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  • Abraham Lincoln on Criticism

    "If I were to try to read, much less answer, all the attacks made on me, this shop might as well be closed for any other business. I do the very best I know how - the very best I can; and I mean to keep doing so until the end. If the end brings me out all right, what's said against me won't amount to anything. If the end brings me out wrong, ten angels swearing I was right would make no difference."
  • Consider the Cost

    "Never, never, never believe any war will be smooth and easy, or that anyone who embarks on the strange voyage can measure the tides and hurricanes he will encounter. The statesman who yields to war fever must realize that once the signal is given, he is no longer the master of policy but the slave of unforeseeable and uncontrollable events." ~Winston Churchill
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  • Charles Spurgeon

    "Our blessed Lord reveals himself to his people more in the valleys, in the shades, in the deeps, than he does anywhere else. He has a way and an art of showing himself to his children at midnight, making the darkness light by his presence."
  • Progress through Perseverance

    It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or whether the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; Whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes up short again and again; Who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause; Who, at best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement; And who at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly. It is far better to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the gray twilight of life, knowing neither victory nor defeat. ~ Theodore Roosevelt
  • Psalm 7:10-17

    God will uncase the hypocrites ere long, and make them know, to their sorrow, what is was to trifle with Him." - Richard Baxter
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  • The Reformed Pastor – Richard Baxter

    “We must carry on our work with patience. We must bear with many abuses and injuries from those to whom we seek to do good. When we have studied for them, and prayed for them, and exhorted them, and beseeched them with all earnestness and condescension, and given them what we are able, and tended them as if they had been our children, we must look that many of them will requite us with scorn and hatred and contempt, and account us their enemies, because we ‘tell them the truth.’ Now, we must endure all this patiently, and we must unweariedly hold on in doing good, ‘in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves, if God, peradventure, will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth.’ We have to deal with distracted men who will fly in the face of their physician, but we must not, therefore, neglect their cure. He is unworthy to be a physician, who will be driven away from a frenetic patient by foul words. Yet, alas, when sinners reproach and slander us for our love, and are more ready to spit in our faces, than to thank us for our advice, what heart-risings will there be, and how will the remnants of old Adam (pride and passion) struggle against the meekness and patience of the new man! And how sadly do many ministers come off under such trials!”
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Ladies, YOU need to hear this… Listen up!

Hey ladies, my valuable, worthy ladies who love God and put yourself out there every day for others. Yes, I mean you.

Melody2 by Jesse Therrien from freeimages freesxc

I have something to tell you, something you NEED to hear. I’ve gotten so many letters, texts, Facebook messages, phone calls, and frustrated, “I need to talk to you,” face to face encounters that I have to address this. Urgh.

There is something you may not know and I’m going to tell you right now.

So listen up.

You are valuable.

You are loved.

You are who you are because God made you that way. That makes you special… special to God… special to me.

Yes, I mean you.

I see you day to day putting yourself aside and working for others, dropping by a vase of flowers for a sick older lady, changing diapers in the church nursery, going out to work to help support the family, caring your grandchildren, sacrificing for your children, washing dishes after a fellowship in your church, raising an adopted child by yourself, taking your kids to sports practice, blogging tutorials for strangers on how to save a dime, tutoring the student who just doesn’t get it, caring for a sick husband, encouraging others to keep going…

You do so much for others that I couldn’t possibly list it all. And yet, you are discouraged, feeling unloved and disrespected.

To quote a phrase in the Bible, because it is so simple yet profound, “These things ought not so to be.”

It makes me angry (yes, I can be angry and sin not) to see the women around me live discouraged, defeated lives because of how they are regarded by those around them.

It ends now.

Every woman who belongs to Christ (if you’re not sure, go here) must claim their position in Him, realize their value, and act like it!

No more questioning. No more letting people walk all over you. No more wondering if you can be used.

NO MORE!

You are not alone.

When you met Christ, you not only were forgiven, but you became brand new. You became His child, valuable and complete.

Did you hear that? You are complete in Him. He VALUED you enough to hang on that cross – FOR YOU.

