CHILDREN’S IMPRESSIONS

Years ago I read a book by Anne Ortlund entitled Children Are Wet Cement. The premise of the book was that children, ours and others, are very moldable while they are young. They will easily conform to what they see and hear especially if they love and respect the person that they are watching. I am over 65, my mother has been in heaven for 18 years and her words and teachings still control me at times. When I do something too quickly without thinking I can hear Mama saying “use your head for something besides a hat rack.” This morning I had to iron a shirt for Larry to wear and one for myself and I remembered how my mother taught me that it was a waste of electricity to iron only 1 shirt at a time. You should do the entire week’s ironing all at once. I still try to do that but sometimes the schedule doesn’t work that way!

There were others in my life that made impressions on me. My pastor and his wife, Rev. and Mrs. Froelich gave me a love and appreciation for classical music by taking me with them to hear the Orlando Symphony play. There was a wonderful couple in our church who had me over to spend the night several times. The Grahams were gracious hosts with a lovely home and beautiful gardens that they willingly shared with a little girl who loved beautiful things. Mrs. Graham also dressed beautifully and was one of my first examples that you were never too old to look beautiful and ladylike. The Fullertons were a retired pastor and wife that were in our church. They were wonderful examples of serving the Lord after retirement. She was a gracious hostess and he inspired and encouraged many young pastors and church leaders.

I could write page after page about people from my youth that either inspired me or disappointed me. Either way, they made an impression and most of them did not know they were teaching me.

Let’s look at ways that we can mold and impress the children and young people that are watching us.

     1.  We cannot impress others with something that we do not do ourselves.

Before we try to mold and shape others we must be doing our best to live that kind of life ourselves. If we want children that are saved, disciplined and serving the Lord we must set the example.

We cannot lead others any farther than we have gone ourselves. A leader must be out front, a step ahead showing others the way to walk. The apostle Paul said in I Corinthians 11:1 Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ. Paul could not have encouraged the believers in Corinth to follow him if he was not attempting to set the pace by being a Christ like example for them.

If you are going to insist that your children memorize scripture and read their Bibles daily, they need to see you doing it on a regular basis. If you want your children to appear at breakfast well groomed with their beds made and their rooms in order then you better make sure that you are doing it first. Don’t make excuses for sitting at the breakfast table in a scruffy robe, with uncombed hair and dirty teeth. When your children say, “Mommy, why isn’t your bed made? You tell us we can’t eat until ours is done!” What will you say that makes sense to them? Most likely nothing unless you have been sick!

Yes, it takes a lot of work to stay a step ahead of those that you lead. Ask any teacher, pastor or CEO. But the rewards are worth it both in the results you see in those that are following as well as the growth in your own life.

      2.  Impressions are made daily and in all kinds of situations.

Deuteronomy 6: 6-8 says And these words which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way,and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.

God commands us to teach our children at all times. When we sit, walk, lie down, and get up. In other words we are teaching and making impressions on others when we talk, work, and relax. Do our actions match our words? Some of your most impressive teaching can come from how you react to adverse circumstances.

Years ago the Lord taught me a lesson while I was reading the first chapter of James where it says in verse 2-4 My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. We were going through some rough times and I was concerned that our children would grow up despising the ministry because of all the problems and the lack of finances. The Lord showed me that my children’s attitude toward serving the Lord would be a direct reflection of my attitude.

If I responded with joy and faith in God’s working in my life than they would see it as exciting and something to be desired. If I was creative and learned to pray for things that I needed or wanted and showed Ryan and Tiffany how God provided, than they would not be afraid to trust the Lord for His provision.

On the other hand, if I was bitter, whiney, constantly complaining about everything that we lacked because we were in full time ministry I could be sure that my children would have no desire to serve the Lord. So often we are quick to complain to God and others when things are rough but we never praise God when he answers prayers. We don’t even acknowledge him when he gives us something extra that we didn’t even ask for!

Check your actions and your words. Are you constantly fighting your children to get them away from the TV to go play or do some chores? How much time do you spend glued to the TV, Computer or phone? Do the young ladies that you are trying to help grow spiritually whine all the time? Listen to your own speech and attitudes.  Are they just reflecting you? Before you complain that their bedroom is a wreck, check the state of your own room and ask yourself have I ever shown them how to clean a room and keep it that way?

Ladies, I understand that there will be times that in spite of your best efforts our children will be lazy, whiney, and total slobs. They are human beings with a sinful nature. They are immature and must learn. The point is what are they learning from our actions?

       3. Teach your children how to dress and act appropriately for all situations. 

Children should be taught good manners and appropriate dress. I know this is a foreign concept to the world. But the Bible tells us in II Corinthians 5:20 that we are ambassadors for Jesus Christ. When I think of an ambassador I think of someone who knows how to act and dress appropriately to be a good representative of their country in a foreign land. As Christians we are foreigners here on earth representing our country, heaven, and our heavenly father.

Although the concept of good manners seems to be almost obsolete today it is a Biblical concept called the “Golden Rule” which we can read in Matthew 7:12. Good manners is simply putting the comfort of others first or showing simple respect. In one word it is learning to be unselfish.

