Monday, December 31, 2007

Recovering Pharisee

I am a Pharisee.

Full of pride and self-righteousness. Often I don't let it show (well, except to those closest to me), but I know it's there. God knows it's there.

A friend recommended this book, "12 Steps for the Recovering Pharisee".

I chuckle when I read it. Not a haha funny chuckle, but a sort of wow, I can't believe he just said that and it's sad but true. I have those same thoughts and feelings! I chuckle at the uncanny likeness of bad attitude I share with the author as he describes my attitude at times to a T.

You know those thoughts Christian! Yes, you! Christian! What exactly are your thoughts when you are behind that slow driver whose left turn signal is still blinking from the turn a mile back when you are running late? Or, what are your thoughts about that woman in line in front of you at the department store that can't find her credit card, then when she does it doesn't work, so she fishes for another card that doesn't work and you have places to go things to do. Are your thoughts Christlike?

Do you roll your eyes back into your skull when the prayer request list at Sunday School goes into it's third hour?

How have you treated your loved ones today? Quick with the tongue? That small part of the body that James says is so full of evil.

Anyway, it is a book of self-examination and of helpful encouragement for attitude adjustment. I've finished only the first chapter, but just reading through the list of the "12 Steps" I feel hopeful that I can admit my failings and work toward building my relationship with Christ to take on more of His likeness.
The 12 Steps

1. We admit that our single most unmitigated pleasure is to judge other people.

2. Have come to believe that our means of obtaining greatness is to make everyone lower than ourselves in our own mind.

3. Realize that we detest mercy being given to those who, unlike us, haven't worked for it and don't deserve it.

4. Have decided that we don't want to get what we deserve after all, and we don't want anyone else to either.

5. Will cease all attempts to apply teaching and rebuke to anyone but ourselves.

6. Are ready to have God remove all these defects of attitude and character.

7. Embrace the belief that we are, and will always be, experts at sinning.

8. Are looking closely at the lives of famous men and women of the Bible who turned out to be ordinary sinners like us.

9. Are seeking through prayer and meditation to make a conscious effort to consider other better than ourselves.

10. Embrace the state of astonishment as a permanent and glorious reality.

11. Choose to rid ourselves of any attitude that is not bathed in gratitude.

12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we will try to carry this message to others who think that Christians are better than everyone else.
This should be a very challenging book and I pray that I don't just read it and add to the stack of books on my shelf that collect dust. I'm hopeful that by allowing God to shine His Light on me, and my Pharisaical attitude, that He can heal me and grow me. My hope is in Him...only He can change me!

Snaps

Went to see a loooooooooong and boring movie today. I don't recommend "P.S. I Love You", but it did lead me to discover a new game. Actually, I've learned it's an old game, but it's new to me!

Took me awhile to figure it out, now you go see what you can do.

Snaps is the Name of the Game!

Sunday, December 30, 2007

I Become

"I become what I behold"
Heard that lyric in a song today. (Earthsuit - Osmosis Land)

Made me consider what do I behold?

Friday, December 28, 2007

Can Our Brains Sense the Future?

I had a freaky type of an experience today. Nothing earth shattering, but something that made me go hmmmmmmmmmmmmmm?

You know Deja Vu?...we've all experienced that sensations of "I've been here before" = weird.

I didn't have an "I've been here before moment", but more of a "can I tell the future moment?"

Well, today after seeing a movie, I was waiting for Justin before we walked to the car and I started humming a melody that I am familiar with having performed arrangements of it in various ensembles I have played in. I was humming "Bacchanale" from Camille Saint-Saƫns's Samson et Dalila. It's got a really cool melody and I think it could be transformed into an energetic rock tune (which probably already has somewhere along the line but I am not aware of it.) Anyway, that was that. I thought it, hummed it to myself, and went on with life.

Justin and I get in the car...and I hit SCAN on the radio (WSCAN is my favorite station on FM) and THE FIRST STATION IT CAME TO WAS PLAYING BACCHANALE!

I've never heard that piece on the radio before and there it was! That was just too freaky! I was like "NO WAY!" I can tell the future! (To listen and watch it performed click here. I was humming the finale which starts at about the 6:12 marker.)

It does make me wonder if our brains do have the capacity to have an inclination as to what is up ahead, in the immediate future. And...what if we could tap into that? Maybe we could practice and tap into the not-so-immediate future? ...would we want to?

It bloggles the mind!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

If It Doesn't Have a Tail Its Not a Monkey



I just love Larry...he's sooooo cute! Here he is with Bob teaching us how to tell a monkey from an ape.

This is the part of the show where Larry comes out and sings a silly song.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Yule Be Entertained!



Amy posted this YouTube video and calls in the Best Christmas Performance Ever. I followed a link from her comment at the Moral Science Club where Jim was calling the Bing Crosby and David Bowie duet the greatest ever. I do recommend viewing the above video, yule get a chuckle from it and be impressed by the talent as well.

I have so many Christmas favorites, it's hard to call any one of them the "greatest ever", but it sure is fun to bring out the old tunes year after year. It seems my true Christmas favorites are songs that take me back to my childhood.

Do they make any "classics" anymore? What is the most recent song that has become a Christmas standard? One might say "The Christmas Shoes" by Newsong, or possibly "Mary Did You Know" sung by many artists in the past few years. I'd say the Trans-Siberian Orchestra has created Christmas classics with their rock opera styled music and show, but classics are few and far between. Then again, that's what makes them classic.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Diversity: Strength or Weakness?

I found an interesting article, Can Diversity Destroy Us? by Pat Buchanan. In it, Buchanan theorizes that there is an ongoing "deconstruction of America", and places some of the blame on the diversity of its people. He disagrees with those leaders who constantly point out that America's strength is its diversity.

I must say I agree with Buchanan.

Diversity is a good thing when there is a common purpose, but the whole "melting pot" thing isn't working. It doesn't work when the "ingredients" in the pot don't "melt" together. It's not working because many in America demand this and that for their own selfish purposes rather than the purpose of the country, which is totally lost in the confusion. How could a baker make a cake if the ingredients all did their own thing and the eggs didn't blend with each other let alone the vanilla? And the flour refused to blend with the sugars? The "melting pot" only works when there is a common goal and "melting" happens to blend into that one purpose, that one common goal.

America doesn't even have an official language. Americans no longer worship the One True God, but many gods. I think Buchanan has a point...how can we be a strong nation when our residents speak different languages, have cultures that practice different "laws", and worship different gods?

America doesn't have one vision, we don't have one purpose. There is no strength in that.

Buchanan uses some excellent examples of countries and governments that have failed and cites diversity as a major cause in those failures.

I find it a scary prospect that a nation can lose its identity. Nations fall when they lose their identity, lose their sovereignty, and are not unified in purpose.

We can be a diverse people, but we must be unified in purpose.

*edited for grammatical errors as per Arron's correction.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Working Faith

A gifted communicator, Russ Pflasterer, shared a message from James at Northbrook Church, 11/18/07.

It was a powerful message and I was inspired to put some excerpts together with some pictures, to draw attention to Russ's point that love is action (as was Jesus' love so great for us he went to the cross...a BIG action!) and that being a Christian is about having a relationship with One you are in love with.

It ends rather abruptly, but I think I was still able to capture one of the points Russ made in this message.

If you want to hear the message in it's entirety go here.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Then He Smiled At Me

Repost from December 14, 2005

The Little Drummer Boy by the Harry Simeone Chorale is one of my favorite Christmas songs. It started to play in the car today on a burned disc I made of some Christmas favorites. When the brummm brummm brummm started I turned up the volume, but Katie grimaced and expressed disinterest in this song.

I was puzzled, how could this be? I said "whaaat? This is one of my favorites and I can't listen to it and not tear up!" I decided Katie must not get out of this song what I do, so I decided to explain it to her and maybe give her some insight and perspective she has not considered before. After I was done, she admitted that she now hears the song differently and wants to hear it again!

