Friday, December 10, 2010

Christmas Wishes

With this Christmas season upon us, I found myself pondering this night Christ was born. What was it like? I could imagine the whole Earth holding its breath in quiet anticipation as Mary went through the process of giving birth, the angels waiting with baited breath as the miraculous moment drew near. I found myself humbled at the splendor of it all and penned the following words.

Christmas Wishes

This season of
Christmas with it brings
A time for presents
And glittery things
Shopping carts
And endless lines
Paper and ribbon
treats divine
Holiday visits
And family time
All in all
Wonderful things
But is that really
What Christmas means?

For long ago
It all began
With the virgin birth
Of God in man
When the Holy of Holies
Sent to die
Was born in a manger
And gave His first cry
which rang through the darkness
And circled the world
As angels heralded
The birth of God’s Word
The hope of all nations
Of redemption found
All of Heaven did in
Holy adoration resound

I sit here tonight
Contemplating this all
Reconciliation born
in a cold, lonely stall
the night
to end darkness
The life to end death
That began the minute
He drew His first breath
And I am left speechless
The words will not come
So, I sit humbled
by thoughts of the One
Born in a manger
On that night long ago
And of our Father
Who loved us so
That He sent to Earth
His only Son
So the cost of our sin
Might be undone.

So, come let us worship
In this Holiest of times,
Let us honor
Our Savior
Salvation divine
With reckless abandon
And hearts open wide
To the will of the One
Who in us resides
Let us eagerly seek
to understand
the indescribable gift
Of God
made man.

May your Christmas be one of Christ filled joy,


Monday, November 29, 2010

Sharing: Life is too Short

It has been so long ... and I do have so much to share ... BUT .. on the way here I stopped at the Pixelated Image blog and read a post by one of my all time favorite photographers David deChemin. I am coming up on my 8 year anniversary of the day I found out that I had stage 3 cancer ... pondering life and its preciousness ... and his words hit home. So today, I will put my own thoughts on hold and will instead share his. Take time to ponder them ... sit with them for awhile .... then look at your life .. really look. Are you waisting it? What are you doing with it? MInute by minute .... day by day ... are you making a difference? Life is short.


This isn’t really one of those helpful photographic posts, so if you’re jonesin’ for info on what gear I’m packing for New Zealand, you might want to just kind of move along :-) But I’m bursting to say these things, and I’m hoping someone out there needs to hear. I do.

As some of you know there’s some big changes coming down the pipe for me and I’ll give you a full report as soon as I can. I’ve fought the urge to make these changes for a while now and something finally cracked.

I had breakfast with a close friend of mine yesterday and it’s that meeting that is making me write this, because I can’t keep it in this morning. His wife, one of my favourite people on the planet, is fighting for her life against inoperable brain cancer. She’s fighting, but she’s not well, and the doctors are talking in terms of quality of life, not healing, not remission. My heart is breaking for her. My heart is breaking for him. A young couple that, like all of us, thinks they have forever together, have all the time in the world to chase their dreams. But we don’t. None of us do. It’s an illusion.

Life is short. We seem to think that we’ll live forever. We spend time and money as though we’ll always be here. We buy shiny things as though they matter and are worth the debt and stress of attachment. We put off the so-called “trip of a lifetime” for another year, because we all assume we have another year. We don’t tell the ones we love how much we love them often enough because we assume there’s always tomorrow. And we fear. Oh, do we fear. We stick it out in miserable jobs and situations because we’re afraid of the risk of stepping out. We don’t reach high enough or far enough because we’re worried we’ll fail, forgetting – or never realizing – that it’s better to fail spectacularly while reaching for the stars than it is to succeed at something we never really wanted in the first place.

A woman emailed earlier this year. Her husband, the love of her life, was a fan of mine and he’d just come through a tough fight with Leukemia. She asked if I’d take some time with him, go shooting with him if he came to Vancouver, sort of as a celebration of his recovery. I said yes, of course, how could I not. But I was busy, about to travel, and could we do it in a couple months when summer rolled around and I had time to host him. Of course. Let’s talk soon. I got back two months later and sent an email saying, let’s make it happen! And 5 minutes later got a reply telling me the leukemia had returned with speed and fury and within days he’d gone. Even now, I’m writing this with tears, though anyone that knows me knows it doesn’t take much.

We think we’ve got forever and that these concerns that weigh us down are so pressing. We worry about the trivial to the neglect of the most precious thing we have: moments we’ll never see again. We talk of killing time, passing time, and getting through the week, forgetting we’re wishing away the moments that comprise our lives. We say time is money when in fact the time we have is ALL we have. Money can be borrowed, time can’t. We fear taking risks, unaware that the biggest risk we run in playing it safe is in fact living as long as we hope and never doing the things we dreamed of. And then it’s too late. We watched our favourite TV shows, we fought a losing battle with our weight, we picked up the guitar once in a while and never quite finished the french language courses we wanted to do. We managed to get a large flatscreen and new cars once in a while, but the list of things we’d have done if we could really, truly could have done anything, kept growing. And we never did them.

I don’t know how to wrap this up. There’s no resolution. I was in Sarajevo last week thinking about all this; I’d be walking the old city thinking how amazing it was, looking into the hills that surround it. And then it occurred to me, just over 15 years ago the citizen of Sarajevo that stood in this spot was likely to be hit by mortar shells or sniper fire. We’re all terminal folks. We’re all in the sniper scope. We’ve got less time that we think. For every ten people that email me and say, “I wish I could do what you’re doing. I wish I could follow my dreams, I wish, I wish…,” I wonder if even one moves forward. I hope so.

Whatever your dream is, find a way to make it happen. Your kids can come with you. Your job can wait. You can find someone to feed the cat. I know, I know, there are so many reasons we can’t and some of those reasons are valid. Life is not only short, it is also sometimes profoundly hard. But I think sometimes our reasons are in fact only excuses. If that’s the case, take stock. I talk alot about living the dream, and I’m an idealist, I know it. But it’s not self-help, positive-thinking, wish-upon-a-star. It’s the realization that life is short and no one is going to live my life on my behalf. And one day soon – because it’ll seem that way, I know it – my candle will burn out; I want it to burn hot and bright while it’s still lit. I want it to light fires and set others ablaze.

Life is short. Live it now. And live it with all your strength and passion now. Don’t keep it in reserve against a day you might not have. While the ember is still lit, fan it to flame. Be bold about it, even if your circumstances mean all you have is to love boldly and laugh boldy. Because now is all we have, and these dreams won’t chase themselves.

End of sermon, thanks for listening. I just kind of needed to get it out there. It wasn’t the point of this but if you’re the praying type, send some mojo out for my friend and his wife. God knows who they are.


Amen Daivd. Amen.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Finding Freedom in Being Wrong

Have you ever had an epiphany? A moment when shocking truths rained down upon you with such unbelievable clarity that you were literally left stunned and humbled by it? I have ... recently ... and it was both painful and freeing.

You see a few years ago, I learned a valuable lesson about gossip and talking about others. I got it in my head. I knew that it was wrong. I knew that God did not approve of it. I vowed to not do it. I even was lead to undertake an amazing journey of purposefully building other people up. BUT I didn't really get it ... until recently when I became the victim of gossip. Someone I know talked about me behind my back, and I found out about it. I was crushed, my feelings were battered, and I have had a really difficult time trusting her now. Her words against me were so powerful, but they also brought with them a powerful lesson. For in the midst of my hurt, God spoke to my heart saying, "This is how it felt when you did the same thing to your friend."

