Friday, August 31, 2012

Dealing With Daily Frustrations

"But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop." Luke 8:15 (NIV 1984)

I was talking with a customer service agent from an online company I have enjoyed doing business with for years. I called thinking she could help me with a return. But when I explained I needed to return this certain item, things started to head south with our conversation.

She informed me that my item wasn't on the returnable list. It was on the final sale list. I had no clue there was a returnable list and a final sale list. It wasn't posted online or stated in their catalog.

I logically stated my case and felt syre she would see things my way. But she didn't. No matter what I said or explained, she wouldn't budge.

I knew the lady on the other end of the phone was just following procedure, but it made no sense. It wasn't right and I was frustrated!

And my tone of voice made it clear just how frustrated I was.

Later that same day, I was in line at the grocery store behind a man who wanted to use an expired coupon. The check out gal calmly stated she couldn't honor his coupon. Well, he didn't like that one bit. And he made sure everyone around them knew how much he didn't like this situation.

I stood back appalled at his actions.

Until ... I started thinking about the fact that I'd acted almost the same way with the customer service agent who refused what I wanted. The conviction wove its way through my heart and made me feel so badly for the way I'd reacted toward that woman.

After my call, she probably moved on to the next frustrated customer. And then the next. And then the next. Suddenly, I felt so sorry for her.

I decided it wasn't her desire to not be able to help me. She was truly just following the orders of the higher-ups at her company. I imagined her packing up her things at the end of another long day and heading home. A home where she had to face her own daily aggravations and frustrations.

That's when it hit me. While on the phone, I never pictured her as a person really. To me, she was just a voice on the other end of the phone that was causing me extreme frustration.

How might my reaction have been different if I'd stopped to think about her as a woman just like me? What might it be like to be her, to live her life, and to have to go to her job every day?

I decided God was trying to get my attention to be more aware of my reactions. More aware of handling daily frustrations in a way that reflects a heart that loves the Lord. In today's key verse, Luke 8:15, Jesus reminds us, "But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop." (NIV 1984)

I want Jesus' message to fall on a heart that is humble and fertile enough to:

Receive God's Word ...
Retain God's instruction, and ...
Reflect God's character in both my action and reactions.

When I stop to think about this I am challenged. Whether I am talking with a customer service representative I don't know or interacting with those I do everyday life with, I want to work towards being a woman who displays godly character. Just like Luke 8:15 encourages, whether I'm having a frustrating conversation or a friendly one, may God's messages of truth have such an impact on me that my heart and my mouth remain noble and good.

Dear Lord, it's easy to honor You with my carefully thought through actions but, sometimes much harder with my reactions. Even when I'm caught off guard, may Your love and patience be the spillover from my heart. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Sometimes it can be really hard to keep our emotions in control on a daily basis. In Lysa's new book, Unglued, she shares personal experience and scriptural wisdom to help us make right, godly and healthy decisions with our reactions. Click here to order your copy today!

Reflect and Respond:
This week as you interact with many people, how can you prepare your heart for reactions that honor God?

Use this formula for studying God's word this week: 
Receive God's Word ... write out the verses you want to focus on.
Retain God's instruction ... memorize and internalize the truths you've been studying.
Reflect God's character ... in both action and reactions. Focus on practicing the truths you've been learning.

Power Verses:
Psalm 37:30-31, "The mouth of the righteous man utters wisdom, and his tongue speaks what is just. The law of his God is in his heart; his feet do not slip." (NIV 1984)

1 Corinthians 13:1, "If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal." (NIV 1984)

By: Lysa TerKeurst.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

We Can't Do It Alone

"I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing." John 15:5 (NIV)

When my son Michael was learning to tie his shoes, he could not master the task. But, each time I offered my assistance, he would yell, "I can do it all by myself!"

Yet he couldn't. He didn't have the skills or knowledge necessary for tying shoes. I'd offer for him to sit on my lap and I'd teach him, but he would just run away and continue trying—unsuccessfully—on his own. Eventually I'd have to scoop him up against his will as he writhed his skinny body into an unbendable stick, wailing and flailing around.

Michael was frustrated and out of sorts simply because he wanted to tie his shoes by himself. In his mind he was capable. As his parent, I knew he simply could not do it alone.

I understood his frustration because even as an adult, I often do not want to admit my need for help. We are taught from a young age that we should be independent, and sometimes even groomed to believe that asking for help is a sign of weakness or failure. We struggle with pride and want to prove our ability in the eyes of the world.

While this may be our mindset, it is not the mindset of Jesus.

