Thursday, October 21, 2010

More For My Daddy: Have Some Left-over Cake For Breakfast

If you read my last post, you are likely aware that I find birthdays to be a particularly signifigant holiday celebrating not only the portion of life that has been lived but also whatever time an individual has left on earth, and how God might orchestrate the events of an individual's life to bring more people into a relationship with him. One way to ensure one never forgets that God created him or her for a special purpose is to never stop celebrating one's birthday. Now, that, that may seem a bit self-indulgent, but I guarentee it is effective, and it gives you an excuse to have a huge piece of left-over birthday cake with a glass of milk for breakfast the day after, so Daddy, while you enjoy your breakfast the day after whether it be cake or cereal, here are a few more words for you.
In closing yesterday I made a thank-you list, and I have come up with a few thank-yous that I missed, so thank you for sitting by my hospital bed like a bull-dog after my stroke waiting to rip the head off anyone who threatened my comfort or might unintentionally inflict further pain or loss in your baby girl's life, for faithfully and committedly providing for my family, and in doing so, allowing mom to stay home with us in a time when it was in vogue for women to return to the work place, for setting a stellar example for me of a man of character, so that when pop psychology's theory that a girl will choose a man as her husband who is like her father came to fruition in my own life, despite how many times I had refuted the validity of said theory in my mind, I ended up with a man whose faithfulness and concept of commitment rivals only your own, who provides generously for my family while sharing in an equally generous manner with anyone he encounters in need, who allows me to stay home and raise my sweet, passionate, Lili with no complaint, and who helps me feel as safe and secure in this world as you always did. Thank you for setting that precident for me because, now, it has become Lili's to own as she grows and chooses a mate. It is my fervent prayer on many a night that as pop-psychology proved accurate in my life that it will in Lili's! Other than hoping that Lili will love the Lord and serve him with her life, my greatest hope is that she will find a man like her Daddy, like my Daddy, with whom to share her life. Please, don't refute everything I've said with a barrage of negative, mental, personal put-downs because I have simply written the truth while realizing you're not perfect, so it becomes very evident to me that perfection isn't a necessary characteristic for being an AWESOME dad!:) I love you, and I'm as glad today that you were born and for your life as I was yesterday!:)

Happy Birthday, Daddy!

67 years ago today the man I know as my Daddy entered this world. For his birthday I want him to know that his youngest child is not only proud of him and the many noteworthy projects he has completed since the day of his birth, but also, I am proud to possess many of the personality characteriatics that make him a unique and dynamic individual! According to the Psalmist, when we are conceived God "knits" us together in our mother's womb, and accepting this as God's truth as I acknowledge science's findings about reproduction, I believe that when he created me, God took a few select and intentional strands of my father's DNA and knit them together with an equal number of strands from my mother's DNA to form me into an individual capable of certain specific tasks that he had designed for me to accomplish in my lifetime in order to expand his kingdom here on earth, which means to me that my life along with every other human being that has ever been and will ever be in existence is intended to grow the number of people on this earth who know, love, trust, and follow their creator. As I reflect on the person my father is in comparison to the person I am today, I can identify one or two characteristics in my personality that must have been contained on the yarn-like DNA strands that God handpicked from my father when he made me 31 years ago. The most predominate characteristic in both our personalities is intense passion no matter what emotion or activity we are experiencing whether it be happiness, sadness, anxiety, compassion it is likely to be an intensely passionate experience for us and anyone within our direct vacinity. Less obvious to my father because he considers himself inadequately educated in a traditional sense and a bad speller, is that we both love words and learning, and every area of our existence being fueled by our passionate nature, we have a tendancy toward articulate verbal and written artistic expression. I enjoy possessing both of these characteristics handed down to me by my Daddy, and I am pleased to report that I can already detect signs of their presence in the sweet life of my daughter:) Based on comments my father has made in recent years, I have gathered that one of his major life regrets is the amount of time he was away while I was growing up due to his passionate personality in combination with his career creating a great deal of professional success, which ultimately resulted in frequent business travel. All I can say in response to that I, " pshaw!" He was around enough for me to learn from his example that it is important to stand up for what we know is right and true, and that belief is something to contend with when combined with our passion! My Daddy's example also taught me to value people no matter their position in society, and to dig deep into the word of God. I am happy to be the person I am today, and I am pleased to give my father credit for helping me become that person! Happy 67th Birthday, Daddy!:) Thank you for being the main character in my earliest memory of you singing and rocking me to sleep, for running along beside me hollering encouragements at cross-country meets even though it annoyed me at the time, for taking me on business trips to Washington D.C. with you, for allowing mom to squander all your hard earned money on clothes during my teen years, for running all over the states to find the exact color of the NIKE running watch that I picked out in my running magazine until you found it ( I still have that watch because that meant a lot to me that you went to all that trouble, and I know that is probably just the one time of many of which I am aware!), and for the look of compassion that you were unable to express when I was crying because a boy hurt my teenage pride. I love you, and you were around enough for me to be confident of that, and I think that makes you a GREAT Daddy!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

BRAT

I have lived a life that has been very generously blessed by the Lord even in trials, and for the most part, I have unabashedly proclaimed my unending gratitude to him from whom according to scripture every good and perfect gift comes, but I am terribly ashamed to report that my professed gratitude has been an unintentional facade distracting both myself and everyone around me from the ugly, nasty, hateful brat that hid beneath the surface. I continually pray that God will grow me and mature me into the woman he created me to be, and it seems that my most recent utterances of this prayer have been answered in the past 24 hours beginning with the phone call my husband received last night unraveling the few strands of stability to which we hold in light of our recent dilemma. While attempting to trust God with our future, I was able to catch a few glimpses of the direction in which God might be leading us, and instantaneously, I succumbed to the temptation to start piecing together a plan of which I approved as a path of minimal loss for myself and my family. Unfortunately, last night that plan was trampled by reality, and my shameful response was to become so angry with God that I could not bare to crack open my Bible or speak to him in prayer, yes, what I am saying is I dared give the Creator of the Universe the silent treatment!:( The source of my anger were the ridiculous thoughts,"Why are you doing this to me?...Haven't you taken enough already?...What have I done to deserve this?...I've done everything you've asked of me and more! I praised you even after you allowed me to become disabled!...Don't I deserve a break?!" Can't you just invision me stomping my childish little spiritual foot with my spirit's hands fisted as I mentally ranted at God through my tears and disappointment!? I knew my response was wrong, but I could not control it because, for those of you who think I'm good, my bratty nature just took control, and, to my shame, I submitted to it until this morning when I mercifully awoke unsmote by the all-powerful God whom I had beat up on all night with my silent musings. This morning after I dropped Lili off at pre-school, I headed to the church for the women's Wednesday morning Bible study that I teach although I had seriously considered skipping because my class wasn't even meeting today since it was our week to help with childcare, but despite my assumption it would be a waste of time, I drove to the church ready to corral toddlers while their mother's attended classes. What I didn't realize was that God had a special, undeserved treat for me diguised as a preschool choir practice that I got to attend. The choir director played a cd of the musical the children would be perfprming for their parents later in the semester as a means of familiarizing the kids with the monologues spoken by the narrator in relation to the musical pieces they would be singing. At one point, the narrator reminded us that Jesus chose to leave the riches and comfort of Heaven to live on this wretched earth as a homeless, wandering prophet speaking to me that God was asking me to endure graciously no more than he had been willing to endure on my behalf! Boy, did I feel like a BIG dumby in the moment of that realization! While I was still blushing from the shame of that insight, the lyrics of the song that followed nearly brought me to tears, "Jesus is my very best friend...I will love him to the end...all my life I'll follow him...Jesus is my friend!" In my mind I finished each phrase with, " and I've been a really crappy friend in return!:(" The joy of the Lord shone through my self-imposed spiritual exhile at this point because I knew that I was forgiven, and even after being such a turd, he was giving me a fresh start:) This is exactly why Jesus is my very best friend and with all my life I'll follow him!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Facebook Fast-October 2010

