Thursday, April 12, 2018

Treasuring Our Children - Dinner #86

Without a doubt, there is a great amount of stress that goes into traveling with little people.  Toys and books drop in the van.  Clothing gets stained.  Voices become loud.  Jumping on hotel beds occurs.  Parental blood pressure rises.  And I suddenly catch myself gritting my teeth and saying, “Why can’t you all just be PERFECT?!” But they aren’t perfect, nor will they ever be, in this world.  And my heart is pricked with the realization that sometimes the problem is ME. Am I REACTING to the daily conflict and chaos, like I ought to be?

Psalm 113:9 speaks of “... a joyful mother of children...” On the difficult days, how easy it is to lose that joy.  When they’re still awake at 11:00 p.m. and asking for another drink of water . . . I know – I’m in the trenches myself right now.  But they are our REWARD – our BLESSINGS! How often do we neglect to treat them as such?

Psalm 127:3 “Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.”

Genesis 33:5 “And he lifted up his eyes, and saw the women and the children; and said, Who are those with thee? And he said, The children which God hath graciously given thy servant.”

Graciously given . . . They are a GIFT, My Friend!  Somewhere in the overwhelming stickiness of jam and the changing of diapers, we can forget that fact.  We can forget to truly TREASURE our children! I’m not speaking of idolizing them – not putting them first in our marriages or first in our lives, but CHERISHING them as God would have us do.

When was the last time we TOOK THE TIME – to read the book, to sing the song, to pull out the Play-Doh, to look up from our phones and see the little faces in need of us, once again?

Instead, in our frustration and annoyance, we can find ourselves mindlessly muttering, “Not tonight”, or “Not right now”, or “Not this time, Sweetheart - Mommy’s busy.” 

Matthew 18:10 “Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones . . .”

Now I am a great believer in mothers “taking time” for themselves.  I’m not talking about refusing yourself the renewing that we so desperately need to keep going every day.  However, as parents, we can become guilty of laziness and selfishness, and of addressing our children with very little kindness.  We can interrupt them, can speak in frustration toward them, can ignore them – many of the same things we rebuke OUR CHILDREN for. 

James 1:19 “Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath...

The Bible reminds us that we as parents have the ability to either anger or encourage our children by our parenting methods:

Ephesians 6:4 “And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.”  

This verse speaks of disciplining as well as warning, but without needless severity.  One commentator described this idea as placing them “under such discipline and instruction that they shall become acquainted with the Lord.” Are we remembering what an important role we play in leading our children to the Savior?

Perhaps this is a day to bow our heads and to ask the Lord to help us TREASURE our sons and our daughters, once more. Children will whine, they will argue, they will try our patience at times. They will, literally, climb over the back of the couch, like mine are at this present moment.  Our words, our actions, our attitudes toward our children are powerful, Sweet Mamas!  Are we seeing our Little Ones as God sees them, today? Are we THANKING GOD for them, and continuing to lead them to Him?

If it were always easy, then there would be no reason for Titus 2:4: “That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children . . .”  Sometimes we all need instruction and encouragement in this area of our lives - myself included! And now I will calmly request that my children stop closing each other in the hotel closet . . . Because my little girls are sweet GIFTS FROM GOD.

Monday, April 2, 2018

Special To God - Dinner #85

The world speaks to us often of “self-esteem”.  The Bible, however, tells Christians to “esteem other better than themselves” (Philippians 2:3) and “not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think . . .” (Rom. 12:3).  I, Kristen Kelley, am nothing but a sinner, and all my “righteousnesses are as filthy rags” (Is. 64:6). I have no worth in and of myself – no goodness of my own – but I was bought with a price: the precious blood of the Lamb of God!  Therefore, I am WORTH something to the Lord!  My self-worth is found in my Savior!

Colossians 2:14 “Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross.”

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

We are special because we are special TO HIM!

What makes you unique? Freckles, fingerprints, facial structure . . . Your talents and abilities . . . Your past . . . Your heart – who you care about and love . . .

