Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Mr. Noah Built An Ark, People Called Him Such A Lark...

Mr. Noah built and ark,
People called him such a lark,
Mr. Noah pleaded so,
But into the ark they would not go,

Down came the rain in torrents,
Down came the rain in torrents,
Down came the rain in torrents,
But only eight were saved.

To fully appreciate this little ditty you have to envision us 3 kids singing it at the tops of our lungs at the ages of 2, 3 and 4 and either jumping up and down on a bed, or dancing on the coffee table. The complete faith of 3 children, singing our hearts out to anyone who would listen about the faith of one of the great Bible characters, and not caring what anyone thought about it.

I was reading in one of my favorite devotionals last night about the story of Simon Peter being called to be a fisher of men, and what struck me is how he too was told to do something by the Lord that probably didn't make any sense to himself, or those around him, but he did it anyways.

Luke 5:1-11
One day as Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret, with the people crowding around him and listening to the word of God, he saw at the water's edge two boats, left their by the fishermen, who were washing their nets. He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from shore. Then he sat down and taught the people from the boat. When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, "put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch." Simon answered, "Master, we've worked hard all night and haven't caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets." When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink. When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus' knees and said, "go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!" For he and his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken, and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon's partners. Then Jesus said to Simon, "don't be afraid; from now on you will catch men" So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed Him.

The crowd clamors to get first pick of the fishermen's catch. But the sea was a miser that night. And the boats returned empty.

Jesus is among the crowd that morning and seizes the opportunity to teach. His teaching of the Word is so different from the scribes and pharisees. He doesn't hold it over their head like a club. He simple holds it up to the light. And thus held, a rainbow of color washes hope over the gray crowd. Colors of a new kingdom in the first blush of its dawn.

Peter is one of the fishermen who returned from the sea that morning with nothing to show for it but a sore back and nets that needed cleaning. Over those nets he now hunches, prying loose the slender, silky fingers of seaweed. As he does the ascending sun warms his chilled shoulders.

His brother Andrew is the one who first brought Peter to Jesus. He told him what John the Baptist said about Jesus being the Lamb of God. and he told him Jesus was the Messiah. Peter followed Jesus around Capernuaum as he taught in the synagogues and on the seashores. Like a Mediterranean sponge he soaked in everything he heard. Which is what he is doing now as, square by square, he goes through the mindless task of washing his net.

The eager crowd edges closer until there is no margin of shore left where Jesus can stand. So he gets in Peter's boat and asks him to push out. Quick to do the Master's bidding, the big fisherman oars out a short distance and drops anchor. Behind them the sun glints off the scalloped water in little flashes of gold, paving a shimmering road from boat to shore. And over that road the words of Jesus travel to the crowd once again.

With Jesus in the bow Peter sits in the middle of the boat, taking a mental knife to every sentence, just as he would to get at the fresh white meat of a fish.

Finally Jesus finishes with the crowd - but not with Peter. As if he is now the captain of Peter's boat, he issues an order, "put out into the deep water, and let down the nets for a catch"

The burly fisherman picks his words carefully so as not to offend, "Master" he begins, little knowing how far or how deep this master's domain extends, "we've worked hard all night and haven't caught anything." To himself he thinks, Lord, no offense, but this is my profession. Every fishermen knows that if you're going to catch fish, it's going to be at night when they rise to the surface to feed. And every fisherman knows that when the sun comes up it drives them to the depths, beyond the reach of the nets.

But Peter's respect for Jesus conceals these thoughts. and out of respect he obeys: "but because you say so, I will let down the nets"

As the hired hands row to deep water, Peter feels a little foolish. But he says nothing. Nor does Jesus until he calls out "Stop, Here, This is a good spot." The men take the weighted nets and heave them unfurling into the sea. As the nets sink, the silence continues. Peter holds the rope next to Jesus. This is an embarrassing moment for the experienced fisherman. And he is careful not to look at Jesus or his men. He just peers out into the sea.

But at the far end is a tug. Then another. and another. Suddenly, the nets are alive and jumping in their hands. The surface churns with fish slapping the sea and flashing in the sun. The fishermen strain at the ropes, and a few of the twined squares snap.

"James!" "John!" Peter calls out to his partners. "Come quick. We've got a catch so big the nets are breaking! Hurry!"

Above them hover squawking flurries of herons, cranes and cormorants, waiting to dart in and steal away what they can of the catch.

And all the while the nets pull the men's arms. The sockets of their shoulders burn, the ropes cut into their hands and their muscles twist to wring sweat from every pore. Their words are choppy: "careful... come my way... that's it... steady"

When the other boat arrives, the fishermen team up to pour the bulging net of silver into their empty hulls. But the treasure is so great that the portside rim dips below the waterline, spilling the sea into their boat. The men bail feverishly and start throwing fish back. All the men, that is, except Peter.

A jagged revelation rips through his soul and stops him in his tracks... this is no human messiah; this Master's domain reaches even to the depths of the sea.

He whirls around to look at Jesus and suddenly the murky depths of Peter's heart are dredged to the surface. And he realizes how unworthy he is even to be in the same boat with Jesus. Trembling, he sloshes over to Jesus and falls at his knees, "Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!" An overwhelming sense of awe shivers through the crew as they await the Master's response. But his words carry no thunder. They are calm and full of promise. "Don't be afraid; from now on you will catch men"

Dear Master,
Help me to be faithful in the little things like cleaning nets, knowing that they could be your way of preparing me for greater things - like fishing for men. Help me to obey simply and solely "because you say so". And keep me from thinking that since I have fished a few waters that somehow I know better than you the course my life should take and the place my nets should be dropped.