Recently, a series of unfortunate events have necessitated that my family pack up all our belongings and move away from the blissfully perfect home that we began inhabiting only two short years ago following my stroke (see past post: The House That God Built). Currently, we are still in the packing up stage of this scenario, and we do not yet know where we are going with all our boxed belongings come the middle of October. You don't have to be a 31-year-old mother of a 4-year-old daughter who just got established in an excellent Montesorri preschool, whose involvement in her church gives her life focus and meaning to comprehend the heart-wrenching pain and disappointment caused by moving unexpectedly from the home and community in which you believed you would grow old happily with your spouse enjoying the bounty of God's blessing while raising your family. Although my husband and I have claimed God's provision and good and perfect plan for our lives from the onset of this storm timed so perfectly two years after the last massively damaging storm front passed through our lives, we find ourselves struggling to submit to these life events with the same peace and assurance as we where able during the last storm. By the way, we are hoping a biannual storm pattern has not established itself in God's plan for our lives!
Just this morning as I took in the beautiful sight created by the early morning sun transforming the unharvested, dried corn stalks in the field bordering our property into shimmering gold dancing, in the cool, autumn breeze, to the sound track of twittering birds, I mourned like I hadn't yet in the three weeks since my life's course had been set in this direction. The tears that streaked down my face spoiling my seldom worn make-up where tailed closely by guilt for failing to be filled with God's peace and joy as I faced uncertain circumstances with God at my side, so later that morning while awaiting my teaching time during the Sunday morning youth program at my church, I was thouroughly blessed to hear this scripture from Nehemiah recording the Godly prophet Nehemiah's response to learning of his home's destruction. Nehemiah 1:3-4 They said to me, " Those who survived the exhile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burnedwith fire." When I heard these things I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven. This spoke to me that my mourning was normal and okay but that I was missing two essential components to the equation of victoriously facing such overwhelming disappointment, so this week I am committed to adding a time of fasting and prayer to my regimine of mourning while I pack and gratefully recognize the perfection of the time of excessive blessing that is passing. I will fast not from food but from the use of facebook and will spend time in scripture and prayer each time I long to log on to my favorite social network. I will begin by reading the book of Nehemiah because this book of the Bible seems to have special significance to my current situation, and through careful consideration of this ancient man's interaction with God as he attempts to rebuild from the rubble and ashes the city that once stood for the glory of God and the protection of his people, I will follow his lead as I attempt to put the pieces of my shattered life back together in a manner that honors God and fits into his good and perfect will for mine, Tim, and Lili's life!:)

Friday, October 1, 2010

A Post For The Dear Boy From Rutgers: Homosexuality Should NOT Be A Death Sentence

This post has been a long time coming! As a result, It is likely to be very long and slightly disorganized as I attempt to record every stray thought that has occurred in relation to the topic since its conception. Its very unlikely that upon completion of this post that I will have adequately supported all my points and clearly expressed every thought, so please, feel free to question and debate because this will help me perfect my thought. As is always true, I will happily respond to any questions in relation to my writing. This Post was first conceived months ago during a sermon in which the pastor of our church emphasized Jesus' Great Commission in the New Testament, Matthew 28:19-20 Therefore go and make disciples of ALL nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. The translation of scripture our pastor was using read ALL PEOPLES, and those words in combination with the spiritual discussions (relating to the spiritual implications of homosexuality) that had recently been taking place between myself and an old college friend caused me to question, "What does ALL mean here, and as a church both locally and internationally, are we really committed to obeying this command that resounded from the vocal chords of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ? My challenge here is that ALL most certainly does indicate that no exclusion is to be made from those we reach out to in the name of Jesus in hopes that each individual will come to know Jesus personally and experience drastic , positive life-change as a result. My fear is that while the church as a whole has been faithful to reach out in such a way to many nations around the world, that it has much to the shame of the name and legacy of Christ failed to embrace certain people groups because of fear, ignorance, and misinterpretation of the scriptures. The one particular neglected people group over which my heart is bleeding today is the one comprised of individuals whose sexual orientation is outside God's original intention. In other words, I believe an accurate description of the church's reaction to homosexuals as a group has sadly, been more of a pushing away or casting aside as hopeless rather than the accepting embrace of Christ's love:( This saddens me because Christ teaches me in his scriptures that, no, the practice of homosexual behavior is not God honoring much like it teaches me that I should not steal, murder, lie, lust, or be greedy 1Timothy 1:8-10 We know that the law is good if one uses it properly. We also know that law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful the unholy and irreligious; for those who kill their fathers and mothers, for murderers, for adulterers and perverts, for slave traders and liars and perjurers-and for whatever else contrary to sound doctrine that conforms to the sound gospel of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me. The GOOD NEWS (gospel message) that I and every other card-carrying Christian has been commanded to share with ALL PEOPLE is that we are ALL sinners who have from time to time fallen into one or more of the previously mentioned sins, and that Jesus has already served the punishment for each and every one of those sins past, present, and future, and that ANYONE, straight, gay, black, white, or tan who chooses to receive that free and undeserved gift living from that point forward with Jesus as his/her Lord (Boss) and Savior is a child of God Most High and will live with him for eternity in Heaven! Right now, my Christian friends, who I believe to be good-intention are freaking out because they know the Bible teaches that homosexuality is a sin...blah, blah, blah, but what I need my dear, Christian friends to stop and consider is that each of us struggle with sin. In fact, some of us are more inclined toward certain sins than others, but none of us lives life free from temptation or sin. The Bible is incredibly clear on this issue Romans 3:23 For ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace. Jesus was the only human being able to live a perfect life, thankfully, on our behalf, so that when he served the punishment for our sins, we could then benefit from his perfect life by having the privelage of wearing it as a perfect, holy, spotless cloak in God's presence since Jesus traded it in for our dirty rags on the cross Phillipians 3:9 ...not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ-the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. My point in reiterating these basic Christian principles is that we (Christian, heterosexuals) are no different than homosexuals. Just as we are often tempted to do things that dishonor God, so are the individuals belonging to this specific group. Its just a different temptation than we experience as heterosexuals. Not worse or better just different. Remembering that even Jesus experienced temptation Luke 4: 1-2 Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the desert where for forty days he was tempted by the devil, I must point out that temptation in and of itself is not sinful or dishonoring to God in any way, so on that foundation I proclaim that desiring to have sexual relations with another individual of the same gender is NOT a sin! Desiring such a thing does not qualify one to be disowned or cast off by the church in any way, shape, or form. Now, having said that, I must also qualify that acting upon temptations to behave differently than God has directed in his word is sinful even though all sins have been covered by the blood of Jesus. the Bible instructs us not to take advantage of God's gift of forgiveness by freely sinning because we know the punishment has already been paid Galations 5:13 ...But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature...so I say, live by the Spirit and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. The acts of the sinful nature are obvious; sexual immorality, impurity, and debauchery; idolotry, and witchcraft;hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish-ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkeness, orgies, and the like. I warn you as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. Christians both homo- and hetero- sexual, will be able to enter God's presence on the coattails of Christ's perfection. So, if you're gay and are still reading open-minded, I want to tell you from the bottom of my heart a truth that has been placed there by the hand of God himself...You are not a weirdo or unworthy of life or anything else you might feel about yourself because of the particular temptation with which you struggle! All human beings struggle with temptation to behave outside God's will in one way or another from time to time. In fact, the Bible puts us all in our place by saying in 1 Corinthians 10:13 No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God he is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you are able to bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it. This scripture tells me that it is sadly inaccurate to believe yourself better or worse according to the type of temptation with which one struggles, but rather if a person is tempted by something, it is common to humanity, so the only way you could turn up as a weirdo or as abnormal is if you're comparing yourself to a pack of dogs, gaggle of geese, or a pod of whales! I'm sure you notice throughout this scripture the tone that more than suggests that one who wants to honor God by following Jesus and receive eternity in heaven with his/her life must flee temptation and do the very best he/she is able to refrain from whatever behavior that dishonors God in his life be it lying, gossiping, or engaging in sexual relations with an individual of the same sex, so my point really is that there is absolutely nothing wrong, in God's eyes, with desiring to have sex with a member of the same sex. A person should not have to be ashamed to admit to such anymore than I am ashamed to admit I have a propensity to be prideful, selfish, and greedy! A person should not be excluded from anything because of his/her temptation, and God wants you to become a follower of Jesus and spend eternity with him no matter what anyone else has told you or made you feel about him in reference to your sexual preference, but following Jesus would mean resisting the temptations with which you struggle, but I must clarify, it does not mean that you must stop being attracted to members of the same sex because that would be the same as someone telling me not to be tempted to share that juicy story I overheard the other day with my friend...its impossible for me to prevent the temptation from occurring because the only thing I truely have control over is how I respond to said temptation! The temptation is not the sin! Just know that thousands of years ago, Jesus made a special provision to include ALL people in his family, so if someone in the church tries to belittle or exclude you, shame on them because he/she is totally misrepresenting Christ's original intention! It makes me SOoo sad to hear in the news today that another young man took his life because he was so ashamed for his sexual-orientation to be revealed to the world. We are guilty for allowing the world that this particular young man once lived in to communicate to him that struggling with the homosexual temptation should be a death sentence! As Christians, we need to be sure we aren't helping to perpetuate the falsehood that the desire to have sexual relations with an individual of the same sex is somehow a sin in itself by which the value of the individual experiencing the temptation is diminished creating an environment that often imposes a death sentence on these individuals whom God created in his image and loves dearly just like the rest of his creation!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Friday, September 10, 2010

First Annual Love-Your-Enemy Day 9/11/10

Matthew 5:43 and 44 You have heard that it was said, "Love your neighbor and hate you enemy." But I[Jesus] tell you: LOVE your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.


