Thursday, July 31, 2008

I Found God in the Movies: Dead Poet's Society

In college, I had a movie writing assignment - to write about the theme as it pertains to teaching (my major) in a movie of our choosing. One of my all-time favorites is Dead Poet's Society with Robin Williams, Robert Sean Leonard, Ethan Hawke, and Josh Charles; that was the film I chose for my essay.

How interesting that I would revisit this for The God Blog. It wasn't a "religious" movie, specifically - but the central theme revolved around discovering the beliefs and values you consider important... and then standing up for them. There was a quote from this movie that has always stuck with me... Not the "Carpe Diem" (Seize the day!) that Robin Williams' character, John Keating, was known to say... Not Captain, My Captain quoted by his students. This was just one more truism that Mr. Keating spoke - and it had a big impact on me.

He says...

You must strive to find your own voice,
because the longer you wait to begin...
the less likely you are to find it at all.

Your own voice. Do you have one?

Do you hold fast to your beliefs or do you cave under the pressure to fit in with those around you? Do you mimic the voices of others... never taking a stand for yourself? Are you silenced by the fear that people will make fun of you? Or are you just too lazy to take a stand on what you know is right?

Perhaps your voice is mumbled and muffled so that YOU won't be the one making waves or causing "discord?" Perhaps you don't have a voice at all. The platform of "no opinion" is certainly an easy and safe place on which to stand.

But the longer you wait to find what you believe in... the longer you stall on truly finding the lines you will not cross... the less likely you are to find your Voice at all. Your voice will become muted - dwarfed by the larger voices speaking out around you - and others will speak for you... instead of you speaking for yourself. When it comes to your faith... can you really afford to be silent?

Your own voice. Do you have one? And does your voice echo the voice of God?

God gave His people free will because He wants us to use it. He wants us to make choices and honor Him with our decisions. The tricky part for us is that often using our voice to glorify God brings condemnation from others. The Bible even tells us this:

"When people realize it is the living God you are presenting and not some idol that makes them feel good, they are going to turn on you, even people in your own family. There is a great irony here: proclaiming so much love, experiencing so much hate! But don't quit. Don't cave in. It is all well worth it in the end. It is not success you are after in such times but survival. Be survivors! Before you've run out of options, the Son of Man will have arrived.
~Matthew 10:21-23

If you haven't seen Dead Poet's Society, I HIGHLY recommend it. It's one that will stick with you - just as Mr. Keating's teachings did with his pupils. The boys in Mr. Keating's class found their Voice; they learned to think for themselves again... to stand up for their their beliefs - even in the face of disciplinary action, even in the face of great personal loss:

Can you imagine the changes in your life if the voice you find within yourself glorifies God? Mr. Keating climbs upon his classroom desk and says, "I stand upon my desk to remind myself that we must constantly look at things in a different way." Standing up for God, the Bible, and Christianity - even if others roll their eyes at you and say "That's crazy..." or even if the herd brays "That's baaaaaaad," - needs to be one of the components in the Voice you speak. God stood up for you when he allowed His Son to sacrifice Himself for all of mankind. Isn't using your voice to stand up for God the very least you can do?

Mr. Keating shouts to his students:

In my class, you will learn to think for yourselves again!...
And as the powerful play of life goes on, YOU will contribute a verse...!

In a sea of millions of people in this world - all contributing a verse to the overall play of life, what will your verse say? How will your verse stand out from all the rest?

Speak. I'd like to hear your voice... especially if you leave a comment on this blog! :)


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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Karaoke Tuesday: "This Is Your Life" by Switchfoot

What's on your iPod?
Mine is packed with everything from Christian contemporary to Rock... Techno to Broadway musicals... 70's to 2000's... some grunge... some heavy metal... some bubblegum pop. I know all of the words to Metalica's Nothing Else Matters, Paula Abdul's Cold-Hearted Snake AND the entire High School Musical soundtrack... And I've found in writing this blog, that you never know where you'll find Divine inspiration!

This week's song is This Is Your Life by Switchfoot. It asks a simple question:
This is your life. Are you who you want to be?

WOW... that actually makes me feel... uncomfortable...

