23 February 2008

Life Is Too Short...

With mixed emotions, I write this post:
So many things I want to say, but I don't want to be too wordy.

Life is so strange.
One minute you're having a nice evening, walking in the cool evening, and then your cell phone rings.
Tragic news.
One of Clay's best friends from High School -- Ken Ashlock -- was killed yesterday in a car accident.
Apparently, he and 2 other men were returning home from work early in the morning and the guy who was driving fell asleep at the wheel.
Ken and another passenger were killed instantly when their truck hit a tree. The driver sustained minor injuries.

I don't know which one I'm sadder for... Ken and those he's left behind (wife & children, brothers, friends) or the man who will have to live the rest of his life with the guilt of this senseless accident.

Clay left this morning to start the 10 hour drive to Abilene, Texas to attend the funeral.

Even though we haven't been in contact with Ken on a regular basis these past few years, he is memorable figure in our marriage. Right after Clay and I were married, Ken and his wife, Dawnette came to visit and it was a wonderful & crazy visit! Ken was such a character... It's funny; just the other day, Clay was telling our daughters a "Ken story" of the time when they dared Ken to shave his head into a mohawk (Keep in mind, this was the early 80's).
Then there's the time that Ken climbed over the fence at the zoo and taunted a 500 pound tiger through the bars... I've never seen a man jump back so fast!

And I'll never forget the one about Ken... Well, you get the picture.

It's very sad around here tonight.
Go hug the ones you love and call the friends you haven't talked to in awhile.
Life is too short not to.

21 February 2008

Wake Me When It's Over...

No, I'm not talking about the election... well, not entirely.

I think I have alluded to my various health issues in previous posts... the struggles with my weight and ALL the issues that entails.
I have type II diabetes, severe hypo-thyroidism, & Empty Sella Syndrome (the last of which is probably a large contributor to the other two).

It's so frustrating living in this body that I no longer fully understand. I wasn't always overweight; In high school, I actually did some modeling and pageant work. And I have always been a fitness nut -- exercising in my room with home-made weights as early as age 15. By the time I got married, I could easily do 200 sit-ups/crunches without breaking a sweat (well, not much of one anyway.)

But in recent years, my body has betrayed me... Despite years of focus on healthy eating and somewhat regular exercise, I continue to struggle. I probably know more about nutrition and exercise than 95% of my friends, but you wouldn't know it to look at me. Oh, I see the condescending looks of those who think I simply need to "eat less & move more," and it makes me so mad.
I'm not huge by any means, but I am not happy with the way I look OR the way I feel.

Today, I had my check-up with my metabolic specialist/endocrinologist; the results were not good. Despite treatment, my thyroid levels have dropped even more & my hormones & blood sugar are all over the place. He is putting me on 2 more medications.
Arrrghhhhh!
I am NOT a person who likes to take medicine and for years I refused it when I probably needed it because I did not want to become "one of those people" who are always popping pills.
But, dang; what are you supposed to do when your body is a traitor???

Like Paul, I have prayed -- many times -- for this thorn in the flesh to be removed from me, but for whatever reason, that has not happened. I have dieted & exercised and checked my blood sugar religiously. I drink tons of water and I take a multi-vitamin every day. I have done various cleansing fasts and I incorporate homeopathic remedies whenever I can. But, for now, it's apparently not enough.

Don't get me wrong; I do believe that God is sovereign and that even THIS can be used for a greater good.

I still have faith that there is SOME purpose in this fight -- this struggle that would make even Sisyphus weep. And I DO believe that God is still working on me.

So, *sigh* I will not lose hope and I will not give up.

But sometimes... every now and then... I wish I could just sleep through it all & awake when He's "done."
You know what I mean?

18 February 2008

Does This Make Me Look F.A.T.?

Tonight -- at Healing Place Women -- Pastor Dino spoke to us about being F.A.T.

Now, before you get all huffy, let me clarify:
As women of God, we should WANT to be F.A.T.
FAITHFUL
AVAILABLE
TEACHABLE


Wow. Talk about a message to hit home!
Despite all my efforts and ambitions to be "all that God has called me to be," I sat there wondering,
"How F.A.T. am I, really?"

