25 December 2009

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!


Merry Christmas to all of my faithful readers & to family & friends!
May God show you great favor & amazing blessings in the coming year...
God Bless You!

20 December 2009

What It Really Means...

I'm no saint and I've certainly "lost my witness" more than a few times in my life. I've missed many opportunities to "be Jesus" to people who needed to see Him in me, I won't deny.
I don't claim to be perfect and I'm definitely not holier-than-thou.

But what does it mean to be a Christian?

I know some Christians who will bend over backwards to attend an outreach or make a donation, but when you say "Hello" to them, they look the other way or simply turn around.
They profess a philosophy of "servant" to anyone who is listening, but they are anything but to people in their own church.
They give their time and money, but when it comes to being friendly -- or, for that matter, just cordial -- to someone they feel is beneath them, their attitude does a 180*.
Why?
This is certainly not the example Jesus set for His disciples!

Several years ago, when my oldest daughter was going through Confirmation at another church, the students were all given shirts that read, "Claim the Name." After observing a few of the students' behavior, on several occasions, I wondered if they even knew what the phrase meant.
How can one "claim the Name" of Jesus while acting like a pompous, uptight jerk?
Are we mocking God when we choose to condescend to those we have deemed beneath ourselves?
How can we profess the love of Jesus while acting like we are above the very people we are serving beside?
Seriously, where do we get off?

Not that this behavior is ok for anyone.
Really, who does anyone think they are?
Arrogance and pride are ugly traits no matter who you are. But for Christians, they are downright destructive.
We need to remember this: If not for God's grace, mercy, and the fate of being born who, where and when we are, we might be in the place of those we cast judgment upon...
So much of what we believe makes us "superior" was GIVEN to us, freely. We didn't "earn" it or "deserve" it. It was just given.
So, how can we -- especially we, who claim the Name -- treat anyone as anything less than another precious soul, a friend, a brother or sister in Christ?

If we are going to call ourselves "Christian," then we had better understand just what that really means.

15 December 2009

This One's Dedicated to Tiger Woods...

People never crumble in a day.
Daddies never crumble in a day.
Families never crumble in a day...

SLOW FADE -- by Casting Crowns



SLOW FADE (lyrics)

Be careful little eyes what you see
It's the second glance that ties your hands
As darkness pulls the strings

Be careful little feet where you go
For it's the little feet behind you
That are sure to follow

It's a slow fade
When you give yourself away
It's a slow fade
When black and white are turned to gray

And thoughts invade, choices are made
A price will be paid
When you give yourself away
People never crumble in a day

It's a slow fade
It's a slow fade

Be careful little ears what you hear
When flattery leads to compromise
The end is always near

Be careful little lips what you say
For empty words and promises
Lead broken hearts astray

It's a slow fade
When you give yourself away
It's a slow fade
When black and white are turned to gray

And thoughts invade, choices are made
A price will be paid
When you give yourself away
People never crumble in a day

The journey from your mind to your hands
Is shorter than you're thinking
Be careful if you think you stand
'Cause you just might be sinking

It's a slow fade
When you give yourself away
It's a slow fade
When black and white are turned to gray

And thoughts invade, choices are made
A price will be paid
When you give yourself away

People never crumble in a day
Daddies never crumble in a day
Families never crumble in a day

Oh, be careful little eyes what you see
Oh, be careful little eyes what you see
For the Father up above is looking down in love
Oh, be careful little eyes what you see

02 December 2009

Thankful

I hope your Thanksgiving was wonderful!
Mine was nothing short of eventful...
I did go home to Arkansas to see family, but my visit did not go *exactly* as planned.

The night I arrived to my dad's house, he had just left to go the ER with chest pains!
He was admitted to the hospital with full-blown pneumonia which is pretty scary since he is almost 71 years old! The weird thing is, he wasn't even coughing. My dad NEVER gets sick and his fever went very high. The doctor finally agreed to let him go home (after 4 days) just before Thanksgiving.
I am happy -- and Thankful! -- to report that he is doing much better. I appreciate all of your prayers for him.

Unfortunately, with all of the craziness surrounding my dad, I did not get to see any of my friends this trip. I sincerely apologize to all of you who I told I would contact over Thanksgiving! Things just didn't go as planned and even after Daddy came home, I felt that this Thanksgiving was meant just for family.
I know you understand, but I am sorry that we were not able to connect this time. I hope to return to Arkansas in the next 2 months; I promise to keep you posted!

Having such a scare has made me that much more aware of how truly blessed I really am. This holiday season, I am thinking of all of my family and friends, and giving thanks for each and every one of you. Love, family, and friendship are amazing gifts from God & I don't ever want to take them for granted.

08 November 2009

Something Besides the Ordinary

Three friends of mine just returned last week from STORY Conference (a conference for writers & Christian leaders). Next year, I hope to go, too
[if I'm not on a book tour ;) ].

I was talking with two of them a couple of days ago and Donna shared one of the most profound messages she heard:
"Are you living a good story?"

Wow.
And then, my new friend, Valerie, wrote this on her facebook page:

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover."

See a theme here?

This is the way I have been feeling about my own life, of late... When I look back on my years at age 80 or 90 (or God willing, 100), will I have a story to tell? If not, then why?

I think so many of us are about "getting through the day, the week, the end of the month," that we miss a lot of opportunities to make our lives count. We sleep away the hours or spend inordinate amounts of time on the computer (ahem), or simply piddle around doing nothing but watching TV or reading a good book... and there's nothing wrong with any of that. But when you get to the end of your life, will you wish you had done more?

Don't get me wrong; I'm not on that whole, "bucket list" kick and I am definitely not a reckless daredevil. I don't plan on taking up skydiving or bungee jumping (not that there's anything wrong with that).
However, I have learned, in the past three years, that stepping outside of my comfort zone is usually rewarding. And I now have an intense desire to make my life count for something besides the ordinary.

When people caution me about my involvement in fighting human trafficking, I think to myself,
"You just don't get it."
I am careful and we don't do anything rash or stupid, but ultimately, we entrust our safety to God and His Word states that
"no weapon formed against (us) will prosper..."[Isaiah 54:17] as long as we are acting within His will.
And I do believe that this is God's will... I believe His heart is breaking for the thousands upon thousands of women and children who are being so cruelly exploited by the sex-trade industry.

So I step out... WAY outside of my comfort zone.
I had never been in a strip club before my first Midnight Outreach and I had never knowingly talked to a prostitute before that first night on the streets of Baton Rouge. I had to get really uncomfortable in order to find relevance. I thank God that I belong to a church which helps us to do just that!