It's not asking "Are you WHERE you want to be?" "Where" would imply some status or accomplishment that I could easily shrug off with a careless, "Yes, I want to publish a book one day, but I've got time, right?"-kind of answer. Or "Sure... I might go back to teaching.. Who knows?"

Asking me "WHO I want to be" is an entirely different matter altogether...

Who DO I want to be, anyway?
I want to be honest.
I want to be funny - I love to make people laugh.
I want to be free of worrying about what people think of me.
I want to be a good mother... no... a GREAT mother.
I want to be a loving wife and best friend to my husband.
I want to be caring. I want to think of others ahead of myself.
I want to do right by my family.
I want to be thought of as "Christian."

Am I all of those things? Wellllllll... sometimes? Some days, I'm lucky if I achieve even half that! And although each day I start fresh trying to be those things, I know that my own pride, or arrogance, or preoccupation with my own activites often gets in the way of just WHO I want to be.

And each "failed" day builds up on me... weighing me down with it's garbage. That pile of regrets, and apologies, and guilt just builds higher and higher until it knocks me off of the path I've been trying to follow.

Switchfoot reminds us that "Yesterday is dead and over" - implying an alternative: to let go of the baggage and garbage that clouds our minds and hearts. That's easier sung about than actually done, isn't it?! But it just so happens that there IS a way to dump that garbage out of our souls:

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened,
and I will give you rest. ~Matthew 11:28

God knows that often we either come running to him shrieking "HELLLLPP MEEEE!" or come crawling to him crying in our exhaustion and despair. Fortunately, He scoops us right up and offers us comfort from the terrors or troubles that have knocked us down. With his ever-renewing Band-Aids of "forgiveness," He picks us back up and walks with us through our bumpy journey of life.
But he can't do our LIVING for us.
We are free to make our own decisions and our own mistakes. And it's those mistakes that sometimes have us looking back over our life wondering "What-in-the-Hades happened to me?! This is my life?!?! Are you serious?!" It is at that point where we must grab on to that free will God has provided us, and make some choices that put us back onto the path God intended for us to follow.
This IS your life: Are you who you want to be?
And if not, what are you going to do about it?

The Lyrics
Song: This Is Your Life
Artist: Switchfoot
Album: The Beautiful Letdown
Hear it on Last.FM!
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Monday, July 28, 2008

I Found God In My Heart - Part 2

My story today is fairly UNrelated to the original "I Found God In My Heart" post, but since it involves "hearts," what else would I title it...? :)

My 4-year old is currently fixated on "floods" - He continually asks if it is going to flood, if it might flood, if it will flood, and other translations of the same question. At first I thought he was just afraid of thunderstorms, but his questions got more insistent (requiring a better answer than my standard "Um-Hm" or "Uh-uh,") AND often came in the middle of a sunny day. When he finally mentioned God, I realized he was fixated on the Noah's Ark story and the BIG flood.

I try to explain that God isn't going to flood the world again. My mother-in-law even helpfully reminded him about the rainbow and God's promise and all that. But he was still whining about drowning in a flood, and I was distracted trying to check email or something - so I said something uber-helpful like "You just have to listen to your heart when God is talking and hear him tell you that he won't flood the world again."

Nice answer, Mom.

He's 4.

He takes things literally.

The next thing I know, my son is contorted into some strange position on the sofa.. head all twisted up and cock-eyed. I start laughing and ask him what he is doing, to which he replies, "I'm trying to put my ear on my heart to listen to what God is saying in there!"


This reminded me that children - especially young children take just about everything literally. We sing so many fun Bible songs - many about Jesus being IN our hearts. You ever wonder how the kids take that? Because they are so trusting, do you think they envision a mini-Jesus walking around inside their bodies?

It makes me giggle... what their young minds might conjure up... but at least the idea is planted in their minds. And, as they grow older, hopefully, they will transition from the idea that there is an actual person inside their hearts to FEELING God filling their hearts and souls with His love, His Word, and His guidance.

Jesus replied: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart
and with all your soul and with all your mind.
This is the first and greatest commandment." Matthew 22:36-38

Following God's greatest commandment will allow the Lord to guide and protect my children - and allow them to accomplish all of the great plans He has for them...

