Blog

FEAST Executive Director, Linda Whiten

July 

As a mom, I have been blessed with the opportunity of homeschooling my children. Along with that blessing came many responsibilities and obligations. After getting fully immersed in the task, I began to think ahead; played the “what if” game, and doubted myself at every turn. The result of this was me being plagued with fear, and overcome with worry about things that might happen, or not happen. The fear became a thief: it robbed me of my time, my joy and my peace. The more I tried to do to offset my shortcomings, the more bogged down I felt. The fear seemed to paralyze me…over things that never came to pass. According to Webster’s Dictionary, fear is defined as a painful emotion or passion excited by an expectation of evil, or the apprehension of impending danger.
The entanglement of my life was so hard to walk through. I tried to fix it and make it better, but everything I tried fell short. Then I found the truth in God’s word,

“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of POWER, and of LOVE, and of a SOUND MIND.” II Timothy 1:7

It was not mine to fix. I needed only to keep my mind on Christ and He would take care of the rest. I remember feeling the stress leaving my body, the pain from tension leaving my jaw and the nausea going away. What a blessing it was to be relieved of the grip of fear.

“Thou wilt keep him in PERFECT PEACE, whose mind is stayed on THEE: because he trusteth in Thee.” Isaiah 26:3

Once you realize that God will take care of you, He is Good and He loves you, you will find that a peace will come over you that money can’t buy. If you are struggling with fear, spend time with the Lord, in His Word, singing praises to Him. It will turn your life around.


June

“ Then he said unto them, Go your way, EAT THE FAT, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared: for this day is HOLY unto our LORD: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the LORD is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10

 

When I say the word summer, what is the first thing that comes to mind? Vacation? Swimming? Camping? Family time? Regardless of the specific activity that comes to mind, I would venture to say they all have the same common denominator…” FUN”.
I would like to challenge you to find fun in the daily tasks. If summer is on 25% of our year, does this reflect the percentage of time that we have fun?


“This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24
Make chores fun! If you turn household chores into a game, the children will forget they are working and will enjoy the game. Here are a couple of ideas for you to try:
1. Treasure Hunt Clean Up – When it is time to clean up, tell the children that there are hidden treasure and the only way they will discover them is to clean up the playroom, or their room, etc. (You will have previously hidden in secret some small things that your children like; coins, candy, toys or handmade coupons redeemable for their favorite dessert). You add the fun!
2. Bull’s-Eye – Create a bull’s-eye for your children when teaching them to sweep. Using painters tape, mark a target for them on the floor. Tell them to sweep all the crumbs onto the target. This will help them learn to sweep and have fun while doing it.
For all you “year round” homeschool moms, simply announce that when everyone is finished with their school work, we will all go in the back yard and play in the water sprinkler. (Remember those?) The kids will think you have a new invention and it makes a fun bonus for a strong school day finish.
What about your personal time with the Lord? Is it a chore? Why not make it fun? He is your Lord and Savior. This should be the time of day that you get your cup filled by Him. Get a concordance and do a word study on “JOY”. The Lord loves us and wants us to be happy. Go ahead – Smile! It’s contagious! 

 

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MAY
As a kid, I always dreamed of being a gymnast. The girl who lived next-door took gymnastics, and when she would come home from her gymnastics practice I would go over and she would teach me everything she learned that day. It was so much fun to learn to do all the elements of gymnastics: handstands, handsprings, flips and everything she could learn, she would show me. We would work up routines on the balance beam (built by her father and installed in her back yard). We also had a routine for the floor mats (which was the beautiful carpet grass). Her backyard became our little gymnastics world. We had so much fun. One of the things that her mom was always insistent about was that one would spot the other. This meant whichever person was doing the routine, the other person would spot them or act as a protector to make sure that they did not fall or lose their balance or get hurt. Of course, I don’t think in the heat of the moment that we realized the importance or value of the spotter. Most likely we realized the worth of the spotter when trying a new maneuver. We would always crash to the ground and appreciate the fact that the crash landing would have been worse without the spotter.

