Monday, December 22, 2014

Merry Christmas, Y'all!

I wanted to do something special for my friends this year.

I also wanted to say "Merry Christmas" in unique way here on the blog.

So I combined the efforts.

With the help of my amazing Techno-Savvy Geek of a KISA, I recorded a few songs for y'all!!

Now be aware... this was by no means a "professional" job in any way.  I used a Mac, my iPhone and a blue tooth speaker!  So sound quality isn't the greatest, but it is what it is,  and I do hope you'll enjoy.

The first song is dedicated to all the peeps mentioned in THIS POST.  My Heroes.. Mom, Dad, Phillip, Betsy, Karen, Teressa, Daniel, Cookie and Chris... and to add a few more, Natalie, Rhett, Brandie, JoAnna, Chasity, Jennifer and Mickey.  You are all so very special to me and each has qualities that I admire... I love you all to the moon and back again!!



The next song is dedicated to My Cornerstone Family, Journey Group, and Gym Sisters.  You have all been such a blessing to me over the past couple of years.  Thank you for investing in me, shepherding me, and walking along side me on my journey.  I love serving Jesus with each and every one of you!!


And last but not least, this one goes out to all my Facebook Peeps and Blog Readers...  Mine is not an easy life to keep up with, but one thing I always try to be is REAL! Thank you all for "following" my insanity... You're the best!!



MERRY CHRISTMAS Y'ALL!!!!

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Saturday, December 20, 2014

What's In A Name? (Prince of Peace)

For my last several posts, I have been focusing on the following verse, and each name given to Our Savior within.



For to us a child is born,

to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.  

 Isaiah 9:6
Today I am thankful for my Prince of Peace

The Hebrew term for this passage is translated Sar Shalom

Now, a prince, like a king, is an authority figure.  We are supposed to submit to the power of one such as this.  Much like Paul calls wives to "submit" to their husbands in Ephesians 6.  Now, don't hang me, here.  This doesn't mean that we women are to lay down in the floor and let our men trample all over us, or misuse or abuse us in any way.  Authority is never meant to harm. The biblical meaning for this kind of authority is to cover or protect.  So submitting means that we actually come under the covering our protection of our man.  Or in this case our Prince of Peace who is ultimately the King of Kings.

I am thankful that as long as I am under the authority and covering of my Sar Shalom, that I experience His peace that passes all understanding.  No matter what is going on in my life... what trial I face, or storm I endure, he is there to calm and steady me. He truly is the peace that comforts me when I am anxious and weary

But Jesus came for more than that.  He came to make peace between us, as derelict sinners, and our Perfect Heavenly Father-God who cannot abide sin.  More than circumstantial peace, I am thankful that my Sar Shalom came to be born of a virgin, and took on flesh in this earthly realm so that he could ultimately become my sacrifice, and save me from my sins, bringing me PEACE with the Father in Heaven

What an AWESOME Prince we have!  

Thank you Jesus, for your shelter of peace over my life.  
Help me to live in such a way that I live under the cover of your peace at all times.  

And when I stray, let me seek your peace...
Until I find my way back into your arms.

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P.S.
Don't forget! The reason I chose to reflect on these verses was to prepare my heart for tomorrow's worship service! If you live in the Florence, SC or surrounding area, we'd love for you to join us at The Stone in the morning! (For all my family and friends out of town, check us out LIVE online at 9:30 and 11:00 AM at www.exit137.org)
Love and PEACE to you all!!

Friday, December 19, 2014

What's In A Name? (Everlasting Father)


For to us a child is born, 
       to us a son is given,
       and the government will be on his shoulders.
       And he will be called
       Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
       Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
                                                (Isaiah 9:6)


I am so very grateful for the wonderful gift of my earthly father, who has shown me his love, compassion, care, and presence throughout my life.  (I love you, Daddy!) But the truth of the matter is that everyone is not so blessed to have had such wonderful memories of their earthly fathers.  An even more powerful truth is that when we look at our EVERLASTING FATHER through the lens of our earthly father, we get a dangerously distorted view. 

Growing up, he constantly reminded me of one thing: "I am the only man in your life who will never let you down." A lofty goal to be sure... but even as awesome as my Daddy is... that is not a fail-proof statement.  You see, my Daddy, like all other daddies on earth, is HUMAN.  He is MORTAL. Because of sin,  he is FLAWED. 

But Jesus is PERFECT.  HE IS EVERLASTING.  HE IS THE EVERLASTING FATHER.

