Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Forgetting What Is Behind...

Well, it's about to happen again! Another new year!

I suppose this year I will resolve to:

  • Study my Bible more.
  • Pray more for my family and friends.
  • Excercise regularly.
  • Lose weight.
  • Get completely out of debt.
  • Be a better wife and mother.
  • Be a better daughter, daughter-in-law and sister.
  • Reach out to and disciple more "younger" women.

Oh, wait a minute, that was last year's list! Oh, and the year before that, and the year before that... you get the picture!

Does it never get easier? Am I destined to continue trying to reach the same goals every year? Probably!

Oh well, it's a good thing I love January's!

If you haven't read the information about me, this would be a good time to stop by that spot. You'll find it here just pan down to "the juicy stuff".

I do love me a good January and Mondays!

One funny story I must share -

Today a friend was telling me that her son has become so much more well-behaved recently, that a friend commented on it while they were together, and wanted to know what had changed. I asked her if she'd told her friend that it was likely because she was homeschooling him now. (I know that may sound biased, but it's amazing how that does make a change - I know, I speak from experience.) Instead she tells me that I am so brilliant at helping others with "discipline issues" (she's called me a few times to ask advice) that I should "teach a class!" Seriously, I was hysterical! Are you kidding me?!?!?

I told her she should have been in my house around
10 a.m. the day before - I could have used a class myself!

"Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you." (Philippians 3:12-15)

Abiding in His grace, and vowing to do better this year - AGAIN!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Home for the Holidays... ugh!

When you hear the sentiment, "Home for the Holidays" it should conjure up wonderful memories of holidays spent at home with the ones you love, right?

Well, here's what that looks like in the McGuire home this week...
  1. The 3 year old is sick, running as high as 102 fever, and coughing all over everything. We're desperately trying to learn the concept of covering your mouth (with something besides your hand). Since her birthday, she's also turned into a bit of a tyrant. At least she occasionally ends her demands with a really sweet, "Please." I've always said that the person who coined the phrase, "The Terrible Twos" just had a child who hadn't made it to 3! The 3s have always been worse for us than the 2s.
  2. My mom has strep and pnemonia in one of her lungs, but still plans to try to cook like normal on Wednesday/Thursday for our small family gathering.
  3. Our dog ate all of a rawhide chewy on Sunday night and then spent all night throwing it back up! Yuck! Then yesterday she started acting weird and wouldn't eat or drink. So Anna, my mom and I spent the night lastnight in the doggie ER (until about 1 a.m.) having her x-rayed and checked out. We think she's fine, but no rawhides in her stocking this year, or next, or the year after that. You get the picture.
  4. Todd is "buried up" in work. Praises be to our amazing Lord for that! So many other plumbing companies no longer exist thanks to the downturn in the housing market over the last 2 and a half years, but that's meant alot of that work has now come our way. The flip side of that coin however is that I have a VERY stressed out husband!
  5. All the shopping is done and gifts are wrapped, now it's just a matter of keeping Sarah Beth out of them. Thank God we got rid of the cat years ago (due to my allergies) she'd be climbing the tree right about now!
  6. Thankfully, Todd, Anna and I are still holding out - untouched by the sickness, so please pray that we remain that way!

Would love to hear how your holidays are going...

Abiding In His grace,


Monday, December 7, 2009

It Is More Blessed to Give than to Recieve...

My Bible study today has given me a number of things to write about. I am reading several books at one time (I always do) and I am filled with things that the Lord has pointed out to me about my own life as I read His precious Word and Bible studies.

The scripture passages and the books I've read from this morning have brought me to post about a few things, so I'm just going to lump them all into this one post, that might turn out to be rather long. :o)

The first book I read today is called Your Whole Life (The 3D Plan for *Eating Right *Living Well and *Loving God) by Carol Showalter and Maggie Davis. This is what I would call a "personal" book, one that really just addresses the needs in my own personal life and areas of growth I need personally. In this particular book, each day is started with a scripture reading. Today's reading was John 14:15-31. This passage is so familiar to me that I almost didn't bother looking it up and reading it, but knowing that God speaks to us most clearly through the reading of His Word and prompting from the Holy Spirit led me to change my mind. I am so thankful! I encourage you to read this rich passage of scripture today too.

Here are some of the things I underlined as I read the passage in the book written by the author's - "Obedience is the unmistakable sign of allegiance to and love for Jesus Christ." I am continually saddened by professing believers who claim to love Christ, but who openly refuse to obey Him. The Word says they are not His followers at all, but they have decieved themselves into believing that they are. The next passage I underlined, in reference to the scripture passage in John, says, "We need this sort of intense and direct word from time to time. Self-love is such a strong and sometimes hidden force that, unless something comes along to bring us up short, it can easily take over our hearts and crowd out our love for Jesus. Like the weeds in the parable of the sower, 'the cares of the world, and the delight in riches, and the desire for other things, enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful' Mark 4:19."

In our Western culture, this is something that believers have to deal with regularly. Wealth and things are delivered up on a platter to us daily - on television, through media, advertising, magazines and newspapers, at the grocery store, Wal-mart, and more. Wherever we go we are bombarded with stuff constantly! Companies spend millions of dollars on advertising every year to make you think that you can't do without all of the stuff that is available. Worst of all there is a false gospel that has spread like wildfire that teaches that the proportion of God's blessing for you is equal to the amount of money you make or the stuff you have. That is a lie! It is a disgusting misrepresentation of what it means to be a follower of Christ! It is shameful!

The next passage I noted says this, "Loving Jesus, and therefore, doing His will, is not something that we have the power to do in and of ourselves. That is His gift to us. With the apostle Paul, we can admit that without the help of the Holy Spirit within us, we are bound by the natural inclination to love ourselves above all else. The promise of the Gospel is that we can learn to have our lives directed by a new love, that we can actually become more interested in having God's will done than our own."

During my initial reading of the passage from John 14, I was struck by verse 18 in which Jesus says, "I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you." As the hands and feet of Christ (which we - the Church - are as the body of Christ), what about the orphans throughout the World? I am so grateful that we adopted Sarah Beth, that she is no longer fatherless, and that she has the opportunity to know that God does not leave us nor forsake us. But, what about the millions of other children throughout the World who don't have the basic necessity of a father and a mother? As the church, we should be ashamed that we are not doing more. Instead we wish for flat screen t.v.s, sports, clothes, cell phones, cars, and more useless things. Absolutely shameful! We will answer for this. God uses the prompting of the Holy Spirit to lead us to do as we should. How many times have you had a prompting that you suppressed? I can tell you that mine is countless. I am ashamed.

The other book I'm reading is about Nehemiah's rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem. It is Building Your Financial Fortress in 52 Days: The Lessons of Nehemiah by Kevin Cross, CPA. These are sobering thoughts and statistics: "There are more needs today than at any other time in history. There is also an unprecedented amount of wealth being wasted. Hitting closer to home, those who say they are 'Christ-followers' throughout the world control more wealth today than at any other time in history, to the tune of 16.4 trillion dollars in 2007.

Yet The 10/40 Window reveals 70 percent of the population in this area of the world does not know Jesus Christ. Half of the population lives on two dollars a day or less. We in America spend more each year on ice cream than what it would take to provide clean water, health care, and sanitation to the entire world. (!!! exclamation points added by me for emphasis) We will spend forty billion dollars this year on our pets. That comes out to $1,200 per year for each pet owner. The average giving family will contribute only $300 a year to send the life-changing message of Jesus Christ to those who are lost."

