Monday, May 30, 2011

24 years!

Happy Anniversary!!!!!!!!!
I love you!!!!

Memorial Day: Don't Forget to Remember

Today is Memorial Day.
This day is so very special to me...
My dad was in the military...and I thank God for him every day
He was one of many...who fought for me...
Most military men and women have no clue who I am...and never will...
But I am so grateful to each and every one of them...
For sacrificing their today...to give me my tomorrow...
There are so many military men and women who may never get a tomorrow...
But they fight to give tomorrow to us.
Today is about remembering those who never got to come home...
We can't forget...

Memorial Day
by Michelle R. Keim

As we stand here looking
At the flags upon these graves
Know these flags represent
A few of the true American brave

They fought for their Country
As man has through all of time
Except that these soldiers lying here
Fought for your country and mine

As we all are gathered here
To pay them our respect
Let’s pass this word to others
It's what they would expect

I'm sure that they would do it
If it were me or you
To show we did not die in vein
But for the red, white and blue.

Let’s pass on to our children
And to those who never knew
What these soldiers died for
It's the least we can do

Let’s not forget their families
Great pain they had to bear
Losing a son, father or husband
They need to know we still care

No matter which war was fought
On the day that they died
I stand here looking at these flags
Filled with American pride.

So as the bugler plays out Taps
With its sweet and eerie sound
Pray for these soldiers lying here
In this sacred, hallowed ground.

Take home with you a sense of pride
You were here Memorial Day.
Celebrating the way Americans should
On this solemnest of days.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

USMC

Special thanks to the United States Marine Corps. I'm grateful for everyone in every branch of the military...but just because my dad is a marine...I've got a soft spot for the USMC. 
I had to share this poem I found...it made me cry...
This is a poem being sent from a Marine to his Dad.
For those who take the time to read it, you'll see a letter from him to his Dad at the bottom. It makes you truly thankful for not only the Marines, but ALL of our troops.

THE MARINE
By: Corporal Aaron M. Gilbert, US Marine Corps
USS SAIPAN, PERSIAN GULF

We all came together,
Both young and old
To fight for our freedom,
To stand and be bold.

In the midst of all evil,
We stand our ground,
And we protect our country
From all terror around.
Peace and not war,
Is what some people say.
But I'll give my life,
So you can live the American way.
I give you the right
To talk of your peace.
To stand in your groups,
and protest in our streets.

But still I fight on,
I don't bitch, I don't whine.
I'm just one of the people
Who is doing your time.
I'm harder than nails,
Stronger than any machine.
I'm the immortal soldier,
I'm a U.S. MARINE!

So stand in my shoes,
And leave from your home.
Fight for the people who hate you,
With the protests they've shown.

Fight for the stranger,
Fight for the young.
So they all may have,
The greatest freedom you've won.

Fight for the sick,
Fight for the poor
Fight for the cripple,
Who lives next door.

But when your time comes,
Do what I've done.
For if you stand up for freedom,
You'll stand when the fight's done.

March 23, 2003

Hey Dad,
Do me a favor and label this "The Marine" and send it to everybody on your email list. Even leave this letter in it. I want this rolling all over the US; I want every home reading it. Every eye seeing it. And every heart to feel it. So can you please send this for me? I would but my email time isn't that long and I don't have much time anyway. You know what Dad? I wondered what it would be like to truly understand what JFK said in His inaugural speech.

Remembering Vietnam

Remembering Vietnam is very important to me...as Memorial Day approaches on Monday, I wanted to take the time to remember Vietnam and all those who served...including my dad.

REMEMBER ME
by Esther B. (Campbell) Gates


This long black wall is somber, true.
Name after name of those who died for you,
And as I sit and weep beneath a tree
I hear them scream, 'REMEMBER ME'.

I touch the granite stone. It's cold.
Their average age was but twenty years old.
They hardly left their mother's knee!
"Remember me. PLEASE, remember me".

Vietnam was so very far away.
Their call was duty, not for play.
Our country had a pledge to keep.
They answered it. We stayed to weep.