Call me, Lord, out from a shallow faith near the shore, which requires no risks and offers no rewards. Call me to a deeper commitment to you. And when you call, grant that I would be quick in my boat, swift to my oars, and fast with my nets. And I pray, grant me the eyes to see who it is who labors by my side - an awesome and almighty God.

Take me to a place where I have worked hard by my own strength and yet ended up with empty nets. Take me there to show me the depths of your dominion and the net-breaking fullness of your power. Keep me ever aware that you are Lord. And ever aware that I am a sinful person. And in that knowledge keep me ever on my knees before You.

At your bidding, O Master, I will let down my nets. And at your bidding I will leave them forever behind. For what you have to offer is infinitely more than all the seas of this world ever could.

~Intimate Moments With The Savior

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Angels We Have Heard On High...

Angels: "Fear Not"
Shepherds: "Aaaaaaaahhh!"
Angels: "I said fear not"
Shepherds: "Aaaaaaaaaaaaahh!"
Angels: "What part of fear not do you not understand?"

Any avid fan of Jungle Jam and Friends is probably familiar with the quote above, I must admit it is one of my favorite Christmas quotes. As I was thinking about it last night it makes sense to me why the shepherds would have been scared, I mean come on, if you were a guy out there watching the sheep and an angel appeared in the sky I think you would be a little freaked out too! But what about the angels that aren't all bright and shiny, or that don't have wings, do we even recognize them, much less fear them?

A lot of people get out there and do their "good deeds" during the holidays to relieve their guilt. They go work the local soup kitchen, or ring a bell for the salvation army, or some such thing, which isn't bad, but what is the motivation behind it? To make ourselves feel better? To look good compared to others? Hebrews 13:2 says "Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained strangers without knowing it." There are several stories my parents tell us of hosting strangers that were stranded on the side of the road etc. that needed help. One that jumps out the most in my mind are when we picked up a lady at the gas station who was broken down and brought her home from church with us. Sammi had been sick and miserable for days on end, but she climbed in this girl's lap and instantly fell asleep. Both mom and dad swear she must have been an angel, and after that day we never saw her again. The other story that is very vivid in my memory is when mom and dad were teaching us the concept of hospitality. We would host single men from our church for dinner every Tuesday night as well as having other young adults for holidays and weekends when their families weren't close by. On one of those occasions my mom told us to go feel Matt's back and see if he had wings. When he asked us what we were doing we told him we were looking for his wings to see if he was an angel :)

As you celebrate your Christmas this year remember that angels come in many forms, and you never know who you may be blessing with your hospitality.

Matthew 25:35-36, 40 "For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me. I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me."

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 23, 2011

All It Takes Is A Little Faith To See The World In A Wondrous Way...

I know it's a God thing when I feel inspired and encouraged by a poorly animated kids movie from 1999.

For the past two or so weeks I have been having a very hard time getting to sleep at night. I would go to bed just to lay there for hours and hours on end feeling royally miserable inside, I would eventually put on a movie or a favorite tv show until I fell asleep from pure exhaustion... so I wasn't sleeping until about 1am and then getting up at 6:15 to get ready for work, and I was turning into a walking zombie. All that said, two nights ago I was laying in bed browsing through the "holiday classics" (none of which I had ever heard of) on netflix and came across "The Nuttiest Nutcracker". Just a short way into the movie a nut starts singing this song about having faith in Christmas, but the only time that phrase is even mentioned is once, then the rest of the song is just about having faith and believing.

All it takes is a little faith, to see the world in a wondrous way,
Open up your heart and say you believe
and you will see the most miraculous things
No need to worry, let your troubles go
Lose your fears and let the laughter flow
Open up your heart and let your spirit free
Anything can happen when you believe 

I thought it was kinda neat. Then later in the movie when the princess is locked in the rat's dungeon there is a song about not giving up hope. It's supposed to be the prince singing to the princess, but that is never actually stated.

Don't think that you're alone when your heart is empty and you're far from home. 
Just reach out your hand, 
I will hold you, help you stand, 
feel the love that's all around, God's love showering down.

Calm me childish, but I was in tears by the end of that song. Between the first song and the second one, it tapped the misery I had been harboring inside and in just a couple minutes of saying "ok Lord" and letting myself rest in His love, I felt at peace on the inside like I hadn't in a long time. For the past 2 nights I have fallen asleep as soon as I have gone to bed, and tonight I'll sleep in my own bed for the first time since Shane left, so first time in a month. Do I know what is gonna happen next? No. Do I know when I will see Shane again? Nope. But instead of just seeing the "not knowing" in things, the world has taken on a different view of miraculous things, and it is beautiful because God really does work in wondrous ways.

Merry Christmas Everybody!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

If Your Waitin' For Love...

If your waitin' for love, well it's a promise I'll keep, if you don't mind believing that it changes everything, time will never matter.

One of the words I have the hardest time with is "wait", I would much rather hear a solid "yes" or solid "no", "wait" requires patience and perseverance, I can't move forward in any direction. One of the areas that I am deeply struggling right now is waiting for love. I'm gonna give a minute of "back history" before I explain.