... But until then... I'm going to have to be a little clearer on how I explain things... otherwise, my son is going to be permanently bent up like a pretzel! :)

Hug a little one today,
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Friday, July 25, 2008

Not Cursed After All, They're Jesus Pants!

I ran a load of whites last night - included was the pair of cursed pants that I wrote about earlier this month. When the wash finished, I opened the door and my heart sank because inside was my husband's pair of Ray-Ban sunglasses.

After the rough-n-tumble spin cycle, they were scratched and cracked, a lens was out, and a few small slivers of lens glass were scattered through the clothes. I pulled out the frames and dug around for the missing lens; I felt badly for my husband who had recently purchased these - they were definitely ruined.

Apparently, as I was scavenging for the lens, I cut my finger on the edge. But I did not notice this as I transferred all of the whites to the dryer (I'm just going on the assumption that the filter will snag any stray pieces of glass... that's a good plan, right?!) By the time I got upstairs and handed my husband his demolished sunglasses, I noticed that my hand had blood all over it. No problem - wash off the cut finger, add a Band-Aid. We're good.

This morning, I opened up the dryer to get out the whites. The first item I pull out is the cursed pants... and I see big blobs of blood ALL over them. My eyes widen in panic -

I realize that when I transferred the clothes to the dryer, my bleeding finger must have dripped blood all over my pants. My mind races as I pull out the other things:

  • my husbands nice khaki shorts,
  • two pairs of my favorite khaki shorts,
  • 5 pairs of kids' shorts,
  • lots of socks,
  • and an assortment of underwear.






W O W. There wasn't any blood on the other clothes... just on the cursed pants. I laugh, at first, thinking, "well, of course, these particular pants would get stained with blood that was now set in with the heat from the dryer... that's the way these pants work, right?!" But then I started thinking some more... I had handled ALL of the other clothes -and by the time I got upstairs and realized that I'd been cut, there was a lot of blood. Why didn't the other clothes get ruined too?

And then I realized something:

I have misjudged the pants.

I don't think my pants are cursed. I think they are sacrificial pants... They are Jesus pants. Just as Jesus offered himself up to take the sin and stains from all of humanity, my supposed "cursed" pants seemingly throw themselves in front of stains and guard the rest of my clothes from damage.

I know you are grinning right now - and I promise you that I'm not really believing that my cotton, over-bleached, cargo Capri's have a literal mind of their own, BUT this blog is about finding God in everyday, ordinary life - and from this event on, my "Jesus Pants" will now remind me of His sacrifice every day that I wear them.

You've got to appreciate God and His sense of humor - and that he often has divine and unusual ways of getting a message to you. My message today came via a pair of pants. I love these pants! :)

Hope your day and your laundry is bright and unstained!
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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Karaoke Tuesday: "Sweetly Broken" by Jeremy Riddle

Rounding out my top 3 favorite Christian songs ever is Sweetly Broken by Jeremy Riddle.

This song is about giving up your tight-fisted control of your life and giving your life over to God. Surrendering your mind, heart, and soul to the One who sacrificed His only Son for the people He loved so much. Just as Jesus was "bruised" and "crushed" physically on the cross, we also are brusied and crushed down by life's circumstances and happenings. It is so easy to cling tightly to that control we so desperately want to have... but sometimes, life does spin hopelessly OUT of control, and the only solution is to release your burdens unto God. Like my youngest son often sings (from a song he learned in Sunday School), "Our God is a big, big God...! Our God is a big, big God!" Fortunately, because Our God IS a big, big God, He can handle it! :)

Here are the lyrics.  The individual song isn't on Last.FM, but a great slideshow set to the song is: You can view it here.

Song: Sweetly Broken
Artist: Jeremy Riddle
Album: Sweetly Broken
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Sunday, July 20, 2008

I Found God In A Bucket of White Rice...

We ordered Chinese food the other night for dinner. My 7-year-old son only wanted "the biggest thing of white rice they have, Mommy!" Feeling relieved that he, at least, was being agreeable to the dinner selection (it's not his favorite), I order a large steamed rice - and of course, it comes in the standard 5-inch paper container. Jack was totally annoyed with me... sure that I must've ordered a small because this container just can't be big ENOUGH to be a LARGE...!