When you fail to teach your children proper manners and etiquette, you are limiting their sphere of influence. There are still people in this world who will not give you the time of day much less listen to your witness if you do not know how to act and dress properly. You may be thinking, “what do I care I wouldn’t want to be around those snobs anyway.” Don’t those “snobs” deserve to hear about the Gospel of Jesus Christ? As parents we should realize that we don’t know where God may call our children to serve. By teaching them how to act and dress appropriately for every situation we are preparing them for whatever they are called to do. If we don’t teach them, it may not keep them from following the Lord’s will. But the road to preparedness will just be longer and harder because they have so much more to learn.

When my children were young, they would complain to me about being the only kids in church that had to dress up. I told them that when we go to church we are there to worship the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. We would dress up to meet an earthly king or president therefore it is only fitting that we wear our best to go to church. Furthermore, I added that it is easy to learn to be comfortable in jeans and a T shirt but feeling comfortable in a suit or a dress and heels is an art that will make it easier to fit in if God calls you to serve in a place where you are expected to dress up daily.

As Christians we like to quote the scripture from I Samuel 16:7 b for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart. This is good for helping all of us to remember that our inward attitude is more important than our exterior appearance. But we must pay attention to the first part of that sentence also. The only thing that people can see is our exterior. Until they get to know us they do not know what we are thinking. If we distract from our message by dressing in a worldly or inappropriate manner we have just put up barriers to winning them to Christ.

When I was a little girl my mother bought some china egg cups for the express purpose of teaching me how to eat hard boiled eggs in a formal situation. Not an easy task since, at the time, I hated eggs in any form! 🙂 Her reason for doing this was to help me avoid being embarrassed like she once was. When Mama was a young lady, she was invited to a wealthy friend’s home. They were served hard boiled eggs for breakfast in china egg cups. She had no idea how to eat them in a proper manner.

No I have never had eggs served to me that way. But that lesson was just one of many that I received as a child that was a result of my parent’s extensive travels and many experiences. Another thing that my parents did was take me out to eat on a regular basis even when they weren’t making good money—it was just part of the budget. We went to a wide range of restaurants everything from the local diner to places with exotic names and menus. I learned how to act in a cheap hamburger place or an expensive tablecloth and cloth napkin fine dining establishment. When I went to college, I noticed the difference in girls that had never had these experiences and those that had.

I realize that taking several children out to eat at a nice restaurant can cost a fortune. You can somewhat remedy that by having a “Manners Night”. Cook a nice meal, set the table with your best dishes and use silverware for each course (salad fork, dinner fork, dessert fork). Make the table look as pretty and formal as you can. Since it is a special meal have everyone dress up like they were going out to a special restaurant. When it is time to eat, the boys should hold the chairs for the girls, napkins should be placed in the laps, food should be passed appropriately, ect.

If you are unsure what some of the dining etiquette rules are ask someone to teach you or buy a good book and read it. If you will take the time to do this on a regular basis, you may find that not only will your little urchins become more civilized, you all may come to enjoy this special night. It will definitely increase your children’s confidence when confronted with a formal situation. Another added benefit will be that you will not be afraid to take your children out in public. In fact, you may have the joy of a waitress saying to you, “Your children are so good! It’s been a long time since I have seen such well mannered kids!” That’s when you know that all the teaching and practice was worth it. 🙂

     4.  In order to make an impression on someone we must spend time with them.

Children will mimic those that they spend the most time with—parents, teachers, babysitters, or peers. We live in a society that considers it normal for both parents to work and put the children in daycare until they are old enough to go to school. For those of you with young children consider carefully what you are giving up when you drop your baby off at a baby sitter’s house and go to work for 8-10 hours. Are you making enough money to make it worth all the time that you are not there to train your child? God gave us children to train and mold into God fearing adults that would carry on the Christian legacy. How can we do that if we are only with them 4-6 waking hours a day and part of that is spent rushing them through breakfast and into the car so we can get to work?

The children in America are growing up knowing more about video games and sports than they do about everyday life. They need to learn how to clean, cook, shop for groceries, mow a lawn, paint a room, balance a check book and so on. They cannot learn that if you are not there to teach them. It is imperative that we look at our schedules and make sure that our priorities are in the right order. If you have to work less or take your kids out of some extracurricular activities so that they have time to do chores at home, do it! It is far more important for your kids to spend time with Mom and Dad than with their coach and peers. I guarantee that when your children are grown they will remember the times spent with family working together before they remember all the fancy electronic gadgets that you bought them.

When your children (biological and spiritual) grow up they should be able to say with pride “My parents or parent substitute made a great impression on me. I want to be a faithful, Godly parent just like they are.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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WHO GETS THE CREDIT?

Over the last few weeks I have been doing a word study in the Bible on the subject of pride.  So far I have found 60 verses that mention pride.  We often use the word “pride” as a complimentary term such as, “She takes pride in her work”.  In that sense it is a good thing because it means that a person wants to do their best. But, none of these verses indicates that we should feel good about being called proud.  God makes it very clear in His Word that pride is NOT one of the fruits of the spirit.  In fact, many of the fruit listed in Galatians 5:22-23 are the exact opposite of pride such as meekness.  Love and peace are the manifestations of a humble spirit not someone who is filled with pride.

