Thursday, December 25, 2008

The Amazing Christmas Conspiracy

Every Christmas or birthday or anniversary, it has been Bruce’s and my custom to find a “special” gift for each other that reflects not only that we love each other but also that we know each other – where we are in this journey in life together and as individuals. Some years have been better than others at accomplishing this and sometimes it is me that gets it just right and sometimes it is Bruce.

This year Bruce totally got it right!

Some background:
A couple of years ago I had the privilege of attending the “Passion for Jesus” Conference IHOP (International House of Prayer) in Kansas City, MO. To make a long story short – it changed my life! I so clearly heard from God during that conference. I guess you could say it was my “burning bush” experience.

Understanding my call to be an intercessor brought with it the desire to connect to others with the same mind and heart. Part of me would love to be an intercessory missionary at IHOP- spending hours in the prayer room, learning from some truly Godly men and women, serving in the community together with others who are passionate in their pursuit of Jesus. But right now, I know that I am where I need to be and I am content with that.

I do, however, spend time “in the prayer room” through web-streaming, watch as much of the conferences as possible, listen to mp3’s of some great teachings and read blogs and follow twitters of some of my favorite IHOP folks. It makes me feel connected to a larger global community.

One of my favorite blogger/ twitterer/teacher/authors is Randy Bohlender. Some of his twitters have caused a lot of laughter in our home and, in a way, we have “adopted” their family into our own. Their family newsletter graces our refrigerator and we pray for them.

So what does all of this have to do with Christmas and Bruce’s amazing present?

A couple of weeks ago Bruce decided to surprise me by getting a book by one of my favorite authors on prayer Bob Sorge, shipping it to Randy to have him write a note in. The logistics he went through to arrange this were amazing! And capping off the effort was a 106 mile round trip excursion on Christmas eve to his office (he was off work) to pick it up because he didn’t want it showing up at home with the return address giving away the surprise.

While I am truly touched and amused by the conspiratorial participation of the Bohlenders in this truly remarkable Christmas gift, especially in the midst of the move to “the Compound” in all the nasty weather…I am more impressed, actually, I am totally speechless when I realize the love that is behind all of Bruce’s efforts.

For our entire marriage,Bruce has been an amazing example of the unconditional love of God. I have learned more about God’s love from his example than from every teacher, preacher and author I have ever read or heard – combined. And what is really remarkable is that he doesn’t realize how much God uses him in my life and in the lives of others.

What an amazing Christmas object lesson!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Thoughts weighing on me tonight

Just thinking some stuff:

1 - Discernment's main purpose is to help us know how to pray for one another... I get this but when do you know when that prompting moves from one for prayer to one to take action?

2 - If we (as sheep) know our shepherd's voice (Jesus), why is it so easy to be deceived by other voices, even our own flesh?

3 - Are we as women the main problem with the lack of Godly male leadership in the home in America? Have we emasculated men to the point where they are no longer fit to lead? Have we ignored the gender issues in this country to an extent that we don't realize the damage that has been done? Is this part of the root issue in today's family? If any of the answers to these gender questions are yes, what do we, as women need to do to bring restoration?

4 - Is it EVER right to defend one's self? I mean really... Jesus never did and God says that vengeance is His and that we should rejoice when we are falsely accused and a whole lot of other things like that.... is it ever right?
5 - why is it so hard for me to keep from questioning the very gifts God has given me to use in His service?

Stay tuned... that's at least 4 blogs worth of stuff. These are the questions I am asking God. I'll let you know what I hear and read.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Someone has entirely too much time on thier hands!

This is simply amazing!  I got this in an email and had to repost! Just to think about the engineering that made this possible is totally jazzing the geek in me! :)

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


I LOVE the fact that we take the time as a nation each year to be thankful, at least for one day.  Even in these uncertain times, there is still so much that we have to be thankful for as a nation.  We still have our freedom to worship God, freedom to assemble, freedom to speak our minds... And even in this economic downturn, we are still economically blessed far beyond the wildest dreams of most of the world. God has blessed America greatly and for that I am grateful! My prayer for the nation is that we will open our eyes and see how blessed we are and turn our hearts towards the One who blesses!

On a personal level, this has been a year of great growth - which means a year of great difficulty.  I am so grateful to God for every struggle, every heartache, every pain, every trial.  It is through these difficulties that I am learning to go deeper and draw closer to Jesus.  If that is what it takes, then I am truly grateful for it all!  I am also grateful for the many blessings God has chosen to give me: for my family, for my church family, for the opportunities He has given me to share the hope that I have in my heart because of Jesus - every day on the air and through worship at church.  I am so amazed by and grateful for the life God has given me.  Saying thanks just doesn't seem to cover it!  How can I respond but to worship God with all that I am?!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Our Assignment for this Week

On Sunday, Pastor Wes asked us to answer a question, well.... actually finish a sentence in Home Groups this week.  In relating the story of Jacob wrestling with God (Genesis 32), Pastor Wes said that one of the steps we needed to take was to name what and who we are; to finish this sentence: I am a(an)________________.  For Jacob, his name meant Deceiver.  When God asked him his name, He was looking for a confession of who Jacob was.  God was looking for Jacob to get real with himself and with God.

As we started into the discussion of this last night in our Home Group, there was a part of me that was struggling with the idea of focussing on the negative.  At least that is what it felt like.  I understand the 4 steps that Pastor Wes was talking about and have lived them on different levels as I have grown in Christ throughout my life.  The four steps being: 1- Admit that the struggle is with God, 2 - Refuse to let go, 3- Admit that you are the problem and 4 - Get a new identity. I so desperately want to be walking by faith in the calling God has placed on me (the new identity) that the idea of looking at the sin that is in me seemed like a step backwards.  The reality is that those thoughts were just another deception to keep me from looking at the sin in my life!

As we started praying about taking these steps, the confessions came. One by one the areas of neglect and rebellion were named and a release came - not just for me but for others as well.

Then I read this blog this morning by John Piper.  I really want to encourage you to check it out. John Piper is one of my favorite bloggers! God is so amazing that He confirms His word to us so faithfully.  To see that God is dealing with the same issues with someone else that I have never met in a different part of the country at the same time is really encouaging to me.

Thank You, Father, for your faithfulness!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Politically Correct Red Riding Hood

-by Bryan Hupperts.