But when I get old, I want to be able to tell my children that I LIVED my life -- I didn't sleep it away or let it pass me by. I want to be eternity-minded and reach out to those who think they are forgotten.

This holiday season, why don't you try it, too?
Adopt a widow, participate in an outreach, commit to a cause, volunteer at a homeless shelter...
Wake up and DO something.
Reach out to runaway youth, adopt a child, become a "Big Brother or Big Sister..."
If you live in Baton Rouge, check this out: BRDC

And if you have a story, then tell it.
I am, and I want it to be GOOD.


05 November 2009

02 November 2009

This Little Piggy... Went Straight to Bed!


I have Swine Flu.

Ok, we don't know for *sure* that it's H1N1 because nobody's testing around here anymore. They diagnose based on symptoms.
I guess if you feel like yesterday's leftover cat vomit, that's enough to diagnose you.

Oh, and the fact that I've been sick for 9 straight days.
My symptoms:
*100 degree fever -- my friend in nursing school told me that, contrary to popular belief, they are seeing cases of H1N1 without the super-high fevers.
*Headache
*Body aches
*Sneezing/sniffly nose
*And a cough that just won't quit.
It's now turned into bronchitis as well.
Yeah, fun.

Quite frankly, I'm somewhat relieved.
It's always better to get the fear out of the way quickly and replace it with reality.
And I would much rather gain immunity this way than through a shot which may, or may not, work.
In any event, I will be spending the next few days rolling in the mud and rooting for truffles in bed playing on my new laptop. =)

29 October 2009

Turning 40 ---{-@

Forty years ago tomorrow... I was (finally) born.
I say "finally" because my mother had the joy of carrying me 11 months.

Yeah, you read that right.
ELEVEN MONTHS.

No, I'm not joking and that's no lie.

At first, the doctors thought they had made a terrible mistake in calculating her due date, but when I was only hours old, I was lifting my head (while on my stomach!) and looking around the room. I was definitely "late," of that, they were sure. But could I really be 2 whole months late??
Back then, they did not induce like they do now.
But my original due date was for the end of August and I was born the day before Halloween!

My grandmother came half-way around the world to be present at my birth.
She patiently waited for 2 months and then her visa ran out and she had to fly back home.
And so, my mother waited... and waited... and waited.
I'm sure she was wondering if I was EVER going to make an appearance!

When my mother became pregnant with my younger sister, her due date was for late September. Her doctor, still not fully convinced my due date was in error, jokingly gave my mom a 2nd due date... for late November.
My sister was born on November 29th.

As for turning 40, I only have one thing to say: Ptttthhhh!
And: At least I'm not as old as the Internet.
It turned 40 today.
Happy Birthday Al Gore. (Ha)

22 October 2009

Never In a Million Years...

Everybody dreams -- as a child -- what they would like to be when they grow up. Years go by and those dreams shift and mature, and with time, the potential starts to fade. Our focus becomes narrower -- more confined -- to the things we feel are suitable for our quality of life.
We may think, "Well, this is it. This is my purpose in life, my infinitesimal mark on history..."

But then you hand God your life.

You entrust to Him everything you've ever wished for, dreamed of, or imagined.
It's not an act of desperation so much as a decision.
This decision could be made in a moment of sheer frustration -- when you think your life couldn't get any worse... or any more mundane.
Or it may simply be a longing deep within which keeps tugging at your conscience, letting you know there is SO much more to life than this.

Never in a million years would I have pictured myself where I am today.
The married with 3 children part is fairly typical, and something for which I feel profoundly blessed, but nothing else has turned out like I planned.

And that's a good thing.

--> Never in a million years would I have believed I would be writing a book about my very personal and shame-filled struggle with my weight.
--> Never in a million years would I have guessed that I would be leading a group of ladies who have spent years battling food addiction and feelings of self-loathing and utter futility.
--> Never in a million years would I have thought I would be spending my Friday nights going into strip clubs and into the darkest parts of the inner city to reach out to workers of the sex trade industry, letting them know that they are not forgotten.
--> And never once did I dream that my fire and passion for human justice, civil rights, and child protection would evolve into a war against human trafficking.

But that's what God does.
We offer Him the ordinary, the mundane existence we live each day, and He turns our world upside down. He shows us the extent of His power and compassion. He opens our eyes to all that has evaded our glance. And He breaks our heart for those who are crying out to be rescued.

These weren't the dreams of my childhood.
These are eternal aspirations.
And I have no regrets.

If you would like more information re: the anti-human trafficking movement, I highly recommend two movies, in particular:
Human Trafficking starring Mira Sorvino &
Trade starring Kevin Klein

You can also learn more by visiting our website: www.traffickinghope.org

19 October 2009

14 October 2009

HOPE

That's the theme of this year's LIVE THE DREAM Conference and I can't think of a more timely topic. Lately, it seems like so many people are lacking just that:
Hope.

It's such a small word, but it holds huge connotations.
Without hope, it's hard to see past your current circumstances.
Without hope, the present economy seems like a never-ending nightmare.
Without hope, a child can't dream and a mother can't rest.
And without hope, the darkness of this world will threaten to overshadow all the good that we are trying to do in the name of Christ.

But despair does not have the final word.
We DO have hope -- even when all else fails.
God is faithful even when our world is crumbling around us.

You were born for this moment -- this place in time.
God doesn't make mistakes.
What are you doing to bring hope into the life of someone who has lost it?

If you, or someone you know, are in need of hope, please register today for Live the Dream. Or, if you are registered, consider sponsoring someone who cannot afford the registration fees... it only takes a moment, but it could impact a lifetime.

06 October 2009

What I'm Listening To Right Now...

Tenth Avenue North




Toby Mac feat. Kirk Franklin & Mandisa



Stellar Kart



Tell me what you're listening to!

17 September 2009

WHY

So many people don't get what we do... staying out 'til 2 AM (like last night), handing out roses and chocolates to men and women of the night.

My friend, Carole, wrote an excellent blog post about Midnight Outreach and you can (and should!) read it HERE.
This really happened.
And it's WHY we do it.

14 September 2009

Sometimes Life Just Doesn't Stop

Ok, well, hopefully it never stops... but could it maybe just slow down a bit??

