Sunday, December 25, 2011

Celebrating Christmas

Nativity my mother painted (Dad cut the figures out of wood)


So glad you were born! Can't imagine what my life would be like without you - don't want to imagine it. 

Made a cake for you today . . . 

One red layer for the blood you shed for us on the cross as you stepped in to take the punishment for our sins . . .

One green layer for the eternal life we can have because of what you've done for us . . .

Yellow icing for the birthday of the Son of Righteousness

A white taper candle in the center representing you as the light of the world. Candles around the edge of the cake for each member of our family with you at the center . . . our lives revolving around yours. We lit our candles with yours because it's your light that shines in each of us.

Had fun celebrating your birth at home in our new jammies!

Love you Lord Jesus!!!

So very thankful to God for sending you to us!

Merry Christmas!


The cute cake idea in this post came from Lisa Whelchel's book, The Adventure of Christmas. You can find it here:

How do you celebrate Christmas?

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

An Idea for Nurturing a Spirit of Giving in Your Family

Fireside ~ Conversations by the fire about nurturing home and family

" . . . whoever is kind to the needy honors God." Proverbs 14:31

Does your family do any year-end giving? If so, why not include your kids? 

Here's an idea for nurturing a giving spirit in your family:

Make a List of Non-Profits
In our family, we compile a master list of Christian ministries and charitable organizations we would like to give to. My husband and I research and have confidence in the integrity of each one. We print a copy of this list for each member of our family. At the bottom, we always include a spot for "Other" in case someone has another non-profit they would like to support.

Determine the Amount
We then determine the amount of our total year-end donation and split it between each family member. For instance, a $2,000 year-end donation in a family of four would give each person $500 to donate.  (Give your kids the option to include their own funds in this as well.)

Include the Whole Family
Each family member prayerfully reviews the list and allocates funds to the ministries/organizations of his or her choice. After all the sheets are turned in, we tally the results and report the total amounts designated for each non-profit. It's really fun to see what your kids choose . . . gives you a picture into their hearts. This year our son wrote in a donation to the Humane Society (on the "Other" line) from our dog Suubi.

Year-end giving provides a great opportunity to teach children about:

  • Compassion
  • Using personal resources responsibly 
  • The joy and beauty of giving
  • Recognizing the needs of others (i.e., "it's not about me")
  • Being a "light" in a dark world as a family unit

If you're looking for organizations to give to, here are a few that are precious to us. (Of course, there are many others we love as well, but I don't have room to list them all!):

As Our Own
"As Our Own is a Christ-based, community-driven movement in India that rescues vulnerable children from certain enslavement and exploitation, caring for them as our own."

Click here for statistics on orphans and s-x trafficking in India and here for a photo album of a child's path into slavery. This world-wide crisis is absolutely heartbreaking and an evil we all need to battle.

Kanakuk Institute
The Kanakuk Institute equips men and women with Biblical skills for a lifetime of ministry. Amazing is all I can say! What this ministry is doing is so desperately needed in our world today.

Kids Across Africa Camps
Kids Across Africa Camps enables and equips the youth of Rwanda by teaching them life skills, self-confidence and leadership through experiential learning. As they work with youth - and in partnership with churches - they are aiding in the continued restoration and healing of Rwanda.

Watoto Child Care Ministries
Watoto is a holistic care program that was initiated in response to the overwhelming number of orphaned children and vulnerable women in Uganda. Their purpose is to rescue individuals and raise each one as a leader so they will in turn rebuild their nation. 

Danita's Children (Hope for Haiti Children's Center)
Danita's Children rescues, loves, and cares for orphans and impoverished children. This ministry is incredibly legit in their love for Christ and the sweet children of Haiti.


Joplin Tornado Relief
Joplin is courageously rebuilding, but there is still tremendous need there! Now you can help Joplin and receive an amazing tax credit as well. Missouri residents and businesses are eligible to receive a direct reduction on their Missouri taxes. I believe there's a federal tax incentive as well. For an example of how a $10,000 donation could ultimately cost only $3,000, visit:

Donations can be sent to:
JACCF (Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce Foundation)
320 East 4th Street
Joplin, MO 64801

College-town Churches
Consider a gift to the church your college student attends. (Churches in college towns provide numerous ministries to college students with very few financial resources coming in.)

Get the word out! Use the comments section or my Facebook page to share links to your favorite ministry.

Warming the World Together . . .

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Was Jesus Birth Really Planned or a Random Happening?

