Tuesday, November 06, 2007

I'm Going to Be a Missionary

I know this may sound silly, but I am going to be a missionary...right here in the Chattanooga/Collegedale area. Just like any missionary, I'm not exactly sure what to expect. I don't know what my daily schedule will look like, or what my job description will be. I don't know how or where I will connect with people or come into contact with people who can be lead to a closer relationship with God. There are so many things I am unsure of. However, in this open future I do know a few things.

#1 My mission is to reach out to families, all families, but mostly families that are hurting. This includes a LOT of people. I want to reach out to single-parent homes, homes with divorce, homes with pain, homes where children may not get all the love they need. I want to get to know these people, to build relationships with them, to throw my all into it. I want to spend time with them, have them over for food, help them to grow and become strengthened. Most of all, it is my prayer that through these contacts with children and primary care-givers that they can be led into a deeper relationship with God.

#2 I want to reach out not only to Adventists, or even Christians. This is a hard one. While I have non-adventist family members, I grew up in an Adventist Bubble, and I still live in one. How do I meet non-Adventists? I guess that's where God comes in.

#3 I do not have to bring in income. This is hard for me. I want to really help support our family (me and my husband) financially. But, it doesn't look like this is what God is calling me to do. That's how it is with mission work sometimes. You have to scrimp around. I will trust that God will provide the money that we need when we need it.

So, that's what I'm doing with the rest of my life. I'm sure Joshua's House will play a role, but will not be the focus of all that I am doing. I am eager and excited to see where God will lead me on this missionary journey.

I graduate on December 13, so my missionary deployment will begin right after Christmas. I look forward to updating you all on progress and sharing with You all of the exciting people God brings into my life.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

It's All Because Of School

Have you ever noticed how my blogs suddenly stop when school starts? It's amazing how busy and crazy things get. I hope to start blogging again soon. I only have 47 days left until graduation, and then I plan on taking it easy for a while, which means...more blogging! Yay!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

A Day in the Life of Butter

Okay, so this is really a picture of Peanut, but Butter just moves too much for the Camera.

Butter is my pet mouse. He has had quite an interesting day, but I don't want to spoil it. Here's the story from his perspective:

Today started like any other day. I woke up - itchy as usual. I've got to stop scratching because my skin is really taking a beating. Anyway, today was, like I said, pretty normal. Early on, one of the big hands reached into my cage to give me some more food. The big hand let me climb around on it some. Then it gave me a treat - that's the best part.

I kinda like that big hand. It feeds me, and gives me water and treats. It even lets me snuggle up in it sometimes. There's something comforting about it. It's nice.

It didn't take long for this normal day to become not so normal. All of a sudden, the big hands picked up my house. What was going on? Next thing I knew, I was in this hot, muggy thing and it felt like everything was moving under me. I went forward and backwards. I didn't like it and I started to get sick. I just wanted out!

Then, suddenly the moving thing stopped moving. And the big hands picked my house up out of the big, moving, hot thing. It was great! I was done...or so I thought. After moving my house around several times, the big hands finally left it alone in one place for a little while.

The big hand rested in my cage like it usually did, waiting for me to climb up on it. I quickly went to it, hoping that it would have something comforting to offer me, but it didn't! It gave me to another set of big hands I'd never seen before and then put me on this cold, black, hard thing. That was scary. Then, I was able to go back to my home.

Not long after that, the new, strange set of hands came and got me again. Then, another set of strange hands put some kind of liquid on me and scraped one of my scabs - ouch! That hurt! I DID NOT LIKE THIS! Why couldn't the day just end?

Soon, I was placed safely in my home again, but not for long. Again, I was picked up by that strange pair of hands. This time they held me tight and I was forced to eat something. It actually tasted kind of good, but I didn't understand why I had to be held so tightly, or why I was forced to eat it.

When I was put back in my cage this time, I was also put back into the hot moving thing. Would this ever end?! It did end. Soon, I was safe with my house in it's usual spot. All was peaceful and quiet. However, I have just been moved to a different home. It's smaller, and I'm not sure I'm happy about it. The wheel is even smaller.

What is with today? It must be the worst day of my life!
The story from the perspective of the big hands (me).

I noticed that Butter had been scratching a lot lately. He had scratched himself so much that he was beginning to scratch big hunks right out of his skin. After much online hunting, I concluded that he must have mites. Mites cause all sorts of itchiness for mice (it's the equivalent of Scabes for humans), and if untreated, can actually kill them. After some more research, I concluded that this must have been what caused the death of our beloved Peanut.

I hunted for the prescribed cure at area pet stores, but to no avail. There was only one solution to rid my mouse of this terrible itch and save him from (sort of certain) death - a trip to the vet.

I loaded Butter into the hot vehicle, blasting the air and driving slowly and gingerly so as to cause the poor mouse the least possible stress. When I got to the vet they weighed Butter at a healthy 0.4lbs. Then they took him off for a skin scrape. This was to make sure that my initial conclusion (about mites) was correct. The vet tech returned, informing me that the vet had found half a mite and was looking in his books for further information.

Butter was given a dose of oral medication, and I was left with strict instructions on a several days process of sterilizing his cage. Fortunately, we have a small cage from before that would suffice while Butter's larger cage when through rigorous sanitation. We moved him over as soon as we had a chance this evening.

Next Friday he goes back to the vet for another dose of medication and an exam to check on those pesky little critters. Hopefully that visit will find him mite free, itch free and without the danger of dieing from those pesky varmets.


Oh how often I feel like Butter. Everything seems to be going wrong; nothing right. Yet, I must remember that there is a loving pair of hands taking care of me. He knows the whole situation, and He sees far more than I can imagine. It is my prayer that I may learn to trust Him more. To trust even what I don't understand.
"Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight."
~Proverbs 3:5-6

Friday, August 24, 2007

Don't forget the jogging.

Athletic shoes - check. Athletic socks - check. Super sporty pony tail - check. Nice and comfy exercise pants - check. Pliable exercise shirt - check. Woo Hoo - I'm ready to work out now.

I love wearing my exercise clothes. For one thing they are incredibly comfortable. For another thing they make me feel fit and slim. When I'm wearing my work-out garb I feel like I could run a mile, for that matter, I feel like I could run 10 miles. I am motivated.

As I dressed in such attire today and was looking at my schedule, it hit me. I can wear these confidence boosting clothes, but I'm not any more fit, slim, healthy, toned, etc until I actually exercise. Yes, it's sad but true. When it comes right down to it, this outfit really doesn't do much for me except give me a little boost. It really isn't a miracle outfit though. I won't lose 5 pounds if I wear it 30 minutes every day. I won't tone my abs if I jump into the suit while working on homework. It just doesn't work that way.

Then I was thinking some more, and this kind of reminds me of Christianity. Wearing Christian clothes, having the title, going to church, etc doesn't make me a Christian. These are all like my exercise outfit. Sure, they can be great motivators and reminders, but in and of themselves, they don't do much.

James talks about this in James 1:22-25

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does.

Let us fully embrace the gift, the love, the life that our Father in Heaven has giving us. Sure, go out, joyfully wear your exercise outfit. But in the process, don't forget a nice, refreshing jog. I'll see you at the starting line!

