Thursday, December 26, 2013

New Beginning

"Let go of yesterday. Let today be a new beginning and be the best that you can, and you'll get to where God wants you to be."

- Joel Osteen 

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

The Gifts of the Magi

I know many Christian families who use the gifts of the magi as models for giving to their children. To represent myrrh - personal hygiene items (we usually give the kids new toothbrushes in their stockings); for frankincense, an item to further their spiritual walk such as a devotional book; and then the gold gift, which our family represents by wrapping this one in gold paper: the gold gift is an item the kids really want: a video game, bike, doll, etc. How does your family integrate Jesus into this holiday?  


Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem,
Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.
When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.
And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born.
And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet,
And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel.
Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, enquired of them diligently what time the star appeared.
And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also.
When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was.
When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.
And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense and myrrh.
And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way.

Matthew 2:1-12

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The Birth Story

My children love this story - and know it well. My seven-year-old has been paraphrasing it since she was four, but she still asks us to find it in the Bible and read it to her every Christmas.


And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed.
(And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)
And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.
And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)
To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.
And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.
And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.
And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.
And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.
And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.
But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.
And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.

Luke 2:1-20 KJV

Monday, December 23, 2013

People Will Not Endure Sound Teaching

For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions,

2 Timothy 4:3

Sunday, November 24, 2013

A Picture in Words #wordle #WordCloud

Dear Readers,

During the month of November, I have the custom of posting my daily gratitudes on Facebook. I will share some of them with you next weekend, but for today - here is a word cloud of some of the most common words I have used in the past few months on my blog: 

I hope you will all have a peaceful Thanksgiving this year. I would love to hear something YOU are thankful for today.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

KJV Only movement? Is the King James Version the only Bible we should use?

For a long time after leaving the FOC, I was afraid to attend another church, having been told on numerous occasions that attending no church at all was preferable to going to one of those "worldly churches" who practiced false religion among other heresies. I was also afraid to read the Bible - connecting much of it with fear of hell-fire and damnation. After nearly six years, I became a born-again believer and began reading the New International Version of the Bible - I really needed to a fresh perspective. To this day, King James scriptures bring back the fear and intimidation I associate with the FOC.

But, some of my relatives were upset with my choice of Bible, stating that it was a heresy to change scripture. I didn't buy it because, obviously, Jesus didn't speak in the King's English and the Bible wasn't written in any form of English. It's all a translation. The article below addresses the KJV only beliefs of so many English-speaking Christians to this day.

* * * *
by S. Michael Houdmann 

Many people have strong and serious objections to the translation methods and textual basis for the new translations and therefore take a strong stance in favor of the King James Version. Others are equally convinced that the newer translations are an improvement over the KJV in their textual basis and translation methodology. does not want to limit its ministry to those of the "KJV Only" persuasion. Nor do we want to limit ourselves to those who prefer the NIV, NAS, NKJV, etc. Note - the purpose of this article is not to argue against the use of the King James Version. Rather, the focus of this article is to contend with the idea that the King James Version is the only Bible English speakers should use.

The KJV Only movement claims its loyalty to be to the Textus Receptus, a Greek New Testament manuscript compilation completed in the 1500s. To varying degrees, KJV Only advocates argue that God guided Erasmus (the compiler of the Textus Receptus) to come up with a Greek text that is perfectly identical to what was originally written by the biblical authors. However, upon further examination, it can be seen that KJV Only advocates are not loyal to the Textus Receptus, but rather only to the KJV itself. The New Testament of the New King James Version is based on the Textus Receptus, just as the KJV is. Yet, KJV Only advocates label the NKJV just as heretical as they do the NIV, NAS, etc.

