Gossip

gossip

Have you heard?

Please don’t repeat this to anyone.

Let’s just keep this between you and me, shall we?

I’ve said each of these phrases before. At times, they have been perfectly acceptable. And yes, other times I’ve said them to my shame. Gossip is an ugly sin.  It breaks hearts, hurts marriages, ruins friendship, ends careers, destroys ministries, generates grief, and tarnish reputations. It is no respecter of persons and the more it’s repeated the more it’s believed.

If you’ve ever been hurt by gossiping words, you understand how painful it can be. And, if you’ve ever been gossiped to, be prepared to be gossiped about. That’s the nature of this beast.

The scriptures warn us about the use of our tongues.

  • Whoso keepeth his mouth and his tongue keepeth his soul from troubles. (Pro 21:23)
  • In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin: but he that refraineth his lips is wise. (Pro 10:19)
  • A talebearer revealeth secrets: but he that is of a faithful spirit concealeth the matter. (Pro 11:13)
  • If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain. (Jas 1:26)
  • But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. (Jas 3:8)

The more we talk, the more we risk sinning with our words. That is why the Bible speaks of wisdom through silence. But, I like to talk. I especially like to get together with my friends to visit, share stories, communicate and bond through our words. So, where does talking cross the line and become gossip?

I’m glad you asked.

When you share privileged information with others, it is gossip. Simply put, some information is private and not intended for everyone to hear. If the information is not yours to share, don’t share it.

When you repeat negative rumors about others, it is gossip. This line of gossip is often accompanied with the intent of tearing others down to build others up. It’s the nastiest form of gossip.

When a negative is discussed with anyone who cannot solve the problem, it is gossip. Sometimes negative information must be shared. If you are in leadership or ministry of any sort this is especially true. However, when you share negatives with people who have no authority to intervene or offer valuable insight into the issue, it becomes nothing short of gossip.

The list is not inclusive, but it’s a good start. David prayed, “Set a watch, O LORD, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips,” Psalms 141:3. Christian friend, let this be our prayer!

Have you personally seen the negative effects of gossip? Leave a comment and share your thoughts.

Blessings!

A Letter to My Daughter

 

I wrote this letter when my daughter was 10 years old. Now that she is just a few days away from turning 18 I thought it was time to repost. I’m so proud of the young lady she has become. She shines with the love of Christ and she has my heart!

Dearmother and daugtherest Daughter,

 

 One of the highest callings in life is that of a mother.  It comes with great joy and incredible responsibilities.  When God gave you to me, He gave me a most precious gift.  You are a joy and delight.  When you smile your sweet countenance spreads light throughout the room.  You can laugh and turn sorrow into joy.  You are a treasure and your calm disposition brings peace to our home.  I realize that I only have a few years in which to teach and train you to become a virtuous young lady of highest character but that is my desire. 

 

 Daughter, there are many things I want you to know.  First of all, know that I love your father.  Next to Christ he is my dearest friend.  Every night as I pray for you, my prayer is that someday God will bring a godly young man into your life that mightily loves the Lord and deeply cherishes his wife, just like your father.   I pray you discover early on in your marriage your God given role as wife and that you will embrace it with joy. 

 

I want you to know that children are a blessing from God.  Today children seem to be nothing more than a burden to many in which to cast off on someone else.  You and your brothers are a joy and I thank God daily for each of you.  I praise Him for the opportunity that He has given your father and me to raise you.  I want you to know that we will do our best to raise you not by the world’s standards but by God’s standards alone.  The world says you must be beautiful on the outside and that your value is based on how you look and dress.  God says that your value is based on who you are.  True beauty comes from within and God’s standard is one of purity. 

 

 Never forget that the most important thing in this life are relationships. Your relationship with God is first and foremost.  Only in Christ will you find complete fulfillment.  Your life will be void if you look to any other.  Second is your relationship with others.  Never miss opportunities to love your family, to build and cultivate friendships, and to reach out with kindness to strangers.  For it is in loving and serving others that Christ will be glorified. 

