I was born in Denver, Colorado. I moved to OKC after quitting my jobs as a teacher and YouthIntern to pursue the call into ministry. I started as a non traditional student at Oklahoma where I met my husband. He was a non traditional student working on a 2nd degree after moving from Poland to pursue a degree in Ministry. We dreamed together of serving the Lord in Europe. Now we are blessed to be witness to the awesome way that God works all over the world. We live in Vienna, Austria with our3 kids. We work with Eastern European Mission. We provide Bibles and ethics materials in native languages of Eastern Europe. That means we get to seeGod's hand and providence all over Europe. I am Publishing Assistant at EEM and a fitness trainer. I fill my days caring for my family, teaching gym classes and designing book covers and working on details to provide quality materials to those who need God's word. In my free time I paint, cook, make jewelry and run 2 blogs.
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We are missionaries, but a good portion of what we do is missionary support. As we travel, we are blessed to see the many different ways the Lord works around the world. We also have the pleasure of getting to know, support, and encourage the awesome people who are joining him in his work.
I often hear people wondering and discussing reaching out to missionaries. There are some very simple and practical things you can do as individuals, families, and Bible classes to encourage a missionary.
Five Ways to Encourage a Missionary
First and foremost, PRAY. Knowing that you have people lifting you and your work up to the Lord is a powerful motivator.
Stay in Contact with the Missionary
COMMUNICATE. If you do take the time to pray, tell the missionary. Knowing that someone is thinking of you, can change the course of an entire day or week. Loneliness is one of the most common things missionaries experience.
Show an Interest in Their Lives
When missionaries visit, TAKE TIME TO LEARN ABOUT THEIR LIVES. Listen to the stories, ask about the culture, challenges, triumphs, and needs. It is hard enough coming back. No one likes to feel that no one notices or cares.
Send a Thoughtful Note
In this technologically driven world, receiving a handwritten note in the mail is like finding hidden treasure. Again, this shows that we haven’t been forgotten and that we matter. Take the time to SEND A HANDWRITTEN NOTE.
Send a Special Care Package
MAKE A SEASONAL CARE PACKAGE. Celebrations vary around the world. They are also so much a part of culture that being a part of them becomes a part of who you are at times. Many missionaries miss these moments the most. Be mindful of the season and make a holiday care package. Send some things from home that are seasonal. For example: candy corn at Halloween, Peeps at Easter and candy canes at Christmas. If there are kids, a few stickers could bring happiness for days. Even better, send things that aren’t so easy to get outside of the US. Here are a few common things people miss:
- Canned Pumpkin
- Evaporated Milk
- Peppermints (that don’t taste menthol)
- Brown Sugar
- Seasonal Napkins
- Cranberry Sauce
- Girl scout Cookies
Whatever you do or think of will be a blessing. These are just ideas to help get you started.
What are some things you have done or heard about in regards to encouraging missionaries?
I am a happy wife and mother to my amazing husband and beautiful little girl and we are living the good life just outside of Oklahoma City. I was born and raised in Houston, Texas where both of my parents serve as ministers. With God’s great guidance, I ended up earning a degree in children’s ministry from Oklahoma Christian University! I am an extrovert and love to make friends and have deep conversations. My days are filled with the duties of motherhood and homemaking but when I find a moment to myself I enjoy reading cookbooks, blogs, and Karen Kingsbury’s books. I have a slight addiction to facebook and pinterest. Holidays are my favorite days. I love to cook meals that make people happy. I have a passion for family ministry and bible class teaching. Most importantly, my greatest desire to is to know my heavenly Father more each day.
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What does your morning look like? Do you jump out of bed, heading straight to the window? Or maybe you’re more like me and you press snooze several times before slowly dragging yourself to the coffee maker. You might be busy getting ready for work, meeting the needs of your family, or you might be in a season of life that offers a more relaxed approach. Regardless of how our mornings might look, there is one morning ritual we can all benefit from, and that is acknowledging God’s presence.
