Wednesday, January 31, 2007

To Make You Think

Here are some thoughts from Beth Moore that have been "simmering" in my mind over the past week or so:
  • Part of spiritual maturity is ceasing to equate hard with bad. . . Just because it is easy, does not make it good.
  • Sometimes we don't have a knowledge problem, we have an obedience problem.
  • Nothing sin can give us can be worth what it takes from us.
  • If we are full of ourselves, we cannot be full of the Holy Spirit.

Just wanted to share these for reflection. Please pray for my spunky 5-year-old daughter who has been running a low fever for a couple of days. Our house is strangely quiet without her usually ever-present, precious singing and talking.


Sunday, January 28, 2007

Where I'm From

This is something I originally saw at Mississippi Girl and included in one of my first blog entries. I would love to "tag" anyone who wishes to join in. I thought it was a lot of fun. Just click here for the template and leave me a comment if you do, so I can come read yours!


I am from the mountains of East Tennessee, from meadows and creeks, from fireflies and playing barefoot past dark.
I am from honeysuckle, from big oak trees with tire swings.
I am from family dinners and volleyball, I am from ministers, teachers, and farmers, from laughter and loyalty.
From making mudpies and putting on shows with my brother and cousins, from family celebrations, beach trips, from acres of land, from acting in plays and family devotions.
I am from a family of Christian ministry, not perfect but marked by struggle and perseverance, from Baptist hymns, cover dish suppers, and mission trips. I am from a wise and loving father who played with me before reading the paper at night and from an incredibly creative and talented mother who inspires me. From growing up with a brother who was my best friend and is now one of my heroes.
I am from the South, sweet tea and biscuits.
From moving five times before the age of 8, from the athletic grandmother I never knew, from singing with my brother, and from boardgames.
I am from being tucked in, believed in, and shown grace. I am from a place that has lovingly prepared me for where I am going. I am from a place of blessing that I did not deserve and am grateful for every day.

Friday, January 26, 2007

A Kind of Magic

One of the books I am presently reading is a novel by Diane Setterfield called "The Thirteenth Tale." I am really enjoying it and will share my thoughts on the book as a whole when I finish. I have noted quite a few passages along the way that have provoked some reflection on my part. This is the first:

People disappear when they die. Their voice, their laughter, the warmth of their breath. Their flesh. Eventually their bones. All living memory of them ceases. This is both dreadful and natural. Yet for some there is an exception to this annihilation. For in books they write, they continue to exist. We can rediscover them. Their humor, their tone of voice, their moods. Through the written word they can anger you or make you happy. They can comfort you. They can perplex you. They can alter you. All this, even though they are dead. Like flies in amber, like corpses frozen in ice, that which according to the laws of nature should pass away is, by the miracle of ink on paper, preserved. It is a kind of magic.

Of course, as Christians, we have an eternal perspective and know that we do not "disappear" when we die, but in every earthly way, we do. We cease to exist and impact this world. As generations pass and our direct influence on those around us is gone, in a sense, we disappear. I do believe that through our actions and the way we influence that we create a heritage of faith that reverberates over time, but this passage caused me to reflect on the power of the written word.

I guess this struck a chord with me because I do enjoy reading so much. I think there is something to note in the fact that God chose to share with us through the written word. It is concrete, yet abstract in many ways. At different times in our lives, it comes to mean different things to us. Passages once empty for us, become alive with meaning. People from long ago impact us, becoming real and living through what we read.

Also, a book freezes in time the author's thoughts and reflections, giving us clues about them. A novel written at one time in an author's life might never have come into existence at another time in their life, because in many ways, we are products of our experiences. Of course autobiographies, biographies, and personal journals give us a very direct glimpse into someone's life, but fiction and other non-fiction sources also reflect a part of the author. I think that is why so many of us feel a connection with certain authors--we feel as though we know them. I know many of us have authors we feel that way about--from Laura Ingalls Wilder to Elisabeth Elliot to Jane Austen.

My favorite line from this passage is - "They can alter you." This has been so true in my life. Authors, through their written words, have altered me. Their personal thoughts have influenced and changed me. I will never forget reading "The Hiding Place" by Corrie ten Boom or "The Celebration of Discipline" by Richard Foster, among many others that have impacted me. God used those books to grow me in numerous ways--I was altered.

Even more so, I have been altered by Scripture. God has breathed His truth into me through the words written by men, but inspired by Him. Amazing! It is truly a kind of magic.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

What I Love About the South

I was born and raised in the South. I count this a blessing. I get a bit irritated at the stereotypes that are portrayed in the media at times. Every part of the country has its positive and negative qualities but I wanted to take a moment to share some of the things that I love about the South. By no means are the things listed below exclusive to the South, but just reflect my personal experience. Also, the South itself is diverse, so some might not apply to all areas or states.

