Saturday, February 27, 2010

Do you see what this blind man sees?

I think this concept of CBS' (that you'll see in the video too) is so cool - How adventurous is would be to spin the globe and decide to visit the place where your finger randomly touches to stop it! And then .... to pick a person to meet totally randomly out of the phonebook in order to get a glimpse of what living is like there! Hmmm - I may hafta add that to my bucket list. I wonder if I could get someone to do it w/ me?! Any volunteers?

Friday, February 26, 2010

A river runs thru' it (our window!)

Update: Hooray! Both the TV and the x-box still work! :) But the cable box is fried. We got lots more snow today ... but at this point snow is better than rain & no more water has come in so today's cleanup wasn't so bad. I will say this all has served as some motivation to clean the basement! The finished part it is in pretty good order at this point - in fact I'm going to sit by the fire down there shortly - but the storage room .... well - that's another story. I'm in the mood for spring cleaning now! I hope it lingers & I'm still in the mood when the time is right for it! In hindsight this all could have been so much worse. So thankful it wasn't.

When it rains it pours here (seriously we get some intense rain!) & after all my recent talk about Noah's Ark, last night something happened that has never happened as long as we've lived here. A big snowstorm the day before followed by tons of rain on its tail created a menagerie of ice dams & channels setting up "the perfect storm" to really wreak some havoc - which in our case meant we essentially had a river running through our basement window!! Thankfully our dog, Katie, made sure we knew about it right away - but evenso, with all hands on deck, we likely bailed &/or pumped near 100 gallons of water w/ shopvac, carpet cleaner, buckets & towels before my husband & son eventually managed to sandbag & divert the flow. To look outside our window at the time, you might have thought you were looking into an aquarium without any fish! What a mess we have to clean up after today. I think we may have lost an x-box 360 & possibly big screen tv too :( Trying to let them dry out before we attempt to turn them on.... & I gather more rain is on the way.


Thursday, February 25, 2010

Concealed & Revealed - re: Noah's Ark

The New Testament is in the Old Testament concealed;
and the Old Testament is in the New Testament revealed.
One book. One Message. It's all about Him.

A friend who knows I'm involved in presenting a play about Noah's Ark forwarded me some info she tho't I might find interesting...& did I ever! I don't know the source/author (If/when I learn it I'll post it here) ... but I'll cut & paste a few things that really struck me as interesting & thought provoking: For the most concise version...just read the blue text :)

Was The Ark Big Enough?

Many people are skeptical about a literal ark having saved all the animals, etc. They are doubtful that it could have been big enough. (They don't really know how big it was, or how many animals were involved, but still they remain skeptical.)

The ark was 300 cubits long, 50 cubits abeam, and 30 cubits high. The cubit was a measure intended to represent the distance between the elbow and the tip of the fingers, and is approximated by most scholars at about 18 inches. (Various cubits have been discovered ranging from 17 to 25 inches.)

Assuming an 18-inch cubit, the ark would contain 1.5 million cubic feet, and would displace approximately 24,000 tons. This space approximates over 500 railroad cars and could contain 125,000 sheep or their equivalent. Since it has been estimated that there were about 18,000 species, and most of those would be smaller than a sheep, the space doesn't seem to be a real problem.

(Some scholars suggest that a 25-inch cubit might have been involved, which would almost triple that capacity.)


Where Did It Rest?

There is a "Mount Ararat" in eastern Turkey, right near the Armenian border and this is regarded by many as the Biblical site. There are numerous stories of sightings, but these expeditions have proven problematical at best.

However, there are some textual problems to be considered. When Noah's descendants ultimately came to establish Babel (later Babylon) they came "from the east":

"And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech. And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there." -Genesis 11:1,2

From the Biblical text, it would seem that one should look for the ark east of Babylon - somewhere in Iran, not in Turkey which is slightly west of north of Babylon.

It has yet to be actually found. I personally suspect that God still has a purpose for the ark. Perhaps that's why Noah was instructed to "pitch it within and without." You don't need to cover the craft with pitch on both sides of the hull except to preserve it. I suspect that it will be found in God's timing to provide a testimony, once again, to an unbelieving world of a coming judgment.


When Did the New Beginning Start?

"And the ark rested in the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, upon the mountains of Ararat." - Genesis 8:4

Why did the Holy Spirit want us to know that the Flood ended on the 17th day of the 7th month? (If you are a normal, well-adjusted reader, when you come across a verse like this, you simply go on reading. However, if you have listened to my Bible studies, you are no longer a "normal, well-adjusted" reader! You remember that one of my premises is that every detail is here for our learning (Rom. 15:4) and that God always rewards the diligent!)

