Toni Burns was raised in a missionary family, they lived in Italy until she was 11.Upon returning to the states her family worked in South Dakota. While in college at Oklahoma State Toni did a summer mission trip to Ukraine. The following year she moved to Lubbock, Texas to attend missions school.She interned in Kosice, Slovakia for 13 months.After her internship she finished missions school and got a degree in Human Development from Texas Tech.Toni and her family lived in Guadalajara, Mexicofor 10 years.During that time they helped plant churches and minister to the Mexican people.Toni and her husband, Cory, mentored 21 year long interns during their stay in Guadalajara.
Currently Toni is a Realtor® in Lubbock, Texas and enjoys ministering to those she helps buy and sell houses.
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Preparing for Summer Mission Trips
Summer is my favorite time of the year. I love the warm weather and traveling. Over half my life, I have been blessed to do mission work and travel to other countries. I have worked in Ukraine, Russia, Slovakia, Italy, and most recently spent ten years in Mexico.
There is no greater joy than traveling around God’s creation sharing Jesus with others. Many of you might be preparing to leave, or have a loved one leaving for summer mission trips. I would love to share some things with you that I have learned about missions to prepare you for this great experience.
1. The American way is not the only way.
Yes, we live in a great country and are very blessed in many ways. Please do not expect or want natives to act as Americans do. They are God’s creation just as much as you are, but they might do things differently than you do. It’s not a question of right or wrong–it’s just different. Embrace the differences and praise God that we are all different even though we are made in His image. Praise God for the diversity in cultures.
Enjoy the culture you are visiting. Try new foods, activities, and enjoy the sights.
2. Bless the people, but at the same time make your work simple and reproducible.
It’s fun to bless the natives with neat gifts and crafts from the United States. Just make sure that you are not making it an environment where they think the only way they can bless others is by having neat things that they might not be able to get. Help them see that sharing God’s message can be simple and is reproducible.
3. Don’t make promises you can’t keep.
You will fall in love with people and places on your trip. Please don’t tell them you will come visit or promise to send them gifts, etc. Remember, “let your yes be yes.” It is easy to build a deep love for those you will serve. As you leave you will want to promise them that you will see them again. Hopefully that is true, but realistically you might not ever get to go back. They will hold on to that promise and will be disappointed or bitter when you can’t fulfill your promise.
4. Be more like Jesus every day.
While living on the mission field my husband and I mentored twenty-one interns. One of the most important things we tried to instill in them was that being more like Jesus every day is all that is expected of them. God will do the rest. We go on these mission trips wanting to save the world. If we go with expectations of baptizing and converting we might come home feeling like a failure. This is one of the devil’s ways of discouraging the church. Did you come home more like Jesus? Do you have more of a vision for what God wants? Did others see Jesus through you? Don’t define your success with things that are out of your control.
5. Don’t expect those at home to understand what you have experienced.
You will come back a changed person. Unfortunately many people back home will not understand how life-changing the experience was. They might not even think to ask you about how it went. Before you leave, set up some times to meet with people when you come back. Maybe you can host a breakfast or lunch for your supporters, missions committee, and family. Plan times when you can talk about your experience so you can bless others with what you learned.
6. Have a great time and keep your eyes open to His blessings!
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The year was 1982. When I was twenty-seven years old, God began the breakthrough to His prodigal daughter. I was pregnant with our first child. Realizing that my husband and I were not capable of raising a child without God’s help, I decided to find a place to worship. I knew we needed to get back to God. A co-worker suggested a particular church so I went there. It’s difficult to walk into a place where you don’t know anyone, but I met a lot of “friendly strangers” that first visit. I was so happy to begin my walk with God again.
Each Sunday for the next few months, I encountered these “friendly strangers” once a week at worship, bible class, and other church activities. In my ninth month of pregnancy, I waddled down the aisle to the front pew, asking for prayers and to be restored and to become a member of that congregation. What a glorious day for me!
