"Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you." (I Thessalonians 5:16-18)

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

A Watchman's Hut in a Cucumber Field

"The daughter of Zion is left like a shelter in a vineyard,
Like a watchman's hut in a cucumber field, like a besieged city."

I've read many commentaries on this verse. There's not much explanation of Isaiah 1:8, but my first thought was... a watchman's hut in a cucumber field...isn't that silly? Cucumbers are melons...they lie on the ground...why would you need a watchman's hut?

Such a shelter protected a look-out for the crops. After the harvest, people would leave the shelter to fall into pieces.

Abraham ben Meīr Ibn Ezra wrote: And the daughter of Zion is left, etc. The fortified cities of Judah will be taken and only Zion will be left. fDlD The hut.TM The place for the watchman ; that is, the temple built in honour of the Almighty. fWD A lodge, where the watchman stays through the night. In the garden of cucumbers. Ruined36 (comp. lxv. 4).

And it made me sad. Because this is what is happening today. God is no longer on a throne. He's a 'good buddy' 'the man upstairs'...he's 'the homeboy'.


and we are allowing his temple...our hearts ... to be hardened into ruins.

I repeat Isaiah: "Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts."

2009 my prayer was that God would change my character.

My goal in 2010 is... that I would let Him.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Christmas 2009

So many things have changed...so many have stayed the same.
My three children's lives have had 'face lifts' and life is looking good for them.

I got to spend some time with my Michigan family at Thanksgiving. My two grandsons are past the "Nana" cuddling stage... and I had forgotten how children can become 'boneless' if they don't want you to hold them. All three children have distinct personalities, likes & dislikes and it does make me smile. My son and daughter in law are doing a good job raising these children...Kudos to them...it isn't easy...I know!

I've not met Geoff's fiancee Christina...she seems to be very good for and to my son. I'm happy that his life is good. Geoff and I have spent some good times on the phone. I miss him. Haven't seen him since 2003. He and Christina are getting married next year... it'll be a good time to see him in Wisconsin.

My daughter Melissa has succeeded in business and started really focusing on getting healthy this year. Under a medically supervised plan, she has now lost 56 pounds and counting. She looks GREAT, and is slowly realizing her success story. I'll keep pinching her so she'll know it's real!

My friends...those of you who post comments and those who just read... thank you for allowing me to be part of your lives.

God has been good to me this year. I among all women, am extremely blessed.
Merry CHRISTmas.

Monday, December 7, 2009

A fun Christmas

When I was 15 years old, my mother wrote poems and hung them on the Christmas tree. Instead of leaving our presents under the tree, "Santa" had mom write these poems. They were hints of where our Christmas gifts were hidden around the house.

That was fun.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Colds and coal

I'm battling a scratchy throat, stuffy nose, Lauren Bacall voice cold right now. I know it's from being in a plane for 1 1/2 hours with sick little kids and their parents just wanting to get home. Something about recycled air does that to us.

Feeling like yuck, the scheduled trip to Operation Christmas Child came on December 1. I drove a van full of mature adult volunteers who were just ready to serve.

I had never been to the OCC center before. Let me tell you it's a very well-oiled machine. I know it took them years to get to this point...but with hundreds of thousands of boxes coming through just the center in Charlotte, hundreds of volunteers coming daily...they had to get it working properly and quick!

We were told that the shoe boxes we were going through were going to Muslim nations. It's the first time the Muslim nations have allowed OCC to send toys, games, etc to their children. We had to be sure NO pigs, no mention of God and no American flags were in any of the boxes.

Who knew there would be so many PIGS????

I was the taper. After the individual boxes were inspected I got to tape them. Realizing that my hands were the last to touch the box before the child opened it was more emotional than I could stand.

Some child in a country that is being taught to HATE Christians was going to open this box. What is that child going to feel about "Americans" when he or she opens it and hugs the little stuffed dog... colors in the coloring book...combs his or her hair with a brand new brush... brushes his or her teeth with a new toothbrush and toothpaste? What emotions will that bring.

Romans 12:20 says "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head."

So in my small way, I was heaping burning coals on a child who is being filled with hate. Giving hot coals is not bad. Actually-many years ago, a wonderful teacher, Dr. Larry Slay, told our class what this really meant.

The worst thing that could happen to a family in the bible days, was that their fire would go out in their fireplace. They didn't have matches...so re-starting the fire was a major ordeal. When a family's fire would go out, their neighbor would carry a live-hot piece of coal on top of their head on the carrier they used and bring it to their neighbor... therefore giving them a hot coal of friendship.

I've carried that word picture with me for all these years. Whether a neighbor, friend or a stranger, we are to give hot coals to those whose fires have gone out. We are called to carry the fire to everyone.

I did a little part of that by taping shoeboxes, headed to the enemy of my faith.

God bless them everyone.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

REALLY being thankful.

I'm going to a 50th wedding anniversary party Saturday. These two people are precious servants of our church. You can't outgive them, you can't outdo them, and you cannot smile more than them. They love the Lord and they love each other. I'm so privileged to be included in the huge circle of those who have been REALLY blessed by their lives.

My prayer partner is Gail Mashburn. She's six years younger than me, but has the wisdom of Solomon...and humor that matches the wisdom. I am so blessed by her family stories (she REALLY comes from a functional family!) Her grandmother is 94 years old and just keeps on going. I told Gail one day "Look at your heritage!" She exclaimed without hesitation, "Girl, I don't want to live that long!" She says she can be hired out for funerals if anyone needs a professional crier--because she can cry at the drop of a hat. And she also prays, "Thy will be done, God, on earth as it is in heaven." I'm REALLY thankful she's in my life.

My family. My sons, daughter, daughter in law... I am REALLY impressed with all of them. They've all had hardships along the way and yet, in their own way, they have done more than succeed, they've conquered.

My oldest son is a husband, dad and son. He does a good job in all of them. I am REALLY thankful that he grew up to be the man he is today despite bad parenting, poor choices and a mother who just wanted to dote on him instead of letting him go. I told him he was my prototype...I learned to be a parent because of him.

My youngest son is a friend, son and fiancee...he does a good job in all of them. I am REALLY thankful that he climbed mountains that most people refuse to climb, and once he learned the 'lay of the land' learned to live within his boundaries. He beats to a different drummer and I REALLY think that's alright. He lived on hand me downs and the ignorance of a society not quite ready for him.

My daughter is a sweet friend, excellent employee and a darling daughter...and she continues to ace the tests of life. She's independent, yet still needs her mom (which REALLY makes me thankful), she's resilient but not hardened, and she is REALLY everything I wished I could have been in a woman when I was thirty. She learned a long time ago that the motherhood genes had worn out and makes jokes about having to call me by my first name. But she loves me in spite of it all!

I REALLY love my daughter in law like she was my own. She's talented, she's funny, creative, fun-loving and she's good at the task that God has given her. She's REALLY who I wish I had been as a woman and mother.

I REALLY love my grandchildren and am excited that they have been given the freedom by their mom and dad to be who they are. Jack is studious, smart and already the protector of his sister; Thatcher has his arms wide open living and loving life (are we having fun yet?); and Margaret is just beginning to blossom into her own personality. I REALLY can't wait to hug all of them...what a Thanksgiving gift I'm REALLY looking forward to.

I am REALLY thankful that God has been such a constant in my life these last 29 years. I REALLY don't know what I would have done without Him. He has carried me most of my life, and is constantly forgiving me and allowing me to begin at the starting line over and over.

I am...among women... REALLY blessed.

Have a REALLY happy thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

In Memory of my Dad


Norman S. "Red" Burnett
March 15, 1914 - November 8, 1996

My dad was a mechanic. He just couldn't repair anything in the house.

Dad is celebrating that there's no house repairs in heaven, I am sure!

(pictured (dad, mom, my son Geoff, my brother & sister in law and their children, Rusty, Vickie, Stephen, Jeannie, my younger brother & his wife, Randy & Sonja.)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

I wonder why I read the news

I really get angry when I read about parents harming, murdering and maiming their children. I almost get to the point I cannot breathe. I cannot wrap my mind around the fact that a parent has absolutely no thoughts toward the pain they are inflicting...not only on their child, but on their family.

Has our society gotten to the point that we only look out for ourselves...and even the children we've birthed mean nothing? Oh my Lord in Heaven, I hope not!

As a single young mother of three children, I remember being over-whelmed with the tasks at hand. All three in different activities at school and at church. And then one of them would tell me they NEEDED something from the store by tomorrow and I'd have -$150 in my checking account.

There were times my temper probably murdered their spirits...my reactions caused them to feel less than who they were. But it never crossed my mind to end their lives.

Fleeting times I would think about the peace I would have if I wasn't living through the pain and hardship... and thankfully I have found that that is a normal thought for parents who are overwhelmed with the responsibilities in front of them. Never once did I think about inflicting permanent bodily harm on my children.

