Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Doing It Right

"Marriage should be honored by all..."
Hebrews 13:4

We had the truly distinct privilege of celebrating the marriage of two wonderful friends, Jody and Craig, on Saturday, July 26th. Jim and Craig have been friends for the better part of two decades, and Jim was honored to be one of Craig's groomsmen. Craig was one of Jim's groomsmen 16 years ago when we were married. Billy (Craig's Best Man), Craig and Jim have a special bond of friendship and share a deep love for each other as brothers in Christ. Here are Jim, Craig and Billy at the rehearsal dinner Friday evening.

One thing so special about Jody and Craig's blessed union of marriage is that it is a testimony of them individually and then together waiting on the Lord. Jody and Craig lived their single lives in such a way that served and honored the Lord. They prayerfully entered this relationship and followed God's perfect leading.

As our treasure of a friend, Pastor Jeff Black, prayed at the reception, "Thank you God for Your perfect plan for Craig and Jody. It was a LONG plan." Everyone chuckled at that part of Jeff's prayer. Indeed, it was a LONG plan from our perspectives. You see, Jody is thirty-something and Craig is forty-something. However, this was God's perfect timing. "But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: with the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day." 2 Peter 3:8

The heartfelt rejoicing and deep thankfulness to the Lord as we shared in the celebration of Jody and Craig's marriage was so meaningful knowing that these two siblings in Christ did it right. They honored the Lord. They prayed. They waited. They obeyed. We honor them today, and we continue to rejoice in God's goodness to them.

This wedding ceremony was truly special and meaningful because of the way Jody and Craig have lived their lives before the Lord. And the reception was beyond fun! Hearty laughs were had by all. It was a joy to spend time with old friends, nourish relationships with long-time friends, and make some new friends, too. Jim and I enjoyed a few dances together, which was delightful. The day went much too quickly...after waiting all this time! Here are a few photographic memories. Enjoy!

Craig and Jody, we rejoice with you in God's goodness, faithfulness and provision. We will continually lift you up to Him in prayer. You have blessed many and been a witness of His truth to more! May He continue to bless you richly. We love you!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

A Cup of Cold Water

"And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is My disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward." Matthew 10:42 (NIV)

We are in the midst of a fiendish heat wave here in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Over a week of temperatures above 90 degrees. Local news reporters are telling us that the air quality is so poor, we should stay indoors in the air conditioning. For our family, if we are not swimming, we have indeed been staying indoors in the welcomed synthetic climate.

The other evening after dinner, I sat out on our front porch while Joshua and Gabrielle played in our yard contently with some of their neighborhood friends. The air was still rather oppressive that time of day, but it had eased up just a touch and we all wanted to get outside.

A distinguished looking man with a friendly countenance walked at a purposeful pace down the sidewalk. Quickly observing an aide assisting him with campaign literature, I knew he must be a hopeful politician running for a government office.

As he strode up our driveway and reached out his hand to shake mine, it was clear that his body was struggling with the stifling heat. His brow was glistening with large beads of sweat. His breathing was slightly labored. His once perfectly-ironed shirt was now soaked with perspiration.

His efficient greeting was an effort to politely keep cadence so he could complete his neighborhood campaign and find necessary relief from the heat. As he introduced himself to me, he handed me his literature and asked me to consider voting for him in the autumn elections. With empathy, I had the same efficiency in sincere decorum and kept him moving along toward toward his new goal of air conditioning. I told him with goodwill and brevity that my husband and I would read his information and prayerfully consider voting for him.

As he thanked me, I said "God bless you". For a moment, as if pleasantly surprised by the blessing, he paused his pace, looked me in the eyes and thanked me again.

All the children had kept playing during this brief encounter, but I knew Joshua was taking notice. As the man was walking down our driveway toward our neighbor's home, Joshua said, "Mommy, that man and his helper look very hot. I was just thinking I would like to give them some cold water. He has wet spots all over his shirt, and cold water would help him."

My heart rejoiced in Joshua's sensitive and responsive heart. He genuinely cared and discerned the condition and needs of our unexpected callers. He and his friend ran inside and got two large bottles of cold water. They dashed across our yard, met the visitors on our neighbor's porch and cheerfully handed them the bottles of cold water.

I prayed quietly that these two precious souls would see the love and gentleness of Christ through the kindness of a 7-year old boy and his friend who gave them a cup of cold water.

