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!”

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Let Freedom Ring.......

When you think about July 4th what comes to mind?   Perhaps you think about a day off from work with picnics, fireworks, and those red, white, and blue flags displayed in front yards along your neighborhood streets.  This is all good, but the one word that comes to my mind is freedom.  It is a fact that  we live in the United States of America where we can voice our opinions freely, and can vote for the people of our choice. These are very good reasons why we should never take our freedom for granted.  Each year I notice that some people really go all out decorating for every holiday, but on the 4th of July I just display my flag in the yard for the entire month. The flag means a lot to me because of those in my family who have been in wars. I have also had friends who have served our country, and I have known some who did not come home in the past and present war.  My grandfather served in World War I, my father and all of his brothers served in World War II, my mother was a dancer and performer for USO shows during World War II, my cousins, uncles, and classmates served in Korea and Vietnam,  and I also have had loved ones  in Afghanistan.  Because of their contributions in keeping us all free, I proudly display the flag.  Have you thought about the American flag and all that it stands for? It represents an emblem of the greatest nation on the earth. It has been carried through centuries in battle. It is placed on the graves of our honored dead who fought for the right for us to remain a free nation, and it flies high during peace times, as well as war.  “Old Glory” is its name.  There is another real freedom we can have. We can display it every day of the year, and that is our freedom “In Christ” to live a life to glorify Him, so that His banner of love, truth, and peace can be seen by all.  It is a flag flown high in the castle of my heart (taken from a song). We can be free in our spirit to serve the Creator of the whole universe and that my friends, is True Freedom.  Romans 8:2 says, "For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus made me free from the law of sin and of death."  (ASV)  Just like the flag that represents freedom, Jesus is a banner over us, protecting and shielding us. He is the “Glory and the Lifter of our heads” at all times. Let freedom ring out in your heart today.  Psalm 3:3 reads,  "But thou, O LORD, art a shield for me; my glory, and the lifter up of mine head." (KJV)
Blessings and God Bless America,

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

It's The Good Old Summertime Hodge Podge

Here we are with the last week of June Wednesday Hodgepodge. If you play along then you know the routine...Answer on your own blog then hop over to Joyce's blog by clicking here to add your link to the party. Oh! Be sure to comment on someone else's post.  See you there! 

 1. It's officially summer (in the northern hemisphere anyway). Which summer month is best and why?  June is the best month for me because my summer break has just started, it is my daughter's birthday, in fact I have a lot of special June birthday's and anniversaries.  I always go to the beach in June.  August is my least favorite.....I start back to school on August 1.2. Can you swim? How did you learn? June 27th is National Sunglasses Day. How many pair do you own?  Yes, I can swim.  I learned through swimming lessons at the YWCA in West Palm Beach.  I held my Junior and Senior life guarding certificates.  I own one pair of sunglasses....they re prescription glasses.3. What characteristic do you judge most harshly in yourself? How about in others?  For me it is the lack of patience and self-control.  Sometimes my mouth overloads my brain.  For others it would be  ignorance.  There is no reason on this earth for people to delight in being ignorant and allow their children to follow suit.4. Robert Frost wrote the now well known poem entitled The Road Not Taken. What's a road (literal or figurative) you've always wanted to travel, and where do you hope it takes you? Literally....Route 66 from start to finish, roads far as Alaska, the Ultimate cover the whole USA Road trip (as seen on Facebook).  You know...See the USA in your Chevrolet.
5. Popsicles-yay or nay? If you answered yay, what's your favorite flavor? Popsicles....I can take them or leave them.  I like fruity tastes if I eat one. I do not like those juice things in plastic that you buy by the 100's in a box for things like VBS.
6. Brexit-on a scale of 1-10 how knowledgeable are you on what's involved here? (1=very knowledgeable and 10=what's Brexit) Is this news you'll follow or is it something you think won't impact your life in any way shape or form?  I am about a 6.  I know just enough to be dangerous. It is news I will follow and it will impact my far it has impacted my retirement a bit because of the stock market shift.7. Share a favorite song on your summer play list. Summer Time by Ella Fitzgerald.
And the Beach Boys Surfin' U.S.A.

8. Insert your own random thought here.   What is your favorite summer memory?  I hope you will share one with me.  Mine is going to the beach and then stopping in at A & W for a root beer and one of their little hamburger sliders. 

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Fruits Of The Spirit Part I

My scripture today is found in Galatians 5:22-23

For the next two more weeks I am going to be focusing on the Fruits of the Spirit.

Our Vacation Bible School this week has focused on the Fruits of the Spirit and so I thought I would continue with the lesson a bit and discuss a few of the fruits of the Spirit that I need a refresher course on.

In Galatians 5:22-23 Paul lists nine fruits of the spirit that are a result of allowing ourselves to be filled with the Holy Spirit. The first three fruits of the spirit are:  love, joy and peace and I am pretty sure we all know what they mean….nope…. Today I want to talk about patience, kindness and goodness. These fruits have to do with our relationships with other people and three that we need some work on….especially if we find ourselves being short-tempered, unkind or rude.

The first fruit Paul lists in this second cluster of fruit is patience. We sometimes seem to gloat in our own impatience. Have you ever prayed for patience….this way? – Lord Give Me Patience – Now!  I know I have.  Patience is not one of my strongest virtues.

Phillips Brooks was an outstanding preacher of the late 19th century. Even though he was a great orator, he was well known for his moments of frustration and irritability. One day a friend saw him pacing the floor like a caged lion. “What’s the trouble, Dr. Brooks?” asked the friend. “The trouble is that I’m in a hurry, but God isn’t!” Most of us can empathize with this thought.