When does one cross that line? I read on one website: "What makes a parent harm, or even worse, kill the most precious part of them, their children? Is the rage they feel against that child so great that it must manifest itself in so horrible a thing as murder? Why, why, why, we ask? What makes a parent destroy an innocent child, destroy the future of that parent, destroy the lives of the family, and sicken the community?"

In this age of performance is everything (even movie stars' lives are page one news these days) my personal feeling is that we don't think we are fitting the 'norm' and so we become depressed. Then we don't get help and we get depressed further into a valley that seems everlasting.

I'll never forget waking one morning in 1992. Getting my children ready for school and me for work. Sitting down as a family for breakfast and I couldn't swallow. My heart started skipping beats then beating too fast. I kept thinking I was going to die, yet, in front of my children I wanted everything to appear normal. I pushed my breakfast away, because I couldn't swallow. Told the kids I wasn't hungry and went into my room and waited for them to leave for school.

I called my sister in law (thank you Vickie!) and told her I thought I was having a heart attack. She rushed over and took me to the doctor. What a fabulous man. He took time with me and asked me what had been happening in my life. Well...where do I begin?

I had raised 3 children on my own since 1981.
I had a job until I went on vacation for a week and came back and the shop had been sold and I was jobless with no skills.
I slept for 3 months after that until a friend dragged me to JobLink where I realized skills I didn't know I had...computer skills. Didn't want to stop going there, but they placed me in a job at a UMC.
I had no health insurance for me or the kids.
I had one car.
Three different schools...3 PTA meetings,
My oldest son was going to graduate in a few months.
I was 3 months behind on my house payments.
I had bounced about 20 checks just trying to keep up. (now...did that make sense?)
I had creditors calling 24/7.
And I kept going to church, smiling, pretending that life was normal.

And that day...it all caught up with me and I crashed. I crashed very hard. I was as the doctor said "a moment" from a total nervous breakdown.

And I really just wanted to give up, give in and go away. The pressure had finally taken its toll and I wanted to check out of life.

I understand how someone can get to that point. I really do. But it's one thing acting upon the 'uselessness' of it all...it's another thing to resist the urge to lose control. I resisted...and it was one of the hardest things I've ever done in my life.

I really wanted to die. It would have been so easy. I really wanted to hurt someone because I had been hurt so much...it would have been so easy.

And yet...here I am writing about the blackest months of my whole life.

It took 100mg of Zoloft for two years to get me out of that funky place. It took months of Christian counseling to get me to the point that I could climb out of a hole and look around.

During that two years my oldest son announced he had signed up to go into the Air Force (without even discussing it with me...I guess I wasn't hiding it as well as I thought I was-- he knew I was in that hole.)

It was beginning to get black again. But this time, I knew I didn't want to go back to the hopelessness I had felt during the darkest time of my life.

It took two years of clawing and scratching to get my head above water. When I finally admitted I had a problem to my pastor whom I was working for at the time, puzzle pieces that had been missing for so long, began to be found.

I thank God that I could turn to HIM in the middle of my darkness.

And that's what is missing in the world. What a difference it would be if they just knew Jesus.

Sunday, October 4, 2009


Just a pet peeve. It grates my ears to hear someone say 'chew' instead of 'you'. I guess Elvis Presley's "Blue Christmas" started this irritation.

I'll have a Blue Christmas without chew.

Then it was "And I i i i i will always love chew.

I know God knows our hearts, but I can't help but wonder if he pondered it the first time He heard "It's all about chew."

I'm just saying.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Just a year ago.

When grudges are kept...when unmet needs are held close to you like your skin...when your hurts are transferred to those you love...when you haven't asked to be forgiven in reaction to being hurt by someone...These actions form a bottomless pit of dysfunction. You pretend everything is okay...you pretend nothing happened... you act like words weren't said... you pretend you weren't hurt and you truly believe you didn't hurt anyone.

You fill that depth with all kinds of activities, all types of 'entertainment'. You fill that fracture with sexual relationships, food, escaping into books, watching tv, condemnation of others, lies, half-truths ... anything you can do to pretend it's not there.

Sitting on my mother's bed she touched my face and in the words of a mother...too tired to hide her true feelings... she told me she loved me in a way that softened the callouses that had built up around my heart to protect it from being broken.

Something started to thaw. Emptiness was quickly being filled by a real truth. The abyss suddenly began to overflow with the raw awareness of a mother's love.

I remember walking out of the nursing home with the exposed emotions of a little girl. I had waited all my life for my mother to affirm me without the word "but". She only said a few words, but those words to me...for me... were raw, unabashed, unconditional and healing.

As I walked out of the nursing home...having to hold on to my own beloved daughter, I literally wailed and wept. I had so much darkness spilling itself out of me...darkness being filled by love's light. I was so afraid of losing the love I suddenly received I didn't want to breathe...I wanted to hold my breath and keep the love there forever.

Please...don't let life slip by before you give the unconditional lovingkindness someone is waiting for...

Just a year ago I learned this lesson.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Lucky Lady

So Saturday, Sept. 19 Melissa and I drove to Williamsburg, Kentucky. My brother in law is the interim pastor at FBC in Williamsburg (my sister happens to be the ONLY assistant on staff at the same church.) Bob and Norma asked Melissa to sing the special music.

So Melissa and I start the trip and Melissa practices the song she's going to sing. "No Wonder They Call Him The Savior"... a song written by a local music director in South Carolina. I have missed hearing my daughter sing 'live and in person.'

So I began to pull songs out of her CD case and ask her to sing several songs. She sang "Adonai", "Mercy Seat", "I Surrender All" and others... then she pulled out her "Dairy of a Mad Black Woman" soundtrack and sang "Father Can you Hear me?" As I listened to Melissa sing all 4 parts I was reminiscing about the movie. this song was being sung as one little girl's hopes were being fulfilled by being able to sing a solo in church...and then suddenly people's lives were being changed...the hope that changes lives...God showed up... I know it's a fictional movie... but I think events like this happens every day, when we allow God to be God in our lives.

I asked my sister in church this morning "When was the last time you heard God's voice through the Holy Spirit?" I challenged myself to ponder the same question within my life.

I thought about the drive to Kentucky...listening to the songs...praising God through songs. My daughter and I had church as we drove I-75. As we drove I marveled at the clouds, mountains and birds flying in the sky. Did God speak to me? I think He did...through the beautiful songs my daughter was singing...and through His handiwork. I am one lucky lady.

Father can you hear me We need your love today
I know that you are listening you hear men everyday
Father please hear us and we will be OK
father we need you to heal families today

Father can you hear me I'm calling on your name
Not Buddha nor Mohammad but it's Jesus we cry out loud
Father just forgive us Hear us when we say
We'll give ya, give ya, give you everything our lives and souls today

Father you know we need it I've never seen so much pain
We have the faith for now Your victory we will gain
father you know we mean it there's no more heart of stone
were ready for your power now the sin is gone

Choir: Can you hear me now

Choir: He will say
Lead: He will say yes
Choir: yes, yes, yes, yes

Lead: say yes lord
Choir: yes, yes

Lead: yes to your will Jesus, yes to your will
Choir: yes, yes

Lead: come on say yes
Choir: yes, yes, yes, yes

Ooh Lord can you heal even me lord see I'm comin to you lord just as
I am I'm in need of the blood of the lamb oh my oh my soul say yes

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Touching the Face of God

The airplane took off on time in Charlotte on August 29. The skies were clear, sun was shining and at 37,000 feet up in the air, I could still see the structure of earth. The plots between the roads...the grids of the city...and the smoothness of 'uncitified' land. I love the fact that it's all my colors when I get into the sky so high. The earth looks brown and green. Beautiful shades of all those colors. I love that the sky is so blue...different hues make one big sky.

My plane landed in Detroit and I thought about how close my grandchildren were and I couldn't see them. I had one hour before my next flight. Just enough time to run to the gate, eat lunch, take the next dramamine and board the plane.

It was rainy, cloudy and miserable on the ground. But once we got to 'cruising' altitude, we went above the clouds and the sun shone throughout the cabin. I looked down and the browns and greens were not there...hues of white and gray. I imagined when I painted a sky with my water colors how difficult it was to get the right tonal colors to make the shadows...but up here, above the clouds...above the storms... the Master had painted His Masterpiece once more. I envisioned the paintbrush sweeping a little silver here...some purple mixture over here...bright white and yellow were at the end of the sky.

I landed in Manchester New Hampshire in the rain. It had rained 29 of the last 30 days. (I might add, there was absolutely NO RAIN the 9 days I visited New England.)

Those 9 days were full of oohing and aahing about God's handiwork. The White mountains standing so rocky and erect. The sky meeting the mountains. Waterfalls, caves, whales, bear,... the trees right at the stage of changing into the beautiful colors that make autumn. Daily the color changed...maybe it was even hourly the colors of the trees changed. It was an amazing sight.

