Being a good citizen is important and as Christians, it should come natural.  The same things that help to make someone a good Christian are some of the same things that help make a person a good citizen.  One of those things is respect...we should have a healthy respect for those in office, no matter what their party affiliation.  We should also respect our friends whether they are Democrat, Republican, Independent or whatever.  If you are of a different party affiliation than me just means that we disagree on what is important.  It doesn't make me love you any less and I would hope that would be the same for you.  We shouldn't want bad things for each other, but respect our differences.

One way that you can be sure that your voice is heard without any misunderstanding is to exercise your right to vote.  We are facing one of the most crucial times in our American History and your voice should be heard more than ever.  Vote for someone that matches your values and for the individual that you believe can preserve the America that our forefathers intended.  Vote for the person that you feel in your heart of hearts loves our country and wants our children and grandchildren to enjoy the same freedoms that we enjoy.

More than anything, our country was based on "One Nation Under God" and we should want our children to always have freedom of worship.  Please pray for our country and the election on November 6th.  As I write this, the people on the east coast have suffered the devastating effects of Hurricane Sandy.  I pray for them right now as they pick up the pieces of their lives.  God be with you.

We mentioned wisdom when covering the character of teach-ability, but there is so much more to know and "understand" about wisdom.  Having wisdom in most cases comes with age.  There are times when you hear the phrase, "he/she is wise beyond their years."   Even from that phrase, you can see that age is a factor.  So many times I have said that if I could go back now to my earlier years and know the things I know now, I would do things differently.  Why is that?  I have gained wisdom that only comes from having experienced many things...good and bad.

Not all of those experiences came while I was young, many of them were experienced after the age of 40.  Yes, that's right 40!  There was a period of time in my life when I allowed emotions to run a muck and dictate how I handled situations.  I was foolish and selfish with how I dealt with my emotions causing grief that would never have taken place if I had allowed the opposite of these "feelings" take over.  The opposite of being emotional, selfish and foolish is wisdom.  Wisdom is a treasure for all time and for every situation that you face. 

So how do we develop wisdom and get rid of those ugly "fruits" in our lives?  We replace them with the fruits of the Spirit and walk in them.  We are to be realistic, yet bold and daring, be shrewd and cautious with the realization that with God all things are possible.  ALL things not some things...ALL things are possible with God.  He can make the ugly pretty again...I know that in my own life.  He has taken those ugly selfish things and made them new again by giving me a fresh start in my walk with Him.  It is never too late to be wise in your relationships and your decisions.  Realize your wisdom comes from above and is pure and without hypocrisy.  Allow that wisdom to replace all the foolishness.  Develop that character of wisdom in your life so that you can make good solid decisions every single day of your life.  And remember...Wisdom is a treasure!

How is confidence developed in your life?  I've heard it said before that confidence breeds winning and winning breeds confidence.  But if that is true...which comes first?  Confidence or winning? 

I believe that confidence comes when you are willing to go through with something even if you could possibly be wrong.  Taking that fear element and putting it in it's proper place is the first step.

Most people don't develop the confidence they need to succeed because of being afraid of how others will react or fear of failing.  I'm sure you have heard the definition of "fear"... False Evidence Appearing Real.  You have been fooled into believing that if you step out and face your fear to accomplish your goal, you will fail.  Your mind runs wild and you begin to believe those nay-saying voices telling you, "you'll never amount to anything."

You have to turn off those voices by replacing them with scripture that speak strength and courage into your life.  When you replace the fear with strength and courage, you will have the confidence you need to face any situation that comes your way.  The entire book of Psalms 27 is excellent to keep marked in your Bible.  The first verse says...

"The Lord is my light and my salvation--
    whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life--
    of whom shall I be afraid?"

And my favorite scripture comes from Psalms 27:13-14...

"I remain confident of this:
    I will see the goodness of the Lord
    in the land of the living.
Wait for the Lord;
    be strong and take heart
    and wait for the Lord."