While the song played, I would stop the player now and then to emphasize the lyric and what it means...what it means to me. (I don't know if how I interpret the song has anything to do with the author's/composer's inspiration or thought that was meant to convey, but it is what I get out of the song. This is solely my own interpretation.)

Come, they told me (pa-rum-pa-pa-pum)
A new-born King to see (pa-rum-pa-pa-pum)
Our finest gifts we bring (pa-rum-pa-pa-pum)
To lay before the King (pa-rum-pa-pa-pum
rum-pa-pa-pum, rum-pa-pa-pum)
So to honor Him (pa-rum-pa-pa-pum)
When we come

Baby Gesu (pa-rum-pa-pa-pum)
I am a poor boy, too (pa-rum-pa-pa-pum)
I have no gift to bring (pa-rum-pa-pa-pum)
That's fit to give a King (pa-rum-pa-pa-pum
rum-pa-pa-pum, rum-pa-pa-pum)
Shall I play for you (pa-rum-pa-pa-pum)
On my drum?

Mary nodded (pa-rum-pa-pa-pum)
The ox and lamb kept time (pa-rum-pa-pa-pum)
I played my drum for Him (pa-rum-pa-pa-pum)
I played my best for Him (pa-rum-pa-pa-pum
rum-pa-pa-pum, rum-pa-pa-pum)
Then, He smiled at me (pa-rum-pa-pa-pum)
Me and my drum
The first verse of the song basically sets the stage and this young boy was told that these people were traveling to see a newborn baby who would someday be a king. People are bringing all sorts of gifts to honor him.

Now this is when the song gets really interesting!

"Baby Gesu, I am a poor boy too, I have no gift to bring that's fit to give a king" The kid identifies with the babe because he sees Him as "poor". He's born in a stable, wrapped in cloth amongst the beasts of burden, and it's cold. The boy probably thinks that this kid is in need of some of the gifts that are being given to him, yet, because he is a "poor boy too", he didn't bring anything. He didn't bring anything at all that would be worthy to give a king. I wonder, was the boy embarrassed? Was he curious as to what the fuss was all about? Maybe he felt somewhat self-conscious that all these people were there bearing gifts, and he had not one thing to give. Did the boy feel ashamed? Unworthy perhaps? Do you ever feel that way? Do you ever feel unworthy..unfit to see the King?

Imagine that...having nothing to give Him. We do have NOTHING to give Him that He has not already given everything to us! But, there is one thing we can give Him. The one thing we can give to God that He doesn't first give to us is praise and worship. So, the boy stands before the baby in a manger, with no gift to give Him, and asks him "shall I play for you on my drum?"

I had to stop the player at this point! Think about this...The kid says he has "nothing", but he has everything God has gifted him with. The kid plays a mean drum! So, what does he do with the gift God gave him? He gives it right back to God! I LOVE THAT! God gave us all gifts...we are supposed to give them back to Him! It is called worship!

I restart the song where we left off. So now what is the answer? Can he play his drum? Here is this tired mother who just hours ago gave birth to a seven pound, ten ounce baby (Obgyn 1:1) and here comes this dirty, poor, young boy asking to play a drum. It is quiet. The babe is resting, the mother is still and kindly accepting the gifts coming to him from the respectful visitors, the animals are hushed and the night is still. All that is heard is the crackle of the fire warming the area and casting a flickering, dim light on the people, and here comes a boy and a DRUM! A drum! I'm sure Mary was thrilled with the idea of him banging a drum! Imagine a kid coming to play a drum at the next baby shower you attend! Drums are not usually welcome at those events! LOL

The next verse is one verse that blows me away...Mary nodded. This is a nod of affirmation from a tender-hearted mother, and then the boy begins to play. Creation joined in when The ox and lamb kept time. (Psalm 96:9 "Worship the LORD in the splendor of his holiness; tremble before him, all the earth.") The moment was filled with praise and worship because one young boy played his drum, offering the gift God gave him back to His Lord. The Little Drummer Boy was the first worship leader!

I played my drum for Him, I played my best for Him! That's all the kid knew to do! He gave it his everything too and here is where the music really begins to crescendo. The animals have joined in, the people bearing gifts are listening and clapping maybe and tapping their feet to the sound of the drum. The music continues to build to an intense climax and then the drumming stops. It ends suddenly with a decrescendo, a brummmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm that fades away into silence. The little drummer boy stops playing.

Now the great pause!

Silence...for just a moment.

What transpires in that moment? The boy has just offered his best performance on his drum. Was it enough? Was it enough to please the king...the tiny baby lying before him? There is anticipation in the air...the animals are quiet, the gift-bearing crowd is awaiting the next moment, wondering if the boy's gift of drumming had any impact at all? Everyone is still and quiet waiting for something...anything...to happen next. Then....

(slightly slower tempo here to contrast the climax of the drummer's offering.)

He smiled at me,

Me and my drum.

That's the line that gets me every time! I can hardly listen and not have tears well up.

"Well done my good and faithful servant" is what that says to me!

The Little Drummer Boy is such an impacting story to me, and I enjoy the vocal interpretation by the Harry Simeone Chorale to help convey the tenderness, majesty, mercifullness and joy of this story. We come to the Lord with all we have, which without Him, is nothing. We deserve nothing. Yet, he gives. He gives us all we have. He gave us His One and Only Son, who died and was raised. We praise Him for that. We worship Him. We are to worship Him with everything that He gave us...our heart, soul, mind and strength! And a drum...or whatever else He has gifted you with! When you do that...He will smile at you. So, play your drum!

Friday, November 23, 2007

Another Black Friday in Retail

I made it! I made it through another "Black Friday"...this was my 12th Black Friday in a row, and it was just about the one that took me down! Whew! What a day!

I don't know why it seemed so overwhelming today. We were organized, had a plan in place, we were ready! We were psyched! We were running on adrenaline! SUUUURGE! Then the doors opened and whooooooooooooooooosh! People everywhere!

It was like a tsunami!

We were all being pulled in eighteen different directions at once! It was almost comical how crazy it was! I love it!

Black Friday shoppers are pretty experienced about this annual craziness so customers for the most part were patient and understood when we ran out of items, and for that I am thankful.

So, after all that, business drops off to almost normal in about 3 hours. So, why on earth do retailers year after year open so early? Spending the extra labor and time when really all you do is shift the sales to the early part of the day? It's kind of like the shift in daylight hours for daylight savings? Maybe we need Black Friday Savings Time!?!?

Anyway, apparantly some number crunchers are gonna be watching this years Black Friday results with scrutiny.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

I See Dead People - Reflections on a Funeral

I just returned home from a funeral. In this case, the salvation of the dead one was not in question, and that sure gives funerals a different "feel". It's not so final...in a weird way.

I didn't know Betty very well, except that every time I saw her she was encouraging to me and always made me feel good. She was in and out of various SaLT Groups I was in, and I saw her sporadically at church and over the years on a women's retreat or two. Betty made it her responsibility to provide the ice cream at various SaLT gatherings, and made me feel like she did that just for me. The waffle bowls she brought one time were such a hit, that I'm still buying them myself. I guess every time I eat my ice cream in a waffle bowl, I will be reminded of Betty.

I was looking forward to our road trip that she recently asked me to join her on, to get to know her a little better, and I was also hoping for some wise counsel from her. We never went to pick up that hope chest from her aunt and now we never will. Guess God had other plans, but now she is living the hope she believed in. That's WAY better than any hope chest!

I will miss Betty, and I know many more people whose hearts are broken at her passing. I wonder if there will be that many people at my funeral? One thing is for sure though, we all rejoice in knowing that "her chains are gone, she's been set free!"Casket

(Read Betty's Obituary)

Another observation...

