Appreciation Archives

Pray for Your Pastor and His Family

If I were the devil, I would devise a scheme to destroy churches. My number one target would be to attack the pastor. How would I do that? Knowing that his family has the area of greatest vulnerability, I would seek to destroy the church by attacking his family.

Some church members might be thinking, “I would never allow Satan to use me to destroy our church.”

Think about what the Scripture says. It clearly uses the imagery of a battle to describe the challenges and issues we face due to the presence of Satan and his evil demons.

Ephesians 6:12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

All church families are under attack, but particularly pastors’ families.

Below are some ways you might be involved in battles that are taking place in your churches, and you don’t even realize it.

Many churches have unreasonable expectations of the family members of pastors. Because pastors’ children and spouses often feel the unrelenting pressure to live up to the expectations of some church members, it often creates resentment toward the church and toward their husband and father.

Many pastors put church members before their family members. The pastor’s family should have a high priority in his ministry. Some pastors get so busy ministering to others that they neglect their own families.

Many church members are critical of the pastor’s spouse. I just heard this last week, of a pastor who had to leave his church because of his wife. This pastor’s wife had been criticized and hurt so much by the women in the church that she could no longer endure to stay in the church.

Many pastors’ children rebel. The reason many pastors’ children rebel could be related to the criticisms or expectations of church members. Whatever the reason for their rebellion…this is a great distraction for pastors.

Many pastors get too involved with church members of the opposite gender. This often begins in counseling sessions and sometimes can lead to emotional and physical affairs.

Many pastors’ low pay can put stress on the pastor’s family. A church member once said, “Our church keeps our pastor’s pay low so that we can keep him humble.”

Church members do everything you can to protect your pastor’s family. Above all, pray for him and his family every day.

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Importance of Developing Godly Friends

Friendships are a gift from God. Good friends can help us grow in many different areas. Developing lasting friendships takes time and sacrifice.

Develop a friendship with a missionary, a pastor, or an evangelist: One good way to develop a lasting friendship is to open your home to God’s servants. Some of our greatest friends are missionaries. At different times in our home, my husband and I have enjoyed Korean and Filipino meals, and we have learned many different customs by hosting missionary friends. At other times, we have gained valuable advice from pastors and evangelists we’ve had in our home.

Develop a friendship with a child: Sometimes we forget how valuable our influence can be in a child’s life. Paul wrote in I Corinthians 15:33…evil communications (companionships) corrupt good manners. Today many children are growing up in families without any moral direction. When you develop a friendship with a child, you might be the very person God will use to sow seeds of faith and encouragement into the heart of a future pastor, pastor’s wife, or missionary wife.

Friendships are very important to our lives: My daughter and son-in-law moved to Texas a few years ago. After living in New England all their lives, it took some time for them to make friends in a new area. Recently, they found a church where they made some wonderful new friends. These new friends relieved their loneliness and gave them a new sense of belonging and purpose. One great thing about friends is that they can spur us onto good works. In fact, it was a good friend who inspired me to write my first book.

Someone once did a survey asking several different people of various ages to write a brief description of a good friend. Here are a few of those descriptions:

“Someone you can bare your soul to and not be afraid it will get around.”
“Someone who has ‘tactful truth’ and is not afraid to tell you.”
“One who knows you well, but still loves you.”
“A person, who understands you, appreciates your view and is loyal to you.
“Someone who enjoys being around you, accepts you for who you are, and is faithful to you when the chips are down.”

…But the definition I like the best is: A friend is a trusted confident to whom I am mutually drawn as a companion and an ally, whose love for me is not dependent on my performance, and whose influence draws me closer to God.

Consider the friendships you have developed through the years:

Casual friends: We all have casual friends. These are people that we have met at different times in our lives, but we didn’t develop lasting friendships with them.

Close Friends: Someone once said, “You only make a few close friends in your lifetime. Our close friends are the friends we have developed through ministry or work and desire to stay close to them because of a special bond we experienced. It is these friends that we feel safe enough to share our deepest feelings. Although we don’t see them often, we look forward to spending time with them.

