Your Roots Are Showing

In my favorite movie Steel Magnolias, Ouiser Boudreaux tells Clairee, “Have your roots done!”

If someone tells you to “have your roots done,” or worse “your roots are showing” you may immediately get on the defensive regarding your hair coloring.

There may be another way to interpret those comments.  Perhaps someone telling you that your roots are showing is referring to the roots of your character.  These could be positive or negative characteristics.

If you are a cynical person, you are rooted in negativity. Your cynicism will show.              If you are a joyful person, you are rooted in positivity.  Your optimism will show.

If you are an untruthful person, you are rooted in distrust.  Your lies will show.                  If you are a trustworthy person, you are rooted in integrity.  Your truth will show.

If you are a gossiping person, you are rooted in meanness.  Your ugliness will show.          If you are a humble person, you are rooted in concern.  Your heart for others will show.

Deep roots of our childhood, our present circumstances, our education, or our faith make up who we are.  Those roots will show eventually.  Both the positive and the negative.  The good news is that with Christ in our heart, we can overcome the negative roots and strengthen the positive roots.

Life with Jesus is much like a tree.  It must be deeply rooted in order to continue to grow and produce fruit for the kingdom.  In Jeremiah 12:2 (NIV) God promises goodness for us if we dare to grown deep roots for Him; “You have planted them, and they have taken root; they grow and bear fruit.  You are always on their lips, but far from their hearts.”

In the parable of the seed, Jesus warns of the danger of having shallow roots that are not deeply developed.  “Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil.  It sprang up quickly because the soil was shallow.  But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root.” Mark 4: 5-6 (NIV).

We need to have deep spiritual roots.  We need those strong roots in order to improve our churches, our marriages, our families and our communities.  Deep roots take an effort to develop.

If you are willing, you can develop strong roots through prayer, Bible studies, and serving others.  Share the Gospel, practice grace, work for others to know Christ.

When someone tells you that your roots are showing…be confident that they are strongly developed, deep roots in Christ that are showing.

~Emily

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The Christmas Guessing Game

GiftIn 1953, my Grandpa responded to my Grandma’s exasperation at not being able to keep track of gifts for the purpose of writing thank you notes by inventing our family’s Christmas tradition: The Guessing Game.

The premise is fairly simple.  Everyone gets a gift from under the tree and then one-by-one we guess what the gift is and then open.  We keep score of rights and wrongs.  At the end of the present opening, whoever has the most “rights” gets a silver dollar.

Through the years, it has evolved into very creative wrapping procedures in order to trick the receiver into a false guess. Small gifts get large boxes.  Larger gifts get scavenger hunts. Items get wrapped with decoy noise making material. It prolongs gift giving and opening, but the reward is that you get to truly enjoy someone’s reaction to their gift. And every mom in the family is grateful for the chance to write down what needs to be included in thank you notes.

There’s a gift that we don’t have to creatively wrap. It’s one that you don’t even have to guess.

It’s the gift of salvation through belief in Jesus as our Savior.  He came to offer Himself as a sacrifice for all of our sins…and offered himself as the only gift we will ever need.

As we celebrate the birth of Christ over the next couple of days, please think about those around you who need this gift…who don’t know about this gift…who have previously rejected this gift. Think about who you could share the gift with.

Christmas is the time we celebrate the arrival of the Messiah.  Take the guessing out of the gift-giving and prayerfully consider sharing the Gospel with those who need to hear it.

On this Christmas, 65 years after my Grandpa invented the “Guessing Game,” I pray that you will have opportunities to speak of Christ as a gift.

Merry Christmas to you and yours!

~Emily

“Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” ~Matthew 28:19 (NIV)

 

 

Feeling Gratitude

“Piglet noticed that even though he had a very small heart, it could hold a rather large amount of gratitude.” ~A.A. Milne

Several years ago, I posted on Facebook daily in the month of November, something or someone that I was grateful to have in my life. I did it for three years in a row. Which means that at this time of the year, Facebook likes to provide the memories of what I was grateful for in the past.

Sometimes they were silly things like kittens, warm showers, or hugs.  Other times they were more serious, like my brother’s cancer treatments, the breath of a newborn baby, or having my grandmother’s crotched blanket to keep me warm.

In all that time, I never wrote that I was thankful for my salvation.  I never wrote that I was thankful for a loving God, who gave His only son so that I can have eternal life.  I never wrote that I was thankful for Jesus and His ultimate sacrifice on my behalf. I never wrote that I was thankful for the written word.  I never wrote that I was thankful I lived in a country where freedom of religion means I can openly be a Christian.

I never wrote any of that.

But I am grateful for all of it.  I am probably more grateful for my salvation than for anything else I’ve ever considered.

