Monday, November 26, 2012

My Church Family

At church this weekend, our Pastor opened the mics up to anyone who wanted to share a "Thank you".  I just had to say that I am thankful for my family and my church family.  Of course, my family is awesome.  Anyone who has known any member of my family knows how blessed I am.  Wonderful parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, brothers, sister-in-laws, nieces, nephews, not to mention my fantastic children, and grandchildren.  What did I ever do to deserve such a family?

But I have to admit that I am just as blessed when it comes to my church family.  Without them I do not think I could have made it through these past 19 months.  They are a constant source of strength and courage.  They pray for me relentlessly.  They encourage me regularly.  I cannot imagine going through life without them.

Of course, Mom and Dad always encouraged us to be an active part of a good local church.  I know I would not be where I am in my walk with the Lord today had it not been for all the churches I have been a part of in various parts of the world throughout my life but I am especially grateful for First United Methodist Church in Springfield, IL.  Even though I definitely grew up Baptist and do not believe everything the Methodist Church as a denomination teaches, I love my church!  I am grateful that God led me to this church for this phase of my life.

Mom and Dad loved this church, too.  They tried to plan their visits with me so they could attend services if at all possible.  In particular they had come to the Easter services here for several years.  Easter Sunday, April 24, 2011 was the last church service they attended in this world and it was here at my church.

If you do not have a church home, I urge you to find one.  If you live in the Springfield area, I invite you to visit my church.  While we are still in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I just wanted to give a big "shout-out" to my church, my Sunday School teachers, my Bible study gals, my pastors ~ too many to name here personally!  Thank you for all you have done for me and for carrying me through the most difficult time in my life!  I love you all!

Ephesians 1:20-23 (The Message)

All this energy issues from Christ: God raised him from death and set him on a throne in deep heaven, in charge of running the universe, everything from galaxies to governments, no name and no power exempt from his rule. And not just for the time being, but forever. He is in charge of it all, has the final word on everything. At the center of all this, Christ rules the church. The church, you see, is not peripheral to the world; the world is peripheral to the church. The church is Christ’s body, in which he speaks and acts, by which he fills everything with his presence.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


Sometimes people ask me how I can be happy, go on with my life, smile, etc since Mom and Dad were murdered.  Sometimes I do not but for the most part I do.  I have so much to be thankful for...really.  I am not just saying that.  I mean it from the bottom of my heart.

God keeps using me and blessing me in huge ways.  I have an amazing, loving family.  I have good relationships with my children and grandchildren.  I have wonderful friends.  I have a job I enjoy and fun people working with me.  My church is a blessing to me.  My pastors care about me and pray for me. 

This blog would be very long if I tried to name everyone who has blessed me and supported me.  But without them I doubt I would even be writing this at all.  God has provided richly for me. 

God knows what I need long before I have any inkling that I even need anything.  Nothing that happens to me comes as a surprise to God.  Where would I be without my family?  My church?  My Christian friends and mentors?  My fellow Bible study ladies?  My workplace?  I cannot imagine going through the past 19 months without them.

It does not matter what my circumstances are in this broken world.  My joy is in my Lord who loves me with all His heart.  After all, He gave His only Son to save me!  If you are going through difficult times this Thanksgiving season, I implore you to examine your life and make a list of all the things you can be thankful for.  If you start with the little things, it will not be long until you see the big things that God has provided for you as well.

Psalm 100 (The Message)

A Thanksgiving Psalm

 On your feet now—applaud God!
    Bring a gift of laughter,
    sing yourselves into his presence.
 Know this: God is God, and God, God.
    He made us; we didn’t make him.
    We’re his people, his well-tended sheep. 
 Enter with the password: “Thank you!”
    Make yourselves at home, talking praise.
    Thank him. Worship him.
 For God is sheer beauty,
    all-generous in love,
    loyal always and ever.

Saturday, November 17, 2012


I had an opportunity to spend a little time talking to Sherry Pittman late this afternoon.  She called me yesterday to see if she could interview me about the jail ministry on her TV show, "Survive and Thrive with Sherry".  I have known Sherry for a number of years as a fellow Christian and Realtor but I did not know that she had a TV show.  Of course, I was thrilled to be able to share the blessings God has poured out on me through the jail ministry.

I was just as excited to get to know Sherry a little bit better and learn some of the interesting things she was doing with her life!  Sherry is a remarkable woman who has accomplished a lot.  One of the things she is doing now is life coaching.  As we talked she shared that she is planning an upcoming seminar and one of the things she wanted to include was a segment on journaling.  She asked if I might think about sharing some of the ways writing has been good for me.

