Thursday, April 29, 2004

Most Livable State 2004

Ask me if I'm surprised that Tennessee is NOT at the top of the Most Livable State 2004 list?

Matter of fact, it ranks very close to the bottom of the list at #46. Good news is, last year, TN was #48 so I guess that's an improvement.

What's hard is that I moved here from the #4 most livable state of Iowa.

It sure has been an adjustment!

Hmmmmmmm, I notice that many southern states are at the bottom of the list. What does that mean?

Computer Guru Needed

Can someone explain or help me troubleshoot why I can't see Jax Place in my browser?

Everything on the site appears to load for me, except the blog! I see the header graphic, I see the left margin blogrolls, but not a single post!

I can see everything fine in the March archive posts. Weird?

I use IE6 and this little thing is driving me crazy! If anyone has any clue what may be the problem, please let me know. I notified Jax to let her know I couldn't see it, believing the problem might be with the coding, but she sees it fine in different browsers, including IE6.

I have set Norton to allow her site to be viewed. I've adjusted the privacy/security settings in IE to allow viewing. I don't know what gives?

I think it is weird that I can see all the posts in March, but can see nothing in April! Computers are weird!

My New Favorite Song

My new favorite song is called "It's Like Me" by Kutless. By the way, this is a great, very well-polished album from these guys. I really liked their first and now this sophomore album is even better. Check out the tunes by clicking on the audio player. "It's Like Me" is the last track listed.

From the first verse:

And we talk of God but still I don't share

So many times that I just never saw the chance

From the next verse:

The phone rings with news that he's gone

That scares me. Missed opportunities to share the love of Christ and then a phone call like that.

The chorus of the song repeats:

It's like me to never see

When it came, when it went

Now it's gone away

In the song, the writer shared the gospel just in time, so when the phone rang, it wasn't too late. It made me think about the missed opportunities I've had. The song has helped me to open my eyes and for "it" I don't miss "it" when it comes.

Full lyrics can be found here.

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Pomp and Circumstance

Four years ago I came to live in TN. I was following God's will for my life even though I really had no clue what it was. (I still don't!) I took things step by step.

What I found here was a friend. I was given a wonderful friend in Katie and she was such a different person then, oh she has come out of her cocoon! She is a butterfly!

Four years ago I met up with a broken woman. She was beaten down from years of emotional abuse. The abuse came in many forms from neglect, to verbal poundings. Her spirit was defeated and she had nothing. Nothing at all but her love for God.

She clung to Him. She held on tight when her world was crushing in on her. Her days were filled with tears and struggle. It was difficult for her to even rise from her bed in the morning.

Then God led her out of that Valley. He is continuing to lead her to the Promised Land and invited me along for part of the journey.

Amazing what God can do with a life in only four years.

Today Katie has taken on so much. She is fully devoted to her children and runs herself ragged making sure that they make it to soccer practice and games. She's got Justin in junior high band and running him to and fro different events.

She herself dives into whatever she can do at church, from singing on the praise team to watching babies in the nursery. On occasion she also helps out with the Welcome Table on Sunday mornings. She is always so vibrant and full of life!

She has also involved herself in the WRAP program in Jackson. This is a program that is committed to helping people who have fallen into some type of abuse in a relationship. She has learned so much from the program and has also been able to share what she has learned over the years with others. Her dream is to be able to help women who have suffered through years of abuse as she has. She wants to be involved somehow in a type of women's ministry that can share the love of God with those who don't know what real love is. She is an absolutely amazing women.

She has recently taken up a business venture with Avon in order to help pay for her kids to attend a Christian school. She has made the top 20 seller list in just her first few weeks of selling and she has also managed to recruit some others. She is always improving and already working her way up the ladder.

On top of all of this, Katie is graduating from college this Saturday . She has earned an associates degree in ... oh, I forget...let me go ask. LOLOL Katie fell asleep on the couch. I woke her up so she can go to bed and asked her "What is your degree?" She said "98.6 I hope." LOLOL Then she looked at me like I was crazy for asking such a bizarre question! Well, after she came to enough to be lucid, I coaxed her by saying "you earned an associates degree in..." and she finally filled in the blank "Social Sciences". So, she is on her way to the next step, which is I have no clue! The point is, God is working in her life and she is clay in His hands. I can't wait to see what He will turn her into!

So, Katie has come a long way. She will soon be a college graduate at 35 years of age, and by the way she's the first in her family to go to college, and earning a degree is more of a plus! I'M SO PROUD OF HER! She's a new woman! OHHHHHHHHH, and she will be graduating with honors after earning straight A's in her last semester! Wooohooooo!

KATIE I AM SO PROUD OF YOU! God bless you as you move into yet another adventure with Him!

Death is Just a Doorway

To a believer death is just a doorway. What about to a non-believer? Is death just a doorway?

Yes, I would say that most believe death is a doorway. A doorway to "the other side".

What is in question, is that once that threshold is crossed, where is it that the doorway has led? What is through that door? What is on the other side?

I posted a little bit on this in my post a few months back called "The Gift of Death" because I was reading a book called "One Minute After You Die" by Erwin Lutzer. In it the author explores what happens one minute after death and uses many biblical grounds for what he writes about. It is a very interesting read, if you read the few excerpts at Amazon, you'll see what I mean!

As a believer in Jesus Christ as the Son of the Living God, who came to earth and atoned for my sin through death on a cross, and resurrection from the grave, I have hope in the fact that death is a doorway. Because He conquered death, He gave me life. My life is eternal because it is with Him I shall forever be. When I move through the doorway, I will be moving from life, to life. Everlasting life with my Creator, and my Father who loves me. When I die I will immediately be face to face with the Lover of my Soul. The Eyes of the One who can not love me more, and can not love me less, will be looking into mine. I will feel the Grace of God like I have never experienced before. He is at this very moment, preparing a place for me. Sometimes I am very anxious to get there!

To a believer death is nothing to fear, it is moving to life. To a non-believer, I fear, that death is the end. No more hope, no more joy, no more happiness, only fear and gnashing of teeth. Imagine being so uncomfortable and not being able to do anything to bring comfort! Jesus explains that there is no escape from this destiny, once the doorway to death is opened and closed, in Luke 16. Where you are one minute after you die is where you will spend eternity.

