Thursday, December 29, 2011

Echoes of the Kingdom

     Okay, most people who know me are aware that sometimes I tend to overcommit. (I can’t actually hear you, but know some of you are saying that may be the understatement of the century.) This past year I’ve used the word “no” more often without feeling guilt. I’ve tried to organize better and stay on schedule in order to make the most of my time.  Overall, most would agree that organizing and sticking to a schedule are admirable traits.  I think this is true, if we are careful not to be so organized and scheduled to miss out on the opportunities to share God’s love.     
     The other day I heard a quote on the radio that made me stop and think.  The DJ was sharing about a band member of The Fray visiting Rwanda and talking with a woman who survived the genocide and was sharing her story.  The band member made the comment that when he was holding her hand, he couldn’t distinguish between her heartbeat and his.  Brent Hansen, the DJ, commented, “When you take time to hear people’s stories, you might hear echoes of the Kingdom of God in places you don’t expect.” Wow…something as simple as listening to someone’s story can put you in a Kingdom perspective and let you live out being the hands and feet of God.
     Since I heard that quote, I’ve seen it in action a couple of times.  A friend shared how busy her day was and how excited she was to be running “on schedule” but actually dumped her schedule to invite someone to sit down and chat during a lunch break.  Those few minutes turned out to be a precious time of fellowship.  I had the opportunity to get a little “off schedule” and chat with an elderly lady whose husband has been ill.  I didn’t know her, but I believe our encounter was ordained to encourage us both with the mercies of God.
   Yes, I will continue to exercise my use of the word “no.” Now, however, I will be watching for the chance to hear echoes.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Born in the Wrong Century

     In The Inconvenient Marriage of Charlotte Beck: a Novel by Kathleen Y’Barbo, Charlotte Beck is a headstrong, independent, often immature only child born in a time when women are suppose to get married, have children, and tend to family responsibilities.  This creates numerous collision points with her family and society in which she must sometimes strike a few bargains to achieve her goals.  At first, Charlotte was hard for me to like because of her selfish attitudes.  As I got into the book, it was evident that many of her escapades may have been motivated by selfish desires, but they also portray her as person struggling to find her way. I enjoyed the foreshadowing provided by the quotes by Miss Pence, Charlotte’s etiquette teacher, at the beginning of each chapter. 
     The book is an easy, fun read.  There isn’t really a deep spiritual content, but the importance of a relationship with Christ is important to Charlotte’s father as he “interviews” her prospective husband.  This questioning prompts the young man to examine his faith, and isn’t that what we all need to do daily? The discussions some of the characters have about arranged marriages, I feel, gave an accurate portrayal of some of the arranged marriages from the historical old west. Although this is the third in “The Women of the West” series, it doesn’t require knowledge of the first two stories to understand. 
     I received The Inconvenient Marriage of Charlotte Beck: a Novel for free from Multnomah Publishing in exchange for my honest review.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Great Suspense

Indelible by Kristen Heitzmann is a suspenseful read in which finding a “good” stopping place is almost impossible.  Being a teacher, I wasn’t quite clear of the meaning of the word “indelible,” so I looked it up.  According to Webster, it means something that cannot be removed or washed away and is lasting.  Natalie has dealt with eidetic (similar to photographic memory) images since childhood.  She doesn’t just “see” people, she sees their innermost being and it sometimes overwhelms her to the point of temporary blindness.  To deal with her gift/curse, she sculpts to get the pictures out of her head.  These sculptures are not put on display, but acts as a type of release for her.  When her nephew is rescued from the mouth of a mountain lion by Trevor, the wilderness outfitter next door to her gallery, Natalie becomes the one person who may be able put the pieces together in order to figure out who is behind the bizarre and disturbing pictures of children in danger being sent to Trevor.  I love good suspense stories, but appreciated this one even more because of the depth of characters and how Heitzmann used excerpts from Milton’s Paradise Lost to let the reader glimpse into a mind waging the battle between good and evil.  Being introduced to several characters sometimes gets confusing, but in Indelible you are given enough information about the characters and see them interact so they become familiar and have you looking forward to another book in which one of them might be the main character. Although Indelible is the second book in a series, it is a great stand alone read.
I received Indelible by Kristen Heitzmann for free from Multnomah Publishing in exchange for my review.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Spiritual Abundance Through Abiding

   I hesitated to start this book because I thought I already was familiar enough with the vine and branches illustration.  While at a conference, I won a tour of a vineyard, so I thought, “Are you trying to tell me something, Lord?”  Before reading this book I knew a vineyard grew grapes and produced wine.  I was aware of the illustration Jesus used in John 15, but never really thought much about it aside from the branches needing the vine to survive and thrive.  Secrets of the Vine for Women by Darlene Marie Wilkinson provides an understanding of the levels of fruitfulness of the Christian walk and the way to truly abide in Christ.  Using portions of a fictional story of a vinedresser’s daughter and her visit to her father’s vineyard, Wilkinson draws the parallels between the development of a vineyard with the development of fruit in a believer’s life.  The book is an easy read, but I would suggest it be taken a chapter at a time in order to let the truths revealed in each page take root in your life.  There is a study guide provided that lends itself to both individual and group study.  The book discusses fruit, more fruit,and much fruit (There is a difference!); pruning and its benefits; and abiding deeply.  In practical terms, Wilkinson explains these “secrets” so each can be lived out daily to have a more intimate walk with Christ.  There is a chart that summarizes the three seasons in God’s vineyard.  This book would appeal to the woman just beginning her faith journey as well as the woman who has traveled with Christ for years and desires to walk closer to Him daily.
   I received thsi book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

