A New Year: Thrive 1/15

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Toddler parenting is fairly new in our household. Communication with a stubborn opinionated two-year old takes a lot of goldfish bribes, patience, deep breathing, and love. We have found a few key phrases we consistently speak to our daughter, N, in order to get our point across in a loving fashion. In the process, we have found a picture of ourselves with our Heavenly Father.
“You’re safe.”

When N falls and looks up at us, we tell her she’s safe, imitating a baseball umpire. This phrase however, refers to things much deeper than childhood scrapes and bruises. When we stumble in our faith and look up, Psalm 91:4 tells us “With his feathers he will cover you, under his wings you will find safety.” 

“Fun/No Fun.”

When an emotional power struggle rears its head, we tell N she can “obey and have fun with us OR not obey and have no fun (aka time out).” Likewise, our desires can cause a power struggle with our Father, who simply responds, “If you love me, you will keep my commands” (John 14:15). Disobedience will instead bring consequences.

“Look at me.”

When N is running full speed in her own direction and we need to get her attention, we will say “Look at me.” Sometimes we have to get on her level to disrupt her play. How many times is this me, caught up in my own desires and the Lord has to get my attention? John 8:47 says, “Whoever is of God hears the words of God.” O may I be more attentive to the messages the Lord has for me!

Even though I know it’s just a season we are passing through, I am thankful to be reminded that God’s love is sovereign, gracious, and merciful. What parallels are you seeing in your season of life that reflect the Father’s love for us?

Jennifer Perrin

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A New Year: Thrive 1/14

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a-new-year-thriveOk. Writing your testimony is difficult. Not because you don’t know what has happened in your life, but because life keeps going and doesn’t give you time to absorb half the things that happen.

I am the product of a woman that searched many religions and was raised in a semi-Catholic home and a Muslim man who is very close-minded. Needless to say, that relationship did not work well. I was however, loved very much by both parents. My father loved me so much. That love birthed his decision to show me his way of life by abducting me to the Middle East. After eleven months my mother was able to bring my back to the great state of Texas with the help of a church. My mother finally settled on this small Baptist church that helped to locate me as her church home. They needed her four-octave range in their choir and we needed stability. I grew up with the kind people of Oak Ridge Baptist Church in San Antonio. It was there where at the innocent age of nine, I felt the “tug at my heart.” I participated in See You at the Pole, GAs, and every VBS imaginable. My mother ran any and every committee that she could. We were at church on Mondays for visitation, Tuesdays for the benevolence closet, Wednesdays for business meetings and service, Thursdays because she said so, Friday for youth and children gatherings, Saturday for work days and Sundays for the Sabbath. I lived there. I feel safe in saying I was raised in the church.

I eventually went to summer camps where I fell in love with the green grass and quiet campus of the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor. I decided in sixth grade UMHB was the campus for me. I would attend there a few years later where I would continue my very strict plan of earning a degree in psychology (so that I may solve the problems of the world). During my sophomore year I was told in order to be a true therapist, I would need a master’s degree. This became my new plan. I did not however, plan on meeting the man in which my dreams were made of. Of course I had to marry him and alter my plans ever so slightly. During all this planning, I tried to be strong in the loss of my mom to colon cancer. It was not until January of 2008 that I realized my mom had given me more than I could ever plan for or achieve. She had given me a wonderful example of true faith. I changed my life focus from “I” to “Him” and have been searching and striving ever since.

I have lived an eventful life in the eyes of most, but I find it simple to the greatness I have now with my beautiful boys that keep me running, as well as the voice of God I daily long to hear. I still crave to be a great therapist for the people I serve, but I want much more to be the wife, mother and friend Christ wants me to be. I am thrilled to have our church family here, building and investing in the continuing story of my life.

Nidal Pascoe

 

A New Year: Thrive 1/13

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a-new-year-thrive“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure, buried in a field, that a man found and reburied. Then in his joy he goes and sells everything he has and buys that field.”

Matt. 13:44

Several times a year, my family embarks on a massive purge of stuff. This purge usually precedes birthdays and Christmas because we need to make room for the highly anticipated new gadgets. A few years ago, I gathered the kids together, passed out garbage sacks to everyone, and prepared myself for the occasional whine and complaint. To my surprise, my then 7 year old joyfully exclaimed how excited she was! She said she loved getting rid of things in order to make room for the new. A few hours later, I peeked in her very full bag of to-be-discarded items, and realized her excitement may have run away with her. Ironically, I had to convince her to keep a few sentimental items.

A few months later, I was reading the parable of hidden treasure in Matthew 13 and saw the simplicity of the principle through the eyes of a child. This parable indicates that when the man found the treasure, the kingdom of heaven, he realized its value was more than anything else he had. Selling his other possessions was not an act of sacrificial, obligatory obedience, but an act of joy. In fact, Romans 14:17 defines the kingdom of heaven as “righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.” The man’s former possessions were completely irrelevant in light of the beauty of this newly found treasure. In selling all in order to make room for the new, he clearly revealed what he treasured in his heart.

