Monday, October 29, 2007

Life Is Hard - God Is Good

I haven't been on here in a really long time so I'm not sure anyone still reads this little blog of mine. I've been making an effort to listen more and talk/type less. My heart can't hold the pain of today so I have to write it and let it out.

Life isn't fair. We all learned that early on in life on the elementary school playground. It’s funny how we still want life to be fair, at least when it comes to bad things not happening to good people. On her way home from church last night, Ashley Au (graduating class of 2007), a former student of mine, was killed in a car accident last night. You may have heard the news reports of the terrible accident on Highway 169 Sunday night. A car was merging onto the highway and clipped her back bumper which spun her into the path of an SUV which t-boned her car. She died around 11 pm last night. She was such a great person! She loved life and lived it so well. Even more than she loved life though, she loved her Lord, Jesus Christ. She was a tiny little spunky thing, but a mighty force athletically and spiritually. Her smile and laughter were that infectious kind and it didn’t matter whether you knew what was so funny or not, you couldn’t help but laugh along. She had a heart bigger than this world could contain.

Today students, faculty, staff, and graduates have held each other while we cried, remembered, smiled, laughed, and tried to just make it through the day. We’re holding strong to the fact that Ashley is now in Heaven and she’s getting the praise party started and waiting for us all to join her someday.

Peace has come today from Psalm 84 and the following song:

1 How lovely is your dwelling place, LORD Almighty! 2 My soul yearns, even faints,for the courts of the LORD; my heart and my flesh cry out for the living God. … 5 Blessed are those whose strength is in you, whose hearts are set on pilgrimage. 6 As they pass through the Valley of Tears, they make it a place of springs; the autumn rains also cover it with pools. 7 They go from strength to strength, till each appears before God in Zion. … 10 Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked. 11 For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless. 12 LORD Almighty, blessed are those who trust in you.

Life Is Hard (God Is Good)
by Pam Thum

You turn the key
Then close the door behind you
Drop your bags on the floor
You reach for the light
But there's darkness deep inside
And you can't take it anymore

'Cause sometimes living takes the life out of you
And sometimes living is all you can do

Life is hard, the world is cold
We're barely young and then we're old
But every falling tear is always understood
Yes, life is hard, but God is good

You start to cry
'Cause you've been strong for so long
And that's not how you feel
You try to pray
But there's nothing left to say
So you just quietly kneel

In the silence of all that you face
God will give you His mercy and grace

Jesus never said
It was an easy road to travel
He only said that you would never be alone
So when your last thread of hope
Begins to come unraveled
Don't give up, He walks beside you
On this journey home and He knows

Life is hard, the world is cold
We're barely young and then we're old
But every falling tear is always understood
Yes, life is hard, but God is good

Monday, July 16, 2007

Report from the front lines

Spiritual battle! It can be so intense sometimes. Satan is so crafty in his attack plans. He can take something that blesses me and draws me into a more intimate presence with God and twist and distort it until it becomes something that completely shifts my focus from being about God to being about me.

I grew up thinking I needed to be really good at everything I did. My parents didn’t place that burden on me that I remember, I just simply volunteered for it! Satan uses that against me to limit what I’m willing to do in the Kingdom and make my pride become more important to me than allowing my weaknesses to be seen. It can be so hard to allow others to see my weaknesses. It’s funny, most people (especially those closest to me) see my weaknesses with pretty good clarity, but I think as long as I don’t acknowledge that no one can really see them! Another line of deceit from the Deceiver! That’s why I love the apostle Paul. I’m so glad God put his story in the Bible. It let’s me know it’s okay to be human (that was God’s design for me), but long to be spiritual (that is God’s desire for me), and that Paul struggled between the two also! (Rom. 7:19 - For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.)

Do you ever struggle with doing something for God that you don’t have any confidence in your own ability to do? That’s where my struggle is; allowing my confidence in God to override my lack of self-confidence in order to serve Him.
In the midst of this struggle, the Spirit has led me to 2 Corinthians. Paul talks about everything they (he and Timothy) have gone through in order to spread the gospel. He makes the statement that all this has “…happened that we might not rely on ourselves but On God, …). So for today, I’ve picked back up my battle shield, fallen in line behind my Protector, and I’m willing to let Him do what I can’t do myself.

