January 29, 2010

A Modern-Day Revolutionary

For better or worse, Dan and I send our children to public school. It was never a deliberate decision, it's just something one does around here. There are very few Christian schools nearby and I don't know a single local person who home schools. We live in a good area, with good schools but I wonder if we've made the right choice for my kids—not for their education (which for the most part has been very good), but for their character.

As much as public school has to offer, one thing is very clear: They do not protect the innocence of our children. Perhaps in an attempt to enlighten or to expose students to what they're eventually going to be exposed to anyway, it seems few topics are off limits. Add to this the fights, profanity, and talk of sex and drugs they witness in the hallways, at the lockers and on the bus, my kids are certainly getting an education! Last week a boy in my daughter's class wrote a front page story for our local paper about being gay and coming out. He's only 14.

I'm no Puritan who's calling for restoration of 16th century sensibilities. I know all of these issues are a part of our world, but when it comes to our children, once their innocence is gone, it's gone. Schools (society and parents) have tossed children into a sea of adult themes forgetting they don't yet know how to swim or even discern if the water's polluted. Collectively our moral responsibility has been hijacked in the name of social acceptance, political correctness and progressiveness. "Times are different now," we tell ourselves.


A high school near me has been in the news recently because they added R-rated movies— featuring scenes of sex, drug use, violence and suicide—to their curriculum. Some of the parents object saying the movies are gratuitously vulgar and softly pornographic. They're raising a fuss with the school board and they're losing. The parents have been maligned as being intolerant, repressed and promoting censorship. Squares out-of-touch with the times.


Yesterday a local columnist wrote about last week's school board meeting when a young "square" confronted the board, teachers and students during the public comments. His words left most speechless. And many angered.

Here's an excerpt of the column, as reported by J.D. Mullane of the Courier Times:

"It's hard to say anything on moral grounds when the teachers define the terms," Daniel Kilby, 24, said. "They're defining what morality is. They're defining what good is. They're defining what is evil also. And I want to also mention how many things have been censored through the history of American education.

"The history of American education within the past 40 years mostly has censored the Judeo-Christian world view. Have you guys every heard of 'Pilgrims Progress'? C.S. Lewis' 'Mere Christianity'? These are all works banned on religious grounds. Have you ever heard of G.K. Chesterton?

"Censorship is a problem coming from both (sides). As a Christian - I'm not afraid to say it - I am appalled by the things that are being censored in public schools. The Bible. (There are educators who) have told Christians who have brought the Bible to quiet reading time that they're not allowed to bring the Bible to quiet reading time. And the evil ..."

Kilby added that "evil" - as understood in epic Western literature - was defined by the Bible.
Kilby was cut off by the school board president. Outside the auditorium, Kilby told the reporter he felt compelled to speak when no other student did.
"They want these kids to believe that they're opening them up to the world, to experiences that are needed to function in the workplace or wherever," he said. "They are really opening them to the dark parts of the world. Why aren't they emphasizing the good of human nature? The revolutionary ideas that take all that evil we just heard (is) in those movies, and turn it to good, which is even more compelling. It's more powerful than the darkness of sex, drugs, rape, suicide and all. But let's face it, there is a mindset in the culture that sees evil as more thrilling and captivating than good.

"Someone has to stand up for it. Well, you saw them, how they looked at me. The person standing up for good is the revolutionary now," he said.
I want to find this young man and give him a hug—for his words, his courage and his conviction. I talk about living faith out loud, of being a light in the darkness, of defending the faith. But he actually DID it. And in a very public way, at the expense of ridicule, threats and chastisement.

Reading his remarks sobers me to how complacent I am. I wouldn't have spoken up like he did.  I'd followed the story in the paper and those thoughts weren't even in my head. While I think I'm wise of the ways of the world,  the reality is I've become far too tolerant and accepting of "societal norms" and of thinking that's just the way life is now. 

I don't want my children to live in a bubble, fearing the "world" and cursing the darkness. But, how can I equip them to be a light in the world, when I myself can't recognize the gray?

January 26, 2010

A Little of This...

I’ve become a neglectful blog parent (and blog friend) in the past few weeks…“Sorry!” I really hope to get back into more regular posting and visiting. For today I lots of little things to share—some newsy, some prayerful, some celebratory and some just plain silly.

Haiti Relief
It’s been over a week since the devastating earthquake hit Haiti. As relief pours in from all over the world, even in such a tragedy God’s love is boldly visible. The Foundation for Peace, the organization that sponsored our mission trip to the Dominican Republic last summer, is actively providing food and medical assistance to Haitian earthquake survivors at the border in Jimani.

