Monday, March 3, 2014

I've Moved!

I thank my God upon every remembrance of you. ~ Philippians 1:3


Hi Everyone!

I know it's been a while since I last posted, but I''ve been busily working on my new blog and website. I'll be posting only on the new blog now, but I hope you'll subscribe there soon. I'm excited about how God is leading me concerning this new direction. The tagline for the blog is: Building Strong, Godly Homes, One Story at a Time, and ties in with my architectural business. I hope you'll drop by and take a look around. The address is www.carolroper.org.

Thanks so much for being faithful followers!

Carol

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Perfect Accomodations

Why didn’t the innkeeper have room for Jesus?

Consider this; what if Jesus had been born in the inn?

The shepherds, who were summoned by a heavenly host of angels, may have never been let in. No one wanted to associate with lowly shepherds, considered the bottom rung in the social ladder and never invited to important events. They were outcasts. Thus, their presence in the inn would have caused an unwanted stir.

Would they’ve gone if the angels had heralded instead, “You shall find the baby in a private room at the inn, wrapped in a clean blanket and lying in a baby bassinet?” I’m sure they would have hesitated, wondering who would let them in.

But in a pungent stable they felt more at home. There was no prejudice there; they belonged, and therefore had no reservation about seeking out a manger holding the Savior.

Mary and Joseph welcomed these who came to worship their newborn son. How comforting it must have been for Mary, after going through the treacherous journey and the labor of her first-born, to see these men. It didn’t matter they were smelly social outcasts. Their soiled robes didn’t cause Mary to shoo them away; she wasn’t afraid of their dirt. She was, however, impressed with their presence. Obviously they’d been summoned by God to welcome this child. They affirmed Gabriel’s message. This was the Christ child.


If Jesus had been born in the inn, we may have missed the miracle of Christ stepping from His throne on high into the lowest of places to meet the lowliest of people, proving His love for every single one of us. A stable may not seem the best place for our Messiah’s entrance into the world, but God knew it was perfect.


May the goodness of Christ be revealed to you this blessed season.
Merry Christmas!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

The Power of a Simple Gift

The Christian who is pure and without fault, from God the Father's point of view, is the one who takes care of orphans and widows, and who remains true to the Lord - not soiled and dirtied by his contacts with the world. - James 1:27

Two weeks ago I went to, Allume, one of the best conferences for Christian women I’d ever attended. Even though it was billed as a conference for bloggers, I believe anyone would have gained much wisdom and insight from these dear women who led us to the feet of Jesus each day. If you were to ask me what my main take-away was, I’d say It’s not about me. Every speaker, singer, teacher and leader took the task of showing us how we can be intentional in our day in and day out of life to influence the world, regardless of whether or not you have a blog.

Alex passing out shoeboxes
Because of their passion for helping others, these leaders gave us an opportunity during the conference to choose a charity to connect with. These were sessions where many of the charitable sponsors allowed us to participate in helping in some way while teaching us more about their organization. Because I felt drawn to Operation Christmas Child (OCC), I chose it. During one of the earlier sessions a member of the OCC team, Alex, spoke of how this organization influenced his life by receiving a simple shoebox from a stranger. As an eight-year-old orphaned boy who had nothing of his own, this gift was huge and eventually led him to accept Christ. Now he travels and shares his amazing testimony wherever he’s called.

I need to stop here and confess I didn’t pack any shoeboxes last Christmas. Time got away from me and the collection date came and went before I was even aware of it. But one afternoon after Christmas, Focus on the Family had a woman from Russia who’d received one of the boxes when she was about 10 years old. The one thing she remembers most was the toothbrush. The orphanage she lived in only had one toothbrush for all of the children. This treasured gift showed her the love of Jesus in a way no one could have expected. I decided then to be intentional about remembering to pack a shoebox this year.

Anyway, after our group packed all of the boxes, complete with a personal note from each packer, we sat down to learn a little more about this ministry. Even though I’d collected shoeboxes for years, I never knew that each box is prayed over as if it were the child receiving it. Tears flowed as one woman who’d participated in the packing assembly shared how she was overwhelmed by the spirit of love that permeated the room as they stopped every so often and prayed for the children.


Even Uncle Si has gotten involved

I also wasn’t aware we’re allowed to include a picture of ourselves along with a personal note. One of the ladies shared how special it was for the children to see the people who cared enough about them to send this gift of love that, for many of the children, was the first gift they’d ever received. I cannot imagine their excitement when they see these boxes coming.

