Initially, ‘Glasses of Grace’ started because my niece, Grace, had to get glasses for reading. Since grace is such a spiritual topic and the fact that my niece is such a doll, I started thinking about the ways God shows us His grace on a daily basis. From His servings, His glasses, of grace to us - to seeing the world through the eyes of grace (or Grace, since she had new glasses and better sight), it made sense in more ways than one, so a title was born. Blessings and all, this is my life…

Friday, December 26, 2008

The Promise of Christmas

This past Sunday morning (Dec 21), Pastor Mel preached what I believe was the best sermon on the Christmas story that I have ever heard. Following are the notes:

The Promise of Christmas
Matthew 1:18-25

Matthew 1:18-25 - "This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins." All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: "The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Emmanuel" which means, "God with us." When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he had no union with her until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus. "

***God loves the impossible - That is when He does His best work!

***Verse 22 is talking about the prophet Isaiah: "Now all this took place that the prophecy (of Isaiah) would be fulfilled."

***The prophecy and its fulfillment are both from God - God spoke through Isaiah 700 years earlier.

***God always keeps His promises.

***God had a sovereign promise to fulfill through Mary.

Isaiah 6:1-8 - Isaiah's Commission - "In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphs, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another: "Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory." At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke. "Woe to me!" I cried. "I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty." Then one of the seraphs flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. With it he touched my mouth and said, "See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for." Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?" And I said, "Here am I. Send me!"

Isaiah 7:14 - "Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel."

Isaiah 9:6-7 -
"For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Of the increase of his government and peace
there will be no end.
He will reign on David's throne
and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
with justice and righteousness
from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the LORD Almighty
will accomplish this."

Luke 1:34-38 - ""How will this be," Mary asked the angel, "since I am a virgin?" The angel answered, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God." "I am the Lord's servant," Mary answered. "May it be to me as you have said." Then the angel left her."

***And Mary was amazed - She'd studied the scriptures and now realized Isaiah was talking about HER! (W - O - W!!!)

***Mary's assignment is not so different from ours because God has chosen each of us for an assignment.

***God knows your name and had a sovereign plan for your life. He is bringing about circumstances that you may hear and obey Him.

***Security does not mean isolation from all pain, but it means confidence in God's purpose and will.

***As long as you remain in His hands, God can do anything in your life. He is the same God to you as He was to Mary!

***No matter what your circumstances, choose to remain in the hands of God and trust Him.

***There may be times you feel ill-equipped and all alone, but God shows up and tells you not to worry...He has a plan.

***What has been written in heaven regarding your life?

This really was an excellent sermon to me. I absolutely LOVE the way Pastor Mel brings new eyes to things I've known in my mind for years, like this Christmas story. They are certainly very sobering thoughts! While I knew Mary realized what a miracle Jesus' birth was, I had never thought about the fact that Mary had studied the scriptures herself and what it must have been like for her to realize in the moment that the angel spoke to her that SHE would be the one all this would be fulfilled through. Can you imagine what a sobering realization that must have been for her? That thought has been on my mind all week. I really just can't even imagine!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The 10th Commandment

Following are the notes on the 10th Commandment, from the sermon series, "Living Life to the Power of Ten."

Exodus 20:17

Exodus 20:17 - "You shall not covet your neighbor's house. You shall not covet your neighbor's wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor."

***Everything God promised is found in putting God first. Everything God promised can be destroyed by putting 'Me' first.

***The 10th Commandment is about finding contentment.

***Self-centeredness always leads to self-pity.

*** To be content in life is not to possess good self-confidence, but to have absolute confidence in God.

***When we say we are not content, we are saying that God is not enough.

1Timothy 6:6-10 - "But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs."

Psalm 73:25 - "Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you."

***The greatness of Christianity is not simply the blessings that come, but the relationship with God through Jesus Christ.

***The 10 Commandments are given under the premise that we want to belong and that we have made a committment to God and to one another.

***When you find Jesus Christ, you will find contentment in life.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

My sweet nieces

This is one of the pictures that Kate and Grace had made on one of their picture days this year at their new school. Their individual pictures turned out great as well, but I thought it was awesome that they let siblings have their pictures made together too. They both continue to love their new school and I am thrilled! They have both just grown up SO fast and I continue to be one very lucky aunt! :-)

Friday, December 12, 2008

Things I dislike:

There are a few things in life that I really just don't like:

**celery :-)
**inconsiderate people
**loud people
**a few other veggies (!!)

But one of the things I most dislike is this:

people coming to my door well after dark, ringing the doorbell and banging on the door when it's obvious that I am either not going to answer, or I am not home.

This has happened to me twice recently. The first time was the night got back from my mom's a few weeks ago. There I was, sittin' on my couch, laptop in my lap, tv on, happy as a clam when all the sudden, 'ring...,' 'ring....'. Now if it had been daylight, I would have gone to the door, no question, but the fact that I live by myself doesn't make me relish the thought of answering the door after dark. So I didn't do anything....just sat there....then, 'ring, ring, ring, ring, ring'....knock knock knock knock knock! I could tell they were persistent, but I can be just the same, so I got up to come back to another room to look out the window and there was a car in my driveway. I still decided it wasn't in my best interest to answer, so I didn't. About an hour later, I looked out to see if they had left anything or whatever and there was nothing. Kinda strange.

So here I am last night, about 9:45, it's dark, my bath water was running, when all the sudden, 'ring.' Of course, my cats run and hide, not that they could do much anyway, but it was surely an 'every man for himself' sort of deal! :-) So again, I wasn't about to go to the door. The same story followed as before, just as persistently, if not a little moreso. I peeked around the corner to be sure my alarm was set, and luckily it was. (One of the best things I did when I had my alarm system installed was to have a keypad put in my bedroom. I wasn't going to do it because it was $100 more, but my mom insisted I need to do that, and I've been SO glad I did!) Eventually, whoever it was went away, but it was a little unsettling once again, that someone would think it was okay to come to a person's door well after dark, when they aren't expecting anyone, and make such a ruckus. I looked again this morning to see if they had left anything, and nothing was there.

I can't decide exactly what to do in this situation. I obviously can't know when someone might show up like that, and I NEVER intend to answer the door after dark, but you just can't be too careful this day and time. I had totally forgotten about the first time it happened until it happened again last night and now I'm wondering what's up. Just kinda weird.

Any suggestions?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The 9th Commandment

The week away at my mom's got me behind on my sermon notes. I've got the CD for hte 8th sermon, but haven't sat down to listen to it where I can take notes. I will do that very soon, but following are the notes from November 30's sermon regarding the ninth commandment, from the sermon series, "Living Life to the Power of Ten."

Exodus 20:16

Exodus 20:16 - "You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor."

Pastor Mel started out by telling a story about a man named Alexander Papaderos. The story is too long to recount here, but I found it on the internet and if you are interested, you can go HERE to read it. It is a great answer to the question, 'What is the meaning of life?'

***Are you reflecting the light of Christ into the world in which you live?

***As we walk in this world, it sees the light of God reflected in our eyes.

***Don't give evidence that would injure the reputation of another person.

***The sin of silence is as powerful as the sin of lying lips.

***We need integrity in our words. We need to be speaking truth at all times.

***When people think of your life, what is the first thing that comes to mind?

***We build integrity by the way we live our life.

***God is truth and if we are to reflect Him to a watching world, we must be truthful in the way we live.

***Because God is truth, we can stand on His word with confidence.

***Our lives will be vindicated when we trust in God's word.

***As a Christian, our integrity is a powerful tool to a watching world.

***Our words have the power to build up or tear down.

***God is watching the way we regard we build them up?

Proverbs 4:24 - "Put away perversity from your mouth; keep corrupt talk far from your lips."

Jeremiah 17:9 - "The heart is deceitful and above all things beyond cure. Who can understand it?"

***Sin has damaged our heart and we have a self-centered nature that wants to build ourselves up and tear others down.

***To obey this commandment, we need to control our tongue.

***If you are walking with God, you won't be shaken by hurtful words. We know the truth and keep silent knowing we will be vindicated.

