Dec 20, 2012

What Christmas means to me

published: Cordele Dispatch 12/20/12

I love all the sparkle and glitter of the holiday season!  Huge Christmas trees are filled with lights and jeweled ornaments.  Rooms are lit only by the soft glow of candle light.  Nativity scenes feature the Christ Child, the baby Jesus.
I love the meals shared with family and friends.  I enjoy the gift swaps and Christmas programs.  I even enjoy the shopping trips to find the perfect gifts for those special to me.
I also love the feeling in the air at Christmas.  It seems to be the one time of the year that most people act a little nicer, smile more often, and give more easily.  It’s the one time of the year that we place other things on hold and try to focus on the things that matter most in life….our faith and our families.  
One night recently, I was thinking about all of these things.  Although it was early, it was already dark outside.  As I drove into town to attend the annual soup & cornbread supper at our church to raise money for the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering, I was reminded that I also love the simplicity of the Christmas season in a small town. 
Instead of skyscrapers twinkling in the sky, I see the red & green of the two traffic lights in town.  The street lights boast their own holiday adornment and church buildings are decorated with wreaths and bows.  Homes are decked out in garlands and lights inside and out. 
As I marveled at my own love of small town celebrations, I was reminded of that special night long ago when the Christ child entered this world.  It wasn’t in a place decorated to the hilt in celebration of His arrival.  It was in a small, dark stable filled with the smell of hay and animals.  He was not greeted as royalty, but with the unconditional love of a mother and father. 
On this cold dark night, the reason for the Christmas season had come.  He didn’t expect anything more, for He had come for the lowliest of people.  The most majestic part of the night had been when the multitude of angels descended from heaven and announced the Savior’s birth to a field of shepherds.  Even with our best decorations, I’m sure we could not compete with such a spectacular display.
Jesus Christ had come to earth in the form of a little baby.  He came for you and for me.  It doesn’t matter who we are or what we have.  We are all equally loved by Him.  He wants nothing more than to be loved by us.  "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life" John 8:12 (NIV). 
As we celebrate this Christmas, let’s not get distracted by the sights, sounds, and celebrations of the season.  We must remember what Christmas is really about.  Jesus is the reason for the season. 
Just as Mary kissed the face of Jesus that cold, dark night, she also felt his every breath and heard every sound he made.  I believe Mary focused only on her child that Christmas night, not her circumstances, needs, or wants. 
I think that’s a reminder to me of why I love the simplicity of small town living.  Without all the traffic and multitudes of people, it’s easier for me to focus on the true meaning of Christmas.  Because I find more time to sit in silence and seek His will, it’s easier to see and hear him in the little things each day.
Christmas is about the simplicity of a baby in a manger.  He was born in a cold, dark world but He came to bring us light and a love like we have never known.  If we look for Him, we will find Him, though he is no longer a baby in a manger.  He is our Lord and Savior who reigns from His throne in heaven.  This is what Christmas means to me.
Lynn Langford

Dec 7, 2012

Acteens thankful for teachers

I have the privilege of leading our Acteens group at FBC Rochelle.  This mission organization is made up of teenage girls, 7th - 12th grades. 

I shared with you earlier about our first project during the month of October, Care vs. Cardboard.  In November, we decided to show our appreciation and thanks to their school teachers.

A couple of weeks before Thanksgiving, we met at the church and baked some delicious cookies for their grade teachers.  I found a picture of some apple cookies online (so perfect for teachers, no?) and recruited the help of our friend, Toria Brown to create these sweet treats :)

Toria has her own baking business and shares her talents by baking sweet treats for many of our church occasions.  We couldn't have completed this task without her!

rolling out the dough

Thankfully, we have two of everything in our kitchen at the church, so it was easy and convenient for the girls to spread out.

They were so easy to cut out!

apple cookie cutters

Having fun in the flour!

Toria made these cute little mice and acorns for the girls to enjoy. 