I rode my first zipline from the top of a mountain to a very abrupt stop at the bottom of the mountain. As I was zipping down so quickly, I held my arms out and allowed God's breath to fill my lungs with the cool crisp taste of perfection. I wanted to feel like that forever. But it was only a minute or two. But I will remember the complete freedom I felt as I let go of solid ground and 'flew' through the air.

The days passed quickly and it was time to go home. The day I left New Hampshire, it began to cloud up to rain. I boarded the plane with just a ginger chew and a prayer. Our plane had to rise above the clouds again. I was amazed at the puffiness of the clouds and the power they had over the riding stability of the plane. I'd see pieces of earth...but mostly just clouds. We landed at the Detroit Airport at 6:35 p.m....which was the same time my departing plane was loading on the other side of the airport. I ran to the moving sidewalks, walked fast down them and was the last person loaded onto the plane before they closed the doors.

There were thunderstorms in the area. And again, we cruised above the storms. But this time, the clouds were gray and ominous. Suddenly out of nowhere was a huge white cloud in the middle of all the grays. There was such peace, even as the plane rocked back and forth because of the wind, rain and storm. Tears overwhlemed me. In the middle of a storm He always shows Himself. I knew I had seen the face of God...

Disturb us, Lord, when
We are too well pleased with ourselves,
When our dreams have come true
Because we have dreamed too little,
When we arrived safely
Because we sailed too close to the shore.

Disturb us, Lord, when
With the abundance of things we possess
We have lost our thirst
For the waters of life;
Having fallen in love with life,
We have ceased to dream of eternity
And in our efforts to build a new earth,
We have allowed our vision
Of the new Heaven to dim.

Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly,
To venture on wider seas
Where storms will show your mastery;
Where losing sight of land,
We shall find the stars.
We ask You to push back
The horizons of our hopes;
And to push into the future
In strength, courage, hope, and love.
[Sir Francis Drake]

Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Battle of the Mind

Dr. David Rakes, associate pastor in the late 1980's at Broadmoor Baptist Church in Shreveport, LA. preached about "Wrong is wrong no matter what."

He preached against drinking any alcoholic beverage, because that would lead to other habits. He lit into people who held raffles, because that was gambling. He mentioned books people had in their houses that would cause them to allow satan a foothold. He pointed fingers at movies we watched and promoted that didn't have Christian values. He ruffled many feathers, and had me...a 30 year old brand new Christian feeling very scandalous.

My mother loved to read, watch and talk about the occult, ghosts and mysterious things. She had books on interpreting dreams. She even bought us an Ouija board and would stand over us with anticipation to see if it would work. I remember coming home from school every day and watching "Dark Shadows" with mom. Mysteries, Barnabas-the vampire...Quinton...and his beautiful theme...

I had never thought those things were bad. Just toys...just fun...just innocent things.

The more I delve into my Bible, the more I realize that we are in a battle over the mind. And the battle is with satan. We allow these 'harmless' tv shows, books, movies seep into our homes, our computers and our minds...and little by little, satan desensitizes us to the true evil in the world.

We have a generation of children who are growing up with no line drawn between the world of good and evil. It's all called entertainment.
Many people I've talked to, do not agree with me. They truly think since it's 'fiction' it's harmless.
On the website, http://www.christiananswers.net/, it says:
Those who follow the path of the magic arts are on the wrong path - a road that leads away from God, not toward Him. In one way or another, the end will be disaster. The evil Queen Jezebel practiced witchcraft (2 Kings 9:22) bringing catastrophe on herself and all Israel. Over and over, God denounces those who “conjure spells” (NKJV) and those who practice witchcraft and sorcery. The Bible says that anyone who does these things is detestable to the Lord (Deuteronomy 18:10-12; 2 Kings 21:6; Micah 5:12; Isaiah 47:12; Ezekiel 13:18, 20; Acts 8:11-24; Leviticus 20:27; Exodus 7:11; Revelation 9:21; 22:15).
God warns of the ultimate punishment. Revelation 21:8 says of "…those who practice magic arts …their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur… the second death" (NIV). Those who practice witchcraft (sorcery) will not inherit the kingdom of God (Galatians 5:20-21). These practices are anti-God and are in rebellion against Him.
Many of citizens of ancient Ephesus practiced the magic arts. Those who became Christians realized the foolish error of their former lives and burned their expensive books of magic as the trash they were (Acts 19:19).

Those who 'follow the path'.

You argue it's just entertainment... but think about it...if you read romantic novels, you begin to look for that passion in your own life. Conversely, people read x-rated books and watch x-rated movies to 'get a feeling.' I'm sure they aren't watching and reading that for the literary content.
If you read fictional novels like "The Shack" you begin to think that maybe...that's the way The Trinity really is--and you get a 'feel good' feeling...so if you read books, watch 'harmless' TV shows or watch movies on witchcraft, sorcery, communicating to the dead...what keeps you from thinking on these things?

My mother started reading her Bible a little more...and one day became so convinced that the books and tv shows she read and watched were warping her mind and she literally took the books and burned them...because she felt so strongly that they would lead someone else astray like they had done her.

For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.
Ephesians 6:12

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Healing Prayer for Hurting People

Come, Holy Spirit into her greatest need. Manifest the healing power of Jesus. Show her You have not only forgiven her sins but are ready and have the power to heal her wounds. You are Jehovah-Rapha, the promise-keeping Healer. Let her receive Your tender mercy in this time of need. In Your faithfulness, minister healing grace and love.

We bring her under all the redeeming power of the blood of Jesus. You are El Roi, God who sees these hurts, needs and struggles. You have already made the Way of healing by the blood of Jesus. Heal all the woundings of childhood and more recently. Remove all the scars of rejection, shame, inferiority, guilt, fear, abuse and whatever else you reveal to us as we pray. Heal and remove all the barriers and hindrances in her life that are keeping her from being all Jesus died to make her to be. We bring her life to the cross. Apply all the work of redemption to her life for the transforming life of Christ to become hers. We pray that she will take everything to the cross, so that she can accept herself as the new person in Jesus that she is.

Spirit of Truth, Your truth will set her free. Bring the truth of Jesus to counter the lies that she has believed and to dispel the darkness and confusion caused by giving in to the lies. She needs a work of Your Spirit, because no amount of talking or teaching about this need will be effective. Minister to her these precious truths, that
  • She is free from sin by her Savior, Jesus Christ
  • She is free not to respond to the sins of others
  • She is free not to be condemned by the sins of others
  • She is free to express all her feelings to her Father-God, without condemnation, secure in knowing that Jesus understands the feeling of her infirmities.
  • She is free to have Your truth as her truth, Your mind as her mind, Your freedom as her freedom, Your grace as her grace, Your love as her love, Your strength as her strength, Your holiness as her holiness, Your steadfastness as her steadfastness and all the fullness of Jesus made real in her life.
  • She is free to receive all the new life Jesus gives her in exchange for her old life.

We thank You for heavenly intercessors. Jesus is living in her interceding. God the Holy Spirit is agreeing with these prayers according to the will of the Father, and the God of all comfort and Father of mercies is answering the prayers of His Son. Thank You for this three-fold cord of agreement that her soul is being healed according to all Your perfect love, grace and peace.

Thank You for the healing presence of Jesus the Son, God the Father, and God the Spirit, who ministers comfort, restoration, hope, trust and rest, so that she can live victoriously in the life of Jesus at all times. May she receive complete wholeness from You as she practices Your presence each day and fixes her eyes on Jesus. Thank You that You keep her in perfect peace as her mind is stayed on You, when she is confident in You, that You have begun a good work and will perfect Your work for Your glory in her life.

-Prayer Portions by Sylvia Gunter..page 291

Sunday, July 19, 2009

It's a Slow Fade

Driving to the Fresh Market after having lunch with a sweet friend, I heard this song on the radio. After the conversation my friend and I had about compromise and the Christian life, this song by Casting Crowns meant even more...

"Be careful little eyes what you see
It's the second glance that ties your hands
as darkness pulls the strings
Be careful little feet where you go
For it's the little feet behind you that are sure to follow

It's a slow fade when you give yourself away
It's a slow fade when black and white have turned to gray
Thoughts invade, choices are made, a price will be paid
When you give yourself away
People never crumble in a day
It's a slow fade, it's a slow fade

Be careful little ears what you hear
When flattery leads to compromise, the end is always near
Be careful little lips what you say
For empty words and promises lead broken hearts astray

It's a slow fade when you give yourself away
It's a slow fade when black and white have turned to gray
Thoughts invade, choices are made, a price will be paid
When you give yourself away
People never crumble in a day

The journey from your mind to your hands
Is shorter than you're thinking
Be careful if you think you stand
You just might be sinking

It's a slow fade when you give yourself away
It's a slow fade when black and white have turned to gray
Thoughts invade, choices are made, a price will be paid
When you give yourself away
People never crumble in a day
Daddies never crumble in a day
Families never crumble in a day

Oh be careful little eyes what see
Oh be careful little eyes what you see
For the Father up above is looking down in love
Oh be careful little eyes what you see"

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Wish I would have written this....