I can tell you from my own experience that it is indeed more of a blessing to give to those who are truly in need than it is to add one more thing to my already stuffed with stuff house.

What will you do this holiday season? Give your children a bunch of things they don't need, while others fight to stay alive because of starvation or diseased drinking water? Just think about it, that's all I'm asking you to do.

I have been the one who was doing without, not starving, but in need. I remember well how that feels. I'm now currently living a very comfortable life - because of a lot of hard work and sacrifice along the way by Todd and myself. We are now giving more than I ever imagined we would be able to. I am not most excited about the fact that I have more money to spend on things that moth and rust will destroy, or that thieves will break in and steal, but that I am able to give more to those in true need. We (and I'm including myself) no longer know what need is. It isn't a house, a new car, namebrand clothing, larger t.v.s, etc... At its very core what we need is to be obedient to Christ, and He doesn't call us to buy more stuff for ourselves, but to give - and to give until it hurts.

I've lived in a mobile home and I now live in a fairly nice home, I would go back to the mobile home in a minute if need be. It's a roof over my head, and one that is much nicer than what most people live in throughout the rest of the world. Todd and I have discussed building a new house sometime in the future. The house plan I'd picked was a nice comfortable 2800 square feet with a bonus area for Todd's office that added another 400 feet. That would be more than twice the size of the house we have now! Because of the equity in our home it would not cost us anymore than the mortgage we currently have. But, the more we discussed the prospect, we pondered the scripture that refers to "tearing down our barns to build bigger barns to store all of the stuff we've heaped up for ourselves" and we know we just can't do it! It would be nice and I could talk myself into believing that it would be a great place to have Bible studies and people over to minister to them. BULL!!! It would just be a bigger house to store more stuff, and to show off when people came over!!! We can't do it! So we are now reevaluating what is suitable to meet our needs, not our wants, so that we can continue to give liberally, which is what we are CALLED to do.

Whew, the Lord's shown me alot through a couple of verses and some commentary in a few books today. Perhaps He is speaking to you through this too. Whenever I write, I am "preaching" hardest of all to myself. I hope that my tone does not take on the sound of one who "has it all figured out" because that is not at all what I think.

Abiding in His grace, and continually growing,

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Blue Moon Studios - Mt. Laurel

Hi Everyone:

Recently we had some pictures taken of the girls out at Mt. Laurel by Blue Moon Studios. You can view some of the shots taken here...

Hoping you all are gearing up for an enjoyable holiday season with your families,

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

Hello Everyone:

I hope that this Thanksgiving finds healthy and happy and enjoying the company of family and friends.

This year, I have much to be thankful for as always. I am thankful for the little things and the big things.

I am thankful for:
  • The mercy of my Lord. Without His rich grace and mercy I would still be dead in my sins, lost - destined for hell - and without hope or purpose.
  • The love of a good husband. He is my other half, we are truly blessed to have enjoyed 19+ years together as husband and wife. Second only to my Lord, he is my encourager, my rock, my strength.
  • My precious children. I am blessed to have two beautiful girls here on earth and to have one daughter already on deposit with the Lord. I will be glad to see her again in heaven.
  • I am thankful for freedom from the curse of sin and death, the law, and the guilt and burden that goes along with not being able to keep it.
  • I am thankful for Jesus Christ who kept all of the Law on my behalf, and who died a horrific death that I might have life, and that He offers that same sacrifice for all who will believe.
  • I am thankful that we live in a free Country, and I pray that it will remain that way for me and my posterity.
  • I am thankful for the blessing and privilege of discipling (aka homeschooling) my children.
  • I am thankful for a beautiful home that is Warm in the winter and cool in the Summer.
  • I am thankful that I didn't break my legs, arms, or neck when I fell down our basement stairs and shattered the disc in my neck. It has been and continues to be bad, but it could have been so much worse.
  • I am thankful for you, and the fact that you just spent time reading my list of things for which I am thankful. Spend time thinking of at least 10 things you are thankful for today and reflect on them.

Happy Thanksgiving,


Be sure to visit my website to see the new E-books I've created and put in the "Products" section of the site. I am working on other books.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Celebrating 3 !

This weekend we had the
privilege of celebrating
Sarah Beth's 3rd Birthday!

Here are some photos I
wanted to share...
Sarah with her cake and cupcakes.
She was so ready to eat "take".
I made the cake... didn't I do good??? For those of you who know me, cooking really isn't one of my strong points, but I do love to bake!

It's time to get down to business! Now, where are the presents???

We found this sweet little dress at Belk here in town, and she is wearing a bow made with the cutest ever ruffled white ribbon, made by my friend Leslie. Visit her site if you need bows for your girls

Sarah with one of her new gifts -
individual alphabet puzzles!

Among her many gifts were Dora books, a Princess dress-up set and book, a play vacuum cleaner, some stringing beads and shapes, and a pop-up tent with tunnel! I'm sure we'll have some pictures of that soon.
This gift came from Uncle Chris, Aunt Barbara and (cousin)Rachel - some really awesome bubble blowing wands, a big bottle of bubbles and a nice pan to pour them into. This will be thoroughly enjoyed. She loves bubbles!

We all enjoyed a nice little party at home and went out for Mexican food afterwards. They all sang to her and put the huge Sombrero on her head. I've pictures on another camera of this that I will have to post later - it wasn't a digital!

Happy Birthday Sarah B!
Love, Mommy

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Dining Library

Oh my, this has been such an eventful day. This weekend we celebrated Sarah Beth's 3rd Birthday!!! So hard to believe she's been home almost 2 years now.
In the past two weeks her speech has totally taken off. I knew that it would, but I admit to feeling somewhat anxious about it when we were around others who's children were much younger and talking very well. She still has a good bit of trouble pronouncing some letters correctly, or at all, but I know that with lots of practice that will work itself out in time as well.

Other than my precious little one turning 3, Todd has been so busy this weekend, making one of my 10 year long dreams a reality! We've lived in our home now 10 years. Since we built it, I've wanted to have a sort of "library/dining" space. This concept is very often found in French Country design, which is my favorite style. Most importantly, we are a family of readers and homeschoolers, and we need every inch of bookshelf space we can get!
So, recently we spent a day in Atlanta and went to Ikea. I'd already been once to see the different colors and styles and make a decision about what I thought would look best with the furniture that I have. We then went back several weekends ago and bought the shelving that we needed. It fit perfectly between the window casing and the wall! It was the exact width we needed! Todd got them all put together, and finally today we got them upstairs and in place.

It wasn't long before I was loading those shelves down with all of our "floating" school supplies. Those are all of the books, notebook paper, pens and pencils, highlighters, white-out tape, and other school related items that float around all over my dining room table - the only space we have to eat besides a breakfast bar. All of the book bins I'd had sitting in the floor, and tripping over for months, were unloaded in a flash and put up onto the shelves for easy access during school.

At the beginning of the school year, I learned about Sue Patrick's "Workbox" system. I loved the idea, I am an organizing freak. So, I started using the system at the beginning of the school year and I LOVE IT!!! You can find her book at There are also several Yahoo boards for workbox users that have lots of people with loads of good ideas on implementing the system in your schooling.

We are using My Father's World's "Exploring Countries and Cultures" curriculum this year for a number of our subjects including Bible and Social Studies topics - Geography, and more. You'll notice on the far wall a large World map. The map we recieved with our curriculum was fine, just your average world map, but not really something I wanted to put up on my dining room wall. So, I went to Books-A-Million and purchased an "old World" style map and had it framed at Hobby Lobby. While it was definately a more expensive option, I am happy with the results. We now have instant access to a World map to locate the areas as we study through them.