Little did she know that not only is writing a wonderful way for me to deal with losing Mom and Dad in such a horrific way but their journals have been a great comfort to me in the months since they were so abruptly taken from us.  I literally have boxes of notebooks and journals that Mom and Dad both wrote in on a fairly regular basis.  In their writings, they each shared daily events and spiritual awakenings.  How powerful to see how God worked in their lives!

I am truly grateful to have this rich resource.  It was a big part of what inspired me to begin this blog.  I now realize the importance of recording my own journey.  Not only is it healing to me but it helps me to keep a handle on reality.  I trust it will also help my children and grandchildren as they grow in the Lord.

If you don't journal (or the old fashioned term - write in a diary), please consider regularly writing down just one or two things that speak to you.  It does not have to be lengthy and it does not have to be daily.  Just a sentence or two every few days can help you a great deal.  If nothing else, at least keep a prayer journal.  Jot down the things you are praying for and when you see an answer to that prayer make a quick note of how it was answered.  Not only will it help you to remember everything you want to pray about, it will increase your faith as you see answers to prayer.

Psalm 102:18-22 (The Message)

Write this down for the next generation
    so people not yet born will praise God:
God looked out from his high holy place;
    from heaven he surveyed the earth.
He listened to the groans of the doomed,
    he opened the doors of their death cells.”
Write it so the story can be told in Zion,
    so God’s praise will be sung in Jerusalem’s streets
And wherever people gather together
    along with their rulers to worship him.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Cry Out to God

In my ladies group, I am leading a study on prayer.  In our meeting tonight I was struck at how much we are all growing in our prayer life and in our walk with God.  As I drove home I was thinking about the daily prayer guide that Dad and I wrote together for my church several years ago.  There was one segment that Dad wrote and sent me that I did not include in the guide.  Not because I did not like it but it just did not fit into the book that the guide was accompanying.  I would like to share it with you.  Here is what Dad wrote in his e-mail to me:

It seemed to me you may have taken material from different sections. Thats OK, I will just send you what ever I get done and you can redo as needed to fit your program.
Here is one I wrote today: (you may recognize it)
A killer storm was brewing out in the Pacific, heading toward the Island of Guam. The missionary and his family boarded up their windows and made preparations as best they could.
Family devotions were being conducted when the raging winds began ripping the roof off and the ceiling lifted up and waffled before settling down again. The missionary knew the roof, ceiling and all was going to go and began to make preprations for his family to be safe, when his daughter came running up to him saying, "Let's pray daddy, let's pray." The missionary told her to pray and pray she did. She cried out to God asking Him to save us, and protect us from the howling wind.  He felt it necessary to get mattresses nailed into place with books stacked up forming pillars to hold the mattress up in case something fell on top of the children.
The last nails were driven and the children safely under the matress when the roof was completely blown away by winds that exceded 200 MPH. The wind blew the back door in, cabinets flew open, and a big piano was flung across the room. But God kept the family safe from all harm.
In times of distress, CRY OUT TO GOD! The Israelites did it numerous times and God saved them. Apply Psa. 107:6 and 107:31

Of course, this was autobiographical.  The missionary in this story was my Dad and the little girl was me.  God brought us through that harrowing night as only God can! 

Psalm 107:6 (New Living Translation)

Lord, help!” they cried in their trouble,
    and he rescued them from their distress.

Psalm 107:31 (New Living Translation)

Let them praise the Lord for his great love
    and for the wonderful things he has done for them.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Actively Waiting

I think one of the most important things I learned from Mom and Dad is that there is always more to learn.  Mom actively studied her Bible and one of her favorite ways was through Bible Study Fellowship.  Not only did she do that very intense study every week but she spent time in the Word every day.

Dad, too, spent hours every day studying and praying that God would teach him more.  They spent time in the Word together nearly every day as well.  It was important to them to remain in the Word.  Both of them would readily admit they had a lot to learn.

That is one of the beautiful things about the mystery of God.  There are so many layers to uncover!  As I have contemplated the subject of faith the past 10 days or so I have been reminded of the fact that I can never become complacent in my studies! 

I thought I knew a lot about faith.  After all, Mom & Dad taught me a lot about faith just through the way they lived their lives.  I have done my own studies on faith and I felt I had grown a lot in faith thought the past 55 years but I still have so much to learn!

After writing a few blogs recently on the subject of faith requiring both action and waiting God began speaking to me about actively waiting.  What?  Wait actively?  How does that work?