I found this blog by accident, read it and wished I had written it. I know I've had these thoughts, but for such a time as this, a lady named AIDA wrote this. I REALLY needed to feel it and read it. We get so caught up in the doing...we forget about the being still and listening to the 'heartbeat' of God's existence in our own personal lives.
Darin Hufford, in a recent podcast said, “The more you get somebody away from their heart, the more they can be controlled.”

Religion is all about conformity. We’re taught that there’s only one way to do it. Our christian life is all mapped out by a set of rules that we’re expected to follow and our standing in the church is determined by how well we keep the rules. The result is a powerless religion that leaves us shamed and frustrated.

The truth is that Jesus came to set us free from a performance based religion. He came to bring us into a relationship with our Father that is alive and fulfilling and he does this through the desires he places in our hearts. In religion, we’re taught that the heart is deceitfully wicked. That’s an Old Testament verse that was spoken to a group of believers who didn’t have the life of God in their hearts. Today, Jesus lives in our hearts and we’ve been given a new heart which Jim Robbins
describes as our “good and noble hearts.”

Religion has taught us that we can’t trust our hearts. Yet, God wants to lead us through our good and noble hearts. Because of that false teaching, we’ve shut ourselves away from our hearts. The result is that we’ve lost the ability to hear our hearts and to be led by them. Instead, we now depend on external voices to give us direction.

We pore over the Bible looking for a verse that will tell us what to do. We go to church, notebook in hand, hoping the sermon will finally give us the answer we seek. Yet, all the time, the answer is in our hear
ts but we won’t go there because we’re afraid of being deceived.

For years, that’s how I lived my life. I didn’t even know that I could listen to my heart and I actually didn’t even know how to listen. God is now bringing me to a place where I’m learning to hear my heart and to trust its voice. Teachers like
Darin Hufford and Jim Robbins have been instrumental in helping me grow in this area of my life.

I’m currently reading a book entitled
“Introvert Power” by Laurie Helgoe. Although the focus of the book is to encourage introverts and to teach us how to live successfully in an extrovert world, I’m finding that the author is also showing me how to tap into and recognize the desires of my heart and to flow with them. This book has taken me to a level of freedom that I’ve only dreamed about.

This has been an exciting journey and, the last few years, God has completely re-shaped my life as a believer. Today, it looks totally different than it used to look. The changes in me have been so dramatic that I’m no longer totally uncomfortable with allowing God to lead me into new and uncharted territory. Years ago, as I started this journey into the unknown, he spoke the following scripture to my heart and today, I’m seeing it fulfilled as I follow the desires of my heart.

"Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland." (Isaiah 43:18-19)

Saturday, July 4, 2009

I'm an American Weenie

My father never fought for his country in the military. (He had lost an eye when he was a young man.)

I had several uncles on both sides of our family who were in the military, but none I was close to.
I was raised in the era of "Make Love not War".

I remember the LIFE magazine article that had a picture of every single person that had been killed in the Vietnam War, and I remember feeling something in my soul like I had been hit in the gut....and I was just a teenager.

When I grew up, I continued to see the horrors of war, of fighting. Heck, I wouldn't even let my oldest son play football for fear he'd get hurt.

When Chris joined the Air Force...I felt like I had been hit in the gut again. I prayed that my son wouldn't go to war, because of the fear he'd die. I didn't want his picture in a magazine article, making him a number and not a name. Thankfully, God answered my prayers and my son finished his military service in the National Guard with a maturity that goes along with learning how important freedom is.

And even now...as when I was a young girl... when I hear the Star Spangled Banner, God Bless America or even Elvis Presley's "American Trilogy"http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=moUifEmOcbU ... I cry---and I feel that ache deep in my soul.

I love my country. I love the fact that God chose me to live in this country. A country of freedom...a country of choices...and a country of patriots.

I'm an American Weenie. And tomorrow at church, I'll be the first one sobbing in my Kleenex when the names and faces flash on the screens of those who gave all for their country. And I thank God I am an American...weenie and all.

Monday, June 29, 2009


There's something about children that brings the wonder back into my world.

I see it in my grandson Jack -- the wonder of learning, gleaning, wanting to be like his dad and his mom.

I see it in my grandson Thatcher. His honesty. It would behoove me to try to be more like him.

I see it in my granddaughter Margaret as she is amazed by the wind blowing in the trees and by the birds in the sky.

I need to learn more about what they see...and less about what I know.

Friday, June 19, 2009

The Valley of Baca

I am so tired of living in the past.

I was just rereading something I wrote in a private diary from over 3 years ago. The way God worked through a near disaster was awesome and only God could have worked it out.

The main theme in those three months of diary entries was that I must listen, I must hear and I must not act until I do.

The way God spoke to me at that time was miraculous and was only God. Only He could have thought of that particular way to get me to listen to what He was trying to teach me.

Not too long ago, I saw the lady that had delievered the message I needed to hear during that hard time. She had no idea that God had used her in such a wonderful way. I'll never forget the tears she and I cried when I shared with her about the message she gave me and what it did to change the outcome of a very very serious, life-changing event.

Even now as I think back on that time when I heard God's voice through a cassette tape she had insisted I listen to (not once...not twice...but three times)-- I long, I desire, I crave to hear His voice again.

Last night, a friend and I were talking about someone we both love so deeply. How this person had been given a REAL warning from God and yet they have chosen to thumb their nose at the warning.

I told my friend last night that I had been limiting God in answering the prayers I've been praying for this person. Teach them I would ask God, but don't let anything disasterous happen. Help them to learn without having to go through Hell to learn it. I told my friend last night, one of the hardest prayers for me to utter would be: whatever it takes to bring this person back in line with Your will...just do it, Lord. My friend shuttered over the phone. I told her that I have to let God be God and not limit Him to my limitations.

I still haven't gathered the courage to pray that prayer. I have walked through that Valley of Baca, of sorrow, of pain, of the unknown and of Hell...

but when I came to the mountainside....I was a different person... a little more purer... a little more pliable...a little more moldable. That's what I wish for this dear friend of mine. I want this person to know God's love...even if it means walking through the Valley of Baca. And my prayer is to let me be the one to help carry them through---and I'll weep right along with them.

"Happy are those who are strong in the Lord, who set their minds on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. When they walk through the Valley of Weeping, it will become a place of refreshing springs, where pools of blessing collect after the rains! They will continue to grow stronger, and each of them will appear before God in Zion." Psalm 84:5-7

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Just Writing Out Loud

Martyrism runs in my family. I get it honestly. It's a part of my personality I fight minute by minute.

I really want to delete my post "Just Love in Return" because there are days...weeks...months that I'm not so cocky. One of my biggest hurts is allowing people's unintentional words or lack of words to hurt me---to the core. Deep into my heart.

I struggled in my past church about a certain person who would walk down the hallways of church, pass me and not even acknowledge me. They'd walk by me and not say hi--even with me looking right at them and saying Hi....even...even if it were just us in the hallway. They knew me...they knew me well. We had conversations before...yet they would brush right past me...and I'd start dealing with my own struggles, my own 'demons' if you will.

I finally sat down with the minister I was working for at that time and talked to him about my struggles. Out of a grown woman's mouth I'm sure it sounded more like "so and so won't play with me." Thankfully he didn't laugh, roll his eyes or excuse himself from the room. Me being a fairly new Christian and learning about things 'of the spirit', he took this time to teach instead of scold my lack of maturity.

He said something so profound that it changed my perspective of that person. He said "Ouida, everyone has a darkside--even you. We all have something in our personality that we don't want people to see. Just some of us see those hidden things a little more clearly."

He went on to remind me of the spiritual gifts test I had taken. Discernment and Faith were the two largest gifts I utilized in my Christian walk. He said, "You are gifted with discernment. God gave us this gift so we would know truth from untruth, real from unreal and evil even when it's shrouded in godly. It is your responsibility to know the truth."

I shrugged my shoulders and said "What does that have to do with this?" He said just because someone treats me with disregard, I need to know it's usually not evil--just ignorance. He told me that with my wonderful heritage of "martyrism" that my 'critical spirit' begins to take it all personally, and after I beat myself up for a while, I start beating them up in my mind, and finally come to the conclusion they are evil.

One of the worst things people with discernment can do is JUDGE everything as evil. The battle I fight and am fighting at this moment, is trying to keep my heart correct and see things--feel things--know things from God's perspective.

I just need to keep reminding myself that it's not about me...even though this post is.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Writing to Understand

Merrimam's online dictionary defines hopeless as: 1 a: having no expectation of good or success : despairing b: not susceptible to remedy or cure c: incapable of redemption or improvement

I've just sent the third obituary to our crisis prayer line. Third suicide in 2 weeks by Christians who came to our church. Christians...ages 24, 19 & 17. Christians who became hopeless.

