Friday, July 31, 2009

Raising Cane

He who gathers crops in summer is a wise son, but he who sleeps during harvest is a disgraceful son. Proverbs 10:5

Yet he has not left himself without testimony: He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy." Acts 14:17

Wednesday I canned green beans. Isn't it amazing that just two plastic bags from Kroger full of string beans makes 8 quarts of beans I canned and still there is enough for supper tonight? I love canning. It is hard because I am working full time, but it is one of my favorite things to do.

Two weeks ago my Mom, Dad, #1 daughter, #1 son and I did 15 dozen ears of corn. That isn't that much when you realize that we usually do 30 dozen. I have a friend who always gives us great corn and we love it. We shuck it, use the turkey fryer to parboil it, and then plunge it in ice cold water in a cooler to cool the ears down. Then we take it out, cut and scrape it off the cob and bag it. We have fresh, frozen corn for months.

I am proud of the fact that of my farming grandparent's grandchildren (there were 9 in all) I am the only one that has kept canning alive. Some of my greatest memories are of us all gathering out at the farm and doing corn for 2 days. We kids would sneek some of the cut corn in our mouths, we would all shuck the ears and then we would go play by the pond or in the barn. We also would gather to dig up potatoes. I only remember doing that once or twice.

But the best thing was the sugar cane. My grandfather would grow it and my grandmother would "raise cane" because she always thought he grew too much. :) Any hoo, we would strip the cane of it's leaves, press it through and the juice would come out. Then we would cook the juice until it thickened and it made the best molasses ever. It happened in October and was the best time ever! I don't have enough land to raise cane, but my husband and I have a nice small garden where peppers, cukes, beans and 'maters rule. Now if only the weather would cooperate and dry out. I need the sun to poke it's hot head out from behind all these gray clouds and warm the earth and turn my 'maters. I have a lot of green ones, but they don't make for good juice and chili. We aren't a green 'mater family!

Farming is a noble and dying heritage. I love my heritage and love the little portion that I keep alive in gardening and canning and sharing with others.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Teen In Training

Timm came back from camp on Friday night. As a twelve year old, I was not worried that he would be homesick or be good, or even have fun. He has trouble (especially at school) keeping his mouth closed and his thoughts to himself. He has no problem telling people what he thinks, no matter the consequences. It's a gift and a curse.

Well, this year, he apparently was promoted. Being the oldest camper on his team, he was asked to step up to the challenge of helping as a "Teen faculty member". From what has been told to Mike and I, Timm really did a great job. He helped lead his team, he talked with two boys who actually came forward and were to be baptized at their home church, he did an outstanding job! Mike and I really proud of the job that he did. He was called to help and he met it head-on with no problem.

As a reward of being a "Teen", Timm got to stay up a little later a couple of nights. The best night was when all the faculty went out to the zip line and rode it at night. Now it gets pretty dark in the valley at Butler Springs. So going up into the woods, climbing up the stand and riding that little thin wire and harnesses at night would be a faith-builder. Timm said that all they had was a glow stick and you could see your objective, the circle at the other end. You push off and down you go, into the darkened night, not sure of where you are, what is below you, and wondering why you decided to do this crazy thing. Can't you just close your eyes and imagine gliding down at a very fast rate, the wind coming at you and then a sudden stop? It must be exhilarating!

Timm loved that he was called on to be a helper. I asked him if he now understood what it means to be a counsellor at camp. He said "I do and I am going back next year as a teen helper."

Maybe I will go with him next year. I want to see my children become courageous and faithful helpers, shining their light before God and men.

1 Corinthians 16:13 Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong.
2 Thessalonians 1:3 We ought always to thank God for you, brothers, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love every one of you has for each other is increasing.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Laughing At Yourself

Friday afternoon, I took Allie to the doctor for a physical for band. It was the usual physical. They weighed her, took her height, read her blood pressure. Then the doctor came in and asked his set of questions. He took the little hammer and started checking her knee reflexes. Her knees were not responding well and she was laughing. I told the doctor that my knees were the same. So he told her to put her hands together with palms facing each other, held up to her chest and elbows out. So she did that. He then checked her reflexes again. That satisfied him. Then he asked her to stand up and he checked her posture. He told her to turn around. Allie did a 360. The doctor rolled his eyes and said, "No, turn around." Then he stopped her when she was facing away from him. She laughed and said, "You said turn around." He told her to touch her toes. She bent down, touched the floor and stood back up. Doc said exasperated, "Slowly." So she went down again and he checked her spine as she stood up. By now I am just rolling with laughter. Next the doctor told her to squat down. She turned to him and said, "What does that mean?" He said squat down. So she tried to, but she ended up falling to her knees. By now this comedy was too funny for either of us to not be laughing. How the doctor was putting up with us is beyond me. He then asked her to squat and walk like a duck. Now can you see Allie doing that? She couldn't do it. So the doctor told me that he thinks she can't do that because of her knocked knees. She said, "I have a disability?" I told her, "Yeah, you do. A lot of them."

So later, when we were driving home, I asked her if she realized why the doctor made her put her hands together when he checked her reflexes. She said, "No, why?"

"Because he wanted you to concentrate on something other than your legs."

"He did? Oh, I thought he was checking my hands or arms. I thought it was scientific!" She said in wonderment. I laughed and told her, "Oh I am going to blog this!" So I did.

Some days it's an adventure to be with Allie. God gives us laughter because he loves that musical ringing in our voices. Here is the verse I have picked out for today. Proverbs 31:25 She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.

Friday, July 24, 2009

His Lovingkindness Endures Forever

This morning, I read Psalm 136. It's a poem or song that is fixed on one main thought. God's love is everlasting. No matter what you do, no matter what He has done, no matter that you sin and fall away, repent and come back, He will always love you. What a better way to keep your spirits up than with this thought?

This Psalm focuses on every aspect of God. The author begins by reminding us to be thankful for everything. He then talks about God as the creator of all things, the One who saved His people from everything, our Savior. After each line, the author says, "His lovingkindness is everlasting." How can we ever forget that? Are you thankful to Him that gives you the day and the night? Do you thank him for specific things or are you someone who just says thank you? I have read that if you write down what you are thankful for and keep a record, you won't really be able to comprehend all that God has done for you. But, it is a good way to start being more exact in what you want to thank Him for. Maybe start with five or 10. I'll start and then if you want, email them to me and we can make this a habit.

I am thankful to God for...
1. The love that Mike still has for me after almost 19 years of marriage.
2. Allie, Timm and Jaci
3. My Mom and Dad
4. This job
5. That I am able to type this devotion every day.
6. That somebody likes to read what I type.
7. My Christian upbringing
8. The time I can spend alone.
9. This country and our freedom
10. My new car.