I am thankful that my EVERLASTING FATHER is compassionate.

I am thankful that my EVERLASTING FATHER could never love me any more, or any less, than he does right this moment.

I am thankful that my EVERLASTING FATHER does not require me to work for his acceptance, but invites me to rest in his love.

I am thankful that my EVERLASTING FATHER is caring.

I am thankful that my EVERLASTING FATHER loves me, and cares about me...He believes in me, and is FOR me!

I am thankful that my EVERLASTING FATHER is always there.

Past... Present... And Future...

He is I AM.

And He has ALWAYS BEEN.

Right there for me... 

And He ALWAYS WILL BE!!

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Thursday, December 18, 2014

What's In A Name? (Mighty God)

I wanted to prepare my heart for a special Worship Service this Sunday, so yesterday I started reflecting on the names of Jesus from Isaiah 9:6...
For to us a child is born,
       to us a son is given,
       and the government will be on his shoulders.
       And he will be called
       Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
       Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Today, I am SO THANKFUL for MY MIGHTY GOD!!!  



When my babies were small, my brother (AKA: "Uncle Buck") taught my children this song, and he would "help them" do the motions...
My God is SO BIG, SO STRONG AND SO MIGHTY, there's nothing my God cannot do!!
The mountains are His, the rivers are His, the stars are his handiwork, too!!
My God is SO BIG, SO STRONG and SO MIGHTY, there's nothing my God cannot do!!
I am thankful that His creation proclaims His majesty, and POWER!!  Every time I see a spectacular sunset, or the brilliant stars in the deep night sky, I am reminded that my God is MIGHTY!

I am thankful that NOTHING IS TOO HARD FOR MY GOD!!!

I am thankful that MY GOD is OMNISCIENT!! He knows everything, and I can place my faith and trust in HIM!!

I am thankful that MY GOD is OMNIPRESENT!! He's everywhere, and there is nothing that happens that he is not aware of.  He is always watching over me and protecting me!!

I am thankful that MY GOD is OMNIPOTENT!! He is ALL MIGHTY and ALL POWERFUL, and even when I can't "see" that power, I KNOW THAT IT'S THERE!!

I am thankful that Philippians 2:13 says that His power is working IN ME!!

I am thankful that Isaiah 40:29-31 tells me that His power is working FOR ME!!!

I am thankful that Acts 1:8 shows me that His power is available to work THROUGH ME!!!

I am thankful that even when I am weak, and feel like giving up, 1 Corinthians 12:9-10 tells me that your GRACE is sufficient for me, and your POWER is made perfect in my weakness!!

Thank you Jesus, for working in me, for me, and through my ordinary life to do EXTRORDINARY things for YOUR PURPOSE and YOUR GLORY!!  Thank you for loving me, caring for me, and having a plan for my life.  You are MY MIGHTY GOD, and I put my trust in YOU!!

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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

What's In A Name? (Wonderful Counselor)

Shakespeare asked, "What's in a name"??? 


The answer: A LOT!!

I know when I was pregnant with each of my children, I spent hours pouring over Baby Name books.  I wanted to choose names with character; classic, but beautiful names that have stood the test of time. 

Was it any different for God?

Isaiah 9:6 says...
For to us a child is born,
       to us a son is given,
       and the government will be on his shoulders.
       And he will be called
       Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
       Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 

For the next few days, I thought I would focus on these names as I prepare my heart to worship in a

special service this Sunday called "The Ultimate Gift".

(By the way, if you don't have a church home, I'd love to invite you to Cornerstone THIS SUNDAY DEC 21!! If you do have a home church and would like to just come and visit to hear some awesome Christmastime Worship, you are welcome as well!!  -- We're even online at these times, too! Visit www.exit137.org  for more info. )  





So today let's take a look at the name "Wonderful Counselor"...


Wonderful Counselor in the Hebrew is translated pele' ya'ats.  Pele'means "beyond understanding; too wonderful for words".  Ya'atsmeans "to advise; to consult; to guide". 