When we look at problems and strife in our life we can often trace it to a root sin of pride.  Proverbs 28:25 tells us, “He that is of a proud heart stirreth up strife.”  Think about this statement.  When someone is determined to be right and is too proud to apologize, it causes all kinds of misery.  Marriages dissolve, churches split, jobs are lost, people are even killed and the proud perpetrator ends up in jail all because of pride.

When our Heavenly Father repeatedly mentions something in the Bible it means He is trying to get our attention.  The saying goes that repetition aids learning.  God is the best teacher and He knows that we need to hear something over and over and over in order for it to sink into our proud hearts and dull brains.  We have been taught in the last few decades that “we are worth it”.  That was an advertising phrase used to get us to buy expensive items.  Unfortunately that has sunk in to our thinking making the average American think that they have rights and privileges to demand that others recognize how special they are. As Christians we should understand that in God’s eyes we are nothing but dirty rotten sinners. (Gal. 6:3; I Jn. 1:8; Isa. 64:6)  It doesn’t matter what level of education we have completed, how much money we have amassed or how noble our family name is.  We have no right to boast except in the fact that we are redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ and God has adopted us as His child.  If we do manage to have some measure of earthly success, it is only because God gave us the talents and strength to accomplish what we needed to do.

Pride can cause us to be angry with God because we somehow think that He cheated us out of our “rights”.  We mistakenly believe that our Heavenly Father promised us that life would be perfect.  We are not supposed to struggle financially, have disappointments, or lose anyone that we love.  Where did we get that idea?!  I vividly remember a time about 25 years ago when I questioned God.  We had a Christian Camp that we had built.  My husband had erected a storage barn back in the woods that he used to store all the things that were given to us as well as building materials that he had scavenged from barns he tore down.  Our old tractor was also parked in that building.  While we went out to dinner with friends the barn caught on fire and everything in it was lost.  It was thousands of dollars worth of materials.  The next morning I was driving out to camp to view the damage crying and praying.  In all my earthly wisdom, I complained to God that we had given up much to serve Him.  We were living by faith and had very little.  In my humble opinion we had been faithful and certainly deserved to be rewarded not punished!  Why would he take these treasures from us?  It was the classic question that I am sure our Heavenly Father has heard thousands of times.  A thought came to my mind which I am sure was God’s voice, “Why not you?  What makes you more special than any other Christian?”.  Oops, the Lord certainly knows how to put me in my place! 🙂

I was operating on the assumption that, if we followed Him, everything would always go my way.  Yet God never promised us that life on this sinful earth would be easy.  Nor did He tell us that once we become a Christian we are better than anyone else.  If by God’s grace He has called us to full time Christian ministry, that still gives us no reason to feel superior to those that are working a secular job and faithfully serving in the church.  Any success we see in whatever ministry we are involved in is only by the grace of God.  He could have brought that success without our help; but, he graciously allows us to be a part of His work and reap the eternal rewards.  When we are praised for doing something in the church, at work or at home, we should thank the Lord that He gave us the ability to do that task and people were blessed.

I have found that the people I most admire are those with a humble, servant attitude.  They seek to help others not caring who gets the credit.  Their reward is not the praise of man.  It is to see those that they try to help making good decisions and going forward to serve the Lord.  They may receive the honor of man and other rewards here on earth.  But the ultimate goal of these humble people is to hear from their Heavenly Father the words, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.”

Let me challenge you to check your motivation.  Why are you doing what you do with the 24 hours that God gives you each day?  Do you quit if no one notices your “hard” work?  Do you get mad when you do not get a thank you?  Do you ALWAYS have to be right?  Is selfish pride keeping you from admitting there could be another opinion or method to accomplish the same goal?  Do you have trouble admitting you could be wrong?  All of these problems point to pride which God in His Holy Word calls sin.

We are all infested with this sin at one time or another.  It is time to ask the Lord to help us see the truth behind our actions and humble ourselves by asking for forgiveness.  We all need to ask the Holy Spirit to fill us daily that we might serve God and others with the right attitude.

It has been said that it would be amazing what could be accomplished if everyone worked like it all depended on them and no one cared who got the credit.  

MY CHILD WOULD NEVER DO THAT!

I was talking to a friend the other day who was struggling with some poor choices that an adult child had made. One of the hardest things she had to deal with was the way other Christians (including her pastor) seemed to think about the situation. It reminded me how often we let pride and assumptions override our love of the brethren.  How many times do we miss the opportunity to share our troubles with a dear friend who might encourage us and lend some perspective because we are afraid they will judge us.

One thing I have learned over the years is that there is no perfect person or perfect family.  There are people in the ministry that try to appear to be perfect.  News flash:  No one but God is perfect!  Even the families that seem to have reared kids that are serving the Lord and doing everything that any parent would want have heartaches and disappointments.

