My Mess…

Don’t worry… I’m not going to spill the details of the messiness of my life right here right now; though it’s tempting to do so and just get it all out of my head and my heart.

I’ve shared my heartache of the weekend with my mom and my best friend and for now, that’s all who need to know.

BUT, I will share that I just posted this on Facebook:

Sitting here in tears over this post…
Jesus knows what parts of my life I consider to be a “mess”, but without HIM those messy parts would never be redeemed.

I’m struggling today, friends. Focused on my mess and wishing the Messiah would just take it away or make it perfectly whole in Him.
But I know that he IS the Great Redeemer and every messy part of my life will one day be redeemed through his love, his grace, his perfection.
I just have to put my trust in him…
“I believe; help my unbelief.” Mark 9:24

Here is the post to which I’m referring…

4/15/17

Today’s quote:

Without the Messiah, life’s just a mess!

TRUTH

These words immediately came to mind.

Jesus Messiah
Name above all names
Blessed Redeemer
Emmanuel
The rescue for sinners
The ransom from heaven
Jesus
Messiah
Lord of all

What an absolutely beautiful praise chorus.
I remember it well.

Messiah occurs only twice in the NIV.

John 1:41,42a:
The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, “We have found the Messiah” (that is, the Christ).
And he brought him to Jesus.

I love Andrew.
He was always bringing people to Jesus.
His brother Peter.
The little boy with the loaves and fishes.
The Greeks who were seeking Jesus.

What is the point of Christmas and Easter, if we are not bringing people to Jesus, the Messiah?
What is the point of every day, if we are not helping people find the Messiah?

Maybe that is why we have the quote.

Without the Messiah, life is a mess.

Maybe that is why the world is in such a mess.
Maybe the world is in such a mess because we have not told the world about the Messiah.

John 4:1-26
Jesus Talks With a Samaritan Woman
Verse 25,26:
The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”
Then Jesus declared, “I who speak to you am he.”

Shiver me timbers!

John 4: 39-42
Many Samaritans Believe
Verse 39:
Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.”

If you have read the story then you know what Jesus told her about everything she had done.
What a powerful testimony she had, for the Messiah, in that village.
Her life was a mess.
They knew it was a mess.
Jesus knew it was a mess.

Just like he knows about my mess.
Just like he knows about your mess.

Without the Messiah, life’s just a mess.

I could not possibly say it any better than that.

That’s my dad’s Facebook devotion on his church’s Facebook page.
https://www.facebook.com/groups/133021133399648/

For years I’ve given my dad a church sign daily calendar.  2017’s came from my mom, but for the same purpose.  Daddy shares what the church sign for the day is, then types a devotion off of that.

This weekend, another layer of a major mess in my life was laid bare and I’m struggling to move past it.  But this post reminded me that my mess will be redeemed through my Messiah.

I hope you made time for Jesus this weekend and didn’t just focus on Egg Hunts and Bunnies that deliver baskets.  Because there would be no Easter had Jesus not died for our sins and rose again to conquer death and Satan.
If you do not have a church “home”, let me tell you about mine some time.  If you’re local to Richmond or just passing through I’d love to have you come sit and worship by me.

Hallelujah! What a Savior!

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Image Vs. Substance

In Mark Batterson’s book In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day, he says, “Saul was all about image, but David was all about substance.”  He’s referring to the fact that David danced when the Ark of the Covenant entered Jerusalem while Michal, Saul’s daughter, felt contempt for him (Bible: 2 Samuel 6).  Batterson goes on to explain that Michal was the daughter of a man who was “kingly” where David didn’t worry about looking regal as he celebrated his excitement about God.

This comparison between Saul and David struck a chord deep within me.

I have someone extremely close to me who accuses me of projecting a certain image even when it isn’t the truth.  To tell the truth, I strive very hard NOT to do this, though some Sundays my smile might be strained as I fight against Satan’s desire to make me crumble under my past bad decisions.

I asked on Facebook recently if I was a complainer.  The answer ran the gamut as I expected since different people know me from different times or for different lengths of time.
But one answer made me feel good – that I was real.  I strive to be real.  It helps that I’m a preacher’s kid whose life has been told from the pulpit for the last 35 years.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been used as an illustration in a sermon because I lost count years ago.
Honestly, it’s only bothered me a few times.  It made me live a transparent life and I believe that is something that God has called me to.

