Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Lessons I've Learned From First Steps

1. Balance comes before walking.

2. Keep your eye on the goal, not on the ground.

3. Your body will follow whichever way your head is turned.

4. Flapping your arms makes you feel like you are going fast but it really just makes you tired.

5. Lots of tiny steps can get you just as far as a few big ones.

6. It doesn't matter how many times you fall - just how many times you get up.

7. When all else fails - crawl.

It is amazing the lessons you can learn from the little things in life when you look through a God-lens. What lessons can you learn from the ordinary?

Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.
Colossians 3:2

Your thoughts?

Monday, October 30, 2006


My favorite part of any given Sunday is the moment I am given the privilege of witnessing a person putting on the Lord in Baptism. My eyes begin to tear up the moment they walk down the stairs and I am completely choked up by the time they confess Christ as their Savior.

At the church I currently attend, the baptistry is on the second story of the auditorium and broadcast via video to the congregation sitting on the first floor of the auditorium. It is by no means an ideal situation, but there is one positive aspect to witnessing the baptism via video feed, a very up-close and personal view of the baptism. Our video feed days are numbered as we just began a capital campaign that will fund renovations on our facilities to include moving the baptistry to the lower level. I find myself anticipating the change with mixed emotions, and can’t help but think back to one of the sweetest moments I’ve ever witnessed in a baptistry.

It couldn’t have been more than a year ago when two young twin girls decided they were both ready to be baptized by their father. It was an emotionally charged moment and the father choked back tears as he took his first daughter’s confession, baptized her and then wrapped his big arms around her in a great big hug. As the second daughter began her descent into the baptistry the first daughter turned to walk away but instead stretched her arms out in front of her and in a moment of pure joy dove face first into the water, coming up for air then slowly and gracefully swimming and twirling all the way back to the stairs. The auditorium burst forth in a mixture of laughter and tears at the innocent joy we were permitted to witness; to this day it is still talked about as one of the sweetest moments ever witnessed. I both laugh and choke up when I think back to that day because the joy displayed by that little girl is the joy we should all feel in the face of the all-encompassing healing power of Christ.

So many times as Christians we stifle our joy, instead favoring politeness and socially appropriate behavior. We judge or frown upon others for clapping, kneeling, singing alone, raising their hands in praise, or even closing their eyes. When the disciples cried out in praise to God during the Triumphal Entry, the Pharisees were outraged and demanded that Jesus rebuke them and how did he reply? “You’re right, they are kind of loud and we certainly don’t want to disturb anyone.” Yeah right! He said, “I tell you, if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out!”

A while back I bought my son a set of videos designed to be a Christian version of the Baby Einstein videos called Praise Baby. I love the videos because they combine praise and worship songs with colorful animation and real world objects that stimulate my little guy’s mind in tactile, cognitive, social, emotional and most importantly spiritual ways. I love watching the videos with him and often find myself singing the songs throughout the day. Just yesterday, I was walking down the hallway and caught myself singing one of the songs from earlier that morning...

I was made to praise you
I was made to love
I was born to worship
The Father, the Son, the Spirit above
Made in Your image and wrapped in Your love

How true.

All you have made will praise you, O LORD;
your saints will extol you.
Psalm 145:10

Your thoughts?

Friday, October 27, 2006

The Compromise

For my five year wedding anniversary my sweet husband took me out to dinner at my favorite restaurant, The Melting Pot, for a long leisurely evening of eating, snuggling and talking in a private booth, just the two of us. Admittedly, during our first year of marriage I probably would have scoffed at the romantic nature of something so simple, but as life has become busy and chaotic, I find just having his undivided attention both extremely satisfying and incredibly romantic.

I love the Melting Pot, or any fondue restaurant for that matter, because there is something so fun and intimate about cooking your food at your table. We had a wonderful waiter who made great recommendations and was very friendly. Towards the end of the evening, as he was setting up our dessert tray, he asked us what we were celebrating and when we told him we were celebrating five years of marriage he went on and on about what an accomplishment it was and how amazing it was and commented on what a "long time it was". As he walked away my husband and I looked at each other with puzzled looks on our faces, "Is he for real?" my husband asked, "Five years is long term? That is sad."

I’ve been thinking back to that conversation for a couple of months now pausing mostly on the little things that help make a marriage work. Sidestepping what I think are the real and obvious reasons (as covered in the previous 3 posts) I’d like to focus on the little compromises that keep marriage pleasant, exciting and interesting.

Generally speaking, my husband and I are really well suited for each other; our gifts compliment each other’s gifts, our strengths and weaknesses play off of each other (in a good way), and we are generally interested in all of the same things. There is however, one area where we completely disagree in all aspects; Christmas. I was raised in a ‘celebrate Christmas morning’ household while he was raised in a ‘celebrate Christmas Eve’ household and the disagreements only begin there. One of the bigger issues so far has been the Christmas tree because we both have very different ideas on how the tree should look and neither of was willing to compromise. Fortunately, we were given a beautiful hand-me-down tree from a co-worker whose family had outgrown it and as a result we implemented the ‘two-tree Christmas’ tradition in our household. Starting last Christmas we began decorating two trees; one large tree full of beautiful delicate glass ornaments, bright twinkly white lights and oversized velvet bows in the main room of our house and a smaller, more rustic tree with whimsical handmade ornaments, candy-canes and big old-fashioned multicolored bulbs in the den of our house. Frivolous you say? Necessary, I reply. You can’t begin to imagine the stress the ‘two-tree’ system has taken off of our household and the ways in which it has encouraged us to both continue our family traditions and begin our own family traditions.

