Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Merry Christmas to all!


It seems to have snuck up on me quite too quickly this year! Have a wonderful Christmas! May your celebrations be filled with the beauty and wonder of the greatest Gift of all...our Lord Jesus Christ!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Truth...The Whole Truth...And Nothing But the Truth



When Jesus was before Pilate, Pilate posed this question to Jesus: "What is truth?" (John 18:38) In another passage, Jesus had told His disciples the answer to that question: "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." (John 14:6)


Truth seems to be a hot commodity these days. At least, in name. Politicians, media, and the talk show hosts all proclaim to have the truth for our society. The truth for our world. They promise that their version of the truth is "the truth." Of course, when there are contradictions between them all, it is sometimes hard to discern what the REAL truth is!


I find this to be true among Christians as well. We are all supposed to believe the same things: that Christ was born of a virgin, grew in grace and wisdom, preached and taught and healed as a Man, died on the cross, and rose again from the dead. And, I think for the most part, we all do believe this. However, when it comes to issues beyond those basics, the truth seems to become a bit muddied.


After the basics, many Christians seem to think anything not specifically covered in Scripture is "up for grabs." They become cafeteria Christians, picking and choosing the things they want to believe or reject. If it doesn't jive with their personal situation, then they put their own spin on it...because, you know, God is a God of love and would never expect too much of us.


This has really been on my mind over the past few days and months, especially during the election. As a Catholic, I was particularly bothered by many public figures who claim to be Catholic, yet choose to reject teachings of the Catholic church. Sorry, guys (and gals!). This isn't a buffet line! It's an all-or-nothing line! You can't choose to profess only those things which make you popular (or don't detract from your popularity in some way), and then choose to ignore or outright reject those things which make you uncomfortable or unpopular. God isn't impressed by the polls. His truth stands, no matter what our society says.


So there is my rambling for this day. My thought for this day in the journey.


Then Jesus said to those Jews who
believed Him, “If you abide in My
word, you are My disciples indeed.
And you shall know the truth, and
the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:31, 32)

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Tis the Season


It's hard to believe that Thanksgiving has come and gone, and Advent begins tomorrow! I truly love the season of Advent, though: four weeks of heart preparation for the coming of the Lord. What an awesome time of the year.

I especially love the dual meaning of it all. As we prepare to celebrate the Lord's birth, and the entire meaning of Christmas, it is with the privilege of knowing the entire story: He was born, He lived and taught, did incredible miracles, suffered and died on the cross, and rose from the dead--all for the love and salvation of mankind. So as "every heart prepares Him room," it is with the advantage of knowing the history of it all.

But there's the dual meaning I mentioned. For as we prepare for His coming, it is also with hearts full of the knowledge that He will indeed come again. His second Advent. The fulfillment. The completion of it all. There is so much unknown about that future day. But it is with great hope that we prepare and await that awesome Day.

May these weeks of preparation for Advent be times of drawing your heart closer to the Lord, and readying yourself for His coming: the celebration of His birth and the anticipation of His second Advent.

Meditate on this passage, and let the coming King work it into your heart, as you make your heart preparations! God bless!

"But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death."
I Corinthians 15:20-26, RSV

Thursday, November 27, 2008

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

I just wanted to take this quick chance to wish you all (in the U.S.) a wonderful Thanksgiving. I guess I missed Canada's...but hope you all had a wonderful one, too!

My family started this week with a bad case of the stomach flu...first me, then hubby, then, eventually both the boys. Ugh! But, thankfully, we're all on the mend. We're in Michigan visiting family now.

I hope you all have a wonderful day as you reminisce on all the goodness of God in your life!

"In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." II Thessalonians 5:18

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Life Is Crazy!


This is pretty much what life feels like right now. Just trying to keep everyone happy and well-cared for, and keep it all in balance.

Work is going okay. I can't say it's something I want to do for the rest of my life, but it's a good job. I work with some really nice people, too.

The kids are doing okay. School is humming along. We've had some bumps along the way this semester, but overall all is well. Our oldest son is growing too tall, way too fast. He's about my height now!

Hubby is doing well, too...other than a nasty cold. We are making some progress in future plans, so I'll have to clue you in when I know more on that subject.

I do drop by your blogs from time to time, even though I'm not doing well with keeping new posts on my own.

Happy fall, friends!

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Touching Lives

A friend from Kansas e-mailed the following to me. It was written by an educator in Kansas. It touched something deep within me. I felt I should share it with my blog readers.


This message far transcends any building or school district and it is about kids everywhere. This email was written by Bonner Springs High School Industrial Technology Instructor, Kris Munsch. A few years ago, Kris lost his son to a tragic car accident while he was still in high school. Kris shares his story of loss with an incredibly open heart and mind and he welcomes the discussion of his story in hopes that it can make a difference in this world. He sent this message after we finished Parent/Teacher Conferences. I have read it over and over and am moved every time I read it by the raw emotion and incredible resolve that Kris has demonstrated. I have told Kris that he should publish this but he is far too humble to do so. We are truly fortunate to have Kris here in our community and I feel blessed for the opportunity to know him.
-----------------------------------------------
Colleagues
Parent Teacher Conferences are over again, I am still at a loss at how fast time flies by being a teacher. I was disappointed by the numbers that I had but honestly it was better than last year, so I call it a win. I was disappointed that the parents I needed to talk to did not show and the parents that have kids that are doing well showed up. It all makes sense; I used to be one of those parents who did not show up, kind of strange. Now I am a teacher and see the light.

So you may be asking yourself, why am I sharing my thoughts with all of you, maybe I shouldn't, but I am. This morning I woke up and have been needing to take care of a few tasks I have been putting off, one of them was making a copy of my sons death certificate and moving the money I had saved for his college education to a fund that will help support a scholarship we give at Hays High School in his name. Doing this is hard, you spend your life looking out for your child, moving this money is like a closing chapter to Blake. It is very hard to do.

As I looked for the certificate in a large box of his things, I came across a notebook he used in school. I opened the cover and inside just his simple signature, honestly, the sight of it just made my stomach churn. I just wanted to bury my head and cry, the loss is unexplainable. As I continued to explore his notebook, I looked at some of his assignments that he had written, turned in and received his grade. Page after page, you could see he tried but his grade was marked with failure. 5/20, 7/25, 3/10, "Need more information", "Explain More", "-6", it went on and on. Blake was not the best student, as a matter of fact he really struggled. But as I read his words, he was trying, he was really doing what he could with what he had to work with.

As a parent, I failed him. I was the parent the teacher needed to see, but in my mind, I thought that if I had a bed for him to sleep in, computer, cell phone, X-Box, stereo system, etc, Blake needed to do the rest. Blake needed to do his part, but I failed to do mine as a parent. This morning I just lay on my living room floor, holding his notebook to my chest and cried for him and what I had failed to do. I know you can imagine the loss, it hurts so much more now that I realize this, we can become so blind.

