"Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.” Joshua 24:15

Monday, January 31, 2011

Just another Manic Monday

Wow! What a busy weekend and Monday.  It is now 9:00 p.m., and I am just now sitting down for the first time since I've been home.  Actually, I just got home about 45 minutes ago and made a late dinner. Nonetheless, it's my time to write.  Today is yet another Make a Difference Monday--the day of the week that we purposefully try to make a positive difference in people's lives.  I found that, for one reason or another, I had a more difficult time finding opportunities to  make a difference in people's lives today.

A couple of hours after arriving at work, I had a training session in another building on campus.  It could be said that I blessed someone when I gave up my highly coveted, excellent parking space, by moving my car to a not so great parking spot at the University Computing Center.  Then, when I was in my morning training session, I made a point not exiting the class early.  I mean, I didn't want the instructor to feel like she wasn't doing a great job training me.  She was.  She couldn't help that it was a terribly boring class; the presentation screen wasn't functioning properly, and I knew that I could retrieve the 'unknown' information online. OK.  Well, maybe she could, but that's irrelevant.  So....I guess I made a difference in the instructor's life by not leaving early, thus causing her not to wonder if her teaching skills needed honing. Hmm. I somehow have a feeling that this is not what Make a Difference Monday is all about.

Geesh!  I was having a difficult time with this.  I typically work by myself at work, come home and spend the evening with my family.  It was on my way home that something happened.  I was near work, and I saw a homeless man begging on the street corner.  It's not for me to know or judge just why he was there--what circumstances led him to become a beggar.   Nope.  My job is just to bless and make a positive difference in his life.  Show him God's love in this hurting and broken world.  Be God's hands and feet.  Warm his heart, body and soul on this freezing cold afternoon.  So....I gave him some money, and then went to McDonalds and bought him a large coffee and two McDoubles.  Then, I returned to 'his' street corner and handed him the goods.  I'm pretty sure it warmed his heart, body and soul.  I know it did mine. Now, that's what we're talking about.

This man got me thinking that there must be many, many more ways to make a difference today (and everyday).  So...on my way to Physical Therapy, I decided to stop at the Oregon Library, return a bunch of DVDs and pay my daughter's very large library fine.  Now, that would totally bless her.  The Oregon library has been turning into a self service branch for some time now, and I wasn't sure how to self service pay a fine.  I mean, it was so large, I figured I would need some help because I would actually have to use a credit card.  Yes, it was way into the double digits.

We love our library so much, we visit it practically daily.  If not daily, then at least four times weekly.  My family knows all of the librarians and workers by name, and they know us.  As former homeschoolers, we read a LOT and love to hang out there.  So, I asked a worker behind the front counter if I could pay my forgetful daughter's fine. I say, forgetful, because if she would have remembered to return her books on time, I may have been able to go straight to Physical Therapy.  Oh yeah, but then I wouldn't have the opportunity to bless her monetarily.  He stood there looking at me, as I handed him my Mastercard.  I explained that her fine was rather large, and he just smiled and said he was waiting for me to give him her library card.  Since we frequent there constantly, and order books online, etc., I have all of our library card numbers memorized.  I mean, who doesn't? Right?

I explained how my daughter in question has been so totally stressed with homework that she had forgotten about all of her books.  I handed him my card and we began talking. I told him how she had gone to Jamaica with me and worked for a week, and then went to Washington D.C. for the right to life rally, and was just so swamped with homework, work and life in general, that she had just forgotten to return them.  I mean this was a total of maybe 30-45 seconds of conversation.  He then purposefully looked at me, smiled, returned my card to me and said that he was writing off her fine.  Did I mention that this was an extremely large one?  I mean a pretty expensive one?  He said, "It's the least I can do."  I was totally stunned. I put my hands to my face and cried at his kindness and generousity.  I told him that it wasn't necessary, and he repeated, "it's the least I can do."  Wow.  I wonder if he listens to K-love and was practicing Make a Difference Monday.  He surely made a difference in my day.

It was nice to be on the receiving end of a MAD Monday experience.  It really reinforced just what it was all about--really making a difference and causing someone to be happier.  What a testimony to kindness and goodness.  I then went to Physical Therapy.  When I was done, I was totally exhausted and ready to go home. My eldest daughter, however, had asked me to work out with her at the UT Rec center, and I had previously agreed to.  I was totally feeling the pain of a very manic Monday, however, I knew that it would bless her and me.  So...I went directly to her dorm, picked her up, and we worked out together.