I was shocked, for in that moment I realized that my head knowledge about gossip had not changed my heart's understanding of it ... had not brought about repentance from it. You see, although I had learned that Gossip was wrong, I was still carrying with me justifications for why I had done what I had done... rational, believable reasons that had become like truth to me ... and although I had changed, I had not repented. I had not ever come to the end of myself and owned being wrong, but, in that moment God unveiled my eyes ... and I saw all my justifications fall away ... leaving an unmistakable truth ... I was 100% wrong.

For in my hurt, I knew that there was nothing that would justify my hurting someone else the way that I had been hurt. In that moment, my friend's face was woven into my pain ... in that moment, God showed me how badly I had hurt her ... and I for the first time took ownership of that truth in my heart. I was wrong. I was wrong, and I had never really admitted it fully with no excuses. I was wrong, and was in bondage to the lies I had told myself to justify it. I was wrong, and had never been able to seek true forgiveness because I could not see that there was more to be forgiven for. In that moment, I took my sin to my Father's feet and I cried out to Him from my heart and asked for forgiveness. I offered up not one excuse, and the most amazing thing happened. In embracing being wrong, I found peace and freedom and realized that it was in admitting being wrong that I found God's mercy, and healing.

A few weeks out, and I can't help but wonder how many times we do this. I keep asking myself how many times we try to hide our Sin, just like Adam and Eve tried to cloak their nakedness (and sin) in the garden when God came to call upon them. I keep wondering how often do we do such a great job of justifying what ever it is that we are doing, that we no longer recognize it as sin. I think it is probably more often than we would like to think. We need to make a point of asking the Lord to search us and know us ... to examine our hearts and bring to light any impure or sinful actions, thoughts, or words that we might really lay them down ... to illuminate any sin that we have too grown comfortable with ... and make it once again painful that we might recognize it for what it is and repent.

So what happened to me in all this? I found an amazing freedom, freedom from a sin I did not even recognize to be unresolved. I repented, and sought forgiveness. I found peace in the pain of learning, and I finally understand the depths of the damage that speaking unedifying words about others can do. I recognize it fully for the deceiving destroyer that it is, and will stand against it whenever it comes calling. I found freedom in being wrong.


Sunday, September 26, 2010

This Broken Vessel

Good morning all! I pray that this post finds you all going deeper with our God and King. I offer up today another poem. One day soon I will sit down and share some amazing God stories ... but for now ...

This Broken Vessel

Holy Redeemer
Wonderful One
Paid in love
with the blood
of His Son
the cost of my ransom
the weight of my sin
nailed to the cross
to bring life within
this broken vessel
for a glorious King
now poured out inside me
to His glory brings
this broken being
unfit and lost
forfeiting all
for the life of
Christ's Cross.

- Lisa 2010

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Hello my bloggie friends. I have so must to tell you about what I have learned in the next week, but for tonight you will have to make due with a new poem ...

Child of Mine

Child of mine
Lend me your ear
Come, cast down your sorrows
Let go of your fears
Deny the world’s lies
For they are not real
Trade them in now
For my truths revealed
For I know of your weakness
Your fears and your pride
I know how you stumble
I’ve heard when you cried
I know all your secrets
So, stop trying to hide
From your Father who loves you
Who in you resides
It’s time to go deeper
To surrender it all
To let go of your life
And answer my call
For you are my child
Held tight in my hand
Come, there are truths
You must understand
By me you are cherished
Your appointment’s divine
I formed, made, and chose you
At the beginning of time
You’re called for a purpose
Nothing’s by chance
You’re not defined
By your circumstance
So come now surrender
Just lay it all down
Stop chasing things
That just can’t be found
For I am sufficient
I’m all that you need
I’m your protector, your healer,
Come rest at my feet
For I am waiting
I’m drawing you near
It’s time to go deeper
You’ve nothing to fear.

May we all go deeper ... deeper in love with God ... deeper in obedience to God ... deeper in relationship to God ... deeper in God's Word .... and may we do it with excitement and dedication.


Friday, September 17, 2010

I want to share a post that another friend of mine just shared on Facebook. I think that it paints an amazing perspective of hope and faith when facing a problem that is so big it feels impossible to face or do anything about. She is a missionary and writes about the trying to make a difference in the poverty of Costa Rica.

“I’m gonna go fight poverty for two and a half hours. Two and a half hours on a Tuesday morning to solve the biggest problem in the world. What a joke. We will show up with a bag full of bread and an armload of bananas, and the children will clamber around us like ducks at a pond. A bunch of little ducklings, falling all over each other for a bit of bread and a soft pat on the head.

And for 2 and a half hours we will laugh and play and eat, and we will talk about Jesus. And when we leave, they will be just as poor as when we arrived. Poverty taunts us as we drive away. It’s overwhelming. The problem is so big, and we are so small. It feels ridiculous… showing up to war wielding a loaf of bread.

Of course that’s how David showed up. Just a shepherd boy with some bread for his brothers, a kid who was quick with a sling shot. He chose for battle against a giant, not a sword, or the kings armor, but five smooth stones. And he won.

He said to the giant:”You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the LORD Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the LORD will hand you over to me, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. Today I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the LORD saves; for the battle is the LORD’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.” ~1 Samuel 17

I kind of love that. I’m going to feed the ducks, now. And then, with all my might, I will hurl a tiny pebble at their giant enemy. And I hope it hurts like hell.“

And I love that.

So pick up your pebbles, people. Here we go...

First, I think that each of us should hurl some pebbles at this massive giant ... see my last post for a great way to do so ... BUT think this also holds an superb truth for us in every day life ... what giants are you facing? A friend of mine just found out she has breast cancer ... hurl some pebbles. Another is lost in a marriage that desperately needs healing ... hurl some pebbles. Another has grown bitter over the years and just can't seem to find her way back to peace ... hurl some pebbles. What battle are you running from? Stop, take a deep breath, remember who is fighting with you, and hurl some pebbles!


Sunday, September 12, 2010

When Words Make a Difference

There are so many times that I log on and see all those hearts on the map and wonder about each one of you. I wonder who you are ... what your lives are like ... if you really stop in a read the ramblings of this Arizona girl. I wonder if God speaks to you through these words ... and I wonder if these words make a difference at all. I have shared so many moments of my life and learning. I have been transparent with total strangers ... and have loved reading the blogs of those who post here. Funny how we can share this cyber-life here together.

Today's blog is going to be a bit different, and I would ask that you read all the way through and then pray about being part of this most amazing opportunity ... I am, and will be praying, that God raises up people to do so.

It all begins with an amazing couple of people who started a non-profit called Remember the Poor that seeks to provide for the people of Uganda in Africa. They work tirelessly to make a difference and provide ways for others to do the same. Enter another amazing family that has started a church called The Mission, who's focus is reaching the lost and reaching out the the orphans and widows of this world. Working hand in hand, God has used these people to bring an opportunity of compassion and love to anyone that is interested. You see, this small group of people is doing something amazing, they are working to support an orphanage in Kisii, Kenya.


