Friday, October 31, 2008

So grateful!

330. sleeping under quilts
331. birthday dinner celebration
332. birthday cards
333. phone calls w/ birthday wishes
334. Taylor home
335. a borrowed laptop
336. watching Griff play with Malli
337. Savannah-Jane's hugs
338. a hot bath
339. Brunswick Stew ... again

Blogless

OK.
If you have been even remotely curious as to why I have not posted any of my muddled thoughts lately, I want to put all your wonderings to rest.
The simple explanation ... my computer is in ICU. Diagnosis: potentially fatal viral infection.
Please put it on your prayer list.
Seriously.

Sadly, if my computer does not recover and ... gulp ... dies, well, then thousands, yes, thousands of pictures will die along with it. These photos stored on my infected computer are irreplaceable ones I should have long ago burned to cds, but foolishly didn't. Hard lesson learned!

I am currently using son Taylor's laptop. He mistakenly thinks that the use of his computer is the reason I am so happy he is home for the weekend. Silly boy.
Actually, it does feel good to have my fingers tap these keys ... it has been almost a full week after all! Seriously though, I am one happy mom when he comes home... especially when it's my birthday! What a great present!

While Taylor is home I will enjoy cooking for him and having endless, deep, thought-provoking discussions late into the night. (mainly about the hotly contested presidential drama, er upcoming election)

Although there is a working computer temporarily in my presence, son is limiting my use of his Dell so I still can not promise much production on the blog scene. Apparently, he has some relatively important assignment due ... a term paper on economics and the presidency. Until I return to the blog world permanently, keep my computer in your prayers!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

12 hours

and I am his...
Song of Solomon 2:16
For the past 12 hours, I have done something I haven't done in a very long time. I have been on a date with my husband. No, he didn't take me to Atlanta or Jacksonville. No, we didn't go to a fancy restaurant. No, we didn't go to see a Broadway show.
Actually we stayed home most of the day.
Alone.
It's weird.
Good weird.
I love being a wife. But, in the past 21-plus years our relationship has been centered around children. When you become parents you often forfeit and surrender your own plans because of children. That's not necessarily negative, it just seems to be a part of the job.
And I love that job. I love being a mom. I don't think there has ever been a job that I have held that brings as much satisfaction and fulfillment as being a mom.
Now as the children are getting older, gaining independence, and are moving out, I am no longer needed in the same way. I admit it is sad to me and really weird - even though it is a natural process.

But there is a silver lining! My husband and I are actually getting to know each other again. We spent the entire day together ... uninterrupted. It almost feels like we are dating again! We worked in the yard together, watched football together, cooked together, ate together, shopped together, and watched a movie together. A 12-hour date!

Nothing will ever be the same again for me as a mom. But just because every thing's different, doesn't mean it can't be as good.
That's what I learned in the past 12 hours.

Friday, October 24, 2008

more for the 1000 Gifts List ...

We can always find something to be thankful for, no matter what
may be the burden of our wants,
or the special subject of our petitions.
-Albert Barnes

324. rain, glorious rain

325. pantry and frige shelves stocked

326. a cozy, worn sweatshirt

327. walking in the rain

328. a nap

329. scripture

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Hope

Rejoice in our confident
hope.
Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying.
Romans 12:12
I once heard that hope is faith holding out its hand in the dark. Reaching, grapsing in utter darkness, gloominess, yet believing.
No matter what circumstances you are in at the moment, no matter how hopeless you may feel, remember God has a plan. Look to Him. Tell Him about your pain. He will hold you and never let go. There is hope. Don't give up!
The Word says in Psalm 25:3 No one whose hope is in you will ever be put to shame..."
Hope is that thing with feathers that perches in the soul and sings the tune without the words and never stops... at all. -Emily Dickinson

Thank Him

“I have often wondered, perhaps in part simply because the term is so rarely used today, what it might mean to ‘glorify’ God forever. It will undoubtedbly mean a great many things, but one of them surely must be that we will continually thank him.
We will thank him for his graciousness and goodness to us, and for inviting us into conversation. Along this line, I would think that we anticipate our ‘chief and highest end’ every time we behold something beautiful and find that after we have exclaimed, ‘Ah, how wonderful!’ we are almost compelled to say ‘Thank you!’
Our destiny is to say these small words forever and so experience the gratitude that is the perfection of happiness.”

—Craig M. Gay, Dialogue, Catalogue & Monologue


321. a real Fall day

322. pansies to plant

323. dinner out

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Sticks and Stones

I have chosen you
and have not rejected you.
So do not fear,
for I am with you;
do not be dismayed,
for I am your God.
I will strengthen you
and help you;
I will uphold you with
my righteous right hand.
Isaiah 41:9&10

We've all heard the saying, "Stick and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me."
More truthfully, Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words . . . can wound forever. Like many, I have been wounded deeply by hurtful words. And I am sure I have propelled my share of hurtful verbiage.
By nature, I am normally not a confrontational person. Just ask my mother ... I have the typical middle-child temperament and I am still considered to be a peacemaker. As a result, when I am attacked, I often remain silent. I once heard someone say, if you speak when you are angry you will make the best speech you will ever regret. Speaking from experience, that's pretty accurate and I have a good memory of past mistakes.

Well, for some reason the enemy spoke some piercing, hurtful words to me through different people today. I was speechless and shocked at the insensitivity of the persons, supposed Christians, spewing these wounding words my way. Where is kindness, decency, compassion, gentleness, empathy, politeness? I didn't say anything or try to defend myself at the time, but later I became angry as I thought about what what was said to me. And honestly, I was feeling rejected.