As I grew up and maneuvered through life, I found that I was developing many spotters.
1. Some were in my personal life, helping me with the development of my personality, my character traits, and all the components that made me the person I was becoming.
2. Some were in my home school life, helping me to develop a good work ethic. As I began to teach my boys, instilling a love of learning and a love of the Father in them. I would rely on my spotter to ensure that I was on a path of not only educating my children but teaching them to have a heart for the things of the Lord.
3. Some were in my spiritual life, helping me to learn to have faith, to trust in the Lord and to share that faith with others.
Today, as we look forward to a new maneuver with FEAST, I realize more than ever, the importance and value of Christ as our spotter. He is there if we fall, lose our balance, or get hurt. He wants what is best for the FEAST Home School Families and His children. Just as there are many unknowns with the move, our home schooling, and life, we must first place our trust in Him.

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How is Your VISION?
It Depends on
How You Look at it!

“The EYES OF THE LORD
are in every place,

BEHOLDING the evil & the good.” Proverbs 15:3

April
Generally speaking, I think that most people take their vision for granted. Even if you grew up wearing glasses or contacts, you probably had days where you took it for granted as you could see clearly with your prescription. I never had problems until I turned 48 and I had to get “readers”. After that, every 12- 18 months I had to get stronger glasses, yet, I still took my vision for granted. That changed this year as my sight has declined to the point where I can read hardly anything without glasses. So I find myself in the position of having the worst eyesight of my life, yet appreciating it more than I ever have before.

“…I still took my vision for granted.”

I also have had issues with my spiritual sight. The good news is that I don’t need contacts or glasses for this to be corrected. All it takes is a little time with my Lord and a little time in His Word. The more time I spend with Him, the closer my relationship becomes and the better my vision. Here are the ways that my spiritual aptitude can have a positive effect on my vision:

“All it takes is a little time with my Lord…”

• I can see things in myself that need to be corrected; impatience, misaligned priorities, mishandling money, etc.
• I can see others as Christ sees them so that I may interact with them in His love; God orchestrates our step and puts people in our lives daily to whom we can minister and be a blessing.
• It can prevent blind spots (where we don’t want to see things in our children and admit that the cause was because of their parents) Sometimes things are revealed in the actions of our children, and we can pin point it back to things we did not teach them well. The good news is: we are all a work in progress. Since we are still alive, we can still learn, which leaves time to correct.
• It can improve your home schooling vision (without pretenses, barriers and unreasonable expectations, we can educate our children in truth). Trusting God for the things we cannot see. We trusted God enough to make the decision to home school, and God will guide, sustain, and see us through.

“Since we are still alive, we can still learn, which leaves time to correct.”

So, consider your tool box equipped with the best glasses ever! They are God’s glasses. They will help us see and understand things. Use them to be all that God has designed you to be. Ask God to open your eyes and restore the vision that he has for your life. Be the salt and light, in your home, your neighborhood, your home school.

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March

“This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope. It is of the LORD’s mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is Thy faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:21-23

My family loves amusement parks. The parks usually have a line-up of rides that will thrill each member of our family. My husband likes the steel roller coasters, while my sons like all of them, including the traditional wooden roller coasters. My personal favorite is the suspended roller coaster. I remember one summer my family did the “roller coaster circuit”. We went to all the major theme parks in Texas and rode all the roller coasters. What a fun time!
The first time we would ride a particular roller coaster, there was an added level of excitement of conquering it for the first time. No matter how many times you would repeat the ride, it would never repeat the high thrill as you learned what to expect. This is the same with life.

“…or a marital problem, which can leave us feeling topsy-turvy…”

Life is like a roller coaster. As we go through things from day to day, we may experience the following:
• Dealing with vehicle troubles, home school detours or disciplinary issues with our child can leave us breathless, like the plunge of the roller coaster as you drop from great heights.
• Sometimes we are faced with a death in the family, legal issue or a marital problem, which can leave us feeling topsy-turvy as though we have been going forward, backwards and looping upside down.
• Yet other times we may endure trials which, by themselves don’t seem hard, but they are many and we seem to get overwhelmed and feel like life is speeding out of control.

