Saturday, November 22, 2008

Wrote a blog post. Check!

I have spent many of my early morning meditations lately in 1 John. I am particularly drawn to this little book because it was written in a way that gives the impression that John was trying to express to the disciples that Jesus didn't only come to earth, lay down a few new rules, die on the cross, and leave for heaven. Rather, I think John was trying to explain to the disciples that there's more to the story. I think John was trying to get across a message of hope for now, not just for the future someday when we (die or) are carried up into Glory. 

I guess I'm of the general impression that a lot of folks who proclaim Christ as their Savior don't necessarily believe that He's still around. Not that they're doing bad things. No, it's not that at all. They do a lot of good things all of the time. A lot of the time, they do that out of a sense of duty or obligation or, maybe more commonly, because they think they'd better keep up the good work because God's going to get them if they don't. Some folks are even doing stuff because somebody else told them that that's what they're supposed to be doing because it's just always been done that particular way! 

No, it's more that they don't act as though Jesus is still present (and I mean present as in when you raised your hand in school when attendance was called), nor that God is still working in the minutiae of their lives. You see, John was probably encountering something that we see pretty commonly today: Christians who'd reverted to "check box religion". 

Check box religion goes something like this: During the work week I get up, I pray at breakfast, I read a devotional book (or maybe actually read the Bible), I go to work, I pray (if nobody's around) at lunch, I go home, I pray at dinner, and maybe I pray before bed. If there's church activities during the week I go to those. On Sunday, I go to Sunday school and worship, I give, I sing/pray/listen, and I go home. My prayers follow the same pattern each time: a little thanks, a little request, and "in Jesus name, Amen." When a new week starts again, I'm at the same place where I was a week ago, except more dry, brittle, hollow, parched. But I'm doing everything right, aren't I? I mean, that's what the Bible says to do doesn't it?

No. That's not all that the Bible says to do. The Bible says that Jesus accomplished His work here on Earth, then returned victorious to His Father. (Queue Bob Barker ...) But that's not all! Jesus sent us His Spirit, the Holy Ghost, to complete us when we abide in Him. Now abide is an old-fashioned word. In fact, in some of the more recent distortions of the scripture, it's been completely left out. Abide, as John used it, means to dwell, rest, remain, or continue. Are you dwelling with the Lord? Is the Lord dwelling with you? Does He walk the hallways of your home? Does He sit next to you at work? Are you aware that He can be continually present in you? That's right: in you! Listen to what John says:  "And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us." The Holy Ghost's presence in our lives, His abiding in us, is God's seal upon us! (Ephesians 1:13 and 4:30) 

You see, my Christian friend, even though Jesus' work is finished, you are not. You are incomplete. You are inadequate. You are unable. You are needy. This is because you are still burdened with what you were and earnestly hoping for what you will become. (Colossians 1:5) Your flesh is weak. Your spirit is willing. (Matthew 26:41) The Helper, the Comforter, fills the gaps. Jesus said that it was "expedient" that He go away so that the Holy Spirit might come. (John 16:7). Jesus, our Lord and Savior, sent the Holy Ghost to us from the Father. And therefore, we must abide in Him as He abides in us. We must dwell with Him and allow Him to make His abode with us. These are not difficult things, but they are not ordinary, they are extraordinary. The Holy Ghost will teach you all things and bring to remembrance all things that Jesus said. (John 14:26) His task here with us in not small. All things is all things, after all.

So, you might say to me: "Kurt, that's all well and good. I understand that the Holy Ghost is here with me. I know what the Bible says about the Holy Ghost. Every good Christian does." And I, in return, might say to you: "But is it just in your head? Or is it in your heart? Are you truly aware of Him abiding with you, on a spiritual level? Do you feel Him? Do you hear His voice? Does His presence pierce your soul? The Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost are spirit, but it's so easy to see them only in black in white,  contained within words on the printed pages of your Bible. Oh, brother (or sister), They are so much more than that. Why can't you see?"

May God bless you and bring you closer to Him, through His Son and His Spirit. 

And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming. (1 John 2:28)

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Love, waffles, paper, and being in the world, not of it.

First things first: We wish you all a very joyous fall season. This is definitely my favorite time of year and it is especially beautiful here in Tennessee, where the leaves are prolific and beginning their radical shift to autumn colors. Come and visit us, friends and family. We want to share God's glory with you!

I am writing partially because an update to this blog was requested by a person we love very much, and also because the subject herein has been heavy upon me for a while. The post you're about to read (or suffer through, if you will) is actually two excerpts from my personal journal. I hope you enjoy it and perhaps it will make you think a bit about our world and how we interact with it.

