Friday, June 26, 2009

Love, Respect and No Drips!

Last night my hubby and I attended a class on marriage. The focus was love and respect; how a woman needs love and a man needs respect. We have been married for 26 years now and have been very committed to our marriage and have pursued each other passionately. We have attended several marriage retreats, classes, done bible studies on marriage, taught classes on marriage, read many books, and practiced what we have learned. But we have also found that we can never rest on our laurels and think we don't have to work on our relationship. Sometimes we slip up and within a few days we find ourselves fussin' and fightin' over silly things and driftin' apart. It doesn't take long to go from a fantastic marriage to an irritating self seeking existence. When that happens one of us will hear God's voice and wake from our stupor and apologize. Even when I want to stay mad, I can't for the words, "I'm sorry, I was a butt head" melts my heart. Weird how that works!

No matter what we read or study, we always need...yes, stay in close contact with God through prayer. God is so gracious to us when we humble ourselves and ask for guidance. Why does it take me so long sometimes to humble myself? Why do I want to have my own way and find ways to manipulate my hubby into doing what I want? Shame on me!!

It still amazes me how much we have grown closer together as we individually grow pursue God. I have been studying Proverbs in preparation for the message I will give at the Woman's Day in July, and I have to admit that the verses about the nagging wife upsets me. First of all because I am in denial and then because I am convicted. Could I possibly be a nagging wife? "A nagging wife is as annoying as a constant dripping on a rainy day" (Prov. 27:15 NLT) I would rather be considered as "more precious than jewels." (Prov. 31)

This morning when hubby left for work, he told me as he always does that he loved me, and for a change I told him that I respected him. We both laughed! He still wants to be told that I love him, and I want to know that he respects me. Love may be my top need, but respect is a close second.

My Interpretation:

It is through our relationship with God that we have a great relationship with one another....without God's intervention, our marriage could be just two people sharing a house and children. We want passion, love, respect and adventure! No dripping here...from either one of us!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Vacation Bible School…Queen Esther and gifts.

If you read my blog yesterday, you realized I was a little disturbed about the whole point system and rewards for giving money and gifts to the missions. Please know that I totally support missions, financially through my family's individual efforts and our church contributions. What I was worried about was the child being singled out for not giving. Last night the gifts were collected during the opening ceremony and the child just left it in the pew. The teacher made a note on her score card if the child brought something; so the other children, I don't think, even noticed if a gift was given or not. I think this is a better way than in a small group.

There are so many dedicated volunteers it's amazing! Every age group has at least three teachers and the younger group has even more. You can tell, they love children and want them to experience God. As the different groups came into my classroom to visit with Queen Esther, I was able to see how interested the children are in learning about the characters in the Bible. From first grader to fifth grade, the children were well behaved and listened intently on what Queen Esther had to say about Mordecai, the good guy, Haman, the bad man, and how Queen Esther was able to beg the King to save her people, the Jews.

My little princess (granddaughter) was in the first grade class and she made sure everyone knew I really wasn't Queen Esther but Grandma Barb. I am hoping being Grandma Barb is better to her then me being Queen Esther! I want so much for her to understand that God has a plan for her life just like He did for Queen Esther, and that one day she will walk into her destiny if she seeks God with her whole heart and soul. That was one point I wanted the children to take away …God has an individual plan for each of us. Amen!

My Interpretation:

God is in control and He watches over the little ones. His Holy Spirit will teach the children and lead them along the path holding their hands and guiding them into their destiny!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Vacation Bible School...what's our focus?

I have always enjoyed Vacation Bible School, watching the little ones learn about God and His people. There is this sense of awe in knowing the children will hear that God loves them for if they live in a home where those words or even the word love, is not spoken, they will hear it during VBS week. My grandchildren love the crafts and music too. Baby Hay, 3, remembers usually one thing, and tells me all about it. Princess, 6, remembers the songs and wants to sing them over and over.

Having been a VBS director, I certainly know the time and effort that goes into planning the week. Finding other volunteers who may be coming home and then quickly changing clothes and grabbing a bite to eat before spending three hours in a noisy environment, can be challenging. But God calls His people to help him get His words to the younger generation.

