Tuesday, December 31, 2013

A Year of Blessings

Hours away from another year and all I can think of writing about is all the blessings the Lord has provided in the past year. 
(I'm a little frustrated, though. I wrote half of this post, lost it, and had to start from scratch again. So, I'm cutting the length of it back quite a bit, as I've spent a lot of time on it already.)

Since I havn't added to my gratitude list in quite awhile, I decided to write some things over the last couple of weeks that I'm grateful for, as well as some favorite pictures and what I'm thankful for in 2013. 

1,561 - Being with family for Christmas.
1,562 - Bingo game gift exchange...a family tradition.
1,563 -  Bringing in another year with my hubby.
1,564 -  Being able to enjoy everything that goes with living on the lake.
1,565 -  The last of the Coots on the lake, right before it froze completely over.
 1,566 - Watching the lake start to freeze, as leaves blow over the top of the ice.
 1,567 - A bird nest in the neighbor's tree...a lingering sign of life before winter officially hit.

1,568 - All the beautiful scenery I've enjoyed on the lake. 

 1,569 - Animal life on the lake, so versitile!
 1,570 - Having great times with family and friends on the lake.
 1,571Seeing my best friend!
 1,572 - Becoming a "great aunt"(She's 8 months old already!)
 1,573 - Tyler moved out of the house and 4 hours away to go to college.  
1,574 - Being able to visit Tyler 3 times.  

1,575 - Lots of great memories with my two dogs, Jet and Sophie. 
 (Unfortunately, she passed away on December 6th)

1,576 - My son coming home for Thanksgiving and Christmas!    

1,577 - Got a new puppy on December 30th...a new family member for a new year ahead!

1,578 -the Lord, leading me in my current job and into the new year with a new position.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Happy Holidays...Really?{Life Without Christ}

Hello, everyone. Today is my last in a series I've been writing for the Christmas season. Today, I've had to dig deep, as my thoughts lately have been very scattered and writing hasn't come easily for me. (Have you ever had that happen?)

One of my favorite Christmas movies is "It's A Wonderful Life" with James Stewart. I watch almost every year at this time. (I actually watched it last week.) The thing that intrigues me the most about this movie is the question that is presented.
"What would happen if you'd never been born?" 

Everyone who's ever watched the movie knows that this was the wish that the main character, George Bailey, made and his guardian angel, Clarence, decided to let George see exactly how it would have been if he weren't born. Ultimately, it reveals how great of an impact he made on everyone's life around him. Not only did he change other's lives for the good, but he also saved lives and impacted hundreds of people.

Have you ever thought about what it would be like for each of us, if Christ hadn't been born, died on the cross, and risen from the dead? I shudder at the thought of it! But, for just one moment, I would like us to think about it, because to many people who aren't saved, Christ was never born or nor died for their sins.

It is evident that without Jesus our world would be a different place than the one we have now. So here are some points:

Although many committed Christians owned slaves in history, it was Christians who historians credit with being the primary force behind ending international slave trade. Two-thirds of the members of the American abolition society in 1835 were Christian ministers. Wilberforce, Charles Finney, William Lloyd Garrison, Edward Beecher, and Theodore Dwight Weld all battled to abolish slavery. John Gregg Fee, the evangelical founder of Berea College in Kentucky called out to God in prayer on his knees and said “Lord, if needs be, make me an Abolitionist.” (Gary Haugen, Good News About Injustice, pg 62-63).

In the ancient world, for example in classical Rome or Greece, infanticide was not only legal, it was applauded. Killing a Roman was murder, but it was commonly held in Rome that killing one’s own children could be an act of beauty. Through a higher view of life, it was the early Christian church that ultimately brought an end to infanctide.
The modern pro-life movement is largely Christian. This pro-life view has been true from the very beginning of Christianity.

From the beginning of Judaism, from which Christianity is derived, there was an emphasis on the written word. But the phenomenon of education for the masses has its roots in the Protestant Reformation. 

In his book Love Your God with All Your Mind: The Role of Reason in the Life of the Soul by J. P. Moreland traces the history of what has happened in relation to the Christian mind.
Moreland discusses the history of the pilgrims arriving to the United States in the middle of the nineteenth century. The Pilgrims along with other American believers placed a high value on the intellectual life in relation to Christian spirituality. The Puritans were highly educated people (the literacy rate for men in Massachusetts and Connecticut was between 89 and 95 percent) who founded colleges, taught their children to read and write before the age of six, studied art, philosophy, and other fields as well. Evangelical scholars such as Jonathan Edwards were scholarly and well informed about other fields other than theology.

All but one of the first 123 colleges in colonial America were Christian institutions. While these universities have lost their Christian identities, it is interesting to read the founding statements of these schools. Harvard, for example, was founded on this statement: “Let every student be plainly instructed, and earnestly pressed to consider well, the main end of his life and studies is, to know God and Jesus Christ which is eternal life, John 17:3.”

The Printing Press
In order to promote Bible literacy, Christians have been leaders in education. This trend was accelerated with the advent of the printing press at about the same time as the Protestant Reformation. Many of the world’s languages were first set to writing by Christian missionaries in order for people to read the Bible.