Life has been crazy (in a good way, for the most part) over the past several weeks and that's why I haven't posted much. Just to update you:

My Christian weight loss support group met for the first time (this semester) last night and I had 26 ladies attend! It was a wonderful turnout and I felt really great about our new location. I am SO thrilled to have a sweet friend, Amanda, helping me with the group this fall... she was amazing! She made copies and took roll and helped me set up and clean up afterward. Honestly, I'd like to hire her as my personal assistant! Ha!

My book -- after encountering some rather difficult setbacks -- is making progress again. The book proposal, as difficult as it was, really helped me to see which areas I need to work on more and what needs to be totally rewritten. I had about a week where I felt absolutely disheartened and defeated, but God is faithful and I now have what I need to press forward. I know I was supposed to write this book and I know the past 2 years have not been in vain. Your prayers for its absolute completion and publication are much appreciated.

Midnight Outreach is taking on a whole 'nother level... I'm not sure how much I'm allowed to divulge here; For now, let's just say we are kicking it up a notch. =)

Our homeschooling year kicked off last week and it's going to be interesting teaching 3 different grade levels at one time, but I think it will be great. We are off to a good start. The girls did a unit study on September 11th last week in memory of the 8th anniversary. It's amazing how even now, 8 years later, it still makes me swallow hard and I feel slightly nauseated by the events of that day. Like so many, I will never forget where I was at the moment I first heard...

Well, it's time to administer a spelling and vocabulary test, so I'm going to sign off. Hopefully, I will have time to post more than once or twice this month!

04 September 2009

Taken and Trade(d)

Just because you choose not to see
does not mean it's not there.
Just because you cover your ears or
look the other way, does not alter reality one bit.

And reality is this:
Slavery is worse (and more widespread) today than it ever was before in history... even during the peak of African slave trading a few hundred years ago.
And it has nothing to do with race.

Women, teenagers, children, even young boys -- of every race, color, and nationality -- are being forced into the sex trade industry every day.
But most of us choose to look the other way.

Worldwide estimates for human trafficking are near the 4,000,000 person mark.
Four MILLION people who are being abducted, or traded for drugs or money, and who are now trapped in a living nightmare from which they cannot escape.
4 Million.
If we're not seeing it, it's because we're not looking.

We don't want to know.
It's not convenient for us to know.
We'd rather sit in our safe, middle class, comfort zones and stress about things like gas prices and whether or not we can afford a trip to Disney World. We follow celebrity stories on E or online, hungry for the drama therein; meanwhile, real drama is going on right in our own town, perhaps even right down the street.

To refuse to see or know that human trafficking is taking place makes us, on some level, complicit in the crime itself. I'm not saying that you have to become the next James Bond or join the CIA, but there are things we can ALL do to help bring justice and freedom to these victims of slavery. There are organizations like CYRUS, INT'L and A21 which you can join & support and through which you can educate yourself.

I challenge you to open your eyes and see what is going on right in front of you.
Rent these 2 movies: TAKEN (staring Liam Neeson) and TRADE (starring Kevin Klein).
Take a stand.
Raise awareness.
There's a new abolition movement and it's going to take every ounce of humanity for it to succeed.
Watch these movies & talk about them with your family and your friends.

I dare you.


*Please note: the two films mentioned above are very disturbing and (especially Trade) are very graphic. Even so, they are important films and need to be seen. Do not watch them with children present.

Carole has written an amazing post about this topic over at her blog: Check it out

21 August 2009

Not My Gifting...

I can cook and I make pretty cool cakes.
I can write and I'm a fast reader.
And I can organize -- other people's spaces (apparently NOT my own).
But there is one thing that I have not been gifted to do.

Actually, there are a lot of things that are not "my gifting."

I can't sing.
I can't dance.
And I can't paint.
Seriously.
Even when I try reallllly hard and I'm oh, so careful and tape around everything and take my time... it still ends up looking like a preschooler did it.
Nope.
Painting is not one of my gifts, but that's ok, 'cuz I've got Carole!

My friend -- over at the Wardrobe & the White Tree -- she knows how to paint!
And do you know what's really sickening?
She doesn't even have to tape off first!

Seriously, if you live in the Baton Rouge area and you need something painted (interior, exterior, furniture, etc.), she is the person to call! Check out her video of some of the things she's painted:
She'll Paint ANYTHING.

Look what she did for me:
BEFORE

AFTER!

19 August 2009

What I Did Last Summer...

Now that school is back in full swing, my thoughts turn to my own childhood days when I would begin a new school year.

Everyone remembers the dreaded, "What I Did Last Summer" essays assigned by (I believe) every 6th grade teacher in these contiguous United States. The story lines droned on, swimming together in their similarities...

... a week at Church Camp...
... weekend with my grandparents...
... nothing. Just watched TV...
dotted with the occasional blast of excitement when some lucky classmate would gloat over a family vacation to Disney World or the Grand Canyon.
But those were few & far between.

Too bad my kids are homeschooled.
They would have the coolest essays because this summer was nothing short of life-changing.
My two older daughters had the privilege of participating in Healing Place Church's Summer Student Internship known as Navigate & Saturate.

For almost 8 weeks, they attended classes on dealing with world issues (homelessness, poverty, etc.) and Biblical studies.And they worked hard... serving it up for the community in true HPC fashion!

Some or all of the interns were involved with each of these outreaches:
They held car washes (completely free)
cleaned up & painted a school and playground
visited nursing homes and spent time with the patients
participated in the homeless breakfast outreach (NoPlace)
stood on blazing street corners & gave away ice-cold water
spent an afternoon serving kids of the inner city
& volunteering with VBS.
But it wasn't ALL work. ;)
There was a lot of playtime as well.
Hiking through Tunica Hills
Field Day
Free Manicures
Bowling
and, let's not forget, Medieval Day!Each day was exhausting and every day was a blast.
I wish I could have done something like this when I was their age.
Beats spending their days at the mall or lounging in front of the tv.
Best of all, they can't wait to do it all over again next summer.

Students Serving
THIS is the future of HPC!

11 August 2009

Something Bigger Coming...

Yesterday, I met with two very dear friends who also happen to be writers.
We have made a commitment to one another to hold each other accountable, to pray for one another, and to support one another through this crazy process of writing and publishing our books.
I always come away from our meetings refreshed and enlightened and highly motivated to write.

One of these friends is going through a time of testing as changes she didn't anticipate begin to take place. As she sat sharing her concerns with us, I had a very clear glimpse of what God is doing in her life... It seemed fairly obvious to me that He is moving things around -- shifting her responsibilities and priorities -- because He is about to do something bigger.
Much bigger.

