Category Archives: Faith

A Responsive Reading

There are those who spend hours huddled
over bibles stirring as if they were cauldrons
filled with gallons of steaming condemnation
drinking from a fountain of self righteousness

There are those who wrap themselves in corsets
containing and prohibiting any human love
freezing out those not deemed suitable
walking two steps ahead of the lowly and unworthy

There are those who scratch words and prayers
on paper that bleed and they suffer oh how they suffer
for their Jesus. P.R. Men for God, the only ones
with hotline to heaven, key to the executive bathroom

There are those who are confused and tired
poor and hopeful, lost and broken, held in God’s hand
with a gentle touch, washed and whispered to
needing, fed, welcomed home, covered by grace

Early Morning Track Ponderings

One Word this week was track

I try to go to a local walking track at least three days a week. I go at 7 and the Texas summer is telling me I may need to go earlier.  I started this morning with Spirit In The Sky playing in my ears, setting the beat, the cadence as I move around the track even though muscles are complaining.  Thinking about spirit. The human spirit.

A minute isn’t long enough for two miles of thinking.  I have to come back and revisit this.

Okay, where was I.  Spirit In The Sky, warm day.  I’m walking along, swinging my arms.  Twice around is two miles. The song starts me thinking about the human spirit – isn’t that a misnomer?  Human equals flesh – spirit, God.  My misbehaving, undisciplined, flesh, complaining, moaning, whining it’s way around the track, down the path, on the journey.

I start out moving to the song, the music keeping the speed until my body settles and muscles loosen and I fall into rhythm with comfortable ease.  About halfway through the walk the comfort isn’t quite as comfortable and I look at the shoe prints in the sand ahead of me and just follow those footprints still listening to the music knowing the goal is worth it. The killing the flesh, struggle to be stronger, healthier.  Can’t get there without some pain.  There’s pain – arthritic feet but you walk through it, past it.

Sometimes there is shade and a cool breeze.  The walking is pleasant.  I’m on the path and the path is smooth and easy on my feet.  Other times the shade is gone and the sun beats down and I’m sweating and wishing I was somewhere else and I could be, it’s a choice after all.  Sometimes I choose wrong but the path is always there and I come back.  There is some ugly trash along the path but also beautiful flowering trees.  Others walk the path as well.  We nod and speak and all keep walking.

The track is not far from where I live but it isn’t exactly at my home.  I have to act to get to it.  I have to choose to get in my car and drive there.  I choose to listen to the music and keep walking, putting one foot in front of the other, finish the race, claim the prize, complete the walk.

The spirit moves us, not our spirit.  We move along the path, track, onward on the journey, wherever the spirit takes us, flesh dying, spirit moving, til we can go home.  Trials on the way and joys too.  Never alone, spirit always with us, nudging, prodding, waiting, speaking if we listen.  Waiting for us to choose, listen, move, obey, and then come home.

Not Ready For Sunday Scribbling

The prompt this week is healing and when I saw that in my reader it made me cry.  Those who know me know this has been a terrible week.  We lost a friend Wednesday night.  His name was Shawn and he left a wife and two daughters.  I’ll post more about this later but for now I’ll tell a little bit of the story.

We left a church we had attended for about ten years.  There were problems and we were lucky to have found a new church home and were healing and moving on.  We met up with some friends who were starting a small Sunday evening praise service at our old church and went and started helping them. This was how we met Shawn and Lindsay and their daughters.  The service fell apart but we had started meeting in each other’s homes once a week for bible study.  The group shrank after that but Shawn and Lindsay became our friends and continued coming along with our friend BJ.

We joked about having short attention spans and while we always had a meal and fellowship, sometimes we didn’t get in as much bible study as we could have.  That used to bother me some but now I see that God had a hand in all of this.

In November Shawn stopped working because the company he was employed by didn’t have any more contracts.  He and my hubby started going up to the church and working some.  My hubby is disabled and has balance problems but could work with Shawn for a few hours and I wasn’t worried about him falling and no one being there.  They also went to a Men’s Ministry class there on Tuesday nights.

Recently Shawn got sick.  He was having stomach problems and went to the emergency room several times where they did very little for him except take his money.  He finally had started having tests run and we worried because it was dragging out so long but thought they would find the problem and fix it.

