Tuesday, December 27, 2016

This Day in History

 On this day in . . .

   1825 - The 1st public railroad using a steam locomotive was completed in England.
   1850 - Hawaiian Fire Department was established.
   1871 - World's 1st cat show took place in Crystal Palace, London.
   1939 - There was an earthquake in Turkey killing around 50,000 people.
   1949 - Queen Juliana of the Netherlands granted sovereignty to Indonesia.
   1965 - My mom was born.

  The last one, is the reason for this post today. Today is my mom's birthday.

     Do you see the woman standing in the middle of the picture next to her handsome cowboy? That's my mom. She's the reason I'm here in more ways than one. Obviously, she gave me life, but that aside, she's the reason I am who I am today. She's the one who led me to Christ. She's the one who taught me how to read. She spent hours teaching me how to write and how to learn. She's the one who encouraged me to write. 
       She loved me enough to correct me through my childhood, and as I grew into a teenager, she loved me enough to make me see myself as I was. For a few years there, I was struggling with some very serious issues, and  it was Mom who made me realize that I needed to make changes. As I grow and mature in my spiritual life, Mom is the one who takes the time to encourage and correct me.
    I can't thank her enough for all the sacrifices she has made and is making to invest in my life. I can't thank her enough for the godly example she's been to me. I can't pay her back for all the years of teaching and training. But even if I can't pay her back, I will always love her and be grateful for what she's done for me. I hope to someday be a woman like her.

Happy Birthday, Mom!!!!

(If you want to wish Mom a happy birthday, go to my family blog at www.greenpasturesfarm.blogspot.com and leave a comment!)

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Eight Reasons why I celebrate Christmas.

   Why do we celebrate Christmas? When you're a child, it's simple. Christmas is about Jesus' birth! However, when we grow older, and we meet other Christians who don't celebrate Christmas, we have to ask ourselves, 'Why do I celebrate Christmas?'

     1 Peter 3:15 says "But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready ALWAYS to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear." 

     All through life, people are going to question us. Why do you believe what you believe? Why do you do the things you do? Why are you different? And we need to have an answer ready ALL the time. So here are eight of the reasons why I celebrate Christmas.

      1. Christmas is when I celebrate Christ's birth. Without his birth, there would be no cross, no empty tomb, and no redemption for us sinners. No, the Bible doesn't mention Christmas, but it does tell us the events surrounding Christ's birth. Everything in the Bible is there for a reason, and since God shares with us the story of Jesus' birth, we need to know it. Why would we celebrate are own birthdays and yet not celebrate Christ's? HIS birthday is the most important birthday in history. It ought to be remembered.
     I know that December 25th is probably not the day Christ was born. But since the Bible doesn't tell us a day that He was born, we don't need to know the exact day. What we do need to to, is remember it. All through the Scriptures, God commands us to remember things. In Numbers 15 He told the people to sew fringes onto their clothes to remember His commandments, in Joshua He told them to build a pile of rocks to remember what God had done for them. ALL through Scripture, we are commanded to remember. When Israel had something big that they needed to remember, (like their time in bondage and God's deliverance,) they would often have a feast/holiday to help them remember it. I celebrate Christmas to remember Christ's birth.

       2. I celebrate Christmas to show the world that I believe in Jesus. Have you ever noticed that the 'world' hates Christmas? Oh, they may like parts of it, but they hate the REAL reason I celebrate Christmas. They hate the baby in the manger. The stores that are banning Christmas/Christmas carols/Merry Christmas, and other Christmas things don't have a problem with winter holidays. They have a problem with the baby in the manger, they have a problem with a CHRISTmas. After all, if that baby in the manger REALLY was God's Son, then that means there is a God, and if there is a God, then they're accountable to Him.
      When we as Christians celebrate Christ at Christmas time and put out our manger scenes, it reminds the world of something they're trying to forget. And as 1 Timothy 4:12 says, we're supposed to be examples to the world of what believers are supposed to be like.

"Let your light so shine before men . . ."

