Attributes of God
Prayer Journal Inserts
Attributes of God
Prayer Journal Inserts
The Lord uses my kids so often to teach and inspire me. Today I want to focus on my high school senior Caleb. Though I am proud of his personal accomplishments and successes in his own endeavors, I am especially proud of the way he has dedicated himself this last year to cheer on others in their endeavors. Sensing a lack of enthusiasm and support in the student body for his high school and its teams, Caleb took it upon himself to make and lead a spirit section at school games and events. He often walks table to table at lunch and encourages people to come to that evening’s sport event, many times sharing a theme for the student section.
Themes have been everything from school colors, U.S.A., and Hawaiian to businessman, geriatric, white out, and black out. He has held his “Tommy the Tiger” stuffed animal up on a stick and led students to cheer at everything from football and volleyball games to men’s and women’s basketball and soccer games. He leads in positive chants to encourage their teams. He has also been supportive of the MHS scholastic bowl team by attending their meets. He was recently voted the “Most Spirited” student of his high school.
It’s amazing what a little encouragement and cheering does for a team. Through his God-given gifts of leadership and evangelism he is literally changing the atmosphere of his public school, which sits in the middle of a dry and thirsty land both physically and spiritually. Millennium High School’s school spirit is soaring, thanks to his impact. And I think through encouraging others, he’s pretty encouraged himself.
I want to propose to you that if you are a mom then you are the coach of your home team. You set the pace and the tone, you cheer others toward their goals as you reach your own, and you give the pep talk at the end of a hard day when a team member is discouraged. You can move your team toward victory in every area of life by the daily seemingly insignificant things you do: gather the family around the table for family dinner, place an encouraging note in a lunchbox, or say a prayer over your child at bedtime.
Hang in there, Mom. And keep cheering! Find the positives to praise in the midst of weaknesses and speak truth against those lies your children are being told by their peers and our culture every day. Take the time to get to know each of your children and know what “Tommy Tiger on a stick” you can hold up on their behalf. Your consistent cheers will change the atmosphere of your home. And I think through making a daily habit of dishing out daily doses of encouragement you will find yourself pretty encouraged on the journey.
Had it not been for the invention of the breadmaker, I am not sure I would have had the patience to carry on this lovely and delicious holiday tradition. But with this tool, it is fast and fairly easy. True confession: I have 5 breadmakers (most passed on to me by friends), and I typically use them in groups of at least 3 to make the most of my mess and efforts. Here is one of my most requested recipes.
2 ¼ tsp. yeast
4 ¼ c. bread flour
¼ c. sugar
heaping tsp. salt
1/3 c. oil
1 c. milk
½ c. water
You wil also need: cinnamon, sugar, powdered sugar, and milk. Pecans are optional.
Add the 8 ingredients into your breadmaker in the order listed. Set on “manual” or “dough” mode and press “start”.
When dough is ready (about 1.5 hours later), divide the dough into 3 parts. Roll each into an oblong rectangle about 15”x9”. Melt 3+ Tablespoons of butter and spread. Mix 1 c. sugar and 1 heaping Tablespoon cinnamon, and sprinkle some on the rectangles. (We save leftover cinnamon sugar for cinnamon toast.) Optional: Chop ½ c. pecans and sprinkle on. Roll beginning at the wide side. Pinch together to hold in roll. Form into ring and pinch, then cut 2/3 way through at 1 inch intervals. Turn each on its side to fan pieces out. Let rise 15-30 minutes (optional), and bake 12-15 minutes at 350 degrees or until golden. After cooling, drizzle with thick icing mixture made of powdered sugar and milk.
This will make 3 tea rings that fit on 10-inch plates. You may also make one jumbo ring instead of dividing the dough into thirds to make 3 rings.
*To make large cinnamon rolls instead of rings, simply roll, pinch, and cut into 1 inch slices. I like to use fishing line for easy slicing. (Place line under the roll one inch from the end and wrap around and cross, to slice.)