We are always blessed when we are able to work out together.  I love spending the time with her, hanging out, and fellowshipping, all the while actually doing something great for our mental and physical health.  Yup, this was making a positive difference in both our lives. Finally, exhausted, wet (from the hot tub), and cold, I meandered home and cooked a very late dinner--to bless my two teens who were at a basketball game.  Warm bbq pork chops always hit the spot on a cold winter evening.

All in all, it was a good MADD Monday, albeit manic.  I ran from the moment my feet hit the floor this morning, until the moment I sat down to write this blog.  Ok--I sat down on the machines when I was working out, and we sat in the hot tub.  But other than those times, my feet were totally running.  Unfortunately, the day isn't over quite yet.  My son is diligently trying to get our snow blower started to ensure that we'll be able to plow our driveway in the morning.  He's hoping that the local high school will be canceled, but I highly doubt the University, where I work, will be canceled.  I can only hope. Yes, the weather man is calling for lots of snow tonight and even more snow tomorrow.  Maybe Wednesday, the University will totally bless me by canceling classes and work for everyone. Hmmm.

Anyway, with Jonathan already gearing up to plow the snow in the morning, I can already envision tomorrow becoming a Make a Difference Tuesday.  Now, if UT will only cancel classes and work on Wednesday, this may just become a trend.  Have you made a positive difference in someone's life today?  Has someone specifically made a positive difference in your life today?  If so, leave a comment and let me know.  I'd love to read about it.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

One Moment in Time

Yesterday marked the 25th anniversary of the Challenger explosion.  I can't believe it's actually been 25 years since that tragic day.  I remember sitting in a restaurant and eating lunch, when I saw Challenger's explosion--the flashes in the sky of smoke and remnants of the shuttle.  Just seventy three seconds after liftoff, the Space Shuttle Challenger was entirely destroyed.  It was horrific and unexpected.  I was totally stunned.  One moment, I, along with our entire country, was optimistic, and the next moment, we were all completely devastated and in a state of shock.  What had just happened?  In the span of just 72 seconds, our Nation was forever changed.

It's amazing just how quickly one moment can change lives forever.   Just one moment in time.  How one action or inaction can alter everything forever. Time waits for no-one, but everyone values it differently:

~To realize the value of one year:
      Ask a student who has failed a final exam.
~To realize the value of one month:
      Ask a mother who has given birth to a premature baby.
~To realize the value of one week:
      Ask an editor of a weekly newspaper.
~To realize the value of one hour:
      Ask the lovers who are waiting to meet.
~To realize the value of one minute:
      Ask the person who has missed the train, bus or plane.
~To realize the value of one-second:
      Ask a person who has survived an accident.
~To realize the value of one millisecond:
      Ask the person who has won a silver medal in the Olympics.

I got to thinking about how I value my time.  Is it as important to me as it should be?  I mean, I'm not an Olympian or a competitive runner; I haven't had a premature baby, nor due I publish a weekly paper.  Ah...but I do have the same 24 hours in a day that everyone has.  Do I choose to use my time--wisely, wildly, creatively, constructively, lazily?  Am I using it the way the Lord wants me to?

In Ephesians, Paul writes that our time on earth is short, so we must be careful and conscientious about how we use the time allotted to us--redeeming it by using it to further God's kingdom. So what  does all this mean?  It means that we must be ready, at all times, for any and everything.  Waiting in watch, as our Heavenly Father has instructed us to be. It means that we need to be mindful and purposeful during our daily activities.  Each thing we do has the possibility of changing someone's life forever.

The quick smile that we offer may alter someone's otherwise suicidal thoughts.  The slowing down of our vehicle to let another pass, may alter that driver's road rage, thus saving lives.  Buying a hot cup of coffee for the homeless beggar in January, may not only warm his stomach, but it may warm his soul.  Yet, it only takes a moment of our time.  The time it takes to say, "I love you," to hug the unhuggable (is that even a word?), to sympathize with the war veteran, to empathize with the hurting, and to nurse the broken is only a moment in our lives. I hope I'm using my moments in time to bless others as many others have used theirs to bless me.

"They'll be two dates on my tombstone, and all my friends will read them.  All that really matters, though, is the little dash between them."

I love that saying because it is so very true.We are all given the exact same 1440 minutes a day--how we choose to use those moments is what is critical.  I know that if I remain purposeful and mindful of my time, I will be more likely to use it wisely for the betterment of others.  What are you going to do with your 1440 minutes today?  This weekend?  Take one of those minutes and leave me a comment and let me know.

