The Messageboard:

Remember, I have moved my book reviews to their own blog. Tracy's Book Nook is now active.


Tuesday, December 8

Just Holding On...

I guess it's time to re-connect with everyone here. I know I haven't been around much. Other than a few book reviews and the His Princess letters, I haven't been around at all. For once, I don't have much to say. I haven't written any blog posts (I'm sorry), I haven't written any fiction, and I haven't been around to visit any of you wonderful bloggy friends.

Today would have been my due date for the miscarriage I had in May. As much as I thought I had dealt with it previously, the grief has come back in full force. The six year journey of trying to have children has taken a toll on me, though I am SO thankful that we have had one. In addition, we've been dealing with another devastating situation for the last two years, which thankfully, is now behind us. However, now that it has passed, I'm feeling the weight and sorrow of that as well.

I know that there are so many people who are suffering greatly with trials much larger than my own and that I have much to be grateful for. And I am. Really. But I am also weary. A body can deal with a lot for a long time, but a time comes when you're so tired of the struggle that it takes what remains of your strength to simply hold on. That's where I'm at. It's where I've been for a while now. But I am holding on. I'm holding on to Jesus and I'm holding on to hope. Hope that next year will be better and I will be stronger, hope that God will restore what the locusts have eaten (Joel 2:25), and hope that all things work together for good for those who love the Lord and are called according to His purposes (Romans 8:28).

As this year draws to a close and I experience these feelings of loss, sorrow and weariness, there is one Scripture in particular that is speaking to me. And as such, I feel that it is appropriate to become next year's theme for Seed Thoughts. It is:



Thank you all for the friendship you've shown me since I began this blog a year and a half ago. Truly this whole experience has been a blessing. Thank you too for your patience in my lack of posting lately. I'm sure I'll be back on track soon. God is faithful and He will see me through.


Friday, October 9

ICE ~ Identity Revealed

I have posted this list before. It is something I put together several years ago, for a class I was helping to teach. It is something I have returned to time after time, because I often need a reminder of what, who, or maybe more importantly, whose, I am. I return to it this time, because I thought it would be a wonderful way to begin ICE, my journey of exploring Identity, Character and Emotions.

Obviously, this goes to the Identity part of ICE. Whether this is new to you, or you already have a deep understanding of your identity in Christ, when you read this, pause for a moment and allow each sentence to penetrate your heart. It just might be what you need today!


If you are a Christian, you are:

You are blessed and highly favored ~ Luke 1:28
You are made in the image of God ~ Genesis 1:26
You are fearfully and wonderfully made ~ Psalm 139:14


You are a child of God ~ John 1:12, Romans 8:16-17
You are more than a conqueror ~ Romans 8:37
You are a citizen of heaven ~ Philippians 3:20

You are chosen and adopted sons and daughters of God ~ Ephesians 1:4-5
You are strong in the Lord and in the power of His might ~ Ephesians 6:10
You are holy ~ Eph 1:4, Col. 3:12

You are righteous ~ Romans 3:21-24, 2 Cor. 5:21
You are anointed ~ 2 Cor. 1:21-22
You are a saint ~ Psalm 52:9, Romans 1:7

You are forgiven ~ Eph 1:7-8, Col 1:13-14
You are free ~ John 8:36
You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood ~ 1 Peter 2:9

You are heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ ~ Romans 8:17
You are God’s workmanship ~ Ephesians 2:10
You are the apple of His eye ~ Psalm 17:8

You are His delight~ Psalm 18:19, 149:4
You are the one he died for ~ Rom. 5:8, 1 Th. 5:10
You are loved ~ John 3:16, John 15:12-14


Would Be Funny, If Not So True

I've seen this before and for some reason, really felt inspired to post it here today. I hope you will join me in mourning the loss...

~~~

Obituary printed in the London Times
by Anne Whitfield

Today we mourn the passing of a beloved old friend, Common Sense, who has been with us for many years. No one knows for sure how old he was, since his birth records were long ago lost in bureaucratic red tape. He will be remembered as having cultivated such valuable lessons as:

~ Knowing when to come in out of the rain;
~ Why the early bird gets the worm;
~ Life isn't always fair;
~ and Maybe it was my fault.

Common Sense lived by simple, sound financial policies (don't spend more than you can earn) and reliable strategies (adults, not children, are in charge).

His health began to deteriorate rapidly when well-intentioned but overbearing regulations were set in place. Reports of a 6-year-old boy charged with sexual harassment for kissing a classmate; teens suspended from school for using mouthwash after lunch; and a teacher fired for reprimanding an unruly student, only worsened his condition.

Common Sense lost ground when parents attacked teachers for doing the job that they themselves had failed to do in disciplining their unruly children.

It declined even further when schools were required to get parental consent to administer sun lotion or an aspirin to a student; but could not inform parents when a student became pregnant and wanted to have an abortion.

Common Sense lost the will to live as the churches became businesses; and criminals received better treatment than their victims.Common Sense took a beating when you couldn't defend yourself from a burglar in your own home and the burglar could sue you for assault.

Common Sense finally gave up the will to live, after a woman failed to realize that a steaming cup of coffee was hot. She spilled a little in her lap, and was promptly awarded a huge settlement.

Common Sense was preceded in death, by his parents, Truth and Trust, by his wife, Discretion, by his daughter, Responsibility, and by his son, Reason.

He is survived by his 4 stepbrothers; I Know My Rights, I Want It Now, Someone Else Is To Blame, I'm A Victim.

Not many attended his funeral because so few realized he was gone. If you still remember him, pass this on. If not, join the majority and do nothing.

~~~

2009 update: At the original time of posting this article I didn't know who wrote it and simply found it online. Since then I have found the writer. She deserves the kudos for writing it.

Note from Lori Borgman: This piece was first published March 15, 1998 in the Indianapolis Star. It has been "modified" and "edited" by others and circulated on the Internet, even sent to me several times. Imagine my surprise to see it attributed to some guy named Anonymous. If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, I take having my work circulated on the web as a compliment.

