About Me

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My passion is helping others defend themselves and their families. I am an NRA Certified pistol instructor, a NRA Chief Range Safety Officer, leader of TWAW Shooting Chapters - North Cincinnati, and the state leader of TWAW Shooting Chapters - Ohio. I also have a heart for the Lakota people and lead mission teams to the Pine Ridge Reservation each year, am founder and director of Backpacks For Pine Ridge,, and do various volunteer work in my own community. My greatest joy is being a grandma and hanging out with my husband of 30+ years.

Saturday, December 31, 2005

Our new puppy!

Meet the newest member of our family - Tazer, a 6 week old German Shepherd! We still have Jazz our 12 year old Black Lab mix at well. David, you may have the best dog in the world, but I think I have the cutest. ;)

















































Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Giving, Helping, and other Misadventures

I've noticed something that both encourages me, and troubles me. I'm encouraged when I see people wanting to reach out, to do something to make a difference, to help another person in need. That's what we as the body of Christ are supposed to be doing and so few do it that I can't really fault anyone who is at least trying to be helpful. But it does trouble me when I see those good intentions fall short of their intended goal.

I've seen it each year when I take a group of people to an Indian reservation for a short-term mission trip. Each year there are "problem people" on board. They whine, they complain, they criticize me behind my back because things aren't going the way they think they should go. Or there are people who are infactuated with American Indian culture and want to go for that reason. Regardless of how often I tell them that "it's not about THEM", there are always some who just don't get it.

I've seen it too when I've collected things to be taken to the local homeless shelter. People will bring in the worst of what they have. It's as if they take the opportunity to clean out their pantry and bring in whatver they no longer want. One man even brought in peanut butter that was 2 years past the expiration date. In collecting items to take to the hurricane victims, people brought in old ratty clothes - used underwear even. To their credit, the storm victims accepted it graciously, but I cringed inside when we unloaded the truck. Those people had lost everything but they still had their diginity and giving them the things we would otherwise throw away just seemed .... well, wrong.

Currently in our church there is a lady who wants to do something for the children of Grand Isle who were affected by Hurricane Katrina. Her intentions are good and I am glad to see that someone cares enough to try. But again, I think she is going about it in a less than helpful manner. She is collecting money from people at church to give $20 worth of WalMart gift cards to each of the kids for Christmas. Great idea. Not. First, there is not a WalMart near Grand Isle so it may be difficult for the kids to redeem the "gifts". Second, rather than help the local economy get back on it's feet, we are merely supporting our local WalMart. The money will stay right here in Ohio.

I've wondered about why our efforts to give and help often fail and while I'm not in a position to judge anyone's motive, I do wonder if wrong motives are a big reason for our failure. Too often it seems that our giving is not real giving because it's still about us and what we think should happen.

A lot of it I think is simple ignorance. People don't know how to give effectively. They mean well, but they make the common mistake of thinking that what they think is helpful, really is. They do things they can feel good about rather than thinking about how it will affect those they are trying to help. The result is, they leave feeling good about themselves for having done a good deed, while the person/people they are trying to help are left with something less than helpful. I know they mean well, but so did my aunt who constantly criticiszed me also "meant well" but her biting remarks did little to edify me.

Sorry this post is so garbled. I'm running on very little sleep and not really enough time to say what I want to say in the way I want to say it. Maybe I'll edit later. Or maybe not. ;)

Seven Things

I've been tagged! Gary at Poor in Spirit tagged me so here are my answers to the seven questions.

1. Seven things to do before I die:

1. Be the coolest grandma that ever lived

2. Travel to Italy, France, and Ireland with my husband (on vacation, not a mission trip)

3. Go on a safari in Africa

4. Skydiving

5. Be at peace with myself

6. Ride in a fighter jet

7. Write a book (maybe it could be about how I went skydiving in France with my grandkids and then took them on a safari in Africa??)


2. Seven things I cannot do:

1. dance

2. sing (my kids used to roll the car windows UP when I would sing in the car because they were embarrassed for anyone to hear me)

3. math

4. Sit through an entire church service without my mind wandering

5. Speak any language besides english - sad, I know.

6. Allow myself to wear a bathing suit in public

7. Fix my hair correctly

8. I'm cheating and adding an 8th - spell. I can't spell .... at all.



3. Seven things that attract me to my husband (or significant other or best friend):

1. His committment to Christ

2. His integrity - he is the most trustworthy, selfless person I've ever known

3. His laugh - it's unique and weird but it's him

4. His wacked out sense of humor

5. He has a really cute bum

6. He has great legs

7. He puts up with me - not always an easy thing to do


4. Seven things I say most often:

1. actually - I say actually a lot

2. JAZZ !!!- that's my dog's name and she is constantly into things she isn't supposed to be into.

3. coffee (anything from "would you like some coffee", "would you make some coffee", would you like me to make a fresh pot of coffee", to "can we stop and get some coffee" - I'm a big coffee addict and I live with another coffee addict so the word coffee is spoken a lot in our house. )

4. Shhhhoooooot

5. Where's your dad?

6. Are you coming home for dinner today? (to my oldest son)

7. Where are you at? (spoken to any member of my family when they are "out")


5. Seven books (or series) I love:

1. The Message

2. Chronicles of Narnia (have to say that with the movie coming out)

3. Thr3e by Ted Dekker

4. Beyond the Passion (hate the title, we both do, but love the author ;) )

5. Changes that Heal by Henry Cloud

6. C.S. Lewis ( I would read anything he wrote)

7 An Arrow Pointing To Heaven


6. Seven movies I watch over and over again (or would watch over and over again if I had the time):

Oh geez and easy one to answer- except that Johnny Depp has more than 7 movies. ;) OK, seriously, I do have almost all of his movies but there are only a few that I actually watch over and over.

1. Secret Window - I actually wore that one out even though it's not my favorite I do watch it over and over.

2. Edward Scissorhands - my favorite - a beautiful story with a good message

3. The Man Who Cried - depressingly beautiful so I don't actually watch it often

4. Chocolat - reasons in my post below

5. Sleepy Hollow (gotta love the Tim Burton/Johnny Depp duo)

6. Dead Poet's Society (one that doesnt' have Mr. Depp in it)

7. City Slickers - a family favorite


7. Seven people I want to join in, too: (Not fair - Gary tagged everyone I would have, but here are a few others.)

1 Cody

2 Annie

3 Frank

4 Karen

5 Rhymes with Kerouac

6

7

OK, don't shoot me. I don't KNOW anyone else who has not already done this. In fact, I imagine that the folks above have done this already. Maybe instead of naming 2 more people I'll make up my own thingy to tag people with. ;)

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Who Are You?

I attended our choir's Christmas program the other night. It was beautiful, as always, and the musicians just completely outdid themselves. This year it was a bit different.... it featured more of the entire story of the gospel rather than just focusing on Christ's birth. My 20 year-old son played the resurrected Jesus.

That actually freaked me out a bit. For several years I was "Mary" in the Christmas program - until I became too old to be believable as Mary and passed on my sandals to someone else. I've always sort of identified with Mary though - not in terms of her "holiness" but more in terms of her humanity. I know there are many in the Christian faith who have very strong feelings and opinions about Mary and her role as the mother of God. Some go as far as to say she was sinless. I prefer to see her as very, very human, a mother who struggled with the same kinds of things all of us mothers struggle with. Certianly she was special ... chosen by God to parent His Son, but she was in all other respects a regular human girl. I like that about Mary.

But as I was saying, for several years I played her at Christmastime. Perhaps that is why it was a little unsetteling to me to see my own son as the adult Jesus. There are times when I look at my son and think "who are you??" My son is a lot like me in many respects but he is also very different as well ... and there are times when I wonder if I had anything at all to do with raising him. I mean that in all the best ways. Sometimes it baffles my mind to think that he is the amazing young man that he has become becuase I am so very aware of all of my mistakes in raising him. That made me wonder though ... if Mary ever looked at her adult son, Jesus and wondered "who are you?"

I'm sure that Mary above all others knew who He was. She more than anyone else was aware that she had concieved as a virgin. She knew that He was indeed the Son of God. Yet in the shuffle of daily life it is easy to "forget" the things we know to be true. I imagine that there were times when she was jolted back to the knowledge of just who Jesus really was.... when she was forced to pause admist the hussle of her daily responsibilities to wonder again at Jesus' deity and to marvel at how her own story fit into His story.