Being teachable...  Have you ever wondered how some people can ever learn anything?   I am almost positive that everyone reading this today have run across folks that think way too highly of themselves to the point that they "think" they're ALWAYS right.  What a tough person to not only be around, but also try to share anything contrary to their narrow minded views. 
When you think of the phrase "get wisdom", does it conjure up times when you were taught by someone that actually had wisdom?  It's beyond difficult to get wisdom from anyone other than a wise person.  The trouble with the world today is that there are far too many people who think they are wise...teaching people that believe pretty much anything they hear.  What a sad scenario.

Being teachable does not mean that you are gullible, it just means that you are wise enough to know who you should be learning from and who is just full of themselves.  Being teachable is being open to new ideas as long as they don't contradict God's ideas and precepts.  You will be sure that when false teachers appear, you recognize them and don't allow that type of deception in your life.  Being teachable also means that you are ready and willing to pass the wisdom that you have gained on to those that need it.

Having a humble spirit and being willing to admit your mistakes while making corrections is important in someone that is teachable.  You have to be willing to admit that you are wrong when you are and allow the fruits of the Spirit to be a part of your life.

Being teachable brings wisdom and wisdom needs to be shared with those who are teachable.  And so the circle of teachability goes on and on.

The subject of courage has been on my mind for a few days now and I just want to share an experience that a very courageous young lady went through recently.  She has been tossed into the arena of having to face fears that would cause most folks to shrink in terror and give up.  She is being brave and learning what John Wayne meant in his quote, "Courage is being scared to death, and saddling up anyways."  How many of us have been going about our daily routines and suddenly the situation changes in an instant?  You are shaken to your very core and placed in a life or death situation due to no fault of your own.  I would dare say most of us have never had to face this type of fear ever.  If you have, I would love to hear your story.

When I heard this young lady share her story, I was drawn to her and wanted to help in any way that I could because I too had someone try to steal my courage at one time.  Sometimes when we go through "scarey" times, we need to realize that there may come a time when someone else will face something and we can help them. 

She was at her job doing what she has been trained to do...help people.  She is alone taking payment for  rental storage units and moving trucks, when the unthinkable happens.  Out of her peripheral vision she notices that someone is coming around the building with a hoodie up and a bandana covering his face.  In that moment she knew this was not going to be good...she had no time to think before he was in her face and threatening her.  He pulled the phone cord out of the wall and tied her up while he ransacked the money drawer leaving her in a puddle of tears and fear.  Once he left, she was able to slowly take that first step of courage and go next door to call 911. 

Knowing that God is with you during every moment that you face, is amazing.  I know that when I faced my fear that night inside my apartment (caught someone trying to break in on me...looked them straight in the eye)...the first thing that I reached for in my mind was scripture (of course this was after I screamed at the top of my lungs for him to get out).  I called 911 and then had to little by little learn to turn it all over to God.  I was shaking with fear and immediately so angry at the intruder for putting me in this position. 

If you have never faced this kind of fear, it is hard for you to understand why I say "little by little".  We know our God is able, but we need to process what has happened and bring comfort and courage to our heart.  What is so wonderful, God understands...that is why He gives us so many promises in the Bible to help us with that.  What I went through late that night was awful, but when I think of the terror of being tied up and robbed...that had to be unbelievable. 

The young lady that faced that fear of being tied up and robbed at gunpoint, had to go back to that same place of employment with courage that could only come from God and the prayers of those that love her.  They have made some changes in some things that will make it a little safer for her...but basically she needs the courage that comes from knowing God is with her.  It will be a process and she needs your prayers that the terror that she still deals with on a daily basis will fade away and be replaced with courage and strength.

This picture was taken this weekend at a Labor Day Reunion Retreat at the Appalachian Christian Camp.  My husband, Bobby, was a part of the faculty there during youth camp for several years.  You are just seeing a portion of the beauty that was there this weekend.  I am not just referring to the beautiful creek behind us, I am referring to the beautiful people that we were privileged to fellowship with throughout the weekend. 