Counseling Friends: Maybe there was a time in your life that you went through a deep trial or suffering, and you had a friend who counseled you and guided you through your crisis. This friend will always be special to you.

What Does It Take to Develop Lasting Friendships?

First, it takes time and patience: Developing lasting friendships can take months or years. Some people want to make temporary friends with people who have money, position, or power. Friendships built on those criterions will eventually dissolve through time.

Proverbs 19:4 Wealth maketh many friends; but the poor is separated from his neighbor.

Second, it takes love and sacrifice: Sacrificial love means giving up important things for things that are less important. A person who sacrifices his time and resources to develop a friendship is a person who truly loves. Sacrifices may be as small as sending an email, texting a message, or mailing card.

I read an illustration about a man who lost a good paying job. He was able to get a new job, but it paid much less than his previous one. At the end of the month, this man found it difficult to pay his bills. He reconnected with an old friend who had once been a missionary. This man’s friend, now a pastor of a growing church, realized his friend’s predicament and gave him money to pay his rent. This pastor’s generosity so moved this man, that he remembered thinking at the time, “I have just seen Jesus.”

Matthew 25:40 …Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

Third, it takes listening and acceptance: Being a good listener is the largest part of acceptance. Proverbs 18:13 tells us that we must not answer a matter before we truly listen to what others have to say. If a friend is struggling in a certain area, he should feel safe enough with a friend to voice his thoughts without negative criticism or a judgmental opinion.

A good friend can be cheaper than therapy: A judgmental attitude slams the door shut to a friend sharing a problem. It is important not to give a friend advice before hearing all the facts of his situation. I just heard a saying this week, “Unasked for advice is seldom taken.” We all have a tendency to give our “opinions” without fully listening to a person’s problem or circumstance. There are times when our friends just need someone to listen to them without judging them or giving them advice.

One of the first verses I first learned in my counseling training was: Proverbs 18:13 He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him.

John 8 gives us a wonderful example of this in the story of the woman taken in adultery. Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn thee; go and sin no more.” Jesus does not expect us to accept or approve of sin; but like Him, we must show His love to our friends without condemning them.

Fourth, it takes encouragement and spiritual edification: Friends either drive us away from the Lord or draw us into a deeper walk with Him.

God’s goal for our lives after we first get saved is our spiritual growth and sanctification. As God begins to mold and transform us, He may begin to take away our old friends because He doesn’t want us to have friends who will be a negative influence in our lives. Many times, it is our old friends who will try to hinder us in our spiritual walk with the Lord.

We need to make friends with other Christians who are godly and Spirit-filled. These are the friends who will help us grow in the Lord.

Proverbs 27:17 Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.

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Family Tradition SHMILY

SHMILY
My grandparents were married for over half a century, and played their own special game from the time they had met each other. The goal of their game was to write the word “shmily” in a surprise place for the other to find. They took turns leaving “shmily” around the house, and as soon as one of them discovered it, it was their turn to hide it once more.

They dragged “shmily” with their fingers through the sugar and flour containers to await whoever was preparing the next meal. They smeared it in the dew on the windows overlooking the patio where my grandma always fed us warm, homemade pudding w/ blue food coloring. “Shmily” was written in the steam left on the mirror after a hot shower, where it would reappear bath after bath. At one point, my grandmother even unrolled an entire roll of toilet paper to leave “shmily” on the very last sheet.

There was no end to the places “shmily” would pop up. Little notes with “shmily” scribbled hurriedly were found on dashboards, and car seats, or taped to steering wheels. The notes were stuffed inside shoes and left under pillows. “Shmily” was written in the dust upon the mantel and traced in the ashes of the fireplace. This mysterious word was as much a part of my grandparents’ house as the furniture.

It took me a long time before I was able to fully appreciate my grandparents’ game. Skepticism has kept me from believing in true love one that is pure and enduring. However, I never doubted my grandparents’ relationship. They had love down pat. It was more than their flirtatious little games; it was a way of life. Their relationship was based on a devotion and passionate affection which not everyone is lucky experience.