I know that is what I will be pondering on this Christmas season.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Chocolat

Before I begin I want to apologize for having "disappeared" for a bit. Thanks to those of you who have asked about me.... it has been a really, really difficult time and your prayers for me and my husband are very much apprecited. I know there are many who have suffered at the hands of an abusive and controlling pastor and I feel for those folks, but there are also a number of good, humble, servants who get emotionally and spiritually beaten up in ministry too and I hope that if you have a good pastor, that you let them know how much you appreciate him/her.

Now .... for Chocolat

This is what I'm currently doing in my Sunday School class. We are watching clips of the movie Chocoat. It is not a parable, but I see quite a few parallels between this movie and the gospel. It's a good movie and it's cool to see the same old gospel revealed in a new way. My favorite scenes ....

When the priest is in the pulpit preaching "what is truth? Where will we find truth?" ... and then a rushing wind blows the church doors open. The mayor looks disturbed and gets up and shuts out the wind.

When the grouchy old woman gets her first taste of the chocolat ... and her whole countance changes and she almost giggles. Remember your first taste of God's grace?

When Josephine, a battered wife and pick-pocket who is talked about by everyone in the village and has no friends, gets her first taste of the chocolat and then in fear spits it out when her abusive husband calls for her. Later she works in the chocolat shop making and giving out the chocolat.

When Roux (a gypsy or "river rat") says, "I should warn you. If you make friends with us, you make enemies of others". I have a thing for outcasts. :)

Be sure to check out the Movie Glimpse site for a bible study using the movie Chocolat.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

A Quote

Discover in all things that which shines and is beyond corruption.

Encourage virtue in whatever heart it may have been driven into secrecy and sorrow by the shame and terror of the world.

Ignore the obvious, for it is unworthy of the clear eye and the kindly heart.

Be the inferior of no man, nor of any man be the superior. Remember that every man is a variation of yourself. No man's guilt is not yours, nor is any man's innocence a thing apart.

Despise evil and ungodliness, but not men of ungodliness or evil. These, understand.

Have no shame in being kindly and gentle, but if the time comes in the time of your life to kill, kill and have no regret.

In the time of your life, live--so that in that wondrous time you shall not add to the misery and sorrow of the world, but shall smile to the infinite delight and mystery of it.

- William Saroyan, 1939

Friday, November 11, 2005

Veteran's Day

I am grateful to the many men and women who have served and are still serving my country. I really do feel that I owe my own freedom to them so even though this is a busy day for me, it's not too busy for me to say "Thank you"! Those little words do not seem nearly "enough" to express all I would really like to express but they are from my heart.

I would also like to ask anyone reading if they would remember the name Matt Maupin when they come before our Father. He is from the Cincinnati area and has been missing in action in Iraq for many months now. Last week they found some items that they thought belonged to him and might clue them in on his whereabouts, but it turned out the items did not belong to him, so the mystery of what happened to him and where he is, is still a mystery. If this were my son I think I would have gone mad a long time ago. I suppose, putting myself in his mother's shoes, I would want prayers that (1) he was still alive, unharmed, and would be found soon. Those may seem unlikely outcomes for such a situation but our God is a big God and able to do many things we cannot imagine.

*Note: The flag in the picture is currently flying in Grand Isle, Louisiana. The picture does not do it justice, but if you look closely, the flag is torn and battered from Hurricane Katrina. It still waves above Town Hall as a symbol of a community's will to survive. I could have found a nicer picture but I think this captures the spirit of the American people better than a pretty picture of our flag.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Competition

It's sad when we get into the mind set that we are competing with other ministries. I am seeing a bit of this in my church lately and it just makes me sad. There seem to be a number of other outreach ministries in our church who feel they are in competition with the hurricane relief efforts for dollars. I've heard some "behind the back" criticism of the efforts, and some not so behind the back comments such as "we didn't do too badly considering that we're competing with hurricane relief".

I understand their feelings. It is just basic fear that they will not have "enough" and that the people they are reaching out too will suffer for it. I really believe their feelings are born out of love for the people they serve. But I wonder if we don't cut our own throats when we begin to fear...

I am convinced that God has quite enough money for all of the things He has ordained. I try to look at it this way, If God wants it to happen, it will ... there will be enough of what we need to do it. And if He doesn't want it to happen then I don't want to be out there pushing something He is not behind. I never want to have such a grip on any ministry that I can't let go when God says it's time to let go. I never want anything to be "my" ministry - I want it to be His, and that means He's the one who has to worry about providing for it. It also means He can shut it down anytime He sees fit.

A Higher Level of Faith

Each year I take a group of people on a short-term mission trip to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation to do a VBS with the children there. Our main mission there is not the VBS, but simply to build relationships and to love the kids there as much as possible in a week's time. We try to "preach the gospel always", and "when necessary, use words".

Each year poses it's own set of difficulties in pulling the trip off. The first year I was scared spitless because I had never before attempted anything remotely like a mission trip. Oh, I had been on some mission trips - to Romania, Haiti and to the Pine Ridge Rez., but I had never had the enoumous responsibility of planning one and seeing it carried out. The fear and self-doubt was quite an obstacle for me to deal with that year.

Foolish me thought that the second year would be easier since by then I had some experience. WRONG! It was harder. A LOT harder. The second year I had a lareger team and there were some on the team that, how shall I say it ..... were a pain in the butt. I'll not go into all the details here simply because it's all history now, and doesn't really matter. But it was challenge enough for me to give serious thought to stopping any future trips. The only reason I was inclined to do this again this year was because I can't turn my back on the kids at Pine Ridge.

So, this year, we're off again. It takes us about a year to pull together the money and plan this thing so I ask for a commitment from people really early on. This year the deadline for making the first non-refundable payment of $100 was last week. I had said that we really need at least 15 people for a trip to the possible. It is just too hard to handle 100 kids and do all we do with a crew of less than 15. The deadline came and we had 14 people. Whew! That was close. Should we do it?? I decided that it would be a stretch, but we would go ahead and give it a go.

Last Sunday
Then last Sunday one of our crew told me he had to back out. He had asked for the one week grace period that I always give when a payment is due so he was supposed to give me his $100 this past Sunday. Instead his father told me that they simply didn't have the money. Too many things had broken around their house and made it impossible for them to come up with his payment. I understood. I hated it because (1) we really needed him, and (2) he is a great teenager who loved it there last year and hoped to go into missions full-time someday.

I came home from church Sunday and thought, "OK God, maybe 15 people was going to be hard, 14 a stretch, but 13 I'm just not sure we can do. Maybe You're telling us this is a year to stay home"???? I prayed about it and suddenly I remember that I've already seen ONE miracle regarding this trip. My friend was about to back out becuase she needed $300 for her families first payement and they didn't have it either. Just before the deadline a co-worker gave her a check for $300 - not knowing that was the exact amount she needed. So I figured God probably did want this trip to take place. At our evening service I went back to the mother of the teenager who had to drop out and told her that with her permission I would put him back on the team and that I would find his first $100 payment somehow by midnight that night - not to worry about it. They were extremely grateful and the trip is back on. And before I left the service that evening, I had $100 in my pocket.

I believe that God may be calling us to a higher level of faith. I believe He has enough money, it's just a matter of trusting Him for it.

What's the name of your God?

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Update on my son

It's been a troubling week so I've not gotten to blog as I had hoped. I'm really struggling and bent out of sorts to put it mildly. I have managed to get quite a bit accomplished around the house though, so that's one positive.

And another positive is that I think we might have found out what is wrong with my son. He has Mono. All of that trouble for Mono. At least it's nothing serious and can be fixed with rest and time. Thanks to everyone who said a prayer for him.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Calling

On his blog, Michael has asked "what is your calling"? I thought I would respond here rather than clutter up his comment section with a long post.

I was actually just thinking about this earlier today. I hadn't really thought of it as a calling, but it is my passion and it is something that other people notice in me, so I suppose that may be considered an indication of a calling. I tend to be drawn to those individuals that are often seen as outsiders ... people who are weird, or differnet, or poor, or messed up in some way. One of my best friends has called me "the patron saint of lost causes". Let me assure you he did not mean that as a compliment ... he was rather upset with me at the time he said it, but I suppose it may be true in the sense that I find myself drawn to the people no one else cares about.