"I pray not that Thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that Thou shouldest keep them from evil.
They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world." Luke 17:15-16

(Originally written 9/13/2008)

I wonder, here in the U.S., with our focus on new technology, whether we're losing our contact with our ability to grasp the aesthetic of touch, sound, and earthly beauty. We desire to create social networks online, and reclusively wait behind our computer screens for someone to notice us. We try to electronically meet our determined efforts at research, and while we know information should be free, our minds quickly become overwhelmed with all of the resources available. The days of digging through encyclopedias, dictionaries, and atlases one at a time have been replaced by frenetic hyperlinking from site to site. Attention deficit is a national plague, pronouncing mental and psychological prison sentences on our youth, our government, and our churches.

I am no Luddite. No, far from it. I have a Facebook, a Flickr, a LinkedIn, a Twitter, a Jaiku, a Plaxo, and other "social network" accounts. I use email and instant messenger. I'm a technical trainer, working with cutting-edge technology. I am not afraid of the Internet, cellular phones, wireless signals, or any of the latest trends. But, I keep a hand-written journal, a daily work log in a paper planner, and want to instill the same appreciation in my family and friends. I love paper, walks through museums, live music, live sports, paperback books, and intimate one-on-one communications.

If we lose touch with these things, we lose touch with who God created us to be: in and experiencing his creation, but not of this world.

(Originally written 9/14/2008)

Samuel is sitting across the table from me, enjoying his second waffle. It is a toaster waffle, of course. And I'm thinking about what he's missing by not having a homemade/handmade breakfast in front of him. Everything he's consuming has come from a package and is missing one key ingredient: love. Love changes the nature of things. You can tell by the taste, the touch, the look, and the spirit of the thing.

Anji has surrounded us, in our home, with handmade items that Ken (my father-in-law) has produced over the years: many things that embody what I'm writing about. Many of them are imperfect, rough around the edges, just like me. But they're made with love, and it shows, just like me.

Thy mercy, o Lord, is in the heavens; and Thy faithfulness reacheth unto the clouds.
Thy righteousness is like the great mountains; Thy judgements are a great deep:
O Lord, Thou preservest man and beast.
How excellent is Thy lovingkindness, o God!
Therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of Thy wings.
Psalm 36:5-7

God bless you all.


Monday, September 1, 2008

The Rod of Love

This past Friday and Saturday Kurt and I attended one of the maaaaany meetings going on in the PB world this summer. This particular meeting was featuring a man by the name of Sonny Pyles. I had read indirectly about him from an author by the name of Tom Hagler and was anxious to be an audience member at this particular meeting.

Before I share with you a delightful nugget that I was given, let me share my observations of this man (accurate in my view, but subjective as well, so keep that in mind). Elder Pyles is a humble man with a powerful message. He presents himself in such a way that exemplifies the scripture describing our permission to approach the throne of grace with boldness. He demonstrated his knowledge and wisdom in scripture and his calling to share this wealth to God's children throughout his talk with his audience. His physical stature was slightly bent but his cowboy boot (and hat) spirit pointed to an upright, stand-tall southern gentleman with a message to be heard. All that said, I felt the Lord glorified and was directed to *His* Word, not his [Edler Pyles'] word.

The topic was the fear of the Lord and in his illustration of chastisement and the scripture references throughout the Bible.  Elder Pyles gave a personal example of such an event in his life and the practical application of the example; he described an incident in his young life where he was to experience "the rod" by his mother. As he squirmed and attempted to avoid the blow(s) his mother would be holding him at arms' length and therefore have a wide sweeping line of site on her target. Thus the blows were quite effective in their sting. Over a short period of time the young Sonny discovered that if he would, instead, cling to his mother's legs that the blows were less severe. Not in spirit but in actual physical effect. In essence, Elder Pyles' suggestion is to run TO the Lord in chastisement and not FROM the Lord. 

My personal thought is that of justification that the Lord is, indeed, Lord. Agreeing with God that I an erring child does not make Him God - nothing that I say or do can alter such a fact. His desire for me to see myself closer to the way *He* sees me is an honorable purpose in the life I've been given. And if I am to run to Him in crisis to see that I am veering (or totally lost) from His  Truth, then I need to take the "blows" of a loving God who only desires me to succeed. 

