Isaiah 6:8

8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”

Friday, December 21, 2007

Christmas Vacation BRHS style

"Twas the day of our Christmas break, and all through our halls,
The children were testing, no talking at all.

The teachers were grading those last minute things
In the gym you could hear all the boys and girls sing.

The grades were all posted and ready to average
The last cookie eaten by some starving savage
And I in my holiday shirt and Chad in his wheelchair
Had just started giving our fourth block nightmare
When out in the hall there arose such a clatter
The kids rushed the door to see what was the matter
Away to the door I flew like a demon
To see what in God's name was causing such screamin'
The student he stood in the hall all alone
Holding his stomach...he cried and he moaned
I asked him if I needed to call our school nurse
He just shook his head and his lips he did purse.
He pointed to a sheet posted high on the wall
He said he'd passed English and started to squall.
His reaction confused me....for me I would yell
He stood there a staring as if under a spell
Then reality hit him like a ton of big bricks
and he ran down the hall....lickety split.
My students completed their finals and waited...
For Mr. D. to say...."Have a wonderful Christmas Vacation!"

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Martha's in the World Unite

Let me ask you...what are you worried or distracted by? What things in your life keep you from simply sitting at the feet of Jesus and hearing the Word of God? Do you believe that you can become too distracted? can...and I want to talk about two people with differing views on life. Our first person is Martha....the elder sister....who has invited Jesus to come to her house and eat and rest. The second person is Mary...the younger sister....who simply wants to sit at the feet of Jesus and listen to him. is not long before Martha becomes very upset that Mary is not helping. Martha wants that meal to be perfect....because it is for Jesus....and she becomes so focused on the preparation....that she loses sight of the guest. So Martha goes to Jesus and whines that she is doing it all by herself.....sound familiar? Jesus tells her....that she should not be so worried and bothered by so many things....that is only one thing necessary....and Mary has chosen that one thing. She chose to listen to the Word of be with Christ. The rest is merely fluff. Clearly Martha has lost her perspective and the meaning of her work. What Martha did was not wrong...she wanted to prepare a nice meal....but she did it for the wrong reasons. So often in life we lose our purpose. We are busy people.....with work, hobbies, and family. All of this stuff causes us to lose focus on the one person that can give our lives meaning.
Ok, so deviating from my story a bit....when 24 hours in a day are not enough, think about this....

A professor stood before his Philosophy class and had some items in front of him. When the class began, wordlessly, he picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls. He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was.

The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. the pepples rolled into the open areas between the golf balls. He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed once more that it was.

The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else. He asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded with a unanimous, "Yes!"

The professor then produced two cups of coffee from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar, effectively filling the empty space between the sand. the students laughed.

"Now, " said the professor, as the laughter subsided, "I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life. The golf balls are the important things - your God, family, your children, your health, your friends, and your favorite passions - things that if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full."

"The pebbles are the other things that matter, like your job, your house, and your car." "The sand is everything else - the small stuff." "If you put the sand in the jar first, " he continued, "there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls. The same goes for life."

"If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff, you will never have room for the things that are important to you." "Pay attention to all the things that are critical to your happiness."

"Play with your children, take time to get medical check-ups, take your someone special to dinner, play another 18 holes, remember there will always be time to clean the house and fix the disposal."

"Take care of the golf balls first, the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand."

One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the coffee represented. The professor smiled, "I am so glad you asked." "It just goes to show you that no matter how full your life may seem, there is always room for a couple of cups of coffee with a friend."

We are so caught up with the action of doing....we are a people that feel liek we need to be doing something to be affective....that we lose the joy of simply being. We need to have a purpose in living. Mary and Martha had went to get the meal ready....the be with Christ. One was intent on doing....the other intent on being. Which direction have you chosen? Christmas is a time to focus on being. A toast to all my fellow Martha's in this world...take some time out this holiday season....and enjoy....stop and smell the Christmas trees!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

the Secret of the Twelve Days of Christmas

Rhonda and I sang the Twelve Days of Christmas on Friday night at a Christmas party for Frontier Knit. It was a last minute addition and somewhere in the back of my mind...I knew that this beloved song had a spiritual meaning but could not remember what it was. I went home and googled it and this is what I found. I wanted to share it with you all. People often think of the Twelve Days of Christmas as the days preceding the festival. Actually, Christmas is a season of the Christian Year that last for days beginning December 25th and lasting until January 6th - the Day of Epiphany - when the church celebrates the revelation of Christ as the Light Of The World, and recalls the journey of the Magi. From 1558 until 1829 people in England were not allowed to practice their faith openly. During this era someone wrote the "Twelve Days of Christmas" as a kind of secret catechism that could be sung in public without risk of persecution. The song has two levels of interpretation: "the surface meaning plus a hidden meaning known only to members of the church." Each element in the carol is a code word for religious reality.
1. The partridge in a pear tree is Christ
2. The two turtledoves are the Old and New Testaments
3. The three French hens stand for faith, hope and love.
4. The four calling birds are the four Gospels.
5. The five gold rings recall the torah (Law) the first five books of the Old Testament.
6. The six geese a-laying stand for the six days of creation.
7. The seven swans a-swimming represent the sevenfold gifts of the Spirit.
8. The eight maids a-milking are the eight beatitudes.
9. The nine ladies dancing are the nine fruits of the Spirit.
10. The ten lords a-leaping are the Ten Commandments.
11. The eleven pipers piping stand for the eleven faithful disciples.
12. The twelve drummers drumming symbolize the 12 points of belief in the Apostles Creed.
There you have it, the Hidden meaning of the "Twelve Days of Christmas" and the secret behind the song. Next time you sing it...think about the underlying message it proclaimed in England so many years ago.

Happy Holidays!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Party On Dudes and Dudettes!

Are you a party person? I am. I love giving them, going to them, planning them and catering them. I love the concept of a party from start to finish. I read a story by Donald Davis about a disastrous birthday know the ones...we have all had them. I have had probably more than most. I think because I love them so muchand put so much into them...mine tend to let me down more often than not. Anyways, back to the Donald Davis story....a little boy invites his class to his birthday party....his mom was anxious about inviting one little girl....because she was not their kind. When his mom asked his dad what to do...the dad responded with, "Oh, don't worry, they won't come. They don't have a car and they aren't what you would call, "Party People"!" When the child asked what was wrong with the little girl...his mom replied that she smelled funny....he did not understand that...because she smelled fine to she was on a camping trip....a permanent camping trip. so 14 invitations were sent out....including one to Barbara.
About 5 o'clock on the day of the party, the little boy got sick. Meal losing know the kind....losing about a meal every three minutes. A virus had gotten him a day before the thing he was most looking forward to. He feared the words his mom was going to say, "We'll have to call off the party." His mom went off to call the 14 mommas to tell them the party was cancelled. She actually only got 13...because Barbara's family did not have a phone. Dad eased her concerns with, "That's alright. I told you they have no they won't be here...besides, they are not "Party People"."
The next day about noon there was a knock at the door. There stood Barbara and her mom. Behind them, waiting patiently was a taxi. Donald's mom was so embarrassed. "I am so sorry I didn't call," she said. Barbara's mom smiled sweetly and said, "It is okay, we already knew. Mrs. Jones has a phone and she told us. We would not have come if you were having the party. We never were, you know, what you'd call "Party People." Barbara brought Donald a was a 39 cent plastic car kit.....she gave it to his mom....and they were gone.
That night at dinner as Donald thought about his day and the little plastic car he had worked on all afternoon, he announced to his mom. "Next year I want another birthday party but I am only going to ask Barbara. They are the only real party people I know."
This story is a message about all the ugliness, sinfulness, hurtfulness and brokenness that people are capable of in our world. In their poverty, smelliness, they came to a little boy on his birthday as if to say everyone is repulsed but Jesus. They came and it reminds each of us that some way or another, in poverty or smelly, or imperfect and flawed; the only one who looks at our ugliness and sees the beauty is Jesus. When others exclude us, when others reject us, when others do not invite us, Jesus does. When others shun us and turn their backs and reject us and hurt us, Jesus sits and has supper with us. When others look at us and are repulsed...Jesus kisses us. In Jesus....we each become a Party Person. At this time of the year especially....and throughout the rest of the year....may you wake up each and every morning and strive to be a "Party Person."