***Knowing the power of words, are you willing to let someone else hold you accountable for them?

***Ask the Holy Spirit to help you hold your tongue.

***Obey the Holy Spirit even if this means awkward silence.

***Ask the Holy Spirit to take away your anger and fill you with joy.

***Ask the Holy Spirit to help you encourage others. Speak words they need to hear.

***If you allow the world to taint you, how in the world will God use you to be a light to others?

***Your life can be of such upstanding nature that God can use you to speak truth to set others free!

This was a great sermon and I took 2.5 pages of notes! WOW! Such wisdom.

As I mentioned earlier, I haven't had time to listen to the 8th commandment CD yet. We had our Living Christmas Tree last weekend, so we had rehearsals all week leading up to that, and this week has just been busy. I will get those notes posted soon though for anyone who may be interested.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

This n' that

So I decided it was time to change to a Christmas theme. I don't decorate much for Christmas, but I saw this nativity scene a few years ago in Gatlinburg when I was there with my friend Gina and her family. I thought it was adorable, but couldn't afford it, so imagine my surprise when I got it, in parts, from Gina and another girl I work with that year at Christmas! It's been in boxes in my garage probably since I moved here and I just haven't thought about putting it out because I didn't know where I could put it that cats might not get to it (!!), but I decided this year that my mantle is a great place. It is cute as pie sitting up there and I like seeing it every day.

Pastor Mel's sermon today was on the 9th commandment, about not giving false testimony against your neighbor. I bought a CD of last Sunday's sermon since I was out of town, so I'll listen to that soon and get that one and today's sermon notes posted soon. I cannot tell you how blessed we are to have him as our pastor. The wisdom he shares every week just makes me want to sit there with my mouth hanging open, but I know that's not a good look for me, so I try not to do that! :-) These sermons have been a very interesting walk through the 10 commandments. His applications to life today are great. Next Sunday is supposed to be the 10th one, but we are having one of our Living Christmas Tree programs at 10:45 instead of the service. We are having regular church at 8:00, so I am hoping he will delay the 10th commandment until the week after the tree. I am going to try to find out this week what the deal is going to be and if I have to, I may just have to get up and go to the 8:00 service next week! I can't imagine that he won't wait a week to do it, but we'll see.

I'm sad to say that it's back to work tomorrow. I am always amazed at how quickly time off passes! I think that saying is, "I owe, I owe, so off to work I go!" :-)

Hope you had a great Thanksgiving, and thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

If anyone is out there still reading this blog besides my sweet two or three regulars who leave me notes, I just wanted to wish you ALL a great Thanksgiving. I've gotten away from posting as much as I did at one point for reasons that are more personal than anything else, but that's not to say it will always be this way. Despite that, I do still check in on several of you and love keeping up with your thoughts and lives. The internet is a great thing for staying connected.

Life has just been filled with regular, church, my nieces, watching the economy (just like everyone else) and getting ready for the holidays. We have our Living Christmas Tree at church next weekend and have been racing to get ready for that. We've had so many other things that we've participated in this year that we may be a bit behind on learning the music as well as we should, but, THANK HEAVEN, we get a practice CD. That has really helped! I definitely need to still do some work on certain parts though! :-)

I have gotten two or three, maybe even four, letters from the little girl I am sponsoring. I continue to know this was the right thing for me to do and that Compassion International was the right organization for me to do this through. She often stresses how much she wants to be a nurse when she grows up. I just encourage her in that goal and love the way she shares the things she's learning at church. I still just cannot imagine what a day in her life is like. We have so much to be thankful for here, there is no doubt.

My sister, nieces and I went to my mom's for a few days for a long weekend this past weekend and had a great time. Patty and Kate slept on my mom's pullout couch, so they could watch some late TV I am sure, but that's fine with me because Grace and I got the bed! :-) Grace informed me that I snore, evidently a LOT to hear her tell it (!!), but we had a great time together. I know I have said this before, but she is SO much like I was at that age and my mom even wholeheartedly agrees. Grace just makes me laugh....a LOT. On the way down, we watched part of a movie, played travel Scrabble, sang, and goofed around all the way down. She is VERY quick witted for her age. We can simply look at each other, know what the other is thinking, and we both just start laughing. She bought a remote control whoopie cushion sometime recently (before this trip) and she had to keep using it on unsuspecting victims at every opportunity. There is never a dull moment with that girl. I can remember some of my aunts at my grandmother's laughing at me when I would say stuff when I was a kid, and I was thinking today if Grace truly is like I was at that age, I can certainly see why my aunts were laughing. Kate was just her sweet, precious self. She's 14 now and definitely coming into her own. She is a a great big sister to Grace. One good thing about me going on that trip is that it gives Patty and Kate some one-on-one mother/daughter time that they don't always get at home. I had some good talks and laughs with Kate too, so it was nice to get away. I loved the time with them both.

That's pretty much my life in a nutshell. I am trying to get rid of a sinus infection that keeps hanging on, but I'm definitely on the mend. I'm going to my dad's tomorrow afternoon for Thanksgiving and am looking forward to sleeping in tomorrow morning. Of course, 'in' is a relative term. My internal alarm usually wakes me up about 7, but hopefully I'll be able to go back to sleep! I love knowing I have 4 days off! YEA!

Anyway, back to my original point. I hope YOU have a fabulous Thanksgiving, and thanks for stopping by...I appreciate it!

PS.....With all this being said, I haven't gotten notes from this past Sunday's sermon, but I will get those and get them posted soon. I can't wait to hear what Pastor Mel had to say!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The 7th Commandment

Following are the notes from this past Sunday morning's sermon regarding the seventh commandment, from the sermon series, "Living Life to the Power of Ten."

Exodus 20:14

Exodus 20:14 - "You shall not commit adultery."

***The 10 commandments are like a fence God has constructed for our freedom. They protect us from things in the world that will (and can) destroy us.

1 Corinthians 6:9-10 - "Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God."

Matthew 5:27-28 - "You have heard that it was said, 'Do not commit adultery.' But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart."

***This commandment is dealing with the condition of your heart.

***Our actions start as a seed in the heart - and the seed is the same essence as the fully developed plant.

***The heart controls the life.

***God is concerned about your heart. It is either given to Him or to self.

***You are free to choose evil, but you are not free to choose the consequences.

Malachi 2:14-15 - "You ask, "Why?" It is because the LORD is acting as the witness between you and the wife of your youth, because you have broken faith with her, though she is your partner, the wife of your marriage covenant. Has not the LORD made them one? In flesh and spirit they are his. And why one? Because he was seeking godly offspring. So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith with the wife of your youth."

Galatians 5:7-8 - "You were running a good race. Who cut in on you and kept you from obeying the truth? That kind of persuasion does not come from the one who calls you."

***Fire always burns. Adultery always causes pain and brokenness.

1 Corinthians 10:12 - "So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don't fall!"

***Unguarded strength is a deceptive place to be.

1 Corinthians6:9-11 - "Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God."

***There is forgiveness IF you choose to repent, but there are consequences that may never be removed.

***It is foolish to think that pre-meditated sin is not going to cause destruction.

***No matter how great our sin, God's grace is greater.

***God brings conviction so we can correct the relationship.

***God's power over sin is our only hope to find victory in life.

***God established a fence for your protection.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The 6th Commandment

Following are the notes from this past Sunday morning's excellent sermon regarding the sixth commandment, from the sermon series, "Living Life to the Power of Ten."

Exodus 20:13

Exodus 20:13 - "You shall not murder."

***The commandments move forward through 3 areas: God (commandments 1-4), family (commandment 5) and relationships (commandments 6-10).

***The seed is the same essence as the plant, just in a different form. (The difference between hate and murder).

***God is saying that another person's life has value. Do not take it into your own hands.

***Every person has a soul and no matter what they have done, we need to treat them as God would have us to treat them.

***Your words, and your silence, can destroy a person.

***Does your life encourage others or cause them pain?

***Romans 13: 9-10 - "The commandments, "Do not commit adultery," "Do not murder," "Do not steal," "Do not covet," and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: "Love your neighbor as yourself." Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law."

