Friday, March 31, 2006

Dare 2B Real!

Did anyone ever tell you to "get your act together"? I've heard it plenty of times. I tried really hard for a long time to do exactly that. I was a great actor too! Well rehearsed, I performed the acceptable words to say, the right way to eat, dress and express my worship. I got some kudos from higher-ups- I admit it felt pretty good- so I kept working on my "act". I felt conflicted though because I knew I wasn't being real- I was a deciever. The "me" people saw wasn't who I really was... Then something amazing happened on my journey- I connected with a living God. Many wonderful changes have occurred because of this! The biggest one? I'm no longer tearing myself down with some self-destructive habits- my eating disorder being one of the biggies. But self-loathing is still a struggle because I need a place to belong- a place where it's safe to say, "This is who I am, this is where I'm at" and not be rejected but embraced. I think I may have found this place...
Too many Christians are smug and self-assured. They've "had their acts together" for such a long time now, they feel they can stand in judgement of others calling it "discernment". They think they are above sinning now and don't see a need for a Savior. Parading around wrapped in the filthy rags they call "righteousness", they are self-deceived thinking they please God by their sacrifice & good deeds. Precious few have a heart-to-heart, life-changing connection... too often we hold God at arms length because we fear Him and don't want to move beyond our comfort zone.
Brokenness is a powerful tool in the hand of God to bring us to Himself. It happens after He lets us run ourselves ragged trying to whip ourselves into shape- finally we fall exhausted at His feet realizing no matter how hard we try, we were born with a fallen nature that continually gets the best of us. We realize there is NO hope unless a power outside ourselves rescues us. Either we resent & reject God at that point, or we run headlong into His arms.
I'm no longer driven to "get my ACT together" because I'm learning to be real. Some may not approve, but My Father loves me. I am His and He has the power to change me. I can rest now, because He is working 24/7. This stone heart of mine, once so angry, so cold is opening. I still have scars but I can feel again. The late Rich Mullins referred to this process in his song 'The Hatching of A Heart'. So, ditch the "act", you don't have to be a player. Step outside the box, ask your questions, prayerfully do your own research historically & theologically. Reach out to The Almighty- He's there, give Him a chance! Unless this is done earnestly, are any of us justified in turning our backs on God?

Thursday, March 30, 2006

The Art of Living...

Life is like making a picture on a blank piece of paper. You can only draw in ink- you can't erase anything and the colors are permanent. When you mess up, you either draw around the mistake, color over it or try to scribble it out. Eventually, the drawing begins to take shape and becomes recognizable art. Obviously the fewer mess-ups, the better the overall picture is going to look. We need to be wise and we need to be careful. However, our judgement as humans is fallible and mistakes are inevitable.

When my kids first started drawing- their little hands awkwardly grasped the crayon, pencil and marker. Their art wasn't exactly pretty- in fact it consisted of odd shapes with very little structure or harmony of color- it was hard to point out exactly what they were trying to convey. They weren't seeking my constructive criticism, they just wanted me to be happy with them for trying- and I was! To me, their scribbles were wonderful because it was the best expression they could possibly give. I'm thrilled they love me enough to make me a picture. As they've developed and learned more their artwork is getting better! Good things take time to develop...

I'm still working on my life picture. Plenty of people come along before my picture is done to criticize, make suggestions or reject my effort altogether. Sometimes it's tempting to crumble up the paper and give up. It's frustrating, because I'm unable to erase what's already been drawn. I just have to work with what I've already got on the page and keep going. I believe God thinks my life sketch is beautiful, because He isn't focused on the mistakes. I've colored outside the lines many times, but my Father chooses not to notice because He loves me and my picture is for Him. Someday God will hand me a brand new piece of paper to fill and I can start over again.

Perhaps life is not so much about making perfect art as it is about being willing to keep drawing...

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Seriously Human!

My 5 year old daughter is active in a clown ministry team. They go to visit nursing homes & hospitals, helping cheer those who are lonely & sad. Most people seem to enjoy these kids in wigs. There are some however, who will sit back, completely resistent, frowning no matter what the cute little clowns say or do. Want a liberating experience? Put on a clown costume and be silly for a while. (If you paint your face- nobody's gonna know it's you anyway!) Did you know medical research shows that 5 minutes of hearty laughter has the same effect on the cardiovascular system as 15 minutes of jogging? Giggling is good for your health! Smiling works facial muscles that help keep the face from sagging pre-maturely.
I've been thinking recently about how sometimes we take ourselves way too seriously. You probably know what I'm talking about? The somber kind of people who will never smile for fear their face will crack- those who feel they are somehow above or beyond laughter. They cannot dance before the Lord, because they feel it's below their dignity. Bad things happen- that's a fact of life- we all have our share of challenges but constantly lingering in a dismal state of mind is NOT good for us. It's a sad thing when we lose our ability to laugh and it greatly reduces our enjoyment in life when we are too intense or heavy-hearted.

That's why I believe God allows us to have the following:

1) Hiccups- we all get them and often at the worst possible moment
2) Goosebumps- what a strange phenomenon
3) Earwax- yep, we all get it
4) Elbow skin- it's very saggy & feels funny
5) Feet- I like having them, but I think they look very strange & they can smell purty bad
6) Bad hair days- you KNOW that's why hats were invented!
7) Cats- nobody can put us in our place faster than our ultra-dignified feline friends

It's healthy to have a reasonable sense of dignity, but when we get carried away with an ego trip, taking ourselves too seriously, remember that we all put our pants on the same way. We all take bathroom breaks, get morning breath, have gas and smell when we sweat. We're only human! So I'm learning to lighten up, laugh a little, smile at someone just because and when I get to the gym today I'm gonna dance & sweat like crazy. If you make a mistake or get cut off in traffic, try laughing it off. I tell this to my oldest child all the time. She is VERY intense and it robs her of so much joy in life. I'm trying to teach her by example how to relax a little. What about being human keeps YOU down to earth??