So why am I sharing this with all of you? I don't want sympathy or hugs, I just want you all to realize that if a student is frustrating you or a parent is failing to understand your struggles, take a minute to consider that I had to lose mine to realize this. You may not reach that parent because they have not "seen the light". But I also want you to take a minute and realize that each and every student in your room is the opportunity to build a relationship, each and every paper you grade can be success or failure. Did they just not get it, did I not teach it well enough, did they just not care that day, do they care any days? Kids can drive you up a wall and back down the other side and many times, through the wall. Take a minute and build a relationship with them, maybe that is all it will take and it will spark something inside of them. It is not easy and it all takes time, but I want you to know that lying on my floor holding a notebook with my sons writing and my failure is not the answer either.

Each and every one of you can make a difference to a child, a parent, maybe if you build a relationship with a student it will help a parent "see the light". I share this today because knowing this myself and not sharing it is not building a relationship, it is not making a difference. I am glad that "seeing the light" is the easy part, being the "light keeper" is the battle. Build a relationship with a student, maybe the most difficult student you have, take a chance and give them the opportunity to "see the light". Then just maybe, they can go home and save a parent like me. Please share this with any teacher or parent you think will find benefit from my "seeing the light", if enough people can share this "twinkle of light", we have just created a "Relationship".

Kris G. Munsch
Instructor of Industrial Education
Bonner Springs High School
Bonner Springs, Ks.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Some New Pics to Share of the Kiddos


I have a couple of great ones to share today! For those who don't know, these kiddos are not my own, but my great-nephew and great-niece. I hope to share a new one of the new nephew soon, too. Sorry if these are too small. I don't know what happened!






Friday, October 24, 2008

A FRIDAY FUNNY

Two blind pilots, both wearing dark glasses, one using a guide dog and the other tapping his way along the aisle with a cane, come aboard a plane.

Nervous laughter spreads through the cabin, but the men enter the cockpit, the door closes, and the engines start up. The passengers begin glancing nervously around, searching for some sign that this is just a little practical joke. None is forthcoming. The plane moves faster and faster down the runway, and the people sitting in the window seats realize they're headed straight for the water at the edge of the airport.

As it begins to look as though the plane will plow into the water, panicked screams fill the cabin. At that moment, the plane lifts smoothly into the air. The passengers relax and laugh a little, sheepishly, and soon all retreat into their magazines, secure in the knowledge that the plane is in good hands.

In the cockpit, one of the blind pilots turns to the other and says, "Ya know, Bob, one of these days, they're gonna scream too late, and we're all gonna die."

LAUGHTER IS GOOD FOR THE SOUL! HAVE A GREAT WEEKEND!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Fireproof: The Deal with the Kiss

For those interested, this is from the Fireproof website, under their "Frequently Asked Questions" portion:

What’s the deal with the kiss between Caleb and Catherine in FIREPROOF?

In a romantic scene in FIREPROOF, lead actor Kirk Cameron is actually kissing his wife Chelsea rather than Erin Bethea, who plays Catherine. Chelsea was flown in from Los Angeles just for that shot. The scene was filmed in silhouette and works incredibly well, with Chelsea wearing the same outfit and a wig to mirror Erin. Sherwood Pictures has upheld this standard in all their movies: actors and actresses should guard their own marriages while on screen the same way they would do in real life. That’s why you don’t see Coach Taylor (Facing the Giants) or Jay Austin (Flywheel) kissing the women playing the on-screen wives.
Kirk also has long held to a principle that he would kiss no woman other than Chelsea. He was able to honor his marriage while making a movie that inspires others to do the same.

********

Imagine that, friends! Movie-makers and actors with morals! :o)

Saturday, October 11, 2008

A MOVIE TO SEE!


fireproofbanner
My husband and I don't go to a lot of movies. Frankly, most of what is shown in the theaters today is not worth seeing...and it's expensive, to boot!

However, a couple of nights ago, we went to see a new movie that is incredible. It is called "Fireproof." It was created by the same people who made the movie, "Facing the Giants." It is endorsed by some great organizations, including Focus on the Family.

I won't ruin the story line for you. I will give you a little "teaser," though. The movie stars Kirk Cameron (of "Growing Pains" fame). Kirk plays a firefighter whose marriage is on the rocks. Throughout the movie, we see the many traps married couples often fall into, which sabotage their marriage, and the changes God can make in a man. There are some humorous scenes as well, which keep the movie from becoming too heavy.

I would recommend this movie to EVERY married couple, no matter if you've been married for many years or just a few months. Whether you have a great marriage or you're struggling, this movie is worth every penny of the ticket price. Consider it an investment in your marriage. And if you feel so moved, make an investment in the marriage of someone else. Take another couple or two along with you to the theater. You'll be glad you did!

If you click on the link above, you can see the trailer, as well as find a theater near you that is showing the movie. They also have a website called "Fireproof My Marriage" with marriage resources to strengthen any marriage. It includes a link for those whose marriage needs urgent help.

And just as a little side note. Several years ago, while still a part of the "Growing Pains" cast, Kirk Cameron made a stipulation that he would kiss ONLY his wife, who was at the time his girl friend on the show. There is a kissing scene in "Fireproof" as well. I was bothered that he would be kissing another woman... But my husband said they actually had his real wife stand in place of the actress (protraying his wife) for that scene! I just had to share that little tidbit with you.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Life and Times

No, I haven't dropped off the face of the earth! My new job is just keeping me really busy!

I spend my mornings trying to get all the housework (laundry, etc.) done. Eat an early lunch. Then head off to work. On Mondays, I teach a piano lesson after work. So that's a long day. Most other days, we have some type of activity to keep us busy in the evening. Quite honestly, I'm a bit worn out. But I'm surviving, and quite thankful for the new job.

Another reason the blog is suffering is that I have to go to the library to check e-mail, etc. No Internet connection at home any more. I have to find time to drop into the library, which isn't that easy these days!

Thank you all for your words of encouragement. Hope you're all doing well!

On another note, I'd like to introduce you to a new blogger. She's a friend of mine named Lin. Lin's grandson, Nathan, passed away earlier this year. Linda's blog is a tribute to him, but also a way for her to work through her grief. It is a tough read, but definitely worth checking out.

Here's the link: Only for a Morning Drop by, and tell Lin I sent you!

Monday, September 22, 2008

New Job

I started a job today, friends! I was so intimidated...still a little that way. I haven't worked for about 13 years, since I was pregnant with our first son. But, finances necessitated it, so here I go! Actually, a man we know at our church approached my husband a couple of weeks ago, and asked if my husband thought I'd be interested in working for him? His oldest daughter had been helping at his office, but is off to college. I was interested, and met with him last week. Today is my first day, and it went fairly well, all things considered. I'm feeling a bit of brain overload, but other than that, I'm doing alright!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

New Babies in the Family

Our newest additions were born on Sunday and Monday. So, blogging friends, I'm proud to introduce our new great-niece, miss Elyssa...and our new nephew, mister Micah! Aren't they adorable??? (Can you tell I'm excited and proud!?)








<--This is Elyssa!







<--- This is Micah!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Journeying Through the Darkness


If you stop by here occasionally to check for new posts, you have no doubt noticed the lack of new posts on my part. This is partly due to the fact that our slow Internet connection often causes too much frustration for me to sit and wait and wait and wait for it to slowly bring up the screen. It is also partly due to the fact that I am in a journey of darkness right now.