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Unexplained Things

Sorry there was no blog yesterday....I was having a blue day. About 11:00 I learned that someone I thought I knew well had committed suicide. I have a problem with suicide. I think it is a cowards way out of problems, but my biggest problem with suicide is the fact that it leaves a wake of mess for the family to have to deal with. It leaves questions left unanswered, feelings left unspoken, so many undone finishing touches and bless their hearts...this one leaves two young adults to plan a funeral for a mother right here at Christmas time. The sad thing about this death is that several years ago...they buried their father from the same finality....and now....they are doing it again. During my lifetime I have dealt with death a is never easy....especially at the holidays....but the hardest ones to cope with are the death of a child, the death of a non-Christian....and a death by their own hand. The death of a child is difficult because it seems a bit unnatural when a parent outlives a child. During our lives we are born....we age....we that order....and when that order is interrupted it makes life weird. When a non-Christian dies it is very sad....because you find yourself asking questions about their final resting....did they make peace with God at the end....what happens to a non-Christian after death. This is an especially hard thought for Christian family members of the non-Christian. Death by suicide is the saddest of all. The family is left with so many unanswered questions and thoughts...and feelings....and they will never have the answers they will search for....God has given each of us a wonderful physical do His work with. He gave us a chance to do such great things....and many times we let Him down in big ways. I have not always been all that I could be...but I have never given up....totally. My thoughts today go out to my friends family....may God watch over you during this season....and it also issues each of you a challenge to never totally give is so precious....handle it with care. Have a great day! K

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Loss At Christmas

Nothing is harder than a loss during the holidays except maybe the first holiday without your loved one. I was at the funeral home last night, my son-in-law's grandmother died on Sunday, and watched all the people interact with each other and cope with the feeling of loss....of course last night it was still fresh and they really had not had time to deal with the empty place the death of their loved one will leave. As I stood beside my daughter I was carried back many years ago...43 to be a time when I was a child standing there...and we were going through these same motions over the death of my younger brother. It was so hard. As a child of 9 I truly did not understand all the emptiness his death would leave. It was like a huge gaping hole...and that hole has been there ever since. Every time I look at my parents I wonder....what are they thinking...the only son my father has the one I call my husband. The strange thing about that is...Frank is my brother's age. Do my parent's ever think about that? I have a time or two. I have wondered many times what my life would have been like if he were still here. I have thought long and hard about choices I made...would I have made different ones. We are all products of our upbringing...and our without that piece of different would my life have been? These questions used to drive me crazy....but when my daughter Kathryn was born...the questions kind of faded see...things happen in life for a reason...and if they don't happen....then you are not who you will be someone else. It has been a long hard road to become who I am. I like myself...I like my life....I love my family....I love what I do...I love it is Christmas time again....and I feel a void coming on. Sigh! Mr. Jones will have a void this year....his mother will not be with him anymore. Oh he will have all his memories of his childhood....and his life since he became an adult....but there will be no more momma hugs. Brian, my son-in-law...will not have a grandmother to visit this year...but you know...I have goes ....and life goes on. We truly are all part of a bigger plan. Mrs. Jones went peacefully in her sleep. That is what I want to do...just go to sleep and never wake up...and if that is God's plan for me....that is how it will happen. I wish Brian and his family much love....and a sense of peace during this holiday season....I know Mrs. Jones will be sorely missed....but we all know she is in a much better place....God Bless You All This Holiday Season! K

Monday, December 10, 2007

14 days and Counting

Today is December 10th. I am one of those people you love to hate. I start my Christmas shopping on January 1st and shop all year long. I am a gift giver. I love to find the perfect gift....the one that will make the recipients eyes light up....the thing they have wanted forever and did not even know it. The great thing about beginning my shopping so that I am finished by Labor Day. I always save a couple of presents to buy during the holiday season....just because I love the spirit of Christmas...everyone smiles a little longer, speaks a little softer, enjoys a little more, it is truly the most wonderful time of the year. I learned from the best about gift giving. I received the greatest gift ever when I was sixteen. I would love to tell you it was a new car....but it wasn't. I would love to say a big stereo system....complete with 8 track player and recorder...but it wasn't. It was something that has never left me...and I have had it for the past 37 years. My greatest gift....was not something Santa brought ....or my parents gave greatest...most perfect gift....was my salvation. You know...that moment in time...when God came to the form of a baby....who grew to be a man....who died on a cross....for my sins. I did not find it under a Christmas tree. I found it at an altar....where I humbly bowed.....and asked God to come into my heart. If you have not received your Christmas gift prayer today is that you will open your heart, hear God knocking....and invite him in....this Christmas. Don't let another year go by....without having Christ in your heart and as your Lord and Savior. Believe is the ultimate Christmas I can't buy for you....but I would love to show you. Merriest of Christmases....and God Bless You One and All.

Friday, December 7, 2007

The Gentle Approach

You know....everyone wants friends. Everyone needs friends...It is a medical fact that people who have friends live longer. The eighth fruit of the Spirit is gentleness....and Philippians 4:5 tells us to "show a gentle attitude toward everyone." Gentleness is controlling your reactions to people. It is CHOOSING your response rather than simply reacting. If someone serves understanding toward them...don't be demanding. How do you treat people who serve you? How do you treat restaurant workers, clerks, secretaries, janitors? Are you rude and demanding? Do you understand that their day may have been lousy too? The secret to getting great service is to treat people with respect. I learned a valuable lesson at BRHS....if you want your room cleaned....give the janitor a red velvet cake for Christmas...why red velvet? It is his favorite. How do I know? I took time to ask.
When someone disappoints gracious....not judgmental. Watch out for that holier than thou art attitude. Don't be caught up in judging....or you might find yourself being judged.
What is your reaction when someone you know or love messes up? Do you secretly think....I told you so....or serves you right....or the could you be such an idiot? You know....even Jesus was confronted with the adulteress....and he told the crowd that whoever was without sin should cast the first stone....and all the rocks were dropped. When we get the urge to be judgmental....we need to drop the rocks and think about how much forgiveness God has shown to us.
When someone disagrees with us....we should be tender without surrender. You can't please deal with it. Your relationship with the person involved is more important than the point trying to be made.....
Be teachable...not unreachable. Use your ears more than your willing to accept correction....the wisest people I know have a "teach me" attitude and are willing to learn from others. Gentleness is a willingness to learn and admit you were wrong.
Be an actor....not a reactor. I don't mean pretend....I mean someone who initiates action. When someone hurts an actor....strength is found in gentleness.....handle hurt without retaliating. Gentleness is not letting someone else decide your reaction. Being gentle is not always the easiest way. are not cannot do it by matter what kind of bionic will power you think you have....want to be gentle? Turn to God. Gentleness will be there! Peace to you all!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Sweet Child of Mine

To each of my Children,
I remember once… .a long time ago….I asked God…., "Do you think I should have a baby?" "It will change your life," God said back to me. I did not know exactly what he meant…so I laughed and said…”there would be no more sleeping in on weekends, no more spontaneous vacations." …and you know how I love those spontaneous trips… But that is not what God meant at all.
God wanted to let me know that the physical wounds of child bearing would heal, (and for me it would make a great story….) He wanted me to know that becoming a mother would leave me with an emotional wound so raw that I would forever be vulnerable. I would never again read a newspaper without asking, "What if that had been MY child?" That every plane crash, every house fire would haunt me.. When I saw pictures of starving children, I would wonder if anything could be worse than watching my beloved child die. I honestly can’t think of anything that would hurt me more. As a mother to you….I understand more what happened in my mother’s heart and head when Dougie died. I realized that no matter how sophisticated I wanted to be….becoming a mother reduced me to the, primitive level of a bear protecting her cub. That an urgent call of "Mom!" could cause me to drop a soufflé or my best crystal without a moments hesitation. I feel that no matter how many years I have invested in my career, I was to be professionally derailed by motherhood. I arranged for childcare, but one day I was sitting in a faculty meeting and I thought of your baby's sweet smell. I had to use every ounce of discipline to keep from running home, just to make sure that you were all right. I cut classes all day at AUM the first time you stayed at nursery…because I could not stand to see bigger children taking toys from you. I could not stand being away from the warm and smell of you. All of my every day decisions were no longer routine. When Eric, as a five year old boy, desired to go to the men's room rather than the women's at McDonald's it became a major dilemma. That right there, in the midst of clattering trays and screaming children, issues of independence and gender identity had to be weighed against the prospect that a child molester may be lurking in that restroom….and believe me…the thoughts were there and very powerful. I almost had to clear the men’s bathroom….so I could just be there…in case Eric needed me. However decisive I have been in the classroom, I have second-guessed myself constantly as a mother. Looking at my grown children, I wish I could assure each of you that eventually I learned that I may or may not shed the pounds of pregnancy, and I have never felt the same about myself. I learned through each of you that my life, now so important, became of lesser value to me once I had a child. I would give myself up in a moment to save any of you, and also have hoped for more years, not to accomplish my own dreams, but to watch you all accomplish yours. I want you all to know that a cesarean scar or shiny stretch marks became badges of honor. My relationship with your dad changed…but not the way I thought it would. You all made me a whole person. You are the Ying to my Yang.
As your mother I have a special bond that I feel with other women throughout history who have tried to stop war, prejudice and drunk driving. I wish I could vividly describe to you guys the exhilaration of seeing each of you learn to ride a bike. I wish I could have captured for you the belly laugh of a baby who is touching the soft fur of a dog or cat for the first time. I honestly can say that I have tasted a joy that is so real it actually hurts. If you were here beside me right now….and were to look at me right now… you would see that tears have formed in my eyes. "I'll never regret having experienced motherhood with any of you. " You are all what gave life sense to me....and for that I will be eternally greatful.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Something Lost Regained