We have come to think of patience as the ability to wait for some event or object to come our way in the future. Indeed this is an aspect of patience, but this is not what Paul had in mind here. Paul had in mind being patient with people, not so much as being patient with things. In this text patience refers to tolerance. Here, patience is a gentle tolerance of others, no matter how they may treat us.

Instead of the word patience the old King James Version uses the word LONGSUFFERING. In many ways this word may be more appropriate for what Paul is expressing. In other words, the Spirit enables a Christian to suffer long. As Christians, we realize that God has been patient with us in our shortcomings; therefore as a believer, we are to be patient with others. One who is long-suffering, has his temper under control. Instead of losing our temper when we are wronged, we are patient and full of endurance. In other words, we are slow to take offense and we leave vengeance to God. Do you recall the words of Jesus from the Sermon on the Mount? Jesus said:

          You have heard that is was said, “Eye for eye, tooth for tooth. But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you in the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you. 

I believe Jesus meant for us to take these words literally, not figuratively. This is patience – having a tolerance for others, no matter how they treat us.

Some years ago, in a manufacturing village in England, a young lady spoke to the Sunday School superintendent about teaching a class. He told her he had no vacant classes, but if she would like to go out into the community and hunt up a class of boys for herself, he would be glad to have her help. She did and gathered a class of poor ragged boys. Among these, the worst and most unpromising boy was named Bob. The superintendent told these boys to come to his house during the week, and he would get them each a new suit of clothes. They came and got their clothes. After two or three Sundays, Bob was missing. The teacher went after him. She found that his new clothes were torn and dirty. She invited him back to school. He came and the superintendent gave him a second suit. After attending once or twice Bob’s place was empty again. Once more the teacher sought him out. She found that the second suit of clothes had gone the same way as the first. She reported the case to the superintendent, saying she was utterly discouraged about Bob, and must give him up. “Please don’t do that,” said the superintendent, “I can’t help but hope that there is something good in Bob. Try him once more. I’ll give him a third suit of clothing if he’ll promise to attend regularly.” Bob did promise. He received his third suit of clothes. He did attend regularly after that. He got interested in the school. He became an earnest and persevering seeker after Jesus and eventually found him. He joined the church and eventually became a teacher. He began to study for the ministry, and the end of the story is that that discouraging boy – that ragged, runaway Bob – became Rev. Robert Morrison, a great missionary to China.

The same Dr. Morrison who translated the Bible into the Chinese language. How did all this come about? Because a couple of Christians were patient. They endured the frustration and let God’s spirit work through them. The fruit of the Spirit is patience.


The second fruit Paul presents in this second cluster is KINDNESS. It has been said that kindness is grace in action. Charles Hembree in this book, FRUITS OF THE SPIRIT perhaps has caught the grim reality of our society. He writes:

“In our age of guided missiles and misguided men there is a desperate need for us to learn how to share gentleness. It seems strange that in an age when we can reach the moon, bounce signals off far planets, and receive pictures from whirling satellites we have great difficulty communicating tenderness to those about us.”

Every direction we turn we are constantly being bombarded with unkindness. Seldom do we hear a kind word, a word of encouragement. The words we often hear are cutting, backstabbing, ugly words. Sadly, this is true in the home. Why do children often say ugly, disrespectful words to parents? Most often it is because of the way parents speak to each other and to the children themselves. And at work ….. it’s even worse. Instead of living by Christ’s words, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”; we live by the rule, “Do unto others before they do it to you!!!”

Paul says that a fruit of the Spirit is kindness. Does this mean you are kind to those who are kind to you and unkind to those who are unkind to you? No!!! In fact the opposite is the greatest truth. As Christians we are to be kind to those who are the meanest of all. I can hear you now … “Preacher, you just don’t know how it is out there. It’s a dog eat dog world and if you are going to get ahead you got to walk on people. There is no room for kindness.” First, let me say I have never figured out why so many people think if you work in the Church life is different. Granted it should be. Yet some of the meanest spirited people I know are in the church. So often a pastor’s time is spent ministering to the causalities of a Christian who comes through whirling a barrage of hurtful words. Friends, if we allow the Spirit to control us, we will respect others, we will seek to be kind to others, if for no other reason than because they are a creation of the most high God.

A story is told of a child who found a turtle and started to examine it, but the turtle closed his shell like a vase. The little boy then tried to pry open the turtle with a stick. Hid uncle nearby said, “No, no, that’s not the way.” He took the creature inside and set him on the hearth. In a few minutes he began to get warm, stick out his head and feet, and calmly crawled toward the boy. “People are sort of like turtles,” his uncle said. “Never try to force a fella into anything. Just warm him with human kindness and more likely he will open up.” The fruit of the Spirit is Kindness.

The third fruit in this cluster is GOODNESS. Simply put, the Spirit controlled person will be a good person. I pray this can be said of every Christian in this Church. That we have the reputation of being a good person. What Paul is speaking of, is moral and spiritual excellence. The idea expressed here is more than just “doing good”. Goodness goes far deeper. Goodness is love in action. It carried with it not only the idea of righteousness, righteousness demonstrated in everyday living. In fact it goes beyond being righteous for righteousness sake.

One author has said:  A righteous person could evict a widow for not paying her rent. Righteousness is following the standard. Goodness would pay the bill for her.

In whatever work we do or whatever schedule we keep if we will allow the spirit to be in control we will find the opportunity to do good.