You know, as I leaf through pages of my address book, or even scroll my address book on the computer...I've been noticing that I still have the names of the dead in there. I see Betty's name. I see dead people's names, people I have known and loved. I won't cross them out, or delete them. I'm not sure why...it's not like I can email, or write to them anymore...heck, half the time Betty's email bounced back to me anyway! LOL I was always harassing her about that. I guess it is just one of those things that the older I get the more dead people will be listed in my address books. Maybe I don't want to get rid of them because as I pass by them while looking for other names, there is a moment, a fleeting glimpse of how that person touched my life in some large, or small, but significant way.

What do you do with the names of dead people in your address book?

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Elf Yourself

C'mon, you gotta try it!

I guarantee it will put a smile on your face...you'll see!

CLICK HERE TO ELF YOURSELF!

LOL

I elfed me, my dad, Chief Wahoo, and Ma.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Opinions of Man

When the church is planning the next mission trip, know that you are already committed to yours.

But also know that you will go unnoticed.



When others hoard their earnings, know that you give much away.

But also know that it will be unappreciated.



When you feel selfish because you don't serve more, know that you just need a rest from all the serving you already do.

But also know that you may be judged.



When what you do is unconventional, know that it is in God's will because it serves God's purpose.

But also know that you will be falsely accused and mocked.



When you are drained from trying so hard, know that God is pleased with your effort.

But also know that man will only see your failure.



When you care for others you are reflecting the heart of God,

But also know that man will pervert it.



When you feel unnoticed, underappreciated, judged, falsely accused and mocked. When you feel like a failure and that no matter what good you do, man will only turn it into something perverse, know that it is not the opinions of man that matter.

The only opinion that matters is that of God.

And, it is His opinion that I was worth dying for.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Taps

Today was Veteran's Day.

Thank you veteran's of war...for fighting for the freedoms I enjoy as an American. Thank you families of servicemen and women for your sacrifice as well. Let us never take what you do, and have done, for granted.

Today I was honored to play "Taps" at the conclusion of the concert with the Jackson Symphonic Winds. This was not something I had planned to do, but was asked by the conductor shortly before the start of the program which was patriotically themed in honor of Veteran's Day. He came up with the idea to read the "unofficial" lyrics to taps, and then have me play it.

Taps is not a technical challenge to play, however, what makes it difficult is the fact that it is somber and it is to be played reverently. It's performance commands the attention and focus of an audience, therefore all eyes and ears are on the performer. I was humbled to perform it today.

Tonight, I received one of the best compliments on a performance I have ever received. It had to do with Taps and the email reads "...your taps gave me goose bumps."

Taps
The Wall
Day is done, Gone the sun
From the lakes, From the hills, From the sky
All is well, safely rest.
God is nigh.

Fading light, Dims the sight
And a star, Gems the sky, Gleaning bright
From afar, Drawing nigh,
Falls the night.

Thanks and praise, For our days,
Neath the sun, Neath the stars, Neath the sky,
As we go, This we know,
God is nigh.



Thank you to all veterans!

When I remember what freedom costs, it gives me goosebumps.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Ain't That Cool?

I received an interesting request from someone who saw one of my pictures on Flickr.com, and thought I'd post the email exchange because it is pretty cool! (It has been edited for clarity)

Greetings -

I am a graphic designer with Brightwater Design, Inc, in California. We are creating a photo montage wall display depicting important sites around my client's Cleveland office. When completed, this display will be mounted within their office.

While looking for images on the web, I found one of your photos:

'Jacob's Field 5' on the flickr page:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/susanlprince/530930520/

I would like to include it in our montage. Would you be willing to sell the use of it for this display? If so, how much would it cost? You will retain all copyrights to the photo.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact us.

Thanks!

Brightwater Design, Inc.

Here is my reply to that:

I'm humbled you like the picture I took and would like to use it for the montage.

You may use the picture and instead of me accepting payment for it, I would like to ask if instead, you could donate $100 to University Hospitals of Cleveland in the memory of my aunt Patricia S. Buergin.

She retired from the hospital after having worked as a nurse there from the 1960's until 2001. She died three days after her retirement, due to cancer, and because she gave so much to me and all those she loved, I would greatly appreciate the opportunity to do something meaningful in her name. She loved nursing and devoted much of her life to her patients and staff at University Hospitals of Cleveland. I also know she enjoyed catching a few games at the ball park each season!

University Hospitals of Cleveland has also treated my mom for breast cancer twice, and helped her beat it twice!

I consider Cleveland "home" and I am humbled to think a little picture I took one day while visiting home has drawn any attention at all, so I'd like to "pay it forward" if you will.

Please consider this deal and let me know if it is acceptable.

Here is a link in order to make a donation:

giving.uhhs.com/Donation.aspx?pageID=2

Sincerely,

Susan L. Prince

...and here's what I got back on that $100 request:

Good Morning, Susan.......

Your request is irresistable........ especially since I am a breast cancer survivor myself, since 1983. The donation will be made today. It is good to "pay it forward."

................. Lois Brightwater

AIN'T THAT COOL?

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Jackson Swing Orchestra

The Jackson Swing Orchestra will perform a Holiday Concert at the United Methodist Church in Jackson, TN, Sunday, December 2 at 2:30 p.m. in Clayton Hall.

Jackson Swing Orchestra















Big Band music played in the 40’s-50’s style with professional arrangements.

Can you spot me in the pic? (Back row, 5th from the left)


Monday, October 29, 2007

O * H * I * O

My neice Pilar, and nephew Jack, spell out "O - H - I - O" in this video.

Jack only has the "I - O" part down, so Pilar queues him up and they're off!

Great vid for those OHIO STATE fans!

Enjoy!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Brokenness

Brokenness.Broken Vessel

Brokenness is something I am not experiencing.

Dare I say it is something I want to?

Brokenness is a staple of true maturity in the faith, and when embraced is a most freeing experience. The process of being broken isn't necessary pleasant, and in fact can be very painful, but once embraced, the faithful can prosper in ways that are undescribable.

Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control can never be acheived on human strength alone. These are fruits of the Spirit and only by embracing brokenness can one totally turn themselves over to God. In turning over ourselves, we allow God to do His work in us. In brokenness, like soil being turned, we become fertile ground in which a seed can sprout and fruit can grow and prosper.

Bucking HorseA wild horse bucks the rider off it's bareback, frenzied with fury of unbridled energy, yet once saddled, tamed and ridden, or broken, that beast's energy becomes focused and the horse becomes a useful force. An energized, wild, though immature Christian is less effective in His Kingdom than an energized, mature, focused and broken Christian.

In brokenness we become as clay, soft and ready to be molded into what The Artist intends to create.

I was there once. I was clay. I was a ball of energy focused and determined to please God. I was fertile soil and fruit was growing.

What has happened?

I learned a lot about brokenness while reading Embracing Brokenness: How God Refines Us Through Life's Disappointments, by Alan E. Nelson but possibly the most important thing I learned is that I am not living a life of brokenness. Not even close.

And I'm afraid to pray for it.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Friday, October 19, 2007

Abiding

World on ShouldersTalk about a life of going from one extreme to the other. After spending a year and a half unemployed, I get a full-time job and go back to school full-time. It has been a very long two months of struggles and victories. Keeping things calm, stress free, and orderly is next to impossible! Add the troubles of raising two teenagers as a single mom and you have a recipe for a breakdown!

I love my job. It's a good job, but it's VERY demanding and VERY challenging. It really helps me to focus on how small and helpless I am and WHO is bigger and needs to be on the throne of my life. Too often lately, God has been on the back burner. Every day, He lets me know that He's with me by bringing forth this verse that He has hidden in my heart:
John 15:5 (New American Standard)
I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.
Remaining in Christ is something I have not been very good at. I keep trying to do things myself. I end up stressed out, hopeless, and miserable. Then, I cry out to Him....and my sweet Savior rushes to my rescue...every single time! Why do I have to get to a point of such complete despair before I run to the only One who can help me?