These words rolled off the lips of my beloved Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in the middle of one of his most famous, breathtakingly beautiful sermons, so I was completely confused and horrified yesterday when I learned through a news report that an individual in FL who claims to bear the name of Christ was attacking the Islamic faith by inviting his congregation to attend and participate in a ceremonial burning of copies of the Koran on the anniversary of the infamous World Trade Center terrorist attack. I do not know this man's private motivations, but it seems by the timing and nature of the event that he is acting in poorly aimed retaliation against the men who orchestrated these attacks. Now, I say, "poorly aimed," because he seems to be attacking any and everyone sharing the terrorist's proclaimed faith. I'm confident that, much like this situation, one or two strangely radical personalities in the Islamic faith acted on 9/11/01 without the support or consent of every or any other practicing Muslim! Its sad when the one looney in the bunch does something completely unrepresentative of the group to get recognized by the rest of the world! I fear that just as the poor choices and destorted reasoning of those few terrorists have become, for some, the face of Islam that the unbiblical actions of this one man proclaiming to be a minister of Christ will tarnish the already terribly misrepresented name of Christ Jesus! Anyway, what I want you to know is that Jesus doesn't want us to react to the persecution heaped on our country by teorrists in the past with hate, but rather, love and prayer! Now, folks, that's a biblical response, so what does love for your enemies look like in this situation? I guess it depends who you feel has become your enemy as a result of the events of 9/11/01. If as this minister in FL seems to feel, anyone who practices the Muslim faith fits that description, something as simple as picking up the litter you notice on the lawn of a local mosque might be considered a loving, Christ-honoring action, but for me, I would need to go so far as track down the families of the men who crashed those planes and help fill the gaps whether emotional, spiritual, or financial that have been left in their lives since the deaths of their sons, husbands, and fathers. Since this action is neither practical or logical, after having spoken with a minister at my church, I am considering participation to some extent in the Dearbourne, MI ministry project that strives to minister in all the above mentioned areas to the largest Muslim population in the United States, but I commit to praying for those men's families in an intentional and direct act of love for those terrorists themselves! Those words would catch in my throat if I were speaking them aloud because that is so against my human nature, but I love Christ, and he has called me to love my enemies and pray for those who persecute me, so I will if only for the sake of representing him well to the world around me!:) My commitment to honoring Christ in not only my actions, but also, the attitudes of my heart leads me to proclaim that for my family 9/11 will always and forever be Love-Your-Enemies Day instead of my original thought Love-A-Muslim Day. I don't want the focus to be on Muslims specifically because I feel that identifying the religion as a whole as our enemy is dangerous and inaccurate, and I feel that Love-Your -Enemies gets to the heart of my original thought and intention. I want my Lili to always know how important it is to Jesus that she practice this behavior no matter how counter to her human nature it runs, so tomorrow celebrate with my family Love-Your-Enemies Day and take the time to examine your heart to the point that you are able to identify any people or groups that you classify as enemies or persecutors and take time to pray for them and intentionally love on them!:) Please, pass this thought along to all you know!:)

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Roller Coaster Religion

The Labor Day weekend found me in a couple situations during which I was able to observe people of all ages riding roller coasters of all sizes. First, at Holiday World, a small theme park in southern Indiana that offers some of the world's best wooden coasters and second, at a local Labor Day carnival near our home. As I watched the riders I saw varied responses to the danger and excitement the rides presented. Some threw their hands into the air with great abandon hoping to heighten the exhileration of flying down a steep hill embracing the belly-thieving feeling of lost control, while others, clung to the seat with white knuckles having boarded the ride just to say they had or to placate their pleading companions. These pictures reminded me of the scene I have viewed on many a weekend at evangelical Christian churches during the group worship time. Some throw their hands in the air with great abandon reaching out to God and saying, "I'm all in. Take me on a spiritual adventure while others clutch the pew in front of them with white knuckles as they inch away from the obviously crazy holy-roller beside them who must be experiencing a hallucination during which she is headed down a steep hill on a roller coaster with her hands extended high into the air. In this same pew is another individual who raises her hands only so she isn't the only one who isn't. I mean, she doesn't want to appear to be a heathen in the presence of all these saints who seem to be so much closer to God than herself, and next to her is standing a person who raises her hands simply to portray that she is a saint although she knows that if anyone had seen her interacting with her family before church he would have known otherwise. This post is not about whether you ever raise your hands in worship or not because, honestly, as this scenario makes obvious, the raising of hands during a worship song during weekend services can reflect several different spiritual motivations some sincere and others not so much, only God and the individual who owns said hands knows which motivation is behind the supposedly worshipful posture, so I mention my roller coaster observations to ask you not, "what is your posture during worship songs, but what is your posture as you live your life?" Do you live your life as the first person in the pew embracing God's will for your life as if it were your own, fully submitted to abandoning the desires of your flesh in a manner that, at times, is terrifying to both you and those around you, or do you cling white knuckled to your own desires like my Lili did on her first and second solo ride on the kiddie, dragon roller coaster at the Labor day carnival, but I did notice that she relaxed a little with each lap around the track as if her mounting experience gradually convinced her that she was safe even though it felt scary and that if she allowed herself to fully enjoy every aspect of the experience it could be completely amazing and breathtakingly enjoyable:) I relate to her experience in my spiritual life as stated in 1 Peter 2:2 Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation now that you have tasted that the Lord is good. The second part of this verse is where I draw a connection to Lili's roller coaster experience. Once we taste and see that the Lord is good we begin to trust and adore him in a whole new way that allows us to assume a posture of complete disregard for ourselves before him! When we obey God even when his advice doesn't make sence to us, we find out that His wisdim, his advice, his intentions, are GOOD, and it becomes a little easier for us to relax into allowing him to fill the role of LORD of our lives, which in all honesty, is the spirit's true equivalent of throwing your hands in the air in worship. God doesn't care what you do with your hands when you sing songs to him, but he is intimately invested in the posture of our spirits as we live our lives, so ask yourself, "Am I holding white-knuckled onto aspects of my life in an attempt to maintain full control, or do I daily throw my figurative hands in the air in total submission to God's will for my life?" If you don't know, here's a test for you to measure your true level of submission to God's authority in your life. Read Matthew 5:39-41 But I [Jesus] tell you, do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who asks you, do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you. Now, before you bust your computer monitor tryng to reach through the screen to strangle me for these words I have typed, stop to consider that these are the recorded words from the good and holy lips of Jesus Christ, you know, the one, you likely say is Lord of your life if you label yourself a Christian, so why do these words irritate us so and raise our hackles? I really don't need you to answer that question because I am well aware of the answer from my own personal reaction that the thought of living life this way makes me feel vulnerable and unprotected and likely to end up as the world's doormat, and then, my question for myself is, "Why, Cori?" You have tasted and seen that the Lord is good! You have story after story that you share through your writing and speech that ooze with praise and commendations for the yumminess(beyond goodness) of living life with Jesus Christ as Lord (Boss), so why do you question him here on whether he knows what he's talking about in these scary potentially hurtful situations? What does this reveal concerning how submitted you truely are to him? You've experienced that life Christ's way is AWESOME as you have pried one white-knuckle loose at a time, and with each freed finger you KNOW the ride that life is just got BETTER and BETTER and BETTER and BETTER, so why not just let go COMPLETELY and stand before the Lord with both hands raised in complete submission to his will and make it possible to experience the heightened enjoyment and excitement of riding hands-free? I'm sharing my deepest thoughts with you here in hopes that it will get you thinking deeply about your own walk with Christ because I truely have tasted and seen that the Lord is excellent, and I totally think its worth it to follow his advice in everything even when its scary because from my personal experience it ALWAYS leads to blessing and joy beyond compare!:)
Another observation that stands out to me as I consider the experience I had over the weekend is that as I stood among the throng that had formed near the roller coaster entrance at a location that offered a good vantage point of some of the rides most frightening assests, I couldn't help but overhear the conversations of those around me that reflected admiration for the members of their group who had chosen to ride, and maybe even, a little regret that they hadn't joined them. Another common thread to the conversations was a recognition of the fun the riders wer having and possibly a little vicarious enjoyment as well:) I couldn't help but wonder why these individuals didn't just get in line and ride, so they could experience the fun for themselves. In sharing this, I am further extending Jesus' oringinal invite by inviting you to join me in enjoying life in a committment to FULL submission to Jesus Christ. Please, don't just stand and watch me enjoy the ride wishing you could experience it also!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Strike A Pose!