When life is rolling along smoothly...you know...the kids are mostly behaving...the bills are mostly paid and we have a little left in the bank...no one in our immediate family has any serious physical problems...my kids are doing well at school...etc. When life is like that, I'm okay. Life seems bright, and the path seems clear.

But every time I hit a bump in the road, I'm really not okay. My nerves get bad, so I can't sleep. Then my nerves are worse from lack of sleep. (Vicious cycle.) I worry, fret, stew...think of an adjective, I probably fit it. I have panic attacks. Life seems dark.

Well, life has handed me some pretty big bumps in the past few weeks. When that happens, I am so inwardly focused that many things go by the wayside. Blogging definitely isn't high on the priority list.

A couple of nights ago at a Bible study, a friend asked my husband and I about some of our past. At one point, hubby began recounting times in our lives when we had zilch...literally less than $10 in the bank, and paychecks not coming for a week or two (there was a time when both of us got our paychecks only once a month). And yet God provided. Always. It was tough, yes, but there was always provision. A check in the mail. Groceries dropped off anonymously, or simply just given by a friend. Unexpected money. Temporary jobs that got us through until permanent jobs came our way. He told our friends story after story. My faith was bolstered. For that night. But then a new day came along, and the darkness enveloped me again.

Why am I so faithless? Why do I allow the circumstances of life to so easily take my eyes off "Jesus, the Author and Perfecter" of my faith? Why do I become entangled in the snare of fear and doubt? I wish I knew the answer to that question.

I'm being ever-so transparent here. That's a difficult one for me. I had actually planned to simply post about all those great times in life when God has provided. But it all closed in on me again, and all I could see was the darkness, not the light.

So here I am, journeying forward. One tentative step at a time. Groping in the darkness. Searching for the light.

There's a song I used to sing as a child. The words bring a little comfort to my soul today.


The things that I love and hold dear to my heart
Are just borrowed they're not mine at all
Jesus only let me use them to brighten my life
So remind me, remind me, dear Lord.

Chorus: Roll back the curtain of memory now and then
Show me where you brought me from and where I could have been
Remember I'm human, and humans forget
So remind me, remind me, dear Lord

Nothing good have I done to deserve God's own Son
I'm not worthy of the scars in His hands
Yet he chose the road to Calvary to die in my stead
Why He loved me I can't understand.

(Remind Me, Dear Lord--I think the words and music are by Dottie Rambo)

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Just Popping In for Quick "HI"

Would like to ask all my bloggy friends to keep us in your prayers.

THANKS!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Life Overcomes Blogging

I'm sure you can all relate. I have great intentions (not good, but great!) to blog on a regular basis. However, life gets busy, and blogging goes by the wayside.

Let's see. In the last week: I've had to babysit our neighbors' one-year old little girl (who is adorable!), because the mom had surgery on her leg and can't walk at all. A day after watching the cutie pie for several hours, I was sick, and dealing with a back that forgot how much work it is to carry around a small child. I had a day of laundry catch-up. Then we went to visit family over the weekend. On our return, I prepared to catch up the laundry again. Threw a load in the washer, got a quick shower, then ran down to our basement to take that load out and start another...only to discover our basement was full of smoke! We ended up calling the fire dept., and scaring both us and our neighbors quite a bit. Bottom line? The motor in our washing machine burned up. So we had to spend the bucks to get a new one. Ugh! Thankfully, we were able to get a new one installed the very next day. And, our sweet neighbor let me do some laundry at her house in the meantime.

I guess maybe now you can see why I haven't been blogging much lately???

I do want to share a couple of new pics of the great nephew, though. He sure loves his pbj sandwiches! If you want to see a pic of him with his corn-on-the-cob, check out my other blog.

Yummy!

All done!


Thursday, July 31, 2008

God's Way of Counting

I recently read this passage from Psalm 90. Come ponder it along with me:

"Lord, You have been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever You had formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God. You turn man to destruction [or, "return man to dust"], and say, 'Return, O children of men.' For a thousand years in Your sight are like yesterday when it is passed, and like a watch in the night. You carry them away like a flood; they are like a sleep. In the morning they are like grass which grows up: in the morning it flourishes and grows up; in the evening it is cut down and withers. For we have been consumed by Your anger, and by Your wrath we are terrified. You have set our iniquities before You, our secret sins in the light of Your countenance. For all our days have passed away in Your wrath; we finish our years like a sigh. The days of our lives are seventy years, and if by reason of strength they are eighty years, yet their boast is only labor and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away. Who knows the power of Your anger? For as the fear of You, so is Your wrath. So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom." (vs. 1-12, NKJV)

If there were some way to track every word and every deed throughout our individual lifetime, what would that record reveal? What patterns of speech and lifestyle would we see? What theme would sum up our lives?


This psalm is a prayer of Moses. Throughout it he illustrates just how short life really is, and how important it is to examine how we live it out. Our life is compared to grass, that quickly grows, and quickly dies. Each individual day of our lives may seem inconsequential. Yet when all our days are added up, the sum of them is quite consequential. We must live out each day in light of its significance as a segment of our entire life.

One verse especially caught my attention:

"You have set our iniquities before You, our secret sins in the light of Your countenance." (v. 8)

Whew. That's tough! The One who knows all and sees all, sees our iniquities and our secret sins. Those are the sins we try to keep others from discovering. The ones in our little closet of well-kept secrets. But they are held up for inspection in the light of His countenance. In other words, they are seen in their true state, in contrast to the glory of His holiness. Sin looks bad on its own. But when compared to His holiness? I'm afraid the English language doesn't contain a word, or even a few words, that could aptly describe how horrible and nasty our sin appears "in the light of His countenance."

So, here we have the knowledge of our lives being short, and that every sin is revealed to God.

NOW WHAT???

That's the beauty of it. Read on:

"Return, O Lord! How long? And have compassion on Your servants. Oh, satisfy us early with Your mercy, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days! Make us glad according to the days in which You have afflicted us, the years in which we have seen evil. Let Your work appear to Your servants, and Your glory to their children. And let the beauty of the Lord be upon us, and establish the work of our hands for us; yes, establish the work of our hands." (vs. 13-17)

Isn't that incredible? Because of God's mercy, our days can be redeemed! Even the days we have spent in affliction can be redeemed for His glory. His beauty can be upon us--mere mortals--and He can establish our work. What does that mean? It means He gives the work of our hands--our labors--value. Eternal value.

And so, as we learn to number our days, we will gain that heart of wisdom. As we give each day to God, to do His work in His way, He will redeem our days, and gain more of His wisdom. That is the wisdom that COUNTS!
* * *

I'd love to hear any thoughts you may want to add on this as well...

.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Throwing Stones



I have been reading posts on Pastor Tim Dilena's blog for a couple of months now. Tim pastors Revival Tabernacle, in Highland Park, MI. We used to be a part of his church several years ago. His latest post is well worth the read. Check it out here. (I have added a link to his blog on my sidebar as well.) Prepare to be blessed and challenged!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Baby Is Growing Up!