Beyond the NKJV, other attempts have been made to make minimal updates to the KJV, only "modernizing" the archaic language, while using the exact same Greek and Hebrew manuscripts. These attempts are rejected nearly as strongly as the NKJV and the other newer Bible translations. This proves that KJV Only advocates are loyal to the King James Version itself, not to the Textus Receptus. KJV Only advocates have no desire or plan to update the KJV in any way. The KJV certainly contains English that is outdated, archaic, and sometimes confusing to modern English speakers and readers. It would be fairly simple to publish an updated KJV with the archaic words and phrases updated into modern 21st century English. However, any attempt to edit the KJV in any way results in accusations from KJV Only advocates of heresy and perversion of the Word of God.

When the Bible is translated for the first time into a new language today, it is translated into the language that culture speaks and writes today, not the way they spoke and wrote 400 years ago. The same should be true in English. The Bible was written in the common, ordinary language of the people at that time. Bible translations today should be the same. That is why Bible translations must be updated and revised as languages develop and change. The KJV Only movement is very English-focused in its thinking. Why should people who read English be forced to read the Bible in outdated/archaic English, while people of all other languages can read the Bible in modern/current forms of their languages?

Our loyalties are to the original manuscripts of the Old and New Testaments, written in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. Only the original languages are the Word of God as He inspired it. A translation is only an attempt to take what is said in one language and communicate it in another. The modern translations are superb in taking the meaning of the original languages and communicating it in a way that we can understand in English. However, none of the modern translations are perfect. Every one contains verses that are at least somewhat mistranslated. By comparing and contrasting several different translations, it is often easier to get a good grasp on what the verse is saying than by only using one translation. Our loyalty should not be to any one English translation, but to the inspired, inerrant Word of God that is communicated by the Holy Spirit through the translations (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

This article was reprinted with permission and was originally published on 

Sunday, November 10, 2013

What Does the Tea Party (TCOT) Have in Common With the Church?

We're stronger together - but apparently humans just can't stay united behind a cause. I'm certainly not a member of the Tea Party - though I mutually follow many of these folks on twitter. Apparently they're losing influence because of factions. Sounds like the Christian church - so many pet religions: Methodist, Pentecostal, Baptist, And that doesn't even include those far-outside-the-norm factions: Mormons and the other door-knockers, the Jehovah's Witnesses. 

How can the Gospel be interpreted so differently by so many? Imagine how influential Christians could be if we were all united!

The Followers of Christ are similar in this regard. I'm not talking about all the in-fighting and disagreements over doctrine (such that there is - watered down and handed down and altered to fit the most influential / bullies). I'm talking about the different FOC churches. The four Idaho FOC churches, which do not get along with each other. The Oregon City FOC, which believes it is the only group of true believers and that the Idaho groups are worse than worldly people. 

As far as I know the sister religion, The Church of the Firstborn, is far more accepting of both newcomers and other COFB believers.

This week, I heard a rumor that another Oregon City FOC baby had died - last name of Eells. Turns out that baby was from one of the Idaho groups - a large portion of which have the same surnames as the Oregon City group. Relatives who haven't spoken in lifetimes.

What are the effects of the divisions and fractures in groups, faiths, even political parties? Are we stronger together? How can so many people think differently from each other and still be convinced all others are wrong?

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Praying for Oregon City

I was planning to write a post about thankfulness today. But I've been seeing posts from Facebook friends about the day's events in Oregon City. 

A policeman was shot in the face when responding to a house fire, neighbors were evacuated, and residents received reverse 9-1-1 calls instructing them to stay inside.

So, to anyone who reads this message: please pray for the safety of the residents of Oregon City.

To read more about this story, you can follow this link: Oregon City Officer Shot.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Undiagnosed #Autism and #Aspergers - I am NOT concerned

Have you seen these stats being passed around social media sites? I have, but I'm not as concerned as some. Let me explain.

I doubt that the statistics for autism have risen as drastically as many claim. I say this because there are millions of adults who have high-functioning autism (known as Asperger's Syndrome) who were never diagnosed as kids. That's because the awareness of this was not known. In fact, Asperger's Syndrome was not added to the DSM until 1994. Now, Asperger's has been removed and falls under the umbrella of autism. 