I’m not a natural parent – I’ve covered this before.  I don’t need anyone jumping to convince me otherwise.  Just this morning, I came home from the bus stop to Jeff and Joe playing Sequence for Kids.  Jeff needed to go to work, so he tagged me in.  This was SO HARD for me and he laughed many times as he finished getting ready and listened to me trying to teach Joe the rules of the game.  I do not “play” with kids easily.  I love kids and can teach them with no problem – I’ve gotten some wonderful words of encouragement and love from my preschool students from last year and this year.  I can read books and teach Bible lessons and push swings, but I don’t PLAY well with kids.  I don’t imagine easily or enjoy being outside all that much.  I do love reading to my kids and watching movies with them.  I do my best, but I’m not the most natural at this game.
I’m not a fantastic wife… Catch Jeff in a moment he’s willing to be honest about me.
I am not cuddly.  I am barely affectionate. I am snippy. I am tired. I am consistently overwhelmed, yet can’t show a good reason why.  I’m not a very good housekeeper, so it isn’t chores that are wearing me out.
I love to sit and read side by side or watch movies (though I rarely want to watch something he’s picked and tend to whine about it).  I love to go places and travel and really love to experience things with him.
But I don’t fill the role of wife the way I thought I would OR how I promised to him I would.

I’m a Christian, but I’m not great at recruiting others…
Just this afternoon I came home to find rescue vehicles outside my house for the neighbor across the street.  Based on the number of vehicles and actual police cars, I deduced that this was not going to end with them reviving him from a diabetic episode.  His wife arrived and her sister-in-law rushed to meet her as they dissolved into tears.
He’s gone and all I can think is that I’m not sure I ever shared Jesus with him.  And will I be able to share Jesus with his wife as I tell her I’m sorry for her loss and take food and try to meet needs that might be there.
We’ve lived across the street from each other for ages.  They used to see the church van parked here.  There is no doubt that they know my family was a Christian family.  They might even know so much as the fact that my daddy is a preacher.  But never once have I asked them to come to church with me.  Why not?

I’ll be asking her how I can meet her needs.  I think our church as a grief group – I’m going to check and give her information if so.  I need to not just tell her I’m praying for her, but to actively talk about my faith with my neighbors – the people that I meet when I’m walking down the street.  I see these people every day and while I’m sure they’ve seen the PRAY stickers on my car, I need to be sure I witness.

As a young high schooler, we watched a movie at camp about teens who died in a car accident.  They were standing outside of Heaven’s gate and one of the teens who was going to Hell asked a teen who was (potentially) going to Heaven why she had never told him what he was missing out on.  It scared me out of my mind, but not enough to carry that fear for others…
My friends know I’m a Christian.  Heck, this political season has brought that out more than any other time in my life.  I’ve spoken my beliefs in many ways on social media – not wanting to judge anyone, but not wanting anyone to perish… but I don’t think I’ve mentioned Jesus to my own neighbors.

I don’t want to project an IMAGE.
I want to project the SUBSTANCE of God in Me.

What about you?  Do you follow Christ?  What about when it means you don’t agree with your friends or connections on social media?  What about when it makes you unpopular or brings about ridicule?
Don’t get me wrong – I believe that we should love all people – whether we agree with them or not – but are you sharing with those you love what the Bible says?  You can do that in love.  They don’t have to agree or even walk away from what the Bible says is sin.
We all know that every person who shares Biblical views is a hypocrite because we ALL SIN…
But are you projecting the SUBSTANCE of God in YOU???
Am I???

I want to conform to Christ instead of this World.  Pray for me, will ya?
Pray that I will be more worried about the substance of my life – to my husband, to my children, to my family, to my friends and to total strangers – than the image.

The road to Heaven in narrow and I want the line to get in to be long and full of people who have seen God’s evidence alive in me.

Sorry for the ramble today… pretty sure this was all over the place, but it was too much in my head and I needed to get it out.

Please pray for Joan Bailey.  She’s the wife of the man across the street who passed away this morning. Pray that I’ll be able to meet needs for her and that I’ll find a way to share the love of God in her grief.

Thanks, friends.

And for those of you who love me enough to read my thoughts even when you don’t agree with them – if you’re local to Richmond and want to come check out the church I attend, TELL ME!  I’ll give you directions and details.
If you’re not local to Richmond – I’ll help you find a church where you are.

2 Peter 3:9
The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

My heart is heavy…

Friends, I’m sorry that it has been three weeks (and a day)… I was really on a roll there for a few, right?

I think that lately, I have just had too much on my mind.

Judgement of others’ sins has been weighing heavily on me… and I’m trying to be sure I’m walking the path God would have me walk.  A path that doesn’t mean I sit back and say nothing to a friend who is sinning because I do not want to be judgmental, but that does call me to judge for myself when to speak and when to be silent.