This orphanage is run by a man and his wife that have such hearts for these lost children. They have taken them in and are doing everything they can to provide food and education for these kids, but they do need help. That is where we come in. God is moving to provide for these kids through whomever is willing! I could pause here to tell you stories of poverty that would fill your heart with sorrow, show you pictures that would break your heart ... but I won't. There is really no way to truly understand the depth of it unless you go there and witness their reality through the window of ours here in America. It is horrible. It is uncomfortable. It is easier to ignore, than to bear the weight of the truth of it. I know. I too have struggled with it, struggled with choosing to see what is happening there ... embracing the reality of it ... to let it sink into my soul and be unsettled about it. This is not about guilt though ... instead it is about Love ... it is about using what we have to help others ... to be God's hands and feet ... to be a blessing ... to build relationships. This is an opportunity to help children who are in need of help. Let me introduce you to a couple of them.

Meet Brian.

Diana ...

And Norah.

These are just 3 of the 15 children that need sponsors. You can sponsor their food and medical care or their school tuition (they are required to pay tuition by the government if they are to go to school) or both. A partial sponsorship is $45 a month, and a full sponsorship (food, medical, and tuition) is $90 a month. Your donation would be processed through Remember the Poor and will be 100% tax deductible. The best part is that teams from the states go out a few times a year and you are encouraged to send your child letters, photos, and small gifts. They will know you as their family here in the states ... you will have the chance to build relationships with a child on the other side of this earth ... to this child, you will be God's hands and feet. My family is going to sponsor one of the children partially (it is what we can do right now) anyone want to take the other half and help us to sponsor him/her fully? This world is really not such a big place, and we as humanity are really not that different from one another ... these children ... they are like our own ... young, fun-loving, and God's treasures ... would you please pray about helping?

If you are so led, please click on this link (The Mission) to go and fill out a form online. Message me if you want to join me in making the sponsorship of one of these children full.

May God's will be the object of your heart's desire ...


Saturday, September 11, 2010

A Little Too Much Me

I was listening to a Sermon yesterday and the Pastor was talking about letting God permeate all of your life. How He must be the center and all things us must be wrapped around and flow through Him, that His glory might be know to others ... to the nations ... to the lost that do not know Him yet. His graphic organizer of this was a set of concentric circles with God at the middle, and I as I sat looking at that set of nested circles I began to see how much like an onion I am and how much more there is that I have not surrendered. I can look at the layers on the floor and call them by name ... my children, my marriage, my work, my tongue, my health and so on. It is easy to look at the pile and remember the sometimes painful separations as these layers were peeled from me through times of deep learning and relinquished to my King ... mine and no longer mine ... these area's of my life are such blessings to me now. It is easy to forget that there is still so much more to me on the cutting board. The deeper, inner parts still so tightly bound to each other that I am not even sure how to call them by name. What are these parts that I have yet to surrender, and why do I tense up a little at the thought of doing so. Why does the idea of surrender bring trepidation, when the result brings such peace? I don't think it is the letting go. I don't think it is the fear that the Lord will be surprised or wouldn't want to the part that I am giving. I don't think it is the fear of having those deepest parts named and revealed. I think it is more a desire to not loose myself, an innate instinct to preserve self ... combined with an ominous fear over just how much is left hidden in reserve if I did daily ask the Lord to take every peace of me ... to peal back layers one by one ... carving daily a piece of self that I might get to the heart of all those circles.

How funny is it that my human response to surrender focuses on and responds to the process or surrender versus the rewards? Intellectually I get it, intellectually I want it ... but, my heart lingers pulled in a daily tug-of-war to surrender or to control. What I do know is the LORD is firm in His stance. He wants me all ... every layer surrendered. He is not a God of pieces ... He is a God of all or nothing ... black or white ... and although He is patient and waits for our hearts to align to His will ... he will not settle for anything but everything. It all comes down to daily surrender ... beginning with praying daily that He would show me that which I am holding onto ... that He would ask and take each layer ... naming it ... claiming it ... and receiving it for His glory. By daily praying for less of me, and more of Him. By willing releasing my grasp on control and letting Him have His will, with me standing in the middle of it ... instead of opposition to it.

We all have these layers. Layers that are too cherished. Layers that are too painful to release. Layers that are too comfortable. Layers that feel like they would just tear our world in two if we just gave in. Hurts that are held to long, when forgiveness feels like to big a pill to swallow. Areas of pride, that bring selfish pleasure ... rather than eternal glory. Addictions, gossip, the glittery trappings of the world, big things, little things ... things named and unnamed. I think the overwhelming fear is not that God would not take them and relieve us of them ... but that He would.

Oh Lord, search me and expose me. Call to my heart, mind, and soul the desire to let go ... to die daily in self ... to stand in your will when it comes to surrender instead of opposition. Bring me to a daily understanding of what it means to really belong to you ...


Sunday, August 22, 2010

Warning: Road Closed Ahead

I have long marveled at the people that call themselves "storm chasers." The people that literally abandon everything the minute that a storm breaks that will spawn tornadoes. They hear its call, and must follow. To some they might appear reckless and insane ... but I understand their draw. I, too, am a chaser. I chase sunsets. I have for years. I watch the clouds in the afternoon build and my heart races. I speculate about what colors will be spayed out upon them and just how grand the sunset will be. I pre-plan a plan of attack and wait for the sun to bid its farewells for the day ... anticipating anxiously that moment when I can chase the color and capture it with my camera.

Today was such a day. The clouds were perfect ... the conditions were right ... I just knew that there was going to be a great sunset ... and there was. The only problem was that the sun has begun to set earlier and earlier and I was about 5 minutes late in leaving my house. Like any of the famed tonado chasers on T.V. I sped down the road to my predetermined spot to take the picture, watching the light dim, the colors intensify ... knowing that I might just miss its creciendo ... praying (literally) that God might just hold it a minute longer for me ... allowing me to capture the beauty that what was making my heart race. I hit every green light. My chances seemed good. I had my camera in my free hand, and was feeling pretty confident that I would indeed make it. That is until I drove up upon a sign complete with flashing lights that said: "Street Closed." Really? For real?

I paniced for a moment ... glanced at the sun's farewell display which was just peaking. What was I to do? I was temped to drive around the road closre sign. My "spot" was within sight. My only other option was to take the detour through the housing subdivision to my right. Where would it lead? I did not know. But, I did know that the sunset was minutes away from over, so I took it. Driving down the road ... my eyes watching the light fade ... the urgency in my herat pounding ... I came out on a street that runs through my neightborhood as well and turned west. Within minutes, the road ended smack dab into a huge dirt field ... the perfect spot to shoot sunsets. Nothing from me to the mountains to break the scence. I pulled into the edge of the field and jumped out of my car only to realize that the most spectacular moment of the sunset was indeed over. Now based upon my description of my passion you might imagine that I was creastfallen ... that I view the chase as a failure ... but it was actually a win. You see I found the perfect spot. The spot that I will return to the next time that the sunset draws me to it. It is perfect. It is mine.

Driving home I began to realize that there is a life reminder in what happened tonight. You see there are so many times in life that we run into road blocks. Times when we are on a set course and God throws up a barricade that stops us in our tracks and redirects us. We have a choice to make when this happens though ... we can turn around and backtrack ... we can go around the road block and continue on the same path ... or we can let go and follow the detour path that God has provided us and in doing so find that what He has for us is so much better in the long run than what we had started out chasing. Thank you Lord for the reminder ... may I always face the detours with the same enthisiasm as the journey that led me to it.

With that said, I could not resist sharing some other sunset and cloud pictures that I did chase down on other days in the last week ... I do so love chasing ...


