When Costco is your Mission Field

We met the sweetest elderly couple in the Costco parking lot. The husband was parked next to our car in his Suburban that had a wheelchair attached to the back. His sweet pudgy wife was trying to direct her granddaughter to help her unload their two huge baskets of goods.

Enter my dear sweet husband, Peter. He has a soft spot in his heart for the weak, disabled and the elderly. Peter has been like this his entire life. When he was a boy in school, the only time he got into trouble was when he defended the underdog and stood up to the bully who was picking on the special kids.

IMG_2030Like a knight in shining armor, my husband came in to help this elderly woman in distress. He unloaded their baskets and carefully stacked everything in the back of their vehicle, speaking blessings over them in the name of Jesus.

The weathered elderly man with a kind face was a disabled veteran exposed to Agent Orange in service to his country and now because of his diabetes is confined to a wheelchair. Peter thanked him for his service to our nation and helped his sweet wife into the car and buckled her seat belt. She gently patted my husband on his chest and thanked him.

Now Peter could have just walked by them and paid no attention to their needs, loaded up our car and drove away. Instead, he took a few minutes out of his day to notice someone in need, and help them.  My husband’s encouragement blessed this sweet couple by taking a moment to see them and lend a helping hand. We spent a few minutes helping them, but it blessed us.

When we slow down and live aware of our surroundings, we will find that God will put people in our path for us to minister to if we are willing. Not only does it bless both us and them, but we fulfill the law when we treat others the way we would want to be treated.shutterstock_445227067Jesus summarized the Torah, the law, with the Golden Rule, found in Matthew 7:12 and Luke 6:31.

“So whatever you wish that others would do to you, also do to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” – Matthew 7:12 English Standard Version (ESV)

“And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.” Luke 6:31 English Standard Version (ESV)

Think how different our world would be if we always lived out the Golden Rule in our daily lives.

Can you think of a time when you have applied the Golden Rule or has someone gone out of their way to minister the Golden Rule to you? I would love to hear how you have applied this principle in your life. Leave me a comment below, and tell me how you have lived this out.

 

 

 

alongside

Life can be so complicated and unpredictable. Today has been one of those days for me. My day started off with three MRIs: one for my brain, one for my neck and one for my back. My dear sweet husband took the morning off from work to hold my hand, comfort me, and pray for me because he knows that I am claustrophobic and that MRIs cause me great anxiety! Today was one of those days when I just needed my husband’s presence. As I went further into the MRI tube, he held my leg, and just knowing he was there brought me tremendous comfort. While sitting in the waiting room before my MRI and filling out my paperwork, I realized that today is February 13, my mom’s birthday. If my mom were still alive today, she would have turned 77!

We think we have to do something, but presence is a powerful action of its own. – Sarah Beckman

I have been thinking a lot about my mom lately. She died a few years ago after she was taken off of life support just days after Christmas. Family relations and emotions were all running high. Many friends called, texted and offered support. Whenever anyone offered to help I would simply ask for prayer. I would say that I was alright when in reality I wasn’t.

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In trying times, people tend to say they are okay and don’t need anything, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth! I will never forget the loving kindness of a friend who offered to stop by the hospital to bring food, and she would not take no for an answer. Not only did she bring me food, but she also took the time to listen to me. We prayed, we sang, and she sat with me as the Lord called my mom home. Her presence at that moment in my life was powerful and it is a gift that I will forever cherish.

How do we walk alongside someone in the midst of trying circumstances?

There’s a unique opportunity to love our neighbor when they experience a time of trial in their life. – Sarah Beckman

We all experience difficult trials in life, and we know people close to us that suffer hardships. How do we love and care for others well in their crisis?  The answer to this question is the purpose of Alongside: A Practical Guide for Loving your Neighbor in their Time of Trial. This must-read book is an invaluable resource for walking alongside those in need.

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This book is filled with questions to consider. It offers practical ways to love people through the storms of life and will help you figure out the best way to respond to the individual’s needs. You will learn to know your place in relationship to the person in need, and what you should do accordingly. It will also give a good understanding of possible needs and how people may be feeling, including general guidelines to consider and questions to help prepare for the journey ahead.

Part 2 of the book is dedicated to taking action. Know when to go, and when to pray. When I went to the hospital to give birth to my son whose heart had stopped beating in my womb, my sweet friends wanted to come to the hospital. While having my friends at the hospital that day was a kind gesture, what I needed most was time to grieve alone with my family. There is a chapter dedicated to respecting the person’s journey and includes information on privacy and dignity, and other chapters offer specific help, including being present, showing love through food, listening well and much more.

