Tom and Laura Clifton, serving as missionaries with FamilyLife, a ministry of Cru.

On our blog you can read the latest conference quotes, find out about new things happening within FamilyLife, keep updated with our family, find links to helpful sites, and also find out how to join our support team.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Light of the World

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
He was with God in the beginning.
Through him all things were made that were made;
without him nothing was made that has been made.
In him was the life and that life was the light of men.
The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it."
"This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light;
in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness we lie and do not live by the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.
If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness."
1 John 1:5-9
"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?"
Psalm 27:1
"Your word is a lamp to my feet
and a light for my path."
Psalm 119:105
"You are the light of the world.
A city on a hill cannot be hidden.
Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl.
Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.
In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven."
Matthew 5:14-16

Celebrating Jesus today...the Light of the World
Merry Christmas...now let your light shine to bring Him glory

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Living Nativity & The Christmas Story

Merry Christmas...enjoy these passages of Scripture that tell of the story of the birth of our Savior.

"In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (this was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to his own town to register.

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, 'Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.'

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

'Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.'

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, 'Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.'

So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told." Luke 2:1-20

"After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, 'Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.'
When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. When he had called together all the people's chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Christ was to be born. 'In Bethlehem in Judea,' they replied, 'for this is what the prophet has written:

'But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, and are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;for out of you will come a ruler who will be the shepherd to my people Israel.'

Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, 'God and make a careful search for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.

After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh. An having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route." Matthew 2:1-12
Merry Christmas from our family to you~

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The First Gift Under Our Tree

What can we give to Jesus?

A few years ago we began a new Christmas tradition. Before anything else went under our tree, the first gift that was placed there was for Jesus.

We talk as a family about God's greatest gift for us...His Son Jesus. God gave us Jesus and that is why we celebrate Christmas. He is God's gift to us...but what can we give Him in return?

Each year every person gets a piece of paper to record what they would like to give to Jesus for Christmas. Looking back over the slips of paper it is fun to see the responses of our children and how their ideas of what to give Jesus have changed over the years.

When they were really little they would say things like:

  • candy

  • I will give Jesus a boat, and an airplane and candy.

As they have gotten older their responses have grown with them:

  • my heart

  • love

  • worship

  • thankfulness

Perhaps out of all these ideas, the greatest thing we can do in response to God's greatest gift is to receive it ourselves. God gave us the gift of Jesus, to save us from our sins so we could live forever with Him. It isn't enough that He gave the gift...we have to receive it, to take it, open it, and claim it for ourselves. If it stays unopened under the tree, our destiny will not be with the One who created us and loves us.

In John 3:16 it says, "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."

This Christmas it is our prayer for you that you will open the gift of Jesus and receive the gift of eternal life that God has for you!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

A Peaceful Christmas

There is something different about Christmas this year...

There is a peace and a rest from the normal hustle and bustle of the normal Christmas season. I think some of it may be attributed to our recent move. Some of the activities I enjoy (and miss this year too) have left my calendar open. The cookie exchanges, Christmas parties, caroling events...the things that have been part of my Christmas in the past, are not a part of my Christmas this year. The white space on my calendar has been refreshing.

It has allowed time to have Advent Christmas readings as a family. It has allowed time to spend in Bible study and reflecting of Who God is and what He has done. It has allowed time to focus on relationships rather than the "Christmas routine".

I'm sure it has helped that I purposed to finish Christmas shopping around Thanksgiving time, that three little "Christmas elves" decided to decorate the house for me while I slept the night after Thanksgiving, and that my heart has been tuned more this year to what is important, rather than what is urgent.
Maybe some of it has been seeing my 20 month old carrying around baby Jesus from our nativity set daily. It has been a great reminder that throughout this season, the most important thing is to carry Jesus with me and to share His light with the world.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Seeking Jesus...By Mistake

I sent this letter out last Christmas and got such an encouraging response I decided to post it on my blog...

Several years ago, when Courtney and Isaiah were both under five years old, our church hosted a Christmas craft night. One craft our family made together was a wooden nativity set. The pieces were made out of blocks of wood, painted, and then covered with fabric to represent Mary & Joseph, the Shepherd, the Wise men, and Baby Jesus. The set was perfect for little hands to recreate the Christmas blessing. The only problem...the pieces kept getting misplaced.

