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January 12, 2011

War Eagle!!!

This has to be one of the best moments in college sports history. With only 2 seconds left on the clock, Wes Byrum kicked a game-winning 19-yard field goal to secure Auburn University’s BCS National Championship.

Here’s a short video of that field goal — I love the sports commentary here! And the excitement of seeing Toomer’s Corner in all its papered glory.

It’s been a long time, folks. Since 1957. You have to let us Auburn fans enjoy our moment of victory!

By: Heather Ivester in: Friendship | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (0)



December 23, 2010

All I Want for Christmas…
Is to be able to have Christmas this Year
by
Melissa Mashburn

This is a simple request, isn’t it? In the previous years, we had great big bountiful Christmases with our family. Gifts, goodies and general Christmas cheer— but this year it was different. The year before had been chock full of disappointments, failing businesses and severe cutbacks for our family. 

Sitting with my husband one night we hammered out the bare minimum that we could spend that year for Christmas and even still the total was four hundred dollars. It does not sound like a whole lot compared to what we’ve spent on Christmas before, but this year it could have been four thousand dollars because we just did not have it.

We prayed, I cried, we prayed some more and decided that we would cut back anything else that we could that year so we could have Christmas for our kids. We did not know how we would make this happen, but we knew that we needed to step forward in faith that it would happen.

Answer this question: Does the God who lavishly provides you with his own presence, his Holy Spirit, working things in your lives you could never do for yourselves, does he do these things because of your strenuous moral striving or because you trust him to do them in you? Don’t these things happen among you just as they happened with Abraham? He believed God, and that act of belief was turned into a life that was right with God. Galatians 3:5 the Message

Not even two days later, we hear a knock on our front door. We open the door to see some friends of ours from church. With tears in their eyes, they handed us an envelope and said that the felt they needed to give us this. We opened the envelope and inside there was four hundred dollars cash.

Shocked, stunned and with tears flowing down our face we just sat there in a state of crying and laughing at what God had done. We never shared with anyone that year what we needed, how bad it was, what was going on or what that number was for us to have Christmas for the kids, but God knew.

“And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others.”  2 Corinthians 9:8 NLT

He took a willing servant, led them to our front door and changed Christmas for us that year. After many years of being in full-time ministry we knew that God would provide, but when He shows up just at the right moment, you know that it was all a part of His plan to show how much He loves, provides and cares for His people.

Father God, thank you that after all the years of serving and loving you in ministry that you continue to teach, guide, love, shepherd and care for us.  You, Father, are abundantly gracious and kind, thank you for showing up for us at just the right moment every time, forgive us when we forget that.  In Jesus name, Amen.

 ~~~

About Melissa: Melissa is the founder of the blog Mel’s World Ministry, co-founder of the Praise and Coffee Nights Ministry with Sue Cramer, Kids Ministry Director at her church.  Just last year she launched a new weekly series called Godly Gals ~ Real Women, Real Life, Real Faith where we meet new women each week who are “Taking their everyday, ordinary lives and placing it as their offering to God.” Romans 12:1 the Message. You can find her on twitter and at her blog. She loves encouraging women to live with an authentic faith by being transparent, renewed and transformed. ~ Romans 12:2.

~~~


A three strand pearl necklace will be given away on New Year’s Day. All you need to do to have a chance of winning is {FILL OUT THIS QUICK ENTRY FORM}. The winner will be announced on the Pearl Girls Blog (http://margaretmcsweeney.blogspot.com) on New Years Day!