1) Sweet tea!

2) Rocking chairs and front porches - and the long, summer evenings spent there.

3) Grits - I about fell out of my chair when a classmate in grad school said she had never eaten grits (she was from New York).

4) SEC football

5) Southern hospitality - it is for real!

6) Picking out pumpkins at the pumpkin patch.

7) Farmer's Market - my kids love going on Saturday mornings in the summer.

8) Church-wide cover dish suppers

9) Heritage of gospel, bluegrass, and country music

10) Manners - I just heard today a newscaster say how he loves how kids in the South still say "yes sir" and "yes ma'am" in the South.

11) Honeysuckle and fireflies (or lightning bugs, as we called them)

12) the Southern accent, which comes in many forms - Y'all know what I'm talkin' about

13) Barbecue, pinto beans, cornbread, homemade apple pie & banana pudding

These are just a few, and I would love to hear from you southern girls what you love most about living in or growing up in the South.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007


Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
--Hebrews 12:1-2

We can be entangled by so many things. I attended a women's conference this past weekend that focused on this piece of scripture. We were challenged to identify those things that entangle us--and throw them off! We carry our sin around like heavy shopping bags, weighing us down, burdening us. This is not what Christ died for--for us to live in bondage, but rather to live victory through His resurrection power. Our speaker stressed that we must repent and submit to Him and claim the promises of forgiveness, cleansing, and healing (2 Chronicles 7:14; I John 1:9).

My prayer is that we ladies will get rid of the excess baggage and live in victory! I have been examining myself over the past few days to identify those burdens that I must throw off. Here is a list we were given to get us thinking about potential entanglements. Some are tough but necessary to answer for ourselves.

Feelings of inferiority?
Fear of failure?
Do not give God the glory?
Fail to be a witness for Christ?
Find fault?
Critical spirit?
Angry with self . . . or others?
Careless with your body?
Attend worship in body only?
Neglect own personal time with the Lord?
Exaggerate - don't tell things as they really are?
Have a lustful eye toward the opposite sex?
Fill mind with things of the world - not on things above?
Secretly pleased at the misfortunes of others?
Jealous of others' successes?
Have you not forgiven someone?
Do you waste time?
Are you "money" hungry?
Are you a "fake"?
Enjoy listening to gossip?
Do you pass gossip on?
Do you believe rumors or partial truths?
Do you neglect to thank God for all things?
Throw these things off! Live in victory!

Monday, January 22, 2007

Finger Prayers

Just thought I would pass on this simple way to pray for others. Great to use with young children--gives them an illustration and guide for their prayers.

  • Your thumb is the digit nearest to your heart, so pray first for those
    who are closest to you. Members of your family, friends, neighbors and your own needs as well.

  • The second finger is the one used for pointing. Pray for those who point you toward the truth, whether at church or school. Pray for your teachers, mentors, pastors, and those who inspire your faith.

  • The third finger is the tallest. Let it stand for the leaders in every sphere of life. Pray for those in authority-both within the body of Christ and those who hold offices in various areas of government.

  • The fourth finger is the weakest, as every pianist knows. Let it stand for those who are in trouble and pain-the sick, injured, abused, wounded, or hurt.

  • The little finger is the smallest. Let is stand for those who often go unnoticed, including those who suffer abuse and deprivation.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

A Multiplicity of Patches

In the past few years I have become fascinated with quilts. The heritage of of quilt-making in our nation is rich. Before scrapbooking, stamping, and other popular craft hobbies of today, there was quilting, sewing, needlepoint, knitting, and so on. Initially these "hobbies" were necessary diversions, not just a creative outlet. Women of past generations clothed their families and decorated their homes through these "hobbies"--there was no Pottery Barn, Target, or Pier 1 (ouch!)

I am not saying that I wish to go back to those days, but I do long for a greater connection to simplicity of life of that era-not that is was easy at all, just less cluttered. I love to look in antique shops at old quilts and marvel at the creativity that is displayed. Many are patchwork quilts made from pieces of fabric left over from a multitude of other projects, artfully put together to make something not only useful, but beautiful.