So how is it that we wonder if we are enough? How is it that we question our value?

Um, no.

Right now you are going to realize you are valuable, complete in Him and to be regarded as such. No more are you going to accept the notion that you are not as good or capable or usable as that woman you think is better than you (or that woman that thinks she is better than you and lets you know it).

If someone tries to make you feel small, you just stand tall and tell yourself, “I am a daughter of the Most High God, I am valued, I am complete in Him.” Notice I said, “tries.” No one can put you in your place but God, and if you belong to Him, you are already placed in His hand and He is in your heart.

Repeat after me, “I got this.”

Photo by Stephen Davies freeimages

I don’t mean, “I got this,” as in “I’m perfect,” I mean, “I got this, I’m complete, I’m valued by God, I don’t need your approval, I don’t need you to put me in my place. I’m good where I’m at, in my God’s hand, loved and valued.”

Stop comparing yourself to other women. Stop trying to compete. Just be whom God made you. Accept who you are. Realize your value. Stand up and say, “I got this.”

Being submissive doesn’t mean we are a little mouse that walks around afraid to speak. If you’re not sure this is true, go read in the Scriptures about how all the women that served God were strong, confident women with purpose.

Being a good woman doesn’t mean you stand by while others smack you around with their words or actions. Others will not respect you if you don’t respect yourself. Stand up and say, “I got this.”

One friend recently said, “I’ve decided I will just stay in my room when they are home.”

Um. No.

You are not going to hide. You are not going to step aside and let them devalue you, take advantage of your insecurities or let them make you feel unloved. You are the daughter of a king. You step up and say,

“I got this.”

You are going to claim your position in Christ, say to yourself, “I belong to the King,” and take your place as a valued child. You are going to set your boundaries and claim your spot. It is your home. They are visitors. They will respect and cherish you or they will go.

I have a family of 5 living in our home and my 87 year old mother. None of them treat me like I am worthless. None of them push me around. None of them disrespect me. In fact, it is just the opposite. I have loved every moment my daughter’s family has been in our home for the past 5 months. I have gained much by having my mother in our home. We help each other, we laugh, we enjoy, we respect each other. When they move out in the next few days I will feel a loss. When my mother goes home to glory, I will feel a void.

If this is not the case with those around you, then you need to reevaluate your relationships, disconnect from those who do not value you and find some who do. Pray for a girlfriend who will uplift you and support you. Find someone who can encourage you and walk with you. Set your boundaries with everyone in your life and make it clear you know whom you, to whom you belong are and who you are not. And then tell yourself, “I got this.”

You are a daughter of the King.

You are valuable.

You are loved.

You are who you are because God made you that way.

That makes you special… special to God… special to me.

And yes, I mean you.

Blessings to you,

VAL signature

Ring in the New Year

Today I am considering my New Years resolutions. They aren’t going to be the typical ones like exercising more, giving up chocolate, etc. I’m leaning more toward being more efficient and productive. My resolutions are more like goals this year. I would be interested in hearing from you all to see what you have determined to do (or not do) in 2013 to make your life happier, healthier and more productive.

I’ve not completed my list yet, partly because I need to pin down my husband. I want to do them together and separately this year. But to get started, I’m going to list a few here and now to get me started.

1. Spend one hour a day working on church stuff – I want to set aside a time to work on my church publications at a set time so it doesn’t take up my entire day. I tend to sit down with my laptop and lose 3-5 hours in a blink! I am trying to do this first thing in the morning.

2. Spend one hour a day writing my book. I’ve put this off too long! I started it a year ago, but stalled because I wasn’t sure which way to take it. Should I do one book combining my ministry experience and parenting of special needs children or should I split it into two? I took some time this year to ask others and the general consensus is to split it into two books because one would get muddled and contain too much for my reader to process. So that’s the deal. I’m now working on two books.