We often think anger is a selfish and negative behavior that we should eliminate from our lives. Ephesians 4:26 says "Be angry, and do not sin": do not let the sun go down on your wrath. As I read over this scripture tonight, I realized that the command is not to “avoid anger” (or suppress it or ignore it like I did) but to deal with it properly, in a timely manner.


'I should of..' and 'if only I had...' keeps playing over and over in my head tonight ... as if I lost a competition or, as if someone has 'one-up' on me. Whether or not I volleyed an attack, offered up quick-witted rebuttal at the time, and no matter how deeply hurt I feel though, I know I am not rejected by God. I am His servant. I am on His side. He picked me. He hasn't left me. He is with me. There's no need to fear for He is my God. He will give me strength. He will help me. He will hold me steady and keep a firm grip on me.

Sticks and stones may break my bones,
but the WORD of GOD encourages me!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Content

me - trying on one of many winter jackets at Mall of Georgia

I love jackets. I tried on no less than a dozen Saturday while in Atlanta. I was amazed at the variety ... all sorts of colors, lengths, patterns, and prices! I had a blast and didn't even make a purchase. It was difficult, but I only window- shopped this weekend. Seriously.

I thought about all those jackets today, especially when I searched in vain and came up empty for a cutesy, trendy, fun jacket to wrap up in before heading to town this morning. Ooohh...it would have been fun to throw on that stylish yellow jacket from American Eagle (I know I am too old for that store, but the jacket was precious) or maybe that fun green one from Old Navy. And then there was that classic black and white check one at TJ Maxx...Instead, I disappointingly put on my old denim jacket and headed out in my inferior, boring, mundane Monday attire. Learning to be content.

I have often heard, contentment is not about what you have. It is an attitude.

Paul says that he had learned how to be content in good times as well as hard times. His contentment was not anchored to the circumstances of life. A study of his life certainly validates this.

Paul told Timothy, "godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness." 1 Timothy 6:6-11

This is a good story...

There was a king who was discontented. In fact he was so anxious, he couldn't sleep, rest, or think. He called his wise men and asked them what he could do.
One very old and very wise man said, "Find a man in your kingdom who is content, then wear his shirt for a day and a night, and you will be content."
That sounded like a good idea to the king, so he ordered some of his servants to search for such a person.
Days blended into weeks before his servants returned. "Well," said the king, "did you find a contented man?"
"Yes, sire," his servant replied.
"Where is his shirt?" asked the king.
"Your majesty, he didn't have one."

Malli's first taste of green beans




Grateful for the little things ...

Iditarod anyone? Taylor poses for the camera while shopping.
Sunday sundown on I-75 in Atlanta (view from car)


"Enjoy the
little things
in life,
for one day you may look back
and realize they were the
big things."

Antonio Smith



314. a wonderful weekend in Atlanta

315. getting to know Travis ... SJ's BF

316. beautiful , cool Fall weather

317. a refund check in the mail

318. a hot sandwich from Panera Bread

319. gas at $2.85 a gallon

320. a tour of EMORY with Taylor as our guide

Friday, October 17, 2008

Get Away

I am Atlanta-bound! Yipeeeeeeeeeeeeee!
Yep, going to see Taylor and Dominica.
Shop a tiny bit and eat at Cheesecake Factory, for sure!
No blogging this weekend.
Hope your weekend is fun!

Obey the Law

Remind them to be subject
to rulers and authorities,
to obey, to be ready
for every good work.
Titus 3:1


Laws. We need them to protect ourselves. Now, I am usually a good, law-abiding citizen; however, in my lifetime I admit I have broken the law several times. I have had my share of speeding tickets and thankfully, a few gracious, merciful warnings. Driving in a rural community after learning to drive in metro-Atlanta is a challenge for me, still, and I have lived here twenty-five years! They say old habits die hard! Although age and (hopefully) wisdom have settled me into a somewhat slower pace these days, I am still labeled the lead foot of the family. I admit it - I drive too fast most times and can be terribly impatient. It's in my DNA.

After the phone call from the policeman this morning, I learned that it apparently is in my daughter's DNA, as well. Yes ... we had a phone call from a very nice policeman this morning who pulled my precious daughter over for speeding on her way to school. After I got over the initial fright from hearing, "Mrs. Morgan, this is Officer ________ from the police department...," I was actually relieved that the news wasn't worse, (meaning, it could have been an accident) I learned that the punishment for a teenager going that fast is license suspension....until 18 years of age. Truthfully, that's punishment for the parent! Thankfully, he only issued a warning citation.
Now the decision has to be made on how we, as parents we will handle this violation. It could be harsh! And most likely, with her good memory, she will cite the time I was pulled over going almost the same speed in almost the same place. Hmmm.... Do as I say, not as I do....

Laws. Why do we need them? Well we need traffic laws for obvious reasons. Without them there would be mass confusion among drivers and a lot more accidents on the road. There are also physical laws that govern the physical universe. And most importantly, there are spiritual laws that govern your relationship with God. These are the four spiritual laws...

1. God LOVES you and offers a wonderful PLAN for your life.

2. Man is SINFUL and SEPARATED from God. Therefore, he cannot know and experience God's love and plan for his life.

3. Jesus Christ is God's ONLY provision for man's sin. Through Him you can know and experience God's love and plan for your life.

4. We must individually RECEIVE Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord; then we can know and experience God's love and plan for our lives.

You can go to http://www.campuscrusade.com/fourlawsflash.htm to view a power point on this.

