The Lord tests the heart

“Fire tests the purity of silver and gold,
but the Lord tests the heart.” Proverbs 17:3

The fire of the crucible is never meant to destroy the silver. The intense heat of the furnace will not destroy the gold. Fire improves upon precious metals, refining and purifying them. Likewise, the Lord tests our heart.

He allows the heat of our trials to refine our character and purify our heart. Will You test our hearts, Lord?

A wrong has been done against our child and we are in the midst of a battle for justice.  We are his protectors. We are the voice for our special needs child when he is unable to speak for himself.

The world fights injustice by productive means, but its justice also has the tendency to act out with vengeance or silly lawsuits. We cannot get caught up in the actions of the world. On the contrary, we are vessels of Christ and He desires to shine His light into this darkness.

I am very certain He has a larger purpose in mind for the situation we find our family in. We are just along for the wild ride. In the pain and discouragement of events exposed, we are willing to do what He wants us to do.

The problem is we don’t know exactly what He wants to do with all of the details of the event. But we do know the Lord will direct our steps. And when He does make clear to us what actions to take then we act with bold faith. No matter how personally uncomfortable it is to tread upon unfamiliar territory, the discomfort cannot be our guide.

So please Lord, keep our hearts in check. We acknowledge our hearts can deceive us. When injustice is carried out against our flesh and blood mankind has the potential to go overboard in response. We have no desire to push people to their breaking point in the name of justice. And we absolutely have no desire to shrink back, sweeping the injustice under the carpet.

Help us act in just and purposeful ways which reflect Your heart and honor You without our flesh messing it up!  Test our hearts O Lord, and refine them for good.

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How Great is the love of the Father

Father and son


“How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are” I John 3:1

Meditating on the Father’s great love for us, this picture comes to mind. A.J. missed his Daddy so much while he was away for a week serving in Mexico, that he ran quickly into his arms as soon as he saw his Dad return.  “Daddy! Daddy!” I was able to click my cell phone camera in time, because the strong embrace lasted so long. How great is the love of this father and son.

I have been a little wound-up lately.  My heart is racing as though I have consumed a tank of caffeine. It has been a difficult “Special Needs Month” as we deal with battles and situations beyond our control. The aching in my heart pulls me to crawl under the covers and sink into my sadness. But the Lord keeps giving me this picture of my child running into the arms of his father.

Is that the kind of love You have for me, Lord? Is that the kind of love You have for my child?

I choose not to hide under my covers in despair. Instead, the love of the Father draws me to His embrace with these comforting words from Psalm 121:

“I look up to the mountains—
does my help come from there?
 My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth!

He will not let you stumble;
the one who watches over you will not slumber” NLT

It isn’t easy being vulnerable, but I have finally learned to allow the body of Christ to bear with me in my burdens. I am entrusting my special requests to trustworthy friends who pray on our behalf.

This is when I cry, when I let the walls of self-preservation drop and allow others to come along side us. Augh, this isn’t fun.

As anxiety rises up within me, my mind plays certain ugly scenarios over and over. The Lord interrupts my anxious thoughts, “Be still”  He says, “And know that I am God”.

I ignore Him, “Wait a minute Lord, I need to finish this thought”.

“Be Still” my Father interrupts me again, “And know that I am God.”

I took my thoughts captive and rested in the God who knows all, who loves my son and who will tend to His needs as the Loving Shepherd He is.

Today I choose to rest in the arms of our Father. How great is the love the Father has lavished on us!

“You hem me in, behind and before,

and lay your hand upon me.

Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,

It is high; I cannot attain to it

If I ride the wings of the morning,

if I dwell by the farthest oceans,

even there your hand will guide me,

and your strength will support me.”  Psalm 139:5 & 10

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Wisdom Diaries: I am not willing to settle

Justine Leveille

The Wisdom Diaries are posted monthly by Justine Leveille.  Justine is a 24-year-old  who loves to learn, exercise in any and every way, travel, eat great food, cook, teach children, read, dance, watch movies, and be social!  Her sole purpose is to live life to the fullest measure, to serve God and bring Him glory. She has a huge heart to share the love of Jesus with others and she invites young women to grow a passion for Christ along with her.