Just a few weeks after placing my membership, our first child was born. A few weeks later, one of the church ladies contacted me about hosting a baby shower for our baby girl at her home. I didn’t want to be impolite and ungrateful, so I agreed to it. But immediately, I started to think, who would I invite? My family lived out of state. I had a few friends from work who might come. This could be an embarrassing experience–a baby shower given in your honor and no guests! I begged my sister to travel from Tennessee to Houston for the baby shower. At least I would have her to share in my embarrassing moment.
On the evening of the shower, I was so nervous. My sister and I arrived early, and the hostesses were so kind and welcoming. I didn’t know all the hostesses, and they hardly knew me. It felt strange for these women to host my baby shower. I began to experience a lump in my throat which lasted throughout the evening. This act of love was a humbling experience. The table full of food triggered another anxious thought: Who is going to eat all this food they have prepared? If a few “friendly strangers” from church attended I would be so excited. And then I had another anxious thought: Who attends a shower for someone who is a mere acquaintance? I admit my head talk was crazy!
The next part of my story is God’s story! He showed me a beautiful picture of his church that night. As a baby Christian, I had never experienced an outpouring of love like this before. When the doorbell rang and guests began arriving, my nervousness turned to excitement. It continued to ring and soon women, both young and old, filled the home. These ladies came together to celebrate and encourage this new baby Christian and her newborn baby. Love, laughter, fellowship, friendship, and food filled not only the home, but my heart as well. God poured out his showers of blessings on me through these wonderful Christian women.
With each gift I opened, I fought back tears of joy for a beautiful church family, tears of joy for God’s sweet provision. This baby shower was God’s version of the feast He prepared for his prodigal daughter who had come home. I don’t remember conversations that night, or who attended, but I do remember how the church made me feel: loved and encouraged.
God used a baby shower that night to demonstrate his love, encouragement, grace, compassion, kindness, and hope. It reminds me of the song “My Story” by Big Daddy Weave.
This is my story, this is my song;
Praising my Savior all the day long!
Be encouraged by these posts as well!
I am a proud wife and Mother! My hubby, Tyler, and I both attended Oklahoma Christian where our love grew! We got married, had two beautiful kiddos, our son Gunner and daughter Brooklyn, and we are living a truly blessed life! I am currently a stay-at-home-mom and I help my husband in every way in his position as a youth minister (It's a true labor of love and we wouldn't be anywhere else!). I am also working on my teacher certification so when both my kids get into school I will have a job that I am passionate about, get to see my kids all the time, and will be out when they are out. I am most importantly a Christian and strive daily to keep God #1 because he is the reason I have all the amazing blessings, I give him all the praise!
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My Favorite Verse
Romans 12:12 (NIV) “Rejoice in hope, [be] patient in affliction, [be] faithful in prayer.”
I think that as I have grown there have been different verses that “speak” to me or become my favorite verse. When I first became a Christian at twelve, I loved John 3:16:
“For God so loved the world that he gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”
I still enjoy this verse. There is something about it that speaks to the world and most people know this verse…which is AWESOME!
I believe there are times that you read the Bible and God speaks to you. Verses that you have read before suddenly have a whole new meaning. We know that God shows us these in times of need, or to get us prepared for something, or to show us someone we can bless with God’s love.
Romans 12:12 has been my favorite verse for about six years now. It reminds me, quite simply, what to focus on and to show Christ in ALL I say and do.
Rejoice in hope:
Hope is something wonderful to have in anything you do! I have been known as the eternal optimist, and I love that. Most importantly I have hope that stems from the life I live in Christ. I have hope, no matter what the cost, no matter how good or bad the situation is. As long as I have hope and faith in God, He will take care of whatever it may be.
Patient in affliction:
I don’t know about you, but this is something I have to pray for daily because I seem to never have enough! Kids, marriage, LIFE, there are so many stresses that require a constant need of patience. This portion of the verse is very powerful, because it shows me that I can show God’s love by being patient. By being patient, it shows others that I am different, that I am set apart. Christ is shining through me.
Faithful in Prayer:
This should bring it home for all of us. How is your prayer life? I try my best to not only pray daily but have a constant communication with God because this is how we strengthen our relationship with God. How do you strengthen any relationship you have? As a wife, mother, and friend, I make a point to be a part of their life. I have communication with them on a daily basis to show that I love and care for that person.