She also made cake balls on sticks!  I brought what we needed to make our own cappuccinos for them to enjoy in their spare time while waiting on the cookies to finish baking.

Lots of laughs :)

mixing up the icing

Now the detailed work begins!

Aren't they adorable?!

We packaged them up in clear bags so the cookies could be the main decoration.  I made cute little tags for each one that said: "Thanks to you, I feel like one smart cookie"

Cute....even if I do say so myself!

I'm looking forward to other fun projects with this special group of young ladies :)

Nov 15, 2012

My concern for America

(published in Cordele Dispatch 11/15/12)

I have experienced a mixture of emotions since our recent election day.  My thoughts are not of any particular political party, but politics as a whole and how divided we are as a country.  I have disagreed with certain policies from former administrations and I am in shock at some of the policies of our current administration.  In regards to amendments in several states across the country, I do not understand how these amendments were even considered for a ballot, much less voted on and passed.  Where are God’s people?  While we will certainly not all agree on every political issue, I have come to realize the truth in the old saying, “You have to stand for something or you’ll fall for anything”.  As a Christian, I am more determined than ever to take a stand for what is right and just based on God’s Word.  Just as so many others, I am troubled about the state of our country and the direction in which we are headed.
I awoke in the middle of the night after the election results with a heavy heart.  As a Christian, I’m rightly concerned with policies on the issue of abortion.  As a woman, I understand the argument that it’s our own bodies and we should have the right to make our own decisions about our healthcare.  But I have to question if some even know what’s best for them when so much of what they have been told is a lie. 
I believe all life is created by God and we suffer the consequences when we decide who lives and who dies.  A pregnancy may be unplanned, but it doesn’t have to end in the added hurt and pain that abortion causes.  I cried myself back to sleep that night thinking about the unborn – those precious aborted babies that will never experience the freedom that so many in our country have fought to give them...and are still fighting for. They don’t have a choice in the situation…..someone else decided it for them.  I know that many times abortion minded individuals are young girls that are alone and afraid.  They don’t think they have the option to choose life.  As Christians, we must stand in the gap for these and provide alternatives for them to help them to choose life.  In my opinion, the issue of abortion should take priority over our own “pocket books” when it comes to voting on political policies. 
As a Christian, my heart grieves for a nation filled with lost souls that are seeking fulfillment in temporary pleasures and desires, with no regard for right or wrong.  I grieve for a country divided, fighting about issues that were once considered immoral and unjust, but are now considered the ‘norm’.
The morals and values that once made our country a great place to live have slowly been disappearing through the years. Our society today demands instant gratification and looks for quick remedies to solve all of our problems and fulfill our selfish desires.  There is less regard for wrongdoing and the word, “sin’, is rarely used except from our church’s pulpits.  Biblical marriage is scoffed at and Christians are discriminated against.  Other religions demand their rights yet at the same time try to take away the rights of Christians.  America is considered the land of the free – but as Christians, we are slowly losing our freedoms.    
In an effort not to offend those who believe differently, the church has remained silent for a long time.  Many have been brain washed into believing that Christians have no place in politics and that our voices do not matter.  We have been silent for so long that when we do speak up, even in love, we are accused of being intolerant and out of touch with reality.   But our silence must come to an end and we must stand up for ourselves and the future of the church.  Our voices need to be heard and we must become more active in the political process.    
Today, I was reminded of Ronald Reagan’s speech at the First Conservative Political Action Conference: “We will be a city upon a hill.  The eyes of all people are upon us, so that if we deal falsely with our God in this work we have undertaken and so cause Him to withdraw His present help from us, we shall be made a story and a byword throughout the world”.  I am afraid this is already happening.  Across the globe, opinions of the United States of America are not what they once were.  Our light has become dim.    
Before this election, many Christians across the United States were on our knees in prayer.  We have been praying for our current and future leaders and how decisions in Washington will affect us in the coming days.  Our prayers do not need to stop now just because the election is over.  The fight for Christian morals and values to remain in this country is not over. 
God hears His people when they call to Him.  He may not always answer in the ways we expect, but we can trust Him to do what’s best and work things according to His Will.  “For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil." 1 Peter 3:12

Oct 23, 2012

Care vs. Cardboard

Care vs. Cardboard is a project inspired by a young lady attending college at Georgia State University.  She is a friend of my son, Dillan, and an inspiration to me...although I've never met her. 