While she was fretting that the impending changes were ominous for her "vision," it suddenly became apparent (to me) that the opposite was true.
These changes would actually make it possible for her dream to become reality!

And then it hit me:
How often do I do the same thing... worry about something that isn't going like I planned only to later discover God's hand was in it all along?
Why is it so hard for us -- for ME -- to remember that God sees the bigger picture?
He knows what lies before us and He sees the path's end even while we are still very near its beginning.
Why can't we trust Him with the vision He has given us?

I am speaking more to myself here, than to my friend.
While encouraging her with these very words, I felt a nudge in my own spirit.

When God gives you a vision -- a task, a mission, a purpose -- your only concern should be obedience to that task.
But so often, we take the burden upon ourselves of making the dream a reality.
This was never part of His plan, yet we act as though "if I don't do it, nobody will."
We forget that God is in control and no matter what obstacles the enemy places in our path -- as long as we are faithful to what we have been given -- God will bring it all to completion.
It may not be in the time we allotted and it may not come about just as we envisioned, but if it is truly from God, He will make it happen.
When we come across detours or roadblocks, we shouldn't falter. Perseverance and unwavering trust should be our standard response.

I write this here as a reminder to myself the next time I start to worry and fret about writing my book proposal and sending those query letters... it's not my job to publish this book.
I have only been given the task of writing it.
It's up to God to do the rest.
(whew!)

29 July 2009

Boo! Hiss!


There's something wrong with this picture...

Warner Bros.' new horror movie Orphan proclaims that:
"It must be hard to love an adopted child as much as your own."


I beg your pardon?


Let me get this straight: in this age of over-zealous, political correctness, it's not ok to bash any group of people EXCEPT... oh, let's say, a child who has lost both parents?
In a time when orphanages are overrun and the foster care system busting at the seams, Hollywood thinks it's perfectly acceptable to paint orphans as little sociopaths waiting to destroy your family.
Nice.
Oh, it's a horror film all right.
I'm horrified that this movie even made it into production.

Hey, while we're at it, why don't we go ahead and make fun of the children starving in Ethiopia, too? I mean, there's gotta be some good fodder there, right?
Really, what makes them -- what made ANYONE who approved this movie, at any level -- think this was acceptable?
And why would we, who know and love many former orphans, support such rubbish at the expense of children?
I have several friends (like Carole)who have adopted and whom I admire greatly for doing so. Their adoption experiences have been nothing short of amazing. This film is an insult to them and everything they hold dear.

Yeah, yeah... I know... this isn't the first movie to take a swipe at orphans or to make light of psychopathy in children.

It's just "make believe;" what's the big deal?

The big deal is this:
Unless you are willing to step up and actually DO something productive to help the people you mean to exploit, then you really should keep your labels to yourself. We don't really need another horror flick, but millions of children really do need a home.

The ONLY thing this movie will accomplish is to hurt the adoption and foster care programs.
Those prospective parents who have lingering doubts about adoption will leave this film convinced that adopting is not for them.
Meanwhile, as the movie's execs sit around counting their millions, 145 million children will go to bed tonight without a real home and without a family.
145 MILLION!

I've got news for Hollywood; that's NOT entertainment.

If you feel the same, then I urge you to please visit:

25 July 2009

Bon Qui Qui Encore

After the past week, I needed a good laugh. So here it is again... this just never gets old:

21 July 2009

Are You Living Your Dream?

This fall marks the 3rd annual Healing Place Church Women's Conference: Live the Dream
I cannot adequately express to you how important this conference will be.
You see, I almost didn't go to the first one... I thought, "Well, I guess I should go to support my church & Pastor DeLynn," but my heart was not really in it at the time. I simply saw it as one more thing on my extremely long "to-do" list.

That changed almost immediately.
The opening sequence had me in tears within the first 5 minutes. That was followed by amazing worship and incredibly talented speakers.
The entire weekend went beyond all expectations.
There was hilarious entertainment, great food, and luxurious pampering and gifts. Most of all, there were strong women speakers, who had been through some very bad things in their lives, encouraging other women to step up to the plate.

For 3 days, we laughed, we cried, we cheered, and most of all... we were forever changed.

That first conference occurred not long after I had been given my own dream about this book that I am now finishing. I had not really done much with it by that point, but the ladies who spoke that weekend set my heart on fire.
They talked about how we are each given a task in this life -- a journey, or race, if you will -- and it is up to us to finish that race. It's so easy to get side-tracked and start looking behind you to see what (and who) you've left behind. But this is when we are most likely to trip and fall. (It's impossible to successfully run forward while looking back)

Equally dangerous is looking toward others running their races in their own lanes. What happens, when we start longing for different dreams and gifts, is we start to drift into the lanes of other's, into things we were never meant to pursue.
And that can lead to feelings of inadequacy or frustration.
It doesn't matter what your neighbor is doing or if you think you are "behind."
The important thing is to keep your eyes on the prize and finish strong, completing the work God has put before you.

Let go of what's gone and stop living in the past; Look to your future and make that dream a reality.

I can't tell you how much those words and that weekend changed my life.
I stopped taking for granted this short time I have here.
I vowed to step up and be obedient to the call I knew I had been given.
I quit worrying about what others might think and just tried to please the only One Who really matters.
I began to walk in my own lane, and then I began to run in freedom.

This year's conference will be nothing less than inspiring for all who attend with an open heart.
If you are in need of encouragement and refreshing, you do not want to miss it.
I have never regretted my decision to go; indeed, I thank God I decided to go!
You will, too.

Guest speakers this year are: Christine Caine, Bobbie Houston, Charlotte Gambill, and Natalie Grant.
Trust me when I say, you've never seen or heard anything like this before!
Click here to register or for more info:
LIVE THE DREAM '09

AND
To see the awesome video recap from last year's conference,
CLICK HERE

*******

17 July 2009

Where No Church Has Gone Before...

Stardate: 2009 AD

Actually, I can't say "no church" because I'm sure other churches have visited Bourbon Street, but probably not with the same mission we have tonight.

Tonight is Midnight Outreach Training in New Orleans with Church of the King.
We have actually done training with them before & this will be our 3rd time going to Bourbon Street. I smile when I think about my church and how lucky I am to belong to one who allows us to do this outreach. We are very blessed!

Training for this outreach is extremely important. We have rules and they are there to keep us safe as well as to protect the ministry we are trying to do.
As I've mentioned before, we don't preach at the girls or look down on them or make them feel small in any way. We don't gawk or point or act superior.
That is not our purpose.
We look them right in the eyes and smile and hand them a rose (and often, some other small gift).