Personal reflection (feel free to laugh at me)…
When I was in middle school and also in my freshman year of high school it drove me CRAZY that the teens older than me at church always missed Sunday morning following their prom.  Yes, I was aware that prom usually lasted until 11:00 and that following prom was the PTA sponsored “Party All Night” that lasted until 4:00 a.m.  BUT, that put you getting home by 4:30 a.m. and if you went straight to bed, you could sleep at least four hours (depending on how close you lived to the church) and be at church in time for Sunday School at 10:00 a.m. or at the very least, be in the pew by 11:00 a.m. for church.

I never said this to any of those teens, but I ranted and raved about it at home to my mother… didn’t those teens know how important church attendance was?  Didn’t they know that if you missed church Sunday morning and Jesus returned Sunday afternoon you were going STRAIGHT TO HELL????

Well, I got to go to my first prom my sophomore year of high school.  (And Hello!  I was MADE to go to prom… I ended up attending 6(?) proms in five years.)  My date was a friend named Michael – a friend who adored me and who would’ve made a great husband some day, but I totally didn’t see that even though my mom kept insisting upon it.  We went to dinner with a huge group (10 of us) at Tobacco Company West – no longer in existence – because I loved steak and Michael convinced the other four guys to take their girls where I wanted to go.  When I couldn’t pick one dessert, he bought me FIVE so that I could taste them all.
GIRLS: IF YOU EVER GO ON A DATE WITH A GUY WHO TREATS YOU LIKE THIS…expecting nothing in return…THEN MARRY HIM THE NEXT DAY AND NEVER LET HIM GO.
We went to prom and danced and danced and danced…
Then we went to Party All Night and stayed there until 4:00 a.m.
THEN, we went to a friend’s house where we hung out until Dunkin Donuts opened at 5 or 5:30 so that we could go to Dunkin’ for breakfast together.

I dragged my butt home at 6:00 a.m. with four hours to go until Sunday School started.
I laid down to take a nap and mom woke me up when she left for church at 9:30 and told me to get my tail up and get ready.  I was in a pew at 11:00 a.m. that morning and totally understood why the teens older than me missed church the day after prom.
Note: My mom did not wake me up because I asked her to… she knew I’d beat myself up for being a hypocrite if she didn’t make sure I got up and ready for church.  I’m pretty sure she would’ve just let me sleep…
I was determined that since I was going to be judged by the ruler I used to judge others, I was going to be sure I came out on the good side.  At least for that year.

Turned out that God loved me enough to allow me a reason to be in church the next morning following all but one prom that I attended… each year something happened that meant that I was home by 1:00 a.m. with plenty of time to sleep before church… a car accident two days prior, a bad decision for prom date, being too old to party with the teens (I went as a favor to a friend of my brother’s when I was 20.  He was a senior without a date to prom and there isn’t much worse than that in high school).
Funny how God works sometimes, right?

What is really funny is that one of the areas that I still find myself being the most judgmental in is church attendance.  And it isn’t because I was expected to be in church whenever the doors were open (which I was – that meant at least one morning and two nights a week, I was in church growing up).

Church – as in corporate worship – is very renewing for me.  I look forward to Sundays with such anticipation….  Most of my closest friendships throughout my life were rooted in church.  Yes, some of those people broke my heart in very dramatic fashion, but my church family is what really got me through it.

My decision to leave my “home” church in December was one of the hardest decisions of my life.  It was far more painful than having my heart broken at 19 by a boy I knew I was destined to marry… (I still deal with bitterness about this… it was that painful).  It was far more painful than my divorce at 21.  Leaving my church was more painful than the heartbreak two years ago that started the whole ball in motion in the first place.

When I decided to leave my church, I sought advice from my only youth minister growing up.  Do you know one of the things he said to me?  The first piece of advice from him was “Don’t give up on church.”  Whoa, buddy, no chance of that!  CHURCH is where I have found the most love, the least judgement, the most support throughout my life.
The rest of that first piece of advice was “to find somewhere to chill for a while and then get slowing involved”.  If you know me well, then you know that his advice was a reference to the fact that for just over 18 months, I was extremely over-committed at church.  Some of that came out of guilt… If I didn’t do that “job”, then who would.  Some of that came out of actual servanthood.  But when you get hurt by people you love and trust in the church, you do need to take a step back and be fed for a while.

And am I getting fed where I currently am???  Yes, very much so.

But that is not why my heart is heavy.

Through the course of the last two years, I’ve seen such pain being caused BY Christians.
I know this is nothing new, but my blinders came off two years ago and what I saw broke my heart.
I’m still sorting through the effect it had on me.