Tuesday, August 3, 2010

A Few Poetic Words

Wow, it has been awhile. I have never taken such a long break from my blog ... and I can't help but wonder if there will still be anyone that comes to check in. :) So, if you are reading this, thank you for coming back. Sorry, I have been gone for such a long time!

It has been an amazing summer. God and I have been working on learning what one on one time means. I have run the gambit of feelings ... from loneliness to excitement ... and have learned so much. Those lessons though are for another day, as I am still in the process of putting to words what I am learning.

One thing that this time has done was awakened the poet within me ... and that is what I thought I would share today.

Today's poem is about coming home to God ... about realizing that I was a weary traveler ... feet dusty ... legs tired ... yearning for home.

Welcome Me Home

Here I am
once again
returning to you
a child of sin

Tired of wandering
longing for home
returning to the place
where all is known

Wrap your arms around me
call me your own
as I run towards you
welcome me home

Splay my heart open
just lay it all out
search every part
leave no room for doubt

Call me by name
make me your own
as I run towards you
welcome me home

Lay my life open
wash my soul clean
teach me to serve you
to know what that means

Take all my burdens
as I lay them down
to honor the one
who's head bore the crown

Wrap your arms around me
call me your own
as I run towards you
welcome me home

-Lisa 2010

From time to time each of us will wake up to find ourselves far away from home. As humans, we are prone to wander, and there are so many roads that tempt us to follow them. Maybe that is you right now. Maybe, like me, you have been caught up in the hectic pace of modern life and simply fall further and further away from God because you don't make time to spend one on one time with your Father. Days lead to weeks, and weeks to months ... and before you know it you are feeling disconnected and alone. Maybe it is something else. Maybe it is something completely different. Whatever it is, the amazing thing is that our Father is waiting right at our side for us to turn around. Notice that I said, "right by our side." You see, although the prodigal son had to walk all the way home to his father's house ... our Father is only a heartbeat away from us ... no matter how far we think we have gone. So, if this is a time like that for you ... just stop walking. Seek God. Ask Him to welcome you home ... home is closer than you think.


Thursday, May 27, 2010

When Few Words Are Needed

Simple Moments

Simple moments
Lost in time

A delicate dance
With Savior mine

Captivating beauty
Splayed out for all

The canvas of nature
Presents His call

Of soft tender mercies

Bathed in dusk’s light

Reflections of Him
When day turns to night

- Lisa

Friday, May 21, 2010

Making Cents

As most of you following this blog have realized, I tend to see "God" things through situations that happen in every day life ... and those are the things that I tend to share here. Today's post is not going to be the exception to the rule, but it might be less entertaining than some of the others. It might pull at your heart strings more than some of the others ... and hopefully just hopefully it will stay with you a little longer than the others.

Let's start with the day to day experience that birthed the hope that I will lay before you for thought. I live in Arizona, and Arizona like many other states is in financial trouble. Millions of dollars were cut from the budget this year ... leaving us still with an enormous statewide crisis unsolved. To remedy this, our governor proposed a 1 cent sales tax increase that would last for 3 years. This 1 cent sacrifice would spare education in our state an additional 440 million dollar slashing ... not to mention the millions that would be further cut from other critical service occupations. A few days ago, the sales tax proposition passed. In the ensuing media coverage it was estimated that this 1 cent tax will raise an estimated 1 billion dollars per year for our state. $1,ooo,000,000,000 dollars a year, which is 100 billion pennies.

I was floored when I heard this. A one cent sales tax ... I will pay 1 more penny on every dollar I spend ... 10 pennies on every $10, and $1 on every hundred. If I were to spend a thousand dollars, it would only be an additional $10. It seems like such a small amount to me ... but it has the potential to make a huge difference for our state ... when combined with so many others that are putting in their 1 cent tax as well. In Arizona there was a need, and working together ... sacrificing a mere 1% tax ... we will work to provide a solution.

This started me thinking about the world ... specifically all of the people who live in poverty. Regardless of where the poverty is ... which continent we pick to talk about ... poverty kills. BUT ... it is such a huge problem ... one that seems insurmountable. How can one person make a difference? Unless you are one of the world's 497 billionaires, probably not much in the way of solving it. BUT ... what if we all did a little? What if we all gave just a little ... if 1 % from each of the citizens of Arizona raises 1 billion per year, what would 1% from each citizen in the U.S. raise? I can't imagine the number, but I bet it would go a long way in solving the problem of poverty.

One more random thought ... and then I will close ... people sometimes give as a reaction to guilt. I believe with all my heart that this undermines the gift and robs the giver. You see we are designed to give ... from our very beginnings when God breathed life into Adam's nostrils ... we were created to give Him glory and relationship. We are also not saved to despair, but rather to hope ... from the moment that Christ drew in His final human breath on the cross ... we were saved to share hope. I believe that there is something important to see here. When we give to those that are in poverty ... we give out of hope not guilt .. we give to give hope not desperation.

I think that the problem is that the problem is just too big ... to overwhelming ... too real. It is scary and people tend to shy away from it because it feels like there is no way that mere individuals can make a difference. That might be true, if we fail to join together and fight it arm in arm.

So, let's take a look ... let's look at an amazing opportunity to lock arms and give hope .... here are the numbers .... BUT don't stop reading ... the challenge is at the bottom.

Here is the challenge. What if we all ... all 20 of us that actually read this ... committed to use their change to create change? To encourage all of our friends to do the same? To post it on our blogs, on Face Book, on MySpace? And then picked an organization that helps people in poverty and donated the change? Change for Change. What do you think?

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Embracing Braces

Today was a day that we have know was coming for some time now. We have planned for it, saved for it, and waited for it. Today was the day that we went in for our oldest's final orthodontic consultation. They day where the orthodontist exposed the problems that KT's teeth have, and presented the solutions he (in his expertise) had devised for correcting them ... and the time it would take.

You see, KT has a "significant" overbite. So much so, that it has affected her profile right down to the cute way her bottom lip pulls in and pouts out at the same time. I have always thought she has a cute little pixie face, but the truth is that her lower jaw is not big enough and her top teeth are no where near to touching her bottom teeth. The body, a most amazing creation, has a way to compensate for this though --- as can be evidenced in the way her top teeth have shifted over time, and now point slightly inward ... the body's attempt at correcting the teeth. Enter the normal braces and the below device:

Did you just cringe? I did when I saw it. The above device is called a
Herbst Device. It prevents a patient from closing his/her jaw in the position that they have always closed it in. They must adapt and learn a new way of doing so by learning to move their jaw forward a little. This, over time, will teach the muscles to pull the lower jaw forward and will encourage it to grow. For KT, the whole process will take about a year, at which point the device will be removed, while the braces remain.

I was horrified that my daughter would have to wear such a thing ... (To think that I had been worried about the
possibility of a headgear like I used to have to wear!) With great enthusiasm I asked, "So, what do you think KT?" Her response, "Can we start today?" You see she wants to get on with the work of correcting her teeth. The cost seems nothing to her, she just wants to start. She sees the big picture ... the end result ... and understands that there is a journey that must be taken to get there ... and a cost that will be paid in the process. She knows that it is necessary in order to get to the end result. She has embraced braces.

