Monthly Archives: February 2011


Every time I tell my son, Ian, how proud I am of the way he’s behaved or of the work he’s accomplished, I try to remind him that he is no better than other people. God loves us all the same. Even if Ian’s a little smarter than average, God loves him no more than He loves those who are mentally handicapped. In fact, I have known many people handicapped in various ways, and some of them seem to serve God more completely than many others I have known. It seems they don’t have any hidden agendas; their lives are focused on loving God and other people.

If my son behaves exceptionally well for a day, I stress that he is still no better than those who commit crimes. We all sin; we all deserve to pay the consequences. Ian has been lucky to have received the gospel at a young age. In fact, I would go so far as to say that it is worse for us to commit a sin such as gossip than for an unbeliever to commit adultery, etc. We know better; the Holy Spirit tugs at our hearts and says, “Don’t do that.” Yet we often ignore Him and live and act the way we want to.

As I struggle to improve my life spiritually, financially, and physically, I have to resist the little thoughts that float through my head every day. Things such as, “Wow! They are so far behind on their bills already! Why are they buying another video game,” and “Why is she ordering pizza if she’s trying to lose weight?” The worst thing is, I bounce back and forth a lot and do the same exact types of things. I’m no better than anyone else! – Worse, for being tempted to think I am.

Challenge: base your worth on the fact that God created you and loves you. Base it on nothing else. Do your best to remember that God loves us all the same. The next time you even begin to think that you are better than someone else, be it rich man, poor man, beggar man, thief – pray and plead for humility.

Some days, I’m just not a Christian

Have you ever been called by the name of someone who gets one your nerves? Maybe you have a friend named Vanessa, and she talks too much. Your husband may call you “Vanessa” to get your attention and hint that you are going on and on and on… Maybe you know someone who is completely slovenly, and you like to call your husband by that alternate name when he leaves his laundry in the floor. If you’ve ever experienced this, you know how infuriating it can be. It’s almost as bad as sarcasm; depending on the circumstances, maybe even worse.

I’ve long been under the impression that it was this derogatory use of another’s name that produced the label of “Christian.” I don’t think the citizens of Antioch were trying to be nice. “Christian” means “little Christs;” it doesn’t mean “one who is saved.” If you are a Christian, you will act like Christ. I think the Christians of the day were getting on people’s nerves by going around and acting like Christ all the time. Are you a Christian today?

Challenge for today: Be a real Christian. Do your best to emulate the love, actions, and attitude of Christ.


I love to see people offering their services free of charge – such as the offer to help with computers. This is rarely seen, even in the Christian community, yet most of us have some sort of skill that we could offer. If we all would be willing to set aside an hour or two per week to see to the needs of others (such as doing dishes for an elderly couple), we could literally change the world.

Challenge: Go to a condominium that houses senior citizens. Knock on doors and ask if they need anything that day. You will make friends, but more importantly, you may impact the lives of some who are drawing very close to the ends of their lives (thus the beginnings of their eternities). Your acts of kindness may be the catalyst in the lives of those who have been avoiding God.

Ten Minute To-Do List

Or maybe I should call it the Ten Minute Miracle Cure, since I have accomplished so much in the last two days.

My First Problem

I tell myself that I need to be relaxed in order to do a good job on a project. As a result, I feel that I can’t work on a project unless I have a immense span of free time in front of me. Since that never happens in real life, it seems like I’m always struggling to get things done. Sometimes I wait until the last minute, when I absolutely have to make time to get it done. But then other things get pushed out of the way, and I get behind on things like laundry or homeschooling.

My Second Problem

I have too much to do. I usually email myself reminders or leave messages from other people in my inbox so I won’t forget to go to a function or get something done. Since Christmas, my inbox has only been completely empty twice. Yesterday morning, I must have had fifteen messages that I was afraid to delete. Today I’m down to four, and I’m planning to mark all of those off by the end of the day. I generally have so many things that I have to do, I never even get around to the things that I want to do.

