Sunday, November 13, 2016

Steadfast Love Never Ceases

Lamentations 3:22-24 The MSG:
God’s loyal love couldn’t have run out,
    his merciful love couldn’t have dried up.
They’re created new every morning.
    How great your faithfulness!
I’m sticking with God (I say it over and over).
    He’s all I’ve got left.

Monday, July 4, 2016

The Influence of Prominent Women

In Acts 13, the Lord is doing some mighty things in the new church.  Jesus is being preached to the Jews.  Some accept. Some reject.
Acts 49 So the message of the Lord spread through the whole region. 50 But the Jews incited the prominent women, who worshiped God, and the leading men of the city. They stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas and expelled them from their district.
The phrase "the Jews incited the prominent women" caught my eye. At Shandon Baptist, I've been working with women's ministry coordinating making luopads (missions) and summer bible study.  The focus behind the pads is to let women know that God loves them, and so do we. In the summer bible study, the focus is on enriching the lives of the ladies participating.  In both instances, God cares deeply for women--for them to be drawn closer to Him, loved by Him, and to grow in His grace. I wouldn't call the women I work with "prominent." But who is to say that they aren't prominent in someone's life?  Their families, their work, their church, their community. . . And as a prominent person, they have an influence to be a blessing or a curse (such as the prominent Jewish women mentioned in the verses above.)
It is important to remember that we do have an influence. God does want to love us and use us to spread His love to others. We are to be salt and light to the world--yes, even as women.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

A King to Make Decisions, Go Out Before Us, and Fight Our Battles

I got the text around 3:45 Saturday night---we would need someone to teach the Sunday school lesson in the morning.  The passage was 1 Samuel 8. I am the great Filler-Inner when we have last minute cancellations--and this is about a once-in-a-year opportunity.
The scripture passage is about how the Israelites came to Samuel and rejected Samuel's sons' leadership (they didn't walk in his ways). The Jews were afraid.  This is just after the ark had been sent back by the Philistines. They told Samuel that they wanted a king to judge us, go out before us, and fight our battles.
In Sunday school, we usually dissect all the parts of the lesson to see how they can apply to us and how we can relate. Overall, the Israelites were experiencing a trust issue with God.

But after going through the verses, it dawned on me that perhaps this Sunday school lesson wasn't about us at all.  What if it is about OTHER people groups who are afraid, who are fearing attack, who have little hope?
There is a limited time (1-1/2 years) opportunity that the hearts of these displaced refugees are open to the gospel, says Celia Deneen.  After that, they become hardened. What can we do to light the way for those hurting--even if they don't share the same religious, cultural, or political background as us?   What can we do here at home? These people need to know that God can go before them and fight their battles. If not me, than who?
Image adapted from:

Saturday, June 25, 2016

How Can You Get Involved? Why Should You Get Involved? -- Sewing Project

I'm so excited about all the creating and giving going on in the name of the Lord! We just finished assembling 100 LuoPad bags (filled with 6 pads, 2 underpants, washcloth, qt.-size ziplock bag, & safety pins.) Whoop!

How Can You Get Involved:
I have been making little "kits" for those who would like to help out with our LuoPad project when we are not meeting at the church. I have a couple of different options:

1. Tracers/Cutters: I have a bag of flannel or towels with a wooden template so the material can be cut and returned to me.  
2. Sewers: I have a bag of pre-cut flannel & towels to give to someone who can sew 10 pads and return to me.

If you want to find me at church on Sunday, I will be in S.School room A208 at 8:45 am (we usually don't start til closer to 9 am) and will be in the Gathering Place near the steps going up to the balcony (theater side) between the 2 worship services at Shandon Baptist. My number is 803-315-6614. 
[Important Side Note: if you have already taken some to work on at home, please shoot me an email so I know where all the materials are.--I've lost several wooden templates made by the Dickinson boys so far, and Kynn and Lorie Harris have made me some more. I just want to create a list to keep up with everything.]

Here is what I look like (for those I haven't met, yet!):

Why Should You Get Involved?
Yesterday I spent time talking with Marvin Bozard--who works with coordinating missions activities all across the globe. Because of his travels, he explained how women are treated and looked upon in many countries of the world. It is so different from what we know here in America. 

There is a film that they use with women that is essentially The Jesus Film, but told through the eyes of Mary Magdalene. It has an emphasis on how much Jesus cared for WOMEN time and time again. For so many ladies, they have never been told how much they are valued, so this is a very powerful video. I found a YouTube link of the video Magdalena.
They are using this video to reach those who have never heard by taking in portable projectors to remote areas. (My husband Jim used one when he went to E. Africa this winter to teach about agriculture techniques.) 

All this to say that when we deliver these LuoPads--the washable, reusable sanitary pads for women, we are sending the message that we care about these women, enough to make and send a gift they greatly need. The women are in disbelief that people would care about THEM (not just the men!)  And that is the point, isn't it? That God cares so much for us that He desires a relationship with us . . . for eternity! 
If we can't go reach them, we can offer the gifts we do have! 