Two of my friends are in-country now working with the FFP. And several folks from our church—including my husband—are planning to travel there in the next few weeks to help. In addition to the many prayers being offered for Haiti, please pray for their safety, for the myriad details that need to fall into place, and for God’s strength and provision for those offering care.

Welcome and Thank You
I’m so appreciative for every single one of you, my readers. Your encouragement, comments and support are the fuel that keeps me going. Just knowing I’m not writing into the ethers of cyberspace provides great comfort! Recently several new readers have subscribed. I want to say, “Welcome,” and let you know how thankful I am to have you reading. Please leave a comment and say, “Hi.”

Hot off the Press
I just received my very own copy of Faith and Finances: In God We Trust — A Journey to Financial Dependence. This wonderful devotional provides spiritual insight and practical advice on how to let go of the very thing we cling so tightly to—our money. Besides featuring award-winning and best-selling authors, this book features a devotional written by me! I'm still new to formal publishing and it’s exciting to see my name in print.

Read more about Faith and Finances, here 

Must Read Book 
Like many of you, I read a lot of books. At Christmastime I won the book Scared by Tom Davis, from Julie Gillies. Julie said it was the best book she read in 2009. Well, I just finished it and whole-heartedly agree! Even though Scared is a work of fiction, the world and life stories described in the book are based on the real life stories of the book’s author. From page one Scared grabbed my interest, heart and emotions, and didn’t let go.

I was transported into a starved, war-torn, desperate Africa with photojournalist, Stuart Daniels. It’s there he meets Adanna, a young girl whose twelve years have held more hunger and suffering one should experience in a dozen lifetimes. Set amid the AIDS epidemic, crippling poverty and unending starvation, Scared tells a sobering and often difficult-to-read tale of love and hope and redemption. By the end of the book it was clear that Tom Davis didn’t set out to entertain with his debut novel, he set out to change lives—both the readers’ and the orphans he’s written about.

I highly, highly recommend you beg, borrow or buy your own copy of Scared today!   

And Now for Something Silly…
For a long time I was app-rehensive about all the chatter about "apps." Now that my family has gone iTouch/iPhone crazy I'm an "app" convert. The latest addition in our house is the free app  called the Moron Test and we've all spent far too long playing it. If you want to entertain/frustrate yourself for hours, I highly recommend it. (The good news is that I’ve determined I’m not quite a moron. And I think I rejuvenated a few brain cells in the process.)

"There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men." (1 Corinthians 12:4-6)

January 18, 2010

Sweating…and Liking It

I’ve been away for a while. Not away physically, but taking a break. Going within. Venturing out. Connecting with friends. Wrestling with faith. Searching…and to a small degree finding.

Old issues. New questions. A never-ending quest. And through it all God remains the same, regardless of how assured or shaky my point of view. The more I learn, the more I see how little I really know.

But I do know that today seems to be the day that I’ll start to write again. And that’s a good thing.

This spring Dan and I will celebrate 20 years of marriage. Not a huge milestone, but one we’re proud of. To mark the occasion we’ve planned something special. Something for which I need to be in shape. There was a day—not that long ago—when I was in darn good shape. When I used words like “heart rate” and “cadence” and “hill climb” in the same sentence.  When I had gear and a training schedule and a “team.” That day is not today.

While I regularly take long walks with my dog, I honestly haven’t broken a sweat during a workout for a looooong time! My gym membership has become a donation. (Too bad the gym isn’t a charity.)

It’s not that I don’t like to workout (really), it’s that I’ve lost the habit. First to playing tennis and then to creeping laziness. Now the inertia keeps me firmly planted. In the battle between stasis and momentum, the former won hands down.

But the trip Dan and I have planned has given me motivation and a goal to work toward. So, last week for the first time in over a year (or two), I got back on my road bike and went for a spin (albeit on rollers in my basement). As expected it hurt. My legs hurt, my heart hurt and my butt hurt (that bike seat is hard!). But with my iPod blaring my favorite Christian tunes, the music carried me along.

I warmed up to Bethany Dillon.
Road the flats with Kirk Franklin, Bebo Norman and Casting Crowns.
Cranked up hills with Third Day and David Crowder.
And cooled down with Chris Tomlin.

