Monthly Archives: November 2015

Suffering with a Loving God in Charge

Suffering

Our family has been watching the Disney show, “Best Friends Whenever”. Basically it’s about two friends who can time travel. The most recent show we watched had them travel and stop something from happening. But, when they returned to the present they found everything had changed. Good news, they were able to go back and fix the fix they did and they returned everything back the way it was.

Have you ever thought, “What if things didn’t go the way they did?” What would be different in your life? Would you have a different family or a different lifestyle? Would you be getting ready for a completely different sort of job? Would your faith be where it is now? Makes you stop and think doesn’t it? You might want to change something in  your life or not have experienced something, but think about what else might not be the same.

And so, the good news today is, if you’re suffering, you’re right where God wants you to be. Ok, maybe it doesn’t seem like good news, but it is. Why? Well, we just don’t know what else God has in store for us, so we have to trust Him on this. Speaking of trust, suffering also helps us grown in our faith, building our trust in God. Philippians 1:29 says, “For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him…”. Is this saying it is a privilege to suffer? Wow. Really this shouldn’t surprise us, after all, Jesus suffered the ultimate suffering for us. Our suffering is nothing compared to that.

But, it’s hard to suffer. So, what to do? Well, find some comfort from people who have been there. Trust Jesus and allow yourself to grow in your faith as you go through a trial and remember the resurrection as in 2 Corinthians 1:9. “Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.” Depend on God through suffering. Philippians 4:13 tells us, “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”  And don’t doubt that God is good when we suffer.

One thing for sure, don’t fool yourself into thinking you will take care of problems and be comfortable and then serve God. It will never happen. Something will always pop up to distract you from serving. You know who is good at that. Don’t let him win.

Instead suffer with the presence of God all around you. Take heart in the scriptures which say we must suffer. Rely on others to comfort you. Pray and then pray some more. Then serve whether you are weary or at the end of your rope. Find a way to shift the focus from you to Him. And then, you will see His glory all around you and know that He is in charge.

John 4:13 Good News at the Well

20151121_151727It is likely that as you go through different curriculum that you will end up doing the same story again. Nothing wrong with this, as the Bible is full of stories that kids (and adults) need to hear again so that it sinks in. So today, here is another craft for the woman at the well in John 4:13. (Here’s another option.)

Here it says, “Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

As I read through, it just gave me a visual of the water literally shooting up. We need to be that excited when we know Jesus. We need to be that dam bursting and telling other people. After all, that is what the woman at the well did. She went and told everyone about Jesus. Is that what we do? A great lesson for all.

20151121_151221For this craft you will need:

  • one paper per child John 4 13
  • one piece of skinny gray/brown paper for the well per child
  • crayons
  • tape
  • something to cover the table

It’s pretty easy to figure out. Let the kids draw stones on the paper and tape it together in a loop. Color the picture and then tape on the well on.

Just for fun, you could have the kids squat down and jump up like they are the water shouting, “Jesus is the water of life!” Have fun. If you need another idea for the woman at the well, remember to check this one out here.

God Can Use You Based on You

God Can Use You

Feel like you are falling a bit short this morning? Afraid that Billy Graham and Rick Warren might be a bit more spiritual than you? Well, stop those thoughts right there because God can use you based on you. He’s not comparing your talents or discipleship abilities against anyone else.

So, keep the idea of God being able to use you based on just you, as you read on about comfort. 2 Corinthians 1: 1-5 says beginning in verse 3, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” Oh boy, another verse telling us to take the focus off of ourselves and use something we have to help someone else. We need to take action. You know He says this sort of thing a lot because we need to hear it constantly.

Experiences of our lives don’t have to be wasted. They can be used to help someone else.  -PK

You might wonder why you have to go through something. The situation might test your faith, you might wonder ‘Why?’ a lot, or you find yourself at the bottom of bottom. God has given you this experience for many reasons. One, is so that you can be comforted by Him. God loves you. He gave us His word in the Bible so we can be comforted. And, if you look back, you will probably see that he sent you certain people at certain times to help you through.

