Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Emotional dehydration....

Have you ever felt emotionally dry? Has your life been like living in a desert? Sometimes we find ourselves in circumstances that we just don't know how to deal with. Circumstances that dehydrate us emotionally. Everything else in our lives can be going along perfectly, but at the same time we can have one area that seems to suck the life right out of us. We laugh, chat, work, even serve; but inside, a part of us is thirsting.

I've been there....I'm there a lot these days. I'm not complaining. I am actually hopeful this is just a season I must go through. My prayer is that I will not totally implode; but that in the end, I will be stronger, closer to God, and able to reach out to others.

Tonight we experienced a wonderful time of worship...It wasn't just wonderful because it made me feel good. It was great because it was like a drink of fresh, cool water to my soul. You see, I have a hope because Jesus is the Living Water. Because of Him, I don't have to thirst when I go through these desert places. He is the well that will never run dry. Tonight when I heard this song, it was as if it was the first time I had heard it. The words jumped out and grabbed me! I was reminded that although I may feel totally drained and dehydrated, Jesus is the well that will never run dry. He is always there!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Advent Devotions for 2009

Family and Personal Devotions for Advent 2009

The word “Advent” means “coming.” It has historically tied Jesus’ first coming as a baby in a manger to His second coming when He returns to earth for His people.
Our family began celebrating Advent several years ago after searching for a way to really focus on Christ during the Christmas season. This time of year can be so busy, oftentimes with lots of good things; but it is easy to forget about Christ. We desired to teach our children to really focus on Christ as we lead up to the celebration of His birth.
Over the years our Advent celebrations have varied. We set up an Advent wreath and light the appropriate candles each evening. (However we have chosen to use red and green candles instead of the traditional purple and pink.) We have read Advent books. (I highly recommend the Jotham series for elementary and older students.) We have wrapped little “presents” that the children have opened each day as we read a Scripture to go with that “present”. (This was especially fun when the children were little.) And we’ve also had variations of a Jesse Tree (taken from Isaiah 11) where we hang an “ornament” on a special “tree” each day.
Here is a picture of the ornaments our kids made (using Modeling Magic by Crayola):

The devotions that follow are a part of our Jesse Tree. They can be done with the tree or without it. One year we had paper ornaments that we stuck to a paper tree. One year we made ornaments out of modeling clay and hung them on a tree branch that we “planted” in a pot. It doesn’t matter. You can be as creative as possible.
Or if you chose to use this a personal devotions, you don’t need to use the “ornament” suggestions next to each date. Either way, I hope you find these devotions useful.
As you take time to read the Scriptures and devotions during this Advent season, look for three common threads: 1) Jesus represented throughout the Old Testament, 2) God choosing unlikely men and women to accomplish His plans, and 3) the need for obedience if we are to live a godly life.

November 29: Dove/Earth
Read Isaiah 11:1-10
This passage describes Jesus as the branch from the stump of Jesse. Jesse was the father of David who began a line of descendants that lead to Jesus, the Messiah. This passage in Isaiah is also describes the peace and harmony of creation as God had intended it and how it will one day be again.
Take some time on this first day of Advent to be peaceful before God. Reflect on His love and holiness. Commit yourself to being obedient to His Word this season.

November 30: Apple
Read Genesis 2:4-3:24
God created the first man and woman, Adam and Eve, on the sixth day of Creation. They were the favored of all His Creation! But they were not perfect and one day, they fell to the temptations of Satan in the form of the serpent. They disobeyed God! This is known as the original sin.
Jesus is known as the second, or new, Adam because he ushered in a new creation—forgiving sin and restoring humanity to God’s grace.
We all struggle with temptations. But that doesn’t not mean we must give into those temptations. If we have accepted Jesus Christ, we have the power of the Holy Spirit dwelling in us to overcome temptation’s power—whether it be gossip, lying, anger, fear, resentment or bitterness.
Today ask God for His power in overcoming a temptation you are struggling with.

December 1: Rainbow
Read Genesis 6:11-14; 7:1-12; 8:1-22
Noah and the ark is one of the most well-known Bible stories. God was displeased with the people because they of their wickedness. Noah, however, found favor in God’s sight. So God decided to send a great flood to destroy all who would not follow Him. Only those people and animals who were on the ark were saved from the terrible, world-wide flood.
The ark is a symbol that although God was displeased with the wickedness of the men and women He created, He also sees the best in us and renews His covenant with us through forgiveness and mercy. God is a god of second chances.
Do you need forgiveness in your life? Ask God to show you areas where you need forgiveness in your life. He longs to give us a second chance. Accept His mercy today.

December 2: Stars on a Night Sky
Read Genesis 12:1-7; 15:1-6
Abraham and Sarah were very old and still had no children. But God took Abraham out and had him look up at the night sky. From the plateau where they stood, Abraham could see thousands of stars. Those stars represented God’s promise to Abraham to make his family a great nation. Abraham could hold to that promise every night as he looked out at the dark, star-filled sky. Even when he didn’t understand how God was going to do it, he could hold to the promise. Abraham’s people did become the great nation of Israel; but even more, all who have accepted Christ have been brought into the household of faith of Abraham as well.
Is there a promise of God that you just can’t seem to grasp? One that seems impossible? Hold onto it! God is always true and His promises are sure! Pray for faith today as you wait on Him and His promises.

December 3: Ram
Read Genesis 22:1-19
A parent’s love. This is truly the strongest of all human loves. Abraham loved his son Isaac; through Isaac, God has promised to make Abraham lineage a great people. Abraham knew this. He treasured the boy. But how much? God tested Abraham’s priorities. He asked a horrific thing of Abraham. He asked him to take the boy up to the mountain and offer him as a sacrifice to God. Abraham must have been distraught, but he was obedient. Just as he lifted the knife to take the life of his son, God provided a ram caught in a thorn-filled thicket.
The ram in the thicket took the place of Isaac as the sacrifice that day. Many years later, God himself took the test that he gave to Abraham. Only this time, His son, Jesus, was the ram. With a crown of thorns on his head, Jesus became the sacrifice that took our place.
Where are your priorities? Are they aligned with God’s? Is there anything in your life that you would be unwilling to sacrifice if God asked that of you?
Reflect on this thought. Ask God to show you what priorities are out of line in your life. Then turn those over to Him today.

December 4: Ladder
Read Genesis 27:41-28:22
Jacob was sneaky, and as a result his brother was angry with him. To escape his brother’s wrath, Jacob left home to live with his uncle in a far away land. As he was sleeping one night on his journey, God appeared to him in a dream standing at the top of a ladder. After his dream, Jacob awoke and exclaimed, “Truly, the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it!” The miraculous ladder in his dream reunited the earth with the divine; it served as a promise to Jacob that God was with him and would bring him back to his homeland.
However, the ladder is also symbol of Jesus coming to earth. Through him, Heaven and earth were re-united. He bridged the gap between a perfect God and sinful man.
Praise God today for providing Jesus as the bridge (ladder) that covers the gap between God and man!

December 5: Sack of grain
Read Genesis 41:47-49
Joseph, the son of Jacob, was cast out by his brothers. He had been the favorite son of their father and they were jealous. Joseph then experiences one trial after another; but through each experience he remains faithful to God and acts with integrity in every circumstance. It seems that Joseph never complained through each difficulty, but he believed in God’s providence in his life. As a result, when a famine comes to the land, Joseph has enough food to feel all who are hungry, even his once jealous brothers, with sacks of grain that are bursting at the seams.
Do you pout when things don’t go your way? Maybe you blame others or get angry. If we approach each event in our lives knowing it is part of God’s plan for us, will we act differently?
What hardships are you facing right now? What things are you experiencing that you don’t understand? Tell God about them. Ask Him for grace to accept these circumstances and to learn from them.

December 6: Burning bush
Read Exodus 3:1-6
Moses was raised as an Egyption by the daughter of pharaoh; at age 20, he fled Egypt and went to the wilderness where he met his wife and lived with her family for another 20 years. Now around the age of 40, he is witness to God’s word when an angel of the Lord appears to him as a burning bush. He is then instructed to return to Egypt to lead God’s people to the Promised Land.
Sometimes God makes His presence known in the most surprising ways. But when He does, it is ALWAYS a holy experience. Moses’ first response when he heard his name called was to go looking for the caller. But once he realized it was God, he hid his face out of fear.
How do we approach a holy God when He calls us? Are we flippant? Or defiant? Or even ignorant? God wants us to seek Him when He calls us, but He also expects us to approach Him with reverence.
Come before God now, seeking His face with a spirit of reverence and obedience.

December 7: Doorpost with blood
Read Exodus 12:1-13
God instructed Moses and Aaron to slaughter a year-old male lamb for each household of the Israelites. There were then to smear the blood of the animal over the doorpost of each household. As a result when the Death Angel came through, he would “pass over” that house and the firstborn child would be spared. This was the beginning of the tradition of Passover and it also marked the exodus of the Isrealites out of slavery.
Just as the Isrealites were saved from the Death Angel by the blood of the lamb on the doorpost of their homes, we are saved from eternal death by the blood of the Lamb, Jesus Christ, which was smeared onto the wooden cross on Calvary. The Isrealites were not saved just by because they were Israelites though; they had to have faith and act on that faith by accepting the blood onto their homes. Likewise, we must accept Jesus’ death by bringing Him into our hearts. Just as the Passover marked the beginning of the exodus of the Isrealites from slavery, when we accept Jesus Christ as our personal savior, we begin our life of being free from the bondage of sin in our lives.
Spend time today reflecting on the blood of Jesus and how His death has rescued your from death and sin!