Today is the birthday of our youngest son, "Clyde". He is 9 years old! Whew. Time sure does fly, doesn't it? I can really relate to my mom these days, as I am her "baby". Here's what Clyde looked like on his 2nd birthday. He sure has grown up in the past 7 years! Happy birthday, bud!



.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

An Unforgettable Trip...





The only building left standing on main street--a bank building that suffered damage, but is still standing.


First, I have to say "thank you" to all who were praying. I could definitely feel the effects of your prayers.


We arrived at my mom and dad's on Saturday, July 5th. After spending some time with my mom and one of my sister's families, my mom took us to Greensburg.


I can only describe the experience as surreal. As we drove toward town, all looked as usual. However, as we entered the city limits, I felt like we had driven into some foreign country. Nothing looked the same. The familiar landmarks were not "disfigured," my friends. They were GONE. Empty lots everywhere. Weeds growing in empty lots. Homes being rebuilt, but often not by the same people who used to live there. And usually, the house faced a different direction or at least sat differently on the lot. Scattered here and there, were the few homes that did survive or that still haven't been removed. The building above survived, but with damage. The court house is the only other historic building that survived. The renovations on it began this past week. I felt so lost, driving down once-familiar streets that were not even remotely familiar now. One of the hardest things to see was the weed-covered lot, and empty hole, where the church (I grew up in) once stood. Now there is NOTHING. I even asked my mom if she was sure this was the right spot?


The view from the grain elevator. Those empy lots and holes used to be homes.

How can I describe to you the amazing feeling, though, of being among people who have literally lost everything, and yet carry on and survive? How can I describe the feeling of talking to people whose whole lives now center around "before the tornado, " and "after the tornado". I heard those words repeatedly. How can I explain how it feels to hear people say over and over again, "I'm not the same since the storm. I have short-term memory problems. I used to be this way, but I haven't been like that since the tornado." How do I put into words how their lives have changed, and yet they go on, day by day, doing their best to live "normal" lives and rebuild what they've lost? No one who lived in or near Greensburg on May 4, 2007, will ever be the same.

How can I tell you in mere words how thankful the people are for the hundreds of volunteers who have shown up to help them? There are signs all over town, with "thank yous" to various groups that have given so much to help them rebuild. And that includes all the emergency personnel and National Guardsmen who showed up in the aftermath.


My time spent with my sisters (except one, who, unfortunately couldn't make the trip out to Kansas to see us) was so wonderful. My nieces and nephew are all adults now, taking their strides into the world as grown ups. Boy, does that make me feel old! My oldest niece is building a home with the Mennonite Housing Project in Greensburg. She puts in way more than her required 10 hours per week, as she helps build her own home, as well as those of the others involved in the program. She has such a cute little house, sitting on this great corner lot.


There is so much to tell, and I feel like I'm not really doing a great job of expressing it all. Maybe another post?


Thanks again for your prayers. Please continue to pray for the community of Greensburg, KS. God isn't finished there, for sure!





Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Prayers, Please



My family will be leaving for a trip to Kansas in a few days. I would appreciate your prayers for our safety. But also because this is the first time we will be seeing Greensburg since the tornado...

Thanks...

P.S. Since Greensburg is now being called a "green town," does that mean it's the new Emerald City? :o)

Monday, June 23, 2008

Little Man's First Birthday


Just had to share this pic from our great nephew's birthday...too cute!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

#19

Happy Anniversary, to my wonderful hubby!!!

I am blessed above all women to be your wife...

The first 19 years have been incredible. I look forward to what God has in store for the next 19 years and beyond!


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Monday, June 16, 2008

A Monday Pondering...



John Newton, who is famous for having written the hymn, "Amazing Grace," also wrote the following poem.


The Kite and Its String


Once on a time a paper kite
Was mounted to a wondrous height,
Where, giddy with its elevation,
It thus expressed self-admiration:


"See how yon crowds of gazing people
Admire my flight above the steeple;
How would they wonder if they knew
All that a kite like me can do!


Were I but free, I'd take a flight,
And pierce the clouds beyond their sight,
But, ah! like a poor pris'ner bound,
My string confines me near the ground;


I'd brave the eagle's towering wing,
Might I but fly without a string."
It tugged and pull, while thus it spoke,
To break the string--at last it broke.

Deprived at once of all its stay,
In vain it tried to soar away;
Unable its own weight to bear,
It fluttered downward through the air;


Unable its own course to guide,
The winds soon plunged it in the tide.
Ah! foolish kite, thou hadst no wing,
How could'st thou fly without a string!

My heart replied, "O Lord, I see
How much this kite resembles me!
Forgetful that by thee I stand,
Impatient of thy ruling hand;
How oft I've wished to break the lines
Thy wisdom for my lot assigns?


How oft indulged a vain desire
For something more, or something higher?
And, but for grace and love divine,
A fall thus dreadful had been mine."

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

There are so many "strings" in our lives. There are things that seem to hold us back from the "freedom" for which we long. We want to break free from all those strings that are keeping us from our longings. But as the kite, we realize that those "strings" are God's safety lines for us. They are the relationships, responsibilities, etc. that God puts in our lives to anchor us. Much like a marionette, we are not useful without all the strings...and the hand of God guiding them in His most masterful way.


So the line, "with no strings attached"...isn't always a good thing!

Monday, June 09, 2008

He's Still in the Boat


To all my bloggy friends, I'm truly sorry for the lack of posts lately. I've tried to at least visit blogs once a week. But life has sort of sidetracked any posts from me.

It seems like the little boat called "my life" has been through a lot of choppy waters lately. Just when I think things are calming down a bit, another wave comes along. Or a few storm clouds brew up on the horizon, and come over to rain on my voyage. They threaten to capsize me more often than I like to admit.

But in the midst of it all, I am reminded that He is still in the boat. He's really the Captain. He's got it all under control. The waves and the storms don't catch Him by surprise. He is never shocked when the boat gets rocked back and forth, or even when it takes on a little water. Just when it seems the rolling waters are going to overwhelm me completely, He speaks words of peace, and calms the seas.

Thanks to all of you for being so patient. I'll try to be a bit more diligent about posts. In the meantime, I'm still here, praying for you all!

God bless, and have a great week...

.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Hope for the Journey


"...Be my rock of refuge, a fortress of defense to save me. For You are my rock and my fortress; therefore, for Your name's sake, lead me and guide me."
Psalm 31:2b-3, NKJV

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Posters Block

New posts will be forthcoming. Patience, dear friends!

Friday, May 23, 2008

Chapman Family Tragedy

The following article was on today's Christianity Today website. Let us all join together in prayer for their family.

STEVEN CURTIS CHAPMAN LOSES YOUNGEST DAUGHTER IN DRIVEWAY ACCIDENT
by Anne Thomas, Friday, May 23, 2008

Christians the world over have been expressing their sympathy for Grammy Award-winning singer Steven Curtis Chapman after his 5-year-old daughter was killed in an accident on the family’s driveway on Wednesday.

Maria Sue Chapman was the youngest of three Chinese girls adopted by Chapman and his wife, Mary Beth, after a visit to China awoke in them a deep love for the country and its people. She was hit by a car driven by one of her brothers on the driveway of the family home in Franklin Tennessee in what local authorities have described as a “tragic accident”.

