Thursday, May 31, 2007

Are You Deep Or Shallow?

Not long ago I was having a conversation with a close friend. We were discussing attitudes towards church. Talking about why people go to church. What they expect church to be. Things like that.

My friend said something that took me by surprise, just a little. She had grown up in church and feels that being involved in a local body of believers is essential for all believers.

Yet still she said..."I'm just a shallow Christian."

Wow! Do you know what it takes to admit that? To admit it when you've been a Christian for all of your adult life?

She is so far ahead of another friend of mine. This friend I call my "Country Club Church" friend. When looking for a 'church' to attend, this friend wants to know what activities the church has. Wants to know if the church will fill her social calendar for her. If you ask her what her pastor preached on last Sunday (or any Sunday for that matter) she would not be able to tell you. Sunday School lesson? No time for that! There are socials to plan and projects to do!

Then there is the lady that sat in front of me a few months back. Her expression said it all. "BORING!" Throughout the entire service she kept talking to the other ladies sitting beside her. It seemed they were critiquing a fashion show rather than worshipping our Loving Lord. She just seemed bored with the whole concept of being in church on that Sunday. I had to ask myself (because I didn't have the nerve to ask her) "Why is she here? She didn't appear to hear one word that was sung or preached!"

Please don't think me judgemental. I wonder when I fit the above descriptions?

When do I become shallow in my walk? When am I afraid to go deeper?

When am I more concerned with the date of the class Christmas White Elephant gift exchange than I am about the real meaning of Christmas?

When do I attend church in 'absent' mode? Let my mind wonder to anything and everything else that I could be doing that day?

What about you? How will you approach our Loving Lord's house of worship next time?

Will you tip-toe in? Stay safely in the shallow water? Not letting anything challenge you or change you? Or will you say "I'm diving in, head-first, sink or swim, I want all of my Loving Lord that I can get my hands on?"

Will you be looking at what everyone is wearing to see who 'obviously' went shopping this week for new clothes? Will you be looking for the sign up sheet for the next social? Will you be hoping to catch up on the latest town gossip? Or will you recognize the holy place that you have entered and turn your focus wholly and completely on our Loving Lord and what He wants you to learn that day?

Will you planning your next vacation on the back of the bulletin? Will you be dreaming of being somewhere else? Will you be sitting 'absent' in the pew? Or will you clear your mind of all distractions and focus on the One that loves you with a never-ending love and desires your complete worship of Him?

Will stay shallow or go deep?

1 Peter 1:18-21 (The Message) Your life is a journey you must travel with a deep consciousness of God. It cost God plenty to get you out of that dead-end, empty-headed life you grew up in. He paid with Christ's sacred blood, you know. He died like an unblemished, sacrificial lamb. And this was no afterthought. Even though it has only lately—at the end of the ages—become public knowledge, God always knew he was going to do this for you. It's because of this sacrificed Messiah, whom God then raised from the dead and glorified, that you trust God, that you know you have a future in God.



Wednesday, May 30, 2007

What's Your Weather Forecast?

The weather forecaster said "There's a 70% chance of rain."
The morning emcee asked "Do you ever say 'There's a 30% chance of sun'"?

I have often had that same thought. Being the optimist that I am, I wonder why they say "We have a 10% chance of rain" when they could say "We have a 90% chance of seeing the beautiful sun shine today!"

And why do we get upset and complain when we have 70% chance of rain ...
And still complain when we have a 70% chance of sun? (For anyone that's slow that equals a 30% chance of rain.)

I wonder how our day would be different if we focused on what was positive instead of what makes us gloomy.

(Side note to my family and friends in the southeast USA: I know you NEED rain and even a 10% chance of rain would make your day, but for today think beyond the current drought you are in, think on 'normal' southeast summers.)

So my challenge to everyone today is this: Whenever you hear today's forecast, restate it to this: "We have a ___% chance of sun!" And even if it's only a 10% chance of sun, rejoice!

Then!

Then remember that every single day of your life, no matter if you are experiencing torrential downpours or extreme drought or anything in-between...every day...we have..a..100 Percent Chance of SON!

Will you choose today to focus on the Son-shine regardless of the level of sunshine in your area? Will you choose to view your day from the positive perspective instead of the negative? Will you take a moment right now to thank our Loving Lord for His eternal Son?

Ecclesiastes 11:7 (The Message)
Oh, how sweet the light of day,
And how wonderful to live in the sunshine!
Even if you live a long time, don't take a single day for granted.
Take delight in each light-filled hour,
Remembering that there will also be many dark days
And that most of what comes your way is smoke.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

How Big Are Your Dreams?

Connie from Little Red Heart from God tagged me after she was tagged in a meme that sounds interesting...one where we get to share our dreams and / or belief's--in which we live completely abandoned in our hopes and dreams with our Loving Lord.



So here it goes:

What are your dreams?

Not things that God has promised you, but things you dream about or things that you whisper in His ear.

What are you believing God for?

Be bold, Be Honest, Be courageous!



Like Connie (slightly modified):


  • I'm believing God to keep my son in His reach even if it means taking him through brokenness to bring him back. That he will have a very intimate relationship with our Loving Lord.
  • I am boldly praying for his future spouse to be a Christian and to love my son like I love him and as Christ loves him.
  • I dream of being debt free
  • I dream of losing more weight than I care to mention and keeping it off for the rest of my life and being in better shape.
    I dream of being a better keeper of our home.

Additionally...

  • I dream of being an internationally know writer and speaker. Faithwriters is getting me started in that direction. People in Australia read my writing :-)
  • I dream of God using my past experiences to help people live through their struggles.
  • I am believing God for my dear hubby to have Sundays off again in a job that he loves without negatively impacting our financial situation.
  • I dream of living in a smaller town.
  • I'm believing God, really asking Him with all my heart, believing Him to heal my good friends that are living with various forms of cancer.

Connie says I don't have to tag anyone but if you want to share your dreams use the 'comment' link below.

{{{{HUGS}}}}
Sharon

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Where Do You Get Direction?

My son wanted to buy chocolate for his sweet girlfriend.

So off to Wally-World he went.

When he got there, he called me. His mom. Called his mom from Wally-World.

"So I want to buy her chocolate...I see this baking chocolate...is that what I want?"