December 8: 10 Commandments
Read Exodus 20:1-21
God delivered the commandments to Moses on Mount Sinai and Moses brought the resulting tablets—and the commandments—back to His people. These commandments served as a guide to the Israelites. These commandments became known as the Law and were a way for them to find favor with God—through obedience and sacrifice—until the time Jesus came to earth. They served to show mankind how sinful he was. Since no one could keep the Law perfectly, they showed the need for a Redeemer.
What sins are you struggling with in your life today? Are there areas in your life that you just can’t seem to get control of? Ask God to intervene in your life. Confess your sins to Him and ask Him for grace to overcome.

December 9: Red rope
Read Joshua 2:1-21
Rahab was an unlikely person for God to use. But, that seems to be the way of God. When the spies of Israel went into Jericho to gather information before laying siege to the city, Rahab hid them from Jericho’s king. As a result, they promised that she and her family would be saved when the city was destroyed. In order to indicate which home was hers, she hung a red chord from the window. As a result, her life and the lives of her family were spared and they were brought into the Israeli camp. Later Rahab married an Israeli man and they had a son named Boaz.
The scarlet chord showed Rahab’s faith in the Israeli spies and their God to spare her life. If she had failed to hang the chord or if she had hung a chord of a different color, things would have turned out much differently; and she and her family would not have been saved. For us the scarlet chord is another Old Testament representation of Jesus Christ whose blood was shed to save us.
How is your faith today? Are you struggling with believing that God will save you? Are you unsure that He wants to use you?
Pray for Him to strengthen your faith. Then be obedient as His Spirit begins to work in your life!

December 10: Wheat
Read Ruth 1:16-19a; 2:1-13; 3:10-13
Ruth, a Moabitess and widow, returns to Bethlehem with her mother-in-law Naomi. They are poor and Naomi is old. Ruth, who loves her mother-in-law dearly, goes to the fields to winnow grain for bread. As she does, she finds favor with Boaz, a distant relative of Naomi’s. Ruth asks Boaz to help her and her mother-in-law; and he vows to do so. But he must first give a closer relative a chance. When this relative cannot, Boaz stays true to his promise. He marries Ruth; she and Naomi are redeemed. Ruth and Boaz had a son named Obed who was the grandfather of David from whose lineage Jesus was born.
Boaz is known as the kinsmen redeemer since he took in the widow of a relative. Jesus is our kinsmen redeemer. We are all children of God in the sense that He has created us. However, without a Redeemer, we have no hope. When Jesus came to earth as a man, He did so to redeem us. Thus, He is our Kinsmen Redeemer!
Praise God today for providing a Kinsmen Redeemer for us!

December 11: Pitcher
Read Judges 7:1-25
Gideon was the youngest of the least; that is, he was the youngest in his family and his family was from the least of the tribes of Israel. However, God chose to reveal his power through Gideon. First, God reduced the Israeli army from over 100,000 to only 300 soldiers. Then He gave Gideon specific instructions to defeat the Midianite army. They were to approach the town with their torches hidden under pitchers, then on command they smashed the pitchers. The resulting crash and sudden light scared the Midianites so that they turned on one another and began fighting among themselves. Gideon was an unlikely leader of Israel, but God used him to help His people cast aside their false gods and obey God’s true laws.
Maybe you feel unworthy to serve God. Maybe you feel that you are the least of all people. But, God has a plan for you! He wants to use you! He desires to make Himself known through your life! But whether He will or not, depends on you. Will you allow Him to use you?
Pray that God will use you. Ask Him to reveal any obstacles that stand in your way.

December 12: Crown
Read I Samuel 3:1-21
Samuel was given as a young child to the priest Eli to serve in the temple of God. As a young boy, God called to him repeatedly. When at last he recognized God’s call, he adhered to it without fail---for the rest of his life. As a result, God used Samuel to anoint the first kings of Israel; Samuel also proclaimed the coming of Christ the King, the eternal king who would have dominion over all earthly kings.
Ask God today to help you know His voice. Then commit to responding to that voice when you hear Him calling.

December 13: Shepherd’s crook
Read I Samuel 16:11-13
David was first a shepherd of livestock. He was the lowliest of all his brothers and his job was to keep watch over the flock of sheep. But when God called him to lead the nation of Israel, he became a shepherd of people to help them become what God wanted them to be. Jesus, too, is known as the greatest shepherd—the Good Shepherd. Just as a shepherd of livestock often has put his own life in danger to protect his flock, Jesus laid down his life to give us abundant life.
Pray a prayer of thanksgiving that Jesus willingly gave His life for you.

December 14: Altar of stone
Read I Kings 18:17-46
Elijah is called by God to dispel the myths of false gods that were increasingly being worshipped by the people of God. Elijah stood up against the people of his culture, including the king and queen. God proved, once again, that He is the God of gods. Elijah built a stone altar and consecrated it with fire showing the people the true light of God.
Be willing to stand up to your culture today. Make your life an altar of God; be consecrated with His fire in your life. Ask God to take care of you and to show Himself through your obedience to Him.

December 15: Whale
Read Jonah 1:15-2:10
Jonah, the errant prophet, had disobeyed God. As a result, God sent a great storm and a big fish to get Jonah’s attention. It worked. Jonah recognized his disobedience, confessed his disobedience, and turned to obedience.
Jonah, being in the belly of the big fish, is a symbol of Christ. When the sailors had thrown him overboard, they were certain he would die in the sea. Instead, God kept him alive in the belly of the fish three days and then had the fish spit him out. When Jesus was crucified and buried, those who witnessed thought he was dead and gone. Those who had worked so hard to be rid of Him were pleased with themselves. But God had another plan; three days later, Jesus rose from the dead---fully alive just as He is today.
Praise God today for His wonderful plan of salvation. And commit yourself to being obedient to His voice.

December 16: Tongs and hot ember
Read Isaiah 6:1-13; Isaiah 9:1-7
The prophet Isaiah is called to holiness, but he fears he is not worthy of revealing the living God. Isaiah sees angels around the throne of the Lord and one of them takes a hot ember from a fire with tongs and touches it against Isaiah’s lips. Isaiah is forgiven of his sins and is able to go forth and deliver the Word of God.
We, too, are called to a life of holiness. This does not mean a life of chants and humming. Holiness is living our lives in a way that pleases God. “Be holy because I am holy.” (I Pet 1:16)
Begin your prayer by thanking God for being sufficient for everything you will face today. Commit yourself to living in that sufficiency as a praise offering. Be sensitive to the Word of God; listen for His voice; look for His hand in your life. Pray today that God would bring you to a level of holiness. That He will show you areas of your life where you need to become like Him.

December 17: Tear (teary eye)
Read Jeremiah 1:4-10; 8:22-9:11
Jeremiah is known as the weeping prophet. He was exiled and the Lord spoke to him. Jeremiah describes God’s grief as an endless fountain of tears. This grief is due to the His people turning back to worshipping idols. Jeremiah had been called by God to tell the people to turn from their false worship back to worshipping Him alone. But the people refused to listen.
Is there anything in your life today that is keeping you from worshipping God whole-heartedly? Is there anything that is more important to today than living your life for Him?
Ask God to reveal things in your life that are coming between you and your worship of God.

December 18: Outline of Bethlehem
Read Micah 5:2-5
God keeps His work perfectly and completely. This is a promise concerning the birthplace of Jesus. Christ was not born by some chance or accident. God carefully planned and crafted the entire event even down to the place where Jesus would be born.
We can be encouraged because God keeps His promises. He works in ways that we do not always understand; but we can know that He is always absolutely true to His word and that the end result will always be exactly according to His plan.
Praise God today for being in control and having a plan for your life. If you are having any reservations about what He is doing in your life, admit that and turn it over to Him. Recommit yourself to His leading.

December 19: Heart (Representing Mary's servant's heart)
Read Luke 1:26-38
The angel Gabriel announces to Mary that she has been chosen to be the mother of our savior, Jesus. Mary’s response is that of disbelief at first; this seemed impossible to her. However, once Mary had the assurance and the promise that nothing was impossible with God, she willingly risked her reputation and accepted God’s calling on her life. Mary became God’s human instrument that was needed to cradle within her the Son of God.
Think about the commitment Mary expressed and all that she risked in order to glorify God at this point in her life. How can you bring glory to God today in the form of servanthood?
God found favor with Mary; maybe it was because of her devotion or her purity or her dependability. We don’t know exactly. A better question is, “Does God find favor with me?” We, too, have been chosen to accomplish something for the Kingdom of God. We must live our life in such a way that when God is ready to do a special work in and through us, we will be ready.
Pray today about the unfavorable characteristics in your heart today. Pray that you would be ready and that God would find favor with you when He needs you.

December 20: Seashell with water drops (historically, the symbol for John the Baptist)
Read Luke 1:39-56
Mary travels to visit her cousin Elisabeth, who has also conceived and is expecting her baby a few months before Mary. Elisabeth, however, is an older woman beyond the years of child-bearing; her conception, then, is also a miracle. When Mary arrives at Elisabeth’s home, the child in Elisabeth’s womb leaps for joy. Even before being born, John the Baptist, Elisabeth’s baby, knew and proclaimed the coming of Jesus, the Messiah.
Pray today that God would give you opportunity to share the Good News of his coming with someone you know…that you would be able to proclaim Jesus.

December 21: Tablet with “John” on it
Read Luke 1:57-80
When Elisabeth gave birth to a son, family and friends all expected he would be named after his father, the priest Zechariah. But Zechariah, who had been unable to speak since finding out they were going to have a baby, wrote on a tablet that the baby should be named John. Immediately, Zechariah’s voice came back and he praised God.
How do we use our voices? To worship and praise the God who has created us? Or to tear down and hurt those who are also created by God?
Pray today that God would help you to use your voice as a tool of worship, praise, and building others up.