The Chapmans have three biological children, two teenage sons Will Franklin and Caleb, and 21-year-old daughter Emily.

Brian DeVos, manager of Michigan operations for Bethany Christian Services and a family friend of the Chapmans, was quoted by Michigan News as saying, "They are loving and wonderful parents and a great family - they must be devastated. He's (Steven Curtis Chapman) been such an advocate for adoption - I know their commitment to kids."

Chapman and his wife have helped families adopt children through their charity Shaohannah’s Hope.

Chapman’s manager, Jim Houser, wrote in a message on the Shaohannah’s Hope website, “Your prayers are needed for all in the Chapman family. This is a family who has so generously loved and given to so many.

“Just hours before this close knit family was celebrating the engagement of the oldest daughter Emily Chapman, and were just hours away from a graduation party marking Caleb Chapman's completion of high school.

“Now, they are preparing to bury a child who blew out 5 candles on a birthday cake less than 10 days ago.

“These words are unthinkable to type. And yet we trust in a God who was not surprised by this and because of Jesus I am certain through faith in Him we will see Maria again.”

Local Christian music radio station WJQK-FM said it had opened up its phone lines and that people were calling in to pray on air for Maria and the family.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Walking the Walk


"What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, 'Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,' but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, 'You have faith, and I have works.' Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble! But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect? And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, 'Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.' And he was called the friend of God. You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only. "

(James 2:14-24, NKJV)


Pondering these words today, and how it applies to where I am in life. I keep hearing the word, "Obedience."


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Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Tribute to the Diva


I have just read what is supposed to be the last post for our dear Ragamuffin Diva, Claudia Mair Francis Burney.


We're going to miss you, dear friend, but I'm still looking forward to the MANY books you will publish!


God bless!!!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

A Post of Many Subjects

How is that I can go for days, or even weeks, without even one idea for a blog post...and then I get too many ideas all at once???

First, happy Mother's Day to all the mothers out there. And for those who long to be mothers, my prayers are with you. May God fill your day with thankfulness for all His blessings.

Second, I have to share a new photo of "my" Isaiah. He's growing up so fast! In this pic, he's "helping" his grandpa with the mower. Isn't he just too, too cute?! (Don't worry. The mower was not running!)

Third, tomorrow is Pentecost Sunday, too. This is something God is reminding me to really focus on.

You see, I grew up in the Assemblies of God. Our "distinctive" was the "pentecostal experience": speaking in tongues. Yet it seemed that every year, Pentecost Sunday mostly just got a mention in the church bulletin, without there being much focus on why we had Pentecost Sunday, the history of the day in the church, or even a time spent seeking the Holy Spirit's outpouring in our midst. To be fair, we had many sermons on the Holy Spirit, and many services dedicated to that aspect of our faith. Still, I feel like I sort of missed out on what should have been the "day of days" in our movement.

So now coming at this from a Catholic perspective, I see the day in a bit of a different light. It is, truly, the crowning and inauguration of the Church's new life after Christ's ascension. The Spirit came upon the believers in the upper room, showed Himself in wind, fire, and through the speaking of different languages...and in Peter's new boldness to preach the message of Christ, no matter what the consequences. It is truly a glorious day in the history of the Church. But it really is NOT about speaking in tongues. It is about the Giver of the gifts, not the gifts themselves, right? It is about Him making us into the people (and the Church) He wants and needs us to be to reach the world with the truth of the Gospel. It is about "being empowered" by the Spirit of "Him who raised Christ from the dead". It is about being full of Him and spilling Him forth into the lives of everyone around us.

Happy Pentecost Sunday!


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Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Speaking the Truth in Love

One of today's Scripture readings is from Acts 20. This section especially caught my attention:

"And from Miletus he (Paul) sent to Ephesus and called to him the elders of the church. And when they came to him, he said to them: 'You yourselves know how I lived among you all the time from the first day that I set foot in Asia, serving the Lord with all humility and with tears and with trials which befell me through the plots of the Jews; how I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you in public and from house to house...' " (vs. 17-20, RSV)

The highlighted portion really struck me. Paul didn't hold back anything from them that was "profitable". In other words, anything that would help them draw closer to Christ and live more like Him. Even if they sometimes had to be hard words. If you've ever read any of Paul's epistles, you know he sometimes had to use "tough love." He basically showed his love by pointing out ways the people were not living as they should. Abuses of different kinds, or public sins they were allowing to go unchecked. He didn't say these things to be mean, or to show how spiritual he was in comparison. He did it out of love, so that they would grow in their faith. There was never any malice.

I read a devotional today that challenged me in this area. The author said, "Are there people in your life who could use a dose of the truth delivered in love? Are you open to having others pose a gentle and loving challenge to you sometimes?" (David Nantais, Living Faith)



Wow. I am a very non-confrontational person. I sometimes avoid it all costs. But do I avoid it at the cost of some one's place in eternity???

Like most people, I don't enjoy having people point out areas where I need improvement. But do I close out words that could help me grow more to be like Christ?

Food for thought...

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

More Thoughts On the Early Show Series


I wish I could adequately describe the range of emotions I am feeling this week, watching the CBS Early Show series on Greensburg, KS. I feel like I'm on an emotional roller coaster.

I'm excited when I see a familiar face.

I'm heartbroken when they show large, overhead shots of the town, since there isn't much there now.

I'm overwhelmed with joy when I see the generosity of people who have donated toys, library books, playground equipment, basketballs, t-shirts, musical instruments, time, and money to the people of that town and community.

I am filled with such pride when I hear the stories of how people are continuing to rebuild--people who never said, "the country owes us," but are so thankful for any help they receive. People who would have rebuilt without any assistance, as they helped their friends and neighbors recover. But the same people who are amazed at all the ways people all over the nation--and yes, even from other countries--have reached out to assist them in any way possible.

I'm sad that the town few people knew about before May 4, 2007, is now well-known because it was destroyed by a horrendous tornado.

But I feel that the crew from the Early Show, as well as all the other news people who have been there in the past year, are going to discover what all of us have always known: Greensburg isn't great because of the Big Well, the businesses that were there, or even the beauty of the Kansas plains. Greensburg is great because of the people. I grew up on a farm near Greensburg. I've known this all my life! I'm grateful that the country is now getting to see it, too.

I know there is only so much a one-week series can show. I wish they could recognize every volunteer who has come to help clean up or rebuild. I wish they could show the face of every emergency worker who showed up the night of the tornado. I wish they could show the National Guard soldiers who came in to protect the people and what was left of their belongings. Or each of the law enforcement officials from surrounding towns that helped to keep things orderly. Or a list of the hundreds of organizations and individuals who have donated so many resources. Or the faces of the local city and county workers who worked in incredible conditions (and continue to do so) to try to get things back on track. (Among whom are my sister, niece, and brother-in-law.)

If you want more information on the series, or ways you can help, click on "Early Show" above, and it will take you to the CBS website. Or click on one of my sidebar links.

God bless.

