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Middle Age Ramblings



Thoughts of a true Texas woman on a variety of subjects-children, family, God, country



Updated: 2017-07-23T02:57:16.677-05:00

 



Review of Noah: A Wordless Picture Book by Mark Lundy

2014-10-27T17:30:00.715-05:00

Noah:  A Wordless Picture Book by Mark Lundy is a picture book about Noah and the building of the Ark.  However, to call it just a picture book is a huge understatement.  The artwork is simply stunning!  You can see fine details down to the curls in the hair on a hand and that detail carries through every aspect of the book.  I could hear the words of the very familiar story as I looked at the pictures throughout.  Mr. Lundy's attention to detail in the art work is amazing.  I do have questions about some of the pictures as to the accuracy and I think some license was taken to add to the story.  I'm not sure all of the details in some of those pictures (i.e. - what appear to be Roman soldiers on horseback, dinosaurs that were not included on the ark when the rains started) should be included but a child could tell the story from the pictures.  I believe an older child could tell the story from the pictures, if they know the story to begin with but I'm not sure a young child, which is typically the audience for a picture book, would be able to tell the story or even begin to understand the details of the event.


DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy in exchange for my review from The Plough Publishing House publicist, Handlebar. Opinions are solely my own and I was not compensated for this review.(image)



The Move

2012-11-06T13:58:29.168-06:00

Since the last post, we have uprooted, moved to the northeast part of the state, been unemployed (me - not my spouse!), welcomed our 3rd grandchild, purchased a small parcel of earth and started on the next chapter of life! My spouse reminded me today that I needed to be writing some of this down. I'm not sure if it's documentation he wants or blackmail material. Just kidding!  I have started a new blog - Bar M Country (www.barmcountry.blogspot.com) to chronicle my adventures into this new world!  I am so excited as we embark on this new journey and hope to show the beauty of the land but also convey the responsibility of stewardship we have to take care of the resources. 

If you have a hankerin to read about my adventures (or misadventures), check it out.  I will be adding pictures and maybe even a few "how-to" videos from time to time.  Thanks so much.  "Happy Trails!"(image)



Vows-Part II

2012-02-16T07:28:28.550-06:00

The previous post was about my sister and brother in law and how they have lived out their wedding vows during their 30 years of marriage.  However - our family has had the privilege (or heartache) of watching another couple endure difficult circumstances.

My husband's parents have always been very kind and considerate to me, their daughter in law, although I suspect there was some dismay at the mate their oldest son had chosen.  They never made those feelings known to me and I am very grateful for their love and support during the past 30 years. 

A few years ago, it became apparent to my mother in law and some of us close to them, that my father in law was exhibiting the early signs of dementia.  He has always been a strong man, never complaining about health problems, staying active throughout his life.  He suffered with heat stroke one summer while they were working to clean out an old barn that belonged to my mother in law's parents.  It was extremely hot and they were working very hard to get everything out.  He fell and broke his ankle but also suffered from the heat.  No one realized at the time how that would continue to affect him.

As time passed, they continued to play golf, take trips to see children or grandchildren, and occasionally family in Oklahoma.  All 3 of their children lived in Amarillo, about an hour from their hometown.  As his health declined, their children convinced them to move to Canyon as it would be closer to medical facilities and also closer to their children and their 3 youngest grandchildren.  They moved a few years ago. 

As is often the case with dementia, a major move or other traumatic event can accelerate the disease.  After their move, the symptoms did worsen.  They continued to play golf, go to church and attend grandchildren's events, but my mother in law had to be watchful of my father in law's movements-be sure she knew where he was, etc.  It was easy for him to get disoriented, which was not normal for him.  He was always one of those guys who could navigate anywhere without getting lost (his oldest son is very much like him). In the beginning, my father in law might go out for a walk, but then get lost trying to get home.  Remember - they moved so he is in a strange town trying to find his way around.  Fortunately - they had both gotten cell phones and he could call for her to come get him

In all of this, I have watched my mother in law continue to live with grace and love towards her spouse.  You never hear her complain about the situation.  She may fuss about something that is said or some action but she continues to do what needs to be done.  She is confined to their home for the most part of every day.  She is able to go to church and occasionally to a grandchild's event, but does not feel she can be gone for long.  She takes care of him, helps with physical needs, continues to cook, keeps their home beautiful, and is a companion to my father in law.  Many times the actions and words from my father in law are like those of a child, but coming from an 80 year old man.  I cannot begin to understand what she has to deal with each day, but she does it with grace and beauty and love.  For their children and grandchildren, it is a beautiful example of what those vows mean - "for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health".  In August of this past year, they celebrated 55 years of marriage with all of their children and some of their grandchildren!

I consider it a true honor to be their daughter in law and hope to honor them with this post.  I love you, Mac and Helen!(image)



The Vow - Personally

2012-02-11T20:09:48.577-06:00

A movie opened this weekend that many are going to see.  It has been the discussion of Facebook posts and in many offices and other venues.  It has been in many of the previews at movies, topic of talk shows, and probably major disruption to a community in New Mexico where the couple live that the movie is based on.  It sounds like it will be a great movie to see and I am hoping to get to see it.  Wedding vows seem to be taken so much more lightly now than in the past and from what I can gather about the movie, it helps to promote what the vows actually mean.  To love, honor, and cherish until death do us part - seem to be just words without a lot of thought about the actual cost for those words.