Wednesday, September 23

Our Deepest Fear

I first saw this amazing poem, in the equally amazing movie, Akeelah and the Bee. Some time ago, a blogging friend, Valerie from Simply4Him put it on her blog. Today, I was reminded of it, and wanted to add it to my own blog as well. I hope you enjoy it as much as I have. It really is powerful!

~~~

Our Deepest Fear
by Marianne Williamson

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves,
Who am I to be brilliant,
gorgeous, handsome, talented and fabulous?

Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.
Your playing small does not serve the world.
There is nothing enlightened about shrinking
so that other people won't feel insecure around you.

We are all meant to shine, as children do.
We were born to make manifest the glory of God within us.
It is not just in some; it is in everyone.
And, as we let our own light shine,
we consciously give
other people permission to do the same.

As we are liberated from our fear,
our presence automatically liberates others.

Friday, September 18

Happy 2nd Birthday, Sweet Pea!

A Gift From God by Ron DiCianni© 2009.
Image used by Permission http://www.tapestryproductions.com/


On this day, two years ago, I was given my greatest gift. At 9:30 AM, on Sept. 18th, 2007, my precious Sweet Pea was born. When she was born, I experienced joy unknown. I was so grateful that God would entrust such an amazing and beautiful gift to me.

It has been such a great time, watching her to learn and grow. It has been such a great time, watching me learn and grow! I have discovered that one of my favorite things is the sheer delight that comes with hearing the squeals of laughter she so often engages in. And I’ve discovered the helplessness associated with knowing she’s sick in some way, and there’s little I can do to help her.

I find myself completely enraptured by this sweet little life that I’m helping to grow. And I remain so very, humbly grateful for the chance to be her Mommy.

Our camera is not working correctly, so there haven’t been any recent pictures. However, we’re having a little party tomorrow for her, and I have a friend who will be taking pictures, so I will post them next week. Now, I have much to do to prepare…

Thursday, September 17

An ICE Re-Creation

So, God has given me focus. That’s good, right? I don’t have a lot of time these days to do much writing because my almost 2-yr old simply doesn’t understand that I need time uninterrupted to do so. There are some, who can be in the middle of a thought, lay it down to attend to something else and then come back to it and pick up right where they left off. I am not one of them. I can easily do that with reading, but not with writing. Reading and writing reviews is easy for me to do on the go, which is why I’ve been doing a lot more of them lately.

But back to my focus. I wanted to make sure that when I do have time to write, I’m writing what God is directing me to write. Here’s where the focus comes in. I mentioned previously that after much prayer, God gave me an acronym to remember to use for the direction He is leading my non-fiction writing in. That acronym is ICE and it stands for Identity, Character and Emotions.

When a person grows up in a dysfunctional family (as many of us have), there is often a deficiency in these areas. We maybe don’t understand that we have worth, so our character is weak, and our emotions are shut down, hyperactive, or simply all over the place. It all kind of goes together. If these basic things are not shown or taught correctly during the formative years, it does affect adulthood. But it’s not true that old dogs can’t learn new tricks. Especially if we have God on our side!

When I got saved, after living a dreadful heathen lifestyle, God really had to get a hold of me and re-create me. The Bible tells us that when we are born again, we become a new creation, the old has died and the new has come (2 Cor. 5:17). And of course that’s true as far as God is concerned. But we often have to be proactive about the change we are going through. I believe it is possible to get fire insurance – that is to believe and confess that Jesus is Lord and ask for His forgiveness, but then remain basically unchanged. But what a weak walk that would be!

For those who desire more of God than simple life insurance, there is more required. Not a set of rules to be followed, but a life spent seeking, worshipping and serving God. We are transformed into His likeness through the studying of His Word, conversing with Him in prayer and our acts of service (I often say we are not saved to sit, but saved to serve).

When we immerse ourselves in the Word of God, and allow it to, it will change us. We are to not be conformed to this world, but to be transformed by the renewing of our mind (Rom. 12:2), and we do that through the Word of God. But it requires our will to choose to read it, and let it in. That’s what I’ve been doing since I’ve gotten saved. I am now a much different and better person, but I still have a ways to go.


So my focus now is ICE:

~ Identity ~ To know, understand and believe who I am in Christ.
~ Character ~ To develop Godly character traits and reflect the Character of Him who made me
~ Emotions ~ To experience healthy God-given emotions, but to rule over them rather than let them rule over me.

I am excited about this new focus God has given me, and look forward to exploring it. I am thrilled to have you along for the journey. Be sure to look for more ICE posts to follow.




Tuesday, September 8

I Am "The Clay"

The Clay by Ron DiCianni© 2009. Image used by Permissionwww.TapestryProductions.com


This is me. No, I’m not the woman shown, but it is a picture of my life. And maybe yours too. It has been just over 10 years now since I’ve turned my life over to Jesus. When I first came to Jesus, I was a wreck. I had been a heathen for about 18 years (I knew Jesus as a child) and was really good at it. I was broken and bruised from years of dysfunction and mistreatment – some of which was inflicted by others, while some I inflicted on myself.

I was so relieved and grateful to learn that I could come to the Holy, Righteous God, regardless of what I’d done. He received me as I was, filthy with sin, and washed me in the blood of Jesus, making me white as snow, righteous not because of what I’d done to earn it, but because Jesus made me so. And soon I learned that God loves me enough to accept me as I am, but He loves me too much to leave me that way.

Soon after I got saved, I found that I wanted more and more of God. I couldn’t get enough of the Bible and read it all the time. I also discovered, with great wonderment and awe, those wonderful things that are Christian Bookstores! And it was in my first Christian bookstore, only a few months after I came back to Christ, that I first saw this painting, The Clay by Ron DiCianni.*

When I saw this painting, I literally gasped! Of course, I had to get it. In that moment, I was able to “see” perfectly the image of the Scripture, “Yet, O LORD, you are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.” (Isaiah 64:8) We are all clay in the hands of The Potter, who forms and fashions us into the image He has for us. He sees us as the masterpiece He created us to be, then lovingly, patiently molds into that image.

Sometimes the outward image is not a true representation of what we are. We may look right on the outside, never showing the flaws, cracks and imperfections that appear on the inside. Often times we know this, and work very hard at portraying a beautiful outward shell, knowing that is what is inside is anything but. However, God sees our inner condition, and He is always there to repair, restore and rebuild us from the inside out. But it is not a passive process. We have a part to play too.

God is always a Gentleman, He will never force us to accept Him, and He will never force us to change. We have to willingly allow Him to work on us, and trust Him to do what is best for us. His Word is one of the tools He uses to help us to change. It is filled with wisdom, correction, comfort, guidance, and love. I'm passionate about God's Word and the way it transforms us, if we choose to allow it to. It is alive and powerful. Because of it, I have gone from broken to beautiful, from victim to victor and from a survivor to an overcomer. It is only by the power, patience and grace of God, my loving Father and Potter, that I’ve done so.


*You can find The Clay and other artwork by Ron DiCianni at http://www.tapestryproductions.com



Thursday, September 3

To Trust and Obey

What I know is this. God will use me. All I have to do is trust and obey. When I began this writing journey a year and a half ago, I didn’t have any idea where it would take me. I just knew God told me to start writing again and make it more public. So I trusted and obeyed. And it has been wonderful!

I’ve found that by following the Lord’s leading, He has used me for His purposes, and I have received the benefit. God is so good! He owes me nothing and gives me everything! The season I’ve been in has been B U S Y . . . With a toddler running around, church activities, attempting to be a domestic diva (ok, so I’m more like a domestic dunce), starting a new home-business, and having a super-abundance of books to read and review, my writing time has diminished. And I haven’t been happy about that. However, God has shown me that it’s just for a season, and I will get back to writing more. Lot’s more.

Just because I haven’t been doing a lot of writing though, doesn’t mean that I haven’t been thinking and praying about it. And once again, God has come through. He is dumping so much into me that I have to write down all the ideas so I won’t forget. He’s been giving me tons of ideas for blog posts, devotionals, articles and fiction books.

Another thing I’ve felt the Lord leading me toward is speaking engagements. I don’t know what it will look like exactly and I don’t know when it will happen, but again, all I can do is trust and obey. So believing this will happen someday, it is my desire to prepare. As it has been said, luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity (Seneca, Roman philosopher, mid 1st century). Of course it’s not luck that I’m waiting on, it’s the Lord, but the principal is the same, right?

With that in mind, I’ve been praying that the Lord would reveal what my platform would be. After all, all speakers have to have a platform right? Once again, God has not let me down. He first gave me the acronym ICE, meaning Identity, Character and Emotions. All of these have been very important to me since I’ve become saved, because I have really worked hard at knowing my identity in Christ, having good character, and mastering my emotions, rather than allowing them to master me.

After ten years, I’m happy to say that I am well on my way to being the person God created me to be. Growing up dysfunctional, I never had any of this modeled for me, so God has had a lot of work to do. But He is faithful, and He will not quit on me. After all, it says in Phil. 1:6 “And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.”

So as I have time, I will write on the things that God has been revealing to me. I am really excited about this new turn in my journey, and I’m thrilled to have you along for the ride! Stay tuned, it’s going to be good!

Thursday, August 20

For Everything There Is A Season

For everything there is a season. This is a thought that has been going through my mind a lot lately. It is something I’ve been living. It’s probably something you have been living too. Seasons in life change, much like the changing of seasons in nature.

It hasn’t been easy for me to blog lately. Sweet Pea is full-on into everything now, which is quite prohibitive when it comes to doing any actual thinking or writing. And our laptop was broken and being repaired for nearly a month! While I do my writing on the desktop in the office, I usually read on the laptop because it is in the family room, and the desktop is in the office – with too much for Sweet Pea to get into.

So I haven’t been around much. But I miss visiting with you all, and sharing my thoughts. I know that this time will pass (and it will probably seem too quickly at that), but for now, I’m just not as present online in the blogging world as I would like to be. It’s true that I could write at night, and that’s what I’m trying to get back to, but with chasing a toddler all day, I’ve been pretty drained lately and my thoughts simply don't want to be coherent at night any longer.

Still, I will try to visit and post more, because I miss it, I really do. And I miss you all. I’m still happy to be posting the letters from His Princess and the book reviews, but I miss writing. All of this has gotten me to thinking about the “seasons” passage in Ecclesiastes. I’ve been dwelling on it a lot recently, and I may even attempt to do another series based on this passage of Scripture. We shall see.

And there is the finality of another season. Since I've been blogging, I’ve shared my struggles with having another baby. The struggle is now over. We have decided that after all the difficulties in actually getting pregnant, along with the three miscarriages, and the fact that I am now 40, it is time to stop. Actually, God has shown me that this season is finished. Sure, I could fight it, but that would be pretty fruitless, because I know God’s plan is always best. And for the first time in seven years, I’m at peace with where we are in having a family. With God’s revelation, He also bathed me in peace and love. And I know that one day, I will meet my other children in heaven. Oh what a wonderful day that will be!

So, I will stop fighting the tide, and simply be grateful for the amazing and wonderful gift that He has given me in my daughter. And I will get through enjoy these toddler times and trust that one day, I will no longer say “no” 3648 times per day. And I will try to appreciate all the seasons, whatever they are.


For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven. A time to be born and a time to die. A time to plant and a time to harvest. A time to kill and a time to heal. A time to tear down and a time to build up. A time to cry and a time to laugh. A time to grieve and a time to dance. A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones. A time to embrace and a time to turn away. A time to search and a time to quit searching. A time to keep and a time to throw away. A time to tear and a time to mend. A time to be quiet and a time to speak. A time to love and a time to hate. A time for war and a time for peace. Ecc. 3:1-8 (NLT)


Thursday, July 30

Do Not Go Gentle...

About two months ago, I began going to physical therapy three times a week. I’d like to say it’s because of an old sports injury, or a wild freak-accident I’d been in, or better yet, that I’d hurt myself rescuing a helpless kitten escape a burning building. You know, something cool like that, but that wouldn’t be the truth.

Sadly, the truth is much less thrilling than any of that. The truth is that I turned 40 this year. Yep, the big 4 0. It is no longer possible to deny that I am middle-aged. But all in all, that hasn’t bothered me too much. After all, my experience has shown me that each decade of my life is better than the previous one.

With aging maturity though, also comes some unwanted things. Things like aches, pains, strains and cracks. Things like not being as fast, fit or flexible. And the understanding of what itis’s are: arthritis, tendonitis, bursitis. I’m now learning the importance of core conditioning and strength training, not for vanity sake, but for health sake.

Some of this is to be expected after all, because we do have earthly bodies that are already in a state of decay and dying to this life. There is no fountain of youth, magical pill, or expensive surgery that will grant us immortality. Unless we meet our demise early in life (which is always possible), old age will creep upon and overtake us. That is merely biology.

But one day, our bodies will last, and we will be pain and illness free. God has prepared for us an eternal and glorified body, to be dwelled in when this fleshly body wears out. One day the aches will be gone, a distant memory of a time when things weren’t perfect and pure. I love the hope, assurance and comfort I get from the following passage of Scripture:

“For we know that when this earthly tent we live in is taken down (that is, when we die and leave this earthly body), we will have a house in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God himself and not by human hands. We grow weary in our present bodies, and we long to put on our heavenly bodies like new clothing. For we will put on heavenly bodies; we will not be spirits without bodiesWhile we live in these earthly bodies, we groan and sigh, but it’s not that we want to die and get rid of these bodies that clothe us. Rather, we want to put on our new bodies so that these dying bodies will be swallowed up by life. God himself has prepared us for this, and as a guarantee he has given us his Holy Spirit.” ~ 2 Cor. 5:1-5

Until that time comes, however I intend to do what I can to be, and live, healthy. Simple activities like eating well, stretching, strengthening, and getting enough water and sleep are great ways to put off the inevitability of old age. Yes, it will come, but I'll not just sit back and let it overtake me. I am reminded of one of the few poems that I actually like. I first heard it in high school and it struck a chord with me even then. I hope you enjoy it too.