There once was a young person named Little Red Riding Hood who lived on the edge of a large forest full of endangered owls and rare plants that would probably provide a cure for cancer if only someone took the time to study them. 

Red Riding Hood lived with a nurture giver whom she sometimes referred to as "mother", although she didn't mean to imply by this term that she would have thought less of the person if a close biological link did not in fact exist. Nor did she intend to denigrate the equal value of nontraditional households, although she was sorry if this was the impression conveyed. 

One day her mother asked her to take a basket of organically grown fruit and mineral water to her grandmother's house. "But mother, won't this be stealing work from the unionized people who have struggled for years to earn the right to carry all packages between various people in the woods?" Red Riding Hood's mother assured her that she had called the union boss and received a special compassionate mission exemption form. 

"But mother, aren't you oppressing me by ordering me to do this?" 
Red Riding Hood's mother pointed out that it was impossible for womyn to oppress each other, since all womyn were equally oppressed until all womyn were free. 

"But mother, then shouldn't you have my brother carry the basket, since he's an oppressor, and should learn what it's like to be oppressed?" And Red Riding Hood's mother explained that her brother was attending a special rally for animal rights, and besides, this wasn't stereotypical womyn's work, but an empowering deed that would help engender a feeling of community. 

"But won't I be oppressing Grandma, by implying that she's sick and hence unable to independently further her own selfhood?" But Red Riding Hood's mother explained that her grandmother wasn't actually sick or incapacitated or mentally handicapped in any way, although that was not to imply that any of these conditions were inferior to what some people called "health". 

Thus Red Riding Hood felt that she could get behind the idea of delivering the basket to her grandmother, and so she set off. 

Many people believed that the forest was a foreboding and dangerous place, but Red Riding Hood knew that this was an irrational fear based on cultural paradigms instilled by a patriarchal society that regarded the natural world as an exploitable resource, and hence believed that natural predators were in fact intolerable competitors. Other people avoided the woods for fear of thieves and deviants, but Red Riding Hood felt that in a truly classless society all marginalized peoples would be able to "come out" of the woods and be accepted as valid lifestyle role models. 

On her way to Grandma's house, Red Riding Hood passed a woodchopper, and wandered off the path, in order to examine some flowers. She was startled to find herself standing before a Wolf, who asked her what was in her basket. Red Riding Hood's teacher had warned her never to talk to strangers, but she was confident in taking control of her own budding sexuality, and chose to dialogue with the Wolf. 

She replied, "I am taking my Grandmother some healthful snacks in a gesture of solidarity." 

The Wolf said, "You know, my dear, it isn't safe for a little girl to walk through these woods alone." 

Red Riding Hood said, "I find your sexist remark offensive in the extreme, but I will ignore it because of your traditional status as an outcast from society, the stress of which has caused you to develop an alternative and yet entirely valid world view. Now, if you'll excuse me, I would prefer to be on my way." 

Red Riding Hood returned to the main path, and proceeded towards her Grandmother's house. But because his status outside society had freed him from slavish adherence to linear, Western- style thought, the Wolf knew of a quicker route to Grandma's house. 

He burst into the house and ate Grandma, a course of action affirmative of his nature as a predator. Then, unhampered by rigid, traditionalist gender role notions, he put on Grandma's nightclothes, crawled under the bedclothes, and awaited developments. 

Red Riding Hood entered the cottage and said, "Grandma, I have brought you some cruelty free snacks to salute you in your role of wise and nurturing matriarch."

The Wolf said softly "Come closer, child, so that I might see you." 

Red Riding Hood said, "Grandma, what big eyes you have!" 

"You forget that I am optically challenged." 

"And Grandma, what an enormous, what a fine nose you have." 

"Naturally, I could have had it fixed to help my acting career, but I didn't give in to such societal pressures, my child." 

"And Grandma, what very big, sharp teeth you have!" 

The Wolf could not take any more of these specist slurs, and, in a reaction appropriate for his accustomed milieu, he leaped out of bed, grabbed Little Red Riding Hood, and opened his jaws so wide that she could see her poor Grandmother cowering in his belly. 

"Aren't you forgetting something?" Red Riding Hood bravely shouted. "You must request my permission before proceeding to a new level of intimacy!" The Wolf was so startled by this statement that he loosened his grasp on her. 

At the same time, the woodchopper burst into the cottage, brandishing an ax. 

"Hands off!" cried the woodchopper. 

"And what do you think you're doing?" cried Little Red Riding Hood. 
"If I let you help me now, I would be expressing a lack of confidence in my own abilities, which would lead to poor self esteem and lower achievement scores on college entrance exams." 

"Last chance, sister! Get your hands off that endangered species! 
This is an FBI sting!" screamed the woodchopper, and when Little Red Riding Hood nonetheless made a sudden motion, he sliced off her head. 

"Thank goodness you got here in time," said the Wolf. "The brat and her grandmother lured me in here. I thought I was a goner." 

"No, I think I'm the real victim, here," said the woodchopper. "I've been dealing with my anger ever since I saw her picking those protected flowers earlier. And now I'm going to have such a trauma. 
Do you have any aspirin?" 

"Sure," said the Wolf. 


"I feel your pain," said the Wolf, and he patted the woodchopper on his firm, well padded back, gave a little belch, and said "Do you have any Maalox?" 

(c) Bryan Hupperts -

Friday, November 7, 2008

On the elections and the future of America

On Wednesday, I publicly congratulated Sen. Barack Obama on becoming the president elect of the United States of America.  This is not an endorsement of President-elect Obama's views, opinions or record in the Senate.  It is simply an acknowledgement of excellent strategy and tactics in one of the most vigorous campaigns I have seen! And also, trying to see the positive in a situation that I cannot change. 

This is an historic time for our country and one that we can find hope in, for one big reason, regardless of who you voted for:  We have, as a country, taken a huge step toward resolving the racial issues that have plagued our nation for centuries.  This is a good thing. This is a defining moment in our history!  And that one part of the definition, I can support and be proud of!

Do I have concerns over the future of the USA?  yes.  Do I fear the future? no.  Pres-elect Obama does not dictate our futures as individuals or even as a nation!  God is still sovereign and my hope lies in that fact. 