Last weekend I was very privileged to see those words lived out, as I have seen in the past several years, but none so eloquently as the past year.  My sister's birthday was last weekend.  I had tried 3 different weekends last year, to surprise her with a visit for her birthday.  Unfortunately, the weather refused to cooperate and I finally gave up trying to make the trip.  This year the weather was cooperating so I again planned to make a surprise visit.  Last year I had communicated with her husband to make arrangements to come.  This year, I communicated with her oldest son.  The reason is that her husband and best friend was diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease) this past August.  The disease has progressed very rapidly so I was not able to speak with him to be sure everything would be okay for a surprise visit.  We have spent some time with them during the past few months and see the vow that was made 30 years ago continue to be honored and lived.  This is not the first time as life has dealt some substantial blows but they have continued to live out the vows exchanged on September 11, 1981. 

My sister is a strong, beautiful woman, inside and out.  She would be the first to state that isn't true, but those who know her see the outer beauty but even more see the character and beauty within.  She continues to honor her husband (many consider to be an outdated, unnecessary trait) with her words, her deeds, and requires her sons to do the same.  She speaks to him with a kind voice, works to understand what he is saying, and does what she can to see his needs are met.  Are there days she doesn't want to do this anymore - of course.  Are there days she just wants to run away - absolutely.  Does she do any of those?  No - she honors the vows she made so many years ago.  She does it with dignity, strength and grace every day!  I love my sister and my brother in law and it hurts to watch them have to walk this road.  But in the same breath, I see the vow lived out in their lives as do their boys and so many others around them.

The trip - it was a great surprise and we had a wonderful weekend, just hanging out and talking.  Shari - I love you and hope your know that you, Mike and your boys continue to be in our prayers daily!(image)



Dream, Dream, Dream

2012-01-31T22:17:02.589-06:00

For those who are "older than dirt" like me - do you remember this song?  All I wanna do is dream!  But that really isn't true.  No one really wants to just dream.  They want those dreams to come true.  They want that dream to be fulfilled.  As children, we often would sit and dream about what the world would be like when we were really old - like 40 (Ha!).  But often when we reach that magic age - often those dreams are still just that - a dream.  Life often takes those dreams and destroys them.

What started this post is a facebook post that is being sent around right now.   It's actually about the type of man a woman wants.  Young girls are taught about Cinderella and Prince Charming-her knight riding in on a white horse to save her-Snow White and the prince who awakens her with a kiss-well you get the idea.  This dream of what life will be like with her "Prince Charming".


Now - to adjust a little.  I think it should read that every woman wants a man who will do all these things.  I don't really think it should say every woman deserves.  Before anyone gets the wrong idea - I am certainly not saying that a woman deserves someone who is not this type of man.  I just think the wording is wrong.  What we deserve and what we desire are two very different concepts.  I desire someone who feels about me the way this post states, but what I deserve is not something good.  My thoughts, actions, etc. actually should condemn me to death - That would be the correct consequence for my actions. 

Thank goodness, God does not give me what I deserve.  He showed His love for me by sending His Son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross in my place, taking every wrong action, word, thought, that I've ever had and placing ALL the blame squarely on Jesus' back.  Every stripe, every puncture from the thorny crown, every bruise from Roman hands, should have been mine.  But He took them instead.  In the place of what is deserved, God gives me mercy and grace.  Even more than that - He wants to give me the desires of my heart, help some of those dreams from days long ago come to light, or even give new dreams that are His dreams for me.  Everything beyond mercy and grace is extra.  If all He ever granted me is His mercy and His grace, that should be enough for me. 

The really great thing about dreams - while some of those from childhood may not be achieved, God can give new dreams in their place.  If you're in a place where it seems every dream you ever thought you might accomplish seems to have been dashed to the rocks, ask God for a new dream.  He is just waiting to give you one - and it might be even better than the earlier one!

For any of you guys out there - feel free to let me know what your thoughts about your dream girl would be ...
 (image)



New Year - New You!

2012-01-13T20:55:19.852-06:00

Better late than never - Happy New Year!  I have had major writer's block - well blogger's block anyway for a while.  Everything seems mundane or silly or irrelevant to write about so I've written nothing.

Personally - there are a few things that a slightly unsettling at the moment.  Decisions to be made, yet waiting on some areas to become clearer before the decisions can be finalized, desperately wanting to make changes, yet again, waiting on clarity before making the changes.  AAAHHH!  Patience is not a gift or a virtue I possess.  However, I really don't think I want to ask God for patience as I really might not like the way He works to produce this virtue in me.  That last statement is really silly since I have complete faith in God's desire and will for my life, knowing He wants what is absolutely the best for me.  But I am afraid.  Why is that?  Those thoughts and feelings are in complete contradiction to one another.  Epiphany - that is exactly what we are told throughout God's Word.  The sinful desires of man wage war with the holy desires of God!  It is so true and I know everyone else already knows this, but I guess it takes me writing it out (and saying it out loud) for me to attempt a feeble understanding.