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Good News...

In the midst of such terribly depressing news on a daily basis, here is some good news:

Sorry to see that freedom of conscience is not available in Afghanistan. According to the Muslim Quaran, Christians are "People of the Book" and are to be respected, not murdered for their faith. This man was carrying a Bible, because he read it and believed what he found in it's pages. Is this a crime worthy of death?? I love my freedom! Despite it's many flaws, in my country people are free to worship however their conscience dictates. Does this lead some to lifestyle choices I disagree with? Absolutely! However, if I want the freedom to believe as I see fit, I cannot rob someone else of that right. Any Christian can convert to Islam here without being arrested or losing their job. Any Muslim can convert to Christianity without threat of losing their lives. Men are even free to believe there is no God if they wish. Living by conviction- this is the way it was meant to be. God does not FORCE people to believe in Him and neither should we ever threaten in order to convert or retain believers. God invites. He draws us to Him with love and tender mercy- NOT with vengeance, hatred & fear. Whether you call Him Allah, Yahweh or Abba- in the end, God alone will be the judge of ALL things. Who are any of us to think it our place to decide who deserves to live or die, or to dictate what another man believes in his heart? Let's say someone reads the Bible in Iraq and desires to be a follower of Christ, but by fear of death they remain Muslim in name & practice. Does this please Almighty God? To have someone going through the motions of a faith they no longer believe?? God wants our souls to connect with Him- not merely an outward conformity of certain prescribed behaviors. Remember, Abraham had two sons- we are all brothers. The hatred, violence and arrogance of Muslims, Christians and Jews alike must end! It is a shame to us all!!

Monday, March 27, 2006

We're Back...

We had a nice get-away. Didn't get to swim at all. The hotel they put us in didn't have an indoor pool and it was WAY too chilly to use the outdoor facility. We did have a nice time walking the beach, eating out and browsing the little shops. I love to watch my children's delight as they find shells and other treasures on the shore. There were jellyfish washed up all over the beach- had to be careful we didn't step in them. There were a few things we could've done if we had more $$. It would have been great to rent bikes and ride up & down the beach with the kids... maybe next time...

In other news, met with Producer, Jeremy Midkiff. He is down to earth, nice to talk to, knowledgeable about music AND specializes in the sound we're looking for. Providence? When we let the other Producer know that because of time constraints we were going a different direction, he sent us back a short little message that indicates he's taken this somewhat personally. (I hope not, he's a nice guy & I'll be working with him for several other projects.) We need to work with someone who will make us a priority and take us seriously. However, now we need to raise $8,000 in order to get what we want. I've been pleading with God to make a way. We'll see what happens. It's not easy being independant artists... Testing the waters. Would love to be full time musicians- if that's not the will of God for our lives, I'll probably be going back to school to finish a nursing degree. I've gotten my hopes up SO many times & have been the victim of too many empty promises & flattering words. Everybody I've approached thinks the music is great, but nobody wants to help finance this venture. I hate money, because the lack of it holds us down. There are people out there who will exploit your dreams for their own benefit. I feel kinda strung out right now! I was hoping to come back from vacation with more clarity, instead we have just as many open-ended ideas as we did before... To be on the verge of seeing a dream come true, but not sure if it will really ever happen is bitter-sweet torment. I believed with all my heart from the time I was 5 that I was meant to do music. I felt called. I know God saw me standing on my front porch singing into the garden hose. So many times I chase this idea around in my head, because maybe it wasn't God calling me after all. Maybe it was just my own ambition reaching for something? But then there are the songs we write. Why would God give so much music & a desire to get out there with it and never give us a chance to use it?? That would be the worst kind of cruelty. That's like giving someone a lot of money & telling them they can never spend it. We just want more opportunities to do music and ministry- and that may come only when I have a CD.

I'm interested to know: What is/was YOUR dream? Did you give up on your dream or do you believe it will come true??

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Que Pasa?!

Well, I'm really excited for several reasons!! First, I've been hired by the YMCA to teach on Tues. & Thurs. starting in June. I'll be teaching Pilates & Interval Cardio classes. It's only 4 classes a week, but it's a foot in the door. Eventually I hope to do more. Such a GREAT organization! I SO enjoy fitness. I've lost 8 lbs, but I'm kind of in a holding pattern right now- just going to keep having a good time workin' it and see what happens.

Today, my man & I meet with another Producer from Nashville. Jeremy Midkiff has worked with several of our friends and we are WAY impressed with his work. When the first Producer found himself in way over his head with other projects and after nearly a year of waiting and realizing our project isn't going to be a priority, we decided to give Mr. Midkiff a chance. When you are a 30 something musician, you don't have time to sit around waiting for someone to "get to you". We've been writing/singing our hearts out for 16 years now. I stay busy with performances, but the ministry isn't going to the next level- until we have a CD done. I've written a lot of songs and need to get them recorded. If you'd like to hear a sample of the work I did for Contemporary Christian group 'Message of Mercy', click the link on the right of this page to visit their site & hear clips of our music. (Make sure you click for samples of the 'Movin' On' album, since I wasn't with the group when they did their first project) Keep this in your prayers as the future is unclear for this project as far as finances go...