A Strong Woman vs. A Woman of Strength

   So, it's summer and I've been doing a lot more reading.  Last week I finished the book Disaster Status by Candace Calvert.  It's a medical drama-type fiction book.  The main character is a nurse who has a very strong personality and likes to be in charge.  She has a hard time letting anyone else do anything and tends to sometime be a little overprotective of her family.  She's a Christian, but has a hard time really letting God be God and take care of things.  Yes, she sounds a little like me...everything except the nurse part.
   At one point in the book, she discovers a gift her grandmother has for her.  It is a framed copy of a poem called "A Woman of Strength."  I looked for this particular version, but didn't find it as it was written in the book, so I copied it from the book.  It didn't give an author.  I thought it was worth sharing:

     A strong woman works out everyday...but a woman of strength kneels to pray, keeping her soul in shape.
     A strong woman isn't afraid of anything...but a woman of strength shows courage in the midst of her fear.
     A strong woman won't let anyone get the best of her...yet a woman of strength gives her best to everyone.
     A strong woman makes mistakes and avoids the same for tomorrow...A woman of strength realizes life's mistakes, thanking God for the blessings as she capitalizes on them.
     A strong woman walks head first with no doubt in her mind...but a woman of strength knows God will catcher her when she falls.
     A strong woman wears the look of confidence on her face...but a woman of strength wears grace.
     A strong woman has faith that for the journey she'll have enough...but a woman of strength knows it's in the journey she will become strong.

   After reading that, I have one more line to add:

     A strong woman asks, "What would Jesus do?" and does it...but a woman of strength asks, "What would Jesus do?" and before she does it asks, "How would Jesus do it?"

Feel free to add more in the comments section!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011


   No, don't worry; I won't be quoting Shakespeare.  This week's Bible study has me pondering names.  Can you guess what we're studying?  Think lists of names...genealogies...  We started I Chronicles.  I have to say, when I knew I & II Chronicles were coming up in our study, I wasn't thrilled.  I remember reading (or I guess I should say skimming) list after list of who begot who and whose father was who.  This time, however, I have a little better perspective.
   I've been reading the scripture readings on my Kindle in The Message version.  In his introduction to Chronicles, Eugene Peterson says, "Holy history is not constructed from impersonal  forces or abstract ideas; it is woven from names- persons, each one unique." Each name list is for a purpose, for a reason.
   In Adventuring Through the Bible, Ray Stedman says the genealogies are important for two reasons. One reason is to figure out Bible chronology.  The second is " to show God's plan in working through human beings to achieve His purposes." (Stedman, p.190)  Stedman goes on to point out how some people, although considered great in history, are only given a few verses, while others are covered in great detail.  The difference is some are more obedient than others.  God appears to dismiss those who human history may rank high according to human views, but do not have hearts aligned with His.
   This time as I read, instead of skimming, I looked at each name.  Oddly enough, I actually recognized some of the names as either "good" or "bad" kings and people who were mentioned in other portions of scripture.  (On a side note: I came across the name Kenaniah, my all-time favorite guy name.  Kenaniah was the Levite in charge of music/singing in the Temple. Petra, a vintage Christian rock group, had a song called "Kenaniah." )
    Saw a t-shirt.  The front said, "Christianity is not a religion."  The back said, "RELIGION IS HUMANS trying to work their way to God. CHRISTIANITY IS GOD, coming to men and women through a relationship with Jesus Christ."  Those men and women have names.  I'm not going to be skimming through the lists anymore!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Coincidence? Not!

     I don't believe in coincidences.  I believe everything happens for a reason (even if I don't always know that reason). Some people call those things that apparently happen "Godcidences."  One of those happened to me today.
     May 24th is my anniversary of sorts.  Four years ago today, I had a surgery that made me cancer free.  This evening I was reading scripture in preparation for my Bible study tomorrow evening.  I've been really busy packing my classroom, so I got a late start on reading the first thirteen chapters of II Kings.  I think I was reading exactly what I was suppose to read, exactly when I was suppose to read it.  You see, I remember vividly the scripture I read for my devotion the morning I received my cancer diagnosis.  It was  II Kings chapter 6. 
     In this chapter God causes an iron axhead to float and delivers an entire army into the hands of an unarmed prophet. I remember that morning when the question asked, after listing the amazing things God did, "Is there anything God cannot do?" I quickly thought, "Well, no, of course not!" When I heard the words, "It is cancer," that evening from my primary care doctor, I was reminded of my devotion from that morning and experienced peace as I tried to wrap my mind around what I'd just heard and prepare for the fight.
     Tonight, as I sat with my nephews while my sis kept a watch on the weather, I read over those same scriptures and was reminded of my experience from four years ago.  I shared with my nephews about the scriptures and they were wowed by the fact I didn't plan to read that particular passage, but did on my anniversary. I was wowed, too.  God continues to remind me that no matter what it is...cancer, storms, things seen, things unseen...there is nothing God cannot do.
     Thanks, God! I needed that reminder!

The Beat Goes On!

