Friday, December 18, 2009

Not a Kitty Toy

We've tried to teach Frisco that the Christmas Tree is not a Kitty Toy.

We purchased cat repellent and sprayed it on the tree skirt; um, that didn't work.

So, basically our strategy is to shut the doors and keep her away from the tree unless there are people handy to monitor her behavior and spray her with the water bottle if she gets too inquisitive.

However, The Artist was home with her today and went upstairs without securing the doors behind him.

Oh, doesn't she look innocent? But...the evidence is there, along with several saggy tree branches.

Why the delicate ornaments did not come out of the box this year...

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Watch and pray....

One of my sewing buddies wrote a post about one of her children doing well in a public venue, and having folks congratulate her on his performance (Mermaids). I read her post and thought it over and realized that it is far easier for parents to allow their children to own their successes than it is for us to allow them to own their failures. If my kid does really well on something, it's because he/she is a great kid, using the talents God has given him/her.

On the other hand, though, if one of my kids messes up, drops the ball, fails, it's all too easy to believe that it must be because I've done something wrong as a parent. Surely, if I'd've encouraged at the right times, disciplined in the right way, explained life a little better, modeled the right kind of discipline in my own life, this would not have happened! It must be my fault...

Granted, parents have a large input in both the failures and successes of their kids. But ultimately, as my sewing buddy pointed out, the decision to push through to excellence or to give up and let things slide is the child's own decision. There comes a point at which there is nothing more a parent can do but watch.

It's a tough assignment. But right now I'm watching...

Oh. And praying. ;)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Time Elapsed: 30 minutes

Three months. It's been three months since I said I wanted to accept the ten-hour challenge. And, while I've spent time reading and studying, I haven't really sat down and said, 'Lord, I'm listening.'

Hadn't spent 10 minutes trying to listen to God talk to me about His plans for me.

So, finally, Monday I managed to tear myself away from the pile of unfinished and behind work and carry my Bible down to the sanctuary for 30 minutes of listening during lunchtime.

I wasn't sure where to start; because I was in Isaiah in my read-the-Bible-through effort,I read Isaiah 41-50.

That's an incredibly encouraging passage...over and over again, God compares Himself to man-made idols. And over and over again, the difference is obvious:

We serve a God who acts when called upon. One who has a plan and a purpose that we can fulfill, if we'll only trust and follow Him.

And that's a good place to start.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

A Word in Due Season

God is really amazing.

Three church services this morning...and all three contained insights that ministered straight to my weary-in-fighting-the-battle self. Nothing I didn't really already know, but reminder after reminder that He is in control.

First service I taught the high school MPact club...we're doing a unit on Family Relationships which, to be honest, has been pretty much of a snoozer. But today we looked at Joseph and his dysfunctional family of origin, and I was reminded in my own exposition that God uses all things to bring about His plan and purpose.

I sat in second service and listened to the message...which, among other things, was an exhortation to position myself for fellowship and intimacy w/God...to keep first things first.

Third service we left the regularly scheduled message altogether and just had a time of worship and prayer and ministry. Pastor specifically prayed for those who were getting weary in the battle and feeling dry.

No, nothing in our situation has really changed. But my Father reminded me that I am still His daughter, and He can be trusted. He gently pointed out to me that I haven't been doing the daily pursuit as I had intended and I realized with a shock that, good grief, it's been 3 months since I stated my plan to do that! What happened?

No matter now. His mercies are new every morning. Tomorrow is a new day.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

When Faith Kicks In

Several years back, I taught the book of James for the local Christian Women's Job Corps site (those of you who did the James study with me remember that I used that study as the basis for the one I did here). In one of the sessions...I don't remember which...I heard myself say something to the effect of "Faith doesn't kick in until it looks hopeless."

That wasn't in my notes, but I realized that it was true. It's easy to believe God's working when you can see a way out; it's when you don't see a way out that it's hard to hold on to the promises.

I've mentioned that the younger kids are struggling with their grades; that has been a great disappointment to me because I thought we'd been through that and they had adjusted. By the time we realized they dropped their respective balls, there was precious little time left in the term. We've tried to contact the teachers; there's one that still hasn't responded (although it is possible the response has been lost in cyberspace). Meantime, the hole has been dug deeper. Now, there's no excuse for the continued use of the digging equipment...but if we'd gotten some feedback from that teacher, we possibly could've headed it off.

Water under the bridge at this point. We have 3 days of classes and then finals left. There may be reaping of what was sown, and there may be gnashing of teeth once the term is over.

Faith kicking in requires me to believe that God is more concerned with my kids getting what they need than I am. He will not allow failure unless He has a plan to redeem it. No...that's not quite right. If the kids choose to fail, He will allow it. But He also stands ready to redeem it when they follow Him. Ultimately, it's not about my faith that God will not allow my kids to fail, it's about their faith that He can guide them through even personal failure to His purpose if they will commit their way to Him.

Not commit their way to me. Commit their way to Him.

That's the hard part. Trusting Him with them...no matter what.

And I know that things could be soooo much worse. It's not a horrid disease. It's not criminal activity. It's not blatant rebellion. It's...grades. It's a place in the magnet program.

But my heart hurts for them just the same...to put themselves in such a hard place when just a little discipline and responsibility could've prevented the whole thing.

But, I know He is trustworthy; He has plans to prosper and not to harm, plans for a hope and a future.

No matter how ugly it gets for the next term; I believe He is able to put them where they need to be.

Doesn't look good, but I believe.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Ruminations

I actually sat down over the last couple of days and re-read the little study I posted about Advent last year.

I feel like someone else wrote that. Someone who could think and reflect and write things to inspire thinking and reflecting. Not me...not anymore.

Or at least not at this moment.

I know what happened....the 18 hour work week totally socked my blogging time. But not only that, the dig-and-reflect time has evaporated as well. Spoiled, I was, and that's the truth. I'll concede that it's not *just* the work week; costuming two school plays this fall really hit the blogging/creative time as well.

I'm not sure I'm happy with this scenario. And I'm not sure it's been good for my family...the kids' grades are rocky again. I really hoped that after last quarter's near miss they'd learned something about focus, but that doesn't seem to be the case. Now, maybe that has to do with Mom working and maybe it doesn't, but I know that between the work and the volunteer stuff (for school, no less!) the bad grades snuck up on us and now I'm not sure there's enough time left in the grading period for them to pull things together.

So add Mom-stress to the mix. The help to the bank accounts has been very welcome; maybe even critical, so just going back to the way things were really isn't an option. Besides, I'd hate to leave the office ladies in the lurch by going to the house just when I was catching on enough to be a help to them.

Still, something is going to have to change before long; probably not my circumstances, but in how I'm handling things. This transition is taking longer than I anticipated...

Sunday, December 6, 2009

I can wish, can't I?

So, I am on the campus of the college that was hosting the Trumbauer competition, chaperoning the drama class and, at that particular moment early Friday afternoon, sitting in the lobby of one of the buildings making a lunch from a Star Kist Tuna lunch kit and a pack of crackers-n-cheese. My black book bag, easily the only choice for hauling stuff around for a day on campus, is on the sofa next to me, still unzipped from my foraging around for the munchables. I've got on a black turtleneck sweater and blue jeans, and I've got my beat up 'purse Bible' out, working on the lesson material for this morning's Girls Only class.

Suddenly, a group of about 4 ladies enter the building, and one comes over to me and speaks.

"Excuse me...do you go to school here?"

My first reaction is regret that I won't be able to provide whatever information she is seeking.
"No, I'm sorry, I don't."

Then it hits me and my jaw drops.

"Do I go to school here? Oh, honey, you're my new best friend!"

Laughter all around...and they head off to find someone to help.

Now, I know that she didn't really LOOK at me...she probably just registered someone in jeans w/head down, studying, with a bookbag. I'm sure she was shocked to see my 50-year-old face look up to answer her question.

But it made my day just the same. If I'd've had the app for my phone, I'd've made it my Facebook status:

"I just got mistaken for a college student!"

What a hoot.

Monday, November 30, 2009

The Christmas Pickle

We had a Christmas dinner for the Girl's Ministry workers this evening; part of our program was a Christmas trivia contest. One of the questions was about a tradition of finding a particular ornament in order to get to open the first package on Christmas morning.

No one else there had heard of the Christmas Pickle.
Our Christmas Pickle ornament was a gift from friends several years ago; this one is a ceramic ornament. My In-laws have had larger, blown-glass pickle ornament on their tree about as long as I've known them, I believe.

The label on my ornament jar says, "In Old World Germany, the last decoration placed on the Christmas Tree was always a pickle...carefully hidden deep in the boughs. Legend has it that the observant child who found it on Christmas day was blessed with a year of good fortune...and a special gift."

We adapted it in our house...the one who finds the pickle on Christmas morning at our house gets a Wonka bar (or other fancy chocolate bar if I can't find a Wonka bar) and opens the first present.

But at dinner tonight, no one had heard of this and everyone generally thought it humorously absurd. So I promised I'd blog about it and, just for grins, did a google search.

Turns out the 'old German custom' really isn't! No one seems to know exactly where it *did* start...but it's all over the web (especially on retail sites that sell the pickle ornaments).

Too funny!!!!