“HE IS FAITHFUL!”

Remember, on the roller coaster, no matter which type, there is one common denominator. They all have seatbelts and/or restraints that will hold you in the car, until you get to the end of the ride. No matter how fast you have to go, how many steep drops there may be or how many times you are turned upside down, they restrain you. This is like our Lord. HE IS FAITHFUL! Whether you are speeding up, or coasting through, God is your security as He will restrain you.

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February LOVE LOOKS LIKE SOMETHING
“Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God: and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God: for God is love.” I John 4:7-8
We live in an automated world. Daily, I enjoy modern conveniences that were not available for my grandmother to enjoy. I can wake up via my alarm clock on my cell phone, listen to God’s word and praise music on my electronic device, turn on my child’s electronic teacher, put the dirty dishes and clothes into machines that will clean them, drive-thru while in my car to get a wash, and then pick-up dinner at a drive through window.

So shouldn’t we get a day of free time at the end of the month for all the “time we saved”?
Unfortunately it does not work that way. Grandma worked from sunup to sundown, and so do we. We tend to just fill our time with extra tasks, intentional or not. “So shouldn’t we get a day of free time at the end of the month for all the ‘time we saved’?” Speaking of intentional, I always try to do things with purpose. Valentine’s Day makes me think of love and doing things for the ones you love. I try to show my husband that I love him in the things that I do for him. It’s not a big thing, but a million little things. It does not take a lot of money, but it does take planning and your execution. Things like packing his lunch, slipping love notes to him, or washing his truck when he’s pulled a long week at work are just the small ways that I try to show my love and affection. I do many of the same things for my sons, only the love letters are all “Rated G”. These personal touches should not end with your family, rather they should be practiced with all that you meet. You should take advantage of opportunities for others to see the love of Christ in you on a daily basis. Here is a list of some “intentional” ideas:
• Do you know your neighbors by their name? Bake some cookies and go introduce yourself.
• Maybe you have a heart to help new home school moms and would like to sign up to be a “Mentoring Mom”; email me for details.
• Take the family to volunteer at the Food Bank. It really helps your kids put the magnitude of hunger into perspective.
• Coordinate with a local nursing home for your family to go volunteer. It will be a great experience for both your family and the nursing home.
• Volunteer at FEAST! We have many ways you can reach out and bless other home schoolers.
• Become a Monthly Donor. What if you wanted and needed a better way to educate your child…but did not know about FEAST? We can reach more families with your help. CLICK HERE for more details.
“What if you wanted and needed a better way to educate your child…”
Make it a point to be “intentional”. Not just in your home, but everywhere you go! Think of things that would bless your heart, then go out and do it for others!

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January – And so another year is over, completed, in the books…how did you finish? I used to struggle with organization and accountability. It was not until an older wiser woman (thank you Barbara Morse) shared with me that these qualities were teachable, that I realized that I could obtain the ability to conquer my domain. Don’t get me wrong, it is still work! I hope that I can share with you some of the helps I have picked up along the way. Creating this, my list of the Top 7 Areas of Accountability!

#7 Keep Your Children on Schedule. Like anything else, it is easier to stay on schedule than to have to play catch up. Build in a reward system, for example: if the children stay up with their class assignments and chores, there can be a weekly or monthly reward. The rewards don’t even have to cost money! They can be as simple as going to the park or on a hike. Just something fun and out of the ordinary. Deuteronomy 6:7 “And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.”

#6 Clean Home and Yard. This is the area that seems to suffer most when life gets overwhelming. With a short list, household chores and yard work can be maintained. We found that if we had monthly, weekly and daily chores everything seemed to get done. Monthly would include: changing a/c filters, maintaining lawn equipment, cleaning the driveway, etc. Weekly would include: mopping, vacuuming, cleaning bathrooms, deep clean the kitchen, changing and washing linens, etc. Daily would include: making our beds, cleaning our bedrooms, picking up toys, etc. I found this to be a little less burdensome with a partner. One of my friends and I would report in weekly to encourage each other and try to help problem solve any issues that may have come up. Matthew 25:21 “His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.”