.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Lest We Forget

For so many people across the U.S. and around the world, the events of last May 4 have faded into the fog of the past. For myself, and anyone else familiar with what has happened since then, the story is still unfolding. And it is very much a part of TODAY. It's current news.



On the night of May 4, 2007, the town of Greensburg, KS, took a direct hit from a EF-5 tornado. 95% of the town was completely destroyed. The other 5% may have survived, but there was still damage. Though a small town by many standards (pop. 1,500), it is still mind-boggling to think of an entire town being destroyed. The town wasn't the only place to be hit, either. There were other areas in the community (farms, homes, etc.) that were hit by that tornado or others that went through the area on May 4th and 5th. Thankfully, few lives were lost. Sadly, hundreds of people were left without ANYTHING. Their homes, cars, businesses, belongings, and the businesses that provided the basic necessities for the community were completely wiped off the map.



There have been donations and help from across the country and around the world. Fund raisers of every type have been held. Teams of workers have come from every corner of the nation. It has been a remarkable thing to witness. The residents of Greensburg are truly thankful. They are a hard-working, community-minded people. They have "pulled themselves up by the bootstraps"...but they are thankful for all the outside help they have received and are continuing to receive.



This week, the Early Show ( on CBS--click link to see related articles) is broadcasting live from Greensburg. They are doing a week-long series of interviews and stories on how the town is rebuilding. While viewing it this morning, I saw a few people I knew (Jackie C., my dad!, my aunt, Scott B., etc.). But what I saw of the town looked nothing like the Greensburg of my growing-up years. Or the town I saw just last year, when my family visited my parents, friends, and relatives in that area. Oh, there are a few recognizable things: the grain elevators, the courthouse (damaged, though still there), etc. But most of it is either a pile of rubble, or an empty space where a building used to stand.



At the end of this week, there will be special events held. Just another way for the people to join together as community, and remind each other that they're in the rebuilding business together. President Bush will be speaking at the high school graduation, too. (Which had to be rescheduled to accommodate his schedule. But still...he's going back there. That means a lot.)



I know that for myself, seeing horrible disasters on TV (hurricanes, tsunamis, tornadoes, etc.) can be almost mind-numbing. I shut out the horrific scenes so that I don't have to deal with it on a daily basis. But there is nothing I can shut out about Greensburg. These are people I love and many of whom I have known my whole life. My heart will not stop aching for them until they are back in their homes and businesses. And even then, I know the memories of May 4, 2007, have changed them all forever. Not a one of them will ever be able to erase the memories of the sights and sounds on that night and throughout the days afterward. None of them will ever forget what was lost and what it cost them (financially and emotionally) to rebuild.



My heart, thoughts, and prayers are with you all continually, but especially throughout this week. God be with you all...

Google images of Greensburg--before and after the tornado





Tuesday, April 22, 2008

An Announcement from Isaiah


"I'm going to be a big brother in September!!!"


Yes, it's true! My sister-in-law and my niece are both due in September. I'm going to be an aunt again AND a great aunt again. How exciting!

Monday, April 21, 2008

The Pope's Visit to the U.S.


I was going to work on a new post about the pope's visit. But my hubby wrote such a wonderful one, I'll just let you check it out on his blog, One Pilgrim.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The Gift and the Giver


I have a story to tell you today, so bear with me. I'm afraid this could turn into a lengthy post. But stick with me. I need your input!




There once was a little girl who loved music. She loved to try picking out church hymns on the piano. She loved to sing "Jesus Loves Me". When she got a battery-operated little "organ" for a present, she spent hours trying to figure out songs. (An older sister even taught her to play "Jesus Loves Me" on the little organ.) Whenever there was a school or church Christmas program, she learned every word of every song, and sang with all the gusto she could muster. She began taking piano lessons at the tender age of 6, and it brought an abundance of joy into her life, knowing what all those wonderful marks on the pages meant.




As the little girl grew older, she continued to play. She learned other instruments as well (clarinet, alto saxophone, and, eventually, tenor saxophone). She would sit at the piano at home, and sing to her heart's content. She would tape record herself playing some of her favorite piano pieces, dreaming of one day playing a piano concert for an appreciative audience.




While in junior high, the girl began enjoying singing even more. With the encouragement of her pastor's wife, she decided to take the plunge and sing in a church-sponsored talent competition. She wore her new Easter dress, and, prepared as well as she knew how to at the time, she sang at the competition. However, there were snickers from older boys. Comments about how her pretty dress made her look "pregnant". Besides, her voice sounded like that of a little girl, in comparison to the others in the competition. She was mortified. She would never, ever get up in front of others to sing again.




She continued to play the piano, though. She even agreed to play for her church's children's choir at their Christmas program. Eventually, she was asked to play for the adult choir and was one of several piano players for her school's high school choir. She even went out on a limb and played the piano for the church-sponsored talent competition. But sing? Not again. Not even at home, really. Just played the piano.




Finally, early in high school, she sat back down at her piano at home and began to play and sing. She was older now, and her voice was somehow different. And she was reminded once again of how much she loved singing songs of praise to God. Her church was going to have a night of singing on New Year's Eve. After fighting through her fear and nerves, she finally decided to put her name down. She would sing in front of others again, if only this once.




But it couldn't end there. After the experience turned out to be a positive one, she wanted to sing, sing, and sing some more! Any chance she got, she would sing. She practiced and practiced, but loved being in front of others even more. It was such a wonderful feeling, looking out and seeing others with their hands lifted in praise, as they personalized the message of the songs she would sing. Leading others to praise God...how wonderful!




There were many who encouraged the girl to continue to use her voice to praise God. Someone even once told her they were jealous of the gift she had. But she didn't see it that way. Not that she was a "better" singer than others. It was simply a way she could express her praise to God.




On the other hand, there were some who discouraged her. After weeks of practicing for a special community event, and showing up early to set up, it was discovered that no one had had the foresight to set up a sound system. She couldn't sing loudly enough for all to hear her, and she had no way to play her background music, which was all on cassette. The man in charge of the service, a pastor from another church, basically said, "Oh, well. We just won't have music. We don't have time to get a sound system and set it all up." She was so disappointed. And at another of those church-sponsored talent competitions, she made the mistake of drinking some lemon juice before taking her turn at performing. The lemon juice "froze" her throat. Not a decent note would come out of her. She was devastated. All those weeks of practice were wasted. Maybe God didn't want her to sing in front of others after all. Maybe singing at home, in her own living room, was all God had for her.




Thankfully, the voices of encouragement won out. She looked for a college that would allow her to hone her voice and piano skills. A place of ministry training. She found such a college, and looked forward to it with great anticipation. Again, though, the voice of discouragement came. This time, in the form of an audition. Prior to arriving at college, a youth pastor encouraged her to try out for a particular singing group at the college. He assured her that she would definitely be accepted. He was wrong. And there were so many people at the college with much more talent than her. The college was full of music majors who sang and played the piano far better than she did. She withdrew, and only sang in choirs. No more solos. No more singing in front of others, and leading them to worship God with her. She didn't have enough talent for that. The only time she would sing a solo was at her home church, where she knew she would not be rejected.




