Saturday, December 24, 2011

Mary's Song

By:  Victoria L. Stankus


Joseph and I had a long way to go.
We traveled both day and night.
But when we arrived in Bethlehem,
There were no empty rooms in sight.

I didn't complain, but trusted God
To find us a place to stay.
Soon, there was this stable
Filled with plenty of nice warm hay.

It is here where my song was born.
Jesus, God's son, I did bear.
The thought of this babe as a king
Is almost a bit of a scare.

But, as I look in His eyes,
I see beautiful sparkles of love.
I know He is not just my son,
But also the Father's above.

The birth of the king is shown by a star.
Some shepherds followed it and came.
When they arrived, they worshiped Him
And praised His holy name.

I’ve wrapped the babe in swaddling clothes
And laid Him in a manger.
There He will be plenty warm
And kept away from danger.

Now, as I watch Him sleeping,
There’s a song that fills my heart.
And, my baby boy is the melody
That made the music start.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

My Experience With The Gabby Moms

At the end of 2010, my friend CARIE introduced me to TEACH Magazine, which is now called Eternal Encouragement. The publisher, Lorrie Flem, was beginning a new program called The Gabby Moms, where specific mom bloggers would read and review one of Lorrie’s products each month. I was thrilled to have been accepted into the program, and my first review for them was posted in January 2011. If you’ve been following my blog at all this past year, you’ve most likely read one of my reviews of her products, and have seen how much they have been an encouragement to me.

I am very glad I joined the Gabby Moms. Being involved in the beginning phases of a new program definitely has its pros and cons; but, overall, it has been a very rewarding experience for me to be a part of it. However, after much prayer and thought, I decided not re-join The Gabby Moms program for 2012 - mostly because of time constraints. I have been very busy this past year with various activities and commitments and, quoting my Dad, “I want to be exhausted for the Lord, but I don’t want to be burned out.” While it is important for us to remain faithful in service for the Lord, it is also important to remember our PRIORITIES. Here is what Lorrie Flem has taught me about priorities:
As wives and mothers, the list of our responsibilities is long and it can be difficult to sort them all out. But the truth is they are clearly laid out for us in God’s Word and are not decisions that we have to make. It is all spelled out for us in Scripture. Look in Titus 2, Proverbs 31, 1 Corinthians 11, and 1 Timothy 5 to see just what our priorities are to be. Our priorities are to be:

• My husband
• My children
• My home
• My parents, in-laws, extended family, church, friends, and neighbors
• My outside ministries
This past year, with all of the craziness in doing for the Lord and doing for others, I think my outside ministries became a higher priority for me than anything else, and I intend to remedy that. So, I have begun to condense my commitments into only a few. That way, I can concentrate more specifically on the commitments I have, without getting stressed out; and I also want to be sure I don’t neglect those first five priorities!

If you are considering being a Gabby Mom in the future, or you are new to the program for 2012, I think you will find it to be a truly rewarding experience. Lorrie’s materials are very thought-provoking, and I have definitely learned a lot from her this past year. Just remember to keep your priorities straight as you serve the Lord in this way, or in any other capacity.

NOTE: In 2012, I will still be involved with Eternal Encouragement Magazine, but in a different way. I have been asked to be one of the columnists for the new online version of Eternal Encouragement. I'm very excited about this opportunity, and feel honored to have been asked.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

God Gave Us You - Book Review

I’ve always enjoyed the cute little “polar bear” books written by Lisa Tawn Bergren. This book, “God Gave Us You,” is no exception. This chubby little board book is great for young children to handle while looking at the pictures, either before or after Mommy or Daddy read the words to them. It's a great book to snuggle up on the couch and read to your little ones, telling them how their entrance into the world was a gift from God.

Just to note, the beginning of this book has a page where some of the wording may need to be adjusted in order to fit each child. The book seems to be geared towards a firstborn child, as Mama Bear says, “Your papa and I were alone, and we wanted a baby.” But, if needed, the “alone” part can be left out, easily changing the wording to, “Your papa and I wanted a baby.”

Overall, the pictures in this book are adorable, and it is a very sweet book to share with the little ones in your life. Even my 8-year-old son enjoyed the book.

I received this book free of charge from WaterBrook Multnomah
Publishing Group in exchange for my honest review.

You can find out more about this book at the

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Ways to Encourage #3 - Share Your Goodies

Today, I want to mention a third way we can be an encouragement to others. With the Christmas Season under way, this is a good one to be used especially during this time. However it does NOT (and should not) be reserved only for this time of year...