Wednesday night I checked my phone at church which is something I NEVER do and there was a text from Lindsay saying that they were at the ER and to come if we could.

We left right away but when we got to the hospital, Shawn had already passed away.

When we went to our old church for that evening service I thought that maybe God wanted us to share our faith there.  I thought that was the purpose.  When things fell apart I was left not understanding because if that was the purpose then had we failed?

Now I know that God put us there because He knew the future.  He knew that we would get joy from knowing Shawn who was no angel but could sing like one.  Shawn who loved Third Day’s music and wanted more than anything to be in a praise band.  Shawn who could not ever seem to have a serious discussion for long and would make you laugh til your sides hurt.

God put us there so that we would get to know Lindsay who is shy and reserved at first but has a strong faith and great insights.  She is my sister in Christ and such a gift.  Her oldest daughter reminds me of her and the littlest one is her dad made over.  He fussed at her often, I think because he saw himself in her and knowing himself, wanted to give her guidance.

Above all else Shawn wanted to take care of his family and I know that God has plans for them and I have already seen Him at work in His people loving on Shawn’s family.

Once again, what I thought God was saying was not what he planned,  so as we all try to understand and heal from this grief we know we do so with the hope of Jesus Christ and to quote Shawn, God  “I’m a welder.  Use short words”  God, I’m listening but you know I’m a C+ student at best.

Wednesday night Jason said something in the lesson that stuck with me.  He said God is much more interested in working in us than through us.

A friend is going to put up a memorial site and when it is complete, I will post a link here.  There is no insurance so help for the family will be appreciated.

Sunday Scribbling: Confession 2 (not a story)

Confess they say and I say yes
I think that I should indeed confess
but not to you, just to my God
Who knows my heart and yet loves no less

You don’t own me and you don’t  own God
in fact if stumbling you should cause
Then before you are lain beneath the sod
Turn your angry eyes on your own flaws

I’m free you see because my sins
The Father has cast into the sea
And in the end when the world is made new
That sea is gone and my God wins

My soul is His, I freely give
Just as he died, so I could live
As If I lived like him I’m loved
So I turn from you to Him above

This may sound a bit angry.  I read a lot of things about confession this week that just trouble me so here is my thought on confession as it pertains to being a Christian.  Just my thought…

I think confession is necessary.  I think you confess your sins to God.  I think you confess to Him that you are a sinner and there is no way you can be made right without Him.  This isn’t shame – it’s freedom.  Freedom from constantly feeling as if you don’t measure up, because you don’t.  No one does and never will of their own.  It’s Jesus who does the work that takes away our sin.

We confess to God because it’s the first step to repenting or turning down another path.  We confess and then we turn to Him.  In that turning is forgiveness and restoration – we are restored to Him.  We are Justified.  Just as if I’d never sinned.  Do you get that?
Read the two scriptures below.

Micah 7:19
19 He will again have compassion on us, And will subdue our iniquities.
You will cast all our sins Into the depths of the sea.

Revelation 21
1And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.

They.  Are.  Gone.
I love that

We All Follow

The prompt at Sunday Scribbling is follow and as I sit writing I have a song in my head – Follow That Sound by Sharon Little

I can hear a telephone ringin’
I can hear a gypsy singer singin’

I’m gonna follow,follow that sound
till i know, till i know i cant be found.

there a woman on her knees prayin’
theres a child in the breeze playin’

I’m gonna follow,follow that sound
till i know, till i know i cant be found.

We were strong and thought we could handle anything.  We had a few potholes along the way and thought of them as trials. We had lost people, but we had each other.

Life just kept moving along and crouching in the wings was a lion, ready to pounce and gobble us up.  We knew he was there but as people will, we chose to ignore him hoping he would go away.

Finally one day, his presence was too closely felt and we knew we had to face him or be consumed.

It was a Friday night and D had become sicker and weaker until I could hear his breathing at night – a sound that both reassured me and terrified me.  It didn’t sound right.  We sat down and looked at each other and he admitted that he needed to go to the hospital.  He wanted to wait til Monday because we knew that he would just sit there all weekend and nothing would be done.

Monday we showed up at the emergency room and because of the ongoing construction, I had to remain in the waiting room.  We were so sure it was his heart, and we were right, partially.  His kidneys were failing and it was causing fluid buildup around the heart.  They thought we were crazy because we were encouraged that it was his kidneys.  We knew he could live without kidneys but a heart was a whole other matter.