One of the most difficult things for me to do is to trust God. It should be the easiest thing to do. But, I am one of little faith.
Stress
Lord, help my unbelief.

When my faith is small my troubles become huge. When I carry my load alone, it is unbearable. If I want to take another step, I have to let it go. I have to give it to God or I just get buried alive, stuck, trapped, confused and lost in it all....a very frightening and hopeless place to be.

Lord, help my unbelief.

Frequently, Christians throw around the phrase, "God will never put more on you than you can bear". More often than not, the most important part is overlooked....
1 Corinthians 10:13 (NIV)
No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.
...He provides the way out. The WAY is Christ! Our burdens are unbearable in and of themselves. We do NOT have the power to stand up under them alone! We don't! But....our burdens are NOTHING for our Lord. So, why is it so hard to keep Him on the throne? There is a four letter word that says it all....

S E L F

I am so thankful for God's tender mercy...that he never leaves me. When I give in to the temptations of my flesh (stubbornness, pride, self-pity), when I let the things of this life pull me away, He's never far from me. He watches, and calls me back. When I try to fight to get back to Him, the things that took me away still pull at me. But, he never stops reaching for me. He never takes His eyes off of me. When I finally surrender, He steps in and fights the battles for me and in the middle of chaos, I am at peace...content.

My burdens are unbearable but....
Matthew 11:28-30 (New International Version)
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.
Forgiven...His burden is light. Present active participle (that phrase is for Sue). His burden is always light. When we cast our heavy burdens upon Him, they become weightless....all of them...every single time.

I find it amazing that no matter where we are in life, there's always something to keep us from focusing on God. I was unemployed for a year and a half. I could have spent that time in the Word, praying intensly, writing, studying, and building a deeper relationship with my King. Instead, I filled my time with busy work. I kept myself occupied with other things. I even occupied myself with church things...but spent little time alone with God, in His word, or in prayer. I could say it was time wasted. On my part it was. But, God doesn't let anything go to waste. Romans 8:28 says that He works all things for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.

Each time I step on the throne of my life, I am humbled to understanding that it wasn't created for me. The throne belongs to God alone. Every time I fall away, He uses that time to make me see how much I need Him. That turns time wasted into productive growth.
On Christ the Solid Rock I'll stand
All other ground is sinking sand
All other ground is sinking sand

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

No Hug Goodbye

At the airport coming home yesterday morning, Ma and Dee were obviously taking a different flights, and on different airlines. I was coming back to Tennesse, while my mom was going home to Ohio. Our plan was to meet up at my gate, GATE D12 and they were just beyond that at GATE D19. We seperated and started the check in process. As we seperated Ma said "we'll meet you at the gate".

Well, check in took longer than expected, then the security lines were horrendously long. The end result was that I knew Ma wouldn't be meeting me at my gate because it was getting close for her plane to board, so after making it through security (I hate terrorists!) I went up to her gate (which was NOT just beyond mine, but rather, in a different wing! That only complicated things more!). The waiting area was already emptied out and the ticket taker person was there alone. I approached the desk and started to cry because I didn't get a chance to say goodbye to Ma and Dee. There was no hug goodbye.

The woman asked me "are you on this flight?" I stuttered out a "no"...bowed my head and tried to regain my composure during an awkward silence, finally mustered up some strength and through a quivering lip got out "my ..... moooooooom.......is....." The woman saw I was obviously upset, and just then another person came up to get on the plane, which was good because it gave me time to compose myself. I felt so bad. I didn't even get to say "bye" to my mom. She's already on that plane probably bummin' too. I asked the ticket lady if she could go say "bye" for me. She just thought I was nuts I think. I ended up writing my mom a short note on steno pad paper that I had, handed it to the lady, thanked her and walked away. I wondered for hours all the way home if my note made it to Ma.

I kept thinking after I left that note what if mom's plane goes down and her last words to me were "we'll meet you at the gate."....THAT's NOT THE GATE we meant! LOL
As soon as I arrived home, I called my mom and she said she was so touched by that note. "I'm going to keep this forever!". It all worked out...but, I hate that I didn't get a goodbye hug.

I love you Ma! Thanks so much for the trip! I had an excellent time. It was soooooooooooo fun! I enjoyed spending time with you, Dee, and Dawn and everyone. I saw mountains for the first time, and even flew over the Grand Canyon. I was amazed by The Hoover Dam and all those magnificent buildings in Las Vegas. And...We'll have to bowl again sometime! LOL It really was a special time and you spoiled me. Thank you...you and dad are awesome! I am so blessed!

Thanks to those nice people at Continental Airlines that got that note to my mom.

Las Vegas Trip


Mom, Cory, Sue
Originally uploaded by susanlprince
I just returned home from visiting my sister in Las Vegas. We kept ourselves quite entertained going horseback riding, bowling, walking the strip and seeing what all the casinos were about. We even went to see The Hoover Dam...what an amazing sight!

The best part of the trip though was spending time with mom and my sister, and even getting to see my nephew Cory. The last time I saw him he was shorter than me!

Driving around Las Vegas, it was really amazing to see the tall buildings, which basically amount to what man accomplishes. Trump Tower stands as an isolated building in the desert, adorned in gold, with a bold "TRUMP" announcing a triumph of a wealthy man. It must be something to stand back and look at a building with one's name on it. While all those buildings are impressive, nothing impressed me more than the mountains I saw and just the beauty of God's creation.

Man never made a mountain.

See pictures of my Las Vegas Trip HERE.

Gambling for Dana

I won't gamble, but recently while visiting my sister in Las Vegas, my mom showed me the slots. A co-worker had asked me to take $5 and put it in the slot machine for her, but I refused. When I told my mom about that, she offered to play that $5 voucher she had won earlier for Dana. This is a video I created out of that experience.

I don't understand gambling, except that a lot of people who can't afford to throw money away keep making the people, whose names are on a lot of the tall buildings in Las Vegas, even richer.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Houses of Glory

This book I'm reading, "Hullabaloo - Discovering Glory in Everyday Life" by Dr. Timothy Paul Jones, is pointing out that God's glory is found in the hullaballoo of life. In all the every day sort of things. He makes a case that we all are searching for something, always something more. That's me. As Christians we "know" that there's a "God-Shaped hole" in all of us, but we try to fill that hole with needless things. Churches try to fill "needs" of its people with needless things. I've been trying to find God at NB, through "worship", in SaLT, in people, in whatever.

The author of the book says that when the youth at church find themselves in trouble, the solution is often to add more activities to keep them occupied. When church attendance starts slipping, we want to launch exciting new programs. When we aren't baptizing enough people, we find some new evangelism program and do that.

He makes the point that churches have a tendency to provide more and more programs, and Christians buy more and more stuff at Christian bookstores, to help them get what they are longing for, but that no program and no product can fill one's life with the glory for which one was created. Only God can do that. It can be found when we embrace the glory that God has already embedded in the hullaballoo of our present life. He's not saying any of that stuff can't be helpful, but it is only a supplement, and at times serves to blind us from what we really need.

I love going to Women of Faith Conferences because God does speak to me there through the speakers, and the worship, and it is a wonderful experience. A kind of "refresher" in God. I love going to Christian concerts for the same reason. Doing Beth Moore studies, or Experiencing God is good stuff too. While I'm in the midst of those things, it seems I can see God more clearly and I am reminded He is here with me. However, after the concert is over, the conference ends, and the in-depth study ceases, does God leave me? No, He does not, but it feels that way. Dr. Timothy Paul Jones is saying that God's Glory is not in things, or in doings, but actually housed in us. He is there, in the hullabaloo. He has embedded Himself in all things...but we are too busy too notice.

We are so distracted from seeing the glory of God.