Missions has become a very important focus of VBS, rightly so. We want our children to know about the efforts of our missionaries and how we can help them. We take up an offering at the beginning of the VBS, every day; boys against the girls, to see who can bring in the most money for the mission. That in itself doesn't bother me, except for those children coming for the first time to church and not understanding (nor do their parents) how God is the One who propels us to do good by helping others. At the end of the day, our focus is how much money was brought in by the children and if they bring in enough they will have breakfast with the main characters of the theme. Are they giving because they understand how they help people or are they enthralled with all the hupla and reward.

The children have several ways to earn points so they can receive a prize at the end of the week. The point system involves, coming to VBS, coloring a picture, memorizing a Bible verse and bringing items for the missions, such as toilet paper, garbage bags or paper towels. So when the children are in their small group, they will be singled out if they do not bring an item. Let's say, little Susie comes from a family that brings 4 children to VBS, and they are not financially secure themselves. This causes undue stress upon the parents who tells the child that they just can't afford to send any items. Little Susie then goes to class and everyone else gets extra points for bringing paper towels. At the end of the week, Susie has done everything else asked of her but because her parents wouldn't send an item , she doesn't get as many points as the others in her class and therefore feels shame. Why would we put our children in this position?

I just can't imagine Jesus using our children to raise money. I can see Him using VBS to reach the children and their parents, telling them biblical truths and encouraging them to help others. But let's face it, if you are using this to teach the children about giving in secret as Jesus requires, we have missed His lesson. I took a child home and explained to the mother about the gifts and offering to the missions. She is a single mom with 4 children and a limited income and she loves the Lord. But her response surprised me yet it supports my stand. She jokingly replied, "Well we can't have people looking down on us, so I'll get something for them to take!"

Some people may have that attitude for real and it certainly is not what God requires. Now, I know she was just joking but for those not in church, what does this say to them? I believe in VBS and how it is vital for a church to reach the children. I want my grandchildren to attend and they love going to church, but I don't want them to think that they are to give money so they will be held in high esteem and win a prize. We give because God owns it all and we are to help others. Plain and should not be an extraordinary thing but an ordinary everyday choice we should make without even thinking about it.

My Interpretation:

That's just it...this is my interpretation and you may not agree with me at all. I am just trying to work through what I feel about how we use VBS as a means to support a mission and not as an outreach to teach Jesus and His ways only.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Father's Day!

My husband deserves the award for the best dad! He not only married me but he married my two sons who were then 8 and 10; now they are 34 and 36! Later we had two more sons who are now 17 and 22. My boys have a good role model and I am so proud of my hubby. Being a step father...a term we never not an easy task. But my hubby has grown in his faith and he tries to be a godly earthly father so they will see the characteristics of our heavenly Father.

Oh, I can remember times when tempers would flare and I was caught in the middle, but once I realized it was a man thing and I didn't interfere, they worked things out. Now my sons, all four of them, call and ask for advice and when they are together they still play basketball. Of course, I was the one who taught them how to do the lay up. Ha! Ha! We laughed about that yesterday.

I know I have talked about my dad before, but he is an amazaing dad and he is the best dad for me!!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Getting Ready for a Spiritual Spa

We, the spa TECH's, got together tonight to pray over the Spiritual Spa we are having on Saturday. I can not express in words what it is like being with women who are so on fire for the Lord. This group of women want to pamper other ladies, physically, emotionally and spiritually! What does that mean exactly...well, you need to come to a spa to find out! So many who are invited are not comfortable with the unknown but when they finally take the steps to join us for the day, they are happy they did. We have a lot of fun and yet there are serious times when God reaches deep into our souls and tells us He loves us.

I met with our Women's Ministry team this week too, and this is another group that loves the Lord and allows Him to guide them on what programs and Bible studies to offer to other that will bring women into a closer relationship with Him. He is the ONE we want to glorify.

I love how God weaves these precious sisters in my life. Never a dull moment.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Pretty Face, Beautiful Heart!

I received the above poster in an email many months ago and stored it in my files. I don't know Martin Buxbaum but I wonder if this is a picture of his mother or grandmother. For him to see the beauty of a woman as more than an outward appearance, says a lot about a man's heart. Maybe the beauty of his face is now in his heart or maybe he is the recipient of a beautiful love shown to him by this woman. I just don't want to think the composition is made up from faces of ladies that he doesn't know at all. (Which is more likely.)