On Sunday one of my good friends and fellow co-workers, Vickie, had an open house. Several of us went down to kick off the Christmas Season of endless parties and gatherings. When you opened the door to her knew you were in a Christmas fantasy land. Her home was breathtaking. Everywhere you looked were reminders of what this season was all about. You felt as if you had stepped right into the pages of a House Beautiful. Our lovely hostess met us at the door and greeted us all with a hug and a smile. This began and evening of true delight and wonder. All over her house people talked animatedly, smiled joyously, and ate as if there was no tomorrow. Then we moved upstairs to the game room and played games....humming songs to find a partner, passing a ball around to a rapidly fired story, and guessing Christmas thoughts off of our backs....everyone laughed....and thoroughly enjoyed themselves....halfway through the games I paused and looked at all my fellow collegues. Many of us had been on staff for a long time....and over the past few years have become less and less of a family unit....and more and more of a workplace.....PERIOD. It was so perfect to feel that familial bond begin again....everyone seemed to hate to leave. I don't know if Vickie planned it that way....but she sparked a fire that I thought had seed....many years ago...when I first joined this staff...we used to do that....have Christmas parties at someone house....and an end of the year bash too.....but over the years....those pleasantries died....and our Christmas dinner...began taking the cold and impersonal school cafeteria...the bond of family....died slowly....But...Sunday night it appeared again....and on Monday morning....those of us who attended....met each other in the halls ....still laughing over the night befores gaity. Monday morning....I actually looked forward to coming to school and seeing my co-workers....Vickie....gave us the shot in the arm we needed (a pun here....Vickie is also a nurse)....and she provided us with a Christmas healing. Thanks Vickie....for opening up your home and letting us all rest and heal a bit. You taught us all the meaning of Christmas on Sunday....and we will carry it with us for a bit. Merry Christmas all.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Life Lesson Part IV

Let me tell you the Good News according to Karen. Jeremiah 1:5 says, "I knew you before I formed you in your mother's womb. Before you were born I set you apart and annointed you as my spokesman to the world." Is that not an awesome concept? I think so. On an Ash Wednesday night I was fortunate enough to see The Passion of the Christ. I have always known what the price was for my salvation...somehow seeing it in living color...left me speechless...and ashamed. John 3:16 tells us...."For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son...that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish...but have everlasting life...God loves me...He loves me so much....that He sent His only Son to live on this earth as a mortal...and die for sins He did not commit. Ephesians 1:5,7 tells us, "He destines us for adoption as His children through Jesus Christ...In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace...His grace...I can tell is definitely sufficient for me. He loves you...He loves you very much too...and He showed you and me just how much He loved us...when Jesus, His only Son spread our His arms on the cross and died. The Marine term...Semper Fi...means....Always Faithful...that is a motto....that even though I am not a marine...I can live up to daily as a Christian...and that is my goal....Semper Fi.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Patience is NOT My Virtue!

I am not the poster child for patience. The famous educator John Dewey said that the most useful virtue in the world was patience. We need it all the time an we need it everywhere. Proverbs 16:32 says, "It is better to be patient than powerful. It is better to win control over yourself than over whole cities." I , like many of you, prayed for patience....once. I was going through a really hard time at home....and began to pray earnestly. "Lord, give me patience," I prayed. Everynight I prayed and prayed hard....for the all illusive patience. I expected immediate results...what I got was harder I prayed again...."Lord, please....give me patience."....and things got even worse. It took me quite a while to realize that God was working patience through me....trial by fire....I is easy to look patient when your seas are smooth...but when things don't go your way...the true colors come out....I truly did pray for patience...but I was putting time constraints on the Lords work. I wanted patience....and NOW! I, much like Lucy in the Peanuts cartoon, prayed for patience and then quit....because I was afraid I might actually get some. Noah waited 120 years for the rain...HE was patient. Abraham waited 100 years for a son....Moses, 40 years in the desert...and then another 40 years leading the Children of Israel across to the Promised Land. They waited in the Old Testament....for the Messiah to come....The Bible is a book about waiting...Why? Waiting demonstrates faith...and faith is pleasing to God. The hardest kind of waiting happens...when you are in a hurry....and God isn't. How long can you wait? God is never late....His timing is perfect. He may not move on our schedules...but He is always on time. Why should we be patient? Because God is....and we are to be like Him! Have a peacefully patient day!

Friday, November 30, 2007

Lessons Part III

God has shaped me in many ways. He shaped me to care about others. I love ASP. Any of you who know me know this is a contradiction at it's finest. I hate getting dirty. I did not even like getting dirty as a child. No mud pies for me. I am also totally inept with power tools....and I am definitely not into group showers....but was not what I wanted here....this was all about God's plan for me. ASP gave me a sense of purpose....when I had none....and it gave me a church family that I so desperately needed. My first year was unbelievable and so were the four that followed. I have great stories I love to share about my experiences...complete with voice sound effects.

God has shaped me with a voice to use to spread His word. I love singing. I will sing anywhere...anytime. I love singing from the stage at the Arbor...I love singing at the local nursing homes. My parents sing with a group o retired folks...called the Sunshine Singers...and Mrs. Geraldine Forbus, the leader, always seems to know when I am on vacation....and she will call me to come sing with them...and to bring a special. There is something very touching about singing with those little weathered faces to those little weathered faces...some of them know me...some of them knew me in another world...but they all recognize the love of God...and they are so precious as they praise with the music. No mater where...I love singing for the Lord. I think when I retire from teaching...I would like to sing for Hospice. I don't even have to get paid for would be my priviledge...just to do it.

God has shaped me to care for the youth of this community. I teach at the local high school and love it. I love my kids...every one of them. I have been teaching at BRHS for 15 years....and have had close to 2500 students in the period of time. I have worked with the prom...directed the Senior play...sponsored various clubs....painted....decorated floats...chaperoned dances...and believe me...I do not do it for the pay...if I did....i would have chosen another field to go into. I do it because this is where God wanted me to be...and it has given me an opportunity to touch lives. I have a degree in Social Work and Education....but God's shaping came in the response of a prayer and the timing of a phone call. When I graduated from college I could not find a job...I applied with DHR and with the Alex City Board of Education...and then....I prayed. I asked God to give me a sign and let me know where he wanted me to be. Dr. Dunaway called at 9:15...39 minutes after my prayer....and offered me a job at BRHS....DHR called me an hour later....but God's plan was already being carried out...I said yes to Mickey Dunaway...and the rest is history. I don't know about you...but I am a most fortunate person...I get up every morning...and go to a job I love with all my heart. On Sundays I sing in a service I love with a a Lord I love more than a congregation that I absolutely adore. It just doesn't get much better than this...God is truly good...all the time.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Life Lesson Part II

I have had numerous life lessons from God...from a very early age. My mom used to tell me with every lesson that God was building my character...and I used to wish He would get through with me and move on to someone else. I took a bible study once with a remarkable bunch of women. It was a Beth Morre study called, "When Godly People Do Ungodly Things." I leared about being sifted and building character. I also learned more about how Satan is alive and well and living right her among us. I began to understand some of my life's lessons. In our study we spend a great deal of time on Lot. Hewas an amazing fellow...with all that happened to him....he still did not curse the Lord...and in the end....the Lord blessed him twice fold.

My first life lesson was when my brother died tragically. We were both very young and during the space of that same year I also lost two uncles I dearly loved. My little world was devastated. My family was devastated. I did not understand why this was happening. I questioned God. My aunt had 12 children and yet God took my only brother. I was not sure we would survive. But survive we did. Oh, I have battle scars....but they only show you that I am a warrior....I do not know how I would have survived...without God.

My second major life lesson was the year my children were in a boat explosion....Kathryn was 14. She was burned the worst. She had first, second, and third degree burns on over 40% of her body...the lower part of her body. I have never in my life felt so parents...and all of my good praying friends were all out of town for Memorial Day Weekend. I walked into the emergency room...totally unprepared for the smell of burning flesh and hair...and the sight of my child hurt. The ER nurse slid a rolling chair under me and it was a good thing because I honestly believed that I was headed for the floor. I made my way forward, the nurse shook her head at me letting me know that pity was not welcome in this room. Kat asked me to get the sticks and pine straw our of her was only when I began to remove them that I realized it was neither sticks nor pine was her glorious red hair I was brushing out in handfuls. Once Kat dozed off into a drug-induced sleep...I slipped out and called my deacon, David. I do not remember what I told him....but it seemed like when I turned around he was there...I knew God was too. Survive?....well you know we did. Kat and I built a good bit of character that summer....scared?...there is a small strawberry scar on her left leg....and I know where the burns were the worst....I see them every single time I look at her legs....but can you see them? Nope. god made sure of that.

Divorce was probably the hardest life lesson I have ever learned. After 25 years of trying to keep a marriage together....God sent me Keith Elder to get me through this time...and through...Keith, God, and prayer....God let me know it was ok to walk away....and walk I did. I was amazed. I could not believe that a scarlet A did not instantly appear on me...I did a lot of talking to God at this was during this time I learned....if you talk....God will listen. Psalms 46:1-2 says, "God is our refuge and strength, and ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, thought the earth may give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea." Once again I survived.

I Peter 1:7 tells us, "these trials are only to test your faith, to show that it is strong and pure. It is being tested as fire purfies gold. - your faith is far more precious to God than mere gold."