Grandma and Grandpa held hands every chance they could. They stole kisses as they bumped into each other in their tiny kitchen. They finished each other’s sentences and shared the daily crossword puzzle and word jumble. My grandma whispered to me about how cute my grandpa was, how handsome an old he had grown to be. She claimed that she really knew “how to pick ‘em.” Before every meal they bowed their heads and gave thanks, marveling at their blessings: a wonderful family, good fortune, and each other.

But there was a dark cloud in my grandparents’ life: my grandmother had breast cancer. The disease had first appeared ten years earlier. As always, Grandpa was with her every step of the way. He comforted her in their yellow room, painted that way so that she could always be surrounded by sunshine, even when she was too sick to go outside.

Now the cancer was again attacking her body. With the help of a cane and my grandfather’s steady hand, they went to church every morning. But my grandmother grew steadily weaker until, finally, she could not leave the house anymore. For a while, Grandpa would go to church alone, praying to God to watch over his wife. Then one day, what we all dreaded finally happened. Grandma was gone.

“Shmily.” It was scrawled in yellow on the pink ribbons of my grandmother’s funeral bouquet. As the crowd thinned and the last mourners turned to leave, my aunts, uncles, cousins and other family members came forward and gathered around Grandma one last time. Grandpa stepped up to my grandmother’s casket and, taking a shaky breath, he began to sing to her. Through his tears and grief, the song came, a deep and throaty lullaby.

Shaking with my own sorrow, I will never forget that moment. For I knew that, although I couldn’t begin to fathom the depth of their love, I had been privileged to witness its unmatched beauty.

S-H-M-I-L-Y: See How Much I Love You.

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Grandparent’s Day

Grandparents Day is the first Sunday after Labor Day. It originated with Marian McQuade, a housewife in Fayette County, West Virginia. Her primary motivation was to champion the cause of lonely elderly in nursing homes. She also hoped to persuade grandchildren to tap into the wisdom and heritage their grandparents could provide. This day is celebrated every year on the first Sunday after Labor Day.  September was chosen for the holiday to signify the “autumn years” of life. This day’s purpose is to 1. To honor grandparents 2.   To give grandparents an opportunity to show love for their children’s children. 3. To help children become aware of their grandparent’s strength, information, and guidance.  This year Grandparents Day will fall on Sunday, Sept. 11th.

GRANDPARENTS.
Few can bring the warmth
We can find in their embrace,
And little more is needed to bring love.
Than the smile on their face.
They’ve a supply of precious stories,
Yet they’ve time to wipe a tear,
Or give us reasons to make us laugh,
They grow more precious through the years.
I believe that God sent us Grandparents
As our legacy from above,
To share the moments of our life,
As extra measures of His love.
~Author Unknown.~~

GRANDPARENTS.
Grandparents bestow upon
their grandchildren
The strength and wisdom that time
And experience have given them.
Grandchildren bless their Grandparents
With a youthful vitality and innocence
That help them stay young at heart forever.
Together they create a chain of love
Linking the past with the future.
The chain may lengthen,
But it will never part….
~~Author Unknown.~~

GRANDPARENTS AND CHILDREN.
Grandparents and grandchildren,
Together they create a chain of love
Linking the past,
With the future.
The chain may lengthen,
But it will never part.
~~Author Unknown.~~

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Dear Ladies,
I just came across this article in my files and  thought you might appreciate it.

Why the Pastor’s Wife is the MOST Vulnerable Person in Your Church
Written by Joe McKeever

We’re all vulnerable…Everyone who walks in the church door can be helped or hurt in what happens during the next hour. Whether saint or sinner, preacher or pew-sitter, oldtimer or newcomer, child or geezer, everyone is vulnerable, and should be treated respectfully, faithfully, carefully.

No one in the church family is more vulnerable than the pastor’s wife.  She is the key figure in the life of the pastor and plays the biggest role in his success or failure. (Note: I am fully aware that in some churches the pastor is a woman. In such cases, what follows would hardly pertain to her household.)