On this week of Thanksgiving, what are you most grateful for in your life?

~Emily

“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; His love endures forever.” ~1 Chronicles 16:34

Pooh Bear

 

Describe Yourself- Two Words

Describe yourself.

Wife, mother, friend, daughter, sister, traveler, student, gardener, volunteer, Chief Master Sergeant, scrapbooker, author, blogger, retiree…the list goes on and on.

When someone asks me this question, I have a difficult time determining what information is being solicited.  Mainly because there are plenty of titles that I can proudly use to describe myself.

But what if I could only choose two words?

Christian & Veteran.

The two titles that I am most proud of and the two titles that best define me. Probably the two titles that I have been most faithful to throughout my adult life.

On this last Veteran’s Day as an Active Duty member and during the last 25 years as a military member, I have had to lean on one particular verse that I found to be applicable to both of these titles.

 Join with me in suffering, like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer. 2 Timothy 2:3-4 (NIV)

It’s important to note that Paul was not advocating violence as a good soldier of Jesus, but rather he was advocating the merits of possessing the characteristics of a military member with well-defined bearing and discipline.  The military member focuses on the orders of those above them, as well as the mission…rather than the details of distractions.  Paul is encouraging the Christian to maintain a similar bearing, keeping in mind that the details of life will be cared for by our Father in Heaven, rather than becoming distracted from our mission to contribute to the Kingdom.

In my own life, it’s a beautiful reminder from God, through Paul, that I can be both a Christian and a Veteran.  The training I received as a military member should assist me with translating focus and bearing into my walk with Christ. It’s a beautiful reminder that God’s titles for my life are ones He chose for me.

If I asked you to describe yourself with two titles…what two would you choose?  How would they relate to God’s plan for you?

~Emily

Sweet land of liberty

The Gift in a Shoe Box

It’s hard to pack everything you’d like to give to a child you’ve never met into a small shoe box.  Balancing needs and wants can be difficult when deciding what goes in and what has to stay behind.  But when that shoe box is full, and you’ve sent it on its way, a wave of satisfaction hits you.

For those who’ve never heard or participated in Operation Christmas Child (OCC), it’s a wonderful program that uses gift-filled shoe boxes to children in need around the world to demonstrate God’s love.  Anyone can take a shoe box or a small container, fill it with things that a child might need/want and take it to a drop off location to be sent to children in more than 150 countries and territories.

When I lived in Wyoming, I was employed by a medical office where the owners were actually the coordinators for OCC in that state.  Every year, we would have a packing party!  This involved changing all of the exam rooms into “stores” with different themes.  You would start in the lobby, grab a box, put the essentials like soap, toothbrush, and washcloth and then pick an item or two from each room as you went the length of the building!  It was AMAZING!  My children were involved and enjoyed packing for kids they never met.

As Peyton, McKenna, and the other participants would pick up a box, they would pray over it; pray for the workers and volunteers touching it, pray for the child receiving it, their families, and the village and country that it would affect.  Packing those boxes is truly a moment of being the hands and feet of Jesus.

And don’t even get me started on volunteering at the distribution center!  I’ve had the privilege of working at the Denver location twice.  The THOUSANDS of shoe boxes you see being packed into shipping containers is nothing short of astounding.

It’s been several years since I’ve been a part of that, but this year Peyton and I decided to pack our own boxes.  We chose to fill on boy box and one girl box for the age group of 10-14 since that tends to be a harder box to fill.  We pored over selections at Hobby Lobby, the Dollar Tree, Walmart, and Michael’s to make sure we could get everything we wanted.  It still makes me smile to think about Peyton, with gritted teeth, look at me and say, “I WILL make this all fit in this box.  It WILL close!”

Not only was this time spent with Peyton cherished mother/daughter time, it was an opportunity to remind Peyton and myself about keeping ourselves busy doing the Father’s work.  It’s never done.  Whether it’s a conversation with someone about Jesus or filling a shoe box with gifts for children who might not otherwise get a gift, it’s what God commands us to do:

Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. Mark 16:15

There’s still time to fill a shoe box if you’d like to participate in Operation Christmas Child.  National Collection Week is next week, November 12-19.  You can get more information on what can be packed and where to find your closest drop off location by clicking here.

Share below if you’ve packed a shoe box for OCC before!

~Erin

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Six years between photos and she still looks exactly the same when she prays over the boxes!

The Hands and Feet: Isaiah 58 Ministries

In a small town of Alabama, an amazing group of ladies is acting as the hands and feet of Christ.  They are touching women’s hearts every single day. They are spreading the gospel through actions…through love.  They are making an impact for the Kingdom.

For the last five years, these ladies have met faithfully three times a week to pack suitcase for women who are leaving prison. You ask, “Packing suitcases?!?!?”