"WHOEVER FINDS BABY JESUS GETS A PIECE OF CANDY!" I said in exasperation. Once again, the nativity set was incomplete and all of my searching was in vain. Candy was a great incentive to the children. They ran all over the house and searched with all their might. In a few short moments Courtney's delighted squeals could be heard, "I found baby Jesus!"

The next morning a very interesting thing occurred. Courtney asked, "Mom, could you hide Jesus again so we can search for Him?" I knew my sugar-loving children were in it for the reward but I began to see how right they were with wanting to search for Jesus.

Christmas is ALL about Jesus. It is the celebration of His birth on the earth. He is God's gift to us...the way the truth and the life...the only way to God.

That Christmas my children taught me a lesson. They taught me that I need to daily seek Jesus with all my heart. They also showed me the JOY that comes in finding God's precious gift. The frustration of lost nativity pieces soon became an incredible blessing for our family as our children searched for Jesus each and every day!

This Christmas it is our prayer for you to find the Joy that comes from knowing Jesus and seeking Him with all your heart!

"Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews?

We saw his star in the east and have come

to worship him."

Matthew 2:2

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Portland Weekend to Remember

Portland 2 Nov 20-22, 2009

Attendance 471

Commitments to Christ 4

Asked to be filled with the Holy Spirit 79

Recommitted family to Christ 69


I came by myself for the first two days. My husband had left home earlier in the week. Because of what I learned the first two days, when my husband showed up at home Sat night, I was able to just love him through my hurt and he joined me for the Sunday sessions.

Student, married 2 years

We really considered divorce before this conference. Now my husband found God and we’re re-kindling our relationship.

Teacher, married 11 years.

It is always great to spend quality time together. We have a healthy, loving and vibrant marriage—it is exciting this is even more loving and holy afterwards!

Wife, married 6 years

I got way more out of this conference than I thought, learning to work with—not against my husband. After 33 years my parents separated and I hadn’t realized how much their fighting and bitterness affected my marriage. My husband is not my enemy, he is my best friend and a gift from God. Amen!

Office manager, married 5 years

Knowing God’s design and purpose for the gift of marriage before saying, “I do” gives so much peace and confidence to the adventure.

Office Manager, Engaged

My husband’s letter to me and opening lines of communications [was the highlight]. Also, Brian’s prayer with us after my husband shared about us putting our 13-year separation to an end. A truly spiritual event and an answer to many prayers. We could not afford to attend, but won free tickets from KPDQ. What a blessing this has been. We’re looking forward to being a testimony to our children, grandchildren, and many others as to God’s faithfulness.

Wife, married 45 years

I thought being a Christ-centered couple that we had it all and our marriage is doing really perfectly…but I learned more about being a better wife and gift to my husband and treat him otherwise.

Wife, married 5 years

The speakers were funny and shared touching stories from personal experience. We went to a marriage conference with another organization last year and this was 100% better because of the speaker’s delivery, content and transparency. I really enjoyed [the separate men’s and women’s session]. I appreciated the great selection of quality books. I like how every session started and ended on time! [The effect the conference was that] it reminded us to continually reconnect with the Holy Spirit’s power to help us to have a Godly marriage and to become Godly parents when we have twins later this year J.

Teacher, married 5 years

[The highlight of the conference was] a talk between my husband and I at the break—where after 26 years of marriage—he finally put me first place in his life and closed the door to all “the others” and “things” that have held his heart. This is an absolute miracle! An answer to the years of my desperate cries to our Father God!

Wife, married 26 years

.The engaged talk with Dave and Peggy [was the highlight] when we separated into boys and girls groups. The sexual intimacy talk was significant. Our relationship has deepened even more and we have prepared ourselves even more for our future marriage and how we should treat each other. Through the conference my fiancee and I redefined our purity.

Student, engaged

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Bellingham WTR Comments

Bellingham 1
November 13-15, 2009
Attendance: 437
Commitments to Christ: 5
Asked to be filled with the Holy Spirit: 60
Recommitted family to Christ 84

Husband/wife commentHim: I feel this has brought me closer to Christ and brought our marriage back from the brink of divorce. Her: I had thrown in the towel on my marriage. I now see my husband as a gift for me to fully receive.