Dr Henry Blackaby said, "Biblically, waiting on the Lord is never passive; it is always active.  Waiting require us to cease our own pursuits and give God our complete attention.  We may have to give up some of the activities we have allowed to inundate our lives.  We may need to take an entire day to sit quietly before the Lord.  If we ask Him, God will show us the resources He has provided to help with the work we have been attempting on our own.  God may address feelings of guilt that have motivated us to do things that he has not asked us to do.  Jesus carried more responsibility than you do.  More people needed Him than will ever need you.  Yet He was never overwhelmed or inadequate for the task.  Now Christ offers to guide you so that you will fulfill your heavenly Father's will and gain the strength necessary for each day."

Hmm, I may be doing things, perhaps many good things, that are not things God has called me to do.  When I feel overwhelmed I really need to examine what I am doing.  Am I in God's Will for my life?  If I am doing the things God called me to do, am I trying to do it in my own strength and not actively waiting on God?

Matthew 11:28-30 (The Message)

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Wait? Act!

One last thought on the WAIT or ACT controversy.  My son said, "Mom, I'm confused.  You had me all ready to ACT and then you said WAIT.  What do I do?"

It's pretty simple, really.  God promised Joshua he would win the battle.  In order to win a battle you have to show up for the fight, so Joshua started marching.

When David could have easily taken Saul's life, he would not.  Yes, it would have been a shortcut to becoming king and it would have saved David years of fighting for his own life.  But David did not want to become king that way. 

If your action would at worst go against Scripture and at best it would be questionable or find yourself justifying your action, most likely you need to wait.  However if God promises you victory in a battle then show up for the fight with your weapons cleaned, sharpened and ready to go.  And if you need to march all night to get there, take your pj's off, put your hiking boots on and get moving!

Want to follow Christ?  ACTION is REQUIRED!

Matthew 25:34-40 (The Message)

 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Enter, you who are blessed by my Father! Take what’s coming to you in this kingdom. It’s been ready for you since the world’s foundation. And here’s why:
I was hungry and you fed me,
I was thirsty and you gave me a drink,
I was homeless and you gave me a room,
I was shivering and you gave me clothes,
I was sick and you stopped to visit,
I was in prison and you came to me.’
 “Then those ‘sheep’ are going to say, ‘Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you a drink? And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you?’ Then the King will say, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me.’

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Faith Needs Action - But Wait!

I know that in yesterdays post I talked about the importance of putting our faith into action in order to see God moving powerfully in our lives but I want to add a caution ~ WAIT!

Most of the time when God is calling us to something it requires us to step out in faith - ACT!  But sometimes God says wait. I have been re-reading a daily devotional book that Mom and Dad gave me for Christmas in 2005.  It's entitled Experiencing God Day-By-Day by Dr. Henry Blackaby and Dr. Richard Blackaby.

In today's reading they talked about how we can be tempted to take shortcuts to God's will for our lives.  Sometimes we think we need to help move things along because God's timing is not our timing.  They referred to 1 Samuel 26 when David and his men had an opportunity to kill Saul.

The background to this is that God had called David to be the next king of Israel.  The only problem is that Saul was still king.  Because Saul knew David had been anointed as the next king by the prophet Samuel, Saul wanted to kill David.  He had been relentlessly pursing David.

In chapter 26 David and his men had entered the kings camp while Saul and his men were sleeping.  David's comrade, Abishai held his spear above the king and begged David to let him kill Davids enemy.  But David refused.  What would have been so wrong for them to kill the enemy when David was chosen by God to be the next king?  David knew it was against Scripture.  You see, God will never call you to do anything contrary to His Word.

So how do we know when to act and when to wait?  We must listen to Gods voice and be in the Word, hide it in your heart, and listen.  God will speak to you.

David could have killed Saul right then and there and become king right away but David wanted to be in Gods will and in Gods time.  Resist the urge to help God out ~ wait on Him.  But when God calls you to step out in faith, act.  

1 Samuel 26:7-11 (The Message)

So David and Abishai entered the encampment by night, and there he was—Saul, stretched out asleep at the center of the camp, his spear stuck in the ground near his head, with Abner and the troops sound asleep on all sides.
 Abishai said, “This is the moment! God has put your enemy in your grasp. Let me nail him to the ground with his spear. One hit will do it, believe me; I won’t need a second!”
 But David said to Abishai, “Don’t you dare hurt him! Who could lay a hand on God’s anointed and even think of getting away with it?”
 He went on, “As God lives, either God will strike him, or his time will come and he’ll die in bed, or he’ll fall in battle, but God forbid that I should lay a finger on God’s anointed. Now, grab the spear at his head and the water jug and let’s get out of here.”

