Category Archives: Family

My Favorite Pen

It was the time for gift giving this past December. Our children, their spouses, our grandchildren, Donna, and I were all assembled for the yearly ritual.

As you might expect, the grandchildren were especially excited. That just seems to come with the territory when young children are involved.

However, this time there was something different about the excitement. To be sure, one of our granddaughters was excited about the gifts she might (and did) receive. She was also excited, though, about the fact that she had found gifts to give to the other family members. 

We found out later that she did a lot of her “shopping” around the house in which she and the rest of the family live. Her mother told us that she had to step in and “supervise” so that some valuable and useful things weren’t given away.

Finally, it was my turn to open my present! I’ve told people repeatedly that they’ve never seen something exactly like the gift I received. I carry it with me most of the time.

What I received is a combination ballpoint pen and stylus. It is a ballpoint pen on one end and a stylus for a tablet on the other.

Again, before you say that you’ve seen something just like this or before you say that you own one (or several) like this, I need to let you know why I don’t think that is true. You have not seen one that has the story behind it that this one does.

You see, when I opened the present and saw what I had received, I thanked my granddaughter. I’m sure every grandparent would do exactly that. That would not be unusual.

What was unusual was her response. She seemed very proud of herself and very satisfied that I liked her gift as she said:

“You’re welcome, Grampy. It didn’t work on my tablet.”

As I joined the other members of our family in laughter, my mind was racing in several different directions. One of those directions has to do with the openness and honesty of children. There is something refreshing about the fact that they haven’t quite mastered tactfulness, political correctness, etc. 

I also thought about the concept of “payback.” As our daughter tried to “make the situation better,” I thought of an incident that happened when she was even younger than our granddaughter is now. We had a couple of elderly ladies in our home for a meal.  During the meal – and for no apparent reason – our daughter said, “You two sure are old, aren’t you?” 

There was a kind of perverse satisfaction on my part that she was now the one dealing with something like this.  As they say – what goes around comes around. 

On a much more serious note, though, one of the directions in which my mind went had to do with how God views what I give Him. When it comes to my time, my energy, my financial resources, etc. do I offer to him only what is left over or what won’t work for me?

If that is what I do, I need to spend a lot more time in studying and meditating on the Word of God. If I will do that, I will find that I am wasting my time. 

God expects and deserves to be first in our hearts and lives. He expects and deserves and to receive only the best of what I have to offer. Anything else is unacceptable to Him.

I’m hoping that this somewhat humorous incident that occurred in our family will cause all of us to do serious soul-searching. I know it has caused this “Grampy” to do that.

By the way; the answer is “no.” The stylus does not work on my tablet. 

I carry it anyway. It is a reminder to me that somebody very special to me did what she could think of to do to try to show me that I am special to her.

I hope the Lord views my feeble attempts to serve Him in the same way.


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AUTHOR: Jim Faughn

Episode 82: How to Actually Enjoy a Busy Summer [Podcast]

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Summer is a wonderful time of year. If families are not intentional, however, the summer can pass without doing all those things they want to do. On this podcast, Adam and Leah talk about their busy summer, and share a few simple tips for making sure you enjoy these months and all the activities they contain.

Links

Transitions” (Donna Faughn on A Legacy of Faith)

Making Summer Plans” (Arrows in Our Hand podcast)

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Transitions

Cousins’ Camp 2017 has come and gone for another year. We have worshiped together, played games, done crafts, done sidewalk chalk, jumped at Vertical Jump Park, had our picture taken wearing our Cousin’s Camp T-shirts, eaten food (and lots of it), won prizes, put new flowers on the graves of their great-grandparents, fussed a little, cried a little, laughed a lot, had our talent show, sung together, prayed together, and had devotionals presented by Grampy and the three boys.

This was our fifth year for this gathering and it seemed like everyone had a good time. Three years ago we began assigning a theme for each year. The first theme was “Discovery” and the second was “Exploration.” This year’s theme was “Transitions.”

We’ve had some transitions in our family (just like each family does) that were worth thinking about. Jim retired from full-time pulpit preaching, Luke turned 16 and will be getting a driver’s license, and the younger ones have transitioned to higher grades. While no one moved to another place in the last year, each of them has undergone transitions in their lives as they moved to new places to live and attend school.

We want our grandchildren to understand that transitions come into each of our lives, and while some of them seem of little importance, some are much larger and affect life more drastically.