#5 Healthy Eating for Each Family Member. This may seem easy enough, but if you have diverse issues with different family members it can become very challenging. The hardest obstacle for me was to find the time to shop for the right food items for all the dietary restrictions of the family. I have started using online services where I can pick up the groceries, but I do not let them select my meats or produce. (I am picky) Incorporate the entire family into this lifestyle and it will soon become habit. Avoid unhealthy foods. Assign the children to research healthy recipes. I Corinthians 10:31 “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.”

#4 Fitness for the Whole Family. You don’t have to look far to find help on maintaining fitness. Take my word for it, it is much harder to regain, than to maintain. Be active; go for walks, ride your bikes and play games with the whole family. I Corinthians 9:27a “But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection…”

#3 Keep the Peace. It is important with life being fast paced on all fronts, to take some time for you! Learn to relax and unwind. It is in the quiet times that you can do your best planning and troubleshooting. Be consistent in making time each day for yourself. God still speaks, but sometimes we are so busy we do not hear Him. Psalm 46:10a “Be still, and know that I am God…”

#2 Continue the Courtship. Marriage is what you make of it. Keep the lines of communication open. Be mindful that neither one of you are perfect. Remember to put your spouse above all others, second only to God! Work as a team, in tandem. Rely on God and each other. If there is something that you don’t like about your marriage, work with your spouse to make it better. I Peter 4:8 “And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.”

#1 Personal relationship with Christ. If you don’t have one, get one! If you have one, it needs to be cultivated by prayer, worship and Bible reading. If you get this area of your life in order, all other areas will fall into place with the Lord’s help. Matthew 6:33 “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”

My prayer for you is that you will find the peace and balance for you and your family in 2018. If I could help you in any way, I would count it a privilege. May the Lord bless you with a prosperous New Year.

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December Winter Always Turns to Spring by Linda Whiten

With the onset of cooler temperatures, I find myself reflecting on the seasons of the year. Often when reference is made to the seasons, winter is the season that is usually referred to as a “hard” season. Depending on where you live, this could be due to extreme temperatures, ice, snow or other things that would inhibit the easier lifestyle experienced in other seasons.

“… Happiness is temporary, but joy is ETERNAL.”

Similarly, our life has seasons of change. We experience seasons where life is easy and fun and all seems to be happy with our world. Then a change comes, and things become hard and even the most insignificant tasks are a chore. I know for me, my “Winter” came in 2015 when I received a phone call from my doctor in which he informed me that I had cancer. I tried to stay positive and on my first visit to my surgeon, he was frustrated with me because I was jovial. He asked me, “Don’t you know that you can die from this?” I informed him that I had a great God who was bigger than this cancer. He expressed his disgust and became my former surgeon. Through this experience, I realized that I could not remain positive or hold it together. I became about as transparent as one can be, revealing that ALL of my trust was in my Savior. When you go through a cold harsh time, if you ask the Lord, He will help and carry you through. I also discovered the difference between happiness and joy; “Happiness is temporary, but joy is eternal. Happiness depends upon outward experiences, but joy comes from within.” This quote by Adrian Rogers has been forever etched in my mind. So, my joy, just like my salvation is of the Lord. This transference of responsibility was a tremendous comfort in my time of need knowing that “winter” would pass, and the Lord would reveal the “spring.”

“…don’t try to make it through the winter ALONE.”

What’s in your “Winter”? Marital problems, illness, rebellious child, home schooling demands, financial trouble… don’t try to make it through the winter alone. Christ is there for you; reach up to Him. I would be happy to help you in any way that I can. The Lord reminds us in Galatians 6:2a, “Bear ye one another’s burdens.” Trusting that the Lord does not want us to stay “out in the cold”, but rather to walk through it into the warmth of His Love. Find the escape that He has made for you today!