Finally, the book concludes with chapters on special circumstances, including: messy situations, when faith isn’t shared, when you’ve been there, when someone is aging, and terminal illness. In the appendix, there are scriptures for loving your neighbor which are divided into categories and a list of websites, books, and other helpful resources like meal coordination and online fundraising.

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For more information visit Sarah Beckman’s website.

A special thank you to The Blog About Network, The Blythe Daniel Agency and publishers for providing a copy of this book for review and one to giveaway.

I have one autographed copy of Alongside: A Practical Guide for Loving your Neighbor in their Time of Trial to give away! 

From now until February 28th, leave a comment below with either a way that you have come alongside someone in need or how someone has blessed you in a difficult time, to be eligible to win. Also, if you enjoyed reading this blog post please share with a friend.

Thanks for stopping by, and I hope you have a fantastic week!

This week’s Linkups:

 

Wisdom for Raising Boys

Recently, I was contacted by a friend about how to establish and nurture a healthy relationship with our boys. Over the years, she has watched the way we have raised our boys and has admired our ability to reach them.

There is no formula for raising boys! I wish I could say, if you do X, Y, and Z, then your kids will turn out perfectly, but that is not the case. Each child comes with their own unique set of abilities, personalities, and temperments. What works for one child may not work for another.

What I do know is that each child is a blessing from the Lord, and He knows our children even better than we do. Pray for your children. Pray for wisdom in reaching their heart, pray for how you may best nurture that child specifically. Pray for your relationship with him, and pray for his relationship with the Lord. One of the greatest joys that I have had as a parent is sharing the love of God with my children, and leading them to Christ.

I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth. – 3 John 1:4 ESV

I once met a woman who remarked how similar my son was to her son. I knew her son, not as a boy, but as a grown man. I have a tremendous amount of respect for this man, and so I asked her what I should do with my son, so he would turn out like her son. I will never forget the response of this wise woman. She said, “Wear your knees out in prayer!” What great advice! It is not only our privilege and a joy to pray for our children, but it is a necessity. We live in a fallen and sinful world, and the enemy wants to destroy our boys. In John 10:10 we learn, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that [you] may have life and have it abundantly.” Praise Jesus! He came that we may have an abundant life!

Raising boys who become men who love the Lord doesn’t happen by accident. Having your son’s heart requires intentional parenting. Making wise choices about what our children are exposed to is also very important – cultivate a love of whatever is noble, true, and right. Expose them to good literature and stories about heroes of the faith. Be mindful of what they see on television, computer screens and video games. Emphasize purity of mind, and thought, and deeds.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. – Philippians 4:8 ESV

I think a popular children’s bible song says it best: O be careful little eyes what you see, be careful little ears what you hear, be careful little hands what you do, be careful little feet where you go and be careful little mouth what you say.

Parenting our boys sometimes requires us to make unpopular or counter-cultural choices that are in their best interest. This is why prayer is so necessary so that we can know what is best for our family, and for each individual child.

Keeping lines of communication open is vitally important. Time spent around the family dining table talking about anything and everything is a great tool for discipleship. We talk to our kids about everything, and we have always encouraged them to communicate honestly with us. As our boys have grown, we have had many important conversations until late at night. I think a huge part of having your child’s heart comes from good communication. I want to make myself available to them, whenever they want to talk.

My friend indicated that she felt like she was missing the mark in reaching her 12-year-old son’s heart. Junior high can be a challenging age! Our once sweet little boys become full of testosterone and start to become men, and they begin to change. Our roles as mom change also,  as they pull away from us. It is our job to continue to love, nurture, and pray for them as they become the men God has created them to be. When boys hit junior high age, it is important for the father to become more involved in leading and disciplining his son.

Boys require hard physical work. It is good for boys to work hard physically, either in playing sports or manual labor of some kind. I always joke that boys are easy: just feed them well, put a ball or a shovel in their hands, and let them go. They need physical work, but they also crave purpose in their lives and should be challenged intellectually. This will look different for each of us, which is why we should pray for wisdom specifically for each child.

There are many good books on parenting. The most important book is The Bible – we must teach them to know and love the Lord and the Word of God.  The Bible is our instruction book for life. In addition to the Bible, listed below are some of the books that I have found helpful in raising my boys.

Created for Work, Practical Insights for Young Men – Bob Schultz

Shepherding a Child’s Heart  -Ted Tripp

The Power of a Praying Parent  -Stormie Omartian

The Ministry of Motherhood and The Mission of Motherhood – Sally Clarkson

Keeping our Children’s Hearts – Steven and Teri Maxwell

Hints on Child Training – H. Clay Trumbull

Bringing Up Boys – Dr. James Dobson

Prayerfully this will encourage my friend, and anyone else struggling to reach the heart of their son. What are some other things that you have found are helpful in raising boys? I would love to hear from you.