Oh...and I had another long-held Christmas notion debunked; I thought Johnny Marks invented the character Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer when he wrote the song; turns out he got the character from a poem written by his brother-in-law, Robert May. So I concede that the trivia quiz was right and I was wrong on that one... ;)

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Using the Good China



I didn't register for china back when we got married; by and large, that wasn't part of the culture in the rural area in which I grew up. My Sweet Baboo already had a goodly assortment of Old Town Blue Corelle, and I figured that was good enough.

But my DMIL had a bit of Royal Albert Christmas china that she pulled out at the holidays...it added to the festivity and the honor of the season. And I thought that was neat. So I began to watch for something I could use like that.

And, just about that time, Lenox introduced a holly pattern named, appropriately enough, 'Holiday' that was both very pretty and very pricey. There were a couple of other manufacturers that began producing holiday-themed dishes right around then, too...but most of them looked kind of cartoonish and just didn't appeal much to me like the elegance of the Lenox dishes.

So, little by very little, I began accumulating pieces of 'Holiday' china.

A place setting here, a serving piece there. It went into boxes for 'someday.'

I used a couple of the serving pieces for a Christmas party years ago, but mostly it stays in the boxes.

About a week ago, I thought about my Holiday china and about my kids who are now teenagers and young adults.

I decided it was high time I pulled out the dishes for the holidays; I was pretty sure we had enough for everyone.

So The Princess got the job of pulling out plates and a couple of serving pieces and cleaning them up so we could use them today. She didn't know we had them. I'd actually forgotten *what* I had...if I'd've been more on the ball, we could've used the salt/pepper shakers and sugar bowl/creamer, too, but I wasn't thinking that far ahead.

I know I have 'save it for good' drilled into my head like just about everyone else. And there is a little wisdom in that; there needs to be some special things that are 'for good'...because that adds to the specialness of the event. But sometimes we don't pay enough attention to realize what 'good' is.

Thanksgiving dinner, with everyone home and healthy (even if The Artist is on crutches), is definitely 'good.'

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Why Me?

It hit me again as I was showering this morning...in lovely hot water.

Why did I end up here? Where I have so much compared to so many others? Things I take for granted...lights, hot water, the grocery store a mile up the road...are unbelievable, unimaginable luxuries for so many.

Why would I ever complain about anything? When my basic life is so...comfortable?

I certainly am no more deserving of these blessings than anyone else. But I have them.

And I am very grateful.

There is much to be thankful for.

Lord, make me a good steward of all Your blessings....

Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Different Perspective

We had a guest speaker at church today; Paul Wilbur stopped by literally on his way out of the country and spoke in all three services this morning.

I'm tellin' ya, when the Word is presented through the eyes of a Messianic Jew, it takes on shades of color and depths that us regular ol' Gentile believers do not readily perceive. Paul has been to our church before, although it's been a while, and I'd forgotten how fascinating it is to be shown what is in the text that my eyes are not trained to see.

The first time I heard him teach, he presented the Passover supper and went into details on what each element represented; it rocked my world.

The video from at least one of today's services (I hope they post all three; they were all different) will be up on the church website tomorrow. If you get a chance, check it out. You'll be stretched and blessed...

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Crawling out of a hole

What a week.

Monday I got hit with some digestive upset -- could've been food poisoning -- that jerked not only the rug but the whole floor right out from under my feet. I'm just now beginning to be functional again.

Today The Artist had surgery to reconstruct his ACL. And the show costuming continues...(talkin' about that on the other blog).

So, have I had any time...or mental focus...to write any posts? Let alone thoughtful, intelligent posts that actually make stopping by BLH worthwhile.

Nope.

So, I'm going to post a little meme. I actually got tagged w/this one over on Facebook, but I'm reposting it here, just so y'all can see that I haven't fallen off the face of the earth.

I'm supposed to tag more folks, but since I may only have my mother still hanging with me at this point, I'll just say that anyone who's in a bind for blog material is free to help themselves and leave a link. I promise I'll come read it...eventually ;)

The Threes of Me
I go by:
1. Lisa
2. Mrs Lisa
3.Tigger or Tig (that's ancient history)

Three Jobs I have had in my life:
1. Cone filler, shake maker/banana splitter at the Dairy Bar
2. Billing Clerk
3. Computer Systems Support Assistant


Three Favorite drinks:
1. Milk
2. Coke
3. Coffee w/lotsa cream and sugar ;)

Three favorite foods:
1.Fresh bread
2. Crab legs
3. Anything in Alfredo sauce

Three favorite hobbies:
1. Sewing
2. Reading
3. Wishing I had more time...

Three TV shows that I watch:
1. The TV just doesn't go on at our house....
2.
3.

Three Places I Have Been:
1. The Viet Nam Veterans Memorial
2.Yosemite National Park
3.The Kennedy Space Flight Center

People that e-mail/facebook me regularly:
1 People who have a new job for me, want me to meet singles, think I need Acai cleansing, are distressed because we aren't on the DISH Network....
2.My mother
3.Lands' End, Staples, JCPenny, Fabricdotcom, Flylady, Daytimer, Fashion Fabrics Club, Nancy Zieman....

Three of my favorite restaurants:
1. Mikado
2. Red Lobster
3.Macaroni Grill

Three friends I think will respond:
1. ?
2.?
3.?

Three things I'm looking forward to:
1. A multiple-days trip away with My Sweet Baboo...someday....
2. time to sew
3. a much -needed personal breakthrough

Three favorite movies:
1. Singin' in the Rain
2. The *original* Star Wars
3 The Muppet Christmas Carol

Three favorite places to go:
1.Church
2. Textile Fabrics, during the Annual Big Sale
3. The Beach...


Three people who make you laugh:
1. The Actor
2. Chuck Jones
3. Jim Henson

Three favorite songs at the moment:
1.Bless the Lord (Son of Man) (Ty Trybett)
2.Tomorrow (not the one from Annie! Lyrics: And tomorrow the sun will rise and the moon will shine and the stars will fill the sky/And tomorrow Your Majesty will fill my heart again/And tomorrow will have its share of troubles, but this one thing I know/That tomorrow will hold another chance to give You praise)
3.It is Well ... ;)

Three places you'd like to go:
1. any beach in the Gulf of Mexico....
2. Mackinac Island
3. NYC Garment district

Three wishes:
1.to be more self-disciplilned
2.to spend time w/my hubby
3. to slow things down and enjoy the moments more

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Say What?

I guess I should be surprised I had a year and a half before it happened.

Someone left a totally irrelevant and extremely judgmental comment on one of my recent posts. If it had made any sense, I possibly might have answered it.

But I went back and reread the post...I couldn't see any connection at all between what the post said and what seemed to have offended the commenter...unless it was the quote from 'The Message' translation I included (I know some folks totally trip out over modern translations). But even that was a stretch. I just couldn't see what provoked that response.

So I deleted the comment.

I'd ask my fellow faith bloggers how they deal with such things, only I don't think any of my fellow faith bloggers drop by here. Honest questions and disagreements do not bother me; but stuff that seems accusatory and inflammatory without a cause smacks of a personal agenda. And one should not post one's personal agenda on another person's blog, IMHO.

So, to avoid further flame throwing, I'm going to enable comment moderation, at least for a while, just in case the commenter comes back soon looking for a fight. I'm not going there.

I apologize for the hassle; hopefully this was a random event and I can go back to business-as-usual soon...

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Random Dozen...just for fun...

I haven't done a meme in, like, ages. Linda at 2nd Cup of Coffee posts some very interesting questions on her weekly Random Dozen list and I've wanted to play along but...doggone it, I can't figure out how to put that cool button on my post! So, well, I just decided to play this week anyway. I've been SO focused on sewing for the past month that I haven't been able to post my deeper thoughts (those have been there, believe me, and I hope to get some posted sometime soon), but I'm frustrated w/my lack of posting so I thought I'd just take an easy post and answer the questions... ;) Anyway, here goes (and I didn't read them before deciding to play!)

1. What was the last song you listened to?
Um, actively listened to? Or just had playing in the background? I think the last song I actively listened to was playing during staff prayer today. Typically, I can't tell anyone the name, but it was Rita Springer singing it and the chorus has the words 'All I need to do is worship; all I need to do is say Your name out loud'...or something like that...

2. Have you ever had “buyer’s remorse” over anything?
Yup. Most recently over a wallet that I mail ordered from the check printing company in March that developed zipper issues about a month later. The slider would go but nothing connected. Usually a good yank on the zipper would line things back up, but it was very frustrating. Today the zipper tab came off entirely. $34 plus shipping and it's now held together with a rubber band...

3. What is something in your life that you are thankful for now that you didn’t think you would be at the time of the event? (Something that seemed ill-timed, inconvenient or hurtful which turned out to be a good thing)
This will get deep quickly. In 1995 I had a miscarriage; we weren't planning any more kids. In fact, we were probably just on the edge of doing something permanent about no more kids. But we didn't just then, and all my hormones were thrown out of whack so three months later I got pregnant when, according to all calendars and such, I shouldn't have. Now I look at my 13-year old daughter and can't imagine life without her. But without the miscarriage to throw the delay into our plans, she likely wouldn't be here...