I want to close with this quote from Will Durant, ““A good man who is not great is a hundred times more precious than a great man who is not good.” Amen?


Saturday, June 25, 2016

Meet The Taters

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Galatians 5:22-23

You know, a church is very much like a family. Each member of the family is different and has his own special identity and his own personality. This morning, we have a very special family with us to show us how each member of the family may be different and how members of our church family may be different too. The family that I have with us this morning is the Tater family. The Tater family is made up of a father named Dick Tater, a mother whose name is Sweet Tater, a teenaged son named Speck Tater, a daughter named Emma Tater and two children in the nursery . They would be the Tater tots!

The father, Dick Tater always has to be the boss. He always tells everyone what to do. He wants to be chairman of the deacons, or at least the personnel committee. If he can't be the boss, he won't even come to church at all.

The mother, Sweet Tater, always has something nice to say about everyone. She never insists on having her own way and she would never get mad or get her feelings hurt if she didn't get her way. She really shows what the Bible calls the fruit of the Spirit; love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

The teenaged son, Speck Tater just doesn't want to get involved. He doesn't want any jobs, he just wants to sit back and watch everyone else do the work. Of course, if they don't do it to suit him, he will surely be the first to criticize and find fault.

The daughter, Emma Tater, is more worried about what she wears to church than she is about what happens at church. It is very important to her that she is dressed in the latest style so that she won't be embarrassed. She wants every one to notice that she is very "cool."

Well, that brings us to the Tater tots in the nursery. I don't know how they will turn out, but they will probably look at the other members of the family and decide that they want to be like one of them. They might become a Dick Tater, a Sweet Tater, a Speck Tater, or an Emma Tater. Let's hope that they make the right choice.



Thursday, June 23, 2016

Dwelling Places: Words To Live In Every Season

About The Book:  Dwelling Places: Words to Live in Every Season (Abingdon, June 2016).  Do you long for serenity and refuge, peace and hope? Are you seeking a deeper spiritual life through a closer relationship with God?  If you're tired of dwelling in busyness and noise, then perhaps one word a day can change your life. Award-winning author Lucinda Secrest McDowell knows that if you spend time each day turning to God's Word for wisdom and guidance, your faith can flourish and grow.  Through short and inspiring readings, McDowell unpacks a single word---such as mercy, beauty, gratitude, or grace---to reveal a biblical blessing or challenge relevant to where you are. Full of stories and illustrations to empower you to live the word you have just read, each devotional ends with a benediction, written as if God were speaking directly to you.  These "dwelling places" that offer the joy of God's promise and presence cover four seasons: fall, Advent, Lent, and summer. Whether in the midst of busy holiday schedules, holy days, ordinary moments, or changing seasons, a deeper faith can be as simple as a single word.Purchase a copy:
About The Author: Lucinda Secrest McDowell is the author of 11 books, including Live These Words, Amazed by Grace, and Quilts from Heaven. She has contributed to an additional 25 books and has been published in more than 50 magazines. A graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and Furman University, she speaks internationally through her ministry Encouraging Words. An award-winning writer who has earned accolades from prominent writers' conferences and retreats, McDowell has also worked in radio broadcasting, in retreat planning, and on church pastoral staffs. She writes from "Sunnyside" cottage in Connecticut. 
My Thoughts On The Book:  I am a huge fan of devotionals.  My husband or daughter usually get me one for Christmas every year.  For me, devotionals are a great way to connect to God.  I was quite impressed with Lucinda McDowell, the author of Dwelling Places.  McDowell divided it into four seasons--Dwell,  Each section or season Shine, Renew, and Grow.  Each of these sections has  approximately thirty entries.  Each reading begins with a short scripture,  then offers us a short explanation of the scripture using a little story, and then ends with a short prayer.  They are not dated, so you do not have to follow any set plan.  Most of them take about five minutes to read and ponder on.  I have to admit there were a few that took me longer because they spoke to my heart and I ended up digging deeper into God's Word.  Calm, which was one of those....was number ten in the Dwell section.  It talks about the perfect storm.  The scripture was when Jesus was asleep in the back of the boat and the poor ship and crew were in peril.  "Surprise storms are inevitable in this life.  Panic is optional.  Call out for Him now.  And be prepared to dwell in calm."(page 21)  When I read number 10 I was  the middle of my own personal perfect storm.  Fall is my favorite season and I chose to review fall because I find myself in the fall of my life.  Fall is a time of change, vibrancy, glorious color and that is what I found within the pages of Dwell.  There are not enough sections for a whole year in number.....but I revisited several and discovered something new to hold on to in each visit.  I highly recommend this book.  It is a keeper. 
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Litfuse Publishing and Abingdon Press as part of their Blogging Review program. 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, June 19, 2016

A Father's Toolbox

My scripture today is from Proverbs :1-12.
Since today is Father’s Day, I thought I would talk about a father’s toolbox  As we celebrate Father’s Day, we see in the Scriptures examples and commands for parents – It calls for Father’s to be active in teaching and developing their children for life and the Lord!  The book of Proverbs is filled with thoughts about seeking and finding Godly Wisdom for life and most of it is about a Father – These words are from Solomon as he passed down truth and life lessons to his son. Father’s have a huge influence on their children and  children need fathers to take the time and Teach them about Life and the Lord.  My question this morning is how can men, as Father’s teach their children for Life and the Lord?