2 Corinthians 12: 9-10 (New International Version)
9 … "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

2 Corinthians 12:9-10 (The Message)
My grace is enough; it's all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness. Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ's strength moving in on my weakness. Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size—abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Great news and a game of blog tag

The latest news on the family front is that Abijah is at home now!!!! After 9 ½ days in the NICU at Southcrest Hospital, she is at home and doing fine! The rest of us are doing GREAT!! I got to hold her Sunday night and of course I think she is beautiful. I’ve never really been able to look at a baby and tell who they look like, but word is she looks more like her Mommy’s family than Ethne did. I think that’s great since I had three children and they all looked like Van, I’m glad Ashlee may have one that looks more like her side of the family!

Now I’ll catch up on a little blog business. I have been tagged by Dana.Here are the rules:
1. I have to post these rules before I give you the facts.
2. Each player starts with eight random facts/habits about themselves.
3. People who are tagged need to write their own blog about their eight things and post these rules.
4. At the end of your blog, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names.
5. Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged, and to read your blog.

So here goes my randomness…..

I had partial cornea transplants on my eyes when I was 4 and 5 yrs. old. (they did only one eye at a time) Thanks to those organ donors, I am able to see today. The prognosis would have been blindness without their gift of sight.

While in the hospital in Dallas during for one of my transplant surgeries, John F. Kennedy was shot and brought to the hospital I was at before they took him to the trauma hospital.

While attending a magic show of Henry Blackstone, Jr.
( with my parents as a young adolescent, I was chosen from the audience to help the magician with “the Vanishing Birdcage” trick. When he made it vanish right out of my hands, it startled me and I quickly pulled my hands away backhanding him across the face – right there on stage in front of everyone!!

I lived on my grandparents’ farm every summer from 1st-9th grade. I lived the “Little House on the Prairie” lifestyle complete with washboards, outhouses, chicken coops where it was my job to gather the eggs, cattle round-ups, etc… I got to ride horses, chase the barn cats, plant gardens, pluck chickens, slop hogs, climb trees, grow watermelons, etc… It was a great life except for the days when we would brand the cattle, prepare chickens for frying, and I wasn’t crazy about the outhouse experience. They didn’t have indoor plumbing until I was in Junior High so we took baths the old fashioned way, just like on the old Western movies! Of course it was usually one tub bath a week (Sat. night), the rest of the time it was a sponge bath with a wash basin!

I’m terrified of birds. I got pecked by too many hens and chased by too many mean roosters. I’m not kidding, I’m really terrified. Once while looking at used cars at a lot, someone’s trained pigeon was loose and tried to land on my shoulder. I went into hysterics and it continued to try to land on my shoulder! To escape, I finally hid under a car!! The movie, The Birds, may just be a movie to you; to me, it’s my worst nightmare!!!!!

I swam on a synchronized swim team in Junior High. That’s what peer pressure will do for you! I hate to be in the water and to this day I hold me nose if I have to go underwater. I don’t know how I ever survived that experience!!!

I was the Drum Major of my high school marching band my senior year. I was told it was the first time a girl had been the one and only Drum Major. No, I didn’t wear a skirt; I wore the same uniform the guys did. I was tall and very skinny and you couldn’t tell I was a girl (I know that doesn’t say much for my figure at the time!) until we got in the stands and I took the big tall hat off and all my long hair would come falling down my back. It took quite a few people by surprise. I did the kick strut across the field and everything!

While on a date with my now husband in college at Pizza Planet in Edmond, I accidentally got locked in the restroom when the lock broke off the door. No matter how hard I pounded on the wooden door and yelled, no one could hear me. When our pizza arrived and I still hadn’t returned from the restroom, Van sent a friend of mine to check on me. I explained the situation to her, she told Van, the manager came and at the top of his lungs yelled, “Stand back M’am we’re going to kick the door in!” Let’s just say it was more than a little embarrassing to walk out after that, but hey, Van married me anyway!!!!!!!

Since almost everyone I know has already been tagged, my tagging will be limited to Betty (jettybetty) and John Cope!

Thursday, July 05, 2007

The Days of Abijah!

When a precious couple from our church faced life threatening complications during their son's birth, I was always touched by how he would allow himself to see the humor in some of the things that occur during this time. Let's face it - if you've never seen a baby in the NICU, you've missed some interesting equipment. So, as our little Abijah continues to grow stronger and anticipate her escape from the NICU, I give you some of the lighter moments of life in the NICU!

On the day of her birth, Abijah was immediately admitted into the Future Astronauts of America Training Program.

