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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.

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!

How to Give – Part 3

How to Give Part 3

This is the final part for learning and teaching How to Give. Remember we have to set aside what we can to be ready to give and we need to trust God and bring the whole tithe and he will bless us. I’m sure many of you have given money to something in the past. But, as a Christian, the New Testament tells us four ways to give.

2 Corinthians 9:6-7 says, “Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”

So, here are four ways to give:

  • Sacrificially: A sacrifice means you give up something. For some this will mean eating rice and beans so you can give more. For others it will mean waiting to buy the latest tech toy so you can help someone now. God knows the intent of your giving and is not judging you against someone else’s ability to give.
  • Generously: To give generously means you give more than just the leftover change. You purposefully think about what you can give and then you kick it up a notch. It’s that extra bit that makes you smile about how you are helping.
  • Willingly: If you give willingly, it means you give without strings. No one has to twist your arm or beg. You see the need and you figure out how you can give generously. And if it means sacrificing something, you do. You don’t keep score.
  • Cheerfully: If you give cheerfully, you are giving without harboring ill thoughts about what you could have used the money for  (which is probably some material item you don’t really need anyway). It satisfies you to give.

Have you thought about how you give? Have you thought about what keeps you from giving? Perhaps it is not trusting God really will provide. Or, maybe you like to control things and think you know the best way to do things with your money and you miss what God is trying to tell you to do. And then, there is always something that will come up that could keep you from giving. The unexpected doctor’s visit, unplanned expenses at car inspection time, or a great sale on cheese and so you stock up. It’s life and these things happen. But if you have set aside what you can for giving, if you trust God to bless you beyond what you hope for, and if you learn how to give sacrificially, generously, willingly, and cheerfully, then when things come up, you don’t panic. You stick with your plan and give.

It’s okay to talk about money in church. You have to, so people know what the Bible says about it. When approached from a Biblical point of view, people can learn how best to use and give this luxury God has blessed them with. Because look, if we as a church can’t disciple people how best to use their money, the world surely will.

Be sure to read How to Give Part 1 and Part 2 to get the whole story.

How to Give – Part 2

How to Give part 2

How much money do you make? Wow, what did you pay for that? Do you have enough money to send your kid to that college? All of these money questions kind of border on the line of nosiness. But if we don’t talk about money in church, how are we going to teach people what the Bible says about it? It’s just one of those topics, like sin or priorities – according to the Bible, that you have to teach.

The other day, Paul mentioned that the people needed to give what they already decided to give. To have that money set aside for when he came. But isn’t it hard to set that money aside when we are told to save or spend by worldly standards?

God promises to take care of our needs…not our greeds!         -PK

You can find this promise in Malachi 3:8-10. It says, “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.”

So if you don’t know what to give, or if your gift is enough, or if you should take the leap of faith and give more than common sense might dictate over your heart, remember this verse. I shared once about An Unexpected $400. Even when times are tight, we always tithe and give beyond that in other ways. Why? Because we know, we believe that God will never let us go hungry and have a roof over our heads. And we always have. Even if it ends up being one of those “never to be duplicated again” leftover meals.

When you give and when you care, you are fulfilling a need for someone else and that is Jesus’ love in action. So bring the whole tithe and allow God to shower you with blessings. The blessings will come in many forms, maybe as money or a meal, maybe as some hand-me-down clothes for your little one or help changing a flat tire, and maybe as a hug or a listening ear. These are all God’s blessings, be sure to thank Him!

Next time I’ll have 4 ways the New Testament tells us to give, but here’s Part 1 if you missed it!

 

Homemade Tootsie Rolls are Delicious!

Homemade Tootsie Rolls

Are you looking for a sweet, easy treat for snack or to pull out for dessert? Will it Work Wednesday is letting you know you have to try these tootsie rolls. I remember seeing a ‘How do they make that’ sort of show once and saw them making them. Who knew I would be able to replicate them at home?