God made no mistakes when He gave you life.  Psalm 139:14 “I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvelous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.” The texture of your hair, the color of your eyes, your ability or inability to see, to hear, to speak, to walk . . . every detail was chosen by Him.  He had a purpose and a plan for each and every one of us, right from the very start. 

I’ve seen so many young ladies who have tried to “stand out” and to “make a statement” in this world.  Others so depressed by their appearance that they have sought to significantly alter it.  The world can be cruel and unaccepting - our Savior understands that fact.  He endured bitter mockery and even death at the hands of jealous, angry men.  He was not a man who stood out as being “handsome” by the world’s standards (Is. 53:2), and yet He was the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords.  You may feel as though you are invisible, but you, My Dear, are God’s princess. 

You are SIGNIFICANT.  Out of the billions of people in this world, God cares about YOU.  He formed you and gave you life! He saved your soul!  The Creator of the entire universe knows YOU by name! You are God’s child!

How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand . . .” (Ps. 139:17-18)

Yes, man DOES look at the external, and they often judge harshly by it.  This focus on appearance is evident all around us – plastic surgery advertisements, revealing clothing, expensive make-up brands, quick-fix weight-loss programs, etc.  But when God looks at you, He sees your HEART (I Sam. 16:7).  He knows every single thing that affects the exterior that others might judge you by – the blemishes, the scars, and the pounds in “undesired places” . . . And He sees you as BEAUTIFUL.  Because, you, Sweet Sister in Christ, are HIS. 

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

The Things That Truly Matter - Dinner #84

- Thoughts For The Homeschool Mom -

This past Sunday, we had the opportunity to participate in a “Parade of Nations” at a missions conference.  It was such a beautiful thing to take part in, and brought tears to my eyes.  I watched the various flags going by after our own, and thought of all the people, from all the nations, one day gathered around the Throne of God.  I watched our girls happily wearing costumes representing China, Canada, and South Africa, and I thought about the possibility of them embarking upon their own missions work in the years ahead.  I praised God that, from a very young age, they are getting a glimpse of the THINGS THAT REALLY MATTER in this life.

The fact is, there are days on this deputation journey when trying to homeschool on the road feels like a “lost cause”.  Every day is different, and the routine just isn’t there!  It is easy to become overwhelmed.  But the Lord knows how to encourage a weary mom!

Isaiah 54:13 “And all thy children shall be taught of the LORD; and great shall be the peace of thy children.”

A fellow educator recently asked me about the necessary homeschooling paperwork for our state.  When I pulled up last year’s letter to the school board, it immediately blessed my heart.  It reminded me of the THINGS THAT TRULY MATTER! I read the carefully thought-out phrases and the numerous Bible verses I had cited, and I sat there with the laptop and just rejoiced!  THIS – This is why we are doing what we are doing! This is a task that we feel GOD has given to us! He knows the plans that HE has for our children, and will continue to help us through every stage! Whether we are in America or overseas; in a house, or in a hotel, or in a van.  

As Christians, our beliefs are based upon the Bible, and affect every aspect of our daily lives – the words we say, the songs we sing, the books we read, the entertainment we allow in our home, the ministries we become involved in, and the very way we function as a family.  We believe that our children should accompany us as we serve in ministry. These opportunities are vital examples in the training of our children. Our prayer is that by homeschooling our children and raising them in a Christian home, we can impart our beliefs to our children, and help them to grow in their own personal walk with the Savior. 

Joel 1:3 “Tell ye your children of it, and let your children tell their children, and their children another generation.”    

Homeschooling won’t look the same for our family as it does for yours.  That is the nature of homeschooling!  It is often as different and unique as the individuals involved. Home education can also undergo a variety of changes through the years – with the introduction of a newborn, the move to a new house, the discovery of a learning disability, the potty training of a toddler . . . The methods may alter a hundred times over.  But when my children leave my home one day, what will I want them to have learned?  Have you ever paused to consider that thought? 

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.”