God, ever the teacher, taught me something watching KT accept (without blinking) this most daunting of contraptions. You see God, like the orthodontist, is a specialist. He knows just how He wants us, and sees all the problems that keep us from reaching that end goal. One by one He brings them to light,
presents the solutions He (in his expertise) has for correcting them, and works tirelessly to make sure that his treatment plan is carried out. We, like KT, have the choice not on if the treatment for change will happen, but in what manner we are going to respond. Do we choose to see the big picture ... the end result ... knowing that whatever the cost is ... whatever God has to do to get us there ... is worth the cost?

You see, I am most certain that the device will be uncomfortable. It will be challenging for KT at times, but her attitude will help her to get through it ... instead of making it even more uncomfortable. Life can be that way for us as well. There is no doubt that this journey of God changing us will
be uncomfortable at times. It will be challenging for us, but our attitudes can help us get through it ... instead of making it even more uncomfortable.

"Investigate my life, O God, find out everything about me; Cross-examine and test me, get a clear picture of what I’m about; See for yourself whether I’ve done anything wrong–then guide me on the road to eternal life"
-- Psalm 139:23-24 [MSG].

Oh ... and LORD ... can we start today?


Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Being Useable

OK ... so I have really been contemplating what kind of Christian I am ... my works look (from a purely earthly perspective) pretty good ... but, I am afraid that aside from corporate study on Sunday at church and a Friday night Bible study that I do not sit and read God's Word. I have a number of excuses. There's, I am so busy - there is just not time in the day. Or, I can't find a Bible study group that I want to join. How about ... I just can't seem to persevere and have follow through. Do you recognize any of them?

Before I go any further let me begin by saying that the works part is important ... but, only when they are in response to a deep, personal relationship with Christ. I have a personal relationship with Christ, what I lack is the deepness that comes from sitting with Him ... sometimes without even speaking a word ... and studying His Word. The two should be intimately linked and should spur each other on.

I have written a rather long, unpublished blog about this very thing ... but had not reacted to what God had shown me until now. You see after writing it, God spoke to me through two different Pastors on the same subject. He told me through me .. then two others. Then the name Zechariah came to mind and I turned there ... a word immediately jumped off the page ... encouragement. And, as this word landed in my soul, I just knew that this was the book that I would study without any other companion than God. (And you ... as I share whatever lands upon my heart to share.)

I started today ... beginning with a quick history lesson involving a people (God's chosen people) that were called to return home from exile to rebuild God's temple ... who built a foundation, but then in fear failed to finish. About a God, who waited patiently for 16 years ... and then sent two new messengers to His people to remind them of their charge. One of which was Zechariah and the other Haggai. Haggai actually delivered God's message to the Jewish people first and they once again began the work of building the temple. It was after they were doing so that God used Zechariah to speak to them again ... only this time in a call to repent and return to Him ... with the promise that He will in turn return to them.

There are a few things that in this that is important for us as followers of Christ.

First, God called them to do His work on the temple before he called them to repent and return to Him. God chose to use them in spite of their sin and not because they had repented from it. Let me interject here .. that God did call them to repent ... just as He will us ... the amazing part is that He chose to use them first ... even in their sin. Just as He will us if He chooses.

Second, and don't miss this part. They were already rebuilding His temple ... and were told, "Return to me, and I will return to you, says the L
ord of Heaven’s Armies.’" v2 You see, He chose to use them to do His work and fulfill His plan and they were ... but even so He made it clear that if they chose not to return to Him in repentance, He would not return to Him. This holds a pattern of action for us if we are to truly experience God and His hand in our lives as completely and deeply as He desires. There are times that all of us feel separated from God. But, He will not return to us ... until we return to Him ... and if we do not then we miss out on His presence as He completes His plan through us.

Finally, God waited for His people to return to building the temple for 16 years. They had failed Him out of fear, but he waited and gave them another chance. How many times have I failed Him out of fear? I am so very thankful that He chooses to ask again.

There is one other really cool thing that I learned in studying this passage and reading a few commentaries to check my understanding. Something that just makes me love how purposeful God is. How He really leaves nothing to chance. Zechariah identifies Himself as "Zechariah son of Berekiah, the son of Iddo." As we all know the meanings of names in the Bible are often important and revealing ... as they are in this case ... you see
Zechariah means "God remembers"
Berechiah, his father's name, means "God blesses"
and Iddo, his grandfather's name, means "At the appointed time."

Put it together and we have: God remembers and God blesses as the appointed time ... which the commentator identified as one of the major themes of this book.

Amazing God we have friends ... simply amazing.


Thursday, May 6, 2010

Loving like Mr. Goodwell

OK ... so let me just admit right now that they new Mercy Me album has captivated me and has challenged me ... inspired me ... and just made my dance! (For real in my classroom after everyone had gone ... I just could not help it.) Anyway, there is a point to this that is beyond telling you how great this album is ... a point that hit me hard. A point not found in the song lyrics (this time) but rather in the writing found on the first page of the inside cover of the digital booklet ... which read:

Who is Mr. Lovewell? He's an idea. He's a movement. He's the hope that the little things can add up to big change. He's what the Bible already called us to do ... love one another. Look for the best in people. Give people a chance regardless of status, race or gender. Mr. Lovewell is the understanding that the gospel is for everyone. Some may receive it, some may reject it, but from where we are standing, all that should matter is that the Gospel applies to us all. Who are we to demand the outcome before we decide to contribute? Do we wait and tip the waitress only if she's done a great job? Or do we tip her even when she's having the worst day? That's what God's grace is ... unconditional. Grace leaves no room for "I've earned this" or "I deserve this." What a concept! To love no matter what!

And that, my friend, is Mr. Lovewell. Who knows ... maybe he'll rub off on a few people. Are you a Lovewell?

I wish we were able to chat live right now ... at the moment that you read this and ask you if you caught it like I did .. right between the eyes. Here is what hit me:

Who are we to demand the outcome before we decide to contribute? Do we wait and tip the waitress only if she's done a great job? Or do we tip her even when she's having the worst day?

How many times do I wait to see the outcome before I decide to contribute? How many times do I apply if ... then stipulations to the responses that God asks of me as His child? All the time.

Let's take the example they gave. I have had such bad service from a waitress that I left a penny to make a point. Ouch. Yes, her service was horrible ... but what was behind it? If she was that bad all the time, would she really be working there? Or ... was there something horrible that happened to her that day that she just couldn't bury deep enough that it didn't effect her performance. Maybe her husband walked out on her ... Maybe she lost a loved one ... Who knows. I never thought to look beyond her bad service, only to punish her for it.

As I sit and type this, example upon example keep flooding in. I will share a few.

"If I give this homeless man money, he'll probably buy drugs. So I will give him none."

"If this person would just manage their money better, they would be fine ... so maybe they will learn a lesson if they have to live without air for a few days."

"If I knew that ____ was truly sorry, I would call and forgive."

"If that person was nicer to me, I would invest more time in getting to know them."

"If I knew that this (fill in the blank) would help, I would do it."

How deady that way of thinking is. You see we can talk ourselves right out of doing things that we should do. We can fall into the trap of needing proof before we act, of making sharing grace conditional, of hiding behind expectations ... when God wants action. Am I free with grace? Do I expect people to earn it? or deserve it? Ouch. The sad part is that it does not only affect the people that I fail to offer it to ... it affects me as well. I miss out on the blessing of people seeing Christ's mercy in me. I miss out on:

The honest thanks of a person that needs help.

Helping someone see that God's love is bigger than whether we deserve it or not.

The gift of new beginnings ... instead of sad endings.