His lovingkindness endures forever!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

My Oldest is 15 - July 23, 2009

Today, at 5:24 AM, my oldest daughter, Allie, turned 15. Most of you reading this know her. She is the one whom some of you can tease endlessly and others of you can depend on for help. She is beautiful, shy and fierce. She is loyal beyond loyal and if you do her wrong once, she will forgive. But if you keep it up, she will be done with you. She takes her time in deciding what her heart and mind want, then she goes for it. She is growing up into her own woman.

When Allie was little, she was a quiet girl who cried every day. Not always did I know why, but she did. I guess she just had to get that emotion out and the only way she could was to shed tears. It took a long time for her to see that she didn't have to always cry, and now, like most teens, she only cries occasionally. She doesn't bow to peer pressure and feels a responsibility to let others see how to live.

Being fiercely loyal is something that I admire in Allie. She reminds me of Jonathan, the son of Saul, friend of David. Jonathan was fiercely loyal to David, and when he found out his father wanted to kill him, he did what was right and helped David escape.

1 Samuel 18:1-4 After David had finished talking with Saul, Jonathan became one in spirit with David, and he loved him as himself. 2 From that day Saul kept David with him and did not let him return to his father's house. 3 And Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as himself. 4 Jonathan took off the robe he was wearing and gave it to David, along with his tunic, and even his sword, his bow and his belt.

Allie is that kind of friend. She will do anything for her friend. It is one of her greatest attributes. Mike and I are very proud of our daughter. She brings us joy and new adventures. We couldn't ask for a better daughter.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Unity - Lifting You Up, July 22, 2009

Are you in unity with your Christian brothers and sisters? Are you in unity with your co-workers? Are you in unity with your family? Are you in unity with God? As I was reading Psalm 133 today those questions popped in my mind. Psalm 133 states "Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious oil upon the head, coming down upon the beard, even Aaron's beard, coming down upon the edge of his robes. It is like the dew of Hermon coming down upon the mountains of Zion; For there the LORD commanded the blessing--life forever."

I like the interesting description of how being anointed with oil feels as it runs down your head onto your face, and down your clothes. How the dew comes down the mountain and everything must get wet. It doesn't matter what gets wet or oily, it all does. Being in unity doesn't mean we are always happy and agreeing with each other. But it does mean that we need to stop trying to always be the one who is right. We need to listen more than we talk, and then talk to the right people. It means that we need to be able to agree to disagree without hurtful words and feelings.

You should treat your church family as you do your wife, husband and children. When we show respect for others and not put ourselves first, our attitudes change, people around us seem different and the Devil starts to realize that he doesn't have that hold on us.

So again I ask, are you in unity?

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Listen - July 21, 2009

This week, a lot of our family is at church camp. It has always been a favorite place for me to go. I went there as a child and never got homesick, never had a doubt about being there as a child. As an adult, I knew that I would be there as a counselor. Not really for the kids, but for me. It may sound strange, but I looked forward going there, spending time away from the world of tv, cell phones, computers and such and be able to just commune with God in a natural habitat. It was therapeutic to me to get up early, just as the sun was starting to make it’s appearance over the tall, old trees and hills and read my Bible and devotion and just listen. The birds would chirp to each other, the quietness of the early day would be all around me and the possibility of what lay ahead was before me. I miss that.

I can not remember the last time it was so quiet that I could just listen for God. I get up early and my mind is full of to do lists, family and friends and just busyness. It’s time for me to remember that I am the one who has to stop and listen. God hasn’t stopped talking to me. The routine of the day may get crazy and I may not realize I haven’t stopped until it’s bed time, but I need to stop and listen. Listen for that still small voice inside my heart. Listen for that message that is being sung to me in the breeze.

I try every morning to wake up, take a shower and read my Bible. I have found that when my routine changes, my habit changes. Since changing hours at work and the kids being home from school, it has been hard for me to read. Now that vacation is over and the routine is settling down, I am beginning to pick that back up. The one thing I need every day is a face to face with God. It usually comes in the way of my studying His Word. That more than anything else is what I want and crave.

Lord, help me to always be in your Word and learn all I can about the glorious riches you have in store for me. Help me to be able to stop and listen for you soft, quiet voice in every instance. Thank you for your love and forgiveness. Amen.

My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. John 10:27

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.
James 1:19-20

I'll Be Home - July 20, 2009

In his sermon yesterday, Larry Holmes talked about what our purpose for being here is. Most of us have gone through the book, “The Purpose Driven Life” by Rick Warren. Larry made reference to this book. If you have not read it, then I urge to you do so. It is insightful and helps put perspective on life.

One thing he said that struck me for some reason was that some people go home to die, but we, as Christians, die to go home. Isn’t that interesting? The one thing throughout Dad’s illness that I have tried to not think about and deal with is the possibility that he may die from this. In fact, someday he will die as will all of us, if the Lord tarries. Larry talked about how his brother had been diagnosed with cancer and three weeks later he was home, in heaven. It was Christmas time and Larry said “We sing ‘I’ll Be Home for Christmas’, but my brother really is having Christmas at home.” What a beautiful thought.

Now, I know my dad is getting his strength back and slowly trying to eat, and his voice, though still gruff is there. But, someday, he won’t be. He’ll be home. I know that it is something that I must think about then, but not now. I will deal with that another time. For now, I will cherish the time we do have. I will sing Christmas songs with him and make sure I am there for him through everything.

“But until then, my heart will go on singing. Until then, with joy I’ll carry on. Until that day my eyes behold that city, Until the day God calls me home.” Ray Price

Revelations 21:4 says “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away."

Doctors and Nurses - July 17, 2009

Dad went to the chemo doctor for an update yesterday. He said that he had lost another 3 to 4 pounds and the doctor asked him when he was going to stop losing weight. I told Dad that I would have told him “when my throat stops hurting and I can eat.” Dad agreed with that. Other than that, the doctor told him he was doing great. Dad feels good and other than not being able to eat much he is still on the mend. Praise the Lord!

Mending and healing is always been something that amazes me. Doctors learn so much and solve so many problems. They have to keep up with the latest and greatest in their field. Most of them are experts at something. It is truly amazing. It is a little scary too. What if they miss something? What if the medicine doesn’t respond right. Lot’s of what if’s going on. I am so glad that our God doesn’t play the what if game. In Acts 10 verses 37 and 38 Peter tells what and how Jesus did what he did. "You know what has happened throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached— how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him."

I am thankful that God gave Jesus the power and gives doctors (and nurses) the knowledge and will to want to be in the profession. I sure could not do that. So next time you see a doctor or nurse, thank them.

