Random Thoughts

Have you ever noticed that when God wants you to get something, really “get it”, He continually spells it out in front of you? The last couple of weeks have been that way for me.

It started when I picked back up reading Secrets of the Vine by Wilkinson. Learning about how God “prunes” us is certainly interesting and I became increasingly intrigued by the idea. So, I began looking up verses that were referenced and studying the notes in my application Bible.

Then it started. I became acutely aware of how I was responding to adverse circumstances. Even though nothing joltingly remarkable happened, there was plenty of pain to attract my focus. Now, a couple of really crappy days and a few bad decisions later, I am realizing that God has been doing “His thing” in my life all along!

I am praying that I can truly get it now and do better. And I am encouraged by the words of Paul in Philippians 3:13-14:

…but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead. I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.

I want to focus on that ONE THING! My heart’s desire is to join author John Piper when he writes:

Lord, let me make a difference for you that is utterly disproportionate to who I am.

I know God will continue to prune as He sees fit. My only hope is that I can respond by focusing on the prize…

Ten years. A decade. It seems like a long time in a lot of ways. But really, it’s not. Time goes by so fast, especially when I stop and think about it. Over the last couple of weeks I have been thinking about it more than usual.

Tomorrow marks an unusual “anniversary.” Ten years ago tomorrow at 11:21 two young boys decided to act on a premeditated plan of violence and hatred. And it changed my life.

It was a nice Spring Colorado day. Business as usual. I was at the office with a handful of other D2S staffers when someone heard the news. Greg was out of the office meeting with some youth pastors at the time and so those of us back in the office scrambled to make sure he had heard and they were praying. The phones began to ring as friends began to process what was going on just a few miles away. All we knew to do was to pray and get others to pray.

Those of us with kids in school (my son was a freshman in high school at the time) wrestled with feelings of fear and panic. Should we go get our kids? As parents we wanted to control the situation by gathering our families and going home to lock out the world. I remember wondering about the “why” behind these boy’s behavior. What could have driven two middle class suburban teenagers to such a desperate place? How could this have happened?

Hours later I was in the parking lot to pick up my son. “Did you hear?” I asked. “Of course, mom,” he answered. “Are you okay? Are you scared?” I was terrified but didn’t want him to see it. “Yeah, a little bit.” He was at an age where conversations were more short than sweet.

It’s amazing to me how quickly I can recall the emotions of that day even after ten years have passed. Once I knew my son was safe I began to think about the hundreds of teenagers that D2S had been able to reach up til then. We needed to reach more! These kids need hope. They need purpose.

My prayer was (and still is) that God will use this small army of D2S teenagers to reach their own generation! I have no idea what else it’s going to take to make this happen, but He does. I just keep asking Him for wisdom. Help me. Help us. Lord, please don’t let this happen again.

Please pray with me this week that the memory of this horrible massacre will burden the hearts of teenagers to reach out to every teen around them (inside or outside of their “circle”) with the good news of Jesus Christ. Pray also for love, encouragement, and support for them from the adults who surround them.

Let it be known that I am an avid people watcher! But not the typical people watcher, mind you, I have a twist. My most favorite thing to do (especially at airports, the zoo, or the park) is to zoom in on parents and their children. No, I am not a parental critic. Most often it doesn’t really matter to me how parent’s decide to raise their kids. I spend my time trying to figure out who the kid looks like! I find it fascinating! Mom’s eyes? Dad’s nose? Hmmm…

I can spend hours doing this and for some crazy reason I just think it’s a blast! I wonder if it’s because deep down inside I am absolutely amazed with the entire creation process? Have you ever thought about it?

Here’s another twist… Have you ever wondered who you look like? Have you ever wondered how much you “look like” Jesus? I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately and it’s been an interesting introspection. When I recount my day and put it through the test, I see many, many moments where I didn’t “look like” my Savior at all.

I am reading a great book called, UnChristian, by David Kinnaman. The entire book is based on research about how young “outsiders” (those who do not know Christ) perceive Christians. As a believer it has helped me understand a few things. At the end of each chapter the author has given pages to a few contributors for insight. Yesterday I found this great quote from Sarah Raymond Cunningham:

I am not asked to impersonate the Holy Spirit but to live a life that gives off God’s fluorescence. And I resolve to remember that God often allows us to learn just as much as we travel our chosen paths as we would have if we had walked only his lighted portions.

I love what she is saying here about learning from our bad days as well as our good days. Yes, no matter what, my desire is that I learn what He would have me learn.

God’s fluorescence… I love that!

My hubby and I have a routine every Sunday. We get to the coffee shop early in order to sit for an hour or so, sip coffee, listen to our iPods, and read and study. This morning was no different. What was unusual was the violin case we saw sitting on the sidewalk outside. We walked by and then once inside we discussed our concern. Should we pick it up and bring it inside? Maybe someone forgot it? What a strange place to leave a violin!