I am hoping to go to E. Africa on mission with my husband next winter and hope to get to meet some of the women on the receiving end of these gifts! 

Thank you for your efforts and enthusiastic hearts!  It is such a blessing to me! And thanks for the patience to take the time to read this whole darn thing! Whew! 

Now some technical stuff: 
1. Here is the link to the Step-By-Step instructions for making the pads:
2. EDEN (Educational Development in Emerging Nations) does have a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit ministry status for those who may be interested in donating materials for the project and receiving a receipt for tax purposes. {The flannel, underwear, and washcloths for the kits can add up!}

Kristin Mixson
Aspiring to say as Paul did, "And they glorified God in me." Gal. 1:24

Friday, June 24, 2016

Honoring the Lord with our Produce

This morning was the last day for picking corn! It has been a great harvest, and we have had a lot of help with people picking!

I scared up 3 bunnies this morning! These eggs are about 1 cm. long each:

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Choices: To JOIN God Where He is At Work or NOT

Woo Hoo!  Last night was our first night of the ladies' Bible study Time of Your Life by Andy Stanley. After watching the video, we sat around discussing some questions related to the sermon, such as: Tell what comes to mind when you hear the phrase, "If I'm going to do something, I need to go ahead and do it." And "What is the point of life?"

I overheard Paige Fisher (I'm sure she doesn't mind me using her name in this instance!) talking about how God is at work in the world all the time to fulfill his plans and purposes. When we decide to join Him, it is like He is offering us the opportunity to participate in this great plan of His. And immediately what she said reminded me of the story of Queen Esther--which I've been reading about in my daily quiet time.
Esther 4:13 Mordecai told the messenger to reply to Esther, “Don’t think that you will escape the fate of all the Jews because you are in the king’s palace. 14 If you keep silent at this time, liberation and deliverance will come to the Jewish people from another place, but you and your father’s house will be destroyed. Who knows, perhaps you have come to your royal position for such a time as this.”15 Esther sent this reply to Mordecai: 16 “Go and assemble all the Jews who can be found in Susa and fast for me. Don’t eat or drink for three days, day or night. I and my female servants will also fasting the same way. After that, I will go to the king even if it is against the law. If I perish, I perish.” 17 So Mordecai went and did everything Esther had ordered him. (HCSB)
So the big question I need to consider in this TIME OF MY LIFE is WHERE is God at work around me? How can I join Him? What can I do to prepare for the ministry opportunities He is sending my way?
In answer to the above question--which I've been studying this past month (not just last night), I think being a part of this ladies Bible study, preparing the daily questions for it, and leading it are part of how God wants to use me to minister to ladies in Columbia South Carolina. I think the Sewing Project for the women of South Sudan is a part God's bigger work in the lives of not just ladies overseas, but here at home, who may not be able to GO on mission, but can help be a blessing!  I think getting to a healthy weight and fitness level so that I can be better prepared to travel while overseas  and live a long and healthy life is part of my personal goal, as well.

One of the things I want to explore more is how I can join Jim in his work toward being a blessing to the South Sudanese people. His heart is there.  I need to begin taking steps to seek how I can get involved in a supportive role to HIM--not just think about what I can do on my own.  


Sunday, June 12, 2016

God Listened

This morning, I came across a sweet little verse full of hope and power! I'm reading in Ezra 8. Ezra is leading a group from Babylon to reestablish the temple in Jerusalem. He was afraid to ask the king for an armed cavalry escort, so he fasted and prayed to God instead.  This is what he said:
Ezra 8:23 So we fasted and prayed about these concerns. And He listened. (The Msg)
I love it! What a great lesson to remember!!

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Knowing + Not Doing = Sin

In my quiet time this morning, I read John 19--where Jesus was crucified. 
John 19: 19-22  
Pilate wrote a sign and had it placed on the cross. It read: jesus the nazarenethe king of the jews. 20-21 Many of the Jews read the sign because the place where Jesus was crucified was right next to the city. It was written in Hebrew, Latin, and Greek. The Jewish high priests objected. “Don’t write,” they said to Pilate, “‘The King of the Jews.’ Make it, ‘This man said, “I am the King of the Jews.”’”22 Pilate said, “What I’ve written, I’ve written.” (The Message)
When I read what Pilate said, I knew he knew. Pilate knew Jesus was the Messiah. Yet, he allowed him to be crucified anyway. That internal voice, the conscience, the huge impression, the tick, tick, tick in the mind---he KNEW. And he did it anyway. 
James 4:17 "Therefore to him that knoweth to do good and doeth it not, to him it is sin." (KJV)
In this ladies summer Bible study Time of Your Life that I'm working on, one thing I need to remember is that each lady is going through her own message that she is receiving from God. If I am writing questions for the daily Bible study, I need to write generic reflection questions and actions. Whatever the Lord is leading each to do, as she sees it, the struggle to comply, obey, release, or whatever will be huge. It will be hard. It may be painful. It will involve sacrifice. Yet, to not do so, once God has revealed His path, would be considered sin. 
James 4:13-17 
13 Go to now, ye that say, Today or tomorrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain:14 Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.15 For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.16 But now ye rejoice in your boastings: all such rejoicing is evil.17 Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin. (KJV)
Lord, help me to be sensitive to Your guidance in choosing scriptures and writing reflective questions. Help me to obey as You lead me in my life. Help me listen to You as You speak. Help me to be disciplined enough to act in obedience as You direct. Forgive me of my sin, as my flesh is mighty powerful.  I've had a lot of years of practice in obeying it, instead of You. Help me in my weakness, Father. I want to please You.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Fear of God. Chosen Child. (Time 1.1)

