Friday, September 29, 2006


I am the oldest of four children; I am two years older than my sister, 4 years older than my brother and 8 years older than my youngest sister. Growing up, I fancied myself a mom in training and often “filled in” when mom wasn’t around. The problem arose when I felt the need to “discipline” in front of my mom or when I tried to beat her to the punch. Many, many times in my life I heard my mom say, “Meagan, let me be the parent!” or my siblings say “You’re not the boss of me!”

I am obviously much older now but the “urge” to parent has not gone away even though all of my siblings are adults. Many times I feel frustrated over an argument or discussion I witness and have to divert myself so I don’t chime in with my own exhortations. I witnessed such a “discussion” tonight and quickly busied myself so I wouldn’t be tempted to interrupt with my own comments. It was really hard to keep my mouth shut….REALLY hard and looking back I have to ask myself why I want so badly to intervene over something so small yet I keep my mouth shut about the really big stuff.

I can think of quite a few times in my life when I’ve seen friends in trouble or headed down a destructive path and I’ve stood idly by or just lightly broached the problem. The first year of my marriage was the toughest one we’ve had thus far (and hopefully will remain the toughest); adjusting to married life and the stress of being in a new town with new jobs barely making ends meet made for a very stressful marriage. We were headed down a destructive path in our marriage but had no gauge with which to realize we were headed for trouble. We hit rock bottom before we were able to come out on top and looking back I see that we were clearly in trouble and no one from our church family said anything (our parents were so far away they didn’t know). Can you think of a time when you’ve avoided confronting someone about destructive behavior when you knew you should?

Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.
Galatians 6:2

Your thoughts?

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Objects May Appear Larger

I laughed hysterically as a loved one recounted to me the conversation she inadvertantly overheard about me. Apparently at a recent gathering there was a rather large group of people talking about various members of our church staff and speculating as to how much money each one made. In doing so, one of the people made a comment about me having "come from money". I still laugh when I say it because nothing could be further from the truth, but that isn't the point. One member had commented on my clothing, and the fact that I carry a Louis Vuitton purse while another chimed in about how old and expensive the furniture in my house appeared and that I am always drinking Starbucks. I laughed and laughed as she recounted each detail and she told me how hard it was not to interrupt the conversation and tell them that I drink Starbucks because my husband worked there and now makes the tasty drinks in our home, or that my Louis was a black market buy in the Bahamas for a measily $40, or that I buy clothes at Target, Walmart, and Ross or that my house is furnished by my family's co-op.

Until that moment I had never realized how my appearance looked to people outside of my close circle of friends. Anyone who really knows me well knows how much I love a good bargain and despise paying full price. I'm the girl who begins her Christmas shopping the day after Christmas so that I can make the most of the sales and so that I will have enough time to bargain hunt and comparison shop to squeeze every last drop out of every nickel I spend. Comment on something I am wearing or something I have and chances are I'll tell you where I got it and how much I paid for it, regardless of how annoying it is. I got a big kick out of the conversation but later when I was alone I began to wonder, is that the image I want other people to see? What should I be reflecting, that I come from money or that I am a child of God? What do you reflect?

As water reflects a face, so a man's heart reflects the man.
Proverbs 27:19

Your thoughts?

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Busy Little Bees

Just a few days ago my husband and I stopped at a fast food restaurant to pick up some food on the way to a friend's house. As we pulled up to pay, my husband rolled down his window and in flew a small bee. My husband shrieked and immediately began batting at the tiny little bug. The bee flew around the cab of our car desperately searching for a way to escape the flailing. As the bee approached my husband's head, Travis ripped off his seatbelt, threw open the door and jumped out of the car. Both the cashier and I were laughing hysterically as my husband thrashed and flailed about before jumping back in the car and rolling up the window as quickly as possible. It amazes me that a grown man, capable of squashing that small bee with two fingers, would be so afraid of a little bug. The same man who fearlessly enters burning buildings and precarious situations on a daily basis so afraid of a "predator" not even worthy of being called an opponent.

I think sometimes in the church body we get so focused on the "little bees" (the complainers, the bickerers, the "politicians" and those with negative attitudes) that we spend all of our focus on keeping the peace and wind up being too tuckered out to spiritually form those "bees". I am constantly amazed at the prevalence of triangulation in the church today and how Satan can so quickly turn the body against itself. You know what I am talking about; Person A is upset about something Person B said or did and instead of approaching them about it they go and talk to Person C (triangle). Oh how Satan keeps us busy to prevent spiritual formation and work in the kingdom! How does Satan distract you from kingdom work?

I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought.
1 Corinthians 1:10

Your thoughts?

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

The Pond

My husband and I recently decided to give away the two big dogs that were living in our backyard because we were spending way too much money on a couple of animals we hardly spend time with. Once the animals had been vacated, the backyard looked almost sad with large potholes the size of small cars, crooked brush, and dead grass. Not sure what to do with the large hole closest to our house, my husband and I decided to line it and make it a small pond. Yes, the hole was that big. After transplanting a few straggling plants, adding a new pump and a couple of aquatic plants, we had completed the first step in reclaiming our pathetic little back yard.