4. Do you watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade every year? If so, do you have a favorite float or balloon?
That's the One Thing we watch without fail on TV. No sitcoms, reality shows, talk shows or sporting events...just the parade. I can see/hear the TV from the kitchen; it's the soundtrack for the cooking. And I choke up when it starts and when it ends. Gotta say that my favorite parts are the high school bands; I was a clarinet player and *so* identify, even though the farthest we ever went was to a concert band contest in Vincinnes.

5. Share a quote, scripture, poem or lyric which has been an inspiration to you lately.
'Do all things without murmuring or complaining.' That one's still plowing the fallow ground...

6. This is meant to be a fun question, and this is a G-rated blog, but please share a “guilty pleasure,” something that you enjoy that’s probably not the most edifying, time-worthy or healthy thing you could be indulging in. Did I mention this blog is rated G?
I stink at video games. I play Mario party w/the kids, and, um, there's one game that's so bad it's funny, but I can do it. It's a really bad knock off of the Lord of the Rings...a turn based game that doesn't involve any coordination. I keep playing it to see how much higher I can rank the characters so they can cream the bad guys...

7. What Thanksgiving food are you looking forward to?
Turkey and dressing!!!

8. What is your favorite book to read to children, or what was your favorite childhood book?
I love to read aloud any books that need different voices (The Lord of the Rings was great fun), but my favorite childhood book was Heidi. It was the first 'chapter book' I read and I cried when I finished because I didn't want the story to be over.

9. Do you collect anything? (Feel free to post a photo.)
Um, fabric? 'Collection' sounds so much better than 'out of control stash'

10. Gift bags or wrapping paper?
Wrapping paper. Unless the gift is so oddly shaped that wrapping paper is just not feasible and there is no box available to make wrapping paper feasible.

11. Share an after-school memory from when you were younger. What was your routine like on an average day?
Isn't this two questions? I rode the bus for about an hour after school; as soon as we got home we'd get a snack and do homework. At some point I'd have to do my farm chore...making sure all the hog watering troughs were filled. We'd eat dinner and clean it up, then burn the trash. Grab a bath and go to bed.

One after school memory is from about junior high...just when the recipe for hot chocolate mix began to be circulated (Nestle's quick...powdered coffee creamer...I don't remember what else was in it). Swiss Miss hadn't even come out with their product yet...but Mom made up a batch and all we had to do was run the tap till the water got hot, put half a cup of the mix in a mug and add the hot water to get hot chocolate. It was an amazing thing...we had a long walk up the farm lane (really...the lane is over a quarter mile) and on cold days it was a huge treat.


12. True story: Once, in a job interview, I was asked this question and told there would be no clarifying; I simply had to answer the question: “When you’re fishing, do you feel for the fish?” So what about you? Do you feel for the fish??
I've never been fishing. I don't know if I'd feel for the fish or not.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Only ONE Thing...

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

It is a fight, isn't it? To remember that One Thing that Mary chose...to forget all the other demands on her and to sit at Jesus' feet.

I was brought back to this passage again today, as I struggled to just sit and be still for even a few minutes.

Why can't I focus? I asked, trying to make headway in my reading through the middle of Isaiah.

The answer was in my spirit almost before I'd finished forming the question.
You are bothered by many things...only one thing is needful.

So I turned to Luke 10 and reread the little vignette of Mary and Martha. In the NIV, the tail end of verse 41 going into 42 reads this way:
You are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed.

I looked up the Greek words for 'worried' (Strong's 3309 - merimao: anxious care) and 'upset' (Strong's 5182 - turbazo: disturbed in the mind, anxious, stirred up) then realized the contrast Jesus was making wasn't in Martha's mind set or attitudes...it was in the numbers: 'Many things' vs. 'One thing'.

Jesus wasn't talking about Martha's fluster, He was talking about her focus. Martha was trying to focus on many things...Mary was focused on one. The Good part.

Over and over again, God teaches me through these sisters...

Lord, you know my heart. The part that really, really wants to please You and that part that really, really wants to please people. And the part that wants to represent You by being a servant that somehow blends the two. But I don't have enough wisdom to balance it all myself. I need your help. Because this battle isn't with any one or any thing or any circumstance...it's in my own head, choosing to stop and focus on You when everything else...many things...are demanding my attention. Resensitize my ears, Lord, that I may hear Your voice amid the clamor, and strengthen my will to turn aside at that moment and focus on You alone.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Heavy Lifting

I wrote on the Actor's facebook page that I was very proud of him for his heavy lifting.

Remember the grades that were abysmally low about 5 weeks ago? He brought everything up to A's and B's by the time the report cards came out.

I'd say that was some major elevation.

Certainly worthy of an 'attaboy!'...and more than a few 'Hallelujah!'s ;)

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Taking my own medicine...

Ok, last week I posted the devo for the girls' ministry sleepover...which emphasized having a good attitude and not complaining.

Set myself up, I did.

Had a situation arise during the week that gave me lots and lots of opportunity to grumble and complain and generally not be my most gracious self. And I fear I succumbed to a little grumbling and complaining...carefully worded, of course, but grumbling and complaining just the same.

Even though I repeated 'Do all things without complaining or arguing' to myself till I was blue in the face.

The Princess even asked me, 'So, are you trying to make up for it by quoting the verse?'

No...just owning up to the struggle. The flesh was pitching a fit, and the spirit had to fight. And took a couple of punches.

But the task was finished,I repented of the grumbles in the process, and we move on.

Keep pressin' towards the goal of doing ALL things without complaining or arguing...not there yet, but headed in that direction.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Fall Break

Seems kinda silly to take my regularly scheduled blogging break when I've been blogging just a couple of times a week, but since the break includes all internet activity except email and weather checking (and necessary purchases) I'm gonna stick to the plan. Lord knows I need the time to catch stuff up.

I'll be back next week!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Shine Like Stars

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi.

Tonight is the annual MPact Sleepover. The theme, sent from the national office, is 'Shine Like Stars'. So, we planned a sleepover themed around stars, galaxies, the vastness of space, the awesomeness of God...then got the planning packet, which focuses on American Idol. 'Disappointed' is a huge understatement. We ditched the recommended materials, and are sticking with our theme. I've got the devotional and decided to share it here...because I don't *think* any of our girls will check here! ;) Of course, I had something entirely different planned in my head, but when I looked up the theme verse for the event, Phil. 2:15, I found the devotional going in another direction entirely...



Where are the stars in the daytime? Do they clock out and go home when the sun comes up?

No, the stars are still where they always are. We can’t see them because the light of the sun is brighter than the stars.

Are the stars upset about that?

If you were a star, would you be upset because the sun was brighter than you?

You shouldn’t be…because the sun is *supposed* to be brighter than the stars.

What makes it possible for us to see the stars?

We only see the stars when the sky is dark; we see them in contrast to the sky around them.

In Philippians chapter 2, the apostle Paul compares Christians living in a world that doesn’t honor God to stars in the night sky…showing for miles and miles and miles because of the contrast.

But, in order to see what makes Christians shine like stars, we have to look at the whole paragraph.

‘Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life’ - Phil 2:14 – 16a

What is the first instruction Paul gives us? (do everything w/o complaining or arguing).

How many of you have complained about something you had to do today? Maybe it was getting out of bed on time! Did you complain about doing your chores, or an assignment a teacher gave you in class? Did you argue with you mom about whether or not you should do something she asked…maybe even saying you didn’t have time to do it because you had to get ready for tonight?

Or maybe there are circumstances that make you unhappy…maybe you didn’t get the teacher you wanted for one of your classes at school, or maybe you don’t have a cell phone yet and all your friends do…do you complain about those things?

But look at what Paul says about complaining and arguing…it’s when you do the things you must do withOUT complaining or arguing that you will be blameless and pure, shining like stars.

In our children’s ministry, kids are taught that they should do what they’re asked to do ‘Right away, all the way, in a cheerful way’…that would be immediately and completely, with a good attitude.

Think about kids you know. How many of them ‘do everything without arguing or complaining?’ Do you think someone who did everything without complaining or arguing about it would stand out in the crowd? Maybe…shine like a star?

And you know why it’s important to shine like a star? Look at the last part of that passage…”As you hold out the word of life”

If you are shining like a star in a dark sky, the message you hold out will be noticed. People will hear the good news about Jesus.

And sharing the good news about Jesus is what we are here for.

So…if we want people to listen to that message, how should we react when someone asks us to do something, or we find ourselves in circumstances that don’t please us?

Do everything without complaining or arguing…so that you may shine like stars.

Friday, October 9, 2009

The Big 'J'

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi
(yeah, I'm blogging at midnight...crazy...please forgive the inevitable lack of proper editing. Gotta grab the opportunities when they come.)

Jealousy is an ugly, ugly thing. I really believed for a long time that I didn't...wouldn't...indulge in jealousy.

However, the time has come to be honest.

I'm way jealous. Of way too many folks.

I think I have been all along, and just didn't own up to it.

I could go into Big Ugly Details, but there really isn't much point in that. And, actually, there hasn't been any crisis or confrontation to provoke the revelation. In other words, if I kept my mouth shut, no one would know. But that 'ehn' feeling in my gut is keeping me from being real. It's keeping me behind my self-inflicted walls. I'm finally recognizing the 'ehn' feeling as jealousy.

