Sunday, August 6, 2017

Grandaddy's Sermons

Here is a link to some of Granddaddy's sermons that I have uploaded. I will add more as I get them transferred.  :)

Brother Jimmy Cook's sermons

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Happy Mother's Day!

For Mother’s Day this year, my gift for my mom was transferring our old home videos from VHS to DVD.  I knew it would be a lot of work – digging through years of VHS tapes, trying to separate the precious family videos from our old recordings of TV shows, etc.
What I didn’t expect was to have so much fun revisiting my childhood as I watched these tapes.  They contained what you would expect from any family video collection: year after year of the typical family events. Birthday parties, Christmas mornings, Easter mornings, recitals, and graduations. But there were also videos of us not really doing much of anything. Just riding our bikes, playing in the yard, swimming, licking the brownie bowl, and putting on our very own talent shows with our friends.

What I certainly didn’t expect was the emotion that came with watching them.  What struck me was how happy we were.  We did not have all the latest toys, and we certainly didn’t have any high-tech anything (nothing really existed yet!). But we enjoyed each other, and we loved each other. Obviously I didn’t just now realize that I had a wonderful childhood with loving parents. I knew that already, and I like to think I’ve never taken it for granted. But now I have my own husband and kids. My own family. Which makes me watch from a different perspective. In these videos, my parents were the same age (or younger) that I am now.

How very fast that time has flown by.  Many of those videos were made 25 to 30 years ago. And yet it seems like yesterday in my mind. How quickly we grew up as I fast-forwarded through the years and the memories.  How fun to rewind and re-watch funny or endearing moments. But painful at the same time, knowing that time moves almost as quickly as my fast-forwarding, without the option of rewinding. Knowing that just today I made memories with my kids. Were they good, bad, or in between?  What will they remember about me? What will they see when they look back at old family movies?  I can only pray that I will remember what is important, and not be distracted by all that this world tries to throw at us.

Watching these videos reminds me that the best thing I can do for my kids is to spend time with them. To really BE there with them, not distracted by the many things I could be doing instead. Giving them my time and my undivided attention will make them happier than buying toys or gadgets. That is what will make the best memories, and what will live on in my children’s hearts. I am grateful to my parents for not filling our home with stuff – but filling it with love instead.   And my goal is to do the same for my children. 

Friday, March 13, 2015

Out of the Mouths of Babes

It's been so long since I've posted anything, I thought I'd kick start things with some quotes from some of my favorite kiddos.

These are things that my niece, nephews, and my oldest child have said and done throughout the past few years, that we thought were funny enough to write down at the time.

Stay tuned for more from the younger ones as they start talking more. Especially the 2014 babies, Luke, Nate, and Ellie. I have a feeling they are going to have a lot to say. :)

Jack, when asked how many children he was going to have: "I don't know how many babies I will have, but I am marrying with Katie and Shane."

From Em: Oliver told me that he was going to make me decaf pears with cocoa so I could be wide asleep and not get cold.

While taking a walk with Clare and Eli, Clare wanted to push the stroller. She looked up at me and said, "Katie, aren't you proud that I can push your big chubby baby up this hill?"

Clare, after referring to Eli as a chubby baby: “I used to think that chubby meant cute and sweet. Now I know that it just means really fat.”

Oliver: “We don’t eat poop… just hot dogs.”

April: “Clare, why do you have paint on your face?”
Clare: “Because I'm an artist. And artists get dirty.”

Eli: “More cheese”
Me (in an attempt to correct him): “Please may I have more cheese?”
Eli: “Okay!”

From mom: Oliver just opened the dishwasher and said he needs to fold dishes.

After a conversation with Pop about the scars on his knees, Clare reported to Gram that he had had surgery. Gram asked her if she knew what surgery was, to which she promptly and confidently replied, "yep! That's when they ga-pow ya!"

Mom brought home Chinese food one day after work. When she walked in with dinner, Sam came running up and asked if she had "the China food." A few minutes later, with a very concerned look on his face, Sam said, "Gram, did you miss me?" Assuming that he meant did she miss him while she was at work, she said, "I sure did, buddy!" He responded, "Should you have gone all the way to China, then?"

Eli (holding flash card): “What’s this?”
Me: “An apple.”
Eli: “There ya go!”

Me: "Sam, what's on your finger?"
Sam: "Dirt. I'm going to eat it."
Me: "You're not supposed to eat dirt."
Sam: "It's ok. I'm pretending it's something I can eat... like a booger."