I cannot wrap my mind around this. I keep trying to understand how someone can get to this point of being so hopeless that the only solution is to put a gun to the head and end it all.

They chose to die--selfishly...they chose to be their own god. They chose death over redemption. It's backwards...it's awful...and I cannot seem to comprehend the mindset it takes to be your own executioner.

It's interesting that one of the defintions of hopeless is "incapable of redemption". Even though Jesus was executed for our sins...these people did not/would not/could not believe they were worthy enough to be forgiven...to truly be one of the redeemed. They must have thought they were the exemptions to God's Word. How horrible to live in that mindset of unforgiveness...a mindset of no hope...a living hell in the mind.

All I know is that we as Christians have allowed the world to penetrate our belief systems so much that Christianity from generation to generation has become so watered down, there's no purity in it at all. It makes me sad. . . because. . .

there's this 42 year old recently married man, who didn't want to die...didn't choose to die...He wanted to live with his newlywed....he was living a life of hope...

cancer took his life last night.

I just can't wrap my mind around this.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

It only takes...

A sweet lady called me yesterday. Nothing different...sweet ladies call me all the time. However, I've been dealing with a lot of emotional issues and ponderings and have had so much on my mind. And then a 24 year old mom, daughter, wife commits suicide and I'm just thrown for a loop emotionally. It's so hard for me to comprehend why someone would take their own life (or anyone else's for that matter.) So, dealing with that and personal issues...

A sweet lady called me yesterday. Her first thought out of her mouth was "Ouida, how are you dealing with all these hospitals and deaths?" No one had asked me that since I started my new job. And don't get me started with the young woman who called and her mother who was my age had died. While that young woman cried, I just cried right along with her, because my mom has recently died.

A sweet lady called me yesterday. She listened to my heart and the grief that I felt over dealing with so many hurts of so many people.

A sweet lady called me yesterday and after listening to me she said, "Let me pray for you." And she prayed to Our Father...and I know He heard because

A sweet lady called me yesterday...and my heart was revived.

Monday, May 25, 2009


More and more I am struggling with something.

I struggle with what this upcoming generation is allowing to penetrate their minds in the name of 'drama'. When I vocalize my frustrations with "Twilight" I'm told, it's NOT really about vampires...it's a love story.

PULLLLEEEZE...it's satan's way of allowing him to enter in your mindset and change it from God's way to his way...one little step at a time. It's satan slowly manipulating the truth--and making a lie seem like a truth.

I add onto that "MEDIUM", "Witches of Eastwick", "Harry Potter", "Charmed". Even Bewitched...when you get right down to it, but a "sweet" manipulation of evil...witchcraft.

It's just been bothering me lately.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Just love in return

After many years of comparisons... and realizing I could never live up to what the world found acceptable--(best clothes, biggest house, hobnobbing with the elite--living in the correct neighborhood) I accepted myself the way I was.

I realized I'd never fit in with the 'rich and famous'. I was segregated from the movers and shakers because I was divorced...not widowed (which is allowed.) I realized there would always be a judgment by those who were 'better' than me.

I learned a real life lesson during my years as a young Christian mom. No one... no one... was in charge of my self-esteem but me. I could wait for people to build me up, but they would disappoint. (because they are not God!) I could wait on one of my children to tell me their life was perfect... but that wasn't going to happen... nevertheless, I refused to resign. I kept plugging away to build my own garden of the necessary flowers that made me happy.

It's called survival skills. We can choose to learn them or always be waiting on someone to "water our garden". To continue with the metaphor, I've had plenty of weeds in my garden... some I allowed to procreate and they damaged the "perfect garden" I expected to have.

I've even had one friend withdraw her "friendship" from me on Facebook. At first it made me feel like I needed to run to her and bow down and ask for forgiveness for whatever it was that I said or did... then I realized that it wasn't me... it was her need to be the most important person in everyone's lives. And only Jesus and my children & grandchildren have those places. At this time of my life, I quote a dear friend who told me, everyone is entitled to their own stupid opinions... "to hell with them...I'm the queen". ('scuse the "french"'.)

A poem by Veronica Shoffstall I earlier posted on this blog fits right in here:

After a while, you learn the subtle difference
Between holding a hand and chaining a soul,
And you learn that love doesn't mean leaning
And company doesn't mean security,
And you begin to learn that kisses aren't contracts
And presents aren't promises,
And you begin to accept your defeats
With your head up and your eyes open,
With the grace of a woman, not the grief of a child,
And learn to build all your roads on today
Because tomorrow's ground is too uncertain for plans,
And futures have a way of falling down in mid-flight.
And after a while, you learn,
That even sunshine burns if you get too much.
So you plant your own garden and decorate your own soul,
Instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers.
And you learn that you really can endure...
That you really are strong
And you really do have worth
And you learn and learn...
With every good-bye you learn.

I have reached out to many friends who have never responded to me--. So as egotistical as it sounds...it's their loss. As Stuart Smalley on SNL says: "I'm Good Enough, I'm Smart Enough, and Gosh Darn It, People Like Me!"

Life is too short not to love those that God has put around us to love. I choose this day to love those...and continue to search for those who need love and will accept my love with no strings attached........ just love in return. And lastly, because they are not God, they will disappoint... but then...so will I... it's handling the disappointment that either makes us unreasonable or accepting.

and you learn and you learn.

Monday, May 18, 2009


God slowly changed the direction of my job. I went from Single Adult Ministry to Pastoral Care.

In the ministry of Pastoral Care we deal with hurts.
I find my heart in my throat most the time.
I talked with a single mom whose son had a massive heart attack right in front of her in March. She kept him on life support for nearly three months because she couldn't bear the pain of losing her son. He died Friday.
A man who I am acquainted with, but really didn't know that well complained about a pain like a tooth ache in his neck and then it traveled up to his head like a migraine. Within 24 hours, he died. Totally healthy, 44 years old with two sons. I think the whole church staff held their breath because of the brevity of the situation.
Then a co-worker's father died on Friday. She loved her daddy like I loved mine.

Dealing with all of this makes "blink of an eye" become way too real.

Healthy or not, I cannot stress the need for a Will. Sam McLamb, Pastoral Care Ministry has dealt with so many families who are faced with literally life and death decisions and there is no will made...and children are involved. If there's no will, sometimes the children are put in foster care until family arrangements are made...is that where you want your children to be?

I watch death every day. Each day I feel a little piece of me breaks when I hear about death, dying, sickness and pain.

It certainly gives me a reason to be on my knees...thanking God for His wonderful favor.

If you don't have a will, you can go to www.legalzoom.com and make your own. If you do have a will, please be sure it's updated. God calls us in His timing...not when WE have it all together!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Customer Service

I just need to brag a little. I seem to focus on the negative...but today...I'm focusing on the positive.

My Ti-Vo DVR quit. So I thought it was an add-on USB thingy that I had to put on it because my TV is nearly 20 years old. So I took the thingy to Best Buy. They told me it was 6 months old...but let them try to see if Best Buy would 'honor' the purchase and let me return it. I didn't even ask them, they offered. So I said sure, knowing the results. And true...they couldn't honor a purchase made last November. So I asked for a copy of the original purchase receipt, which they supplied to me with no problems, and thought I would send it and the receipt back to the manufacturer.

In the meantime, I bought another one ($69.99 Oh MY Goodness!). gulp. I got home, and it didn't work either. So I deducted that it must be my Ti-Vo.

I called Ti-Vo and he had me do this, unplug this, stand on my head and yell words, ect...you get the picture. Each time, all I got was a blank screen. So he told me it was my box. BUT...for only $129.99 I could get a BRAND NEW ONE.

Well, I don't have $129.99 and so I told him, no thank you, just give me back the 6 months prepaid service costs I had paid and we'll just cancel the contract.

Sorry, he said, can't do that. Let me transfer you to someone who may be able to help you. So he transferred me to someone else who gave me the special offer of the week...orginally $249.99, I could purchase same Ti-Vo (in previous paragraph) for only $199.99...then he put me on hold...and I waited...and I waited...and finally after 17 minutes I hung up.

The next morning, I charged out of the starting gate with my dukes up ready to tell them what I thought about them not refunding what I cannot use and giving me two different prices for the same machine...not that I was going to purchase either.

I called and got this lady named Elisha who had a very bad cold. I explained my predicament along with being put on hold. She never once put me on hold...she talked, sniffled, sneezed and coughed, but she told me she would not put me on hold.

Then she said, "Ms. Ray, we would like to offer you a free replacement for your DVR that is not working. Just follow all the directions I'm sending to your email, and when we receive your old unit, we'll mail this unit to you." "Not only that", she continued, "this new DVR can record two different shows at the same time."