This one takes a little digging. We know that the seven feasts of Moses are not only commemorative, they are also prophetic (Col. 1:17). Passover is, of course, prophetic of our Passover, Jesus Christ; who, as the Lamb of God, was offered on the 14th of Nisan. The morning after the Sabbath after Passover is the Feast of First Fruits (Lev. 23:11,15). and that particular Sunday morning some women were discovering the empty tomb: His resurrection was, indeed, the ultimate "first fruits." Three days in the tomb would indicate that He rose on the 17th of Nisan.

When we examine the institution of Passover, God also instructed Moses to make that month, Nisan, the "beginning of months," (Exodus 12:2). Therefore, the Jews observe two calendars: the original (Genesis) one which begins at Rosh Hoshana, the 1st of Tishri, in the fall; and the religious one that begins on the 1st of Nisan, in the spring.

So when you examine the "new beginning" of the world under Noah, it was on the very "anniversary-in-advance" of our "new beginning" in Jesus Christ! The New Testament is in the Old Testament concealed; and the Old Testament is in the New Testament revealed. One book. One Message. It's all about Him.

This is another of the many inexhaustible evidences of an integrated, deliberate design that highlights that these 66 books we call the Bible, although penned by over 40 guys over almost 2000 years, are a single message - a message that features, on every page, the mission, the achievement, and the astonishing blessings of, by, and through our Lord Jesus Christ!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Storms always get worse before they're over

I'm in the midst of directing this kids musical at church - a story about Noah's Ark told creatively from the animals' perspective. For the most part it's been fun but after rehearsals like the one we had yesterday, where we really begin to pull it all together & nothing seems to go quite right, I begin to think perhaps that's because I really don't know what I'm doing(!) & I wonder why on earth I, of all people, am doing it(?!) when there are others who would likely be so much better at it....people who can actually run the sound system - or get certain kids to sing - or to move two steps to the right and back again together (key word here). Throw in a very simple (so I thought) prop (umbrellas) & you almost create more problems than it's worth. I'll be so relieved if all the kids still have two eyes when we're done!

The thought occurred to me tho' - that when one has learned something well enough to explain it to others in a way that they can understand - then is when you know that one really knows what they're talking about.
Storms always get worse before they're over but if we trust & obey God, He will guide us thru' them - that's the moral of our story. And here is where it seems God is trying to teach me(!) that I have been well prepared to share this particular lesson w/ this group of, I just need to do my part well in order for them to do the same. God is not looking for perfection here - but He does expect for the job He has called us to do - to be well done - as in to the BEST of our ability. Sooo - after reminding the kids in a follow up email after rehearsal yesterday - to really practice this week, I promised them .... that I would too.

On a more positive note...I got a sneak peek at the ark our crew is "building" & it gave me goosebumps! - Was SO thrilled to see what a nice job they've already done - & they've only just begun! I've decided that I'm not going to let the kids see it until our dress rehearsal - & to surprise them w/ it then in hopes that it will be just the right ingredient to spark the measure of enthusiasm I'm really after just in time for our performance. - Just so grateful to have a team handling ALL of that - who know what they're doing & seem to
enjoy it ... no lack of enthusiasm whatsoever there :)

1 But now, this is what the LORD says—
he who created you, O Jacob,
he who formed you, O Israel:
"Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name; you are mine.

2 When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.

Is 41: 1-2a

Monday, February 22, 2010

Twelve "polished" stones

I went back into my post archives, found these stones & I polished them up a bit to display here today.

Joshua 4: 5b – 7 “ ….Each of you is to take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of tribes of the Israelites, to serve as a sign among you. In the future, when your children ask you, 'What do these stones mean?' tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD. When it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever."

This passage compelled me to select 12 "stones" from my own faith/life journey to "set-up"(record) as a memorial (personal testimony) of God's faithfulness & provision:

#1 My family - not perfect by any stretch - but helped me understand early on that I needed Jesus. At 8 yrs I trusted Him to be my Savior. A decision I’ve never regretted, despite others I have.

#2 My church. I was 11 when my dad was diagnosed w/ cancer & 14 when he died. My mom was mentally &/or physically ill continually. Don't want to think about where I'd be now if my church family hadn't embraced me as they did.

#3 Despite many poor choices (mine & other's) growing up God spared me from many of the worst of possible consequences. I realize now that the circumstances that "hardened" me, God later transformed into something good - something He could use. For one, among many, I became much more compassionate to others w/ similar issues I'd been immersed in &/or running away from.