Renew Your Spirits - July 16, 2009

Well, I am back from much needed and fun vacation. At least Mike and I had a great time. The kids were ready to come home. We went to Birmingham, Alabama for our nephew’s wedding. It was a beautiful ceremony. The festivities surrounding it were wonderful and we got to catch up with our family and friends. We got pampered a bit and drove a lot and saw new places. I had fun just not being home and in the same old grind.

Sometimes just getting away is nice. Mom and Dad are back too. They had a great time touring every battlefield in Pennsylvania and Virginia as well as some naval bases and such. After all they’ve been through, it’s amazing how much a week away has lifted his spirits. He is not out of the woods yet, though. So keep praying for him and Mom.

Renewing our spirits is something that all of us need from time to time. It rejuvenates us, makes our minds and bodies slow down and rests. Renewing our spirits gives perspective to our lives and helps us through life’s journey. Isaiah 40:31 is one of my favorite verses and it talks about being renewed.

but those who hope in the LORD
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.

I hope I can soar on wings like eagles, run and not grow weary, and walk and not faint. It is my hope that each of you take some time and renew yourselves. It is sometimes just what is needed when you have reached the end of your rope.

Thankful Service - July 7, 2009

Well, night one of Vacation Bible School is in the books. If you were not there, you need to come and join the fun that the sixty-six kids and thirty-eight adults had. You have to see our very own Rob Wright and the antics that he brings to the stage. It was such a great time. I hope you all can make it for Sunday night’s closing program. It is sure to be a hit!

The volunteers for last night was outstanding. There is still room for more adults, though. Gina Wright and Amy Land are always looking for a few good men and women to serve. This is an easy way to serve God and your fellow man. There is nursery duty, leading kids around, craft duty, recreation duty, helping with the music, making sure the bathrooms have all the supplies in them, counting money, fixing snacks, policing the place. There are always things for somebody to do.

How else do we show the next generation that serving is a vital part of ministry? If we don’t serve, who will? If we don’t teach the younger generation to serve, who will? 2nd Corinthians 9:12 states “This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of God's people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God.” Isn’t that how we want to show ourselves? Anything you do, whether it be pick up trash, sing in the choir, work with the kids, volunteer to help with communion, is supplying a need and expresses your thanks to God. Vacation Bible School is just one of many ways we can do that. So come out tonight and help out.

Living Normally - July 6, 2009

Well this is the week of nothing being normal. Vacation Bible School is starting tonight. Thanks to all those who helped set up last night. It was a lot of fun and it looks great! I hope you will come and be part of the biggest outreach our church has. It is a lot of fun and the kids aren’t too bad to deal with (usually). There are still needs of leaders and helpers.

The normalcy of this week is going to be hard to come by. I am back working 7:30 AM to 5:30 PM, I will get home, change and shoot to church the first three nights. In the middle of this I need to stay up late and pack and get things ready for our vacation. I also have to train someone to take my place for this latter part of this week and the first three days of next week. So much for my summer not being busy. LOL.

Being normal is not in my vocabulary. Ask anyone who knows me. I don’t usually go for the run of the mill stuff. I like to root for the underdog, I don’t care if I fit in with everyone else and well let’s face it, I don’t think like most people. I don’t mind. I’ve never been the kind of person who cares much about what others think of me. I like that I am comfortable in my own skin. My God has made me that way. He tells us not to conform to the world. Romans 12:2 “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

I hope that each of you in your own way tries to be your own person and not worry about what others think. It makes my life a bit less stressful when I only have to answer to God and my own conscious. I do stay accountable to the very close knit group I have formed, but ultimately my normal life should come from the Christian living.

Independence Day - June 3, 2009

Happy Independence Weekend. This weekend we celebrate our country's birthday. There is so much going on. Tonight some of us are going the Xenia to see their patriotic musical/play called Freedom! Every year they put on a different one. It is well rehearsed, well directed and fun to go to. Tomorrow Allie is in two parades with a picnic for the band in between. Then of course, fireworks in the evening. And don't forget that Sunday is our church's own Red, White and Blue service, this year featuring the Adult Choir singing From Sea to Shining Sea. What a full weekend!

I am sure that all of you are just as busy as we are. But, remember to stop and thank the Lord for this great country of ours. Thank him for the freedom we have as citizens of the United States of America and most importantly as citizens as heaven.

Philippians 3:20-21 states, "But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body."

We just have a few days on this earth then we can be with him. I just hope it won't be as busy as this weekend when we get there!

Water, Water, No Where? - July 2, 2009

Crisis alert! Crisis alert! As I pulled into the parking lot of my work this morning, there was a lot of water running down the parking lot to the drains. I looked up and saw a fire truck parked on the road behind the building. “Uh-oh,” I thought. Come to find out, that there is a water main break on the road behind us. So the building manager sends out an email stating the problem and that it will be 6 – 8 hours before it is fixed and the water if off. He is having port-a-johns brought in. That is a good thing, but this also means that the coffee pot isn’t working and that will lead to a bunch of grumpy engineers!

For the most part, everyone is doing okay. A bunch of them took a break and ran to McDonald’s for another cup of coffee. But when the coffee hits their kidneys, it is going to be a mad dash for the “johns”. Yes it is disruptive. Yes it is and would be better if we could leave and not come back until Monday, but there our companies depending on us to be here and open for their needs. So we hold out as long as we can. I am sure there will be those who give up and go home early. There are also those who will just complain about it all day. Then there are those who will see it as a challenge. 2 Timothy 4:5 says, “But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.” Well, maybe this isn’t the same, but we can use the advice just the same no matter the situation.

I know that it will all turn out fine. The water will be restored soon. This is by no means the end of life. It is a hardship we have to endure for just a little while. Just like when the hurricane hit last September. We dealt with that and we survived. This too will pass and we will survive. Just keep your head and do your work.

I Pledge Allegiance - July 1, 2009

I was just reading Psalm 119. I did not realize that the Pledge to the Bible had a line taken from this chapter. Psalm 119:11 states, “Your word I have treasured in my heart, That I may not sin against You.” Next week, during Vacation Bible School we will say that pledge and the Pledge to the Christian Flag as much as the Pledge to the American Flag. I love the words to each of those pledges. As a young girl, I learned them and have never forgotten them. To me, they hold a lot of meaning that I try to duplicate.

This week, the pledge to our nation’s flag is going to be recited more often than any other words. Go to and read about the pledge.
Our pledge may seem mundane and systematic now. We recite the words without really thinking about what we are saying. Take some time this week to think about some of the words in the pledge.

The Pledge to the American Flag
I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which is stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

The Pledge to the Christian Flag
I pledge allegiance to the Christian flag and to the Savior for who’s kingdom it stands. One brotherhood, uniting all Christians in service and in love.

The Pledge to the Holy Bible
I pledge allegiance to the Bible, God’s Holy Word, a lamp until my feet and a light unto my path. It’s words will I hide in my heart that I might not sin against God.