Recently, a Christian friend was judged so painfully that it has really broken my heart again.
The first time she went through judgement for her sin, it was judgement in the church and in the legal system.  I found out about her sin/crime by seeing her face on the 11:00 news while out bowling with friends.  I left the bowling alley immediately and went home to wake my daddy.  I knew she would need him right then, right there.
My friend served and is STILL SERVING time within the legal system for the crime she committed.
However, her legal restrictions do not apply to church attendance or volunteering within the church.

Fellow Christians recently went after her for attending an area-wide youth event with her own child.  She was not breaking any law by doing so.  She was not coming close to breaking any law by taking her own child to this activity.
BUT because two people who saw her there knew of her past and her crime, they decided to go after her in a public forum.  No, her face is not being shown to the public as it was when her sin was first committed… but they have talked to many people about her past and about the need to bar her from being present at that type of activity – EVEN THOUGH IT IS NOT AGAINST THE LAW FOR HER TO BE THERE.

The Separation of Church and State makes me laugh – literally!
And it is the view of “the church” that gets me laughing…
We in the corporate body of church, meeting in a building called the church, do not want the government to interfere with us in any way, shape or form, yet Christians get money they “donate” to the church back in a tax return.
We don’t want the government to tell us what we can and can’t do… unless we are being bullied by someone else and then we want government protection.
And please do not jump down my throat right now about how Christians are consistently being bullied right now – I totally agree with that.  I am expected to respect any person’s religious beliefs, but mine are not “politically correct” enough to be respected.  I feel that deeply but that isn’t my point.
We don’t want the government to tell us who can/can’t work for our church (does your church have a homosexual on staff?) BUT if we want to invoke government-imposed limits to those within our congregation, we do.

Tell you what – I am not against churches/church camps doing background checks on their volunteers.  Bring me the form, I’ll sign it now (I fill one out every single year to work at Oak Hill and, eventually, I will fill one out at Fairmount so that I’m able to volunteer there).

BUT, if you are going to CREATE legal limits to attendance at an area-wide event, you’d better be background checking every single person over the age of 18 that walks through the doors.

This is a message to the Student Ministries of Virginia… 
I served on your board for several years.  I was bullied on a regular basis because I was a woman with a voice and an opinion.  When I stepped down from the youth ministry I was running, I stepped down off your board and you didn’t have to hear the “battle ax” any longer.  Well, I’m back…
Just because one of your members knows the personal past of one adult in a sea of many, it doesn’t give you the right to move against that ONE person… especially if that person was NOT breaking ANY law set forth by the government.
You’d better cross your t’s and dot your i’s…
Are you background checking every member of every band that walks in the door?
Are you background checking the college kids in attendance representing their schools?
Are you requiring that every church that attends runs background checks on every adult they send as a chaperone?  (Because, while it has become the “norm” in the past five years, there are churches that aren’t requiring them yet.)
If an adult walks in with their child -not affiliated or registered with any church in attendance- will you have your background check form read for them to fill out at the door?

HEAR ME CLEARLY FRIENDS – I AM NOT SAYING THAT AS CHRISTIANS WE AREN’T CALLED TO BE CAUTIOUS AND TO USE GOOD JUDGEMENT (especially when it comes to our children), BUT WE NEED TO BE VERY CAREFUL ABOUT WHEN AND AGAINST WHOM WE DECIDE TO EXERCISE OUR JUDGEMENT.  And how many people need to be involved in our pointing out of the flaw.  What happened to going to a brother or sister face to face first?  Is going public with another Christian’s error now the way we’re supposed to do it?
CHRISTIANS TEND TO GET COMFORTABLE UP IN OUR HIGH IVORY TOWERS OF FOLLOWING JESUS….

In the fall of 1996 when I entered Roanoke Bible College as a freshman, Bill Griffin told us something I will NEVER forget.  He said that we needed to be ON THE ALERT for Satan…
He said that we needed to be very careful about feeling “safe” because we were on a Bible College campus.  He asked us where we thought Satan was the hardest at work… out in “the world” or in a place full of people professing God’s name and calling themselves “Christ followers”.  Let me tell you, the MOMENT we let our guard down and start to feel safe enough to pass judgement on others, Satan is going to come after us with everything in his arsenal.

That girl I talked about at the beginning of this post – the one who sat in judgement of teens who missed church after prom… well, she still lives inside of me and I work HARD to keep her in check.
I struggle every day with how best to share the loving side of God without forgetting to share the HOLY side of God, too.  But I’m working on it.

There is such a thing as “righteous judgement”, but that isn’t judgement coming from any human being.
Righteous judgement comes from GOD and GOD ALONE.