So, without further ado, I will post some pictures here and you can see my new "Dining/Library" space that includes our workbox system (they are the numbered white drawers on the shelves). For those of you who've seen the turn around bookcase I purchased before, I still have it and plan to use it somewhere else later on, but it would no longer work once we bought the larger dining room table and chairs.
I am in Heaven! Well, as close as I can get while still being on Earth!
Abiding In His Amazing Grace,

This is an overall shot of the dining space. It is quite small, about 11'x11'.

This is a shot looking into my dining room from my kitchen area.

This is a shot of Anna's "workbox" space. For each drawer stack, I used the extra space on that shelf to put other books often assigned for the subjects in those current work boxes.

The shelf on the left, contains some miscellaneous book sets and reference items, and also houses my pre-school things for Sarah Beth.
This picture also shows the framed map a little more closely, and Sarah's highchair. :o)

Monday, November 9, 2009

"The Church in thy house."

WOW!!! Let this writing from Charles H. Spurgeon give us all pause to think about our own homes.
In His grace and for His glory,

“The church in thy house.” — Philemon 2

Is there a Church in this house? Are parents, children, friends, servants, all members of it? or are some still unconverted? Let us pause here and let the question go round—Am I a member of the Church in this house? How would father’s heart leap for joy, and mother’s eyes fill with holy tears if from the eldest to the youngest all were saved! Let us pray for this great mercy until the Lord shall grant it to us. Probably it had been the dearest object of Philemon’s desires to have all his household saved; but it was not at first granted him in its fulness. He had a wicked servant, Onesimus, who, having wronged him, ran away from his service. His master’s prayers followed him, and at last, as God would have it, Onesimus was led to hear Paul preach; his heart was touched, and he returned to Philemon, not only to be a faithful servant, but a brother beloved, adding another member to the Church in Philemon’s house. Is there an unconverted servant or child absent this morning? Make special supplication that such may, on their return to their home, gladden all hearts with good news of what grace has done! Is there one present? Let him partake in the same earnest entreaty.

If there be such a Church in our house, let us order it well, and let all act as in the sight of God. Let us move in the common affairs of life with studied holiness, diligence, kindness, and integrity. More is expected of a Church than of an ordinary household; family worship must, in such a case, be more devout and hearty; internal love must be more warm and unbroken, and external conduct must be more sanctified and Christlike. We need not fear that the smallness of our number will put us out of the list of Churches, for the Holy Spirit has here enrolled a family-church in the inspired book of remembrance. As a Church let us now draw nigh to the great head of the one Church universal, and let us beseech him to give us grace to shine before men to the glory of his name.

Spurgeon, C. H. 1995. Morning and evening : Daily readings (November 1 AM). Logos Research Systems, Inc.: Oak Harbor, WA

Monday, November 2, 2009

Thriving on Less - Simplifying in a Tough Economy

I had the privilege of receiving the link to this free download today through a homeschool site I receive emails from. It is a 27 page PDF ebook entitled Thriving on Less - Simplifying in a Tough Economy.

The site below welcomes others to share this link as well. So, I'm sharing!

I haven't read mine yet, it's printing out as I type, but I'm going to read it in just a minute. If you decide to download it too, I hope you enjoy your copy.

If I can learn just one more way to simplify my life, or save more money, it will be worth the paper I printed it on.

Saving along with you, and thankful most of all for saving Grace!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Dealing with Chronic Pain

As most of you will know, I had a horrific fall a year and a half ago, and am now living with what the doctors have determined is permanent nerve and muscle damage. As a result, my life is completely changed forever, and I have had to make many adjustments to the way I run our household.

Recently, I completed the writing of an e-book on the subject of Managing Your Home and Life When Faced With Chronic Pain Or a Chronic Illness.

More information is available on my website here:

Managing your home full-time can be a difficult task, but when you have health problems, it can become an almost impossible one.

If you or someone you love is dealing with chronic pain or a chronic illness while trying to manage the home, this book will help with tips on how to manage it all while taking care of yourself and your needs.

Includes a BONUS chapter on Homeschooling With Chronic Pain or Illness.

Abiding in His grace,

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Two New E-Books Now Available

Two new e-books are now available through my website at

They are:
How To Begin Your Own Cooking Club
Learn how to save money and time while filling your freezer with delicious and nutritious homemade foods.Divide the labor among a few of your friends and you'll find yourself with lots of answers to the age old question, "What's For Dinner?"
$ 3.00

When it comes to time management and organizational skills, one of the most important things you should do is create and use a personal planner. Although this may sound trivial, you will be surprised how you come to rely on it, how well it helps keep you organized and how it helps you to be in the right place at the right time.

It isn't necessary to spend lots of money to have a personal planner that works for you. In fact, sometimes, purchasing a pre-made planner is a waste of money because it doesn't have everything you need and often includes sections you'll never use.

If you have any questions, please feel free to leave a comment here, fill out a form on the website, or email me at

My e-books are being reviewed by Sheri Graham of the popular site, She will be posting her review on her blog site at

She has been very helpful during this process and I look forward to hearing her thoughts on the books. Hopefully she will read through them and post her (positive?!?) comments on her blog!

Abiding in His grace, and enjoying writing like C*R*A*Z*Y!!!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Checking In

Hi Everyone:

I am still working on the website. I'm in the process of writing several how-to type ebooks on various subjects to offer on my products page. So, most of my writing time is being spent on that right now. Please visit the site at

A quick update on me, I had some botox injections in my back to help with what the doctor has now deemed "Permenant nerve and muscle damage" due to the fall I took down our basement stairs a year and a half ago. This month is one year since my surgery, and it's hard to believe how much I continue to struggle with this pain.

This month also marks the 2nd anniversary of my daddy's death. My mother seems to be holding up very well, and we have thoroughly enjoyed spending time with her and becoming closer as a family over the last 2 years.

Please remember in prayer a church member's family. His brother's child (age 3 months) died this week and they are traveling to be with the family for the funeral. This is a devastating blow to a family, and they are unbelievers. I don't think there is anyway I would have survived our daughter's death if I hadn't known God and His amazing Sovereignty. I pray this will be an opportunity for our friends to share Christ with his family during this time.

Abiding in His grace,

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Working On A New Website

Hi Everyone:

I am working on a new website to go along with my blog. I plan to create some ebooks available for purchase there on various subjects related to homemaking, homeschooling, parenting, spiritual growth, etc.

I certainly do not set myself forth here, or there, as an expert on any of these things, but rather as a sojourner with all of you in this walk here on Earth. I can only write from what I know and so that's what I will be writing about.

I have also gone through all of the posts here and divided them out into different topics and linked them there to make it easier to read through articles relating to certain subjects.

I pray that the site will provide help to those who need it in areas where I have grown over the years.

If you'd like to take a look at the beginnings, feel free to join me at

Abiding in His grace,

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Vigilance Against Sin - Part Two

Back to our "discussion" about being vigilant against sin...

Often times we allow ourselves to get into places where it is easy to fall into sin. Not only do we often place ourselves in situations, or among certain people, that bring with them temptation, but even our physical state can cause us to be more apt to sin. For example, when I become too tired or hungry, I am more likely to fall into the sin of angry outbursts (2 Corinthians 12:20) with my children or my husband. I have learned that my body needs certain periods of rest and regular food intake along with all of my daily activities to keep me from behaving in a way that is against every part of my Spirit, yet gratifies my flesh. When I act out towards those I love the most in anger, my Spirit recoils in shame and frustration, but for a brief nano second, my flesh cries out "Oh yeah, relief!"

