{Ministry Mom} Worth More Than Diamonds

MandyWritten by: Mandy Lawrence-Hill

….worth far more than diamonds. (Proverbs 31:10 MSG)

The definition of worth is: “the level at which someone or something deserves to be valued or rated.

Our culture is insistent that we find our ‘worth’ in various ways. Where do you find your worth?

Do you find worth in your education? Perhaps you have a degree or two from a prominent university, framed and boldly centered on your office wall. Do you find your worth in your job? Maybe you’ve climbed the ladder and have worked REALLY hard to earn the position you possess today. Do you find your worth in a growing platform? Maybe you have double the number of fans on Facebook or Twitter as your competitors. Do you find your worth in your family? I’ll bet you are pretty proud of the hard-working husband and beautiful children you call your own. What about a car? A boat? Your hair? Your home? Your passion? Your talent? Your ministry? (Ouch)

Now, what if the very thing in which you found your worth was stripped away. Would you still be worthy?

What if you have none of these things? Does that make you worthless?

1 Peter 1: 3-7 says this: God has something stored up for you in heaven, where it will never decay or be ruined or disappear. You have faith in God, whose power will protect you until the last day. Then he will save you, just as he has always planned to do. On that day you will be glad, even if you have to go through many hard trials for a while. Your faith will be like gold that has been tested in a fire. And these trials will prove that your faith is worth much more than gold that can be destroyed. They will show that you will be given praise and honor and glory when Jesus Christ returns. (CEV)

Worth has nothing to do with anything you can possess or obtain in the physical sense. Nothing you can buy, earn or create on this earth will increase or decrease your worth. The value you feel in any of the things I mentioned above, or anything else other than God Himself will soon fade away.

It is only when you put your hope and faith in God, without reservation, without holding back, that your worth is far greater than diamonds, my friend.

Don’t settle for anything less.

{Ministry Mom} Living with Purpose.

By: Mandy Hill

Don’t you see that children are God ‘s best gift? the fruit of the womb his generous legacy? Like a warrior’s fistful of arrows are the children of a vigorous youth. Oh, how blessed are you parents, with your quivers full of children! (Psalm 127:3-4)

Family requires intentional effort.

Work schedules, school schedules, marriage, ministry, and just life in general can sometimes cloud our eyes from seeing the need to pour into these little lives we have been so beautifully blessed with.

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A few years ago now, husband and I sat down one cold day in January and really examined our priorities?! There were four things that needed special attention and we put our best efforts into prioritizing them well….our marriage, our family, our ministry and our finances were the things at the very top and we decided we needed to be more intentional about giving attention to them consistently. From these discussions birthed our “Family Fridays!”

Family Fridays started out at a local McDonalds play place. Every Friday night after my husband got off work we would head into the city and the kids would get a happy meal, play time on the jungle gym and the beloved McDonalds toy! More than that, they got their Mommy and Daddy’s undivided attention. This time was THEIR time. We have since, broadened our activities but the point is this time was devoted to THEM. I believe that it has been one of our best decisions as their parents.

I believe that our children are beautiful treasures from God himself. My husband and I want our children to know that they are worth so much more than co-existing in life with the same last name and blood type as us! They are fearfully and wonderfully made by the Almighty God and we are so excited for them to learn this. {For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. (Psalm 139:13-14)} We want them to know this not just because we have told them so; but because we have shown them so. Worth our time. Worth our efforts. Created BY God, for a great purpose.

How better to show them this than to give them our undivided attention and time on a consistent basis?

Father God, thank You so much for blessing us with our four beautiful treasures. I pray that You will help us to show them how much You love and value them by exemplifying a love like Yours. Please help us as we endeavour to raise our children in the way they should go; Your way. I pray for my sisters and their families….I know that life is crazy busy and that scheduling a whole day or evening where everyone’s schedules match can be difficult, but I also know it’s so important and worth it!! Help us to truly treasure our families in ways that honour You and bring You glory! I pray this in Your name, Amen.

{Turning tragedy into thanksgiving} Sophia's story |Part I|

Written by: Mandy Hill

It was the day before Christmas. It was 5am. It was the first day of my 32nd week of pregnancy.

…and I was in labor?

My shock absolutely outweighed my coherency that Christmas Eve. My pregnancy had been perfect up to this moment. I woke my husband and shared with him that I believed I was in labour, and we were soon on our way to the hospital.