Finally, near the end of her first year in college, God reminded her that she was hiding her light under a bushel. She took the initiative, and signed up to sing at a chapel service. It didn't matter how many others could sing better than she did. She would use what talent she had to glorify God.




After some time, the girl, now becoming a woman, found the man of her dreams. As they got to know each other, he asked her to accompany him when he led music at the church he attended. He taught her more about playing "by ear" and by chord; he, on his guitar, and she on the piano.




The woman and her "dream man" fell in love and got married. God led them to be a part of a new church that was being started. The pastors of the new church needed a team of musicians. The keyboardist they had worked with previously was out of the country on a missions trip. Would the woman consider playing with the music team? She would try! A few months later, though, the original keyboardist returned. Feeling very inadequate, the woman stepped aside so the other keyboardist could take her place.




Over the years, there were other experiences of encouragement and rejection. There was always someone better, and she would gladly step aside to allow the better musician have the position she held.



All along, though, there was one puzzle the woman could never figure out how to solve. What should she say if someone actually complimented her? How did one maintain their integrity and humility, and yet acknowledge the compliment graciously? Saying, "All the glory goes to God" almost sounded "holier-than-thou". What should she do? Just smile, and say, "Thank you?", then look like a glory hound?


Most recently, the woman was given the opportunity to join a group at her church. The other musicians have played together for years, and she is definitely overwhelmed by their talent. She doesn't feel up to the job. She knows it is something God wants her to do, though.


Yet whenever she is given any type of compliment, it really pushes her in the opposite direction. It causes her to want to shrink away from it altogether. She doesn't want attention. She just wants to sing for God's glory and encourage others to do the same.


And I guess this is the question for all of us. How do we use the talents and abilities God has given us without allowing ourselves to become discouraged when it is not a positive experience, or allowing ourselves to become prideful when it IS a positive experience?




Saturday, April 12, 2008

Little Ones to Him Belong...


I had not planned for this to be the topic of my newest post. However, I checked my e-mail just prior to signing into Blogger, and decided that this was more important for tonight.

For the past several months, I have been privileged to be part of a group of people praying for a small baby named Angel. Even before her birth, we were praying for a healing. The doctors discovered some abnormalities while she was in her mommy's womb. The very fact that she survived her birth was a miracle. She has had her ups and downs since then, going through medical procedures, medications, etc. to try to spare her young life.

Today, Angel was welcomed into the arms of Jesus. I cannot imagine the grief her family is experiencing tonight. There is joy, of course, knowing that little Angel will no longer suffer, and that she is at peace in the presence of the Lord. Yet there will always be that longing for the day when they will be reunited with her...

My prayers continue with you, Amanda. I have never met you, but God most definitely placed your little one in my heart and prayers. May His grace and peace be yours in abundance tonight.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Showin' off the little man


I haven't posted a picture of my great nephew in awhile. Can you believe how much he has grown?? (There's another new pic on my other blog.)

Monday, March 31, 2008

What Really Matters


If you've read my blog for any time at all, you know I used to home school my two boys. It was a wonderful five years, but it was definitely stressful. This year, they are both attending our parochial school. It was a big adjustment (and sometimes still is), but overall, they are doing well.

Since the time we made the decision to send them to school, I have had many people ask, "Well, now that they are going to be gone all day, what are you going to do with yourself? Are you going to get a job? You're going to be so lonely there by yourself. Won't you get bored?" I have to admit, too, that these are some of the same questions I asked myself! However, I decided to take it slowly. I haven't been "just" a wife and mom for over five years, since I was also "full-time teacher".

My life has settled into a routine of sorts, with laundry, housecleaning, and groceries taking up most of my daytime hours. Evenings are spent helping the boys with homework and projects, church activities, and preparing for the next day. (Soon, there will be baseball practice added into this mix.) Certainly a fairly full schedule, but nothing overly exciting!

So, I began looking for a job that might work with all our schedules. I first considered a position at their school. However, my computer skills and the demand of the job were both deterrents. Then, I came across a job at the local library: outreach assistant. Which basically was someone to help with the Bookmobile and other associated programs our library offers. It sounded really good, too. The pay was great, and the hours: only 20 per week. Perfect, right? So I filled out the application, and was given an interview. I showed up early, and was handed a job description to look over while I waited for the interview to begin. Well, that was the clincher. "Must be available evenings and weekends." The only time I have to spend with my husband and kids. Hmm. I did go ahead with the interview, and apologized to the three women who conducted the interview. As I told them, my family has to come first. I left the interview with a sense of relief. But something else, too...

The next day, when my boys came home from school all full of stories from their day, I was so thankful to be there, sharing that moment. The first thought that crossed my mind was: I wouldn't trade this job for anything in the world! But still...

That short job interview did something for me. It reminded me that I am an intelligent adult. It reminded me that I could get a job if I really had to. It reminded me that there is more to the world than laundry, meals, etc. But it also reminded me that I am right where God wants me!

In the Catholic church, we have something called "vocations". Many see that as a calling to priesthood, being a nun, or the "religious life" (monks, etc.). And it is. But it also includes those who are married and/or parents. That is a vocation! Truly! We are in a time of praying for vocations. That includes exactly what I am doing each and every day. I pray that more women would sense this as a true calling from God. For I have felt a renewed sense of that in my spirit over the past couple of weeks. What a wonderful privilege to be called to the vocation of motherhood.

Don't get me wrong. I know there are many women who work an outside job and do an excellent job of parenting their children. I just pray that the children and their marriage are their top priority.

I am so thankful for the place God has given me, and allowed me the opportunity to be the mother to our two sons...and a wife to my wonderful husband. That's what really matters.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

An Image from the Past

Most of my readers know about the tornado that destroyed my hometown of Greensburg, Kansas, on May 4, 2007. I grew up on a farm just a few miles north of this town.

I found this photo of the hair salon where I used to get my hair cut. (And my mom was a regular patron, before the tornado.) To know I sat in one of those chairs...wow. The shock still hasn't worn off, even though it has been almost a year. I haven't seen the devastation in person yet. Possibly this summer. I'm not sure how I'll handle it when I do see it for the first time.

If you want to view updates on the progress of the town's rebuilding efforts, I have links on my sidebar.

E-Clips Hair Salon

Easter Memories


My Easter weekend was quite interesting, to say the least. There were a variety of events at church, as well as situations friends were experiencing. The weekend had some extreme highs and lows.
There was the Easter vigil service, in which many were baptized, confirmed, and received into the Church. I cried tears of joy!
There was the prayer request for a young baby. Her mother discovered a growth on the child's leg. The doctors have diagnosed it as cancer.
There was the excitement of Sunday morning, and the elation of celebrating the resurrection of the Lord.
There was the devastating news that a friend's grandson committed suicide. A young man with a bright future...
There was the delight in seeing a friend's 4-day-old baby girl, born just before Easter. A tiny little rosebud; a reflection of God's glory. A reminder that there is always life after death...
I am so thankful for the empty tomb. There are so many struggles and trials in this life that would simply be unbearable if I did not have the assurance that He is risen.
Thanks be to God.
.

Monday, March 24, 2008

He Is Risen! Alleluia!