#4 Despite marrying smack out of high school, (not necessarily for all the right reasons) The LORD blessed me w/ a husband who is still my best friend – a “constant” amidst constant change. For a long time, I kinda hoped he'd change, that he'd be different - but - when I changed, at some point I realized that I admire him more than any other person on this earth & now I find myself wanting - even trying(!) - to be more like him.

He would tell you that he has changed too...& to a certain degree I'd agree. He is more like me - & I am more like Him. I guess that's what "relationship" does to those involved, & after 23 years of marriage perhaps it's only natural. But - nonetheless, the big thing that I wanted him to change hasn't changed all that much & yet it's now on the the long list of things I admire about him & on the short list of things I admire most about him.

#5 The LORD gave & took away Baby Jeremy & called on us to make incredibly difficult decisions, thereby giving us the opportunity to demonstrate indeed our faith was real - which in a strange way, was an answer to prayer.

#6 & 7 Within weeks of each other, my mom & little brother (w/ Downs Syndrome) passed away. Losing my mom exposed much I wish I'd done differently to try to better understand/be less frustrated by her frailty. Note: At her funeral, The LORD reconnected me w/ dear friends I'd lost touch with - from the church I grew up in. Who knew (God did!) that just a few short weeks later I would travel back there yet again. This time, to be w/ my little brother in the hospital & that I'd find myself staying w/ them(!), in their lovely Christian home - across the country from me - but just down the road from the hospital(!)...a shelter in the storm.

My brother's illness & circumstances required me to make decisions I felt only God should make & re-affirmed how much I need Him. The "aftermath" drove me back to a more right relationship w/ God in a passionate attempt to never not know what His will is in any given situation ever again - & to find the place where I'm not resting so comfortably that I'm taking advantage of His amazing grace nor trying to earn His unconditional love. I've lived both extremes. I’ll likely never know, this side of heaven, if I should've handled that most difficult decision differently but despite all I feel should've done better/differently, I sense God guided me thru' it.

#8 Looking back, I sense The LORD set me up(!) (specific time/place/circumstances) for "surgery" - removal of so much "YUCK!" - to make me more like Him (still have a long way to go!)...I have (emotional) scars to prove it - but I find them to be very reassuring. They're part of me now because part of me no longer exists ... & that's a good thing.

#9 "Recovery" When I admitted I needed & asked for help (key turning point!) God gave me a new & very dear friend ("A") for just "such a time as this" & bro't an old friend ("D") across the country on various occasions (for reasons totally unrelated to me)! Both ladies were/have been such an encouragement. In a sense they were my recovery nurses ... & our church here doubled as my recovery room.

#10 When the cry of my heart was finally "Please! Make Yourself real to me, LORD!" He did! ways so personal & hard to explain yet I've tried at times - & I journaled furiously thru' it. To this day that is my favorite prayer to pray.

# 11 yet another big test... Playmaker was preliminarily diagnosed w/ JDMS...after the initial shock, lots of prayer & seeing many doctors at prestigious medical facilities & undergoing tons of tests, we were incredibly relieved to have a stockpile of info indicating that's not what she has (praise God!) nor was their any indication that she might have a number of other possibilities they tested for. "In the end" we had a lot more information but no real answers. "Ironically" "A" used to be a pediatrician! Here I gained a much greater appreciation for how incredibly timely this Christian, professional, personal & trustworthy relationship was (still is!).

Now - 4-5 years later Playmaker is still strong/healthy/athletic - tho' occasionally she still has some of the same annoying symptoms she had back then - but nothing has really changed or gotten any worse - & I finally resigned myself to the understanding that only God knows for sure what she has & if/when He wants us to know for sure, He'll make sure we do. At the advice of an amazing doctor (& how we connected w/ Him is a whole other "God story") we have scaled our efforts to find answers way back to having her monitored periodically for any changes. This has all been one of those ongoing situations where God has taught us so much in the absence of answers. For one, what you know is not nearly as important as Who You Know.

#12 The LORD gave & took yet another new friend - this friendship was with one whose body & mind embodied so much of what I sensed I'd failed miserably dealing with in the past. By the time we became friends many other friends of hers had - simply put - been "burnt-out". "S" needed a friend & I needed to exercise what I'd learned (compassion). When The LORD took "S", He left me w/ a sense of confidence & yet another confirmation that His strength is made perfect in (my!) weakness - & that He works all things together for good to those who love Him & are called according to His purpose.

I'm struck by how many of my "stones" are relationships (the consistent theme/pattern/design! in both God's Word & His creation). In history this all took place after the Israelites wandered aimlessly in the desert for 40yrs - & in my story I too collected these "stones" as I was pushing 40. At the time, the Israelites were heading/being prepared to enter the promised land - & so I'm encouraged(!) & can't help but wonder what God has prepared for me, at such a time as this, given the striking similarities in MyStory of History.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Just read...