Christmas is coming! 
One week and it’s here. I’ve barely begun my shopping, just mailed out a few gifts yesterday, and we’re signing our Christmas cards today. I’m a little behind, but my kids are home from college and I’m happy! As I think about Christ’s birthday, I’m reminded it was not some random happening. He was planned and his arrival was an intentional act of God.

Prophecies of the Bible ~
The Old Testament portion of the Bible holds the history of mankind before Christ was born. During those years, God spoke through his prophets. They shared messages of repentance (calling people to obey the Law given through Moses). They also shared messages of restoration and prophecies about the coming Messiah. Here are a few to treasure in your heart. I've also included scripture from the New Testament (after the birth of Christ) that are a fulfillment of prophecies in the Old.

If you have an Advent calendar like mine where you fill the little boxes, you could print these and other prophecies and put them in the daily boxes for your kids.

He will be born of a virgin . . .

Old Testament Prophecy: “Therefore the Lord
himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child
and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel
(God with us).”
Isaiah 7:14

New Testament Fulfillment: “His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit.” Matthew 1:18-23

A child will be born . . .

Old Testament Prophecy: “For unto us a child is born . . . he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God . . .”
Isaiah 9:6

New Testament Fulfillment: “Today in the town of
David a Saviour has been born to you; 
he is Christ the Lord.” Luke 2:11

He will be born in the town of Bethlehem and will be from the tribe of Judah . . .

Old Testament Prophecy: “But you,
Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small
among the clan of Judah, out of you will come
for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose
origins are from of old, from ancient times . . .”
Micah 5:2-5

New Testament Fulfillment: “After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, 
Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, 
“Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews?” Matthew 2:1-6

“For it is clear that our Lord descended from Judah . . .” Hebrews 7:14

Kings will bring him gifts and fall down and worship him . . .

Old Testament Prophecy: “The kings of Tarshish
and of distant shores will bring tribute to him;
the kings of Sheba and Seba will present him gifts.”
Psalm 72:10

New Testament Fulfillment: “After Jesus was born
 in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, 
Magi from the east came to Jerusalem . . . 
On coming to the house, they saw the child
 with his mother Mary, and they bowed down
 and worshipped him. They opened their treasures
 and presented him with gifts of gold
 and of incense and of myrrh. Matthew 2:1-11

He will be a descendant of Abraham . . .

Old Testament Prophecy: “I will make you (Abraham)
exceedingly fruitful, and I will make nations of you,
and kings will come forth from you. I will establish 
My covenant between Me and you and your 
descendants after you throughout their 
generations for an everlasting covenant, 
to be God to you and to your descendants after you.” 
Genesis 17:6-7

“But God said, “No, but Sarah your wife will bear
you a son; and you shall call his name Isaac,
and I will establish My covenant with him
for an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him.” Genesis 17:19

New Testament Fulfillment: “So all the generations
 from Abraham to David are fourteen generations;
 from David to the deportation to Babylon,
 fourteen generations; and from the
 deportation to Babylon to the Messiah,
 fourteen generations.” Matthew 1:17

He will be a Shepherd to his people . . .

Old Testament Prophecy: “Behold, the Lord God
will come with might, with His arm ruling for
Him . . . Like a shepherd He will tend His flock,
in His arm He will gather the lambs and
carry them in His bosom;
He will gently lead the nursing ewes.”
Isaiah 40:10-11

New Testament Fulfillment: “I am the good shepherd;
 the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.”
 John 10:11

God shall dwell among his people . . .

Old Testament Prophecy: “Sing for joy and be glad,
O daughter of Zion; for behold I am coming and I will
dwell in your midst,” declares the Lord.” 
Zechariah 2:10

New Testament Fulfillment: “And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory,
 glory as of the only begotten from the Father,
 full of grace and truth.” John 1:14

The Messiah will come to crush Satan . . .

Old Testament Prophecy: “So the Lord God 
said to the serpent (Satan) . . . “And I will put enmity 
between you and the woman, and between
your offspring and hers; He will crush your head,
and you will strike His heel.” 
Genesis 3:14-15

New Testament Fulfillment: “Since the children
 have flesh and blood, he too shared in their
 humanity so that by his death he might
 destroy him who holds the power of death . . . 
that is, the devil.”
 Hebrews 2:14

“He who does what is sinful is of the devil, because
 the devil has been sinning from the beginning.
 The reason the Son of God appeared
 was to destroy the devil’s work.”
 1 John 3:8

Some of these prophecies are as far as 1200 years before the birth of Jesus. Things happened just as God said they would. 2000+ years after his birth, these prophecies (and others) give us tremendous confidence in the fact that scripture is the true word of God, and that God made sure those he communicated his messages to recorded them correctly. We also know we can trust him to keep his promises. He sent his son to save the world - not to condemn it - just as he said he would.

