” It is something I find myself saying more than once these days because I am still learning, still growing. I am not perfect and never will be; I don’t have this mom thing right and certainly don’t have this being a woman of faith thing right. But I am thankful that the Lord is patient with me, that He is willing to keep picking me up every time I fall. I am still that lump of clay He is working on, forming, putting in the fire to make me a stronger better person that will one day be a beautiful porcelain tea cup. And so are you my friend J So although I am still in the midst of this trial, in the fire so to speak, I know God is with me and will bring my family through. I don’t know what you are going through right now, but God certainly does. I would like to end my story by saying a prayer with you and for you.
Dear Lord,
Thank you for allowing me this opportunity to share my heart and your love with these moms. Thank you for your understanding heart, your grace and unconditional love. Lord you know each and every moms need that is reading this right now. You know her struggles, her fears and her trials. You know her better than anyone else and understand all that she is feeling. You love her kids more than she ever could imagine and your love for her is the same. I pray that you would bring her an overwhelming sense of peace right now. That no matter what is going on in her life that you are with her and will carry her through. Lord nothing comes into her life that you don’t allow, help her to trust you completely, depend on you every moment of every day. Give her the wisdom and strength she needs to be a wife and a mommy and do her ever day tasks. May everything we do and say please and glorify you and forgive us for the times we doubt. Thank you for loving us, for sending your son and for your gift of salvation. We love you.
In Jesus Name I Pray- Amen

God Bless You!! Have a Merry Christmas!!

In His Love,
Jodi Nowak

Here is a link to the song by Kerrie Roberts "No Matter What"

Monday, December 19, 2011

Something Different

“For even the Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Mark 10:45 (NIV)

The other day my husband was talking with a group of his co-workers. The subject: the real meaning of Christmas. My husband asked why we celebrate Christmas, and most were on board that we celebrate Jesus’ birth at Christmas time. But they were baffled by his next question: Why did Jesus have to be born? The room was silent. No one had an answer, and he shared with me later that it broke his heart. So, in his own way, he began to explain the “why” of Christ’s birth.

I remember taking an Everyday Evangelism class at Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale years ago. This class was such a blessing to me because it gave practical ideas and suggestions on how to share the Good News of Jesus in a way that people can understand and relate to. One of the best tools I learned was to draw a picture. Write the words “Us” on the left side and “GOD” on the opposite side of the paper. There is a big gap between “Us” and “God”. Then you draw arrows in the direction of “GOD”, but all these arrows make a descent just before they reach “GOD”. These arrows represent our very best efforts to jump across or bridge the gap between us and God. We help others. We give to the poor. We try to treat everyone kindly. You get the drift. However, we are sinners trying to access a holy, perfect God by our own efforts…so we fall short.

Next, draw a horizontal line from “Us” to “God” (like a bridge) and a vertical line down the middle so that your bridge is the shape of a cross. This cross represents the perfect life of Jesus that bridges that gap between us and God. He is our great mediator, the way for us to access the Father (John 14:6). Jesus does what we can’t do for ourselves: he pays the price for our sin, clothes us with his righteousness, and restores the relationship between us and the Father. Jesus closes the gap.

Someone told me recently that thanks to Facebook, Google, and the power of the internet, she could never run for political office. I chuckled because I know my pre-Christ life, and I was so grateful the internet was not up and running then to take snapshots of it. It is so amazing to me that as a culture we are often quick to acknowledge that our lives are not squeaky clean enough to run for political office because of some stupid thing we did years ago. Yet, many believe they are good enough for heaven, and to live there for eternity with an all-mighty, all-knowing, and all-powerful God. That logic really isn’t rational, but it is popular. I wonder if people feel this way because they don’t know who they are (a sinner) and why Jesus had to be born (our savior).

I loved Joannie’s blog earlier this week and the suggestions she gave to make this Christmas more memorable. I particularly loved her advice about the Jesus party and the limit of 3 gifts (just like Jesus received three gifts from the magi). I believe it is so important for our children to love Christmas—have fun, celebrate, go all out to make memories commemorating Jesus’ birth. Personally, I think Santa is an irrelevant distraction from the true meaning of Christmas. A little boy once told me that Christmas was about Jesus and Santa. Really? The truth is one day he will grow up to know (hopefully) that one, Jesus, means everything and the other guy with the reindeer who comes down the chimney…well, he doesn’t even exist. A fictional Santa gives gifts to children if they are “good”, but the other, Jesus, is the ultimate gift from God because he knew we could never be “good enough” on our own.