As the days went by, she didn't want to miss out on her opportunity to sport a tan when she left the hospital. Here she is catching some rays under the bili-light. Some women pay big bucks for tans like this!!!

And finally here is a musical tribute to a precious baby girl who can't wait to get home to her Mommy, Daddy, and big sister! If you know the song "The Days of Elijah" then hum along!!

The Days of Abijah

These are the days of Abijah,
Declaring to the world she is here

And these are the days of wires & monitors
respiration being restored

And though these are days of great trials
of oxygen and feeding tubes

Still there is a voice in the NICU crying
Prepare cause I’m coming home soon!

Behold she’s here! Such a precious one!
Stealing our hearts, with her tiny cries

So lift your voice & celebrate with me!
Baby Abijah is finally here!

There’s no God like Jehovah!
There’s no God like Jehovah!
There’s no God like Jehovah!
There’s no God like Jehovah!
(Repeat 3 times)

So lift your voice & celebrate with me!
Baby Abijah is finally here!

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Life can sure come at you fast sometimes. We are so thankful to God for watching over our sweet new granddaughter and her Mommy. Abijah (A-bi-jah, think Elijah with an “Ab” instead of an “El”) Linn Priest was born Thursday at 1:47 pm, weighing in at 6 lbs. 11 oz. and stretching 19 ½ “ long. Her name is found in several places in the Bible and can be a male or female name. Abijah was the daughter of Zechariah and the mother of Hezekiah. Her name means “My father is Jehovah”. She is, of course, beautiful!! Her mommy has had a really rough time the last several weeks. Two weeks before her birth, Ashlee began having contractions and continued to have them the whole time. Four different times they became so hard and so regular that the doctor had them go to the hospital to be monitored and receive medication to stop the contractions so the baby could grow and develop a little more. There has been some uncertainty about her due date, but the doctor had concluded July 8th from her ultra-sound. The contractions never stopped. By last Thursday, June 28th, there was no delaying any longer! We were all so happy for Ashlee because it had been a very rough and painful two weeks leading up to this moment. At the hospital, they gave her a spinal block and began preparing her for her C-section. After a little while they discovered the spinal had not taken so they gave her another one, waited for a few moments and then headed for the delivery room. At first, everything appeared fine so they were ready to proceed, but that is when the problems began. Ashlee felt some discomfort with the first incision but wasn’t sure what was happening. It wasn’t until they made the second deeper incision and she screamed that they realized the second spinal had not worked either and she was feeling everything!!!! At that point they put medicine into her IV to knock her out and hurried Michael out of the delivery room. During the delivery, Abijah swallowed some amniotic fluid so she has been in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit ever since. One nurse referred to Abijah’s problems as “wet lung” syndrome which is apparently a common problem for C-section babies and something I read said even more so if the mother had been in labor before the C-section. Two weeks of labor prior to the C-section probably made this unavoidable. It was a good thing that they had taken Abijah this week. She was bruised across the top of her forehead and under one eye, and all down her back from the constant contractions Ashlee had been having. I can’t imagine how much more she would have been bruised if they had waited another week. Ashlee is recovering at home now, but without her sweet baby in her arms as Abijah remains in NICU on oxygen, a feeding tube, and under the light for jaundice. Please pray for our sweet Abijah to grow stronger quickly. Please pray for our precious daughter-in-law, Ashlee, as she struggles with aching empty arms that long to snuggle and cuddle her precious daughter. Please pray for our precious son Michael as he also longs to hold and cuddle his precious daughter and watches his wife’s pain and disappointment through something he can’t fix. Please pray for big sister, Ethne, who even though she is only 17 months old, knows that something really big is going on!

Monday, June 25, 2007


Earlier I mentioned the book I’m reading this summer, The Cross Examination of Jesus Christ by Randy Singer.





The author points out how the Law mattered most of all to the Pharisees. It didn’t begin that way. In the beginning, their motives were purely to love the Lord their God who brought them out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. (see Ex. 20:2) But somewhere along the way they traded their faith in God for their faith in the Law. It was originally based on the Law of God; however, being the humans that we are, they sought to improve on God’s plan and in the process made a mess of things!

The author makes this statement:
“… apparently all these religious leaders, who take such great pride in following every jot and tittle of the law, let their hatred of Jesus overpower their love for the law.”

He provides a detailed explanation of the trial rules for the Sanhedrin that were most likely in effect at that time of the trial of Jesus. He does make a point of saying that

“There is some uncertainty about trial rules in first-century Jerusalem. Later records describe these Jewish trial procedures, and it is probable that substantially the same rules were in place when Christ was tried.”