A theist asserts that the physical universe is not all there is. There is an infinite, personal God who created it, sustains it and can act within it in a natural and non-natural way.

One of the most outspoken and prolific writers on the relationship between science and religion is physicist Rev. Dr John Polkinghorne. His website is here: Or, feel free to read up on former atheist Alister McGrath/Christian theologian, who holds both a DPhil (in molecular biophysics) and an earned Doctor of Divinity degree from Oxford. He is noted for his work in historical, systematic and scientific theology.To read more on this topic, see Nancy Pearcy’s article called Christianity is a Science Starter, Not a Science-Stopper.

Compassion and Mercy
Both historically and statistically, Christianity has led the way to alleviate suffering in the world. Just to name a few of these organizations that continue to alleviate suffering in the world are Samaritans Purse, The Salvation Army, The Red Cross, World Vision, Christian Foundation for Children and Aging, United Methodist Committee on Relief, ChildFund International, Catholic Relief Services, Operation Blessing, Lutheran World Relief, Prison Fellowship Ministry, and Habitat for Humanity. Not to mention the countless of efforts by local churches and the hospitals that have been built all around the world.
I also recalled that Rick Warren had taken most of his profits from his best-selling Purpose Driven Life book (which 30 million copies worldwide) and directed it towards the global HIV/AIDS crisis.

Now I know I will hear the objection that people don’t need God to alleviate suffering in the world. And I know that there are humanitarian organizations that aren’t faith based. But to be honest, I don’t see any possibility of the end of Christian based organizations leading the way in doing everything they can to alleviate suffering in the world.
Work ethic
Principles that were always in the Bible were adapted by the American founders. Self-reliance and self-denial are the foundation of the famous “Protestant work ethic.” These doctrines are at the heart of our economic (and political) way of life.

Free Enterprise
Anyone who doubts the relationship of Biblical ideas to free enterprise need only to note the stark contrast with communism. Communism is specifically an atheistic system that relies on the non-biblical notion that all men are good (thus will work for the common good). But communism has been an abject economic failure.

The Christian faith has influenced literature in such Christian writers such as Dante, Chaucer, Donne, Dostoevsky, Shakespeare, Dickens, Milton, and scores more.


Had Jesus never been born, music would likely sound very different from what we’re used to. There may never have developed the cantata, the concerto, or the symphony. Handel, Vivaldi, and Bach were Christians who worked to honor God with their work. Bach, for example, signed all his works with Soli Deo Gloria (“Solely to the glory of God”).

Art has likewise been magnificently impacted by Jesus. Classical Christian art tries to bring out the best of mankind–pointing us to a higher plane. Artists like Michelangelo used his paintings to honor Jesus. Incredible architecture in the beautiful cathedrals in Europe were built to honor Christ.

Here is a 8 minute special presentation on how Christ's birth affected all we have today. If you have some time to watch it, it is very informative (and a great resource of info. for those who don't believe in the importance of Christ's birth).
 Salvation and Hope:
Most importantly, without Christ's birth, He would not have lived among us, nor died for our sins, and we would not have the hope of eternity in Heaven with Him one day.
The unsaved, though, have no hope! For them, the Savior wasn't born in a manger, so long ago! Oh, how despairing and meaningless Christmas, (or the "holidays" must ultimately be for them. 

Throughout this Christmas series, I've emphasized how loving the unlovable people in our families, living generously, and being mission-minded are what believers are called to when we choose to celebrate this special day, Christ's birth!! Then, when those who have no hope, see our hope and joy, may they choose to give their lives to Jesus and celebrate the true meaning of Christmas!!

 Had to share this song, too....A Baby Truly Changes Everything!!!

Sharing with you the Glory,
the Wonder, the Miracle
of this Holy Season.
Have a Blessed Christmas and New Year.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Happy Holidays....Really? {Called To Missions}

Have you ever felt unsure or wary when you think God may be  calling you to do something that you hadn't anticipated? (Especially if it's something that may be risky or outside of your comfort zone.)  - I want to tell you what God has been doing in my life and my heart! (Bear with me, as this is a bit lengthy, but SO worth reading to the end!)

For over a year, I have been working as a part-time receptionist in my church's counseling program.
I have loved working there, so it never occurred to me to consider looking at a different position.  And, of course, I was a bit taken aback when, about 4 months ago, one of the pastors of another of my church's programs came to me to see if I would like to take a new position that was opening up, saying that he thought that I would be the perfect match for the position

I can't lie. I hesitated. I love what I'm doing now and the new position requires more hours, more responsibility, and possibly some challenging situations. I prayed about it and just wasn't up to the idea of change in my life at the time. That's what I initially told him, too. So he started advertising through the church bulletin and internet that there was an opening, but asked me to keep praying about it. I said I would, but couldn't imagine changing my mind. 

A few weeks later, he came to me again and asked what it would take for me to reconsider. I said, "Less hours and I still want to work a few days at my receptionist job that I am doing now." He said he would work on trying to work it into the position. I thought, "Wow, he really wants me to do this job." Ultimately, though he just couldn't financially see changing the position to have less hours. So we both concluded, once again, that this wasn't to be. 

