October 30, 2008

Halloween Eve

Jack and family were invited to go to the Cancer Services Halloween Party this afternoon. He was so excited to go, and I was excited to see his nurse and child life representative. Precious people. We were among the first to arrive as the rest were finishing up chemo and were a bit late. There was trick or treating upstairs to all the offices and then games and face painting. The kids won 4 cakes/cupcakes in the cakewalk plus came home with an abundance of candy. It was fun for all.
I brought my baby camera with me this day my Canon G9. I love it.












Then we went to church for the "trunk or treat." Here is Rob dressed up as a maitre d' handing out candy on a platter.


Here is my friend Denise dressed up like a baby.


There were dogs everywhere. I was surprised at how well behaved all the dogs were. I don't know the name of the dog on the left, but Tonka is on the right.

Here is Jack sitting in Tom and Elaine's car handing out candy as bad Spidey.

October 29, 2008

Refresh...Cardboard Testimonies

This past Sunday our Refresh service (2nd) did the Cardboard Testimonies. It was beautiful. Our family was the first up after Vann started the testimonies, I loved that because I got to watch the looks on everyone's faces as they read the testimonies, after each testimony the people in the pews clapped for joy about God's deliverance. But I didn't get to see the tears in the eyes of my Christian brothers and sisters as they held their testimony for the church to read, seeing their tears for the first time in the video brought tears to my eyes. My favorite part of this post is not just the video testimony but the members of the church were invited to write their cardboard testimonies out and walk up to the front and place them at the foot of the cross.

I am grateful that these were posted so I could read each person's testimony. They were all anonymous. I was overwhelmed, so many are silent in their pain, so many struggle and are battling sin on their own. I want to hold up a banner that says I am here, we are all here, we are here for you. Let's walk through this together, allow me the honor to stand beside you, pray for you, you are worthy, you are loved, you are precious, wonderfully made. Don't let Satan keep you silent, shout it out loud, bring it to the light. My prayer is that having to write one's own cardboard testimony and being truthful about it, will make it easier to share with others.




To read the cardboard testimonies brought up to the cross by the members cut and paste this:
http://www.southernhillschurch.org/clientimages/41803/cardboardtestimonies102608.pdf

Christmas - Big or Small or Smaller

Wednesday morning. I am loving this weather. Someone told me that they had read in the Farmer's Almanac that we were to have a very cold winter this year? Any readers of the Almanac out there?

I am hearing a lot of mumblings from friends and relatives that they are cutting back on Christmas expenses this year. I am having visions of homemade goodies and crafts. So what are your plans? If you have been a reader of this blog for a while you might know that we generally go by the 3 present rule. Each kid gets 3 gifts plus stocking stuff. Now that doesn't include gifts from extended family. Why 3 presents? When my kids were little babies I watched Regis and Kathie Lee whilst living the life of the dairy queen. Kathie Lee spoke about this tradition in her house, Jesus received 3 gifts from the wise men and so she used that as her guide. Truthfully over the years it has been a great rule for me. My kids are really good with whatever, but it keeps me from going overboard. I have to be VERY thoughtful about purchasing when there is a 3 present rule. I will however say that early shopping doesn't work well for this premise, little minds do change up to a couple of weeks before Christmas when limited with a 3 present rule.

So what are your plans?

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Flu shots went well yesterday. Sophie did freak a bit, but no flailing, she just squeezed my hand with her precious little face scrunched up and big tears streaming down the side of her face. Bless her little heart.

October 28, 2008

Spiritual Directors and a Flailing Mongoose

Yesterday was my Christian Spiritual Formation class at ACU. As always it is was a great lesson. Dr. Wray spoke on Spiritual friends, mentors, and directors. The chair of the Marriage and Family Institute came in and spoke on the differences between Christian Therapy and a Spiritual Director. Dr. Wray had a sentence in big red letters on the projector, "If someone tells you they want to be your spiritual director, run the other way." The purpose of a spiritual director is just someone who reminds you to bring your focus back to God. Generally only asking questions. It is not a teaching role, but one of humility and a lot of questions to help the directee discern. Many people already have some or all of these types of people in their lives they might not have the specific title.

Next week we will be discussing "spontaneous formation" i.e. when something major happens in your life and there is a choice to make, kick up your faith several notches, or walk away. For me of course finding out that Jack, my son, had a brain tumor was a moment of spontaneous formation for me. Questions that I had not ever thought to ask God before that day were flooding my brain. The why's and how's of it. But there was a choice to be made, trust and keep asking those questions, wrestling with God and remaining engaged, or give it all up and walk away. I did make that choice in the first day of Jack's diagnosis and I allowed God into crevices of my heart that were very painful, refined by fire. The process is tough, but the other side is a blessing.

We will also talk about "the dark night of the soul," a restlessness of one's faith. Randy Harris spoke to this a bit last week, he was in that place spiritually and thought a fresh place and new faces would help it go away, so he took a job offered to him at ACU, but he said that the problem was that he brought himself with him. It was shortly after that where God called him to silence and solitute, and a pursuit of more of an apaphatic life than kataphatic. And he found God's peace.

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Great food choices for what we cook when it gets cold. Tonight I am having my family over for dinner and am going to cook Taco Soup and Green Chile Cornbread, along with a yellow cake with candy corns on top of the frosting ; )

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Picking the kids up for a quick trip to the doc this morning. Flu Shots. Derek and Jack, no problem. Sophie - picture a screaming mongoose that is flailing and kicking with all of their might, red faced and tear strewn. That's a definite possibility.

October 27, 2008

I promise I am not an end of times doom type personality, but by golly let's be prepared.

Here is a link to a letter from an email I received this weekend. I appreciated what Dee wrote in her forwarding comments, reading this will probably not change anyone's mind on who to vote for, but it certainly gives us heed to arm ourselves as Christ followers to be ready for the persecution to come. Obama spells 'persecution,' warns Focus on the Family Analysts see same-sex marriage, Fairness Doctrine on horizon
This letter is a possible scenario of what our country would be like in 2012, four years after Obama is president if he is elected. This also is "just a scenario", but this is where my mind went with all of this over the course of 2 days.

Anne Graham Lotz was quoted as saying that. "God is a gentleman, if He is asked to leave, He will, he never forces Himself on anybody." We are certainly witnessing a nation that as a whole is starting to ask God and His Lordship to leave.

