Give>Receive

Give-Receive

Every time my mom comes to visit she enters the door with brown paper grocery bags hanging from both arms, a 13×9 pan tucked into one arm, and she’s also got my dad loaded down with full sacks and random items. Inside the bags are things she’s seen at the store that she, “just knew one of us would love,” clothes she doesn’t want anymore that she thinks I might like, and miracle creams from the Estee Lauder counter that came free with her make up purchases. The pan in her arm is always filled with “Baked Fudge,” her special dessert that my husband and boys love.

 

I used to attend church with my mother-in-law, when we lived near them. She never entered the church house empty handed. She always had a homemade peach cobbler for someone who’d recently had a baby, or a pot of chicken and dumplings for an elderly person that had been sick, or a sack of groceries (You know, extra things from her pantry – wink, wink.) for a struggling family, or new coats that she just happened to find on sale for people she’d noticed needed them.

 

A very dear friend of mine opened her home to foster kids a few years ago. Now, her family of three suddenly has seven, with beautiful kids of all different skin tones calling each other brother and sister, being raised together in a home filled with lots of love and hilariously crazy adventures.

 

There are a lot of takers in this world, that’s for sure. Sometimes it’s easy to focus on that. We think about the co-worker who stole our idea, or the family member who doesn’t do their fair share, or the people who you do, and do, and do, and do for and they still don’t seem satisfied. But instead of focusing on all of the takers, let’s decide to focus on the givers . . . the servicemen and women who’ve given so much to our country, parents or grandparents who’ve poured love into our lives over the years, church pastors and leaders who’ve loved us and shown us the way, or maybe you’ve been blessed with friends or neighbors or co-workers who have proven themselves to be givers.

 

But instead of focusing on all of the takers, let’s decide to focus on the givers

 

And let’s also focus on the Lord, the ultimate giver. John 3:16 says that God loved us all so much that He gave His one and only son for us. God is certainly the supreme giver, and aren’t we supposed to be like Him?

 

We’ve all heard it said that it’s more blessed to give than to receive . . . the joyful feeling that accompanies giving, the rewards from the Lord when He sees our giving, the satisfaction of knowing we are imitating our God when we give . . . these are all evidence of that fact.

 

Perhaps the best way to help us to give cheerfully is to remember that everything we do we are really doing as unto the Lord. Once I heard Billy Graham’s wife, Ruth, talk about a sign that hung in her kitchen. The sign read, “Divine Service Conducted Here Daily.” Ruth explained that sign reminded her that every meal she cooked should be done as unto the Lord. Wow! What an awesome perspective! This perspective is an eternal one, and when we look at things through eternal eyes, we will understand that the life of a giver is truly blessed life.

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Married Life . . . Keep Working At It!

We were so dumb when we got married. Anyone else? I did dumb stuff. Kevin did dumb stuff. I’ll never forget the week we came home from our honeymoon. I was taking a shower, and Kevin thought it would be really funny to dump a bucket of cold water over the shower curtain on me! I’ll also never forget how mad I got at him when we were driving home after our honeymoon. I told him to let me get out of the car, that I’d just walk and couldn’t stand to be in the same car with him. He didn’t let me out.

Kevin and Martha Wedding PictureWhew, we’ve come a long way, baby! I think one of the most important keys to our marriage becoming the fun, love-filled, and strong marriage that it is today is a dogged determination to keep working at it.

 

There will be disagreements. There will be frustrations. There will be stress. It won’t always be sunshine and lollipops, and both husband and wife have to know this and be determined to never quit on their marriage.

 

There are some things husbands and wives need to commit to no matter what:

  • Commit to pray for your spouse daily.
  • Commit to become a better spouse.
  • Commit to putting forth effort to make your spouse happy.
  • Commit to make your home a place of peace.
  • Commit to better communication between the two of you.

 

The list of things to commit to goes on and on . . . the point is that we should COMMIT to actively, purposely striving to make our marriage better. It is worth it!

 

 

 

 

 

 

What Makes a Human?

Certainly not what we see, for skin, hair, and eyes have a variety of hues,

height has a vast range, and noses can be snubbed or ski sloped.