 It it always a very special treat for me and my family when someone unexpectedly knocks on our door to bring something homemade to share with us. It has happened to us during the Christmas season, and it has happened to us during a time when we needed some special encouragement. 

Several years ago, during a particularly hard January, one lady we knew from the church baked us a loaf of homemade bread and brought it to us, along with a hug. It was nothing fancy; just a simple (but I must say, YUMMY) loaf of homemade white bread. It was the thought that really counted. When someone takes the time to bring something to you in this way, it means they are thinking of you, and that they care. It is a special form of encouragement that should never go out of style.

As you (and maybe your children along with you) are making "goodies" to eat throughout the year, be sure to make some extra and share them with friends and neighbors. At Christmastime, you can include a Christmas card or a friendly greeting; but, it is also nice to mix things up a bit and share some goodies during  different holidays in the year. Maybe make some cookies or candies for Valentine's Day and share them with others. Or, you could pass out Easter bread or some other homemade treat to celebrate the resurrection of our Savior in the Spring. You could also dye something green and pass it out on St. Patrick's Day. What about something with red, white and blue for Independence Day? Or a loaf of pumpkin bread, or pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving? The possibilities are endless! But, the best one of all (because it is least expected) is when you give to others for no special reason. At these times, you can attach a note that simply says, “Just because we care."

Have FUN with Encouragement!


Saturday, December 3, 2011

Ways to Encourage #2 - Personalize Your Greeting Cards

Yesterday, our family received our first Christmas card for this season! It was fun to get our first card, and it was nice to know some friends of ours were thinking of us. Not only that, but these friends made the card personal by adding a few photos of their family, and also writing a simple note at the bottom of the card. The note said, “This year has been richer because of your friendship.” It was just one, short sentence, but it meant a lot to me to know we have made a difference is these people’s lives. It was a simple act of encouragement to us on their part.

Of course, you don't have to send Christmas cards to let someone know you are thinking of them. You can do this with Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Easter, Birthdays, Anniversaries, or Just Because. But, sending cards (of ANY kind) really does help to bring a smile to someone's face. Happy 

When you DO send out cards, it will mean so much more to the receiver when you write a little note of encouragement in it as well. Make your cards personal by telling your friends and family how much they mean to you.
If your funds are limited, you can make your own cards. There are many different software programs you can use to help you with this, or just simply fold a piece of paper in half two times and use pen or marker to decorate it and add your sentiments. If you have children, you can get them involved by having them decorate the cards with sequins and glitter, or simply draw a picture. 

Another way to save on cash is to hand deliver your cards, if your friends are local (and you can add a hug into the mix as well). If they are not local, feel free to send cards and letters through e-mail also. E-mail may not be quite the same as a physical card, but it is still something to let others know you are thinking of them.

Here are a few different places online where you can send a FREE “electronic” greeting card to your friends and family, and can add a personal note to most of them at the end...

Have fun with encouragement!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Ways to Encourage #1

The dreams we have while we’re sleeping are usually pretty strange. But, I do believe there are times when we can learn something from our dreams. For example, a couple of months ago, I had a dream that gave me an idea to share.

In the dream, my family and I were sitting at our dining room table, passing around several pieces of paper. At the top of each paper was a name or a photo of one member of our family. For example, there was one paper for me, one for my husband, and one for each child. The papers went around the table and each of us took turns writing out something encouraging for the person on the paper.

A couple of weeks later, I decided to give this a try with our two children for a “creative writing” assignment. Our daughter was given a paper with her brother’s name on it, and vise versa for our son. Let me share with you what they both wrote:

Our 8-year-old son wrote:

I like [my sister] because... She loves dogs, and she loves me to play dogs with her, and she loves me too.

Our 13-year-old autistic daughter wrote:
I like [my brother] because... I love him. I like to play with him. We can play catch with a ball. We can play with stuffed dogs. We can play tag.
These are very simple sentences they each wrote, but special in many ways. They will be kept in a 3-ring binder and treasured to look back on. It is always nice to look at encouraging thoughts someone has written about you.

We haven’t done this activity with the entire family yet, but might do it soon. I’m sure it would be a good activity to do during the Christmas season. I encourage you to try it with your own family, and maybe even make a yearly tradition of it.

This suggestion will be the first out of a series called “Ways to Encourage.” Over the next several weeks, I will be sharing ten different ways we can bring encouragement to our family and friends, or even to a complete stranger. They will be simple things we can do to bring a smile to someone’s face.

If you choose to try one of the suggestions I mention, please share it in the comments section below (or send me an E-MAIL and I can share it for you.)