We scoop a humungous portion on his plate which he eats.

He then eats a second enormous blob of rice.

He works on a third mound of steamed rice, and then looks inside the container only to see that it is still OVER HALF FULL of white rice. He then proclaims:
"Momma! It's like the loaves and the fishes!!
God just keeps filling up this bucket of rice!"

Now THAT was an excellent response!! My son honored God first. As much as I might have liked to have heard "Wow, Mom - you were right, this was more than enough rice to order!" (Yeah... right... I wasn't holding my breath!), Jack's first thought was that God had provided more than enough for him. (I think he still believed that I had ordered a small... and God was refilling it as fast as he could eat it!)

In surfing around the Internet for some other commentaries on the story of the loaves and the fish, I stumbled upon an excellent post by the Troy Schmidt - Indy Writer Guy. In it, he explains a simple Truth about God:

God will provide practically, but not necessarily extravagantly. The key for us is to appreciate what we receive and recognize it came from God. My family knows Matthew 6 very well. We quote it. We believe it. We hang on to it for our dear lives. In all my years, God has not broken this promise. To live with this verse at the core of my being, I had to understand these statements:
  1. It may not be what I want, but it is what I need.
  2. It may not arrive when I want, but it arrives in time.
  3. It may not come to me how I want, but it comes nonetheless.

We must set aside our expectations and expect only God's promise.
This promise comes with an expectation on our part, though. We must seek Him first. God doesn't provide for everyone, all the time. Only those that follow him.

Recently, my husband, David, spoke with a friend about the stresses of being the sole breadwinner to our family - and how being the "only one" to provide (monetarily) can be mind-numbing. His friend stopped him and replied, "But you aren't the 'only one.' GOD is the One providing for your family... he's just working through you to do it. He will provide for your family no matter what job of yours he uses to do it..."

What a shift in perspective!!

I've noticed a change in my husband's mood since that talk. When he feels stresses at work, he reminds himself that God will provide for our family and will place him in the right spot to carry out His plans. The burden does not rest soley on David's shoulders - God has made a promise to help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes (Matthew 6:34 - The Message). And like Mr. Schmidt says in his own article, "God does not break His promises!"

My son was thankful to God for providing him with enough rice to stuff himself silly. More importantly, he offered praise to the One who provided this treat. Now God provides for our simple and complex needs every day... Have you taken a moment to say thanks? My son was thrilled with the abundance of plain, steamed, white rice... Haven't you received at least a few bigger provisions for which God should get at least a simple thank you? :)

--> To read the full article by Troy Schmidt, visit this link: It's a great read!!
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Friday, July 18, 2008

Questions I Can't Answer... Pre-destination vs. Free Will

My mind was wandering, and I ended up with a question that I cannot answer. Perhaps you have a thought on this? Let me start with the beginning...

I had gotten an email (that usually circulates in September) about 9/11 and a poem about "Where Was God?" You can read the poem here - but in a nutshell the author pointed out all of the places that God WAS... calming the airplane passengers, discouraging people from heading in to work, holding up the Twin Towers an extra 1/2 hour to allow more people to escape, carrying 3000+ people to Heaven, trying to comfort those who had lost loved ones, etc...

Then my mind wandered to that little boy I wrote about a couple of months ago - Joey - who had died of cancer. He was only four years old. And my mind settled on my niece, Julia, who lived for only 6 days.

And then my mind started in on the idea of God knowing where we will be and what we will doing at any given point of our lives - and how this relates to the idea of "free will." I find it hard to reconcile the two ideas... that if God already knows what we will be doing, how can we have the free will to choose it?

All of that tied together with this question:

Is it possible that our life span has been pre-determined from the moment of our conception?
That the reason God knows where we will be is that our physical time on earth (years, months, days, minutes) is already set when we are born? Yet, within that time, we are free to make our own decisions - God just knows what all we need to accomplish in our lifetime?

As you can see, my mind was really busy this day!!