Our humanity is neither determined by what we hear,

for some speak with a twang, some with a lisp,

some gentle and soft, some loud and abrasive,

some sing about love, and some shout words of hate,

but all are humans.

So then what makes a human?

Not gender or any interpretation of it.

Not age, because some are unborn and some a very old.

Humanity is more than two eyes, one nose, one mouth, and two legs.

Humanity is something you cannot see or hear.

What makes a person?

A Soul.

You see, God sent His one and only son for SOULS, and everyone has one of those.

So the next time someone tries to tell you that a

soul is anything less because of this or that,

You stand up straight and tall and remind them that

God loved us all so much that He sent Jesus to die

for something we cannot see –

the soul on the inside, even theirs.

How To Have a Drama-Free Life Step 2

Drama-Free Life Cover

Step 2 – Get Away!

I have a confession to make.

I have a messy closet. Shoes are scattered all over the floor. Too many shirts on hangers are jammed onto the rod. Scarves are everywhere. My twenty-year-old high school yearbooks, a few of my now teenage sons’ baby blankets, old trophies, and other treasures I can’t part with are thrown onto a shelf.

I certainly didn’t inherit my closet organizing ability from my mother.

You should see my mom’s closet.

My mom saves all of her shoeboxes and keeps her shoes in them. She neatly stacks the boxes and arranges them according to type and color. She has color-coordinated bins that are meticulously labeled for items such as belts and scarves. She regularly purges her closet, and only clothes that are in season hang on the rack.

Oh well. I guess I’m gifted in other ways.

Have you ever heard of the term “prayer closet”? There have been times in my life when my kids were younger that I had to tell my husband to watch the kids and I would go to my messy closet and shut the door so I could have time to focus and pray. In a closet when you’re alone with God, you can be honest with Him about everything going on in your life.

Mary was honest with the angel when she told him that she didn’t understand how God’s plan was going to work. She didn’t hide her fear or her questions. Luke chapter two shows us how Mary responded to the angel. In verse twenty-nine, it says that “she was troubled,” and in verse thirty-four, she asked, “How can this be, since I do not know a man?” (NKJV)

In our culture we’re told to be tough and strong and to never let them see you sweat. If we’re not careful we can relate with God that way as well. Take time to pray daily. When you pray, don’t recite something you’ve memorized or rattle off a paragraph that means nothing to you. If you really want to get a handle on the drama in your life, if you really want to be able to respond to the trials that surround you with the peace and patience of a mature Christian, you must communicate with God sincerely when you pray.

 

We need to take time to get away – get in a closet if we have to and be real and transparent with God. That’s the only way to avoid an over-emotional, stressed out, overwhelmed response . . . in other words, drama.

 

Self – Reflection Questions

Do I pray daily?

Do I pray real, honest and transparent prayers?

Do I have a set place and time that I get away and pray in every day?

5 Questions to Ask Yourself

I triple-dog-dare you to take exactly five minutes to ponder these five questions. Sixty seconds per question – you have that much time, don’t you? Okay, don’t have five minutes? Then how about just take sixty seconds to ponder the first question. It’s the most important.

question

1.) Do I believe in God?

2.) Do I believe in an afterlife?

3.) What is the point to my life?

4.) Am I doing anything that will outlast my life?

5.) Am I living out my beliefs?

I know this is a super-short blog post, but I just felt compelled to challenge people to take five minutes to think about these five questions. So many people don’t ever pause to think about these things, or maybe they thought about them twenty-five years ago, made up their mind, and haven’t ever thought about them again. I challenge you to re-visit these five questions often. They are the most important questions you could ever ask yourself.

All About Fools . . .

“Mrs. Fouts, you have something on your shirt!”

“Mrs. Fouts, I’m moving!”

“Mrs. Fouts, your shoe is untied!”

“Mrs. Fouts, I got into a car wreck this morning!”

Yes, it’s April Fools Day, and I’m spending it with sixth graders. Don’t feel sorry for me though, last year I played the most epic April Fools joke of my life on my students! I don’t know if I can ever top it. My friend Shannon, who taught next door to me, was quite pregnant at the time, and she and I convinced her class of seventh graders and my class of sixth graders that she was going into labor in the hallway. Most of the kids were so scared out of their minds that they just sat rigid in their seats, mouths agape in horror. It was awesome.