Do you know an adult who is odd? Rude without meaning to be? Blurts things out inappropriately? Someone who seems to alienate people and has no clue as to why? Someone who can't stand certain noises, textures, wearing socks, etc.? Chances are you know plenty of people with undiagnosed autism.

The majority of people with Asperger's Syndrome are brilliant, talented, and highly knowledgeable. You will find them working as engineers or other specialists where brains count more than social skills.

I am concerned about America's unhealthy foods, GMOs, I am concerned about obese and sedentary children, food allergies, and asthma. I am concerned about the severe form of autism. But about the increase in the diagnoses of autism? I am not concerned. I am thrilled that we are able to recognize this and help those affected.

I am relieved that someone who is different, odd, or socially inept can be helped and acknowledged. How great to give this constant struggle an actual diagnoses.

For so many of the adults who grew up living with parents and teachers and peers who called them names and blamed them for things they could not control. For all the isolation and self-hatred this has engendered in them. I am thankful for the increase in diagnoses.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

What Does It Mean to Have Scales Over The Eyes?

They have not known nor understood: for he hath shut their eyes, that they cannot see; and their hearts, that they cannot understand.

Isaiah 44:18

Have you ever known someone who could deny facts even when faced with clear and undeniable proof? Yep, me too. Plenty of them.

When I came across the verse in Isaiah 44, about twelve years ago, I highlighted it in my Bible and wrote in the margins: this was me! And it was. For so many years - even after leaving the FOC - I believed they were God's only chosen people. Now I know that is obviously untrue. But I'm not so distantly removed to forget how anyone could think that way.

In the New Testament, the scales fell from the Apostle Paul's eyes in the eighteenth verse of Acts 9:

And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized.

Acts 9:18

Did you know that all snakes have scales covering their eyes? They're designed that way for protection, since they lack eyelids.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

A Little Ugly Truth About My Book and Blog

I started blogging over two years ago and, until this past week, haven't missed a week. It's been two weeks since I posted a blog and that one a guest blog. The week before was a republished article.

The truth is, I'm just not feeling it these days. I finished my book a year ago and haven't touched it since. So, it's not exactly finished-finished. It was finished enough to pass as an MFA thesis. It was approved by much better writers than me. It went through professional edits. But, it isn't in the condition I want it to be.

And all that kind-of stinks because I have an agent waiting to read my book - and I don't want to hand it over. I want to fix dozens of things (yes, I have a list) and add several scenes. But, without the 30 pages/month requirements I once had, writing tends to fall to the bottom of my to-do list.

I'm letting my dreams slip away. It's depressing and overwhelming and even embarrassing.

Most people have long since stopped asking me about my book. So, in case anyone out there is wondering: my book hasn't changed in a year. It's sort-of finished. Good enough to earn a terminal degree and qualify me to teach undergraduates. But not good enough to show the world.

And that ties in with this blog - I won't publish excerpts of my book here because that's a rip off to anyone who eventually reads the book. 

And I'm a bit weary of writing about the Followers. Honestly, they bore me. What's left to say? I'm tired of hearing from community members (and current members) about them sneaking their children (and themselves) to medical clinics. Good for them for doing the right thing. Bad for them for being too chicken to admit it. We're all hypocrites in some way, I suppose.

I'll write something next Sunday. Probably.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Garth Young: Are You Good Enough?

A guest blog, by Garth Young.

If you could communicate something to those you care about most before you die what would it be? Surely there must be something important you’ve learned that’s worthy of passing on to the next generation—something that’s meaningful and valuable. What would you say is most important? What would your story be about?

Having been brought up in the Oregon City Followers of Christ group, I was taught mainly with stories. These weren’t stories that would point to the gospel but mostly stories from within the group about healings, miracles, things Walter had said, things the elders had taught and how the FOC in Idaho was wrong, etc. The stories were mixed with biblical directives but always pointed to the group in Oregon City as being a special place, the place to be for a chance at salvation—if you were good enough. The following story is one of many that haven’t left my memory after all these years (probably because it seems to be at the core of FOC theology).

