Monday, April 30, 2007

Live and Learn

I have been pretty good on the "honoring God with my food choices" bit. But tonight, our Bible study group went to Ruby Tuesday's. Now, compared to how much food I'm USED to eating, I didn't have so much tonight - a burger, fries and one full plate from the salad bar. But I KNEW I wasn't that hungry (I had already snacked at home) and NOW I'm feeling miserable. Not emotionally - I just have that icky "my stomach is way too full" feeling.

So, I should have listened to my body and only ate what I needed. Live and learn I suppose. My blood sugar will probably be high in the morning too, because I didn't go out and walk that starch off.

Tomorrow's a new day and I will remember the lesson of the evening. Live and learn.

I'm going to try sharpies on the blue jean quilt. I know they're not the best choice - but we're watching the money and fabric paints are out of the question right now. I guess I could check and find my Michael's coupon... I'll try that tomorrow.

(P.S... No one tell those blue jean quilters how much extra cutting I did on those jeans - I cut the legs apart so each pair resulted in four pieces. I did not think very hard about that - but I did cut very hard! Oh well - I'll know for next time... Live and learn!)

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Blue Jean Blues

I'm planning on getting my students at school to make a blue jean quilt for our school auction. I got some used jeans and they've been sitting and waiting for me. Tonight, I started taking them apart. Cutting jeans is hard work!

My co-worker has volunteered to do the sewing, so what's next is finding what to decorate the squares with. Anyone have a great idea of what kind of fabric marker/fabric paint to use on the blue jeans?

R. has fixed the brake line on his car! Whoooo hoooo! We had several days this past week that we had to wake up at 5:00 AM to get to school. Back to a normal schedule next week.

Well, almost normal. This coming week is Apple Blossom Festival here in Winchester, Virginia. When our family moved here 13 years ago, things were a lot slower and I remember calling my sister and saying, "Wow, there are traffic jams in Winchester!" Well, things have grown and there are often traffic jams on the Winchester streets.

But Apple Blossom is a fun time - pageantry and parades and a queen and a princess. Here's a link if you're curious. Apple Blossom Website

The boys like to do the Fireman's Parade, complete with fireworks after it. And we often do the carnival. One of the best things? Friday is considered a holiday and all the school systems are off. Yeah for us!

Tomorrow, we're having a picnic at church and a bluegrass concert. I'm looking forward to that!

Hope you're having a great day!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Anyone want to do my midterm grades for me? I hate paperwork.

Things around here have been very busy. Now that the van is working, R.'s little car's brake line went out. He will probably finish fixing it this week - but it's a pain with one vehicle. But at least we have it! :)

I need to get to cutting out squares for our blue jean quilt we're going to make for our school auction. The kids are going to decorate their own squares and then we'll sew them together. I think it will be nice.

Off to dream land!

Sunday, April 22, 2007

The Deceased and Heaven

On March 17 of last year, my father died. Now, my dad was a funny guy and was very friendly. But he was an alcoholic with many terrible things that happened in his life (his mother died when he was three years old; MY mother - his wife - died and left him with three children under the age of 13.) There are more that I could list for you. And he would list them - often - because he was so angry at God for causing these bad things to happen to him. When I shared with him the Bible's teaching - that God works all things together for the good of those who love Him - he didn't want to hear it. Life was unfair and that's just the way it was.

My father heard what was in the Bible; he liked to "argue" religion at times. If he was sober, they were interesting conversations. But Dad wanted no part of a personal relationship with God, with Jesus Christ. He pushed God away.

He pushed God away, as far as I know, until it was too late. My Dad died in a nursing home of a heart attack. And my heart was grieved - is grieved. Now, I don't know what happened on his death bed and I am not God - but as far as I knew my father rejected God up until the moment he died.

Christianity - the Bible - teaches that's the end. There are no more chances. Jesus in Luke 16 tells what happened to two people who died, one who went to heaven and one who went to hell (a waiting place before the final judgement.) You can read the account here. There was no waiting, no prayers that could help you move from one place to another; your choices in life become your destiny in death. And we all have that choice. That free-will thing God created us with.

And so, I grieved my father's death. I mourned that, as far as I know, I will never see him again. I still sorrow over his death - but I could not make him choose when he was alive and nothing I can do now can help him.

Contrast that to a funeral I attended a couple of years ago for a friend of mine. Mike was a fantastic father, excellent musician and had a deep, abiding love for God and his work. His relationship with Christ was strong, and even as he battled throat cancer, he praised God for giving him more days with his precious children, four boys. At his funeral, there were tears for his family and tears that we would not have him here with us - but it was a joyous celebration because he died a Christian. We couldn't pray him into a place - he made his choices here on this earth and there was nothing we could do to change that.