     No, this won't be a post about Sonny & Cher. (For those of you who are wondering who Sonny & Cher are, just ignore my attempt at humor.) The beat I'm talking about is my heart.  We just finished studying the circulatory and respiratory systems.  Some of my students used stethoscopes and heard their heartbeats for the first time.  I loved seeing their eyes light up and the expressions of wonder on their faces when they heard and were concentrating on the beat...lub, dub...lub, dub... 
     I'm very thankful for my heartbeat, especially today.  I celebrated my "cancerversary" (A term coined by one of my students). It's the fourth anniversary to be cancer free!  I celebrated with my class today.  The school where I teach is very supportive of the American Cancer Society's Relay For Life.  I used the slogan from Relay...Celebrate, Remember, Fight Back to share a little about my journey with students and how they can lower their risk of getting cancer.
    The first thing we did was CELEBRATE.  I told students how much I appreciated their support during our fundraising efforts and how important it is to let people know you love and appreciate them.  We also had cupcakes to celebrate.
     We REMEMBERED by watching the Relay Photostory from 2010.  Then we took a look at a slideshow of this year's Relay event. Several of our school's students were featured in the pictures.  One of the students from my homeroom class, a fellow survivor, appeared in the pics and students didn't realize he was a survivor.  Students also had a chance to share about family and friends with cancer.
     Students learned how to FIGHT BACK.  Many of the students had participated in several of the fundraisers...Think Pink basket, Water Bottle Raffle, Collecting Change for a Cure, Digital Key Chain Raffle, Wednesday Dinner Theater and some brought donations.  I explained that money for research and to help those with cancer was only one way to fight back.  Another important way to fight cancer is to learn how to reduce the risk of having cancer.  We talked about nutrition, an active life style, not smoking, and sun safety.
    Each class period was emotional for me, but I count it a privilege to be able to share with students to help them understand they are not to young to choose to live a healthy life style and make a difference in the lives of others.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

"Sin never dies of old age."

    We're finishing up the book of 2 Samuel in our Bible study tomorrow.  Going back over the stories of David's life, I've been reminded of several lessons, one of which is encouraging.  I find it encouraging to know that the man known as "a man after God's own heart" is not perfect.  He messed up...big time and not just one time.  With all of his faults and failures, David still recognized his need for God's forgiveness, grace, restoration, and blessing.
     In the book, Adventuring Through the Bible,"  Ray Stedman makes an important point about sin:
...our old nature is always there, ready to spring into action the moment we cease to rely upon the Spirit of God.  Sin never dies of old age.  No matter how long you walk with God, it is still possible to fall.The only thing that maintains the spiritual life is the quiet, day-by-day, moment-by-moment walk in faith.
    This is a reminder for me to be even more intentional with my time alone with God.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Soul Surfer

   Friday night I took my nephews to see Soul Surfer.  It's based on the true story of Bethany Hamilton, a teen surfer champion who is attacked by a shark.  If I only had one word to describe the movie, it would be "incredible."  I would definitely see it again. Yes, they show the shark attack and it's bloody, but it's such a small part of the film.  The film shows how a young woman, who thinks she has her life pretty much figured out, is faced with a major life change.  She questions God about her situation, tries to be "normal," gives up when things don't go her way, but then realizes that her life is not about's about using the talent God gave her (which happens to be surfing) as a platform to encourage and show love to others.  Check out the trailer for "Soul Surfer."

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Heart of God

     It's Holy Week.  I really haven't taken the time to slow down and really reflect on its implications this year.  I did remember that today was Maundy Thursday.  I've participated in a Seder meal and would like to do it again.  I love the symbolism in each portion.  One of my students came up to my desk and asked me what Passover was.  I asked if he wanted to know it was a holiday or what it meant.  He wanted to know why it was a holiday, so I explained it.  He listened carefully and asked a few questions.  When I finished the explanation, he said, "Oh. Okay, thanks" and he sat down.
    Tonight, I read a post by Keith Wheeler.  You may have heard of him as "that guy who carries the cross all over the world."  Keith posted the following on his Facebook page:
As I think about this night so many years ago, I think of John leaning his head on Jesus' chest. My prayer has been that I might draw so near to Jesus that I'm able to lean my head on His chest and hear His heartbeat. I think I've heard it! I don't think it goes thump, thump ... I think it goes, "peo-ple; peo-ple!" And I think it's breaking.
      This reminded me of Colton, the boy who visited Heaven in the book Heaven is for Real, and how important it was for him to share how much God loves people. It also reminded me of David, a man after God's own heart.  While studying I & II Samuel, I see that David messed up royally (pun intended), yet still was referred to as a "man after God's own heart." 
      Okay, I'm starting to realize that when we try to be more like Christ and get just a glimpse of the heart of God, we see the great love He has for us.  In order for us to get close to the heart of God, our prayer should not just be for God to help us love our brothers or our fellow man, but instead to love the way He does.  This might mean talking to someone we don't particularly want to talk to or doing without something so someone else will have what they need.  It means taking "I" out of the equation and putting more of "Him" into everything we do.  I don't think this will be an easy task, but I do think it is well worth the effort.  The impact and implications will be eternal.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

A Couple of Awesome Easter Activities

     Easter is kind of late this year, but still it seems to have sneaked up on me. I guess I "remembered" when Sis let me know what to bring for dinner next Sunday.  I have my Easter dress ready for next Sunday. (I know I don't need one, but it's something I've done every year since I can remember.) I also have bunny ears to wear to school on Friday. (Hey, it's fun to wear them and God's not afraid of bunnies!)
     I was thinking of a couple of activities I want to share. One is the homemade Resurrection Eggs.  The other is Empty Tomb Cookies. The activities can be used together or separately. They may be used as lessons with studies from preschool to adult.  I've actually used the Resurrection Eggs as a youth group lesson, with students reading and discussing the scripture in the eggs. Both activities would be great for use as family devotions.
     For instructions on the Resurrection Eggs, check out the Thrifty Living Mom blog version (one of my favorites) by clicking here. You don't need to be exact when finding items for the eggs.  The important thing is to make sure the story, starting with Palm Sunday, gets told through ending with the empty tomb.
    For instructions on Empty Tomb Cookies, click here.  If you decide to do these, you need to start them the evening/night before Easter. Make sure you get up early enough on Easter Sunday to finish the project before heading off to church.