As students, they see countless numbers of homeless people on their way to class.  There is a park in the nearby area that they pass when they walk down a certain street.  Because this park is public property, the homeless people in the area are allowed to stay, but they do not have shelter of any kind to protect them from the elements.  This young lady has been moved by God to do something about this.  Knowing that winter is not far away, she is collecting blankets, sheets, pillows, and other such items to give to these people in such great need. 

I was so moved by her compassion to help people she doesn't even know that I wanted to do my part to help with such a worthy cause. 

This is a great project for Acteens!

I was excited to be asked to lead the Acteens group at our church this year.  This group consists of young ladies from 7th - 12th grades. 
If you're not familiar with Acteens, it's a missions organization designed to teach young ladies about missions and how they can minister to others - not only in their communities, but in their country and around the world. 

This year's theme is: G3: The Power of a Girl to Change the World

I thought the Care vs. Cardboard project would be a great way to share how they can help with missions in their own state.  From now until this Sunday, October 28th, we have a collection box at First Baptist Church in Rochelle.  If you'd like to donate items for this worthwhile cause, please drop them by the church.  I would also be glad to pick up items if you are not able to deliver them. 

I ask that you remember these students  involved in this project...that God would use them in great ways to show Himself to those in need.  It doesn't matter what your age, young or old, God uses those who are willing.   

Prayer Empowerment Weekend

There's nothing like the power of prayer.  First Baptist Church Rochelle held our first Prayer Empowerment Weekend recently.  Beginning on a Friday night with supper and large and small group time, we spent the entire weekend learning more about how to have an effective prayer life.

Bob and Phyllis Foy spear-headed the event.  They brought in a team of individuals to teach us and lead us throughout the weekend.  Mr. Lowell Snow was the featured speaker and he did an outstanding job!

We were led in traditional hymns to open up each session.

church pianist: Norma Jean Wilkerson

Pastor: Jim Wiley

Scott and Argent always do a great job with video/audio.
Our church is blessed to have them!

On Saturday morning, we held prayer meetings in the homes of different church members.  Scott and I were honored to host one of these at our home.

After the prayer meeting, our group headed back to town to "Prayer Walk" one of the neighborhoods.

Here we are organizing ourselves

Even the children participated with their parents

I love this view we had when we first started down the street!  How encouraging!

We prayed for the school bus drivers in our county...

...and the students in our schools...

...for those living in the neighborhood where we walked...
and were thankful for the reminders to pray for our country.

We even walked by my childhood home.  Here I stopped and prayed specifically for my sweet mama.

We prayed for the college students at this technical school as well.

After the walk, we headed back to the church for lunch. 

You know us Baptists love to eat!

Then the women and men split up and had our own group time.

our pastor's wife: Sandra Wiley

Our speaker for the ladies group did a great job as well!

(a view from the balcony of one of the sessions)

This young lady shared her powerful testimony Saturday night. 
She was also one of the leaders for our home prayer meting.

(my sister and one of her daughters enjoying the event)

It was a very special I will not soon forget.  I'm very thankful that we took this opportunity to focus on the importance of prayer.  Our churches need to be in constant prayer for our families, our communities, and for our country.  With the upcoming elections, the timing could not have been more appropriate.  I'm so thankful that we, as Christians, can go to our Heavenly Father at any moment and speak directly to Him.  Jesus is there at His side, constantly interceding for us. 

There is Power in PRAYER!