Smiling to myself, I simply replied "No. You're in the wrong area. Are you at Wally-World?" I wanted to verify he didn't decide to go somewhere else.

Son: "YES!"
Mom: "Do you know where the bikes are in Wally-World?"
Son: "Bikes! What do bikes have to do with chocolate?!? I'm in the grocery part and they are on the other side of the store!"
Mom: "You are in the wrong part of the store. Do you know where the bikes are!?!"
Son: "Yeeesssss!"
Mom: "Just before you get to the bikes, there's a wide aisle and just before that is the candy section."
Son: "OH YEAH! That's right! OK, thanks, bye!"

And with that his need for 'mom' was over.

However, the cool thing is this...He needed help. He needed information. He's a young adult man that didn't have all the answers...and he knew where to turn...knew who he could trust...he didn't just try to do it by himself, right or wrong...he called home. Home.

So of course I found myself asking myself "Self! What do you do when you need help? When you don't have all the answers? When you are looking for chocolate miracles but all you see is chocolate trials? Do you call Home and speak to our Father and let him smile at you and say 'Sweet child, you are looking in the wrong place'"?

I never want to forget the fact that my Loving Lord has all the answers. He knows where everything is in the store called Life. He can use what I know (like the bikes) as a point of reference to get me where I need to be.

Are you looking for something today but not sure if you have found it? Will you call our Loving Lord and ask Him if you are where you need to be? Will you listen carefully when He asks you if you know where the 'bikes' are so He can guide you to the place you should be?
Psalm 25:8 (The Message)
God is fair and just;
He corrects the misdirected,
Sends them in the right direction.





Thursday, May 24, 2007

What Language Are You Speaking?

¿Se Habla EspaƱol?

You've seen them, right?
You've seen the signs, haven't you?
Signs letting you know that someone in the building speaks Spanish?


As I drive around the area where I live, I see them often. The signs let you know that, although most business in our area is conducted in English, if you speak Spanish, someone there in that business speaks Spanish as well. You can understand and be understood.

This got me to thinking.
Got me thinking about our churches.
Thinking about the language we speak in our churches.
If you are from 'around here', from a church family, grew up in a church, then you know the language. You know the language well.

But what if you aren't from 'around here'? What if you are new to a church? Will you know the language? Will you understand the culture? Or will it all sound 'Greek' to you?

Perhaps we should put a sign up that says "We speak world".

Now before someone gets uptight, let me explain. Yes, I know that many of our churches have become 'seeker sensitive' and some have really brought the world in to the church instead of taking the church to the world. There are churches that 'accept' everyone. There are churches that look more like a rock concert than a place of worship and they all claim to 'speak' the language of the world.

However...
However what I'm thinking is this...
We need to let the world know that we hear, speak, and understand their language. And help them understand ours.

Like this...

'Susie' has three children and an ex-husband who left her. She works to support them and they live in a run down apartment. Can you speak her language? Can you meet her where she lives? Can you understand her hurt? Or do you just expect her to understand you when you say "All things work together for good..." or "This too shall pass"? What does that mean to her if she has never heard the good news? Do you tell her "come to our church, it has all the answers"? If so, what does that mean to her if she's never been to a church, if she doesn't even know the questions she needs to have answered?

Or this...

'Johnny' decides at mid-life to check this religion thing out. He comes to your church. It's his first time in any church at all. He wears his favorite t-shirt, jeans and flip-flops. He walks through the door of your church and what do you do? Do you ignore him thinking he'll find his way on his own? Do you look the other way because he should be wearing his 'church clothes' in your church? Do you expect him to know what to do when the offering plate is passed or the Lord's Supper is served? Are you appalled when he thinks the plate is a handout and takes money out instead of putting anything in?

Do we expect the world to know our language and customs, perhaps by osmosis? Are we too 'good' to take the time to explain the things we take for granted to someone who has never studied our ways and our words? Can we put 'salvation' in words the world understands? Can we explain 'sin' and 'repentance' in their lingo or do we give up on them if they don't understand our vernacular?

What language will you speak to the world with today? Will you speak 'world' with someone today and start a 'Bible as a Second Language' class with someone in need? Will you let them know it's OK to come as they are and learn as they go?

Ezekiel 3:4-6 (The Message) Then he told me, "Son of man, go to the family of Israel and speak my Message. Look, I'm not sending you to a people who speak a hard-to-learn language with words you can hardly pronounce. If I had sent you to such people, their ears would have perked up and they would have listened immediately.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Are You Saving For This?

We got it!
North Texas got it!!
It's big news!!!

North Texas...Dallas...Arlington actually...

We got the 2011 Super Bowl...Super Bowl XLV.

Now this may not be interesting news to you but if you turn on a radio or television in North Texas today, it's the biggest story you will hear.

It was even 'big' news on my favorite Christian radio station, KCBI. My favorite morning show host even teased the news story by saying "If you plan to attend, you need a pretty big piggy bank that will hold lots of pennies". You'll need to 'save' a lot if you plan to attend.

All the news reports are that people are making plans now and this game is over three and half years away! Everyone is talking about how 'exciting' this news is. Everyone is sharing the good news that we got the game.

But...

But think about this...

But think about the fact that this game may never even happen...

Something much bigger is coming. Something even more exciting. Something more important. Something that we need to be telling everyone about. Something that is even better news than getting the Super Bowl in your local football town.

And if this thing happens in the next few years, Super Bowl 45 will not be near as big of a news item and it the game may not happen at all.

This event is the event we should all be looking for. All be expecting. At any time, expecting. This event is the return of our Loving Lord to take His children home.

Are you sharing this most important exciting news? Are you 'saving' souls in anticipation of the big day? Are you making your own plans to be included in the big event and ensuring those you love are going with you? Or are more excited about the things of this world than those of eternity?

Matthew 24:36-39 (New Living Translation)
36 “However, no one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself. Only the Father knows. 37 “When the Son of Man returns, it will be like it was in Noah’s day. 38 In those days before the flood, the people were enjoying banquets and parties and weddings right up to the time Noah entered his boat. 39 People didn’t realize what was going to happen until the flood came and swept them all away. That is the way it will be when the Son of Man comes.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Are You Iron?

I have been entering some writing challenges at FaithWriters.com and I am amazed at the level of talent there is out there in 'writing-land'.