I have seen and heard so much about the judgement of God coming to America, now, like this is a new thing!  Have people had their eyes closed for 40 years?  We have been experiencing His judgement for a while.  Will it get worse?  Maybe.  But I believe in a God of mercy whose heart can be swayed by the prayers of His people.  I prayed, I voted and now I will pray some more.  

I believe that God's heart breaks for the deaths of the unborn. And that He greives with every mother and father who loses a child in the war on terrorism.  There are many things that we, as a nation, have allowed that are unholy; many things that we have perverted to placate the flesh and enemy alike.  But we will NEVER solve ANY of these issues with legislation (although I will still vote, lobby and pray pro-life every chance I get!).  What will change America is a radical change of heart and that is only accomplished by the Holy Spirit. Only when we fall more in love with Jesus than our wallets, more in love with the Son than our own ambitions, More in love with our Savior than our comforts.... only then will we see the changes in society that we all seek.

Now is the time for all Christians to unite in prayer for all of our elected leaders, to ask God to give them HIS wisdom as they plan out their administrations and chose those with whom they will work most closely.  Pray that hearts will be opened to a spirit of cooperation; that compromise can be found in ways to uphold morality and integrity while still moving this nation forward.  That God would change hearts and lives in our leadership and in our people. With God's help, I believe this is possible. But we MUST pray!

Proverbs 21

 1 The king's heart is in the hand of the LORD; 
       he directs it like a watercourse wherever he pleases.

1 Timothy 2

 1I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone— 2for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 3This is good, and pleases God our Savior, 4who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.

Hebrews 13:16-18 

16And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.17Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you.

1 Peter 2:12-14 

12Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us. 13Submit yourselves for the Lord's sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority, 14or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right.

Romans 13

 1Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.2Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. 3For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. 4For he is God's servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God's servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. 5Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience. 6This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God's servants, who give their full time to governing. 7Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

For those who have a love of Irony

Sometimes you just gotta repost someonelse's blog: This one is from John Piper and I just had to share:

How Could God Do This to Us?
Nov 1, 2008 3:34 AM

(Author: John Piper)

Thursday in Minneapolis it was so gorgeous walking home I thought: I should write a post on how astonishing it is that no earthquake swallowed up this city today.
Instead God sent warmth and crystal skies and cool breezes and golden leaves and hanging sea gulls over Elliot Park.
Amazing. Absolutely amazing!
We deserved the 52-story IDS tower to fall, and bridges to collapse, and poisonous gas to kill thousands. But instead God gave us over-the-top foretastes of heaven.
This is why everyone is crying out, Where was God on Thursday! Where were you God! How could you do this? Why did you let this happen?
Everybody is saying that, aren't they?

Friday, October 31, 2008

Martin Luther - 491 years later still inspiring

491 years ago today, Martin nailed his theses to the door of the church in Wittenberg.

And so the Reformation began.

Recently I have come upon 2 quotes that have had a profound impact on me.  The first was quoted in my In Christ's Image Training class: 
“If I miss prayer one day, I feel it; if I fail to pray two days, the entire church feels it; should I not pray three days, all Germany suffers.”

When I read this, my heart was stirred to bring me to the point of weeping.  I knew it was applicable to the call God has placed on my life. Even now as I typed this my heart is stirred.  Such conviction is overwhelming to me.  I MUST pray for the nations.  

The second I discovered today:
Beautiful music is the art of the prophets that can calm the agitations of the soul; it is one of the most magnificent and delightful presents God has given us. 

As I look forward to leading worship this Sunday, this is something that will be on my mind.  What a priviledge it is to be able to sing to God!  This is a great reminder.

I am grateful that there have been and still are men and women that God uses in each of our lives to inspire, convict and encourage.

Thank you God, for Martin Luther!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Do You Want to Know Jesus' Heart?

I am more and more convinced that we need to get this one thing more than anything else right now.  This is Jesus' prayer for us!  This is His heart! Why don't we live this?  It is not a list of things to do but a total surrender of all that we are to Jesus.  Jesus said that we are not defined by the world when we are His and yet we continue to try and do just that - define ourselves by the world's standards!  We try and tell the world about who it is we believe in and yet forsake the one thing that Jesus himself said would be the convincing point: unity through love.  Father God, help me see others with your eyes, with your heart!  It's all about you, it's not about me and what I think or want.  It's all about You, Jesus!

John 17 (The Message)

Jesus' Prayer for His Followers
 1-5 Jesus said these things. Then, raising his eyes in prayer, he said: 
   Father, it's time. 
   Display the bright splendor of your Son 
   So the Son in turn may show your bright splendor. 
   You put him in charge of everything human 
   So he might give real and eternal life to all in his charge. 
   And this is the real and eternal life: 
   That they know you, 
   The one and only true God, 
   And Jesus Christ, whom you sent. 
   I glorified you on earth 
   By completing down to the last detail 
   What you assigned me to do. 
   And now, Father, glorify me with your very own splendor, 
   The very splendor I had in your presence 
   Before there was a world.

 6-12I spelled out your character in detail 
   To the men and women you gave me. 
   They were yours in the first place; 
   Then you gave them to me, 
   And they have now done what you said. 
   They know now, beyond the shadow of a doubt, 
   That everything you gave me is firsthand from you, 
   For the message you gave me, I gave them; 
   And they took it, and were convinced 
   That I came from you. 
   They believed that you sent me. 
   I pray for them. 
   I'm not praying for the God-rejecting world 
   But for those you gave me, 
   For they are yours by right. 
   Everything mine is yours, and yours mine, 
   And my life is on display in them. 
   For I'm no longer going to be visible in the world; 
   They'll continue in the world 
   While I return to you. 
   Holy Father, guard them as they pursue this life 
   That you conferred as a gift through me, 
   So they can be one heart and mind 
   As we are one heart and mind. 
   As long as I was with them, I guarded them 
   In the pursuit of the life you gave through me; 
   I even posted a night watch. 
   And not one of them got away, 
   Except for the rebel bent on destruction 
   (the exception that proved the rule of Scripture).