6For whom theLord loveth he chastenethand scourgeth every son whom he receiveth7If ye endure 
chasteningGod dealeth with you as with sonsfor what son is he whom the father chasteneth not8But 
if ye be without chastisementwhereof all are partakers,then are ye bastardsand not sons9Furthermore 
we have hadfathers of our flesh which corrected usand we gave them reverenceshall we not much 
rather be in subjection unto the Father of spiritsand live10For they verily for a few days chastened us 
after their own pleasurebut he for our profitthat we might be partakers of his holiness11Now no 
chastening for the present seemeth to be joyousbut grievousnevertheless afterward it yieldeth the 
peaceable fruit of righteousness untothem which are exercised thereby12Wherefore lift up the hands
which hang downand the feeble knees13And make straight paths for your feetlest that which is lame 
be turned out of the waybut let it rather be healed

I understand that Elder Pyles will be in Pigeon Forge, TN sometime in the near future and I hope to hear his message again, Lord willing. I thought of so many of my family in Christ as I heard this message - not that they needed to hear it for enlightenment of sin in their lives but for encouragement and practical Godly living. 

Peace and blessing to everyone who reads. Our life in this earthly kingdom is one meant for glorifying Christ and enjoying Him forever. Thanks to the ones in my life who share their life's purpose with me and my family.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Early AM Drive

At 5:40 this morning Kurt and I drove out of our subdivision headed towards Nashville. In the back of the van were four groggy boys still clad in their pj's with lap blankets to console their tired bodies from the premature evacuation of their comfy beds.

Kurt's on his way to drive back J&Rs car to Georgia (with a detour through Cookeville) and my mom will be joining him in the passenger seat (poor Kurt - Mom is a terrible "back seat driver"!!) While we were talking about the trip to come for him he said, "I hope your mom can stand me in the car for five days!" I assured him it is possible. He was looking forward to seeing some folks there at home but due to his schedule, he barely has enough layover to speak of but he will see a couple, I guess.

When I arrived home I called my mom and asked her how her preparations were going and she said that she hoped everything would fit in the PT Cruiser that they are shuttling. With the rather bulky items that she's planning she was a little concerned for space. Then, she said, (I kid you not) "I hope Kurt can stand me in the car for five days!" I laughed and told her that the feeling was mutual so she was in good company. She sounded excited to come and I am so, so jazzed to have her here. She's a bit of a Washington State snob so I can't expect too much but I did "wow" her with the plans of attending the Grand Ol' Opry. We're planning a mom and daughter day/night out. Won't that be fun?

I got a call from Jay (during a mini flooding incident in their recently vacated Washington home) soon after I spoke with Mom. They sounded like they were ready to head to Georgia so I think the trek will be a good one. 

Your prayers for safe travel for the five of them would be coveted.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Blast From the Past

I'm sitting here at my desk with eight past issues of Quit You Like Men that were dug out of the obscure location that I managed to pack-rat away with so many of my other "treasures". The published dates are from July/August 1998 to September/October 2000 (with some missing ones here and there). I had come across them a couple of weeks ago as I was looking for some encouraging past issues of a different publication for a perspective home schooling mom. 

Let me take you back to: 1997 or so we were introduced to this publication from our legendary mentors, the Ables'. It was such a fresh message to us that we were stunned at the quenching nature it provided to our thirst for some TRUTH. Of course, it's a men's magazine but there were articles written by the editor's wife that I would immediately search out upon it's arrival in my mailbox.  Robert and Rachel Green were highly regarded in our eyes. We laughed at the inconsistent population of cats they housed, cringed when they would receive a critical letter from a reader, and cheer at the glory they gave to the Lord. Then one day it all seemed to fade away. We kept our issues of the magazine and shared the collectibles (in our estimation) with others when we thought they needed some spiritual "meat". All other magazines were measured up according to two publications we read and this was one of them. There really hasn't been any since.

Now let's return to the present... Kurt and I are members of the Cookeville Primitive Baptist Church where we met Debbi Sacran (among other FABULOUS people). Over the next six months we had been informed of a great family camp to attend over the summer (we didn't attend this year), and her daughter-in-law's family who were so musically inclined (particularly vocally), and some folks who she thought we "had to meet". Well, those particular folks (who own the camp property, sing really well and are so totally needing to be met) were going to be attending the Smithville Fiddler's Jamboree as judges. I was on task to help with registration at that event. Debbi introduced me to "Rachel". Then a man kept wandering in and out of our registration area with a name button labeled "Robert" and Debbi, again, introduced me. I go home and casually tell Kurt about the goings on of the day and include information about the Greene's (yes, for some reason this is the spelling that I thought was theirs... I don't know why). I just mentioned it to him that they were going to be at church in the morning so we were going to have a common meal together after services.

