Sunday, August 31, 2008

this world won't do

Michelle Obama said these words this week: “The world as it is won’t do.” I totally agree with her. Where we are misled, though, is that there is some way, in this life, that the world can be “fixed”… that a political party, or a religious persuasion, or an earthly power, or all of our silver and gold can solve the problems of mankind… this just isn’t possible. Yes, I, with the help of my merciful God, can make my little corner of the world better…but until Jesus returns, and brings the new earth He has made for us, we will never have what we were made to have. As C.S. Lewis wrote: “If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.”

As John said in Revelation 21 (The Message):
“I saw Heaven and earth new-created. Gone the first Heaven, gone the first earth, gone the sea. I saw Holy Jerusalem, new-created, descending resplendent out of Heaven, as ready for God as a bride for her husband. I heard a voice thunder from the Throne: "Look! Look! God has moved into the neighborhood, making his home with men and women! They're his people, he's their God. He'll wipe every tear from their eyes. Death is gone for good—tears gone, crying gone, pain gone—all the first order of things gone." The Enthroned continued, "Look! I'm making everything new. Write it all down—each word dependable and accurate."
Then he said, "It's happened. I'm A to Z. I'm the Beginning, I'm the Conclusion. From Water-of-Life Well I give freely to the thirsty. Conquerors inherit all this. I'll be God to them, they'll be sons and daughters to me.”

In this world, there’s too much pain and suffering for a human to comprehend…too many tears to be cried. That’s why I look forward to a Better Place…a Place where my God resides…where He is the light for my darkness and the water for the never-ending thirst of my soul….a Place where the focus of all beings will be on Him…in praise and adoration.
This world just won’t do.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

tasting and seeing

Stephen Curtis Chapman’s family had a horrible loss back in May. Their son, who was a high school senior, ran over their adopted five year old daughter, Maria Sue, in the family driveway. In the past weeks, the Chapman family has been on Larry King Live, Focus on the Family, and Good Morning America sharing their story; there was also an article about them in “People” magazine. The only thing I can think of that is sadder, at this time, is what my family has been through.

They found a picture that Maria had drawn just before her death…it was a picture of a flower, and the word, “see.” It made them think of this verse in Psalm 34:8:

“Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him.”

They shared how Maria loved to eat, and that now she was in the presence of God tasting and seeing the most wonderful things imaginable. They also said that this was a message to them to look ahead…to the future…and that now, one of their six children was perfect and whole…happy in the arms of Jesus.

All this reminds me that the people I am sad about are those of us who have been left behind: Todd, the children, Mom, Dad, sisters, brother, nieces, nephews, and many, many friends. There is no reason to be sad on Kathy's behalf. She is in the most wonderful place that she has ever been …she is tasting and seeing in the presence of her God and Savior.
What a blessed place to be!


Wednesday, August 27, 2008

happy birthday

Happy birthday, Sister. I miss you. I love you.

Saturday, August 23, 2008


I think that many of us Christians have the mistaken idea that because we are “Christian,” bad things will not happen to us. It’s like if we have enough “faith,” if we can just pray enough, if we believe enough, if we live a good enough life, that we will be protected from pain and sorrow and loss. This simply is not the truth that I have seen in the past few years. Bad, horrible things happen to everyone…the only difference is that as Christ followers, we have Christ living in us and going with us through all the “mess” of this world…He holds us…He abides in us…He doesn’t leave us alone.

I heard the song, “Held,” today, by Natalie Grant. These are the words that made me think about this:

“This is what it means to be held
How it feels, when the sacred is torn from your life
And you survive
This is what it is to be loved and to know
That the promise was that when everything fell
We'd be held
And you survive”

Everything has fallen in our lives…and the truth is that we are being held…the sacred has been torn form our lives, and we are surviving…we have fallen into a deep, black hole, but we have been held through it all. God is so good.


Friday, August 22, 2008

unwrinkle me

School starts on Monday and …a new class comes… the possibility of major stress sets in. If I want to “enjoy the ride,” stress has to be managed.