~~~

Do Not Go Gentle into that Good Night
By Dylan Thomas


Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night. Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And The Winner Is...

For my very first give-away, Michelle Gregory has won the prize! Michelle, I have a copy of Blue Like Play Dough by Tricia Goyer for you. Email me your address and I'll get it sent to you right away, so you can read it before you meet Tricia in a few weeks!

Wednesday, July 22

A Sacrifice of Praise

Therefore, let us offer through Jesus a continual sacrifice of praise to God, proclaiming our allegiance to his name. ~ Hebrews 13:15 (NLT)


Have you ever made a sacrifice of praise? I thought I had, until the time came that I really knew I had. It seems like such a simple act, to praise God, and really it is. But this particular Scripture makes reference to a sacrifice of praise. A sacrifice.


The thing about a sacrifice is that there is cost involved. Think about it. If we can easily, even glibly, do something without giving it much thought or consideration, it is not a sacrifice. If we throw $20 into the offering plate and we still have plenty left over to pay the bills, go to lunch, buy a new purse or pair of shoes, and hit Starbucks a few times, then we’ve given an offering, but not a sacrifice. On the other hand, if we use the money we’ve been saving for our annual vacation (or whatever), to help a family who has lost everything in a fire (or something else), that is a sacrifice.


A sacrifice is not always the easy or pleasant thing to do, but it is the right thing to do. A good parent will sacrifice their own wants and desires to provide for and take care of their family. Most of us would even go so far as to sacrifice our own life, if it were to protect or save the life of a loved one. And of course we have the amazing example of Jesus, who came as the Lamb of God, to be sacrificed, in order to reconcile us to God.


A sacrifice of praise comes from a broken heart or a shattered spirit. It is not given without pain, because to praise in the midst of sorrow is a sacrifice. To choose, or will yourself, to rise up above the circumstances that are pulling you down, and praise the Living God, no matter what, is a sacrifice. When you are feeling crushed by the heaviness of grief, or are being mercilessly battered by the storms of life, and you choose to believe, to say, “Nevertheless, God is good,” you are offering a sacrifice of praise.


The first time I offered to God a sacrifice of praise was after my first miscarriage. I was hurting and I was angry. And I didn’t understand why I lost the baby it took me so long to conceive in the first place. For a while I went through the motions, but that’s all they were. I’d go to church, and was present in body for worship, but not in spirit.


Then one day during worship, I stood, and I bowed my head, and I began to cry. In that moment, I spoke to God, telling Him, “All I have to offer is my pain and anger, but if you want it, I give it to you.” And then I began praising Him for who He is. It wasn’t easy, and it wasn’t full of energy and life, but I did it. I remembered that God is good, even in my grief. I gave him a sacrifice of praise.


When worship was over, I was changed. No, the pain wasn’t magically all gone, but I felt the peace and love of God. I found that when I praised God in spite of my hurt, it strengthened me. I was able to experience the loving comfort of my Abba Father. Since that time, I’ve had other occasions to offer up a sacrifice of praise, and every single time, God has met me there, and comforted me.


Giving a sacrifice of praise during a time of sorrow isn’t easy, but it is important. Not for God, not to stroke His ego, but for us. It is through our sacrifice that we are able to let go of the pain and begin to truly heal. God longs to comfort us when we are hurting, but He is a Gentleman, and will not force Himself on us. He is there though, waiting for us to allow Him to. And it is only then, when we are willing, that He can give us beauty for ashes.


Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. ~ Matt. 5:4 (NKJV)

Friday, July 10

God is God and I Am Not

Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. Do your part to live in peace with everyone, as much as possible. Dear friends, never avenge yourselves. Leave that for God. For it is written, “I will take vengeance; I will repay those who deserve it,” says the Lord. Don’t let evil get the best of you, but conquer evil by doing good deeds. ~ Rom. 12:17-19, 21


Yesterday morning, during my God time, these were the verses that jumped out at me. I finished reading, and literally said out loud, “Blah, blah, blah.” Yesterday was not an easy day for my husband and I. We were put in the position of having to deal with consequences that came from trusting someone we shouldn’t have, who subsequently betrayed and hurt us deeply.


Even though I’d forgiven this person, and turned them over to God, I didn’t want to read the above verses. I wasn’t in the mood. I knew what we’d soon be facing, and my stomach was churning. Nevertheless, I prayed and I asked God for His mercy, grace and favor, to get us through the day.


Not long after that, when we were in the midst of our “stuff,” we abruptly and unexpectedly came face to face with this person. To the best of our knowledge, this person was not going to be there, and was in fact there for a different reason. We were stunned. There was our enemy, the one who’d so casually betrayed and hurt us, the one we’d hoped we’d never see again. The one we certainly didn’t expect to see on this day.


As I sat there, feeling as if we’d been sucker-punched, I was questioning God, why? Why are we face to face with our enemy? I mean, God is the God of the Universe! He is the Lord God Almighty! He is omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent! He could have done something, right? Well, He did. He reminded me of these Scripture verses I’d read just that morning. He’d spoken to me through His Word, and reminded me that He was in control, and that even if I didn’t see what was happening, this was in His hands.


Phew! I gained some peace by this and hope that though this situation was excruciating, it wasn’t the end, and that if we remain honorable, God would use it for good in our lives. I believe that. I also believe that God is good, and He can be trusted, with my life, with my heart and with my hurt. Sometimes I just need to remember that God is God and I am not. And I am so grateful that He loves me enough to teach, guide and correct me through His Word and through other sources. I am so grateful that He loves me enough to accept me where I am, but He loves me too much to let me stay there.


My child, don’t reject the Lord’s discipline, and don’t be upset when he corrects you. For the Lord corrects those he loves, just as a father corrects a child in whom he delights. ~ Prov. 3:11-12

Wednesday, July 8

To Tremble

But God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God – all because of what our Lord Jesus Christ has done for us in making us friends of God. ~ Rom. 5:8,11


I am so grateful for God’s goodness and mercy. I am so thankful that He loves me, forgives me and accepts me, that I can call Him both Father and Friend. I read His Word, talk with Him, and make a joyful noise to Him. In addition to Father and Friend, He is my God, my Healer, my Creator, my Reedemer, and my Provider. In fact, He is everything I need.


Knowing God in so many ways, it is easy to be comfortable around Him. To be just me. I know Him so well, as a loving Father, full of mercy and grace, meeting me wherever I am and accepting me with whatever I have to bring Him. This is comfortable and comforting. It’s safe.


Sometimes though, too often really, I forget another part of Him. I sometimes forget that He is Holy. I sometimes forget that I could not stand in His presence, because His Holiness would drop me and my un-holiness like a rock. I forget that He is the Righteous Judge and that my “good works” are as filthy rags to Him. Sometimes I’m so comfortable with boldly coming to the throne of grace that I forget to tremble in His presence.