Sunday morning Kurt yells from the bedroom dripping wet from jumping out of the shower, "Robert Green??? That's the editor of Quit You Like Men??!!?!!?!" I said, "Nah, they spell their name with an "e" on the end." Kurt just stood there with a slightly deflated look. We continued on with church preparations and headed to the church building. After a lovely lesson we were getting the food prepared for lunch and Kurt approached Robert and asked him if he were the Robert Green of QYLM. Robert sheepishly acknowledged that he was one and the same. No "e" on the end of their name. These were the folks that had six, five, twelve, six, five, eleven, four, two, one, three, five, four, five, two cats and two lurking toms that we had felt so blessed to have known of. All of the sudden we were in the presence of celebrities! And then they had to go to a meeting and we had a fussy two year old overdue for a nap. 

We didn't get the opportunity to sit and just soak in their company but I am so happy to say that Rachel is my "friend" on Face Book and we look forward to another possible opportunity to glean from their adventures as editors, parents, home schoolers and disciples of Christ. 

It's almost like we went to Texas to be shown this humble little magazine (and don't forget that we had to pick up #1 boy there too ), go home to Washington to share it with a few folks, and then sent to Tennessee to hear the wonderful truth that the Primitive Baptist church cherishes, only to become members, and then meet the very people who have assisted my little family to be seekers of Christ through the PB network. It appears full circle, eh? What a crazy, winding road the Lord blessed me to travel to meet some great people.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Hello again.

Hello to anyone who hasn't given up on us. 

I'm not going to apologize. It just is what it is. Thanks if you're still reading.

It's kind of amazing to consider that the previous post was written on April 25th and today is June 19th. Now, what's not amazing is the time between the posts, but what is amazing is all that's transpired in that time:
  • Spring soccer season has come and has gone. It may have been our first and last season in Tennessee. It certainly was an eye-opener for me. Let's just say that recreational soccer in Cookeville is way different than it was in Battle Ground. Co-ed for one thing ... 
  • We joined and were baptized into fellowship with the Cookeville Primitive Baptist Church. We are Primitive Baptists now. Strange? Possibly. True? Definitely. Let me tell you about it some time. 
  • Baby boy turned two. TWO! (Time for another one?)
  • Boo-boo got the award for "First Stitches in the Family". He's living proof that a body in motion tends to stay in motion unless acted on by an outside force. In his case, the outside force acted on him (and won).
  • I traveled to Rochester, NY (and back). I decided that I still like Tennessee.
  • The older boys had their first music recital and would have kicked some serious behind except that type of thing's not really appropriate at recitals.
  • We celebrated our twentieth wedding anniversary. All of you naysayers can shut up now. (You know who you are). God works through our weakness.
Whew. And there's probably a lot more that happened that my recently-turned-40 brain cannot recall at this moment.

Here's a hint: Anji's into Facebook. If you really want to track what's happening with us, sign up for Facebook and ask to become her friend.  I've got an account too. Just search on my name.  You can also follow me on Twitter and Pownce or IM me on Yahoo! or AOL. Send me an email and I'll let you know how we can connect.

The above said, I'll try to keep this blog up a little better (but no guarantees)!

Friday, April 25, 2008


Today, I received flowers from one of my BESTEST girlfriends and sister in Christ. The occasion, you ask? She gave me a surprise in the name of a birthday party. No, it's not my birthday; that was a couple of months ago. But she made me feel like it was something more than an annual festivity... like *I* was something more.

You know how we all want to feel "special" - with attributes of "one of a kind-ness"? It almost goes against the grain of the concept of taking self out of the equation. You know, of living a life of service. But the undeniable result of service *is* making the receiver feel special, unique, wanted, valued, one of a kind, and most of all; loved. Are we causing the other person to stumble by catering to that "need"? Hmm. Now, I didn't really ask that because I didn't know, or that I thought you didn't know. I just wanted to segway into the fact that Christ gave His life to us in service to his Father to make us feel... special, unique, wanted, valued, one of a kind, and most of all; loved. There are a lot of other attributes that can add to that list. That's a severely truncated one. But if you want to find out what some of those other ones might be, just take a trip through the Bible. He reveals new and different ones to me all the time.

"I am the rose of Sharon and lily of the valley." Sister Dana sent me Jesus today in the form of multicolored, fragrant flowers. In her service of thoughtfulness, I am reaping the harvest of heaven's prelude; a mere glimpse of glory to come. I am "special" there as one of my Heavenly Father's children.