Oliver: “Sleep will feel me better.”

Sam: "Is Nate a boy's name?"
April: "Yes."
Sam (looking confused): "Is Nate a boy?"
April: "Yes, he is."
Sam (with a sigh): "Okay. I'll let Katie know."

From Em: Oliver told me yesterday after his nap that he “fell awake.”

Me: “Eli, where is the grey block?”
Eli: “Right there!” (holding grey block)
Me: “Good job! That’s grey!”
Eli (pointing to my hair): “Hair?” :\

Monday, May 27, 2013

A Memorial Day Thank You

A Memorial Day Thank You

I want to take a moment to say thank you to all the men and women who have given their lives for my freedom. To me this is not a day to say "thanks" to anyone in uniform. That is what Veteran's Day is for.  This is a day to remember and pay respect to those people who actually made the ultimate sacrifice for us. Military members do sacrifice a great deal to serve, but today is the day to remember the ones who gave their very lives and are no longer here to enjoy BBQs with their family and friends on Memorial day.  This is a day to stop for a moment and look at all the empty chairs at the BBQs around the nation, and remember the people who once sat there. So from a very grateful heart, I say thank you.  

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Distance Is Not For The Fearful

"Distance is not for the fearful, it is for the bold. It is for those who are willing to spend a lot of time alone in exchange for a little time with the one they love. It is for those knowing a good thing when they see it, even if they don't see it nearly enough."

Anyone who has a spouse and actually lives in the same house with them, don’t take it for granted. If you live in the same city or even the same state as them - don't take it for granted.

Next time you start to argue with them, think about how lucky you are to have someone there to even argue with. If you get to tell them hello each morning, and kiss them goodnight each night, you are luckier than some.

Being deployed half a world away last year made me thankful to be back in the U.S. and have the opportunity to see Shane once a month, and talk to him on the phone every day. I never thought that a thousand miles would seem like a short distance! And I know that being a thousand miles away from him now will make me appreciate finally being home with him, in the same house.

I'm sure there will be a point in the future when Shane and I will get so accustomed to being together that we will be tempted to take each other for granted. But I know all I'll have to do is think back to these times when we see each other so infrequently, and I'll be thankful for the closeness.

All that to say - don't take each other for granted. No matter how far apart you may be, physically or otherwise, it could always be worse, so now is the time to care for the relationship – and to appreciate what you have while you have it.

"And ever has it been known that love knows not its own depth until the hour of separation." - Khalil Gibran

Sunday, March 18, 2012


Today is the 90th birthday of a wonderful man who has touched countless lives, faithfully followed God’s call for his life, and has been a blessing to all who have come in contact with him.
Some people know him as Country Boy, from his days on the radio. Most know him as Brother Jimmy, from his days as pastor of Morningside and various other churches after he retired from Morningside. He has been part of so many people’s lives, from beginning to end, praying with them to receive Christ, baptizing them, officiating at their weddings and at their funerals.
While I agree with every label that has been put on him – a man of God, a leader, a minister, a friend, a mentor – He is something else to me too. He is Granddaddy. He loves sweets, he enjoys tinkering around on his computer, he is wise, kind, hilarious, is a great storyteller, and he makes me smile. He has 3 children, 7 grandchildren, and is on his way to having a whole heap of great grandchildren. :)
He read us books when we were little... sometimes falling asleep mid-story. He baptized me and was my pastor for the first several years of my life. Our entire family would gather at Grandmama and Granddaddy’s house every year for Christmas Eve. Any time there is a birthday party (and there are plenty now that there are so many great-grandkids around) he and Grandmama are there. Once we moved to Hamilton, he would walk over to our house every day, bringing the newspaper and looking for something sweet to snack on. We would usually have something on hand to sneak to him – something he could eat without getting caught by Grandmama. When I was in Basic Training, he wrote me a hilarious letter outlining everything I “should be glad I’m missing” from back home.
Last year my family went to the church in Pine Mountain Valley where Granddad is currently preaching. Watching him preach was just like it was when I watched him as a child. Memories came flooding back as I listened to him, and recognized the same mannerisms and gestures I had observed when I was a child. His booming voice in the pulpit has always been both intimidating and comforting to me.
During family get-togethers Granddad can always be found sitting somewhere quietly. But he does not look bored. He is watching everyone around him, and always seems to be prepared with something witty or entertaining to say. We would sometimes sit around the table after eating, telling stories, and I always enjoyed it when Granddad chimed in with some of his own. When Granddad talks, people listen. When he speaks, you can be sure you are about to hear something very wise or very funny. I know I speak for everyone in my family when I say we have a special place in our hearts for Granddad. We all feel the same way about him. We love him.
Of course, talking about Granddad is not complete without mentioning Grandmama. They are quite a pair, and they balance each other out perfectly. Grandmama has been faithfully by Granddad’s side during the entire journey, ministering to friends, family, and church members just as much as he did.
I like to think I’ve inherited some of my traits from Granddad. I, too, have a love of sweets (I’m eating a cookie as I write this). I love to sit back and watch people, and I typically will find something funny to say if I know someone is paying attention. I think I may have gotten some of my quirkiness from him. One of my favorite pictures of him is one of him wearing my little sister’s bicycle helmet (which was far too small of course), and he has a little grin on his face.
I wish I could go back to the 40s, 50s, 60s, and 70s and see what Granddaddy was like when he was younger. But I imagine he was very similar to the way he is now. He has always been the same to me, always providing a sweet, quiet, comforting presence. I love you Granddaddy. Happy Birthday.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

