Welcome to my blog! To get an idea of what this blog is about you might want to read the "About Me and My Family" page as a starting point. You can browse through the archives or head over to the "Articles" page to read on specific topics I've written on over the years. Keep checking back because I'll be posting new articals from time to time.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Learning of God's Abundant Mercy: Part 2

That evening when Natalie read her Bible, her mind kept wandering. The words on the pages before her seemed so boring. She turned to several different chapters, but each one seemed so familiar and meaningless. "Why should God forgive me? You don't just ignore a friend and expect them to treat you like you didn't do anything wrong. I've ignored God so many times I don't deserve to be drawn back."

Frustrated with her own sins, she closed her Bible and walked out of her room. Plopping down on the couch beside her brother, she watched him and their dad play a game of chess. She never did understand why they like the game so much. She thought it was to mind boggling to be fun. But some how Brandon and her dad never found the game uninteresting.

As she starred at the board game, unconscious of what she was seeing, she suddenly remembered something she meant to do. Getting up off the couch she went to her room and looked through her desk dower. Her dad's birthday was the next day and she had make him a special card. "Oh, where is it? Ah, there it is," she whispered. She took the card and slipped into her parents room which was right across from hers. Her dad's worn Bible was on the night stand where it usually lay. Careful as a mother holding her baby, she placed the card inside the leather cover. As she did so a yellow piece of paper caught her eye. In big letters the words were written, "The Fathers Gift to an Unworthy Son."

"That would apply to me," she thought. Natalie felt relieved and almost happy when she realized there was hope for her. At that moment she realized how glad she would be to get back in fellowship with her Savior. She knew that God had put that paper there just for her.

Just then her brother' exclamation of winning the game of chess was heard from the living room. Remembering where she was, Natalie picked up the piece of paper and hurried out of her parent's room.

To be continued . . .

Monday, June 29, 2009

Learning of God's Abundant Mercy: Part 1

Originally published in 2006

"I've done it again.. I haven't prayed, read my Bible or had any fellowship with God today. Just two days ago I was in perfect fellowship with Christ and I had such joy! Why do I have no desire to talk to Him today? Why does my desire to serve the Lord only last for a few weeks at a time?"

As Natalie washed the supper dishes she tried to think of an answer to the questions that lingered in her mind. Natalie felt like she had failed her Savior again. "Again," she thought. "How many times have I done this same thing- and how many more times will I do it? IT seems like all I do is ask God for forgiveness and start all over again, yet I don't get any farther than before." In the background of her thoughts she could distinctively hear her sister making a loud racket.

"Mom" she called, "can you ask Hailey to stop banging on the piano?"

Mrs. Andrews, pausing in the middle of her cross stitching project, looked at her daughter and cocked her eyebrow. Her ever watchful eyes had seen the aggravated look in her daughter's eyes several time that day and she had heard the same snapping tone come out of her mouth more than once. "I've noticed you not being very patient today" she said. "Never mind about Hailey. You've been inside almost all day and I think it would do you some good to get out of the house. I'll finish the dishes while you go milk the goat."

Natalie, although glad for the chance to be by herself, felt ashamed for the way she had been acting. With downcast eyes Natalie dried her hands, picked up the milk bucket, and walked out the back door. "There's another thing I did wrong today: I'm being impatient. This has been a miserable day."

To be continued . . .

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

You are What You Think You Are

A few weeks ago mama sent me the link to an article based on the verse out of Proverbs 23, "As a man thinketh in his heart, so he is." Since that day I have went back to this post twice and have thought about it more than any other article I've read in a long time. It reminds me of the scripture my youth pastor use to quote all the time, "Through desire a man, having separated himself, seeketh and intermeddleth with all wisdom." Proverbs 18:1. God will not force us to stay in His will, so we have to be determined to serve God. We have to make up our mind that we are going to do what is right even when it isn't easy. We have to constantly guide our heart in the right direction. We have to build that desire and consciously separate our self away from worldly things and thoughts. God doesn't change. Therefore, He will always be worthy of our praise and service.

"For I am the LORD, I change not . . ." Malachi 3:6

"For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's." 1 Corinthians 6:20

Sunday, June 21, 2009

The Desire of an Eight Year Old

Since I have been in the piano playing mood lately I thought I would share my story with y'all of how I got started. Just for the record: I like to play the piano more than I like to sing! If it came down to it, I would much rather play the piano in front of a large crowd then sing a solo in front of a small one.