Proverbs 1:7  The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction

Lord, help me learn to fear You, to know You, to Love you.

Ephesians 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ, according as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him, in love Having predestined us unto the adoption of sons by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, the the praise of the glory of his grace, through which he hath made us accepted in the Beloved.

Father, I do not understand how You could love me, choose me, adopt me, accept me.  But You did and You do. Help me to learn to know you more.


Monday, May 23, 2016

Knowing God's Will = Seeking God

Yesterday I listened to a sermon by Andy Stanley about discerning God's will. My biggest takeaway was that if you want to know God's will, don't seek to hear some audible voice giving you direction. Instead, seek to know GOD better. Learn what is important to God. Notice what He is doing in the world around you. Seek His face.

Deuteronomy 6:5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. (NASB)

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Returning Insult for Kindness: Being Misunderstood

This morning in my quiet time, I read 1 Cor. 19. David sent condolences to the son of an Ammonite king. The son misunderstood David's intentions--thought David's men were spies instead of comforters--and responded with rudeness (shaved beards and cut clothing to expose men's butts.) It was insulting.

[It reminded me of the time when David asked Nabal for food when running from Saul in the wilderness. If Abigail hadn't intervened the misunderstanding, death would have been on David's hands. So David was acquainted with being misunderstood.]

The whole incident resulted in war. Thousands died.

I don't know what the moral of the story is, but I can certainly relate to having my personal intentions questioned, being misunderstood, and decisions made against me as a result. It pierces the deepest part of my pride--of wanting to be known as a kind, creative, and caring person versus selfish, haughty, and rude. Perhaps it is because I do so many dumb things that it is just assumed. For example, David was innocent of spying against Ammonite king--he really did want to send condolences, however, in the next few chapters of 1 Chronicles, David did ultra-stupid:  he took a census of all the Israelites (this was forbidden). As a result, 70,000 were killed. So David wasn't innocent of everything he did in his life. As the youth say these days, "Haters gonna hate."

Matthew 5:11-12"Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you."

Lord, help me to remember to TRUST in You when I'm feeling misjudged and misunderstood. Help me to learn to rejoice that You've got this.


Saturday, May 21, 2016

Declare His Glory!

Good Morning, Lord, I love you. What do you have in mind for me for today? I want to be a part of it!
I read the following passage in my quiet time this morning. I was immediately reminded of the song we sing in choir at church: Declare His Glory.

1 Chronicles 16: 8-36 NKJV
Oh, give thanks to the Lord! Call upon His name;
Make known His deeds among the peoples!
Sing to Him, sing psalms to Him;
Talk of all His wondrous works!
Glory in His holy name;
Let the hearts of those rejoice who seek the Lord!
Seek the Lord and His strength;
Seek His face evermore!
Remember his marvelous works which He has done,
His wonders, and all the judgments of His mouth,
O seed of Israel His servant,
You children of Jacob, His chosen ones!
He is the Lord our God;
His judgments are in all the earth.
Remember His covenant forever,
The word which He commanded, for a thousand generations,
The covenant which He made with Abraham,
And His oath to Isaac,
And confirmed it to Jacob for a statue,
To Israel for an everlasting covenant,
Saying, "To you I will give the land of Canaan
As the allotment of your inheritance,"
When you were few in number,
Indeed very few, and strangers in it.
When they went from one nation to another,
And from one kingdom to another people,
He permitted no man to do them wrong;
Yes, He rebuked kings for their sakes,
Saying, "Do not touch My anointed ones,
And do my prophets no harm."
Sing to the Lord, all the earth;
Proclaim the good news of His salvation from day to day.
Declare His glory among the nations,
His wonders among all peoples.
For the Lord is great and greatly to be praised;
He is also to be feared above all gods.
For all the gods of the peoples are idols,
But the Lord made the heavens.
Honor and majesty are before Him;
Strength and gladness are in His place.
Give to the Lord, O families of the peoples,
Give to the Lord glory and strength.
Give to the Lord the glory due His name;
Bring an offering, and come before Him.
Oh, worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness!
Tremble before Him, all the earth.
The world also is firmly established,
It shall not be moved.
Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad;
And let them say among the nations, "The Lord reigns."
Let the sea roar, and all its fullness;
Let the field rejoice, and all that is in it.
Then the trees of the woods shall rejoice before the Lord,
For He is coming to judge the earth.
Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!
For His mercy endures forever.
And say, "Save us, O God of our salvation;
Gather us together, and deliver us from the Gentiles,
To give thanks to Your holy name,
To triumph in Your praise."
Blessed be the Lord God of Israel
From everlasting to everlasting!
And all the people said, "Amen!" and praise the Lord.