I heard a statistic on the radio a couple of days ago.  Billions of marketing dollars are spent each year to try to convince each of us how unsatisfied we are.  Whether it's the car we drive, the house we live in, the job we have, the church we attend, the clothes we wear - well you get the picture.  Marketing today is to convince us we will not be happy until we have ... whatever it is they are selling.  God's Word tells us to be satisfied but it can be very difficult to have that attitude today.  Maybe I just need to avoid TV, movies, radio, etc. to eliminate exposure to all these "needs".  God's desire is for each of us to first come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ as Savior, then to make His name known to the nations, and to become more like Christ as we live each day.  Many times I think all the "things" get in the way of satisfaction with God. 

Perhaps I am the only one that struggles with this particular issue.  Satisfaction with God and His provision for me - that's a resolution worth pursuing!(image)



Bucket List Trips

2011-10-25T16:58:59.027-05:00

In looking through an email about "discount trips", one was about safaris in Kenya.  After having the opportunity to go to Kenya on a mission trip in January, the desire to go for more than 7 days in country and get to see much more of the continent has gotten even stronger!  Browsing through the pictures of accomodations (tents but certainly not roughing it!), breakfast with elephants just beyond the table, water with species of birds that most only see in books, and of course, reading through the information that's written, increases the desire exponentially!

There are other destinations on this bucket list~
Australia - all of it - outback, coasts, Snowy River (yep - pretty much have the movie memorized :))
New Zealand
Scotland
Ireland
Great Britain (more than just Heathrow Airport)
Canada
Alaska
Central America
South America - especially the Amazon River
Germany
Austria
France
Spain
Italy

That list is already too long to be seen in one lifetime - especially starting when one is "older than dirt".  That's just one part of the bucket list.  Think it needs to be written down so the items can be marked off as they are accomplished.  Most would not be about acquiring things, but about seeing and doing things, being with loved ones, creating memories with loved ones - that would be the best!(image)



Search for Significance

2011-10-16T15:16:01.121-05:00

Significance - everyone wants their life to mean something - to be important to someone!  There is a song out right now on Christian radio - "Who Will Love Me For Me?"  The lyrics ask the question - "who will love me for me - Not for what I have done or what I will become?"  Every person that has every walked on this planet has an innate desire to be loved and to be significant to at least one other person.  We search for it in many different ways, but the basic desire is always the same - to have some significance.

I have that feeling often.  As a mother, my children are grown and don't really need a mother - at least not on a day to day basis like they did when they were younger.  As a wife - some days I would just like to know that my spouse feeks that I am his beloved and he would be lost without me.  As a church member - not just a face in the crowd.  As an employee - not just a job.

We have a new pastor at our church and his very first sermon was on the first chapter of Ecclesiastes.  To be honest - I began to wonder if there was a point to his sermon beyond that life is a routine - a rut - with no end in sight!  However - he did make his point.  In chapter 1, verse 3, King Solomon asks the question - "What do people gain from all their labors at which they toil under the sun?"  Interestingly - the sermon took a different twist than I was expecting.  He explained that the phrase - "under the sun" meant a life lived apart from God.  That is what the great king was trying to explain to those he was leading.  A life lived apart from God IS meaningless, a routine with no end, a rut!  (Heard once that a rut is a grave with both ends kicked out - fitting don't you think???)

So we're back to where this started today - "Who will love me for me?"  God will - God has - God does love you just for being you!  Can't get much more significant than that - the God of the universe - the Creator of Heaven and earth - loves you so much He sent His Son to die for you!(image)



What is Normal?

2011-10-01T11:11:33.703-05:00

In the middle of any transition - questions come up about decisions to be made, fear of the unknown/uncharted waters, uncertainty, etc.  However - for me - the biggest issue in any form of transition - I'm just ready for things to get back to normal!  But what is normal?  Whether it's a job change, relocation, having children, moving children to college, empty nest, or any of a myriad assortment of changes - "Normal" changes!  What was normal when pre-school children were home is different when those children start school.  Then the dynamics change again when they get involved in any type of activities, when they go to junior high school, and certainly when they get to high school.  Just about the time, you think you've reached "Normal", it changes again!

I have to admit that I really do not like the transition periods - I don't like feeling like we're living in Limbo - that period between making the decision for the change, and waiting for the final result!  I also really don't like to pray for patience as I'm often not sure of what form that will take to bring me said patience!  I've often said that I just want things to get back to normal!  But I also realize that in the midst of the transition, exciting times can lie ahead!  New people to meet, a new job to learn, rediscovering some passion or joy that had been put aside for a while - all of these are part of the new "Normal"! 

I think from now on - I'll just call life Abnormal!  That's probably a better description anyway.  One Christian comedian/author actually entitled her book - "Normal Is Just a Setting On Your Dryer!" (Patsy Clairmont is the author)  Appropriate - don't you think!  Now if things will just get put into place for this to go from limbo to abnormal - I'm ready! (image)



Long, Long Time!

2011-09-28T14:31:20.371-05:00

As I was reading back through some of these meanderings, I realized that I have really missed writing.  Never really considered myself "artsy" or even creative, but this is something I enjoyed.  I also have not spent as much time on the computer in the past few months.  The feeling of living in limbo is affecting my thoughts right now.  We have our house for sale but the market is a little slow in our area.  We've bought and sold multiple houses in our life together - some sold quickly - others not so quickly! 

On another thought - might check out Panhandle Poetry - doing some creative writing and he's pretty good.  Not that I'm prejudiced or anything :)!