In today's key verse Jesus told His disciples that apart from Him, they could do nothing. Although they had devoted their lives to following and serving Him, Jesus wanted them to understand they needed an intimate and interdependent relationship with Him.

Jesus was not commanding, but rather inviting His disciples to abide in Him. He promised blessings and that they'd bear much 'fruit.'

Just as an apple can only be produced if it stays connected to the tree branch for nourishment and life, Jesus was telling them and us that we must stay connected to Him. Without the vital life-giving union with Christ, we can bear no fruit in our lives.

What does that look like? It happens when we try tirelessly to extend forgiveness, change a person's heart, overcome a personal struggle, transform a situation or accomplish a goal. All too often we do things in our own strength and wisdom, rather than realizing or relenting to our need for God's help. But when nothing, or very little happens, we get frustrated and stressed, just like a child incapable of tying his shoes.

Our tendency to rely on our own knowledge, skills or experience can actually become a stumbling block. We may eventually find ourselves defeated and discouraged, secretly longing to throw ourselves on the floor and pitch a grown-up tantrum.

The word "abide" means to "dwell in, reside in, or continue in a particular condition or relationship."

Upon accepting Jesus as our Savior, we are invited to abide in Him, and this verse encourages us as to why staying connected in a relationship is important to our faith. As we learn to dwell in Christ daily, we are better equipped to handle stress and adversities, and better prepared to avoid meltdowns altogether.
Just like I knew my son's limitations, God understands we need His help as we wade through life. He understands our desire for independence and our struggle with pride, yet if we abide in Him and accept His help, we will be better equipped to deal with the stress and challenges of life.

Dear Lord, I never realized the stress that I was bringing upon myself by assuming that I was capable of handling problems on my own. Forgive me for trying to do things apart from You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

BY: Tracie Miles
Visit Tracie's blog for 5 tips on abiding in Christ, and sign up for her free 10 Day Stress Detox beginning September 4th. A copy of Tracie's new book will be given away each of the 10 days!
Pre-order Tracie's new book, Stressed-Less Living: Finding God's Peace In Your Chaotic World

Reflect and Respond:
What situation has been causing you great stress and frustration? Instead of tackling it on your own, spend time in prayer.

What stumbling blocks have you encountered lately? Doubt? Fear? Worry? Marriage problems? Parenting challenges? Financial worries? Humble yourself before God and ask Him for help.

Power Verses:
1 Chronicles 16:11, "Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always." (NIV)
Philippians 4:13, "I can do all this through him who gives me strength." (NIV)

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Coming Soon: Unconditional

In recent years, an influx of Christian and family-themed movies hit theaters. It seems as if Hollywood is finally listening to our demand for wholesome movies. And the quality and production improves with every new release.

That's why I'm excited to tell you about Unconditional, a new movie about loss, forgiveness, and redemption. Take a look:

You can learn more about Unconditional and the Bible study here.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Experience God's Design for Your Body with Exercise

The statistics are frightening and sad:
  • 62 percent of Americans are overweight or obese.
  • One in three US adults has high blood pressure.
  • 17.2 million Americans have diagnosed diabetes, approximately 6.1 million are undiagnosed diabetics, and over 63 million experience pre-diabetic symptoms.
  • One in three American men have some form of heart disease.
  • These realities are just a few reminders of the unhealthy, disease-riddled lives that so many people live. Even more discouraging is the fact that, most of the time, these are the preventable consequences of inactive lifestyles.

We glorify God when we understand and respect the bodies He created for each of us. Our bodies were meant for movement, work, and action from the very beginning. God created Adam and Eve with healthy, strong bodies that were capable of work. Genesis 2:15 says, "The Lord God took the man and placed him in the Garden of Eden to work it and watch over it."

So often we imagine the Garden of Eden as a paradise and Adam as a vacation resident. But that's just not true. Physical labor and active work came before sin entered the world. God's design for our bodies was for us to be strong and fit through meaningful physical work. Even after sin entered the world and labor became much more difficult, activity remained a vital component to abundant life.

In our modern culture, technology and mechanical devices have replaced so much of our need for physical work. The result of this inactivity is the breakdown of the body and resulting disease. Fortunately, there is a way to reverse these consequences by committing to use your body as God created it. Exercise is the mode of healing that can change the biochemical make-up of the body to prevent lifestyle disease and restore good health.

Recent studies have shown that a moderate amount of exercise for 30 minutes a day can prevent diabetes, no matter the person's weight. The same 30 minutes of activity can reduce a woman's risk of breast cancer by 50 to 60 percent. Exercise has also been proven to strengthen bone density, reduce blood pressure, and increase good cholesterol, thus reducing the risk of heart disease, and aid in maintaining a healthy body weight, thus preventing the damaging effects of obesity. Fortunately, all these benefits can be had by the same commitment to at least 30 minutes of moderate activity every day.