In honor of April Fools Day, I thought I’d look and see what the Bible has to say about fools. Specifically, the book of Proverbs has quite a lot to say on the subject. Here are a few things I found out about fools today . . .

  • Fools mock the Lord, Psalm 74:22.
  • Fools despise wisdom and instruction, Proverbs 1:7.
  • A fool lies and spreads slander, Proverbs 10:18.
  • A fool finds pleasure in wicked schemes, Proverbs 10:23.
  • “Fools show their annoyance at once, but the prudent overlook an insult.” Proverbs 12:16.
  • “A fool’s mouth lashes out with pride.” Proverbs 14:3
  • “A fool is hotheaded.” Proverbs 14:16.
  • “A fool spurns parents’ discipline.” Proverbs 15:5
  • “Fools find no pleasure in understanding, but delight in airing their own opinions.” Proverbs 18:2.
  • “Every fool is quick to quarrel.” Proverbs 20:3.

Proverbs actually says quite a bit more about fools, and there are other places in the Bible that deal with the topic as well. It is my prayer today that I would not be a fool in the Lord’s eyes. I pray that He would give me wisdom!

Also, I pray that the Lord would be with me today as I’m with sixth graders all day on April 1st!

Have a lovely day,

Martha

Morning people, bald men, and naked guy . . . what?

Ever read a scripture and thought . . . what in the world does that mean? I truly believe that all scripture is inspired, even the weird and confusing ones. I believe they all have a deeper meaning and life application, but I certainly don’t have them all figured out. There are several verses that I feel that way about. Here are a few –

Mark 14:51-52, “Now a certain young man followed Him, having a linen cloth thrown around his naked body and the young men laid hold of him, and he left the linen cloth and fled from them naked.” What is happening here?

2 Kings 2:23-24, “Then he when up from there to Bethel, and as he was going up the road some youths came from the city and mocked him, and said to him, “Go up, you baldhead! Go up, you baldhead! So he turned around and looked at them and pronounced a curse on them in the name of the Lord. And two female bears came out of the woods and mauled forty-two of the youths.” Can you imagine? Why did this happen?

One of the verses that I’ve never fully understood is –

Proverbs 27:14, “He who blesses his friend with a loud voice, rising early in the morning, it will be counted a curse to him.” I never understood any deep meaning in this verse beyond don’t talk loudly in the morning, and I’ll be honest – I’m a morning person, and I talk a lot in the mornings, and my husband has repeatedly been irritated with me for talking so much in the mornings. I’m the annoying person who wakes up singing to everyone in the house, but I recently I had a lightbulb moment with this verse. It’s all about motivation. Why would you loudly bless a friend in the morning, unless you were really trying to irritate him?

Let me give you an example. My son Kale is a champion antagonist to my son Keaton. I have been trying to get Kale to stop this, and he’s getting better, but he still has a long way to go. He knows just what to do to make Keaton yell and hit and inevitably get into trouble. What he is doing isn’t necessarily mean, like just smiling at him or just saying, “Hi Keaton,” but he knows his real motivation, and Keaton knows Kale’s real motivation, and it makes Keaton crazy. I feel Keaton’s pain, because my sister did the same thing to me!

When I started thinking about motivation, I remembered those scriptures about the way God judges. In Jeremiah 17:10 God says, “I, the Lord, search the heart. I test the mind.” He is the perfect judge. He goes beyond the action and tests the motivation behind the action.

118H     Lord, purify my heart. Make my motives right. I don’t want wrong motives to cause my good works to be a waste. The most horrible ending to my life would be for Matthew 7:23 to happen to me. After a lifetime of working for the kingdom for the Lord to say “depart from me, I never knew you.” What a terrible, terrible thought. How could that happen to someone? To me? Wrong motives. Working to build man’s kingdom and not the Lord’s, working for wealth or fame or earthly rewards. Lord, judge me now, so that I can escape judgment then.

I resolve to check my motives and intentions more often, and to remember it’s not just about my actions but it’s even more about the motives behind my actions that only the Lord sees.

An Organized Life

Ever feel like your life is an unorganized, chaotic mess?