He further explains that most of the procedural safeguards for capital offenses (meant to assure a fair trial) were violated in the trial of Jesus.

It has served me well to step back from “religion” and examine exactly how much I too have added to the commands of God in order to protect my system of religion.
I have discovered some truths so important that Jesus was willing to die for me to set me free. Here’s a little bit of what I’ve discovered.

What really matters:

The Messiah, not the method,
Jesus, not the judgmental.
The Savior, not the system,
Christ, not the critics.
The Prince of Peace, not the pattern,
The Forever Faithful, not the five acts or steps of anything!

Monday, June 11, 2007

Row, row, row your car???????????????????????

A funny thing happened on our way to New Mexico, well, actually it's funny now but it wasn't very funny at the time! Van and I went to New Mexico to visit his Mom and just relax for a few days last week. We planned to leave bright and early Friday morning and be merrily on our way! It didn't quite happen that way! On Thursday, I spent the day helping our oldest son, Jon, and his wife, Amanda, finish moving from Stillwater to Tulsa. It was a fun and beautiful summer day and I really enjoyed it. On the way home, I had the sunroof open just enjoying the sunshine and the day. When I got home, I parked Van's car out on the curb so I would have more room to clean out the car and get it ready for the trip. I then helped Van with the yard, packed, and got everything ready for the trip. While I finished laundry and packing, Van went to Papa Murphy’s and picked us up a pizza for a late dinner. Friday morning we woke up to heavy, heavy thunderstorms and Van commented that it had rained very heavily overnight. We wondered if we would have to drive in rain for the next several hours. Little did we know that we would be traveling in rain alright!!!!!!!! As we were getting ready, a sudden panic dawned on me. I asked Van if he closed the sunroof on my car when he went to pick up the pizza. His reply struck terror in my heart!! He hadn't taken my car to get the pizza; he took his car in order to put it back in the driveway!!! I went racing out to my car and my worse fears came true! According to the cup holders, it had indeed rained very hard that night. There was 3" of rain standing in each cup holder! The front seats, carpets, and console were drenched!! I called my dad who brought over his wet vac (first I closed the sunroof) and we vacuumed out as much as we could. An hour later we lined the seats with towels and set out on the road. It did rain off and on along the way, but as we finally approached the drier climate of New Mexico, we were able to roll down the windows and reduce the humidity level in the car. We could hardly stand to run the air conditioner on the way because we were so damp it just made you freeze!!!!!!!! When we pulled into his mom's driveway, we breathed a sigh of relief that we would be able to park the car under the carport, leave the windows down, and let things dry out in that wonderful drier climate. Much to our dismay, apparently we upset the humidity balance in New Mexico and it proceeded to rain every day we were there! Fortunately for us, there was just enough dry air that everything dried out just fine. We weren't even left with any foul odors in the carpet, and my carpet sure is clean!!!!

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

A summer journey

Summer break has officially begun so maybe now I’ll have time to blog again! I’m currently reading, The Cross Examination of Jesus Christ. This book has challenged me in so many areas. Right off the bat, in the introduction, the challenge began! The author, Randy Singer, makes this statement.

“A strange and uncomfortable thing happened as I began writing this book. The more I studied Christ’s confrontations with the Pharisees, the more I recognized myself in some of these questions. I discovered that some of the folks really loved God but tried to show it with activity rather than relationship. A holy busyness – that felt familiar… I found religious leaders who didn’t spend much time with those outside their own circle of friends, who never dined with tax collectors and sinners. … That’s when I discovered this mind-bending truth: if I want to be like Jesus, I must first realize how much I am already like the Pharisees. In God’s paradoxical way, that humbling realization is the first step toward becoming less like the Pharisees we loathe and more like the Savior we love. All of our mental gymnastics and convoluted questions can’t make it any other way.”

Well, that was a lot to think about! I have spent much of my spiritual walk trying to put as much distance between me and the Pharisees as possible, and here this author is suggesting that in order to become like Jesus, I must first come to terms with how much I am like them! It was more than I could comprehend so I put the book down for several weeks. Well, I’ve picked it up again and it continues to challenge me around every corner! I’ve come to recognize some of my Pharisaical ways and it’s really shaking up my world. I have come to grips with requirements I had attached to the teachings of Jesus. The “right (and only) ways” I had decided or accepted from my heritage of how to relate, worship, and commune with God that Jesus never said anything about in all his teaching about God. It’s going to be a summer of discovery. I’ll share as I go, but please be patient. I can only digest this book in small meals. It’s that kind of life-changing, mind-challenging, heart-reviving book.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Not a happy kitty!