Many of you have asked the story of me and Shane, and here is the reader's digest condensed version. Shane and I have been friends since we were 10 and 12. We met at Fox Hollow Farm where I first learned how to ride horses and at the time Shane was working there. At the time we were in the same 4-H group and our homes were only a couple of miles apart so we would she each other here and there at 4-H events and the occasional homeschool get together. We lost touch for a couple of years until I was about 16 or so, and then I ran into Shane and his brother working at our local grocery store. Every day from that point until they left for college that fall I would see Shane in P&C when I stopped for my chocolate milk fix on my way home from work, we'd talk for a couple of minutes and then I'd go on my way. After he left for school I received a letter from him asking if it was ok to write me, I said sure (and yes I still have all of his letters). We wrote back and forth for the semester and then saw each other again when he came home, and he decided not to go back to that school. Through the months he was home it wasn't always easy, but we remained friends. In 2007 I moved to FL, we kept in touch, but after a time we parted ways for about 6 months. In the fall of 2008 we started talking again and I went to Miracle Mountain Ranch for the apprentice program. In January of 2009 the subject of courtship/dating was approached, but there wasn't a peace about it, so we took a step back for another while. In the fall of 2009 we were talking again (seeing a pattern here?), and into 2010 as friends. In the fall of 2010 I had a different "romantic interest" when Shane wanted to approach the topic of dating again. Once again we parted ways for a while. Then, once again, this past spring we started talking again. We both knew we would be seeing each other at my brother's wedding in September, so we needed to know where we stood. As the fall drew closer we approached some tough topics that we had disagreements on, and many many hard conversations ensued as we both wanted to move forward, but didn't see a way with us having different beliefs. When I got to NY for the wedding Shane came and picked me up for a day out on the town that both of us greatly enjoyed. We hadn't seen each other in 3 very long years, so a day together was very special. Unfortunately with all the wedding stuff going on we didn't get an opportunity to discuss the "elephant in the room", which made parting that night rather difficult, but I knew I would see him in 2 days at the wedding. We sat together at the wedding, but again we couldn't talk with all the distractions. When he left that night it felt like my heart was being ripped from my chest because I didn't know when I would see him again and having un-resolved issues between us was more than miserable. The following week I was at MMR to visit, and that Saturday we were out at the woodpile for the first wood bee of the year (one of my favorite activities!). I was running a stacking crew and my phone went off with a text from Shane saying he was there and looking for me. I've never bailed off the woodpile so fast in my life! I showed him around the ranch and then we sat in the mess hall and talked for about 3 hours. In that time we worked out our "issues" with each other and decided to give this a go. He called my dad the following week and we have been dating ever since :) I was blessed by a surprise 3 week visit from Shane back at the beginning of November. He has applied for jobs out here and is hoping to move out here sometime soon, but for now he is back at home in NY, which is where I was headed with this post.

For both of us the struggle with waiting for God to bring us both to the same place has been very hard. After the ups and downs, proving and strengthening of our friendship and being apart for so many years we both just want to be together, at least in the same state would be nice! But for the moment God just keeps saying "wait". So we are waiting, or trying to at least.

On a personal level (ie: just me), I am waiting with work, waiting with what to do with Shane, waiting to buy a car, waiting for my life to feel like it is going somewhere. Last night I was talking with Shane and described my currents feelings like "I'm running on a treadmill, getting all sweaty and tired, but not really going anywhere.". I want to be financially independent, I want to be able to see Shane any day I want without having to fly across the country etc.

The ironic part is that just a week ago I taught on "Godliness with Contentment" (1 Tim 6:6-8) at Bible study. Looking back through my notes today I was struck by Philippians 4:11-13 "I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all things through Him who gives me strength." In EVERY circumstance, whether in plenty, or in little, I can be content, because I don't gain my power from within my human self, but from my Heavenly Father who breathed the stars into existence and holds the universe in the palms of His hands. The same God who came to earth and died on the cross out of His love for me, and cares about everything that happens in my life, is the God that controls when things do and don't happen. So when He says "wait" my answer shouldn't be "how long?" or "why?", but "yes Lord, and how can I serve you better where I am at right now?". The feeling of running on a treadmill may be true, but instead of focusing on the sweat and pain my focus should be on the strength I am gaining for when He says "now you can go".

Here are the rest of the lyrics from "Sunny Days" by Jars of Clay

Sunny days keepin' the clouds away
I think we're coming to a clearing and a brighter day

So far away. Still I think they say
The wait will make the heart grow stronger or fonder
I can't quite remember anyway

So if you're waitin' for love
Well it's a promise I'll keep
If you don't mind believing that it changes everything
Then time will never matter

Winter, Spring... is what love can truly bring
Ice turns to water, water flows to everything
You can lose your mind, maybe then your heart you'll find
I hope you won't give up what's moving you inside

So if you're waitin' for love
Well it's a promise I'll keep
If you don't mind believing that it changes everything
Then time will never matter

If the car won't start, when you turn the key
When the music comes on, all your cold, cold heart can do is skip a beat

It's a promise I'll keep
When you're waitin' for love
If you don't mind believing that it changes everything
Then time will never matter

Thursday, December 8, 2011

If You Want Me To...

 Why does the same old thing come back and bite me in the butt every single time? Why does it seem like I never grow in this area, it just stays a weakness? Why does it always hurt the people I love the most?
To some of you what I am gonna say isn't rocket science, but right now it feels like I am battling for my life, and I am definitely fighting for my future. So here it goes...

a) my outward confidence is to an extent a coverup for the scared and insecure little girl on the inside
b) in my insecure moments I mess up
c) I'm working on it

Thankfully God forgives me when I mess up... now I'm asking, will you?