I reach to touch each name I can.
Some left, a boy; returned a man.
The others are upon this wall I see
I hear them whisper, "Remember me".



Thank you to all who fought in Vietnam

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

One Ordinary Person

Sunday night...it was...extraordinary, life-changing, inspiring, convicting, terrifying, wonderful, exciting...the list goes on. Sunday, Pastor Bill Wilson from Metro Ministries visited C4.
"Metro Ministries is a Christian, non-profit organization dedicated to serving inner-city children throughout New York City and various urban centers around the world. For almost 30 years, Founder and Senior Pastor Bill Wilson has worked to rescue hurting children and offer a message of salvation and love that encourages them to stay in school and away from gangs and other destructive or criminal behaviors so common in inner-city environments. With headquarters in the heart of Brooklyn, NY, Metro Ministries currently operates programs at more than 200 sites in New York City, as well as in the Philippines, Romania, and South Africa. Metro Ministries is currently the world's largest Sunday School serving more than 42,000 children with Sunday School services, child sponsorship, special programs and personal home visits on a weekly basis."

It was wonderful to hear about the work that Pastor Bill Wilson and so many others are doing to see that the gospel goes forth where it might not have gone before. It brought me to tears to see children finally realize that they are loved and that there is hope...even for someone who comes from the streets...God is so good. It's out of Metro Ministries that Sidewalk Sunday School exists...I believe I mentioned it a few weeks back but C4 is partnering with SSS to reach the rough neighborhoods all around Charlotte. It's an amazing ministry and so very cool to see God at work.

Pastor Bill Wilson's message Sunday night was inspiring and terrifying at the same time. He shared his story...about being abandoned as a child...and one man, who had troubles in his own life, showed him that it only takes one person, to change a life...one ordinary person to care. Our lives are important...we only get one shot...are we willing to give our lives for something...are we willing to make a difference?

Are you willing to sacrifice for an eternal cause?

Sometimes we have to get "angry" if we want to change things...we have to be discontent with the way things are or how we see things happening...but at the same time that our emotions can guide us, we can't let our emotions be stronger than our commitment to God and to growing his kingdom. If our emotions are stronger than our commitment, we won't last.

So many people waste their lives waiting for "THE CALL". So many people miss it completely because they're waiting for a huge sign...while they walk past a hungry child...The need IS the call. If you see a need, and you can fill that need...then that is your call. Big doors open on really small hinges. Don't waste your life searching for the one thing you're supposed to do or be...if you are committed to your christian life, if you are willing to walk the walk and not just talk the talk, then your call could be a child sitting alone on the street corner, or someone who can't buy all of their groceries...or in other small things. It's not always the big and the bold...it's often behind the scenes...with no earthly glory...but with eternal reward.

When you get exposed to something bigger than you, it forces you to make decisions about your life. You don't have to have a PHD from some elite college to make a difference. You can be just another ordinary person...and change a life...When you see a need...do you have to wait? Do you have to pray about helping someone who needs help now? Or do you move...immediately, and fill that need?

We are all called...we all have a call on our lives. It's all the same call...we were all given different abilities, gifts and talents which change how we live out that call...but it is the call to spread the gospel, to heal the hurting, to love the unlovable...it's all the same. Once you realize your call...whether it's in your neighborhood, in the inner-city, or in another country...there is no turning back.  Pastor Bill Wilson used John 3:1-21 and the story of Nicodemus to show that you can't go back to the beginning...you cross a line and start fresh from there. There are four steps to change -
  1. illumination (realizing that your life is not your own and that you've been called to be different),
  2. desperation (desiring to see things change and do anything you can),
  3. transformation (changing yourself, changing your views...changing your lifestyle to respond to the call), and
  4. separation (separating yourself from your old life...your old ways).
Desperation will push you to a place you never thought possible...once you realize that God is on your side, you will be unstoppable...but you can never be the same person you used to be. When you see a need...do you step in to help, or do you step back and allow others to step in? Your life is like a coin...you can spend it any way you want, but you can only spend it once.