Those are some powerful words. Do you believe them? Do you agree with them? What do those words mean to you? Do you feel united in brotherhood with other Christians? Do you hide the Word in your heart? I hope you do!

All I Need Is A Miracle - June 30, 2009

There was a song released in the 80’s called “All I Need Is A Miracle.” This song has been going through my head for the last 15 minutes as I was preparing to start this devotion. I was thinking about what to write about and I realized that I had not told you all how great God is and has been, and will be for our family. Dad went to the ENT last week and the doctor ran that scope down his nose and throat. He said that Dad’s throat is still really swollen and burnt, but he could not see the tumor!
Now, the skeptic in me says, “Well, maybe that is because it is so red and swollen. Maybe that is because he just can’t see it with all the phlegm down there. I won’t believe this until Dad’s PET Scan.” Why am I such a skeptic? I hate to get my hopes up and then have them dashed away. I would rather be surprised by happy news than saddened by news that things aren’t as good as they could be.

The chorus of this song is “All I need is a miracle, all I need is you. All I need is a miracle, all I need is you. All I need is a miracle, all I need is you.” Isn’t that the mantra for a lot of people today? If I get that miracle of healing, or whatever they are asking for, then I know that I need you. But what if they don’t get that miracle they want? I have said all along, that until all the results are in, I won’t believe anything. My soul is a little excited about this great news. And when I talked to Dad yesterday, his voice was the strongest it has been in months. Still gravelly, but I heard and understood every word on the phone with him. That’s exciting to me. Seeing the results of healing is always wonderful! It’s the process that is the killer.

I look at this song a different way. “Lord, all I need is you, a miracle is needed, but your will be done.” That is how this song should be sung by Christians. The Psalmist says in chapter 77:11 - 14 “I will remember the deeds of the LORD; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago. I will meditate on all your works and consider all your mighty deeds. Your ways, O God, are holy. What god is so great as our God? You are the God who performs miracles; you display your power among the peoples."

So rejoice that so far, the cancer (to the eye) is not detected and Dad is getting stronger and in better voice every day. God’s been good!

Tell Your Story - June 29, 2009

As I was sitting in Sunday school class yesterday morning, John Fischbach was talking about how we as a church aren’t as great at telling people about Christ as we could be. How many of us in the past six months have invited someone to church? I hope more than half of you have. The discussion turned to how it may be that you invite 10 people to church and only one of those people respond. That may be deemed as discouraging. But our goal is to bring people to Christ and if you don’t ask about their salvation, how will you really know what they need.

The one way we can show evangelize is to just be a friend and to emulate Jesus by how we live each day. We can also give a testimony. Now, I think that word conjures up all sorts of scary images. We think of someone who dresses in a suit and tie or dress, standing in front of a crowd with a microphone in hand and spouting off every detail of how Christ has saved you and how great you feel now. It doesn’t have to work that way. I think the hardest part of telling others of what Christ has done for you is admitting that you are weak, have no control, and are in need of saving. I don’t like to admit that I am incapable of saving my self or not being good or perfect. Being called and evangelist seems kind of stuffy too. But, that is what Paul called the Ephesians. And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ. Ephesians 4:11 – 13.

Maybe it isn’t such a bad thing after all. If we tell our story, then maybe it will better equip someone else to be courageous and tell their story. After all, isn’t life just a series of stories that are put together for you to learn from and use to help others. I think that we can all try and tell one of our stories to someone this week. Maybe it will help each of to draw near to God and to each other.

The Time Has Come - June 26, 2009

What a sad and monumental day yesterday. Two of the world’s most iconic figures passed from life into death; Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson. Much has been said and will be said over the next several weeks about their lives; how their fame and influence changed things in the world. I do wish their families well.

These deaths got me thinking about how we remember those who go to sleep before us. We all have family and friends who we have mourned, and are still mouring for. Grief is not easy to deal with by humans. We want to be remembered a certain way. We remember our loved ones a certain way though sometimes it is askew. But the reality is death happens. Whether we like it or not, whether we understand it or not, it is inevitable. God knows when and where it will happen.

We are not in control. But we can control our eternal life. We can decide heaven or hell. The Bible tells us that we have a choice. Mark 1:14 – 15 says "After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. "The time has come," he said. "The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!" Jesus himself asked us to repent and believe. Then we will receive as a gift, eternal life and the holy spirit. Verse 15 is as relevant today as it was 2000 years ago. The time has come for all men. Has it come for you?

God's Goodness - June 25, 2009

I love the book of Psalms. I am reading my way through the Bible and am sitting on Psalms. Almost every chapter has something good to say about God. Psalms 111 is very uplifting. The Psalmist praises God for his goodness. Here is the whole chapter.

Praise the LORD!
I will give thanks to the LORD with all my heart,
In the company of the upright and in the assembly.
Great are the works of the LORD;
They are studied by all who delight in them.
Splendid and majestic is His work,
And His righteousness endures forever.
He has made His wonders to be remembered;
The LORD is gracious and compassionate.
He has given food to those who fear Him;
He will remember His covenant forever.
He has made known to His people the power of His works,
In giving them the heritage of the nations.
The works of His hands are truth and justice;
All His precepts are sure.
They are upheld forever and ever;
They are performed in truth and uprightness.
He has sent redemption to His people;
He has ordained His covenant forever;
Holy and awesome is His name.
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom;
A good understanding have all those who do His commandments;
His praise endures forever.

What do you have to praise God’s goodness for in your life? Make a list and pick three to focus on. Your day may get better.

Our Adversaries - June 24, 2009

Have you ever read Psalm 108? It has some interesting wording in it. My favorite is verses 8 and 9. He sounds like God is throwing a temper tantrum. He throws a shoe, he shouts. The Psalmist is talking about how God will deliver him from his enemies because man can not win without Him.

My heart is steadfast, O God;
I will sing, I will sing praises, even with my soul.
Awake, harp and lyre;
I will awaken the dawn!
I will give thanks to You, O LORD, among the peoples,
And I will sing praises to You among the nations.
For Your lovingkindness is great above the heavens,
And Your truth reaches to the skies.
Be exalted, O God, above the heavens,
And Your glory above all the earth.
That Your beloved may be delivered,
Save with Your right hand, and answer me!
God has spoken in His holiness:
"I will exult, I will portion out Shechem
And measure out the valley of Succoth.
Gilead is Mine, Manasseh is Mine;
Ephraim also is the helmet of My head;
Judah is My scepter.
Moab is My washbowl;
Over Edom I shall throw My shoe;
Over Philistia I will shout aloud."
Who will bring me into the besieged city?
Who will lead me to Edom?
Have not You Yourself, O God, rejected us?
And will You not go forth with our armies, O God?
Oh give us help against the adversary,
For deliverance by man is in vain.
Through God we will do valiantly,
And it is He who shall tread down our adversaries.