        3. Christmas is an AMAZING time to share the Gospel! I know many people celebrate Christmas and don't have a clue who Jesus is. They see the lights, the holly, the presents, Santa Clause, and the amazing shopping deals, and they see nothing of Christ. Yet despite that, what other time of the year can you find so many Christian things in secular stores? Even secular stores sell manger scenes. You can't tell me that no one ever asks questions because of that.
      Unsaved people do see the manger scenes and they're often more willing to go to church at Christmas time.
      At Christmas time, people send Christmas cards to everyone they know, including unsaved family and friends. How hard is it to include a gospel tract? At Christmas, people are more open to gifts, and you can give co-workers and neighbors plates of cookies with a gospel tract.
    Sometimes, some of my friends and I wrap up DVD's that share the gospel, and hand them out door to door. Most people love being given a gift! What better time than Christmas to give them the gospel?
Mark 16:15 commands us to "...Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature." 
  The Shepherds celebrated Christmas in the right way. They took the time to kneel before the baby in the manger, and then they went and preached it abroad.
    So, Christmas is a time when people are more open to the gospel, and since we're commanded to preach the gospel, we should use the opportunities that we have to share Christ.

The Baby in the manger is WORTH sharing!

     4. Christmas is a time to show our families how much they mean to us. When the wise men came to honor Jesus, they brought him gifts. Sometimes, we need to remind ourselves how blessed we are to have family, and if we're not making any sacrifices for them, we're going to have a hard time fully appreciating them. Christmas offers so many opportunities to give of our time, our energy and our money to help our families, and as Acts 20:35 says "...It is more blessed to give than to receive."
    Throughout the year, we can make time and opportunities to bless and give to our families, but at Christmas time, there seems to be even more opportunities to bless them and show them how much we appreciate them. And as we study Jesus coming to earth and the events that surrounded that, we see so many gifts being given. It's only natural that Jesus' humble and giving spirit should make us want to share with other's what God has blessed us with.

A time for giving!

      5. Christmas provides opportunities to learn from older family members and their pasts. The Scriptures are very clear that we should learn from our elders and our past.
        Deuteronomy 32:7 says, "Remember the days of old, consider the years of many generations: ask thy father, and he will shew thee; thy elders, and they will tell thee." 
      Proverbs 12:15 says "The way of a fool is right in his own eyes: but he that hearkeneth unto counsel is wise." 
      At Christmas time, there is often many hours spent with family. Older family members often love to share from their past. Christmas is an amazing time to get the counsel of elder family members who are normally too busy to share.

      6. Christmas is a time to reach out to others. Whether it's extended family members, or total strangers, we often come in contact with hurting people over Christmas. When Jesus showed his love by coming to earth to die for us, he gave us an example of how we ought to love one another. You probably all have someone in your life that you try to avoid. Christmas can make it easier to overcome our fears and approach them with Christ's love. Many people struggle at Christmas to overcome past hurts. Over Christmas we often spend time with relatives that we may not see as often. We may have the opportunity to share Christ's love even with saved people. Everyone knows that the world is full of hurt. Life is hard, and Christmas is a time to declare to the hurting that even when life is hard, God is good! Mark 7:37 says "...He hath done all things well:..." Even Christians struggle with the hurts from the past, but we can overcome hurts and help others overcome their's through Christ's love!

    7. Christmas is a time of JOY! Of course the Bible talks a lot about joy and rejoicing, we're supposed to rejoice all the time! But sometimes we forget that we're supposed to rejoice ALWAYS. Then, a simple thing, like a baby in a manger, reminds us of how much reason we have to rejoice. I mean think about it. The God who created us, became one of us. The God who reigns over ALL left his throne, not only to be born on earth, but to be born in a lowly stable. Look around your home . . . you have so much more than Jesus allowed Himself to have when He came. We have a 'Blessed Hope!' 'Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners!" We have something to REJOICE about! Christmas is a good reminder for us to 'Rejoice Evermore!'