A couple of days went by and while we really enjoyed the peaceful sounds of the waterfall and the paw print-free glass on our back door it started to feel like something was missing so we decided to add fish to our little pond. I did the research thinking that Koi were the way to go but was floored by the cost of the even a single fish. In the end we decided to go with a few common goldfish, hearty, colorful, and $.27 a piece. I was kind of miffed at first because the half inch long fish didn't look too promising when the clerk pulled them out of the aquarium but he assured us that they would grow and multiply quickly. "How big will they get?" I inquired. "Oh, 'bout 12 to 14 inches" the clerk replied as he tied off the plastic bag, "These guys are lucky that you are putting them in a big pond because they will be able to reach their full potential." You see, what I never knew is that goldfish only grow as big as their tank so that when put in a small one-gallon tank they will never grow bigger than the half inch at which they began but when put in a large 100-gallon pond, like the one in our backyard, they will quickly grow to be rather large, established fish.

Isn't the same true of us spiritually? Fresh out of the waters of baptism as newborn Christians we are eager and on fire for the cause of Christ but unless we continue to learn and grow and be challenged in our faith we will never fully grow into the mature Christians God intended us to be. How do you make sure your pond is "big enough" to reach your full-potential?

Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.
Hebrews 5:13-14

Your thoughts?

Monday, September 25, 2006

Table Scraps

My sweet little Chihuahua, Daisy, lives and breathes for table scraps. Before you go judging me based on what you think I give my dog, you should know that three years ago after an all night event at the emergency vet and an $800 bill we made the decision to stop giving her "people food" because her little doggy tummy couldn't handle it. Daisy, however, has not forgotten one piece of food she has ever received from us and if we fix a food that was ever given to her at anytime in her life she remembers and becomes a relentless beggar (and is usually punished). I'd like to say that it has been three years since she had table scraps but my dad refuses to comply and Daisy is always underfoot when we are cooking; if anything drops from the counter or stove she gobbles it down before it even has time to hit the floor. She, of course, thinks that we gave her that food so the begging continues.

Last year, while pregnant and on my 7th week of bed rest, I was reclined and relaxing on our den couch working on my laptop and eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Daisy was lying next to me and watching LITERALLY every single bite. At one point during my meal I got so caught up in something I was doing on the laptop that I inadvertently held the sandwich off to the side and right in front of her face and before I had even realized what had happened she had gobbled the entire half in one bite. At first I yelled at her and sent her to her crate but upon reflection I began to look at the situation from her perspective. Poor little Daisy was just sitting there watching me eat. From her vantage point it had looked as though I had just stopped eating and held the sandwich out for her to take a bite, not unlike I had done a hundred different times whe she was a puppy (no I do not eat after my dog). My poor little dog has no idea what a laptop is or that I can be distracted by it and she has no reason to believe I wouldn't share the sandwich with her.

I am sorry to say that Daisy isn't the only one to suffer from my inability to see things from another's perspective. I realized recently how easily I get angry at other people because they do something contrary to what I think they should do when I have no idea what things are really like in their lives. So often I demand people to see things from my point of view or to put themselves in my place or in my shoes yet I am totally unwilling to do the same for others. What is it about us that makes us think that our perspective or our situation is so much more unique or demanding than another's? I can think of a million and one times in my relationship with my husband when our arguments have been about trying to make the other person see things from our own point of view rather than us trying to better understand the other person in favor of our own perspective. How has a little perspective changed your relationship with someone?

Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble.
1 Peter 3:8

Your thoughts?

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Places I've Been

Here is a sampling of some of the places I've been this week; I hope these blogs are as beneficial to you as they were to me.

Check out Jim's blog, A Place for the God Hungry, for a couple of great pieces on generosity. Part one is here and part two is here.

Then head over to Christopher's Blog, Green Pastures, for a piece on maintaining a Godly schedule.

Finally, check out this new meme I've discovered called Love Thursday as hosted by Chookooloonks and be sure to check out the corresponding Love Flickr Pool. I had all kinds of warm fuzzies after reading the entries.

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.
1 Thessalonians 5:11

Where have you been this week?

Friday, September 22, 2006

In A Rut

I was born without a single solitary competitive bone; my siblings got all of them. When I was a kid, both my sister and my brother would beg me to race them until I finally gave in. We’d line up, someone would say “go” and both of them would break into a sprint, practically sweating blood trying to win. I, on the other hand, giggled the whole time I jogged behind them.

I played sports in both junior high and high school but didn’t pursue them seriously because I really didn’t care whether we won or lost. I still remember how mad my basketball coach got when I giggled at the huge vein in his forehead instead of listening intently as he gave us instructions to win. I am not the kind of person to push myself physically; anytime I’ve accomplished something significant athletically it has been because someone else pushed me. After the birth of my son I had a lot of weight to lose before I could fit into the bridesmaid dress my friend picked out for her wedding. I knew immediately that the only way it was going to happen is if someone else pushed me. I joined an exercise club at my local gym AND paid money to be a part of the club. All I can say is that I totally credit our team leader, Summer, for the weight that I lost because without her pushing me (sometimes literally) I just wouldn’t have even bothered. It was hard to get started but the accountability (Summer), plus with the commitment (I paid for it), combined with the habit (took about 6 weeks but it did become habit) and now I actually enjoy working out and find that I AM able to push myself.