We followed the doctors instructions.  He began dialysis and I began researching how to feed him.  We were given dietary information which mostly consisted of what he could NOT eat and it was a very long list.  If it had any flavor, dialysis wouldn’t filter the chemicals that create the delicate balance your body needs to survive.  Too much of this, too little of that and the whole pile of cards comes tumbling down.  I was determined that I would find every way possible to give him enough choices to keep eating from being a punishment.  It didn’t always work and he didn’t always accept the choices with grace, but I don’t think I would have been able to accept it as well as he did.

Initially things seemed better,believe it or not.  The dialysis made him feel so much better than he had felt in a long time, that even 4 hours a night, three nights a week seemed to be a small price to pay.  He was soon feeling better but he couldn’t return to work on dialysis so we followed what we told at the dialysis center and learned how to do peritoneal dialysis at home.  After going through the training and making sure our home was set up for it, we followed instructions and diet to the letter!  We were the local poster kids for living with end stage renal disease.  D returned to work and we gradually settled in to a routine.

We had several good years before the lion returned.  D came home from work one night saying he was hurting and didn’t feel right. He did his first exchange and the fluid was cloudy which means peritonitis.  Such an innocuous word for a decent in to hell.  We went to the emergency room again and they gave him antibiotics and called his PD nurse and she called in instructions for more antibiotics to be used in his exchanges.  Nothing worked and things got worse so fast.  He was in so much pain and nothing helped.  We went to the hospital and followed their instructions and for a week met each morning with hope of improvement.  Every day his white count was higher and now he was so medicated for pain that he was hallucinating but still in pain.

I finally made the decision to move him to another hospital and immediately the treatment changed and he slowly started to improve.  He was so close to death when we got there that it took months.  We lived at that hospital for several months total and our children finished the school year on their own. Even after several trips home and then back the process was slow and some of the damage that had been done to his body was permanent.

He was back at the dialysis center three days a week and so discouraged.  We knew at this point he would never return to work.  We were trying to wade through the muddy waters of insurance and disability and in the meantime life went on, kids grew, bills came, and we were taking it one day at a time.  We had beat the lion back one more time.  We knew he just wasn’t feeling as well as he should this time on dialysis and because of hard lessoned learned we monitored everything closely.  Checked his temperature and blood pressure regularly using own thermometer and cuff.  We watched his diet and read his blood work reports carefully.  We talked to his sisters because he was finally ready to try transplant.

His youngest sister was a close match and the process was started.  We are thankful every single day for her gift.  There were other gifts too.  People who supported us financially, with prayer, with cards – gifts so great that thank you just hangs up in my throat.

The family followed us to the hospital.  Friends and pastors too.  We got up and checked the board over and over again.  The board was where they posted progress and approximate time left .  That board seemed to change so slowly.  Finally after what seemed like years, the doc came out and told us that every went well.  We had several hiccups – adjustments in medication were made and finally we were allowed to move from the hospital to an apartment nearby where we could come every day to the transplant clinic at first.  The transplant was Thanksgiving and we finally got to go home at Christmas.  The process is not easy and the anti-rejection drugs are rough at first but we have graduated to checkups every eight weeks.

Following all that, we are remaking ourselves.  Our lives are not what we planned but we are here and the lion, while not gone completely, follows from a distance for now.  Sometimes the paths we follow are not ones we would have chosen for ourselves, but we walk them anyway.  Sometimes they are dark and full of shadows and then sometimes we step out of the shade into the sunlight and the light and the warmth surround us for awhile.

Happy Easter

This was a special Easter for me as our church held our Easter service at the high school where I work.  he last two years it was held at a neighboring school with an auditorium that holds about 650.  Last year some people left because there was no place to sit.

Our auditorium holds a little over 1000 and I was worried that people wouldn’t come because the weather was bad this morning.  I don’t know any exact numbers, but it looked pretty full to me.  That’s just awesome.  It’s encouraging to see that many people, in one place, worshiping together – especially in a community this size.

The service began with the itty bittys singing and it looked like there was about 40 kids up there.  I got so tickled at a little girl in the front who was just about to dance, hopping and raising her hands whenever they would sing “Lord I Lift Your Name On High” – she was so cute.  She was just so excited to be up there.