If You Want Me To
Ginny Owens

The pathway is broken
And the signs are unclear
And I don't know the reason why You brought me here
But just because You love me the way that You do
I'm gonna walk through the valley
If You want me to

No I'm not who I was
When I took my first step
And I'm clinging to the promise You're not through with me yet
So if all of these trials bring me closer to You
Then I will walk through the fire
If You want me to

It may not be the way I would have chosen
When You lead me through a world that's not my home
But You never said it would be easy
You only said I'll never go alone (yeah oh oh)

So when the whole world turns against me
And I'm all by myself
And I can't hear You answer my cries for help
I'll remember the sufferin' Your love put You through
And I will walk through the darkness
If You want me to

'Cause when I cross over Jordan, I'm gonna sing, gonna shout
Gonna look into your eyes and see you never let me down
So take me on the pathway that leads me home to you
And I will walk through the valley if you want me to

Yes, I will walk through the valley if you want me to

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Life Is Short, Don't Waste It...

Ok, so something that most people don’t know about me is that I really enjoy listening to Christian hip-hop and Christian rap. The title of this post is from one of my favorite John Reuben songs called “Life is Short”. I’ve included more of the lyrics from this song so that there is a more “well-rounded” picture of what I am trying to get at here.

This life is short, don’t waste it,
This life is what you make it,
Live a little, come on breath a little
Who wants to rhyme to close-minded people
Not I, ok good me neither
This here feature won’t follow procedure
Instead the forecast includes a brainstorm
With elastic thinking help me stretch the norm
Life’s to short for me to conform
Help me transform
Live life to the utmost, here’s a toast
To the future faith love and hope
And the things that truly remain and exist
It goes a little something like this
This life is short, don’t waste it

Life’s too short to have enemies,
I make no apologize for being friendly
Life’s too short to live in poverty,
I’m not talking money I’m talking mentally
Cause I’ve been broke and at the same time happy
I’m well aware of my history
So I approach life a little more humbly
Because being full of yourself will leave you empty
Life is short, don’t waste it
Life is what you make it

Life truly is short in relation to eternity, all you have is the “dash” on your tombstone to represent your time here. No man on this planet knows the number of his days, or can predict when he is going to either meet his maker in heaven or be sent to hell for eternity. Several days ago I had a set of lyrics from Audio Adrenaline’s song “DC-10” as my facebook status and some of you probably questioned my sanity. Here are a couple verses from that song that give a little more light hearted to the side that you don’t know how long you will be here, but do you know where you will be spending the rest of eternity?

Do ya know where you’re gonna go?
DC-10 fell on your head, you’re layin in the ground all mussy and dead
Or a Mac truck run over you, or suddenly die in your Sunday pew
Do you know where you’re gonna go?
It can happen any day it can happen any way
It can happen while you’re nappin in your easy chair
Can happen at home, can happen at school, happen while you’re starin at the sky like a fool
Do you know where you’re gonna go?

I said do you know where you’re gonna go?
Do you know where you’re gonna go?
Do you know where you’re gonna go, straight to heaven or down the hole?

747 fell outta heaven, crashed through the roof of a 7-eleven
sippin on a slurpy, things get hazy, reach for the twinkie now you’re pushin up daisies
Do you know where you’re gonna go?

In all seriousness though, we don’t know how long we have, what are we going to do with it? In Psalms 39:4-6 David puts this thought into a well worded picture of how short our lives really are: “Lord, make me to know my end and what is the extent of my days; let me know how transient I am. Behold, you have made my days as handbreadths, and my lifetime as nothing in your sight; surely every man as his best is a mere breath. Surely every man walks about as a phantom; surely they make an uproar for nothing; he amasses riches and does not know who will gather them.”

Jesus Christ came as a baby and lived on this earth as a man solely to take our sins upon himself so that we could have a renewed relationship with God. He died on the cross, but He didn’t stay dead, he raised from the dead on the 3rd day and returned to heaven to be with the Heavenly Father. As Christians we have placed our faith and hope in Jesus Christ so that we are forgiven of our sins and can have fellowship with the Father. Being a Christian shouldn’t just mean that we have “fire-insurance” so we won’t go to hell when we die, but should change our lives as a whole. 1 Corinthians 6:20 says “For you have been bought with a price: therefore, glorify God in your body.” 1 Corinthians 10:31 reads “Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all to the glory of God.” These verses give purpose for why, as Christians, we should do what we do. Are you working your tail off at work simply to make your boss happy, to get that promotion or maybe a pay raise, or to be a witness and glorify God?

This was a struggle for me over the past several weeks. Things at work had been a little on the stressful side and it felt that no matter what I did I couldn’t make my boss happy. I was tense at work, felt like I was always playing catch-up, and came home frustrated every day. 2 weeks ago now my boss and I were actually at each other’s throats and I was really close to not having a job anymore, but through God’s grace we talked it out and things have improved immensely. At the end of that day I had some serious thinking to do, and it all centered around my motivation for working as hard as I do. I don’t get paid much, and some days my job feels rather thankless, so why? Any non-Christian would question my sanity, but for me the answer has become more clear, and more of a challenge. I work hard to glorify God and to shine His light in a dark world.

1 Peter 3:14-16 reads “But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. And do not fear their intimidation, and do not be troubled, but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence; and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ will be put to shame.”

In this short life we will struggle, we will be falsely accused, we will go through times of trials, just as Christ did. But as Christians we have the power of the Holy Spirit living in us so we have the ability to glorify God in everything we do, and the others around us will be put to shame. Don’t waste this life simply aiming for riches and honor and trying to please man, for they will leave you empty; but glorify God and He will give you everything else you need in this life and you will not only be filled, but the light and love of God will overflow from your heart and life into the lives of others and they will want to know why you are different. Let me clarify here also, I am not saying that “good works” are required to be a Christian or to go to heaven, I am saying that “good works” should be a result of accepting Christ. Take your life and use it to share God with others around you.