My Parents

My initial inspiration for this blog was the recent Mother’s Day holiday. My plan was to write a Mother’s Day post, but as soon as I started writing I realized that I really want to dedicate this to both my parents, because they both have been instrumental in shaping me into who I am today. And you don’t get one without the other - they come together as a package deal.

I know plenty of people who look back at their childhood and think, “Wow, I bet I can pinpoint exactly why I’m screwed up now.” They can think back to a certain argument with their parents that inevitably shaped their relationship with them. Or a careless statement made by a parent that shaped their own view of themselves. When I look back at my childhood I truly see the most carefree, joy-filled memories of my life, and I think “That is what I want mine and Shane’s children to experience with us.”

Some people argue the issue of nature versus nurture, and I am a strong believer that more often than not, nurture is the reigning champion. April, Emily, and I have always had (especially at childhood) totally different personalities, temperaments, interests, and ways of relating to others. Yet we all grew into strong, loving, Godly women who are capable of pursuing career and family goals, and maintaining healthy relationships with the people in our lives. I remember people coming up to my mom or dad and saying, “You really lucked out and got three amazing daughters.” I think it’s a far stretch to say it’s a coincidence that we turned out well. The only explanation needed is to take a closer look at who raised us.

Here are a few things I have learned from my parents:

To love God – The most important thing I’ve learned is to keep my relationship with God number one. Of course, with my Granddad being the pastor of our church growing up, it seemed like we were at church any time the doors were open. But they didn’t go to church and act one way, and then come home and act a totally different way. They have always lived what they believe.

To be myself – They never once said, “You should play this sport, or participate in this activity instead of that one.” They let us choose what we wanted to do, based on what interested us. Maybe I would have been better at soccer than at basketball, but I had no interest in soccer and loved basketball, so they encouraged me in basketball.

I can do anything - I can do and be whatever I desire to be, with God’s help.

Not to take myself too seriously. My family is very fun-loving, and willing to laugh at themselves. This doesn’t just make for entertaining family get-togethers, it really is important.

To take care of each other – Whenever any of us is in need of something, the rest of the family is always right there to pitch in and help out.

Family produces awesome friendships – My family members honestly are my best friends. My parents both have healthy relationships with their own parents, and I think that definitely provided a positive influence on us as well.

To serve other people – From watching my parents, I learned that when you see someone in need of help, you go help them. You don’t just say, “Oh tell me if you need something.” You just do it.

Hospitality – For as long as I can remember my parents have been very eager to have people over for dinner, or just to visit. And they are always willing to bend over backwards to make someone feel at home when they are visiting.

Commitment – This may be the most important one. My parents have been married for 32 years. During those years they have said repeatedly, not by their words but by their actions, “I am here for good. I’m not going anywhere, even if things get tough.”

Here are a few things my parents have given me:

Acceptance – My parents never pressured us to get all A’s in school. They said all they asked of us was that we truly did our best. I cannot think of ONE time in my life that either of my parents has criticized me for what I am, what I believe, or how I feel.

Encouragement – Acceptance and lack of criticism is nice to have, but it’s not enough to stop there. My parents always encouraged us in whatever we were striving to do, even if it wasn’t exactly what they had in mind for us. I can guarantee my Mom probably had many other ideas in mind for me outside of joining the military. But ever since I told her that’s what I wanted to do, she has been one of my greatest supporters.