The opportunity to get to know others ... without their masks on.

The opportunity to plant seeds ... even if I don't ever find out if it helped.

Most tragically, I miss out on being a touchable, tangible picture of God's love and mercy in action. I miss out on being His hands and feet. I miss out on learning what grace really means. You see any teacher can tell you that people in general do not learn by being told ... they learn by doing.


Monday, May 3, 2010

Introducing Mr. Lovewell

It is no secret that I am a cancer survivor, but some of you might not know that the phone call that threw my life into a journey that I will never forget, also started me on a love for the words God speaks through Mercy Me that has lasted to this day. Their album, Almost There, was just about the only thing I listened to for the first few weeks of my journey... it just spoke to my soul ... every song, every word, every breath. So, it is no surprise that I have been counting down the days to the release of the much pondered The Generous Mr. Lovewell, due out Tuesday, May 4th. What was a surprise was what I found today, Monday, May 3rd, when I visited itunes - The album available for down load a whole day early! What a way to end Monday.

"The new album, entitled The Generous Mr. Lovewell is about a fictional character named Mr. Lovewell who reminds us that, in relating with others, it is not enough to simply love others; we must learn to love well.

The idea is based on a fictional character who wakes up every day thinking that he’s going to make a difference in the world around him and so the generous Mr. Lovewell wakes up everyday knowing that, no matter what happens, he is going to love today."

In the words of the lead singer, Bart:

"Society has this concept of what love is and it’s very shallow and very lustful and everything that is… it’s mostly… Love from the Bible’s standpoint is kind of the opposite of what society and media may look at it as. And so the idea was, it’s not enough just to love but how do you love well. How do you do it well. It’s not just helping your neighbor or doing whatever you can for them. It’s going the extra step and saying here’s the deal, if I truly love you well, then I can’t not tell you what’s changed my life!"

I have listened to a few songs and there is one that really caught my heart. The lyrics are as follows:

Won’t You Be My Love

When you fall asleep tonight
In your warn and cozy room
Know that I’m awake and I
Got no shelter and no food

I am not alone
My friends are broke and lost
Looking for someone
To lead them to the cross

I need your hands
I need your hands

Won’t you be my voice calling
Won’t you be my hands healing
Won’t you be my feet walking
To a broken world

Won't you be my chain breaker
Won't you be my peace maker
Won’t you be hope and joy
Won’t you be my love

The other side of the world
She’s just a few days old
A helpless little girl
With no family of her own

She is not blame for the journey she is on
Her life is no mistake
Would you lead her to my cross

Won’t you be my voice calling
Won’t you be my hands healing
Won’t you be my feet walking
To a broken world

Wont you be my chain breaker
Won’ t you be my peace maker
Won’t you be hope and joy
Won’t you be my love

To those I call my own
To those I’ve set aside
As spotless without blame
The chosen ones
My bride

We will be your voice calling
We will be your hands healing
We will be your feet walking
To a broken world

We will be your chain breaker
We will be your peace-maker
We will be your hope and joy
We will be your love

We will be your love

We will be your love

We will be your love

God we love

We will be you love

I am left speechless ... maybe perhaps because it time for all of us to take action and love well.


Monday, April 19, 2010

LIfe's Little Instructions

Two amazing things happened today. Perhaps the more incredible of the two ... I kept a doctor's appointment. Having lived a life of never-ending doctor's appointments for the better part of year during my walk with cancer, I just can't stand to go. Not to the doctor, not to the dentist ... I am not prejudiced in my dislike .. I dislike going to them all. This dislike often results in me ending up canceling appointments ... to be rescheduled sometimes, while others not. Well, not today. Today I went to the dentist ... exactly six months after my last visit. (Not that I did not want to cancel, but they were closed on Friday and I could not get anyone on the phone to cancel it. I tried, but having failed ... I went.) The second amazing thing happened while I was in the bathroom brushing my teeth. Yes, I brush my teeth before I get them cleaned. There is no way that I am about to subject the hygienist to food particles that are left over from lunch. I would be mortified. In fact, I brushed for 4 minutes ... with my Sonic Care, which I packed in my purse this morning! Anyway, I was brushing my teeth and reading this poster that I always tend to read when I am getting ready to have my teeth cleaned, when I read a line that stuck out to me:

Live live as an exclamation, not an explanation.

It was a moment that was just short of an epiphany. Live life as an exclamation. What came to mind was an exclamation mark. It started me wondering where the little mark that says so much and changes the meaning of sentences with just its mere presence can from. A quick search helped to glean the following. "The mark comes from the Latin word io, meaning "exclamation of joy." A mark of joy. A quick substitution and we have the following:

Live life as an exclamation of joy, not an explanation.

An explanation on the other hand is defined as a "set of statements constructed to describe a set of facts which clarifies the causes, content, and consequences of those facts." A quick substitution and we have the following:

Live life as an exclamation of joy, not a set of statements.

You see it is easy to state the facts of our faith. I would venture to say that all of us are fairly equipped to do that, but I would challenge you with the idea that those facts mean nothing if that is all we are ... a "set of statements." You see, it is the joy that we have in Christ that sets us apart. If we choose to abide in God's love and keep His commandments then His joy will remain in us, and our joy will be full. (Paraphrase of John 15:11) That joy is the exclamation that we are to live. It is what happens when our faith sits within the emotion seat of our hearts ... instead of in the knowledge of our heads.

Times are difficult right now, but if the joy is missing ... then we need to stop and ask God to show us why. His desire for us is not despair, worry, and fear. 1Peter 1:6-9 says:
In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith; the salvation of your souls." This was one of my life verses during cancer, a time when I experienced joy that was contagious and unmistakable. It spoke volumes over the words that I tried to use to explain it ... it was the exclamation of a God that could make even cancer a time of joy.

Lord, help me to live each and every moment an exclamation, not an explanation. Amen.


Thursday, April 8, 2010

The Trappings of a Bird

I would like to introduce you to one of the most amazing little birds that I have ever been close enough to photograph: The Killdeer.

If you live in the Southwest may have seen them around, as they have a wide range and are fairly common. What makes them far from common is the amazing deception they pull off if they feel their eggs are in danger. At the first sign of danger, the Killdeer walks away from its nest while holding its wing in a way that simulates injury. Once she has the invader's attention, she then begins to flop around on the ground to mimic easy prey. With one eye on the offending creature, she leads it away from her nest ... keeping just feet out of reach. When she has the prey far enough away, the Killdeer will simply fly away.

The dedication of this little bird to its babies amazed me. Here she was taking on a human ... over a hundred times her size. She bravely tried to convince us to chase her and spare her babies. I could not help but wonder how often this deception ends in her demise, as it was clear that she was more than willing to lay down her life for her children.

Through His Word, God teaches of a love so great that His Son, Jesus Christ, willingly went to the cross to die in our place. As mothers, we often say that we love our children so much that we would be willing to do the same .. willing to die for them. BUT ... would we willingly die for one that to us is all but unworthy? Romans 5:7-8 says, "7For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— 8but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Even though we were unworthy.

Moses paints a beautiful picture of God's love, protection, and direction for us in Deuteronomy 32:11-12 which reads:

10"He found him in a desert land,
and in the howling waste of the wilderness;
he encircled him, he cared for him,
he kept him as the apple of his eye.
11 Like an eagle that stirs up its nest,
that flutters over its young,
spreading out its wings, catching them,
bearing them on its pinions

Let's take a closer look at the amazing picture that these verses paint, for there is some amazing truth in it that one might miss if they do not know about the parenting styles of eagles.

