Thursday, December 31, 2009

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Upper Room

The Living Prayer Center


The Upper Room® Living Prayer Center is a 24-hour, 7-day-a-week intercessory prayer ministry staffed by Christian volunteers. When you call, a person will answer the phone, receive your prayer request, and pray with you. After your call, your prayer concern will be forwarded to one of 300 Upper Room Covenant Prayer Groups located all over the world. When you submit a prayer request using this web page, your request will be e-mailed to the Prayer Center within 24 hours and sent out to Upper Room Covenant Prayer Groups as well. More than 30,000 prayer requests are received each month.

A comforting place...check it out!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Light



"And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness did not comprehend it" John 1:5

Yesterday was the shortest day of the year. The day when the dark hours are longer than the light. For those who thrive on sunlight, it is not a happy day. But with it comes hope, and knowledge. The hope of Salvation in form of the Christ Child and the knowledge that each day hereafter will be just a little bit longer. Don't let the darkness overwhelm you, keep the Christ candle burning in your heart.

Monday, December 21, 2009

If our need...

If our need had been information,
God would have sent us an educator.
If our need had been technology,
God would have sent us a scientist.
If our need had been money,
God would have sent us an economist.
If our need had been pleasure,
God would have sent us an entertainer.
But our greatest need was forgiveness,
so God sent us a Savior.
Anonymous

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Music and Sand



Sand art and "Do you hear what I hear?"...a beautiful combination!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Babies!



Yes, it's a movie trailer but it's just too cute! Or at least it is if you love babies(or even just like them a little bit). In the days leading up to the birth of the Child...I thought it appropriate.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Supression of Religion

Unfortunately, even in today's "enlightened" society...Religion is repressed in more parts of the world than you might expect...as shown here.

At this time of year, when we focus our hearts and minds on the birth of the Christ Child...so many must do so in secret...they need our prayers!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Freedom to Refuse Love

Often hell is portrayed as a place of punishment and heaven as a place of reward. But this concept easily leads us to think about God as either a policeman, who tries to catch us when we make a mistake and send us to prison when our mistakes become too big, or a Santa Claus, who counts up all our good deeds and puts a reward in our stocking at the end of the year.

God, however, is neither a policeman nor a Santa Claus. God does not send us to heaven or hell depending on how often we obey or disobey. God is love and only love. In God there is no hatred, desire for revenge, or pleasure in seeing us punished. God wants to forgive, heal, restore, show us endless mercy, and see us come home. But just as the father of the prodigal son let his son make his own decision God gives us the freedom to move away from God's love even at the risk of destroying ourselves. Hell is not God's choice. It is ours. Henri Nouwen

Monday, December 14, 2009

The Star

I have always been fascinated by scientists and astronomers trying to explain, prove or disprove the Star of Bethlehem. The star is a part of the oral tradition concerning the birth of the Christ Child. It's a beautiful part of the story...but not the central message. First and foremost is the birth. It is one of the first memories I have from childhood concerning the story of the Nativity. We can grasp the concept of a star, we see them every night...and the thought that God would have placed a "special" star in the sky is neither surprising or troubling. There was little to no fanfare for this remarkable event and most would not even have noticed the star. I hope those who have the need can reach a conclusion about how it happened or whether it even did. In the story that I know and love, it was there and it was beautiful...would God have used anything less?

Friday, December 11, 2009

A child

Every mother, when she picks up the young life that has been born to her looks up to the heavens to thank God for the gift which made the world young again. But there was a Mother, a Madonna, who did not look up. She looked down to Heaven, for this was Heaven in her arms. Bishop Fulton J. Sheen

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Again...

December 10th is the anniversary of Thomas Merton's passing...monk, writer and man. His most famous prayer follows:

MY LORD GOD, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it. Therefore I will trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.

- Thomas Merton, "Thoughts in Solitude"
© Abbey of Gethsemani

Hallelujah Chorus!

A distinctly different approach...

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Snow


For those of us who live in the sunny south, snow is not something we see very often. Sure we get flurries and from time to time we'll have an inch or two of accumulation (I know, child's play to those from colder climates but it stops us in our tracks!) but real, deep snow is a rare occurrence.

Of course everyone (or most everyone) dreams of having a white Christmas, if it could fall on the ground and leave the roads clear, but reality tells us we don't stand much of a chance in our part of the world.

For all the "bad" things we can find on the Internet, there are many "good" things too! For those who just can't get enough of the white stuff, visit Snow Crystals! They actually "grow" snow! Now if we could just learn how to do that we could pull out all our old rusty sleds and have a ball!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Oh my!

I have never claimed to be a great singer. I do LOVE to sing and just because they are nice people (and perhaps as a form of penitence), the church lets me sing once in a while but this, this brings a whole new meaning to the phrase "butchering a song".

It's bad, really bad...you have been warned!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Advent, Week 2

Advent reminds us that our salvation comes from something small, weak and hidden. One might have expected God to present His only Son to worldwide fanfare. Although He was announced by angel singing, only the shepherds heard. Although He had His very own star, only the Wise Men saw.

When we despair, we need to look for the small signs of God's presence. The smile of a baby, the play of children, the blooming of a flower, the love and encouragement of friends. Today the world tries to overwhelm us with noise but it is the still, small voice of God that deserves our complete attention.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Codex Sinaiticus




What you are seeing in the picture above is a 4th Century Bible written by hand in Greek on animal skins. It contains the oldest complete copy of the New Testament. Check it out here...

Interesting to say the least! Be sure and read "Why it is important".

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Time...

TIME is:
Too slow for those who wait,
Too swift for those who fear,
Too long for those who grieve,
Too short for those who rejoice,
But for those who love---
Time is not.

"There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven"
Ecclesiastes 3:1

Advent is a time to reflect, ponder and wait. We reflect upon what we have done and the direction our lives have taken in the past year. We ponder how God's Love and Law have been applied to our lives during this time. And we wait, for the Babe to be born in the manger to reaffirm our belief.

The Christmas season can and does go against all these. Between the visiting, shopping, celebrating, gift giving, decorating where do we find the time to reflect, ponder and wait? Do we work it into our daily lives by making it a point to spend a few minutes alone with God each day? Do we attend church services with an effort to be fully present in the moment? Do we wait to the very end and hope we have a little time left to spend before Christmas Day arrives? Perhaps we put it off until we spend an hour worshiping on Christmas Eve?

Texts tell us that Advent should be marked by a spirit of expectation, of anticipation, of preparation and of longing. We yearn to be delivered from the evil of this world. Advent is celebrated as a time of happiness as we wait the coming of the King. However you manage to bring Advent into your daily life, do it with joyful anticipation of the Birth of the Babe of Bethlehem...with a song on your lips, a smile on your face and love in your heart. He deserves no less!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Lions and Lambs

While reading a favorite blog "The Anchoress" I came across the following:

From Isaiah 11:1-9
On that day, a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jessie, and from his roots a bud shall blossom. The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him: a Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, a Spirit of counsel and strength, a Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord, and His delight shall be the fear of the Lord. Not by appearance shall He judge, not by hearsay shall He decide, but He shall judge the poor with justice, and decide aright for the land’s afflicted. He shall strike the ruthless with the rod of His mouth, and with the breath of His lips He shall slay the wicked. Justice shall be the band around His waist, and faithfulness a belt upon is hips.

Then the wolf shall be a guest of the lamb, and the leopard shall lied own with the kid; the calf and the young lion shall browse together, with a little child to guide them. The cow and the bear shall be neighbors, together their young shall rest; the lion shall eat hay like the ox. The baby shall play by the cobra’s den, and the child lay his hand on the adder’s lair. There shall be no harm or ruin on all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be filled with knowledge of the Lord, as water covers the sea.