One thing about OCC that seems to be more unique when it comes to charities is every child who receives a box will definitely hear the Good News of Jesus Christ. They even have a 12-week Bible study for many of these children. They never try to hide the fact that their main objective is to win people to Jesus.

If you’d like, you can follow the boxes you pack by giving your $7 donation (what it costs to send each box) online. You’ll receive a label with a bar code that allows you to see what country it was shipped to. What a great way to get your kids excited about giving.

If you just don’t have the time to put one (or several) together, you can even build-a-box online. For a donation of $30, you can shop their website and virtually pack it yourself. How convenient is that?



The time has almost slipped up on me, though. Collection week is November 18-25 (I know, that’s not much time). You can go online to find your nearest drop-off location. Even though the time is short, please consider sacrificing a comparatively small amount of time and money to make sure at least one more child receives this special gift. This year, I'm committing to pack at least two boxes and including a photo of my family as well as a Christmas note. Let's be intentional about making a difference in God's kingdom.


If you’d like to see a list of suggested items or find out more about this program, please go to their website at www.samaritanspurse.org. 


Do any of you have a shoebox experience you’d like to share? I'd love to hear it. Please leave your message in the comments below.




Monday, October 7, 2013

What Are You Driving?

     Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.  
~ Isaiah 43:18-19


     Tears unexpectedly sprung to my eyes as I watched the old, gold Bronco being pulled out of our driveway. Jacob, our 17 year-old son, had just sold his pride and joy so he could buy a more practical vehicle. It was a wise decision, but I know it wrenched his heart as his eyes followed it being hauled behind the truck of its new owner, on its way to Florida.
     
     We’d purchased the 1973 Ford Bronco when Jacob was 15. It wasn’t in great shape, but it ran and that’s what was important at the time. He spent as much time as possible working on that truck, envisioning its potential. My husband, John, worked with him many a Saturday to bring “Bronkie”, as Jacob called it, back to its former glory. And, after three years of pouring his heart and soul (and cash!) into this vehicle, he’d nearly done it.
     
     In case I’ve never mentioned it before, Jacob is a 100% bon-a-fide redneck, rivaling any of the Duck Dynasty guys, and Bronkie helped to cement his image. You couldn’t miss seeing him when he drove around town, sun glinting off of that unusual color of gold. His truck was unique.
     
     But when school rolled around this year, Jacob’s love affair with Bronkie began to fade. Since he’d elected to go to the career center this year, he had an additional seven or eight miles to drive each day, which included a trip down the interstate complete with morning traffic.
     
     Now, I don’t know if you’ve ever had the privilege of riding in an old Bronco, but suffice it to say it’s not a luxury ride. The few times he coaxed me into riding with him I found that I could bounce higher than I thought possible, hoping against hope that a case of whiplash wasn’t in my future. And when I mercifully unfolded myself from the backseat, I felt like I was taking my life in my hands when I jumped from the cab.
     
     So, the morning commute wasn’t what it used to be for Jacob and he knew it was time for him and Bronkie to part ways. As much as he loved that old truck, the rough ride, low (7 miles to the gallon!) gas mileage and leaky roof confirmed his decision.
     
     Now Jacob’s driving a used, white Ford F-150 truck with a cab and a half and extremely better gas mileage. I can get in and out much easier and the ride is considerably smoother, which is certainly appreciated by this mother. It may be more difficult to spot him in a crowd, but he’s more comfortable and doesn’t get wet when it rains. Having Bronkie helped Jacob learn a lot about how to rebuild vehicles, and he’s putting that knowledge to good use as he’s pursuing an education in automotive technology. But now it’s time to move on.
    
     I must say, I’m proud of the wisdom Jacob showed when he gave up his beloved Bronco and replaced it with a dependable vehicle. It reveals his maturity, understanding we can’t always keep what we want in order to obtain what we need. Sometimes hard decisions must be made.
    
     So many times in life, change seems too difficult to confront. It’s much easier to sit in our comfort zone surrounded by the things, or people, we’re most familiar with. It’s scary to let go. But, if we’re willing to change and grow, we’ll eventually discover God’s best for us. We may think having a Bronco to drive around for fun is our perfect vehicle. However, God knows we’re going to need an F-150 to get us to the destination of His calling.

Is God calling you to let go of a “good” thing that’s of great importance to you? Ask Him for the courage to make the right decision so you can discover what “best” thing He wants to replace it with. I’m sure it will ultimately allow for a smoother ride.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

What's Buried in Your Backyard?