Yes, packing suitcases.  In fact, they pack 80-100 suitcases a month!!!

Isaiah 58 ministries collects gently used, as well as brand new clothes and toiletries to pack into suitcases for women who are gaining freedom from a prison or are facing a crisis, such as domestic violence or a house fire.  These women, many of whom have absolutely nothing to their name, are given several outfits to start their new life of freedom, as well as some basic hygiene products.  If the donations support, these newly released women are given non-essential items too, such as jewelry, perfume, or purses.  The suitcases also include a Bible and devotions or scriptures.

Obviously, Isaiah 58 ministries is providing tangible items to meet physical needs that each human possesses.  However, there is an intangible component to this ministry. The recently released inmates are able to have a moment, knowing God provided for them.  God is blessing this ministry to provide these items at a time when these women are scared to enter the “real world,” but also excited to be leaving prison behind.

Yet there is another very important component of this ministry.  The women of Isaiah 58 ministry are praying for every single one of these women in prison; for each one that is released and each one that isn’t released. They are praying for the ladies who are facing turmoil through crisis.  They pray for their salvation, as well as for the children and families of the incarcerated. They pray over the suitcases in hopes that this small act of kindness will bring someone closer to a relationship with God.

The blessings of this ministry don’t just extend to the women of prison system and their families. It extends to every single person who volunteers with them…every single person who donates to their cause…to their entire church congregation who supports the ministry by allowing a physical location for storage and processing.  It has become a “sweet sisterhood” of ladies working towards a common goal.

The women of Isaiah 58 ministries are a humble group of gals who will repeatedly tell you that this is all God.  God providing the donations…God providing the mechanism to assist other humans…God’s love being shown to women who may not otherwise know love.

Their words are correct in giving God the glory.

I would contend that their actions also give God the glory.

They have been obeying God’s command of “love one another.”  They are obeying God’s direction to take care of “orphans and widows…and prisoners.” They have literally become the hands and feet of Christ.

As a point to ponder this week, what are you doing in your own life to act as the hands and feet?

~Emily

“The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.” ~Isaiah 58:11 (NIV)

If you have questions about Isaiah 58 Ministries or if you would like to support, please feel free to contact them at I58@santuckbaptist.org

I58 Photo

Making room for God in the Cancer Story

Did you know a diagnosis of “Stage 4” also comes with the knowledge that you will never officially hear the word “remission”?  Most of the time a diagnosis of Stage 4 results in death before there is ever a chance at remission.  If there is a season of healing, modern physicians will believe that there will be a relapse and thus are reluctant to ever mention true remission.

In November of 2014, my family and close friends, witnessed a miracle of a Stage 4 diagnosis coming as close to remission as possible after only 6 weeks.

Our second miracle was revealed in April 2016, when my brother and his wife delivered a healthy, chunky baby girl.  My brother took to calling her the “chemo baby.”

Shortly after my niece’s birth, a routine PET scan showed that the cancer was back.  Hence, the modern medicine reluctance to acknowledge remission after Stage 4 categorization.

My brother started a different course of treatment in Fall 2016. On my birthday in Feb 2017, he was admitted into isolation at the hospital in order to receive a very aggressive 1-week dose of chemo and then 2-3 weeks of stem cell and bone marrow transplants.  This treatment completely wiped his immune system clean, as though he had never had a vaccine or illness in his entire life, which was why there was a requirement for him to be in isolation during this time.

Our family is now at 4-year anniversary of the initial doctors’ reports of cancer. My brother just completed all of his “well-baby” vaccines to reset his immune system. The doctors are seriously talking about removing his port that he’s had for the last 4 years.   He is cancer free.  As close to remission as one can get with this health issue.

It’s not enough to be in physical remission.  One must be in remission with God in order to ensure salvation.  God sent His only son to die on a cross for our sins.  Why? Because our physical death is a phase that can lead to eternal life…or eternal death.

“…Jesus said, ‘This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” ~John 11:4

When a crisis, such as a cancer diagnosis, strikes there is an opportunity to testify to the glory of God.  It’s a challenge to maintain one’s own faith, but it’s an amazing opportunity to witness to what God can do.

Our God healed my brother. He brought us a new baby. Then He healed my brother again.

That is worthy of declaring the glory of God’s hand in our daily lives.

If you are facing cancer, you are not alone.  If your family is facing cancer, you are not alone.  If your friends are facing cancer, you are not alone.  I’m praying for you, for your family, for your friends.  A physical death is not an eternal death if you have Christ in your heart.  There is a place for miracle healings.

There is room in the cancer story to glorify God.

~Emily

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36 years before a big sister would hear the little brother say, “Stage 4 Lymphoma.”