Part of this comes out of my own feelings of being an outsider. I can relate to people who don't quite fit in or who struggle in some way because I have experienced not fitting in and struggle for most of my own life. My heart goes out to people in pain and it's only natural that I want to let them know that someone cares.

Another reason is simply that I believe that the only things that matter in life are to love God and love other people. I really can't think of anything else that matters a whole lot. I also find it difficult to ignore Matthew chapter 25.

The thing is, a lot of people believe that we should love ... and a lot of people do try to love others but they do so expecting something in return. I don't believe that is the kind of love God calls us to. In fact, I don't believe that is love at all. For a long time I expected a return, or a response of some sort ... or at least some evidence that my caring mattered to the person I was reaching out to. But I've learned that even that is not something that can be expected. Love is most pure when it is given with any expectaion. The person may or may not love us back, they may or may not change, they may or may not care that we care, and they may never find Christ because of our love. It is simply the loving that we are to do and without regard for the results.

That is not to say that I find this calling easy to live out. I fail miserably at times. I actually find it much easier to love those who have been cast aside by others than to love the person in the pew next to me who thinks they have it all together. Thankfully I serve a gracious and forgiving God.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Real Faith

For anyone interested, I am adding daily updates complete with pics from the Grand Isle trip over at my other blog.

A lot of you who read here probaby read Layla's blog as well, and for those of you who don't, why not? It's a great blog! Check it out sometime. Layla is going to see U2 tomorrow and I am so happy for her even if I am a bit jealous. Anyway, I read this on her blog a few days ago (I think - I tend to lose track of time) and just loved it. I dont know Bono or pretend to know the state of his soul but I know I can relate to a lot of what he says in this interview.

Rolling Stone's Interview with Bono

Do you pray or have any religious practices?
I try to take time out of every day, in prayer and meditation. I feel as at home in a Catholic cathedral as in a revival tent. I also have enormous respect for my friends who are atheists, most of whom are, and the courage it takes not to believe.

How big an influence is the Bible on your songwriting? How much do you draw on its imagery, its ideas?
It sustains me.

As a belief, or as a literary thing?
As a belief. These are hard subjects to talk about because you can sound like such a dickhead. I'm the sort of character who's got to have an anchor. I want to be around immovable objects. I want to build my house on a rock, because even if the waters are not high around the house, I'm going to bring back a storm. I have that in me. So it's sort of underpinning for me.
I don't read it as a historical book. I don't read it as, "Well, that's good advice." I let it speak to me in other ways. They call it the rhema. It's a hard word to translate from Greek, but it sort of means it changes in the moment you're in. It seems to do that for me.

You're saying it's a living thing?
It's a plumb line for me. In the Scriptures, it is self-described as a clear pool that you can see yourself in, to see where you're at, if you're still enough. I'm writing a poem at the moment called "The Pilgrim and His Lack of Progress." I'm not sure I'm the best advertisement for this stuff.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Things Are Beginning to Quite Down ... I Think

First and update on my son - he's doing some better. He saw two doctors on Friday. His MRI came back fine but other tests showed that he had a UTI. So, he is on a high powered anitbiotic and his fever is down a bit. On Monday I am to call the doc and let her know what his temp has been over the weekend and they will have yet other test results in by then. At that point we'll see where we go. For the moment though, he is feeling OK and has only a low grade fever. Thank God!

Tonight our group leaves for Grand Isle. I'm sad but I'll survive. I do have a week off of work though which is definately a GOOD thing. It's been ages since I've had a week off with nothing to do and I plan to enjoy every minute of it. Usually when I have time off work I am on a mission trip. Those are great and I love doing them but it is not a vacation by any means.

And it looks like we will have a crew for next summer's trip to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. I talk more about this on my Pine Ridge blog but for those who don't visit there - every year I take a group of people to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. It's work... a LOT of work and it can be really stressful putting a trip like that together but it is SO cool too. I love it. It really is one of my passions, doing mission work. It's great to build relationships with some of the Lakota kids and it's great to see God do a work in the hearts of the people who go with us. It was looking as if we might not have a group this year but .... it's happening even while I'm not really paying attention to it for being busy with Grand Isle. God did yet another miracle ... one lady was hoping her entire family could go but they are really not able to pay for it. The deadline for signing up and making the first payment is tomorrow. Earlier in the week she did not have the money BUT a lady at her work gave her a check for $300.00 which was exactly the amount she needed for their payments! I just love it when God does stuff like that.

I'm going to go see my friends off, pick up some favorite snacks and a movie and maybe I'll get to blog some this week!!

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Not All Treasure is Silver and Gold, Mate.

Where is your treasure? I've been thinking about that, and asking myself to answer that honestly. Yes, I have pirates on my mind a lot these days. I'm still working on planning the party for Grand Isle and it has a pirate theme so it seems that everything is taking on a pirate flavor these days. Even my shopping for stuff for the party has become a "treasure" hunt rather than a shopping trip. I do like to make things fun when I can even if it is silly. Then today I open my bible and read,



Don't hoard treasure down here where it gets eaten by moths and corroded by rust or - worse! - stolen by burglars. Stockpile treasure in heaven, where it's safe from moth and rust and burglars. It's obvious, isn't it? The place where your treasure is, is the place you will most want to be, and end up being.
Matt. 6:19-21


So, where do I most want to be?? Well, it depends. Latley I've most wanted to be in bed sleeping because I've gotten so little of it, and then I think that generally I most want to be at home with my family. I'm a real homebody and just love to sit and watch TV or a movie with my family around. In the daytime I really love nothing more than putting together mission trips. It wears me out and sometimes the crew can drive me crazy wtih questions and whining and not doing what they're supposed to be doing, but basically, I love it.

But, I think, if I had to narrow it all down to just one thing ... I would have to say that I most like to be in the presence of God. Whether that is here on this earth or in heaven in the next, that is my hope and my joy .... to simply enjoy Him.

Unfortunatly, life often takes me away from the place I most want to be. Things need to be done... kids need attention, dishes need washing, dinner needs cooked ... arghh... even as I type this my son's doctor called and needs to see him today ... and I had a full day already. :\ I love the line in the Rich Mullins' song, that says, "Stuff of earth competes for the allegiance I owe only to the Giver of all good things". That's my life.

So when I feel the tug of daily life it helps to remember what Paul said in Romans.




Everything comes from Him;
Everything happens through Him;
Everything ends up in Him.
Always glory! Always praise!
Yes. Yes. Yes.

So here's what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday oridinary life - your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking around life - and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing yoou can do for Him.


So, I'm off to try to live this out at least for today.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Walking in the Dark

Sas The Chocolatholic has a really great post on her blog about Searching For Purpose. You really should check it out. It got me to thinking about how God so rarely shows us what His plans are. Sas says, and I agree, that God rarely shows us His whole plan .... but that it's usualy in hindsight that we look back and see where He was leading us. That's the essence of walking by faith and not by sight.

I have to say that this both irritates me to no end, and thrills me at the same time. On one hand, I'm one of those people who need a lot of assurance that I'm doing OK .... that I'm doing what He wants me to do and not just following my own whims. But on the other hand it's a greater adventure to step out on faith. Since I LOVE adventure, I really wouldn't choose to live any other way.

Then there are times when God simply doesn't make ANY sense. It's in those times that my faith is truly tested. I continue to follow Him simply because I really do believe that He is in control and that He does in fact know what He's doing, even when it appears that He doesn't.

I'm in the midst of one of those times right now.

It is now certain that I will not be going to Grand Isle. My son is no better. In fact, he is worse. He is scheduled for an MRI on Monday (Halloween). After the trip to the ER he began running a fever. He's also had a headache since Tuesday. He's now managed to completly baffle 4 doctors.

Your prayers for him are really appreciated.

I would love to write more but it's late and I've worked a LOT of hours this weekend and am running on very little sleep. SO, I'll go get some sleep and then tomorrow... I'll just keep walking.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Blogging

When I first started blogging I questioned why I should do it, or why I would want to do it. I decided that it would be good for a number of reasons: (1) typing about my "conversations" with God would help me to focus on where I'm at in my walk with God, (2) it would force me to think, something I don't normally do a lot of, and (3) it would force me to write, even if it's just on a blog and I'm giving little thougth to how I write. It was something personal ... something that I didn't mind if others read, but nothing that I expected anyone to read, much less respond to.