Saturday, August 11, 2007

My God is so BIG

"My God is so big, so strong and so mighty, there's nothing my God can not do. My God is so big, so strong and so mighty, there's nothing my God can not do."
As these words floated through the air at cradle roll this morning. I thought for a moment. "There's nothing my God can not do." I know it's true. Obviously we learn that from an early age. I mean for crying out loud, God parted the red sea, he provided manna in the desert, he walked on water, he healed multitudes, he created the earth and everything in it! There truly is nothing that He cannot do.

But then I thought some more. I really don't believe that do I? If I did, I wouldn't stress so much about finances. I wouldn't worry when plans didn't seem to be working right. Whenever I had a problem I would turn to God FIRST. My thoughts continued along this line for quite some time.

It's amazing how profound a song sung by 2-4 year olds can truly be!

Mightier than the thunder of the great waters,
mightier than the breakers of the sea—
the LORD on high is mighty.
~ Psalm 93:4

Thursday, August 02, 2007

The Journey Home (A parable by me)

Monica sat contentedly in her seat on flight 553. She couldn't wait to arrive at her destination. It had been 10 years since she visited her small hometown of Hindersonville. More than anything she was excited to connect with the cherished people of her past.

The people of Hindersonville found it hard to forget their beloved Monica. They eagerly awaited her arrival and took the tenderest care to make sure her trip would be perfect. Their ambitious plans insured a visit that would result in gleeful reminiscing.

As her flight grew closer to the Hindersonville airport, Monica couldn't help but wonder about the people she so fondly remembered. She giggled at the memory of Timmy and Thomas. These two mischievous boys were twins. She babysat them from the time they were born until she left Hindersonville two weeks before their 5th birthday. They would be 15 now. Monica couldn't wait to see how they had grown. She couldn't wait to hear of all of their adventures.

Then, there was the dear old lady who lived down the street; Mrs. Tompkins was her name. Boy, that was a smile Monica would never forget. Mrs. Tompkins would sit on her poarch and watch as people walked by. Anyone who looked her way or said hi would be greeted with the most sincere, crooked smile that beamed with kindness. Monica remembered the many glasses of lemonade she shared with this kind grandma as she told stories of days long passed. Monica couldn't wait to hear of old Mrs. Tompkins. Was she still alive? Would she still have stories to share?

Monica's cousin, Jena, lived in Hendersonville too. She had heard that Jena had great plans to change the world. Of course, this was no surprise to Monica. Jena had always been an enthusiastic go-getter, stopping at nothing to see her dreams turned into reality. But what were these big plans? What great dreams was Jena striving to achieve?

Oh, and Monica couldn't forget the Murpheys. This young couple moved to Hendersonville just before she left to follow the path laid out before her. She remembered seeing them beaming as they proudly announced at church that they were going to have their first child. Was it a boy or a girl? Did they have more children? Monica wanted to know everything.

Monica's thoughts were quickly brought back as she heard the pilot announce that the plane was landing.

Meanwhile, a happy party - signs ready, hats on head and party blowers in hand eagerly awaited the arrival of their young friend.

Monica stepped off the plane, excited to see all the eager faces. She saw twins, but they weren't boys, they were almost men. Could that be Timmy and Thomas? Oh, and there were the Murphey's, but there were no children. Maybe the kids were in bed. Monica couldn't wait to meet them. Jena was there too. There were so many people. Monica was so excited she thought she might burst. But before she could think, she was enveloped in a whirlwind of people dragging her away and quickly loading her into a personal limo to take her to the nicest hotel in town. The limo ride was nice, but how Monica longed to be with the ones she loved so much.

Upon arriving at the hotel, Monica was immediately escorted to the nicest room in the place. As she opened the door she was shocked. Her mouth dropped open a bit as she absorbed the scene of flowers, pictures and notes beautifully decorating her suite. The notes all told of the excitement of her arrival. As Monica fondly looked through the pictures, her eagerness grew to deeply connect with these people who made up her past.

This opportunity never came.

The plans for this short trip were amazing, so intricately and lovingly set in place, yet everything was rushed. From one event to the next she flew, always loudly proclaimed and fondly spoken of. Despite all this she was barely able to spend five minutes with one person before being shuffled off to the next thing on the itinerary.

The week was soon over. The people of the town were beaming. They had set all the best in motion. They had given Monica the best food, the best lodging, the best clothes, the best luxuries. They had done so much for her.

As she boarded the plane, Monica managed a smile and a sincere thank you for all of the love and care they put into planning this trip. As she got on the plane, a tear began to slowly trickle down her cheek. Loneliness, sorrow, and sadness gripped her. What Monica wanted more than anything was to connect with these people so dear in her heart. She wanted to share in their triumphs and to comfort them in their sorrows. Yet, in their eagerness to "go all out" for her, they forgot all about her.

How often do we treat God like the people of Hendersonville treated Monica? We get so excited about living our lives for God, or so caught up on the plans that He has for us, that we forget all about God. We forget to take that time to share with Him and include Him. We forget to make Him first, above all else. Jesus didn't die so that we might do great things for Him. He died so that He may spend eternity with us. Why not start right now?

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

I May Have a Job When I Graduate!!

Yep, you heard correctly. I may have a job when I graduate from Southern in December! Where would I be working you ask. Right here, at Southern. That's right, I'll be traveling really far. Lol. Here's the story.

I have been tutoring at Learning Success Services at Southern for a little over a year now. I love working with the students and seeing them succeed. Most of what I have been tutoring is for the Academic Power Tools class. This is a class to help students who are struggling in school. It teaches them about note-taking skills, test-taking skills, how to get the most out of a textbook and other such things. Well, I was thinking the other day that I would LOVE to teach this class rather than just tutoring for it. Well, I talked to my boss about the prospect of teaching this class when I graduate in December. She was excited about this idea seeing as she wants to teach fewer of the classes. She just got a lot more added to her job responsibilities, and she was hoping she could get more help teaching the APT classes. She was ready to get me signed up as Adjunct staff right then and there. Then, we both decided that it might be better for me to get my degree first and wait until January.

I am supposed to talk to her again in October. I don't know if this is God's will for me. I don't know if my boss will change her mind about having me teach. I don't know if Southern will hire me. But, I do know that the prospect is certainly an open one. I know that I would really enjoy it. So for now I pray, and come October, we'll see what happens. Maybe in January I'll be an Adjunct teacher at Southern Adventist University. Woooo Hoooo!!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007


Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. ~John 14:27

Monday, July 16, 2007

Reminders of God's Love...EVERYWHERE

This morning an interesting thought hit me, "What if I put reminders of God and His love everywhere? What if everything around me continually pointed to Him?" This concept seems fun and appealing to me. While I know it could get a little out of hand, I don't know that the idea is all that bad. Let me explain.

Imagine if every time you picked up your water bottle to take a nice refreshing sip of water, you were met with this phrase: "Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life" (John 4:13-14). Thoughts of Jesus as you drink!

Or, what if every time you went to wash your hands, you found this inscription on your soap: "Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin" (Psalm 51:1-2).