Putting together a power point for the Senior Saints at my church, was such a joy for me. The pictures of years gone by, were place side-by-side with recent photos. Some of the older ladies in my church were down right gorgeous! They could have won beauty contests and gone on to be movie stars, but they chose to be mothers and nurses, teachers and mill workers. Their faces are still beautiful but they also have a beauty that emanates from their hearts . They are kind and compassionate and so non-judgmental. They have lived their lives with integrity and their children call them blessed. Even if they have anything in their past that would embarrass them, I don't know about it and I don't want to know about it, for I can see Christ living in them and working through them.

Wonder what my face will look like when I am in my eighties? More important, will there be beauty in my heart. Some days I imagine my older life and I always think of me and my man cuddling up together on the beach. Of course both of us are in good shape and look fantastic for really old people. Ha! Ha! Our love is strong and we hold hands as we walk along talking about our hopes and dreams....the ones fulfilled and the ones yet to be dreamed. My heart is overflowing with love for my children and grandchildren and everyone is together and happy. Life is always good in my dreams. Actually, real life isn't too bad either!

My Interpretation:

A pretty face would be nice, but a beautiful heart filled with God's love is worth more than silver and gold!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Kindergartners and Meeting a new friend from Latvia.

Looking into the eyes of my granddaughter as she saw me enter her classroom was priceless. I happened to be the only parent...well, join the teacher as she walked with the 16 kindergartners to the house hosting their end of the year party. I could tell they were excited by the high squeals and constant motion. I felt like I was herding young calves (which I have done) trying to spur them to walk a little faster and to stay in line. Actually they were very good listeners and the journey was fun.

The backyard was filled with the blow up water slides and the children had no problem jumping in and having fun. After a few hours in the sun, the teacher even climbed up the slide (which is harder then you think) and slid down amongst the giggles of the kids. Us adults were having a good laugh as we cheered and encouraged her to do it again. I'll give it to the teacher; it would have taken a lot for me to go down the slide in front of all the parents and grandparents.

My little princess loved having her face painted and her hair sprayed green. It was interesting to see how they interacted with one another. Of course, they have been together for 9 months, so they should know one another pretty well. The parents on the other hand, only see each other at special events, and for me I was meeting most of them for the first time. One lady was new to the area and so we talked about living in a small town as opposed to the large city in Virgina where she was raised. A pregnant mom and her mother were also there; so three generations raised in this area were able to enjoy an afternoon together. That was nice.

My favorite new person was a young lady who was there painting flowers and animals on the faces of the children. She is here from Latvia. I hope I spelled that right. What a treat to talk to this 21 year old who is a believer of God and is here doing research on American idioms. I told her about my trip to Haiti and how seeing their poverty changed me. Her insights into the American culture and our over indulgences with food were right on target. We fix more than we can possibly eat and then we throw away good food because we don't want to eat left overs. I am so guilty of that! I hope I can meet with her again before she leaves in July.

Yep! Today was a good day. Meeting new people and enjoying my little princess.

My Interpretation:

God's people are all around us. Sometimes we may seem to be alone and wonder if we should even mention His name in conversation, but when we do in a casual way, His people take notice! When Aggie and I realized we were both Christians, our conversation became even more interesting!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Freedom Today!

Last Monday I received an email from Amy Swoope with "Freedom Today" and she asked if I would be interested in giving my testimony on their (Robin Bertam, is the co-host) TV program that will be aired in Norway, England, Africa and some places in the US. They were also interested in Spiritual Spa Ministries. I was elated to be able to share what God has done in my life! I told Amy about my Tuesday group and how we meet to encourage one another in our businesses and ministries, as we walk into the destiny God created for us from the very beginning. So they invited my friends too!

Three days later, Caroline, Donna and I went to Wake Forest for the taping and met two women who are running to keep up with God! He has opened so many avenues for them to shower people with His love, that they can't even stop to write it down in a journal; which Caroline encouraged them to do. You can go to Robin Bertram Ministries (just click on her name) to get a glimpse of who she is and what she's doing. Her niece, Amy Swoope, and husband, Ken, greeted us like we were long lost friends coming to sit for a chat about our lives.

