Friday, April 29, 2011

Proud Momma

Okay...I'm not her momma, but I love her like my 5th daughter. This is Whitney's best friend Madeline. She modeled for a hair show while her mom was in cosmetology school. It's one of the hair style finalists for a student.

Her momma is a good friend of mine too, and she's really good to my baby girl Whitney.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

I'm a lumberjack, baby.

There is a saying “can’t see the forest for all the trees”. I’ve been taking down one tree at a time. Kind of had to. I’m a lumberjack, baby. (obscure pop culture reference) Last night Steve and I were talking and I looked at the forest, or in my case, the jungle. I kind of like my jungle right now. It’s exciting. Unexpected. Full of wildness, newness, the unknown. Swinging from tree to tree, vine to vine. But I’m not in it alone.
There are a few more trees I’m want to take out and it’s going to require constant work.
Again, I have had the same thought hit home through two different passages of scripture in close succession. These are regarding harvesting what you planted. That can be taken two ways, look at the bad seeds you’ve planted and worry about the harvest, or look at the good seeds you’ve planted and wait for the harvest. I think everyone of us has some of both seeds out there. What we’ve been doing is trying to dig up the bad seeds. Pull up the roots. We’re still going to have to deal with the harvest, we know that.
There is no time like the present to start planting good seeds. I’m content, again, in my present, watching God work, watching and feeling him heal, and just amazed at what I see him do. I am no longer worried about our future, what we are going to do, where we are going to go, what is going to happen, what we should be doing, what is expected. I now just live moment to moment, and I like it.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Tales from the Herd

This is my girlfriend Jenny Cummins. She lives South of Boston. I got to visit her when we were in Boston with my other girlfriend Carrie (you’ll meet her soon too). I love her to death. I would always hear how sweet and kind and compassionate she is. And she is. What a lot of people missed due to the fact they didn’t get to know her well is her wicked sense of humor. I miss her more than words can say. This is her “Broken Hallelujah” poem, even though that’s not the name of it. And coming on the heels of Easter, perfect timing.

Enough by Jenny Cummins

Father God looked from Heaven
Upon a sight too cruel for words.
Indescribable anguish, injustice,
His Son nailed to a cross,
Bloody and beaten, barely breathing,
Bearing the sin of the ages.
"It's enough, I've seen enough!" He bellowed
And turned the sky to darkness.

It was the plan from the Beginning,
The redemption of mankind.
Perfect blood flowed down the broken body,
Onto the jagged wood,
Completing a perfect sacrifice.
Sin was forever paid for.
It was enough.

For three long days the earth waited in silence.
And then the miraculous.
"He is risen!" pounded and resounded through the air.
The angels offered the holiest of praise,
and all creation echoed the Hallelujah.

And I asked what I could give.
"I have nothing," I whispered.
"Nothing worthy of such sacrifice...only words
and thoughts and pieces...
Words from a heart overwhelmed.
A broken Hallelujah.
"It is enough," He said.
And He smiled.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The holy or the broken Hallelujah

This post comes from a thought that rattled around in my head for a week until it all came together in a powerful message, one step at a time. Last week we went to Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. I loved it. Could've spent days there. The last thing I looked at was a Picasso. The Rape of the Sabine Woman.
I thought it was ugly. Disjointed. Never got the whole Picasso thing anyway, and not much of an art lover. I like pretty. Don't usually dig into meanings in art work. I read the story under the picture and looked at it again. And something moved me. The sadness. The disjointed. The ugliness, because it was supposed to be ugly. The unfinished feel, even though the artist was done and the picture had been framed and hung in a museum.
Saturday night Steve and I were talking and I told him I had asked one of my friends to write a guest post and she made a funny comment about it. He said that she is a great writer, which she definitely is and we were trying to remember a specific thing she wrote at church a while back (which I will post tomorrow). Finally we remembered, it coincided with a sermon from Psalms and this song.
Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen
I've heard there was a secret chord, That David played, and it pleased the Lord
But you don't really care for music, do you? It goes like this The fourth, the fifth, The minor fall, the major lift The baffled king composing Hallelujah
Your faith was strong but you needed proof, You saw her bathing on the roof
Her beauty and the moonlight overthrew you, She tied you to a kitchen chair
She broke your throne, and she cut your hair, And from your lips she drew the Hallelujah
Baby I have been here before, I know this room, I've walked this floor
I used to live alone before I knew you. I've seen your flag on the marble arch
Love is not a victory march, It's a cold and it's a broken Hallelujah
There was a time you let me know, What's really going on below
But now you never show it to me, do you? And remember when I moved in with you
The holy dove was moving too, And every breath we drew was Hallelujah
Maybe there’s a God above, But all I’ve ever learned from love
Was how to shoot at someone who outdrew you, It’s not a cry you can hear at night
It’s not somebody who has seen the light, It’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah
You say I took the name in vain, I don't even know the name
But if I did, well really, what's it to you? There's a blaze of light in every word
It doesn't matter which you heard, The holy or the broken Hallelujah
I did my best, it wasn't much, I couldn't feel, so I tried to touch
I've told the truth, I didn't come to fool you, And even though it all went wrong
I'll stand before the Lord of Song, With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah

Hallelujah is defined by Webster as “an exclamation of praise to God”.