Also, if you have a story to share about how someone encouraged YOU in a special way, please share that as well.

Have fun with encouragement!


Saturday, November 19, 2011

Yelling: The Cause, The Casualty, The Cure (Review)

I am generally a quiet person, rather reserved and not wanting to draw much attention to myself. However, in my own home, where I am most comfortable, I have been known to “let loose.” I have danced around the kitchen with my family, tickled my children ‘til they can’t stand it anymore, chased them up the stairs, sang with them at the top of my lungs, and even laughed at noisy bodily functions.

Those are all "fun" things but, although I hate to admit it, I have also "let loose" by raising my voice at the children in a not so friendly way. In other words, I have "yelled" at them. Sometimes, I felt as if they deserved it, but most of the time they didn’t. That just goes to show, as much as I would like it to be, I’m not a perfect mom.

I also know I’m not alone with taking part in this negative response of yelling. Are there any perfect moms out there who have never raised their voice to their children? I honestly don’t know of one single mother who has never done that– not even Lorrie Flem of Eternal Encouragement Magazine! She is the first to admit she has yelled at her children, and she has received many letters from other mothers who have done the same, asking for help. So, Lorrie wrote an eBook about it, called, “Yelling: The Cause, The Casualty, The Cure.”

In this 21-page eBook, Lorrie encourages us to figure out what our “triggers” are. She also gives helpful ideas on how to plan ahead for those triggers, in order to eliminate them, or to respond appropriately to them. Yelling is not responding appropriately - to ANY misdemeanor. We expect our children to be respectful of us and to talk to us using a proper tone of voice. But, then, its okay for us to yell at them? What is this teaching them?

Lorrie says, “Look at it this way, if it isn’t life-threatening, if the house is not ablaze, if it is not time to call 911, or if the child you are yelling at is not half a mile away, then yelling is the wrong choice and not worth the cost.”

Lorrie can help you make a better choice through her “11-step stop yelling plan,” which is found in the “Yelling” eBook mentioned above. Order your own copy today at

I received “Yelling: The Cause, The Casualty, The Cure” as an official member of THE GABBY MOMS blogging program. I received it free of charge in exchange for my honest review.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Inexpensive Ways to Spend Time With Your Family

You can spend time with your family, and you can do it very inexpensively. The following list has something for everyone - families with children, families without children, families with grown children, grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc...
Play a board game or card game.

Play “I Spy” (The object is to have someone choose an item in the room, within eyeshot of everyone. Then, each person takes turns asking questions about it until they figure it out.)

Play Hangman or Tic Tac Toe.

Ask each person 20 questions about themselves to get to know them better.

Play 20 questions, where someone thinks of an object and writes it down, then everyone asks questions to see if they can figure out what it is.

Draw pictures together. One of my family’s favorite games is to have one person draw one thing, then the next person adds something to it, then continues on until you all agree that the picture is done. My dad did this with us when I was growing up, and now he is doing it with his grandchildren as well. We call it the “Drawing Game.”

Tell stories to each other, or with each other. Just like the “Drawing Game,” telling stories works the same way. Someone begins, then the next one continues, until everyone has had at least one chance.

Bake together and share some with your friends and neighbors.

Have a family movie night with pizza and popcorn.

Have an ice cream sundae bar where everyone can add their own toppings.

Listen to music and dance around the room.

Sing with each other.

Rub each other’s feet and shoulders while watching TV or listening to music.

Exercise together.

Have a scavenger hunt.

Have an indoor picnic.

Do a craft together.

Do a service project together.

Play with playdough.

Learn about a specific kind of pet, then go pick one out together.

Go on a nature hike, or just a walk around the neighborhood.

Sit on the porch swing and watch the birds.

Go to the park.

Go swimming together.

Rake leaves together, then jump in them.

Play in the snow or go sledding.

Go camping.

Ride bikes.

Fly a kite.
Play a game of tag or hide and seek.

The list goes on...

What are some of your favorite inexpensive things to do as a family? Please share...

Monday, November 14, 2011

Happy 50th Anniversary to TWO Special Couples!

I just wanted to share the amazing milestones of two wonderful couples in my life...

Within the past couple of months, both sets of our parents (David's and mine) have celebrated their 50th wedding anniversaries.

In September, we celebrated with
David's parents, John & Sharon

This past weekend, we celebrated with
my parents, James & Carolyn 

Both sets of parents are such wonderful examples of what it means to follow through on a commitment. Through good times and bad, they have stayed together, and have promised to remain committed to each other until the Lord calls them home. It is a blessing to know these two couples.

