April 23, 2007

Let's Do Lunch

Spring has finally sprung here in Virginia. I'm a little sad to be packing my sweaters away, though. It doesn't seem fair to put them in storage when they didn't get to enjoy any snow this year! Still, today was what I would describe as "the perfect day". No humidity (a rare thing in these parts!). And the temperature was about 80°. I went to a local park and enjoyed lunch alone at a picnic table, basking in the warm sunlight.

I had my face turned up to the sun and my eyes closed...drinking it all in. And then it happened. Jesus came! It was so wonderful to meet Him there, and I found myself wishing we could have more time. Don't you know it, He was wishing the same thing?

Ever since I've been saved, I've struggled to find the right time to meet with Him daily. I've tried first thing in the morning and last thing at night, with the same result...falling asleep on Him. I thought we had to meet at one of those times, and I've been so frustrated with trying to make that happen. But today, my sweet Lord extended an invitation to me. Well, I think it was more of a command...but He was awfully nice about it.

I generally use my lunch hour to run errands or meet a friend. Many times I rush around trying to get so much done that I go back to work more uptight than I was when I left. From now on, my lunch hour is going to be God's hour. I'll be packing my lunch, Bible and journal every morning so that I can "do lunch" with the Lord of Lords.

He's even shown me where we're going to meet! When I left the park today, He reminded me of another park. When I drove by on my way back to the office, I saw a bench sitting under a beautiful shade tree and I felt the Holy Spirit saying, "That's it. That's the place." And He gave me the 5th verse in the 40 by 40 challenge:

He makes me lie down in green pastures,
He leads me beside quiet waters,
He restores my soul.
--Psalm 23:2-3

Instead of looking at my lunch hour as something I'm entitled to as an employee, God has instructed me to sacrifice that time to Him and use it for His purposes. I'll still lunch with friends on occasion...but I need to approach those times as opportunities to minister to others instead of focusing on my own needs. On other days, I'll meet with my Best Friend and get reacquainted with Him...find out what He's been up to and see where He wants me. I'm going to stop complaining about how malnourished I feel, and let Him restore my soul.

Gives a whole new meaning to the term "Power Lunch", doesn't it?


P.S. - I'll see if I can get a photo that will do the spot justice and post it.

April 18, 2007

Where are the Watchmen?

Like many of you, I've been glued to the television for the past few days. I'm still trying to wrap my brain around the tragedy in Blacksburg. I don't know that I'll ever get there.

The media has been oh-so-subtly casting blame on the college administration and campus police. There's a big debate about the time line and emergency notification. Now there are all sorts of facts coming to light about the killer's past mental instability. Seems as if professors, campus police, roommates, suitemates and classmates all had an idea that this young man was dangerous, or at least circumspect. Some of his acquaintances have said that when they first heard the gunman was an Asian male, they were afraid it was him.

My first reaction has been, "Why didn't someone step in and do something?"

Of course, it's easy to sit here two days later and ask that question. It's easy to find fault with the stalking victims who didn't press charges, the teachers who didn't take his writings more seriously, and the mental wellness center that didn't follow up with him. Quite simply, they are to blame.

So am I.

So, Believer, are you.

When we witness strange, intimidating behavior and we don't call it out, we're to blame.

When we're afraid to label someone as a potential threat because we don't want to risk offending anyone, we're to blame.

When we don't get involved because it's "none of our business", we're to blame.


"But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet to warn the people and the sword comes and takes the life of one of them, the man will be taken away because of his sin, but I will hold the watchman accountable for his blood." --Ezekiel 33:6

God appointed Ezekiel as a watchman for Israel. As believers, we are watchmen for the world we live in. It's our job to protect those around us, to lead them to truth & save them from death. We are accountable for the lives of those around us.

Where were the watchmen?

Plenty of people saw this young man's penchant for violence. No one sounded the trumpet. Or if they did, it wasn't loud enough. Perhaps they didn't see the threat as serious. Chalked it up to young adult angst, an over-dramatic expression of feelings. No need to make an issue of it. Let's just address it quickly and quietly move on.

Where were the watchmen?

He stalked girls and no charges were pressed. Did those involved think it was no big deal? That others would think they were overreacting?

Where were the watchmen?

Students quit coming to class because he kept taking their pictures with his cell phone. Appropriate actions weren't taken. Did the teacher or fellow students worry that they would infringe upon his rights...even though he openly infringed upon the rights of others? Were they afraid to label him as a trouble maker or threat, because it could hurt his feelings?

I'm not sure I would've handled things any differently.

As hard as it is this week, we have to look past Virginia Tech and ask ourselves, Where are the watchmen?

We consider people as "quirky" rather than dangerous.

We believe their sin is "not my problem" or that it "doesn't affect me".

We don't want to offend people who think believers are narrow-minded, so we don't tell them the truth.