I am certainly not a natural morning person, but I do enjoy waking up early to have quiet time with God. I usually start my quiet time with a cup of coffee and a short verse before diving into my prayer journal and Bible study. A scripture beforehand helps me meet God, and remember who He is before I enjoy His presence.
But you don’t have to enter a long study with the Father to find encouragement from a short psalm in the morning. To be honest, I’m not always diligent about making time for morning devotion. I could pour out excuses about the distractions I face with motherhood, but the truth is that I found excuses before I became a mom too. The devil prowls around, wanting to pull us away from our Father however he can. All the more reason why we need to meet with Jesus as we start our day!
With the new year, I have, like many others, set a goal to be more disciplined in my devotion and study time. It is always good to prioritize some quiet time with the Lord! Sometimes, though, we can get discouraged. When we don’t know how to shell out an hour we just give up. God is so much more merciful than we give Him credit for! Yes, He wants us to give him time. He wants us in his Word. That should be more important to us than anything, but there is power in His name. Simply taking a short moment to recognize His presence at the beginning of each day can give us so much power as we go forward. Power to live for him! A short psalm is a wonderful way to acknowledge our Father God.
I want to encourage you to make time every morning to acknowledge God. (I’m encouraging myself to remember this as well!) You don’t have to start out with a long study. Start simple, with a verse and a short prayer. Maybe the morning isn’t a good time for you to focus, and you want to have quiet time later in the day. If so, that is awesome! There is still something so wonderful about taking a moment to meet God in the morning. Our little girl loves to see her daddy in the morning. Her eyes get big and she grins from ear to ear as she runs toward him. My husband loves these greetings. I think that’s how our heavenly Father wants to meet us each day.
So write these verses down or type them in your phone! Read one as you wait for your coffee to brew, dry your hair, nurse your baby, before you start your quiet time, or even before you hop out of bed. I pray they will encourage you as you begin your days!
Five Encouraging Psalms to Start Your Day
Psalm 90:14 Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.
Psalm 46:5 God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day.
Psalm 143:8 Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life.
Psalm 23:5 My cup overflows with blessings. (NLT)
Psalm 139:18 And when I wake up, you are still with me! (NLT)
There are verses all over the Bible (not just from Psalms) that can offer encouragement in the morning! Which Bible verses do you enjoy waking up to?
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 4 crazy, homeschooling children ages 9 & 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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Valentine’s Day is supposed to be the most romantic day of the year. I perceive it differently.This perception has inspired me in how I love.
As a child we had fun with it. Getting to choose, who got which valentine’s card and what treat went with it.Taking the time to make cards that weren’t perfect but heartfelt.
My Valentine’s Day Confession
As I grew, my fondness for Valentine’s day wore off. My girlfriends and I would gather together to have anti-Valentine’s Day parties. We would make cookies with black frosting and celebrate our friendship even if we were dating someone at the time. We were determined not to let one day determine whether or not love was in the air.
That has seemed to carry on into my marriage as well. I no longer make cookies and frost them with black icing but my husband knows that gifting me something on the day doesn’t thrill me. That sounds kinda rude or mean, but the truth of the matter is because this day seems commercially forced upon us, it feels more like a day of obligation than of love.
I’d rather have a year full of small expressions of love than a day of forced love. If this day was not called Valentine’s Day would there still be a compulsive out flowing of love?
What does our “love” look like to God?
I wonder how often God looks down on our time of worship and pines for our love to flow throughout the week instead of just seeing it expressed for a couple of hours. Do we pray, read our Bibles, sing songs, or even worship with the church out of obligation and compulsion or because we can’t help but express our love that way?
That has to be part of the reason why God gave us the choice to love Him. Forced love is no love at all but simply submission to what has to be.
Real love is willing to sacrifice itself and die to self for the sake of another.
“I will find you!”
My husband and I have a running joke. Sometimes, when we say good-bye or don’t know when we will see each other again because of hectic schedules, we will say in a husky voice, “I will find you!” (Think Daniel Day Lewis in The Last of the Mohicans, my favorite movie.)
This simple phrase when said, not only makes us laugh, but conveys the thought that no matter what is going on, we will be there for each other. We will go after and sacrifice ourselves for each other, if need be.