Two, now that you have been through a particular situation, He wants to use YOU. Yes, plain, ordinary you. Your experience gives you special insight when someone else is going through the same thing. Whether it is a divorce, addiction, a loss of someone or even a job, you have the ability to comfort someone.

He might choose you to help another Christian or a non-believer. He wants you to love people the way Jesus did, so they can know His love. It is a beautiful cycle that He has created. So much time is spent tearing people down that when you swoop in with love, comfort, and encouragement, it is the hope that people have been looking for. God tells us in the verse above to do this. It says, “…so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God”. So do it!

That person who seems to talk all the time needs your comfort. They might be lonely, scared, or just need someone to listen to them and God has chosen you! That person who is battling sickness might be too tired to talk, but God has chosen you to sit by their side!That person who just lost their job and doesn’t know how to find another one might need some hand holding to get back on their feet. God has chosen you to be that person!

Do you see that God can use anyone to share his comfort? When your pastor asks you to talk with someone it’s because he hasn’t been through the situation, but he knows you have and you can help that person better. God has chosen you! Don’t be selfish and keep God’s comfort to yourself, God has chosen you to comfort based on you.

Are You Serving or Expecting to be Served?

Are You Serving

Why do you think it’s natural to demand time from our leaders to serve us, instead of serving with them, being accountable to them, and being trained by them?  -PK

So, there is the big question. What do you expect your pastor or church to do? We have recently joined forces with another local church plant and this shift in thinking is positive all around. If one pastor is supposed to tend to the needs of the whole flock, to be pulled in multiple directions, and counsel all issues, how effective is that? Like any job if one person tries to do it all, they become burnt out and the joy of the work is gone. Also, if people are coming to church expecting to be served all the time, is the church doing its job?

The church is a unique body of people who believe and have faith in Jesus, a man who they have never seen or heard. They meet together to worship this man and ideally to serve Him. After all, Jesus came as a baby, a common man who served and didn’t expect to be served. So, how can we all become servants in the church and not just expect the head pastor or church in general to do it all.

Let’s look to 1 Corinthians 16:5-18. Paul is writing and he tells the people in verses 10-11, “When Timothy comes, see to it that he has nothing to fear while he is with you, for he is carrying on the work of the Lord, just as I am. No one, then, should treat him with contempt.” Paul is telling people “Hey, I can’t make it yet, trust this dude Timothy to teach you and help you on your journey!”

This is what we need to do in church. Listen to your pastor and if he tells you that a certain elder, small group leader, or this other guy can help you then don’t feel slighted. Who better to help you through a problem or to pray for you than one who has walked through a similar journey? Just like a businessman surrounds himself with the best leaders to build his business, a pastor will find the best Godly men and women to help you.

You know Satan would love it if we were fighting amongst ourselves in church. He wants you to put your pastor on a pedestal so the focus turns from Jesus to some man who is going to fail you. Because the truth is, pastor’s don’t know it all and they will disappoint you.

What you can do is allow a pastor to lead and shape you so you can carry out your ministry to the church. All leaders need help and encouragement. Their job is to train others and you need to support them in this. Then the church becomes a group of servants, willing to serve others. So, how can you serve? How are you going to allow a godly man to train you so that you can serve those around you? Change your mindset from expecting your pastor and church to serve you to serving alongside your pastor for your church.

My Mom for President

MyMomFor PresidentWe were traveling somewhere and from the back of the car, one of my sons asks me, “Mommy, why don’t you run for president?” All the kids chime in about why it would be great if we lived in the White House. Some of the top picks were, they hear there is a bowling alley, it must have a pool, they thought they could each have their own room, and of course the presidential plane probably isn’t too bad either. After talking about it, they asked again, “Why don’t you run for president?” I told them I would check it out.

So, several days later, I was putzing on the internet and decided to check out what you had to do to get on the ballot for president. I mean, why not see? It could be inspirational for them. So, I found out. Well, sort of. It’s hard to find information on how to run for president.