 

I Love My New Teapot!

I love my new teapot! It is a beautiful Mckenzie Childs teapot that I have had my eye on for quite some time.

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I don’t just love it for its form or its function. What I love about it is what it represents. If I am using my teapot that means I am at home, safely nestled in my sanctuary away from the crazy world in which we live. It is hard to find a quiet spot anywhere in the world. Read about the World being loud here

A proper cup of tea takes time to make, which means that I am slowing down, which is good for my soul. It refreshes me and brings me joy. Today the boys and I are enjoying our wonderful little cups of tea, enjoying the aroma of a beautifully scented candle, while we work and listen to Mozart. I am busy working on my Bible study, while the boys sit near me working on their school.

I am savoring this moment because I know that it is fleeting….

Psalms 27:11 ESV says, “Teach me your way, O Lord”

It is in these quiet moments in my home teaching my boys, that the Lord is teaching me. Teaching me to slow down, and listen to His voice. Teaching me to love them well.

Tomorrow we will be back in the car fighting traffic to get to the other side of town, and we will rush from thing to thing to thing. But today, we sit here in tranquility and civility and sip our tea.

What recharges you? I would love to hear from you! What do you do to help renew your spirit?

 

Don’t believe the Lies

When we were kids on the playground at school, we used to call each other names. Some were terms of endearment, others were not so nice. I can still hear echoes of voices from my childhood saying, “I am rubber and you are glue. What bounces off of me sticks on you.” As we have grown up, we internalize some of the names we have been called.

What names have been STUCK on you? What do you tell yourself about who you are? Which voices do you listen to?

Did you know that you have a very real enemy who likes to call us names and accuse us? In Revelation 12:10, John says:

“And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, ‘Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God.'”

The enemy tells lies about us and he lies to us. He tells us that we are guilty, unforgiven, not enough. We can either listen to the voice of the accuser, or we can choose to believe we are who the Lord says we are.

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In the book of Ephesians chapter 1, we learn about some of the spiritual blessings that we have in Jesus Christ. He has names for us also, and because we are in Christ we are:

Blessed

Chosen

Predestined 

Adopted by Christ 

Accepted in the beloved 

Redeemed 

Forgiven 

Enlightened 

Given an Inheritance 

Glorified in Christ

Sealed 

Assured 

We have:

Faith in Christ

Wisdom in Him

Hope in Christ

Power in Christ

Ephesians 1 (ESV)

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To the saints who are in Ephesus, and are faithful in Christ Jesus: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Spiritual Blessings in Christ

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace,which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

11 In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, 12 so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. 13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it to the praise of his glory.

Thanksgiving and Prayer

15 For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, 16 I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him,18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might 20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22 And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church,23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.

Aren’t you so glad that we have the voice of truth? And if you are in Christ, then his character qualities are your real identity! Regardless of what names we are called by ourselves or by others, we need to be secure in the knowledge that we have inherent value and worth because we belong to Christ!

 

Learning to Show Grace to Myself

*** UPDATE 2017 ***

I posted this last year on Labor Day weekend. What a difference a year makes! In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, life, as we know it on the Texas Gulf Coast, is far from normal. Yet this post still resonates with me on this Labor Day Weekend, but for different reasons. I still need to show myself some grace, because as much as I would like for things to get back to normal, things are still a little topsy turvy right now, and I need more grace than ever.

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I am my own worst critic and tend to be very hard on myself! What about you?

My type-A personality drives me to accomplish much, and I have a difficult time relaxing. I set up very high expectations for myself and then feel defeated if I don’t live up to my self-imposed “righteous” standards. I put unrealistic expectations on myself and my family. I think my house should always be spotless, and that my kids should always behave and do what I think they should do. I drive myself to perfection, especially when I undertake any outside projects or events. I work myself up into a frenzy and push myself to exhaustion.

I believe it is a biblical concept to strive for excellence in all we do, and I get this from 1 Corinthians 10:31:

“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”

[ctt template=”2″ link=”4cYBr” via=”yes” ]It is a good thing to want to do everything to the glory of God and to strive for excellence.[/ctt]

However, if I am so hard on myself that I feel guilt or shame because I haven’t lived up to my own expectations, then I am only hurting myself.

 

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This week in Bible Study, we discussed our battle with sin and the power that we have as Christians to live a life pleasing to God based on Romans 8. The first thing we read is Romans 8:1.

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

I don’t know why I expect perfection from myself—the only perfect person to ever walk this earth was Jesus. Not only that, but He came here to save me. He came to set me free from the bondage of sin and death, and He doesn’t want me to feel condemnation.

[ctt template=”2″ link=”p5WKw” via=”yes” ]I am beginning to learn to have grace with myself when things don’t go as I have planned.[/ctt] I am human, and I am going to make mistakes.