I do – quite often. Ever feel like you have pockets of your life that are uncontrollably messy – – the junk drawer (or drawers like at my house), the kids’ closets, the laundry room, the garage. Then you click over to Pinterest and it seems like the rest of the world has this organization thing all figured out and you’re the only one who hasn’t labeled everything in your pantry? I feel like that a lot. I recently organized our family medicine cabinet, a small job, I know, but something that I have needed to do for about 20 years. I should have taken a “before” picture. Just imagine about 125 random medicine containers jammed into an old sticky goo covered basket with old band-aids and other random things like Nerf bullets and dead batteries thrown in and you get the idea. Here is our family medicine cabinet now –

Medicine Cabinet

I know this is not exactly Pinterest-worthy, but it was a big deal to me to finally get it organized!

Anybody else like me? You LOVE organization and order in your life? That’s one of the things I absolutely LOVE about our Creator God. He is an organizer, a planner. He has everything laid out, in order. I don’t know about you, but I find great peace and comfort in that fact. Sometimes my life seems like a crazy, unorganized mess. In those times, I whisper and prayer of praise thanking my God that HE has it all in HIS hands, under control, and I pray that I would follow the organized plan that HE has all lined out for me. His plan is far better than any I could ever make!

Believe Me, It Does

rainbow

          I’ve heard that Jesus is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. At church a few days ago we sang a song that said, “You are my first, you are my last. You are my future and my past.” And that got me thinking – in all the areas of my life I’m not at the beginning or the end of anything. I’m SMACK DAB in the middle of everything it seems. In the middle you don’t have the excitement of starting something new anymore, and you don’t yet see the light at the end of the tunnel. In the middle there is the danger of starting to feel like you know how to do life so you don’t need help anymore. In the middle there is the danger of becoming tired and overwhelmed because you can’t see the beginning anymore, and you can’t see the end yet, and you just see middle . . . middle . . . middle everywhere. I believe the middle is a crucial part of any endeavor. Everything I’m involved in – raising kids, marriage, ministry, trying to be a writer is in the middle. Even my age (gulp) is mid-life. (Whew, that sentences was hard to write.) How can I stay energized, positive, optimistic, and confident when I’m in the middle? I have friends who feel the same way, and we’ve talked about how hard it is too feel this way – not the cute young things with no kids anymore, not the retired grandmas with time to spoil everyone yet – we are the Mamas in the Middle. As I was praying about this, the story of Paul and Silas in jail from Acts 16 came to my mind. Paul and Silas were in jail for doing the Lord’s work. In verse 25 it says that “At MIDnight” Paul and Silas were praising the Lord and singing, and the Lord sent an earthquake and delivered them from jail. What this tells me is that I need to praise the Lord in the middle. Even when I’m realizing that I’m not the youngest teacher in the school anymore, that I’m primarily identified as someone’s mom, that my taste in clothes and music is considered “old-lady-ish” by some, but that I still haven’t achieved most of the things I want to achieve – when I am thinking that the middle is really hard – I need to praise the Lord for all He has done, for all He is going to do, and not for anything He has done at all, but just for who He is. This sounds really cliche and simplistic. Will it really work? When I’m feeling that middle feeling will it make a difference to just whisper to God a quick thank you for His blessings? Will it really make a difference to sing a song of praise to Him while I’m cooking dinner? It does. Believe me, it does. So, in the middle of this busy week, remember to PRAISE the Lord of the Beginning, Middle, and End! He is Worthy!

Whatever Makes You Weird . . .

whatmakesyou

     I saw this meme on Pinterest, and I just can’t get away from it. It’s so true.

     My friend Courtney is a teenage writer, and she just started a blog, lolabellesuniverse.wordpress.com, and she asked a question about finding inspiration for characters, and I had the thought – – I love it in real life when I find out something surprising about a person. It’s like I always thought of this person as a kind of stereotype, and they’re not that at all. It’s so cool. . . and that’s exactly how I want my fictional characters to be too.

And you know what, I hope that’s how I am. I hope that I surprise people. I hope I’m real. Not a stereotype. Weird even.

Think about it. God is the ultimate author, and He doesn’t create boring, stereotypical characters in His novel.

Lots of Love,

Martha