There have been many times in my life when I’ve found myself in a rut spiritually. I know that I should be pursuing a relationship with God or praying or studying the Bible but I just can’t get started. Sometimes all it takes is a little accountability, a commitment, and a habit to get out of the rut and move closer to the cross. How do you handle a spiritual rut?

I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 3:14

Your thoughts?

The Gate

Shortly after our first year of marriage, my husband bought me a sweet little Chihuahua that we named Daisy. Daisy is a very intelligent dog and for the first several months of her life we had a hard time keeping her contained to our little apartment. We purchased a child-gate to put across the door leading from our apartment to the main house (we lived with my parents) but it was only a few days before she figured out that she could jump over the gate, Knowing how afraid she is of loud noises, my husband unlatched the gate and began just propping it up against the door. The first time she tried to jump over the gate it came crashing down in a loud bang and that was the end of Daisy jumping over the gate; in fact it was the end of her trying to escape the apartment at all.

It has been four years since we've had a child gate up anywhere in our house but since we have a very mobile 8-month-old we've had to bring out the gates to keep him in certain rooms. Daisy is three times the size she was in her gate jumping days and now she can jump heights up to two and three times the height of the gate, but does she? No way. Because of the hassle of latching and unlatching the gate, we attempted to persuade Daisy just to jump over the gate, but instead she lies down in front of the gate and whines and whines. No amount of calling, encouraging, bribing, or demonstrations will dissuade her from her fear.

Don't we do the same thing? So many times I can feel God calling me out in faith but I am too scared or too insecure to trust his judgment. Just like we knew the dog would be safe from the loud "falling noise", God knows and sees all things and just asks us to trust him. How are you crippled by fear?

In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can mortal man do to me?
Psalm 56:4

Your thoughts?

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Extraordinary News

This week's edition of Extraordinary News highlights the story of Shannon Waters and the blind, deaf, partially brain-dead, methamphetamine-addicted baby she adopted after the baby's own mother abused her in utero almost to the point of death. The story was originally aired to highlight the dangers of drug use but the real story is in the 22 days that Shannon and little Ally shared together. I won't even attempt to recreate the story because I wouldn't be able to do it justice. Check out the story and video as it was broadcast on WFAA 8 Dallas at Ally's Story.

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
James 1:27

Your thoughts?

Tuesday, September 19, 2006


I woke up in a cold sweat, gasping for breath, the dream still as real as if it had just happened. I was peacefully walking along a beach when suddenly I had this overwhelming sense of urgency to turn and look at the ocean. As I slowly turned to face the peaceful water, I saw a wave bigger than I ever thought I was capable of imagining appear out of nowhere; before I could even gasp a breath of air it engulfed everything in sight. As I lay in bed, drenched in sweat, I began to cry because I realized that the dream embodied everything I've been feeling for the past week or so.

I've always known the chinks in my spiritual armor, the weak spots that Satan picks at in his cunning little way and for the most part I know how to thwart his sneaky attacks because he and I have been battling each other for years. But Satan is sneaky and conniving and lately he has been tempting me in a way that is very foreign but surprisingly not that uncomfortable to me. Just when I thought that I knew where all the vulnerable parts of my life where hidden, he took a sledge hammer and went straight for my gut. As I've been battling the evil suddenly enveloping my life, I've felt as though I've been sucked under a giant swirling wave. No matter how I grasped or clawed my way to the top I knew deep down inside that nothing short of a heavenly intervention would save me.

This morning in our staff prayer time our leader brought us into our devotional time by reading to us from Psalm 141. As I sat there listening, my soul silently gasping for air, I began to feel the Lord's almighty hand reach into the swirling wave to fish me out of the torrent. As we prayed I felt the waves part and the air hit my face as I took that first breath of clean fresh air.

If I am honest with myself, I know that I am not out of the water yet but I do know that I am in capable hands.

O LORD, I call to you; come quickly to me.
Hear my voice when I call to you.

May my prayer be set before you like incense;
may the lifting up of my hands be like the evening sacrifice.

Set a guard over my mouth, O LORD;
keep watch over the door of my lips.

Let not my heart be drawn to what is evil,
to take part in wicked deeds
with men who are evildoers;
let me not eat of their delicacies.

Let a righteous man strike me—it is a kindness;
let him rebuke me—it is oil on my head.
My head will not refuse it.
Yet my prayer is ever against the deeds of evildoers;

their rulers will be thrown down from the cliffs,
and the wicked will learn that my words were well spoken.

They will say, "As one plows and breaks up the earth,
so our bones have been scattered at the mouth of the grave. "

But my eyes are fixed on you, O Sovereign LORD;
in you I take refuge—do not give me over to death.

Keep me from the snares they have laid for me,
from the traps set by evildoers.

Let the wicked fall into their own nets,
while I pass by in safety.

Psalm 141

Your thoughts?

Monday, September 18, 2006


I began the drive completely exhausted and with a bad attitude after a sleepless night taking care of my sick little boy. Lack of sleep is not a new thing for me; I knew that when my husband returned home from the fire department I would need to catch a couple hours of sleep if I was going to make it through the weekend. But when my husband walked in after working 72 hours straight, I saw that the workload and the lack of sleep had taken its' toll on his health; he was so sick he could hardly function.

