Wednesday, September 2, 2015

"Seasons of Life"

Tonight I'll begin teaching ladies' Bible class after taking the summer off. This new semester will be called "Seasons of Life".  There are many different age groups in the class, from mid-20's to 80's, so these lessons will be geared to learn from each of these "seasons".

It's fitting that this new class corresponds with the beginning of my very favorite time of year: September, October, November, and December.  I love this season!

The scripture basis for the class will be this:

 "Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God." Titus 2:3-5

There was a time when I was one of the youngest women in the class.  Not so anymore!  Now I'm middle-aged, so am teaching the younger ones, but also still learning from the older ones.  This passage is so good.  Women learn from one another and that's what I want this new class to be about - sharing and learning from each other.

This new season of life I'm in, with two children gone and two still at home is weird.  It's great to be able to have the youngest two and spend time just with them, but the house is quieter, less messy (Even though the youngest two say they are the messiest and it will be messy!  Truthfully, I'm the messiest of them all!), and just different.  Sitting at our huge dining table that seats 10 is just different with four.  It's weird, but we will get used to it soon.

With each season of life, we have different ways that we can serve God.  That will be another aspect of ladies' class this semester.  When all of our children were young, I felt like I wasn't doing anything for others because I didn't have the time.  Now that it's less busy, I can make meals for others, visit others, and do more "work" for the Lord.  But I truly was working for Him when the kids were little.  They were my work!  And the two here at home now are still my work.  Too many stop this work as the last one or two are left at home.  The youngest can be neglected and spoiled in a way, left to do for himself/herself.  I want to make sure that doesn't happen with ours.  He'll need just as much guidance and supervision as the others have had - maybe more.

So what season of life are you in? Which has been your favorite?  Which has been your least favorite?  Reflect on those questions today.  Take the time to share with someone else about your season of life.  It's quite possible that something you have gone through and share will be something they needed to hear.  

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Another One Leaves the Nest....

When our oldest three were young, we would go to Walmart a lot, it seemed (now I avoid it and drive extra miles and spend a little more, just to go to Target or Sams instead!).  I usually had two shopping carts for groceries and the three kids until they were older or I didn't need as much, then I would let them walk in front of or behind me.  I would tell them they were like little ducks in a row and I was the momma duck, keeping them in line.  Oh, those were the days! I miss those days.  We call them "B.T." because it was before the youngest, Tyler, was born.  I would love to go back to those days, but have Tyler little then, too!  I absolutely loved those days!

Now we have great days, too, but they are different. This summer was a different summer because our daughter was gone the majority of it, but it was nice because our oldest son wasn't gone much at all and neither were the younger two.  Since the oldest was gone a lot, though, we really didn't have a lot of "whole family" times. When we did have it, we made the most of it.  This past weekend we requested no cell phones, no computers, no plans - just family time.  We cooked, ate good meals together, played games, watched a few movies....just spent time together before the oldest two packed up and moved to college.

Tears came during the lead up to the morning they left.  Thankfully our whole family was able to go, unexpectedly.  The middle son ended up needing an appointment in Oklahoma City and the only day open was moving day, unless we wanted to wait until the end of September.  Since five of us were going, the youngest thought he needed to go, too.  Some people would think it was bad to get him out of school for that.  We don't.  Family time is special to us, even more important than other important things, at times.  We wouldn't make a habit of it, but for that day, it was worth it.

My husband wrote about our oldest boy leaving for college (posted below).  For two years it's been just the three boys here together with us.  It's hard with him gone.  The youngest one misses him terribly.  I've been okay, surprisingly.  I think it's because I know that it's best for Zachary. He's 19. He's been "grown up" for several years.  When he writes that he's going with friends up there already, I am thankful.  He met some of them on his trip to Vienna and it was time for him to be away from home.  In school, he had lots of friends, but he spent his time, for the most part, with his brothers and all of us. He will enjoy making life-long friends at college.  I'm excited for him, even though seeing his empty room across from ours is tough.

Zachary,
We love you very, very much. We are proud of who you are, what you stand for, who you live for, and most of all, for allowing God to direct your path as you follow the example of Jesus.  We look forward to seeing what He has in store for your life!
Mom and Dad

***

Written by Joe...
Two years ago I wrote of our daughter, Lauren, going off to college and how we would miss her and that we would be praying for her. Now she is a junior, and I still miss her. I still pray for her daily and often throughout the day. But now there is a new twist to life, my oldest son, Zachary, left home yesterday for college.

Dads think differently of their boys than they do their girls. They always have and always will. Our daughters are the ones we want to protect and we want to be their heroes. I believe we try to make our sons an extension of us. We don't want them to do the same as we did, but we want them to do better. We want them to treat people better than we did. We want them to succeed in areas we didn't. So many of us get caught up in trying to live our lives through them, that it sometimes it causes a strain in our relationships.

I can honestly say that God blessed me with three very special sons, and I will miss all of them when they leave, I do hope it will get easier to let them go, but I don't think it will.

As far as Zachary is concerned, he passed me years ago in the character department. He's so mature. We have felt like we were raising an adult for the past several years. He has been a Christian example to me for the past few years. Watching him grow as a Christian and not give in to peer pressure has not only been an example to others, but also an encouragement to me. I know he will do well, and I know God has great plans for him. Men have a hard time talking to each other about how we really feel. And it's hard for me to express the love and pride I have for Zachary.

When I come home from work or from speaking about the Tipton Children's Home somewhere, or preaching, the first thing I notice is the cars in the driveway. (From Lori: It looks like a used car lot. A very USED car lot!) Coming home at noon today and not seeing Zachary or Lauren's car in the driveway reminded me that life is short and our the time with our kids is even shorter.