Everything seemed to flow in a blurry hurricane after that. After a quick assessment in OB triage, we were whisked away to the high risk unit and a short two hours later our beautiful princess: Sophia Isabella-Diane, was born.

Christmas 2009, needless to say, became our most special Christmas to date.

Immediately following Sophia’s birth, she was taken to the NICU. My husband was not given the option to cut the umbilical cord. We did not even have a chance to lay our eyes on her, much less our hands. She was immediately assessed in the NICU, failing her APGAR test, and began monitoring by a 1:1 nurse/patient ratio. A couple hours after delivery we were brought in to meet our brown-eyed, blonde haired, beautiful little girl.

I do not remember experiencing fear or worry; not for even one moment. God was incredibly gracious to pour his peace into our lives in an abundance; not giving worry, doubt or fear a sliver of a chance to take root.

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After lunch on that Christmas Eve my husband began to make arrangements for others to fill in his responsibilities at our church’s Christmas Eve service that evening. (He’s a pastor) While he was making several phone calls, the neonatologist on duty at the NICU made his way over to my hospital room to see us. Again, we didn’t suspect there was any need to worry, so my husband actually continued with his calls and actually made the neonatologist wait!!! Little did we know he had come to see us to have us consent to her being intubated; because she was ‘simply working too hard to breathe on her own.’

For the next week she remained on the ventilator and we were only allowed to ‘see’ her. The odd nurse would encourage us to gently lay a hand on her back, but most encouraged us to refrain from any touch at all as it seemed to agitate her. Not being able to touch or hold your brand new baby for seven whole days after delivery is absolutely dreadful.

That first week was intense in many ways. Sophia endured many tests and procedures as they tried to pin point infections, and solve the mystery of her early and very sudden arrival. I was incredibly emotional as I watched the numerous pokes and prods being performed on this tiny blessing.

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Finally, on New Year’s Eve 2009, my baby girl was placed into my arms. That morning she was extubated, and after a few hours given for her to rest I was finally able to hold her. She was downgraded to CPAP, so the wires and cords were still plentiful, but I savoured every single moment of my time with her. My heart was still steady, and my faith was still strong in the God of miracles.

Some say it doesn’t rain, it pours.

We found this saying to be quite true during Sophia’s first few months. Mid-January, I woke up one morning with severe pain in my stomach. I saw a Dr. at a walk-in-clinic who diagnosed me with a UTI, however, we quickly decided it was much more than that. My husband ended up calling 911. After an ambulance ride and a few tests at the hospital; it was confirmed that my gall bladder was full of stones and I would need surgery in the next few weeks in order to prevent any more attacks from happening.

My husband also had medical issues of his own. While completing the painting of our daughters nursery one night, he too had a trip to the ER where he learned he had arrhythmia; a condition where the heart produces an irregular heart beat.

It seemed like every ‘storm’ was directed at us over those months….

Slowly but surely, our girl overcame many obstacles. More infections, more setbacks than my heart really new how to handle; but slowly progressing to the point where the management of the unit invited me to stay in one of the ‘care-by-parent’ rooms. She had moved from an isolette/incubator, to a crib (wire-free) and looked like a beautifully healthy baby! This was so exciting for us as we had come to learn that you were only invited to stay in those special rooms when your baby’s homegoing was near!

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The morning I was packing to stay overnight, I received a phone call from Sophia’s nurse in the NICU. She was calling to ask me to come in immediately because just a little earlier Sophia had coded during her feed. Say what?! My beautiful wire-free, ready-for-home baby girl CODED?! Her nurse informed me that she would be back in the isolette when I came in and that they had moved her to an area where she would be back to 1:1 care.

I think for a few short moments, I too, stopped breathing.

It was at this point in our journey that I allowed doubt, fear, and worry to slowly creep in. I remember thinking, “Will she ever get better? Will she ever come home?” I called my hubby and together we left for the hospital, unsure really of what to expect. On the way there I remember texting my dad and worriedly sharing my fears with him. “Just pray, Mandy. Don’t worry, pray.”

I tucked those words into my heart for the rest of the journey.

It was about three weeks after Sophia’s code that we brought her home from the hospital. We were being sent with an apnea monitor that would help us monitor her oxygen saturation from home. (She de-sated often).