***Light and darkness (love and hatred) cannot co-exist in the same place.

***It is always your turn to right a wrong with another. It is always your turn to obey God and make things right.

***You can easily tell those who are walking in a love relationship with God. They love others.

***No matter what happens TO you, you control what happens IN you.

***When someone puts you to the test (treats you wrong), will you pass the test of your heart?

***Matthew 5: 44-45 - "But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous."

***The 6th commandment is about respecting life.

***Your actions and words reflect the condition of your heart.

***Does your heart prove that you've been born again?

***There is nothing like a clear conscience. It is priceless and worth more than money can buy.

Monday, November 03, 2008

The 5th Commandment

Following are the notes from this past Sunday morning's sermon regarding the fifth commandment, from the sermon series, "Living Life to the Power of Ten."

Exodus 20:12

Exodus 20:12- "Honour your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you."

***The danger of losing the fear of God is that we become wise in our own eyes.

***Wisdom is a by-product of our trust in Almighty God.

***Parents are the keepers of God's covenant...children will follow behind and someday enter into the same covenant. Do your children see the commandments of God in you? Is God 1st place?

***Is your life a demonstration of the goodness of God?

***If your children were going to honor God by looking at your life, would they know what to do?

***The 5th commandment is the only one with a promise attached to it. "I will bless your life and take care of you."

***God put you in your family and your father and mother are to be honored for who they are.

***How do you honor an ungodly parent?
--forgive them
--be kind to them
--pray for them

***To honor does not mean that you approve of that which is evil.

***God's ways are not man's ways. They do not always make sense.

Matthew 5:38-48 - "You have heard that it was said, 'Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.' But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you. You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbour and hate your enemy.' But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect."

***Giving honor to your parents will bring God's blessing upon your life.

***The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

The 4th Commandment

Following are the notes from this past Sunday morning's sermon regarding the fourth commandment, from the sermon series, "Living Life to the Power of Ten."

Exodus 20:8-11

Exodus 20:8-11 - "Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

***Rest is important....but HOW you rest determines how you are renewed and strengthened.

***A restless heart usually leads to a reckless life.

***The force and power of this commandment lies not in the resting, but in the sanctifying.

***The Sabbath is unique and special.

***Keeping the Sabbath holy uniquely identifies Christians as holy unto God.

***You need a day of rest. In God's eyes, a day of rest is just as important as a day of work.

***You need a day of corporate worship. It is holy unto HIM, not holy unto US.

***You need a day to give time to a personal love relationship with God.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Passin' it on...

My friend, Tonja, has something posted on her blog that needs to be read by everyone, especially with the election getting so close, so I wanted to pass it along. Go HERE to check it out. It's long, but definitely worth the read. AMAZING!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The 3rd Commandment

Following are the notes from this past Sunday morning's sermon regarding the third commandment, from the sermon series, "Living Life to the Power of Ten."

#3 - There is Power in the Name
Exodus 20:7

Exodus 20:7 - ""You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name."

***When we make a choice to enter into a relatinship with God, we also accept the terms of the covenant.

***Make no mistake: There is power int the name of God.
Acts 4:5 - 12 - "The next day the rulers, elders and teachers of the law met in Jerusalem. Annas the high priest was there, and so were Caiaphas, John, Alexander and the other men of the high priest's family. They had Peter and John brought before them and began to question them: "By what power or what name did you do this?" Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: "Rulers and elders of the people! If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a cripple and are asked how he was healed, then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. He is 'the stone you builders rejected, which has become the capstone. Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved."

***The name of the Lord was indicative of His presence to act in their midst.

***To use God's name is to bring Him into the situation. When you use His name, He listens!

Matthew 12:36 - "But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken."

***Your words now reflect your fate later - they will either justify or condemn.

Acts 19:11 - 17 - "God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured and the evil spirits left them. Some Jews who went around driving out evil spirits tried to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who were demon-possessed. They would say, "In the name of Jesus, whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out." Seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this. (One day) the evil spirit answered them, "Jesus I know, and I know about Paul, but who are you?" Then the man who had the evil spirit jumped on them and overpowered them all. He gave them such a beating that they ran out of the house naked and bleeding. When this became known to the Jews and Greeks living in Ephesus, they were all seized with fear, and the name of the Lord Jesus was held in high honor."

***The power of God's name is for those who know Him personally.

***What does it mean to use God's name in vain? to use it in a manner unworthy of His person.

***We are called to use God's name in a manner worthy of His person.

***Wants WANTS you to use His name and display His glory.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The 2nd Commandment

Following are the notes from this past Sunday morning's sermon regarding the second commandment, from the sermon series, "Living Life to the Power of Ten." I'm a little later posting them than usual, but it's been a good, yet busy, week.

#2 - Faithful and True
Exodus 20:4 - 6

Exodus 20:4 - 6 - "You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand {generations} of those who love me and keep my commandments."

***God desires an exclusive relationship with you that is real and personal.

***God does not dwell in objects and cannot be controlled by human manipulation.

***The second commandment tells us how to worship the true God. He comes directly to our lives where we are face to face with Him.

***We have access to the presence of Almighty God and He invites us to come.

***There are many people who would like to perform a ritual to Him rather than to walk with Him.

***God is not after your money, your abilities or your gifts. He wants YOU.

***To seek after that which is empty will leave you empty.
Psalm 135:15 - 18 -
15 The idols of the nations are silver and gold,
made by the hands of men.
16 They have mouths, but cannot speak,
eyes, but they cannot see;
17 they have ears, but cannot hear,
nor is there breath in their mouths.
18 Those who make them will be like them,
and so will all who trust in them.

***He leaves you free to choose whatever you desire, but you are not free to choose the consequences.

***Those who struggle with the second commandment are those who are captivated by the world around them.

1 John 2:15 - "Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him."

***Here's a good question to ask kids: 'What is the most important thing you see in mom and dad's life?' It takes courage to ask that kind of question to kids or anyone you are close to.

***When you give up everything for God, He gives back everything you need for abundant life.

***Let Him have His way in your life and you will experience a love relationship like you have never experienced before.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Being a friend.

Making a long story short, I took Grace to soccer practice tonight. I usually try to take her to one of her practices each week because I want to be an involved aunt and I love the time with her, but I usually take my ipod along to either watch a movie I've downloaded or listen to music that I have on there. I've discovered it's a great place to worship as I am still, quiet and listening. Tonight, this song got my attention as I listened to the words, and the tears were flowing. Just thinking of people I know who have been through such tragic things and, as the writer of it, what Steven Curtis Chapman's family has been through as well. It's powerful.

I did a little research and found it was based on Galatians 6:2 -'Carry each others burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ' and Luke 5:18-20 - 'Some men came carrying a paralytic on a mat and tried to take him into the house to lay him before Jesus. When they could not find a way to do this because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on his mat through the tiles into the middle of the crowd, right in front of Jesus.'

I need to remember to be THIS kind of friend and be attentive to the needs around me day in and day out.

A good song like this is timeless.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Small changes and big blessings.

I decided to change my blog colors for a while in, I hate to say, 'honor' of halloween, but to me, it's just a fun day for kids to dress up and get candy! Plus, as I was doing that, I realized that in my header picture, Grace has a pumpkin on her shirt, so I thought I'd go with it for a while. I've always focused on the glasses more than her shirt. Funny how you see what you want to, huh?

Anyway, this has been a great week. I love the change in weather and wish it could be like this all year long, but then, I'm sure I'd take it for granted, so I guess I really don't wish that, but I do wish it would stay like this for a while.