Leaving my sick, sleep-deprived husband with our sick 8-month old son so that I could attend an Elders/Ministers Retreat was literally one of the hardest things I've ever had to do. I cried as I kissed them both goodbye and dragged myself to the car to make the hour long trip. Everything in me screamed that I needed to be home taking care of my husband and my son but I knew that I had an obligation to be at this retreat and that nothing short of an emergency would justify me not being there.

By the time I arrived at the camp ground I was just flat out angry at the situation and and my bad attitude was palpable. I dropped off my stuff in my room and headed into the center to meet with my co-workers and shepherds so that I could chit-chat politely until time to start.

The evening started with some games and ice-breakers, followed by a time of sharing and a short worship service. By the time we began our walk to dinner I realized that my "ice" had begun to thaw. After dinner we broke up into small groups for some very intriguing times of sharing followed by an experiential worship service lying on blankets underneath the stars.

When it was all over I remained there on the blanket as people began to pack up and I took a really deep breath and exhaled. I realized how good it felt and took another deep breath as my body silently informed me that I had been holding my breath all day. I basked in the afterglow of time spent with my Father and suddenly realized that he had thawed every last bit of the ice around my spirit.

How wonderful to have a Father who loves and accepts me in all my frozen imperfection and draws me into his all-encompassing light.

Since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.

2 Corinthians 7:1

Your thoughts?

Friday, September 15, 2006

Tag Out

The other night I attended a party to welcome a new minister to our staff. I was flying solo with my son because my husband was on shift; in spite of being ten minutes late I was the second person to arrive. As other people appeared, I staked my claim to a small patch of floor and brought out all the toys and books necessary to keep my little guy occupied. As people began to arrive and make the rounds hugging and greeting I remained in my perch wary of my son's tendency to get underfoot very quickly. About twenty minutes into the party I began a conversation with a friend of mine when I looked down and realized that my shirt was inside out. In a nanosecond I recalled all of the people I had hugged and spoken to and wondered how in the world I had not been notified of my blunder. As I escaped to the bathroom to right my shirt I decided only one of two things could have happened; either everyone I know is really oblivious to me and didn't notice the grossly obvious inside-out shirt OR everyone had noticed and no one had the courage to let me in on the secret.

I can think of many times in my life when a friend or loved one has had their "shirt inside out", when they were unknowingly wearing the big fat red flag of burnout, distraction, hopelessness, or complacency and I am either to caught up in myself to see or I see and I am too afraid to say something. Just the other day a good friend of mine pulled me aside and asked me about my postpartum depression and although it was a tiny bit embarrassing it was so refreshing to know that she cared enough about me to talk with me openly about it. As I look back on the times in my life when I've unknowingly raised the red flag and at the people who both noticed the sign and said or did something about it, I can't help but wonder whose flags I am on the lookout for.

Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above
Romans 12:10

Your thoughts?

Thursday, September 14, 2006


A few weeks ago, I got an unexpected email from a colleague that completely took me by surprise. The email was very terse and filled with accusatory words of hurt, anger, and dismay; apparently, in my rush to get to a lunch meeting, I had responded to a previous request from the colleague in a short, to-the-point voicemail about what I thought that person should do regarding an issue we were working on together. Apparently, it had come off as reprimanding and belittling. I apologized for the unintended tone, and assured my colleague that my shortness was in no way an indication that I was angry or frustrated. I expressed my deep appreciation for the matter being brought to my attention as the iciness immediately melted away and my colleague began to reflect and then finally said, “I think I am just on edge; it seems like everyone is always upset with me about something and now I just assume everyone is talking down to me.”

A few days later I had a conversation with a friend about a loved one who always made her feel guilty. My friend described situation after situation where the loved one would play “a guilt card” and yet, from my point of view, I couldn’t see where that was happening. I asked my friend about it and told her how things looked from my point of view and she said, “Hmmm, maybe I just assume she is playing the guilt card because it is something I could see myself doing…”The similarity in these two incidents really struck me because I can relate; I am so often guilty of assigning a preconceived outcome to a situation, based solely on my perspective at the time, that I totally misunderstand a situation. If the lens through which you see the world so greatly affects your reactions, your attitude, and your responses, how would a “God lens” change your life?

Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.
Mathew 9:35-36

Your thoughts?

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

No Fair!

Back in high school I was very involved in our school’s choir and was privileged to attend the state competition with the group many of those years. I remember one year in particular when several individuals were asked to compete in the solo portion of the competition and there were several talented singers representing our school, one of which was predicted to win all state. You can imagine our shock when the scores came in and that individual was slotted in last place and one of the weaker singers of the group was in first! Our choir director immediately went to the board protesting some kind of miscommunication and it was discovered that the judge in charge of scoring had assumed that on a scale of 1-5 that 5 was the less desirable score and 1 was the best and therefore had accidentally placed the first last and the last first. Because the “scores” had already been announced, the board felt uncomfortable revoking the award and backed the erroneous scores. I felt horrible for the young girl who was assumed to have the competition “in the bag” and watched as she very graciously kept quiet about the whole ordeal as to not take away from the glory of the other singer as they announced her accomplishment in chapel the following Monday.