“There hath no TEMPTATION taken you but such as is common to man: but GOD is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to ESCAPE, that ye may be able to bear it.” 1 Corinthians 10:13 

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November It’s All About Choices by Linda Whiten

How many subjects do you teach your children vs. how many life skills? It is one thing to be book smart, but where do they learn about the things that will make them a functioning member of society? Things like morals, respect, discipline, principles, ethics, love, charity and faith? One of the things that often melts into the background, and may not get emphasized, is the importance of making good choices. Teach your children to deliberately make good choices; and that taking a neutral position on something is still making a choice. Much to my chagrin, the issues that I was not strong in, are the issues my children struggle with as adults. Praise God we are all still a work in progress and are still able to learn and grow.


“The issues that I was not strong in teaching my children are the issues they struggle with as adults.”One of the choices I made years ago, was to always look on the bright side. Choosing to be happy and to find the good in everything, people, situations and the world around me! I’m sorry to say, but my optimistic outlook has sometimes resulted in a shirking of my duties. You see, as a follower of Christ, I am to share His love with all that I encounter. So if we met, and I did not share Christ with you, please forgive me for not making the right choice. 
I would like to take this opportunity to tell you about the greatest thing that ever happened to me. It was a Sunday at church, and the preacher spoke about a God of love. He proceeded to tell me how this same God loved me, just the way I was, unlovely, in all my sin. This same God had sent His son, Jesus to die on the cross so that I could have eternal life. Oh the joy that filled my soul the day that I choose Him to become the Lord of my life. Since that day, my life has been richer and sweeter.

“It was a Sunday at church, and the preacher spoke about a God of love.”
I choose to reflect the love of Christ in all that I do. Jesus is the Light of the world. My prayer is that I would be deliberate and bear witness of that Light. My mission is to be salt and light. Jesus was speaking to His followers in Matthew 5:13-16 “Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savor, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” 

“Ye are the light of the world.”
I hope that you and your family have made the right choice and have received the light of Christ, that He is Lord of your life and you share my mission. If you by chance don’t have the light, and are not sure how to teach this to your children, let’s get together, and I will show you how to get the glow! It will be the best choice you have ever made.

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 October Lessons from the Play Pen by Linda Whiten

As I have watched my boys grow up to be men, I think it is a fair assessment to say that we taught each other. From the moment they came into our lives, two bouncing baby boys, four years apart, the education began. I don’t mean books, I mean educating the whole child. Every day was an opportunity to teach them something and yet every day they taught me something. Through the many stages of their lives, there were times when I would become totally overwhelmed. There were just so many things that had to be done and not enough time to do them. It was in these stressful times that I realized I was simply not capable. I could not teach them. This thing called home schooling was apparently not for me, no matter how much I wanted it. Yet it was in this low time that I realized that with God’s help all things are possible. I could trust God to help me, one lesson at a time, one boy at a time.

Here are some things that helped me learn to trust in the Lord:
1. Recognizing that the Lord would give me strength for the day. Isaiah 40:28-29
2. Acknowledging that it would be the Lord working through me that would bring about success. Proverbs 3:5-6
3. Moving forward in the power of the Lord. II Timothy 1:7
4. Accomplishing a good work. Philippians 1:6

In my endeavor to educate my boys, I was the one who received the education; one that will serve me for a lifetime. Believe that you, with God’s help can educate your whole child. If He has called you to it, He will see you through it!

Don’t forget October 5, 2017 is World Teachers Day. This Day has been established to raise awareness of the importance of the role played by teachers all over the world. The responsibility for educating future generations is not an easy one. Show your support to the dedicated teachers in your child’s life by doing something special for them. So when you show your appreciation for your child’s teacher, make sure to include yourself. Maybe some fun indulgence; chocolate, coffee or mani-pedi? You deserve a break! Don’t want to celebrate alone? Meet me at FEAST on Thursday, October 5th at 2pm. We will serve coffee and something sweet! I will make the coffee, you bring the treats! Click here to RSVP. This will be a free time of fellowship to celebrate teachers!