In my absence from writing the past several weeks I have started a diet on which I have already dropped 8+ pounds. Knowing my husband is the most honest, straight-forward person that God placed on this earth, I dared to strike a pose this mornig right before stepping into the shower while questioning him in a sing-song little girl voice, "Am I skinny yet?" Not surprisingly, just as I had hoped, he answered honestly, "You're skinnier than you were!" Why am I pleased with this answer that implies I'm still on the wrong side of chubby with more than a few pounds to go before my ideal weight will be attained? Because I know, just as I am sure you do, that weight loss is a process that requires time and effort. One doesn't miraculously drop from nearly 200 pounds to 150 with the first sip of Coke Zero! I am pleased that my husband recognized a noticeable and measurable difference in my size and shape this morning although I am well aware that I haven't yet met my goal! As I was completing my morning routine my stroke-ravaged brain made a connection from that incident to a moment that occurred during yet another new development since the last time I wrote. Yesterday, I began teaching/leading a women's Bible study entitled, "Living Victoriously In Difficult Times." During the introductory lesson, we began an overview of the spiritual benchmarks or milestones I have identified from personal experience that are necessary to have reached in order to be victorious when life stinks. By definition, benchmark and milestone are both words that describe a marker that identifies a specific distance traveled on a journey. In order to progress on said journey, one must pass the progressive milestones to reach a further location. Just as I must lose 10 pounds before I can boast having lost 50, I must grow in my relationship with God through Jesus Christ past certain understandings in order to experience true VICTORY in life no matter the circumstance. Making spiritual progress requires discipline and effort just as progressing in a weight loss program does. While abstaining from fatty and sugar-filled yum-yums seems to be the key attaining my goal weight, gorging on God's word and regularly enjoying ooey-gooey, sweet time in God's presence through prayer, worship and fellowship with other believers are key to spiritual growth. I share this because sometimes we can become discouraged and even question our salvation when we witness other Christians who are farther down the road with God, and once again, just as in weight loss, it not really about where you are but instead about whether you are making recognizable progress on your spiritual journey or not, so strike a pose before the most honest person you know and ask, "Do you see a difference in me? Do I look more like Jesus (our behavioral and spiritual goal as Christians)?" On this note, I remember watching the minister at our church as a teenager and thinking, "That's what I want! I want to love God with that intensity, passion, dedication, and committment! Well, today as a 30 -year-old woman who still treasures that minister and his family, knowing intimately who I was as a teenager, I know I have progressed farther and farther along the path to those characteristics I admired in his spirit...spiritually, I am a different size and shape than I was, and although I have not finished my journey and there is still room for plenty of growth, I am near to giddy over the results I see, so I will continue seeking to grow in the Lord as long as I live, and one day, when I get the privelage of finally meeting Jesus(and not a second before!) I will finally be made perfect (completely reflecting Jesus in everyway). I find this comparison of weight loss and spiritual growth interesting because one is about losing and shrinking while the other is about gaining everything and growing while both are important to health and quality of life (just in different areas). Take some time to evaluate your spiritual progress once in awhile just as you might step on the scale or ask your husband's opinion occassionally when you are dieting to evaluate how you are doing and determine if you need to make a change in your program. If you don't have a brutally honest individual in your life to ask, dig into God's word because as 2 Timothy 3: 16 says All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness, so the man of God may be thouroughly equipped for every good work. Sounds like the equilvalent to a spiritual scale to me!:D Another glowing recommendation for God's word as a tool for spiritual growth is found in Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

If you are curious about the spiritual milestones I eluded to early on in this post, you are welcome to join me next Wednesday at Crossroads Christian Church in Evansville, IN for my class which is part of a larger women's ministry called Daughter's of the King (DOK). The program in its entirety runs from 9AM-11AM with my class portion beginning at 10AM being preceeded by a large group worship and learning time. One can pre-register at www.crossroadschristian.com. Child care is provided, so no excuses;)

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Color Crayon Doctrine

My quickly approaching four-year-old daughter posed a befuddling question to me this afternoon, "Cori (yes, she likes to call me by name), why do grown-ups color in the lines?" Upon considering her query, I was tempted to respond with, "because it makes a prettier picture," but then it quickly occurred to me that my daughter's colorful and carefree expressions, which most would interpret as scribbles, often can be described as beautiful and engaging, so I stopped short of responding anything more than, "I don't know!" In fact, I immediately began to question whether instructing our children to color inside the lines might unintentionally squelch their individuality, so maybe, I wondered, "Is it bad for our children or wrong to inhibit them in such a way?" Of course, I had to follow our short conversation with a facebook post to flaunt my adorable, genious and elicit some opinions from my friends concerning the coloring conundrum in which I now found myself! One comment in particular got the few undamaged brain cells that remain after my stroke to firing, and they haven't cooled since. Basically, my friend suggested that coloring in the lines is neither right nor wrong good nor bad, but just a simple way for a child to learn self-discipline, which appealed to my understanding of life just as much as my initial, maybe, there's not any value to training a child to stay in the lines like everyone else other than stifling their creativity and creating a little conformist. Neither of which appealed to me as a goal I want to acheive in my parenting career. Anyway, my mind connected from here to the concept of living inside the boundaries that God has established for our safety, which I have blogged about previously. We are all likely aware that God has set forth certain guidelines, boundaries, commandments, or rules in his written word, the Bible. Much like we as parents set rules for our children to protect them because we love them, God sets the boundaries for our physical, emotional, and spiritual safety as we live here on this earth. It is my belief that choosing to live within these established lines although it requires a great deal of self-dscipline allows us to avoid many of the consequential hardships and tradgedies that we often note others experiencing. Often, wondering why God wants to keep us from the apparent fun on the other side, we are tempted to cross over and soon learn from what exactly our loving father wanted to protect us! caused us. Just like my daughter's coloring pages, at first, the activity going on outside the lines looks enjoyable and exciting, and we may even feel cheated or stifled by keeping inside the boundary lines God established, but we soon learn that life outside the lines is messy and confusing and not nearly as attractive or fun as it first seemed, but by no means does this imply that we cannot color/live with great passion, exuberance, and creativity within the healthy and safe boundaries that God has established, so commit today to making your life a lovely, colorful, and creative picture colored by you just for God that he can hang on his refrigerator with pride and delight when you hand it over to him when you're finished, and remember, for your own enjoyment along the way color with exuberance INSIDE the lines he has established to protect you!:) Also, if it is your desire to carefully color inside the lines of the picture your life is, it might be wise to familiarize yourself with the boundaries God has established by reading his word regularly because you might be surprised by how easy it is to unwittinly scribble in some areas of life when we get distracted by the ever changing views and opinions of the world around us!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Garden of Weedin'- An Apologetic Blogger's Excuse

I have been dreadfully absent from my blog since summer began, and I have an excuse and an apology for you because of it!:) As the first warm rays of sun kissed the earth to announce spring and ready the soil for seeds a plan was birthed in my heart and mind from my home's desperate need for landscaping and my heart's equally desperate need to proclaim my love and gratitude to my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, for sustaining me in the storms of life in the most miraculous ways that have allowed me to truely experience LIFE, yes, an all-caps life in spite of tragic circumstamces! During the Easter holiday, I was reminded of an old hymn I had learned in my childhood entitled Because He Lives. Its lyrics say, " (vs. 1) God sent his son, they called him, Jesus; he came to love, heal, and forgive; he lived and died to buy my pardon, an empty grave is there to prove my Savior lives. (chorus) Because he lives, I can face tomorrow; because he lives, all fear is gone; because I know he holds the future, and life is worth the living just because he lives. (vs. 2) How sweet to hold a newborn baby, and feel the pride and joy he gives but greater still the calm assurance, this child can face uncertain days because he lives. ( repeat chorus) (vs. 3) And then one day I'll cross the river; I'll fight life's final war with pain; and then as death gives way to victory, I'll see the lights of glory and I'll know he reigns. Anyway, this hymn took on such personal meaning to me as I celebrated the Easter holiday, and I became more and more aware that the LIFE I had the privelage of living was solely in all-caps because of the relationship I have with God only through Christ Jesus because he overcame my sin's punishment (death on the cross and separation from God) by raising from the dead that first Easter morning and establishing the possibility for me to LIVE my life in the peaceful, joy-filled presence of my creator, and folks, this realization spurred me on to dedicate the flower and vegetable gardens that have been devouring all my time since the onset of spring to my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ in order to establish a means of daily remembrance of the fact I get to LIVE life courtesy of him and the joy, peace, and contentment he funnels into my life with no regard for circumstance! As a result, the Because He Lives Memorial Gardens, which require a great deal of time and effort to maintain even though it is only 75% complete was estabished on the grounds surrounding my home. My sincere attitude of joy and thanksgiving requires me to make such a huge tado because I recall a time before God's healing had touched my soul when I had thoughts like, " I wish everyone would stop making such a big deal about surviving a stroke because its really nothing to be happy about because I'd rather have died than have to live like this, " and "Its handicrapped not handicapped because this is a load of crap!" I hope that gets a WOW response out of you in comparison to the current state of my spirit once I gave God a chance to do his thing in my heart! I was near suicidal, in fact, I can remember half-heartedly considering slipping beneath the bubbley water in the tub once just to end the daily struggle I experience, but now, with God's healing touch only possible through Jesus Christ, I sincerely love my life and embrace my disability...THAT'S A MIRACLE, and I am sorry that my desire to celebrate that miracle through the hobby of gardening has kept me from my writing ministry for several weeks. Although my tribute garden is a fountain, two benches, a swing, a flag pole, several rose bushes, and various decorative finishing touches away from completion, it serves its purpose as a daily, visual reminder of the healing of mind, body and spirit for which I am eternally grateful! I hope to post some pictures as soon as I can figure out how to do it, so you can see it yourself and watch my garden's progress toward completion:) Just so you know, I am hoping to arrange a couple of areas for Bible study and reflection within the flower section of my garden, hence the need for benches and the swing. One such area is to have a fountain reminiscent of the one in a garden at the Rehabilitation Institute where I spent a month after my stroke and before my heart surgery. Near the cite for that fountain is already planted a weeping pussy-willow tree representative of the mourning that took place immediately following the tragedy. This was flanked on both sides by a plant named bleeding heart to symbolize my heart surgery. Unfortunately, I have already killed both of these:/ I hope to replace them with roses as soon as finances allow! Although not planned, how appropriate because God took my bleeding heart and replaced it with the beautiful, sweet fragrance of joy and peace! My point tonight, once again, is God is awesome, and not only desires your love and devotion, but fully deserves it!:) I face tomorrow and everyday of my disabled future with peace, hope and joy instead of fear, disappointment, and bitterness, so I sing at the top of my lungs, "[only] because he lives, I can face tomorrow! Because he lives, all fear is gone! Because I know he holds my future...my life is worth the living just because he lives!"