Now, check this out. The transfiguration. On that mountain, Peter caught a glimpse of that glory he was craving! And what was the first thing He wanted to do? His response was to build memorials...he wanted to encase the glory of God in tents! But God basically said "whatever Peter, you have no clue!" Now, get this, in John 17:22, a few moments before Jesus was betrayed in the garden He said, praying to the Father, "I have given them the glory that you gave me". "I HAVE GIVEN THEM THE GLORY!" The glory of God is already encased in a tent...IN US! Isn't that cool!???!!!

You see, I've been trying to encase the glory of God in books, in SaLT, in NB, in blogs, in whatever, and never even see God in anything anymore. I go on about my days totally missing Him. I can still remember those first few months of my walk with the Lord. Do you know the sky was bluer? The grass was greener? All the colors of the spectrum were brighter and more brilliant! Nature was alive and buzzing all around me. I could see God in the faces of people I met. Music was sweeter, and the smell of a rose was awe-inspiring! It was because I was looking through "glory-covered glasses" at all of the hullaballoo! God was in everything...in all of the hullabaloo of everyday life. The hullabaloo has been filled with God's presence for the purpose of reminding me that I lived every moment of my life in Him, but now I'm distracted and am blind. Thirsty.

I got way too distracted. Too much brain, not enough heart. I think I've said that before.

Now I need to step away, take a few breaths, and start fresh and new. Possibly a new SaLT? Possibly new other things? I don't know, but I do know that the way things are going is not spiritually healthy for me. I've had a bad attitude for a long time. I've had a critical spirit that has gone beyond being constructive and has only been burying God's glory in me, beneath piles and piles of junk that I don't want anymore. "Stuff" has been taking it's toll and unfortunately, it has been bubbling its way to the surface and comes out in my curt responses to people, and "I don't really care" attitude. Very unChristlike.

God is in the hullabaloo of life on purpose, and I carry Him there, for I am a house of glory.

Here is a powerful, tear-jerker video that I happened across on YouTube that captures a person's struggle to find God and remain close to Him.


Saturday, October 06, 2007

Professionals? Wrote This?

When I first saw this headline, I said to myself, tongue in cheek of course, it probably would have been better for him to have quit before the suicide.

But, then I read the summary line of the article the headline links to and became even more confused? "...the body declined to rezone his property?"

Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat? *shakes head in disbelief*

Poorly Written Headline








Click here to read article...it does make a bit more sense, but really. Couldn't professional journalists have done a slightly better job with that headline? It's a very tragic and sad story.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Go Tribe!

Yeaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhh baby! Way to go Tribe!

Here's the fun part...see the guy in the pic? I'm going to be visiting my sister and Leroy, the *blech* Yankees *blech* fan, next week in Las Vegas.

I am really, really, really hoping to have bragging rights!

I think I've got the fever!

TRIBE FEVER!

Wahoo

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Mad Cart Disease

OH! This video is too funny! I laughed so hard when the "newscaster" said "we should interview her!" You'll see what I mean!

Youtube...now and then you find regular people just being silly and living life.

I hope you get a kick out of this too!

Teachers

We all have those teachers in our lives that helped and still help to make our days better. So many teachers give so sacrificially of their time and even their own money. They are so dedicated to the youth of America and at times they go so unappreciated, but not today.

Today is "A Day Made Better"

A Day Made Better
































Adopt-a-Classroom

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Parents Need to Accept Their Responsibility

My friend Mary took a picture of this sign because we all thought it was so funny!

You should have seen everyone scramble when "last call" was announced! LOL I hope you know I'm only kidding!

This was posted at the food bar at a local restaurant, Barnhills, where we enjoyed a Sunday buffet.

But it is true...parents really should accept the responsibility of accompanying their kids to the bars. Have you ever stood back to watch some of these children at the food bar? Makes me wonder why I still choose to eat from them!
Posted by Picasa

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Glory Defined

What is God's Glory?
God's Glory
What does that mean? Why did Moses ask God to "Show me Your Glory?"

I've only read the introduction and the first chapter of "Hullabaloo" by Dr. Timothy Paul Jones, but have already identified something, that what I am starving for is God's glory to be revealed. Jones defines glory in a new way for me and thought it interesting.

Jones' definition of GLORY: Persistant awareness of God's availability in every moment of my life.

How glorious is it to see God in all things through all moments of life?

God, show me Your glory!

Monday, September 24, 2007

I'm NOT Dead

Barbara pointed out it has been awhile since I last posted. Well, I've been sick with a stubborn cold, my parents were here to visit from Ohio, I was working and rehearsing with the orchestra. When I had down time, I wasn't feeling like blogging. I've still been reading a lot of blogs, commenting and so forth. I've also been dealing with some personal struggles that are getting worked out.

I look forward to posting some this week now that I am starting to feel better and have some things to share.

Thanks everyone for your concerns and prayers. I'm at about 96.47% now!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

I AM SICK!

I AM SICK!

I DON'T FEEL WELL AT ALL!

I FEEL WEAK!

WHY MUST COLD CAPSULES BE PACKAGED IN FULL BODY ARMOR, SEALED IN CONCRETE, AND BURIED SIX FEET UNDERGROUND?

I'm serious here...why are medicines packaged in such a way that it takes a S.W.A.T team to get them out?

GRRRRRRRRRR...I'm so frustrated at this moment!

I Mean This In Love

You gotta see this...thanks to the Reformed Chicks for Blabbing this one! LOL

Yeah, uh-huh...been there!

Friday, September 14, 2007

Blogging Without Letters

September 8th came and went virtually unnoticed, although I did mention to Katie that September 8 marked the 5th blogiversary of Sisters' Weblog: It Bloggles the Mind!

So, yay, Happy Blogday to us.

My computer is one year younger, but it is showing wear. Wonder how many blogs it takes to wear off ALL the letters on the keyboard?
Keyboard with missing letters















Oh, and it looks like it may be time again for another run through the dishwasher...amazing how the camera's flash finds all the crud in the keyboard. I made the pic B&W and small so as to keep the gross factor low. LOL

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Your "Cross" Isn't Meant to be a Burden

Carry Your CrossChristians often assume that to "take up our cross" means simply to carry a burden. When we run into a life trouble, we will say things like "oh, this is just my cross to bear". We basically shrug it off, totally missing the significance of the cross.

Ever consider that the cross is not meant to be a burden? It is meant to cause death.

The cross is meant to kill us!

It is an instrument of death!

Oh that wonderful cross!

Friday, September 07, 2007

Ahhhh....FINALLY!

The Jackson Symphony Orchestra called to ask me to perform for their next concert an exTreme Classical Makeover with the Capital Quartet, a saxophone quartet "specializing in Innovative Orchestral Pops". I always jump at an opportunity to perform with the orchestra!

After I received my music folder, I thumbed through it to see what all I was going to be learning and performing. There's some great stuff in there! But, one piece stands out to me because of some personal history.

When I was a freshman at Highland High School, Scott Nelson, our band director at that time, challenged us to learn the 4th Movement of Shostakovich's Symphony No. 5. It was a huge undertaking and I never practiced for something so hard in my life up until that time. (Listen to the 28 second intro)

TrumpetIt was such a team building experience because everyone in the band was challenged to learn an extremely difficult piece of music for our level of playing, but as we rehearsed and listened to ourselves, we truly were rising to the occasion. Being a freshman, I was also very motivated to learn the part and prove myself to the upperclassmen.

After weeks of practicing on our own, and rehearsing as a group, we were on our way to raising some eyebrows and blowing the audience away with our performance. It was something every band member was looking forward to and one of those sweet moments that one anticipates after so much hard work and effort went into it.

Well, a week before the performance, tragedy struck me. I had a bike accident.

I was out riding my bike which was not unusual for me at that time, when I noticed my mom, Gram and sisters coming up the road from running Saturday morning errands. She stopped and through the passenger side window we held a short conversation, and I don't even remember the topic. Anyway, as mom started to pull away, I had a "great" idea...I was going to race her home!