 

 Finally, I want you to know that no matter what stage of life you are in and no matter what you find yourself doing, make sure that it is for God’s glory.  If you’re being educated, learn with the desire to use your gifts to please God.  If you’re working, whatsoever your hands find to do, do all for the glory of God.  If you’re serving others, do it to point others to Christ.  Remember, you have purpose; no matter your age or station in life God has a plan for you.  Seek Him with your whole heart and your life will be complete.  You will have joy unspeakable.   Know that I will make mistakes and sometimes fail you, but I pray with all my heart that my words and actions as your mother are that in which you can look to as a godly example.

 

 I love you sweet daughter.

 

Sheep Don’t Worry

shepherd-and-lamb-pic2Are you anxious about the future? Maybe you’re concerned about a problem you’re facing? Are you losing sleep? Perhaps you are worried about your marriage or children. Your health? Finances? An issue at work? Family problems?

If you’re like me you know it’s wrong to worry. After all, I am a child of God. I know that Philippians 4:6 says to be anxious for nothing.

Yet, I worry.

I fret.

I give into my fears.

And I cry out to God.

For months now I’ve been crying out about a situation that is completely out of my control.  A friend suggested I read Psalms 34. I read it every day. This morning verse 9 caught my attention. “…there is no want to them that fear Him.” Then in the next verse it states, “They that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing.” I was reminded of the 23rd Psalms. It was the first passage I memorized as a small child. In verse one David declares, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.” Do you notice a pattern?

Those that fear Him lack nothing. Those that seek Him lack nothing. Those that are His sheep lack nothing. Why? Because He is God. He is Holy. He is righteous. He is the Creator and Preserver of all things. He is the Good Shepherd (John 10:11).

The Lord is my Shepherd. I am His sheep. And guess what? Sheep don’t worry. They just trust. Of course they have good reason to trust. Consider all that a good shepherd does for his sheep.

  • A good shepherd daily leads them in and out.
  • A good shepherd knows how to feed them and directs their path.
  • A good shepherd watches over his sheep. He keeps them safe. He fights for them.
  • A good shepherd brings back the ones who have strayed.
  • A good shepherd takes them to shade in times of scorching heat.
  • A good shepherd gives them good things like rest, oil and, peace.

The Good Shepherd leads me (Psalm 31:3). O, blessed thought! He directs my path (Proverbs 3:6). He keeps me safe (Proverbs 18:10). He lovingly brings me back when I stray (Luke 15:4). He gives me shade during scorching heat/persecution (John 16:33). He cares for me (I Peter 5:7). The Lord is my shepherd. I shall not want.

Sheep don’t worry. They just trust!

I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture. The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.

(Joh 10:9-11)

Storms of Life

storm

Chances are that you are either in one now or about to go through one. Storms. Sometimes we see them coming; other times they spring up. Sometimes they are unrelenting; other times they are quickly broken. No one enjoys them; everyone deals with them. There are various storm systems. They come into our life in the form of health complications. Pressures of life can lead to marital storms. Financial storms or storms within the family can develop. Even now certain forecasters predict that a national storm is brewing.  Storms are an inevitable part of life.

Personally, I love a good storm (as long as we’re talking about the physical ones). Wind, rain, thunder and lightning often contribute to a peaceful night’s sleep for me. Nothing is better than curling up on the couch with a book, blanket and hot cup of coffee in the midst of a storm. But storms of life…those are a different story. They leave my brain foggy. All I want to do is wish them away.

It is easy to become self-focused in the center of a storm. Heavy storms can be so consuming that it’s all you think about.  But just as a good rain storm is good for the land, so can a good life storm be good. They teach us a lot about ourselves, others, and God. Do you remember a story in Matthew about the storm on the sea?