Amen to that! I am living proof....that life truly does go on!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Life Lesson Part I

I think I have always been a least I cannot remember a time when Christ and Church were not very important in my life. I was a lucky one...I had parents who not only took me to church, they stayed and worshipped with me. Both of my parents were very active in church...and so...the life circle continued. I began singing in the Children's choir at age 3 and loved it. I found my passion at an early age...Lucky me! By the time I was in Junior High I was singing in both New Dawn, the youth touring choir, and the Aolean Choir. By the time I reached high school I was still singing in the Aolean Choir and New Dawn...but I had also auditioned for....and was singing in our Chancel Choir. I was in heaven. Ask me what my high school days were like...and to be honest I cannot tell you a whole lot about them...ask me what my church life was like and I can gab for hours. Church was my life....My friends were special teachers were family was boyfriend was was good.

At 16 I was baptized in Ron and JoAnn Earle's swimming pool after a youth retreat weekend called Bridge Over Troubled Waters. it was the most electrifying experience of my life...but being a Christian was a hard job. I had a hard time living up to perfection. I did not get the idea....that Christians are not perfect...they are just forgiven. At 19 I broke up with the love of my life....and moved....well...that is a mild word...ran would be closer to the truth. I ended up here in Alabama....and my passion....well it dwindled. I was hurting and I shut God out. It was not until I found the Alexander City Independent Methodist Church and a young minister neamed John Mark Wilson...that I found my muse....and voice again.

I sang for a long time...and then ...being a Christian got even marriage was disintegrating before my eyes and the music seemed to die inside me. I did not want to sing I didn't. A very important part of me died...but then one of my high school students, Mary Rachel, told me about a thing she had done during the summer called Appalachian Service sounded quite I decided to go the next summer. Kathryn and I signed up...and headed for Tazwell, WV. I was to work with Willie Lemmond...and work I did. I had never held a power tool in my hands...and I could not climb much higher than a two inch pair of heels. But I held a power tool, and climbed a ladder, and no....I did not make it all the way to the top of the roof....but I think I really became a Christian that summer....because for the first time in my life...I got dirty for God....and it felt good. I learned that I did not have to be perfect to be loved by God. I joined the First United Methodist Church after we got back...and the passion to sing returned...this time I was singing and handling power tools....what a dangerous combination! Keith Elder and I sang a lot together in those days...then ...there was talk of a new and special service to be started in the Arbor...I know you have all heard the story...but I drug my guitar to the first practice...and joined in....that first night was rough....with a capital R....but I felt alive when I passion...and I think it is funny that I use that term...because Blue Vardaman...told us that first night....that we had to have a passion to be a part of this very special service....I had that passion....believe you me. I can honestly say...that I love the group I sing with up on that stage. We have come and gone...but we are a family. We fight like brothers and sisters...but when it is all said and done...we all is not about is all about God's love. I am blessed with this wonderful opportunity. I can't imagine life without it...and I believe....that if God will have me...when I am an old woman....wearing purple with a red hat....and being wheeled around...I will still be singing God's story. Psalms 57:9-10 says, "I will praise you, O Lord, among the nations; I will sing of you among the peoples. For great is your love, reaching to the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the sky." May you be richly blessed today!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Music Movements

I write poetry. I know you find that hard to believe....not! But I have written and journaled for years. It is what helped me through the death of my brother over 40 years ago and it is what helps me today. Music is my other outlet. I need music. It is life blood for me. My grandfather was the source of my music. He took time with all of us when we were young and taught us all to play guitar if we wanted to learn. I was one of his students. When he died my grandmother gave me his mandolin and I penned this poem several years later.
The Mandolin
Round back bent and broken
from years of nightly use
inlays missing, dusty,
rusty from neglect and abuse.
Strings that are still and silent,
out of tune, played no more.
Once a master stroked you,
coerced the sound to soar.
The songs that lie encased,
inside your wooden heart.
These songs were my beginning,
where I got my musical start.
My grandfather once held you,
just like he once held me.
And when he touched our heart strings,
set both out spirits free.
When I hold you now I know,
that I am gree to know,
where eagles fly, where steel wheels turn,
where'er I want to go.
Thank you Grandpa for this gift,
your favorite mandolin.
I'll use it - while I'm here -
and then pass it on again!
This poem and mandolin sparked another flame of musical symbolism in my soul and I began thinking about myself. The writer, the musician, the singer...and found myself asking....
Body Music
Who are you?
Where is the face I looked at yesterday....or was that last year?
God! This is so depressing.
I still feel young....yet, I am seeing my mother
in this mirror more and more.
My hands are short and stocky,
remnants of my Creek Indian Heritage.
These hands were made to work hard and the
calloused fingers are testimonials
that they have.
My eyes see into your soul.
I want to know you and I usually do...
many times on a plane higher than you are
even aware of.
My eyes are the windows to my very being.
They tell you when I 'm sick, tired, distressed,
or even....lying!
My eyes have never learned to keep secrets.
My mouth is not too big, so I don't
shoot it off without provocation.
It is not so small either.
I will strike up a conversation with anyone.
I like people.
Strangers are just people I haven't met yet.
My ears are large enough to listen when
my friends need a friend, yet
small enough to easily shut out
thinks I don't want to hear
at the most convenient times.
My body, once looked like a sleek, classical guitar
before the days of children and marriage.
Now I see a bass violin - curved, but
definitely thicker.
All in all I like me.
We can't all be classical guitars.
The worlds orchestration needs a mixture
of musical types.
I am a bass fiddle, at this time in my life...
so close your eyes and hear my music.
May your music today be soothing. May you share your song with all those you come in contact with...and no matter what instrument you play....know that you are part of the great band called the human race. Bless you today!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Thanksgiving Highlights and Lowlights

I took the holidays off from blogging. I spent time with my family and loved it. On Weds. I cooked supper for my daughter. Kat brought some yummy dressing and sides. I had actually cooked it for my son too....but he chose not to come. He did not even call. Oh well, I had a lovely meal with my daughter and parents. We enjoyed the company and the fellowship time. On Thursday morning Frank and I got up very early and went to Ft. Walton to have Thanksgiving with daughter Amy. Amy was at work when we got there....but her husband Steven was the ultimate of hosts. We visited, watched some TV, played a little Wii until Amy got home and nephew Allen and his new bride Sheree got there. We enjoyed a great meal. My daughter Amy is a great cook. We had herb roasted turkey and it was heavenly. On Friday we got up and went to Foley shopping. Oh, I am not a die hard shopper. We wait and get there after the die hards have pooped out. It is much more fun not being pushed and shoved. About noonish we went to Lamberts for our second annual Thanksgiving Day Event. This year I did not get hit in the head with a thrown roll....nope...I was proud. Oh nooooo, this year I got squirted with fake ketchup and nearly had a cow. The waiter decided that I was not in the mood for humor. After shopping we headed back to the Willey house and met up with Allen and Sheree again....played games until late and went to bed. We had yet another big day on Saturday. There was still one more leg of our trip. We left Amy's before daylight so we could make it Aunt Shirley's in time to eat lunch at 1:00 fast time. We had to swing through Alex City to pick up Beau at the Puppy Hotel so we did not have to wait til Monday to get him. I thought it might be a good idea to call the Valley and let them know we were on our way. And once again we were off....driving to another destination to eat yet another plate of turkey, ham and some more dressing. (remind year when I cook for my kids....we are having Italian.) This part of the trip took 5.5 hours. I was so tired by the time we arrived. I really wanted to curl up on the couch and read. But, I love being with my family. Even if it meant eating turkey again....I know it really is not about the is all about the togetherness of family for me. Everyone sitting down together and talking animatedly about what all has been happening in their lives and passing the phone around to talk to Terri because she can't be here this year. Ahhhh but the best laid plans of mice and men....we got to my aunts about 50 minutes later....only to find everyone sitting around....full....or finishing their dessert. They had eaten without us! I looked at the clock in the living room and it was only 12:55. We had five minutes to spare. What happened? I was so hurt and Frank was too....we started to just back out the door and go home. (We left Frank's daughters....before daylight....and could have stayed til noon, had a great seafood lunch, and a leisurely trip home.) I thought I would die. If it had not been for the fact that Ramona and Dustin came in right behind us....we would have...left that is. So we ate with them....but my holiday spirit was shot down. After lunch the lure of Amanda playing the guitar and singing was too much so I joined the group. We are singing together this the practice time was appreciated. We sang a few songs and then Frank and I left. I had a huge feeling of Scrooginess come over me....and I needed to leave we did. I seethed inside all the way home. I licked my wounds...and finished out the rest of the day trying to decorate the yard for the holidays. The crisp air....and the excitement of the yard art seemed to lift my spirits some. I came away from this experience with a new outlook. I don't care how late someone is....when I invite someone to my house....for a family thing....I will wait. What else I learned from this is that Christ waits for us to come to him....everyday. He sits and waits....the question we come to him? Do we take part in the life he has to offer us....or are we in such a hurry that we miss the blessing?

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Things I am Thankful For.