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To be honest my first reaction after reading this letter was dread, fear and my tummy was sick. As I have thought about it over the weekend God has reminded me of so many things.

1. All the rulers are ordained by God. Romans 13:1 Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.

Will I praise God for whoever is elected? Will I see this as something that He has allowed to bring about His will for this world? Scripture clearly states, in all things give God praise. He is still on His Majestic Throne.

2. The Church, the followers of Christ, will go through persecution before Jesus returns. Daniel 12 is a great book to read on End of Times and Jesus speaks to the end in Matthew 24.

So my question to myself is "what am I hoping for here?" Am I hoping that the persecution starts after I die? After my kids die? Am I hoping that I don't have to be the one who deals with severe persecution? Do I want to just skate gently through my age so I don't have to stand firm on God's word when it is very difficult to do so? Am I afraid to stand for Truth (in love, in love, in love). Would I be willing to proclaim Jesus as my King with harsh circumstances to befall me if I did so? I pray to God I would never outlive my faith for Him. (I think about Peter here, and never say never, I just call on Jesus to fill me with His strength)

3. Do I trust God enough to not fear but put my hope in Him as he tells us to do hundreds of times in the bible? Live in the power of the Holy Spirit.

One thing that I think that happens when humans are cornered, is they act hateful out of fear. Whether we are a believer or not, our first human response is to start lashing out, either physically or with hateful words when we are afraid. This is certainly my first knee jerk reaction, but with Christ in us, we can look fear in the face and show it love, God's love.

They will know we are Christians by our love, not by our hate.

Our nation is calling for change, and there is a possibility that God will give them that. Obama is just a face for that change, our nation is deteriorating, just look at what we value. Money, power and strength with little regard to moral value. Many Christians have even invited it into our homes through the television, and through that television we have allowed our children to be desensitized so they are not sure of what truth is anymore.

I need to be more focused on teaching my kids truth. Pray for them to love reading God's word. Help them to see the world not as a fearful place, because Jesus has already overcome, but a place that is desperate for God's love, where they can make a difference for His kingdom.

As a Christian woman this is not the time to be fearful, but a time to take a fresh look at what is going on in my house. What can I do differently to prepare myself and my family to stand strong in the name of the Lord. How can I show my kids to love everyone with God's love but not be led astray? They have to know Jesus.

Yesterday at church there was a great video that said,
Jesus + Anything < Jesus.
We can't water Him down by adding on all of our issues, no pork barreling. What would Jesus do in a time like this?


If our country continues it's downward spiral what do I need to do?
1. Complain about it to everyone who will listen.
2. For the next 4 years whine and gripe how things would be different if only such and such were president.
3. Show the world Christ by reaching out to feed the hungry, house the homeless, visit the prisoners, give water to the thirsty. To treat the least of these like they were Christ himself. Show those around us who God is by our actions and faith in Him. God=Love.

October 26, 2008

Me In Front of the Camera??!! Almost Never!

I am going to be one of those mom's whose kids will look back and have very few images with their mom in them. That is not necessarily a good thing, but unfortunately it is the way it is. I love to take pictures and am not a big fan of being in front of the camera. But here we are again, it is almost time for Christmas Cards, my mind is twirling and whirling, what will we do for our family Christmas card this year? My friend Jana and I have gone out and shot small town Texas together on a few occasions, hopefully we will again soon, but last night we shot each other. We have a million pics of our own kids, but what we don't have are pictures with our husbands and for myself especially family pictures. So we kept the kid picture taking to a minimum and focused on entire families, and especially on us with our fabulous husbands. I put a couple of my favorites up. If I am not "in" the picture then I am the one taking the picture, i.e. Jana's fam and the ones of my kids. If I am "in" the pic then Jana is behind the camera. The best part of yesterday was just hanging out with Jana and her family. Jana and I met at the Estee Lauder counter where we had our make up done. I was going for COLOR! These colors are inspired by the lighting conference I went to a couple of weeks ago. The couple that taught the seminar said they always do wardrobe consults with their clients beforehand and they never, ever allow their clients to wear the white shirt and khaki pant or blue jean look. Why? You ask, because then their work would look like everyone else's. When clients ask me what they should wear for a portrait sitting, it is just easy to match the whites, blacks and denim's, let me tell you that putting your family in colors that work well together is not an easy task. But with much deliberation and closet scrounging and a trip to the store I think I did a good job and Jana did too, of showcasing color and making it look good. My goal was to use the colors of dark jewels, so the purples, teal, green, browns and then Derek in black because the shirt I found for him on sale at Kohl's was too small, worked like a dream. Jana's use of colors are dreamy, especially the one's of just she and Richard. (Yes, this is Dr. Beck) So enjoy these colorful images and the colors of bright eye shadow on my eyes, which is just what I was going for, funky and wild, so unlike my normal make up choices. Jana thanks for agreeing to go behind the camera to take pics of my sweet family!

These first five are of Jana and Richard and their sweet kids.






Jana and Brendon went back up to the local last night to get some rockin' pics of Brendon and his uber cool new skateboard.


Now my family. Jana took the first 2 here and the one of me towards the bottom, I took the rest.








October 24, 2008

What are you cooking when it turns cool?

What's Up???!!! I have been you tubing because there is some great stuff out there. I have been working on my computer for about 2 days straight, which means that my back and body are barking at me today. So I am taking a day away from the computer to get some other stuff done, like clean my house.

Last night I was tidying the kitchen while Derek was practicing his alto saxophone. I just almost cried. He is a beginner, sounds like a beginner, but I think he sounds wonderful and it is amazing to me that one of my kids is playing an instrument and can follow notes. This is not something I ever learned and feel completely inept musically. I had visions of his first performance with me blubbering in the first row, with the video camera.

Nothing major going on around here. Feel like baking because of all this cool weather. It is glorious. When it turns cool what is the first thing you like to cook or bake. Main dish or dessert, Chilli or pumpkin bread, help a sista out.....

October 23, 2008

Cardboard Testimony

Southern Hills Refresh service, (2nd service) will be doing cardboard testimonies this Sunday. I saw this video earlier this year somewhere and I have never forgotten it. There is something so amazing about sharing where you have been and what God has transformed you to be. The apostle Paul was a great example for personal testimony. Our family will get to share a cardboard testimony, my kids asked me what our sign would say, and I asked them what they thought it would be, they were right. I don't want to spoil the flip side of our testimony before Sunday although you can probably guess it too. Praising God for the miracle of transformation and healing.