So let’s show those in our sphere of influence something different: peace, joy, and hope—all the things only Christ can offer. I would also encourage you to set aside a special time to explain to your little ones (in an age appropriate way) WHY Jesus was born, put less emphasis on a fictional Santa “who is going to give them lots of presents”, and have a very MERRY CHRISTmas!

“The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel—which means, ‘God with us’. Matthew 1:23

Dear Father,

We love you! Thank you for the birth of Jesus, your Son. Thank you that he did what we could not do on our own—live a perfect life and bridge the gap between us and you. Thank you for loving us that much. Help us focus on you this Christmas, to have your joy and peace in our hearts, and to share the miracle of Jesus’ birth with our children, family, and friends. May we put on the attitude of Christ and seek to serve others this Christmas. In Jesus’ name. Amen

Please check out this link to the song "Here With Us" by Joy Williams

Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Church at it's best

“To the weak, I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some.” 1Cor.9:22-23

More and more I’m learning how wonderful the body of Christ is. How the church cares for the weak and provides for the needy. This week I am blogging from the sunny South Florida where we are spending a week with family and friends. There is so much to blog about so I have narrowed it down to the most important observation I made, hoping it will bless you. 

Delray Beach was our home for so many years. Our boys were born here and dear friendships were formed. Tuesday evening, the girls bible study group, I’ve cherished and been part of before we moved, had a cookie exchange I was able to attend. How sweet it was to see the women of God that mean so much to me. This is the group that took me into their strong circle of love and support. They took time to get to know me, had patience with me in times of weakness and carried me thru the loss of my mother.  
Our night was sweet. Many of the girls circumstances had changed. Some had moved, had another child, gone thru some hardships with family and had to persevere thru health issues. But as I looked around and tuned into the conversations going on around the room, I could just cry. Life was for them, still all about Jesus.
I saw Fran as a beautiful and loving mother giving attention to her children at bedtime while hosting this party. She was present with them as much as she was with her guests and glowing when her husband spoke and joined us for a moment. I saw Kate in deep conversation with Tracy, discussing purity and sharing insights. A woman who is always ministering to others, witnessing and inviting others to share in the joys of believing God.  There was Franci, a mother of three little girls under the age of six, who recently took in a newborn baby boy to care for thru the foster care program. She still made time to come and even bake some award winning cookies for our night, God’s gift of nurture flowing thru her powerfully. Other women I didn’t know so well were there too, because this core group does what the church should do. They invite others to this place of safety, support, truth and love. Despite their hardships, God is strong in them and the display was magnificent to behold.

Realizing I have now lived in Rising Fawn, Georgia for seven months, it became clear to me right then what God was calling me to do when I get home. He is asking me to be this group in my circle of people. He is calling me to give the overflow of my experience in this group away to someone who needs it. They are all around us.  Some you see for a season only and then they are gone but God who orchestrates things so beautifully knows who we need and who needs us. If He dwells in you, he wants to use you.  Even during this short trip, I met a lady in my old gym that is terribly lonely and feels forgotten.  A close relative is really struggling with depression during this Christmas season and another friend just needs to hear that what she is doing is noticed and matters. It’s sometimes very tiny details but they mean so much to those in need.

Make this Christmas season, all about relationships. Let’s ask ourselves how we can give God to people around us. How can we be the source of eternal salvation to someone by displaying Christ? And should you be the one struggling, ask God for a group like that for yourself. I wouldn’t be able to give it unless it was given to me thru this group for a season. We need each other so much. Look around, perhaps they are already around you but you have to make an effort, receive them and sometimes humble yourself.
“You have to admit your need for love to be able to receive it” (Jack Frost, “From slavery to sonship”)
More and more I’m learning how wonderful the body of Christ is. How the church carries the weak and provides for the needy. You, my beautiful girls, are doing it right and I’m convinced the Father is well pleased.