She then attributed the following to an anonymous contributor:
What is so new about the promised “mountain of the Lord” is not that the wolf and the lamb are both there, but that the wolf remains a wolf and the lamb a lamb, and yet they dwell together without harm or hurt in God’s kingdom. Under God’s rule, conversion and obedience do not mean the loss of identity but the discovery of our true identity as one in Christ.

I've never taken the time to recognize or realize this truth...We belong to God in Christ but He means for us to remain individual. He does not call us to be "cookie cutter" Christians but to be what we can with His help. He equips each of us differently but with the same purpose. What a lovely meditation of Advent...show me Father how to be the best ME I can for your Kingdom...

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

A view from the pulpit...

Many of us look toward the pulpit on Sunday morning expecting the impossible...we want our priest/pastor to teach, affirm, reassure, encourage and lift us up according to our needs that day. We aren't active participants, we want to just sit there and have whatever we need handed to us. Oh, and the priest/pastor is supposed to know when they step up to the mike, just what to say. How can we expect one human to be all things to all people? We'll probably discuss this in more depth later but in the meantime, a little humor:

Told from a pulpit recently:
"Johnny announced to his mother one Sunday morning that he had two good reasons for not going to church that day.

'First, I am tired and need more sleep. Second, nobody likes me there.'

His mother replied: 'Johnny, I have two good reasons for going to church. First, I have to make your bed. And second, you're the priest.' "

Sunday, November 29, 2009

1st Sunday of Advent

From "The Upper Room" Daily Devotional Guide

Read: John 1:6-8, 19-28l 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24

The season of Advent lays the foundation for the celebration of Christmas. Luke tells us in his Gospel (4:16-21) that Jesus proclaimed himself the fulfillment of the promise God made to restore the people (See Isaiah 61:1-4). This is our hope. This is what we look forward to in the birth of the Christ Child. In the meantime, we enter into a time of expectation, a season pregnant with what is to come.

The scriptures show us how to receive again the Gift of Love that is to be born. The first letter to the Thessalonians tells a faithful community how to live expectantly; to rejoice and pray, to give thanks in everything, to cling to the good and reject evil. It is good counsel for us in Advent.

We have become part of a sacred history, and we are called to live responsibly--faithful to the purposes of God. In Advent we have an opportunity to prepare to receive the Christ anew in our lives, refreshing and restoring our faith with ancient truth and future hope.
F. Richard Garland

Friday, November 27, 2009

Now that's a speech...

A copy of George Washington's Thanksgiving Proclomation...

Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me to "recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:"

Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enable to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and, in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions; to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shown kindness to us), and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand, at the city of New York, the 3d day of October, A.D. 1789.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Something different

Since my last 2 posts were about being thankful...I thought today's post would be a little different...the questions and answers are courtesy of The History Channel:

How Much Do You REALLY Know About Thanksgiving?

1. Fact or Fiction: Thanksgiving is held on the final Thursday of November each year.

Fiction. In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln designated the last Thursday in November as a national day of thanksgiving. However, in 1939, after a request from the National Retail Dry Goods Association, President Franklin Roosevelt decreed that the holiday should always be celebrated on the fourth Thursday of the month (and never the occasional fifth, as occurred in 1939) in order to extend the holiday shopping season by a week. The decision sparked great controversy, and was still unresolved two years later, when the House of Representatives passed a resolution making the last Thursday in November a legal national holiday. The Senate amended the resolution, setting the date as the fourth Thursday, and the House eventually agreed.

2. Fact or Fiction: One of America's Founding Fathers thought the turkey should be the national bird of the United States.

Fact. In a letter to his daughter sent in 1784, Benjamin Franklin suggested that the wild turkey would be a more appropriate national symbol for the newly independent United States than the bald eagle (which had earlier been chosen by the Continental Congress). He argued that the turkey was "a much more respectable Bird," "a true original Native of America," and "though a little vain & silly, a Bird of Courage."

3.Fact or Fiction: In 1863, Abraham Lincoln became the first American president to proclaim a national day of thanksgiving.

Fiction. George Washington, John Adams and James Madison all issued proclamations urging Americans to observe days of thanksgiving, both for general good fortune and for particularly momentous events (the adoption of the U.S. Constitution, in Washington's case; the end of the War of 1812, in Madison's).

4.Fact or Fiction: Macy's was the first American department store to sponsor a parade in celebration of Thanksgiving.

Fiction. The Philadelphia department store Gimbel's had sponsored a parade in 1920, but the Macy's parade, launched four years later, soon became a Thanksgiving tradition and the standard kickoff to the holiday shopping season. The parade became ever more well-known after it featured prominently in the hit film Miracle on 34th Street (1947), which shows actual footage of the 1946 parade. In addition to its famous giant balloons and floats, the Macy's parade features live music and other performances, including by the Radio City Music Hall Rockettes and cast members of well-known Broadway shows.

5. Fact or Fiction: Turkeys are slow-moving birds that lack the ability to fly.

Fiction (kind of). Domesticated turkeys (the type eaten on Thanksgiving) cannot fly, and their pace is limited to a slow walk. Female domestic turkeys, which are typically smaller and lighter than males, can move somewhat faster. Wild turkeys, on the other hand, are much smaller and more agile. They can reach speeds of up to 20-25 miles per hour on the ground and fly for short distances at speeds approaching 55 miles per hour. They also have better eyesight and hearing than their domestic counterparts.

6. Fact or Fiction: Native Americans used cranberries, now a staple of many Thanksgiving dinners, for cooking as well as medicinal purposes.

Fact
. According to the Cape Cod Cranberry Growers' Association, one of the country's oldest farmers' organizations, Native Americans used cranberries in a variety of foods, including "pemmican" (a nourishing, high-protein combination of crushed berries, dried deer meat and melted fat). They also used it as a medicine to treat arrow punctures and other wounds and as a dye for fabric. The Pilgrims adopted these uses for the fruit and gave it a name—"craneberry"—because its drooping pink blossoms in the spring reminded them of a crane.

7. Fact or Fiction: The movement of the turkey inspired a ballroom dance.

Fact. The turkey trot, modeled on that bird's characteristic short, jerky steps, was one of a number of popular dance styles that emerged during the late 19th and early 20th century in the United States. The two-step, a simple dance that required little to no instruction, was quickly followed by such dances as the one-step, the turkey trot, the fox trot and the bunny hug, which could all be performed to the ragtime and jazz music popular at the time. The popularity of such dances spread like wildfire, helped along by the teachings and performances of exhibition dancers like the famous husband-and-wife team Vernon and Irene Castle.

8. Fact or Fiction: On Thanksgiving Day in 2007, two turkeys earned a trip to Disney World.

Fact
. On November 20, 2007, President George W. Bush granted a "pardon" to two turkeys, named May and Flower, at the 60th annual National Thanksgiving Turkey presentation, held in the Rose Garden at the White House. The two turkeys were flown to Orlando, Florida, where they served as honorary grand marshals for the Disney World Thanksgiving Parade. The current tradition of presidential turkey pardons began in 1947, under Harry Truman, but the practice is said to have informally begun with Abraham Lincoln, who granted a pardon to his son Tad's pet turkey.