Thank you, Dana, for reminding me of these things. 

Monday, April 14, 2008

Going (a different shade of) green

On Saturday I had the good fortune to drive to McMinnville, TN with my two oldest. It's about 50 miles there, give or take a few, so it takes about an hour for the drive. We were on our way to a gun show, of all things; just a boys' afternoon out. I think Anji didn't mind too much, since the elimination of three souls from the house has a tendency to calm it down a bit (a LOT). And we, the three of us, we were just going to enjoy doing a manly thing together. But the gun show turned out to be less of a show than the scenes we encountered on our drive.

As we came out of Sparta and turned south, I heard Asa exclaim, "Oh, Papa, it's so beautiful! Look, Papa!" I looked around and indeed, it was beautiful. The area is rural, with small hills and valleys. Much of it is current and former pastureland, and those green pastures were framed in the early blooms of trees just eager to enjoy the warmth of spring's embrace. Purple, white, yellow, and green on the ground contrasted with the clear blue sky. The colors were almost shocking to our eyes. They were, in a word, AWESOME.

Spring is a marvelous season. There's promise and hope in it. I'm sure that's why the world has chosen to celebrate Easter in spring. Whether it's correct or not by theological or historical views, spring is properly a time to focus on renewal and redemption. 

God is not subtle in springtime. His Spirit powerfully establishes His dominance over the physical world as the new growth appears. The trees and bushes, then grasses and flowers, boldly proclaim His glory as the landscapes around us are transformed from dull and lifeless into vibrant and lovely. We have, right in front of us, the finest example of God's powerful presence, of His amazing creativity, of His redemptive Spirit, and His great love. 

You may recall (assuming you've seen it) that there is a scene in the movie, "The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe" where Aslan the Lion, recently arisen from the dead, moves swiftly across the land of Narnia to the castle of the White Witch. When he arrives in the courtyard of the castle, the witch and her minions have departed, but there remain many of her enemies, frozen in time like statues of stone. Aslan walks through the courtyard and gently breathes upon each of the statue-like creatures. Slowly, each of the frozen beings begin to return to life and prepare for battle. 

When the disciples were together after Jesus had been crucified, He appeared to them and breathed on them so that they might receive the Holy Spirit. They were about to go to battle as well, but on a scale that Narnian fantasy cannot encompass. 

In springtime there are moments where you can nearly feel and certainly can see the results of the breath of God. The earth, in it's desperate state, can do nothing to renew itself. It is wholly dependent upon the work of God's Spirit to bring about green pastures, new flowers, and budding trees.

And we, like the earth, need renewal, both for this season and ever onward. I thank God our hope in Him springs eternally green.
"Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost." (Romans 15:13)

Wednesday, April 9, 2008


My dear wife is somewhat obsessed with Sonic. For those of you outside the Sonic serving area, go here to find out more. Sonic is to Tennessee as Burgerville is to Washington (to help those of you in Washington). 
Anji loves to enjoy a nice, big, ice-cold, Sonic Cherry Limeade whenever she has the opportunity and she had the opportunity today. She went big - the Route 44 Cherry Limeade - 44 ounces of cherry-lime goodness, with extra maraschinos to boot. Unfortunately, in a sad turn of events, 40 ounces ended up on the floorboards of our minivan, leaving a permanent reminder of American excess gone bad.
When Anji and the boys arrived at home I was informed of the debacle and shortly went out to survey the impact zone. At first, it didn't look too bad, even though I had been warned otherwise. The floormats had some of the drink on them for sure, but - yeah - it didn't look that bad.

Until I pulled the floormats back. 

And there it was: the stain. The stain to beat all stains. A stain the size of Puerto Rico. A pink Puerto Rico-sized stain.

And Anji, bless her heart, gave me some space. I began with a wishful scrubbing with soap, then a hopeful stain remover application, and finally a bizarre and desperate witches' brew of supposed stain-removing concoctions. None of them worked. 

None of them worked at all.

As I scrubbed, and scrubbed, and sprayed, and scrubbed, and blotted, and applied, and scrubbed again, I became increasingly angry. Angry at Anji for buying, then spilling, that enormous drink. Angry with the spot remover manufacturer for even hinting that their product could remove this monster ("multiple applications may be necessary"). Angry with Sonic for putting red dye in a huge cup that cannot possibly meet OSHA safety standards. I was perturbed. The boys stepped back from their observations, the dog cowered in the corner, and I think I even saw the neighbors taking a wide berth as they passed by on their evening walk. The stain was so huge and so difficult to remove. The only way it would ever go away was if I bleached it out or cut it out or replaced the carpet completely!