I love this song. Have for years. That weekend at church, they asked people to write poems about a "broken hallelujah" and what that meant to them. I didn't get it...then. The broken hallelujah. But I realized Saturday night that I do now. And I thought about the Picasso. How ugly and disjointed it was. How sordid it was. And yet I wanted to stand and stare at it, because I got it. I’m not one that thinks I’m a prize. Most of you know that. Not that I don’t know who I am in Christ; that I get. I’m talking on earth. I have wonderful friends, my family loves me, and really, in spite of this, I don’t struggle with self esteem too much. I’m just an average woman living an average life trying to take care of my exceptional family. I love my husband and my kids and my grandkids more than I can say and they come first. Nothing I wouldn’t give up for them. Nothing I wouldn’t do for them. No expectations. They are what I live for. And I’m going all stereotypical here, but in my experience men (real men) are not like this because it’s a woman trait. And I don’t want a girlie man. I want a tough guy. And teenagers are very self absorbed. I feel undervalued by my family most times. But because I know how valuable I am to God, I try to fill up with him and generally that gets me by. I would love more, but I’m not needy, selfish or self absorbed, so I just “get over it” (my favorite phrase Jake uses all the time, he gives you roughly 3 minutes to whine and feel sorry for yourself and then it’s time to move on).
For the final piece of my puzzle, my friend Jenn posted a comment on my Sunday post “He walked out of the tomb” about being broken. You can back up and read it there.
When I wrapped my thoughts around this song, this picture, this comment and the poem you get to wait till tomorrow for (just a teaser to keep you coming back) I realized that my canvas is ugly. It’s disjointed. People may be staring in horror at my life right now. Here’s the thing, my canvas isn’t finished. I’m not hanging on a wall in a museum for you to look at. I’m a work in progress. And the one holding the brush is so much more than Picasso. I’m not trying to color it in or make it appear more beautiful than it is. I’m not throwing a sheet over it to hide it. There are blank spaces on the canvas that are being filled in. Paint can still be put over some of the ugly parts to make them beautiful. And someday it will be finished and framed. Right now I only have a broken hallelujah…
There's a blaze of light in every word it doesn't matter which you heard, the holy or the broken Hallelujah

Monday, April 25, 2011

Training Update

No training for me to report on. Severe case of tendonitis in my right foot will keep me from running for about two months. Even if I’m well before that, I need it completely healed. It’s an overuse injury, and I know I did it to myself, and I am now going to take care of it. I will start aqua jogging this week and will be back working out with the awesome Freddrick and will take my 3 core express classes a week. I was also inspired by Carrie and I’m going to work up to unassisted pull ups. Just no running. Hope to run a marathon late fall this year. That’s the goal.

Steve ran a 100K on Saturday. I’m getting quite experienced on being a crew member. Except I slept through his first aid station. He ran really well. I tried to get a picture at the finish line, but like the last 3, he was running so fast at the end that I couldn’t get much more than a blur.
The “crew view”. Most annoying day ever. A girlfriend of one of the runners attached herself to me. And never left. She was arrogant, annoying, self important, and did not know Jesus. And had no morals. I could not believe the details of her life she shared with me. I told Steve on the way home I wouldn’t have said that stuff to my best girlfriends. He said she probably told me cause she wanted to talk and knew she would never see me again. I was safe. I didn’t chastise or preach because again, I’m not the Holy Spirit, and also since she doesn’t know Jesus, she’s not held to the same standard I am. (Although, some things are wrong whether you know Jesus or not, just gonna say that.) Steve ran a very short distance with her boyfriend and said he was a loud mouthed jerk. So they were a match.
Mile 40 Steve headed out with a new friend he met that day, John. John didn’t want to run the rest of the 100K, he wanted to finish at 40 miles. But Sophia, the race director talked him into going back out and Steve headed out with him and they ran the last 22 together. Steve enjoyed this guy.

He is a little sore in a few joints and his Achilles is swollen. But the front of his shin that has been a mess for two months didn’t bother him at all, so that’s a good thing.

I love watching him run. I love being where he is. I love the race atmosphere.
I wanted to run the marathon, but God is telling me to take a break. He is continuing to tell me to be still, so I am doing it. It’s hard for me, my personality is not a “still” one.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

He walked out of the tomb.

I have bad minutes. Bad hours. Bad days. I had one this morning. Easter Sunday. I'm in church with my family. All the pretty new Easter clothes. All the pretty families. And I'm mad at them. Whitney is in her standard, jeans, Uggs and a hoodie that says Alaska. I don't know, Goodwill probably. I wore my favorite dress, hoping to feel pretty. But we aren't a pretty family. We don't have new Easter clothes because I don't care.
It's a typical church in Kansas. Priding itself on breaking out of the "church mold" but in actuality doing the same thing every other church is trying to do.
They pass the communion tray and I take my tablespoon of grape juice and chicklet sized cracker and think of the church in Boston last week. So different from where I am today. No Chris Tomlin. No Steve Fee, no overhead projector or light show, no "experience" like here at home. Maybe it's the "in" thing for that area, I have no way to know what is normal there. How their worship is regularly. But I had a moment right in the solemnity. I dropped my cracker in my cup of juice and left it in the cup holder. Wrote Steve a one sentence note (I'm not proud of of) and went to the car and cried. I would say I cried like my heart was broken, but it is. Eventually my family comes out and we head home. Steve tells me about the monologue the youth pastor gave as Simon of Cyrene. I'm still mad.
We get home and I get out of the car feeling sorry for myself. And I realize that today we celebrate the single greatest moment in all history.
Jesus walked out of his grave. The man, Jesus that had all the power of God defeated death. Forgave my sins. Even my anger in church this morning. During the holy ordinance of communion where we celebrate the sacrifice he made. And to think that he can't heal me and restore me is ludicrous. Luke 24:5-6 "why are you looking for a living person in this place for the dead? He is not here, he has risen from the dead."

Because of him, I have all I need.