I took a quilt class about a year and a half ago--this was quite an experience for someone who had NEVER sewed in her life. I learned so much and was pleased with the baby quilt that I was able to make for my niece. What I probably enjoyed the most was getting to know other ladies in the class and the ladies who worked at the quilt shop. I was the "young 'un" of the group. It made me think of how women used to get together for quilting bees--what a time of fellowship, a place for women of all ages to connect. Although we have ladies' groups in churches and communities, it seems we have lost the need to depend on one another like they seemed to years ago. We are more isolated. I think maybe that is why so many of us enjoy blogging--a way to connect. This is a God-given, built-in desire for us. God created us to be in relationship with Him and with each other.


Some great children's books on quilting are Rag Coat by Lauren Mills and The Quilting Bee by Gail Gibbons.


I also love the stories that many quilts tell and the metaphors that can be derived from quilting. One of my favorite movies, How to Make an American Quilt based on the book by Whitney Otto, interweaves the story of a group of friends and their lives as they make a wedding quilt together. Here is one of my favorite quotes:

Young lovers seek perfection. Old lovers learn the art of sewing shreds together and seeing beauty in a multiplicity of patches.
Isn't that so true? When we are young, we seek perfection in everything, most often for prideful reasons. As we get older, we learn to be content with where we are in life. I am not saying that we shouldn't strive for excellence, but we should also see the beauty in where God has placed us. I once read, "Contentment is destroyed by comparison." I desire to be satisfied with what God has given me and see the beauty in a "multiplicity of patches."

Thursday, January 18, 2007

My Rights

"What about my rights?" This is such a common cry we hear these days-even as Christians. We can get all bent out of shape when we feel our rights have been violated. While there are times of valid concern in this area, this prevalent attitude seems to stem from the self-focused nature of our society. This proves to be a seductive problem for many Christians today--for me! By allowing myself to shift focus onto what I am entitled to, I take them off of Christ and His desire for my life.

God is really teaching me that the reality of the Chrisitan life demands that we forego our rights. I am currently doing the study Living Beyond Yourself, and Beth Moore points out that foregoing our rights is a characteristic of the crucified life.

I have been crucifed with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. (Galatians 2:20)

Christ is my example for this. He could have "called ten thousand angels" or spoken in His own defense, but made the decision to forego His rights to be the ultimate sacrifice for us. God is speaking to me that I must surrender as Christ did.

You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. (I Corinthians 6:20)

Even when I want to claim my rights, as a Christian, the truth is that I cannot. I am not my own, but bought with a price. While the world might see this as bondage--it is actually freedom! Below are the lyrics to a song by Ginny Owens that capture much of what is in my heart.

Got a stack of books so I could learn how to live;
Many are left half-read covered by the cobwebs on my shelf.
And I got a list of laws growing longer everyday;
If I keep pluggin' away, maybe one day I'll perfect myself.
Oh, but all of my labor seems to be in vain;
And all of my laws just cause me more pain;
So I fall before You in all of my shame;
Ready and willing to be changed

Own me, take all that I am,
and heal me with the blood of the Lamb.
Mold me with Your gracious hand;
Break me till I'm only Yours-
Own me

You call me Daughter,
And You take my blame;
And You run to meet me,
When I cry out Your name,
So I fall before You in all of my shame,
Lord, I am willing to be changed

Own me, take all that I am,
and heal me with the blood of the Lamb.
Mold me with Your gracious hand;
Break me till I'm only Yours-
Own me

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

5 Great Lessons

Enjoy these 5 stories that illustrate lessons that life teaches us. I wish I could note where I got this--it has been in my files for ages since my mom shared it with me. These are great!

First Important Lesson ~ Everyone is significant.
During my second month of nursing school, our professor gave us a pop quiz. I was a conscientious student and had breezed through the questions, until I read the last one "What is the first name of the woman who cleans the school? Surely this was some kind of joke. I had seen the cleaning woman several times. She was tall, dark-haired and in her 50s, but how would I know her name? I handed in my paper, leaving the last question blank. Just before class ended, one student asked if the last question would count toward our quiz grade. "Absolutely," said the professor. "In your careers, you will meet many people. All are significant. They deserve your attention and care, even if all you do is smile and say 'hello'." "I've never forgotten that lesson. I also learned her name was Dorothy.