Congratulations to both couples, and may the Lord continue to bless you in the years to come!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Homeschool Blog Awards Nominee

This blog (He Holds My Right Hand) has been nominated for the Homeschool Blog Awards, under the category of "Most Encouraging." If you feel this blog is worthy of winning this award, please go to THE HOMESCHOOL POST and place your vote. Thanks! 

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Welcome Home, Daddy

I’ve heard it said many times that we need to cherish what we have, because we never know when it might be taken away. That thought rang true in my mind yesterday morning, after I received a phone call from my Paramedic husband.

On the phone, he told me of a how the Lord protected him on his way to the hospital with a patient. The driver of the ambulance was going 65 miles per hour, and a semi truck, not seeing them coming, turned out in front of them. If it hadn’t been for quick reflexes and solid brakes, the ambulance would have collided with the truck.

Thankyou, Lord, for protecting my husband! You can be sure, when he arrived home last night, I welcomed him at the door with several hugs and kisses.

Speaking of that, I just finished reading a book by Lorrie Flem called, “Welcome Home, Daddy.” It’s a book geared towards helping homemakers become more content in their roles, and more committed towards serving in the home. It gives helpful suggestions on how to make your family feel special, including greeting your husband at the door when he gets home from work. It also gives ideas on how to make family meal times more special for everyone, how to be hospitable to guests (and not always needing a spotless house to do so!), tips on having family devotions, how to teach your children to pray, ways to minister to others through home baked goodies, and how to support your husband in his role as well. Overall, the book is what you might call “a graduate course in domestic engineering.”

Some may consider Lorrie’s traditional views of homemaking to be a bit extreme, due to the world we live in today and the many career options available for women to choose from. But, for those who desire to be the best they can be in the honorable occupation of being mothers and homemakers, this book gives good ideas on how to make the hours that “Daddy” is home into cherished memories. I know I gleaned some inspiration from it, and I’m sure you would, too.

NOTE: I received “Welcome Home, Daddy” as an official member of THE GABBY MOMS blogging program for Eternal Encouragement Magazine. I received it free of charge in exchange for my honest review.

If you are a mom blogger interested in being a part of the Gabby Moms program for 2012, please go HERE for more information.


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Does God Give Us More Than We Can Handle?

We’ve all heard it at one time or another...

We are going through a difficult time, one thing after another is going wrong, bad news keeps turning up, we just don’t know how much more we can take! Then, a well-meaning friend will say it.... “Just remember that God won’t give you more than you can handle.”

Oh, really? What if I’ve lost absolutely everything that means anything to me (as in the case of Job in the Bible)? What if I'm so full of sorrow that I can't think straight? What if I'm so stressed out that I feel as if I would break into a million pieces if just one more bad thing would happen? Wouldn’t that be more than I can handle?

I’ve been there, you know.... I’m not “there” at this moment, thank the Lord, but, I’ve been there! (And, I know plenty of others who have been there, too - with some that are “there” right now.) But, you know what? It took going through tough circumstances that helped me realize I could NOT handle these things - not at ALL - not on my own, anyway! I needed the LORD to handle them for me - to bear/carry my burdens - instead of trying to do it myself. I needed to lean on Him for strength, just as we all do.

Many well-meaning people will use 1 Corinthians 10:13 to say God doesn’t give us more than we can bear: “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.”

My husband pointed this out to me... If you look closely at that verse, you can see it has nothing to do with the trials or hardships we endure; unless, of course, one of your struggles is dealing with temptation. The verse says God will not allow us to be tempted beyond what we are able to bear (or resist, as some translations say). It says nothing about us being able to handle/bear our trials. In fact, I can’t find ANY verse in the Bible that says this (If I am wrong, please share!) But, what I DO find are many verses that tell us to rely on God for the strength we need to get us through the difficult times.

Ps 28:7 - The LORD is my strength and my shield; My heart trusts in Him, and I am helped; therefore my heart exults, and with my song I shall thank Him.

Ps 37:39 - But the salvation of the righteous is from the LORD; He is their strength in time of trouble.

Ps 46:1 - God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

Isa 40:31 - Yet those who wait for the LORD will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary.

and the list goes on...

So, does God give us more than we can handle? Sure, He does! But, He also provides us with the strength we need by carrying our burdens for us... IF we allow Him to.

We don’t always know the reasons for the things we go through in life - at least not while we are going through them. But, no matter what, it is helpful for us to remember that the Lord does love us and will always be there for us in our time of need. He is there to listen, to comfort, to bring peace and/or reassurance to our heavy hearts, and to bring us strength. Trust in Him.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Real Rest

Are you weak in spirit? Is your heart heavy with a burden? Read what it says here in Matthew 11:28

"Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden,
and I will give you rest.”