We, as Christians, are called to a three part mission: (1) To love the Lord our God with our heart, our soul, and our mind (Deuteronomy 6:5, Matthew 22:37); (2) that we are to love our neighbors as ourselves (Matthew 22:39); and (3) that we are to “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”(Matthew 28:19-20, NIV).


I pray daily for the strength to live up to this mission of loving the world unto Christ.
It is a big job, but it is my *only* job as a Christ-follower.


If I am going to stand in judgement of anyone – a criminal, a liar, a cheater, a gossip, a God-hater, one who is disobedient, a homosexual, the senseless, the faithless, the heartless, the proud – than I’d better be sure that GOD has my back.. and that I’m not just trying to BE GOD.

Father, watch over me today… watch over my steps and help me walk where you lead me.
Watch over my family… keep them faithful to YOU.
Lord, keep me in line so that I don’t start to believe that I “represent” you… so that I don’t believe that I AM you.  Thank you for your forgiveness… for your grace… for your mercy.
Let me be the person who personifies your love and leaves you to judge.
Help me see that if I bring a friend to love YOU, YOU will bring to light the sins in their life that need addressing.  In the moment I feel that you are prodding me to address a sin in a friend’s life, let me be sure to pray first and be sure it is YOU prodding me and not pride… then give me the words to go about talking to them using Your Word as a guide and not just the world’s guidelines.
The more I learn about you, Father, the more deeply I love you.
Lead me where you would have me go and give me the strength and courage to follow.
In your son’s saving name, Amen.

Let’s Try This Again

I long to be a good blogger.  I want to sit here everyday and open a window (not a door, though) into my mind and my life and share it with others.

Why don’t I?  Because it takes time and dedication.  Most days, those things are cherished gifts.

Most afternoons (Mon-Fri) you will find me sitting here at my desk and on a computer, but I spend a lot of that time working on church related stuff.  I love being the AV/Techie person at church, but after working on that, updating my facebook, and then reading the blogs of all the other “good bloggers” that I follow I find that I haven’t taken time to update my own blog.  Awful of me…right?

Oh well… I’ve decided to re-dedicate myself to my blog even if that means I play Mahjong Titans a bit less (seriously, I can veg on that for a good long while).

This week has been an interesting one…
Sunday was a beautiful day… it started off early with me playing a VBS recruiting video in our first service, then whisking the computer off to praise team practice.  Sunday School followed that…
Then the 11:00 service.  We were singing one of my favorite songs this week called Distracted.  This is a song that I, myself, brought to our group.  Of course, I brought it on the day that a friend was subbing for our regular guitarist (who is a LEGEND in the Richmond Area: Danny Hughes).  My friend KNOWS Distracted – as in plays and sings it without music and without hesitation.  I am not that comfortable with the song and neither is the group.  Well…our discomfort showed when we false-stared it TWICE…during the service…with visitors in the audience.  So embarrassing!!!

Sunday night The Bean got sick after showing no evidence of it coming.  That led to a sleepless night for me.  She didn’t get sick again, but I jumped up to check on her with every noise she made.  Fun.
Monday brought more sickness (of the opposite end) from El, but only for four hours.

Tuesday was a nice day.  We got together with some friends after Ella had been “sick-free” for more than 24 hours.  They were willing to take the risk of exposure and (thankfully) no one in their clan got sick.

Wednesday we chilled at home and cleaned, cleaned, cleaned.  We even washed the dog.  She was NOT happy…
But I was happy and the house smelled better so that is what counted.  On a side note- Maggie turned 11 years old on Monday!!!  She was my first “baby”.
Wednesday night I went to church to facilitate a Bible Study (loving leading…a new experience for me!  Will have to write about that tomorrow, maybe.)  While enjoying conversation in our small group about the book of Revelation, I got a text from Jeff that El’s dinner didn’t stay down.  Huh?
Anyway – still no fever or any other sign of illness and this time no “other” sick stuff.  I did sleep better last night.
Today brought running errands this morning and then heading to church to run the bulletin.  One of those errands was picking up toner for the big printer/copier at church only to find out once there that we didn’t need toner…we needed a new imaging unit.  So, we’ll be back at church tomorrow to print the bulletin and such.  Not like we could meet friends to play – not sure what is up with The Bean and whatever the “illness” is.
Even with all that – I still Love My Life that I’m living.  (hence the new blog title)
We Love OUR Life because the life I blog about isn’t just mine.  First, it is God’s and He is just letting me live it.  I’m going to start doing my best just for that reason.  Second, since Ella gets mentioned a lot I figure it is her life too.
I’m toying with paying the $10 to make my blog have its own site instead of having the .blogspot part.  Trying to come up with a good permanent name (that isn’t evieloucronin).
So there you have it… it is Thursday afternoon and I just realized I never ate lunch.  Why do I do that?  So busy feeding The Bean I forget to feed myself…
Oh – just because the pics are too cute not to share.  We had BEAUTIFUL weather in Richmond on Friday.  It beckoned us to Maymont to see the animals and enjoy the sun.  We met Amy & Jackson and Melissa, Skyler, & Emerson there.  Here are some pics:
Ella & Skyler watching the fox

Skyler, Jackson, & Ella in the eagle’s nest

Ella stealing love from Amy during lunch
Okay…here’s to me being a better blogger!