I must have been in my late teens when this older man lay sick on his deathbed. As far as I know this man had always been a church member, he was a father and husband, and the son of an elder. From my teenage perspective, he was the kind of man that should be able to speak of real hope and wisdom. As he lay there in a room with his brothers by his side he said this: “I’ve never been drunk, I’ve never committed adultery, I’ve never killed anyone, and I think I’ve got a real good chance of going to heaven.” The brothers all seemed to be in agreement that their brother was on good ground because of his own record. As the story was retold to me at home by one of the brothers of the sick man, he built upon the story with his own comment: “Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you could say the same things before you die?”

Somehow this story affected me. As I recall the impact of this and other stories there is a realization that I liked stories like this because they fed my misguided notion of being spiritually advantaged because there was something good in me and something extra-special about my church. Having a head start on everyone else in the world outside of my group, now I just needed to earn salvation, so I listened for the instructions of going to heaven. When I messed up in my pursuit of being righteous, I would simply start over, and I started over a lot. Even when I could control the words and actions, there were the thoughts to deal with everyday. With this heavy task of self-achieved righteousness ahead, questions often arose in my mind about real hope, purpose and happiness. I continually wrestled with that deathbed story.

What the dying man said sounds right if you read the scriptures merely as a compendium of instructions. But if you read the story in the scriptures and see the hero of the story, it’s shocking. There is no place or people group that can save me and I can’t be good enough to make myself right with God. But there is one story that can bring light out of darkness, it’s a story of the innocent dying for the guilty, the strong standing in place of the helpless, the righteous one suffering and dying for the unrighteous -- that is the good news. If it doesn’t shock you then you haven’t really heard it. If the story of Jesus doesn’t rattle your very core and change you, it will become an offense that forces you to stand upon your own record.

And on the last day, when it matters most, your own record will be contrasted against Jesus’ perfect one and then you’ll see there has ever only been One who was good enough to earn salvation. Will He be your Hero?

Sunday, September 22, 2013

What does it mean to be filled with the Holy Spirit?

An important portion of Scripture that refers to the filling of the Holy Spirit is Ephesians 5:17-21:

Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.

In these verses being filled with the Spirit is contrasted with being filled or drunk with wine. The idea is one of being controlled by God's Spirit rather than by other forces. When we are filled by the Spirit, we see a resultant attitude of joy and thanksgiving. We also see a relational posture of humility toward God and of submission to one another.

So how can a person be filled with the Holy Spirit? To be clear, there is an important difference between the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and the filling of the Holy Spirit. All believers in Jesus Christ have God's Spirit living within them, or dwelling within them (John 14:16,Ephesians 1:13,2 Corinthians 1:22,Ephesians 4:30); but not all believers live filled or controlled by the Spirit's power. Some Christians describe this distinction by saying believers have all of the Holy Spirit but the Holy Spirit may not have all of them. We are indwelt by the Holy Spirit at the time of our salvation but we are filled by Him when we submit to Him.

The filling of the Holy Spirit, then, can vary in the life of each believer. Negatively, a believer in Christ can "quench" or "grieve" the Holy Spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:19;Ephesians 4:30). Sinful actions can hinder the work of God's Spirit in his or her life. In contrast, when a believer in Christ lives in obedience to God's will and commands, he or she should expect to see God's Spirit living through them.

Some suggest that the filling of the Holy Spirit is an emotional experience that takes place at certain moments, but the concept of "filling" in Scripture is one of being controlled or influenced by the Holy Spirit. At times living a Spirit-filled life may include emotional or mountain-top experiences. But the idea of being filled by the Spirit is more about an ongoing sense of God's Spirit working in a person's life, not a one-time experience. As the believer lives out his or her faith in Christ, the Holy Spirit increasingly controls or fills his or her life; this leads to joy, thankfulness, and right relationships.