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On the day of discharge Sophia also had a test on her bladder/kidneys called a VCUG. This test showed she had a grade three VUR (vesicouretal reflux). We were told that a hospital in London, Ontario (2 hours away) would be calling us with an appointment to see the paediatric urologist there. We spent a total of 51 days in the NICU. The doctors and nurses felt like friends now, but we were so excited for our friends and family outside the NICU to finally be able to meet our precious new daughter.

Just four days after we brought her home I noticed Sophia was starting to sniffle. We decided to stay in and cancel all our plans for the remainder of the week. On day five of us being at home from the hospital Sophia stopped breathing at home, turning a scary shade of icy blue. Terrified, we called our friends from the NICU and asked what we should do- they paged the on-call neonatologist and told us to meet him at the hospital. Minutes after the Dr. saw her we were being ushered back into the isolation part of the NICU. Sophia’s new diagnosis: RSV & pneumonia in both lungs.

Here we go again.

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Back at the NICU Sophia endured more tests and procedures. I was feeling so weary, in addition to feeling disappointed that our family was being separated yet again. I didn’t think I could handle watching this poor little girl endure one more thing; yet God supplied just the exact amount of strength I needed for each and every moment.

Finally, on my 26th birthday, after 11 more days in the NICU, moving our total days spent in the NICU up to 62; we were discharged. Again.

This time I was a bit neurotic about hand washing and who I allowed to touch/hold our daughter. Over-protective was an understatement! However, if I could help it, no more illnesses would be sneaking by me and targeting this new little one.

A few months later we headed to London to meet Sophia’s urologist…..

This is where I will need to end the story for now. Check back tomorrow for part II of Sophia’s story!

{Turning tragedy into thanksgiving} The Murray's story.

Written by: Scott Murray

Thanksgiving? ….Really?

“Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

“And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Ephesians 5:20)

Oct. 9th 2013, at the time, the worst day I could have imagined. Our 4 year old son Joey was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL). My wife; Doretta and I were devastated. Cancer is a scary word. Joey began treatment the next day and our journey had begun. We spent Thanksgiving weekend sitting in a hospital room as treatment went into full swing. We stood firm on God’s promises of protection, that He would never leave us, and that we are never alone, even in our darkest hours.

The darkest hours were still to come. October 16th, only a week after Joey was diagnosed, Doretta suffered a stress seizure and was hospitalized for a 2 weeks under sedation for observations. She woke up and had her breathing tube removed on October 30th. A few hours later I got a call that her airway had collapsed, unrelated to anything else. More tests were done over the following days, but Doretta was unable to recover. Tuesday, November 5th Doretta passed into the presence of God, and our world crashed.

What’s there to be thankful for when you youngest son has cancer, and your wife has passed away leaving you with 3 boys (age 11; 7; 4) to walk incredible and seemingly insurmountable grief? On the surface, nothing, there is nothing to be thankful for.

We are not called to live on the surface; I can not allow my circumstances to dictate my life. My response to my circumstances must come from my faith in God who still sits on the throne, and who has never left me for a moment no matter where I wandered over this last year.

It’s been dark, lonely, painful, frustrating, and crippling at times. Through it all God has been faithful. I’m thankful for the people that have crossed my path with encouragement, support, prayer & for the blessings that people have so graciously given to our family.

I’m thankful that there is a God who loves me and sees where I am at, who has strengthen me, brought depth to my faith, and given me the ability to regain my footings and the courage to take another step each day.

John 16: 31 Jesus asked, “Do you finally believe? 32 But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when you will be scattered, each one going his own way, leaving me alone. Yet I am not alone because the Father is with me. 33 I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.

You will face trials and sorrow, God is not to blame for this, yet He alone is the one that will stand with you when you can not stand on your own. Embrace Him and be held by Him until the time comes where you can walk again; and rest assured that time will come because He has overcome all things.

Joey continues treatment, and is now in the maintenance phase, meaning he now goes once a month for clinic procedures and maintains daily at home oral medication. He will conclude treatment in January 2017 and go on to lead a normal life.
You can follow our family, and Joey’s progress on our Facebook page; (www.facebook.com/joeystrong13)

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Scott Murray is a father, community leader, coach, pastor & mentor living in Ingersoll, ON with his family. He is strengthened by Faith; Family; Friends & Football, and as often as possible, in that order.