TODAY is BEAUTIFUL!!!

Okay, so I’m over my bellyaching and have wrapped up my pity party.  I’ve put on my big girl panties and I’m dealing with the world.

TODAY IS A BEAUTIFUL DAY!!!  I am currently sitting at the computer next to a wide open window.

Ella and I started the day differently than most…I had to wake her up!  We had things to do and people to see, so she needed to get on out of bed.  I should’ve woken her up 15 minutes earlier than I did because we ran a solid 15 mintues late all morning.

First, we headed to the gym.  If you’re not on facebook (or you aren’t one of my facebook “friends”) then you missed my new lease on life…my list of positive changes!  We have been members of the YMCA for over a year now and I’m going to get accomplished what I set out to a full year ago.  Sure, I went strong at first, but then I met these great moms and started having lots and lots of playdates.  I’m going to apologize to those moms now because playdates are going to be less frequent or we’re just going to be late a lot since I’m determined to hit the gym at least three times during the week.  Yep – I’m going to get there by 8 a.m. (goal), drop Ella off with those lovely ladies in childwatch, and head to the ActivTrax machine to get my designed workout.  Which reminds me…I need to do the ab work I didn’t get to this morning…
So far this week I’ve done three FULL BODY workouts – 20-30 minutes of cardio, weights, and ab work.  After that I’m disgusting so I also take advantage of those non-water-saver showers in the locker room and get dandied up before we head elsewhere for the morning.  Ella is in childwatch for a full hour and a half to close to two hours and she LOVES IT!!!  Those ladies take great care of her and she has lots to do and lots of friends to play with.

Today after our (shortened) workout, we headed to the church to get my church work done.  I started singing U2’s Beautiful Day (since it wasn’t on the radio) at the top of my lungs with my windows down.  Ella found this quite amusing as did anyone we passed as we slowly exited the parking lot.  It just really is a beautiful day!

Over the past couple of days I’ve had at least two friends (on facebook) post about being positive in the day.  “Waking up on this side of the grass” means that I’m alive and I owe God my happy thankfulness no matter what else is going on.  I’m determined to make that my mantra.

Here are a few more things that I’m looking forward to happening in the next four days:
Tonight – my friend Angie’s baby shower.  I get to celebrate another tiny God-creation.  And I just found out my friend, Angela, is pregnant and she’ll be at the shower tonight so I get to hug her and just love on another momma-to-be.
Tomorrow – a Mom’s Morning Out bike ride with some Richmond Mommies.  This was so much fun two weeks ago that I want to do it every week.  It is a good workout with some new friends followed by excellent coffee at Starbucks.
Sunday – Ella is MOVING UP TO TODDLERS at church.  Yes, a bit early, but she’s so much older than the other babies in the nursery and her development is on par with one of the kids who is older than she is.  I’m a little sad that she’s not a “baby” any more, but so excited that she’s going to get to learn Bible lessons and make Bible crafts.  I have her little backpack ready to go with diapers, a sippy cup, and her little Bible.
Monday – BACK TO BIBLE STUDY!!!!!!!!!!!  We’re going to study Beth Moore’s Revelation Here and Now, Then and There.  SO EXCITED!!!  It is really a blessing to spend two hours each Monday morning with a bunch of ladies of all ages talking about God and praying together.
GOD’S BLESSINGS ABOUND!

Before I leave you, I ask that you remember tomorrow the very unexpected sacrifice made by many Americans 9 years ago.  I will never forget where I was when the terrorist attack happened.  I also ask that you remember that not every Muslim is extreme.  Just like not every Christian feels the need to blow up an abortion clinic. 
I also want to ask everyone to continue praying for our troops overseas.  Today, many news outlets are saying that President Obama has concluded U.S. combat operations in Iraq.  My cousin, Hailey, is currently serving in Baghdad, Iraq and she says that this is not 100% the truth.  She is afraid that Americans will take their eyes off of Iraq not realizing that the troops there are still in grave danger.  They still carry their guns as they go about business.  They are still attacked.  There are still bombs.  Please pray for our troops – whether or not you agree with the war or if you did or did not vote for the current or past president. 
I’ll get down off my soapbox now.  Hailey, I love you and I’m praying for you always.