This article was reprinted with permission, and first appeared at

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Next Sunday: another guest blog by former FOC member, Garth Young.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

What Makes Us Different? #BeingAChristian #FaithHealing

I am called stupid and blind; ignorant and closed-minded for believing that the Bible is true and Jesus is real. And yet I believe. I have faith that God is real. 

When someone is sick or hurting, I pray. I don't know what happens to my prayers. I don't know if they're heard anymore. What has happened to faith healing? Does it happen anymore? I have no doubt that it occurred in the past. What makes us, as believers and followers of Jesus, different?

* * * *

Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have I give thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk.

And he took him by the right hand, and lifted him up: and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength.

And he leaping up stood, and walked, and entered with them into the temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God.

Acts 3:6-8

* * * * *

Dear Readers: have you experienced miraculous faith healing in your life or your family?

Sunday, September 8, 2013

The 10 Commandments of the #Kissers #Myths

When I was a senior in high school (1990-1991 school year), some worldly boys created a pamphlet titled, "The Ten Commandments of the Kissers." During lunch one day, they distributed these pamphlets around the cafeteria. I never saw the document, but I heard about its contents - including some indecent drawings. Here are a couple of the myths that circulated when I was in the group about Follower practices:

  1. "You have to marry your cousin." In truth, that is not a requirement, but if the group continues, there may eventually be no other options. The group does allow second cousins to marry (this is legal in Oregon, while many states allow first cousins to marry) - and some do choose a second or third cousin.  
  2. "Everyone gets a free car on their 16th birthday." I thought this was a funny one. Most of the boys worked hard and saved up to buy a nice car when they turned sixteen. Therefore, most of the teens from our group had nice cars. Someone started a rumor that there was a lot of cars in the back parking lot of the church and when a kid turned sixteen, they got to take their pick.
There were far more rumors - but many are too risque (and also untrue) to reprint.

Readers: do you have any "myths" to share? Share them in the comments and see if other readers say they're true or false.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

What's with you people in Oregon? Is there something in the water?

I've been getting questions from people in other parts of the country this week about another national news story involving faith healing here in Oregon. Parents, Travis and Wenona Rossiter, members of the Church of the Firstborn, are in prison after their daughter, Syble, died from diabetes. The couple used prayer to treat her, rather than seek medical care. You can read more about their story here.

So, the questions are coming in - what's up with Oregon? Faith healing does not only occur here in Oregon. The national stories coming out in the past fourteen years may indicate this is a new phenomenon here, but it is not. Walking through the Followers of Christ private cemetery, there are countless children who died before the late 1990s, but there was nothing authorities could do about it because faith healing was protected here in Oregon at that time. It was only in the last fourteen or so years that laws have been changing to protect these children.

For those who have been reading this blog since its inception, this will not be news, but the two church groups who make the news here in Oregon are actually related. The Church of the Firstborn and the Followers of Christ are splinter groups. 

In February 2012, Darren Russell, an active member of the Church of the Firstborn, wrote about the history of the groups: Monikers of Our Faith and What's in a Name?  

Darren has written several interesting guest blogs about church history and faith healing here. Two of his more controversial blogs were: Why I Choose Not to Use Physicians and his follow up story Why I Choose Not to Use Physicians, Part 2.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Day 31: Old, Boring 50: A New #Bucket List

  1. Travel – when I was eighteen, I wrote a bucket list of places I wanted to go in the world - that seemed like a totally unattainable goal. But less than ten years later, had gone almost everywhere on that list (and a lot of places that were not on the list). Here are a few places I still hope to see in my lifetime: New York City, Washington, DC, The Great Wall of China, Japan, Jerusalem, and Mexico.
  2. Publish – get a book published.
  3. Learn – to cook new dishes, dance new dances, paint beautiful pictures, and make quilts. I have a lot of academic knowledge; I’m ready to learn some fun stuff.