Sometimes I need to read the verses over several times to get the true meaning. Praise God that he will deliver us from our adversaries. Praise God for His saving grace!

Pray for Dad today. He is so tired of feeling bad. He needs our encouragement everyday. Pray for Mom too. She needs just as much encouragement to get Dad through this.

Master of the Storm - June 23, 2009

I was reading Psalm 107 this morning. Verses 25 – 30 talk about God making the sea stormy and then silencing it. These six verses remind me of Luke 8: 22 – 25.

Psalm 107: For He spoke and raised up a stormy wind,
Which lifted up the waves of the sea.
They rose up to the heavens, they went down to the depths;
Their soul melted away in their misery.
They reeled and staggered like a drunken man,
And were at their wits' end.
Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble,
And He brought them out of their distresses.
He caused the storm to be still,
So that the waves of the sea were hushed.
Then they were glad because they were quiet,
So He guided them to their desired haven.

Luke 8 One day Jesus said to his disciples, "Let's go over to the other side of the lake." So they got into a boat and set out. As they sailed, he fell asleep. A squall came down on the lake, so that the boat was being swamped, and they were in great danger. The disciples went and woke him, saying, "Master, Master, we're going to drown!" He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm. "Where is your faith?" he asked his disciples. In fear and amazement they asked one another, "Who is this? He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him."

What a wonderful parallel. The Psalmist talks about how the seas became stormy and how the sailors were scared. How they cried out to God and he quieted the storm. The gospel of Luke accounts a similar story, only Jesus was right in the boat with them. His disciples were scared and woke him up. It says he rebuked the storm. How often do we find that our life is like that? We wake up and a storm is howling against us. We don’t know how we got in this situation or why everything is going wrong. But we do know that the only way through the storm is to cry out to Jesus. His words will make the storm die down. He will help us through and will help strengthen our faith. But we have to ask. So don’t be amazed that his voice commands the wind and sea. Be amazed that he can save your soul.

A Visit - June 22, 2009

Yesterday, Allie and I visited her friend, Austin’s church. Austin has been to our church several times and his family came not very long ago. The church is out in Waynesville. It is actually the old Ferry Church of Christ. They have changed their name to Crossview Christian Church. They have three services, a big sanctuary, a coffee bar, a band, and many other nice things about the church.

I wasn’t sure what the church was when I first went in. I only knew one song that was performed and sang. That doesn’t bother me too much because I love to learn new songs. I was relieved to find out that they do have communion every Sunday. I was happy to be among other like-minded people. It was a good experience. Allie likes our church better. But it was she is use to. Change is not a big priority on her list at the moment.

The one surprise to me was that there were three services and the one we were in wasn’t even half full. I don’t know about the other services. Was it worth having that 3rd service? I don’t know. But I am happy to report they seem to be thriving just fine. Crossview Christian did announce that their VBS was going to be a big turn out (over 200 hundred kids had pre-registered). What a wonderful outreach for them. God’s love is growing in Waynesville, I am happy to report.

I feel a little like Paul, telling you about a church in our brotherhood. But that sometimes is a good thing. I am glad they are thriving and doing well. I hope you feel the same way.

Philippians 4:8 -13 says Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. I rejoice greatly in the Lord that at last you have renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you have been concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.”

Remember these words as you remember those all over that are preaching and teaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. Prayer strengthens them and us as we go along this journey. We are not in competition with other churches, but striving with a goal that should be in unison with God’s plan. Reaching the lost, telling the Good News, and loving each other. That is a big part of it.

God the Father - June 19, 2009

This coming Sunday is Father’s Day. I have a lot to be thankful for. I have a husband who is a good father to his children. He supports them, loves them and wants to be with them. I have a father who is a great dad to me and Mike. Even though he’s been ill and feels like his body has been run through the ringer, he still has tried to always be someone I can count on. He loves me, cares for me and does what he can for me. I love both of these men.

I have another Father too. Though I can not physically see him, I know he’s there. I can sense he’s there. He adopted me as his own. He wrote me a love letter and he gave the ultimate sacrifice for me and for you. I don’t know many Father’s who would do that. Take some time this weekend and thank your dad for all he’s done for you. It’s was a hard job raising us to be Christian men and women, but somebody had to do it.

Galatians 3: 26 – 27 says “You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.”

It is through our faith and obedience that we are sons (and daughters) of God. What a reason to celebrate!

Carry Me - June 18, 2009

I am not the smartest person I know. I am a coward. I would rather be like Jonah and run away than do what God wants me to do. But I also know that from the experience of people like Jonah, I better just step up to the plate and take my swing. God will let it happen, whatever that may be.

Sometimes, I just want to sit back, lay my head down and sleep. Sometimes I want to let someone else do the work. Well, okay, a lot of the time, I want that. But I know that if God wants me to do it, I better do it. No matter what it is. Some days he wants me to lead. Some days he wants me to follow. I am content in whatever he wants me to do. But if I am going to do something outside my comfort zone, I know that God will be going before me, paving the way and easing the burden of the situation. I may feel uncomfortable, but I will remember that God put me here and he can carry me when I can’t go on.

Footprints in the Sand
One night I dreamed I was walking along the beach with the Lord.
Many scenes from my life flashed across the sky.
In each scene I noticed footprints in the sand.
Sometimes there were two sets of footprints,
other times there were one set of footprints.
This bothered me because I noticed
that during the low periods of my life,
when I was suffering from
anguish, sorrow or defeat,
I could see only one set of footprints.
So I said to the Lord,
"You promised me Lord,
that if I followed you,
you would walk with me always.
But I have noticed that during the most trying periods of my life
there have only been one set of footprints in the sand.
Why, when I needed you most,
you have not been there for me?"
The Lord replied,
"The times when you have
seen only one set of footprints in the sand,
is when I carried you."

Mary Stevenson

Mercy and Grace - June 17, 2009

As a child, the most important thing I wanted to do was obey my parents. Well, usually I did. The first time I realized that I had really disappointed my parents, it hurt. And every time after that it hurt me to see the look in their eyes that I had failed them. The look of sadness and pain I had caused them would just cut me to the quick. So I would try harder to please them. I still have my moments where I disappoint people, but I try very hard, but I am human and I will fail.

I also fail God. I do not want to think about the look of pain in His eyes. Everyday, my mind wanders to things it should not, my mouth says things it should not, and my actions are not very becoming of a Christian. I try every day to ask for the forgiveness I don’t deserve, and every day, God’s grace and mercy fall upon like a waterfall; never ending and comforting. Praise the Lord!

Luke 1:50 His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation.

Romans 11:32 For God has bound all men over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all.