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September If you only knew… by Linda Whiten

My routine is pretty mundane. At my age, there is never extra energy, so my actions need to be thoughtful and deliberate. In an effort to accomplish more, I start my day in the Word and with prayer. I ask the Lord to give me strength, discernment and wisdom; and to reveal to me how I can make your day easier. How can I help you? How can I enrich your home school journey? How can I help you overcome the obstacles that you are currently facing? How can I encourage you to reach out when you are weary or troubled?

It is my desire to help you, to bridge the gap between what you have and what you need. I am always looking for things with you in mind. Sometimes late at night I lay awake, thinking of you, praying for you. I petition the Lord to guide you, lift you up and orchestrate your home school day. Is there a class, or another way to get you together with other moms for the encouragement that you need? In the end, it isn’t about me. It’s about Christ and what HE wants to do through me, through FEAST, for you. I cannot express the deep desire my staff and I have for carrying out God’s will for the families that cross our paths.

If only you knew… that all that I do, I do for you out of love, fellow home school Mom! Please contact me at linda@homeschoolfeast.com or call me on my cell at 210-854-3178.

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by Linda Whiten

August brings the excitement of ramping up for another year of home schooling!  Lord willing, this will be my last as my youngest son will be a senior. What is on the schedule for my student? To be honest, I always get a little overwhelmed this time of year. I feel like I have to choose from a massive list of courses available and pick the limited number of courses that my son will take. If he could take all the ones I like, there would be so many that he would need to do school work 24/7. Unfortunately, he doesn’t want that schedule. So I try to focus on keeping the main thing, the main thing. This meansI must choose well, as there are only so many hours in the day. So although I may not get the plethora of courses on the schedule that I wanted, I will have done well if I accomplish the following:

Get the core classes required, along with electives he wants/needs, paired with training my son to be a man after God’s own heart. The older my son gets, the more emphasis I believe needs to be placed on shepherding his heart and forming his character. I want him to have character, not be one. So don’t be overwhelmed! We serve a God of order and we strive to find the balance. I love to watch as my son does his work, and God gives the increase.  

I would love to encourage you to make sure you plan some encouragement, relaxation and fun for your child’s teacher. You must stay on track and there is not time for discouragement. Find a support group, or arrange a home school moms get together. Remember that the FEAST Staff is always here to serve you in any way we can. Another way to stay the course is through books. Here are a few books I would like to recommend. We carry them in the FEAST Bookstore:

• “Educating the WholeHearted Child” by Clay Clarkson with Sally Clarkson
• “Shepherding a Child’s Heart” by Tedd Tripp
• “Parenting Isn’t for Cowards” by Dr. James Dobson
• And one for your teens – “Do Hard Things” by Alex and Brett Harris

Above all, keep your relationship with Christ fresh. Spend time with Him every day in prayer, in His Word and worship. I pray that this will be the best home school year in your journey to date. Stay the course and trust in Him!

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by Linda Whiten

The 4th of July is always such a happy day! There are visions of our American Flag waving in the air, home town parades with marching bands, decorated cars, horseback riders and everyone dressed in as much red, white and blue as possible. Americans everywhere will celebrate with picnics and fireworks the adoption of the Declaration of Independence which established America as a country free from the rule of Great Britain.

I remember while growing up, we would always grill hot dogs and spend time together as a family celebrating the freedom that the 4th of July represents. Now, as a wife and mother, little has changed, and I still have grilled hot dogs with my family.

As Independence Day approaches, those thoughts of freedom always bring to mind a greater freedom that I can celebrate. The ultimate freedom brought by the One who died for us. For me, it was coming to the knowledge that I needed a Savior. It is clearly lined out in God’s Word that “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God”. There was nothing that I could do on my own accord that would merit eternal life in Heaven. Then I realized there was indeed nothing “I” had to do, only accept the free gift of salvation. Christ had already done all the work on the cross. Once He became Lord of my life, all of His freedoms became mine:

• Jesus Christ brings true freedom – Ephesians 1:7
• Freedom from the bondage of sin – Romans 6:23
• Freedom through God’s truth – John 8:31-33

I pray that you have received your freedoms through Christ, if not, stop by the office. I would love to share Christ with you. It will change your life and your eternity! Now that is something to celebrate about this 4th of July!

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