12 Pearls of Christmas Series and contest sponsored by Pearl Girls®. For more information, please visit www.pearlgirls.info




December 15, 2010

Welcome to day 3 of the 12 Pearls of Christmas. Our guest today shares what it’s like to suffer the loss of a loved one during the holidays and how important it is for all of us to reach out to those who may be hurting during this season.

~~~

The First Christmas
by Pat Ennis

It was October of my eighteenth year of life when my Dad stepped into eternity. As a college freshman, I not only had to deal with my own grief, I also was faced with the responsibility of helping my mother adjust to a new lifestyle. You see, when Dad died, she not only lost her husband of thirty years, she also lost her circle of friends. Suddenly the married couples (my Dad was the first of their group to die) didn’t know what to do about Mother—so they did nothing. Her grieving process was actually extended because of the withdrawal of her friends, many with whom she and Dad had enjoyed fellowship for years. 

Our plight was magnified by the reality that we did not have extended family and I was an only child. Quite frankly, the outlook for the holiday season appeared pretty dismal!

As the holidays approached, our neighbors, who embraced a different faith than we, graciously invited us to share their Christmas celebration with them. The sincere invitation, their effort to fold us into their family, inclusion in the gift exchange, and intentional conversation that focused on recounting the blessings of the year as well as looking forward to the next turned what could have been a miserable day into one of joy. Of course we missed our husband and Dad but the focus on the Lord’s provision for us through the hospitality of our neighbors (Philippians 4:8-9, 19) soothed our grieving spirits.

I have a happy ending to my Mother’s loss of her circle of friends that I described at the beginning of this story! Ever the gracious southern hostess, she did not cease to extend hospitality because of the change in her marital status—in the five years that she lived beyond Dad’s death, we entertained frequently, and eventually our guest list included widows from the group that had earlier excluded my Mother. Though her arthritic condition precluded her engaging in as much of the food preparation as she was accustomed to doing, she continued to help me hone the skills that were second nature to her. 

The loving hospitality extended to us on that first lonely Christmas served as a catalyst for Mom and me to open our home throughout the year—especially during the holiday season! Will you consider displaying biblical compassion by including some of the “others”—singles, widows, and the grieving in your holiday celebrations? Who, knows, you might be entertaining an angel incognito (Hebrews 13:2)!

 ~~~

About Pat: Dr. Patricia Ennis is author of Precious in His Sight: The Fine Art of Becoming a Godly Woman, co-author of Practicing Hospitality: The Joy of Serving Others,  and contributor to Pearl Girls, Experiencing Grit, Experiencing Grace. She’s also professor and establishing chairperson of the Department of Home Economics at The Master’s College. Visit Pat’s blog, Unfading Beauty for more information.

~~~


Enter to win a three strand pearl necklace, bracelet and earrings. All you need to do to is {FILL OUT THIS QUICK ENTRY FORM}. The winner will be announced on the Pearl Girls blog on New Years Day.

12 Pearls of Christmas Series and contest sponsored by Pearl Girls®. For more information, please visit www.pearlgirls.info




December 14, 2010

Welcome to another day of the 12 Pearls of Christmas. I hope you enjoy reading today how author Rachel Hauck is celebrating with joy as she turns 50 during this Christmas season.

~~~

Wear Joy
by Rachel Hauck

Thanksgiving day in central Florida broke warm and sunny under a blue sky. The thin fall breeze beckoned me. Taking my bike out, I rode the neighborhood feeling so grateful for all my blessings.

Joy bubbled up in my spirit. I’d been feeling it for a day, these waves of joy, but as I rode my bike and talked to God, the waves strengthened and splashed my heart the entire ride.

I’d laugh. Then tear up. And laugh again. As one who’s battled and won the war on anxiety and fear attacks, the onslaught of joy was welcomed, and actually sparked a new prayer in my heart. I’ve endured attacks of panic; time for attacks of joy.

The journey of joy began earlier in the year while writing a book coincidentally named, “Dining with Joy.”

Sitting at my table one day, revelation hit me. “The joy of the Lord is my strength.” Nehemiah 8:10. The more I meditated on it, the more I wanted His joy. I don’t want my strength. I want His.

Not long after, I went to Nashville for a girl’s weekend. One of my friends handed me a coffee cup inscribed with “The joy of the Lord is my strength.”

Ever just know? God is calling.

During the holiday season, I turn 50. Yep, the big 5-0. Can’t stop it, I might as well embrace it.

Fifty is often associated with jubilee, a time of restoration, and healing, even release from debt and slavery. It’s a time of returning to property, and inheritance.