Ok, doctor, we have a diagnosis. What is the treatment?

How can I get past this thing? Get RID of this thing? It's the heart of Cain's problem, you know. I sure don't want to go there.

The thing about a sin like jealousy is that it's not something you just don't *do*. Stealing is an action that has a particular point of temptation. Resist that point, and you won't go home with something that's not yours. Jealousy is always there, always whispering sinister accusations. Ready when I wake up at 2 AM with a scenario from the past...could be from the previous day, or it could be from years ago...to keep the notion that I'm lacking something someone else has, and has easily, alive. Jealousy keeps...me...from walking in love.

That sin is crouching at the door...constantly.

My decisions, such as they are, don't result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time....I've tried everything and nothing helps. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn't that the real question?

The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different.
(Romans 7:23 - 25, The Message)

Thank God for His endless reservoirs of grace. That's the only way to get past jealousy and live on the other side...

Monday, October 5, 2009

Textin' the Ten Commandments (A Smile for your Monday)

Our children's pastor posted this on her facebook page...she said it came from mikeysfunnies.com, but I couldn't find it to give specific credit. I thought it was really cute and just *had* to share it!

Anyway, if God had used text messaging to send the 10 commandments, it might've looked like this...

1. no1 b4 me. srsly.
2. dnt wrshp pix/idols
3. no omg’s
4. no wrk on w/end (sat 4 now; sun l8r)
5. pos ok – ur m&d r cool
6. dnt kill ppl
7. :-X only w/ m8
8. dnt steal
9. dnt lie re: bf
10. dnt ogle ur bf’s m8. or ox. or dnkey. myob.

ttyl, JHWH.

ps. wwjd?

Friday, October 2, 2009

...She Ain't What She Used to Be...

It's a shock, isn't it? I thought I knew what to expect...hot flashes, emotional moments, weight gain, gray hair. Mammograms and bone marrow scans.

But there's a lot more to it than that, I'm learning.

Started off with the routine blood work. Granted, I hadn't had all the numbers run for about three years, but I didn't expect any shocks.

Got one; my cholesterol, they said, was two points into the red zone. They wanted to put me on statin drugs.

Hold on, I said. The last time my cholesterol was checked the doctor commented on how excellent my numbers were. Can I do some diet-and-exercise first?

Sure, the nurse said. But we want to recheck in six weeks. (It doesn't help that our family doctor moved and his replacement doesn't...as of last notice...take our insurance yet. So we're between doctors at the moment).

So I watched...really watched what I ate. We walked five or six times a week. Consumed oatmeal and omega-3 seafood.

I didn't expect a dramatic change, but I figured I'd knock it down a couple of points so I wasn't in the 'high risk' zone anymore. Besides, I remembered eating bacon sandwiches the night before the first test.

So, two days into a church fast (I was doing juice, water, and protein shakes!) I went back for the next blood test.

The shock was three days later when they called to inform me that both my LDL and total cholesterol numbers had gone up!

I was flabbergasted. Doing everything right...and it still went up.

On a whim, I googled 'correlation between menopause and high cholesterol'.

Boom. First page. Found out that there is a definite change in blood chemistry that results in elevated cholesterol and high blood pressure.

And was reminded again that heart disease is the leading cause of death in women over the age of 50.

Humble Pie time. I've heard that forever, it seems, but it didn't really register. I thought that was because women just kind of lost the motivation to maintain good eating/exercise habits as they got older...and I considered coronary problems as just part of growing older; things wearing out. Now, I see myself having to deal with the 'old people' problems of high cholesterol and such, even though I've tried at least some to keep moving and eat reasonably.

So I'm taking the medicine, even though I don't like all the side effects it warns me to be concerned about (how on earth do I know the difference between medicine induced 'muscle pain' and the run-of-the-mill-I'm-50-for-crying-out-loud 'muscle pain'?), because...what other options are there? If diet and exercise did less than nothing to control it, what's left?

At least there's a silver lining...between avoiding foods that aggravate acid reflux AND are fatty, I've lost five pounds. ;)

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The One-Computer Blues

Fact: Homework takes precedence over blogging.
Fact: Both kids have homework that must be done on a computer.
Result: There has been precious little blogging going on around here.

I've gone from not worrying about it, to making myself a promise to blog, to realizing that there are seasons for everything and this is just not gonna be my season to be on the computer...for however long it lasts.

I might sneak in a post now and again, and I do have some things I want to blog about, but, well, when I don't sit down at the computer until 10:30 PM, there's not much chance of me writing a coherent post about much of anything.

So, my bloggy friends whom I love with all the gratitude in my heart for sticking with me on this cyber journey, don't despair that I have forgotten you. I haven't...and I'll drop by here when I can.

Meantime, we're still fighting the schoolwork warfare; things have improved greatly but there is still one area of concern.

And we will celebrate when an English essay actually gets turned in on time instead of two days late...

Thursday, September 24, 2009

If My People....

posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi. I was gonna just make this a note on Facebook, but I decided to post it here instead...since I messed up and changed pages before I published it and lost it over there.

How often do we quote that verse without really taking in the context of it? Look at 2 Chron. 7 13:
When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people.... In other words, when the nation is in the midst of judgment, there is a promise:

If my people, who are called by my name...that means He's talking to US...the CHRISTians...

will humble themselves...not 'humble those who are in error' or 'humble those who are against them' or 'humble those who refuse to know Me' or even 'bring correction to those whose doctrine isn't exactly perfect'...

and pray and seek my face... why is it we want to do what Jesus would do (WWJD?) without doing what Jesus did...he spent HOURS, even ENTIRE NIGHTS in prayer, seeking God's face, so he could say what the Father said and do what the Father was doing in every situation. THAT's what Jesus did. And I think my measly little few minutes of prayer here and there is gonna cover me. Ouch....

and turn from their wicked ways... Read that again. THEIR wicked ways. Not turn sinners away from sin, but abandon the wicked ways in our own lives. Things like pride, jealousy, gossiping, lying, rebellion, selfishness...oh, my...

then I will hear from heaven... it's not lack of humility and repentance amongst our government officials or in Hollywood, it's lack of humility and repentance amongst God's people that keeps our prayers from reaching heaven.

and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

It's up to us.

Monday, September 21, 2009

A Maybe Road Trip

It's funny how God works things out.

I began trying again to implement Flylady during the Jubilee year; didn't really make it to baby steps but I did get up on my hands and knees rocking. Maybe I'll crawl before long...

Anyway, I just found out that the Flylady crew will be doing a couple of days of exhortation and encouragement in Western Kentucky this Friday and Saturday.

It's three hours away and it's free. I think I've got a couple of friends talked into going with me.

I'll have to leave the house at something like 4:15 AM...but, you know, I bet it's worth it...

Plans are being made.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

SHE: The Battleground Reflections (6)

I've been trying for 2-3 days to get enough time to write about Saturday night's session; Dawn gave us an amazing word on a seldom discussed story from 2 Samuel 20...Sheba's Rebellion.

As she pointed out, we often hear teachings on Absalom's rebellion, but the near-civil war that resulted from the rebellion of Sheba, son of Bicri, is not often a teaching subject.

Which is interesting because even David said, 'Sheba son of Bicri will do us more harm than Absalom did.' (v. 6)

Dawn analyzed the meanings of the names 'Sheba' and 'Bicri' and, putting it with the situation, identified the 'voice of Sheba, son of Bicri' as the voice of 'infinite accusation'. Absalom was subversive; Sheba was openly rebellious, denying the inheritance of David.

But, Joab (who was not a very nice fellow at all by this point either) chased Sheba to the town of Abel, then laid siege to the town so that he could not escape.

Dawn pointed out that it was 'a wise woman' (v. 16) who defended her city to Joab and discovered that the problem wasn't Abel, it was the rebellion that the city harbored...the voice of accusation that had taken refuge there.

This wise woman declared that the head of the accuser would be thrown over the wall, and it was.

We were challenged to look for the voice of Sheba in our own thoughts...that voice that declares God has no inheritance for us, that we should retire to our tents to tend our business ourselves. That voice that continues to discourage us from following the King.

Then, once that source is located, throw his head over the wall.

Graphic, isn't it?

But you know, when I was praying my way through it at the end of the service, I had a mental picture of battling someone who looked very much like the character 'Wormtongue' in The Lord of the Rings movies...the discourager. And I took my sword and yelled as I pressed the attack and lopped off his head.

The first part of our battle (yes, the conference was about doing battle!) is recognizing who the real enemy is...the siege came to Abel in order to deliver Abel, but the inhabitants of that city had to recognize that the enemy wasn't the army of the King, it was the discourager within their own walls.

And I declare that, in my own spirit, Sheba, son of Bicri is dead.

And if I did not have any other revelation during the conference, that would have been enough.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

I need to buy stock in toothpicks...

...since I'm using so many to prop my eyelids so I can blog this week! It's been late every night before I can get access to the computer; sorely testing my resolve to blog daily!

But I will bow to higher priorities...namely, homework. So, it's been late. And kinda disjointed. (yawns)

I'm not sure which is worse...posting a rambling arrangement of words that doesn't really say anything or not blogging at all.

Anyway, I *do* have one more post to make about the last session of the SHE conference, as soon as I can get enough time at the computer to make it coherent! Maybe tomorrow...