Keep Christ in your season . . .

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Christmas Goodies

Hi friends! It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas here at The Warming House. Last weekend we had some friends over and I made these cute Christmas treats. Got these ideas from my daughter's Pinterest board . . .



candy canes


melted white chocolate


sanding sugar


adorable marshmallows for dunking in your hot chocolate

santa hat brownies!

Have fun making these treats for your friends and family!

Here are the links to Daisy and the Gordon Gossip (blog) - the originators of these creative ideas.

Staying warm and cozy here at 
The Warming House . . .


What's your favorite Christmas treat?

Monday, December 12, 2011

Elevating Rwandan Youth

On the Wooded Path - Impacting the World with Compassion

My husband and I support a ministry (Kids Across Africa Camps) that is working to enable and equip the youth of Rwanda by teaching them life skills, self-confidence and leadership through experiential learning. The most effective way to impact (and safeguard) the future is to build into the youth who will be tomorrow's leaders. As Kids Across Africa Camps works in partnership with the community and local churches, they are aiding in the continued restoration and healing of Rwanda. Here's a link to their site. When you get there, you'll find an advent blog post (Waiting on the Christ Child) I recently wrote for their website.

Warming the world together . . .


Friday, December 9, 2011

Crossing Borders

Mountain View ~
Stealing Your Breath With Views of the Heart of God

A friend of mine heard about the distressing predicament of many Russian orphans. She interrupted her life to cross the borders of her country to be with them. She could have  ignored their needs, but instead she placed herself smack-dab in the middle of their lives. She ate with them, conversed with them, listened to their stories, held them in her arms, and wiped their tears. While she was among them, the scales fell from her eyes. She came to understand their fears, their living conditions, and their needs. She made their suffering her own. During this time she connected with a boy named Andrei. 

When the day came for her to leave Russia, she shares that she placed her right palm against the window from inside the van, carefully extending each finger to align with Andrei's on the opposite side of the glass. She looked into his face full of promise and possibility against the stark, gray background of the Russian countryside and tried to memorize each feature.

Andrei reached up with his right hand and wrote two Russian words on the van window, wet with condensation.  As the van slowly rolled forward, she kept her hand pressed tightly to the glass.  Andrei moved alongside the van until he could no longer keep up.  

She strained to see him standing there waving until the van rounded the corner of the building. Pine trees passed by in a blur.  She watched the windowpane intently until she could no longer read the two words he had written on the window.  “Come back." (Story shared by Tarissa Helms)

God has memorized every feature of our faces (Psalm 139). He designed us with huge promise, and potential. Like the pane of glass in the van’s window, our disobedience and rebellion places our relationship with God in a state of separation. He tries to get our attention, but often we ignore Him and go our own way. His heart is deeply grieved as He watches us move further and further in the opposite direction. There are times when I have grieved God's heart in this way. My choices and my strong will have pulled me away from him.

When we begin to understand the extreme holiness and perfection of God's nature, we realize there is no way we can make ourselves good enough for him. There is no way to remove that distance between us by our own efforts. Our choices, mistakes, and human nature make us orphans, and leave us with a longing in our hearts for him to come back and claim us (whether we realize it or not).

To resolve our predicament, God did something unthinkable. Through the birth of Christ, he became present in our daily existence.                                                                                                           

The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel – which means, “God with us.” Matthew 1:23

Jesus inconvenienced Himself and crossed the borders of heaven in order to be present with us. He was perfect and could have turned His nose up at all of us, but He placed Himself smack-dab in the middle of the lives of imperfect human beings from all walks of life. He ate dinner with tax collectors, touched the lepers, conversed with a Samaritan woman, listened to the story of a bleeding woman, defended an adulterous woman, patiently taught ordinary men, and wiped away tears.

As a result, He gained an intimate understanding of who we are as human beings. He understands our struggles, fears, insecurities, and temptations; our loneliness, pain, and suffering; our regrets, sadness, and despair; our circumstances, dreams, hopes, and joys. He came to make our suffering his own. 