It is my hope that as we approach the next five years that we attempt to do so with a little patience, compromise and a sense of adventure. How do you keep things interesting?

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Secrets (Part Three)

The third secret that my dear sweet friend shared with me was this, “You will never fully understand your spouse.” He winked as he continued, “ I have been married more years than not and to this day I still don’t understand what her fascination is with shopping but I always go with her and help her pick things out and spend that time supporting her, even though I don’t understand it. I make the choice to be happy because she is happy and because of that I don’t have to understand her, I just get to enjoy her.”

This past week my husband and I both had two consecutive days off at the same time, something that happens very rarely because of his schedule at the fire station. We probably could have taken a trip out of town or done something outside of our normal scope of activities but instead we decided to fill the weekend with things we love to do as a family. Friday we slept late, made a big breakfast, and then took our little guy to a preview Gymboree class, followed by an afternoon at the State Fair. Saturday morning we slept late again, had brunch together and then all headed out to Build-A-Bear to build a puppy dog for my son’s upcoming birthday. That afternoon we all took a nap together and then dropped the little guy off at his Nana’s so my husband and I could head out to Six Flags for one of the last nights of Fright Fest.

I look back on the weekend and know that the memories we formed as a family will stick with me for a very long time. Admittedly, if I had planned the weekend for myself, the agenda would have looked very different but I planned the weekend to be filled with things that I knew my husband would enjoy because I realize that seeing him happy makes me happy. I may have gotten it right this time but if I am honest with myself I have to confess that most times I am more concerned with my own agenda than I am with making my husband happy. Oh how blessed I am to having living examples of the kind of spouse I want to be.

What lessons have you learned from marriage, veterans?

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Secrets (Part Two)

Admittedly, I don’t find much opportunity to sit in the presence of people from whom I can glean much wisdom so when the unexpected opportunity to question a man approaching his 65th wedding anniversary dropped in my lap I leapt at the opportunity to learn. Although our conversation was short and amidst a bustling room full of people, it was as though all background noise faded out as he gently shared what he considered the three most important lessons necessary to a happy, successful marriage.

I leaned in to hear the soft voice of the man sharing wisdom gained from a lifetime of happy marriage as he spelled out lesson number two. “Learn never to take your spouse for granted.” He said softly. “My wife and I work on our marriage every single day. The day that you stop considering your spouse, stop working at your marriage or fall into habit is the day you start down the path to divorce, so every day I try to think of ways that I can show her that I appreciate her and support her.”

My husband and I had some pretty rough patches the first two years of our marriage, so rough in fact that we actually talked about the big ‘d’ word. By the grace of God, we were renewed in our purpose to create a marriage that honored God and as a result just recently celebrated our fifth wedding anniversary. There was a point shortly after we decided to give our marriage back over to God that I began asking my husband, “How can I be a better wife?” At first the question annoyed him and he blew me off with silly or irrelevant answers but the more I persisted the more honest he became, thinking that the honesty would make me stop asking the question. Boy was he surprised when I actually started making changes as a result of the things he shared! That question is now something that we ask each other all the time and while neither of us particularly enjoys some of the answers, it is amazing the way a little honesty and consideration has changed the face of our marriage. The most sobering part is that the question can never fully be answered because there is always something to work on.

I am by no means an expert at marriage but hearing a gentle reminder from a “veteran” that marriage takes constant work reminds me that my marriage is no more perfect than I am. One of my favorite recording artists, Sara Groves, recently released a beautiful song entitled "Loving A Person" that I think is worth listening to. I've provided a link to the song (worth the download) and the lyrics to get you thinking...

Loving A Person by Sara Groves

Loving a person just the way they are, it's no small thing
It takes some time to see things through
Sometimes things change, sometimes we're waiting
We need grace either way

Hold on to me
I'll hold on to you
Let's find out the beauty of seeing things through

There's a lot of pain in reaching out and trying
It's a vulnerable place to be
Love and pride can't occupy the same spaces baby
Only one makes you free

Hold on to me
I'll hold on to you
Let's find out the beauty of seeing things through

If we go looking for offense
We're going to find it
If we go looking for real love
We're going to find it

Sara Groves, Add To The Beauty

How do you avoid falling into habit?

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Secrets (Part One)

Just this past weekend I had a very interesting conversation with an older gentleman at our church who is getting ready to celebrate his 65th wedding anniversary. Sixty five years; more than twice as long as I have been alive. Although our conversation was brief, I thoroughly enjoyed talking with him and watching his facial expressions as he reminisced and retold the story of how he and his wife met and fell in love. When I asked him the secret to a long-lasting love-filled marriage he told me that there are three secrets to a successful marriage and for the next three blogs I am going to talk a bit about each secret that he shared.

The first secret this dear, sweet, man shared with me is learning to wake up every single day and decide to love your spouse and show them that you love them in everything that you do. He explained, "My wife and I held hands on our first date and we've never stopped holding hands; I hold her hand every chance I get and fall asleep every night with her hand in mine." It sounds simple but when he finished our conversation he walked over to his wife and took her hand in his as they walked away and I realized how the profound effect something so simple could have on a relationship spanning more than six decades. I am keenly aware at how important the little things are to keeping a marriage alive, the looks, the glances, the laughs, the flirting, and the shared experiences that connect you together every single day. As I reflect on the little things in my marriage I am reminded of the hand-binding ceremony my husband I participated in during our wedding vows which I will share with you now. It is my prayer that sharing these tender words with you will help you appreciate the little things in your relationship as they have reminded me to do so in mine.