And yet, many churches treat her as an unpaid employee, an uncalled assistant pastor, an always-available office volunteer, a biblical expert and a psychological whiz.

She is almost always a reliable helper as well as an under-appreciated servant.

You might not think so, but she is the most vulnerable person in the building. That is to say, she is the single most likely person to become the victim of malicious gossip, sneaky innuendo, impossible expectations and pastoral frustrations.

The pastor’s wife can be hurt in a hundred ways—through attacks on her husband, her children, herself. Her pain is magnified by one great reality: She cannot fight back.

She cannot give a certain member a piece of her mind for criticizing the pastor’s children, cannot straighten out the deacon who is making life miserable for her husband, cannot stand up to the finance committee who, once again, failed to approve a needed raise, or the building and grounds committee that postponed repair work on the pastorium.

She has to take it in silence, most of the time.

It takes the best Christian in the church to be a pastor’s wife and pull it off. And that’s the problem: In most cases, she’s pretty much the same kind of Christian as everyone else. When the enemy attacks, she bleeds.

The pastor’s wife has no say-so in how the church is run and receives no pay, yet she has a lot to do with whether her husband gets called to that church and succeeds once he arrives.

That’s why I counsel pastors to include with their resume a photo of their family. The search committee will want to see the entire family, particularly the pastor’s wife, and will try to envision whether they would “fit” in “our” church.

The pastor’s wife occupies no official position, was not the object of a church vote, and gives no regular reports to the congregation on anything. And yet, no one person in the church is more influential in making the pastor a success—or a resounding failure—than she.

She is the object of a world of expectations … She is expected to dress modestly and attractively, well enough but not overly ornate.

She is expected to be the perfect mother, raising disciplined children who are models of well-behaved offspring for the other families, to be her husband’s biggest supporter and prayer warrior, and to attend all the church functions faithfully and, of course, bring a great casserole.

Since her husband is subject to being called away from home at all hours, she is expected to understand this and have worked it out with the Lord from the time of her marriage—if not from the moment of her salvation—and to have no problem with it. If she complains about his being called out, she can expect no sympathy from the members. If she does voice her frustrations, what she hears is, “This is why we pay him the big salary,” and “Well, you married a preacher; what did you expect?”

She is expected to run her household well on the limited funds the church can pay and keep her family looking like a million bucks.

And those are just for starters!

The pastor’s children likewise suffer in silence as they share their daddy with hundreds of church members, each of whom feel they own a piece of him, and can do little about it. (But, that’s another article.)

What we owe to the pastor’s wife …

  1. We owe her the right to be herself. She is our sister in Christ and accountable to Him.

My wife was blessed to have followed pastors’ wives who cut their own path. So, in some churches, Margaret taught Sunday School and came to the woman’s missionary meetings. In other churches, she directed the drama team and ran television cameras. A few times, she held weekday jobs while raising three pretty terrific kids.

And, as far as I know, the churches were always supportive and understanding. We were blessed.

Allow the pastor’s wife to serve in whatever areas she’s gifted in. Allow her to try different things, and to grow. But do not put your expectations on her, if at all possible.

Do not try to tell her how to raise her children. Do not try to get to her husband through her with your messages or (ahem) helpful suggestions.

  1. We owe her our love and gratitude. She has a one-of-a-kind role in the congregation which makes her essential to the church’s well-being.

Recently, as I was finishing a weekend of ministry at a church in central Alabama, and about to drive the 300 miles back home, a member said, “Please thank your wife for sharing you with us this weekend. I know your leaving is hard on her.”

How sensitive—and how true, I thought. That person had no idea that my wife underwent surgery two weeks earlier and I had been her nurse ever since, and that in my absence, my son and his family were taking care of her, and that I was now about to rush home to relieve them.

Church members have no clue—and no way of knowing—regarding the pressures inside the pastor’s family, and should not investigate to find out.

What they should do is love the wife and children and show them appreciation at every opportunity.