Wow – my list is short (but dense!). Any suggestions?

Friday, August 30, 2013

Day 30. A letter to yourself, tell yourself EVERYTHING you love about yourself.

August 30, 2013

Dear Suzi,

You’re a good mom. You always put your kids’ needs before your own. You’re a good friend and willing to give more than you get (or expect) in return. You love your parents and siblings. You adore and respect your husband. You spend your days helping young adults improve their lives.

You stand up for what’s right. You’re brave.



PS It was difficult to write such a conceited blog post. Please leave a comment about something (or everything) you love about yourself so I don’t feel like such a narcissist!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Day 29. Something you hope to change about yourself. And why.

I hope to get more organized (see day #1) so I can live more peacefully and find things when I need them. This was an easy day.

What’s something you want to change about yourself? 


Do you have a handy tip or helpful hint on getting more organized?

Please share…

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Day 28. What if you were #pregnant or got someone pregnant, what would you do?

I would be thrilled if I were pregnant. I’m not expecting to have more children at the ripe old age of 40, but I would welcome one if God blessed our family this way.

I love babies. I love being pregnant. I love nursing and cuddling my babies. I miss those days. So, while it’s nice that my children are all school aged, another one would be fabulous.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Day 27. What’s the best thing going for you right now? #blessings

I’m gonna blow this by having more than one “best” thing. I can’t help it. Life is good!

I’m very blessed with an amazing family: a loving husband, awesome kids, supportive parents – and that’s just my immediate family! I also appreciate my siblings, nieces, nephews, and grandnephews. So much love!

I’m also very grateful for the new job I started this week as a school reading specialist.  I spent the past two years as an adjunct writing professor – a job I absolutely loved. But the new job brings full time income and health insurance – wow, what a luxury. But the best benefit is that my children attend the same school, so I can help provide for my family without being away from them.

Your turn: life can be full of disappointments and stress – but what is the best thing you’ve got going for you right now?

Monday, August 26, 2013

Day 26. Have you ever thought about giving up on life? If so, when and why? #suicide

Never seriously. I have had some dark days – the most pronounced when I experienced two miscarriages in just a few months’ time (I wrote about that experience in May in the blog post titled “Lost Babies”).

I could never consider ending my own life primarily because my children need their mother and I wouldn’t / couldn’t abandon them. Secondarily, and not incidentally, I have a serious and sometimes debilitating fear of Hell, and would expect an expedient and irreversible one-way pass to H-E-Double Hockey Sticks if I were to make that choice. Please understand that I’m not judging others or stating what I think anyone else’s final fates / destination to be. I also wrote about this subject in January in the blog post title “Thou Shalt Not Kill Thyself”.

Have YOU ever considered giving up?

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Day 25. The reason you believe you’re still alive today.

I’m often shocked that I AM alive. I’ve taken enough chances to not be. I bungeed jumped at age nineteen – what was I thinking? That was terrifying. I’ve travelled all over four continents ignoring the advice to get inoculated against serious diseases. Twice, I’ve survived an unwanted game of Russian Roulette at a range of about four feet. I’ve ridden on broken-down rickety airplanes and as a passenger with irresponsible drivers. I’ve been in a few serious car crashes (cars were totaled). I’ve nearly been hit by numerous semi-trucks, pickups, etc.  

I believe I’m alive because I have unfinished business. The most pressing of which is raising my children to be successful, god-fearing, productive members of society.

While I’m alive I hope that God will entrust me with meaningful tasks of service, encouragement, etc.

Readers: why do you believe you’re still alive?

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Day 24. Make a playlist to someone; #songs for my #daughter

This playlist is dedicated to my daughter.

This One’s For the Girls, by Martina McBride

I chose this song as an encouragement for you as you grow up and go through all the stages of being female. You have a much harder road to navigate as a young lady, but God only gives us what we can handle and you are strong.

