Saturday, September 29, 2012


What is it you hope the following generations don't forget?  I've watched the conflict that has arisen in our churches over "worship" (meaning which songs we sing) and the way we dress at church.  I finally had an older man explain to me that he was afraid the next generations were going to forget the songs that his generation loves and not come to church and give their best to God (meaning the way they dress).  I totally understand what he's saying.  I honestly believe it comes down to respect. I want to respect the generations who have preceded me.  Hymns aren't necessarily my favorite songs with which to praise God--but I respect the generations who love it.  I honor that the words in those songs are passing down truth about God from one generation to another.  I don't love wearing dresses, nylon stockings, and heels to church, but I totally respect how important it is to the older generation.  They feel like they're offering their best to God by dressing that way.  I honor it...even though I may not pattern myself after it.

What do I treasure that I hope the following generations will embrace?  Truth.  There's almost a panic in my heart as I watch the younger generations.  Believing that there is a right and a wrong is dying.  Believing that God's Word is the standard is becoming obsolete.  If I could make sure the next generations cling to one thing, it would be...


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

My dad is still speaking...

"[Prompted, actuated] by faith Abel brought God a better and more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, because of which it was testified of him that he was righteous [that he was upright and in right standing with God], and God bore witness by accepting and acknowledging his gifts. And though he died, yet [through the incident] he is still speaking."  Hebrews 11:4 (Amplified  Emphasis mine)

I was reading this the other day and the last line hit me between the eyes!  I had to ask myself how those who've gone to heaven before us in our lifetime are still speaking to us today.  My logical place to start was with my dad.  Dad died 9 years ago.  What lessons did he leave behind that are still speaking to us today?  

My dad was a very unassuming man.  He was a mailman.  Not a postal worker...a mailman.  My dad loved people and he loved to laugh!  He was a practical joker--and was still at it after he'd had a stroke 6 months before he died.  Mom had hidden the car keys to keep dad from driving (trust me--he had no business driving!).  He continually found her new hiding spot and would go to the garage and start the car.  Later, he told us kids it was "to see your mom come running"--as he laughed.

If I had to choose 2 key lessons my dad taught me, the first one would be to forgive.  I had a teacher who embarrassed me in front of my entire class in 9th grade.  My dad's first response after learning what had happened was to tell me to greet that teacher the next morning with a cheerful "Hi, Mr.____!  How are you?"  My dad didn't elaborate, but I learned by doing this that I couldn't greet my teacher that way without first forgiving him.  My dad never sat me down and "taught" me anything.  He never expounded on anything with me.  Everything he taught was by example or from a conversation after I told him what was going on.

Another came about 10 years later, after I was married.  I was supposed to meet my parents for the evening, but conflict with extended family prevented me from coming.  When I called them (crying my heart out), my dad answered the phone and when I told him what was going on, he told me, "You're right where you need to be.   It's where we'd want you to be, if we could choose.  We'll see you soon...I promise."  From that experience, my dad freed me to do what I needed to do and to be where I needed to be.  He wasn't possessive of our relationship and was, in fact, quite confident of our love for one another.  I knew he loved me unconditionally and wasn't jealous of my other relationships.

Ok...and I guess my third favorite lesson my dad taught me was to laugh.  Never to take myself too seriously and to enjoy others through laughter.  I'm sure that's why I have such a big {loud} laugh.

When I asked my sister, Sandra, what life lessons dad taught her, she reminded me of some things that spoke to me as well.  Dad loved woodworking.  And he didn't just "allow" the grandkids to come to his shop...he enjoyed them being there.  He was patient and kind with them and let them use his wood and his tools.  I know my son is a builder today because of his granddad's influence on him.  Sandra was still at home when dad retired.  Dad worked 2-3 jobs our entire lives.  But Sandra observed that when dad retired, he knew how to slow down..and enjoy it.  I have to comment on that.  I never felt slighted by dad working so much.  I think I knew he was doing it for us.  We took great family vacations and he worked extra jobs to pay for those vacations.

Dad wasn't afraid to admit when he was wrong.   Sandra said that her son, Scott, confronted his Papa about smoking.  And dad gave up smoking on Scott's birthday.  He was also loyal.  If you were his friend, you were always his friend.  

I think it was obvious that my dad's life touched many people by how many attended his funeral.  He was a simple man who quietly worked behind the scenes.  He was proof to me that love speaks loudly and draws people in.

Yes.  My dad still speaks today.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Dax & Gus Came to Visit

Shanna and the boys are in town.  Her sister, Amanda, has come in from Alaska and they're enjoying a great visit in Borger.  We were blessed that they came by to see us!