Friday, May 21, 2010

Who Is Douglas Adams?

Human beings,
who are almost unique in having
the ability to learn from the experience of others,
are also remarkable for their apparent
disinclination to do so. -Douglas Adams
Last weekend the sermon offered by our minister was one laiden with historical fact that I am sure to relay incorrectly, but I need to express a point from the sermon, so I will try to do so without falsely representing history, and I apologize in advance if I do. Well, evidentally, we have come to a point in the Old Testament during which God's people are divided into two separate nations, Judah to the north and Israel to the south, and over a period of time both nations failed to honor God and therefore didn't experience his blessing and support leading to miserable captivity in the end. Well, according to our pastor the northern nation was more advanced in reaching this point allowing the southern nation the opportunity to witness the results of living outside God's will as a nation, and the very good question that was raised asked, "Why did they not learn from the example of their northern neighbor and alter their path accordingly? Anyway, following this lesson striking a chord in my heart, I ran accross this quote from whoever Douglas Adams is, and I realized these two parallel teachings, if you allow them to be true for you, could nullify the usefulness of my writing altogether because, I write in hopes that someone, anyone will recognize the great treasure I have found in a relationship with God through Jesus Christ, which is available not exclusively to me, and accordingly follow my example of living life to the tune of Jesus' teachings found in the Bible! Anyway, my point in this particular blog is to say, "please see what beauty and joy exists in my life in spite of circumstance as a direct result of my committment to follow Jesus, and don't be like Israel and totally miss your opportunity to avoid the disaster that life is without him by joining me in following him today if you haven't already!" Join me in taking note of the examples from which we are intended to learn and choosing to do just that...learn and live accordingly:)

Risky Business

The longer I am a parent, the more amazed and thankful I am for my Father-in- Heaven's eternal patience, grace, and mercy! As my 3-year-old whinily explains over and over in what she considers sound logic why she just CANNOT do what I have asked of her even though, I her loving parent have never steered her wrong, she just refuses to trust my advice and obey, anyway, as this all occurs and my patience wears thin to the point of insanity, I wonder how often I have done just the same thing to God, and after experiencing how completely annoying it is, I am totally humbled and amazed by his never-tiring, perfect patience! Let's share, what has God been asking of you for days maybe even years that you have been resisting because you, in your "sound logic" just know you will get hurt or embarassed? Is it forgiving and trusting someone who has hurt you in the past? I heard on the radio yesterday that the Christian life is risky, and yes, it does seem that way when we follow God's leading for our lives blindly, but I guarentee you its riskier to go your own way because our creator loves us, and knowing everything about everything uses his wisdom concerning us and our environment to lead us to the most desirable existence possible, so when we ignore him in order to avoid risk, we actually risk missing out on the peaceful, joy-filled existence he wants to lead us to, so I challenge you to risk it all, practice blind-faith, and enjoy God's blessing of peace and joy on your life!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Ashley's Post

In a conversation with a friend yesterday concerning a hurtful situation her daughter was having to face, it came up that as parents we can't, as much as we may wish to, protect our children from everything, and as I have rolled the conversation around in my mind since it has occurred to me that, no, we can't, but be encouraged that, yes, we can equip them for everything, which brings me to writing on the topic of the Mother's Day speech I presented a few weekends ago at Alfordsville Christian Church. It begins with a scripture with which you are likely very familiar especially if you've been following along with this blog. If fact, I used it in my last post Matthew 7:24-27 in this passage Jesus is concluding a very challenging sermon including teachings that run totally contrary to our human nature, but he insists that if we want to love God with our lives we must live totally contrary to our human nature doing things like when someone has taken your tunic give him your cloak also and if someone forces you to go one mile, go two! Well, after blowing everyone's mind with these mind-shattering teachings, he says,"therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on the sand The rain came down, the streams rose and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash. Well, this is the key to equipping your child to not only survive but flourish in any tradgedy, disaster, or unfotunate event or circunstance she might encounter in the course of her life, and for the purpose of proving its validity, I must say that I am living proof that an individual whose life is firmly established on the foundation of Jesus's teaching stands in the storm no matter how strong the winds blow or how high the flood waters rise, and I give credit to my parents for helping me in the initial stages of building that foundation, so although they were unable to prevent me from suffering a stroke at age 28 only to survive with potentially life-altering disability, they were faithful to equip me for whatever life might bring my way by introducing me to Jesus and setting an example of the importance of living life by his teaching! So parents, take heart, it may be scary to send your kiddos out into the world/future not knowing what it holds for them while being completely aware that you cannot protect them from whatever challenges they will face, but you can prepare them to stand in the storms of life by introducing them to Jesus and encouraging them to put his teaching into practice in their lives.
The most effective way to teach them how to do this is by setting an example by doing it in your own life! For example, if your boss is giving you a hard time at work and you have vocalized this during the dinner conversation, before bedtime prayers pull out the scriptures and read Matthew 5:44 Unfortunately, I cannot type it out for you exactly because this page of my Bible has been torn out, so I will paraphrase, and you can check to make sure I'm correct later:) It says, " pray for those who persecute you!" After reading this scripture you could ask your child to pray with you for your boss as dificult as it may be explaining that it doesn't necessarily make sense to you, but you know that following Jesus' teachings no matter how crazy they seem is a way to tell God we love him, and since Jesus loves us so much, we know he would never give us any kind of advice other than that which is best for us and will lead to the best quality of life possible! This example could also be used more directly if your child is being bullied personally by praying together for the bully accompanied by a similar conversation. Obviously, in order to parent this way, it would be necessary to familiarize one's self with Jesus' teachings by reading and studying the Bible, which is also an excellent activity in which to include your school-aged child...I have attempted it with my 3-year-old, and although I still find it a valuable experience for her, as could be expected, we don't accomplish much:) These are both reminiscent of methods that were used to assist me in establishing my life's foundation on Jesus's teachings...thanks mom and dad! Anyway, you may not have the money to leave your child a huge inheritance or pay her way through college, etc, but you are completely capable of providing her with a spiritual inheritance that will enrich every area of her life forever and provide stability that will ensure she will stand in the storms of life. I must qualify here that, ultimately, It is a child's personal decision whether he or she will continue building her life on the foundation of Jesus' teachings and be a fully-committed follower of Jesus as she grows and lives her life, but the power of a parent's influence and example cannot be rivaled, and wouldn't it please you to see your 28 year-old daughter stand not only strong and resilient, but also joyful, peaceful, and contented in a collosal storm from which you were unable to protect her knowing that she is standing due to your faithfulness to pass on the great inheritance of your faith, and in a way, you did protect her from the GREAT CRASH Jesus spoke of at the end of 27 in the previously mentioned scripture:) Oh, and I have to add that if you know you neglected this aspect of parenting as your children grew, it is never too late to influence your children for Christ! As a mother or father of grown children, you can choose to make Jesus your Lord and Savior today, so you can effectively set an example of following Christ from now on that they will be sure to notice and be influenced by...parenting is a life-long endeavor!:) Here's to living for Jesus and equipping our children for all that life is today and will be tomorrow!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Storm Shelter

