Friday, March 28, 2008

Horton Hears The Whos. Do You?

As promised, I will now share my thoughts about the “Horton Hears A Who” movie; which we seen on the day of its premiere on our way home from vacation. You might also want to read the Plugged In Online review by Focus on the Family as well:

I was pleasantly surprised by this movie. Sometimes, you don’t know what you are going to get in an animated film these days. After all, movies like “Shrek” and countless other animated films, tend to target the children as their audience even though they pollute it with sexual innuendo - which is totally uncalled for and inappropriate. So, I was hoping that this movie would steer clear from those types of things, and remarkably, it did. I found little to nothing offensive and I highly recommend this movie and encourage all to see and support this.

Of course, the main reason I am promoting this movie is because of the obvious pro-life message. Sadly, however, the fact that there are those of us that can see a pro-life message actually upset the late Dr. Seuss as well as his widow. Which is why there has been some controversy over how pro-lifers are using the movie to try and stir hearts about the evils of abortion and the duty we have to protect life because after all “a person’s a person, no matter how small.” In this article, I find an odd remark about the controversy which comes from Jody Berger of the Rocky Mountain Region of Planned Parenthood: “I think it's unfortunate. I mean, this is not about a movie, this is an extreme ballot initiative that goes too far. To use a mainstream movie to get their message off, I think just doesn't work."

That quote is so amusing considering that if the shoe was on the other foot, they wouldn’t be complaining. We have countless movies that glorify the liberal agenda, promote promiscuous and pre-marital sex, and countless other godless agendas and “it‘s perfectly normal“ - right Planned Parenthood?? But, the second we have a movie with a pure, wholesome, and respectful message about the sanctity of life, WE get accused of having an “agenda.” Agenda? Really? LIFE isn’t agenda… is LIFE!! Going AGAINST life (which all of us who are living and breathing are enjoying right now) is what the AGENDA is!!

So, anyways, as I watched the movie, I just had a flood of emotions. While there were moments of laughter and comedy, I found myself unable to really enjoy that aspect because I was so caught up in the sense of urgency to protect the Whos from all that threatened them. It was just gut-wrenching and emotional for me, and I couldn’t help but cry (yes, I am a total sap!). I watched as Horton desperately tried to do all he could to protect their innocent lives. All the while, the opposition was trying to stop him because they didn’t believe that there could be life on that little “speck.” The kangaroo summed up the attitude of abortion culture brilliantly when she ignorantly and bombastically touted that "if you can't see, hear or feel something, it doesn't exist!" Really? Is that so? Well, you can’t actually see, hear, or feel a lot of things. So, there must be a LOT in this world that doesn’t exist according to that philosophy!! Shall we apply that kind of logic to the periodic table of elements or the light spectrum? After all, I would venture to say that most of us can’t see, hear, or feel invisible light or elements. Therefore, they don’t exist, right? ;) No, of course not!

So, with this kind of wrong thinking as their guide, the animals of the jungle blindly followed the instructions of the kangaroo and did her bidding. The Whos even had trouble believing that anything bigger than them existed until confronted with the reality that they were in danger. All their hopes rested with Horton; the only one that could hear them and fight for them. They did their best to make all the noise they could in order to make themselves heard and FINALLY, the “Yopp” of the mayor’s son broke through the atmosphere and gave them the voice that they needed.

We need every voice possible fighting for life!! What if we are only one voice away from breaking through? Are you the “yopp” we need? Is your voice in the mix? Will you speak for the unborn and protect the innocent?

There are so many things that you can do to help - some are just little things (but the little adds up to a LOT when we are all doing it!). One of them being the monthly call for life campaign that I am involved with (the next one is a week from today). We also have pro-life t-shirt day coming up on April 29th; which I mentioned in a blog earlier this week (in fact, we got our t-shirts today!! Have you got yours?). You can also sign this petition to ask the government to stop giving YOUR TAX DOLLARS to Planned Parenthood. There are countless ways in which you can help….just GET INVOLVED!!!

Maybe if we all started being more like Horton and less like the kangaroo, we would finally see abortion come to an end!! I pray that God will change the hearts of other “kangaroos” - like the one in the movie.

Here are a few video links where you can watch more about this story and what it means for the pro-life movement. Here is a video featuring Lou Engle. It’s an older video in which he talks about the impact that they are anticipating the movie to have on peoples’ hearts. Combine that with the other recent pro-life themed movies like “Bella” and “Juno” and we have reason to hope that we are making a dent in the culture of death. Also, here is an older animated version of “Horton Hears A Who.” And, here is the latest American Life League Video report which fittingly enough, talks about “personhood.” That’s something Gianna Jessen could tell you about. As many of you know, she is an abortion survivor (and the person we named our daughter after). And finally, once again, here is the link to the newly uploaded video of my kids laughing hysterically. Everyone who has seen it thus far just loves it!! You can’t help but smile and laugh too! It’s a reminder to me of just how precious they are and how beautiful life is!! I can’t imagine not having them in this world!!

May God bless you as we continue to fight the good fight!!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

My Friend's Amazing Story!!

In my blog about the final sermon in the "Rethink Jesus" series, the fact that we all have a "Jesus lives" story was mentioned. All of us who have been saved have one...or even several!! So, I would like to share with you a very beautiful and amazing "Jesus lives" story. It comes from a good friend of ours, Rocky Myrtle. He is the husband of my good friend Myra and when I read his testimony in the prayer room at church, I was just like "wow!" So, I asked him if he would permit me to share it with all of you. So, here it is!! I pray it will bless your heart as much as it blessed mine!! It's so captivating!! Once you start reading, you won't be able to stop!! I know it looks long, but trust me, every word is worth reading!! Here is his his own words:

My name is Rocky Myrtle and I just turned 60. I had lived in Kansas all my life. I moved to Bluffton in December of 2007 with my wife Myra who grew up in Bluffton. This is my testimony of God’s amazing grace in my life.

Christmas Day 2003

I was five years away from retiring from the railroad where I had worked since I was 21 years old. I had four life insurance policies, a good 401 K and money in the bank. I had a nice house with a swimming pool in a nice neighborhood, a new truck, a Goldwing motorcycle and a snowmobile. Everything was paid off. I was 55 at the time. I had worked my whole life to get to this point.

I drove to my daughter’s house and had breakfast and opened presents with her family and children. They had to go to his parent’s house to open presents when we were done, and I found myself sitting back in my living room by eleven o’clock. I had mailed my son’s presents to his family in Wyoming the week before.

This day was different that the last 33 Christmas mornings. I had everything I had hoped for and more in the way of material things. But there was no Christmas tree, no presents, no kids or grandkids. My wife of 33 years had walked out a year ago and we were in the final stage of an ugly divorce.

I remember thinking how easy it would be to just cross the yellow center line on the highway into the path of a semi-truck and end it all when I went back to work on Monday. I hadn’t been to church since I was ten years old, but I looked up and thought, “Help me.”

Three days after Christmas I was invited to church. I said no. There was nothing there for me. I had no desire to go to church or be around those kinds of people. My life was a wreck waiting to happen, but I knew I didn’t need that.

The week wore on and things were getting worse as it went. By Saturday I called and asked if the invitation to church was still good. I was told to meet them in the lobby of the church Sunday morning.

The church was 32 miles away and the whole drive something in me kept saying why are you doing this—turn around—go back home. When I pulled into the church parking lot the feeling was almost screaming these thoughts in my head. I walked into the church and the person was nowhere to be seen. I turned to leave and this lady greeter asked if I was Rocky. I said yes and they said the person was making some copies and would be right back.

When church started people were singing and it went on for 35 minutes. I was in the last row and people in front of me were doing strange things like raising hands and stuff. That voice in my head said these people are crazy. The last time I was at church the minister would preach for awhile and then they would sing a song from the Hymn book and he’d go back to preaching again. This went on until the service was over.

Church finally ended and the hour and a half had seemed like a week. On the way out some people asked if we wanted to go eat pizza, so needing lunch anyway we agreed. There were about a dozen people at the long table from the church. A big man named Jerry was sitting across from me and he asked me what brought me to church today. I didn’t know what to say and said, “They just saw this old stray dog and drug him in.” That was the end of our conversation.

Not wanting to go back home I agreed to rent a video and watch it in the afternoon. By the time the movie was over they said you know they have an evening service and asked if I wanted to attend. That voice in my head was shouting no. I didn’t want to go, but I also didn’t want to go home and have those four walls close in on me either. I agreed to go.

The evening service was different. There were only about 75 people there and it was in the cafeteria part of the church. Six to seven people sat at each round table. I picked the farthest table away—the one closest to the door. If I’d been any closer I’d have been sitting in the parking lot.

The man who asked me what brought me to church at lunch was doing the preaching. The evening wore on and on the same as the morning service—I couldn’t tell you a word from either service that day. That voice was saying why are we here wasting all this time.