What about when you open the bread box, or pull out a loaf of bread and the card attached to the bag read: "Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness" (2 Corinthians 9:10).

Above your stove or microwave could hang a sign: "I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth" (Revelation 3:15-16).

This is so much fun, and I could go on all day. But I can't help but wonder if these reminders of God's love, if this constant direction to Him would change my life at all. What if I thought about God all day in everything I did? Hmmm.....

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Matthew 28:19

Photo taken by Emily Ford

"Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."

Saturday, July 14, 2007

That Haystack Hidden Needle

Some people would call me a visionary. Some may even go as far to call me a passionate visionary. I have a passion for life. I have a passion for all the wrongs in life being righted. This may sound honorable and noble, but it's not all it's cracked up to be. The problem with all of this is that in order to want to change life, to want to make things better, I have to first become focused on this world. I have to recognize what's wrong. I also have to be aware of all of the barriers that stand in the way of change and restoration.

The truth is I know deep down inside, that if I just focus on those barriers, on all the things that are wrong or difficult, I will never find my way through. So often I allow myself to be torn town by the huge obstacles in my way. So often all I can see is what's wrong. It's like looking for a needle in a hay stack. If all I see is the hay, if all I can focus on is this huge mound, then I will be filled with so much sorrow and an overwhelming sense of impossibility. Yet, if I trust that God is there, that He is with me, and that He truly has made a way, I will have hope and faith that the needle really is there. So suddenly, my eyes will be turned from the massive hay stack to the God. He knows where that needle, where the tiny way through is. Prayerfully, I will search for that needle until He helps me to find it. Then, when I have the tiny, shiny object in my hand, the stack of hay will not seem so overpowering.

If I focus on all of the things that are wrong in my life, in the world, in other people's lives, and fail to see the way that God made, I will allow myself to become lost and trapped. I will roam around in the dark. This is not what God has called us to do.

In Colossians, (3:1-2 to be exact) Paul tells us:

Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.

So that is what I will strive to do. Rather than focusing on the trials and obstacles this life may hold, rather than allowing myself to be overcome by all that is wrong, I will focus on Christ. I will look to Him. I will allow Him to be my point of focus.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Live Like We Believe

Most Americans over the past few decades (at least middle and upper class citizens for sure) have grown too comfortable with life in general. We hold strong convictions and beliefs; but when it comes right down to it, are these convictions really important to us.

In the days of the pioneers men and women worked hard. They often spent their days working tirelessly on tasks they did not enjoy. The men slaved away to make a home for their family to live in, and then worked and toiled trying to produce food from the sometimes stubborn land. The women spent long hours making clothing, food, and other necessities for their families. Sometimes they had to be extremely creative to provide for the needs of those around them. Why? Why would these people voluntarily subject themselves to rough conditions? Because they believed in something. They had a picture of what their family needed, what would ultimately give them what was best, and they stopped at nothing to reach that goal.

There are stories of people in the Bible like Paul and Abraham who stopped at nothing to serve their Lord. Paul went on many journeys, suffered persecution and imprisonment time and again, why? Because he truly believed in the gospel message. Abraham was willing to take his son Isaac to the alter and sacrifice him as God had asked. Why? Because he believed that God is a God that keeps His word. God had promised that Abraham would have enumerable offspring through Isaac, and He believed what God said.

So often we live like we believe until it gets hard. We talk about the importance of health or losing weight...until we have to put into practice some things that are difficult. We talk about the importance of family and friends, and we mean it...until we have to sacrifice things we don't want to, or we have to put forth more effort than we desired. We tout the significance of investing our money and recognizing that it's God's...until that means we can't have the latest thing. We easily admit the importance of making sacrifices for God...unless that means we actually have to work harder or do something we don't like, or step out of our box to fulfill that calling. We easily talk with other Christians about the importance of living our lives for God first, and we truly believe that...until God's plans don't match with ours, or until He asks us to do something hard, or if He asks us to let go of something we don't want to.

My question is this: Why don't we live like we truly believe? We live in an age of ideals and opinions. Everyone has strong opinions and can talk-it-up like you wouldn't believe, but we fail to step out of our zone of comfort, we fail to ask God to help us to do what is difficult, we fail to trust Him implicitly, and we live like we believe as long as it's easy. I don't want to live like that anymore.

"And [Jesus] was saying to them all, 'If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it...'"
~Luke 9:24-25
What do you believe in?

Confused and Loving the Commission

This sign seems very fitting for my life lately. I'm so lost. I have no idea where God wants me to go or what He wants me to do. Over the past week I have gone through so many ideas it's not even funny. Most of them are falling through. So, what does God want of me. It's too the point that I'm not even sure about the next step any more.

I wish I could share with you all of the possible future plans that are unsure, but I cannot. Arlen and I have decided that for right now, we need to pray and leave room for the Holy Spirit to work. We don't want our decision to be based on the ideas and opinions of those around us, but rather on the clear leading of the Holy Spirit. So, on that note. I solicit your prayers.

I do, however have an adventure to share with you! Last night Arlen and I were driving home from taking care of a friend's animals. I felt a sudden urge to go downtown to check out the houses we had been looking at online. It seemed like something fun to do. We don't know much about the safety of the "neighborhoods" so we decided a Saturday night might be a good time to check it all out.

We went home, picked out the four houses we were most interested in and printed out directions. At 8:58 (I think that's the right time), we set out on our grand adventure. We maneuvered our way around the city to come to the first house. As we turned onto the street we were delighted to see children of all ages and ethnicities playing together. There were people socializing. That was a good sight. The houses were not very big and were diverse. Some were in bad shape, and others had obviously quite recently been remodeled. As we approached the house, we looked inside and were very pleased with what we saw through the windows. The yard was big and the house was surrounded with trees (kind of). It was like a little piece of heaven at the end of that street. Our next step was to talk to the people who actually lived there. Would they be friendly? Would the neighborhood be safe?

As we talked with one guy we learned that the street was very friendly indeed. Everyone knew each other and enjoyed spending time together. That was exciting news! We felt very safe on the street, which was good. We loaded back in the car, and prepared to search for the second house on our list.

This house was less than a mile away, but felt like a completely different part of the world. As we turned on the appropriate street, we noticed immediately that strange men were randomly wondering around. I quickly locked all the doors in the car. When we realized we were going the wrong way on the street we turned around, and this guy (he must have been drunk), tried to flag us down. We still hadn't found the house yet, but at that point we decided it didn't matter. We did NOT feel safe in this neighborhood, so we headed to our next destination.

The next house was in a nice area, definitely more middle class. While this neighborhood wasn't as friendly as the first, it did seem safe. People seem to keep to themselves (like typical Americans). The house was nice. It's nice and big, with a separate apartment option on the top. It also had a nice big deep yard. We looked at what little we could see and resumed our journey.

Suddenly, we were redirected on our trek. As we got to a crosswalk, Arlen was letting a guy in a wheelchair cross, but instead of crossing, he came to our car and tried to get a ride. We looked at each other, and thought "why not," so he skillfully and quickly got himself and his wheelchair settled in our back seat and gave us directions on how to get to the Tennessee aquarium (that's where he wanted to go) from where we were. By this point, we were totally turned around and confused. We successfully dropped him off, got our bearings and headed out again.