I just read this. The book group I'm in began by reading the first book in this series. That book inspired the name of my blog. We begin each new year by reading the next book in the series (We're on #4). I look forward to this annual reunion w/ the characters ...feel like I'm touching base & catching up w/ good friends after letting much to much time (a whole year!) slip by since the last time we did that.

The ongoing story centers around a group of women (mostly strangers) that all attended the same Christian women's conference & were given the same number upon check-in & so were placed in the same prayer group. One woman received a "mom's worst nightmare" kinda phone call & these women bond so tightly as they get to know each other & lift this particular woman & her circumstances up in prayer. Their bond transcends the time limit imposed on it by the weekend retreat - & this new group takes on a life of it's own.

One of the things I love most about the story is that the women are
all from varied walks of life. Different cultures, ages. economic & marital status & professions. In a nutshell, they are VeRy different - yet they overcome their obvious differences that normally present themselves as barriers to potential relationships & become very good friends...friends that are intimately involved in each others lives. They encourage each other thru' the hard times - Help each other in practical ways - Work thru' differences that creep in & threaten their friendships - & celebrate happy times together, etc.

Clip from the description of book #4 at

"The Yada Yadas got tight in the past year, but they're about to learn the real meaning of togetherness.

We'd done it: we'd taken a mismatched, diverse group of women and cobbled together a prayer group that really worked for all of us. Now that spring was here, we were celebrating our one-year anniversary--and a wedding, an early parole, and two baptisms in the lake! Everything was feeling pretty great.

But it's when we're in our comfort zone that we're most likely to let our guard down. Without warning, lots of little things seemed to become big problems......"

Friday, February 19, 2010

Funny Friday

Playmaker found this for me last night - as I was thinking about what to post for this today....didn't really have anything. We were watching the olympics & she was surfing the internet too (she's quite the multitasker :) Anyhow, she came across this & we got a chuckle out if it so I'm hoping you will too :)

Bob was in trouble. He forgot his wedding anniversary. His wife was really mad.

She told him "Tomorrow morning, I expect to find a gift in the driveway that goes from 0 to 200 in 6 seconds AND IT BETTER BE THERE !!"

The next morning he got up early and left for work. When his wife woke up, she looked out the window and sure enough there was a box gift-wrapped in the middle of the driveway.

Confused, the wife put on her robe and ran out to the driveway, brought the box back in the house.

She opened it and found a brand new bathroom scale.

Bob has been missing since Friday.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

What to do, what to do? (so many choices)

"The only thing we can truly control is
how we respond to the events and circumstances around us, ....
via a dear friend I've never met
(When she said it, it struck & stuck :)

Sometimes when what I really want are specific answers to particular questions (Why?!, When?! How on earth...?! etc.) it seems God has so much more for me to learn in the absence of answers - so instead of answers, He gives me directions/instructions on how to react &/or respond to whatever events & circumstances I find myself in at any given time. Sometimes I sense that He says ...

Wait * Go * Do something * Stop! * Let Me take it from here * Pour your heart out * Stop whining! Suck it up. Be strong. Courageous. Do what needs to be done & leave the consequences to Me * Show some compassion here * Have mercy * Share * Take a stand! * Back off! * Say something * Bite your tongue! * Hold on! * Let it go, already * Claim it * Proclaim it * Leave * Press on * Remember * Forget * Forgive * Don't forget * Work hard! * Rest * Bloom & grow * Uproot & transplant * Be encouraged * Be warned * Be content * Be tender * Be firm * Run the other way! * ....

Trying to sort thru' all my options based on the little I know for sure is futile but I know that if I just be still & know that He is God (& remember that I am not!) - He will be faithful to meet me where I'm at - that place I described recently. The place where, where I'm at in His Word intersects at any given time with where all the variables (circumstances, motives, feelings, etc.) combine to make whatever situation I'm dealing with unique. Even at times when I'm not reading in His Word - or not reading it as faithfully as I know I should be, often it's those words of His that I've memorized/hidden in my heart that somehow manage to make their way from my heart to the forefront of my mind at such a times as this.

12For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. 13Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

Hebrews 4:12-13

God certainly knows how to get my attention & so often He uses the events & circumstances around me to do just that. Tho' He never forces me to listen or to do what He asks/suggests/commands. That choice is always mine to make. And it occurred to me, that what makes me unique & to respond certain ways at certain times (even when others would likely respond very differently) I believe can be summed up in one word: Choices.

