08 February 2013

The long silence

Wow, I just realized it's been a looooong time since I last posted. I always think about blogging, but I'm terrible at sitting down to the computer and just doing it. 

How about you? Do you struggle with doing the things you know you need to do? Does life just get in the way sometimes?

I can't complain too much, though, because I feel like I've got my priorities mostly right: Serve God, serve others, serve myself. Spend time nurturing my family and then share. I've spent a lot of time on a big project for church lately, and homeschooling is definitely both nurturing and time consuming. I miss blogging, though, so I will make a serious effort to blog about something at least twice per month this year. I'm already behind, aren't I? 

So, I will see you more this year. In the meantime, keep on faithfully walking Home.

31 July 2012

Quick FUN post

I subscribe to a daily craft deal from The Plaid Barn. To celebrate six months of deals, the Plaid Barn is giving away an Instafix instant camera! Check it out

29 June 2012

Set Apart

A really good friend and I were talking tonight about the phenomenon that is Magic Mike and 50 Shades of Gray. We are both apalled that anyone who calls themselves Christ-followers would seek out these as entertainments, and laughingly said that if you were going to do it, you surely shouldn't advertise on Facebook that you are doing it! :-)
The thing is, it's true that this movie and those books are extremely popular right now. But as Christ-followers, we have to remember that we are NOT to follow the crowd! The Bible tells us in Leviticus 20:26, "You must be holy because I, the LORD, am holy. I have set you apart from all other people to be my very own."
He has SET US APART...we aren't like the world...we are set apart from ALL other people. Furthermore, in Matthew 5: 27-30, we see that  “You have heard the commandment that says, ‘You must not commit adultery.’But I say, anyone who even looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart. So if your eye—even your good eye—causes you to lust, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your hand—even your stronger hand—causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell." 
Do you really think that because it is generally women who will be looking at, and lusting after, men that God's commandment is any less applicable? Do you really believe that a man lusting after a woman is adultery but a woman lusting after a man is OK? Of course it isn't!
Continuing this idea, we see in Matthew 18:16-20:  "Don’t you understand yet?” Jesus asked. “Anything you eat passes through the stomach and then goes into the sewer. But the words you speak come from the heart—that’s what defiles you. For from the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, all sexual immorality, theft, lying, and slander. These are what defile you. Eating with unwashed hands will never defile you.”
Can you imagine the frustration Jesus must have felt at His disciples? 'Come on, people! Don't you get it yet?? It isn't about the washing of the hands, guys! It's about the principle behind the washing of the hands!'
There's a pithy saying: GIGO - Garbage In, Garbage Out. It's true folks! You can't serve God and your own fleshly desires! If you put in the garbage that is contained in the movie and those books, I guarantee you that garbage is what will be coming out - in your thoughts, in your expectations, and maybe even in your words and deeds. 
We can not let our minds get any more polluted with the world. When something is a raging phenomenon in the world, especially, especially, especially when that raging phenomenon is the "hottest thing since..." we as Christ-followers should closely examine it against the standards Paul gave us in his letter to the Philippians: 
And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. (Phil 4:8)
I hope I don't have to further point out that letting your 12 or 13 year old daughter watch Magic Mike is akin to taking your 12 or 13 year old son to a strip joint. If you wouldn't do the latter, why in the world would you do the former???

Thanks for letting me rant a little, as I take just a few more steps toward Home...


all Scripture is from the New Living Translation of the Holy Bible, (c) 2007 by Tyndale House, and retrieved from Bible.cc
any emphasis in the Scripture text is mine, and is not meant to change the original intent of the Word of God, but just to point out my point. :-)

04 June 2012

Nonsense and sensibilities?

Somehow I missed the news that more than 100 civilians had been massacred in Syria recently. Perhaps it's because I don't really follow the news as carefully as I might. My husband, though, is really up on things...and he didn't know about it. Even today, more than a week later, there is little coverage except on CNN.com and news magazines like the New Yorker, and the CNN coverage is from the 27th of May. What does this have to do with me, today, in rural Georgia you ask? Why should we, half a world away, care?

We should care because it is evil. We should care because civilized society shouldn't include images like this or this. Yes, I posted links to the unedited, unvarnished photographs of children - babies even - dead. They have parts of their skulls exposed. Their brains are on coverlets behind their heads. One has no arm. One has a gaping wound that once was her head. It's ugly. It's brutal. It's infuriating. It's real.

Most news outlets won't show the photos. Martin Fletcher, writing for the London Times, says that not printing the photos lets the brutal Syrian army under the control of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad get away with the wickedness that they have perpetrated. He's right. Because of our delicate sensibilities, we conveniently ignore the gruesome reality of things we don't want to face. Because we cannot offend, we are blind to the injustice heaped upon the innocents of this world. We don't want to look. We don't want to know. We don't want to feel responsible.