When the boys gave their devotionals, we were pleased to hear them talk about those in the Bible who underwent transitions in life. They talked about Saul of Tarsus, the Ethiopian eunuch, Jesus, and others who had great transitions in their lives. One even mentioned people from history like Martin Luther who made transitions in life.   

When our final prayer was said on our last morning together, Luke (our oldest grandson) talked about this theme and asked God to help us with the transitions that come into our lives. He thanked God for the time we got to spend together, and asked God for safety as they began to travel home.

Jim and I have been blessed to watch these grandchildren transition through life. With all of the ups and downs they still are moving in the direction of Heaven. Our daily prayer for them is that they will always live in such a way that their final transition will be to their heavenly home. I think they understand that a little better now after Cousin’s Camp 2017…”Transitions.”

“Only take care, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life.  Make them known to your children and your children’s children…

so that they may learn to fear me all the days that they live on the earth, and that they may teach their children so.“  Deuteronomy 4:9,10


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AUTHOR: Donna Faughn

Free Resources for Pew Packers (or Family Devotionals)

Nearly every Sunday evening, I get the privilege of sitting down front with some of our elementary and preschool children at 9th Avenue and leading Pew Packers. While you just never know what might happen during those 10 minutes, it is a joy to watch these students sing and learn Bible facts.

Pew Packers is considered by some to be outdated, but that is only if we treat it as such! Instead, I see it as 10 invaluable minutes each week with these precious children. As such, we are always looking for ways to improve Pew Packers and to make it a helpful time for our students.

Today, I am pleased to let you know that we have compiled a good amount of the information we have used, are using, and plan to use in Pew Packers and we have made it available on our website…for free!

At Polishing the Pulpit last year, I heard someone give an idea for a “Bible Passport,” and immediately wrote down the idea as something for our Pew Packers to do. We waited until after the Lads to Leaders convention to start our “Bible Travelers,” but I think the kids are really catching on.

Each week, we sing some songs, then we rehearse a few Bible facts. If a student memorizes a list, they are given a stamp that reads “9th Avenue Pew Packers Bible Traveler” in their passport. They also can get stamps for memorizing Bible verses.

With that in mind, you will find 3 pages of information on our Pew Packers page:

Bible Adventures Achievement List. This page lists the requirements for students to earn stamps in their passports. Some are very easy (sing the books of the New Testament), because we want quick “wins,” and also because we have some preschoolers in Pew Packers. Others, however, are more difficult. I’m sure that, over time, we will add more lists so our students can earn even more stamps.

Pew Packers Songs. We sing a lot in Pew Packers. Most of the songs are well-known, but we still wanted to provide a recording of the song, as well as the lyrics, just in case some do not know them.

Memory Verse Songs. Since students can earn stamps for memorizing Bible verses, we want to have a resource for families to help their kids with this. So, we have a page where we put short, simple, and memorable songs that teach Bible verses to kids. This list is growing constantly, especially as we emphasize memorizing verses from 1st and 2nd Corinthians this year for Lads to Leaders.

We hope this page is one you bookmark and will use often. Certainly, there are so many other things that can be done in Pew Packers or other similar programs, but we hope this at least gives you some more material to use. If your congregation does not have a program like this, these pages still contain information you may want to use in your family devotionals.

Either way, we hope you will take advantage of our Pew Packers information and help precious children learn the Word of God.

To access the page, simply click here.


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AUTHOR: Adam Faughn

Hurting People are No Different than Fallen Trees

Boom! Whoosh! Clap! Crunch! Crash! These sounds were heard Saturday evening in Cookeville, Tennessee, where I live. Thousands of trees came down all over the county. Many of those trees landed on the tops of houses.

I woke up Sunday morning got out early and surveyed the damage. Many roads were still impassable. It looked like bombs had gone off and there was debris everywhere. If you looked right or left you could see the devastation. Power lines and trees were the biggest casualties. It will take our city a while to recover. It was a “hundred-year-old tree pulled up by the roots once in a lifetime” kind of storm.

When something like this happens to a town, people usually band together. For the last two days in Cookeville, there has been the constant sound of chainsaws buzzing. People are helping their neighbors and friends to recover. A person would have to have blinders on not to notice there was a need. When a huge tree is split three ways down the middle in the center of somebody’s yard it’s kind of hard to just believe that situation will go away. It needs to be addressed. The problem needs solving. It’s not beyond our capacity to solve it so we simply stop what we are doing and get to work.