A few months went by. A handful of people applied and interviewed for the position.  Still, the pastor did not feel like any of the applicants were right for the job. In the meantime, another gal I work with had been filling in here and there to get part of the job covered as best she could. (She didn't want the job, as she works full time in the counseling center). During this time, I felt bad that nobody had been hired into the position, but had still felt like I could not take on all the extra hours. I struggled with the thought that maybe God WAS calling me to take the job and had actually thought about taking the job a time or two. Ultimately, I did my best to ignore that thought, when it came to me.

A few weeks ago, I was working at my reception job, when the same pastor approached me, for the third time, about the job. He still felt like I was the best candidate for the job (which kind of blew me away.) This time, though, he said he had been thinking that maybe I could still do my reception job and part of the new job, while my co-worker continued to do the part of the job that she had been doing. That was a BIG "maybe", as we didn't even know if she would be willing to go along with it. I felt like God must be in this somehow though, since I had also recently had the thought about taking the job. So, I prayed about it and talked with my hubby, while the pastor talked to my co-worker and counseling program director.  Unbelievably, everyone was open to it. The next thing that needed to be o.k.'d was the funding to have us both do part of the job. That was approved this past week. So, I will officially be changing some of my job description and a few more hours added, come the first of the year. (This also means I will most likely be cutting back on how often I will post on my blogs.)

Here is a description of what our church's "Community Care" Program, that I'll be working in, offers.

Often the road of life turns when we least expect it. These curves can leave us feeling frustrated, confused, overwhelmed, and unsure. We often don’t know who to call to help us figure how to put our lives back on the right path.
Warsaw Community Church has organized the Community Care Ministry for times such as these. The Community Care Ministry is made up of individuals and teams who desire to be there with you for life’s many problems and help you through the tough times — whatever they may be!
Some ways we help:
• Prayer Support
• Support during Hospital Stays

Personal Hospital Visits
— Assisting with Meals 
— Running Errands
— Cleaning House
• Homebound or Nursing Home Care Assistance
• Grief Support
• Minor Home Repairs & Maintenance
• Minor Auto Repairs
• Personal, Marital and Family Counseling
• Financial Counseling

My job description as  Community Care Co-Administrator - Co-Coordinate(with my co-worker) the support, service and administrative efforts of the Community Care ministry. 
  • Direct the flow of information from the church body and community into the Warsaw Community Church Community Care ministry and coordinate the response from Community Care.
  • Assist to the Pastors/Directors, including providing support and service to maximize the effectiveness of this ministry area and the overall organization to pursue the mission and vision of Warsaw Community Church.
 Essential Functions:
1)   Make a weekly church prayer list/letter
2)   Care Fund management 
3)   Computer Database management 
4)   Receiving calls and information from congregation and community and relaying to proper staff
5) Leading Helping Hearts church community volunteer teams
6) Maintain process for documenting all Community Care activity
7) Assist in verbal communications (i.e. follow-up calls, team leader contact, etc.)
8) Assist in written communications needs
9) Oversee and manage all resource and supply needs
10) Other assistance as requested through the Community Care ministry
Our church also has been partnering with our local homeless shelter that is in the process of expanding and remodeling a building for the homeless to live in!

From their website....
"Fellowship Missions Homeless Shelters were created to meet the needs of people in our community through sharing the love and hope of Jesus Christ. It is our heart’s desire to give individuals a safe and loving place and to help them achieve a better way for themselves and their families."
  • What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. — James 2:14-17, NLT
Here is also a video that the shelter made, showing how God is doing great things through the caring hearts of our community, church family, and believers! If you watch it, I'm sure it will touch your heart, as it has mine!

What a unique path God has led me down, not just over the past several months, but throughout my life.  The one thing that keeps running through my thoughts and in my heart is how He has shown me that no matter what I do, I am called to missions, to help those who are in need and to show them the love of Christ. I'm very excited, but also nervous about this new responsibility I will have. 
But I know the Lord led me to it
so He will lead me through it!!

Often, at Christmastime, the needs of the less fortunate and downhearted is great. What a wonderful opportunity we have to love, encourage, and serve others in our community. And every community has at least a few programs that works to serve those in need, whether it's through the Salvation Army, a local homeless shelter, local churches, or other programs. I encourage all of us to get involved or contribute to at least one of them, even if it's just a little. If the Lord has been tugging at your heart or in special circumstances, like He has recently with mine, I hope you will open your heart, pray, and ask Him to help you see if He wants you to respond. It's not always easy. Sometimes we have to step out of the box and get our hands a little dirty. But I do believe, when we answer God's calling, we will receive peace and joy in our lives.

I love our church's motto:
"Let's "be the church," as we reach out to those in our community who are encountering tough times."

We often think being called to missions means going to another country and adjusting to a new culture. I believe that we can serve others right where we are. As believers, God calls all of us to "missions"...to offer what we can (our finances, our time, and most importantly, our hearts) and live graciously!

Linking over to these blog hops:
Faith Filled Friday (Missional Women)