Over the HandlebarsYeah! Great idea! So I stood up on the bike to really put my weight into the foot that would pump the pedal of my bike. On the third pump, my foot suddenly slipped off the pedal when the chain on my bike popped off. My foot hit the ground with great force and the frame of my bike was halted in an instant. However, I was not! I kept moving forward with the bike falling with me. I went right over the handlebars and hit the rough gravel and tar pavement chin first and then proceeded to kiss the ground.

Mom thought she had hit me because I fell out of her line of vision, to the front right of the car. She just saw me go down. A neighbor who witnessed this accident told us she thought, "Oh my God, she hit her!". But, that was not the case, nope, it was all me and a bike that malfunctioned.

When I managed to untangle myself from the bike wreckage, I stood up, and hurried somewhat frantically to the backdoor of the car to get in, but both my sisters only saw the bloody pulp that was once my face and freaked. They both slid across to the other side of the car, backing away from me, frightened of the sight they beheld. Well, the door was locked! I couldn't get in! Someone finally unlocked the door and we headed home.

I spent that afternoon in the ER of Medina County Hospital. Thankfully I did not get any stitches, but instead was "taped" up. My chin was pretty cut up, but the worst was my upper lip. My lip was split right down the middle.

I remember not being able to smile or laugh because it was open up the cut in my lip. I used to hold the tape on my lip any time I would smile and that is just no way to live! The worst part was that I was injured and would not get to play Shostakovich 5! I was so brokenhearted.

It is really a drag to work so hard on something, have it within your grasp, and then watch it drift away in an instant. I went to the concert and supported my band mates while they put on an awesome performance without me. I've always felt like I missed out on something great by not performing with the band that day.

But, now, I get another chance! 27 years later on Saturday, September 22, 2007, I will perform Shostakovich with the Jackson Symphony Orchestra! Sweet! FINALLY!

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Evangelism Tracts

Yesterday while in Memphis, Katie and I ate lunch at Bob Evans. While we were waiting for our food to arrive, the couple across from us finished and got up to leave.

The woman came over to our table and introduced herself to us and said "I go to a church, just across the way, with those three big crosses. (And they are BIG! A lot taller than any nearby structure in that area! As we drove by we were remarking as to why they really needed to be THAT big? These are on the campus of the megachurch, Bellevue Baptist Church, in Memphis, TN, that Adrian Rogers once pastored.)Three Crosses at Bellevue Church

I said "yes, 'Fort God'" (I realized immediately maybe that was uncouth to say, and could have been offensive.)

She laughed and said "Yes! That is what it's been nicknamed by a lot of people, especially pilots flying over the campus!" She wasn't offended at all!

She then went to hand me a Bible tract and explained that "this will tell you how to know for sure you are going to Heaven".

I said "I already know I'm going to Heaven! We are sisters!" Then she asked "you are Christians?" and we said yes. After a short conversation, she turned around to the waitress and said "well, then, maybe I should just give this to you" and handed her the tract while giving her the same spiel she gave me.Bellevue Church

After the woman left Katie made a point as to how easy it is to just go around and hand out tracts.

I responded and said "at least she is doing it. What are we doing?"

Katie said "well, we try to build relationships and tell people about what God is doing in our lives."

But then we wondered, how often do we really get to the "meat" of the story...or doing we just default to "we are building relationships".

From a previous posts on tracts:
I have a thing about tracts. I think there is a proper way to use them, and an improper way. To me, a tract should be used as a "springboard" to a conversation. It should not be left on the floor! Have you seen those tracts that are made to look like a $10 bill? A person reaches down thinking "jackpot!" and suddenly realizes they've been duped. How is that effective? It gets tossed aside, that's all.

Now, do I believe God can use that $10 fake bill, or the tracts littering my store on occasion to prick the heart of the non-believer? Yes, but is this what Jesus had in mind when he said "Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation"? I think He meant what He said...he said "GO! PREACH!" Not, go leave tracts in hopes that someone will find it and get saved! I think dropping tracts all around is cowardly, and people use this way of "preaching the Good News" to ease their own conscience. Somehow it makes some people feel like they are following the command to go and preach, or to be a witness.
It just really hit me that this woman from the mega church that we jokingly refer to as "Fort God", which basically belittles it, was passing out tracts and witnessing, when we just sat there comfortable in our "building relationships" strategy.

I also wondered if it is possible that restaurant servers are evangelised more than anybody else? It's pretty easy to leave a "tip" for the server and then be on our way.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Katie Lives

Yes, I am actually posting at the Sisters' website. Most of my blogging has been through MySpace lately. You can go there to catch up on what's been going on in my life (as if anyone actually would want to do that LOL).

Well, so far I am faring well in this juggling act I've been performing for the last few weeks. I am home for only a short time in between the kid's school activities and work. Soon, I'll be starting classes myself. I'm working hard these days and often....and I'm LOVING IT! I have the most awesome job and I work with the most godly and lovable people.

I'm sad to report that I'm gaining weight because everytime I turn around I'm attending a breakfast, luncheon or banquet of some sort. In between there's candy and snacks at every corner. I'm beginning to see where the term "Freshman 20" came from!

Last Thursday night there was a banquet style faculty/staff dinner. On Saturday morning we (faculty, staff, Freshmen, and their families) worked in 100+ degree heat helping the students move into their dorms. I LOVED IT! HOW EXCITING! I got to talk to the parents about their kids moving out for the first time. I heard so many neat stories from so many moms, dads, and kids. They were all so appreciative of our help. I did start feeling sick after awhile because it got so hot. So, I went inside and helped sell tickets for the Student Life cookout that afternoon. The Student Life team provided the workers with pizza, chips and cookies for lunch.

On Saturday evening I returned to attend the chapel service to pray over the students and their families as they spent their last few tear-filled moments together before going their separate ways for the first time. (I'm tearing up just thinking about it since my son will be a Freshman in college next year).

On Sunday my department hosted a dinner for the first part of the student orientation. On Monday we had the faculty/staff luncheon. On Monday night I attended orientation for my upcoming night classes. There we had a light dinner of pizza and cookies and last but not least, this morning we had breakfast with the Freshmen.

Aside from all the eating, our office is moving to a new location in the school so things have been a bit up in the air lately. We are currently in the process of unpacking our new AWESOME office with a GREAT view! I can't wait until everything is up and running and we have some sort of a regular routine going again. I'm also excited about the new student workers that will be coming next week! I CAN'T WAIT! I'll finally have the opportunity to feel somewhat caught up again. Wooohooo!!!!

Okay so this blog is boring. Sorry, but this has been my life. It's not boring for me by a long shot! For all my friends who are wondering what I've been up to and why I haven't been online...there you have it!

Life is good (in spite of this summer cold I'm suffering from). I am very happy (even if it's an exhausted happy). I am praising God every single day for blessing me to overflowing with this wonderful new job. I LOVE seeing the kids walking around the campus. I love talking to them, helping them, and just being there for them. God really did put me right where He knew I would thrive.

My supervisors are pleased with my work and I have the utmost respect and admiration towards them. They are wonderful people!!!!!!!!!!

Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

The Least of These

Homeless ChristRecently I was given the news that longtime friends of our family lost their son in an automobile accident. He was a passenger in an SUV that went off the highway. Eric was 48 years old and was an alcoholic and homeless. His chosen life path broke the heart of his parents. All these years his parents were able to keep in contact with him through visits and on occasion would give him money when he needed some, although as you might imagine, it was wasted on alcohol and whatever else. A few weeks before his death, his mother asked Eric if there was something he could change about his life what would it be? We were all puzzled by his response, he said "nothing, I'm happy with my life".

Eric was quite a few years older than I was, so I remember very little about him growing up. I knew him to be a "nice guy" and was the older brother of a friend of mine, and a girl I grew up playing softball with. It was still always so sad to hear that Eric was an alcoholic and homeless, and I could never really grasp how someone could just waste their life that way...someone that I knew!