My God is a Holy God, Mighty and Righteous, the Source of all power, He is the Beginning and the End. Yes, it’s good for me to know Him as my Daddy and come to Him as His child. But it is also important that I know Him as Holy, and that I should display humility when I approach Him, and that sometimes, I should not forget to tremble.


Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come. ~ Rev. 4:8


Years ago, I heard a song by Nichole Nordeman that was called simply Tremble. It was on her This Mystery CD. I don’t think it was ever released as a single, but can’t remember for sure. This amazing song always reminds me of Who He is, and that yes, I should remember to bow before Him and tremble. I’ve included both the lyrics and the video below. I hope you enjoy them.

Link to video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6R5x-AQYKqQ



Have I come too casually?
Because it seems to me
There's something I've neglected

How does one approach a Deity
with informality
And still protect the Sacred?

'Cause you came and chose to wear the skin of all of us
And it's easy to forget You left a throne

And the line gets blurry all the time
Between daily and Divine
And it's hard to know the difference

CHORUS:
Oh, let me not forget to tremble
Oh, let me not forget to tremble
Face down on the ground do I dare
To take the liberty to stare at you
Oh, let me not,
Oh, let me not forget to tremble

What a shame to think that I'd appear
Even slightly cavalier
In the matter of salvation

Do I claim this gift You freely gave
As if it were mine to take
With such little hesitation?

'Cause you came and stood among the very least of us
And it's easy to forget you left a throne

CHORUS:
Oh, let me not forget to tremble
Oh, let me not forget to tremble
Face down on the ground do I dare
To take the liberty to stare at you
Oh, let me not,
Oh, let me not forget to tremble

The cradle of the grave could not contain Your Divinity
Neither can I oversimplify this love

Oh, let me not forget to tremble
Face down on the ground do I dare
To take the liberty to stare at you
Oh, let me not
Oh, let me not forget to tremble


Friday, May 29

You Lead Me Lord ~ Psalm 139, Part 4

"O God, if only you would destroy the wicked! Get out of my life, you murderers! They blaspheme you; your enemies misuse your name. O Lord, shouldn’t I hate those who hate you? Shouldn’t I despise those who oppose you? Yes, I hate them with total hatred, for your enemies are my enemies. Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life." ~ Psalm 139:19-24


This is a tough one. Have you ever been hurt by another person before? Betrayed, slandered, mistreated, abused, or violated? Have you ever witnessed injustice, cruelty or prejudice? Have you ever been a victim of circumstance or persecution? Of course you have, you’re human! We all have. We live in a fallen world, overcome by sin, and we’ve all experienced, and caused, by the way, pain.


As Christians we are admonished to forgive. Forgive, forgive, forgive! Jesus said we are to forgive a person who hurts us seventy times seven, meaning as often as we are hurt or offended. We are to forgive if we want to be forgiven.


Forgiveness isn’t natural. It isn’t what we want. What we want is payback, vengeance, justice. We are humans, and we have human emotions and desires. When I read the above verses, I love the raw honesty of the Psalmist. He is being real with his emotions, strong and passionate as they are, as he cries out to God for intervention.


No, forgiveness isn’t natural. But it is necessary. It is necessary for our own sakes. When we hold onto the offenses that are done to us, we become steeped in anger, and that anger turns to bitterness, animosity, hostility and hate. And those emotions are destructive, not to the person who hurt or offended us, but to ourselves.


If we choose to forgive our enemies, we free ourselves from an ugly and dark self-imposed prison and we free God to act on our behalf. He will vindicate us. God is the judge, and He’s got our backs! It says in Romans 12:19, “Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord.”


Offering forgiveness doesn’t simply mean the offender is getting off without penalty though. Simply put, actions have consequences. One way or another. Forgiveness can be instantaneous, but I think (in my case anyway) that’s more the exception than the rule. We have very real and strong emotions that we experience when we are harmed. That’s natural. And we often have to allow ourselves to experience them before we are able to choose to let go, heal and forgive.


When we make that choice, it doesn’t necessarily make all of our feelings go away, but rather it allows God to come in and begin to do His work in helping us to heal. His healing further allows us to let go and move forward. It is then that we are able to follow His lead and live the life He desires for us to have.


And it is only after that, after we’ve allowed God to show us the dark places in our hearts and heal us, that we are truly able to follow His path, ascend His hill and stand in His holy place.


“Who may ascend into the hill of the LORD? Or who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who has not lifted up his soul to an idol, nor sworn deceitfully. He shall receive blessing from the LORD, and righteousness from the God of his salvation.” ~ Psalm 24:3-5

Thursday, May 28

Selfish and Cruel ~ Current Events Wrap Up

Ok, it’s Thursday, and you know what that means… It’s time for The Current Events Wrap Up meme, hosted by the amazing Julie Arduini at her The Surrendered Scribe blog. The Current Events Wrap Up meme is the vision God gave Julie for discussing what is going on in the world, nation and even our own lives. There is so much happening these days and it would be amazing to have a team of conservative commentators discussing their thoughts. Please go and check out Julie’s blog, and if you like current events or news, think about joining in and/or spreading the word!

~~~

I haven’t participated in Current Events Wrap Up for a couple of weeks, so I thought I’d best jump in again. I know you all have been dying to hear my opinion! ;-)


Earthquakes ~ Honduras, California
Wars ~ Iraq, Afghanistan
Rumors of Wars ~ Iran, North Korea
As well as the economy and the Supreme Court Justice Nominee

As always, there’s lots going on in the world today. The story that really grabbed me though, is that of Bonnie Sweeten, the PA mom, who concocted the abduction scheme to go to Disney World with her nine year old daughter.

While her actual motive is yet unclear, it is impossible for me to grasp any possible motive other than sheer selfishness. The worry and sorrow she caused this family is inexcusable. There were two other daughters, a husband, and an ex-husband, father of the taken child who weren’t sure they’d ever see their loved ones again, but were sure something awful had happened to them.

The cost involved for the search must be enormous. The loss of all of the resources that were taken from other actual crimes and situations must be incalculable. Seriously, what are we becoming as a society, that people have such little regard for others? The crimes that this woman are being charged with are misdemeanors, so there will be little penalty for the harm she caused. Will she have to make restitution for the cost involved? Perhaps a portion.

Though I know it will never happen, I have an idea that will help cut crime dramatically and thus solve the overcrowding of prisons. Restitution will always be demanded for crimes and equivalent loss of money, property, income, etc. The perpetrator will have to work in a prison doing whatever jobs around the prison that are necessary (laundry, yard work, cooking, etc), earning comparable wages, paying first taxes, then their own expenses (living, food, clothing, medical, etc), and then any remaining funds going to pay the restitution that is owed. They would get released only after all restitution is paid in full.

No, it will never happen. The liberals would cry foul, saying it is unconstitutional and cruel and unusual punishment. But a girl can dream, can’t she?

~~~

On a personal note, thank you all for your well wishes, prayers and concern over my recent miscarriage. I truly appreciate it. In addition, I am considering taking a blog-cation for some time over the summer, to reflect, refresh and re-focus. I’ll let you know the details when I know them myself.

Wednesday, May 27

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier ~ All About America

I love America and am a passionate patriot. I believe America offers freedom, hope and opportunity like no other country in the world. As such, I will be posting All About America every Wednesday! The content will vary and may include photos, facts, commentary, quotes, excerpts of speeches, etc. I will use different sources and make every attempt to site the source. I hope you enjoy All About America as much as I do, and that you’ll come back and visit often. And may God Bless America!

~~~

This has been taken from The American Patriot’s Almanac by William J. Bennett and John T.E. Cribb. It is filled with tons of amazing information and history, and anyone who loves history or considers themselves to be patriotic, will love this book. I did a full review of this book and if you would like to see it, simply click here.

~~~

“The sight before us is that of a strong and good nation that stands in silence and remembers those who were loved and who, in return, loved their countrymen enough to die for them,” President Ronald Reagan said on May 31, 1982, after laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in an annual Memorial Day Ceremony.


The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier stands on a hill overlooking Washington, D.C., in Arlington National Cemetery. One of the most solemn monuments in our country, it honors all of the U.S. soldiers whose remains have never been identified.


Beneath the eight-foot-tall, white marble tomb lies the body of an unknown soldier from World War 1, placed there in 1921. Inscribed on the tome are the words:


HERE RESTS IN
HONORED GLORY
AN AMERICAN
SOLDIER
KNOWN BUT TO GOD


The tombs of unknown soldiers from World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War lie nearby. The remains of the Vietnam unknown were identified by DNA testing in 1998, so they were removed, and that tomb is now empty. Members of the 3rd U.S. Infantry guard the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Tuesday, May 26

You Made Me Lord ~ Psalm 139, Part 3

You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it. You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered! I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand! And when I wake up, you are still with me! ~ Psalm 139:13-18


Oh, what comfort these verses have brought and continue to bring me. Though I had heard the expression “God don’t make junk” before, I didn’t truly get it, until I read these verses. Then again. And again. I read them over, and over, and over, letting them take root deep inside my heart. I needed them – desperately.