Looking back on that incident I am not sure how I would have reacted had I been put in that position. So many times I feel a sense of entitlement for things I “feel” I deserve: promotions, equal treatment, recognition, vacation, discounts, forgiveness, the list is endless. How much different would my life be if I focused less on what I feel I deserve and more on the gift that I don’t deserve yet was freely given to me?

The greatest among you will be your servant. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.
Matthew 23:11-12

Your thoughts?

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

In "Other" Words

"Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another, "What! You too? I thought I was the only one!"
~ C.S. Lewis ~

I am a scaredy-cat. No, really, I am. I’ve been an avid-watcher of various crime dramas and law enforcement shows for most of my life and worked as a 911 dispatcher for nearly two years so let’s just say that I have plenty of ammunition to fuel my fears. Now that I am a mommy my fears revolve less around being overpowered by a “bad guy” and more around not being able to protect my baby from a “bad guy”. I know what you are thinking because my dad asks me the same question all the time, “Just what are all these bad guys doing around my house and what do they want?” Don’t get me started. I know all the recommended deterrents; I keep all kinds of lights on outside my house, I have deadbolts, a dog, an alarm, a hard-wired phone and a back up cell phone but I am still too scared to sleep at home by myself on the nights when my husband is at the fire department so I take my scaredy-cat behind and my baby boy and we spend the night with my parents EVERY THIRD NIGHT. We have been in this three day pattern since the day my husband began working at the fire station and for the most part it works very well. This weekend was a little different though because my parents left town to go visit my sister and weren’t going to be home until late Sunday night. I debated whether or not to go to their house (since they would be getting in later that night) or just stay home because an empty house is an empty house and finally decided to stay at home so I could get some housework done. Everything went perfectly until it was time to go to bed and I realized that I would have to check all of the doors on my own (as if I hadn’t already done that 20 times). By the time I made it back to the bedroom I was so freaked out that I grabbed my sleeping son out of his crib, put him in my bed and then locked the bedroom door and moved the dresser in front of it. Whew. I got ready for bed and snuggled down in the covers next to my sweet baby boy when I realized the air conditioner was still running and the thermostat was on the other side of my “security door”. Annoyed, I moved the dresser and turned the lock but nothing happened. I tried again and again and then realized that the lock on the door knob was not working and I was unable to open the door. I became frantic and began twisting and turning and hitting the door, frantic to get out. What if there is a fire? What if I we can’t get out the window? What am I going to do? I became more and more frantic before I realized just how ridiculous I was being, took a deep breath, and turned the lock and the lock disengaged.

Most people don’t have any clue that I am this way because I keep my paranoia to myself knowing that my fears are both unfounded and a little bit ridiculous. Last year, shortly after my husband and I joined a brand new small group at church, the group was spending an evening talking and getting to know each other when one of the women in the groups shared a story that caught my attention because it was filled with the same unfounded paranoia and imaginative fears that I deal with on a regular basis. I couldn’t believe it…there was someone else who was as nutty and paranoid as me. We began talking and sharing so many “scary” stories and the next thing we knew we had scheduled time to hang out together later on that week.

It is always so much fun to meet new people that share things in common with you, especially when the similarities are obscure but people and life situations change and relationships come and go. How much more wonderful to discover friendships that are based on something more permanent than hobbies or interests. One of the greatest blessings of being part of a church family is the Christian relationships that are born from common faith and beliefs. God really knew what he was doing when he formed the body of the church.

For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.
Matthew 18:20

Your thoughts?

Monday, September 11, 2006

I Remember

I was standing in line at Walmart waiting my turn to pay and thinking about what I was going to make for dinner that night. I stepped up to pay for my items and the cashier said, "Well I guess it is pretty much the beginning of the end times." I looked around to see if she was talking to someone else then turned back and said, "I'm sorry?" "You know, the bombs, World Trade Center?" she replied, "The beginning of the end." She handed me my receipt and I walked out the front door and to my car, completely confused. "That was weird" I said to myself as I buckled my seat belt and started the car. I pulled out of the parking lot and began to drive to work as I heard something mentioned about the World Trade Center on the radio. I turned up the volume and heard a report that a plane had hit one of the towers and thought back to what the cashier had said. Didn't the cashier say "bomb"? I walked in the lobby of my office building and pulled a large television cart to the center of the room and switched it on. My boss walked out of her office just in time for us both to see the second plane hit. Every muscle in my body froze as I stood there in horror unable to comprehend what I had just seen. My boss immediately turned and grabbed a phone to call the college president and I reached to my side and picked up the phone to call my husband, the church's youth minister, and when he answered all I could muster was "Turn on the television."

It has been five years since the twin towers fell but in many ways I feel closer to that day now than I did when it happened. I had only been married two months and four days on 9/11 and as the wife of a youth minister and the office manager for the college counseling center, I felt the impact of the tragic events in a very real way, but they weren't personal to me. I mourned the loss of lives and the change in our society but I wasn't able to comprehend the effects that day would have on my life for another four years.

'Gina Sztejnberg's life was one of journeys. Born in Poland to a Jewish couple who had fled to Russia to escape the Holocaust, and then returned to Poland, she came as a girl to the United States in the early 1960's.