My husband and I encourage our kids to pray for the sick, the good and bad situations, and also to pray for things that they might be struggling with, such as talking back or throwing a fit when they don’t get their way. When we bring it before God, we are putting our full faith in him that he will help us in whatever we need.
Contributing to the Needs of the Saints
Verse thirteen concludes by adding that Christians should be “contributing to the needs of the saints, [and] practicing hospitality.” I love that this verse solidifies what we have focused on. By focusing on others’ needs and showing love and care to everyone we encounter, we are given daily opportunities to demonstrate how we rejoice in hope, have patience in trials, and are faithful in prayer.
What a wonderful world it would be if we would facilitate love, patience, and hospitality to all we know! Let’s be prayerful and focus on these words that God has gracefully given to us and simply show more of God’s love to all we see.
We want to hear from you! Do you have a favorite Bible verse?
I am an Oklahoman by birth, a Texan by current living situation, but claim the world as my playground.I love to travel and hope to someday soon take our family on adventures to far off lands, where we can share God with others and experience all the wonders He has created.
I am a mother of 5 crazy, homeschooling children ages 10 & under, wife to an amazing man, and daughter of the King of the Universe!I enjoy reading, making my kids laugh, cooking, all things natural, learning to play guitar and dusting off my piano skills.One day I hope to run again, but until then I’m learning patience.
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Growing up we swung our pointer fingers wildly in the air while loudly, proclaiming, that we will shine our light all over whatever town we lived in!
Can we really look at ourselves in the mirror today and proclaim that we are doing that very thing? Or are we hiding our light unwillingly?
Why Should You Stop Hiding Your Light?
Well, this question is very easy to answer. It’s the answer all 3 year olds declare as the answer to everything ever asked in Bible Class: “Jesus!”
Yes, we shouldn’t hide our light because Jesus told us not to. In Luke 11: 33, Jesus says,
No one lights a lamp and puts it in a place where it will be hidden, or under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, so that those who come in may see the light.
Shine, friends, Shine! Don’t hide Jesus’ light that is in you!
Stop Hiding Your Light
Sometimes we do have a tendency to hide our lights. Why?
Because shining Christ’s light draws attention to us. It draws both positive and negative attention. Who wants negative attention? We are called to shine no matter what kind of attention we receive.
Moses Hid His Light
God used Moses in many amazing ways and one of those ways is for us to learn what not to do. Oh please, don’t get me wrong, Moses’ faith was amazing! He taught us how to follow God’s leading even when we are too scared to do it. But like us, he wasn’t perfect.
Sometimes he struggled as a leader to keep from letting the people’s reactions and actions bring him down.
We never let what other’s think bother us though do we? Of course, that crosses our minds sometimes. We can’t help it. We are human.
Although we want to please God rather than man, sometimes the human voices are screaming us down and we just want them to back off. It becomes at that point that we don’t want to stand out in a crowd any more than we already do.
Moses may have felt a similar way. When he had the privilege of being in God’s presence, he came back down from Mt. Sinai glowing. Literally, his face was shining! But then he covered it!
When Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the covenant law in his hands, he was not aware that his face was radiant because he had spoken with the Lord. When Aaron and all the Israelites saw Moses, his face was radiant, and they were afraid to come near him…
When Moses finished speaking to them, he put a veil over his face.
– Exodus 34:29-33
Reading this makes my heart said, and then it convicts me! Do I ever hide my light?
What will you let shine?
It’s interesting that in the rest of this passage Jesus explains that our eyes are the light of our body and we will be shining something. Jesus then urges us not to shine darkness! Until I reread that a couple of times, I did not realize that we had there was a third option:
- Hid Christ’s light
- Shine Christ’s light
- Shine the light of darkness
Oh, this gets me even more worked up? Doesn’t it you?
When we come into the presence of God, we are changed! That is what we want. We want to look less like ourselves, less like the world, and more like Christ himself. So when we are spending time with our Lord in his word, in prayer, and walking with him in our daily life, we will look different. Our light will be different.