Now. What to do about this genetic flaw that I passed down to my teenager? No car keys for awhile and this blog posting may be humiliation enough!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares about you. 1 Peter 5:7

The ticking of the clock on the mantle is the only sound I hear right now. Seconds turn to minutes. Minutes to hours. Hours to days. The ticking noise reminds me that I have wasted a lot of time in my life doing meaningless things. Time that I can not get back. But one thing that really bothers me is the amount of time I have wasted on worry. I have even earned the worry frown line between my eyes. My daughter says I need a shot or two of Botox. That would only put a band-aid on a much deeper issue, I am afraid. You see, it's more than tissue deep! Someone even told me one time, If worrying were an Olympic sport, you'd get the gold for sure.

You would think after the countless times God has delivered me, provided for me, and after all I have experienced in my forty-six, (almost forty-seven years) that somehow I would have slain and conquered worry.
Still I worry. I worry about the safety of our children (and grandchild), our schools, the economy, my husband’s job, our shrinking budget, what people think of me, political matters, my family’s health, etc.
Despite all the time I spend worrying, the world keeps spinning and I realize I can not get back the time I have wasted on worry.

I can not accomplish anything while worrying. It doesn’t solve a thing… it’s a total waste of time. Matthew 6:27-29 says Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don't work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are.

Worrying is unhealthy! It can make me sick. Proverbs 12:25 says Worry weighs a person down; an encouraging word cheers a person up.

I forfeit peace when I choose to worry. Philippians 4:6-7 says Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him forall he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

When I am attentive to God, I understand more about how He loves me and I realize I have nothing to worry about. God has an amazing plan for my life, and part of that plan includes taking care of me. Even in the stressful, uncertain times, when it seems like God is silent, I can put my complete trust in the Lord. God will take care of my every need.
Matthew 6:25 says That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life-whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn't life more than food, and your body more than clothing?


Father, forgive me for my lack of faith. Thank you for your continual grace and mercy. Thank you for loving me and watching over me. Help me to trust you alone and lean on your understanding. I praise you, O Lord for your mighty works. You alone are worthy!

Late night

If my people, which are called by my name,
shall humble themselves,and pray,
and seek my face,and turn from their wicked ways;
then will I hear from heaven,and will forgive their sin,
and will heal their land.
2 Chronicles 7:14

I gave up on late night tv some time ago ... and really gave up on tv altogether for a while. But since the heated presidential race is on and my politically-minded son called to make sure I watched the debate, I was up and tuned in last night. After the debate, with remote in hand, I ventured out and did some channel surfing. That's when I discovered Glenn Beck. Here's a portion of the transcript (in blue) from his show that I found interesting ...

"Right now as we struggle through a crisis in confidence, in trust, we realize that our lack of trust has now spread to the banks, to the corporations, to the government, to the politicians, everywhere. Who do we really trust anymore? Who do you trust? Do you trust our President?Trust the Congress? Our Treasury Secretary? Our Fed Chairman? Who do you listen to, and they go, oh, ok, I feel better now.
Do you trust that there`s enough gold in Fort Knox to back all the money that we`ve printed? I don`t.
So again, I ask you, who are you putting your trust in to guide America safely through the storm? The answer to me, I came to this weekend, is really pretty simple. And you find it right in front of you. It`s in your pocket or your purse. In 1861 the director of the Philadelphia Mint sent a letter to Pennsylvania Minister who was concerned about how future generations will look back at America if it were to collapse during the Civil War. And he wrote,
"Dear Sir. No nation can be strong except in the strength of God, or safe except in his defense. The trust of our people in God should be declared on our national coins."
And so it was. Now 147 years later, if you flip
that $1 bill over, you`re going to see our official national motto of the United States of America. It`s printed there for all to see.
"In God We Trust." Unfortunately I`m not sure that it`s true anymore. Is it?
I was sitting in church and I live in a place
where it`s all brokers, all people in the financial market. And that their world has been rocked. And I thought, these people will hang on because their rock is God. It`s in their faith. It`s in something tangible.
We have built our house, the house of this country, on sand. We have forgotten what`s true.... I think so many people have made false Gods, and it is money. It`s our homes. It`s these gigantic mansions or the right car or the right job, or this. And they put their faith there. Or they`ve put their faith like so many of us have in a certain politician or a certain party and we feel betrayed by them and so we`ve lost that connection where we should."

Not too bad for late night tv, huh? Psalms 20:7-8 says...
Some trust in chariots, and some in horses: but we will remember the name of the LORD our God.
Glenn Beck for President!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Thankful ...

Offer unto God thanksgiving;
and pay thy vows unto the most High.
Psalm 50:14
307. my husband still has a job
308. Brunswick Stew for supper
309. my daughter laughing
310. a Dairy Queen Diet Coke
311. talking to my Daddy on phone
312. a mother's request to pray for her daughter, Anna
313. Atlanta-bound with daughter

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Not so average girl!

Chocolate cake by Savannah-Jane
Savannah-Jane icing chocolate cake

It's in Christ
that we find out
who we are
and
what we are living for.
Long before
we first heard of Christ
and got our hopes up,
he had his eye on us,
had designs on us for glorious living,
part of the overall plan
he is working out
in everything and everyone.
Ephesians 1:11-12

The following statement from my daughter, my little girl shocked me today. My daughter, who is very bright ... top of her class academically, compassionate, pretty, with so many talents actually said this...

I feel so average. I mean, I am not outstanding at anything really.