And straightway Jesus constrained his disciples to get into a ship, and to go before him unto the other side, while he sent the multitudes away. And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone. But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary. And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea. And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear. But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid. And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water. And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus. But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me. And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt? And when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased. Then they that were in the ship came and worshipped him, saying, Of a truth thou art the Son of God. Matthew 14:22-33

There are so many truths to grasps from this story.  First we learn that Jesus brings us to the storm. He was the one who sent His disciples into the ship and bid them to go across the sea. He knew what was coming. Rest assured, dear child of God, He knows.  Not only does He know, but He brought you to whatever storm you are now facing.

Next we see that Jesus prays for us in the midst of the storm. Did you catch that? Christ sent his disciples into the storm and then went up on the mountain to pray. Who do you think He was praying for? A most comforting understanding, especially in the midst of storms, is knowing that Christ sits on the right hand of God and makes intercession for us (Romans 8:34). In Hebrews we see that, “he ever liveth to make intercession” (7:25).

Then we learn that Jesus comes to us while we are in the storm. Oh, what a glorious thought!  Jesus didn’t leave his disciples alone to endure the storm. He came to them – walking on the water – proving His omnipotence. When the tempest is tossed and all hope seems lost, our Lord comes to us. In those darkest moments He shines His light of peace and whispers to our heart, “Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.”

Finally, Jesus teaches us during the storm. This is perhaps the hardest for me. There are times that I don’t want to be taught. I just want to get through the storm as quick as possible. But it is imperative that we learn whatever lesson our Teacher wills us to learn.  Peter learned a lot that day out on the sea. He learned that alongside Christ anything (even walking on water) is possible. He learned that the moment we take our eyes off him and put them onto our circumstances we begin to sink. He learned that our Lord is always there to lift us up the moment we cry out, “Lord, save me.”

Are you in a storm of life? Is there a lesson the Master of the Wind is wanting you to learn?  He brings you to the storm. He prays for you in the midst of the storm. He comes to you while you are in the storm. He teaches you in during the storm. Trust in Him.

SAHM – My family! My choice!

Anerican-dreamYesterday during a speech in Rhode Island, President Obama claimed that being a stay at home mom (SAHM) is not a choice we want American mothers making. What a funny comment from a man who hangs his hat on women’s choice, especially the right of women to choose the murder of innocent babies in the womb.

Sometimes, someone, usually Mom, leaves the workplace to stay home with the kids, which then leaves her earning a lower wage for the rest of her life as a result,” he said. “That’s not a choice we want Americans to make.

We can all hope that it was a slip of the tongue or part of a speech taken out of context. But, one look at the agenda of the progressive left leaves little doubt that he meant exactly what he said.
• It’s not about women’s rights.
• It’s not about better day care.
• It’s not about lower wages for women.

 
It never has been with the left. It’s about expansion of the government. All which leads to the fragmentation of families, indoctrination of children and a push toward complete dependency on the government.

 
But I digressed; let’s get back to a woman’s choice…
There is still an attitude toward women who choose to stay at home of, “Oh how nice to be able to stay at home and not work” as though these families are independently wealthy and don’t need two incomes. The idea that being a SAHM is a rare privilege for a few fortunate is insulting. My husband and I made the choice for me to become a stay at home mom 18 years ago when our first child was born. That choice was not easy and we have made many sacrifices to make sure I could be at home. During this time my husband has worked extremely hard to provide for us, often working two jobs. He has done this in the middle of spending 7 years in college and seminary. Eighteen years ago I started a home business that I successfully ran for 8 years. We sold it so that I could devote more time to homeschooling (another sacrifice we chose to make). I have spent the last 5 years researching, writing, building a self-publishing business and marketing my books – all at home. This year, while pastoring and teaching online classes, my husband started another business which alone takes about 60 hours a week of his time. We certainly didn’t choose this lifestyle because we thought it would be easy. We chose for me to be a stay-at-home-mom because we knew it was best for our family. We knew that I could do a much better job at raising my children than anyone else. We knew that the sacrifices could never compare to the blessings.