The 1st time we visited the strip clubs on Bourbon Street, the ladies working there told us that no one had ever done anything like this before. They were very eager to talk to us and know why we would come down to that part of the French Quarter late at night to give them gifts.
We told them that we wanted them to know they are not forgotten. Some of them invited us to come back.

Attached to the roses and gifts are small cards that will point them back to Church of the King (a non-denominational church) and there is a phone number they can call if they need help.

Tonight, we will also be putting up posters in bathrooms for young women who are caught in the sex-trade industry. Bathrooms are sometimes the only safe havens for these young women and the posters will direct them to a hotline where they can receive immediate assistance.

I've been a part of some great churches who did good work, but I can't imagine any of them doing this.
It's time the church tore down its walls.
We are bringing the church to those who might never visit one, voluntarily.
I pray that some hurting girl will find hope tonight -- a glimpse of another life she never thought possible.
That is our mission.

13 July 2009

A Less Desirable Point of View

I have deliberated whether or not to post about this for a couple of days...
I really do NOT want to turn my blog into a political soapbox or battlefield.

But as a Christian and historian, I just cannot keep quiet about such an egregious lapse in clarity and judgment!
I am referring to the recent interview of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg printed in the New York Times: The Place of Women On the Court

Whether you are pro-life (I am) or pro-choice is irrelevant to my point here.
The real issue is the disturbing implication in what she says regarding abortion. If you click on the above link and go to the end of page 3 & top of page 4, you will see what I mean. For the sake of posterity, I will reprint that portion of the article here:

Q: If you were a lawyer again, what would you want to accomplish as a future feminist legal agenda?

JUSTICE GINSBURG: Reproductive choice has to be straightened out. There will never be a woman of means without choice anymore. That just seems to me so obvious. The states that had changed their abortion laws before Roe [to make abortion legal] are not going to change back. So we have a policy that affects only poor women, and it can never be otherwise, and I don’t know why this hasn’t been said more often.

Q: Are you talking about the distances women have to travel because in parts of the country, abortion is essentially unavailable, because there are so few doctors and clinics that do the procedure? And also, the lack of Medicaid for abortions for poor women?

JUSTICE GINSBURG: Yes, the ruling about that surprised me. [Harris v. McRae — in 1980 the court upheld the Hyde Amendment, which forbids the use of Medicaid for abortions.] Frankly I had thought that at the time Roe was decided, there was concern about population growth and particularly growth in populations that we don’t want to have too many of.

Read that last line again.

Then, remember that this is being said by a woman of Jewish ancestry.

Do you see the problem?

She is referring (casually, at that) to EUGENICS.
This is not taken out of context and it is not being distorted.
I have read and re-read this statement several times trying to make some sense of it -- find some useful purpose for her saying it -- but there is none.
It is simply racist, classist, and downright ignorant.

As a student of history and a staunch egalitarian, I am offended by this remark on multiple levels.

First of all, she takes a paternalistic tone toward women of lower socioeconomic status as though she is fighting for their cause (opposing the ruling of no Medicaid funding for abortions). But implicit in her sympathetic overtures is a much uglier form of discrimination:
"and particularly growth in populations that we don’t want to have too many of"

Beg pardon?
Which populations would those be, Justice Ginsburg?
Poor blacks? Poor whites? The homeless?
The mentally ill or mentally-challenged?
While we're at it, what about those born with grotesque deformities or missing limbs or who are born blind or deaf?
Where -- exactly -- do you draw the line?
How do YOU define populations you seek to limit?

And if this form of reasoning -- and the slippery slope it creates -- sounds vaguely familiar to you, it should.
It was used by NAZI GERMANY as an argument to exterminate the Jewish peoples!

Is that what we have come to?
Defending morally reprehensible choices by using arguments promoted by Hitler, himself?
In Nazi Germany, it was the Jewish peoples who were the "less desirable" population of people.

How can an intelligent woman like Ms. Ginsburg not see the sick irony in her statement?
I completely understand that she *thinks* she is being valiant, defending the unwed mothers of the inner city, but in her zeal to emerge as the "white knight" of abortion rights, she commits a far worse offense than the denial of Medicaid funding ever could.
She devalues the very existence of the people she is supposedly fighting for!
And in the process, she discredits herself with historians and civil rights proponents everywhere.

Oh, be careful little mouth, what you say...
"
for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks." -- Luke 6:45b

10 July 2009

Angry Christians In a Hurting World

I recently engaged in an email debate with an angry commenter here on my blog. I do not know this person, and it is very apparent (from his highly erroneous remarks) that he does not know me.
Don't bother looking for it; I've already deleted his comment.

I now seriously regret ever writing anything -- on his blog, or in response to his emails. I should have known that it would only lead to aggravation and a waste of my time.

You see, I believe there is nothing worse than a self-righteous Christian with a moral agenda.
And to take the bait and try and persuade or correct them is (usually) a lost cause.

I should know; I used to be one.
I used to have a lot of anger about a lot of things.
There's no need to go into it all here, but things from my childhood, my adolescence, and even some frustrating church experiences all fed the anger and bitterness I had inside. Hypocrisy in church leadership and anything-but-Jesus-like behavior from those who sat beside me each Sunday did little to extinguish my smoldering heart.

Because (I'd like to think) I am a kind person with a decent heart, I channeled my anger into noble causes. Rather than just be angry and hateful to everyone, I directed my wrath toward those who were racist, sexist, or in any other way, prejudiced. I denounced those who called themselves Christian while engaging in behavior unworthy of that title.
The blatant irony escaped me.

The problem was not in my noticing their wrong, but in my failure to look inside myself and see my own hypocrisy and poor example.
I called myself a Christian and I still believed in "loving my neighbor," but I had never learned the concept of "GRACE before justice."

For me -- and for most angry Christians -- JUSTICE is the battle cry.
It took years of pain and soul-searching for me to finally realize that God is not all that interested in justice. At least, not in the immediate sense.

If justice were His primary goal & concern, none of us would be given salvation because none of us -- no, not one -- deserves the gift He gave us.
We have done nothing to earn it.
Moreover, He has not given us what we *really* deserve!

While I agree that the Bible gives us a mandate to expose heresy and wrongdoing within our ranks, it does not grant us the right to damn everyone to hades or beat them over the head with our club of righteousness.
Really, what (exactly) do we think that will accomplish?