After reading some of last week's challenge winners, I said to my dear hubby "When I read what those writers wrote and see how good they are, I see why I don't make my living as a professional writer!" He started to interrupt me so he could placate me with some soothing words when I continued "But when I sit down to write with just a few lines in my mind or just a concept of a Little Lesson and the words just flow out onto the screen, I see how my Loving Lord can give life to the dream He has planted in me to be a writer and speaker!"

One of the writers at Faith Writers has offered to proof my entries and to provide me with feedback on my writing. That is part of what I do every day in my job as a Communications Manager -- I read what other people write and make suggestions on how they can write it better.

Others write, I edit and improve on their writing. I write and others edit and improve on what I write.

We all sharpen each other's skills.

There are other writers in my life as well that encourage me and provide me feedback. Rose, in Phoenix, who writes training materials. Lucy, a coworker, who writes for her own enjoyment and edits several newsletters. Connie, in Georgia, who writes a beautiful blog. Wayne, my brother, who has to write several sermons each week.

Sometimes the feedback is good and encouraging. Sometimes it seems critical at first or stirs up controversy over viewpoints or contradicts something that person told me about a previous draft. Every time the feedback is to help me be the best writer I can be to reach the most people with the Little Lessons our Loving Lord gives me.

They all help me sharpen my skills.

Where do you need sharpening today? In what area of your life do you need someone to give you some feedback? In what talent area do you think you are 'good' but someone else is better? Will you let that person sharpen you?

Is there someone you need to challenge today? Is there someone that shares a talent with you that you need to meet with and provide feedback to so that they can be sharpened? Will you be the iron that sharpens their iron?

Proverbs 27:17 (New International Version) As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.

Friday, May 18, 2007

What Is A Nation?

I recently had lunch with a friend. We were discussing the various ways we minister to those around us.

She related a story to me. She volunteers with girls that are in the juvenile detention system. While she was there one time, they were discussing the Great Commission. The King James Version puts it this way "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations..."

What comprises a nation?

Here locally, during a recent election, a nearby town voted on whether or not landlords can rent to undocumented immigrants. The town has a very diverse population. They were divided on the issue

What comprises a nation?

When I was growing up and memorized Matthew 28:19, I thought I knew what a nation was. "Go ye therefore" meant go...go away...go far, far away. And "teach all nations" well that meant all those other 'unchristian' nations way across the sea from where I lived.

What comprises a nation?

In that juvenile detention center, speaking to those girls held captive, girls from many different ethnic backgrounds...my friend discovered the meaning of a nation.

Nation...the root word for 'nationality'...

What comprises a nation?

Just up the road in that nearby town, people are learning about each other, learning how and why people come here without the proper paperwork, learning how being from a different nation doesn't make you any less in need for His love.

Nation..the root word for 'nationality'...

Our Loving Lord tells us to "Go ye" .... get up, get moving, take action ..."Therefore" ... because, because of what I taught you ... "and teach" ... tell them what you know to be true, share the Good News ... "all" ... don't leave any out, include everyone ... "nations" anyone in your nation/nationality and out of your nation/nationality.

What "nation" is our Loving Lord sending you to today to tell His good news? Is it to the Indian family that just moved into your neighborhood? Is it the Asian cell mate in a detention center with a loved one? Is it your hispanic co-worker? Is it your European waiter at the local cafe? Where is the 'nation' or what is the 'nationality' that He is leading you to with His words...Go! Go ye therefore and teach...

Isaiah 52:7 (New International Version)
How beautiful on the mountains
are the feet of those who bring good news,
who proclaim peace,

who bring good tidings,

who proclaim salvation,

who say to Zion,

"Your God reigns!"


Thursday, May 17, 2007

What Is Life Throwing At You Today?

One never knows what life will throw at you.
One never knows if the things they fear will happen or not.

Take my home town.
(Yes I was born in south Florida but I consider north Florida "home".)
Take my home town of Lake City, FL.
Lake City is in Columbia County.
Columbia County is where the fires are burning in North Florida.
The fires are north of Lake City.
Everyone in the county knows the fires are there.
Everyone is affected in some way.

Some are affected and in danger of loosing their homes.
Some are only affected by the smoke and ash in the air.
Some are affected by the fear of 'what if'...
what if the fires spread and come to my end of the county.

One never knows what life will throw at you.
One never knows if the things they fear will happen or not.


Take my blogging friend Connie at LittleRedHeartFromGod.Blogspot.com
Her daddy was scheduled for a 'procedure' recently to determine if there was a malignancy.
Everyone in her family was affected by this visit.
Some were anxious about what the visit would show.
Some were concerned about what would happen if the diagnosis was not good.
Some are concerned about her daddy's very salvation.
The results are in.
Pancreatic cancer.
All are now praying for her daddy...both for his physical healing and for his eternal healing.
All are affected by the question...what now? What treatment? What changes have to be made? What is ahead for us? What if we don't know the answers?

One never knows what life will throw at you.
One never knows if the things they fear will happen or not.

And yet last night ... my biggest concern was who was leaving American Idol. I really don't care for Blake's singing at all. I felt Jordin and Melinda were two of the very best in the entire competition. During the results announcement, I sat there and said "That's just not right! Melinda should absolutely be in the finals!" Melinda deserved better than she got.

One never knows what life will throw at you.
One never knows if the things they fear will happen or not.

What is life throwing at you today? Are you facing a fire or a major illness, or are you just facing the frustration that the TV shows you watch are not going the way you want them to go?

What are you fearing will happen? How are you facing that fear?

Are you trying to put out all your fires on your own or are you handing the water hose over to our Loving Lord and asking Him to contain the fire for you?

Are you trying to be the healer for the health and soul of those around you or are you on your knees before the Great Physician saying "Loving Lord HELP!"?

Are you too focused on the mundane things like television or sports or yard work, too focused to see those in real need around you and around the world? Are you willing to get off the couch and on your knees and lift up those in need (like my hometown and Connie's family), lift them up in prayer? Then are you willing, if physically possible, to go and help those you have prayed for?

We never know what life may throw as us but we know Who is in control.
We never know if the things that we fear will happen or not so our Loving Lord reminds us ... not to fear ... for He truly is in control.