According to Hebrews 4:15-16,  Jesus can counsel us because HE HAS BEEN WHERE WE ARE!!  Because of that fact, I can boldly approach him and get the help I need when I need it. (...Can I get an AMEN?!?!)
Luke 5:31-32 tells us that Jesus came for the sick.  We are not supposed to have it all together.  We never will.  We are flawed human beings as a result of the fall.  Our only hope is found in Jesus.  But we are not without responsibility.  First, we have to admit we are sick, and seek help.  Then, just like with any counselor, there are rules we must follow in order to get the most Jesus has to offer:
  1. Be brutally honest with your Counselor. Just like the Woman at the Well, we cannot hide anything from Jesus, if we truly want him to heal us.  "Because of her honesty, Jesus was able to reveal who He is, and who He should be in her life" (Craig Groeschel).
  2. Learn to LISTEN to the Counselor's voice.  In Mark 9:7, Peter, James, and John audibly heard the voice of God.  John 10:27 reminds us that His sheep listen to His voice.  How does He speak?  Through His Word, through a sermon, through a song, and through our circumstances.  We should recognize His voice as easily as a child recognizes his father's voice.
  3. Do what the Counselor tells you to do. Even if it doesn't make sense.  The Bible in says that the Rich Young Man in Mark 10, went away sad because he refused to listen to Jesus' instruction.  This is particularly troublesome because he, in fact, was the one who came to Jesus with a question, but then did not have the guts to follow through.  He was sick. Sick with the disease of materialism.  Jesus knew this, and loved him anyway!  But then he told the young man something he did not want to hear.  Aren't we just like that?  We are all about seeking help and finding answers until someone tells us something we don't want to hear. (Even if it IS the truth!) 
Jesus, I praise you!! 

Thank you for being my WONDERFUL COUNSELOR!! 

I love that You can guide me because You have been where I am.  Thank you that because You understand me like no one else, I can approach Your throne of grace with confidence that You will hear me...help me...heal me!  Teach me how to listen to Your voice, Sweet Savior...help me to recognize it like none other.  And give me the strength and courage to do what You say.  

Amen.

(Disclaimer: Much of this reflection was based on a sermon I heard years ago by Pastor Craig Groeschel.)

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Monday, December 15, 2014

Gator Huntin' Fool!

I guess since it's almost Christmas, I should get around to writing about my birthday, huh? :-)

September 22, 2014.

BEST. BIRTHDAY. EVER.  

Seriously... I made memories people.  

Not only did I make memories, but I checked off item numero uno on my Bucket List.  

Yep.  That's right!! I went alligator hunting!! Or as we folks down south like to call it, "Gator Huntin". 

It was a beautiful day for it, too... as you can see here.


I have to send a "shout out" of thanks to my friends Mike and Eddie.  What great guys!! 

I mean, really... how many dudes do YOU know that would take a CHICK with them... a sissified, prissy chick like me, no less... out hunting for an alligator?!?!?  Well these two did, and I am eternally grateful!!  

This is a picture of the landing where we "set sail" for our adventure.


See, we'd been talking about this for a couple of years.  

In South Carolina you have to enter a lottery. In June you pay a ten dollar entry fee to have your name placed in a drawing.  And you better bet your sweet bippy that this gal has entered that drawing a time or two!! 

But this year Mike entered the drawing and his name was selected!! At that point, you pay $100 for the tag.  (We are only allowed ONE TAG per hunter in SC.)  

Then, during gator season, you get to go hunting...


Now, it's not like in those shows where you get to bait lines and go back and check and see if you caught one.. No sir.  You have a pole, and a hook... and your eyes.  

That's it.  

You are literally HUNTING for them. 

The cool thing is we had three pairs of eyes in our boat, so we could spot those gator eyes pretty quickly. That wasn't the problem.

The problem is hooking those boogers!! They will go down to the bottom in a heartbeat, and then you're just stuck waiting... Sometimes they'd resurface and we'd try again.  Sometimes they wouldn't and we'd move on.

This is a little baby one that we caught way early in the day.  We decided he wasn't worth the 100 bucks the tag costed, so we let him go.  But he sure gave us an exciting "practice round"!! 


We rode through many a slough, some so narrow that you could reach out and touch brush on either side of the boat.  Here I was thinking... "What if a gator decides to catch us and slides right on in??" Luckily we didn't have to worry about that. ;-)

Below you can see an example of a gator slide.



We rode around all. day. long.  Looking for gators.  We found many.  And tried like the devil to hook those suckers.  But to no avail.  We lost two of our three hooks in the process.  The sun was getting low in the sky, and we decided to turn back and call it a day.  

Just then, we saw him. 

It was as if he was taunting us.  

"Come on.  Come and get me.  Let's see what y'all have got."  

Ever so slowly he swam across the channel.  Mike took aim.  Again.  And again.  Finally!! 