9. Fact or Fiction: Turkey contains an amino acid that makes you sleepy.

Fact. Turkey does contain the essential amino acid tryptophan, which is a natural sedative, but so do a lot of other foods, including chicken, beef, pork, beans and cheese. Though many people believe turkey's tryptophan content is what makes many people feel sleepy after a big Thanksgiving meal, it is more likely the combination of fats and carbohydrates most people eat with the turkey, as well as the large amount of food (not to mention alcohol, in some cases) consumed, that makes most people feel like following their meal up with a nap.

10. Fact or Fiction: The tradition of playing or watching football on Thanksgiving started with the first National Football League game on the holiday in 1934.

Fiction. The American tradition of college football on Thanksgiving is pretty much as old as the sport itself. The newly formed American Intercollegiate Football Association held its first championship game on Thanksgiving Day in 1876. At the time, the sport resembled something between rugby and what we think of as football today. By the 1890s, more than 5,000 club, college and high school football games were taking place on Thanksgiving, and championship match-ups between schools like Princeton and Yale could draw up to 40,000 fans. The NFL took up the tradition in 1934, when the Detroit Lions (recently arrived in the city and renamed) played the Chicago Bears at the University of Detroit stadium in front of 26,000 fans. Since then, the Lions game on Thanksgiving has become an annual event, taking place every year except during the World War II years (1939–1944).

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Giving Thanks...

I was digging through my nightstand drawer last night...if yours is like mine, it is the depository for all things that you have no place to put but wouldn't dare throw away...and discovered a Mother's Day Present from my son, from 1993. A little ceramic pillow that says "Happy Mother's Day" and when you push the button on the back it plays "Somewhere over the Rainbow". Joy, of Joy's, it still plays!

I spent a few minutes thinking of the child he was and the young man he has become...and then of my daughter, my husband, my grand-son, my late parents and grandparents, the sister I lost 2 years ago and all of my husbands beautiful, warm family, his parents, sisters, brothers, in-laws and nieces. It dawned on me how many that involves and I didn't even get to extended family and friends. I have all these to be thankful for, and that is just the people!!!

We're told to count our blessings and I for one do not do it often enough...If you're the one chosen to say the blessing before your Thanksgiving meal tomorrow, don't take time to mention each one or the cooks will kill you (not to mention all the famished guests)! But sometime during the day take a few moments, lift up your heart to God and be glad...for He is Gracious to us!

Monday, November 23, 2009

I will enter

It's Thanksgiving week and despite the fact that most of us stress at some point or the other...because of travel, cooking, entertaining or any number of other reasons...We should be thankful...

Thanksgiving always makes me think of Psalm 100:4 "Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him, bless His name". Enjoy the song and take joy in the Lord for "He has made me glad"!

Friday, November 20, 2009

The picture of patience

Just had to post this for all the cat lovers (Rich!) out there. Watch this interaction between a kitten and a cop. Give the man credit for trying to ignore it and continue with his job. Despite all the kitten can do he does not get angry...good guy!

Now, having been the wife of a policeman I know how these uniforms are made and his wife is NOT going to be pleased with all the "pulls" in the material. Each time the sweet little kitty puts a claw into the uniform, it will pull a thread. She can take scissors and snip them but my, oh my...how many do you think there will be? But then again, maybe she'll just let him take care of it!

(BTW, the video was captured on the dash board camera in the patrol car, there is no sound)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Is this you?


By Naked Pastor

This cartoon made me think...how many times have you heard someone say (or said yourself), Where has God gone? We humans are so quick to lay the blame at the feet of someone else, even God. With prayer, petition and meditation it may soon become evident that YOU are the one who has moved away from God, not vice versa.

Fortunately for us, He remains steadfast and constant. We can always find Him if we look. A good place to start looking is on your knees...

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Unfriend

I know I've been linking to lots of other sites and stories lately but I just keep running across things that I really want you to see...

Today is the New Oxford American Dictionary's "Word of the Year". And it is...Unfriend! Basically it is defined as a verb and means to "remove someone as a friend from a social networking site such as Facebook".

Unfriend...with one word someone goes from being on your list to being branded as someone you want no association with. You can have all kinds of friends on a Facebook site and perhaps never meet them face to face. Our society is becoming isolated. You can "talk" to someone in any number of ways and never ever hear their voice...e-mail, texting, Facebook, Twitter. While any and all can be useful tools, how can we be a friend if we have no physical contact? If you spend your time using these modern tools, are you really developing a friend? One that sticks with you and loves you in spite of your faults?

Something precious is being lost and the invention of a word like "unfriend" shows us how deep the loss goes.

Monday, November 16, 2009

WOW!

The annual Circus Festival of Monte Carlo is a tradition of showcasing Circus acts from around the world...take a moment to watch THESE performers from China. The last part is astounding...and WOW was the only comment I could make!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Symphony of Science

God uses the most unlikely people in the most unlikely ways, to reach us...

As in this Symphony

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Peer Pressure

When we think of peer pressure, we usually think of friends persuading us to do things we shouldn't. But, as we see in the Book of Daniel, it can also be a positive thing. The story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego is the perfect example of peer pressure.

These 3 young men had been taken into captivity and were expected to give up all they had been raised to believe was right. They were told they had to follow another...a mortal man who proclaimed himself god or face the consequences. Because they would not follow the little "g" god, they were locked in a furnace to be burned to death. As they stood in the midst of the flames, a wonderful and miraculous event ocuured. Their faith in one another as well as their faith in God gave them the strength to withstand the pressure to change. In the midst of men who wanted to take their faith, and fire that wanted to take their lives, Christ stood with them. Needless to say, they walked out unharmed.

Has your friendship with another ever been tested like this? How about your faith in God? Would you do the right thing?

Friday, November 13, 2009

Freedom

There are two freedoms--the false, where a man is free to do what he likes; and the true, where a man is free to do what he ought. Kingsley

Originally I wrote several paragraphs in light of the quote shown above and the recent events...Veterans Day and the shootings at Ft. Hood...but then it came to me that perhaps I should just provide the equation and let you come to your own conclusion. Of course, if you'd like to discuss...

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Emperor Penguins


Photographer David Schutlz of Utah had been photographing Emperor Penguins for several days. He noticed that the chicks were exceptionally curious about him and his equipment and that the parents seemed to be encouraging them to check it out. From this picture, it looks like they were watching him much closer than he imagined!

You can read the rest of the story here...

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Mansions of the Lord

In honor of all our Veterans...living and dead...Mansions of the Lord

To fallen soldiers let us sing,

Where no rockets fly nor bullets wing,

Our broken brothers let us bring

To the Mansions of the Lord.

No more bleeding, no more fight,

No prayers pleading through the night,

Just divine embrace, eternal light

In the Mansions of the Lord.

Where no mothers cry and no children weep,

We will stand and guard though the angels sleep,

Oh through the ages safely keep

The Mansions of the Lord.

Written by Randall Wallace and Nick Glennie-Smith

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

God Singing

God looks at us with love, kindness, and great compassion at all times. Zephaniah 3:17 tells us that God takes great delight in us, calms and quiets us with divine love, and rejoices over us with singing. I wonder what song God is singing over me right now? What song is God singing over you? Scripture says that it is a song of rejoicing and delight. I wonder what effect it would have on us if we could hear, just once, the words of God’s song for us.

- Leigh Harrison

UT Marching Band....

Having way too much fun at Halftime Halloween Night

Gotta love it!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Fort Hood



Our hearts go out to all those affected by the shootings at Fort Hood Texas last week. The victims, their families and friends, those stationed on the base, those who serve in our military and the community that surrounds them. And yes, we lift up our prayers for the shooter. Although we cannot begin to understand his motivation and what caused him to perform this senseless act, God knows.