December 22: Carpenter’s hammer
Read Matthew 1:19-25
Joseph trusted God that Mary had conceived a child through the Holy Spirit and would bear the Savior who would bring salvation to all. Without his obedience, there could have been a very different ending to the Christmas story. He had plenty of room for doubt and questioning, instead he simply obeyed. He must have had a heart that was tender toward God.
What if obedience replaced pride, fear, selfishness, and even laziness in our lives?
Ask God for the grace you need to be obedient---even when things don’t make sense or circumstances are difficult. Make a list of areas which the Holy Spirit shows you in which you need to be obedient.

December 23: Star of Bethlehem
Read Matthew 2:1-12
The three magi, guided by the light of a special star, look for Jesus. The star shines brightly above his birthplace. When they arrive, they humble themselves before the manger and worship him. Caesar has asked them to tell him where the baby is, but they do not do this. Instead after worshipping the baby Jesus, they turn and return home a different way.
Isn’t this the result of true worship? Once we have truly experienced the King of Kings, we no longer want to go our old ways—the way of hostility, materialism, resentment, selfishness, laziness, pettiness or fear. Seeing Jesus changes all that and the old path of our lives is no longer satisfying.
Is there a need to change the route of your life today? Come. Worship. Be changed.
Pray today that God will show you the direction you are heading in your life. Ask Him to give you clear insight regarding your spiritual compass (star); then make the change of course that you know is necessary.

December 24: Baby Jesus in a lowly manger
(Light the center, white candle--called “Christ’s Candle.)
Read Luke 2:1-15
God led Mary and Joseph to just the right spot at just the right time in order to fulfill the Old Testament prophecy. Christ Jesus is born and is laid in a lowly manger amidst the stable animals. Who are the first to see him? Shepherds and animals. God sent his angelic choir in all it’s majesty to proclaim the good news to the shepherds; then they are instructed to go and see for themselves, to show respect, and then to share the good news.
Shepherds and animals—simple and often smelly. But they were the ones God chose to be the first to see Jesus. Maybe God chose them because they were the only ones who were being still on the night Jesus was born. Maybe we need to be still and wait on God as well.
Pray today for those who have not heard the Good News of Jesus birth and for those who have not yet accepted Him.

December 25: Chi-Rho monogram
Read John 3:16 and John 1:34
Merry Christmas! Today’s symbol is the Chi-Rho monogram; it is a combination of the first two letters for the Greek word of Christos, or Christ.
Pray a prayer of thanksgiving today for all that Christ has done for you. Write out a commitment of what you will do for Him…not because you have to, but because you desire to show your gratitude.

(Jesse Tree and Advent devotions taken from many ideas off the internet.)

Friday, October 30, 2009

What is October 31st, really?

Is it:

a.) a fun-filled night in the US that originated from Druid superstitions and beliefs?
b.) the day before All Saint's Day, a day to celebrate the Saints who gave their lives in service to God?
c.) the day Martin Luther nailed his "95 Theses" to the Castle Church door, thus beginning the Reformation?

Well, actually it is all three. Did you know....

October 31st is the last day of the Celtic calendar and is known as Samhain, a pagan holiday celebrating the dead, and steeped in superstition. The ancient culture thought the dead souls roamed the villages at night. Gifts and treats were left out on Samhain to pacify the evil spirits. In addition, faces were carved into turnips to fool the roaming souls into thinking a spirit was already occupying that space and therefore protecting the house from any evil spirits.(Hence, the customs of trick or treating and jack-o-lanterns evolved.)

Later, the Catholic church set aside November 1 (the day after Samhain, October 31st) as All Saints Day. This is a day of remembrance of the men and women who lived their lives in service to God. November 1st was selected as a means to turn a pagan ritual into a Christian holiday in hopes of converting pagans and helping those who were newly converted.

Then in the early 1500's, after years of study, prayer, and searching the Scriptures, Martin Luther realized that some of the teachings and practices of the Catholic didn't follow Biblical teachings. He wrote his findings out (all 95 of them) and nailed them to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg on October 31, 1517. In that day, if someone wanted to debate an issue, they would post their debate on the door of the church. (It was like a message board for the townspeople.) He intentionally selected October 31, because he knew most of the people would be attending church services for All Saint's Day the following day. By challenging the practices of the Church, Luther was hoping for change within the church. However, his actions instead infuriated the church leaders and he was threatened with banishment and forced to stand trial. At the trial, he was asked to retract his findings. He replied by saying, ' Unless I can be convinced by the clear teachings of the Bible that I am wrong, I cannot and will not retract what I have written." Here I stand. I cannot do otherwise. God help me. Amen."

Because of Luther's standing up for the teachings of Scripture, his standing up to the false teachings of the Church, and the Church refusing to change their wrong practices, others began questioning the Church and examining the Scriptures themselves. This was the beginning of the Protestant Reformation (named for those who protested the teachings of the Catholic church).

So whether you choose to celebrate today by going trick or treating, enjoying a parade, or attending a party--if you are Christ-follower--take some time today to reflect on the impact of Martin Luther's life. As a Christian, this day should be more than just dressing the kids up and getting candy to eat. It should be a day of thanksgiving for the stand taken for religious freedom and Truth almost 500 years ago. Take some time today to think about it!

Monday, October 26, 2009

God's glory displayed

First, has it really been almost 6 weeks since my last post? Time has been flying by. School is keeping me so busy through the week and every weekend has been filled with much activity. I had to put on my soccer mom/football mom hat for those weeks, but now it is time to hang those hats back up. And now, I am hoping for a few weeks of calm and enjoyment before we burst into the holiday season. ;-)

But the real motivation for this post (now that my excuses have been stated).....

A few weeks ago, we were asked the question in Bible study, "What is your favorite season?" I don't have one. I LOVE them all. Living in the Midwest is such a blessing. About the time you get used to a season, it's time for a change. We have four distinct seasons here in Illinois...and the next one arrives in quite a contrast to the one before it. I really do love each season. But right now, at this time, I am thoroughly enjoying AUTUMN.

Last week on Wednesday, the kids and I went out for several hours and took pictures amongst the fall colors--beautiful red bushes, yellow trees, and green evergreens. It was a gorgeous day. (I was able to get some great shots and will hopefully get them posted soon.) Then on Friday, I had the opporutnity to drive up to Elsah and enjoy the colors of fall along the Mississippi. It was breathtaking and even the kids noticed the beauty of the trees.

However as beautiful as those scenes were, one surpasses them in my mind's eye. Is there anything more glorious than a sunrise on a fall morning? This morning as I was making the bed, I peered out the bedroom window to see the sun rising over the tops of the trees in the woods behind our house. The pinks and blues of the new-morning sky accented the oranges, yellows, reds, greens and browns of the trees. It was, it was magnificent.

My reason for loving AUTUMN is that it is such a visible reminder that God is creative and loves beauty. We were created by a God who doesn't live in a black and white world. Instead He created all the beautiful colors that we get to enjoy. His plan for the plants included this changing of the colors. Was this necessary? No. I'm sure the plants could have "gone to sleep" for the winter without their farewell display. But God in His wisdom made them to stop their production of chlorophyl which in turn causes the leaves to lose their greenness and results in the awesome variety of colors that we get to experience. Why??

I believe there are two reasons. The first is for Himself---for His glory and His enjoyment. Colossians 1:16 says, "For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible...all things were created by him and for him." To sum up that verse, He created everything and He created it for Himself...for him to enjoy and for it to glorify Him. The second reason is for US! He loves us. He gives us gifts we don't deserve because of His love for us. Nature is one of His gifts to us.

Be encouraged! As you look at the colors of nature this fall, let it be a reminder that God loves you. He wants you to enjoy His creation. It is His gift to us.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

School days, School days, Good ole' golden rule days....

Has it really been 5 weeks since my last blog post? Well really, I HAVE blogged. It's just that the blogs haven't made it from my head to my fingers.

When it comes to August, I hear most parents moaning, "Oh! I can't wait for school to start!" But not most homeschool moms. Instead, we are panicking, "Oh, no! School is about to start!" So, my August was spent making all the last-minute preparations that still needed to be made in order to begin another school year. And after spending my month gathering up curriculum and finalizing lesson plans, we officially started school...and ended summer...on August 31.

So, here we are. We have made it through our first two weeks! So far we are off to a great start. The kids have been working and studying diligently. They have approached our school days with willing and cooperative attitudes. For this I am grateful! It definitely makes our schooling better!

Elisabeth and Grant are studying American History this year (this is fast becoming MY favorite subject as I inch my way through the book, America, The Last Best Hope by William Bennett.) I LOVE reading about our country's history...and God's hand in it's formation! Elisabeth is studying Calculus and Grant Algebra! (Isn't math AWESOME!?!?!) Elisabeth has enthusiastically begun her Physics class and is already thinking about her final project for the year. Grant has begun his first year of foreign language; he is studying Spanish while Elisabeth is continuing Russian. Both older kids are also studying the Life of Christ this year...although from different texts...but this, too, will be so good. I hope we all learn so much from these studies.

Gavin is continuing his Kindergarten studies. We ended May being 2/3 of the way through; so we will finish up and then begin 1st grade later this fall/winter. He is doing really well this year...and I am too as I strive for patience with this boy. God is good and is giving me insight into Gavin and how to work with him. And I am so thankful for it.

And Elaine is being so cheerful and diligent as she tackles her school work! She is continuing in the reading program we began last year (; this program took her from an unenthusiastic reader to one who LOVES to read and reads daily on her own! She is studying Zoology for science this year and is completely loving it! She remains our animal lover so this text is perfect for her!