In other news, we are helping a new Christian Cafe worship forum get off the ground and will appear regularly at this venue. Check it out:

We're going away early tomorrow morning for a little get-away to Hilton Head, SC. My husband will be helping a radio station down there and in exchange, they are putting us up in a Hampton Inn for a long weekend. The children are VERY much looking forward to this time away as a family- so am I. Maybe this will allow my husband to destress and enjoy the kids a little? Hope so.

PS. Blogger didn't like my little soundblox music player, so without even notifying me, they shut it down. Something to do with mp3 copyright issues. It was nice while it lasted. Wish they would have told me BEFORE I did all the work of setting it up. That's life... Be well, my friends! :o)

Monday, March 20, 2006

Harness Your Power!

I try to see the good in everyone- viewing them in light of their potential. However, I cannot deny the presence of ignorance in this world. You know, the one who cuts in front of you in traffic, then has the nerve to flip YOU off! The ones who get up in your face with insults, the neighbor who lets their 3 children come over unannounced at odd hours, etc. Life & ignorance can deal some harsh treatments! I used to feel like a helpless jellyfish always just reacting to the current. If someone was rude to me, I felt justified in closing my heart toward them. If things didn't go my way, I felt it was acceptable to be grouchy all day. In highschool, I heard a talk about embracing the power of choice. It was said, "You're not helpless in this life. You can't control every circumstance, but you CAN CHOOSE how you are going to respond." I thought he was crazy! I mentally argued, "I can't help but be angry when I'm victimized. I feel crummy after someone disrespects me!" That's only partly true. Fact is, when people are inconsiderate, it hurts. But it's also fact that we don't have to sink to their level and retaliate. It IS possible to maintain good, ethical behavior toward others- even when they act as low-lifes. I'm learning to embrace my power of choice in the following ways:

I choose to work through painful issues of the past in healthy ways
I choose not to hate- but to return good for evil
I choose not to dwell in the past & beat myself up for mistakes
I choose to focus on strengths instead of weaknesses in myself & others
I choose to forgive & be free of resentments
I choose to smile on rainy days
I choose not to have a victim mentality or wallow in my sorrows
I choose to surrender my negative emotions to God
I choose to make the most of each day, learning, growing, sharing...

God respects our freedom of choice. Jesus died protecting that right. Satan was happy to make us pathetic slaves for centuries. He loves nothing better than using us to wound each other- causing us to degenerate emotionally, physically & spiritually. He is a harsh, cruel task-master pouring salt in our wounds by constantly playing on our insecurities and addictions. He's the one who tempts us to do something stupid, then rubs our noses in it. Without a Savior, this defeat would be the only reality any of us could ever know.
On the contrary, Jesus wanted us to have a choice beyond death & despair. He doesn't force us to believe in Him, but He died to give us a better option than one short lifetime of struggle here on earth. He wants us to live forever in the fullness of health & strength, while knowing love & peace. However, it disturbs me greatly when well-meaning people try to manipulate non-Christians into attending church or inacting certain behaviors by using guilt/fear tactics. How does holding the threat of Hell over someone win their heart? Do cold stares and words of condemnation motivate a soul to change? Does this behavior present the loving, merciful nature of our great God?? God wants us to come to Him with heartfelt desire- not because someone coerced us. In closing, I present a two-fold challenge:

1) Harness the power of choice in your life
2) Determine to respect everyone's right to choose their eternal destiny

Friday, March 17, 2006

Things that Make Me Feel Beautiful...

For years- especially as a child- I felt ugly & unlovable. I was extremely insecure. I received constant criticism about my looks. Too fat, too fair, too freckled, too short, too thin, etc.- eventually I believed I was completely unnattractive. I punished myself by starving/throwing up. There's something magical about your 30's though. Somehow, with the love of my husband, deeper relationship with my God, greater wisdom & experience there comes a certain confidence I can't explain. The only word I can think of is "Settling". I'm learning it's okay to like myself and be me. I still don't feel beautiful very often, (Don't like seeing pictures of myself) but today, through a simple gesture, I felt beautiful- no Radiant! You see, thanks to feminist rhetoric, women aren't treated as if they're beautiful/feminine creatures anymore. I miss that! I'm a forward thinker, in many ways, but I'm still old fashioned. I like having the car door opened, my chair pulled out. Okay, I hear you asking, "Well, what happened that made you feel beautiful??" Really quite simple: I was going into the gas station, an older man- probably in his early-mid 50's was coming out. He took a few steps past the door, noticed me, stopped, smiled big, tipped his hat, then rushed to open the door for me. I smiled and thanked him. Still smiling at me he said, "You're sure welcome, little lady"! I loved it!! People are still polite here and that's why I LOVE living in the South. See- you don't have to move mountains to make somebody's day brighter...