My mom forwarded an email that Eric's mother sent. He had some things in storage, which his parent's obviously paid for, and so they had to clean that all out. They also learned something about their son that helped to ease some of the pain from his death, as well as the pain of the life he chose.

With permission, I'm posting an excerpt of the letter from Eric's mom:
Spent Tuesday in Tampa at the Crematory, Eric's storage bin, and a visit to his neighborhood. It was an exhausting day physically & emotionally. We did it all in one day & returned home by 8PM. In his neighborhood we had a WONDERFUL conversation with the cafe' and thrift shop manager that is across from the car wash where he worked. She hunted us down as she said she HAD to talk to us to tell us what all Eric did for them, willingly and lovingly. She had to let us know how he was so loved in the neighborhood. She & her father-in-law went on & telling of many wonderful things he did. Three days before the accident, he helped another guy in 100o heat to put on a metal roof on his newly purchased building. All this did our hearts good as (you know) we saw only the alcohol & its results. They have a ministry for "rejuvenating" girls. They have taken (only 6 at a time) fed & housed them to get them off the street. One is now earning her masters degree & another is in her third year of nurses training. Its religiously based and they certainly live the true Christian life. The girls stay there & help with the other new girls. They want to open (in the future) a men's quarters and Eric was going to be one of the clients. When she opens the men's branch, it will be in Eric's name. She said "You certainly did a great job of raising him to be a very loving person. They also said he was a spiritual person and would always bless them with the sign of the cross. I think the "Princes" had a hand in that development and we thank you for the time you devoted to the Search program which he really loved!!
We all saw a wasted life of someone so capable of more. We saw the alcohol, the homelessness, but God saw something different.

This is from the "personal" note Eric's mom, Irene added to her email to my mom:
Eric was involved in working for this group which was housed across the street where he lived. We have met the directors several times and they are truly Christian loving people. The internet states "Meeting the spiritual, emotional, physical, and academic needs of troubled women". She couldn't praise Eric enough for all he did for the organization. We learned a lot more about him. This organization is now for women only but they hope to expand it into a mens program also. She said Eric was so excited about that prospect that when she does open it, it will be in his honor.

All this has shown us that we are using the wrong measuring stick for "success". After hearing what we heard abour Eric and witnessed what they are doing, that is success!!
I guess we ALL have a tendency to use the "wrong measuring stick".
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.'
When we have no "use" for the least of these, God is raising them up, using them to minister.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Sex as a God

I couldn't help but overhear some rather loud women in the parking lot when I went to lunch today. They were apparently people who knew each other, but hadn't seen one another in awhile, so they were catching up.

Woman 1: "My son has two kids"

Woman 2: (Surprised) "WHAT?!! Two kids?" (By the way the woman reacted, it got my attention and I turned to look to see two women, probably no older than lower-thirties. I was struck that she looked awful young to have grandkids!)

Woman 1: "Yep. 3 months and 8 months."

(Yeah. I'm sure both of those babies will be well cared for. I also noticed Woman 1 didn't say "I have two grandkids.")

I continued past them and into the restuarant and while their voices were trailing off, Woman 1 was rattling off the mothers names of those kids.

Remarkable.

If only the world sought after God like it does sex.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Thank God

The kids just returned from a party with other kids from their school.

Usually when kids come home from a party they can't stop talking about all the fun. I called Justin when it was getting late to ask where they were (some of my anal not-the-mom behavior prompts me to do these things) and he said "pleeeaaase tell us that we have to come home. I'm having the worst night of my life." So I said "you have to come home now".

Then, Tif, a freshmen this year, being the first in the door said "I really looked up to some of those people, seniors, but I'm so disappointed."

Apparently these chaperoned kids were behaving in less than modest ways.

Thank God He has helped Katie raise her kids to know better and be disgusted by inappropriate dress and behavior. They aren't perfect, but considering the situations other teens end up in, Justin and Tif have good heads on their shoulders. God is watching over them, and growing them.

We'll always be praying they make right choices, and so far, most of the time they do. It is surreal to raise kids, and in my case help to raise another's, and then let them go off and be themselves. On one hand you are scared to death...scared because he's a young driver, scared because you can't watch every move they make and be there to protect them, scared because you KNOW what it is like to be young and face the temptations of kids, especially these days...oh the kind of trouble kids can find. Then, on the other hand, you must let go...little by little they gain their independence. You have to trust them, but all you can do is trust that they are kids and will make mistakes! You pray they won't be big ones! You have to trust that God is protecting them when you can't. You have done all you know to do to train them in the way they should go. You feel good at the same time because of your influence, your kids are able to go into the world, albeit still with boundaries set by a parent, but they are learning. They are able to go out, be successful in their endeavors, and make one proud.

I'm having one of those "not-the-mom" proud moments.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Reasons To Quit Being a Christian

Peter wrote two letters that listed at least a dozen reasons why the Christians he was writing to would want to quit. These reasons apply today as well:
  • We live like refugees, like strangers in the world, scattered throughout the earth (I Peter 1:6)
  • We "suffer grief in all kinds of trials" (I Peter 1:6)
  • We are falsely accused, blamed for things we never did (I Peter 2:12)
  • We are subjected to brutal working conditions (I Peter 2:18-19)
  • We are punished for doing good (I Peter 3:13ff)
  • We are enticed to sin by those around us (I Peter 4:3)
  • We are abused and insulted when we won't join the sin of others (I Peter 4:4)
  • We are punished for following Jesus (I Peter 4:12)
  • We are harassed and threatened by the devil himself, who want to eat us alive (I Peter 5:8ff)
  • We are surrounded by false teachers trying to mislead us (2 Peter 2)
  • We are mocked by neighbors who find our faith naive and deluded (2 Peter 3:3ff)
  • We are disappointed with God, who seems to be slow in keeping His promises (2 Peter 3:9ff)
When I look at the list, I can say I have experienced a bit of everything listed there to some degree. Granted, I've never faced persecution from a government or feared death for my faith, but I have been ridiculed and mocked and often wonder why God is so slow in keeping His promises.

Peter understood, more than most, what being a Christian means and he wrote to those people to encourage them. He wrote to urge them to persevere.

Two PathsMark Buchanan, author of Hidden in Plain Sight, points out that following Jesus was not a great career move. It rarely enhances reputations or brings about new opportunities. It is not known to make anyone rich, or popular, or influential. It usually has the opposite effect and turns people into oddities and outsiders, "objects of ridicule, lightning rods of suspicion, targets of abuse."

It's fairly easy to wonder why anyone would even want to be a Christian. It's much easier to quit than to endure ridicule, slander and abuse. Why stick with something that is "wrecking your life?"

And then Peter says "persevere!"

Mark Buchanan makes this observation:
The most obvious and overlooked thing about perseverance is that it only makes sense if you're heading in the right direction. If you're not, you're a fool to persist. If you are, you're a fool to quit, no matter how hard the journey. If you have found the one road that leads to life, stay the course."
The Christian life can be grueling, but it is the only road to home. It is the only road with the eternal prize. It is the road to life. Choose Life!

Friday, August 17, 2007

Should We Hold Non-Christians Accountable?

Mark, over at Hot Coffee, asks "Should Christians hold non-Christians Accountable?", should we hold them to the Christian standard of living?

Good question! Tough to answer!!! I started posting a comment, then my comment ran so long, I decided to post it here instead, so as to not monopolize Mark's comment box and also to keep things going on around here.

Here's my response:

We can't expect non-believers to live up to the same standard expected of Christians. Marcie's example about feeding an infant is a good one.
We don't give an infant a plate with real food on it and expect them to eat it. Why do we expect non-believers to hold to the principles that believers do? They don't have the same tools. They don't have Christ in their hearts, they aren't submitting their life daily to God's will.