In heaven, the reward will be great. I think Matthew 5 gives us great insight into the rewards of heaven too: The mourning will be comforted, no hunger or thirsting, the pure in heart will see God, the meek will be strong, etc. In 2 Corinthians 4:17-18 we are told "For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all." We learn about surpassing riches and about gaining beyond what we can even imagine about heaven from certain passages in the bible. Interestingly enough, the bible doesn't ever really come out and say "Yo, dudes, this is exactly what heaven will be like." We couldn't comprehend it all anyway, but God in His infinite wisdom has given us some subtle clues about what we have to look forward to. Revelations gives us even more to go on when we are told that there will be no hunger, thirst (7:16 ) and no death or pain (21:4). It's hard to even imagine what being in the Presence of the Alpha and Omega will be like, but if the prophets who have gone before can give us any indication, we will most likely be on our face, praising Him. I will drop to me knees in reverence I'm sure, and be totally overwhelmed. I will revel in His Mercy and Grace!

What is through the door for the non-believer? Death. Separation from God. Forever. Judgement. The end. There is no turning back. Once one is cast from heaven, there is no chance to return. There is only hell.

Jesus Christ, who rose from the grave, (which proves his Divinity), declares that He is the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one goes to God except through Him. No one. God is in heaven, therefore, the way to get to heaven is through Christ. Christ knocks at the door....He is in the doorway. To go through that doorway, one needs to open and walk through when He knocks! Be sure you choose the right door!

Death is just a doorway. Have you thought about where that doorway leads? Are you going to heaven?

Night of Praise

Englewood Baptist Church posted a pic of the Night of Praise. Can you find me? and/or Katie?

Well, I still can't find me but I'm playing trumpet in and around the area on the right side of the orchestra.

Katie is easy to spot...worshipping with arms raised high. She's wearing a pink shirt. I see that there are two wearing pink shirts, and both have arms raised. I tried to point to Katie...she is the one furthermost right.

Wow! That was an awesome night!

Sunday, April 25, 2004

Pics of a Friend's Wedding

Rae and Amy were recently wed in our church. Rae has posted the pics! You have to check out their beautiful baby girl! Precious thing!

Liftin' Up the Praise



Chiver bumps! Chicken skin! Tears welling up in my eyes and my heart swelling as I thought of the love of God pouring onto me tonight. I am not worthy. Not worthy at all, yet He wraps His loving arms of Grace around me and squeezes me so tight like He's never gonna let me go....AND HE WON'T!

Wow! The music was SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO POWERFUL! So beautiful. God inhabits the praise! He dwells in it!

It is almost pointless to try to blog about the wonderful stirring emotion of this night. Thank you Englewood Baptist Church for opening your facility and putting together all the pieces parts to make this a night to honor the Lord. It was a "rehearsal for heaven" for sure!

Made in God's Image

During the message at church today, which was all about man being made in God's image, Paul shared an illustration to make a point. This was to help us see that if we can understand how man is made in God's image, it would affect how we treat ourselves, and others.

Paul explained that a professor in seminary school used this in a lesson once. Imagine a button on the wall in front of you. When the button is pressed, a criminal/murderer dies instantaneously. This criminal is guilty beyond all reasonable doubt. You can't see him, he can't see you. You don't know him, he doesn't know you. All you know is that he is guilty. Would you press the button? The professor then asked, would Jesus press the button?

Saturday, April 24, 2004

Praise and Prayers

This week was not really notable in my life. Nothing too exciting happened. Work was rather uneventful, which is a VERY GOOD THING!

I got my music for the Spring Night of Praise event that I am playing for at Englewood Baptist Church in Jackson. I had the pleasure of performing for the last praise celebration which they had last fall and I really had a great time. They put together a top notch orchestra, with their great choir and it turns into an awesome night of praise! Whew!! I'm getting excited just thinking about it! I feel so blessed to be able to play and worship God, just giving back to Him what he gave to me!

Oh, something interesting happened in my store today, which really had little to do with the store at all. I have an associate that has lived a very hard life and has tried to pull it together since she started living for God, I guess about twelve or so years ago. It has been a tremendous struggle for her as a single mother of 4 children, 3 of which are out on their own, but still run to mom when trouble occurs. She has great financial strain, and her mother is very ill in the nursing home with very limited mental capacity that leaves her unable to communicate. She is church going and loves God, but considers herself a "backslider". I have a heart for this woman and do what I can to help her which isn't much at all.

Today, Tommye and her husband stopped by to see me since they were in the mall. It is always a treat for me to have friends stop by to say hello. On their way out, I thought to introduce Tommye to my associate. It was a God thing! Tommye immediately gave my associate a hug and I explained that much prayer is needed here. Tommye had a bit of a conversation with my associate and then, right there in the middle of the sales floor, embraced her and prayed for her. She also encouraged Charlene to join her for lunch sometime soon. I think Tommye would be a great encourager for Charlene, so this meeting may have been a Divine appointment. We will see. Charlene is in desparate need of prayer and support, and lots of encouragement.

While talking with Tommye, Charlene shared that she feels like she is backslidden, and that when she first got saved she felt that God would give her everything, but she has lost some of that childlike faith. Part of the reason is because she has had such a hard time in life, even since giving it over to God, that she wonders why it hasn't been easier. Tommye shared a neat analogy about that, one I hadn't heard before.

Tommye said that when you go to the grocery store, you have a list of things you want. "As soon as you walk into the store, does everything on the list suddenly jump into the shopping cart?" "No" said Charlene, "you have to shop around, go and get it, and sometimes you even have to wait until next time to get it". Tommye's point was obvious to Charlene, that once we start living for God, we don't learn everything suddenly; somethings we do, other things we need to work for, we need to look for and we need to wait for.

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

A Few Questions...

Ron has some questions for you...

It's interesting to read the responses to these questions. I've linked each question to the corresponding post, where you can comment and answer if you would like to.

1. Have you ever lied?

2. Have you ever taken or kept anything that was not yours?

3. Ever lusted?

4. Ever hated someone (even for a moment)?

5. Are you guilty?

These, especially #3 & 4 made me think and it was difficult to be honest about. Regardless if I am honest with the reader, or myself, my God knows the answer. God is right where I am at, in my Christian walk, in my failed human state, in my heart. He knows me. He continues to work in me. He loves me.