Friday, April 22, 2011

God continues to amaze me

God has been so present in my life. If you've been reading, I've shared that. And my human mind thinks that he must be done showing me how much he loves me. How many times, over and over, will he do something that makes me aware of how much HE LOVES ME? How many special things that only I get, but I do know are directed at my heart, my hurting heart, to say you are special, you are loved, you are beautiful and you are worth so much more to me in Heaven than on earth? I get more. Continuously. More, so much more. I'm going to share a few. These are not huge earth shaking WOW!!! You gotta hear this moments. These are those soft whispers you get from God that if you aren't being quiet you miss.
This comment in an email from a friend, I took out some stuff that is not necessary to the post, but it is almost exactly how I feel, even though we are at two different places in two extremely different lives, but the feeling is the same, and knowing that God is working in a friends life with the same feelings makes it easier to be strong.
"My life has sifted in every area ... every safety net gone, and never realized how much I was depending on those things instead of God's provision. I was in a "comfortable" state ... comfortable "sacrifice." ... I can truly say I've never been more fulfilled in the purpose God made me for... finally settling in to be who He made me to be and only trying to please HIM. It's a foreign feeling at times, but a very good feeling. Some days I feel like I'm growing, some days I feel like I'm melting down, but it's my life!"
He is still giving me encouragement and direction specifically from his word. On the airplane to Boston I was in a baaaaad mood. So I went to the least feel good book of the Bible I could think of, Ecclesiastes "there is nothing good under the sun". And danged if God didn't even find a way to give me hope through that book too.
He is still making sure I get it. I'm stubborn, thick headed and a bit of a control freak. (Well, not so much anymore). I read a passage last night. It was good. It spoke to me. I stopped and hugged my Bible while tears rolled down my face. I do that a lot anymore, because it's a letter from someone who loves me. Today I go to one of my friends blogs and one post back she has shared this Scripture passage. God is making sure I get it.
He is correcting and challenging me. I had a day where I was thinking I needed to tell some people off. Point out there sin even. And God quickly told me that he doesn't need me to do that, he has given that task to the Holy Spirit, and I should let him do it. So, I shut up before I spoke. I would've made things worse. I know that.
Communion at church in Boston. We were running around Sunday morning, Steve and I just going out the two of us. We didn't do that much in Boston, the three or four times were fun. Sunday we are on the subway and Steve sees a sign for a church that looked interesting. I look it up on my droid, we get on the right subway and get there after the service has started. Steve was disappointed we missed the worship, but wouldn't you know, they did their worship after the sermon. We missed one song and announcements. They offered communion. I haven't participated in communion service in a while, so I was moved at the opportunity. (The communal wine goblet made me a little nervous till I realized you dunked your very large cracker in the goblet. It was also my first real wine, non grape juice communion.) Something about sharing that ordinance with other believers I didn't even know existed till that morning made it even more powerful. But remembering Jesus sacrifice, and God's gift was amazing. On Palm Sunday, even more so. And in light of how loving he's been to me words fail me.
I love the quiet whispers. The soothing to my soul that he is providing.
So on Good Friday, as I remember his gift to me, I am overwhelmed with all he has done for me. Because I'm not much of a prize, and yet he values me. He is perfect and holy and yet he loves me.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Conversations with Whitney

I picked Whitney up the other night. I asked her what she had for dinner. She said cake. I asked her only cake and she said yes, but it was really good cake. I was feeling like a bad mom. I've been struggling to get through a lot of days. I know I've been less than intentional to put it kindly. I apologized for not being as involved lately. Teared up. I've always been a good mom. Involved. As I cried and apologized my not so little girl looked at me and said "it's okay mom. You don't have to be perfect. " She's one of my 1000 gifts.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Boston Highlights

I really wish I had taken more pictures. But walking everywhere, carrying my purse and nursing a very sore foot, I didn't get near as many as I would've liked. Steve has more, but I haven't dug through them yet.
Mr. Bartley's burgers. They only take cash, and they don't have a bathroom. I had the "jersey shore" burger. Jake had the "lady gaga" burger. It was awesome. Here are Steve and I at Mr. Bartley's.

The subway. This midwest girl had never been on a subway. It was an experience I greatly enjoyed. Talking to the girl from Denmark was a real treat.
Fenway Park. Nuff said.

Boston Marathon. And check out the gorilla. He has a bib. He was an actual runner. This is at mile 25.

Harvard Square. This is a really cool place.
Food. Was. Great. Seafood in Boston Harbor. Pizza in Harvard Square. Italian at Le Contes in Little Italy. Canoli from Mike's Pastry. Waited in a block long line 5 wide. This is all the people in front of me. My canoli was worth it.

Dinner with my bff Jed. Our shared two day experience in the Ozarks supporting Steve created a great friendship. (He also has the most amazing wife, Jenny, love her too.) He lives 15 minutes away in Wichita, I have to go to Boston to have dinner with him the night before he ran the Boston Marathon, and then had to share him with Steve and Jake. He did awesome. He is awesome.
Seeing my friend Jenny in Rockland. And the 30 minute ride back with Lance cause we missed the train. He had me laughing hysterically. And quite thrilled for them and what God is doing in the church plant.
The week with Jake and Carrie. I can't say enough about how much I love them.
Discussing things with Jake. Grapefruit and the proper way to eat them. How to make the perfect breakfast sandwich. Aliens. (We both believe.)
Steve and Jake got to see the first playoff game of the Celtics. Top row. Celtics won 87-85. Steve loved it.

The Art Museum. This is from the blown glass exhibit. I should have taken more pics.

Boston Fashion. Anything goes. Lady in church wearing silver velour track suit with a sheepskin (or poodle?) vest over it. Silver socks, silver ballet flats. Pretty sure I spend more time on my hair and make up than anybody I saw in Cambridge in 6 days.
Boston Vineyard church. Bob Marley style worship. So cool. I also think I saw Richard Gere.
Time with Steve.

There are so many other things I could say about this place and the friends I have there and met up with there. But I have to end somewhere. I LOVED BOSTON!!!