It all started when I was eight years old. I distinctly remember hearing my pastor's wife sing, "Sweet Holy Spirit" while she played the piano. I also remember that she was the only one in the church who could play the piano for herself to sing. Everyone else used a tape. (That was before CD's came out!) Mama said that I went to her and daddy and told them that I wanted to learn how to play the piano so that I could sing in church. My parents realized that this could be a passing whim, so they didn't act upon it right away, but told me to pray about it. I obviously didn't give up because soon my parents were looking for a piano!

They came across a lady who wanted to sell her daughter's piano since she had moved out and never came back for it. The lady wouldn't give my parents a price but told them to "take it home, get it tuned, and see what you think." Meanwhile I was spending the night at a friend's house I had no idea that a piano was being moved in to our living room! Then next morning at church mama told me there was a surprise waiting for me at home . . . even some of our church family knew about it because I still remember Bro. Kelly telling me that "You're really going to like your surprise!" The suspense was eating me up! On the way home I told them that I was going to go to my room and close my eyes so that they could just put it in my lap. I was clueless!

When I walked in the front door of our house and saw the piano sitting against the wall I was happy to the point of tears! I couldn't believe I had my own piano!

Soon I started taking lessons from a preacher's wife, I was 9 years old by this time. I loved learning and some people said I learned fast, especially when it came to hymns!

When I was 11 years old the piano player in our small church left to go to another church leaving me to be the only piano player. I only knew 4 hymns, but that was a lot better than singing without music, so we sang those songs until I learned new ones . . . which was pretty fast. Within a year I had learned over 100 songs and was even playing for the youth chior! It was starting to become very evident that God had a speacial plan for me. A plan that involved the piano and singing.
I am still amazed at how God used a small desire that he placed in my heart while I was eight years old to do such a work in my life. I am a very shy person and at first glance many would be surpized to hear how often I have to get in front of people to play the piano and sing. Being active in music has helped my self confidence that otherwise may not even exsist had it not been for the piano. When I feel like giving in to my embarassment and quit playing the piano in church God always reminds me that this talent belongs to God and I have no right to quit.

Over the years God has opened up many doors for me and my brothers and sisters to sing and play the piano in church and nusing homes. Sometime I love it, other times I come just short of vowing to never set hands on the piano again! But overall I have a passion for music that will always stay with me. Some day I hope to give piano lessons (besides me brother and sisters who I already teach) so that I can share my love to play the piano for God with others. Who knows, maybe someday I will be an inspiration to a little child which may be the beginning of a life lived for the glory of God through the piano. That would be the most wonderful accomplishment of all!

A Love For Singing

My memories of singing in a youth choir goes back to as far as I can remember anything. Mama has told me many times about the first time I probably sang in the choir when I was only 3 or 4. She said I decided I wanted to get up there with the other kids to sing. After I got in front of the whole church everyone started to smile at "little Jennifer" and I imagine they were all saying "Awww! How cute!" I was so embarrassed that I pulled my dress up over my face not realizing I was showing my undergarments and stomach! As you can imagine, the "Aww!"s turned to laughter! Fortunately, that didn't stop me from singing!
But the memories I always go back to are of the days we sang with Mrs. Carol. She and her family loved to sing and they did a pretty good job at it too. She always seemed to enjoy teaching us and chose fun songs that had a great message. Her husband, Bro. Timmy, would sometimes jump in on the choir practice and give us some advise . . . and a few threats! I'll never forget the time he told us that if we didn't smile while we were singing he was going to call on us to testify. That scared me to the point that I smiled bigger than anyone else in the whole youth group! But he didn't just leave us with that, he told us how important it was for us to smile and that if we smiled our singing would sound so much better.
From then on I've always sang with a smile. I did it then because Bro. Timmy told me too, but now I do it because I love to sing! I've learned that it's not important that kids learn the different parts or they sound perfect. All God asks for is a joyful noise, not necessarily a perfect one.
Now Bro. Timmy and Mrs. Carol are gone and I haven't found a youth choir that I enjoy as much as that one. But we are still singing. The love they placed in my heart (and hopefully my siblings') will last for a long time - hopefully forever.
Recently God has shown me that it is now my responsibility to not just teach other children how to sing, but to give them a love to sing. This doesn't mean that I'm going to start a youth choir next week or even in the coming months, but some day God may give the the opportunity to do so. I've already started with my siblings, and I may be unconsciously planning seeds in other's hearts now by simply showing them how much I like to sing to my God.
Through this God showed me that God doesn't always require you to serve him in a way that will take you out of your comfort zone. He gives us talents for a reason. My talent lies within making joyful noises to the LORD so I hope I can use it for Him in many ways!
"Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands! Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing." Psalms 100:1-2