Unfailing support – They have been there to walk with me through all of life’s big moments, from first steps and first words to graduations and first jobs. They have helped me through the happy moments and the sad – from the loss of family members and close friends, and leaving to join the military, to very recently, getting married.

A helping hand - They are always there to pick me up when I fall. No matter what kind of mess I get myself into, they are right there to gently pick me back up and get me back on track.

Time – Time is one of the most important gifts a parent can give their kids. My parents took the time to home-school us when we were young. My mom worked part-time, and the rest of the time she was home with us. My dad took us hunting, and taught us to shoot guns and go fishing. My mom taught us to cook, bake, sew, and read. My dad taught us to work with our hands, and how to cut the grass (though I definitely didn’t appreciate that one at the time). My mom taught us to love books, and to enjoy traveling to new places. My dad taught us how to build things. They helped us with homework and countless school projects. And if I had to guess, they are going to help teach all of those things to our children as well.

Sacrifice - When we were older, my parents sent us to a private Christian school. They didn’t send us to public school because it was cheaper and they would be able to drive brand new cars or go on extravagant vacations. They drove used cars and gave us the opportunity to attend the school they felt we would benefit from the most. I know that was a sacrifice.

Role models – My parents have shown me what it means to be a father, mother, husband, wife, and friend. They are not perfect, but they do their best. My parents have shown me what it is that I want for my children. Of course, being female, I’ve especially learned what I want to be as a mother. If I can be half the mother my mom was to me, I will consider myself to have accomplished quite a feat.

Shane gave me the best compliment the other day. We were talking about which characteristics I inherited from my dad, and which ones I got from my mom. He summed it up perfectly and said I got my dad's strength and my mom's heart. I agree 100%, and I am very grateful for it.

So even though it’s not Mother’s Day anymore and it’s not Father’s Day yet, I just want to say:

Mom and Dad, thank you. :)

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Be Thankful For Your Potatoes

I try to have a positive attitude - I try not to complain about things or be negative. Obviously I still do from time to time, but it really annoys me, so I try not to. Well, the other day I had been having one of those days where it seemed like I was focusing more on the negative things about the events, people, and circumstances surrounding me. I had just started my shift at work, and I had to go downstairs and pick up a dinner tray for a patient. She was on a special pureed diet, which meant it took them forever to make the tray, so I waited for quite a while, thinking about all the work I needed to be doing instead of sitting there waiting.

My attitude had definitely started going downhill by the time I got back upstairs with the tray. I took it into the patient's room, and asked her if she was hungry. She nodded her head so I started feeding her the dinner. She ate very quietly for a while, slowly gumming away at this pureed meal. It was potatoes, corn, and some type of meat, all mashed up into their own little patties of mush. As I stood there feeding her, I let my mind wander – I thought about the mashed up food, and wondered whether it actually tasted like the real thing, then about how hungry I was and finally about how I was already tired and still had 11 hours left on my shift.Then she finally said something, very quietly: "The food is good."

My self-centered train of thought came to a sudden halt as she spoke these words. Suddenly my heart broke for this frail woman stuck lying in bed day after day. She has suffered a stroke, can no longer speak clearly or move well at all, and has to be fed and changed like a toddler. Yet she is able to think of something positive to say about what is happening to her. Needless to say, I felt about 2 inches tall, and immediately felt the sting of tears in my eyes as I thought about how pathetic it is for me to complain about anything at all, when I am so obviously blessed. I have a wonderful family, friends, my health, the opportunity to serve my country, and to help sick and injured people, all while being paid to do so. And I have the nerve to complain about something.

I made a decision a few years ago to be a positive person, and I have decided to re-kindle that decision now. When I start to think negatively, I’m going to replace the negative thought with a positive one. It really is easier than it sounds. And it’s much easier to stop it at the thought stage than the speaking stage. I know from experience that what you think about and what you dwell on is what will eventually come out of your mouth. So I’m determined to think positively, so that I speak positively. There is ALWAYS something to be thankful for, no matter how trying your circumstances may seem. And I thank that patient for reminding me of that.

“For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.” – Matthew 12:34

"May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer." - Psalm 19:14

Saturday, January 15, 2011

God Heals the Heart

God heals the heart

I’ve always heard this statement said to people who are going through difficult times, who have suffered loss, or are dealing with a tough situation. But I never knew the extent of its truthfulness until the past year or two. I am living proof that God not only heals the heart, He gives you even more than you could have possibly hoped for.