I was thinking about an Easter before the kids were born when we lived in Littleton.  My best freind and I decided we would go to the sunrise service at Red Rocks which is a natural outdoor amphitheater formed by what they call the “hogback” where the foothills push up at the edge of the Rockies.  The guys had no interest in going so I made us a thermos of coffee and she brought quilts for us to wrap up in.  We left at 4 in the morning because a LOT of people go and it isn’t easy to park.  Even getting there early, we still had quite a hike up to where people were sitting.  It was beautiful and peaceful even in the midst of the crowd.  I found a picture on Flickr – not from back when I went but you get the idea.

This gives just a hint of how big it is.

Hope everyone had a joyous, peaceful Easter holiday.  He is risen! Amen!

Scribbling Prompt – Scary

The Sunday Scribbling prompt this week is Afraid.  What are you scared of?

A lot of things scare me.  Bees and wasps, snakes, pain, Fiddle Head Ferns (I know but they always made me think of aliens), saying the wrong thing (which I DO frequently – you would think I’d be over it).  There are things I worry about but I think those are a different category.

If I really search for the things that can keep me awake – I am afraid of time.

There have been crystal pure moments in this life, where time stopped and I stepped outside of it, barely breathing. I saw everything at once, heard every laugh, smelled the sun, and knew without a doubt that if I was asked at that very moment, where I would like to be, I would have chosen that time and place.  Every color, intense and perfect, feeling complete and peaceful joy.

I don’t mean the big events like births and weddings. Those things are marked by the calendar.

I mean the small, seemingly insignificant times when for some inexplicable reason, it felt as if God’s finger tapped me on the shoulder and whispered that I should look and remember, take it with me. I mean a time when I wasn’t just there, but I was truly present – in that moment.

As a Christian, I know I have the hope of heaven. I believe that Jesus Christ paid the price for my sins.  I believe that God loves me more than my human self can possibly imagine.

My human self can’t imagine anything more beautiful or joyful than those moments. This is a paradox and my most confusing sin.  We are not supposed to be tied to this world – and yet we are given these gifts of moments that make me love this world in a way that goes to the very heart of me.  Oh, I know there are terrible things in this world.  You’ve only to turn on the evening news to get bombarded by violence and tragedy.  We see evidence of how little humans care for other humans every day.  But when I think of how a person’s mind works and through little lines and sounds that form words and how we make leaps of imagination, form relationships, paint pictures, and create music and love, I am in awe.  When I think of the small every day miracles when someone does the right thing for no reason or when someone makes a small gesture of love without being asked it makes me want to hug the world!

But those moments, oh those moments.  They hold me as much as I hold them.  I fear them stopping.  I fear not being here.  I fear not feeling that connection to another human being.  Will I take those moments with me?  Will I remember?  Will I be remembered?

At the same time I’m curious to see what comes next.  In Mark 9 we find the short but oh so meaningful prayer – “Lord I believe, help my unbelief” That sums it up for me. Am I flawed or do others have this doubt?  If we are to love God and desire to be in His presence, is it wrong to have this love for His creation?  Can we love the Creator but hate His creation?  If it’s wrong then why is creation so filled with beauty?  Is it part of learning to trust?

It’s Easter weekend and it’s scary to me to even post this.  This is a time of celebration.  The tomb is empty, Jesus conquered the grave.  I know these things but I want to know them MORE. A friend told me (teasingly I think) that I’m nosy.  I am, it’s true.  More than nosy – I like to KNOW things.  I like proof of things. I like things to make sense.  I love it when a bible teacher explains something that makes the Bible make sense.  I love the mystery and mystical”ness” but the logic and proof make me enjoy that part more. When I learn something that proves the gospel, it doesn’t all of a sudden make me start believing.  It’s more like YES!  I knew it!

Sooo, I hope I am not judged too harshly for doubts.  Isn’t that what faith is about?  We keep walking because we trust God to guide us, even when in and of ourselves we know we are lost?

Celebrate

I was not in a celebratory mood this weekend so when I saw the prompt from Sunday Scribblings was Celebrate I was dismayed.

A stressful week and then not feeling well physically had me kind of shut down.
We are still in Ephesians at church and as I opened my bible, it fell to the page that contained the following scripture.

Ephesians 14

Therefore He says:
“ Awake, you who sleep,
Arise from the dead,
And Christ will give you light.”