"But the angel said to the women, 'Do not be afraid; for I know you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay.' "
Matthew 28:5, 6

I hope that your family had a most blessed Resurrection Sunday. Our entire weekend was busy, but full of reminders of the great wonder of Christ's resurrection.

Rejoice, dear friends, for He is risen!

Friday, March 21, 2008

Good Friday

"But when the time had fully come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law..."

"...to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons."
Galatians 4:4, 5


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Saturday, March 15, 2008

Feeling "Bugged"

Some type of "bug" has had me down all week. I'll be back when I feel a bit better.

Keep me in your prayers!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Judge Not...

"Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her."
(John 8:7b)

I'm sure most of us are familiar with the story from John chapter 8. The Pharisees and scribes, ever on the lookout for a way to trick Jesus, presented a woman to Him. A woman caught "in the very act" of adultery. There was no doubt that she was guilty. No question of innocence here. (Although I've always wondered why the man was not brought forward as well. The Law required both guilty parties to be punished.)

So now, what would Jesus do? Would He break the Law by saying she was simply free to go? Would He do the "righteous" thing and begin the stoning Himself? Would he question her? How would He deal with this sinner?

And what did He do? He wrote in the dirt! Some have speculated that perhaps He was writing down the sins of those gathered. Some have suggested that He may have been writing out the Ten Commandments. Others have surmised that He possibly made a list of those in the crowd who had been with her before. I really don't know what He wrote. I just know that it wasn't the reaction they expected. They wanted action! Their righteous indignation would settle for nothing less!

Ah, but Jesus saw through their false piety. He knew their hearts. And He saw a broken, repentant woman before Him.

"Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her..." Ouch. Of course, there was not a man among those in her "jury" who could lay claim to complete innocence. True enough. None of them could stand as true judge over this woman. The one person in the entire crowd who had that distinction was Jesus alone. He was the only one without sin.

As the rocks thudded to the ground, and the men slowly shuffled off in shame, the woman must have been amazed. But even more amazing were the words from this kind Stranger:

"Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?"

Her only words recorded in Scripture: "No one, Lord."

And Jesus said, "Neither do I condemn you; go, and do not sin again."

This is all we know of the story. Does this woman become a disciple of Christ? Does she later join the others in mourning His death on the cross? Is she in the crowd on the day of His ascension? Does she stand among those gathered on the day of Pentecost? We don't know for sure.

What we do know is that this woman came face to face with what grace really means: unmerited favor. In herself, she had nothing. She was clearly a sinful woman. Yet Jesus gave her no words of condemnation; only words of love and grace. Forgiveness was hers for the taking.

I think I have always loved this story due to my joy at seeing the Pharisees and scribes get another of Jesus' "in your face" type lessons. But I don't think that is what we're supposed to learn from this encounter.

We could all stand in the place of that woman. We have all been caught "in the very act" of some type of sin, haven't we? Yet the only One who could condemn us chooses instead to offer us His grace and forgiveness.

What do we offer to those around us who are living lives of "the very act?" Do we offer a cold shoulder of righteous indignation and judgment? Do we patronize them and give them the privilege of our presence? Or do we truly offer them a message of Christ's love, grace, and forgiveness...the same things He has so freely given us?

Too often, I feel like the elder brother in the story of the prodigal son, complaining to my Father: "Lo, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command; yet you never gave me a kid (goat), that I might make merry with my friends. But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your living with harlots, you killed for him the fatted calf!"

And in His great love, God responds, "[Daughter,] you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. It was fitting to make merry and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found." (Luke 15:29-32)

As a child of God, may I be as willing as my Lord to stand on the side of grace and mercy.


Thursday, March 06, 2008

Two Days Until Afghan Delivery!

As some of you may remember from several months ago, Laura Spradlin, at Sugar Bunny Boulevard, started a project called, "Rebuilding Greensburg--Block by Block." The idea was for people to donate afghan squares, which Laura and a team of volunteers would assemble into afghans. These afghans will be delivered to the tornado victims in Greensburg, KS (my home town). I received the following e-mail from Laura:

Joni, this is gonna be quick but I wanted to be sure that you know we're doing an afghan delivery on Saturday March 8th at the First Baptist Church there in Greensburg. My contact person is Pastor Marvin George.

Please let your family know about this and let me know of any names of people that you know will NOT be able to attend the event on Saturday so that I can be sure they get afghans delivered that day!
Thank you so much for everything you've done to support and encourage me during this project. May you be blessed in every thing that you do. :)
Laura Spradlin
www.sugarbunnyblvd.com

__________________________

If you need more information, the link above will take you right to her website.

THANK YOU LAURA, and thanks to all the people across the nation and around the world who were a part of this great project!

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

The Dignity of Human Life


I recently read a disturbing story. It was a firsthand account of an African American man's experience. The thing that most disturbed me wasn't that it happened in recent years--though that in itself is quite upsetting. But the thing that bothered me the most was that it happened at all.

It seems he was dining with another gentleman. In the midst of their conversation, another man, unknown to both of them, called the author "boy." In the African American experience, for a man to be called "boy" by a white man is a very derogatory and demeaning statement. It is to say, "I am white, so I am a man. You are not, so you are just 'a boy'." Even as I read the words, I was angered. I was ashamed. I wish I could apologize to the author for words spoken by another of my race. The author handled the situation with the utmost dignity, and, consequently, preserved his own Christian testimony in the midst of a very trying situation.

The point of it all is that, no matter the color of a person's skin, they are a PERSON. They are created by GOD--and in His image! That alone is enough to give them dignity!

I hear the terms "pro-life" and "pro choice" tossed around a lot these days, especially in terms of political stands. But what does it really mean to be pro-life?

To me it means that we honor the dignity of all human life, no matter the color of the person's skin, their age, their mental capabilities, their religious preference, etc. I do not condone the homosexual lifestyle. But I do recognize that every single person entangled in it was still created in God's image. I do not agree with adultery. But I still recognize that both individuals are still worthy of dignity. I did not enjoy seeing my husband's grandmother go through the years of sickness, memory loss, and deteriorating health. But we still loved and honored her for the very life she had lived and the fact that as long as He gave her breath, God had a reason for her continued life. I don't agree with the tenets of the Muslim religion of Islam. But I still realize that every one of those men, women, and children was created in His image, too. I am appalled by the tragedies caused by murderers. But their times are still in God's hands. Do I believe they should be punished? Of course. Do I believe they should be murdered? No. My skin is lily white. Yet I know that every human being on this planet, no matter the color of their skin, was still made in the image of God. (Besides, God is spirit. Who decided He was white???)

I know that these could be considered controversial statements. It's sad to me that it is so. As a mother, I know how much I care for my two boys. So how can I think any less of the God who created them, me, and all other people? Why should I think that He cares more for the preservation of my life than He cares for the life of any other single person on earth?

When we say we are pro-life, it should mean ALL life. It doesn't just mean the life of the unborn or the elderly, though it certainly does mean them. It means ALL human life.

Just some thoughts of my own...I welcome your thoughts, too.

"...as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men."
(Romans 12:18)


"The Golden Rule" by Norman Rockwell