When Bobby first mentioned that this was something that he really wanted to be a part of, I was like, "sure let's do it!"  Then as the weekend neared, I became a little anxious about going to an unfamiliar place and being around unfamiliar people.  From the moment we walked into the roomful of former campers and faculty...I just knew this was going to be good.  They were watching old video footage of previous camps and laughing...just having a great time.  The lights were low when Bobby opened the back door and we walked in...everyone turned and hollered,  "Bobby Maupin!!!!!!!!"  They were all so excited to see him...I was excited for him.  I've heard so much about these folks over the years, I felt in some ways, I already knew them.  Bobby's friends that he has loved for so many years became my friends by the time the weekend came to a close.  There is not enough room in this post to share how warm and loving everyone was and how they reached out to the "new kid on campus."  This weekend gave me a glimpse into why their camps over the years were such a success...they are Good People.

When I think about the highlights of the weekend, one theme comes to mind throughout...appreciation!  The campers and those that had been responsible for them had a heart full of love and appreciation for each other.  One after another would stand and testify to how being a part of a loving group of campers had changed their lives and the lives of their children.  They shared their successes, their struggles and funny stories galore.  There was not a shortage of laughter, especially with Bob Robinson sharing his funny anecdotes and Tommy Oaks egging him on.  Tommy would say..."tell them this...", and Bob would stand and in only the way that Bob could...share the information (most in jest). 

I laughed and cried a lot this weekend...what a talent and blessing to be able to keep us both in tears and laughter.  There were a lot of "inside" jokes or humor that I knew because I was married to Bobby Maupin.  At one point, Bobby came running in the room with a woman's bathing suit on ready for a shaving cream fight taking everyone back to that time at camp when recreation involved mud, water balloons and shaving cream.

Tommy and his wife Pat (known to Bobby as Trixie), have been such an amazing influence on so many over the years.  The continuation of love was displayed as we worshiped together too.  When you add Bob and his wife Jackie to the mix, it is such a dynamic combination.  They have been blessed with a God given talent of relating to others through stories, humor and worship.

During our worship times this weekend, someone would share a verse in the Bible that meant something to them or share a story and it would remind Tommy of a song...he would look at his son, John Thomas at the keyboard and say a few of the words and John Thomas would begin to play and everyone would sing.  The open air chapel was the scene of dancing, singing, sharing and just loving on each other.  The night ended with fireworks and the movie, "The Scream of Fear"...an old black and white movie that I had never seen, but thoroughly enjoyed every "cheesy" moment.

The worship on Sunday ended with communion and a jazzy version of "This Little Light of Mine".  We said our goodbyes and again told each other how much we appreciated them.  Everyone that was at the meeting lived out this verse from Romans 12:10 "Be kindly affectionate one to another with brotherly love; in honor giving preference to one another" - appreciation at it's finest.

Below are some pictures that I took from the weekend.  Thanks for letting me share about my experience at the Appalachian Christian Camp Reunion.

Here are a couple of videos of Bobby acting the fool :-)
Some examples of story telling...
Generosity does not always appear in the form of money.  There are other ways to be generous...such as...with your time and with your talent.  Sometimes being generous could be really listening to someone when they are going through a rough spot in their life.  In my previous post I spoke about the character of responsibility, but one of the focal points that I wrote about was how a lady took the time out of her busy day to follow the leading of God in her life and spend some QUALITY listening time with me.  Her generosity was amazing and I will forever be changed because of her.  If she had not spent that time with me, I just don't know how much longer it would have taken me to "come around" and get better.  But she did, and I am! 

In thinking about what to write in today's post, I came across this picture about "real generosity" and believe it to be pretty profound.  Being willing to do something nice for someone anonymously should be a real joy for people.  So often so many want that "joy" for the moment and will take away their reward by being all blabby. (is that a word?)  Their being generous does not go unnoticed, because they make sure the right people know that "they" are the person that blessed "so n so".  How much sweeter the joy and reward when you see a need and fill it, no questions asked.  Totally out of the goodness and love in your heart you help...and only you and God know.  Pretty awesome, huh? 

The thing about it is....what you do for others, God will make sure it comes back to you.  God gives good gifts to those that love Him and seek Him.  Be generous and generosity will come back to you...it's just the way it is!  Try it!