Friday, January 28, 2011

A Word is a Word

I was listening to K-Love on the radio today, and the co-hosts were talking about having a word for the year 2011. Not a phrase. Not an expression. Not a proverb or a conversation.  But a word.  Just one word.  Come on.  I really need an entire sentence.  No, let's make that a paragraph or a book.  But just one word.  Hmmm.  One caller said she has chosen the word, "Amazing."  She worked at a Christian medical center, and she wanted her services to be "amazing" for her clients, her clients to be "amazed," her spiritual life to be "amazing."  She wanted her life to be an "amazing" testimony to others.  Another caller said that her word for 2011 was, "More."  "More" of God, "more" of life, "more" of the Word, "more" of friendships.  I can't remember what the co-hosts' words for the year were because I had already begun mentally asking the Lord what my word should be.  Immediately, the word "Comfort" came to mind, and it has been in my mind ever since. Whenever the Spirit speaks to me, it's generally immediate, and if I haven't learned anything else in my life, I have learned to listen to Him.  So, I guess, "Comfort" it is.

"Comfort."  I kind of like that word.  It seems to roll off my lips.  From my mouth to God's ears. Yes, 2011 will be a year of "Comfort" for me and my family.  Not in the sense of materialism, but rather in the emotional and spiritual sense.  Comfort from the past twelve months--it's tragedies and challenges, it's ups and downs, it's endless dragging on...it seemed so very much longer than the twelve months that it actually was.  There were times that it seemed to last 36 months.   Yes, comfort from extreme grief and sadness, from dashed dreams and hopes, from the things that happen when we live in an imperfect world.  Comfort to rest in the arms of our Savior, our Comforter.  To be lulled by the sound of contentment and peacefulness in our daily lives. To be able to spend more time smelling the roses, playing with the dogs, leisurely walking in the park, and going through old photographs. To be able to laze around, on a Sunday afternoon, sipping tea and laying in the hammock.  Ok, maybe not tea, but a diet coke.  Now, that would be comforting.

2 Corinthians 1:3-4 says, "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God."

Comfort. It's definition is actually pretty comforting.  "To soothe, console, or reassure; bring cheer to.  To make physically comfortable."  There are so many synonyms for the word, and they all sound good and conjure up thoughts of sunny afternoons and hammocks.  "Pacify, calm, solace, gladden, relieve, soothe, to lessen the sadness of someone, to make grief or distress seem lighter, by means of kindness and thoughtful attentions." Wow.  I mean who wouldn't choose that word for themselves for the year 2011?

I love this word for 2011, not only because my family needs and craves comfort right now, but because I also want to be a comforter--the one comforting those who many need it.  I want to be used as a comforter in this world of hurt and pain; become a friend to the otherwise friendless, give hope to the otherwise hopeless, and give help to the otherwise helpless.  It is not necessarily what I would have chosen for myself, at this particular time in my life, but then again, there's never any time like the present.  Had I gotten to choose a word for me for 2011 (instead of the Holy Spirit choosing for me), I would have chosen a word like, "Joy," or "Fun," or "Fascinating."  Those just sound happy and inviting; they sound, ah.....fun!  And everyone, especially me, enjoys having good, clean, fun!!!  After thinking about it, however, because I envision 2011 to be so very different from 2010, that I would may chosen something like, "Change," "Revolution," "Astounding."   But, I guess, "Comfort," it is.

I foresee 2011 also being the year of service for our family.  "Service" wasn't my word for the year, but I consider service to be a part of "Comfort."  Service to those less fortunate--either in their physical circumstances or in the spiritual or emotional circumstances.  I know, in my circle of friends, there is something we practice called MAD Mondays--Make a Difference Mondays.  Yes, we borrowed the idea from the radio station (gotta love K-Love in the mornings).  We try to just make a difference in our world, in some way--big or small--just a difference.  From paying a drive through order bill for the person behind us, to pumping gas for someone, to shoveling someone's snow, raking their leaves, just smiling more and complaining less. The bottom line is that we are making a difference--through service.  When I really focus on MAD Mondays, I realize that acts of service should just be innate within us--just a common act that surfaces everywhere and everyday in our lives.