And then, in a moment, the anger left and I was caught up in sadness and remorse. A vision exploded in my head. That stain, that huge stain, is just like the one I used to bear before the Spirit told me I was chosen. My stain, unlike the one in our car, had been removed through my Lord and Savior. My stain was removed with His blood and it washed me white as snow. 

As anger passed into sadness, sadness passed into joy.

And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they? 
And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest.
And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. 
Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them.
They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat. 
For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: 
and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.
Revelation 7:13-17

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Push-mower Man

When we moved into the new house here in Tennessee, I was pretty excited to have a huge new yard. I mean, 100 x 200 feet of glorious SPACE. Space to run in, play in, plant in, build on ... you know, SPACE.

And it was all fine until the Spring came. 

And the grass started growing.

It started growing a lot.

And our lawnmower, which seemed more than adequate for our 7000 square foot yard in Washington, began to seem small and inadequate (but not insignificant). 

You see, our neighbors all either have riding mowers or lawn service (which is sweet, let me tell you), neither of which I have. Instead, I have a push-mower, albeit a nice one with some power behind the wheels. 

But after further consideration of my situation I count myself blessed. My mower takes up less space in my garage, doesn't cost as much to maintain, and uses less fuel. I also get the joy of spending an hour and a half (yes, you read it right: an hour and a half) walking by myself with only my thoughts and the steady drone of the engine for company. Nobody interrupts me, unless a ball or stick or other inanimate and easily-shredded object blocks my path. I'm even a bit jealous when Em (now big enough to push the mower in a straight line and eager to test his newfound ability) asks to mow. I think, "hey, this is my time", but I know a young man needs that time alone with his thoughts (and some machinery) as well. 

My neighbors might chuckle while they drive about, sipping iced tea from their built-in cup-holders while I sweat and push my little mower about back-and-forth, back-and-forth, but I'm enjoying my little reverie while they rush to complete their work and return to the cacophony of life.

Respite from this world is found in precious few places and times. We must allow ourselves to enjoy it wherever and whenever it avails itself to us. Even our Lord Jesus withdrew for a short while to rest and find comfort when the need came upon Him. It gives me joy to know that One so perfect would seek out momentary peace when opportunities presented themselves. If He was with us in body today, I'm sure He'd be a push-mower Man. 

God bless you all. Enjoy the Spring!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Looking Out A Window

  It's nightfall in a strange town a long way from home. I'm watching the lights come on from my hotel room window on the 35th floor.  I'll be right back.

 I'm afraid you are in for a little bit if philosophizing of you don't mind. Some of these broadcasts have to be put together while I'm out on the road traveling what I call the mashed potato circuit. In a little while I'll be speaking to a group of very nice people in a banquet hall.
  Right now however I'm looking down on a busy city at rush hour. The streets below are twin ribbons of sparkling red & white. Tail lights on the cars moving away from my vantage point provide the red and the headlights of those coming toward me the while. It's logical to assume all or most are homeward bound at the end of a days work. I wonder why some social engineer hasn't tried to get them to trade homes. The traffic is equally heavy in both directions so if they all lived in the end of town where they worked it would save a lot of travel time. Forget I said that & don't even think it or some bureaucrat will try to do it.
  But I wonder about the people in those cars, who they are, what they do, what they are thinking about as they head for the warmth of home & family. Come to think of it I'm met them - oh - maybe not those particular individuals but still I feel I know them. Some of our social planners refer to them as "the masses" which only proves they don't know them. I've been privileged to meet people all over this land in the special kind of way you meet them when you are campaigning. They are the "the masses", or as the elitists would have it - "the common man." They are very uncommon. Individuals each with his or her own hopes & dreams, plans & problems and the kind of quiet courage that makes this whole country run better than just about any other place on earth.
  By now, thinking of their homecoming I'm counting how many more hotel room windows I'll be looking out before I'm in the rush hour traffic heading home. And yes I'm feeling a little sorry for myself and envious of the people in those cars down below. It seems I've said a thousand goodbyes, each one harder than the one before. 
  Someone very wise once wrote that if we were all told one day that the end was coming; that we were living our last day, every road, every street & all the telephone lines would be jammed with people trying to reach someone to whom we wanted simply to say, "I love you."
 But doesn't it seem kind of foolish to wait for such a final day and take the chance of not getting there in time? And speaking of time I'll have to stop now - OPERATOR I'D LIKE TO MAKE A PHONE CALL - LONG DISTANCE.