Friday, April 15, 2011

Like really great handbags? Want to make an impact on a student's life?

Visit their blog to learn all about their company.
     If you answered yes to one or both of the questions above, check out the Wise Abe blog. Wise Abe is a company that has partnered with Compassion International to impact impoverished students through education. The company recycles burlap coffee sacks by making them into designer handbags.  A portion of the proceeds go to Compassion's Leadership Development Program. I'm especially excited about this company because I've had the privilege of watching one of the founders grow from a teen into an incredible young woman. 
    When you visit the blog, be sure to enter the giveaway for one of two bags!

How Much of the Bible do You Believe?

   Last night I heard Todd Burpo speak.  Todd is the dad of Colton Burpo, the boy in the book Heaven is For Real.  ( I talked about the book on a past blog post.) I really enjoyed hearing Todd speak and Colton and his aunt sing.  It was wonderful seeing Colton's aunt and my sis's roomie from college.  One of my students and his family also attended.  I sat behind them and didn't realize it for the longest time!
    Something Todd said really hit me, and I've been thinking about it a lot.  First he asked, "How much of the Bible do you believe?"  I automatically thought, "All of it!"  Todd went on the say that most people would say they believe all of the Bible. (Is he a mind reader?!) He then stated, "The part that you do is the part that you believe."  Wow! Now that was a statement that challenged me.  I say I believe all of the Bible, but do I really act like it?  I remember somebody telling me that sometimes I may be the only Bible someone ever reads.  I need to work on making sure, if that's the case, I give the complete story!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Google Exodus

 Click on this link to see the answer to the question, "What if Moses had Facebook?" It's very creative.  It made me smile!
 Google Exodus

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Who is your country?

     No, that's not a misprint.  Who is your country? It's the question I asked myself after reading the introduction to I & II Samuel in The Message. Eugene Peterson is talking about four characters that dominate the two books...Hannah, Samuel, Saul, and David.  Peterson says, "Not one of them can be accounted for in terms of cultural conditions or psychological dynamics; God is the country in which they live."
     Okay, so that got me thinking, "Do I let my culture determine how I live.  Do I let what others think about me, my beliefs and my morals determine how I live?"  I think about how Romans 12:1-2 challenges me not to conform to the way the world thinks and acts. I am very blessed to have been born in the physical country in which I reside.  I've seen the conditions and heard stories from the people of those countries about the persecution they suffered because of their beliefs. In spite of our location on the Earth, I believe that God can be the country in which we live.  I want God to be the country in which I live. 
     Being a teacher, I think of what defines a country's boarders and gives it its identity.  Things like mountains, rivers, plains, deserts...natural things that may physically mark a boarder...surround a country to define where it ends/begins or give the country it's physical features. Other things define a country. Currency, economy, culture, and government come to mind. 
     Being a Christian, I see how the things that define a country are the some of the very things that define God.  God did come in the physical...Jesus.  He lived, taught how to live in God's kingdom, died, was resurrected and lives.  When I think of currency and economy, I think about God's currency and exchange rate being love, grace and mercy and how He gives it freely.  In God's economy, giving is the priority.  Does that mean God wants us to be poor? No, He wants us to take our gifts and talents, whatever they may be, and use them for His glory. God's culture is described in detail in His book, the Bible.  The descriptions tell stories of real people in real situations who make good and bad choices.  The descriptions tell about a God who is personally involved in the lives of people. God's culture is not materialistic, greedy, about success or power or being in style.  What is it about?  See Romans 12:1-2.
     Okay, I'm done.  I do want to close with one more quote from Peterson's intro to I & II Samuel.  "God is the larger context and plot in which our stories find themselves" (The Message-the Kindle Edition, 2002).  That actually reminds me of the study "Experiencing God" by Henry Blackaby.  What I really remember from that study is that instead of trying to come up with some really great program or "thing" to do for God, see where God is working and join Him. A post for another day!

Monday, March 28, 2011

There's Hope for Us All!

   This week, in the Bible study I'm in, we're in the book of Judges.  I've been using my Kindle and the Message version to read for the study, "Adventuring Through the Bible" by Ray Stedman. 
   In his introduction to Judges in the Message, Eugene Peterson wrote :
   God, it turns out, does not require good people in order to do good work.  He can and does work with us in whatever moral and spiritual condition he finds us.  God, we are learning, does some of his best work using the most unlikely people.
   This has reminded me several times about how God loves us too much to leave us the way we are.  I've heard people say things like, "I've gone too far away to come back," or "When I can make myself better, I'll go to church."  No matter how far away we go, all we have to do is turn around and we're back.  No person can make themselves better.  Look at the disciples... they were pretty much a bunch of whiners and complainers, but God used them to spread the Gospel. 
    I don't think God is looking for a bunch of rigid, rule following robots. He takes us where we are with our flaws and failings and then, if we put our trust in Him and decide to live for Him, He'll change us from the inside out.
   In the book of Judges, the nation of Israel did okay when they had a judge to enforce the rules, but pretty much did what they wanted when they didn't have a king to rule them.  What they didn't realize was that they did have a king (just not an earthly one), but refuse to be subjects to Him. I'm so thankful that God, when we chose to accept His way, uses ordinary people to do extaordinaary things. Reminds me of this quote by Mother Teresa: "I am a little pencil in the hand of a writing God who is sending a love letter to the world."