Dear Jesus,

As I sit on my bed, I am trying to sort through so many truths You keep revealing to me about trusting you.

Recently You took me on the ride of a lifetime, giving me a grander view of life with You. It is far beyond where I have been.  You pierced my soul with a deep conviction that has been steering my days ever since.

Now I realize how often I settle into living a “practical faith.”  I was reading a new book, Fasting, by Jentezen Franklin, when Your Holy Spirit gently opened my eyes to the lack of faith, hope, and trust I have in You.

As I read Your Word You showed me just how radical the faith of Your saints was.  I began to hunger for the same.

If only I had just one-sixteenth of a mustard seed of their kind of faith! The truth is I have really struggled internally with trusting You when I pray. 

I think I have lacked the faith to really believe in Your desire to answer my prayers.

Regardless of what I pray, I always thought You would answer and work out the details of my life as You choose anyway.

But now Your Holy Spirit is revealing to me just how powerful prayer is.   On this journey of choosing to trust You more I have discovered many of my friends struggle with the same thing.  They are faced with the same decision:  “Will I Trust in You through thick and thin, or will I choose fear, doubt, and worry? Elisabeth Elliot wrote some great words in this regard:

 “But that’s what faith is–the unwillingness to be limited to what we can see and the willingness to believe that there’s a reality deeper than the seeing world that we participate in every day.”

I want to continually strengthen my faith. I need to TRUST in the power of You and in the power of prayer.  I thank You Jesus, that You led me to practice trusting You through a new commitment to spend time praying and fasting.

At first I did not exactly know how it would happen, nor what would happen as a result.  You tested my patience and obedience to set apart time to pray, to fast from food and seek Your sustenance in its place.

“It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”  Matthew 4:4

It was not easy; in fact it was painful at first. 

In completing this discipline you taught me so much about how to trust You.

You called me to trust in you as my emotions were shaky,

when my tummy was grumbling

and when things at work were challenging.

Today I testify, whatever hardship facing me, as I trust in You all things are possible.

 There is a great temptation to be defeated and give up when going through life’s hardships. I think it is equally tempting to just settle into living a life that is not Your best design for us.

I want to always, Trust in the Lord with all my heart and lean not on my own understanding.  In all my ways submit to Him and He will make my path straight,  Proverbs 3:5,6

Jesus, I believe in the authentic Christian life You require your people to take heart and boldly TRUST You by advancing forward — straight through the difficult situations.  It is painful to face hardships head on, yet I must rely on Your Holy Spirit’s guidance. Help me to remember I am not alone. Lord, I am TRUSTING that You will be faithful to lead me through.

 John 12: 27-28 “Now my heart is troubled, and what shall I say? Father save me from this hour? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour.  Father glorify your name…”

My encouragement to you, friend:

When doubt creeps in– kill it. Crucify it.  Crush it with faith and hope and trust in our Master.  Begin to:

  • Pray boldly & specifically
  • Pray without ceasing (1 Thess. 5:17)
  • Pray with an undivided heart which trusts in the Lord



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Operation: Button your pants continues

Time slips through our fingers. It has been almost 3 months since we began Operation: Button Your Pants! To refresh your memory regarding our special challenge to teach our 17 year-old son how to button his pants, you can read about it here:

Because the days do pass so quickly, I am more deliberate in setting practical goals for our growing young man. Teaching a new skill to a child with physical or developmental challenges requires breaking the skill into small steps. Each step is carefully approached with patience. The time it takes to acquire the step is not as important as keeping each goal in mind.

I am happy to say A.J. has passed each of these first steps:

Operation: Button your Pants

  • Work on pincer skills by playing “Feed the Dog” every day. Celebrate every attempt!                   Check!
  • Breakdown the steps to buttoning. Practice one step every day. Celebrate every attempt!         Check!
  • Progressively practice smaller button holes.           Check!
  • Practice on a pair of pants.           Check!