From "The Message":
Luke 1:13 But the angel reassured him, "Don't fear, Zachariah.
Luke 1:29 She was thoroughly shaken, wondering what was behind a greeting like that. But the angel assured her, "Mary, you have nothing to fear.
Luke 5:10 Jesus said to Simon, "There is nothing to fear.
Acts 4:31 While they were praying, the place where they were meeting trembled and shook. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak God's Word with fearless confidence.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Are Your Circuits Busy?

Mark Lowry is coming to our town!

Not just to our town but to a community nearby me! No need to even get on a freeway!

And guess what? My favorite radio station, KCBI, 90.9 in the DFW area, is giving away some tickets to the show!

John McLain, my morning show host, said "Be caller number 9 to win a family four pack." So I picked up my cell phone and called the number (which of course is already programmed in my phone...because...as I said...KCBI is my favorite local radio station!). I hit the 'call' button and...

Busy!

Hang up and hit redial...

It's ringing...then...a voice speaks...

I think to myself "Am I caller number 9? Am I going to win these great tickets?"

I listen to the voice and it says...

"All circuits are busy now. Please try your call again later."

Ughhhh!!!

I hang up. Bummer! I don't try to call back because I'm sure that by now, with my two failed attempts, one busy and one no circuits available, I'm sure that they have caller number 9 holding on the line.

Busy phone then all circuits busy. Failed attempt to communicate.

I wonder if I ever feel that way when calling on my Loving Lord? I wonder if...when I don't get an answer right away to a prayer request...I wonder if I think I've received a busy signal?

Or when I pray do I feel that all circuits are probably busy and He doesn't have time to listen to me anyway?

Our Loving Lord's line is always open. His circuits are never overloaded. If every single believer in the universe stopped and called on His name at the exact same time, each and every 'call' would indeed go through and be heard by our Loving Lord.

Have you tried to call Him today? Will you call out to Him in prayer and thank Him for always being there for you? Will you realize that you are always the 'correct' caller when you want to win what He is offering?

Psalm 20:5 (Amplified Bible) We will [shout in] triumph at your salvation and victory, and in the name of our God we will set up our banners. May the Lord fulfill all your petitions.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Who's Following You? (Part 2)

So you read "Who's Following You?", right?

Well, on the way to work the morning I wrote that, as I approached a railroad crossing, the track lights came on and the crossing arms started flashing...indicating they were preparing to come down.

So being the cautious driver that I am, I slowed to a stop and prepared to wait for the train to pass by. I have driven this way many times and I know that the train that travels this track at this time of the morning is a very, very short train. It's a simple commuter train that passes by quickly. To wait on this train will not delay your trip much...but to 'run' the train's signal light...and to get 'caught' by the passing train, will ruin not only your day but possibly your life.

I slowed to a stop and prepared for my short wait. I knew there was a tailgater following me. So I glanced in my rear view mirror and saw that the driver was visibly upset that I didn't run the light and let them go through with me. They displayed the fact that I had slowed them down.

I don't know if they travel that way often or not. I don't know whether or not they know that stopping is a minor inconvenience that prevents potential disaster. I don't know what they know...but I do know that they were following me and I could not lead them into danger. I was glad for both of us that I chose to do what was right.

What do you do when you approach a warning sign in your life? Do you heed the warning or do you ignore it and continue on your way? What if someone is following your life...looking for Something to fill the empty hole in theirs? What would you do if you ignored a warning sign and someone following you fell into the enemy's hands because you did not head the warning? Will you be committed today to helping those that follow close behind you...helping them see and recognize the warning signs in life?

1 Corinthians 10:11 (New International Version) These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come.



Monday, May 14, 2007

Who Is Following You?

I know I've told you before how much tailgaters bother me.

Maybe it's because I've been in a few cars that have been hit from the rear due to people following too close...once in college, once as a newlywed driving on a DFW freeway, once during the first week of a new job, once on the way to take my son to a bowling tournament, once at a stop sign in my old neighborhood...not all caused damage but all made me have to stop to see if there was damage.

Anyway.

Recently, I was driving and I noticed, once again...tailgaters. But this time it was different.

This time I said "Why are you following me so closely?" Normally I just say (into the empty car where no one but our Loving Lord hears me so I probably seem a bit crazy) I say "Quit tailgating me!!!"

But this time it was different. This time I asked a different question. This time I asked "Why? Why are you following me so closely?"

And that led to other questions...who are you? Why do you want to follow me at all? Why do you want to follow me so closely? What am I leading you to?

Who is following me? Unbelievers? Believers who want a closer walk with our Loving Lord? Believers who want to push me to higher place?

Why are they following me? Are they suspicious of me and my motives? Or do they see Him in me and want what I have? Or are they just curious and want to get close enough to learn more about why I serve our Loving Lord?

Where am I leading them? Am I leading them just to follow my writings or am I leading them to the Word of our Loving Lord? Am I leading them to a more personal relationship with Him? Am I leading them to a saving knowledge of Him?

How about you? Are you leading by example? When someone is following you, are they seeing a clean, pure life committed to our Loving Lord? Are you showing them they way to Him? Are you leading them to our Loving Lord?


Job 23:10-12 (New International Version)
10 But he knows the way that I take;
when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold.
11 My feet have closely followed his steps;
I have kept to his way without turning aside.
12 I have not departed from the commands of his lips;
I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my daily bread



I Got Tagged

My blog friend Connie at Little Red Heart From God tagged me.

If you are new to blogland, this simply means that when you are tagged you have to post a blog with a list of "supposedly" interesting things about yourself then you tag others.

So here is my list...

1 - My favorite fast food place is Krystals.

2 - My elemtary school P.E. teacher was Mr. Jackson. The father of Victoria Jackson from Saturday Night Live. We called her Vicki. :-)

3 - I used to go to Vicki's house to play after school and during the summer.

4 - When I was about 11 years old I almost mowed over a big dragon in my backyard. OK...it was actually a small iquana but it looked like a large monster-sized dragon to me.

5 - My soft drink of choice is Diet Coke.

6 - My dad and my brother are both ordained ministers.

7 - My husband and son both work around airplanes. My husband for an airline and my son for a package delivery company.

8 - I have two cats, Tiger (boy) and Tigger (girl) but I don't have 8 blogland friends to tag.