People who’ve grown up in abuse, poverty and dysfunction often struggle with feelings of inferiority. Self-worth is frequently associated with performance. There is often a feeling of not fitting in or measuring up. That’s how it was with me. Often through the years, my pain, anger, loneliness and oppression really got to me. I sometimes thought I was unlovable, to myself, to others, and to God. I didn’t think I was a bad person per se; it was more like I just didn’t matter. I wandered through life, determined to do and be better than my family. I worked hard and was pretty well liked, eventually, popular even. But all of that was superficial. Inside I was eaten up by insecurity and unworthiness.


I always was aware of God, always knew Jesus, but I never committed my life to Him. It wasn’t because I wasn’t interested. I just couldn’t find Him. I tried out various churches through the years, but never felt anything. Finally, when I was 30, I walked into the church that changed my life. God had been wooing me and I was primed. I was ready. I was tired of searching, I now wanted to find.


And find Him I did! God radically changed my life and more importantly, how I saw and valued myself. I realized I was beautiful, enjoyable, and purposeful simply because He made me that way. I had worth and value, because He created me, not because of where I came from or what I’d accomplished. The wonderful and amazing God of the universe, created me, thought about me, loved me, had a purpose for me.


It is truly astounding to me, that He has written all the days of my life in His book. That He has a very specific and unique purpose for me, one that only I can fulfill. He created me; giving me the looks and personality He wanted me to have to fulfill that purpose. I have learned that when I criticize myself, I am actually criticizing the work of God’s hands. That’s not to say I can’t or shouldn’t better myself, but rather I’m kinder to myself as I go about it. I may mess up from time to time, but God is still there. He still watches over me and thinks of me. He still loves me.


I now know that no matter what happens in my life, I am not alone. I am not unwanted or unloved. The following song was instrumental in preparing me to receive Jesus as my Savior. God led me to it a few months before I was saved. I played it nearly non-stop. I love it still. I hope you enjoy it too.




Monday, May 25

Happy Memorial Day

Happy Memorial Day! Please pause to remember and to give thanks.


What Did He Die For ~ Twila Paris

Proud to be an American ~ Lee Greenwood

Praise You in This Storm ~ Casting Crowns

In the Arms of an Angel - Sarah McLaughlin

Saturday, May 23

More About Memorial Day

Memorial Day, the last Monday of May, is the day we honor Americans who gave their lives in military service.

This holiday was originally called Decoration Day and honored soldiers who had died during the Civil War. Immediately after the war, various towns in the North and South began to set aside days to decorated soldiers’ graves with flowers and flags. Those earliest memorial observances occurred in Waterloo, New York; Columbus, Mississippi; Richmond, VA; Carbondale, Illinois; Boalsburg, Pennsylvania, and several other places.

The first widespread observance of Decoration Day came on May 30, 1868, which Maj. Gen. John A. Logan proclaimed as a day to honor the dead. General James Garfield (later the twentieth U.S. President) gave a speech at Arlington National Cemetery in remembrance of fallen soldiers, saying that “for love of country they accepted death, and thus resolved all doubts, and made immortal their patriotism and their virtue.” Afterward, 5,000 people helped decorate the graves of more than 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers.

Over the years the day became the occasion to remember the dead in all American wars, and came to be known as Memorial Day.

On the Thursday before Memorial Day, in a tradition known as “Flags-in,” the soldiers of the 3rd U.S. Infantry place small flags before more than a quarter million gravestones at Arlington National Cemetery. They then patrol twenty-four hours a day to make sure each flag remains standing throughout the weekend. On Memorial Day the president or vice president lays a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in the cemetery.

According to the U.S. flag code, American flags should be flown at half-staff until noon on Memorial Day, then raised to the top of the pole. At 3:00 p.m. local time, all Americans are asked to pause for a moment of remembrance.

~~~

The above information was taken from The American Patriot’s Almanac. I hope you have a wonderful Memorial Day weekend, and please pause a moment to remember our fallen heroes. It is the least we can do for the sacrifice they made for our continuing freedom.

Wednesday, May 20

The Meaning of Memorial Day ~ All About America

Anyone who really knows me understands that I am a passionate patriot. I love America immensely. It offers freedom, hope and opportunity like no other country in the world. As such, I will be posting All About America every Wednesday, because I am proud to be an American! The content will vary and may include photos, facts, commentary, quotes, excerpts of speeches, etc. I will use different sources and make every attempt to site the source. Sometimes I may offer commentary, other times, if I think the content speaks for itself, I may not. I hope you enjoy All About America as much as I do, and that you’ll come back and visit often. And may God Bless America!

~~~

Memorial Day has been a favorite holiday of mine for a long time now. Growing up, I didn’t really understand what it was all about. I knew it was a three-day weekend for most, and was generally considered to be the start of summer (though living in Phoenix, it usually seems like summer), but that was about it. My family didn’t typically make a big deal of most holidays, so there were no traditions we followed in regards to Memorial Day.


I grew up in the 1980’s, which I’m really glad for. Throughout my teenage years, Ronald Reagan was the President of the United States. He was both a great man and leader. He was very open about his faith in Christ and was a strong patriot. This man that I admired, but never met, was a huge influence on my life. In addition, he was my Commander-In-Chief when I joined the United States Air Force. I believe those two things, admiring President Reagan and serving in the Air Force, are what became the foundation for the patriot that I have become.


To me (and perhaps most other people), the United States of America is greatest country in the world. We have freedoms, liberties and privileges that many people in other countries only dream of, or possibly cannot even conceive. Our nation was founded on Christian principles and I believe that is the only reason we’ve done so well. That is also the reason so many people and countries around the world hate us and want to see us destroyed.


We’ve had people throughout our duration as a nation, who’ve stood for what is right and have chosen to put themselves in harm’s way to protect not only our freedom, but also the freedom of others. Our military men and women are heroes and deserve to be honored as such. I say this not because I served, but because it’s true. In time of peace or war, it is they who stand guard to protect us from our enemies. It is they who fight and die for the rest of us. We owe them a debt of gratitude. We can never possibly re-pay them for their sacrifice, especially the fallen heroes. But what we can do, is honor and respect them, and thank them for their service.


Memorial Day is a special day that has been set apart to do just that for our fallen heroes. It is a day to think about those who’ve given their lives for this great nation. It is a day to remember them and their sacrifice, with reverence and honor and appreciation. Memorial Day is to be one of solemnity and remembrance, while we celebrate what they did. The way the meaning of Memorial Day has been largely forgotten truly burdens my heart.


Like most holidays, it has become completely commercialized, with great sales all around. It has become a long weekend to party and travel. There is nothing wrong with shopping, with having fun, with spending time with family and friends, etc. But from my heart, I urge you to join me in spending some time remembering and thanking our heroes. Last year, I spent quite a bit of time, creating a page (or lens) at Squidoo, which is all about Memorial Day. It is dedicated to our heroes. Please take a few moments to look at it. I would love to hear what you think about it. It contains about as much info as I could find for Memorial Day, including touching video's, songs, poems and books. This was truly a labor of love for me and I’m very happy to have done it.


Click here to see the page I created, The Meaning of Memorial Day


“Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” ~ John 15:13

Tuesday, May 19

Ben Stein ~ Character Counts

The Character Counts Meme posts every first and third Tuesday of the month. I’d love to have you join me for spotlighting, celebrating and honoring people of good character, who’ve led exemplary lives and who’ve lived with honor, integrity, dignity and sacrifice, and those who’ve inspired others by overcome great obstacles in their own lives. I believe that when we celebrate and exhort good character traits, we can turn the tide, and see more of them. At least I’d like to try! If you are joining us, please leave your name and link at the Mr. Linky down below and don’t forget to leave a comment!

~~~

This week’s Character Counts post will be a bit different. I have chosen to spotlight someone we all think we know, but may be surprised to find out more about – Ben Stein. I will give a very brief summary about Ben, then will allow him to show his character through his own words. I think you’ll agree with me, that he is indeed a man of great character.


Ben Stein was born in 1944. He is Jewish, an actor, comedian and documentary film maker (Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed). These are the things most people know about Ben. What many do not know, is that he is (or has been) an attorney, a professor (at American University, U.C. Santa Cruz, and Pepperdine, writer/columnist (The American Spectator, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, New York Magazine, Baron’s Magazine) and a speech writer for President’s Nixon and Ford. He is a typically considered politically and economically conservative and is a proponent of Intelligent Design and is highly pro-life.

To learn more about Ben Stein and his things he’s written, visit his website (I particularly recommend his Christmas article from 12/18/05). This is a bit long, but well worth the read.