 13-19Now I'm returning to you. 
   I'm saying these things in the world's hearing 
   So my people can experience 
   My joy completed in them. 
   I gave them your word; 
   The godless world hated them because of it, 
   Because they didn't join the world's ways, 
   Just as I didn't join the world's ways. 
   I'm not asking that you take them out of the world 
   But that you guard them from the Evil One. 
   They are no more defined by the world 
   Than I am defined by the world. 
   Make them holy—consecrated—with the truth; 
   Your word is consecrating truth. 
   In the same way that you gave me a mission in the world, 
   I give them a mission in the world. 
   I'm consecrating myself for their sakes 
   So they'll be truth-consecrated in their mission.

 20-23I'm praying not only for them 
   But also for those who will believe in me 
   Because of them and their witness about me. 
   The goal is for all of them to become one heart and mind— 
   Just as you, Father, are in me and I in you, 
   So they might be one heart and mind with us. 
   Then the world might believe that you, in fact, sent me. 
   The same glory you gave me, I gave them, 
   So they'll be as unified and together as we are— 
   I in them and you in me. 
   Then they'll be mature in this oneness, 
   And give the godless world evidence 
   That you've sent me and loved them 
   In the same way you've loved me.

 24-26Father, I want those you gave me 
   To be with me, right where I am, 
   So they can see my glory, the splendor you gave me, 
   Having loved me 
   Long before there ever was a world. 
   Righteous Father, the world has never known you, 
   But I have known you, and these disciples know 
   That you sent me on this mission. 
   I have made your very being known to them— 
   Who you are and what you do— 
   And continue to make it known, 
   So that your love for me 
   Might be in them 
   Exactly as I am in them.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Thoughts on circumstances

In this season of political and economic upheaval, it is a good thing to remember 2 things:

1) Romans 13 says:
1Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.2Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. 3For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you.

All Authority has been established by God.  Certainly vote the way the Holy Spirit guides you!  But whatever the outcome, remember that God is in control and that whoever is president IS president because God gave him the authority.

2) Psalm 111 says:
5 He provides food for those who fear him; 
       he remembers his covenant forever.

and Jesus said in Matthew 6:

24"No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money. 25"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? 26Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?

and Paul said in 1 Timothy 6:

7For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. 8But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. 9People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction.

Our provision is not dependent on our own efforts, on our jobs, or on the economy.  Our provision comes from God.  He gives us the skills and talents that we can use in making a living, certainly. But when our circumstances are such that our own efforts come to nothing, we need not live in fear for our food and clothing.  Our provision comes from God.  It is that simple.

I think that in this country we have become so accustomed to a lifestyle that is so excessive that the thought of actually being content with having just our needs met is, by comparison, terrifying to most of us!  But the bottom line is: If I have less to occupy my time in care and upkeep, I have more time to spend with God and family and friends.  What are my standards for contentment in life?   Are they based on things?  or are they based on relationships?  What are God's standards? 

Maybe by answering those questions, we can find a right perspective on the events that are happening in front of us.  Whether the person we believe should be in office wins or not, whether the economy recovers quickly or we enter into an economic crisis - these things I know - God is sovereign and His ways are not our ways and He loves us and is pursuing us with a passion and I want to return that passion to Him.  My response can only be - Whatever it takes, God.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Someone Else got it! Awesome!

Check out this post on a book being released in the US that addresses the importance of living intentionally as The Church - as a lifestyle instead of a concept. “ordinary people living ordinary life with gospel intentionality.”  This is exciting!  As I watch and read in the blogoshpere, as I watch the book releases, more and more I see that this is a concept being addressed in many different sectors of the church.  It is crossing denominational and cultural bounderies.  This idea of unity in Christ - the prayer of Jesus from John 17.... it is grabbing hold of people all over the place.  I want to yell "YES!" from the mountain tops!  Every time I see someone else get this... that we are ONE, that Jesus makes us One Body, His Bride... that we need to function like a body - together.... every single time someone else sees this and starts to do something about it - I get excited.  I want to cheer them on! YES!

One day, we will all get it.  We will all be worshipping and praising God in one accord, no divisions, fully mature, together.... and then He'll come.  Jesus will come back for us, His lovesick Bride!  YES!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The joy of a cold

It's been years since I have been sick. Then last week it was a stomach bug and now this week - a head cold. You might think that this would be something to lament but I am finding myself grateful for this illness. Ok, so the sneezing and coughing is not pleasant and I certainly don't want to spread the illness to others.... but to be honest, I have been too busy lately and have not been as disciplined with my time as I should be. This sickness has brought everything to a screaching halt. It's not that I am not going to work or doing the things that need to be done; it is just that worrying about stuff and over thinking stuff (my 2 biggest challenges in life) just seems to be too much effort. So that is just it. I have stopped striving and I am resting in Jesus..... just resting. What a wonderful Savior he is!

And even when I have the realization that this place of weakness and dependence is what He has called me to and if I was actually fasting like I know I should be that this illness would not have been necessary..... there is no condemnation. Only realization and understanding and acceptance. The peace and rest remain. How sweet and precious is the Lord's chastening.

So I am grateful for this sickness. Whateve it takes, God!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Thoughts on a rainy day

"The master in the art of living makes little distinction between his work and his play, his labor and his leisure, his mind and his body, his information and his recreation, his love and his religion. He hardly knows which is which. He simply pursues his vision of excellence at whatever he does, leaving others to decide whether he is working or playing. To him he is always doing both." — James Michener

I read this quote this morning and I thought "that's it! that's what I keep thinking life should be!" But I look around me and see very few people who have mastered the art of living. Even in the Church, I see so many, myself included, who are filled with a sense of divine discontent and find themselves striving to find that illusive place of contentment in our circumstances.

"It is also the gift of God whenever anyone eats, drinks, and enjoys all his efforts" (Ecc. 3:13, HCSB).

"I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances." (Phil. 4:11, NIV)

"give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." (1 Thes. 5:18, NIV)

The Word shows me that contentment and enjoyment of life are not only possible, but, it seems to me, required. So why are so many so discontent? As I read that quote from Michener this morning, it hit me: compartmentalization. That is the problem. We try to leave work at work when we are home, we're told to leave our personal lives out of work, our faith out of our politics, our politics out of our relationships and on and on... It's the old "divide and conquor" strategy! And we fell for it.

It's not supposed to be that way. God created us as whole people, with needs and desires and gifts in proportion to His design for each of us as individuals to fulfill His purpose for each of our lives. If we try and live in a way that minimizes certain aspects of who God created us to be, we live an unbalanced life. There is that word again: Balance. It is not a matter of balancing the compartments - putting more in one place and less in another, but removing the dividers so that our whole being can flow and balance out.