Maybe I can get something written a little more regularly again. (image)



Memorial Day

2011-05-30T08:28:04.465-05:00

Expected - I know.  Today is Memorial Day.  Today is the day that we should remember and honor those who have served our country in the armed services and gave their all for the freedoms we enjoy!

As I was growing up, my parents made sure that all 4 of their children understood that the freedom we have as citizens of the United States was bought at a great price.  We were taught to stand and salute the flag anytime it passed in a parade, or when we sang The Star Spangled Banner - our National Anthem, or when we said the Pledge of Allegiance!  Nothing less was acceptable.  My dad served in the U.S. Navy, although it was not during a war time.  They made sure we knew that men and women had died for us to have the rights and privileges given to us.  It was not through anything we, ourselves, had done.  Someone else bought that freedom for us.

Hollywood has produced movies for a very long time about the different wars fought by American soldiers.  They have certainly tried to glamorize war at times, but then others have tried to convey the horrors!  The former attempts to give a glimpse of the heroic efforts of those who served, the latter attempts to give a glimpse of the madness.  Neither are able to truly convey what the soldiers that come home bear in their hearts and minds. 

There are very few WWII veterans still alive today; more from the Korean conflict, Vietnam war, Desert Storm, Iragi Freedom and the war on terror.  The men and women who served and serve today, deserve our respect and honor!  Even more - we owe them our Thanks!  Even those who speak out against the wars, or do not believe in the efforts, owe our armed forces their gratitude and respect!  Those men and women are fighting, many have died to give Americans the right to speak out against the war, burn a flag, or protest in some other form! 

If you have a family member who serves or has died in service to our country - Thank you for the sacrifice from your family to protect my freedom!  If you are a member of the military for our country - know that there is one citizen who loves you, admires you, is grateful for your service, and prays for you as you serve!(image)



Idol of Superiority

2011-04-02T11:28:38.894-05:00

"My dog's bigger than your dog!  My dog's bigger than yours!  My dog's bigger cause he eats Ken-L-Ration!  My dog's bigger than yours!"  Remember that commercial jingle?Or how about this one~"I can do anything better than you can!  I can do anything better than you!"Remember those lyrics?A few weeks back our interim pastor, Dr. Richard Shaw, preached about the idol of superiority.  Many times superiority is seen in areas all around us.  Did you ever say "My dad can beat up your dad!" or something along those lines?  This idea of being better comes in very early in our lives.  Have you ever thought that you may have this idol within your spiritual life?The story comes from Luke 18: 9-14 and Luke 19:1-10.  The first setting is the temple as 2 men come to pray.  A Pharisee who prayed multiple times, loved his country and loved his faith was in the temple praying to God.  The second man was a tax collector who had also come to the temple to pray.  The Pharisee prayed to God (but was probably only talking to the ceiling!) but his attitude was not one of reverence or holiness.  His prayer was "God, I thank you that I am not like other men - robbers, evildoers, adulterers - or even like this tax collector.  I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get." (Luke 18:11b - 12)  He thought that all of those actions made him holy.  His holiness came from his belief that he had not broken the law and that he did all the things required by the law - tithe, fast, pray, no work on the Sabbath, etc.The tax collector came into the temple and would not even raise his eyes.  He stayed off to one side all alone.  His prayer - "God, have mercy on me, a sinner." (Luke 18:13b).  He knew there was nothing in his life that God should look at him with favor. Jesus tells us in verse 14 - "I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God.  For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted."The Pharisee's "holiness" came for his actions, which are not wrong, but his attitude was wrong.  His attitude was that of superiority - not holiness.  Holiness should be an attitude of humbleness and shame as we look at God's holiness and our complete lack of holiness on our own.  The tax collector KNEW he had broken many of the laws - in fact possibly all at some point in time.  He could not stand in the temple before the holy God as anything more than a sinful man!  His cries for mercy went far above the ceiling of the temple, straight to the heart of the Heavenly Father.The other story is one many know from childhood.  "Zacchaeus was a wee little man and a wee little man was he.  He climbed up in the sycamore tree, for the Lord he wanted to see..."  You may be able to finish the song. Luke 19:1-10Zacchaeus was also a tax collector.  Tax collectors were not the top of the pyramid in Jewish culture.  They were Jewish men, but collected taxes for Rome.  In doing so, they often collected more than was required and kept a portion for themselves, getting wealthy off their own countrymen.  They were seen as traitors and thieves among their people.Jesus was coming through the village where Zacchaeus lived and Zacchaeus wanted to see him.  He was not a tall man and people were certainly not going to let him through.  As Jesus was going through, Zacchaeus climbed up into a tree so he could see above the other people.  He wanted to see Jesus.  As Jesus walked by the tree, He stopped and looked up into the leaves of the tree and saw Zacchaeus sitting there. He told Zacchaeus to come down, that He would be going to Z[...]



Book Review of "Lonestar Homecoming"

2011-03-10T12:09:30.555-06:00

This book had an interesting storyline to begin the book, but I felt the author hurried to the rescue and did not develop the characters and depth.  The rescue and subsequent relationships were really not handled in a realistic time frame.  The author could have spent more time developing the characters and their relationships.  The ex-fiance of Gracie and his story were not really touched upon until the climax at the end of the story.  The intertwining of the "bad guys" history with both characters could have used more depth as well.  It was almost like the history of Lieutenant Michaels, the murder of his brother, and the Mexican drug leaders was added to bind his story to Gracie's as an afterthought.