North Richland Hills Church of Christ also did cardboard testimonies a couple of months ago. It starts out with Rick Atchley and his cardboard testimony. Very powerful stuff. To see it you need to click over to their site.

I would love to hear your cardboard testimony.

October 22, 2008

The answer to that is above his pay grade....

I am going out to vote early today. Walked by a voting booth on Monday but didn't have time to stop, as the lines were crazy and half way out the door. There are many reasons I am voting for the man I have chosen. But if there were no other reasons than this, I would still be voting for my guy. If I liked the OTHER guy, and everything else about the promises he makes and he felt this way I still couldn't vote for him. May God have mercy on us as a people.



God shows us mercy in so many ways, He forgives our sins if we only ask Him, He restores our souls, and refreshes our hearts when He is part of our day. To an individual who has made this choice I can only do what God does...grieve and love. I grieve the loss of a child, but I love the person who made the choice. The women I know who have made this choice are haunted for years after. What seems like the easy way out, is a way out filled with unimaginable oppression. Satan makes us think that we can commit a sin (whatever that might be), once we give into that sin, he is not done with us, he then turns against us and whispers things like, now you have done it, you can never be forgiven, you are a horrible person, if that person only knew what you have they would turn against you. That poor tortured soul who was enticed to sin by the forces of darkness, is now shamed and harassed by the very evil that took them to the sin. What are we as God's hands to do, we are to love them. Help them be restored to fullness in Christ. But as a people we can not sit idly by while our courts open the floodgates, to such wrongs. Love the wounded and broken and fight for what is right in our country.

There is a beautiful story on restoration here: http://lysaterkeurst.blogspot.com/2008/09/my-letter-to-david.html

October 21, 2008

Mac Vs. PC Commercials

I am so not tech savvy, that it is not even my place to say what is a better piece of equipment. One of my favorite people in the world is my cousin Michael and he is a PC Guy, and he rocks!!! But as a creative artist Mac's really do the job well for me. So I am not wanting to bring out any bad feelings here ; )
I love my Mac's and all things Apple, and I love their commercials.



Are you Apaphatic or Kataphatic?

Tuesday morning. Yesterday's class at ACU on Christian Spiritual Formation was very interesting. The first part of class we talked about scripture, then we were blessed to have Randy Harris come in and talk about his apaphatic journey. What is apaphatic? As a worshiper one generally either kataphatic or apaphatic. Kataphatic is when you focus on something, scripture, worship songs,...apaphatic is when you just be with God. One might associate this more with hermits or monks, and not generally with evangelical faiths. Randy told us he doesn't feel like one is exclusive of the other, although some people might disagree with him. I can see both being very important in my life, almost everything I do is kataphatic, but to be intentional and set time aside to be in silence and solitute and allow some space for quiet meditation in such a crazy world where there doesn't seem to be time to stand still seems like a breath of fresh air.

Apaphatic worshipers are also known as mystics. They don't have to put God in a box or rationalize Him to others, they just allow God to be mystical. I believe that God is mystical, there are certain areas that we might be able to get a glimpse of Him with in scripture, but until we join Him in heaven, our understanding of God is very incomplete. As I get older I am good with that. When I was younger I felt like I needed to understand everything, I certainly wanted to be able to explain God easily to someone who asked me about Him. I have realized that is no more possible than for me to create the universe. So I am learning to appreciate the mystical nature of God. What if someone asks me about God? It is bound to happen, I am going to resist the urge to try and sum Him up in a sentence, and just ask them to come and see. Spend time with me in scripture, spend time in worship at church, spend time with me in prayer. I love what Beth Moore said in one of her studies, (paraphrased) Any time we try and explain God with our human words, we are not doing Him justice, we are lessening who He really is, as he is too huge, too wonderful, too amazing for us to explain.

I have always found it easier to share what He has done in my life, and witness to that, than to give a succinct definition of who He is.

Through our Kataphatic worship we can know scripture, we can know Jesus's life on earth, we can clearly see the path that is set for believers, but to explain the Entirety of the Trinity would be to try and describe majesty in a foreign language.


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Scriptures, God's words about Himself, is what shows closest who He is.

Some of my favorite names of God, which certainly do a better job of describing Him than I could do. There are so many more, it is easy to do a search on this on the internet or through a book study there are so many materials available on the names of God.
The Alpha and Omega - The Beginning and the End
Jehovah-Jireh - The Lord Will Provide
Jehovah-Rophe- The Lord Who Heals
Yeshua - Savior
Christ - The Anointed One

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On our class field trip to the Christian Orthodox Church several weeks ago, which leans to the more Apaphatic side, the pastor told us that when one tries to explain God, put Him in our so-called boxes, if they get one thing wrong, or if there is a hole anywhere in their explanation and the listener finds it, it could lead to that listener not seeking God, or seeing God as flawed. And the person who didn't explain God correctly would have that burden to bear. (Again paraphrased)

So what I took away from that is I will only use God's words to explain God, or my personal testimony and witness as the how He has transformed me, but I will try never again to try and explain the I AM with my flawed description.

October 20, 2008

Jeans.

Good Monday morning. All is well here. A bit of exciting news is that yesterday I bought Jack a pair of jeans for our Christmas Card pics this weekend.. To some that is not a big deal, but for Jack to be in jeans means he has gone back to his normal size enough that he doesn't need to wear expandable pants, i.e. sweats every day. Once he started taking his steroids for the swelling of his brain do to the gamma knife radiation, his weight started to increase dramatically. He was a size 8 and went up to a 16-18 in the course of months. So 18 months after all that started he is now back in jeans. It worked out that today was 'jeans' day at school, which I was not aware of when we bought our target jeans, but I am so glad that we had them ready when he figured that out. Yesterday when he tried them on and then sat down, he said, "hey mom, these don't pop open when I sit down!" Yeah God. Thanks for seeing us through.
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If you haven't seen the pics I put up over the weekend be sure and scroll back, there are some fun zoo and family pics.
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I will probably write this again, but this is my favorite time of year. I had a dream last night that I was listening to Christmas music in my car. Bebo Norman's Christmas Cd to be exact, Bebo and Mercy Me will be performing in town in a couple of weeks and I had heard that commercial in my car, along with the change of seasons, thinking about Thanksgiving and Christmas, I guess I had sugarplums dancing in my head. So Merry Monday to all, and to all a good day. Ho-Ho-Ho

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quick addition: Speaking of Bebo, that new Brittany S. song he has out is so powerful. The first time I heard it I wasn't sure what to think about it. Each time I hear it on the radio it is riveting to listen to, and I find myself praying for Brittany each time I hear it. What a great song, and what a bold man to speak those words over her life.