If January, 2011, is in any way, a foreshadow of how the remainder of the year will pan out for me and my family, look out, because it's going to be fabulous.  I am so very excited.  Things are definitely moving and shaking, and I have a front row seat.We began our year by going to Jamaica and working with some that are seemingly less fortunate than us, however, the Jamaicans actually comforted us.  I've come to realize that the Jamaican people are not less fortunate than us, rather they are more fortunate in so very many ways. While the divorce rate in America is a staggering 4.95 per 1,000 marriages, the Jamaican divorce rate is .38 per 1,000 marriages.  YES!   The climate is outstanding; over 66% of the country actually practices Christianity; communities have a sense of ownership and tend to watch over each other.  My family and I wanted to help relieve, soothe and pacify those that needed it, to lessen the sadness of so many people and make their burdens seem lighter, and yet the Jamaicans did all that for us.  They proved the adage, 'It isn't what you have that makes you happy, it's Who you know," and a lot of them know Jesus.  Yes, a life lived in service to others is a life well lived.  I hope 2011 allows and encourages us to "Comfort" as many as possible.

When I think about a word for 2010, I think of "Unpredictable"   and "Challenging." Ha.  That hits the proverbial nail on the head.  It was definitely unpredictable and challenging, to say the least.  When I think about it though, I tend to remember the many negative things that occured, without really considering the many, many positive, life changing, amazing things that happened, as well.   It can be said that 2010 was a wonderful year for us.  Hello? 

--I was totally, miraculously, supernaturally, healed of cancer;
--Joy graduated from high school (my first homeschooler);
--Bethany turned 17, Joy 19 and Jonathan 15;
--Jonathan began high school;
--Bethany became a Senior;
--Joy began college;
--My job went to full time status;
--I remained employed when so many were being laid off;
--The holidays were great;
--Our family bonded more than it ever has, and those cords of 4 have never been stronger.
--Our faith was tested, and we passed with flying colors.  

2010 was also a year of growth, both for me personally, and for my family.  Spiritually, emotionally and mentally.  The Lord led me to start officially attending the church where my children had been going to youth group for years  I loved my former church, but apparently, my season of attendance there was nearing a close.  I know that I grew a lot during that decision-making process.  It wasn't easy, but it was necessary, and it was a very eye opening experience.  We learned a lot from people's reactions to our departure and a lot from our reactions to them.  We grew spiritually because we had to rely on the Lord for most everything last year.  He was the only constant in our lives, when it seemed that everything in our lives was changing. The Lord constantly revealed his mercy and grace to us by constantly answering our prayers and moving us forward in His will.

I don't know just what words the Lord would have for my children have this year, but I have a feeling each of them will be spectacular.  I would wish "Joy," and "Happiness," for each of them.  "Wisdom" and "Discernment," would be awesome choices, as well.  I highly doubt they would choose my word, "Comfort," however,  I know that it will not only be a great one for me, but it will also benefit all three of my children and those that we come in contact with.

What word would you choose for 2011?  Amazing, More, Fascinating, Change, Happiness, Comfort?  Pray about it, as only you will know.  Feel free to leave a comment and share your word for 2011 with me.  I would love to hear it.  Just by speaking/writing it, it makes it more real.

May you blessed immeasurably this year as you live out your word.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

A Legacy

As I near the next decade of my life, I am consciously aware that I want to leave a legacy.  A positive legacy.  Sure, I am still two years away from the big five oh, but goodness, a legacy is something that is created over time, nurtured like a garden and cherished like fine china.  Why?  Because I want my children to know that I stood for something, and that my life on this earth (albeit temporary) meant something substantial to both them and to my corner of the world.  I love Nichole Nordeman's song, "Legacy."

"I don't mind if you've got something nice to say about me.
And I enjoy an accolade like the rest.
You could take my picture and hang it in a gallery.
Of all who's who and so-n-so's that used to be the best.
At such'n'such ... it wouldn't matter much.

I won't lie, it feels alright to see your name in lights.
We all need an 'Atta boy' or 'Atta girl'
But in the end I'd like to hang my hat on more besides
The temporary trappings of this world.

I want to leave a legacy
How will they remember me?
Did I choose to love? Did I point to You enough
To make a mark on things?
I want to leave an offering.
A child of mercy and grace who
blessed your name unapologetically
And leave that kind of legacy.

I don't have to look too far or too long awhile
To make a lengthly list of all that I enjoy
It's an accumulating trinket and a treasure pile
Where moth and rust, thieves and such will soon enough destroy
Not well traveled, not well read, not well-to-do or well bred
Just want to hear instead, "Well Done" good and faithful one..."