So I'm not a complete party-pooper...I did make my list...So if any blogger out there reads this, and you haven't yet been tagged... I say.... "Tag! You're it! Now please go to your blog home, make your list, and pass the tag along." :-)

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Mother's Day

I previously wrote about entering the Mother's Day essay contest at MotheringHeights.net. In honor of Mother's Day, I am now sharing it here.

But first...to all mothers out there...especially my mother and my mother-in-law...I pray you have a blessed and peaceful Mother's Day.

"I'm a Mom... I Raised A Man"

I am me.

I am an individual.

I am a daughter, a daughter-in-law, a sister, a sister-in-law, an aunt, a niece, a wife, and a mother.

I am not the mother that I thought I would be.

I am not the mother that I thought I would be because before I became a mother I did not know how much being all of the above would affect how I was a mother.

I grew up in a great family with wonderful parental role models inside and outside of my home. I thought I would be a mom that used the best I learned from my parents as well as what I observed from my other role models.

I did not read every parenting book out there. I read lives that lived motherhood.

I did not try to ‘overcome’ my past by being a mother. I tried to pass on the love, respect, discipline and work ethic that I learned from my parents.

I was not perfect as a mother. Our home was not perfect. We have family problems that could not be discussed in public but I did not walk away from those problems. I used them to teach my son that problems are just speed bumps on the road of life. If you keep the right things in focus, you can work through the problems and keep the family together.

I did not, could not, would not give my son every material thing that he wanted. I found a way to be sure that he had everything he needed. I learned to bargain shop so that we could take trips when money was tight, buy new clothes without breaking the bank, and have a home and car that kept us safe and warm.

I did say what most mothers say at some point in their lives. I said “My children will never…”, “As a mother, I won’t…” and “How could that mother act like that, say that to their children? Don’t they know…”

And then my child came along and didn’t fit the mold in my mind. So I was able to understand why mothers don’t say or do certain things and why they do say and do others.

I thought my son would be book smart like me. Instead he was wise in things I don’t understand. I thought he would go to college like me. Instead he works hard and loves his job but isn’t ready for college yet.

I thought my son would follow my religion as diligently as I did. He follows our beliefs and applies them to his life values but doesn’t necessarily do what I thought he would.

I am not the mother I thought I would be. I am better and I am worse. I am better because I taught my son a few good things about finances. My son is more careful with his budget than most young adults his age. He ‘has’ a budget when most kids his age don’t. I am worse because I did not teach him ‘all’ I thought I would about things that are important to me like faith, math, reading, finances and more.

I am better because he demonstrates respect where he works and when he meets with other people. I am worse because that mutual respect is sometimes absent in our home.

I am better than I thought I would be because I have walked along side of my son through all of life’s ups and downs. I have been there when he wanted to talk, wanted guidance. And I have learned to back away when he wants to carve his own path…something very hard for someone people tend to label a ‘control freak’. I have been there as he found out who he is and have encouraged him to find and use his strengths.

I am a mother.

I raised a son.

I raised an individual.

I raised a man that can proudly say “I am me.”


Proverbs 31:28 (The Message)
Her children respect and bless her;
her husband joins in with words of praise:

Friday, May 11, 2007

Hometown Fire



Please keep my 'hometown' in your prayers. My parents and brother and sister-in-law and all of their children live in or near Columbia County, Florida. This is a current picture from there.

Right now no one in my family is in immediate danger but many people that we know could be in the path of the fires very soon. They need rain. Pray for rain for all of Florida and South Georgia.

Thanks!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Is It A Matter Of Perspective?

I entered the "Mother's Day Essay Contest 2007" at motheringheights.net. The challenge was to answer the question "Am I the mother that I thought I would be?"

As I wrote, the words just flowed out of my fingers. Writers block did not exist that day for me. So I submitted my essay well ahead of the entry deadline.

The winner was announced yesterday.

I did not win.

After I submitted the essay, I shared it with some friends that encourage my writing. One of these friends shared the essay with her sister. Her sister is a child psychologist. The child psychologist was having an Anger Management for Women Group meeting and the topic was Anger and your Children. She gave the members a copy of my essay. She said that she really liked it.

I wrote my essay to win a Mother's Day writing contest. My essay helped a child psychologist help some mothers in an anger management session right before Mother's day.

I didn't win...

Or did I?

What in your life is not going the way you hoped but going the way our Loving Lord intended? What will you release for Him to use His way today?

Isaiah 55:8 (The Message) "I don't think the way you think.
The way you work isn't the way I work." God's Decree.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Do Raindrops Smile?

I got in my car one recent morning, pressed the garage door opener, started the car then backed out of the garage.

I wasn't in a bad mood. I wasn't in an overly great mood. I was just so-so.

Then one, single, solitary raindrop landed on the passenger side of my front window.

A single drop.

It looked like the outline of a circle with a few dots inside.

It looked like ... like a ... like a smile.

God sent me a smile! Our Loving Lord sent me smile through a raindrop.

It perked me up. It made me smile. My attitude, though not bad to start with, instantly improved. I can't smile without improving my attitude when I do. What a way to start my day! How great it was to start my day with a raindrop smile from my Loving Lord!

Then as I drove the car three or four more raindrops fell right in my line of sight. And guess what?

They looked like smiles too! More raindrop smiles from my Loving Lord.

How does our Loving Lord want to reveal Himself to you? Where will you find our Loving Lord? Will you just see the 'annoying' raindrop or will you open your eyes and see the smile in the raindrop?

Deuteronomy 32 (The Message)
The Song
1-5 Listen, Heavens, I have something to tell you.
Attention, Earth, I've got a mouth full of words.
My teaching, let it fall like a gentle rain,
my words arrive like morning dew,
Like a sprinkling rain on new grass,
like spring showers on the garden.
For it's God's Name I'm preaching—
respond to the greatness of our God!
The Rock: His works are perfect,
and the way he works is fair and just;
A God you can depend upon, no exceptions,
a straight-arrow God.
His messed-up, mixed-up children, his non-children,
throw mud at him but none of it sticks.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

How Do You Pray It?

In our continuing quest to find a new church home, this past Sunday we visited a church that we had visited one time before but it had been a while since we visited this particular church.

The pastor is starting a series on prayer. To start the sermon, he had us think about five questions regarding prayer.