Once again I’m reminded of how easy it is for me to forget that light.  We sleep, and anger creeps in.  We are spiritually dead, and self becomes all important.  How much of my time is spent “sleepwalking”.  God is faithful and calls me through His Son, to awake to the light and to celebrate that gift by letting that light shine through me for others, so that Christ can draw people to Him.  I mess up.  I close my eyes and sleep.  Today I celebrate the light that Jesus gives us all, and once again am humbled that though I sleep, again and again, He doesn’t let go of me and gently wakes me up to see that the light never leaves – I just need to open my eyes.

We’ve been sleeping for so long
Living in the dark alone
He has called us with HIs song
We remain His very own

We celebrate the light
Rejoicing in the Giver
We open up our eyes
And look to Him forever

Amazing how God knows what we need to hear, even when we are asleep.  Thanks Sunday Scribblings for this prompt

A Saint Goes Marching

I am not from this community and when you are a “transplant” you don’t know all the history and the long-time relationships between families and the community.  I have lived here long enough, however that some of the recent history of the community has become mine as well.

My kids were both band nerds and for several summers I had kids playing in the summer concerts in the park put on by the municipal band.  Musicians from high school age on up would gather to practice once a week and on Friday nights we could drag our quilts and lawn chairs to the park and families would gather around the pavilion to hear them play.  The concerts always begin with the National Anthem and end with “I Love Paris”.

These concerts are one of the things I have grown to love about my adopted community.  What a picture of small town America and like any small town, the picture has it’s own flavor because of the characters involved.

We lost one of those characters this week.  I knew him and his family through work but my favorite memories will be of him introducing the songs at the summer concerts.  Ever a teacher and music enthusiast, he saw that we had a little piece of information about the different composers and the music.  A regular composer each year was Henry Fillmore.  Because of Pat I know that Mr. Fillmore was known as the “Father of the Trombone Smear” and that he married an exotic dancer named Mabel May Jones. When his introduction began, as soon as he mentioned Henry Fillmore, those of us who were “regulars” for several years would chuckle because we knew that he would mention Mabel next.

I know that Pat was loved by his family, friends, and community and this is my favorite memory of him.  I will always think of my kids and their years in band when I hear a march being played but  now I will also be listening in my mind for Pat to tell a story about it.  I know you are a saint who is marching in right now.  Thanks Pat,  and God speed.

Are You Sunny or Gray?

There was a lesson at church this week on how we are most like satan when we are accusing our brothers or sisters.  The bible talks about whispers – you know what I’m talking about.  A better word is probably muttering.  Doesn’t that paint an attractive picture? The negative things we say that get back to people or even if they don’t, they color our attitude about that person and everything in general.  They also color us.  When we slop muddy paint on someone else we can’t help but get some on ourselves.

I wish we were like those big trucks that make the loud beeping warning sound when they are backing up.  When we start backing up into bad behavior the warning beeps would help us stop in our tracks and turn.  BEEP BEEP you’re not being an encourager!  BEEP BEEP You’re not controlling your tongue!  Danger Will Robinson!!

I’ve been trying to meditate on it all week and a friend of mine once said something that seemed so profound and at the same time, so simple.  We can’t always change our circumstance but we can always change our attitude towards our circumstance.

Our attitude is sometimes the only thing we DO have control over, or I should say, God has control over.  I can’t stop backing up into bad stuff but I can pray that God will put the brakes on and show me which direction to turn.

Philippians 4:8 Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.

Maybe they could invent “Good Attitude” the drug.  We could have a pump like they use for morphine.  Every time we feel a negative attitude coming on we could just hit the little button and POOF – we are sunny and yellow instead of muddy gray.

The thing about attitude is that it is catching like a virus.  In ministry when there is encouragement – people get saved, churches get planted, people do ministry.  When there is muttering and whispering the very opposite happens.  It applies in our jobs and families the same way.  We have the choice to lift up or drag down.  I want to do better at the lifting up.  I want more sunny yellow and less muddy gray.  I’m not good at it, but I’m going to work at it.

I had a really bad day.  I tried to keep the muttering to a minimum.

pictures by http://flickr.com/photos/botheredbybees/ and http://flickr.com/photos/ir0cko/

But God…

The lesson this morning was from Ephesians again.  The scripture that was the focus was Ephesians 2:1-7

1 And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, 2 in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, 3 among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.
4 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

I looked up the phrase “But God” on Bible Gateway and there were 10 examples before you even get out of Genesis.