Let's start with verse 10 which explains that God found his people in the wilderness. He found them ... did you catch that ... He found them. The very words paint a picture of a God that loves His children enough to seek them out ... to find them ... even in the wilderness that they are in. Not only that, He encircled them, cared for them, and kept them the apple of His eye. How many times have we heard that expression? I did a little googling about it and discovered that the apple of an eye is literally the cornea of an eye. The apple of your eye is so well protected that it is almost impossible to touch it. Your eyelid automatically shuts if you try. So are we protected by Him no matter what kind of wilderness we are in.

Verse 11 says, "Like an eagle that stirs up its nest, that flutters over its young, spreading out its wings, catching them, bearing them on its pinions..." At first glance this seems like a beautiful picture of God's protection, but it is far more than that. To understand why, one has to learn a little bit about eagles and the unique way they parent.

Eagles build huge nests. They can be over 5 feet wide and can weigh over 2,000 pounds. Eagles line their nests with moss, greenery, and feathers to make it a safe comfortable place for their young. When they eaglets hatch, they are well protected in these massive nests. They are fiercely protective and will go to great lengths to provide for their young. They can fly as many as 180 miles a day while hunting for enough food to support the ravenous appetites of the growing eaglets. At 12 weeks of age the mother eagle hovers over the nest and flaps her wings which accomplishes two things. It"stirs us the nest" and dislodges all of the grass, moss, and feathers making the nest a far more uncomfortable place to be - and it encourages the young eaglets to fly. If, however, the eaglets refuse to try it, the mother eagle will actually push the eaglets out of the nest. In this moment of truth, the eaglet either flies and finds its way to safety or it plummets towards the ground. If the eaglet fails to fly, the mother saves them by "spreading out its wings, catching them, and bearing them on its pinions." Simply put, she swoops down and catches them on her wings and flies them back to the safety of the nest.

There is more than a lesson of God's protection in these verses. There is also a lesson on God's direction. You see when we first become Christians we spend some time in the safety of the nest, bit that is not where God would have us stay. We are not meant to stay in the comfort of safety. We, like the eaglets, were saved to fly ... to soar under the protection of His wings. God often purposely stirs the nests of His children to push them out of their comfort zones, to encourage them to soar under His protective eye.

We were created to me so much more than we sometimes aspire to be my friends. Let's not be content to stay in the safety of the nest. Like the eaglet, let us move to the nest's edge and take the plunge towards the journey that the Lord has for each of us ... knowing that He is there to catch us and hold us on His mights wings should we need it.

Under His wings I am safely abiding,
Though the night deepens and tempests are wild,
Still I can trust Him; I know He will keep me,
He has redeemed me, and I am His child.

Under His wings, under His wings,
Who from His love can sever?
Under His wings my soul shall abide,
Safely abide forever.

~William Cushing

May you soar ...


Sunday, March 28, 2010

Sin on a Silver Platter

This weekend I was blessed to spend the weekend with 3 of my 5 closest friends in the whole world in Tucson attending the Beth Moore conference. Having missed the Siesta Sister Memorization Fiesta, I was super excited to be able to go to this one and it could not have come at a better time. I have had many seasons in my walk with Christ. I have had seasons of complete dependence and seasons of independence. There have been seasons of fruit, and seasons of drought. Seasons of great change, and then those in which I hardly changed at all. But ... there has never been a season such as the one that I am coming out of now.

You see something happened a few weeks ago that made me decide to basically just take a break from God. I was so focused on the perceived cause of my break instead of my response, that I never even realized that I was in a state of rebellion. That is until God started calling me home last week. I will keep the ways private, but He did three separate things through three separate people to show me that although I was not speaking, He was. Suffice to say that He spoke loud enough that I knew my time of ignoring Him and the reasons I was doing so was coming to an end. I knew what He was going to ask of me. He was going to ask me to forgive ... something that I was not sure I would be able to do with all the raw feelings of hurt that had not improved at all. I began to see that I had not done what God asks us to do repeatedly in the Bible, and that my choice not to was tearing me apart. So I was looking forward to the weekend of forgiving. What I would never have guessed was that I was actually about to have my own sin handed to me on a silver platter.

It all started Friday night. Standing outside the doors I just knew that He would use the weekend to restore and resurrect my battered soul. I was both excited and completely scared as I waited. Friday night was good. The worship was anointed, as was the teaching. I cried and cried, but still felt the burden of my hurts. Then came Saturday ... specifically the second set of worship when Travis Cottrell spoke the words laid upon his heart. How each word became my heart beating ... how deeply they fell upon me ... how completely they consumed me. Travis suggested that we go to our knees if there were things that were burdening us, that we take them to the mercy-seat. There was not doubt in my mind that was exactly where my Father would have me go to meet Him. Then, the song began. There are not words to sufficiently describe what each note, each word, did ... suffice it to say ... they brought me to my knees and His feet. One word Travis spoke kept echoing in my soul ... surrender. God was calling me home ... but wanted me to come home in a stance of surrender ... physically ... spiritually ... and emotionally. Once there ... God quickly showed me that what had started out as my hurt had become my sin. My sin of unforgiveness. My sin of turning from Him. My sin of rebellion. How quickly I realized that coming home meant asking for forgiveness for my sin ... not the judgment of someone else's. Ouch! My pride crumbled onto the metal floor of the risers I was kneeling on as I confessed it and asked for forgiveness.

I learned a few lessons at the end of this season. I will forewarn you that none of them are earth shattering. They are things that I knew in my head, and heart. I am sure they are all things that we would read and say, "Duh ... I know that!" I would have. BUT, even with that said, I fell. So here goes....


We all carry hurts around. Some are bigger than others. One thing they all have in common is that they, like everything in life, can become idols when we carry them without taking them to God. When we harbor them they God encourages us throughout His Word to give our troubles to Him. For in our weakness He can be glorified. David is a good example of our heart’s attitude should be. In Psalms he says, “In my anguish I cried to the Lord, and he answered by setting me free. The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?” Psalm 118:5, 6 (NIV)


You can choose to ignore God, but God never chooses to ignore us. Nothing we do, or do not do, goes unnoticed. If we are in sin and are not being convicted, it is just a matter of time. You see our sin keeps us from our primary purpose: being lights that point to Him, so that He will be glorified. It is all about Him.


God does not correct to tear us down or beat us up. He does not delight in our failures. He corrects us because He loves us (Heb. 12:6) and to bring peace into our lives. (Heb. 12:10) What He wants is to bring us back to Him.


In a few days, it will be the 1,977th anniversary of Christ's death. In three more days it will be the 1,977th anniversary of the Resurrection of Christ. All of the above lessons are possible because of this one set of events. On Saturday, I went to the mercy seat with a beaten and tattered soul. In His mercy and forgiveness I found grace and restoration. All He asks is that we meet Him there. What better way is there to honor the sacrifice He made to save us?