As we got closer and closer to our destination, we felt more and more the suffocation of the city. We were exhausted, and confined and we wanted out. We quickly drove by the last house, and we were ready to go home!

What an experience. It's amazing how much diversity there is in such a small area. I think the biggest impact our Saturday night exploring had on me was the realization that there is a whole world out there that I am completely unaware of. I have lived my life in a middle class, Adventist community my whole life. There is so much to experience in life. There are so many ways that God can use me! So many ways I want Him to use me. (I just wish I knew His plans.) I'm eager to face life head on and experience more than comfortable suburbia. I feel the incredible inspiration in the great commission, and that is what I leave you with:

"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age."
~ Matthew 28:19-20

Thursday, June 21, 2007

I Think I'm Graduating With the Wrong Degree

Have I chosen the wrong major? Here I am, only 3 classes away from graduating - sick and tired of school, and I think I've finally figured out what I'm supposed to do with my life...well at least what degree I should graduate with. I should have been an education major!!

Let me explain. I love kids. If any of you have worked with me at camp, you know that God has placed in my life a special kind of connection with children. There is no better feeling in the world than to help kids grow a little closer to God. I also LOVE to make lesson plans. I know this sounds crazy, but I really do. The problem is the kind of lesson plans I like to make. (And this is the reason why I never went into education). I am not a text book person at all. Now, don't get me wrong, I think text books have their time and place, but they are way over rated, and completely overused. I enjoy this kind of all or nothing learning. For example - reading text books - I just don't get it. Now it's possible I could be missing something, but why do we have them? Especially in today's world where you can get books on just about any topic at about any reading level. Why not read about some of the other things you are learning in class, to get kids excited about reading. You can read about animals, history, science, God, social studies; you name the topic, there are bound to be level-appropriate reading materials on that topic.

With just about any subject, you can have hands-on activites that teach far more than being confined to worksheets and textbooks will ever teach. With math - apply the math that is being taught to fun situations - cook, have "stores" set up to learn how to use money, be creative. When you are learning about science, don't just read about it in a text book, experience it. Rather than just reading a chapter about clouds, go outside, look up at the sky, peak your students curiosity by asking them questions. Go, lay on your backs, look up at the sky. What do you see? What shapes are in the clouds? What kind of clouds do you think they are? How many kinds of clouds are there? Do different clouds do different things? Then maybe think of creative ways to find out about clouds and let the kids do the teaching - let them present their findings.

I am also a huge proponent of field trips! Take the kids to experience as much as they can. They will learn much more from these experiences. Have them take pictures and make scrapbooks of the field trip. Get them excited about life, about all the things God has blessed us with in this world. The last thing I support in school is family involvement. If parents aren't involved it's no good. So you bet as a teacher I'd be having parents over to my house for meals, I'd be having all sorts of activities in which the whole family can get involved.

I guess I've been so afraid that this type of teaching would not be accepted. Especially now with all of the "No Child Left Behind" laws. Yet I wonder. What am I to do? What is God's plan for me? How does Joshua's House fit into all of this? Was I supposed to be a teacher? Do I get a degree other than the one I'm graduating with in December? So many questions. These questions spin my life kind of upside down.

Amidst all of this I am drawn to God. He knows my future, my past and present. And He knows how everything will work out. He tells us
"For I know the plans I have for you...plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart." ~Jeremiah 29:11-13
So I rest on that. The question is, am I ready? Am I ready to lay aside all my preconceived notions of what life SHOULD look like? Am I willing to lay down all the plans that I have laid for my life? Am I willing to live radically? To do whatever God requires of me? Am I willing to let go?

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Contagious Excitement

This week we had some exciting things going on in our house. Let me explain. Arlen received a call from one of his clients asking him to meet at their office for a thank you surprise they had for him. Not thinking much of it, Arlen headed over to their office. As he talked to the staff member he had been working with the most, she handed him an envelope with his name on it. Arlen opened it and what he found inside made him stand there for a minute dumbfounded. It was a $2000 voucher with the MAC symbol on it. Not wanting to believe that this really was $2000 toward a new mac computer, Arlen waited for some sort of explanation. Sure enough, his initial reaction was correct. The company Arlen had been working for really appreciated his work and wanted to tell him thank you by getting him a new mac computer.

Arlen has been elated. This week he has told everyone he knows about this amazing gift he has received. Each time he tells the story, his face lights up more than it did the previous time he told it. As I was watching him share his story one time it hit me. This is totally how it is with God. God does amazing things for us. Often they simply go unnoticed, and even when we are aware of them, we keep them to ourselves. However, if we would share the wonderful things God is doing in our lives, our excitement would only grow! Just as Arlen gets more excited every time he shares about his new mac, we will get more excited about God's working in our lives every time we share what He's doing with others - and they will get excited too! (I've also noticed that excitement seems to be contagious.)

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

A Petition for Prayer

I am requesting your prayers. You see, for a while now (I'm not really sure how long, but I know at least a year), I have been having issues with sleep. It's not insomnia, no, I can fall asleep pretty quick. The trouble is staying asleep. I wake up several times throughout the night. Most of the time I easily fall back asleep; but as you can imagine, waking up at least 6 times a night doesn't prove for a very restful sleep. This is a problem. I often wake up in the morning still feeling exhausted, sometimes even more tired than I was when I went to bed. This problem is affecting my life, and I don't like it. Because of this, my emotional stability is not that good, and that affects my life in so many ways. Worst of all, it affects my ability to serve God fully and completely. I'm so exhausted I just don't have much to give Him.

Realizing this I have made a decision. I will no longer stand for this. I am soliciting everyone that I know to pray for me...hard. I know God wants me to be an effective worker for Him. I also know that He has promised His children rest (Matthew 11:28). He tells us again and again to be persistent in our prayers. He also tells us to have confidence in the prayers that we send heavenward (1John 5:14). So that's what I'm going to do. And that's what I ask You to do with me. Together we can pray until God gives me rest. I know this is important to God because it effects my relationship with Him. I know He will answer our prayers.

Thank You all for laying this issue before the throne of grace with me!

God bless!

Laura Byrd

"With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible." ~Matthew 19:26

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Is Anyone Listening?

So, this has been killing me for a while. I've been wondering...who is really reading my blog? Is anyone reading my blog? Are my words simply slipping into oblivion? If that's the case, I'm kind of sad, but I will not stop writing. I could never stop writing. There is something powerful about putting my thoughts into words, about taking time to really reflect on God's work in my life, about recognizing His workings. So no, I won't stop writing, I just wanted to know...who's listening.

Stronger Faith

So normally I try to blog about Joshua's House stuff on my Joshua's House blog, and what's going on in my life on this blog. Well, those two paths are now crossing. Astonishing, I know. The reality is that my other blog is more of a professional blog, and well, Joshua's House is just so much a part of my life right now that I can't possibly reduce it to a continually formal level. Okay, sorry for that ramblesome introduction, now I will stop and actually write what I was planning on writing.