I was startled when she uttered these words. Usually, she is self-confident and assured of herself ... in a healthy way. She shared her feelings between making a chocolate cake from scratch for her friend's birthday and tackling extensive trigonometry homework. Perhaps average homework for an AP Trig class, but not your average chocolate cake. It has layers made the old-fashioned way --- not from a box and topped with homemade icing --- the kind you have to boil on the stove. It was her first attempt. And it turned out much better than my layer cakes ever do.

I tell her you are no average girl.
(she rolls her eyes)

I say you are unique,
a one of a kind gift from God with a purpose.
(rolls eyes again)

And I say you can bake a mean cake, too!
(she smiles)


I remember being sixteen and asking , “Is this all there is to life?” I wasn't happy about being young and living in the world ... it was 1977. A time of real struggle in my life.
Fast forward to 2008. Society tells young people...
Be happy. Be successful. Believe in yourself.
Is it possible that it' all a lie?

Author Robert S. McGee in his book, The Search for Significance says consider this: "Through Jesus Christ we experience the security and significance for which we were created — not just in eternity beyond the death of our human bodies, but here on earth as well. Through God’s plan of redemption we can be brought back and start our relationship with God all over again.
You'd think that everyone hearing the good news would run to God and trust in what Jesus has done for him. Sadly, that is not so. We are extremely stubborn and full of pride. Rather than receive God’s unconditional love, we create false gods in our own image when we should be humbling ourselves before the real, living God.This is how Paul describes it: “For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles” (Romans 1:21-23).God has given us plenty of physical and spiritual evidence to know that He is real. (Check out Romans 1:20.) Yet we ignore the evidence and only believe what we can understand with our human minds. We make substitute gods to worship and look to them for comfort rather than the real God. (See Romans 1:24-25.)Our Creator lets us follow the temporary pleasures (money, sex and power) in our search for who we are. But understand this: All our human answers disappoint us because we exchange the truth for a lie and reduce God to something that we try to explain humanly.
You can either go to God to find out the truth about who you are and what the purpose of your life is — or you can let other people make the rules about what success is and who is valuable.Even those of us who have put our trust in Christ often find ourselves believing Satan’s deceptions. You can learn to counter those lies with God’s plan to bring us back to the destiny for which He originally created us — to become like Jesus Christ. Satan, of course, is absolutely opposed to our becoming like Christ. He has convinced most of the world that this equation of life is true:

Self-Worth = Performance + Others’ Opinions.
If we base our worth on our ability to perform or on the ever-changing approval of others, we should not be surprised when we are tormented by thoughts of insecurity, fear and anger. The real choice is whether our true value is based on our behavior and the approval of others or on what God says is true about us.Our choice is important because our behavior is often a reflection of our beliefs about who we are — consistent with what we think to be true about ourselves. We have compelling, God-given needs for love, acceptance and purpose. Most of us will go to virtually any length to meet those needs. The power of Satan’s lie is strong when we are feeling weak. The challenge and the choice remain: Can you trust God’s complete acceptance of you as His son and allow Him to free you from your dependence on success and the approval of others?"

Father, help me to be the encouragement I need to be to my precious daughter. Help her to seek You alone for her purpose on earth. I love her so much, Lord, but I know You love her even more. Silence the enemy that fillls her head with lies. Fill her heart and her mind with the peace that passes all understanding. Help her to seek her identity in you and nothing else. Amen.

Signs of Fall

Fall leaves in birdbath

Yoga, Baby!

When I was younger I was amazingly flexible. I had a pretty mean split and high kick on my high school Drill Team/Dance Line. I even used to amaze my children and my neices by putting at least one leg behind my head while seated. I know ... hard to believe, huh?

Talk about flexible! This picture of Malli makes me laugh out loud!Although I didn't capture it on camera, she actually had at least five of her toes in her mouth at one point this morning. Too funny!

I really enjoy Yoga (when I go). Studies show that regular practice boosts energy, increases flexibility, decreases aches and pains, all of which leads to feeling—and even looking—younger and more vital. In addition, research is showing that a regular practice offers tangible health benefits. It has been shown to lower blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol; help keep weight gain and depression at bay; and ease chronic conditions like back pain, arthritis, and fibromyalgia. In short, doing yoga defends against some major killers—heart disease, stroke, and diabetes—and the aches that make aging a real pain.

Being flexible is a good thing. Think of a limb or a twig that is lifeless and dead. It will break easily. But a twig that is living and green will not break under pressure. When life is difficult, when storms threaten to take us down we are a lot like twigs ...we either bend or snap.

Anyone for Yoga class?

Monday, October 13, 2008

Sacrifice of Praise

Dishes put away.
Lamp on.
Husband snoring.
Family slumbering.
Dog by my side.
Quiet.
Hungry.

A great dissimilarity from just four hours earlier.

Pots boiling.
Dinner making.
Chicken baking.
Knives chopping.
Glasses filling.
Laughter round the table.
Stomachs satisfied.

It's midnight and I am hungry. But the hunger I sense is not for the leftovers in the frige. This emptiness is not in my stomach, but in my soul ... the barrenness in my soul that needs constant re-nourishment and satisfaction. A filling.

The tape of the day rewinds in my head. A daughter needs reassurance, love, and guidance. A son is stressed balancing fatherhood, work, and college. Another son needs more money for college life. A husband needs my affection. An uncle fighting for his life. A mother in constant pain. A father-in-law struggles with loneliness. A dwindling bank account. A world in turmoil.

Question:
Where is there fulfillment, rest, joy, and peace in all this?
Answer:
In praising God.