Friday, September 18, 2009

Fight the Weariness

The Actor posted the following on his Facebook:
Do not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. - Gal. 6:9

I'm encouraged that he posted that...we are struggling mightily to not become weary in doing good (that would be writing essays for AP classes). We turned a corner on attitude, but it's still a mind-grinding load of work. He gets weary of doing it; I get weary of trying to be the understanding supportive mom and not slip back into the role of being angry when he doesn't do it the way I think he should.

He's got to find his own voice. Even if he turns in the essay late, if he writes a really good one it will pull his average up. Not as much as if it had been turned in on time, but up is up.

The key for him is to not give up until the good essay is written...the key for me is to not give up praying for him and encouraging him to do his best work.

But these late night efforts are making me tired enough that my ears are ringing.

Thank you, Lord, that as he makes the shifts in his mental gears to grasp the form of essay writing they will get easier for him.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

SHE: The Battleground Reflections (5)

I have a son who must get on the computer momentarily to finish homework (essay writing!), so my evening reflections will be brief.

At the end of Saturday morning's general session, in which Susan Dyer spoke of having an encounter with God, all the leadership ladies were called to the front to pray for folks.

But, knowing what was going on in my heart, that I had very recently identified two very large issues that were ongoing battles, I didn't feel competent to pray for anyone. And, the moment the release was given to ask for prayer, I scooted down the line a bit and asked Mama Lela to pray for me.

Oh...if only I could accurately describe Mama Lela. This lady ministers to people in the highest and lowest place in our city and she treats them all exactly the same. She absolutely loves people without condition and without reservation. I probably squalled on her shoulder for a good 10 minutes. And it was ok. She prayed over me, she exhorted me, she encouraged me, and most of all she just gave me a good Mama Lela hug.

And if I hadn't had anyone else ask me if I was ok for the whole weekend, that would have been enough. ;)

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

SHE: The Battleground Reflections(4)

One of the major paradigm shifts that hit me over the weekend has to do with The Actor. I'm not going to go into details; let me just say that we have had an ongoing battle w/responsibility as it pertains to schoolwork since grade 4. On Labor Day, I checked the online grade posts and, well, the explosion you heard that day was my reaction to the abysmal numbers I saw there.

But it matters...if he has a grade below 70 on his report card, he gets booted from the magnet program.

So we did the Serious Talks (or, as he calls it, the Series of Lectures) again. PTA open house was last Tuesday; his drama teacher set him down and straight up got in his face with the serious ultimatums: either turn it around, or you'll be pulled from the one act.

After last week's youth group session, he came home and rather sheepishly said that his youth pastor had preached the very things he'd been hearing from all of us regarding his schoolwork for the previous two days. That was encouraging, but I still wasn't sure whether or not anything would change.

"What is wrong? What's the problem? What happened to him?" were questions I was both asking and being asked. The answer was...I don't know. The best explanation he had was that, while he expected this year to be difficult (he has three AP classes), it was much more difficult than he expected and he just wasn't ready for it and dropped the ball.

I was frustrated and angry with him. We have been over it and over it and over it but it wasn't changing.

Then...Saturday afternoon's breakout session. Susan Dyer spoke on Nehemiah and the disgrace of Jerusalem...and how Nehemiah approached the situation. She gave us a worksheet with some specific things to list. She told us to focus on one situation in our lives which needed to 'no longer be a disgrace' (Neh. 2:17) and answer a series of questions about it:

1. Define the problem: - a) What's at stake? b) What needs to be addressed c) What will happen if this need goes unaddressed?
2. Offer a solution: a) Present a clear, compelling solution; b) What goals must be set to accomplish this mission? c) Write a testimony as if the victory were already won.


As I wrote out answers to those questions, with the Actor's situation in mind, I suddenly remembered one of the principles of spiritual warfare: If there is no apparent natural cause, there's a good chance there is a supernatural cause.

This was a spiritual attack; the enemy is going after my son's destiny.

I realized that we'd been approaching it all wrong; he needs to be fighting a spiritual battle.

And every time he picks up his pen..or sits at the computer...with the intent to work diligently with excellence, he fights the battle. When he refuses to listen to the lying thoughts that tell him the work is too hard, he fights the battle. When he chooses to work instead of play, he fights the battle.

I told him all this between the afternoon and evening sessions; he received it well. I prayed over him the testimony I'd written as part of the exercise.

I literally felt something shift in the atmosphere of the house.

Is the war over? No...but at least we are fighting the right enemy now.

And if I had received no other instruction on the warfare in my own life, that would have been enough.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

SHE: The Battleground Reflections (3)

Well, we are computer sharing...two kids needed the computer this evening so I'm propping my eyelids open tonight since I couldn't get to the computer ahead of them.

So I'm not going for deep tonight, but the conference was applicable on so many levels, and I'll just share one of the simple things I carried away. One of the other deaconesses does dance as worship, and she opened the Thursday night session w/ a dance to a song I've never heard before (I'll google it one of these days)...'War Cry', by Michah Stampley.

As I watched it, I realized it would be a fabulous song for the Friends class to use in a human video... and we do 'Battle Stations', a unit on spiritual warfare, in next year's rotation.

So, yeah, there's a lot to glean when women get together to go after God. ;)

Monday, September 14, 2009

SHE: The Battleground Reflections (2)

This is from one of the Friday afternoon breakout sessions:

Dawn talked about a crushing counseling load she had at one time. It was beyond her to be able to deal with the number of folks that were requesting counseling sessions. After some talk w/others in her ministry, they decided to require a bit of time investment from potential counselees.

The requirement was to spend 10 hours seeking God on their own...the suggestion was during lunchtime...before coming in for counseling. Actually, if I remember right, she said she told the folks to spend the 10 hours with God and then call the office about counseling. Not 10 hours reading the Bible...10 hours in prayer, with journaling.

Dawn asked the ladies their to guess how many people out of the dozens on the list actually followed the instructions, then called.

I guessed five. The correct answer was...zero.

The implication was that people are not willing to invest themselves in their own spiritual future. I don't know if it's possible that some folks *did* spend the time seeking God and then found they actually didn't need the counseling or not; she didn't go into that much detail. I'd like to give people the benefit of the doubt and assume that that was the case, but I really think it's probably just that no one persevered in seeking God.

We all want shortcuts. Someone with 'A Word' to us to take the responsibility of seeking our own direction off of us.

Folks, I got convicted. I see the powerful anointing on the ladies who spoke and our own pastors and I know that did not come cheap or easy or at the word of someone else. It came because they paid the price in time seeking God.

I'm not sure how or when, but I'm going to put a box on the sidebar...'seeking time', I'll call it...to just keep me accountable to you all to do some seeking myself. It's time I quit moaning that I don't have a 'spiritual mentor' and just go for God myself.

And if I were not challenged to do anything else over the weekend, that would have been enough.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

SHE: The Battleground Reflections

This COULD go for pages and pages, you know...

Or maybe I'll just split it up into different posts and make this the Topic of the Week. Yeah, that's it.

Thursday night leaders meeting was a bit of a training session. Since we were to be working the altars during the conference ministering to women, we first ministered to each other. I'm not going to go into details, but I will say that what I heard from the lady who was my 'practice partner', and whom I knew by face and name only, was a tremendous encouragement to me. She spoke to me in terms that applied directly to a dream of mine, one that I was beginning to think was just something I'd wasted time on...indulging my whims rather than following God. There was no way she could've known anything about it...in fact, she rather couched the words in phrases to make them less specific than they were, because they sounded odd to her. But they made sense to me.

Now, to be sure, I don't know anything more about timing or even ultimately if that dream will ever come to any kind of fruition. But I wouldn't have heard the words I heard if God didn't have a purpose for the writing of it.

My heart was encouraged. And if I'd heard nothing else all weekend that moved me, that would have been enough.

Friday, September 11, 2009

More Streaming

It's 11:11...and I'm still processing, so I'm not coherent enough to talk sensibly about what I'm getting from the conference yet.

But I did want to pass along that we were informed that the morning sessions will be on the web as well as the evening...so you can hear from Susan Dyer at 10 AM CDT tomorrow as well as Dawn Sweigart at 6:30 PM CDT tomorrow evening.

It's been good...and I've gotten some real encouragement! But I'm headed for a meeting with my pillow and I'm late! ;)

Thursday, September 10, 2009

SHE Revolution: Battleground This Weekend!

There's a meeting for the ladies in leadership tonight to start the conference. I'm really glad that's been scheduled, since often those in leadership are busy doing jobs that mean not fully participating in all the sessions.

The team that is coming this year is the same group of ladies that came to the first RFWC women's conference I attended back in 2001; they returned three more years but haven't been here as a team in 5 years. I know one of the ladies, Dawn Sweigart, has an amazing testimony of healing that has happened since we last heard from her; Teri Furr has gotten married and is now a mom and Rita Springer adopted a little boy...they've all had significant life changes. It's going to be really good to hear what God has given them.

But...the good news is that the Friday and Saturday evening services will be broadcast live on the church website (Click 'Live on the Web' under Central Campus or click on the SHE Rev promo when it comes up on the scroll) . We start at 6:30 Central time w/worship...if you're interested and have time, give a listen!