Ronald Reagan
January 27, 1978
Radio broadcast called "Viewpoint"

As recounted in the book;
Reagan - In His Own Hand
The Free Press

From A Distance

I am continually brought to tears over the distance of, you, my friends and family. Not that it lingers in a debilitating way, but that I get that pang of sadness knowing that I cannot just hop in the car and be in your presence (without traveling for days!) and get "filled up" with what each person pours to my life.  

But the knowledge that I am loved and I know how to love is a big "aha!" that has grown in me since my departure from the Northwest. It all, of course, stems from my Heavenly Father's presence in my life; I love because He first loved me. Which assures my place with Him and that His "best" is pursued here in my physical life. 

That proof that He gave me (that He loves me) was demonstrated by God sending His Son as the final sacrifice to be paid for me. He provided the final perfect "lamb" to end all future question. And His simple direction of loving my neighbor as the greatest command comforts me that His best is on my heart.

In simple words; I miss you. It's not a trite phrase to me from the state of Tennessee. It comes from deep within me that allows me the fruit of sorrow, the happiness of emotional pain. I am one lucky girl who cherishes the fact that I can say, "I'm homesick for you."

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Sunsets and Snow

A few evening's ago we had this view of the day winding down from our kitchen dining room. It's not the first that we've had but the first that we didn't remain so mesmerized that we couldn't get the camera! Make sure you kind of blank out the telephone poles and the houses... it's still lovely, eh?

For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead... ~Romans 1:20

This morning we woke to a pretty blanket of snow on the ground. The white flakes kept coming for most of the morning and then around noonish it tapered off. So by 5pm the sky was blue without a cloud, the sun was shining off of the white ground covering. It's always so refreshing in a lot of ways, really. The snow always slow people down, muffles what noise there is, and gives the landscape a new perspective. All of the sudden one can see right into the middle of a greenbelt or even the houses tucked behind trees with their roof tops highlighted with snow. Yeah. Snow is nice. 

Monday, March 3, 2008

John 10:27 - 30

"My sheep hear my voice, 
and I know them and they follow Me. 
And I give them eternal life, 
and they shall never perish; 
neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. 
My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; 
and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father's hand. 
I and My Father are one."

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Hey There Cowboys!

The Settles Brothers...

We went on a little drive the other day to check out a little bump in road called Muddy Pond, TN. It is a Mennonite community about 30 miles northeast of us. There is a general store, leather shop, and lunch bar. The general store had, what appeared to be, co-op items that were bagged for individual portions and some furniture and other wood crafts. There was even those most adorable straw Amish hats that the little boys wear. Soooo cute. The leather shop had all the paraphernalia  for horses and other general tools for farm life. We picked up three leather belts for the three little boys that were custom fit and in the deal they each got a wood pistol and holster. Hence the photos included! Samuel was down for a nap and it's doubtful that he would have allowed a hat to sit atop that stubborn little (cute) head. And Emery was invited to spend that day with a friend so he did not go with us. And besides, he has THREE belts!! Ha. We enjoyed a sandwich at The Front Porch and then took a little drive further east to Crossville and stopped at a winery before heading back to Cookeville. It was a nice day and we stretched our stakes a little further to see what was around us. We're thinking of heading to Sieverville (a town in the Smokies by Dollywood) for a mini vacation at the end of the month at one of our timeshare resorts.  So much to see!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008


You all know the drill: aim the camera and inform everyone in the shot to chime in "cheeeeeese", right? Well, I'm not sure when things changed for Samuel but this is the current pose for the trite command. Thing is, right after the flash he smiles the big "cheeeeese smile". Ha ha!

Watch Out Sandra Lee!!

Here's the fruits of watching the Food Network! My boys know what a "table-scape" is all thanks to Sandra Lee of Semi-Homemade. These are very elegant name place setting cards. Emery, Asa and Jack all ran to the office and snatched some sticky notes and Emery wrote the names and Asa and Jack decorated them with stickers. All this was a surprise by the boys for Kurt and me. They were so excited with Kurt's return from California that they wanted to do something special. This was so sweet. Jack, being three, is just now learning to read and his writing is limited to some specific letters - one of which being "E". So, he asks me to write his name J-a-c-k and then he takes the paper and finishes it off with the letter "E" on the end - hence, Jack-E.  All his figuring out and he is so proud! 