I believe in Heaven - I believe in the Bible and the Bible definitely states there is a heaven - and a hell. The book of Revelation describes heaven for us. It also describes things that have happened, are happening now, or will happen in the future. Some people shy away from Revelation because it is heavy in symbolism. But you can see from the earlier passage I cited that the Bible teaches there is a heaven.

I think many people don't know what they believe - and I am learning more as I study the Bible and understand more.

I will leave you with this passage describing heaven after the final judgment. I have highlighted my favorite passage. It always brings a smile to my face.

Revelation 21:3 - 8

3And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away."

5He who was seated on the throne said, "I am making everything new!" Then he said, "Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true."

6He said to me: "It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life. 7He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son. 8But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death."

I hope that I have chosen my words carefully - I wanted to share my passion about my relationship with my Creator. Questions and discussions are good for building bridges and developing dialogue. Violence and anger are too often the response when religion is involved. I've shared my heart - anyone else?

Relationship - vs. Religion

Wow, over in Shelina's post of Sunday, she asks some intriguing questions. She probably thinks I already answered them - LOL! But I was never one to keep quiet... (was I as talkative in college, Shelina?)

Anyway, I have taken the liberty of copying some parts of Shelina's post to help in people understanding my comments. My passion is my relationship with God. I dislike at times calling it a religion, because sometimes that word brings to mind meaningless rituals, devoid of deep meaning and relationship. Through the Old and New Testament, I am given a glimpse into the nature of the Creator of the world and of mankind. Believing the Bible to be the infallible Word of God, I trust its truths that are presented.

When I became a Christian at the age of 13, I began an intimate relationship with God because His Holy Spirit is now dwelling in me (Acts 2:38.) That relationship has been what has sustained me through the hard times and the good times in life.

At times, that relationship became a "religion;" I went to church because it was the right thing to do - even when the passion waned. Faith in God cannot be based solely on feeling; faith is not feeling - it is fact. If I did not believe the Bible to be true, then my relationship with God is built on a lie and - to me - it becomes useless. In times of doubt and uncertainty, I KNOW that God is there, even when I can't feel Him.

Okay, so obviously I'm passionate about my relationship with God :) .

And trying to convert someone? Well, if you knew for a fact that a bridge down the road from you had collapsed, leaving a horrific drop-off into a raging river - wouldn't you do everything in your power to stop the traffic from traveling down that road? You'd barricade the road, or stand waving your arms, screaming, "Stop!! The bridge is out! If you go down this road, you are going to DIE!"

That's why believers try to "convert" - it's why we share our faith. If we stood by silent (as I have done at times,) we see people heading for disaster - when perhaps we could have made a difference.

Alright - I wonder if these blogs have a word limit? Next topic: the deceased...

Friday, April 20, 2007

Moment of Silence Pondered

Shelina commented on my earlier post about the moment of silence for the Virginia Tech tragedy and asked a question. I believe the question has several parts, so I guess that's the way to respond.

As to the particular time, in my opinion, that is exactly what you said - to publicly show unity and concern. I'm sure many have been praying and remembering those involved since the news broke. But a pause in the day puts a unified feeling on it.

And why pray together? Well, the New Testament does tell us that the early church gathered together in prayer. Also, Jesus said, "Where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them." Now, we can pray alone; but praying together I don't think it's like voting, but it does unite the hearts of the people together.

Now, I can't answer for all the people who bowed their heads to pray today. But the prayers that my students and I lifted up were for the family and those left behind. The New Testament says in Hebrews 9:27, "Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him."

There may be some "Christian" sects who teach there is a waiting period where people need prayers, but I cannot see support for that in the New Testament. Those who passed away cannot be helped by our prayers.

This is a teaching that varies among many religions. Some of you reading this may wonder if Shelina and I have had these religious discussions all throughout our friendship. We really haven't. I was too chicken to bring it up! LOL I've also grown more in my understanding of the Scriptures and maybe can answer a little better.

I appreciate the comments. Religion cannot be a mindless response to something; even in the New Testament we are called to study to show ourselves approved. Blind faith is a weakened dam wall, waiting to break under pressure.

Moment of Silence

Today, the citizens of Virginia and others around the world gathered for a moment of silence for the victims of the Virginia Tech shootings.

I am so thankful that I work in a place where I could gather with my students and pray - and not be silent.

May we all not be silent as we see people around us drowing in a sea of despair. May we all reach out and support those around us.