3. HOSPITALITY…my new house has been given to me because God wants Mark and I to focus on the service of hospitality. Too often we forget to let people know how valuable they are to us. So, here we go. We started with a New Years party to ring in the new year and plan to ask people over to our home in order to get to know them and let them know we love them. This is going to be fun!  It is also my goal to be ready to take visitors at any time of the day – kind of an open house type existence. This one is going to be hard, but I am going to make myself change my way of thinking.

4. Mission work for small churches…I’ve already begun this one, but need to plan and execute this ministry in a more organized way. My desire to to provide quality publications for small churches that can’t afford to hire a graphic designer. I’ve already worked with a few churches and have found it to be a much needed ministry. It is also my goal to be enough financially solvent that I can afford to travel to these churches to work with them face to face. This make it easier to get a real feel of the ministry in order to suit the publications to them personally.

5. Set up a photo studio in my home and work on getting some pay jobs. I’ve done photography over the years for church and family, but haven’t worked much on making it a business. I need to supplement our income and see this as a good way to bring in a bit of cash here and there. Our new house has a space I can use for an indoor photo studio, so I won’t be limited to just outdoor photography, though it is my preferred method. We’ve been working on the room for a couple of months now, but still have to get lighting, backgrounds, and props.

6. Work on my blog for a half an hour a day – this is going to be a hard one since I tend to put it off because it takes me over sometimes. That’s partly why I’ve not kept up on it because it takes a lot of time out of my day. Time management is a priority for me this year and I am determined to master it.

7. Learn my Adobe products – Jillian brought me some of her college books when she was home for Christmas. I intend to go through them a page at a time and learn my craft.

8. Write more letters to my kids – I have kids spread all over the country; my goal is to write a letter a month to try to re-connect my kids to one another. It’s not  enough that I desire a close family. Everyone needs to make an effort. Perhaps if I share tidbits of family news it will cause some to think inward. Family is where it’s at!

Let me know what goals you have for the new year. We need to inspire one another!

Stoplight: A Walk for the President

Stoplight: A Walk for the President.

Remember the Waltons?

Remember watching the Waltons when you were younger? Click here to watch a recent video of an interview of the cast members.

Men and Boys

image

Swearing – an Epidemic

Over the years I’ve asked many people not to swear – co-workers, family, friends, and even strangers. It’s not a matter of judging others. It’s all about what is appropriate. I’ve taught my kids to use proper speech, both that pleases God and allows them to be received properly by others whether it be in a home, social or work setting. I’ve explained why it displeases God to utter expletives, how it offends others and even told them it hurts their mother’s heart to hear such things. I’ve explained that people will think less of them, be offended or even exclude them from being hired because of offensive language, whether it be in person or on a social networking site. None of it seems to matter – it appears we have an epidemic of swearing. To tell you the truth, I just don’t get it. Swearing has been such a taboo to me that I’d never consider allowing it to enter my vocabulary. It’s so offensive, yet it seems this doesn’t matter any more.

I guess when it comes to young people trying to assert their independence or prove their autonomy or even maturity to the world, they unwisely choose profanity to try to make their point. When asked to not swear, they say, “I’m my own person,” “That’s how I am and I don’t care what anyone thinks,” or, “It’s my life and I can live it any way I choose.” Well, in a spiritual sense, no, we don’t have the right to live how ever we want, we were bought with a  price if we belong to Christ. It is our responsibility to represent Christ and glorify Him with our speech. But let’s put that aside for a moment and look at it in a purely secular view.

I did a search on “swearing” and found a few secular sites that deal with swearing and why it’s detrimental to the individual as well as society in general. Below I’ve posted thoughts from  a site on the Internet called “Cuss Control” about swearing and how it affects a person and those around them. I found it interesting and very much like the things I’ve told my kids over the years. I found a really good article on an Internet site that is solely for men and it supported the list below as well. Basically that article said it’s not cool or mature, let alone attractive to swear. I’d give you the address of the site, but it had links that I’d just prefer not to pass along, if you know what I mean. 🙂

Please don’t swear. It’s offensive and hurts society in general. Common courtesy should rule. I’ve been assaulted so much lately with profanity that I’ve had to limit my news feed on my Facebook. This ought not so to be. It especially brings me great sorrow when it’s my own children – they certainly know better. They say the more you love someone, the easier and more you can be hurt by that person. I personally know this to be true. I long for the day that they desire to please the One who gave them a life worth living. But, I digress…

Below is the list and if you’d like to see the Cuss Control site that contains this list as well as other comments, click here. Used with permission.