We pray that the Father of all Mercies surround all those affected with his love, peace and grace.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Lauds

Monastics (Nuns and Monks) schedule their day around the "Liturgy of the Hours", certain times of the day that they meet together to pray, sing and praise...They are:
Matins (during the night)
Lauds (at Dawn)
Prime (6am, the first hour)
Terce (9am, the third hour)
Sext (Noon, the sixth hour)
None (3pm, the ninth hour)
Vespers (Evening, at "the lighting of the lamps")
Compline (night or just before bedtime)

Watch and listen to Lauds...see the pictures of the earth as it wakes...hear the bells as they call to prayer and then the singing!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Holy Spirit

Many of us understand (or feel we do) what the Holy Spirit IS...but when it comes time to explain or describe it for someone else we get stuck...Gavin has a unique way of looking at it...Kleenex and the Holy Spirit.

And Youth, once you watch, lets discuss!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Living the Prayer

So many times in life, I have found myself at a loss for words when it comes to Praying...times of sorrow, pain, desperation, depression...the need and desire to pray is there but the words just won't form. I cannot put together a coherent sentence, much less a request. In those instances I have found myself repeating the Lord's Prayer...now before you say it cannot fit all situations, stop and think...what situation does it NOT cover? For me anyway, it has been a bridge to God in those dark times when I felt lost and alone. Those times when I had wandered away from Him...

According to this story, I'm not the only one!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Forgiveness

Take a moment to read this story and see what a blind Army Captain can teach about the absolute need of forgiveness...

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Hallowmas

Although as United Methodists we do not generally celebrate "All Souls Day" we will in fact honor those who have passed Sunday on "All Saints Day". And although we do not dress as Saint, we do spend a few moments in quiet contemplation of the dearly departed.

Halloween has never been a struggle for me. It is a children's' holiday pure and simple...the dark forces so often spoken of this time of year have no place in our home but, I had never quite put the thought into it that this article contains...it's not long and it is worth your time...

Friday, October 30, 2009

Thoughts on Preaching

I visit Deacon Greg's blog because more often than not, he has a word for me.

I saw this posting yesterday about preaching and well, if what he says is true (and I believe it is), I'm not doing my part...are you?

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Explainations...

My father once bought me a poster for my bedroom wall that read "I know you believe you understand what you think I said but I'm not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant." Guess you could say I was one to "beat around the bush"...instead of coming directly to the point. I always felt the need to explain my actions by giving all the minute details that went into the decision making. Sometimes it worked! Most of the time not...

After a while it occurred to me that I was ASSUMING if someone questioned me about a statement or action it was because they didn't like it. Once I started to take full responsibility for my actions by stating them right up front, life was much easier. Doesn't mean I never got in trouble again, it taught me steps in good decision making. When I let my parents (or other adult) ask questions, I got a much clearer picture of what they needed to know without all the extra details.

I must admit that sometimes I do fall back into the old pattern of explaining myself first...but it usually works itself out...usually...

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

A woman...

Proverbs 31: 30 - 31 tells us "Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Give her the reward she has earned..."

Society's image and God's image of the perfect woman are worlds apart. If we look to what the "world" wants us to be we will spend our lives totally consumed with our outward appearance. We are told to be this size, wear these clothes, drive this car, have this career, etc. Unrealistic goals to say the least. Not to mention being shameful...if we followed the worlds advice, we would all be cookie cutter images of a vain and shallow human.

God does not concern Himself with our outward appearance...He is concerned with the heart and soul. Funny thing though, if you ever see a woman who matches the description in Proverbs you'll be amazed at how her inward beauty shines through to the surface and makes her well, beautiful!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Party!



Sunday night's party was great fun. We had ninja's and race car drivers, wrestlers and pirates, puppies,Transformers and a wolfman, a bride and Little Red Riding Hood, Luigi, Mario and a Cowboy Sheriff Banana (figure that one out!)and a little bitty baby lobster...but most of all we had fun. It' is a joy to see the smiling faces of the children, youth and adults. I really don't know who had the most fun but I do know none will ever forget the story of the "Big Hairy Man"!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Fall




How can anyone be out and about this time of year and doubt the hand of God? The beauty of the season is almost breathtaking at times! Being from western NC (you know, mountains in blazing color) gave me an appreciation for His Hand in nature as a young person. Before I could give credit or put it into words my heart just knew there had to be a Divine plan for our world and all of us.

Get out this weekend and enjoy the colors...and then join us for the party Sunday night! Steph and Sara will be "lost Jack O'Lanterns"...you really need to hear what they have to say!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Superabundant Grace

Over the centuries the Church has done enough to make any critical person want to leave it. Its history of violent crusades, pogroms, power struggles, oppression, excommunications, executions, manipulation of people and ideas, and constantly recurring divisions is there for everyone to see and be appalled by.

Can we believe that this is the same Church that carries in its center the Word of God and the sacraments of God's healing love? Can we trust that in the midst of all its human brokenness the Church presents the broken body of Christ to the world as food for eternal life? Can we acknowledge that where sin is abundant grace is superabundant, and that where promises are broken over and again God's promise stands unshaken? To believe is to answer yes to these questions.

Henri Nouwen

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

This one...

Practices what he preaches. Going into teaching for all the right reasons.

Friday, October 16, 2009

I love Jesus


"I see Jesus in every human being. I say to myself, this is hungry Jesus, I must feed Him. This is sick Jesus. This one has leprosy or gangrene; I must wash Him and tend to Him. I serve them because I love Jesus." Mother Teresa

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Humbled...

I read about people like Sister Genevieve Uwamariya and am humbled by her experiences...and feel grief that I allow the petty things in my life to affect me like I do. I would that I could be more like her...take a moment to read.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

2012

Unless you've lived on the moon for the last few years, you are bound to have heard that according the the Mayan calendar the world will end on 12/12/2012.

Now the Mayan's did phenomenal work with astronomy and calendars and their predictions do include the fateful date as "the end of an age". It's just the end of the age according to their calculations, they're not saying the world will end. But don't take my word for it, check here.

There have always been those among us who feel the need to predict the "end of the world", but we don't have to believe them. As a matter of fact, we're told not to believe them. God knows when the world will end...period, end of story. According to Jesus even HE doesn't know the hour or the day.

Next time someone starts talking about the end of time and giving a specific date, just walk away. God's got it all under control and as long as you're following Him, you've nothing to worry about!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Consider it Joy...

James 1:2 tells us "Consider it joy whenever you face trials of many kinds."

This is one of those verses that sounds wonderful if all is right with your world, but it seems to disappear from memory whenever trouble comes. After all, can you really say you are happy when things go bad?

What we need to consider is the difference between happiness and joy. Happiness is a "feeling" and as such changes from moment to moment and is based on many variables within your life. Happiness is a choice. Joy is an emotion as is love or anger and is based on our hope in the Lord. We know He holds our future in His hands and will use all things for good.

God does not call us to be happy with the trials that come our way but He does tell us to look to Him and follow His lead. We are to have joy in our heart because of the knowledge that in His eyes, our pain is never worthless.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

More about this...

"Faith, however, is not a subject to master. Faith is a life to be lived in light of the God who saves." from The Godbearing Life

Like I said, more about this...later, think on it for today.

Friday, October 9, 2009

St. Francis

"Have patience with all things, but chiefly have patience with yourself. Do not lose courage in considering your own imperfections but instantly set about remedying them...ever day begin the task anew.
St. Francis de Sales

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Food for thought (and the spirit)...

A Buddhist tale:

The cruelest, most violent Samurai in Japan decides he wants to become enlightened. He bursts into the home of an esteemed Zen Master and demands that the Master teach him how to become enlightened.