Responsibility....Holding yourself accountable for your choices and your actions.  Being a grown up means that you have to learn how to be responsible for what happens in your life.  Being a parent means that you should want to teach this character to your children so that as they grow into adulthood, their life can be better.  It seems as though some parents are raising a bunch of kids that don't really understand what it means to take responsibility for things...big and little.  Kids are being rewarded with a trophy for just being participants in a sport, because they don't want anyone to feel left out.  What happened to the winners getting trophies and the other team feeling good about themselves because they played hard and tried their best. 

Then there are parents that have never learned what it means to take responsibility for their actions. 

I am gonna get gut honest with you here.  I raised my children to be good responsible kids, so that they would grow into the young adults that God wanted them to be.  Somewhere along the way...they got it and were doing good.  I, on the other hand took a step backwards and became irresponsible causing me to make some very stupid decisions.  The consequences of those decisions, follow me even to this day.  Being irresponsible hurt me and all those that loved me.  When I realized just how far these choices had taken me, I was a wreck and didn't know how to get back on track.  I know that sounds weird coming from someone that was a leader in the church, sang in a gospel trio and was very respected by her friends and family...but nonetheless true.  I knew God loved me, but I was so far away from His purpose in my life...I had trouble seeing the end because I was relying on my feelings instead of God's promises.

I take full responsibility for my actions during this dark time in my life and hope that by writing this it will help someone else know that nobody is immune to the attacks of the devil.  You have to understand that if you give him even a small opening, he will come in and kill and destroy your very life.  I believe with all my heart that there are times in everyone's life when there are crossroads in your life.   How you react can be a game changer.  I want more than anything for your game changer to be that you become fully committed to God.  When you allow the game changer to be you giving in to temptations contrary to what you know to be right...look out!  Your life is about to change...and you won't like what you see.

After 2 or 3 years of trying to figure it all out...I was approached by what I believe to be an "angel".  I was now remarried, but just couldn't shake the guilt and regret that was keeping me awake nights.  Bobby, my husband, and I had been invited to a picnic with a church group and decided we should go.  The game they played was a penny game where you looked at the date on the coin and share what you were doing during this particular year.  As we went around and everyone shared, I was dreading my turn because I just knew I'd break out in tears.  Almost every single person had something to share about their family and I knew my family was a mess.  My turn came and I was able to get through it because my coin date was 2001, so tears were appropriate because I shared about the shock of 9-11.

Toward the end of the picnic time, an older lady came driving up in her red pick up truck.  Right away she came up to me and looked me in the eyes and said..."Are you alright?"  My eyes filled with tears, someone really cared enough to ask me...she told me she felt that God had told her to come to this picnic because someone needed help, and she said I know that person is you.  I shared my story with her...the good, the bad and the ugly.  She told me that I needed to quit worrying about the things and people that I could not change...to allow God to do that.  She told me when I go to bed in the evening to just start praising God for all the blessings I had and let God do His perfect work in everything else.  I know this is not something new, but this came from God directly to me...so I took notice. 

Things didn't change overnight, but with each night sleep came easier and rest became sweeter.  I was not alone, God still loved me enough to care about what happens to me.  My life changed that day at a picnic in a park in Cape Girardeau, MO.  I made a commitment to be responsible for my failures, but accept God's forgiveness for these failures and learn how to live in the life that is the here and now.  I asked those that I hurt to forgive me and forgave everyone that I could think of....did I still have moments when I let my hurt rule?  I regret to say yes I did...but as I learned more about what God expected of me...I realized that He had forgiven me of much, so I should forgive others in like manner. 

I am not perfect, therefore I make mistakes every single day of my life.  I sometimes let my mouth say way more than I should ever say and regret it as soon as I step back from the situation.  I am definitely a work in progress, learning to submit my will, mind and emotions to Him on a daily basis.  I ask forgiveness when I fail and learn from my mistakes.  I learn everyday and agree with God everyday that I will see His goodness in my life.  I will see relationships restored and lives changed for the better

I am so thankful for my family and friends that love me even in my weakness and lift me up in prayer because they care.  If you are one of those people that have prayed for me and continue to pray for me, I can't tell you how important those prayers are.  In my heart of hearts, I want to love others the way God loves them and forgive as I have been forgiven.