I Pray My Girls Will Have Learned -

To love the Lord their God.  To hide His Word in their hearts.  To share His Word with others.  To value life.  To be thankful to their Creator. To cherish the gift of salvation.  To appreciate their country’s history.  To be grateful for their country’s freedoms.  To see individuals of every race as souls for whom Christ died.  To stand up for what is right.  To serve without being noticed.  To work as a team with others.  To finish a task once it has been started.  To respect God-given authority.  To read fluently.  To know how to communicate thoughts and ideas through the use of art, and music, and the written word.  To use their talents and gifts for God.  To give cheerfully to the Lord and to manage their personal finances. To provide wholesome meals for their family.  To possess a sense of curiosity and wonder, as well as a keen imagination.  To have all the tools to pursue further education and training in any field to which the Lord might one day call them. 

This list could be ever so much longer. 
   How about your own?  You are your child’s mother as well as their educator.  Do you know WHY you have taken this task upon you?  Has God laid certain things on your heart that you need to accomplish for Him?  Your children are unique and special to God!  When you’re tempted to be overwhelmed in your homeschooling endeavors, I encourage you to hold onto your God-given goals.  Not your own ambitions or desires, but the priorities that HE helps you to set, each year as it comes. 

Psalm 127:1 “Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it . . .”

As you finish out the current grades and choose curriculum for next year, I urge you to pray before purchasing.  If a workbook or a video does not suit your child’s particular needs, or your family’s personal goals, don’t use it next year!  Don’t feel confined to a curriculum. Don’t compare your child to someone else’s.  Don’t seek to please anyone but the Lord.  And don’t forget WHY you are doing what you are doing!  Our time with our children is short! May we use it for the honor and glory of the Lord. 

Proverbs 22:6 “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”

Many Blessings!

Friday, March 9, 2018

A Channel Of His Love - Dinner #83

I am used to saying “goodbyes”.  I grew up in a military household, and have lived in several different states during my life.  But this huge lump I feel in my throat when the tears threaten – that is something new to me . . . There are times on this deputation journey when it is truly hard to say “goodbye”.  When God is at work in a congregation – when people’s hearts are tender – without a doubt, God can knit those hearts together in a truly beautiful, wonderful way. 

I John 4:11 “Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.”

I have met so many dear Sisters in Christ, over the past few months!  I have felt God’s love poured out through the kindness of His people in a way I never could have imagined.  Ladies who have taken a genuine interest in me and in my family.  Ladies who have shared laughter and godly fellowship.  Women who have prepared lodgings, worked nursery, and cooked meals.  Fellow “Miscarriage Mamas” who have shared with me their own stories and have encouraged me regarding my book.  Sisters in Christ who have told me sincerely that they are praying for us and will continue to do so.  There are times in these meetings when my heart just overflows. 

Romans chapter 12 shows us that a people who fully give themselves to the Lord, can then genuinely give themselves to others.

Romans 12:1 "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service."

Romans 12:9, 10 “Let love be without dissimulation . . . Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love . . . ” Not hypocrisy, but true, genuine Christian love!

Romans 12:11, 13, 15-16 “. . . fervent in spirit; serving the Lord . . . Distributing to the necessity of the saints; given to hospitality . . . Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.  Be of the same mind one toward another . . .”

God has comforted me, and I will seek to comfort you.  God has blessed me with food and I will share my table with you.  God has provided me a home and I will give you a place to sleep for the night. 

The Bible tells us in Galatians 5:22, 23 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance . . .  It is truly a beautiful thing when you see such fruit lived out in the lives of fellow believers!

I Corinthians 13:13 “And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.”

The greatest of these . . . The very best.  “Charity” is LOVE – and oh how wonderful such Christian love is! We are a part of the family of God!

This journey of deputation has challenged me!   Am I being a channel of Christ’s love today?  Do I selflessly put the encouragement of others above my own needs and desires? Am I allowing God to lead me to the hurting, the weary, and the travel-worn? What an honor and a privilege to be used of God in such a way! 

John 15:9 “As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love.”