Who we are at home should not be different from who we are at work or at school or at church or in our recreation. That is something I learned concerning behavior, a long time ago. But I think it goes beyond that. It is a matter of where our heart resides. If we find contentment and peace in the presence of God and yet leave Him in our prayer closets or at church, then we have compartmentalized our life. If we are not bringing Him with us in every activity, every circumstance, we are missing a part of who we are - we have become unbalanced. Unbalanced people are less likely to make good decisions, more likely to fall.

So what is the answer? James 4:8 says, "Come close to God and He will come close to you. [Recognize that you are] sinners, get your soiled hands clean; [realize that you have been disloyal] wavering individuals with divided interests, and purify your hearts [of your spiritual adultery]." (Amplified Bible)

I like how The Message puts it:
"So let God work his will in you. Yell a loud no to the Devil and watch him scamper. Say a quiet yes to God and he'll be there in no time. Quit dabbling in sin. Purify your inner life. Quit playing the field. Hit bottom, and cry your eyes out. The fun and games are over. Get serious, really serious. Get down on your knees before the Master; it's the only way you'll get on your feet."
James 4:7-10 (The Message)

It may start in the prayer closet, but we have to take it with us!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Getting Down to the Basics

It never ceases to amaze me how God uses the young, the simple and the unexpected to make profound, deep and meaningful points in our lives. This post by Randy Bohlender makes that point better than any I have read in a long long time. This is a beautiful picture of the child like faith and love to which we are called.
It also brings up a subject that has been on my heart for a while now - balance. I think that there are seasons when we focus so intently on serving in our churches, in our work and/or in our communities that our reach exceeds the depth of the roots that keep us grounded. This is when burnout can creep in. Then we admonish ourselves with scriptures like "Do not weary of well doing" and thoughts like "if I don't do it, it won't get done" and other things that on the surface may be true (of course scripture is always true within the context) but they can keep us from focusing on the real issue of relationship with Jesus instead of doing things for Him...and all of a sudden we find ourselves drowning in a sea of frustration, bitterness and self pity...wondering how we got here. We are out of balance. We have been doing so much that we haven't had the time to rest either physically or spiritually. We can look back and see that our prayer time has gradually gotten shorter, time spent in the word has decreased. And we have plenty of excuses. We are all experts at justification!
This is the real battle ground: the mind. It is what we choose to think about that determines our feelings and our actions. When we do not choose to spend time focusing our minds on the Word, on the person of Jesus Christ, learning to take every thought captive, we make ourselves easy prey for the enemy to come in and distract us with slightly twisted versions of the Truth. It is almost never something that is easily seen (otherwise we wouldn't be deceived). It is those "close to the truth" thoughts that get us one degree of track. We don't notice the deception at first because it is so close to the truth. But as we travel down the path of life, that one degree difference pulls us further and further from where God wants us to be.
So often that slight deviation comes in areas of our passions in ministry. For those with a heart for service, we over commit. For those with a heart for intercession, we can lose our heart for being Jesus' hands and feet in the natural. For those with a passion for evangelism, we can forget to disciple the very people we so passionately went fishing for. If we neglect our relationship with the one for whom all of our passions and desires originate, we are like a tent with posts that have never been hammered in to the ground. And the larger the tent, the deeper the posts need to be. And if you want to go deep, you have to get back to the basics: Spending time reading the Word, spending time in prayer, studying the Word, fasting, tithing, serving. This is the only way I know of to guard my mind against deception. It is the only way I know of the stay in Balance.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

The hardest part of parenting, so far

It's been busy since we got back from vacation. It's not been that I haven't had anything to say, just a lack of time to really put thoughts together in a cohesive way. I also think that maybe I was trying not to think too much. Getting Corwin ready to go to school became a series of things to do, a way of being busy enough not to deal with the reality of him leaving.
I really don't know why this has been so hard for me. But the bottom line here, is that it has been and still is.
As we were getting ready to say goodbye this weekend, there came a time when I was almost overwhelmed with the urge to punch my son in the arm. Now, I am NOT a violent person, so this was really one of those "out of nowhere" feelings. I realized that there was this part of me that was angry at him for being so smart and getting into a good school that took him away from us for the next 5 years (dual major in engineering and physics - it takes an extra year). That was bizarre enough to almost make me laugh. And no, I did not hit him :)
My biggest dilema was how to tell a son who is uncomfortable with displays of emotion how much I love him and not only love, but like! I really like the young man my son has become. He has an air of confidence without arrogance, he is funny in a quiet way that sneaks up on you and leaves you laughing even hours later. He is strong and tender hearted, smart and frugal and compassionate. Sure he has his faults but all in all he is a great son and I am proud of him beyond belief! And I couldn't tell him any of this to his face. I would have cried and not been able to speak and then he would have been embarrassed and I would have felt bad for embarrassing him and it would have been a mess.
When it was time to leave, I needed to leave. The rest of the family took their good sweet time saying goodbye and it just about killed me standing there and not crying. This is truly the hardest thing I have been through as a parent. Saying goodbye to Amber, when she went to Master's Commission, was not this difficult. There was never a question in my mind or heart about our relationship. I knew she would be calling every day and she was only 2 and a half hours away. I missed her terribly, kept having to remind myself that she was not around, but it didn't hurt so much.
I am still trying to figure this out. I don't know if it is because Corwin is my only son, or simply a son, or if I have a different relationship with him than some moms or what. I don't love him any more than my girls.... I love them all with all my heart... how can you have more or less that all? But I miss him!!!! and it hurts.
At the risk of over spiritualizing this, it has gone through my mind many times over the last couple of weeks - how God must have felt sending His only son to this world, knowing what was going to happen to him, knowing what Jesus was going to go through. That must have been awful! There is comfort in knowing that, certainly, God understands what is going on in my heart, and a bit of amazement and guilt that I should be struggling at all, when I consider that Corwin is only a phone call away or 6 hours without traffic. It is not like I have lost a child or sent him off to war. It is college, for heaven's sake! But I miss him and it hurts.
A friend of mine, who has been through this 3 times, keeps telling me that it gets better.... not just that the pain goes away, but that the actual relationship gets better. That there is a transition from parent-child to friend and it only happens through the separation process. I am clinging to that thought! I am choosing to believe this. So there it is.
It all comes back to this one thing: Faith. Do I trust God with my son? Yes, of course. He is God and He gave me Corwin in the first place. I am only his caretaker. Corwin is on loan to me. I get that. Do I trust God with my heartache? Yes. He has proven to me over and over again that He will see me through anything. And I KNOW that He will see me through this too! But it still hurts and I miss my son.