Men today, I want us to look at some necessary tools that you might find in your toolbox at home to help remind you of how you can teach your children about: Love & Faithfulness; Faith in the lord and seeking His ways; Being Generous and Giving to the Lord; as well as the need for discipline?
Tool #1 – Here we have an Adjustable Wrench; Father’s need to be adjustable and flexible to the situations that arise. Eph. 6:4, “Father’s do not exasperate your children; instead bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”
Tool #2 – is a Level; Father’s need to walk on level paths as an example as well as keep a Level head in relationship with your children. Jer. 31:9, “They will come . . . I will lead them beside streams of water on a level path where they will not stumble, because I am their Father.”  Isaiah 26:7, “The path of the Righteous is level; O upright One, you make the way of the righteous smooth.”

Tool #3 – is one of my favorite tools….Pliers; Every toolbox needs some pliers to hold things together. So a Father needs to hold things together in his family when everyone else appear to be loosing their grip. Col. 1:17, “… and in Jesus all things hold together.” Phil. 3:12, “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.”

Tool #4 – here we have some….Cologne? How did that get in here. But it is true Gentleman, one of the greatest things you can do for your children and especially your sons to teach them about Love and Faithfulness is to love their Mothers. Eph. 5:25, “Husbands love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself up for her to present her holy and blameless before the Father.”

Tool #5 –  is a Rubber Mallet; Father’s need to some urging, apply some pressure and influence but not be too hard. The Right tool for the right job. Eph. 4:1, Paul says to the Christians in Ephesus “… I URGE you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.”
Tool #6 – would be…..of course….Shop Towels; men should clean up the messes they make so as Father’s yo need to show to your children that we are not perfect. Elton John said it best, “Sorry seems to be the hardest word.” I read that most children never hear their Father’s say “I am sorry.” Seek God’s Forgiveness and your child’s when you have blown it. 1John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from unrighteousness.”

Tool #7 – is a Tape Measure; Just like in doing a project, you need to measure.  My dad’s favorite expression….was always “measure twice – cut once.  I think it is a man thing because I have heard Frank use it too…. – so as Fathers you need to Measure your Time, Priorities, and balance with your work and family life.
Tool #8 – is very important….an Extension Cord;  You know….As you consider all that we are called to teach our children (Love and Faithfulness, Faith and God’s Ways in life, Pride, Generous and Giving to the Lord vs. selfish; how accept and deal with Discipline in life, even from the Lord. You might be looking at these tools and saying…… even with the tools: An Adjustable Wrench, a Level, Pliers, Rubber Mallot and Shop Towels - I am not too sure I can do it.  Well, then you definitely need this next tool: An Extension Cord.

I was extremely blessed because I had a great dad….but, I know that sometimes as a Father he probably felt like an Extension Cord ….being pulled and stretched in every direction – but  to be honest….people we Need an Extension Cord to help us Plug into the Power and Strength and Wisdom of our Lord to guide and use as a Good and Godly Fathers….and Mothers!  James 1:5 tells us, “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.” …and we find in 2Tim. 3:16-17, “All Scripture is God breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped to do every good work.” We as parents….mentors….aunts, uncles…grandparents….need to Plug into the Lord thru Regular Worship, Reading His Word – the Bible, Praying, Talking to God and asking His help – even praying for and with our children! God is our Heavenly Father – He loves us and is there for us always. He even can remind us through everyday Tools how we can be effective and godly parents for our Children.  Children are a blessing and a responsibility. Most often their view of our Heavenly Father will be greatly influenced by how we as their earthly Father’s love them and teach about life and the Lord.  Let me urges us all to….Seek the Lord today and let us use these tools to be godly Fathers….godly Parents for our children…Amen?
Just like on Mother's Day when I did the roses sermon....and gave away a dozen roses after the message.....well....After the message I drew one of the men's names out.....and the winner of the message toolbox was.....Delmar Green.

Tribute for Father's Day

I was a Daddy's Girl.  I thought my dad hung the moon.  I wish I could tell him Happy Father's Day today.....but I can't.  I am blessed to have so many important fathers in my life.   
My husband Frank.....
My son, Eric.....

 My SIL Steven
My SIL Brian.  This is his first Father's Day.
Kathryn's Godfather,Chuck. I think she was a couple of months old here.  She will be
36 on the 23rd of this month....but then that is a post for another day.