A time of rest.

A time of JOY!

This past week, a friend gifted me with a beautiful Christmas ornament. Inscribed on it? You guessed it.

JOY!

To me, the world doesn’t look very joyful. There are social and economic woes. But God is speaking and offering joy.

As you go into this holiday season, ask God for a pearl of joy. Like pearls, crafted through abrasion, God’s true joy is often formed in us during difficult seasons.

Here’s the thing, His strength isn’t doled out based on our goodness, our success or failure, or the fact the holiday season is hard or sad for you. He is ready, willing and able to overcome all your weaknesses, fears and anxiety, sadness with the power of His very own joy.

His joy. Your strength.

I’ve been walking into rooms, houses, outdoors, raising my arms and shouting, “Joy!” People look at me funny, but I want to spread the joy of the Lord. To spread the very essence of His strength.

How about you? Can you find the pearl of joy in your life, in the essence of God’s heart toward you?

Wear joy this season.

 ~~~

About Rachel: RITA-finalist Rachel Hauck lives in Florida with her husband, Tony. She is the author of Dining with Joy; Sweet Caroline; Love Starts with Elle; and The Sweet By and By, co-authored with Sara Evans. For more information please visit www.rachelhauck.com.

Oh, and be sure to enter Rachel’s Dining With Joy NOOK eReader giveaway!

~~~


A three strand pearl necklace will be given away on New Year’s Day. All you need to do to have a chance of winning is {FILL OUT THIS QUICK ENTRY FORM}. The winner will be announced on the Pearl Girls blog on New Years Day.

12 Pearls of Christmas Series and contest sponsored by Pearl Girls®. For more information, please visit www.pearlgirls.info




December 9, 2010


I went to my first Cookie Swap yesterday. I don’t know why I’ve never been to one before. It was really fun and a great way to get together with other moms.

In case you’re not familiar with this tradition, every guest brings two dozen cookies, along with enough copies of your recipe to give everyone else. You place your plate of cookies on a table alongside your recipe. Then everyone goes around and collects two or three cookies, storing them in a container to take home.

The highlight of the morning for me, after visiting with everyone and sharing breakfast together, came when we all swapped “Cookie Stories.” I should have thought a little harder about what to bring because I didn’t have any exciting cookie story to share. I made those little Eagle Brand Mini Chocolate Cheesecakes, and my only story was that I’d gotten back late from a basketball game the night before so I had to make them in a hurry that morning and cool them in the freezer.

But other people shared some wonderful stories. One lady brought Chocolate Kahlua Balls that were from a recipe passed down from her best friend’s mother. Her best friend made them every year until she died a few years ago from cancer. Now they’ve become a tradition as a way of celebrating and remembering their friendship.

Other people shared tips and secrets behind favorite family recipes — or the occasional funny story about how they had a stressful morning that led to a stop by the bakery on the way to the party. One young mother with a baby on her hip confessed that she just wanted to come to be around everybody but didn’t have time to make anything. That was perfectly all right! I’m so glad she was there.

I discovered my favorite cookie wasn’t even a cookie at all. It’s called a Cake Pop. My friend, Leigh, brought these, and they were adorable. They’re made using a cake mix and cream cheese icing. You’ve probably heard of them because, apparently, there’s a whole fan world devoted to Cake Pops.

Leigh said her children helped her put sprinkles on the Cake Pops in the morning before they rushed out the door for school — so I’m most impressed. She wrapped them in cellophane and tied them with red and green curly ribbon, all before 9:30 am.

There seems to be a million variations of these Cake Pops, so I’m going to have to try them. They’re creamy inside, instead of dry, like some cakes taste. Plus it seems like something fun for kids to make — kind of like rolling up balls of play-dough. I think it would be a fun craft idea for a kid’s party — then the guests can take home their creations as party favors.

I found a wonderful video with baker Elizabeth LaBau from About.Com that offers a step-by-step tutorial on how to make Chocolate Cake Pops. (Thank you, Elizabeth! You make it look so easy!)