Then a funny thing happened. People read it. And people responded. And that was cool! I heard things that seem so foreign to me but that felt good to hear. Things like "you're thoughts are always interesting" or, "you write really well" or some other such stuff. I never hear that from anyone else. In fact, most of the people who know me in daily life never ever tell me that my thoughts are worthy of a listen. Frankly, it shocked me that anyone would care to read what I have to say. But it was nice.

Then I noticed that no one that I know in my daily life ever reads my blog. My husband has read it once, maybe twice. My friends seldom ever check it out. I'm shy by nature and people always tell me that I'm hard to get to know, yet here is an opportunity to get to know me and what makes me tick and so few take the opportunity. Sometimes that hurts. Here is "me" out here, being open and vulnerable and sharing my thoughts and feelings - a chance to let people in and when those closest to me don't read, well ..... sometimes it feels as if they don't care. At the same time, total strangers, all from different countries, do read and they apparently like what I have to share. Baffeling. I've concluded that it doesn't really matter if they read or not though since the purpose of my blog is just to journal about my own walk with Christ.

Today I've read at Michael's blog about a bit of advice to not share your blog with those closest to you. And I've read a number of blogs where people seem to share a feeling of disappointment when there are few comments on their blogs. So, I'm wondering .... how do you all feel about this? Is my experience similar to yours?

Why I Am A Christian

I am a Christian because I have seen the love of God lived out in the lives of people who know Him.

The Word has become flesh and I have encountered God in the people who have manifested (in many “unreasonable” ways ) His presence—a presence that is more than convincing—it is a presence that is compelling.

I am a Christian, not because someone explained the nuts and bolts of Christianity to me, but because there were people who were willing to be the nuts and bolts.

Through their obedience to the truth and not necessarily through their explanation of it, they held it together so that I could experience it and be compelled to obey.

- Rich Mullins

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

I Hate When This Happens

I've just returned from a trip to the ER with my 16 year-old son. He has been having some physical problems that continue to puzzle the doctors. Tonight it was much worse than usual, hence the trip to the ER. The process for determining exactly what is going on is going to take time. As of now he has 3 doctors completely baffled and we have an appointment with a 4th doc. Now we're looking at an MRI - which our insurance does not cover. Your prayers are really appreciated.

My son is my first concern but on a more selfish note, I'm really bummed because I will not be able to go to Grand Isle in a couple of weeks. I just don't think I should leave him home with this kind of stuff going on. I know it's the right decision, and it is what I want to do, but I still feel greatly disappointed that I won't be able to go. I'll still plan the party and I'll still do the rest of the shopping and pack it all up. I just won't be there to see the kids enjoy it. There are other issues too that cause me some concern about not being able to go but I can't share those here (never know who's reading), but this will be a time of testing for me in a lot of differnet ways.

OK God. I'm listening .... what am I supposed to learn from this???

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

The Halloween Party

When we first found out that we would be going back to Grand Isle, Louisiana to help with Hurricane relief, I realized that we would be there over Halloween and thought it would be nice to do something for the kids on the island. My husband (Brian) talked to one of the city councilman at Grand Isle on Friday and found out that the city is not going to be having Trick-or-Treat this year. I suppose that they are still in survival mode so something like Trick-or-Treat is just out of the question for them. Brian told him that we would like to do something for the kids and he thought that would be GREAT! SO, I have a party to plan - for 100 kids! Now I've never planned a party before. We had small birthday parties for our kids when they were small but nothing this big. So, I've been running around buying prizes and collecting candy from our church to make up treat bags.

All of this has produced a kind of conflict in me. I know that a lot of Christians do not do the Halloween thing. Many are of the opinion that it is evil and that we should have nothing to do with it at all. I understand their point. I really do. I've been on every side of this issue myself but have come to think that it's really just fun and nothing more. Oh, I don't discount Halloween's pagan beginnings, and I don't' doubt the presence of evil at all. I know evil. I've seen it firsthand.

When we lived in Alabama we witnessed many things that could only be explained by demonic activity. The town we lived in had a lot of Satan worshipers, it was the national headquarters for the KKK, and had a huge child porn ring operating out of it. There was so much evil in that little rural town that the Capitan of the police department there ( a good friend of ours ) said that we would not sleep if we knew all that went on there after dark.

I do know that I've never encountered such blatant demonic power at any other time or place. It required us both to take a crash course in spiritual warfare because we had never seen or experienced anything remotely like that before. I know I'll never forget when our old typewriter typed out a whole paragraph with perfect spelling and perfect grammar - by itself! The manufacturer assured us that was impossible, but it happened. The message it typed could have been taken as a threat. A threat by what?? Or WHOM?? And I'll never forget seeing my infant son tossed across the room by something unseen. THAT made me MAD! If Satan thought he had a fight on his hands before that, well.... that just made it personal and wasn't about to back down then.

It was in Alabama that I learned not to fear Satan or his power. I do have a healthy respect for it and know it's nothing to be messed with out of ignorance, but I don't fear it. God is infinitely more powerful.

So, what to do about Halloween. I've come to the conclusion that Jesus is Lord of it all... that He can use anything given or done in HIS spirit to bring glory to Himself. Even a Halloween party in Grand Isle. Many of the kids there have lost everything they own. Halloween may not be a big deal when people are struggling just to survive, but if you ask any kid, Halloween is a big deal. By having a Halloween party, we will give them a sense of normalcy. And I would imagine that they will always remember that a church somewhere cared enough about the things that mattered to them one Halloween night. What that might do to reach a little one for Him, only God knows.

Monday, October 17, 2005

H.A.L.T.

It's now Monday morning so I am no longer tired, but weekends are really tough for me. I only work 3 days a week but I work really long shifts and I work 3rd shift so it seems I'm always tired on the weekends - even when I do get to sleep some.

Being tired is really not good for me. At all. It makes it hard for me to endure church on Sunday (I work a 14 hour shift and get off an hour before I have to teach an adult Sunday School class and then go to morning worship service). Even when the preaching is good I still have so much trouble listening. I get sleepy or my mind wanders. Usually the music touches me, but that's probably because most songs are only a few minutes long - about the length of my attention span.

The biggest problem for me though is that being tired makes me really sink into self-hatred. Self-acceptance is my biggest struggle in life and beign tired just makes matters worse. By Sunday night I don't like who I am inside or out much at all.

That presents yet another problem. When I'm feeling so crummy I need extra assurance from people that "I"m OK". But Sundays are usually the lonlinest day of the week. At church people either gather with their usual group of friends and I always feel like an intruder if I attempt to join them. What usually happens though is that there is someone there who needs something from me and I get cornered by a needy person at a time when I have little to give. Unfortunately, because I am a pastor's wife, that is when I'm supposed to have everything to give. I'm supposed to be at my best on Sunday, and that is when I'm at my very worst.

I've identified the problem but I have no idea what to do about it. I can't quit my job - not for at least another year. And switching shifts is out of the question too since all the other shifts are filled with people who have been there longer than I have been. Besides, there really is not a 1st shift anyway, and if I did work 2nd shift I would literally never see my family and that's something I'm not willing to do. I do like my job. It fits me pretty well. But I really hate the hours I work and there just isn't a simply solution to that.

So, today is a day to recover - in all senses of the word. I've already slept late so next on my agenda is to go grab a second cup of coffee and then read some in my Bible.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Do I Want to be Needed or Need to be Wanted?

At the beginning of the movie Benny & Joon, a story about a mentally ill young woman (Joon) who lives with her sometimes overprotecive brother (Benny), William H. Macy's character asks, "What does it mean to need somebody? I've been thinking about that today.... and wondering if indeed I do want to be needed. I dont' think I do. Just this morning I've been needed on a number of occassions.

  • Work called - they asked me to stay longer on Sunday. (I'm already working a 12 hour shift but they want me to stay longer).
  • A co-worker called, asking me to work her shift today (which would mean that I would work at least a 20 hour shift and possibly a 24 hour shift - I said "no".)
  • A friend called asking me to do her a favor - something she could have done herself.
  • My son needed me to help him fix his car.
  • My husband needed me to go to the store and get some oatmeal, brown sugar and milk - I forgot the milk so I'll have to go back.

In the movie, Joon eventually falls in love with an oddball character (Sam) who sees her as a human being who "aside from being a little mentally ill, seems pretty normal". Joon's brother Benny struggles with her new romance. Benny thinks she needs to stay with him because she needs him to look out for her, something Sam can't do because he's so ill equiped to deal with life himself. But is it Benny that needs Joon to stay sick? The movie has a lot to say about being needed vs. being wanted. I don't much care for being needed. I'd rather be wanted. I'm much rather have people calling me to say "let's get together" rather than to say, "will you do this for me".