My High School Sweetheart

When I was 16, I went on a date with one of the guys from my 10th grade class at school. After our date he dropped me off at my friend’s house. Standing on the doorstep, we parted ways with a goodbye kiss that left my heart racing. Today, nearly 12 years later, he still makes my heart race. And in 3 months he and I will stand on a beach in Florida and express our love for each other, and celebrate the many years we will have together as husband and wife. I thank God every day for him.

I think it’s awesome to be able to say that I found the love of my life when I was 16. I may not have realized it at the time, but I know it now. Over the past decade we have been on again and off again in much the same fashion as Ross and Rachel from Friends. But somehow in the back of my mind I knew it was him. He was the one God had planned for me - to grow old with me, and to make me the happiest person in the world. :)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Saturday, September 11, 2010

"I Am The Flag"

I Am the Flag of the

United States

Of America

I am the flag of the United States of America.
My name is Old Glory.
I fly atop the world's tallest buildings.
I stand watch in America's halls of justice.
I fly majestically over institutions of learning.
I stand guard with power in the world.
Look up and see me.

I stand for peace, honor, truth and justice.
I stand for freedom.
I am confident.
I am arrogant.
I am proud.
When I am flown with my fellow banners,
My head is a little higher,
My colors a little truer.
I bow to no one!
I am recognized all over the world.
I am worshipped - I am saluted.
I am loved - I am revered.
I am respected - and I am feared.
I have fought in every battle of every war for more then 200 years. I was flown at Valley Forge, Gettysburg, Shiloh and Appomattox.
I was there at San Juan Hill, the trenches of France,
in the Argonne Forest, Anzio, Rome and the beaches of Normandy.
Guam, Okinawa, Korea and Khe Sanh, Saigon, Vietnam know me.
I'm presently in the mountains of Afghanistan and the hot and dusty deserts of Iraq and wherever freedom is needed.
I led my troops, I was dirty, battle-worn and tired,
But my soldiers cheered me and I was proud.
I have been burned, torn and trampled on the streets of countries I have helped set free.
It does not hurt for I am invincible.
I have been soiled upon, burned, torn and trampled in the streets of my country.
And when it's done by those whom I've served in battle - it hurts.
But I shall overcome - for I am strong.
I have slipped the bonds of Earth and stood watch over the uncharted frontiers of space from my vantage point on the moon.
I have borne silent witness to all of America's finest hours.
But my finest hours are yet to come.
When I am torn into strips and used as bandages for my wounded comrades on the battlefield,
When I am flown at half-mast to honor my soldier,
Or when I lie in the trembling arms of a grieving parent
at the grave of their fallen son or daughter,
I am proud.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Broken Dreams

Broken Dreams

As children bring their broken toys
With tears for us to mend,
I brought my broken dreams to God
Because He was my friend.

But then instead of leaving Him
In peace to work alone,
I hung around and tried to help
With ways that were my own.

At last I snatched them back and cried,
"How could you be so slow"
"My child," He said, "What could I do?
You never did let go."

Robert J. Burdette

Friday, December 11, 2009

"A balanced diet is a cookie in each hand"

My mom and sister have started baking cookies, cakes, pies, and all kinds of other goodies. Well, I shouldn't say they just started doing it, because they've been baking for years. But they only recently created a blog page where you can actually see what they're cooking up, and get an idea of what you want to order! :)

Christmas cookies make a really good gift for family, friends, and co-workers. Or maybe you're headed to Great Aunt Edna's for Christmas dinner, and have been tasked with dessert. Instead of spending hours in the kitchen making something that may or may not taste like cardboard, let them do the work for you and you're guaranteed to get a dessert that will have everyone asking for seconds.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

A Soldier's Christmas Poem

Written by Lance Corporal James M. Schmidt.

'Twas The Night Before Christmas,
He Lived All Alone,
In A One Bedroom House
Made Of Plaster And Stone.

I Had Come Down The Chimney
With Presents To Give,
And To See Just Who
In This Home Did Live.

I Looked All About,
A Strange Sight I Did See,
No Tinsel, No Presents,
Not Even A Tree.

No Stocking By Mantle,
Just Boots Filled With Sand,
On The Wall Hung Pictures
Of Far Distant Lands.

With Medals And Badges,
Awards Of All Kinds,
A Sober Thought
Came Through My Mind.