So now I thought I would wish all the wonderful fathers in my life a Happy Father's Day and feed them a wee bit of trivia about the holiday itself.  Did you know that  on June 19, 1910, the governor of the U.S. state of Washington proclaimed the nation’s first “Father’s Day.” However, it was not until 1972, 58 years after President Woodrow Wilson made Mother’s Day official, that the day became a nationwide holiday in the United States.  The campaign to celebrate the nation’s fathers did not meet with the same enthusiasm–perhaps because, as one florist explained, “fathers haven’t the same sentimental appeal that mothers have.” On July 5, 1908, a West Virginia church sponsored the nation’s first event explicitly in honor of fathers, a Sunday sermon in memory of the 362 men who had died in the previous December’s explosions at the Fairmont Coal Company mines in Monongah, but it was a one-time commemoration and not an annual holiday. The next year, a Spokane, Washington woman named Sonora Smart Dodd, one of six children raised by a widower, tried to establish an official equivalent to Mother’s Day for male parents. She went to local churches, the YMCA, shopkeepers and government officials to drum up support for her idea, and she was successful: Washington State celebrated the nation’s first statewide Father’s Day on June 19, 1910. Slowly, the holiday spread. In 1916, President Wilson honored the day by using telegraph signals to unfurl a flag in Spokane when he pressed a button in Washington, D.C. In 1924, President Calvin Coolidge urged state governments to observe Father’s Day. However, many men continued to disdain the day. As one historian writes, they “scoffed at the holiday’s sentimental attempts to domesticate manliness with flowers and gift-giving, or they derided the proliferation of such holidays as a commercial gimmick to sell more products–often paid for by the father himself.”    During the 1920s and 1930s, a movement arose to scrap Mother’s Day and Father’s Day altogether in favor of a single holiday, Parents’ Day. Every year on Mother’s Day, pro-Parents’ Day groups rallied in New York City’s Central Park–a public reminder, said Parents’ Day activist and radio performer Robert Spere, “that both parents should be loved and respected together.” Paradoxically, however, the Depression derailed this effort to combine and de-commercialize the holidays. Struggling retailers and advertisers redoubled their efforts to make Father’s Day a “second Christmas” for men, promoting goods such as neckties, hats, socks, pipes and tobacco, golf clubs and other sporting goods, and greeting cards. When World War II began, advertisers began to argue that celebrating Father’s Day was a way to honor American troops and support the war effort. By the end of the war, Father’s Day may not have been a federal holiday, but it was a national institution.In 1972, in the middle of a hard-fought presidential re-election campaign, Richard Nixon signed a proclamation making Father’s Day a federal holiday at last. Today, economists estimate that Americans spend more than $1 billion each year on Father’s Day gifts.  Did you buy your father something 

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Matthew Cuthbert, My Pepaw, and Smell Good Man....

Today I have a guest blogger filling in for me.  It is my daughter Kathryn and she does not know she is my guest....but after reading her post this morning....I had to share it with you all. 


Matthew Cuthbert, My Pepaw, and Smell Good man

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Hi friends...Remember me?  I have not blogged in a while and I know you all still love me.  My days consist of doing life with these girls, of soaking up every ounce of information I can about orphan care and shepherding the hurting heart.  Most of our girls come from backgrounds full of hurt and abandonment and that brings with it its own unique set of issues.  Brian and I want to do all that we can to love them and lead them-and that includes reading...all...the...time.
Recently, I finished reading the most wonderful book called Anne of Green Gables, My Daughter and I by Lorilee Craker.  It is so amazing as it pairs two things I love- Anne of Green Gables and understanding the heart of those considered "orphans" by society-those with who are hurting.  I would love to write and write and write about this book...but that isn't what's on my heart. 

Recently, I read a chapter about Matthew Cuthbert, the most unlikely, unassuming, and unsung father figure in literature.  While reading it, I may have sat in a coffee house in Moldova's capitol city and balled my little eyes out.  It made me feel eternally grateful for the amazing men who have loved me and loved others so well.  There isn't enough room on this blog for me to thank every father like figure...but there is room to hit a few highlights

I am from the south.  I love that I am from the south and from a family of salt of the earth country people.  People who love big.  In the south, we don't call our fathers "dad" or "father"...good southern girls say daddy.  I can remember my favorite thing as a child was cutting grass with my daddy.  I always felt like a princess riding along with him, wearing his work cap or my favorite cowboy hat.  I loved that special time just with him.  My dad was not a perfect father.  I was not a perfect daughter.  But, we sure loved each other.  Most of my memories of him make me laugh and smile so big.  He was just the kind of person who loved to make people smile and he loved to have a good time.  At my father's funeral, all I could think about was the big life that my daddy had lived.  Full of adventures and laughs and trials.  He had loved big.  He had loved me big. I foolishly thought for most of my life that my father didn't love me as much as he loved my siblings.  By the time I was a teenager, he had raised my brother and sister and was tired.  He wasn't very present then because he was struggling with so much personally.  Some of my most precious times with my father (and my brother) were over the last ten years.  He was very sick the last ten years and we had lots of one on one time in the hospital.  It was as if my wild, larger than life daddy became softer and more introspective.  He would share so much love and words of wisdom with me.  So many times he told me he loved me and was proud of me-things I had longed to hear as a teenager.  Many times my daddy told me, that he knew that God was using his sickness and pain to bring his family together and he felt like that made it worth it....and he meant it...and it did.  God used my daddy's health and even his death to bring us all closer.  At his funeral, the thing that meant the most to me was that every single person that came through the line asked if I was "the daughter that was a missionary".  They would then tell me how proud he was of me and how he talked about me all the time.  That man loved me and my brother and sister BIG.  He loved BIG and He lived BIG.

My pepaw.
If you have read my blog at all.  You have read about my grandparents.  My grandfather took me on my first ever mission trip when I was 12- with Carpenters for Christ. I didn't call him grandfather or grandpa...nope he was too special for that.  He was pepaw.  My Pepaw was not a perfect man, but he served a perfect God...and He served Him with all that he was.  With my pepaw, I always felt safe, loved, and special.  He was one of my earliest heroes.  This man loved others so well.  He was always willing to get up early and drive a bazillion miles to be with a friend in need.  When he passed away, I had the extreme honor of speaking at his funeral.  It was my first time to loose someone I loved so dear.  But, I KNEW that I had to share about him.  I knew that so many in the church knew God because my grandfather had introduced them.  I was his darling and he was my pepaw. I wish that he were alive.  He would love these girls of ours so much.  I think he would have gotten over his aversion of flying just to come meet his new and precious extended family.  He loved family.