As a younger woman I spent alot of time with friends having "play dates" with our young children. I now, for the most part, avoid these. Why? Because for me, they often lead to the temptation to sin in the area of my thoughts and/or speech. I learned a hard lesson years ago, when my oldest was little about getting together with girlfriends. The conversations often turned into gripe sessions about our husbands or just talking about other girlfriends who weren't present. We might not necessarily be discussing anything against someone else, but rather just talking about things that were really none of our business. The scripture does have something to say about that! (1 Thessalonians 4:10b-12; 1 Timothy 5:13 specifically refers to young widows, but applies here as well). Awful!!! But true.

Women in the workplace do the same thing (and I know that there are men who fall into this temptation as well, though not as frequently as we women I'm ashamed to say). How many times have you started a new job, only to find at least one person who will almost immediately ready to give you the "low down" on the other employees. Steer clear!!! Watch, lest you fall.

I could go on and on about the types of areas that can cause a person who loves the Lord to be tempted and fall into sin, but instead, let's look at what we should do to prevent that from happening. We are called to resist and flee from temptation (James 4:7; 2 Timothy 2:22), not to take it lightly, not to laugh about it, not to joke about it, but to RUN FROM IT!!!

Looking back again at the study I mentioned in the first part of this devotional writing, The Lord's Table, the author writes -

"Jesus Christ declared that He whom the Son sets free will be free indeed (John 8:36). And part of His work of making us free is to help us to be vigilant. May we not be as those who walk many years in victory, only to fall through lack of vigilance. Watch and pray. Here are some specific ways we can do this: Make sure to attend a Bible-believing church (Hebrews 10:25). The importance of this cannot be overemphasized.

  • Have daily accountability (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12; Hebrews 3:13)
  • Seek the Lord daily (Proverbs 2:1-5; Hebrews 11:6)
  • Drag every known sin, and even temptation (so sin) into the light. If you are struggling with something, humble yourself and talk to someone about it. (John 3:19-21).

We must be mindful of our weaknesses and careful not to expose ourselves to them as much as possible. When we are put into situations that we know cause us to be weak, we must be extra vigilant and watch for it, because it will come.

I am reminded that death to my self (flesh) is a daily process, not a one time experience. It is a daily responsibility for the Believer to crucify their flesh and to take up their cross and follow after Him, learning to pursue Him in EVERY area of our lives. (Matthew 10:38; Matthew 16:24; Galatians 2:20; Mark 10:21)

Matthew 10:38

"And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me."

Learning to die daily,

Friday, September 25, 2009

The "Radical Experiment"

Today's post is written by my precious husband, Todd.

He asked that I share this with you all, an email he recently sent to many on his email list.

As many of you know, we are members of The Church at Brook Hills, but are currently helping with a church plant in the Calera area. We continue to be amazed at the way God is working in and through the life of this Pastor and his amazing heart for Christ, and the poor throughout our World.

The Radical Experiment
Recently the Church at Brook Hills proposed the Radical Experiment; a one year proposal to radically change spending habits in order to benefit the poor and impoverished. After much prayer and discussion the decision was made to partner with Compassion International, a non profit organization that cares for the poor around the world for the glory of Christ. Before their trip to Compassion International’s headquarters the leadership at Brook Hills felt God leading them to focus their first efforts toward India, possibly the poorest, most impoverished nation on the planet, with almost half of its population living below the poverty level and less than one percent of its population being Christian.

After meeting with Compassion International the Brook Hills leadership asked them what they could do to help in India, expressing they felt God leading them toward India. Compassion answered by explaining that they needed the most help with their Child Survival Program. Although Compassion has a Child Sponsor Program, the children have to be at least five years old to qualify. The problem is that most children who live in extreme poverty seldom make it to the age of five and if they do they are usually mentally and physically challenged due to starvation and preventable disease.
Thus for most by the time they are five it’s already too late.

Compassion explained that the Child Survival Program was put into place to care for these children during this critical time. The program provides for the basic needs of both the child and mother through nutrition and medicines they need to survive. They explained they had twenty one of these programs in place but often lacked sufficient funding. It takes about twenty five thousand dollars annually to operate just one of these facilities and often churches will work together to support one or more Child Survival Programs.

Ladies and Gentlemen give praise to The Almighty God because the faith family at the Church at Brook Hills has provided funding for all twenty-one of these programs for the year! Through a radical commitment to God’s word and a willingness to sacrifice for the sake of the poor they alone have met this overwhelming need for all of India. So, if you think just one person or just one congregation can’t make a difference… think again!

I never cease to be amazed at what God can accomplish through the hearts of his people. I pray we would all follow the example of this faith family and give our resources and our lives for the glory of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

This is what the gospel looks like when somebody gets it right. (James 2:14-17)

By His grace and for His glory,
I (Lori) am reading through Howard Dayton's book Your Money Counts - Now More Than Ever and, as God would have it, today's chapter is on giving, and talks about our responsibility to the poor. Expounding on Matthew 25:34-45, he writes,
"In some mysterious way that we cannot fully comprehend, Jesus personally identifies with the poor. If that truth is staggering, then the reciprocal is terrifying. When we do not give to the poor, we leave Christ Himself hungry and thirsty."
"He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep
to gain what he cannot lose."
Jim Elliott, martyred missionary to Ecuador
Abiding in His AMAZING GRACE!!!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Vigilance Against Sin - A Devotional Part One

Yesterday I was reading the Bible Study that I'm currently working my way through. There were some important points I thought I would share with you all.

As Believers, we know that we are called to be vigilant to root out any and all sin from our lives. Do we continue to sin after we are born again? Yes. Does the Lord give us what we need to be free of a life of sin? Yes. Can we sin less? YES!!! But how?

In Matthew 26:40-41, Christ is addressing his disciples who had accompanied Him to the Garden of Gethsemane. He tells them, in verse 41, "Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak." Christ points out that although our Spirit is willing to resist sin, our flesh is weak against temptation. In order to resist temptation, He tells them to do two things: 1) keep watching 2)keep praying. For us to cause our flesh to work in cooperation with our willing Spirit (the Holy Spirit within us), we are to be vigilant.

The study I am working through is The Lord's Table, and in regards to these verses the author writes, "Watch against a developing chain of events that lead to a fall in to sin, and remove a link in the chain. Watch for familiar areas in which you are tempted, watch for the uprising of the flesh, watch out for when you are tired, watch out for when you have just had a high spiritual experience, WATCH. But don't watch only. Watch and pray. Pray that God will keep you from falling. Pray that He would give you grace to endure temptation without giving in. Pray for power from above to extinguish the fiery darts of the devil." and "The flesh is always weak, no matter how long we've been pure or how strong we are in faith. There is no saint alive who does not have weak flesh, hence the need to watch and pray against falling."

I know what my weaknesses are, and there are many. What areas of sin are you most tempted by? Watch and pray.

More on this next time...

Abiding in His Grace, and for His glory,

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Where Have I Been????

I have not posted in the last week because it has been one big busy one!!!

Over last weekend we were involved with a "Block Party" put on by the church plant we are working with in Calera. This wonderfully Reformed Baptist Church - 7 Springs Baptist Church, is a one of those kinds of small starting churches with such a wonderful spirit about it. The love of the Lord is so present that I just enjoy being with God's people there. This church is very missional in its focus, looking for things within and around the community and county for ways to reach out to the poor and needy within the area.