Just a few hours earlier that day as I was listening to Christian radio, the pastor (who happens to be Jim's cousin,
Bobby Guaglione from Calvary Chapel of Delaware County) was teaching from Mark 9:41, "I tell you the truth, anyone who gives a cup of water in My Name because you belong to Christ will certainly not lose his reward." I was amazed and humbled how God allowed me to see our son living out those exact truths from God's Word that evening.

Joshua's reward was a personal treasure of joy in his heart between himself and our Heavenly Father. I could see the quiet contentment on Joshua's face as the waving man rounded the corner, each step getting closer to his respite from the heat.

"He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit." Jeremiah 17:8 (NIV) We pray our children are always those vibrantly healthy trees, whose roots are planted firmly in the Living Water. May He cause their leaves to always be green, even in the heat, and may their lives bear fruit naturally because they abide in Him.

We pray our visitor was refreshed in the Lord during those brief moments on Valley View Way and by that cup of cold water. Our hearts were refreshed in God's goodness. "He who refreshes others will himself be refreshed." Proverbs 11:25 (NIV)

Joshua had just served our Lord and King a cool cup of water with a pure heart. He was walking in the truth of God's Word. There is no greater joy indeed.

"I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you did for Me." Matthew 25:40 (NIV)

Monday, July 21, 2008

Planting Seeds of Purity in Young Hearts

"How can a young man keep his way pure?
By living according to Your word."
Psalm 119:9

Several months back, the Lord put on our hearts to gather a small group of our children's friends this summer for a few "Play Dates With a Purpose". We invited the parents to stay for these story time play dates as well.

Jim and I kept this in our prayers for months and did feel the Lord leading us to do this. This was confirmed rather loudly when we were on our family vacation at Camp of The Woods and the daily seminar speaker (Pastor Kelly Brady) was speaking on teaching children about purity. When we had made our reservations many months ago for camp, we had no idea this was the seminar speaker's topic...but God did! It always amazes us how He goes ahead and prepares for His children!

Planting seeds of purity in children's hearts is a continual labor of love for parents. As our seminar speaker said, "It is an ongoing process, not a one-time project."

Prayerfully sewing God's Word into children's hearts is the Christian parent's most valuable investment of love, care and time. These little book studies and play dates with a purpose help inspire and continue conversations between parents and children at home, where the real labors of love happen at a marathon-paced tempo throughout childhood and young adulthood.
The Princesses (the girls group) and the Squires (the boys group) will gather here a couple more times this summer (on different evenings). What a privilege and blessing to come together with other parents as we desire to instruct our children in the ways of the Lord. We are totally dependent on Him! God is entirely good!
We invite you to click on the links above and visit Jennie Bishop's site for more information on these books that help you plant seeds of purity in young hearts.
May His Name be lifted up!
"With sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord."
Colossians 3:22

Thursday, July 17, 2008

A Warm Welcome (and a Faux-Pa)!

"You are welcome at my house."
Judges 19:20

Oh, my. I have committed a major "Blogging Etiquette Faux-Pa"! It has only taken me a little over a week for this to dawn on me, but I wanted to make it right nonetheless. (Thank you to my very experienced bloggy friends who led me quietly by example!)

I'd like to think I have a generous measure of social graces and decorum. However, blogging etiquette is rather new to me, so I beg your forgiveness for this faux-pa. The blogging world is a place we once vowed we would not take residence, but we are now comfortably enjoying the fellowship and fun here. We do, however, still have to familiarize ourselves more with blogging etiquette!

A tardy but VERY WARM WELCOME to all of the visitors from Rachel Olsen's blog post of July 8th. Thank you, Rachel, for sweetly inviting your bloggy friends to come by here for a visit. Red-faced that we did not welcome you all in a timely and hospitable manner before, our family sincerely welcomes you now to "Joy in the Truth". Realizing that most of Rachel's visitors have come and gone (without a warm welcome), I am shaking my head at myself in embarrassment. I certainly have not been the "hostess with the mostess"!

Please know our door is wide open for you, and we bid you gracious greetings from our front porch. Come and sit. Stay as long as you would like! Would you care for some lemonade?

For those of you stopping by on your own, Rachel shared a testimony on her July 8th blog post giving glory to God about how He gave her the desire of her heart. He prepared ahead to bless her with a little detail wrapped up just for her. I love when God shows Himself in the very details of our lives, don't you? His love is boundless and unfailing. His attention to detail is unmatched and eternally meaningful.

I share this story with you to bring glory to God as well. I share it to encourage you to listen for and obey His still, small voice.