Where are the watchmen?

We hear people deny God, yet we don't sound the trumpet.

We see them turn their backs to Him, yet we don't warn them of the death they're facing.

We watch as they continue to believe the prince of this world and follow his ways, yet we don't shield them from the sword.

Where, oh where, are the watchmen?

We've trivialized sin. As Anne Graham Lotz says in her book, "My Heart's Cry":

We call lying, exaggeration.
We call stealing another person's reputation, gossip.
We call murder, the right to choose.
We call fornication, safe sex.
We call homosexuality, gay.
We call lust, adult entertainment.
We call profanity, obscenity, blasphemy and pornography, freedom of expression.

We are the watchmen. And we're falling down on the job.

May God have mercy on us all. And may He bless those whose lives have been forever changed this week.

Because of Jesus,

April 17, 2007

A Show of Support

Please feel free to grab the ribbon & post it in your sidebar.


April 16, 2007

The Horror of it all...

When I was growing up, I desperately wanted to be a Tarheel. As I got older, I realized my parents wouldn't be able to afford the out-of-state tuition. I concocted a plan to use my grandparents' address for residency without changing high schools (the farm is in both Virginia and North Carolina). The plan wasn't going to work, and I chose to be a Wahoo. Never...not even once...did I consider being a Hokie.

UVA and Virginia Tech have always enjoyed a fierce, but good-natured rivalry. I have many friends who attended Tech. We tease one another unmercifully. It's all in fun.

Then today.

I can't think of anything more horrifying than the events I've seen play out on tv and on the internet. I think of the 30+ students who didn't realize they'd never live to see final exams. Of those who were forced to play dead in order to remain alive. Of those who risked jumping out of 3rd story windows.

And then I think of the parents. I can't begin to imagine what they were going through as they waited for news of their children's whereabouts and safety. Fortunately, as far as we know, the local students from our area are all safe.

But, as Shannon said, how can we think we're truly safe? CJ & I made our daily (or so it seems) trip to W*lmart this afternoon. She darted down another aisle in a quest to beat me to the Lunchables cooler. Normally, I wouldn't think twice about it. We do still live in a small town, and I was just one aisle over. But today, I couldn't wait to get to the end of that aisle. I had to see my baby and make sure no gunman was lurking around the corner...waiting to assassinate her in the same manner as those poor students today.

And I realize, as much as I want to make CJ feel safe...as much as I need her to feel safe...that's something I can't guarantee. I can guard her computer usage, monitor her television viewing (which is a feat in and of itself), and make sure I know where she is at pretty much any moment of any day. But I can't completely shield her from evil. I can only pray for God's protection over her. Even if I spend every waking minute of the rest of my life on my knees, pleading for her safety, I can't know what God has in store for her. His ways are not may ways...and that's pretty frightening to me right now.

My heart is shattered. I'm fighting back sobs that are threatening to overtake me.

Still I will trust Him.

R's been working tonight, but CJ & I have been praying for the Virginia Tech family. I gotta tell ya, more than anything, I wish I could call my Hokie friends and give them some good-natured grief. Just like I've always done. Because that would mean things were normal. Instead, I'm crying, lifting them up in prayer, and asking God to minister to their hurting hearts and souls.

I hope you'll join me.

Because of Jesus,

April 11, 2007

Steeped in Sin

I'm a little late with this week's 40 by 40. Quite honestly, I felt the Holy Spirit bop me over the head with this one on Sunday, and I've been avoiding it. Still, He's persistent, that one! Forget about the fact that I haven't committed last week's verse to memory yet, He just won't let this one go. I know if I'm not obedient, He's going to MAKE me obey Him. In an effort to save myself some grief, and a bit begrudgingly, here we go:

"What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?"
-Romans 6:1-2

I don't know about you, but where I'm sitting, the noise is deafening. It's hard to tell if it's the Holy Spirit telling me to listen up or if it's my own sinful spirit yelling, "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!"

Probably both.

In all candor, I do NOT want to learn these verses. I'm afraid I'll be held accountable for them. That I'll have to give up those sins I like repeating. That I might...Heaven forbid...have to change.

You see, I've had my own interpretation of this passage for quite some time. I thought (maybe even hoped) that Paul was saying we literally can't continue to live in sin because God has saved us. That living in sin isn't possible for a Christian. Sure, we all commit sin, but that's just human nature & we're not really expected to be more than human, are we?!

But here's the thing. God really opened my eyes...which were pried shut...to see that Paul isn't saying that there's no way we can live in sin, but rather, "You've already died to sin...how in the world can you keep living in it? Why do you WANT to stay in the prison of sin when Jesus has set you free?!"

Ain't it the truth?

Why, oh why, do I want to persist in sin? How can I keep living in it? Not just "visiting", but moving in, taking up residence and making it my own?