I wasn't raised Catholic.  But, I had a godfather. No, I'm not Italian either.  Just blessed.  When I was christened as a child, my mother chose her childhood friend and her friend's husband to be my godparents.  They had a baby girl that was born the year before...and they just took me as part of their family as well.  So many of my childhood memories consist of my godparents.  Trips to Knoxville.  To the Worlds Fair.  So many amazing memories with my extra family...and my Godfather:) He was not like a Corleone at all.  He is warm, caring, and servant-hearted and loves Jesus so much.  Every major life event I have ever experienced, Chuckles has been there.  (That's our nickname for him).  My birth, my christening, my high school graduation, my wedding, my grandparent's funerals and so many more.  He loved my father dearly.  Chuckles rushed to be at my side when my father was dying.  In fact, within five minutes of his arriving, my father passed.  I think my daddy waited so Chuckles could be there to hold me...yet again, Chuckles was there to hold my hand and love me through a major life event.  He and his wife helped me get organized and prepare myself for what life is like when you lose a parent.  Thankfully, God knew I needed many parent figures in my life and He gave me a Chuckles.  My godfather is so good at making the stranger a friend...and helping people belong.

Smell good man.
 I wont say his name here...because he is not the kind of man who needs praise and adoration.  He is a simple kind of man with a big love for his people.  He was the father of one of my dearest friends in high school...and when I was going through a particularly rough period during the summer of my senior year in high school, he loved me (and all of our friends) like we were his own. My parents were divorcing and it felt like quite a surprise to me and it also made me second guess everything about myself.  Divorce can do that.  In a period of time when I was quite the opposite of my typically easy going, lovable, outgoing self....this man looked at me and didn't see hurt....didn't see brokenness...didn't see the mistakes piling up....He saw sparkle.  He saw light.  He saw beauty and he (and his sweet wife) loved me through one of the hardest times in my life.  I was broken and I didn't want anything to do with anyone. And this precious man...who always smells of Brut cologne, just loved me right where I was.  To this day, every time I smell Brut cologne, I am filled with the sweetest memories of this man. When I see him and his sweet wife, I feel like I am transported back to my teenage years and right into the arms of this father-figure who walked through the valley with me.  I don't even know if he knows how much his presence has meant to me.  When my own father passed away earlier this year, it was so incredibly difficult.  But, this sweet man stood in the long visitation line just to come give me, one of his adopted (if not ragamuffin) children, a hug and to let her know that he cared. and that I was still sparkles!  Gosh, I wanna love others like that.

My sweet Brian has not been like a father to me personally...but he is like a father to our precious girls.  They don't refer to him as father or dad...they just call him Brian.  But, they know that Brian means a whole lot to them.  Brian is constantly going and working and they know that every thing he does, he does for them.  They love Brian.  He is kind and patient and personifies Christ's love.  I love that our girls have this example of a godly man.  I love that they see that you don't have to be loud and proud and a boss to be a godly man.  You can be kind and hard working and love God and others.  I love seeing Brian taking care of our girls.  He loves them so much.  He would do anything for them.  He would do anything to protect them.  He was born to be live out who he just be Brian to these girls of ours.  My buddy loves big and serves with his whole heart.  He reminds me so much of Matthew Cuthbert in Anne of Green Gables

Webster's dictionary has several definitions of father...but the one definition that stands out the most to me and is so much more than someone who shares genetics (and also defines these five men I have written about) is this:
father (noun)- someone who takes care of or protects someone or something.
All five of these men have done this for me and the people I love.  I am so thankful for fathers of all kinds.    Happy Father's Day!!!

"Everyone wants to feel secure and wanted.  We all want to belong.  He said He would not leave us as waifs on the street; He comes for us.  He never forgets the children whose names are written on the palm of His hand.  God makes us belong.  He is enough.  At every bend in the road, our father is waiting for us, reaching out His arms.  And we are orphans no more"   -Lorilee Craker

Daddy's Hands.

“And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven. Matthew 23:9
What is Jesus telling us when He says “call not man your father on earth?” We celebrate Father’s Day every year because Daddy’s are a special gift given to us by God. Jesus is not saying that we cannot call your Dad Daddy. No, you keep calling him Daddy.

But, Jesus is pointing us to an even greater special gift. You see, God created everything in the universe and God created you and your parents and brothers and sisters and me.  Whenever we repent of our sins and put our faith in Jesus Christ alone, we are adopted into Jesus’ family.
Do you know what that makes God to us? That makes Him our Daddy! This is what Jesus is saying when He says, “For you have one Father, who is in heaven.” When we are adopted through our faith into God’s family, He becomes a Daddy to us and we then get all of the benefits of being a child of God!


Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Summer Wednesday Hodge Podge

It's been a hot hot week here.  I don't know what it has been like where you are....but it has been stifling here.   Let's sit in the air conditioning and answer random questions about everything under the sun, k?  If you've played along today add your link at the end of Joyce's post. Be sure you leave a comment for the blogger linking before you because that's what good neighbors do. Here we go-

1. If you could sit beside and/or jump in any lake in the whole wide world today, which lake would you choose and why?

I am not a lake girl.  I do not like jumping into anything where I cannot see the bottom.  But...
...Lake Martin at Sunset is an awesome place to be.

2. What's your favorite 'fruity' drink?

That one is easy..... lemonade, especially Chik-fil-A's lemonade.  I also love Squirt when I can find it.