Amen.  I want this to become one of my many mantras.  Is what I am doing today something that will assist me in leaving a positive legacy or a negative one?  Would my character still shine when no one is looking?  Would I still bless another person even I knew they wouldn't notice and no one else would know?  Is what I am doing making a difference in the life of someone less fortunate, in my family's lives, in my own little corner of the world?  Will my children be able to honestly speak good things of me, and more importantly, will I hear, "Well done, good and faithful servant," when I need to hear that most?

I want to pass on a legacy that is consistent with the Word of God, my belief in the Lord Jesus Christ, my pro-life stance, my political stance, my heart of worship and dance, a servant's heart in a 'master's heart' world.  I want my children to know that the Word of God is 'sharper than any double edged sword, penetrating even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.'  That the Word is infallible, to be trusted always, and is true.  That the stories of Noah, Jonah, Esther, Ruth, Jacob, Joseph, Jesus, Paul and Deborah are as true today as they were back then.

I want them to know that there is only one way to heaven--there is only one Way, Truth and Life, and that Jesus is it.  There aren't any compromises, and it is not unreasonable or intolerant to only follow that One way.  I want them to know that I knew that I couldn't get to heaven by just believing in myself, by following Oprah or Ellen, by praying to Allah or Buddah, but only through the door of Jesus Christ.  And I want them to know mercy, grace and forgiveness.  I only hope and pray that I have been able to model that so that will become a part of my legacy.  I want people to know that God's mercy and grace are unlimited, his forgiveness is forever.

I want them to know that a life is a life, no matter how precious or how small.  That no one can refute the fact that life begins at conception and continues until the day that person (and yes, I said person and not fetus) dies a natural death.  I want them to know that I fought the good fight for protecting 'even the least of these' little children when society said that it wasn't politically correct.  I want them to know that being politically correct is typically not the way I lived my life and typically not the way I would like them to live theirs.

I want my legacy to cause people to remember that when the Holy Spirit hits you, it's best to react; when your heart tells you to sing and dance before the Lord, just do it; when the going gets tough (and it will), turn to God, the Author and Finisher of our faith.  I want it to remind them that there are others in our world that need our resources and love more than we do.  They crave attention, kindness, goodness and God's love, just as much, if not more, than we do, and it is our responsibility to ensure they get it.  That just because we have been blessed beyond measure, by having been born in this great country, doesn't mean that we should just bask in it's goodness.  We need to 'share the wealth, the health, and the faith.'

I want my children to know that I valued my position as a mother more than any other position on this earth.  Although I earned wonderful grades, had many degrees, and great positions throughout my life, it would not have meant anything if I hadn't had my children to come home to every evening.  It would not have meant anything if I didn't know that my children were truly walking in the truth.  I want them to value family over possessions, relationships over money, and faith over everything else.  I want them to remember that it is better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all, to take chances, to work hard and play even harder, to dance as if no one is watching, that they are beautiful and were made for such a time as this.

I want my legacy to scream those little things in life that make life fun, those things that parents learn from having active boys and curious girls--

1. A king size waterbed holds enough water to fill a 2000 sq. ft. house 4 inches deep. 
2. If you spray hair spray on dust bunnies and run over them with roller blades, they can ignite.  
3. A 3-year old's voice is louder than 200 adults in a crowded restaurant. 
4. If you hook a dog leash over a ceiling fan, the motor is not strong enough to rotate a 42 pound child wearing Batman underwear and a Superman cape. It is strong enough, however, if tied to a paint can, to spread paint on all four walls of a 20x20 ft. room. 
5. You should not throw baseballs up when the ceiling fan is on. When using a ceiling fan as a bat, you have to throw the ball up a few times before you get a hit. A ceiling fan can hit a baseball a long way.  
6. The glass in windows (even double-pane) doesn't stop a baseball hit by a ceiling fan. 
7. When you hear the toilet flush and the words "uh oh", it's already too late. 
8. Brake fluid mixed with Clorox makes smoke, and lots of it.  
9. A six-year old Boy can start a fire with a flint rock even though a 36-year old man claims they can only do it in the movies. 
10. Certain Lego's will pass through the digestive tract of a 4- year old.
11. Play dough and microwave should not be used in the same sentence. 
12. Super glue is forever. 
13. No matter how much Jell-O you put in a swimming pool you still can't walk on water. 
14. Pool filters do not like Jell-O.  
15. VCR's do not eject "PB & J" sandwiches even though TV commercials show they do. 
16. Garbage bags do not make good parachutes. 
17. Marbles in gas tanks make lots of noise when driving.  
18. The spin cycle on the washing machine does not make earthworms dizzy  
19. It will, however, make pets dizzy.   
20. Dogs and cats (and hamsters) throw up twice their body weight when dizzy.  