  1. We owe her our love and prayers. While the Father alone knows her heart, the pastor may be the only human who knows her burdens.

Pray for her by name on a regular basis. Then, leave it to the Lord to answer those prayers however He chooses.

If we believe that the Living God is our Lord and Savior and that He hears our prayers, we should be lifting to Him these whose lives are given in service for Him.

Ask the Father for His protection upon the pastor’s wife and children—for their health, for their safety from all harm, and for Him to shield them from evil people.

Pray for His provisions for all their needs, and for the church to do well in providing for them.

Pray for the pastor’s relationship with his wife. If their private life is healthy, the congregation’s shepherd is far better prepared for everything he will be asked to do.

  1. We owe her our responsible care. What does she need?

Do they need a babysitter for a date night? Do they need some finances for an upcoming trip? If they are attending the state assembly or the annual meeting of the denomination, are the funds provided by the church budget adequate or do they need more? Is the wife going with the pastor? (She should be encouraged to do so, if possible.)

Ask the Holy Spirit what the pastor’s wife (and/or the pastor’s entire family) needs, and if it’s something you can do, do it. If it’s too huge, rally the troops.

  1. We owe it to the pastor and his wife to speak up. Sometimes, they need a friend to take their side.

If your pastor’s wife has a ministry in the church, look for people to criticize her for a) dominating others, b) neglecting her home, or c) running the whole show. To some, she cannot do anything right.

You be the one to voice appreciation for her talents and abilities, her love for the Lord and her particular skills that make this ministry work.

Imagine yourself standing in a church business meeting to mention something the pastor’s wife did that blessed someone, that made a difference, that glorified the Lord.

Imagine yourself planning in advance what you will say, asking the moderator (who is frequently the pastor) for a moment for “a personal privilege,” without telling him in advance.

And, imagine yourself informing a couple of your best friends what you are planning to do, so they can be prepared to stand up “spontaneously” and begin the ovation. (Hey, sometimes our people have to be taught to do these things!)

The typical reaction most church members give when someone is criticizing the pastor’s wife is silence. But you speak up. Take up for her.

Praise God for her willingness to get involved, to not sit at home in silence, but to support her husband and bless the church.

  1. We owe them protection for the pastor’s off-days and vacations.

After my third pastorate, I joined the staff of the great First Baptist Church of Jackson, Mississippi, and quickly made an outstanding discovery. The personnel policies stipulated that the church office would be closed on Saturdays and the ministers were expected to enjoy the day with their families.

Furthermore, when the church gave a minister several weeks of vacation, it was understood at least two full weeks of it would be spent with the family in rest and recreation and not in ministry somewhere. As one who took off-days reluctantly and would not allow myself to relax and rest during vacations, I needed this to be spelled out in official policy.

When a pastor is being interviewed for the position and when he is new, he should make plain that his off-days are sacred. The ministerial and office staffs can see that he is protected.

The lay leadership can make sure the congregation knows this time is just as holy to the Lord as the time he spends in the office, the hospitals or even the pulpit.

  1. We owe them the same thing we owe the Lord: faithful obedience to Christ.

Pastors will tell you in a heartbeat that the best gift anyone can give them is just to live the Christian life faithfully.

When our members do that—when they live like Jesus and strive to know Him better, to love one another, to pray and give and serve—ten thousand problems in relationships disappear.

Finally, a word to the pastor’s wife …

It’s my observation that most wives of ministers feel inadequate. They want to do the right thing, to manage their households well and support their husbands, keep a clean house, sometimes accompany him on his ministries, and such, but there are only so many hours in a day and so much strength in this young woman. She feels guilty for being tired, and worries that she is inadequate.

The Apostle Paul may have had pastors’ wives in mind when he said, “Not that we are adequate to think anything of ourselves, but our adequacy is of God” (2 Corinthians 3:5).

We are inadequate. None of us is worthy or capable of this incredible calling from God.

We must abide in Him or nothing about our lives will go right.