I imagine that God is the same way. I have a feeling that He would much rather us want Him than need Him. And more importantly, I think He probably wishes that we would take joy in the fact that we are wanted by Him rather than longing to be used by Him. Being used by God implies that He needs us. He doesn't. God can use anything or anyone - believe or not. He can use a Jackass, and does quite often. Being used by God is not the big deal that a lot of people make it out to be. It's nice, it's fun, sometimes it's exciting, but it doesn't come close to knowing that we are wanted by Him.

Attractive Faith

"We try to make Christianity attractive, and that's like saying I'm going to make the Rockies attractive. How are you going to do that? By letting them be what they are. I think nothing is more compelling than to see people who have the Spirit, living in the Spirit, and not trying to advertise, just being what they are."

- Rich Mullins

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Walk On

I was thinking about the story my son wrote ... about the event that it is based on... and that got me to thinking about the church....

As much as I complain and criticize the church, I am constantly amazed by the extraoridinary examples of faith I see lived out before me in the church. Sometimes on a Sunday evening I like to slip into the back just after the service has started and hide in the back pew. I like to sit there and just look .... look at all the people in the pews in front of me, and remember....

All around me I see people like "Bonnie" (in the story below) who endured something I cannot begin to fathom. How do people deal with accidently running over and killing a best friend? I'm sure I'd go insane if I were in her shoes. It was hard to be sure. For a while we were all very concerned about "Bonnie". But I watched as she courageouly walked back into church and took her place in the pews. I remember the surge in my own faith as I watched this amazing woman do what I was sure I could not have, and I thought, maybe, just maybe, if I ever had to go through something like that, I might make it. She did more for my faith in that single act than many sermons have done.

I see people who have lost everything they've worked for their whole lives, homes that they built with their own hands, homes that had every memory of their children's growing up tucked away into each corner. And I've helped them pack up the memories and move on not knowing where they would go or what they would do next. But they moved on, their faith unshaken. They still occupy the same pew each Sunday.

I see people who have walked back into the church and took their place just a day after losing a child and I've wondered where their strength comes from. I don't think I could do it.

I've wondered at people who walk in and take a seat and fight tears as they struggle with the lonliness and self doubt that a divorce brings.

I see a woman who left her country, her family, her life as she knew it to move here and start a new family. I see the children her parents have never seen, and I've seen her pain as she struggles with a new life in a strange country. Yet I also see the joy that only Jesus can bring .... shining all over her face every time she walks through the door.

Around me I see folks who have been badly hurt by another church and yet they have the courage and faith to come and try again, not knowing if they're experience here will be any different.

I wonder at these people. I'm pretty sure if I had to go through some of the things they have, I'd be at home, not at church. I'd be in a dark room somewhere railing at God, not sitting in a pew worshiping Him.

I'm not saying that these folks are perfect. Trust me, they are not. We have a church full of screwed up people. Sometimes they drive me crazy. But their faith astounds me. Their ability to pick up the pieces, give them to God, and trust that things will eventually be okay even though they have no indication that things will ever be okay agian, humbles me. And it encourages me. I see that bad things can and do happen to people but they do survive, mind, body, and spirit intact. And I think, these are the most amazing people in the world, and if for no other reason, if I ever had any doubts about God and his faithfulness, their lives would be reason enough for me to believe.

I'm reminded of a song by U2, you know that Irish rock band who somehow manages to capture the essence of faith in their lyrics...

Walk On

And love is not the easy thing
The only baggage that you can bring
Love is not the easy thing
The only baggage you can bring Is all that you can't leave behind...
And if the darkness is to keep us apart
And if the daylight feels like it's a long way off
And if your glass heart should crack And for a second you turn back
Oh no, be strong
Oh, oh Walk on,
walk on

What you got, they can't steal it
No, they can't even feel it
Walk on, walk on
Stay safe tonight

You're packing a suitcase for a place none of us has been
A place that has to be believed, to be seen
You could have flown away A singing bird in an open cage
Who will only fly, only fly, for freedom
Oh, oh Walk on, walk on

What you got, they can't deny it
Can't sell it, or buy it
Walk on, walk on
You stay safe tonight

And I know it aches And your heart, it breaks
You can only take so much
Walk on...
Walk on...

Home... Hard to know what it is, if you never had one
Home... I can't say where it is, but I know I'm going
Home...
That's where the hurt is...

And I know it aches And your heart, it breaks
And you can only take so much
Walk on...

Leave it behind
You got to leave it behind

All that you fashion
All that you make
All that you build
All that you break
All that you measure
All that you feel

All this you can leave behind

All that you reason
All that you sense
All that you scheme
All you dress-up
All that you've seen
All you create
All that you wreck
All that you hate

Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ's love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture ....

None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us. I'm absolutely convinced that nothing - nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable - absolutly nothing can get between us and God's love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us. - Romans 8

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Darkness of the Sun

OK, I'll admit it, I'm a proud mom. I'm proud of my 20 year-old, and I'm also proud of my 16 year-old. Today I happened to read a story that my 16 year-old wrote for his English class and I was stunned. Who knew the boy could be so descriptive! My 20 year-old read it and asked, "Who are you??" LOL So, I'll post the story here. The story is based on real events that a year ago this past Father's Day, shatterd us all. My son did not know all of the details so he filled in some of it with his imagination, but the basic story is a real one. The names of some have been changed.

Darkness of the Sun
BY: Logan Buriff


On this particular summer morning, the freshly slivered grass felt like walking on gravel when bare footed. The wind gently spoke secrets in your ear and the dark muscular cirrus clouds tumbled upon the horizon, the screen door to the cabin raddled with fear as the storm approached. Even with the rain starting to sprint down from the heavens, there was a sense of peace inside the cabin. It was a tradition to come to the lake every year for this group of friends. It was a place where great moments were always found, but soon all these moments would be shadowed by a single bitter event.

Later on while the thunder clouds strolled away and the sun began to shine its greatness, the clan of friends made their ways to the boats. Pam and Anna were taking a swim in the chilly water while Bonnie piloted one of the two boats. Matthew had been starving to try the water tubes out again this year so he was the first to go for a spin. All of Bonnie’s attention was like a sniper on a suspect, focused in on Matt. Soon enough the vessel slowly began to move. Then it was moving faster and faster, and as soon as the boat was moving in a constant, smooth pace, a horrifying scream was heard. Pam and Anna had been hit. Pam had given her youth group, her family, her life, up for this little girl. Pam had shetlered the little girl Anna like a turtle shell covers it body, so Anna could grow up and live her life. She gave the ultimate sacrifice for her, she was a brave hero on that mothers day.

Now this lake that had been filled with passionate memories is stained for life, like a black shirt with a giant bleach spot on it, it will always be there, like Pam was and still is today.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Two Women

We got a call last night from our group that left to take furniture and household items to the hurricane victims. The thing that always floors me in these relief efforts is the gratefulness of the people who have lost everything. The pastor's wife in one of the churches in Mississippi said, "You'll never know how many lives you have touched here". That got me to thinking .... do any of us ever know how many lives we touch - even those who just go about living their normal daily lives can't help but to touch others in ways they often don't realize. Let me share about twi women who have changed my life as they went about their daily routine and were unaware of the impact they were having.

My English professor at Miami University. I'll leave her anonymous since she may not appeciate me posting her name on the internet. In my early 30's I set about going back to college to finish my education. At the time I was really lacking in confidence. Actually that is a tremendous understatement. Because of some earlier experiences I was convinced that I was not college material .... that I was completely stupid, and in fact, maybe even mildly retarded. Going back to school took enormous courage. Especially since the college I attended had a reputation for being academically tough. What if I failed? What if I proved myself right and revealed to the world just how inadequate and inept I really was? In college the truth would be revealed and I just might show everyone all of my glaring inadequaces.

My first class was a Literature and Comp. class. The assignment was simple - to read literature and then write a meaningful paper about what we had read. I remember very well the first day of class when the professor explained how she worked and what she expected from us. I sank as she told us that five gramatical errors would get us a failed paper! I left class that day feeling sure that I was in deep soup and had made a terrible mistake by attempting college.