October 19, 2008

A Couple More Zoo Shots

One of my most favorite parts of the zoo is buying for a quarter some animal feed, then tossing it over the edge of the platform to the fish in Nelson Lake. It is wild and crazy, if you throw out a good amount dozens of fish will rise to the surface to try and make that meal their own. They climb all over each other trying to get to the feed. Here is a fish that wanted to send a shout out this Sunday. Holla!! says the fish.

This shot is a bit creepy. The green mamba snake was all over it's cage. In and of itself it is freaky to me to see a snake slithering around looking for a meal or a way out. This snake was all about watching the people who walked by, I really do think it wanted to eat us. In this shot the snake was gazing at a man who was looking at an exhibit across from the green mamba's house. I am not a big fan of snakes.

October 18, 2008

Saturday in Review

Rob's dad flew home today. It was a super fun visit. I took these pics today, we went by Rob's work so his dad could say goodbye to him. I got a couple of pics out the back alley from the bakery where Rob works of the kids with grandpa, and Rob with his dad. I love the pic of Rob and his dad.




Then we went to the Abilene Zoo. It was fun and the weather is wonderlicious right now, so it just calls us to be outside. This first pic is of a friendly flamingo. His name was #67 and came right up to the edge of the water on the side to say hello. I think he might have wanted us to give him a snack, but instead I got this totally cool in your flamingo face pic. He was happy to model.


Then we went into the Zoo Shop. It was fun looking around and when I spotted the hat Robert is wearing it reminded me of Albert and Costello in the Jungle. What a great duo. Derek felt like the bat needed to be in the picture also, I guess it looks just like it belongs with this batty group. If I had to name this image it would be Albert and Costello go ghetto batty.


We had a great day.

October 17, 2008

Christ be with me.

Each time our class begins on Monday in Christian Spiritual Formation we start with some sort of exercise that helps us focus more fully on Christ, shut out the noise we just came from, for me it allows me to find that peaceful breathe of thinking on Christ. Several weeks ago we took turns saying prayers of antiquity. Old prayers that were written hundreds and thousands of years ago. Here is one of them.

The Shield of St. Patrick (paraphrased) There are 4 stanza's to this prayer I will list the last two.
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As I rise today,
Christ be with me, Christ be within me, Christ be before me, Christ be behind me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left, Christ be beneath me, Christ be above me,
Christ in my quiet, Christ in danger, Christ to win me;
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit, Christ when I stand,
Christ to comfort me, Christ to restore me;
Christ in every eye that sees me, Christ in every ear that hears me.
Christ in the heart of all that love me, Christ in the mouth of all who speak of me.

As I arise today, may I have
the faith of the starlit heaven, the hope of the glorious sun's life-giving ray,
the pure whiteness of the full moon, the focus of the lightning free,
the strength of the whirling wind's turbulent gusts, the depth of the salty sea,
the firmness of eternal rock and the stability of earth.
Praise be to the creator of all nature and mankind,
Praise to the God of my salvation, salvation is of Christ the Lord! Amen.

After reading this prayer I am not so sure that St. Patrick would be celebrating his day with green beer and streamers.
Enjoy your weekend. May Christ be all around you, may you be His love to others, may others show you His love.

October 16, 2008

Jesus Takes My Breath Away

Thursday morning. My father in law flew in last night for a short 2 day visit. It is always good to see his face. I stayed in the car while Rob and the kids when to greet him off the plane, our little airport is under massive construction in the parking lot. So the only way you can park is to park in a lot a fair park away, then be shuttled to the drop off area at the airport. Makes for a long process just to pick someone up at our tiny little 2 gate airport. But the good news is while I was there last night I got to see the wonderful new parking lot that is being constructed, looks like it is somewhat close to being done and it is covered which is even cooler. So yeah for little old Abilene Regional.

Tuesday night I was blessed to speak at the City Lights Ministries in downtown Abilene. It is an awesome ministry that reaches out to the homeless and whomever else needs some love in our community. It was a fun night and I made some new friends. I gave my testimony and shared how much Jesus loves each one of us. Each one of us were created for such a time as this, and that just makes me so happy to think about. I was pretty open about my previous drug and alcohol use in my early twenties and then talked about Jack's tumor. I loved the openness in each of the ladies and their hearts to give me a holla' out.
One of the ladies asked me which gives the greater high, c*caine or Jesus, I said, " Jesus for sure," and they all screamed like I had scored a touchdown. It was such a blessing to be there. I have added some new people to my prayer list, and I look forward to being with them each time they meet. The group is called Rockin' Mom's and they share a meal and have another activity, sometimes crafts, sometimes a movie, or a speaker. One of the mom's told me that she would be praying for Jack and for his face to be completely healed. Her faith was very strong and I appreciate that she is lifting my son's name to the Father.

I am so grateful that God has delivered me from a life that sought worldly things to fill my empty places. He fills us so completely with His love. I was remembering before I spoke the other night how it felt to run around in circles like a hamster on a wheel, never getting anywhere, in fact losing ground with each day. Not a good feeling. Through Jesus we are offered a life that has a healthy rhythm, a life of peace and fulfillment. He truly takes my breath away.

October 15, 2008

Hospitality and a Giggle

Monday was my Christian Spiritual Formation class. This week we met at the instructor's home and talked about spiritual disciplines it was a great class. My one thing I took away from class was that there are so many spiritual disciplines that we can practice, many we might already be doing. The one that caught my eye that I think our society is in desperate need of is "unplugging," turning off the cell phone, computer, media for a certain period of time just to be. If you are like me you are always tied to some sort of phone, there is always email to be read,... these things can mess with our ability to just "be" without any distractions. I was reading on a photographers blog the other day who had just shot a wedding on an island in the middle of nowhere and there was no cell service, no wi-fi, nothing. He was there for 4 days and although he enjoyed shooting the wedding he was in withdrawals with his connection to the outside world. This is an important discipline for me to practice. Another that I am not very good at, but the Lord calls me to is Hospitality. I eat lunch with a group of 3 or so families many Sunday's after church. My friends Robin and Guy decided to bring back the age old tradition of cooking a ton of food so you can invite people over for Sunday lunch, to your home, where we can fellowship in each others dwellings. There was something so grassroots about saying, please come join us for lunch today. It was marvelous.