On a recent three-day trip to the mountains, I failed to check the kids’ suitcases.
Ten minutes down the road I glanced down at my youngest daughter’s feet and noticed she was wearing her white dressy heels. (You would have thought I might notice this before, especially since she was also wearing a fancy dress.)
“You packed other shoes, right?” I asked.
“Not even flip flops?” Not only had she not packed any play shoes, but she hadn’t packed undies, pajamas or her toothbrush.
But there she sat with her doll on her lap, and surrounded by her doll stroller, doll backpack, and doll beauty salon chair! It cost us about a half hour in the turn around, but thankfully we were able to get her tennis shoes and everything else she needed before leaving town. When we arrived at our destination, we opened up her suitcase to find the doll’s entire wardrobe complete with all the accessories! (She hadn’t missed a thing!)
What a great reminder to have packing lists on your computer to print up bfore vacations or short trips. The lists will save time and empower your kids to do more for themselves (which will free up time for you).
A sample list from our Colorado trip:
For trips we make regularly, I like to list favorite restaurants, rest stops, and hotels we enjoy.
Children can lay out their items, and then (as the high-heel sotry would remind us) mom can check itmes off the list as they are packed in their bags.
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The Stull Family Last Year Overview via Photos
2014 was a crazy and adventurous year with many leap-of-faith moments that were exciting, exhilarating, hard and uncertain. So, though I know we are well into 2015, I wanted to share a little about our past year.
Planting a church has been a great adventure. I never dreamed I’d enjoy “small church” as much as I have, and seeing Chris’s delight in leading a church and preaching each week has been change this blessing or the next to a different word. God has blessed us this year with an amazing Acts church unity that is pure joy. My three previous blog posts tell the story best. You’ll see Wellspring Church’s first-year journey through pictures. You can also visit Wellspringchurch.com to learn more about the church, see videos, hear Chris’s sermons, and more.
In July, God entrusted us with two more children, John (11) and Mariama (9). Just one week after bringing them home from Sierra Leone, Ebola struck their village. In this adoption journey we are learning so much about ourselves and God’s faithful love and provision for every moment. Even on the hardest days, the pleasure of the Lord in the midst of obedience overshadows the frustrations. And then there are also the gifts of those special moments that give great hope for each child’s future as well as our future as a family.
We covet your prayers as we shepherd a church and a family.
It’s been a big year. Our grocery cart is a good example of how big we are these days. We typically buy 25 lbs. of flour, 8 gallons of milk, 20 lbs. of rice, 50 lbs. of popcorn, 6 dozen eggs–and that’s just a start!
2014 was an incredible year, and here is a snapshot of each of our lives:
Dillon (age 21):
Since he doesn’t have a bedroom here, Dillon, and one of his best friends, Jay, visiting for Christmas stayed in our garage apartment. (Garage apt. = out w/cars, and in with large rugs, two beds, space heaters, chairs and tables, lamp and a small Christmas tree.)
Derek (age 19):
Zoom lens: Music to our ears during Senior Recognition day at Wellspring: “I’d like to thank my Mom and Dad for following God’s call on their lives to move to Arizona.” (We didn’t ruin his life after all! Thank you, Jesus!)
Caleb (age 16):
Zoom lens: One Sunday he was Wellspring Church’s MVP as he helped with set up, greeted at the door and handed out bulletins, ran the PowerPoint, took the attendance count, gathered guys to collect the offering, and helped with tear down.
Micah (age 14):
He is constantly giving us perspective as a family. One day as Mariama again shared all the particulars about how she will raise her children (they won’t have chores, they will wear whatever they want, they will eat whatever they want, etc.). Micah understated, “Mariama, you plan farther ahead than anyone I know.”
Karis (age 12):
I have enjoyed great conversations with Karis this past 7 months as our dog Speedy and I have accompanied her on her nightly job of walking our neighbor’s labrador, Dolly.