Acts 20:24 However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace.

These verses just exemplify how God will show all who believe in Him and accept Him mercy and grace. Even when we sin, he will forgive us and grant us more mercy and grace.

Praise - June 16, 2009

If it wasn’t for God I would have nothing.
If it wasn’t for God, I would be nothing.
If it wasn’t for God, I could do nothing. Praise His holy name!

Surely I depend on Him for all my needs.
Surely I call on His name to always take the lead.
Surely I fall to my knees and cry Holy! Holy! Holy!. Praise His holy name.

The world has assaulted my senses.
The world has besieged my mind.
The world tries to change my thinking, but I can only Praise His name.

If it wasn’t for God, I would have nothing.
If it wasn’t for God, I would be nothing.
If it wasn’t for God, I could do nothing. Praise His holy name.

Psalm 103: Praise the LORD, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise His holy name.

Update - June 15, 2009

Today, I will give an update on Dad. He is slowly recovering. Friday night after supper, we went over to Mom and Dad’s for a visit. I walked in and he said, “Hi.” I was so happy because I could hear him! His voice was stronger. It didn’t last long though. His voice is getting stronger, but the more he uses it, the less strong it is. But for the first time in six weeks, it was more than a whisper! That is enough to give us hope. He is also feeling better. His energy is coming back little by little, his sense of humor is coming back and you can tell he doesn’t feel sick as much. His energy coming back is great, but he doesn’t like that he can do a little and then tires out so quickly. He also is trying and with a little success, eating. He can eat easily tomato soup. He had a ¼ of a pancake and some scrambled egg. That is encouragement.

Immediate results are what is wanted. But he knows that it took 40 days to get this way, and it will take a lot more before he is totally back to his norm. He probably will not be at his norm ever again, at least physically. But he is still Lew, he is still the same man that he has always been. His voice will probably be a bit different. His eating habits may change because of what he will be able to eat and what he can’t eat.

I am just thankful that he is still here. I am grateful that through this whole situation we have not been alone. I hope that we can say we are thankful for our God and the situations he leads us to. He has helped each of us develop a prayer time and a prayer list. Each of you pray for Dad and Mom. You are like this verse from Colossians: “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.” You have been watchful and devoted yourselves to prayer and being thankful.

Thank you for your prayers, cards, concerns. It’s not over, so keep it up!

Deceit - June 12, 2009

Sometimes, no matter what you do or how well you do it, you feel underappreciated. Take the story of Jacob in Genesis 29. Jacob is looking for a wife. His father, Isaac, told him to go and find a wife from his own family. So off he went and God led him to Rachel. She was the younger of two daughters of Laban we are told about. Jacob did everything right. He asked for her hand in marriage. He gave Laban his services for seven years. Laban agreed.

But, seven years went by and Jacob was ready to marry Rachel. But Laban deceived them. Under the cover of night, Laban gave Jacob his oldest daughter Leah! Jacob did not realize this until morning. I can only imagine the disappointment in all the parties involved; Jacob, Rachel and Leah. Jacob was angry at Laban for tricking him. He went to Laban and let him have it. Apparently Laban didn’t play by the same rules Jacob. He was dishonest. He felt he had a good reason to be, and in their day, he did. The first born daughter is always married before the younger.

How can you trust someone who is sneaky, dishonest, and untrustworthy? How ungrateful Jacob must have become toward his father-in-law. The woman he loved was kept from him because of tradition that he may not have known about. Jacob worked hard and faithfully and yet he was misled into a marriage to someone he didn’t want. Jacob was probably completely frustrated because no matter what he did, Laban didn’t think twice about it hurting him.

How do we deal with this kind of frustration? How can you keep working for someone who misleads you by breaking their promise to you? Only with God’s love and the fruit of Spirit can we take a situation that we can’t control and keep in total control. Galatians 5:22 & 23 says “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”

Each time a situation comes up where you are told you are no good, you are not worth anything, or you are completely deceived by some, look to these words. Put them to practice. Practice is the only way to make them show through your life each day.

44 Years and Holding Strong - June 11, 2009

Today marks the forty-fourth year of my parents life together. There have been many happy times, some sorrow and some times that would have shaken the faith of anyone. There were even predictions before and early on in their marriage that they would never last. Thank goodness those people were wrong!

Marriage is not something to be taken lightly. As most of us know it takes hard work on the part of both spouses. For some couples, doesn’t seem to be effortless? Just watching them you get the sense that they are meant for each other and that they are both giving, caring, and just wonderful? I think each of us know couples like that. I think I pray that no one thinks that of my marriage! I am the first to say that Mike and I love each other, but some days it is not as much fun as others. I know Mom and Dad think that too. I am here to tell you that they are both humans, they love each other more than anything, but that they definitely are not perfect and make messes of each other’s lives as well as their own. The plus is that they have a God who has taught them to love, forgive and repent. But more than that, I believe that God put them together to help each other and help those whose lives they have touched.

How many of you have had some kind of problem and came to both of them for advice. How often do you say just one of their names without the other? I think God looks at these two and smiles when he sees them. They are strong when they need to be, compassionate when it is called for and they let you know when you are out of God’s teaching. They love each and every one of us.

As a child, they were good at keeping their martial differences away from me. But they also didn’t hide the fact that it is one of the hardest things you will encounter. Living with someone else who was raised with a different set of rules, beliefs and morals sometimes make marriage a challenge. Making your own new family rules takes a lot of time. Mike and I are still doing that. Our kids have made new dynamics in that part of our marriage.

The most important words for marriage are trust, faithfulness and love. God does speak on this: Ephesians 5:33 states: “However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.“ 1 Corithians 7:3 says…”The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband.”

How is your marriage? Will it stand the test of time? Will you be around for your next anniversary with your spouse? I hope and pray each of us are. But remember, you gotta work at it!

Willing God's Will June 10, 2009

Sunday, Tim Hill asked the church to pray for God’s will to be done and lead him in the way he needs to go. He joked, sort of, that I, especially need to be wary of that for him! I was a little offended at that, because he was pointing out my sin, to everyone. He was joking, but in a sense he is right. You see, Tim hasn’t been with us very long, but he has become a good friend to me. I don’t want him to leave. But I do realize that I am not in control of this situation. God is. Which brings me to my point, do we really mean we want God’s will to lead us? Do we really want that or do we want to tell God where we should be led?

I will admit that I am a selfish person. I cry when someone dies because I want them here with me, not having a glorified time with God. I get mad when people don’t think about me. I try and do things myself and not use anyone to help. I am selfish. But I am working on that. It’s not easy, but I am trying. I ask God to lead those I pray for to where He wants them, for their situations to be under His control, and that I can support them no matter what.