{BACK TO SCHOOL SERIES} Musings of an ‘unprepared’ teacher.

Written By: Rebecca Knock

“Preparation” is an interesting word. A definition of the word might include “preparing something or somebody: the work or planning involved in making something or somebody ready or in putting something together in advance” (Bing dictionary). As teachers we spend a lot of our time preparing. We prepare our classrooms to create a friendly environment for those first day jitters (myself included). We prepare activities that engage young minds and hopefully excite their natural inquisitiveness to learn more. We prepare ways to collect evidence of this learning. We prepare for successful communications between home and the classroom. The list really does go on. As a wife and a mother of two, my preparation extends to the needs of my family. Making meals for the freezer for those unexpected long days, preparing my children for daycare who have been used to mummy being home for the summer, coordinating babysitters for meet-the-teacher nights and my husband’s unpredictable work schedule. Life can seem overwhelming when I look at the ‘big’ picture; however, I have to remind myself that there is only so much I can put together in advance. There are many things out of my control. The further I walk down this amazing road of being a teacher the clearer this is becoming.

As a new teacher, positions that are available have been slim. In the last 3 years I have taught at least 26 different courses. Now if someone had asked me to prepare for all of those in my undergrad I would have thought they were joking but believe me I am not (and that number is still increasing)! It would have been ridiculous to try and ‘prepare’ myself for all of those courses at once. I would have become overwhelmed and my stress and anxiety levels would have been through the roof! I am only human and must remember to be realistic in my expectations of myself. If I was to reflect on the last three years I can look back proudly and say I did a good job. The evidence is in student progress, happy parents, supportive colleagues, a healthy family and my own sanity still intact. The work really does get done…somehow. The important thing is to keep things in perspective and this is what I don’t always do well. I can be a worrier. How am I going to write over 200 reports before my deadline with all my other responsibilities? How can I make this pay check last until the end of the month? With a little perseverance (and let’s be honest a few tears) everything works out. Even if it doesn’t quite look how I imagined it to initially look, the important thing is, it’s done.

It’s easy to focus on my own struggles, fears and concerns in life but this job will quickly teach you to become not so inwardly focused. The faces sitting in front of you also have their own stories to tell. Often I am the person that my students spend the majority of their day with. From 8:30am-3pm we are together. Most of my students would admit to me that when they get home they sit on their computer or in front of the TV (this is sad to me, but a rant for another day). The simple point is that unfortunately for our children the quality (and quantity) of time spent with some of the most influential people in their lives (their parents) is limited – small changes in a home such as sharing a meal together and having actual conversation (beyond “How was your day”) is so so important. Children ‘need’ very few things. Give a child good foods to nourish their bodies and minds, warmth and shelter and most importantly let them know they are loved and valued every day. Sadly, my few years in the classroom have taught me to always keep granola bars in my desk for my students who arrive without breakfast or a lunch, to always keep extra supplies for the students who might need them, to save old shoes and coats from my household and to have my classroom door open for that student who needs a ‘safe’ place to sit (and occasionally chat). That story of the child who is told they are stupid every day and dumped from couch to couch is not unfamiliar. Or the story of the child who is abused by his drug addict mom’s latest boyfriend. The child who looks after the younger siblings while their parents party all night. The student who “can’t talk to other students” because of a feud between their parents. Unfortunately these stories are not hard to come by. Do you know what these students look like in my classroom?

…me either. It could be any one of them.

How do I prepare for this? I don’t. All I can do is walk into my classroom everyday with an open heart. Demonstrate compassion and love for each and every one of them and figure out their needs as we continue through the school year. I try and remind myself that the outward behaviors I see may very well be due to an inward struggle. For example the child who is defiant in class and refuses to follow classroom rules may very well never have had any structure at home. Maybe they’re from a broken family or perhaps they are neglected at home and the only way they can figure out how to get an adult’s attention is by standing out of the crowd and causing a little chaos. Whatever it is it’s not up to me to judge but it’s up to me to love.

You’ll find there are many great people who are examples of this kind of love, compassion and empathy. The one I am reminded of the most, you’ve probably heard of him, Jesus. What a great example of how to treat other human beings. Did Jesus cast judgment on people before allowing himself to love them? Absolutely not. Who am I to judge who is more deserving? This is difficult to do. Sometimes I think I have it right and upon reflection I might have chosen to do or say something differently. The important thing is not to give up. Jesus didn’t. In fact isn’t He the ultimate example of perseverance? No matter what mankind threw at him he persisted on loving.