In Ephesians we were dead in our sins and transgressions….But God loved and saved through grace.

I never really understood the difference between sins and transgressions before. It was explained that sins are simply missing the mark.  In order to get to heaven on our own works all we have to do is be perfect like out Father,  Well that’s a snap huh? Miss the mark?  Just by a little LOL

A transgression is a willful act of disobedience.  We know the direction we are to walk and we turn around and walk our own way instead.  If you have ever raised a child you may have had a time when you told your toddler not to touch something only to have them reach for it anyway – sometimes while they are looking right at you!  That’s us.

The bible has so many “But God” examples.  We sinned, God sent a flood, But God remembered Noah and all the wild animals and the livestock that were with him in the ark, and he sent a wind over the earth, and the waters receded. Gen.8:1

Joseph’s brothers threw him into a well and then sold him into slavery and he ended up being in a position to save their lives. You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. Gen. 50:20

David his from Solomon fearing for his life: David stayed in the desert strongholds and in the hills of the Desert of Ziph. Day after day Saul searched for him, but God did not give David into his hands. 1 Sam. 23:14

Those who trust in themselves are destined for the grave…But God will redeem my life from the grave; he will surely take me to himself. Psalm 49

The so-called religious leaders looked down on Jesus. The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all this and were sneering at Jesus. He said to them, “You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of men, but God knows your hearts. What is highly valued among men is detestable in God’s sight. Luke 16:14-15

Peter preached to the people – not easy Christianity, but strong words.  You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead. We are witnesses of this. Acts 3:15

Money or marital troubles that you can’t see how to fix?  You may not know how you are going to get through it – “But God“!

Trials with your health, job or family that seem to big for you alone?  They may be to big for you “But God”!

Afraid that you can’t walk in the way God wants you to walk?  You can’t in your own power, “But God“!

But God….

Sunday Morning Blessings

This morning we were singing a song I have sung many times before, but all of a sudden in the middle of the verse I got a lump in my throat and my eyes were tearing up.

“I’m forgiven, because You were forsaken
I’m accepted, You were condemned
I’m alive and well, Your Spirit lives within me
Because You died and rose again

Amazing love, how can it be
That You my King, would die for me
Amazing love, I know it’s true
And it’s my joy to honor You
In all I do, I honor you”

I was overcome with gratitude for all that has come my way.  Dale is doing well. The kids are both doing ok.  I had a wonderful trip to Austin, time with old friends, got to know new friends a little better, the weather has been wonderful.  My health has been good, work has been good.  Most of my friends have been blessed lately.  Little things, big things, all things!

All I could think was thank you.  Thank you God for all you have done for me lately.  I have concerns I lift to Him of course, like everyone.  A friend in particular that needs a job, he and his family.  I pray that God will bring something for him and that he will have this same blessed feeling.  That’s the thing about this feeling.  I want to share it with everyone I know.  I’m a much nicer, kinder person when I have this attitude of gratitude.  Instead of spending all my time looking in, I am looking up and out.

The lesson was on Ephesians.  The Wealth, The Walk, and the Warfare.  We are still in the wealth and it was such a fitting lesson for how I am feeling.  The blessings of God the Father, God The Son, and God the Holy Spirit and the wealth they give us as believers.  The power they give us to walk, not on our own strength, but in our weakness, letting God be strong and do battle for us.  The power of prayer that lets us join with others anywhere in the world.  The surrender that comes, not from saying I will sit back and let God do it all, but from saying I will let Him direct what I do so that I DO honor Him.

I know that there will be trials and that I will do more than stumble – I will fall flat on my face repeatedly.  It never ends well when I rely on my own strength or wisdom.

Calvary Chapel Paris is planting two new churches.  One in McKinney and one in Idabel.  I pray that the blessings I have received at this church will go out from the two new ones and bless others.  It’s amazing to me that this church that had maybe 25 people coming on a regular basis when we started and was housed in a metal building out on 271, now has about 400 people attending and multiple active ministries.  The praise team, Children’s ministry, home fellowships, women’s ministry, ministry classes, hebrew class,  youth, and others are all strong and ministering to so many.