John (age 11):
John gets the most supportive child award for his interest in watching his parents’ triathlons. Though I have twisted arms and even used shame tactics (“How many of your athletic events have I attended?”), our kids have not been real interested in coming out for tri events. John, on the other hand, doesn’t want to miss rising early to come out and cheer us on! To add to his supportiveness, he even included two of his momma’s triathlon photos in his “all about me” album.
Mariama (age 9):
Mariama convinced me to buy sardines and proceeded to fry them up with onions in our kitchen. It took about a week, but we finally got rid of the smell. Most recently she went to her 1st daddy/daughter dance and enjoyed a delightful evening of Dad’s full attention.
Chris & Brenna – survived to live another year, and this summer will be celebrating 25 adventurous and fun, faith-filled years of marriage.
Thank you for caring about our family, and we appreciate any prayers you would like to throw our way. Wishing you God’s best in 2015!
I thank God for the opportunity to partner last month with Lifesong for Orphans in India. I went with a promise: “The Sovereign Lord has given me an instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary.” (Isaiah 50:4) I am thankful for the chance to encourage those ministering to orphans–the caregivers at Jyothi Nivas Children’s Home–and to teach the Bible to and spend time with the children. Bob and Siromani Stoll, who led our group and have done ministry through orphanages and churches in India for 35 years, were an inspiration to me and an example of the amazing things God can do with people who cooperate with Him to get His work done in the world. I am also impressed with the diligence of Lifesong for Orphans in spending each ministry dollar with intention and purpose.
Chris and I just returned from Europe last week, where he was speaking for a missions conference near Budapest, Hungary. I had a few surprises along the way.
At the conference we had the joy of getting acquainted with church leaders from all over Western Europe. My friend Vicki from Switzerland shared with me this story:
A couple dreamed of beautiful roadsides in their community. Pulling a large portion of the money from their savings account, they invested in a great amount of poppy seeds and joyfully scattered them on each side of the road for miles. Eager to see the flowers crowding each side of the highway, they watched and waited, watched and waited. Years passed and not one poppy grew in the area they had planted. Assuming they had wasted their money and time, the couple was greatly disappointed.
Then one spring years later, they were driving along and could not believe their eyes. Beautiful red poppies graced each side of the road. When the conditions (temperature, moisture, and sunlight) were right, the seeds bloomed. The flowers were beautiful in their time. The couple saw the realization of their dream, and experienced the fullness of Proverbs 13:12, “Hope deferred makes the heart grow sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.” And others also were blessed because of their work.
That story encourages me as I reflect on what I believe God laid on our hearts in 1998 to pray for Phoenix: revival. Though we did not see evidence of revival before we moved from Phoenix in 2003, I believe the answer to our prayers is now coming into full bloom. It is heart wrenching on so many levels to leave McKinney, but I have an overwhelming sense that God has given us this invitation to go back and see the fruit of what we helped sow in prayer fifteen years ago. I eagerly anticipate seeing the “poppies” in Arizona.
I wonder how many people have a God-given dream in their heart that they have become hopeless and heart-sick over. Or how many have allowed the busyness of life to put a dream on the back burner to the point that it is almost forgotten. I wonder how many would be bold enough to take that dream to God in prayer and ask Him what to do with it. “We are not called to be spectators watching from the stands as the prince of darkness goes about to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10). Jesus said there is a shortage of workers, but the actual work will be done by God’s Spirit through you and me doing great things beyond our wildest imagination. It all begins when you offer yourself to serve.” (Spirit Rising, 188, Jim Cymbala).
I’m praying for fellow poppy planters. People that will invest their efforts in work that will reap an eternal harvest. May we pray the prophet Isaiah’s prayer: “Here am I Lord, send me!” (Isaiah 6:8).
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“Do you think my hair would do that?” I said as I looked at the cornrow hairstyles of my new friends in Sierra Leone. Eyes lit up and bright smiles shined on the girls’ faces as they called the name, “Yeama!”