Jesus came from heaven to earth to find us! He came to save us long before we ever realized we need saving. He knocks on our door and we get to choose whether or not we open our hearts to receive his love and love Him back.
A Valentine’s Day Question
As you ponder what love is on this day, will you ask yourself this question:
Are you loving God and willing to sacrifice your life for Him, or are you just going through the motions because you feel this is something you need to do?
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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“Then the LORD said to him,
‘This is the land I promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob when I said,
‘I will give it to your descendants.’
I have let you see it with your eyes, but you will not cross over into it.’”
– Deuteronomy 34:4
I have read this passage about God speaking to Moses multiple times. Every time, all I have ever seen was the love of God as He let Moses actually see the Promised Land even though he wouldn’t be able to enter into it (Numbers 20:12). Blame it on my optimism or my view of God, but I have never looked beyond that sweet act of mercy. It was almost as if God had told Moses:
“I made a promise years ago and you have always trusted in that promise.
You may not have understood where I was leading you, but you always followed.
I led you into a land of unknown for forty years and you never stopped seeking Me.
It is because of this that I will show you what I said was true.
I want you to know, my son, that I always have been and always will be faithful to my people.”
How could you not be overwhelmed with the grace and love of God in that moment? He is so good to us even though we don’t deserve it. Because of this great truth, I looked at the passage differently last week when I read it. I could not help but look beyond God’s blessing and look at God Himself, as Moses did. Even though he knew he would not inherit the blessing of the Promised Land, he continued to trust and serve the Lord. Just knowing God was enough reason for Moses to obey all those years spent wandering in the wilderness. It didn’t matter where he was going or what God would give him in the end. If God said “Go,” Moses started walking.
Of course, God, in all his perfect timing, placed this truth on my heart in a season where there are many unknowns and uncertainties of what lies ahead. In a season like this, doubt and fear can easily infiltrate my heart if I do not hold on to God’s promises. Friend, if you find yourself in the same season of life, my hope and prayer is that these words the Lord placed on my heart would also encourage you…
“I made a promise years ago and I need you to trust in that promise.
You may not understand where I am leading you, but I need you to follow.
While I lead you into a land of the great unknown, never stop seeking Me.
I will show you what I said was true.
I want you to know, my daughter, that I always have been and always will be faithful to my people.”
So what do you say, beloved?
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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Have you ever felt like God was trying to tell you something? I have had one of those weeks. God spoke to me four different times in one week about LOVE!
I serve on a planning committee for a Christian women’s conference. To promote the conference, some of the committee appeared as guests on a local radio station, and the main speaker called in. She said that she would be speaking on love and forgiveness. When she said this, I felt a quickening in my spirit. I was not sure why or what He was trying to tell me, but I was listening.
When she spoke at the conference a few days later, she started with the traditional, “God is love.” But, then she flipped that around: “Love is God.” True love is God through His sacrifice of His Son for our sins. I continued to listen. She went on to talk about the ongoing process of forgiveness. I still was not sure where this was going for me, but I was beginning to get some ideas.
The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.
1 John 4:8 (NASB)
The next day at church, the preacher began his sermon, and guess what it was about? Love! We need to be doing things out of love. 1 Corinthians 16:13-14 states, “Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.” He continued with Ephesians 4:15, “but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ.” We should do everything in love. This is sometimes difficult to do, especially when we feel we have been wronged.
Three days later, I went to a funeral. I will not go into details, but the grieving family demonstrated such an outpouring of love and forgiveness. This was so emotional. Despite the grief this family was experiencing, they were concerned enough and loved someone else enough to make sure he knew that he was loved and that the family harbored no ill feelings.
From the events of this week, I learned so much, including the realization that I do not always do things out of love; I do a lot out of obligation. In my words and actions, I do not always show love. I also realized that there were people that I thought I had forgiven but unforgiveness had crept back in. I had previously been on guard for it, but I had let my guard down. God really spoke to me this week and I know there is more I need to work on and probably more that I will get out of it.
