betcha haven’t

March 3, 2009

Betcha haven’t been to a third world country this week. Betcha haven’t helped feed children at a village care point lately. Betcha haven’t handed out free shoes to needy, smiling children in quite some time.

Well, I know of a group of young people who are working hard to get a chance to do all those things and more.

Check out  this site** for all the details and see if there’s anything you can do to help. Be sure to take a look at the “Past Projects” and “Present Plans”.

**PS – try not to be blinded by the handsomeness of the young man on this site or by his obvious intelligence or by his visible heart for the things of God. I’m sure he’s simply had extraordinary parenting. Not his doing at all :)

if i were the devil – paul harvey

February 4, 2009

This speech was broadcast by Paul Harvey, April 3, 1965

If I were the Devil . . . I mean, if I were the Prince of Darkness, I would of course, want to engulf the whole earth in darkness. I would have a third of its real estate and four-fifths of its population, but I would not be happy until I had seized the ripest apple on the tree, so I should set about however necessary to take over the United States. I would begin with a campaign of whispers. With the wisdom of a serpent, I would whisper to you as I whispered to Eve: “Do as you please.” “Do as you please.”   To the young, I would whisper, “The Bible is a myth.” I would convince them that man created God instead of the other way around. I would confide that what is bad is good, and what is good is “square”.  In the ears of the young marrieds, I would whisper that work is debasing, that cocktail parties are good for you. I would caution them not to be extreme in religion, in patriotism, in moral conduct. And the old, I would teach to pray. I would teach them to say after me: “Our Father, which art in Washington” . . .

If I were the devil, I’d educate authors in how to make lurid literature exciting so that anything else would appear dull an uninteresting. I’d threaten T.V. with dirtier movies and vice versa. And then, if I were the devil, I’d get organized. I’d infiltrate unions and urge more loafing and less work, because idle hands usually work for me. I’d peddle narcotics to whom I could. I’d sell alcohol to ladies and gentlemen of distinction. And I’d tranquilize the rest with pills. If I were the devil, I would encourage schools to refine yound intellects but neglect to discipline emotions . . . let those run wild. I would designate an athiest to front for me before the highest courts in the land and I would get preachers to say “she’s right.” With flattery and promises of power, I could get the courts to rule what I construe as against God and in favor of pornography, and  thus, I would evict God from the courthouse, and then from the school house, and then from the houses of Congress and then, in His own churches I would substitute psychology for religion, and I would deify science because that way men would become smart enough to create super weapons but not wise enough to control them. If I were satan, I’d make the symbol of Easter an egg, and the symbol of Christmas, a bottle. If  I were the devil, I would take from those who have and I would give to those who wanted, until I had killed the incentive of the ambitious. And then, my police state would force everybody back to work. Then, I could separate families, putting children in uniform, women in coal mines, and objectors in slave camps. In other words, if I were satan, I’d just keep on doing what he’s doing.

Paul Harvey, Good Day.

Oh, those homeschoolers!

January 31, 2009

Today’s Friday Meme at Heart of the Matter (online homeschool magazine) has us answering the question:

“What are some of the crazy questions you’ve been asked about homeschooling?”

Since we’ve been homeschooling for 15 years, and my children have never been in a traditional school (except for a Spanish class here and there, and now, college), I’ve gotten a few questions over the years.  Here are some of my favorites:

1- The ever popular “socialization” question. This one is always fun to deal with, but it was most funny when that question came from my husband’s co-worker, who REGULARLY had to leave work to pick up his son from school because he’d been fighting.  Socialization :)

2 – Once, in a department store, a lady asked why my children were with me and not in school. I told her that we homeschooled and had  1/2 day of school on Fridays. She smiled and said, “Homeschooling has so many benefits, but do you ever regret it since it  means that  they’ll never be able to attend college?”  I never did convince her that homeschoolers go to college everyday.