It was an okay read, but I don't know that I will read the other 2 books in the series.  I also would have liked to see more about a relationship with Christ tied into the rescue and story.(image)



Idols-Security

2011-03-06T21:57:02.737-06:00

Yep - another one on idols.  This was actually a little hard to take as security is comfortable!  Does security seem like an idol to you?  That was never one that was actually mentioned in the "Thou shalt nots" but it certainly can fit as an idol.

The sermon started with the story from Exodus 3 and God's call to Moses.  Moses was 80 years old by this time in the story.  He had run to the very back side of the wilderness from Egypt and his plans were to live in this "island of security" until he died.  God had another plan.  He called Moses to go back to Egypt, speak to Pharoah about releasing the Jews and leading the Jewish people out of Egypt.

Moses had good reasons (excuses) for not going.

Identity~
"Who am I ..."  That was his first question.  Why would people listen to him if he went back?

God had an answer - Moses was born a Jew, but was raised in Pharoah's house by his daughter.  He learned the ways of the Egyptians - their laws, culture, lifestyle, etc.  Then when he ran (after murdering an Egyptian), he lived in the wilderness for 40 years - survival training!

Independence~
"When I come ..." - Moses next reason was not when You come or even when we come - but When I come.

Is there ever a time that we are independent of God?  We may believe we are, but He knows better.  We are always, ALWAYS dependent on God - His strength, His care, His mercy!

Authority~
"Whom shall I say sent me?"  - by whose authority?

Interesting that Moses is speaking to God and asking by whose authority should I say?  Really?  By whose authority - when he was talking with the creator of the universe!!!  If God hadn't been serious, do you think He might have laughed at the question?

Capacity~
"What shall I say ..."  How will I know the words to use?

Moses had lived in Pharoah's house and been in his courts everyday of his life until the age of 40!  He would have known the correct way to approach Pharoah and the correct words to say.

Don't you find it interesting that for every excuse - God already had the answer.  In fact, Moses had lived out the answers without any knowledge of why.  Isn't that the way our lives could be used, if we would simply surrender control?  He would use all the different aspects, choices (good and bad), jobs, environment, everything in our lives to work in the lives of others with the skills and understanding He has allowed each one to acquire through life.  Imagine what the Moses would have missed had he turned down God's calling - seeing God's miraculous work in Egypt with all of the plagues, walking through the Red Sea on DRY GROUND, water from a rock, manna from Heaven, led by a pillar of fire at night and a cloud of smoke during the day!!!  God was preparing Moses from his birth and He does the same for each of us.  We just have to be willing to leave that idol called Security behind and faithfully follow God's direction.  He will never leave and His Presence and His Power go with each of us on this journey!

Amen???
Amen!(image)



Idols-Power

2011-03-04T07:50:27.707-06:00

Another post on the idols we allow in our live but may not realize they are truly an idol.  Dr. Shaw spoke on the idol of power a couple of weeks ago.

The story is set in Acts 8:4-24.  Power as an idol - that's really not a new thought but the presentation was from a slightly different view and it really hit home.  We see the abuse of power all throughout history and in our world today.  Governments abuse of power of the people, dictators abuse of power for control, and even closer to home - parents abuse of power to control children (even when they've grown and are adults), pastors abuse of power over church members.  Yes - it happens - even in a church.  Pastors are human and are vulnerable to the same temptations as everyone else. 

However - this idol of power is of a slightly different sort.  Philip had been sent by God to Samaria to preach the Gospel to the people there.  Samaritans were hated by the Jewish people and most refused to have anything to do with them.  However, when Philip was called, he immediately went to Samaria.  He refused to give into the hatred and recognized they were created in the image of God, just like the Jewish people.  Simon the Sorceror was a citizen of Samaria and heard Philip's preaching.  He accepted Jesus and was saved, as were many others.  When Peter and John came to the town where Simon lived, he saw them demonstrate the great power of God and he really, REALLY wanted that same power!  In fact, he offered to pay Peter and John for that power.  Peter's response to him is one that we need to remember.

"May your money perish with you, because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money!  You have no part or share in this ministry, because your heart is not right with God.  Repent of this wickedness and pray to the Lord."  Acts 8:20-22a

The power that Peter and John had was a gift of God and not something to be bought or earned!  In our trip to Kenya in January, we saw churches (in poverty stricken areas, HIV/AIDS impacted areas) that were filled with the power of God.  People willing to do what God asked them to do, to go where God asked them to go without hesitation or questions - and working in the power of God to accomplish His purposes.  Dr. Shaw was a missionary on the field for many years and has taken many mission trips.  His view of the church is very much like we saw in Kenya - churches in India, China, Africa, closed countries to the Gospel - filled with the power of God!  Working to make His name known to all nations.  But churches in America - a country of  affluence and openness - are weak with no real feeling of the power of God!