We've already had 2 field/park days to hang out with friends. This coming week, we actually have two field to the Symphony and one to Shaw Nature Reserve--with more outings planned over the next few months. And on Tuesdays we continue our "Afternoons at the Y."

In addition, this year, I am teaching a group class. It is a Physical Science class with thirteen 7-9th graders (including Grant). We had our first class on Tuesday of this past week and it made me realize how much I really enjoy being in the classroom. The students were so polite, well-behaved, and, I think, maybe, even a little nervous. Some of them have never been in a "class" before. But it was fun...and watching them perform their lab was neat, too.

So, we're off to another busy school year! And I love it!

"Father God, guide me this school year as I guide our children. Teach me as I teach them. Use me as Your vessel to pour out Your love to Elisabeth, Grant, Elaine, and Gavin."

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Vacation 2009

This is the book I created documenting our vacation in May 2009.

Monday, August 3, 2009

My husband....

Today Mark and I celebrated our 18th wedding anniversary. It's hard to believe we've been married for 18 years...I mean, aren't we just barely that old ourselves? We thought, back then, that we had it all figured out. We knew what we were doing and where we were headed. But God---via life---had different plans for us.

Mark and I only knew each other 6 months and 1 day when we married. I look back now and think that was crazy---and maybe it was. But it is has all worked out. Our first date was a blind date...we had dinner with some mutual friends (the ones who set us up), then we went to a political fundraiser, and met up with other mutual friends after that. That first date lasted 12 hours; it just felt comfortable. How do you explain that? I remember when Mark took me to his parent's house for the first time; his dad was so funny. He graded me--giving me an A+ (the next day, that is, when Mark asked them what they thought of me). My sister was the first in my family to meet Mark; she said he looked like Saddam Hussein. (Huh??? Well, it was 1991...but really.) I have often accused my mom of keeping me around just so they can see Mark. (I KNOW he is Mom's favorite...)

I am truly blessed by this man! The longer we are together, the more I realize that Mark's love for me is the closest love to God's perfect, unconditional love that I have ever known. He puts up with my moodiness--even when he isn't sure just what mood I'm in. He loves me completely and passionately. He rubs my back and my aching legs--even when he is exhausted and has to get up early for work the next morning. When he sees that I'm getting overwhelmed, he steps in and to help me out. He would do just about anything for me. He listens to me and all my crazy ideas; and he supports me in every endeavor I have set out on. He always encourages me to run that last 1/2 mile or to make it to the top of the steep hill.

This weekend, we took 24 hours and got away. We camped out at Carlyle Lake and went on a 20-mile bike ride. Now, we aren't campers, usually; but we had a great time. Times like these make me look forward to the days when it is just the two of us together. I hope we'll still be able to go biking together...and maybe cross-country skiing...and definitely hiking. It will be fun to cook dinner and do the dishes together...and work in the yard and maybe even garden. Oh, but those years are such a long time away....I will focus on living today (while I dream of tomorrow).

"Father God, thank you for providing for me through this wonderful man! I love Mark so much and am so grateful that you brought him into my life. I've done nothing to deserve him or the love he so freely gives. He loves me when I am the least lovable. He is a portrait of you in my life. When I look in his eyes and see how deep his love is, I am reminded of how much more you love me. I stand amazed! And oh, that I would love him to the depths that he deserves."

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Independence Day--Freedom and Patriotism

July 4--
A day of picnics, bar-b-ques, family, friends, and of course, fireworks! It is a day of festivities from small family gatherings to large community fairs. It is a day for many to celebrate while having the day off work. It is a vendor's dream as anything red, white and blue can be found for sale on corners across our nation--pins, pendants, necklaces, sunglasses, hats, boxershorts, home decor, tableware, and more.

But as we enjoyed this awesome, fun day, did we stop to think about how it came about? And what it cost those who earned it for us? And what God's role was in it all?

July 4, 1776
Our forefathers, although holding vastly differing opinions on many issues, came together and boldly signed the Declaration of Independence. They did so because the Colonists were not receiving representation in England's Parliament, and they were being unfairly taxed to pay for England's war debt. By signing their names to this document, they were risking their reputations, their property, and even their lives. This was risky business! Soon after, our War for Independence began, and the Colonists fought for and eventually won their freedom from England. It was not an easy war, if there is such a thing. The odds were against them, but I believe God was looking out for the Colonists and their Cause; I believe He had a purpose for this up-and-coming nation.

Nearly a hundred years after we achieved our independence, and as we found ourselves on the brink of civil war, Abraham Lincoln wrote to Congress in 1862, "We shall nobly save of meanly lose this last best hope of earth." America has since been the best hope of our world. The United States has become a world leader and protector of freedom for oppressed peoples worldwide.

America IS freedom--freedom of speech, freedom of enterprise, freedom of religion; this freedom is rare in our world; it is special. It needs to be protected!

As a people, we have a passion that other nations don't have---we call it Patriotism. It is more than nationalism. It is a pride, a willingness to help our fellowman, a recognition of God's protection over us. But patriotism is not enough! We need, as Ronald Reagan stated, "informed patriotism." Today, well-grounded, informed patriotism is not popular. Scholars are trying (and succeeding) to rewrite America's history. Pop culture has removed our sense of patriotism. Parents don't know our history and schools aren't teaching it. But we must remember our past and from whence we've come. If we forget our history, we won't know who we are (from Ronald Reagan's Presidential farewell address). When we forget who we are, we won't fight for our freedoms; they will be taken away from us!

May we never lose our patriotism, forget our history, nor lose our precious freedoms!

Happy Birthday Little Kazboy!

Gavin turned 6 on June 30th. It is hard to believe that just two years ago we celebrated his 4th birthday with him not understanding a thing that was going on much less very little of what we were saying. The past two years have shown so much growth on his part!

He is like a sponge, soaking up everything around him. Hardly anything gets past him. Right now, he is loving swimming. He is obsessed with policemen. And he still drives his "Mustang" everywhere.

We celebrated his birthday with family on Monday night last week, then we had 12 5- and 6-year olds over on Tuesday afternoon for a party. He was so excited he could barely sleep on Monday night and I believe he thought Tuesday morning was never going to end. He had a great time playing and swimming with his friends!

God has a plan for this little man. I'm not sure what it is, but I'm amazed at how far he has come.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


That's Kids Bible Kamp, hence "KBK" for short. This is NOT your average Vacation Bible School. Oh no! Quite the contrary!

Last week, we held another fun-filled week of KBK at Metro. Those four days are always so busy and crazy and tiring and FUN!

Really. Driving up the road, one would observe 27 small tents, two large tent-pavilions, sound systems jamming, porta-johns, water games, inflatables....and more than 500 kids and 200 workers. It is amazing! Each morning as I pulled into the parking lot, the sight of it all would bring tears to my eyes.

One of our favorite songs from KBK this year was "O Happy Day!" This became ironic as we faced less than perfect weather conditions each day. On Monday as the day began thunderstorms and hard rain also began. We were drenched "to the bone." But we didn't call parents; we didn't send kids home. KBK must go on!

Did the kids loose heart? No! Did the parents lose heart? No! They came back for more the second day! And Tuesday proved to be more of the same.....rain and thunderstorms. But we had fun anyway! We just took off our shoes and splashed through the puddles. I shouldn't fail to mention that the property is on old the dirt, well, is really fertilized. This makes for really green grass....but it also makes for really stinky mud! By Tuesday, the ground was completely saturated as we tromped through the muddy, stinky grass.

Day three was a completely different story. The sun came out and so did the heat. It was hot and humid....and still muddy! But the kids still came....even more on Wednesday!

WHY? Why did the kids keep coming? KBK is more than just a day camp for the parents to have a place to take their kids who are out of school for the summer. At KBK, we teach the kids about Jesus--his LOVE for us and how we should love others. It is FUN inspite of the heat or rain or thunderstorms or humidity! Really, who wouldn't love jumping on inflatables, eating snowcones, getting candy, playing fun games....all while learning about Jesus?!

This year, I worked with fifth graders; we were the BLUE group! Elisabeth worked with Kindergartners in purple and Grant sporting his pink t-shirt worked with 4-year olds while Elaine and Gavin enjoyed being participants. We left our home each day at 8:15 am and returned around 12:45. But it was so worth it!

At the end of the week, on Thursday, we had a "Splashtacular WaterDay!" Now to me, this is truly amazing, and I (again) fight back tears each year as the water fight draws near. It has become KBK tradition for local fire trucks to come out, for Pastor Paul to climb up on the fire truck and officially begin the water fight as the firetruck squirts water out onto the field full of children. The kids (and adults, as much if not more) begin squirting, dumping, spraying water on one another. NO ONE GOES HOME DRY!!!! (Except possibly those quiet observers and parents under the "dry tent" who don't venture out to get a closer look.)

KBK is the most tiring, yet fun, week of our entire year! And we do it so the kids can learn about Christ....and have fun while doing it!
Can't wait to do it again next year!!!!

Grant--cool even in pink

Elaine--our silly girl

Gavin squirts up at the firetruck

Elisabeth with friend, Graham

Monday, June 8, 2009

Frogs anyone??

During the first two weeks of May, every night from dusk to the time we fell asleep, we were serenaded by a frog out in our back yard. With the windows open, this frog's song drifted up into our windows quite loudly. This happened every night...just like clockwork. After a few days, it began to get unnerving especially as it dawned on me that the frog sounded like it was in the pool. With the winter cover still on the pool, I was concerned it would get underneath and die. I would go outside and try to see it, but never could because the pool cover is black.

Then we left for our 12-day vacation with no frogs to keep us awake at night.