In Joey's case, was it already determined by God that Joey's life would be 4 short years - that that was the time needed for Joey to accomplish all of the things he needed to do in this life? And that even if cancer had not sent him to Heaven, some other end would have come around the same time?

In my case, was the reason that I did not die from a brain tumor (nope... haven't blogged about that yet... but never fear, it's coming!), was because it simply wasn't my time yet? That the time I rode in a car going 110 MPH on the back roads of Oxford, Ohio did not results in my death by a massive traffic accident because again, it wasn't my time? That the time when I rode my bike on a busy street (read: an almost-highway) when I was nine did not result in me being squished by a semi-truck because I still had more to do in this life?

That people can do all sorts of whacked-out, daredevil things and not be killed because dying at that particular moment would leave their life unfinished? That I could skydive, go bungee-jumping, or cliff-diving and I would be absolutely safe from dying... UNLESS it was my pre-determined time to go anyway?? That you physically cannot and will not end your life one second before "your time" - because God will intervene to push you on a different path.

When a child dies... or a young person, people always comment at their funeral that they "died too early." At other funerals, people shake their heads and say, "It was their time... what can you do?" What if the latter is true? What if it was exactly their time to go? And all of the treatments or alternate decisions would not have changed the outcome in the least?
And if this is true... does it matter?

Well... in terms of how you life your life? No. You still go on day after day, living life to the fullest, making the most of each day, living in as much of a Christ-like manner as you can. Because regardless, each of us does not know the exact day and time we will leave this Earth - and brooding about that fact will not do us any favors.

But, in terms of how you deal with the death of a loved one - perhaps it could make all the difference...?

Perhaps it could ease the mind of a person plagued with the "if only" laments...

IF ONLY I hadn't let them go on that trip alone...
IF ONLY I had warned them about that...
IF ONLY we had found another treatment option...
IF ONLY we'd gotten a third opinion...

If knowing that nothing they could have done would have changed the timeline of their loved one's life, maybe then, they could spare themselves from some of the blame and guilt.

Like I titled this post, I do not have any answers to these questions... just musings from an ordinary girl trying to eat from the Tree of Knowledge (and we all know where that got Eve!)... When I get to Heaven, I want to take all of the classes:
  • The REAL Missing Link: Reconciling Creation and Evolution
  • Cloud-Building 101,
  • the Why Do Children Have to Suffer Anything elective,
  • the Unicorns Never Made It Onto The Ark: Fact or Fiction class
  • The Purpose of Mosquitos
I want to eat from the Tree of Knowledge until I am stuffed full... packed with all of the answers to the earthly questions that eluded me. I'm hoping that once we're in Heaven, that tree is part of the Heavenly Buffet!

Until then, I'm going to hope that my life is long, and full, and happy - and do my best to make it the best while I'm here. Thanks for reading this - and if you have any answers, PLEASE click on "post a comment" and leave me a note!


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Thursday, July 17, 2008

I Found God In the "Jack" of All Questions...

My 7-year old son, Jack, out of the clear-blue-nowhere, asked me this question last week:

Mom... how do we know that we are following the right God?
What if we are following the wrong God and when we die,
he is really mad at us and sends us to Hell?


My first thought... besides the gaping silence was "B-But, I haven't blogged about this topic yet?!"

Then there was some stuttering.

Then some 20-minute-ish discussion that involved me trying to explain our faith in three different parts:

1. We ARE correct. Jesus DID live, die, and rise again. And scholars and pastors like Pastor Tom (our pastor) have gone to school for a long time to learn about this and to feel fairly "scientific-ish" with facts about why they believe what they preach.

2. Even if we were wrong, by following the Bible we are doing good things - and I think that just about every other religion out there says that doing good works will get you into Heaven... so even if we are wrong, with a lifetime of "good things," we'd be a shoo-in for their Heaven anyway.

3. Faith is exactly that... FAITH. Believing with all your heart, mind, and soul that which cannot be seen. Seeing is not believing... but rather, believing allows you to "see."

Can you spell c-o-n-f-u-s-i-n-g ?!?!

I know my answers were choppy and convoluted at best... I was completely caught off guard, for sure! But the conversation pointed out to me (again!) that our children are totally paying attention to what's going on at church and what is modeled to them. My son is only 7 - yet he is craving answers to BIG questions... some questions to which others might spend a lifetime searching for answers.