Yes, I want that to be my legacy, too.  I want them to be able to experience something, that would be otherwise frustrating and crazy, and be able to laugh it off.  To realize that kids will  be kids and that all kids are typically the same--they all crave love and attention.  Who doesn't?

Tonight, as I am playing a board game with my son, or watching a movie with my daughter, or cooking dinner for my family, may I remember that everything I do may become a part of my legacy, and let it be 'good.'

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

You're Beautiful

As I sit here and listen to MercyMe's "Beautiful" lyrics, I am acutely reminded of how much of the world's thinking has infiltrated our society.  I'm reminded of the countless number of young girls who are struggling with body image issues because they don't feel beautiful--who believe the lie that you must have a certain look to be considered beautiful--who follow the images of Hollywood instead of the images of Esther, Ruth, Deborah and Mary--who look to others for their beauty instead of to their inner self.  I am reminded of who I once was and who I am now.

"Days will come when you don't have the strength;
When all you hear is, "You're not worth anything."
Wondering if you ever could be loved
And if they truly saw your heart, they'd see too much.

You're beautiful.
You're beautiful.
You are made for so much more than all of this.
You're beautiful.
You're beautiful.
You are treasured, you are sacred, you are His.
You're beautiful.

Praying that you have the heart to fight
Cause you are more than what is hurting you tonight
For all the lies you've held inside so long,
They are nothing in the shadow of the cross.

You're beautiful.
You're beautiful.
You are made for so much more than all of this.
You're beautiful.
You're beautiful.
You are treasured, you are sacred, you are His.
You're beautiful.

Before you ever took a breath;;
Long before the world began
Of all the wonders He possessed,
There was one more precious
Of all the earth and skies above,
You're the one He madly loves-----enough to die.

You're beautiful.
You're beautiful in His eyes."

Wow!  How many people actually believe this song?  Actually walk that walk that this song speaks of?  Actually believe it so much that they can walk confidently down the street and not be defined by their appearance, their shoe size, the size of their nose, the height of their body, the mismatching of their imperfect eyes or ears or feet?    I recently heard a friend smirk, "Women will never be equal to men until they can confidently walk down a street, with a bald head and huge belly, and consider themselves good looking."  Ha.  Isn't that the truth?  How many people, women especially, truly believe that they are truly beautiful? Not just on the inside, but on the outside, too.    Isn't that what so many of us crave and want.  To be both beautiful on the inside AND on the outside.

Sure, most of our mothers told us we were beautiful, but did we really feel so?  I don't think so.  Those high school cheerleaders that worked so hard on their body image.  Did they feel beautiful?  The hometown football heroes, who reveled in their football victories.  Did they feel beautiful or did they have to win to make themselves feel so?  Did they realize that they are all, we are all, the ones He madly loves?

Ah....to be madly loved.  Who really has that?  I can't say that I know too many people who do.  I remember feeling madly loved when I first fell in love.  It was totally awesome, surreal, and breathtaking and beautiful.  But, unfortunately, sometimes that only lasts for so long.  I may madly love someone, but I may not feel madly loved by anyone......except the Lord.  Thank God for the Lord.  For when I mess up and can't figure a way out.  I am still madly loved.  When I fall apart under the stress of it all.  I am madly loved.  When my boyfriend leaves,  I am still madly loved.  When my puppy dies, when life doesn't turn out the way that I think it should or I thought it would, when my bestest friend in the entire world ditches me, when I lose my job, when I'm bullied....yes, I am still madly loved.

I don't think I thoroughly recognized and internalized this concept during my high school and college years.  I was bullied beyond belief, and didn't feel madly loved at all.  I didn't even feel liked.  It wasn't until after college, when I began to remember that He died for me, as if I were the only one on this planet, and then I sort of remembered that He madly loved me.  I may not have felt it, but somewhere in my inner core, I knew it.  I knew that eventually everything would be ok because I was madly loved.  Just like when I was diagnosed with cancer, I knew everything was going to be ok, because I was madly loved and madly in love.