The day after we returned from vacation, we began working on opening the pool. It didn't take long to realize that our singing frog must have actually been two singing frogs as our pool cover had atleast 200 tadpoles swimming around on top of it. (Elaine, of course, wanted to "save" them so we let her scoop out 20 or so and they are now swimming around in an aquarium on the deck.) So the frog story is completed. Right?

No. A few days ago, as Mark called us out to see an unusual looking gray frog that was perched on the underside of the grill cover which is also gray. Elaine scooped it up to examine it while Elisabeth and I came into the computer to look it up. We discovered that it was a gray tree frog and that it was also, more than likely, the mother of all of our tadpoles. We had Elaine take it to the woods in hopes that it would find a new place to call home.

But, last night as dusk set in, we began hearing our frog singing again. We all stopped and looked at one another as the singing was clearly coming from the pool deck. We went outside with the flashlight and found two frogs and one toad IN our pool. It was almost as if they were waiting for us to clean up and go inside so they could start their own party. Elaine and I scooped them up and carried them to the ditch out front near the road--again hoping they would find a new home.

However, it wasn't an hour later, and we heard two distinct frogs singing to one another just outside our back windows. Will this frog saga ever end?

Now honestly, I'm not opposed to sharing our pool with a few frogs. I rather like the sound of their singing--tree frogs don't croak like bullfrogs do, they actually make a higher-pitched trilling sound that is kind of fun to listen to. As long as the frogs swim at night and let us swim during the day, I'm okay with this. However, I do have a huge problem with two things: 1) finding dead, bloated frogs in the pool skimmer and 2) having hundreds of tadpoles hatching in my pool as a result of the frog parties.

So, since I don't believe the frogs can party responsibly in my pool, I am on a mission to relocate them. But that brings me to the next generation...the 20 tadpoles living on my back deck.......

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

On the Road Again

12 days.
6 people.
1 van.
3800 miles.

7 hotels.
11 tanks of gas.
11 picnic lunches.
Many, many, many bathroom breaks.

So many sites:
A building made of corn--Corn Palace, SD
Climbing and hiking on big, striped rock formations--the Badlands of SD
A sod house--SD
A mountain tribute to 4 great presidents--Mt. Rushmore
The beauties of a state park and animal refuge--Custer, SD
A rock tribute to an Indian chief--Crazy Horse
An old gold mine--Big Thunder Mt, SD
Hiking around a huge rock with an interesting story--Devil's Tower, WY
Snow-covered mountains climbing to an elevation of 11,000 feet--Beartooth Highway, MT
Geysers, fumaroles, lakes, waterfalls, springs, canyons--and the smell of sulphur--Yellowstone
Beautiful mountain views, waterfalls, and hikes--Teton NP and Rocky Mountain NP
Western shoot out and fun shopping--Jackson Hole, WY
Discipline and beauty--Air Force Academy, CO
Cowboy town with a chuckwagon dinner and cowboy show--Flying W Ranch, CO
Amazing red rocks jutting up out of the ground--Garden of the Gods, CO
Focus on the Family visitor center and children's play area--Colorado Springs, CO
Cograil ride to the top of Pike's Peak where it was snowing and 27 degrees F--Manitou Springs, CO

Several surprises, too:
Being stopped in a traffic jam caused by a herd of bison blocking the road
Eating the biggest burgers we've ever eaten at a fun little restaurant
Playing in a mountain spring while stopped for a picnic lunch
Watching real-life cowboys herd their cattle
Seeing a grizzly bear its breakfast of berries from across a river
Watching a moose on the lakeside from a footbridge
Skipping stones at lake in the Tetons
Getting to pan for gold--and finding some!
Feeding prairie dogs peanuts
Burrows sticking their heads in the car windows making Elisabeth cry ;-)
Watching a newborn elk and its mother
Seeing tons of elk, many bison, pronghorn, whitetail deer, a grizzly bear, a moose, yellow-bellied marmots, gold-headed blackbirds, magpies, prairie dogs, ground squirrels, mountain bluejays, ospreys nesting---all in the wild (not in a zoo)

Oh! And lest I forget---our biggest souvenir-----the dent and antler marks on the side of the van from a deer that ran into our car.... ($3500 damage)

Ahhh! You've got to love a road trip!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Brevity of Life...Celebration of Health

The last time I blogged, I was writing about having only 30 days to live. If I only had 30 days to live, what things would I change? Who would I make things right with? How would I spend my time?

When I planned my week out on Sunday, my Thursday included schooling the children, taking Grant to the orthodontist, going grocery shopping, and doing an Arbonne party. But plans are fleeting...

Today, I'm sitting in a hospital room next to my husband who just returned from having a cardiac catheterization.

It makes you think. Mark has done a lot of thinking---and little sleeping--the past two nights.

Are any of us ever ready to face our own immortality?

Death doesn't scare me. It really doesn't. I know the fate of my eternity. I have nothing to fear. But at the same time, dying is another story. Not knowing how it feels or what it is like scares me a little. The idea of leaving my children and family concerns me, especially the thought of leaving them unexpectedly--unplanned.

None of us are guaranteed anytime on this earth. We never know when "our time will come." We do know that we will all spend an eternity somewhere.

The good news for us today is that Mark is healthy. His heart is strong and his arteries are clear. We are thankful to have this news today. We will be heading home in just a bit; he'll be resting for a couple days; and we'll still go on our vacation next week.

Life as usual.

But will it be? We will enjoy the kids a little more, linger on the deck a little longer in the evening, hold hands a little more, chat with friends a bit more. I think we'll focus on our relationships and the people who matter to us.

No, not life as usual...but life better!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Only 30 Days to Live.....

If you had 30 days to live, what would you do?
What would you change?
Would you have any regrets?

How would you do life differently if you knew you only had 30 days to live?

Someday, I would like to white water raft on the Colorado River. I want to zipline through the rainforest. I want to visit Washington DC and see the Declaration of Independence that our forefathers wrote. I would like to go on an Alaskan cruise and see whales migrating. I'd like to go scuba diving in the Caribbean. I want to visit the Holy Lands and walk where Jesus walked. I'd like to see Yosemite National Park since we missed it the last time we went to California. I want to climb the Eiffel Tower with my love, my husband. I want to visit Niagara Falls because I absolutely love waterfalls. And maybe, I'd even like to swim with the dolphins in Florida.

However, if I only had 30 days to live, doing those things--the things I'd like to do someday--wouldn't matter to me. My focus would be on my husband and my children. I would spend time with my parents and my siblings. Anything I decided to do would focus on those people and giving them lasting memories to hold on to.

If I only had 30 days to live, I would want to share Jesus with my friends who don't follow Christ. I would want to make sure they knew about His perfect gift of Life and salvation.

And yet, how do I know I don't have only 30 days to live? In reality, I don't. And neither does anyone else. "Each man's life is but a breath." (Psalm 39:5)

Monday, April 13, 2009

My Superhero!

This morning, Gavin and I had a little discussion.

Gavin: " Hey Mom, do you know what? Jesus is just like a super hero, isn't he?"

Me (always perplexed at the deepness of his thoughts): "Hmmm. Yes. Why do you say that?"

Gavin: "Because He had all kinds of superpowers like healing people and coming back to life. He's just like a superhero!"

Me: "You're right! He IS the BEST superhero!"

Sunday, April 12, 2009

The Hardest Part

Jesus suffered great things during his last hours on this earth.

His character was attacked; He was falsely accused; He was labeled a liar and a blasphemer. He was blindfolded, spit upon and slapped. He was mocked and made fun of. He was then beaten mercilessly. His clothes were stripped off. He was scourged across His back with a leather whip that had bone and metal balls tied onto it. His skin was torn; his muscles were ripped apart. He was then mocked again--forced to wear a robe across His bleeding, raw back. A crown of thorns was placed upon His head and then pushed down into place until the thorns drove themselves into His scalp. He was humiliated.

He was then forced to carry the heavy wooden cross that was to be His final torture. He was treated as a criminal. Then He was placed on that cross. Spikes atleast 6" long were nailed through each of His wrists. His feet were overlapped and then another spike was driven through them. He then experienced the jolts as the cross was being lifted and driven into the ground.

The mockery continued and so did the humiliation. As the soldiers gambled for His seamless robe and others yelled insults up to Him.

He said nothing. He endured it all.

As bad as all that is, the most difficult part for Him to endure had to be the time when the skies turned black and God turned his back on His One and Only Son. For the first time since the beginning of time, Jesus experienced separation from God. He was alone in the world bearing the sin of all mankind. And God, who knows no sin, could not face His Son. For three hours the powers of darkness separated Jesus from His Father.

Hell is a place of complete separation from God. Jesus, the perfect Lamb of God, experienced Hell at that moment. Jesus, who had never sinned, took on the sin of us all and went through Hell for us.

That had to be the hardest part!

He Arose!

Although written in 1874 by Robert Lowry, the words to the song "He Arose" are ringing in my heart today. This is the most triumphant song of Jesus' resurrection that I know.

Pastor shared today that Christianity rises and falls on the resurrection of Jesus. I Corinthians 15 tells us that it is in the resurrection that we have our hope; and that without it, we are to be pitied more than all men.

I'm so glad today that Jesus DID rise up! That He didn't stay in the ground. And that the evidence to this truth is so great (even today, 2000 years later) that it really can't be refuted.

God, thank you for your wonderful plan of salvation!

He Arose

Low in the grave He lay, Jesus my Savior,
Waiting the coming day, Jesus my Lord!

Up from the grave He arose,
With a mighty triumph o'er His foes,
He arose a Victor from the dark domain,
And He lives forever, with His saints to reign.
He arose! He arose!
Hallelujah! Christ arose!

Vainly they watch His bed, Jesus my Savior;
Vainly they seal the dead, Jesus my Lord!