3 – At my son’s baseball game one summer, a mother “heard” from another mom that I was a homeschooler. She asked a lot of academic questions, as her daughter was struggling terribly in school. After a while, she sighed and said, “I wish I could do it (homeschool) but I don’t think I could handle all those home visits and paperwork!”      Pardon?       She then told me that it was ‘common knowledge’ at her daughter’s school that homeschooling parents were buried in paperwork required by the school board, and that homeschoolers’ homes were required to be visited once a week by local school personnel and that curricula and children’s work must be approved by this personnel.   I’m happy to say that we cleared up the ‘common knowledge’  and she is a happy homeschooling Mom today.

Who’s makin’ up all this stuff?  Funny :)

Hope and Faith

January 15, 2009

Then touched he their eyes, saying, “According to your faith be it unto you.” (Matthew 9:29 KJV)

Then He touched their eyes, saying, “According to your faith and trust and reliance [on the power invested in Me] be it done to you;” (Matthew 9:29 Amplified)

Then he touched their eyes and said, “Because of your faith, it will happen.” (Matthew 9:29 NLT)

I woke up today thinking (worrying, pondering, over-analyzing, strategizing, etc.) about the same situation I went to bed thinking about. It wasn’t difficult to imagine that the far reaching implications of the situation could result in pain and loss for someone – maybe several someones.

It wasn’t difficult to imagine at all. Anyone who’s been walking with the Lord for a number of years has seen the fallout before. We watch as people in our lives make decisions that take our breath away. In our mind’s eye, we instantly see the outcome, (because we have our OWN experience with unwise decisions to remind us,) yet we feel helpless to address the situation. Such is the way when the unwise decisions are being made by someone else. We don’t control all the “someone elses” in our lives do we?

So there I was, waking up knee-deep in the “what ifs” of what could ultimately happen. I found myself hoping that God would choose to be merciful and intercede in the results of the immature decisions I was watching unfold. I was hoping that any small bits of wisdom that I had had the chance to interject previously would be remembered. I was hoping that God would remember that the burden of responsibility for this person’s actions wasn’t theirs alone. I was really hoping that today I would find extreme favor with God, so that maybe He’d dish out a special favor because time was of the essence. I was so hoping that He was paying attention.

Then it hit me . . . .

HOPE is not FAITH

HOPE: the feeling that something desired may happen (cross your fingers!)

FAITH: confidence or trust in a Person or thing; the trust in God and in His promises as made through Christ and the Scriptures.

Obviously, hope is not a bad thing. I hope everyday. I hope that my mail isn’t getting drenched in my mailbox right now. I hope that my college son is getting enough sleep. I hope that my husband remembers my Starbucks order (Venti, 6 pump, non-fat, no water, extra hot Chai latte). Hope is the “wish” that I have regarding certain issues that pop up from time to time.

But HOPE is not FAITH.

Faith is the confidence we have in the person of God.

Faith is not simply “hoping” that God will come through for us. It is the absolute belief in the fact that – in all things – He knows what He is doing, despite what our eyes see and despite what our minds think they understand. It is the understanding that God is Who His Word says He is.

He is faithful, all knowing, loving, kind, just, able, and overwhelmingly willing to move in any situation, according to His Wisdom and our need.

Faith is knowing, that the God who gave His only Son, so that YOU and I could spend eternity with Him, did so out of a love so deep and abiding that we can scarcely grasp it this side of eternity. THAT love is what we trust. THAT love is what our Faith hangs its hat on. THAT love is worthy of our absolute TRUST. THAT love cannot ever fail. We don’t have to HOPE that God hears us or that He may move in our “situations”. We can know! Because our FAITH is based on the immovable, unshakable, everlasting LOVE of the most powerful Being in the universe. And YOU and I are the object of that Love.

There is really only one requirement on our part. We are required to believe!

“Be it done to you ACCORDING TO YOUR FAITH.”

Also posted at: Internet Cafe Devotions

The Call

December 15, 2008
So it happened . . . the dreaded “call.” The call no parent wants to get. The call that other people get, not me. The call that says “There’s been an accident.”
I don’t remember the next few minutes. I know that I got into the car. I know that my husband drove. I know that I couldn’t get there fast enough and yet I dreaded reaching the scene. I couldn’t look and yet I couldn’t stop scanning the highway. Stupid call. I hate the call.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I’m relieved to report that Thanksgiving Day 2008 did not have a tragic ending. There are details, yes, but they are being dredged through, one day at a time. There were emergency room visits, and a totaled car and an over-turned vehicle and policemen and ambulances and traffic and the stop sign I steadied myself with as it all unfolded. But, by God’s sovereign grace, there was no tragedy. (Um, Jesus . . . Thank You . . . again.)