What a surprise to see A.J. enjoying the process so much. He is so pleased with his new accomplishments that he initiates the “Feed the Dog” game and button cards. Without any prompts from us, he practices daily.

The Motivating Factors

Personal pride for his accomplishments is not his only motivating factor for working on the buttons. I have to admit, he has become a little sneaky.

He knows he cannot access gummy treats whenever he wants, so he has learned to zip through his button games and exercises and go directly to the treat cupboard to get his gummies–multiple times a day! It took me a couple of weeks to catch on to my sly boy. I guess that means he has trained Mom pretty well.

I was not thrilled with the notion of introducing sweet snacks as a reward, but the fact is treats are highly motivating. When a skill needs to be taught to a highly frustrated or stubborn individual, I tell you, a reward that works is worth it!  But, because the new skill  became so easy, its time to create the next step of challenges toward buttoning his own pants.  This means he will have to really work for those gummies again!

A.J. Hits a Roadblock

Whenever I have the opportunity to interface with Occupational Therapists or Behavior Management Consultants, I tap their brains for any resources they have for teaching pant buttoning. One of the most important tidbits of advise I received was to place a pair of pants on his lap as though they were on his body. This way he will not learn the button skill backwards!  Backwards buttoning had never crossed my mind.

I found the largest and oldest (softest) pair of jeans in my husband’s closet and placed them on A.J.’s lap. First I sat behind him on the floor and placed my hands on his hands, trying to guide the button through the hole. That did not work well.

A.J. had his own idea to  place his hands on my hands as I slipped the button through the hole.  That was a good idea, because he could feel the way my wrists turned and how fingers have to move behind and beside and in front of the button.  Did you realize you move your fingers and wrist that much when you button your pants?!

Finally, I sat beside him as he attempted to slip the metal button through the stiff little hole. Frustration mounted. He grunted and motioned for me to help. I kept my hands away but sat closely to encourage his efforts. He must wonder why this button will  not cooperate as easily as the buttons he has been practicing on.

Disappointment set in for both of us. Eventually, I placed my hands on the waistband, giving him a sense of support. A week or so went by without any success.  Both of us have ignored those jeans lately. Feeling a little defeated myself, I have not taken any further steps toward getting those jeans buttoned.

I have my finger and hand issues due to arthritis and am aware of adaptive tools for everyday tasks. After a little online research, I discovered a handy tool to help with buttoning pants. I stared at the picture and considered what it would mean for A.J. on a daily basis. Not only would he have to carry the tool on his person daily, but it would be very difficult to get him motivated to button his own pants after using the tool. Any adaptive tools at this point will be our last resort.

Give him every opportunity to excel

Our philosophy since his infancy has been to give him every opportunity to excel, and then let him show us what he can do. If I resort to the tool so soon, I would be cutting the process short.  Through his willingness to continue buttoning  he is still showing us a desire to develop.

So, I called on the school Occupational Therapist. She agreed it is best to stay away from the adaptive tool at this time. She suggested cutting into the buttonhole–a little skill I know about from my earliest days of learning to sew. Then I got the idea to cut up the waistbands from a few pair of old jeans and make a new button board. This will be my project for the week.

Operation: Button your pants–Step 2

  • Create a button board made from jeans.
  • Clearly mark the Top of the board to be closest to the body.
  • Practice short amounts of time to limit frustration. Celebrate every attempt.
  • Do not give gummies until at least 3 attempts are made on the denim board. Celebrate attempts!
  • Practice every day.

Cross your fingers!  Well, that would mean I believe in luck. I don’t. Through prayer and hard work we will keep taking steps towards success!  I will let you know how it goes.


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Holding my loved ones loosely

Father and Son on their way to Mexico


Over the weekend, the driver in front of me kicked up a stone and cracked my windshield.  This is the third incident mucking up my new van in less than a year. I was instantly reminded how accidents even happen at home, while doing the mundane.

How many of us cling to our families and material things as though it will keep them safe from harm?