Showed us we were going in the same direction—just separately. Got us back on the road together. (wife, married 16 years)

Date night…. Wahoo! Bow Chika Wow Wow…

It has given us a smack upside the head. Things we knew we were failing at but too stubborn to join together…my hope is that this is a start to a loving and joining future. (husband in sales, married 9 years)

My husband’s admission that he was glad that I was tenacious in going to the conference. He was not looking forward to it. He was pleasantly surprised. (wife, homemaker, married 13 years)

We have learned more about communication, how to love each other, respect, and how to be [passionate] with each other. (wife, receptionist, married 1 year)

We’ve recommitted our relationship to each other and to our Father/Jesus as its center. (husband, physical therapist, married 13 years)

I know that more than remembering why we love each other, we learned how to do it for the long run. (husband, musician, married 9 years)

I have received some really great tools to help me to be a better man and husband. I have already noticed that my wife appreciates me more. (husband, supervisor, married 6 years)

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Coeur d'Alene Weekend to Remember

Top 10 Conference Quotes
Coeur d'Alene WTR
November 6-8, 2009
Attendance: 715
Decisions for Christ: 16

(husband/wife couple)
Husband (physician)—This is the first anniversary of me giving my life to Christ at last year’s WTR. This has been an amazing experience to look back and see how God has changed me and my relationship with my wife. Our marriage was about to fall apart last year but now it’s thriving.
Wife (psychologist)—This was our 3rd conference. It is because of this conference that our marriage did not end last year. God is the center of our marriage and personal lives. For the first time, our marriage is the strongest it has ever been.
Married 5 years

It has changed our lives. Every word was “right on” and helpful.
Husband, married 10 years

I have some hope again. I was planning to move out on Dec 1st.
Wife, married 2 years

Unequal to anything else. A “new” beginning. The divorce papers were filed, possessions split, house on the market. Going home today we go “together” Renewed.

Wife, married 8 years

We have only been married 1 ½ months and this weekend helped us both see how beautiful our marriage can be for our lifetime!

Re-emphasized the importance of each other.
Military husband, married one year

It saved our marriage! We were both in two separate “marriage counselors” and checked out. This really works!
Wife, married 2 years

Our communication has improved immensely. We are finally tackling the issues that have plagued us for years.
Husband, student, married 8 years

It broke down the walls we have build over 17 years together. We have been Christians for 5 years and for the first time we are on the same page!
Wife, married 2 years

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Boys and Soap

Alright, I must confess that with our move there is one bathroom in our house that has been neglected...the boy's bathroom. It is downstairs near their room and over the past month I have overlooked it, not intentionally, but life is busy with seven children and many boxes to unpack.

A few days ago I decided to conquer the bathroom. I donned latex gloves and gathered my cleaning supplies. I tackled the sink first and then went on to clean the shower. To my surprise there was no soap. It wasn't that the soap had been all used up...there was no evidence that soap had ever been in the shower!

I called two of my preteen boys to the bathroom. "Where is the soap you have been using during the past month?" Their response was simply, "There wasn't any in there so we didn't use any." My mouth dropped open as I said, "You haven't used any soap in a month!?" They just shrugged their shoulders and smiled. I quickly opened the bathroom closet door and showed them the two neatly boxed bars of soap just waiting to be used.

"When you take a shower use soap...every time. If it is gone ask me and I will get you some more." They nodded, smiled and left the bathroom. I thought, "Surely my teenage son has his own soap that he has stashed away after each shower." After the same line of questioning I discovered the results were the same...no soap!

Isn't is interesting? For a whole month they have simply rinsed off and thought it was good enough. They knew about the soap because they are the ones that actually put it in the closet after I bought it. They have been taught how to take a shower but they didn't take the time to go to the closet, open the door, take out the box of soap, put it in the shower and use it.

Hmmm...I wonder how much of my life has been similar this past month regarding my time with the Lord. I know I need time with God, I know where my Bible is, I know what I need to do in order to have a "quiet" time in my home but somehow the distractions of life have crept into my life. Okay, I haven't gone a whole month without a quiet time, but I also haven't spent the time bathing in the Word of God and letting His Spirit cleanse me from the inside out. More often than not I've had a "rinsing" rather than a "cleansing". So often I've gone through the motions to check it off my list, rather than going with a heart ready to hear from the Lord.

I'm not thankful that my boys have gone so long without a proper scrubbing, but I am thankful for the ways that God uses the ordinary things of this life to teach me more about Himself. We all learned a lesson from this one!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Teenagers and Toddlers

A few weeks ago God spoke to me through my baby crying...