My house can quickly accumulate stuff, some of which might be considered valuable. In the same way, my heart tends to involuntarily hoard that which I treasure. And often times, that which I treasure would be considered by most to be beneficial and not destructive. But no gift God has given me compares to the value and worth of the kingdom of heaven, the rule of Christ in my life. Some seasons I do well with treasuring Christ above all else. Other seasons, a de-cluttering session is needed to purge that which I have begun to hold too closely. To lose these things is not a sad loss when I gain the kingdom of heaven in return.

Sara Burt

 

A New Year: Thrive 1/12

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a-new-year-thriveIt occurred to me while writing this piece that every year we make a big fuss…almost in a panic. Oh no?! It’s New Year’s Eve!! How am I going to enhance or improve in my life?

Let’s see: I’m already in church, read the Word…oh wait…only a minute on Sundays during church. (Shhh…did I say that out loud?!) I need to work on doing that everyday.

Ok, what is my New Year’s resolution?

Because I never keep the resolutions anyway, my solution is no resolution. I need to just take inventory of my life, write down what I need to do, should do, and can do.

My plate is always full: kids, relatives, work, errands…my work is never done. Sometimes I need to write a note to find the note that it seems I have lost and can’t find. Sometimes after taking care of what seems like everybody else, I seem to have lost myself.

One thing I’ve learned is a new year is just a new date. If you are serious about getting yourself together you wouldn’t wait until a new year starts. You would say the Nike logo to yourself…JUST DO IT…and move toward change.

We have all been through trials and tribulations. We have all had days when we wish we could pull the covers over our head and hide from the world, or wish we had a magic wand to make everything right.

So, I’m asking you to commit to a 21 day jump start to improving yourself and your life. Choose a devotional plan. Here’s a few examples I saw online that caught my attention: 21 day devotional plan for busy women, 21 days of powerful breakthroughs, a 21 day challenge-Made to Crave, 21 day devotional to beat depression, 21 days with the Holy Spirit, and 21 days of prayer…just to name a few.

Remember, Philippians 4:13 says,

“I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me.”

In Mark 9:23 Jesus said,

“If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.”

Finally my personal favorite from Ephesians 6:11.

“Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.”

No one is perfect, but YOU must perfect what you want in your life. Here’s to New Year’s solutions for 2017!

Trisha Williams

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A New Year: Thrive 1/11

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a-new-year-thriveThe Smallest Stone

As a child, I remember throwing rocks into our pond to see how big of a ripple it would make when it hit the water. The larger the rock I threw, the larger the ripple. This memory came to my mind the other day while I was all snuggled and cozy in my chair watching a Hallmark Christmas movie. The actress in the scene made a statement that made me pause and rewind the movie (thanks to DVR). She said,

“The smallest stone makes a ripple in the water.”

Hmmm…that statement touched me, and it got me thinking. Because of life’s hardships, trials, family, work, church, etc., sometimes I feel my stone is still sitting on the bank, and I make no ripple. I sometimes think I make no difference at all.

But whatever I may feel, the truth is, I MAKE A RIPPLE. The smallest stone makes a ripple in the water. So, I started pondering, what kind of a ripple am I making?

My prayer for this New Year is that God will use my ripple for HIS kingdom, and HIS glory, and that my life would make a positive difference in each person and circumstance that is in my path. I pray my ripple would reach the other side of the pond’s bank in lasting godly impact.

“Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”

Matthew 5:16

Becky Martin

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A New Year: Thrive 1/8

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a-new-year-thriveTherefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

2 Corinthians 5:17

It wasn’t until the very beginning of 2016 that I opened up my life to Christ. My marriage was falling apart and I was lost. I made some very big mistakes, (some that nearly tore my whole family apart) but God worked through my mistakes to bring my husband and I both closer to Him.

Through God, I have been granted a second chance.

In February, My husband and I chose to be baptized together at Taylor’s Valley! We began a new life together, placing God in the center and focusing on Him and using His Word to guide us. We have never been stronger or happier, and we have begun to see a huge change in our children, too. It’s amazing to look back over this past year and see just how much leading a godly-centered life has changed us. We have lost every friendship we had before being baptized, but have gained an entirely new family and circle of friends that are dear to our hearts.

We ended up going to a Christian marriage counselor to work through our problems and learn how to communicate again. I am so glad things didn’t end in divorce. God has spoken to both of us and He has shown us an entirely new path to walk. Watching my husband go from being an agnostic to a devout Christian man who prays and studies God’s Word, has been an amazing transition. We are happier, healthier, stronger, and still learning. So much has changed in these last 11 months! I can’t wait to see what is in store for 2017.

Amber Schaaf

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A New Year: Thrive 1/5

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a-new-year-thriveGod’s Blessing of Friendship

A friend loveth at all times. 

Proverbs 17:17 (KJV)

As 2016 is ending and 2017 beginning, I find myself thinking about friends. With social media so much a part of people’s lives, we sometimes forget to pick up the phone and call someone or even send a note of thanks or thinking of you.