About the week, all I did was go to work every day, took Grace to soccer practice on Tuesday night, had church stuff on Wednesday night, then on Thursday, I took part of a vacation day and had a great lunch with our new pastor's wife. I tend to be a bit nervous in new situations like that, but it was simply great! We 'clicked' immediately and I was sitting there, totally at ease, thinking how cool it is that God can bring new friends into our life so quickly if He chooses to do so. Don't you just love when you meet someone like that and you can sit there and talk and talk, about deep stuff, funny stuff and everything in-between, and before you know it, it's almost been 2 hours?! She had to go pick up her children from school or I am sure we could have talked even longer. In thinking about our conversation since then, I have more to ask her about, so I hope we'll be doing that again sometime soon. Thursday night, I just hung out with my sister, Grace, and a friend of Grace's, so that was fun too. Tonight, I went to see 'Nights in Rodanthe' with friends. I didn't love it, but it was okay. Tomorrow, Grace has a soccer game, then I'm going to go hang out at my sister's and venture a bit more into cardmaking. We both have tons of supplies, it's just more fun to work together and share ideas. I may post pictures if I come up with anything exceptionally creative! :-) I'm kind of excited about tomorrow too! Sunday night, we have a 'concert' to premier the new CD our choir made a couple of months ago. That should be fun.

Another cool thing is that I had a chance on Wednesday night on the way to children's choir to speak to our new pastor and tell him how much I have loved his sermons and how they challenge me all week long. As it should so happen, I was passing through an area of the church just as he was doing the same, so it was really a perfect one-on-one opportunity. He was very gracious and just asked that I continue to pray for him and his family. Moving all the way from Canada would be a big adjustment for anyone! We really are blessed though and I want him to know I appreciate the work he's putting into his job here. I just know God has great things in store...

...and I can't wait!

Sunday, October 05, 2008

The 1st Commandment:

Following are the notes from this morning's sermon regarding the first commandment, from the sermon series, "Living Life to the Power of Ten."

#1 - First Place
Exodus 20:3; Matthew 22:37-38

Exodus 20:3 - "You shall have no other gods before me."

Matthew 22:37-38 -"Jesus replied: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment."

***God loves you and is inviting you into a personal relationship that lasts for all eternity.

***God is not looking for first place in your heart -- He wants your whole heart.

***If you don't understand the first commandment to love Him (He's desiring to be YOUR god), all the others turn into a bunch of rules.

***God is not interested in you being happy; He is interested in you being holy.

***He will allow things into your life to shape and mold you into the person He has called you to be.

***To obey this commandment means you will live with confident expectation that God is in control.

***Worry is the warning light that tells us we don't understand the first commandment.

***He is telling us, "I want to be something you cannot find in any other relationship -- I want to be GOD." (the God who cares for your life)

***What we don't turn over to him takes control and eats away at our life.

***When you try and take control of what rightfully belongs to God, you also take all the responsibility for its outcome.

***The best thing for your life is to surrender it to Him.

***Does God have your whole heart?

***Is He the 1st person you turn to?

We are very blessed to have a pastor who makes us think like this and keeps us mindful of these things with such thought provoking points. Isn't it amazing how so many of these are things that we know, but don't always stop to think about or do on a daily basis?

Monday, September 29, 2008


With all the talk about the economy right now, our pastor felt led to change his sermon yesterday (Sept 28)...we'll be back to the 10 Commandments next week, but for now, the topic is money, from a sermon series titled, Where Your Treasure Is:

Worship Through Giving
2 Cor 9:6-8

'Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.'

***Our response to God's goodness is an act of worship.

***We are not to just receive good things from God -- we are here to give to God as an act of worship.

***God has a law of identical harvest. Gal 6:7 - 'Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.'

***God acts toward us in unconditional love, but not unconditional blessing -- blessings come as a response to our obedience (!!)

Malachi 3:7-10 - 'Ever since the time of your forefathers you have turned away from my decrees and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you," says the LORD Almighty. "But you ask, 'How are we to return?'
"Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me.
"But you ask, 'How do we rob you?'
"In tithes and offerings. You are under a curse—the whole nation of you—because you are robbing me. Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this," says the LORD Almighty, "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.'

***When you understand God's perspective on money, you will be set free.

***Tithing is not giving a gift to God, it is giving back to God what is already His.

***Anything less than a tithe is not a tithe.

***Tithing is an act of worship where we sacrifice what is precious to us.

***If you can't afford to tithe when you are poor, you will never tithe when you are rich.

***Our use of money reflects our heart.

***He is not asking for the 'extra.' He is waiting to see if we love Him enough to sacrifice what is dear to us.

***There is nothing more frustrating to God than to see His people receive immeasurable blessing from Him, then be stingy with what they receive.

Then, one of the last things he said, was 'How can we be mad at the people on Wall Street, etc if we are also not doing what we are supposed to be doing in our giving to God??'

Food for thought.

Friday, September 26, 2008


I called this morning to check on how much that ticket I got a couple of Sunday mornings ago for creeping around that stop sign would cost me and can you believe I have to pay $120??!! Dang! I have until mid-October to pay it. That is a good thing since I don't have it right now...a girl I work with had gotten a ticket for the same thing and hers was like $70 or $75, so that's what I was expecting. When they told me $120 this morning, I was in shock. Oh well. It's only money, right? I must admit though, I have been coming to complete stops since then, most of the time anyway! :-)

Good news...I went and voted this morning! I can't even imagine how crowded the polling places will be on the day of the election, so I decided to get that little, actually BIG, responsiblity out of the way early. My step-mom and sister went with me and we were all through in about 10-15 minutes...Definitely one of my better choices. If you have a chance to do that where you live, I highly recommend it. I'm ashamed to admit that I hadn't changed my voter registration info since I moved about 4 years ago, so I was sort of under the gun hoping my change info would go through in time for me to vote in this election, so I was THRILLED when I found online earlier this week that it had been changed. When I got there today, I filled out the form they had, a woman took it to her computer to verify my info, then came back over and said, sort of loudly on her way back to the counter where I was standing, 'Wow...It's been a while since you've voted, hasn't it??' but THIS is what I heard, 'WOW...IT'S BEEN A WHILE SINCE YOU'VE VOTED, HASN'T IT???' I was like, " don't have to say it so loud!!!! :-)" Then she started giggling and cupped her hands over her mouth like she was going to shout it and said it again. It was actually pretty funny. I will definitely be doing better from now on! Isn't it funny how someone can say something and depending on your guilt or innocence in the matter, you can hear it totally differently than how they say it? Although I was guilty, it was sort of funny. :-)

What else?? I went to a surprise party last night for a friend and client from work. She turned 60 yesterday and her husband had called about 3 or 4 weeks ago to invite me, the CPA I work under (Judy) and our boss (Ben). They have been great clients and in the 18 years they have been using our firm, Sue and I have become great friends. Their company is based out of Northern Ireland and they moved here from England to open a branch in the US in 1990, so we were some of the first people they contacted and started using when they came here. Her husband runs the company and she's the main office person and bookkeeper, so with that being the case, not knowing the US rules and requirements when they came here, outside of the basics of tax law, Sue and I have had to learn a lot together over time. We've become friends in the process. Although I was inclined to not go to her party at first because I didn't think I'd know much of anyone there, when Judy and Ben agreed to go, I got excited about it. I called Sue yesterday to wish her a happy birthday and from our conversation, it was obvious that she had no clue what was going to happen that night. It was a lot of fun when she realized I was there. I can't wait to talk to her next week and see what her recollection of the whole night has been. My boss took his camera, so we got a few pictures. If he will e-mail them to me, I may post them here in a few days. We'll see. I was VERY glad that I had changed my mind and decided to go. I could tell it meant a lot to Sue and it was definitely the right thing to do. I love when I make good decisions! :-)

Okay...I'm off to find out what time the debates start tonight. Even though I've already voted, I am eager to see what they have to say. If you have a chance to vote early where you live, definitely take advantage of it!

Hope you've had a great week.

Monday, September 22, 2008

New series -- The introduction

We started a new sermon series on Sunday (Sept 21) titled, 'The Power of Ten,' based on the Ten Commandments:

"Living in the Father's House"
Exodus 19:3-6; 16-19

Exodus 19:3-6 - Then Moses went up to God, and the LORD called to him from the mountain and said, "This is what you are to say to the house of Jacob and what you are to tell the people of Israel: 'You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles' wings and brought you to myself. Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you [will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.' These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites."