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My blog has definately been a bit serious as of the last week, so in order to leave you with a giggle in your two step today enjoy this video of my amazingly handsome husband who is hearing the world in a whole new way. I grabbed this from my friend and minister's blog who if you haven't rss'd you are truly missing out. Thanks Vann. This is a sneak peek, the video will be shown in Refresh on Sunday, our second service at Southern Hills C of C.

October 13, 2008

I want to be an ordinary radical mom and wife.

I am about half way through The Irresistible Revolution. It has been a wonderful journey to follow Shane Claiborne through the streets ministering to the homeless, or in truth being ministered to by the homeless, he has done a sit-in to protect some people who were living in an abandoned building, mothers and children, from being sent out on the streets, he has called up Mother Teresa and was invited to "come and see," all that was happening in Calcutta, he went and saw, and took care of the dying, loved sweet children in an orphanage and amazingly tended to the lepers in the colony. He has made relationships along the way with these groups and each has touched each others lives and shared their hearts. Did I say I am only half way through. After leaving Calcutta he went back to the states and accepted an intern position at Willow Creek, talk about culture shock, Calcutta to Mega Church, performed by lip sinking in a musical put on by Rich Mullins at the university where he was finishing his degree. This boy has done some living.

My previous post I made a statement about how one lives a life called by Christ, devoted to Christ, what does that look like? If I was a young twenty something, with no family, to me that might be heading to the streets, to the poor and oppressed where my hearts seems to be pulling me to. But I am not a 20 something I am a 40 something, wife and mom to 3 beautiful children. I truly believe that my greatest calling is to love my husband and support him, and love my kids and raise them up to live lives that are dedicated to Christ. But my conflict is that I don't think that the life I am living right now invites my kids to really experience the Gospel. What I am teaching my kids is to live with morals and to love Christ but there is no rubber meets the road. Where do we experience servanthood together? I am teaching them to live lives in a bubble, separated from those that God calls us to serve. One of the statements in the book speaks to the fact that the rich don't know the poor and if they did that poverty might be lessened substantially because we would see people in need and help them by giving them fish to feed their bellies and teaching them how to fish. I am not rich by American standards but I am certainly rich by the standards of the majority of the people who walk the earth. By no means am I referring to government reform here, I am talking about allowing Holy Spirit to reform me, a movement that starts within my heart.

So my question to myself is what does it look like to be an ordinary radical as a mom and wife? I would love if you would give me some suggestions from your life, dreams that you have, or examples from the bible of women who lived extraordinary lives. I think that is where my study will take me, to look and see about the Tabitha's and Dorcas's, to look at, and then live it out.

October 12, 2008

Irresistible Revolution


I am about one third through this book. Don't read this book if you like living comfortably numb.

I love this book, it is full of incredible stories of seeking the lost, tending to the poor, loving the dying. I asked my friend Vanessa if this book was going to make me feel bad. You know the books that challenge your soft places that feel so comfortable to reside in. It hasn't made me feel bad, but it has confirmed that there is so much more to serving Christ than shaking a hand during Sunday morning service. It also makes me want to sell all my junk and give it to the poor. Thanks Vanessa.
The weird thing about that is, I am ready for it. There does however happen to be 4 other people living with me who like their junk. So I am waiting on the Lord to show me how one lives a devoted life to Him, be an effective witness and not be caught up in the psychoness of our society.

God show me your heart on this. To the ends of the earth...

October 10, 2008

My Call of Late. (My call was on time I was the late one)

Reading, reading, reading. I wish I could say that I have been reading alot, but I haven't made time for it much in the last two weeks. I finished the first of the Mitford Series by Jan Karon called At Home In Mitford. I told Rob it reminded me of Stars Hollow from the Gilmore Girls, but built around the life of a church, not who Loralei was currently dating. I enjoyed the book, it was filled with wonderful characters and small town quaintness. Rob would say, what is happening now? And I would answer something like, "well the pastor just lost his dog.., " so it wasn't a book I couldn't put down which is why it took me about 3 weeks to read it. I had bought the first three books of the series used on Amazon so the other two are waiting patiently for me to read.

I just received Irresistable Revolution and Jesus For President, both written by Shane Claiborne. My friend Vanessa talks about Irresistable Revolution all the time, and I heard several students talking about it up at ACU the other day, so that will be the next book on my list to read.

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I have been thinking about the field trip my Christian Spiritual Formation class took to the local Christian Orthodox Church a couple of weeks ago. We were in the question and answer portion and one of the students asked what the priest thought that the western faith was lacking in. I appreciated the priests thoughtful answer, there were several things he thought that the Christian Orthodox church does that he appreciated more than his baptist upbringing. One I wrote about already, there is no discussion on how contemporary or fundamental services are, they are the way they were a thousand years ago. But the one I haven't written about and the thought that I keep on pondering is that the Western Religions, which is most of the Christian faiths in the United States, expect very little from their parishoners. There are some Western churches that expect the devotion to spiritual disciplines from their members, but not that many as a whole. In the Orthodox church members fast regularly. In many churches we look at the word "fast" and don't even give it a thought. The practice of spiritual disciplines which fasting is one, transforms, transforms our lives, transforms our hearts, gives place to the spiritual where our flesh has it's feet firmly planted.

The priest said that people who do not practice any form of spiritual discipline typically have a very difficult time saying no to their fleshly desires...food, p*rn*graphy, materialism. This is certainly true in my life. I think that our Western faith is built so much on rationalism that we find it hard to devote ourselves to any form of discipline that we don't see immediate results with, even when God clearly expects us to fast. Over the last several years God has been calling me to fast, how do I know that? Well let's just say that going without food for any extended period of time would have to come from someone other than myself. Each time I read in scripture and there are references to fasting it is like that blue light special comes to life around that sentence. Here, Tammy, this is where I want you to go with Me, is what I feel when I am on a scripture regarding fasting.
So several months ago I felt the Lord was calling me to a 4 night/3 day fast. I fasted from Sunday at sundown to Thursday at sun up. I journalled through the experience as it was a long time and I wanted to remember how it all went. It was certainly a sacrifice to cook my family dinner and then sit down with them and have a glass of water or clear juice, but for the most part it was not that hard. I think because I knew that God was calling me to it, I was in His will, and I was able to rest in that place pretty easily.