I'm not supposed to be writing this tonight. No, in fact, I'm supposed to be praying right now. No kidding! My friends and I have embarked on a seven-month-long journey of purposeful living modeled after the journey documented in the recent book 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker. We are working together to shed our reliance on consumerism, to streamline our lives, to cut away excess, all in order to better serve our King. This month, our focus is on reducing stress, and one of the ways we are supposed to reduce our stress is to purposefully pause for prayer 7 times each day [Please visit our blog about this journey to learn more]. The prayer I am supposed to be praying right now is the prayer at bedtime - the Great Silence. In the Latin Hours, it is the hour of compline. It is supposed to be a prayer of rest, of contemplation, of trusting God for His protection through the night. Interestingly, it is also the time to bring to Him your personal sorrow, and I confess I feel a great sorrow on behalf of these murdered women and children. My prayer tonight is being poured out in this blog, as I pour out my heart to you, as I share what little insight I have gleaned from this horror.

It occurs to me that we are the murderers. Our sin is ugly. It is brutal. It is vile. It disgusts our Lord. In Habakkuk 1:13 [weird little book, close to the end of the Old Testament], the prophet Habakkuk says about God: "Your eyes are too pure to approve evil, and you cannot look on wickedness with favor..." The amazing thing is, God didn't cling to His sensibilities. He didn't ignore our sinful condition because it disgusted Him. He didn't avert His eyes so He wouldn't have to look at our ugliness. Romans 5:8 makes this abundantly clear: "But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." Did you get that? While we were still sinners! We were ugly! We were disgusting! I was repulsive - but Christ allowed Himself to be killed for me. He allowed Himself to be beaten, to be whipped, to be mocked, to be humiliated...all for me. Like the monsters in the service of  al-Assad, I killed the innocent, the noncombatant - Jesus. Like those men, I had no mercy. My sin was the sin that placed Him on the Cross, and my sin was the sin that held Him there. My sin...and yours.

Many in this world don't want to look at that Sacrifice. It offends their sensibilities. Like al-Assad and his sycophants, they deny their connection to it. It has nothing to do with me, they say. I am not responsible, they say. I live a good life, they say. They are the U.N. observers, just one town over. A few short miles...and an unbelieving, unrepenting heart away. The U.N. observers wring their hands and decry the injustice, but they do nothing. The unbeliever wrings his hands and declares that he (or she) wants to believe, wants to follow, but they do nothing.

I choose to believe. I choose to acknowledge the ugliness, the brutality, the depravity that is my sin. I choose to see the Sacrifice wrought for me. I gratefully accept the gift of His all-encompassing grace that tells me that my involvement in the massacre is forgiven. I bow on my knees and cry to the Lord God that He protect me through the night...and that He break me of my complacency, of my disregard, of my ignorance of the evil in this world. His hands hold my sorrow tonight. It is a sorrow borne out of a deep sense of displacement. I want to be Home, where innocent children are not slaughtered in their sleep for the crime of being. I want to sit in my Father's lap, and have Him tell me there isn't going to be any more sorrow, that pain is gone forever. I want Him to wipe away my tears. 

For now, though, I will open my eyes to evil. I will acknowledge it. I will not let it escape punishment because my sensibilities are too delicate to bear it. I will add my voice to the cry that resounds throughout the world: I will not tolerate evil. I will no longer turn my head from pain. I will, instead, fight for the ones who can't fight, love the ones who don't love me back, speak for those who can't speak, and know that at the end of my day, I have done it all in His name for His children.


All scripture quoted from the New American Standard Bible, (c) 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. 

15 May 2012

Miracles Do Happen, part 2

Warning: a graphic description of abortion is contained in this post. I do NOT recommend that children under the age of 13 read this.

They delivered our son at a few minutes before 1 a.m. on March 30, 2003. The moment I heard his cry, peace washed over my wounded spirit like a soothing river. It was if, at that moment, God swept me up in His arms and I knew - I KNEW - that everything would be alright.

As tiny as he was, they whisked him away to the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit), where he would spend the next three months, 2 weeks of his life. I was still a pretty sick mommy, so off I went to the ICU myself. 

Honestly, my memories of those first few days of his life are hazy. The day of his birth, I was in the ICU, being given morphine for pain. I woke up, thinking it had been just hours and hours, and I was crying, begging for Mr. T. to come in to the room. The nurse told me he had gone home to shower and rest, and I was satisfied with that explanation, so I let myself go back to sleep. The next time I awoke, I asked again for him to come in, and they said it had only been ten minutes or so. I could hardly believe it, but I said okay and went back to sleep. I did this for about 3 hours. I must have asked 20 or 30 times if he was back yet! I know the nurses were tired of me asking, but they were so patient with me. After he did come back, I talked with him in my exceedingly drugged-out state and told him I just felt terribly sick and could he please fix it. I know he was thinking how silly I was: here I am in a hospital and asking him, my non-medical hubbs, to fix it! The doctor did come in to check on me, and he thought it might be the morphine making me sick. Yep, that was it! The change from morphine to a non-narcotic pain reliever did the trick and I no longer felt like I was in Wonderland. 