God help us all.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Peter and the Storm

This is something I wrote up to share with my fellow staff members at our school on Wednesday. Perhaps it will be of interest to you all... :) I think the principles could apply to any relationship. Thanks for reading.

Matthew 14:22 - 32
Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray.

When evening came, he was there alone, but the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.

During the fourth watch of the night Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. "It's a ghost," they said, and cried out in fear.

But Jesus immediately said to them: "Take courage! It is I. Don't be afraid."

"Lord, if it's you," Peter replied, "tell me to come to you on the water."

"Come," he said.

Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, "Lord, save me!"

Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. "You of little faith," he said, "why did you doubt?"

And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down.

What did Peter do? Well, certainly something we might classify as crazy! The storm was raging, but maybe he wanted to show off a little bit. He certainly was an impulsive risk-taker.

What did Jesus do? He invited Peter out on the water - KNOWING FULL WELL PETER WAS GOING TO SINK! And yet, Jesus came alongside Peter right when he was sinking. He reached out His hand and held on. Jesus held Peter up as the storm still raged. And in those moments - 5 seconds, 5 minutes? - we don’t know - I imagine Peter and Jesus, face to face, looking each other in the eye. And then, in loving tenderness, Jesus teaches and rebukes Peter. In private. In the midst of the storm. Jesus was there - for Peter. Holding him up - out of the waves, out of the danger.

We need to hold our kids up. Not only the ones on solid ground, but the ones who are slipping, the ones who are sinking! Too many of them have heard the waves continue to lash out, “Failure, Loser! Look around! You’ll never make it through!”

We were put in this school, in this ministry for a reason. We are called to reach and to hold onto the ones in the storm.

We cannot let the busyness of our day - the storms that are present all around us - we cannot let those things stop us from reaching out to those kids who so desperately need us!

You know the kids - the ones who are always firing off at the mouth, the ones you can’t ignore in the hallways or in the cafeteria. The ones that are hollering out, “Look at me!”

Look at them, please - through the eyes of Jesus. Hold onto them as they reach out for help. Don’t let them go - don’t let them down.

With Christ there is always hope. The young men and women who walk through our halls have potential in Christ that only He knows.

For just a moment, think of two men as they walked the roads of Jerusalem around the time Jesus was crucified. Two men who had rejected their relationship with the Savior. Do you know the two men? Yes, Peter and Judas.

Matthew 26:69-75
Now Peter was sitting out in the courtyard, and a servant girl came to him. "You also were with Jesus of Galilee," she said.

But he denied it before them all. "I don't know what you're talking about," he said.

Then he went out to the gateway, where another girl saw him and said to the people there, "This fellow was with Jesus of Nazareth."
He denied it again, with an oath: "I don't know the man!"

After a little while, those standing there went up to Peter and said, "Surely you are one of them, for your accent gives you away."

Then he began to call down curses on himself and he swore to them, "I don't know the man!"

Immediately a rooster crowed. Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken: "Before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times." And he went outside and wept bitterly.

Peter “the Rock”? Perhaps Peter was even then laughing in shame at the nickname. The Rock crumbled when push came to shove.

And Judas? Well, Judas had made a deal. But when he realized how much he had messed up, how much he had given up by accepting blood money, Judas went to someone for help.

Matthew 27:1-4

Early in the morning, all the chief priests and the elders of the people came to the decision to put Jesus to death. They bound him, led him away and handed him over to Pilate, the governor. When Judas, who had betrayed him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty silver coins to the chief priests and the elders.

"I have sinned," he said, "for I have betrayed innocent blood."

"What is that to us?" they replied. "That's your responsibility."

"What is that to us?" they replied. "That's your responsibility."

The Pharisees mocked him and turned him away. Judas saw no hope.

When Peter messed up, what did he do? Well, we know he wept in shame - and we know he went back to fishing. But I’m sure the words of Christ echoed hope in Peter’s heart: “And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” And WHEN you have turned back - not IF. Those words of Jesus were meant to encourage Peter - to remind him that all was not lost.

But - what about Judas? The one with no hope? No support?

Matthew 27:4-5
"I have sinned," he said, "for I have betrayed innocent blood."

"What is that to us?" the chief priests and the elders replied. "That's your responsibility."

So Judas threw the money into the temple and left. Then he went away and hanged himself.

Our kids are going to fail. WE are going to fail. But we have a choice to make: are we going to be the scoffers - the nay Sayers “Hey, that’s your responsibility!” Or “What else can you expect out of that kid?

Judas and Peter - both failures in their own eyes. But Peter allowed the echoes of hope to carry him through the dark times.