There should be a rule in life that if you can't tell the difference between a happy and an unhappy kitty, you aren't allowed to hold them! This is hilarious!

Saturday, April 07, 2007

A Good Friday to remember

Yesterday was a special day with my 5th grade class in Bible. We spent the whole part of our academic time on Bible. We have been studying the Old Testament this year and have really studied what sacrifice means. In the last few weeks we have been studying the captivity of the Israelites in Egypt and had just finished the plagues. The last and final plague was the death of the firstborn son of the Egyptians, slaves, and cattle. (Exodus 11:5) However; the difference would be in the homes of the Israelites which would be passed over. (Exodus 11:27) We then studied the Passover sacrifice and its meaning and symbolism. I helped them see that as long as they were inside and covered by the blood of the lamb they were safe from the final punishment of death. I drew a sketch on the board for them of the doorpost with the blood and how the sting of death would pass over those homes and the people that were in them would be led away from this scene of death and suffering into the Promised Land. Their captivity would be ended. We then went to Matthew 28. I showed them this chapter of the Matthew video series as they intently followed along in their Bibles soaking up word for word what was happening. When the video ended, I drew the cross on the board and drew the blood covering the wood. I then drew the tomb with the stone rolled away and bright light coming from the tomb. I explained to them that now we celebrate Passover because God’s people needed to be set free from sin and death once and for all. Because Jesus took the place of the sacrificial lamb, no other sacrifice would ever physically have to die again to make up for our sins. I explained that as long as we are in Christ, His blood covers us so that the sting of death passes over us and we are raised in Spirit from the dead and led away from death and suffering into the Promised Land of Heaven to be with Him for eternity. The expressions on their faces were priceless as they began to connect the dots of the wonderful mystery of God in their minds and in their hearts. My amazement of the wonder of God was renewed again as I watched their understanding become complete in what Passover, Good Friday, and Easter is all about.

We ended our day in the home of some precious friends with about 30 people for a time of fellowship, Praise & Worship, and communion. It was a Good Friday I’ll never forget!

Saturday, March 31, 2007

A Battle Won

My heart is so torn today! I’m celebrating for a friend who got to go home today, but I’m also grieving for her family and friends who now have a huge hole in our lives that she filled. Around 4 AM this morning Cindy Ezell won her battle with cancer. She got to leave her physical body behind and soar straight to the arms of Jesus. Cindy was one of those people that loved life, family, and her God passionately. She was a master teacher who taught us faith, hope, love, and confidence in God right up to the end. I learned the news early this morning and later went into the kitchen to do some things. As I was standing at my kitchen sink I flipped to today’s page of my devotional calendar and here is today’s message:

The ransomed of the LORD will return. They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Isaiah 51:11 A

Our joys are made better if there be sorrow in the midst of them. And our
sorrows are made bright by the joys that God has planted around about them.

I thought that was a very fitting tribute to a wonderful lady who did so much to bring joy to everyone around her. Her joy is now complete in the presence of the LORD.

Friday, March 30, 2007

ISWW 2007

Wasn't workshop wonderful this year? Of course, I think we say that every year! This year was somehow even more wonderful than ever before. It's so hard to pick a favorite moment but every class, every keynote, every worship, okay, everything was just running over with God's Spirit. Thursday morning while I was getting ready I read my daily devotional from a book I have. The following is an excerpt from that day's thought:

"He puts a little of heaven in our hearts so that we'll never settle for less."
2 Corinthians 5:5 (The Message)

"... There's no confusing the present world with the eternal home that awaits you. But, that doesn't mean you can't enjoy a taste right now. Close your eyes.
Think about meeting Jesus face-to-face."

The theme this year was Jesus: The Model, the Messenger, The Mission. That's why it was so wonderful and more. It was all about Jesus and if you were there you did get to see a glimpse of Him face-to-face. I've decided that 2 Corinthians 5:5 is my new definition of the ISWW - "...a little of Heaven in our hearts so that we'll never settle for less."