Monday, April 18, 2011


It's been said "home is where your heart is". I've loved every minute of Boston. I'll be sharing highlights later this week. Tomorrow Steve and I go "home". For 15 years home has been with him, and that hasn't changed. But home also needs our Whitney, so we are ready to get back to our home in Wichita. It's been an exciting and exhausting week, but one we've enjoyed and have made tons of great memories.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Tales from the Herd Training Update

This is Sheila (and her beautiful daughter, Emily, one of Whitney's herd).

I was ten when I met Sheila. We have been friends ever since. She is a gift from God to everyone who knows her, and she is doing a guest post today.

“I Run to Him”
My best friend, Patsy, sent this to me when we first started our marathon training. I have it posted on my desk at work and I read it often.
“I love not just the finish line, but the trip along the way – it makes me feel free – I’ve got energy to burn – I need energy – it’s my anti-depressant – I hope my children will – I need an excuse to eat – stopping would hurt so much more than a blister or a broken toenail – walking takes too long and I have things I need to get done – my personal best is that: mine – other’s can’t – it’s a good kind of sore – it makes the pavement feel needed – there are a lot worse addictions out there – there’s no better way to explore or enjoy the spring flowers and fall leaves – I “just felt like runnin” – there’s no drug like adrenaline – I’ll never know how far I can go unless I try – the pavement doesn’t complain when you pound it – it takes all I’ve got, but gives back more – I CAN.”
I ran my first marathon on October 10, 2010. Any runner will tell you it is tough mentally and physically. I don’t remember miles 20-24, because I hurt so bad, but the last 2 miles of the race were the absolute best. When I reached that 24 mile mark, I could hear the crowd at the finish line and I felt like I just started running……no aches or pains, but just the excitement to get to the finish line. The last stretch of the race my family and best friend were waiting for me and it was the greatest moment ever. I DID IT!
This was tough for me because I battled a health issue for months that limited me on training. I felt like I was in the bottom of the pit just like King David wrote about in the Psalms. God used this time to put things in perspective. At moments I hated the pain, but I endured it, and praise God I am well today. He graciously showed me that I am not in control, my life is not my own, and every aspect of my life has to be totally dependent on him - spiritually and physically. Not a day goes by that I don’t thank my Savior for healing, for the ability, strength, and endurance, not only to face life’s toughest challenges, but to run too. Now, I run to Him and for Him.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Every life a story

I've seen more people in two days in Boston than I've seen in three months in Wichita. We've been on the subway at peak times. (at home when I talk about Subway it's only for sandwiches). We've gone sightseeing through Cambridge and downtown Boston. We've been to Boston Harbor and Rockland. Walking through Boston Commons Jake told us land size Wichita is bigger. Peoplewise, Boston is five to every one in Wichita. Everyone walks and takes public transportation. I see runners all the time. In Wichita I can run 20 miles and never see another runner. People aren't unfriendly, just busy. Everyone thinks everyone knows where they are and where they are going. Not this Kansas girl, but but Steve, Jake and Carrie have kept me from getting list. Lance got us to the train stop in time to see the crossing rails come down, but he drove us to the next station and he didn't lose us either.
When I was reading my Bible this morning I was in Psalms 139. God knows everything is the heading. Goes on to say we can't escape from him. I especially love verse 7, "where can I run from you"?
But verses 14-16 are about how God made us. Formed us in our mothers body. Made each of us amazing and wonderful. Planned all of our days for us.
I'm very familiar with this scripture. But as I look at all the people I've seen in just the last two days (I also had a layover in Chicago) the sheer size of God's creation is overwhelming. And I've only gone from Kansas to Massachusetts. And every life is a story. Not to be read. I don't want you reading my journal, my life. It's a story Christ is writing. I had to wonder if I'm following Christ's script for my life. And as I cause edits, revisions and rewrites I'm thrilled that my story is being written by him. I'm hoping for less red ink going forward. I'm not gonna ever get it right, I'm gonna need my editor. But there is so much room to improve.
And I hope I get to be a positive character in the pages of some others stories.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Conversations with Whitney

I found this on the computer, just a little bit more about my daughter. I hope she continues to grow the way she has the first 14 years of her life. I take nothing for granted in this world, but she really has potential to be a stand out person. (She is already, I guess I should say stand out adult).
Whitney Baker
Honors English 1
August 23, 2010
The Time I Judged My Teacher
“What is a weed? A plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered.” These words were said by Ralph Waldo Emerson. What is the meaning though? To me it means that we always judge people and experiences by what we know is bad about them instead of the good things we can find out about them. I have judged someone before I know them because I didn't like the way she look or things I had heard about her in the past.
People would tell me stories about this teacher that I was going to have. They said that she didn't like freshmen. I though she was going to be really weird and mean. I didn't really want to be in her class when I heard these things about her. I thought I would really hate her because of what other people told me.
When I got into her class I also judged her on her appearance. I thought she looked kind of like a hippie. She always wore clothes that reminded me of hippies. She smelled weird too, like incense mixed with old lady perfume. Every time she walked by I could smell it and I hated it. It also seemed to me like she thought that she was too good for us. She just acted really stuck up.
I told my friends that also had her all of the weird things I heard about her too. I made her sound like a bad teacher. We would talk about how weird she was when we weren't in her class. Her class was like a joke to most of us. We never took it or her seriously.
After a while of being in her class, I learned that most of the things I had heard about her weren't true. She really wasn't that bad of a teacher in my opinion. I had judged her before I knew her because of other peoples' bad experiences in her class. I actually started liking her class and looked forward to it.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Tales from the Herd

I want to introduce you to my GF Lisa. Lisa is one of my herd that lives a long ways away. Florida. This is her blog. I am copying a post of hers and sharing it with you. I read this Wednesday with tears in my eyes, because this is a passage I have been clinging to tenaciously for several weeks now. It was a great reminder, and just proof that God is looking out for me and using my girls to help with that.