Since then God hasn't called me to do a fast that lasts several days, but he has been calling me to fast each week. Several weeks ago I submitted my will to that and now I fast every Sunday night from sundown until sundown (or dinner time with my family) on Monday nights. I finally feel rest when I look on the words "fast" in scripture. No more yearning to do what is right but allowing my flesh to win the battle. Back up to the people who do not practice any form of spiritual discipline and have a hard time saying no to their fleshly desires, there is a heightened sense during the week, and it has been this way since my original multi day fast several months ago, a heightened sense of making good choices vs. letting my flesh take over. Am I really hungry? Or am I eating just because...

Materialism is something I have struggled with in my past, not necessarily in the last 20 years significantly, but here and there I know that I am not giving good thought to how I spend my money. So besides my regular fasting, I can feel God calling me to a simpler lifestyle, and there will need to be a fast of spending, so my stewardship is reflective of a life of simplicity. This brings me to a side note of how much I wish I had Randy Harris' wardrobe. He is a professor at ACU, he is drawn to a very monastic lifestyle, he wears black pants and a black shirt every day. That is all that is in his closet. I would love that.

Please don't read into this about the Pharisee that fasts and makes a big deal out of it, that is not my heart on this post at all. I think that if Satan can keep us quiet on how God is moving and changing us, if we don't share where He is glorified through our brokenness then we are not letting His light shine. God is moving in each of us and we need to in all things give Him praise.

The book that Dr. Wray uses in class on spiritual disciplines is called: Spiritual Disciplines Handbook (Practices that transform us) written by Adele Ahlberg Calhoun, it lists dozens of spiritual disciplines, the book we are probably all more familiar with is Richard Foster's book on Spiritual Disciplines. Both are great, but Calhoun's is a more extensive list.

October 09, 2008

Christmas Music and Beth Moore

My friend Yvonne emailed me this today. Thank goodness because mine went to spam and I might not have found it. If I was Julie Andrews and I listed a few of my favorite things Christmas music and Beth Moore would definitely make my list. At first I was pretty excited because I thought there was a Cypress outside of Dallas, which there is, but there is another Cypress outside of Houston and that is where it will be held. Seven hour drive ; ( I might need to listen to my new Travis Cottrell Christmas CD and work on my Beth Moore study and just pretend that I was there. There is a very fun tour with Beth going on in the northern area of the states this fall, enjoy the autumn colors by day and a lesson from Beth at night. Now that would be most joyful.

Back Home.

Home again. I learned alot in the last couple of days at the lighting seminar. JVS Studios who taught the seminar were awesome. A perfect team. They are also a studio that shoots everything with artificial light. Could be a gorgeous day outside and the sweet light be perfect and they would more than likely re-light the whole set up. Each photographer in the industry has to set themselves apart and create their own look. This studio has done that exceptionally well. Joseph the J in JVS is a true master in light, he knows the physics, he loves the technical side, that is his thing, his wife Anne is exceptional with people and creativity. Like I said a perfect team.

It was a great couple of days, the other photographers that attended were stellar photographers, it was great to make new friends in the industry.

So what else is up? My kids were glad to see my face this morning when they woke up. I am looking forward to some serious computer time to get work done.

October 07, 2008

Dallas Seminar/ Mother Teresa

I made it safe to Dallas today. Pretty uneventful which is awesome. The seminar was full of alot of info I posted some pics over on my photog blog from the Dallas fair tonight. We did some on location lighting set ups at the fair. The fair is huge and full of all sorts of cool lights and all types of people.
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Yesterday was my favorite class so far in my Christian Spiritual Formation class. This class was on the social part of spirituality, helping others, taking care of the poor. There was a great video shown on Mother Teresa, who is one of my greatest hero's. I have read so many books on her life before, her standard for living and serving, but I have never seen her in a movie or on television except for a blurb here and there on the news. Watching her take care of the dying brought tears to my eyes. She used her hands all the time, she would touch people's hands, their faces, the top of their heads. She was a true servant. The little flower is what her name means, but I say she might have been little, but she was a giant in servanthood.

One of the speeches that was featured on the video yesterday was when she gave a speech at one of the major universities and she said that she was surprised that the people in the United States were among the poorest of the poor spiritually. She said in India you could give someone something to eat and they would be o.k., but here in the states we were poor in a way that was much more difficult to treat. She opened up a mission in New York to tend to the poor there, poor, lonely, forgotten people.
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Tomorrow is a busy day. A full day of learning then heading home tomorrow night. Don't forget to click over to see my Dallas Fair pics they are full of beautiful bright colors and images.

No Fear, Holding on to God.

Tuesday morning. Need to finish getting ready to head out of town for my seminar. Confession time here: Traveling is not easy for me, anyone who knows me well enough knows that I ask for prayers when I travel. I could very easily be the kind of person who stays home and never leaves her hometown, I have not always been this way. Whether it is for a Dr.'s appt. for Jack in Dallas, a girls shopping day in the big city, me driving to a seminar, I get a little freaked out. This morning after I saw the kids off to the school bus I was sitting on my couch and my hands were visibly and uncontrollably shaking, I immediately went into my scripture and bible study and God's rational peace came over me. Satan wants to keep me home, he wants to fill my head with fears, he wants me to not look forward and certainly not go where God is calling me. Thanks be to God I will not allow that to happen, I will not let fear set my path, I just have to be in God's word. He is in control. Sometimes it just takes me about 2 minutes to remember that, those are two very painful minutes. Thank you God for being the Navigator of my days.

October 06, 2008

Sacrifice, Bible Study Rock's, Moo

Monday morning. I am starting my week a bit scattered, I have a lot to do and feel like my week is already half over. I leave tomorrow for a lighting seminar in Dallas, what I want to do is just cram 3 days work into today, but that is not what God is calling me to do.