I stayed in the ICU for 3 days before I was sent up to the post-partum unit. It was time for me to see my wonderful miracle baby for the first time. I had already been given his birth statistics.

Weight: 485 grams [17 ounces = one pound, one ounce]

Length: 28.5 cm [11.22 inches]

Apgar scores:  1 minute = 9; 5 minute = 10

Seeing those statistics in no way prepared me for the reality of having a one pound baby. His length was almost exactly the same length as a Ken doll. He was so small we could cover his entire body with one hand. His skin was so frail I could see almost all of his blood vessels. The first time I saw him, he was 4 days old. He had an IV line secured using gauze and an "arm board." It was a finger splint, I think - it was longer than his whole arm and hand, by at least an inch. He had a CPAP machine supporting his breathing. The mask was actually too big for his face, so he had a nasal cannula. The smallest cannula they had was too big. He had on the tiniest, thinnest little diaper I have ever seen. They are actually smaller than the diapers for Baby Alive, if you've seen those. It was too big.

Despite all this, he was the most beautifully formed, perfectly proportioned baby. God knows what He is doing, friends. At the time my son was born, a woman in Georgia had the right to abort a child exactly his gestational age (the limit was 24 weeks; he was born at 23 weeks 5 days; in 2012 the Georgia legislature passed a bill placing strict limits on abortion beyond 20 weeks). A child in one operating room given all possible life support and specialized care. A child in another room brutally ripped apart as he is vacuumed from his mother's womb. TELL ME THE DIFFERENCE! Tell me. Convince me that beautiful soul was NOT A BABY - not alive. Not "real" yet. You cannot. David described it so perfectly: 

You alone created my inner being. You knitted me together inside my mother. I will give thanks to You because I have been so amazingly and miraculously made. Your works are miraculous, and my soul is fully aware of this. My bones were not hidden from you when I was being made is secret, when I was being skillfully woven in an underground workshop. Your eyes saw me when I was only a fetus. Every day [of my life] was recorded in Your book before even one of them had taken place* 

Even the prophet Jeremiah tell us that the Word of God told him, "Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you. Before you were born, I set you apart for MY holy purpose**." Do you see this? God MADE us, every one of us. He knew us before anyone else. He knows every day of my life. How on earth can you justify the destruction of something so lovingly and attentively created by God? He, the Creator of the universe, lovingly created ME. He lovingly created you. Every life is precious to Him.

[As you can see, this is a particularly emotional and important topic to me]

I've gone on too long. More of Jay's journey in the NICU, and the strange and awful feeling of leaving the hospital while your baby stays will be addressed in Miracles Do Happen, part 3.

Scripture taken from God's Word translation of the Holy Bible. Any emphasis is mine.
*Psalm 139:13-16
**Jeremiah 1:5a

22 March 2012

How to Live a Mediocre Life

It is so nice to read the blogs of Christian women who are dedicated to serving the King. One such blog is Emily Freeman's Chatting at the Sky. Her latest post includes a set of "rules" for creating mediocre art that I think are perfect instructions for Living a Mediocre Life. 

In order to live a mediocre life, you should

  • preach*
  • make love to fear
  • apologize a lot
  • try to measure your impact
  • compare yourself
  • fear the success of others
  • stay comfortable
  • have imaginary conversations with your critics
  • hold on to regret
  • wait until tomorrow
  • demand appreciation
  • be easily offended
  • do it right
  • and whatever you do, don't take a risk
The problem with this is that Christ did not come to Earth so that we could live in mediocrity! No! He said, "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly." (John 10:10, NASB). The New Living Translation says this:  "My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life" (emphasis mine). The thief - the destroyer - SATAN - is only there to take away. How much do we let him take away by following these rules of mediocrity?

Sin is disobedience to God, but I think we sometimes forget that the reassuring commandments in His Word are commandments! He says to us, "Do not fear, for I am with you" more times than ANY other commandment. Just a few places this is found: Isaiah 41:10; Jeremiah 46:28; Isaiah 43:5. Look at the fear a mediocre life requires: fear of failure, fear that you aren't making an impact, fear that you aren't appreciated, fear of risk. This is a life PARALYZED by fear. ONE HUNDRED and THIRTEEN times the Bible COMMANDS us to lose that fear.