How Much is a Ticket?

I got a call from a customer yesterday asking the cost of a Kenny Chesney tickets. We get numerous calls a day with people inquiring about ticket prices. (I HATE ticketmaster! It is very, very, very time-consuming and I make virtually NO money off of it!) There are many different shows going on and at all sorts of price levels. Off the top of my head, I answered the woman.

Woman: How much are Kenny Chesney tickets?

Me: 39.50 and I think 52.50

Woman: Oh, my ticket says $49.50

Sooooo, I was incorrect with the 52.50, but then I wondered...if she already has a ticket, which has the price on it, WHY IS SHE CALLING TO FIND OUT HOW MUCH IT IS??????????

What does it mean to be a Christian?

Do you know what it means to be a Christian? If you have something to add to his survey, head on over to Brian Hamilton: What does it mean to be a Christian? and answer. I came across this via Father Jake Stops the World. Trick is you are asked to answer in fifteen words or less. I'm curious to see the different responses once the survey is complete.

I found Father Jake by way of a comment he left on a certain post that I have pointed to before. The discussion is getting very interesting.

Monday, April 19, 2004

I Saw a lot of Naked Men...

and heard a lot about hell. That was a comment I heard from another member of the brass choir yesterday after our peformance. We played during a lecture on the Sistine Chapel. I sure did learn a lot sitting there listening to the art professional.

I learned that the Sistine Chapel is very plain looking on the outside.

I've always known about the famous Michaelangelo painting The Creation of Adam...
(You can click on these next three pics for a bigger look. These puny pics don't do the paintings justice, as if any pic could.)

but I never realized that it was part of a whole series of paintings on the ceiling.

The paintings are all part of a theme and the ceiling paintings show, in order: God Separating Light from Darkness, Creation of Sun-Moon-Plants, Separation of the Sky and Water, Creation of Adam (which is the center), Creation of Eve, Temptation of Expulsion, Sacrifice of Noah, The Flood, and Drunkenness of Noah.

I also learned that all the walls, and the ceiling were painted. I didn't know all that was covered by the most famous artists of the day that were commissioned to do the work. I must not have paid close enough attention in Western Cult class in college...oh, that's right, I skipped a lot of lectures! LOL

I was most facinated by the painting of The Last Judgement. I learned that Michaelangelo actually came back 30 years after painting the ceiling, to paint the altar. He had the brick chiseled as well, and the top part of the altar protrudes outward. You can't see it in the pictures, but there is actual depth there. That would be something neat to see in real life! His influence for the painting, at least the part where he depicts hell, came from Dante's "Divine Comedy" which was a favorite read of his at that time in his life.

I also learned that Michaelangelo was given a hard time for all the nudity he boldly displayed in the Chapel paintings. It was probably very controversial at the time, I'm sure, and when asked why he did it, he explained that humans are made in the image of God, nothing shameful about that! The human body is beautiful, and he preferred to paint all of it.

When we were dismissed, the professor said that he hoped we learned a bit about the Chapel and its history. That's when I heard the comment from a fellow brass player "well, I saw a lot of naked men and heard a lot about hell!" LOLOL

The program was put on in the First United Methodist Church in Humboldt, TN and in affiliation with The West Tennessee Regional Art Center. While I could have thought of better things to do on a Sunday afternoon, I must say that it was rather interesting to learn more about the Sistine Chapel, Michaelangelo, and the many other artists that contributed to its painting and beautiful decorations.

For more information and/or a virtual tour, go to the Vatican.

Friday, April 16, 2004

Unsafe Music for Driving

What music would be unsafe to listen to while driving? When asked this question I inevitably recall the times I hear the BOOM BOOM BOOM of the bass shaking the windows in my store as a rap enthusiast slowly makes his/her way through the parking lot of the mall. I will always say "I thought there was a law against that, some kind of noise ordinance?" I also figure that by the looks of the tired, old, beat up vehicle, that it is possibly the only thing that makes the car move...the vibrations of the music and the bouncing! Well, come to find out that it's not the latest Hip Hop record, or rock song that is the most dangerous, it is Wagner! As in Richard Wagner! Don't listen to Ride of the Valkries while driving! I wonder if it would effect insurance rates? I can see it the next time I go to renew..."so, what music do you listen to while driving?"

Spring Snow

Here are some pictures of our Spring snow here in TN on April 13! They come courtesy of the Jackson Sun.

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Freak Storm

I have suffered from major culture shock since having moved to the south. It has been a difficult adjustment for me to make, and I am still in the process. About the only thing I really enjoy about West Tennessee is the climate.

In Ohio, Michigan and Iowa, all during winter I would need to get up early in the morning to shovel the drive, warm-up and defrost the car, brush snow off, and dress very warm. It was advisable to keep blankets in the car and a full tank of gas at all times.

Down here, while the winter can get chilly, it rarely goes below freezing. I like that. I like it a lot. I like getting up at a reasonable hour for work and driving there stress free. I don't miss how tense my shoulders would get trying to navigate through white-outs and black ice patches on my way to and from work. I like not having a death grip on the steering wheel everytime I get in the car and need to go somewhere. I like not having to say things like "ok, lets plan to do permitting" which means if it doesn't snow. I enjoy the fact that I don't need to buy sandbags every year to put in the back of my pick-up. I also like not having salt facilitating the metal-eating rust chomping away at my vehicle. Yep, it is the climate in Tennesse I enjoy.

Then, even that gets ruined today! IT SNOWED ABOUT 3 INCHES! It was coming down like crazy! The weather people are calling it a "freak storm". Hmpf! 3 inches isn't much to northerners like me...but I still take notice because when I look at the calendar is says: APRIL 13!!!!!!!!!! April = Spring. Spring in the south should mean NO SNOW! Matter of fact, we never even saw snow this past winter! Most of today's snow has melted away now, it's about 1:30 in the afternoon, and the forecast is calling for temperatures near 75 degrees on Thursday.

Freak Storm...I can hardly believe it!

I got called to work for an issue and I had to slip and slide my way out to Jeepers. I had to get out the UNUSED snow brush that was in the back only because the car used to be in Ohio, and clean off the Jeep! I said "I hate SNOW!" Memories of spin outs in northern states while driving on slick roads with limited visibility came rushing back as I drove to work. I was this a joke? Nah, it's not April 1st...what is going on?