For This House Was Different,
It Was Dark And Dreary,
I Found The Home Of A Soldier,
Once I Could See Clearly.

The Soldier Lay Sleeping,
Silent, Alone,
Curled Up On The Floor
In This One Bedroom Home.

The Face Was So Gentle,
The Room In Such Disorder,
Not How I Pictured
A United States Soldier.

Was This The Hero
Of Whom I'd Just Read?
Curled Up On A Poncho,
The Floor For A Bed?

I Realized The Families
That I Saw This Night,
Owed Their Lives To These Soldiers
Who Were Willing To Fight.

Soon Round The World,
The Children Would Play,
And Grownups Would Celebrate
A Bright Christmas Day.

They All Enjoyed Freedom
Each Month Of The Year,
Because Of The Soldiers,
Like The One Lying Here.

I Couldn't Help Wonder
How Many Lay Alone,
On A Cold Christmas Eve
In A Land Far From Home.

The Very Thought
Brought A Tear To My Eye,
I Dropped To My Knees
And Started To Cry.

The Soldier Awakened
And I Heard A Rough Voice,
"Santa Don't Cry,
This Life Is My Choice;

I Fight For Freedom,
I Don't Ask For More,
My Life Is My God,
My Country, My Corps."

The Soldier Rolled Over
And Drifted To Sleep,
I Couldn't Control It,
I Continued To Weep.

I Kept Watch For Hours,
So Silent And Still
And We Both Shivered
From The Cold Night's Chill.

I Didn't Want To Leave
On That Cold, Dark, Night,
This Guardian Of Honor
So Willing To Fight.

Then The Soldier Rolled Over,
With A Voice Soft And Pure,
Whispered, "Carry On Santa,
It's Christmas Day, All Is Secure."

One Look At My Watch,
And I Knew He Was Right.
"Merry Christmas My Friend,
And To All A Good Night."

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

For an Angel on His Birthday

Happy Birthday to an Angel

May you know how much you’re missed

By all of those whose lives you touched

Which are more than I could list.

May you enjoy this day

With your Father above,

In the light of His glory,

And wrapped in His love.

My prayers are with your family and friends

Who all are missing you so.

The ones who stood beside you

Through the years, and watched you grow

From a small boy full of mischief,

To a grown man proud and tall,

To a warrior filled with courage,

A fallen soldier who gave all.

Thank you, dear angel, for selflessly living

The life that you so freely gave

For love of your brothers, for love of your country,

The land of the free and the brave.

I’m sure of the words of our Father above

As into Heaven He welcomed you.

“Well done, my son, you’re finally home

My good servant, faithful and true.”

Happy Birthday Adam.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Did you PLAN your bear hunt in the wilderness?

Walking with God does not mean walking with him when it's convenient, through a problem-free life that we have all planned out.

You may want to re-read that. I’ll give you a second. Ready? Good. The above statement is something that has, at times, been hard for me to accept. I’ve never actually heard this statement anywhere, but I came up with it in an attempt to encompass three common misconceptions about walking with God that have been hindering my own spiritual journey.

First, walking with God means walking with Him through life and all that comes with it. It does not mean you walk with Him around the problems, or above the tragedies, or somehow pray your way out of hardships and trials. I remember in preschool or kindergarten, when we would sing the song about going on a bear hunt. I don’t remember it exactly, but it involved running into several obstacles along the way. One was a river. And what choices were we faced with when we came to the river? “Can’t go over it, can’t go under it, can’t go around it, gotta go through it.”

That’s how the Christian life works. You gotta go through it. But no worries, God is right there with you. In Hebrews 13:5 He promises us “Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you.”

Secondly, just because we’re walking with God doesn’t mean we get to make the plans. We can’t come up with a great plan, pray about it, and expect God to jump on board and bless it just because we ask Him to. That’s a little bit backwards. First you should pray about it then ask Him to show you how to follow His plan. So when something interrupts your plans, the question you’re faced with is this: Will I go with God on this journey, even though it’s not what I had planned? Will I go with Him anyway?

