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!”

Sunday, May 31, 2015

The Giving Tree

My scripture today is from John 3:1-17

Shel Silverstein is one of my favorite children’s authors.  I was reading through one of his books at the end of the school year and found the following wonderful story:

"The tree gives the little boy her apples to pick and her branches to climb. The boy and the tree love each other and are happy in their life together. As the boy grows older, however, his interest in the tree becomes less. The tree is very lonely until one day the boy returns as a young man. The tree offers her apples and branches, but the boy claims that he is too old to climb and play. He is more interested in money. ’Can’t you give me some money?’ he asks the tree. The tree has not money, but she does have apples. Why doesn’t the boy pick the apples and sell them then he will be happy. The boy picks the apples and sells them, then he will be happy. The boy does this and the tree is happy. But then the boy stays away an even longer time and the tree is sad.   Years later the boy returns. The tree is overwhelmed with joy as she invites the boy to swing from her branches. But the boy is too busy to play. What he really wants is his own family and a house to keep him warm.   Can the tree give him a house? No, but the boy can cut her branches and build a house with them, suggests the tree; then he will be happy. The boy does this and the tree is happy.  Many years pass before the boy, now middle-aged returns. The tree, overjoyed, invites the boy to play. But now the boy is too old to play. All he wants is a boat which will take him far away. ’Can you give me a boat?’ the tree invites the boy to cut down her trunk and make a boat so he can be happy. The boy does this, and the tree is happy--but not really, for now only a bare stump remains. When, years late, the boy returns, he is hunched-over, old man. The tree apologizes for having nothing to offer any longer, no more apples to eat or branches to climb, only an old stump. But the old man says his teeth are too weak for apples, and he is too old to climb. All he needs is a quiet place to sit and rest for he is very tired. ’Well,’ says the tree, straightening herself up as much as she can, ’an old stump is good for sitting and resting. Come, boy sit down, sit down and rest.’ And the boy does. The tree is very happy."

A nice story isn’t it? That was truly a giving tree. It gave and gave and even when it only had a stump left, it still gave, a place of rest and quiet. What a concept, a giving tree. But that apple tree is not the only giving tree,, I can think of another tree, another tree which gave of itself, gave body and blood , gave love and mercy, gave forgiveness and compassion, gave acquittal and freedom, yes the tree of Calvary the cross of Christ was another giving tree, it gave the sacrifice for the sins of this world, And that tree still gives through the body and blood which were shed upon it, for the body and blood of Christ still gives, it keeps on giving day in and day out to those who want to receive new life, a renewed life a forgiven and cleansed life.

Our gospel lesson says, "And as Moses lifter up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Con of man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life . For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.  God gave, gave his son to the world through a tree. While attending a conference one I spotted a banner hung from the church ceiling which caught my eye, it said, "The crib and the Cross both were made of wood," God gave through a tree both times, a tree was used to make the manger to bring the Christ child into this world, and a cross from a tree was made to take this Christ, this messiah from the world. The tree of God was also a giving tree. It gave life through the manger to the Son of God, and the Cross, the tree of death brought life…life through the body and blood of Jesus, shed and given for our live, for our salvation, our eternal glory.

The Son of God was lifted up as Moses lifted the serpent in the wilderness to give life to those who had been bitten. The cross, the symbol of death, came to be a symbol of life, the symbol of giving, the symbol of sacrifice, the symbol of true and gracious love. As you gaze at the cross before you today, do you see it as a symbol of life for you? Do you see it as the only way to your salvation? Do you see it as your cross, your only way to gain the salvation which is ours as God’s children?

God was the great architect who designed the bridge for our freedom, but he not only designed it, he built it, and he built it out of materials that no one would of thought of, he built it out of a cross and the body and blood of his son He didn’t ask anyone else to do the work, he kept it in the family, and then he shared the completed work with all people who would believe that he did the work, he shared it with all who would believe that the work was done for them. Yes, God used the cross of Calvary, the old rugged cross to build a bridge between himself and us.

As John says, ’"For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son." Gave his only son. God was willing to sacrifice part of himself, he was willing to give up his son to death, so that you and I could be liberated from the chains of death, so that you and I wouldn’t be prisoners of death any longer, but we might be free people who have the freedom of God’s love.  Jesus was willing to go with us into the battle, to be our leader as we fought for freedom, as a matter of fact, he didn’t even ask us to fight, but he would do all the fighting for us. He took all of our places on the battle line.

In the book "The Grandeur and Misery of Man" there is a conversation between two men as they lay in the trenches during the war. One of the men knew he was dying and said to another: "Listen, Dominque, you’ve led a bad life. There are no convictions against me. There’s nothing in the books against my name. Take my name. Take my life. I give it to you. Straight off, you’ve no more convictions. Take it. It’s there in my pocketbook. Go on, take it and hand yours over to so--so that I can carry all of your crimes away."

Isn’t that what Jesus is saying to us from the cross of Calvary? Give me your life, give me your sinful life, and l will carry all of your sins away and give you a new life ?? Isn’t that what the cross is all about.?? Jesus is taking our place. He is taking that which he doesn’t deserve, that which isn’t his, our sinfulness, and in return he is giving us his life, a new life, a life that will set us free, free from the power of sin, free from death, and in that freedom we will then have the choice to be with God, we will have the opportunity, to live with God forever. The cross of Calvary, the old rugged cross, is the place where we obtain our freedom, where Jesus exchanges our live for his, and in the process, we are liberated people, people who then can live in the love of God.