I said, what? Free? She said she was so sorry for the inconvenience and that they would ship it out asap when they received mine.

I took the USB thingy back to Best Buy and they thanked me profusely and gave me a credit on my card.

I walked in my house stunned. Stunned that customer service still exists.
I'm still in shock.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

dedicated to Chris, Geoff & Melissa

Before I was a Mom,

I never tripped over toys or forgot words to a lullaby.
I didn't worry whether or not my plants were poisonous.
I never thought about immunizations.

Before I was a Mom,
I had never been puked on.
Pooped on.
Chewed on.
Peed on.
I had complete control of my mind and my thoughts.
I slept all night.

Before I was a Mom,
I never held down a screaming child so doctors could do tests.
Or give shots.
I never looked into teary eyes and cried.
I never got gloriously happy over a simple grin.
I never sat up late hours at night watching a baby sleep.

Before I was a Mom,
I never held a sleeping baby just because I didn't want to put them down.
I never felt my heart break into a million pieces when I couldn't stop the hurt.
I never knew that something so small could affect my life so much.
I never knew that I could love someone so much.
I never knew I would love being a Mom.

Before I was a Mom,
I didn't know the feeling of having my heart outside my body.
I didn't know how special it could feel to feed a hungry baby.
I didn't know that bond between a mother and her child.
I didn't know that something so small could make me feel so important and happy.

Before I was a Mom,
I had never gotten up in the middle of the night every 10 minutes to make sure all was okay.
I had never known the warmth, the joy, the love, the heartache, the wonderment or the satisfaction of being a Mom.
I didn't know I was capable of feeling so much

before I was a Mom.

Happy Mother's Day to me...because of you, Chris, Geoff and Melissa.

--copied from the internet.

Saturday, May 2, 2009


She was right in my neighbor's backyard. In real life, I watched a female turtle dig a hole, lay her eggs and then she just went away.

As she slowly walked away it made me sad. Sad, because there's no chance those little turtles are going to make it to Lake Julian...there's a fence ...along with a road, a couple trailers and a pack of dogs between them and the lake. It was just a very natural thing for her. She walked away.

And yet....in today's world, fathers do that to their children. They make children, and they walk away. They don't look back. It's a very unnatural thing to do.

God formed the family to be a man and a woman. It's a very natural thing..created by God to multiply...families.

I remember when my husband left. I don't remember the month...but I remember the moment. I had just had major surgery. In fact, he had to carry me into the house. As we walked in the door, I saw my three babies covered in chicken pox, and I saw suitcases at the door.

He put me on the couch, with a phone, a box of diapers, a glass of water and said "I can't do this anymore." And he walked out of my life. My three children didn't know what was going on, they were just happy to have mommy home. At ages two, four and six, they had no idea their lives were going to change so dramatically.

I do remember the emptiness. I was left with broken dreams, no place to live, and three children whose father walked out on them. For years I've always said he left me, not them. But who am I kidding. He left all of us. Just like those baby turtles, left alone to try to make it, unnaturally.

I have watched what the effects of a broken home does to innocent children. I've watched with great pain. The effects are still real and sometimes multiply. I watched with pain etched in my heart the many times my children couldn't participate in an activity, because I couldn't be four places at one time.

I went to three different PTA meetings...I talked with so many teachers it made my head spin. I tried to make our life normal...and there was absolutely nothing normal or natural about our lives.

Through many hours of counseling, a total break-down panic attack in 1991, more counseling, I learned to accept the things I could not change.
I couldn't change the fact my husband, my children's father walked away.
I couldn't change the fact I lived right above poverty level for nearly our whole lives. I couldn't change our circumstances.

Honestly, I really don't remember the pain anymore. I really don't live in regret, because I know in my immaturity and ignorance, I did the very best I could do.

And there's no way I could have made it without my dysfunctionally challenged family, who did the best they could do. I was the only child my parent's had that divorced. When my husband left, my mom and dad and my brothers, picked me and my children up, dusted us off and for years, became the "father" to my children.

They provided meals when I had nothing. My brothers would babysit when I had to be somewhere else for another child. Dad provided me with a job when I had no experience.

There were years of pain, tears, a broken arm, children hanging on to me 24/7... and there was Ms. Peggy.

Ms. Peggy watched my children for me as I worked a full time job. She always invited me to church, and I would allow her to take my children, because that was when I'd fill the bathtub with the hottest water I could stand...I'd lie in the tub and I'd cry. Sunday after Sunday.

Every Sunday, Ms. Peggy would bring my children home from church and tell me that she'd take me too next week if I wanted to go. I'd always decline. Afterall, what had God done for me lately?

I've said since I accepted Christ in 1984, that precious woman has jewels in her crown...she never gave up, she never gave in...she took my children to church and I always knew her car door was open for me. I only went to church one Sunday with her. It was the Sunday they talked about the need for a $60,000 stained glass window over the baptistry. Satan had a heyday with me. I left that church so angry. I made just enough to pay Ms. Peggy to watch my children...and this church that she loved so much wanted people to give over and above for some stupid window. Ms. Peggy even went so far as to have the pastor of the church come to visit me the next day. Boy did I give him a piece of my mind. When he left, I was still unsaved...and very angry...

Now, as I look back at the people who made my situation a winning combination...I praise God. I praise God for my parents who didn't know what to do with a daughter and three grandchildren...they just did. I praise God for Ms. Peggy. I am positive that she lifted my name and my children's names up to God for many years.

These people were stepping stones on the pathway to God. As I recall their actions and see the memory stones, I pick them up...and I put these memories on the altar and just praise God for godly, understanding people.

Even though I didn't understand it then, I truly understand it now... we were an unnatural 'family' and we all did the best we could to survive. No one can tell me that divorce doesn't ruin lives.

But God...takes ruined lives and puts us in the society of His beloved ones if we accept His gift of eternal life...and we just fit so perfectly.

If I had my life to live over would I change things...you better believe it. But we all know, there are no do-overs in life.

Nevertheless...even now we will never be left alone like those turtle eggs. We will always have a FATHER to show us the way.

2 Corinthians 3:18 NAS
But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

I don't wanna be

Sometimes boredom has me hitting "next blog" at the top of the page, just to see other's blog. Most the time it's in spanish, french or some other foreign language. Sometimes, happily, it's in English.

I came upon a blog that reminded me of my own daughter-in-law's page (www.creolecrew.blogspot.com) so I read the first entry and laughed. Ah, to be young again.

The mother was writing about her eldest daughter who just kept hitting her little sister. Finally mom sat down with the daughter and gently tried to "persuade" the oldest sister to treat her baby sister with love.

The little girl's eyes brimmed with tears and the mother secretly was happy that words finally got into the little one's heart. The mother asked, "Why are you crying?"

The daughter answered, "I don't wanna be a sister."

Pain, agony and heartbreak went through the mother's thoughts.

The little darling continues, "I wanna be a dog."

Well, I laughed out loud, because I could just hear my own grandsons saying something like this...but I laughed because at least she was honest...

I think all of us wanna be something/someone else at any given time.

Sometimes....I just wanna be a kept woman. But there's no one to cry to...so I'm just keeping on.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Alone Again

So once again, I'm alone.

Never lonely.

In the silence I hear the creaks of the building.

I hear the AC churning the air.

I hear silence.

and it's loud.

I smile as I live in the best area...part city/part country.

The mule is braying in the pasture outside.

I hear the man once again calling his dogs to come back home.

My neighbor slams her door AGAIN

And the world awakes one more time.

I read about David's trials as he runs in fear of death by Saul.

And I read where Saul is temporarily stunned and humbled by David's honor of "God's anoited one."

And I ponder...on this morning at 7:30 a.m., I had to scrape the ice off my car's windshield.

I marvel at life...as I am alone.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Prompted by the Holy Spirit

Each time I get a nudge in "my gut" about something I've said or done, I first get totally angry at my reckless words or deeds and then I immediately Praise God.
Weird, huh? Praising God for feeling 'guilty'.
It's in that millisecond of realizing I've sinned that I know God isn't finished with me yet...and I haven't 'vexed' the Holy Spirit to the point of silence.

This happened last week. I got that nudge and went to one of my friends after I had mumbled something about an activity that ticked me off. I went to her and apologized that those words even came out of my mouth. And then tears....because that was my heart speaking. The anger and unfairness I felt just fell out of my mouth like spit. YUCK...I hated that that was my heartfelt feelings.

I also confessed it to a dear friend. We cried together and I told her that I hated my attitude and needed an adjustment. I've asked God to forgive me...AGAIN... and all praise and glory to Jesus Christ...because of Him, my heart was renewed one more time and that reoccuring sin was once AGAIN forgiven.

But those feelings still come up like reflux...and I know I need to clean the rooms in my heart. There's no place for those thoughts and Jesus too.

Thankfully...He isn't finished with me yet.

