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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

1st day of school

stewart -- 2nd grade
ashley -- 8th grade (first row, in front of teacher)
autumn -- 5th grade

making Him proud

Do you ever get the idea that maybe God frowns upon technological advances? You know, like He's upset that man is edging toward greater abilities?

Maybe because of the Tower of Babel story where God scattered the peoples of the earth because they tried to assault the regions of heaven. The key factor in that story is the arrogance that preceded their building. They were going to take their greatness to the very height of authority. God said no -- His domain is not up for contest.

Good lesson for everybody.

Now, take another approach. Maybe God smiles, yes, actually smiles on inventors and scientists. Maybe like I do when my little boy gets a hard word right on the first try or when my daughter writes a beautiful poem. Maybe He had a sort-of divine "all right!" feeling when Thomas Edison switched on the lights for the world or when Alexander Graham Bell figured out how to transmit sound over wires. Don't you think He was happy when vaccines were discovered and when doctors were able to perform surgery on the tiny chambers of the heart of a precious unborn child? Maybe He was excited when man finally learned enough to land on the moon and when the technology of the Internet was developed.

Maybe He says "You're getting it, I knew you could." One thing I know for sure, He is never threatened by our advances. He doesn't fear our abilities or our gifts. He GAVE them after all. What parent is disappointed when his child uses his talents and achieves great things? Not many I know.

I think the Father longs to be proud of us. He wants to show off to Satan the excellence in His children, despite the corruption of a fallen world. That's why our hearts are so important. It's the attitude that makes the difference.

Go out and do something great today and make your Father proud.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

winning the gold

The phenomenon of swimmer Michael Phelps has added dazzle to the Beijing Olympics. This young man has captured the admiration of the world with his physical prowess and his good-natured attitude. Winning 8 gold medals and holding the record for the most gold medals in history has added a touch of the surreal to his image. Now everyone wants to be close to the winner -- the advertisers, his hometown, the press, etc.

That's exactly the way it was in ancient times. The winner at the games was declared divine; the people sometimes prayed to him. When the emperor placed the laurel wreath on his head, it signified the ultimate accomplishment.

Everyone loves a winner. It touches something deep inside us to watch someone achieve a great victory. We want to glory in it, enjoy the thrill by proxy, absorb the glow emanating from the hero.

The apostle Paul used the games to illustrate the race of the Christian life. He refers to the crown which the Lord will give to all those who love His appearing. Winning in that game has eternal rewards.

Having gold placed around your neck and watching the Stars and Stripes being raised must be a moment that defies words. Having gold placed on your head and hearing "Well done, good and faithful servant" will be a moment that defines true glory.

Winners are meant for gold -- both now and hereafter.

Monday, August 18, 2008

meant to be "lite"

OK, the previous post was meant to be "lite" stuff! I think either you guys are feeling sorry for me 'cause you think I'm "downing" myself or you're a little too squeamish to admit you and your husband have some differences too! (thanks, Beth, for commenting!)

Relax, girlfriends, everything's cool. You hear me? Just a little fun since I usually lean toward the philosophical stuff.............

Thursday, August 14, 2008

the sheriff and I

My husband and I are like Andy and Barney. Not in looks! In the way we approach life.

Like Andy, the calm and unruffled sheriff, my husband faces life with a can-do, no-worries attitude and loves a bit of good sarcasm.

Like Barney, the sentimental and high-strung deputy, I am apt to make a big deal out of things which seem earth-shattering to me and have a tendency to stubbornness.

True to the story line, he helps me remember that the sky really isn't falling although I usually resent his matter-of-fact comments which Barney would term "purposely obtuse."

My sense of humor usually rates about as high as Barney's does with Andy, though, in real life, I am sadly lacking next to the great Don Knotts. There are other notable differences -- I do not have the ability to "eat and eat and eat and never gain weight." I am not "wiry like us Fifes." (but my memory and pronunciation are far better than his!) And my detail-oriented husband wouldn't be caught dead in shiny black boots which are perpetually unzipped. He doesn't play the guitar, but he can do a mean fiddle tune!

Also, we don't have Aunt Bea to fix the food and can the pickles (though I wish we did sometimes!)

Of course, the biggest difference is that we're not only friends, we're partners in a marriage that has been going strong for almost 19 years. And because we're human, sometimes we irritate each other; sometimes we laugh together. But, we're friends for life. We always come through for the other in a pinch. And though our differences make days in the sheriff's office interesting, we know that we wouldn't want to tackle the job without the other.

"You beat everything, you know that, Barn?"

I love ya, Honey.......

Sunday, August 10, 2008

leave your mark

Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time.

(Henry Wadsworth Longfellow)

Maybe its the residue of eternity past, maybe its the fear of insignificance. Whatever the root, leaving a mark on earth's wall is what we all want to do.

Pictures, awards, documents, journals, relationships, books, sculptures, paintings -- these are the ways we try to leave our record for the generations.

It's more than cosmic graffiti; it's not just an adolescent reminder that "I was here." It's a deep desire to do something that establishes remembrance and significance.

Creating something which takes your breath away is the precursor to wondering how to preserve it, to keep the sands of time from submerging it. We backup our hard drives, save it on a CD, keep carbon copies, store photos in archival quality sleeves, cover artifacts with glass, and do whatever we can to ensure the longevity of our creativity.

We gaze at the pyramids and admire the Pharaohs for thinking up such a testament to their existence. We stare in wonder at the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel and admit Michelangelo painted his way into history. Even busts and death masks of famous people were created so that their likenesses would not be forgotten.