I'll *try* to blog my responses...if I'm awake enough when I get home. ;)

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Puddles IN the car?

According to our online hourly forecast, today was supposed to vary from sunny to partly cloudy, with only a 10% chance of rain.

I left the windows on the momvan cracked about 1 1/2" , put the sunshade up and went into my windowless office. Without the umbrella, I might add.

10 minutes before time for me to leave, we had a bone fide severe thunderstorm, complete w/National Weather Service warning, dump a boatload of rain and a bit of hail on the center of the Rocket City...right where I was. Of course, I'd completely forgotten about the cracked windows.

When I finally was able to exit the building without drowning, I was shocked to find water in the car. The doors were dripping, the dashboard was dripping, the sunshade was dripping. There was a puddle in the cell phone tray in the cupholder; the umbrella lying on the floor had water standing in it also. I couldn't figure out what happened. Then I noticed the gap at the top of the windows. Oh, yeah...

My backside was rather damp by the time I got home, too.

Maybe I should find a new weather info source....

Monday, September 7, 2009

History Repeats...

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

During the fast last week, I spent some time reading the book of Jeremiah (actually, I'm reading through the Bible w/my Friends club class, and Jeremiah happens to be where I am at the moment). I read chapters 37 - 49, which covers the days before, during, and after the fall of Jerusalem to the Babylonians. I've read this before...taught it before (there's an interesting character study of Zedekiah in those chapters), but this time it struck me very differently and I found myself almost weeping over the folks of that time and the loss of their city and their sovereignty.

Jeremiah 37:2 jumped out at me and grieved me, and I think that stayed with me as I read the following chapters:

Neither [Zedekiah] nor his attendants nor the people of the land paid any attention to the words the LORD had spoken through Jeremiah the prophet.

From that point on, the book is a litany of the sad things the people experienced and losses they endured because they would not pay attention to the words God spoke through Jeremiah.

They all considered Jeremiah, at best, a crackpot and, at worst, a traitor. His words did not match what the political, religious and social leaders of the day believed. So they paid no attention.

At one point, Jeremiah even told them, 'You made a fatal mistake when you sent me to the LORD your God and said, "...tell us everything He says and we will do it."' He knew the people had already made up their minds as to what they would do, and, again, they paid no attention to what he said and followed their own course of action. They said, "You're lying! The LORD our God has not sent you to say [that]! But Baruch son of Neriah is inciting you against us to hand us over to the Babylonians, so they may kill us or carry us into exile to Babylon." (43:2b-3). So they went to Egypt anyway.

None of the folks that went to Egypt against Jeremiah's instruction returned. No child of theirs returned. Jeremiah told them the truth. Only no one was left to acknowledge it.

I see many people who are honest servants of God being considered, at best, crackpots and, at worst, hatemongers and traitors. If I'm honest, I wasn't just grieving for the fallen of ancient Judah...I was grieving for my own people, who cannot allow themselves to consider that maybe, just maybe, what those servants of God are proclaiming to them may be the truth.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Peace in the Storm

I finally got to try my hand at painting...something I've never really done before.
During our 'night of worship' services, we frequently have a group of folks doing artwork over to the side, as part of an expression of worship. Some of the paintings produced have been quite powerful...they're always amazing.

'Course, the folks who do that actually have some artistic talent. Me, not so much. But I thought it looked like it would be a fun thing to do. And, today we had a 'mother daughter pre-SHE paint party' after church...with worship music playing and paint and canvases available for moms and junior high girls to experiment with letting the Spirit flow with creativity and painting.

This started out to be a picture of flowers. But, when I was painting the background, I saw stormclouds in the brushstrokes...and flipped the painting 180 degrees and started working with that idea. Then I had a rock in the sea...waves crashing against it...and finally, a bird sitting on a nest on the rock.

Peaceful in the midst of the storm's fury.

'Course, not everyone saw that...at least, not right off the bat.

I attempted a second painting, but, well, I was not competent enough to express what I was reaching for and that mess will probably go in the trash can.

It was interesting...and surprisingly difficult. Painting is not my gift.

But I'm glad I did it.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Change of Plan: An Unscheduled Break

We have some events coming up at church in the near future that have the potential to impact many lives; for that reason, our Pastor has called the church to a seven-day fast for alignment and focusing ourselves on hearing God in preparation for these.
This will be a Fast of Submission, and, as part of my fasting, I will be doing another internet break.

If you're curious about fasting, our Pastor has posted some simple fasting guidelines

Guess that will give me a good chance to sharpen the sword, eh?

I'll be back next Sunday! ;)

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Days Like This...

Honey, you know, sometimes 'sugars out'. It's easy enough to fix; you just set the jar in a pan of hot water until the honey liquefies again.

But, what if your jar is a plastic squeeze bottle?

It's impossible to get the granulated honey out of the bottle into a glass container; I thought I'd just set the bottle in the hot water until it 'just' got hot enough to liquefy the honey and then pull it out fast.

Unfortunately, on Wednesday when this event actually took place, The Flute Player was a bit late leaving for school and the moment she left I dashed off to get into the shower.

Forgetting completely about the honey on the stove.

When I came back down half an hour later, the bottle had blown up like a football. It hadn't ruptured...but when I pulled it out of the water it all collapsed. Wouldn't even stand up.

I kinda propped it up so it could cool...but, wow...



I didn't think about it, but the general consensus is that the honey has been contaminated by random plastic molecules, since it was heated to the expansion point.

Rats.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Prep Work 2: Sharpen the Sword

Tuesday night there was a prayer meeting called for the deaconesses in the church to come together and pray for the women's conference. We were exhorted to go aside from our routine and let God deal with us as individuals...so that we would be ready to minister to the women who are coming.

The specific word was, 'Sharpen your sword'.

So I'm going to look at a couple of verses today, just because they were the first ones that popped into my spirit when I heard 'Sharpen your sword'.

(NOTE: what follows is exactly what I learned, written as I found it. Sorry it's so long...it's a paradigm shift and I haven't completely processed it yet. But it's very interesting!)

Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. - Eph. 6:17

For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart - Heb. 4:12


Whoa. Brain freeze.

See, I have been mulling this over for the last couple of days as I went about the necessary business of life, thinking about what it means and how I need to apply it to sharpen my sword. Thinking it is about digging into my Bible and refreshing myself on the truths contained there-in.

But, as I just typed those words out, reading them for the umpety-ump-umpth time, I suddenly realized something.

When Paul and the author of Hebrews wrote those words, there was no Bible. All they had was the Law and the Prophets....and the common folk did not have access to copies of those. It certainly wasn't available to the Gentiles living in Ephesus. They probably weren't even terribly familiar with the Hebrew scriptures.

But, according to my dispensational upbringing, 'the word of the Lord' always means the written word...the Bible. So I pulled out the Zodhiates and looked it up.

The Greek word used in Heb. 4:12 is, indeed, logos (Strongs # 3056). Okay, I thought, that actually is the written word. But, when I looked it up in the Word Study Dictionary, I found this (I have omitted the rather lengthy descriptions of the secondary meanings):

-[taken from the noun lego - 'to speak intelligently.']Intelligence, word as the expression of that intelligence, discourse, saying, thing.
I - Word, both the act of speaking and the thing spoken.
A) Word, as uttered by the living voice.
B) An emphatic word, meaning a saying, declaration, sentiment uttered.
C) Word or words, meaning talk, discourse, speech, the act of holding forth
D) Word, meaning talk, rumor, report.

II. - Reason, the reasoning Faculty as that power of the soul which is the basis of speech, rationality.
A) A reason, ground, cause
B) Reason as demanded or assigned, meaning reckoning, account

III - The word
Logos in [John's writings] stands for the preincarnate Christ, the spiritual, divine nature spoken of in the Jewish writings before and about the time of Christ, under various names, e.g. Son of man

Wow. The Greek word that I had always thought specified the written word doesn't imply anything about writing...it has to do w/speech.

File that and go on to the next one...because the word used in Ephesians, the one specifically referring to the weapon we are to wield, is rhema. That, I've always been told, is the 'proceeding word'...a word spoken from God to one's spirit.
Here's what the Word Study Dictionary has to say about rhema (Strong's # 4487):

-[taken from the noun rheo, 'to speak'] That which is spoken, a statement, a word.

I. Particularly a word as uttered by a living voice.

II. Collectively, word, pl. words, meaning saying, speech, discourse.

III. In the New Testament usage, often it has a particular meaning depending on the adjuncts or context:
A. Charge, accusation
B. Prediction, prophecy, equivalent to
rhemata proeiremena, sayings foretold. Rhemata tou Theou, sayings of God.
C. Promise from God
D. Command
E. Spoken of a teacher, word teaching, precept, doctrine...
F. A pronouncement from God.

IV. Metonymically* for things spoken of, a matter, affair.

Syn
logos, the expression of thought, while rhema stands for the subject spoken about...

(*I had to look up 'metonymy' in the American Heritage Dictionary...it is defined as 'a figure of speech in which an idea is evoked or named by means of a term designating some associated notion.')

So...I don't really think I can so easily say now that logos is the written word and rhema is the revelatory word anymore. They both have the connotation of being spoken by a living voice. Actually, buried in the descriptive terms of application III - E of rhema is 'word of God...of the Lord, meaning the doctrines and promises of God revealed and taught in the Bible.'