While this seems so simple, I find it rather puzzling that when people are hurting in ways that don’t involve trees in their yard we often have a hard time noticing. We drive down the road of life, eyes straight ahead and, while people may be in our lives, we don’t look left or right into their lives enough to see that they have an issue. If we would just pay the slightest bit of attention we would see that people are hurting and they need our compassion and concern.

Or maybe the truth is that we CAN see that people are hurting. I recall Jesus telling a parable about a traveler that was robbed and beaten and left for dead on the road. He was passed by two men who claimed to be God’s children who saw his condition and did nothing. Maybe it was because they didn’t want the trouble. Maybe it was because they simply didn’t care. Maybe it was because they were too busy with their own business to pause in their day and lend a hand to a person that had fallen because he was broken by a terrible storm he hadn’t anticipated.

Hurting people are no different than fallen trees. Storms come. People bend until they break. The results are sometimes life-changing and devastating and there is a lot of debris.

Do we notice? Do we care? Will we offer to help? We define ourselves and our real purpose by how we answer these questions.

Because people are much more important than houses, yards, and trees.

“So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves? And he said, ‘He who showed mercy on him.’ Then Jesus said to him, ‘Go and do likewise.’”

Luke 10:36-37


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AUTHOR: Jeremiah Tatum

Photo background credit: Ash Kyd on Creative Commons

A Small Drawer, but With Huge Implications

Not too long ago, I was asked to speak at the memorial service for a fine Christian lady. During the service, something caught my attention.

At one point during the service, I was seated in a location where I had a very clear view of a very small drawer. Because of the location of the chair in which I was seated, I was able to, in effect, look over the shoulder of the body of the lady and see the edge of the bottom half of the lid of the casket. 

As I did that, I saw something I’ve seen a few times before. For some reason, though, this time it caught my attention and caused me to do some thinking. From the angle I had, it was very clear that the casket had been designed with a very small drawer in that portion of the casket. 

I thought I knew the purpose for the drawer, but I decided to go online to make sure I was correct in my thinking. As it turns out, I was correct. I found the following information on iMortuary.com:

Today’s funeral caskets have the option to come equipped with specialty drawers that allow you to incorporate a uniquely personal touch. Located on the lid or side panels, these memorial drawers are similar to ones you might find in a jewelry chest—small, elegant, and perfect for holding mementos that signify a lifetime of happiness.

The same website also provides the following information and suggestions:

Common items placed in the drawers include:

  • Wedding rings
  • Copies of photographs
  • Favorite books
  • Anything associated with a hobby or sport
  • Military or fraternal organization mementos
  • Letters to the deceased

Other options might include a packet of flower seeds for a gardener, a driving glove for an avid car lover, or some tees and a golf ball for a golfer.

If you are familiar with my often weird sense of humor, it will probably come as no surprise for you to learn that I smiled a little when I read the following on that same website:

“If you do choose to bury the deceased with some personal items, it’s important to remember that these are items you will not get back.”

On a much more serious note, I truly believe that there are some huge implications which may, in some ways, be symbolized by a drawer in a casket. Among those implications are the following:

  • Love does not stop when a heart stops beating.  Love lives beyond the grave. In fact, according to my understanding of 1 Cor. 13, love is greater than both faith and hope because, unlike them, it lasts throughout eternity. The love that God has for His people and the love they have for Him will never end. 
  • Sometimes, we wait too late to express how we really feel.  I wonder how many notes have been placed in caskets or how many words have been said as a person looks into a casket that would have done a lot more good if that had happened while the person was still alive. 
  • Something does not have to be huge to be great.  There was no huge storage container sitting next to that casket. There was only a small drawer in the casket itself. “Daily doses” of seemingly small acts of kindness probably do more to demonstrate love for spouses, parents, etc. than huge, elaborate gifts and/or celebrations.
  • We have an innate belief in life beyond the grave.  I have known many (too many) people who live as though this life is all there is to their existence. However, when I have been able to have really serious conversations with them, I find that they really do not believe that. They may scoff at the idea of any concept of judgment, heaven, and/or hell, but they honestly cannot totally dismiss the idea that they will exist somewhere after this life is over. 