Todd and I are are preparing to work through the Crown Financial Ministries Program to become Certified Christian Financial Counselors through our church. Our desire is to be involved with the Food Pantry ministry that we don't have completely ironed out or up and running, but that is on the back burner waiting to be put into place. We would be able, certified through Crown and backed by our church family, to work with others to go through helping them to review their current financial situation, help them to come up with a workable budget for their family, and to teach them how to get out of debt, stay out of debt and honor God with 100% of their earnings, not just 10%.

In the meantime, Seventh grade is going well for Anna, we are in about week 7 and she is flying high in math this year, which has always been a significant struggle.

My pain management doctor is currently trying to get me approved for some Botox injections in my back to relive the continued and constant pain that I am experiencing. It has been determined that I have permanent nerve and muscular damage from the shattered C6/7 vertebrae that was not removed soon enough. I live most days with very bad pain, and with usual windows of 3 hours or so in the evenings when I can rally long enough to try to get everything done (kids cared for, school work taught-reviewed-graded, home responsibilities tended to and company work done).

The Lord has showed me much in the last week as I studied through my current Bible study, but I've not had a good opportunity to write about these things. Hopefully I will get to them soon. They may come as several posts in a row.

Please be prayerful for us (Todd, Anna, and I) as we try to get it all done.
Abiding in His grace,

Friday, September 4, 2009

Why the McGuire's Homeschool

I've got a friend who is interested in possibly homeschooling her child(ren). She wanted to ask me some questions, and I am more than happy to talk with her - the same way so many did for me before we made this very monumental decision for our children.

I thought I would share with you all the "Why's" of why we (the McGuires) choose to do our children's schooling at home. This seems to be a timely post considering the many ways that the government seems to be infiltrating even more deeply the public education throughout our country.

I do NOT suggest that all Believers are called to homeschool. I will emphatically say however, that we will give an account for what we do regarding all things in our lives, and am hopeful that all Believing parents diligently seek God's design for their families. My concern is that we not just go along with what we did as kids, or what our friends are doing with their kids, or what's popular in your church or community, but that we all really be willing to seek God's desire for our children and our families in all areas, including education. When asked why do I homeschool, my usual answer is because the Lord led me to. May the Lord lead all of us according to His purposes and may we be aware of His leading so that He might be glorified.

So, here is what I shared with my friend...
Dear Friend:

Okay, I've got some time before I turn in for the evening so I thought I'd write about how I came to the point of taking our daughter out of a perfectly good Christian school and bringing her home. :O)

I knew before she started 2nd Grade that the Lord was beginning to do a work in my heart. She and I have similar personalities, so each time I would feel a prompting by the Lord I would think, "You've got to be kidding me Lord, we'll kill each other." During the Summer before her 2nd grade year, I had worked diligently to sign her up for EVERY possible activity under the sun to keep her busy over the Summer, and to give her plenty of opportunities to try out all sorts of things to see what she liked. Most of the things I was signing her up for were things I wanted her to try out, not necessarily things she'd shown an interest in. (Special note - At this point in my life, I would not even consider doing that, because I understand completely that the Lord has created her for a special purpose, and that her life should reflect her God given interests, giftedness, and her own personal calling. So, I seek God and then allow her to give her own input as to what she desires to do with her extra curricular time.)

Before our Summer actually began, I came across the following verses during my quiet time, Galatians 5:7-9, "Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. And let us not grow weary while doing good for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart."

The Holy Spirit immediately spoke to my heart through those words and I could see that I was very busy sowing to my daughter's corruptible flesh, things that really didn't matter in the long run. But, I wasn't spending even a tenth of that time sowing to her Spirit. I became convicted of this and immediately took her out of everything we'd signed up for that Summer, and began praying about how the Lord would help me to "sow to the Spirit" in her life during the few Summer months that I had with her. Over those few months we did some simple and fun Bible study together, spent hours together working on character issues - obedience, helpfulness, kindness, desire to serve others, etc..., and enjoyed lots of fun field trips, "pajama days" and more. I found that she and I were becoming very close once I really abandoned myself to training her in godliness to the best of my ability. By the time Summer was over, I was convinced that I was supposed to bring her home and was grieving losing her to school for such a large part of the day, but we'd signed the financial commitment with her school to return in the Fall. So, I did what anyone would do in my situation, I plugged my ears and began to say "La, la, la, la, la, I can't hear You. You must mean I'm supposed to do this next year Lord."

Once school began, about two weeks in, I was in misery!! The Holy Spirit was absolutely convicting me to the point that I could not stand to continue in what I knew was disobedience. I had discussed NONE of this with Todd throughout the Summer, and was afraid he would think I'd lost my mind if I told him about all of this. Finally, I went to him and explained what was going on in my heart, how I felt led, what I thought the Lord wanted me to do, and how I saw my focus changing and my heart really turning towards being with her more and teaching/training her the way we wanted her to be raised.

I went to our area's most well known Christian school, was raised in a Christian home, and never "got it" until I was 20 and the Holy Spirit did a work in my heart. I did not want our daughter to be 20, with years of regrets, before she "got it". Todd said, "Pull her out and bring her home. If you know that's what the Lord has told you to do, I will not stand between you and the Lord."

So, that's what I did. I remember crying in the Principal's office, as though I were the student, trying to explain to her why I was bringing Anna home, and feeling certain she would be thinking I had lost my mind. Surprisingly she was very supportive. We'd made the financial commitment and felt that it was the right thing to do to gladly pay that which we had promised. But, man was I glad when that year was up!!!

So, moving along, my "Pros and Cons List" looked something like this - Keep in mind that some of this was listed because we already knew a good many others who homeschooled and had begun to be influenced by what we were seeing in their families, the behavior of their children, as well as the growth we'd seen in Anna over the Summer. As a general rule, most Christian Homeschoolers do so because they believe it to be their responsibility to educate their children, or feel led (by God) to do so. Obviously, the same was true for us.

This was my list of Pros and Cons before starting to homeschool.

* More opportunity to study closer those things of personal interest to her and focus on her areas of giftedness. Giftedness and Interest we believe is placed in heart by her God.
* Opportunity to focus on areas of difficulty for mastery. (Math was moving too fast and she was having trouble keeping up. At home we could slow it down until it "clicked" which is exactly what we did once she was home.

* More one on one opportunities for character training with Anna.
* More individual attention than she will ever receive in a classroom.
* More control over what she's learning.
* More control over how she is learning (meaning that I could adapt it for her learning style, taking into account her strengths and weaknesses).
* Less peer influence, more parental influence during the most impressionable years of her life. (Although Anna has a strong personality, I found quickly (in Kindergarten) that she was a follower of whomever she thought was "cool" and it really concerned me. Often the "cool" was not worth following if you know what I mean. I felt sorry for her, I didn't want her blindly following around the "cool kid" and not really even being herself.)
* More opportunity to spend time with other friends who were already homeschooling.
* More relaxed learning during the early years (through about 5th grade).
* Less stress from driving to and from (The drive was about 45 minutes one way - 4 times a day for me, , which didn't make for a very nice momma.) I was constantly yelling, "Hurry up!!"
* Savings of about $5,000.00 a year (in future years at home).
* The chance to school more "year round" to prevent forgetting things and losing momentum over the Summer months. (We do usually take off a good 6-8 weeks for our "summer" though. I use this time to research curriculum for the new year, pray through and what for the Lord's direction in those areas, and reorganize school supplies and area.)
* Able to spend more time with her dad, because of his hours often spent in the office at home. It means occasional lunches with dad at home or out, that wouldn't be possible in school.
* The opportunity to travel to see the things we were studying about throughout the U.S., and now, even into other countries!!