It also was a lesson to me -that I needed to get an even firmer grasp on the how's and why's of my own faith. Of all the people in the world I need to be able to witness to successfully, my two sons are at the TOP of the list!! Their questions are only going to get harder... and I need to be ready with some serious answers.

First stop... the answer key.... a.k.a. The Bible. All of the things I need my children to know are probably in this book... and to be honest, I have not read it all. Sure, I've read bits and pieces - chapters here and there. I've looked up passages for Bible studies and, of course, for this blog. I've listened to certain verses expounded upon in Sunday sermons or in Sunday School. But I have never sat down with my Bible and read it - like all of the other books I've curled up to read, this one I've warily danced around - toting it to and from church, but not really getting "into" it.

Well that stops now. Today is the Genesis of my reading... and because I'm OCD, I'll start at the beginning. I'll keep you posted on what I find... *wink*

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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

I Found God In My Blackberry...

Phone Shocker I have a new phone... a Blackberry Pearl... and not much else makes me happier than a new tech toy!! Chatty I've had this phone for about 2 months - enough to figure out how to use about 75% of it, and one of the features is the calendar. I can fill in the calendar either on my phone (slow!) or in Microsoft Outlook (much faster!) and sync the two together. I've discovered that my phone will "chime" about 15 minutes before any activity or event that I've logged into the phone - alerting me to the fact that I'm supposed to be somewhere or doing something in just a few moments.

My husband's phone displays his calendar as well... but I notice that he is more weary when checking his calendar... the resigned sighs as he looks over the meetings in his workday... the heavy eyelids as he grapples with the amount of work he needs to accomplish that day...

...And, I started to wonder about God's Blackberry... it must be chiming ALL of the time!! There must be rings and alerts going off every second... sometimes many simulataneously!

Alarm Clock Chime! - Appt. with Mary and family today at 8AM - she's having a mastectomy.
Alarm Clock Ring! - Divorce Care Group meets at 7PM
Alarm Clock Ding! Ding! Ding! - Church services... just about everywhere... Sunday...8AM... 9AM...11AM...
Alarm Clock Alert! - Little Jimmy fell in the well!
Alarm Clock Buzz! - 7,043 families have requested travel mercies this week

Does God ever roll over some morning (does He ever sleep? And does he have a Westin Hotel "Heavenly Bed?") look at his Blackberry and just sigh, "Today is going to be a b-u-s-y day..." Some days, there are HUGE catastrophes in the world... plane crashes, tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, terrorists, train derailments... events where there are mass-casualties, and MANY people are calling out for mercy, or help, or in despair, or pain all at once.

The idea that our God can handle all of these major events - events with hundreds or thousands of people calling out for help at the same time - should help us rest easy that our God can also handle our small issues... our "smaller" prayers for help in the day-to-day tasks of our life. God says "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." (Matthew 11:28) He does NOT say "Come to me... those of you with 'big' problems..." - but rather He invites us ALL to come to Him with our burdens and trials.

God's Blackberry IS alerting Him to our needs all of the time... but fortunately, He does not get weary or tired of us coming to Him. He wants us to seek Him out - He craves a relationship with us, His finest creations. Your problems are neither too small nor too large for Him to handle. And once He is on your side, as it says in Philippians 4:13, "I (You!) can do all things through Christ which strengthens me." :)

This week, take one burden and pass it on to God... He's watching his Blackberry for a message from you.


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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Karaoke Tuesday: "Grace Like Rain" by Todd Agnew

As a child, I hated rainy days... it meant being trapped inside with "nothing" to do... like the sad kids watching the rain in The Cat In The Hat book, rain = boredom, in my book!

Now that I'm a "grown-up," I appreciate the pause that a rainy day might bring. Perhaps we have to cancel our busy outdoor plans and just hole up inside, watch movies all day, and be lazy bums. Considering that's one of my very favorite things to do.. a rainy day isn't looking all that bad now!! *wink*

I look at rain with a new perspective now because one of my other favorite songs is Todd Agnew's Grace Like Rain. Here are the lyrics.