Up from the grave He arose,
With a mighty triumph o'er His foes,
He arose a Victor from the dark domain,
And He lives forever, with His saints to reign.
He arose! He arose!
Hallelujah! Christ arose!

Death cannot keep its prey, Jesus my Savior;
He tore the bars away, Jesus my Lord!

Up from the grave He arose,
With a mighty triumph o'er His foes,
He arose a Victor from the dark domain,
And He lives forever, with His saints to reign.
He arose! He arose!
Hallelujah! Christ arose!

"What shall I do with Jesus?" (one more Holy Week thought....)

This was the question Pilate asked of the angry mob. Pilate didn't want to sentence Jesus to death. But he didn't want to stand up to the mob either. He was a coward. First he tried to pacify the crowd by having Jesus scourged. When Jesus was returned to Pilate, He was almost recognizable because He had been beaten so badly. Pilate called out to the people, "Look at the Man!" And the mob shouted, "Crucify Him!" They threatened Pilate that if He didn't sentence Jesus to death that they would report him to Caesar saying Pilate was serving another "king."

Pilate like his life as governor too much. He liked the lime-light. He liked the money and prestige. So, he asked the crowd, "What shall I do with Jesus?" and he turned and washed his hands in a basin of water proclaiming that he would be innocent of Jesus' death."

Today, two thousand years later, many people are still asking, "What shall I do with Jesus?"

So, what will YOU do with Jesus?

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Judas Iscariot (another Holy Week thought...)

How is it that someone could live so closely to Jesus the Christ for over three years--hearing every word He taught, seeing every miracle He performed, being with Him day in and day out--and still turn their back on Him?

Judas did.

But again, I see that we aren't that much different from the disciples.

Isn't it perfectly possible for someone to attend church every week, to memorize Scriptures, to be kind and good, to outwardly pray, to always seek to be fair, and still not belong to the Lord?

Yes, it is.

"Father, when you look in my heart today, I pray you don't see a Judas. I desire to follow you--not because of what it looks like or to impress others--but to follow you because it pleases you."

Hematidrosis and an angel (more thoughts from Holy Week...)

Jesus was facing what He came to earth to do; He was just about to complete His mission, His purpose. But He didn't just plunge ahead without thinking. He said, "My soul is crushed with sorrow" at the thought of what lay ahead of Him. He asked the Father if there was any other way to save mankind from their sins. And then He accepted the Father's will saying "I want Your will, not Mine, to be done." He prayed this prayer three different times that night to His Father. He prayed so earnestly and with such a broken heart, that His sweat fell to the ground like drops of blood. when blood mixes with sweat and drips out one's sweat glands; it occurs "when a person is suffering extreme levels of stress, for example, facing his or her own death." It is often seen in soldiers facing battle or in criminals who are facing the death penalty (see Wikipedia article). When Luke described this in Luke 22:44, he was not simply drawing a word picture for us. Luke was a physician so it is fitting that he would make not of this rare medical condition that Jesus experienced.

Jesus really was suffering! The events that He was preparing Himself for would change the world. His pain was greater far than anything that we could ever imagine. What did He do? He prayed to the Father!! And what did God do? He sent an angel from Heaven to strengthen Christ.

Our Father in Heaven really does care! He is NOT a stoic God sitting there casting judgment. He wants to comfort us. He wants to strengthen us! HE LOVES US!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Washing feet (thoughts from Holy Week continue...)

After sharing the Passover meal with his disciples, Jesus did something that surprised and even shocked His disciples. The Bible says He got up from the supper, laid aside his outer garments, took a towel and basin, and began to wash the disciples feet. Since people of the day either wore sandals or went barefoot, their feet got pretty dirty as they walked along the dusty roads. Normally, a servant would be at the front door to wash the dirt from the feet of the guests; this was a common courtesy just like we might offer to take the coat and hat of guests in our home today. In all reality, one of the members of the group should have done this when they first arrived, but evidently none of them was willing to do so. Now, their Master was before them doing this lowliest of duties.

Now, I grew up in a church where we practiced feet washing. Yes, you read correctly. Just like Jesus--except, thankfully, we didn't take off our outer garments. Usually on the evening of Palm Sunday, we would partake in the Lord's Supper; afterwards we would divide up, women in one room and men in another. There we would sing songs, give testimony of God's grace and love, and then pair up and wash one anothers feet. No, I don't mean with soap and washcloths. One person would kneel in front of the other, pour water with her hands over the other's feet, then dry them with a towel. While it was always a little awkward at first, that time of worship would always end in tears and hugs and oftentimes healing between those who may have harbored hurt feelings. It was humbling to wash someones feet, but it was just as humbling to have your feet washed. Honestly, it was a beautiful experience!

Well, Jesus continued around the room washing the feet of each of his friends, who I am sure were befuddled by His actions. But the Bible doesn't record any discussion until Jesus came to Peter; at which time Peter protested that Jesus shouldn't be washing His feet. Jesus replied, "If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me." Peter (good ole Peter) then proclaimed, "Lord, then wash not only my feet, but my hands and my face." In other words, he said, "Jesus, bathe all of me!"

Jesus' reply is amazing to me. I don't recall noticing it before this year although I know I have read it and taught it to my children several times in the past. Jesus said, "He who has bathed needs only to wash his feet to be completely clean."

I love this! If we have accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior of our lives, then we are cleansed of our sins. It is as if we have been bathed by Christ; we are whiter than snow! But as we go through the daily grind of life, we aren't perfect. We can't be; we sin everyday. Isn't it true? We get mad, are unkind, act selfishly, become impatient. These are sins. And when sin stays in our lives, we can't have fellowship with God. It is as if our feet are dirty. By telling Peter that he only needed his feet cleansed, Jesus was saying that we don't "lose our salvation" when we sin; we don't cease to be a child of God because of our sin. When a Christ-follower sins and fails--in thought, word, or deed--he just needs to have his feet washed. That is, he needs to seek God's forgiveness in order to continue in fellowship with God. Isn't God awesome?!

"Father, Your ways are wonderful and complete. Thank you for cleansing my heart from the sin that kept me separated from You. Thank you for Your forgiveness that is always there when I seek it. I'm thankful today that You don't turn your back on me when I fail you."

Being the greatest? (Holy Week thoughts continued...)

Jesus and his disciples went to the upper room to have their Passover meal. As they did, some of the disciples were arguing over who would be the greatest in His Kingdom--who would have the highest rank. They wanted to be first and great in the eyes of the people; they wanted to be the ones barking out the orders and being the "big boss".

It is easy to criticize the disciples, isn't it? I mean, didn't they realize what Jesus was about to do? Well, actually no, they didn't In spite of all the "hints" He had given them, they were pretty much clueless. I'm not even sure they noticed His demeanor as they began the meal--that He was more sober and contemplative than usual. Although they had followed Him, observed all the great things He had done, and observed His words for over three years, they still didn't fully understand who He was and what He was doing. Amazing!

But, are we so much different today from those disciples? How often do we find our selfish thoughts and wishes taking over our minds? How often do we (albeit secretly) find ourselves wishing to be the top dog? Don't we often wish it was us giving out the orders instead of having to follow them? And don't we so often long to be noticed by other people and desire for them to notice us? Yes! I believe we are much like these disciples of Jesus.

What was Jesus' reply to them? Of course, He acknowledged that the kings of the earth are looked upon with great regard and have servants to do their bidding. But He then said that it is not that way with Him. Instead He said, that those who want to be the greatest with Him must become the least; that the leader must become the servant.

Isn't that just the opposite of what the disciples were thinking? Isn't that just the way WE think? But then, the Bible does tell us that God's ways are not our ways and His thoughts are not our thoughts. He has an upsidedown way of doing things!

In order to become great, we must serve! Who am I serving today? Who are you?

We are best used by God when we are serving others!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Let Me be a Donkey! (Holy Week thoughts continue...)

The Sunday that we recognize as Palm Sunday comes from Jesus' Triumphal entry into Jerusalem where He rode into town on a donkey and people laid down their coats and palm branches as He passed by. Jesus didn't own this donkey though. From where did it come?

Jesus was just outside the city and sent a couple disciples into the village. He told them they would find a young donkey colt tied up. He instructed them to untie it and bring it to Him. If they were asked what they were doing, they were to say that the Master needed the donkey and He would return it. So they did just as Jesus told them and everything was just as He said it would be. When they returned with the colt, Jesus sat upon it and road into town.

As I was reading this the other day, I was stunned by the reality of this story. It was a donkey, a lowly animal, that brought the King of Kings into the town. It wasn't a regal white Arabian that had been born of thoroughbred parents. Jesus didn't choose a lumbering elephant or even a lion--the king of the jungle. He chose a lowly donkey. Jesus chose the simple--the unexpected. I'm so glad He did.

Isn't it awesome that He still chooses the simple, the plain, the ordinary? He wants to use us if we will give ourselves to Him

In addition, the donkey was a young colt. It had NEVER been ridden. It wasn't yet broke. Yet when it was brought to Jesus, it allowed Him to ride. This is contrary to the nature of a donkey, I am told. Normally, the colt would have acted wildly and tried to buck its rider. Donkeys are known for their stubbornness. Yet, this donkey willingly allowed Jesus to ride him. Jesus tamed and controlled the donkey--it was calm, obedient and gentle as Jesus rode upon it.

Now what about me? Sometimes I am so stubborn. So willful. So determined to go my own way and do my own things. Sometimes my temper gets out of control. My prayer today is that I would be willing to be tamed--willing to be calm, gentle and obedient--just as the donkey colt that carried Jesus on His triumphal entry into Jerusalem.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Bread and Water for Me, Please!