As long as there is breath in our bodies, we are to praise, and be a praise to our God. In his letter to the Hebrews, Paul says:

"By Him therefore let us offer
the sacrifice of praise to God continually,
that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks
to His name."
Hebrews 13:15

We are to continually offer up our praise as a sacrifice to our God.
Remember the Old Testament Law? Israelites had to kill animals, burn incense, and pour out drink offerings. They were to do this repeatedly ... many times a year as a sacrifice before our God. This sacrifice is no longer acceptable. Jesus was our sacrifice for sin. He fulfilled all these physical sacrifices. Now the only sacrifice acceptable before God is our praise and thanksgiving. Our lives must be a sacrifice of praise continually before our God. Praise is a sacrifice, something that we offer to God sacrificially, not just because we feel like it, but because we believe in Him and desire to please Him.
“By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name” Hebrews 13:15

James 3

Pause music on my playlist then watch this !http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-oHm7IB8Uxc


Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body. If we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide their whole bodies as well. Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things.How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water. Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.
James 3

Grateful for ...

Malli and her Uncle Taylor

304. son on FALL BREAK, home from college

305. kitchen help from the entire family

306. a rare family meal together ... all of us

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Abide.


Camellias in bloom - photos by Griff

The branch of the vine does not worry, and toil, and rush here to seek for sunshine, and there to find rain. No; it rests in union and communion with the vine; and at the right time, and in the right way, is the right fruit found on it. Let us so abide in the Lord Jesus.
-Hudson Taylor

Leaves are turning loose, waving good-bye to summer, and carpeting the earth with tones of brown. While cooler temperatures approach and the russet shades seem to overtake the landscape, the camellia shrubs surprisingly announce their beauty with blooms in shades of red, pink, and white.

Like the camellia shrub, I wait, staying close to the Vine ...




withstanding,
continuing to be sure,
enduring,
sustaining,
submitting,
bearing patiently,
tolerating,
dwelling,
remaining,
clinging


Trusting that in His perfect timing I will flourish.


So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, "If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." John 8:31-32

Friday, October 10, 2008

Who Am I?

First pause music on my playlist. Then click on this. It's pretty amazing!
http://www.mychurch.org/blog/30635/coolest-video-ever

CHANGE

Notice anything?
That's right!
I have a new template.
It was time for a different look!
What do you think?

Who are you trusting?

The Lord is exalted,
for He dwells on high;
he will fill Zion
with justice and righteousness,
and
He will be the stability of your times.
Abundance of salvation,
wisdom, and knowledge,
and fear of the Lord
is Zion's Treasure.
Isaiah 33:5-6
My wise father predicted this current financial disaster some time back. With almost forty years in financial planning he has seen it all. For the past five years he has given advice coupled with warnings to clients, and family alike, concerning the inevitable failure of banks, etc.
It is tempting to become cynical and worry about the plight of our country. I have a tendency to think man-made security is enough until the bottom falls out like it has lately. My husband mentioned that he is going to look up his 401k to see just how badly it has been hit. It is a real concern. Lots of uncertainty in these days. It reminds me that I shouldn't put my trust in anything but Christ Jesus.
The Word reminds me that He will be the stability of your times. What comfort that brings me! Even if I were to lose every material posession, even my life, I can be secure. My eternal inheritance is secure. I trust Jesus!
“Our circumstances are all in opposition to the promises of God. He promises us immortality: yet we are surrounded by mortality and corruption. He declares that He accounts us just: yet we are covered with sins. He testifies that He is propitious and benevolent toward us: yet outward signs threaten His wrath.
What then are we to do? We must close our eyes, disregard ourselves and all things connected to us, so that nothing may hinder or prevent us from believing that God is true.”
—John Calvin, commenting on Rom 4:20, in Thomas Schreiner and Ardel Canaday, The Race Set Before Us (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2001), 282
Check out this video

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Adding to the 1000 Gifts List...

The idea and inspiration to begin a list of 1000 Gifts- things I am thankful for came from a fellow blogger, Ann Voskamp. She invites everyone to consider thankfulness and gratitude as "a fixture of your soul." Begin your list today by counting the blessings, with your own 1000 Gifts List.

We can only be said to be alive
in those moments
when our hearts are
conscious of our treasures.
~Thornton Wilder
294. my sweet husband
295. my children
296. my grand daughter
297. my future daughter-in-law
298. clouds filled with rain
299. cooler weather after the rain
300. laughter
301. scripture
302. email from a high school friend
303. my camera ... I miss it!

Treasures...

Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth,
where moth and rust destroy
and where thieves break in and steal,
but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven,
where neither moth nor rust destroys
and where thieves do not break in and steal.
For where your treasure is,
there your heart will be also.
Matthew 6:19-21
I remember following the Mel Fisher story back in the 1980's. He was the guy that found over 40 tons of silver and gold from the Nuestra Senora de Atocha and the Santa Margarita, the Spanish galleons that sank during the hurricane on September 6, 1622 near Key West, Florida. I recently heard that gold is valued at approximately $900 an ounce. It's enough to make me want to go diving or, better yet, stir around in my jewelry box for any out-dated, unwanted gold pieces. So far, since I never have really been into fine jewelry, nor could I afford it, I haven't found anything worth trading in for cash. I do have a gold charm bracelet that I am pretty fond of ... sentimental value more than anything else. I'll hang on to it, for sure.