Sunday nights message really brought back to mind something I've had on my heart for the last 2 years...something that I feel like God is calling me to do...since Pastor Bill Wilson's message, I've really been praying about it...it's scary...but I know that if God wants me to do it...if it's God's plan...then God is going to watch out for me no matter what. I really identified with Pastor Bill Wilson's message because it reminded me of when I went to Rancho 3M in Guadalupe, Mexico. The desperation I feel to be there, to change lives of kids who have nothing...orphans who haven't been loved...I want to show them the greatest love. When Pastor Bill Wilson said "When you get exposed to something bigger than you, it forces you to make decisions about your life." It really made me think...I've been exposed to that...something bigger than me...and I can't stop thinking about it...it never leaves my mind. I feel like maybe someday soon, I'll go back to Mexico...but in the meantime...I'm not going to sit around doing nothing...I'm going to let my light shine here...wherever I can...wherever I see a need, I want to meet it if I can. My heart may be in Mexico...with Chuy and Christian and Mari Cruz and the others...but I'm here right now...and that's where my call is for now.

God will use you...he'll use me...if we open up to being used...even if there's no glory. So...how are you going to spend your life?

Monday, May 9, 2011

Out of Place....

C4 was incredible last night, God is moving and it's so obvious. Several of the college kids had brought their moms to C4 in honor of Mothers Day...and I was no exception =) I brought dad too! It's so good to see so many people just lost in worshipping God.
Tyson's message Sunday was called "Out of Place" and the title made me think of that game we used to play as kids "one of these things is not like the others"...anyway...it was a really good message.
1 Samuel 5:1-7 - After the Philistines had captured the ark of God, they took it from Ebenezer to Ashdod. Then they carried the ark into Dagon’s temple and set it beside Dagon. When the people of Ashdod rose early the next day, there was Dagon, fallen on his face on the ground before the ark of the LORD! They took Dagon and put him back in his place. But the following morning when they rose, there was Dagon, fallen on his face on the ground before the ark of the LORD! His head and hands had been broken off and were lying on the threshold; only his body remained. That is why to this day neither the priests of Dagon nor any others who enter Dagon’s temple at Ashdod step on the threshold. The LORD’s hand was heavy on the people of Ashdod and its vicinity; he brought devastation on them and afflicted them with tumors. When the people of Ashdod saw what was happening, they said, “The ark of the god of Israel must not stay here with us, because his hand is heavy on us and on Dagon our god.”
  • The Philistines had stolen the Ark of the covenant from Israel and had placed it in their temple
  • The Ark of the Covenant was the most prized possession - the holiest thing on earth - where God dwelled on earth.
  • In the morning, Dagon was face down in front of the Ark - the dwelling place of God...even though the Philistines had meant to mock God, instead he made their god fall to his face.
  • You might ask why God would let his dwelling place be stolen by the enemy of his people...but it was all for his glory - so that people would see his power.