So, Mr. President, would you really like to help the families of America? Do you really believe in women’s right to choose? Do you really want what is best for our country?
Here are some thoughts….

  • Why don’t we work to lower the ever increasing tax burden so that husbands’ paychecks could reach further allowing moms to stay at home? Between federal income taxes, state, county and city taxes, social security, property taxes, and sales taxes a working husbands pay is cut nearly 50%.
  • Why don’t we stop with all the regulations and stay out of health care? Here’s an idea – stop taxing people who already can’t afford insurance for not having it. Because we all know how sensible that is, right?
  • Why don’t we stay out of the way of small business so employers can have the discretion and ability to pay their hard working employees more? Stop regulating them to death and let them thrive. Small businesses ran by American families is part of the reason we are blessed with such a great country.
  • Why don’t we start enforcing laws and punish those who come into our country illegally instead of giving them our hard earned money. Stop rewarding the law breakers with free health care and government assistance.
  • Why don’t we stop pushing for the enrollment of 6 million American children into preschool? Instead, elevate a mother’s choice and once again appreciate the value that mothers have in raising their own children. The President might not want stay at home moms, but I can promise you that American’s children do! They want their mothers. They need their mothers. It doesn’t and never has taken a village to raise a child.

Election Day is 4 days away. I will choose to vote for those who hold these same values. What about you?

Seasons

seasonsI know…it’s been months since I have posted anything.
Three months to be exact….
And in all truth I do not have the time to post now. But I want to explain. It is not that have nothing to say, or that I have forgotten about any of you. It is that I have found myself in this season, a season of life that leaves little time for doing some of the things I have always loved to do.

But God is growing me…
molding me….
teaching me….
using me… in ways I would have never expected.  More on that later.

“What seasons of life have you found yourself in? Is this a season of newness for you? Do you have a baby in the home? Are you new to homeschooling? Have you just moved to a new area? Has your husband made a career change? Is it a season of busyness? Do you have little ones who need a lot of attention? Do you have older children who are constantly on the go? Is this season filled with ministry or work? Are you in a season of trials and testing? Are you in a season of rest and slowing down? Or, are you living in a season of abundance and prosperity? It is healthy to remember that to everything there is a season.”

Click HERE to read the rest of the article I wrote called SEASONS that came out in the March/April 2014 issue of Homeschool Enrichment. I hope you will take the time and be blessed!

Going on Vacation?

vacationtips Our children are quite tired of hearing the “Dave Ramsey NO” But that is what you say when you get serious about paying off debt. All joking aside, we really don’t blame our frugality on Dave Ramsey (too much). My children love him as much as my husband and I. They sit through his financial peace courses and spend hours listening with us to his radio show. We cannot even play a game of Monopoly without his name or the term “emergency fund” being brought up. Our prayer is that our children are “getting it” and learn from our mistakes when it comes to finances.

Of course I am still learning and have a long way to go. But what I have learned is that one of the most important aspects of paying off debt is making a budget and sticking to it. A few weeks ago we took a vacation to Gatlinburg, TN. Let me share 10 things we did to help stay on budget.

Set the Budget – I know, it is obvious that to be able to stay on budget you must first set a budget. But just because something is simple doesn’t mean that it is easy. After making the decision to go on vacation the first thing to do is set a budget. Vacations need to be cash flowed. If you have a credit card (which I hope you do not) do not even think about taking it. The envelope system works great for vacations.