But if we spend our time in the things of this world, as followers of Christ, we will hid our light or our light will start to dim.
Don’t shine darkness!
Who of us wants to shine for the devil? No one…willingly! Well, let’s say no follower of Christ willingly.
But that is very much what we will be doing if we are not shining for Christ. So let’s determine to be in God’s word.
#1 We must make sure we are shining the right light.
#2 – Let’s refuse to hid Christ’s light. Let’s ask for courage and boldness to stand strong even when the voice of popular opinion is speaking loudly against us.
This world is not our home, sisters! Shine brightly!
Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life.
Philippians 2:14-16a, emphasis added
Prayer Over our Hearts
Lord, you say whoever willingly acknowledges you before others, will be acknowledged by you before your Father and whoever disowns you, will be disowned before your Father.
Lord, we want to be a people that shine brightly for you like the stars in the sky. We do not want to hide your glory and your imprint on our lives.
Let us not be swayed by whatever the popular opinion is of the time, but let us be rooted in your truth. Leaning into your truth might lead us into a path of public ridicule, but if that happens, we can trust in your strength to walk us through it.
In the One who took lashings, mockery, death on the cross, and overcame death so we could walk in confidence – Amen!
Hey! While most of my life was spent in Colorado, I am happy to now call Oklahoma my home. I am amazingly blessed to have a supportive and God-fearing husband who is also a terrific dad to our four kiddos (who we had in a 3 year 9 month time frame). I love to drink coffee, sing, hear people’s stories and have dance parties. I am passionate about my relationship with Jesus and desire to share that gift with every person that I meet. My hope is that I can encourage someone today with and through the Word of God and His steadfast love. ::psalm 27:4::
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I’m a People Person
When I say that I love people, I mean that…I LOVE PEOPLE. Just being around new people or in a group setting gets me excited. Does anyone out there feel the same way? There is just something so fun and refreshing about seeing new faces, hearing everyone’s stories, and growing relationships. It’s truly the main reason why I love hosting large parties or get-togethers. I will invite a good chunk of my phone book, for no other reason than I genuinely want to share life with others. Sure, it may increase the budget for the party, but if there is something to celebrate, I want others to share in it with us! Why not, right?
I have always sincerely believed that the more people you surround yourself with, the more encouragement and joy there will be in your life. Truly a “the more, the merrier” mentality.
For over thirty years I have never seen a problem with being wired that way…that is, until lately. As I started to think about planning birthday parties for my kids and summer BBQs and began looking at our list of “friends” to invite, I realized that while they may be on our guest list, we may not be on theirs.
** Now, before you think that this is turning into a big ol’ pity party, I can assure you it’s not. So please don’t give up on me yet! **
Believing Lies Based on Missed Expectations
The truth is, I am a sinful human being and am guilty of reacting in my flesh frequently, so I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t initially feel hurt, betrayed, and bitter at one person’s “oversight” of my feelings. This weird encounter (which truly did nothing more than leave me feeling awkward), completely opened the floodgates of undealt with emotion from over the years. It’s as though I had a flip book of memories and times where I was hurt by a friend flipping rapidly through my mind, taking my thoughts to extremes and probably exaggerating what really happened by 1000%.
Y’all, my mind was out of control. I truly was walking with some nasty lies. Thankfully, my wonderful mentor (mom), was there to listen to me ramble as I talked myself in circles until the truth punched me in the face: IT WAS MY FAULT.
You heard (or rather, read) that right: The pain I felt was actually my fault. Why? MISSED EXPECTATIONS. Here is the hard truth I had to receive:
Any expectation I placed on another was a setup for relationship failure from the beginning.
The moment I decided what type of friend they should be to me was the moment I became less of a true friend myself. I focused on how they treated me, rather than on their heart and how I should treat them.
A Godly, yet Complicated Friendship
Of course, as with everything, the Holy Spirit oh-so-graciously reminded how I was wrong and pointed me to the Word and the friendship between Jonathan and David. You guys, talk about a complicated relationship. You can read all about it in 1 and 2 Samuel, but this passage about this one selfless act essentially sums up how Jonathan was a true friend, despite all the circumstances and trials that the two faced.