Exodus 19:16-19 - On the morning of the third day there was thunder and lightning, with a thick cloud over the mountain, and a very loud trumpet blast. Everyone in the camp trembled. Then Moses led the people out of the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. Mount Sinai was covered with smoke, because the LORD descended on it in fire. The smoke billowed up from it like smoke from a furnace, the whole mountain trembled violently, and the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder. Then Moses spoke and the voice of God answered him.

***What was God's intent in giving the 10 Commandments? To guide us to have the best life possible in a coventant relationship with Him.

***The 10 Commandments were not given to the world, but to those in a love relationship with Him.

***The 10 Commandments came from a heart of love, but were delivered with absolute firmness.

***The 10 Commandments were delivered in such a way as to instill fear, in order that all would hear and obey.

***The 10 Commandments were delivered in sternness because God saw people wandering off in ways that were not good for them.

Ezekiel 33:11 - Say to them,"As surely as I live declares the Sovereign Lord, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, O house of Israel?"

***Because God loves us, He has given us specific instruction to live in harmony with Him.

Exodus 20:1-17 - The 10 Commandments:

1 And God spoke all these words:

2 "I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.

3 "You shall have no other gods before me.

4 "You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. 5 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing love to a thousand {generations} of those who love me and keep my commandments.

7 "You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.

8 "Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. 11 For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

12 "Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you.

13 "You shall not murder.

14 "You shall not commit adultery.

15 "You shall not steal.

16 "You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.

17 "You shall not covet your neighbor's house. You shall not covet your neighbor's wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor."

The Power of Ten puts you in a position:
-- to reflect God's character to a watching world
-- to know God
-- to experience God's blessing

Friday, September 19, 2008

'Let's Talk'

This is from September 14 (we had a guest speaker on the 7th):

(This one catches me up to date....the ones prior to this are below)

"Let's Talk"
Acts 4:31

***Is Jesus someone you've met from afar or do you know him? Has He changed your life?

***Have you talked to the Lord lately?

***If we don't spend time with God and knowing Him, we do not need to be out in the world talking about Him.

***An encounter with God should be your normal daily experience - is it practical in real life?

***Prayer isn't a duty, it's the heart of your salvation. Can a person be saved who does not pray? Can a person be in love with Christ and never talk to Him? There are scores of people who believe in God, but never utter a word of prayer.

***Do you think God is worthy of your time? Does He deserve our best?

***Do you WANT to spend time with Him? Not that you HAVE to, do you WANT to?

***The most important part of your day is time spent with Him.

***The early church had nothing but God, and turned the world upside down.

***Boldness comes from the presence of God.

***Have you learned to talk to God?

***The greatest gift we have is our relationship with God, but sadly it's the one thing we most neglect.

***Do you give to God thinking He is impressed, or do you spend time with Him?

***Everything in your life is a by-product of your relationship to Christ.

***Do you ADMIRE God, or have you MET Him?

'The Pillar of Worship'

These are from August 31:

"The Pillar of Worship"
Revelation 19:1-6

***Worship is a heart to heart encounter with the living God.

What does worship mean? Why have we come?

***In worship, we learn to say, 'Yes, Lord,' 'so let it be in my life.'

Trust Him -- from eternity's perspective, it is all going to be alright.

True worship is the desire to know and accept the will of God.

***In worship, we commit ourselves to do the will of God.

The will of God is not just something to be accepted; it is something to be asserted.

***In worship, we find the joy of our salvation

True worship is a testimony that the word of God is 'good news.'

***In worship, we find the assurance of victory - by looking to the past and seeing that the battle has already been won.

True worship finds its hope in the reality of Jesus Christ.

'The Pillar of God's Word'

These are from August 24:

"The Pillar of God's Word"
Isaiah 66:1-2; Acts 6:1-7

***Time given to study the Bible is not an academic experience; it is an encounter with God.

***There is only one way to honor God - OBEDIENCE.

***Your study of God's word is (1) a decision to live in the presence of God, (2) a decision to know the will of God, (3) a decision to join the (I missed this word..maybe community) of God.

Scripture reference:
Luke 22:39 - Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him.

***More than He feared the cup, Jesus loved the hand from which it came.

***It is only when you have confidence in the relationship that you will have the confidence to obey.

***Obedience is discovered when it costs something - Love is revealed when it hurts.

***Strength is not found in how courageously I struggle, but how completely I surrender.

***If you don't spend time in God's word, you will not know him; If you don't know him, you won't love him; if you don't love him, you won't obey him.

***How you honor God's word, you honor Him.

'The Pillar of Prayer'

These are from August 17:

"The Pillar of Prayer"
Acts 6:1-7

Pillars of a church God can use:
--God's word

***You cannot understand the ways or purposes of God unless you spend time with God.

***The mighty activity of God in history has come through fervent, united prayer among God's people.

Scripture references:
Acts 2:42 - They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.

Acts 4:31 - After they had prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.

Acts 12:5 - So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him.

***The work of the kingdom is not done by our ability, but by God's power.

***The early church had nothing but God and they turned the world upside down.

***If we lose our sense of desperation for God, we are in trouble.

***Prayer is a clear reflection of your relationship with God.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Sermon notes - the introduction

Okay. I said earlier in the week that I was going to start putting my sermon notes on here so I could keep track of them better...handy reference...and for anyone who might care to read them, so these are from his first sermon in this series on August 10, "Indispensable Pillars of God's Church."

"The Wonders of Tomorrow"
Joshua 3:1-7

***Keep your eyes focused on God's activity.***

***If you want to see the wonders of tomorrow, prepare yourself today. ***

Scripture references:
Joshua 3:5 - 'Joshua told the people, "Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do amazing things among you."'

Isaiah 55:8-9 - "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the Lord. "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts."

Proverbs 3:5-6 - "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight."

Jeremiah 33:2-3 - "This is what the Lord says, he who made the earth, the Lord who formed it and established it - the Lord is his name. Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things that you do not know."

Hebrews 2:3 - 'how shall we escape if we ignore such a great salvation?'

***Everything God does in our life and in our church is thru relationship...not religious activity***

This is just the first week. I need to get caught up through this past Sunday, so I'll be sure to work on that tomorrow evening or this weekend. There is a lot more to come and it will make you examine your life like never before...his sermons are also online, so if any of this catches your attention, which I'm sure it will in the weeks to come, check it out at and follow the link at the bottom of the page to 'sermons.'

Sunday, September 14, 2008

I'm back! :-)

I am thinking that this next week, I am going to start posting the sermon notes that I take in church each week. Our new pastor's sermons are incredibly thought provoking, sobering and well worth sharing, plus I am going to try to figure out the 'labels' thing so they will list on my sidebar and be easier to find. I really thought first of all about doing this for myself so I would have them all in one place, but then I know some blog friends have asked me to share some of his wisdom, so this will accomplish both of those goals.

His first sermon series is titled, "Indispensable Pillars of God's Church," those being prayer, God's Word, and worship. I'll work on getting that done this week.

Second, as you may have noticed, I added a 'McCain/Palin' button on my sidebar. I found this on another blog I read and loved it, so I added it here too. I am normally not a very political person, but am very happy that McCain chose Sarah Palin and that his party, and many Americans, have been energized by it. I just hope that everyone will get out and vote as it is our priviledge and resposibility! After I watched her speak at the Republican National Convention, I got to thinking that I didn't know for sure where I am supposed to vote, so through the fabulous, 'all knowlege is only a click away' internet, I discovered that I was still registered at the address where I lived before I moved....almost 4 years ago! Shame on me! As luck, or to me, God's hand, would have it, I was at Grace's soccer game last weekend and there was a woman walking around with voter registration/ change of address forms, so all I had to do was fill it out and give her that form with my new info. Hopefully I will hear this next week about my new polling location, but if not, I will be on the phone trying to find out. This woman was clearly an Ob*** fan, so I didn't say too much for two reasons: (1) I didn't want her to take my info and not turn it in, and (2) she just kept yapping and Grace's game started while I was filling out my form and I didn't want to miss it! I will make my statement in November when I vote~ :-)

I could go on and on about money being tight, getting a ticket this morning on the way to church because I didn't come to a complete stop at a stop sign (wonder how much that's gonna cost??), a car that needed a $600 part this last week, gas prices, and everything else, but I won't because everyone is fighting those battles right now too, many much moreso than me. Hopefully things will turn around soon, and besides, it could be worse...look at all those people who lost so much of their lives and possessions to Ike a few days ago.