Sunday, March 27, 2011

New Blog to Follow & New Book to Check Out!

Just learned about the blog "Always Faithful."  I'm planning on checking out some of the older posts. I had heard that Mary Beth Chapman, wife of Contemporary Christian music artist Steven Curtis Chapman, was writing a book.  I'm excited to know it's out and I have a chance to win a copy. Check out the contest at the link below!  

Faithful Always: Choosing to SEE: A Giveaway!

Faithful Always: Choosing to SEE: A Giveaway!: "Today, I am absolutely over the moon to announce a new giveaway. :) Trust me, your going to love it! Choosing to SEE By Ma..."

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Creative Newsboys Tribute

I saw the following video on Facebook.  The Newsboys is one of my favorite bands.  Over the years, I've attended five of their concerts, with the most recent appearance at Winter Jam 2011.  The Lego video is very close to the live performance.  It is a very creative way to applaud one of Christian music's premier bands.  Enjoy!

Born Again (the unofficial lego video)

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Last Day of Spring Break

   So, today is the last day of my Spring Break.  I really enjoyed going with my nephews and visiting the Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum and Science Museum this week.  I think my favorite part, however, was this afternoon.  I went with M and his youth group on a local mission.  We met at the church and made over a hundred peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.  After instructions and a prayer, we loaded the bus and met up with another church.  In downtown, we added the sandwiches to the sacks containing chips and cookies.  The sacks, along with bottles of water and all of the extra sandwiches were quickly distributed.  I must say, I was so impressed with M's service.  He was quite proficient at putting the pb&j sandwiches in zipper bags.  I watched in awe as, instead of hanging back, he passed out the sacks and water to the homeless.  He didn't just stand and pass out the food; he grabbed a bag and water and walked to meet the people.  On the bus ride back to the church we had a chance to chat.  I shared some of my inner-city mission experiences with M.  He said he wants to do this again next month.  I'll be joining him. 

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Blogging for Books

Okay, I confess...I haven't been great about updating my reading list in the last few weeks.  I'm still reading The Council of Dads,which isn't a light-hearted story.  I, along with my sister, have joined Blogging for Books, 
They send you a book to read and review.  You post your review on their site and you get to keep the book. I just finished posting my first review on Divine Appointments by Charlene Ann Baumbich.  Here is what I posted:
I chose this book to read because, like the main character Josie, I'm single and approaching "the big 5-0." I like my life and feel like I'm doing well.  Unlike Josie, I don't have the ability to "go where the money is" when tackling a job.  Divine Appointments gets the reader involved in the lives of the characters...the cantankerous mailroom guy, the kind office manager exibitiing her practical faith, the "bleeding-heart" boss who has a quiet inner strenght, and the strongly independent Josie. Taught to be strong and independent from an early age, Josie has grown into a successful "island" who begins to see the importance of relationships.  A mysterious snowglobe is a single thread woven throughout the plot that reveals the longing for connection and soul satisfying contentment. Everything may not always turn out wonderful in this book.  It mirrors the tought economic times of today; people loose their jobs.  Divine Appointments, although fiction, shows how God uses the big and small stuff of life as divine appointments to weave the fabric of our lives.

Saturday, February 5, 2011


   Wow, what an odd title for a post about my Dad's death.  I really wasn't going to post anything yet, but got a sweet note from a coworker today that put things in perspective for me.  She wrote:  "I am not sure if this helps, but when my mom passed, I recognized that it was not the date of her death, but instead, the date of her birth into heaven."  It does help.  I know my dad stepped into eternity on February 1st during a blizzard.  My sister and I weren't able to be with him like were were with Mom, but the doc said it was peaceful and no trama was involved. We were all with him two days before.  He had been unresponsive, but leaned in when my nephews hugged him.  He wasn't eating much and hadn't gotten up to eat.  When his doc called me, he said Dad had gotten up for dinner and ate all of his food, then wanted to set up in his recliner.  When they went back to check on him after he went to bed, he had passed.  He passed, not to the grave, but to life.  So, HAPPY BIRTHDAY, DADDY!