The Zen Master looks deeply into his eyes and says, "No. You are a dirty, vicious Samurai and I will not teach you!"

Enraged, the Samurai yanks out his sword and places it right at the Zen Master's neck. He hollers, "Do you have any idea who I am? I am the cruelest Samurai in the world. I can cut your throat and not blink an eye."

Without skipping a beat, the Master calmly replies, "Do you have any idea who I am? I can let you slit my throat and not blink an eye!"

The Samurai falls to his knees, sobbing, overcome by the presence of a man mightier than his sword.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Love yourself...

Love after Love by Derek Walcott

The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other's welcome,

and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Vacation...


Nothing like a few days off, out of town, resting, relaxing, eating, sleeping, shopping and going really, really fast!

My too good to be true brother-in-law sent me to Lowe's Motor Speedway to drive in Richard Petty's Driving Experience on Friday! It was too much fun...my best average lap was 144mph!

I drove the #5 National Guard car...and had a ball!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Resting...




I love this painting and have posted it before. It is called "Rest on the Flight into Egypt" by Luc-Olivier Merson painted in 1879.

If you look closely you see Joseph sleeping on the sand, perhaps he is there as a first line of defense to protect his family. Mary, rather than subjecting the baby to sand, scorpions and insects found on the desert floor, rests peacefully between the feet of the Sphinx. The donkey stands and sleeps as donkeys do.

Here, in the middle of nowhere, under the stars, subjected to the elements rests the Son of God, His mother and father. We know God is watching, we know He has angels at the ready, should they be needed, but the only hint of Divine Protection is the faint light surrounding Jesus and Mary. A "night light" in the desert, if you will.

God does not feel the need to shine a light as bright as a star, He is All Knowing, All Seeing, All Powerful and needs not prove it to anyone. At first glance, He may be hard to detect but He's there, He is always there.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Yom Kippur


Today, September 28, 2009 is Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement. This is the holiest day on the Jewish calendar and is all about repentance and atonement. The following is a prayer used today...

Normally this would be sung by a male Cantor, but this version is a little more modern...hauntingly beautiful!



AVINU MALKEINU אבינו מלכנו
Our Father, our King, we have sinned before You.
Our Father, our King, we have no King but You.
Our Father, our King, deal [kindly] with us for Your Name's sake.
Our Father, our King, bless us with a good year.
Our Father, our King, nullify all harsh decrees upon us.
Our Father, our King, nullify the designs of those who hate us.
Our Father, our King, thwart the counsel of our enemies.
Our Father, our King, exterminate every foe and adversary from upon us.
Our Father, our King, seal the mouths of our adversaries and accusers.
Our Father, our King, exterminate pestilence, sword, famine, captivity, destruction, iniquity and eradication from the members of Your covenant.
Our Father, our King, withhold the plague from Your heritage.
Our Father, our King, forgive and pardon all our iniquities.
Our Father, our King, wipe away and remove our willful sins and errors from Your sight.
Our Father, our King, erase through Your abundant compassion all record of our guilt.
Our Father, our King, return us to You in perfect repentance.
Our Father, our King, send complete recovery to the sick of Your people.
Our Father, our King, tear up the evil decree of our verdict.
Our Father, our King, recall us with a favorable memory before You.

Our Father, our King, make salvation sprout for us soon.
Our Father, our King, raise high the pride of Israel, Your people.
Our Father, our King, raise high the pride of Your anointed.
Our Father, our King, fill our hands from Your blessings.
Our Father, our King, fill our storehouses with abundance.
Our Father, our King, hear our voice, pity and be compassionate to us.
Our Father, our King, accept - with compassion and favor - our prayer.
Our Father, our King, open the gates of heaven to our prayer.
Our Father, our King, remember that we are but dust.
Our Father, our King, please do not turn us from You empty-handed.
Our Father, our King, may this moment be a moment of compassion and a time of favor before You.
Our Father, our King, take pity upon us, and upon our children and our infants.
Our Father, our King, act for the sake of those who were murdered for Your Set-Apart Name.
Our Father, our King, act for the sake of those who were slaughtered for Your Oneness.
Our Father, our King, act for the sake of those who went into fire and water for the
sanctification of Your Name.
Our Father, our King, avenge before our eyes the spilled blood of Your servants.
Our Father, our King, act for Your sake if not for our sake.
Our Father, our King, act for the sake of Your abundant compassion.
Our Father, our King, act for the sake of Your great, mighty, and awesome Name
that is proclaimed upon us.

Our Father, our King, be gracious with us and answer us, though we have no worthy deeds; treat us with charity and kindness, and save us.

Transliteration:
Avinu Malkeinu, hatanu l'phanecha
Avinu Malkeinu, ain lanu melech eleh attah.
Avinu Malkeinu, asei emanu l'ma'an sh'mecha
Avinu Malkeinu, barach aleinu shana tovah.
Avinu Malkeinu, batal mei'aleinu kal g'zayrot kashot.
Avinu Malkeinu,

Avinu Malkeinu chaneinu va'anaynu, ki ain banu ma'a'sim,
Asei im'manu tz'dakah va'chesed, v'ho'shi'ay'nu

The World...

I saw this linked at Deacon Greg's blog and thought it was a great way to start a Monday morning...catchy tune!

I love the World

I bet it puts a smile on your face too!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Failure...

I have a few blogs I check on a regular basis...The Anchoress Online being one of my favorites...she has passion, insight and imagination...what a combination. Today she posted this...it's worth a watch (or two).

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Creation...

I just read a great piece by Peter Beck about Genesis 1 and the Creation story:
...Every step in the creative process pointed to and prepared the way for God's greatest creation. He perfectly created a world in which man would live. He graciously provided the foods which man would need. All those things, God said, were good. When the time was right, then and only then, God created man. More than that, they are created in God's image, meant to be a human reflection of His divine goodness, His ambassadors here on earth. As such, man is more than an apex animal as evolution suggests. He is the apex of the creation itself. Everything has been done for this purpose.

With the creation of man, the Creation was complete. When God surveyed His masterpiece, He pronounced His handiwork "very good." No other response was possible as the creation, like man, reflects its Creator.


You'll want to go and read the whole article here...He's telling us things we should already know but may never have taken the time to really know!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Your Right Foot...

I'll admit, I've tried this several times...it's a shame to say I cannot control my own foot!

Subject: HOW SMART IS YOUR RIGHT FOOT?

You have to try this. It is absolutely true. I guess there are some things that the brain cannot handle. You have to try this, it takes 2 seconds. It is from an orthopedic surgeon...

This will boggle your mind and you will keep you trying over and over again to see if you can outsmart your foot, but, you can't. It's pre-programmed in your brain!

1. Without anyone watching you (they will think you are GOOFY......)
and while sitting at your desk in front of your computer,
lift your right foot off the floor and make clockwise circles.

2. Now, while doing this, draw the number '6' in the air with your right hand.
Your foot will change direction.

I told you so!!! And there's nothing you can do about it!
You and I both know how stupid it is, but before the day
is done you are going to try it again, if you've not already done so.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Mission Work...

If you're reading this on Saturday morning, we are in the middle of a mission project.

Along with other groups from Middle Tennessee, we're spreading out around Murfreesboro in hopes of bringing help and relief to some who are less fortunate. We'll be doing house work, home repair, yard work and various other projects. I'd like to ask for prayers that those receiving our help will feel God's touch, that those who are doing the work will feel like the hand of God and that God will hold back the thundershowers!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Les Miserable...

is one of my absolute favorite musicals! Even though I can appreciate the acting, wrting and singing, it's not above a parody...