Have you encountered the cross of Christ in such a way that it brings you to your knees in true confession as we sense the cross and the body and blood given and shed upon it are our only, and I mean, the only way of salvation? Or are you like the lady described by Pastor Valbracht and seen in so many churches.  He says , "Often I think of a lady in one of my congregations who assured me that there was no finer Christian in that congregation than she, because there were not many people today who could say that they had never smoked, that never had touched a drop of liquor in their lives, they had never seen a motion picture, and they had never touched a playing card.  And yet, that same woman, in my knowledge of her life, had nearly killed her own own son through her own willful, stubborn, ignorance and superstition. She had practically ruined her daughter’s marriage. She had made her husband a hopeless and unhappy drudge and her incessant gossiping had wounded many, many people in the church and community. And yet, she was saved from sin that she never wanted to commit and was reveling and enjoying in the ones that she loved and didn’t even consider them sins."  Let me ask you all this morning…..Where are you? Do you stand in front of the cross telling God how good you are because you haven’t done this or that, but hanging on stubbornly to those sins, those ways of life you are very comfortable with, but yet knowing that somehow they are not really what God wants from you?

Or, or can you surrender, can you be brought to your knees in front of the cross in true confession and true humility? Can you release all pride in self, all boasting, all rationalizations of your action, and stand as a condemned person, a person who deserves to die on that cross for your disobedience to God? Can you came to the foot of the cross and realize that God gave you so much, gave you eternal life by the way of the tree of death? Can you stand empty, ashamed, humble, and willing to accept that gift of salvation knowing full well you could never, and mean never, measure up to the perfection of God?  Have you really let the greatest love story ever told, ever witnessed, ever conceived be really felt in your life? Have you come face to face with the cross of Christ and there experienced his for giving love for you?  Come to the cross of Christ, come!!

’Well,’ says the tree, straightening herself up as much as she can, ’an old stump is good for sitting and resting. Come, boy sit down, sit down and rest.’ And the boy does. The tree is very happy."  Come and rest in the arms of Christ on the cross and receive the peaceful rest of salvation.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

In A Hodge Podge State Of Mind

Hello fellow Hodgepodgers! So glad you stopped by here today. If you've answered the questions add your link by clicking here and heading over to Joyce's blog, then run say hi to the neighbors. Here we go-

 1. Did you do anything 'memorable' this past weekend?  We had a Memorial/Homecoming service at my church.  We usually have somewhere between 40-50 people at church, but Sunday we had 152.  It was awesome. 
 2. Ronald Reagan is quoted as saying-  "Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream.  It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same."  Your thoughts? Do you somehow acknowledge and appreciate the freedoms you enjoy? Did your upbringing contribute to that sense of appreciation? If you're a parent, are there specific things you do to pass on this sense of responsibility and appreciation to your own children in regard to the freedoms they enjoy?  I, like Joyce, try to acknowledge and appreciate the freedoms I enjoy.  I think it's good we have some days on the calendar to remind us too. I try to speak to service men and women when I see them and tell them "Thank you", I support troops and their families in my prayers, and they are permanently on our prayer list at church. My heart is full of love and gratitude for the brave souls who protect and defend this land I love.  My upbringing most definitely contributed to my sense of patriotism. My father served in the Navy during WWII.  I have sung at many patriotic programs and it always makes my heart swell to be a part of such a proud event.   As a parent I have tried to instill in my children a love of country. We've traveled a lot, have made a conscious effort to soak up the history where ever we are, and to appreciate the staggering natural beauty and differences in food and culture you find from region to region in the US.  I've taught them to be respectful of the flag and to recognize that while there will always be things we can do better, there is much we do right here in the US of A. To be proud of America. Thanks for the powerful words Joyce.
3. Loudest noise you've ever heard?  Fireworks on the Mall in Washington, D.C.  As the band played...."and the rockets red glare..." standing with my friend, Mary, there was cannon fire, and it was deafening.  I stood in the crowd singing...with my hand on my heart, chills running down my spine, and tears running down my face.  4. What was the last thing you ate that might be considered 'junk food'? Did you enjoy it?  I ate some chips with onion soup dip yesterday for lunch.  Was it good? Yes!
5. When was the last time you were somewhere the crowd felt 'packed in like sardines'?  This is a situation I try my best to avoid.  I am terribly claustrophobic.  This situation causes me to have panic attacks. 
6. Are you organized when it comes to packing for a trip? Do you make a list weeks in advance or toss items in last minute? Are you a carry-on only sort of packer or do you need an entire suitcase for your shoes?  I am a packing fool.  Packing is part of the fun for me.  I feel like once the packing begins the trip is at hand.  I do pack and make lists in advance.  I am a carry on packer and actually went to Europe for 10 days with one carry on.  
7. What was the last sporting event you attended in person? Did your team win? Did you care?
We attended a girls softball game for the high school where I teach.  It was a tournament and our girls finished in second place. 
8. Insert your own random thought here.  Do you plant a garden?  I love the taste of garden grown tomatoes.   Frank and I planted a couple of tomato plants, a hill of squash, cucumbers, and zuchinni the other evening.  I also potted some herbs for seasoning and fragrance.  I love the smell of spearmint, lavender, rosemary, and peppermint..  We had a glorious rain for the next three days.  I can't wait for the fruits of our labor. 