Exercise is a means by which God allows our bodies to stay strong. When we follow God's way of living we are blessed in all aspects of our lives. If you don't already exercise, begin a consistent routine of 30 minutes of some activity. Walking is the most available, inexpensive, and convenient method for beginners. If you are just starting, begin slowly and increase your pace, distance, and time as your body naturally become stronger. If you already exercise regularly, continue reaping the benefits by challenging yourself to get stronger, more flexible, and more fit.

Consider your exercise an act of worship, as you care for the body God gave you. "Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for God's glory," (1 Cor. 10:31, HCSB).

Friday, August 24, 2012

No More Same Old Same Old

Do not [earnestly] remember the former things; neither consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing! —Isaiah 43:18, 19

In today’s scripture, God says He is doing a new thing. As you move into the future He has for you, you will encounter all kinds of new opportunities, and challenges. The days ahead will be full of new experiences, things you have never done before. You may not know how to do them, but you will learn. Everything you are doing today was new to you at one time—and look, now you can do it.

Continuing to face new challenges and develop new abilities is extremely important to your growth and maturity. As you walk with God into your future, you will hear Him say, “You have not done this before, but don’t be afraid. I’m taking you to a place you have never been before. I’m going to ask you to do something you don’t know how to do!” God has already been where He is leading you, and He has prepared the way. Step out in faith and you will experience the faithfulness of God.

We think and say, “It’s time for a change! I need something new,” and then we hesitate to embrace that new thing when it comes. If you are ready for something new and fresh, don’t be afraid to embrace it when it comes.

Don’t stay trapped in the past. Let go of what lies behind and press into the great future God has planned for you. I can promise you: God is with you. He will lead you. He will strengthen you. He will help you. 

Love God Today: With God’s help, I will embrace every new thing He brings into my life.

Source:  Joyce Meyer Ministries

Thursday, August 23, 2012

31 Ways to Pray for Our Children

Below is a list of 31 ways that we can pray for our children along with scripture verses to guide us in truth. That's one for every day of the month!

  1. Pray that you parent your children with patience and persistence. Ask God for wisdom in discipline.

    Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath. ~ James 1:19, NIV

  1. While your children are growing, pray often for their salvation, as the prophet Isaiah wrote,

    Drop down, ye heavens, from above, and let the skies pour down righteousness: let the earth open, and let them bring forth salvation, and let righteousness spring up together; I the LORD have created it. ~ Isaiah 45:8

  1. Give children age appropriate responsibilities, praying that they will learn the value of stewardship. Teach them to appreciate all that we have as a gift from the Lord.

    Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity. ~ Titus 2:7, ESV

  1. Pray against the influence of peer pressure. Ask God to help you in developing your child’s unique character and purpose.

    Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. ~ Ephesians 6:11&12, NIV

  1. Pray that God will help your child to speak wisely and bridle her tongue that it might be used effectively.

    Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. ~ Ephesians 4:29, NIV

  1. Pray that your child will see the value and importance of modesty. That they may represent themselves as holy and acceptable servants of the Lord.

    Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. ~ 1 Peter 3:3-4, NIV

  1. Pray that you guide your children toward a healthy level of self-esteem. Not an attitude that is driven by pride, but by who he is in Jesus Christ.

    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, NIV

  1. Pray that your children are compassionate and charitable. That they desire to live beyond themselves.

    Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. ~ Colossians 3:12-14

  1. Pray asking that your children will have a heart to please God, and walk in His ways. As the Psalmist wrote:

    More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold, sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. ~ Psalm 19:10, NIV

  1. Pray over your children when they are sleeping. Place your hopes and dreams for their future in the hands of our Lord.

    "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." ~ Jermiah 29:11, NIV

  1. Start a prayer journal with your children so that you can guide them and teach them the power of prayer. Pray together as a family often.

    Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, NIV

  1. Pray with a heart of gratitude for the little things that go unnoticed. The way that her arms feel when she gives you a hug, the smile he gives you each morning as you approach his crib, the way it feels when he grabs your hand

    In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:18, KJV

  1. Read the Bible together and pray about the lessons therein that God might strengthen you as a spiritual leader.

    Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee. ~ Psalm 119:11, KJV

  1. Pray that your child will value family connections.

    Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. ~ James 1:27, NIV

  1. Pray for ways that you might communicate Biblical principles to your child. And that your child will accept the Word of God as applicable for today.

    Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. ~ 2 Peter 1:20-21, NIV

  1. Pray that the time you share with your children will be of great value. That they might learn spiritual and life lessons from you.

    Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it. ~ Proverbs 22:6, NIV

  1. Pray that your children will have a desire and see the importance of attending church. That they would desire to assemble together and work as one with the body of Christ.

    And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. ~ Hebrews 10:24&25, KJV

  1. Pray that they will cherish the golden rule. That they would be willing to lend a hand when help is needed and to treat others with love and respect.

    So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets. ~ Matthew 7:12, NIV

  1. Pray that your children would recognize the glory of God, and the hand of their Creator in the world around them.

    The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. ~ Psalm 19:1&2, NIV

  1. Pray that your children will find their joy in the Lord. That they will learn to be thankful in all things, choosing joy over sorrow.

    Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, NIV
  2. Pray that you will be an example of love and kindness to your children. An example that reflects the love of Jesus in all that you do.

    Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. ~ Luke 6:38, NIV

  1. Pray that your children understand the love of God toward mankind in that He gave His only begotten Son to die that we might be saved.

    For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. ~ John 3:16, KJV

  1. Pray for a heart of purity in growing children. That they will stand strong against temptation and lust. That she might see her body as the temple of the Holy Ghost and present it as holy and acceptable to the Lord.

    Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me ~ Psalm 51:10

  1. Pray that your child isn’t drawn in by the deceitfulness of money, but lives in such a way that he might attain an eternal reward.

    And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. ~ 1 Timothy 6:8&9, KJV

  1. Pray with thanksgiving for the blessings He has bestowed on you through your child.

    Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name. ~ Psalm 100:3&4, KJV

  1. Pray for the spiritual welfare of your children with your spouse or a friend.

    Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them. ~ Matthew 18:18-20, NIV
  2. Enlighten your children to the world around them by supporting missions and teaching them that there is a world both hungry for food and hungry for God. Pray that they will have a heart for missions.

    Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ ~ Matthew 25:34-36, NIV

  1. Pray that your children will grow strong in their faith as they adhere to the word of God.

    So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. ~ Romans 10:17, KJV

  1. Pray that your child will develop and meek and quiet spirit.

    As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. ~ Ephesians 4:1-3, NIV

  1. Pray that your child will develop a hunger for the Word of God and the wisdom to understand it.

    Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. ~ 2 Timothy 2:15, NIV

  1. Pray that your children will grow in respect, submitting to those who are placed in positions of authority.

    Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. ~ 1 Peter 2:13&14, NIV 

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Stepping on the Cracks

I was home the other night, very tired but not sleepy, and caught a few minutes of a movie I had seen before but not in awhile. It asks a simple yet heart stopping question that is made up of the title of the movie itself – “what if this is As Good as It Gets? “
Jack Nicholson is a hard edged slightly over middle aged man with sand paper issues out the ying yang. Helen Hunt is the waitress he finds that he has an affinity for and she can’t stand him – at first. It doesn’t take too long to figure out her issues are as numerous as his, and I’m thinking the tension between them can somewhat be attributed to the fact that he only reminds her of her own – besides the fact he’s so in every way crudely direct, I think that’s what bothers her the most about him actually. J
Anywhoo, one of the things that is most visually obvious things about Melvin (Jack’s character) throughout the movie is the obsessive need he has to not step on cracks of any kind – random cracks in the sidewalk or any pavement, the perpendicular grout lines formed by tile or pavers, or even parallel lines formed where one flooring type meets another – basically he avoids any inconsistency in where and how he moves or where places his feet as he makes his way through the day.
Hmmmm… Sound familiar to anyone? Maybe it’s just me.
I have found myself resistant to change. I have been fearful of things that change the direction or course of the path I am comfortable with. I have become paranoid about making missteps that could cause me to stumble or fail. So much at times that I kept my head down and focused on making sure I kept things within my control (HA!!!!). I have done it to the point that, like Melvin, I became obsessed with it in such a way that at the very least I have wasted time not seeing what would enhance my life and relationships until it was almost too late. And at the very worst I have missed opportunities God has for me to do great things, to become a better person, maybe find a relationship that could change my life, and to know Him with a faith and trust in Him in a way I never could otherwise.

So often I have kept my head down so I won’t step on a crack. So I won’t look like a fool. So I won’t stumble and fall. I don’t want to mess up and cause anyone any trouble. I definitely don’t want to bring any attention to my shortcoming, heavens no. And I sure don’t want to embarrass myself or my family.

What I am saying really, is that I’m not willing to let the plans God has for me begin to fulfill His desire to bless me.