I found the following prayer a few years ago, and I’m saying it today and in the days to come:

“Lord, unwrinkle my tired soul
unsnarl my garbled thoughts and words
unwind my gnarled nerves
and let me relax in Thee.”

Marian Wright Edelman


Wednesday, August 20, 2008

enjoy the ride

I have been working at school the past two weeks getting ready for another group of kinder- garteners…lots of work…but I love it!

I put something up in my room that we got at inservice last year, and it is timely to what I am thinking about lately. The title is: “Enjoy the Ride.”

Number one: Check your passion…love what you do, why you do it, and who you do it with.

Number two: Cure your destination disease… happiness is found in the journey, not at the destination.

Number three: Refocus your attention…decide what is important and never take it for granted.

The journey, at it turns out, is much shorter than I ever imagined…I need to remember these ideas…that’s why I’ve put it where I can see it every day.

I’m determined to enjoy the ride,


Tuesday, August 19, 2008

i'm blessed

Deb and I were talking about how hard it is to know how to answer when a person asks us how we are doing nowadays…especially if it is a complete stranger who is just being polite to ask. How can we tell how we are really doing… that we are sad… heartbroken…that we have certainly had better days…

So…Debbi came up with a solution to our dilemma …a stranger said it to her one day, and it is a perfect answer…we simply say, “I’m blessed.”

It’s like Habakkuk in the third chapter, verses 17-18 says in the New Living Translation:

Even though the fig trees have no blossoms,
and there are no grapes on the vines;
even though the olive crop fails,
and the fields lie empty and barren;
even though the flocks die in the fields,
and the cattle barns are empty,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord!
I will be joyful in the God of my salvation!”

Truly I am blessed!


Sunday, August 17, 2008

this is the day

Psalm 118:24 (NIV)

“This is the day the LORD has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it.”

Today is Sunday. A day of worship. A day of rest. A day of reflection. A day to rejoice in and a day to be glad in.

What about Monday, though…or Tuesday, or Wednesday, or Thursday, or Friday, or Saturday (OK, so Saturday may be OK by its self)? These are the days I have more difficulty remembering to rejoice in and be glad in. But who knows…maybe one of these days will be the last day I have in this life…. It might be the last earthly day I have to give to my family and to my fellow man…. my life’s song may come to its’ end…

This IS the day…it is the only day I’ve got. May I be faithful and obedient…may I rejoice and be glad in it.


Friday, August 15, 2008

something to say

Each of us has a life, and our lives sing a song. I have never been more cognizant of this fact than since Kathy ended her earthly life. I wish Kathy could have read and heard all the wonderful words which people wrote and said about her. I wish she could know how much she would be missed, and what a lovely song others thought her life sung. I think she would have been surprised (and embarrassed)… she never knew the song her life was singing. These thoughts lead me to two conclusions. Number one…I need to be aware of the song of my life. Number two…I need to tell others when the melody of their lives are adding sweet music to my days. I have something to say.

“Something to Say,”by Matthew West

… I got a question here
“Would anybody miss you if you disappeared?
Well your life is the song that you sing
And the whole wide world is listening
You got something to say
And no one can say it like you do
God is love and love speaks through
You got it, you got it
You got something to say”

Thursday, August 14, 2008

press on

Since I was twelve years old, I have always had “inspirations” of songs that I wanted to share with others. At times, I have put songs together for programs for children or adults to sing, or sometimes I would sing a single song at church. I haven’t had these inspirations recently, until this past year…I had a song I wanted to sing with Kathy. It seemed perfect for us. The song goes like this:

Press On
When the valley is deep
When the mountain is steep
When the body is weary
When we stumble and fall

When the choices are hard
When we're battered and scarred
When we've spent our resources
When we've given our all

In Jesus' name, we press on
In Jesus' name, we press on
Dear Lord, with the prize
Clear before our eyes
We find the strength to press on.

So…even though I didn’t get the opportunity to sing this song with my sister…it speaks a special message to me these days: even though this road has gotten considerably more difficult… keeping my eyes on Jesus…on the eternal prize…is my objective, more than ever.