Many of us have lifelong friends since childhood, college friends, and professionals we work with. Furthermore, we have neighbors. In today’s society we sometimes do not even know who lives in our neighborhood. Fortunately when our family moved to Temple, we found a wonderful neighborhood with one very special lady who lived next door to us—Beth Sheffield. She always had a smile for everyone, never met a stranger, and would go out of her way to help others. She exemplified how God wants us to treat one another.

As 2017 approaches, I hope I can be the friend to others as Beth was to me. Thirty-two years filled with precious memories of our times together encourage me to pay friendship forward. I encourage each of you to think about how you can be Christ’s example to others with kindness, love, encouragement, and time. Will you choose to be a Christ-like friend in 2017?

Dianne Arwood

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A New Year: Thrive 1/4

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a-new-year-thriveMaking Plans

We spend much time planning for tomorrow. We plan trips, set goals, and strive to “reach the mark.” Planning discussions are rampant and an integral part of our professional and personal daily lives. Yet without goals and dreams, we would wander aimlessly in both arenas of life.

James, the half-brother of Jesus tells us not to boast about tomorrow when he says:

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit”; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.

(James 4:13-14) NKJV

 Because of the context around the verse and in other scriptures, I do not think he is telling us not to make plans. James and other biblical authors urge us to acknowledge God’s role in our planning and understand His plans for us are far greater. His plans supersede any we may have for ourselves.

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.

(Jeremiah 29:11-13) NKJV

 Where is God in your planning? Do you seek His Divine Wisdom as you make your plans? Are your plans aligned with His plans for your life?

Marilyn Hoeth

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A New Year: Thrive 1/3

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a-new-year-thriveHeritage of Faithfulness

The beginning of each New Year is a chance to look back over the past year and reminisce. For me it is a great time to look back and remember how you arrived at the place you are today. One of my favorite scripture passages is found in the book of Hebrews, Chapter 11. Hebrews 11 is sometimes called the Faithfulness Hall of Fame. The chapter is filled with stories about men and women who were faithful to God’s calling: Abraham, Jacob, Moses, Rahab, David and many others are included. When I read Hebrews 11 I can’t help but marvel at the rich heritage of faithfulness we all come from. Furthermore, my lineage of faithfulness continues from the 1st Century Church all the way to my parents who introduced me to Christ. The stories of many of those generations are not recorded anywhere and those that were, lost. However, faithfulness must have continued in order to bring me where I am now.

My mother spent many weekends at the Treadway family farm, and there a strong love for Jesus was instilled in her by my great-grandmother, Granny Treadway. When my mother grew up she took over where Granny left off and poured her love for Christ into my sisters and me. All of my childhood memories of Granny are of an old fragile woman whose mind was broken by Alzheimer, but as an adult I have come to know her as a pillar of my faith.

On my other familial side, my father is a first generation believer. As a teenager, his sister decided to go to church and take her little brother with her. There, he met Jesus. As an adult he was intentional and diligent in ensuring his children grew up in church together as a family. He found older men to mentor him in godly living and child rearing. As a child, I did not always appreciate his godly discipline, but now I know he was building a foundation for me that would stand forever.

So that is my heritage of faithfulness passed down from men and women who loved God, beginning with Noah and Abraham to my parents. Now, after you read chapter 11 in Hebrews, you have to continue and read Hebrews 12:1 which says,

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.

Therefore, since Abraham, Moses, John, Paul and many unnamed others passed down their faith, I should too.

Therefore, since a grandmother in the 60’s and 70’s poured her love for Christ into a little girl, I too should pour my love of Christ into others.

Therefore, since a man chose to change forever the destiny of his family by following Jesus and teaching his children to do the same, I should too.

That is my legacy and those are my witnesses to follow. I know each of you have your own marvelous stories of faithfulness in your lives. I challenge you at the beginning of this New Year to recall your heritage of faithfulness. Then go run your race so you can take your place in the next generation’s great cloud of witnesses.

Dannyelle Turner

 

 

A New Year: Thrive 1/2

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a-new-year-thriveFear and Hope

As we begin another New Year, many uncertainties tend to cross our minds. Some can even cause great concern and fear of what is to come. Let us go to God’s Word for some encouraging words. First, what does Job have to say? He certainly faced many hard times.

“But as for me, I would seek God, and to God I would commit my cause, who does great things, and unsearchable, marvelous things without number.”

“He sets on high those who are lovely, and those who mourn are lifted to safety. He frustrates the devices of the crafty, so that their hands achieve no success.”

“But He saves the needy from the sword of their mouth and from the hand of the mighty, so the poor have hope, and injustice shut her mouth.”

(Job 5:8, 9, 11, 12, 15, 16 ESV)

Isaiah also had encouraging words appropriate for the New Year.

“But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”

(Isaiah 40:31 ESV).

May the New Year fill you with God’s hope and blessings and may you “mount up like an eagle.”

Kathleen Holland

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