I have a box full of notebooks full of notes from Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights., and those notebooks are precious to me.  They are my “real world” journal as this is my online one.

I try not to mix the journals too often but this morning this feeling was just so overwhelming.  Just wanted to share it with you. Amazing.  Love.

A Blessed Thanksgiving

This is a very special Thanksgiving for us because it is the one year birthday of Dale’s kidney.  I can’t believe it has been a year since we packed up and headed to Dallas for nearly a month.  We picked up the apartment key that night at Baylor and “moved” in.  The next morning we reported to admitting before dawn and the entire family, friends, pastor, and more, got comfortable in the waiting room as Dale and his sister started the process of getting ready for surgery.  It was a long and nerve-racking day but everything went fine.  We had a few glitches after the surgery with Dale going into “acute” rejection and needing to be dialyzed one time before things started settling down.

To try to thank everyone for everything that was done for us is overwhelming.  We were LOVED.  Folks I work with collected money, put up with me being a little crazier than usual, friends checked on us, checked on our kids, sent things they thought we would need, gave money so that Sondra wouldn’t miss salary, prayed for us, sent cards, brought our kids to visit us (and cooked with them – thanks Beej!), visited us, and I’m sure I am forgetting someone or something.

The difference in Dale and our lives as a family in the last year is so great.  Dale is probably 50 pounds heavier, the transplant medications no longer bother him, he has not been diabetic and is able to eat almost anything he wants.  He only has to go the transplant center every six weeks now.  He laughs and picks at people again and if you know him at all, you know that is a sure sign that he is himself. He will always have balance issues but he is happy, is cooking, and goes to lunch with our busy son a few times a week.  He keeps us organized, and keeps us going.
To all of you that held us up and pulled us through, thank you, we love you and you will never know just how much every little thing meant or how each kindness pulled us one more inch up the hill we had to climb.

Be Slow To speak, and Quick To Work!

We started studying the book of James last night and the verse that stands out to me the most is

James 1:19-20 My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.

My biggest problems come from being too quick to speak and even today, the day after we studied this I snapped at someone who was only trying to help me.   I’m tired and feeling under pressure but not being much of a witness by getting all growly. I hope sleep will improve my personality!

Progress on getting everyone on the new domain was slower today which makes sense since the first ones were all fairly close to each other geographically and now things are more spread out and some of the computers are not “standard operating procedure” so it takes longer and there is a bit more troubleshooting involved.  There is the added pressure of time because grades need to be exported Monday.  Tomorrow – another day, another building, another growing to-do list.

Thank goodness for friends who are willing to help and chocolate!

Beauty From Ashes

Eye make-up washed off by tears – $10.00

Lotion for hands sore from clapping – $ 3.99

Cough drop for throat raspy from yelling – $1.98

Heart full of pride – PRICELESS!

I’m scribbling this in the car on the way home from the UIL band competition.  We made it in time to see the Paris Blue Blazes Band take the field and their show was just beautiful and graceful.  We stayed til after the North Lamar Panther Band finished playing and until we knew both bands had made ones!

I yelled and clapped for both bands and it made me incredibly proud that I work with these wonderful creatures who overcome so much everyday. Band teaches a sense of community, responsibility, accountability, and that practice really DOES make perfect.

Today, it taught them that beauty can come from ashes, that you can move and work through grief, and you can create meaning from senseless loss.

They proved to themselves that you can step up and do what needs to be done even when it is painful, and that the beat is still in your heart and head even when the drummer stops playing.  I am humbled.

Plans and Prayers

I had worked on a post last night and planned to finish it today. We all have plans all the time.  We plan what we will do at work, what we will have for supper, what clothes we will wear.  We plan on our kids outliving us and being living proof that while we leave this earth – we go on, in our children and in the people we have affected while we are here.  We are not ever supposed to outlive our children.  This week not one but two sets of parents are having to experience what that is like and this is not a very big community.  The two kids who died, both in car wrecks, were both seniors in high school – one in each of the larger schools in town.  One was a band kid with ties to most of the debate kids that were at a tournament today. The other had just started speech and debate and worked at Braums.

Plans are made but in a blink, plans come to a halt and all the things that seem important aren’t even a blip on the radar.  I hugged kids today – and a couple of moms.  The debate tournament went on and the kids managed to pull it together and to love and support each other.