Friday, February 4, 2011

The Blessings of Friendship

     People always say, "Let me know if you need anything."  It's alway been hard for me to let anyone know when I need anything.  I like to be in control. As a matter of fact, I've argued a bit with God about this, but He won as usual! I like to be the one that helps; that would be my Martha personality coming out.  In the past week I've been making some requests.
     My dad's health began to fail rapidly and we began to prepare for his homegoing.  I asked my friend JM to put together a photostory of Dad's life and she did.  She said it was an honor.  My friend M  (to whom JM gave copies of the photostory because of the impending blizzard), when I called to see about picking up the cds, said she would take them to the funeral home for me.  M also offered to make an airport run for me and she has another appointment. Cds were at the funeral home.  The photostory is incredible.
     I've been pretty sick the past few days, but I've had several friends to call and check on me.  My friend CL, although dealing with her sister's death, continues to check on me and offers me a much needed time to chat about everything and nothing and gives great advice and direction.  She's there.
     My friend Cat from halfway across the country if flying in...praying to get here and to be able to leave on Wednesday. (We had 21 inches of snow and then 3 and a half more today with more forecast for Sunday, Tuesday and Wednesday.) God knew I needed her.  Found a "miracle" ticket.  Originally was finding tickets for just over $500.  Discovered some skymiles she forgot she had and paid $35 for the ticket. (I personally think God used his computer to put the miles on her account.)
     Today, I needed to get to the bank, to the drugstore and to the funeral home so I called and asked my friend T if he could pick me up. He said, "Sure!" (I learned later that he and his bro-in-law that came had not slept after getting off work because they were helping someone dig out of a driveway.) T and W came and took me into town on roads that I'm sure, had I driven, would have caused me to grit my teeth and probably made me cry. They waited on me at the funeral home, in another city, then took me by Subway and home.
     My friend CB texted me to see if I needed anything; she said they'd been out in their jeep.  CB said her hubby lived to drive in this weather.  I'm glad he will enjoy himself tomorrow. I'm getting a ride to the airport and grocery store.  My little car is staying put for now. 
     These are just stories of a few of the incredible people God has put in my life.  I could list countless more.  Every note, card, facebook post and call mean so much.  Definitely blessed beyond measure!

Saturday, January 29, 2011


The following was a sweet prayer sent by Sis's mom-in-law:

Our Father who art in Heaven.
     We worship you with songs of praise for the life of B.  Were it not for him, we wouldn't have our dear A to love.  Long ago, we gave him to you for healing, comfort, peace and mercy in his earthly life.  Now with new physical issues, we feel helpless once again.  So God, we lift him to you.  Your arms are strong and sure, your plans for his life are beyond what we can comprehend. 
    We know your means of healing take many forms and we place our trust in you for him now and forever.  We ask that you provide peace and comfort for him.  We ask that your grace and mercy flow round about him, and that those who provide medical care for him now are struck by your presence.  We humbly ask for your dear son, B to radiate your love to those around him.  We ask also that B's daughters, grandsons, and son-in-law be granted comfort too, as they struggle with his declining physical body.  We've asked a lot just now, Lord, but you have told us to bring the desires of our hearts to you, and we have done so.  We trust you and your provisions in all things, in all times, and in all places. 
    Please open our eyes to your loving care of B.
    You are our hope for now and the future.
    You are the Holy one who loves and cares for us more that our minds can imagine.
    To you we turn in confidence and peace.
    Because of Jesus, we ask with joy and expectation!

Encouraging Words

A week ago Wednesday I received some disheartening news. Dad was taken to the emergency room where it was discovered that  my dad’s adominal cavity was filled with fluid and several metastasized lesions. The doctor said this was a secondary cancer, but didn't know where the primary cancer site was. She said he would not live through treatment. Sis and I will met with with his doctor at the Veteran's Center to discuss comfort care. We know where he's spending eternity: happy for him, and sad for us.
The outpouring of prayers, love and support has been, and it continues to be our mainstay.  The facebook notes, emails, calls and cards are encouraging, comforting and mean a great deal to us.
The following are examples of a few of the many notes my friends and family have sent:
“Just love, love, love...and pray, pray, pray. Then get in the car and cry all the way home if you need to - asking Jesus to give you the strength and comfort YOU need to help your daddy. My momma used to tell me "Don't wrestle - just nestle" - he is our comforter... all the way home if you need to, asking Jesus to give YOU the strength and comfort you need to help your daddy. My momma use to tell me “Don’t wrestle-just nestle” – He is our comforter.”
“Jesus has got this and please know that I am not only praying but I am hugging you in my heart. You are fiercely loved.”
God has blessed Sis and me by putting incredible people in our lives to share our burden and hold our hands!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Life isn't Easy

    I tend to read a lot of fiction.  Some of my favorite authors are Dee Henderson, Brandilyn Collins, Susan May Warren, Colleen Coble and DiAnn Mills.  I don't watch TV, so I read for an hour here and there.  today was our second "snow day" and I finished Point of No Return by Susan May Warren. It's part of her Missions of Mercy Series, which include In Sheep's Clothing and Sands of Time. Warren has spent some time on the mission field in the countries she writes about in these suspense stories. 
    It's really encouraging when I read a fiction book that points me to Biblical truths.  Some I know, but need a reminder to jog my memory.  In Point of No Return, an aid worker and the man sent to rescue him are in a Georgian (the country, not the state) prison and the chances of their survival are not looking good.  During a conversation the aid worker shares his feelings about not being able to help more.  He chose to remain in Georgia in the midst of danger when his friends left.  During the course of the conversation, the young man shares with his rescuer about a friend from college that died from leukemia.  His friend didn't quit school despite his pain.  The young man shared his friend's response when asked why he didn't just give up:
"He told me that the closer he got to heaven, the more he wanted to lean into all God had for him here.  That it was in this harsh, earthly landscape that we understand the meaning of God's grace.  He said we don't see the depths and power of grace when life is easy.  It's only when things start to fall apart around us, when the road crumbles before us, that we turn to grace for every step."
   What a beautiful illustration of II Corinthians 12:9  " My grace is enough; it's all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness." (The Message) I was greatly encouraged by this. Although I've read the scripture many times before, I now had a fresh view.  In spite of the sorrow and pain that comes my way, I can still hang on to the grace that God always has for me. That reminds me of an acronym for grace we used in youth group: GRACE= God's Riches At Christ's Expense.  Growing in grace daily!