Freak storm.

Monday, April 12, 2004

In Fact, I Hate This

When we counseled with "Bob" last week, I explained what I felt my role in Katie's life, and the lives of her kids, is. God led me to come to Tennessee. When He started to point me in this direction, I believed it was for a totally different, and opposite reason. God's thoughts are NOT my thoughts!

My role is to help someone in need. God put someone in need right before my eyes and I could not turn away and do nothing. I believe God continues to provide for me, so that I may keep providing for these people in need. Sometimes, though, I wonder to what extent should I help? How much should I sacrifice?

This is a question that has been going around and around in my mind for a few weeks now. It really came to a head when Katie's daughter had some trouble at school. Katie's daughter is a great kid, and is developing her own identity at 11 years old. Unfortunately, she is easily influenced by those around her and her school is among the worst schools in the nation. The student body is full of very dysfunctional kids and they have made life horrendous for Katie's daughter through what I would consider sexual harassment. She has put up with so much and is a good student, but it is obvious, that for her own safety, it is wise to remove her from that school.

Katie checked into other school districts, but none would accept someone from outside their district. The problem is, many people are leaving this district because of the schools, and are putting their kids elsewhere, so they are full up. There are a couple of other options; private school or we move.

I started thinking things like I don't want to move. Why should I move? These aren't my kids. It is not like I am married to this family. I can't afford private school. I'm doing what I can already, I can't take on more. Should I? How much should I sacrifice? How much of my life do I have to give up to help these people? Where does my commitment end? What exactly is my commitment?

So, all these thoughts were starting to fester a bit of resentment and guilt. I want to help this family. I am commanded to help those in need. Jesus gave His all for me, I want to give my all to Him and that would be sacrificing all that I can to help this family. The kids need a mom and with me helping to provide, they have that. Their father abandoned them, (which I think is a blessing, but that's another post) and they need to have their mother at home. God has put me in a position to allow that to happen for them.

When Bob shared his story of how he adopted a young adult woman so that she could be a part of a real functional family, and how his family took on a lot of responsibility, it made me see that sometimes God requires something radical from us. He adopted an adult and took over responsibilities of caring for her and investing financially in her future. It was not what society would view as being "normal", and in fact, it was quite radical. Bob said that I am doing something radical too.

It is not normal for a single woman to "adopt" a family and support them financially. He reminded me that what I am doing is a kind of covenantal relationship...not to be broken. I can not just turn my back because it would put three people into poverty. Two kids would lose their mother, as Katie would need to work full time and rarely be at home. Like it or not, I am helping to "parent" her kids. I am an influence in their lives and that is an awesome responsibility. He told me that he understands my issue, and I believe him, especially after he shared his story.

The thing that stuck out the most was when Bob confessed to me that at times, the relationship with his adopted daughter was very difficult because of the problems his family inherited through her. He said "I don't like this, in fact, I HATE this, but it's the right thing to do."

I do love Katie and her kids and at times life can be difficult. Her kids are headed into the teenage years which I'm sure will prove to be interesting. I give the framily a lot of my paycheck, in fact, almost all through house and car payments, insurance, and other needs. Kids take up a lot of time and I am not always willing to give up my time. I'm struggling with that because I know how much the kids love me and want to spend time with me...I'm selfish with my time. In fact, I think sometimes I'm more selfish with my time than with my money.

Bob gave us some suggestions, some things to work on in our relationship(s) with each other. He told us to start fresh and new at the end of the school year and Katie and I are serious about making the effort. Her kids' lives are at stake!

In those tough times ahead, I am going to remember those words of wisdom Bob gave me, "I don't like this, in fact, I hate this...but it's the right thing to do."

What If?

Sue and I went to "framily" counseling last week. We have had some issues....major deal with in the household these days. I will save the details because Sue mentioned blogging about it.

We met with our "counselor" who is actually a very special friend of mine and he happens to be a professional family/marriage counselor. He and his wife, along with Sue and her family, adopted me and my children several years ago when my marriage fell apart. Our counselor friend (we'll call him Bob) talked to us about our responsibilities and the roles we play in the house. He is very wise. One thing he said that has made a major impact on me, was that Sue was bridging a gap that exists in the lives of most single (abandoned usually) moms everywhere. In the lives of me and my children, Sue is the bridge over poverty that exists for most other divorced/single moms and their children. (I hope I worded that right.)

There is never a moment in a day that goes by that I don't realize how blessed I am to have Sue as well as the network of support that God has given me through Sue's family and my church family. They have made it possible for me to live better than I have ever lived in my life. I am free from dysfunctional living, and I have everything I need and more. Next month, I will be getting my associate's degree!!!!!!! This would not have been a possiblility if God hadn't given me the network of support that I have...especially in Sue.

During our time of discussion over lunch at Perkin's... Bob told us a story about an abused girl who was taken in by a family. This brought much dysfunction and instability into the lives of the family. There was so much of the girls life that rolled over into theirs and they had to pick up responsibilities neglected by her parents. They also had a very troubled teen on their hands. He mentioned that there were times he could have just said "No way. This is where I draw the line! I quit!" and walked away...or could he? No. There was too much love and too much of an investment in the relationship they had with this girl. So, they adopted her...along with all of her problems. This was a covenant commitment they made and they knew it would be life long...but they did it anyways. Bob told Sue that she has a radical covenant relationship with me and my children. Even though she could quit at any time and say, "that's where I draw the more!" But they agreed that she couldn't do that. She is in this for the long haul...we are in it together. It's because of the covenant relationship that we have with God and eachother. So, there is no line...and this could very well be a commitment as long a my children are at home...or even after that. Who knows? Only God knows where that line is. Until then...we are all in this together.

In my time spent volunteering with the local center for abused women, I have seen many cases of women going back to abusive men because they can't survive financially. Or, these women end up in new abusive relationships. They don't have the support system that God has blessed me with. My heart hurts for them because I don't know the answer. I don't know what I would have done without Sue, My counselor and his family, Sue's family and my church. I know I would'nt have been able to make it on my least not like I have. Would I have gone back? Would I have ever learned about functional living? I never had any examples in my life before now. I only had dysfunction in all directions. Would I have married another abuser? Would I have ended up in jail or dead? Praise God I will never know!!!!!!!!! Praise the God who provides my every need! Praise God for Sue, her parents, my church, mentors, and "Bob" and his family! Praise God for mentors for me and my children!