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The Proposal at Siesta Key

The Proposal at Siesta Key (Amish Brides of Pinecraft, #2)
About The Book:  A young Amish woman, yearning for freedom, crosses paths with a handsome Mennonite celebrity in a deeply moving tale of friendship and self-discovery—the second installment in the unforgettable New York Times bestselling author’s new Amish Brides of Pinecraft series.  Penny Troyer rarely disobeys her parents. In the years since her sister’s tragic death, they’ve wanted nothing more than to keep her safe…even if it means never leaving the house.  But tonight, she’s bending the rules because Michael Knoxx, the most famous member of The Knoxx Family Singers, a traveling Mennonite Evangelical family —is scheduled to speak. Penny has heard of Michael—how he lost part of his leg in a terrible accident and uses the experience to inspire others—and knows she must meet him. So, for the first time ever, Penny stands up to her parents and goes out on her own.  Though he speaks about living life to the fullest, Michael knows he needs to take his own advice. Life on the road is grueling and Michael wants to slow down, to rest…to perhaps meet someone who sees him as a man, not just a celebrity. So when a twist of fate allows him the chance to stay a little longer in Pinecraft, Michael knows God is showing him a new path, especially when he discovers how much he and Penny Troyer have in common.  But new friendships can’t stop time. Soon, Michael’s time in Pinecraft will be over and he’ll be back on the road. Her time with Michael has brought her happiness, but will she be able to follow her heart? Or will she be faced with the one thing she’s sure she’ll never have the courage to do?  Learn more and purchase a copy.
About The Author:  Shelley Shepard Gray is a two-time New York Times bestseller, a two-time USA Today bestseller, a finalist for the American Christian Fiction Writers prestigious Carol Award, and a two-time Holt Medallion winner. She lives in Southern Ohio, where she writes full-time, bakes too much, and can often be found walking her dachshunds on her town’s bike trail.
My Thoughts On The Book:  Loved!  Loved!  Loved this book, but then I have yet to find a Shelly Gray book I did not love.  She has such a way with her characters and her story lines that make you feel as if you have fallen smack dab in the middle of the story.  This story feels like Florida and makes you want to go there immediately.  I truly believe that this was my absolute favorite to date.  Although this is the second book in the series Amish Brides of Pinecraft you don't miss out on anything.  Penny and Michael are the best characters ever and I was sad when the book ended.  From the moment I began reading I never put this book down.  This is definitely a 5 star book and if you are a fan of Amish life/romance books this is a must read.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this e-book free from Litfuse and  NetGalley as part of their Book Review Blogger Programs. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

Monday, May 25, 2015

My Memorial Day Ramblings

     I found myself asking this morning....what exactly is Memorial Day?  Memorial Day, an American holiday observed on the last Monday of May, honors men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military. Originally known as Decoration Day, it originated in the years following the Civil War and became an official federal holiday in 1971. Many Americans observe Memorial Day by visiting cemeteries or memorials, holding family gatherings and participating in parades. Unofficially, at least, it marks the beginning of summer.
     On May 5, 1862, General John A. Logan, leader of an organization for Northern Civil War veterans, called for a nationwide day of remembrance later that month. “The 30th of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet churchyard in the land,” he proclaimed. The date of Decoration Day, as he called it, was chosen because it wasn’t the anniversary of any particular battle.  On the first Decoration Day, General James Garfield made a speech at Arlington National Cemetery, and 5,000 participants decorated the graves of the 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers buried there. Many Northern states held similar commemorative events and reprised the tradition in subsequent years; by 1890 each one had made Decoration Day an official state holiday. Many Southern states, on the other hand, continued to honor their dead on separate days until after World War I.
     Memorial Day, as Decoration Day gradually came to be known, originally honored only those lost while fighting in the Civil War. But during World War I the United States found itself embroiled in another major conflict, and the holiday evolved to commemorate American military personnel who died in all wars.  For decades, Memorial Day continued to be observed on May 30, the date Logan had selected for the first Decoration Day. But in 1968 Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, which established Memorial Day as the last Monday in May in order to create a three-day weekend for federal employees; the change went into effect in 1971. The same law also declared Memorial Day a federal holiday.
Memorial Day
I have had the privilege of being at Andersonville, Barancus National Cemetery, Arlington, and many others and have seen tiny flags flying in front of the rows and rows of white marble stones bearing the names of men and women who gave their lives so I could be free.  While in Washington, D.C. a few years ago I had the privilege to visit the WWII monument, the Korean wall, the Vietnam wall, and Arlington.  My friend, Marian, told me about her father who had died in Korea as we stood facing the wall.... I cannot begin to explain the emotions that rushed through me as I looked into the faces of the men/women who died in Korea.....and then turned to see them standing behind me.  Marian and I both were crying as we finished the walk.  If you have never been must will be touched to your very core.

The Vietnam wall always makes me cry.  I sat for hours once and watched friends and family come and leave their tributes, touch their loved ones name on the wall, and have an emotional moment standing there.  It is a haunting place.  One you never forget.
My dad and his brothers all served in WWII and I was fortunate enough to visit the WWII Memorial the first year it opened.  As I sat and observed it and all its magnificence I could feel the spirits of the men who gave their lives during this time touch my very soul.
All over the country there are many places like this....places that honor the fallen heroes.  Memorial Day is for them.  It is not about the is not about spending time at the lake.  It is a time to spend remembering.....and teaching our that the fallen ones are never forgotten. 

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Alzheimer's and Momma

Alzheimer's is a disease that needs is frustrating.  It is frustrating to the person going through it....because they can't remember simple things....and to the care-giving person(s) because they are helpless as they watch their loved one leave them.  My first experience with it was first hand.  My mom began slipping and forgetting things she did automatically.  She was aging and we thought it was just a little hardening of the arteries.....but then it got worse....and I did not know what to do.  Eventually I had to admit her to a lock down Alzheimer's unit in a local nursing home so that she would get the care she needed.  Physically she was still my mother, sister to her brothers, aunt to her her nieces and was mentally that was so heart breaking.  The few times her two remaining brothers stopped in to visit...she knew their faces....but not their names.  They did not visit much after that.  That broke my heart.  She was their sister.  When they were ill she visited them.  Angela Windsor's mom came to visit her often and always made my mom smile.  She would always remember those visits and tell me about them.  Melinda Blair visited regularly and my mom always called her her little angel.  Melinda did not always sign in, but she would leave little momentos so I knew she had been there.  Even the nurses on the unit would tell me that mom's angel had visited.  It made me smile.  Eventually...the only ones who visited where Angela, her mom, Melinda, and Frank and I.  Eveyone else forgot her....wonder if they had a touch of Alzheimer's too.  I was sad when even her pastor from the church they supported and loved quit coming.  Visiting her was always interesting.  Once with my husband Frank with me....she asked me who he was dating now.  We had been married  over  7 years.  Once she called him Dougie.  Dougie was my baby brother....he died when he was 5.  Frank was such a good sport during these lapses in memory.  I was not such a good sport.  When she thought I was her sister, Shirley, it broke my heart and I cried all the way home. Many times I asked myself, "Why me?"  "Why her?"  My mom was a character...filled with wonderful life stories and one day they were gone.  The only life stories that remained were the ones I remembered as a child.  For those of you with family suffering from this horrible affliction my heart goes out to you.  It is not a fun road to travel.  I encourage you to keep a journal and write down all the memories during this time.  You won't regret it....and one day you will be able to read them and laugh.  Spend time with your loved one....even if they are not there mentally with will prevent you from having regrets.  I would not take anything for the time I spent with my mom.  When her memory was pretty much gone.....she did remember one thing....the lyrics to "You Are My Sunshine."  Every visit I would wrap my arms around her and we would sing the song....multiple times.  When she was gone I had a charm made so I could remember that very precious memory....and I did a folk painting and put it on the wall next to her picture....she was my sunshine....and I was hers.  God bless you all! 