Your list of implications may be much, much longer than mine. These are just few that come fairly quickly to my mind.

What you may have expected to see in that short list of implications was something about the futility of trying to take anything with us beyond the grave. That was not an accidental omission on my part. 

There is, in fact, something that we can “take with us” as we depart this life and enter the next life. What I have in mind is not anything that can be provided by anybody else; regardless of how much they love me, care for me, and want to help. It is entirely up to me. 

And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them (Rev. 14:13, KJV, emphasis added).


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AUTHOR: Jim Faughn

Sun and More and Stars Galore!

One of my favorite Bible songs to sing with my children when they were younger was the Days of Creation song. Many of you may recognize today’s title from the verse about Day 4: “Day 4, day, 4: Sun and moon and stars galore!”

At my school, we are gearing up for a very special day involving those elements of God’s universe. Quoting from the website GreatAmericanEclipse.com:

On August 21, 2017, millions of people across the United States will see nature’s most wondrous spectacle — a total eclipse of the Sun. It is a scene of unimaginable beauty; the Moon completely blocks the Sun, daytime becomes a deep twilight, and the Sun’s corona shimmers in the darkened sky. This is your guide to understand, prepare for, and view this rare celestial event.

I recently attended a training geared toward helping teachers incorporate this great event into the standards they are required to cover. There were amazing and creative ways to help even our youngest students gain knowledge from this event. One of my favorites involved our kindergarteners getting to chart the sun’s position at different times of the day on a panoramic photo of our actual school.

One thing stood out to me in this training that was probably not intended. The presenters kept talking about the rarity of this event and how many different elements have to be precisely in line for this to occur. The moon has to be at an exact distance from the earth in its orbit. The tilt must be perfect. The website I referenced above says it this way: “We on Earth occupy a celestial sweet spot to witness this sight.

And yet, many of the online videos and scientific sites refer to coincidence. They seem amazed that the universe could randomly and yet perfectly align for this to happen. May I suggest that it’s because it wasn’t random and didn’t “just happen”?!

Design demands a designer and since they were very little, my children have known that the Designer, on Day 4, made the sun and moon and stars galore! To put it in God’s words from Genesis 1:14-19:

And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years, and let them be lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light upon the earth.” And it was so. And God made the two great lights—the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night—and the stars. And God set them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day.

For the record, many of my public school coworkers agree with my sentiments. Parents, make sure your children do, too. I encourage you to look up this August 21, whether you are in the path of totality, as we in Cookeville are, or under the penumbra (partial eclipse). As you look up and view this amazing, once-in-a-lifetime event, remember the Designer who designed it and marvel at His works.

The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.” ~Psalm 19:1


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AUTHOR: Amber Tatum

Integrity

A wealthy man had a friend who was a good contractor but had been down on his luck. Wanting to do him a favor, the rich man hired his friend with the following stipulations: “Here is $200,000.00. Build me a new home. If you do a good job, I will pay you very well.”

Excited, the contractor went to work. A $200,000.00 fund was a bountiful resource. But the more he thought about it, the more he wanted a part of the money for himself. He began to cut corners – cheap lumber, shoddy plumbing, watered-down cement, and so on. He tried to hide the poorly constructed house with a great paint job. On the outside, everything looked good. He was ready to present the house. When he was all finished, he saved $40,000.00. After putting the extra money in his pocket, he went to drop off the keys to the new homeowner.

When the wealthy man greeted him, a smile of great charity came across his face. He said to the contractor, “Thank you so much for all of your time and efforts. You have done a wonderful job! Now it’s my turn to do something for you. I really don’t need a new house, the one I have is fine. My payment is to give you the house. After all, you built it.”

Proverbs 11:3 says – “The integrity of the upright will guide them, but the perversity of the unfaithful will destroy them.” Integrity is defined as “honesty, sincerity, completeness, unimpaired condition.” Acting with integrity implies being truthful, thorough, and displaying righteousness which comes from the heart.

Concerning his ministering and teaching Paul wrote by the Spirit to Titus saying, “In all things showing yourself to be a pattern of good works; in doctrine showing integrity, reverence, incorruptibility, sound speech that cannot be condemned, that one who is an opponent may be ashamed, having nothing evil to say of you” (Titus 2:7).

Notice that integrity is expected “in all things.” People who will cheat for a dime will also cheat for more. Therefore, Jesus said, “He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is also unjust in much. Therefore if you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches?” (Luke 16:10-11).