     8.  Christmas keeps us from getting selfish. Now I know some people will say the opposite. When your focus is on the presents, you will probably get selfish, but when your focus is on what God did for us, it will keep you humble. Remember Ebeneezer Scrooge? Scrooge wouldn't donate to a charity because he 'couldn't afford to make people merry.' I think we as Christians can't afford NOT to help other people. Throughout the year, we have our job, our family, our church, our life, and it's easy to focus on those things. But at Christmas, often our eyes are opened to the needs of others. When we're serving others with Christ like love, it takes the focus off of us and puts it on the poor and hurting. After all, didn't Jesus come to heal the broken hearted? Didn't He spend time with the poor and sick? We should follow Christ's example not only on Christmas, but every day of the year. Yet out of all the year, Christmas is the time where we become the most aware of the needs of those around us.

Proverbs 19:17 "He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the Lord; and that which he hath given will he pay him again."

1 Peter 5:6 "Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time:"

      These are but a few of the reasons I celebrate Christ's birth, and I do think Ebeneezer Scrooge's nephew, Fred, sums it up nicely. 

     "...I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round . . . as a good time: a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time: the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys. And therefore, uncle, though it has never put a scrap of gold or silver in my pocket, I believe that it has done me good, and will do me good; and I say, God bless it!"

   Psalm 118:24 " This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it."

1 Timothy 1:15 "...Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners;" 


Wednesday, December 14, 2016

FINALLY about my Bible Bee trip!

   As most of you know, the Bible Bee has been a HUGE part of my life. I competed on the local level for seven years,and at the national level twice. Through my years of Bible Bee, God has taught me so much in so many areas; trusting HIM, humility, what it looks like to glorify God in every area, to name a few.
      Although I only competed at nationals twice, I attended several other years with my sister who was competing, and one thing that struck me every year, was people's attitudes. You would think that at a competition that big, with that much money at stake, that people would be more uptight, unfriendly, concerned about themselves and focused on the money. But they're not. Every time I've had the opportunity to attend, I've been so blessed and encouraged by the contestants love for God and desire to glorify Him no matter what.
      I love how they acknowledge that EVERYONE, even those who didn't make it to Nationals, are winners. If you were to go around and ask the contestants if they're nervous about their scores, you'd hear something like . . . "Well, I am excited to find out if I went on, but I did my best and I'll glorify God no matter what happens. Every hour of studying was worth it even if I never make a dollar off of it. Knowing God is worth more than that."
     I've seen competitions where the contestants are trying to beat the other contestants, and sometimes, that can get too tense and focused on first place. At the Bible Bee, you don't hear people talking about how they're going to get first place. . . instead, you hear them praying for their friends . . . encouraging others . . . and giving God the glory.
        Winning 1st place in the senior division is HUGE! $100,000.00!!!! Yet in my years of Bible Bee, when the 1st place winner is announced, they're not proud about all they learned . . . instead, they display humility and glorify God. If any of you watched the live stream this year, you'll especially know what I'm talking about.
      Sorry, I didn't mean to go on this long, but when I think of the Bible Bee, I think of Believers encouraging each other in the Word, and building each other up. It's beautiful.

     Anyways, last year, I aged out and was no longer able to compete. I was pretty sad about not being able to go back this year, but as I thought about Nationals, I realized that the very things I learned there wouldn't allow me to feel bad for myself for not getting to go. I was THRILLED for all my Bible Bee friends that I knew would be there and I was REALLY excited that one of my cousins had qualified.
      It wasn't very long after I started thanking God for the Bible Bee and that I wasn't going to be there, that I got a phone call. . . "Hey, Cilla, we have an extra seat in our van. Do you want to come with us to Nationals?"
     I was pretty much bouncing off the walls when I called my cousin back and told her I could go. I couldn't believe God's goodness in letting me go one last year!!!!
    The M. family was GREAT to travel with and I LOVED the trip. . . although if you think of it you could send them a sympathy card . . . they were stuck with me in the vehicle for around 48 hours!!!

Anyways, on the way down, we stopped at some other cousins' house and I had an absolute blast spending time with them!!!!

 And while driving on long trips, rest stops are always fun! I can't even hardly remember the last time I was on a swing and I loved getting to be with my cousins, or 'little sisters'!!

 I didn't actually have a camera with me, so these pictures are being used with permission. Thanks Marie!

Like always, the competition was GREAT! Watching the contestants recite is so . . . hard to explain. It's like the Scriptures come alive on their tongues and I was really blessed and encouraged by all the Scripture I got to hear.