What’s Wrong With Swearing?

Swearing Imposes a Personal Penalty
It gives a bad impression
It makes you unpleasant to be with
It endangers your relationships
It’s a tool for whiners and complainers
It reduces respect people have for you
It shows you don’t have control
It’s a sign of a bad attitude
It discloses a lack of character
It’s immature
It reflects ignorance
It sets a bad example

Swearing is Bad for Society
It contributes to the decline of civility
It represents the dumbing down of America
It offends more people than you think
It makes others uncomfortable
It is disrespectful of others
It turns discussions into arguments
It can be a sign of hostility
It can lead to violence

Swearing corrupts the English language
It’s abrasive, lazy language
It doesn’t communicate clearly
It neglects more meaningful words
It lacks imagination
It has lost its effectiveness

Wow. Who’d have thunk it?

I had attended a wonderful ladies’ Bible study for about 2 1/2 years when I lived in Battle Creek. We’d have discussions quite often on how we’d like to see the church community change, mostly in the line of fellowship and support. We dreamed of a family type atmosphere during our weekly church services much like there used to be back in Bible times where the believers would meet in a home and share their lives in an intimate way. We had this in our Bible study each week … and we wanted it in our church.  There would be a time of exploring the Word with discussion as well as a time for prayer requests –  which included a family type comfort where one would feel free to share failings as well as triumphs. We had thought that perhaps our Christian world had become too sterile, unable to cross the line of intimate fellowship without opening the gate to gossip or murmurings. We walk in, we sit down, listen, and we leave. Rote. Sterile. Lonely. Often the reason behind a lack of intimacy in church is a fear of sin getting in the door or our walls of defense will be penetrated. Either way, it’s a lifestyle of fear.  I remember one pastor telling me a long time ago that he didn’t encourage in home Bible studies because they often turned into gossip or gripe sessions.

But sin gets in the door in all situations, if we let it.

I had another pastor who desired his people to become more entwined in each others lives much like my desire has been, feeling a kinship and a desire to win the world for Christ through relationships.

We came very close to our dream church when we were at our last church. There was great fellowship and we felt very at home. It was a breath of fresh air to just walk into the church building because there were kind and generous people inside – true believers who whom you felt a great kinship in Christ. The preaching was amazing and we grew under the pastor’s teaching. Yet I still craved the closeness I felt at my weekly ladies’ Bible study. One close friend said that we probably couldn’t have the spiritual/emotional intimacy in a formal church setting because of the pews – all facing forward, sectioned off with our backs to each other. I believed she was right. We’ve all set ourselves up to live separately, with thick walls that say, “Don’t come in too close.” Fortunately we didn’t get that message from our pastor’s family or others in the church. We felt loved and accepted there, mostly because of the example the pastor and his wife. They loved us no matter how we messed up or how imperfect we were.

Sunday night I was totally flabbergasted when our evening service took a different turn than what I’m used to. Wow. This new church of ours does that very thing that I had craved so long – we had a time of sharing where each person felt comfortable enough to open up the doors to their hearts and let it be exposed for a refreshing and cleansing – unlike I’ve seen before in a church setting.  We are new at the church, yet we don’t feel like we are new. It is true that you can travel to any part of the world and feel at home where there are fellow believers. The only time that would not ring true would be if the fellow believers are not loving and inviting in the way that we are charged to be in the Scriptures.

Wausau is our home now. I’m very glad it is where God has called us.  We look to the future with a strange sense of expectancy. It feels good to have a song in my heart…oh, The windows of heaven are open, The blessings are falling tonight. There’s joy, joy, joy in my heart, For Jesus made everything right. I gave Him my old tattered garment, He gave me a robe of pure white, I’m feasting on manna from heaven, And that’s why I’m happy tonight.