There are however certain things, BIG things, we do need to hold non-believers accountable for, and most governments do, and is accepted by the majority of humankind: One would be murder. God says "Do not murder" and we punish those who do.Handcuffs

Human's recognize how detrimental the act of murder is on society, therefore it is unacceptable to humans as it is to God.

Even though murder is considered wrong by most, and murderers are punished...there are those who seek to make that all relative. Consider the terrorist, murder to them is not considered murder at all, but a kind of ritual. The sanctity of life just doesn't exist for them, not for their own life, and not for the lives of innocents.

We have the same issue with abortionists. I wonder sometimes why we have a government adamant about fighting terrorism, but not so much about fighting those who bring terror to the womb?

Most humans, Christian or not, believe marriage to be between male and female. Unfortunately, a minority of people are raising such a ruckus, people are starting to get confused (satan) and the whole homosexuality thing is getting way more attention than it should have. I think the majority of humans also recognize that homosexuality is, like murder, detrimental to society as a whole and that is why throughout human history, it has been unaccepted by society as a whole. There would be plenty on non-Christians voting to ban homosexual marriage. I don't think the marriage amendment is so much about holding non-believers to God's standard, but rather protecting the marital union and society in general. One could also say that pornography, which by the way is a huge issue in the church these days, and even worse, child-pornography, is also detrimental to society, and to marriage. Most non-believers would even agree to that which is why there are secular laws on the books that forbid it.

One could actually argue that marriage, and the ceremony around that, is holding people to the standard of a Judeo-Christian tradition and belief. Marriage is representative of Christ's devotion and love for His Bride, the Church, so, if we aren't holding non-believers to God's standard, why do people marry anyway?

Since I now live my life as a Christian, I have a totally different worldview. I can remember listening to certain songs back in the day and I loved them. I'd sing them at the top of my lungs, and when they come on the radio today (which rarely happens because I don't listen to much secular music radio ever anymore) and I start singing along, I can't believe my ears! (Not because I sing bad) but because of what I'm saying! The other day I was rocking out to an AC/DC song and was like WHOA! I was "editing" out all the BAD stuff and found myself singing very little! Totally unacceptable to be listening to it, but before I was a Christian, there was absolutely NO conviction whatsoever.

Television...I don't pay for cable, so I get WBBJ (local ABC affiliate), that's it. Most of what is on TV is so bad it is ridiculous. We watch DVDs of old wholesome shows like The Walton's, Little House on theAlert for children Prairie, and some other things like M*A*S*H and the Dick Van Dyke Show, but one day we popped in Doogie Houser MD. I remember liking that show back then, but now, I can't even watch it for all the sex talk! It is sooooo inappropriate and I never even noticed that in my non-Christian days and would have resented someone telling me it was bad. I went and traded it in for something much better.

God sees consequences for certain behavior and therefore gives us standards to live by that will keep us happy, healthy and safe. Like a parent setting rules for children to live by: "Don't play in the street". Parent's know what could happen if the child disobeys, but the kids don't see it that way, they see it as an infringement on their "fun".

I think that as believers, we have learned to better see things as God does...not perfectly like He does, who can, but with more discernment. We do see the consequences of certain things and therefore are obligated to protect fellow man...through punishment for crime, and/or through laws like banning homosexual marriage. God's Law was written for the Isrealites to protect them and teach them how to live, now we Christians have the Holy Spirit writing God's Law on our hearts. We know that a man reaps what he sows, and we can see one reaping destruction. We should do what we can to keep that from happening. This is doing good for all people (Galatians 6)...even though it is not seen that way to the non-believer, neither is the punishment for the child who played in the street.

To turn the tables a bit, I would also like to offer this thought...how does the Bible teach us to treat believers when they fall into sin and refuse to let it go?
Matthew 18:17
"If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector."
This verse speaks volumes to me about a believer who is behaving as a non-believer. We are instructed to do what we can to bring a believer back into fellowship, but if the efforts fail, we are to treat that person as a pagan...a non-believer. This doesn't mean shun, this means treat with mercy, compassion and love, but the brother/sister relationship is invalid until that person is restored to fellowship, by recommitting to his/her relationship with the Lord.

So, yes, we should hold them accountable and treat them as a pagan, with mercy, compassion and love. This is hating the sin and loving the sinner.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

The "Can I Try Your Crutches" Church

I've really been doing a lot of thinking on transparency in the Church these days. I thought of this analogy and you can tell me what you think about it.

crutchesRemember back in school when someone would hop in on crutches because they broke their leg or sprained an ankle? There were always students flocking to that person to find out what happened. They wanted the "inside scoop". Some of those gathered seemed to always ask "can I try your crutches?" and then they would have their fun playing around with those sticks that helped their friend with the broken foot walk. After a while the novelty of using those crutches goes away, and so do the "friends".

To some kids, all that extra attention at the onset of the injury probably felt good. Suddenly they were noticed by other people and made to feel special.

As we grow up, we learn quickly and at times painfully, that those who "want to try our crutches", don't really care about us...they just want in on the drama. Once the "drama" ceases, so does the attention and the "caring". In kids, physical injuries usually heal in a short amount of time and will then be forgotton...as adults, the emotional and spiritual injuries we endure, don't go away quickly at all.

As adults in churches, we do the same as the kids wanting to "try the crutches". We flock to the person newly divorced and hurting, but as time goes by and the person still hurts, we lose interest and move on to something more exciting. It's too depressing to be around a hurting person for long periods of time anyway. We want to "try the crutches", but we don't want to "be the crutch". I think sometimes God asks us to "be the crutch", but we don't have the endurance.

When someone is brave enough to be transparent, and confesses a sin, many will flock to that person out of care and concern. There is immediate attention brought to that situation, but what happens after the drama dies down? What happens when the "fun" of trying the crutches is over?

Are we as a Body, ready to invest in the lives of each other? Are we ready to "be the crutch"? Carrying a burden of a sister or brother in Christ doesn't just mean you are going to pray for them. It should mean you will invest in them. Jesus was the ultimate investment in us, He is the crutch!

Heatwave

Heatwave

This is the weather channel's 10-day forecast for our area. Ugh. No relief in sight.

The A/C went in Justin's car yesterday.

So far the A/C is going strong in the other vehicles and the house.

Thank God for the A/C.

Friday, August 10, 2007

The Church Can't Handle Transparency!

I often think about what it means to be transparent as a Christian. I have posted about it before, and lately, while doing a study on small groups, I've come to realize that much of the church body just can't handle transparency.

Transparency requires us to live our lives out in the open. This allows Christians to share each others burdens. When you share a burden, it becomes lighter, just like having someone help you carry a heavy box. We are to pray for each other and encourage one another. We should not judge another's behavior, but rather love them and help restore them to Christian fellowship and walk beside them as they attempt to adjust their life to live according to God's principles.

While I do try to live a life pleasing to the Lord, and I try to be the same person at home, work, and church...am I really? Am I really the same person? Obviously different "sides" of my personality or character will show depending on the environment I am in, but in the end, would all those "pieces" of me join to show the real me? Who I really am in Christ?

I do not share my burdens with my brothers and sisters. I figure people have their own burdens and don't need to hear mine. Is the opposite of that true too? Do I really want to hear other people sharing their burdens?

What do we really know about the spiritual needs of other people in our churches? I think to some extent we all hide behind our stained-glass masquerades. Why do we do this? Are we afraid to be judged? Yes...I think we are.

We are afraid that people will see how pathetic we are.

God sees how pathetic we are. We can't help but be transparent to Him. He sees right through our masquerade.

What would a church look like that lived transparently? Would sin vanish? No, it would not vanish, but it also wouldn't be hidden away and we wouldn't pretend it didn't exist. In fact, only when we acknowledge sin, can we be saved from it.

Our churches are crippled from a lack of transparency. The church can't handle transparency!