It is quite here right now. The dishes are all done, the food is all put away, and it is silent. I feel a giant sigh of relief building inside me. I know today is just Weds....and that Thanksgiving is tomorrow....but tonight I had my daughter and her husband here for dinner so I could spend time with them. I invited some friends, they came by...but did not eat. I invited my son....he did not even call to let me know he was not coming. I live in the same town with him....and have not seen or heard from him since Christmas....still I am thankful tonight for my children. You know, no matter what they do....they are still your children....they may hurt your feelings...but you still love tonight....I am thankful that they are all ok....that they are strong and can work...that they are. I am thankful for my daughter for giving me many years of enjoyment and awe. She is amazing. I look at her and think to myself.....Yep, I did that. She is the best thing I ever did in my first marriage and for that I am grateful. I am grateful to my husband for letting my parents live with us for nearly 2 years. He is a giant among men. Husband number one would not have stood for that. I am thankful to have one more more day with my parents. Even though my mom drives me nuts....she is still my mom....and I am grateful that I have been given this special time to spend with them. We are not guaranteed tomorrow....we only get today.....and I want to have no regrets where my parents are concerned. God has truly blessed me this day. I have wonderful friends I am thankful for, a good job, a voice, great singing partners in multiple venues, a wonderful Sunday School class, two wonderful blessed I am. Since I will be traveling is wishing you and yours a blessed and Happy Thanksgiving with love, Karen

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

God's Sense of Humor

God has a sense of humor. I am living proof of that. When I was a teenager in high school I hated school. There was nothing about it that I liked. I wanted it to be over and four long years of high school later it was. Those four years took an eternity. People used to tell will miss it when it is over....don't wish your life away....but wish I did...and 30+ years later I still don't miss it. My high school years were not good ones. I had friends, but they went to my church. We had a blast together. I never missed a service at church. I lived for Weds. and Sundays. I can't really remember but a couple of teachers during my high school years that made school fun. One was my art teacher and the other was my 10th grade English teacher Mr. Trotsky. He was the only teacher I ever had that sat on the desk to teach....and had us explicate lyrics to popular songs in the poetry unit of Literature. Fool on Hill will always stand out in my mind. Our school was desegregated during my tenure there and that was scary. Life was scary during those years. I went to school during the Vietnam war and it was a frightening time. Boys I knew were drafted and some of them never came back. When you lose a friend to war at the age of 18 it is unsettling. I went to college after graduation....because that is what you did. Neither of my parents had even finished high I wanted to be the first. In college....I met someone who would change my life. His name was Watson B. Duncan III and he taught Literature. I mean....he TAUGHT literature. For the hour I was in his class...the world of the mundane ceased to exist. If first impressions were all there was....I would have missed out on this great man. My first visions of him were of a white-haired tackily dressed man. But when the curtains parted....and there are was a pink bunny on stage and he did the day's recitation of Othello. I have to say it was hard to think of Othello as boring with a huge pink Easter bunny parading on stage quoting lines from Othello. At the end of Act I Scene I he stopped, took off the bunny head, sat down on the stage and we discussed what we had just heard. We had all paid attention. We had all learned. I loved everything about this class. He made Shakespeare, Othello, Falstaff, Cervantes all come to life right before my eyes. He taught us that it is all in the presentation and I guess it was. I took every class he offered. I wish he were alive today. I have so much I would like to say to him. I can imagine him talking in heaven with Shakespeare or God in the bunny suit he wore that first day of class. So back to God's sense of humor...funny things happen. I teach high school. I sentenced myself to a life of being in the place I hated the most when I was 15. The humor in it is that I love being here. I love the smell of the place, I love the kids, I love the people I work with. I love getting up every morning and coming here before anyone else gets here.....(with the exception of Gail....she is always here). I have to ask myself now as I enter my final years of this profession....'Will anyone remember my own antics when I am gone?" "Will some student write a blog about a favorable sense 30+ years after they had me?" Dr. Duncan's favorite quote was, "I teach, therefore I act." He did just that....act...and I did learn. He knew what the expression, "Seize the day!" was all about. I wish I could look at him and say "Thank You," to this great man. But you know....I think somehow he already knows....and he is smiling! Carpe Diem all! Carpe Diem! K

Monday, November 19, 2007

Junk Mail et al

I have two pet peeves and the first one is junk mail. Junk mail drives me insane. I get tons of it via snail mail or the internet. It does not matter which way it comes I don't want it! Yesterday I checked my email for the first time in a couple of days and out of the 75 messages I had there were only 5 that meant anything to me. The other 70 were from people trying to solicit me to buy some magic weight loss potion (which I actually could use), or make my male member larger (personally Frank is already taller than me), send money to win millions (what kind of idiot do they think I am?), or scam money from me some other way. It makes me not want to use email. Anytime I respond to an email....ZOW! I have targeted myself to get even more of these trash emails. My snail mail address is no difference. Saturday when I went to the mailbox to collect my mail I had a large amount waiting. One piece was an invitation to a baby shower......the guessed it....junk. Flyers from every store in town (and in Alex City there are not that many) come shop their sales, coupons for fast food places, and other pieces addressed to current resident. Come On...if you don't know my name....don't send me your junk. I have tried returning the trash to the sender....only to get twice as much the next week. I have tried throwing it away, I even burned up a trash shredder due to the incredible bulk of mail I put through it. GRRRRRRR...Junk Mail hell is what I feel like I am in. Get thee behind me satanic pieces of useless trash!

My second pet peeve is forwards....not just any forward....but the ones that say if you don't send this to your 500 best friends God will frown on you....or you will die....or some terrible thing will happen to you. I don't know about you guys....but my God is not going to do something bad to me because I did not send an email on. He has much bigger things to worry about. I got an email last week that was about a little child who had been was a heart wrenching story....I almost forwarded it it asked....but something said....check it out on Snopes....and BINGO...there it urban legend. Instead of sending it on....I replied to all with the Snopes link. This one bothered me...because at the time of this mysterious girls disappearance....there was a real....flesh and blood....young man missing from a neighboring town. Instead of sending out a false request....requests about him should have been flooding the internet....He really was missing! The internet could be a useful tool for finding kids....if the false requests....would not waste so much time. time you are going to hit that forward button....with a request for me to send something to everyone in my address book....check to make sure it is not an urgent legend...and if it is....take my name off. Happy Monday! K

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Lost Memories and Other Concepts of Life!

Ok, today I want to discuss lost memories. I lose stuff all the time. I have lost a pair of gold hoop earrings....but those kinds of things don't bother me....what bothers me is to see my parents lose their memories. Frank and I went Christmas shopping today at Cokesbury in B'ham. We scored big time on gifts and when we got home my mom wanted to see all our goodies. I showed her each one and explained who the gift was for. When I got to one she said, "Who?" I explained who it was....and her conditioned response was..."Nope, don't know them." I immediately responded...."yes you have known her for over 45 years as (gave maiden name) and for 33 years as (gave married name)." It frustrates me when she so quickly responds with her pat...nope don't know them answer. It is like that answers away any future retort....and all it does is make me frustrated. It does not seem to frustrate her at all...just me. Where are those memories? Why are they gone? Are they truly gone or is she just to tired to pull them up from her files of folks she has known in her 78 years of living? I wish I knew. My mother living with me for the past two years has been a true test of patience and believe me I was not praying for patience. I know I don't have much of it....and don't really want God to dole out a mess of them for give me some. But....he has....he gave me my my house....with me....for the past two years. Funny thing is....I am still sane. So is my husband. Up until dad was keeping me sane...but while I was in Philly during the last week in June my dad apparently suffered a small stroke and lost all his short term memory skills. He does not respond with her nope, I don't know answers...he just asks the same question several times. He does not know what day it he gets confused about where Frank and I are at any given time. He wakes up...and we are at work...or church....we come home....we go to bed...and the cycle continues. He can tell you what kind of nut he used on a particular house 15 years ago...and why...but he can't tell you what he did today. That breaks my heart! Now both of my parents have lost memories. Mom has lost the past ones...Daddy the present virtually...his memories...have ceased. Yesterday I talked about 1144 marbles that represent the number of Saturdays I may have left in my life to spend with my loved ones....if I live to be 75.....well...both my parents are past they are reusing their marbles I guess. I have a heart for the elderly...but it hurts when it is your parents becoming elderly....and you are becoming the parent/caregiver...instead of the child. I have to talk about it....and Frank and I laugh about some things...if we didn't we would probably both cry ourselves sick. My cousin Terri and her significant other, Elin sent me a great book....Thanks guys!...called You and Your Aging is by Barbara Silverstone and Helen Kandel Hyman. If you have not read it! It is very enlightening. There is not enough stuff out there for those of us in this position now....and those of you who aren't there yet....your time is afraid! Actually, be afraid is harsh....Be prepared would be a better concept. I am so glad Terri and Elin were alert to the situation. They really helped a lot. But...back to my thoughts...Family is all you have in life....and you should value them, share with them, and be aware of what is happening in their lives. You never might be the life ring that is thrown to them when they feel they are drowning. Happy Saturday to all and to all a good evening! Karen