So my challenge is this:

If you are a Christian then you know the hope that you have for the end of your life, but what are you doing before then?

If you aren’t a Christian what are you hoping in? Do you know where you will be spending the rest of eternity? We, as humans, can’t save ourselves. Being a “good person” won’t get us to heaven, won’t fulfill the ache in our hearts, or make you complete, only Christ can do that for you. You can have a scarred past, you don’t have to be perfect, it doesn’t matter where you have been, or what you have done, you are still welcome in the family of God. Our Heavenly Father loves you, He made you and created you on this earth for a purpose and He wants to have a relationship with you. He sent His only Son to die for you so that your sin will no longer keep you from His presence. To accept Christ is easy. Romans 10:9-10 says “That if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.”I recommend you check out this resource that has been put together by the church I attend, it gives an excellent outline for what it means to become a Christian. http://alpinechurch.org/foundations/101-2/

Saturday, March 19, 2011

You'll Find Out Who Your Friends Are...

    All of us know people who are the "popular ones", the "in crowd", "nerds", "losers", "cast outs", "weirdos", "jocks", "blonds" etc. and all of us have been in different categories during our lives. Usually the ones in the "popular" and "in crowd" categories had more friends, hence the category title, but do they really have real friends? We've all watched it happen... the popular cheerleader gains weight and gets abandoned, or the football jock that gets injured and can't play anymore etc. I am getting to a point here, so stick with me.
    A mentor of mine once told me that there are 5 levels of friends. 1- Friends that you know you can get in trouble with. 2- Friends who don't take much convincing to do something you shouldn't. 3- Friends who are average, they won't encourage bad behavior, but they won't really challenge it either. (The majority of friends usually fit in this category). 4- Friends who will challenge you, but aren't "grandma". 5- Friends you know will always shoot straight truth with you and slap you upside the head when you need it most. Now, I do have friends that fit into all of these categories, and you know who you are, and I'm not condemning anybody in categories 1 and 2, but this blog is gonna focus on categories 3 and up.
    Proverbs 17:17 says "A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.". I never realized how many real friends I do have until the trials arose. The injuries, the family trials, the moves, loneliness, unemployment, and just plain every day struggles. Each time friends that I thought I had (categories 1, 2 and occasionally 3) would disappear, and friends that I didn't realize I had would appear out of the woodwork.
    But a friend's love doesn't just come in the form of encouragement, hugs and chicken soup, there is also tough love. Now, call me weird, but I am a fan of tough love. Proverbs 27:5-6 says "Better is open rebuke than love that is concealed. Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but deceitful are the kisses of an enemy.". I'm not saying that I only feel loved when I'm rebuked, that would be REALLY weird, but that I have come to discover who has the guts to stand up to my strong will when I am in the wrong, even when I don't ask.
    All of this said to say that sometimes it takes friends from the first 2 or 3 categories burning you to realize how valuable the others are. This hit home for me when I was recently severely burned by a relatively new relationship. The hurt, pain, and realization of it all proved beneficial in clearing my head as to who my real friends are, and the ones who's relationships I can always stand on without fear of being ditched or dropped. So "Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds." Hebrews 10:24

Sunday, March 13, 2011

That's The Good Stuff...

   "The good stuff" takes different forms for each of life's stages, but those things are what carry us through. The little reminder's that God really is faithful, and that it really is okay to have "tough skin and a soft heart", and not just be tough all the way through like an over-cooked steak. So, I bet you are wondering where I am going with this... over the past couple of weeks a lot of random "good stuff" has been drifting through the abyss of my mind, and not just random good stuff, but good stuff that happened in rough times. Moments like my dorm mom bringing me breakfast in bed when I was injured... different people being there for me only when God could have brought them across my path... a chocolate milk on my car the morning we moved from NY... unexpected notes from friends far away... midnight talks in the bathroom with roommates... the hours spent in vehicles where I could ask any questions and get honest answers... learning how to drive stick... quotes, songs, and scriptures in random places... and pages of journal entries.
    These are all special moments, sometimes very brief periods in time, where God's faithfulness, compassion, and unconditional love shown through those around me. Points in time where I realized who really was close to my heart, and who I could really trust. God works in mysterious ways, and a lot of times the biggest blessings and most special moments come amidst the greatest trials. Just as the Israelites were to erect the memorials as they headed into the promised land and tell their children the stories, so am I to do the same. Remembering is what strengthens me in current trials, what gives me perseverance and patience when I don't see the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel. I heard this song on the radio while I was riding this past week and it put to words what I was thinking.