Friday, May 22, 2015


The girl on the left is Aba.  She is incredibly talented as a dancer, one of my Wadley seniors, and class Valedictorian.  I have enjoyed being part of her life this year.  Aba is not her real name....but it is what I call her in Spanish class.  I wish everyone could meet her...and know her heart.  Aba teaches dance and is awesome as a dancer herself.  She plans to go into the medical field and I know she will be amazing at that....she is amazing at whatever she attempts.  Aba lost her dad this year and while many would have just sat down and given up....not Aba.  She worked harder.  I know her dad would have been so proud of her.  As teachers one of our tasks is to be mindful of the baggage our students bring into the classroom with them.  We, as teachers, have emotional baggage too....but....we need to be intune with our students.  I had a young momma in my class....who rarely missed a day....and graduated in the top of her class.  She worked hard and has plans to be a nurse.  I know she will succeed.  I had a couple that reminded me of a young me.  They were old souls....and if they were older would probably be some of my dearest friends.....but this is about Aba.  She loves to dance....yet, will forgo going to college on a dancing scholarship because she needs to devote her time and energy to being a nurse practicioner.  She will be amazing.  God speed Aba.  It was a joy to walk along your path for a brief time.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

As Waters Gone By

As Waters Gone By pK

About The Book:  How can a marriage survive when separated by hundreds of miles and impenetrable prison walls?  Emmalyn and Max Ross may have to endure the fight of their lives to mend the tattered fabric of their marriage. His actions ensured she could never be a mother and put him in prison, giving their relationship a court-mandated five-year time-out. On a self-imposed exile to beautiful but remote Madeline Island, one of the Apostle Islands of Lake Superior, Emmalyn has just a few months left to figure out if and how they can ever be a couple again.  Nudged along by the exuberant owner of the Wild Iris Inn and Café, a circle of misfit people in their small town, and a young girl who desperately needs someone to love her, Emmalyn restores an island cottage that could become a home and begins to restore her heart by learning what it means to love unconditionally. Yet even as hope begins to find a place within the cottage walls, Emmalyn still wonders if she’s ready for Max’s release. She may be able to rebuild a cottage, but can she rebuild a marriage?
Learn more and purchase a copy.
About The Author:  Cynthia Ruchti has more than three decades of radio broadcast experience with "Heartbeat of the Home" radio and currently serves as Professional Relations Liaison for American Christian Fiction Writers. Find Cynthia on the Web at
My Thoughts On The Book:  I was delighted to be chosen to read and review this book.  It was an amazingly written story of people coming to terms with the hands they had been dealt in life and finding redemption.  I LOVED IT!  I loved everything about it.  The setting, the characters, all felt as if they were familiar to me.  The Great Lakes are magnificent and I could feel I was drawn on to the island with all the characters.  They became real on the page.  Ruchti has quite a knack for character development.  This is a must read and a definite addition for a person library. 
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this e-book free from  Abbingdon Press, Litfuse and  NetGalley as part of their Book Review Blogger Programs. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

Congratulation Wadley Class of 2015!

Tonight I attended the third graduation this week.  As most of you know when I changed jobs I was required to travel between two schools.  Wadley High School is where I finished up my day.  amie Langley, a native of Wadley.....and former Miss Alabama was the Keynote speaker.  She is amazing.  Each one of my seniors touched me in a different way.  Some made me laugh, some made me sad, some made me smile, some amazed me, and some were just special.  No matter how they touched me my seniors there all left their footprints on my heart in a big way.  I met all of them the first day of school and by Labor Day they were mine.  I will miss them madly next year and I hope they know how much I love them all.  I wish them the very best as they embark on the next chapter of their lives. 

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Congratulations RCHS Class of 2015!

Tonight I was part of a very special event.  My first graduation for Randolph County High School.  This has been an awesome year.  As I sat in my seat on the field I felt a magnitude of emotions welling up inside me.  These were my first seniors.  Some of them I knew before I came to RCHS and others I met in August when they entered my classroom, but they all had one thing in common.  They left their footprints on my heart and for that I am truly blessed.  Congratulation Class of 2015!  May the next chapter of your lives be as memorable as this one was.

Graduation Hodge Podge

Welcome to your weekly dose of Hodgepodge. Thanks for playing along...if you've answered the questions today, add your link at the end of my post then go say hi to your neighbors. Here we go-

 1. Did you make someone laugh yesterday? Was it intentional?  I did not laugh or make anyone laugh yesterday.  It is the last week of school and tensions are running high.  There may be laughter after graduation ceremonies tonight....but yesterday....not happening.
2. What's a simple question with a complicated answer?   How are you?
3. Rhododendrons or have to choose. Are any currently blooming in your yard?  Azaleas would have to be my answer.  None are blooming in my yard right now...but they have bloomed recently.