If you have been following my posts, you may have noticed that I particularly moved by Jesus's use of the figurative storm in his teaching particularly in Matthew 7:24-27 where he details the story of the wise and foolish builders and how their houses weather the storm in direct relation to the builder's choice of foundation. Last Thursday during my morning quite time I came accross another scripture in Mark 4:35-41 referencing a storm that spoke to my heart of God's greatness. That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, " Let us go over to the other side." Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was,in the boat. There were also other boats with him. A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, "Teacher, don't you care if we drown?" He got up rebuked the wind and said to the waves, "Quiet! Be Still!" Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. He said to his disciples, "Why are you afraid?" Do you still have no faith?" They were terrified and asked each other, "Who is this?" Even the wind and waves obey him!" In this situation Jesus actually responded to his follower's concern by ending the storm that was troubling them, and I agree that his ability to do this is awesome, but i want to go even further by saying that I find his ability to draw us into the stern with him to curl up next to his secure warmth while the storm rages around us is an even mightier display of his power! I learned during the fierces storm I have incountered in my life so far that my God is so GREAT that he doesn't even need to calm the storm to bring me peace. He is so powerful that he can calm my fears in the midst of calamity, and having experienced the delight of curling up on the restful cushion with him while storm rages, I wouldn't have it any other way! Yes, being that the storm still raged, I sustained damages from the beating it gave, but even in that God has healed my heart and soul to the point of acceptance. Now, that is a powerful God that can turn memories of a nightmare into sweet, sweet dreams and what could have been bitterness and disappointment into beauty and destiny:) So I quote Jesus, "Why are you afraid?" He is awesomely powerful, able, and willing to take miserable circunstances and transform them into marvelous blessings! Rest with Jesus on the cushion in the stern while the storm rages! Yes, he could quiet the storm, but how muvh more awesome it id that he can quiet our fears, anger, bitterness, and disappointment during the storm! My God is an AWESOME God!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Free To Be Me

I was driving Lili to the eye doctor yesterday when the previously posted song "Free To Be Me" by Francesca Battistelli came on te radio, and it was love at first sound because for as long as I can remember I have depended on God to free me from the bonds of peer and societal pressure as I moved through this life as an awkward and imperfect girl/young lady/woman. I can still remember the encouraging self-talk speeches I gave myself before incidences of public speaking, or walking through the hallways with a heinous zit on my face,"God loves you just the way you are, and he's the only one that matters!" This empowering, over-coming statement is true for all of us. As simplistic as this thought is my belief in it is the foundation from which I face each day as a awkward, imperfect, and noticably disabled 30- year-old woman today. I won't deny that there are unfortunate moments when I get a glimpse of myself through the lens most the world likely uses to view me, and I feel incapable and useless, but in these moments God picks me up, places me on his shoulders, and reminds me that he loves and values me just the way I am, and through him I have a productive future. How can I but love a God like that!? 2 Corinthians 4:7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard-pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down , but not destroyed. We are weak vessels like jars of clay that contain the treasure of Jesus, and our weaknesses makes us more desirable to use in God's eyes because when we are able to arise victorious from the ashes of life in our weakened state, everyone who witnesses it has to know it was from no power of our own, so they are forced to question then,"Who?" This line of thought opens the door for God to say, "Me," and just like that our weakness proves useful for the creator of the universe. If you are weak today, don't view yourself from the world's perspective, but rather peek through the hopeful and clear lens of God into the productive and purposeful future he wants to give you as you walk along side him borrowing his strength, and as you walk hold your head high and claim those dents! They are a beautiful, interesting, and unique part of you..the you God adores:) Francesca Battistelli refers to them as dents in her fender, but I preder storm damage in my case, since much of my weakness is damage sustained in the storms of my life, but whatever we call them, let's see our weaknesses through God's eyes as useful attributes rather than deficiencies! The most encouraging words I heard on a down day during my previously mentioned storm were, "Don't consider your disability a subtraction from who you were, but rather an addition to who you are,"- Cheryl Smith, OT (I love you, Cheryl!) so if you are weakened by physical or emotional disability or just character flaws, see your weaknesses for what they really are attributes that ADD to the person you are if you team up with God in this life and allow his strength to work through you:)

Francesca Battistelli - Free To Be Me

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Don't Be A Hater

Despite the influence of my union-minded father, I have never been too ingrossed by politics. Mostly political talk bores and irritates me much like the Obama-smear-campaign I have witnessed taking place bit-by-bit on facebook, not that he's attempting to smear anyone, but he's getting smeared and what irritates me is that in some haphazard, ridiculous manner its being done in the name of Christ. Evidentally, some supposed Christ-followers are so inscensed over Obama's stance on certain moral and ethical issues that they feel the need to twist and contort half truths into total untruths in an attempt to defame our current president. An anti-Obama post that was being passed around last week alerted me to this unfortunate political measure. It stated that Obama had canceled the National Day of Prayer and expressed great displeasure that Obama was supposedly trampling on the religious rights of Christians in this country. I was tempted to repost it because as a lover of Christ myself, the wording and accusations raised my hackles a little, but something caused me to pause and question the validity of the statement, so off to www.snopes.com I did go to find that the entire claim was bogus. In fact, any truth that existed in the words of the posts were twisted bits and pieces of misunderstood and unrelated non-events. Call me naieve, but the idea that a person would tell complete lies to anger the public against another human-being dumbfounded me, and the underlying tone that this individual was angry because Obama had offended her Christianity frustrated me because I truely love Christ, and do not desire for him to be midrepresented in such a way because down the road when an unbeliever realizes what has happened, he will fault Christ as not being who he said he was when it would never have been Jesus' desire to lie about or to disrespect the President of the United States in such a way whether he supported his views or not. I'm not attempting to sway anyone to become an Obama supporter because as I earlier stated, I don't do politics and know very little of what he intends to accomplish as President, but I do hope to encourage my Christian brothers and sisters to refrain from being haters because that poorly represents Christ to the public! If you doubt my doctrine here, check out these scriptures: Romans 13: 1-2,6-7 Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority exept that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgement on themselves. This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God's servants, who give their full time to governing. Give everyone what you owe him: if you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor. So, what, then, are we to do when we disagree with our governing leaders? This, I find beautiful being that all this hulabaloo was over the National Day of Prayer, read Matthew 5:44 But I [Jesus] tell you: love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. I expect to see and hear all my fellow lovers and followers of Jesus Christ respecting, honoring, and praying for Barack Obama on the very uncanceled National day of prayer(May 6th).

I hope this does not come off too snarky because such an attitude doesn't honor God either. We are all, most definitely, including me susceptible to getting caught up in waves of our humanity. What I mean by that is that it is an entirely normal human reaction to get into a fighting stance when you feel something you love and cherish is being threatened, and having a leader in place who does not necessarily share our moral and ethical views seems to be such a situation, but if we truely want to honor and love God with our lives, we often must fight against those waves of humanity with the strength that Christ provides in order to behave in obedience and respect to God's word.

Join me in showing the world who Christ really is by living out as well as speaking out the word of God!:)

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

God Didn't Ferberize Me!

I have mentioned many times that God is my author/teacher/parent hero because he is the ultimate clinician in each of these practices as well as every other. In this post I will be focusing on God as a parent. Just because of who he is I know he is the epitome of perfection in parenting, so from the very beginning of my parenting experience, I have paused in perplexing moments and asked myself, "How does God parent me in similar instances?"Because whether we want to admit it or not there is nothing our children can do that isn't something for which a "similar instance" for comparison doesn't exist;) Yes, I am admitting that at times I behave as if I am no more spiritually mature than a 3-year-old, so my experience with God's handling of my behavior becomes a reference point as I raise my daughter on many occassions. One such occassion leads me to explain to you why my ever-growing 3-year-old daughter shares a bed with her parents in spite of the blatant disapproval of her pediatrician and many others. Lili slept in her crib long past the whole SIDS risk had been outgrown, but at 10 months after just that many nights of getting up 15-20 times a night to nurse her back to sleep, I decided I wanted to get some rest, so I called up Dr. Bob, Lili's very experienced and highly recommended pediatrician to inquire how I should go about addressing the issue at which time I was given a thourough explanation of the Ferber Method. A method I had refused to even consider in the past but was ready to try in the present, but after enduring the motherly turmoil of hearing her baby cry and not being able to respond for a day and a half, I threw in the towel admitting that I could already see it working but denying sleep was worth the cost of training my child like a dog that she couldn't trust me to come when she called, so she might as well shut-up and go back to sleep! This brought me to one of those earlier mentioned moments of perplextion, and I got to thinking that God had never done that to me, so I followed my heart, ran to my child the next time she cried out to me apologizing for being such a dim-wit of a momma, and carried her to a place of love and comfort until the night had passed...just like my Heavenly Daddy does for me when I cry out to him! Ever since my Lili Rose has been welcome to rest in that place until the day she chooses to sleep in her own bed...even if it takes a little bribery...I slept with my parents until the 2nd grade according to my baby book, and I clearly remember my father offering me $1 for every night I made it in my own bed. I was ready at that point, so the offer was all it took to tearlessly break me of what many consider a bad habit...as if looking to your parents for comfort and security should ever be considered a bad habit! I want to clarify that I am not trying to make anyone who has successfully or unsuccessfully used the Ferber Method feel like a bad parent. We do the best we can with what we've got, and this is simply a description of what that looked like in a specific scenario for me, and once again, we lack the perfection that God possesses, so even if we were to look to his example in every situation, we would be sure to fail in one way or another...the great thing is our inperfection is known and supplied for by him and any scars we leave in our children's hearts by our mistakes, he can heal! Another disclaimer is required here....I'm soooo not saying to parent willy-nilly since God is able to clean up your mess!...Just do your best and don't stress too much when you mess up because he's got your back, and if your not sure he does, tell him you want a relationship with him through the forgiveness Jesus (who you believe in and trust) offered you by paying the punishment for your sins on the cross, and start living with Jesus as the Lord of your life right now...for instructions on how to go about that, read the Bible;) By the way, Jesus set a Biblical example of following such a decision with a swim better known as baptism by emersion, so CANON BALL! Love you all and sweet dreams, say your prayers, and don't let the bed bugs bite...night-night;)