Friday, November 16, 2007

1144 Marbles Left and Counting

I got an email this week from a fellow teacher and it really made me feel strange. I am 53 years old and enjoy my life. Since my parents have been living with us Frank and I have taken Saturdays for our date days and I love spending time with just him away from all the distractions. But after reading this email it truly made me see just how important my time with family and friends is. I want to prompt you to think just how important it is to you?
" The older I get, the more I enjoy Saturday mornings. Perhaps it's the quiet solitude that comes with being the first to rise, or maybe it's the unbounded joy of not having to be at work. Either way, the first few hours of a Saturday morning are most enjoyable. A few weeks ago, I was shuffling toward the garage with a steaming cup of coffee in one hand and the morning paper in the other. What began as a typical Saturday morning turned into one of those lessons that life seems to hand you from time to time. Let me tell you about it: I turned the dial up into the phone portion of the band on my ham radio in order to listen to a Saturday morning swap net. Along the way, I came across an older sounding chap, with a tremendous signal and a golden voice. You know the kind; he sounded like he should be in the broadcasting business. He was telling whom-ever he was talking with something about "a thousand marbles." I was intrigued and stopped to listen to what he had to say "Well, Tom, it sure sounds like you're busy with your job. I'm sure they pay you well but it's a shame you have to be away from home and your family so much. Hard to believe a young fellow should have to work sixty or seventy hours a week to make ends meet. It's too bad you missed your daughter's "dance recital" he continued. "Let me tell you something that has helped me keep my own priorities." And that's when he began to explain his theory of a "thousand marbles." "You see, I sat down one day and did a little arithmetic. The average person lives about seventy-five years. I know, some live more and some live less, but on average, folks live about seventy-five years."Now then, I multiplied 75 times 52 and I came up with 3900, which is the number of Saturdays that the average person has in their entire lifetime. Now, stick with me, Tom, I'm getting to the important part... It took me until I was fifty-five years old to think about all this in any detail", he went on, "and by that time I had lived through over twenty-eight hundred Saturdays." "I got to thinking that if I lived to be seventy-five, I only had about a thousand of them left to enjoy. So I went to a toy store and bought every single marble they had. I ended up having to visit three toy stores to round up 1000 marbles. I took them home and put them inside a large, clear plastic container right here in the shack next to my gear." "Every Saturday since then, I have taken one marble out and thrown it away. I found that by watching the marbles diminish, I focused more on the really important things in life. There is nothing like watching your time here on this earth run out to help get your priorities straight.""Now let me tell you one last thing before I sign-off with you and take my lovely wife out for breakfast. This morning, I took the very last marble out of the container. I figure that if I make it until next Saturday then I have been given a little extra time. And the one thing we can all use is a little more time." "It was nice to meet you Tom, I hope you spend more time with your family, and I hope to meet you again here on the band. This is a 75 Year old Man, K9NZQ, clear and going QRT, good morning!" You could have heard a pin drop on the band when this fellow signed off. I guess he gave us all a lot to think about. I had planned to work on the antenna that morning, and then I was going to meet up with a few hams to work on the next club newsletter. Instead, I went upstairs and woke my wife up with a kiss. "C'mon honey, I'm taking you and the kids to breakfast." "What brought this on? " she asked with a smile. "Oh, nothing special, it's just been a long time since we spent a Saturday together with the kids. And hey, can we stop at a toy store while we're out? I need to buy some marbles..." Well I got out the old trusty calculator and did the math. I have already spent up 53 years worth of Saturdays so I am only looking at around 1144 left. This weekend Frank and I are going to B'ham on our date. I had planned to go to K.B. toys to do some Christmas shopping....but I now have another item on my agenda. I am going to buy some marbles. I don't want my life to be full of regret. I want to know that every moment counted for something and that the people I love know that they were loved by me. I also want to go out of this life....sliding into heaven saying, "Whew, What a ride!" Now, that is the way to use your marbles. Don't you think? Until's hoping you enjoy the moment! K

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Growing As A Christian

My topic today is about Christian growth…..and remembering who you are….So I wanted to introduce you to the word growth with a little demonstration I adapted from a late night info-mercial I watched several years ago. Imagine that you have three plants in front of you right now. Come on...close your eyes....and try to visualize my plants. These plants each represent the types of Christians we are.
The first plant is an artificial one. Those are the ones I succeed best with. No matter how I try I can't kill them But, this plant represents the Christian that looks good on the outside….but on the inside is plastic. They go through the motions of being a Christian….but there is no growth….there is no life. This Christian is healthy looking….but when there is a crisis in their lives… they find they cannot handle the load….because they don’t know what to do. They don’t know how to call on God….they have no prayer life…..and even though they have heard hundreds of sermons, gone to church every time the doors were open, taught bible studies….and Sunday schools….there is no root. There is nothing….But unlike this plant that can never be brought to life…we can move from this artificial Christian stage….to a productive Christian stage.
If you could use one phrase to describe the Christian life…what would it be? Some of you would probably suggest…”eternal life”, others of you….would say….”salvation”….some of you would say “new life”…..and all of these answers would be right….and good…..but….I want us to scratch beneath the surface and see that Christianity is about a new relationship. The central purpose of the cross of Christ is to restore the relationship that was broken between God and us. That relationship was broken by sin. God who is holy cannot be where sin is… order for Him to be with us sin must be forgiven….wiped clean….and try as we may we cannot do this on our own. So, God did it for us by coming to earth in the person of Jesus Christ and dying for us. Now through faith in Christ we are forgiven and that relationship is restored.
I remember Grover on Sesame Street teaching my children about near and far. He begins close to the television screen and says, “now I am near.” Then he turns and runs away, stops, turns and says, “now I am far.” That is: he is distant, and removed. This is a prime example of an artificial one…
Scripture teaches about near and far also. Far meaning distant from God – and near being close to God in relationship with Him. The Holy Spirit writes in Ephesians 2:13, “but now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ.
It’s all about relationship. The great news of the gospel is that we now have a relationship with God – that which is broken is now made whole – through the forgiveness of sins. And we will be able to live with Him now and forever. Christianity is all about a new relationship with God through Christ.
Plant number two represents a Christian who is suffering from a forgotten or ignored relationship with God. Nothing goes in…nothing comes out….there is little or no growth. The plant is dying or dead and the relationship with God that it represents is too.
This Christian has quit coming to church….someone hurt their feelings. They don’t get a phone call from the church anymore…or a card saying….Wish You Were Here. They justify their absence by saying they watch Hour of Power on TV….or they watch Fraziers service and prayer? What is that about? I asked God once to save my pet and he didn’t….so he is not there…and he does not listen. So why bother?
Christianity is all about relationship. Nothing matters more than your relationship with Jesus Christ, not the latest moral issue, as important as it may be, not doctrinal purity, as crucial as it is, not some ministry that God is calling you to….as good as it may be.
Kathy Mattea sings a song that fits the lesson well….and how many times can we say this is true in our own lives? How many times have we let our relationships wither?
Friends I could count on….I could count on one hand

With a left over finger or two.

I took them for granted, let them all slip away….

Now where they are I wish I knew.

They rolled by….just like water….

And I guess we never learn

Go through life….parched and empty

Standing knee deep in a river…..and dyin’ of thirst.

The foundational, all important, matter is my/your relationship with Jesus Christ. And as we hear God’s word I pray that you will be thinking about the state of your relationship. You need to be asking yourself, “is my faith based on a deep and living relationship with Jesus Christ or has my faith drifted – to focus on some issue, ministry, or some other relationship….say with work, family, or pleasure?” All of those are good things….but the foundations of them all must be a living, daily relationship with Jesus Christ.
That leads me to plant number 3. This plant represents the relationship that has been carefully nurtured. Much effort has gone into this plant. It has been clipped, watered, fed, encouraged, and the result is successful growth.
Remember who you are….You are a child of Christ.
In the movie….The Lion King….Rafiki goes to Simba and Simba has a vision of his Father….the message Simba’s father gives him is….Remember who you are. Simba was born the king of the animals….but he was living life as a bug eater….singing Hakuna Matata – which means….no worries. Was that what he was born for? No, but he had forgotten who he was…just like we as Christians sometimes forget ….what we were born for. Satan likes this…he does not want us to remember who we are.
Galatians 4:4-7 tells us…”But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons. Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his son into our hearts, the spirit who calls out, “Abba Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son: and since you are a son, God has made you an heir.
So next time you are down….remember who you are…..
1. You are a son or daughter of God – not slaves…not bug-eaters. Sons and Daughters!
1 John 3:1 tells us…”How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!
And that is what we are!

2. We are not just children….we are heirs!
Romans 8:17 – “Now if we are children, then we are heirs – heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in His sufferings in order that we may also share in His glory.

Remember who you are….you are heirs of God! And as heirs… there are certain things that we do just because we are members of a family. We live our lives led by the Spirit. Prayer-filled lives. Lives that seek God’s will. We seek Him through His word and through prayer. We look to do what He wants…not what we desire. That is who we are.

1 Peter 1:13 – 17 says….”Therefore, prepare your minds for action: be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.” Since you call on a Father who judges each man’s work inpartially, live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear.