When our 12-year-old son left for the Dominican Republic on a mission trip a few summers ago, the popular response from my friends was, “Aren’t you scared?” The truth is I am more afraid of clinging to my kids and my fears so tightly, that I thwart the Lord from doing a mighty work in their lives. In spite of my Mama-fears, I must hold my loved ones loosely.

Friday morning I waved goodbye again to the same son (now 16 years old) and his dad as they left for a Spring Missions trip to Mexico.

This morning I said goodbye to my 13-year-old baby.  He is serving the local Salvation Army, homeless, and planting trees at schools downtown with his Junior High youth group.


Sweet Baby Dane goes off to serve


I was hoping to go with him, at least drive a van load of kids back and forth. But through a series of events, I lent my van to a driver I don’t know, to be filled with hyper junior high kids. The thought of a hole punched in the seat or a shovel scraping the ceiling has crossed my mind.  But, I must also hold my van loosely.

Stones will hit the window while I drive it around the corner, rust will destroy it, and thieves may break in and steal it. Scripture reminds me, “Where my treasure is, there will my heart be also.”  So, I handed over my keys as an act of worship.

I am left feeling a little lost this morning.  A.J. and I are home alone for the week. It’s a funky feeling when most of your family is gone and you are left tooling around on your own. Normally I would welcome the time to myself, but I am feeling as though a large piece of my heart is gone.

Honestly though, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Opportunities abound for our kids to grow deeper in their walk with the Lord while serving the world.

So here are the strange prayers from a Mama learning to hold her loved ones loosely:

I pray they get dirty for God! I hope their fingernails get dirty from playing with children and planting trees.

I pray their bodies get smelly from living away from the conveniences of home but being filled up from serving the Lord.

I pray their hearts are broken as they encounter people who have so little. And their hearts stretched as they experience the joy of sharing the Good News and treating others as better than themselves.

I pray they build lasting friendships working side by side with like-minded kids. While they share in the work and the worship, I pray they would come back to their schools and sports teams and shine brighter together!

I pray they will feel uncomfortable or afraid, and step out of their comfort zone, take a step of faith, and watch God show up in personal and mighty ways!

When they feel tired and sore and lay in their sleeping bags feeling homesick, I am grateful they can’t text me. I pray they would lean upon God as their comfort and  provider.

This mom is holding her loved ones loosely today, trusting if I cling to my life I will lose it, but if I lose my life for Christ’s sake and the Gospel, I will save it (Mark 8:35).

I couldn’t have it any other way.


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I prayed for you today

I love this picture! She is a beautiful girl who is hungry for God!


I prayed for you today;  my sisters, disciples, friends.

I always pray as the Lord reminds me of your name or burdens my heart about you. I have learned to pray for you whenever I think of you, knowing the reminder is a quickening from the Holy Spirit to pray on your behalf.

Sometimes I learn why He put you on my heart and it serves as a lesson how the Holy Spirit is intimately caring and working for us.

Today I am reminded to pray for  you more often, more deliberately. You are the girls God placed in my life over many years.

You are the Freshman I prayed with as you received Jesus. I was a Senior.

You are the girls I laughed with in youth group as we talked about serious things like boyfriends, parents, and trusting Jesus. You are the girls  I met with each week in your parents’ home. We sat in a circle and prayed and shared and laughed and studied our Bibles. I watched you serve your high school friends, grapple with your convictions in dance class, and make daring life choices for Jesus. You were in your teens and I was in my 20’s…and 30’s.

You are the girls I drink coffee with each Sunday morning, or the women who are raising a new generation of American youth.

You confided with me and entrusted your soft hearts to me. I still don’t take that lightly. God entrusts us with the task to pass along our faith, to rightly represent Him through His Word. He convicts me to point you to His sufficiency alone.

Your family pictures and Christmas cards portray beautiful images of women living faithful lives. You are teachers, students, missionaries, stay-at-home Moms. You are community leaders, youth leaders, investing in your church. You are serving at camps, serving the poor, and raising godly boys and girls.

Your lives display a deeply rooted faith and hungry, God-honoring hearts. My heart is filled-up thinking about you.  So, I followed the words of Paul and prayed for you today (Colossians 1:9-12) —

that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding

May you continue to grow in your knowledge of God, so you will be filled with His presence. He will teach you to be wise in all things and help you understand how to live and respond throughout your day.