I gotta tell you though, it was hot under the lights and they had no A/C, so we did have to blot our faces a lot, but being under HIS LIGHT while we were talking with them was amazing. I have no idea when this will be aired and I am hoping we will get a copy before it does. I wasn't nervous but very excited and so I did ramble a bit....well more than a bit, but they will splice and dice so hopefully they will have enough video to put together a segment for their show.

Robin read my testimony before the interview and then asked me about the love letters to God that I wrote years ago and about my God encounters. Then we did a brief segment on Spiritual Spa. I kept thinking what does God want me to do with all this. I am still trying to process it all. Who knows what may come of this encounter...God certainly does. Those of you who read my blog, please keep me in your prayers. I only want to do His will. Spiritual Spa Ministries has been in my heart for going on seven years and the ladies who minister with me are so godly and precious to me. Susan, Polly, Tracy, Nancy, Patti D. and Patti Y, Diane, and now Jo, Sonya and Kristy willingly pamper other ladies with the love of Christ.

We not only want to serve other ladies during the one day event but we also want to teach them how to have their own Spiritual Spa. We have had churches close to us from towns in North Carolina (Rocky Mount, Wilson, Gaston, Ahoskie, Garysburg) and a church from New Jersey! Our visitors have been from Ohio, Texas, Florida and of course, North Carolina. I can't wait to see who God calls to us next!

My Interpretation:

I am at a loss of words....God is up to something and I hope I hear Him correctly so I can obey!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Women, Take Charge!with Carolyn Castleberry (from an Word of Life! devotion)

"Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days." (Joel 2:29)
This week's devotional is adapted from Carolyn Castleberry's book Women, Take Charge of Your Money: A Biblical Path to Financial Security God can bring a number of people into your life to show you how to be victorious in the frightening area of finances. You can learn from many of them in regard to both success and failure.

But as someone to learn from, one person in particular stands out, and I love the fact that she is a woman. I hope you also discover that she is someone much like you, though she lived in an age that was less kind to females than ours, one that didn't afford them all the opportunities we have now. She juggled relationships and career and took it one step further: she became an investor, just as you can. An investor in God. An investor in her family. And an investor in business, in something that would provide financially for her family long into the future. This was her field of dreams, and my goal is to help you consider and find your own field to help provide security for your future in peace in your present.

Let's take a closer look at this remarkable woman from Proverbs 31. Love her or hate her, you have to admit she is a breath of fresh air in a long lineup of other female mug shots depicted in Proverbs. Proverbs overflows with less-than-glowing descriptions of women. There are wayward wives, prostitutes and women with smoother-than-oil lips. We find strange women, loud women, defiant women and wives who are like a continual drip on a rainy day or decay in their husband's bones. There are women whose feet never stay home, brazen-faced women and even a woman so repulsive she's likened to a gold ring in a pig's snout!

However, the book of Proverbs opens and closes with positive portraits of our gender: first, a woman personified as wisdom (Proberbs 3-4, 8-9), then in Proverbs 31, an "excellent wife" who seemingly can do no wrong. In contrast to the nagging, adulterous, mean-spirited female images in much of Proverbs, the woman in chapter 31 is God-fearing, strong, wise and immensely capable.

She puts God at the top of her priority list (v 30). She made family her next priority (vs 21, 28). She had a positive outlook (v 25). She put her creative talents to work (vs 13, 24). She was a careful investor (v 16). She was a hard worker (v 19). She was generous (v 20). She was tough (vs 15, 17, 18, 25). She reaped positive rewards (vs 11, 31).

Do you hate her yet? Many women do because her example has been thrown in the faces of ordinary women who feel they cannot possibly live up to her standards. But let's take another look.

I have decided to give this capable lady a fictional name, because referring to her only as "the Proverbs 31 woman" can seem so distant and impersonal. So I named her "Proven" -- combining the beginning of the word Proverbs and the last letters of women.