As sisters and brothers in God’s family, we need to remember that our creator made us all different.  We have unique personalities.  Some people just seem to naturally want to serve the Lord and do what is right while others have to take the hard route of experience.  The fact that a young person makes, what seems to us, poor choices does not necessarily reflect bad parenting.  I am NOT saying that their parent was perfect.  Each of us hopes and prays that we will rear children that will desire to serve the Lord and contribute to society.  Unfortunately, we are sinful human beings and only by the grace of God will our children make us proud.  Oops, there is the problem.  We want to be proud of our progeny.

Maybe part of the problem is that we are trying to follow the world’s standards for who and what we should honor.  Sometimes we tend to be like the proverbial jewish mother that wants her children to go into a profession that makes lots of money and is held in high esteem by the general public.  You know, things like being a doctor, lawyer, successful business owner or community leader.  We may have children that are called to a profession like that.  But not all children are gifted by God to be in a profession.  As Christians we should be thrilled if our children are called to full time Christian ministry even if it is in some poor area where they will never be honored by others and most likely will not ever make enough to live on by the world’s standards. Our goal should be to rear children that honor the Lord and will faithfully serve Him in whatever capacity He calls them.  That at the end of their lives they might say with Paul “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.”  II Timothy 4:7

When our friends are struggling with choices that their children have made, it is not up to us to judge their parenting skills.  Our job as Christian brothers and sisters is to pray for and encourage them.  We don’t always see the whole picture and we certainly don’t know what God is doing in their lives to mold them to be what He wants them to be.  In fact, sometimes the choices that our children make can be opportunities for us to understand other parent’s struggles when their offspring do not meet their expectations.

It is so easy for us to watch a family from the outside and say to ourselves, “they should have done it this way.  If that were my child I would discipline them better or train them to do …….”.  Sometimes maturity does bring certain insights because of our life experience; but, we can’t possibly know all about another family’s personalities, gifts and situations.  I suggest that we give others the same mercy and grace that we want to receive when our family is struggling.  Let’s devote our time to praying for our friends and their children and asking God how we can encourage others in the struggles of life.

GOD IS GOOD

Two 1/2 weeks ago my husband had a heart attack. His heart had to be shocked 6 times before they got him into the operating room to put a stent in his artery. We found out that only 8% of men who have this kind of heart attack survive. God was good to us in that He put my husband was in that 8%.  Many people reacted to our numerous posts about his recovery with the phrase “God is good”.  In fact, I have seen this phrase used repeatedly when someone reacts to an answer to prayer that is in their favor.

What if I had been planning a funeral last week instead of bringing my husband home from the hospital?  Would God still be good?  Absolutely!  We sometimes fall into the trap of thinking that God is only good when he gives us what we want.  Yes, it’s wonderful when we see God work a miracle and can clearly point it out to others.  But our Creator is not Santa Claus!  Because he made us and knows all about the plan for our life He also knows what is best for us even when it hurts and seems totally wrong to our limited way of thinking.

God is our Heavenly Father and just like an earthly father sometimes disappoints us or allows us to be hurt by reaping the consequences of our poor choices.  A child does not understand why Daddy won’t give them everything that they want; but, a good father knows that fulfilling every desire that a child has will only result in a weak, spoiled, lazy adult that no one wants to be around.  The same is true for the children of the King of Kings.  God sees the overall plan and he knows that we must suffer in order to grow stronger.  He understands that it is good to wait for what we desire so that we will learn patience and appreciate it more when the answer comes.  God also allows hurts and disappointments in our lives so that we can better sympathize with and pray for others that go through similar problems.

Our Heavenly father truly is good because He desires the best for us not a weak imitation that will not produce beautiful fruit in the end. I praise the Lord that I still have my husband here on the earth; but, I pray that I would still be able to praise Him if it had been in God’s plan to take Larry home to Heaven on July 6.  God is always good even when we cannot see the ultimate plan that He has for us.

LET PEACE RULE

I have been working on memorizing Colossians 3:12-17. Every morning during my devotions I have read and repeated these verses. The other day I was going over these verses for probably the 100th time and one word in verse 15 jumped out at me. That word was “let”. I am sure that the Lord spoke to me and reminded me that in order to have His peace we had to LET him work.

We can beg and plead with God to give us peace; but, when we insist on rerunning in our minds all the possibilities of things that could go wrong and all the things that have gone wrong in the past we will not have peace.  No where in scripture does God promise to zap us with peace just because we asked for it.  In fact Psalm 34:14 and I Peter 3:11 tell us that we are to “seek peace and pursue it.”  Doesn’t that sound like we are responsible for working toward peace of mind?

It is so easy to ask God to give us peace of mind then finish praying and go right back to worrying about all the little details that we can’t seem to control.  Lately I have been convicted through my reading that worry is a sin and just like any sin we must learn to confess it and ask the Lord to help us overcome this sin.  It is up to us to control where our thoughts go.  The Bible tells us that we are the sum total of what we concentrate on (Proverbs 23:7).  Our Heavenly Father even gives us a list of what we should allow our minds to dwell on in Philippians 4:8.  When we start to panic or worry we should ask ourselves, “Is this true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, of good repute?”.  These are the things that we should allow our minds to dwell on.  Whatever will bring praise and glory to God will result in the peace that He promises us in His word.