I was praying for wisdom with what to do with one of my teenagers. Our cross country move had been God's plan but one of our children was having a very difficult time and I knew that keeping God's word fresh in her life would be best. A friend had told me about the evening Bible Study Fellowship class in town and that there was also a student study. I decided to join and to bring my school aged kids so they could be in the word, and hopefully make some new friends as well.

When I told my daughter about it she wasn't excited. In fact, she said, "I don't want to go!" I told her to pray about it and listen for God to speak to her. (Inwardly I thought I would be off the hook because of course God would want her to go.)

In the morning I asked her what God had said about the study. Her reply was neutral. "He didn't say yes or no." Now I was in a dilemma. I wanted her to go but I didn't want to force it. I began to pray and after lunchtime I put my 18-month old down for a nap and thought I'd get in some quality alone time with God to sit and pray.

And then the crying began...

Actually, it was more of an all out fit. The storm in that little bedroom could be heard throughout the entire house. My little one had decided that she was not happy about a nap and there was no way she was going to take one. I tried all my parenting ideas but nothing worked. The crying intensified and my frustration grew.

I went in to her room and calmly said, "I am the Mom and I know what is best for you. You might not want to take a nap but you need one. You need to stay in here and be quiet."

As I walked out of the room and shut the door it was as if God spoke directly to my heart about what to do with my teenager. "You are the Mom and you know what is best for her right now. She is fighting with what is best for her right now just like the baby. Stay strong and do what is right."

I was so thankful for my baby crying and for God using an ordinary day to teach me that I could hear His voice in the midst of chaos!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

A Poem by Courtney

This poem was written by my 16 year old daughter. I know that someday she will meet her dreams and be an author. This poem made me cry...


How can you box away ten years in two days?
The task seemed impossible.
But nevertheless, the geometric sea of cardboard relics is everywhere, piled on the off-white floor.
A crew of movers will pack the rest of them after their lunch break.
The carpet is smudged slightly with their five sets of grease-blackened boots, but we have a cleaner to take care of that, too.
This shouldn’t bother me. Everything is coming with.
I ascend the wooden staircase, trying not to notice the little white clay marks where nails used to be.
Yep. That’s about where the picture of Jonathan and me was.
Of course, in a matter of days, those holes will be blended into the cappuccino-colored paint.
My room is even emptier than the ground floor. There are dents in the carpet where my bed, cabinet, and other furniture items stood.
I rub the toe of my shoe across one. It’s already begun to fade.
The large, curtainless window tells all.
I feel sort of naked, standing exposed for all my ex-neighbors to see.
I bend down and my knees press into the unforgiving carpet. My knees will probably get dents from the carpet as the carpet was dented by the bed. None of the dents will survive, though.
I grope around in my pocket until I find it.
The charcoal pencil.
With a quick glance around the room, I push back the carpet and write it close to the floor.
Only if you were searching would you find it.
Every letter is etched with care.
A quiet hope swells in my soul. No matter where I go, I will never be

Monday, August 24, 2009

Top Ten Things I Won't Miss When We Move

And now, on a lighter note...Here are the things I won't miss when we move.

10. Long distance travel

9. Hornets the size of birds

8. Humidity

7. Snakes

6. Chiggers (I will able to walk barefoot in the grass!)

5. Bugs in all shapes and sizes

4. Slow lines in the store

3. Tornadoes

2. Fire ants

1. Hmmm....I'm sure there must be one more?

Top Ten Things I'll Miss When We Move

1o. Fireflies

9. "Y'all"

8. Our Neighborhood

7. Being minutes away from FamilyLife

6. Support and encouragement

5. Family Camp

4. My friends

3. Kids' friends

2. Church

1. All the wonderful relationships that have been developed during the past 10 years!

Sunday, August 23, 2009


As a mom I have often prayed that if my children were doing something they shouldn't be doing that they would be caught in the act. Many times God has answered these prayers. Although it has been awhile since I have voiced that prayer, it is a prayer that God still answers...

Just last week while I was preparing for a friend to arrive I walked to the closet to put some things away. I noticed a folded piece of paper lying on the floor inside the closet. "It looks like someone just tossed this in here." I thought to myself. I unfolded the piece of computer paper and was immediately saddened. It had a picture that had obviously been downloaded and printed from the internet. One of my sons had gone to a place he shouldn't have been on the computer and printed off an image that was inappropriate.