What is treasure? According to the handy-dandy on-line dictionary I referred to, treasure is accumulated or stored wealth in the form of money, jewels, or other valuables; valuable or precious possessions of any kind; one considered especially precious or valuable. Now that's a pretty broad definition, wouldn't you agree? What is valuable to me may not mean anything to you. In fact I've often heard one man's trash is another man's treasure.
At any rate, I think it's o.k. to have treasures as long as they don't have you. Because, let's face it, this world is temporary. We don't need to get to attached to the things in it since they will all pass away. We need to invest in eternal things like ... showing the love of Christ to others regardless of their race, color, creed, etc. The souls of people are eternal. All else will fade away. People need the Lord. But, do we really care?

I heard of a conversation between an old man (OM) and a young boy (YB). It went something like this ...

OM: What are you doing?

YB: I go to school.

OM: Why do you go to school?

YB: To study.

OM:Why do you study?

YB: To get smart.

OM:Why do you want to get smart?

YB: So I can get a good job.

OM:Why do you want to get a good job?

YB: So I can make lots of money.

OM:Why do you want to make lots of money?

YB:So I can buy food.

OM: Why do you want to buy food?

YB: So I can eat.

OM: Why do you want to eat?

YB: To live.

OM:Why do you want to live?

At this point, the young boy thought for minute, scratched his head looked at the old man and said "Sir, why do I live?" He paused a moment in mid-thought then gave his own sad answer, "To die!"

We all have a purpose, a plan for our life ... to honor and glorify God. Lord, remind me daily of what really matters in this life.

The best things
in life
aren't things!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Parent Teacher Conference Day

As you may or may not know, Thursday is Parent-Teacher Conference Day in our local schools. I know it is a necessary thing, but I was thinking about the stress of juggling thirty-two conferences, with a smile on my face, in the days when I taught. What a migraine! Twenty of the conferences were always with parents of my Pre-K students and then there were the conferences with up to 12 teachers who taught my biological kids ... sometimes at three different schools. Well those days are gone, now just bittersweet memories.

I actually will be attending Parent Teacher conference for my baby girl (yes, at 16 she is still my baby) at her school Thursday night, but my boys are all grown up (somewhat) and now attend college. Quite a different world! I really am clueless as to what kind of work they are doing. There is no I-PARENT access (or SPY-PARENT, as Savannah-Jane refers to it).

Tonight Taylor called from Atlanta. After making small talk, I asked him exactly how his grades were.

He let out a sigh and said, "Mom, funny you mention that ... now you know this is not South Georgia College ... this is EMORY and things are a lot more difficult here ... I have to study all the time ... I actually got my first test score back today in my PRESIDENCY class ... and well, the professor remarked that the grades were pretty low overall, with the class average being 120 out of 150 ... now remember, this is my first test, Mom and uh, well ...

I only made a 149 out of 150 ... are you ok with that?"

It was the highest grade in the class.

Gotta love the nerd!

Is Jesus Enough?

This devotion by Lisa Terkeurst really spoke to my heart today.
Click on the link if you want to read it.

http://proverbs31devotions.blogspot.com/

Monday, October 6, 2008

Beautiful music and lyrics

I have always loved Allsion Krauss' music. I discovered this song this past weekend and just had to post the words. You can hear it playing on my playlist ... it's the first one! Love it!
A Living Prayer
In this world I walk alone
with no place to call my home
But there's One who holds my hand
The rugged road through barren lands
The way is dark, the road is steep
But He's become my eyes to see
The strength to climb, my griefs to bear
This Savior lives inside me there
In Your love I find release
A haven from my unbelief
Take my life and let me be
A living prayer my God to thee
In these trials of life I find
Another Voice inside my mind
He comforts me and bids me live
Inside the love the Father gives
In your love I find release
A haven from my unbelief
Take my life and let me be
A living prayer my God to thee
Take my life and let me be
A living prayer my God to thee

Wild Goose Convention

Early this morning around 8:30 am I heard the loud honking of geese flying over our house. I forgot that it was that time of year again where geese fly south for winter. It is always fascinating to observe their behavior. The most interesting part is that through some strange process, only one male and female end up taking up residence in our pond to build a nest and raise their young. Usually the initial flock consists of 10-12 geese and somehow it is narrowed down to one pair. This morning imagine my surprise when I saw no less than 100 geese in my front yard. No kidding! It looked like a Wild Goose Convention! (I'll post a picture of the geese when I get my camera back...I left it at Moma and Daddy's tonight)

Speaking of wild geese...sometimes I feel like I am on a wild goose chase, seeking or pursuing something that doesn't exist. Don't get me wrong, I know God is real. I know He cares about every detail of my life. I believe Jeremiah 29 :11 "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." But do you remember playing Dodge Ball as a child? Well, that's what my life has been like for a year now. Constantly watching, dodging assaults, attacks, and often getting hit hard. It can be exhausting spiritually, physically, and emotionally. Yes, sometimes I feel doubtful, mistrusting, I wonder, even doubt this relationship, this gift of Love ... God's Love for me. But as I looked to the Word today I was reminded that I live by faith, not feelings. Feelings shift and change but "Faith is the substance of things hoped for, and the evidence of things unseen," (Hebrews 11:1) Faith requires something more demanding - believing in something you cannot see. The verse "Walk by faith, not by sight" (Romans 4:12) is a command. Christ spoke some very strong words when He said, "Without faith it is impossible to please God." (Hebrews 11:6) I like this quote by Coach Bear Bryant, "Whenever you're in trouble and you don't know which way to turn, go back to the basics." The basics are that He really loves me and He knows my heart is hurting. Perhaps instead of chasing, pursuing ... this wild goose chase I seem to be on ... I should rest, surrender again, daily giving in to His pursuit and realize that He reaches out to me long before I even think about loving Him. He pursues me when I am running away from Him. All He wants to do is to love me.