Its not just a physical kind of rest Jesus is talking about here. (Taking a nice warm bath, or getting a massage can help with that for a little while.) Its REAL REST He’s talking about - the kind that comes from within - the kind that comes from sitting at the feet of Jesus and allowing HIM to carry our burdens.

Think about this past week for a moment....
  • How often have you lost your self-control?
  • How often have you yelled at your children for something they did wrong?
  • How often have you raised your voice to your spouse because he/she wasn’t meeting your expectations?
  • How often have you “chewed out” a friend over something that was rather unimportant?
Losing your self-control in these ways is usually caused by being tired, stressed, overworked, and feeling unappreciated. I admit I am among those of you who have felt this way this past week; and I know ALL of us do at one point or another. It is a typical human response as we seek fulfilment from others, rather than from the Lord. Lorrie Flem of Eternal Encouragement Magazine, understands this. So, she felt led to produce a new product, specifically geared towards women, that helps us learn how to be more ENERGIZED AND FULFILLED WOMEN OF GOD.

NOTE: This new product is not an e-book or an audio download. It is a physical DVD that is sent in the regular mail. The DVD also includes a PDF with a study guide that has the acronym of REAL REST on it. Lorrie uses the video and the study guide to walk us through how to find “real rest” when we are so worn down physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

Lorrie helped remind me that sitting at the feet of Jesus is what will bring more rest for weary souls than anything else. She says, “You cannot be a nurturer unless you yourself are nurtured.” But, it’s a matter of choice. If we neglect Him, or don’t take the time to rest in His presence, our feelings of frustration and despair will get the best of us. So, what do YOU think would be the better choice?

I love this old hymn that talks of this very thing (Click on the title below to hear the music).
Words by: Joseph Scriven, 1855

What a Friend we have in Jesus,
All our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit,
O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer!

Have we trials and temptations?
Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged,
Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful
Who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness,
Take it to the Lord in prayer.

Are we weak and heavy-laden,
Cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Savior, still our refuge
Take it to the Lord in prayer;
Do thy friends despise, forsake thee?
Take it to the Lord in prayer;
In His arms He'll take and shield thee,
Thou wilt find a solace there.

Disclaimer: I received Energized and Fulfilled Woman of God as an official member of THE GABBY MOMS blogging program for Eternal Encouragement Magazine. I received it free of charge, and all opinions are my own.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Listening Sheets for Children

I first learned about "Listening Sheets" from THE BISHOP'S WIFE, and decided to try them out. These are pages you can print out and give to your children to use during a church service, which helps them to listen and pay attention better. For the past two Sundays, I have used these with both of our children (ages 8 and 13), and it helped them to keep their hands busy and their minds more attentive. There are  sheets for all ages, including non-readers up to those who read fluently.  Here is a list of the places I found (or was directed to):
Give them a try and see what you think!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

GUEST POST: Just Enough Grace

I want to share an article with you from my new blogging friend, Valerie. She is a pastor's wife, a homeschool mama, and a fellow writer. I recently found her through an article she wrote for Homeschool Enrichment Magazine, and contacted her on her BLOG. Here is her latest post. Thanks for allowing me to share this, Valerie!


2 Corinthians 12:9 - And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

When my husband was 16 years old, he began having severe pain in his lower back. After taking medication for many days with no relief, his parents took him to the doctor. They discovered through ultrasound that one of his kidneys was the size of a basketball. Further tests revealed that a vein had been attached to his ureter since birth. As he grew, the vein grew, finally closing off the ureter so that the kidney could not be emptied. By God's great mercy and blessing, the doctors were able to remove his kidney, repair the problem and then replace the kidney. It now functions normally!

He told me that while he was in the hospital, they gave him a morphine pump. When he needed pain relief, he need only to press a button, and morphine would go into his IV and into his blood stream. He often wanted more than the prescribed amount to relieve the pain from the 12 inch cut they had made in his side. He said, "I would push the button over and over, but it would only release the morphine after a certain amount of time had passed since the last dose had been released." In other words, the medical staff had made it possible for him to get pain relief on demand, but within reason. Obviously, if they had let him take as much as he wanted when he wanted, he could have overdosed and died.