   
You know that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good He does... 
               ~ Ephesians 6:8


     Hello friends! I know it’s been a while since I’ve last posted. The summer was a busy one for us and now I’m struggling to get back into the rhythm of writing again.

     To be perfectly honest, rhythm isn’t the only thing I’ve been struggling with concerning my writing. Purpose, cause and focus have also thrown a monkey wrench of frustration into my weekly thoughts of inspiration, paralyzing my writing abilities. This past July I attended the Proverbs 31 She Speaks Conference, and, while it was an awesome experience where I learned so much, Satan used one session to make me begin over-thinking my “niche” audience. Since I’ve begun writing, I’ve had difficulty narrowing down my audience, or tribe as some like to call it, knowing only God was leading me to inspire and encourage women, and that was enough. But since that session, I’ve felt I couldn’t go on until I had a targeted tribe mapped out with laser focus. Thus, my lack of posting.

      A few weeks ago I was reading Vonda Skelton’s blog interview (www.vondaskelton.com)  with author Elaine Miller where Vonda asked when she knew she wanted to be a writer. Elaine shared that she’d never planned to be a writer, but felt compelled to record spiritual journals for future generations, hoping one day they’d be read. Then she heard a sermon on the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30) and realized she was just like the lazy servant who took what his master had given him and gave no return of profit. At that moment she was inspired to do more with her writing
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     When I read this it hit me right between the eyeballs. Even though I didn’t have a laser-focused niche, it didn’t give me an excuse to stop writing. The wicked servant didn’t know what to do with his talents, so he buried them in the backyard, much like I’d been doing. I began to realize that, if I keep asking God for a core audience, He’ll give it to me when He knows I’m ready. And if that doesn’t happen, I’ll assume He wants me to continue inspiring and encouraging women in general.

     When the master in the parable saw that the other two servants took what he’d given them and doubled it, he put them in charge of many things and said, “Come and share in your master’s happiness.”

     We, too, can enjoy happiness with our Master when we are faithful and fruitful with what He’s given us to steward. Obedience and faithfulness lead to joy. I don’t know about you, but I’ll take all the joy I can get in this hard world.


     God gives each of us unique talents, stories and perspectives so we may reach people for Him. Have you been like me, confused and afraid to proceed with what God has given you to do? Let’s not be like the wicked and lazy servant, whose master called him worthless. Instead, let’s look forward to one day hearing our Master say, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.”

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Happy Anniversary!

   "The two will become one flesh." So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together 
let man not separate. ~ Mark 10:8-91

     June 22nd is a very special day in the Roper household. That’s the day my husband, John, and I said “I do” before God, family and a church full of witnesses committing to love, honor and cherish each other until death do us part. That was 28 years ago and, by the grace of God, we’re still together.

     But we won’t be sharing a celebratory anniversary dinner this year as we have in years past. John is headed back from Utah on business and we won’t see each other until June 23rd. I know it seems silly, but I’ve never spent an anniversary without him and am just a little melancholy about it.


    As I ponder this thought, I’m reminded of all the spouses who’ve missed anniversaries, birthdays and numerous other special events because of their willingness to serve our nation far away from loved ones and feel blessed to have been able to spend 27 anniversaries with my hubby, appreciating all the more the sacrifices made of our military families. Since June is considered the most popular wedding month in our country, I would like to wish all of the husbands and wives who are apart and cannot celebrate this important occasion together a blessed day, experiencing the comfort of our Savior’s loving arms while missing your loved one’s touch. Your sacrifice has not gone unnoticed and you are appreciated for your dedication to protecting the freedoms of this great nation, whether you’re on the field or holding down the home front. I pray you’ll be able to spend your next anniversary together, rejoicing in your love for one another and the goodness of God to bring you back together. So, Happy Anniversary and thank you for stepping up when duty calls.




     And Happy Anniversary to my sweet husband. Thank you, John, for loving and supporting me through good times and bad over the last 28 years. Your commitment to me and our family has never wavered and I love you even more because of it. This June 22nd I’ll be missing you, but I’ll also be looking forward to spending at least the next 28 more together. I love you!!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Daddy's Hands

For I have chosen him, so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just. ~ Genesis 18:19



      I smell the sweet aroma of sawdust wafting through the air as my dad works on our playhouse in the backyard. I can’t help but walk further back in the yard to join him as he saws and hammers. I sit and watch, amazed that he can take random pieces of lumber and put them together in such a way as to build something my brother, sister and I will eventually spend much time enjoying. Although Daddy loved working with wood, his profession was entirely different, never letting him stay in one place at a time like carpentry did.