This is such an important character to have in your daily life!  It is how people see you in a given situation...whether they know they can "depend" on you or whether they are just not sure what you will do.  Wow!  Think about that for a minute. 

In this picture you are seeing the importance of having a goalie you can depend on to try his very best to block every shot that comes his way.  First off, that is why he is in that position...he can be depended on...he is not lackadaisical in his defense of the goal. Why would you ever put someone in that important position that can't be depended upon every single time to defend against the onslaught of pucks?  You wouldn't...that's my point.  In your daily life you should be that type of person...a dependable protector and team player with those your work with, live with and do life with.

Now in other sports news...do you remember this scene where Lucy is put in the position of holding the football for Charlie Brown to kick?  I kind of think that by now Charlie Brown had to know that he could not "depend" on Lucy to do the "right" thing and actually keep the football in place until he could have a go of it.  Instead, filled with gullibility, Charlie Brown would look at Lucy and think to himself..."she will surely hold this football in place for me this time."  And lo and behold right when he makes his move...she again jerks that football away and he falls flat on his back with an "AAUGH!" 

Hopefully you are known as the type of person that is trustworthy by protecting and defending as your mode of dependability instead of someone who promises and assures but disappoints by not following through.

One of the most dependable characters in the Old Testament was Noah.  Imagine being thought of as so dependable that God would pick you to both build an ark for your family and animal survival, but also completely trust you to do it right.  Genesis 7:1-5  "The Lord then said to Noah, “Go into the ark, you and your whole family, because I have found you righteous in this generation. 2 Take with you seven pairs of every kind of clean animal, a male and its mate, and one pair of every kind of unclean animal, a male and its mate, 3 and also seven pairs of every kind of bird, male and female, to keep their various kinds alive throughout the earth. 4 Seven days from now I will send rain on the earth for forty days and forty nights, and I will wipe from the face of the earth every living creature I have made. ” 5 And Noah did all that the Lord commanded him."

Verse 5 says it all, and gives you a little insight as to why Noah was the man for the job.  "Noah did all that the Lord commanded him."  He had a history of being dependable and God KNEW he could count on him to be and do the right thing.  I encourage you AND myself to be the kind of person Noah was...dependable both in the eyes of God and those that need us every day.

A lady friend, that I used to work with, just put this as her status on Facebook,  "Ugh why am I amazed that friends are not really friends! Family talks worse about you than a stranger and the person who says they "love" you is a liar! SMH thank goodness for my boys and strangers! OH and my DOG :) I ❤ them!!" 

When I read this status, it made me sad that she was feeling this way.  Since we no longer work together, I never see her anymore, but try to keep up with her via the social media.  We were never "close" friends, but nonetheless, friends in the sense that I care about what happens to her.  I posted some encouraging words to her that I hope helped.

Isn't it amazing that the ones we care the most about, are the ones that tend to hurt us the most?  I think that is what she was trying to say and the fact that it made her feel used and alone.  Speaking of being used...look at the comic below.
This picture depicts a dog "man's best friend" as a little put out with his owner for wanting him to fetch his stinky ole slippers.  Let's think about how this would play out in how you treat your friends (other than your dog).  Are you the kind of friend that is there for your "besty" when they need you?  Or are you a "fair weather" friend that only wants to share in the good times?  Worst yet, are you the type of friend that is demanding on your friends and feels "above" them?  Maybe you don't even realize that you are treating them with disrespect, but you are when you don't really put yourself into the giving side of the relationship...you only take!  What exactly is true friendship?

Friendship is the companionship and closeness we are to have with one another. It is the commitment to build relationships by getting to know others and help them form good character, and in turn help you. Relationships are essential to life...we need others and they need us. 

"One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother." Proverbs 18:24

"As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another." Proverbs 27:17