I've been spending a lot of time over the last few days kind of throwing myself into Joshua's House. I've been loving it. And God has used it in amazing ways to stretch and strengthen my faith. Yesterday evening I went to a birthday party. While I was there it seemed I spent the whole time answering questions and sharing with some of the people present about this wonderful ministry that is taking shape. It was so much fun! It made me think a lot too. You know, it's kind of hard starting a ministry, especially one with the scope of Joshua's House. There are so many choices to make, so many things I'm unsure, so much work that needs to be done. At time it becomes overwhelming. It is at those times that I want to start taking over. I immediately jump into fund raising mode desperately trying to find a way to come up with funds to pay for people to design a website, write songs, stock photography, stories, and the list continues. But all of these things show a lack of faith. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that fund raising is bad at all. Let me explain what I mean just a little more.

Last night, David Gates shared some thoughts with us for sundown worship at the party. He was talking some about his ministry, Gospel Ministries International. This is an amazing ministry run entirely by volunteers - nobody gets paid for their work. David was talking about how his family decided to take a year off. They would be totally ready and open to God's guidance and would not accept a salary for any of the work that they did. They knew that God would provide for their needs. And sure enough, He has. He shared story after story of contacts that God brought to David that he needed to push things forward. He shared stories about how they got helicopters, airplanes and all sorts of things that they needed with no money. He reminded me that God owns it all. He owns the whole world. He doesn't need any money. If I need help, or volunteers or anything, I just need to turn to God. Joshua's House is God's ministry. It's not mine. I just have to be willing to do what He asks of me, and He will provide the finances, volunteers and all the resources that are needed. I just have to trust Him.

Over the past few days, I have felt really challenged by all that God is asking me to do. I still do not understand it all completely. I am not positive where He is leading, or even what the next step is, but I pray that I may always seek Him first, rather than trying to clumsily make it through on my own puney knowledge. God has promised that He will show me the way!

Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, "This is the way; walk in it."
~ Isaiah 30:21

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Vacation at Little River Farms pt. 2 Peacocks and Pony Rides

We're still having a great time here at Little River Farms. As you can see in the picture, I especially like that my traditional garb (overalls) is quite appropriate for such a vacation.

Now it's time to share a little more about our trip. One of the places we spend the most time is down at the big bird cages. Ronan particularly likes to sit and watch the turkeys, ducks, chickens and homing pigeons. Although all of these birds are fun, he most enjoys watching the peacocks. There are two Indian Blue and One Java green males. (The females aren't quite as fun to watch.) We like to watch as the males slowly spread their beautiful feathers and stamp and dance around trying so hard to get the attention of their female cagemates. Often they are like little sonars following the females around the cage begging for attention. This display can be slightly depressing to watch as the males put forth so much effort to attract the females, but often, the females ignore the very existence of the males.

On Sabbath we had an exciting adventure! First we took off on a hay ride. Ronan wasn't too sure about a hay ride on Friday, but by Saturday, he was ready to go. This is MarMai, DarDai and Ronan on a god ole' trailer hay ride.

After we got off the trailer, Janetta was quick to note that the pony was out and ready to give some pony rides. As Netta is a horse lover, it didn't take long for her to become interested in the idea of getting her kids up on Baby (that's the pony's name). Ronan quickly protested, proclaiming that he was afraid of the horse, so his little sister, Aurora, was the first to sit on Baby.

Ronan still wasn't sure about the pony, even after seeing how much his sister loved sitting on the stout animal. Janetta confidently picked him up and plopped him on the horse before Ronan really knew what was going on. A little unsure, he gave a smile, and after the pony started to move, a huge grin lit up his face.

As the pony ride came to an end, Ronan decided he didn't want to get off. He wanted to ride the pony all the way "home" to the inn. That's just what he got to do! Like a joyful little cowboy, Ronan got front door service with the fun pony, Baby.

You know, I wonder how much God tries to give us good things, and we either completely ignore Him, or are too afraid to accept His wonderful blessings. I've been thinking about that a lot this weekend as I have watched Ronan and the Peahens. No matter how hard the Peacocks try to get the attention of the lady peahens, they simply ignore the males in their cage. How often does God try to get my attention and I cruelly turn the other way, or even pretend I don't notice Him.

And, just like Ronan, how often am I so afraid to try new things and accept the challenges that God lays before when a magnificent reward awaits my obedience. Ronan's rewards for overcoming his fears were a pony ride and a hay ride. How much more wonderful things is God ready to give me if I will simply acknowledge His presence and follow His leading, even when it is a bit scary?

Monday, June 04, 2007

Vacation at Little River Farms pt. 1 Little Emma

On Thursday, May 31 only about an hour behind schedule, the Byrd van set out from Lonny and Netta's house. We were headed out on a great adventure. As we began to travel on the windy roads, our trip began with a wise word of advice from Ronan, my three year old nephew. "MarMai," he said to my mother-in-law who was driving, "don't forget to stay on the road." Thus began our exciting journey. A little less than an hour later we drove up to a wonderland of peacocks, goats, donkeys, chickens, a pond, a river, a playground and so much more.

As all six of us piled out of the van, we were happily pleased to see the accommodations for the week far exceeded our expectations. After unpacking, no one had to ask where we were headed next. We were going down to see the animals.

The first animal to greet us was almost literally right outside our front door. It was a shy llama.

It didn't take long for us to discover that there were actually three llamas. All of them are quite curious and come up to the fence every time we pass by. However they are not too sure about us touching them. They are a bit shy.

As we trekked down the dusty trail we soon spotted the goat pin to our left. I was thrilled to discover this fun little critters. I would love to have a goat farm, and I think now that Arlen has seen the fun animals, he may agree.

This is me with Emma. Emma is the sweetest goat of them all, and I quickly fell in love with her. As we stepped inside the goat pin she looked up at us and quickly came running over. That's just how Emma is. Every time we visit her, she comes trotting right over as soon as she sees us. This little goat loves attention, especially if it includes a good neck scratching. Not only is Emma a sweetie, she is quite curious. When Arlen was taking pictures, she saw the flash on the camera, and immediately she was there, trying to figure out what that flashy thing was. She even climbed Arlen in a effort to figure out her discovery.

The thing about Emma is that although she is a sweet heart, she is very jealous. She wants all the attention, and doesn't want to share with anyone around. These are a couple of goats that very much wanted our attention, but were afraid of Emma. (She has a tendency to head butt any of the other goats who get too close to the people giving her attention.) All of the goats are well behaved, but when Emma is around, they are much more cautious to approach humans for attention.

I'm looking at the time, and I'm realizing that I'm going to have to end this blog here pretty soon. I'll continue part two tomorrow. But, rather than ending abruptly, I'd have to say that as usual, God has taught me a lesson through little Emma. She is very sweet, however her jealousy often gets in the way of her enjoying the attention she craves. When people come to the petting zoo Emma typically gets put in the barn, away from all the excitement. Her selfish battles tend to scare the kids and her behavior to the other goats is completely unacceptable. The thing is, if Emma allowed the other goats to come over and get some attention as well, she would end up with a lot more loving pats, scratches, rubs (and even a few more treats).