~~~

For many years Ben Stein has written a biweekly column called Monday Night At Morton 's. (Morton's is a famous chain of Steakhouses known to be frequented by movie stars and famous people from around the globe.) Now, Ben is terminating the column to move on to other things in his life. Reading his final column is worth a few minutes of your time.

Ben Stein's Last Column...

How Can Someone Who Lives in Insane Luxury Be a Star in Today's World?

As I begin to write this, I 'slug' it, as we writers say, which means I put a heading on top of the document to identify it. This heading is 'E-online FINAL,' and it gives me a shiver to write it. I have been doing this column for so long that I cannot even recall when I started. I loved writing this column so much for so long I came to believe it would never end.


It worked well for a long time, but gradually, my changing as a person and the world's changes have overtaken it. On a small scale, Morton 's, while better than ever, no longer attracts as many stars as it used to. It still brings in the rich people in droves and definitely some stars. I saw Samuel L. Jackson there a few days ago, and we had a nice visit, and right before that, I saw and had a splendid talk with Warren Beatty in an elevator, in which we agreed that Splendor in the Grass was a super movie. But Morton 's is not the star galaxy it once was, though it probably will be again.


Beyond that, a bigger change has happened..? I no longer think Hollywood stars are terribly important. They are uniformly pleasant, friendly people, and they treat me better than I deserve to be treated. But a man or woman who makes a huge wage for memorizing lines and reciting them in front of a camera is no longer my idea of a shining star we should all look up to.


How can a man or woman who makes an eight-figure wage and lives in insane luxury really be a star in today's world, if by a 'star' we mean someone bright and powerful and attractive as a role model? Real stars are not riding around in the backs of limousines or in Porsches or getting trained in yoga or Pilates and eating only raw fruit while they have Vietnamese girls do their nails.


They can be interesting, nice people, but they are not heroes to me any longer. A real star is the soldier of the 4th Infantry Division who poked his head into a hole on a farm near Tikrit , Iraq . He could have been met by a bomb or a hail of AK-47 bullets. Instead, he faced an abject Saddam Hussein and the gratitude of all of the decent people of the world.


A real star is the U.S. soldier who was sent to disarm a bomb next to a road north of Baghdad. He approached it, and the bomb went off and killed him.. A real star, the kind who haunts my memory night and day, is the U.S. soldier in Baghdad who saw a little girl playing with a piece of unexploded ordnance on a street near where he was guarding a station. He pushed her aside and threw himself on it just as it exploded. He left a family desolate in California and a little girl alive in Baghdad.


The stars who deserve media attention are not the ones who have lavish weddings on TV but the ones who patrol the streets of Mosul even after two of their buddies were murdered and their bodies battered and stripped for the sin of trying to protect Iraqis from terrorists.


We put couples with incomes of $100 million a year on the covers of our magazines. The noncoms and officers who barely scrape by on military pay but stand on guard in Afghanistan and Iraq and on ships and in submarines and near the Arctic Circle are anonymous as they live and die.


I am no longer comfortable being a part of the system that has such poor values, and I do not want to perpetuate those values by pretending that who is eating at Morton 's is a big subject.


There are plenty of other stars in the American firmament... the policemen and women who go off on patrol in South Central and have no idea if they will return alive; the orderlies and paramedics who bring in people who have been in terrible accidents and prepare them for surgery; the teachers and nurses who throw their whole spirits into caring for autistic children; the kind men and women who work in hospices and in cancer wards.


Think of each and every fireman who was running up the stairs at the World Trade Center as the towers began to collapse. Now you have my idea of a real hero.


I came to realize that life lived to help others is the only one that matters. This is my highest and best use as a human. I can put it another way. Years ago, I realized I could never be as great an actor as Olivier or as good a comic as Steve Martin or Martin Mull or Fred Willard - or as good an economist as Samuelson or Friedman or as good a writer as Fitzgerald. Or even remotely close to any of them.


But, I could be a devoted father to my son, husband to my wife and, above all, a good son to the parents who had done so much for me. This came to be my main task in life. I did it moderately well with my son, pretty well with my wife and well indeed with my parents (with my sister's help). I cared for and paid attention to them in their declining years. I stayed with my father as he got sick, went into extremis and then into a coma and then entered immortality with my sister and me reading him the Psalms.


This was the only point at which my life touched the lives of the soldiers in Iraq or the firefighters in New York. I came to realize that life lived to help others is the only one that matters and that it is my duty, in return for the lavish life God has devolved upon me, to help others He has placed in my path. This is my highest and best use as a human.


Faith is not believing that God can. It is knowing that God will.


By Ben Stein






Friday, May 15

You're With Me, Lord ~ Psalm 139, Pt. 2

I can never escape from your Spirit! I can never get away from your presence! If I go up to heaven, you are there; if I go down to the grave, you are there. If I ride the wings of the morning, if I dwell by the farthest oceans, even there your hand will guide me and your strength will support me. I could ask the darkness to hide me and the light around me to become night— but even in darkness I cannot hide from you. To you the night shines as bright as day. Darkness and light are the same to you. ~ Psalm 139:7-12


Isn’t it good to know we are never alone? Though undoubtedly we may feel that way at times, the truth is that we are not. The thing is the Bible doesn’t ever say we’ll never experience the darkness, storms, sorrow, pain, betrayal, cruelty, evil or death. What it says, is that when we experience these things, God is right there with us.


Have you ever tried to flee the presence of the Lord? Times when you’re angry, doing something you know is sinful, wanting things your way and in your timing, or simply retreating into yourself? I have. It seems like the times that I need Him the most, are the times that I push Him away. Much like a petulant or pouty child. Nevertheless, He is always there for me. He is always waiting on me. He is always reaching out to me.


Have you ever felt as if God has abandoned you, that when you reach out to Him, He’s just not there? I have. There are times when the darkness is so dark and the storm is so violent that you feel you’ll never make it out, you feel like you won’t survive. You even wonder, where is God in the midst of it all? But we can’t rely on or trust our feelings. They are fluid, constantly changing, and influenced by our own limited and faulty perceptions. Feelings waver, truth does not!


The truth is that no matter what we feel, God is right there. Whether we are choosing to live righteously or in sin, whether we are joyful or heartbroken, content or dissatisfied, running to or from Him, He is always there. He supports us when we are frail and uplifts us when we fall. He strengthens us when we are weak and guides us when we are lost. However, we have to let Him. We can, and sometimes do, choose to turn Him down. But that doesn’t mean He’s not there – He is. The darkness may last for a time, but the Light always pushes it back. Weeping may endure for the night, but joy comes in the morning. (Psa. 30:5)


I am so grateful that I don’t have to rely on my own strength, knowledge, wisdom or feelings. To think that the Lord of all creation is always with little ol’ me, no matter where I am, what I’m doing, or who I’m with, is too wonderful for words! Yes, the storms come and the waves crash down, but we don’t have to be overcome by them. We can trust in the Truth, rather than our feelings, and lean on the support and strength of Jesus to get us through. That’s what He wants. That’s what He offers. All we have to do is receive it.


Thank you Lord, for always being with me, no matter what I’m going through. Thank you for offering me your love, mercy, grace, compassion, comfort, patience, strength and support. Thank you for driving out the darkness and showering me in Light. Thank you the hope and abundant life you have for me. You are everything to me and I praise you!

Wednesday, May 13

Duty, Honor, Country ~ All About America

Anyone who really knows me understands that I am a passionate patriot. I love America immensely. It offers freedom, hope and opportunity like no other country in the world. As such, I will be posting All About America every Wednesday, because I am proud to be an American! The content will vary and may include photos, facts, commentary, quotes, excerpts of speeches, etc. I will use different sources and make every attempt to site the source. Sometimes I may offer commentary, other times, if I think the content speaks for itself, I may not. I hope you enjoy All About America as much as I do, and that you’ll come back and visit often. And may God Bless America!

~~~

This has been taken from my second favorite book of all time, The American Patriot’s Almanac by William J. Bennett and John T.E. Cribb. It is filled with tons of amazing information and history, and anyone who loves history or consider themselves to be patriotic, will love this book. I did a full review of this book and if you would like to see it, simply click here.

~~~

On May 12, 1962, West Point Military Academy awarded General Douglas MacArthur the Thayer Award, given each year to a citizen whose service to the nation has exemplified West Point’s motto, Duty, Honor, Country. The following comes from a speech MacArthur delivered to the academy’s corps of cadets in acceptance of the award:


Duty. Honor. Country. Those three hallowed words reverently dictate what you ought to be, what you can be, what you will be. They are your rallying points to build courage when courage seems to fail, to regain faith when there seems to be little cause for faith, to create hope when hope becomes forlorn . . .

The unbelievers will say they are but words . . . But these are some of the things they do. They build your basic character. They mold you for your future roles as the custodians of the nation’s defense. They make you strong enough to know when you are weak, and brave enough to face yourself when you are afraid.