Ballotpedia.org says, “In Pennsylvania, a presidential candidate seeking the nomination of a party must submit a nominating petition of 2,000 signatures and a $200 filing fee in order to gain access to the party’s primary ballot. An independent candidate can get on the general election ballot by submitting to the secretary of the commonwealth, no later than the second Friday after the primary, an affidavit of candidacy, a $200 fee, and a petition. This petition must contain signatures equaling at least 2 percent of the entire vote cast for any statewide elected candidate in the last election.” (see it here)

Hard to say if this is a legitimate site. But, if it is true, I could swing the $200 but I would still need 1,999 signatures. I mean, I get to sign for myself, right?

I found this outdated article, which is enough to shoot any hopefuls dream of being president down. Really, 150 million dollars on advertising? Do you have any idea how much GOOD $150 million will do?

The FEC.gov site has plenty of info on campaign finance. Also, there are plenty of other sites with information, but it wasn’t as easy to find as I thought it would be. So, with that being said, if you want to be one of my 1,999 signatures, keep reading on why to vote for this Mom for president.

First, I want you all to know I don’t need fancy vacations. Staycations have been some of the best family times together. And if we lived in DC, there is a ton to do. I won’t be wasting money on lavish get-a-ways. It could be a boom to my local town to have me as president because tourism might go up. But, the neighbors might not like the extra attention and security, so I’ll have to be sensitive to that.

Second, I’ve already got a wardrobe. I know the best thrift shops to go to and find a great outfit. The media will quickly get tired of mentioning my clothes because I wear my favorite things all the time. I have five pairs of work pants, it doesn’t get much more boring than that. No need for designers to woo me, I’ve got some nice stuff in my closet already. I also have a warm coat for the inauguration and will put up the hood if I’m cold! Also, no worries about me running around in yoga pants…no thank you!

Third, I know people. A real leader surrounds themselves with people who are better then them and lets them be leaders too. Sometimes, these people are your ‘frenemies’ (thanks Disney) but they know stuff the best and so you work together. Also, I can make decisions. After all, I was lead navigator on car trips before Lola (PK’s phone) took over.   There’s nothing like  a decision to exit now or keep going that makes or breaks the length of the journey.

Fourth, there is just some ridiculous stuff that needs to be changed. Being a normal person, making regular people earnings, I know how it is when money is tight. I also know how to budget, stop spending, and prioritize. But, there are two things that really miff me.

  • One, taxes shouldn’t be that hard. I have a master’s degree, I’m not completely dumb. But, how come when the accountant does my taxes I get money back, but when I do them on a tax program I owe an incredible amount? Also, having just paid back the government a lot of money for the accountant’s mistake, I had to pay 6-8% interest. But on my money market account, I only make 0.2%?
  • Two, mortgage refinancing. When is a bank going step up and do the right thing? I’m pretty sure in order to change my interest rate, they just have to plug in the new rate number and the computer program does the rest. So why does it cost upwards of $5,000 to refinance? Fill needs, not greeds.
  • I thought of a third thing, health care. If the insurance companies would stop sending me hundreds of pieces of junk mail on glossy, heavyweight paper, I’m sure rates would drop dramatically.
  • Oh gee, here’s a fourth thing. Do you ever see that Facebook post that Congress shouldn’t be paid if they don’t pass a budget, just like all the services that would stop getting money? Give me a pen and I’ll sign on the dotted line for that now!

Are you seeing that common sense would prevail in my presidency? I mean, an email invite to the next White House dinner with meatball subs and homemade cookies would be just as effective as some elaborate invitation. Also, besides having a warm coat for the inauguration, I already know people who can sing the Star Spangled Banner, play at the ball (which would be much better as a cookout – if it wasn’t January!), and say a prayer. Yup, they are common, ordinary folk.