When you add them all up - every single good & bad choice I've ever made plus many that others have made - you get me. If any different choices had been made along the way, I'd be different. I've certainly learned a lot from my choices - & in fact, some of the most difficult lessons I've learned have been the result of making poor choices. When you factor in how my choices affect others it gets rather mind boggling, but let's not go there just now.

....My point is - as time goes on I hope to become less like me & more like Him all the choice at a time. In the meantime, I hope for at least some shreds of evidence to that effect to be revealed now & then in how I choose (hopefully consisently!) to respond to the events & circumstances around me.

17Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
2 Corinthians 3:14 - 18

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Deep Tweet

No man knows how bad he is till he has tried very hard to be good.

(C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, p 13)


Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The rest of my story (the end!) begins now

Assignment: Share a love story from your life.
(Remember, it doesn't have to be a romantic one...
just a time when your heart felt real love.)

There are two extremes for those of us who trust Christ as our savior. One - trying much too hard to earn/deserve the free gift of His amazing/saving grace. Two - taking His amazing grace for granted - as a license to sin bc you know that all your sins - past, present, future - have been forgiven.

I accepted Christ as my Savior when I was about 8 yrs old. Don't remember a time when I didn't trust Him - but I do remember hearing lots of other people's testimonies in which there was such a vivid before & after moment when they accepted Christ & when so much changed - how they lived, talked, acted, spent their time, etc. This caused me to wonder if I really believed that what I really believed was really real .... or was it just something I believed bc it was what I'd been taught. I thought having a life changing before & after moment to refer to would be so reassuring. I should note that at this time I tended to lean toward the extreme of taking His amazing grace for granted.

Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world,
to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul.
I Peter 2:11

Then ... about 6 yrs ago ... my mom & my little brother died. Both were "far from normal". My mom had numerous physical & mental health issues & my little brother had Downs Syndrome. I, on the other hand, was SO normal (selfish/proud) that often I was embarrassed of them &/or frustrated with them - especially my mom. No doubt I loved them but I never really realized how much I loved them until I lost them both within about 6 wks of each other. Only then, in the months that followed, did I understand (yep - I'm a slooow learner) what God used them to teach me. In a nutshell ... I needed to be different - far from normal too! It was then that my strong will turned into a desperate & determined attempt (passion) to know God & somehow - thru' it all, my passion turned into compassion in such a way that I can claim but is hard to explain. I'm still far from perfect - except in the sense that He has made me perfect forever - but praise God I'm also far from normal & hopefully getting farther away all the time - bc God placed some very special people in my life who were far from normal too - & He's used few to teach me as much as they did.

There's much more to my story - some of it I've shared in bite size pieces on this blog. The circumstances surrounding my brother's death added a whole other twist to it. And after "all of that" (I'll likely share it here sometime. It's just so hard still.) I nearly lost my mind. Literally. Here I went to the opposite extreme - & tried so hard to make up for taking advantage of His amazing grace & to be deserving it - but never succeeded. I wrestled with God in much the same way that Jacob did & eventually, I was wounded/humbled(!) in much the same way Jacob was too. Like him, I will never be the same. This was my before & after "moment" - which in reality lasted for months in which God went to great lengths to respond to the cry of my heart for Him to make Himself real to me & to convince me that He would never leave me. It's hard to wrap words around but I'll likely spend the rest of my life attempting to.

Ironically (& I use that word loosely) about this time - & after reading one of the books in the series that inspired this blog - I was inspired to look up the meaning of my name. My mom had always told me she named me Joyce because of the joy she experienced when I was born. So - you can imagine how stunned I was to learn here that my name really means Experienced in Battle & to learn of it only when it finally fit like a glove.

I was challenged here recently to summarize my story into SIX (yep - 6!) words - as if summarizing my whole life story into one very short all encompassing tweet! I gave it some tho't & soon realized it wasn't so hard....

Made perfect forever. Being made holy.

.... because by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever
those who are being made holy
Hebrews 10:14

The first part is done. Final. Written with The blood of Christ (permanent ink). The last part - aka the rest of my story - which, by the way, begins now - is likely (based on my history) to be a difficult process at times - one in which The Author will need to edit a lot in order to make it good.

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

So - stay tuned for further details of the rest of my story - which, as far as I'm concerned, has already proven to be an extremely remarkable MyStory of HIStory.

Monday, February 15, 2010

How do you feel? (TROMS Pt 14)

Emotions make great messengers & bad bosses.



Q. What are your feelings saying? What's true?

A. How I feel continually changes - but the answer to this question is one of the few things that consistently remains on the short list of things I know for sure. At any given time, I know for sure how I feel.

B. What's true? That's easy. Truth is real/reality. But knowing what's real, right, wrong, true, false, etc. is not always easy.