Let me encourage you to ask the Lord to help you to overcome the temptation of the devil to repeat all your worries throughout the day.  Instead make a list of all those things that are good and lovely in your life and start repeating them to yourself when you are tempted to worry over something that you can’t control anyway.  I want to “LET” God give me peace.  Do you?

LIVING BY FAITH

I have been married 43 years. A majority of that time my husband and I have lived by faith. What do I mean by that statement? Simply, that we have never had the income that would provide for us to live the way we do. I hear many Christians talk about how they trust God to take care of them. Yet, it seems to me that they are truly trusting in themselves and their ability to make a living. If, God forbid, they would suddenly lose their job; panic would set in. Please understand that I am not saying that other Christians have less faith then I do. I have often sat at my desk with bills in front of me whining to God that we just couldn’t pay these bills and wanting to know what He was going to do about it.

Living by faith is so much more than trusting God to pay the bills it also includes our circumstances.  I have been guilty of thinking that as long as I trusted God to take care of the bills and provide for our physical needs that I was living by faith.  But how do I react when the plans I have are completely blown apart?  When God brings something or someone into my life unexpectedly do I trust that He has a plan that is far better than mine?  As Christians we often brag that we have faith in God.  We sing about our faith in hymns like “Only Trust Him” and “My Faith has found a Resting place”.  We quote scripture about trusting the Lord and His plans for our lives. Yet when life throws us a curve how do we react?

What kind of curves am I talking about?  Losing a job, death of a loved one–especially someone that is “too young to die”, breakdown of our vehicle which we need to go to work, an unplanned pregnancy, betrayal of a good friend, daily roadblocks that mess up our schedule.  There are many more but these came to mind.  God often brings things like this into our lives to remind us that we are NOT in control.  Little things like a simple cold or virus that makes us feel awful and frustrates our ability to accomplish our daily tasks can drive us crazy and send us running to our Heavenly Father demanding that He make us better or “fix” the situation because we have things to do!  True, most of us have some kind of schedule in our head and being sick wasn’t on the list.  Yet, shouldn’t we be asking God what was your plan for me today?  The Bible tells us that we are to give thanks in everything.  Doesn’t that include things that we do not like or understand? Of course it does!  God doesn’t give us an exception clause.  He just simply tells us to do it all the time in good times and bad whether we understand it or not.

So my question is: Are we willing to say “Heavenly Father, I know you and trust you.  I know you love me and have a perfect plan for my life therefore I will thank you for every circumstance, change of schedule, lack of funds or abundance of funds, obvious blessings and trials that could be a blessing.”?  My challenge for myself and you, my reader, is to learn to be thankful in every circumstance trusting that our loving Heavenly Father has a perfect plan for every minute of every day.

 

THE SIMPLE LIFE

Recently, I have talked to several people who are frustrated because they are so busy and their house is a disaster area. They know they need to organize but that takes time that they do not seem to have. Years ago I read The Disciplines of the Beautiful Woman by Anne Ortlund. The theme of the book was organizing our lives so that we had time to serve God and others.

Our purpose in life is to glorify God and to serve others. But, we cannot do that well if our lives and our homes are a wreck and we waste precious time looking for things that are in the wrong place.  Quite frankly, we have become a society that moves so fast and takes on so many activities that we often aren’t home long enough to clean, organize and enjoy it!  The Bible tells us that everything should be done decently and in order and that we are to glorify God in whatever we do.  As Christians we may be decent; but, can we honestly say that our home is orderly and it glorifies our Heavenly Father in the peace and beauty that it projects?  In a world that seems to be spinning out of control our homes should be a sanctuary for anyone who enters the door.  How can we accomplish this and still fulfill our commitments outside of the home?

SCHEDULE YOUR TIME:

First we must recognize that we cannot fix in one day what has accumulated over years.  I have often put off a cleaning or organizing job simply because “I didn’t have time.”  We must quit making excuses and make a plan.  Grab a pad of paper and walk through the house.  Make a list of every area that needs to be organized.  Such as, Master Bedroom, office area, family room.  Now subdivide the bigger areas.  Under Master Bedroom you might put: 1.  his closet, 2. my closet, 3. dressers, 4. nightstand.  What you are trying to do is break the tasks down to where you can accomplish them in 30 mins, 15 mins., or less.

Put this list in a notebook, on a bulletin board or somewhere that you can access it easily and not lose it.  Now create a plan for tackling these projects.  This depends on your activities and family.  Once you have a plan enlist the troops.  Unless you live alone, this should not be done only by you.  It is a fact that people will support what they had a hand in creating.  So find a time to talk with the family and share your vision for a house that is organized well enough that things do not get lost and leaving the house every morning is not a battle.