Godly Inspiration

I’m starting this at 4:25 p.m. on Friday afternoon…Ella is bound to wake up any moment sucking me away from the opportunity to finish it.  But I’m going to start it anyway…and listen for the Bean to stir.

We spent 8 days in California (with two days additional days traveling to and from California).  It was wonderful.  I’ll do my best to blog about our trip next week giving details of what we did and including pictures (which you’ve seen if you’re a friend on facebook).

One of the coolest things we did was go to church with my brother, Warren, and my wonderful sister-in-law, Rachel.  Warren and Rach are members of First Christian Church of Burbank (Disciples of Christ).  They have found a wonderful family there.  Warren leads the worship there in the 11:00 service and Rachel is an elder in the church.  They were both fulfilling those roles during our visit.

The minister, Steve Borgard, was finishing up a series on Stewardship.  Sunday, May 30, he preached on the Stewardship of Memory basing his sermon on 1 Corinthians11:17-34.  It was a GREAT message.  One that we could all do well to hear.  He spoke of the Lord’s Supper being a Meal of Memory…people in the text were not honoring the communion meal appropriately and were being redirected in the way they should be partaking.  Steve talked about one of the mistakes we make in partaking of communion is looking at it as an individual event when it is supposed to be about community – our community of believers, those sitting around us, partaking with us.  He also touched on the words, “discern the body” and said that we should consider the body of believers – what are others’ needs?  There should be a collective memory. 

One of my favorite things he spoke about was the IMPORTANCE of PARTICIPATING in CHURCH.  This is a touchy subject at times.  People feel that they worship better alone or in nature.  But Steve made the point Jesus’ model was CHURCH AS COMMUNITY.  This point is so true.  Let me tell you, my church family has been very important to me throughout my life.  I may fuss about them at times, but don’t we all fuss about family members?  We all have some crazy aunt or uncle…so it is in the church body.  I could not have gotten through some of my biggest trials without the prayers, support, and comfort that was provided from those outside of my immediate family – my church family was there all the way, holding my hand and holding me up alongside my wonderful God-given family.

Another thing that Steve touched on – and this truly inspired me – was that “memory is not only a PAST event”.  He talked about the harm that can come from nostalgia.  When we talk about how things used to be…you know, “the good ole days”.  In “the good ole days”, our church didn’t have a computer showing upcoming events.  In “the good ole days”, our church didn’t have a screen projecting the words of songs to enable the congregation to sing facing forward – being heard in worship.  In “the good ole days”…  I agree that the old days were good, but the thing that Steve said that hit me directly in the heart is this: “The ‘good ole days’ can become a weapon against the POSSIBILITY of present.”  Wow!  How true!

How often are we so focused on how things used to be, that we’re missing out on something totally cool happening RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW?  I’ll leave you that to think about.

And with that…the Bean says “mommy”.  See ya later!  Happy Weekend!

Old Bibles…

Being the daughter of a minister and raised in the church, I have quite a few Bibles. 

I have lost the normal, brown, hard-cover NIV that I received when I was baptised at age 7.  But have another copy of the same Bible that I got at 13.  It is autographed in the front cover by the members of 4Him.  I loved them.  The back cover has a list of scriptures we discussed at the Southern Christian Youth Convention…whatever year that was.  Circled in that list is 1 Timothy 4:12.  That used to be my favorite.  I says, “Do not let anyone look down on you because you are young.  Instead, set an example for the believers in speech, life, love, faith and purity.”  That was a favorite for a long time because it spoke to me where I was.  I was young, but my parents expected me to be an example to those around me regardless of who they were or what their age.

Somewhere in a box in the garage is a white leather Bible that zips up.  That one is OLD…