Let's say your spouse wants to surprise you with a special dinner out at the fanciest restaurant you've ever been to. Can you imagine what the response would be when the waiter came by to take your order if you said, "I'll have a glass of water and some bread." I'm sure the waiter would be dumbfounded and your spouse would be incredibly embarrassed.

But today, I want to order Bread and Water, please!

In John 4, Jesus is resting when a Samaritan woman stopped by to fill her jugs at the well. Jesus, being thirsty but having no utensils, asks her for a drink. She is shocked that He would even speak to her since He is a Jew and she is a Samaritan--people who were despised by the Jews--and she likewise, questions him about his request. After a few exchanges, Jesus says: "...whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life." (v8)

That's the Water I want. And, as a Christ-follower, that is exactly the Water that is promised to me. I have a well of water springing up in my soul that provides me with eternal life. A Water that quenches my every thirst if I will but drink of it when I'm thirsty--when I'm tired, stressed, overwhelmed, and unsure. Christ is my Well of Life!

In John 6, some people have gathered around Jesus and are talking about how God provided their forefathers with manna from Heaven. Jesus doesn't miss a beat with them. He says, "I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger...everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life." (v. 35, 40)

Bread that gives eternal life! Bread that fills my spiritual hunger! Now that has to be the best bread recipe ever created! No more sour dough for me!

Please pass the Bread and Water!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Too Deep for Words

Emotionally drained.
In a haze.
The funeral is over.

It was a beautiful funeral. We found such Scriptures like Prov. 31 (describing the Godly woman) and Gal 5:22-23 (the fruit of the spirit) to be descriptive of Yoko's life. We heard so many stories of how she touched lives. While I know God was with my mother-in-law during her death, and I know that He has been with us since her death--comforting and supporting us, the loss is still hard.

Last night, my Scripture reading was a passage that I have read so many times and even quoted to others through the years. However, this time, the words of one of the verses jumped off the page to me:
"In the same way, the Holy Spirit helps us when we are weak. We don't know what we should pray for. But the Spirit himself prays for us. He prays with groans too deep for words." Romans 8:26

Yes, I am feeling so weak emotionally. I don't know how to pray. But I am comforted because I KNOW that the Holy Spirit prays for me in times like this. And when He prays to the Father it is in a manner that is TOO DEEP FOR WORDS. Just like God's mercy and grace, He goes above and beyond what I could ask or hope for...He even goes beyond what I can pray for!

"Praise You in This Storm"
(words by Mark Hall/music by Mark Hall and Bernie Herms)

"I was sure by now, God, that You would have reached down
and wiped our tears away,
stepped in and saved the day.
But once again, I say amen
and it's still raining
as the thunder rolls
I barely hear You whisper through the rain,
"I'm with you"
and as Your mercy falls
I raise my hands
and praise the God who gives and takes away.

And I'll praise you in this storm
and I will lift my hands
for You are who You are
no matter where I am
and every tear I've cried
You hold in your hand
You never left my side
and though my heart is torn
I will praise You in this storm

I remember when I stumbled in the wind
You heard my cry to You
and raised me up again
my strength is almost gone
how can I carry on if I can't find You
and as the thunder rolls
I barely hear You whisper through the rain
"I'm with you"
and as Your mercy falls
I raise my hands and praise
the God who gives and takes away."

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Tribute to a beautiful woman--Yoshiko Nakamine McWhorter

Nearly forty-six years ago, a beautiful, little Okinawan woman stepped off an airplane to begin her life in America. She was wearing a lovely sheath dress, white gloves on her tiny hands, and heels which made her petite stature appear as big as she was inside. She was the picture of grace inspite of the 24-hours of travel she endured alone to arrive. Yoshiko Nakamine had just married Jack McWhorter, a young American marine; she left behind her family and all she knew and held dear to begin a new life in a new country with her new husband.

Upon arriving, she was embraced by Jack's Scotch-Irish clan--a very close-knit family. Jack's mother, Mildred, took her in as one of her own, never distinguishing between Yoko and her own daughters--she was, after all, a McWhorter now and a McWhorter she would remain. Mildred taught Yoko so much--she took her to church where she learned of the love of Jesus, she taught her how to bake, she became her closest friend. Jack's sisters and brothers treated her with such care and love that she was never considered anything but family.

Jack's work often kept him away for a few days at a time. Yet, Yoko was never alone. Jack's brothers would help out anytime she needed them. And Jack never knew what he would come home to--one time it was new landscaping, another time a new pet, and even one time it was a whole new house. If Yoko ever had a need, the family was there to help her.

She was also blessed in that she found a community of Japanese/Okinawan women here in Granite City. These were other women who had married and come here to live as well. These women provided a place where Yoko could just be "Japanese"--where she could speak her language and eat her favorite foods with women from her culture. If ever she met a young Japanese woman, she invited her to join the group---she remembered what it was like to leave her homeland and family behind.

It was easy to love Yoko. I have to wonder if anyone ever met her who didn't just love her. She always looked at the positive side of everything. She believed with all her heart that God would take care of those He loved. She always had an anecdote for any situation. She always looked for "a sign" that showed God was a part of whatever was happening. She was gentler than any other person I've ever known.

I remember the day Mark and I left for our honeymoon; Mark asked her what she wanted us to bring back for her. Without hesitation, and with a straight face, she replied, "A baby." She did that a reply you weren't expecting, but saying it so matter-of-factly you had to think twice to make sure you heard what she said. She'd make you laugh with her quick replies. And other times, she'd give you a look and just nod her head...and you knew what she was thinking.

Yoko definitely loved children! All children. I never saw her prouder than the days she would sit and hold her new grandbabies. Elisabeth was her first grandchild and the evening Elisabeth was born, Yoko stood outside the nursery silently gazing in awe at our tiny new baby. Her grandchildren---all 6 of them---loved her too!!! A trip to Grandma Yoko's house meant fried rice, Snicker bars, Grandma Yoko buns with honey, and (quite frankly) anything else they wanted. She didn't believe in telling them no and she hated seeing any of them upset.

Yoko was my mother-in-law. We had a few differences, and sometimes it was difficult to communicate because of the language difference, but I respected her completely and with my whole heart. She loved me with the same love she had been shown by her mother-in-law; she never differentiated between me or Emily, her own daughter. She always encouraged me and supported me in everything. She offered advice on parenting my children, but she never pushed her advice onto me.

Yes, Yoko taught me much about love. One time, when I was pretty frustrated with Mark, I asked her, "Yoko, how do you put up with these McWhorter men?" We were in her kitchen washing dishes; and without hesitating, she simply said, "It's love, Shannon. You just have to love." I've pondered her response over the years. I knew what she meant then and I know it still today. She was telling me that love is a commitment. (If you are committed to someone, you can "put up with" them.) She was committed to Jack; whatever Jack wanted was fine with her. Oh, there were times when she would have chosen something different, but she knew it was what Jack wanted. The beauty in this is that Jack was just as committed to her as she was to him. They didn't grow apart as they grew older, in fact just the opposite was true. Over the years, I watched their love and commitment to each other deepen as they grew older.

On Thursday, March 19, 2009, Yoko left on another journey. As she did 46 years ago, again she left her home, her family, and everything she held dear. Again she left to go to a new home in a new country; but this time she left to go to her eternal home in Heaven. Her last few months on this earth were full of struggles, but in the end she died peacefully. She is gracing Heaven now with her gentle spirit and anecdotes. And I have to wonder if she is making Jesus laugh with her wit and quick replies.

You did your best, Yoko. Your legacy of love, joy and gentleness will live on as we continue to do ours.

Monday, March 16, 2009

My little big girl. Can she really be 15?

My life changed dramatically on March 15, 1994. That is the day Elisabeth was born. I had read all the books that everyone was reading at that time and thought I was completely ready for this new life to enter our family. We headed to the hospital that morning; it was Mark's 30th birthday. And just under 9 hours later, our baby girl was born. It was 6:53 in the evening. She was so tiny...5 lbs 15 oz and only 18 inches long. She had the tiniest round head that was covered with thick black hair. She was precious and perfect!

I wanted her with me the entire time. I didn't want the nurses to take her to the nursery. And called for her if they kept her too long. I woke in the middle of the night and walked down to check on her. There she was...the nurses had tied a little pink bow in her hair. MY baby!

She has always been a tiny girl. Always on the serious side. And always gentle. Sometimes she is hard to read. Sometimes, even as a little girl, she hides her emotions. But she is a WONDERFUL daughter. She has brought me such joy.
Yesterday, since Mark has gone to Mexico, I surprised her with a party with some of her friends. She would never have invited the kids over I'm glad I did it. They all came over after church, ate pizza, played football in the back yard, and then had cake and ice cream in the living room. Just hanging out. The kids all headed home and she headed to Fusion (youth group). But last night, as I sat on her bed before tucking her in, I soaked up her chattering about the day's events. Talking about her friends and how great they all are. Chatting about why some kids don't see "right from wrong." Discussing how our actions (what we do, where we go, what we read) really do show our beliefs and attitudes--and who we are inside. I finally had to cut her off as midnight was drawing close. I think she would have talked all night--and the caffeine she had drunk earlier was partly to blame.

I am so blessed to call her my daughter. What a wonderful girl. Right after she was born, I realized that instead of "knowing it all," I knew very little. In fact, most days I feel inadequate to be a mom. Yet by God's grace, He has used me--inspite of my inadequacies--to raise this beautiful, wonderful, smart young woman.

Thank you, God, for the gift of Elisabeth!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Two kinds of grief....

I've been trying to write this post for several days now. The words have been swimming in my head, but I haven't been able to communicate them clearly.