I can't help but realize how much I take after this little goat. I often am so afraid of loosing the gifts that God has given me that I become protective of them. I don't want to share my time, my stuff, my husband, I want these things all to myself to be used how I think they should be used. I wonder how many times God has to give me a "time out" because of my selfishness. God has created us to share all the blessings that He has given us. Only by doing this will our blessings continue to grow and our joy increase. I pray that God will help me learn to share...ALL of the blessings He has given me!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

The Crazies...

Yup, I've got those. I don't want to do anything but I have so much to do! (Does this sound familiar?) Well, if you're wondering why this sudden burst of craziness hit, I will tell you. (If you're not wondering, you can stop reading now, and I promise I won't hold it against you.)

Here's the deal. This summer I already had the following items on my list:

1) Work (wherever I can, as much as I can - right now Thatcher and Thatcher South)
2) Keep up with the house (this includes deep cleaning, gardening, and lots of fun from-scratch cooking)
3) Joshua's House (I'm starting a non-profit, it takes a lot of time, okay)

As you can see, my summer was already going to be pretty busy. But now, there's more. My husband and I have been spending a lot of time praying about finances and what God has in store for us, what His will is. While we have no clue what the next little while holds in general, it is clear that my husband's company just doesn't have enough workers. So guess what - I'm going to be doing a lot of organizing and the like for Aspen Web Design.

I know it's crazy. I'm not quite sure how 3rd summer secession will work. Aspen, on top of my other two jobs, not counting anything for Joshua's House, will put me at at least 55 hours of work a week!! AHHHH. But God will help me.

That's what I'm learning today. He has a plan and as long as I turn to Him and allow Him to be my guide I can know that it will all be okay. The hard part for me is the letting go part. I like to sit down and make schedules and figure everything out and KNOW how I'm going to fit every little detail in. However, I know I must resist the urge.

Pretty much, this is what God is trying to say to me:
"Trust in the Lord with all your heat and do not lean on your own understanding. IN all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fer the Lord and turn away form evil." ~Proverbs 3:5-7

So, I'm a little overwhelmed, but I know that God WILL help me. I just have to be willing to let Him choose my priorities. :D

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

My Quest for Health

Okay, so here is the deal. A while back my doctor told me I have to lose weight (for those of you wondering, I'm not overweight). The reasons are long, boaring and complicated, and I won't get into them now. Anyway, I don't just want to loose weight, I want to be healthy - really healthy. I want to learn how to take care of my body, and how to teach people to take care of theirs. Here are some problems I've been running in to:

1) Most diet programs focus on just weight loss and tend to leave out the total health issue.

2) It's almost impossible to find a diet program for a vegan who does not buy pre-packaged foods.

3) Contradictions. It seems that for everything that's said there are 10 completely different things stated on the same topic. (ex. Carbs are bad, Carbs are good)

4) There is no simple way to understand proper nutrition. How much is a serving? What does 1200 calories look like? And what in the world do you categorize foods as? Some places say beans are carbs, other say they are protein!!

5) What constitutes a good exercise program? How must strength training, cardo? When I'm on cardion workouts does my goal need to be to keep my heart rate up, or to push myself as hard as I can? What exercise routine is really healthy?

6) What are exercising options? People say it needs to be fun, but I just haven't hit on that yet.

7) What is a balanced diet? I mean what vitamins and minerals need to be included, how many of them, where can I get them?

8) What constitutes a good multivitamin? What supplements should I be taking?

Okay, I could go on, but I think You get my point. I've looked in books and books, and it seems that there are so many contradictions, and people make such broad generalizations that I can't seem to find anything that's actually helpful! RAHH! Oh, and all these things are so expensive! I do not have a lot of money to spend on memberships or special foods. I just want to have a natural healthy lifestyle. I know that one of the things that most books talk about is having a low level of stress. Does this industry realize the stress that all of their incongruences and overabundance of only partially useful information causes?

So, this is my current struggle. I don't really know what to do, or where to go, or how to begin this health journey. I do know one thing. I don't drink near enough water. I know that water effects our skin, our appetite, and our overall health in so many ways. For that reason, my first step on this quest for health is going to be to drink 80 ounces of water a day (that's four times of filling up my water bottle). But I can't go from drinking hardly any water to drinking 80 oz just like that, so my beginning goal: Drink at least 40oz of water a day. If I can keep that going, next week I'll increase it to the full 80 oz.

Let's see how all this goes!

The Mad Dash to...Forgiveness

Last night I was worked until close to 1am. I was crazy tired when I got home. As I cuddled up to my husband, he told me he would let me sleep in in the morning. By that I thought he meant somewhere in the neighborhood of 7am (seeing that's late for a morning that I have to work). To my surprise, I woke up at 8:21! I jumped out of my bed and scrambled to the bathroom to get ready. "Arlen," I shouted, "I was supposed to be at work 20 minutes ago!" All of a sudden it was a mad dash to get me ready for work. As Arlen patiently gathered the items I called out, "I need my work shirt, and khakis, and an undershirt, and some socks...Ahhhh! I can't find my ID card," together, we got me out the door, and I arrived at work at 8:31!

Needless to say, when I arrived at work, I was very sleepy and a bit bemuddled, but as I sat and spent time talking to Jesus, I realized something. It is so clear that He has been working in my life. My typical response to being so late to work would be first to snap at Arlen for not getting me up earlier, then to beat up on myself for all of the ways that I could have possibly slipped up to make such a thing happen. I would have droned on and on about how irresponsible I am and would have let it ruin my day. Yet, Jesus calmed me.

Yes, being late to work would mean that I would miss that pay for the day. Being late might mean that I would get in trouble at work. Being late meant that I didn't get a shower before coming to work and that breakfast would be late. I would have some consequences. However, that's not where it ended. I was already late when I woke up, I could not change that, so I decided I would do my best to get to work as fast as I could - and I did. Arlen had not made a mistake, there was simply a misunderstanding, so why blame Him? When it all comes down to it, this is what I really discovered. I cannot continually beat myself up for every mistake I make. I must take responsibility for my slip ups, and accept whatever consequences go along with them, but then I must learn from them and move on.

Then, suddenly I was hit with a better understanding of God's love and forgiveness. When we sin, there are consequences, there is no way around that. However, rather than beating ourselves up and gloating, we can learn from those mistakes, allow them to help us grow, and move on. Christ has covered our sins and has fully forgiven us. He wants us to live like His forgive children.

I can't help but wonder if this is what Jesus was talking about in Matthew 11:28-30 when He said,
"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."

This is me at work - Thrown together, but forgiven!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Being Rich

Even though I am poor when it comes to money and other worldly measures, I am really quite rich. I am rich in love, and in happiness. God has poured His blessings out on me and my husband. Not to mention that but our Father has all the resources in the whole world, AND, he has given us eternal life. Rich...yeah, I'm rich. :)

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Only Slightly Bored

I haven't posted today, so I thought I would. I really have absolutly nothing in mind as far as what I'm writing, so we'll see what happens. I'm working as a D.A. in the dorm today. It's really a good job and it pays really well, but there are rather dull moments in which there is nothing to do...at all. I am currently faced with one of those moments. Arlen will be here soon to pick me up for a lunch break, and that will be nice. But, in the mean time I am going to fill up this space with a bunch of randomness.