Kenny Chesney - Good Stuff

Well me and my lady had our first big fight
So I drove around till I saw the neon lights
At the corner bar it just seemed right so I pulled up

Not a soul around but the old barkeep

Down at the end and looking half asleep
And he walked over and said what'll it be I said the good stuff

He didn't reach around for the wisky

He didn't pour me a beer
His blue eyes kinda went misty
He said you can't find that here

Casue its the first long kiss on the second date

Mama's all worried when ou get home late
And droping the ring in the spiggetti plate
Cause you hand are shaking so much
And its the way she lookes with rice in her hair
Eating burnt suppers the whole first year
And asking for seconds just to keep her from tearing up
Yeah man thats the good stuff

He grabbed a carton of milk and he poured a glass

I smiled and said I'll have some of that
We sat there and talked as an hour passed like old friends
I saw a black and white picture and it caught my stare
It was a pretty girl with beuphant hair
He said thats my bonnie takin bought a year after we were wed

He said I spent five years at the bottom

When the cancer took her from me
And I've been sober 3 years now
Cause the one thing stronger then the wisky

Was the sight of her holding my baby girl

The way she adored that string of pearls
I gave her the day that our youngest boy earl
Married his hight school love
And its a new tee shirt sayin im a grandpa
Being right there as her time got small
And holding her hand as the good lord called her up
Yeah man thats the good stuff

When you get home she'll start to cry

When she says sorry say so am I
And look in to those eyes so deep in love
And drink it up

Cause that's the good stuff

I know this song is about romantic relationships, but the concept applies to other things as well. Anyway, I know this post hasn't been incredibly "deep", but it is what has been on my heart this week.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

It's A Great Day To Be Alive, I Know The Sun's Still Shining When I Close My Eyes

Because you had a bad day
You're taking one down
You sing a sad song just to turn it around
You say you don't know
You tell me don't lie
You work at a smile and you go for a ride
You had a bad day
The camera don't lie
You're coming back down and you really don't mind
You had a bad day
You had a bad day

     This was definitely the tune running through my head almost 2 weeks ago. A lot of pent up anger from dealing with a particularly difficult horse at work to handling some touchy relationships had me completely on the edge of blowing my top or falling apart in tears.It felt like the people close to me had pushed me away, and I was all alone to just "buck up" and deal with things. Just stuff my emotions like I am such a professional at, tell the world to go to hell and do my own thing, like I tend to when I get depressed and angry. I didn't want to talk to anybody about it anymore, was afraid to make myself vulnerable to anyone, and was letting my fear, and therefore not my faith, rule my actions. If you ask anyone that spends any amount of time with me I was not the most pleasant person to be around. Nights were spent crying myself to sleep, days were spent in a "throw myself into work to bury the hurt" haze. The scary part was that, at first, I didn't care. I was sick of the crap, sick of my emotions being played on, sick of feeling manipulated, sick of feeling like any of my efforts were hopeless. I couldn't do anything to fix the relationship, I felt like I was just going in reverse with the horse I was working... just utterly useless.
    That Wednesday night I went to Bible study and we did a review of the entire book of James, which started to get me thinking, but thinking isn't always good for me. I get home, go to my room, want to scream but can't, and end up crying myself to sleep.
    Thursday, my boss and the crew leave for a show in southern Utah. I just want the day to end, to go home and hide from the world, but I stick to my task. Friday doesn't vary much from Thursday until Friday night. Friday night was special because we were having a worship night at our church. The one hour service started with a couple of more upbeat style worship songs, but in the middle it slowed to some very sincere hymns and songs that began to crack, and finally crush my self-focused strong will. As I cried and sang with the joined voices of over 600 people it brought back memories of being an apprentice, being surrounded by friends and family that loved me, and worshiping together. My heart changed from focusing on me, to focusing on the One who is all powerful, the One who loves me no matter what, and the One who was simply waiting for me to say "ok, I can't do this, I need your help."
   As this week progressed the first 8 verses of James chapter 1 were floating through my head... and in New King James version from memorizing it as an apprentice. James 1:1-8 - James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting. My bretheren, count it all joy when ye fall into diverse temptations; knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye make be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive anything from the Lord.
   So, the trying of my faith worketh patience... I am not good at being patient, which is what a lot of the trials the week before had to deal with. Then patience can have her perfect work so that I can be complete... ok, taking a step back and not getting frustrated with that mare proved productive as she rode much better this past week, learning to be patient in this relationship is going to be a much longer process. Anyway, beyond that, the asking for wisdom was what I was needing to do the most, but my pride had been getting in the way. Once my pride got put in its place my journal pages and my heart started to fill with wisdom that only my Heavenly Father could provide from the pages of my Bible and the words of others. Here are some of them:

Proverbs 4:11-12 - I have directed you in the way of wisdom; I have led you in upright paths. When you walk, your steps will not be impeded; if you run you will not stumble.

I cross referenced this to Isaiah 40:31 - Yet those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings as eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary.

Proverbs 4:25-27 - Let your eyes look directly ahead and let your gaze be fixed straight in front of you. Watch the path of your feet and all your ways will be established. Do not turn to the right nor to the left; turn your foot from evil.

So, to put it all together I'm going to sum up what I've been challenged with in the past 2 weeks in one simple phrase that my first year adviser told me "Don't fear. Don't control.". As long as I keep that wisdom at the forefront of my mind then it is a "great day to be alive".

And it's a great day to be alive,
I know the sun's still shining when I close my eyes,
There's some hard times in the neighborhood,
But why can't every day be just this good?

Sunday, February 20, 2011

If I'm Not The Arrow To The Heart Of You... Consider Me Gone...

Every time I turn the conversation
To something deeper, than the weather
I can feel you, all but shuttin down
And when I need an explanation for the silence
You just tell me you don't wanna talk about it now

What you're not saying
Is coming in loud and clear
We're at a crossroads here

If I'm not the one thing you can't stand to lose
If I'm not that arrow to the heart of you
If you don't get drunk on my kiss
If you think you can do better than this
Then I guess we're done
Let's not drag this on
Consider me gone


 Baby, what are we becoming
It feels like we're always running
Rolling through the motions every day
I can lean in to hold you, or act like I don't even know you
Seems like you could care less either way
What happened to that guy I used to know
I just want us back to the way we were before

 I had some profound insight for where I was going with this... but at the moment it escapes me.