It’s crazy how parenting transforms life. As an unbelieving single person, I only thought of myself. Later, as a believer, before having children, I began to learn (albeit painfully s-l-o-w-l-y) to trust God with the details of life. And then, children came upon the scene, and the trust in God, that I truly believed I possessed, showed itself to be transparent. The struggle had begun.

AND EVEN THOUGH . . .

I know that God Almighty can be trusted for salvation. (I know my name is in the Lamb’s Book of Life. I know that a place is being prepared for me. I know that Jesus is coming back for me, maybe soon. . . I know. I am convinced.)

AND EVEN THOUGH

I know that God heals and delivers and restores. (I know, because my mind has been healed and my emotions have been delivered and relationships have been restored. . . . I know. I am convinced.)

AND EVEN THOUGH

I know that trials, despite their shock and awe, are truly (in the hands of a Holy God) able to transform us into people who look and act and think and love like Jesus . . . ( I know. I am convinced.)

Even though we may fiercely believe all of the above, with all of our hearts, sometimes we still struggle to really “let go” of our kids and trust that they are truly kept by Him. So, most of the time, we keep ourselves ‘readied’ for “the call.”

“The Call” is a secret menace in the background of every parent’s mind. It’s there because the parent/child connection is very powerful and whether we give birth to them or adopt them or inherit them by marriage, when they become “ours”, they actually become a part of us. And as we spend years nursing tiny injuries, feeding growing bodies, encouraging bruised emotions and praying for their spirits to one day choose truth, we sometimes forget that a day is fast approaching where we (should) begin to turn them loose and entrust them to their Creator.

What then?

Will God watch over them as closely as we have? Will he make sure that their lives are comfortable and safe and purposeful and safe and happy and safe? As long as “The Call” (or something comparable) never comes, we have a tendency to believe that God is performing his co-parenting job well enough. But what about the day when “The Call” comes. What then?

“God, were You paying attention? I asked You, just this morning, to watch over them while they were driving. Remember?”

“Lord, You promised that You’d never leave them nor forsake them!”

“Father, I dedicated this child to your Kingdom before his birth. Why didn’t you take care of him?”

“Jesus, I want to trust you, but I need to know that my children will . . . “

These and countless similar thoughts invade the minds of true believers every day. For all of us, I will end with the words God placed on my shaken, parental heart on Thanksgiving Day:

Child, do not trust your eyes. Everything I allow, everything I prevent, is sovereignly appointed with a divine purpose. I make ALL THINGS work together for good. . . I AM able. I love them more than you can possibly know. My eternal goals for your children are far higher and far more glorious and far more weighty than anything you can think or imagine or dream. Pray. Continue to intercede. Believe. Continue to speak truth into their lives. Know that what I have done in you, I am doing in them. Do not trust your eyes. Trust Me.

In other words . . .

For you should walk by faith and not by sight. (2 Cor 5-7) Know that all things work together for good…(Romans 8:28) Be satisfied and fully assured that God is able and mighty to keep His word and to do what He has promised.(Rom 4:21) I love them with an everlasting love.(Jer 31:3) I Am He who is able to do super-abundantly, far over and above all that you dare ask or think – infinitely beyond your highest prayers, desires, thoughts, hopes or dreams… (Eph 3:20). My ways are higher than your ways, my thoughts higher than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:9) Pray without ceasing. (1 Thes 5:17). Speak excellent things; make your mouth speak truth. (Prov 8:6-8). For you should walk by faith, and not by sight.(2 Cor 5-7) I will preserve them. Put your trust in Me.(Psalm 16:1)

Also posted at: Internet Cafe Devotions

Mercy, Mercy, Mercy

October 15, 2008

He will show you MERCY, have compassion on you, (Deuteronomy. 13:17)

Mercy is one of those “church” words. We hear it used in almost every sermon. We’re told that God offers it and that we need it. And I’m not sure of the exact number, but I think that the word ‘mercy’ is used in the Psalms about ten thousand times. I think maybe we should consider that “Mercy” is an important topic to the Father.