I grew up being a radical tom-boy. Didn't always get much attention from my Dad. Thought my hero didn't have time for me because I was a girl, so I tried my best to be a boy. In a sense, I was the ultimate feminist. Anything a boy could do, I set out to do. I even had my hair cut in a flat-top once when I was in the 5th grade. I was rough- people didn't want to mess with me! Rode any horse brought my way and played just about every sport public school offered. I hung out on the B-ball court in the projects- until it became unsafe to do so. I was fit & sporty- no frills or fluff for me- which drove my dear, ultra-feminine Mother nuts. She wanted me to be Shirley Temple, I wanted to be Susan Powter. Girls at school often hated me & made life miserable. However, things have changed. Feeling the power of my body to bear & nurse children was when my attitude started to change. And now this sweet "becoming" of me... it's been a gradual awakening, but I like what I'm feeling. I paint my toe-nails sassy colors, wear perfumes & lotions. I enjoy feminine styles & hair arrangements. I feel beautiful working out, embracing a small child, dancing barefoot in the rain, attending the symphony (I always cry), when my husband takes me on a date or brings flowers. Also feel lovely wearing pearls, singing to God, and when someone just notices me- like the stranger at the gas station. Sometimes as a stay-home Mom, I feel silenced & invisible. I was once a leader, people viewed me as competent, now everyone else gets to be the leaders- I tend to go along for the ride. (Don't want to make waves) Sometimes I feel buried by responsibilities so nobody can see who I am anymore. For this reason, I wish to thank my readers. It means a lot to me that with millions of Blogs out there, you stop by, read my thoughts and leave your comments. You have given me a voice again. You have NO idea how much it means! THANK YOU!!

Kiss Me, I'm Irish!


Saint Patrick, was a slave in Ireland. He managed to escape & returned to his home in England, but hearing the call of God to take the Gospel to the largely pagan culture of Ireland, he returned as a missionary. He later became known as the Apostle of Ireland, became bishop of Ireland sometime after 431. Many legends exist about his life, including that he drove the snakes out of Ireland, as is depicted in the picture above. Saint Patrick’s Day is celebrated each year on March 17.
I'm proud of my strong Irish heritage!! I love green, have reddish hair, fair skin & blue eyes. I also have the inner fire so often attributed to the Celts. The Irish are known as passionate people who love words and music. I would certainly fit into that category as a musician and one who writes songs & poetry. Nothing lights me up as quickly as the sound of a good Irish Jig or Reel. I've never been to Ireland, but someday..... My Grandmother (Gallagher) was Irish Catholic. There's a lot of Irish in my blood. Today I'm wearing my green shamrock hat and we'll have lunch at O'Charley's like we do every year. Enjoy the day!! :o)

Thursday, March 16, 2006

A Joke!

Did you ever hear about the Agnostic who had Insomnia AND Dyslexia?????

He stayed up ALL night wondering if there really is a doG...

(Hope I didn't just offend all the Agnostic Insomniac Dyslexics out there...) :o)

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Wisdom for Engaged Couples...

My husband & I dated nearly 3 years taking things REALLY slow. Our engagement went fast though- only lasting 5 months. I was 19, a full time student with 3 part-time jobs, my husband was 22, in his last year at university for a BA in Communications. I now have 13 years of marriage under my belt and still learning! Upon hearing of the engagement of a young couple I know, I'd like to impart some words of advice:

- No matter how long you've known each other- there's still more to learn...
- You aren't perfect- neither is your mate. Laugh about the toothpaste & toilet paper, but be careful- little annoyances can add up!
- If you kept yourselves pure, (good job) don't expect wedding night to be perfect- it may be somewhat awkward. Intimacy comes over time & with practice. If you slept with someone else in the past- don't compare. If you've already slept together, lay off- it will make you desire each other more on the wedding night.
- Keep ALL wedding presents- even if you don't want or need them. Re-gift them for holidays, birthdays and weddings and save BIG bucks!.
- DON'T start out buying stuff on a credit card. A big killer of romance is a load of debt hanging over you like an executioner. Acquire possessions gradually.
- Set up a reasonable budget and stick to it! Plan ahead for vacations, romantic evenings, new vehicle, etc.
- Keep dating!! Married people need romance too. (Don't get lazy in this area- very important)
- Get a hobby- anything the two of you can share and IF possible choose something that can later involve children.
- Before you think about having kids, get a puppy & raise it together. It's amazing how much you can learn & grow through the experience! (Dog Allergy? Get a hypo-allergenic dog such as an intelligent Poodle or cuddly Bichon)
- Don't base life decisions solely on advice from family members. You two will be your own unit now- no longer under the rule of your parents. Listen respectfully to them, but take your own path.
- Pray with/for each other every day- this will bind your souls together. Read scripture or devotionals to each other.
- Leave little flirty notes or candies in a drawer. Bring flowers. Try new things. Make surprise dinner arrangements. (You'll get bored with home-cooking & hum-drum routines) Can't afford to go out? Play "your" song & slow dance in the living room.
- Don't go to sleep angry. Frustrations can carry over into the next day. Apologize & make up! (That's always fun...)
- NO grudges. Leave the past in the past- don't throw it in each other's faces. Move on! Keep communicating.
- Living with parents? Not a good idea, unless they're emotionally mature & balanced! Best to have your own space.
- Don't hit or throw stuff. (Unless you're playing) Control your temper- it's easy to say something that a thousand apologies will not undo. Don't hold shouting matches in front of children- that's no way to handle conflict!
- Husband, if she says, "Does this make me look fat?" A wise man grins and says, "Baby, you look great as always!" LOL
- Maintain manners & hygiene. Ladies flush, Gents put the seat down. NO rude gas, foot scratching, nose-picking, belching, etc. Don't kiss your prince/princess with bad breath- go swish first. If your feet stink- wash 'em! Stay in good shape, shave, wear nice clothes & smell sweet. Remember, don't tempt your spouse to be unfaithful! He/she still deserves something GOOD to look at.
- Above all don't take yourselves TOO seriously or get discouraged. You're both just human beings on a journey... ENJOY!!


"Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect. . . ." Philippians 3:12

It is a snare to imagine that God wants to make us perfect specimens of what He can do; God's purpose is to make us one with Himself. The emphasis of holiness movements is apt to be that God is producing specimens of holiness to put in His museum. If you go off on this idea of personal holiness, the dead-set of your life will not be for God, but for what you call the manifestation of God in your life. "It can never be God's will that I should be sick." If it was God's will to bruise His own Son, why should He not bruise you? The thing that tells for God is not your relevant consistency to an idea of what a saint should be, but your real vital relation to Jesus Christ, and your abandonment to Him whether you are well or ill.
Christian perfection is not, and never can be, human perfection. Christian perfection is the perfection of a relationship to God which shows itself amid the irrelevancies of human life. When you obey the call of Jesus Christ, the first thing that strikes you is the irrelevancy of the things you have to do, and the next thing that strikes you is the fact that other people seem to be living perfectly consistent lives. Such lives are apt to leave you with the idea that God is unnecessary, by human effort and devotion we can reach the standard God wants. In a fallen world this can never be done. I am called to live in perfect relation to God so that my life produces a longing after God in other lives, not admiration for myself. Thoughts about myself hinder my usefulness to God. God is not after perfecting me to be a specimen in His show-room; He is getting me to the place where He can use me. Let Him do what He likes. ~ Oswald Chambers

If we could do it on our own through our obedience or determination, Jesus would never have had to live & die on our behalf....

Monday, March 13, 2006

My "Official" Statement...

Two women are talking about their careers and how busy they are when I happened to come on the scene. I eventually join in on the conversation saying "Wow, you girls are so busy, I don't know how you do it!" To which they replied, "Oh, I know and you're a stay-home Mom, don't you just get bored to death?" I had to chuckle to myself. I'll admit my "non-career" life has been lonely at times, but NOT boring with 4 kids!! Once again, I'd like to clarify that we stay-home moms do not sit on our laurels in front of a television all day long eating Bon-bons and dressing in choice lingerie. The majority of stay-home Moms I've met are sharp & well-educated- not the frumpy hair/flannel bathrobe types.

An outline of my "oh-so-boring" life: Get up at 7:30, get dressed in workout clothes, say goodbye to my 2 older children as they get off to school. Do my prayer/study time and wake up my 2 youngest girls, get them dressed & fed. Head out the door & drive to the gym. Pick up my little "neice" Emma, drop the 3 girls off at the YMCA nursery and proceed to my 2 hrs of teaching fitness classes. Afterward, gather up the girls and go home. Feed them lunch, put Emma down for her nap, go do my barn chores. Take a shower. Do homeschool with my girls a couple of hours. Practice the piano & work on my music about 1 hour a day. Tidy my house, do laundry, laundry & more laundry, work on 'Message of Mercy' stuff. Greet my 2 kids & the little boy I babysit after school. Prepare supper while making some calls. Clean up the kitchen, observe the children doing their chores & homework, answer e-mails, etc. Before bed, mill flour & make bread for breakfast and the children's lunches. I maintain an active Blog- usually writing in the am with my devotion or evening after we put the kids to bed. Finally, I fall into bed ready for some good converstaion, etc. with my man and we are asleep by 10:30-11pm. So it's a very busy life!!

The fact that many people think I do nothing but sit around is evident by the vast amount of proposals I get from friends and family members to do home businesses. Sorry, but I don't have that kind of time- I'm a busy lady! I love my life!! I like managing my household and being here when my husband or children need me. I'm not addicted to shopping, I'm content to drive a mini-van instead of a more sporty model, so I don't need much money to be happy. What makes me happiest is being connected with the ones I love. I think perhaps the stay-home Mom is an endangered species that may soon die out. As inflation & materialism continue to rise there is more pressure for women to work outside the home. Not every woman is able to stay home, but sometimes, with a few lifestyle changes it's possible. Next time you meet up with a stay-home Mom, notice her- give her a word of encouragement. Our line of work is not highly esteemed and sometimes it can truly be a thankless job...

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Wouldn't it Be Nice?

Seems like the more money some people get, the hungrier for riches they become. Some will do whatever it takes to get more. I've never had much $$, though I've definitely had more than some. I'm not in love with the green stuff. I think it's sad that many times money comes between a person in need and an act of kindness. People often go without medical exams/treatments because they can't afford it, others go homeless or hungry because they have no cash. Do they deserve to eat any less than the successful business man? Walk into a bank with little downpayment and you'll probably be rejected- doesn't matter how honest or hard-working you are- money speaks. Those fortunate enough to have lots of money will receive the royal treatment. Same bank, different treatment. Isn't it strange how money makes such a hard distinction between people! Before money, there was trading & bartering- which I feel was a much better system. There were no pin numbers to memorize, receipts to keep track of, no sales tax and no inflation when someone with goat cheese traded for a wool sweater. I've bartered with people in the past- it works well. Service for service. This system was a great leveler of men and helped forge community friendships in the past. Wouldn't it be nice if we could do more transactions the old-fashioned way?!