There have been a few things today that I have not been particularly eager to do. However, there is nothing that bad, and I have absolutly no room to complain. I am trying to remember 1 Peter 4:10-11, and am praying that God will give me a cheerful working spirit.
"As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God; whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever, Amen."

So that's pretty much it. There is not a whole lot else going on. Thanks for reading this ramble if you've made it all the way to the end. If you haven't however (and I guess at this point I'm talking to myself), that's okay - I totally understand.

Well I hope you have a wonderful day! Remember to stay connected to the Source!!

Friday, May 11, 2007

Learning about...life

So, I know I posted about how discouraged and unmotivated I was earlier today. However, God helped me to rummage up enough motivation to get a few things done. No, my day didn't end up being fantastic, but it wasn't bad either. The neat thing is that throughout the day I was filled with joy because God helped me to remember Colossians 3:23, "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men." And that's just what I did.

So, here are some pictures from what I did on my ordinary day that Jesus made extraordinary!


Yeah, I'm pretty much discouraged and unmotivated, and I'm not really sure why. I mean there are tons of reasons I could be discouraged I guess. I don't want to list them though, cause that will just make it worse. I have no motivation. There are about 5 things I could/should be doing right now, and I don't want to do any of them. The problem is that there is nothing in particular I would rather do. I just really don't want to do anything. Grrr - this is such a frustrating mood to be in. I need motivation, I need to be cheered up, I need to turn to Jesus, I need...I don't even know what I need. Anyway, it was good to get this off my chest. Thanks for letting me ramble.

But, things are going to change right...now. I'm going to go take my shower, get dressed and clean up this office before work at noon. Hold me to that. On my mark...get set...GO!

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Sad News

Okay, so Arlen and I have to move in December. That's when I'm graduating, and we have to move out of student housing. Well, we found a house that we really wanted. It was perfect for us. We just found out today that it is sold!!!! We are so bummed because the location was perfect, and there was land, and all sorts of things.

I know that God has a plan for us (although sometimes I wish He wasn't so secretive). I have decided however, to wait a few more months before I get into the house hunting again. I am pretty familiar with the market around here. It will be different by December too, and I don't want to become to attached to another house that gets sold. Besides Jesus tells us not to worry about tomorrow (Mathew 6:34). James also reminds us of the dangers of getting caught up in plans of tomorrow. We must focus on Christ and His plans for our lives rather than be caught up in the things we will do here on earth (James 4:13-17).

So yes, I am quite sad that the house we wanted didn't work out, but I know that God has a plan in mind for us. All of the things we thought were perfect about that house may not fit in with the plans He has for us. So I look forward with hope to see what He has in store.

Thursday, April 05, 2007


Just so that you're aware, this blog is going to be a little different than my other blogs. I don't have some deep message to share, or even anything from the Bible. I just thought I would share a little something I'm thinking about.

It's good to have dreams and aspirations, right? Well, I have a dream. It's rather small, but - it's important to me. Let me start out by giving you a little bit of background. I spend all week working on homework and slaving away over text books. Well, it turns out that all of my classes this semester utilize my left-brainness while completely neglecting the other 50% of grey matter. (Yes, I am split right down the middle, I use both my left and right brain equally). What effect does this tid bit of information have on my life? Just this. After a few weeks of running lefty to the max, he gets tired and decides he's overworked and can't do any more. While this is happening Righty begins screaming at the top of his lungs begging for a chance to stretch his aching legs (imagine a 12hr car ride in a tiny back seat). This results in me avoiding my homework because lefty is so plumb tuckered out and can't take any more, yet without allowing righty the chance to move around because all of his work takes to long. If I've lost you at this point I'm dreadfully sorry.

The point I am trying to make is that I want a garden!! This would give me a chance to stretch my creative right brain while giving my left brain a chance to relax. Not only that, but I would then have beautiful flowers to look at and maybe even some tasty veggies to eat! Horray!

There is one cog in my plan - time. So, what is the point of this blog? I'm not really sure. But, I guess I'm done, so I'll stop rambling on now.

Thanks for sticking it out with me. I hope you have a wonderful evening. God bless you!

Monday, April 02, 2007

Scary Stuff

So I have been asked to lead out in a "support group" - I guess that's the best name for it. But to be honest, I'm terrified. I have spent a lot of time wrestling with God. It is clear that this is something He wants me to get involved with, yet I am so under qualified.

Last night I was talking to my husband about this and sharing my apprehensions. What do I do about this, and how to I respond about that, and what if the right thing to say makes someone mad at me, and what if I'm not sensitive enough, and what if I'm too afraid to say what really needs to be said, and... The list went on. I was realizing how much I'm lacking in the wisdom department. But Arlen kept reminding me, "Laura, God will give you the words to say. His Holy Spirit will be with you and He will anoint your lips. All you have to do is ask." Then, it struck me like a tree branch that you don't see until it's left a permanent indention on your forehead, my faith is so weak. As I came across this realization, I became a little more afraid, yet somehow slightly reassured (don't ask, I don't understand it either).

Then Arlen shared this with me:

When they came to the other disciples, they saw a large crowd around them and the teachers of the law arguing with them. As soon as all the people saw Jesus, they were overwhelmed with wonder and ran to greet him.

What are you arguing with them about?" he asked.

A man in the crowd answered, "Teacher, I brought you my son, who is possessed by a spirit that has robbed him of speech. Whenever it seizes him, it throws him to the ground. He foams at the mouth, gnashes his teeth and becomes rigid. I asked your disciples to drive out the spirit, but they could not."

"O unbelieving generation," Jesus replied, "how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy to me."

So they brought him. When the spirit saw Jesus, it immediately threw the boy into a convulsion. He fell to the ground and rolled around, foaming at the mouth.

Jesus asked the boy's father, "How long has he been like this?"

"From childhood," he answered. "It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us."

" 'If you can'?" said Jesus. "Everything is possible for him who believes."

Immediately the boy's father exclaimed, "I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!"

When Jesus saw that a crowd was running to the scene, he rebuked the evil spirit. "You deaf and mute spirit," he said, "I command you, come out of him and never enter him again."

The spirit shrieked, convulsed him violently and came out. The boy looked so much like a corpse that many said, "He's dead." But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him to his feet, and he stood up.

After Jesus had gone indoors, his disciples asked him privately, "Why couldn't we drive it out?"

He replied, "This kind can come out only by prayer."

~Mark 9:14-29 (emphasis mine)

God will meet us where we are at. When our faith is weak, all we need to do is ask Him, and He will help us to trust and believe.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

What Will You Lay Down?

an image or other material object representing a deity to which religious worship is addressed.
2. any person or thing regarded with blind admiration, adoration, or devotion

Idol is a word that has been thrown around a lot over the past few years. In secular circles American Idol is the new big thing, while for centuries, Christians have been asked to lay down their idols. There are certainly a few common idols that we quickly call to mind like materialism, prestige and reputation, but what about digging a little deeper.