Anger -- in and of, itself -- is not a sin.
It's what we do in that state of anger that exposes the very nature of our own hearts.
Jesus, Himself, showed righteous anger in the temple.
But the story doesn't end with Jesus driving out the money-changers!
Indeed, of all the many stories and parables we are given to demonstrate how we are to live, righteous anger is only one small part.
Much greater in His teaching and example are the commissions to love one another, forgive one another, and extend one another the grace that we have been given. There are more examples of Jesus' COMPASSION than there are of His anger!

Now, instead of looking for the mistakes of others, I try to see myself the way others perceive me. Do they see Jesus in me or do they only see anger and a passion for justice? My prayer is that God would help me change the faults in my own heart, in my own lack of mercy.

Look, if we are filled with such vile contempt for our fellow man -- even toward those we think most deserve it (our errant brothers and sisters in Christ!) -- then how can we ever represent Jesus to the world who doesn't know Him?
If all the world ever sees is the back-biting and slander and poisonous arrows we fling toward one another, they will never believe our message of love, peace, and hope.
And who could blame them?
In the end, we become the biggest hypocrites of all!
Honestly, I'm surprised that God doesn't just "fire" us all for being such poor representatives of His love and mercy.
But there, again, is a testament to His grace.

What will the world see in you?


07 July 2009

So Much to Say, So Little Time...

I really need to get a laptop.

My OWN laptop.

Being out of town for nearly 2 weeks has done nothing for my writing commitment. I need a computer I can take with me so I can write wherever I go. Of course, the laptop I really want is a bit pricey. I have had my eye on a Mac Book Pro for some time now. I'm starting to think that I should get the smaller one, though, so it will be more portable. And it's about $1000 less than the one I have been drooling over.

My goal is to sell enough on eBay in the next couple of months to purchase it along with the software to make it compatible with my PC. Clay and I are well on our way to becoming debt-free so I don't want to use regular income to make this purchase. I would love to pay for it entirely from eBay earnings.
We'll see.

Arkansas was good, but it went by so fast and I didn't get to see everyone I wanted to see or for as long as I wanted to see them. Despite being there 12 days, I found myself wishing I had another week. Even so, it's good to be home.

Despite my lack of notebook, I did manage to get *some* writing done while I was gone. I purchased a small, spiral-bound journal and used it to make notes as they came to me and to organize my chapter topics. It is my goal to have the book finished (or nearly so) by the end of July.
That may sound ambitious, but I need to focus solely on writing, eBay, and my family this month. Everything else will have to wait.

Oh, and exercise. I have really neglected working out these past few months and I can feel it. I have more energy when I exercise regularly. Besides that; I am stuck. I've lost 87 pounds, but I have stalled out there. Perhaps if I start working out again, it will get things moving.

I could go on and on here about all that has happened over the past couple of weeks, but I think I'll just end it here. There's never enough time to say all that I want.
Besides, my book is calling...

20 June 2009

Funny Papers

I have always loved to write and at one time, I wanted to be a journalist (among other things). I wrote for my high school newspaper and I have written for a couple of websites and a small magazine. One of my biggest pet peeves is poor writing (something I even catch myself doing!). I find myself mentally correcting people's grammar and I subconsciously edit (and editorialize!) every news article I read.
Shocking, I know.

A friend of mine emailed this to me the other day and I thought it was hilarious!
You may have seen it before, but I just had to print it here. I rewrote a couple of the comments below, but the headlines are all original:

Man Kills Self Before Shooting Wife and Daughter

This one I caught in the Tribune the other day and I called the Editorial Room and asked
who wrote this. It took two or three readings before the editor realized
that what he was reading was impossible!!!

Something Went Wrong in Jet Crash, Expert Says

No way! Really? Ya think?


Police Begin Campaign to Run Down Jaywalkers

Now that's taking things a bit far!


Miners Refuse to Work after Death

Can't really blame them, can you?


Juvenile Court to Try Shooting Defendant

Whatever happened to a fair trial?!


War Dims Hope for Peace

I can see where it might have that effect!


If Strike Isn't Settled Quickly, It May Last Awhile

Possibly.


Cold Wave Linked to Temperatures

Who would have thought?


Enfield (London) 20Couple Slain; Police Suspect Homicide

That would be my guess, too!


Red Tape Holds Up New Bridges

You mean there's something stronger than duct tape?


Man Struck By Lightning: Faces Battery Charge

He probably IS the battery charge!


New Study of Obesity Looks for Larger Test Group

Ok....


Astronaut Takes Blame for Gas in Spacecraft

It wasn't me!


Kids Make Nutritious Snacks

Do they taste like chicken?


Local High School Dropouts Cut in Half

That'll teach 'em to stay in school!


Hospitals are Sued by 7 Foot Doctors

You think height gives them an advantage?


And the winner is.....


Typhoon Rips Through Cemetery; Hundreds Dead

Did I read that right?

17 June 2009

Raisha's (EXTREMELY) Belated Birthday Party!

If you read my last post, case in point:

My youngest daughter's birthday was at the end of March. It's mid-June.
Yeah, that's what kind of season it's been... I don't think I've ever been this late with the parties, but sadly, all 3 will be late this year.

Sunday evening we held Raisha's 5th Birthday party here at the house. She wanted a
"Wall-E" party so I made Wall-E and Eva cakes. There was a spaceship space-walk for the little kids and older kids got to swim. To top it off, we had a pinata shaped like a star! It was hotter than blazes, but still lots of fun.
Here are some pics from the night:
Wall-E

Eva

The Birthday Girl

Family & Friends!

Make a Wish!


Abel about to smack the pinata!

15 June 2009

Frustrated Rant

I am just about in tears...
Some days, I really do wish I could clone myself.

I know, everyone wishes that sometimes, but lately, it's becoming a constant wish for me... I think that speaks volumes about my life right now and how out-of-control it has become.

I keep hearing Pastor Dino's many warnings against "busy-ness" and Pastor Mike Haman's reminder that God is not impressed with how much we do, and yet, I seem almost powerless to stop it.
Without hurting people, I mean.

People say, "Just learn to say, 'No!'" ...as long as it's not to them.
When I TRY to get control of the chaos -- put my family first, take care of my health, work on the book God has given me to write -- I have to say NO to people I love.
I have had to say no a lot lately.
I just can't keep going at the pace I have been.

I have friends like Carole Turner who seem like Energizer bunnies who can go and go and go. I am constantly in awe of all that she does. I start to feel guilty because I am not giving and doing as much as she does, but the truth is, I just was not designed that way. That's not who I am.