My Solution

I made a list of everything that I would like to do every day. It’s quite lengthy, and some of the things on it never even get considered since they aren’t important enough to take time from other projects. But then I told myself that I only had to spend ten minutes a day on each activity. Now usually, I need tons of time to even think about writing or playing the piano, but yesterday, I approached every activity as though I were only going to spend ten minutes doing it. To be honest, I didn’t expect to get much done. I figured that my brain wouldn’t even switch gears fast enough to accomplish any real work; but I was getting so far behind, that I needed to try something new.

The Twist

I did just fine. My brain kicked in immediately, and I was crossing things off my list left and right. I was that close to getting so many things done (within minutes), but all those weeks I kept telling myself I needed more time, so I never got started. Remember that old proverb, “Well begun is half done”? Well, it’s true! Also, I found that once I had started, I would continue a few extra minutes to finish up, especially when I could see the light at the end of the tunnel!

An Added Benefit

You know those things that never, ever get done? You know, like piano practice or teaching your son how to read an analog clock? Well, for things like this, a little goes a long way. Better to spend a few minutes a day reviewing than to try to teach everything all at once, and then dreading the next time you have to do it! (Your kids will appreciate it too!)


I’ve also added a few limitations to my to-do list. A sort of “not to-do list,” for lack of a better term. I’ve limited myself on checking blog stats, checking email, and reading posts on Facebook. Speaking of which, I definitely need a new strategy for Facebook. I don’t want to miss anything, so I generally spend an hour or two a day reading through all of the status updates. Does anyone have a good method for staying caught up without wasting a bunch of time?

If anyone wants an example of my 10-minute to-do list, let me know, and I’ll upload it. I’ve arranged things according to priority, but I left off the things that I do everyday as a matter of course (such as Bible reading, chores, etc.)

Not Real Good with Words

The young man on my porch stammered as he tried to think of a way to begin a conversation. Finally, he just said, “I’m not real good with words…I just thought you might like to see this.” He handed me a DVD and walked away. As I turned the homemade disc over to read the writing, I saw that it was about the Bible. The DVD was the young man’s way of letting me know about Christ. I was struck by his willingness to obey God in spite of his perceived limitations. How many times have I shied away from witnessing to someone for the fear of not knowing all the answers? How many times have I refused to play the piano or sing in church for fear of messing up? How many lives might I have touched if only I were more sensitive to the prompting of the Holy Spirit? I have found that many times, God will call us into an area of the ministry where we don’t feel comfortable serving. Why does He do this?

Exodus 4:10-11

And Moses said unto the Lord, O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither heretofore, nor since thou hast spoken unto thy servant: but I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue.

And the Lord said unto him, Who hath made man’s mouth? or who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? have not I the Lord?

1) We need Him. We must realize that we just can’t minister without Him. If He has called us to a ministry, He will provide the tools to accomplish that ministry.

Judges 7:2

And the Lord said unto Gideon, The people that are with thee are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hands, lest Israel vaunt themselves against me, saying, Mine own hand hath saved me.

2) He wants us to realize that the ministry isn’t about us; it’s about Him. He wants us to stay humble in serving others instead of getting caught up in what a great job we’re doing.

I Corinthians 1:17b

…not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.

3) He wants others to focus on the message, not the flashy music or the perfectly delivered sermon.

II Samuel 24:24a

And the king said unto Araunah, Nay; but I will surely buy it of thee at a price: neither will I offer burnt offerings unto the Lord my God of that which doth cost me nothing.

4) He doesn’t want a sacrifice that costs us nothing to give.