Years ago, when you moved into a new community, neighbors would show up at your door with bread or cookies, introduce themselves and welcome you to the neighborhood. People used to understand they needed each other. They watched out for the neighbor's children, helped bring in crops or fix a broken fence. I remember moving many times as a girl and having several ladies stop by to greet us. We always had Sweet Tea or Lemonade to offer a guest. One town we lived in had a block party/BBQ every summer- FUN! I was ALL excited when we moved to the south 7 years ago. Thought I would get a chance to see some of that hospitality the south is so famous for. NOT!! We've move 3 times down here- guess what? The neighbors on our little country road aren't sociable at all, in fact we've had several neighbors that are downright hostile. Why the cold shoulder? They don't even know us!! The neighbor next door gossiped, accusing us of throwing dead chickens in their field. (They didn't talk to us about this) As soon as we were told, I went right over to assure them we would do our best to be good neighbors and would never throw dead animals on their property. (If they found chicken carcasses over there it was because their dogs were killing our hens, not because we were using their space as a depository.) Another neighbor called Animal Control and falsely reported that we have "3 viscious dogs running loose". (We only have 2 dogs, mostly indoor- anything BUT viscious) After finding a notice taped to my door, I drove over to see this lady while she was working in her yard. I was friendly, gave her our number and let her know if our dogs were ever any trouble, she could simply call me. She was actually quite friendly and apologized for calling the pound before talking to us, but apparently there's a lot of bad blood around here. One neighbor suing another, etc. Sometimes I think people enjoy having someone to fight with. Wouldn't it be nice if folks could learn to be neighborly again?!

Friday, March 10, 2006

Life Isn't Long Enough...

From the time I was very little I've had this great passion for life and a love for the many elements of our existence. I've never been one who simply dips her toe into anything. I dive head-long into my pursuits. True to my Scotch-Irish roots, I grieve hard and celebrate heartily! There are SO many things I'd like to do- many roles I would like to try on for size. I love to study culture- human diversity fascinates me! I greatly enjoy the arts, especially the symphony. I have a heart for so many things, animals, painting, music, horsemanship, writing, romance, acting, teaching, mothering, fitness. How can one pursue everything she's passionate about in one short lifetime?! Everyone has dreams & goals. It's unfair that we are often unable to pursue our ideals due to factors like heritage, genetics, location, finances, aging, bad luck & time constraints. No matter how rich or poor, each of us have 12 hrs each day in which to maximize our potential. If we manage to avoid death by accident, illness or terrorism, we have about 70 years in which to work toward our goals and see our dreams come true. I believe we're born with enough creativity to last forever, but have bodies that diminish. Live each day to the utmost. Do your best to work through the baggage of hurtful relationships, issues of hatred, personal failure, tragedy & disappointment. Don't be content to merely exist- thrive. Take time to enjoy, to savor things. Connect with people, share with them, learn their wisdom. Most of all, do what you can to help others have a better experience. Most of us are given 5 senses of Taste, Touch, Smell, Sight & Hearing. Here's what each of my senses enjoy:

Taste- a nice salad, fresh fruit, a good piece of fish, popcorn, homemade bread, Breyer's choco-mint ice cream
Touch- Softness of baby skin, hot baths, velvet muzzles (horse), relaxing massage, lying close to my man, going barefoot
Smell- Fresh-cut grass, a summer rain, fresh-baked bread, clean laundry, leather, evergreens, Roses, Hyacinths, Gardenia, Honeysuckle, Lilac, Lily of the Valley, Carnations, etc.
Sight- A moon rising over the mountains, horses running, sunset at the shore, gentle snowfalls, Christmas lights, Spring & Fall colors, waterfalls, a lit fireplace
Hearing- A baby's first cry, kind words, horses, gentle rain or a thunder storm, wind in the trees, Enya, Mozart, the pounding beat of workout music, a good concert, Irish Reels, birdsong, sighs of contentment, laughter, prayer, the sound of different languages, silence...

Well, that's enough about me. What about you??

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Finding Clarity...

I used to be afraid to share my thoughts, because I sought high rankings within the church, but I no longer aspire to any calling beyond that which my Lord calls me to. This allows me to be honest. I don't wish to offend, but this is MY journey- and like you, I'm still learning & growing in my faith. After 15 years in a certain denomination and having run the full gamut of their experience from liberal to ultra-conservative, I was faced with a dilemma. The church just wasn't meeting a great need in me. I didn't know how to identify or even put words to my longing, there was just this vast, unsettling emptiness in my soul. Oh, the church had theology, educational institutions, literature/mission work, but something was missing and the hole in my heart was aching to be filled. An evangelist came and did a week based on the 4 Gospels. His simple, humble presentation was FAR different from all the prophecy seminars I had attended and assisted with for many years. This man was not pointing to a religion but to Jesus Christ as the means for salvation. The need in my soul was quieted, I was blessed, but also terrified! You mean my church cannot save me? You mean all the do's & don'ts I strained to uphold will not save me?? You mean it's not all about ME?? I was scared to death, because for the first time Salvation seemed so simple. Jesus died so I could be forgiven- I accept His gift of righteousness- I am saved and my heart begins to change. I didn't know what to do with that!! Truth now comes down to one thing for me, Christ and Him crucified. If the humility of the Cross is not the central focus of our message, then we may as well SIT DOWN and be quiet! If, according to Romans 13:10, "Love is the fulfilling of the law", we are lacking in genuine Christianity. God warns the Loveless Church in Revelation 2- if she does not return to her first love experience (the Gospel) her lamp will be removed from it's stand. If we could stop congratulating ourselves for being "right" long enough to humble ourselves and pray, we may see the error of our ways. There are still very few experts at loving and many "experts" in the law among us. We believe that unless people accept all of our distinct doctrines, they have "turned their backs on Salvation". I am fully convinced this is not accurate! God is bigger than even our doctrines understand Him to be and He will not be put into such a small box as we have made for Him. Many need genuine affection & acceptance from people in the church. Instead, they are prodded along and guilt-tripped into certain behaviors. How Jesus longs to set the captives free, to bring rest to those who- like me are weary of depending on good works for salvation. There is such freedom in the Gospel- that is what Jesus commissioned us to share. Prophecy is helpful, but it's NOT the Gospel. Health & dress reform are useful, but are NOT the Gospel. We aren't the only denomination God is working with or through, nor do we hold a monopoly on Truth. I have seen this brand of arrogance passed on from one generation to another; "We are the "remnant", everyone else should learn from us!" We cannot look to ourselves, but to Christ as the example. Take the focus off prideful institutionalism- look to the Cross and LIVE!!