Wednesday, March 24, 2010

When God Blows Off the Dust

I just love finding old boxes of keepsakes that have been put away for awhile ... the kind of boxes that you take down "just to see what's in them" only to be greeted by a face full of dust flakes when they are first tipped into your hands. The kind that bring back the feelings of playing treasure hunt when you were little. I love the feelings of anticipation, eagerness, and curiosity all rolled into a healthy dose of remembering things long past. When I do visit them, the scene goes something like this:

Feeling sentimental, I take down the box. Standing on tiptoes, I use my fingertips to tip the box slightly causing it (and some of the dust resting on it) to fall into my arms (and face). Tenderly I wipe off the dust to reveal the word keepsakes, which I trace with my finger before opening it. Opening the box, my eyes and heart are flooded with instant memories. It is almost too much to bear. One by one I pick up objects tied to ancient memories and for that moment relive them as if they happened yesterday. When at last I reach the bottom, I put it all carefully back in ... replace the lid ... and return the box to its elevated home.

Some might call this an exercise in sentimentality, but I think it is more than that. To me, this whole process keeps me grounded to who I been and what has happened both good and bad to make me the person I am today ... and so I keep returning to the box from time to time ... some times to remember sometimes to add more.

The other day, I had such a journey ... BUT I never touched my keepsake box - God touched His. The one that he keeps on me ... the one that He wrote Keepsakes upon and tucked away. Gingerly he took it out ... I felt it happen ... He lovingly traced the word with His fingertip ... (notice that He did not blow the dust off of it .. as I am most positive that there is no dust in Heaven) ... He opened it ... and took out the tears I cried when I had cancer. (Psalm 56:8) Holding them up to the eternal light of Heaven, He smiled. You see, as He was doing this, I was having a conversation with a friend that is an Oncology nurse. I was inspired to share my cancer story with her, which I did. I offered to share some of my writings with her, and she said that they might be able to use them in their quiet room that they provide for the patients. We also talked about me coming in and talking with the patients ... being a positive beacon of hope for them. That is why God smiled while holding my tears ... He had a purpose in taking down His keepsake box. You see His keepsake box, like mine, holds within it all of the things of my life that have made me who I am today ...things that He has allowed knowing that he would use them to do great things. That day He took out my cancer to use it again... And just like when I open my box ... it touched me and made me cry ... only this time they were tears of gratitude at the tenderness of my Savior's hand and the faithfulness of His Word.

So whatever you are going through ... remember that God has a keepsake box on you. too. One that He will open from time to time and use the contents to do great things.


Thursday, March 11, 2010

Give a Day ... Get A Whole Lot More

Last December my family and I heard about Disney's "Give a Day, Get a Day" promotion, and we could not wait to sign up in January when the program officially started. We logged in the day it started and found the perfect place to volunteer, Dreamchaser Horse and Rescue in New River, Arizona. I was raised with horses, and absolutely love them. (If I could pass one off as a rather large dog with our HOA, I would have one grazing in my backyard right now.) To be able to help these amazing people who rescue neglected and abused horses and get free tickets to Disney? It was an amazing opportunity. Those of you that know me, know that I am an honest person and that I have been fairly transparent on this blog ... today is no exception. The main reason that we signed up to help was the free tickets. My youngest daughter has never been to Disney, the tickets are really too expensive for us in this day and age, and this was a way to go for free. It sounds shallow, but it is truth ... although not the whole truth in the end. Before I explain what I mean by that, I would like to share the experience of our day with you.

Yesterday was our "day" of service. (Clarification, at this particular site the volunteer time slot is from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. - 4 hours ... hardly a "day" in the literal sense of the word.) We got up early (5:30 a.m.) and headed out to New River. It was still a bit dark when we left the house at 6:30, but we were in for a beautiful sunrise. Splashes of pick and purple highlighted the horizon as the sun began its ascent into the cloud strewn sky. Driving through the open desert, everything was in sillouette and so very peaceful. Admiring the stillness was a great way to spend the time it took to get there.

When we arrived in New River, we were surprised by the lack of paved roads. Choosing the more green option, New River has ecomonically thrifty dirt roads that are rather bumpy and make one feel a little as if they are going off-roading. The first thing that Jillian noticed was old fashioned mailboxes pictured on the left. When she saw them, she asked: "Mommy, are they having a mailbox sale?" I responded, "Why do you ask that?" To which she replied, "Well, they have a table full of mailboxes over there." We could not help but giggle, as I explained that all mailboxes used to be like these.

The next thing we noticed was the amazing way that the morning light played upon the surrounding landscape, and just how green it was ... thanks to all the rain that we have been having in the last month or two. There is just something magical about the golden hue that the morning sun bathes all creation in. In the birth of a new day the color of everything just seems more vibrant, more alive. To my gain, Google maps had sent us in the wrong direction, and while Pat was trying to figure out just where we went wrong and how to get where we needed to be ... I jumped out and tried to capture the amazing light with my camera. Soon after, Pat decided that the best thing to do was to turn around and head back to the first main street that we had been on and start over. It was getting close to 8:00 and we had precious few moments to loose.

After a little backtracking, we happened to notice a small sign on the side of the road that declared (in small letters) that Dreamchaser Rescue was right down the road. (Not the road that Google maps had listed, but the right road nonetheless!) We arrived with just seconds to spare, parked our car, and jumped out into the .... mud. Acres and acres of the wet, dirty, sink in to your ankle kind of mud. It did not take but a moment to take the jump into the full realization that we were in for one wet muddy day ... full of dirt ... water ... and poop. Looking at all the stalls, we knew that mucking stalls was in our future ... with all the muck multiplied by 100 from all of the recent rain. Looking down at our white tennis shoes, we also knew that we would be most likely going shoe shopping in the near future.

We spent the 4 hours there split between two jobs. First, we were introduced to the most interesting rakes that I have ever seen ... and the wettest stalls that I had ever seen. We raked ... we shoveled ... we scooped ... we pushed ... and we dumped our offering of manure onto the biggest pile of manure I have ever seen. Have you seen the shows where they have the trash collection bins delivered to houses that are being completely rehauled? The ones that take up a complete driveway? The ones that are just shorter than a semi? Well there were two of them, and they were absolutely full of manure! Let's just say that we are so grateful that we did our time before fly season!

The second half of the day, we spent our time digging up large rocks out of a large grassy area and dumping them around the outside of the field to make "a wall." After about an hour of rock detail we decided that we would actually prefer the dirty, dredges of pasture poop detail to the boring, monotonousness of rock detail. At least in the pastures and corrals there were horses to pet and visit with. (We tried that with one of the larger boulders we moved, but it was just not the same.)

Four hours later, we were finished, sore, and really muddy. My youngest managed to fall into the most disgusting puddle of yellowish liquid ... I almost got run over by a jealous horse ... and our shoes are now brown. I am not sure there is enough bleach in the whole industrialized part of the world to make them white again. I have thought about contacting the makers of Oxyclean and asking them if they would like to purchase them to use in their next infomercial ... they would make a fortune if they could get them back to white. I personally would buy a life time supply. We did finish the wall, the stalls were clean ... until they remade the mess just as we walked away ... and we did earn our tickets to Disney. There is one thing, however, that happened that I was not expecting. Both of my children, even though covered in mud and whatever else, unanimously agreed that they wanted to come back to Dreamcatcher again and volunteer their time ... even though there would be no more Disney Tickets, no pay out, and no earthly reward. That was perhaps the biggest perk of our Give a Day, Get a Day experience ... my children found within them hearts that want to serve ... just to serve.

Some Additional Pictures

K and "Poppy" who liked to lick more than any dog I have ever met.

Poppy in action.

The yellowish puddle that Jillian fell in.

The donkey - Phil

The Goats

The Pig

The (Dirty) End