I can't help but wonder...what if the others had a support system like me? Why can't they? There has to be a way to unite other divorced and single mothers with devoted Christians who can "adopt" them into their lives and give them the support system they need to grow strong and healthy! What if churches came together and formed a ministry to match these needy families with families who could covenant to do everything they can to bring these families out of the downward spiral and lift them up to Christ? What if these families could be matched up to build a bridges over a life of poverty and dispair that will otherwise plague the lives of most of these mothers and their children? What if? Why not?

The Framily Support Network......hmmmm sounds like a great ministry opportunity to me.

Sunday, April 11, 2004

I'd Like to Order 16 Pizzas Please

Would you believe part of our Easter message at church today used this story about an FBI agent ordering 16 Pizzas? Paul, our pastor, used this story to illustrate why the disciples didn't believe the women when they came from the empty tomb, announcing that Jesus' body wasn't there.

Why would 11 disciples, hiding in fear, believe these women? I'm sure the women were all very excited and could hardly contain themselves. They must have sounded like lunatics, spouting on and on about how Jesus' body was not in the tomb and that he had risen from the dead! It really must have been crazy! Can't you just see the looks on the faces of the men as the women told them this? Who can blame the disciples if they said "I don't think so", just like the Pizza man?

Orange Cones

I hate them. Those nasty orange cones. Those orange cones that signal traffic tie-ups and frustration, impatience and at times rage.

Today I saw orange cones and it caused a flip-flop in my heart.

The orange cones I saw today were lined up in the parking lot at church.

Today was the very first time we needed to have two services. God is moving at Northbrook and people are coming here to find Him. They are looking for healing, love, forgiveness, fellowship and there are a host of other reasons they are visiting Northbrook. We are bursting at the seams each Sunday, so for this special celebratory holiday, it was decided to divide into two services.

We were all curious to see how it would all work out and trusted God in this. The first service was more than half full and the second service we were about three-quarters full. Evidence that there would have been no way to fit us all in to one service. God provides.

The orange cones today helped to direct people in and out of the parking lot. They created order where chaos could have prevailed with people driving in and out of the lot.

When I first arrived at church today and started driving toward the building, I immediately noticed the bright, new orange cones lined up at the entrance to the parking lot. My heart flip-flopped because I was reminded about this wonderful place of worship and how much God is moving here. He is among His people and when God moves, people notice. To me, the orange cones were symbolic. They represented to me a growing church. They provide order in the world where there is little to none.

We had an "orange cone service" today!

Get Your Praise On

MSNBC - 'Get Your Praise On' shares an article on Christians clubbing it up in Minneapolis.

Bar hopping, is it getting a facelift? Imagine it, next door to you is a bar where drinking and smoking is commonplace. Across the street the same...then, you enter Club 3 Degrees.

Club 3 Degrees...a sanctuary of sort. No alcohol. No haze in the air from smoke. But lots of celebration in the name of Jesus Christ! Woohoooo! I want to check out that club!

Saturday, April 10, 2004

Stop Thief!

Work often gives me interesting things to blog about. Today was no exception.

One my associates called me over to tell me that a man put his hands on her and that it was very unwelcome. The guy was being rather suggestive and she basically told him to go away. I kept an eye on the guy and I sent that associate home, as her shift was about to end anyway.

I had other customers to deal with so I lost track of that man, but I did notice him hanging out in the back of the store and seemingly keeping an eye on us. This is suspicious behavior and can sometimes indicate that there is a shoplifting issue developing.

At one point I was making my way around the store and this man was obviously trying to break, or pry open, a security case that enclosed a CD. I saw him and he made eye contact with me. He immediately stopped what he was doing, and tried to conceal it by carrying around a T-shirt from the rack, and hiding the CD under it. At this point I was onto him, and he knew it.

Just as I continued watching him, another associate came over to tell me that a customer just told her that he saw the guy I was watching trying to steal cassettes. I said "yep, he's up to something and I'm keeping an eye on him."

By now, he was getting very nervous. He approached the cash register to pay for something. I decided to wait for him outside my store, so I walked through the entrance and into the mall area. I was hoping that when the guy left, the security alarm would be tripped and I could nab him. He kept pacing by the counter as my associate was ringing out other customers. I was standing in the mall calmly and just watching down the hallway. I figured if I happened to see security I might point this guy out as someone to watch out for.

The man saw me outside the store and yelled from the cash wrap "Hey! IS SOMETHING WRONG?!" I didn't realize at first he was talking to me. He yelled again "SOMETHIN' WRONG?!" I said calmly "no". He then came up to the door and said "Oh, I thought you were calling security or something" so I responded somewhat sarcastically, "Why would I be calling security?" He said "Because that's how y'all are, y'all are like that". The man then got back in line and paid for whatever it was he bought. His "wife" and a little kid met him at the door and they left. On his way out he told me to have a good day. huh

I was so close to busting that guy! GRRRR!

Later on I found out that he had gone into our backroom. Thankfully, one of my associates was back there working and startled the guy when he entered through the door. The man stumbled on his words and finally asked "do you have a public bathroom in here?" and when he was told no, he left.

I don't know if he managed to get something or not, but I do know that he didn't get everything he intended to. I only wish I could catch these people and prosecute! It is so irritating dealing with thieves! It was also irritating to have him say "Y'all are like that!", because he was saying "you white folk are always trying to get us black folk in trouble!". I wanted to say back to him "yep, I am like that...catching and prosecuting thieves! Oh...and in case you didn't was a black customer that told us that you were stealing!" I get so sick of being labeled racist.

Third Day Concert

We arrived early for the said "7:30pm", but the concert posters all said "7:00pm". I am anal about time so I make sure to arrive early enough for these events in order to park, walk and be seated in time for the start of the fun.

We met up with our party at 6:30 just in time for the doors to open and we then found our seat in the Oman Arena.