Friday, August 8, 2008

What I did on my summer vacation, Part 6

Subtitled: Some final thoughts on my last night in Florida

There are no two ways of looking at this. I really do not want to leave tomorrow. There is just something so wonderful about the lack of responsibility I feel when I am on vacation. Which leads me to the conclusion that I have too much on my plate most of the time. And any place that has outdoor seating as the norm for eating establishments is awesome.

We went to the pier tonight and to a great restaurant right on the Indian River. We ate on a dock with catfish begging in the water next to us. Who would ever imagine that catfish would beg?

We drove around the beach area and walked on the beach for a bit. It was a very nice last evening here. I really don't want to go.

I read this book "The Dip" by Seth Godin a few days ago and I really have a lot to consider in the next few weeks. It is all about quitting the things that keep us from achieving our dreams. I am definitely too busy most of the time.

Looks like we are going to try and make it back tomorrow and not wait til sunday. That will give us Sunday to relax at home and be ready to work on Monday.

Did I mention I really would love to stay here? :)

I guess that is it from Florida.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

What I did on my summer vacation, Part 5

If this vacation has been one thing, it has been unpredictable.

We came down here without any clear schedule of events, no agenda other than rest and reconnect. Today was supposed to be the day we went to the Space Center, but because of the sunburn, that didn't happen. Neither did the night shark fishing or the guest appearance in the band for Bruce. And amazingly, no one is really disappointed.

But it took and act of God for all of us to really enjoy our circumstances corporately. We have all had fun at one time or another, all sacrificing in some way for the happiness of other family members, which is really cool. But nothing has really brought us all together in total enjoyment of the moment until the storms tonight!

All of us love thunderstorms and 3 of them converged right in front of the condo out on the ocean. There was so much lightning, we couldn't take it all in. For about 30 minutes we were seeing 4 or 5 cloud to ground or water strikes every 2 seconds. It was incredible! I am not sure about the wisdom of leaning on a metal railing on the 4th floor balcony in an electrical storm... but we survived and were all amazed and delighted with God's amazing handiwork in this set of storms. We all agreed that the entire trip was worth it just to see this intense a storm with no trees blocking the view and relative safety outside to watch it.

At one point we heard a terrible crashing noise from out front of the condo. The hallway is open air and the wind was whipping through it like a hurricane! Bruce ran out to see what had happened and if anyone needed help. He saw the security guy running around and it took them a few minutes to figure out that it had been the cover of one of the fire extinguishers that had been ripped off by the wind and shattered against one of the railings. This was an intense storm!

Amber kept trying to catch lightning with the camera but she seemed to be always facing the wrong direction for some of the longer lasting strikes. So she put the camera away and just watched with us. This was better than any fireworks we have ever seen!

We were very grateful that we decided not to do the night fishing trip tonight and will check the weather very carefully before deciding if we will attempt it tomorrow night. We are hoping Amber's legs will feel good enough to try the Space Center tomorrow, but we are mostly concerned about how she will be feeling for saturday when we drive home. I don't know of anything else to do to make the sunburn heal faster. We are praying and she is already using aloe and vitamin E gell to help with the pain and the healing. Other than those things, it just takes time.

Thunder is still rolling. What a nice sound to fall asleep to.


Both girls seem to have sun sickness or sun poisoning.... besides the actual pain of the burn, both feel sick (flu like symptoms) and have chills. Emmy had difficulty falling asleep last night and Amber had difficulty staying asleep. Right now we are trying to decide if being outside at all is possible for either of them as the Kennedy Space Center has a lot of the displays outside.

OK, then... as Amber walked by, she can't even bend her legs to walk. She is definately NOT going. Emmy is doing better but she doesn't like the heat right now. It is already 94.

We found out about a fishing trip that is at night to go shark fishing. That might be fun. Maybe tomorrow we can get to the Space Center.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

What I did on my summer vacation, Part 4

I had a nice chat with the Positive Morning Crew this morning. I kinda miss those guys :) I guess I must have, to have gotten up so early on my vacation!

We had intended to go to the Kennedy Space Center today, but since it is vacation we were a little lax about bedtimes and what time we were planning on getting going today. By the time everyone was up and had eaten, it was noon. I wasn't too stressed because the tickets that we were going to purchase were for 2 days and we are only about 10 minutes from the center.
But as we were waiting and looking out at the ocean, all of a sudden there were helicopters going out to a boat about a half mile out that was heading toward the port. They were coast guard helicopters and one of them dropped really close to the boat and started pushing it with the back wash of the rotor. The other helecopter dropped a couple of people out with jet ski type vehicles. With all of the spray from the rotors of the helicopters it was hard to see exactly what was going on and we forgot to bring our binoculars. But we tried to watch the activity to figure out what was going on. The boat got "pushed" back out and then down the coast til we could no longer see it... maybe 6 miles or so. I have no idea what it was all about but speculating and watching was sort of fun. As a family we came up with all sorts of ideas from training sessions to deterring illegal imigrants to getting the boat with criminals on it out of range of any innocent people on the beaches. Who knows?! but it was interesting and had us all exclaiming "you don't see that every day".

The girls wanted to go out and get some sun (as all good parents do, we reminded them to use sunscreen) and Corwin wanted to finish a book he started yesterday. Bruce has been missing his guitar so we decided to go to a music store nearby so he could go pick for a while. It is always fun for me to watch the admiration of other musicians as he plays. We were at the store for a couple of hours as Bruce and some of the other guitarists shared stories and techniques. He was invited to sit in with a band tomorrow night at a club down the beach. We are still trying to decide if this is something we want to do. While it would be fun, there is always the environment issues of being in a bar setting. The 2 older kids are allowed to be there but Emmy would have to leave by 9:30 (of course that would mean we all would leave) but do we really want her in that environment at all?