But something really strange happened over the course of that semester. I did well! Let me just break here to say THANK GOD FOR SPELL CHECKER!! It wasn't the grades that kept me going, although those were nice, but it was the comments she wrote on each of my papers that really made the difference for me. I won't go into detail but I will say that becuase this gifted teacher simply did her job God used this woman who didn't even know Him to restore a bit of my confidence that had long been lost. Now, hopefully she's not reading blogs these days or she may be disappointed in one of her students. :)

The second woman is also a professor although her impact on my life came about through some tragic events.

When I walked into Sherry Corbett's summer criminology class in 2002 I had no idea how my life was about to change. I had every intention of completing my degree in Psychology with a minor in Criminology and then going on to get a MA in counseling. That was the plan and I was well on my way. Only a few more classes and I would have my BA. I enjoyed that sememster ... we studied murder. Admittedly it was a bit creepy to come out of class late at night and walk alone on the dark campus to my car, but I have always been interested in human behavoir and what makes people do the things they do so I was thrilled to be studying serial killers. And Sherry was a great professor. Her enthusiam was contagous. She was so full of life and so excited about what she was doing that it was no wonder that she consistently rated as one of the most popular professors on campus. The last week of class rolled around and we were all a bit anxious about the upcoming final exam. On the day of the exam we walked into class and immediately sensed that something was out of place. Sherry who had always been there early to chat with students was missing. A man from the department of Sociology was filling in for her that night. After everyone arrived we learned that Sherry had been murdered just 2 nights before. To say that we were shocked and saddned doesn't even begin to describe our feelings. Somehow we managed to finish the semester but my life would not be the same again - ever.

Let me just say that Sherry was a great teacher. She taught with a very "hands on" approach. She took us to jail and to a maximum security prison, not to visit inmates, but to be in there with them for several hours listening to them ... and watching our backs. Her lectures were not dull in any sense of the word. She bounced from one side of the room to the other often climbing up on her desk (she was short) to make a point. But aside from what she taught me about criminology, she taught me more about life.

Sherry's thing was "you can curse the darkness or you can light a candle". She lived that out in her life in a variety of ways. I did not. I was a complainer. A criticizer. I was especially critical of the church. I said it was becuase I cared about the church and I'm sure that was part of it, but I was also part of the problem becuase of my negative attitude. I had been one to look about and see all that the church "should" be doing and wasn't. My heart, my passion, is reaching out to the outcasts of the world - those that don't fit in. The homeless, the addicts, and all of us "normal" people who feel so abandoned or judged by the church. As I looked about my congregation and many others (though mine was the one I was concerned about) I didn't see anything like that happening. I heard a lot of excuses, some probably legitimate. But it just irritated me to no end to see what I construed as a lack of careing for anyone outside our walls. For years I had complained about it. Loudly.

When Sherry died the fact that life was short and uncertain hit home in a big way. I realized that I didn't have much time. That even if I lived the 70 or so years that is average, that wasn't much time. I didn't have time to wait for boards and committies to "do" something. So, I set about doing it myself - with our without their permission. Hence, my reputation as reckless and a rebel. (OK, so the tattoo and the '68 Mustang might have had something to do with that as well.)
I dropped out of school with only 3 classes to go before graduation. I realized that (1) I coudln't do anything with a degree in Psy. that I couldn't already do, and (2) that I was tired of spending years preparing to live my life and not really living it. I started the Matt. 25 Project - which was a movement in our church to bring to light some opportunities for people to serve outside the church walls. We had a Sunday evening service devoted to this cause - complete with a candle lighting. :) The goal was simple - to let people in the pews know what they could do to be the church out there in our community. I believe that there are people hungering to make a difference and to be Jesus with skin on to others but they often don't know how or where to start. The Matt. 25 Project was simply to let them know how and where. We do not have a committee anymore and many would say that The Matt. 25 Project is dead. I disagree. We have a number of people within our congregation who are serving. One lady volunteers at a local ministry to street kids. A group of retired men regularly go to Eagle's Nest to do all sorts of manual labor. (Eagle's Nest is the home that my former pastor begin when he and his wife adopted several special needs children.) And we take yearly mission trips to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation to work with the Lakota chilren. Most recently we have done several trips to the areas affected by hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The funny thing is, none of this is planned by the board or the "organized" church - it is simply people who want to do something to make a difference in the lives of hurting people.

Well, I've rambled on for too long. I think my original point was that God can and does use oridinary people who are just going about their daily routine to touch the lives of others. Who knows what life we touch, or maybe even change, just by being who God wants us to be and being faithful in those small things that make up life on planet earth. We are not good judges. We often look to those things we can see to judge whether or not God is using us but often I think He works in unseen ways. Probably becasue we do tend to judge, incorrectly. I'm sure Sherry Corbett had no idea how she affected my life. She probably just thought I was just a student intetested in criminology....

Saturday, October 08, 2005

The Man Who Cried

David asked us to name three underrated movies. Well anyone who knows me knows that I never pass an opportunity to talk about a Johnny Depp movie. ;) I'm kidding. Sort of. I don't know if I can name 3 movies right now but I'll start with this one. The Man Who Cried (2000). I loved this movie and not just because Mr. Depp was in it. It is a beatiful and moving film, though not a typical American film. It moves slow and is dark if not depressing but it has a rich story of love and survival and hope for anyone who will take the time.

On a personal note, one of my favorite scenes is when Suzie is at the table with the gypsies and they all sing the same song in several different languages. It reminds me of the time I spent in Romaina, sitting at the table of my host family with my team from America. We were from different cultures with different issues facing us but we were all Christians and we all sang the same hymns, each in our own language. It was a beautiful time.

Plot Summary: (From the web site) In this touching romantic drama set in Paris on the eve of World War II, the diverse lives of four strangers intersect through the choices each is forced to make in order to survive.

Suzie (Christina Ricci), a young Jewish singer is befriended by a glamorous Russian dancer (Cate Blanchett) who helps her find her voice and guides her through the magical city of lights. She also finds the joy of love as she is captivated by the mysterious ways of an enigmatic gypsy (Johnny Depp), and danger in the deception of a willful Italian opera singer (John Turturro).

As history unfolds around her, Suzie is forced to choose between staying for her only love or escaping as her only hope. It is out of this bitter crucible that Suzie finally finds the strength to achieve her dreams.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Love Them All

I found a new blog today! One that I am really impressed with, partly because the topic deals with a ministry that is near and dear to my heart - an outreach to the homeless, and partly because I just think I would really, really like anyone who writes, "I write maudlin poetry and sing off-key, though I have the sense to not caterwaul in the shower. I'm always writing, and can spend three hours at the keyboard without batting an eye. I have yet to encounter an unfriendly dog, an unwise cat or a small child that was not a professor. I tip waitresses with abandon and treat cab-drivers with respect, but somehow manage to annoy almost everyone else.

There is one more thing: if an Elvis tune comes on the kitchen radio I will dance to it - even if it's not my kitchen.".


And then there's the person after my own heart who writes, "There's also typos and various grammarian faux pas throughout. Get over it". Now that's somebody I can relate to! :)

But the thing that really caught my attention was the loving spirit I saw in the posts there. I just thought "yes" when I read about the account of a particular homeless person and the conclusion they came to regarding them.

You either start developing rules about who can and can't be served and start weeding the non-conformists out, or you love them all, love them like there's no tomorrow.

Because tomorrow they're coming again. And tomorrow, and tomorrow and tomorrow after that. And none of it, none of it at all, makes any sense whatsoever.


Isn't that what we're all after anyway - to be loved? The longer I live (which has been a while as my son pointed out) the more I'm convinced that love is really all that matters. To love God with all our heart and soul and mind and to love each other. For some time now I've summed up my outlook on life by saying, "love God, love others" because that's all that really matters. Now if I could actually practice that, wow ...

Check out Today At the Mission

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Just to make you giggle

As I said before, I like to have fun and I love to laugh. If you've seen Pirates of the Caribbean, this is sure to get a grin out of you. (Yes, I'm a Depp fan but I'm not above getting a laugh at his expense.)

It takes a while to load, but it's worth the wait. Click on the link, then click on "He really is". Enjoy!

Click here

Tattoos, Death, and Fear

I have a tattoo. I got it some time ago on impulse and I've not regretted it yet. It did shock a few folks though - they weren't quite prepared for their pastor's wife to be inked. :) One lady asked me if it was permanent to which I responded, "no, becuase I'm not permanent. It will rot right along with the rest of me one day".