So as I prepare for this upcoming school year I think about my bigger picture. There are many small things that I can usually control. These are probably a good idea to be prepared for (I wouldn’t look very professional arriving to class without know what I was going to teach). But I also acknowledge there are things I cannot prepare for but be open for these things to happen. These are the ‘human’ aspects of my job. Be ready to love and help these incredible young people through this crazy journey called life. I have to be honest with myself; I am not perfect and will never claim to be. However, I am persistent. I am open to change myself and admit sometimes I get it wrong. With this said, I walk into this new school year with humble confidence. I can do this. I am prepared.

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Rebecca is a music teacher in the beautiful Annapolis Valley in Nova Scotia. Growing up in England Rebecca and her family immigrated to Canada in 2005. Since then she completed her BMus and BEd at Acadia university which is where she met her husband of 6 years, Aaron. Together they are raising 2 beautiful children, Ella (3 years) and Harvey (5 months).

{PASTORS WEEK} Please Stop Inviting People To Your Gatherings and Church Services.

Written by: Rev. Dave Sawler

I would like you to try something. Please stop inviting people to your church. This may seem like strange advice coming from a pastor who is trying to grow a church, but please hear me out.

Perhaps this piece of advice may even seem like a relief to you, as the idea of inviting your friends, neighbors, and family may have you terrified anyways. Just to let you off the hook even more, I am not sure that there is even anything in scripture instructing us to invite people to church services. Yes, of course there are verses that encourage believers to continue to meet, but what about those aren’t there yet?

What scripture does teach is that we are to make disciples. We. You. Me. Us. All. I believe this is a calling each one of us has. This thought alone may strike fear into your heart as you may be thinking, ‘I don’t know how to run a discipleship course’, ‘I don’t know a lot about theology’, or you may think that you are not the greatest example for people to follow. Well don’t worry, I don’t think you need to run out and do any of those things either.

Let’s look at a few verses in John 15. I believe the reason that you should not just invite people to church is clearly seen in it.

This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. This is my command: Love each other.’

This section of scripture definitely talks about us bearing fruit. It even brings the father glory when we do. However, there is another underlying theme that I hope you don’t miss. It resonates with another section of scripture found in 1 Corinthians 13:1 -7. It says, ‘If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing. Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.’

Before any church, or any person, begins to invite anyone to church event they need to ask, ‘What is my motivation?’ Just think about it for a moment, why are you inviting them to an event or gathering? If these scriptures teach us anything the underlying theme that is repeated over and over is this, ‘LOVE.’

In John 15 in the instruction we are given to bear fruit the words ‘love’ or ‘loved’ appear nine times. Without love there will be very little fruit, and very little fruit that lasts. A call to disciple people means being in contact with people. It means loving people.

What I do think we must consider is this, ‘Am I inviting someone to an event or into my life?’ Without a church inviting people into their lives, it is extremely empty and hollow. It is like you are a ‘noisy gong’, or in modern language, ‘you are simply annoying.’

What LOVE looks like in a Christian Family is ‘Adoption’. When someone comes into the family of God they are adopted by God and brought into His family. He becomes their Heavenly Father, and they become a son or daughter. However, do we want them as a brother and sister? Discipleship means we have to adopt people into our families not just send them to events.

Is this easy? No. However, if love is not at the centre we are totally missing the point. Many churches do not see long term growth, and many believers fail to make disciples for this one reason. We want to be involved with procreation but not involved with parenting.

Why? Because it seems like work. However, lets look at this from another perspective for a moment. When I was a teenager I remember seeing my sister, and others, babysit and they did one of the things I thought was the most disgusting thing in the world. They changed diapers. This may not seem like a big deal to you, but in my teenage mind the thought of changing a diaper and possibly touching someone else’s poo seemed like a horrible experience.

However, in one moment it all changed. In a split second I went from thinking I will never ever do this to changing diapers. Diapers filled with horrible things and very vivid smells. What happened? My son was born. When Matthew filled his diaper, my own flesh and blood, I did what I said I never would. Truthfully, it was not forced, it just happened. Why? Because he was my son.