The second definition above says that an idol is a "person or thing regarded with blind admiration, adoration, or devotion." An idol is anything that we place our hope and trust in other than God. So, I guess an idol could also be classified as anything that prohibits us from total devotion to God by placing that devotion elsewhere. Hmm...that's something to think about. What are some idols you struggle with? Here are a few of the ones that seem to get me (maybe you can relate to a few of them):

1. emotions
2. grades
3. reputation
4. the clock (my schedule)
5. achieving
6. stuff/covetous (ie. a house, better clothes, a garden...)
7. selfishness (my own desires)
8. My dreams and plans (sometimes I seek these above God's will)
9. comfort
10. laziness (lack of discipline and drive)

So, why is it some important to understand what our idols are? As I've been reading Isaiah, I've noticed that only when the people turn away from their idols, when they lay them down so that they can fully embrace God, it is at that point that the Lord can come to them and truly rescue them. This is because God can only truly lead us, guide us and pour out His best on us if we can receive them in full. We must not allow anything to get in the way of living out His amazing law that He has set in place to bring us true joy in peace.

Ask God to show you the idols in your life. What are they? Hebrews 3 says this:

12See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. 13But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness.
So let us now encourage one another. If you would like to share the idol that God has placed on your heart to give up today, reply to this blog, and we can all lift each other up in prayer!

Today I will strive to lay down my idol of emotions.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

I Didn't Get the Job!

I still remember my junior year of high school. I was finally old enough to work at camp. This is a job I had longed to have since my first visit to Cohutta Springs Camp. I couldn't wait. I filled out my application, and met with the director. I was sure I would get the job. My references were wonderful, I had a lot of confidence, my interview went well...and...I knew the brother of the person who was doing the hiring and he said he would put in a good word for me. With that type of recommendation I was sure I had the job. As my friends and I all got our letters from Cohutta, telling us our fate for the summer, I was excited as all my friends eagerly opened their envelopes to find that they were going to be working at camp. Then, I got my letter. I opened it, never wondering what would be inside. I was sure I would be spending the summer with my friends and all sorts of fun kids. I slowly slid my finger under the envelope seal. I pulled out the piece of paper it contained and began to read the words. I was on a "waiting" list. It was a nice way of saying I didn't get the job!!

"What?" I thought. "How could this be?" I knew the right people - I had a really good connection, I had great credentials (I had been working in the business office at the school for goodness sake), I wanted to work there way more than some of my friends I had to convince to apply so we could be together for the summer and they got in. What happened??

As you can imagine, this was a low point in my life. It seemed I had so much to put my hope and trust in. The problem was, I put it all in the wrong stuff. Isaiah 31 tells us of a people who trusted in the strength of horses, chariots and horesemen in Egypt. They poured their faith into these feeble, earthly strongholds rather than looking to and seeking the ultimate strength, their Heavenly Father. This is exactly what I did. As I recall, I don't even think I spent much time talking to God about what He wanted me to do that summer. But that wasn't the only time I placed my trust in things of this earth. It seems I have often placed my trust in reputation, a job, people I know, my own knowledge, or any number of things. However, I think David truly had it right when he wrote:
"Now I know that the LORD saves His anointed;
He will answer him from His holy heaven
With the saving strength of His right hand.
Some boast in chariots and some in horses,
But we will boast in the name of the LORD, our God."
~Psalm 20:6-7

May this be our prayer today - that we may boast and trust in our Lord!

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Am I a Rebellious Child?

If you know me at least somewhat decently, you're probably laughing at even the idea of me asking this question. "Laura...rebellious?" your probably thinking, "That's the funniest thing I've ever heard." So maybe I don't run around living a shockingly wild life, coming to my family only for more money so that I can get a new tattoo, just one more piercing, more cigarettes, drugs, boos, etc. Nope, You won't find me with any of the above.

However, this morning I came to discover that I am quite rebellious. Isaiah 30 talks about God's rebellious children. Here are the characteristics (see if any are familiar)
1) They execute, but not God's plan
2) They make alliances and are nice to people, but not of God's spirit
3) They move forward with plans and their lives, but without consulting God
4) They take refuge and shelter in things other than God.
5) The would rather hear pleasant lies than the truth (v9)

I don't know if any of those ring a bell with you, but they sure do with me. I continually move forward in my life without even seeking God's will. I do things out of wrong motives and I look to things of this world for shelter, comfort and safety.

In verse 15, God tells us that salvation lies in repentance and resting in the Lord; and that true strength comes from quietness and trusting in Him. Stick with me for a minute as this point will spring to life in just a moment.

Despite my (our) rebelliousness God is eagerly waiting and paying close attention. He wants us to call out to Him, and He wants to be ready when we do. When we turn back to Him for comfort, safety and salvation, He is eager and ready to show us grace and compassion. We will clearly hear God's voice and direction and when we fully turn to Him, He will pour His blessings out on us.

Then comes his wrath!! Dun dun dun... but have no fear, His wrath is against our enemies. Because of this truth we will rejoice because we can rest in His protection!

Wooo Hooo! I'm so glad that God loves me and that He is eager to forgive even a rebel like me!

Monday, March 26, 2007

His Blessings are the Awesomest

So, as you can tell by the date of my last blog I have been a little busy lately. I just realized that I didn't even have a chance to post anything over spring break - wow. Well, just to catch you up a little bit. I'm still going to school. Things with Joshua's House (the ministry I'm starting) are moving forward. I have been blessed with the opportunity to work in the Junior department at Sabbath school. This is a big time commitment for me, but has been a wonderful blessing. Each week I see new signs that the kids are moving toward making a decision for Christ, and that thrills me! I've been working - still tutoring, and am possibly going to be facilitating a women's support group pretty soon. As you can see, I have been quite busy. I have to admit that amongst all this business I get so overwhelmed. I tend to become discouraged and bogged down with all that has to be done. Sometimes I even feel trapped my my enormous to-do lists, and I wonder if it will ever be over. But you know what? God has been blessing.

That's one thing that I have been noticing more and more lately. God blesses me so much. At the beginning of this school year, I prayed that God would help me to see the wonderful blessings that He gives us through nature. I asked for this request specifically because I knew that there was so much I was missing. And sure enough, I was right. God has been opening my eyes. I love being outside more now. I get so excited when I see pretty flowers blooming when before I would have just walked right by.

God often blesses us in so many ways and we just don't get it. I know for me, it's easy to get caught up in all the things that seem to be going wrong in my life. It's easy to turn mole hills into mountains. It's easy to forget to trust the One who holds the world in His hands. Yet what Jesus said in Matthew 7 is so true (as if I should be surprised). He said,
" Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!"

It is so true, yet how often do I live like it's true? How often do I thank God for the wonders He is working all around me? How often to they go completely unnoticed? I pray that I may continually become more and more aware of God's working in my life. I also pray that my faith can grow. God will keep His promise, and He has promised to care for me always.

But wait, before I wrap up the fun little (OK big) post there's one more thing I have to add. The quote from above is not complete. The last thing that Jesus says after all of that is this:
"So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets."
God blesses us so much! How can we best thank Him for those blessings? By sharing them with others around us. By sharing where these blessings came from. By sharing God's love and gifts with those around us. I pray that God can turn my selfish heart into one of thankfulness and giving.