Let me encourage all of you who are reading this to spend time with your children, talk to them, love them.

I will pray for each of my kids every day, but I will say a special prayer for Lauren and Zachary. It's so much easier when they're at home. I do hope it gets easier....I miss them....

Friday, August 21, 2015

WHAT YOU LOOK FOR IS WHAT YOU'LL SEE!

I heard a really sad story this week.  Someone needed a "positive, feel good" story about someone, but the people who could have told one, couldn't think of one. Their stories weren't positive, only negative.  It made me think about my own live and my own attitudes.  And here is what I got to thinking: If you look for good, you'll see good. If you look for bad, you'll see bad.  What you look for is what you'll see.

It sounds simple, and it is simple, but the hard part is learning to look for the good....training your mind and heart to look for good....expecting to see good.

I don't know about you, but I tend to be optimistic.  And even though I 'tend' to be that way, too often I'm looking for the bad instead of the good.  It's something I need to work on and work on it daily.  Maybe you do, too.

So for today, I'm going to look for the good. I'm going to expect the good.  I see good, often, but I want to look for the good in everything.  I want to be optimistic. I want to be positive.  I want to rid my mind and heart of the negative.  How about you?  Want to join me?

A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. Matthew 12:35

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

You Have a Choice!

This post is from our "Parents After God's Own Heart" Facebook page:

Parents After God's Own Heart, are you concerned with what you allow into your hearts and in your children's hearts? The world we live in bombards us with negativity, immorality, and sin, but we can control a lot of that if we make wise choices about things we allow in our lives.

In the entertainment world, we have a choice. We can say yes to the world and the things in and of the world, or we can say no. We can watch, see, read, listen to filth or we can choose not to do so.
There's a movie coming out that we, personally, have no knowledge about, but because of some memes going around FB, we asked about it. The movie is "Straight Outta Compton". A friend of ours, who also is a youth minister and striving to direct the minds and hearts of kids along with parents, posted this about the movie: "Straight Outta Compton: 300 F bombs, 170 S words, and 50 N words (via Plugged In online, not from my own experience)."  One of his family members even made the truthful comment:  Straight Outta Potty Mouth"!  Sad, but true.

When you see everything that movie has in it from the pluggin.com website, how does that make you feel about the movie? If you had seen it, would you have sat there counting each of them? No. Would you have even noticed that many? Chances are, no....unless you're not used to watching movies like that and then they would smack you in the face. But, if you weren't used to watching movies with that type of language, maybe...hopefully....you would have checked it out in advance on sites like Plugged In.

Take the time to find out what your kids are watching. Their minds are being filled with all kinds of things. It needs to be filled with good things, not filth. But as in all things, you have to be the example for them. You have to make wise choices, as well.

Why would you deliberately choose to allow your own mind and your children's minds to be filled with filth? Not just this movie, but in all things? Some things you just hear. You can't totally get away from the world unless you live in seclusion and hibernation. Your kids are hearing it at school, anyway. BUT, where you CAN prevent it, please do. Only YOU can make a difference for you and your family. Make the choice to say no to the world. Make the choice to raise your children differently than what the world says is okay. Raise your children according to God's Word.

A common question went around many years ago, "What Would Jesus Do?" An even better question is, "What DID Jesus do?" We know what He did by reading the Bible. Would Jesus listen to, watch, see, read, hear what you are watching, seeing, listening to and doing? He may have been around things, but it wasn't for His pleasure. It was to serve and to do good and to love others. It wasn't to fill His mind with filth. Let's imitate Him.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Be Interested, Not Interesting

Last Monday, the day before school started, we went with the Tipton Children's Home family to a water park to celebrate the last day of summer vacation.  That evening my husband did a "Back to School" devotional and one of the things he said has really stuck with me.  "Be interested, not interesting."  In other words, care about learning more about someone else than you do about telling about yourself.

This past weekend, my husband and oldest son were gone to Colorado.  Our daughter was out of town visiting her grandparents.  I took the youngest two to a Texas Rangers' baseball game, then they played golf.  Since they were a twosome, they paired them up with two other guys who were playing as singles.  During the course of that 18 holes, we learned so much about those two guys.  One of them was a retired Navy man who had spent his time on submarines.  The submarines were two football fields long, five stories high, and he was out three months at a time.  The other guy's son was drafted by the Pittsburg Steelers and played college football at Missouri.  He knew an acquaintance of ours and his son even roomed with that guy's son and played with him at college.

I was just thinking about how much we learned about those two guys, and while they probably asked my boys questions that I didn't hear, for myself, I was just interested in their stories instead of worrying about telling my own.  It's easy to get caught up in talking about "us", but it is best to listen to others tell about themselves, isn't it?  My mom and I used to laugh that when we went to the mall, we always heard at least one person's "life story".  I guess we just took the time to listen and the person needed to tell it!

We would all do well to listen more and talk less. I know for certain that I would. In fact, I'm striving to do so, and that's hard to do for a "talker" like me!  I don't care always about talking about myself, but I just like to talk!  I'm just being careful to channel the talking gene into learning more about others and being more careful to make sure it's not about me all of the time.

When listening to others, we will find out about their needs.  We will be better equipped to serve them and help them.  We will learn about their struggles, their pain, their joys, and their interests.  We may become friends.  We may be able to share the gospel with them.  In doing so, we will be interested, not interesting.

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. Philippians 2:3-4
 
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