Sometimes, I feel as though I'm not getting any help from the Lord, I'm not getting any "pain relief". Then I realize that I'm borrowing trouble, I'm fretting over something that may or may not happen. In those times, I don't need any grace, I need to re-focus. I need to stop worrying! He gives me the grace I need, when I need it. I may want grace for tomorrow, but I don't get it, not until tomorrow comes. I get the grace I need for today, for my current problem. Then tomorrow, I'll get the grace I need for that time. Day by day, moment by moment, I receive the help and strength that I need. Not a moment too soon, and not a moment too late. Right on time.

Just when life gets unbearable in the present, I cry out - I press the "pump"- and guess what? I receive the relief I need. He sends me an encouraging email or card from a friend. He allows me an up-close look at His amazing Hummingbird. He helps me to see the many blessings I've overlooked. He reminds me of the heroes of the Bible. For instance, when I feel forsaken, I remember how Hagar felt the same way after Sarah forced her to leave. She was ready to die, but God saw her and He took care of her.(Gen.21:14-19) God knows where I am, too. He will take care of me.

And in the process, I can boldly say with Paul, "His grace is sufficient!"

Friday, August 19, 2011

A Daily Prayer Schedule

I don’t know about you but, I have oftentimes found it very overwhelming to pray for the needs of each and every person in my life during my prayer time. I do think its important to spend time in prayer, but I also don’t want to be feeling like I need to rush through every person on my list, just so I can “get them in.” So, I decided to make a change that has been very helpful for me. In case it is helpful for someone else, I wanted to share it with you... All you need to do is make yourself a daily prayer schedule and pray for specific people on specific days. If there is an immediate need then, of course, you can (and should) pray for it, no matter which day you are on. But, for the general rule, keep it to a simple schedule such as this...


SUNDAY - Thanksgivings (Don’t ask for anything unless its an immediate need. Just thank God for all He has done for you.)

MONDAY - Church family (Requests mentioned in church on Sunday, etc.)

TUESDAY - My Spouse & Myself (health, marriage, jobs, decisions, etc.)

WEDNESDAY - Our children (health, behavior, attitudes, goals, spiritual growth, etc.)

THURSDAY - Our Parents & Grandparents (health, marriage, jobs, decisions, etc.)

FRIDAY - Extended Family (Siblings & their families, Cousins, Aunts, Uncles, etc.)

SATURDAY - Friends & their families

Try it for a week and see how it goes! And, I would love to hear feedback on it, if you care to share. Or, if you have found a different way to simplify and/or strengthen YOUR prayer time, please feel free to share that as well.

Monday, August 15, 2011

#3 Refine, #4 Rejuvenate, and #5 Rest

Some people are born organizers. Some are not. I think a lot of it has to do with how we are raised, but I think personalities come into play as well. Regardless of our background or our personalities, it is possible to LEARN how to keep an organized home. The 3rd SESSION of “The Five R’s for Godly Womanhood” speaks directly about this topic. Last month, us Gabby Moms reviewed the first two sessions of this bundle from Lorrie Flem. This month, we delved into the last three sessions...

I think its important to explain here that Lorrie Flem is not a regular “Suzy Homemaker,” as some may call it. Lorrie was the oldest of four children, however, she did not really have a lot of responsibility around the house. Her mother did most of the housework by herself. It wasn’t until after Lorrie was married that she realized a change needed to be made in the way she managed her home. Apparently, she and her husband were visited by police officers one night after hearing a noise in the house, and the officers thought an intruder had “destroyed” the living room. It turns out, the living room was in its normal chaotic state. This was a big eye opener for Lorrie, and she began learning how to make her home more presentable. She also had to learn how to keep it that way without much effort. In this session, Lorrie shares 7 teachings on how to manage a home.

In SESSION 4 of this “Godly Womanhood” bundle, I had to laugh when I heard Lorrie tell of a young father licking mustard off his hand only to find out it was not mustard, but a need for his baby’s diaper change! Ewwww! It makes it all the more funny when I remember a similar event that happened to my husband when HE was a new father. He was holding our baby daughter and noticed the “mustard” on his hand as well, then ran disgustingly to the bathroom to wash up after realizing what it really was. Ha ha! I love that story! At least he didn’t lick it off, like the first guy. But, to move on, this story from Lorrie was told to represent how life brings us unexpected surprises while raising kids. Then, she goes on to explain how RAISING a child is not the same as TRAINING a child, and how the number one problem that comes up in child training is inconsistency. Training children involves a commitment of our time and efforts. In this session, Lorrie touches on several areas of Biblical child training and discipline. It is all very good food for thought.