“In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.” - Proverbs 16:9

Thirdly, walking with God does not mean walking with Him when it’s convenient, or when it serves our purposes, or when we think we will get something out of it. Basically, we need to either decide to walk with God 100%, or get out of the way. The decision to walk with God, and stay with Him, is not always going to look like the most exciting choice. Suppose someone gave you these two options:

1. Walk with God down this path and receive tons of blessings, or

2. Walk your own path, follow your own plans, and end up misguided and frustrated.

Obviously, this would be an easy choice. Now suppose someone gave you these options:

1. Walk with God down this path and lose your sense of worldly security (financial, social, etc), and face trials that will ultimately serve to make you grow, but will be painful. Or,

2. Walk your own path and live a relatively comfortable life with no intrusive obstacles along the way.

A slightly more difficult decision, right? I am not trying to over-simplify what it means to choose God’s ways over our own. I’m just trying to make the point that choosing the path God wants doesn't mean we’re choosing a painless, obstacle-free journey. But it does mean we have Him right beside us all along the way.

Right now I’m doing a Bible study that centers on the Israelites’ deliverance from Egypt, their journey to the Promised Land, and all the wandering they do in the meantime. The study invites each person to be willing to follow God into the “wilderness”, whatever that may be for him/her.

Everyone does not face the same wilderness. It may be something tragic that happens in your life. You lose a loved one, or lose a job, or a marriage that you thought would last forever begins to fall apart. It could simply be a situation that is frustrating you, because it’s not “what you had planned.” It could be something more voluntary, where you have to make the choice between journeying into the wilderness or staying safely where you are. However your individual wilderness manifests itself, the basic principles are the same.

Often when God allows a wilderness opportunity into our lives, it’s because He sees potential in us to be more and do more in our walk with Him. He’s not letting things into our lives because He’s mad at us, or because we haven’t passed some unwritten test. He does it so we will grow.

Don’t expect a short journey through the wilderness. You may get a short one, but don’t expect one. God will allow you to remain in your wilderness, face-to-face with it, until He has used it to fully develop your potential and cause you to grow. Remember that when you’re facing something in your life, before you attach any type of negative label to it, remember that God can use it for something positive. God’s ways are not our ways. There are no mistakes in His plan. The only mistake would be to not trust Him to lead you through that plan.

“‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the Lord.” - Isaiah 55:8

Friday, August 28, 2009

Thoughts on Grieving

Sorry this first one is not all that cheerful. But I found this one in my "In Progress" folder and it was actually already complete! :)

Thoughts on grieving…

When we grieve, we grieve not only for the one we lost. We grieve for every single possibility that may have awaited us in our future. All the questions of “what if” and “if only”, which begin to creep into our heads the very second that person is taken from us.

“What if he hadn’t been at the wrong place at the wrong time?”
“What if he had somehow lived through it?”
“What if I had said more often how I felt?”
“What if he had made it back home safely?”
“What if we were meant for each other?”

We can’t run from the questions. Well, we can run from them, but not forever, and not with good results. Not only must we turn around and face these nagging, unanswerable questions... We must take each one in turn, walk with it down the road of the mind’s eye, accompany it to the dead-end that awaits, and watch helplessly as it dies a slow, agonizing death. Then we must trek back to the starting point, only to pick up another unanswerable question and begin the same journey once more.

To me, there is a very fine line between working through grief and torturing yourself. Honestly, the process is the same, the questions are the same. But the factors which determine which result you’ll get (healing or torment) are your attitude, your faith, and your determination not to become completely overcome by the grief.

It’s important to understand that it’s okay to have a bad day. Grieving is not supposed to be some neat, orderly process, where each day is always better than the ones before. Some days you just can’t face the grief, and that’s okay. Don’t push yourself to. Heaven knows it will still be there waiting for you when you’re ready to pick it back up again and face it. But don’t hide out too long, either. The anger and grief will fester and eat at you until the day comes when you must either release the grief or let it destroy you.

I think one thing that makes grieving so hard is being overly concerned with whether or not you’re doing it right, or fast enough, or slowly enough. I know for me, I was terrified of not going through the grieving process correctly and at an acceptable pace, for fear that I would have to retrace my steps, or end up emotionally scarred for a lifetime. So after reading up a bit on the topic of grieving, I picked up several tips. Some were from educated professionals who study the mind, and some from caring souls who have walked the road already and want to help out those who come behind them. So, here is my advice… my one all-encompassing tip on grieving.

Gather together every piece of advice on grieving and loss, whether you consider it to be good or bad. Print it out and put it all together in a notebook. Got it? Now throw that notebook as far away from you as possible. Or set the thing on fire. Feel better? Didn’t think so. Feel alone and vulnerable and petrified and directionless? Good. You have to work through your grief in your own way, and in your own time. You cannot borrow someone else’s notes and cheat on this test. Doesn’t work that way. Suppose someone tells you to go through five stages, in this specific order, and allow 3-5 weeks for each. But you really needed only 3 stages, and you needed 6 months in each. You may very well end up at least temporarily, if not irreversibly, screwed up. That grieving plan, though it may have worked for someone else, is not your own individual plan, and it will not work for you.