Meagan, these are the hands of your best friend, young and strong and vibrant with love; they are holding yours on your wedding day, as he promises to love you all the days of his life. These are the hands that will work alongside yours as together you build your future, as you laugh and cry, as you share innermost secrets and dreams. These are the hands you will place with expectant joy against your stomach, until he too, feels his child stir within you. These are the hands that look so large and strong, yet will be so gentle as he holds your baby for the first time. These are the hands that will passionately love you and cherish you through the years, for a lifetime of happiness. These are the hands that countless times will wipe tears from your eyes, tears of sorrow and tears of joy. These are the hands that will comfort you in illness, and hold you when fear and grief wrack your mind. These are the hands that will tenderly lift your chin and brush your cheek as they raise your face to look into his eyes, eyes that are filled completely with his overwhelming love and desire for you.

God bless these hands that you see before you. Give them the strength to hold on during the storms of stress and the dark of disillusionment. Keep them tender and gentle as they nurture you in their wondrous love.

Travis, these are the hands of your best friend, smooth, young and carefree; they are holding yours on your wedding day as she pledges her love and commitment to you all the days of her life. These are the hands that will give support as she encourages you to chase your dreams and that will massage tension from your neck and back in the evenings after you have both had a long, hard day. These are the hands that will hold you tight as you struggle through difficult times. These are the hands that will comfort you when you are sick or console you when you are grieving. These are the hands that will hold you in joy and excitement and hope, each time she tells you that you are to have another child, as together you create new life. These are the hands that will hold each child in tender love, soothing them through illness and hurt, supporting and encouraging them along the way and knowing when it is time to let go. These are the hands that will passionately love you and cherish you through the years for a lifetime of happiness.

God, bless these hands that you see before you. Give them the strength to hold on during the storms of stress and the dark of disillusionment. Keep them tender and gentle as they nurture you in their wondrous love.

What are your "little things"?

Monday, October 23, 2006

Front And Center

I would love, love, LOVE to be a stay at home mom but the fact that both my husband and I attended a private college coupled with some bad financial decisions we made early in our marriage make it impossible. We are however, very fortunate to have jobs that compliment each other in a way that allows for one of us to be home with our son every single day except Tuesday and Thursday mornings. On those days I leave him in the church's Mother's Day Out program while I work upstairs. Given our situation, we are so blessed that I have a boss who is supportive and understanding and that Travis has a job that affords a lot of time at home.

Having said all of that.you should know that because I am not able to stay at home with him 24/7 I am fiercely protective of the time that I do have with him and will do anything in my power to keep him with me when I am not working. As a result, I do not take him to the nursery Bible class; I do not drop him off at daycare during our HomeTEAM; I don't put him in the nursery during church, and if I have to leave him with someone so my husband and I can go on a date it will usually be my mother. My decisions as a mother have broached many sarcastic comments and a few critical observations but at this stage in my son's life I feel the most important thing I can provide for him (other than food, shelter and a dry bottom) is consistency.

My family sits front and center on the second row of a church auditorium that spans a 270 degree fan. To say that it is difficult to keep a 9 month old baby still and quiet for 90 minutes in a spot that has the potential to be seen by almost every congregation member in the church would be an understatement. So far, we've not had any major problems and I will continue to keep my son with the family until the point that it becomes necessary to move to the back of the church or to a training room. This decision has also met with a lot of criticism (and not a few dirty looks) but I stand firm just the same. I choose to stay there not because of righteous indignation but because the spot allows for growing opportunities. When the Senior Minister speaks, my son pays attention because after all he is standing right in front of us with no one in between us to draw his attention away. When the worship minister sings, my son watches him and shrieks back in his own sing-songy way. But more importantly, any direction he turns he has the vantage point to see the face of every member of our church worshiping, praying, and praising God. I choose to take the risk because I think the risk is worthy of the blessings in my son's life.

Just a few Sundays ago, a man whom I have never met, walked up to me, introduced himself, and then pointed out where he sits in church just behind us. His eyes welled with tears as he said, "Thank you for sitting in the front with your son and your sweet family. I love watching the three of you worship and find so much blessing in witnessing a family worship and grow together." To be honest, I was really surprised because I was sure that probably most people in our section were annoyed by the squirmy little boy, but I was so grateful that he had the sense to share with me something that I needed to hear so desperately. It immediately made me think of a couple I used to watch in church who would hold hands the entire time they were worshiping while each of their outside hands were raised in praise to God. As a child I remember thinking they looked like a strange bird but now that I am older I fully appreciate the beauty of worshiping in unity not just as a body but as families. There are so many opportunities in our life for familial segregation, so many that I can't even begin to name them all. I know there is a time and place for age-appropriate spiritual development but for now I will treasure every moment spent worshiping as a family and will seek to find other ways to unite in worship.

Do not exasperate your children;
instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.

Ephesians 6:4

Your thoughts?

Saturday, October 21, 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.

This month's edition of Christian Women Online Magazine is up and a great read, as always. Check it out!.

Fellow minister and truth-seeker, Jake C, has finally joined the blog world. Check out his new blog Rise From Your Slumber and leave him some love.

Finally, check out my mom's latest posts at Accentuate The Positive for several good reads.