One thing more, pastor’s wife: Find other wives of ministers and encourage them. The young ones in particular have a hard time of it, with the children, the young husband, the demanding congregation and sometimes, Lord help us, even an outside job.

Invite a couple of these women for tea or coffee. Have no agenda other than getting to know one another.

See what happens.

After five years as Director of Missions for the 100 Southern Baptist churches of metro New Orleans, Joe retired on June 1, 2009. These days, he has an office at the First Baptist Church of Kenner where he’s working on three books, and he’s trying to accept every speaking/preaching invitation that comes his way. He loves to do revivals, prayer conferences, deacon training, leadership banquets, and such. Usually, he’s working on some cartooning project for the denomination or some agency.

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• Come in early and prepare the pastor’s office for him by turning on his lights, setting the temperature, preparing FYI sticky notes and placing them his desk.
• Make sure his office is stocked with items he uses daily. (paper paper, Kleenexes, pens, paper clips, staples, bottled water, coffee, creamer, sugar, etc.)
• Keep counseling books together. If the pastor asks you to find a certain book before a counseling session, you will be able to find it quickly.
• Never ask the pastor to do something that you can do. (making or receiving phone calls, receiving and sorting mail, preventing  interruptions and attending to trivial requests, hosting unexpected guests, etc.)
• Be careful never to isolate your pastor on very important matters. Ask God to give you discernment about ways of protecting him without becoming bossy with others and isolating him from his ministry.
• Don’t waste your pastor’s time with too much conversation and giving him too many unnecessary details.
• Never come across with a know-it-all or prideful attitude.
• Never give him negative information before his messages.
• At the end of the day, clean your desk, clean office floors, empty trash in his office and yours.
• Be flexible concerning your pastor’s desires. Although you might have your day planned, he might want you to do something completely different.

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Teacher Appreciation Day

Consider having a special day to promote attendance by recognizing all teachers. (Public school, Christian school, University, etc) You could plan this day for the spring or fall.

• Announce two or three weeks in advance that the church will have a Teacher-Appreciation Sunday.
• Encourage everyone to invite a teacher for that day.
• On the special day, have all the visiting teachers sit in a reserved section. (The person who invites a teacher could sit in that section with him)
• Pastor could speak briefly about the appreciation the church has for the teachers and how difficult their jobs might be.
• Have each teacher stand, give his name and the department and class he teaches. As the teacher stands, have someone ready to present the teacher with a wrapped gift. (Gifts should be of a spiritual benefit to teachers such as a Bible, a one-volume commentary of the Bible, a Bible dictionary, or a picture with a spiritual theme)
• Pastor could then offer a prayer of dedication and thanksgiving for all the teachers.

Quotes about Teachers

Matthew 18:5 And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me.

A great teacher is a great artist; his medium is not canvas, but the human soul.

A Good Teacher is like a candle; it consumes itself to light the way for others.

The dream begins with a teacher who believes in you, who tugs and pushes and leads you to the next plateau, sometimes poking you with a sharp stick called truth.     ~Dan Rather

One looks back with appreciation to the brilliant teachers, but with gratitude to those who touched our human feelings.

The mediocre teacher tells.
The good teacher explains.
The superior teacher demonstrates.
The great teacher inspires.    ~ William A. Ward

One hundred years from now, it will not matter what my bank account was, the sort of house I lived in, or the kind of car I drove. But the world may be different because I was important in the life of a child.    ~ Forest Witcraft

When God created teachers, He gave us special friends to help us understand His world and truly comprehend the beauty and the wonder of everything we see, and become a better person with each discovery.

God understood our thirst for knowledge, and our need to be led by someone wiser;  He needed a heart of compassion, of encouragement and patience; Someone who would accept the challenge regardless of the opposition; Someone who could see potential and believe in the best in others… So He made teachers     ~ Unknown

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Ways Pastors’ Wives Can Show Their Churches Love

I just came across  Sandra Peoples’ blog, Living and Loving My Plan B Life. I would encourage you to check out her site! She has some great articles. The following is an article she wrote on October 16, 2012.