Father, forgive me when I doubt and mistrust. I know YOU are with me in the fire. I know you have not left my side. Thank you for pursuing me. Thank you for your love most of all. AMEN.

Praise God

Krista and Chris - Kauai, Hawaii 10/1/08
291. my niece, Krista got engaged to Chris Janos
292. my baby brother home from Angola, Africa
293. a long nap

Praise God from Whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, ye heavenly host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
Thom­as Ken, 1674

Friday, October 3, 2008

Blessed

How many times do we miss blessings
because they are not packaged as we expected?
290. Malli's blue eyes

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever. Psalm 23:6

I love this picture of Malli. Her happy, cheerful, content, peaceful spirit ... and those blue eyes. She is such a blessing! I remember a few months before she was born I heard the song Blessed by Elton John on the radio. At that time I had no idea about the joy this child would bring me. I heard the song on the radio today and just had to post the words here.

Great lyrics.

Hey you, you're a child in my head
You haven't walked yet
Your first words have yet to be said
But I swear you'll be blessed
I know you're still just a dream
Your eyes might be green
Or the bluest that I've ever seen
Anyway you'll be blessed
And you, you'll be blessed
You'll have the best
I promise you that
I'll pick a star from the sky
Pull your name from a hat
I promise you that,
promise you that,
promise you that
You'll be blessed
I need you before I'm too old
To have and to hold
To walk with you
and watch you grow
And know that you're blessed
Music by Elton John
Lyrics by Bernie Taupin

Is that really a pumpkin?


‘Beauty is no quality in things themselves:
It exists merely in the mind which contemplates them.’
-David Hume
I was always told 'beauty is in the eye of the beholder.'
The minute I saw it, the bumpy pumpkin, as it has been since named, I knew I had to have it. I was really attracted to it.
He said, "Is that really a pumpkin? It's so ugly! It looks more like a Chinese Shar-Pei than a pumpkin. Look at all these normal ones ... orange, smooth, perfect for carving."
Realizing I was oddly attracted to its ugly-beauty, and perhaps trying to redeem his insult to the unusual ghourd, he placed it in my cart and said, "it's yours...now, tell me what you are going to do with it."
I beamed like a child that had just opened a much-wanted Christmas gift. Rubbing my hands over its peculiar, pitted surface I replied, "it will be the centerpiece on the kitchen counter...it will usher in this season with its natural one-of-kind beauty."
Now I realize being a Halloween baby, (yes, I was born on Halloween) and being naturally drawn to Fall traditions and the sort, one might expect I would decorate my home according to this season. You would be correct in your assumption. However, this Fall I have minimalized the excessive decorations and gone for a more natural approach. The bumpy pumpkin is perfect for my theme.
I thought about why the bumpy pumpkin attracted me. I came to a conclusion. It's about being different, diverse. dissimilar. Not being a carbon copy. Being who you are ... even if you are just a bumpy pumpkin.
Now that's real beauty.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Secularism and Secularization

Do not be
conformed
to this world,
but be
transformed
by the
renewal of your mind,
that by testing you may
discern
what is
the will of God,
what is
good and acceptable and perfect.
Romans 12:2-3


I recently learned about a man named Os Guiness. His family can be traced back to Hudson Taylor—the famous missionary to China. His grandparents and parents were all missionaries. Os was born in China during World War II and survived the 1949 Communist Revolution. Os remembers living through the house arrest of his missionary parents and a widespread famine that took the lives of five million people.

Here is what Os says about secularism/secularization.
Please take the time to read this....

"Secularism is a philosophy, the idea that there are no gods, no supernatural: atheism, naturalism, and science. That is secularism: a philosophy. Secularization is a process, and it should be distinguished [from secularism]. It is the idea that as the world gets more modern, it gets less religious. Now the theory of secularization was actually grossly overstated for the first 200 years, and it has collapsed. It used to be thought [that] the world inevitably gets less religious as it gets more modern. So Europe was the model and the United States was the exception for the moment, but the whole world would eventually go the way of Europe. That’s now being seen to have the bias of a secular philosophy behind it. It is wrong. Empirically it is wrong. Philosophically it is biased. So the secularization theory is under heavy assault today. But there is some effect of secularization. For instance, in our modern world, most of us, even as Christians, have a tendency to be atheists unawares in the sense [that, like] the modern world, [we put] all the premium on the five senses—what you can touch, taste, see, calculate, measure, weigh, and so on. So [in] many churches the whole understanding is this side of the feeling. You know, I have rarely been in churches in the United States where sometimes in the sermon or worship the ceiling was punctured and you knew you were in the presence of the transcendent. I have rarely experienced that over here, because it is all this side of the ceiling. And you look at, say, much of the church growth movement: They know everything about parking lot theory, the color that your tie has to be, and all sorts of things to grow the perfect church. The church could operationally go on for 50 years if the Holy Spirit withdrew altogether, because it is all this side of the ceiling, it’s all worldly operational procedures. We have actually been much more secularized than we realize. That is why brothers and sisters from Africa or Asia, they know the power of Spirit…for healing or other areas, which many of us in the West simply don’t know. We have words like prayer or the supernatural, but a direct living experience of them we often don’t have.…"

Persecution


This is an email alert I received
from GOSPEL FOR ASIA concerning the latest persecution
of Christians in India. Please join me in praying for our sisters and brothers ...