These Sierra Leonean orphans, twenty-five of them sharing a house, all have their roles. Umaru leads a devotional for them each morning at 5:30 a.m., Abu #1 (the teenage Abu) trims the hair of the younger boys with a special comb, and the teenage girls help prepare their meals of rice. At 7 a.m. the teenage boys lead a workout routine. Though they have no running water in the house, they do have a gym. It consists of things like rigged metal pipes with paint cans on the end sitting in a corner of the main room. Who is the in-house hairdresser? Yeama.
And Yeama I needed. After spending just one day in the fierce Sierra Leonean heat and humidity, this girl’s locks were frizzing out like never before. I admired the girls’ elaborately designed hairstyles and thought I might just need one myself. Not only did I want to identify with them and let them help me with something, I thought my hair could really use some work.
That afternoon after I finished teaching some drawing classes, Yeama appeared with a comb and I knew my time had come. She moved a chair to the dirt yard beside their house, and then the fun began. With John and Mariama on my lap and at least a dozen kids gathered around, we got started. I took my ponytail holder off and my hair seemed to puff out to three times its normal size. Soon two more girls, Hanumatu and Animata were on the job (I think Yeama must have signaled for backup!) They were dividing hair, and pulling here and there (ouch). I loved having my new friends so close and visiting with them as they worked.
“She’s giving you a plant!” Animata said. Not only is she doing my hair, but she’s giving me a plant, too? I thought. Yeama chimed in. “With roses!” Seriously, roses? That sounded special, but I sure hadn’t seen anything close to roses since I had been in Sierra Leone, and especially not in their poor village. Where in the world will they find roses? I finally figured out the hairdo itself was called a plant and that the braids swooping upward into a ponytail on the top of my head were called roses.
I couldn’t help but smile the entire time as I watched the faces of the dozen or so children gathered around me. They were mesmerized, entertained, and amused by the whole process of this white woman getting a plant. Some of the little ones caught hairs as they fell from my head and sat and stroked the long, smooth strands. Others leaned their elbows on a nearby ledge and rested their chins on their fists as they sat quietly watching. Still others leaned in on me in whatever places the hairdressers weren’t standing.
We talked about everything from the bothersome acne problems of the thirteen-year-old to stories in the Bible. We sang some songs together, too. The praise songs were special, and they were impressed that I also knew some Justin Bieber songs. How they knew his songs I have no idea – they live in a primitive village in a tin home without electronics (nor electricity and running water, for that matter). As the sun lowered toward the horizon, we got a break from the scorching heat and an almost-cool breeze blew. Animata kept saying over and over again, “So beautiful, so beautiful, Auntie Brenna!” But, I didn’t realized just how awesome my hair looked until the end of that one-and-a-half hour session when the teenage girls broke out in the song “African Queen”!
About ten minutes before they were done, John got down from my lap and ran off. He returned, quietly leaning on my side with my bright pink backpack on his lap and my large water bottle in his hand, one of the many times he looked out for me and carried my things for me. As the children all walked me back to the Brockelman’s home at sunset, some holding my hands and others happily flitting around me, I couldn’t imagine a place I would rather be at that moment.
I kept my plant for a week. Through Brussels, Belgium; Chicago, Illinois, then back to Dallas. I guess I felt it was one way I could bring home with me a little bit of Yeama and my new friends. I wish they could have seen my hair the day it came out of the plant. I persuaded Micah to take the first shift. He worked undoing braids on the back for 30 minutes, and finally begged off the job by reminding me he had piano practicing to do. My ten-year-old Karis and her friends Kate, Bella and Meadow finished the job, leaving me with a hairdo bigger than the 1980’s Diana Ross had ever dreamed of.
I guess it’s only appropriate that I would end this blog with a Diana Ross song dedication for my new friends – her #1 hit “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.”
It’s a tiresome 36-hour travel journey to you by planes, bus and boat, my new Sierra Leonean friends. But I want you to know that, Lord willing, there ain’t no mountain high enough, ain’t no valley low enough, ain’t no river wide enough to keep me away from you!
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