At Erasmus High School in Brooklyn, she renewed acquaintances with a boy from her village, Michael Sztejnberg (pronounced Steinberg). They eventually married, settled in Ridgewood, N.J., and became inseparable traveling companions, even commuting together to their jobs. Every day, Mr. Sztejnberg, 55, a senior vice president with J. P. Morgan in Lower Manhattan, drove Mrs. Sztejnberg, 52, a database architect consultant, to the World Trade Center, where she worked on a project for Marsh & McLennan on the 96th floor of the north tower.' *

As I think back to the morning of September 11th, I realize that I can't remember anything my husband and I said to each other before leaving for work. Gina and Michael Sztejnberg shared a commuter train to work on September 11, 2001, as they did every morning and my guess is they had no idea it would be their last time to complete their morning routine together. I can't help but wonder what their last words to each other were before Gina headed up to the 96th floor of Tower One and Micheal continued on to work. How would their morning have been different if they had known it was their last? The day began as any other ordinary day but it was a day that would forever change families, friends and a country.

My husband is no longer a youth minister; he is a firefighter, and every day on the job affords him dangers that I can't even imagine. The difference between today and every day before September 11, 2001 is that I realize any day could be the last day. I am not paralyzed by the realization or even afraid; I am changed. I love deeper, I forgive quicker, I compliment generously and I appreciate in a way that I've never known. I will probably never fully comprehend the loss from that day but I can learn from it and be grateful that God gave me the opportunity to appreciate a life that I have taken for granted. May God continue to bring forth blessings from the tragedies of that horrific day.

To read more about the life of Gina Sztejnberg click here.

You can view the memorials of all 2,996 victims of September 11, 2001 by visiting this website. Let's remember.

*Profile originally published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on November 14, 2001

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Places I've Been

Here is a sampling of some of the places I've been this week; I hope these blogs are as beneficial to you as they were to me.

First on my list is the new Mom's For Modesty campaign as started by Everyday Mommy. Take a moment to check out the post that started it all by visiting Mom’s for Modesty.

Second on my list is a daily prayer guide called Sacred Space that was recommended to my by a co-worker. Check it out.

On the five year anniversary of 9/11 there are a number of tremendously uplifting and honoring sites to visit and find encouragement. One that I am very fond of is a collaboration of individual bloggers who have volunteered to write a memorial piece for every person who died on 9/11. Visit the site that started it all at 2,996 and check back here on Monday to read my memorial of Gina Sztejnberg.

Finally, I saw a very heart warming and uplifting presentation last night on ABC Primetime with Diane Sawyer called The 9/11 Babies: Five Years Later that featured a follow-up on all of the babies born to families who lost loved ones on 9/11. As the wife of a firefighter, one of my greatest fears involves raising my son without his father so this piece was especially moving for me. Check out this site and the photos of the beautiful children and experience the joy of new life in the midst of great tragedy.

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.
1 Thessalonians 5:11

Where have you been this week?

Friday, September 08, 2006


I was in earshot of the conversation. It only took a couple of seconds before I realized that the man was talking about me; the insults, the criticism, the cynicism, the sarcasm all directed towards me, my ministry, and the church’s assets. As I turned toward the conversation I assumed that he would realize that I could hear him and mumble something neutral or benign but instead he began to talk louder, finally turning to me and lashing out his harsh words directly to me. As I opened my mouth to respond, he turned and quickly walked away.

I think so often we feel that the we deserve the blessings God gives us or that he owes us blessings and then when he takes them away or we feel we deserve more blessings or better blessings we get angry or indignant. There is a song that we sing in church called Blessed Be The Name Of The Lord in which there is a verse that says, “You give and take away, my heart will choose to say, “Lord Blessed Be your Name’ . How would your perspective change if you began to think of your blessings and your possessions of God’s instead of yours?

Jonah went out and sat down at a place east of the city. There he made himself a shelter, sat in its shade and waited to see what would happen to the city. Then the LORD God provided a vine and made it grow up over Jonah to give shade for his head to ease his discomfort, and Jonah was very happy about the vine. But at dawn the next day God provided a worm, which chewed the vine so that it withered. When the sun rose, God provided a scorching east wind, and the sun blazed on Jonah's head so that he grew faint. He wanted to die, and said, "It would be better for me to die than to live." But God said to Jonah, "Do you have a right to be angry about the vine?" "I do," he said. "I am angry enough to die." But the LORD said, "You have been concerned about this vine, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight. But Nineveh has more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left, and many cattle as well. Should I not be concerned about that great city?"
Jonah 4:5-11

Your thoughts?

Thursday, September 07, 2006

They Grow Up Fast Enough

I’ll never forget the look on my dad’s face as we drove on to campus for the first time my freshman year of college. As we passed each and every scantily dressed young lady my dad’s face would redden with embarrassment until he finally said, “Are clothes not required here?”

Just a few short years later my boyfriend (now husband) and I got into a pretty heated disagreement when I announced to him that I would not be attending the Campus Ministry Back to School Beach Party, even though I was a Campus Ministry intern and required to go. As a young California-bred teenager, “beach life” was a very natural part of his life and he couldn’t understand why I felt it was inappropriate for a bunch of young Christian men and women who barely knew each other to be running around together or having a devotional while only half dressed.