Thursday, January 20, 2011


   I just finished reading Heaven is For Real by Todd Burpo with Lynn Vincent.  Now, I'm not one to read or put a lot of stock in the whole "I went to Heaven and this is what it's like" type of book.  The reason I was interested in this particular book is I saw it on a friend's facebook post.  I took a closer look at the post and discovered it was about the experience of her nephew.  Wow!  I had a connection.  I also know the boy's uncle.  After talking with Sis, I found out that she went to college with Todd Burpo and the boy's relatives I know.  So, I picked up the book on Saturday and was totally blown away by the content.  It tells the story of, then, four-year-old Colton who has an emergency apendectomy and, while his life hangs in the balance, visits Heaven.  Colton doesn't tell the entire story all at once.  The story unfolds over a longer period of time as he share bits and pieces of the experience with his parents through the course of everyday life. I don't want to give away any details because the entire book is amazing.  Yes, I believe in Heaven.  This book has given me a new perspective on Heaven and a renewed sense of awe about the incredible God I love and serve.  For more info on the book, check out

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Mission Memories: Critters

     I just finished filing my fingernails.  That reminded me of my first mission trip to Belize. You'll see why as the story unfolds.
     It was very late when we arrived at our destination for the night.  To get to the cabanas where we stayed was an adventure in itself.  We drove from Belize City for quite a while. On this trip not all of the three main highways were paved...only about a stretch of about 50 miles was paved.  We left the "highway" and drove down a dirt road to a clearing.  I remember being amazed at the giant Bird of Paradise plants that grew wild along the road. Once we got to a clearing, we had to hit a gong to let the people know we had arrived so they could come across the river to get us.  We carried our luggage down a gazillion steps (Well, actually it was 32...I counted later) to get to the river and the boat that would take us across to go up more steps to our lodging .  Wow, I was going to be spending the night in the jungle! I was so tired, I could hardly walk. On my way to bed I saw a brown and white mouse scamper around the thatched roof of our room.  I shared a two room cabana with three other girls.  I had just closed my eyes when I heard R, my roommate scream.  I didn't open my eyes, but asked her what was wrong. She said, "There's a snake!"  I told her to leave it alone and she'd be eyes still closed.  "Quit talking like a teacher and do something," she demanded.  I got up and told her I would get it and put it out.  She reminded me that we were in the middle of a jungle and I didn't know what kind of snake it could be.  She had an excellent point.  By this time, I was wide awake and the two girls from the other room came in.  The chase began.  I'm not sure what we thought we were going to do once we got the snake cornered, but we chased it all over the room and finally got it cornered in the small area just outside the bathroom door. Now what were we suppose to do with it?   One of the girls got a plunger from the bathroom and captured its head.  We were going to end its life, but didn't really have anything to work with, until someone remembered having a metal fingernail file. (See my thinking, now?) How many girls does it take to kill a snake in the jungle in the middle of the night?  Apparently four if they're taking turns holding a toilet plunger on its head and trying to cut its head off with a fingernail file.  This was not a quick, nor pleasant endeavor.  The next day, at breakfast, I relayed the story to one of the men that worked there.  When I described the snake to him, he said, "Oh, you no need to worry about de smol snakes. Iz da big ones dat are bad!" Okay, after that experience, showering with tree frogs was not that big of a deal.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

My Fabulous Friends

     In his book, The Council of Dads, Bruce Feiler talks about what values he wants his girls to learn from his friend, Max.
The loyalty of the friend who sees how far I've come instead of how far I have to go.  The dignity of the person who has devoted his entire life to serving others.  The self-respect of the man who insists on meeting his own standards instead of succumbing to those of others.
     This passage got me to thinking about the incredible friends God put in my life to bring me through some of the most trying times of cancer. There's Sis, who, even though we are related, began and continues to be one of my best friends and biggest supporters.  Cat, who guided me into missions and joined me for many adventures, slept on the floor beneath my hospital bed after my first surgery and made sure the nurses were doing what they were suppose to all night.  Several friends took turns staying with me when I wasn't able to use my arms to care for myself...Cat taught Sis (who hates the sight of blood) to care for the 4 drains that made me feel like a science experiment; Aunt S accompanied me to chemo and stayed with me cooking, cleaning and caring for me when she had challenges of her own to deal with; Em, my precious friend from across the hall and later halfway across the U.S. and back again, stayed a few nights and continues to check in on me; S, who has taken care of my income taxes since I was a senior in high school and joined in on several mission trips, sat with me through chemo and kept me talking and entertained so the nausea didn't have time to get me down; L, who I've taught with for years and watched live out her practical, unwavering faith, accompanied me to chemo, encouraged me, challenged me and cared for me; the senior girls from my small group who visited me in the hospital and made me smile...especially R when she tried the compression sleeves; G, who lived her faith as she accompanied me to chemo, prayed for and with the nurses who cared for her during her own hospital stays, and reminded me that we never cease to exist...some of us step into eternity before others.  R would call me from church on Sunday mornings when I wasn't able to be there, and I would listen to the worship service via phone. There were scores of others who came to visit me in the hospital and at home; some I read about in the journal Sis continued to keep for me so I would know what went on even when the meds put me out. I can't fail to mention the incredible ladies I teach with (Some are my former students!) that have become my second family.  They encouraged me through visits, cards and meals, always reminding me that I was loved.  Sometimes, when I was trying to "be okay" after chemo, my principal would see me in the hall and send me home, but I never worried about my job. She kept an eye on G and me to make sure we didn't overdo it, but never wanted to take our dignity and love of our jobs away.  I've heard it said that if you have one close friend in a lifetime, you should consider yourself blessed.  I consider myself blessed beyond measure!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Preparation for the Fight