When I feel madly loved, I am happy; I am esctatic, love struck.  I can hear the birds chirping even when they are only thinking of chirping; I can smell the flowers in January; I can hear the water rush in 10 degrees below zero; I can picture myself in Maui in January; I can envision complete health when battling cancer; I can do almost anything that I want to....all because I feel madly loved.  No wonder the Lord wants us to remember that.  He wants us to experience that 'falling in love' feeling.  Just like the words in Jason Gray's song, "More Like Falling in Love," beginning a relationship with Jesus has gotta be...

"More like falling in love
Than something to believe in.
More like losing my heart
Than giving my allegiance.
Caught up, called out
Come take a look at me now.
Its like I'm falling, Ohhhh
Its like I'm falling in love."

Remember,  your very first love?  I do.  I not only felt beautiful, but I felt madly loved.  May you feel truly beautiful, inside and out, and madly and passionately loved today and every day.

There aren't any Guarantees

My pastor reminded me Sunday that my life on this earth is but a second compared to eternity.  It's but a breadth.  As I sit here looking at our new Golden Retriever, Sam, I wonder if he realizes just how short his life may be.  When we rescued Sam, we were told that he was 6-7 years old and in good health.   After two weeks of our new ownership, our vet surprised us with the reality that Sam is actually 10-11 years old, practically blind and practically deaf.  He's arthritic to the max and has hip dysplasia.  Hmmm.  So, imagine our surprise, less than 8 weeks since our adoption, when Sam started displaying signs of extreme illness.  He's lethargic, swelling, etc.  Apparently, he was bitten by a spider and has suffered a severe allergic reaction. Such a sweet, sweet friend.

When I look at him, does he know that his life on this earth could be only a few more days, hours?  Then, I realize that my life on this earth may be just that, as well.  None of us know the exact date and time of our exit from this earth, and it's just as well that we don't.  Most of us are familiar with the saying, 'There are no guarantees in life except death and taxes."   Well, materialistically there aren't, but spiritually, there are.  We know that life will be hard, but we also know that there is a God who gives us mercy and grace, when we least deserve it, and provides an eternity of goodness for those who believe.

What would I do if I knew that my life on this earth would be ending shortly?  Would I work less?  Would I spend more time with my family?  With my children? In the Word? Dancing more and complaining less?  Would I try to make more of a difference on this earth?  Would I really attempt to make my mark on this temporary world and leave an eternal legacy for my children?  I hope so, but I really don't know what I would do.  When I ponder this question, I think about the 'Make a Difference Mondays' that a local radio station sponsors.  Why not "Make a Difference" everyday?  Why not make every day moments into WOW moments with my family and with others? 

Does Sam believe?  I doubt it.  I would love to think that I will see him again someday in heaven.  I just know that I need to make the best of every day, treat it as though it were my last and follow the adage, "Dance as if no one is watching, Sing as though no one is listening, and live as though it's your very last day."

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Big "C"

Wow, I began today with a text that a great friend of mine has a mass on his lungs, and it's one of two things--Cancer (with a big C) or cancer (with a little c).  Amongst the shock, disbelief and sorrow, I couldn't help but be reminded of my battle with cancer.  Is it doable?  For me it was.  Is it fun?  Most definitely not.  I've prayed and prayed today, for my friend. He doesn't even have insurance, and so his journey may be even longer than most.

Although I wouldn't wish this diagnosis on anyone, I can honestly say that this can be a time of extreme growth, both spiritually and emotionally.  I learned that the Only person I can rely on is the Lord--the Savior of our universe, the One who knows my comings and goings and knows each and everything about me.  The good, the bad and the ugly.  The healthy and the not so healthy.

Another thing I learned is that although I had cancer, it didn't have me.  Nor would I allow to have me, in any way, shape or form.  I tried to surround myself with positive people, those of 'like precious faith,' and not those whose lives revolved around drama or those who wanted me to know about their friends' battles with cancer.  Nope, this was mine, and I was going to own it.  It was not going to own me.  I would handle this the only way I knew how.  By taking it to the Lord in extreme and desperate prayer.

Whenever anything in my life has ever happened to me, I've always taken it to the Lord.  Wouldn't you take it to your best friend?  I know that I would, and I did.  I prayed for peace, wisdom and healing.  Isn't that all I really needed anyway?  Peace for the upcoming days and months, wisdom for how to handle this, and healing for anything and everything in my body.  I am a true believer in James 5:16, "The effectual, fervant prayer of a righteous man availeth much."  OK.  I may not be totally righteous, but I have been made righteous by the Blood of Jesus.  Thus, I felt qualified to pray.