Philippians 3:14 (NIV)

I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”

Lord, help me to keep my eye on the prize.,


Wednesday, August 13, 2008

lump in my heart

We’ve all had a lump in our throat…the throat tightens, you can’t swallow, tears come to the eyes…panic.

The last couple of weeks, I’ve been having a lump in my heart. It sneaks up on me. All of the sudden a thought triggers a tightening of my heart. I feel like I can’t breathe, and tears comes to my eyes…panic. My heart feels like it will break. Can your heart literally break?

My greatest help, in this great time of broken heartedness, has been the great mercies and promises of God. As Psalm 34:18 says: “The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”

How could my heart survive the day without Him?


Tuesday, August 12, 2008


There was a blood drive, held in Kathy’s memory, at our church, last month. Kathy was to be the coordinator of it, but it was another event she missed.

It has made me think about blood and the life-giving properties of blood. I’ve always known I had to have blood to live, but I didn’t really understand the intricacies of our need for blood. Kathy had first hand knowledge of this, and that was why she was so passionate about donating to the blood center…she gave platelets regularly. Also, she and the twins were poster children for our local blood bank. Kathy told her family’s story publically several times (Wasn’t she amazing?).

Blood tells my body’s story. When my doctor takes a small vial of my blood and measures my blood pressure each year, it gives him all kinds of information…Am I eating nutrient-rich or artery-clogging foods? Are my organs healthy…able to do their jobs? Am I exercising…enabling my heart to pump my blood to the places it needs to go?

Believe me…from this dark place we have been… when your body gets in trouble, it is imperative that it has reserves on which to draw . Your body needs to be in top-notch working order.

I’ve got one body to get me through this life…I’m determined to take care of it!


Monday, August 11, 2008

live a good life

So…today is my birthday. I’m feeling rather old (52). If I live an “average” amount of years, I only have about twenty years left…not very long.

I can’t get away from the thought that I need to be mindful in the living of my life. This is more important to me than ever. Today is all that I have (and maybe not even that). I’m trying to love more and better, exercise, eat good food, complain less, and take time to relax (remind me of all these a month into the school year).

My family has talked about how our Kathy seemed to be trying to pack a whole lifetime into the past few years. It was almost as if she knew she didn’t have much time left. Her leaving us, and the comments that others have made about her life, have made me understand these words:

“Live a good life…in the end, it’s not the years in a life, it’s the life in the years.”

Lord, help me live a good life.


Saturday, August 9, 2008

the music

My family loves music. We love to listen to music and we love to sing. I know that Kathy feels right at home in heaven because of the music.

Many years ago I read everything I could find written by Bob Benson. I was sad when he died an untimely death. Before he died, however, he wrote some beautiful things about life after death. They were some of the first words that helped open my thinking to new ideas about death and heaven.

These are some of the insightful words he wrote: “I used to think, loving life so greatly, that to die would be like leaving the party before the end. But now I know that the party is really happening somewhere else; and that the light and the music escaping in snatches-to make the pulse beat faster and the tempo quicken-comes from another place. And I know, too, when I get there, the music and the love, and the praise will belong to Him. The music will never end.”

Won’t it be wonderful?


Wednesday, August 6, 2008

south chicago

We spent the day yesterday in the community in which Emily lived this past year. I love it! It reminds me a lot of the community I work in at home.

People, no matter where they live, who have few economic resources, have a more difficult time. But the urban environment brings different challenges…it has made me more tired than I was to begin with.

I sat on Em’s stoop, one afternoon, and watched a young mother with five small children as they struggled to get their baskets of clothes down the steep stairs, to get them to the washeteria. How I would love being able to give her my washer and dryer, that I am disposing of because PawPaw is giving me a used one from Mike’s house. Think how much she would enjoy having that in her home…something I take for granted.

Then there’s public transportation…the network of buses and trains that enables inhabitants of the sprawled city to move about. I just rode and hopped off at my destinations….but I am sore, have blisters on my feet, and dread hitting the schedule again today. If you want to go somewhere, you have to drag in and out of various modes of travel, above and below the ground. What if I had several children to drag with me?