Gee with her arms full of lovin'!  How exciting that Gus had his eyes open.

Like this?  You want me to pose like this?
He's such a cutie--and already changing so much.

Dax wasn't sure he wanted to come in the house with me until I bribed him with the car.

Pops (or "Pa" according to Dax) was holding Gus when he began to tune up for a good cry.  I didn't catch the full pout at the right moment.

And finally....I did catch Dax in rolling his eyes at me.  He is hysterical!  If you annoy him, you get the eye roll.
And it's hard not to laugh.

Running for My Life by Lopez Lomong

As I perused the book selection for a book to review on the BookSneeze website, I decided to choose a book which had a 5 star rating.   At the time, there was only 1.  And that book was Running for My Life by Lopez Lomong.  It had a 5 star rating--and 99 people had already posted reviews.  That is quite a feat!  As I read the synopsis of the book, I realized it was a book I wanted to read, too.

Lopez Lomong is a Lost Boy of Sudan.  As a 6-year-old, he was stolen out of his mother's arms while at church by the rebel Sudanese army and taken to a prison camp.  Three boys from his hometown reassured Lopez that they would take care of him.  It was these three boys who later stole him out at night to take him home.  They ran for three days.  Unfortunately, they went the wrong direction and ended up in Kenya.  They were taken at the Kenyan border and placed in a refugee camp--where Lopez remained for the next 10 years, eating one meal a day.  The ten boys he roomed with in the refugee camp became his family.  During this time, Lopez also assumed his parents were dead--or they would have come to look for him.  One night, his "family" went to a nearby Kenyan's home where they each paid five schillings to watch a black and white television hooked up to a car battery.  They were there to watch the Olympics and Lopez watched as Michael Johnson won his race.  A dream was placed in his heart at that moment.

Lopez attended school in the refugee camp but only had a stick with which to write in the dirt.  For the rest of the day, all of the boys played soccer.  Since so many boys wanted to play, the young leaders made a new requirement--each boy must run the 18 miles around the camp in order to play.  So each day, Lopez ran the 18 miles so he could play soccer.  One day at church in the refugee camp, the Lost Boys were told that a limited amount of boys were going to be taken to America and they had to write an essay in English to be considered.  Lopez's essay was among one of the ones chosen (and he didn't know English)...and he was soon on his way to America and to his own dream of running in the Olympics.

Lopez's story touched my heart in so many ways.  He remembered many of the Bible stories his mother taught him as a child and he clung to those in terrifying moments.  Lopez had tenacity and the fight to live along with a positive attitude.  It was fun (and also sad and guilt-inducing) seeing America through his eyes.  It was incredible to see him succeed against such great odds.  It was humbling to watch his American (sponsoring) family love him and fight for him.  You can go to his website and watch video of him telling his own story.

I'm adding my five stars to the rest.  This is definitely a book you will want to read--I highly recommend it!
Thank you to Thomas Nelson Publishers for providing this book for review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Scent of Rain by Kristin Billerbeck

I usually laugh all the way through a Kristin Billerbeck novel...but not so much on this one.  There were a few guffaws at points, but The Scent of Rain wasn't as wildly humorous as most of her books.  In fact, I thought the ending to this book was quite odd.  If it hadn't had an epilogue, you would have been shaking your head wondering if the author had gone to wash the dishes or something and forgotten she was finishing a book.

Here's the synopsis of this book: Daphne Sweeten is left standing at the altar.  She'd created a fragrance for her fiancee' which she was giving as a gift to everyone who attended the wedding.  Daphne is a chemist who develops scents.  The problem after being left at the altar is that the trauma has left her without a sense of smell.  And...she's just been hired by a new company as a "nose"--a person who develops scents for products--in this case, cleaning products.  When she gets to Dayton, Ohio she finds a company struggling to stay afloat and depending on her nose to succeed.  She also finds that the guy who left her at the altar also traded the beautiful house her father had given them for a wedding gift for a fixer-upper--and taken the difference in the money with him to Paris--to her old job.

If you haven't read any of Billerbeck's books before, you'll find plenty to chuckle about in this book.  But for those who are Billerbeck fans, I think you'll be mildly disappointed.  I give this book 4 out of 5 stars.
Thank you to Thomas Nelson Publishers for providing this book for review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

The Choice by Robert Whitlow

What a great book!  I love Robert Whitlow's books.  And this book is a departure from the subject matter of most of his books.  I downloaded the ebook of The Choice yesterday and couldn't put it down.