"If you could see What I once was
If you could go with me--Back to where I started from
Then, I know you would see
A miracle of Love that put me in its sweet embrace
and made me what I am today
just an old sinner
Saved by grace."

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Easter is Coming

I become breathless when I realize what Jesus did for me. I cry, rejoice, sob, clap my hands and then in a time of complete honesty, I get on my knees and thank my Savior for giving His life for me. I love Him.
“Fear not; you will no longer live in shame. Don’t be afraid; there is no more disgrace for you. You will no longer remember the shame of your youth and the sorrows of widowhood. For your Creator will be your husband; the Lord of Heaven’s Armies is his name! He is your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel, the God of all the earth. For the Lord has called you back from your grief— as though you were a young wife abandoned by her husband,” says your God. “For a brief moment I abandoned you, but with great compassion I will take you back. In a burst of anger I turned my face away for a little while. But with everlasting love I will have compassion on you,” says the Lord, your Redeemer."
And He did...and He does.
Happy Easter.

Friday, March 27, 2009

QJO and Benise

Many years ago (about 1986 or 1987) I met Denise Prudhomme. She was a new Christian...I was a new Christian and we both trusted God like a baby trusts her parents to take care of her. We studied the word and began a prayer partnership that has lasted throughout the years.

We laughed when the children she babysat called her "Benise" instead of Denise. It stuck and that's my pet name for her.

We laughed when so many people misprounounced and misspelled my name...and she started calling me Quita Juanita Ouida...shortened to QJO.

Throughout these years, we've remained friends. She's married and lives in Charlotte...has a sweet son, Jacob...and her name has changed from Prudhomme to Goldman...but she will always be "Benise" to me.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

I can't do this alone again.

I've had a new job umbrella (and I praise God that I have a job!). I am now working with Senior adults, benevolence...which I've always done, deaths, hospitals and grieving.

I can separate myself from someones pain. That doesn't mean that I don't feel anything, but I can be a lot more logical when someone else is going through pain than when I'm going through pain.

Last Monday a woman called. She's 61 and a single mom. Her son had a massive heart attack in front of her. He went without oxygen almost 20 minutes. She was calling from the hospital where the doctors had told her that she was going to have to make a decision on whether to keep him on life support.

I kept telling her that I needed her to calm down so I could understand her. Her sobs were coming from a place of twenty years ago, when her older son had been in a car wreck and the doctors had told her the same thing.

In her ravaged pain she said, "I can't do this alone again. I cannot make this decision on the only child I have left."

At that moment, I just started crying with her. She and I wept on the phone for about fifteen minutes. I asked her if I could pray with her and she said yes. Only God knows what I prayed...because my heart, the heart of a mother was praying not only for this woman's heart...but for my own children too.

Her son is still alive. A little brain function, kidneys are functioning...but nothing else. And she sits in the hospital, waiting on a miracle to save her only son. We've had a wonderful gifted lay pastor visiting with her who has taken a very active ministry role in her life and I know that comforts her.

Life is pain. But God is still good. Please pray for Jeff and his single mom Laura.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Praying Partners

I am so privileged to have so many praying partners. You women are indeed my wind at times my sails have collapsed.

Then I think of the times I've called you with good news. We laugh together and always one of us says...you remember we prayed for this.

I received the news from my dear daughter in law that Thatcher David Ray, at the age of 5 1/2 asked Jesus into his heart.

I cried.

I laughed.

I thanked God.

And I remembered...you and I prayed about this so many years ago...even when my children were yet children themselves.

And I become awed of the promises we have stood on all these years. God is good all the time. And your response?

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

"I want people to love me for whom I'm pretending to be."

Thank you if you are reading my blog. I have so many thinkisms that I think...and never write down. I REALLY need to be better at this.
On Facebook, the question was to look on page 56 of a book and write down the 5th line on the page.
I picked up Mike Williams' (3rd funniest man in America) book "Turkey Soup for the sarcastic Soul --Finding God in the simple, stupid and sarcastic moments of life."

The line read:
"I want people to love me for whom I'm pretending to be."

If you know Mike Williams...you know he cannot be serious for too long. But if you know Mike Williams...you also know his heart for missions and spreading God's Word through laughter. {PLUG: http://mikewilliams.tv/ }

So...even though the book is hilarious...and that line is about sitting in a therapist's office helping the therapist with jokes for an upcoming conference, Mike said, "I hate to talk to these guys. I always feel like they are psychoanalyzing me, and that makes the real me feel uncomfortable." And then he wrote the line in italics above.

That was the 5th line on the 56th page...and I can't get it out of my head.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Normally it's all about me....however

A friend sent me an email this morning...and as I read it I kept saying YES! So it meant so much to me and the way I feel at my age...thought I'd share it with you:
I’m Tired
Robert A. Hall

I’ll be 63 soon. Except for one semester in college when jobs were scarce, and a six-month period when I was between jobs, but job-hunting every day, I’ve worked, hard, since I was 18. Despite some health challenges, I still put in 50-hour weeks, and haven’t called in sick in seven or eight years.. I make a good salary, but I didn’t inherit my job or my income, and I worked to get where I am. Given the economy, there’s no retirement in sight, and I’m tired. Very tired.
I’m tired of being told that I have to “spread the wealth around” to people who don’t have my work ethic. I’m tired of being told the government will take the money I earned, by force if necessary, and give it to people too lazy or stupid to earn it.
I’m tired of being told that I have to pay more taxes to “keep people in their homes.” Sure, if they lost their jobs or got sick, I’m willing to help. But if they bought McMansions at three times the price of our paid-off, $250,000 condo, on one-third of my salary, then let the leftwing Congresscritters who passed Fannie and Freddie and the Community Reinvestment Act that created the bubble help them—with their own money.
I’m tired of being told how bad America is by leftwing millionaires like Michael Moore, George Soros and Hollywood entertainers who live in luxury because of the opportunities America offers. In thirty years, if they get their way, the United States will have the religious freedom and women’s rights of Saudi Arabia, the economy of Zimbabwe, the freedom of the press of China, the crime and violence of Mexico, the tolerance for Gay people of Iran, and the freedom of speech of Venezuela. Won’t multiculturalism be beautiful?
I’m tired of being told that Islam is a “Religion of Peace,” when every day I can read dozens of stories of Muslim men killing their sisters, wives and daughters for their family “honor;” of Muslims rioting over some slight offense; of Muslims murdering Christian and Jews because they aren’t “believers;” of Muslims burning schools for girls; of Muslims stoning teenage rape victims to death for “adultery;” of Muslims mutilating the genitals of little girls; all in the name of Allah, because the Qur’an and Shari’a law tells them to.
I believe “a man should be judged by the content of his character, not by the color of his skin.” I’m tired of being told that “race doesn’t matter” in the post-racial world of President Obama, when it’s all that matters in affirmative action jobs, lower college admission and graduation standards for minorities (harming them the most), government contract set-asides, tolerance for the ghetto culture of violence and fatherless children that hurts minorities more than anyone, and in the appointment of US Senators from Illinois. I think it’s very cool that we have a black president and that a black child is doing her homework at the desk where Lincoln wrote the emancipation proclamation. I just wish the black president was Condi Rice, or someone who believes more in freedom and the individual and less in an all-knowing government.
I’m tired of a news media that thinks Bush’s fundraising and inaugural expenses were obscene, but that think Obama’s, at triple the cost, were wonderful. That thinks Bush exercising daily was a waste of presidential time, but Obama exercising is a great example for the public to control weight and stress, that picked over every line of Bush’s military records, but never demanded that Kerry release his, that slammed Palin with two years as governor for being too inexperienced for VP, but touted Obama with three years as senator as potentially the best president ever.
Wonder why people are dropping their subscriptions or switching to Fox News? Get a clue. I didn’t vote for Bush in 2000, but the media and Kerry drove me to his camp in 2004.
I’m tired of being told that out of “tolerance for other cultures” we must let Saudi Arabia use our oil money to fund mosques and madrassa Islamic schools to preach hate in America, while no American group is allowed to fund a church, synagogue or religious school in Saudi Arabia to teach love and tolerance.
I’m tired of being told I must lower my living standard to fight global warming, which no one is allowed to debate. My wife and I live in a two-bedroom apartment and carpool together five miles to our jobs. We also own a three-bedroom condo where our daughter and granddaughter live. Our carbon footprint is about 5% of Al Gore’s, and if you’re greener than Gore, you’re green enough.
I’m tired of being told that drug addicts have a disease, and I must help support and treat them, and pay for the damage they do. Did a giant germ rush out of a dark alley, grab them, and stuff white powder up their noses while they tried to fight it off? I don’t think Gay people choose to be Gay, but I damn sure think druggies chose to take drugs. And I’m tired of harassment from cool people treating me like a freak when I tell them I never tried marijuana.
I’m tired of illegal aliens being called “undocumented workers,” especially the ones who aren’t working, but are living on welfare or crime.. What’s next? Calling drug dealers, “Undocumented Pharmacists”? And, no, I’m not against Hispanics. Most of them are Catholic and it’s been a few hundred years since Catholics wanted to kill me for my religion. I’m willing to fast track for citizenship any Hispanic person who can speak English, doesn’t have a criminal record and who is self-supporting without family on welfare, or who serves honorably for three years in our military. Those are the citizens we need..
I’m tired of latte liberals and journalists, who would never wear the uniform of the Republic themselves, or let their entitlement-handicapped kids near a recruiting station, trashing our military. They and their kids can sit at home, never having to make split-second decisions under life and death circumstances, and bad mouth better people then themselves. Do bad things happen in war? You bet. Do our troops sometimes misbehave? Sure. Does this compare with the atrocities that were the policy of our enemies for the last fifty years—and still are? Not even close. So here’s the deal. I’ll let myself be subjected to all the humiliation and abuse that was heaped on terrorists at Abu Ghraib or Gitmo, and the critics can let themselves be subject to captivity by the Muslims who tortured and beheaded Daniel Pearl in Pakistan, or the Muslims who tortured and murdered Marine Lt.. Col. William Higgins in Lebanon, or the Muslims who ran the blood-spattered Al Qaeda torture rooms our troops found in Iraq, or the Muslims who cut off the heads of schoolgirls in Indonesia, because the girls were Christian.. Then we’ll compare notes. British and American soldiers are the only troops in history that civilians came to for help and handouts, instead of hiding from in fear.
I’m tired of people telling me that their party has a corner on virtue and the other party has a corner on corruption. Read the papers—bums are bi-partisan. And I’m tired of people telling me we need bi-partisanship.. I live in Illinois, where the “Illinois Combine” of Democrats and Republicans has worked together harmoniously to loot the public for years. And I notice that the tax cheats in Obama’s cabinet are bi-partisan as well.
I’m tired of hearing wealthy athletes, entertainers and politicians of both parties talking about innocent mistakes, stupid mistakes or youthful mistakes, when we all know they think their only mistake was getting caught. I’m tired of people with a sense of entitlement, rich or poor.
Speaking of poor, I’m tired of hearing people with air-conditioned homes, color TVs and two cars called poor. The majority of Americans didn’t have that in 1970, but we didn’t know we were “poor.” The poverty pimps have to keep changing the definition of poor to keep the dollars flowing.
I’m real tired of people who don’t take responsibility for their lives and actions. I’m tired of hearing them blame the government, or discrimination, or big-whatever for their problems.
Yes, I’m damn tired. But I’m also glad to be 63. Because, mostly, I’m not going to get to see the world these people are making. I’m just sorry for my granddaughter.
Robert A. Hall is a Marine Vietnam veteran who served five terms in the Massachusetts state senate.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Black and White