We all quote “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11
But what about verse 10? “This is what the Lord says: “You will be in Babylon for seventy years. But then I will come and do for you all the good things I have promised you, and I will bring you home again.There was definitely a stumbling to get to those plans, a direction that may not have been the best. But God will bless. Even in failure He redirects and brings us back to Himself.
And what a promise here to stand on in verses 12 thru 14 – “In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. I will be found by you,” says the Lord. “I will end your captivity and restore your fortunes. I will gather you out of the nations where I sent you and will bring you home again to your own land.”
So doesn’t it ring even more true that in good, bad, leaps of faith that result in immediate success or a failing forward, that can know that “God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” Romans 8:28… It does say everything.
And lets back up to the less quoted verse before as well And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. Romans 8:27. Even if we step outside the lines of what may have become our own self created path we obsess with adhering to, and even if we mess it all up, we can be assured HE knows our intentions to bring Him glory and do good in His name – AND OUR GOD WILL ALWAYS REDEEM!

Proverbs 16:9 says that “We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps.”

What if the detour I am afraid of really is His perfect for me? Where I will grow the most?
“Every place where you set your foot will be yours…” Deut. 11:24a

Father help step on some cracks today J

Joyful on the Journey

Tuesday's Tips!!

17 Things You Can Do Today to Make Your Life Easier Tomorrow 

We all know from experience what procrastination can do to our lives. If left unchecked, it can make us late, unorganized, stressed out, embarrassed, overtired, broke, and hungry. I know this because I’ve experienced these symptoms myself. 

Take this morning for example. I was trying to get the kids breakfast started when I remembered that I had some important paperwork to take care of. It was already over-due, and it had to be done immediately. So I delayed my shower and sat at the dining room table filling out forms that had passed through my hands several times during the past few weeks. Any number of those times I could have sat down and got the papers in order, but because it was something I dislike taking care of I chose to put it off until the very last minute. As a result, I was thirty minutes late for an appointment that was on my calendar a week ago.

If you’re a procrastinator have no fear there’s an anecdote for all of us–it’s called being proactive. “Pro-action” as I like to call it, is preparing for things before they cause us to react. One example would be washing underwear before you run out–that’s always wise! Another might be picking up shampoo when you start running low. Those are are just two examples of proactive things that most of us do on a regular basis without really thinking about it. 

If you start to look around, you’ll probably see things that you would be better off taking care of now than leaving it for later. In fact you’d probably find several. Before you run off and start doing them–I’ll also offer you a list of my own. 

Here are 17 things that we can do today to make our lives easier tomorrow: 

*Pray. Women often waste time over-discussing our problems when going to prayer with them is far more effective.

*Make a double portion of your meal and freeze half for another day.

*Make school lunches for the next day while you’re cooking dinner.

*Clean out your purse and organize it.

*Clean out a junk drawer so you can find things easier.

*Empty the dishwasher before going to bed.

*Grab garbage every time you leave your car.

*Pick up small containers to use for organizing and storage. How many times do you clean up loose items in the pantry like crackers or pasta? Storing them in small containers will save you time and keep them fresh.

*Make amends where you can.

*Take care of a difficult or annoying task that you normally put off. Get it over with today and you’ll feel a weight off your shoulder tomorrow.

*Pay your bills before they are due.

*Eat well so you’ll have energy tomorrow.

*Never handle a piece of paper twice. Remember what I did this morning? Paper work is a huge time-waster. Every single time that paper went through my hands I wasted time with it.

*Open your bills and pay them immediately.

*Have school notes? Grab a pen, sign them and put them in your child’s backpack.

*Go to sleep early so you feel refreshed and productive the next day.

*Cut veggies up and store them in the fridge so you have healthy snacks on hand.

*Wash fruit and keep it out on the counter.

*Fill bottles of water so you can grab one on the run.

*Take the time to train your children to do a task right. Even if it means standing beside them when they make their bed for the first several times. Having them learn to do it correctly will save you all time in the long run.

Source: Darlene Schacht

Monday, August 20, 2012

Beth More Weekend Recep.........

Last weekend, several ladies from Northstar joined with 13,000 Christian Sisters and attended Living Proof Live Conference with Beth Moore.  We had an incredible time, and the weekend was amazing.  Check out this video that highlights the entire weekend:

Living Proof Live - Knoxville, TN from Rich Kalonick on Vimeo.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Wash on Mondays, Iron on Tuesdays

Generations of women before us ordered their lives by set schedules. Before electricity, a woman’s day began and ended with the sun. Sowing and reaping coincided with the seasons. Canning happened after harvest. There was a rhythm set by nature, it was simple and logical.