For me, the Cookie Swap didn’t end when the party was over. It ended that afternoon when I opened up my container of 30+ cookies (and Cake Pops!) to share with my children for an after-school snack.

While they ate, I had a ready audience to share all of my new Cookie Swap stories.




August 17, 2010

Over the summer, while browsing through my Auburn University alumni magazine, I was surprised to learn that all 4,000 incoming freshmen are being encouraged to read a book together: Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin.


Wow. That’s a major book club, don’t you think?

It’s part of the Common Book program that more than 100 universities are starting to participate in. This reminds me of our own community’s Big Read last spring, when we all read To Kill a Mockingbird together. Can you see how a bookish person likes me gets excited about these types of programs?

So, I had Three Cups of Tea on my mind all summer, wondering what’s so great about it that an entire university would be reading it together. Sure, it was a #1 New Times Bestseller for months, but just because it’s selling millions of copies doesn’t mean I’m going to fall in love with it.

But I did. Oh … there is something rich between the covers of this book that reached the core of me. It’s changed the way I view the world. I hope you’ll get a chance to read it, if you haven’t yet. Especially if you’re a woman. Read it, and you’ll understand.

The story begins with Greg Mortenson’s failure to climb the K2 mountain in Pakistan, the second highest mountain in the world. He almost froze to death one night when the porter carrying his heavy backpacks disappeared far ahead. Greg wandered around lost for a while, and ended up in a village called Korphe.

While staying in this village a while to recover his strength, he was overwhelmed by the kindness and generosity of the people. There were children everywhere, and when he asked the elders where these kids go to school, he got some sad looks.

He discovered dozens of children huddled together in the freezing cold scribbling their math equations into the dirt with sticks. From this point on, he vowed that he would someday return to this village and build them a school.

The book is a page turner. He goes from one hard time to another — living out of his car trying to scrape together his own meager living and keep his dream alive. He writes 300 letters on a rented typewriter until some kind soul shows him how to use the “cut and paste” option on a computer, and then he sends out 280 more. At last he finds a person willing to back him up financially so he can build that first school, Dr. Jean Hoerni.

The rest of the book recounts the trials and adventures Mortenson encounters as he builds that first school in Korphe — which leads to launching a whole organization, Central Asia Institute, dedicated to promoting world peace through education. He builds not only schools, but also relationships with people in the war-torn regions of Pakistan and Afghanistan.


As you’re reading, you suddenly get the big picture that schools lead to educated minds who are less likely to be recruited by terrorists, and who are less likely to strap bombs to themselves and blow things up.

You realize books lead to peace. And so Mortenson’s mission becomes your own.

There’s now a Young Reader’s edition, which has full-color pictures and a simplified text. I think this would be a fantastic book for teachers or parents to read out loud. Students can also participate in the Pennies for Peace program.



The title of the book comes from the way in which the people in central Asia conduct business. Mortenson’s mentor, Haji Ali, teaches him:

The first time you share tea with a Balti, you are a stranger. The second time you take tea, you are an honored guest. The third time you share a cup of tea, you become family, and for our family, we are prepared to do anything, even die.

If you have a few minutes, I encourage you to watch this short interview with Greg Mortenson. You’ll be amazed. I can definitely understand why an entire campus will be reading and discussing this book together, and who knows how many new dreams will be launched from this shared experience.

(I’ve heard the story continues, with the 2009 published sequel, Stones into Schools.)

All photos are complements of Central Asia Institute.




August 9, 2010

Note:
I’m delighted to offer you an excerpt from author Peggy Nelson’s new book,
Life with Lord Byron: Laughter, Romance and Lessons Learned From Golf’s Greatest Gentleman. Peggy is the widow of Byron Nelson, a champion golfer who still holds the world record for winning 18 PGA tournaments in 1945, including 11 in a row!

If you’d like to enter a drawing to win a FREE copy of Peggy Nelson’s book, please leave a comment below.
[Update: Congrats to holymama for winning this book!]