I've often thought of getting another one but just can't seem to find the "right" one. Yesterday I told my son I was going to get a new tattoo around my wrist like a bracelet with the words "Ain't no grave" forming a broken chain of the bracelet and a tiny skull as the bracelet clasp. I told him that when I'm laying in my casket, everyone will be able to see it and know that I'm free. :) Of course I was kidding about getting the tattoo. Sort of. :) I suppose a skull isn't too ladylike. But then, I've never been accused of being ladylike.

The thought came to me as I was thinking about how life might be different if we ran headlong into it unhinderd by the fear of death ... if we truly believed that death could not hurt us. As Christians, it can't. It hurts those left behind, and I don't want to minimize that, especially today as I've just come from the funeral of a 32 year-old son of a friend. He fell doing a construction job, his young girlfriend is just about to give birth to their second child any day now. Their pain is real and beyond my ability to imagine. But that pain is temporary if we are in Christ. The worst that can happen is that we live in heaven for eternity. And we have the hope of being reunited with loved ones that have passed before us. Not a bad gig, eh?

I don't believe God called us to be safe. I think He calls us to be wise, but unafraid.

Unfortunately, it is not death I fear. I fear life. Living here is scary and too often I fall prey to numerous fears that keep me firmly in their grasp. My challenge is to relinquish those fears to the One who has conqured them. The promise is there, and I have no trouble believing that it is real and that it works when we apply it. I just have one heck of a time applying to my life.



Rom 8:36-39 (Living Bible)

No, for the Scriptures tell us that for his sake we must be ready to face death at every moment of the day-we are like sheep awaiting slaughter; but despite all this, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ who loved us enough to die for us.

For I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from his love. Death can't, and life can't. The angels won't, and all the powers of hell itself cannot keep God's love away. Our fears for today, our worries about tomorrow, or where we are-high above the sky, or in the deepest ocean-nothing will ever be able to separate us from the love of God demonstrated by our Lord Jesus Christ when he died for us.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Why do we protest to make a point?

It's amazing what you can learn when you begin blogging. You meet other bloggers by reading other blogs which in turn lead you to yet other blogs and then on to even other blogs. Aside from spending way too much time online, I've discoverd some things ....

I've been reading about the Emerging church. What the heck is that?? It's a bit embarrassing but I'll admit ignorance by saying that I'd never heard of such a creature until I began blogging a few days ago. Since it was a term I kept coming across I began to look into it and enlighten myself before I completely embarrassed myself by saying something really stupid. Granted, I may still say something really stupid, but some things can't be helped.

In any case, I was surprised to find that I would likely fit into this movement quite well. Just so you know, when I began this blog and titled it "Join the Conversation" I did not know that many of the leaders of the emerging church call it "the conversation". My title simply refers to the notion that when we come to Christ we join a "conversation" of sorts with Him - a relationship with Him.

I also discovered that I dislike a lot of the same things about the traditional church that these folks dislike. I found myself identifying really well ... to the point of thinking "I must be part of something even if I have never heard of it"..... and then maybe I identified a bit too well. You see, in the not to distant past I've been fairly critical of the Church. OK, in all honesty I've been really critical of it. I've been told that I'm a rebel and that I'm reckless. Neither of those are true of course, but I can see where someone might think that.

As I read the many ariticles and essays I noticed a flavor of protest that seemed really familiar to me because I had voiced some of those same sentiments. But soon that flavor became ... well, frankly, sickening. I felt ill after reading so much protest and criticism. I felt as if I'd been eating someone's garbage. I felt ill becuase I saw my own critical nature glaring back at me. I wanted to scream back at some of these folks and tell them to "just get on living your life the way God wants you to and you won't have to worry so much about everybody else. Just go do the thing God put you here to do and people will notice and you'll not have to scream to make your point". But then those words ring true for me as well.

Granted, it isn't all about the Emerging church movement - that was just a part of it. Maybe not even a part that truly represents it. There just seemed to be a lot of gripping out there in Christian circles. A lot of hate towards haters. It just made me wonder if those of us who protest so loundly are any different than those we complain about.

So, I'm not sure how I feel about this emerging movement. I'm not sure I care to know how I feel because I'm not sure it matters. I think I'll just shut up and go do my thing.

Edit: After posting I opened my Bible and found this. Please don't think I'm directing it at anyone or any particular group. I am not. It applies more to me than anyone else. I'll leave out the Jews becuase any one of us or any group can easily fall prey to the same old trap of the enemy.

If you're brought up ________, don't assume that yo can lean back in the arms of your religion and take it easy, feeling smug because you're an insider to God's revelation, a connoisseur of the best things of God, informed on the latest doctrines! I have a special word of caution for you who are sure that you have it all together yourselves and because you know God's revealed Word inside and out, feel qualified to guide others through their blind alleys and dak nights and confused emotions to God. While you are guiding others, who is going to guide you? I'm quire serious. While preaching "Don't steal!" are you going to rob people blind? Who would suspect you? The same with adultery. The same with idolatry. You can get by with almost anything if you front it with eloquent talk about God and his law. The line from Scripture, "It's because of you _______ that the outsiders are down on God," shows it's an old problem that isn't going to go away.

Romans 2:17-24 The Message /Remix

Monday, October 03, 2005

Do I Take the Leap?

I'm not sure where my mind is going as I type this. Do you ever feel so inundated with thoughts and ideas that you get lost in the middle of them? That's kind of where I'm at, so I figured I would type this out and see if I can make sense of any of it.

Last night I had a conversation with my son about some of the strange things God seems to be doing lately .... not just in any one place or with any one group, but things that are "happening" all around us. It certainly seems that He's up to something. The question is, what? More accurately my question is, "is He really up to something or is it just pure emotion?"

First my husband and one of my friends suggeseted that our church do something more than just collect an offering and send a check to the hurricane relief effort. Somewhat impulsively my husband called an old friend who attended our church in Lake Charles, LA. He also contacted another friend who we had known from New Orleans who is now pastoring in Meridian Mississippi. Both contacts said, "Come", so we did. To our utter amazement, within 3 days .... that's right, 3 days, we had $100,000.00 worth of frozen meat donated, a trucking company who donated a refer truck to haul it in, two OTR truck drivers who took off work and volunteered to drive the 18-wheeler, a 24 ft. Penske truck donated to us, and enough dry goods to fill it. Then we watched as God seemed to be commendering our entire trip - see http://katrinaadventure.blogspot.com for the story.

One thing we did not want to do was to go to the hurricane devestated area with donations once and then forget them. Their need will continue for months and more than anything we wanted to encourage them that they were not alone .... that we would not forget them.

Before we knew what was happening, yet another trip to Meridian was planned. They leave in a week with 3 trucks full of household items that will be given to the people who evacuated New Orleans as they set up housekeeping and start again to rebuild their lives. Enter Casey. She is a young lady at our church who has basicaly felt useless.... BUT she had a burden to try to do something. She had an idea that maybe she would like to do a benefit concert to aid the hurricane victims. We had a week to pull that off. A week in which almost all of our muscians and our choir (our choir makes up about a third of our congregation) were out of town all week for a choir trip. How in the world would we ever get it together in a week? I reminded her that I've recently seen God do bigger things in less time ... so it was a go. We did what we could and let God do what we couldn't. Last night was the concert and at first it was worrisome - not many people came. The pews looked so empty. NOT what you want for a benefit concert. BUT again, God showed us that it's not up to us ... when He in in charge of something, nothing is impossible. The offering was taken and we collected $3,500.00! Who would have thought that such a small crowd would give that much?!?!

After the concert my son came home from an all day meeting he had for SPARC. OK, now my son is 20 years old and is all on fire and ready to change the world. He drives me nuts with it. In the past I've tried my best to bring the boy back down to earth. I've called him "spiritually immature", among other things. Like I would know. Ha! BUT I'm beginning to talk less to him and listen more to him. He may be on to something....