I spent most of my life locked in its shackles and searching for a way out. Then Jesus opened the cell door, Praise His Name! I specifically remember walking out. I'm just not sure how I got back in. Wait...oh, yeah, that's right. It's coming back to me now. Truth be told, I've walked in and out of that cell so many times, I've beaten a path marking my travels. Maybe if I could just find the courage to walk far enough that I can't see the cell, I won't be tempted to go back. But I long for its comfort and familiarity...until I get back in. Then the beautiful facade crumbles and all that's left is ugly black decay. And I remember why I wanted to leave in the first place. The saddest part of it is that everytime I find myself back in jail, I wait around for Jesus to free me...but He's already done it! Why can't I see that the door isn't closed just because I stepped back in?

If we've really, truly died to sin, we won't be able to stand living in it. It will repulse, rather than entice, us. It will be so disgusting that we'll run as hard and fast as we can to get away. But we're required to totally die in order to have the abundant life Jesus offers. I've always hoped to die peacefully in my sleep. No suffering or pain. Just close my eyes and wake up at Jesus' feet. Dying to sin is not quite so calm. In fact, I've been kicking and screaming the whole way.

I haven't been ready to die.

And that's the whole problem, isn't it?


April 8, 2007

An Interview with Shalee

Against my better judgment, I agreed for Shalee to interview me. (Just kidding!) She came up with some great questions...real stumpers! Let me tell you, this girl did her homework!

So, here goes!

If your favorite author came to dinner, what would you serve to her? No ordering out!

Well, Shalee was right. My favorite author is a woman, Jane Austen. I would probably serve her my best "company meal". Chicken Divan by Paula Deen, grilled asparagus, and baked sweet potatoes. And, of course, being the Southern gal I am, sweet tea! Dessert would be another Paula specialty, Gooey Butter Cake (seriously, if you haven't tried this recipe, you MUST!) and coffee.

What literary character do you think most represents your personality?

Hmm...probably Jo March from "Little Women"....very outspoken, passionate about writing, and always opening her big mouth to get into trouble!

Describe your favorite high school memory.

High school wasn't the best time of my life. I think if I had to choose a favorite memory, it would be right after I broke up with my first boyfriend. My brother actually took me out for a night(first and last time). He was (and is) a man of few words, but that seemingly simple action showed me exactly how much he cared about me.

If you could meet three people, alive or dead, who would they be?

Well, many of the people I want to meet, I know I'll meet in Heaven. So, I'm going to go with people I'm not sure I'll meet there. Thomas Jefferson, Jane Austen, and Katharine Hepburn.

If money were no object, which charity would you benefit the most?

Samaritan's Purse. I'm amazed by what Franklin Graham's doing for people, particularly children, around the world who need to know Jesus. If you're not familiar with the ministry, please check it out. Request the Christmas catalog. It's one of our favorite familiy traditions.

Okay...if anyone's brave enough to be interviewed by me, let me know in the comments!


April 4, 2007

75 Things about Me- UPDATED

UPDATED: September 2010

In the good old blog tradition, I'm doing 75 things about me (I couldn't think of 100 I'd be willing to share!)

1. I'm a list-maker.
2. Which comes in handy for this task!
3. I've got an older brother.
4. And a younger sister.
5. That puts me in the middle.
6. I was NOT the classic overlooked middle child.
7. But growing up, I thought I was.
8. I don't know my biological father.
9. I have a great dad.
10. When I was in high school, I wanted to go to college
11. But I ended up going to college
12. I made the right choice for me.
13. I came back to my hometown after college.
14. I planned to move away.
15. 17 years later, I'm still here. It's been 20 years now.
16. When I was a teenager, I thought I was proud atheist.
17. I was really a blasphemer.
18. God had other plans for me.
19. He grabbed my heart at 24.
20. I accepted His grace and forgiveness at 28.
21. I can't believe He died for me.
22. I'm so glad He did.
23. Because I'm going to Heaven.
24. And I can thank Him in person.
25. I'm married to my best friend.
26. I love spending time with him.
27. I don't deserve him.
28. I have a beautiful daughter.
29. I don't deserve her, either.
30. I could read "Pride and Prejudice" once a year & still love it.
31. It's my favorite book ever.
32. I wish I were as spunky as Eliza Bennett.
33. But I'm not.
34. I love roller coasters.
35. And snow.
36. And coffee.
37. And good friends.
38. And Motown.
39. And Frank Sinatra.
40. I'm not really a cryer. I've probably cried more in the last year than in my entire life.
41. That doesn't mean I don't care.
42. I am not patient. At all.
43. God's working on that one.
44. I'm the tallest female on either side of my family.
45. I'm only 5'6".
46. My favorite Gospel is Luke.
47. My favorite Old Testament book is Joshua.
48. I've never seen "Willie Wonka & The Chocolate Factory".
49. I don't feel deprived.
50. I have a weakness for chocolate.