Friday, June 19, 2009

Jesus, Only Jesus

By John R. Rice
I walked the path of pleasure
I toiled for earthly treasure
But peace beyond all measure
I found in only Jesus.
My boasted goodness failed me
No cure for sin that ailed me
God's Spirit then prevailed me
To leave my sins on Jesus.
God's word I long resisted
His Spirit called insisted
Rpenting I I enlisted
With Jesus precious Jesus.
Oh Christ for love unceasing
For blessing e'er increasing
For all my fears releasing
I praise and love my Jesus!

My sins are all forgiven
The Chains of sin are riven
And all my heart is given
To Jesus only Jesus!

Picture of Bethany's sunflower.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Turning Back the Pages of Time

When I was 11 years old I started my first real diary. After keeping one for a few years I became a very dedicated journal-writer, sometimes writing every day. This past year I haven't written as much because I am busier and (truth be told) I don't always like to be accountable for the thoughts I am thinking (since I have always tried my best to be honest with my diary).

Tonight I pulled out one of my old diaries, one I started when I was 15 years old. While I was reading the accounts of fun times at camp or at church, I wished I could relive those moments. Moments when everyone seemed to be my friend, church was great in my eyes, I was always at home away from worldly influences, and yes, love was in the air! (Or at least I thought so in my little 15 year old mind!)

But then I read about the mistakes I made, the attitude that I tried to believe I didn't have, and the "big" worries I couldn't get past. I started to have second thoughts about living those years over again! Maybe being a teenager once is enough!

As I kept reading I was reminded of things I hadn't thought about in a long time. One of the biggest blessings was reading the song I use to love called, "Only Jesus." It was a song I learned while I was at Bible camp the year before. I had went back to this song many times when I was having troubles in my spiritual walk and got a lot of encouragement out of it.
Reading about the more care-free days gone by made me remember how nice it was not to have a lot of worries. It makes me want to let go of some things that aren't in my control and simply live my life for God day by day. No, we can't really turn back the pages of time and relive them . . . but we can remember them and learn from them!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Experiencing the Goodness of God

When God blesses . . . nothing seems impossible!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

My Man

My man. When you hear those words I'm sure lots of things come to your mind, namely, what you want in your man. Doesn't every girl have a list of desires they want in their future husband? Things like Christian, handsome, kind, tall, gentleman, romantic . . . we could go on and on! Whether you want to admit it or not, all of those things are probably what you really do want! Who doesn't want a handsome husband?