“… Jonathan became one in spirit with David, and he loved him as himself… And Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as himself. Jonathan took off the robe he was wearing and gave it to David, along with his tunic, and even his sword, his bow, and his belt.”
1 Samuel 18:1-4
I love how Beth Moore puts this into perspective…
“Clearly Saul intended for Jonathan to become the second king of Israel (1 Sam 20:30-31), but this son had other plans. In David, Jonathan saw character fit for a king. He was so determined that the throne be occupied by God’s chosen instrument that he offered everything he had…Jonathan sacrificed himself. He removed his royal regalia…and placed it on David.”
Jonathan literally gave up everything to help encourage and support his friend David in all that God had called him to be. Nowhere does it say that David ever reciprocated that love and sacrificed as Jonathan had, yet Jonathan remained loyal to his friend. Better yet, Jonathan remained loyal to God.
You see, it shouldn’t matter how others treat us.
If God has placed on our hearts to love, support, and walk with someone as a friend (Amos 3:3), we need to be faithful to that calling, not only in the good seasons, but also in the hard ones. This isn’t about how they make us feel, but rather about being who God has called each one of us to be and how we are to make others feel.
“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works… encouraging one another…”
I still love people and will continue to throw huge celebrations. The difference is, when I call someone friend, it holds no expectation of them. It simply acknowledges that regardless of their choices or how they may treat me, I will continue to welcome, love, and encourage them as Christ does me.
“May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.”
So what do you say, friend?
Are you willing to take the road less traveled and pursue a life of obedience to the Lord in seeking out the welfare and accomplishments of others over yourself, even if that means giving while never receiving? To be that selfless, abiding friend like Jonathan, full of love and encouragement so that he/she may pursue who God has called them to be?
Toni was born and raised in a small town in Oklahoma.She graduated from East Central University with a Bachelor's of Science Degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Economics.After college, she returned to her hometown to marry her best friend, Charles.Toni is a stay at home mom to their three teens, two boys and a girl, whom God led them to homeschool.Her goal is to raise her children to love and serve the Lord.They live on a farm where they grow produce to sell at several farmers markets.She also plays the piano at church and teaches piano.
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Maybe I am a little strange but I love washing my sheets. Well, maybe that is an overstatement. I do not really like doing laundry, but I love clean sheets. I love the crisp feel of getting into a bed with freshly washed sheet. My goal is to wash my sheets twice a week but I usually only get it done once every week to ten days.
The Simple Joy of Clean Sheets
Almost every time I wash sheets, as we are getting into bed, I announce to my husband that it is clean sheets night. Even on our last vacation I admitted that while I hated staying in hotels, I love the clean sheets! Hotel sheets are crisper than even my home laundered sheets. I love that crisp feel.
That crisp, clean sheet feel only lasts a couple of days. After that there is nothing special about them. The clean, fresh feeling has worn off as we sleep on them and the grime and dead skin comes off our bodies and settles into our sheets. It is gradual and I do not think about it until it is clean sheets night again.
The Spiritual Connection
Our Spiritual lives are much like this. We go to Christian conferences, retreats, concerts, read an inspirational Christian book, or just go to a worship service on Sunday morning. We feel rejuvenated; we recommit ourselves; we feel better about ourselves; “we feel clean.”
As the days pass, that “new”, “clean” feeling wears off. We forget about what rejuvenated us, we fall into our old patterns. I know that I have been to conferences that have really affected me. I come up with all these ideas of how I am going to change and the things I am going to do. After a few days, I get sidetracked and forget about my plans. We let the world back in until we do something else that inspires us.
We do not always keep our focus. We should start our day in the Word. We should pray without ceasing (1 Thess. 5:17). Staying connected to our Father through out the day will keep us going in the right direction. We should not wait until we feel like dirty sheets to go to God. Stay connected with Him and every moment will be “clean sheets day”.
Is it just me or does anyone else like clean sheets night?