SESSION 5 lets us know that, even with the most well-behaved  children, the demands of our families can sometimes wear us down physically and spiritually. Are you weak in spirit? Do you feel as if you need a rest from life’s demands? Lorrie believes when our souls are longing for rest, we are actually longing to find solitude at God's feet. Taking a warm bath or spending a night away from home might help for a little while, but it won’t make the real issue at hand go away. Taking a bath will help to refresh our bodies on the outside, but it doesn’t refresh us on the inside. We need the Living Water to do that, and the Word of God. Instead of relying on a bath (or something else) to “wash our blues away,” Lorrie encourages us in this session to give all our stress and worry to the Lord. “Give it up in order to get it all.”

To learn more about “The Five R’s for Godly Womanhood,” or to purchase the full bundle for $24.97, visit the PRODUCT INFORMATION page of Eternal Encouragement Magazine.

And, if you didn't already know, I received The 5 R’s to Godly Womanhood as an official member of The Gabby Moms blogging program. I did not receive compensation for this post and all opinions are solely my own.

If YOU have a blog of your own, and are interested in joining the 2012 Gabby Moms team, please take a look at this APPLICATION PAGE to read more about the program and/or to apply.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Shepherd's Ministries

I remember the Handbell Team and the performance they put on at Moody Church in Chicago. I was so touched at how these adults with intellectual disabilities were serving the Lord in this way, traveling with Shepherd's Ministries in Union Grove, Wisconsin. This was the first I had heard about them.

Many years later, I had forgotten all about Shepherds, until my husband received some information in the mail about them through the church he pastored. I took a much greater interest in them at that time, due to our daughter's autism. I learned that Shepherds provides compassionate Christian care and training to adults with intellectual disabilities. My husband and I have been on their mailing list ever since, and have followed along as they have expanded their ministry to now have a small accredited college.

A couple of weeks ago, our current church, and our family, was blessed by a visit from the "Gospel Team" of Shepherd's Ministries. It was truly an inspiration to meet Al Pick and his buddy Saul. During the morning service, Saul stood up in front of the congregation and gave his testimony of how he came to know the Lord. He then recited verses to share the Gospel, and also sang an old Gaither song, "Something Beautiful," in acapella.

It was easy to see how he enjoyed being in front of people and telling others about Jesus. In fact, out of his 15 hobbies, he said his first and most favorite hobby is telling others about the Lord. It was truly a blessing to meet him and Al. People with intellectual disabilities tend to have such a wonderful example of childlike faith, and are great encouragers. And, if you make a friend of one, you have most likely made a friend for life.

Please, if you ever get the chance to head up to Union Grove, Wisconsin, I know Shepherds would be thrilled to have you stop by and see how God is working there. Al mentioned they have housing available for volunteers, if anyone is willing to come for a day or two, or even more. There are all sorts of ways to minister at Shepherds, including special music, teaching, being a spiritual mentor, maintenance and construction, prepare and lead a 30-minute chapel program, tutoring, and helping out around campus in various other ways. Of course, they are always looking for financial support as well, penpals for the residents, and so on. Give them a call and see how you might be able to make "something beautiful" happen in the lives of these special people.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

VIDEO Review: Paws & Tales - Putting Others First

There are 2 espisodes on this DVD, an approximate total of 50 minutes all together.

Episode #1 finds the two main characters, C.J. and Staci, running errands for their grandfather and meeting many obstacles along the way. They eventually need to decide what is more important - to finish all their errands on time, or to stop and help a friend in need.

Episode #2 introduces the kids' schoolmate, Tiffany, who is from a very wealthy family. She enjoys intimidating those who are less fortunate than her, and using "blackmail" to make C.J. do things he doesn't want to do. In the end, he has to once again make a choice that could potentially affect the future career of someone he loves.

These episodes had very good content in them, and my children enjoyed watching them. However, I do suggest a parent watch them WITH their children, at least for the first time around, because there were a couple of actions mentioned in episode #2 that I felt could have used a bit more clarification. For example, the idea of revenge is brought up and not completely dealt with. In the end, justice was served. However, some parents may wish to clarify that vengeance belongs to the Lord and not to us. Also, it may be important for parents to discuss what their children should do when faced with 2 decisions - one that is a wrong decision (such as cheating, by doing another student's homework), and one that could potentially cause someone else harm. This situation was also resolved, but may need a little more clarification for some children.

Overall, this new DVD is a great concept. Not only does it have two animated stories about putting others first, it also includes music videos and helpful teaching resources to print out on your computer. I haven't had a chance to print out the resources yet, but think they could be a helpful addition to the stories.

You can find this DVD and other Paws & Tales DVD's at TYNDALE HOUSE PUBLISHERS.
NOTE:  Tyndale House Publishers has provided me with a complimentary copy of this DVD for review purposes. All opinions expressed are my own.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

GUEST POST: A Healing Touch from the Lord

Today's guest blogger is another special person in my life - my mother-in-law, Sharon. Please read her story below of how God intervened in a life or death situation, and laid His healing hands upon her. Thankyou for sharing this story, Mom. I'm so glad God's plan was to spare your life back then and that your family did not have to suffer such a great loss. I am also so glad to have gotten the chance to meet you, and to have you as a part of MY life.  

A Healing Touch from the Lord
By: Sharon Stankus

During the summer of 1978, I experienced what I believe was a divine intervention from the Lord. My appendix ruptured and I did not know it at the time. It is hard for some to understand how that could happen without my knowing it. You see, I had other issues that caused severe pain at different times, so that is why I did not recognize what had happened. It was 3 days later when I knew something was "not right" and went to my doctor. I was immediately hospitalized. There, I learned about the divine intervention that had happened. My body miraculously formed a sac that caught all the fluids from the rupture, something very rare that would not normally happen to a person. That sac, I later learned, was almost the size of a football.

The surgeon said he could not do surgery because he would break that sac and release all the poison into my body. I would have to be on heavy doses of antibiotics until the sac would shrink and surgery could be safely done. I was sent home. I was to be on complete bed rest, and the only time I could leave the house was to go to the doctor’s office. This was a challenge, as I had 3 young children. The oldest one is now this blog owner’s husband.

I felt myself getting weaker, not stronger, each day. One evening, when I could hardly speak, a friend of mine called me and she knew something was wrong. She hung up and immediately called mutual friends of ours, a pastor and his wife. They called me. They knew I was so weak I could barely speak, so they said, “Just listen while we pray.” After praying, they just kept talking to me as I listened. By the time they finished talking to me, I could already feel myself getting stronger. I could sit up and talk. From that time on, I grew stronger and stronger each day. The doctor reports were encouraging, as the sac was shrinking. When the sac had shrunk to about the size of a golf ball, after about 2 months, I had the surgery.

You may be wondering how the needs of my family were taken care of at that time. I could do nothing, as the doctors were concerned the sac would rupture. Well, the ladies from our church took care of us. They cleaned the house, did laundry and brought out meals for over 3 months. (And, we attended a very small church, so these ladies had their turn often.)

If any of you reading this think that, when you take a meal to someone who is ill, you have not done much, let me assure you that you have been a real blessing to that family; and, if you think your prayers are not important, you are mistaken.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

GUEST BLOGGER: James L. McIntosh

Dr. James L. McIntosh is an Instructor and the Academic Dean at Brookes Bible Institute in St. Louis, MO. He is also my dad (whom I'm very fond of). When I recently asked him how he came to know Jesus as his Savior, this is what he said:

The evangelist’s message I can still remember. He said, among other things, “God loves you and you need to repent [turn away from] your own ways and receive His salvation.” I did...

I was 6 and a half. My mother “drug” me to church, kicking and screaming, during a series of missions meetings. After I settled down, I was listening to the speaker talk about people in Brazil, his work there with them, and how they could die in their sins and not go to heaven when they die. Someone needed to tell them of the love of Jesus and how He came to make things right between sinful man and God. Yes, I remember most of the message, even though I was so young. 

He used the "Finney" style of giving an invitation at the end of the message, which many people do not like these days. The invitation isn’t what moved me, though. It was before the singing of "Just As I Am" that I knew in my heart what I really wanted. I was the only one that left their seat to go forward. My mother tried to grab me, thinking I was being my regular ornery self. When I arrived at the front, the pastor looked down at me and asked, "What are you doing here?" I said, “I want Jesus in my heart. I don't want to go to hell. I want to be with HIM!” The pastor took me through the "Romans Road" (it still works today) - Rom 3:23; 6:23; 10:9-10. He asked, “Do you understand all that?” I said yes. He asked, “Then, what do you want?” I said, to have Jesus in my heart. He told me to pray and ask Him in. I did. He did not make it easy for me - did not dictate a prayer. After I prayed, he asked, “What just happened?” I said, “I believe in Jesus and He came in.”

There was no earth quake, lightening or any other "experience" other than the fact that I KNEW something changed. I was different. Walking home that night, I KNEW I was not the same. Now, anyone who knows me knows that I still am not perfect, but I am changed and I have never forgotten what happened that night at Southern View Chapel in Springfield, IL.

~ James L. McIntosh (still a work in progress at 67)

Click here for an interesting article about the history of “the invitation.”