WE ARE TO BE HOLY……set apart….pure….We are different. We recognize those who dare to be different. Not those that conform. Famous athletes, famous singers, etc….aren’t famous for being just like everybody else!

WE ARE TO LIVE OUR LIVES AS STRANGERS IN THIS WORLD…..We are not bug-eaters singing “Hakuna Matata.” We aren’t actually from here. When I first moved to Alabama, almost every day someone would ask me where I was from. Why? Because I had a different accent than they did. We need to live our lives as Christians in such a way that people hear our “accent.”

WE ARE TO LIVE OUR LIVES IN THE FEAR OF GOD…fear can be healthy. I fear electricity. I do not stick my wet finger in a light socket. I know what will happen. I have that same respect for God.

Remember who you are….Some of you are going through this life singing “Hakuna Matata” and eating bugs. It’s time to claim your place as a child of the King.

I want to leave you with a final thought….from John 15:1-17

1"I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes[a] so that it will be even more fruitful. 3You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
5"I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. 8This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
9"As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in his love. 11I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. 14You are my friends if you do what I command. 15I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. 17This is my command: Love each other.
Jesus is the vine; we are the branches. Apart from Him we can do nothing. Being a Christian is all about our relationship with Christ. How is your relationship today? Now the question I pose to you as I close…

Are you an Artificial Christian? Are you a stunted or dead?….or are you achieving all you can….as an heir to the throne? Hakuna Matata is not my mantra and I hate bugs. I want to be a princess....royalty. I want to wear a blingy crown. Don't you?

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Magnolias by Edna Ellison - edited by Me

"Life is not the way it's supposed to be. It's the way it is. The way you cope with it is what makes the difference."
I spent the week before my daughter's June wedding running last-minute trips to the caterer, florist, tuxedo shop, and the church about forty miles away. As happy as I was that Patsy was marrying a good Christian young man, I felt laden with responsibilities as I watched my budget dwindle . . . so many details, so many bills, and so little time. My son Jack was away at college, but he said he would be there to walk his younger sister down the aisle, taking the place of his dad who had died a few years before. He teased Patsy, saying he'd wanted to give her away since she was about three years old! To save money, I gathered blossoms from several friends who had large magnolia trees. Their luscious, creamy-white blooms and slick green leaves would make beautiful arrangements against the rich dark wood inside the church. After the rehearsal dinner the night before the wedding, we banked the podium area and choir loft with magnolias. As we left just before midnight, I felt tired but satisfied this would be the best wedding any bride had ever had! The music, the ceremony, the reception - and especially the flowers - would be remembered for years.The big day arrived - the busiest day of my life - and while her bridesmaids helped Patsy to dress, her fiancee Tim, walked with me to the sanctuary to do a final check. When we opened the door and felt a rush of hot air, I almost fainted; and then I saw them - all the beautiful white flowers were black. Funeral black. An electrical storm during the night had knocked out the air conditioning system, and on that hot summer day, the flowers had wilted and died. I panicked, knowing I didn't have time to drive back to our hometown,gather more flowers, and return in time for the wedding.Tim turned to me. "Edna, can you get more flowers? I'll throw awaythese dead ones and put fresh flowers in these arrangement s."I mumbled, "Sure," as he be-bopped down the hall to put on his cufflinks.Alone in the large sanctuary, I looked up at the dark wooden beams inthe arched ceiling. "Lord," I prayed, "please help me. I don't know anyone in this town. Help me find someone willing to give me flowers -in a hurry!" I scurried out praying for four things: the blessing of white magnolias, courage to find them in an unfamiliar yard, safety from any dog that may bite my leg, and a nice person who would not get out a shotgun when I asked to cut his tree to shreds. As I left the church, I saw magnolia trees in the distance. I approached a house . . . no dog in sight. I knocked on the door and an older man answered. So far so good . . . no shotgun. When I stated my plea the man beamed, "I'd be happy to!"He climbed a stepladder and cut large boughs and handed them down to me. Minutes later, as I lifted the last armload into my car trunk, I said, "Sir, you've made the mother of a bride happy today.""No, Ma'am," he said. "You don't understand what's happening here.""What?" I asked."You see, my wife of sixty-seven years died on Monday. On Tuesday I received friends at the funeral home, and on Wednesday . . He paused. I saw tears welling up in his eyes. "On Wednesday I buried her." He looked away. "On Thursday most of my out-of-town relatives went back home, and on Friday - yesterday - my children left. I nodded."This morning," he continued, "I was sitting in my den crying out loud. I miss her so much. For the last sixteen years, as her health got worse, she needed me. But now nobody needs me. This morning I cried,'Who needs an eighty-six-year-old wore-out man? Nobody! 'I began to cry louder. 'Nobody needs me!' About that time, you knocked, and said, "Sir, I need you."I stood with my mouth open. He asked, "Are you an angel? The way the light shone around your head into my dark living room . ."I assured him I was no angel. He smiled. "Do you know what I was thinking when I handed you those magnolias?""No." "I decided I'm needed. My flowers are needed. Why, I might have a flower ministry! I could give them to everyone! Some caskets at the funeral home have no flowers. People need flowers at times like that and I have lots of them. They're all over the backyard! I can give them to hospitals, churches - all sorts of places. You know what I'm going to do? I'm going to serve the Lord until the day He calls me home!"I drove back to the church, filled with wonder. On Patsy's wedding day, if anyone had asked me to encourage someone who was hurting, I would have said, "Forget it! It's my only daughter's wedding, for goodness' sake! There is no way I can minister to anyone today."But God found a way. Through dead flowers."Life is not the way it's supposed to be. It's the way it is. The way you cope with it is what makes the difference."~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~So, like I did when I read this....ask yourself, "Who can I make feel needed today?" Then go out and make someones day!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Shop Til You Drop Literally

Well, today I went to Market in Atlanta. My BFF Mary and I took the opportunity to get a jump on Christmas shopping. Let me tell building and 21 floors later....I was dragging and we still had two buildings and 30 floors to go. It was going to be a faint at heart day. I made my beginning assault with great fervor....but as the day progressed....the intensity wained. By 3:00 I was one tired puppy. But it was ok because I had several Christmas gifts taken care of and a birthday present or two. I love Market. It is so much is a day of making choices....and sometimes the places I love to shop the most just don't have what I am looking for....and sometimes...they have it all. Today was a new adventure because I found some new shops that were just opening up....One of them was a Celtic store in the Garden was really neat to see all the outdoor fun stuff they had on display. I felt like a child at Christmas....Dear Santa....I want it all. Don't give me diamonds...or rubies...or gold....give me a pretty yellow Adirondack Swing or chair set and I am in seventh heaven. My blog is going to be short tonight because I am really tired and tomorrow is another school day. Say a prayer for my mom if you will....she is having Cataract surgery on her right eye on Weds. Hasta la vista, K

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Veteran's Day

Ok, I missed blogging on I am going to do two today. Today is a very special day to me. It is Veteran's Day. I love this day. It is a day that I get to honor some very special people that go unnoticed a lot. My father is a WWII vet and my husband is a Vietnam vet...and I have countless friends that have served from Korea to Iraqui Freedom. It does not matter which war they served in...the fact is...that they said, "Yes!" They put their lives out there on the line so that my life would go on as it always has. During the Arbor service today I read a little clip about the origin of Veterans Day. It goes something like this: In 1918, on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day in the eleventh month, the world rejoiced and celebrated. After four years of bitter war, an armistice was signed. The "war to end all wars" was over.
November 11, 1919 was set aside as Armistice Day in the United States, to remember the sacrifices that men and women made during World War I in order to ensure a lasting peace. On Armistice Day, soldiers who survived the war marched in a parade through their home towns. Politicians and veteran officers gave speeches and held ceremonies of thanks for the peace they had won. Congress voted Armistice Day a federal holiday in 1938, 20 years after the war ended. But Americans realized that the previous war would not be the last one. World War II began the following year and nations great and small once again participated in a bloody struggle. After the Second World War, Armistice Day continued to be observed on November 11.
In 1953 townspeople in Emporia, Kansas called the holiday Veterans' Day in gratitude to the veterans in their town. Soon after, Congress passed a bill introduced by a Kansas congressman renaming the federal holiday to Veterans' Day. 1971 President Nixon declared it a federal holiday on the second Monday in November.
Americans still give thanks for peace on Veterans' Day. There are ceremonies and speeches and at 11:00 in the morning, most Americans observe a moment of silence, remembering those who fought for peace. I thought it was such an important and selfless act that I had the veterans in the service stand so that we too could thank them for all they did…..and then I prayed a very simple prayer while they remained standing. It went something like this: Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you so much for each person standing here today. Thank you father that you gave them the heart and strength to serve our country…..just as you gave your son Jesus the heart and strength to die for us so many years ago. Dear Lord, bless these veterans who are present with us today and the families of the ones who are with you today. We ask these things in your name, Amen. After the prayer Rhonda and I sang God Bless America. Did you know it was written by Irving Berlin? Did you know that what we actually sing is merely the chorus of the song? At Waverly today I spoke briefly about Veterans and my heart for them. I then sang, God Bless the U.S.A. Tears flowed down my face and I had to close my eyes while I sang it because I do have such a big ole spot for the 2:00 I was supposed to sing at the Veteran's Day Event at the Sportsplex. Immediately after the colors were presented....I sang the National Anthem acapello. Col. Biff Hadden was the keynote speaker and his words were very moving....then it happened....the laying of the wreaths began....for each monument...I did fine through the Korean war....and then came Vietnam....I felt a catch in my throat....the next one was Desert Storm....and a tear or two fell onto my cheek....when the Gold Star mother laid the wreath on the memorial. She was a Gold Star mother....because her son died during Desert Storm....and I knew him.....then came Iraqui Freedom parents...there were two sets...and they were Gold Star mothers as well....their sons are among the casualties from this current war....and I knew one of them.....I composed myself....only to have my skin jump from my body as the guard presented a 21 gun salute. I do not like louded...unexpected noises...and my husband told me he almost had to laugh out loud when the first set of guns went off. After the salute...came Taps...and if that was not enough to have me melting was my turn to sing again....God Bless the U.S.A. Closing my the audience would not see the tears falling from my face....I sang my heart out. I love singing this song for the Veterans....Have a great day Guys...and Gals...this one is for you. Thanks for all you did...and are still doing. I salute you!
God Bless the U.S.A. Signing off, Karen