Byron showed his sensitivity to my feelings and moods in many ways, and of course one of the most critical was golf. Having been a teacher for more than fifty years by then, he realized women need to be treated differently, and he was always gentle in his suggestions as we played together during the first year of our marriage. However I was something of a special case. I just knew I could figure out this simple game all by myself, thank you. While I certainly respected his experience, when we were on the course, I was forever thinking about my score and would brook very little distraction while I was endeavoring to make a seven instead of an eight or nine. Silly, wasn’t it?

So, even though he made very few suggestions, within the first six months Byron saw there was a little problem. I would skull a chip across the green or chili-dip a pitch shot, and he would say, “Sweetheart, try that again with an eight iron this time.”

I would reply (minus the sweetheart), “No!” Or I would try what he had recommended, and if it didn’t work instantly, I would fling the offending club back into my bag and march on to the next hole without a word. I thought things were going swimmingly, but Lord Byron knew better.

One day in May 1987 I had just come home from Dallas where I had been working on a writing assignment for Scottish Rite Hospital. Byron met me at the door with the latest issue of Golf Digest magazine in his hand.

“Sweetheart, I just read this article called ‘How To Play Golf With Your Spouse,’ and I want you to read it. I underlined everything I’ve been doing wrong, and I’m going to change, because if I don’t change, you’re not going to want to play golf with me any more, and you may not even want to stay married to me!”

I melted, of course, as well as feeling like the world’s biggest idiot. There I was, balking at advice from the greatest golfer/teacher ever, and he’s taking all the blame for my frustration on the course. I took the magazine from his hands and sat down next to him. After a number of hugs and kisses and a few tears on my part, I read the article as he had instructed. Naturally the piece was not written for professional golfer husbands who had won five majors, fifty-four tournaments, eleven in a row, eighteen in a year, and taught other pros like Watson, Venturi, and Ward. No, it was designed more for the eighteen handicappers, who wouldn’t know “you looked up” from U.S. Open rough.

We talked about it a little bit and finally figured out that, as silly as it was, I preferred to play on my own when I was on the course, instead of thinking all the time that he was going to want me to try another club or re-do a shot. So from that moment on, he would only offer advice when I asked him during a round.

Oddly enough, that made it easier for me to ask, which I did a lot more often over the years. The result was that, even playing only once or twice a week, I went from a thirty to a sixteen. And let’s not think about how much better I could have been if I had sat at the feet of this master of golf and tried to learn all I could about the game. As he told me years later, he really wouldn’t have wanted me to get so gung-ho that I would be in single digits. He knew how much work that would take and felt it wouldn’t have made me happy anyway. Byron always felt the happiest golfers he knew were the 80-85 shooters, who made enough pars to keep them happy, an occasional birdie for an extra lift, and the occasional double bogey to keep them humble.

Tagging the Master
Oh, it was so much fun playing with him! Not only could Byron still play very well during the first several years of our marriage, but he seemed to get more kick out of my occasional ripping good shot than he did his own. One time we were playing at Riverhill in Kerrville. I was about a twenty-five, and he was about a ten. So we were on the ninth tee, a great, really tough par four, and the forward tees were only a few yards ahead of the whites. He hit an excellent drive, and for once I tagged one that rolled a few yards past his ball.

After rejoicing about my drive, Byron hit a pure little three-iron that ended up on the green about a foot away from the pin for a kick-in birdie. I, my brilliant drive notwithstanding, hit my three-wood amazingly fat and rolled it about thirty yards. Madder than a wet hen, I took out my four-iron, and thinking fairly murderous thoughts, swung blindly at that wretched white ball. Blinking in amazement I watched it sail up and straight onto the green, where it disappeared into the hole for a three. I got a stroke on the hole from Mr. Nelson that particular day!

You would think he’d be a little crestfallen after hitting two wonderful shots and getting an easy birdie but then getting beat by his floundering wife, thanks to that mysterious fiend known as “the rub of the green.” No, my champion absolutely whooped with joy over it and proudly told the story dozens of times afterwards to anyone who would listen. What a hero! “How to play golf with your spouse” indeed!