I didn't even see it coming...CANCER.  I wasn't expecting it, but never the less, it came.  In retrospect, I can see now that I was preparing for the journey and the fight long before they came to be.  A few months before, one of the ladies in my Bible Study group purchased us copies of The Lies Women Believe: And the Truth that Sets Them Free by Nancy Leigh DeMoss.  Our group did the study of this incredible book.  I loved each chapter, even when the truth wasn't pleasant.  Each chapter had the lies countered with the truth from God's Word.  Some, I could recognize and was okay with them.  For example, the lie is "I shouldn't have to suffer."  The truth is, "True joy is not the absence of pain, but the presence of the Lord Jesus in the midst of the pain."  Some...I had to really think about.  For instance, the lie is "God should fix my problems."  The truth is "God has an eternal purpose He is fulfilling in the midst of my problems."  There were several more truths which I hung on to months later as I experience the pain, nausea and roller coaster of emotions that cancer and its treatment brings.  I would recommend the book to all women, whether or not they are going through trials or not.  Ms. DeMoss has written The Lies Young Women Believe.

At the beginning of the year of my diagnosis (2007), I purchased a new devotional Bible that would help me read the Old and New Testaments in paired passages with a couple of questions each day.  That book is The Message//REMIX Solo:An Uncommon Devotional by Eugene Peterson. The Old Testament reading the morning of my diagnosis was II Kings 6.  One of the parts I thought was particularly odd is the story of how some prophets were building and a borrowed axhead fell in the water. Elisha cut a stick and threw it where it fell and made it float.  I remember thinking, "Why is that story in the Bible? That's just strange."  One of the questions for that day went something like, "If God can cause and iron axhead to float and deliver an entire army into the hands of two unarmed prophets, is there anything He can't do for you?" I remember thinking, "Well of course not.  Good point." That evening is when I spoke with my primary care doctor and she told me the results of my biopsy.  When she told me I had cancer the morning's devotion came back to me and I felt peace.

I believe it's vital to study and learn God's Word.  You just never know when and how it can impact your life. 

Thursday, January 6, 2011

The Wellspring of Life

I visited my dad at the hospital today.  He was doing much better since his blood transfusion on Monday.  I've been posting updates on his progress on my facebook page.  Tonight, one of my cousins posted a very encouraging comment and I wanted to share part of it.  She wrote "He knows you, you're part of him and the heart never forgets no matter what the brain says!"  Dad has Alzheimer's.  Most of the time he doesn't remember who I am or thinks I'm one of his sisters.  Tonight when I asked him if he needed anything he responded, "Just you."  I asked, "Who am I?" He replied, "You're you!" I said, "You're right! I always have been!" I know he's still "Dad" in his heart.  I really appreciated my cousin's post.  It brought to mind a verse I remember studying several years ago.  It is Proverbs 4:23, from the New International Version. "Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life."  Dad is confused a lot and sometimes what he says may not make sense, but I know his wellspring is still flowing.

Monday, January 3, 2011

A Passport to Intimacy

     As I thoughtfully make my way through reading The Council of Dads, I am constantly coming across things to which I say, "Wow, that's absolutely true." or "That's exactly how I felt."  In the letter from chapter 7, Bruce Feiler writes:
Cancer, I have found, is a passport to intimacy.  It's and invitation-maybe even a mandate-to enter the most vital, frightening, and sensitive human arenas.  It's a responsibility to address those issues we rarely want to discuss, but we feel enriched when we do.  In that spirtit, I hope you find occasion to ask a difficult question of someone you love, renew a long-forgotten promise you made to yourself, or spread a little magic of your own to help keep the monsters at bay.
     This brought memories of my sweet friend G, who went with me to my first chemo treatment, then took me to dinner afterward and informed me, "Enjoy it now, because it will not taste as good coming back up!"  She was correct.  Then, G stood at my bathroom door as the first wave of nausea rolled in.  "You feel like you're puking up your toes, don't you?  I'm bringing you meds!"  You see, G was speaking from experience.  She was diagnosed with a rare type of cancer six months before I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Yes, G went with me to the wig shop to help me pick out just the right wig and ended up getting another for herself. I think we tried on every wig they had and had a blast doing it!  When we pulled into the parking lot, before going in the wig shop, G said, "Can I ask you a question?"  I knodded.  She said, "Do you sit around and cry because of your diagnosis?"  "No," I responded, "do you?" "No," she said, and then paused.  She looked at me and scrunched up her eyes and asked, "Do you think we're taking this as seriously as we should?"  "The way I see it," I said, "if it doesn't affect our standing in eternity, it's not that big of a deal."  "Yeah," she said, "that's what I thought.  Glad someone's on the same page."  Even though we both knew where we would spend eternity and our relationship with Christ sustained us through our cancers, G stepped into eternity and I let God know what I thought about that. (So glad He knows I'm human and offers me grace, mercy and forgiveness when I act so human.) The thing I think I learned the best from dear G was, no matter what you go through, when you know whose you are (Christ's and Christ's alone) you live life to it's fullest...after all, He promises us abundant life. I love how The Message puts it: .."I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of." -John 10:10