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, October 20, 2006

In His Hands

My image of God has changed a lot over the years.

When I was younger, I imagined God to be like my grandfather: old, slow, wise, and very strict. Looking back, I think I imagined God in this way because my grandfather was very much a spiritual leader in our family and a spiritual leader of the church. I cannot remember a single Sunday morning or night when my grandfather was not up in front of the church, leading or serving in some way. Even when I decided I wanted to be baptized, my grandfather insisted that I take a written test to see if I knew enough about the Bible to be baptized. I was eight years old and very intimidated. To this day, remnants of that “side” of God stay in my mind.

I now see God as more of a provider, Jehovah Jireh. It seems as though no matter where I am spiritually, no matter how weak, how strong, the Lord provides for me. He speaks to me in so many ways and makes it evident that He is taking care of me. I sometimes think that I am in control of my life, that I decide where I am going and what I am doing, thinking that God is “providing” for me. However, God is most evident in my life when I do not get my way, when things do not go as planned. Even in my frustration and disappointment, God is providing for me. God is providing HIS way.

I see God as an all-knowing provider who loves me and works to the good of me because I love Him and want to obey Him. It is weird to think about it sometimes, to praise God that I did not get into the college I wanted to attend, to praise God that I did not make the singing group I wanted to be in, to praise God that I was not able to go on another International program, to praise God for all my disappointments. Then I stop. I look at my life, where I am, and where I am going. I look at my husband and at our son. I look at the opportunities that have been laid before us, I look at our new home, our church, our calling to ministry, and I am awestruck. Wow! This is so much better than what I planned!

God really is in control, isn’t He?

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.”
Proverbs 3:5-6

“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”
Psalm 139:15-16

How do you imagine God?

Your thoughts?

Thursday, October 19, 2006


For a short period of my life, my family owned a beautiful German Shepherd K-9 officer (retired) affectionately named “Scotch”. Scotch was not only very beautiful but he was very well trained and obedient. There was however a young boy named Petey who lived on our block and was the neighborhood terror. He made it a habit to taunt Scotch and our little daschund or any other dog in the area by banging on the fence with sticks or throwing rocks etc. One afternoon, when my sister and I accidentally left the gate unlatched, our little daschund wandered out to the front yard to check things out just as Petey was walking by. Seeing the opportunity to torture yet another dog, Petey chased after the daschund barking and growling and poking her back end with a stick. Right as he approached the gate Scotch went after him in true K-9 officer fashion and took a large bite of his arm. As you can imagine, Scotch was confiscated by animal control and caught "kennel cough" while locked up and then passed away. Ever since I’ve always wanted another German shepherd.

Last year my husband and I adopted a beautiful German shepherd puppy from the local dog shelter and named her “Cali”. Cali puts the “punk” in spunk and is a fun-loving, hyperactive, people-pleaser who would love nothing more than to run, jump, and play all day long. Our original intention was to put her in obedience school so we could channel that energy into something positive but we got her so young that she wasn’t eligible for the training we wanted her to get and then suddenly we looked up and an entire year had gone by and poor little Cali was becoming a lonely puppy prone to digging holes the size of small cars. Several months ago we brought my parent’s Golden Retriever over to live with Cali and keep her company but as the hospital bills continued to pour in we decided that spending $60 a month on dog food when we are only making minimum payments on our hospital bills just didn’t make sense. A few weeks ago little Cali was adopted by a sweet little family of five looking for a fun-loving puppy to keep their old-timer German shepherd spunky.

I’ll admit, I cried when they drove away with her. Not because I love her or because she is a wonderful dog because she is in fact incredibly hyperactive and annoying (ask anyone who went on the church camping trip last spring). I cried because I had such high hopes for that sweet little dog and felt like giving her away was like giving up on her.

I think the same is true sometimes when God uses us to plant seeds instead of sow them. I can vividly remember how sad I was when we came to the end of a mission trip and I knew that the young woman I was working with was not ready to make a commitment to the Lord. It was physically difficult to leave without seeing her faith journey reach its final destination because I so feared that she would not continue on her journey. Looking back I realize how my arrogance was limiting God and am so thankful that he brought another person into the life of my new friend to sow the seeds that had been previously planted. Oh what a joyful day it was when I opened the mail to find a picture of my sweet friend putting on our Lord in baptism.

What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe—as the Lord has assigned to each his task. I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.
1 Corinthians 3:5-7

Your thoughts?

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Watches of the night

I’ve heard it every night for the past ten months; the sweet, innocent, cat-like wail emanating from the room next to mine. Not a scream, not a cry, just a singular “mmmooaaaar” calling out into the darkness. That solitary sound grabs my attention more than any actual crying or screaming because I know what my son wants: reassurance. He is calling out into the darkness for someone to remind him that he is not alone, to reach out to him, put his pacifier back in his mouth, tuck his lovey under his head and pull the covers up over him again. Within seconds he is deep asleep again.

Can’t you relate?

I rise before dawn and cry for help; I have put my hope in your word. My eyes stay open through the watches of the night, that I may meditate on your promises. Hear my voice in accordance with your love; preserve my life, O LORD, according to your laws.
Psalm 119:147-149

Your thoughts?