This has been around a while but I couldn't resist bring back...Forbidden Broadway...

"At the End of the play, Bring it down"

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Trees...

A friend e-mailed me the following story...

I hired a plumber to help me restore an old farmhouse. After he had finished a rough first day (a flat tire made him lose an hour of work, his electric drill quit) his ancient 1 ton truck refused to start.

While I drove him home, he sat in stony silence.

On arriving at his home, he invited me in to meet his family. As we walked toward the front door, he paused briefly at a small tree touching the tips of the branches with both hands.

Afterward, he walked me to the car. As we passed the tree my curiosity got the better of me and I asked him about what I had seen him do earlier.

"Oh, that's my trouble tree," he replied. "I know I can't help having troubles on the job, but one things for sure, those troubles don't belong in the house with my wife and children...So I hang them up on the tree every night when I come home and ask God to take care of them. In the morning, I pick them up again."

"Funny thing is," he smiled, "when I come out to pick them up, there aren't nearly as many as I remember hanging up the night before."


We all need a tree.

Monday, September 14, 2009

A quick prayer



Saw this posted at Asbo Jesus and took a moment to fill in the dots...why don't you give it a try! Right now, in the middle of your day...don't spend lots of time thinking, just be spontaneous...that's what God asks when He tells us to pray without ceasing...

Saturday, September 12, 2009

What we make it...

We took grandson to the local county fair last night. At 5 years old, he was beyond excited and ran from ride to ride. Needless to say, we had a hard time keeping up!

I noticed two people there...both carnival workers. The first was a lady working the roller coaster for the little ones. Although she said nothing unpleasant to the children, her motions were slow, bored and unmotivated. While I know it might be hard to keep up your enthusiasm when dealing with hundreds of little ones...it takes a strong armor to keep out their laughter and joy. I watched her for several minutes and wondered what could be the cause of her unhappiness? The old proverb tells us not to judge another until we've walked a mile in their shoes, I don't want to be in hers. Not because of her line of work, but because of her lack of joy! I realized all I could do was stand on the side and lift her up in prayer...that she would find wonder in the world around her.

The second person was the man working the swings for the little ones. His excitement was infectious! The children didn't just lift their little hands to show him their stamps (pay one price to ride all night and you get a stamp on your hand), they had to "fist bump" with him. He smiled and laughed while putting them in the swings and while making his rounds to be sure everyone was fastened in correctly. And then the ride began...with music and BUBBLES! He had a machine that blew hundreds of bubbles into their paths as they went swinging by...and it was beautiful to watch! The shouts and laughter were worth the price of admission!

A little later I thought of the difference in attitude of the two workers. One was barely there and the other was full of joy...why? Although we all have struggles in our lives, it is up to us to chose the way we will face each day. Do we walk around throwing a pity party or do we choose to be joyful? It's a choice you see, and no one can take it away from us, unless we let them.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

4 Things

My brother-in-law sent an e-mail this morning titled "4 Things"...although it was a short message, it contains much wisdom:

Four things you cannot recover:
The stone----after the throw
The occasion---after it's missed
The word---after it is said
The time---after it is gone


I realized I would do well to remember these...

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Prayers

Although the Bible tells us we should "pray without ceasing", there are times when we feel the need to be very intentional about our prayer life. Specific, take time out of the day to talk with God...then again perhaps you feel the need to have someone pray with you but maybe there's no one available at the moment. Maybe you want more than just a simple prayer...

Visit this site , enter your prayer (quite anonymously) and light a candle. Others look at the site and join you in your prayer. If you post an e-mail address, they'll let you know. Somehow, sometimes, it's just really comforting to know that others are lifting up your needs and desires...

Saturday, September 5, 2009

It's that time!

If you live in my part of the world, today you will be happy because you'll hear the song and some very famous words "It's football time in Tennessee!"

Go Vols!

Friday, September 4, 2009

An old favorite


116 years ago today, Beatrix Potter wrote her classic tale of Peter Rabbit. She sent it in a letter to the 5 year old son of her former governess. He was ill and she wanted to cheer him up and help him pass the time. The letter included illustrations so he could meet Flopsy, Mopsy, Cotton-tail and Peter face to face.

This classic tale may have had somewhat humble beginnings but since it's publication in 1902 it has been read by millions. Thanks, Miss Potter!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Our Value

Are you guilty of undervaluing another? Do you see them as being this or that and nothing more?

Jesus lived in Nazareth for almost 30 years. His neighbors saw him fix tables and chairs and carry out the responsibilities of a carpenter. He worked with his hands, lived with his parents and did not appear to be anything more than a man. Imagine their surprise when He went to Synagogue and spoke with authority the words from Isaiah. This was way outside the role the had for Him! Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God was not accepted in His own country as any more than a workman.

So I ask again, are you guilty of undervaluing another? We all are. We assign roles for one another and have a hard time seeing anything beyond...even those people that we know well can and will surprise us. We can all be blind to depth of another. Pray God to open our eyes!

Monday, August 31, 2009

Puff the Magic Dragon

Puff has always been one of my favorite songs. As a child I listened to it over and again and would imagine myself in the role of "little Jackie Paper". My favorite line is "Pirate ships would lower their flag when Puff roared out his name"!

As an adult I came to realize the song was about the loss of innocence we all must go through as we grow. We put away "childish things"...but I could never really put Puff away. My children heard it (oh, how many times) because they gave me a reason to play it again. The one thing that always bothered me was the ending, Jackie was growing up but Puff that mighty dragon, was left lonely in his cave. (Sappy, I know!).

My grandson was recently given a copy of the recording (hurray!) along with a beautifully illustrated book with all the words. And in the book, Puff was no longer lonely! Now while the people who prepared the book did not change the words, no, not one...they added one additional illustration. At the end of the book, on the very last page, you see a grown up Jackie Paper, looking from behind a rock as a young girl (obviously his daughter) introduces herself to Puff. And so he lives on...

The Bible tells us it is natural for us to grow and become adults with all the joys, fears, cares and worries that this entails but it also tells us that unless we come to God as little children...well you know the rest.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Help beat Breast Cancer


...and you can help! Visit the Breast Cancer Awareness site. If you go in once a day and click the button, you'll help fund free mammograms for those who cannot afford them. It's a great way to start each day!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Desire for the day...

Thomas Dekker wrote:

To awaken each morning with a smile brightening my face; to approach my work with a clean mind; to hold ever before me, the Ultimate Purpose toward which I am working; to meet men and women with laughter on my lips and love in my heart; to be gentle, kind and courteous through all the hours; to approach the night with weariness that ever woos sleep and the joy that comes from work well done---this is how I desire to waste wisely my days.

Excellent thought!

Monday, August 24, 2009

A Parent

Once you become a parent, it is something that defines you forever and yet the role we undertake is not a fixed one. As children grow and go through different phases, so do we.

Infants and toddlers require a different parent than a teenager. While the important aspects of who we are as people remain the same, the way we nurture and teach changes as the child grows. In the process, we find ourselves facing dilemma's from the other side of the fence. After all, until this point, your only experience with some issues have been as a child. Now you are the adult.

Although I am no expert on the job, it has been one of the most fulfilling things I've ever done. If I were asked to give a couple of tried and true axioms they would be...Never forget what it was like to be a child, Love unconditionally and be ready to grow.