We desperately need to be reminded of God's power that is the gift to us.  Paul wrote to Timothy in II Timothy 1:7 "God did not give us a spirit of weakness (timidity) but a spirit of power, of love, and of self discipline."  (Italics are my input)

Power can be an idol but the power of God is a gift to be used for His glory and His purposes!  Make His name famous to all the world!  May it be so and let it begin with me, Father!(image)



Idols-Image

2011-02-22T21:16:49.847-06:00

Our church has an interim pastor who started on February 13.  He started a series on idols - interesting to begin at a new church.  It made me start thinking about the image I show to the world. What image do I convey to the world?  Does that image mean so much that I would not be willing to give it up?  If so - it is an idol in my life that I bow down to worship.  I would never say that I would worship an idol - God's Word tells me not to worship any images but only Him.  But - when I put a mask on my face and feelings and expressions to show the world someone other than the person God made - that is an idol of image!  That thought had never really occurred to me until the sermon.

I started meeting with a couple of other women a year or so ago.  In the very beginning - I expressed that I didn't want to have to wear a mask.  I think in my old age I've realized that the thoughts of others should not determine how I live my life.  Comparison is another form of image idolization.  Comparing myself to others always brings out their strengths and points out my own weaknesses.  That type of image making is just as destructive as believing lies told to us throughout our lives about who or what we are.

The story is told in Acts at the end of chapter 4 and the beginning of chapter 5.  Barnabus is introduced at the end of chapter 4 in a story of the sale of a piece of property he owned and bringing the proceeds to the church to support the needs of others.  He brought the full price simply because of the change Jesus Christ brought to him when he had a personal enounter with Jesus.  That encounter completely changed his life and he desired to do what was needed to help the church. 

In the beginning of chapter 5, Ananias and Saphira are introduced.  Their story is that they also sold a possession (which we learn later is a piece of property).  They brought the proceeds to the church and told the church leaders they had brought the full price.  The image they wanted to convey is that they were the same type of person as Barnabus.  Unfortunately - it was just an image and the image was more important to them than the truth.  The truth was that greed (or some other motive) caused them to lie about the amount of the proceeds.  They were certainly not required to bring the full price and could give whatever portion they felt lead to give.  However they chose to only give a portion but state they were bringing the full amount.  Their image was not their true character as they lied about the amount of the sale and the donation to the church.

When the image we show to the world is more important than the truth - when the image we show is more important than anything else - that's when the image has become an idol.  God's Word tells us whose image we are to reflect - the image of Jesus Christ is the only image that we as a Christian are to show. 

I cannot imagine anything or anyone any better to reflect!(image)



Training Camp - Part 2

2010-08-15T18:32:32.570-05:00

I have to admit that after reading the book, I watch all of the pre-season football games with a much different perspective than before!  I keep watching each player and wondering if they are playing as trying to achieve excellence in their playing or simply trying to be in the spotlight for a time!

The next characteristics from Jon Gordon's book - "Training Camp" follow:

6.  "When you wake up in the morning, take a morning walk of gratitude and prayer.  It will create a fertile mind ready for success."  I do not do this well.  Most mornings, I simply get up and start the routine without thinking about an attitude of gratitude (first for waking up!) and prayer.  I am working on a better habit for the early mornings but there are still times that it seems to just be going through the motions.  "I don't want to go through the motions!" (Song by Matthew West)

7.  "When you fear, trust.  Let your faith be greater than your doubt."  Hard words but no better way to live my life.  If God is for us, then who can be against us?

8.  "When you fail, find the lesson in it, and then recall a time when you have succeeded."  Again - this is something that seems to be a constant struggle for me and probably many others out there.  I think our tendency is to see and relive the failure over and over again!  That is certainly not God's desire or design for us.  Yes - we fail, but He wants us to learn from it, apply the lesson and go on.

9.  "When you head into battle, visualize success."  If you cannot visualize it - you cannot achieve it.  Most never realize the potential for success has to begin in the mind first!

10.  When you are thinking about the past or worrying about the future, instead focus your energy on the present moment.  The now is where your power is the greatest."  Thinking about the past or worrying about the future is a waste of your time and energy.  What is now - present - is where you need to spend that energy!(image)



More on "Training Camp"

2010-07-24T02:32:36.110-05:00

I can't resist sharing just a bit more of Jon Gordon's book.  There is so much to be gleaned from his book that can be applied in every area of our lives.  There is one chapter that entitled "Twenty Ways to Get Mentally Tough" and each one is such a gem.  I would like to share the list but please know these are from the book and certainly not something I have come up with on my own.  Below are the first 5.

1)  When you face a setback, think of it as a defining moment that will lead to a future accomplishment!

2)  When you encounter adversity (and you will), remember, the best don't just face adversity; they embrace it, knowing it's not a dead end but a detour to something greater and better.

3)  When you face negative people (and you will), know that the key to life is to stay positive in the face of negativity, not in the absence of it.  After all, everyone will have to overcome negativity to define themselves and create their success.

4)  When you face the naysayers, remember the people who believed in you and spoke positive words to you.

5)  When you face critics, remember to tune them out and focus only on being the best you can be.

As I read each one of these, I realize that I have allowed the negative to far over-shadow any positive!  Instead of overcoming negativity, I give into it and agree most of the time!

In my quest to do something more than just sit in front of the TV, I am working toward this goal of being the very best woman God has for me to become!  I'm not there yet, but I'm working on it.

As far as the exercise regime - I have gotten 2 days in this week and will get at least one more hour tomorrow!  I had hoped to get 4 days a week, and do some weeks, but this week only get 3 (unless I work out twice tomorrow - would that count?)(image)



Training Camp

2010-07-17T11:36:39.181-05:00

I have been reading a book called "Training Camp" by Jon Gordon.  This is the second of his books that I've read.  Our clerical staff at the district administration office is doing a discussion board on this book and it has been really interesting to see some of the responses to the questions. 