The kids at the other school collected money for the little girls funeral.   We see so much bad and worry about the world but in the last week I have been so proud of kids, and so heartbroken for them as well.  I don’t dare try to imagine what it is like to lose a child.  There is a part of me that thinks about my kids driving and I just want to take the keys and keep them home again like when they were small.  Then I had a little control – then I could protect them, or at least I had the facade that I could.  That facade has been gone for some time and I just keep coming back to prayer.  That is all we have left after a certain point.

That’s all I know to do tonight.  The older I get the more I believe that it’s ALL I know for sure.

Thursday Stuff

I went to church for a half hour before work this morning.  It isn’t a beautiful sanctuary with stained glass windows, but the lights were low and Jason was playing guitar and singing praise.  There weren’t a lot of people there, but those who were, sang and prayed and I left with a peace.  I could start the day like that every day.

A student was killed in a car accident last night.  It was not known til this morning and the kids were already wound up because tonight is the bonfire.  There are having a candlelight silent time in her memory.  I couldn’t go. I knew her by face but other than that not really.  I have friends who lived right next to her while she was growing up – she used to keep their kids.  She was a senior yesterday and now she is gone.
I made it the whole 24 hours and didn’t even really fell any discomfort til pretty close to the end of the day.  Food was on my mind but I didn’t want it – weird.  I may try to do this every now and then.  Every time I thought about food I remembered to pray. Even with all the crazy little things going on all day.

A server tanked today and I have people scheduled in the lab and no idea if anyone will be able to log in.  We don’t realize just how ubiquitous technology has become – until it is broken.  Tomorrow will be interesting.  I’m sure there will be a lot of questions and complaints.  It’s Friday though and we will survive! Hug your kids tonight – I know I will mine.

Blog Action Day – Poverty

The day is here, or in my case almost over. Bloggers all over are posting on poverty and I stayed busy and almost let it slip by.  I have been thinking today about spiritual poverty and how it goes hand in hand with physical and economic poverty.  In a nation that has boasted that it is the richest nation in the world we have poverty and how can that be?  How can so many have so much and some still go to bed hungry.

There is a story that I read about what heaven and hell are like.  A man goes on a tour of heaven and hell.  At his first stop, there is a group of people sitting around a pot.  Wonderful smells are coming from the pot and the people have spoons that are long enough to reach the pot, but so long that when they try to maneuver them to their mouths, the spoons tip and the stew spills out before they can eat.  They are all weeping and moaning from hunger.

The next stop the same wonderful smelling stew is cooking in the pot and people are sitting around the pot with the same long spoons but they are all happy and talking and no one is hungry.

The man is told that the first stop was hell – plenty to eat but everyone hungry.  The second stop is heaven and the only difference is that the second group has learned to feed each other.

It is spiritual poverty that has our country in the economic state it is in.  Everyone has plenty and big long spoons to eat it with, but we haven’t learned to feed each other.

We have been studying the minor prophets at church and in nearly every case of troubled times, a prophet would call for a time of fasting and praying.  Our pastor suggested we as a congregation call a fast.  They will have the church open at 6 in the morning so people can stop for prayer and worship before work, for a time at lunch, and again after work.  The fast is not a requirement for anyone – you are invited to participate if you want and are medically able.  You can just pray if you don’t feel led to fast.

There will be directed prayer as we pray for our country, our community, and our ministry as a congregation as well as quite worship time.
I thought it was a fitting way to look at blog action day – doing without food by choice as a reminder of those who go without so much and as a prayer for those who have so much.

If you know me then you know it will not hurt me to miss a meal.  I don’t know if I will make it the whole way, but whatever hunger I feel will be a reminder to me of how blessed I am to have the choice and to know that while I might choose to go without food, I can if I so choose, head for the refrigerator at 2 A.M. and eat my fill and so can my children.

I know that I can make the house note this month and the electric bill will be paid so I will be able to keep posting on this computer.  I have my choice of shoes and clothes to wear and they are all clean because I have a washer and dryer and water.

My hope and prayer for our nation is that we would be a people of heaven, that we would be filled by so much more than food, and that we would learn to feed each other and stop trying to fill ourselves with the junk of the world that leaves us with a yearning for something the world can’t give us.

If we want to cure poverty, we need to cure the spiritual poverty that has caused us to harden our hearts to the needs around us.  The change that would happen externally is going to have to start internally in our hearts.