You’re Gonna Miss This, by Trace Adkins

Because I already miss you at younger ages and I see you growing up so fast – in such a hurry to be a big girl. And then, someday, you’ll look back and miss the carefree days of childhood, too.

A Mother’s Prayer, by Celine Dion

Because I want you to walk with God and in His protection.

Butterfly Kisses, by Bob Carlisle
I’ll never forget yours. I miss them.

Brave, by Sara Bareilles

You are already a brave little girl. You stand up for what’s right. I just pray that you never let the bullies of this world silence you. Keep doing what is right. Stand up for yourself and others. I know you will.

This list could go on and will continue to grow as you do. xo

Friday, August 23, 2013

Day 23. Something you wish you had done in your life.

I wish I had invested in real estate. Houses were so much more affordable twenty years ago. And it would be great to have the financial security of rental houses now when my kids are growing up and in several years when they will need help funding their college education. It would also be great to be able to give them a starter home as a wedding gift.

Ah, hindsight.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Day 22. Something you wish you hadn’t done in your life. #regret

“Some people say they wouldn't change a thing but I would.”
Kenny Chesney

I wish I hadn’t made a lot of the mistakes I’ve made. I wish I were smart enough to learn from the mistakes of others. I wasn’t. I pray my children will be wiser than I was. But, since this is just a singular question (something), I will answer it with a single event: I wish I hadn’t quit the full time teaching job I had four years ago. I did it on impulse thinking there were plenty more opportunities for an experienced teacher. Unfortunately, my decision coincided with a bad economy and massive teacher layoffs. So my family lost a lot of income while I worked as a part-time instructor with no benefits.

While it wasn’t the wisest decision, blessings came out of it. I learned a lot. I spent a lot of time volunteering in my children’s classrooms. I picked up another master’s degree (yeah, and a lot more student loan debt – so maybe that wasn’t the best decision either).

Join me in this tough truth challenge, please: what’s something you regret or wish you hadn’t done?

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Day 21. Your best friend is in a car accident and you two got into a fight an hour before. What do you do?

I drive to the hospital praying like crazy. I sit by her bedside holding her hand and pray. If she doesn’t make it, I spend the rest of my life regretting our fight. If she does make, it I spend the rest of my life making sure to be a good friend to her.

Either way, I learn to be kinder, gentler, more loving with people. I try to resolve conflicts calmly and fairly. I am a better person for having gone through so much guilt and sadness.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Day 20. Your views on #drugs and #alcohol.

Drugs are bad, don’t do them. Alcohol can become an addiction very easily. Alcohol often gives us license to sin. We blame it on the alcohol. Well, here's a simple solution - don't drink more than you can handle. One drink is plenty. None is better.

If it doesn't cause problems with others (those who are recovering alcoholics or folks who believe any amount of alcohol consumption is sinful), I think an occasional drink, in the safety of your home, is fine as long as it stays occasional.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Day 19. What do you think of #religion ? Or what do you think of #politics ? #Christian #Democrat

I think religion has been misused as a way to control people. I believe in the Bible and I believe in having a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ. I am a born-again Christian. That is my religion.

Politically, I am a Democrat. That doesn’t mean I support abortion (I don’t). It means that I support education and helping people who need it. I want to keep assault weapons out of the general population, because keeping innocent people (children) safe is more important to me than the perceived rights of the NRA.

I also think that religion and politics are too-often intermingled. I have heard people in church loudly support the Republican Party, under the apparent assumption that all Christians are Republicans. That doesn’t compute with me.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Day 18. Your views on gay marriage

I believe in separation of church and state. I personally believe that the Bible is true and accurate; however, I do not believe I can or should impose my beliefs on others. It’s a dangerous road to try to mix religion and politics, because the possibility will always exist that someday it won’t be YOUR belief system directing those laws and policies.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Day 17. A book you’ve read that changed your views on something. #LeftBehind

The Left Behind Series, by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins. I know the series is not gospel, but it certainly unpacked the Book of Revelation for me. I had been warned against even reading Revelation as a young adult. Reading the Left Behind series really make the prophesies real for me (and millions of other readers, I’m sure).