We have much to be thankful for, so I choose to focus on that!

I'll work on the sermon notes this week...I'm eager to share Pastor Mel's wisdom!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

"God Speaking"

I know I haven't posted in FOREVER. I have lots to say, I just need to work on how to word it all. Our new pastor is here and he is fabulous. Every sermon he's shared leaves me with a quiet, VERY contemplative spirit and his words seem to be on my mind all week long. My mind cannot even fathom what God must have in store! I know that God is using him, among other things in my life, to speak to me and get my attention right now. This song is one of those treasures. It's another GEM by Mandisa, "God Speaking":

Saturday, August 09, 2008


It's been soooo long since I've posted! I didn't even realize how long it had been until I just looked at the date on the post before the quote on the 28th. Lots has happened and life has been busy.

I left the 30th to see my mom in Florida and was there until Sunday, the 3rd. Got back from there to a full office of work. I never figure how that happens....I was about totally caught up when I left, but when I got back, I had enough stuff in there to keep me VERY busy all week this past week. I'm not complaining, I just can't figure how that happens! I spent Monday night at home; went to see 'Mamma Mia' for the 3rd time with my sister and nieces on Tuesday; Wednesday, I had a meeting for Children's choir which starts again this coming Wednesday, then that night, I went to see 'Mamma Mia' AGAIN with my friend, Gina. Thursday, we had a shower at work during lunch for a co-worker who is expecting in September, then after work, went to a friend's house to get dinner for her children while she and her husband were out of town. They are old enough to look after themselves, pretty much, I just needed to get dinner for them and be sure they started homework, etc. Friday, I did the dinner thing at my friend's house again, came home for a few minutes, went to my sister's for a quick dinner, then back home to watch the opening of the Olympics. What a week!

Kate and Grace start their new school on Monday, so I took Grace today to get a new Bible as they will need one and she didn't have a good one to use. I was glad to be able to do that and happy that my sister let me. I dropped Grace off, did a couple of errands, then came home to watch the Olympics, nap and peruse the internet the rest of the day. I have loved today!

Tomorrow is our new pastor's first day at our church and I couldn't be more thrilled. I ordered a couple of his books off so I could sort of get a feel for what he might be like. I am eager to see what God has in store for our church under his leadership. These are exciting days, no doubt. Tomorrow afternoon, I have a drop-in shower to attend, then back to church for a receiption for our new pastor and his family. Never a dull moment!

If you haven't checked it out, go read my friend Rachel's blog....she's in Beijing for the Olympics and having a great time!

And for a huge laugh, go here. Trust's FUNNY!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Profound thought.

"There is more hunger for love and appreciation
in this world than for bread."
--Mother Teresa

Sunday, July 20, 2008

This 'n that.

I was going to post about my week, but it was mostly filled with work and a few stops to see my nieces on the way home. I have a deadline at the end of the month with work and I'm leaving to see my mom a few days of the last week this month, so I have to cram up and get everything done before I go. Not always an easy feat, especially since there's little I can do about when clients bring their work in, even though I've told them my plans. It was a stressful week, no doubt. I hope this next one is better.

I did have a few good things happen though. I was totally surprised to have yet another letter from the little girl I'm sponsoring when I got home on Monday. On the heels of the fact that I'd gotten two the week before, I was surprised, but totally thrilled. I can tell that the letters are getting more personal as she talked about her parents and what they do for work and how she's concerned for them. It makes me a little sad that a 7 year old little girl worries about her parents' work, but I'm glad she feels she can share those things. Her mother sells soaps and her dad makes stamps. One of her last sentences was this, "I want you to please pray for my parents. They always say that people are not buying, but I want God to help them, okay?" When I was 7 years old, I was only worried about what my friend, Amy, and I were going to play or where I was going to ride my bike to the next day. Certainly nothing like this sweet little thing worries about. I need to send her a note back this next week. I have already been blessed far beyond what I imagined and my hat is off to Compassion International, their workers and their organization for making it possible for these children to be sponsored and to handle it so responsibly. If I ever felt like I was doing anything right, this is it.

The other good thing is that I finally got a phone that can text! :-) Kate, my 13 year old niece, told me earlier in the week that I needed to get text added to my phone so she could text me with any news that couldn't wait. (I know she could call me, but in today's world, that is so 'yesterday.') Needless to say, when a teenager expresses an interest in keeping in touch, you do it, so I upgraded my phone and feel a bit more up with the times! ha...Technology just amazes me. It is fun though, I must admit.

One other fun thing I did was create an account on Facebook. Some friends at church have it and were talking about how fun it is and what a great way it is to keep in touch, and next thing you now, there I am signing up too! :-) It is pretty fun, mostly to know what everyone else is up to at any given time and post quick notes to each other. One of our friends is going to Japan to train for his job for 4 months, so it all sorta started as a way to keep in touch with him, but it's fun in and of itself, so I'm sure we'll keep on even after he's back home. Some things we just never outgrow! :-)

Although the things above are what I originally intended to post about, I'm about to do a hard turn and say that even with all these good and fun things this past week, I have had a twinge of loneliness, sadness, emptiness or something today and haven't been able to put my finger on why, nor have I been able to shake it. Nothing has happened except that I had a rather disturbing dream about a friend last night, but that usually doesn't affect me the way I've felt today. I tried to figure it out on the way home from church this morning and it's been a nagging feeling all day long, but I haven't come up with any reason yet. I'm not normally one to have pity parties, but I just feel sort of blah. So I get to church tonight and our preacher's topic is, "The Joy of the Lord." Well much like GOD is that? I listened to that sermon knowing it was probably just what I needed to hear today, so I sat there with Bible, paper and pen, taking notes....ones that I need to go back over again. I sat there with a quiet heart and quiet spirit knowing that God knew what I needed to hear today. Isn't that amazing? And why was I surprised???

Saturday, July 12, 2008

It will be interesting...

My friend, Rachel, arrived in Beijing yesterday and will be working there during the Olympics which start August 8 and go through August 24. I have no idea what she will experience of course, but I can absolutely guarantee you that she will have some interesting posts, great pictures or videos and some insightful thoughts to share. I can't wait to see what God has in store for her over there!

Hop on over and meet her via the link above.....she's great!

I'm proud of you, Rachel!

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

A sweet letter

I am happy to report that I have gotten two letters recently from the girl I am sponsoring through Compassion International. The first came last Saturday. I was thrilled to see the envelope but somewhat disheartened to open it and read a note that sounded nothing like and 7 year old would write. I told myself though that she must have given the volunteer the topic and told him what to write about and he went from there. That was the only way I could feel good about it because I really want to know about this her words.

Then on Monday, I got home and had another note from her.....this one in response to a note I had e-mailed to Compassion International from work. They evidently go quicker that way to wherever they are sent for translation, so I will probably do that from time to time as well. The contents of the second sweet letter are below......

"Dear Dianne,
Thank you so much for making time to write to me even at work. When I had your letter, I had returned from school and my social worker called me to have and reply your nice letter. I am happy to hear from you Dianne.

Now is the season of mango fruit in Ghana and there is a mango tree in my house, how I wish you were here to enjoy it with me. Dianne, I will love to become a nurse when I grow up, what do you want to be in future?

My class teacher is called Mr David and he says it is good I like dictations it will help me become a good nurse. My family and I are always praying for you.

From your child: Kate Aban (with social worker’s signature as the writer)"

How sweet is that?

Now THAT'S the kind of letter I want to get!

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Can you identify? :-)

Recently, I was diagnosed with A.A.A.D.D. -
Age Activated Attention Deficit Disorder.
This is how it manifests:

I decide to water my garden.