Recently I heard a pastor caution against opening your Bible in search of specific answers to particular questions. Instead, he encouraged reading God's word daily, as you'd read most any book, & to look there - where you'd be reading anyhow that day - to see what God has to say about your most pressing questions. This made a lot of sense to me bc I've learned that one can essentially make the Bible say just about whatever they want it to say. In one situation this seems right & in another it doesn't. I believe that's bc there is a time for everything. What's right in this situation might be wrong in that one. By reading God's Word "this way"/daily (well... almost) I find that He faithfully meets me where I'm at - that place where all the variables (circumstances, motives, feelings, etc.) combine to make whatever situation I'm dealing with unique. So
often, when I'm done reading I feel both convicted & encouraged - & so I sense His leading about what to do & what not to do & where to go from here & where not to go from here. This is where my relationship with God gets quite personal. It's hard to explain but nonetheless, from experience, I've found this to be true.

But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light,
so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.

John 3:21

Sunday, February 14, 2010

How do you Guard your heart? (TROMS Pt 13)

Holley shared that when she learned that part of the Greek word for contentment means "to raise a wall against.", this verse came to mind:

"Above all else guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life [aka The source of your story]."
Proverbs 4:23

Prior to that she viewed contentment as a barrier that could block her dreams - but suddenly she saw it as just the for her heart...Like a lock on a little-girl diary, contentment keeps safe what matters most."


Q. Am I (Holley) the only one who struggles with contentment? What helps?

At times I struggle w/ contentment, in the sense that I get bored easily - but it helps to count my blessings. It may sound trite - but it's true. When I shift my focus from what I want/wish/hope/long for - from bigger/better/faster/newer/shinier/etc. - to what I have & what I'm able to do, I tend to be shamed into asking myself - how in the world could I possibly want more?!

6But godliness with contentment is great gain.
7For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.

I Timothy 6:6-7

Saturday, February 13, 2010

What's your story statement? (TROMS Pt 12)

A Story Statement is a lot like a Mission Statement. I like the word "story" because it implies creativity and freedom as well as reminding me that God is the Author.

- Think back on everything we've covered: Strengths, Skills, WWW. Then create a sentence with this structure...

To bring + (what) + (who) + (how)

- How we live this statement will change many times during our story.


Assignment: Write a one sentence rough draft of your life story statement.

I found this to be among the most challenging questions/assignments so far. - & Holley said to spend less than 5 minutes on it! It's just .... I wanna do so much w/ the time I have left & the very nature of the assignment seems so specific/limiting/confining. Hmmm. Maybe I'm just a bit claustrophic. Anyhow .... I decided to go ahead & do the assignment but to keep it very general so as to keep my options open! :) Here goes:

To consistently & creatively use my strengths & skills
to share the love of Christ in personal & practical (meaningful!) ways.

Well now - that wasn't so hard. Now that I've done it ... I'm glad I did - tho' I'm too embarrassed to tell you how much time & thought I put into it. If this were a timed test, I'd have failed miserably ... but hopefully the final exam won't be so tough bc I really like this statement & am hoping that my "rough draft" will suffice as my final answer too.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

What if you're waiting? (TROMS Pt 11)

The Rest of Your (My!) Story - 21 Day Challenge hosted by heart to heart with holly

Q. What is your heart waiting on right now?

A. At first I didn't really think this question applied to me at this point - but then it dawned on me, even if we're exactly where we want to be in life, we're always waiting...wondering What does God have in store for me next?! As best we can, we use what little we know for sure to plan & prepare for what we know nothing about - aka what the future holds.

I've waited at times ... to see how on earth God would use "this" for good * for some inkling of direction regarding what to do & where to go from here * for an answer to a question or a prayer * and for something/someone my heart longed for.

In the waiting, I've found that - even if I'm not sure what to do, it helps to do something(!) - anything that qualifies as something good, because quite frankly, "doing nothing" contradicts how and why we were created...

...for relationship (with God & others)
(designed) to do good works.


Idleness is the parent of psychology.

- Nietche -


For we are God's workmanship,
created in Christ Jesus to do good works,

which God prepared in advance for us to do.
Ephesians 2:10

Therefore, I urge you brothers, in view of God's mercy,
to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God
- this is your spiritual act of worship. 2Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Romans 12:1 & 2

...and I can't help but wonder if that (worship!) is precisely what God is waiting for us to do when He makes us wait? It sure sounds to me like something He would do (based on HIStory) - which is why it seems to me that assuming ...whatever you do, [you] do it all for the glory of God (I Corinthians 10:31b), even when you don't know what to can't go wrong if you do something - while you're waiting.