 4.  May 21st is National Waitstaff Day. Have you ever worked as a waiter/waitress? How would you rate the experience? What was the best/worst part of the job?
I have worked as a waitress several times in my life.  I have worked in dives, in a bar and grill, at a nice restaurant.  I enjoyed the money and the experience for the most part.  There are good memories and not so good ones.  I hate the smell of grease to this day.   It gave me an appreciation for my waiter/waitress....and I know that all waitstaff does not get paid minimum wage.  Many of them make waitstaff wage...which is a whole lot lower and tips are very much appreciated. 
5.  What fashion trend for women should be outlawed? How about one for men?
I have to agree with Joyce on her answer.  I hate it when I see a man's underwear because their pants are hanging to their knees.  For women I hate seeing bellys, busts, and stuff....Ladies...look at yourself in the mirror....Don't wear these clothes.
6. Name a writer who inspires tell us why.  Dr. Seuss.  It is graduation week and I have heard many references to Oh The Places You'll Go.  I think it applies to us all at whatever stage of life we are in. 
7.  What well known quote or saying sums up your plans for today or this week?  Ok, so this week I need more than a quote.  I need the whole poem.
1. The version found written on the wall in Mother Teresa's home for children in Calcutta:
              People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered.  Forgive them anyway.
            If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives.  Be kind anyway.
            If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies.  Succeed anyway.
           If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you.  Be honest and sincere anyway.
            What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight.  Create anyway.
            If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous.  Be happy anyway.
            The good you do today, will often be forgotten.  Do good anyway.
         Give the best you have, and it will never be enough.  Give your best anyway.
         In the final analysis, it is between you and God.  It was never between you and them anyway.
-this version is credited to Mother Teresa
 8.  Insert your own random thought here.  I have two this week.  What do you remember about your graduation?  How long has it been?  I am celebrating my 43rd year as a high school graduate.  My second one is to remember that Memorial Day is more than a time for bbqing.  It is a time to remember those who have given their lives so that we can still be free.  I agree with Joyce...if you have never been to need to put that at the top of your bucket list.  If you have never seen the Vietnam Wall, the Korean monument, and all the must go to Washington D.C.  It will touch your life forever and you will never be the same again. 

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

When Grace Sings

#2: When Grace Sings  -     By: Kim Vogel Sawyer

About The Book: When trouble roars into quiet Arborville, Alexa and Anna-Grace find themselves the target for discord and exposed secrets. Can they continue to seek the God of all grace amidst the fog of confusion? Alexa Zimmerman wonders if the Old Order Mennonite community in Arborville, Kansas will ever fully accept her. Her family roots here aren't what anyone thought when she first arrived, but she is hopeful that her culinary and hospitality skills will win the skeptics over. The bed-and-breakfast she's operating needs to succeed so Alexa agrees to allow Briley Forrester, the hotshot reporter from Chicago, to stay as a long-term boarder not knowing his real motives for being amongst the Plain folk. But when Alexa agrees to host her cousin Anna-Grace Braun, the presence of extended family brings out Alexa's insecurities and sets Briley on the trail to uncovering a web of hidden truths. Plans for a secure future and the sweetness of young romance hang in the balance when Alexa and Anna-Grace have to face that their secrets are interconnected, binding the two in ways they could not have imagined. They must trust in a loving, heavenly Father and His plan for their futures.
About The Author: Kim Vogel Sawyer is a best-selling author highly acclaimed for her gentle stories of hope. More than one million copies of her books are currently in print and have garnered awards including the ACFW Carol Award, the Inspirational Readers Choice Award, and the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence. Kim lives in central Kansas, with husband Don and their four feline companions. She enjoys spending time with her three daughters and ten grandchildren.
My Thoughts On The Book: When Grace Sings is the second book in the Zimmerman Restoration Trilogy and although it could be a stand alone, it should be read after reading Book 1 in the Trilogy, When Mercy Rains. Reading both of the books in order allows the reader to understand the dynamics of the plot and characters. The plot keeps the readers on their toes. Just when you think you have figured everything out something changes and you find yourself guessing again. I enjoy reading books by Kim Vogel Sawyer, she is a master at character development and can spin an awesome story. I cannot wait for book 3 to come out. I know many questions will be answered and restoration will occur. I loved this book and highly recommend the series.
  Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this e-book free from Litfuse and  NetGalley as part of their Book Review Blogger Programs. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Somebody's Praying

The title of my sermon today comes from a Ricky Skaggs song I heard several years ago....and loved.  It was called  Somebody’sPraying…..

My Scripture today is from John 17:6-19
Have you ever had someone tell you they are praying for you? Likely we all have had people pray for us, but it is different when someone tells you they are praying for you. It might happen when you are going through a difficult time with health or family. It can make you feel uneasy or a bit vulnerable. But there is also a feeling of well-being that flows over you because you know you are not alone, that someone cares for you and you know that God is there in the midst of it all. Sometime it comes unexpected. I have had emails telling me that someone thought of me and is praying for me. It gives me a lift even if there is nothing particularly weighing on me at the time. Yet sometimes the words come when I feel particularly weighed down and need those prayers especially but did know how or hadn’t thought to ask for prayer.  There is a story that is told of a person driving past a church on a busy street in a city. On the sign was the simple message, “Pray for Ellen Smith”, or whatever her name was. The driver didn’t know Mrs. Smith, they didn’t know the source of her concern but he said he found himself thinking about Mrs. Smith at different times during the day, imagining how old she was, what her concern might have been and during the whole time lifting her up in prayer. I suspect he was not alone.   Frank and I visited a senior member of his congregation some years ago who felt bad that she was no longer able to contribute her energy to the work of the congregation as she had for so many years. I asked her to undertake a very important ministry in the congregation, I asked her to take out her directory each day and look at the pictures and pray for the people. She may not know if they had a particular concern, and that wasn’t important. She would find herself imagining the kids at school, the parents about their work. Some were widows, some whose spouse was in the picture but had died. Her heart would go out to each of them as she lifted up their situations in prayer. I knew she was praying for me as well and I knew I was not alone.