Second Important Lesson~ Pickup in the Rain
One night, at 11:30 PM, an older African American woman was standing on the side of an Alabama highway trying to endure a lashing rainstorm. Her car had broken down and she desperately needed a ride. Soaking wet, she decided to flag down the next car. A young white man stopped to help her, generally unheard of in those conflict-filled 1960s. The man took her to safety, helped her get assistance and put her into a taxi cab. She seemed to be in a big hurry, but wrote down his address and thanked him. Seven days went by and a knock came on the man's door. To his surprise, a giant console color TV was delivered to his home. A special note was attached. It read: "Thank you so much for assisting me on the highway the other night. The rain drenched not only my clothes, but also my spirits. Then you came along. Because of you, I was able to make it to my dying husband's bedside just before he passed away. God bless you for helping me and unselfishly serving others."
Sincerely, Mrs. Nat King Cole

Third Important Lesson ~Always remember those who serve you.
In the days when an ice cream sundae cost much less, a 10 year old boy entered a hotel coffee shop and sat at a table. A waitress put a glass of water in front of him. "How much is an ice cream sundae?" he asked. "Fifty cents," replied the waitress. The little boy pulled his hand out of his pocket and studied the coins in it." Well, how much is a plain dish of ice cream?" he inquired. By now more people were waiting for a table and the waitress was growing impatient.
"Thirty-five cents," she brusquely replied." The little boy again counted his coins.
"I'll have the plain ice cream," he said. The waitress brought the ice cream, put the bill on the table and walked away. The boy finished the ice cream, paid the cashier and left. When the waitress came back, she began to cry as she wiped down the table. There, placed neatly beside the empty dish, were two nickels and five pennies – You see, he couldn't have the sundae, because he had to have enough left to leave her a tip.

Fourth Important Lesson ~ The Obstacle in Our Path
In ancient times, a King had a boulder placed on a roadway. Then he hid himself and watched to see if anyone would remove the huge rock. Some of the king's wealthiest merchants and courtiers came by and simply walked around it. Many loudly blamed the king for not keeping the roads clear, but none did anything about getting the stone out of the way. Then a peasant
came along carrying a load of vegetables. Upon approaching the boulder, the peasant laid down his burden and tried to move the stone to the side of the road. After much pushing and straining, he finally succeeded. After the peasant picked up his load of vegetables, he noticed a purse lying in the road where the boulder had been. The purse contained many gold coins and a note from the king indicating that the gold was for the person who removed the boulder from the roadway. The peasant learned what many of us never understand. Every obstacle presents an opportunity to improve our condition.

Fifth Important Lesson ~ Giving When it Counts
Many years ago, when I worked as a volunteer at a hospital, I got to know a little girl named Liz who was suffering from a rare and serious disease. Her only chance of recovery appeared to be a blood transfusion from her 5-year old brother, who had miraculously survived the same disease and had developed the antibodies needed to combat the illness. The doctor explained the situation to her little brother, and asked the little boy if he would be willing to give his blood to his sister. I saw him hesitate for only a moment before taking a deep breath and saying, "Yes, I'll do it if it will save her.." As the transfusion progressed, he lay in bed next to his sister and smiled as we all did, seeing the color returning to her cheeks. Then his face grew pale and his smile faded. He looked up at the doctor and asked with a trembling voice, "Will I start to die right away?" Being young, the little boy had misunderstood the doctor; he thought he was going to have to give his sister all of his blood in order to save her. You see understanding and attitude, after all, is everything.

"Work like you don't need the money.
Love like you've never been hurt,
Dance like you do when you think no one is watching."

Sunday, January 14, 2007

A Sphere of Influence

How do you use the fearful gift of influence? At its best, it teaches, nurtures, encourages, exhorts, evangelizes, and disciples. At worst, it cripples and kills. The line between influence and manipulation is extremely fine. Influence is so easy to use, it's frightening. Maybe it's the reason God exhorts us to "gentle and quiet" spirits. We need to think before we speak and act.

God has really gotten a hold of me this week through two Bible studies that I am doing. The question posed by Beth Moore in Living Beyond Yourself above--"How do you use the fearful gift of influence?" brought some reflection in my heart.

Beth points out that women have been given a "most wonderful and terrible" gift--the power of influence. This is so true--all the way back to Eve! As wives and mothers, we have a special sphere of influence with our family. Our words and actions often dictate the tone of our home. We can choose to use our influence to build up and point to Christ or to manipulate for selfish gain. There is a very deceptive and thin line distinguishing the two.

I have felt especially convicted this week to recommit myself to a "gentle and quiet" spirit--to think carefully and purposefully about using my influence to make our home a place where Christ is reflected and glorified.

Be encouraged, my bloggy friends, in your high calling to influence your home for the Kingdom. Amidst dirty diapers, piles of laundry, and grey hairs is a precious sphere of influence that belongs to you alone.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Glimpse of Heaven

I posted last week about the Passion '07 Conference attended by over 20,000 college students. I thought I would give you a small glimpse by posting this song from last year's Passion Conference in Nashville.