Sunni & Shia Muslims...

What happens when a Sunni man marries a Shia woman in Iraq? It's amazing to me that such terrible division can occur over how one washes ones feet, folds their hands during prayer or which religious figures one reveres. Seems so insignificant. Why bomb and kill over such minor diversities? Who suffers more than the children do? What kind of lives are they going to have- what hope? Let us learn a lesson from what we see playing out in the Muslim world today. I am challenged not to despise other believers for minor differences or to judge them harshly in areas where their beliefs vary from my own. We are ALL children of the same God! The violence in Iraq is simply the extreme version of what happens when we allow differences to cause resentment, for resentment leads to hatred and hatred to murder. There are those in Iraq who WANT civil war and are carrying out these atrocities to encite violence. Sadly, many are not strong enough in their faith to rise above retaliation. The article below really tugged on my heart-strings- note the painful look of dispair on the woman's face as she passes the wreckage. How I feel for these precious people:

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Another Sad Farewell...

Singer, actress, activist and mother, Dana Reeve died yesterday at the age of 44. She was the wife of Christopher Reeve who played 'Superman' back in the 80's and was later paralyzed after being thrown during a horse event. Dana set aside her own career goals and remained by her husband's side faithfully caring for his needs and supporting him in his efforts to help raise awareness and funding for spinal-cord research. Sadly, Christopher passed away Oct. 10, 2004, due to an internal infection he picked up after spending a decade in a wheelchair. Dana had a big heart and smile. After the death of her beloved husband, she remained active for the paralysis foundation Christopher started. She was someone I very much admired for her courage and committment. Tragically, she died of lung cancer, even though she was NOT a smoker. Dana was a mother of one son she had with Christopher, and 2 children from a previous marriage.
To read the medical report:
A quote from the website for the disabled says, "Dana will always be remembered for her passion, strength and ceaseless courage that became her hallmark. Along with her husband Christopher, she faced adversity with grace and determination, bringing hope to millions around the world." I couldn't agree more...

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Whas Up?!

Well, I've lost 8 lbs. Oh YEAH!! I feel stronger and my clothes fit better- as most of the weight I lost around my middle. I've been workin' it HARD at the gym- cardio and toning. I do 2 hrs. Mon, Wed, Fri, and 1 hr. Tu & Thurs. I've got some kick-butt aerobic/dance instructors!! My goal was to lose 15 lbs so I have 7 more to go. Not trying to be stick-skinny or picture perfect- just the best ME I can be. Some YMCA job options may open up in the near future- I'll keep you posted.

I composed my first song for the new 'Message of Mercy' this week, entitled 'Whosever Will'. I'm excited about our new sound!

Finally feels like we're getting settled into our new location. We're making connections in our community. It's been a year since we moved. We hope to build another house in the next few years. Sadly, we had to leave the beautiful Cape Cod we built after only living in it for 2 years! We'd like to sell this place & build the same design we had before- just a bit bigger. We'll see....

So why the little dog picture?? Don't let it's furry cuteness fool you! I got BIT yesterday!! My 2 Lab mixes were minding their own business playing in OUR yard when the neighbors' psycho Chihuahua mix (sp?) came under the fence and started trying to boss my dogs around. River decided to "play" with the little menace and of course, the little dog started yipping loudly- as if River was killing it. Entertained by the sudden change of attitude in the smaller dog, River continued to "play". He didn't mean any harm, but being the bigger dog he was just too rough for the Toy dog to handle and it just kept screaming it's head off. I tried to call my dog off, but he wouldn't listen. So my friend Tom grabbed River for me while I tried to help the Toy get away safely. As I was reaching down to assist the little thing, it bit me out of fear! Yep, sank it's teeth right into the end of my middle finger. That was all it grabbed- I was pulling my hand back, but one of it's canines sank in deeply just behind my finger-nail, while the other tooth went all the way to the bone on the underside. Boy did it bleed!! Throbbed so badly, I walked around with my finger in the air and it looked like I was flipping everyone off. It's still sore today, but otherwise looks fine. This is the first time I've ever been bitten by a dog- and it's one I've petted on numerous occasions no less! Note to self: I really don't care for yippy, shaky, nervous, bully, migit dogs! Grrrrrrr, OK thinking happy thoughts now- everybody sing along, "When the dog bites, when the bee stings, when I'm feeling sad... I simply remember my favorite things and then I don't feeeel sooooo baaaad."