One of my goals this summer in the ladies Bible study is to emphasize to the power of God's Word in speaking to our hearts and giving us direction.
If I had to meditate on the above verses and ask the Lord to speak to my heart about anything He'd like for me to focus on or internalize, I think I'd start by highlighting all of the verbs:
Give Thanks
Make known
Sing, Sing
Let Rejoice
Seek, Seek
Give Thanks
Say Save, Gather, Deliver, 
Give Thanks
Praise The Lord

If I truly believe that God is the God of the Universe and that He really loves little, old ME, my life should be filled with verbs that recognize HIM. I should actively be worshiping, trembling, giving thanks, declaring His glory, praising, singing, remembering . . . .
Lord, help me number my days that I may gain a heart of wisdom. I love you and want to live my life as a vessel for your glory. Amen.


Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Fighting, Crying Out, TRUSTING again and again and again

In 1 Chronicles 5:
18-22 The families of Reuben, Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh . . . fought against the Hagrites, Jetur, Naphish, and Nodab. God helped them as they fought. God handed the Hagrites and all their allies over to them, because they cried out to him during the battle. God answered their prayers because they trusted him. 
The families fought --> God helped
The families cried out to God in battle --> God answered their prayers
They trusted
Seems like a formula to me.

23-26  . . . But they were not faithful to the God of their ancestors. They took up with the ungodly gods of the peoples of the land whom God had gotten rid of before they arrived. So the God of Israel stirred up the spirit of Pul king of Assyria (Tiglath-Pileser king of Assyria) to take the families of Reuben, Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh into exile. He deported them to Halah, Habor, Hara, and the river of Gozan. They’ve been there ever since.
The families took up with ungodly gods of the peoples --> God sent them into exile
In other words, they stopped trusting.
Yeah, formula.
The thing that scares me when I read stuff like this is that while I may be seeking His face today, I may turn around tomorrow and try to live life MY WAY. Trusting is difficult.  Trust must occur again and again. It isn't a one time, "I'm gonna turn my life over to God, now." It is a daily, "Good morning, God, I love You. What do you have in mind for me for today? I want to be a part of it."
My grandmother, Mamamarge, began each of her days with this prayer. (The painting is from my cousin Beth as a Christmas gift to me this year!)

As I prepare for this summer's ladies' Bible study, one of the things Andy Stanley encourages us to begin doing is starting the first few moments of every day in prayer.  And specifically, to pray the following prayer by Moses, "Lord, teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom." Psalm 90:12.

"Lord, teach me to number my day today, that I may gain a heart of wisdom."

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Overboard & Working Girl

In the late 1980's, two movies came out that I watched again and again and again--I had video-taped them on my VCR when I signed up for cable TV: first month free access to a movie channel. Overboard and Working Girl both told the stories of women who got second chances and turned their futures around. The movies inspired me that I could have a do-over, too. I could be whatever I wanted to be and walk away from my past.

Today in my quiet time, I read in John 5 about a guy who got a do-over.  The Bible didn't even mention his name--just his position: first he is called an Invalid, and then he is called the Healed Man. For 38 years, this guy hung out by a special pool with multitudes who were crippled, blind, and even paralyzed. He told Jesus how helpless he was by blaming that others could always get into the healing waters faster than he. I can't possibly imagine what life would have been like with no hope of ever being a productive and useful member of society. I suppose a lot of people are in that situation, even today. I don't know how they cope.

Then Jesus comes and heals him. What to do now?? He has no skills. He has no clientele. His best friends are all incapable of doing anything, either. 
The next place we find him is in the Temple. I imagine that is the absolute best place for him to be. Jesus found the Healed Man in the temple, approached him, and told him he'd better go his way and SIN NO MORE, lest something worse happen to him. Now this is where I bring in the movie references--the guy has got to make some big life changes. He is given a second chance.  It is time to turn from sin to holiness--or it's gonna get really bad.

This story reminds me of the reason I'm wanting to do the Shandon Summer Ladies' Bible Study: Time of Your Life by Andy Stanley. It is time to make some changes. It is time to stop wasting my life. Time to take up my bed and walk. I wonder what that's gonna look like. 
I'll soon find out.


Saturday, May 14, 2016

Huldah the Prophetess

Huldah the Prophetess. Nope, I've never heard of her, either.