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Standing Empty Handed at the Cross

In John 20:20 the account is given of when Jesus appears to His disciples after His resurrection. The passage says that He showed them His scars. Not His wounds, but His scars. That’s how it works. Life gives us wounds, God gives us healing, and while we will have scars especially if the wound was a deep one, we are not left with a festering open wound unless we won’t leave it alone. Yes, your mother was right when she told you “Don’t pick at that!” If we accept God’s healing, the wound will heal, but by allowing other people to see our scars they are able to see
God glorified through the wound we suffered. Just as Jesus showed His scars to His disciples, we owe it to each other to not hide behind our “church faces”, but to show each other our scars so that God may be glorified! I love the book, The Scarlet Letter. Wow! That's a powerful book once you get past all of the Old English and vocabulary. Hester and Dimmesdale are perfect examples of what happens when we try to handle our sin ourselves. We are destroyed in the process. Why do we find it so hard to let go of the past and allow it to be what it is - the past. Jesus calls us to daily pick up our cross and follow Him, but how can I if my hands are so full of my own baggage? Imagine packing every suitcase you own, carrying them all at once and then trying to pick up my cross and carry it too!?! In order to carry my cross I have to first lay down all my own baggage. Sometimes we have trouble doing that because our baggage is so comfortable. Don't get me wrong, we usually don't like what it contains - the pain, the tears - but at least we are use to it. It's not part of the great unknown out there. We know what to expect from it and we've grown accustomed to it. It provides us with all our excuses for why we can't be all He has called us to be. Isn't it strange how we pray to God to take away our pain, but then reach out and grab it back from Him. The challenge is to lay it all down at the cross and walk away empty handed so we can pick up our cross. It's not a one time decision, it's a daily choice. Every day we must go to the cross and begin there by laying down our burdens and picking up our cross. That's why the scripture says to deny ourselves and pick up our cross daily (Luke 9:23). Jesus promises in Matt. 11:28-30 that if we will come to Him and lay our burdens down, He will give us rest. He calls us to take His yoke upon us and learn from Him for He is gentle and humble in heart and there our souls will find rest. He promises that His yoke is easy and His burden is light, not because He demands less of us, but because He carries the load with us!

Monday, March 05, 2007

Taking up my cross

Then He said to them all: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me." (Luke 9:23) I've pondered this verse for a long time. It streams through my mind, makes my heart race, and my soul long for Him. Every time I think I get it the Spirit reveals more and more to me. I grew up hearing the saying "It's just my cross to bear" when someone was talking about a burden or struggle in their life. They were usually referring to some physical condition or pain, emotional pain, etc... that they had to endure. I don't believe Jesus was talking about our physical life when He "said to them all: Take up your cross." Paul referred to having a "thorn in his flesh", but he never called it his "cross to bear." Fix the mental picture in your mind. A thorn compared to a cross. It really helped me put my fleshly struggles in perspective. So what does it mean????? I'm discovering day by day more and more what it means to me. I have discovered that first I must have the desire to follow Him, "If anyone would come after me..." The desire's not usually the hard part for me (I'm such a Peter!). It's the follow thru that gets me. It's that next part that took me a long time to understand, "... he must deny himself ...". There it is; the step that I so often stub my toe on and stumble. How do I deny myself? Sometimes I get so focused on trying not to sin that the sin becomes bigger than the Savior. In order to deny myself it means I want what He wants for me. It means I long for life in Him not the life I create for myself. Jesus says just a few verses later that to find our life we have to lose our life for Him. That means letting go of things that come between me and my Lord.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

It's hard to believe that one year has come and gone and our sweet Ethne is already a year old. The day she was born time seemed to stand still. The first time I saw her was in her Daddy's arms as he walked her into the nursery barely a few minutes old. That sight took my breath away!

When I actually saw my child holding his child, it was such an amazing feeling. It was just a little glimpse of what the Father must feel as He looks down on His children learning to give life through Him to others. Such a powerful image that it still takes my breath away!

As the days have gone by I am still amazed by that sweet baby girl. There is no greater thrill than when I get to see her and reach out to her and those precious little hands reach for me! I love to "read" to her. Of course, at this point it is speed reading because we mainly just look at the pictures;however when she sits on my lap and we "read", the rest of the world just fades away.

When she comes to our house, she goes straight to her toys and playtime begins. It's funny that sometimes I avoid going upstairs if I'm tired, but if Ethne is there I don't mind at all. We might as well be climbing Mount Everest because we have such a great adventure! I had forgotten how much fun tupperware can be! Boy, have I been missing out! I love our conversations! I'm not sure exactly what she says except Mum Mum and Dada and some assorted animal sounds, but we talk about a lot of things! I tell her how lucky she is to have such a wonderful Mommy and Daddy who love her more than she can imagine. I tell her that Nana and Papa love her so very much. I tell her that God loves her even more than all of us and that He will always watch over her.