We had great seats, 3rd row back, just to the side of the stage. I was very excited about these seats because I woke up early on my day off to go get the best available. The map made them look awesome and I bought 8 tickets. Ohhhhhh, I couldn't wait! We walk in and head down to our row. I immediately become distraught when I see the obstacles in the way, blocking the view of the stage. Directly in front of our section was a giant case which read Georgia Case Company. It housed some of the performers guitars and totally blocked the view of the stage.

I was upset. I got up early because I wanted great seats and THIS is what I get? A view that is BLOCKED! I then noticed the speakers...all facing front. We were off to the side, so that wasn't good.

Warren Barfield came on stage, right on time. (Shows starting on time is a plus in my book!) Bless his heart, he sang great, I think, I don't know, it was hard to tell because I COULDN'T HEAR HIM! The only reason I knew what he was singing is that I know his songs and now and then could make out what he was singing. Since there was a giant Georgia Case Company case in the way, I really couldn't see him either! I was becoming quite angry at this point and told my party that I wanted their ticket stubs because I was going to demand a refund!

Barfield only sang about 4 or 5 songs. He started out with "Mistaken" and then ended with "My Heart Goes Out". He seemed to be well recieved by the audience which was still filing in to the auditorium.

Tobymac came out next. I was most looking forward to them because they rock! Sure enough, thier show was exactly what I expected. High energy! Woohoooo! Rappin' and rockin' and an all around good time. They even brought in some old school with Wild Cherry's "Play that Funky Music" and a little bit of KC and the Sunshine Band. Oh, it was so much fun! Dancers breakin' it down, flipping backwards off speakers, high fivin'....high, high energy! It was incredible to watch and to listen. I can't wait for the new album coming up soon called "Slam". Tobymac gave us a "hint" of the new stuff and it sounds just as great as the stuff from "Momentum". Wow! This week, I expected people who saw the show to come in and buy Third Day, but it was Tobymac that sold the most!

Third Day put on an outstanding show. They played some new stuff that sounds great and as only they can do, they brought the audience into worship. It was amazing to see people singing along, and out loud to the Lord and having so much fun. Third Day put some video material up on the big screen which was something interesting to view during the performance, but since I had to kink my neck at a 90 degree angle to view it, I didn't really watch too much of that. They played their big hits which included a lot of worship songs "The Creed", "God of Wonders", "Your Love Oh Lord", "Consuming Fire", "Come Together"...lots of 'em! The crowd so enjoyed the show that Third Day did come out to do one encore and during that they played "Agnus Dei" which is what I was waiting for. Awesome! I love that!

I was glad to see Jackson, TN support this concert because hopefully it will bring more like it back to town. FFH will be here next month, in Humboldt, where I live. Matter of fact I could walk to the church they are performing at. I sure hope that show is supported because, again, I'd love to have more top notch acts coming to town. We are right about in the middle bntween Memphis and Nashville, so there is no excuse not to have some acts stopping by Jackson!

After the show I was extremely tired. I was so sleepy, but we decided to head over to McDonald's to snack. Most of us were very hungry because of all the energy we exerted during the concert. Katie and I arrived at Mickey D's ahead of our friends and got in line. There was quite a long line and it was growing as concert goers started to arrive. The employees weren't looking to thrilled to see us all come in at 11:00pm! I told the assistant manager that she was doing an outstanding job with things, seeing as though they were obviously understaffed. (Being in retail I understand how meaningful some kind words can be during those stressful moments.) We all got our food and sat down together. We laughed as we told stories about embarrassing moments and had a good time. It was finally time to head home and get some sleep.

I dragged at work on Thursday. Oh, I was so tired. Getting up early to work the morning after a concert is not easy, especially now that I am so old! LOL I was able to sleep in a bit before work yesterday so I'm caught up with the sleep and ready to enjoy an evening home with the Framily. That is, if Katie every gets back from grocery shopping. Ugh...why does she take forever?!? LOL

Friday, April 09, 2004

Friday Five

the friday five:

1. What do you do for a living? Manage an FYE store

2. What do you like most about your job? Bossing people around...NO! Not really! LOL I enjoy hearing new music first and selling the music I like best. I love being around music all day long!

3. What do you like least about your job? Ticketmaster (I hate Ticketmaster) and demanding, unreasonable customers

4. When you have a bad day at work it's usually because _____... we were understaffed and very busy with time consuming, non-buying customers

5. What other career(s) are you interested in? Someday I'd love to try being an on-air personality on the radio. I think that would be fun. Those who know Katie and me think we'd make a great team on-air! LOL

Thursday, April 08, 2004

Is He a Christian? Part II

My post Is He a Christian? from a couple of days ago prompted some discussion at PBGs. He is concerned that someone might see his "attitude as blasphemous".

As I have written elsewhere, I have a knee-jerk reaction to the word "jesus" (lower case 'j' intentional). I continue to have associations between jesus and evangelical-born-again-Christians. The negative connotation stems from the secular world's general disdain of all things religious. It also stems from the witness attempts by groups such as the Mormons (more formally The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints), Jehovah's witness, and others.

I agree that the jesus of the Mormon's and/or Jehovah's Witness is not my Jesus. Many in the secular world would not differentiate the two. How confusing it can be to be someone seeking the Truth.

Ron Shank has joined the conversation over at PBGs and has asked that we join him in praying for this fellow blogger. Ron also notes "to those who want to blast this man for his thoughts, be careful, please. He is obviously being called by God and our purpose should not be to discourage him, but to allow him to discover God's plan and to help that be revealed in his life."

The Concert

Details later! I'm sleepy. It's waaaaaaaaaaaaaaay past my bedtime and my eyeballs are going back and forth really fast.

Warren Barfield was good, despite the problems with our seating and bad sound.

Tobymac rocked the house like it was one big party!

Third Day RAWKED! They were great! I can't wait to share more, but I must sleep!

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

Tuesday, April 06, 2004

Is He a Christian?

Yesterday a woman who has become a frequent customer of late was in my store. My associate had helped her and there was a bit of an issue when I arrived to begin my shift. The woman was quite pleased to see me come in, because she knew I was going to be able to resolve the issue.

I resolved the problem and she was very appreciative. She obviously enjoys the assistance I have provided for her when she came into my store on previous occasions, and was again happy with the result. Then she asked me "are you married"?