"Give me wisdom, Oh Lord, as I confront my son" I whispered as I went looking for him. During those moments as I waited for him to arrive God gave me an incredible peace. Yes, I was heartbroken for him and his sin, but I was also thankful that God had opened the door for him to be caught so this sin could be dealt with now, rather than be allowed to grow in secret and silence.

"John*, I am going to ask you something, " I said as I spoke to him, "And I want your word that you will be completely honest with me." He agreed and I went on. "Have you been anywhere on the computer where you shouldn't have been?" His gaze went from my face to the floor and then he noticed that I had a folded piece of paper under my arm. "I guess you already know that I have since you have that paper. I was going to throw it away and talk to Joe* about it." (Joe is an older young man that my son had been on a youth retreat with several months earlier. Joe is a godly young man. During the retreat he had been very open about the struggles to remain pure in this generation with pornography so easy to access through the internet.)

I was thankful that John was not defensive, that he felt bad about what he had done, and that he had a plan to confess his sin to another person. As we spoke further I asked how he came upon this picture. He had not gone looking for it. He was searching for answers to his school assignment for a particular country. When he clicked on the link for the country there were models along the side. So, right there he had a choice to click on the model or to look away.

As a mom it saddens my heart to know that even though we have put safeguards in place, temptations will seek out my sons. The devil does "prowl around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour." Pornography is a sin that can destroy the hearts and lives of men. As parents we not only need to put safeguards in place, but we need to train them what to do when the temptation comes looking for them.

In this day of easy internet access (even through cell phones) we need to train our children how to handle the temptation. They need to know how to flee from it and how to confess it to another person if they stumble. We also need to continue to press into their lives and ask them tough questions and check up on things like the internet history on our computer to see what sites have been visited. "Trust but verify" is a favorite slogan of my husband. To think, "My son (or daughter) would never do such a thing" is to set your child up for failure. Teach them righteousness, but train them for the battle so they can stand firm in this day of temptation.

*names changed

Thursday, August 20, 2009

We are Moving

For 16 months our house has been up for sale. Over 100 different families have been in and out of our house during that time wondering if our house was right for them. We had planned to take the house off the market at the end of August to get a break from all the showings, but God had a different plan.

On Saturday afternoon we had a showing. I took Courtney school shopping because I had decided that with only 2 weeks left until our house went off the market we weren't going to move. In fact, my heart was no longer in to getting the house ready for a showing. I didn't do all the last minute "touches" to make our house appealing to others. I really didn't care. I was ready to settle in for a year (or two) and make the most of it. I had my plans and I thought I knew what was best for us and I was striving toward it.

When I got home from shopping Tom told me that he met the family that had looked at our house. They were a homeschool family. My inital thought was, "Oh no. I bet they can see themselves living in this house!" Sure enough, before dinner time we had an offer and our lives began to change.

Now I feel like life is moving much too quickly. Tom and I fly out next week to look for houses, and details are floating through my mind constantly about what needs to be done before our house closes on September 21st.

I am thankful for:

  • Ten great years in Little Rock and all the friends we have made here in Arkansas
  • A wonderful church that has encouraged us (and our children) in our walk with God
  • A faithful God who always has our best in mind (and a plan we can trust)
  • Children that don't understand why we need to move but that trust us as parents
  • God's hand in all of this and a teenager that is excited about this opportunity
  • A chance to serve God as a couple (and family) in Washington with FamilyLife

You can pray for:

  • God's peace as we make this transition
  • A home for us in Washington
  • Sleep---with all the details floating around in my head sleep is extremely difficult
  • Safety and protection for us and our children as we travel
  • That our relationship as a family will be stronger during this time and that our hearts will grow closer to God
  • My health--with all sudden stress the Crohn's disease that has attacked my body for the past 4 years is really flaring up and there are no meds that my body will tolerate to help with the symptoms (You could pray for healing too!)
  • Wisdom as we decide what to do for school for Courtney during this transition time

Thank you!!!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Redmond Weekend to Remember Quotes

Top 10 Conference Quotes
May 1-3, 2009
Attendance 375
Accepted Christ 22
These are the top ten quotes from the third Seattle area Weekend to Remember:

We’ve discovered what happened seven years ago that caused us to go into isolation. We moved into separate corners both trying to exist, yet knowing we weren’t communicating. This wasn’t right before our Lord and we separately tried to figure out how to “fix” our marriage. Well, we are leaving this conference encouraged and excited to see how God is going to work in us and through us. We thank God and you all for this time.