I also think of the logistics of feeding a large family in the urban environment. It would be so difficult to gather the supplies you need to prepare food…walking…stairs…buses…more walking and stairs…. Like I said…it just makes me tired.

Later, we found ourselves on the “Magnificent Mile”…it’s a long way from South Chicago. is Starbuck’s, Mercedes convertibles, and Ophrah’s favorite things…and my place in rural Texas.

This comparison makes me want to do a better job in the place God has placed me in our small community. It doesn’t matter if I live in South Chicago or South Nacogdoches or near the Magnificient Mile…I have the opportunity to share my blessings with others. What a great privilege!

I Corinthians 16:14 (The Message)

Keep your eyes open, …, give it all you've got, be resolute, and love without stopping.”


Monday, August 4, 2008

so many people

We are staying on the tenth floor, of a lovely hotel, looking out over beautiful downtown Chicago. All day long we have been surrounded by a great throng of people…all going somewhere…FAST (I think they were hurrying to catch the train).

I keep thinking, “How could God not only know all these people…but how could He possibly know and LOVE all these people?” I know He does…because I know He knows me and loves me. If that is possible…anything is possible!

So many people…no problem…God has the whole world in his hands, and He’s got it under control.


Thank you, Christian, for the wonderful room! We enjoyed spending time with you today.

Sunday, August 3, 2008


My family loves to gather. We love to gather for meals. We love to gather for holidays. We love to gather to celebrate. We love to gather.

Most recently, we gathered to surround our Kathy with love and music and prayer. I would like to think that she was able to feel all of it, because we are all so connected in that way.

Joy and Kathy’s friend, Dave, came for the funeral. He stayed at a friend’s house, and would come over to Mom and Dad’s each day. The first time he came, he walked to the back…where the outdoor room and pool are…and he said it was a quintessential “Steel Magnolia’s” moment…we were sitting in a circle, shelling peas, and singing gospel songs. Yup…that’s us…we were “gathered”…

As I write this evening, we are in a small town in Illinois. We are headed for Chicago to get Em. I am so excited about both Amy and Emily being closer to home (Amy will actually be home for a year), but I am a little sad tonight to be so far from home and from my family. I have the need to gather.

It makes me think of what one of the best things about Heaven will be…we’ll be gathered…and we’ll be gathered forever.

I can hardly wait.


Saturday, August 2, 2008

does it matter?

“Does it really matter?” is my new mantra.

Life is so short…just a wisp of air…fleeting…. I toil and fuss and worry over many things that have no eternal value at all, and I have been thinking about this in the past month. A dear friend sent me a speech made by Tony Snow, President Bush's former Press Secretary, who died recently of cancer. This is what he had to say about things that do and don’t matter:

“… even though God doesn't promise us tomorrow, he does promise us eternity, - filled with life and love we cannot comprehend, - and that one can in the throes of sickness (and death) point the rest of us toward timeless truths that will help us weather future storms. Through such trials, God bids us to choose: Do we believe, or do we not? Will we be bold enough to love, daring enough to serve, humble enough to submit, and strong enough to acknowledge our limitations? Can we surrender our concern in things that don't matter so that we might devote our remaining days to things that do? “

Paul put it like this: Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. “

2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (New International Version)

Lord, help me to know what is temporary and what is eternal…Help me know what really matters, and let that fill my thoughts, my plans, and my days.


Friday, August 1, 2008

hardest place

“Circumstances may appear to wreck our lives and God’s plans, but God is not helpless among the ruins.”

Eric Liddell

So…July, 2008 is finally over…the hardest place I have ever been in my life. I’m glad to be starting school again (though God will have to send the extra grace and energy that I need to make it through the long days). How thankful I am for the help God gave for last month…I know he’ll be with me in the coming months.

Psalm 31:14-16 (New International Version)

“But I trust in you, O Lord; I say, "You are my God." My times are in your hands; …. Let your face shine on your servant; save me in your unfailing love.”