In my quiet time this morning, I've been reading 2 Kings 22. The boy king Josiah ruled 31 years, and followed after God. When a book of scripture was found in the temple and read to Josiah, Josiah wept, tore his robes, asked for prayer for himself and Judah, and sought God's guidance.
Besides the story of Josiah asking for God's help, seeking God, being faithful, I happened to notice the small details of this prophetess being thrown in to the story.  Because I'm On Mission--and looking for God to speak to me and get me prepared to develop a study guide for this summer's ladies' bible study Time of Your Life, I've been finding lots of little golden nuggets in my quiet time.
To explain the tidbits I'm finding, I'll post the scripture passage and then point out the juicy stuff.
2 Kings 22:

11-13 When the king heard what was written in the book, God’s Revelation, he ripped his robes in dismay. And then he called for Hilkiah the priest, Ahikam son of Shaphan, Acbor son of Micaiah, Shaphan the royal secretary, and Asaiah the king’s personal aide. He ordered them all: “Go and pray to God for me and for this people—for all Judah! Find out what we must do in response to what is written in this book that has just been found! God’s anger must be burning furiously against us—our ancestors haven’t obeyed a thing written in this book, followed none of the instructions directed to us.”
14-17 Hilkiah the priest, Ahikam, Acbor, Shaphan, and Asaiah went straight to Huldah the prophetess. She was the wife of Shallum son of Tikvah, the son of Harhas, who was in charge of the palace wardrobe. She lived in Jerusalem in the Second Quarter. The five men consulted with her. In response to them she said, “God’s word, the God of Israel: Tell the man who sent you here that I’m on my way to bring the doom of judgment on this place and this people. Every word written in the book read by the king of Judah will happen. And why? Because they’ve deserted me and taken up with other gods, made me thoroughly angry by setting up their god-making businesses. My anger is raging white-hot against this place and nobody is going to put it out.
18-20 “And also tell the king of Judah, since he sent you to ask God for direction; tell him this, God’s comment on what he read in the book: ‘Because you took seriously the doom of judgment I spoke against this place and people, and because you responded in humble repentance, tearing your robe in dismay and weeping before me, I’m taking you seriously. God’s word: I’ll take care of you. You’ll have a quiet death and be buried in peace. You won’t be around to see the doom that I’m going to bring upon this place.’” (The Message)

Here is my thought: 5 important men, including the priest and the king's top adviser are sent by the KING to seek out a woman who's married to a man in charge of what people in the palace wear. I'm thinking that her role as a woman and fashion consultant are nothing compared to her ability to listen to God. 
Our lives are full of responsibilities and roles, but underneath it all and at the end of the day, do we listen to God and act upon what He is showing us? I sure hope I can answer, "Yes."

And another thought--but not about Huldah--Josiah sought God. When he asked about the punishment to come upon his nation because of their sin, he was told that the punishment would still come . . . but it would be delayed until after he had passed. Personally, it is so difficult to comprehend how T-I-M-E works. Yes, I know God is always at work. But it seems strange that it takes generations for the cause and effects of history to take place.  Studying history over time is like wrapping up all the events with a bow.  But living in it, and through it, I have to wonder what big effects are headed our way in America.  Our music, entertainment, culture, lifestyle, government, family structures, etc. are going to hell in a hand-basket. I wonder what roles I play--and I'm not talking about being a school teacher, here. What does "Having the Time of My Life" mean to me?

Images: N3K Photo Studios  by James C. Lewis

Monday, May 9, 2016

An Undivided Heart

My spirit is burdened today for a very special girlfriend of mine. We have lived, laughed, and suffered together--dropping to pray at a moment's notice for each other. We've shared verses of comfort, friendship, joy, and hope. We've done the Iron Sharpens Iron thing for years.
Until now.
Like my mom, my special girlfriend has been pierced with a pain so deep that after suffering through it for so many years, she has concluded that relying on God just didn't work. She tried it. It didn't work. The pain continued. She hoped, she prayed. The suffering and attacks continued.
So, she cut the wicked source pain out of her life and at the same time her hope that God would fix or repair it. She has now concluded that her previous hope in God, while sincere, was a coping mechanism. God didn't come through as He'd promised, therefore He wasn't to be trusted anymore.
She has stated that she now believes there are many religious beliefs out there that are good for different people, but that a singular path to understanding God isn't for her anymore. At least, this is what I understand her to say.
My heart that has been so intertwined with her in the past immediately fell heavy. I understand that she has been injured by another. I understand her need to separate herself from the cause of this pain in order to protect and preserve herself. I understand that she tried to trust God with all her heart.

But my heart aches to think that she has given up on Him. As a best friend, I wish I could identify with her seeking sustenance elsewhere, but I can't. It reminds me of my mom's favorite poem:

Comes The Dawn

Submitted By: heidegret
After a while you learn the subtle difference
Between holding a hand and chaining a soul,
And you learn that love doesn’t mean leaning
And company doesn’t mean security,
And you begin to learn that kisses aren’t contracts
And presents aren’t promises,
And you begin to accept your defeats
With your head up and your eyes open
With the grace of a woman, not the grief of a child,
And you learn to build all your roads on today,
Because tomorrow’s ground is too uncertain for plans,
And futures have a way of falling down in mid-flight.
After a while you learn
That even sunshine burns if you get too much.
So you plant your own garden and decorate your own soul,
Instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers.
And you learn that you really can endure...
That you really are strong,
And you really do have worth.
And you learn and learn...
With every goodbye you learn.
 Author: Veronica Shoffstall