3. I read a list here of thirteen things to do right now to simplify your life. They were-

clean as you go, re-evaluate your relationships (cut toxic ties), unsubscribe (too many blogs and websites), de-clutter, write down your daily goals, reply to emails right away, forget multitasking, create a morning routine, re-evaluate your commitments (which hobbies and responsibilities are most important to you), say no, clean up your computer, and plan your day ahead  Which of the tasks listed do you currently find most helpful in keeping life simple? Which item on the list should you adopt in order to simplify your life this month? 

I do or have attempted most of the items on this list. The one thing I am planning to do this month is the daily goals one because I am working on CEU's this summer and that is one of the assignments.  

4. What did you do the summer after you graduated from high school?

I worked for Pat Hill Real Estate and loved it.  I also did some work for Yetta Oakes Antiques in Palm Beach.
 5. Are you a fan of podcasts? If so what's a favorite?
I am not a huge fan of podcasts, although my CEU class this summer deals with I see myself falling into the world of podcasts whether I want to or not!

6. Do you think today's fathers have it harder, easier, or just different than fathers in the past?  I am going to have to got with Joyce's answer of "Not harder or easier, just different. Every generation has it's challenges, expectations, and disappointments when it comes to parenting and I don't think that's any less true for today's fathers."  You all know I am as old as dirt.  I grew up with a June Cleaver mom....and lived in a much safer world.  Things are so much different now.
7. Tell us one way you're like your father? Or not at all like your father if that's easier?

I am a mix of both.  More and more I see my mother staring back at me when I look into the mirror.  I am a peace maker like my father was.  I love to tell a good story....just like my dad.  I have a strong desire to help people and would give them the shirt off my back....just like my dad.   I love Jesus....but so did both of my parents.  I sing....but so did both of my parents.  I look like a combination of both of them.  My hair is my dad' eye's are neither of them.  I have a small growth on the left side of my nose....just like my mom, grandmother, and great-grandmother.
8. Insert your own random thought here.  VBS is coming up at my church.  Our theme this year deals with planting seeds to grow God's word.  Debbie Pate is our director, she is a retired school teacher, and does the most amazing job.  Did you go to VBS as a child?  Did you love going?  I remember one summer when my children were little they were invited to every VBS around.  Seriously....they must have gone to at least 10 Baptist VBS's...because we had a lot of the same crafts.  Kat, my missionary daughter, told me after about the fifth one that "you just can't get enough Jesus."  I should have known she was going to be a missionary then.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Love Song Of A Savior

Today I am going to talk a bit about The Life of Jesus. Let’s read a simple but emotional story that is found only in Luke 7:36-50

This is a good Valentines story It’s got all the qualities of a great love story: passion, overcoming obstacles, standing up for the other, other people trying to interfere, forgiveness. It’s a great tale about great love, one for another. I like this letter I am about to read….it is not at all like our Bible passage today, it is a letter that a young man wrote to his girlfriend. It said, “Sweetheart, if this world was as hot as the Sahara desert, I would crawl on my knees through the burning sand to come to you. If the world would be like the Atlantic Ocean, I would swim through shark infested waters to come to you. I would fight the most fiercest dragon to be by your side. I will see you on Thursday if it does not rain.”
Ah, the stuff that love is made of. Well, let’s pick this story apart. Now, I don’t want to over-analyze it, because at its core it is a love story. But there are some elements I’d like to look at. So Jesus was invited out for lunch. A Pharisee named Simon asked if Jesus would like to eat at his place, and Jesus accepted. Now, it seems that news got out that Jesus would be eating at Simon’s house, and a sinful woman waited for Jesus to show up there.

There are similar stories in the other Gospels describing when Mary Magdalene anointed Jesus with oil. Catholic theology says this is the same story, at least the same woman. While the stories are similar, they have several notable differences too, enough to say that it’s nor fair to assume this sinful woman is Mary Magdalene. The text says “a certain woman”, apparently wanting not to name her, so we won’t either.
So at Simon’s house the woman cried on Jesus’ feet, wiped them off with her own hair, kissed them and poured expensive perfume on them. This all sounds very odd today but back then and there, since everyone wore sandals, cleaning someone else’s feet was a sign of respect and honor. It was customary.

But Simon did not react well to it all. In fact, he used it as proof that Jesus was not who people said he was: a prophet. He said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is – that she is a sinner.”
And Jesus, actually proving He was a prophet, responded to Simon’s unspoken thoughts. Jesus told a story of 2 people who owed their creditor some money. One owed a small amount, and the other owed 10 times as much. The creditor forgave them both of their debts. And Jesus asked who would be more thankful for it. Simon said that the one who owed more and was forgiven of more would love more. Which was exactly Jesus’ point. Jesus then connected it to Simon and the sinful woman and said that the woman showed Jesus much more love. He declared that her sins were forgiven and sent her off, much to the dismay of the other guests, likely Pharisees, who were annoyed at the whole thing.

Well, let’s look at the 2 people in the story besides Jesus. First, there was Simon the Pharisee. He had invited Jesus to his home but had not performed the customary foot washing. Even though Simon was the host, he really hadn’t treated his guest with much courtesy. Now, why would that be?
Well, it seems that maybe he was just trying to find an excuse to dismiss Jesus. Maybe he was looking for some reason that he did not have to listen to what Jesus was saying. Still the same today. If a person can find hypocrites, then they think that just throw out what the hypocrite is saying.