20151002_193314Check out the recipe I used here. Follow the recipe and they are delicious. A few hints that will help (in my opinion):

  • Make sure you put enough powdered sugar in so the dough is really stiff.
  • When you are rolling out the dough, do it on parchment paper and then lift it onto the tray. I just used my hands and patted it down. Don’t worry about the extra sugar, it will get rolled up in it.
  • Make sure the dough stays cool. As soon as it warms up it melts together.
  • Don’t even bother wrapping them, just eat them!

20151003_105914My only issue is that they do melt together when sitting out. So, I just leave them on the tray in the fridge and they are self serve. They don’t look like much, but the kids love eating them! I did wrap them in wax paper the first time I made them.  That took a lot of effort when they were unwrapped just as fast!

Have fun making and eating them!

Will it Work Wednesday 2

 

How to Get Out of Your Comfortable Box of Christianity

How to Get Out of Your Comfortable Box of Christianity

This is embarrassing to admit, but twice I’ve fallen asleep during small groups at church. Once, I like to blame on the sofa, it was so comfortable and we were watching a video. The other time was in my own house and I was cold so I had a blanket on. My husband was talking and my head did the falling asleep bounce. Isn’t it great that I’m so comfortable around my church people that I can fall asleep and then joke about it? Ha! And while it is funny now, it was embarrassing and I tried to brush it off. But, really, I was just plain tired out.

I tell you this, because I’m wondering if you are so comfortable in your box of Christianity and going to church, that you have fallen asleep? Are you embarrassed that your zeal for Jesus has diminished? Genesis 24 tells us that if you hit a road block or you think something is impossible, God will work out the details.

We can get so comfortable in church, we can fall asleep.     -PK

So, what do you do? Look to Genesis 24 and Rebekah’s answer to the servant when Laban suggested that they wait ten days before leaving to go to Abraham. “So they called Rebekah and asked her, “Will you go with this man?” “I will go,” she said.” (Genesis 24:58) So she up and packed herself and her maids and they were on their way. No doubts, no second thoughts, just “I will go”.

Will you go? Will you break free from your comfortable box of Christianity and say, “No more hiding or being lazy! No more letting myself get distracted by dumb stuff!” Instead hear yourself cry out, “Where is my Bible so I can dig into God’s word? What can I do for you today God? Send me on a mission, I am ready to serve You!”

Can your mantra for living become one for Jesus? Change is hard, we like things to stay the same. The same is comfortable and secure. Change is shaking things up. I’m encouraging you to become a soda bottle for living on mission for Jesus. Shake up, then take off the lid and watch how your renewed vigor for God spills out from you. Pray and ask Him for help to get you back on track. Then, be like Rebekah and answer with a resounding, “I WILL GO!”

God Will Work Out the Details

God Will Work Out the Details

Last time I wrote about our church plant and another joining up and how we have asked ourselves, “Does God want this?”. As we plan things, we need to remember that God will work out the details. He has given us the gift of putting two like minded pastors in the same area who want to work towards the same goal: getting people to know Jesus. As with anything, there are a lot of little details to work out. But they are just that, details. How should we respond to the details? Well, we just need to go and do it.

There is a story in Genesis 24 about a dad who is arranging a wife for his son. Do you know it? Abraham has been promised more descendants than there are stars. He sends his trusted servant to find a wife for his son. The servant asks, what if he should find a woman, but she won’t come with me? He is told that God will send his angel ahead of him. In other words, God will work out the details, you just need to go.

Well, the servant goes and do you know what he does? He prays! And as he prays for a sign an answer to his prayer is given. It turns out Rebecca is the one God has chosen to be Isaac’s wife. It turns out God knew the details and set Rebecca there at the right time in the right place. And then do you know what the servant did? He praised God for leading him to Rebecca and for being faithful.

How often do we go on a mission, trying to do it all and figure it all out for ourselves and when we do, feeling pleased as punch that we got the job done? When really we need to do what this servant did. He had faith, he went on the mission, prayed, and praised God when it was over.

Are we willing to go on mission for the glory of God? Do we really believe that He is in control? Are we willing to let God handle the task? God is in charge of results. We need to follow through and not be afraid to fail.

In fact, when God calls us to do something, He will enable us to do it.      -PK

And just because He can, sometimes God will throw in an extra blessing for us because He loves us so much.