A pastor’s wife can often be her husband’s best asset or his biggest hindrance in ministry. She might see the church as her enemy–the job takes him away from her, their children, and their home. All plans are tentative, depending on what needs arise in the congregation. When pastors’ wives stop seeing themselves in a battle for his attention, they can begin partner with their husbands in ministry. Like Priscilla and Aquila, they work together to disciple and minister to others.

Here are 30 practical ways pastors’ wives can show their churches some love:
1. Pray for members specifically and often.
2. Smile, a lot.
3. Serve the church with your gifts and talents.
4. Be a willing hostess.
5. Show and tell your children’s Sunday school teachers and youth leaders how much you appreciate them.
6. Don’t always be the last one to pick up your kids from their classes or child care.
7. Don’t take the best parking spot.
8. Don’t expect youth to baby-sit for free.
9. Write cards, letters, and/or emails to members.
10. Keep confidential matters confidential.
11. You can’t do all things for all people, but be careful not to just do some things for some people.
12. Do not participate in gossip.
13. Respect your husband as the head of your family and the leader of your church.
14. Spare your friends in the church the details of your marriage, find other women to share with who are not in your church.
15. Be real about your life, family, and weaknesses.
16. Keep your home tidy (I’m not saying immaculate) for visitors.
17. Give generously of your time, money, and possessions.
18. Be visible and approachable around church.
19. Realize that some of the pressure you put on yourself is just that- self-inflicted, and not from the church.
20. Take time to feed yourself spiritually- grow in the spiritual disciplines of prayer, bible study, and worship.
21. Don’t take a job or position just because if you don’t no one else will, allow others to step up and use their gifts.
22. Get to know women in different life stages from your own and learn from them.
23. Be willing to accompany your husband on visits and in meetings so he is not alone with a woman.
24. Know your weakness and try to strengthen them. For example, read a book on counseling (like Women Helping Women by Fitzpatrick and Cornish) or hospitality.
25. Make your husband a better preacher by giving constructive suggestions at the appropriate time.
26. Keep yourself healthy.
27. Forgive and forget.
28. Keep frozen cookie dough in the freezer to bake when some one stops by the house.
29. Take care of your appearance.
30. Serve more than you expect to be served.

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Project for My Last Class-Give 3 Smiles

An Unusual Breakfast at McDonalds:

 I am a mother of three and have recently completed my college degree. The last class I had to take was Sociology. The teacher was absolutely inspiring. Her last project of the term was called, ‘Smile.’ The class was asked to go out and smile at three people and document their reactions. I am a very friendly person and always smile at everyone and say hello anyway. So, literally, I thought this would be a piece of cake.

Soon after we were assigned the project, my husband, youngest son, and I went out to McDonald’s one crisp March morning. It was just our way of sharing special playtime with our son. We were standing in line, waiting to be served, when all of a sudden everyone around us began to back away, and then even my husband did. I did not move an inch ….. An overwhelming feeling of panic welled up inside of me as I turned to see why they had moved. As I turned around I smelled a horrible ‘dirty body’ smell, and there standing behind me were two poor homeless men. As I looked down at the short gentleman, close to me, he was ‘smiling.’ His beautiful sky blue eyes were full of God’s Light as he searched for acceptance He said, ‘Good day’ as he counted the few coins he had been clutching. The second man fumbled with his hands as he stood behind his friend. I realized the second man was mentally challenged and the blue-eyed gentleman was his salvation. I held my tears as I stood there with them. The young lady at the counter asked him what they wanted. He said, ‘Coffee is all Miss’ because that was all they could afford.  (If they wanted to sit in the restaurant and warm up, they had to buy something.  He just wanted to be warm.) Then I really felt it – the compulsion was so great I almost reached out and embraced the little man with the blue eyes. That is when I noticed all eyes in the restaurant were set on me, judging my every action. I smiled and asked the young lady behind the counter to give me two more breakfast meals on a separate tray. I then walked around the corner to the table that the men had chosen as a resting spot. I put the tray on the table and laid my hand on the blue-eyed gentleman’s cold hand.