Sometimes we feel out of place but we have to remember that God has not forsaken us or forgotten us - we are right where he wants us...and it's for his glory. He wants to use us where we are...in spite of everything. The Bible is full of things that feel out of place such as the Ark of the Covenant in the Temple of Dagon...the temple of the enemy...but it's all for his glory. God uses the negative situations in our lives...in the midst of all the storm and strife, God wants to use us to bring hope to the hopeless and life into dead situations. No matter where you are, whatever the circumstances, God will use you - just like he used the old man in the rain to speak into Tyson's life and in turn speak into my life - it doesn't matter, he's going to use you - there will be a light that shines in you.
  • Sometimes people feel out of place among other people
    • Sometimes you might feel like you don't fit in, you don't belong...or you feel reserved...you shouldn't feel that way...you should feel the love of God surrounding you when you are among believers...it's our job to show you how much God loves you...letting him speak through our lives...to show you that you belong, that you're worth it, and that He wants you to come as you are...because He is the God who makes all things new.
    • Sometimes, when you feel isolated, it might be because you've shut yourself off from fellowship...take a look at your own life and ask yourself, "Is it me that's causing myself to feel out of place...or is it truly because I don't fit in?"
    • As a Christian...we aren't supposed to fit in...We are a chosen people, those who have been set apart. We are living in the world but we are not of this world...therefore we cannot become a part of the normal scene. There should be a difference...one that's noticeable.
  • Sometimes people feel out of place when they sin
    • You might feel out of place when you realize that you've done things you promised yourself you'd never do again, when you went back to the place you never wanted to go to again.
    • As a Christian - when you sin, you should feel out of place. There needs to be conviction in your life...if there isn't...then you are in a dangerous place
    • There is a difference, however, between conviction and condemnation
      • Conviction draws you back to Jesus...The Holy Spirit shows you when you've sinned, convicts you and leads you out of sin and back into the arms of God
      • Condemnation is guilt and shame we heap upon our own heads...we beat ourselves up and let our shame overshadow God's mercy...condemnation kicks you when you're down.
    • Get up, be restored, come back to God no matter how bad your past is...God wants to do a work in you...and nothing you've ever done could make him love you any less.
  • Sometimes people might feel out of place at Church or at C4
    • Sometimes you might feel forgotten or abandoned (1 Samuel 7:1-4)
    • Maybe you look around you and you see people who are worshipping and people who are happy...and maybe you don't feel like that, and you wonder "has God abandoned me?"
    • Romans 8:31-39 - Nothing can separate us from God or his wonderful love
He won't abandon you...but you must be careful and examine your own life and ask yourself "Have I abandoned Him?" - sometimes we grow so familiar with the routine...with religion...that we don't take the time to cultivate our relationship with God...don't ask God where HE is...He's always there...if you feel distant, it could be because he's waiting for you to put everything else aside and make him first in your life again. We allow the world to distract us and distance us...but no matter how far you are, he's closer than you think...he's only 1 prayer away.
Even if you feel out of place wherever you are right now...remember that 2000 years ago, the most out of place thing that could happen, happened. God stepped down and made himself lower than the angels so that he could walk with us. He was out of place here...but out of that came the greatest story the world could know. No matter how out of place you feel, God can and will use that...he doesn't ask you to change before you come to him...he just wants you to come...he'll use you.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