Now schedule at least 1 day a week that you will work on this plan.  There is no right or wrong way to do this.  Some people might do it every Saturday morning.  Others might choose to spend 30 minutes after supper 3 nights a week to tackle these projects.  Whatever you choose to do, make sure that you are able to do this on a regular basis until the entire house is organized.  In other words, don’t bite off more than you can chew!  Doing a little bit at a time will reap results in just a few sessions.  Start with something like cleaning out a junk drawer.  You can probably accomplish this in 15 minutes or less.  The end result of an organized drawer will encourage you to move on to other projects.

It may help to make columns for jobs that will take different lengths of time.  15 mins., 30 mins., and 1 hr.  Some projects like cleaning out and organizing a walk in closet may take at least an hour but a night stand could be cleaned out in less than 15 mins.  If you have these jobs listed in columns and posted in a public place, anyone in the family with a few minutes could pick a job that fits their schedule and mark it off the list.  This way cleaning and organizing can be done whenever someone has a few minutes free or while you are waiting for something to cook or someone to come.

TOOLS:

As you are cleaning areas out you should have 3 boxes, buckets or baskets.  Label 1 “Keep”, 2 “Throw, 3 “Donate”.  As you pull things out of closets, drawers and nooks ask yourself these questions:  Do I LOVE this?  Have I used or worn this in the last year?  Is it a special family memory?  Be honest with yourself.  Quit saving things that you could wear if only you lost 10 pounds!  By the time that happens it will be out of style. 🙂  You can reward yourself with a new outfit if you do lose those 10 pounds. 🙂

I read a good tip for saving memories.  Take pictures of things like your children’s special papers and pictures and save them on a disk then you can look at them for the memories and not have all the paper clutter that will accumulate for the first 18 -22 years of your children’s lives.

MAINTAIN:

Once you and your family have the house in order,  find a way to maintain this level of organization.  Do you and your family need a place to put things when you come home?  Install hooks to hang coats, backpacks, and totes on.  Have a basket and a trash can by the family entry.  Use the basket for mail and important papers that need to be read or filed.  Throw the junk mail away immediately.  Go through this basket at least once a week to file, pay bills etc. You  might even want to keep a jar or cup with pens, pencils, and highlighters near this station so that you can highlight important info as you read it and sign papers to go out immediately.

Make sure that your children have baskets, drawers, cubby holes or shelves where they can put their clothes, toys and books.  If necessary label each area or glue pictures on for those that cannot read yet.  Once this is done make sure that you inspect what you expect.  Insist that they put things away before bed until it becomes a habit.  Just a note here, you must set the example.  Do NOT expect your children to keep their rooms clean if yours is a wreck!  Train yourself to hang your clothes up, throw the dirty things in the hamper, put your jewelry and shoes away and make your bed.  Often the hardest part of training your children is training yourself. 🙂

ENJOY!

Organizing your entire house may sound like an impossible dream; but, it can be done.  It simply takes setting goals and working at it one small step at a time.  Remember, you are doing this to glorify the Lord.  God tells us in His word that we are to do ALL things decently and in order.  I promise you life will be much simpler and your family time more enjoyable when you are not constantly frustrated because you or another family member cannot find something like the keys to the car. 🙂

Now that you have gained the extra time that you used to spend looking for things, ask the Lord how you can use that time to serve Him and others.  Enjoy your peaceful home and the blessings that God will bring when you are serving Him.

HAVE A BLESSED NEW YEAR

I have been reading through the posts on facebook wishing everyone a Happy New Year.  There is nothing wrong with hoping that our friends will have happy times in the new year.  We all want to have peace, joy and good times.  Yet, if we claim to know Christ as our Savior and are desiring to serve him, we must understand that the ultimate goal is NOT MERE HAPPINESS.  Our goal should be that we would desire to know Christ in such a way that we would be willing to share His suffering as the apostle Paul states in Philippians 3:10-14.

This thought process is so foreign to most Americans.  We tend to focus on the “pursuit of happiness” and ignore the fact that true happiness comes from serving God , enduring trials with a trust in God’s perfect plan, and emerging victorious. 

Most of us do not pray for God to bring us trials.  Instead we beg Him to solve the problem and do it quickly!  If we were allowed to go through life with God solving all our problems immediately, we would be no better than a 3 year old who pitches a fit every time he doesn’t get his way!  A spoiled brat is not appreciated when they are small and NO ONE wants to associate with an adult that thinks the world revolves around him!  Yet we set goals for the new year hoping that somehow God will put His stamp of approval on them and make it easy to reach the end result saving us all that bother of working and maturing to be like Him.

May I make a suggestion?  Take the time to look over the past year.  Ask God to show you where you failed, what you could have done differently.  Evaluate what happened over the year.  Where did your plans get changed by your Heavenly Father?  How did God’s divine plan work better than what you thought should happen?  How did God provide for the details?  What did you learn in both the good and the bad times?  Most of the time we don’t learn much in good times.  Yes, we need those fun relaxing times to take our minds off of the stress and give us the good memories to cling to.  Even Jesus took times of rest when He walked the earth.  Yet, it is the trying times that truly shape us and draw us closer to God molding us into a mature Christian that is able to encourage other saints and draw the world to Him.