Judas asked for help - no one listened or cared. I wonder how different the outcome would have been if the chief priests had taken the money back or offered some morsel of hope to this desperate man? We will never know.

We have people in our lives who are asking for help, for hope. We have a choice to make: are we going to provide the voice of TRUTH - the truth of God’s word - that God loves and cares deeply for His children - all of His children. The TRUTH that, in Christ, there is forgiveness, there is grace, and there is hope.

Guard your words and guard your hearts. For the words we speak TO each other, the words we speak ABOUT each other - they are heard - they have power. And we can be the voice of despair or the voice of TRUTH.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

The Temple

Today's sermon at church was so powerful. The preacher compared the earthly temple that Solomon built for God in the Old Testament, to the temple we have now. The temple of the Holy Spirit is each Christian (Acts 2:38.) God Himself makes His dwelling in us.

Now, I'm not convinced that sermon was written and designed just with me in mind, but it sure felt like it! I have been feeling the effects of not honoring God's presence in my body. This temple - my body - is a dwelling place for Him! How can I bring Him glory from a life that is not honoring Him?

Now, I know - I'm not a "bad" person. Do lots of good things for lots of people. Nice girl. But, the truth is - I've been in rebellion in this area of my life. And I am reaping the natural consequences of those choices now.

I am not going to go on a "diet" or "exercise program": I am going to choose to honor God with my choices (including what I eat, drink, and how much I move around!)

It's going to take prayer - something I avoid at times. I need to cultivate that relationship with God.

Well, thanks for listening/reading. Verses below for your reading pleasure.

1 Kings 8:27 "But will God really dwell on earth? The heavens, even the highest heaven, cannot contain you. How much less this temple I have built! 28 Yet give attention to your servant's prayer and his plea for mercy, O LORD my God. Hear the cry and the prayer that your servant is praying in your presence this day. 29 May your eyes be open toward this temple night and day, this place of which you said, 'My Name shall be there,' so that you will hear the prayer your servant prays toward this place. 30 Hear the supplication of your servant and of your people Israel when they pray toward this place. Hear from heaven, your dwelling place, and when you hear, forgive.

1 Corinthians 3:16Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's Spirit lives in you? 17If anyone destroys God's temple, God will destroy him; for God's temple is sacred, and you are that temple.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Taking Care of Yourself

Well, here is the afore-promised health report. R. got his biopsy report back and it is NOT cancer. So that is a praise! Even though prostate cancer is one of the most treatable cancers in the world – it’s still cancer. Not a pretty word. So I am thankful to God that this passed us by. And yet, still I wonder – why NOT us?

There’s a verse in Psalms (I think) that says “My ways are not your ways, neither are My thoughts your thoughts. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so are My ways than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.”

It is so hard to understand at times why young children suffer from cancer, why people are in accidents and lose their lives at an early age – and yet – for this time – our family has been spared this cancer scare.

Then there are MY health problems – which basically boil down to this: I have not taken care of my physical body the way I should have. I have eaten what I wanted when I wanted and have not exercised any where near enough. The stress test I took two weeks ago showed my heart has evidence of high blood pressure that has probably been going on for the past five years or more.

So now, I am going to start on high blood pressure medicine – which is in addition to the glucophage (for the Type II diabetes) and the whatever it is (for the high cholesterol.)

I feel like I’m this 70 year old woman!

But, the good news is, the doctor says my heart doesn’t show signs of blowing up any time soon, and I just need to work through the pounding heart and the hard breathing when I exercise. In other words, huff and puff until I lose enough weight so I’m NOT huffing and puffing any more.

So – my new self challenge. 30 minutes of exercise every day. It can be 1 x 30 (one session,) 2 x 15, or even at this point 3 x 10. I am committed to do this because I cannot stand the way I feel and I know that God wants us to take care of our bodies. I want to be around to see grandchildren (when I let my kids get married – in about 20 years or so.) I want to walk up a hill to look for a geocache without stopping three times! (Although I did find it – no matter how much huffing and puffing I had to do!)

Summer is coming so this will be easier for me. I am a person who thrives on routine – so I am to get this down before the school year is over.

Ahhhh, so much writing. Are your eyes bugging out yet? Thanks for listening to me rant and rave!

Monday, April 9, 2007

Religion is a sensitive topic to many adults. Wars are fought daily over who is right and who is wrong. We see on TV the consequences of disagreement every day.

But, in the playground of innocent children, such a topic is not so unusual.

This time of year, many churches hold Easter egg hunts, to draw in the little ones and provide some enjoyment for local families. My sister and her husband are neighborhood aunt/uncle (she would kick me if I said grandma/grandpa,) and take several neighborhood kids on outings.