I said "no"? She asked if I wanted to be. I said "no, I'm pretty content in my single life". She was disappointed because, as she went on to say, she is trying to find someone for her son-in-law. She went on to say "he is a farmer and very good looking."

I asked "Is he a Christian?"

She was put back by my question and really didn't know how to answer. She stumbled and said "I don't know, I think so, he goes to church." Then she asked me "what church?" so I said "I don't care what church, just as long as he's a Christian". She asked what I meant by that?

I said "I mean born-again, saved by the blood Christian!"

She said "he's a fine Christian man." (I almost believed that. Her response was a little to hesitant to have me believe that her son-in-law is a full fledged Christian with a real faith, rather than a said faith. I would tend to think that if he were indeed a Christian, it would have been obvious to her and she wouldn't have had to fish for words when I asked the question.)

She continued "I'm trying to find him a wife. His wife cheated on him and now he's trying to get custody of his five year old daughter." I said "ok.......nooooooooooooooo, no kids for me! No sir! Noooooooooooo!"

Another exciting day at my little store in Jackson, TN.


Terminal Man wants to know if I think he is a Christian. I've commented at his site, c'mon and join the discussion.

Sunday, April 04, 2004

The Passion of the Christ, the Resurrection

At SaLT group tonight some discussion turned toward our thoughts on viewing the Passion of the Christ. While one can pick out certain details that aren't in scripture and various other nit-picky things about the film, I don't think anything outweighs the goodness of the movie. One that always gets me is when the comment is made about the resurrection. "I would've like to see more made of the resurrection."

What more of the resurrection do people want? Did they want to see Christ stand up and do jumping jacks? with a bright white halo surrounding him? and watch Him ascend to heaven?

He was dead. Then He wasn't. That's the resurrection!

I also had something hit me that hadn't before about the film. Amazing that weeks later after seeing it, twice, that I can still think about it and ponder. Katie said at SaLT that one of the poignant things about the film was how Jesus was always getting back up after having been knocked down. That He embraced the cross. Everytime He was knocked down, He was able to gather enough strength to get back up and on with His mission. The people that were beating Him and knocking Him down, were His motivation for getting back up. It was brutal to watch and unimaginable to have endured.

This is the thing that stuck me tonight. The film did portray Christ getting back up. Right until the very end of the movie. He got back up.

Maybe that was the point of the brevity of the resurrection scene. All we needed to see is that He got back up.

So You Say It's Your Birthday

On April 4, 1999 I accepted Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior. I, as do most people, celebrate my birthday each year and I have for twenty-seventeen of them now. No, most people don't celebrate my birthday, they celebrate their own birthdays, but you know what I mean. I have also celebrated each December 7th because that is my adoption anniversary.

My parents told me I was adopted when I was 7 years old and in the second grade. I had no clue what it meant at the time, but I do remember having a cake...chocolate. I love chocolate cake. I love chocolate, but I digress. They threw me what was very similar to a birhtday party. Well, what better way to celebrate?...than with chocolate? Oh, I did it again! My mom and dad shared cake with me and explained that I was special because I was adopted. I went to school the next day bragging about being adopted, and truthfully I had no idea what it meant. All I knew is that I felt loved and had a chocolate cake and was told I was special. I grew up believing that I was special and that I was loved. I was very secure knowing that I had a family that loved and cared for me, and that being adopted was in fact, special.

Five years ago God adopted me! A few months after my salvation experience, pastor gave an incredible sermon on what being adopted into God's family really meant. In that message I learned that back in the early bible days, the adopted sons enjoyed the same privileges as natural born sons. An adopted person would gain all the rights and inheritances of a natural born son. I also remember the pastor telling us that adopted people could not lose their inheritance because once a person was adopted, it couldn't be undone, it was the law and it was binding. He used this to compare how once we are adopted into God's family, we are there...forever. Our inheritance is promised to us.

God has brought me a great distance in these five years. In the beginning, I made major, MAJOR life adjustments! I was ready and willing to follow God anywhere. He started me off in a wonderful church and I was given some great spiritual mentors right off the bat. Deb, she is the main instrument God used to draw me to Himself. She was an encourager and guided me in those very first few steps of my walk in Him. Irma was another tool that He used to introduce some of His family to me and help me plug in at church. Then once I made my committment, He led me to Noni who is still very influential in my walk today. I wanted to learn all I could about the Lover of my Soul, so I studied and studied and studied and studied. He eventually led me to leave Iowa and move to Tennessee, where I now live. People often ask how I ended up in TN and I will usually respond "God". Let me tell you...Tennessee is a TEST! LOL

I have gone through a lot spiritually since following Him to this state. It has not always been easy, and everyday I am learning to trust Him more. It has often been one wild ride, but He has not once let me down.

While He hasn't let me down, I feel that I am constantly failing Him. I am tired and worn out. I beat myself up all the time because I just can't live up. I feel defeated. I love Jesus, but I am clothed in sin. That's all I can see of me. I don't understand how I can know that God loves me through His son, and what He sees of me is the perfection of Christ, yet all I can see in me is darkness.

I know that I am not to live in defeat, this is not the plan God has for my life. My attitude is just not where it needs to be. I am highly judgemental and critical...these are problems I don't seem to be able to beat. I feel guilt all the time because I am not being the person God created me to be, the friend I need to be, the sister I am supposed to be, the daughter I should be, or the Christian I am. I am selfish with my time and I haven't even been giving God enough of it.

I am wandering in the desert, trying desperately to stay on the narrow road that is covered over daily by the sand and the wind.

Grammar Goddess

Grammar God!

You are a GRAMMAR GOD!

If your mission in life is not already to
preserve the English tongue, it should be.
Congratulations and thank you!

How grammatically sound are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

Found this quiz via Jen Speaks and since I am always complaning about the grammar down here in the south, I thought I could see if I had "the right" to. As expected, I do. I am a Grammar Goddess!

Blue-Mullet Boy

Tom is a guy I know from church. He is a high school kid and I admire him a lot because he is unique. He doesn't let anyone decide who he is going to be. He is an individual!