My brother was there and said he had never had a corporate worship experience quite like this. It was the last night of the conference. The over 18,000 students and leaders returned from breakout groups and sat in the arena in complete silence for an hour guided by words and throughts on a screen reflecting on Christ. Then they were led in this precious hymn and chorus by Kristian Stanfill and the Passion team.

This video brings tears to my eyes! For me, this is about as close to experiencing what heaven is going to be like that we can get. Multitudes praising Him together with hands lifted high. We will come together across nationality, denomination, music preference, culture, and so many other diferences to praise our Lord in unison. Won't that be amazing?

Tuesday, January 09, 2007


I have been tagged by my friend, Kim! Here were the instructions:

1) Grab the book closest to you.
2) Open to page 123, go down to the 4th sentence.
3) Post the text of the following 3 sentences on your blog.
4) Name the author and book title.
5) Tag 3 people to do the same.

I grabbed The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning sitting on the corner of my desk from the Fall Reading Challenge.

We don't like the sight of ourselves as we really are, so we try cosmetics, makeup, the right light, and the proper accessories to develop an acceptable image of ourselves. We rely on the stylish disguise that has made us look good or at least look away from our true self. Self -deception mortgages our sinfulness and prevents us from seeing ourselves as we really are-ragamuffins.
Whoa! Not easy words to hear, especially for us ladies. Why do we have such a hard time embracing who God made us to be? Why do we seek to present ourselves in the way we believe is the "right" way? I can be so guilty of wanting to hide aspects about myself that I perceive to be "broken" or "not desirable." Through this, I do not acknowledge that He is strong through my weakness--that He is exalted through any accomplishment or success I might attain. By not calling myself a ragamuffin-a sinner in need of a Savior, I cheapen the grace He extends me.
I do desire and will continue to strive to be authentic--I believe that this "realness" brings growth.

Kim at Lifesong mentioned how we can often do this in the blogworld and she is mulling some thoughts on a post on this topic. I am anxious to read her reflections!

I am now tagging Chris, Lisa, and Paula.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

What's your Bible study method?

I know that many of us are involved with various Bible studies and other reading, but I was curious to hear from you guys about your approach to Bible study. Recently I have read about the Life Journal that Chris uses and the Bible journaling method that Diane uses. Both sound like amazing ways to learn, and I would really like to try these in the future.

This year my husband and I are reading the Daily Bible to do a broad, chronological study of scripture. I am typically an ESV reader, so will be cross-referencing a bit. I also like to journal reflections, as well as use various commentaries and word study resources. I also recently purchased a new Bible atlas which I am really excited about-- I like to visualize when I read.

What are some of the Bible study methods that you use? What study tools do you enjoy?

Thursday, January 04, 2007

268 Generation

God has called me to work college students over the past 12 years in various part-time and full-time capacities-teaching, coaching, residence life, and mentoring. I have a deep love for this group. The college years are such an exciting time of growth-a time of making many significant life decisions. Students are "taking flight" and making their faith their own in many ways. I love the passion and the eagerness to learn & serve that I see in students I work with. They are praying for God's direction--many going to seminary and to the Journeyman program. I have one former student in Central Asia and one leaving next month for Africa.

Unfortunately, it is also a time that Satan relentlessly attacks them through pornography, materialism, body image issues, eating disoders, depression, etc. He desperately wants to prevent all that promise and passion from impacting the world for God's glory.

Over 20,000 college students from all the states and numerous countries around the world converged on Atlanta this past week for the Passion Conference, targeting 18-25 year-olds. It is a time of learning, worshiping, and catching a vision for the lost world around them and their role in reaching it. Speakers included John Piper, Beth Moore, Francis Chan, and Louie Giglio. Please pray for these students as they return to their campuses and communities. Pray that their enthusiasm and desire to know & serve Christ will be encouraged and nurtured in their churches.

For more information on Passion, click here. From this site, you can also access each session online and enjoy the worship time and speakers.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007


Renovate: to renew; to restore to life; to impart a new vigor to; to repair or improve something
As I reflected on the new year, one word kept coming to mind - renovate. One reason might be that we are in the middle of renovating a new home on 8 acres we purchased last year (actually my husband is doing the renovating-I can't take credit). It is a long process of tearing away the old and run down, and replacing it with a new, more solid structure.

As I think about this word, I know that my heart needs to be renovated - to be restored, to be renewed, to be imparted with new vigor, and in many cases, repaired or improved. This is a slow, often painful, process. The result , though, is a more solid struture on a firm foundation. I so long to be a solid stucture for the Lord--to be used by Him for His glory.

Therefore, I am adopting the idea of renovation as my theme for 2007.

"Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me." (ESV)