As I turn on the hose in the driveway,
I look over at my car and decide it needs washing.

As I start toward the garage,
I notice mail on the porch table that
I brought up from the mail box earlier.

I decide to go through the mail before I wash the car.

I lay my car keys on the table,
Put the junk mail in the garbage can under the table,
And notice that the can is full.

So, I decide to put the bills back
On the table and take out the garbage first.

But then I think,
Since I'm going to be near the mailbox
When I take out the garbage anyway,
I may as well pay the bills first.

I take my checkbook off the table,
And see that there is only one check left.

My extra checks are in my desk in the study,
So I go inside the house to my desk where
I find the can of Coke I'd been drinking.

I'm going to look for my checks,
But first I need to push the Coke aside
So that I don't accidentally knock it over.

The Coke is getting warm,
And I decide to put it in the refrigerator to keep it cold.

As I head toward the kitchen with the Coke,
A vase of flowers on the counter
Catches my eye--they need water.

I put the Coke on the counter and
Discover my reading glasses that
I've been searching for all morning.

I decide I better put them back on my desk,
But first I'm going to water the flowers.

I set the glasses back down on the counter,
Fill a container with water and suddenly spot the TV remote.
Someone left it on the kitchen table.

I realize that tonight when we go to watch TV,
I'll be looking for the remote,
But I won't remember that it's on the kitchen table,
So I decide to put it back in the den where it belongs,
But first I'll water the flowers.

I pour some water in the flowers,
But quite a bit of it spills on the floor.

So, I set the remote back on the table,
Get some towels and wipe up the spill.

Then, I head down the hall trying to
Remember what I was planning to do.

At the end of the day:

The car isn't washed,

The bills aren't paid,

There is a warm can of Coke sitting on the counter,

The flowers don't have enough water,

There is still only 1 check in my checkbook,

I can't find the remote,

I can't find my glasses,

And I don't remember what I did with the car keys.

Then, when I try to figure out why nothing got done today,
I'm really baffled because I know I was busy all darn day,
And I'm really tired.

I realize this is a serious problem,
And I'll try to get some help for it,
But first I'll check my e-mail....

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

More than a holiday...

"The 4th of July is the time when we celebrate our nation-- a time to reflect on the freedoms which we believe are not granted by our government, but are self-evident rights for all humankind. Time for the Independence Day Quiz which asks, "How much do you really know?" Every day thousands leave their homelands to settle here in the land of the free. Before they become citizens they are required to take a citizenship test and score 80%. Could you pass this test if you took it today?"

"This quiz is made up of 20 questions found on the actual citizenship test with a few curveballs in the mix. The last ten questions may be a bit harder, but a score of around 24 out of 30 is considered a passing grade.

Take the quiz HERE, and let me know how you do....I got 22.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Two pleasant surprises.

I can tell that I'm going to have to post about Deeper Still as I process the whole weekend, but this link will give you some of what we experienced. It really was great.

Personally, one of my most immediate responses is that I LOVED Priscilla Shirer! I knew absolutely nothing about her going in and was SO pleasantly surprised. She was funny, incredibly thought provoking, and just a big ball of energy up there, so it was easy to stay interested in her message. She spoke about trusting and seeking God in the 'wilderness' situations of life. While she spoke of the desert being dry, dusty and barren, she suggested camping out in those times and seeking God, stating that 'the wilderness is where intimacy is ignited. God leads us there so we will experience and trust God more fully.' That was a powerful statement for me because I can surely look back during specific 'wilderness' times in my life and see how diligenty I sought God, how I looked for His lessons and had a huge desire to follow where He was leading. It's hard to think that He would lead us into a time of brokenness like that, but I know when it happened to me, one time specifically, my priorities were WAY out of whack. And even if it's not anything like what I experienced, there are other situations that are out of our control, but God still wants us to use that time to trust and meditate on His word, His ways and His purposes and just remain obedient. When we come out of those times, it is a witness to others and a huge step in our walk of faith. She had a great message and I was thrilled to hear her. I can tell that one of the next books I read will be one of hers.

The other thing I was most struck by was Mandisa. I had heard her name from American Idol, but had no idea who she was. She has evidently has traveled with Beth Moore's praise team for years, but American Idol is what got her name out there. This post will give you insight into her sweet heart and her love for the Lord. I was just smitten with her and intend to either get a CD of hers or get some songs from iTunes for my ipod. She was fabulous. With that, this is just a taste of what she offered: Don't worry about today and it's problems....we have much to look forward to, after all.....

"It's Only the World"!

If you have a chance to see either of these two ladies, DO IT. You won't be disappointed!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Busy week, but fun days

My sweet Kate boarded a plane this morning, BY HERSELF, to go see my mom in Florida! She has now done something that her Aunt Dianne has never done! I'm really proud of her. I know that's not such a big deal to anyone who flies often, but it is to me! :-) When my sister booked the flight, she'd asked about being able to walk Kate to the gate, but they told her that it depended on what the security risks were on the day Kate was flying, so, true worry-wart that I am, I began praying right then that all would be calm and she would be able to do that. As it turned out, my sister didn't even have to ask for a gate pass....the airline Kate flew evidently automatically gives them to parents of minors who are flying alone. Too bad the people on the phone didn't tell my sister that to begin with, but oh well, extra prayers never hurt anyone! :-)

We have rehearsals tonight and tomorrow night for our 4th of July program at church this Sunday...Patriotic Jamboree. It should be fun. I am looking forward to getting there tonight and seeing what's in store. It sounds like the set-up is nothing like we've ever done, so I'm excited to see it. Hopefully the rehearsals will go well......

THEN, what I'm really excited about....this weekend, I am going to the Deeper Still conference this weekend here in Atlanta with Beth Moore, Priscilla Shirer, and Kay Arthur. Well, actually, I'm not going WITH them, but they are the speakers. :-) I've only been to one other Beth Moore conference to see her in person and I and left there ready to become a groupie. She is just fabulous. I've done a couple of Kay Arthur studies, but never seen her in person. I know nothing at all about Priscilla Shirer, but I'm sure she's great as well. I am excited. I am going with my step-mom, her sister, and my step-mom's daughter. It will be nice to get away for a while and focus on GOD and spend time with Brenda (my step-mom) and Angie (her daughter). I don't know Brenda's sister very well, but it will be a good weekend. We are spending the night at some hotel downtown so that we don't have to fight traffic and pay so much for parking. There is supposed to be a shuttle that runs from the hotel to Phillips Arena, so that will be nice.

Then when we get home from that, I hit the ground running getting ready for Sunday and then program at church Sunday night. will all be fun, but it'll be a whirlwind.

And now, I need some opinions:

I think this black background makes all this somewhat easier to read and the other colors stand out more, but I don't know if I'm sold on it yet....any thoughts?

Friday, June 20, 2008

This convicts me:

"If our expenditure on comforts, luxuries, amusements, etc., is up to the standard common among those with the same income as our own, we are probably giving away too little. If our charities do not at all pinch or hamper us, I should say they are too small. There ought to be things we should like to do and cannot because our charitable expenditure excludes them."
-- C. S. Lewis

WOW. This was the 'Today's Quote' from Heartlight that changes on my blog sidebar every day. This was Tuesday's quote from this week. It stopped me in my tracks that morning and has been on my mind on and off since then.

You know, God uses so many different ways and times to convict me of things in my life that I know are not up to HIS standard. Sometimes it's my actions, sometimes it's my words, somtimes it's my thoughts or the unexpressed things I may not share with anyone, then sometimes I read things that covict me to the very core of my being. The quote above happens to be one of them.

I spent some time catching up on blog reading tonight...something I have let slide for several weeks for some odd reason. While doing this, I found that another friend had a great Memorial Day post that was thought provoking as well. I have had many of her same thoughts myself, and even though Memorial Day has passed, her post is worth mentioning again. You should go read it if you haven't already. (Great word, Jill!)

Here's the thing: I think I am struggling because the gas I am putting in my car is more expensive than it's ever been since I've been driving. I think I don't have enough because I don't have the money to do all the things I might want to do around my house right now. I think I am struggling because I am single and trying to live on one income in this day of rising prices of, it seems, everything...and it appears it will get worse before it gets better.