Carving a niche in the tree of time is something not all of us can do. I sometimes wander around in antiques stores. Old family photos fascinate me. I leaf through sepia images of Victorian brides, cherubic children in white dresses, and impressive men in uniform wondering who they were, what tale is behind the picture. These people were important in their realm of life, yet now their photos lie in a musty store waiting for a stranger to buy them for a few dollars.

"He has also set eternity in the hearts of men...." says Ecclesiastes 3:11.

God holds our images and our creativity in eternity's grasp. Our faces cannot be erased from His memory. Our gifts remind us we are made in His image.

Sand castles wash away. Pictures fade and deteriorate. Books disintegrate with age. Paintings chip and sculptures crack. To leave your footprint on the sands of time is to set your foot where God guides. He knows the way to eternity. And no one is forgotten there.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

like no other

I've just read a sport's reporters words about the lavish opening ceremonies at the Beijing Olympics. He said there were no superlatives for it. String all the words together and they still were inadequate, according to him. News reports say the 2008 Olympic Opening Ceremonies have trumped any in Olympic history.

That's a good reminder that the most spectacular show ever awaits those who hold the hope of heaven. We'll probably even need another language to describe that one. The pyrotechnics and amazing pageantry of Beijing will be like a firefly next to a fireworks display. A twinkle compared to complete illumination.

I love a fantastic presentation. I would like to have seen the National Stadium aglow with 10,000 costumed presenters, lights and music. But the distance and the ticket price kept me out. Thankfully, God has taken care of all those details. The seats will be the best in the house, and the price was paid by His Son at great expense. The trip won't inconvenience me at all.

Keeping heaven close in my thoughts is part of my life here on earth. It's the only possible way to process the events, tragedies, and fears that line the hallway of earthly life. You keep heaven in view as you walk, knowing its there, remembering its hope, feeling its promise.

Because the Christian life is a passage that eventually leads from earthly to heavenly, I don't think it is possible to live life as a believer without overlapping the two worlds in your thoughts and plans.

The Chapman family holds this very real hope. I just listened as they talked about their recent family tragedy -- their 5-year-old adopted daughter ran in front of an SUV driven by their teenage son. Little Maria has seen heaven. Steve Curtis Chapman and his wife bared their souls about their wrenching loss, but also shared that their grief was overshadowed with great hope.

The wonder of it all is that the greatest show ever will be outdone by the presence of Jesus and the relationships that are reestablished again -- this time forever. Fantastic surroundings, family, friends -- heaven is a destination like no other. It's as close as the next breath.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

there are no ifs

A friend and I were talking about praying in the will of God. She reminded me that there are some things we pray about that we don't need to. God's nature and His Word tell us that He will be with us, will strengthen us when we need it, will comfort us in our trials. We should be praying for grace to accept what His will is.

A quote from the book The Hiding Place has remained with me. Corrie ten Boom woke up one night and went to get a cup of tea in the kitchen. When she returned to her bed, a piece of shrapnel was laying on her pillow, where her head should have been. She asked her sister, Betsy, "what if....." Her sister said, "There are no ifs in God's World."

What a thought. There are no accidents, no surprises, no near misses. Everything I know about my God tells me He is not capricious. Every day is planned. There is a purpose, an order to our lives. It's something you and I can trust. We just need to seek Him for the grace to live out what He has lovingly and perfectly laid out ahead of us.

"He whose heart is kind beyond all measure gives unto each day what He deems best."
(from the song, Day by Day
Carolina V. Sandell-Boerg)

Friday, August 1, 2008

Pictures of our Vacation (see FAQ below also)

Vacation 2008

Heartland Conference Youth Camp Slideshow

Youth Camp 2008

Vacation FAQs

I have finally upgraded to Picasa. (click on the pic above to enlarge and view) . I documented some of our favorite restaurant stops (my husband said the people in the restaurants would think I was a food editor, snapping pictures of my plate!)

Here are some of the places and the things I ate:

  • White Castle (in Columbus) fast food on the way to the South
  • Jim 'n' Nicks' BBQ (Nashville, TN) -- pulled BBQ pork, onion rings, potato salad, cheese biscuits, sweet tea
  • Bell Buckle Cafe (Bell Buckle, TN) -- fried catfish, fried corn, onion casserole, fried corn bread, sweet tea
  • Dreamland BBQ (Huntsville, AL, known for BBQ ribs) -- BBQ pork, french fries, sweet tea
  • LaRosa's Pizza (Cincinnati, OH) -- garlic cheese bread, antipasta salad, cheese pizza
  • Frisch's Big Boy (Dayton, OH) -- cup of chili, Big Boy, onion rings, Coke
  • Joy's Kitchen (Covington, KY) -- my cousin makes AWEsome Chicken Enchiladas

These places are not ones we have close to us, but are favorites from when we lived in Cincinnati for Bible College and in Alabama for our first pastorate.

Here are a few things to note:

  • shots of the Opryland Hotel in Nashville (we didn't stay but walked around in the conservatory which is a little village in itself)
  • the picture of Duane and me in conservatory (we often went here on dates!)
  • the ceiling of the cafe done in advertising signs
  • the waitress at the cafe carrying several glasses with one hand
  • Pics of my parents' place in TN
  • the pic of Duane and me sitting by the river in Eden Park (where we got engaged!)
  • the Creation Museum (KY) --- great place; highly recommend it!)
  • my husband and kids taking turns in the cockpit of fighter jet (Dayton Air Force Museum)

We had a fantastic time, and logged about 2,000 miles when it was all done!

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