(Now entering our 6th school year, I could add dozens more "PROS" to this list now that we're actually living it.)

* Scared to death!
* Worried about what family and other will think (especially concerned about my parents because we lived next door to them). Instead, they became some of my greatest supporters.

The only real con I could come up with was FEAR!!
I finally decided that I was more afraid of being disobedient to God's call on our lives as a family, than I was of what anyone else would think of it. And, I made up my mind then that I would never - not do something - because of FEAR!!!

So, there you have it, this is a description of the beginnings. We've begun our 6th year at home, and Anna would have it no other way. She loves being home, she loves having special outside opportunities to spend with friends (science labs, drama classes, competitive dance, and church activities). They are opportunities that are handpicked and bathed in prayer. Hmm, living in God's call for us has brought us great peace.

As always, In His grace,


Monday, August 31, 2009

Photos and info from the Guatemalan Mission Trip

This is the group on mission in Guatemala,along with some of the locals who were helping to build the home. The home, is pictured behind them.

Todd and Anna in front of one of the most beautiful lakes on earth, Lake Atitlan in Guatemala.

To the right is a photo of Lake Atitlan in the "valley"
area, the clouds all around them,
and the mountains and one of the 3
volcanos in Guatemala.
What a glorious sight...

This is a photo of the stove that was being built into one of
the homes in Guatemala. The funds were given by people in my Mother's Sunday School Class, and an additional gift added by The Church at Brookhills.

There are more pictures to share, I will post them in the coming days.
Abiding in His grace, and asking for your prayers for a personal/unspoken need,

Friday, August 28, 2009

Walking By the Way

I just came across a new blog that I've enjoyed going through. She has some fantastic ideas for preschoolers and homeschool activities, for those of you with younger children.

I just had to share a post I just read from her blog, it is hysterical. Here's the link to the site . The post is about things she thought she'd never have to say to her children. She's raising boys and is amazed by the things they will do and the things she's had to say to them in the process.

I had to chime in and add my own "things I never imagined I'd have to say" to her post. Although I'm raising girls, Sarah Beth has given me plenty of strange things I've had to say to her.

Here's what I added:
Why did you pour that in your food?
We don’t eat doggie food, or drink the doggie’s water!
Don’t you dare jump from there!
Why would you paint your whole body with yogurt?
If you keep doing that, you and that chair are going to go through that window!!!

With Anna, the funny things said always came from her!!

Abiding in His grace,

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Family's Heart - Family Worship

I am currently working through a Bible study using a book entitled The Family's Heart - ten actions that will make your family and your church stronger.

As a Christian homeschooler, my greatest job and desire as my children's mother and teacher is their discipleship. There is no greater work during the day than this. Sure, we cover the subjects, yes we enjoy the benefits of homeschooling which are too numerous to list and include things like "jammie days" when we never get our of our pj's. But, while those are great benefits to home education, my only desire is that I disciple my children throughout the day.

Each struggle that we encounter -whether academic, relational, personal or spiritual is addressed from scripture in the natural, comfortable setting of home. For instance, if we (as individuals or as a family) are having problems relating to someone else (in a co-op class, a tutorial teacher, someone at church, in dance class, etc...) we look at Matthew 18 and determine what our role is in the relationship. We seek to be living examples of Christ and His church as we walk by the way, as we sit down and as we rise up (Deut. 6:4-9); and to disciple our children throughout the day to do the same. It is a difficult calling at best, because our children see our flaws daily, and as I say regularly, "My sin is ever before me."

One thing I've struggled with over the years is "family devotion" time. Through this Bible study, I am learning what it means to worship together as a family. I always thought that "family devotion time" was a necessary part of a healthy Christian family. As well, I thought that it should look like a miniature church service - you know - singing, Dad doing a devotional reading, and prayer. Well, we are not a "singing" family and dad doesn't really get excited over devotional readings, so for years I struggled with feeling like our family worship didn't measure up to what I thought it was "supposed" to look like.

However, during my Bible study this week, I came upon chapter 2 of the book I'm reading, "Develop Ways to Have Inspiring Family Worship Experiences." As I began to read through the material and the scriptures, I was convicted that I had set up something like an "idol" in my heart about what family worship should be. Then, every time we fell short of that, which would be daily, I would feel frustrated and condemned. Now, we all know that condemnation is not from the Lord, so wonder where that was coming from? (Romans 8:1) The "accuser of the brethren" who constantly tells us that we don't "measure up" to some particular standard? (Revelation 12:10).

Family worship includes a lot of things:
1) It includes your time in worship with your church. This is why we have always chosen to keep our children with us during worship time rather than having them participate in children's church programs.
2) It includes finding ways to focus on God and His worthiness throughout the day.
3) It includes finding ways to use the things you enjoy doing as a family as an opportunity to worship God.
4) It includes having a family ministry/mission. It can be divisive for family members to be involved in varying ministries, but unifying when you can find a way to minister together as a family.

So the study posed a couple of questions, and I will share my answers with you here:

1) What are some ways we can remind ourselves and our families of God's worthiness every day? (Hmmm, that kind of sounds like worship...)
Call to memory scripture verses as they pertain to the details of our daily lives.
Memorize scripture together as a family.
Listen to Christian music cds during the day and evening.
Daily personal Bible study, and reading the Bible with our children.
Enjoying virtuous books that feed the soul as well as the mind. (We like the Lamplighter series for this purpose.)

2) Jot down 3 activities your family enjoys doing together:
* Working on special projects together
* Family movie and pizza night
* Entertaining friends in our home

Then I began to think, I know - that can be dangerous :O) - how can we worship God while doing the things we enjoy doing together as a family?
1) Special projects: See God's creativity in the way He's made us to be creative individuals. Focus on having a servant's heart when we have the opportunity to work on special projects that benefit someone besides ourselves. This pleases the Lord.
2) Celebrate God by watching virtuous movies (I know they're hard to find), and point out un-Christlike behavior, discussing matters from a Biblical point of view, and teaching discernment to our children in the process.
3) Show hospitality and the love of Christ in our home, by the way we relate with one another. Be willing to be hospitable even when things aren't "perfect" - the house neat and clean, a fancy meal to share, etc... I've often wondered what sort of example we set for young believer's if we only entertain when things are "just so". I would not want to make other's feel unable to be hospitable because they can't live up to the examples others have set for them.

So, here's what I learned about family worship -
It won't look the same for every family, because every family is different.
It doesn't have to be a "mini" church service.
"Continual" worship is pleasing to God, and He is worthy of our worship.

Here are some of my favorite quotes from this particular lesson:

"If you attended a worship service and you were not changed, refreshed, or renewed, then you didn't really worship at all. You may have had a nice time seeing all of your friends, you may have balanced your checkbook or read three more chapters in your 'Read the Bible Through in a Year' plan, but you did not worship"

"Worship is so easy to do. It is simply coming to the understanding that God is worthy of our loving dedication. God doesn't need our love, but He is definitely worthy of it! The act of worship is geared toward reminding US who is worthy!"
Revelation 4:11
"Our Lord and God, You are worthy to receive glory and honor and power,because You have created all things, and because of Your will they exist and were created."