A month later our Campus Ministry team hosted a fall-retreat with guest speaker Christopher Green to talk about “Temples to gods”. During the retreat Christopher had the students divide into groups to create clay models that represented the idols or struggles that prevented each student from growing closer to God. Throughout the course of the weekend the students shared with each other about their struggles and at the end of the weekend Christopher had each student toss their idol off the side of a cliff in an act of reverence to God. While the retreat was amazing in and of itself, what was truly amazing was the effect the retreat had on the men of our campus.

Because so many men had shared openly about their addiction to pornography, the Campus Ministry team hosted a post-retreat accountability group for men with sexual addictions and was floored with the number of young men who attended. My husband, a Spiritual Disciplines intern at the time, shared with me some of the things shared in the group and said that the overwhelming “theme” of the addictions had to do with relieving the sexual tension of living in a world where sexuality is everywhere you turn. The combination of revealing clothing on young women on campus, with sexual undertones in commercials, movies, music, print ads, etc. and the ease of access to pornography on the internet made for a downward spiral that ended in full-blown addiction for far too many young Christian men. I’ll tell you that as cautious I was about the type of clothing I wore before I learned of this I was 10 times as cautious afterwards.

As a woman in her late twenties, I’ve heard my fair share of discussions about modesty, especially the argument that modesty has less to do with the type of clothes you wear and more to do with the heart. While I agree that modesty is at the core a heart issue, saying that modesty is about the heart and not the clothes is nothing more than a cop-out for young Christian women who want to dress as they please. A man walking down the street confronted with a provocatively dressed woman will be tempted or taunted by her lack of clothing without regard to who she is inside.

As the mother of a little boy I have to confess that sometimes it seems as though it is would be easier to teach a little girl about modesty and dressing appropriately than it would be to teach a little boy about how to deal with living in a world that is over-sexed when he is by nature a visual creature. My first inclination as a mother is to shelter him from the world and shape his little mind completely outside of the influence and the temptation. But deep down inside I know that completely sheltering him from the world will probably only exacerbate his curiosity and subsequent fascination with sex and will not give him the necessary tools or spiritual guidance to deal with the actual temptation. The ground on which we must walk must be one in which we are active in his life as living, breathing examples of modesty and that we take every opportunity to be spiritual trail guides in this sex-saturated culture.

The modesty with which I want my son to live is not just one of physical purity but of spiritual purity. So where do I begin? First as an example and second as a consumer. I may not have power over what clothing stores sell and what ads stores choose to run but I do have choice over what I buy and where I choose to spend my money. Listen up retailers as Moms for Modesty unite to let you know that we will not allow you to cheapen our children by providing clothes that sexualize the innocent….they grow up fast enough already.

Moms for Modesty Mission Statement

  • As a Mom for Modesty I believe in common-sense modesty for girls and young women.
  • I believe in refraining from sexualizing our girls and young women.
  • I believe that it is unwise and unfair to taunt boys and young men by permitting my daughter(s) to dress in an immodest manner.
  • I believe that true beauty comes from within and I strive to teach my son(s) and daughter(s) this truth.
  • I will loyally shop at retailers that provide girls' and young womens clothing that is modest, affordable and stylish.

And if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a large millstone tied around his neck.
Mark 9:42

Your thoughts?

Wednesday, September 06, 2006


My husband and I had been dating a year and a half when I flew to Nebraska one Christmas to meet his family. Still in the airport I made a quick stop in the ladies room before we made the three hour drive to his grandmother's house. The restroom was empty so I primped in the mirror and then chose a stall to "take care of business". Suddenly I heard someone say, "Sure is cold outside." I held my breath, surprised that someone else was in the restroom, and listened quietly for the response from the other person in the conversation but I heard nothing but silence. I heard the voice again a little louder this time, "Sure is cold outside!" I sat very still, waiting to here if the other person would answer and then I saw it, the hand underneath my stall. "Helloooooooo neighbor!" the hand waved vigorously underneath the wall, "Anybody in there?" I gasped in shock and she continued, "Weatherman said the wind chill would be negative tonight. Can you believe that? Haven't seen snow like this 'round these parts in years!" Suddenly I realized she was standing outside my stall. I exited to wash my hands as she propped her elbow on the counter and continued, "Well golly, you're gonna freeze in that coat! You must not be from 'round here, where ya from?" I smiled nervously as I quietly replied. She continued to talk as she followed me all the way to the terminal where my ride was waiting and as I walked away she shouted, "Nice talking to ya!". At the time I laughed quietly to myself because I had literally said one word: Texas.

Looking back, I have a lot of admiration for the woman from the restroom because I am not the kind of person who will start up a conversation with a complete stranger. Because I'm such an introvert I've discovered that one of the hardest parts of being a new mother has been the unsolicited attention it brings in public places; just a few weeks ago, while in the airport, I had four complete strangers engage me with conversations about my baby. I can't help but wonder how different my spiritual walk would be if I were to start up conversations with people I didn't know. I wonder how many people would be open to hearing God's message if I would just take the first step?

Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.
I Peter 3:14-16

Your thoughts?