Do you do things out of love?
Has God spoken to you about anything recently?
Hello! I am a native So Cal resident. Human Resources by day, but more importantly Mom to a teenage boy who I often refer to as "Man-child".
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Single Parent Broken Home Redeemed
This is personal, from the heart and the message is hope. If only one single parent reads this and is encouraged it’s mission accomplished.
As a single mom I often feel like the odds are stacked against my son and I. We go through seasons where it seems like we are gaining ground, almost catching up to what seems like everyone else’s normal. Then in my fear, anxiety and exhaustion I lose sight of God’s promise that he will never leave or forsake us and the next thing I know I feel like we are back in a season of failure.
I’m coming to know it as the broken home mindset. Whether it is our living situation, finances, or grades I always feel like there is a “them” and “us” dynamic. Always.
Them = the family that has a husband and wife working as a team, with kids blossoming as a result.
Us =Me unprepared hoping for the best and my kid trusting me to know what the heck I’m doing. (I don’t.)
I constantly have to remind myself that our culture’s measure of success is not God’s design. Is raising my son in a broken home God’s design? No. But, since coming to faith I have learned that our home is only as broken as I allow it to be.
Faith Gives Me Power
Faith gives me power over the heavy reality that I cannot change the past. I cannot undo divorce. I cannot erase the hurt it has caused my son. But I can trust God not to waste the pain, that is the power of the grave. I can trust God to use our story of redemption to encourage others who carry the same burden. I can trust God, period.
I am constantly evaluating the ways my household does not measure up. And I’m often frustrated that our wins seem short lived, I’ll be honest that’s how I’m feeling as I type this. Add to that the guilt I feel for having these thoughts because we are blessed in so many ways! We have so much to be thankful for, but the grass is always greener, right? It’s completely unrealistic for me to compare my home to households that have more resources to accomplish the things that I only wish I could. It’s easy to see my son and I at a disadvantage. But I’ve never encountered a resource more life changing than God himself. Where is the disadvantage in that?
Even still, the “if only” scenarios come in waves. The waters calm for longer periods of time, I’m so thankful for that. But the reality of this life is that those waves are unpredictable in their nature and their ebb and flow is cause for many sighs. I cannot just decide one day that I will never again feel sorry for myself. That’s just not possible. There are too many seemingly picture perfect families around me for that to happen, and my core sin is envy. (I know I know, no family is perfect… envy people. It has no filter). However, I can promise to look up and surrender those moments of weakness to the God who promises this…
For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11 (NLT)
Calling Out These Thoughts
For transparency sake, and in case someone is reading this feeling isolated by the thoughts that lead us astray, let’s just call out a few of the thought patterns that create the divide and give life to “us” and “them”.
Guilt – “If only I had done [insert long list of regrets] differently, my son would have a better life.” (Right. Because it doesn’t take two to tango.)
Outcast – “My family doesn’t do divorce. Hardly any of my friends are divorced. How did I end up like this? Where do I fit in?” (According to the CDC website, the provisional number of divorces and annulments in the US were 879,000 the year I became a single mother. Looks like I’m not alone after all.)
Unworthy – “I know I’m not worthless as in worth nothing, but I seem to be worth less.”
But you are the ones chosen by God, chosen for the high calling of priestly work, chosen to be a holy people, God’s instruments to do his work and speak out for him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference he made for you—from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted. 1 Peter 2:9-10 (MSG)
From a worldly standpoint it may appear that single parent homes are broken homes. But friends, if God has used this trial to bring you to the foot of the cross and you are raising your kids to know and love Jesus and you are living your life in pursuit of God, then wouldn’t you call that a broken home redeemed? You’d be crazy not to.
Here is what you need to do when that broken home mindset kicks in:
- Take those thoughts captive that say you are “less than”.
- Say the name of Jesus out loud and claim power over the lies that set you back in your moments of weakness. (Those moments will come, but you aren’t powerless against them.) Ask God to replace those lies with truth.
We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 2 Cor 10:5 (NIV)
You’ve got this, and Gods got you.