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

The Thief

I remember the day like it was yesterday. I couldn't have been more than 10 or 11 years old and I was home alone watching television in our family den while my dad ran down the street to pick up my little sister from a friend's house. The chair where I was laying on my stomach was about 10 feet from the large solid glass door to the patio on the side of our house. Out of the corner of my eye I saw something move and I turned to see a man walking down our driveway towards the alley where the gate to our backyard was. Knowing people walked down our alley all the time I turned back to watch my program. A few minutes later the motion caught my eye again and I saw the man walking from the direction of our backyard carrying my dad's compressor. I watched in slow motion as he walked off of our property, put the compressor in the back of his truck, and drove away. Even at the tender age of 10 or 11 I could feel something wasn't quite right and when my dad returned a few minutes later I recounted the story to him just before he ran outside to discover someone had stolen his compressor in broad daylight while I watched from the den. He was upset, understandably, but was so thankful that the man had only ventured into the backyard and not into our house where I was alone and defenseless.

So many times in my life I've seen Satan work in the same way that thief did many years ago. Satan and his sinful ways just mosey on in as casual and as harmless-looking as can be but before you know it the damage is done. How does Satan draw you into thinking sin is harmless?

Jesus said to his disciples: "Things that cause people to sin are bound to come, but woe to that person through whom they come.
Luke 17:1-3

Your thoughts?

Monday, October 16, 2006

The Little Things

My little boy is nine months old, mobile, and into everything. I've become well versed in the art of distraction making sure that I have him occupied with something he enjoys before I try to do anything productive in the means of housework including dedicating one of the cabinets in our kitchen to toys and Tupperware so he can play while I cook dinner. Lately, however, he has become fascinated with me loading and unloading the dishwasher, unloading the dryer, and vacuuming; nothing can distract him when I am doing one of those activities. At first I found his new attention annoying because he wasn't just interested, he wanted to be involved: pulling out dishes on his own, pulling clothes out of the dryer, or riding on the vacuum cleaner (yes, you read that right) but after some thought I realized I was missing out on an opportunity to teach him about housework by trying to keep him from "helping". As I began to encourage him to take the non-breakable items out of the dishwasher and hand them to me or to pull clothes out of the dryer into the basket or use the time to teach colors or shapes I realized I was missing out on an even bigger opportunity, the opportunity to teach biblical principles. I was instantly reminded of something one of our children's ministers once told me, "Teaching babies and toddlers about the Bible is so much easier than parents imagine. Telling them 'Jesus loves you' is a devotional for their little hearts and minds so keep it simple but keep it part of every day." Suddenly housework has become less about the task of keeping a house and more about using the task of keeping a house to reinforce the biblical principles I am trying to instill in my son. The real bonus for me is that as I aspire to become a Proverbs 31 wife I am finding that I keeping my house is less of an obligation and more of a privilege and something I do to honor my husband and son. How do you find purpose in the every day?

A wife of noble character who can find?
She is worth far more than rubies.

She sets about her work vigorously;
her arms are strong for her tasks.

She speaks with wisdom,
and faithful instruction is on her tongue.

She watches over the affairs of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.

Her children arise and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her.

Proverbs 31 (selected verses)

Your thoughts?

Friday, October 13, 2006

Tender Heart

You might not know it from looking at me but I am very "tender hearted" as my mom used to say. There were so many times growing up that I would go crying to my mom because of some show on PBS about leukemia or aids that my mom finally decreed that I couldn't watch those types of shows anymore because my little heart couldn't take the sadness. When my husband and I were dating he came over one evening to find me bawling in front of a television show on the Animal Planet and thought I had lost my mind, especially when I told him I was crying overa baby monkey that had been eaten by a crocodile. It wasn't long before he decreed that I couldn't watch the Animal Planet anymore. What really gets to me are commercials with heart like the most recent one by Liberty Mutual "Responsibility: What's Your Policy" because they come in fast, grab my heart strings, get the tear ducts going and then leave me with some annoying Taco commercial or something equally irreverent. It is for these reasons and many, many more that I avoid watching Extreme Home Makeover at all costs.

Last night however, I was sucked in by the teaser and before I knew it I was bawling in front of the television once again. My husband returned from running an errand and found me in all my teary glory, looked at the television, and let out a huge sigh, "Why are you watching this? You know you can't take it!" I knew he was right but sometimes I need to be reminded of the good in this world, even if it comes with some sadness. This particular episode featured the story of the Hawkins family, victims of an F-3 tornado in Henderson, Tennessee. While husband firefighter Jerrod was on duty the tornado hit his home directly, ripping the house from its foundation. Wife, Amy, heroically saved her sons by lying on top of them in the basement while bricks, debris and concrete hit Amy causing permanent injuries that resulted in paralysis and life-long confinement to a wheelchair.

Led by the Brentwood Fire Department, the community rallied around the family with food, monetary and material donations - two hundred volunteers combed the remains of their house after the tornado to recover anything worth salvaging, and the local cleaners took all their remaining clothes and cleaned them for free. Their hometown of Hendersonville collected over 50,000 names on a petition to plead for help on behalf of the family. Extreme Makeover: Home Edition rebuilt the Hawkins home to be wheelchair compatible and to include a family safe room to give the Hawkins peace of mind in the event of another tornado.

Someone once said the difference between sympathy and compassion is that the one who sympathizes, sees and feels, but does nothing while the one who has compassion, sees, feels, and then does something about the need. Every day we have the opportunity to touch others no matter how large or how small the opportunity; the difference between sympathy and compassion revolves around "living" Jesus in that person's life. How are you showing compassion in your life?

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.
1 Corinthians 1:3

Your thoughts?