(from my notes:)
FAITHFUL
-->When I give my word, do people believe me?
-->Can people count on me?
-->Do I carry out my promises, even when there are "crises" and distractions all around me?
Hmmm... Ouch.
AVAILABLE
-->A disciple of Christ is really called to a life of availability. Jesus didn't wait on those who made excuses or who asked for more time (to sell a piece of land or to go bury their father...); He chose those who were willing to drop whatever was in their hands (even their livelihood -- their fishing nets!) and follow Him.
-->We need to tone it down and stop being such drama queens about every little inconvenience in our life.
3 Baby Steps to Simplify Your Life:
*Go low-maintenance for a while. You don't have to be on-call or on-display 24/7.
*Begin to minimize the ME, so you can maximize the OTHERS.
*Pray & then watch & see. Keep your antennae up. -- Let go of your personal agenda and focus on the agenda of God.
... Getting a little uncomfortable here?...

TEACHABLE
Be open to God's direction and guidance; you never know from where it may come.
Often God will use OTHERS to speak His message to us. If we are always focused on ourselves, we're gonna miss it!
Those who are always looking "down" on others, may miss seeing Jesus.
"When you did this for the least of these..."
Lord, help me to always be teachable!

What an amazing lesson! I was writing as fast as I could, it was so good, I didn't want to miss a single point. I hope this post of Pastor Dino's message speaks to you as much as it did to me.
And I hope that you, too, can become very F.A.T.

15 February 2008

Midnight On Bourbon Street


Where to begin?
Sleep deprivation and physical exhaustion are nothing compared to the whirlwind of thoughts and memories of last night...

Yesterday -- VALENTINE'S DAY -- was phenomenal.
Midnight Outreach -- where we show the love of Jesus to strippers and prostitutes and anyone who thinks they may be "forgotten," -- is always amazing, but last night was almost indescribable.

Our day started out in Baton Rouge where we visited some of our usual stops to give roses and chocolates to the ladies. But our "usual" route was diverted when we learned of a young woman who was in tremendous emotional pain. We drove to Scotlandville just to see her and let her know that SOMEONE does care. This woman is living in deplorable conditions with her two very young children. As my friend, Carole, said: "A 'CONDEMNED' rating would be a step up for her building." While we could not change her physical circumstances, Jesus showed up and changed her spiritual circumstances. Donna and Charity prayed with her & this morning she attended our "Ladies Thrive" weekly meeting. I can't wait to see how God moves in her life...

After visiting a couple of local strip clubs where we left boxes of chocolates and roses and balloons in the dressing rooms, we headed to New Orleans.
We partnered with a church there -- Church of the King -- and went to "train" them in the art of Midnight Ministry. I think Alliece said it best: What we are doing is taking the church to the streets. We are letting them know that someone does care; they are not forgotten.

And then we hit the streets of the Big Easy.
Talk about a field ripe for harvest!
Bourbon Street was surreal.
Surrounded by so many lights and music and smells, but also by so much pain and loneliness.
Our trepidation and hesitancy quickly disappeared when we realized that this was going to be a whole new ballgame: Here, there were no suspicious bouncers blocking our way. The only suspicion we encountered was from those who thought we were selling the roses... They couldn't believe they were FREE. It's not common to get something for nothing in this town...

Here, on Bourbon Street, the clubs WELCOMED us in! The ladies eagerly accepted our roses and chocolates and our supply of 300 roses was depleted in less than 20 minutes. So many of them told us how much they appreciated it -- how NO ONE had ever done anything like this before -- how glad they were we had come...

For some, it may have been the only "Valentine" they would receive.
For many, we may be the only Bible they ever read.
As one of our group quipped, last night we did a "Drive-By Jesus," and I can't think of a better way to spend this holiday of LOVE.

We arrived home around 2 AM -- exhausted, but ELATED -- by what God had done.


My pics were taken with my cell phone, so please forgive their quality. CAROLE has some MUCH better pictures from last night over at her blog; be sure to check them out!
For more about Midnight Outreach read here.
De-thorning the roses and tying each one with ribbons and cards...

Getting Ready to ROLL!

A picture of some of our group with one of the club owners!
She was SO nice and SO appreciative of what we were trying to do...
We definitely made a connection here!

12 February 2008

Sometimes The Answer Is "No"

"And we know that in all things, God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose." -- Romans 8:28 NIV


This is such a difficult post to write...
It seems like the subject of God's sovereignty and what we believe about healing have been a frequent topic around here, lately.

Last night, Amy Stockstill -- the young bride of
Pastor Joel Stockstill (Bethany World Prayer Center) -- went on to be with the Lord after a difficult battle with cancer and subsequent pneumonia.
Thousands of people have been praying for her daily -- even more so over the past week. Last Monday, this was the scene in front of Baton Rouge General Hospital:
The picture doesn't show it, but there are over 1500 young people standing in front of the hospital praying for this young woman's healing...
And last night she died.