So as you go about your day, remember Abraham’s servant. Remember it is your choice to follow God’s will. Don’t let fear, busyness, or pride talk you out of following God’s will.  Therefore as our two churches join together, we will listen and pray for God to be glorified in all that we do. That is the right thing to do.

Unsolicited Jesus Sized Advice

Unsolicted Jesus Sized Advice

Have you ever gotten unsolicited advice? Probably. And, whether you asked for it or not, you probably considered what the person said and went from there. King Solomon is the advice king! As the wisest man, he wrote the book of Proverbs, to help us live our lives in a more godly manner. He gives us some suggestions on how to seek advice.

Proverbs 15:22 says, “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.”

Proverbs 11:14 says, “For lack of guidance a nation falls, but victory is won through many advisers.”

Proverbs 12:15 says, “The way of fools seems right to them, but the wise listen to advice.”

The Bible tells us to seek advice for things. If we always try to go at it on our own, we are foolish. God will help you find the right answer and figure out the best way. Here are 4 pieces of unsolicited Jesus sized advice for you today! Continuing in Ecclesiastes with Chapter 4.

1. Insights on Oppression and Politics

There are people who feel oppressed and think that they don’t have anyone to turn to. Some even feel that being dead would be better than living. Yes, even believers feel this way. Think about Elijah in 1 Kings 19:4 and Job in Job 3:3. If believers feel this way sometimes, than what about people who don’t know Jesus? Christians have hope beyond the grave. They know, even if they try to ignore or shove it into the back of their mind, that they are not alone!

What we all have to remember, no matter how dire the circumstance, is that giving up is not the answer! If you see or know someone who is heavily burdened, you need to let them know they are loved. You need to ask God to work through you to help reach this person. How can you really love your neighbor as yourself? How can you include them in your life? Show someone the hope of love and Jesus.

2. Insights on Money

We have more in common with people who lived 3,000 years ago than you think. We are still trying to keep up with the Jones’. Let’s face it,

People buy stuff they don’t need, to impress people they don’t like, and pay for it with a credit card they can’t afford.   -PK

This is an empty way to operate and live. In other words, be content with what you have! If you aren’t, isn’t it almost like we are slapping God in the face and saying to him that his blessings aren’t good enough for us? Ouch! Apart from Jesus, all that stuff just makes life come up short.

Mark 8:34-38 is where Jesus tells anyone who wants to be his follower to give it all up and follow him. We need to use balance and moderation. Is it about me, myself, and I? Or is our life about something bigger? Proverbs 16:8 says, “Better a little with righteousness than much gain with injustice.”

I know I said 4 pieces of unsolicited Jesus sized advice, but I think we’ll stop with two for today. I’ve often joked that life would be a lot easier if we were all born with a manual. But really, the Bible is our life manual. It’s just a matter of how much we put into it and read it in order to get the most from it. I need to remind myself that the Bible has all the answers. It is a relevant book for today. The only thing that has changed, are the characters in the world now and our way of doing things.

If we open our hearts to God’s advice our lives will begin to have purpose and make more sense. We will know what direction we need to head in. I’ll be back in a couple more days with two more pieces of advice. See you soon!

WITH God, pleasure tastes so much

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the Fly S’mores

On the Fly S'mores

Well, we are doing some camping. I use the term camping loosely since we go in a hotel on wheels. Yup, we all pile into the pop up for some adventure and usually at least one night includes roasting marshmallows.

Here's PK maintaining the fire.
Here’s PK maintaining the fire.

My kids are kind of hit or miss with wanting s’mores, so last week when we went camping, I just brought along some marshmallows. Of course, they all couldn’t believe I didn’t bring graham crackers and chocolate for s’mores. *sigh*

So, they started to roast or burn some marshmallows. And then I was like, “Wait!” I ran in the pop up and brought out those can’t eat just one of ’em chocolate striped cookies we got from the Dollar Tree.

Crackerish cookie + chocolate on the bottom + toasted marshmallow = s’more on the fly!

20150623_164617

And it was so much less of a hassle! The kids enjoyed them. I enjoyed them and we all went to bed happy. Really, give it a try. Yummy!

Will it Work Wednesday 2