The Invitation

We all love to get invitations. I know I do. I love to be invited somewhere...I love to dress up....make special food for the event....anything....just to be invited. Today, I want to talk about a different kind of invitation that I was lucky enough to get when I was younger. My invitation was to learn. When I was 36 months old, Ms. Meabold invited me to learn about Jesus in Sunday School. She portrayed him as a faithful friend, a loving father, a miracle worker and I believed her. She invited me to sit at her feet and listen to wonderful Bible stories that she read to us each Sunday. I learned and I loved every minute of it. When I was 48 months old I went to Opportunity with my mom. She worked there....the only invitation I had there was not a pleasant one...they made us take naps....something I had not done since I was a baby. At 60 months I entered the world of Vedado Park Kindergarten....and again an invitation was extended for us to read, draw, create, make friends. I did just that and loved my time in the neighborhood school. At 72 months I got my first big girl invitation. It came from Joyce Freeman. She invited me to be all I could be. She opened up a whole new world for me in first grade and I loved school and I loved her. Second grade at 84 months was a different ball of string. My teacher was beautiful.....on the outside. She was not pretty on the inside. She did not get to know us....she did not invite us to learn. She was pretty busy getting ready to get married and did not have time for us. If she had...she would never have sent me home one day alone to get a signed form I had forgotten. I forgot it because my mom was in the hospital and I was staying with friends at their house. The form was at my house....but she did not know...and she did not care. I did not feel invited to grow in this classroom. Third grade brought Ms. Lohr. She was an invitation waiting for a place to happen. I would have died for her as a third grader. She wanted us all to read, write, create...and we all tried our best. Yep, 96 months was a good time for an invitation....108 months rolled around and I loved my teacher Mrs. Carlson. She lived down the road from me and was such a great teacher. She made everything exciting....but then she got sick and the substitute uninvited us all. It was a bleak rest of the year. When 120 months arrived I found myself in a whole new setting....we changed classes, we had more than one teacher and I was terrified. Could I cut it at Junior High? Beth Ruggles was the first teacher to invite us to expand our minds. Her English class was great....but Math and Science did not come with the year was extremely confusing. 53 years later....636 months have passed by....There have been many invitations throughout my college, at work, in life....sometimes I have taken them...other times I found myself RSVPing with a "No thank you " reply. I find myself the giver of invitations now. I have been handing them out for the last 18 years. Sometimes the students will take them and we will have a wonderful adventure. Other times they turn me down and it is a hard year for both of us....the thing about an invitation is...if you don't accept will never know what you might have missed. I like the words to the song Iris...."I don't want to close my eyes....I don't want to fall asleep...." because I might miss something....and that something could change my life. I wish I could help kids understand this lesson I learned during my 53 years of breathing. Don't not try something new or out of the might miss an extraordinary! So today, I invite you to open your eyes, heart, mind, and just let go and breathe life in. It may be a bumpy ride and things may not always go like you want them too....but let me tell is an adventure. Until next time....K

Friday, November 9, 2007

Death From a Child's Eyes

It was a sunny day in South Florida. Leigh and Dougie were in the backyard swinging on their rope swing. Leigh would swing and Dougie would push her high…higher…highest. She would close her eyes and imagine she was sailing into the fluffy white clouds. Dougie would then swing and Leigh would push him high…higher…highest. He would giggle with delight as his big sister pushed him over and over again. The world was wonderful.

An hour past and Leigh grew tired of swinging and pushing. She eyed her new blue bicycle leaning against the wall of the house and wanted to ride. She imagined the feel of the wind in her hair as she raced down the street. She wanted to ride with her friend Carol, who had also gotten a bicycle for Christmas. Poor Dougie he kept begging her to keep pushing him, but she laughed and rode off on her bicycle.

Carol and Leigh rode up and down the block, racing each other, feeling the wind blow through their hair, just having a great time. They went to Carol’s for some Kool-Aid and Toll House cookies and decided to return to Leigh’s house using the pass through that connected the two houses. When they entered Leigh’s yard they saw her mother and father crying. Leighwas sad and confused. Carol’s mom came and got the girls and took them to her house. A big red fire engine came and an ambulance. Leigh was so confused. No one would explain to her why her parents were crying. No one would tell her where her brother Dougie was. Everyone was just busy around her and she felt like the world had forgotten she was there.

Finally, when night had fallen, Leigh’s parents returned for her. They both wore very sad faces. They hugged a very confused Leigh and took her home to her house. She wondered, “where is Dougie?” She asked her father, “where is Dougie?’ “Shhhhh” was all he said. She turned to her mother and asked, “where is Dougie?” Her mother began to cry softtly.

Once inside their house the family began to sort out the days events. Dad took Leigh in his arms and held her firmly. “Leigh, something terrible happened today and Daddy thinks you are a big girl enough to understand. When you were riding your bike today, the rope swing hurt Dougie and he won’t be coming home ever again. Dougie has gone to be with Jesus and be His little boy. Do you understand?” Leigh didn’t really understand but she bravely shook her head yes. She went to bed and had terrible dreams all night about Dougie and the swing and when she woke up in the morning she was very tired and irritable.

The next day she was taken back to Carol’s while her family went to make arrangements. She did not understand what the arrangements were for, or about. She just knew that somehow it was her fault. In her dreams she had convinced herself that it was her fault that Dougie had gone to be God’s little boy and her fault because her parents were crying. She cried silently on the inside yet tried to be brave on the outside.

People came to their house and brought food. (That is what grownups do when there is a death in a family.) There was a service at Mizzell-Favell-Zern, the neighborhood funeral home. The family sat behind a screen and Leigh could here people crying on the other side. Before the service started she peaked through the screen and saw all the people they knew. After the service they quickly took their suitcases and put them in the trunk of the car and drove to Alabama. Alabama is where her parents were from and they wanted Dougie buried there. Buried, now that is an interesting word. Leigh had buried Dougie in the sand once at the beach. All you could see of him was his head and his feet. Daddy had laughed when he saw Dougie. Was this going to be like that Leigh wondered?

Leigh slept in the back seat of the car while Daddy drove during the night. It was almost daylight when the weary travelers arrived at Grandma’s house. Grandma and Grandpa came out and cried with her parents and hugged Leigh a little harder than usual. The next day the family went to Radney’s, another funeral home and said their final goodbyes to Dougie. When Leigh came into the special room that Dougie was sleeping in she tried her best to make him open his eyes…but he didn’t. Leigh truly did not understand that Dougie was not going home with them when they left Alabama. Leigh was kind of mad because Dougie got to go to Grandmother’s town on a train and she had to ride in the car. She could not understand how come all twelve of Aunt Jo’s children were still with their momma and daddy. She thought out loud in the car, “Aunt Jo probably wouldn’t even miss one of her children.” Dougie was all she had and now he was gone. Leigh sat in the back seat of the Chevrolet and told

The ride back to Florida was not fun. There was no singing. There was no sightseeing. There was nothing. Life as Leigh knew it was over. When they returned to the little coral colored house at 1127 El Prado the fractured family went inside and tried to mend. Mending was going to be hard. It would take a long time for the three people in the little house to begin to be a family again. Life went on as it had before Dougie died. Leigh walked to Belvedere Elementary everyday with her neighborhood friends, Daddy returned to work for Arrow Electric, but Mommy was the one who had the hardest time. She stayed at home and dealt with all the ghosts in the house. Eventually we all came to realize that when children are born you begin to let them go. No parent wants to bury their child but in life it happens sometimes. Leigh thought that God was angry with her for leaving Dougie and riding her bike, but she discovered that Dougie’s death had nothing to do with her. It was Dougie’s time. It was all in God’s plan. God meant for this to happen. Leigh would come to understand that Dougie was always with her, just like God. One day, Dougie, Leigh, Mommy and Daddy will all be together again and Leigh believes that with all her heart.

He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away (Revelation 21:4).