Definitely a paradigm shift.

Obviously, the written word does fit aspects of both terms; but it appears that the word God speaks to us as individuals is the sword that pierces us and the weapon in our hand. It includes the written word and will never contradict it, but...if I'm going to sharpen my sword, what I really need to do is clean out my ears and shake off any sluggishness (throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles...Heb. 12:1) so that I can respond to the Word that He quickens in my spirit instantly.

Lord I want to hear Your voice more clearly; I want to obey more immediately; bring your Holy Whetstone that the Sword will be swift and sure in my life....

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Whaddya Think About Dreams?

Ok, I'm not talking about those secret dreams of life goals; I'm talking about dreams that come when you're sleeping.

Sometimes I remember dreams, sometimes I don't. Sometimes a dream is burned into my brain and it bugs me.

I've got a notebook in which I record the dreams that I wake up thinking about...at least, most of them. There are one or two creepy ones that I remember but can't bring myself to record on paper.

I have a couple of 'scenario' dreams that repeat with slight variations.

Some folks say dreams are just the brain discharging; others say dreams are a subconscious way to deal with issues we aren't facing...and there's an application for prophetic dreaming, too.

I kinda think it's all of the above at one time or another.

I *don't* think someone can make blanket statements about what symbols mean in dreams. It's too personal...what symbolizes A to someone may symbolize B to someone else.

Anyway, I just thought I'd throw the topic out for further discussion later. I may even write about some of the dreams I had and what I concluded from them...or, how perplexed I am by them.

At the very least, that opens up a whole 'nuther souce for blog post material! ;)

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Bible Survey, Anyone?

The program we use for our girls ministry is, by rights, an Assembly of God product. We're not an AG church, but we use the literature just the same.

Back in the day, it went through, oh, early high school. To earn the honors, the girls had to do a ton of memorization and read the entire Bible.

When they added the jr high/high school classes some time ago, they altered the program, putting what had been the top honor in the grade 3-5 club; changing up requirements a bit and only requiring the girls to read the New Testament. They added honor requirements for the older girls;  The Friends Club (jr high) then had to read the Bible through in their three years in order to earn their honors.

But, there's no 'step up' for the high school class. After reading the entire Bible in three years, the high school girls are then required to read it through in four years.

That just sounds kinda, well, lackluster to me.

So, since we're just starting the high school class this year, we decided to add a twist to the 'read the Bible through in 4 years' requirement.

As the girls read, they will be asked to write a one-sentence summary of each chapter. When finishing the book, then they use the page (or two!) of summaries to outline the book and write the theme statement.

There's no right or wrong answers...it's how each girl will decipher what she reads.

When she's done, she'll have a notebook of loose-leaf pages containing her own personal outline of the Bible.

Now *that's* a step up!

(I'm still 'reading the Bible through' with my Friends - the Junior High - class. When I finish, I'm going to start my own Bible Survey notebook. Just to keep up with the class....)

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Must. Carry. Notebook.

I think I've had about 5 good ideas for blog posts today as I walked through the List of Things I Had To Do.

And, now that I have time to actually sit in front of the computer, my mind has gone totally blank.

I think I need to carry a little notebook around to remind myself of the Good Ideas.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Showin' the Armadillo

posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

Question: Why did the chicken cross the road?
Answer: To show the armadillo it could be done.

A little over a year and a half ago, we had a crisis at church. One of our associate pastors fell into a moral error. There was a public confession, apology and rebuke. There was much prayer for restoration. Then, there was nothing more said publicly; there were no rumors flying around.

It was grievous; if it happened to these particular folks, believe me, it could happen to anybody. I saw how vulnerable we as humans are to such things...and I distinctly recall hearing the Spirit warn me "If you judge others, you will open the door to that attack in your own life." These folks were/are friends of mine; I joined my heart to pray for them as well.

But an amazing thing happened. Both the (now former) associate pastor and his wife, and the other person involved and her husband continued to attend church...in the beginning, different services. There was counseling, there was prayer.

There was warfare. But the right kind.

And there was true repentance and reconciliation. Not overnight...but it happened.

This past Sunday, our pastor spoke on restoration...the kind of restoration God does when we allow Him to humble us and remake what has been broken. For the first time in a year and a half, he mentioned the situation that arose two years ago.

And, in the face of overwhelming odds, we now have two marriages that have been restored. It was time to tell the congregation that the process has been completed and the folks involved were released to lay ministry in the body once again.

A chicken is not a very likely bird to set an example, is it? But...if the chicken is willing to go through the dry, hard place, led by the Master, and keeps moving, it will, eventually, get to the other side.

It can be done.

I don't know if our pastoral leadership, or any of the folks involved will ever wander by here and read this. But, just in case they do...from the bottom of my heart, thank you for sticking to God through this and showing any who look that it can be done.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

How Six People Name a Cat

I think most folks that come by here also read the sewing blog; I mentioned over there that we acquired a kitty last week. There was a bit of a mistake in the kitty gender at first; now we are satisfied that the cat is a boy.

(ETA again...weeks later...we were right the first time; Frisco is a girl...)

And any animal that resides with a family must have a name.

Do you have any idea how difficult it is to find a name that satisfies six people? I thought we'd just play with the cat a bit and then we'd all see what name fits.

Ha ha and ha!

During the days of gender confusion, we picked several girly names, none of which really satisfied anyone. We were a bit relieved to decide it was a boy, after all, and something masculine would be appropriate. As The Princess said, there's a ton of good boy cat names in the world.

Trouble is, we couldn't agree on any of them.

What names were suggested, you ask?
Chicago (let's just say our family is aware of someone else who goes by that name and leave it at that?)
Oliver (too sweet)
Chester (um, that's the name of a really annoying puppet in our children's church ministry. Some members of the family objected.)
Rambo (I personally vetoed any names relating to Sylvester Stallone)
Bean (to those familiar with the Ender saga, Bean was a brilliant street urchin who was rescued and sent to the military school. Sorta fits, but, well, only the Actor and I have read those books so no one else appreciated it)
Boo (Only The Actor liked this one)

The list goes on, but you get the idea. Today at lunch, the Princess announced, "We should name this cat. Seriously!"

Personally, I didn't think Seriously was a great name. (baDUMdum)

He was being exceptionally playful at the moment, and, as we watched him bounce around, someone suggested 'Frisky'.

Nope. That's cat food.

"What about Frisco?" I asked, just for grins.

To my surprise, no one immediately objected. It was quirky enough for those who required quirkiness, short enough for those who wanted simple, and totally unrelated to anyone we knew. A quick family poll and...


Meet The Frisco Kitty:





Whew.

ETA: The Flute Player just read that entry and insisted that I correct something. After discussion, we decided that 'Frisky' suggested 'Frisco' to both of us, independently, and *she* was actually the one who brought it up to the rest of the family. I thought she was just echoing my suggestion, but she insists that she never heard me say it. So, to satisfy her little melancholy heart, I must set the record straight, lest anyone think it was I and not she who actually put the name before the family.

Whew again.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Relative Mathematics

Posted by Lisa Laree to Beer Lahai Roi

I haven't posted any creative writing for a while...maybe it's time... ;)

A number of years ago I was in a debate w/a friend about absolute truth. He really could not accept that such a thing existed. Basically, he believed he could define his own spiritual reality without regard to absolutes. This little story was a response to that discussion.


Banking by Relative Mathematics

Once upon a time, there was a bank. It was a normal bank and carried on its banking business in the normal way. Into this bank one day a young man walked...we’ll call him Joe. Joe opened an account with the bank and deposited two hundred dollars into the bank. The bank was happy, Joe was happy. It was good.

The next week, Joe walked into the bank and deposited another two hundred dollars into his account. The bank was very happy to receive his money, Joe was happy that his money was well taken care of. It was still good.

The problem started about three days later, when Joe found a TV he wished to purchase for five hundred dollars. Being somewhat distrustful of checks and credit cards, Joe decided to pay cash for his TV and went to the bank and attempted to withdraw five hundred dollars from his account. The bank teller was as polite as she could be, but she still had to inform Joe that he could not withdraw five hundred dollars...he had only deposited four hundred dollars.

Joe began to be just a bit testy. "I put two hundred dollars into this account last week and I put two hundred dollars into this account three days ago, right?"

Looking at his transaction file, the teller agreed that that was correct.

"Well, according to my personal perception of mathematical truth, that adds up to five hundred dollars. I’ll take it now, please."

The teller was dumbfounded. "But, sir, everyone knows that two hundred and two hundred is only four hundred!"

Now Joe was beginning to be irate. "I’m sorry, I do not agree with the axioms upon which mathematics is based. No one can prove them to be true. I think it is exceedingly intolerant of you to insist that the popular application of mathematics is the only true one. You are imposing your belief system on me, and I do not appreciate it. All my life people have refused to consider that my viewpoint is a valid viewpoint; from kindergarten on I have been ridiculed and persecuted for my beliefs. As I see it, two plus two equals five, and you are denying the validity of my person by stubbornly denying the validity of my belief!"

The teller was beginning to be a bit nervous, now, and wondered if she should signal the security guard. However, just at that moment, a rather good-looking man in impeccable business attire stepped up and spoke to Joe.