When people become our family we will even put up with things that stink. We will put up with mess. We will live with imperfection. There is even joy in our labour. However, if they aren’t family we will never be motivated in the same way.

We are left with the questions, ‘will we adopt?’ ‘Will we invite people into our lives?’ If the answer is no, then please do not invite people to your events, gatherings, and church. Instead it may be time to ask God to give you His gift of love. A gift that can fill us with the compassion of Christ and the spirit of adoption.

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About Pastor Dave:
I am a husband to my wife Shirley. I am trying my best to raise my three kids which are now all teenagers and a young adult. I am presently the lead Pastor of Lighthouse Community Church in Glace Bay, Nova Scotia. My family and several people moved into the area almost six years ago to start a church planting ministry. On a personal side I have been an extreme sports fan and participant most of my life. I have been an active snowboarder and skateboarder for almost twenty five years. I have a few other hobbies like photography, video shooting and editing, and playing music. Feel free to check out more on Pastor Dave, HERE.

{Faith} ‘Look up from your phone.’

By: Mandy Hill

Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Colossians 4:5

I have never been the most responsible manager of my time. Pregnancy has somehow amplified this…. If I wake up in the morning feeling energized, I accomplish much. If I have all the time in the world, I tend to accomplish more. However, if I have a deadline…..I tend to accomplish very little.

It’s like that deadline creates a distracting pressure. Everything usually gets done in due time, but not without an inappropriate amount of stress.

I saw this YouTube video recently that spoke many volumes to my heart. You can watch it HERE. {**please excuse the one use of inappropriate language!}

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Am I best using my time? When I feel those pangs of guilt for putting off my deadlines, what is it that I’m doing instead? I’m afraid I’ve been caught up in the web of social media. Phones, iPads, Facebook, twitter etc. While social media does have it’s many advantages….if used too much, I am certain we will find ourselves missing out on some very important things in this life.

My husband and I have been scheduling important things like: weekly date nights, weekly family nights, and even time away from our family to be refreshed by something as simple as coffee at Starbucks, with a good friend. All are important; all are beneficial. But, I am challenged to do even more; to limit my daily time spent on phones, iPads, and social media to once daily. My kids, my husband, my friends, my spiritual life and my ministry are far more worthy of my time.

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I desperately want the people I’m so privileged to have in my life to see me as more than a robotic contributor to a Facebook status or popular tweet. These people deserve so much more than my ‘like‘, they deserve my love.

Did this video speak to you as well? I’d love to hear how it did! Please comment or email so we can actively pray for one another in every effort to make the best use of our time.

Dear gracious and Heavenly Father. Thank you for the reminder of the value in the people you have placed in our lives; in the here and now. I pray that you will forgive us for ill spent time on what’s not important; and help us as we endeavour to walk forward in making better use of our time. We love you so much and ask these things in your precious and holy name, amen.

{Parenting} Curses or Blessings?!

By: Mandy Hill

This is scary: You can tame a tiger, but you can’t tame a tongue—it’s never been done. The tongue runs wild, a wanton killer. With our tongues we bless God our Father; with the same tongues we curse the very men and women he made in his image. Curses and blessings out of the same mouth! (James 3:7-10)

I recently wrote about the power in our words.

It is true, isn’t it sisters? Our words carry a lot of weight. They truly have the power to completely change someone’s day for the better; for the good. Likewise, they also have the power to completely derail someone’s day; bringing pain and/or hurt.

I was thinking about this a few weeks ago as my husband and I were preparing to announce the news of our newest pregnancy. As I expected, a few asked questions or made comments such as:

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“Are you crazy?!”

“Wow. You are going to be so busy.”

“FOUR KIDS! Was this planned?!”

I found myself on the defence as I would hold my breath and brace for the reaction. I almost wanted to start by saying:

“We are not crazy, we are already busy, a good busy; and whether we planned it or not is of no consequence. We are expecting another baby!”

The Lord quietly spoke to my heart one morning after we had posted our news on Facebook. What others say about this blessing can not steal away our joy; unless we allow them to.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.” (Galatians 5:22-25)

I suppose in those moments I realized how unproductive my resistance towards those with hearty opinions about my pregnancy truly was. Granted, although I still wished everyone had nice things to say (or nothing to say at all), I heeded the fact that a tongue can not be tamed.

If I want to see a change however, I can commit to making every effort to bless others with my tongue whenever I receive an opportunity to do so.