Thursday, October 12, 2006


For those of you who don’t know, the great state of Texas has been operating in drought mode for almost all of the summer. Since water is a scarcity, the city municipal water systems are literally dragging the bottom of lakes to produce water for the cities. As a result, the color and taste of the water in our house has taken a pretty bad turn. After a week of foul-smelling water and limp hair we called a water specialist to test our tap water and make recommendations. To give contrast, the specialist took some of our bottled water from the fridge to undergo the same tests and help establish a baseline. We were shocked with the results, to say the least. What shocked us weren’t really the results of the tests because anyone with a taste bud could tell you the water was not good, but the fact that the technician was surprised they weren’t worse. When we sat down to look at the results of the tests he shared with us, he was surprised because the percentages were only slightly worse than they normally were in our city. So essentially, while the results were pretty bad in comparison to other cities they weren’t that much different than what we were used to drinking. Ick.

It really is scary to think how quickly we can become immune to imperfection and calloused to impurities so that we don’t even notice the filth that we are ‘bathing in’. A few months ago my brother and I had a deep conversation about sin and temptation and he shared with me a lesson we could all stand to learn. He explained that once he was on his own in college he realized that as he tried to practice tolerance of other people’s sins he found that he was becoming more sinful. He explained he had really begun to understand what Jesus was talking about when he said, “Anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart” and that he realized that the concept was true with any sinful behavior. “I never realized that as soon as I was ok with it my mind was ok with my friends doing sinful things I was essentially taking the first step to heading down that same pathway.” Such wise words from someone only beginning his adulthood.

But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.
Matthew 5:28-29

Your thoughts?

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Age Matters

My brother, youngest sister, her boyfriend, and another friend came home to Dallas this weekend to spend some time with the family. After a very enjoyable meal together the group announced that they were going to go out together and promptly turned to my other sister and asked if she wanted to go. My other sister, who is two years younger than I am, was in town without her husband that weekend and I thought it was pretty neat that the group thought enough to ask her if she wanted to go. "Knowing" that they hadn't invited my husband and me wasn't really a big deal because I knew that they knew we had to get the little guy home and in bed so I didn't think much of it until the group went into the garage apartment to make plans and shut the door behind them. A few minutes went by before I realized that I had left my son's diaper bag in the apartment and needed to grab it so I could change his diaper. I gently knocked on the door and walked in when I realized that they were all standing there in silence waiting for me to leave before continuing their conversation. I quickly left the room and returned to where my dad and husband were waiting then recounted what had happened. My dad laughed and said, "Yep, you are officially old. How does it feel to be too old to be cool?"

I am still pretty disturbed by the whole experience because I am accustomed to being discounted for being "too young" but for the first time in my life I was discounted for being "too old" and I am NOT OLD! I look back over the evening and suddenly recognize the difference in the way my sisters friends would talk to me compared to my other sister and realized that I wasn't "one of them" I was "one of the adults". Sometimes I feel like I'll never break into the "adult realm" with my colleagues and have wondered many, many times how old I will have to be before I will be considered experienced or even as a peer so finding out that I was already on the other side of the fence was pretty shocking to me. The incident has really got me thinking about how we appear to others verses how we see ourselves and what it really means to be all things to all people. What surprising way have you been tagged or how do you stay relevant when others see you as an outsider?

To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God's law but am under Christ's law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.
2 Corinthians 9:21-23

Your thoughts?

Tuesday, October 10, 2006


I have a pretty active imagination that as a general rule keeps me from enjoying anything that could be potentially scary or spooky. I don't read scary books or watch scary movies; I don't like being home alone after dark, and I especially don't like scary music (i.e. the Twilight Zone or Perry Mason). There are very few exceptions to my "nothing scary" rule and this past weekend I was cajoled into joining my entire family and my sister's friends in a trip to the Dallas Scaregrounds for a 45-minute long "haunted" maze. Looking back I am not even sure why I wasted the money for the event because I spent the entire 45 minutes with my head buried in my brother's back, eyes closed, dragging the dead weight of my sister and mom who screamed from the moment we entered the maze until about 5 seconds after we exited.

Looking back I have to admit there were some pretty funny moments, none of which I "saw" since my eyes were closed but all of which involved my scaredy-cat mom who had never been to a "haunted" house before. About ten seconds before the end of the maze one of the actors cornered my terrified mom who responded by crouching down, nose in the corner and screaming my brother's name in true blood-curling fashion at the top of her lungs. Afterwards she was a little wary about her 'personal space" and when a very creepily dressed actor in a scary mask on stilts approached her she cowered away behind the group avoiding all eye contact with the "creature". We all laughed hysterically as he pursued her mercilessly and finally when we thought she had enough we began to engage the very friendly actor in conversation as he talked with us about the scaregrounds and the people involved. By the time the conversation ended, even my mom was friendly with the man. Right before we walked away my sister turned and asked him, "Who are you supposed to be anyway?" He smiled as he turned and walked away, "Satan."

Yikes! I still get chills when I think about it but as creepy as it was it really got me thinking about the way that Satan really does work. At first glance it is so easy to dismiss Satan or his temptations as disgusting and vile but the more we are tempted or in the presence of his evil ways the more comfortable his presence becomes and the more calloused we become to the evil; before you know it you aren't even uncomfortable anymore.

I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent's cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ.
2 Corinthians 11:3

Your thoughts?