All glory be to Him! Abiding in His grace,

Sunday, August 16, 2009

God's Workmanship - Prepared for Good Works

Hi Everyone:

Today I would like to share some verses for you to meditate on as you read through the update:

Ephesians 2:10 reminds us that God has already prepared the things that our team is to do while they are in Guatemala on this trip. He has ordained every good work they will do...
"For we are His workmanship, created in Christ
Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand
that we should walk in them."

Romans 10:14-15
"How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “ How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, Who bring glad tidings of good things!”

Before our team left for Guatemala they were told (by a couple that travel on mission trips alot) that the main word to remember was "flexability".
Todd said this evening that they are learning to be VERY flexible!!

Thinking they would be starting on the widow's house today, they learned that the "maestros" (known here as foremen) don't work on Sunday. I suppose that makes since being that we're working with a ministry there. So here's what the day looked like...

They traveled to "The Promised Land" a facility built by Impacto and used for Bible studies, church gatherings, etc... The facility is directly on the water of Lake Atitlan and they have had problems with the property erroding at the water's edge. So today, they worked on rebuilding a sea wall. Once they finished that up they had some children come in for a
Bible story and VBS type activities.

Giann Hoosier, the 15 year old daughter of Craig and Debra, went through training this year with CEF (Child Evangelism Fellowship) and worked as a CEF counselor this Summer doing backyard Bible clubs throughout the Birmingham area. She got up and told a story and shared with the children about Christ, and Pastor Luis' son translated.

Once they finished with the program they began working on outfitting the children present with shoes. Todd said they washed the feet and fitted shoes for approximately 200 children!!!! He said that they were all very appreciative, only one didn't seem very excited but it was because he was sick and not feeling well.

Once they were finished it was beginning to get dark outside and Pastor Luis told them that they needed to get ready to leave to go back to San Pedro for the night. Thinking they had provided shoes for all of the children who attended the service today, they walked outside to leave and found standing outside a group of people waiting and hoping for shoes that was as big as the group that they had just worked with. Approximately another 200 people waiting outside because they couldn't get into the building. I can only imagine how disheartening that must have been for our team, and for those who'd waited and hoped. Please pray that they will be able to get them all fitted tomorrow or sometime during the course of the rest of the week. Remember, we had 555 pairs of shoes to give out, and they have used less than half!!!

Tomorrow the men and boys begin work on the widow's house and the others will continue doing Bible school with the children, and begin the women's Bible study on the book of Ruth.

As you continue to pray, remember our workers -
1) That they would have the energy and stamina to do the work they've gone to accomplish.
2) That everyone would continue to stay well.
And remember the people they are ministering to.
1) That they would be receptive to the help our team has gone to give them.
2) That their hearts would be prepared to hear the Word of God.

In Christ,
Lori McGuire

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Ready for rest, and waiting to serve the Lord... (final message from lastnight)

Hi Everyone:

Just got a message from Todd, didn't get to the cellphone before it rolled to voice mail...

He said they had just finished eating dinner, everyone is doing well, they met a group of people from New York who just came back from the Lake region where they will be heading to tomorrow. They were all able to share and visit, had a brief devotion time, and enjoyed visiting with the others. He says they are all looking forward to a goodnight's sleep!

They will all be staying together in "the compound" tonight, and the team from New York will be returning to NY tomorrow. Our team will head out in the morning for a short trip to Antigua to visit the shops and see the sites there. We visited Antigua when we went to pick Sarah Beth up to bring her home. It is a city with many historical sites and ruins, and quite a bit of commerce from street vendors selling jewelry and woven goods, to a Jade factory and Jewelry store that I'm sure they will visit tomorrow also. We enjoyed the best steak we've ever had in Antigua, but I'm sure they won't be going there tomorrow.

After they finish in Antigua they will head out for the Lake Atitlan region and begin the work they went to do in San Pedro. Lake Atitlan is said to be one of the most beautiful lakes on earth. I've only seen it in pictures and I must agree. I hope to go on the mission trips they take in the future, when Sarah Beth is old enough to return. For now, we can enjoy the pictures...

For interesting facts and information about the Country where your loved ones are currently doing the Lord's work, visit this website

Goodnight, and God bless, I'll check in with you all again tomorrow.
Lori McGuire
This is the Guatemalan Flag .............................

Friday, August 14, 2009

On the ground in Guatemala...

Good Afternoon Everyone:

This is the first of the posts I will be making as we hear updates from the "Land of Eternal Spring". Guatemala is so called because of it's nearly year-round Spring like weather.

Our team landed safely in Guatemala and had lunch with Pastor Luis in his home.

Thank you so much to all of you who donated shoes, you will be absolutely AMAZED to hear that the grand total of shoes donated was...... 555 pairs!!!
Is that amazing or what???!!!???

I will continue to post updates as I receive them.

Remember to keep them all in your prayers, praying for their safety, for the projects they are working on to run smoothly, for the hearts of the people to be softened and prepared by the Lord, and most importantly for the salvation of souls to the glory of God! Pray that they will remain well, and no one will forget and drink the water !! My 12 year old took tape to tape her mouth shut in the shower because they told them not to even get the water in their mouths in there!!! LOL - you gotta love the ideas kids come up with!!

We've wondered if it might be possible that they could be ministering in the village where Sarah is from. We don't know where her mother and grandmother are, and her older brother. But, we know they are there somewhere. We also sponsor a little girl in Guatemala, her name is Jessica. Todd spent time studying her little face in the picture we have of her on our refrigerator so that if he were to see her he would know.

They are expected to minister to approximately 100 women through a women's Bible study of the book of Ruth. The team Anna is working with will be doing games, crafts and backyard Bible club activities with approximately 80-100 children!!

I'd have to guess that our team will sleep well tonight, even in a foreign land... they were all up and at the airport by 4 this morning!!! I had to drive mine there, so I'm turning in early myself!!

Abiding in His Grace, and caring for the Guatemalan here on the home front!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Have you been to the "Secret Place" today?

I am currently reading through a book entitled Secrets of the Secret Place: Keys to Igniting Your Personal Time with God, by Bob Sorge. I wanted to share some excerpts from today's chapter "The Secret of Refuge."

We have several friends going through storms in their lives right now. We've been through many ourselves. I've often heard it said that if you aren't currently in a storm, look out - one might be on its way. At some point in our lives we experience them, some experience more of them than others. As believers we have somewhere to go and Someone to turn to. Daily time in our own "secret place" with God, where we are alone with Him and His word and prayer, is crucial to our Spiritual growth and our ability to weather the storms.

Abiding in His grace, and praying for you - my friends who are in need,

Psalm 27:5
"For in the time of trouble He shall hide me in His pavilion; in the secret place of His tabernacle He shall hide me; He shall set me high upon a rock."

Psalm 31:20
"You shall hide them in the secret place of Your presence from the plots of man; You shall keep them secretly in a pavilion from the strife of tongues."

These scriptures, were written by David when he was fleeing from Saul, he was not able to get to the "Tabernacle" to be with God. But, he knew that the Lord was with him in his secret place.

"While the place of prayer is a place of immunity, it is also one of Satan's favorite places to attack the devout.... So, the secret place is both a place of sanctuary and also of the enemy's strategic attacks. The assurance to the believer, however, is that when he is attacked in the place of prayer the Father is exercising sovereign jurisdiction over the entire affair. Nothing can happen to you in the secret place that He doesn't specifically allow for His higher purposes. You are totally immune from anything outside His will.