Oh, and one other thing...this job is for life. They may grow up and move away but they will always need you.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Decoration

Tomorrow we meet at a little country church a few miles away from home for Decoration! This generally always happens on the 4th Saturday of August and is a uniquely Southern tradition (I think!). We gather around 11am, place flowers on the graves of our loved ones and then EAT!!!! Each family or group brings enough to feed their crew, it's placed on a long wooden table and once we hear the blessing, we chow down. Oh and just because you brought food for your group doesn't mean you can't wander around and help yourself to what others have brought...believe me, they'll do the same to yours!

This tradition doesn't usually happen at "Perpetual Care" cemetery's...it's mainly the little country ones with very little oversight and so it's kind of left up to the families to make sure that the grass is cut and the stones are clean.

The eating part may sound morbid to some but really, it's great! We visit with other families that we may not see but one time a year and after all, we'll be lying next to one another some day, why not share time while we're living and breathing? My husband and all his brothers and sisters grew up honoring this tradition, my children have done the same.

As each generation travels out into the great big world, on the 4th Saturday of August, no matter where they are, they know what's happening here and it's comforting. The family will gather and remember those who have gone on before and rest in the knowledge that someday we will all be reunited in God's great kingdom!

Now, when are they going to ask the blessing? I'm starved!

Dancing

I recently signed my 5 year old grandson up for Dancing lessons. The instructor is a lovely, patient woman who wants to share her gifts with young people. Grandson was reluctant to begin but once I reassured him he would not have to wear a tutu, he gave in. On our drive to the first class he tried several different ploys to get out of it but then about 5 minutes into the class he turned and smiled and gave me the thumbs up! He loves it!

During the lessons, the adults stay in the hallway so as to not disrupt the class. About 5 minutes before class is over, the door is opened and we can watch them go through the steps they have learned. What fun! Now I must say, despite how he may envision himself, my grandson is a boy...a big boy...and graceful is not a term that would apply to him in any stretch of the imagination. But there he is, amongst the others in the class (all girls!) watching the teacher and trying to leap and arabesque and turn and it's wonderful!

Society is not fully accepting of "boys" dancing. People tend to make assumptions about their character even though I daresay very few in this world could "dead" lift a ballerina over their heads with little to no effort! But I don't care what society thinks, and at this point in time, neither does he...he only knows that he is learning to move his body and has fun in the process.

It's sad to be stereotyped, but we all are to some degree or other. This is not what God wants, but it's what we do to those who are "different"...it makes us feel superior. It takes away our fear. It reinforces that we are "normal". Don't know who set the standard for normal but they got it all wrong. God gave each of us gifts and talents to share with the world and never said HOW we are to do this...well except with love. Next time you run across someone who does things a little differently, be open...listen and watch with love in your heart, you just might learn something. It may be a message straight from God. Oh, and if you see a boy "dancing", he loves applause!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Giving it all...

The post shown below comes from a young lady who just yesterday began her walk with God within the Passionate Nuns in Kentucky...what a beautiful way to tell this well known story and apply it to her own life. We should all apply it to ourselves...

Monday, August 17, 2009
I turn my face toward Jerusalem...
I come to the door of the house, carrying my jar of ointment, still wondering what possessed me to come. As I bribe the doorkeeper -- who knows me -- to let me in, I wonder what He will do when I touch His feet. If He should kick at me, it is only what I deserve, but if He does before I can anoint Him, what then? What then? No answer comes. And now I am already inside, burning under the hostile gaze of everyone in the room. Oh, God, it is a regular dinner party! They all know, they all accuse, they all wonder how I gained entrance. Even the maidservants stare.

But there He is, and he is not looking at me. He is attentive to a conversation which He has just begun with someone on the opposite side of the table -- almost as though He is deliberately distracting attention from me -- and others are joining in now, too. The oppressive, silent accusation is lifted, and I make my way to Him. As I remove His sandals, he doesn't flinch, and I begin to weep. He is letting me touch Him! He is letting me touch Him without fuss or ceremony; I didn't even have to ask! As my tears fall on His ankle accidentally, I realize how dirty these feet are. Whatever water I can, I use; my tears shall cleanse Him even as they cleanse my heart from so much worry, so much shame. All my memories of sin, I pour out of my eyes; all my wishes to begin again as a new woman, become tears to wash away the dust on these precious feet. But what shall I use to dry them? Even my clothes are tainted by my past life -- I cannot dirty these feet anew by using defiled veil or dress. But my hair is mine, God-given from before I fell away from him. Pulling back my veil, I loosen its combs and let its coils tumble down. Gently, I dry away my tears and try to calm the tremors in my stomach and hands. How can He be allowing this? He still has not even looked at me!

Finally I reach for my jar. Though this ointment cost me nearly all my ill-gotten fortune, it now pales in the face of what this wandering prophet has given me. I no longer desire any vestige of my sinfulness, any remnant of this life, and I break the neck of the jar on the stone floor, emptying its entire contents on the feet before me. The noise and smell which soon overpowers the room immediately bring attention back on me, and I hide my scarlet face by bending and kissing once more His now-pungent feet.

Then I hear his voice and feel a gently hand on my head. "Simon, I have something to say."

What ensued I can hardly admit even to myself. He described my actions beautifully, as if they were favors to Him instead of supplications, and then He turned to me, raised me up, and forgave me. Then, taking my veil and covering my head again, He said, "You shall no longer be a woman of the streets, but a woman of the Way. Come, follow me! You can stay with Simon Peter's family, and they will give you new clothes. With them, you will serve and follow me and my disciples."

A new life! A new path! I rejoiced even in my astounded state, and Simon Peter led me out through the streets to his mother. I am leaving everything behind! Everything, except those things stored in my heart...which, Simon points out, are all that He desires me to keep anyway.

Then I -- once again QM (her blog) -- went back and spoke with this Jesus who had just asked me to come and follow Him. I began to understand that the Lord is asking me to come now, and leave behind my life in the world to join Him as he travels to Jerusalem and to Calvary. My service will be to Him and to others on the Way for the rest of my life, to be on the inside of the circle of disciples and to stay there, not going out to minister to those outside.

"But why, Lord? Why should I not care for those others?"
"Because other apostles will do so -- and you must care for them."
"But they don't have the mind I have, nor the talents..."
"...nor the heart! And it is for that very reason that I ask you to come with me. For you need and desire to be formed in my own Heart, before you can use all these gifts to the utmost for my glory. You must learn to be one with me and my Way, so that when you do finally write and speak, it is with my words and my Heart, not your own. This is not a case of what is right or wrong, or a case of what is good or bad, but rather a case of you. And because it is you whom I call, I call you to this life."
"So, just to be perfectly clear, Lord, are you asking me to serve you as a contemplative nun?"
"I am."
"Then, the Passionist Nuns?"
"Then, the Passionist Nuns." He smiled.
I fell to my knees. "Lord, have mercy on me, a poor sinner."
-----------------------------------------------------------------
This has been the weblog of Quantitative Metathesis, who departs on the morning of August 19 to begin her aspirancy with the Passionist Nuns in Whitesville, KY. You may catch glimpses of her new adventures at their own blog, found here. Please pray for her, as she does for you!

May the Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ be ever in our hearts!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

War and Sand Art

I saw this first on The Anchoress website...

This video tells the story of life in the Ukraine during WWII. I read her piece and it made me search to verify the facts...This country was one of the most devastated In WWII. They lost almost 25% of their population and accounted for nearly 20% of ALL the people killed in the war.

While the young lady's talent is obvious, her message is moving and I believe it was meant to make us stop and think. We should never forget the cost of war!

Sand Art

Monday, August 17, 2009

Success

Matthew 19:21-22 is the story of Jesus telling the wealthy young man to sell his possessions and give the money to the poor.