Jerry started walking or weaving his way through and around the tables towards the back of the cafeteria. I didn’t think anything about it until he stopped right in front of me. I felt all those eyes on me. Jerry is 6’ 5” and he looked down at me and said, “Son, God has been talking to me all night, and He said you wouldn’t have the courage to come forward to give your life to God if I asked.” I remember thinking two things at that moment. First I was much older that Jerry and he was calling me son, and that voice was saying walk out of here—your only steps from the door. You don’t know how bad I wanted to listen to that voice, but I was more embarrassed to walk out than to just let Jerry go on. I said okay. Jerry took my hand and started in.

My mind was racing at this point and I can’t remember word for word what he had me repeat, but it went something like this. He asked if I believed Jesus died on the cross for our sins and rose on the third day. I said yes. He asked if I was a sinner, and I said I was. He asked if I wanted to repent and be forgiven of my sins, I said yes. The last thing I remember Jerry saying was that I was now a new creature, and welcome to the family. That voice in my head was going nuts. Now there was also this physical pressure in my chest. Whatever this feeling was wanted out of this place, and so did I.

When we left I was mad. I told the person who invited me to church this night was a setup. What happened had been planned out ahead of time. In a calm voice I was told, “Rocky, we watched the video all afternoon and there were no phone calls. We were together the whole day. I had no idea you would go to the evening service. If Jerry said God was talking to him, he wasn’t lying.”

I thought about that the whole drive back home, and they were right. One thing the voice and I agreed with—we weren’t going back. The next week went on and that pressure in my chest didn’t go away. I felt like my body was in this fight with itself on the inside. Something was different, but I had no idea what was wrong. By Wednesday I was thinking about church, but the voice extinguished the thought as quick as a heart beat.
Sunday morning I found myself in the truck driving to church. That voice and pressure was worse than ever. Those same crazy people greeted me as I entered the church shaking hands with me and some wanted to hug me. The voice didn’t want to do any of this—it just wanted to be left alone. One woman told me about a ten-day mission down in Mexico. Two or three people were trying to give me books to read. Last Sunday night I had went home and tried to open the bible I received on my tenth birthday and the zipper was stuck, because it had been so long since it had been opened. The last time I tried to read the bible I got to the flood and that was the end of it. I was bored.

Another week went by and again on Sunday morning, and I found myself on the way to church. That voice and pressure never went away—it only got stronger. The same lady said something about Mexico, but this time she told me I’d need to get a passport to go with them. I knew she was surely nuts.

After church I was told about a group called Alpha that meet on Wednesday nights at 6:30. They were saying I needed to come. It was for new believers and people who didn’t know Jesus yet. The voice was about to say no when they explained a meal was served before the meeting started. I remember thinking they had me going to church on Sunday and now they were pushing a Wednesday night thing on me, but a home cooked meal sure sounded good. I said I’d think about it.

On Wednesday night I found myself eating at a table with 17 strangers. Alpha was watching a video and then talking after the video. This speaker on the video was kind of a cool guy. His name was Nicky Gumble. The meal was good, too.

The next few weeks were much the same. Sundays was church—the Mexico lady seemed to wait for me to hit me up every Sunday. Wednesday nights I had a home cooked meal and listened to the video. I found myself bonding with this Nicky dude in some strange way. An older couple led the group after the video. I, or the voice, was argumentative with them. They would say things about the Trinity and the Virgin Mary. This three in one thing and a virgin having a baby—I was having none of it. On the fifth week they were talking about “the son of David.” Now they had said that phrase before, but this time the voice blurted out, “Who is this son of David? The only David I remember from Sunday school was the little guy who killed the giant.” The lady probably felt like kicking me out of Alpha by this time, but her answer was, “One and the same, Rocky.” Now the other 17 people in the group knew I didn’t have a clue about anything about the bible.

The next Sunday I was told they were going to baptize some people on a Sunday in March and wanted to know if I wanted to attend the six classes to be baptized also. I told them to quit pressuring me about all this church stuff. I’d avoided the Mexico lady all morning, but she cornered me leaving the church. She informed that I’d need my birth certificate for the passport to go with them to Mexico.

The weeks went on and nothing changed. My body was fighting on the inside. The Mexico lady was like a pit bull that wouldn’t let go. Wednesdays I ate good and listened to this cool guy, Nicky.

After Jerry had cornered me that night at the round table, they gave me a little pocket bible of the New Testament. I had thrown it on the dash of my work truck and it had lain there since that night.

As I stated in the beginning, I worked for the railroad. My job was to patrol the tracks from Newton, Kansas to St. John, which was 70 miles of track. I had one of those trucks you see going down the rails. It was a Wednesday and the dispatcher had put me in the siding to let a train get by me before he’d let me go farther. He told me it was going to be about a 30 minute wait in the siding. I picked up that pocket-sized bible off the dash for the first time since that night at the round table. I opened it and started reading where my eyes landed. It was Luke 3:21. I read that one verse and my work truck start shaking on the track. I looked in the rearview mirror for the train. There was no train. I rolled down the window. Just for a few seconds, as I had read that verse, the wind blew so hard it shook the truck. I read the next verse.

It was like God had waited all this time for me to settle down and pick up the bible. The voice had kept telling me I wasn’t saved. Surely if I had been saved that first Sunday night God would have showed me a lighting storm with loud thunder, or heard His voice, or at least let me see a few angles. But all I got was this voice in my head shouting orders and internal fighting going on in my body.

I called the minister right there as I sat on the track waiting on the train and told him what had happened. I told him, like he’d never read the bible himself, how Jesus was baptized in those two verses and the heavens opened up. God was happy and a Holy Sprit came down like a dove. I asked if I could get baptized? He said it was this Sunday and I hadn’t attended one class, but he agreed to baptize me.

When I showed up that Sunday there were 13 teenagers and one 55-year-old man getting baptized. I didn’t know it, but you were expected to give a little talk also. The teenagers had their speeches written down. I quickly scribbled a few things on a 3*5 note card. The minister asked who wanted to go first—I said I’d go last.

Talking in front of people was going to be a nightmare. One by one the teenagers were baptized. They all had their families there, and they would get up and clap and cheer for each teen. The closer it got to my turn the more depressed I got—there was no one there for me. My family had been torn apart from the divorce.

Then there was no one left but me. My feet touched the water. I had a death grip on the 3*5 card. By the time I was waist deep a lot of people were standing and cheering. All this time I had felt so worthless and that voice kept reminding me of it. It had me convinced I was past the point of no return—God didn’t want me.

I looked out over those standing people—the same crazy people I saw that first Sunday. I was overwhelmed. I just stood there for the longest time. It was hard to breath. My eyes clouded over. I saw faces in the crowd. Jerry was smiling. Alpha people clapped. A tear ran down the Mexico lady’s cheek. Everything on my 3*5 card went out the window at that moment. Words starting pouring out--but it wasn’t me—something from inside was doing the talking. The speech ran on about how much easier those 13 teenagers life was going to be getting baptized now instead of waiting until they were 55 years old.

A short time after the baptism I had this dream. I was in a small rowboat. I was rowing as hard as I could, but I wasn’t getting anywhere. There was a chain shacked around my ankle and it was over the side of the rowboat attached to the anchor.
I knew the anchor was dragging on the bottom. I knew if I was to go forward I needed to pull up the anchor. I pulled it up as I have done my whole life. The anchor was covered with the murky mud from the pond.

I had struggled with three major things my whole life and was never able to break free from their hold. I had even tried professional help two different times. I was able to stop the addictions for short periods of time, but after about a three-month period they would creep back into my life again.

I knew these things were my bondage as the anchor held me back in the dream. I looked up the word bondage in my bible. It pointed me to a verse in 2 Timothy 2:26 that read--and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.

Reading that verse was like God was showing me the answer. These anchors were my snares. God was showing me a way to break this cycle.
That voice in my head and that battle in my body was Satan fighting what was now inside me. God was telling me to unlock the devil’s shackle around my ankle. God had given me the key. God did what I never had been able to do on my own—His key unlocked the devil’s shackle and threw it overboard.

From that day my life has changed. Satan had me for 55 years. My amazing grace started as I sat in my living room on that lonely Christmas morning thinking about ending the pain I felt. All it took was two silent words when I looked up and thought, “Help me.”

I went through Alpha four times, twice as a student, once as the leader, and the last time training the next leader. I couldn’t put the bible down from that day. I carried an old paperback bible in the work truck and was able to read it from beginning to end all in a year while waiting on trains. Later that same year I went to Mexico for ten days. It was like God had talked to the Mexico lady just like He had talked to Jerry that first night telling her I was going on the mission trip with them.

Grandma's Grand Legacy

As you all know, my great-grandmother passed away a few days ago. These things are never easy - even when you are prepared. Sometimes, it’s still hard to try and view life as “normal” and that things will go on because your life kind of “stops” for a time. Therefore, I am doing my best to cope by trying to keep living life. It’s all too easy to get dragged down by thoughts of death when someone close to you passes away. But, instead of thoughts of death, I would rather think of thoughts of life - of my life, her life, the lives around me, and the life that Jesus brings. Therefore, this blog will be about celebrating life; beginning with Grandma’s.