Psalm 91 deals with the tension of safety versus turbulence. The psalm launches with this powerful assurance, 'He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.' And we think, 'Great! Nothing can touch me there!' But the remainder of the psalm seems to contradict that thought. Verse 3 speaks of being snared by the fowler and being caught by the pestilence. (The fact that God delivers us from those things does not negate the reality of the pain we experience when we are initially caught in their grip.)... Verse 15 points to great personal trouble - the comfort being that the Lord will be present in the time of trouble and will bring deliverance. But waiting on God until the deliverance comes can be agonizing at times.

The closer we draw to the Lord in intimacy, the more real the warfare will be we encounter. Francis Frangipane described it with the phrase, "New levels, new devils." As the attacks increase, our cry only intensifies, 'Hide me!' While the body and soul may be afflicted with increasing harassment and abuse, the spirit is finding a place of greater protection, rest, and intimacy under the shadow of the Almighty. (see 2 Corinthians 4:8-11) ...

... Are winds swirling about your head? Run into the Lord! A refuge is something you flee into. A refuge doesn't automatically erect itself around you; you have to seek it out and run into its shelter for safe harbor. ... If God is to be your refuge, you must flee to Him. The cry is, 'Oh Lord, I am about to be consumed - I run into You! Hide me!' "

Psalm 71:3
"Be my strong refuge, to which I may resort continually."

(Note from me - I LOVE that verse!!! What an amazing reminder that God is always there for us. We can resort to Him continually!!! He is our strength.
- Lori)

Saturday, August 1, 2009

God's Sovereignty Loud and Clear

One thing that Todd and I have come to see in our walk with the Lord over the past 18-1/2 years is His total sovereignty over all things. I truly believe that understanding God's sovereignty is the key to understanding the whole of scripture. It is a theme that is on every page of the Bible from the first to the last.
One of my now favorite passages is one that I finally came to understand
1 John 4:17-19, "Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. We love Him because He first loved us." I never quite grasped this passage until I understood that it is God's love that is perfect. We can trust completely in Him, in His love for us and His sovereignty over all things, and rest. No need for fear!!! Since He lives in us, we then can show His love to others, a perfect love.
He is in control of everything. Nothing is going to happen to me that did not ultimately come from His hand. No accidents, no sicknesses, no death of loved ones, no pain or sorrow, no great joy, no amazing gifts, nothing - it all comes from Him. (See the book of Job if you doubt that.)

Because of our understanding of His perfect love and His sovereignty, it becomes easy then to see tragedies and perilous times in perspective. Then, we must trust in Him fully to submit to His plans for our lives over our own.

This weekend has been filled with some REALLY strange happenings that reminded me of these Biblical principles.
  • As I mentioned in the previous post, Todd and Anna will be traveling to Guatemala in the month of August, and there is a great need of shoes to be used with the "Happy Feet" ministry there. People travel from other villages when they hear that the Happy Feet people will be in town. Many travel without shoes, having never owned a pair. I wanted desperately to be able to provide a lot of shoes for them to take with them when they leave. They each have 2 large pieces of luggage to fill, but they must not exceed 50 pounds each. So, we began asking others to donate and began looking for some deals on shoes ourselves. My mother and I went to the Thrift Store and she purchased 37 pairs of like new shoes for boys, girls, women, and men. Each pair ranged from $ .99 - $2.48/pair. What a great find! A friend of her's went too and bought several more pairs to add to them. My sister-in-law went to her local Wal-Mart and found summer shoes on clearance for $1-$2/pair. Shoes that had been $5-$10/pair originally. My friend Vonda donated some of her girl's shoes that were outgrown, but still in great shape! My friend Leslie found shoes on clearance at our local Wal-Mart - men's tennis shoes for about $3.50/pair, and some shoes like my Sister-In-Law bought on clearance, so she picked those up. Others have told us they are going to donate funds for shoes, or go through their own to find some they could give. We are giving shoes to people who may have only 1 pair, the pair given to them, and out of our plenty we give freely!! That is God at work, meeting the needs of His people in another Country, through the hearts of His people in the United States!!! Amazing, something only God could orchestrate. I am not worried about the weight of the luggage, we'll pack them full, and God can take care of how much they weigh - RIGHT??? See how far reaching and involved His sovereignty is?? I have no FEAR!!!!

  • A family we have become close to lost their daughter 9 years ago to a brain tumor. Having lost one of our own, we have a special connection with them, even though the circumstances are different. This weekend, their oldest son had a tumor removed from his brain. He is an adult, just finished up his Masters and preparing to go to work. The tumor is malignant. They are waiting for more news to come next week about his further treatment options. They understand Sovereignty, and they are fully submitted to God's will and resting in His Sovereign Grace, and love - that casts out fear!!!!

  • Now, the strangest of all our weekend events... Last night, around dusk, we were in our family room watching our Friday night Family Movie. This is what we do every Friday, along with eating weigh too much (yes I spelled it that way for a reason :O) !!!) pizza. I was sitting in the floor, wiping down all of our Thrift Store shoes with a Clorox wipe, when I felt a lite bump on the floor. I said to Todd, "What was that? Did you feel that bump?" He didn't, yes we were watching it in SURROUND SOUND, so we didn't hear anything. About 5 minutes or so passed and my cell phone rang, it was my mother. She asked where we were and I told her we were at home. She then said, "Do you know that there is a girl in your driveway? She's hit your retaining wall, and she's out of the car standing in the drive." WHAT??? Todd and I rushed outside to see what was going on and I called 911. In our driveway was a red car, smashed completely into our retaining wall, the car totaled, airbags deployed, and a 4 foot iron fence post driven through the front windshield and down to her seat. The car couldn't make the curve, she lost control and went through two fences. She split an 8x8 railroad tie in half, plowed up that fence, went through some pasture, plowed up some more fence, and then drove across our yard and into the retaining wall! The girl was standing in the driveway, talking to 911, cuts and scrapes on her arm, leg and ankle, face hurting from the airbag, but other than that - totally unharmed. She refused to call her parents, for fear of their anger or punishment I suppose. I got their number and called them myself. We had every type of flashing light vehicle you can imagine, two of some of them, lined up along the road in front of our house. In God's Sovereignty, this girl's life was spared. She admitted to coming through the 90 degree curve before our house doing 55 miles per hour!!! WAY TOO FAST!!! The speed limit is about 25. She was not killed, and I wanted her and her family to know that she wasn't killed because God is Sovereign!!!!! I told her, numerous times, that the Lord was watching over her. One of the rescue workers said, somebody was riding in that car alongside her. I knew what he meant. I told her parents, and a friend that came with them, over and over again, that her life had been spared. I told the rescue workers, and the police, the wrecker driver, anyone who came past me - the Lord was with her in that wreck. By all the scientific "evidence", she should have been dead. The force of the impact should have given her a severe back or neck injury at the very least, and at the worst, she could have been impaled by the metal fence post through her head, neck, or body!! BUT, because of God's sovereignty, it came in through the top of her windshield and came to rest to the left side of her driver's seat. Unbelievable!!!! And, amazingly, our retaining wall suffered absolutely no damage. Nothing! It stands as solid now as it did before she hit at a speed of about 50-55 miles an hour. From the way things looked, she was accelerating. We learned many lessons from this particular event, about teenagers and their parents, about God's grace and mercy, and about sharing our faith with others in times of tragedy. The family was of foreign descent, they appeared to be from India. It made for an interesting Friday Family Movie night!

Please remember our friends and their son as they navigate his cancer and work with the Doctors to prepare a course of treatment. Pray for all of us as we prepare for the Guatemala trip. Lastly, pray that this family saw Christ during their short time at our home last night.

Abiding in His grace and sovereignty, resting in His love, and putting feet to faith,