On a very personal level answer these questions. Don't provide the text book answer but the answer based on where you are in your personal journey. Here they are:

  1. Why do you pray?
  2. When do you pray?
  3. Where do you pray?
  4. What do you pray?
  5. How do you pray?

Did you answer them?

Since I open myself up so often when I write, why stop now? My answers were:

  1. I need to! I can't imagine surviving without having prayer available to me.
  2. Anytime at all...especially while driving alone.
  3. Anywhere...like my friend Debbie Thomas I love to pray in the shower because I know no one will interrupt me there.
  4. For absolutely anything and everything...thanksgiving, prays for healing, praise, prayers for my family, prayers for job situations, admiration of Him, finances, marriages, future, salvation of friends...
  5. Conversationally and expectantly
This preacher made a very good point before he started this series. He said that we often take "The Lord's Prayer" for granted. We rush through it, which makes it appear that we think Jesus just rattled this prayer off without so much as a thought...just like we often pray it. He reminded us that Jesus did not pull this out of his pocket on a printed and laminated card. He implied that perhaps Jesus paused as He started "Our Father" pause "who art in Heaven"...

This got me thinking about this. Thinking about the fact that it was not a prepared prayer or prepared sermon like we often use in our churches. It got me thinking about what He might have been thinking as He taught us how to model our prayers.

I'm thinking that it could have went something like this...
He needed to teach us to pray...
so He thought first, then spoke:

(How should they start) "Our Father..."
(Now put there focus on where He is) "Who art in Heaven..."
(Pause. Think. Remind them that He is holy) "Hallowed be Your name.."
(It's not about those down here it's about our Home and getting these people there.) "Thy kingdom come, ... Thy will ... be done.."
(Make the connection for them between these two worlds) "On earth...as...as... On earth as IT IS in Heaven."
(Let them know that it's cool to trust Him with their needs.) "Give us this day our daily bread"
(Forgiveness. That's why I'm even here, here and able to provide them this teaching.) "Forgive us our debts.."
(They need to forgive each other as well.) "Forgive us as we have also forgiven those we need to forgive..."
(They need to live pure lives and avoid sin.) "Lead us not into temptation but deliver us ... from evil."

Why will you pray today? When? Where? What? and How? Will you get personal with our Loving Lord? Will you avoid scripted prayer and simply communicate with our Loving Lord as a friend? Will you share with Him everything that is on your heart?


Acts 2:42 (The Message) They committed themselves to the teaching of the apostles, the life together, the common meal, and prayers.




Monday, May 07, 2007

How Kind Can You Be?





Here in the DFW metroplex today started One Million Acts of Kindness. As the website says "Join hundreds of local Churches and local radio 90.9 FM as Christians serve the DFW Metroplex with one million acts of kindness." I say why stop at the Metroplex. What would the world be like if each of us performed just one act of kindness each day, every day, no matter where we live?

To learn more about this effort, visit http://www.onedfw.com/

Do You Know?

I had an interesting thought come to me.

The thought was this...

"Those that don't know, don't know"

So what does that mean?

It means many things...

It means that those that don't know what they don't know, don't know what they don't know. For example, if I don't know know that a thingamabob exist, then I don't have a clue that I don't know what a thingamabob is? Right? I would have to have an understanding of the existence of a thingamabob to know how much or how little I know about it.

It means that those that don't know the importance of a life with our Loving Lord, don't know what they are missing.

It means that those that don't know our Loving Lord, don't know His Word. They don't know what they don't know about His peace, His love, His judgement, His offer of eternal life. It means that things that followers of our Loving Lord take for granted, are virtually unknown to those who don't follow Him.

I can't imagine someone not having the "Lord's Prayer" memorized...but those that don't know Him, may in fact not know 'it'. True? (More on the "Lord's Prayer" tomorrow)

And those that haven't grown up in church may not know what stories they don't know. They may not know that they don't know the story of baby Moses, may not be aware the story exists. They may not know they don't know the story of Esther, may not even be familiar with her name in the Word.

Those that don't know, don't know means that many people don't know the true meaning of worship even though they have been in 'church' all of their lives. If they have always only gone through the motions, followed the traditions, never let their guard down, they may not even be aware of what true worship is.

Those that don't know, don't know.

Will you ask our Loving Lord to reveal to you today what you don't know that you don't know? Will you let Him teach you? Will you let Him lead you where you don't even yet know that you need to go? Will you share with one non-believer so that they can start to know what they don't already know?

Proverbs 9:6 (New International Version)
Leave your simple ways and you will live;
walk in the way of understanding.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

100 And Still Going

According to the tally on my blog, I now have written 100 entries for Little Lessons from my Loving Lord. I'm not sure if the first few entries actually count as Little Lessons though.

So in blog-land tradition...today I am going to tell you 100 things about me and my journey thus far. Enjoy!