I've watched as he has had what he claims is a God inspired vision ... he feels that God is calling college students together to do something earth shattering through prayer and fasting. I've watched as it is beginning to happen .... and it's been another one of those thigns that God seems to have taken complete control of .... I know for a fact that my son has done nothing other than to be available and to be willing to listen to God rather than his mom. On Nov. 4 & 5, hundreds and perhaps thousands of college students from all over the state of Ohio will be coming together for a day of prayer and fasting ... they are praying for revival to take place. God has even supplied a nationally known speaker who's main ministry is prayer. And she's coming for free! When was the last time a nationally known speaker volunteered to speak for free? The thing that impresses me is that these 20-something college students have the wisdom and humility to NOT advertise their speaker or their worship leader. They don't want people coming for any reason except to pray. My son has a key role - he will be the send-off speaker. There will only be 2 - Becky and my son. No one will even know my son's name - he is not allowing anyone to introduce him. Only a few months ago I thoughy my son was only another over zealous, immature kid who wanted to change the world. Still today that "change the world" things leaves me a bit cold. But I've watched it take place... and I can't deny that something is definately going on ... something beyond anyone's contol. I'm 43 and I'm not stupid enough to deny the obvious. Not generally, anyway. :)

This brings my thoughts back to the adventurous faith I once knew. Back before I was wise and settled, and "mature". You see, growning up, I had people around me who lived out their faith ... in bold ways.

One was my childhood pastor. Ralph was one of those men who prayed and expected God would answer ... and He always did. He's the one who I wrote the What's the Name of Your God post about. He is no longer a pastor .... now he lives on a farm with several special needs children ... and he lives on faith. He's one of those people who, when they need something, they pray, and someone will come to the door with exactly what they need. I know few people with faith like his. In fact, I'm not sure I know anyone with faith like his. That doesn't mean he and his family do not struggle - they most certainly do. I get regular updates and it seems there is always at least one crisis going on. With so many special needs children, that's just a given. But I've never seen them lack for anything they really needed. And I've seem some pretty amazing miracles take place in their lives. Things that couldn't be humanly planned or explained.

So, growing up, that kind of faith was normal to me. It was wild, and adventurous and simple. And it wasn't tarnished by power hungry egos. Then I grew up. I saw struggle and despair. I saw the nasty side of the church. I got tired. I rebelled. I pretended. And what's worse, I became content. Now there's something to be said for contentment... I'm most certainly NOT advocating living on emotion. But there's a danger is being content too. Either is an extreme.

Last Monday I was sick and as I layed on my couch I was determined to take the day off. I wanted to sleep all day. But I felt the Spirit nudging me. I told Him to leave me alone - that it was my day off and I wasn't doing anytihng that day. Of course I got up, made a pot of coffee and took the leap into doing what I could to get the ball rolling for the benefit concert. It wasn't that much - a matter of a few phone calls and eating my pride a bit as I asked people do attempt the impossible and was afraid they would think I was rude if not insane. Today I feel a bit like that too .... I see all that's taking place around me and I'm reluctant ... hungry for it, but reluctant too. But I feel I'm right on the edge of leaping ....

Sunday, October 02, 2005

I was thinking ....

I like to have fun. Regardless of what I'm doing I try to find the most fun way to do it and then go for it. Well, at this moment, I'm excited.
I've just signed up to go back to Grand Isle, Louisiana at the end of this month to do whatever we find to do in helping to clean up the island after the recent hurricanes. It will be a rough trip - we can only take one SMALL carry-on which must contain our clothes for the week, 2 rolls of toliet paper, and 2 ready-to-eat meals. We may or may not have running water or electric. Think "Survivor" and you've got a picture of our trip. We'll eat whatever the Red Cross cooks, assuming that the Red Cross is still there when we get there. Hmm ... a week with no possibly showers.... doing all sorts of nasty, hard, sweaty work...little to eat.... sounds like fun, eh?

But I was thinking .... this in fact could be FUN. We'll be there over Halloween. I know a lot of Christians don't practice any "halloween" stuff, but what can I say, I like fun. I like pirates too. ;) SO, I was thinking that we can do "trick-or-treat" for the kids on the island. We can take a load of candy and go around giving out candy instead of asking for it. We can paint their faces, and find some say to have some sense of normalacy in the middle of devestation. I've already ordered my Captian Jack Sparrow hat. I'll have to tie some beads in my hair for good measure. This may be a lot of fun. And maybe some kid will be cheered up as a result. The worst that can happen is that they will think that all Yankees are completely crazy.

Grand Isle has a rich "pirate" history.

Steeped in history, Grand Isle and its sister island, Grand Terre, were originally settled in the late 1700’s as a fishing village. The famous “Gentleman Pirate” Jean Lafitte converted the islands into the base of his looting operations. According to the New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation, Jean Lafitte used Grand Isle and the neighboring island Grand Terre for “his commune…which included a cafĂ©, bordello, gambling den, warehouses, and a barracoon (for detaining slaves).”

Friday, September 30, 2005

What's the Name of Your God?

Wow, that question always gets me. I have a friend, actually he was my pastor when I was a kid, who once preached a sermon "What's the name of your God?". In that sermon he basically told his story of how he and his wife had adopted (not fostered - adopted!) several special needs children and how God had provided for their needs in some pretty amazing and miraclous ways. Since then, that question has haunted me and challenged me in those times which are all too common, when I begin to fret and worry about how things will work out.

A few weeks ago I was a part of a trip to Meridan MS, and then to Grand Isle LA, and then on to Sulphur/Lake Charles LA to take food to the victims of Hurricane Katrina. You can read about that adventure, and an adventure it was, at my other blog That trip was amazing ... not becuase we had anything to do with it, but because it was put together in a matter of 3 days and becuase it worked out so perfectly that it was absolutely obvoius to eveyone that only God could have pulled that off. It was fun to watch the impossible take place and to be a part of it.

BUT that trip challenged me about how I think about God. I'm typically the kind of person who is very comfortable with the mundane. The kind of person who often sees God working in the daily stuff of life and doesn't anitcipate too much the "great things" God does. I've come to believe that God does His best in the quiet, boring, daily routine of your life and mine. I still believe that it is often in those mundane things that God grooms us and grows us. I still belive that it is just as spiritual to be faithful in the less exctiting tasks as it is to do "great things for God". Maybe even more spiritual. And I still believe that EGO can play a big part in doing "great things for God". I can write for a while about EGO and how I've seen people attitbute to God what is really their own ego. BUT ...


Maybe I've been overlooking something .... the fact that God indeed does do some pretty great things. Maybe I've limited Him by thinking too small? I certainly would have never attempted to put together a relief effort in 3 days! In fact, had God asked me to do that I'd have been pretty ticked off with Him. It takes me several months to put together a trip to in Indian Reservation every year ... and that doesn't count the additional months spent raising money for it.

Another thing that has challenged me ... my son. My 20 year-old son is very involved with Campus Cursade for Chirst and, by no real effort of his own, has been used to bring together hundrends, perhaps thousands, of college students from all over the state of Ohio for a day of prayer and fasting for revival. This is SO out of his league and yet another example of how God was the one in charge of the planning. My son was not even aware of a nationally known speaker when he got a call from her offing to come and speak for free at this meeting. This speaker is Becky Tirabossi, a lady who worked closely with Bill Bright and now is very focused on prayer. Becky had already planned to be at OSU on the same date as the prayer gathering. Nobody but God could plan that ... especially since my son didn't even know who Becky was.

Now, you have to understand what a big turn off all of this is for me. It reeks of ego and control and can quickly lead to the "I'm big and your little" way of looking at things. But I have to take notice .... esepcially since I KNOW that no one TRIED to do this or planned it in any way .... it all just fell in place as if Someone else is doing it all.

So, what am I saying? I've really no idea. Just that I think I'm being challenged to expect more from God .... That maybe I shouldn't automatically count some things out that I don't like or understand them, because God may in fact be using them too .....That maybe I need stop limiting Him by thinking too small ..... That maybe the mundane has become too comfortable ..... That maybe I need to remember who I serve. What's the name of Your God?

Hello? Can You Hear Me Now??


Why should I do a blog? I barely have time to read the blogs of my friends as it is, so starting another one seems like a waste of time. But it may help me to stay focused on the things God is trying to get through my rather thick head .... and maybe I'll even take a moment to speak back to Him.

Geez, there I go alluding to that phrase that I've so despised ... the "God told me _____" phrase. Saying that God speaks to me still sounds so arrogant to me in a lot of ways, but I do believe He speaks ... not becuase we're "special" in any way but simply becuase He wants relationship with us.

So, feel free to read, or comment, or post about what God is saying to YOU at this time in your life. Even if you don't post here, I do hope you'll join Him in the conversation.

Amber