The word continue reminds me we must never become stagnant in our relationship with God. How can we be filled with spiritual wisdom and understanding if we are not in tune with the Lord?

Jesus, remind her today of her desperate need for You.

so that you may walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God;

We have talked a lot about this, haven’t we? Oh, may our lives be so filled with gratitude toward our Lord, that we walk in a manner worthy of Him! I pray your heart would long to please Him in every corner of your life.

Jesus, may she bear fruit in every good work, may she increase in her knowledge of You, and may You be honored today in her time, thoughts, work and worship.

strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience;

Jesus, You know what she is going through. Whatever financial, physical, or relational hardship she is facing, I claim Your strength upon her life. May she keep her mind fixed on You. You give strength when she feels weak and discouraged.

May she rely on Your power within to give her the ability to be steadfast and patient while You work all things out for her good.

joyously giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.

Thank You, Father. YOU have qualified us –by Your mercy, You consider us Not Guilty. We are able to share in the inheritance “which belong to His people who live in the light” (NLT).

I pray You would set a passion in her soul. May her love for You grow deep and spill out in every fiber of life. I pray You would stir in each of us the desire to be a living sacrifice to You–whatever that looks like–whatever it takes–

(because) You delivered us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of Your beloved Son, in whom we have redemption,

the forgiveness of sins. (!  Colossians 1:9-14)

Precious young woman, I thank my God upon every remembrance of you!

If you think this prayer is for you–you are right. You are in my heart, and I continue to take your name to the Throne.


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A woman of influence

Do those who influence our lives deliberately seek out to do so? So often we hear celebrities declare, “I don’t want to be your role model”.

The truth is, young people are watching, learning, being influenced by those positioned around them. Gratefully, in the raw years of my youth, I was surrounded by people who were aware of the influence they made.

I was sixteen, a new believer, standing in the pews among my high school friends. Challenged to sit in the front rows of our small but vibrant church, we were eager to do so. Sunday night worship was often open for testimonies and hymn requests. Different generations shouted out the page numbers to “It is Well with my Soul” and “How Great Thou Art”. I don’t believe I will ever forget the sound of humble voices singing passionately the words of the hymns.

“How can I say thanks for the things You have done for me?

Things so undeserved, yet You came to give Your life for me.

The voices of a million angels, cannot express my gratitude.

All that I am, and ever hope to be I owe it all to Thee.

To God be the Glory, To God be the Glory, To God be the Glory

For the things He has done….” (My Tribute)

Yesterday, I stood amongst this congregation again. Many faces and families have changed with age over the two decades I have been away. We came together to celebrate the life of a woman who lived her life well with Jesus.  I don’t recall specific conversations I did or didn’t have with Sheila Perlman. But, my sixteen year-old self recalls her voice ringing out above the rest as she sang, “Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say, it is well, it is well with my soul”. My young believer’s heart quietly prayed, “Jesus, I want to be that passionate for You. Help my heart sing these words in the trials of my life.”

Jesus has answered my heart’s prayer. I give credit to this older generation who embraced my formative young heart. I watched them humbly serve, I took mental notes of their public testimony to Christ’s love, and I followed in their examples.

Even in death, Sheila Perlman is a woman of influence, while her life speaks to me about leaving a legacy. As I read her obituary, it records decades of service to the Lord. Ministering to generation after generation; a life committed to passing on her faith. It is a testament of a life well lived. She served Jesus in humble quiet ways, like giving up her weekly paycheck to pay for others to have Bibles. She served Him in leadership roles. She served Him with humor and faithful living. In her 90’s, she delivered meals to the “elderly” and folded church bulletins each week.

People shared about Sheila’s selfless life, her commitment to praying for generations of individuals, her deep love for Jesus and her fresh gratitude for salvation. As I listened again to the words of “My Tribute”, my 48-year-old self prayed, “Lord, help me live with this same passion for You until my dieing day.”