Right before Easter this year, three kids were piled in the back of the Element. J., the oldest at 10, was clearly in control of the conversation. The five-year-old in the middle listened closely to the following exchange.

J., who attends the local Catholic church with his family, leaned over and looked at T., the seven-year old clutching the Easter basket.

"So, T. Are you Catholic?"

The folks in the car grew quiet and my sister eyed the situation in the rear view mirror. Wondering where this conversation might go. Wondering if the neighborhood peace would continue.

As T. thought about the question, her bright eyes shone. "No. I'm not Catholic. I think I'm public."

There are so many ways that conversation could have gone. My sister stifled her giggles. Children are so honest, so open, so willing to suspend the expected to answer the truth.

For a little bit, the car was silent, then the kids began to giggle again.

So, what are you?

Saturday, April 7, 2007

A Vessel For God

Lord, I know You made me -
Your hands designed my frame.
Before I even drew one breath,
O Lord, You knew my name.

With loving hands, You framed me -
with patience and with tears,
as I walk the road before me -
through the days and through the years.

May I bring You joy and pleasure -
May my life become a song.
Within my heart a treasure -
Your presence all day long.

Let me be a vessel for Your use.
Lord, cleanse me from within.
Fill my heart with Your Word
Each day as I begin.

May my heart be filled with wonder
as I look up to Your throne.
With my sisters there beside me,
I know I'm not alone.

Lord, I know You hear me
When I bow my head to pray.
I lift my hands up to You -
May I never be ashamed.

Before I speak a single word,
You know my thoughts and needs.
Help me, Lord, to listen
and follow where You lead.

May I bring You joy and pleasure -
May my life become a song.
Within my heart a treasure -
Your presence all day long.


You know, I am very thankful for ibuprofen - LOL! Medication can be very helpful...

Tomorrow is Resurrection Sunday. Every day, I know we should celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus. But it's nice to have one day set aside. We are doing a cantata (music) at our church tomorrow. I'm excited because I actually get to sing during this one and two of the girls in the congregation are going to be signing the words.

Sometimes I forget how important SINGING is to me. I love music and I love to sing. Earlier this week, I wrote a song for our Ladies' Bible Study. I used to write a lot of songs when I was feeling down or depressed. I need to write them all the time. Of course, it doesn't help much that the only instrument I can play with any amount of talent is the tape recorder. LOL

I was going to write more medical stuff, but - eh - I'll tell ya when it's important.

Shelina, I think I'm going to put that quilt together this week during Easter Break. I'll let you know how it goes.

Have a wonderful evening, all my adoring fans!

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Vans and Doritos

During the winter months, my van has had a hard time starting off and on. The starter sounded like it didn't want to wake up - just like me most mornings. I kind of knew it was a matter of time, but it seems the motto around here "Why do today what you can put off until tomorrow?"

So, we left school today and the van did NOT want to start. I tried and tried and it would not turn over. So I called R on the ham radio and asked him to pick us up. In the meantime, I had already prayed, "Lord, I know we should have already taken care of this. But it sure would be nice to get thiis thing started so R can work on it at home." So BEFORE R actually got out the door, the van FINALLY turned over.

The kids in the little kids playground and their teachers all gave me a hand! But hey - I give the hand to God! Whooooo hooooo. So R and D are outside working on the van right now and it looks like the starter just needs a little TLC. :)

And then, there are the Doritos (insert little trademark symbol here, if you feel so led...)

Money is always tight around the Marauder household. Not one of our strong points. Anyway, I asked R the other day how much I had to spend in groceries and he told me. So I was making the plans and this morning, D was complaining because we were out of chips. Now - chips are not a necessity, right? I have been praying that God will help us make wise decisions and - let's face it - flat out help us. :)

Today at the end of my tutoring session, the mom came in with a plastic grocery sack full of individual packs of Doritos. Probably around 30 of them. Isn't God good? :)

Hope you're having a great day!

Sunday, April 1, 2007

stress - STRESS - STRESS!!!!!

Do you ever feel stressed? LOL - I know you do. I took a stress test a week and a half ago. I haven't heard the results yet - I guess they can't find the stress!

I have been short of breath lately when walking on any kind of incline and my heart beats like a maniac. I'm waiting to hear the results of the test but I suspect the results will consist of the following:

- when you weigh as much as two normal adults, your heart IS going to pound like that!
- stress is something you can do something about, so get to it!

I need to get back to a regular exercise routine and certainly better eating habits! I've started on glucophage to help maintain my blood sugar levels so we'll see how it goes.

The only person who is at fault for all of ths - ME. I know this. And it's time to change.