I choose the eyes of a child over the grace of a woman. I feel my worth is wrapped up in the love and grace of my Heavenly Father over my own strength. Yes, I've been hurt and rejected time and again by family relationships, where I didn't have the power to eject myself, but I've chosen to run to the arms of my Savior and God. He has sustained me. I pray one day my girlfriend will throw her heart back to her Creator and Lover of her soul again.
I was reading in my quiet time about an ancient king--Jehu, who fulfilled God's commands, and then went about running the nation HIS OWN way, his own path. He did what God wanted him to do--destroy Ahab's family and destroy the worshipers of Baal, but then followed the reasoning of his own heart:
2 Kings 10:31  Even then, though, Jehu wasn’t careful to walk in God’s ways and honor the God of Israel from an undivided heart. (MSG)

Father, guard my heart. Help me to keep my hope and focus on You. I am weak, but you are strong. Help me to turn my face toward Your all-knowing, all-powerful wisdom, care, and mercy. And bring my girlfriend back to faith in You. Please. Amen.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Wild Rose in the Ditch

I was walking Fred along the outerbelt road to I-26 next to a big ditch.  That's when I spotted the little pink rose in among all the weeds and trash. It reminded me of what I feel like in my life at times. 
I talk too much. 
I'm undisciplined. 
I don't have any best friends. 
Repeatedly my words or actions have unintentionally hurt others.
I have to take Prozac.
I'm not a very good judge of character or choice-maker.
But every once in a while I am reminded that all the crazy parts that make up who I am, all the decisions and choices I've made, all the work I have done, actually does produce  a sweet little rose of blessing at times. 

At this time, I'm preparing for our ladies summer bible study at Shandon Baptist. It will be based on Andy Stanley's sermon series: Time of Your Life. I'm trying to create a Guided Study to go along with it. One of the things I'm considering is the lives of different women in the bible, the choices they made, and how history remembers them. For example, Ruth was just a poor Moabite widow--yet she made a huge impact on history--her faithfulness is remembered as the foundation for King David's family heritage. Esther was a displaced orphan refugee, and her choices saved her entire race  from attack. Naaman's wife's servant maid pointed him to God. She was just a slave, but she's recorded as being a blessing for all of history to read about. I'm just a school teacher, married to a farmer/deacon/Sunday school director.
Being faithful to God in the little things is bound to produce opportunities of being a blessing to others. We don't know what the future holds, we don't know who we might influence, but we do know our days are numbered, so we might as well start buckling down now and make some wise choices. In the midst of all the crazy world we live in, we might just produce a sweet wild rose.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Time of Your Life: Small Deposits

I've been listening to Andy Stanley preach on the topic "Time of Your Life." It is a wonderful series. In the 3rd lesson, he said something that hit me a little deeper--he said that if you need better discipline, the Bible calls that SELF CONTROL.
Some big questions to consider:
What is the biggest obstacle to your self control?
What are you willing to do about it?
**Small deposits of time over time is how you redeem your time.
Encouraging Verses:
Be very careful then, how you live--not as unwise, but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore, do not be foolish but understand what the Lord's will is. Eph. 5:15-17 TNIV

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Stop the Madness, Make a New Plan

In my quiet time today, I have been reading 2 Samuel 20. It is the time when David's son Absolom had revolted against the king and was killed. When David returned to Jerusalem, a wicked Israelite leader named Sheba denounced King David and led the Israelite army away from "bringing David back to Jerusalem". David sent Joab and his army to hunt Sheba down and squash the dissension. When Joab and David's army reach the city of Abel Beth Maacah, they begin to siege it. It is the next part of the story I finding interesting.

While the army is attacking Abel, a wise old woman takes charge.  She calls out of the city to talk to Joab. After telling him that Abel is a peaceful and reliable city, she asks Joab why he would destroy God's legacy there. Joab responds that he only wants Sheba. The wise old woman gets the leaders of the city to kill Sheba and throw his head over the city wall to prove it. The army goes home. The city is saved. Done. And we didn't even get to learn the wise woman's name. It is a shame.
Here is what is interesting. I teach middle schoolers every day. Repeatedly I see kids accidentally knocking into one another, jumping to conclusions, getting in each others spaces, coming to the defense of their friends, trying to save face in the midst of the violence, and on and on. Hormones spike, yelling explodes, and tears fall. If we are lucky, a physical altercation gets avoided . . . but not always.
Fast forward 35 years. Adults jump to conclusions, misunderstandings cause pain, emotions get hot, tears fall, sleepless nights stewing over all sides of the sticky occasion don't help, either.
Sometimes it is a good idea to take a lesson from a page in history. Stop the madness. Be like the wise old woman. She didn't cry out for mercy.  She made a plan. She made the attacker think about his consequences when she asked him if he was willing to destroy God's legacy in that city as the price of attaining his goal. She weighed the options--continue to be attacked/destroyed or sacrifice a little (provide refuge for someone who had sought her help) and make a deal for the big plan of peace.
How often do I get caught up in nitty-gritty misunderstandings, false accusations, crazy conclusions drawn from insecure thoughts? A Lot. How much pain and destruction does it cause? A Lot. Why can't I learn from the wise old woman of Abel: stop the madness and make a new plan?
Lord, help me to recognize when I am driven by my insecurity and jumping to false conclusions. Help me to take a step back and realize that everything people do around me isn't ABOUT me. Help me to think of others and try to see things from their perspectives. Help me to not take everything so personally. Help me to devise a plan to communicate my needs, accomplish my goals, and help others reach theirs, too.
Image: The Jerusalem Post Copyright © Tel Abel Beth Maacah Excavations 2013