The same commonsense approach was also applied to a homemaker’s schedule.  For a hundred years, a homemaker’s week looked something like this:

Monday: Wash Day
Tuesday: Ironing Day
Wednesday: Sewing Day
Thursday: Market Day
Friday: Cleaning Day
Saturday: Baking Day
Sunday: Day of Rest

There were some variations to this schedule, based on when and where one lived. I read that Laura Ingalls Wilder’s mother churned butter on Thursdays. I guess there weren’t always markets on the prairies. 

Regardless of which chore was assigned to which day, I’m intrigued by the concept of an ordered week.

Why did our grandmothers (maybe great-grandmothers for some) establish schedules?  The primary reason is that generations before us had a closer connection with the natural ebb and flow of life, nature, time and seasons.  There were reasons why certain chores were done at certain times – an interdependence of one task upon another.

In homemaking, practicality governed the schedule. For example, laundry was the most difficult and physically intense task of all.  So it made sense to do it after a day of rest.  Ironing would logically come next.  Thursday is a traditional market day, coming before a day of baking which would come before the Sabbath, since no work was done on that day.

What appeals to me about this approach is the homemaker based her schedule on pre-set priorities.  My maternal grandmother, raising a family in eastern New Mexico during the depression, had to make chores a priority.  There was no back-up plan if bread didn’t get baked on Saturday.   There wasn’t a closet full of clothes if laundry didn’t get done on Monday.  She set priorities for her family and lived accordingly.

On the surface, my life is much easier than my grandmother’s.  My chores are independent of each other.  I can do one load of laundry and then bake a cake followed by cleaning the bathroom.  I’ve got enough light inside the house to work all night if I desire.  However, I’m not sure a haphazard approach is the most effective one. Without a plan, I’m easily pulled away from priorities, and I can get to the end of a week and wonder what I did with all that time.

Counter that with the times I develop a schedule for my week. When I’ve thoughtfully identified my priorities and assigned them to a day, I accomplish much more.  A meal plan created based on evening activities dramatically reduces stress.  My schedule isn’t based on last-minute emergencies or urgent demands, although those are allowed for.  My schedule is based on thought-out needs.

There’s wisdom in establishing order to my week.  It won’t look like my grandmother’s week, and it may not always happen as planned, but it’s worth a try.  Just because I can do laundry every day of the week doesn’t mean I should.

What are your thoughts on this subject?  Does this idea make sense for your generation?  Why or why not?

Devotion By:

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

There were seasons of my life when always I ran late. I woke up late, got the kids ready late, got out the door late, and arrived minutes after a program started. And I always had a good excuse … at least in my mind.


My reasons for being late were justifiable.  My three little boys were the “problem” for years.  Just when I’d get one ready to go and turn my attention to another, the first would spill cereal down his front. Or a diaper needed to be changed.  Why did they that always happen just as I was about to walk out the door?  It seemed like a conspiracy!  Then someone always left something in the house, my husband called at the most inconvenient times and traffic!  Traffic was always a good fall-back excuse.

For years it never seemed like my fault!  Until the day I got annoyed with a friend for her flimsy late excuses.  My mind clicked through various solutions to her time crunches, and thankfully, before I could spout any hollow wisdom, God turned the spotlight on me.

My own excuses sounded weak.  And as hard as it was to do, I started being honest about the reasons for my own lateness.  Yes, I did have a lot going on.  And no, my babies did not poop on my schedule.   But in my most gut-honest moments, I knew if I had been prepared in advance, there would have been time to graciously deal with interruptions and still be on time.

The more truthful I got with myself, the more God revealed about the importance of being on time.  I learned being late often reveals more about my heart than my organizational skills. As I grasped the implications of a life of lateness, my attitude and practices started to change. Not overnight.  And not easily.  But they did change.  Today I’d love to share some of what I’ve learned.

Being on time …

Tests my responsibility:  God is always watching to see how faithful I am with the little He has given me.  While we may dismiss certain areas of our lives as inconsequential, every daily practice has value to shape our character.  Choosing to be on time is one way I can practice being trustworthy.

Honors others:  “They never start on time anyway!”   That thought bought me a few more minutes and justified a stop at Starbucks even though I was running late.  But whether the meeting starts on time or not doesn’t justify being late.  Arriving on time shows honor to the person who organized it.  And I can offer to help the host with last-minute details.

Increases my ability to love:  When I’m in a hurry, my capacity to love others diminishes.  It starts with those closest to me as I get snippy and impatient.  But showing up late also prohibits me from spending time with others.  If I sneak in the back after something has started, I’ve lost opportunities to chat and catch up with people I care about.  Just a few extra minutes gives me a chance to give someone a hug and ask about her children. It’s amazing how loved people feel with a bit of time and attention.