Colossians 1:1-14
Oh I can tell just from these first few verses that we are in for a treat studying this book together. Such richness from the scriptures!

Verse 9 - Paul starts with an important prayer for the people of Colosse - "We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives". I...n our western way of thinking, we tend to turn this on ourselves and pray too that we would know God's will for our lives - what does He want us to do, to be, to say? In actuality the meaning of the word "will" is much broader. Paul wants the believers to be filled with an understanding of how God works, what He wants to accomplish in the hearts of men and His ultimate desire for the nations. First of all, Paul wants us to know that it's not about us - it's about God. :) His will is discernable by the Spirit who gives us wisdom and revelation (a view of the character and personhood of God).

Verse 10-12 - So once we set our thoughts on God's will (His purposes and what He's doing and what He's done) we then live in response to His will.

There is a moment at the end of the movie Saving Private Ryan when the last battle is fought, Ryan is safe and on his way home and his rescuer, Capt. Miller, who had been commissioned to find him and send him home safely, was dying. His last words in Private Ryan’s ear were, “Earn this.” At that point, the battle was over, he was safe and there was no possible way to exchange his life for the lives that had been sacrificed for his freedom. Still, the one who died for him wanted him to “earn this”. Miller wanted Ryan to live such a great life that his sacrifice would not have been in vain, to have such a positive influence on the world around him that his life could be counted worthy of having been saved.

I thought of that scene when I read Colossians 1:9-10a –“We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, 10 so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way:” At this point in our lives, the battle has already been fought and won, the Hero (Jesus) has already died and we are saved! There’s no possible way to earn such a sacrifice. But can’t you just hear the dying words of Jesus begging us to “earn this”. Not that we could, but that He wants us to live such a great life that His sacrifice would not be in vain, to have such a positive influence on the world around us that we could be counted worthy of having been saved. It’s not an effort in earning our salvation, but an honest expression of the gratitude we owe our Savior to live well, to live free and to honor His sacrifice.

How do we do that? Verses 10b-12 tell us:

By bearing fruit in every good work,
By growing in the knowledge of God,
By being strengthened with all power according to His glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience,
By giving joyful thanks to the Father, Who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of His people in the Kingdom of Light.
Meditate on those four things that please God.

What do they mean and how do we do them?
How does knowing God's purposes on the earth play into your ability or desire to bear fruit, to know God, to stay strong and patiently endure or to be joyful?
These are the things that please God, that honor the sacrifice Christ made for our salvation.

Thanks for dining at the Cafe' today!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Desert Song

I love this song. I would sing it for you, but I don't have the means to sing it and record it, so I'm going to share the lyrics. It's worth pulling it up and listening.

The Desert Song Lyrics
Verse 1:
This is my prayer in the desert
And all that's within me feels dry
This is my prayer in the hunger in me
My God is a God who provides

Verse 2:
And this is my prayer in the fire
In weakness or trial or pain
There is a faith proved
Of more worth than gold
So refine me Lord through the flames

And I will bring praise
I will bring praise
No weapon forged against me shall remain

I will rejoice
I will declare
God is my victory and He is here

Verse 3:
And this is my prayer in the battle
And triumph is still on it's way
I am a conqueror and co-heir with Christ
So firm on His promise I'll stand

All of my life
In every season
You are still God
I have a reason to sing
I have a reason to worship

Verse 4:
This is my prayer in the harvest
When favor and providence flow
I know I'm filled to be emptied again
The seed I've recieved I will sow

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Wrapped in Grace

Do you know what that feels like? To know that your sins are forgiven? To know that Jesus has purchased you for Heaven? To know that you are wrapped in grace?
Do you know what it feels like to break? To feel like you should be shattered in a million pieces? And while you are shattered, somehow, it's all staying together?
Do you know what it feels like to be alone, and yet know that you aren't? To understand the words that "I will never leave you or forsake you"? To feel the presence of Jesus so close you can almost feel his breath?
Do you know what it feels like to spend time with Jesus? Intentionally? Trying to understand what he wants you to do. Searching your heart and his? To understand what it really means when he says "be still in my presence and wait patiently for me to act".
Do you know what it feels like to know that what you want and what Jesus is telling you to do are not the same thing? And yet to be able to follow his leading instead of your will because you know that "he will strengthen you with his own great power so you will not give up when troubles come but you will be patient"?
Do you know this Jesus I talk about so much? Are you wrapped in his grace? Because I know I am something special to him, but so are you.
And you can be wrapped in his grace.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Stop it

I've been very open about God speaking to me through his Word. He did again this morning. I prayed, read my Bible and it was like a conversation it was so clear. I texted Sheila my prayer and the passage and asked her if God was really speaking that plainly to me. She chewed me out. Told me doubt was from Satan, cheered me on (glad she's in my herd). And I reread it, thanked God and got on with my day. At lunch I read it again. First seven verses were awesome. I got verse 8 and God said "stop it". In the version I was reading, it said those words. Stop something I've been doing. I spent a moment (or two) trying to decide if the comfort and answers from verses 1-7 outweighed the command to me in verse 8. But if I'm gonna believe God is speaking to me, I CAN take the correction too. So I'm owning verse 8 too. OUCH.

Cut off from the herd

I don't sleep well. Haven't since I was pregnant with Nate. Okay, haven't since I lived the party girl circuit and closed down the bars four nights straight every week with a full time job and full weekends. On most Saturdays I had to get up early and get to the pool or the lake to work on my tan. My sleeplessness allows me extra Bible and prayer time and also to watch television I wouldn't normally watch. I was watching animal planet and they were showing lions cutting their prey off from their herd. It was fascinating. (And brutal and ugly, yet natural).