“He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering.” Isaiah 53:3 (NIV)

“Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.” Hebrews 2:18 (NIV)

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet was without sin.” Hebrews 4:15 (NIV)

At Christmas time, we remember that God couldn’t stand to leave us alone and orphaned so He came to be with us

The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. John 1:14

Through Christ, God makes us a part of his family. (Romans 8:15; 1 John 3:1)

In love, he predestined us to adoption as sons (and daughters) through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will . . . Ephesians 1:4-5

When you think of the baby in the manger, keep these things in mind:

  • God came to be with us so that we could be with him. 
  • Without him, we are all orphans.
  • He yearns to draw us into his "family." 
  • If you are feeling lonely, alienated, and estranged from family this holiday season, remember there is a place where you "belong". If you would like to join his family, see my page (in menu at the top of blog) entitled, "Knowing Jesus."

Anticipating the celebration of his gift to us,

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Sharing Jesus

Who is Jesus? Religions outside of Christianity say Jesus was a prophet, an enlightened teacher, or a spirit child created by the Father and “mother” in heaven. Some believe he was a man who displayed the Christ idea but was not God, did not suffer, and could not suffer for the sins of mankind. Others believe he was symbolic of “all the gods to which you pray,” was not crucified, didn’t really die, and did not rise from the dead.

There is clearly some confusion about Jesus. So who is Jesus? Truly, this is the most important question anyone can ever ask or answer for himself or herself; therefore, it is critically important for those of us who are followers of Jesus Christ to share the truth about who Jesus is and what he's done for mankind.

There are many ways to share the gospel message. Here are a few.

Social media (i.e., Facebook, Twitter, podcasts, blogs, etc.)
Through our lifestyle (living in such a way that others see Christ's influence in our lives)
In our relationships 
Sharing personal testimony
Street evangelism
Servanthood (acts of service/love that minister to the whole person)

Street evangelism is the most troublesome for me because it doesn’t allow others to see how we live our lives under the leadership and influence of Jesus Christ.  It’s often a forced conversation. In Matthew 28, Jesus clearly instructs us to make disciples of all nations. With street evangelism there is typically no follow-up, continued relationship, or discipleship.

In a recent study conducted by the Barna Group, there were absolutely no favorable comments about street witnessing among all the people they interviewed. Barna found that street witnessing actually creates barriers – mental and emotional obstacles – to Jesus. (Kinnaman, Dave and Lyons, Gabe, “Unchristian”, Grand Rapids, Michigan, Baker Books, 2007, p. 70) Barna concludes that the most effective evangelism efforts are relationship based.

Servanthood evangelism is most natural for me because I have experienced God’s compassion. It is a beautiful reflection of the solidarity God has demonstrated as he came to walk alongside us in our troubles, our pain, and the ugliness of our sin through the life of his son, Jesus Christ. In compassion, he chose to suffer with us. This reveals the sincerity of his love. Romans 2:4 accurately teaches that God’s kindness leads us to repentance. As we enter into difficult situations and serve others, our actions prove the sincerity of our love as well. “People don’t care how much we know until they know how much we care.”

In my lifetime, I have shared my faith through teaching, preaching, serving, and sharing my testimony in the local church, at Christian women’s events, during mission trips to other countries, in para-church ministries, through my blog, and in the way I live my daily life. Yes – it can be scary to share your faith and I don’t do it perfectly. I have definitely experienced anxiety in some of these situations, I certainly don’t have all the answers, and I’m still a complicated mess as a human being. BUT - I am extraordinarily grateful for all that Jesus Christ has done for me. My life has been pockmarked with some really ugly mistakes and bad choices. Through his death on the cross Jesus took the punishment for all of my sins. He did for me what I could not do for myself. He made me clean and made it possible for God to forgive me for all I’ve done wrong so that I can be at peace with myself and experience life with Him forever. He has also healed my heart from some very deep pain. I absolutely love sharing the greatness of who he is with other people.

Christ gave us two commands that impact evangelism:

1) The great commission: Go, share the greatest news the world has ever known, and make disciples of all nations. (Matthew 28:19-20)

2) The great commandment: Love God and your fellow man. (Matthew 22:37-40)

It’s so important for us to carefully steward the image of God and to be accurate reflections of his heart. My personal belief is that we are called to become the embodiment of the gospel message through our whole lives as we follow both of these commands and abide in Christ. Through our actions we bring the concepts of forgiveness, reconciliation, and love to life. (See 2 Corinthians 3:3)

It’s God’s will for us to share what we know. (Matthew 28:19-20)
We don’t have to do it eloquently. (1 Corinthians 1:17)
We are not to hinder the gospel. (1 Corinthians 9:12)
God opens the door for us. (2 Corinthians 2:11-13)
We are to be known by our love. (John 13:34-35, 1 John 3:17-18, Ephesians 4:15)
We sow the seeds, but God is the Lord of the harvest and brings growth. (1 Corinthians 3:4-7, Matthew 9:37-38)
Jesus is with us as we share His message. (Matthew 28:20)
There is no other name by which to be saved. (Acts 4:12, John 14:6)

If you have never known the joy of a relationship with Jesus Christ and would like to learn more, see my page - "Knowing Jesus".