How would you answer this question: what book has changed your views on something?

Friday, August 16, 2013

Day 16. Someone or something you definitely could live without #rejection #shunning

There are plenty of “someones” I can live without. I realized that when I was eighteen years old and nearly 100% of the someones I was “permitted” to associate with really wanted little or nothing to do with me. I discovered it again when, at age twenty-one, I married outside the FOC, and everyone I had known or loved up to that point shunned me.

So, to answer this question, let me just say this: I can live without ANYONE who would shun me or cut me out of their life. That’s it. And guess what? As much as I want people in my life, I’m not going to cry myself to sleep over people who clearly despise and hate me.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Day 15. Something or someone you couldn’t live without, because you’ve tried living without it

Peace: the kind that comes from living a life that aligns with my beliefs. We cannot live at odds with our beliefs. We either change our beliefs or change our actions. Too often, it is the former that is chosen. Or simply trying to sleepwalk through our days without examining how our lives are aligning with our actions.

How would you answer today’s truth challenge? What (or whom) can you just not live without?

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Day 14. A hero who has let you down

Michael Jackson. Okay, I know that’s a weird answer, considering that on yesterday’s truth blog I said I didn’t have any favorite artists. But, I had a favorite singer back in fifth grade: MJ. His was the first music video I ever saw (Thriller). I thought he was so cute. I loved watching him perform with his red leather jacket (my mom bought me a vinyl knock off of it that I proudly wore), his single white glove, his moon walk.

And then he just got weird with all his plastic surgery and the accusations of child sex abuse. I don’t know if those accusations were true, but I do remember seeing him in an interview talking about having sleepovers with other people’s children (same bed). He was just really odd.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Day 13. A band or artist that has gotten you through some tough days #music #hardtimes

As I wrote yesterday, I was born without musical talent. I do enjoy both kinds of music (country and western), and Christian worship music (both the old hymns and contemporary worship music). That being said, I don’t really have a “music saved my life/soul/etc.” type of story to tell.

The closest I can come to answering this question is to say that when I am in a bad mood: feeling down, overwhelmed, etc. I have regularly been uplifted by listening to worship music at home while doing chores, or in my car while stuck in traffic.

Okay, readers: I’ll bet you can all give a better answer than mine! What band or artist has helped you through tough times?

Monday, August 12, 2013

Day 12. Something you never get compliments on #cantsing #tonedeaf

Oh, thank goodness. A chance to be light-hearted!

I never get compliments on my voice. I sang to my oldest child daily when he was a baby. And then, when he was about three years old, I was belting one out in the car when I looked in the rear-view mirror and saw him holding his pudgy little hands over his ears. Uh, oh. The kid had a better sense of tone than I did. Now, if either of my children hear me singing, they beg: “Mommy, please stop!”

My dad was always singing when I was growing up – he still does it sometimes. I loved hearing his voice and I still remember the words to the old songs he would sing to us.

My parents put me through private piano and violin lessons as a child, but I could never accurately tune my violin. The only way I could play semi-accurately was by using guide stickers for my fingers. I just have no musical abilities or talent.

Your turn: Is there something you NEVER get compliments on?

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Day 11. Something people seem to compliment you the most on

I get complimented on my outgoing disposition. People say I’m fearless. I think this is cool, because I used to be very introverted. I remember a teacher talking to me in the hallway at school when I was in fifth grade, and I was so mortified to be put on the spot that I ran into the bathroom in tears.

When I left the FOC and started trying out new churches, I was afraid of people talking to me. I certainly didn’t start conversations.

The first time I had to give a speech in college? I stood in front of the class shaking and speechless. Now, and for the past ten years, I lecture and speak to groups of people on a regular basis.

Regular exposure, practice, and determination have changed my previous awkward wallflower personality into a person who loves public speaking, meeting new people, and trying new things.