It is easy for us to think that we have all the answers. We know what is best for everyone. We can tell everyone what to do and life will be grand. But that usually is not the case, is it? Usually our way is filled with sin, sorrow and suffering. God knows better and tells us how we can know his will.

God’s will is in the Bible. READ! “As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the LORD is flawless. He is a shield for all who take refuge in him.” Psalm 18:30 It’s not that difficult if you get a translation that you can read. There are some really helpful versions. Next, pray and ask God what His will is. Jesus taught us to pray like this: "Pray, then, in this way: Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven. “ Matthew 6:9 – 10. Also ask for guidance from a more seasoned Christian, an elder, or the minister. “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisors they succeed” Proverbs 15:22.

Hopefully we can all use these suggestions to help us find God’s will, whatever it may be for the present and the future. May God lift you up and may you pray for me and for Tim.

Encourage June 9, 2009

For a lot of kids, yesterday was the first real day of summer. In my house, this was true. It started off in rare form. Timm woke up late for his weightlifting class. Dad had to pound on the front door to wake him up. He wasn’t late, but he didn’t get any breakfast. He came home with some fun stories of his first day with the “big boys” as I like to call them. They put all the football players together from high school down to junior high. The older boys keep a watch on the younger ones, making sure they are correctly doing each machine and encouraging them. Timm seemed to really like it, but man was he sore! I think he started out gung-ho and they let him go. Now today his muscles will pay for it.

That seems like how God wants us to be. God wants us to encourage new Christians by praying for them, teaching them through examples of our lives and through God’s word and encouraging them by being with them and hanging out with them. We older Christians sometimes get wrapped up in that that we forget that we were in the same place as the new Christians are. We were hungry to know more, but just couldn’t figure out where to begin. New Christians dive in to the Word, but because they are so new at it, if there is no one to help them understand it, they may get discouraged. Their “muscles” will tighten up and if we are not careful, they will lose the little knowledge they have and go back to their old lives.

Now hopefully, Timm will learn a little something from his pain. I think he will go back tomorrow, but maybe with some encouragement he will not do too much his first day. He will be a bit more savvy about how much to lift. It would be wonderful if an older player takes Timm under his wing and helps him out. I pray he won’t get discouraged about how much he should lift at once. I also pray that new Christians won’t get discouraged on their new path. Hopefully a more seasoned Christian veteran will step up and lead a Bible Study for new Christians or take a new Christian under their wing and help them. Will you take this challenge to heart today?

I Thessalonians 5:9 – 18 says “For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him. Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. Now we ask you, brothers, to respect those who work hard among you, who are over you in the Lord and who admonish you. Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other. And we urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone. Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else. Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."

Thankfulness June 8, 2009

Yesterday, our church members revealed how much they love my father. They signed and made a friendship quilt. It is done in red, white, and blue, as fashioned after the wheelchair quilts he makes for the wounded soldiers. We have all kept this a secret for a few months. He had absolutely no clue it was coming.

Yesterday afternoon, we were talking about it. He said he can’t even look at it because every time he tries, “something” gets in his eyes. That “something” is tears. He is so thankful that his emotions gets the better of him. It’s because he knows that the quilt was thought out and made out of love for him.

He does the same thing for other people. Did you know that? For years, after a family member was in the hospital and released, he would buy a nice box of Esther Price candy and take it to the nurses who cared for the patient. He has done that for the nurses working with the radiation and chemo doctors. He shows his appreciation and love for them by giving a little something back. It is not much and probably not something he wants to even talk about.

Thankfulness is something that we expect to be, and not as much as an act. Dad shows that he can feel thankful, but he also does something for someone else as an act. Not just an act of kindness but because he wants to show his emotion.

Many times the Psalmist(s) and others remind us to give God thanks.
Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever. Psalm 118:29
In that day you will say: "Give thanks to the LORD, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done, and proclaim that his name is exalted. Isaiah 12:4
But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. I Corinthians 15:57

In Psalms, the theme of giving the Lord thanks because his loves endures forever is most prevalent. The writer(s) seem to want us to know that God is good and will never not be there. In Isaiah, it is to exalt Him and proclaim His name. In I Corinthians, thankfulness goes to a new level because we now of the claim of Jesus as our Savior! I am most thankful for that!

Pray for those that you are thankful for today. Then act on it. It doesn’t have to be anything other than a card. You’ll know what to do.

Psalm 103 June 5, 2009

Psalm 103
Bless the LORD, O my soul, And all that is within me, bless His holy name.
2Bless the LORD, O my soul, And forget none of His benefits;
3Who pardons all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases;
4Who redeems your life from the pit, Who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion;
5Who satisfies your years with good things,So that your youth is renewed like the eagle.
6The LORD performs righteous deeds and judgments for all who are oppressed.
7He made known His ways to Moses, His acts to the sons of Israel.
8The LORD is compassionate and gracious, Slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness.
9He will not always strive with us, Nor will He keep His anger forever.
10He has not dealt with us according to our sins, Nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.
11For as high as the heavens are above the earth, So great is His lovingkindness toward those who fear Him.
12As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us.
13Just as a father has compassion on his children, So the LORD has compassion on those who fear Him.
14For He Himself knows our frame; He is mindful that we are but dust.
15As for man, his days are like grass; As a flower of the field, so he flourishes.
16When the wind has passed over it, it is no more, And its place acknowledges it no longer.
17But the lovingkindness of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him, And His righteousness to children's children,
18To those who keep His covenant And remember His precepts to do them.
19The LORD has established His throne in the heavens, And His sovereignty rules over all.
20Bless the LORD, you His angels, Mighty in strength, who perform His word,
Obeying the voice of His word!
21Bless the LORD, all you His hosts, You who serve Him, doing His will.
22Bless the LORD, all you works of His, In all places of His dominion;
Bless the LORD, O my soul!

I read this passage today. It has a verse I have been looking for in it. It is verse 12. I love that God doesn’t just forgive, but gets rid of our sins. He takes them and gives us compassion for fearing Him. It is a beautifully written Psalm and one of my favorite. Take time today to read it.

Conversations, June 4, 2009

I talked to my parents a little bit this week. Dad has been to two doctors. The first was the heart doctor. This doctor told him that there was a blockage and one of the valves has a small leak. But he called that minor, compared to what Dad is going through right now, and they are just going to watch all of that for a while. The second doctor was the chemo doctor. He told dad that he is now in the lowest part of the valley, but just starting to slowly start making his way out. He can start trying to eat solid food in a week or so and hopefully his voice will start getting stronger, he will begin to have a bit more energy.

One thing my Mom has missed over the past four weeks is the conversations they had. That is hard for her. It takes a lot of energy to talk, especially when you are trying to talk loud and it only comes out as a whisper, so just a short conversation is enough to wear him down. He still tries, but his throat still hurts so much from the radiation that no one will ever understand unless you have been through it.