It is a bit scary with things like they are and money is definitely tight, but I'm not struggling.

The truth is.....I am blessed. I am lucky enough to have a car that runs and to be able to afford the gas for it right now. I am lucky enough to have a nice roof over my head. I am lucky enough to be able to put money into my retirement each payday. I am lucky to have food to cook or money to eat out if I choose (which can fall under the 'bad money management' category if I'm not careful!). I only mention things concerning money here because of the reference to lifestyle in CS Lewis' quote, but I am blessed to have the friends, relationships and family that I have. The truth is that I am not struggling in any sense of the word.

I feel convicted, almost ashamed, even admitting that here.

With all that said though, I do give and do what I can when I know there's a need, but I can't say that I give until feel the need to alter my 'wants' in order to do it and that's where I think the coviction of this quote comes in. I want to live with that 'pinch' that CS Lewis mentions, but I don't want to live with it because everything is costly right now or because I am a bad money manager. I want to live with it because my heart is open and willing to help others that need it far more than me. I want to live with it because God is bigger than I am and I know He will meet my needs if I follow through on the things He places on my heart. I want to live with it because I've quit looking at things like an accountant and have started looking at things in light of ministry and helping others.

Thank you, CS Lewis, for your timeless wisdom.

Monday, June 16, 2008

God's goodness

If there is one thing in my life I am sure of, it is that I am at the church where I am meant to be. I was raised going to a Methodist church in the city where I grew up, but after high school, they didn't have a college-age class for me to attend. I quickly found out that I didn't belong in the class with young marrieds, or young married couples with small children, so I just quit going. While this was the case, since that is one of the churches from my childhood and the only one we attended during my teenage years, it still holds a special place in my heart.

I started attending my current church with a friend who was away at college but didn't want to go to Sunday school by herself on the weekends she was home. At her urging, along with the fact that I knew I needed to be attending somewhere, I went. Initially, I wasn't totally comfortable in such a large church, but I still went with her the weekends she was home. Since that was all I was doing spiritually, it was obvious that I was just going through the motions because I knew I needed to be going somewhere. I loved the church and the preacher, but with this backwards personality that I have sometimes (!!), I just didn't know how to break in and make friends.

Unfortunately, it took my grandmother's death in 1988 to get my attention. I LOVED my grandmother! My dad is one of 18 kids, 15 living now. He's the second in line now, so with that many children, his youngest sister, my aunt, is only two years older than me. They lived out in the country....and when I say country, I mean 'country,' especially back then. I would go down there many summers and spend a week doing nothing but playing with my aunt. We would play games, ride bikes (on a dirt road of all things), ride on the trailer that was attached to a tractor to go feed the hogs every night (my aunt and I would try to push that slop all over each other...YUCK!), catch butterflies, just all the things that make childhood fun. My grandmother, even though she still had several children still at home, would always dote on me a bit. I loved it. I also loved the fact, and still do, that people who knew her would say that I looked just like she did when she was younger. I still hear that, even to this day. I think that's pretty cool because I loved my grandmother. Anyway, unfortunately, it took her death in 1988 to really get my attention spiritually. Although I was saved at a retreat as a teenager, I wasn't living like it and knew in my heart that my grandmother's death was the shake-up that I needed to make it happen. I wasn't doing anything bad, I just wasn't living the Christ-centered life that I should have been.

I started getting serious about my church attendance and my spiritual walk. I started looking at this life in light of eternity and knew the changes that I needed to make. I started putting a bit more effort into the relationships I had at this church and the friendships that I was making along the way. As creeped out as I am about being in front of people, it still took me until 1990 or 1991 to go forward and join this church, and even at that, I had to sit through the service with a friend who was a counselor because I knew she'd hold me accountable! I joined the choir in 1991, I believe, and except for a few months leave of absence in 1996, I have been in there since that date.

I am grateful for parents who took me and my sister to church every Sunday. We didn't always stay for 'big church,' but we did attend Sunday school and my sister and I were both involved in the youth group when we got to that age. I learned the basics there, but I feel that probably 80-90 % of my spiritual growth has come from my current church. God has used the preachers, members, classes, different ministies, etc to speak to me. He has given me some huge disappointments and hard times since I've been there, but also some fabulous friends and some of the most heartfelt relationships of my life. I just have no doubt that this is where I am supposed to be. Even the bad times have been times of great growth. Funny how that works, isn't it?

With all that being said, we have been without a pastor since last November. We have had some great preachers in the interim. Our search committee has been working on it and on Sunday, June 8, it was announced that Dr Mel Blackaby was their choice for our church. He was here over the weekend for various 'get to know you' things, but yesterday morning, he preached, then last night, he and his wife, Gina, gave their testimonies. I sat there listening to them, many times with tears in my eyes, because of the things they were sharing about their lives and how God has worked in them, but also that God, in all His faithfulness and goodness has chosen to bring them here as leadership for our church! I have a book that he co-wrote with his dad, Henry Blackaby, titled 'Experiencing God Together' that I've started reading again with new eyes since he's going to be our pastor. We still have several weeks before they get here, but these are exciting days and I cannot WAIT to see what God has in store.

I have no doubt I am in the church where I am meant to be. God is good!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

A tribute.

I'm not normally very political, but I have found myself quite sad since learning of Tim Russert's death yesterday. I left work early yesterday afternoon and when I got home, I had an e-mail from CNN Breaking News stating that Mr Russert had passed away, an untimely death, at the age of 58. I immediately clicked over to their website to find that he'd had a heart attack while working on his Meet the Press show for Sunday. He'd just returned from a trip to Italy with his family to celebrate his son's college graduation. Since then, outside of the things I've had to get done last night and earlier today, I have been consumed with listening to the news coverages, the tributes, etc. I just cannot hear enough.

One of the best things when I bought my house was that my bedroom was big enough that I could have a television in there. I'd never had that 'luxury' before, so I was thrilled when it all worked out like it did. In the 3.5 years I've been here, I've gotten used to watching the Today Show in the morning and hearing what's going on in the world before I head out to work each day. With things on the political realm as they have been for a while, Tim Russert was on there most every morning giving the facts and his insight on what was going on. His humor and truthfulness were things that I liked and his was an opinion that I began to look forward to hearing without even really realizing that I did.

It's funny how you can feel like you know someone simply by watching them on television, but that's kinda how I feel. With all the tributes I've heard since yesterday afternoon, it seems like the kindness and respect that I saw him give the Today Show hosts were qualities that were part of his everyday life. For some reason, I don't have a hard time believing that. In listening to him speak, he seemed very 'real' and I have been touched, much moreso than I expected to be, by the tributes I've heard from so many involved in his, employees, friends, politicians, etc, and it breaks my heart that so many of these people feel they have lost someone who was a true friend in every sense of the word. He was evidently a fabulous man and while he did incredible research in his job, he made others feel appreciated, valued, respected and honored by remembering the little things and celebrating the big moments in the lives of his friends, even as busy as he was. It seems that he was filled with such enthusiasm for every aspect of his life....father, husband, son, boss, mentor, political correspondent, spiritually, etc.

He evidently led a fabulous life and set the bar very high morally, ethically and professionally. We should all be so fortunate to have such a balanced life and be remembered so fondly. Even though I didn't know him personally, I'm going to miss him and I'm going to miss his insight as this upcoming election unfolds. It just seems sad that he won't be here for it.

I found this quote earlier this week and it seems appropriate to share here:

There are many fine things which you mean to do some day, under what you think will be more favorable circumstances. But the only time that is surely yours is the present, hence this is the time to speak the word of appreciation and sympathy, to do the generous deed, to forgive the fault of a thoughtful friend, to sacrifice self a little more for others. Today is the day in which to express your noblest qualities of mind and heart, to do at least one worthy thing which you have long postponed, and to use your God-given abilities for the enrichment of some less fortunate fellow traveler.

Grenville Kleiser, 1868-1953
American Author