About the Author:
Peggy Nelson lived most of her life in Ohio, then moved to Texas in 1986 to marry world-renowned professional golfer Byron Nelson. She assisted Byron in the writing of his autobiography,
How I Played the Game. Peggy delights in her many friends, in visits to and from her sons and their families, and in the thousands of happy memories she has of her life with her beloved Byron.

P.S. If you enjoyed this article, you’ll love Peggy Nelson’s book, complements of Kathy Carlton Willis Communications. It would make a great gift for any golfers in your circle of family and friends. Leave a comment and you’ll have a chance to win a free copy, which also contains a CD interview, “Byron Nelson Remembers 1945: Golf’s Unforgettable Year.”




May 15, 2008

My five-year-old son finished preschool today and brought home his “All About Me” book. One of the pages concerned food, and the question asked, “What’s your mother’s favorite food?” He answered, “Salad and peanuts.”

Well, I guess I ought to explain, in case his teacher checks my blog! It’s cole slaw. I’ve become a fanatic lately about cole slaw, which is strange, because I’ve never been that crazy about it.

Most of the cole slaw you buy or see at pot luck suppers is dripping in mayonnaise — uh, no thanks. It’s just soggy cabbage to me, and not at all tasty. But here’s what I’ve discovered. My aging body has become less and less able to handle junk food. If I eat french fries, I feel exhausted an hour later. Same with chips, cookies, anything high carbish. Just can’t eat that way anymore.

These days, when I sit down to eat lunch with my kids, I make myself a huge bowl of this CRUNCHY ALMOND COLE SLAW that is the best stuff! So here I share my non-recipe with you — because really, you just toss a few things into a bowl.

Here’s what you need:

One bag of prewashed cole slaw — the purple and green cabbage is already slivered, and there are lots of sliced carrots in there too.

A jar of cole slaw dressing — the grocery store has it right next to the cole slaw. EASY!

Slivered almonds (or any kind of nuts that go well in a salad, like sunflower seeds)

Grape tomatoes, halved (you have to cut them in half so you make yourself feel special)

Pepper! (Lots of pepper! Freshly milled!)

Here’s the secret. You only use about a tablespoon of the slaw dressing. So that keeps the cabbage crispy. The carrots are so yummy this way — you forget that you’re eating a bowl full of raw vegetables. Mix all this together to taste, and sprinkle lots of pepper on. I love pepper — on just about everything. The freshly milled kind will get your tastebuds going.

If you’ve never been a cole slaw fan, try this. Especially if you’re addicted to eating something crunchy with your soup or sandwich at lunch. Instead of potato chips or french fries, try this cole slaw.

An hour after lunch, instead of feeling sleepy, you’ll have energy! This really works. (Especially if you don’t drink coffee or diet soda with your lunch — but that’s another blog post).

Thank you for reading this. I’m so sad about preschool ending that it made me feel better to come sit down and tap out something that may help someone else who’s struggling with energy and weight gain like me.

Love you!
Heather




January 7, 2008

Cateye TreadmillI wonder how many of you feel like I do, like you’re trying to get back on track this week.

For me, that means taking a break from all those delicious baked goods I stuffed myself with during the holidays!

I’m heading back into my high-protein, low-carb “diet” for a few weeks. I hate the word diet because it’s really a lifestyle change that I want to stick with. I’ve stocked my refrigerator with yogurt and low-fat mozzarella string cheese — and I’m trying to satisfy my crunchy-salty cravings with nuts. Almonds, sunflower seeds, peanuts … much healthier than all those chocolate chip cookies I plowed through during my December stress.

I’m hoping to resume exercising this week as well — gotta love that treadmill, always waiting patiently, reminding me I’ll have more energy if I walk even just ten minutes. Can’t I at least handle ten minutes?

Our Bible study starts back this week, even though I still have a couple more posts to write about our Beth Moore Daniel study, which we finished last month! Hopefully I’ll find time this week to catch up. I’m always thrilled to hear from those of you who write to tell me about your book clubs and Bible studies.