Sometimes, I think, if I ask for some time "off," I am being selfish.
There is ALWAYS a friend in need, someone who needs to talk, a project which needs assistance... And then I look around at my family and wonder when is it THEIR turn? Where do they fall on my list of priorities?

I want to be there for my friends... go to dinner, watch their kids, help them with whatever they need or are going through, but at what cost?

The funny thing is that it's a double-edged sword.

I am grateful for having so many friends and I wouldn't want to give up a single one of them; they are all important to me.
But it's almost like they don't know the others exist.

So, one is pouting because I didn't call her this week, but she doesn't know that I have been nurturing another friend who is going through something really rough. Another is mad because I didn't help her with what she needed, but she doesn't realize that I have been giving and giving to someone else that there is just nothing left.
Another friend is growing impatient for us to go to lunch again, but what she doesn't know is that I haven't had lunch (or dinner!) alone with my husband in months.

I don't want to push anyone away, but I feel like God is telling me to make a choice.
And in my heart, I know it's not even a choice.
HE comes first.
Then my family.
I hope my real friends will understand.
There is only so much of me to give.

03 June 2009

Happy SWEET 16 Nadia!! <3 <3 <3


I can't believe I have a 16-year old~! How did that happen??

It seems like yesterday that THIS PICTURE was taken:

Happy Birthday to my intelligent, beautiful, sweet 16 year old -- Nadia!

I Love You!

31 May 2009

The Circle of Life

I have not posted in a week, partly out of respect for my friends' loss and partly because I just didn't have the heart to write anything.

I have been so sad this past week, achingly sad for my friends -- Herman and Lisa and their other 3 children -- in losing their precious 2 yr. old angel, Vivian. I have grieved and I have cried until there are no tears left. And yet, my life goes on relatively unchanged.
Not so for them.
Their lives are forever altered by the events of a few horrible minutes.

Lisa has been posting on Vivian's Caring Bridge site, using it to journal her thoughts and feelings during these first few days of raw emotion and crushing defeat. Reading her courageous words and realizing just what lies before her humbles me beyond belief.
How can any mother endure such a loss?

At Vivian's funeral last Monday, they played the song, "Circle of Life" (from The Lion King) and it seemed so apropos.
With Vivian's passing comes the renewing of other lives.
By making the choice to donate her precious organs, Lisa and Herman have guaranteed that one or more other babies or young children will LIVE.
Somewhere -- during the same week when we were all fervently praying and waiting -- there were parents hovering over their own children's hospital beds, anxiously awaiting news of a miracle -- praying those same desperate prayers for mercy and intervention.

Sometimes the answer, inexplicably, is "No."
But sometimes when God says "No" to one prayer, He is actually saying "Yes" to several other prayers.
I'm sure this brings minimal comfort to Herman and Lisa at this time, but just knowing that Vivian's death was not in vain -- that somewhere, parents are rejoicing and praising God that their own child will live -- gives hope for the future.
It really is the Circle of Life.

25 May 2009

Happy Memorial Day

Flags



In Honor of Those Who Served


An officer spoke briefly at our church yesterday morning, but something he said really hit home with me:
"It's not just about KEEPING peace; it's about
MAKING peace."

Sometimes, some very hard decisions have to be made and carried out in order to achieve this goal. There is not always a peaceful means to a peaceful end.
Sure, in an ideal world, there would be.
But we do not live in an ideal world.
This is our reality:
People fight and die so that the rest of us can live free.

It's horrible and wrong when atrocities are committed in the path to that freedom, but we can never let them overshadow those who fight bravely and nobly so that good is achieved.

And there are some things we should
never apologize for;
Sometimes the end really does justify the means.

God bless our soldiers, police officers, firefighters, and first responders
Those who served and who now serve.


21 May 2009

God Bless Baby Vivian

My heart is broken.
Sweet, little Vivian left us today, but I know that we will see her again. That is a comfort no one can take away.
Please continue to lift up Lisa and Herman and their children during this difficult time of grief and mourning. Pray that they would feel HELD.
I love this song by Natalie Grant; it says it all:

18 May 2009

Sad Weekend

In case you are wondering why I haven't posted since last Tuesday or, if you are a friend in Arkansas, why you have not heard from me while I'm here...

This has been a very rough few days.
Not long after I arrived here (3 days ago), I received some horrible news.
The two year old daughter of a dear friend was found, nearly drowned, in a swimming pool.
I don't know the details -- how she got there, or how long she was under the water -- and those things are irrelevant now, but I do know it was very serious and now this baby girl is fighting for her life.

The past three days are a blur of phone calls and constantly checking my email for updates on little Vivian's condition. I feel so useless being so far away from my friends... I am cutting my visit in Arkansas short so that I can be there for anything they might need.

We have not stayed in touch like we should in the past year or so, but we have known Herman and Lisa for almost 9 years, literally since we first moved to Baton Rouge.
We were in the same homeschool group for a number of years and our children were great friends. Lisa and I were pregnant at the same time and delivered our 5 year olds just days apart.

Lisa is one of the sweetest people I know and she and Herman are wonderfully kind and generous.
After Hurricane Katrina, they opened their home to a family who had lost everything and housed them for more than a year. And Lisa has been an a blessing to me during some rough seasons of my own... when we talk on the phone, it's never a short conversation. I could talk to her for hours.
This family truly is the salt of the earth.

While I would not wish such a horrific thing to happen even to my worst enemy, it seems especially cruel that this has happened to them.

Little Vivian needs a BIG miracle and we need you to PRAY.

People ask, "Why does something like this happen? Where is God in this tragedy?"
But the truth is that God does not cause sickness and death and disease to happen. These things are in the world because sin and evil are in the world.

We may not understand why things happen the way they do or why our prayers are not always answered the way we would like, but we never have to endure such things alone. God's Word promises that we are never alone when we go through something so painfully difficult. He is always with us.

This is my prayer for Herman and Lisa now... that they would not feel alone for a minute, that they would feel His hands lifting them up and the warmth of His arms around them.
And I continue to pray for a miracle for Vivian, even as her doctors begin to lose their own faith in miracles.
Mostly, I pray that something good can come of all this hurt.
Please keep this family in your prayers.

12 May 2009

Where's the Calgon?!?

Calgon, Take Me Away!!!!

Ok, so I just totally dated myself by saying that, but that really is how I feel right now.