Go Off Season – As a homeschooling family we do have the unique opportunity to take our vacations during off season. This has saved us a ton of money. On this trip we stayed in a beautiful two bedroom cabin for $29.00 a night with a small cleaning free. It doesn’t get much cheaper. We have also saved money by going to the beach off season. Our favorite time of year for a costal trip is in October. It is still warm enough for the children to swim and most prices are slashed in half. Plus you miss all the crowds and that is a huge plus for us. One year we went to Sea World the week before school was out. We had the place to ourselves. It was wonderful. I am not sure what my children would do if they had to stay in long lines for rides. Of course, there are some disadvantages to going off season like limited shows in places like Branson and Gatlinburg. However, we are very select in seeing shows anyway, so this does not affect our vacations.

Get a Cabin or Condo – One or two nights in a hotel is fine, but any longer than that with a family is not my idea of fun. There are many benefits to staying in a cabin or condo. The first is that you have much more room. Our $29 a night cabin slept 6. Imagine trying to fit a family into a small hotel room for the same price. In addition, we always pick cabins and condos that have full kitchens and laundry rooms. Just watch for hidden charges like cleaning fees and non-refundable deposits. Those can add up if not careful.

Our favorite resource for finding great deals is www.vrbo.com (Vacation Rentals by Owner). We have had good results by dealing directly with the owner. One Christian owner waved the non-refundable deposit for us when she discovered my husband was a pastor.

BYO Food – We love to eat out while on vacation, but 3 meals a day can get very expensive. I have discovered that I can buy a week’s worth of groceries and snacks for our family of 5 for about the same cost of eating out at a sit down restaurant 3 times. In our vacation budget we plan on eating out as we travel to and from our destination and buying groceries during the week.  Occasionally we will eat out during the week depending on where we are and what we are doing.

Play Games Together – Vacation is all about relationships and memories and neither cost money. Some of our favorite memories have been playing a game in our cabin or condo together. Last summer we played a new card game called Golf. This trip our game of choice was Farkle.

Look for Free – Not everything cost money. We spent one morning hiking on the beautiful trails. It didn’t cost us a dime and we have some wonderful memories and breath-taking photos. We spent the afternoon window shopping in downtown Gatlinburg. We spent less than $10 at a coffee shop. A simple internet search will suffice when looking for free activities.

Use CouponsJust about every vacation spot will have brochures with coupons in them. Look for them if you plan on certain activities. We chose to do one activity during our week vacation and found a $2 off per person coupon to use. Ten dollars is $10, right! It paid for our coffee. 🙂

Do the Reviews Again, a little research and planning can save tons of money. I spent some time on Trip Advisor looking at reviews. It helps avoid falling into the tourist trap and paying for something not worth the money. We also asked the locals for advice on cost saving activities.

Skip the Extras After doing the reviews, asking around, and finding a coupon, we decided to take the children to WonderWorks in Gatlinburg. We had a great day and were not disappointed. But remember, after you pay to get in, there are always extra cost. We did not buy food there. We did not pay for laser tag. We did not buy the cheap tourist photo. We ate at the cabin. We saved laser tag for another time. And we took our own pictures. To save money, skip the extras. You won’t miss them.

Take a TourOkay, I admit. We did not take a tour. However, we did get offered one. Had we decided to take a 2 hour tour we could have gotten 5 tickets to the Aquarium and a dinner and show for $100. That’s a pretty good price savings of over $300.  We passed this time. But, if you are willing to go through the tour and have the will power to say NO to pushy salesmen, then why not? If you are going to spend the money on the activities anyway, it couldn’t hurt.

The last time we were in Branson we were offered a $100 visa card to take a two hour resort tour.  Again, we passed. (It was, after all, our 20 year anniversary and 2 hours of our precious time was too much to ask.) But, when you do the math on it that is $25 an hour per person. Not bad money to make on vacation.  Just a thought.

So, there you have it – 10 money saving vacation tips. When it comes to spending our hard earned money we need wisdom. So to go with the 10 tips, here are 10 verses of wisdom to apply with them…..