I am such a black and white person. Either it is or it isn't. Either it's done or it is unfinished. Either it's dirty or clean. There's no in between for me.

It's a good part of my character and it's a bad part of my character. For me to say that goes against all my black and white stances.

It's called changing. I've asked God to change my character and part of that is the soap box I stand on when people disagree with me. When I'm right I'm completely right. No ifs ands or buts. When I'm wrong I admit it and am totally wrong and apologize until I'm told to shut up.

I have to laugh at this part of my personality on mornings like this. Sam and a whole bunch of nurses are packing medicine to take on their Medical Mission Trip to Guatemala this next Saturday. He asked me to type up several catergories of meds and wrote all of them down for me. Then he ran through the office and said they needed two more signs.

Antiseptic and I-meds. That's what I heard and that's what I wrote.

Laughingly, the nurses had a field day with I-meds. I assumed it was for medicine like Imodium.

Sam meant EYE-meds. I laughed. Apologized...and still feel like I need to apologize some more.

And then I laugh again.


Friday, February 27, 2009

In a Pit With A Lion on a Snowy Day

This book was introduced to me by my nephew Stephen who is enjoying his Freshman year at Central Bible College. I look at his Facebook page and can't help but smile seeing him allowing God to turn him into a preacher....not just any preacher...one who slays lions in pits despite the snowy days.

The book's cover says:
Your greatest regret at the end of your life will be the lions you didn't chase. You will look back longingly on risks not taken, opportunities not seized, and dreams not pursued. Stop running away from what scares you most and start chasing the God-ordained opportunities that cross your path. In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day is inspired by one of the most obscure yet courageous acts recorded in Scripture, a blessed and audacious act that left no regrets: “Benaiah chased a lion down into a pit. Then, despite the snow and slippery ground, he caught the lion and killed it” (2 Samuel 23:20 -21). Unleash the lion chaser within! What if the life you really want, and the future God wants for you, is hiding right now in your biggest problem, your worst failure… your greatest fear ? "

I'm on page 63. It's a refreshing book for me to read for many reasons. One is I've been immersed in Christian fiction novels for the last few years...and reading a non-fiction book reminds me how much I still thirst for the newness of God. Secondly, I love books that challenge my mode of thinking...I love books that take me to another level of God's mercy, grace and Professorship! He is the greatest teacher...and I've missed learning from Him.

As I read this book, I see that God saw Benaiah's feats as worthy to be put in His Word. So obviously we must learn something from this verse.

Today I read "In his Letters to Malcolm, CS Lewis said, "If God had granted all the silly prayers I've made in my life, where would I be now?" Lewis went so far as to say that someday we'll be more grateful for our prayers that didn't get answered than the ones that did. The reason for this is simple: Many of our prayers are misguided. We pray for comfort instead of character. We pray for an easy way out instead of the strength to make it through. We pray for no pain, when the result would be no gain. We pray that God will keep us out of pits and away from lions. But if God answered our prayer, it would rob us of our greatest opportunities. Many of our prayers would short-circuit God's plans and purposes for our lives if He answered them. Maybe we should stop asking God to get us out of difficult circumstances and start asking Him what He wants us to get out of those difficult circumstances."

One of my prayers is that God would change my character. It's kind of like pulling at an ingrown toenail. It's painful and sometimes nasty looking...and sometimes the ugly character grows back the same way...but with a callous around it. I, thank God, am still a piece of clay, ready and able to be molded...sometimes not willing.

Yes, I've read all of this before. But never when I was in a pit...with a lion...on a snowy day.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Boldness and Behind the Scenes

I wish all of us could be so bold as to go up to hurting people, homeless people and sit with them and give them our time. That would be so awesome. And each of us needs to get out of our comfort zones and do that at least once. I have. I was scared to death. In a day and age where I cannot remember a friend's name on any given day...it would be a frightening thing to walk up to a stranger and try to remember his/her name--much less give them a piece of Jesus in me.

But it did make me feel like I had peeled a layer of apprehension off of me and maybe next time it might be easier...and maybe not.

Matthew 25:31 “But when the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit upon his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered in his presence, and he will separate the people as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will place the sheep at his right hand and the goats at his left.
34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. 36 I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’
37 “Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? 39 When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’
40 “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters,
you were doing it to me!’
41 “Then the King will turn to those on the left and say, ‘Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his demons.
42 For I was hungry, and you didn’t feed me. I was thirsty, and you didn’t give me a drink. 43 I was a stranger, and you didn’t invite me into your home. I was naked, and you didn’t give me clothing. I was sick and in prison, and you didn’t visit me.’
44 “Then they will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help you?’
45 “And he will answer, ‘I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.’
46 “And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous will go into eternal life.”

I have read and re-read this. I've really tried to see where someone would be considered less for just dropping off some used socks and shoes to homeless people. I've really tried to see where someone who brought warm meals to the homeless would be considered not doing what Jesus would do....

What's the motive? The motives of the church goers who brought shoes and socks so that the homeless would have their feet taken care of--- were their motives any less than those who brought themselves and the gospel? Those who brought the gospel had boldness that shoe-givers do not? I'm just asking because I need to know.

Jesus said "I was hungry, I was thirsty, I was a stranger, I was naked".....and this uncomfortably scared little team of church members brought clothes and another team--walking out of their comfort zones brought food. And then I read a quote from a precious child of God "I believe it's the raw, authentic love of Jesus lived out thru us that will draw people to the heart of God. Not a pile of socks on the street given out half-heartedly, or a hot meal given in haste."

The motives of the church goers who brought warm meals to the homeless...didn't it take time to give it to the homeless....to prepare it....to plan it... and the love to serve it? And instead of standing around and watching the fruits of their labors...didn't hang around and watch...they left...so that the homeless could enjoy their meal without people strutting around saying "see what we did for the homeless...what are you doing???" Are those who gave the hot meal any less a servant than those who have the boldness to walk up to these same people and give their time? I'm thinking both are reflections of Jesus... Because it takes all of us to be the hands and feet of the gospel.

I know passing out used socks and shoes and warm food isn't radical. But Jesus said that's part of what the righteous ones did for him.