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Perspective Determines My Operation

This morning in my quiet time, I read 1 Samuel 25. It is the story of David, on the run from Saul, when he camps out in the wilderness and asks for help from Nabal. Nabal, the fool, insults  David and refuses to offer hospitality to him, even though David protected Nabal's men and thousands of sheep/goats while in the fields. David reacted with violence, he gathered 400 men to attack Nabal's home. 
Enter the picture: Abigail. Wow, what a woman! So many lessons to be learned by hearing about her! What her husband Nabal considered a threat, she considered an opportunity. When he cursed, she blessed. When he sat on his butt and threw a feast for himself, instead of enjoying the party, she got busy and supplied a variety of foods for David and his 600 men. 
It is amazing to me that 2 people can have such differing perspectives and interpretations of circumstances. 2 perspectives--2 outcomes.
Growing up with the mindset involving lack of discipline is a totally different attitude than being intentional with my time, my diet, my fitness, and my goals (at work and at home). I am so attracted to friends who push themselves (and me) to get the hard work done before having a seat. I WANT to be more like that, but in the moment, I often revert back to my lazy, lethargic, comfortable ways. I most often make the weaker choice--the Nabal choice. 
Reading the story of Abigail's wisdom and actions is a great reminder to me that my perspective determines my operation, my industry, my outcome, my success. I want to be a blessing. But first I need to get a vision for what that looks like in all areas of my life. I need to get organized and set goals. I need to practice making healthy choices--until it becomes my new forever norm. I suppose it will take months and years to do this.  It has taken nearly 50 years to become the happy-go-lucky, come-what-may, enjoy the moment kind of woman that I am. It will take effort, sweat, and perhaps a few tears to become the better me.
I'm in. Let's do this thing. I'm ready.
Hebrews 12:11 All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness. (NASB)

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Ruth Made Her Choice

This morning in my quiet time, I read the story of Ruth. Before today, I never pondered her perspective when making the choice to leave Moab. Her family, traditions, culture, religious beliefs--everything she grew up knowing--was in Moab. I understand that when she married a foreigner, she was committing to him for life---but his life was gone, now. 
Ruth chose to go with Naomi--her mother-in-law, a foreigner, without a man to protect and provide, they would be homeless, away from her family, an outcast. But she chose to do the hard thing. She chose a strenuous path over the comfortable path. She chose to take care of Naomi instead of just looking out for her own interests. 
The Bible says in Ruth 2: 11-12 Boaz answered her, "I've heard all about you--heard about the way you treated your mother-in-law after the death of her husband, and how you left your father and mother and the land of your birth and have come to live among a bunch of total strangers. God reward you well for what you've done--and with a generous bonus besides from God, to whom you've come seeking protection under his wings." (The Msg)
I never noticed the last line--"God, to whom you've come seeking protection under His wings."
Ruth wasn't just taking care of Naomi, she was seeking God's protection.
How can I apply this example to my life? All throughout the story of Ruth, she chose the harder paths over the comfortable--leaving comforts of home and family, taking care of elderly M-I-L, working in barley fields during harvest. 
And I'm just a fat American, sitting on my butt in my big easy chair with a computer in my lap. I don't even have the consistent discipline to exercise and eat healthily. 
Lord, help me to be more like Ruth--to be able to make hard, disciplined choices in all areas of my life, and to seek protection under Your wings. On the outside, I understand the concept of being faithful in the little things before being given opportunity/responsibility of bigger things. 
Today, may I be faithful and disciplined in the little things. May I chose the hard path. Lord, transform me, use me, and shelter me when it is stormy.
Encouraging Verse:
Eph. 5:8 "for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light" (NASB)


Saturday, April 2, 2016

LuoPads: Step-By-Step How To Guide

LuoPads are the washable/reusable sanitary pads being shipped overseas to women in less fortunate circumstances than we privileged Americans. I first learned about them when my husband traveled with a team from our church to South Sudan last year. Partnering with Global Aid Network (GAiN), our team delivered a box of LuoPads to a group of pastor's wives in Juba, S. Sudan--and the women went crazy with joy!  Ululations, Clapping, Cheers!  Excitement grew with the possibilities of using these when reaching out to the women in the bush.
I set out to learn how, make some, and get some friends to join in!
I used GAiN's website to get all the information I could:
The vision Behind LuoPads video will bring you to tears:

  The Vision Behind LuoPads from Global Aid Network (GAIN) USA on Vimeo

And there is a video explaining how to sew them, too!
How to Make LuoPads from Global Aid Network (GAIN) USA on Vimeo.