Monday, March 22, 2010

David vs. Goliath

For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him. 2 Chronicles 16:19

My most recent studies as I have been writing the curriculum for my churches youth have been about a young shepard boy named David, the least of his brothers, who was annointed to be the king of Israel after Saul had lost the kingdom in conjunction with losing sight of God. God is clear that he chose David singularly because of the condition of his heart. "The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at outward apppearance, but the Lord looks at the heart." 1 Samuel 16:7 Later, David steps up with gynormous faith to face a giant named Goliath who no one else in the Israelite army had dared to face including the king and his older, more physically impressive brothers. I'm thinking this is a show of the "heart" that God had already seen and annointed king when in 1 Samuel 17: 45 David greets Goliath by saying, "you come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied..." Lili and I play this game where I pretend that my shadow is eating hers up because it is so much bigger than hers that when I stand in her path my shadow consumes hers, and I think of this when I consider what it might have been like for this young boy to approach the huge, giant of a man in the valley between the two camps, of course, I don't know whether the sun was shining that day, but if it were, I am quite confident that Goliath's shadow similarly consumed David's shadow, and even though he approached without a shred of armor and only a sling accompanied by a few stones as protection David was confident not in himself but in God's power and faithfulness to the point of proclaiming "....All these gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord's and he will give all of you (the Philistine army) into our hands." after saying this David didn't stand reluctantly quaking waiting to be smashed instead he ran at Goliath with confidence. This moves me especially in light of the verse from 2 Chronicles and the revelation in 1 Samuel that God chose David based on the condition of his heart, my guess is it was "fully committed" being that God took this boy considered to be the runt of his litter and strengthened him to the point of being victorious over a giant that grown-men who were trained for battle feared! The verse from 2 Chronicles in conjunction with this story also teaches me that God is still searching the earth for hearts that are fully-committed to him to bring down giants in current and future spiritual battles for his people. If God calls you to such a task, be confident as David was because God still has the back of those who are fully-committed to him!:)

Two other details from this familiar children's Bible story stood out to me fresh and new as I listened to it being taught to the 3rd-5th graders this past Sunday. First, David refused to wear the armor that Saul offered him before he went into battle...this led my mind to consider all the armor we wear each day in an attempt to protect ourselves on an emotional level as we face the world...leave it behind today because you don't need it if you're heart is fully-committed to God because he's got you covered! Secondly, even David in all his faith didn't know to what awesome and abundant extent God was going to provide for and protect him, I mean, the lad gathered up 5, smooth stones when he only needed 1 with God's backing to take down the giant! God's abundance is overlooked in so many ways, for instance, each of you have probably never stopped to thank God for giving you two hands, legs, arms, etc...along with tons of unused, back-up brain cells when you really could accomplish nearly all you need to accomplish with much less. Daily, I am reminded of how abundantly God blesses us when I face the day successfully with little more than half of the physical tools and abilities with which God originally gave me, and I am appalled that it never occurred to me before that all that I am missing now was a gift of abundance over and above what I truly needed to live happily and heathily in this world, so I wonder for what else I am failing to thank my generous creator, but, now, I thank him daily that he provides so abundantly that I can get by with so much less than that which I came prepared, and I know that just like David only needed one of the many stones he gathered to take down the giant that I will continue to experience victory with God's support with only one properly functioning side of my body/brain! Like David, I want to face down the giants in my life whether they are so big they swallow my shadow or not, confidently saying, "I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty,(here I papaphrase) and I'm going to beat your patoot because this battle already belongs to the Lord!" Join me as you fight your daily battles in fully-committed confidence:)

Major application points....honestly examine your heart...Are you fully committed to God? If not, what does that mean in light of these Biblical truths? If so, how does knowing God has your back change your approach to your daily battles? If not, why not...what's holding you back from total committment to God?

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Healed!?

My Lili near to broke my heart on the drive home tonight when she said dejectedly," Its taking a long time for maw-muh's arm to heal," and almost as if it were the harmony to her melody these words whispered through my mind completing her thought, "and I prayed so hard and so much asking Jesus to heal it!" My heart broke at her unspoken disappointment, and I assured her as best I could in that moment that mommy trusted Jesus to answer her prayers in whatever way he saw fit whether it be total physical healing, or simply this plenty miraculous heart-healing he has already accomplished in my life:) I need to tell my girl that Abraham never saw God's promises realized in his physical life as I may never see the use of my stroke-affected arm in this life, but that wasn't because God didn't keep his promises to Abraham, I mean, generations and generations later, we can look at the Biblical texts and see how they are realized in our own lives and see that every promise God made he kept, and just as Abraham witnessed the fulfillment of God's promises on the other side of heaven so I might have to wait anxiously to see the answering of my sweet child's prayers when I meet Jesus face-to-face. In fact, I've already been promised a new body that can run and skip and flail about enthusiastically as I once did, and after Abraham's example, I will wait faithfully knowing that my God is able and trusyworthy, for that day if that is how God writes my story! I mean, really, how could I ask for more than what he's already done for me, so I'm a little gimpy these days. I love him so much and am so greatful for who he is to me that he can take it all if that's what it takes for him to accomplish his will in my life! What I need you to know is that devotion you hear in my words stems from his awesomeness...His awesomeness inspires that level of devotion when realized in even a fragment of its totallity! I write these blogs so that you might recognize this awesomeness on a personal level in your own life because peeps it isn't just for me. The God that Rocks my world wants to rock yours too;) Pray with me that Lili will recognize the healing of my heart as just as relevant, useful, and valuable as the further healing of my body!

Monday, March 15, 2010

FINISH STRONG!

While at Chick-Fil-A today Lili and I met three little boys named Jeremiah, Benjamin, and Solomon. The last whose name reminded me of some scripture God called to my attention last week during some of my study and prayer time. I was just thumbing through the Old Testament reading over some scriptures I had highlighted in the past when I noticed a startling difference between two seperate verses describing different phases of King Solomon's walk with God, and I became very disturbed, almost haunted by what the verses communicated. Let's look first at 1 Kings 7:41-43 As for the foreigner who does not belong to your people Israel but has come to a distant land because of your name-for men will hear of your great name and your mighty hand and your outstretched arm-when he comes and prays toward this temple, then hear from heaven, your dwelling place, and do whatever the foreigner asks of you, so that all the people's of the earth may know your name and fear you, as do your own people Israel and may know that this house I have built bears your name. In these words of Solomon's I hear a heart for lost people and a whole-hearted dedication to the God of Israel for whom he had erected an ornate temple in obedience to the detailed specifications laid out in earlier chapters of 1 kings which he had received. His obedience as obedience always does speaks of a deep faith born most likely of his father, David's example, but later in Solomon's life we , sadly, see a completely different portrait of the same man. 1 Kings 11 1-3 &6, 11 King Solomon, however, loved many foreign women...They were from nations about which the Lord had told the Israelites,"You must not intermarry with them, because they will surely turn your hearts after their gods. Nevertheless, Solomon held fast to them in love....and his wives led him astray....So Solomon did evil in the eyes of the Lord. he did not follow the Lord completely......So the Lord said to Solomon,"Since this is your attitude and you have not kept my covenant and my decrees, which I commanded you, I will most certainly tear the kingdom away from you and give it to your subordinates. Whew, I almost feel sorry for him, I mean, he started out so strong in his faith, but because he refused to completely submit to the Lord, he lost his blessing:( It seems the Lord doesn't give a holy crap how grand Solomon's early gesture of faith was. He was only concerned with the current attitude of Solomon's heart, and once again, no matter how much we hate it, the attitude God desires from our hearts is total and complete submission...partial doesn't cut it! He wants us to obey even when its scary or uncomfortable and definitely when we don't want to because obedience in such areas communicates something even greater than submission...love and trust, so personally, what this spoke to me was, Cori, don't rest your faith and your relationship with God on past faithfulness, but rather be TOTALLY faithful with what God has given you NOW! My temple experience with God otherwise known as my grand gesture of faith was when I quit my job givong up its financial security to pursue whatever God called me to which happpened to be writing a book that shared my spiritual testimony up to that point. I have to admit that after having my book published and settling into life serving in the church youth ministry I got comfortable with the idea that I HAD BEEN FAITHFUL, but these scriptures clearly tell us that God isn't concerned with what I WAS...He wants faithfulness in the HERE AND NOW, and who says we can only build one temple in our lifetime? Through this blog, I hope to be establishing the foundations for the second structure in my life that bears Jesus' name! Now, I'm by no means, intending to communicate that for a gesture to be grand it must seem big to anyone outside the intimate circle that is you and God. You and God know what is grand in terms of your life experiences and talents. It may simply be making amends with a long time grudge or submitting to his will in an area of your life in which you have obstinately insisted on your way to your own detriment for years, or it may be submitting to his call to serve him in spite of your insecurities that have encouraged you to resist him in the past. Basically, what he is saying to us through this scripture is FINISH STRONG! Don't, like Solomon, start out your relationship with him all ablaze with fire and passion using your life to build grand structures that attract others to God by bearing his name only to die out to barely an ember of partial committment in the later days of your walk because no matter how grand your early gestures of love and committment may have been only the attitude of your heart in the here and now ensure God's blessing on your life. No matter what you've done in the past, if you refuse to submit in the present, don't be surprised if one day God justly tears the kingdom away from you. This brings to mind,Phillipians 3:12 Not that I have attained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. I love this verse because it speaks of the effort necessary to grow and maintain a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Not to say that its something we can do that saves us because scripture is very clear that it is only by the grace of God that we are saved, but I do believe scripture clearly communicates a measure of active involvement and willful action is needed on our part to mature beyond infancy as children of God, and if a child is not properly nourished, we know he/she becomes weak to the point of death, so how can this not apply to our souls if we knowingly cut ourselves off from our source of spiritual nourishment by disobedience and half-hearted committment. Listen, once again, to Paul in Acts 20:24 However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me-the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace. Let's make this same committment with Paul to FINISH STRONG accomplishing that or those tasks for which God created us and called us to himself. Solomon got lazy resting on his past faithfulness and failed to remain faithful to the end of the race. He didn't continue to press on in service and committment to the Lord and his lacksidasical, half-hearted attitude left him vulnerable to temptation, and he fell away from God after a strong start....don't let your story mirror his!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Where's My Fruit Salad!?