I was listening to a teaching a few years ago by Michael Pearl where he used a story to expand his topic. I loved the story and I think it beautifully illustrates what “God is up to” concerning His gift of Mercy to us all. This is his “story.”

“What do you think would happen if I put a sign in my front yard that said:

‘I buy rocks. $1 each?

For a while everyone would be a bit curious, but no one would take me seriously. Eventually, though, someone would stop by and ask about the sign. I would tell them that I buy any and all rocks for $1 a piece. I’d tell them that if they show up in my driveway with a bag of rocks, I will give them a $1 bill for each and every rock in the bag. They’d laugh of course, but eventually, someone would give it a try – probably because someone else dared them. Then I’d proceed to give them $1 for every rock. Soon, word would spread, and before long, people would line the streets with truck loads of rocks, waiting in line for Mike to pay them $1 for each and every rock. I know that some folks would ask me why I would do such a thing. I know that they’d wonder what value I see in plain old rocks. I know they’d be suspicious of my motives because they’d be certain that rocks aren’t worth a dollar and a truck load of rocks isn’t worth tens of thousands of dollars. But, whether they understand my antics or not, they’d show up to cash in something “worthless” for something “valuable” . . . whether they understand or not. That would be the smart thing to do. It’s a good deal!”

I think that is an acceptable picture of mercy. The Bible says that God’s mercies are new every morning and that His mercies endure forever. He assures us that we have NOT been dealt with according to our iniquities but according to HIS MERCY. It doesn’t make sense to us that we could constantly, continually, daily (if not hourly?) present our Father with our failings only to receive His priceless mercy and forgiveness in exchange ~ over and over again! Pouring out mercy to undeserving children is one of the ways that God attempts to convince us of our incredible value and eternal worth – in His eyes.

Mercy. What a priceless, generous gift! Exchanging our failures and mistakes for forgiveness and a second chance ~ EVERY TIME! We don’t have to be able to comprehend it all, we simply have to trust God when he says:

I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.

(Exodus 33:19)

Mercy . . . It’s a good deal :)

(Also posted @ The Internet Cafe)

Of Utmost Concern (by Michael Pearl)

October 4, 2008

I think most of you feel as I do about many common issues. My most important personal concern is my children. Even before I was married, my occupation, financial security, ministry, personal fulfillment, all took third place to concerns for my future children.  “What does it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul?” Likewise, what does it profit a father if he gains the whole world and loses the souls of his children?

What can be called success if your children turn out to be part of the world’s problem rather than its cure? What satisfaction can there be in the comforts of material success if your children grow up needing counsel rather than being sought after to give counsel? If your children lie awake at night suffering from guilt and anxiety, being gnawed upon by the demons of intemperance and self-indulgence, how can you enjoy your food or your pillow?

The success of a tree and a man is measured by the fruit that is borne. The fruit of a man or woman is their children; everything else is falling leaves.

If the sun rises and sets and I never cast a bigger shadow, what of it, if my children are growing and  flourishing in God’s family? Let me die poor; let me die early; let me be ravaged by disease; just let my children rise up and call me blessed. Let me not measure my giving by the dollars I spend on them or the educational opportunities that my station in life affords them, but rather, by the hours I spend with them in fellowship.

May they graduate from my tutorship to become disciples of the Man from Nazareth. May they learn good and evil from the pinnacle of obedience rather than from the pit of despair. May they have the wisdom to choose the precious, and the courage to reject the trite and the vain things in life. May they always labor for the meat that endures.

May they be lovers of God, coworkers with the Holy Spirit, and a friend to the Lord Jesus. And when their trail ends, may it end at the throne of God, laying crowns at the Savior’s feet.  (Michael Pearl)

Father, never let me forget. . .  everything else is falling leaves . . .