  1. I am so very glad I started doing this.
  2. I thank my Loving Lord for the encouragement of Tina who provided the last push to get me going.
  3. I am a Bible believing Christian.
  4. I believe that Christ is the only way to Heaven.
  5. I am married.
  6. My 25th wedding anniversary is this June.
  7. Our wedding was in Arlington TX.
  8. We have one son.
  9. I love my hubby.
  10. I love my son.
  11. I love my parents.
  12. I love my in-laws (parents, sister, brother,etc all of them).
  13. I love my one and only brother and his wife.
  14. I love my nieces and nephews.
  15. I was born in North Shore Hospital in Miami, FL.
  16. I lived in Carol City, FL until I was almost 13.
  17. I then moved to Lake City, FL.
  18. I went to Carol City Baptist Kindergarten.
  19. I went to North Glade Elementary School,1-4.
  20. I also went to Dade Christian School, 5-7.
  21. I went to Fort White Public School in 8th grade.
  22. I went to Richardson Ninth Grade Center.
  23. I went to Columbia High School North Campus, 10th.
  24. I went to and graduated from Columbia High School (south campus).
  25. I am a graduate of Gardner-Webb College.
  26. I have attended Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
  27. I have attended Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.
  28. I took a class at University of Louisville.
  29. I took a class at Community College of Beaver County (PA).
  30. I took classes at Lake City Community College (FL).
  31. I learned Sign Language in college.
  32. I interpreted church services way back then.
  33. Now I only sign for my personal worship.
  34. I can not read other people signing very well.
  35. My college major was Psychology...minor was Business Computer Programming...what a combo!
  36. I graduated without ever taking a college level English class.
  37. I 'CLEP' tested out of all required English classes.
  38. I failed my Advanced Grammar and Composition final test in high school..
  39. I still passed the class.
  40. I failed because I left out the word 'beautiful' (if you want to know the rest of the story, ask).
  41. I owe a lot of my love for and desire to write to the teacher of that class Mrs Dekle.
  42. I love math.
  43. I love reading.
  44. I love to talk.
  45. I am not shy.
  46. I play at playing the piano.
  47. I played flute in the high school band.
  48. I have two cats.
  49. I grew up with dogs, no cats.
  50. I'm a Florida State Seminole fan.
  51. I'm part of the Gator-haters of the world (sorry to all my gator friends).
  52. I love the Jacksonville Jaguars.
  53. I love the Texas Rangers.
  54. I love to watch Trinity High School football games.
  55. I like to bowl.
  56. I have bowled on leagues.
  57. I have several 200+ games.
  58. I am not a neat freak.
  59. I wish I was a neat freak.
  60. I 'file by pile' but I know where to find things.
  61. Growing up, I was in the hospital 13 times for my kidneys.
  62. In elementary school, my best girlfriends where Amy, Becky and Kathy.
  63. In high school, my best girlfriends were Rene', Karlyn, Brenda, and Theresa.
  64. I have been to Canada but not to Mexico.
  65. I am going to Mexico this summer.
  66. I love to go on cruises.
  67. I enjoyed visiting Grand Cayman on a cruise.
  68. I fulfilled a dream of visiting Puerto Rico on a cruise.
  69. Some day I want to visit Australia.
  70. I was a summer missionary in Montana.
  71. I met my husband while in Montana.
  72. I like to visit Walt Disney world in the winter but not in summer.
  73. I also like to visit the Vermont mountains in the winter, never been there in summer.
  74. I like Vermont Teddy Bears.
  75. My current favorite TV show is NCIS.
  76. My favorite TV show as a child was the Brady Bunch.
  77. I also enjoyed HeeHaw and Laugh In.
  78. I love Hillsong worship music.
  79. I love the old hymns sung with meaning.
  80. I did not learn to make biscuits from my mom or my grandmother.
  81. My great-grandmother (mom's dad's mom), my grandmother (mom's mom) and my mother were/are the best biscuit makers in the world.
  82. I love banana pudding...the real stuff.
  83. I make good peach cobbler.
  84. I don't like to drive in traffic.
  85. I don't like to make left turns without a protected left arrow.
  86. My favorite Bible verse is Philippians 4:13.
  87. Growing up I only lived in Florida.
  88. While married I have lived in Texas, Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania and back in Texas.
  89. I won third place in a DAR speech contest in high school...there were only three entrants.
  90. I sold Tastefully Simple for 5 years...my only venture into direct sales.
  91. I rarely wear makeup.
  92. I once lost over 30 pounds but I found it all and more.
  93. I drive a CRV.
  94. I love wearing blue jeans.
  95. I am not fashion conscious.
  96. I don't like liver.
  97. I love popcorn.
  98. I'm proud and glad to be an American.
  99. I'm very thankful for freedom OF religion in my country.
  100. I love my Loving Lord and can not imagine life without him.

OK...I guess that was pretty boring to most of you...but I want to honor blog-land tradition.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Will It Be You Or Someone Else?

I woke up this morning reminded of my strong desire to be published and to be a 'recognized' inspirational speaker.

Perhaps this is because I have submitted two articles to writing contests and I'm waiting to hear if anyone on those judging committees thinks that what I submitted is 'good enough' to win.

I've always loved to write and thought I was fairly good at it. I've always known there were better writers than me...like Kathy L that I worked with at US Airways.

Lately I've been reminded that I'm not the absolute best writer because I read some of the other blogs in blog-land. I continued to be amazed at the amount of talent that exists in this area of writing.

And regarding speaking.

Sometimes I can't stand the sound of my own voice. It's not as eloquent as many others. Sometimes I think I sound like a squeaking animal. It's not all bad...it's just not as polished as those that currently make their living speaking.

So I thought to myself..with all the struggling writers out there and all the educated broadcast majors out there looking for work...how will I ever fulfill what I believe is my God-given desire to actually earn income writing and speaking?

Then.

Then a special story was brought to my mind. Brought to my mind by the Holy Spirit I'm sure. I was reminded that I am not the first person to feel this way.

Moses. Remember him? God wanted him to speak for Him and Moses replied "Master, please, I don't talk well. I've never been good with words, neither before nor after you spoke to me. I stutter and stammer." (The Message) He kept going on this way until God finally said "FINE! What if I just send your brother Aaron instead? Would that be better for you? Would THAT make you happy?" (my interpretation)

I don't want to stop our Loving Lord from using me. I don't want for Him to have to send someone in my place. I want to be exactly what He wants me to be. Do exactly what He wants me to do. I want it to be me ... not a proxy for me.

What about you? What does our Loving Lord want you to do today? Are you letting Him work through you or are you suggesting He look somewhere else...look to your brother instead of you? Today will you say "Here am I, Lord, work through me?"

Exodus 4:12 (New International Version)
Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say."


Thursday, May 03, 2007

Who Will You Pray To, Pray For, And When?

Today.

Today in the United States of America.

In the United States of America, today is the National Day of Prayer.

What does that mean here in a country where we have taken prayer out of our learning institutions, our schools? What does a "National" Day of Prayer mean to us as a country? What does it mean to you?

As I have been thinking about and preparing for today, I had some interesting thoughts. Or at least they are interesting to me.

Is this just a 'church' thing? No! There is a long, rich history to our National Day of Prayer that goes all the way back to the first Continental Congress. Our founding leaders and the leaders that followed have always known that our country needs to pray and be prayed for.

And, being that we are in a country that has 'Freedom of Religion', how is this day viewed by praying members of non-Christian faiths? Do they take time on this National Day of Prayer to pray to their 'gods'? Or do they just ignore this annual event established and confirmed by our Congress? Can we as followers of our Loving Lord use this day in a positive way to be an example to those who do not follow the one true God?

Also, when we as Christians participate in the National Day of Prayer, do we 'get' the word DAY? Do we pray all DAY long? Or do we even participate at all? Or do we only participate if we find an 'event' at a local church to go to? I wonder what effect we would have on the world if we 'prayed without ceasing' today as we go through our daily routine, all DAY?