Teaches me discipline:  I’ve found that if I want to make big changes in my life, I have to start with little ones.  Being on time develops discipline … and that’s something I desperately need more of.  It’s a training ground for bigger things.

There are lots of tips for being on time, like packing bags the day before, and doing what needs to be done first.  But the best tips for me has been getting to the heart of the matter.   Once the benefits of being on time outweighed the benefits of being late, things started to change.

I’m not perfect in this area.  I still have kids and a husband who aren’t always on my time table.  And I’m occasionally over-optimistic about what I can get done before leaving the house.  But those are the exceptions.

Now, if I can just get a handle on work deadlines and emails  …

I’d love to hear your thoughts on being on time.  Do you have any tips to share?  Insights?  Please post your thoughts and let’s continue the conversation.

Source for Today's Devotion:  Roo Magazine Glynnis Whitwer

Monday, August 13, 2012

What Are You Feeding Your Mind??

I’m going to be real honest with you today………I’m not a fan of negative reality TV, especially the “Real Housewives of…” shows. I have watched a few episodes over the years, just to see what they are about and to form my own opinion, but they sadden me for so many reasons. Today I’d like to encourage you to put off our “old self” and put on your “new self”, to make “new the attitude of your minds,” and to “not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs…”

But how can we do this?

How can we make such a change from our past?

Here are a few suggestions.

1. Be in God’s Word

First, we have to start by paying attention to what we are putting into our minds. What are we feeding our minds and souls? Each day we need to be filling our minds with God’s Word, God’s truth. Just like you need to eat everyday in order to survive, we all need to be in God’s Word daily too. If you start missing meals here and there, your body will start to show the effect of your decision. The same is true for not being in God’s Word. At first those around you might not tell, but just give it some time and eventually the way you treat others, the way you talk, the choices you make will testify to your time in God’s Word. Be good to yourself and those around you and make sure you spend time in God’s Word.

2. Pay attention to your “media diet”

In Matthew 12:34 Jesus says “For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.” What we allow ourselves to view, listen to and read fills our hearts and minds.

What is in your media diet? Are you watching, listening and reading media that encourages you, speaks truth to you, and challenges you in a good way? How do you feel after “feasting” on your “media diet?” Are you content with what you have? Content with how God made you? Are you more loving toward your spouse and children?

What we fill our minds with eventually comes out. The world feeds us on selfishness. You should have this. You should be treated this way. You should look this way……and on and on. Start paying attention to how you feel after you get done “feasting on your media diet.” If you are feeling down, depressed, grouchy, or edgy…..its time for a diet change. I’m not saying TV is bad……I have a few shows that I like to watch each week too, but I do pay attention to how they affect me.

In the past after watching a certain show I noticed I felt the desire to be more selfish. Thoughts like, “I deserve this or that” or “Next time that so-an-so says that to me, I’m going to say this!”…….not good, not good at all. I noticed I was negatively being influenced watching that show. It was not encouraging me to be more like Christ but rather to be selfish and sassy. Because of the affect the show had on me personally, it had to be cut from my diet.

3. Have an accountability partner

Struggling in a certain area? Ask God to help you find someone you can truly trust, maybe someone in your Sunday school class, and ask them to be your accountability partner. If everyone was honest, we’d all admit we need accountability partners in our lives!

If you are struggling with what you are spending your time doing each day, or how you are talking to your husband or kids, let someone know who loves you and ask them to help you make a change.

4. Memorize scripture

I have Philippians 4:8 on display in my kitchen because of it’s wonderful reminder to me each day.

“…whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”

Feed your mind on God’s truth. Each week take one verse and commit to memorizing it. Fuel your mind with good, noble, pure, lovely and excellent thoughts. You’ll be amazed at the difference this small change can make in your life if you commit to doing it.

5. Don’t give up…….we are ALL a work in progress!

And above all, remember there was only ONE who lived a perfect life…..give yourself grace when you need to. I love this quote and wanted to share it with you today.

“I saw a sign on a strip of highway once that I would like to have copied on my gravestone. It said, “End of construction. Thank you for your patience.”
-Ruth Bell Graham

Challenge: Ask God to help you identify what you are still holding on to from your “old self” and ask Him for courage and help to break free from it.

Source: Roo Magazine & Good Morning Girls

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Summer Break Is Over..........Back to Regualr Updates and Conversation

Hello Ladies,

I cannot believe how quickly summer is passing us by, and how the start of a new school year and football season is only a few days away.  We enjoyed relaxing over the summer, and hope the last couple of months have been fun for you too.  However, its time to get back into a routine, and get connected with one another again. 