All notebook-burning joking aside… Here is what I would suggest, and what I will hopefully do the first time around whenever I have cause to grieve again. Pray. Ask God to make you sensitive to what you need, when you need it. Trust. You have to know that you can depend on God completely during this entire process. Give yourself freedom. When you feel like crying, cry. When you feel like looking through old letters and pictures, do it. When you feel like writing, write. When you feel like dying, fight. When you don’t think you can think about it for one more second, don’t. Think about something else. Or someone else. One of the best ways to get your mind off yourself and your problems is to reach out and do something for someone else.

Just know that God will get you through it. Lean on Him and trust Him with all your heart.

Psalm 23

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not be in want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my
cup overflows.
Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of
the LORD forever.

I'm back...

Well, I know it's been about 9 months since I've written anything for this blog. I was able to get some posts cranked out at the last minute before leaving for Basic Training, and get those auto-published while I was in BMT, but I haven't done anything since then. I'm back now, though, so please feel free to breathe that sigh of relief and return, finally, to getting a full night's rest.

I have an entire folder full of "in progress" blogs that are in various stages of development. So I'm going to try to finish some of those, and then return to creating new ones. Of course, they're all new to you, the reader, so I basically just wasted time and energy writing this entire paragraph.

Aren't you glad I'm back? :)

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Rocket Coffee

At the train stations in Italy, there are drink machines and vending machines beside virtually every track in every station. We tried lots of different things, but our favorite was a type of candy we fondly refer to as “Rocket Coffee.” It is chocolate candy filled with liquid coffee. You bite into it, and your mouth is filled with coffee. Strange at first, yes, but incredibly addicting and wonderful. Especially in the afternoon when you’ve been walking forever and you’re starting to drag. It’s really called Pocket Coffee but we apparently didn’t look very closely at it, and now the name has stuck.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


Mom and I had plans to have a picnic in one of the parks. We went into a grocery store and found some fruit, cheese, and bread. We wanted to get some grapes, so Mom oh-so-confidently marches up to one of the store workers and asks where she might find “grappa”. We were slightly confused as he headed away from the produce, and then stopped in front of the wine section, pointing, and repeating “grappa.” I’m sure he was disappointed and probably somewhat frustrated when we didn’t purchase any wine… I don’t think we ever found any grapes. :)

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Paged in Rome

My Mom and I are planners. We are list people. We have lists for our lists. We have an item on our to-do list that says “Make a list of to-do lists to make.” Haha. We do not like to be late, and we like to be prepared. Oh, and neither of us necessarily likes to be the center of attention. I point these things out to you so you will keep them in the back of your mind as you read this next story.

Our flight home from Italy had one stop. We flew from Florence to Rome, and then from Rome to Atlanta. Our layover in Rome was about 3 or 4 hours, if I remember correctly. We had missed seeing St. Peter’s during our visit to Rome earlier in our trip, so we actually toyed with the idea of zipping over there and seeing it before our flight left. Being the sensible gals that we are, we decided against it, thinking it more prudent to just hang around the vicinity of the airport until our next flight. We had a blast wandering all over the airport, people-watching, shopping, and just walking around. We got our last serving of gelato, and ate it while sitting next to a window that was right beside the runway. Mom and I are both fascinated with planes, so we sat there forever watching planes take off and land.

Finally, we decided we should go ahead and start making our way to our gate. On the way there I stopped at the ladies’ restroom. It was quite crowded, so I was standing in line… All of a sudden mom dashes into the bathroom, eyes wide, and says, “They are paging us to our gate!!!” Forgetting any necessity of bodily functions, I immediately followed her out, and we proceeded to practically run to our gate. We finally got there and the two people working there verified who we were, and then practically shoved us through the terminal. We boarded the plane where dozens of passengers were patiently (ha) waiting.

This story is just a testament of the irony that exists in both of our lives, especially mine. With a four hour layover, most people would have tried to squeeze in some last minute sight-seeing or shopping. Not us. Being the ever responsible travelers, we had decided to just park it and wait until it was time for our flight. And in doing so, we just about missed our flight. :)