The world today constantly tells us that success means having lots of money, lots of things and lots of influence over people. Here was this young man who had achieved all of that; yet Jesus told him that if he really wanted to be successful he needed to get rid of all he had. Jesus was telling him that success in life is not found in what we get; it is found in what we give away.

What do you value in life? Are they material possessions? Hobbies? Careers? Goals? What good are these things if they stand in the way of you committing yourself completely to Christ? Can any of these things really bring you happiness and joy? In a world that values things, we must learn to value faith in God above all things. Kind of goes against the grain of what we hear every day but, who are you going to believe?

Sunday, August 16, 2009

I'll Fly

I can't hear this song without thinking of my Nanny. Think of the mountains of NC, tent meeting, summer nights, guitars, banjos and fiddles. It may be different than what you're used to but it was a wonderful way to worship! I'll always remember feeling happy and safe and loved!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Bad Things

During a conversation the other day, someone asked the inevitable question..."Why does God allow bad things to happen?"

Do we really expect God to prevent car crashes or divert bullets or stop sickness or violence? Do we expect Him to make sure that no one is ever harmed or killed? While He does have the power to do so, is that what He promised?

The world is full of pain and suffering...the real world that is. Because He has given us the gift of "free will", our actions will always have consequences and many times they are bad consequences. Are we to expect only good? Can we learn and grow to be the people God asks us to be if we never experience sadness?

God doesn't cause bad things to happen but He does allow them. He works on us through tragedy, disappointment, tears and pain to bring redemption, reconciliation and peace. We must accept that because of man's actions, we live in a fallen world. God is and always will be in control but most of the time we won't really reach out to Him unless we are to the point of desperation. He will turn evil into good, darkness into light and mourning into joy but we must take the first step. Reach out your arms and cry "Abba, Father!"...He is there for you.

Youth of the future

Gavin has written a bit of fiction concerning youth in the year 2040...kind of got the wheels turning. Check out the story (it's short!)!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

St. Francis

WHERE THERE IS LOVE and wisdom, there is neither fear nor ignorance.
Where there is patience and humility, there is neither anger nor vexation.
Where there is poverty with joy, there is neither greed nor avarice.
Where there is peace and meditation, there is neither anxiety nor doubt.
Where the fear of the Lord stands guard, there the enemy finds no entry.
Where there is mercy and moderation, there is neither indulgence nor harshness.

- Francis of Assisi

Monday, August 10, 2009

Fun in the Sun



Spent Saturday white water rafting with the youth group! What a fun day! If you haven't had the chance to try it, you don't know what you're missing!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Symbols

95% of the time, I have on a necklace that contains a "nugget" my children gave me and a cross. Why do I wear them?

Obviously the nugget is important to me because of the source. My children took great pride in giving me a gift that was not "home made". While some of my most favorite gifts ever are the ones they fashioned out of paper, glue and crayons, this represented a better gift in their eyes.

We have all seen celebrities wearing crosses merely as a fashion statement. If you see me wearing mine, and you don't know me, is that what you would think? It's not huge and covered in jewels...it's plain gold and only about an inch long. The point is, I don't wear it for anyone but me. During the course of the day I may become discouraged, I can touch the cross and remember God's love. If I am fearful or uncomfortable, I can touch the cross and know God is with me. If I'm struggling with my faith, I can touch the cross and know that even though I may have doubts about God, He doesn't have them about me. If I am angry or resentful, I can touch the cross and put whatever is happening in a better perspective. If I'm feeling happy and thankful, I can touch the cross and remember the Giver of all gifts.

The bottom line is, I wear the cross as a sign of my faith. And not for the world, for myself. The symbol itself cannot show the world what it's like to live life as a gift from God, but my actions can.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Worth Trying...

I recently read an article by Kevin Thomas called "A life worth trying". In it he talks about his struggles with the future considering today's economic crisis. But as I read, something jumped out "...Our goal as Christians should be to find that place in the world where our greatest passion meets the worlds' deepest needs." He goes on to challenge the reader to choose to attempt greatness.

Somehow greatness is not a word I would associate with myself or my work with the young people. But that's okay, I don't have to be known as Amanda the Great! I can choose to ignore the culture of fear that surrounds me and take each new step in faith. I most certainly cannot accomplish God's work if I live a fearful life. Fear of failure, fear of embarrassment or any other of a number of fears will only block God's plans.

The very act of calling myself a Christian requires me to believe God's hand will guide, comfort and protect. My job is to keep myself in a place that I can hear and know His Will...oh, and have the courage to act on it. I know you've heard time and again the stories in the Bible of those God chose to lead His people. Stutterers, criminals, harlots and the like...they weren't picked because they were equipped to do the job, but because they were willing!

I am blessed to have the opportunity to do something I love and to spend time with people who inspire me. I will take the step and God will lead the way.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Gratitude



Thanks to Asbo Jesus for the cartoon as it illustrated my point exactly!

The foundation of gratitude is joy! If you are aware of the good things in your life and take the time to name them to yourself, the gray clouds of doubt and despair cannot hang around for long. While I know this might sound insolent to those with deep seated depression, for the majority of us, taking time to count your blessings naturally progresses to being thankful.

Unfortunately, in our human nature, most times it is too easy to overlook the good and concentrate on the negative. It's all wrapped up in the wanting...we're too busy desiring what we don't or can't have to remain joyful...think back to Adam and Eve, they had everything a human could desire up to and including face time with God and yet, they wanted something more...to be equal to God.

So once again it boils down to trusting God. Knowing deep in the marrow of your bones that He loves and provides for His own. Perhaps not in the way we envision, but in the way that is best for us. If we can get past our own nature and hold fast to this truth, gratitude and joy follow close behind. And if by chance you forget...read 1 Corinthians 13: 4

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Politics...

Although I write this blog mainly for "my" youth and members of our congregation and although I have said more than once I won't discuss politics here and although none of my youth are old enough to vote...I still teach them about the process. We are called to be "in" the world, we cannot NOT participate.

It is crucial that we understand history and we discuss it often. Not just Biblical history but world history. American history includes the discussion on their responsibility to participate in the process. Voting is a biggie in my book. If you don't vote, you don't have the right to speak out against what you see as wrong. It is also our responsibility to stay informed about the issues. This doesn't mean checking just one source and taking their word for it, it means research. We can't be experts in every issue but we can find out enough to form and defend our position.

At the same time, we don't just have a voice during the election season. We have a voice at all times. My family has often laughed and called me a closet radical. Radical, maybe, but definitely not in the closet. Why? Because I write letters and make telephone calls. I wouldn't be surprised if my Senator's and Representative don't have me on some kind of list! I'm afraid they're not the only ones who receive mail from me, I've been known to write elected officials who don't represent me. I am proud to say I have received a response from the office of everyone I have ever written...except one ex-President. Not sure why they didn't respond...I simply and respectfully stated a position...that was it. And while we're at it, I do believe that owe respect to the Office of President and our other elected officials. That doesn't mean I like or agree with them all, it does mean that our forefathers created this government and paid for it with their lives. That sacrifice is worth respect.

Before you get excited, I know that they do not personally read the mail. They have staff for that. I do believe the staff will report an overview of how those who contact them are feeling. And on a rare occasion, may show them correspondence. It is important to let them know what we think. Otherwise we leave them to their own devices and shouldn't be surprised if they act accordingly.

Being a citizen gives you certain rights, being a Christian gives you the responsibility to stand firm on your beliefs. We are not called to hide behind our God but to be His representative. So, get busy!