The death of Pastor Fred Winters last Sunday was such a shock. It sent a wave of emotion through our community. It hit the national news within hours and has continued on the local news all week. His church, First Baptist of Maryville, has shown incredible strength through this ordeal. I am amazed. Pastor Fred was no doubt a man of God. A man of integrity. A man who loved life and loved people. A man who wanted to see people come to know Christ. Those who have shared have testified of these things. We've listened all week. I was acquainted with Pastor Fred; many were. We are grieving.

On Tuesday, I realized I was angry. It surprised me. But there it was. I had started hearing things about the attacker....mentally ill is what they were saying. I think that is what made me angry. Of course he was mentally ill. How could he not be? Not to mention, if he was so "sick" why did he have access to guns? Don't get me wrong. I know that God is in control. I know that God could have stopped the attack. I know that God makes good out of what we see as evil. And I know that His ways are not our ways. But as sure as my head knows all this, my heart was struggling with the "why's."

God IS good. He knows when we are hurting.

Tuesday night, as I spoke with a friend, she turned the conversation to the murder. She is friends with the mother of the attacker. She was telling me how badly the mother is hurting. As she continued, I found the anger growing inside me. I told her that while I heard what she was saying, I wasn't in a place to really listen. Instead of saying, "Okay, I understand," her reply was, "Let me tell you some things that may help you with mercy and grace."

So I listened.

As she talked, she told me of a teenager named Terry who ten years ago suddenly became ill. He got lost driving to school one day and didn't know who he was. His teachers suspected drug usage, but he tested clean. He began psychological evaluations and was diagnosed with schizophrenia. He began intense drug therapy; but nothing helped....He slipped into a coma. At the hospital, one doctor saw something familiar in the young man's case and suggested he be tested for Lyme Disease. He was and tested positive; treatment began immediately. The next day, he awoke from the coma. But the damage to his brain was severe with lesions throughout. He would never recover. He would never live a normal life.

My friend went on to tell me that when she first met Terry she thought he had autism. She said he paced continually back and forth and he grunted to himself as if in his own world. It wasn't until later that she learned about the Lyme Disease. He is a tormented man.

Then she began telling me told me about the young man's mother. One day she was the mother of a normal, happy teenager; the next day her life was turned upside down. She has fought for 10 years to get treatments for her son in hopes of having him "normal" again. She has spent months in Florida with him getting specialized treatments which cost their family dearly. She had to sell the family business to pay for these treatments. She is a mom who would give her life for her son. And yet she finds herself in this shameful position---the mother of a murderer.

And my heart began to break for this mother, and my anger began to dissipate. God knew I needed that conversation that night.

On Thursday I spoke with another friend who attends First Baptist of Maryville. Pastor Fred was very dear to her family. As we spoke, she talked about two kinds of grief. She reminded me that what we are experiencing is "clean grief." However, the family of the gunman are experiencing a different grief altogether--it is a messy, guilt-laden, devastating, and confused grief.

We must pray for them.

Monday, March 9, 2009

A Reading Lesson

Gavin is learning to read. He's gotten to the point where he notices letters and signs while we're out and tries to read them. The other day, he was sitting in the car next to Elisabeth who was reading Jane Austen's Emma; he was looking over her shoulder and suddenly proclaimed, "Mom, I see lots of "the's!" (We had worked for quite awhile the previous day on learning "the" as a sight word.)
Yesterday, on our way home from church, we passed a QT gas station. This time he yelled out, "Hey that is a "KWUT" station!" (QT pronounced phonetically sounds like "kwut.") Of course, we all started laughing which made him even prouder of his reading accomplishment.

Anyone want to go to the KWUT station for a soda?

Sunday, March 8, 2009

In shock

This morning, we attended church as we do every weekend. Our pastor always delivers a great message and our band always leads great music (REALLY great, actually). Today was no exception.

Then something unusual happened. As I walked out of the service to serve in Guest Services, a friend stopped me and said that the pastor of a neighboring church had been murdered while he was preaching. The church is 1st Baptist Church of Maryville (Illinois); the pastor was Fred Winters. We knew Pastor Fred. Our kids played violin together; the girls played soccer on the same teams. He was a wonderful man of God; we had several conversations about missions and the Bible. He has a wife, Cindy, and two daughters. They were a beautiful family. Pastor Fred and our pastor, Pastor Paul, were good friends. Although preaching at the two biggest churches in our area, they were never in "competition" with one another. Instead, they supported one another, prayed for one another, and encouraged one another on a personal level.

Here was a man of God who had come to this area 20 years ago to a church with only a handful of members. Through God's leading and vision, the church grew to over 1500 members with 2000 people attending services each week. He loved his wife and children. He was a Bible scholar. He led the church by example.

It is a shock. Why did this have to happen? Why?

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Approaching the throne

As I continue my Lenten Scripture Readings, I came back to Hebrews 4 this evening. I LOVE the end of this chapter: " 16 So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most."

At lunchtime today, I was reading a story to the kids about a boy who went before the Emperor of Japan. Here was the protocol that had to be followed for approaching the royal throne: anyone who approaced had to do so on hands and knees, declaring themselves unworthy, and tapping their head on the floor as they approached. To not follow this protocol meant death to the violator.

And yet, this is completely the opposite of how we--Christ-followers--can approach the throne of God. We don't come with a spirit of unworthiness (although we truly are unworthy). No! We come with boldness! Boldness because Christ is our High Priest, because he "has passed through the heavens" (v. 14) And what do we find when we get there? We don't find a harsh, intimidating judge waiting for us at the throne. Instead, we find MERCY and GRACE!

Along time ago I learned the difference between mercy and grace; and it has always stuck with me. Mercy is "not receiving what I do deserve" (as in a punishment for my sins) and grace is "receiving that which I do not deserve" (forgiveness of my sins). And this is exactly what we find at God's throne when we boldly approach it. He is there to wipe away our sin record and to not give us the eternal punishment that we deserve for that sin. In addition, Hebrews 4:16 ends with a bonus phrase: "to help us when we need it most." It's not just grace that we receive at His throne...but grace when we need it most.

I'm so glad we have a high priest in Jesus; that he knows our trials and temptations because He experienced them himself. I'm glad we can have the confidence in what we believe because He "passed through the heavens." And finally, I'm so grateful that we do not have to approach His throne with fear and trembling; but instead, we can boldly come to His throne knowing that His mercy and grace are always there--especially when we need it most!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Cleaning the Temple

John 2:13-22 tells the story of Jesus going to the temple for Passover; when He arrived He found "those who were selling oxen and sheep and doves, and money changers seated at their tables." He was angry! This was His Father's house and they were making it a place of business--a place for them to prosper--not a place of honoring and worshipping God. Verse 15 says Jesus made a "scourge of cords" (a whip) and drove them all out, then he poured out their money and overturned their tables. He cleansed the temple that day!

My thoughts as I read this passage yesterday were wondering what Jesus sees when He looks at the temple of my heart. After all, if we are Christ-followers, our bodies are His temple. When He looks at me, have I allowed the money changers to come in and take over my life? Is my heart--my desires--filled with only those things that seek my own prosperity?

And when I do allow those things to take over my heart, does it make Him as angry as He was at the Jewish money changers? Does it make Him want to whip me and overthrow my tables? Of course, the New Testament says the Lord disciplines those He loves. So, if He does, isn't it only because of His Great Love for me?

"Father God, you are the most perfect parent. You love me even when I am unlovable. You love me even when I allow the "moneychangers to set up shop" in my heart. Forgive me for failing. Thank you for loving me enough to discipline me. Thank you for running out the moneychangers and the animals. Thank you for cleansing my temple. In your most holy name, Amen."

Monday, March 2, 2009

My title bar photo

Several people have asked about the photo I have on my title bar.

Yes, I really did take it myself.

Mark and I visited Washington State in September (2008). We took this photo of the Columbia River Gorge from a place called Chaunticleer's Point which is actually in Oregon (on our way up into Washington). It was very breathtaking and this is one of my favorite photos of the trip.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

I HAD to share this quote....

“It’s interesting that Obama’s adorers in the press keep comparing him to Lincoln and Reagan. Apparently they can’t think of a Democrat president worthy of being compared to,” Ann Coulter at the Conservative Political Action Conference this weekend.

I personally am getting tired of hearing this president who has done NOTHING to his credit being compared to two of the best presidents in our nation's history. As usual, Ann says it with style!

Saturday, February 28, 2009

The old woman....

I overheard a man talking at Grant's hockey game the other night about his "old woman."

"There was an old woman who lived in a shoe, she had so many children she didn't know what to do..." (I can relate to this old gal!)

In the Bible, Titus 2:3-5 talks about the older women and the younger women: "Guide older women into lives of reverence so they end up as neither gossips nor drunks, but models of goodness. By looking at them, the younger women will know how to love their husbands and children, be virtuous and pure, keep a good house, be good wives. We don't want anyone looking down on God's Message because of their behavior."

And it hit me....I AM THE OLDER WOMAN!!! (I'm not sure when this happened or even how, but it is true!) I have to I living a life of reverence not gossiping (or being drunk)? Am I a model of goodness? Even more importantly, am I being an example to the younger women on how to love their husbands and children? Can the younger women learn to be virtuous and pure from me? Can they see how to keep a good house and be a good wife?

That is a tough act to follow. But it is exactly what the Bible tells us old women that we are to be aware of. I definitely don't want anyone looking down on God's Message because of my poor behavior.

"Father God, your love and goodness and purity are so awesome; help me to be a witness to Your character. Show me how to love my husband and children the way You love them. May my house be kept in such a way as to reflect you. Daily remind me of the responsibility I have to the younger women around me. I ask all this in Your Holy name. Amen."