Counting Sparrows

September 13, 2008
After the recent hurricane, Gustav, my husband and I attempted to drive through town to our home to check out any damage. (We stayed with my parents during the storm.) We weren’t prepared for much of what we saw. Hurricane force winds can do unbelievable damage. Every street and yard was littered with trees and sheets of metal roofing that came from who knows where. Huge oak trees were laying on their sides as if a giant child had simply pushed them over. Power lines were mangled and hanging in every direction.

A short while later, back at Mom’s house, I was taking photos of the area when I discovered this bird’s nest.

Before that day, I had not noticed it. It had probably been hidden by a few more leaves before the storm. It was unbelievable to me that it was still intact after enduring 90 mph winds the previous day. And . . . it wasn’t even in a tree! The nest had been built in a single grape vine that was clinging to a small arbor. I walked around it, looking at it from every angle, trying to figure out how in the world the nest had managed to stay in one piece and remain in its very fragile environment.

Earlier, during our drive, I saw once-massive pine trees laying in splinters and huge oaks resting on crashed roof tops and one street after the other, blocked by fallen power lines with trees on top of them. And yet, here was this bird’s nest ~ untouched ~ in a tiny grape vine. In the midst of my amazement, while gawking at the nest and trying to discover its secret, I suddenly noticed – in the background, beyond the nest – a large fallen tree. It had been broken at its trunk as if it had been a twig.

“God, what in the world was going on during that storm?”
Suddenly, the nest and the tree were a picture to me of life on this planet ~ a picture that represents all of those questions we’re saving up for God ~ a picture of “those days” when we are ready to throw in the towel because 2 + 2 never quite equals 4.
Those days leave us all struggling to catch our breath. Way too often . . . life doesn’t make sense. Good people – who love God – struggle under the weight of heavy loss. Selfish people – who live lives of total disregard for any person or any god but themselves – seem to enjoy lives of abundance and ease. And every now and then, in the midst of it, almost involuntarily, we hear ourselves whisper . . .

“God, what in the world is going on?”

Why does God allow the loss, the confusion, the lack, the wait? Why does a 100 year old oak fall, and a bird’s nest remain untouched? Why do saintly people sometimes suffer and at the same time, professional sinners seem to cruise through life unscathed? I suspect that even if Father God chose to explain a few details – we’d scarcely grasp them.

The truth is that He alone is able to see the entire mosaic that He has been building since before time began, whereas we can barely comprehend the single tile that we’ve been placed on. These are the days when we must choose to trust an ever faithful God whose actions (or inactions) we may not understand. He loves us. He only has our ultimate, eternal good in mind. He is faithful. And He is glorified when we trust Him during the confusion.
Deep down, of course, we know these things about our God. We really do. We know that we can’t comprehend His immeasurable love for us. We know that He has plans for our lives. (Jeremiah 29:11) We know that He promises . . . never to leave us nor forsake us.” (Joshua 1:5) We know that He has . . . engraved our names on the palms of His hands. (Isaiah 49:16) We know that He is holy and awesome and good and truly a perfect parent. We know . . . in our heads. Our hearts, however, sometimes need reminders.
Soooooo . . . . I am asking the Father to use the picture of the bird’s nest and the fallen tree to remind me that in the midst of powerful, destructive, fear-inducing storms in life, that He is not only capable of holding my lifemy nest - together, but He desires to do so! I am asking Him to whisper in my ear a reminder of an intact bird’s nest after 90 mph winds. I am asking Him to use the storms of life – not to bring fear – but to remind me of a God whose hand and whose love is mightier than ANY storm.

If He saw fit to save a bird’s nest . . . if He’s still counting sparrows. . .

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. (Matthew 10:29)

And if He’s still counting the hairs on our heads . . .

And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. (Matthew 10:30)

Then He is STILL waiting for us to trust that His arms are long enough to reach into our lives and hold us through our present storms . . .

He is enough.

As for God, His way is perfect!
(Psalm 18:30)

(Also posted at The Internet Cafe’)

no adequate words . . .

August 27, 2008

God’s word tells us.