But have you ever wondered about your best conversations? I was thinking on this the other day. I have had some conversations that I don’t want to end. I have talked on the topics of customer service, family dynamics, emotions, illness, friendship and love. I speak of my faith in God and my beliefs. But speaking is only half of what a conversation is. The other half is listening. Not only listening, but letting the other person know that you are really hearing them by your body language, facial expressions, as well as your response. In my line of work, I have to be able to hold a conversation with strangers every day. If I am not listening, I could misdirect someone and that could be disastrous.

What about your daily conversation with God? Do you have one? Most of us pray everyday. Do we pray help this person, that situation or do we pray that God’s will be done? Do we sometime throughout the day let God speak? I like to think that is what my Bible reading does for me. During that early morning quiet time, I like to read and see what God has written just for me. It may be a praise, it maybe a warning, it may be a story that will help me someday. I find that if I read early in the day, then I can think about what God is saying to me all day.

God speaks to us in so many ways. It could be His Word, a song, someone else. Do we listen? We should. God listens to us. Our preacher always says that maybe God gave us two ears and one mouth is so we will listen twice as much as we talk. The Psalmist has said, “I will listen to what God the LORD will say; he promises peace to his people, his saints— but let them not return to folly.” Psalm 85:8. So have a conversation. Do your part to talk and to listen. It may be enlightening or even bring peace to you, His people.

Class 2013 June 3, 2009

Yesterday, the 8th grade class received awards. Some received merit roll, honor roll, most improved, most athletic, biggest flirt, best smile, participation in National Junior Honor Society, and most improved in a subject, just to name a few. I talked to several of these awesome kids and told them how proud I was of them. That is something that I am sure most of them do not hear enough off these days. I could brag all day on this particular class, but we all know of them. This was a class that most of the teachers loved. When these kids went on from elementary school to junior high, they were missed. During awards assemblies for the past few years, they were a class that succeeded in receiving more awards on the honor roll, more (over 90) in to National Junior Honor Society, and were bragged on by almost everyone.

This class, the class of 2013 at Monroe Local Schools is also the first class to go from Kindergarten all the way through to 12th grade as a class in this district. The athletes in this class are talented in many areas. As the 7th grade football team, they were undefeated. As the 8th grade football team, they lost one game. There were two boys as wrestlers that qualified for the National Tournament for Junior High School wrestling, and as track and field goes, they had an unbeatable relay team this year. The high school teachers and coaches can not wait to get their hands on their minds, bodies, and souls.

Does that make this class great? Does it make them better people? No. There are still the troublemakers in the class, there are underachievers, drug addicts, truants. They are still kids and still trying to figure out who they are, what they want to be, and who is dating whom. It’s a crazy mixed up world that they live in. They are wanting acceptance by their parents, by their friends, by the world. They put their hopes and dreams in something that isn’t eternal. I pray for these kids every day. I pray that I may say or do something that will help them on this journey and that they have a personal relationship with Christ. Some do, some do not. I am only one person, but God calls on each of us to touch the lives of all those around us by being a holy and acceptable living sacrifice. The acceptance these kids and anyone needs is to not worry about being accepted, but to accept Christ. I Timothy 4:9 – 10 states, “This is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance (and for this we labor and strive), that we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, and especially of those who believe.”

I hope that each of you will pray for all those who you come in contact with. Pray that God will reveal himself through your life, the only Bible some will every read.

Builders for Christ June 2, 2009

Every day for the past few weeks I pass a church in Monroe that seems to be getting ready to build on. There were big construction trucks brought in and the ground was prepared, by smoothing it out and leveled. The workers made sure it was the correct size, and some days it could not be worked on because of the heavy spring rains that seem to be plaguing the area. There seem to be mud and puddles at times.

Last Thursday or Friday, part of the frame was up when I went past. A big sign was hanging from the frame that stated, “BUILDERS FOR CHRIST MARRIETTA, GA.” What a message, I think! Aren’t we all to be building God’s kingdom? God calls each of us to do this. I Corinthians 14:12 states “So it is with you. Since you are eager to have spiritual gifts, try to excel in gifts that build up the church.” He told Peter “And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.” Would you like Christ to say that to you? That is a big responsibility. The workers that are here to help at that church are being blessed. They are putting an addition to the building, and in return, they are being reward on levels that are attainable right now and later in heaven.

Most of us don’t like to work. We like to sit back and let someone else take the lead. That is a problem. What Jesus said to his disciples is still true today. “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field." This is still true today. It doesn’t matter if you are 20 or 60 years of age. There is still something you can do. Maybe it can be as simple as taking a quarter to be a Sunday School Teacher. Sing in the choir, or plan an event for a group. Even leading a Bible Study group is a need. There are always things for us to do in the bulletin. Pray about where you can be a builder for Christ. Then watch as your life becomes a fountain for blessings to overflow into!

Pray for your church, the leaders, ministers, and their spouses.

Beginnings June 1, 2009

Well, today marks the beginning of a few things. First, this is the beginning of my new ministry as a devotion writer. Now I know what you are thinking. Hey you have been doing that for the past 40 days. True, I have. But Dad’s treatments are over, though his journey is not. I will still chronicle his illness and how our family is dealing with it through these writings. But, at this time, he is in a recovery period. How long that will be is any one’s guess. Many of you have asked me to keep this going and I am honored, and humbled that you enjoy my writing. This is also the beginning of summer hours for me at work. We work four 9 hour days, Monday through Thursday, and four hours on Friday. Whoo-hoo! I hope I can survive the 9 hour days!

It is the beginning of a lot of young adults’ passage into “the real world”. I was talking to Lauren and Leslie Bowerman yesterday at Lauren’s graduation party. Lauren starts a new job “in the real world” being a daycare teacher. How exciting! Most of us probably don’t think of it as exciting, but for these young people, it’s their first taste of what life will be like in a few years. My hope for all of them is that they will rely on God to get them through the hardest part and remember to praise him for the easy stuff! My advice to them is that there will be a lot of times where you are so busy, you forget that God is there. He is standing there and you are so overcome with doubt, guilt, emotion, that you can’t even feel his arms carrying you. Who among you fears the LORD and obeys the word of his servant? Let him who walks in the dark, who has no light, trust in the name of the LORD and rely on his God. Isaiah 50:10.

As we walk through “the real world”, let us remember that we should be in it and not of it. If we trust in God, we will get through it by obeying His word and fearing Him.

Note: Dad and Mom came over last evening, just to get out of the house. Dad said that his throat hurt less, but his voice is still a whisper. Keep praying that his voice, vocal chords, muscles, and body start to heal.

Today, pray for the youth of today. May they find their way with God. May we be able to guide them in a Godly manner that is pleasing to Him.