Monday has become my day of spiritual, emotional and family tending day. My flesh is tempted to stay on this computer and work until my Christian Spiritual Formation class starts today, but after this blog post I will shut it down and take care of what is on the inside. I have found just a morning of sacrifice, several hours, not just a thirty minute block gives the rest of my week a better outlook. When I feel rushed and scattered I think I must work, but in reality that is when I need to stop and pray. I love the autobiography of George Mueller, he talks about that a lot. If I will put God before the other, He seems to make it all work out better than if I had tried to do so myself.

Our Ladies Bible Class last night was wonderful. We have several new faces that haven't done a bible study class on Sunday nights before. One of those ladies asked me if the classes were always like this, so open and truthful, women sharing their deepest spiritual battles and fears. It seems like the Sunday night classes are getting better and better, God's spirit is tendering hearts and I love being with a group of women where we can grow in the Lord and pray for each other. This bible study we are doing is called The Power of a Praying Woman, by Stormie O'Martian (pronounced O'Mart - e-an) and it is powerful. She is a perfect example of someone set free from bondage and who has victory in Jesus. I have her book Power of a Praying Wife and by reading that and praying the prayers God has changed my heart in my marriage so many ways.

I received my new Mini Moo Cards in the mail this weekend. I will take a picture of them and post it tomorrow, they are so fun and artsy. I just listed my name, my business website and my personal blog, they are more like a calling card than a traditional business card. Then at the bottom of the card I had printed...

grace, love, joy, mercy...shine on.

And that is my wish for you today.

October 05, 2008

Sunday Morning

Good Sunday morning. Rob is already off to church because he is working the sound booth in first service. The other kids and I will join him for class and then second.

I wanted to thank Sarah for a beautiful prayer from her heart for Anonymous that she left in the comments of the previous post. Keep Anonymous and his family in your prayers.

I shot a wedding yesterday, it was over at the Willow Creek Chapel, the wind was a bit strong but we made it through. The bride and groom were driven off in a horse and buggy, it was very pretty.

This week I am headed to Dallas for a seminar on lighting. The schedule is rigorous and will go into the night as it is on "lighting" shooting in the dark is an important component. I will learn all about different types of lighting set ups, one of our field trips is to walk from the studio 4 blocks to the Dallas State Fair and shoot there at night. That should be fun, and it will certainly be great experience. Besides learning new tips of the trade the best part is always meeting other professional photographers and learning from each other during our time together.

I will be sure and post some of those images by the end of the week.

I got home late from the wedding last night so I was up for Saturday Night Live, this time of year right before voting time is such a great time for this show. Tina Fey looks almost more like Sarah Palin than Sarah Palin does. It is a bit freaky.

I loved watching the Vice Presidential debates the other night, it was the first one I have ever seen. I like both Joe and Sarah. No real comments about the debate, but I thought for the most part I understood what both candidates were saying, sometimes in debates I have no clue what they are even talking about.

October 03, 2008

Let's pray for Anonymous.

I got an anonymous comment on my blog post today, "I do believe, help me overcome my unbelief." I wish I had an email address to let this family know that I would be praying for them and then I decided that it would be a blessing if we could all join in prayer for this family. I would bet that we all know people who feel crushed in their faith, maybe it is you, and I know it has been me. There is no more helpless feeling that I have experienced than to feel like God doesn't care. But as this man has been praying for the last week, and as I pray for myself, to help me overcome my unbelief - the power of Jesus will enter in and will increase your faith if that is what your heart is truly seeking. I pray that prayer every day, we will never have a faith that has reached it's pinnacle until our faith becomes sight. So many things are going on in our nation today, in our world, much of it doesn't seem to make sense and a lot of people are frightened. Scripture is so clear that we can not put our hope in this world, it is fleeting and it's ruler is the Prince of Darkness, we are only to be disappointed if we put our hope in our money, homes, or other people. God truly is our only hope, but sometimes we get shaken so much that we open a door for satan to bring in doubt, that is exactly what happened to me. Sometimes it helps me to really examine that power I give satan in my life, and it invigorates me to not let him take the ball to score a touchdown and crush my faith even more. I believe that satan really thinks of us a pawns in a game of chess, the more he can knock off the board, or hold back from really trusting God he scores a point for his home team. It is all about him hating God, him hating us, and trying to leave us without hope when we want to trust God. Although it seems like satan's voice is louder at times. But God is right there, he has overcome satan, we need only to give Him our heart fully and hold on. When things have been hard for me I will often close my eyes and picture me and God on a bicycle, He is driving and I have wrapped my arms around His waist with my head buried in His back, I am feeling the wind hit me, but He really is in front of me fighting the unseen battles.

Here is this gentleman's comment on my post. Please close your eyes after you read this and ask God to make His presence known and to increase this man's belief.

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My wife was diagnosed almost 5 yrs ago w/ breast cancer. Thank God we have come through it. Yet, for the past 5 years our entire life has been pure hell. I have lost 3 jobs, (not thru my fault), made a stupid investment that is sucking money away and our faith. I have for about 1.5 weeks now been praying Mark 9. What a powerful thing to pray, yet my faith has been crushed. I somehow have become so beaten that I do not really believe that God cares any more. I have even told God that I am sorry for my disbelief. Please pray for what God has placed in my heart about my job, family, etc.... I know that it is HIS will and desires for me and my family. I am just so spiritually, emotionally, and, physically drained. I want to see my good Father again.

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I want to thank the writer of this comment for taking the time to post. You have blessed me today by allowing me to enter into your families life and lift you to the Father.

Father God I pray a mighty prayer that only You can answer. Please be with this man and his family as they have had so many struggles over the last years. I pray that you will bless him with your presence and raise Him up with the power of your Holy Spirit. Father I know that once our hearts are truly broken to what we deem the most important thing, whether that be health or financial stability or so many other things we hold onto, once our heart is broken to those things and we realize the words in scripture that all we really have is You, that is when we can truly call you Lord and Savior and mean every word of it. Father God you are the King and you have overcome and we praise You for that. I pray blessings of hope, faith and strength over this family. May Your face shine upon them so they can feel your warmth. I know you will Father, and when this man looks back over his life he will rejoice because he finished the race and did not give up.
In Jesus Mighty name,
Amen.