Of the Bibles sitting next to me at the computer table, the next one chronologically is a Zondervan NIV Study Bible that my dad gave me on 2/9/1994.  His note inside the front cover says, “from mom and dad on your sixteeth birthday.  If you are in the word the word will be in you.”  There is also a picture of Josh Kennedy and I taped in the front cover.  I think it is from one of our birthdays or maybe even a graduation party.  We were really good friends.  I miss him.  I’ve actually written a scripture in the front of this Bible.  2 Timothy 2:15 – “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who doesn’t need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.”
This Bible is the most worn of all my Bibles.  I used it faithfully until 2 years ago (when my dad bought me another Bible…we’ll get to that).  There are entire sections of this Bible falling out.  I carry it in a case where it is zipped into its own compartment as not to lose those sections.  This one is full of bulletins from over the years.  I cleaned out the case last week and recycled a lot of the bulletins in it (but kept a few).  Eventually, I may clean out this Bible but for now, it speaks volumes to my life.  One of my favorite underlined verses comes from an SCYC held in Stone Mountain, GA where Rich Mullins led worship.  He had us get out our Bibles and underline Exodus 3:5b – “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.”  He went on to explain that God was among us, making that auditorium holy ground.  He then asked us all to take off our shoes and worship on that holy ground.  It had an impact on me.  If you ever see my kick off my shoes during worship in church (happens very rarely due to my self-control) it is because I’ve been led into that “place” of worship where God is really present and I can feel Him.  I have to remove my shoes, because I am standing on holy ground.
There are so many verses underlined in this Bible, I don’t have room to share them all with you.  I can’t help but notice Matthew 6:25-34 entitled “Do Not Worry”.  This section stands out to me because it was preached about on August 19, 2001.  I wrote in the margin: Divorce final, no $$, grandma in the hospital, no job, overcommitted and tired.  I wrote there again on July 20, 2003:  No $$, but have a scholarship to attend school full-time, Grandma dead, Grandpa in TN…  I wrote again on 11/16/03 after which I direct the reader to turn to the back of the Bible.  I wrote again no 12/15/04, 10/9/05, 01/08/06, and 9/3/06.  It is interesting to read my thoughts on those days of my life…
I think the oldest bulletin in this Bible (which has obviously been cleaned out at somepoint) is from Towne South Church of Christ on January 12, 1997.  I sang on a worship team there with my two childhood best friends, Michael Lease & Eric Woolard, as well as Shannon Wagner.  It was fun to sing in four part harmony all the time.  Man do I miss that!  Anyway, the bulletin includes an announcement for the Super Bowl Party held by TSCC that year (Jan 26) in their “new” building.  It didn’t even have interior walls yet.  I have a picture of myself from that party.  No heat in the building, but instead those huge heat fans were set up.  It was a great night.  I still remember it.

The next Bible is The New American Standard Bible “The Student Bible” issued to me as a textbook at Roanoke Bible College (now Mid-Atlantic Christian University).  It has a card in it from Debbie Lockhart telling me she’s thinking about me and referring me to read Psalm 121.  That scripture became a great comfort to me when I flew into Haiti a year or so later.  A bookmark that says “Teach me YOUR ways” is tucked into Ezekiel.  It is from the Women’s Retreat at Parham Hills Christian Church on January 19, 2002.  In Mark, I find that picture from the Towne South superbowl party.  I’m huddled closely with Megan Lease.  There are lots of Towne South bulletins in this one.  On April 27, 1997 our Worship group (called the “Young Quartet” sang “There is Still Power In The Blood”.  I apparently also used this Bible when I worked with Campus Crusades back in Richmond.  In a Crusades meeting on 10/2/98 I underlined Colossians 4:2-6.  Verse 6 says, “Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned, as it were, with salt, so that you may know how you should respond to each person.”  Interesting that I turned to that one.  I’m currently in a Bible study of women at First Baptist Church on Mondays.  We are doing a study called Conversation Peace – it talks about our speech and taming our tongue.

I also have a Serendipity Student Bible (NIV) that I bought when I was the Youth Director at Parham Hills Christian Church.  I job I’ve always regretted letting go.  I loved being the Youth Director.  In the front of this Bible are quotes I like by famous and not-so-famous people.  I have a quote by President Ford that says, “Your best friend is the person who helps keep your dream alive.” and a quote by my dad (9/24/00) that says, “If you look at God through your circumstances, He will look small and far away. If you look at your circumstances through God, He will draw near and be close.”
I love this Bible because it has discussing questions all through it (which I used in youth group meetings).  They are deep and my teens really thought about them.  It also includes a picture of the PHCC YOUth t-shirt we were designing with our theme scripture: Acts 4:29 – “Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness.”  I wanted those kids to speak God’s Word with BOLDNESS!

And finally, my least used Bible of all time (used only for cross reference and when I need a neat wording for Praise Team on Sunday morning) – my copy of Eugene Peterson’s The Message.  There is only one bulletin (01/26/03 – Baby Dedication) and just one thing underlined.  There are a few pictures from a youth trip tucked in, but that is all.  The underlined?  Jeremiah 29:11-12 (my favorite)

I love old Bibles.  Someday, I hope to inherit at least one of my dad’s or my mom’s.  My dad has my grandpa’s and I love that one, too.  It connects me to a great man of God.  What does your Bible say about you?