The book is about learning the principles of "what the best do better than everyone else".  The format is based on a football training camp and the different aspects of greatness.  I think we all have the ability and the desire to be "the best" at something!!!  Some of us just have a much harder time determining what that "something" is - including myself!  However, the book also points out that working to be the best is not about glory and honor for yourself.  It is actually about working to honor God and help others achieve their own "best". 

I find it somewhat ironic that people will read "self-help" books to find the magic pill or potion to achieve that inner desire and the book itself points them to the one true person who can help them achieve excellence!  Jon Gordon does not present the message about Jesus Christ in a traditional manner, but he is certainly able to get the message across.  The person of Jesus Christ was the best at everything, yet never owned a thing, didn't even have a home, no wealth (at least not of this world), and nothing to really be labeled as great by the world.  Yet - He is the one who can work through us to make us the best person we can be and truly be "the best" but it is for His glory and not our own!  Christ gave up His greatness, His royalty and His standing in Heaven to come to earth as a man because His Father loved each one of us so much that He was willing to sacrifice His own Son for our sins!

So our "Training Camp" is this earth.  We are to use these principles that Jon points out to become the best we can be, but for the Glory of God and His Son, Jesus Christ, not our own!  Our true best - that's on the other side of Heaven - when we come face to face with the awesome glory of God and see the scars in Jesus' hands, feet and side that He allowed for our sake - for my sake!!!

Check out the book.  Easy read - hard to live!(image)



New Endeavors

2010-08-18T16:24:40.803-05:00

I posted about beginning my workout program again.  Actually, I have been doing it for about 8 weeks now.  Can't say that I can see a difference but it is easier to get through now than when I started.  I have a variety of reasons for needing to exercise - besides just taking care of this physical body (which is a command of God to guard this temple for His glory!).  Economics come into play as I don't want/have funds to purchase an entire new wardrobe simply because I have no self control.  Also as stated in the previous post, there is a physical reason and - yes I admit it - vanity does come into play as well.  There is also a spiritual aspect as the workout I do is a Christian circuit training that has several verses set to music for the exercise program.  At the very least, I am working on Bible verses as I work out!

Now - another point of new endeavors - my spouse and I purchased a program to learn a foreign language.  We are both wanting to learn Spanish.  I have almost completed lesson 1 - sounds good, except we've had the program for 2 months!  Not really accomplishing the learning as quickly as I had hoped.  But still - working at learning another language is always good.  It forces me to use my brain in different ways and to get outside my little box of thinking!  It is really an interesting concept of learning and I actually have received information at my office for a public school district from the same company to be used in a classroom setting to teach foreign languages.  Working through the lessons is interesting but certainly not necessarily easy.  In addition - I want to be fluent - not just sort of speak some phrases.  Don't know if this will get me there but it is a start!(image)



Work Out!

2010-07-17T11:37:14.104-05:00

Okay - I admit it. I hate to exercise! It is not - and never has been something I enjoy doing. However, several years ago, my doctor told me my cholesterol level was too high and needed to come down. He told me he would either put me on medication or give me a year to bring it down by watching my diet and exercising. I chose the latter and did succeed in bringing the level down below 200 and keeping it there for several years without having to use medication. When I started back to work, it was much harder to get the workout in on as regular a basis as I had done before. Also - starting a home based business which took up several evenings, also kept me from devoting the time needed to exercise. When our son left for college last August and my spouse started traveling (a lot!!! He was gone more days before Christmas than he was home), I found myself at home alone for the first time in a very long time! TV became my companion and the couch in the living room my bed many nights! Now that I had the time - I had no desire to work out, or do much of anything else.

Now - an extra 15 - 20 lbs. later, things have to change!!! I started the workout that was so successful for me years ago but am still having a hard time, staying with it. Also - my spouse got me a Wii for Christmas and I love it. However, the Wii Fit is not a cardio workout and I need the push to do something more. I enjoy the games (especially the boxing, which I love!!!), strength training and yoga that the Wii offers but need the extra cardio to help lower the cholesterol and lose weight.

So - the reason for this little diatribe - I am using this blog as my accountability partner for now. If someone else is reading this and needs encouragement or wants to give me some encouragement, feel free to comment. I would appreciate the support!

As the Nike commercial so aptly puts it - JUST DO IT!!!(image)



National Day of Prayer Service

2010-04-15T10:08:24.884-05:00

The National Day of Prayer will still be held, just without anything occurring at the White House.

President Obama has decided that there will not be a "National Day of Prayer" service held in the White House in May. He doesn't want to offend anybody. Where was his concern about offending Christians last January when he allowed the Muslims to hold a day of prayer on the capitol grounds. As a Christian American "I'm offended." if you agree copy and paste no matter what religion you are, this country was built on Freedom!!!

He cancelled the service at the White House last year and did not participate and will not have a service again this year and will NOT participate! White House press Secretary, Robert Gibbs, stated that the President prays every day but chose to cancel the service at the White House - not the actual day.