WE HOOKED HIM!!!! 

Of course he went straight down to the bottom.  We maneuvered the boat closer to his position and waited.  Mike kept reeling the line.  Mr. Gator wasn't budging.  Then suddenly he began to rise.

When he surfaced we could see that he was about 8-9 feet long.  (We were hoping for at least 10 but at this point we were THRILLED!!)  Now came the hard part.  Mike had to wrestle him close enough to the boat so Eddie could harpoon him. Once that was accomplished, we could get out the "Bang Bang Stick" and shoot him in his quarter-sized kill spot at the base of his head.

I was frantically making room in the boat for our catch.  Moving coolers and trash from our snacks out of the way.  Eddie came to the side of the boat and took a stab.  He missed!  The gator took off and went to rolling.   

And he rolled.  

And Mike fought.  

Trying desperately to win control so we could get another shot.  

Another boat had come up and was watching.  We were all so excited and had "all hands on deck" so no one was taking pics or getting any video.  The guys in the other boat had their phones out... recording. (Said they were all set to send it in to ESPN!)

Well, I'm sorry to say... Mr. Eight-To-Nine broke our line.  

Yep. That was our last hook.

Yep. That was the end of our day.

Even though we weren't able to catch our gator that day, it was still one of the best days and most wonderful adventures of my life.  We saw beautiful landscapes and tons of wildlife.  

I even saw something I have never seen before... a Bald Eagle take flight.  

It took my breath away.

I will never forget it.  Never ever.

Maybe someday I will win my very own Gator Tag... 

and then Mike and Eddie just might take me out again...

For one more try. 



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Friday, December 12, 2014

Heroes

I know a man that lost it all.  With three small kids and a wife to provide for. Wasn't his fault. But bad decisions were made. And they came and took everything. But this guy? He didn't stay down. He pressed on and pushed through. He found a way to provide for his family, sent all four of his kids to college with no loans or scholarships. When he retired last year, he did so very comfortably. Easily one of the most successful businessmen around.  He's my hero.

I know a woman that stood by this man. Through thick and thin. She loved him and encouraged him. She prayed for him. She raised his children in a loving, laughter-filled home, in spite of any outside circumstances. She has an astounding faith. Nothing dissuades her.  She is my hero.

I know a guy that didn't have a lot growing up.  In many ways he was abandoned and left to his own devices, at a fairly young age, mind you.  He could have ended up on the streets.  In drugs or gangs or even worse. But he didn't.  He pulled is own self up by his bootstraps.  Put himself through school. Became a law-enforcement officer that cleans up the streets.  He is a loving husband and father.  He is my hero.

I know a girl that took on this guy.  She didn't have to.  She had other options.  But she chose him. Chose to love him and honor him and cherish him, above anyone else.  Despite his gruff exterior, she is his peace.  In many ways she saved his life. She is kind, and funny, and beautiful. She is my hero.

I know a guy who thought he'd never find love.  Felt that he was destined to live life alone, without a partner, without a wife.  He could have been very harsh and abrasive.  He could have been depressing to be around.  But he wasn't. He stayed happy and joyful. He loved and served others. And then one day... that girl came along. This girl needed him. She'd been through a lot.  She needed to see what unconditional love looks like. And she did. And does. This guy will marry this girl in May.  He is my hero.

I know a girl who went through something too gruesome to mention, at too early an age. In fact, I know three of these girls. They all rose above. Chose not to be victims. One is willful and determined as the day is long, but has the biggest heart, and is one of the best school teachers I know. Another, by her own rights, is a successful businesswoman who seems to have a Midas touch in every endeavor she takes on. The last is a mother, Bible Teacher, and amazing friend.  They are all beautiful, strong, Steel Magnolias.  They are my heroes.

I know a guy that loves a girl much like the ones I described in the previous passage. This girl came with  a LOT of baggage. And he knew it all from the start.  But he chose her anyway.  He got down on his knee at the water's edge, and asked her to share his life and his name. He took on all of her baggage just as if it were his own.  He loves her like no other, and never waivers or falters in that love. Never. Ever.  Just as he rode up on his white horse and rescued her 20 years ago, he still rescues her today. He is the most amazing and beautiful man I know.  He is my hero.


The thing about a hero, is even when it doesn't look like there's a light at the end of the tunnel, he's going to keep digging, he's going to keep trying to do right and make up for what's gone before, just because that's who he is.
~ Joss Whedon

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