I was reading yesterday on Micca Campbell's blog about how a surrendered life truly brings glory to God. It causes us to do what we can't do on our own. He works in ways and does things in our lives that would be impossible without Him. Totally dependent on God, only He can get the glory. When He is in the details and works supernaturally, people have no choice but to give Him the glory. It's for the sake of His name. He says in His Word, "For my own sake, for my own sake I do this...I will not yield my glory to another." (Isaiah 48:11 NIV)

For me, Rachel's testimony of how He cared for a detail in her life was quite moving and personal. I had no idea at the time that He was using me, a cracked but willing vessel who desires to serve and honor Him, to bless her and show her His love and provision for her.

Through Rachel's sharing of this story, He spoke personally to the depths of my heart and confirmed for me again that indeed "His sheep hear His voice" (see John 10:27).

Sometimes we are not sure if we are hearing His voice. Sometimes we believe we are hearing His voice, but the thing He is asking us to do seems inconsequential. Listen for His voice. Trust and obey. He will do amazing things in the details of life for His glory and purposes!

Rachel's story is a powerful example. Sit back, take a sip and enjoy your lemonade as you read her story.

Let His praise and testimony be forever on your lips. Tell of His mighty works in the details of your life.

"Come and see what God has done,

how awesome His works in man's behalf!"

Psalm 66:5

We'd love for you to share a "detail testimony" in your life in which God has shown you His amazing love, care, provision and grace. Tell of His mighty works! Shout it out!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Lips, Love and Whole Wheat Linguine

"I will heal him; I will guide him and restore comfort to him, creating praise on the LIPS..." Isaiah 57:18-19

"Plastic surgeon? need to see a plastic surgeon?" I had to chuckle when Jimmy told me this. Usually when you hear "plastic surgeon" the thought is elective surgery attached to vanity. However, this was necessary surgery. You see, months back a tiny growth started on Jim's lip. It had now blossomed into a full-blown "hemangioma" (ends of blood vessels breaking through the skin), which not only looked unpleasant, but was a real problem as it would just start bleeding at any time and for hours straight sometimes.

Our primary physician referred Jim to a plastic surgeon for removal of the hemangioma, and Jim saw the surgeon on Thursday 7/10 for a consultation. Being that Jim is in his friend's wedding on 7/26, the plastic surgeon (who is a friend of groom's brother-in-law, who is our primary physician...are you following?) initiated special arrangements for Jim to have surgery 48 hours later on Saturday 7/12. This would give Jim's lip 2 weeks to heal before Craig's wedding. Jim unexpectedly, but thankfully, went into pre-op mode and had to be at the hospital part of Friday for an unusual Saturday-scheduled surgery.

We don't want to dramatize this experience as we are very aware that this is "small potatoes" in the scheme of health and life issues, but anytime you hear the words "anesthesia and surgery", you feel a little unsettled. God was so good, and we felt the prayers of family and friends. The surgeon and his staff were wonderful. As I held Jim's hand tightly before the team of doctors took him to the operating room, they promised me they would take care of Jim's handsome face. And they did. In the recovery room after surgery, we held hands together in a thankful prayer to the Lord. We also had an opportunity to share our faith the nurse.

We arrived at the hospital Saturday morning at 9:30 AM and were driving back out of the hospital at noon! Joshua was with Aunt Anne, and Gabrielle was with Aunt Tina. The kids were both enjoying special time with their aunts, and we were out of the hospital much sooner than expected. Jim hadn't eaten since Friday evening and, although groggy and sore, he was hungry. He wanted to use a gift card he had received to The Olive Garden, so we were delighted to have a serendipitous lunch date.

Jim enjoyed Parmesan-crusted tilapia with a side of veggies over whole wheat LINGUINE, while I had the mixed grill (yum!). It was such a treat to have a quiet afternoon lunch together, just the two of us. We talked and laughed (although Jim could not smile without some pain) and just lingered over our lunch together.

Jim's plastic surgery on his lip served to be another occasion for us to express our intrinsic LOVE for one another. Health concerns always remind us of the fragility and preciousness of life. We paused from the busyness of life. We prayed together, gave thanks together, loved on each other intently and went to our God together in trust. We looked into into each other's eyes with unspoken but understood emotions.

While Jim was discussing the surgery options with me after his initial consultation on Thursday, he asked me, "Will it be OK with you if I have a little scar?" I told him honestly it didn't matter about the scars, what mattered was his health, wellness and satisfaction. As long as he was well, I wouldn't even notice the scar. When I look at him, I look into his eyes and see his heart. Honey, I love you. Lips and all!