My prayer for this year is that God will help me to reach the goals He has for me.  That I will learn to trust Him when my schedule changes, when roadblocks are thrown in my path, when life is not a sunny day at the beach.  May I desire to be continually growing to become a mature individual, pleasing God and encouraging others instead of selfishly begging God for a life of ease.

HE WAS A GREAT MAN

My father died November 30, 2016. My husband, Pastor Larry Wagner, preached the funeral service and wrote a very touching obituary for him. The title of his sermon was “He Was a Great Man”. Following is he Eulogy that I wrote and read to honor my father and hopefully encourage others to make sure that they are setting an example for others to follow.

WILLIAM KENNETH BRYANT

Few people knew my Daddy by his given name. Only his mother and older sister called him Kenneth. To his friends and business associates he was Buck. His nieces and their husbands called him Uncle Buck. As he aged and had grandchildren he was affectionately called Papa by them as well as many others that knew and loved him.

Daddy led an amazing life. He was the youngest son of a civil war veteran. Raised on a poor hog farm in southern Missouri he was determined to get off the farm and get a job in town just as soon as he was old enough. He had many stories to tell about growing up on a farm in the 1920’s & 30’s. He was a veteran of both WWII and the Korean War. There were more stories from those years. There were experiences in NY City as he trained to design and make fur coats then from Florida where he moved after the Korean War to go into business with his brother-in-law, Charles Keslake. They had an orthopedic brace business. Buck was supposed to be the bookkeeper; but, he ended up learning how to make casts that would be the molds for the braces that he would create. He ended his working career as a postmaster in Longwood FL. There were plenty of stories from those 18 years! The post office was just as crazy back then as it is now. He started as the postmaster of a small post office with one rural route and, because of Disney World causing unprecedented growth, he retired from the same post office with 32 rural routes.

Yes, there are many stories I could relate to you about his fascinating life and all the places he was privileged to see. But, Daddy is in Heaven now and I am sure he would want me to share his spiritual journey. He gave his testimony many times hoping to impress on church going people how important it was to be faithful and set a good example because others, particularly children, are watching you. Daddy was brought up in a church in southern Missouri. At that time, this church taught that you had to be baptized in running water (the river) to complete your salvation. He remembered many Sundays that they walked down to the river to baptize a new convert even if it was the middle of winter and they had to make a hole in the ice. Personally, I would have waited till July to walk that aisle rather than braved that ice! 🙂  The pastor would always say, “He is going into the water an old man in sin and rising from the water a new creation. Behold old things are passed away…” Daddy said that he would watch those people in the coming weeks and months, some of them became leaders in the church but most of them were not truly transformed. In fact, he went seining the river with some of the deacons of the church. This was illegal because it would strip the river of all the fish in one swoop. Because my father could not see any visible changes in the Christians from his church he believed that he did not need salvation because he was as good as any of them. Daddy often said that it took 40 years for God to beat it into his head that he was a sinner in need of salvation.

After I grew up, I realized that he and I had been saved the same year. He was 40 and I was 8. True, he was already a “good” man so, as a child, I did not notice a drastic change in our lifestyle because my father accepted the Lord. Yet, when I look back I realize that it was at that time that we started attending every service of our church instead of just going to Sunday School and then out for breakfast. Not only did we attend every time the doors were open we were always the first ones there! We even beat the pastor! Little did I know that I was being trained to be a Pastor’s wife!:-)

Because of his childhood experiences it was very important to my father that he set a good example. I was taught by both my mother and father that you did not just go to church and church activities for what you would get out of it, you went to encourage others and be a good example. If you happened to receive a blessing or have a good time then that was a bonus. The church I grew up in had elders and my father was one. Many times I heard how we must set a good example for others because Daddy was an elder and Mama ran the Sunday School and Bible School. Others were watching and it was up to us to be there so that others would be encouraged to do what is right.

Daddy had a servant’s heart. Before he and Mama were ready to retire they told Larry and I that as soon as they were retired they would move to wherever we were to take care of our children to free me for the ministry. Right after Ryan was born, they moved to Winston-Salem, NC. Larry was the youth pastor at Marshall Baptist Church. They enjoyed living in NC and the people in the church. When we took the youth to camp or on Mission trips, Nana and Papa would move into our house to take care of Ryan and Tiffany. Two years later we had to tell them that God was moving us to Iowa to build a Christian Camp. We thought they would tell us to have a nice trip but they would go back to Florida. You see, when I was growing up, I heard that from his boyhood on a poor hog farm my father had decided that farming was a miserable life that he intended to avoid at all costs and they never wanted to live in Iowa again! Mama and Daddy had lived in Iowa for one year. He told me when he drove across the Mississippi River he declared that he was never going back there! But they had made a promise so they sold their trailer in NC, bought one in Iowa and joined the caravan of moving van, cars and motor home to move to Iowa in January. For 25 years Papa lived in Bonaparte, Iowa. He would drive to town to pick up supplies that we needed. Larry could call him and he would come out to camp to hold the other end of a board or something else to facilitate a building project. My husband talked him into helping with some VERY CREATIVE building projects! The biggest thing that he and Mama did was take care of the kids whenever we travelled to churches to present the camping ministry. During the camping season Larry and I would live in their motor home at camp and Ryan and Tiffany would move in with them. Nana & Papa would bring the children out to camp for lunch and supper, run errands for us, and generally made our life much easier as we served the Lord. In fact, my father often threatened to go back to work to get some rest. He said he worked harder in retirement than he had as a postmaster. 🙂