Friday, February 11, 2011

I Want To Leave A Legacy, How Will They Remember Me?

I pledge my head to clearer thinking,
My heart to greater knowledge,
My hands to larger service,
And my health to better living,
For my club,
My community,
My country,
And my world.

The 4-H pledge. A pledge that anyone who has been to any 4-H event has recited along with thousands of other people across this country. But what does it really stand for? How many of us that were active participants in 4-H actually did something with it to affect others?

These have been some questions at the back of my mind these past 2 days. I've been at home fighting off a cold and working on putting together a presentation that I am giving for a local 4-H group next week. What does it really mean to dedicate yourself to clearer thinking, greater knowledge, larger service and better living for the betterment of your club, community, country and world? Does it mean you spend your whole life working for charity? Start your own non-profit organization? Dedicate your future to overseas missions? Enlist in the armed forces? Or can you go to college, get a nice high paying job, and live the stereotypical "American dream"? I believe all of the above and more qualify as good answers, if done for the correct reasons.

No matter where you are called, or what you decide to do with your life, the "4 Hs" still apply to yourself, and those you interact with, even though it isn't your fellow club members anymore.

I pledge my head to clearer thinking: Ephesians 4:22-24 - You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

My heart to greater knowledge: Proverbs 2:1-6 - My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, turning your ear to wisdom, and applying your heart to understanding, and if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God. For the Lord gives wisdom, and from His mouth come knowledge and understanding.

My hands to larger service: Matthew 25:37-40 - Then the righteous will answer him, "Lord, when did we see you hungry, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go visit you?" The King will reply, "I tell you the truth, whatever you did for the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me."

My health to better living: Matthew 6:23 - The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness.

No matter where you are, what your job is, or who you interact with these still apply. They make you who you are, how people know you, and how you will be remembered. What are you going to do about it?

Friday, February 4, 2011

Somewhere Over The Rainbow... Dreams Come True

    There's a storm raging on one side, yet somewhere the sun is out and happens to be in just the right spot for the rays that are shining through the storm to create a rainbow. A beautiful arc of every color in the spectrum appears in the sky, in the midst of what appears to just be another rain storm. People everywhere stop what they are doing to look at it, cameras appear, but no camera can capture a rainbow in it's true vibrancy, you have to really see it to appreciate it.
    The same thing happens in our own lives. The storms of trials and plans not going as we wish tend to "rain on our parades" as we like to put it. But behind those clouds the sun is shining and when it pokes through, you see only the blessings that the 2 put together can bring.
    As a lot of you know the past 6 months have been a storm for me. I don't see the need to repeat things in the entry, but feel free to browse the older posts. Through this storm I have always known that the Son of God has been on the other side of the clouds, and when I have taken the time to stop looking at the rain and thunder I have seen the rays poke through here and there. Over the past two days the rainbow has appeared. A big bright rainbow full of hope.
    On Wednesday I had the pleasure of going over to Heritage Ranch and Stallion Station to spend a couple hours riding with Marty Simper of Marty Simper Show Horses. After 3 and a half years of re-schooling lesson horses it felt so good to be on a horse that I could "just let jog" around the arena. The people at the farm were all very pleasant and I really enjoyed my time there. Before I left Marty asked me about the possibility of working for him riding horses and doing showmanship training. He asked me "What do you want to be when you grow up?" as we were un-tacking our last horses and I wasn't sure if it was a trick question. I told him about my wanting to merge training and vet tech work, I'm just not sure how.
    Yesterday I had an all day working interview at Mountain Horse Medical Center. The majority of the day was spent with their head technician learning my way around, how things are done, where things are, who everybody is, and treating a surgical colic patient. All of the veterinarians were great to work with, and I enjoyed my time there, but I'm not yet sure if it is where I am supposed to be.
    Put it all together and there is a lot on my mind today. I am going back to the clinic on Monday to be present for a surgical procedure and to spend more time with the veterinarians, Marty is waiting to hear back from me about scheduling, and I have to make some serious decisions.
    Most people just ask me "who pays more?" and thinks it is the answer to everything. If it was that simple I would have gone back to Mississippi to work for Tom McBeath a long time ago.
    My dream has always been to be able to ride and show, but also tech. So over the rainbow dreams do come true.
Proverbs 12:25 - Anxiety in a man's heart weighs it down, but a good word makes it glad.

Philippians 4:4-7 - Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say rejoice! Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

I Am A Dreamer, Take Me Higher, Open The Sky Up, Start A Fire...