Tuesday, September 05, 2006


I’ve never really been great at learning new languages, but while studying abroad in Italy, I really wanted to communicate on my own without carrying a dictionary or translation guide. I spent the entire first semester immersing myself in the culture and drilling myself on flashcards, writing short stories for my teachers to correct, and having random conversations with any Italian person who would tolerate my hodge-podge attempt at communicating. By the second semester I could hold my own and was really starting to feel comfortable with the culture and the language. One night while visiting a friend’s family for the first time, I was relaxing in the sitting room with my friend’s mother as she and her husband peppered me with questions. I answered each question and for elaboration, I would say, “In fact…” After several moments, the mother grabbed my friend’s leg and said something quickly to him in Italian; he laughed and said something back to her that I didn’t understand then leaned into me and said in English, “Are you trying to say…(and said the Italian word for “in fact”)?” I nodded eagerly, “Of course!” He laughed and nodded at his mother and then said to me, “Ok, well, the word you are saying means “heart attack”. To say that I was embarrassed would be an understatement.

What a blessing that we can communicate with God without having to worry about translations, meanings, or even the words themselves. The Holy Spirit can intervene and interpret for us even when we don’t have the words to convey what our heart wants to say.

The Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will.
Romans 8:26-27

Your thoughts?

Monday, September 04, 2006


Open any photo album in my grandfather's house and he can tell you the exact year the photo was taken based on the car he was driving at the time (whether or not the vehicle is actually in the photograph). My photo album, on the other hand is marked by hairstyles; I've had so many that my best friend says that it looks like I've been a part of the witness protection program.

It started in high school when I was dumped by my first real boyfriend; I was devastated and responded by chopping off my long mane of hair. Ever since, the urge to mark life change with a physical change is overwhelming. I've wanted to mark the change from woman to mommy but have put it off until this weekend when I began to see a light at the end of the postpartum depression tunnel and chopped 8 inches off my hair. My husband has since revived and I've discovered 45 extra minutes in the morning that could be much better spent in a number of ways.

I can think of a number of instances in the Bible when important events were marked by physical reminders: a rainbow, an altar, a pile of stones, two tablets, and even a cross. What marks the pathway of your spiritual journey?

So Joshua called together the twelve men he had appointed from the Israelites, one from each tribe, and said to them, "Go over before the ark of the LORD your God into the middle of the Jordan. Each of you is to take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the Israelites, to serve as a sign among you. In the future, when your children ask you, 'What do these stones mean?' tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD. When it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever."
Joshua 4:4-7
Your thoughts?

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Places I've Been

I am finally back to exploring the blogosphere and I am excited to have discovered some new sites among the golden oldies. Here is a sampling of some of the places I've been this week; I hope these blogs are as beneficial to you as they were to me.

This month's edition of Christian Women Online is on the web and absolutely fantastic. Check it out here.

Take a moment and check out Jim's latest post entitled 'Ever Feel Taken For Granted?' at A Place for the God Hungry. It definitely made me take stock of some things in my life and hopefully it will challenge you too.

Finally, if you are as fascinated with relationships as I am, check out Love, Honor, and Dismay. I don't know anything about Andrew McAllister Ph.D or his qualifications but I have to admit I spent a great deal of time reading through the scenarios and his responses.

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.
1 Thessalonians 5:11

Where have you been this week?

Friday, September 01, 2006


Things have been pretty hectic in our household recently as my husband has begun his second job. After a particularly tough couple of weeks when he was attending orientation every single day, we finally got a Saturday afternoon to ourselves with no obligations. Fueled by the muchneeded down time my husband offered to take care of the baby when he woke up in the middle of the night so I could get the first full night of sleep in two weeks.

I went to bed early, excited at the prospect of sleeping uninterrupted for seven hours and drifted off quickly for the first time in a long time. At 1:15 I heard the baby start to fuss and I opened one eye to see if my husband had heard. Sound asleep. I gently nudged him and groggily said, "Baby". He rolled over and slowly pulled himself out bed as I closed my eyes and drifted off to sleep again. Minutes later I noticed the baby was still crying and opened my eyes to see my husband standing in front of our mirrored armoire. "Trav?" I pleaded, "The baby is crying," I urged. He turned and walked towards the door and I drifted back to sleep. Moments later I heard my husband's voice, "Here ya go baby." I opened one eye, then the other, and then sat straight up in bed. My dear sweet husband was bending over me cradling a large hurricane lamp trying to hand it to me as if it were our son. Needless to say, I took care of the baby that night.

Isn't it amazing how powerful the influence exhaustion can have over our senses? The same is true of our spiritual lives; if you aren't taking the time to refuel your spirit by being in the presence of God you are leaving yourself open to Satan's deceit. I had the privilege of attending a leadership conference several weeks ago and heard Wayne Cordeiro give a very poignant talk called "Dead Leader Running" in which he talked about the danger of running on adrenaline instead of serotonin. He explained that leaders so often give to the point of depletion and don't take the time to "refuel their tank". I think the same can be true of anyone and now find myself consciously working to make sure that both mine and my husband's tanks are getting refueled.
How do you refuel?

"Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and strengthens the powerless. Even youths will faint and be weary, and the young will fall exhausted; but those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings of eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint."
Isaiah 40:28-31

Your thoughts?