Sweat dripped down my brow and off the tip of my nose. It drenched my shirt and ran down my calves. The blood flowed as I used long untapped muscles. I dug for endurance where I wasn’t sure I’d find any. The adrenaline surge reminded me of how much I enjoy this. And most of all, focused solely on the music, long-familiar songs spoke to my spirit in new ways. My workout became an amazing time of worship. And a sweaty, out-of-breath prayer.

The words of Psalm 139 rang in my head, “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” (v. 14) What miraculous creations we are. And how glorious to offer that which God created, our bodies, back to Him in thanksgiving and praise—no matter what our abilities or fitness level.

While one exercise session, no matter how inspiring, can't solve all that weighs me down, I thank God for blessing me with His presence and pray for His spirit to motivate and sustain me through the next 85 (or so). I’ll keep you posted.

We are wonderfully made, indeed.

Gotta’ run. Even more exciting than a motivating workout is the new season of 24, which starts NOW. That is definitely something that gets my blood pumping!

January 17, 2010

Book Review: Jesus Lives by Sarah Young

This is the first gift book I’ve reviewed and it was a lovely change of pace from some of the denser non-fiction entries of late. Jesus Lives by Sarah Young is a follow up to her popular Jesus Calling devotional.

In Jesus Lives author Sarah Young provides 180 topical devotionals exemplifying Jesus' presence in your life, giving insight and wisdom, and bringing to light the truth of Romans 8:11: The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you!

Sarah writes Jesus Lives through the voice of God. Each entry features an aspect of faith or truth as spoken through Jesus’ perspective. She writes to bring the reader into a closer relationship with our Savior. As a result, each devotional feels like a heavenly embrace. It is a lovely read, filled with encouragement, insight and wisdom.

Devotionals speak to our spirit in very personal ways. I enjoyed reading Jesus Lives, but I very much wanted it to resonate deep within my soul and it did not. I found Sarah Young’s God-centered point of view difficult to embrace. I recognize that others may love this about her book. Like I said it’s personal.

Sarah Young vividly demonstrates her passion for Jesus in this lovely gift book. It is extremely well done and at some time in the future I plan to revisit it. As an interesting coincidence, I received Sarah Young’s first devotional, Jesus Calling as a Christmas present. I’m finding that this volume is just what my spirit it looking for!

To comply with new regulations introduced by the Federal Trade Commission, I must mention that Thomas Nelson has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book.

January 7, 2010

I Need a Drink

A new year. A new decade. A clean slate to start anew. With 2010 stretching out like a vast blank canvas, it feels like my first words written upon it should be revolutionary, monumental, significant. Yet the words and phrases bouncing around my mind sound incredibly ordinary and every day. One word bubbles to the surface of my consciousness and out through my typing fingers.


The other day I heard sloshing coming from the bathroom. In response to the familiar sound I yelled, “Tess! Stop drinking from the toilet!”  The slurping ceased and out emerged our furriest family member, our Yellow Lab. With water dripping from her jowls, she looked sheepish, but satisfied.

I glanced at her empty water bowl and understood the reason for the alternate beverage choice. See, when it comes to thirst, Tess will do whatever it takes to satisfy it, without regard for propriety (or taste apparently). She’ll drink from toilets, our pond out back, swimming pools, lakes, streams and even mud puddles. When she’s thirsty, she’s gotta have water… NOW!

As much as Tess’ liquid refreshment choices make me gag, I suppose her dog brain tells her what’s OK to drink because she’s never gotten sick. (Although I draw the line at the mud puddles.)

I want to be more like Tess. No, not to drink from toilets, but to be driven by thirst. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus describes such a thirst. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” (Matthew 5:6)

When I first read this passage, I didn’t understand how being hungry and thirsty was a blessing. Then I delved deeper and realized Jesus wasn’t talking about physical hunger or thirst, but spiritual. He wants us to have an unsatiable thirst for the Almighty. To love Him with all we have—body, mind and soul. To seek Him. To submit to Him and learn from Him. To open the door and let Him in. He doesn’t want us to snack, but to partake fully. Robustly. Passionately.

God promises that when we do, we will know Him in ways beyond our understanding and comprehension. And our souls will be satisfied.
“If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” (John 7:37-38)
So that is my prayer for 2010, to develop an unquenchable thirst. For His word. For prayer. For worship. For fellowship. For reaching out in His name. I want to crave the Almighty more than I crave freshly baked brownies or a venti caramel macchiato. I pray this for you, too.

Let’s make a promise,though—no drinking out of the toilets.