For every mile of road there are two miles of ditches; this is a wonderful manuscript of how to “keep it in the middle.”

Opened wounds. Many tears. We pressed through temptation to pull apart—my husband pursued me on…a gut-wrenching evening [date night]. I thanked him. That was hopeful. I was loved.

It began a healing that I have been praying for 3 years ago. Thank you for your time and commitment—God is using each one of you! Thank you!

The woman to woman and men to men session was the straw that broke the camel’s back. We had a very strong argument the night before. These sessions brought us both to a point of really working with God to save our marriage.

[My husband] and I are attending this months after a huge trauma in our relationship. 2 weeks ago we were heading for divorce. This was the beginning of a new start for us, and it was a great kick start. Our journey will be long and hard—but thanks for helping us get started!

He allowed us an[d] encouraged us to address issues that were uncomfortable and unpleasant to talk about. It gave us tools to approach those topics for the best possible result. It helped me realize that to have a successful marriage, I need to first have a meaningful relationship with Jesus Christ my Savior.

It’s like a breath of fresh air. We were able to take all the balled up pieces of paper from our marriage and recycle them into a readable novel.

We spent Saturday night and Sunday morning…discussed frankly about our past experience in viewing pornography and not being mentally sexually pure. It was the first such frank moment in our 4 years of marriage. I had written a prayer request Saturday morning and I thank God for those who prayed for us. (wife’s comments)

He’s been tearing up half the time and received this so totally. We’ve been to 5 or so different marriage weekends but I think he’s enjoyed this one the most and received the teachings the most. I did too, really.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Seattle Weekend to Remember

Top 10 Conference Quotes

April 24-26, 2009
Attendance 325
Accepted Christ 11

Here are the Top Ten Comments from the second Seattle Weekend to Remember Conference:

Before this conference my wife and I were on the outs. We had the divorce papers ready and were just waiting to be signed. This conference has renewed love, admiration and spirituality in our relationship. We have re-committed our lives to God and to each other. Thank you for saving another marriage and bringing another couple closer than they ever were before!

FamilyLife is the most effective tool I have seen to minister to those that are most difficult to reach, the affluent and middle class American! As a pastor this conference and ministry has changed my life and marriage

I want to start re-prioritizing my life right now! This has made me feel like I re-met my husband, we are at honeymoon stage, but even better w/our foundation of experience and God!

I liked how the conference is designed so we could get lost together in the big group & really focus on each other & our marriage.

Better understanding of our differences and how to meet each other needs. I know how important it is to be positive and patient instead of selfish. I look forward to falling in love with my wife over and over again the rest of our lives.

[The highlight of the conference was] all of it. We were days away from separating. You gave us hope.

We left feeling new hopes of being able to restore a marriage filled with bitterness and resentment. Our better understanding of roles and the priorities of putting God 1st spouse 2nd, and kids 3rd will help us decrease stress and find a peace in our marriage.

Life change and encouragement!

I have been shown that no matter what I go through, and where I go through it, I will always have my wife. If I treat her badly, God sees and my relationship with him will reflect accordingly.

I appreciate that Biblical matters weren’t touched on until day two. Had we started the weekend discussing God, my husband would have closed down. As it was I think he was receptive J

[The highlight of the conference was] the love letter from my wife. It built me up and showed me the kind of man I always knew I was, but just can’t see sometimes.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Holding On Instead of Letting Go

First Birthday Celebration

In April we celebrated MaryElise's first birthday. It was a fun celebration of her life. One thing we had for her to wear was a little princess birthday hat. The hat was fuzzy along the bottom and fit on like a hairband. When I put it on her in the high chair she didn't seem to mind. Later in the day however, whenever it was put on her head she cried. In fact, she even started crying when she saw the hat.

As evening approached we had cake and presents. Sometime during the opening of presents I wondered what MaryElise would do if we handed her the birthday hat. So, one of her brothers picked up the hat and I handed it to her. She took it in her hand and looked at me with tears in her eyes as if to say, "What are you doing to me?" She cried, but continued to hold on to the hat. All she had to do was let go and move away from the hat but she didn't let go. She held on tight and cried even harder. Finally I took the hat away and comforted my baby.