Romans 3:23, says “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

Most likely, I will continue to disappoint myself and others along the way, but I don’t have to feel condemned. I must choose to believe that I am flawed, but forgiven.

[ctt template=”2″ link=”GSNW_” via=”yes” ]Does anyone else struggle to show themselves grace or am I alone in this battle? [/ctt]

Today, I choose to show myself grace. Instead of driving myself to perfection, I elected to enjoy this Labor Day weekend with my family, and try to catch up on some much-needed rest.

I hope you enjoy a wonderful Labor Day weekend and find rest in God this week!

 

Happy 4th of July!

I love the fanfare of the 4th of July. It evokes memories of watermelon, parades, miniature American flags blowing in the wind, patriotic music and fireworks—lots and lots of fireworks. The older I become, the more important this holiday becomes to me. The 4th of July is not only the celebration of the birth of our country, but it is also a celebration of freedom.

The First Amendment to the Constitution says, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

As an American, this means that I have the freedom to worship my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and I can assemble with fellow believers. I am free to read the Word of God and pray. I am free to tell others about Jesus.

In 2 Corinthians 2:17 (ESV), we learn where true freedom comes from. It doesn’t come from the government or from any person. True freedom comes from Christ, as we see in this verse, “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” True freedom comes when we entrust our lives to Jesus Christ. Through our salvation in Christ, we are free from condemnation, sin, guilt, and shame. We are free to love God and experience the peace of God and His presence.

This 4th of July, enjoy celebrating with friends, family and apple pie, but don’t forget to remember those who have sacrificed their lives to protect our liberties. Most of all, celebrate the freedom that we have through Jesus Christ and his sacrifice because, in Jesus, we have freedom.

Prayer Update for Connor

I broke both of my arms last Spring and was unable to do anything for myself, my family or my home for several weeks. I was a little out of it from the pain medicine and completely forgot to pay Connor’s insurance policy. Connor was attending a school for kids on the Autism spectrum that cost over $4,000 a month. We only paid a portion of the monthly fee because his health insurance paid for the rest of it. Connor was on a Cobra policy and was immediately dropped from the policy when they didn’t receive payment. I was devastated! I began crying out to the Lord for help and praying for wisdom as to what to do with Connor.

It was during this time that we took him to see a Functional Neurologist in Dallas in July 2015. He diagnosed Connor with PANDAS, which, according to the PANDAS network:

“PANDAS (Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcal Infections) occurs when strep triggers a misdirected immune response results in inflammation on a child’s brain. In turn, the child quickly begins to exhibit life-changing symptoms such as OCD, anxiety, tics, personality changes, a decline in math and handwriting abilities, sensory sensitivities, restrictive eating, and more. PANDAS Network estimates that PANDAS/PANS affects as many as 1 in 200 children.”

Connor was also diagnosed with Autoimmune Encephalitis. The Autoimmune Encephalitis Alliance defines it as  “a rare and serious condition in which the immune system attacks the brain, resulting in impaired brain function.”

The part brain of Connor’s brain that was affected is the part that controls his motor function. His gross motor, fine motor, speech, and language were all affected. We also learned that Connor had about nine different eye conditions. He couldn’t focus, his eyes weren’t equally yoked, and he couldn’t visually track just to name a few problems.

The most heartbreaking part of all of this is that he had been living with all of this for 15 years! He did not get diagnosed until the age of 16. After years of going to doctor after doctor, Connor was misdiagnosed with PDD-NOS, an Autism spectrum disorder. We are so thankful for the brilliant doctor who finally correctly diagnosed Connor, and we began treatment shortly thereafter.

Connor began weekly IVIG treatments. According to Medscape, “Immune globulin products from human plasma were first used in 1952 to treat immune deficiency. Intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG) contains the pooled immunoglobulin G (IgG) immunoglobulins from the plasma of approximately a thousand or more blood donors. Initially, immune globulin products were administered by intramuscular injection.”

IVIG is a miraculous drug! Connor received weekly home infusions, and we started to notice a difference in Connor almost immediately. IVIG is a very expensive drug, to the tune of almost $6,000 a month and it is not covered by insurance. For Connor’s condition, it is considered to be an experimental treatment.

After six months of treatment, Connor had his last treatment on Mother’s Day 2016. He has to be off the medicine for 8 weeks before he can be re-tested to see if the antibody is still present in his brain. In the interim, Connor is in Speech Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, Vision Therapy, swimming and golf lessons.

Connor is an entirely different person then he was a year ago. We are so thankful for the accurate diagnosis and treatment that he has received. Please continue to pray for our sweet little man and that Connor’s brain would be completely healed. To God be the glory!

“Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us!” -Ephesians 3:20