Three More Christians Killed in Orissa; Opposition Reported in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar
Thousands of Christians, like this woman, were made homeless by attacks led by Hindu extremists in Orissa, India.
Three more believers were martyred and twelve others were severely wounded in a fresh wave of violence in Orissa, India, on September 30. The latest attacks occurred in villages near Kandhamal, which has been the epicenter of violence against Christians since August 22.
The violence in Orissa came as attacks in two other Indian states targeted a Christian pastor and a Bridge of Hope center.
An estimated 30 Christians have been killed and thousands of others have lost their homes since Hindu extremists went on a rampage after their leader, Swami Laxmananda Saraswati was murdered. His followers are seeking revenge for his death, for which Christians have been blamed. However, Maoists have claimed responsibility for the murder.
A Gospel for Asia correspondent in Orissa said Tuesday's attacks came at 4:30 a.m. when mobs of as many as 5,000 Hindu extremists attacked three separate villages. The extremists burned down about 150 homes and three churches. The Indian media reports that police opened fire in an attempt to disperse the violent forces.
The mob also reportedly attacked the local police station, demanding that two people arrested in connection with the ongoing riots be released. Media reports from within the country also indicate that the extremists have blocked all roads in and out of the area of the attack with rocks and boulders to prevent police from bringing in additional forces.
Since the violence began August 22, six people who attended GFA-related churches in Orissa have been killed by the Hindu extremists, who have personally attacked more than 2,000 believers from these churches. The extremists have also burned down 630 homes belonging to believers who attend GFA-related churches and destroyed 22 churches where GFA missionaries serve as pastors.
Many Christians are still hiding out in the dense jungles surrounding their villages. They are suffering from the effects of starvation, disease and monsoon flooding that wrecked the state in September.
With the continued violence and the roads blocked, it is impossible for GFA Compassion Services teams to get into Orissa to distribute aid.


Missionary Beaten in Uttar Pradesh
Gospel for Asia missionaries are also dealing with persecution in Uttar Pradesh, where Hindu extremists have attacked a pastor and have set their sites on a Bridge of Hope center.
On October 1, the extremists attacked a Bridge of Hope center and a church in Magapatti, Uttar Pradesh. The pastor of the church, who is a GFA missionary, was badly beaten in the attacks.
Hindu extremists continue their campaign to obliterate Christians in Orissa, India. On Tuesday, they destroyed another 150 homes like this one, along with three churches.
The extremists have been systematically threatening the parents of the children in the Bridge of Hope center for the past few weeks. The center was closed as a precaution and no children were on site when the extremists attacked the missionary.

Christian Aid Workers Forced Out of Bihar
Another gang of anti-Christian extremists forced out Christian aid workers attempting to help survivors of flooding in Bihar. The incident occurred on September 25 in the state's Purnia district where aid workers were assessing needs and handing out cards for people to exchange for supplies. The group was planning to help at least 2,500 families.
The extremists accused the group of taking advantage of the situation to lure the people into Christianity by offering relief materials.
The aid workers, who have been in Bihar since September 1, were able to move their base to another area and continue operations.
GFA missionaries in the affected areas shared the following prayer requests:

Please pray for the families of those killed in Orissa, that they would be comforted by the Word of God and that they would remain strong in the midst of intense persecution.

Pray for those wounded in Tuesday's attacks. Several of them have life-threatening injuries and are not expected to live. Pray for their healing and that it would be a testimony of God's glory.

Pray for the people hiding in the jungles and those living in relief camps. Pray especially that God would provide a way for Compassion Services teams to reach them.

Pray for healing for the missionary in Uttar Pradesh.

Pray that the Bridge of Hope center in that community would be able to reopen and that the children could go to school without fear.

Pray for the many Christian organizations attempting to distribute relief supplies in Bihar.

Pray for the extremist and militant groups who are opposing the Gospel to come to know Jesus as their Savior.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Sacrifice

Greg on the coast of Africa
This is how we've come to understand
and experience love:
Christ
sacrificed
his life
for us.
This is why we ought to
live sacrificially...
1 John 3:17

I spoke to him, my little brother on a cell phone today. Not so unusual if it weren't for the fact that he is in Africa ... a different continent, strangely, uncomfortably different from anything he has ever experienced. Describing the smells, the tastes, and the sights of a foreign place, his heart aching for home, he told tales that will be cemented in his mind, and heart forever. And mine.

We take so much for granted. Gifts unrecognized ...

285. access to clean water daily
286. electricity at the flip of a switch
287. telephone service
288. public service
289. good roads

We as a nation, and individual Christians are segregated from the real world. One fourth of the world's population lives on an income of less than $1 a day. (1)
Sad, but we often spend our money on unnecessary purchases. Even our churches are wasteful. K. P. Yohannan (Gospel For Asia) states, "There is such an emphasis on church buildings in the United States that we sometimes forget that the Church is the people --- not the place where the people meet.... God is calling us as Christians to alter our lifestyles, to give up the nonessentials of our lives so we can better invest our wealth in the kingdom of God."

In his book Revolution in World Missions, K. P. goes on to challenge American believers ...

Why do you think God has allowed you to be born in North America rather that among the poor of Africa and Asia and to be blessed with such material and spiritual abundance?

In light of the superabundance you enjoy here, what do you think is your minimal responsibility to the untold millions of lost and suffering ...?


Something to chew on, huh? Please let me know your thoughts.
And please remember my little brother, Greg and company in your prayers as they travel home from Africa to the U. S. this coming weekend.


Order your free copy of Revolution in World Missions at https://www.gfa.org/freebook

The World Bank, World Development Report 2000/2001: Attacking Poverty (New York , NY: Oxford University Press, 2001), pp. 21-24

Happy October!

Malli reading Halloween Shape Book
Malli - 3 months old

my little pumpkin