Happy Birthday sweet Ethne! May all your wishes come true!

Saturday, February 10, 2007

The Reason the Savior is on Board

This is the thought of the day on my devotional calender today. It was such an appropriate day for it to appear.

The waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping.
Matthew 8:24B

It is much easier to trust when the sun is shining than when the storm is raging. We never know how much real faith we have until it is put to the test in some fierce storm; and that is the reason why the Savior is on board.

We all have our personal storms. Some are very private while others are very public. I’ve endured both kinds more than once. I think there is strength in sharing our storm stories (one of my favorite programs on the Weather Channel – yes, I’m a Weather Channel junkie!) It is the shelter during the storm, and the rainbow after the storm that helps others draw strength from our story. We don’t share them often enough. Today my thoughts are with some precious friends who are enduring a raging storm in their life right now. They have sought shelter in the only safe place – God. Their faith is very real and strong and they are tethered to an awesome God so they will come through the storm okay. They may be a little battered, but they won’t be broken. Pray for someone you know, maybe even yourself, to seek shelter from the storm in their God and then share their rainbow after the storm as their testimony to His power living in them.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

The Dilemma of Obedience

This is today's quote of the day -

[Samuel] was afraid to tell Eli the vision. 1 Samuel 3:15

Get into the habit of saying, "Speak, Lord," and life will become a romance (1Samuel 3:9). Every time circumstances press in on you, say, "Speak, Lord," and make time to listen. As we listen, our ears become more sensitive, and like Jesus, we will hear God all the time.

"My Utmost for His Highest" - Oswald Chambers - An Updated Edition in Today's Language

(Yes, that sort of Oswald Chambers for Dummies!)

Monday, January 29, 2007

What language does God speak?

Life is moving very quickly for me these days! Some days I can’t even keep up with my own shadow so this is going to be short!! (Okay, quit rolling your eyes, yes, I can be brief sometimes!) I read this quote today and it just really struck me so I wanted to share it. I have often wished I could hear from God only to realize He was speaking loud and clear if I would just pay attention! Be blessed by this thought:

God speaks in the language we know best – not through our ears, but through our circumstances.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

I've been tagged!

Heather tagged me, how fun! Hopefully educators and legislators won’t get involved and decide it is too dangerous and that someone might get hurt and outlaw tag in blogland! Okay, enough stalling. Really, I didn’t know how to play blog tag so I did what I always do when I need technical advice – I phoned my daughter, Vanessa, for help! She scolded me today because I hadn’t gotten it done yet! Have our roles reversed here or what!!

Here is how it works:
1) Grab the book closest to you
2) Open to page 123, go down to the fourth sentence
3) Post the text of the following three sentences
4) Name the author and book title
5) Tag three people to do the same

Here’s my quote:

“I think Satan sends our demons whose job it is to do nothing but repeat that phrase [questions from Matt. 6:31 – What are we going to drink, eat, & wear? Joyce Meyer – What are we going to do?] in the believer’s ear all day long. They fire off difficult questions, and the believer wastes his precious time attempting to come up with an answer. The devil is constantly waging war on the battlefield of the mind, hoping to engage the Christian in long, drawn-out, costly combat.”
Battlefield of the mind by Joyce Meyer

This is a great study! I highly recommend it!

Now for the fun part:

Danna (there’s more than one way to get you to blog!)
Shane (I know you are currently reading a book so enlighten us!)
Vanessa (I’ll be checking to see how quickly you get this done young lady!)


Monday, January 22, 2007

A thrilling thought!

As I turned over the page for one of my "thought for the day" calanders, I was greeted with this thrilling thought, (actually it's tomorrow's thought but I peeked!) -

"If we could see as our Father sees, I'm convinced we would be amazed at the size of His family. If the spiritual iceberg were suddenly turned upside down and exposed for all to view, the magnitude of the Church He is building would literally take our breath away."

"I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne." Revelation 7:9
The Grace of Encouragement Charles Swindoll

I am so thankful that God removed the religious scales from my eyes and that now I see the HIS family more completely! Why did I ever think we were in this all by ourselves?!? Praise God, there really is safety and strength in numbers! Praise God, HIS church doesn't have just one brand name! Praise God, HE is in charge of building HIS church! May we see HIS church for what it is - truly awesome!