"Do forgive me for intruding, but I couldn’t help but overhear. I must say, I entirely sympathize with your viewpoint."


Both surprised, Joe and the teller said at the same time, "You do?" The fact that Joe spoke with hopeful delight and the teller spoke with profound incredulity seemed to mean nothing to the gentleman as he continued.

"Yes, yes. Allow me to introduce myself. I am Murphy Stoffies," the gentleman said, handing Joe a business card as he continued, "My business associates and I have felt for years that the current intolerant treatment of mathematical truth must be shown to be completely unworkable for today’s society. We have opened a banking establishment especially for those who, like yourself, have been disenfranchised from society due to their mathematical views. If you would care to withdraw your funds from this traditional, narrow-minded organization and deposit them with our firm, you will find that you will be allowed complete freedom to interpret mathematical function as it best suits your pursuit of the truth. You will only have to agree with them as to your balance today, then hereafter you will be free to define your terms yourself."

Well, Joe thought that was just the best thing he’d heard in years, so he rather dismally agreed with the clerk that he could only withdraw four hundred dollars, closed his account, and accompanied Mr. Stoffies across town to the unorthodox banking establishment he’d recommended. Sure enough, one of the forms Joe signed as part of the account-opening process included the following statement: We hereby agree that the mathematical principles applied to the computation of any monies deposited in this institution, as well as any interest accrued thereon, will be solely determined by the signatory individual(s), pursuant to the declarations of such individual(s) and deferring any differences between such determinations and the popular application of mathematics to Higher Accounting, whose calculations shall not be applicable to said individual(s) so long as this institution is in valid business relationship with said individual(s). There followed some more confusing language in small print, which Joe understood to mean that whatever differences this had with the way the popular mathematical principles would compute his bank balance would be referred to an advocate who would protect him from such differences. Joe happily signed the papers, deposited his money, then promptly withdrew five hundred dollars and purchased his TV in time to watch the Super Bowl. Once again, Joe was happy. The bank seemed happy enough.

This went on for some time. Joe made his deposits regularly and regularly withdrew whatever he required to purchase whatever he wanted. His lifestyle increased gradually, until one day he was in to make his weekly deposit and ran into a gentleman who was withdrawing a large sum of money. The gentleman turned to Joe and asked him what mathematical principles he was using to regulate his account. Joe, proud of his theories, explained that he believed that two plus two equals five and operated his account accordingly. To his consternation, the gentleman laughed at him.

"My, what a simple, low-returning formula!" Then he looked at him. "Listen, son, you need to really get your teeth into this. Let me tell you what I do. You do know that in conventional, uninformed mathematics division by zero is undefined?"

Joe agreed that he had heard that, but didn’t really understand it. The gentleman smiled. "Well, all you have to do is define it yourself...say, anything divided by zero automatically doubles...or triples…or whatever, then come in and divide your holdings by zero on a regular basis. You’ll soon have more money than you’ll know what to do with!"

Joe considered this and decided it was superior to his way of manipulating his money...so he filled out the proper paperwork and began regularly dividing his account balance by zero. Suddenly, Joe was wealthy. He purchased an executive home and a sports car. He vacationed on the Riviera. Life was good.

Until the day Joe went to the bank to divide his balance again and was directed to yet another gentleman in impeccable business attire. Joe thought nothing of the uniformed policemen standing about, until he noticed that the man who had recommended the practice of dividing by zero was in handcuffs, giving a statement to one of the policemen. Now, Joe began to be apprehensive.

"What’s going on?" He inquired of the businessman as he gave him his account number.

"Oh, it’s nothing to be alarmed at." The gentleman stated in a soothing manner. "It’s just time to settle the accounts."

Joe was puzzled. "Settle the accounts? What accounts?"

Again, the man was unruffled, "Why, the accounts that represent the sums you have spent in excess of your deposits and earnings at this institution." The gentleman typed a few numbers into his laptop computer. "Ah, yes, you have a sizeable outstanding balance."

Joe stuttered, "Outstanding balance? I should have millions in my account."

The gentleman smiled ruefully and shook his head. "Yes, that’s what everyone has said. I’m afraid you have been misinformed."

Joe was beginning to be angry. "Misinformed? What do you mean, I’ve been misinformed? It’s all nice and legal that I could determine the mathematical formulas myself."

Again, the gentleman shook his head. "I see you still don’t understand. I am the State Bank Examiner, and I’m afraid I must tell you that this establishment had no authority under the laws of our state to operate as a financial institution. In fact, the papers you signed merely authorized the officials of this establishment to take out loans in your name for the monies that you withdrew beyond that which you actually had available to you. Furthermore, according to the papers you signed, those loans are due in full upon demand. I’m afraid if you cannot pay the debt, you are guilty of fraud and liable to arrest and imprisonment."

Joe leaned over the examiner’s shoulder and read the balance he saw on the screen. All the color drained from his face and he made a little mewling sound as his knees buckled and he fell into the arms of the policeman nearest him. His jaw worked before he managed to get the words out of his mouth. "How...how can you do this? I was told...everyone said...I didn’t have to follow the commonly accepted mathematical principles."

The bank examiner sighed. "Do you really believe those principles exist just because people have taken a fancy to them? Even the people who started this place know better than that. Mr. Stoffies is wanted in seven states for fraud and theft by deception. It is a scam – they persuade people to invest with them under the most unbelievable conditions, then run up huge debts in the names of their clients and abscond with any money the clients did not spend, leaving the ‘bank depositors’ liable for all the debts. However, the irony is that in the paperwork you signed is a small paragraph stating that you acknowledge that you are, in effect, borrowing money which you will pay back on demand when the bank is no longer in business. This ‘bank’ declared bankruptcy this morning; Mr. Stoffies and his cohorts are long gone and you," here he nodded at the other gentleman in handcuffs as he continued, "and your fellow bank customers are left with all the debts."

Joe had progressed beyond shock to anger. "But...but...that’s not fair! He said I would be allowed to apply mathematics as I understood them! What right have you to say I am not correct?"

Now the bank examiner began to lose his patience. "I am sorry that I am the one to tell you this, if you have lived all your life without anyone ever telling you before. It would have saved you much trouble had you understood this before the accounts were due." He stood up and looked Joe squarely in the eye. "The principles and axioms of common mathematics are not the result of popular preference. Mathematics is founded upon those principles and axioms because they are true. They were true before people figured them out. They will be true long after you and I have left the earth. They are true whether anyone believes them or not. One plus one will always be two. A plus B will always be the same as B plus A. It is absolutely impossible to divide anything by nothing. You chose not to accept that, to believe the lies of someone whose sole motivation was your deception, either directly or through others he had likewise deceived. He could not have deceived any of you if you had decided to believe the truth originally told to you. Now you owe a debt you cannot pay." He nodded to the policeman, who put handcuffs on Joe, reciting as he did, "You have the right to remain silent...."

The bank examiner watched as Joe, shocked again into complicity, was led away. Then he sighed sadly as he sat back down and wearily repeated, "Next case."

Friday, August 21, 2009

Prep Work - 1: The Comfortable Trap

I can't really call these lessons...more like reflections.

SHE Revolution Women's conference is a mere three weeks off.

I am extremely aware that I am not ready for it. The fallow ground needs to be broken; the callouses (which re-form with amazing speed!) softened. I'm comfortable within the bounds of normal, and that makes me frustrated with myself.

Because the more time I spend in this Christian thing, the more I realize that 'comfortable' is not a good place.

Anyway, our Staff Prayer speaker this week was one of our youth pastors. She spoke about the verse that says 'For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God' (Romans 3:23). Speaking to pastors and church staff, she pointed out that most of us have dealt with the sin issue: we know what we ought and ought not to do. But, she said, we still fall short of the glory that God has for us.

That was a new application of that verse to me and it really started me thinking. Walking in the glory of God is exciting, exhilarating, amazing and often terrifying. It is also extremely uncomfortable.

But our human nature wants to be secure and comfortable. I was reminded of Numbers chapter 32, in which the Reubenites, Gadites and the half tribe of Manasseh elected to stay on the east side of the Jordan...where they were comfortable...rather than taking everything across the Jordan and settling in the land of God's promise. They'd been moving and wandering for 40 years...and now, with the promise just across the river, they decided to quit.

How often do I look at some area of my life, and, even subconsciously think, 'This is ok here,' rather than pulling up stakes and moving yet again, perhaps even for the final time, into the promise. And I stop short of the glory.

Food for thought.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

I've gotten lazy

*hangs head*

What has happened to my little faith blog?

One post a week ain't cuttin' it.

I went back and re-read some of my earlier posts; some of them surprise me now. Wow, I think, That was good

I don't know if I've hit middle-age mind fog, or if I've just hit such a commitment load that I can't even take time to do some self- examination and rumination anymore.

Either way, it's sad.

And I just realized I typed 'little faith blog' at the top.

Question: is it a little blog...or is it little faith?

As in, I've quit stretching to write? I've looked at the bloglines numbers and let myself get discouraged? Silly me. I should know better.

Ouch.

Time to shake things up a bit. I'm going to try to blog daily for a while.

And a part of me actually cringed when I wrote that. So that must mean I need it. ;)