Friday, March 2, 2018


Because I will publish the name of the LORD: ascribe ye greatness unto our God.  He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, 
just and right is he.”
Deuteronomy 32:3-4

     What a privilege it is to speak about our wonderful Savior – to “publish” His Name and His greatness, to those around us!  This “publishing” His Name to others may be in the words we say, or the things we do . . . or even in the books we type. 
     Some of my earliest recollections of writing were little stories involving pirates, a lobster, a cat, and something about a museum.  SMILE!  I was only 6-years-old, and from the moment I started, I LOVED it!  At the age of 9, I had a Grandmother-in-Christ pen pal.  She is now in her 90s, and, more than two decades later, we still correspond with one another.  In my high school years, I was furiously penning historical fiction, and poems, and missions material.  Never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined that my first real “work” would come from deep sorrow.  But God’s thoughts are not our thoughts (Is. 55:8) – His plans are ever so much higher than our own. 
     In December of 2016, we miscarried our little boy, Joshua.  One year later, we miscarried again.  During the months that followed each sorrow, God was preparing me to WRITE.  The Lord continued to bring grieving mothers across my path, and my burden grew.  There was a NEED – a real NEED – for women to find HOPE and PEACE, after their babies left for Heaven.  Such comfort could only be found in the Savior! How my heart desired to lead these hurting ladies to Him!
     In January of 2018, I began writing a booklet entitled A Letter In Your Loss.  It was typed with tears, edited with tissues, and published with much prayer.  This work shares our personal stories of miscarriage while offering consolation through verses of Scripture, portions of hymns, and words of heartfelt encouragement.  I pray it might bring comfort to ladies walking through a similar sorrow.  
     You can now find A Letter In Your Loss in both printed and eBook form on Amazon! Whether you are reading it yourself, or taking a copy to the bedside of a friend, may you cling to the promise of God’s Word: “The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart . . .” (Ps. 34:18)  My Heavenly Father is truly “the God of all comfort” (II Cor. 1:3), even in the deepest of sorrows.  He will walk alongside you, as no one in all the world can do.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

The Story Behind The Blog

The Story Behind The Blog

     In 2008, my future husband was still in college, and I had graduated and returned to my home state of Georgia to teach in our Christian school.  During that first year of teaching, I required an emergency appendectomy, and it was at that time the doctors discovered that I had a condition that might make it very difficult to have children.  Despite what the doctors had told me, however, God answered our prayers!  Just four months after Brandon and I were married, we learned we were expecting our oldest, Brooklyn.  You see, God is truly the Giver of Life. 
     Over the next several years, the Lord decided to prove that He can do whatever He desires to do, and He blessed our home with Jacqueline, with Cheyenne, and with Charlotte.
     Not far into my journey of motherhood, I began to learn the importance of “redeeming the time” – doing two things at once – being diligent in my hours as a “keeper at home” – not wasting the gift of life that God had given me.  I realized how vital it was to feed my own spirit throughout the day; to fill my mind with godly, encouraging things. 
     As a Mother of little “stair steps”, it was definitely a challenge to find any moments alone.  But one of the fairly quiet segments of my day was while dinner was cooking in the oven.  I found that I could usually flip through a magazine, read a chapter of Scripture, or skim a blog article, before a pot needed stirring, or a baby needed changing . . . Thus the idea for “Dinner’s In The Oven” was born - short devotionals for women to read in the midst of the busyness of life.  
     I pray that if you have been a faithful reader through the years, that this blog has been a blessing to you!  I pray that if you’re discovering it for the first time, you will find a bit of encouragement to “keep on climbing” for the Lord Jesus Christ.  We are “in this” together, Dear Ladies!  As the Scriptures say, may we “bear one another’s burdens” (Gal. 6:2), and may we “exhort one another daily, while it is called To day” (Heb. 3:13).  The “Dinner’s In The Oven” blog posts seek to do just that.  God Bless You All!

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

February 28 - Book Excerpt

“The proper motive for service is love.  Love for the Master, love for our work and love for lost souls will provide the grace to overlook difficulties, work out problems, endure hardship as a good soldier and find the rich blessing of service.”

From Where In the World Are You Going? By Joyce Vick