As for me, I made my "list" when I was 12 years old! Underneath the title "What I want in my Prince Charming" I wrote 23 requirements or dreams that I hoped my man would have. Some of them are very reasonable such as
  • loves God
  • not lazy
  • faithful to church
  • wants lots of children
But then there are some that aren't quite as reasonable, like "never forgets our anniversary"! I'm starting to think that finding a man who will remember our anniversary isn't quite that important. : )
Lately I've come to realize just how important it is to have those "wish lists". It was fun to think about what we wanted in a husband when we were younger because they seemed reachable. Finding a godly husband didn't seem impossible back then because we had so much time. But when we turn 18, 20, or even 23, we start to get a little desperate. We start thinking that maybe our standards are too strict or our wish list is too conservative. It is especially hard when we are around attractive men who don't meet our requirements. Flattery can be very tempting to accept from the opposite gender when you've never been given that kind of attention, even if that man isn't a Christian.
So today I thought I would write about what should be on those wish lists. (That was just the introduction!) These inspirations were given by God during a sermon my pastor preached a few months ago.
Prayer Warrior
Our first example is Daniel. One of the things he is known for is his prayer life. In the Bible we can read about the time prayer was banned from the city except for prayer directed to king Nebucanezar. (Banning prayer from the schools is nothing new! They were banning prayer way back then as well.) Daniel could have been fearful for his life and prayed in secret, but he wasn't afraid . . . or at least he didn't show his fear. He continued to pray three times a day in front of everyone unashamed! A husband like him will always go to God when our family has needs or hard times come. We should desire a husband who is a mighty prayer warrior like Daniel.
Protective Father and Husband
I think we can all agree that Noah was very protective. When God told him to build an ark, Noah obeyed and took his family with him. He separated himself and his family from the wicked world and spared not just their life, but also their spiritual life. Of course, it was God who actually spared them, but Noah played a big part in the picture by being obedient. Make sure you marry a man who will protect your family from the harm of this world!
Obedient to God
Abraham was tested by obedience like no other man I've read about in the Bible. When God told him to move away from his family - he did it. When God told him to sacrifice his son- he was going to do it until God spared him from such pain. This is a hard thing to ask for in a husband! Sometimes I'm not so sure if I want a husband who is that obedient! I don't expect God to tell me or my future husband to kill one of our children, but God could really test our obedience and we really should obey. All joking aside, I want a husband who is very obedient to God's word.
Okay, I'm not talking about muscles or the ability to carry heavy sacks of feed on his shoulder (although it would be nice to have such a strong husband!) I was thinking more along the lines of strength of spirit. The man who comes to mind is Job. He was strong! After loosing everything - children, cattle, servants, his income, health - he worshipped God! He didn't give up, he didn't stop serving God, he kept on fighting the good fight! Everyone goes through trials in life, having a husband who knows how to make it through them will be a blessing you could never thank God enough for! We need a husband like Job.
These are just a few of the many characteristics we find in the Bible. We could name many more, but for now I think these will do. If you really desire to marry a man who is pleasing unto God you can dig in to the Word of God and find out what God wants for you and your husband.
And finally I'll leave you with a verse that has encouraged me for a long time.“Trust in the LORD and do good. . . Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.” Psalms 37:3-4 For after all, our desire should not be to marry the perfect man, but to marry the man who God has ordained perfect for us. Now that's my kind of man!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

The Renshaw Family

I love hearing the Renshaws sing! Their music is touched by God and is always a blessing! I thought I would share one of my favorite songs they sing. I couldn't get the embedded code to work so you'll have to click on the link below to hear them. I hope you enjoy them just as much as I do!

Wedding Day in Heaven.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Happy to be Me?

"The thing that is really hard, and really amazing, is giving up on being perfect and beginning the work of becoming yourself." — Anna Quindlen

"Almost every man wastes part of his life in attempts to display qualities which he does not possess, and to gain applause which he cannot keep." ~Samuel Johnson, The Rambler, 1750

A few months ago I met a man my parents have known for a long time. I knew him when I was young, but it was so long ago that I cant' remember him. This man really sticks out from the rest of the crowd because he is different. Some might think he is different in a bad way, but others love him for who he is and over look some of the odd things about his personality. I am one of those people who like him even though he isn't like most people. He is very nice, easy to talk to, fun to be around, stays active in his church, and loves God. But what I love most about him is the way he has accepted who he is. It really encouraged me to be myself.

I don't think I can say I want to change myself so that I am accepted by others or so I can gain man's applause, rather I wish I were different so that I could have more fun. I am so quiet and so unsociable that I usually don't enjoy big gatherings unless I know the people very well and I have been around them for a long time. Unfortunately there aren't many people like that in my life who I am comfortable around. So I usually stay to myself and watch everyone else have a good time. (Sometimes I wonder if this will hender me from finding a man I can talk to!)

But you know what? That is who I am! God did not create me to be a social butterfly and I am exhausted from trying to be one. I still wish I could talk to anyone with ease and jump in a crowd of people and have fun, but the awkwardness is still there and I don't know if I will ever overcome it. My timid spirit simply will not go away. So instead of getting discouraged about myself I am going to try to accept who I am . . . even if it mean dying an old maid! : )

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

A Gift in a Jar!

This past Sunday our church recognized our graduates. Our pastor charged them from the word of God and then we had lunch afterwards. We gave a gift to one of the girls who had just graduated from high school. Mama bought ever thing and I did the decorating! (I had the fun job!)

I got this neat idea from A Day in the Life of Gina. I think hers turned our a lot cuter, but mine does have a nice different look. I decided to use brown instead of black because of the Hershey bars. One of the things that makes this so much fun is all the possibilities! There are so many colors, ribbons, scrapbook paper, and rain dots to choose from! Over all, it is a fun, easy, and afordable gift to put together!