Consider the contractor. He was willing to sacrifice integrity for $40,000.00. It was going to cost much more to fix the house than the money he was able to save. If he would have only built it properly, he could have moved right in. The consequences were simple. He built a house not fit for living in. He built a house that needed to be condemned.

Each and every day you and I are building an eternal home. One day the Lord will come with keys in hand, saying, “Enter into your eternal abode. My payment is to give you this house. After all, you built it!” Makes a person think about how they’re building…

As for me, You uphold me in my integrity, and set me before Your face forever” – Psalm 41:12


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AUTHOR: Jeremiah Tatum

Describing Your Children

Your children are ___________.

How would you fill in that blank? Better yet; how would you like for others to fill in that blank?

Those of us who are parents (or grandparents) have probably had the experience of somebody filling in that blank for us. It may have been in the course of a conversation. It may have been in some sort of formal setting. It could be almost anywhere. It could be almost any time. 

Somebody will walk up to us, drop us a note, send a text, call us on the phone, or in some way communicate to us what his or her opinion is of our children. We may have tears after that experience. 

They may be tears of anger. Some inconsiderate and unfeeling person has said something to us that did not help at all. In fact, it seemed as though their only intention was to hurt.

Because I have been hurt, the tears may have been tears of pain. To be sure, the criticism that caused the hurt may have been totally justified. It still hurts when I learn that my child has done or said something that goes against everything I’ve tried to instill in him or her. 

The tears may be tears of sorrow. Along with the hurt (and maybe the anger), I may feel genuine sorrow because of what my child has done or said. I may also be moved to tears for how the words, deeds, or lifestyle has affected my child. He or she may be in a situation and/or an environment that is nowhere near optimal. 

Of course, there is another possibility. I could hear something about my child that brings tears of joy!

Here is where the real soul-searching begins. What could be said about your child that would cause you to shed tears of joy? What word would you put in that blank that would accomplish that?

May I suggest a few that would do that for a lot of people?

  • Your children are handsome/beautiful/good looking.
  • Your children are smart.
  • Your children are athletic.
  • Your children are popular.
  • Your (adult) children are rich.
  • Your (adult) children are powerful.
  • Your (adult) children are well-connected.

May I suggest a word that is not on that list? May I also suggest that it takes a lot of hard work on the part of parents? May I further suggest that the reason that this is not said to more parents about more children is that far too many parents are entirely too concerned about some of the “blank fillers” I’ve already suggested?

Along with all of those suggestions, it must be acknowledged that children do not come with guarantees. All of us know godly, devoted parents who worked diligently and prayerfully to “…bring (their children) up in the nurture and the admonition of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4). This is not being written as any sort of blanket indictment of parents who cannot hear the word that I have in mind.

What I am trying to suggest is that there will, indeed, be tears of anger, pain, and sorrow in every family. What I am suggesting is that those tears will not compare to the tears of joy if somebody can truthfully say –

Your children are faithful.


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AUTHOR: Jim Faughn

Legacy Recipe: Mom’s Easy Strawberry Pie [Free Printable]

Yay! It’s strawberry picking time here in Kentucky. I love this time of year for lots of reasons, but one of my favorite reasons is because I love strawberries. While I’m not making pies these days because of a different eating plan, I still use this recipe for guests and have many fond memories of making and taking this pie to potlucks and other gatherings. I hope you enjoy it!

1 cup water

½ to ¾ cup sugar

2 and ½  Tbsp cornstarch

Pinch of salt

2 and ½ Tbsp strawberry gelatin (sugar free doesn’t work)

Drop of red food coloring (optional)

3 to 4 cups of washed strawberries (sliced if you prefer)

1 baked pie crust

Mix sugar, salt, and cornstarch.  Pour in the cup of water and mix thoroughly. Put in microwave and cook for 1 minute.  Stir.  Continue to cook at 30 second intervals until it is thickened.

Add strawberry gelatin and stir until dissolved.  Add coloring if you choose.

Let cool on the kitchen counter.  When cool, fold in your strawberries and pour into a 9-inch baked pie crust.

Chill until congealed and then serve with fresh whipped cream.

YUM!!! Hope you enjoy this easy strawberry pie!

To Download or Print a Free Copy of the Recipe, Click the Image Below