It is such a comfort to know that for all of the mistakes I make (daily!) and for all of the sins I accumulate (many!), God's GRACE allows me forgiveness. Like a rainstorm, there is no part of me untouched by God's grace. I am "washed clean" by his love - and so are you. That gives you a whole new perspective on a rainy day now, doesn't it?! :)

Grace Like Rain is one of the ones that plays on this blog, but you can also hear it here on Last.FM.

Revel in the grace that God gives you, and have a great day!


Song: Grace Like Rain
Artist: Todd Agnew
Album: Grace Like Rain
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Wednesday, July 9, 2008

I Found God in Battery Back-Up...

At seven o'clock last night, just as my kids were getting ready to watch Tom & Jerry, thunderstorms came in, and we lost power.

This is a catastrophe in kid-land for two big reasons:

  1. As I've written before, my kids are the human version of Tom & Jerry... therefore they must be able to watch this show to see how to beat and poke each other most effectively. (please notice the sarcasm)
  2. At seven o'clock, I relish this brief 1/2 hour of peace... because my kids are watching Tom & Jerry, I can check email or do some other techie-thing without a kid interrupting me.

But when there is no power, we lose the lights, the TV, the desktop computer, video games, DVR, and all other electronic devices.

However... Mommy has a laptop... with a battery.

So when the kids converge into the den in panic:

"Why are the lights out?"

"Is there a tornado?"

"I'm scared!"

"How can we watch Tom & Jerry?!"

"WHY is your computer still on?!?!?!" aNGERED

I tell them that Mommy's computer has a battery back-up that allows it to work even without power... that they'll just have to (gasp!) play with toys until the lights return... that obviously God didn't want them to watch TV at this moment - otherwise He wouldn't have struck out the lights... (No... I'm kidding!! I didn't say that last part, I promise!). :)

Fortunately, it's summer and 7PM means that with the windows open, there is still plenty of sunlight left with which to see. But at other times, no power can mean we are all plunged into darkness... with no light to guide our way. And the darkness IS scary... even for grown-ups.

And it got me thinking about God... and how he always has a battery back-up. God is always available to us... even in our darkest hours. If we are lonely, in some tornado of chaos or calamity, or weathering the storms of everyday life, God is there with open arms and a flashlight to guide our way.

1 John 1:6 says God is light, pure light; there's not a trace of darkness in him. So surely... at our darkest moments... God... THE MOST POWERFUL BEING IN THE UNIVERSE... can provide us with the light and comfort needed to get us through the tough times.

Turn to Him. When you are lost... When you are scared... When you are lonely... When you are weary. When you are at your darkest place, God can guide you back into His warmth and light. All you have to do is ask. Just like my battery back-up, His light is always on.


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Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Karaoke Tuesday: "Here I Am" by Shawn McDonald

I'm starting a new thing called "Karaoke Tuesdays!" Come and sing along with me!!

At our church, I've discovered so many awesome songs from contemporary worship bands... often I've got song titles scribbled all over my bulletin (fortunately, the worship band lists the title on the first frame of the lyric-slides... makes my song search much easier!), then when I get home, I'm loading up iTunes to find a version that I like!

Last year, one of our friends sang Shawn McDonald's Here I Am while he played his acoustic guitar. It was amazing!! This past Sunday, the Worship Band finally (FINALLY!!!) did the song again. Again - the power of this song ripped through the band members, the singer, and the congregation.

Here are the lyrics.

The the entire song is raw and powerful... just the song you need when you are feeling beaten-down or defeated.

Because when you are at your lowest point, God will lift you up. When you give up the tight-fisted control of your life, open your arms, mind, heart, and soul to God, He will carry through the burdens and hardships you face. You are not alone.

Take care of you this week,

You can listen to his LIVE version here at Last.FM. And you can purchase both his studio recording and his live version at iTunes.

Artist: Shawn McDonald
Song: Here I Am
Album(s): Double Take
Live in Seattle
Simply Nothing
Scattered Pieces (live version)

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Monday, July 7, 2008

I Found God In Some Cursed Pants...