He looked up at me, with tears in his eyes, and said, ‘Thank you.’ I leaned over, began to pat his hand and said, ‘I did not do this for you. God is here working through me to give you hope.’ I started to cry as I walked away to join my husband and son ….when I sat down my husband smiled at me and said, ‘That is why God gave you to me, Honey, to give me hope.’ We held hands for a moment and at that time, we knew that only because of the Grace that we had been given were we able to give.  That day showed me the pure Light of God’s sweet love.

I returned to college, on the last evening of class, with this story in hand. I turned in ‘my project’ and the instructor read it. Then she looked up at me and said,  ‘Can I share this?’ I slowly nodded. She got the attention of the class began to read it aloud. I suddenly realized that, in my own way, I had touched the people at McDonald’s, my son, the instructor, and every soul that shared the classroom on the last night I spent as a college student. I graduated with one of the biggest lessons that I would ever learn.   

That lesson was UNCONDITIONAL ACCEPTANCE. Love and compassion are sent to each and every person. We all must learn to LOVE PEOPLE AND USE THINGS – NOT LOVE THINGS AND USE PEOPLE.   Many people will walk in and out of our lives, but only true friends will leave their footprints in our hearts.

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When I receive a thank-you note from a child, it makes me respect his parents even more for taking the time to teach that child to be thankful.   It is never too early to teach  a child to write a thank-you note.

For many years, my mother sent each of her children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren a small monetary gift  in cards for their birthdays and in Christmas cards. Because the amounts were very small, none of the children bothered to send her thank-you notes. In my mother’s later years, she lost her sight, and she could no longer send those cards. I  recently was visiting with my mother,  and she shared with me that my granddaughter had sent her a Christmas card, and in that Christmas card, my granddaughter thanked my mother for all those years that she had sent her birthday and Christmas cards. That small expression of thankfulness from my my granddaughter was a real encouragement to my mother.

I read an illustration of a woman who received a sweater from her aunt. This woman failed to send her aunt a quick thank-you note as soon as she received the sweater. Since the woman was somewhat of a perfectionist and wanted to write a perfect note, she postponed writing it. As the weeks passed, she began to worry about how to word her late thank-you. She began to think, “What will my aunt think of me for not writing sooner?” By  postponing writing the thank-you note to her aunt, she felt guilty and dreaded writing it.

Writing thank-you notes  does not have to be difficult. Sometimes we put off writing them, because we do not know what to say. Our words do not need to sound formal,  but they should express our feelings of thankfulness.  Here are a few tips to remember when writing  a quick thank-you note.

• Keep a supply of paper, cards, postcards, and envelopes near your desk.

• Hand write thank-you notes unless your handwriting is illegible.

•  Send a thank-you to someone who does something nice for you such as treating you to a meal or taking you to the airport.

• Send thank-you notes within two weeks. Even if the note is late, always attempt to send one.

• Thank-you notes do not have to be long but they should be sincere, specific, concise, clear, and positive.

• Always mention the gift and your plan to use it.

• Teach children as soon as they can write to send thank-you notes for gifts.

Always send thank-you notes for wedding gifts. (Try to send within three months)

• If someone mails you a gift, mail a thank-you within two to three days. The sender will want to know that their gift arrived safely.

• If you receive flowers of condolences after a death, always send a thank-you.

• If you receive a birthday, Christmas, or shower gift, send a thank-you within two or three days.

• Send a thank-you to someone who helps, provides food, or gives you a gift during an illness.

• When you stay overnight in a home or a mission’s apartment, leave a thank-you note in the home or apartment before you leave.

• To thank good friends or close family members after you have stayed in their home or enjoyed a nice meal, you can give a thank-you phone call or email, but it is always good to send a card.

• Leave a small gift with a thank-you note if you stay with family or friends more than one night.

• Consider sending informal cyber thank-you cards with personal notes. Although if you receive a beautiful gift with a hand-written letter, do not send a quick e-mail; respond with a nice handwritten thank-you.

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