What are your skills? (TROMS 10)

I have some catching up to do as it relates to
The Rest of Your Story - 21 Day Challenge over at heart to heart with holly

Skill: A strength expressed in a specific way that builds up others and benefits the Kingdom.

double click the image to to see a larger version


A. Communicating, organizing, leading/administration - are a few that come to mind.

I kinda wish I had more "hands on/creative skills" .... but somehow creativity (the fun part!) works itself out sometimes.

My skills along these lines were honed when I was in the workforce. Among various other jobs, I worked as an Administrative Assistant/Secretary to various executives - 4 men/2 two women. Four of the six were no doubt, perfectionists. I think it's safe to say that two (& possibly more) of them were OCD. One would walk around the office picking things out of the carpet (seriously!) & he had white carpet w/ plastic runners all over his practically perfect home. And another... well let's just say I shudder to think of how many trees in the forest we essentially depleted editing & tweaking letters over & over again until they were "juuuust right".

I will say that from all of this experience, I learned to write concisely/precisely - to wrap words tightly around my thoughts using as few words as possible. That's good when when one wants be articulate/accurate in what they convey...but not so good when you just want to tell a good story & your vocabulary is rather limited to mostly non-descriptive words! I enjoy writing "the story way" but I find it to be challenging - & when I do, I tend to lean heavily on a thesaurus!

Of all of the executives I worked for, the ones I admired most were the ones whom the adjective "perfectionist" didn't really fit. They tended to be much more enjoyable to be around (for one thing - they had a sense of humor!) & to work with/for - more relaxed - more approachable, interactive, appreciative & easily satisfied, less selfish - & in general, I think they both earned & received .....more respect.

When I consider "all of this" this in terms of my faith, I'm so incredibly/eternally grateful that the words "Well done, good & faithful servant..."(Matthew 25) are what I'm aspiring to when I stand before The LORD, & that His Son has fulfilled all of the perfection requirements in that regard on my behalf - because not once, not ever(!) have I managed to do anything (let alone everything!) perfectly. Because of my history, if it weren't for His story .... I'd have no hope.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

We're going on a field trip ... to Senegal

It's official. Strike, Playmaker, Playmaker's boyfriend & I are going to Senegal, Africa in April. Tickets are purchased. The girls & I went yesterday to get our immunizations (I need 6! Depending on the result of a blood test, I may need 7. ouch!). We have to go back one more time for more. Malaria medicine & self medicating antibiotics have been prescribed. I dropped off a letter to Playmaker's Guidance Counselor yesterday to notify her teachers of the school she will miss in hopes that they'll help her plan ahead so she doesn't fall behind in her schoolwork.

Senegal is a third world country - so this will by no means be a 5 star vacation. I'm generallly not a big fan of cruise ships, luxury hotels & vacation packages when it comes to traveling - as they tend to shelter travelers from "real" people & real life...which is what I'm really interested in. I also believe American born/bred citizens should leave our country's borders at least once - to experience real life anywhere else ... especially if they're prone to complaining about life in America.

Some Dakar Demographics: 2 million people * 95% Muslim * Aprx 1/3 of the population live below the international poverty line of US $1.25 per day.

We'll be staying with my brother, who is a teacher there, & his wife. Our itinerary is packed w/ places to go & people to meet. Among them:

- The Door of No Return (former slave house) on Goree Island
- Capital city of Dakar
- The kids will likely attend school one day w/ other kids their age at the school my brother teaches at.
- Strike will finally get to meet her penpal there!!
- Outdoor Marketplaces.

My sister-in-law shared recently that fresh produce & eggs must be washed in a bleach/water solution for 20 minutes before eating, flour must be frozen for a few days before use to kill any bugs & she says:

"Sometimes when I want to buy meat, I go down to the local meat shop pictured. You have to hope that the piece of meat you are buying hasn’t had too many flies on it! The meat hanging here is sheep that someone just brought into the shop to sell. They had it loaded in the back of an old station wagon and got it out and hung it up. I guess you would call that special delivery!"

Stay tuned for further details.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Snow & ice & all things nice.....

.....that's what happy memories are made of

& that's just what we made yesterday.

Dad, Spokes & Playmaker headed to the park, cleared off a spot on the frozen lake & wa'la .... we had ourselves an ice rink. Once all was ready, Strike & I responded to the call to action & headed over too. I average donning ice skates about once a year & yesterday ushered up the perfect time & place for just such an occasion.

Yours Truly :)


There's not much I enjoy watching more than
Daddy'o havin' fun w/ his kiddos

Three Amigos! :)



Sistah Chicks :)

Going home....