He is quite humorous and usually has many of the youth around him because he is just plain fun. He got a mullet! Now that is fun! Recently he decided he wanted blue hair. He made an appointment and went to the salon to have it permanently dyed blue. First he had his dark brown hair bleached almost white, and then it was dyed. He was disappointed that the dye was not as dark blue as he had hoped, but he seems content with the light blue-now fading into a green color. He was very excited to learn from the professionals at the salon that he can expect his hair to turn a greenish color and then be gray. He is so looking forward to the gray hair! Oh, to be 16 and want gray hair! LOL Right now we just refer to Tom as the blue-mullet boy.

Tom told us something very funny today and I wanted to share. He said that he would like to get some cardboard and cut into into airplane wings to attach to his car. He explained that when he gets pulled over for going 80 mph that he'll say "I'm sorry officer, I was just trying to get airborne."

So, this post is dedicated to the blue-mullet of God's truly amazing creations!

Links Open New Window

Why isn't my Checkbox for "Links Open New Window" not working?

I tried to adjust the code for Haloscan to use their new Trackback feature, but then my "Links Open New Window" script stopped working. I reverted back to the old code and it still won't work. I don't get it.

Any techies out there that can pinpoint the issue so I can resolve it?

**UPDATE** Who needs a techie when you've got a "tweakie"? I played around and changed something...(who knows what), and have it working now. It seems as though another script code was interfering somehow.

Saturday, April 03, 2004

Framily Night

We had a framily night. These are special nights set aside for us to enjoy one another's company and just spend time together. It usually involves a meal and movies afterward.

Tonight we watched a movie I have been waiting to be released. It finally hit the shelves this week and I brought a copy of the DVD home today. The Final Countdown. I love that movie...and the music is really neat too! If you like Sci-Fi and some interesting drama, I recommend the Final Countdown. I enjoyed that immensely.

Then we watched Footloose. I loved Footloose as a teenager. I think I went to see it at Great Oaks in Wadsworth about 4 or 5 times. It was so fun! I was hoping to relive some of that, but I didn't.

Instead, I sat amazed at how worldly it was. I was wishing I did not bring this home for framily night. Oh my, how my attitudes have changed. It's amazing how Christ really does change a heart. The story is still fun, but the language, the fights. Wow. It was hard to see the storyline and the fun through the cussing, the smoking and the drinking that all the high schoolers were doing. It blows my mind that I used to watch that movie without any conviction at all. In fact, I though it was cool. I am seeing things from a whole new perspective now that I am a Christ-follower.

This happened with the Terminator too. I loved that movie. The action, the drama and Sci-Fi...I LOVED IT! But, the last time I watched it I was so convicted. The Lord's name is taken in vain so often throughout that movie. The language ruins it for me now. I need to get one of those players that edits that stuff out.

Oh, another one...Dirty Dancing. I went to the movies 8 times in college just to see this film over and over again. I really enjoyed the film. I remember telling other people to go see it when they were "turned off" by the title of the film and at one point I even said "I don't understand why it is even called 'Dirty' Dancing...I don't get that at all". I really didn't see the "dirty" in the moves! I HAD SCALES OVER MY EYES! Another movie from my youth GONE!

I'm starting to be afraid to watch another well-liked movie from my past for fear that my new convictions will keep me from enjoying it. Maybe just letting my recollection of the films should be enough.

It is amazing what God does to a heart and mind when you let him. I was really reminded tonight as to how much "cleaning" up of my life He has done.

Time for bed, I'm losing an hour of sleep tonight. I like Daylight Savings, but I don't like losing that hour!

Friday, April 02, 2004

Oh the Pain!

Today started out to be a very painful day.

While brushing my teeth the other day, I stabbed myself in the gum on the upper left side of my mouth. I knew I'd pay. Today, as a result of the stabbing, I have the two canker sores that took over Tokyo planting themselves on the inside of my lip. OWWWIIIEEEEE! Very sore. Makes it hard to even smile, let alone eat anything, because I've noticed that it is hard to eat without moving your lips! It was tough brushing my teeth today.

Then, as I stepped out of the bathroom I impaled my right foot on the plug to the hairdryer that was on the floor. You know, that really smarts!

In reaction to the immediate pain I doubled over and proceded to grab at the wall to brace myself and missed, which caused me to stumble. When I stood back up I caught the back of my head on the corner of the open door of the cupboard just above my head.

If it had been scripted it would've been funny if it hadn't hurt so much!

Thursday, April 01, 2004

Woohooo! It's Gonna RAWK!

Next Wednesday, next Wednesday, next Wednesday!

Muslims and the Passion of the Christ

Country Keepers by Gary Petersen posted a letter he received from a friend. In the letter, the writer describes the impact the Passion of the Christ is having in parts of the Muslim world.

One interesting thing to note that I learned from reading the letter is that many Muslims want to see the film because they have heard it was anti-Semitic. Muslims hate the Jews so they are hoping, I guess, to see a film that paints the Jews in a bad light. What they see, I'm sure, is not what they expect!

It was rather encouraging to read, so I recommend you do too! To read it, click here.

I Thought You Wanted To

The following is a fictional representation of a situation that has happened occassionally in our lifetime

We ate at Perkins. "It was good, but I sure wish we would have gone to IHOP instead" I said.

Katie replied "Well, why didn't you say so? I wasn't gung-ho for Perkins tonight."

"Huh? I figured you would want to eat here, so I suggested it. I would have rather have gone someplace else."

So Katie and I discovered that neither of us wanted to eat at Perkins, but since we thought that the other person did, we settled on it.


Has that ever happened to you? You try to make the other person happy by doing what you think they want to, and they go along with it thinking that is what you want to do...and later find out that neither wanted to do it?

Oh, and Katie was just reading in her psych book about how we have a tendency to conform to the majority. As an example she had me look at a picture. It was of two boxes. In one box there was a vertical line. I an adjacent box, there were three parallel vertical lines, all different sizes. I was to choose the line that matched the one in the first box. I chose line #2. It was interesting to learn that in conformity experiments, if the majority (purposefully, in the experiment) chose the wrong line, it would actually persuade people to choose wrong instead of going with what they knew to be correct. 1/3 go with the crowd.

Katie said to me "are you sure it's line #2?" and I said "yes!"

I was never one to go with the crowd!

Interesting, and scary statistic considering it is the campaigning season. Why do people feel such a need to conform to the majority?

It's that need to feel accepted I guess.

Next time, it's IHOP!

I always say "no matter how close a friend you are, I can't read your mind!"