What will you pray for? Who will you pray for? I challenge you to pray for everyone you come in contact with today. Let me help you understand who that includes: You wake up to the radio blaring in your ear...pray for all those at that radio station, you turn on the TV to catch the morning news...pray for the entire news crew. Pray for them to come to know the Lord if they don't already and pray for them to share His love with their coworkers if they do. Pray for strength for them. Then when you get in your car and you are blessed to listen to a Christian station on your way to work (like 90.9 KCBI) pray for the morning crew (I'll be praying for Bill, Terri, and Sharon). When you pass by the school crossing guards that make your drive to work even longer, thank God for their faithful service to our children. When the other guy is in such a big hurry he cuts you off, pray for his safety. When you enter your building at work, pray for the security guard or receptionist. Pray for you co-workers, the servers and cooks at the diner you go to for lunch, the gas station attendant when you fill-up on the way home, the evening news crew, the coaches and parents at little league, the actors on your favorite nighttime dramas (especially pray for those actors to come to know the Lord!)...I think you get the idea.

So today on the National Day of Prayer in the USA, who will you be praying to? Will you take time to pray to the one true God? Who will you be praying for? Will you pray for all you come in contact with? And when will you be praying? Will you pray without ceasing...at least for today?

2 Chronicles 7:14 (Amplified Bible) If My people, who are called by My name, shall humble themselves, pray, seek, crave, and require of necessity My face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land.




Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Where Is Your Joy?

Recently I went to the grocery store on my way home and I was in a great mood that day. So I turned into the grocery store parking lot, just expecting to find a parking space, go in, buy what I need, come out and go home. Right as I turned into the lot, this other driver cut me off. They were driving way to fast for a parking lot and absolutely not paying attention. I avoided getting hit but boy did it change my mood. I was not in a great mood any longer. I guess you could say my joy was fleeing me.

Last night we went to the Ballpark in Arlington to see our beloved Texas Rangers take on the New York Yankees. We were excited to go to this game because, even though both teams are in last place in their respective divisions, we had won more games than them so far this season. It is a rare event when the Yankees come into The Ballpark in Arlington with a worse record than the Rangers and even rarer event when the Yankees are in last place. So we felt very good about are chances to beat them. By the middle of the 3rd inning, it was NY 6, TX 0...we were down but not out. My joy bubble was leaking but it had not burst.


By the middle of the 5th it was NY 9, TX 0...POP all joy had left the bubble.

Now I'm a "it's not over till the fat lady sings" kind of person but I was tired and I could stay and watch my team play that bad. So we left in the 6th inning. Many people stayed because the other team's rookie pitcher was pitching a no-hitter against us. If he succeeded then it would be the 2nd no hitter pitched against us this year. Also a rare event. But in the 7th inning, their pitcher pulled a hamstring and had to leave the game and give up on his no-hitter. The Yankee fans lost some of their joy at that moment but their team went on to win 10-1 so they left the Ballpark with joy anyway.

Joy.
What is it?
Where does it come from?
What affects it?

One acronym for JOY is:
Jesus first
Others second
Yourself last

Dictionary.com says joy is "the emotion of great delight or happiness caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying"

Did you see that? ... Joy is "caused by something exceptionally good". What is the most "exceptionally good" thing that we know? The answer is obviously our Loving Lord. If our Loving Lord is with us and in us all the time and if he is the 'cause' of our 'great delight' then how can we let a car cutting us off or our favorite team taking a nosedive against our biggest rival still our joy?

When life happens today, will you remember that your joy comes from our Loving Lord and not from circumstances of this world? When you meet someone today that has lost their smile, will you share your Joy with them? Will you introduce them to the Supplier of all joy?


Psalm 16:11 (Amplified Bible) You will show me the path of life;
in
Your presence is fullness of joy, at Your right hand there are
pleasures forevermore.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

What Are You Doing With The Warnings?

When I see a headline on the Internet that says something like "Twisters possible for the Plains", I tend to skip the story and think "Who wants to hear THAT?!?!?" I don't want to hear about possible storms! I want to enjoy the day! I don't want to hear about possible storms nearby nor far away.

Dear hubby on the other hand gravitates to these stories. Anything to do with any weather related event gets his attention. He not only hears the stories, he hears and heeds the warnings.

In our home, I'm known as the optimist and he is known as the pessimist. I once heard each described as "An pessimist sees the problem in every opportunity and the optimist sees the opportunity in every problem."

My optimism tends to lead me to think "Well those storms aren't forecasted for here so why worry" and his pessimism leads him to think "If the storms are there now, they are probably heading our way or at least we will get some of the spin off". So he makes preparation. He shares his concern for our safety and suggests that I get prepared as well. Sometimes he is right.

I like my view of the weather but it's not always the wise view. I worry less because of my view but I put myself at risk.

What about the storms of life?

What do you do when the storms of life are happening around you? Do you treat them like I treat the weather? Do you say "too bad that's happening over there, I'm sure glad it's not in my backyard"? Do you worry less and put yourself at risk?

Or do you treat the storms of life like dear hubby treats the weather? Do you make preparation in case the storm hits your home? Are you well grounded and prepared for the storm before it even has a chance to make it to your home?

When another family experiences divorce, do you say "Glad it's them and not me" or do you say "What do I need to do in my home to prevent that from happening to us"?

When you hear of someone facing bankruptcy, do you say "Too bad they never learned to manage money" or do you say "Let's go over our budget to ensure we haven't missed anything that can lead us there too"?

When a friend finds out they have an illness that could have been prevented through diet and exercise, do you say "Serves them right for not taking care of themselves" or do you ask yourself "Am I eating and exercising properly"?

When someone you love leaves the Church for the world, do you say "I always knew they were a phoney and a fake" or do you ask yourself "How could I have not known what they were going through? What do I need to do to ensure my walk is solid and to reach out to others who may be weak"?

What will you do today to prepare for the potential storms in and around your life? Will you choose today to be proactive in your approach to storm preparation?

Check out Acts 27:13-26 for a great story on going through a storm.
Proverbs 10:25 (New International Version) When the storm has swept by, the wicked are gone, but the righteous stand firm forever.