"Because Your love is better than life, my lips will glorify You."
Psalm 63:3

Friday, July 11, 2008

Lemonade and Laughter

"He who refreshes others will himself be refreshed."
Proverbs 11:25

Refreshed indeed! What a fun day we had yesterday! Joshua and Gabrielle had their first Lemonade Stand. They had been asking for days to do this, and yesterday was the big day! It was such a joy to help them prepare and teach them how to honor God with our work/business through this nostalgic and classic summer-time activity.

First, we went to Tanner's to buy fresh lemons (to go in the Country Time mixed lemonade we made together). Then, we went to the Dollar Tree, and they purchased poster board and pitchers. At home, they worked together to make signs, count out cups, fill the ice bucket and set up the table.

For them to earn "start up" business money, they served our neighbors. Yesterday was waste removal day in our neighborhood, so there were empty trashcans at the bottom of our neighbors' driveways. For each trashcan the kids took up from the curb to the neighbors' garages, they earned a quarter from daddy and mommy. In all, they earned 12 quarters to start their business. (Usually, we try to take up the neighbors trashcans just to be good neighbors, but yesterday they earned money to do it.)

Before we began, I asked them to which church or ministry did they want to tithe from the profits of their lemonade stand. After discussing a few choices, they decided to give of their first fruits to a ministry that helps orphans in Africa. Click here for more information: African Christians Fellowship International.

Poised under a great shade tree, they were ready to begin! I silently prayed, "Lord, please bless them by having them each sell at least one cup of lemonade. Fill their hearts with joy for selling just one cup each." (I had visions of me as a little girl with my next door neighbor, Leah, as we had lemonade stands and rarely sold anything!)

Well, God answered this mommy's prayer in abundance. Not only did they sell dozens of cups of lemonade to landscapers, joggers, neighbors, family and became a day of fun for our neighborhood friends! It was exceedingly more than we could ask or imagine! A simple pleasure multiplied over and over.
Our first customers were Mrs. Lynn Rooney and Riley Rooney (their pooch).

How sweet was this!?!? The ice cream man stopped two times to buy lemonade! He said, "I'll always stop to buy lemonade from my customers."

This became a neighborhood event! Josh and Brie's neighborhood friends joined in with such enthusiasm, great marketing ideas, selling strategies and desire to become sales associates! We pulled out art supplies, and our garage floor became the advertising department. Here is a picture of the team! Thanks, Katie, Ryan, Johnny, Joshua, Gabrielle, Matt and Ethan!

"Now, we ask you brothers, to respect those who work hard among you...Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other."1 Th. 5:12-13

A day of laughter and lemonade! We'll do it again soon and often!

Thanks for stopping by and visiting us here! We'll stop by to see you soon, too!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Further Still With God

"And He went on a little further,
and fell on His face, and prayed..."
Matthew 26:39 (KJV)

For God's glory and because of His grace and goodness,
we pray you are blessed and encouraged because of Him.
This devotion was published today at the P31 Website.
Devotion - "Further Still With God" by Sharon Sloan

Also, I am tickled and thrilled that Proverbs 31 Ministry
is now offering the devotion book
"Jesus Calling" by Sarah Young as a resource!
They are also carrying "Dear Jesus" by Sarah Young.

"Jesus Calling" is my favorite devotion book!
Sarah Young is a missionary and her writings and heart
lead you straight into God's Word!
To me, that is the mark and requirement of an excellent devotional.

My dear friend and big sister in Jesus, Nancy Cella,
introduced me to "Jesus Calling" in April 2007.
Since then, I have given dozens of these devotionals
to family and friends. Pass His Word on!
If you are looking for a great devotional,
I recommend either of these offerings by Sarah Young!
Also, the devotion mentions "Reflecting His Image"
by KP Yohannan of Gospel for Asia.
This is another favorite book!
Be refreshed in Him and washed in His Word!

Saturday, July 5, 2008

The Work of His Hands

"The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of His hands."
Psalm 19:1

Last night, July 4th, was our last evening at Camp of The Woods in the Adirondacks of New York State. Look at this gorgeous sunset fashioned by our Creator! The work of His hands! His colors are amazing! The skies were simply breathtaking. The reflection on Lake Pleasant made it a double delight! ( four created beings are blocking the beautiful reflection on Lake Pleasant!)

We had a truly wonderful, refreshing, peaceful and fun week at COTW. We are in "re-entry" mode this afternoon. We're just settling back in and are looking forward to reconnecting with family and friends here.

We couldn't wait to share this sunset with you! The heavens certainly do declare the glory of God!