He's still speaking...

So Thursday night was sort of profound for me...it had been a rough day at work and so my whole demeanor was kind of a downer...but last night, I knew that I needed to go to the C4 Charlotte Mid-Week Worship/Bible Study. Worship was great and Jordan Connell did a wonderful job leading it...I have to say, I was distracted...which sucks because worship is my favorite. But for whatever reason (hint* God) I had this urge to write in my journal...I haven't written in my personal journal in probably 6 months...so it struck me as odd but by the end of the night...I knew why...this is what I started writing:
"I'm feeling so inadequate right now. I look around me and I see people who seem to have it all together...the way they dress, the sound of their voices, how amazed they are with God - I dunno, I'm just feeling like my life is lacking right now...but for all I am, I can't help feeling this way. Maybe it's just because I had a crappy day at work, I don't know...but it's hindering my worship tonight. I feel like I'm a mess next to these people...but it's silly to compare because I know it's not always how it appears. I guess I'm feeling overwhelmed again with the thought of graduation and growing up ever present in my mind right now. Honestly, I feel like lately I've kind of kept God close but had him on the shelf - like He has been within my sight, but not near enough for me to be wowed by him every chance I get - by every breath I breathe. I'm feeling very much stripped and lonely - because even in this, I'm still pushing Him away and for whatever reason not allowing Him close enough to pick me up and comfort me..."
At that point - Jordan started to sing "How He loves" which goes like this:
"He is jealous for me, Loves like a hurricane, I am a tree, Bending beneath the weight of his wind and mercy. When all of a sudden, I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory, And I realise just how beautiful You are, And how great Your affections are for me.
And oh, how He loves us so, Oh how He loves us, How He loves us all
Yeah, He loves us, Whoa! how He loves us, Whoa! how He loves us, Whoa! how He loves.
Yeah, He loves us, Whoa! how He loves us, Whoa! how He loves us,Whoa! how He loves. 
We are His portion and He is our prize, Drawn to redemption by the grace in His eyes, If grace is an ocean, we’re all sinking. So Heaven meets earth like a sloppy wet kiss, And my heart turns violently inside of my chest, I don’t have time to maintain these regrets, When I think about, the way…
He loves us, Whoa! how He loves us, Whoa! how He loves us, Oh how He loves. Yeah, He loves us, Whoa! how He loves us, Whoa! how He loves us, Whoa! how He loves."
At which point I began to cry...like...a lot...and then...Jordan transitioned to one of my favorite hymns:
Turn your eyes upon Jesus
look full in His wonderful face
and the things of earth will grow strangely dim
in the light of His glory and grace
And by that point...I was gone...just completely lost in his presence...I could feel him speaking to me at that point...Tyson got up and said that he had felt like God was saying "Believe me again." Meaning that...sometimes, we know in our heads that God can do it all...but in our business, sometimes we forget to believe that. We'll only experience God's supernatural miracles, we'll only see revival if we are crazy enough to believe that he can and will do it. We have to know, trust, believe, and expect that God will do great things. Tyson said that we have to remember that our God always sees the end from the beginning...and every work he begins, he begins with the end in mind.
Close to the end of the evening...Tyson just stopped...he said that he felt like he needed to tell this story...I was only able to write down part of it but I'll try my best to do it justice:
Tyson and his friend had been on a trip and they were on their way back...Tyson was going to drop his buddy off at his car because they had carpooled. It was late at night and it was raining like crazy, right as they got in view of the friends' car, this elderly man blocked their way. Tyson stopped and the old man came around to the drivers side window. Tyson rolled down his window and the old man began to talk to Tyson's friend who was also a friend of his. As this continued, Tyson began to get impatient thinking, "It's raining, it's late, I have places to be..." and the man turned to him and told him a story:
There was this mansion on top of a hill, and a gate at the bottom. They were connected by a long and winding path. Everyday, a man and his daughter would come walking down the path and amongst the trees and bushes..they would always stay close. One day, however, the daughter wandered a little too far, the father called her back...but she didn't come...so he hid amongst the trees and waited. When she turned around, she became frantic because she couldn't see him or feel his presence. She darted from tree to tree until she found him."
Tyson waited..."and..."
The old man said, "Tyson, you are the daughter...there was a time when you walked with God real close - and one day, you walked a little too far and when you turned around, you didn't see Him or feel Him...but He was always right there - He was just waiting for you to come back and look for Him."
I lost it...I just sobbed...God really spoke to me that night, I couldn't believe it...(I mean I know he still speaks to me and everything, I just don't think it had ever been that obvious) I was just amazed...God is still speaking, and it's amazing to feel his closeness...are you listening? He knew exactly what I was feeling, what I was struggling with...and he spoke directly to me...exactly what I needed to hear...God is so good...and it's so cool to see him use guys like Tyson and Jordan and an old man in the rain...you never know when or how God is going to use you...but be ready...because he wants to use you...and he will.

Happy Mothers Day!!!

Happy Mothers Day Mom!!! Thanks for all you do to serve Daddy and Emily and Granny and me...We all love you lots and are very grateful for how hard you work! (and thank you for helping me with my cooking project today =P) Love you!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Royal...

Tonight's message was really...really...encouraging. Tyson called it "Real Royalty" and it centered around who we really are...how we see ourselves vs. how God sees us...and I have to say it again...it was very encouraging.

In light of all that has happened this week with the Royal Wedding of Will and Kate...I think this was a most appropriate message. The entire planet right now is still in awe over the wedding of Will and Kate, her dress, and everything surrounding the wedding. We look at Will and Kate and lift them up because they are royalty...we see them and we elevate them because of their title...and then we look at ourselves...and it's sad...we're not a prince or princess...not related to royalty...no perks of living in a palace or getting to be married in the most gorgeous places in the world...
WOAH...
STOP...
right where you are...
that sort of mentality is what gets us into trouble...it’s the little lies like that...the world gets to us...it beats us down...but the real kicker is...this world has NO CLUE what real royalty is all about.