It is a difficult thing. On one hand, Jesus hung out in exactly this sort of setting in his time on earth, ministering to the neediest of people and if Bruce and I were here by ourselves, it would be less of an issue. Bruce has such a heart for other musicians that do not know the Lord. And how can you be a light in their world if you never enter it? But with the kids, we just don't know. Corwin and Amber are both over 18 and are allowed in the club after 9:30 but Emmy is not. They would all enjoy watching their dad play guitar. It's the Blues and Bruce can play the blues! And it's not like they are not aware that there are folks who drink and one's who drink to excess. But do we want to potentially expose them to a level of worldliness that they have not been exposed to before? Maybe if we knew what the club looked like and the normal clientel, it would make the decision easier. Maybe tomorrow morning we should go check out the place. Certainly we will be praying about this.

Whether we should take the kids or not may be a moot point. The girls are both very sun burned! They did not use a high enough level sunblock. They look a little bit like lobsters. You know, that color, when you see it on someone else you say, "oooh...that's gotta hurt!". So we'll see how they are feeling tomorrow. Actually, going to Kennedy may be an issue as well. I think I know what my parents must have felt like when I fell asleep on a raft in a pool here in Florida when I was 11. Some memories are best left un remembered!

We all went swimming in the ocean this evening and it was really awesome. There were some cow nosed rays that were playing around us in the surf. They were within a few feet of us and seemingly curious about us. We also saw a sea turtle (about 10 feet away) and that was cool too. But when we started seeing jelly fish, we decided that it was time to go. I didn't want to play with them.

All in all, a pretty interesting day here in Florida. I am actually starting to feel relaxed.
Oh, and we had eggplant parmesean for dinner and Corwin made another batch of brownies.
Going to bed early tonight!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

What I did on my summer vacation, Part 3

Today was my birthday and traditionally, well, let's just say I have learned to avoid them when I can. Something about expectaions and disappointments and I would just rather not go there. So with that said, this happened to be a pretty good birthday as they go.

Some of us got up before dawn and wandered down to the beach to watch the sun come up. Now please keep in mind that I am not a morning person and I can be a little ADD from time to time and the combination was a little difficult to deal with. I really had every intention of spending some real quality time with God, walking on the beach, talking and sharing.... but like I said, it was morning and very early at that. I mean it was the crack of dawn. Yeah it was pretty and the sea gulls, I guess added to the ambiance. Even the sand crabs are a wonder of God's creation. But I do not appreciate the sand crabs scurrying across my toes, or hundreds of seagulls deciding I might possibly have food and crowding me. It was a little "off putting"! And I didn't even mention all the cruise ships leaving port! My quiet time was not exactly what I had planned. My expectation was to connect with God in a quiet tranquil moment in His creation. I connected with Him in a moment of panic because of His creation. It's that whole expectation thing.

So the day continues on and I get some time to talk with God back in the condo. Not what I had imagined, but truly, any time I get to spend talking with my Creator is always a positive thing. Everyone else went back to sleep so I had my alone time. I even got to start a new book Pastor Wes recommended to me called "The Dip" by Seth Godin. Pretty interesting so far.

The family finally got up and moving by noon and we started making plans for what to do for dinner. We decided on Medieval Times.

As I started to look for what I was going to wear, I realized that the shirt I had planned on wearing (my favorite shirt) was accidently left at home. The temptation was to play the blame game (remember the whole disappointment thing?) and get really moody, but I really did not want to go there. Unfortunately, I am not that mature and were it not for the intervening of the Holy Spirit in my heart, that is exactly what I would have done. Instead I had another talk with God. We decided on another shirt and set off to the dinner theater an hour away (it was 4pm).

We got there in plenty of time, we were first in line by about 3 minutes and had fun talking to the other folks in line.

We got silly in the photo shop and had our pictures taken. Face Lift anyone?

Dinner was excellent, the show was fun and exciting, the Falconer was really nice and told us all about how he got into the field of being a licenced falconer.

We stuck around and chatted with some of the cast afterwards and found out a lot about what it is like to work for one of these places. It was really great connecting with theater folk again. It brought back a lot of really great memories.

Of course the girls then started making plans to move to Florida and work at one of the dinner theaters and have other grand adventures. How can you not smile when your kids start dreaming?

All in all it ended up being quite a lovely birthday, even if it wasn't what I had expected. Sometimes it is nice to be surprised.

Here are some pictures of the day. Bruce and I as Shrek and Fiona and a couple of the Knights.

Monday, August 4, 2008

A Great Commentary on the passing of Alexander Solzhenitsyn

Growing up in the shadow of the Nation's Capital, with a father in intelligence and a mom very involved in politics, I could not help but be at least aware of significant world events and the people who played a part. My father was a real fan of Alexander Solzhenitsyn for his courage and integrity in speaking out against a system that had such a negative impact on humanity. There are so few who are truly willing to suffer for what they believe, it is always inspirational to me to see that play out in someone's life. Like John Piper, I too am thankful to God for this man's life and example. You can read John's tribute here. I am also grateful for parents who taught me the importance of keeping up with what is going on in the world without becoming too disturbed by it.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

What I did on my summer vacation, Part 2

Sleeping in was nice. The only thing I really wasn't thinking about was how bright the sun is at 8 am when your windows face east out over the Atlantic. Opening up the curtains was a lot more painful than I expected!

I had a great time reading the Word on the balcony with the sound of the surf reminding me of the power and majesty of the Creator. What a treat!

I joined millions of other Americans and got my church experience for this week on the TV. Watched a really great preacher Pastor Jim Raley and was really wishing we had gotten up early enough to go to that church. It would have taken about an hour to get there but I always love visiting other churches and seeing what other parts of the Body are up to. Great sermon! Maybe we could go for Wednesday night service.

Actually, I ended up spending about 3 hours watching different preachers. This was a real treat for me since I do not have cable or satellite at home.

Amber made brownies for dessert for tonight and the cleaned up the kitchen for me so I could cook a gourmet meal tonight. We had Coq au Vin over noodles and silver queen corn. Very yummy!
After dinner we went for a walk on the beach and went wading in the water. The kids made wet sand balls and had a sand ball fight (weird! sort of like a snow ball fight but yuckier) and ended up in the water to clean up. I love how well the kids get along and how much they really love each other and genuinely enjoy each others company.