Love you all! Thanks for sitting a while with me here at The Warming House.


Thursday, November 24, 2011

Finding Thankfulness in Tough Times

Picture courtesy of  Martha Carter

Hi friends! Hope you and your family are enjoying the holiday. Thanksgiving is often overlooked in the rush to get to the Christmas season, but it is one of my favorite holidays of all. 

Here's a Thanksgiving post I wrote for another blog a couple of years ago . . . 

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, "Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."

As I read this verse, I have to admit that I have had some trouble with joy and thankfulness lately. The past year has been tough. Our family has experienced many challenges. Many of you have had your own heartaches and sorrows and my heart aches with yours.

1 Thessalonians tells us to be joyful always and to give thanks in all circumstances. Apparently, joy and thankfulness have little to do with the state of our circumstances, and more to do with the state of our hearts and our attitudes. A grateful heart does not necessarily have to be thankful for the situation, but is to be thankful in the situation.

Thanksgiving is an expression of gratitude and joy Godward regardless of our circumstance. It is an intentional choice not based on feeling but on the knowledge of who God is, what He has already done, and what He is accomplishing for us through Jesus Christ. It is believing in advance that God is working all things for our good. (James 1:4-5; Romans 8:28).

I have learned that when I become frustrated with my situation, it is because I have a lack of TRUST in God and His ability to work all things for the good of those who love Him - for the good of me and my family. My lack of trust leads to frustration.

The truth is that God can be trusted. He works behind the scenes in ways we cannot imagine. He doesn't owe us anything, but He provides us with everything we need. His hand of blessing is always upon our heads. (Psalm 139:5) Everything He provides is a gift. (James 1:17) He passes through the raging waters with us. (Isaiah 43:2) His power exceeds all others. (Isaiah 46:9-10)

In this world, staying in constant fellowship with God is essential to maintaining a joyful, thank-filled heart so Paul tells us to pray continually. Through prayer, God ministers sweetly to our souls and shapes us to His will. The passage in Thessalonians lets us know that it is His will for us to be thankful.

Recently, my daily Bible study instructed me to go to God in prayer reflecting on His goodness to me. It also asked me to consider how I have responded to His goodness lately and the ways I have taken it for granted. Ouch! I felt like a girl with her hand caught in the forbidden cookie jar. I went to God in prayer knowing already that I was failing pretty miserably in this area. Truth is (and I am ashamed to admit this), I hadn't wanted to focus much on my blessings because I think I just wanted to be mad at God for all that had been happening in our lives. In that private place of prayer, God lovingly took me into His arms and tenderly comforted my heart. He gently led me to get a pad of paper and a pen and to begin listing all of my blessings. Well . . . it was a legal pad of paper and I wrote - and wrote - and wrote filling pages of paper. I wrote until my hand grew too tired to write anymore. We have a most generous and loving God. He is all good all the time. I am very thankful for the ways He teaches me.

"Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ." Ephesians 5:19b-20.

A warm and grateful heart is such an incredible blessing. I pray that God will help you find that place in your heart today. Here's an idea you can use to teach thankfulness to your family. It has really been meaningful to ours. Hope it brings you joy.

Each year I set out a small basket with a framed sign beside it that says:

Blessing Basket
"Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise,
give thanks to Him and praise His name.
For the Lord is good and His love endures forever;
His faithfulness continues through all generations.
Psalm 100:4-5

Place a stack of paper and a pen beside the basket in the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving. Each person who passes through your home has the opportunity to record the things they are thankful for on the paper then places them in the basket. At our Thanksgiving meal, we pass the basket around the table and take turns reading a "blessing" from the basket. It is a rich and wonderful experience! After the holiday, I save the written blessings in a bag marked with the year. Those of you who are crafty could include these in a scrapbook.


Wishing a happy Thanksgiving to my friends in America - and hearts filled with gratitude to us all!