Simon was thinking something like this. OK – If Jesus were a prophet, he would know people’s character. And if Jesus knew this woman was a sinner, He would have nothing to do with her. Since Jesus has accepted this woman, He does not know her character. And since Jesus does not know this woman is a sinner, He cannot be a prophet. Therefore, since Jesus is not a prophet, I can reject Him. I can reject His message, and I can reject His ministry. Case closed.
People do that today. They say, “Well, obviously, Jesus would not go to dances…if he was a Baptist…. or Jesus would not go to the liquor store or Jesus would not be out and around where sinners are or Jesus would not vote Liberal or Jesus would not vote at all or Jesus would hate gays or Jesus would be against gay marriage or Jesus would leave liberal churches or…” Well, maybe some of that is true and maybe some of it isn’t, but the point is, we assume we know what Jesus would do. We quote scriptures backing our positions up. Well, I must say, Simon backed himself up with scriptures too. He would have been able to quote the passages that say that holy people should stay away from unholy things.

And what happens is that we make Jesus against the same things we’re against. We make Him in our own images. We call it looking more and more like Him, and really we make Him more and more like us.
Now, there was nothing wrong with Simon’s logic, but it was based on a faulty premise. He assumed that holiness was primarily a matter of separation. Holiness was achieved by keeping yourself separate from sin and from sinners. According to this view, Jesus would have to shun this sinful woman in order to remain holy. Simon concluded that either (1) Jesus didn’t know this woman’s character, or (2) that whether or not He knew about her sinfulness, He was physically contaminated by her, and thus could not be holy.

Well, like all bad theology, this view emphasizes one aspect of truth while ignoring others. This view emphasizes God’s holiness, and His high standards of what is good and right, but minimizes His compassion, and His love and concern for people, not just what they do to mess up their lives.
In fact, Jesus answers both views here. He says that 2 people owe the creditor. One is obviously the woman, and she owes more. But Simon is the other. He probably thought he didn’t owe anything. He probably thought he was doing pretty good anyway. He didn’t need forgiveness. He didn’t need to love this man. He and God were buddy-buddy. This man was clearly wrong, and he was clearly right.

But the truth is, he did owe something. He was not perfect, though his life was cleaner than the woman’s. He did not realize that he was a debtor as well. And the irony of the whole thing is this: the one with the more sins is the one who gets forgiveness. The woman was forgiven, but he was not.  You see, the woman may have been sinful but she was still seeking the Lord. She probably wasn’t a faithful Jew. She probably didn’t attend synagogue weekly. But she loved the Lord more than the not-so-sinful person did. Her actions were sinful but her heart was loving. Her actions and her heart did not line up, but it seems that’s OK with Jesus, because He saw her heart. The sinful one was more in touch with Jesus than the righteous one.

What’s more, the woman loved Jesus before she was forgiven by Him – v48. But, the previous verse seems to say that her sins were already forgiven – v47. Even before Jesus told her she was forgiven, before she heard the words, she was forgiven. Clearly, it’s impossible to decide if someone else is a Christian or not. Here was a sinful woman who had been forgiven by Jesus. Her reputation worked against her. Even her actions worked against her. But Jesus saw her heart, which no one else saw. And Jesus knew that was good enough. Again I say, it’s not up to you to decide if someone is a Christian or not. You can’t tell by church attendance or by political stripes or by reputation or even by actions. Only Jesus sees the heart, and that’s where it’s all decided.
So where does that leave us? What does this story mean for us? Well, Simon’s part tells us not to judge another person’s spiritual health by their actions. But the story isn’t really about Simon. It’s about the sinful woman and the love that she showed towards the Lord. This is a story about worship.

And the point is not, “Who’s been forgiven of more things?” The point is, “Who realizes all that they’ve been forgiven of?” It didn’t matter how good the woman was, compared to someone else. All that mattered is that she loved the Lord. She realized how little she deserved to be with the Lord, and she was just grateful for what she had. She loved much because she was forgiven much.
That’s what worship is. Worship is for sinful people. Jesus didn’t deny or minimize the fact that the woman was sinful. You don’t have to be perfect to come to church, which is the image believers have given off over the years. That is, you have to be living right if you want to be here. It’s not the image we want to project, but when someone else’s lifestyle disgusts us, it’s hard to hide it, and they see it.  But as Jesus said, when we are aware of our own sinfulness, and when we are also aware of His perfection, that’s when worship happens. When we know how little we deserve, and yet God is good to us anyway, that’s when worship happens.

You see, worship isn’t about us. It’s not about making us happy. It’s not about singing the songs we like. Worship is about Jesus. The woman was preoccupied with Jesus. She didn’t care that there were others there who looked down on her. She cared only about what her Lord thought about her. He didn’t care how many hypocrites were around – her worship was focused on Jesus.
And for her, worship is not about receiving something from God as much as it was giving something to Him. Jesus was approached by many people, most of whom wanted something from Him. I do not wish to minimize this or to condemn it. If I lived in Jesus’ day and were blind, I would want to come to Jesus for Him to restore my sight. But this woman’s worship was expressed by her giving to Jesus, not getting from Him. Too often, our prayers are like a wish list for Santa. Too seldom, our prayers are praise and adoration alone, without any request, where our only desire is to be in His presence.  So this morning I am telling us to be thankful for the Lord’s love. Be grateful to Him for allowing you to know Him. And love Him back. Sometimes it’s hard. There were reasons why this woman could have stayed away from Jesus and not worshipped Him. She wasn’t invited, she wasn’t wanted, she might be kicked out, she would be scorned, and there would be hypocrites there. But she worshipped Jesus anyway.

We should love Him. Honor Him. Respect Him. Obey Him. Spend time with Him. Get to know Him better. Remember all that we’ve been forgiven of. Don’t forget all His goodness to us. That will spur on our worship.