I learned a lesson that day about my own life. How much am I like MaryElise? There are things in my own life that I continue to hold on to that I really need to let go of...hurt feelings that cause bitterness to grow, unkind words that need to be stopped before they leave my lips, temptations that I need to flee from rather than embracing. It is so easy to hold onto things that hurt us and others rather than letting go and walking away. God gives us the ability by His Spirit to flee from temptation, to forgive when we have been hurt, and to speak words of kindness and truth.

I am so thankful for my precious daughter and the way God continues to use her life to teach me more about myself and about Him too!

Friday, April 24, 2009

April Fools Day

A Mixed-Up Breakfast

On April Fool's Day I had a surprise for breakfast...
The kids came to the table and found their orange juice in their cereal bowls and their cereal in their cups. Whitney and Caleb loved the idea. Benjamin, however, resisted the change.
All I was wanting to do was to have some fun and to make a memory. For my child who doesn't like surprises, this was too much! He poured his cereal onto his napkin (the milk hadn't been poured yet) and tried to pour his orange juice into his cup. In his attempt to keep things as they should be he missed out on the fun of the moment.
I wondered how much I do this with God. He throws curveballs into my plans and rather than swing at a different pitch I stand there refusing to swing until I get the pitch I am looking for.
In Jeremiah 29:11 it says, "'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'" Perhaps if I started off each day giving my plans to God and allowing Him to be the one to lead (instead of me) I could learn to enjoy the surprises in each day too!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Top Ten Comments

Seattle 1, April 17-19, 2009

Here are the top ten comments chosen from the first Seattle Weekend to Remember Conference. Out of 354 people in attendance, 46 prayed to receive Christ! To God be the glory!

1st two quotes from a husband/wife couple…
Him: “Opened my eyes. Showed me that I need to change my life and the way I think about things.”
Her: “We were over. We had destroyed each other beyond repair we thought. Through some friends here we are and we are committed to have a great marriage and family.”

“Huge swings in emotion. Could feel the spiritual struggle. We packed our bags twice to leave. But we committed to stay and we grew closer. Many tears and yet we communicated and grew. Thank you for setting us on our way. We want to come back and feel our marriage is great.” Wife

That God is in control of my husband (not me ;) ) and me. I need to remember that and let Him do his work/plan.

We learned how to talk to each other with so much more respect for each other! We rearely spoke to each other w/depth and understanding, until this weekend.

We both realized what we are missing and what we need. This was an excellent step in our marriage. Thank you.

A loving gentle reminder to live out a great marriage not just a good one.

We are blessed to have been a part of this conference. We are separated right now and have been on the verge of divorce for the past year. We feel a sense of hope and renewed strength.

We now have practical tools to success and grow in our marriage instead of just living together.

Refreshing. We have attended many marriage events over the 28 year period of our married life. This one was way up top of the list. We realized just how in love we are. Thank you.

Thursday, April 2, 2009


Are You Ready?

Are you ready to be able to share your faith? Robert Lewis, along with FamilyLife, has created LifeReady and the first resource available is Explore. Explore teaches you how to share your faith one on one in a way that is non-threatening and powerful. We had the opportunity to be a part of the audience when this was being taped and we'd love for you to check out this incredible resource. LifeReady

Friday, March 27, 2009

Waiting on God

Lessons from my Children

Sometimes I am surprised by the way God uses my children to teach me lessons about Himself.

I must confess that sometimes I get frustrated at my children's response to "wait just a minute" or if I tell them "no". In their impatience or disappointment they show a lack of trust in me as their mom. Don't they know that I love them and I want what is best for them? Sometimes my "no" might be because I have a surprise waiting for them right around the corner or my "no" might be because I know what is best for them. To give in to their demands would mean the best would be spoiled (and they might be too!)

But how often have I treated God the same way? When my prayers go unanswered or God says, "No" to my request, I question if He really knows what is best. Instead of looking at His character I look at my circumstances to determine my joy and contentment. What a mistake!

As we have waited for our house to sell we have been disappointed by 3 low offers. We have also lost the perfect house we made a contingent offer on in Washington. It has been easy to doubt, to question, and to second guess decisions we have made.

During this period of waiting God has been working. He has not been surprised by the low offers we have received. He has not been surprised that the house we wanted got another offer. He has not been surprised that we are still in Arkansas. He has a purpose and a plan in every part of our waiting.

We have seen God's provision in allowing Courtney to finish her sophomore year here in Arkansas. We have been thankful for more time with friends here in this state. God has taught me more about His character and His faithfulness. God has given me time to allow my trust and faith in Him to grow rather than to rely on my circumstances.