My dad firmly believed that cleanliness was next to Godliness, particularly in cars. Many evangelists who came to our camp talked about looking out the window of their fifth wheeler early in the morning to find my father washing their truck. He loved to serve others by cleaning and polishing. When he lived with Tiffany, her friends would bring him their silver and brass to polish. That kept him busy and happy and those nurses had not had such shiny silver and brass in years! I used to love to have my mother and father move into our house to baby sit while we took teens on mission trips. By the time we returned everything that needed polishing shone, there was not a window that stuck and the carpet was spotless. The man was not into sports or outdoor activities; but if he stayed in your house it definitely would be clean!

In his later years he had a burden for his former navy buddies. He made several trips and phone calls to contact them and make sure that they knew the plan of salvation. Many assured him that they had accepted the Lord. For those that would not, he knew he had tried and that was all the Lord asked of him.

I couldn’t have asked for a better father. I said at my parent’s 40th Anniversary celebration that because my Daddy played with me as a child I was willing to listen to him as a teen. In fact, he was my confidante. I told him many things that I would never tell my mother or anyone else. Daddy had a way of listening without judgment and then advising me in creative ways. He could inspire me to do almost anything because he would end it with, “I know you can do it if you put your mind to it.” I can remember calling him crying that I might as well come home from Bob Jones because I was going to flunk anyway. My mother simply told me that I was not working hard enough, which was probably true, but Daddy told me that he was confident that I could bring those grades up. He was praying for me and he knew that I could accomplish anything if I just put my mind to it. After each one of those talks I would hang up the phone knowing that I could and I must do it because my daddy was praying for me and he told me I could do it. When I was seriously in trouble or had a stupid idea, I would receive a letter from my father. I still have the letter he wrote me during my senior year at Bob Jones Academy. I had the brilliant idea that I would take a year off from school. A friend and I were going to get an apartment, live off campus, and work. After all, we needed a break. 🙂  I wish I could find it to read; but, basically he told me that this was NOT happening in the kind, encouraging yet firm way that was my Daddy.

Because of my loving earthly father, I never had a problem understanding a loving heavenly father. He had the patience of Job yet he knew how to discipline when it was needed. Oh how I hated it when Mama told him I had done something that required his attention! He would sit down with me and ask me what I thought about my sin. Then he would tell me how disappointed he was and how much I had disappointed Jesus. All the time I would sit there thinking in my mind, “please just spank me and get it over with!”

Daddy never ran for political office. He was not rich and famous. But those he met as he moved to different parts of our country will remember a man who was faithful to church and God. He was a man who loved to encourage others by his words and his helpful deeds. My father’s legacy will always be those lives that he touched by his faithfulness in church and example of serving others in whatever way he could.

POOR ME

I was talking to someone the other day and they asked why I had these red patches on the back of my neck.  I told them that it was psoriasis and that it tended to flare up when I was stressed.  In a shocked voice she asked, “What are you stressed about?!”  I tried to explain that we are working every spare minute on the house that we bought in January in an attempt to get it ready so we can move from our temporary housing to our permanent home.  We also have one of the biggest events that our church has coming up in 1 1/2 weeks with a special speaker arriving that I need to prepare a guest room for.  And let’s not forget the pies to bake for the Sunday of Father’s day, the potato salad I am supposed to make the next weekend and 2 other desserts.  Oh yes, and I am supposed to work 3 days a week.  You get the picture.  I’m tired and overwhelmed. 🙂

This morning I was thinking about that scenario and the Lord reminded me that most of us don’t understand another person’s stressors.  What drives me crazy would be a piece of cake to another person.  Yet, that same person could be bent completely out of shape over something that I would just take in stride.  The fact that even our closest friends can’t always understand why we are upset does not keep us from going to them to give us sympathy. If we knew what many of our friends and acquaintances are going through we would be embarrassed that we even THOUGHT we were stressed or overworked.  Just look at the news this last week.  No one has shot me or someone I love and I did not just lose a child to a gator attack at Disney World.  Those are stressful situations that I hope I will never have to experience!

When I am tempted to say “poor me, I just can’t take the pressures of my life”, it’s time to look around and get some perspective of what real problems are.  Then I need to have a talk to the only one who truly understands me–my Heavenly Father who created me just the way I am.  Because my creator is all knowing and all powerful, He also knows exactly how my schedule should work out and what I am capable of doing.  God is just waiting for me to come to Him so that He can give me wisdom and strength to do all that He has called me to do.  Yet I too often forget that fact while working myself up into a dither over something I can’t control. 🙂

 

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