Too much on my plate and not enough time to finish everything. I wish I could just freeze time so I could try and catch up.
First of all, I have totally destroyed our schoolroom in my attempt to "redo" it. I am trying to update it & make it a more organized, usable space, but right now it looks like a tornado came through.
On top of that, I have started exercising for the first time in over a year and lifting weights for the first time in more than two years... and I am FEELING IT!

I have had painters at the house for the past 2 weeks which (even though I wanted it) has totally disrupted my schedule. They did an awesome job, though, so I don't really mind. BTW, if you are in the Baton Rouge area and need a good painter, email me & I'll give you his name.

I am making a lot of progress on my book right now, but this is one of those areas where I wish I could just stop the clock. The desire and motivation are there; the time is not.

I have been helping the HP Women team prepare for our upcoming, annual "Pamper Night." I am assisting Elizabeth and Nikki with procuring vendors from various salons and spas in the local area.
This is a HUGE event where we host approximately 1000 women, treating them to a night of free mini-massage, mani/pedi, eyebrow wax, paraffin wax, facials, and more.
I had no idea how much work went on behind scenes, but I guess you never do until you are a part of it.
In any event, the night is going to be FABULOUS and if you are in the area, you do not want to miss it! Monday night, June 8th -- Mark your calendar!

Finally, I am trying to get the girls and myself packed for a week-long visit in Arkansas.
My niece, Tia, is graduating high school and has received a full scholarship to college! I am so proud of her.
If my posts are sparse for the next week, you'll know why.
I promise to post when I return if not before.
Until then, I'm going to continue in the *slightly* organized chaos which is my life.

10 May 2009

09 May 2009

Sometimes I Pause...

and hesitate to write another blog post when I know I've written something that needs to be read.
It's not that I don't want to write something or that I'm slacking on the blog thing; it's just that I want to make sure the previous message gets through.

I have had confirmation from at least 3 different people who told me my last post struck a chord with them.

One friend told me last night that she started to text yesterday (while driving) and remembered my post and decided to wait until she got to a stopping point.
I can't tell you how happy that makes me.

Perhaps that last post wasn't meant for any ONE person, in particular.
Maybe it was just a wake-up call for several people.
In any event, I'm glad I wrote it and I appreciate the positive responses I have received.

Today, I am recovering from another fabulous MIDNIGHT OUTREACH.
No matter how late I sleep on Saturday morning, it always wipes me out, but in a good way.
I feel like I've really DONE something the day after Midnight.

I don't mind being a little groggy or moving a little slow because I know that THIS MORNING, some girl -- somewhere -- woke up and saw her beautiful rose with the Healing Place Church card attached and right now, she is thinking about calling that number.

I don't mind because I still remember the girl who told us last night that she recently lost her mother and she was so touched by our little gift to her.

I don't mind because I may never know how God chooses to use those few simple hours we gave to further His kingdom.
There's no better feeling in the world.
That's something that should give you pause...

06 May 2009

Don't Shoot the Messenger!!!

Ok, let me just preface this by saying it is NOT aimed at anyone in particular! I have a lot of friends (who I love) who do this and this is not meant to be a scolding of them.

But I was convicted to write this post awhile back (like 3 months ago) and I have put off actually writing it until now...
How many know it's never a good idea to procrastinate on something you think God is telling you to do???
Even now -- as I sit typing -- the words are just pouring out.
Perhaps this is to be a warning for someone I love.
Or maybe for a complete stranger.
Or maybe just for me.
Whatever the reason, just know that I felt REALLY, REALLY compelled to write it.

A couple weeks ago, I heard about this story and I could not shake it from my mind.
Then, last week, I saw a member of my church doing the same thing.
At least, I think it was a member... they were leaving the church parking lot. I didn't really get a good look at them, but that's beside the point.

My point is this: What would it do to your testimony -- not to mention your life --if you accidentally killed someone because you were texting while driving?

Yes, I realize there were other things at play (like speeding) when the woman in the article slammed into a bunch of stopped cars, but there doesn't need to be any other extenuating circumstances for something like this to happen.
As stories like this and this point out, even experienced texters are at risk...
And who can forget these shocking photos?
This young man was texting and accidentally veered into oncoming traffic. He did not survive.


Maybe you think: "Well, but I'm always careful and nothing has happened yet..."
That doesn't mean it won't.
Maybe you think -- because you are a Christian or a good person -- that God won't let anything happen to you while you do this, but He will.
Just as someone who binges on food will become fat and someone who smokes may get lung cancer... even if they are Christians.
Even Christians have to face the consequences of their actions.
And so will their families.

If the articles/pictures/rationale above doesn't sway you, then let me appeal to the very basic fact, that as Christians, we are instructed and expected to obey all laws. Furthermore, we should be ever mindful of how our behaviors are being observed and interpreted by others. What we DO is far more important than what we SAY.

If the deacon of a large church texts while driving and causes a wreck, it won't matter that he's a deacon. He will go to jail.
If a nursery volunteer is texting and accidentally hits and kills a pedestrian, a life is still lost. She has taken a life for a moment of her own convenience.
And she will have to account for that life.

I don't care how important the text may be or if you are too busy to stop, if you need to read/return a text,
PULL OVER
.
Or wait for the next stop light.
If you have a wreck while texting, you'll be a whole lot later than if you had just pulled over for 2 minutes.

Like I said, I don't know who this was meant for, but if you are convicted by it, consider yourself warned.
God may be trying to tell you something
.




01 May 2009

Funny You Should Ask...

I'm always amused when someone who hasn't seen me in awhile says, "Wow! Eighty-six pounds!! You've got to tell me your secret! How did you do it?"

I never quite know how to answer that.

How do you sum up -- in conversational-length banter -- how God has completely rocked your world?
How do you convey that you haven't just lost 86 pounds and 5 dress sizes, you have lost a HUGE part of your old self (which you aren't missing in the least, by the way).

I'm starting to get the whole "Prophet without honor" thing Jesus talked about. People who have known you for awhile are always skeptical when you change. I recently had a guy who has known me for awhile tell me that he can't figure out who the "real" me really is.

Deep down, I guess none of us believe we are capable of truly changing.
But that's the cool thing.
I didn't do the changing.
HE changed me.

Granted, I had to submit and ask for it... I had to be open to the new ideas and perspectives He was showing me, but it certainly didn't come from my own ability to change, because that just doesn't exist.

I am feeling more and more compelled to get my book finished NOW... and I have made some incredible strides in the past 2 weeks.
I just sense, every time someone asks, that my book will do a much better job explaining it than I ever could.

So, if you could just hold that thought...
I promise, I'll get back to you.