Recognize any of these people?

They had some GREAT speakers there and I don't have pictures of all of them, but it was really neat hearing about the Ark Encounter from Ken Ham, the Museum of the Bible from Steve Greene (the owner of Hobby Lobby) Ray Comfort and E.Z. from LivingWaters,  Ted Cruz's dad, Max Lucado, Michael Farris from HSLDA and several others.

If you don't recognize them, these are the Benham brothers. David and Jason Beham, if you're not familiar with them they are (can't you tell?) identical twins and REAL characters. You may know them from their time in minor leagues baseball, or from their t.v. show that got cancelled because of their Christian stands, or maybe you've read one of their books. They were AWESOME at the Bible Bee and it was neat seeing their passion for following Christ.

And it wouldn't be Bible Bee without someone pulling out the Dutch Blitz cards! I love that game!!!

So that's about it. Did I say I had a BLAST?!?!?!?!?!!
 Thank you SOOOOOO much, M. family, for letting me come along! I am so proud of Esther for qualifying and I'm excited to see how God uses the Bible Bee in the future.

Oh, yeah, and in case you're wondering why the M. family needs a sympathy card from you . . . does the picture explain it? When I try to stay hydrated . . . LOOK OUT!

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Ten Things About Me You Might Not Know . . .

      So as a writer, I find myself being asked the oddest questions sometimes. I enjoy having to think through deep questions, but I got to thinking that maybe, some of you who don't know me as well, might like to learn a bit more about me. It might explain why I write what I write. So here it goes . . .

Ten Things About Me You Might Not Know

1.      I love watching old black and white westerns. (Lone Ranger/Roy Rogers/The Deputy T.V. Show/ ect.)
2.      I have a ‘tom boy’ side and enjoy hunting, trapping, fishing, hockey, and farm work.
3.      I also have a ‘girly’ side and enjoy wearing makeup and jewelry on special occasions.
4.      I love shocking people.
5.      I ALWAYS wear skirts. (To some this is a paradox with number 2. but for me, with a little practice and right methods, I’ve even skied in skirts. It’s not as hard as everyone makes it out to be.)
6.      I have flat feet due to a small accident I had when I was 10 years old. Which is why I normally always wear shoes.
7.      I took voice lessons for a year. (I don’t consider myself to be a ‘good’ singer, but I definitely enjoy making a joyful noise to the Lord!) I also play piano.
8.      My favorite music to listen too is men’s quartets. (Although Majesty Music probably has some of my favorite music cds.)
9.      I enjoy listening to theological and political discussions and coming to very firm convictions. (Although I don’t like to argue so you may not know where I stand on a lot of Biblical or political issues since I don’t like ‘making waves’.)

10.  I’m a late night – late morning person. I would rather go to bed at midnight and sleep in than go to bed at nine o’clock and be up early any day. (I claim that my ‘writing brain’ works better after eleven P.M. J)

  If you ever have any questions about me, don't hesitate to ask. You might not like the answer, but I'm happy to share with you. :)

On another note, things are going well with my publisher! We're done with the 'editing' stage and are moving on to the creative department.  :) I'm still not sure when it will be released, but I'm excited with the progress.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

A joke . . .

   So I've been sick this last week. Fevers, headaches, strep throat . . . you get the picture. I'm feeling much better today, but one of the days I was sick and felt like they should stick me in a sarcophagus, I was telling my family about a joke I want them to pull at my funeral. It got me thinking about different jokes I had heard and I thought I would share this one with you.

      A passenger in a taxi leaned over to ask the driver a question and tapped him on the shoulder.
The driver screamed, lost control of the cab, nearly hit a bus, drove up over the curb, and stopped just inches from a large plate glass window.
For a few moments everything was silent in the cab, and then the still shaking driver said, 'I'm sorry, but you scared the daylights out of me.'
The frightened passenger apologized to the driver and said he didn't realize a mere tap on the shoulder could frighten him so much.
The driver replied, "No, no, I'm sorry, it's entirely my fault. Today Is my first day driving a cab... I've been driving a hearse for the last 25 years."