1 Corinthians 13:12 - For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
When you look at yourself, you only see a part of the picture. When we take a look at ourselves, we see what the world tells us to see...all the blemishes (is that a zit in the middle of my forehead!?) and focus on everything we don't like about ourselves (did I just set a new record on the scale?!) We see "average." We see problems. No wonder depression is so wide-spread...who wouldn't be depressed if they saw themselves like that?

But guess what...sometimes...who we see doesn't accurately reflect who we are. If you could catch a glimpse of how God sees you...if you knew who you really were, what your life means to Him...you couldn't help but be different. We may see all of the problems...all of our past...but God sees who we are now and who we are going to be. Did you know you are royalty in God's eyes?

Luke 15:10 - Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.
Did you hear that? Heaven rejoices over you! When you come to a place where you realize you can't do it alone and are saved...and begin to move your life in a direction that is led by the Spirit of God...Heaven rejoices! When the blood of Jesus covers your life, we become royalty...we become children of the Most High God...the King of Glory, the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords...we are his children...citizens of Heaven!

Romans 8:14-18 - For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
I dunno about you...but that's really exciting to me! I'm not just another person...I'm not average...I've been set apart and I get to call the King of everything DADDY!!! (That’s what Abba Father means, Daddy God)

The verses in Romans talk about being an heir of God and joint-heirs with Christ...think about this...what isn't Gods'? That would be....NOTHING! It's all His! Which means, that through Christ and his work on the Cross...it's ours!!! If you are born again...you are a joint heir with Christ.

So if the King over all is our Abba, Father...our daddy...that means that we are royalty...not to give you an ego boost necessarily so that you walk around expecting to be waited on hand and foot...but so that you realize that through His power...we don't have to crumble when the world tries to beat us down...when it tries to tell us we aren't worth it or we aren't good enough. Royalty comes with a price, but you'll never regret it. Life may not always be easy...but through Him, you'll have the strength to overcome it.

If God never did another thing for me, he's already done more than enough.

2 Corinthians 11:2 - For I am jealous for you with the jealousy of God himself. I promised you as a pure bride to one husband—Christ
So, when you look at yourself, realize that God sees you as a child of God...an heir. What 2 Corinthians 11:2 tells us is that when God looks at the body of Christ together...(all of his children)...we aren't just royalty...we are his bride. He is coming for a people who know who they are, where their place is, and who are ready to stand and take their place along-side Him.

In the book of Hosea, God tells Hosea to marry a prostitute...someone who was continually unfaithful to him, and even when she was sold into slavery...Hosea paid the full price to get her back. Our story is very similar...we are undeserving, unfaithful, and far more concerned with ourselves than worshiping Him. But He sees us as His bride...when you understand that...when you begin to see yourself how God sees you...your life will never be the same.

Galatians 2:20 - I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
God doesn't need us for him to still be God...he would still be God even if we didn't exist...but he values us, he loves us so much that he wants to give us all He has...and he started with Heaven's greatest possession...his only son. He prizes us enough that he would do anything for us, his children...his bride. Will and Kate have nothing on God and His Bride.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!

Happy 21st Birthday to the gorgeous Emily!!!
Em, you're one of my best friends...and I'm so grateful for you!!
I just want to say that it's been a real joy to watch you grow in your love for God!!
You're a piece of work that's for sure...
Love ya!

just a simple thank you...

I just want to say a quick thank you...I've been really encouraged by the number of visitors to my blog over the past few months and by the people who come up to me and tell me that they enjoy what I write. It surprises me every time...but I really am grateful to my readers...and I'm so grateful that what I write is an encouragement to you guys...someone asked me tonight why I write...and I really don't have an answer...but God works in mysterious ways...and I'm okay with not knowing why I write...but I'm glad to know that it blesses some of you and that God is using my thoughts and ramblings to serve you guys. So anyway...yeah...thanks =)

May 1 (1945 and 2011)

dunno if you can see the date...but it's May 1, 1945
and today...May 1, 2011...it was announced that Osama Bin Laden is dead...

wierd...

=)

Yes...
I watched it...
Yes...
I cried...
No...
I did not wake up at 4am....