I thought about this today in context of Scripture. Hebrews 10:25 says "not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near." Very clear that we are to spend time with other Christians. Ecclesiastes 4:12 And if one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart. No explanation needed.
I regularly talk about my girlfriends. The need for girlfriends. The need for godly women in our lives. If we get cut off from our "herd" (sorry girls) we are so vulnerable. We are much weaker. We live our own lives. We own our faith. We have to stand. But we need a herd. We need others lifting us up in prayer. We need others that we are lifting up in prayer. We need to strengthen each other, and draw strength from those around us. I don't ever call or text friends in the middle of the night (except Sheila to cancel a 5:00 a.m. run) but I know I could. And knowing I'm not alone, ever, gives me the strength to make it. First and foremost I rely on God. But I can't sit down at Starbucks with him or lift weights with him, I can't go to Olive Garden and spend three hours laughing with him. I can and do run 15 miles with him, but I need other women from my herd reminding me of God's love and provision. His past acts in my life. His goodness and unfailing mercies.

I'm still on my soapbox about my girlfriends, or now I may just call them my "herd".

Sunday, April 10, 2011

1000 Gifts

There is a book by Ann Voskamp, 1000 Gifts, A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are. I'm not very far into it. But I can't wait to read it in full. I haven't read anything other than my Bible for a while now. But this book, I want to read it now. I want to live fully in the here and now. Like I said a few posts again. Content in my present. My Bible keeps telling me to pray and THANK GOD. To trust and GIVE THANKS. To pray believing and THANK GOD. So as I pursue letting God live through me, I want to start listing my gifts. Because I am guilty of looking for the big gift and overlooking the little ones. So yesterday when I was sitting on my couch with two of my favorite things and had just had a beautiful 3 mile run on my trail (the one behind my house, I don't own it, but it's mine) I realized that I have way too many "gifts" and I'm going to follow the author's lead and start sharing my gifts. My first three are solitary trail runs (I'm never alone back there, I take Jesus), blueberry tea and major league baseball.

I also consider you guys my gifts. I looked the other day to see how many people are reading, because no one comments very often, and that's okay, I do the same thing. I'm a lurker. Reading and not posting comments. I intend to change that. I love some of my bloghers and I'm going to let you all know I'm watching you and loving you virtually. I tell my daughters friends I was creeper back when it was still called stalking. And I am thankful for everyone of you that stops by here, whether just once, or daily. Because I am rediscovering how much I like people. I've always liked people, I'm pretty social, but last weekend I reconnected with an old friend. And we had the best evening. And went to dinner with two girlfriends this week that I know, but not as well as I would like to and we had a great time. And then I sat with my brother-in-law at a funeral and had one of the best conversations I've ever had with him.

We'll see how long it takes me to get to 1000. (And then keep going). I am so blessed. And I live such a grace filled life. My Savior has carried me through so many rough times, and I have challenged myself to never forget what he has done for me. My Bible pages are now dog eared. Scribbled in. Every friend who has sent me a scripture reference now has their name and the date they sent it to me written next to it. Because those were gifts that God used you to give to me.

One of the best decisions I ever made was to go after girlfriends. I can't find the post where I told you all I was doing it, but I need to find it again. I remember warning you all. And you all have stepped into my life with that "challenge" and I am a better person for it. So if you are new to my blog, thank you so much for coming. Comments, while moderated, are always welcome. If you've been with me from the beginning, thanks for sticking around. I love you all. And if I determine you are "girlfriend material" I will come after you. I need as many in my corner as I can get.

Included in my 1000 Gifts will be girlfriends, and I just want to say publicly thank you again to you. Jenn, Jules, Cate, Jenny, Ginny, Melanie, Sheila, Rebecca, Carrie, Meredith, Becky, Kathy, Mindy, and Andrea, I am so blessed by you.

Friday, April 8, 2011

OneWord 2011

I had no idea how much this would come to mean to me. How much this word I selected would play over and over in my head. Three months of this year gone. Three months of this year living lies. Three months of this year in total chaos. And yet, my OneWord resonates. (you can read the original OneWord post here It has gotten stronger, the need to only control ME, only take care of what I can, only be responsible for ME. God knew what I was going to face this year. He knew what I was going to need. And as I look back and I see him preparing me for the toughest time of my life, I'm amazed by him. The peace I feel in him.

I do feel like pompous donkey for some of the things I thought, for some of the things I said. For not knowing what was happening to me and around me. But God sees all and knows all. He knows the plans he has for us. God doesn't sleep. God doesn't get caught surprised. And he doesn't ever leave me. So I come back to my OneWord for 2011, and I remember ME, but it has changed, to what can God do through ME, not what can I do. Because I am woefully inadequate, wretchedly a sinner, and yet God is still holding me like I'm something valuable. And my wounded soul, my broken heart, desperately need his soothing touch.

I really thought about shutting down my blog. But it's something I love, it's not a chore for me at all. I try to be careful and not say too much or hurt anyone with what I say. And I decided to keep it. My jumbled up life. My issues. but mostly, my Jesus. Because this is a pretty public way to talk about just how special that guy is in my life. I think I have taken Jesus for granted more times than I can count. I am afraid to lose what I feel right now with him. He continues to WOW me everyday. I think that was always there, I just wasn't looking.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Conversations with Whitney

A picture is worth a thousand words...
My sister took Whitney and Maddi to antique stores one day they were out of school. I'm really sorry I missed this, even though I hate antique stores.

And a bonus from the last volleyball tournament. My baby has had a rough month. I hope she's okay, but how do you know with a 14 year old? I just continue to cover this sweet doll in prayer.

Can I see the future?

As Promised...
I wanted to know the future. I was making contingency plans. What if this happened? If this happens, then I'll need to do this, and I'll want to do this. But if this happens, then I'll have to do this and this, and Oh, God, what am I gonna do? How do I prepare for all this?