Proverbs + women = a Proven, winning plan

Clearly, Proven was very much involved in her family's financial life. She made linen garments and sold them. She considered a field and bought it. From her earnings she plants a vineyard. And remember, this resourceful lady didn't have a laptop or any other high-tech tools to work with. Proven worked with what she had the time.
Notice that the passage doesn't say her husband did all the work and gave her shopping allowance. In fact, it mentions that she plants a vineyard with her own earnings. She created both immediate and future wealth and provision for her family. Proven’s model for financial well-being can be summed up in three simple words: create, consider, and invest. She created products, she considered her field of investment, and then she actually bought it!
You can do the same thing in your life -- in God’s unique way for you.

This WeekStudy Proverbs 31 and let the Lord inspire you in new ways.
Prayer"Father, make me a woman who proves your Word and glorifies your kingdom in every way."

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Newlyweds and New Beginnings and still Sharing with Others

My third son and his wife finally moved into their own apartment where for the first time since they became husband and wife, will be alone. My son just graduated from UNC and so they have been living with my second son in his house where also my first son now lives. They all work together for Accounting Squared, which is the company #1 and #2 sons founded and #3 son's business Layman Financials does projects for them. It is all quite amazing that they have survived the living arrangements. My sisters and I tried that for brief times but it didn't last very long. Maybe it is because you can only have one woman per household. Bless my daughter-in-love for putting up with three brothers.

So I have been in Raleigh painting and putting up pictures. I am so happy they asked me to help because sometimes I feel neglected....pity me, please! I am not a decorator at all but I can paint walls if they pick out the color. This was a gift my father gave me when I was very young. He showed me how to hold the brush, roll the paint on the wall, and most importantly, how to clean the brush. Cleaning up afterwards took the most time and usually I was so tired I wanted to skip that step, but he insisted I do it right. I am so glad he did.

So now the bright yellow room was changed to Sweet ?, can't remember the name. But I do love the color green and this shade is especially calming (and it made the hardwood floors look great). This will be my son's office and weight room...I guess he can work out as he is thinking his way through projects.

Those two young love birds will only have two months to themselves before her brother moves in while he goes to college. When I said something about it has to be tough living with other people when you are newlyweds, my son said, "My brothers helped me and now I wnat to help K's brother. It's the right thing to do." Oh my gosh! He lives his Christianity and doesn't just talk it like I sometimes do. I gotta admit I am not sure I would want someone to live with me. He not only doesn't care that his brother-in-law lives with them, he sees it as an offering of love.

My Interpretation:

Living your life as a Christian is so much better than just speaking about your life as a Christian. I can learn so much from my children.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Small Business Expo

Over the weekend I along with my good friend Donna, went to the Home-Based Business Expo in Rocky Mount. The class we attended was put on by the Small Business Administration facilitated by Mr. Ivan Hankins. The information was very valuable for anyone who wants to finance a small business. I also met Joyce Siler, the director of Women's Business Center from Raleigh. She is over the northeastern section of NC. I could tell she loves her job and truly wants to help women pursue their careers.

Small business owners had booths set up in the Conference and Training Center of the Edgecomb County Business/Industrial Incubator. There were various types of businesses represented from toys to make-up to jewelry.

God always has a plan when he sends me to something like this. I wasn't sure why I was attending and I don't think Donna did either but we were so blessed by the people we met and we walked away saying, "WOW, how is God going to use this information and networking to bring Him glory?"

I was able to share about Spiritual Spa to a lady who is a Silpada representative. I had never heard of Silpada and even though I don't wear much jewelry, I loved the artistry of the necklaces and earrings. Kendal Hartel was so pleasant and I was immediately drawn to her spirit. As it turned out she is a strong Christian and a godly parent of a teenage girl. I could tell God is important to her and the Holy Spirit is in her. I am overjoyed that she is doing so well with her business and I pray God will bless her richly. I am giving her information to my Kendall and maybe, just maybe God will use this as a business for her. He works in mysterious ways.

I also met a woman, Jackie, who is starting a business for children, teens and their parents where they can come for good recreation. She was a teacher in New York and has moved to the Rocky Mount area. During a class we were to tell what we did and when I said Spiritual Spa Ministries she turned and gave me the "He's my God too" look.

It was a good morning and I felt if nothing else, God let me meet two of my sisters (in Christ)!

My interpretation:

God is everywhere and when we listen to Him, He will show us His people are everywhere too! He wants to bless us financially so we can bless others.