(…These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you would have peace. In the world you will have tribulation, trials, difficulties, but take courage; I have overcome the world” John 16:33)

It’s not like we’re uninformed. We know these things happen. But, sometimes, there’s no way to prepare and there just aren’t any adequate words.

David and Marsha have a young son in heaven tonight. Please pray for their comfort. They understand that Jesus has overcome the world – but today – they could use our prayers.

Please read a sweet tribute to precious 3 year old who is being missed very much today.

Father, we trust in you.

Image Bearer

August 19, 2008

This is the heart of our enemy. He is determined to hinder and harm and ruin God’s image bearer. To steal and kill and destroy. So, let me say this again: the story of our life is the story of the long and brutal assault on your heart by the one who KNOWS what you could be . . . and FEARS it!”
(
Walking the Dead by John Eldredge)



OK . . . A show of hands . . . who among us is certain that – today – you are adequately bearing the image of God for all to see? . . . anyone? . . .

No? . . . A little? . . . maybe on a good day? . . . sometimes?

In Genesis 1:26 God says: “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness . . .” And here’s the thing I’ve learned about God: He has never spoken a single syllable that He doesn’t mean. He has never, not once, been careless with His word.

And He has not changed His mind about us – His image bearers.

We are made in His image. We are His image bearers on this mess of a planet. Our problem is that we look in the mirror with our natural eyes and we trust what they see. And what they see, most often, is not all that ‘Godly looking’.

Yet, in the beginning, God decided (without any arm-twisting on our part) to create a people unto Himself and He decided to make them in His own image. In His own image . . . God wanted his children to look like Him – not on the outside, but on the inside.

If you ever run into any one of my five children, you’d have trouble believing that they belong to me – they don’t look like me. (My sissy-girl Cajun French genetics were no match for hubby’s pure Italian genes) But if you were ever to have a conversation with any of my 5, your doubts would disappear. Deep down, under all the layers of dark Italian skin and dark eyes, are traces of my heart. Some of the things I love, they love. Some of the things that break my heart – also hurt them. Certain traditions that are important to me have become important to them. On any given day they could tell you how I’d react to almost any situation.

The (hidden) genetic contribution is there, and, by living in close proximity to them for years, so also is the spiritual and emotional contribution. It’s simply not visible to natural eyes.

It is much the same with God the Father. He has made us in His image. We are eternal, spiritual beings – like our Father. We have an eternal destiny that most Christ followers struggle to believe about themselves. God looks at His blood-bought children, and has this to say about us:

I have made them a kingdom, a royal race, and priests . . . and they shall reign as kings.

I know, I know . . . I don’t “see” it either! But our enemy does! He knows that we are God’s image bearers here on this earth but he doesn’t want US to really grasp that. He knows that we are part of a royal race of priests and kings. He doesn’t want us to understand that as a daughter (or son) of the kingdom, that the power that raised Christ from the dead is at our disposal. He doesn’t want us to really believe that moving mountains is part of our birthright. He doesn’t want us to discover that as a child of the King, an image bearer of the Creator of all the universe, that he – the enemy – is subject to US and not vice versa.

And so begins the “long and brutal assault on your heart” as John Eldredge writes. In an effort to keep us from fully walking in all of the power and glory and victory and peace that is ours in Jesus, our enemy, Satan, delivers ‘cheap shots’ to our hearts from every possible direction. In order to assure that we never truly grasp the enormity of being made in the image of our Creator, he peppers all of life with difficult people and situations. And all of this is an effort to distract us from the truth – that our enemy KNOWS and FEARS what we would become if we were ever to agree with the Father about our lineage and begin to walk in it.

It’s time to claim what has been bought for us, with a price. Our Father has provided for peace and joy and freedom and victory in the midst of what appears to be our very ordinary lives. But image bearers of the KING do not have to live ordinary lives. Our enemy understands that. Do we?

Eye has not seen nor ear heard all the good things God has made ready and stored up for those who serve Him wholeheartedly! (1 Cor. 2:9)


Now to HIM who by the power that is at work WITHIN US, is able to do super-abundantly far over and above all that we (dare) ask or think (infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, hopes or dreams) . . . (Ephesians 3:20)

(Also posted at The Internet Cafe’)



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