Monday, October 09, 2006


I am so blessed to be a part of a church heritage that still practices A capella music (music without instruments). As a child, I attended a church that believed that A capella was the way that God intended for us to worship him but as I've grown into my own faith and discovered each delicious word of the Bible, I've realized that all music, regardless of whether or not it is vocal or instrumental, can be God-honoring. Growing up, I was always envious of my friends who had Amy Grant and Micheal W. Smith tapes and couldn't reconcile how it was better for me to listen to secular music or no music at all than instrumental Christian music. As a young teenager, and now an adult, I developed a deep appreciation for Christian music and now treasure the myriad of Christian music so easily available today. Although I still attend a church that practices A capella worship, I deeply treasure all forms of Christian music.

Several years ago, while attending the leadership portion of a worship conference for A capella churches, I had the opportunity to hear a very well-known woman speak on the value of postmodern worship. Apparently unaware of the heritage of our collective congregations, she went on and on about different methods of instrumental music and gave pointers on ways to engage the musicians. About halfway through her speech, one of the worship ministers in the audience mercifully stopped her and explained that she was speaking to a group of worship leaders who work in A capella churches. She froze, looking shocked and confused but recovered quickly and finished her session. At the end of her session she opened the floor for questions and then finally stopped and asked the question that I am sure she had been dying to ask all along, "Tell me, why do you choose to sing A capella when music is so beautifully enhanced by instrumentation?" Our host, a well-known worship leader in our fellowship, stood and said, "I could take the time to explain the heritage and the principles of our fellowship but neither would do justice to the experience. If you will permit me, I'd like to lead this group of worship leaders in a song that will help you understand." He turned to the group and said, "Let's share with her the blessing of 'The Lord Bless You and Keep You'."

The room was filled with worship leaders, praise team members, and professional singers and as we stood and broke into the age-old hymn, I was overcome with emotion and the tears began to stream down my face. I moved to the side to try and see the woman at the front of the room and I noticed that the moment had not escaped her either. She stood perfectly still as tears flowed freely down her face until we reached the seven-fold amen and she was so overcome with emotion she collapsed into a chair, face in her hands. We sang with every fiber of our being, proud of our heritage and proud to share in the blessing of God's gifts and as we finished the speaker just sat in silence before standing and whispering, "Thank you. Thank you. Thank you."

I am not trying to make an argument for instrumental music verses A capella music but an argument for the beauty of a gift used for God's glory. How are you using your gifts?

Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man's gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.
Romans 12:4-8

Your thoughts?

Friday, October 06, 2006

Terrible, Horrible, No-good, Very Bad Day

Yesterday when my son woke me up at 5 am after I had only been asleep two hours, I knew the day was starting off badly. By the time I reached Little Man's mother's day out program I realized I had left both his and my lunch at home. As I walked into the office after scrambling together some leftovers from the day before I was bombarded with three "emergency" help tickets. I paused quickly to grab a cup of coffee to fend off the massive headache taking residence in my head. As I walked out of the break room I tripped, spilling the cup of coffee down the front of my white shirt. I dabbed frantically at the setting stain as I rushed down the stairs to take care of the first help ticket and as I reached the middle landing I tripped on my own ankle and fell against the wall. Stop laughing; I am not making this stuff up. An hour later I finally sat down for my lunch meeting when I got a call from the mother's day out program downstairs because my son was having what they called "a bad day". I rushed downstairs and bent down to pick up my little man before I realized his hands were covered in creamed squash which he subsequently rubbed onto both of my sleeves from shoulder to elbow. I took him upstairs to sit with me while I ate lunch only to discover I had left the lid off of my water bottle so that when I handed it to him to play with he dumped a large portion of it onto my lap. Knowing I only had about 30 minutes until I was scheduled to run a training session for some of our Elders, I went to the office of the minister with whom I would be doing the training to warn him of my current state of affairs. The look on his face when I walked in his office confirmed the severity of the mess that I had become and he mercifully loaned me a t-shirt to wear in favor of my food-covered smock.

I am sorry to say that it wasn't even 1:00pm and already the day had gone horribly wrong. As I tried desperately to keep a positive attitude despite the day's mishaps I found it amazing how something as simple as a clean shirt made me feel like I might be able to reclaim the day for something good. Looking back I am reminded of how wonderful it is to have a Savior who can wipe away all of the days mistakes. I come to him in a filthy, bloody, sin-covered shirt and he says, "Here, let me take that, here is a brand new one, no charge." Sing with me.

Are you washed in the blood, In the soul-cleansing blood of the Lamb? Are your garments spotless? Are they white as snow? Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?

Your thoughts?

Thursday, October 05, 2006

On Our Side

Several years ago, my family took a trip up to Kansas City to spend the Christmas holidays with my sister and her husband. While traveling home to Texas in a two car caravan, my husband and I received a call from my dad over the two-way radio. "Travis, we've pulled over on the side of the road. Pull over and follow me." My husband gave me a puzzled look as we pulled over and then Travis got out and walked to my dad's vehicle. Several minutes later he returned and both of our cars pulled on to a side road, made a u-turn and began heading in the opposite direction. I asked my husband what was going on and he said, "Your dad said that there is a grass fire a little ways back and we are going to check it out." I sat there in silence, completely confused, and asked "And why are we doing that?" he looked at me and said, "I have no idea but it might be kinda cool!" My husband had just graduated from the fire academy three weeks before and was so excited about beginning a career in the fire service that he even brought his fire scanner on the trip so he could listen to fire radio traffic during the drive. We rounded the corner and drove up towards a grass fire the size of a pretty good-sized house. My dad called Travis on the radio and said, "Grab your fire extinguisher." I burst out laughing; my husband's travel fire extinguisher is the size of a loaf of French bread and based on what I've seen of his academy fires his little fire extinguisher would hardly be able to put out a small stove fire.