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Faith Needs Action

God always has a way of working on me in a multitude of ways.  When God is working on a particular area with me I seem to hear about it everywhere from all different sources.  I do not think it is because I am so special, but rather because I am a very slow learner!  My latest lesson is faith.  I have heard about it in a sermon by Dr. Ross at church, in teachings on the radio and TV, in Dr. Stanleys CD's I talked about the other day, in my own Scripture reading and Bible study, in a text from a friend...I think you get the idea.

In the past few weeks, God has pounded me with the fact that action must accompany faith.  Of course, Mom and Dad exemplified this throughout their lives.  When God called them to a new ministry, they stepped out in faith.  God used them in mighty ways because they consistently acted upon their faith.

One other place I received this lesson was in a book I read recently entitled "Sun Stand Still" by Steven Furtick, which I highly recommend.  Steven talked about how faith has to have action or it is not really faith at all.  When we pray and ask God for something but then we do not step out in faith, our prayers lack power.  The author has based his book (and hence the title) on Joshua 10:7-13.  I am quoting below from The Message version:

So Joshua set out from Gilgal, his whole army with him—all those tough soldiers! God told him, “Don’t give them a second thought. I’ve put them under your thumb—not one of them will stand up to you.”
Joshua marched all night from Gilgal and took them by total surprise. God threw them into total confusion before Israel, a major victory at Gibeon. Israel chased them along the ridge to Beth Horon and fought them all the way down to Azekah and Makkedah. As they ran from the People of Israel, down from the Beth Horon ridge and all the way to Azekah, God pitched huge stones on them out of the sky and many died. More died from the hailstones than the People of Israel killed with the sword.
The day God gave the Amorites up to Israel, Joshua spoke to God, with all Israel listening:

“Stop, Sun, over Gibeon;
Halt, Moon, over Aijalon Valley.”
And Sun stopped,
Moon stood stock still
Until he defeated his enemies.

In this text, Joshua was leading Israel into battle.  God had promised them he would be with them.  In the heat of the battle, Israel's enemies were dropping like flies but as the battle wore on, Joshua realized they were running out of daylight.  He boldly asked God to make the sun stand still - stop time - and guess what?  God did it!  The sun stopped until they finished off their enemies.

I have read this historical account several times.  I have heard several sermons on the topic but Furtick pointed out something I had never thought about before.  In verse 8 God gave Joshua a promise that they will be victorious in this fight.  In verse 10 Joshua asks God to make the sun stand still.  But what happens in verse 9?  Joshua took his men and marched all night!

He did not sit back on his laurels and wait for God to fulfill His promise.  He gathered his men and marched all night long and then began fighting.  He did his part and, wow, did God ever show up in a huge way!

Have you, like me, wondered why your prayers do not seem to have any power?  Do you feel your faith is faltering because of seemingly unanswered prayers?  I do not know about you but I need to start marching!

James 2:14-18 (The Message)

Dear friends, do you think you’ll get anywhere in this if you learn all the
right words but never do anything? Does merely talking about faith
indicate that a person really has it? For instance, you come upon an old
friend dressed in rags and half-starved and say, “Good morning, friend!
Be clothed in Christ! Be filled with the Holy Spirit!” and walk off
without providing so much as a coat or a cup of soup—where does that get you? Isn’t it obvious that God-talk without God-acts is outrageous

I can already hear one of you agreeing by saying, “Sounds good. You take care of the faith department, I’ll handle the works department.”

Not so fast. You can no more show me your works apart from your faith than I can show you my faith apart from my works. Faith and works, works and faith, fit together hand in glove.

Monday, November 5, 2012


Anyone who talked to Dad for more than a minute about politics did not have to wonder where he stood on the issues!  Mom and Dad both were very civic minded.  They knew the importance of checking out the candidates and then to vote for the candidate of their choice.

We often had rousing discussions around the dinner table about pertinent issues or candidates.  Although they would try very hard to convince you to see the candidates the way they saw them, in the end they would respect your right to your view and encouraged everyone to vote.

In America, we have been given a huge responsibility to participate in government.  We all need to take that responsibility seriously  As we face another election I want to urge you to do your part, make your voice heard, and vote according to your conscience.

Romans 13:1-7  (The Message)

To Be a Responsible Citizen

Be a good citizen. All governments are under God. Insofar as there is peace and order, it’s God’s order. So live responsibly as a citizen. If you’re irresponsible to the state, then you’re irresponsible with God, and God will hold you responsible. Duly constituted authorities are only a threat if you’re trying to get by with something. Decent citizens should have nothing to fear.