It’s exciting to see how God works in our lives when we women get together and discuss great books!




October 31, 2007


This week at our Bible study I was reminded more than ever how much I appreciate the friendships God has blessed me with. You know, when you’re surrounded by children all the time, you sometimes feel like a castle, with a moat all around you. It can be hard to reach outside the moat — yet we need friendships with other women just as much as any time in our lives. Maybe even more than ever.

It’s hard to write about this now, since I’m still in the midst of it, but someday I want to make a special effort to reach out to women with young children. People look at me and think I’m busy and happy raising my little family, and I’m very thankful for this time of life. But my soul is thirsty. In person, I find it very hard to move beyond “small talk.” Yet I crave depth in my friendships.

That’s what I really enjoy about this Bible study. The workbook and DVDs are tools that give us women a reason to get together and cut through the small talk — as soon as our workbooks are open, we’re digging deep, plowing through the jewels of scripture, and sharing our treasures with each other.

Our discussion this week focused on how our culture has changed through the years. In the homework, Beth asked us to write the names of the presidents who have served during our lifetime. (With a little help from Wikipedia), I wrote down:

Richard Nixon (1969-1974)
Gerald Ford (1974-1977)
Jimmy Carter (1977-1981)
Ronald Reagan (1981-1989)
George Bush, Sr. (1989-1993)
Bill Clinton (1993-2001)
George W. Bush (2001-present)

Beth asked, “In your opinion, has American culture and its mores risen and fallen dramatically under the direct influence of each president?”

This question led to a lively discussion. We tried to steer clear of politics, but we could all definitely see a shift in our culture under certain presidents. But mainly, it’s the little things that change, bit by bit, until suddenly you see a big shift.

Beth explains, “Cultures are stronger than human leaders because they are dictated by masses and cultivated by time” and “they are influenced by unseen powers. Invisible principalities.” As we moved into discussing Babylon as portrayed in Revelation 17, I began to grasp how the powers of evil move behind the scenes — yet our God is going to win the last battle!

One girl in our group talked about how every day she is seeing little things she can do to take a stand for her faith. She mentioned how she was in a Wal-Mart recently and saw a display for a horrible, gruesome movie right next to the kids’ movies! She said, “Before this Bible study, I probably would have just turned away from that image, but instead I decided this was something I didn’t want to let go.” She went and talked to a manager about it! Who knows — if all of us can do something like this, we can take back our culture for good. [Edit: The Wal-Mart manager responded to her request and MOVED that disgusting poster! Victory!]

I shared how a few years ago, a friend of mine was complaining to her husband how graphic the magazine covers are at the checkout counter — especially the tabloids. So her husband talked to the manager of a grocery store in our area (Publix — YEA!), and they now cover these magazines up, so only the top of the magazine shows.

I was surprised to learn that “with the exception of Jerusalem, no other city is mentioned more than Babylon in the Bible.” Babylon is mentioned 290 times! It’s so interesting how the visions of Daniel compare to John’s visions in Revelation. I would never have made those comparisons on my own.

In the video this week, we studied Daniel 7, focusing on how God is called “The Ancient of Days.” Isn’t this scripture incredible:

As I looked, thrones were set in place,
and the Ancient of Days took his seat.
His clothing was as white as snow;
the hair of his head was white like wool.
His throne was flaming with fire,
and its wheels were all ablaze. A river of fire was flowing,
coming out from before him.
Thousands upon thousands attended him;
ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him.
The court was seated,
and the books were opened.

(Daniel 7:9-10 New International Version)

I love these verses! They give me a concrete image I can share with my children when they ask me questions about God.

Do you know how many questions a 4-year-old can ask about God in a single day? Now when my son asks, “What does God look like?” I can say, “I don’t know for sure, but let me read to you what Daniel saw in a dream about God. Here’s what He looked like to Daniel.”

Exciting!

As a mom, I need my faith to be built so that I know what I believe, and I can pass this along to my children. It’s truly a privilege to be entrusted with the care of raising up children in my faith. There is no greater joy on earth!