Rick went out to get it but then returned empty handed. “Where is it?” I asked. But he said that when he opended the case the violin inside was broken to pieces, no longer worth anything. We wondered what this instrument’s story was… maybe a young student got angry because his parents made him practice. In any case, I began to think about how this instrument would never be able to provide music again. How sad…

Sometimes I feel like this violin. Broken and abandoned, no music left in me. But then I remember that the Lord never leaves us and that he is strong when we are weak. We need only to look to Him for refreshment and guidance. He will repair our broken strings. Matthew 11:28-30 says,

…Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your soulds. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.

I know that Jesus does not promise an easy road but an easier load with His burden than with mine. I also know that he promises to be with me along the way. He is teaching me while providing love and rest. I am so thankful for His faithfulness!

Whew! What a week! On Tuesday, our friends to the south at Focus on the Family announced a reduction in force by close to 200. They are completely cutting their teen and youth programs. Many hard-working, Christ-serving, wonderful folks are facing unemployment during a national economic crisis.

That same day, I headed to Tennesse. The majority of the trip was focused on attending the Youth Specialties National Youth Workers Convention in Nashville. As we met with various ministry leaders, they too were feeling the pressures of these uncertain times. Attendance at events is shrinking, donations are drying up. But in the midst of it all, what I saw and heard over and over was ministry leadership fervently pursuing wisdom.

I truly believe that God is working amongst His people to focus them on His will. It seems that many have become distracted – maybe even by good things and with pure motives – but distracted from what God has called them to do.

Dare 2 Share is going through this process too. Only we started about 9 months ago in response to a board directive. The board’s timing was not coincidence. If this process would have started any later, we may well have been hit just as hard if not harder than many of our friends. Thank You Father, for convicting the hearts of the Godly men you have called to our board.

Proverbs 17:24 says,

Sensible people keep their eyes glued on wisdom. But a fools eyes wander to the ends of the earth.

Please pray with me for our leadership as we continue to work through this process. We need God’s wisdom now more than ever.

Of all the week’s in our nation’s history, I can’t think of a better time for Christians to really SHINE!

I began my study this morning diving into Philipians 2. I knew that our message today would be based on the passage and it also contains my “life verses” (vs. 3-5). But within the hour I was finding myself camping on vs. 14-18 and really trying to understand Paul’s message to the church of Philippi (and us).

Here he is in prison, probably awaiting his trial or something and he decides to write about how everything should be done without complaining or arguing. Why? So that this world could see “bright lights” and so that no matter what happens to him, he will know that the message and teaching he brought to them was not in vain. Hold firm, he says, and rejoice.

Well, that’s convicting! These past few weeks before the election have shown the world everyone’s true colors — and unfortunately, it’s not pretty. Not only has there been backstabbing and vicious mudslinging against the two “sides,” but even believers are arguing with each other. And when they are not arguing, my fellow co-laborers for Christ are complaining! Over and over I have heard… “Well, what are we going to do if…” Yeah, I’m guilty too.

Obviously, I have no idea what the outcome will be. But I do know one thing – we (Christians, that is) have a tremendous opportunity before us. SHINE! Rejoice! God will not be surprised by the result. He will still be very much in control. And who knows, maybe we will all be motivated to share Jesus with a bit more urgency than we have in the past.

Father – we pray for this nation’s leadership, no matter who ends up in the oval office. And I pray for all of us to remember how You have called us to live… as “bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people.” Amen.

Fall has always been my favorite season. When I was a little girl I couldn’t wait for new school clothes, new friends, and a new teacher. As I got older, it seemed as if it was always the season for new beginnings. And since 1994, being involved with Dare 2 Share, it has also meant the opening of a new student conference tour season – the fruition of months and months of hard work and planning.

Almost always these “new beginnings” are positive. But this season has brought some transitions that hold a bittersweet place in my heart:

  • Ministry friends move on – More than one close friend I’ve done ministry beside for years has been called to a new mission. But Carol Ann’s departure this month has hit me the hardest. I have been serving beside this wonderful woman for over 6 years and I can’t imagine doing ministry without her. I know God is going to use her in amazing ways to directly serve those in need in her new role. So how can I argue with that?
  • Rick reaches 50 – My incredible husband has spent half his life with me! That in itself is remarkable. I am SO thankful that his MS is stable and he remains in pretty good health – but my heart is broken because he continues to struggle with his job. He is the most loyal person I know and has weathered a lot of company ups and downs but is daily reaching the edge of his tolerance. Pray for God’s wisdom for him, it isn’t easy for a 50-year-old to embark on a new career.
  • TJ is getting ready to graduate – Tim has worked so hard! And although he has changed schools and majors, his degree fits him well. A bachelor’s in broadcast production with minors in interactive and digital media. Well done, son! He is a gifted writer and editor with an eye for understanding the audience. I am excited for him and nervous for him all at the same time.
  • New mission at Dare 2 Share – We are finalizing a new mission statement and with it will come more focus. I can’t tell you how excited that makes me! We have gone back to our “roots” so to speak and I truly believe the change is God-ordained. Now comes the hard part of shedding away those things that don’t fit – and while I recognize that this is necessary for us in many ways, it is still a fairly painful process.
  • New church home – We decided to begin worshipping at Northern Hills Church. We love the format, the people, really just about everything! Except the drive, that is. It’s 30-40 minutes on a great day, but it’s worth it. We have met some new friends and it’s been exciting but I feel the “tug” in my spirit as my connections with old friends has trickled away to virtually non existent. I miss them terribly and wish I could be in two places at once.