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

The Cross Examination of Oliver Finney

Okay, so I’ll never be a professional book reviewer, but really, WOW! This is an incredible read! The author, Randy Singer, is a fiction writer and former trial lawyer. Singer does a masterful job of portraying a believable character, Oliver Finney, who is trying, just like us, to live out his faith so that others might see Christ. He’s not perfect; he has his own struggles, failures, and vices perhaps that why I liked him so much. The author weaves intrigue, mystery, humor, and a whole bunch of faith into a must read for everyone! It’s a lengthy but easy read, and so compelling you’ll have trouble putting it down. Thanks to snow days I did approx. 50 chapters in one day! Now that’s a good book! It will leave you reflecting on the kind of impact your life makes in His Kingdom.

I’m anxious to read his other book, The Cross Examination of Jesus Christ. Here’s what Singer has to say about his book –
“The purpose of this book, like the purpose of any effective cross-examination, is to reveal the truth – not just what Jesus taught but who Jesus is. His character. His intellect. His mission. The astounding depth of His love. Our verdict will be a lifestyle more like His.

Cross-examination, my professors stressed, is the most dangerous part of any trial. … That’s why you never ask a question if you don’t already know the answer.
The classic illustration goes something like this:
LAWYER (defending someone accused of assault): You didn’t actually see my client bite the nose of the alleged victim. Isn’t that true?
WITNESS: That’s true.
LAWYER: In fact, at the time of the alleged incident, there were several people engaged in a fight and your view of the victim was blocked. Isn’t that true?
LAWYER: Then how can you be so sure that it was my client who bit the victim’s nose as opposed to one of the other men in the fight?
WITNESS: Because I saw him spit it out.

Tricky business, and dangerous, this road toward the mind of Christ. The devil is still a crafty cross-examiner, twisting the truth and distorting the testimony. Like Mike Tyson after his prime, Satan couldn’t land many direct punches on Christ, but he still had a nasty bite. At the cross, hell bit off more than it could chew.

“How do you know?” you ask (violating the cardinal rule of cross-examination).

“Because three days later they saw hell spit Him out.”

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

What do you long for?

There are many things in life that I want, few that I really need, but only one that I have discovered that I long for. Only one thing that I truly and genuinely feel myself so drawn towards that at the thought of it my heart pounds with excited anticipation while at the same time a soothing, calming peace fills my excited heart. This “thing” that I have discovered is a sincere and intense desire to see Jesus face to face. I do believe that when we look at our brothers and sisters in Christ with our spirit eyes, we do indeed see a representation of Him. I have seen Him in many I know and love. However, lately I have been drawn to a different type of seeing Him. It began to come together for me recently when I believe He allowed it through worship to slowly and gently settle into my conscious awareness. I love so many songs that it is always hard for me to name any one song as my favorite; however, lately a beautiful spirit "eye opening" moment came all together. Not all in one day, but over a period of three days. It began on a Wednesday night when we sang one of my favorites – Jesus Let Us Come to Know You – it goes like this:

Jesus let us come to know you
Let us see you face to face
Touch us, hold us, use us, mold us
Only let us live in you

Jesus, draw us ever nearer
Hold us in your loving arms
Wrap us in your gentle presence
When the end comes, bring us home

It continued on Thursday night with this song – Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus:

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face,
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.

The awareness became complete Friday morning on my way to work when yet another song came across my heart from off the radio. This song is so much a favorite of mine that it was my ring tone on my cell phone until I had to change brands of phones and it wasn’t available for my new phone! Everytime I hear the song "I Can Only Imagine" I am swept into His presence!

I can only imagine
What it will be like
When I walk By your side
I can only imagine
What my eyes will see
When your face Is before me, I can only imagine
Surrounded by Your glory, what will my heart feel
Will I dance for you Jesus or in awe of you be still
Will I stand in your presence or to my knees will I fall
Will I sing hallelujah, will I be able to speak at all I can only imagine
I can only imagine When that day comes
And I find myself Standing in the Son
I can only imagine When all I will do Is forever
Forever worship You I can only imagine
I can only imagine ,I can only imagine
When all I will do Is forever,
forever worship you

My question for you is this, what has the Spirit brought into focus lately for you? What do you long for in the Kingdom?

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Christmas with Ethne!

The shirt may say "Bah Humbug", but the smile says "I want more presents!"