     Daddy was a truck driver, gone much of my childhood delivering for Woolworth stores. When he occasionally drove that big rig home and parked it in our driveway, my siblings and I couldn’t wait to get out there and crawl over and under the cab and trailer. Sometimes we pretended to play house under the wheels of the trailer or dream of driving the enormous vehicle as we sat behind the wheel, churning it back and forth with excitement.

     I enjoyed telling my classmates my dad was a truck driver. Their eyes would widen, impressed by his obvious driving skills because they had seen the movie Smoky and the Bandit and knew anyone who drove an 18 wheeler and talked on the CB radio was super-cool.

     I loved listening to Daddy talk on the CB. “Breaker, breaker, one-nine,” he would say on many of our long road trips to see his family,” anybody out there got your ears on? This is Yankee-Mo looking to see if there are any bears out there tonight.”

      Then we might hear someone respond with their handle saying, “Hey there Yankee-Mo. Just saw a bear in the woods taking pictures at mile marker 117.” That let my dad know to slow down because police were shooting radar ahead.

     My dad’s handle, or CB name, was Yankee-Mo because he is originally from upstate New York and his last name is Limoges, which most people have trouble pronouncing correctly. The other drivers tagged him with it and it stuck.

     Although I thought it was cool having a truck driver for a dad, it wasn’t cool having to tiptoe around the house during the day while he slept, afraid of waking daddy in the next room. Even though we tried so hard to keep quiet, sometimes it was impossible for us kids to remember or even realize we were making too much noise. On those numerous occasions when we forgot, we were quickly reminded when he came barreling out of the bedroom, disheveled and angry.

     But when Daddy worked with wood in the garage or on something out in the yard, it seemed to give him a real sense of enjoyment. Maybe that’s why I liked being around him during those times. I might hand him some nails or his hammer or even hold something while he nailed it together. We never really talked much, me watching and him working. But there was sort of a bond there during those times.

     After he finished building the big barn playhouse, my brother, sister and I had a great time pretending to live in the loft and driving the go cart around our yard like it was our car, parking it out front in case we needed to “run to the store”. I never really thought about how much Daddy must have enjoyed seeing us having so much fun out there until many years later. Using his hands to bring us pleasure must have made him proud.

     Sometimes I’ll ride by our old house in the country and painstakingly look over the property, seeing how much has changed since we moved away all those years ago. But the big barn playhouse in the backyard has long been torn down.

     The first time I rode by and realized it was gone I was appalled. I couldn’t understand how anyone could not want such an awesome structure in their backyard. Obviously, it didn’t have the same significance to them as it did to us kids and our dad. But we still have those special memories just the same. And I‘m sure there must be some pictures of it stashed away in one of my mom’s old photo boxes.

     It’s funny how you don’t realize at the time how much something impacts you. As I think back on those times sitting with Daddy while he hammered and sawed, I realize that’s where I began to sketch out house plans. In my fourth grade mind, I saw them as a puzzle, trying to figure out how the rooms fit together. Years later I became an architect and still enjoy putting together the puzzle pieces of house plans.

      After following in my dad’s footsteps and joining the Army, my younger brother eventually came back home and went into the carpentry profession. He mostly builds custom cabinets and some furniture. I think my dad secretly would have loved such a profession, something that was more tangible than putting thousands of miles of road behind him each week. But it certainly paid the bills and we never lacked for anything we needed.

     My baby sister became a jack-of-all trades, working in everything from fine china in Rich’s department store to the office of a trucking company before finally deciding to open her own embroidery and gift shop. She keeps my dad, who’s now retired, very busy with small construction projects for her store. I can see the enthusiasm in his eyes when he is given the opportunity to create something to display her wares.

 

     Reflecting on all of this today, I recognize the impact Daddy had on me and my siblings and appreciate the many sweet experiences we had growing up, even to the point of influencing our careers. So today, I would like to recognize my Daddy, Don Limoges, and say thank you for influencing me for good. I love you and wish you a blessed Father’s Day!


I can’t let this special day pass without saying what wonderful fathers my husband, John, and father-in-law, Bob Roper, are as well. All three of you have been a special blessing to me and our children. Happy Father’s Day!

In what good ways has your father influenced you?

 Be sure to let him know this Father’s Day!