Fifth, I’m a teacher. We need to get back to teaching our children. Teach them skills for life, how to add and subtract, that there isn’t always a winner, and how to read. I tell my kids that if they can read they can do anything. It has broken my heart to know my kindergartener can read better than a student in an eighth grade class. I’ve also managed 250 second graders for a concert (I teach music) and produced a musical. I’m telling you, I can multi-task. And for goodness sake, let teacher’s teach. A five page lesson plan is just a waste of teacher talent.

Sixth, I’m a parent. If we don’t start loving our kids through our actions and words, we are going to have a lot of lonely adults. Please, love your kids! Love each other!

Seventh, I would promote kindness. Let’s get back to being nice to one another. Slow down, don’t be so quick to sue. The saying for the kids in our family is, “Give hugs, not hits. Give kisses, not kicks.” Sometimes the truth hurts, but delivered lovingly can make all the difference in a person’s response. Build people up with your words. No need to tear them down, there is enough in this world to take care of that.

Eighth, I’m experienced. I already mentioned my multi-tasking skills. Yes, I can hear and keep two simultaneous conversations straight. But, I was also president of my senior class. (I did a lousy job, but stuff got done.) I was also president of resident life or something or other in college. (I did better, but was young.) Now, I’m president of momagement in our household. I’m not afraid to leave the tough notes and carry through.

Ninth, I know that being president is not all about me. It’s about people. Those I know and those I don’t. We all need to learn how to take ‘me’ out of the equation. We have special gifts that God has blessed us with. These gifts are not so that we are amazing, but so that we can use them to help other people grow in their faith. We need to promote love and not ourselves.

Tenth, my kids think it would be cool. My husband and I are responsible for them. And, setting an example of going after things is a great dream. That is why I blog, that is why I set up shop, and that is why I’m publishing a book.  So, what if right now on a good day 10 people visit my blog and I’ve only got two followers on my TpT store (and yes, one of them is myself)? It takes time and perseverance and hard work to build up a business. My kids need to know that they have choices and opportunities. Isn’t that what America was built on? The American dream is mostly alive and well in our house, we all just need to be encouraged.

So, there you have it. I love the United States. We waved a flag long before it was cool and like to celebrate with a good burger with the best of them. This mom is up for the challenge of a presidential run. I’m pretty sure that the news shouldn’t get to choose which candidates gets heard and who is silenced. Let the decision come back to the people and don’t knock off candidates just because they poll less. We all deserve a fair chance.

Since I’m not sure that I’ve even met 1,999 people in my life and could qualify with signatures, your liking this will show my children what a dream for presidency can be. And if anyone is looking for a running mate, I could be open to that too. Happy voting!

Matthew 4:4 – Don’t be Tempted

20151101_194556I love when kids have the opportunity to put themselves into a craft. If you like giving them some creative license, you’ll enjoy this today to see their perspective of themselves. You also might enjoy this manger scene from Luke 2:11, a maraca for praising from Psalm 150:6, the cell phone to God in Romans 8:28, or the crazy eyeball to help them see Jesus better.

But, today we are in Matthew 4:4 where it says, “Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'” Jesus is being tempted, but he always responds with God’s word. Likewise, kids need to hear and learn to obey and follow God’s word. They need to be ready to defend their faith with strength and you are the teacher leading them to this! Exciting!

Kids need to see themselves following Jesus. That their life matters and can impact others. And so, a – is in order. (Yes, I could have done a big mouth, but passed!) Let students draw themselves so they can look at the picture, read the verse and see that it is them that needs to do what Jesus says. Teach them how to use God’s word as answers when something tough comes up.

20151101_194204For this craft you will need:

  • one paper per child Matthew 4 4
  • crayons
  • something to cover the table

Allow the students time to fill in their self- portraits. This can be a unique opportunity to see how the kids see themselves. Maybe that shy one  puts the bangs over the eyes to hide or the loud one colors on a crazy colored shirt. Take time to get to know your students and let them share with each other. Maybe you want to do one too. Have a great lesson!