Don't settle for a mediocre life. Do what you do without looking around at others - they are doing what they do. God has given us all gifts; don't question His judgment! Celebrate the successes of those around you, and offer encouragement to those who haven't succeeded. Step out of the familiar into the scary - God is right there waiting to hold your hand in the dark. Let Him guide you into a glorious and satisfying life!

In the Jackson, Georgia area? Visit my church - it's Awesome!

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Emily's original post featuring the 14 Ways to Make Mediocre Art

*by preach I certainly do not mean the kind of helpful teaching that I hope your pastor delivers every time he steps into the pulpit. [If he doesn't, come and listen to our Pastor Lane. He's awesome!] I mean the preachiness that takes a genuine observation and turns it into an offering of bitter bread...the preachiness that ignores my problems and my fears so that I can "help" you overcome... whatever. It's just another way to ignore the real issue - that you are afraid to take that close look at your own life and see where you really need to make changes.

06 February 2012

Miracles Do Happen

I've been asked to share the story of my miracle boy. I hope this story inspires you, and makes you think.

In 2002, I was 31 years old, and had been married to Mr. Think for about 6 years. We had tried for a baby, but it hadn't fit into God's plan yet. When I got the flu around the beginning of November, I thought nothing of it. It was a nagging flu, though - I couldn't shake it. When the new year rolled around and I still had the stinking flu, I finally went to the doctor. Surprise - it isn't the flu! LOL. We confirmed conception the day after Valentine's day 2003. We were excited and nervous, like any first time parent would be, right?
For a few weeks, life was actually beginning to feel good. I knew why I was so tired and sick feeling, and was able to eat properly and get plenty of rest. Add that to the fact that I was nearing 6 months already, it was time for that sick feeling to go! We went to two routine appointments, and showed up for our 23 week appointment on Mr. T's birthday, March 24. The doctor examined me, and asked me to lie down in a dark room for a few minutes. I didn't know what for, but I tried to lie down and relax. After about half an hour, he came and took my blood pressure again. He ended up sending us up to the hospital "just as a precaution" right then. We went home and packed a few things and drove up to Piedmont Hospital in downtown Atlanta.
Once I was examined in the women's unit at Piedmont, they went ahead and admitted me. The next week was one of extreme boredom - I slept most of the time because I was dead bored. I was also very, very ready to come home. The doctors had told us I was suffering from pre-eclampsia, but that in many cases it could be managed from home. Eager to return home, I did what they told me to do, so I would be released as soon as possible. 
Saturday morning I woke up with awful heartburn. Since consistently one of the things I'd suffered with my pregnancy was heartburn, I really thought nothing of it. I asked the nurses for some Tums. Well, the day wore on and so did my indigestion. I was beginning to get frustrated with the nurses who would not give me any Tums. I even begged my mom to go get me some Alka Seltzer tablets. 
My doctor finally was able to see me at about 6 p.m. on Saturday. He examined me and ordered more tests. Several times over the next few hours the nurses would come in and take blood and vitals. I was getting quite worried, because no one would tell us what was going on, and it was obvious that something was going on.
At about 10 p.m., my obstetrician and another doctor came in the room. They explained to me that I was experiencing something called HELLP syndrome. I'd never heard of it. They explained it briefly and said it meant that I absolutely had to deliver the baby right away - I was literally dying. They explained to me and Mr. T all of the horrible consequences for a baby born at 23 weeks 5 days gestation. Honestly, I was at the point where I didn't care anymore. I was terrified, felt awful, and was just sure my baby was going to die. Mr. T & I signed the surgical authorization papers for a c-section and I just felt numb. The neonatal specialist asked me, "If the baby is born alive, do you want us to work on it?" What could I say? OF COURSE!!!
My mom had visited me that day, and had already left for home. Mr. T. called her, and she came rushing back to Piedmont. My dad and his wife were there visiting as well. Just before I was wheeled into surgery, my mom said to me, "Remember, Cassie, Sometimes He comes in the clouds." That wonderful song by Stephen Curtis Chapman filled my heart and I grasped that hope tightly. Mr. T. left me to gown up, and I went into the surgery room alone. I was given an epidural and then I lay on the bed awaiting the surgeons. I remember I was FREEZING! I was begging for a blanket! 
I was finally ready for surgery. Mr. T. had come in, and I held his hand in a death-grip. He whispered to me that the room was FULL of doctors and nurses ready to assist with the baby.
They delivered our son at a few minutes before 1 a.m. on March 30, 2003. The moment I heard his cry, peace washed over my wounded spirit like a soothing river. It was if, at that moment, God swept me up in His arms and I knew - I KNEW - that everything would be alright.
Too emotional for me. I have to take a break.
to be continued in Miracles Do Happen, part 2.