Is my faith shaken?
NO.
And I pray to God that not one of theirs is, either.

Do I believe that God still heals today?
Absolutely.
Do I believe He always will?
No.
We may never know the reason(s) for the way God answers our prayers, but God is sovereign.
His will and His judgment go beyond the limits of our human logic and "rational" reasoning.

I could speculate here WHY Amy wasn't healed... what went wrong, what this could signify, how this is the "ultimate healing,"...
but it really makes no difference what I think.
I know that God in His infinite wisdom can see beyond the here and now -- beyond the selfish desires of our hearts -- and act in the greater interest of His will.

God is not a puppet.
Prayer DOES work -- but only within the confines of HIS greater purpose.
We cannot use our faith to dictate how God should act. Ultimately, He has the final say and while it might never make sense to US, we should respect our God -- as GOD -- and His decisions as wisdom beyond our grasp.
That's why the answer is sometimes "No."

God's still here.
He still loves you and He still cares.

"And I keep wanting You to be fair...
But that's not what You said.
I want certain answers to these prayers;
But that's not what You said."
-- Sara Groves What I Thought I Wanted

ARRANGEMENTS FOR AMY STOCKSTILL

10 February 2008

NEXT!


Two weeks ago, I started Leadership Class at HPC and it has been phenomenal! It's only the 3rd week and I feel like I have learned so much already. A lot of it is not necessarily a revelation of things I didn't *know* so much as it's helping me to see them more clearly
It has been a very revealing class for me, personally. I am seeing major areas in my personal walk that I really need to work on!


Today, they talked about NEXT-LEVEL LEADERSHIP and I have enough notes for 10 blog posts -- it was so great!
Ann Morrow spoke to us about how we can be content, but not be satisfied, and this is a good thing! We should always be seeking to improve -- always asking Jesus to take us to the next level, spiritually.
No matter what "season" your life is in right now, learn to embrace it and seek to learn all you can from it -- whether the circumstances are good or bad. Embrace it with joy and without complaining; otherwise, you will not learn anything and you'll never move to the next level. This makes a lot of sense to me.


Often, life can hit us with circumstances that we never dreamed or imagined... and we often don't have a say in how things play out. But when we don't have control over the EXTERNAL, we do have control over the INTERNAL: Our response to what we are going through.
We can either choose to remain in the "victim" mode and kvetch and complain
OR
we can choose to accept the lessons and training that being caught in such a situation affords us.
If we choose to learn from it, there is a good chance that somewhere down the line, we will find that we are better equipped to handle another situation better, because of what we learned from this one. That may be hard to believe in life's toughest moments...
It's difficult to see the beauty in our darkest hour until another challenge illuminates the positive change in us.

So, will you stay where you are, or are you ready to move forward?

07 February 2008

I've Traveled to the Year 3000...

And if you are a parent of a teen or pre-teen, you know exactly what I'm talking about.

I have had that song stuck in my head for about 3 days.
On Monday -- despite feeling horrible and coughing my head off -- I took my middle daughter to see the Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus 3-D Concert Movie (with guest appearance by the Jonas Bros.).
I have to say (even in my Day-Quil-induced semi-conscious state) that I really enjoyed it!
No, really!
I did.

I was just talking to my very good friend, Shawn, and we were remembering back... we didn't have any *positive* secular music influences when we were kids. I mean, there was good music, but it was a choice between adult disco or rock, kiddie music (think soundtrack to Mary Poppins), Gospel, or Dolly Parton Country.
I LOVE that my kids have Miley Cyrus & the Jonas Brothers to listen to in addition to Hillsong and Sara Groves and Tammy Trent.
I don't WANT my kids to know who Britney Spears or the Pussycat Dolls are.
Sorry.
It's not like I'm depriving them of exposure to great music or anything... LOL

Of course, I grew up listening to Pat Benetar, Jethro Tull, The Moody Blues, Queen, Pink Floyd, The Carpenters, and Peter Frampton.
Later, I graduated to the likes of U2, Boston, Kansas, R.E.M., (pre-freak)Michael Jackson and R.E.O. Speedwagon.
But none of those are really suitable for the pre-teen set, so it's nice to know my kids have something to listen to that doesn't include words like, "Aqualung." (no offense)

All in all, I thought it was a pretty cute concert/movie -- and certainly MUCH better than having to endure the crowd and noise of the real thing -- but I'll admit I'm more jazzed about the preview for the upcoming U2-3D concert movie, set for wide release in IMAX theaters on February 15th!

05 February 2008

04 February 2008

Favorite Super Bowl Ads...







And one for the kids...