I have these cargo-style, khaki Capri's that I just love. They are comfortable... They wash well... I don't have to iron them. They don't need a belt. They match anything. They have extra pockets - including one along the side of the left knee that can hold an entire standard-sized paperback novel! These pants are great! I wish I had bought more of them... but I don't even remember where I got them... possibly off the clearance rack at Kohl's (which would add another "plus" to these pants... CHEAP!).

But these pants are cursed.

No matter where I wear them... or for how long... I will spill something on them... some sauce or condiment that will not wash out with a normal washing... or even with Spray-N-Wash! The first time I wore them, I dribbled honey mustard on the leg. Honey Mustard does NOT come out easily! Four washings later.... a bottle of Shout, a bottle of Spray-N-Wash, the Carbona Stain Wipes, and finally bleach (which tinted the khaki into a creamy-white vs. a light-khaki brown), and I had my pants ready to wear without a stain.

Then came ketchup...

Then oil from our favorite Italian restaurant...

Then chocolate kisses from my 4-year old...

Then mud...

Then grease...

The pants have been bleached so many times... eventually, they might fall to pieces right off of my legs!

But still I wear them.
And still I stain them.
And still I continue to bleach them out - erasing the stains...

Isn't this a lot like our relationship with SIN and God? Like the cursed pants, we are susceptible to stains - aka "sin." Every day, we start out fresh... and if you are like me, you might make it through breakfast "stain"-free. But eventually, something will happen in the day, and my good intentions become moot when I sin in some way or another.

Thankfully, God has a powerful, all-purpose cleaner called "Forgiveness." You cannot buy it at a store... in fact, this Forgiveness has already been paid for... so it is available to you at my favorite price of "FREE!" - and without an extra cost for shipping & handling! To receive Forgiveness, all you need to do is ASK God for it! Tell God for what stain you are requiring Forgiveness, and He will expedite delivery of the Forgiveness! Viola! Your stain will be erased! You will be back to your old fresh and clean self!

There is a graphic with a prayer that makes me laugh every time I see it... largely because I can identify with it so well! I don't have the original author (so if you know it, please leave it in the comments so I can give proper credit!), but here it is:

The trick with Forgiveness is in the ASKING for it. The recognition that you have sinned... that you cannot eliminate this stain by yourself... The submitting to God and acknowledging that it is only with His Forgiveness will you be made clean. People screw up all of the time! God knows and understands this! He knows that there is no amount of "good works" or "penance" that people can ever do that will negate all of the dumb decisions we make on a daily basis! So He sent his only Son to Earth... to live and die for each and everyone one of us. It gave us a lifetime supply of this soul-cleanser called Forgiveness... and I, for one, am grateful for it!

Fortunately, unlike the pants... I am not cursed... I am forgiven.

Have a blessed day,

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Tuesday, July 1, 2008

I Found God in a Calculator...

I've found it...!
The meaning of life...
The point of our being...
The key to lifelong peace!

And it's not a long paragraph... or a thick volume... It's a numeric code!
The secret to life-long peace is as simple as a 6-digit code...!

Do you have your calculators handy? A cell-phone? Heck - you can even do this with a piece of paper and a pencil...

Are you ready for the ultimate answer?

Okay... take a deep breath... write this number down (or type it into your calcular or cell phone):

Write the digits close together... almost touching each other. Use straight lines for your one's, and round your five's a bit so there aren't such sharp corners.


Are you ready for this?

Now... turn your calcular (or cell-phone... or paper) upside down. Unfocus your eyes and read the code:

Isn't it funny how things we feel will be quite complicated... are really quite simple?

If you try to live your life the way Jesus did...
...being kind to everyone... even the "losers,"
...loving one another, FOR others,
...working hard,
...being authentic, honest, and true,

Then you will find life-long peace, you will find the point to your being, and you will find the "meaning" of life.

You don't have to make it harder than it really is... Jesus did not arrive on this earth with a parade... from start to finish, he led a simple, sinless life and worked miracles. While we cannot expect to be "sinless" - sometimes a simple act of kindness to another person can work miracles in its own way. Jesus was friendly and loving to all who came to Him... do we act in the same manner?

WWJD is not just a bracelet... it's a way of life.

Have a blessed day,

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