I will never forget a performance I heard one summer at youth camp. A young lady with Down’s Syndrome sang the song “We Are the Reason” in front of hundreds of her peers. I was deeply moved by the message, compounded by the fact that she was willing to respond to the call of God on her life. I knew she wasn’t standing up there because she liked the sound of her own voice. But do you know what? God liked the sound of it. I liked the sound of it. I imagine that her sacrifice was a sweet savor unto God, and was perhaps more precious to Him than many of the offerings of song that we hear in services today. Too many times, we make up excuses why we can’t serve. I challenge you to serve Him in spite of your perceived limitations.

Last of the Train Alphabet Cards

Here is the final train alphabet set – freight car alphabet. I hope you enjoy them!

Edit: I am uploading the entire set now that I have it finished. It is all in one file. This should save you some footwork, lol. If you have any of the blank Avery Flash Cards 2-1/2″ x 4″, the Word Document file will print perfectly on them, as you see in the picture above. I’m not sure how well the PDF file works with them because I haven’t personally tried it. (I just now created the PDF for anyone who can’t download the Word file.)

Alphabet Train Flashcards – Word Document

Alphabet Train Flashcards – PDF

Fun Memorization Technique for Children’s Choir

My 8:30 am homeschool choir always starts out a little slow. The kids are still tired; many of them rush to get to class on time, and some of the youngest members fall asleep on the ride to the studio. On top of all those things, it’s been very cold lately. So to start the day out right and energize a group of sleepyheads, we usually do laps around the chairs. Two days ago when I arrived at class, the room was divided up differently, and it just wasn’t practical to line up 15-20 chairs and run laps around them. There were too many things in the way, and I was afraid the children would trip and fall. So my son helped me put several chairs back-to-back in a smaller area of the room. It reminded me of the set-up for musical chairs, and I asked him if he had ever played. He hadn’t. The class arrived, and we ran small circles around the chairs. Later we started to sing one of our new songs that we are studying for a musical in May. I wanted them to march while singing to drive home the beat a little, and it dawned on everyone that the chairs were arranged for musical chairs. We decided to do the obvious thing, and play the game while learning the new song! It was so much fun! There was plenty of repetition since we sang the song over and over, but the children stayed interested and energized. Before the end of the game, most of the children had put their lyrics down and were singing from memory. They were laughing too, of course, but they were still learning!

New Eyes

Lord, give me new eyes this morning as I contemplate Your Word. Give me a new heart as I interact with others all day long. And give me a refreshed will to do the things You would have me to do, one that obeys even the smallest prompt of Your Holy Spirit.

More easy dinner party recipes

Our favorite appetizer. (It’s my favorite for two reasons: 1. It’s yummy, 2. Jesse makes it, not me):

Spinach-Artichoke Dip

I kid you not, this stuff is just as good as the dip that Applebees makes.

Two 8 oz. packages of cream cheese

One 8 1/2 oz. can of artichoke hearts (cut into 1/4 inch pieces)

One 9 oz. package of frozen spinach (easier if thawed ahead of time)

1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese

1 teaspoon of garlic salt

1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper

2 teaspoons of oregano

1/2 cup of shredded mozzarella

Pre-thaw spinach, or thaw in a skillet or saucepan. Add cream cheese until it starts to get soft. (You could let the cream cheese sit on the counter for a while before you begin cooking; it’s gets softer and easier to work with). Add artichoke hearts, Parmesan, and spices. Stir until everything is melted together.

Place in serving dish and add mozzarella while still hot enough to melt the cheese (optional). For a nicer touch, you could throw it all into the oven until the mozzarella browns a little.

Our favorite chips to use with this dip are flour tortillas that we cut into triangles with a pizza cutter (we like thin, dry tortillas best for chips). Cook on 350 degrees for 5-10 minutes. We don’t add anything to them, and we like them just fine. Others may want to brush the chips with olive oil and add salt before cooking. I assume that corn tortillas would be good as well. Pita bread prepared the same way is also very good with this dip (we don’t do anything to the pita bread either, other than cut it up). However, pita bread needs to be eaten while warm, because after it cools, it gets very hard (so only make as much as you can consume in a few minutes).