Sometimes that prayer happens in our presence. To hear someone pray for you after talking about particular health or personal concerns has such power because those concerns are brought concretely into the presence of God and we feel healing and release. Offering prayers in the hospital or prayers around the time of death is one of the wonderful opportunities that I have been given in my daily work. We all have this opportunity for blessing. When someone comes to mind, pray for them, it might just be what they need at that time and we don’t know it.  A friend of mine once told me a story of a Lutheran Seminary professor in the U.S. whose son was killed in a violent way. He found it impossible to pray and went about his teaching and his work feeling empty and without anything to give. Sharing his pain with a colleague, he revealed his apparent loss of faith and inability to pray. His friend told him, “We will pray for you until you can pray for yourself again.” Is that not an amazing thing to say to someone?  Anyways, as his healing took place, he was not abandoned and eventually he found himself able to pray again. As parents we remember the prayers we murmured when we sent our children off to school that first day. It was a prayer for safety in a rough old world. We continue to say those prayers as they enter each new stage of life, ready to stride into the unknown. Grandparents, aunts and uncles, find themselves with such prayers on their lips at the time of graduation, every time a new seemingly perilous journey begins. We want safety of person but also safety of spirit in a world we know can be rough and unforgiving.

In today’s gospel Jesus knows he is about to leave his disciples and they are being sent out into the world to be his disciples. Jesus prays for them, asking for protection; asking that God would “sanctify” them, make them holy, protect their souls. This could be called his last will and testament. With that prayer comes all the wonder of Jesus praying for us. This is the Son of God, this is the one who came to save the world, including us. This is the one who died for us, and he is praying for you and me. Praying for our safety, praying for our souls. This is the one who has power over evil and death itself, this is the one praying for us. Jesus is the one who sends us out to carry on that which was important to him, the release of captives, to bind up the sick, to pray for those in need.  When we baptize our children we place the sign of the cross on their foreheads and many parents make that same sign as the last thing done at night. It is a prayer for safety, a prayer marking that child as different. One family had the custom of making the sign of the cross on the forehead of their children when they left the house. One day, a teenage son was in a rush to get off to school and ran up to his Dad and said, “Do me quick and then I can go!” The son came to expect that prayer and wanted it for this particular day with all its busyness. If our children are to live and grow in their faith, they need our prayers.  There was a conversation in a local office after a recent graduation that once again deteriorated into drinking and vandalism. One of the people remembered her graduation some 15 years ago when she had campaigned for a “Safe Graduation”. It was important to her to work for what she believed in. After much opposition from students and parents, her graduation was designated a “Safe Graduation”. She related how she was beat up in the girls washroom the night of Graduation. Sometimes for our faith we might be persecuted, and our children need support and prayer to be the people we hope they will be.  Jesus also prayed, “Sanctify them in truth; your word is truth.” Sanctify means to “make holy”, to have the courage to campaign for a safe grad, to speak up against bullying, to choose not to get caught up in the materialism of our culture, to dare to be different, to work for peace and justice in the face of a culture that says to look out for yourself. A person at our text study this week translated this passage as, “make them weird.” That is very close to the truth. To be a child of God and live that way in our culture is seen as weird. The values we want to teach and live by are not without consequence. This is at the center of who we claim to be as Christians, this is the center of our gathering every Sunday. Are we serious about what we want? Do we dare to pray for that? Are we willing to take it as seriously as some of our children and you do? Do we dare to pray this for our children?

This is my prayer for each one of you, and especially for the children. I pray that we would take seriously our identity as children of God and seek to live it. I pray that we would all pray for each other so that we might have the courage to live differently in our culture. Ron Rolheiser in a recent article says it this way, “Faith must be expressed publicly, in colorful, romantic ways. We must stop building ‘beige churches’ and build churches that express public faith.”   What if we believed that Jesus was praying for our safety and our holiness? What if we prayed these things for each other? How would it change the way we lived together as congregation? Would our worship be any different? How would it affect the decisions we make as individuals and family about how we spend our time and our resources? I worry about the Church of today because many don’t seem to take it seriously. I watch people making choices over and over again which put the trimmings of life central and push matters of faith to the sideline. Choices are made to be away from worship week after week. I worry because I see much energy spent within the church to keep the trimmings of religious life central and driving people away.  I know of what I speak because I am the one who deals with families at the time of death. That is when the many decisions made in life reveal the logical consequences. If praise of God was something to be done grudgingly if there wasn’t something better to do, it is hard to praise God at the time of death. It is hard to find support and care in a community of faith if one does not take the time to build relationships there. It is hard to see God’s hope and presence when there has been a lifetime spent pushing God away.   We want our children to grow in faith but we too often fail to make the choices that allow that faith to be nurtured. I know because I see budding faith in young people snuffed out by callous and ingenuine expressions of religious intolerance paraded as faith.

Remember that Jesus is praying for you. Jesus wants us to live as children of God and promises to give us the strength to face whatever comes. Remember to pray for those around you, and those far away. Pray that we will be protected in our faith and that we will “sanctified” even if that means that we will need the courage to appear weird. Remember that we are to be salt and light to a bland and dark world. Remember that Jesus is praying for us and that all the power of God is with us. Remember that there is nothing that has power beyond the power of God. Remember that God is truth. Then we will be like the tree of Psalm 1, “their delight is in the law of the Lord . . . They are like trees planted by streams of water, which yield their fruit in due season.”

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Praying As Children

The Point of my lesson today is:  Jesus models a life of prayer for us to follow.

How many of you say a prayer before you eat? I am happy to see that almost all of you do.  When we pray before we eat, we are thanking God for all the things we need.  Our food, our air, our homes, and especially our families that love us and support us.

How many of you say a prayer at bed time or maybe when you get up in the morning?  When we pray in the evening, we give thanks to God for bringing us safely through the day.  It is a special time to ask Jesus to forgive us for the things that we did that weren't kind or loving or were disobedient.