To kick-off us off, I thought I would update with a few new announcements from NorthStar.  

1. A team from NorthStar is going to Hyden, KY on Friday, Aug. 17th to deliver back to school supplies and love on the kids of Muncy Elementary with Mission of Hope. If you are interested in joining us, please contact Teal Fulford at

2. Student News:
  • Student D-Groups start back tonight! Check website for all the details.
  • C.O.W’s new time at 6:30-8pm starts this week! Don’t be late!
  • H.S. Bible study starts Mon. Aug. 20th at the Bubble, 7-7:45am. Come get prayed up and ready to make Jesus famous!
3. Life is better connected. To join a group, come to Groupconnect on Aug. 26th at 6pm, Sherrill Campus. A 90 minute event where you can meet people in a similar stage of life and area of town with the goal of forming a LifeGroup. To register for childcare, go to our website at, just come on out and get connected.

4. And, Finally..........

Ladies: Be watching for details on more great Bible/life studies at NorthStar (some starting as early as Sept) - from speakers/teachers/authors like Beth Moore, Lysa TerKeurst, Angela Thomas, Ann Graham Lots, Kay Arthur, Cindi Wood, Dave Ramsey and more!

Have a blessed week, and we will be back tomorrow to Kick-Off Our Weekly Devotions!!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Don’t Be That Mother-In-Law

May I start by saying this is not a “bash” on Mother-in-laws (MIL) article. This post was inspired to challenge daughter-in-laws before it’s too late. To challenge them to break the bad MIL wrap… and to prepare their hearts in hopes of becoming an AMAZING… what I like to call, mother-in-LOVE to your sons’ or daughters’ future spouses.

I have a dear friend who would always remind me of this cute rhyme. I’m sure some of you have heard it:

“A son’s a son until he takes a wife. But… A daughter’s a daughter for the rest of your life.”

Having both a son and daughter of my own, that rhyme always bugged me. My friend, a very wise woman, shared the way she now says the rhyme:

“A daughter’s a daughter for the rest of your life. But…a sons’ a son…If you LOVE his wife.”

My desire here is to talk about a topic that is a sore spot for many, sore for so many that jokes are abundant about the subject. Song lyrics lament the dreaded mother-in-law (i.e. Huey Luis and the News). Even movies have been made depicting the Monster-In-Law (with J-LO and Jane Fonda).

As hard and fake at times as my relationship with my MIL has been over the past 22 beautiful years that I’ve been married to her son, I must say God has used that relationship to challenge and grow me.  As a result, I VOW to be the best mother-in-LOVE to my kids spouses that I could ever be.

This short but transparent post is written in LOVE to them (my kids future spouses) before I ever even know what they look like.

And for you my new friend, this post is to challenge you to prepare your heart through prayer and supplication for your future son or daughter in-law as well.


We as moms with young kids need to break the bad MIL wrap by deciding now and becoming ourselves one day…Mothers-in-LOVE.

The in-law thing… sucks…Really who came up with that title?

Correct me if you’re not feeling it like I am, but its a throwaway title don’t you think?

It’s sorta like the messy, rude, annoying neighbor on the block… Let’s call them the neighbor-in-law; nobody really wants to get to know that neighbor anyway.

It is all this in-law stuff that has empowered me to write this article.

My kids are ages 15 & 13, but time flies so if I have to gift wrap this article as a wedding present to act as a love letter to my children’s spouses on my true desire to love them with all my heart- so be it. Or perhaps my future son & daughter in-law will have this post to smack me over my head if I ever cause any ripples, fights or tension in their marriage.

You could call it a bit of MIL insurance to remind me “Not to be that mother-in-law.”

Let’s be honest who else is talking about this topic?
There are books on marriage, raising children; self help books, fitness book, books on finance, and books for dummies: But, not a one on the mother-in law.

Well girls we’re talking about it now! And in the months to come we are going to take a journey to camp. 

I like to call it our very own mother-in-law boot camp.

A post on mother-in-law’s to be. Mothers-in-law in training,
….training to be mothers-in-LOVE. Mothers in love with the choice our children make for a spouse. Mothers modeling the love Christ showed for us by laying down his life for our sake.

I look forward over the next few months at Roo Mag to walk through God’s word together as we prepare our hearts to one day meet our children’s future spouses.

Wouldn’t it be amazing if we would all become the Mothers in Love God intended us to be!

This entry was posted in Mother by Shelene.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Just A Reminder..........

Wednesday nights are back on at NorthStar!!

Preschool, Children and C.O.W start back up this Wednesday night, so come on out.

Click Here For More Details: