Wednesday, June 27, 2012

We've Been a Family for 20 Years!

Starting with our most recent family picture and counting the years backwards...

September 2011 Family Picture

November 2009

November 2007

November 2005

February 2003

November 2000

November 1998


June 27, 1992 - Our Wedding Day
20 Years ago today!

I am thankful and blessed to have married  a man who loves me, loves our children, and loves the Lord.

"To have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, in sickness and in health, in riches or in poverty, to love, to cherish, and to honor, until death we do part, according to God's Holy ordinance."

Our Song

Monday, June 25, 2012

MINISTRY FOCUS: Children of Destiny

JACK AND REBECCA SYTSEMA are the founders of  a ministry called CHILDREN OF DESTINY.  They are both ordained Christian ministers who have been involved in international prayer ministry since 1993. Their mission statement listed on their website is this:

"Children of Destiny is a Christian ministry dedicated to bringing God’s hope, life, and restoration to families and individuals struggling with autism and related disorders through the development and promotion of effective prayer, inspirational messages, and spiritual support." 

They offer FREE resources such as:

DAILY PRAYER - One for Parents with autistic children; One for Family and Friends. You can sign up to have these prayers sent directly to your inbox.

DAILY PRAYER JOURNAL PAGES - easy to print out.

BULLETIN INSERTS and other handouts.

Be sure to check them out and, if you have a child with autism (or are a friend/family member of someone dealing with autism), sign up to AT LEAST receive the daily prayers in your inbox.

MONETARY DONATIONS to Children of Destiny are tax-deductible, and are greatly appreciated.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Great Tools for Every Christian (from Ephesians Four Ministries)

I want to share with you a website I learned about from my dad, called EPHESIANS FOUR MINISTRIES.  They provide tools for churches AND individuals who are interested in leadership, evangelism and/or spiritual growth.

Recently, I got onto the website and took a FREE SPIRITUAL GIFTS ANALYSIS by answering a simple online questionnaire. Spiritual gifts are the tools God gives Christians in order to serve HIM by ministering to others. Each Christian receives at least one gift at the moment of salvation, but other gifts can also be developed. (Personally, my two main gifts were noted to be the gifts of mercy and of service. This is consistent with other questionnaires I have taken in the past.)
As you answer the questions, there are no right or wrong answers. Just be sure to answer the questions thinking about what you are doing NOW - not thinking about what you would LIKE to be doing. Once you submit the questionnaire, results are given immediately for you to review. If you are interested, you can also purchase additional resources that will explain more about the gifts.

Speaking of spiritual gifts, even children can find out what their strongest gifts are. I purchased GOD'S SPECIAL GIFTS FOR ME (one booklet for each of our children) by Dr. Larry Gilbert. These booklets help introduce the 9 ministry-oriented gifts to children, and helps them see where ministering to others fits them best. The booklets are only $2.95 each (plus shipping), and are geared for ages 8-12. My plan is to begin using these in the coming school year, maybe sooner!

 Another FREE resource is PRIME TIME WITH GOD, a daily prayer and devotional you can receive in your inbox. Each devotional focuses on faith, work, and ministry. They are short to read, but always have a good message to share. The prayers do not always coincide specifically with the devotional, but have been wonderful reminders for me on where to keep my focus. Here are two recent examples of the prayers:

This is the day that you have made. I will rejoice and be glad in it. May I see all the good around me today. I do not want to focus on anything negative, but on what is good and pure. Please help me focus on all your blessings today, Lord. I pray that all I think, and do, and say will be positive, will encourage others, will glorify you, and will be in your will. Thank you for the power you give through your Holy Spirit, so that I might live as you want. In Jesus' name I pray, amen.

TODAY'S PRAYER 6-20-2012
Lord, Please make me a blessing. I present myself to you, a living sacrifice, for ministry to the world. I pray that I would see others through your eyes of love and concern and that I would ask myself "What would Jesus do?" Please forgive me of the times I have been selfish or apathetic, for the times I have missed out on the opportunity to minister and be a blessing. I pray for all the people in my family and community who need a blessing right now. I pray for Christians around the world who need your hand of blessing right now. Lord, you know the need. You are good, all the time. I pray that in your mercy, you will will reach out in the way you know best and meet those needs, uplift those spirits, bless those souls, for your glory. In Jesus name, amen.

You can also visit "Prime Time with God" on Facebook by clicking: HERE

I truly hope you will take advantage of these great tools, as I am seeing more and more of a need in our churches, and among our Christian circles, to remain focused on our goal for being in this world. We are not here to attend church one day a week and then forget about the Lord the rest of the week. We are not here to spend most of our time thinking about ourselves. We ARE here to serve the Lord with GLADNESS, and glorify Him in all things. These tools - the spiritual gifts resources, the prayers, the devotionals - these are all helpful in teaching us and reminding us that our days on earth are numbered and we need to be seriously thinking about where our priorities lie. I am speaking to myself here, too! No matter how stressful life becomes, we need to remember our real reason for being here. That is why I plan on utilizing these tools from Ephesians Four Ministries, and to do my best at using the gifts God has given me in ways that are pleasing to Him. I hope you will join me. 

Monday, June 18, 2012

"Cleaning House" by Kay Wills Wyma (book Review)

Youth Entitlement. It’s becoming more and more prevalent these days. What is the reason for it? Author Kay Wills Wyma believes it is due, in part, to parents who would rather do everything for their children instead of teaching them how to do it themselves. It’s the parents way of either “protecting” their children from failure, or just wanting to do things themselves because they believe it should be "done right." This, unfortunately, leads to children never learning how to learn from their mistakes, or how to become capable and responsible adults. This is what led Kay, a mother of five children ages 4 to 14, to write a new book called, “Cleaning House: A Mom’s 12-month Experiment to Rid Her Home of Youth Entitlement.”

This book isn’t specifically a “how-to” book, or a step-by-step manual that tells us exactly what to do and how to do it. It is more of a journal, of sorts, from a mother explaining what SHE did, how her kids reacted, and about the obstacles they faced. She spent an entire year teaching her kids, from the youngest to the oldest, how to do various chores, tasks, and services by choosing one thing each month to focus on. Things like:

  • Making beds and keeping clutter off the floor
  • Planning and cooking a meal, cleaning up kitchen afterwards
  • Working outdoors (planting flowers, weeding, mowing, etc.)\
  • Making income
  • Cleaning the bathrooms
  • Laundry
  • Small maintenance/repair jobs around the home
  • Hospitality
  • Working as a Team
  • Running errands
  • Service to others
  • Good manners

There are several Scripture references mentioned through-out the book. One I especially liked came from Matthew 22, and was mentioned in chapters 11 and 12: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” This, I believe, was the basic premise of the entire book - to teach our children to think of others rather than themselves. The author says in chapter 12,

“At the core of today’s youth entitlement problem is a generation of kids and young adults convinced - dare we admit, trained to believe - that the world does, in fact, revolve around them. The simple remedy: teach them to consider others ahead of themselves.” 
While I found myself to be a little bit ahead of the author in the chore-teaching areas, I still gleaned a lot of helpful ideas and insight from her. For example, taking an entire month to work on one new task sounds like a great idea. And, I really like the idea of taking time to teach each child (one-on-one) how to cook an entire meal and clean-up after themselves in the kitchen. We have done a little of this in the past, but I want to make it a more consistent thing. Doing laundry is another task I want them both to learn how to master. So, I am pretty sure we will be adding these things to our agenda this coming school year. In the meantime, there are some projects I am working on around the house this Summer, and am trying to get the kids involved as much as possible. One thing my son and I recently did was hang a tomato planter (on my birthday, of course, since I LOVE fresh tomatoes and just didn't feel up to planting an entire garden this year).

Another project was sanding and staining our picnic tables. I did the sanding myself, as the power sander really is too big and powerful for my kids to handle at this point; but my 9yo helped with the clean-up process, and at least they both saw how a do-it-yourself project can be satisfying work, as well as economical.

Overall, I enjoyed reading this book. It had a humorous tone to it while giving me helpful insights and suggestions. But, most of all, it reminded me that I am not being a "slave driver" by teaching my kids how to work and survive independently in this world.

Click here to read the first chapter of this book:

Click here to go to Kay’s MOAT blog:

NOTE: I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for review purposes only.