Sunday, February 7, 2010

The Pianist

I 'd like to say I enjoyed the rare occasion of spending an evening home alone w/ my husband last night ....but I really had no idea what I was getting us into when I picked out this movie for us to watch. If I had known....I would not have watched it. I've long managed to avoid Schindler's List for similar reasons. But, in all honesty, I'm so glad I did watch it. Just considering how painful it was to watch, & the freedom I took at times to close my eyes &/or plug my ears - somehow helped me realize, even more than I did before I watched it, just how horrific the holocaust was. I was almost in shock. Wasn't until after we went to bed that tears finally stung. One thing that helped me get thru' it was knowing that this man survived ... & that this was his story - from which we can learn so much.

Winner of the prestigious Golden Palm award at the 2002 Cannes film festival, The Pianist is the film that Roman Polanski was born to direct. A childhood survivor of Nazi-occupied Poland, Polanski was uniquely suited to tell the story of Wladyslaw Szpilman, a Polish Jew and concert pianist (played by Adrien Brody) who witnessed the Nazi invasion of Warsaw, miraculously eluded the Nazi death camps, and survived throughout World War II by hiding among the ruins of the Warsaw ghetto. Unlike any previous dramatization of the Nazi holocaust, The Pianist steadfastly maintains its protagonist's singular point of view, allowing Polanski to create an intimate odyssey on an epic wartime scale, drawing a direct parallel between Szpilman's tenacious, primitive existence and the wholesale destruction of the city he refuses to abandon. Uncompromising in its physical and emotional authenticity, The Pianist strikes an ultimate note of hope and soulful purity. As with Schindler's List, it's one of the greatest films ever made about humanity's darkest chapter. --Jeff Shannon

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Are you in survival mode?

Only put off until tomorrow what you
are willing to die having left undone.

Fair Warning ... these are just random tho'ts here....not very well organized...but they are well thought out nonetheless ... at least in the sense that I have thought about them. a lot.

Farmgal's post started my wheels turning in this direction again recently as I considered what I would do differently if I knew I would likely die very soon. And it occurred to me that so much of our lives we spend living in "survival mode" - basically trying not to die. I thought about how obsessive we can be in that regard. I mean - let's face it...we live in a paranoid/phobic society.


I wondered ....

how would life be different if we weren't afraid to die?


just what is it that we're so afraid of?


"All of this" brought to mind a previous post "toward that end"


this song came to mind too:

John 11:25-26 25Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; 26and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?"

Friday, February 5, 2010

What are your strengths? (TROMS Pt 9)

Click here to learn more about:

a personal characteristic that can be used on behalf of God in service to others.

Today's (Yes! I'm finally caught up :) Question:

What are your strengths?

A. Here, it struck me(!) - that some, of my strengths are things I enjoy doing... things I recently identified when I posted a list of things that make me happy! Tho' oddly enough & in all honesty, it feels more like bragging when I identify them as strengths - but that IS the assignment - so here goes....a list of some things that I both enjoy doing & consider to be personal strengths:

Writing (Communicating)



Sharing is different from giving in that it involves taking. The process of "give & take"encourages relationship which, quite frankly, is what I believe we were created for! I honestly believe that what God created (His Works) & inspired (His Word), He did in order to to "communicate relationship" ... with Him & with each other.


Note: This might seem like an odd thing to list here - but I think it qualifies as a strength because the more up close & personal that I'm able to explore creation/nature, the better I understand the nature of the Creator! Maybe I should just lump it together w/ the next one....


Note: The more I REALLY understand after studying, exploring, researching, reading, writing, calculating, etc ..... the better I feel like I know God & the more effectively I'm able to share what I'm learning with others.
Being Creative ... how I use my time, money, energy, & God given abilities to express what He has shown, taught, & done for me ... in hopes of sharing Him with others.


If I ever stop caring, I hope I die. Caring is what motivates me to do so much of what I enjoy!. I see people around me who seem to have lost their abilility to care about anything or anyone other than themselves & some who have even lost that (!) & that ..... is just SO sad.


4 Delight yourself in the LORD
and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Psalm 37:4

For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works,
which God prepared in advance for us to do.
Ephesians 2:10


How about you? What are YOUR strengths? Not sure? Click here for a list of possibilities. Following is a strength test I found there too:

Service - Does it help me serve God and others?

Time - Has it been present throughout much of my life?

Relationships - Do others see this?

Energy - Do I feel energized when I'm living this way?

Natural - Does this come naturally to me most of the time? OR do I know God has intentionally developed this in me even though it doesn't?

Glory - Does God ultimately get the glory from it?

Trials - Even in hard times, does it usually come through somehow?

Heart - Does this really feel like a core part of who I am?