Now, this isn't the fruit salad sung about by the famous chidren's group The Wiggles in their catchy tune, Yummy, Yummy. The fruit salad they make has nothing on the fruit salad spoken of in Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. This is the fruit or product that is supposed to be present in the life of any and every individual who truely lives a life submitted to God as fully committed follower of Christ Jesus and his teachings. I can remember a time in my walk with Christ when this scripture puzzled me because I had been baptized, but I knew that in truth I was not producing these fruits that were supposed to be evidences of the Spirit of God at work in my life. In contrast, now, I overflow with what I consider a very yummy, yummy fruit salad in reference to the scripture in Psalm 34:8 that encourages us to Taste and see that the Lord is good. This concept that life in conjunction with God is irresistably scrumptious is repeated in 1 Peter 2:2-3 Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good. So, the question that needs answering is what's changed in my life from then to now? The solution to this puzzle is hidden in plain sight in the stories of Samson in Judges and Saul in 1 Samuel of the Old Testament. Check out Judges 14:6 The Spirit of the Lord was upon him in power, so that he tore the lion apart with his bare hands as he might have torn a young goat(or in terms to which I can relate a wet piece of paper). Compare the strength displayed in Samson when he was fully submitted and obedient to God to later in his life when he had allowed himself to become distracted to the point of disobedience Judges 16:20 Then she called,"Samson,the Philestines are upon you!" He awoke from his sleep and thought, "I'll go out as before and shake myself free." But he did not know that the Lord had left him. Do you see how Samson's life bore the products of a relationship with God (in his case, physical strength) as long as he was fully-committed to obedience, but when he allowed an area of his life (His physical attraction to a pagan woman.) to fall out of submission to God's will, his life became barren, producing no fruit. One can see a very similar example recorded from the life of Saul in chapter 13 0f Judges. God appoints Saul as king over Israel expressing his pleasure with Saul by blessing his life until Saul chooses the path of partial-obedience, which we find to be disobedience in God's eyes when in verse 14 Samuel reveals a different kind of fruit, the fruit of disobedience, which happens to be the removal of said blessing" But now your kingdom will not endure; the Lord has sought out a man after his own heart and appointed him leader of his people, because you have not kept the Lord's command." Just in case it isn't as clear as I think it is, I'll clarify that the difference in my life now from when I wasn't experiencing the fullness of my relationship with God is what I discovered after close and honest reflection of my life. Areas existed in my life, in the past, in which I was not fully-obedient/submitted to God's will for me. It took months of prayer and digging into God's word to discover the hidden committment issues to which I ignorantly clung that robbed me of the pleasure of enjoying the delectable fruit salad with which God desired to nourish me. Upon discovering these areas and realizing how they were limiting my ability to experience all the beauties of knowing Christ, with God's guidance and assistance I died to myself, once again (and have had to do daily since), and submitted to God's plan and desires trusting fully that his power, provision, and wisdom were all I needed in life, and talk about abubdant fruit. I've near to drowned in the stuff ever since, so if after some honest introspection you identify a fruit shortage in your life akin to spiritual scurvy, I challenge you to investigate and discover what areas of your life you still foolishly cling to not believing God is strong enough or wise enough to safely guide you, and pry your fingers loose of those areas with the help of a friend or family member if necessary, and drop it at God's feet. I promise it will be terrifying at first because you have been hanging on under the dillusion that doing things your way is the only safe way, but I guarentee you that if it makes you feel vulnerable, you are on the right path. The one that leads to abundant fruit salad, yummy, yummy:) If you want more details about the specific areas I needed to submit to God in full-obedience before getting a taste of God's fruit in my own life, check out my book, This Is My Story...Its all in there in more detail than I care to write here! If as you read this, you think," that's not me," at least take time to inventory your fruit because a shortage is a guarentee that you're holding something back, and there is more abundant life waiting to be had by you, so please, partake in the fruit feast God has prepared for you! Don't deny yourself the mouth-watering delacacies of peace, joy, and love!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

1-2--3 Victory!

My last post centered around the fact I had recently dropped my Zoloft in favor of eliminating a potential flaw in my witness for Christ, but turns out, I'm NUTS without my daily 100mg, so much to my husband and Lili's relief I am once again properly medicated! I have to qualify that I was not sad or depressed and my joy was in no way compromised off my anti-depressant, although, I was crying tears of nearly every emotion one can list while giggling uncontrolably, so I am quite pleased to be experiencing the normalizing effect of my nightly tablet these days! No joke, last Sunday the sermon brought home God's faithfulness to me as if I were living it in that moment, and my joy was so pure and complete that, as they say, "my cup runneth over" along with my eyes and nose to the extent that I am quite confident that the woman behind me who offered to pray for me along with my husband must have been convinced that I was being convicted of some terrible secret sin which amused me and brought on rolls of loud sob-like guffaws of laughter,mind you, all right in the middle of church service. It wasn't long after this event that I decided to go back on my meds as soon as possible! I was hoping to share the video of that sermon along with this blog post but was unable to figure out how to, so if you would like to view it, go to crossroadschristian.com where it can be viewed under Chapter 7 of THE STORY sermon series.
Since I cannot share the video as I had hoped, I will instead share the excerpts that touched my heart along with a few tidbits that impressed me as I wrote, prepared and taught the accompanying upper elementary lesson covering the same content. Our minister drew three aspects of divine warfare that can still be effectively utilized in our lives today as we face spiritual battles of all kinds from the story of the Israelites entering the promised land (1) being a people (or a person) of the word, (2) being a people(or a person) of prayer, and (3) being a people (or a person) who identifies with God formerly through circumcision but currently through baptism. Why did this move me so? Well, because my life is a testament to the absolute truth held in these bits of wisdom from the Bible, and that just spoke to my heart of God's complete and total awesomeness! I've spent the greater part of my adult life clearly identified with God through Jesus Christ in baptism and deeply entrenched in the word allowing God to go before me in my life decisions through prayer just as the Israelites carried the Ark of the Covenant before their procession, and being the same today as he was then, never-changing, my God, the God of the Isaaelites, the one true God has led me into victory despite what should have been defeating odds just like he did for the Israelites. Since I'm on my Zoloft tonight, I can write this tear-free although my heart still swells with overwhelming love for my God and King! What I want you to know from the top of your head to the tip of your big toe is that God SO wants to lead you in victory also! I'm nothing special nor have I been good enough to deserve it or anything else (neither were the Israelites)....God just loves us and wants to do this for us if we'll allow him to, so if you are feeling defeated in life, claim victory through Jesus with the three aspects of divine warfare I mentioned earlier:) One other tidbit that impacted me from this story was a detail that was emphasized in the upper elementary large group lessom for which I can take no credit. Evidentally, the Israelites had to cross a river to enter Canaan, and once afain God parted the waters for them to walk across on dry land. I guess the Israelites gathered stones from the dry river bed before the water returned to its place and made a monument of remembrance with them....I have such a monument on the bathroom counter between the two sinks sit a faith plaque my family physician gave me along with a few Willow tree angel figurines each with a special meaning, and a clinging cross all which were given to me when God was helping me cross safely through a rough patch in my life on the road to victory. Eaxh item is a stone I gathered and now display to remind me each day of how I have arrived on the opposite side of that tradgedy victorious....I share this because I believe remembrance is key to growth iin our relationship with God. I fear that if we fail to actively remember that instead of moving forward, we will slip back.