6 Things About Me.

I am going to play tag today thanks to Susan at Lila's Journey. 6 Random things no one knows about me. This is harder than it sounds.

1. At 18 years of age I was the youngest store manager at the time for a large company called The Wherehouse, we sold video's, music and software.

2. When I moved out of my house at 17 years old a hairstylist asked if I would be willing to participate in a hair show. She cut off about 15 inches of hair and I had a platinum army cut with big bangs, think Flock of Seagulls. I loved it.

3. When I worked at the music store I was often given backstage passes, I have met Gene Simmons, Alice Cooper, Garth Brooks, Buck Owens,...too many people to list. I never got to meet Bono which of course would have been the ultimate person to meet in the music industry.

4. I have a love for sunglasses, especially funky ones.

5. I love to share my story about how God never left or forsook (weird word I know but I just looked it up and it is the past tense for forsake) me when I had on my Nike's or actually 3 " heels, and was running away from Him.

6. When I FINALLY turned back to God I told Him I would never leave Him again, that I would follow Him to the ends of the earth if that is where He would take me. I meant every word of it. Once you are in the light you never want to go back to the darkness again.

Those last two are maybe a bit more known about me, but they just need to be said, because without the running and turning I wouldn't be the person I am today. God can bring goodness from ALL things, even me. His exquisite Name be praised.

October 02, 2008

Family Camera

We have come to our somewhat regular showing of what I have taken pictures of with my little G9. As a typical week might have download several thousand images from my work camera, my family camera sits lonely in my purse or car wondering when my pictures will find themselves to my computer.

These first pictures are of an elders meeting at our church. Once a month they have a baptismal blessing for all who were baptized through the previous month. Derek was invited to be blessed and it was a wonderful night. These first pics are of Derek and others in the center of a group of elders and family where they lay hands on and pray over them. The last of this series is Derek holding up a towel that one of our ladies at church makes for each person who was baptized to receive. It reminds us of Jesus washing the feet of his disciples and that is what we are called to do in a similar fashion by serving those around us.





Here are some pics of my studio the night of Artwalk where I was the featured artist in the Cockerell Galleries. I decided it was a good time to show some of my work from my time in California earlier this year at a seminar. It was a really fun night, I met a lot of new people, and met several people who were interested in learning more about photography. I am blessed to be in a building where hundreds, I think this time 900 or so people walk by, in and around to look at all the art from the many different artists. It is a blessing to show my work and get feedback from others.



I needed to fill this wall and have a large print to hang there, but for the show I had the print in the foyer downstairs to welcome people to my showing. I will be taking everything down this weekend to allow for the next artist to hang their work. So this little collage I think will come down and I will hang an awesome 30x40 on this wall. I love these mirrors, they remind me a bit of something that might have been hanging in the Vegas home of the Corleone's in The Godfather 2.


October 01, 2008

Great Class.

It is Wednesday morning. I have a full day ahead, yesterday was most productive, I was on my computer from 7:30am till 5:00pm and I completed 4 proof albums, my back is paying for it this morning. So today I must move around a bit more. Yesterday I didn't post my One Thing from my Christian Formation class I am auditing at ACU, did anyone notice? Probably not, but for me it is a good way to revisit the details of the class and come up with a summation of what I took away from the class. If I don't do this it could be lost in the black hole known as my brain forever.

Monday's class was amazing. We visited the local Christian Orthodox Church on a field trip. I was SO excited to see what Orthodoxy was all about. I didn't know anything about the Orthodox faith at all. I can honestly say that I loved it. The first thing you noticed when you entered the sanctuary was the smell, it was the smell of incense, which in scripture God refers to our prayers as incense rising. The insense is a physical representation of our prayers and it includes the sense of smell in worship, the priest said that they like to worship God with all 5 senses. The Christian Orthodox church believes that their worship today looks a lot like the Christian worship from when the book of Acts was written. There is no place for fundamentalism vs. contemporary, no place for change of any kind, this is how they do it, this is how they have done it, and this is how it will continue. That was something that was highly appealing to the former baptist who became Orthodox who is the priest who leads the local church. I could say that it would take a lot of arguments out of the church. There were beautiful pictures which are called Icons at the front of the church, Jesus, Mary, Luke and a great portrait of John the Baptist were hanging in the front. Each were beautiful, of course Jesus was my favorite, but I loved how the wildness of John the Baptist was depicted, his camel hair clothing and uncombed hair. These appealed to the sense of sight.

The priest was very clear to tell us that the Icons were not worshipped. It might seem to an onlooker that they would be worshipping Mary, Luke or John, but the images were not unlike images we have in our home of family and friends who have gone on before us. We keep their pictures up to remember them and honor them. They are remembering those who have gone on before us, in scripture they are referred to "A great cloud of witnesses" who are cheering us on while we are on earth.

What I loved about this practice of Orthodoxy is that they attempt to bring the whole body into worship all 5 senses, they have requirements about spiritual disciplines i.e. fasting, that are done by all the members, I love the reverence shown to the Lord, and I also love the liturgical prayers, which means they pray the same prayers from a prayer book, at certain times in the day. I loved that the priest bowed to God, on his hands and knees all the way down to the ground, he leads the worship, the members follow his lead by doing the same thing.

This was different than anything I had experienced before, some I felt like I had come home, some I felt like I had not, but I think the key is to learn from this practice which is considered an Eastern religion, to embrace the mystical about God, not trying to explain Him, but just being comfortable with what I can't explain, to embrace spiritual disciplines as they are intended to be embraced for those of us that desire an intimate relationship with Christ, to find prayers that will set my mind upon Christ and lead me closer to Him, and pray those each day. I am so grateful for this experience.
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To a sillier subject: Me.
What is wrong with this picture below? This is how the process of what you see before you happened. I was heading out to go to my class on Monday. Grabbed my phone, grabbed my sunglasses, and my purse. Put on my sunglasses, then put everything else down so I could clean the right lense, it seemed a bit dirty or smudged to me. Cleaned the right lense, put my sunglasses on, grabbed my phone, grabbed my purse, left the house in a bit of a rush. Got into the car still thinking there was something wrong with the right lense, again cleaned it, put the sunglasses back on my face, looked in the mirror to see if they were scratched or something and it was then I noticed something was missing. The left lense. Where was it? It had fallen out and I had driven over it in my driveway, wondered what that black things was, well know I know.