Thursday, September 26, 2013

Reality

Are the days flying by in your home as quickly as they are in our's? David and I can hardly believe October is next week.

This past Saturday, David was running on fumes fighting a virus. So, he and I intentionally decided that  we would actually make the next day, Sunday, a "day of rest," like the 10 Commandments say.

As Monday rolled around, we both noticed a difference to the beginning of the work/school week having come right off a full day of rest.

Physically, David felt much better. I wasn't stressed as much as I usually am on a Monday morning (even though I still needed to go to the grocery store). We were on the same page regarding where the other one was emotionally (because we'd actually had plenty of time to talk about what was going on deep inside the day before). We knew what the schedule for the week was - and not because it was on every single one of our calendars, but because we'd had time to talk about it.

Have we been stress/problem free all week long because we rested on Sunday? No.

Were we better prepared to embrace the struggles of the week because we rested? Yes.

When we were growing up, my Dad had a rule in our home that we couldn't do homework on Sunday. And on Sundays, Mom rarely prepared dinner. Legalistic? No, not at all. Dad wanted us to get it done before Sunday so that on Sunday we could rest and enjoy family time before the week started back up again. Mom didn't make dinner because, for her, not cooking/cleaning up provided a way for her to rest.

Not only is resting on the Sabbath something God wants us to do, like all of His commandments, it's GOOD for YOU to do it!

However, have you noticed that all of the 10 Commandments, including honoring the Sabbath, are hard to follow, even though they are good for us?

Is killing someone a bad idea? Yes. Have I ever considered killing someone (Exodus 20:13)? No. But, I've hated someone. And Jesus said hate is the same as murder (Matthew 5:22).

I've never committed adultery. But, Jesus said that lust is the same thing as adultery! (Matthew 5:28) 

Whether we like it or not, a white lie is still a lie.

And we hardly ever honor the Sabbath as we should.

We break the 10 Commandments every day.

So, we're ALL in trouble. NONE of us are perfect. NONE of us will ever be good enough to get into Heaven because whether we like it or not, none of us, up to this point, have followed ALL of the 10 Commandments every single day for our entire life.

Feel like you're listening to a crazy evangelical in the middle of an intersection?

They usually focus a lot on the "going to Hell" part and forget the relief part, the good news, the guess what, it's not all fire and brimstone.

Yes, our God demands justice, but because He's merciful, He provided a substitute to serve our punishment (death/Hell) for us.

That gruesome death Jesus endured on the cross, that was it. Jesus never broke a 10 Commandment - or any other rule. (Hebrews 4:15) That made Him the perfect sacrifice.

Just this week my family was reminded that 10 out of 10 people die when our dear friend David Yankey unexpectedly passed away.

Unexpected deaths remind us to keep our affairs in order, to make sure those who we leave behind will be taken care of.

But what about how your death is going to affect YOU? What about what happens to YOU after you die?

We already know we're not good enough - the 10 Commandments showed us that.

We now know that God did something about it and sent Jesus to serve our punishment.

The next part is a lot easier than you might think... Receive the forgiveness being offered to you and turn from the sins (like not following the 10 Commandments) you've been engaging in.

It's really not that complicated.

For those of you who live nearby and have questions, I'd love to grab a cup of coffee with you and talk about this if you'd like. For those of you who don't, you probably already have a friend who follows Christ nearby who would be thrilled to discuss any questions you might have. For those of you who fit neither category, check out these churches/ministries and get yourself a copy of the Bible.

It's time to stop being flippant about reality - 10 out 10 people die, there's only two places to go, and thank God there's a Way for us to spend eternity in the better place. : )

The Way of the Master
Need Him Global
Proverbs 31 Ministries
The Life of a Single Mom Ministries
Passion City Church
The Church at Brook Hills
TeenChallenge USA
Focus on the Family
KLOVE
Luis Palau

Friday, September 20, 2013

Faithgirlz

Last week kicked off the beginning of Faithgirlz at the AR Dream Center! (Faithgirlz = girl scouts meets devotional groups.) We had 30 girls ranging in ages from 4-11yrs old on our first night. It was such a GREAT time getting to know each other, decorating cookies, painting nails, coloring, and making bracelets.

Our verse for the year is "So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." 2 Corinthians 4:18

In preparation for yesterday's second Faithgirlz meeting, I thumbed through old magazines looking for pictures of beautiful models. I arranged the photos in a collage on poster board, and at the top I wrote, "What is seen..."