When will it end? When Christians are forced to either speak out, stand up & be counted, or be silent, sit down, and be unoffensive! I do not want to offend people, but the Bible tells us that the gospel is divisive and can be offensive to those who don't believe and follow other religions!(image)



Review of "A Beautiful Mess"

2010-03-24T14:41:52.483-05:00

"A Beautiful Mess" is the story of Diamond Rio, the country music group. It was really interesting to read the story behind the story so to speak. For those of us who remember when Diamond Rio hit the scene, it almost seemed to be overnight success for them. The book gives a very different view of the time frame spent on their "overnight success". The struggles and the amount of time spent getting from a group of guys playing around together, to the award winning group is a story worth reading.

Much of the book deals with the group as a whole, the road that led them to country music stardom, and the challenges and pitfalls that were and are a part of musical success. It was sort of fun seeing pictures of the different band members as they aged, along with the rest of us! It was also fun reading about the different venues they played and the times they truly thought about giving up. Thankfully for all of their fans, they did not give in to that temptation, but persevered and eventually came into their success.

Several of the chapters are devoted to individual band members and their own struggles in and out of the band. The reader is allowed to see intensely personal struggles, victories and defeats for those members. The general population tends to idolize those who are at the "top of their success" and do not realize the personal challenges that success can bring. The band is very open about successes and failures in their personal lives throughout their career.

The book will be a great read for those who are fans of the group.(image)



Review of "The Noticer"

2009-10-18T17:02:21.792-05:00

"The Noticer" is the newest book from author Andy Andrews. It is the story of main character, Andy, and a man called Jones. I was really excited to see this new book as I loved “The Traveler’s Gift” by Mr. Andrews. The book reads as if Mr. Andrews is telling his own story and I thoroughly enjoyed reading from that perspective. The story revolves around the lifelong relationship with Andy and Jones, but also weaves other stories alongside. Jones portrays himself to young Andy as a “Noticer”. By way of explanation – Jones explains that he notices things others overlook and his gift is to “give perspective – a broader view.” All of the characters we meet have some issue or challenge they are dealing with and seem to have given up all hope. These are things that every one of us face as people living in this world. Jones seems to appear out of nowhere to offer this “broader view” and to help the individual see their life in a very different light! The stories are all easy to follow and Mr. Andrews has done a wonderful job of intertwining them into the main storyline. There is nothing eerie or ghostlike in the character of Jones. Actually – it would be more aptly described as almost angelic, but that’s not really true either. Jones has a very rare gift and his use of it enriches the lives of all he meets. I enjoyed the story but more than anything was challenged to be a “Noticer” of people and try to see them through a broader view, seeing beneath the surface. Jones is the best friend that everyone wants to have in his or her life. The challenge is for each of us to strive to be that person and to notice those things that we all try to hide but are still just under the surface. [...]



Energy Independence Day

2008-07-13T18:45:54.670-05:00

One of our Senators, John Cornyn, is hosting an Energy Independence forum. The goal is to get feedback from bloggers about their thoughts on the U.S.'s reliance on foreign energy and people's feelings on some of the solutions that have been offered. Here is my "two cents worth"~~Energy IndependenceThe United States has been a world leader in many areas - technology, science, farming, production, aid in times of trouble or disaster, but there is one area we should not be proud of leading. That is the amount of fuel consumed that is purchased from governments or countries that profess to be allies but in truth are the opposite. Reliance on another for fuel makes us a slave to that entity. Consumers find they are very vulnerable to price changes that are basically at the fancy of the controlling entity.As a nation, the U.S. should be researching and finding ways to lower dependence on foreign oil and become more self-sufficient. There are areas with oil deposits that are available, but are "off limits" because of a "Preservationist" attitude in the environmental world. A different school of thought should be one of Conservation. Conservation says that the land use should be maintained for all. Conservationism is the thought or teaching that sustainable use of the resources available is done while maintaining the natural beauty, habitat for wildlife and plants, and integrity of the area. Think controlled harvesting of trees vs. clear cutting. Controlled harvesting is done by cutting a certain number and specific age of trees to maintain the natural forest. This allows the impact to be minimized on the land, animals, climate, etc. of the area, while offering an economic incentive to make the best use of the resources.One of these areas is the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge - ANWR for short. There are those who would say that this area is the last wilderness and should be kept absolutely pristine for future generations. Construction and maintainence of the Alaska pipeline is an example used to support their position. Unfortunately, it does not support that position at all. An article published by the University of Michigan entitled "The Environmental Effects of the Alaska Pipeline" discuss the impace the pipeline has had overall on the state of Alaska and the area surrounding it. The pipeline has had a huge economic impact on those living in the state, but much less of of an impact on the flora and fauna of the area. The area around the pipeline has not had a detrimental effect on the caribou migration or population as was widely touted at the time. Nor has the pipline had a huge negative effect on the other wildlife in the area. 1 Exploration and drilling in ANWR could promote similar benefits but there are some additional factors to consider. In a news article published at ANWR.org, an overview is given of a bill introduced by Minority Natural Resources Committee Chairman, Don Young. "Minority Natural Resources Committee Chairman Don Young introduced HR 6107, The American Energy Independence and Price Reduction Act. The bill was co-sponsored by Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R-MD). The bill calls for the opening of the 10-02 Area of ANWR to responsible oil and gas development and uses the funds generated from oil production taxes to set up an Alternative Energy Trust Fund to promote the development and production of alternative energies."2 The last statement bears repeating - The funds r[...]