Monday, March 06, 2006

'The Hound of Heaven'

This is an old, but thought-provoking poem:

The Art of Reconciliation

There are SO many walls dividing the hearts of people around the world. Many times it boils down to a mindset of "mine is better than yours". This attitude manifests itself in the following ways:
"My Country is greater"
"My Gender is stronger"
"My Opinions are more valid"
"My House is bigger"
"My Religious views are far superior"
"My Race is better than yours"
It seems so childlike to compare & boast like this. (Remember the "My Dad is stronger than your Dad" arguments back on the school playground?) Jesus came to level the playing field and bring us together. He was NOT arrogant but humble, viewing all men AND women as equal in the eyes of God. He befriended the outcasts, the poor, the sick, the down-trodden, sinful and forgotten. Why do we still behave in ways that promote separation? 2 Corinthians 5:14-21 says, "For the love of Christ motivates us, because The One has died for ALL, therefore all have died for sin. Jesus died for ALL so those who believe do not live for themselves, but for Him who for their sake died and was raised to life. From now on, therefore, we judge no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we do not regard Him in this way any longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he becomes a new creature. The old way has passed away and the new has come! All this is from God, Who through Christ reconciled all men unto Himself; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us a message of reconciliation. Therefore we are ambassadors for Christ, God making His appeal to all men through us. We implore you, on behalf of Christ to be reconciled to Almighty God." If God Himself does not view human-kind in varying degrees of value- can we work harder for unity, fellowship, understanding and peace?

Saturday, March 04, 2006

"Deep Thoughts"

If money can buy everything, why doesn't Donald Trump have better hair??

You can't have everything. After all, where would you put it??

You can own money up to a certain point, beyond that, your money begins to own you.

What good is a big house and a big yard, if you're never there because you're working too hard?

Friday, March 03, 2006

Can't Take it With You...

According to the dictionary, the word Ambition means: 1) Strong desire for fame and/or power. 2) Working toward the thing so desired. Laura Ingalls Wilder once wrote that "Ambition is a wonderful servant, but a terrible master". SO TRUE! Either we own and control our ambition or we are a slave to it. Look around and you will see people who have sacrificed friends, family, health and conscience for the sake of their Ambition and it's demanding sister named "Success". Who are you willing to step on in order to get where you want to be? How are you willing to compromise? What sacrifices will you lay on the altar of ambition?? This is one of the negative sides of Capitalism- it creates an ambitious, competitive society. But if one surrenders to their ambition in order to have "Success", there is an ugly secret. You see, success is a relative term. Someone who makes $150,000 a year may feel successful, but compared to someone who makes $350,000 it doesn't look so successful. Truth is, no matter what your talent is, or what you possess, there's always somebody out there who is better or has more. Don't compare! I think God set it up this way to help us see the futility of basing our self-worth on how much money, fame or power we have. Nothing in this life lasts! Not beauty or popularity. Riches can be lost by one bad investment, divorce or betrayal- then what? You can't take anything with you when you die. Truly, success is not a sin, the Bible tells us to "strive for excellence", but making a lot of money, micro-managing several businesses, or earning a star in Hollywood isn't necessarily equivalent to excellence. Many are addicted to fame because it makes them feel good inside and they will do whatever it takes to earn more applause. What God wants is for our ambition to be selfless. We should desire to help others, build each other up and reach out to the hurting ones in this life. Jesus advised us to "Store up treasure in Heaven where moth & rust cannot destroy and where thieves won't break in and steal". I no longer base my feelings of success on becoming a rich-n-famous musician. I am more free to love and be genuine this way. I'm learning to be content to live simply, enjoying time with the man I love. If I make someone smile, if I lighten a heavy load, if I can help someone else find hope again, if I raise well-adjusted children, if I am missed and remembered when my days on earth are done, then my ambition has not betrayed but blessed me...

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Exotic Beauty -vs- Simple Elegance

I've been thinking about flowers recently. They are popping up all over the place as Spring arrives in TN. Flowers remind me of people. There are SO many varieties, shapes & colors. According to florists, Roses are the most popular. Why? Well, because they are stunningly beautiful and have an intoxicating, sweet smell. Roses come in all kinds of colors, red, white, black, pink, yellow, peach- but they still have thorns. Though I certainly admire them, Roses aren't my favorite flowers. I associate them with sadness as they fade within 2-3 days after receiving them. They are delicate and don't last long before their petals wilt. My favorite flower is the Carnation. Why? They are cheerful, hearty little blooms that also come in a variety of colors. Far less costly than Roses, Carnations blend well with other buds and are enduring. With proper care, they last for weeks on my kitchen table. Their warm, spicy scent is subtle- not overpowering. They say genetically only certain people can actually smell the Carnation's perfume. I remember back in Highschool, I felt like a wall-flower among so many roses. The guys were ga-ga over the exotic beauties. Some of those girls were truly sweet, while others looked good, but vainly toyed with boys and left behind a chain of broken hearts. So many of my friends who were cute & kind were overlooked. Many of us would try to compete with the fairer ones, by being funny & friendly but we always got the cold shoulder. I'm older now. As I look around, I see many of the "roses" have faded somewhat and I am content to be simply elegant. I don't feel a need to be the most stunningly beautiful woman around. Why? Because my heart is growing, it's not all about "me" anymore and somebody loves me. I'm learning to accept myself for who I am. My husband tells me I'm getting better with age. Is he correct in saying so? I don't know, but it makes me feel good to hear it anyway. If you were a flower, what kind would you be & why?

My New Friend...

I have a new friend Reina. She has a beautiful voice, lovely eyes and a warm spirit both sensitive and spiritual. I very much enjoyed meeting this woman of God and her husband during the musical- we bonded very quickly. They are humble and sincere people. We were able to share testimonies about what the Lord is doing in our lives and cried together because of His goodness to us. Were I still of the mindset that MY church alone has truth, that everyone else is "compromising" and that I should never associate with anyone else besides the "remnant", I would have missed this wonderful opportunity to make a new friend in Christ. Her testimony verified that God has indeed been leading in my life, because He has worked in both of us in similar ways. Thank you, Reina for the blessing you have been to me! You are truly a kindred spirit and I hope we will have plenty more opportunities to visit and pray together...