I have a habit of writing my favorite quotes within the binding of my Bible. So, I was tickled to receive a handout with Sheila’s quotes from her own Bible. These quotes reflect the heart and drive of this godly woman.

  • What good am I if I can’t be a blessing to others?
  • God, fill me so completely with your Holy Spirit that even my reactions and sudden impulses are godly. I need this.
  • If you feed your faith your doubts will starve to death.
  • Our work is to cast care-God’s work is to take care (I Peter 5:7)
  • The little that we have, God can use.
  • I don’t fear what God brings into my life so much as I fear my response to it. Will I be faithful in tough situations?
  • Those who bless God in their trials will be blessed by God through their trials.
  • How will the knowledge of God affect my life this week?

Wow! The private words from a woman of influence. She lived what she believed.

Jesus, thank you from the depth of my heart, for spiritually parenting me with faithful saints. People who had no idea about the impact they made to a hungry heart and watching eyes.  Thank you for the life of Sheila Perlman. Oh, more of You, Lord Jesus, and less of me…so my life would cause others to thirst for You.


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I plan to ignore you

We had a snotty kid last night. He didn’t get his way and tried to make enemies out of all of us. The more we engaged him, the sharper his tongue became.

So, we disengage.

We call it “Planned Ignoring”: I plan to ignore you when you are unreasonable.

I know, this goes against our grain when a kid is disrespectful. We feel the need to stop them in their tracks. But, have you been in a  power play with a teen (or a toddler) who wants to be in control of everything? It is a lose-lose situation.

The mouthy attitude is an attempt to derail us; if we engage the word choices we are distracted from the initial issue at hand. So we plan to ignore the words –for now.

“Answer not a fool according to his folly,lest you be like him yourself,” Proverbs 26:4. I’m not saying my kid is a fool, but he definitely has his foolish moments—as do I.

We wanted to get away from him. But, the truth is, he needed to get away from the rest of us. So, he was sent to his room.

Calmly I said, “Go to your room now”.

Off he went while the rest of the family was able to continue on with dinner and homework and conversation.

The son who was silenced took out his phone weapon and began texting his attitude. The words were unkind for a usually kind boy. The words hurt.

But, we planned to ignore, “Answer not a fool according to his folly”. We had to give each other pep talks, “Don’t engage, wait until tomorrow”.

Engaging in the folly increases the fight and the need for both to win.

Waiting is difficult. We second guess ourselves in the recesses of our mind. But tomorrow, he will wake up calm. Tomorrow he will no longer be in fight-mode.

Early in the morning, I walked into his room and sat beside him in bed as I usually do. I played with his hair and spoke in a loving voice, “Are you up, son?” I rubbed his back. Love is unconditional.

When a child hurts a parent, a parent must love unconditionally. Besides, kindness is received unexpectedly when we know we deserve the opposite. Kindness heaps hot coals on our heads.

“I am taking your phone away for a few days”.


“You were disrespectful to your parents last night. You used your phone to send abusive messages.”

“I did?”

“You know what you did. You may have thought you could get away with talking like that last night, but you did not. There are consequences. You will receive your phone in a few days.”

Peacefully, I walked out of the room.

It was the right moment to address his folly, “lest he becomes wise in his own eyes” (Proverbs 26:5).

Planned ignoring is difficult. Finding the right consequences to fit the crime is not always easy. But probably the hardest thing for me as a parent, is not reacting in anger or hurt feelings in the heat of the moment.

Someone has to remain in control of the situation, and it is good to have a plan—a team-parent plan—to remain calm, steady and focused.

I spent  the next 24 hours in prayer. I’m praying for wisdom in our interactions, praying our boy will have a repentant heart so he can grow forward.

I’m praying for the prime moments to instruct a child about responding with respect next time he is in the heat of the moment.