Prayer is a very important part of our lives.  I brought with me this morning my prayer cross.  When I have my private prayer time I hold this cross in my hand while I pray.  The base of my cross is where I hold when I am praying for all the things I am thankful for.  The right arm is the one I hold when I pray for my family.  The top is when I pray for my sins and ask for forgiveness, and the left arm is the one I use to pray for friends and people I do not know.  Some people use other things to hold when they pray….and others use nothing….the important thing to remember….is to pray….daily.  Can you do that for me?



Friday, May 15, 2015

Reflections of A-Z

The A to Z Reflections Post is a post presented on your own blog site giving the A to Z Team, the other Challenge participants, and any other readers your thoughts about this year's April Challenge.   They are looking for feedback about the Challenge. The team wants to know what we liked and didn't like, what worked and what didn't. This was my third year to do A-Z Challenge and I could not wait til April 1st rolled around and I could begin.  It is a great way to keep me focused and on task.  I did not want to miss a single day.  After I posted my blog I would read somewhere between 5 - 15 other blogs.  I loved seeing what others wrote and found it funny how some days our topics were the same and other days we were at different ends of the spectrum.  I am looking forward to 2016 and if you are a blogger I am going to encourage you to try next year. It is a lot of fun.  Now for the said part.....the directions for this were:  Please put up your Reflections post between now and Friday, May 8. AFTER your post has gone live, add the link to the Linky List below. Enter the link that goes DIRECTLY to your Reflections post and not your general blog address. The list will be accessible for the remainder of this year. Be sure to grab the badge.   So did not happen.  I am a high school teacher and preacher.....our boy's baseball team made it into the play-offs, it is the end of the school year and life is crazy.  I missed the May 8th deadline.  Sigh!  But that is ok....I decided to still post my reflection blog even though the team probably won't see it.  I can't think of a thing I would change about April's A- Z Challenge.  I loved it!  See you next year for a new adventure. 


Thursday, May 14, 2015

A Heart's Danger (Journey of the Heart series)

About The Book: A Heart's Danger (Thomas Nelson, May 2015) - On the brink of war with the Sioux, Sarah risks everything to expose the betrayal threatening the man she loves.
Christmas is coming, and the air at Fort Laramie has turned cold . . . but relations with the Sioux have turned colder. As tensions between soldiers and natives approach a tipping point, a trap has been set for Rand Campbell.  Rand's new fiancée wants to keep him from returning to Sarah Montgomery . . . for whom his heart clearly still yearns.  Sarah just wants to move on with her life at Fort Laramie, but doing so under the watchful eyes of both Campbell---the man whose love she craves---and Croftner---the man whose lies have cost her everything.  Will Rand fall victim to the conspiracy and go through with his wedding? Or will he declare his love for Sarah and make good on the promises that brought her into the rugged western territories? 
Purchase a copy:

About The Author:
Colleen Coble
has sold over 2 million novels worldwide. Seagrass Pier, the third installment in her acclaimed Hope Beach series, marks a new highpoint for emotion and complexity in Coble's addictive brand of romantic suspense.

Find Colleen online: website, Facebook, Twitter

My Thoughts On The Book:
  I love Colleen Coble's writing style.  She has a way of grabbing you and not letting her readers go until the very last sentence of the book.   A Heart's Danger,  book three from the Journey of the Heart series is no exception.  I could not put it down.  There are three more to go in this series and I cannot wait.  The characters are easy to love....and hate.  Ben Croftner you cannot help but hate. Sarah is my favorite character and she seems to come to life within the words on the page.  This is a series worth picking up and enjoying. 

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this e-book free from Litfuse and NetGalley  as part of their Book Review Blogger Programs. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”  Thank you!  Thank you!  Thank you!  


Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Wednesday Hodge Podge - Vol 220

 Here are the questions to this week's edition of The Wednesday Hodgepodge and my responses. You know the drill-answer on your own blog, then hop back over to Joyce's place to share answers with friends and random strangers on Joyce's blog.

1. When is your next big deadline? What's it for? Friday, May  15th - Grades posted and verified for seniors.  If they are failing we must contact parents and get their student in to see what we can do to help them pass.  Graduation is May 20th.  Mine all passed as of today.  Whooo hoooo.  Then we move on the rest of our students and give their finals, grade them, and verify their grades by Thursday, May 21st.
2. May is National Barbecue Month. Do you prefer cooking indoors or out? What's the best thing about a barbecue? What's the last thing you cooked on an outdoor grill?  I love cooking both places.  We have a George Foreman that we use when we are out of charcoal...or it is cold.  I love the smell of BBQ and the taste of seared meat.  Frank cooked porkchops the other night.  They were awesome!

3. What is one thing on your "never again" list?  Right now I am drawing a blank...but I am sure it has to do with height. 
4. What's something that annoys you about people your own age? Something you love about your generation?  I get annoyed by "I remember when I was your age comments."  I love our free spirited ness.
5. Lilac, iris, hyacinth, pansy...your favorite purple flower?  I love the ones you listed...but orchids would be my favorite purple flower.
6. Whats a song that always calms you down?  It Is Well With My Soul

7. What's the last thing you donated?  Furniture and clothes to the Salvation Army, a coat to someone who lost everything in a house fire, a door prize, my time to put together Baccalaureate Services.
8. Insert your own random thought here.  Graduation is fast upon us here at RCHS.  It is a crazy week and I am looking forward to summer.  I have had a wonderful year at my new school and cannot wait til next year.  Do you remember how you felt when you were a senior and graduating?  Did you think you were ready for what was ahead?  I thought I could take on the world.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Will The Real Mother Please Stand Up

Now this is not your usual Mother’s Day text so please pay close attention:

My scripture comes from 1 Kings 3:16-28 (NIV)