I flipped the board over and wrote, "What is unseen is ... Eternal!"


I realize it's an abstract concept, so I hope the poster makes it tangible.

After lots of hugging, giggling, and glitter filled mirror decorating, we gather and settle down for "talk-time" yesterday night. 

I've thumb-tacked the poster onto the wall so the girls can see the models, and I point to different women on the poster and ask the girls to tell me why they're beautiful. 

One has pretty eyes, the other pretty hair, another has a pretty purse...

I agree with them, and then explain that as time goes on, those qualities that make them "beautiful" can change or go away. I write "temporary" over their faces. 

I can tell the girls are surprised because it's the first time they've all sat still at once. The poster was so beautiful, but now it's ruined. Just like that, the beauty is gone.



I flip the board over and ask them to identify something that they can't see that lasts forever.

It takes a few moments, and they start with the "Christian" answers... God, Jesus, your Soul.... I ask them about "kindness," and they start to understand....


I squat low to the ground to get eye level with them and tell them the magazines and the movies tell us that beauty looks like these models, but God made specific things about us that cannot be seen, that are inside of us, that make us beautiful. And I prayed in that moment, with every eye looking at me, that they would remember the truth in my statement, the truth enveloped in 2 Corinthians 4:18. 

After small groups and game time, when most of the girls had gone home, I took down the poster. Two girls, about 9-10 yrs old, stood next to me and asked if they could have the poster. After asking each individually why they wanted it, I was shocked at both of their answers. 

"Because, I want to explain it to my mom." 

So, yesterday night, the enemy lost. : )

At least two girls understood the difference between seen and unseen, temporary and eternal. 

And not only did they understand, they desired to share the truth with those who don't. 


"So we fix our eyes not on what is seen but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." 2 Corinthians 4:18

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Our eBay Adventure Update



So, as previously posted, this summer David and I ventured into the seller's side of eBay. We started slow with a couple old iPods to test the waters. We wanted to see if we could make some money on items we weren't using at home - things that were just collecting dust or taking up space.

It took about two months for us to really get the swing of it - how to handle international buyers, how to save the most money on shipping, what to do when you don't get paid, which number on the USPS receipt is your tracking number, what to do when your buyer won't pay, what to do when you have an international buyer not pay, and the most important question of all ... Is the time and effort worth it? Are we actually making a profit??

I treated this endeavor as a business from the beginning - so I've kept every receipt and logged every expense into a spreadsheet my dad would be very proud of. When I got September's eBay invoice today and was able to plug in my final numbers for the transactions during the past 30 days and calculate our profit, I was blown away! I was honestly just hoping to be in the green. (One month this summer we only made a grand total of $6 because I'd gone negative on two items after shipping.) September was a success! We were in the green this month! And, we'd turned a pretty significant profit considering we'd only sold things that we weren't using / didn't need anymore / hadn't touched in years.

So, what are we doing with our extra cash? Right now, we're putting most of it into a travel fund. It feels like putting pennies into a piggy bank. But if eventually some unused articles of clothing and last semester's textbooks can turn into a plane ticket, we could be looking at the best version of up-cycling yet.

If you have any eBaying tips! I'd love to hear them!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Happy Birthday, Paul!

Twenty-four years ago today I became a big sister. Paul and I were so close in age (not quite 17 months between us), Mom says it was like raising twins!

Of course, at 17 months, I was far too little to understand the gift God blessed our family with On September 9th, 1989.

I've often said that I forget that Paul is my "little" brother...  Maybe it's because we were so close in age, or because he's always been the best protector. He would take a bullet, or worse, for me. He's taught me far more than I've ever taught him.

Most of my fondest childhood memories involve my brother. Tossing beanie babies across the hallway in an all out beanie baby war, building lego fortresses, laughing, his antics during road trips, running around the yard with our family dog Duke, running away from the UPS truck...

I call him "the coolest person I know" because he is.

Most people who know my brother only know maybe one or two of the things about him that make him so special.

Most people who know the basics about Paul are just impressed by all he's "overcome."

Others are impressed by his charm and dashing good looks.

And then there are others who get to hear his heart, and those I consider very fortunate.

All the while, I look on with a heart that overfills with love and adoration for a young man who loves his Maker, seeks the lost, and does everything with humility. A young man who lives up to every name he's been given.





Happy Birthday, Paul Stapp Clark. I'm so proud to call you brother. I'm so blessed to have been able to grow up with you. I miss and love you more than words.