  • The blessing of the LORD, it maketh rich, and he addeth no sorrow with it. (Pro 10:22)
  •  He that trusteth in his riches shall fall: but the righteous shall flourish as a branch. (Pro 11:28)
  •  The hand of the diligent shall bear rule: but the slothful shall be under tribute. (Pro 12:24)
  •  There is that maketh himself rich, yet hath nothing: there is that maketh himself poor, yet hath great riches. (Pro 13:7)
  •  Wealth gotten by vanity shall be diminished: but he that gathereth by labour shall increase. (Pro 13:11)
  •  Better is little with the fear of the LORD than great treasure and trouble therewith. (Pro 15:16)
  •  The thoughts of the diligent tend only to plenteousness; but of every one that is hasty only to want. (Pro 21:5)
  •  He that loveth pleasure shall be a poor man: he that loveth wine and oil shall not be rich. (Pro 21:17)
  •  The desire of the slothful killeth him; for his hands refuse to labour. (Pro 21:25)
  •  The rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender. (Pro 22:7)

 

Learning to say “No”

NoSome days are busier than others. One day in particular comes to mind. It began at 4:30 a.m. with a trip to the gym with my husband. We came home. I fixed breakfast and sent him off to work. The next two hours were spent in my office writing.  I tore myself away to get started on the day’s lessons. I helped my youngest son with his reading, math, writing, Bible, science and history. I instructed the older children in their language program and history and oversaw their math and other work.  We rushed to finish our lessons because we had a full afternoon of errands. I needed to run by my husband’s office, Walmart, Autozone, Post Office, Library, deliver a gift to a friend, and get my hair cut at the salon.  But I could not linger in town, because I needed to get back home for a scheduled Skype meeting. After my meeting, my daughter asked me to sit down with her to help her make some jewelry. The dog needed a haircut. We had planned a church fellowship at our home the following evening, so I still needed to work on food, games and clean the house. All of this was before dinner.

As a wife and homeschool mother, more often than not, I will have days like this. It was certainly productive, but the day had me spent.  I have learned that a schedule like this for very long leaves me overwhelmed. When that happens my children do not get to experience my best side, my energy gets used up, and there is nothing left for my husband at the end of the day.

In contrast, I have had days that were the direct opposite to this one. These are the more unproductive days where I don’t fit a lot into (with maybe the exception of an afternoon nap). Obviously, extremes are dangerous; so I am striving to learn how to live a life of balance. I want my life to be filled with activity, for laziness is a sin. But, I do not want to be so busy that I become Bound Under Satan’s Yoke. I want to teach my children to be diligent with strong work ethics. But, I also want them to learn how to be still and quiet at times. I want our family to be servants. I want us to give of ourselves to our church, friends, family, and neighbors. But, I also want it to be with the proper perspective and attitude.

There must be a balance. My problem is that I swing far to the side of always saying “Yes” when many times I should be saying “No”. When I try to do too much I end up doing all of it in a mediocre fashion and none of it with excellence. Priorities must be not only set, but kept. I thank the Lord that I have a husband who encourages me in this area. He often reminds me that outside of my relationship with the Lord, my number one priority is the home. Of course, a lot of responsibilities fall under this category including being my husband’s suitable helper, teaching and training the children, and overseeing all the affairs of the household. Everything else comes in second including our church, my writing, marketing, hobbies and recreation.

The other day I was enjoying an extended lunch with a dear friend. This subject was one that we kept going back to. As women we often know that we need to say “No”, but for some reason we find it difficult. Some women need that sense of busyness to validate their position. This can be especially true for stay-at-home moms. Some do not want to disappoint others. Some simply like all the frantic activity.  And, some have never been told that saying “No” was not only perfectly acceptable but good for them and their families. We laughed and visited over eggs rolls and spicy chicken and two hours later decided it was time to get back to the reality of life. We hugged and as we headed to our cars I called out, “Don’t forget, a “No” a day keeps the stress away!”

What does your day look like? Is it stress free? Our Lord has the answer. “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light,” Matthew 11:28-30.