As promised, this is my sentimental and “mushy” blog about Grandma. Everyone needs to know just who she was, what she meant to this world (and to me) and why God wanted her here so long. Although it is evident to all of us why God gave her such a long life, it was never very evident to her. Her daughter, Gloria (my Mom’s Mom), even told me that even in her forties, she was already telling her and her sister what things of hers that she wanted them to have. After all, my great-grandmother was born in 1911, and she didn‘t anticipate a long life-span because it just wasn‘t very common until now. Many times, I asked her if she ever imagined she would experience and see so much in her lifetime. I mean, WOW!! Think of all that she has seen! To get to experience the historical and amazing events, changes, and milestones of the 20th century - and into the next - WOW!! Can you imagine?! She would wince and groan when thinking about how she lived into the 21st century and said it was just “too long.”

Aside from all the remarkable things that have happened in the world in her lifetime, her life was nothing short of remarkable as well. I remember how she told me about marrying grandpa. I believe she said she was only sixteen!! LOL They ran off and got married and she said they were a little afraid of what they would come home to. LOL (I believe she said she feared her brother’s rage!). But, unlike most marriages today, theirs was a lasting one and truly was until “death do us part.” Forgive me, but I do not know the exact number of years that they were married. I believe it was over sixty years; until he passed away (I believe I was in second grade at the time). And, in the span of their lives together, they had three children: my Grandma (Gloria), my Aunt (Marlene), and my Uncle (Dennie). Plus, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and most recently three great-great-grandchildren (two of which are my children). ;) WHAT A LEGACY!!

I don’t know how well I will do at writing any kind of biography, but I will just tell you what I know. I know that Grandma was always a great mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother (and great-great-grandmother!!). She was also very hard-working and labored hard at GE for many years. But, more importantly than that, was the hard work she put into her family because she sure has a great one. She was beloved by everyone. She was known for her sweetness, her cute little chuckle, and also for her stubbornness and feistiness. He he. She was always such an inspiration to me because she didn’t let anything get her down!! Even when she was riding around on her three wheel bike a few years ago and fell off and hit her head, she didn’t let that deter her. She kept on doing what she wanted to do; regardless of the gasps of the family and concerns that she was trying to do too much as she aged. Gosh, I remember that she got a helmet for her birthday that year - so she wouldn’t have an incident like that again (it even had “go, granny, go“ written on it lol). But, sweet and stubborn little Grandma (when I asked her if she wore her helmet) said that she wasn’t going to wear that because it would mess up her hair. LOL Man, you just gotta love grandma!! She just kept on living life no matter what it threw at her! No matter how many times she fell down - literally or metaphorically - she always got up and kept going. She was always determined to be independent and able bodied. At ninety-six years old, only the last couple years of her life were spent being totally dependent on others. That’s really something isn’t it?

So, why did God have her here so long? Why was it such a big mystery to her? It was no mystery to me or anyone else!! We all loved her so much!! She was a joy to be around and her determination, endurance, and everything that she was is a lasting inspiration to us all! We are all so very blessed to have known her. Wow, who would have thought that not only would she and her grandchildren get to know and be with her, but so would her great-grandchildren; and even GREAT-GREAT!! As one of the “greats” I can tell you that I have always been particularly blessed by her. She is probably where I get some (if not all) of my stubborn and strong-willed spirit from!! Though, I don’t know if I could tell you which of us is more so. LOL I wonder if, when I get to be her age, I’ll be as strong and determined to endure and live life while all the while having such a sweet, peaceful, and gentle spirit. Her life is amazing to me and I hope that the way people speak about her could one day be the way people speak about me. Doesn’t everyone want to be thought of as that “sweet lady” or “great guy” that everyone adores? To KNOW that you have that much of an impact and that your life left an imprint on this world is the greatest treasure; and why we are put here in the first place. We are MEANT to leave our mark and make a difference!!

These are the things I think about as I endure through these days following her departure from earth and into heaven. I think about how we all got to be just as determined, enduring, and strong like she always was. We all got to keep living life! Sometimes, I even think about her being in heaven looking at us and saying, “oh, don’t you worry about me!” Grandma always worried about being a bother - though she never was. She didn’t ever want anyone to “make a fuss” as my Mom so often told me. ;) Ok, sorry Grandma, but I got to make a LITTLE fuss over you!! I’m just as stubborn as you are and I’m going to write about you and tell the world how wonderful you are - so there!! LOL

I would now like to share a few moments with you that cheered me up in the last few days. The first being another picture of a life being well-lived. I have a video clip of my friend, Brittany, who was awarded the local golden arts award. She goes to my church and I performed with her (as well as her father Joseph) in the Christmas Eve drama. Wow, talk about talent! AND, she has a dynamite faith and sweet spirit as well! I’m grateful to know her and that she will also be one to leave a grand legacy as she accomplishes much in her life!!

The second person I would like to mention is Haley Chaney. Some of you will likely remember me requesting prayer for her and posting a couple blogs about her. If you haven’t been getting regular updates through signing up through her care page, then I’ll tell you that the latest update is nothing short of phenomenal. In fact, I see a lot of my grandma in her. LOL As I read through her updates yesterday, I couldn’t help but be reminded of grandma as I read about her determination, stubbornness, and endurance. Haley had more than just a fall or bump on the head like my grandma got every so often. Haley got a pretty bad head injury to her brain. Things looked really bad, but she made it through and then progressed rapidly in only a month’s time!! Her Mom had written in the update that an ER nurse that happened to see them not too long ago had tears in her eyes because she said that the fact that Haley was alive and doing as well as she was is just a miracle!! Glory be to God!!

Ok, I know that this is an insanely long blog, but bear with me for a few more comments. These have to do with my son, Casey. For those of you that don’t know, Casey was named after my great-grandmother’s husband who went by the name of Casey. So, I think my son was especially meaningful and precious to grandma (or so I have been told). They definitely had a special bond. I can’t even begin to tell you of the countless times that he has shown her love or affection without even being prompted to do so! Even in the last few visits with her, he has displayed such amazing, pure, and unconditional love for her. It was like witnessing a perfect example of Christ’s perfect love right in front of my very eyes as the pureness of my little child (who is now five years old today!) blessed the hearts of all who seen and heard of his heart for grandma. Casey’s blue eyes always had this look in them; like he was looking right into grandma’s heart and knew just what she wanted/needed. He would look at her with the sincerest look of love and tenderness in his eyes and then crawl up on the arm of the recliner and sit there. He would lean up against her, give her kisses, and even fall asleep sometimes. In those moments, I could see such radiant joy on grandma’s face; even if she didn’t speak it out loud. Sometimes, she would just smile; and give her trademark giggle. I would watch as their hearts seem to do all the talking. No words were spoken; just the unspoken emotion and serene looks on their faces said it all. It was just like one of my friends always talks about; it was “skeletal thoughts.” Meaning, it’s when you have things in your mind that you want to say or communicate, but they can’t be put into words. They are just this “skeletal” framework of thoughts and feelings that you have that words and actions just cannot convey. “Skeletal thoughts” are just moments of “being” and just conveying your heart - no words, no nothing…..just being, gazing, and existing. Yet, all the while, everything that you could possibly want to say is communicated without having to utter a sound or even make a movement.

It’s this picture perfect image of “being” and pure love that lingers in my mind the most; the thought that I see and hold onto whenever I think of her. For some reason, it just makes me think of Jesus talking about the little children coming to Him, because sometimes (out of concern for grandma and that maybe Casey would jar her or not be gentle enough) I would ask her if he was bothering her. I always asked, but I always got the same answer. She always grinned from ear to ear and said “no” and that he was fine right where he was. She wouldn’t have let go of those moments for anything and neither would Casey. Those moments were theirs, and even the concerns of a paranoid Mommy were invalid because in those carefree moments of bliss, nothing else mattered.

So, in addition to wanting to live a life like hers, I also want to live a life like Casey’s. I want to be humble like a child; always loving others unconditionally and seeing their innermost needs. I also want to be sweet and fun-natured - like he was today. Casey doesn’t realize, yet, that grandma is gone. I don’t even know if he will understand when it’s time to say good-bye (which will be next week on Wed./Thurs. for those of you wanting to know - I’ll give you more details as I get them). Anyways, for Casey, life is still good. He and Gianna were laughing it up today and it made me smile and laugh as well. I really needed that. Sure, it’s ok to be sad and miss her, but in moments like this today, God showed me that life is still beautiful and meant to be a joyous thing. I can still smile and laugh and that’s what grandma wants for all of us anyways. I can imagine her laughing at Casey as he cracked up today. In fact, I have a video clip of it that I just uploaded to You Tube. I hope it makes you smile! I know she would have been “tickled” to see it!!

Ok, well, I think I got all of my “mushies” out. ;) Sorry this is so long everyone. I don’t blame you if you skimmed through this (or skipped it entirely). LOL Anyways, I love my grandma and I’m glad I got to share more about her with everyone today. God bless all of you!!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

National Pro-Life T-Shirt Day: April 29, 2008

I just wanted to let everyone know that the sixth annual pro-life t-shirt day is coming up!! It’s April 29, 2008. Go to the national pro-life t-shirt day website to order your t-shirt and sign the pledge to participate. The shirt is only $6.50 plush s&h (WOW!! GREAT DEAL and affordable for everyone!!). Mitch and I have already ordered ours!! Make sure you order yours by April 14, 2008 to ensure you get the shirt in time!! Of course, if you don’t want to order a shirt, you can always wear another pro-life t-shirt that you have in your closet to help promote that day (I have a ton of them in my own closet!! LOL).

So, PLEASE visit the site!! View and order the shirt, pledge to participate, spread the word, and stand for LIFE!!!! Also, watch this You Tube video promotion of pro-life t-shirt day.

Keep being a voice everyone!!! Let’s keep standing up and speaking out for those who can’t speak for themselves. Just like in “Horton Hears A Who”…. “a person’s a person, no matter how small.” Oh, in case you didn‘t know, the late Dr. Seuss, (and his wife) abhor the fact that that phrase is used by the pro-life movement - and have forbid them to do so. Gee, how touching!! Instead of protecting children who could be future little readers of his books, he would rather kill them off and give money to Planned Parenthood. How sad!!! Oh, and that further reminds me….I will be composing and posting my review of the “Horton Hears A Who” movie as soon as I can!! God bless you all!!

Rethink Jesus: Part 6

Sunday was part six of the “Rethink Jesus” series (the final installment). It was an especially good service. Of course, being that it was Easter Sunday, you come to expect that. It might also be because I, and two others, performed a skit. It was really exciting; and the first drama since the Christmas Eve play! Speaking of which, I hope to get the program I need so that I can upload it to You Tube soon (as well as the skit too).

I really enjoyed performing and using my talents for the Lord!! Dave and Joseph (who are two very talented actors - and just wonderful to work with!) played two disciples. I played Mary Magdalene. The scene was more modern day, though. Joseph was sitting on a stump fishing and Dave came in to ask him what was up. Joseph was down because Jesus had “died” and Dave tried to cheer him up to no avail. They then just talked and expressed their sadness as they tried to cope and ponder moving forward in their lives. Then, I came in all happy and chipper (which isn’t much of a stretch from my own self. LOL Larry, the director, said that it was “type casting.” Ha ha!). Anyways, I tried to talk to the guys and they wondered why I was so happy. I told them the good news - that Jesus is alive - and that I couldn’t believe that they hadn’t heard! They doubted and thought I was being blasphemous. So, I told them to go ahead and fish if they wanted to, but I wasn’t going to waste any more of my time. And, as I left, Dave called me “arrogant” and a “loudmouth” (ha ha) and said that the idea that Jesus could be alive was “preposterous.” Joseph got up to leave and told Dave he was going to see the “preposterous.” I just LOVE that part!!

That is where Chad picked up from. He talked about the “preposterous” fact of Jesus being alive. Of course, is it any wonder that it was hard for the disciples to believe? I mean, it’s not every day that someone comes back from the dead (though, they had witnessed it when Jesus raised Lazarus). They knew it was possible; they had witnessed it. Yet, even then, they had doubts!! So, to squelch the doubts, Jesus ate some fish; to show them that he wasn’t a “ghost” or a “spirit” and that it was He. (Luke 24:42-43)

We all need that sometimes don’t we? We want to see Jesus “eat a little fish” so that we can be sure about something. It’s not wrong to need some proof or confirmation sometimes. If Jesus had to eat a little fish for His own disciples to know and believe who was right in front of them, He can and will do that for you.

That brings things to the next point of the sermon where Chad talks about our “Jesus lives” stories. Everyone who has been born again has one; and they are all unique and have the ability to help others get to their own “Jesus lives” experience when we share ours. So, what’s your story? What kind of fish did Jesus have to eat in order for you to experience and believe Him and surrender your heart? Personal testimonies, often times, are the greatest tools in drawing a person to Christ. It’s not endless proving, arguing, debating, and convincing that will win someone over. Been there; done that. Chad is right when he explained that it’s not always about “the Bible says…”. Hammering scripture into a non-believer won’t always win them over; especially if they don’t understand. The thing that most people DO understand, though, is real life experiences - something that they can relate/connect with. It’s about showing them about who Jesus IS; not just “Jesus was” as pertains to how He is described in the Bible. Jesus isn’t supposed to just be stuck in His stories or back in “Bible times.” Jesus is here now - just like He was then. He’s not here walking the Earth in physical form, but He is alive in us. He doesn’t go to the physical temple to teach, but He lives in OUR TEMPLES and works in us and through us. Within our hearts, we carry the presence of God and that is what fuels us to carry out Jesus’ “great commission” to preach the gospel to the world and share our “Jesus lives” stories. We don’t have to be physical eye-witnesses to all that He did when He was on the Earth. We didn’t have to be there at the cross, tomb, or watching the sky as He ascended to heaven. Our witness to who He was, is, and ever will be is what Jesus does for us in our lives every day! The Holy Spirit testifies with us that He is alive and that His word is true because Jesus Christ still works miracles, changes hearts, and transforms lives!! I know, because He changed mine!! He’s with me ALWAYS - just as He PROMISES - and I see Him working in my life, and others lives, every day!!

Chad talked about amazing stories and events that helped shape his “Jesus lives” story. When the audio gets uploaded on the church website, I strongly recommend that you hear it because they are some amazing personal stories!! I doubt that I could retell them as well as he can. They are HIS stories and experiences, after all. Trust me, though, you would REALLY enjoy them!! They are amazing and inspiring!

All I can really tell you is about are my own “Jesus lives” stories as I write these blogs for all to see. I have probably hundreds of stories and examples that I could share about how Jesus lives and that He’s real because of what He’s done for me and others in my life. One of those instances being the recent passing of my great-grandmother. You know, I could place myself in the shoes of those disciples. In fact, I have had a lot of moments where I have been down, depressed, and sad. Then, I remember the “Mary attitude” of “HE’S ALIVE”. Therefore, life isn’t misery and hope isn’t dead! The fact that HE’S ALIVE means that SHE’S ALIVE TOO!! Because He lives, WE LIVE!!!

Now THAT truly is some good news that everyone needs to hear!! It’s good news that I am reminded of in the moments where I feel like I am not strong enough to endure - whether it’s this, or anything else that comes in my life. But, because HE LIVES, I endure! Because He lives, I have stories to tell!! Because He lives, I have life, joy, and the promise of eternity in heaven (and of seeing my Great-Grandmother and other family and friends again! Well, the ones who knew Christ in their earthly lives anyways). All of this sustains me and gives me something to keep living for!! It also helps me to cope with the struggles and rough moments I have. This is why I keep blogging and sharing. Not only does it help others, but it helps myself as well. God uses the very gifts He blessed me with to bless me back!!

I will close for now, but if you are reading this and thinking about your own “Jesus lives” story, please….remember to share it with the world!! Your testament to the fact that “Jesus lives” can and will bless someone - you may never even know the impact you have!! So…….TELL IT!! God bless you all!!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Grandma Is With Jesus

God’s timing is perfect. That is what everyone always says; and what I have always believed - because it‘s TRUE! He perfectly orchestrates everything - even if things appear less than perfect.

So is the case tonight. A few hours ago, I was notified that my Grandma has gone to meet Jesus. We have all been expecting and preparing for this, but still…the news does kind of “hit you.” I sat in shock for a few moments and didn’t react. Then, I got up and went to the bathroom to cry for a few minutes. Then, I just spent some time alone; to think, process, and pray.

I will have more to say at a later date. Knowing me, and the way I “process” I will likely end up writing something mushy and meaningful….later. But, for right now, I will just tell you about my last few moments with her and what it means to me….

My great-grandmother has been in the nursing home for about a year. She has had a lot of ups and downs but had always made it through. However, she was really tired. This cold that she has had for a while really made it hard for her to breathe. So, it’s understandable that she didn’t want to fight so hard anymore. All of the family decided to let her know how much we loved and cared for her and that we understood her willingness to be with Jesus. Yesterday, when I called her, I told her I was going to come see her. She said ok.

When I arrived, my cousins were there and preparing to leave. With tears in their eyes, my cousin, Van, told her that if she were to go home to tell his Dad, daughter, Brett (my Uncle) and everyone that we loved them and that we would all be together someday. Thinking about those words bring tears of both sadness and joy to my heart because while “parting is such sweet sorrow” there is joy in knowing that for those of us who have Jesus in our hearts, there is eternal life and we will all be together forever, with Jesus, someday.

So, trying to be strong, I sat beside my great-grandmother and held her hand for a while. She said she didn’t want to talk or see anyone anymore, but I stayed for a while. She closed her eyes and didn’t say much. I prayed in my heart as I held her hand. I tried to talk to her a little bit. Then, my cousin called. She didn’t want to talk, so I just held the phone to her ear and watched her open her eyes for a bit until she closed them again. At the very least, I think most everyone got to say good-bye and convey their love to her.

I had asked Grandma if she wanted to see my husband or kids one more time. She declined. I asked her if she wanted me to go and she said she didn’t care - though I know that she does and always has loved me and all of us. I gave her a kiss and told her I loved her. I walked to the door, turned back one more time to look at her and to see if she would look back. She didn’t. I took in the moment and knew that it would probably be the last time I saw her. At the very least, I had peace that I would see her again and that she was going to be with Jesus soon!! I wished I could too - though I know that it is her time, not mine. I know that I will be with my Jesus after all I have accomplished for Him is through. I will live for Him and live a life of purpose and fulfill my destiny. I can only hope that I will live a full and long life such as hers; a life so rich, not with material wealth but true treasure. A life rich and abundant with happy memories shared with a loving family and so much to be thankful for!! Her life commemorates a grand legacy. She will be missed, but she does live on; in our hearts, lives, and in heaven with Jesus.

Like I said about God’s timing, it really is perfect. Of course, a death never seems like good-timing, but when thinking about the picture of life, you see it differently. My Grandma has Christ, so she has life. I can’t imagine how joyous she must be now that she is at home in heaven!! And, to go to heaven the day before we remember and celebrate Christ’s resurrection - what timing indeed!! Thank you, Jesus, for new life!!

Thank you all for your prayers. Pray now for the strength and health of our family. Many will be traveling home to Indiana soon. Pray for safety as well. Thank you for remembering us!!

Friday, March 21, 2008

I May Be Gone A While. Please Pray!

Dear Friends,

I just received word that my 96 year old great-grandmother is probably in her last days - or even moments. My husband and I are going to go see her tonight. Hopefully, it won't be too late. I called her, at least, a while ago. She can barely breathe or talk. She said she didn't want to live anymore and told me good-bye. I told her I would come over tonight. I hope that I can see her one more time. I seen her Tuesday, but my kids were acting up and I couldn't stay long.

Pray that I will be strong. I don't know what to think, say, or do. I have never been around someone in this condition before. I don't know how to feel or react.

Also, please pray for my family. My Mom and Step-Father will be coming up from South Carolina so that he can preach the funeral when it's time. Right now, they are both under the weather. Please, pray for their health and that they can get better soon.

My Grandparents from Arizona will also be coming up soon. They aren't feeling well either. And, my Grandma's sister is in Florida trying to help my Uncle recooperate from the surgeries and illnesses he has had since going down there this winter. I just don't know how they will all be able to make it home while they are feeling this way. Please pray for healing for everyone and that God would give us all endurance and strength!! I appreciate it!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Vacation Blog (And Pictures Too!)

Well, I am finally going to blog about my vacation now. I will try to speak briefly about everything - but we did a LOT so this might be a little long. But, anyways, it was a very fun and eventful vacation!!

We left on the 7th and it was quite a day (which I will blog about separately later). The Lord was really watching over us and He got us to Gatlinburg safely (at like 2 a.m.!). Then, the following morning, we pretty much rested up and then did some shopping around the area.
Sunday, Mitch wanted to go to the Elvis Museum. It was pretty interesting. And, I know that there are a lot of you who are big Elvis fans. So, I took lots of pictures of the things we saw - including some rather interesting souvenirs in the gift shop. LOL The one thing that I just had to get was some Elvis sunglasses (which you will see me wearing in the photo album - if you decide to view the pictures).

That same day, we went to one of our favorite places to eat: Fuddruckers. We love the funny name and the REALLY good food! It’s a “build your own burger” kind of place - in case you have never heard of it. Then, after we ate, we went to Gatlinburg to shop around and to “Cooter’s Place” (The Dukes of Hazzard Museum) like we did last year. I took lots of pictures of that - for all you Dukes fans. ;) So, feel free to check out those pictures if you want.

On Monday, we went swimming at the indoor water park at the place we were staying. The kids really liked it - though the water was a little colder than we had hoped it would be for an indoor park. I took some pictures of it. It was pretty neat!

Next, we went to The Dinosaur Walk Museum. Casey had seen the big dinosaur skeleton outside the museum as we drove by. That’s all he talked about. So, we decided to go there so he could see the dinosaur models and everything. There wasn’t much to it, but Casey really enjoyed it - and I took lots of pictures for him. Though, I really would prefer to take him to a creation based dinosaur museum (like Dinosaur Adventure Land in Florida - we would love to go there sometime!).

Finally, we went to the first of the three shows that we planned on seeing. The first show being the Black Bear Jamboree. When you buy tickets for that show, and The Miracle Theater, you get The Comedy Barn show for free (they are all owned by the same company - which is a family oriented and a Christian based entertainment company). So, with that being said, you would think that there would be no worries about the entertainment, right? Well, you would be right - generally. It was clean, fun, and enjoyable…..all except Black Bear Jamboree. I was very disappointed in it because I found it extremely difficult to enjoy the show considering that almost EVERY costume worn by the women were very clingy and showed excessive (and I mean EXCESSIVE!!) cleavage!! I’m not kidding!! It was pretty bad; and also VERY sad!! That’s NOT what I expected at all and that certainly isn’t the image that was advertised in their brochures and video clips etc. In all their promotional materials, everyone looked wholesome and fully clothed. So, I was distracted, repulsed, and embarrassed by what we saw at the dinner theater and I made sure to say so on the comment card. If I had known that I would be so disappointed by the show, I wouldn’t have spent any money in the gift shop (or on the souvenir photo) that we purchased prior to the show. Therefore, I don’t recommend this show to anyone; unless they reevaluate their witness and priorities and clean up their show!! Coming from a Christian entertainment company, they really should know better!! It’s sad to see them singing some good songs in choir robes in one segment; but then, sexing it up in the next one!! ICK!!

Tuesday was a lot better - well, after lunch that is. We ate at a rather disappointing pizza/arcade place called Mr. Gatti’s. We WANTED to go to Pizza Planet, but during their “slow season” they don’t bother operating the food part of their facility. So, we left there and went to the other place - which was rather substandard. But, the rest of the day was more enjoyable. We went to the little Christmas shops and other neat places to look around before going to The Comedy Barn. We have been to The Comedy Barn before and we really enjoyed it. So, we were looking forward to the laughs and entertainment once again. It was a barrel of laughs; especially prior to the show even starting. That was because there was a cute little boy who decided to stand on the stage steps and ham it up with his cute little dances to the pre-show music. Everyone was laughing and applauding. Then, Gianna (not to be outdone) decided that she would go diva-style as well. LOL She got up and did her own thing on the other side of the stage. Then, she made her way over to the little boy and showed him how it was done. LOL She looked like she was scolding him and showing him how he was supposed to dance properly. She stomped her foot, as if showing him a dance move, and the both of them were just making friends and having a good time together. Then, I took video of them hugging as they made their way off the stage (which I have uploaded to You Tube if you would like to watch!). I also have pictures as well.

So, Tuesday ended up being a pretty good day. Wednesday was pretty good too. We went to the Knoxville Zoo (as we did last year) . Only this time, the weather was nice and not incredibly hot like it was last year. Also, I didn’t have strep-throat like I did the year before; so we all had a more enjoyable time. (And, I took lots of pictures of that as well!!). Then, after that, we went to The Miracle Theater. It was a good presentation; though I do have my objections to that one as well. For one, the man playing the part of Satan just wasn’t evil enough. Ok, I know that’s a bit of a strange complaint, but it’s true. He just wasn’t very menacing or convincing. He didn’t seem the least bit threatening, scary, or believable. But, aside from that, there were also things about the play that bothered me. Of course, it’s hard to condense the Gospels down effectively and touch on everything in Jesus’ life, but I think they could have done better. They also had instances in which some of the characters were speaking lines that weren’t attributed to them in God’s word. For example, when the woman anointed Jesus and Judas complained, Jesus was the one to tell him that they would always have the poor, but they wouldn’t always have Him [Jesus] (Matthew 26:11, Mark 14:7, John 12:8). But, in the play, the woman was the one to say it. There were several instances like that in which things were omitted or changed; but I guess the movie (or play) is always different than the actual “book.” ;) Though, the play was still pretty good. As far as a recommendation goes, I think I’m pretty neutral. I wouldn’t tell someone not to see it, but I wouldn’t necessarily encourage it 100% because of some of the inaccuracies. Still, it does have the ability to be thought provoking and life-changing - especially to those who have no real knowledge of Jesus as all. So, for that purpose, I think it is still good.

One thing that I particularly took away from The Miracle performance was the friendships that Jesus had with his disciples. That part really seemed brought out to me and I saw things in new ways in regards to that. For example, Jesus knew and loved all his disciples. He knew their hearts and knew before He even chose them to be His closest friends that Judas would betray him, Peter would deny him, and that they would desert him. Yet, He still chose them. And, even though he did nothing to deserve their disloyalty, they still did the things they did. So, it just got me to thinking about how no matter who you are, everyone has conflicts. It also showed me that Jesus made friends with people even when He knew they wouldn’t always be good friends to Him. That doesn’t mean that He’s stupid or picked “bad friends.” But, they all had a purpose in His ministry; and for the sake of prophecy as well. Everything that happened had a purpose and just like He still does today, God uses “imperfect people“ to accomplish His “perfect will.” That’s just how I see things in my own life as well. Sometimes, you have conflicts with people. Sometimes, you even make friends with those who will eventually betray and leave you - whether you know it or not. It happens. It happens to us and it happened to Jesus. That doesn’t mean that we are stupid for being friends with someone or that they are bad people. All of it is for a purpose. No matter who I have known or been friends with in my life, it has all had a purpose. Some friends are there for a season, and some for a lifetime. Regardless, you learn something from everyone you encounter - that is, if you are open and receptive enough to learn in the first place. I, for one, can say that I have learned a LOT about people, friendships, etc. in all my short years of living on this Earth. LOL And, I know I will have much more to learn in the years to come!!

Speaking of friends, that brings me to the last segment of my vacation - which was meeting my best friend Terra. Thankfully, we were able to meet, because I believe Satan worked very hard to prevent it from happening!! Originally, she was supposed to come to Gatlinburg to stay with us for a few days - but that didn’t work out. Then, we were supposed to meet half-way and that almost didn’t work because she had to work. But, we decided to meet in Chattanooga after she got off of her shift. THAT almost didn’t happen either because right before we left, Casey broke out in a rash. We took him to the Pigeon Forge Medical Clinic (the same one that I went to when I got treated for strep-throat last year). The doctor said that it was either an allergy or bacteria/viral infection. He gave Casey a shot and then we had to get prescriptions for an anti-biotic and get some liquid steroid medication and some Zyrtec. (*Quick update on this* Casey finished the medication and I took him to his pediatrician a few days ago. She said that we will likely never know where that breakout came from or what caused it. He is fine now and had no other symptoms other than that rash. She gave me a prescription for an emergency shot/pen to inject him with in case it ever happens again and he has trouble breathing - which he had never had. Hopefully, this will never happen again. I just thank God he’s ok!!). So, anyways, the doctor said Casey was ok and considering that his rash was the only symptom, he was fine to travel and do everything as normal. Casey wasn’t sick or anything, so we went ahead and decided to meet Terra as planned.

Since we all had a late start, us (as well as Terra and her grandmother) got to Chattanooga rather late. So, we didn’t have much time to visit. But, what time we did have was GREAT and I was able to give her the gift basket I made for her for her birthday (which is TODAY so……HAPPY BIRTHDAY TERRA!!!!!). We took some pictures, shared lots of laughs and hugs, then, reluctantly said good-bye. Hopefully, we will meet up again in the future (more than likely, Terra will be coming to n Indiana for a visit sometime soon!! Girl, I can’t wait for that!! Hee hee!). Oh, and on a side note, Gianna was the child we ended up having to worry about; as far as illness was concerned. (She threw up in the van before we left). But, other than that, everyone was fine and we had a nice visit. I’m glad we are all doing fine now.

So, after such a busy week, we were ready to come home. We stopped at a few places on the way back - including a movie theater in Lexington, Kentucky, so we could watch “Horton Hears A Who” (which I will be posting a review of as soon as I can!).

Since our return, we have been resting up and just trying to get back to “normal.” LOL I’m glad to be back and to be blogging again as well!! As I mentioned before, I have lots of things that I want to blog about (including that weight-loss blog series I have been talking about - I haven’t forgotten about that one! Don’t worry!!) I hope to be blogging on that and other things that I have been meaning to blog that have been on my heart. So, there will be lots more to come soon!!

Thanks for reading!! I hope it didn’t bore you too much!! LOL I appreciate all of you and all of your feedback and your friendships!! God bless you all!!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Rethink Jesus: Part 5

In part five of the “Rethink Jesus” series, Chad talked about Jesus’ last moments on the cross; and, specifically, the pivotal moment that changed the world!

Chad described “the moment of triumph.” Of course, at the time, most didn’t even know that that was what it was. For most onlookers, their hope died along with Jesus. They didn’t realize that Jesus’ death was the very fulfillment of that hope that they had. When Jesus said that it was “finished,” that was the culmination to God’s plan. The ultimate sacrificial lamb had died for the sins of the world. The old covenant had been replaced by a new and better one. And, in Matthew 27:51, we see the grandeur of what it all means: “And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent;”

In order to understand the magnitude of what happened, I suggest that you listen to Chad describe it by listening to the sermon on our church’s website when it is made available. He beautifully described the temple, the holy of holies, and the curtain that separated God from man. One day a year, on the day of atonement, the high priest would go through the process of atoning for the sin of the people. Chad described the process about having the smokescreen so the priest wouldn’t see the ark of the covenant behind the curtain and about having the blood for the covering for the sin. He said that “one keeps you alive and the other makes you alive.”

So, only one day a year did only ONE PERSON have access to God. But, when Jesus accomplished the Father’s will, everything changed!! That veil was torn!! The way was made!! Through the blood of Christ, EVERYONE has access to God!! How amazing!! How beautiful!! HOW ABSOLUTELY WONDERFUL!! WHAT A GIFT!!!

Jesus made the way for us all to come to Him; to be close to Him. Do you understand what you’ve been given? Do you grasp what it means to have that veil torn in half? Can you fully take in what his outstretched arms on the cross means? Do you know the magnitude of power within even one drop of the blood of Christ? Those open arms; the blood that ran down; the torn veil; it all says “I love you. I accept you.” Do you know that? The holy of holies is now wide open!! YOU have access to God! YOU can meet with Him!! YOU can be close to Him!! YOU can enter in by the blood of Christ!! His blood; that cleansing blood of PURE LOVE that covers your sin and washes you clean makes you acceptable before God!!

Chad brought up the fact that many know and believe in Jesus as their Lord and Savior. But, they are still standing outside the curtain. Or, in another sermon I once heard, “the stitches of religion” try to sew the curtain back up. What’s keeping you from walking into the holy of holies? Chad says once you accept the fact that you’re accepted, you are able to move forward towards going in and getting close.

So, take a moment and think about it. Imagine Jesus on the cross; arms open wide and the blood flowing down. Imagine that His blood is covering every sin you have laid before His feet. Watch as the blood covers the blackness of it and then purifies it white as snow. Watch Him as He looks at you with his hands nailed to the cross and says, “I love you this much.” Take in the fact that you are accepted. Watch the curtain between you and Jesus be torn in half! Walk through the tear and into the presence of God!! Meet Jesus and sit as His feet!! Give Him your thanks and praise and draw near to Him!! Rejoice that you are a child of God and that you are loved and accepted!! It’s all for you!!

Ponder it all. Let it sink in. Then, read this beautiful love letter from God to you - his child!! (There is also video and audio on the site as well!) I got this letter from the prayer room at church last night (oh my goodness, the prayer room…!! What an experience!!! If you live around here, you just GOT TO GO TO THE PRAYER ROOM!!). You will LOVE this letter!! In the intro, it says: “The words you are about to experience are true. They will change your life if you let them. For they come from the heart of God. He loves you. And He is the Father you have been looking for all your life. This is His love letter to you…“

May you all be blessed!!! I pray that your hearts are as touched as mine was to hear this message today!!

Rethink Jesus: Part 4

While on vacation, I missed part four of the “Rethink Jesus” series. So, thankfully, I got to listen to it on our church’s website. Wow!! It was great!! There was a LOT of good stuff, and stories, that Chad talked about and I don’t know if I will be able to cover it all without getting too lengthy. Therefore, I highly recommend listening to this one!!

Chad first retouched on “religion” a little bit and about how religion is a way of connecting and binding to God. God’s commandments and laws (the old covenant) was the way provided for the people to connect and bind to Him. But, like humans so often do, they distort and pollute the purity of what God’s purpose is for what He has given. Soon, the law started becoming more and more about the rules, rituals, and the yokes of burdens that the religious officials would keep adding and piling up on the people. Chad talked about some of those things in the previous part in the series (feel free to listen to it for yourself because he explains it a lot better!). The foundational principle of loving God and loving others became secondary instead of primary because people became so consumed with keeping all the rules that started becoming attached to the religion.

At the last supper, Jesus totally blew things wide open when he said in John 14:6, “…I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” This is what he had said in response to Thomas saying “Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way?” (Jesus had just talked about going away to prepare a place for them). Chad said that though Thomas often gets a bad rap for “doubting” he said in some ways, we should be like him because he was always one to ask questions. Kind of like how you are sitting in class and the teacher asks if you understand; you really don’t, but you are afraid to question. You consider asking for clarification, but you hold back for one reason or another. Then, a “Thomas” asks the very question you were thinking of; the burning question that everyone was wanting to ask but didn’t. Then, the teacher goes on to explain and clarify. I remember times like that. One of my all-time favorite teachers always used to tell us to ask questions if we didn’t understand (though, many were petrified of asking him and of being made a fool of lol. Only the brave ones knew how and what to ask!). “Otherwise, I’ll assume you know everything,” he always said. If no one asked, he would say “aces.”

Well, since most of us aren’t always “aces” and do need some explanations, Jesus provides them when we ask; just like he did when Thomas asked. Though, even then, that was a hard answer for the disciples to take in because the “way” they always knew was the way they had always grown up with [the law]. Now, to say that HE [Jesus] was “the way” was a little mind-boggling. Jesus was showing them that HE was the one that had come to make and be the way; the new covenant.

John 14:6 is sometimes hard to digest because not all can understand or accept “one way.” A lot of times, we consider many other “ways”; including our “own way.” So, which “way” is correct? Chad said that he had a girl ask him that very question. She was preparing for college and of course, we all know how college can shake up your belief system. So, in preparation, she was hoping to discuss and solidify what it means to believe and about Jesus being “the way” and what made Him the only way and not some other person or religion. You might want to listen to how he talked about it in the sermon online, but I will try and sum it up. He said that he thinks he mishandled things and wishes he could do things over (been there done that!!). He said it all seemed a little like “deal or no deal.” Here he was presenting the one million dollar Jesus case. Then, there’s these other cases that maybe could be the ticket to the million. Which case do you pick? Which is the right one? Every religion claims they are right. How do you know which one is telling the truth when they all claim truth?

Chad says that he went too much down the path of “Christianity” rather than just the path of Jesus and who He is. He also related it to an example of how when he was going over his sermon, his daughter asked what he was preaching on and he had John 14:6 before him. She took a pencil that was on the table and underlined “no one” in the verse. Chad said it broke his heart because he knew that she got that from him. He said it should be more about underlining “truth and the life” rather than “no one.”

So, in rethinking what he could have done different, he talked about the focus being the “truth and the life.” What is truth and life? What has Jesus done in your life? What are your “God stories”? That is what is true! That is what gives life!! I remember learning about the importance of that at Acquire the Fire years ago. They asked us what we were going to tell people when they ask us how we know Jesus is real. The easy answer: “He changed my life!” It’s not solely about “evidence” and “proof” (though there is plenty!). The biggest proof is your testimony - or how Chad put it “God dancing in my bloodstream.” Like Acts 17:28 says: “For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.”

No other person or religion could ever do for me what Jesus has done for me!! Chad said to go and look at what the other “religions” offer compared to who Jesus is, what He’s done, and what He is doing (and will do!). In what other religion is there a God who not only loves you, but pursues you? Is there any other God who loves you, has sacrificed for you, and is coming back for you? This brilliant statement by Chad says it best: “He’s the only way because He’s the only one.”

John 14:6 is true; not only because Jesus said it, but because it’s real in every heart that believes it!! Chad shared countless God-stories to back that up and I have several of my own (some of which happened on my vacation - which I’ll be sure to blog about later!).

So, how is Jesus working in your life? Is He “dancing in your bloodstream”? Man, I love that phrase!! It makes me crave God even more!! I just want to be continually filled with His joy and His Holy Spirit - renewed, rejuvenated, and refreshed in Him each and every day with a new passion and zest for life…..because He is the one that fills it and makes my life what it is!! I know Jesus is real and that HE IS THE WAY - THE ONLY WAY - TRUTH AND LIFE!! He’s real because He is alive and living in me!! He gives me life, purpose, joy, and so much more!! He fills my heart and it bursts with gladness, thankfulness, and praise! He puts a smile on my face and spring into my steps!! I am who I am because of Christ and I couldn’t (and wouldn’t!) want to live without Him!!

Do you know what I know? Do you have what I have? If you don’t and you’re thinking “I gotta get me some of that!” well…….you can!! The same Jesus that died for me and did all that He did in my life can be your Jesus too!! If you want Him, you can have Him!! God made it all possible!! “The Way” is there; all you have to do is choose it and believe it!! Then, just you watch what happens next!! Jesus will change your life!! Hallelujah!!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

I'm Back! :)

Hey everyone!!

Well, I am back from vacation!! Did you miss me? LOL Well, I’m sure some of you did and some of you didn’t. Some of you might even be like, “oh, were you gone?” LOL

Anyways,…..yeah, I’m back and have a lot to blog about in regards to my vacation. I will get around to that fairly soon. But first, I will have to compose and post the sermon from church today (oh boy was it ever good!) plus, listen to the sermon I missed last Sunday and write a blog on that one too. Then, I will get around to blogging about vacation. I got a lot of good thoughts on my heart that I want to share!!

But, until then, I will just blog about a few things before I compose the sermon blogs and everything else…….

For one, I’d like to ask for your prayers. Casey broke out in a very bad rash the day before we left to come home. They had to give him a steroid shot and he’s also on zyrtec, antibiotics, and some liquid steroids. We don’t know what caused the rash for sure yet. The doctor we seen said it probably isn’t a food allergy since he didn’t eat anything he doesn’t normally eat. He said it likely either a bacterial/viral infection or some sort of outdoor allergy. It looks like it might be an outdoor thing because the stuff to control the histamine reaction has helped (praise God!). But, we should know more soon. We are going to call his pediatrician tomorrow and see what she wants to do about it all. They’ll probably do blood tests or something. I don’t know. So, just pray that they can figure out what’s going on. I took pictures of the breakout on his face. I will upload those pictures (as well as the rest of my vacation pictures and such) as soon as possible and provide picture links as soon as I can.

That’s the main thing I wanted to say at the moment. I have to work on the sermon blogs now. (Yes, Marie. I know you depend on them!! I’m gonna get crackin’ on it!! LOL). So, I will be posting blogs and uploading pictures and all that as soon as possible. Be patient with me as I get caught up and back into the swing of things. ;) I’m bombarded with lots of things to do at the moment - including memorizing a part for the last minute Easter play/skit at church. So, pray that we can get things together at our ONE practice this Thursday and that things will go well. It’s supposedly a short little skit and we don’t have that much to memorize and can add lib easily. Hopefully, I will be able to get video of that and upload it to You Tube (much like I promised with the Christmas Eve drama I was in - don’t worry…I haven’t forgotten about that!! I just need to get a program to help me with that before I upload it. Sorry that it’s taking so long!! I hope to get that done soon!).

So, as you can see, I have projects/blogs/etc. backed up. I haven’t forgotten about any of the things I said I was going to write, upload, etc. I WILL get it done. I ask for your patience, prayers, and understanding as I do so. It‘s only some of the many things that I have on my “to do“ list - and trying to balance, organize, and prioritize is still something that I struggle with. I‘m not superwoman - contrary to what some people think! LOL I’m not kidding, people!! I really don’t have it altogether!! Those of you that tell me that I do or think that I do so well with this or that, you have no idea how hard it is for me and how much is still yet undone!! I do my best, but that’s all I can do. I will make mistakes and I will have failures. But, true failure is not even trying (or doing nothing at all). In that regard, I have not failed because I am trying to do my best. I pray that Jesus will fill in the areas that I am weak and that he will give me the strength and endurance to accomplish His will and continue to use my gifts and talents for Him and to help others!! I truly love all of you and I continue to share/blog in the hopes that my talents and gifts will bless and enrich others’ lives. Forgive me when I fall short and don’t meet your expectations….though it‘s bound to happen at one time or another. I’ll keep trying my best!! God bless you all!!

Friday, March 7, 2008

Before I Leave Today...

Well, we are on our way to Tennessee today!! Please, pray for good health and safety as we travel. Also, pray that God will bless our time together and that even in the midst of fun and relaxation, God would do wondrous things in us and among us!! We may be taking a break from the every day things, but we aren’t taking a break from God!! I pray that no matter where I am or where I go, I can be a testament to His love and that people will see Him in me.

Just a few random things before I depart….

I would like to remind everyone that today is the monthly call for life. Please, take a few moments to participate!! Visit their website to see how to do so!! I already did it yesterday - since I will be on the road today.

Speaking of the call for life, I am thinking of one of my unspoken requests today. It resulted from the call for life campaign, and I would like to ask for your continued prayers for that request. Hopefully, I will be able to disclose what this request is sometime. The more you pray, the sooner we will see answers!! Thanks!!

On a side note, I almost forgot to blog about Dawn Eden’s appearance on the “Today” show. I can’t stand that show, but I watched it since she was on and she did a great job!! For those of you that don’t know, Dawn Eden is a friend of mine, and I had a guest post on her blog last year - pertaining to the call for life. She is the author of “The Thrill of the Chaste” and will soon have another book on the shelves to compliment that one. Check out her links, and also take some time to watch her You Tube videos. You’ll especially love the one I have on my myspace page. It’s a “chastity” song!! Keep up the good work Dawn!!

One final thing before I leave…….

Next weekend is our church’s 33 hours of prayer. Each hour is in honor of Jesus’ 33 years on Earth. Many of us have a one hour time slot to “keep watch” and pray. (I have my time set up for when I return next weekend). The theme in the prayer room is, “Amazing Grace: My Chains Are Gone.” So, in honor of that, I wrote a sonnet. God really let the words flow freely from me as I wrote it last night. I hope that it will bless someone. God bless you all and I will see you when I return!!

Total Surrender

Link by link I have made this chain.
Each link is a bondage I bear.
I could be free, if I would call upon His Name.
Yet, still, this chain I will continue to wear.
Day by day, I carry this heavy load.
My pride refuses to let go.
And so, I keep dragging this chain…as I walk life's road;
Though, it burdens me so.
I surrender, at last, when I can bear it no more.
The weight is lifted from me.
What kept me from doing this before?
Why was it that I just couldn't see?
Total surrender is what dissolved my chains; and allowed Jesus to heal my heart.
On your knees is the best place to be; and where your healing will get its start.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Rethink Jesus: Part 3

In part three of the “Rethink Jesus” series, Chad further opened our minds as he posed the question that Jesus posed to Peter in Matthew 16:15: “Who do you say I am?" We were then shown a video of people on the street giving their opinions of who they thought Jesus was and what they thought of Christians too. It was interesting to hear the many different answers.

How about you? Who is Jesus to you? Are you one of the many who thinks of the word “religion” when his name comes to mind? Chad talked about “religion” and what it meant back in Jesus‘ culture. He said that the Pharisees and Sadducees were the keepers of the law and that they were all about “religion” and “rules.” All of that made living one’s faith pretty tough because there was such a burdensome yoke on their shoulders. There were so many expectations and regulations set for them to obey. Even now, I think that’s how many people still view Jesus and Christianity today - because there are so many churches, doctrines, and “rules.”

However, that’s exactly what Jesus came to overcome. He came to sacrifice himself for our sins so that we could have eternal life and a relationship with Him. He came to set us free from the bondage of legalism and perfection; so we wouldn’t be bogged down with trying to “earn” our salvation by doing everything by the book. Yet, so many people don’t yet understand that we don’t have to “earn” what we have already been freely given - I even had a hard time with that for a while! However, the Lord worked on me, and once I really grabbed hold of the truth, I was delivered from legalism and perfectionism. It’s all about HIM and what HE DID FOR ME that saves me - not anything I can do to save myself. It‘s like what Chad was saying…if anyone could save themselves, we wouldn‘t need a SAVIOR!! ;)

Being a Christian isn’t about perfection and doing everything “right.” Jesus loves and accepts you just the way you are!! He just wants a RELATIONSHIP with you!! He doesn’t want our rituals and rules. The only “rule” He has is to love God with all our being and to love others as ourselves (Matthew 22:37-40). In a nutshell, “Love God; love others.” If you are living by that, the rest falls into place as you walk in that truth!

Jesus said in Matthew 11:30, “For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." When you are in Christ and accept His salvation, you are not under law; you are under GRACE!! You aren’t enslaved to the law and “rules.” If you are, then do what Chad suggested and “kill the Pharisee” within yourself. Believe me, it is the best thing you could ever do!! Living under the grace of God is true freedom; and indeed, a much lighter burden!!

So, if you think that Jesus is a “religion” think again!! Christianity is “not a religion, it’s a relationship.” It’s about Jesus Christ and following HIM; that is why we are CHRISTians. Don’t worry about rules and doctrine; just follow God!! That’s all you need to do!! Give Jesus a chance!! You won’t regret it!!

Rethink Jesus: Part 2

Last week, I was giving blood and didn’t get to hear the message that Kent preached. So, I went to our church website to listen to the newly added podcast in the series. As with all the messages, I encourage you to listen to them for yourself (especially ones like these that go into deep detail).

As I listened to the message online, I soon realized that I must have missed something interesting. I heard the worship team singing a song and then what seemed to be a conflict of sorts. Apparently, a bunch of people were onstage playing basketball while the band was trying to lead worship. How disrespectful and distracting it was to be disrupting what was supposed to be a time to worship God!

Kent used this very example to talk about the next portion of the “Rethink Jesus” series. He was talking about Jesus going into the temple and overturning tables. I know that sometimes, people get the wrong impression about this. Some even think that maybe Jesus was out of line. Was he? Well, let’s see…..Kent said that if one doesn’t understand why something is being done, one will often make the wrong conclusions about what IS being done. No kidding!! How often do we misinterpret things out of our own ignorance or failure to explore deeper? How often do we jump to conclusions and get the wrong idea about something? So often, we fail to give a person, or circumstance, a fair look and we just take from it what we want. We totally miss the point when we unintentionally (or in some cases, purposefully) fail to see the whole picture and the purpose behind what we see on the surface.

Such is the case with Jesus and the circumstances surrounding his actions in the temple. So many people don’t see the MOTIVE behind it all!! They just think, “Man, he lost his temper! How horrible!!” But, that’s not it at all!! And, as a matter of fact, anger isn’t a sin - particularly if it’s righteous anger (just like in the case with Jesus). Ephesians 4:26-27 says: “Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: Neither give place to the devil.” It’s ok to be angry; just watch your reaction. Emotions, including anger, are natural responses to situations that come up in our lives. It’s not a sin to have the emotions; it’s only sin if our emotions produce a bad fruit. That is why the verse warns us not to let the “sun go down” on it. If we don’t let go and move on from our anger quickly, it has a way of sticking with us and becoming a toxic poison that gives Satan the foothold that he wants. He takes that small window of opportunity and uses it to produce more anger, bad attitudes, pride, and all sorts of things - all because we chose to react badly and refused to let go of anger and forgive.

So, understandably, Jesus was rightfully angry about what was being done in God’s holy place of worship. The temple is supposed to be “a house of prayer.” However, the temple was being made into a “den of robbers.” (Mark 11:15-17). Because of all the buying and selling going on in God’s holy temple, people were prevented from going into the temple for the reasons it was built for - to honor and worship God. And, those that were buying and selling were taking advantage of and exploiting the poor. Those simply trying to celebrate the Passover were having a hard time affording the things they needed. And, ironically, all this was being done for “religious” reasons. All the buying and selling was being done in preparation for the Passover feast. And yet, the whole point of Passover was tainted, polluted, and exploited for financial gain. The meaning was becoming lost because it just started being all about the rituals, rules, and capital gain.

It all comes down to the things Kent mentioned: “relationship vs. rules….close vs. distance….love vs. power…..God’s Kingdom will be moved by love and not power.”
The bottom line is, God wants to have a relationship with you. He wants to be close to you. He wants a RELATIONSHIP with you!! God doesn’t want all the superficial rituals and rules of our “religion.” He doesn’t want us to have a shallow faith. He just wants to be with us!! He wants to live in OUR temple; a temple that houses His Holy Spirit. (1 Corinthians 3:16).

Speaking of us being the temple, Kent reminded us of 1 Corinthians 6:19 which says: “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?” Did you KNOW that? Do you KNOW that your body is a temple for God? Therefore, if you are in Christ and He is in you, shouldn’t you be taking care of the temple in which He dwells? Or, does Jesus need to overturn your tables within? Kent said Jesus had done that to him many times. And, I know he has done it to me. I have not always taken care of my “temple.” I have even hated my temple (and how offensive is that not to love the temple in which God dwells in!!). But, God overturned my tables. He showed me how to love myself the way that He loves me. I am a child of God created in His image and I need to love and respect myself. And, I also need to take care of myself - which is a BIG reason why I decided to lose weight. Those are just a couple of the many examples in which God overturned my tables and gave me a wake-up call to straighten up! I can’t thank Jesus enough for doing that because everything he does (even if it seems “harsh”) if we really look at His motives, it’s all out of LOVE!! The Lord disciplines those that He loves!! (Proverbs 3:12).

So, what’s on your tables in your temple? What do you need to humble yourself about? If you don’t do it, God will do it for you…..and believe me, you don’t want it to have to come to that!! Don’t hold onto your pride so long that Jesus has to really shake you up to wake you up!! But, He will if He has to because He LOVES YOU!!

The Bible says in Psalm 51:16-17: “For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.” In other words, humble your hearts and be broken before Him. Clean up your temple!! Submit your sacrifices to God - the sacrifice of your heart and not the rules and rituals that mean nothing. Truly give yourself up to him in humble surrender and repentance and He will restore you!!