The Choice follows the life of Sandy Lincoln who is 17-years-old in 1974.  Sandy is a cheerleader and gets pregnant by the football star her senior year in high school.  The first part of the story chronicles each of Sandy's choices as she follows her heart--and the advice of an old woman at a gas station.  The old woman tells her that she's pregnant with twin sons and that if they ever meet, one of them will die.  And in fact, Sandy does have twin boys...and she chooses to give them up for two different families.  The case is sealed and can only be opened if either of the boys chooses to search for their mother.

Sandy never marries and becomes a dedicated high school English teacher.  She loves her students and becomes involved with a young hispanic girl, Maria, who tells her she's pregnant.  In order to help Maria (who doesn't speak much English), she takes her to a young lawyer who is able to begin the process of protecting her rights.  As Sandy meets with this young lawyer, she notices a photo of him as a young child in front of a house.  A house Sandy recognizes.  And Sandy is faced with yet another choice--thirty-three years later.

This is such a redemptive story.  And it's told in a very engaging way.  I highly recommend this book.  I'd give it 5 out of 5 stars.
Thank you to Thomas Nelson Publishers for providing this book for review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

The Blessed Church by Robert Morris

If you've read my book reviews before, you know that I like a lot of books.  But there are few books that I love so much that I'm willing to purchase them for people I hope will read them.  This is one of those books.  For anyone on the staff of a church, I highly recommend this book.  Robert Morris brilliantly shares the things he's learned from growing a church from the ground up.  His humble attitude is refreshing and creates a desire to learn from him.

Robert has an effortless style of writing which will allow you to get through this book quickly and easily.  In this book, you will learn about how to gain vision for your church, how to lead and shepherd your church, how to choose leaders, how to follow your pastor, and all about church governance.  I don't think this book is strictly for church leaders (pastor, staff, elders, etc.).  I also think church members would gain a lot by understanding what a pastor does (his decisions, boundaries, etc.)--even what to look for when your church is looking for a pastor.  It would also assist a church in trouble to understand how a church could/should be governed.

At one point in the book, Robert tells how many churches today are falling into a ditch on either side of church governance.  There are churches who have given complete authority to a pastor and many of those pastors are failing either morally or in their shepherding because there's no accountability.  And then there are churches who are failing because lay leaders have so much control that it's choking the vision of the pastor.  I think this book and Robert's church give an example of how to have a balanced church.  We can certainly learn from the things he's learned.

I'd give this book 5 out of 5 stars!
Thank you to WaterBrook Press for providing this book for review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Manipulation of Your Mind

I finished reading the book, Hidden in Dreams, by Davis Bunn.  This fiction book is about a medicine which was developed for ADHD but a side effect was manipulation of the dream state in people.  And people wanting power and control used it for their own evil purposes to create dreams in people who were in positions of power and leadership.

And this morning, I began reading The Bishop of Rwanda by Bishop John Rucyahana.  (On sale on Amazon)  This book tells the story of how the Belgians created so much animosity and division among the Tutsi and Hutu people that the end result was a genocide of over 1 million people.  Bishop John makes the point that before the evil work of the Belgians to divide a nation, it would be like trying to find a difference between the Irish & Norwegians who'd been in America for generations.  There was no tribal or language division.  In fact, there had been so much intermarriage, you couldn't tell substantial differences between the two peoples.  They'd lived in peace for over 500 years.  And yet...there was a mass genocide.

Reading these two books back-to-back has startled me.  Both books are about manipulation of the mind.  In the first book, people had no idea they were being manipulated.  The second book was a slow and subtle division of people by manipulation.  And it made me start thinking about how our minds are being manipulated today.  I remember the first time I went to Tibet (well, actually, the only time!).  A loud speaker came on across the city of Lhasa each morning.  The message lasted about 30 minutes.  When I asked Marcy what they were saying, her response was, "The government's propoganda."  Immediately, I began to think of our own government.  Do we have propoganda?  And if so, how is it issued?

Recently, I've been very disturbed by the political anger and seeming hatred being thrown about on Facebook.  It disturbs me.  I'm not suggesting that we be silent when we need to speak up.  But I'm wondering if the hatred is a part of our minds being manipulated.  Bishop John said that by the time of the genocide, pastors were luring their membership into the safe haven of their churches with the intent of killing them.  How do church leaders get to that point?  By allowing their minds to be manipulated.

I'm just advocating that each of us examine ourselves.  Have we been manipulated by the enemy?  I'm reminded of the Bible verse that says, "[Inasmuch as we] refute arguments and theories and reasonings and every proud and lofty thing that sets itself up against the [true] knowledge of God; and we lead every thought and purpose away captive into the obedience of Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One)..."   Take your thoughts captive.  Don't be manipulated.  Be a seeker of TRUTH and love.  Anger leads to murder...even if it's only in your heart.