Now two prostitutes came to the king (Solomon) and stood before him. One of them said, "My lord, this woman and I live in the same house. I had a baby while she was there with me. The third day after my child was born, this woman also had a baby. We were alone; there was no one in the house but the two of us.  During the night this woman’s son died because she lay on him. So she got up in the middle of the night and took my son from my side while I your servant was asleep. She put him by her breast and put her dead son by my breast. The next morning, I got up to nurse my son - and he was dead! But when I looked at him closely in the morning light, I saw that it wasn’t the son I had borne."  The other woman said, "No! The living one is my son; the dead one is yours." But the first one insisted, "No! The dead one is yours; the living one is mine." And so they argued before the king.  The king said, "This one says, ’My son is alive and your son is dead,’ while that one says, ’No! Your son is dead and mine is alive.’" Then the kind said, "Bring me a sword." So they brought a sword for the king. He then gave an order: "Cut the living child in two and give half to one and half to the other."  The woman whose son was alive was filled with compassion for her son and said to the king, "Please, my lord, give her the living baby! Don’t kill him!"  But the other said, "Neither I nor you shall have him. Cut him in two!"  Then the king gave his ruling: "Give the living baby to the first woman. Do not kill him; she is his mother." When all Israel heard the verdict the king had given, they held the king in awe, because they saw that he had wisdom from God to administer justice.


But do you know what one of the problems is with classic Bible stories? We often learn the primary lesson and fail to see the rest of the story.  This incident is used of God to show He had given Solomon the wisdom he had requested as king. It proves that wisdom comes from God. The story also provides MORALS OF MOTHERHOOD from an unlikely source.

The first MORAL OF MOTHERHOOD from this story:


I am not saying this to drag mothers down but to build them up.  No one needs to be treated with more tenderness than our mother. Perhaps no one is more caring and conscientious than our mother. Sometimes we are too hard on them. Sometimes they are too hard on themselves.  The two mothers in this story were prostitutes! Their babies were evidently conceived under sinful circumstances. That grabs you! It makes you sit up in your church pew and take notice!  Why did Solomon, king over God’s chosen people, even take the time to worry with two prostitutes? These women, and the sinful men who paid for their services, were living out of God’s will.

SOLOMON WAS CONCERNED ABOUT THESE TWO WOMEN BECAUSE GOD WAS CONCERNED ABOUT THEM!  I don’t have to convince you that the church should stand for moral purity. But the church should also stand for forgiveness and restoration!   These women were not living up to God’s ideals - yet He still loved them! If any of us had to wait for God to love us based on our performance we would all be out of luck!

No, there is no such thing as a perfect mother, just like there aren’t any perfect ones among the rest of us. And if there’s anyone in whom we should be willing to overlook faults, it should be our mother. Why? Because they’ve overlooked so many of our faults.  We need to lighten up on mom a little, and moms need to lighten up on themselves a little. Moms need to laugh and have a good time. Here are a few good laughs for you. These are some experts from the "Children’s Letters to God" series, actual authentic letters written by kids to God:

"Dear God, I read the Bible. What does ’begat’ mean? Nobody will tell me. Love, Alison."

"Dear God, did you mean for the giraffe to look like that or was it an accident?" – Norma

"Dear God, I went to this wedding and they kissed right in church. Is that okay?" - Neil

"Dear God, thank you for the baby brother but what I prayed for was a puppy." - Joyce

"Please send me a pony. I never asked for anything before. You can look it up." - Bruce

"Dear God, please send Dennis Clark to a different camp this year." - Peter

"Dear God, I think about you sometimes even when I’m not praying." -Elliot

"Dear God, I bet it is very hard for you to love everybody in the world. There are only 4 in my family and I can’t do it." -Nan

"Dear God, I didn’t think orange went with purple until I saw the sunset you made on Tuesday. That was cool. -Eugene

Those authentic letters would make any mother smile!  And just in case they don’t, find something to smile about and make it a regular habit. Life is too short and God is too good to go around frowning all the time.

Here’s another MORAL OF MOTHERHOOD from out story:


Don’t look for stress-free motherhood, it doesn’t exist. From the pains of giving birth, to the empty nest, to grandchildren and beyond, motherhood is stressful.  Once again, this is not mentioned to discourage anyone. There is good news! God is willing and able to assist moms in the problems they encounter.  God didn’t give Solomon wisdom so folks would stand around the palace and say "ooh" and "ahh". He gave His wisdom for a purpose. God not only loved those two prositute mothers, He also loved the little baby in this story. God dispatched His wisdom to Solomon to save the child.  He has wisdom to spare for parenting responsibities today. He can guide and provide for mothers in all kinds of life situations - single moms, adoptive moms, step-moms, moms with special situations, you name it!

Kids today have special needs. That’s okay. God has the wisdom to give you for the task. He can teach you what to do and what to say in every situation.

Like the mom who was tucking her small boy into bed one summer night during a violent thunder storm. She was just about to turn out the light when he asked with a tremor in his voice, "Mommy, will you sleep with me tonight?"  The mother smiled and gave him a reassuring hug. "I can’t, Dear," she said, "I have to sleep with your daddy." A long silence was broken at last by his shaky little voice: "The big sissy."

Here’s the third and final MORAL FOR MOTHERS from this story:


The real mother in this story would rather see another woman raise her child than see it split in two.  You have to be willing to give up some things to be a good mother.  Personal sacrifice is a pivotal part of motherhood. It begins by sacrificing their own bodies by carrying the child around in their womb for nine months. No mother’s child ought to get over that sacrifice! Our mothers fed us, nourished and protected us with their own bodies before we even saw the light of day. I don’t know anyone else who loves me enough to carry me around for nine months.  But a mother’s sacrifice doesn’t end there. They keep on giving. They give up sleep for the midnight feedings. They give up personal goals to help their children achieve their goals. Ask yourself how many times you got a new outfit and mom wore the same old clothes, or how many times she gave you the last helping at supper…or when she decided she didn’t like something so you could have two helpings.  We honor moms for all the giving they do. They remind us of God who is sacrificial and giving. He gave His only Son for a world of wayward children.

That kind of love should not go unnoticed and unappreciated. Respond to moms with great love and appreciation. And respond to the God who created motherhood the same way.