I know y'all are wanting to know what the menu was that is displayed on the table?? It was sliced chicken breast, glazed sweet potatoes, rice, broccoli, homemade wheat bread and tomato wasabi sauce. Sandra Lee would be proud... maybe not as "semi" as she demonstrates though!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

The Love of God

Could we with ink the ocean fill
And were the skies of parchment made,
Were every stalk on earth a quill
And every man a scribe by trade,
To write the love of God above
Would drain the ocean dry;
Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
Tho' stretched from sky to sky.
O love of God, how rich and pure!
How measureless and strong!
It shall forevermore endure -
The saints' and angels' song!

Frederick M. Lehman
Meir Ben Isaac Nehorai
#156 in The Celebration Hymnal

Backwards In Time

Yesterday the whole crew took a bike ride together. Our little mile loop safely tucked in our not-so-developed development got a little practical use from our family. Jay and Rachel left their bikes (since we sold ours at our monstrous garage sale back in BG) and so we loaded all up... Sam and Jack in the trailer towed by Kurt, Asa on his Hotwheels bike with training wheels, Emery "Armstrong" Settles runnin' circles around us all and not to forget Lucy tucked inside the basket attached to Kurt's handle bars. 

First, not even 50 feet from the driveway, Kurt lost his balance on the side of the road and went on an unplanned/unexpected 4x4 adventure in the woods. Upon his getting control, Lucy was still safely tucked in the basket (no doubt totally confused as to what that was all about) and Jack and Sam were SQUEALING with delight at the bouncing, crazy ride! The rest of the ride just paled in comparison. Asa is still getting those leg muscles developed so I tagged back with him for encouragement and the occasional push. It would be nice to get one of those Alley Cats to help the little boys learn the coordination and still be able to ride at a pace faster than, say, a turtle. Kurt and I dropped the boys off at the house and went for a quick run around the loop together to enjoy some speed and about 10 minutes of a "date". Heh heh.

All this, by the way, is following some recoveries... Asa, Jack and Samuel got an eye virus that oozed greenish gook and water from their sweet little swollen eyes. They had red bags under their eyes that almost looked like someone socked 'em! We determined it wasn't pink-eye and were told to just keep them clean and so after a few days they cleared up. Emery and Kurt got a slight sore throat and  general cold symptoms but has seemed to escape anything extreme. Me? you ask? I got strep-throat. I went to the doctor and got a "poke in the butt" as the (female) doctor described it, and after a couple days I started feeling better. 

I seem to be going backwards... while we were all in the midst of being at our sickest my dear, dear friend, Tammy, and her children Allyson and Andrew came to visit on their way home from OKC to GA. They stayed for a couple of days - oh, what a joy it was to spend time with my friend from our Fort Hood, TX days. Please pray for her husband Glen who is in Iraq right now. He is anticipated to be home in August or so. He is a true soldier in our Army as well as for Christ. If you ever get the opportunity to meet the Clubb's you will be blessed.

Ta-ta for now and perhaps I can get Kurt to liven things up around here.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

"On the first day of the new year, my true love gave to me..."

..greens and beans!

For reasons I do not fully understand, "greens and beans" are a traditional food on the first day of the year for many people. It wasn't until I married Anji that I became acquainted with this rather superstitious meal, but tonight our house smells of bacon cooked with onion, ham, and a hint of spinach. It's a comforting way to welcome 2008. 

The weather has turned bitter cold, but the promise of snow has not come to fruition. It is no wonder meteorologists are a derided bunch, is it? Nonetheless we are joyful today in our warm abode, still anticipating a blanket of cool white outside when we awake in the morning as if we were children praying for a day off from school. Seeing snow covering the imperfections of the ground and gently rounding the hard edges of man-made things brings to mind the perfect covering of Christ's sacrifice for our sins and the attainable purity through His love.

We spent last evening eating pizza and playing games with some new friends here and stayed at their home until midnight had passed (and our children's mental functions began to disintegrate). We laughed as we drove towards home while thinking that we had, for the first time in a long while, entered the new year prior to many of our family and friends. Nothing like being a bit ahead of the game, eh? Anji and the boys were well throughout the evening, but all (especially Anji and Sam) are particularly tired today. Funny that we choose to enter the year tired and red-eyed rather than bright-eyed and bushy-tailed! Perhaps that's a resolution for the 2008 list...

There is much to prepare for this year and the Lord will work in a mighty way for those who are willing to step through the rent veil and enter into His presence, leaving self behind. As we leave the holidays and the prior year, may we take nothing with us into the new year except trust, hope, and delight in our Father!

May the Lord our Father richly bless you in 2008.