Are you interested in knowing more about “Planned Ignoring” or would you benefit from support in your parenting choices? These resources may help you:

“The Secrets to Modern Day Parenting” linking modern solutions to everyday problems. Series information:

Exceptional Families Coaching: Practical and personal coaching to support you and give you tools for a flourishing family life:

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Bacon Jalapeno Appetizers

Whenever I have the opportunity to bring a potluck dish, I like to make goodies which are naturally gluten-free. No fussy gluten-free flours or special products are required, just natural ingredients everyone enjoys. Bacon Jalapeno Appetizers are a big hit!

I tripled this recipe, because I knew half of these goodies wouldn’t make it out the door! The recipe is simple with just 3 ingredients.

Bacon Jalapeno Appetizers

15 jalapeno peppers

2 (15 oz) packages of cream cheese

1 package of bacon

Makes 30 appetizers

Directions: Clean the jalapenos. Cut the stems, slice the jalapenos in half, and scrape out the seeds. (Remember to wear  plastic gloves to protect your hands from the burning oils)

Fill each jalapeno half with 1-2 teaspoons of cream cheese

Cut bacon in half, and wrap 1 half of bacon around each cream cheese filled jalapeno

Secure each appetizer with a toothpick.

Bake at 350. Place on a broiler rack coated with cooking spray for 25 minutes, or until crispy.

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Proverbs Vitamin: Family Mission Statement

“Through wisdom a house is built,

and by understanding it is established;

by knowledge the rooms are filled

with all precious and pleasant riches”   Proverbs 24:3-4

What images are evoked when you say the word, “home”? Do you smile and laugh as your mind wanders back to happy childhood memories?  Does your stomach turn as you try to push away the painful moments in your childhood home?

Regardless of your own childhood experience, you have the opportunity to build a home environment which reflects the love of God. You have the ability to determine whether your spouse and your children reflect upon “home” with feelings of warmth and a smile as they approach the front door. It doesn’t happen naturally or overnight, but it begins with a Family Mission Statement.

A Family Mission Statement helps you define the values you hold for home life. The Family Mission Statement reminds you to focus on this vision as you build your house.

Our Christensen Family Mission Statement centers upon Proverbs 24:3-4,

“Through wisdom a house is built, by understanding it is established, by knowledge the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches.”

We placed these verses on the front page of our wedding ceremony bulletin in 1990, and it is written in a prominent place in our home 21 years later. Who doesn’t want a home full of precious and pleasant riches — A place of rest and peace and laughter and acceptance? But, many of us do not know how to begin creating a rich environment for our families. Proverbs 24 gives us a concise plan to carry out our family mission.

Through wisdom a house is built.  Wisdom begins through the fear of the Lord. Wisdom is Christ Himself, who supplies us with all we need for living.  Relying upon our education or the cultural trends of the day will not build our home.  Christ is the Rock on which to build our personal lives and He is the foundation to build our family relationships.

By understanding it is established. The Holy Spirit guides us into understanding right and wrong. We can talk with Him daily about our child-rearing, our conflicts and concerns. We can ask Him for wisdom when our kids are in the middle of a tantrum or our spouse has lost their job. He will guide us to understand the needs of our family in light of Scripture. This understanding will establish our home!

By knowledge the rooms are filled. Knowledge is the love and practice of the wisdom and understanding that has been revealed. It includes grace and joy and living freely within the love of God. Our speech, our finances, our self-discipline and the way we discipline our children are all effected when we put to practice the wisdom of Christ.

The rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches.  Some people interpret these riches as material blessings. I have been in the most humble of homes and the poorest of countries, where material goods were not filling the rooms of the home. Instead, overflowing joy, laughter and generosity were pouring out from beautiful lives. These precious and pleasant riches cannot be given or taken away by the world. These are the riches of rest, unconditional love, spirits and minds at peace with one another because they are at peace with Christ.

This is the vision of “home” I hold for my family. It begins on the foundation of knowing Christ, it is established through understanding His ways. Through knowledge we learn practical ways to treat one another in the home, and our hearts and rooms pour out with blessing.

Allow God to help you form your Family Mission Statement. It will guide your family in purposeful ways and keep you on track throughout the child-rearing years.

Have you created a Family Mission Statement? Share your Mission with others.  Come back next week for specific and practical ways to apply your Family Mission Statement to daily life.


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