They teach you to be proud and unbending in honest failure, but humble and gentle in success; not to substitute words for action; not to seek the path of comfort, but to face the stress and spur of difficulty and challenge; to learn to stand up in the storm, but to have compassion on those who fall; to master yourself before you seek to master others; to have a heart that is clean, a goal that is high; to learn to laugh, yet never forget how to weep; to reach into the future, yet never neglect the past; to be serious, yet never take yourself too seriously; to be modest so that you will remember the simplicity of true greatness, the open mind of true wisdom, the meekness of true strength.

Tuesday, May 12

You Know Me, Lord ~ Psalm 139, Part 1

O Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me. You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I’m far away. You see me when I travel and when I rest at home. You know everything I do. You know what I am going to say even before I say it, Lord. You go before me and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to understand! ~ Psalm 139:1-6


This Psalm (139) is probably my most favorite of all the Psalms. I have read it many times throughout my Christian journey. It has given me comfort and assurance in ways that are both deep and profound. It is Rhema to me, life-giving words to live by. Just today I read it again. Once more, it has jumped out at me, specifically the part posted above.


I’m the sort of person that can pretty honestly say, “what you see is what you get.” I’m not much of a faker. I never have been. This doesn’t necessarily mean I wear every emotion on my sleeve, but still, I try to be real, though not always deeply revealing (in that I do try to practice wisdom). That’s why it’s been so important for me to be real in my writing. As I go through the seasons of my life, I find I have to be real and honest about them. With both myself and God.


Reading the above verses, it’s good to know that in this, I’m right on target. Like the Psalmist, God knows me better than I know myself. He knows what I think, feel, say and do, whether I’m honest about it or not. Whether I’m aware of it or not. And even whether I am near or far from Him. He knows whether I will take the high road, or the low road, way before I even arrive at the road.


Once again, with my latest miscarriage, as with my previous two, I felt anger. I was angry with myself, with God, with the world… The thing I didn’t want to do was pretend that I was ok, because I wasn’t. I was hurting badly and flat out pissed off! I hope I don’t shock you too much, but once again, this is me, being real. I spoke of my hurt and anger in person, on my blog, and to God. And you know what? I feel better. Yes, I’m still in the process of healing. But being real, rather than in denial, is both healing and freeing.


Sadly, there are too many Christians who aren’t real. Worse yet, there are “seasoned” Christians who try to influence “newer” Christians to not be real. Who do they think they’re fooling? Certainly not God! He knows us, loves us, and understands when life, and the storms of life, gets to us. That’s part of the beauty of the reality of Jesus. Fully God and fully man. He felt strong emotions; He loved, laughed and grieved. He experienced loyalty and betrayal. And He faced, and conquered, death. He gets us!


And because He gets us, He expects us to be real, even if that real is raw. He is there for us, waiting for us to come to Him, to receive the comfort, peace and love that only He can give. Like a loving Father, He welcomes us to come and sit on His lap and pour out our hearts to him. Even if it is after a temper tantrum. And as we sit with Him, being real with Him, and inviting Him to touch us in His own special way, He does. Tenderly, lovingly, He reaches out to place His hand of blessing on our head.


Thank you, Lord, for your healing-balm, tender-mercies and loving-kindness. Though it is too great and wonderful for me to fully understand, I thank you.

Friday, May 8

Mother's Day Loss ~ Update and Poem

Last week I spoke about my latest miscarriage and what I have been experiencing emotionally. On Wednesday, I had the D & C, so now the ordeal is over. I’m now able to move forward and ready to begin healing. The emotions (anger, hurt, frustration) are still there, but not as intense as they were. I am beginning to take comfort from my Father. I have to wonder though, if medical personnel will ever understand there is no comfort by them saying things like “there was something wrong with the fetus, and the body just took over,” or “there’s no reason you can’t try again.” A simple “I’m sorry” is much better than medical justifications.


Mother’s Day is this Sunday and while I’m happy to be a mom to my precious little Sweet Pea, I can’t help but think of the little one’s I’ve lost. I recently found this poem on a site that has a pregnancy loss area. It touched me deeply and occurred to me that it may bring comfort to other women who’ve had miscarriages, so I’ve decided to share it here. I would love to give proper credit for this amazing poem, but don’t know who wrote it.

~~~

To Hallmark, they brag that they have a card for everything.


Dear Mr. Hallmark,

I am writing to you from heaven,
and though it must appear,
A rather strange idea,
I see everything from here.

I just popped in to visit,
your stores to find a card.
A card of love for my mother,
as this day for her is hard.

There must be some mistake I thought,
every card you could imagine.
Except I could not find a card,
from a child who lives in heaven.

She is still a mother too,
no matter where I reside.
I had to leave, she understands,
but oh the tears she's cried.

I thought that if I wrote you,
that you would come to know,
That though I live in heaven now,
I still love my mother so.

She talks with me, and dreams with me;
we still share laughter too,
Memories our way of speaking now,
would you see what you could do?

My mother carries me in her heart,
her tears she hides from sight.
She writes poems to honor me,
sometimes far into the night.

She plants flowers in my garden,
there my living memory dwells.
She writes to other grieving parents,
trying to ease their pain as well.

So you see Mr. Hallmark,
though I no longer live on earth,
I must find a way,
to remind her of her wondrous worth.

She needs to be honored,
and remembered too
Just as the children of earth will do.

Thank you Mr. Hallmark,
I know you'll do your best,
I have done all I can do;
to you I'll leave the rest.

Find a way to tell her,
how much she means to me.
Until I can do it for myself,
when she joins me in eternity.

~ Author Unknown

Happy Mother's Day!

Thursday, May 7

ACLU, Prayer, and Hand of Hope ~ Current Events Wrap Up

Ok, it’s Thursday, and you know what that means… It’s time for The Current Events Wrap Up meme, hosted by the amazing Julie Arduini at her The Surrendered Scribe blog. The Current Events Wrap Up meme is the vision God gave Julie for discussing what is going on in the world, nation and even our own lives. There is so much happening these days and it would be amazing to have a team of conservative commentators discussing their thoughts. Please go and check out Julie’s blog, and if you like current events or news, think about joining in and/or spreading the word!

~~~

Ok, this week there was too much going on to simply go with one thing. So here is a bit of a hodgepodge of current events.


~ Where’s the ACLU when you need them?

I was briefly shocked today, when I read that the state of Hawaii, which is the birthplace of our very own President Barack Obama, has declared Sept. 24th, 2009 as Islam Day! I say shocked briefly, because few things in the government surprise me much anymore. What about the holy tenet held so dearly by the ACLU, or FFRF (Freedom From Religion Foundation)? My civil liberties are being violated! (To read more about this story, click here.)


~ No National Day of Prayer for White House

Today is the National Day of Prayer, which has been in existence since 1952. For the past nine years, the White House has actively participated in this wonderful event by holding a ceremony to observe the day. Until this year. Apparently the new Pres. doesn’t seem to think he needs it . . . (To read more about this story, click here.)


~ The Hand of Hope

Sept. 4th, 1999, photographer Michael Clancy, then a freelancer for USA Today, shot what he has described as “a miracle picture, a miracle moment.” The special picture he took was that of a 21-week old “fetus” gripping the hand of a surgeon. It was a great moment for the pro-life groups who work so hard to save the millions of innocent babies who are aborted, year after year. And it was a blow to the pro-abortion side, as it was a strong tool in the passage of the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban, which passed in 2000.

Samuel Armas, now nearly ten years old, has a good life. He still has struggles with the Spina Bifida he was born with, but thanks to the surgery he had at 21 weeks in utero, his quality of life is much better than it would have been without it. . In addition to being an active young boy, he is an advocate for life, believing the photo that made him famous before birth, likely gave countless "babies their right to live" and forced many others to debate their beliefs on abortion, something he's proud of.

Michael Clancy, who was at the time a pro-choice advocate, change his beliefs and has now become a motivational speaker at pro-life events. His mission is to help others see what he saw, and hopefully, change their hearts and beliefs too! (To read more about this story, click here.)

Wednesday, May 6

Christian Universities?! ~ All About America

Anyone who really knows me understands that I am a passionate patriot. I love America immensely. It offers freedom, hope and opportunity like no other country in the world. As such, I will be posting All About America every Wednesday, because I am proud to be an American! The content will vary and may include photos, facts, commentary, quotes, excerpts of speeches, etc. I will use different sources and make every attempt to site the source. Sometimes I may offer commentary, other time, if I think the content speaks for itself, I may not. I hope you enjoy All About America as much as I do, and that you’ll come back and visit often. And may God Bless America!

~~~

I find it fascinating that our prestigious, rabidly liberal Ivy League Universities were once Christian Universities! Below is a brilliant article, Harvard, the Ivy League and the forgotten Puritans, written by an academic, Ellis Washington, and posted in World Net Daily.