51. Especially Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. Not so much anymore.
52. And Thin Mint Girl Scout cookies. See #51.
53. I can tell you which episode of "M*A*S*H" is airing within 30 seconds of its start.
54. I still watch it almost every night. Not much of a TV watcher anymore.
55. I'd rather watch Food Network than just about anything else on TV. The exception to #54.
56. I'm not a great cook. Actually, I started cooking more in the last year, & my family loves it.
57. I keep hoping I'll learn by watching. I have.
58. Or reading one of the many, many cookbooks I own. I don't have so many anymore.
59. I'm an avid reader.
60. Though I don't have much time for it. But I make time.
61. I don't have a green thumb.
62. But I keep trying. Turned that over to my husband & daughter.
63. I like the beach in 3 seasons.
64. Summer isn't one of them.
65. I get sunburned faster than anyone I know.
66. I stay inside a lot.
67. I'm a big sports fan.
68. I'm not athletic.
69. I wanted to be a lawyer when I grew up.
70. I'm a paralegal instead.
71. And a Southern Living at Home consultant. And the wife of a full-time student.
72. I co-teach an adult Sunday School class. Now it's youth girls.
73. I'm amazed anyone would listen to what I have to say.
74. Or read what I write.
75. But I do it for Him. And that's what counts.


April 3, 2007


Actual 3rd-graders' conversation in the back seat of my SUV this weekend...

H: I've decided I'm not ready for a boyfriend yet.

CJ: Me, either. I'm not going to have a boyfriend until I'm in college.

H: Why?

CJ: Because if you find a boyfriend now, you'll just find a cuter one in high school. So, I'm going to wait.

She's making her Mama so proud!


Praying Down the House

“Mama, this is the most important thing I’ve ever gotten!” CJ exclaimed. She was so excited because a missionary couple from our church had put together a prayer board just for her … various pictures of the couple and the countries they are going to minister in. On the back, they had written a special note to let CJ know how important her prayers are to them. CJ’s fascination with this couple and their upcoming mission has touched their hearts, as well as mine. Though she was faithful to pray for them before, I have no doubt this is going to kick her prayer life into overdrive.

God has given CJ an amazing gift of prayer. When she hears a prayer need, she doesn’t just say “I’ll be praying for you” and then forget it. She has a genuine interest in whatever she is praying for, and is consistent in her prayers until the need is met. Oh, how I wish I had such a heart for prayer! Too often, I commit to pray for a need, and then tuck it into the back of my brain … where it is soon forgotten.

Jesus spent a lot of time talking to His disciples about the power of prayer. One of those conversations is our third 40 by 40 verse:

"If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer."
- Matthew 21:22

After the Resurrection, the disciples finally started to realize the truth of His teaching. We may find ourselves judging them for their lack of faith, but do we really believe that prayer is the key to the Kingdom of Heaven? If so, why aren’t we praying more and complaining less? We have the assurance that if we ask in God’s will, it shall be accomplished. Our prayers can release angels of Heaven to carry out God’s plan, and can keep Satan’s army at bay. In their note to CJ, the missionaries reminded her that her prayers can take Jesus to people on the other side of the world. God is listening. Why aren’t we asking?

Beyond our petitions, prayer is a time to discover God’s purpose for our lives. We can relax in the freedom of being our true selves and revel in His extravagant love. In prayer, we experience His presence in a way nothing else can match. When CJ was 3, she once told me that we can touch God. Then she held out her hands, closed her eyes, and said “Let’s touch Him now.” I’ll never forget that moment for as long as I live.

The enemy is attacking as never before. He is trying to frustrate us and make us ineffective Kingdom workers. We are surrounded by moral decay, pain and suffering. The only way we can stand is to hit our knees. Isn’t it time to get serious about prayer?

The prayer board will find a place of honor in our home. Although the gift was meant for CJ, God has used it to prick my heart. Not only will the board remind CJ that her prayers are important … it will remind her mother that a strong prayer life is vital. I’m ready to release some angels … aren’t you?


P.S. - As of this morning, I'm exactly 7 pounds lighter! :-)
I'll post this week's 40 by 40 tonight. In the meantime, how are you doing on your first two verses?


April 1, 2007

40 by 40 Scriptures

"Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them." --Deuteronomy 4:9

"I tell you, " he replied, "if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out."-- Luke 19:40

"If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer." -- Matthew 21:22

"What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?" -Romans 6:1-2

He makes me lie down in green pastures,
He leads me beside quiet waters,
He restores my soul. --Psalm 23:2-3

"For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them." -- Ephesians 2:10

The Lord your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing. -Zephaniah 3:17

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight. - Proverbs 3:5-6

Jesus replied, "If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching.My father will love him, and we will come to him and make our homewith him." -John 14:23