I spent a morning doing this. I will never forget the day. The way I felt. Why I felt that way. At lunch time I picked up my Bible. And because God had been speaking to me so clearly, I avoided where I had been reading and went somewhere else. I went to a book I can't remember reading very often, James.

And read these words in James 1:1-8

1 From James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ. To all of God's people who are scattered everywhere in the world: Greetings. 2 My brothers and sisters, when you have many kinds of troubles, you should be full of joy, 3 because you know that these troubles test your faith, and this will give you patience. 4 Let your patience show itself perfectly in what you do. Then you will be perfect and complete and will have everything you need. 5 But if any of you needs wisdom, you should ask God for it. He is generous and enjoys giving to all people, so he will give you wisdom. 6 But when you ask God, you must believe and not doubt. Anyone who doubts is like a wave in the sea, blown up and down by the wind. 7 8 Such doubters are thinking two different things at the same time, and they cannot decide about anything they do. They should not think they will receive anything from the Lord.

Yep, no contingency plans. I believe.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Training Update

I used to do these on Sundays, but I'm living on the wild side now. I'm going to give you an extra one, catch up on where I'm at.
On January 24 I started working out with Freddrick the ___________ (ever play Mad Gabs? I could insert any number of adjectives here.) Nine weeks. Two races, one was a marathon, so that's lots of running. Those who know me well, know that I don't usually say things like this. But a lot has changed, and guess what? I think I'm pretty freakin amazing right now. I am planning to run a second marathon this year, and have decided to run it either April 23 or May 1. Because I CAN! Remember that from when I first started blogging? All five of you? My readership has gone up 500% in the last month. We all love to drive by the accident and stare, don't we? I CAN do all things through Christ because he gives me strength. Well it's more true now than ever. So back to Freddrick. He kicks my butt. Ten minutes in and I'm sweating like a hooker in church.
A couple weeks ago I told him I wasn't getting strong fast enough. And he has kicked it up a bit. So imagine my surprise when we get the bosu out the other night for push ups, first time we've done push ups, and instead of doing knee push ups, I thought I'd try the real ones. MANLY ONES. Holding on to the bosu which required additional balance. And I did both sets of 12 like a man. I'd do the tool time grunt, but I'm not quite that manly. We also did a couple sets of an exercise where you jump and land on the step. It was above my knees the first time, and we did the first set of 18 and when I landed number 18 from a flat foot jump, I was thrilled. Then he raised it two risers. After my initial fear that I was going to miss and bite it right there in the big gym in front of all the guys, I gave it my best effort. And when I landed number 18, I thought I owned the world.
I feel strong. I feel healthy. I feel like I CAN do anything. I am working to get stronger, but I'm continually reminded that Christ gives me my strength. And he's strong. So I'm going to keep tapping into that power source, because what kind of a fool would I be to have that available and not plug in?

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Psalms 69

I don’t usually just pick my Bible up and let it fall open and read where I land. I generally have an idea where I’m going. Last night I went to Psalms. I love to read the Psalms. I had this one dog eared, which means it’s one of my favorites (however, I have almost as many pages dog eared now as not.) I read it a couple times. This is a long passage, but I’m going to share the whole thing below. Verse 30 tells me what David did (and since he wrote this Psalm for me I thought I should too). This morning I get in the car thinking “I will praise God in a song”. And Christian radio sucks. So I hit the CD player and there are two CD’s. Joel Engle and WOW! Worship 2011. I only know one song off WOW! Worship, so I choose it. It doesn’t really seem like the right song for the situation, not one I would have selected from my IPOD, but it’s the only one I know and I feel to praise God in song, I need to sing. Chris Tomlin’s I Will Rise

There’s a peace I’ve come to know, though my heart and flesh may fail, there’s an anchor for my soul, I can sing It is well,
Jesus has overcome and the grave is overwhelmed, Victory is won, he is risen from the dead
And I will rise when he calls my name, no more sorrow no more pain
I will rise on Eagles wings before my God fall on my knees and rise, I will rise

I won’t share why the words of this were so perfect for the dark twisted place I was yesterday. But once again, God provided exactly what I needed. Then I took time to “honor him by giving thanks” and I realized how much I have to be thankful for.

Psalms 69
1 God, save me, because the water has risen to my neck. 2 I'm sinking down into the mud, and there is nothing to stand on. I am in deep water, and the flood covers me. 3 I am tired from calling for help; my throat is sore. My eyes are tired from waiting for God to help me. 4 There are more people who hate me for no reason than hairs on my head; powerful enemies want to destroy me for no reason. They make me pay back what I did not steal. 5 God, you know what I have done wrong; I cannot hide my guilt from you. 6 Lord God All-Powerful, do not let those who hope in you be ashamed because of me. God of Israel, do not let your worshipers be disgraced because of me. 7 For you, I carry this shame, and my face is covered with disgrace. 8 I am like a stranger to my closest relatives and a foreigner to my mother's children. 9 My strong love for your Temple completely controls me. When people insult you, it hurts me. 10 When I cry and go without food, they make fun of me. 11 When I wear clothes of sadness, they joke about me. 12 They make fun of me in public places, and the drunkards make up songs about me. 13 But I pray to you, Lord, for favor. God, because of your great love, answer me. You are truly able to save. 14 Pull me from the mud, and do not let me sink. Save me from those who hate me and from the deep water. 15 Do not let the flood drown me or the deep water swallow me or the grave close its mouth over me. 16 Lord, answer me because your love is so good. Because of your great kindness, turn to me. 17 Do not hide from me, your servant. I am in trouble. Hurry to help me! 18 Come near and save me; rescue me from my enemies. 19 You see my shame and disgrace. You know all my enemies and what they have said. 20 Insults have broken my heart and left me weak. I looked for sympathy, but there was none; I found no one to comfort me. 21 They put poison in my food and gave me vinegar to drink. 22 Let their own feasts cause their ruin; let their feasts trap them and pay them back. 23 Let their eyes be closed so they cannot see and their backs be forever weak from troubles. 24 Pour your anger out on them; let your anger catch up with them. 25 May their place be empty; leave no one to live in their tents. 26 They chase after those you have hurt, and they talk about the pain of those you have wounded. 27 Charge them with crime after crime, and do not let them have anything good. 28 Wipe their names from the book of life, and do not list them with those who do what is right. 29 I am sad and hurting. God, save me and protect me. 30 I will praise God in a song and will honor him by giving thanks. 31 That will please the Lord more than offering him cattle, more than sacrificing a bull with horns and hoofs. 32 Poor people will see this and be glad. Be encouraged, you who worship God. 33 The Lord listens to those in need and does not look down on captives. 34 Heaven and earth should praise him, the seas and everything in them. 35 God will save Jerusalem and rebuild the cities of Judah. Then people will live there and own the land. 36 The descendants of his servants will inherit that land, and those who love him will live there.