~~~

Sunlight is the best disinfectant. ~ Justice Louis Brandeis

There's always a conflict of interest when people who don't really like America are called upon to teach about its history. ~ Ellis Washington (a paraphrase of Ann Coulter)


How did the eight so-called "Ivy League" schools – Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Columbia, Brown, University of Pennsylvania, Cornell and Dartmouth – go from being training grounds for Christian missionaries and ministers and respected citadels of higher education to what they are now – propaganda factories for every leftist, perverted, radical, tyrannical, failed ideology known to mankind? – Marxism, Darwinism, Freudianism, Higher Criticism, communism, multiculturalism, relativism, naturalism, positivism, socialism, liberalism, egalitarianism, feminist studies, gay studies, transgender studies, transvestite studies, outcome-based education, radical environmentalism, etc.


Did you know that America's oldest and most venerated colleges and universities like Harvard, Yale, Dartmouth were founded by the Puritans? Yes, those same Puritans who along with the Pilgrims were devout Christians and the original founders of America. What do we remember about the Puritans? Now, thanks in large part to the false prophets called "professors" of the Ivy League schools, we equate the Puritans inseparably with the Salem Witch Trials of 1692-95 where between 175-200 people were imprisoned, and, tragically, 20 innocent people were given the death penalty for allegedly being a "witch" based solely on the testimony of a few hysterical, emotionally unstable adolescent girls. This incident was indeed a dark chapter of history that has nevertheless been hyped up beyond reason by the secular left to erase the memory of the Puritans from the marketplace of ideas and from American history, from which they remain banished, even until this day.


Despite their Christian roots, currently all of the Ivy League schools are private and are not currently associated with any religion. Why? Because by the mid-1800s the secular revivalist movement called the Age of Enlightenment (1600-1830) had thoroughly infected the academy. The French Philosophes led the movement – Descartes, Voltaire, Rousseau, d’Alembert, Dumarsais and Diderot. There were "benevolent" tyrants: Napoleon, Catherine II, Leopold II, King George III; would-be tryants: Robespierre, Saint-Just, the indulgents, the Jacobins; as well as Anglo-American and Continental philosophers like Hobbes, Locke, Berkeley, Kant, Paine, David Hume and John Stuart Mills, some of whom considered religion generally, and Christianity especially, as passe, anachronistic, barbaric and increasingly irrelevant to humanity's march towards humanism, secularism, higher learning and utopia.


Therefore, over time, as a new generation of professors and university presidents took over, the Ivy League schools forsook their explicitly religious mandate to train missionaries and ministers to spread the Gospel to the world and instead pursued newer fields of study that not only denigrated American's Judeo-Christian traditions, but were increasingly openly hostile to it. The 19th century saw a continued rise of empiricist ideas and their application to old and new disciplines of knowledge – physics, chemistry, biology, zoology, taxonomy, geology, paleontology, archaeology, anthropology, sociology, psychology, psychiatry, economics, political science. This was at the same time Charles Darwin's theories on evolution and non-theistic creation became popular among intellectuals and academics. Darwin's famous book, "The Origin of Species" (1859), became their new Bible – its priests and prophets, the professor, its pulpit, the classroom or the seminar, its temple, the academy.


Next came influential thinkers like Darwinians Thomas and Aldous Huxley, Engels, Marx, Hegel, Freud, Franz Boas, Mead, Weber, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Roscoe Pound, John Dewey, B. F. Skinner, Samuel Atkins Eliot and Charles W. Eliot (president of Harvard), and by the 1930s the Ivy League had totally become temples not only to secular thought, but they were increasingly hostile to orthodox religious ideas of any kind ... except of course the new omnipotent religion of Liberalism.


The late 1950s saw the coming of age of the so-called baby boomer (the post-World War II generation, 1945-65) of whom many, having rejected the Judeo-Christian traditions of their parents, willingly embraced these ideas taught to them in the academy. As the 1960s progressed, this godless, hedonist, self-indulgent, entitled generation got their college degrees and even filled the graduate schools, receiving J.D.s, Ph.Ds., M.D.s, M.B.A.s and other advanced degrees.


Next the question is: Why have the Ivy League schools become so radicalized in modern times? Because they are filled with the progeny of the World War II generation, the baby boomers of the 1960s who have so thoroughly hijacked and perverted the original Christian/intellectual paradigm the Ivy League schools maintained in the beginning. However, progressives, liberals and humanists' unrestrained assault on reason, logic, religion, morality, politics, philosophy, education and capitalism didn't stop with the Ivy League schools. For example, the College of William and Mary (1693) was founded by Congregationalists (Puritans); Andover College (1778) was founded by Noah Webster to train missionaries; Rutgers (1766) was founded by Dutch Reformers; Dickinson College (1783), Smith, Bryn Mawr, Lehigh, Bucknell, Colgate, Swarthmore, Vanderbilt, Northwestern and on and on and on all were founded either by Jews, Christians, Christian denominations or Christian religious organizations. In modern times, however, virtually all these colleges are temples to intellectual paganism.


Justice Louis Brandeis (1856-1941), the first Jewish person to sit on the Supreme Court and a brilliant legal mind, once famously remarked, "Sunlight is the best disinfectant." I hope this column was successful at shedding the light of clarity regarding the denigration of the Ivy League schools and other prestigious universities and showing how far they have devolved from their original mandate to train Christian ministers and missionaries to spread the Gospel throughout the world into institutions of higher perversion, avarice, excess, vanity and degenerate ideas.


Paraphrasing Ann Coulter's august words in the context of this article, I likewise say – There's always a conflict of interest when people who don't really like America are called upon to teach about its history.


History is the tragic narrative of the martyrdom of our geniuses. To the Puritans that gave America America, as well as Harvard, Yale and Dartmouth, setting the original Christian intellectual and academic legacy of the Ivy League schools, I say, truly you are the greatest generation.

Tuesday, May 5

James Earl Jones ~ Character Counts

The Character Counts Meme posts every first and third Tuesday of the month. I’d love to have you join me for spotlighting, celebrating and honoring people of good character, who’ve led exemplary lives and who’ve lived with honor, integrity, dignity and sacrifice, and those who’ve inspired others by overcome great obstacles in their own lives. I believe that when we celebrate and exhort good character traits, we can turn the tide, and see more of them. At least I’d like to try! If you are joining us, please leave your name and link at the Mr. Linky down below and don’t forget to leave a comment!


UPDATE: Mr.Linky doesn't appear to be working at this time. If you are participating in Character Counts, simply notify us in the comments part of this post. Thank you!

~~~

This week I have chosen to spotlight a man who is a fantastic actor and orator. He has long been a favorite (actor) of mine, but when I learned his history, I grew to admire him even more. While he is best known for his deep, rich voice, it wasn’t always that way. I hope you are as inspired as I was.


James Earl Jones was born January 13, 1931, in Arkabulta, MS. His parents separated before he was born, and he was raised by his maternal grandparents. When he was five, the family moved to a farm in rural Michigan. The move was so traumatic for the young boy, he developed an incapacitating stutter, and he refused to speak, essentially becoming mute. Though he could speak some, his stuttering was so bad, he wouldn’t do speak more than a few words at a time, even for his family. This debilitating condition lasted for eight years.


Jones began communicating through writing. He began to express himself through writing poetry. Things started to change for Jones in high school. He had a teacher, Donald Crouch, who saw through his insecurities, believed in him, and challenged him. When Jones turned in a well-written poem, Crouch pretended to believe that Jones couldn’t have written it himself, and had him recite it in front of the class to prove it. With his own words memorized, Jones found he could speak without stuttering. Crouch encouraged Jones to compete in high school debates and oratorical contests. One day, when he was a senior, Jones won both a public-speaking contest and a scholarship to University of Michigan.


When he started at the University, Jones majored in pre-med. He also joined the Reserve Officer Training Corp, where he excelled. It wasn’t long before he found himself more drawn to drama than medicine. Though he completed four years of college, he left without a degree. In late summer of 1953, he received his 2nd Lieutenant’s commission and his official orders. He was off to Ft. Benning, where he completed Ranger training.


After completing his service as an Army Ranger, Jones then headed to New York City to pursue his acting career. In time, he began getting small roles, which eventually led to larger, better roles. He has performed on Broadway, in movies, in TV shows, and has done voiceover work. Many people were surprised to find that his was the voice of Darth Vader in the Star Wars movies. And he lent his voice to Disney for his role as Mufasa, in the animated film The Lion King. One very special project he did though was to narrate an audio version of the KJV New Testament.

Jones is believed to be politically conservative, due to the fact that he supported the Gulf and Iraq wars, and is also a 2nd Amendment advocate. However, he prefers to keep his political views secret, and has stated that his endorsement is not for sale (which I respect).


James Earl Jones has become a well-respected and beloved actor and orator. He has won numerous awards for his voice and performances, including an Oscar nomination, numerous Emmy, Golden Globe and Tony awards and nominations. And all of this was accomplished by a man, who couldn’t even speak as a boy! Through encouragement from others, hard work, persistence, and an arduous program of public speaking, he overcame his debilitating handicap, to become one of the most talented and sought after voices in our time. Today he is one of America's most celebrated actors, renowned for what critics have called "the voice of the century."