I think we, as Christians, make this same mistake far too often. When dealing with addiction, sin, and unholy behavior we foolishly believe that we can overcome by sheer will or determination. Like my husband's tiny fire extinguisher against the massive grassfire, we are helpless in the sight of sin if we do not have Christ fighting for us.

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgression it is by grace that you have been saved.
Ephesians 2:4-7

Your thoughts?

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

The Attacker

As a teenager I lived for summers and the chance to hang out with my friends, stay up late, have sleep-overs and attend church summer camps. One summer after attending camp I returned home to find that my mom had used the entire week to do some serious cleaning and rearranging in every room of the house. It was late and my brother and sisters had already gone to bed so I didn't really have a chance to look around and see all that she had done so I went straight to my room and began to get ready for bed. As I worked through my nightly routine, I padded towards the kitchen to get a glass of water, just as I did every night, but as I turned the corner from the hall to the kitchen I was overpowered by something large, heavy and covered in slick plastic. I fell backwards under the weight of the thing, and frantically crawled backwards on all fours trying to get out from under the 'attacker'. I freed myself, ran to the light switch and discovered my attacker; my mom's fake ficus tree that had apparently been moved in the spring cleaning.

Looking back on that moment I can't help but laugh at how frightened I was of something so benign but the experience serves for a great lesson. So often I begin to feel comfortable with the way that Satan tempts me, sure that I know the attacks he has planned and how to appropriately thwart them that I don't even realize that I am walking with spiritual blinders on. I have to remind myself that the devil will never stop pursuing me and that I am to be alert for his attacks in whatever form they may come.

Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against
the devil's schemes.
Ephesians 6:11

Your thoughts?

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Under A Cloud

I've struggled with depression most of my life. As I felt the gloom return three months ago I thought it was just a bi-product of weaning my little guy, but as each day went by the gloom just kept getting darker. When I was at work I felt guilty because I was not home with my son; when I was at home I was distracted because I felt like I should be working. I examined every part of my life that seemed unruly. I cleaned out all of the closets and had a garage sale; I reworked our budget and focused on getting out from under the hospital bills. I buckled down at work and forced projects that were in limbo; I examined my prayer life and made a conscious effort to look to him and not me, and I "cast my cares" on him, but it wasn't worry that kept me up, it was the ick that I felt in my chest, the ever present sense of ache that wouldn't go away. I could go on and on about pressure, obligations, and guilt that I felt but they were just symptoms because every time the problem was pinpointed, I would take care of it and something else would come to light.

I would imagine that most would be surprised at how often I feel this way because I am really good at faking it, when I need to, but then I "crash" when I am alone. I know I could have probably popped a pill and felt a lot better but I resisted the solution at first because in some ways depression feels like home to me and that doesn't even make sense. So here I am, on the other side, looking back at the situation, unable to pinpoint what brought me out of the darkness, making it a clear case of intervention by my Heavenly Father.

Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.
Psalm 42:11

Your thoughts?

Monday, October 02, 2006


I believe everyone has a life soundtrack. I love my itunes playlist because the songs on my list all represent certain parts of my life and with one click of the play button I am instantly transported back in time by the sound of that particular song.

Strike A Pose by Madonna reminds me of summertime when my sister and I would call the local DJ 30 or 40 times a day to get him to play that song so we could dance around the den “striking a pose”.

Higher Love by Steve Winwood reminds me of riding around with my dad and sister in the summer as he picked up checks from clients and the messed up lyrics that my sister would sing at the top of her lungs “Bake Me A Pie of Love” instead of “Bring Me A Higher Love”.

More Than Words by Extreme reminds me of my first boy/girl dance and that magical slow, awkward, sidestep dance with Mitchell, my short-lived 7th grade crush.

Galaxia by the Gypsy Kings reminds me of yummy Salvadorian food and lazy Saturday afternoons hanging out with my college roommate, Lissette.

Fiesta Pa'Los Rumberos by Albita reminds me of my salsa-dancing days and of the wonderful students in my tiny little salsa class in the back halls of our villa in Italy.

Unforgetful by Jars of Clay reminds of the thrill I felt working center spotlight for a Jars of Clay concert after my friend Christie volunteered us to fill in for a couple of sick tour members.

Perfect Love by Marc Cohn reminds me of my first year of marriage and Sunday afternoons snuggled up in a hammock with my husband, a good book, and a big glass of sweet iced tea.

I consider all of these memories fundamental to who I am, but what really strikes me as significant is the way that music can draw me into the presence of God. Certain songs, certain verses, even certain tunes can pull me into the memory of an intimate moment with my creator, or remind me of the thrill of discovering a new “part” of God as revealed in scripture through music, or make my heart pound with intensity as I sing whole-heartedly in praise to my God.

I love the book of Psalms, the “songbook” of the Old Testament, an eternal record of David’s uncompromising faith in God, and a compilation of some of the most beautiful songs ever written. As I study each verse I can’t help but wonder what feelings and memories were evoked as David revisited each Psalm. How does music draw you closer to God?

I will praise God's name in song and glorify him with thanksgiving.
Psalm 69:30

Your thoughts?