We are going to watch some movie tonight and maybe play some cards.

I am looking forward to tomorrow. We are getting up early to watch the sun rise on the beach. What a great way to start my birthday!

Saturday, August 2, 2008

What I did on my summer vacation, Part 1

I am realizing very quickly that I have been extremely tightly wound for some time. As the minutes have turned to hours, I am slowly starting to relax and in the process, there is almost a backlash of giddiness that is creeping in.

I have 2 questions: 1) how in the world did I get into this state of tension and 2), what can I do to prevent it from ever happening again?

These are at least some of the questions I will be pondering as I sit back and watch and listen to the waves splashing on the sand. I am looking forward to my first morning quiet time on the beach.

And yes, I do plan on enjoying every moment of this vacation.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Learning Through Leadership

Since I can remember, I have heard people say, "the best way to learn something is to teach it". At this point in my life, I am not sure I agree with this 100%. While certainly, the understanding sinks to a deeper level, as you teach someone else what you know, I don't find anything in that statement that addresses the heart. As I have been thinking about this, I believe that the better statement would be "the best way to learn something is to live it".

If I know and truly understand how to change the oil in my car, that knowledge might be helpful in telling someone else how to get started changing the oil in their car, but without the experiences of actually getting the oil plug out of the oil pan, having it split as you take it out, watching the oil miss the drip pan, buying a new plug, finding a solvent to clean the oil out of our fingernails.... do you really know how to change the oil? Can you really teach someone to be good at it? Can you help them through the potential problems and side issues that might come their way? I guess what I am saying here is that intellectual knowledge is a fine thing, but until that matches up with experience, I am not sure it is really "knowing".

So what do you do when you find yourself in a situation where you are leading people who have circumstances in their lives that are outside your areas of experience? Does that invalidate your leadership? Does that mean you must pass off the job to someone else who has that experience? I don't think so. It means that you get under the car with them and pass the towel when the oil hits their face, and move the drip pan closer and hand them a pair of plyers to pull the other half of the plug out. It means you drive them to the store to buy the parts and make sure they have everything they need to finish the job. It means getting your hands dirty. So what if you have never actually changed the oil in a real car before? You learned right along with them and have their experience to add to your own. Isn't it the point of seeing the job (circumstances) through that is what is important anyway? If we are unwilling to be a part of the lives of those we lead, why are we really leading anyway? Jesus modeled servant leadership. It was never about us. That is not why God put us in leadership. It is because somewhere along the way we were willing to put ourselves aside for His purpose. We live (or should) for Him. And that means doing what we see Jesus doing, putting aside our own agenda for His. Being His hands and feet, speaking His words, showing His love in our relationships. I can say from experience, it is not always easy. In fact, it is sometimes the hardest thing to do! But I do believe that this is where God has placed me.

Maybe this hands on approach won't work when you get to a certain level of leadership, maybe you cannot stay so directly involved, or maybe you have to have a more tiered approach. I am not sure. I'll let you know when I get there.... but for now, this is what I am trying to live.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

God's Amazing Pursuit

I find is absolutely amazing, that God, in His infinite majesty, wants so desperately to spend time with us. I have to admit, I forget that. It is so easy fall into the trap of thinking that somehow we have to make ourselves good enough to approach God... even when we KNOW better... even when we understand and believe that it is Jesus' righteousness that grants us access to the Father. There is a mire of religion in which we can so easily get booged down. But then God finds a way to remind us that He is there, that we can come, that He actually invites us to come into His presence, that He made a way already.

He did that for me today in a blog by Perry Noble.

Thank you Father for using people I don't even know to be your hands and feet in my life! Help me to walk with you today and use me to touch someone else! I love you, Jesus!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Last of the One Prayer series

Yesterday was the final week for OnePrayer at LCC. Personally I have mixed feelings about this. On one hand, I dearly love Pastor Wes' messages and am looking forward to the exciting series coming up. On the other hand, I have so enjoyed the different views and teaching styles of the other OnePrayer Pastors. It appeals to my ADD qualities to have something completely fresh and new each week. And I totally love the sense of being part of something so much bigger than our little church in the cow pasture! It gave me an idea of how we could look "when we grow up". That is really exciting!
Wayne Cordeiro was awesome! He made me think in so many directions at once, I wish I could have heard that message a couple more times! I did get a few distinct things out of what he said, though.
1 - a quiet time does not have to be in the morning to be legitimate! This is huge for me! I am NOT a morning person and for so long I have tried to be; getting up early (or attempting to) so that I could fellowship with God, like all of these wonderful men and women of faith that I so admire are always talking about. And then feeling guilty that I could not stay focused for more than a few minutes at a time and spending the majority of my time with God asking for forgiveness that I couldn't stay focused! I am now looking forward to having wonderful, guilt free, quality and productive and wonderful (yes I know I said that twice) quiet times in the afternoons!
2 - A table of contents for a journal is a cool idea. For my current journal, I will have to make mine at the back, but next time I get a new journal, I will definately leave room in the front!
3 - I am going to redouble my effort to memorize more scripture. I already felt I needed to memorize Peter (yes, both 1st and 2nd) and several Psalms. I am wondering if copying them out a few times will make it easier. Seems to me like it might.
4 - If my heart is truly to see people grow closer to Jesus and develop a deeper relationship with Him, then that is going to happen out of the overflow of what is in my heart. My words will convince no one! And while that means I have to have that kind of relationship myself, it also means that my focus has to be on Jesus and not on growth. (this was one of those aside thoughts that was triggered by something he said not a quote from what he said in the sermon, so don't think you missed anything if you didn't go there :) )
5 - (another triggered thought) God wants us to trust Him completely. We all have trust issues to some degree because we live in a fallen world and we have all been hurt. The trials and tests we go through in life are there to teach us to trust God through them, and they get bigger and bigger as we go deeper and deeper in our trust in Him. And even though we long to trust Him fully, it takes time. But, "God is the one who began this good work in you, and I am certain that he won't stop before it is complete on the day that Christ Jesus returns." (Phillipians 1:6) Now that is encouraging!

Like I said, I wish I could have listened to the message a few more times. I am certain I would have gotten even more out of it. Gotta love a review of the basics!