I also believe that the Lord has provided doctors for us for a reason.  He has blessed them with the talent that they have and the wisdom that they use.  Unfortunately, many don't both to give our Creator credit, but it doesn't change the fact that doctors wouldn't be who they are had not the Lord had something to do with it.  My doctor is a Christian, and a wonderful one at that.  Yes, she saw the realistic side of things, the medically necessary side of things, the professional side of things, and the factual side of things.  I, however, tended to see the spiritual side of this thing.  I made the conscious decision to do exactly as my doctor asked me to do, I placed my faith in the Lord and in the wisdom that He bestowed upon the doctor I had chosen, and sought out alternative therapies.

All the while, people were nay saying, becoming dramatic, and telling me horror stories. Hmmm.  "What if the Lord chooses not to heal you?"  "What if you die?"  "Are you sure you know what you are doing?"  Geesh!  Enough already.  I surrounded myself with women like Mary, who always said, "The Lord has already healed you.  You just need to claim it and envision it."  "You've already asked God for a healing, now continually thank Him for it."  She picked me up when I started to become down because of the alternative therapies taking its toll on me.  My boyfriend was the Rock of Gilbralter, and always knew just the right thing to say and do.  Even though I was totally exhausted from doing treatments 6 days a week, working full time, being a single parent to three very active teenagers, and being a girlfriend, I knew that I knew that I knew that the Lord was working in me physically and spiritually.

He reminded me that my daily prayer for years has been 3 John 1:4, "I have no greater joy than to know that my children are walking in the truth."  Well, they were.  He reminded me of the many, many times He answered my calls for help, and gave me a peace that surpassed all understanding. He reminded me that I was not cancer, nor was I about cancer; I was merely a vessel with cancer that would stand with a victorious testimony.  And that I did.

Does that mean that the Lord chooses to heal everyone or that He just healed me because my faith was greater than others that have not yet manifested their healing?  Absolutely not!  I am positive that my faith wasn't any greater than  the countless people who are still awaiting a physical manifestation of their healing.  The Joni Erickson Tada's of cancer.  For whatever reason, the Lord chose to bless me.

Back to my friend, he's a believer, but all of this extreme faith thing is relatively new to him.  Hebrews 11:1 tells me that, "faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see."  It isn't hopeful expectation, rather it is the confidence that we know that we know about what we are unable to see. The question is how to relay this to someone else who just may not 'get it.'  I want him to have faith-in the Lord God of the Universe--the One that would have died even if my friend were the only person on the planet--the One who created our bodies and knows them better than anyone else--the One who created the Universe.

As I continue to pray this evening, I am asking the Holy Spirit to reveal Himself to my friend.  To cause him to want to dance and sing, as David did, to cause him to have the faith of Abraham, and to cause him to have the same supernatural healing that the Lord so blessed me with a year ago this month.

Home from D.C.

Bethany just came home from Washington D.C. after attending the 'Right to Life' rally at the Capitol.  I am so very proud of her--to stand up for something that she passionately believes in.  Even though she just returned from a week of service in Jamaica, she found the time to board a bus for the 9 hour drive and return home in time for school tomorrow.  That's dedication.  She just mentioned that she still has a bit of homework that is due tomorrow.  Wow!  I guess that means an exceptionally early morning for her.

When I think of what would drive someone to be so passionate about something, I think of Paul and Silas and their time in prison.  They were passionate about witnessing.  They were passionate about Salvation.  They were passionate about their relationship with Christ.  They Praised God and witnessed even during their pain and suffering and 'counted it pure joy.' Their proverbial shackles were loosed and their chains were just broken.  Literally and figuratively.  Their actual handcuffs/shackles were supernaturally loosed, as were their earthly shackles upon accepting Christ as their Savior.  

I'm not only proud of Bethany for acting on her beliefs, but also for just choosing to take a stand for life in a culture that generally diminishes life.  As Christians, we know that life begins long before birth-- at conception.  Praise God, He knew me before I was even born; even before I took a breath, He formed me in my mother's womb.

Yes, as another anniversary of Roe v. Wade passes, I praise God for the faithful who are willing to sacrifice for the unborn.  I hope and pray that we are all willing to sacrifice for something that we truly believe in.  "Whatever you do to the least of these my brothers, that you do unto Me."