I looked up wait in the Merriam -Webster dictionary and here are some of the definitions:

  • to stay in a place of expectation of
  • to look forward to expectantly
  • to be ready and available

That gives me a better idea of what it means to wait upon the Lord...rather than thinking of being deprived it gives a picture of eager expectation.

"Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord." Psalm 27:14

"Blessed is the one who listens to me, watching daily at my gates, waiting beside my doors." Proverbs 8:34

"The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him." Lamentations 3:25

"I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope. My soul waits for the Lord
more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning." Psalm 130:5-6
Now I am looking forward to expectantly to see what God is going to do in our situation and what else He is going to teach me about His character.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Happy Anniversary

Celebrating 22 YearsMarch 21st, 1987

I thought it would be fun to look back over our 22 years together and see the changes through a collection of pictures.

Outside our first "home"...a basement apartment in East WenatcheeCelebrating our first anniversary

A surprise shower celebrating our first home in Wenatchee

A summer ski trip at Mt. Bachelor

A trip to New Zealand to visit friends and celebrate finishing our Master's Degrees. Laura found out she was pregnant right before this trip and was very sick!

Celebrating our 6th Anniversary with a welcome addition~Courtney Beth!

Preparing our hearts to Welcome Jesus~It's almost Christmastime!

Welcome Baby Isaiah!

Tom and Isaiah at Alex & Riann's wedding

A snowy Christmas in 1996

Family Camp at Tall Timber


Welcome Baby Benjamin

All loaded up for our move to Little Rock as we joined staff with FamilyLife

2400 miles later we arrived at our new home...and had our very first meal...a pizza dinner on the floor in our kitchen...all our stuff was still packed away in the truck!

1999 was a Campus Crusade for Christ Staff Training Summer at CSU (Colorado State University). We stopped for a quick tour of the Cliff Dwellers at Mesa Verde.

In July of 2000, we welcomed Josiah to our family!

On the Road Again...

In June of 2001 we traveled to Arizona for the FamilyLife Weekend to Remember Conferences. On our drive home we stopped at Carlsbad Caverns and took a walking tour inside the caves. It was a good experience, even for one who was concerned about being claustrophobic!

2001 was another CSU staff training summer. We drove from Little Rock to Colorado for staff training. We then drove to Washington state to visit family and friends. From there we drove all the way to North Carolina to visit family and then we drove back to Little Rock. Our notebook shows the number of miles we drove for that trip!!! After that Josiah would cry if he even got near our van!

October 2002

Caleb joins the Clifton Family

February, 2003

Fall of 2003

What we are really like...

The Three Amigos

Some of Laura's crazy side of the family at Thanksgiving in Washington following the Weekend to Remember in Bellingham...

2004 Brought Joys and Trials

Courtney and Isaiah both got baptized on Easter Sunday

We welcomed Whitney Grace into our family on October 31st...if only we knew the challenges that God had in store for us...

Courtney finally got to hold the sister that she had prayed for...

Just a few hours after Whitney was born she was in the NICU at Baptist Hospital with respiratory failure. This is her picture before being transfered to Children's Hospital.

Whitney Grace at Children's Hospital. She spent 5 weeks here and it was almost 3 weeks before we could hold her. She had PPHN (Persistent Pulmonary Hypertension of a Newborn).

Finally...I get to hold my baby!

5 weeks old and Whitney finally got to come home...with an oxygen tank!

The Clifton Kids at Christmas, December 2004

Fall of 2005


March 21, 2007...celebrating 20 years of marriage. Tom worked the Anchorage, Alaska Weekend to Remember Conferences. I joined Tom to celebrate our anniversary and to help with the conferences.

Tom's parents stayed with our children during the conference. 2007 was another CSU year. We drove to Rocky Mountain National Park and took a hike in the beauty of God's creation.


MaryElise decided to "surprise us all" by arriving 3 1/2 weeks early...while Tom was in Alaska! God provided two special people (Teena and Renee) to help me through labor and delivery. It was an incredible blessing. God is so good!

Tom got home as quickly as possible. He got to meet MaryElise in the NICU. She was doing great but had to spend a few days there before coming home.

MaryElise was only 5 pounds when she was born and very tiny. Here she is next to Whitney's 15 inch doll!

October 2008

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