Monday, April 4, 2011


I have a new playlist. It's all secular. Almost angry music. Hard, driving beat. I turn up my earphones and dance. Around the living room, kitchen, at my desk, in the car. Stomping, fist pumping, just in general pounding out frustration. These lyrics, while some are dark and a little angry, make me feel better. Here are some of them. Please don't be scared, I really am okay.

"Just know I'm here, whenever you need me, I'll wait for you. Come back to me. I can't get close if you're not there, I can't get inside if there's no soul there, I can't face you, I can't save you, it's something you'll have to do. When you find you, come back to me."

"Say what you want but you’re not gonna win this time, Take what you want but just leave me alive"

"I can be so mean when I wanna be, I am capable of really anything, I can cut you into pieces, But my heart is broken."

"do you ever feel so paper thin, like a house of cards one blow from caving in".

There is something cathartic in stomping your feet, pounding your fist, shaking your booty, just letting it all go. I love Christian music, but right now it's hard for me to listen to for reasons I don't want to share. On the other side of that, I don't read anything but my Bible. I've had lots of books recommended, but I don't want them. I am happiest with my Bible. So this is my "guilty pleasure" except I don't feel guilty.

The dancing like a fool made me question myself, when did I stop having fun? When did I start worrying that someone might laugh at me? Mock my choice of music? When did I lose myself to what everyone else expects of me?

Sunday, April 3, 2011

If I could turn back time...

I wouldn't.

I spent several days wishing I could go back in time. Turn the clock back. Flip the calendar backward. No time machine presented itself.

Then I wanted to see the future. God shut me down on that one in the space of about two hours. But that's a story all on its own, and I'll share that some other time.

This morning we were on our way to church and I was in a funk. Went to bed that way. Woke up that way. Griping at God. Wanting to go back again. Telling him what a mess it was and now it was too late.

But him, being God and all, scolded me and let me know that it's never too late. He reminded me of the story of Lazarus. Not only did Jesus show up after Lazarus died, he was decomposing. Death. Decay. Stink. And with three words, "Lazarus, come forth", Lazarus walked out whole.

My timeline, my limits, my restrictions on God are exactly that. MINE! He has none. So I'm content here in my present. Or should I say in his presence. Watching. Waiting. Believing. Trusting.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Training Update

I ran this morning. 6 miles. It was a 9 mile run. I ran around Sim Golf course, Botanica Gardens, Cowtown, and it was a great run. Then I crossed over the Arkansas River at Central and turned toward home, and didn't feel like running anymore. This was a big deal to me, because I ran the marathon March 19 and have ran all but three days of the last 15. I have logged over 80 miles counting the marathon. I run like the hounds of hell are after me. But when I felt like walking at 6 miles, I walked. And it was no power walk, or keep my heartrate up walk. It was 20 minute miles. It took me an hour to walk home. I enjoyed every minute, too. With two miles to go I got to Mcdonalds, so I stopped and got a diet coke and a breakfast burrito (to go) and walked on home. I'm pretty tired, my plan is to rest for a day or two. But I can't be sure. I may get all Forrest Gump again and "Ahh just felt lahk ruhhnnninn." And if I do, I will.
My ipod froze about 45 minutes into my run, and so I took that as an opportunity to unplug and pray while I ran. For being in the middle of town, running the bike path by the river is pretty serene and it's nature, and it's beautiful. I like to talk to God outside, in his creation. My next race is April 23. I really love the race environment, looking forward to it. Right now, I'm thinking about a nap.

Have a blessed weekend, everyone!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Follow up

Last Tuesday I posted about God speaking to me about getting out of my boat. Now, I've been called hyper spiritual, over spiritualizing things, and I now have to moderate comments before they show up because people are being hateful. Some are bold enough to use names, some are anonymous. But over spiritualizing or not, I have to share this.
Tuesday night I gave Steve my Bible and let him pick the passage and read. He chose John 21:1-11. He chose it for a specific reason, it went with a devotional he found in my Max Lucado study Bible. And it was really good. I'm going to tell the story, you can read it if you want. Peter and the disciples are fishing on the lake. Jesus is on the shore. Jesus calls to Peter, and Peter jumps out of the boat and swims to shore. After the way I felt Tuesday when Jesus told me to get out of my boat, this moved me. I sat there with tears in my eyes. It was one more time Jesus was making sure I knew he was telling me to get out of my boat (quit trying to control, quit trying to fix) and come to him. The first time, I felt he was telling me to get out in the storm and keep my eyes on him. Which is really good, isn't it? But I think the message of the day was get out of my boat and get to Jesus, whether I walk across the water or have to swim for him, do it. I was going to share this sooner, but I really needed to just hold it close for a couple days, because it was pretty special.


I woke up this morning with him wrapped around me. The familiar body against me. The weight of his arm around me. His head on my pillow, his breath in my hair. So comforting. So unexpected.