Will you choose to do the same?

Father God, thank You for Your countless blessings and miracles. In particular thank You for the miracle of new life growing within my womb. I pray that You will bless every moment of this pregnancy and use it as a testimony to Your faithfulness and beautiful healing power. Thank You for allowing us to be a part of such a joy-filled time; please also keep us mindful that our joy comes from You and You alone. I ask that You will grow our confidence and security in the fact that You are our source. Thank You, Jesus. Amen.

{Parenting} Do you believe?

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by Cindy Morrone

We were reading and learning about obedience and looked to two examples in the Bible. Jonah’s example of disobedience (book of Jonah) and how the Lord dealt with him. And then we looked to the story of obedience shown by Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego (found in the book of Daniel) and God’s miraculous protection and deliverance for them.

Swallowed by a “great fish” (Jonah 1:17)? Thrown into a fiery furnace escaping without even smelling like fire (Daniel 3:27)?

Could it be true? Do you believe?

I asked my precious ones these very questions.

The responses were not the same but both were laced in childlikeness. There was a wanting to believe but as their growing minds wrapped around these ideas there was a check with their reality. Had they ever seen someone swallowed by a big fish and then be vomited up onto dry land? (Jonah 2:10) Had they ever experienced such danger as to not be harmed?

They asked, “Do you believe, Mama?”

I answered the only way I knew how…..”yes.”

Another question, “How do you know Mama?”

“Because I have experienced His miracles for myself.” “You know Mama couldn’t have babies in her belly, but sitting right in front of me are two of His precious miracles!”

They both smiled; a deep smile; a solidification of faith.

Our God is personal, and I have experienced His workings in my own life. Workings that are miraculous! Our own family is living proof. Miracles happen even today as they did in Jonah’s, Shadrach’s, Meshach’s, and Abednego’s life time. Whether it is daily provision, a friend who knows it’s time to pray for you, healing or a barren woman with children.

I could answer with confidence because I know Him personally and all that He has done for me and I can’t help but share!

“Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” (John 20:30 & 31)

Dear Heavenly and Gracious Father,

I can’t help but praise You for all You have done for me! For showing me who You are! A Father to the fatherless, the broken hearted, the lonely, the desperate, the obedient and disobedient. You amaze me each and every day with Your love, grace and mercy! May Your Name be praised always! Help to open our eyes to Who You are and all You do for us; always! Jesus help us to teach our children Your ways and let their faith be their own; that is our heart’s greatest cry for them! We ask for wisdom, grace and mercy to exemplify You to our precious ones. We ask all these things in Your Son’s holy and precious name. Amen.

{Parenting} The Stuff that Matters

by Cindy Morrone

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“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” (John 13:34)

Preparing to leave my precious girlies for the weekend, I dove into ‘get ready’ mode. The preparations began months before with arranging their care. In the weeks before, I started to make sure necessities were taken care of, like the laundry being done and semi-cleaning the house. The night before I started to pack and make final arrangements. The day of, I collected the essentials and made the final preparations. My timing was good, I was ready and set to go.

Then my daughter handed me a little note. It read, “Mom & Papa. I love u: I miss u so much. Can u please by (buy) me something if u can if not that’s ok. I love u anway. I will miss you. I love u so very much.” Signed my daughter with affectionate exclamations!

Then it hit me! I hadn’t taken care of the stuff that really matters. Sure I had ensured the basics, but I hadn’t filled up her little heart before we left. I then remembered I usually left notes! So with God given time, I wrote each of them a letter for each night while we were away. I left an envelope with each of their names and the days they were to be opened on their night stands.

While putting our luggage in our vehicles to go my daughters were stalling. I had called to them in urgency our need to leave on time. Soon after they came with hands full of love letters to us! There were words and gifts of affirmation. Each present with instructions on when they were to be opened. Apparently, they had already seen the partially hidden notes! Obviously, our tradition mattered to them! Me too!!

I would love to hear your ideas on ‘loving on’ your family. Have you some special ways/ things that you do that have now become a tradition?

Dear Heavenly and Gracious Father,

Help us to love first! Help loving to be our priority for if we, “..seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:33) We ask for heartfelt ideas on how to show our families how much we love them; in ways that they can understand and cherish. Help us to make our love efforts habits that build on a heritage worthy of You! In Jesus’ name we pray! Amen.