Do you want to be on good terms with the government? Be a responsible citizen and you’ll get on just fine, the government working to your advantage. But if you’re breaking the rules right and left, watch out. The police aren’t there just to be admired in their uniforms. God also has an interest in keeping order, and he uses them to do it. That’s why you must live responsibly—not just to avoid punishment but also because it’s the right way to live.

That’s also why you pay taxes—so that an orderly way of life can be maintained. Fulfill your obligations as a citizen. Pay your taxes, pay your bills, respect your leaders.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Bathed in Prayer

One of the ladies Bible study groups that I lead has just begun a new study on prayer.  As I was contemplating the topic and, yes, praying about it, I happened to catch the end of one of Dr. Charles Stanley's radio broadcasts on the topic of prayer.  It was so powerful that I knew I had to hear the whole thing so I ordered the 4 disc CD set of the entire message.  I have since listened to the entire set 6 times.  It is powerful indeed!

Now I have known for a long time that all teaching should be bathed in prayer but Dr. Stanley really drove the point home.  It amazed me how much time he spends in preparation on his knees!  Dad was the same way.  He knew the importance of prayer not just for his ministry but for him as a son of God.  It is of utmost importance for all of us as children of God!

This afternoon as I was preparing to go to the jail tonight I prayed about what God would have me share with the ladies of cell block C.  I already had a lesson prepared and was just putting the final touches on it but I sincerely prayed that I would say the things that God wanted me to say.  I pray for this all the time but all this week I have had this on my heart as I prayed and sincerely wanted God to take over.  I did not want to do anything from my power but only through the power of God.

As I was sharing at the jail tonight I was talking about one of the points in the Scripture but I went on to share some other aspects of the Scripture that I had not intended to discuss when I was preparing.  All at once some of the women started nodding, looking around at each other, and one asked, "Did God tell you to say that?  It was just what we needed!"

Friends, that can only be God.  Yes, I had studied and prepared.  I had a nice tidy study all laid out but bathed in prayer it became a powerful force that spoke to hearts all around.  The Spirit of God moved among the women at the jail and it would not have happened if it had not been for my willing spirit and the prayers that were offered up.  For all those who pray for me as I teach at the jail, I want to say thank you!  I could not do what I do without a solid foundation of prayer.

1 Corinthians 2:3-5 (The Message)

I was unsure of how to go about this, and felt totally inadequate—I was scared to death, if you want the truth of it—and so nothing I said could have impressed you or anyone else. But the Message came through anyway. God’s Spirit and God’s power did it, which made it clear that your life of faith is a response to God’s power, not to some fancy mental or emotional footwork by me or anyone else.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

No Excuse

Today is my birthday.  55 years ago this morning I came into this world.  My Aunt Sis said she kept my "three rowdy brothers" (her words) while Mom and Dad were at the hospital.  Of course, she added that only one of them was actually rowdy and he would remain nameless.  I too will not name him but anyone who knows our family will immediately know which brother would have been "rowdy" for his Aunt Sis.

I remember the stories that I was told about my birthday.  Dad was the pastor at a small General Baptist church in Chaffee, Missouri.  He was fresh out of Bible college and this was his first "full-time" pastorate (as if it were possible to pastor part-time).  They were in the midst of a revival.  There do not seem to be revivals today as there were when I was growing up but hopefully most of you are familiar with the concept.

They had a different emphasis each evening of the revival (yes, they actually had "church" every night of the week for 7 days in a row!).  One night was Pack the Pew night.  One was Bring a Friend night.  One was Youth night.  You get the idea.  Something to draw people in to the revival.

The revival was drawing to a close and the Sunday morning service was the climatic end to the week of services.  The theme for Sunday morning was No Excuse Sunday.  There certainly could be no reason why anyone should miss church on Sunday morning, right?  Certainly there was no excuse if you were the wife of the pastor!  Well, I had other plans for my Mom that day.

Mom went into labor at some point that night (note to self, ask Aunt Sis when they went to the hospital) and Dad took Mom to St. Francis hospital in nearby Cape Girardeau, Missouri.  I was born early Sunday morning.  Dad was able to make it back in time for church but Mom was in the hospital with her newborn daughter.

Mom said it set the stage for the rest of my life.  She said it was though I were saying, "What, there is NO EXCUSE to miss church?  Wanna bet?  How about this for an excuse?!"

Lord, I thank you for Mom and Dad who not only gave me physical life but who taught me about spiritual life.  Help me to not accept any excuse that might keep me from serving You!  

I John 2:28 (The Message)

And now, children, stay with Christ. Live deeply in Christ. Then we’ll be ready for him when he appears, ready to receive him with open arms, with no cause for red-faced guilt or lame excuses when he arrives.