Transitions are always exciting because they bring the new and unknown, the fresh air of change. Bitter and sweet.

Do you ever flip through television channels? Well, I don’t very often (mostly because I honestly believe that it takes testosterone to operate a remote control). But the other day I happened to be folding some laundry and decided to see what was on in order to make the chore a bit less routine. Somehow or another I ended up being intrigued by the “World Poker Tournament” I came across. I now know of at least three men who have played professionaly and I find that pretty interesting. I have never played the game personally, but obviously it’s becoming quite the “sport” (?)

I watched as a sunglass-wearing, straight-faced young man declared he was “all in.” It must have been a big deal, because the commentators went on and on about how strategic a move it was. Well, I didn’t stick around long enough to find out what happened — yep, I kept flipping! But I found myself thinking about it again while I was at church this Sunday. (sorry Rob!)

Rob was preaching on Romans 12 talking to us about our bodies being a “living sacrifice” and exhorting us to consider how God had gifted each of us to serve the Body of Christ. That’s when I thought… am I “all in?” Have I really given Him everything I have?

Knowing nothing about poker, I looked up the term on wiki. Apparently when the player goes all in he is betting everything he has. But here’s the catch: he can’t win any more than he has from any one player. So, in essence, he “caps” the pot.

What more do we gain by going “all in” for our Savior! He promises that our return will come back many times. We may not see our return this side of eternity, but it is a SURE THING!

That was the expression that sent me and my wonderful hubby into side-splitting, almost crying but not quite, laughter during our 25-year anniversary getaway this past weekend.

There we were just enjoying a nice meal at our newly discovered great breakfast spot in Carbondale when somehow I responded to a comment with a very nonchalant “crazy.” “Who did you pick that up from?” Rick asks. “I didn’t pick it up from anyone, it’s mine,” I declare. And, well, if you know Rick you know what followed. Yep. A very sarcastic “oh really…” Then it happened – lots and lots of LOL!

What a great few days in one of the most beautiful places I have ever been (Redstone, CO) with the most fabulous person I have ever known (my husband). Along with the postcard picture perfect scenery and unbelievable weather, Rick made this one of our most memorable excursions ever.

It started with 25 long-stem roses – one for each year – as I walked in the door on Wednesday evening after a long day at work. Then we headed out for one amazing anniversary meal at Texas de Brazil – a champagne toast, endless european salad bar, and all the meat you can eat. The kicker was creme brulee (my most favorite desert in the world) with a hint of citrus! Yum!

In Redstone, we stayed in a cozy and charming victorian cottage right on main street, but well hidden by incredible landscaping. We felt like a part of this quaint community. The people were friendly and there were a couple of great food spots and some fun shops to visit. It wasn’t packed with tourists (which was so nice) but we did spend one afternoon in Glenwood (about an hour away) to visit the Strawberry Days Festival – plenty of folks there!

We went fishing and belly boating, toured the 100-year-old castle, explored the history of the area, slept in, spent time in our own backyard hot tub, watched a movie, shared thoughts on a Louie Giglio video, barbequed, slept in, and just enjoyed each other’s company!!

Thank you Rick- for 25 incredible years of partnership! I love growing old with you!

I recently lost a young friend. She was 27 years old and six months pregnant with her third child. I had first met Lois when she was a high school student and joined my senior high girls small group. She was full of energy and joy for the Lord. Later, she came to work at Dare 2 Share while she was in college. She lit up the office with her smile.

Although I hadn’t kept in touch much with Lois over the past several years, her sudden passing jolted me in a way I can’t really explain. I struggled with a heavy cloud of sadness for days and still haven’t quite been able to shake it. I keep trying to grasp why the Lord would allow me (someone not that close to her) to feel this way. I even considered that maybe I was struggling with depression and this tragedy just triggered it somehow.

Then on Sunday, as I continued my “wisdom quest,” the Lord took me to Ecclesiastes 7. Here I was studying Soloman, and God decides to talk to me about death! Look at verses 3-4:

Sorrow is better than laughter, for sadness has a refining influence on us. A wise person thinks a lot about death, while a fool thinks only about having a good time.

My Bible’s notes talk about how people avoid death, not wanting to face it. I have always been that way. As a matter of fact, it’s easy for me to think of at least 3 funerals I purposely didn’t attend.

I think Solomon is trying to tell us that our sorrow should be used to help us understand how to priortize our lives and to give us a sense of urgency to fulfill our purpose here on this earth. As a matter of fact, look what I found a few chapters later in chapter 9:

Whatever you do, do well. For when you go to the grave, there will be no work or planning or knowledge or wisdom.

Thank you, Lois, for your reminder that we must live for the Lord every minute of every day! I will miss you!

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