Because sewing LuoPads is a little bit complicated, I've made a step-by-step pictorial instruction guide to SUPPLEMENT the GAiN website instructions and videos. The website gives specific tips and instructions for raw materials needed and templates for cutting out the materials. I just had so many questions and had to SEE it for myself, each step of the way.

One problem I ran into is that the template itself, when printed as a pdf doesn't exactly match the measurements listed (9.75 in. long for flannel).

Depending on who is printing out the material for your pattern, you need to make sure that the size towels you are using fit the size flannel you are using! Which is better? There is no right answer.  Women need different "size" pads at different times in their cycles. When I ship a completed bag of pads (6 pads, 2 pair underpants, washcloth, safety pins, etc.), I mix up the different sizes on purpose so the recipients will get a variety.
For thick towels, I use 2 towels of thickness, for thin towels/washcloths, I use 3 towels. (I try to use as much towels as I can fit under my needle.) Then I like to baste my towel layers together so they don't slide around when sewing to the flannel. I "assembly line" my towels and stitch them end-to-end to get the job done quickly.  This is also a great job to give to a beginner who doesn't sew much, but can do a straight line!

Next step is to sew the towels to the Wrong side of one piece of flannel. Sew down the middle and around the edges of the towel.
It should look like this from the back. 

Now place Right Sides Together of the flannel. Pinning them together is a good idea.

When you sew the right sides together, you have to leave a 2-inch opening to be able to pull the whole thing through inside-out. I prefer to leave my opening on one side.  Many women prefer to leave one end open.  Either way will work fine.

Once you have sewn a quarter inch around the outside, it is a good idea to check your stitches--just in case the two pieces of flannel weren't exactly the same size. You may want to notch the inside corners and trim excess fabric--especially where the snaps will be later on.  Take the time to TRIM the wings so that they aren't too bulky when trying to add snaps later on.
Next, it is time to turn the pad inside-out. Many women use chopsticks or a skewer to help push out all the inside edges.


The next step is to top-stitch it all the way around. You will need to pin your opening closed.  It is fine to just machine-stitch over the opening--you don't have to hand-stitch the window closed.  For the top stitch, just go all the way around the border of the pad--staying close to the edge.  Then, with the needle still in the top of the pad, you can sew right down the middle of the pad and make one last trip around the edges of the towel inside to secure everything together.

It should look something like this.


But now you should take a good look ALL over your stitching to make sure you don't have any gaps. You might have to zigzag over a missed or frayed edge! This usually happens in an inside corner! (I had to "fix" about 30% of the pads sewn at our first ladies sewing party. You know what they say, "A stitch in time, saves nine.")

At this point, you are done with the actual pad! If you ship your pads to the warehouse in Pennsylvania--details on the GAin website--they will add the snaps for you and ship them to women in a variety of countries!
Here is a bag full--ready to be snapped!! There are some awesome ladies out there!!

For those of you who have the KamSnaps and tools (size 20mm), here are the instructions. Warning: it takes a firm grip to squeeze the KamSnap tool. (Once again, after our first sewing gig, I had to remove/repair about 30% of the snaps that had been done. The snaps just fell off after the first unsnapping! In addition, snaps that were done incorrectly had been torn apart--ripping the material. More tips on repair, later!)

First you must poke a hole at the edge of the "wings".

There is a "male" part and "female" part that have to snap together, so you'll need to think about which side you are putting the snaps in on. My tip is that there should only be one finished back of the snap showing when the pad is laying on the table. (One snap faces one way, the other faces the other direction.)


Place the back of the snap into the disc. The male and female snap parts go where the rubber presser is. You really must have a firm grip when you squeeze that KamSnap tool!  I squeeze it about 4 times!

Once you get the snaps on, it is time to CHECK YOUR SNAPS! (I sound like a math teacher, here!) I snap and unsnap 3 or 4 times to make sure they are on good and tight. (Did I mention that I had to re-do about 30 of them??)  It just happens. 
Here is the trick for removing a snap that is broken or put on the wrong direction: I use an OLD hot glue gun. I heat that bad boy up, set it on the snap, and wait for it to melt. I promise you, this will save you from ripping those pads apart with pliers trying to get the bad snaps off!!! 

Here is the finished product:

The snaps hold it discreetly together when not in use. When they ARE being used, the snaps go underneath the underpants--holding the pad in place!  It is amazing!

Pretty soon,  you'll have a box of LuoPads ready to send overseas! 

We are sending ours to women from South Sudan . . . even those who are in refugee camps in Uganda waiting out the war.

For our next sewing dates at Shandon Baptist in Columbia, South Carolina: