Sunday, December 29, 2002

What's Wrong With Me?

Today I woke up and got ready for work as usual. I'm getting sick of going to work. Especially on Sunday. I haven't been to a worship service since November...before Thanksgiving. One of the not-so-cool things about retail.

I really need God now. I am so stressed about work. I am one of those worrier types. I never wanted to admit that, but I am. I guess the Brainbench test shows that as well. I know that I am not supposed to worry about tomorrow and that today has enough troubles of its own. I know that the lilies are clothed and birds are fed and I will be too. I want so bad to be successful at work though. I want to succeed. I want to be the best I can be!

Things are chaos. Many demands are being made of me. I can't deliver on them. Not all of them. Not all at once. I also worry about the future. My assistant is leaving. I don't have someone trained to take her place, although it is in process. I don't have the best staff right now and all my best employees are headed back to school. I am also upset at the demands the company is making of me. Some are totally ridiculous. The rebellious spirit in me just wants to not do the things that seem like busy work, but then the perfectionist within me hates that I don't have everything done and done to perfection. It's so draining on me. All of it.

Then, the worst part is I take it out on my framily. It's stupid. They don't do anything to me. They love me. I called and apologized to Katie today for being so "mean". I said things I didn't mean, with a "tone" I didn't intend. She is my best friend and I treated her so poorly simply because she called to give me an update on the people from church we socialize with. It's an awesome thing, and instead of sharing joy, I spoiled the moment by considering it something else to add to my to-do list. I'm so stupid at times. Anyway, I called Katie and she said "we always take it out on the ones we love. But the ones we love love us anyway." I love her!

My mom is so cool too. She "listens" to my worries/rants about work. She usually has some funny things to add and just comiserates with me. I appreciate our AOL IMs each night we get a chance to chat.

Tonight I should be praying. I should be using this peace and quiet while Katie and her kids are visiting her mom. What am I doing? I'm blogging. I'm reading blogs. I'm playing Sims. I want to long to be with my Father! I'm listening to some Big Daddy Weave and enjoying the moments of worship some of the music brings me to, but I want to need Him! I want to long to spend time with Him. Instead, I am choosing to do other things. What's wrong with me?

When I talked to Katie a few minutes ago she said "you are going to need Him a lot during the next few months...better work on your relationship." It's true, so why am I not using this time more efficiently? What's wrong with me?

I am in His Word daily. I just finished reading it cover to cover and I enjoyed it so much I plan to do it again in 2003, only chronologically this time. I have also been delving into some Christian Apologetics as well each night recently. I listen almost exclusively to Christian music and a lot of praise and worship. I say prayers. I pray. What I am not doing is those down and out, big-time all empowering prayers! The praying I want to do is the praying that comes from brokeness! The praying I want to do comes from the His Spirit! I used to pray that way....what's wrong with me?

Saturday, December 21, 2002

Am I a Good Employee?

Tonight I did something I never did before. I delivered food to the needy. My church did this. We broke up into groups of 3 or 4 people (or more) and drove to the person's house from an address we obtained from "Helping Hands" a local charity. We had 12 homes to deliver to. Each group delivered to 2 homes, although I got gyped and only got to deliver to 1 house.

We filled laundry baskets with food that would be used for Christmas dinner and other necessities like laundry detergent, laundry baskets, bibles, stuff like that. It was really cool to see all the stuff people brought to church to give to those in greater need. We were given the addresses and delivered the goods. We also invited the people we visited to come back to church for our Christmas party. Snacks, music, songs...that kind of stuff. Some people came back and we all fellowshipped together.

Our church believes in outreach ministry. We hope to be able to establish relationships with people in the community and minister to their needs. Their needs right now include the basics and also a need to be loved and respected.

The message today was all about that. I have not heard it yet, but I have a copy on Cd. I am looking forward to hearing it because it sounds like a message I need to hear. My roommate, Katie, said it was about how to treat the people we were going to be meeting tonight. People in need and people who may not look pretty, may smell bad, may not even have a ride back to the church. These people are probably people in their current situation because of decisions they made in life. It is not our business to determine how they ended up in need. It is not our business to determine if they deserve what we give. It is our business to give. To give love. Laundry baskets filled with food is one thing, love is another. These are people who may not know any other way of living. Jesus would have us build relationships and teach them how to live. "Give a man a fish...teach a man to fish..." you know, that kind of thing. Northbrook is all about helping those in need. Not just dropping food off, but about making connections. That is what Jesus taught us to do.

I often think about the woman at the well. How did Jesus treat her? He knew her sin. He told her he knew her sin. He told her Who He was and to "sin no more". How did he do this? He talked to her. He listened to her. He connected with her. He loved her. It really is simple. Why do we make it so hard?

What is so hard about loving other people? You know what the hard thing is, at least for me? I love myself. I do. I love myself. Not a healthy love...a prideful love. (Who is gonna need to listen to the message on CD, I'm getting ready to give one myself!) I have an amazing ability to look at another person and know something about them. I can know things like, "they are only in that predicament because of choices they made". I look at them and wonder sometimes...why should I help them? Why should I help that person who is probably going to turn around and continue in their lifestyle as if I never existed. Why should I lend money to them so they can foster their habit? Why should I? Why should I? 

I - I? 

See that? My questions always being with "I". There should be no "I". THAT'S WHERE THE PROBLEM IS! Jesus teaches us to love our our enemies. He didn't teach us to love ourselves!

God actually used the Jackson Sun this week to convict me of this poor attitude of mine. There was a front page article on a young couple who is desparate need of financial help. They are living together and have a newborn. The pregnancy was complicated, as was the delivery, and complications arose. Medical bills piled up. They have no way to pay. Their house had been robbed 3 times in as many months. This is a sad story.

What did I think when I read about this couple? First of all I noticed that I KNOW THESE PEOPLE!. The woman was a former employee of mine! I immediately judged the situation and determined that the only reason they were in their predicament was because they chose sex outside of marriage and still choose to live un-married. (I was angry too that this was published in the paper without an ounce of conviction...shacking up is totally acceptable now I guess!) and they had their apartment broken into. I remember her boyfriend...bad news. None of her "friends" seemed reputable and I'm sure there were shady things going on which explains why someone kept breaking in to their apartment...what? You think it's just random 3x burglaries? yep, I have the situation they aren't deserving of any help from me!

Then I had a know Sue, you are delivering food on Sunday to people just like them. It's true. Here I was going to deliver food to the needy and passing judgement that they don't deserve help. As my roommate says "I'm glad you're not God!". She's not kidding! Our duty to GOD is to help the poor and needy. It's a commandment from Him! He didn't say "Help the poor and needy only if you feel it warranted" He said "love your neighbor" and "give to the poor". That's all. That simple. He will do the judging. I am to do the loving and the giving. I am to serve Him. I am not to serve self. When I determine someone unworthy of receiving my gift, I am doing God's job. It is not easy...and God never said it would be, matter of fact He said quite the opposite. Somthing about "taking up your cross"?!

I am not totally compassionless. This I have shown before and continue to show in other ways. This pride problem and judgemental attitude is something I obviously need to work on. God is obviously working on it! Woooooohoooooooooooooo! ISN'T HE AWESOME! I'm very thankful that God is so patient with me. That's something else he is working on...patience!

So, am I a Good Employee? I am a workman approved by God, let me never be ashamed! I want to be a good employee for the Lord!

I Am a Good Employee

I am a good employee. I am not trying to brag, well...maybe a little. (Pray about my pride problem). Anyway, I am a good employee because I work very hard. I am self-motivated and want everything to be done perfect. I work well with others, and for others. I enjoy my work. I am always trying to find better ways to do things. I take pride in what I do.

Problem: It can never be perfect like I want it to be. Not everyone has a work ethic like me, so it drives me crazy that it can never get done as fast or as efficiently as I could do it. Nobody manages time as well as I do, no one prioritizes as efficiently either. I have learned this truth in my years as a supervisor so I have mellowed a bit, but it can still be frustrating. It's also frustrating that you can't fire people just because they aren't up to par, that you must document any and every little thing in order to get rid of them. I hate that...heck, after a few weeks on the job it is apparent that they aren't the right person for the job...what's the 90 day probation period for if you can't just say "Hey, I'm sorry, I just don't think it is working out. You are a nice person, I wish you well, but this job just isn't for you."

I also hate micro-management. This Christmas season has me wondering who is in charge? If I was hired to manage a store, why am I not allowed to run it? Corporate expects miracles this season because they increase the workload, then cut the hours. It's tough. I've really struggled as of late. I have actually left work with work still left to be done! I hate that! My desk is in disarray! I hate that! I keep looking forward to the re-organization period after the holidays, but with hours being cut so drastically, I don't see how I will ever be able to get my store into shape. I want it clean! I want it organized! I want it run efficiently, always providing top notch customer service! I want my hard work to show for something!

I am a good employee. I feel very used right now. I have given my all to my job, well, not all because God does come first and some other things rank before the job, but let's just say that when I am at work, I work like I'm working for the Lord! I don't expect the CEO to call me and say "hey, you are doing a great job! Here's a raise and a bonus to boot!", but I do want corporate to realize that they may possibly be demanding a bit too much from the field right now.

That's my rant for today. I love what I do for a living. I really do. I am energetic at work and love this time of year...all the's like a high. But, it's also very draining. I am tired.

Thursday, December 19, 2002

A Loan For Christmas?

Author: Katie

Is it unethical? Is it sacreligious? Is it unwise???? These are the things I asked myself when debating whether or not to attempt to take out a loan for Christmas. This loan would be one that I could pay back within a month after Christmas. I didn't see any harm in it at all. I never got the opportunity to see if I would even qualify because God provided otherwise as you have probably read in Sue's blog earlier. I called the bank and only talked to an answering machine. I called Dad, and he said I'd have to talk with Mom and she wasn't there. Then Sue called and said she would take one out and so goes the rest of the story.......

I don't believe it would have been unethical or unwise to take out the loan as long as I paid it off quickly. But I am a bit disturbed that I have gotten myself entangled in the worldly traditions of Christmas and I am part of the problem as to why Christ is left out of Christmas by so many. I have got to get my priorities in order. Anyhow, God tried to tell me that He would provide. I just didn't trust Him. And He lovingly taught me a lesson. And He was ever so loving how He taught me.

Anyhow, I don't think it is unethical or sacreligious to take out a loan for Christmas as long as it is reasonable and do-able. However, I do think it is unwise to trust in self instead of God. He is the Provider.

I am so thankful to Sue for giving the gift of self-sacrifice to me and my kids the past few years. Although I have been able to provide a portion of gifts for the kids, she has really contributed alot in making Christmas special. She is God's provision for my family in this time of need in our lives. She is the gift that keeps on giving. I can only pray that someday I can do for anybody (even and especially Sue) what she has done by caring for us....beyond financial giving.

The Santa Game

Author: Katie

Sometimes I just wish I had told my kids right from the start....Maybe I could have done that and saved myself years of frustration from trying to make a 'good Christmas' happen for my kids each year. I used to think a good Christmas was lots of presents brought by a jolly old fat man in a red suit. Now, I think a good Christmas would be one where Christ is celebrated by NOT exchanging gifts but by doing good deeds instead. But, try to explain that to a 10 and 12 year old and expect them to understand.

I love watching them open their presents on Christmas morning. I am so blessed to live in a prosperous country and have the opportunity to swap gifts with my kids during this time. I do try to keep their focus on the babe. I only wish I had done things a bit differently in the beginning. I wish I had told them from the start that Jesus is real and santa is a tradition. I remember the magic of Christmas when I had that expectation of Santa and the reindeer. I remember the magic that was lost when I learned that Santa is a legend. It's a fun story and a fun thing to do with kids. But, now that I'm older and wiser, I have learned that if I was never led to believe in Santa and the reindeer, then there wouldn't have been any magic to lose. Christmas would have always been special because of Jesus. That is real and I never have to worry about any lost magic. His magic is still alive and real but it isn't magic at all. It is miraculous! (Did I spell that right?)

Now, I'm stuck with a situation. My 10 year old STILL believes that a real santa comes and gives her presents on Christmas (at least that is the impresssion she gives me). But, she is beginning to have doubts. Last year, she asked me flat out to tell her if Santa existed or had I been lying to her all these years.

I still haven't answered her. I didn't want her to lose the magical feeling that comes with believing that Santa exists and I certainly didn't want to compile it with feelings of betrayal and resentment because she thinks I lied to her all these years. I didn't consider it a lie....I thought I was doing something good.....more like a game.......for fun. I never expected her to feel this way. I never did. I learned the truth but I still kept playing the game with my parents because of the fun in it. I still do! They know that I am aware of the truth and I know that they know but we pretend that we believe sometimes....just for fun. I never expected my daughter to feel cheated or lied to. I never did. I'm glad I had the experience. It was fun! My son still plays the game. I know he knows the reality but we still play around. He took it like I I expected both of my children to do. But, one of them has taught me a lesson. I really wish I had never started the game. Now, it's time for the game to end and it may end with a broken heart or two (because if Tiffany's heart breaks, mine will as well). What to do??

I have to be honest with my children. I'm not going to disappoint Tiffany a week before Christmas. I'll play the game for one more week. But this is the last time. I never thought my children would resent playing the Santa game. I never saw it as lying. I just saw it as fun. I saw it as a tradition... a way of adding to a creative imagination. Although I will tell Tiffany this, I will still feel like I just lied to her. I thought that she had realized that it was just a game. Maybe she did. Maybe she is just playing along.....waiting for me to confess the truth......wondering if I ever will. Maybe she is wondering how much longer I am going to lie to her. What a dilemma.

I don't think parents are evil for doing the Santa thing, but hopefully, somebody will read this and see the possible consequences. I tried to make an excuse for the lie about Santa and then there's a tooth fairy and the Easter Bunny........

I never thought I'd say this but, these things are all distractions from focusing on Christ...things that I have caused my children to have faith in. I never ever saw it as harmful. Now, I see it as a lie is a lie is a lie. I meant well by it. I may try to dress it up with things like tradition and legends, ways to grow the imagination, and fun games to play, but it's just a lie. Now I have the consequences. Nothing pleasant about that. I have to come clean for my kids, for myself, and most of all for my Savior.

I don't criticize anyone for having this type of fun with their kid. I know that some may think I am going way overboard with this. I once thought like that too. Now I face consequences. I do ask that anybody who reads this and hasn't had children yet.......think seriously about this impacted my child and how it could impact yours. Pray about it and make a decision based on answered prayer, not what I said, not based on the incident with my daughter, but just base it on the answer God gives to you.

To God be the glory forever and ever and ever........

Wednesday, December 18, 2002

Where's Christ in a Christmas Loan?

Yesterday Katie called me at work. She had decided to take out a loan in order to pay for Christmas for her kids. This whole idea upset me. I didn't think that a loan was wise stewardship of money for Christmas. I was waiting on a check that I get each December from a death benefit IRA/Retirement fund that my aunt established for me before her death. It hadn't come yet and we are getting down to the wire.

Part of my Christmas gift to Katie has been to help her buy for her kids each year.

I called the man who handles my portfolio and he told me he would see what he could do to speed up the process, but I didn't feel very hopeful that I'd have the extra $$ before Christmas. I told this to Katie and she was determined moreso to try for that loan. I was upset and said "WHERE'S THE CHRIST IN A LOAN FOR CHRISTMAS?" I said it with a raised voice with some frustration and anger in the tone. I just feel like it's not wise stewardship of money. Regardless, she didn't want her kids to go without Christmas. In her blog yesterday Katie was wondering why Christ isn't revered in Christmas anymore...I was thinking that she was becoming the subject of her blog now!

Then I thought about that blog of hers and about my attitude with her on the phone. I had to call her back to apologize and I said "I'm sorry, there was no Christ in my attitude!"

Katie couldn't get a loan. I can however, so I thought what's the harm, a couple hundred dollars today and I can pay it back next week when the check I'm waiting on comes in. I called the bank and had loan approval in 5 minutes!

Today I went to get the loan check. On the way home I got distracted and forgot to stop by the bank to deposit it into my account. We came home and in the front door was the original death benefit check I was waiting for! It had arrived today!

I was very pleased to have not stopped to deposit the loan check at the bank. Thankfully I was also able to retract the loan!

As usual it all worked out. Katie said " should have just waited on God" and I agreed. Today we thank Him for taking care of us once again even though we tried to jump ahead. He even thwarted the attempt! God ran interference! It would have been a different blog if I had managed to deposit the loan check!

Tuesday, December 17, 2002

Something to Ponder...

Author: Katie

What about Christians encouraging non-believers by accepting gifts and going to Christmas parties put together by those who don't believe? Would it be such a bad thing to lovingly decline because of the Reason for the season? So many tell us not to try to convert them. This would not be converting, or trying to convert. It would be taking a stand for the One we love. And who could send a message to the unbeliever who may willingly choose to celebrate Christ just because you took a stand for Him.

"You are my witnesses declares the Lord." Is 43:10.

To Celebrate or Not To Celebrate

Author: Katie

Yesterday my daughter came home from school telling me that she needed to have a gift bought for the gift exchange at her class Christmas party. Each year I struggle with the fact that so many people who are unbelievers, celebrate a Christian holiday. All year long I hear about how we can't pray and we can't talk about religion in school, leave God out of this and that because we are 'forcing' our beliefs on somebody who chooses not to believe. We are told that the Christmas tree should not be displayed here or there. In fact, this year, it has been said that somebody wanted to call the Christmas tree a holiday tree because it might be offensive to those who are not Christians! HELLO??????????????? What's wrong with this picture??????

A Christmas tree is called a Christmas tree because it is a tree decorated for the celebration of the holiday we call CHRISTMAS!!! It's not a Thanksgiving tree, or a fourth of July tree, or a New Years Day tree. So, why should it be called a holiday tree? It's a CHRISTMAS tree!!!

Why is Christmas called Christmas???? Christ....mas????

Christmas is a religious holiday celebrated by Christ...ians who are believers in ..........Christ! Imagine that! So, we set this time aside to celebrate the birth of our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ.

It's so sad to see how we can so easily get away from what we are doing and why. I am just as guilty as the next person when it comes to shopping and stressing. You should see how horribly I am still stressing over a very bad haircut I recieved just before the big Christmas party! (Christians, pray for me!) But even more, it saddens me that non-believers criticize this holiday and how it is celebrated. Non-believers choose NOT to follow Christ. It is non-believers who against everything and anything that brings glory to God. It is non-believers who condone the murdering of babies, it is non-believers who try to keep God out of schools. It is non-believers who try to silence those who proclaim Christ as their Savior and Lord. It is non-believers who banned prayer from schools. Yet, how many non-believers have Christmas trees? How many have Christmas dinners and swap gifts at Christmas time? How many people display manger scenes in their yard at Christmas while they take His name in vain on a regular basis?

What really got me started on this is the fact that my daughter shared with me that a child in her class, who believes that Christmas should not be celebrated, and does not celebrate it, who tries to convince my child that it is wrong to celebrate participating in the gift exchange for the Christmas party that she is going to participate in! Why? Because it's fun? Is this the reason that the non-believers in the world practice the tradition of Christmas? Is it because Santa Claus is so much fun? Is it because they love to get presents and have parties? Is it because of the lights and decorated "holiday" trees?

I remember before I was saved. I knew the baby Jesus was born and that's why Christmas is celebrated. But I didn't care about that. I just wanted lots of presents. I wanted that fellowship with my family (which excluded God). Yep, it's a time to eat, drink, and be merry! I remember my work Christmas parties........getting 'merry' at the bar and watching others do the same.........then bragging about it!!!!!!

I don't hold this against those who don't believe. I hold it against those of us who do. Why not send Christmas cards to those who we know are lost....and ask them...... Do you celebrate Jesus at Christmas? If not, then what ARE you celebrating? Make them think!

Christmas is a time to celebrate our Gift from God. We should celebrate it to bring glory to Him. I'm not saying that we shouldn't have a tree, or stop swapping gifts, I'm saying that we should do it in remembrance of Him. For those who don't believe, and choose not to accept Christ for Who He Is [Son of God, Prince of Peace, Emmanuel (which means God With Us), Savior of the World!] then maybe you should invent your own holiday and celebrate it the way you want. Have a holiday tree. Celebrate the fact that we have separation of church and state. If you want to worship Santa Claus and not Christ it is your freedom to do so. Celebrate pro -choice, and prayerless school systems. But declare your own day to celebrate and stop trying to change the way that Christians do.

Christmas is a time to celebrate Jesus' birth. Christmas is a time to rejoice because of the Reason. Christians should rejoice freely and openly! Proclaim the good news of the Babe who was born to die for our redemption! Okay so maybe He wasn't born on December 25th....but, He was born and it is worth celebrating.......all year round especially at Christmas.

Non-believers who choose to celebrate xmas should celebrate xmas in their own time and in their own way. Don't try to change what Christians do. It's not Christmas if Christ isn't glorified in it. It's just a celebration of...whatever. And for all believers.. pray for the unbelievers ........ that they will soon be able to join us as we............ CELEBRATE! It's CHRISTmas!

"Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you, He is Christ the Lord." Luke 2:11

"That's what Christmas is all about Charlie Brown."

Saturday, December 14, 2002

Joy to the World

Author: Katie

For some reason, this Christmas, I have heard this song in a different way than ever before. So many times we sing our familiar Christmas carols without really getting a grasp on the message that God may have for us through the words. I remember the first time I braved singing a Christmas solo at church. It was 'O Holy Night'. I was singing it at home and got so touched and spoken to that I decided to sing it for our church. This was many years ago. I'll never forget the moment. God spoke to me the entire time I was singing. I was moved to tears. I wasn't even paying attention to how I was singing. When it was over, apparantly God had used me to reach out and touch many. One special, unforgetable lady, asked me to sing it every year.

This year, God has done it to me again. It's not a big emotional thing, but He has caused me to ponder a verse in Joy to the World. That verse would be "He rules the world with truth and grace and makes the nations prove the glories of His righteousness and wonders of His love." I really don't know how to explain my ponderings about this verse but, just the phrase itself proves His majesty and that indeed He is the one in control and all authority belongs to Him. He does make the nations prove the glories of his righteousness and wonders of His love. Throughout history we have seen it. When a nation lives according to His will, that nation is blessed beyond words. But as a nation turns from Him, disaster is the consequence. Yet, His love and mercy always shines through it all. It all began in the garden of Eden. It has continued throughout history.

I have been reading through the Bible with Sue this year. One thing we keep saying is how redundant it is. God blesses, the people worship Him, then they forget His blessings and turn from Him. Next they begin to suffer the consequences of their poor choices to rely on themselves and other false Gods. God warns them of these consequences but they don't listen. Then at their lowest moment, they realize that they can not live without God. So they return to Him with repentant hearts and He blesses them beyond words once again. Then they drift away again and the cycle begins once more. It's history. We never learn do we? Even in my own personal life I find this pattern all to common. But one thing is for sure....In my times of rebellion, He makes me prove the glories of His righteousness and wonders of His love. You see, just like all of mankind throughout history, I have a tendency to rely on myself and this world when I should rely solely on God at all times and in all things. When I try to live outside His will, my life ends up in a mess. But, when I come back to Him, He blesses me beyond words. Sometimes He even blesses me in my rebellion by sending just the right person, or scripture, or verse in a song to draw me back to Him and to let me know that I do indeed need Him to have complete authority over my life.

The world in which we live is in such rebellion. But when disaster hits such as 911, we see massive amounts of people turning to God. They run out of ideas, they see that 'self' isn't enough. They turn to God. Sooner or later, every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. I'd rather it be sooner myself. What's so amazing about it all is His loving mercy and grace. He truly is loving, joyful, PATIENT, peaceful, kind, good and faithful. He forgives us seventy times seven.....just as He commands that we forgive others. Even in our rebellion, even in a world dominated by sin and unrighteousness........He rules the world with truth and grace, and makes the nations prove.........

And yet so many still deny that HE IS

This is my Christmas card to all of you. When you sing about the babe in a manger, may you become like a little child, full of awe and wonder at His majesty, completely dependent, trusting in Him alone to be the ruler of your life. May you hear a new Christmas message when you sing old familiar carols. My Christmas wish to you is for you to experience the glories of His righteousness and wonders of His love.

Let earth recieve her King
Let every heart prepare Him room

Merry Christmas!

What Makes a Good Church?

IreneQ listed what she feels makes for a good church, at least a church she would find to be healthy. She has shared in her blog all about her search for a church and it helps me realize how blessed I am to have found the church I now attend.

Irene finds these things important:

1. People with passion and hunger for God
2. Caring
3. Authenticity (willingness to be real)
4. Biblical teaching – goes without saying, I guess!
5. Avenues for service/likelihood of being trained & equipped for service
6. A culture that encourages & spurs spiritual growth
7. God comes first, not methods, not systems, not traditions

This describes my church. I have never been a part of anything like it and on Sunday I renewed my committment to it in writing as members must do every year at the Covenant Renewal Banquet. The Covenant helps to ensure that all members are of "one mind" and that our goals to follow Christ in whatever direction he leads together.

We do not have one pastor...we have a team called the PLT, the Pastoral Leadership Team. Each of them are accountable to each other and no one pastor makes all the decisions.

We have "family talk time" anytime there is a major decision to be made in the church regarding pastors, building, whatever. Our leaderships are top scholars in the fields of ethics, Christian studies, New Testament and Greek, and I never imagined being taught God's word through these intellectuals or any like them!

We have a FWF "First WEdnesday Fellowship" on the first Wednesday every month to share dinner, fellowship and invite community members. We are constantly encouraged to reach out to others. Next Sunday we are taking food baskets to the needy and then bringing them back to church for a "party" cocoa and snacks. Needy people don't just need food and that kind of stuff, they need to be respected and need to be loved.

During an offering recently (which we rarely do, we simply put a box at the back enterance/exit so as to not make anyone feel obligated to tithe) people were told to "give if you can give, take if you have need. It may be God's way of providing for you today." We try in every aspect of worship, giving, teaching, fellowship, accountability to do things by the Book. We all have hearts for God, so Irene...churches like this do exist!

I am not trying to brag on the people of my church or the church itself, I am bragging about how God uses Northbrook to glorify Himself and to advance His Kingdom. There are healthy, biblically functioning churches out there and God will lead you to them if you seek Him. SEEK HIM! It is amazing what our Father will do with a bunch of humble hearts with eyes focused on Him!

Friday, December 13, 2002

A Rare Occasional Blog From Katie

Author: Katie

Once again a rare occasional blog from Katie:

As if it wasn't enough to get a D in algebra and a C in biology. Now I have no hair! Okay lets begin at the beginning... I had a B all along in biology. I had no fears of getting a grade lower. Algebra, on the other hand was bad from the start. I worked so hard all semester, even with tutors in my free time. I became a lousy mom and housekeeper. I even became less in touch with my Father. I worked so hard and all in vain because I still got the grades I worked so hard to avoid. There was a team of prayer warriors praying me through the toughest semester I've ever had in school. I felt defeated from the beginning and it followed through to the end. When all was said and done I began to get angry at God. I had thoughts like, "What is the point of prayer? All these people were praying and the answer was NO all along. I put forth the effort, why didn't I make the grade? It's so unfair! YOU CALLED ME TO THIS??? WHY ARE YOU NOT PROVIDING FOR ME TO SUCCEED?" (OH BROTHER!) Then, in church on Sunday I found myself praying..."Father, help me to not go there. Forgive me for being angry, please help me through this that I may not turn against you." Well, he answered that prayer almost immediately. He has caused me to see His work all around me and now I wonder...."Maybe it's a lesson I had to learn. Maybe I have made an idol out of what I feel called to." I have an "I must succeed. I have to succeed." attitude that caused me to neglect my responsibilities to God and my family (AGAIN!).

I expected to make it through college without a grade below a B. I had to have scholarships and a high GPA to get through college. I relied on material things, things of this world. Why do I have to keep going through this? Why can't I just keep faith in Him who called me???? If I made all F's, God can still make the impossible possible! Anyhow, He spoke to my heart so big through church, other students who have had semesters just like mine. Also he spoke to me during worship and fellowship with my church family this week.

He especially worked on me through taking my tutor out to lunch to say "thank you". What's so funny is that she asked me if I really wanted to do it because it wasn't necessary. I told her "I couldn't make the grade in algebra, but I can take you to lunch!" Much to our surprise, during lunch we learned something. We thought God brought us together for the purpose of algebra. Well, it turns out that He brought us together for a much greater purpose. I'll blog about that on another day. But to keep you from hanging in suspense, I'll tell you this much, it has to do with my desire to write a book.

I left our lunch with a fire in my soul once again....and long hair on my head....which leads to the next part of my blog.....

I accepted the grades and the fact that I will once again have to take algebra (you must understand that I'm horrible at math and I seem to be plagued by it!). I started out the semester celebrating this being my last semester of algebra........NOT! So, I finally accept defeat and learn to live on when I decide to get my hair shaped up for the big Christmas party................BIG MISTAKE! I went to a scizzor happy hairdresser who was told to cut off half an inch to an inch. She cut of at least FOUR INCHES! I spent most of this year trying to grow my hair out long by Christmas. I wanted to wear it up in a ponytail with curls dangling down. Not gonna happen! In a matter of 10 minutes, all of my waiting and expectations went right out the window...or into the salon's garbage can! I can't even put it in a ponytail! So, now I have to deal with the fact that I am suffering from vanity. I don't think I'm physically beautiful by any means but I had been recieving many compliments on my hair lately. My son, in his effort to help, gave the ever famous, "Mom, it doesn't matter what you look like on the outside, you are beautiful on the inside and that's what counts!" Oh well, his heart was in the right place. LOL.

I guess I needed some touching up in that area of my life as well. Talk about removing anything that causes one to stumble! Well, any reasons I may have had to feel pride lately, have been removed. Now, I have nothing left but my character which isn't all that great since I spent most of yesterday afternoon and this morning balling and swearing vengeance on my hairdresser! (okay so I didn't swear vengeance, but I have bawled and said some not so nice things). What's really bizarre is that even in that God found a way to show me blessings. Talk about making the impossible possible! My daughter used my words against me (I hate when that happens). The blessing came when I realized that she does actually pay attention to the things I try to teach her. She said, "Mom, you are being vain! You always tell me that I shouldn't be that way and you are not setting a very good example for me to follow!" Wow! My daughter sure cut me down to size with that one!

I replied, "You are right and I'm NOT setting a good example. Now you know what NOT to do!" Actually I was setting a very good example...about "what NOT to do!" But at the same time I had to smile. She has learned about vanity, and she has learned about being an example for others to follow. Walking the walk and not just talking the talk. I read devotions and pray with my kids at bedtime. It's a reward for their getting to bed on time and it works! They know that if they aren't in bed by 8:55 that they have to read on their own without my involvement. Sometimes I feel guilty when I don't read with them. But, it does help them to see the consequences of not following rules. Anyhow, I have put up with alot of bickering and disputes between my kids and wondered if they were learning anything at all from our times of devotion. I guess they have........Boy have I rabbit trailed in this blog or what? Oh well, it's my thought page and my thought pattern right?

I guess I'm going to put myself to the test now and go wash my hair (or lack of it). Pray for me!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Eph. 3:20 "Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen."

Wednesday, December 11, 2002


What is tolerance? Christians are often accused of not being tolerant. If a Christian says "abortion is wrong", we are not being tolerant of women who choose to end a pregnancy by murder. If a Christian says "cloning is wrong", we are not being tolerant of science or people who choose to clone for whatever purpose. If a Christian says "shacking up with someone of the opposite sex is wrong if you are not married", well, we just aren't being "tolerant". What is tolerance?

Tolerance is defined by Merriam-Webster as "a. sympathy or indulgence for beliefs or practices differing from or conflicting with one's own b : the act of allowing something"

There you have it! That's tolerance! It seems Christians may be as "tolerant" as their accusers?

Tolerance to me is knowing a behavior is wrong, knowing an idea is wrong, and still communicating with, or possibly loving, that person engaged in that behavior or adhering to that idea. Tolerating something simply means you can disagree, but still get along.

I read an article recently in the Christian Research Journal that really said it all so plainly. We are easily taken in by the "tolerance trick". In his article "The Myth of Tolerance" Greg Koukl examines how easily we succumb to the trick.

All views have equal merit, and none should be considered better than another. Don't you agree?

Jesus is the Messiah, and Judaism is wrong for rejecting Him. Oh no! Can we say thaaaaaaaaat?

Koukl wrote those statements on the board in a class of high school students at a Christian school. Many immediately objected to the second statement he wrote. "You can't say that, it's disrespectful. How would you like it if someone said you were wrong!"

"In fact, that happens to me all the time." he pointed out, "including right now with you. But why should it bother me that someone thinks I'm wrong?"

"It's intolerant" the student replied, noting that the second statement violated the first statement. What wasn't immediately noticed was that the first statement also violated itself.

Is not the second statement a view? as is the first statement a view? So both views should have equal merit, no? yes?

This presents a dilemma. Both views with "equal merit" are contradictory. Koukl says "if all views have equal merit, then the view that Christians have a better view on Jesus than the Jews have is just as true as the idea the Jews have a better view on Jesus than the Christians do."

What is the solution? "Be egalitarian regarding persons, be elitist regarding ideas."

Treat people equal...but understand that some ideas are better than others. Christians need to be respectful and courteous toward people who may have opposing ideas, but we should not, and do not, compromise our belief system in doing so. Matter of fact, our belief system teaches us to be exactly that, tolerant. Loving. We are told to "love our enemies".

I think sometimes our world confuses the definition of tolerance. It seems sometimes that if you simply disagree, you are labeled as intolerant. That is not what tolerance is. Tolerance is acknowledging a disagreement, yet still be respectful to the person with an opposing belief.
There are some ideas Christians should not tolerate...murder, adultery, etc., but simply announcing these behaviors are wrong does not make us intolerant to people. Terrorism is wrong and we can't tolerate that, but we can respect people of the Islam faith. (and no I don't believe that Muslims are all terrorists, nor do I believe all terrorists are Muslims. Just tolerate me here!)

You can hate my blog, think it's all whacked, but still tolerate me!

Covenant Renewal 2002

Every year my church has a banquet. It is a celebration really and we call it The Covenant Renewal Banquet. Each year members gather to celebrate Christ, to celebrate the body of Christ, and renew our commitment to our God and our church. We are reminded of our mission: "We exist to be a healthy, biblically functioning, community of Christ followers that lives out a covenant love for God, a Christ-like love for people, a passionate commitment to truth, and an effectiveness in advancing God's kingdom."

We share dinner, fellowship, testimonies, and worship God with prayer, song, dancing and any other creative way to glorify God.

The theme for this year's banquet was "Whose Church is it Anyway?" The talent that God brought to Northbrook really shined bright last Sunday night with the "Whose line is it Anyway" skit, production, whatever the heck it was! I have never laughed so much at anything in my life. My sides still hurt! I was so amazed at the creativity of the members chosen to do the show...the improvisation blew my mind! I can't even explain all of what went on because it is one of those things that you really needed to witness. It would also help to know the staff members being parodied too! It was a blast! You just need to take my word for it and be bummed you missed it! It was hilarious!

I felt so blessed that night that God had led me to Northbrook. I sit every Sunday in the presence of Him and all of the other family members that He also led to Northbrook. Northbrook is filled with people from every walk of life. Let me give you some examples. Out back of the church there is a trailer hitched...Sandra (who was a wonderful Algebra tutor to Katie) and her husband travel the US and spent the late summer and fall here in Three Way attending Northbrook Church with us. They are humble folk, obviously well-travelled since they have no permanent home...theirs is on wheels and they are just "passing through". On to Florida next week.

David Gushee, George Guthrie, and Paul Jackson are all pastors at the church and professors at one of the top Universities in the nation, Union University. David Gushee and George Guthrie are published authors and speakers, and considered top scholars in their fields, Christian ethics and New Testament/Greek respectively. Paul Jackson, our full-time pastor, is an expert in Greek and an associate professor of Christian studies. These are some top notch educators and God has me being taught His Word through them! I am blessed. People pay big $$$ to get an education at Union and I can attend Northbrook University (the educational system set up within our church) for the cost of my $6 book!

When I first met these people I have to say I was somewhat intimidated...but, then I really got to know these people. Yes they are scholars, but they are God's chosen first and foremost! I watch them serve the lowly and I watch them educate the privileged. I watch them educate the lowly, and I watch them serve God in any and every way. Humble people. That's what Northbrook is filled with. David Gushee and his family (wife and kids) have a burden for Katie and her kids. The kids' dad hasn't seen them in almost two years. He just stopped coming for his visits after the divorce and David Gushee feels that Katie's kids need a male role model. He has committed to being that for her kids and takes them every other weekend. Katie's kids get to see and be a part of a safe, well-functioning family. It is one way God has provided for her and her kids, to break the consequences of "generational sin". It is a miracle in the making. 

At Northbrook we have many teachers, and many retail workers. High profile lawyers, (one of which was so awesome in the "Whose line is in Anyway" skit) and homemakers. We have unemployed people without a home, and we have people who open their homes to anyone in need. We have factory workers and administrators. We all come together at the Gathering Place. His Body comes together...a perfect fit! Everyone has their purpose and the leaders at Northbrook really work hard to make sure that all members contribute according to the gifts God gave us.

There are many reasons why I love Northbrook, but the Covenant Renewal is one of the greatest. Each member commits in writing to follow the mission of the church. If you do not commit in are not considered a member. This is done yearly, so unlike many churches where once you are on the roll, you are there until death, here you have to recommit once a year. Northbrook has right now about 100-150 members, but 300-400 regular attenders. Signing on the dotted line means that you agree with the core values (all of which are straight from His Word!) of the church, and you understand that if you do not that there is some accountability for that. I like that accountability thing (except of course, when I am being held accountable!). I think that is where many churches faulter...they don't hold people accountable. Northbrook doesn't come knocking at your door because you sinned today, but...if you choose to live openly in blatant sin, someone will lovingly approach you and try to restore you. (Galatians 6:1
"Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted.") I have seen this in action simply by members possibly questioning a behavior and by following conviction of the Holy Spirit. Sometimes the person is restored, sometimes the person needs to leave. It is not an easy thing to go through, but it is important in maintaining the covenental relationship with the church and with God. The last part of that scripture is true too and Northbrook therefore does not a a "lead" pastor, we have a "Pastoral Leadership Team", a PLT. Each member of the team has a certain purpose, but no one pastor has all the say. That is another unique thing about my church.

Northbrook is not perfect, but it is special because it is made up of imperfect people all seeking to do God's Will. We strive to love Him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. We strive to acheive that "oneness" in Him. I was ready to commit once again to my role in the church and I signed on the dotted line. I am ready to serve Him side by side with my brothers and sisters in whatever way He leads me. Northbrook asks nothing more of its members than to follow Christ. That's all. (That's all? That's all? THAT'S a whole other blog!)

Saturday, December 07, 2002

December 7

December 7th is probably just another day to you. NOT TO ME! December 7 is special to me because it is my anniversary! Way back in 1966 God chose to bless me on December 7th. He had it all planned out before the world began, but as far as my existence...this day in 1966 is a milestone. December 7, 1966 I was adopted!

I was only 4 months old so I don't remember much, actually, I remember nothing of the events of that day, but I mark it as special anyway. I know that it was the day I got a family! A wonderful mom and dad. I love them so much. I have tears as I blog knowing that as much as they are special to me, they have NEVER let me forget how special I am to them.

My parents are so awesome. I go to them when I need anything...encouragement, opinions, even if I need help financially I know that I can count on my parents. If I had a need right now and called them and asked them to come, they would be on the next flight out of Cleveland. I can always count on my mom and dad to be there for me. They have never failed to show me love.

Growing up I took my parents for granted, not intentionally, but I thought all parents were like mine. They were there at every band concert and softball game, awards banquets and every kid milestone. They were always there when I needed help with my homework. They took care of all my needs. I always had clothes to wear, (even though I think mom sometimes had to drag me to clothes shop!), and food to eat. I had the extra-added benefit of having Gram come live with us when my grandad died too. She baked the most awesome chocolate-chip cookies (that I have not ever been able to duplicate), and beaten biscuits...I miss the beaten biscuits! I never meant to take for granted the love my parents showed here for all the WWW to see...Thanks Mom and Dad for loving me!

I remember helping dad every spring put the mower deck on the tractor so I could mow the yard and in the fall it was time to put the snow blower back on and chains on the tires. I remember mom helping to coach my softball team one year and always being my taxi getting me to and from all my practices and rehearsals. I remember Gram supporting me in my endeavors on the softball field and in the band as well. I have so many awesome childhood memories and most of them because of my parents loving me so much!

When I was adopted, I gained parents, but later on I gained two younger sisters. We had a good life growing up together. I remember bickering as siblings do but we love each other and are there for one another when needed. I am so blessed!!! WHY DID GOD GIVE ME SO MUCH?!!!

Ohhhhhhhh, the mail just came in! Snail mail that is and LOOK! I have a card from Mom and Dad! YAY! It's a Veggietales card...Bob and Larry on the front! I'm so excited! Wooohooooooo!!! It says "God made you special and He loves you very much." and now I'm gonna open it! Inside it says "What better reason to have a happy birthday?" But Mom scratched out birthday and wrote "ADOPTION DAY!". Then the best part is what she wrote after that: "We love you more than you love Veggie Tales. Love, Mom and Dad." AND I LOVE THEM MORE THAN I LOVE VEGGIE TALES! (and I LOVE Veggie Tales!)

God did make me special and every day of my life my parents have reminded me of that. As a kid they would tell me I was special and that being adopted was special. As an adult, they still tell me I am special. I know I am special in God's eyes because of the parents He gave me. WOOOHOOOOOOOOOOO!!!! I feel special today!

December is a day I will celebrate!

Wednesday, December 04, 2002

Where is God in the Good Times?

I came across this question at Expressions: In books and sermons, Christians are often asked whether their faith is strong enough to withstand bad times. I'm wondering, though, if a better question is this: "Is my faith strong enough to survive good times?"

Hmmmmmmm, just the other day I said to Katie that I wasn't praying like I once did and my relationship with the Father has suffered because of it. She confessed that she is having the same difficulty. I responded to that (kind of tongue in cheek) "What we need is a good tragedy!". Of course, Katie quickly chimed in..."NO! Don't ask for thaaaaaaat!".

Brokeness is what we need.

How does one "get broken" in the good times?

The Bible in a Year

My friend Katie and I were determined to read through the Bible cover to cover this year. We started last January and I remember looking at the monumental task by holding in-between my fingers the few pages we had read and seeing the giant bulk of pages left to read. We sometimes wondered if we were going to be able to do it. Those questions were very frequent while plowing through Leviticus, Deuteronomy and Isaiah...and some other books of the Old Testament. I have already vowed that the cover to cover idea might be a once in a lifetime experience, but I will continue to wash myself with His Word each year by some other type of "bible in a year" plan.

It was difficult to stay on top of it. We tried to get through 3-4 chapters a night. Doesn't seem too difficult in and of its own, but much of the spring and summer we were involved in multiple other studies as well. We studied Philippians, (I actually studied it three times just this year!), and did a Beth Moore study "Jesus, the One and Only" which had us reading a lot in the gospels (of course). Northbrook Church spent much of the past summer/fall in a series "Being a Christian in a Non-Christian World" and covered I Corinthians in that. In SaLT we spent time learning all about Peter from the New Testament writings. It's been a busy and very productive year for me from the study point of it. At times I did feel overwhelmed, which is why I didn't worry too much about studying Philippians three times! (Never had any more new material to have to read! LOL)

It was very easy at times to fall a bit behind but we were able to make a lot of ground on a trip to Ohio by listening to the Bible on Cd. If you have never done it, I highly, highly recommend listening to Max Maclean read it. He reads with great inflection and can capture the "character". I still shiver when I remember how he sounded when he read "I am Legion!". THAT was scary! It sounded verrrrry demonic! Anyway, Max Maclean got us through the book of Job on that trip to Ohio. He also helped us out when we felt more like listening than reading...but 98% of the time Katie and I traded off reading it aloud to one another, and it has been a worthwhile journey.

Oh, another comment...there is something really special about reading the Word out loud too. Can't explain it, but it just comes more least for me.

Tonight we will continue on in James! Whew! Made it this far! James was one of my first studies ever with the pastor at First Baptist Church in Marshalltown, IA. My singles group studied it. I miss that singles group, even though I was the oldest, well...besides Pastor. It was mostly comprised of the older high school youths and the college kids. There was one girl, Darci, she and I hit it off well. She wasn't in school and was trying to make a life for herself through Christ. She had a voice on her! WOW! She can sing! I was moved to tears by her singing because her voice was so soft, yet mighty, and she carried herself with such confidence. She told stories with her interpretations and inflections in the music. It was so beautiful. Hmmmmmmmm, wonder if she ever does anything with that? I know she's a songwriter too...I have the CD the youth made a couple years ago. I should try looking her up...wonder if she'll even remember me?

Well, that's about all on bible study. Still going through with the commitment to finish in a year, cover to cover, God's Word. Any recommendations on a good "One Year Bible"? 2003 is right around the corner!

Sunday, December 01, 2002

It's Much Better With All the Swearing In It and Other Stories

I work retail. I can be frustrating especially this time of year, but I love it! I get energized when it's time to be on the sales floor and sell music! It's so much fun...but...sometimes, dealing with the public has its downside.

As a Christian I am sometimes convicted about the things I sell. I work in music retail. I love to sell good music, however, the downside is, most people seem to like to buy bad music. Bad musically, and very bad lyrically. A lot of popular music celebrates the not so nice things in our society...drugs, know, that kind of stuff. Many artists also choose not to sing too many big words, they especially enjoy simple, four-letter words. It is frustrating for me because I know that it is not God's will for me to sell this stuff, but at the same time, I know I am where He wants me. I work among lost people all day long, and do my best to shine a light in this dark world from my little store in Jackson, TN. I do my best to thwart some sales, and offer alternatives to the negative music people want to buy. Here's what happened today:

Mother and son come to the check out to buy the newest Nelly CD. The mother asks me "is there an edited version of this?" and I said that "yes, there is." The son, who was probably 15-16 interrupted and told his mom to please not get the edited version. She asked me more specifically what edited meant and I explained that in the edited versions the bad language is removed. Sometimes there is just a blank spot in where a word was, or the word is replaced with another word which is less offensive. The son said this "moooooom, it leaves lots of blanks all over the place!" (I smiled a bit because the kid really just dug a hole because he made it sound like there are so many bad words that when you take them out, nothing is left!) but his mom didn't catch that and he backed off when he realized what he was saying. She said "well, that doesn't make sense to have holes all over the place!" and so I said, (and I somehow regret it a bit) "no, it's a lot better to have all the swearing in it!" and then turned away as another cashier was going to ring out the purchase. I just don't get parents these days.

Here's something else that I dealt with today...(it's hard being a Christian in a non-Christian world!)

A customer came into my store. He had been kicked out of my store a couple weeks ago because he was harrassing my customers for money and after that I was told by my associates that he had been in the store for over an hour sitting on the sales floor muddling through magazines. He had been annoying my employee's too. I didn't understand the seriousness of the situation until I stopped working on the schedule in my office and came out to see for myself. The young man seemed to be under the influence of something...wobbled, staggered as he walked. Kept leaning on things to prop himself up and spoke very loudly and obnoxiously. He needed to leave. When he didn't after I asked him to I called mall security who eventually was able to escort him out. He was told not to return. Today he returned.

When I saw him in my store he seemed to know what he wanted and was purchasing a CD. I hoped he would check out without incident and just be on his way, but no...that would be too easy. He did buy one CD and then decided he wanted another. He didn't have enough money (which is his usual problem) and so he harassed my employee's for some. I watched this for a bit while he kept trying to come up with an extra dollar to cover the cost, but no matter how many times he counted the bills in his hands, he came up short. While I was on the sales floor, one of my young associates told me that when he came in earlier he kept grabbing her nametag and putting his face close to hers in order to try to hear what she was listening to (we wear headsets in order to communicate better with the personell on the sales floor). It made her quite uncomfortable. He also kept obnoxiously calling her name loudly from across the store. Once I discovered this, I knew he really needed to leave. When I asked him to leave, he said some rude things to me and was rather beligerant. He was not leaving so I called mall security. As I was calling, he left my store so I told security I didn't need their help after all, the customer left.

About 5 minutes later he returned. I approached him and reminded him that I had asked him to leave. He "demanded" respect as a customer because "a customer is always right" and went on and on about all the money he spends in my store (which is NOT a lot because he never has money and always harasses customers and employees for it) and that he has "more friends here than I (you) have staff." Whatever that means!?! He apparantly was not going to leave, so while I kept trying to get him to go my associate called security. This "man" started raising his voice and calling me names. He used the "f-word" and then said "excuse my language" and I said "I will not excuse your language, get out of my store." At all times I managed to keep cool and did not raise my voice, although I was speaking very sternly. Customers in the store were of course observing all of what was going on and this young man continued his string of obscenities and kept hurling insults my way. Some customers started laughing at him because he was being such a fool. He was telling me that I had a "hair up my @$$" and that "You are probably p-----ed off because no one dated you in high school" and that "I have a vendetta against him." I just wanted him to leave. Finally mall security got there to witness the last of his insults and then he said "you never said please". I asked him again "Will you please leave now." and he "politely" said "yes, maam." and left. All 6 mall security officers were there and immediately hauled him off to the side of my store for "questioning". I was just happy that he was out of my store!

The police were called and he was charged with trespassing. Mall security has also banned him from the mall. It seems that other merchants in the mall have had similar incidents with this young man. We were hoping that the police would see that he was under the influence of something and do a search of his person and/or car, but no such luck. I guess being an idiot isn't probable cause.

That happened in my first two hours on shift today. Oh boy!

Next story: We have these awesome listening and viewing stations (LVS) installed in my store. It allows customers to sample music from almost any CD in the store. It is so cool! You can watch the movie trailers too off of DVD's! It's so the Internet! Anyway, I have about 21 units in my store. The units with include a simple control panel and scanner, as well as a set of headphones, are placed at various places throughout the store. We got the system a little over a month ago, while some of our company's other stores were "test" stores and have had them installed since early spring. The headphones are always an issue because they will break with a lot of use which listening points in my store get. The stores in downtown Washington DC and in Rockerfeller Plaza in NYC say that the headphones are virtually indesctructable, and they really are very durable. I have maintained the opinion that people in this part of Tennessee are not the most intelligent and are very rude, and disrespectful. Jackson, TN proved it again third set of headphones was broken! THIRD SET! They haven't replaced any in NYC or Washington DC yet! This is why on 9/11/01 the crime rate in major cities throughout the US dropped that day, but in Jackson...they went up! Wonder why rednecks get a bad name!

Southern pride? I'm still trying to determine what it is that the south is so proud of? Somebody...please explain!

Saturday, November 30, 2002

Old Spice

Author: Katie

I love the smell of Old Spice aftershave. It takes me back to when I was little and I'd sit on my Dad's lap. I would snuggle up to him in his recliner and I would smell that scent that I call the "Daddy" scent. I was (and even today at 34, I am still) Daddy's little girl. I buy him Old Spice every year for Christmas. When I buy it, I like to take a good sniff before wrapping it up. Since Dad is so far away, it brings him close. For a brief moment I can close my eyes and I'm Daddy's little girl in the recliner curled up on Daddy's lap once again. Those were the days when Daddy was Daddy and he was my hero. Oh how a fragrance can take a precious memory from the past and bring it to life in the present.... even for a moment. I should do a commercial for Old Spice! LOL.

How about you? Is there a certain scent that takes you back in time? What do you think of? Why not take a trip back in time just for a moment right now. Think of that scent and spend a few minutes reminiscing! (I do recommend you think of a pleasant fragrance, it works better that way.) I will blog more later. I can't wait to tell you about the most awesome Thanksgiving!!!!

Sue, I AM THE MOST BLESSED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

In this time of Thanksgiving, I thank God for the sense of smell (among many other things).

Thursday, November 28, 2002

Laundry and an Observation

Moms need a raise. I do not think I work as hard at work as I did on the laundry tonight. Of course, I know what I am doing at work...I do not know what I am doing with the laundry. This might explain why I am still unmarried, and a NOT the momma! Katie's kids crack me up because sometimes they will come to me with something, (usually a boo boo) and turn around and say..." are a 'not the momma' and this is a momma thing." LOL Instead, they have learned to come to me when their bikes need fixed or they need money. Hmmmmmm, wonder if they read my blog "The Blessing"?

Well, at least the laundry is 90% sorted (I don't know what goes where!) and 99% folded. That will hopefully lighten a bit of the load for my dear friend Katie. She is coming up on finals this week with numerous exams and big assignments due. She also will be taxi-ing her kid to and from "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever" rehearsals and performances this week. She's a busy woman! Pray for her...she is too blessed to be stressed, but with everything going on this week...well...she's gonna need God's grace.

How do you fold a fitted sheet?

Have a washing machine...have a dryer...SOMEONE NEEDS TO INVENT A FOLDING MACHINE!



Tuesday, November 26, 2002

Once Saved, Always Saved

I will finish reading the bible cover to cover next month. It's been a wonderful journey. (Well, the trek through Leviticus and Deuteronomy was very l o n g. I'm not sure I'll commit that that again!) LOL

I have learned so much about my Father in heaven and my love for Him is even deeper now. He's still mysterious, even with all He reveals. That's another awesome thing about Him. Kind of like human relationships in a way. I have a best friend Katie. I know her pretty well, but every now and then a new tidbit of info about her will pop out. At those moments I realize that I don't know everything about her and it's exciting to learn something new! So, God reveals enough to allow us to know Him and love Him, but He keeps parts of Himself hidden so we still want to learn more. It's the mystery, the discovery that makes the relationship fun!
Today I ran across a blog at this site.

"A thought
I came down with a really bad cold this evening, so I'm drugged up and tired. But, I just wanted to comment on how interesting it is that Calvanists hold to preservation of the saints in such a way as once saved always saved. I was reading through Credenda Agenda and noticed articles on end times and salvation. He quoted from John about Jesus stating that he would not lose any that God had given to him. I keep reading that (in context) to mean that he would not lose any of the 11 disciples that God had given to him. It's not that our salvation is waxing and waning, like one hour we are saved, and the next we are not, because we have sinned. It's more like an active rebellion against God, after you have tasted of the glories. The wedding banquet parable comes to mind, how God invites many to the feast, and yet they don't come, so he invites anybody that wants to go. Yes, I think this talkinga Jews first, then Gentiles. Yet, what about the man who showed up and wasn't in wedding clothes? He got kicked out. Perhaps it is those who have come to Christ, but didn't bother to put ON Christ. Of course, Calvanists would say that the man never knew Christ in the first place. Oh well. I'm still holding to my belief's that faith can least for now."

I had to comment on it. I may agree with the blogger's assessment of the scripture used to defend the argument stated above, as being out of context, however, I do not agree that one can lose his salvation, that faith can die. Faith is a gift from God. If one can lose his salvation is a point of disagreement in Christian circles, but I wanted to post my response here, well...just because!

Once saved always saved. Salvation is a promise from God if we accept His son. God does not break promises. 
Nehemiah 1:5
Then I said: "O LORD , God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and obey his commands,

Daniel 9:4
I prayed to the LORD my God and confessed: "O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with all who love him and obey his commands,

The Spirit of the Living God is given to those who accept Christ. That Spirit is a seal.

Ephesians 1:13
And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit,

2 Corinthians 1:22
set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come

That seal is just that...sealed!

2 Corinthians 5:5
Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come

Ephesians 4:30
And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.

Ephesians 1:14
who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession–to the praise of his glory.

I know that many disagree with once saved always saved and honestly I can't imagine my Father giving me the gift of salvation and then taking it away. I can't imagine what it must be like to live in fear of losing salvation. God does not want us to live in fear, a reverent fear for Him yes, but not an ungodly fear.

If we would lose our salvation when we sin, and turn from Him, would not Christ need to die on the cross again so we could accept Him again? When Christ hung on the cross, He said "it is finished"...not "so far so good, hopefully I won't have to do this again."


Thursday, November 21, 2002

The Osbournes

I do not watch tv. We get but one channel here. Channel 7 locally and it is affiliated with ABC. Justin had the tv on for awhile this afternoon and noticed that tonight A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving was going to be on. FRAMILY NIGHT! I can't resist the "snoopy battles the lawn chair" scene! After that we watched Winnie the Pooh.

After the shows I came back to the puter to play. Kids showered and went to bed. Katie continued to watch tv and it was a Barbara Walters interview with Sharon Osbourne, the wife of Ozzy Osbourne. It was scary, what I was hearing from the other room. I know that The Osbournes is some show on MTV and was a huge hit, but I really cared less. Now that I know what goes on in that show I am appalled. The language! Between all the "bleeping" I couldn't make out a sentence! At one point Mrs. Osbourne was asked why the children are allowed to talk to her the way that they do. She answered "I talk to them that way. I talked that way at work and unfortunately brought it home with me." She also explained that the kids know when to use that kind of language and when not to.

I have a couple of points to make on that: First, Sharon Osbourne said "unfortunately" she brought that language home and used it when talking to the children. Unfortunately. She said "unfortunately" which tell me she knows that it is wrong and does it anyway. Second, obviously the kids do NOT know when to use that language and when not to. One should NEVER use that kind of language!

I think I even heard our president somewhere in there with some words that were respectful and somewhat edifying to the Osbournes. This disappointed me. Is he really condoning this?
So Ozzy Osbourne hears voices in his head. Is he being treated for mental illness at all? Does anybody care about this?

The whole thing seems messed up to me and what makes it worse is that the American public embraced this show, that family, and supports it. I just don't get it.

Evil is in this society. Everywhere. It creeps in subtlely and sucks you in before you know it. It is idolized. Evil is worshipped.

What is wrong with this world? Why can't people see? Hearing what I did tonight just makes me long for Jesus to come take me home with Him NOW!!!!!! Ohhhh, to sit at the banqueting table He invited me to! It might be the first banquet I actually enjoy being at! I hate potluck...I hope it's not potluck! Then again, maybe in heaven I will like to eat tasty things! Hey, I might even enjoy a pizza party! Woooohoooooo!!!!! (Do you know what it's like to be a minority? I'm a pizza-hater!) But, in heaven...I may just love to eat pizza! and maybe even meatloaf! I could sit and eat with my family and be finished before dark! Oh, I'm getting excited now!

2 Timothy 2:22
"Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart."

As Christians we are not of this world. Yes, we live here, for now, but we must "press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called (us) heavenward in Christ Jesus." Philippians 3:14

Heaven is our get your fill of the Osbournes here! (although I would advise against filling your mind with that stuff)

One In a Million Church

I was told today that my church is one in a million. I believe that to be true. Wonder why God placed me in a "one in a million church"?

Monday, November 18, 2002

Worship is the Only Gift

"Worship is the only gift we can bring to God that He himself has not first given us.

We pondered that in SaLT group one day.

Do Angels Sing?

I've always thought that angels sing. Then I tried to prove it biblically. It's not easy to do! It's one of those things we assume about the bible. (Kind of like the 3 wise men...they were not there immediately following the birth of Christ, they came into the picture a few years afterward!)

Are angels "morning stars"? If so, then Job 38:7 would indicate that angels sing. But, that's an interpretation...kind of a gray area. Then in Revelation 5:9-13 it appears that angels sing because they are included in "every creature in heaven" I figure, and will be "singing".

Hmmmmmmm? I wonder about the original Hebrew and Greek texts? In my Internet research I found this at Clarifying Christianity: Note: different Hebrew words—ranan and rinnah—are used for the “singing” of inanimate objects, instead of shiyr and zamar—the words normally used for human singing in the Old Testament.)

Although there is a lot of singing going on, it is interesting that the Bible never states that angels sing. Yes, many Christmas songs have lyrics indicating that the angels sang when Jesus was born—and we suspect that angels have the ability to sing. Still, it is interesting that the Bible never actually reports that angels do sing.

Note: the text in some English translations of the Bible contain verses stating that angels sing, but they are poor translations of the original Greek word lego, which means “to say” or “to speak.” Typically, this happens in Luke chapter 2, verse 13 and in Revelation chapter 5, verses 12 and 13.

It's probably going to have a lot to so with the translation you read and your interpretation. I prefer to imagine angels singing, but it would ruin my theory that God is tone-deaf. (How can he stand to hear me sing praises? I'm a star in the car, but you really don't want to hear me singing at close range! LOL) I know I know...God is perfect, so how could he be tone-deaf? Well, I'm not tone deaf and notice I sing bad. LOL Others are not tone deaf and notice I sing bad. How can I sing praises to God and let it be bad?...either He is tone-deaf, or He works a miracle. He has a "miracle ear" or something and by the time my praises reach Him, they sound good! Sorry...I digress.

Check it out for yourself...Do Angels Sing?

I may sing bad, but I play a mean trumpet!

Thursday, November 14, 2002


Yesterday Katie said to me "you like to be alone". It's true. I like to be alone. I don't want to be lonely, but I do like being alone. Not always, but sometimes.

I am rarely alone. I have lived in TN for almost 3 years and in that time I have rarely been alone for an extended period of time. Before I came here, I had only 1 roommate and we shared a living space for about 14 years. She worked a lot, so when I was off work I had a lot of alone time. I enjoyed that time. What did I do with it? Well, I played video games, saw movies, watched tv, listened to music, ran errands, stuff like that. After I became a Christian I cherished my alone time even more because it was great time of worship and prayer.

I remember playing on the computer listening to my worship music and Christian rock on my favorite online radio station. I really enjoyed just doing my own thing and listening to my tunes! Music that glorified God! I prayed a lot. I remember longing for my alone time with Him in my room. I never had to schedule it because I was always alone. Whenever I felt Him leading me, I could go to Him. When I needed Him, I could go to Him.

God has blessed me with a new life. Unfortunately, sometimes I don't think I have adjusted very well. I ache for alone time now. Time to just do what I want to do, when I want to do it. I am free to do whatever, don't get me wrong, but it isn't as easy when other's are around vying for attention. I sometimes feel guilty because I want alone time. I could go off somewhere, but I like being home. I am rarely home. On my days off, I want to be at home.

Home...I love my home. I am relaxed here. I spend 50-60 hours away from home working and travelling to and from. On my days off, I wish to spend them at home. My friend however who is cooped up at home, likes to spend them away from here. We used to love to go to the river on God days. We would spend Wednesdays, my day off, at the Tennessee River. We would worship, pray and do bible study. It was awesome! I wish we could recapture those times! His Spirit was so alive! Today's hectic schedule makes it seem so impossible.

I think I need to be better about making alone time. It isn't just gonna happen anymore. I have to seize it when I can!

It has been difficult being a single woman who went from not much of a life, to a life filled with activity. Kids everywhere wanting this and that, vying for attention. Movie's playing while I'm trying to listen to music. Video Games drowing out everything. Multiple loads of laundry every other day. It's an adjustment! Exciting at first, but the novelty is gone. Now I am still trying to understand what has happened! LOL I can't just get in the car and go anymore...I have to wait until people are ready. I'm not complaining...I really am not. I am simply trying to explain that there is a difference and life today is not what I was used to for so long.

I wouldn't trade what I have now though. God has given me a framily. Why He sought me fit to be in the lives of two growing kids, I don't know. I see my friend Katie being such a mom, a good one too, and I think to myself "I could never do it! This is why God keeps me single!" I can't deal! I think it would be different if I had been around the kids from their infancy, but I was just thrown in! I dove in! I know God wanted me here, but I had noooooooooo ideeeeeeeeeaa! LOL

That's my blog on wanting alone time. I just need recharging time. Heck, Jesus took a lot of it. He was always retreating from the crowds and going off alone, seperate even from the disciples. He used it for worthy causes. I need to do that too!

Saturday, November 09, 2002

Where To Hammer in My Nail

Back in August the message at church was "Being Servants in a Selfish World" as part of a series: Being Churched in an Unchurched World. Our church has been working its way through I Corinthians and the message back on that August day was centered around I Corinthians 4.
Paul, one of our full-time pastors, broke the chapter down like this:

I. Servants are faithful (1-5)
II. Servants will be judged (6-7)
III. Servants will suffer unjustly (8-13)
IV. Servants are held accountable (14-21)

He made the point that Christians are servants of God and we are to be faithful only to Him. He alone will judge us. Paul had us view a scene from Gladiator, the scene where the Gladiator's were being picked. I learned from that that Gladiator's were not the prime elite of the military force, they were basically despensable humans that would make for some good entertainment as they were killed. That was there purpose for being thrown out into the arena. They were told they would go out to the sound of applause. Paul had us think about "going out to the sound of applause...hopefully of God." Paul also shared that servants are held accountable. What God entrusts us with in the way of gifts and talents, he gave to us with an intent for us to use them to better the church and to glorify Him.

At the end of the service we were instructed to take a nail. Sure enough at the exit was a large bucket of nails. We all took a nail...about a 12 penny nail I'd guess. I still have it in Jeepers, my jeep. We were asked to think about where we are to put our nail in Northbrook, and that at the annual Covenant Renewal, we will be asked to "hammer it in". I'm not all sure how it's gonna play out, but I have been thinking about where to put my nail.

At Northbrook in order to become a member you must attend a new member class, Northbrook 101. In it people learn the Mission of Northbrook Church, the Biblical Values, and what members are expected to do, things like attend services regularly, participate in SaLT groups, use talents and gifts to edify and build up the church. Paul is having us figure out how we are to apply the principles of I Corinthians 4 personally, to the church. Think about where to put our nail.

I attend services and love SaLT group. At one point I was involved in 3!!!!!!!!!!! I have also wanted to find my niche, a place where I might use my gifts and talents. I found one way to contribute a bit as I will be helping to administrate a message board on the church website. I'm not sure I understand exactly what my responsibilities will be, but I'll learn it no problem. I got involved when I emailed the webmaster and made suggestions about the site.

This week I found another way to help. I was asked to help out with the Ministry 2 Women Newsletter. I'm excited!!!! Just another way God is going to use my talent and interest in computers to edify the church! Woooohooooooooo!!! Can't wait for my first issue to be hot off the presses!!!!!!!!!

So little by little I am hammering in my nail.

Tuesday, November 05, 2002

The Blessing Part II

I received an email from a reader of my blog. She expressed concern for my decision to walk with a stranger, across a dark Mall parking lot, to the ATM. It's crazy I know. It's also faith.
I can't defend my decision because it was based on faith. A faith God has given me.

On my way home, I was thinking some things about the encounter. I had talked with the man, a bit more than I shared in my blog. I learned that he was a carpenter by trade and had been for 14 years. He is currently employed by a construction company just down the road. I kept thinking about Matthew 25:40

"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.' I thought it was cool that he was a carpenter, just like my Jesus!

I also thought about Luke 10:33

But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him." 36"Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?" 37The expert in the law replied, "The one who had mercy on him."

Jesus told him, "Go and do likewise." I try to do as Jesus teaches. Just like the Samaritan who thought more of the man in need than of himself. Would any of us ever do anything if we always stopped to consider how it will effect us? That's what Jesus taught over and over again..."Do unto others", "Love one another", "sell your possessions and give the money to the poor".

The reader of my blog wondered if he was a con man. Maybe he is. Maybe he isn't. If he is a con man, he is a dumb one because he gave me his address, offered to show it to me on his cellphone bill, he had ID, and he had his wife's prescription. He also mentioned that he had gone into some other churches who basically sent him on his way. I didn't want to share that because it is not edifying, but it was for some of these reasons that I chose to help him. It was the right thing to do.

Yes, it was risky, but living for Christ is risky business. I believe that had I been beaten and robbed, I still did the right thing by God. He knows my heart and He is who I have to answer to.
Jesus did not teach that following Him would be easy. Matter of fact, He explained that it wouldn't be easy at all, but it is always right. Did Jesus ever do anything to please Himself?

I am troubled by this world. So many Christians out there didn't, and won't help the Rick's of the world. Have you ever found yourself in need? I have, and I am so thankful that God placed people in my life to help cover that need. I know that it is not possible for one person to help everyone and everybody, but isn't it possible that if we all looked to God for guidance on that, He would be able to get everyone's needs met! Imagine it! If we all "loved one another as ourselves" it would really work! I can see a time where there would be no need at all! Will it start with you? me? Who then?

I Exercised

I exercised my right to vote today. It's the only exercise I will get for another year.

Monday, November 04, 2002

The Blessing

I worked a double today. One of my associates was ill. I knew she was ill, she didn't look good yesterday, so I wasn't surprised when her mom called. I hope she is feeling better. None of the associates I called were available to work, so I worked from 8:14 until 9:40 tonight. I love my job, but I LOVE HOME TOO!

Work has been so stressful lately. Way too many tasks to be doing and I do blame Corporate. I don't think sometimes the "pencil pushers" really know what's going on in the field. They expect miracles and those don't come frequently in the field of retail! Anyway, I am feeling very defeated like I will never be on top of things in my store again. Christmas is coming up and I am so far behind now it seems hopeless. My DM, although he does understand, still needs this turned in by last week and that turned in yesterday. I told him today "I am not the manager I want to be! I love music retail, I love it, but right now I hate being here!"

I was tired. Cranky. Stressed. Worried about all the things not getting done. Starting to feel quite apathetic about it all anyway and then God sent me a stranger. I had a little over an hour until the store closed, the moment I was anticipating more than any other this day, and that's when God sent me a blessing. It gave me appreciation for what I did have. It helped me feel like God was watching over me. It helped me realize Whom I work for. I remembered my purpose for being there, in my store in TN.

God is so awesome. The stranger probably went away thinking I helped him...when, actually he allowed me to gain a blessing. God set it all up. It's what He does. He's the Master!

A man came into my store and asked if I was the manager. I told him I was and he told me he needed a favor. As a manager I hear this stuff all the time...they want donations of product or whatever I can give. I asked him what he needed. He said "My wife is very sick." I started thinking..."oh, here we go!""She needs medicine and Tenncare doesn't cover it." (I believed that! LOL) He told me he asked the pharmacist if he could work for the medicine, but was told he couldn't because of "insurance regulations" or something like that. The man said "I have nothing. Only my cellphone bill to prove that it's mine. I'll let you keep it until I can pay you back. I will work for it. I have asked so many and no one can spare $27, could you please let me borrow $27. All I have is my word that I will pay you back. If you can't help me, do you know anyone who can?" I could tell by this man's facial expression that he was sincere. I could see the desperation in his eyes. This man was willing to do just about anything to get this medicine for his wife. It broke my heart. I told him "wait here, I will help you."

I went to get my bank card. I was praying to myself because what I was about to do could have been very dangerous. I was trusting this man, but more so I was trusting the Lord to protect me. I told my associate that I was going outside for a few minutes and would be right back. The man kept saying "this is so embarrassing. I have a job. My wife, she is so sick and has been out of work for so long, we have lost almost everything." As we were walking over to the ATM across the Mall parking lot, I was aware that I was taking a stranger with me over to the ATM and withdrawing some money. I was asking God's protection as I entered my pin number. The man kept trying to give me his cellphone, drivers license and show me his bill to prove he owned the phone. He was attempting to prove his cause was legit and give me "collateral" or something. I motioned with my hand to put that stuff away and explained "I said I told you I am trusting your word." The man's eyes welled up with tears.

I took the money from the ATM. He accepted it I turned to him and asked him "what is your wife's name?". He said "Renee". I said "I am going to pray for Renee, and my church will pray for Renee". I also asked him his name and that I would pray for him as well. He looked into my eyes so deeply and I could see the fear and desperation in him. His eyes were teary and his lips quivered as he muttered a soft "thank you". I told him that if he needed food that he could come to my church, Northbrook Church, on Wednesday night because it was fellowship night and we will eat A LOT. There will be plenty of food for him if he has need. I gave him directions and I told him that Northbrook Church was "all about helping someone in need!" (Oh, I gave him gas money to get there too!) I explained that I know first hand that Northbrook reaches out to those in need because they did just that for my friend, for me, and for so many others.

Before that moment the man asked me for money, I had been so stressed about my financial situation. I have bills I am paying late. Late. That's all. They are late. They miraculously still get paid. This man is down right now. He was so willing to work for the money for his wife's medicine, but he needs more than medicine for his wife. He needed love tonight. Christ showed him love tonight. I am praying for Renee and Rick. I wish so badly I could have done more for the man, but it is in God's hands. I am praying that God will lead him to come to Northbrook for FWF (First Wednesday Fellowship) and that Northbrook will extend God's open arms to this man and his wife. God took my pity party for myself, and made it nothing. It is nothing. Not only did He make me realize that I have things pretty good, He gave me an opportunity to share what He has given me.

Interesting to think that if I hadn't had to work the double, none of this would have taken place.

Rick had so much humility tonight. God loves the humble. God humbled me tonight. God loves the humble.

I asked Rick where he lived. I am hoping I have enough information to find him, since Thankgiving is just around the corner.

Time to go to bed.

Thank God for all that you have tonight, and while you are at it, will you lift Rick and Renee up in your prayer?