   We're supposed to dream big right? It isn't just something we tell little kids so that they think beyond being the cart guy at Wal-Mart for "what I wanna be when I grow up", right? What happens when you dream big and reach those dreams? Where do you go from there? It's like an Olympian aiming for gold, or someone who wins the lottery, once you have it all, then what do you do?
    Those are all questions I have been pondering as of late. For years my dreams were to be a vet tech, to compete at the world show, to be an apprentice and Lew Sterrett's stallion handler.With the passing of those goals the past 6 months have been ones of feeling like I'm just shooting in the dark. For my whole life I always knew what I wanted to do next and even had a general timeline I wanted to accomplish those things in.
    For several months now it has seemed that every time I set out to try and accomplish any form of new goal that it was continually blocked, but as always, God is faithful. A week and a half ago was the Utah Horse Trainer's Challenge Kickoff at the Golden Spike Arena here in Ogden Utah. The way the challenge works is that multiple trainers from around the state compete in horsemanship, reining, and freestyle classes. At the end of the preliminary competition 4 finalists are chosen and draw for an unbroke 2 year old that they have to catch out of the pen (which is very amusing to watch). Each finalist takes their 2 year old home and has 2 months to train them before returning to the Utah Horse Expo and compete again for the title. I would like to compete in the challenge next year or the year after so I figured attending would give me a good idea of what the expectations are. What I didn't know was that the champion from the past 2 years, Marty Simper, was judging the kickoff event. Not only was Marty judging, but to my pleasant surprise so was Dr. Sam Hendrix from Mountain Horse Medical Center in Park City Utah.
    At the end of the event, and after building up enough guts, I approached Marty about riding with him and Dr. Hendrix about a job. After speaking with both of them I was told to call back in a week or so. Well, it has been over a week, so my biggest task this morning was working up the courage to call. I'm very glad that I did :)
    The upcoming week is going to be very busy! I'm riding with Marty on Wednesday morning. Thursday and Friday I have working interviews at Dr. Hendrix's clinic. Being able to ride with one of the best all around trainers in the state and work with the only board certified equine surgeon (well, he's taking his boards next week) in the state of Utah are opportunities that only God could orchestrate.
    I am a dreamer, and I always have been. The dreams I see ahead of me now is competing in the trainer's challenge next year, and beginning my own string of show horses. Neither of these are going to happen instantly, but now there is opportunity. Also, working in the clinic here in Park City would provide everything necessary to obtain my vet tech specialty in equine. All of that said, next week will determine a lot of what my future here in Utah looks like.
    I'm nervous about my interviews at the clinic because of my lack of experience in equine surgery beyond the simple things that any farm animal vet can accomplish. I ask for prayer for next week. Prayer for peace, prayer for calm of spirit, prayer for clear thinking when working with the veterinarians, and prayer for provision of transportation should I get the job.
    Anywho, hopefully that made some sort of sense. Right now I'm so excited and there is so much running through my mind that I don't know if it even makes sense to me! Praising God's never ending faithfulness - Kate :)

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Beside My Brothers and My Sisters I Will Proudly Take A Stand...

           Whom shall I fear? There is no one who can affect me outside of my Father’s will. Whom shall I dread? There is no one who can hurt me without my Father’s permission.
My enemies stumble and fall, a thousand fall at my side and ten thousand at my right hand, but it will not approach me. I shall be confident in the goodness of God and wait for His leading. Those who wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall run and not grow weary, they shall walk and not faint. This means I must be moving forward and doing the work in my Father’s battlefields or else I wouldn’t be losing strength in the first place. By the power of God I can run upon a troop and leap over a wall. He makes my feet like hinds feet and sets me upon the high places.
I am not in this battle alone, but am surrounded by a cloud of witnesses. I have responsibilities to the others I interact with. I cannot cause one to stumble and fall because of my own selfishness or carelessness. These fellow warriors are there to not only keep us accountable in our relationships with others, but also our relationship with Christ. I am called to carry other’s burdens when one is fallen or injured, but they are also there for me if I will humble myself and accept it. As a servant of God I am to do nothing out of selfish ambition, but to have the same mindset of Christ in serving others. I no longer need to act as a selfish child because I have the capacity to love and give as Christ did, even if it means being injured myself.
  Unless even a corn of wheat falls into the ground and dies it is fruitless, but when I die to myself and give up my life for Christ I will bear much fruit. I will suffer at my post for a little while, but my God, who called me to Himself, will confirm, strengthen, and establish me. He will mend that which was broken. This doesn’t mean I will get a break, but that He will replenish my strength as I go and as necessary. Just as He renewed the oil in the widow’s pots, He will pour out of me even when I feel completely empty as long as I am willing to rest in His power and NOT my own.

Psalms 27:1-3, 13, 14                   

 Psalms 18                            

1 Peter 5:10                       

John 12:24   

Psalms 91                           

Philippians 1:27-30                       

 Hebrews 1:12                                 
Galatians 6:2

Isaiah 40:29-31            

1 Corinthians 8:12-13                                 
1 Peter 5:10                      
2 Corinthians 10:4

Friday, January 7, 2011

It's Five O'Clock Somewhere...

    I know this may seem like an odd set of lyrics for a "Christian Girl" to title a blog post with, but it's where I am at right now. As I write this I am surrounded by my brother and his fiance, watching "Say Yes To The Dress" re-runs, gearing up for a bridal show tomorrow, enjoying a Smirnoff Ice and trying not to fall apart.
     The last few days have been a challenge with several things. I called into the air force base veterinary clinic to be told that the position I was really hoping and praying for has been filled already... and I didn't even get an interview. The stress from not being able to pay bills, or simply be able to go out for coffee was something I was greatly looking forward to being free from. At this point I am back to considering the possibility of heading back out of state, even if it is just temporary, to find something that will provide some form of stability.
    The lack of an occupation hasn't been the only thing weighing heavy on my mind as of late. As many of you have been inquiring I do not feel that it is inappropriate to include this in my blog. For the past several months I have been corresponding with a young man that I met through working with Sermon On The Mount. He is currently a first year apprentice with Miracle Mountain Ranch and came out to visit and meet the family for a day or two last week. Just a few days ago we decided it would be best to put the proverbial brakes on in our relationship until he is further along in the program and we've gotten to know each other more as friends.
    The dilemma in both situations is what my flesh wants verses what God wants and what my heart knows it right.
    Philippians 2:3-8 - Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.