Tuesday, December 21, 2010

a blog move

my blog is moving to a new url.  i think it will be permanent although i'm not positive.  if you'd like to continue to keep up with me, please send me an email to melissa (at) melissairwin (dot) com and i'll send you the new link.

thank you to my readers!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

A Sneak Peak - at my book

Ok - so this is a big deal for me.  Let me know what you think.  I am writing a book.  No I do not have a publisher nor have I made official contact with any publisher.  I'm writing anyway.  The chunks and meat of the book will remain a secret - and most of it is written.  Now I am working to weave my personal story throughout the text to personalize it and offer transparency, life, humanity.  Below is the essay the first of those essays.


THE ESSAYS

From The Wet Carpet

Even as I close my eyes today, I can float above myself as I lie on the floor then, in an almost out of body experience.

She was broken.  Depleted.  Horrified.  And she was lying in a puddle of her heaviest tears.  Her face was wet.  Tears pooled up in the creases of her neck and the corners of her mouth.  They say you can drown in no more than an inch of water.  I say you can drown in your own tears.  And she would say that she tried.

I try not to linger here above myself for long because it burns like a fresh wound.  I see her wishing she were dead, and how thankful, overwhelmed and amazed am I that she is not.  Praise Jesus.  Only Jesus.

That pool of tears nearly drowning out the existence of her breath led her here to me, where I am now, basking in the light of the one who came to save.

As dreary and as hopeless as those moments were, they are the pin-point on my lifeline where I cried out to the Lord in one true gesture, a roaring desperate wail.  I had been skeptically speaking to him for years.  But this time he recognized the depth of my despair.  He knew my lowest point was there on my lonely living room tear stained floor.  He knew this time I would follow without doubt.  He knew my white knuckled grip would not loose, though the white would slowly fade.  He knew this was it.  Melissa would finally lean into him, stretch outside of her comfort zone, pivot her focus onto his design and grow into maturity until His work in her would be complete.  His… to the finish.

Divorce took me to the floor that time.  Married after 8 ½ years of being a single mom to a then 9 year old, the spouse decided his commitment to his hobby was tied with a tighter rope.  His decision to leave after a mere year was quick and simple.  For me it was a death, a failure and an emptiness I pray never visits me again.  But it cannot and it will not because every empty hole in my being was filled when Christ rescued me that day in the floor.  The only emptiness left is the longing for my true home in the heavenly realm where no carpets are saturated with gut wrenching tears.  Till then, there are praises to sing, prayers to raise, journeys to walk, lives to touch, messages to carry, and hope to spread.

He said, “come, follow me”.  Let us.

Monday, December 13, 2010

snow













Sunday, December 12, 2010

Homegrown News

About once a month I send out a Real Estate related newsletter via email to my contact database.  Yesterday and today I have received many responses that my newsletter should be a blog post.... not a bad idea.  And just for clarity - my real estate branding/logo is of a homegrown tomato - because i am a native Nashvillian and have branded myself as the Homegrown Realtor.  Here ya go....

Tis the season to be jolly!  And yet this season leaves a lot of our fellow man singing the blues.  Foreclosures are still big news, as are unemployment, deaths of our troops, and the current political battles over taxes.  Let's be honest, sometimes it is just flat out impossible to be jolly.  The best way to improve our lives is to focus inward.  I believe we create peace when we seek it.  And I believe that joy is a choice, no matter what circumstances we may be facing.
 
In the past few weeks, my blog, my facebook page and my inbox have been filled with prayer requests.  I've carried a lot in my heart lately and lifted up numerous prayers....ranging from relationships between mothers and daughters, sicknesses, surgeries, sons on the front line in Afghanistan, sudden job losses, deaths, and news of betrayals.  This morning my children and I decorated our Christmas tree and as I sit here in my home office and smell the fresh sappy pine, I just cannot help but think of the people I know today who are fresh out of jolly.  I'm reminded of the season, and the reason.  If you celebrate Christmas you already know that the birth of Christ ushered in a season of hope.  Where would we be without hope?  So....if you cannot find your jolly today, my prayer is you will latch on to the hope ~ and hang on for dear life.
 
If you are jolly today, my encouragement to you is to spread it around.  Pour it out like syrup all over someone else.  Sticky sweet is a.o.k. and totally acceptable this time of year. 
 
On the homegrown-front, I am so excited to have just sold a house with one of my buyer clients, and have two fresh listings with a couple of others coming up in Janurary.  I'm keeping busy!  I have also just celebrated the first offiicial Board of Directors meeting for the charitable organization I have started.  And I've wiped tons of runny noses.  (just keepin' it real).  This might be the appropriate time to mention also that I wrestled a Christmas tree and won, although just barely.
 
Although I sell houses for a career, I'm well aware that a house cannot enrich a life.  Only love can do that.
 
Love more!
 
Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays to all!  

Saturday, December 11, 2010

In Your Boat

I was really young when I first sailed.  And in fact, I didn't just sail.  I raced.  Some of our family friends owned sailboats and raced all the time.  They had children my age and I was invited along.  I remember having the real possible fear we would tip over.  I slipped several times and I had to work hard without any training.  It was fast paced and overwhelming.  I remember getting queazy.  In fact, I've thrown up off the side of many boats, including sailboats, speed boats, and ferry's.  The most exciting place I ever tossed my cookies into the water was from a parasail.... but that is probably tmi.  I also nearly drowned in an ocean near Savannah, Georgia.  Not good times.


You can imagine, I'm not a big fan of water.  It is beautiful.  I respect it.  But keep me out of it.  Please.


In a body of water, far away from the shore is a intimidating and dangerous place to be.  Whether lake, ocean or swamp, waters are deadly.  Those boats we putter around in are barely a safety net.  Engines break down.  Leaks threaten.  Sails tear.  Communication can fail.  And then there is the unknown underneath - traps, deadly animals, blades, and sometimes contaminants.  Why does anyone really go out into the waters to begin with?  I imagine it is for the beauty or for the solitude or for the quiet or for the mystery or for the sport and challenge of it.  If this earth is two-thirds water the oceans and other bodies of water offer the best options for escape, despite the dangers.


Whether you love the waters and/or boating or not, I think we can all agree that waters are powerful, more powerful than we are.  And no one can know your experience in your boat, unless they are in it with you.  For decades I have heard variances of the saying "we're not in the same boat" or "but you're not in my boat".  The deal is, we don't know if that boat is dark, if it is leaking, if it is surrounded by hungry sharks, if the engine stopped working, or the anchor just won't reach the bottom.  We don't know if that boat is carrying 21 conflicting personalities or one lonely captain. That popular saying is used in everyday conversation and to me it makes a lot of sense.  Indeed, we are not in the same boat.


It is raining a lot here today.  I keep having a vision of boats, and as I presume is strongly influced by the Christmas season, I keep having visions of Jesus walking on the water to get back to the boat of His friends.  The men were supposed to wait for Him in the boat at the shoreline while Jesus went up the mountain to pray.  Instead, they drifted out a good distance from the shore.  But there was no distance, truly no conditions that would hold Jesus back from walking out to join His friends in their boat.


No matter what our circumstances, Jesus will join with us in our boats.  No distance nor darkness nor shark can keep Him from His beloved.  You're not in this boat alone.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Backroads, Tennessee - part #2

A few more photos from my backroads excursion the other day. I have just enjoyed these photos so much and couldn't resist posting more! Loving my camera! And the scenery of course.



Wednesday, December 8, 2010

My Issues with Santa

I get absolutely no joy out of my kids believing in Santa. Oh how ready I am for some little rotten jerk in kindergarten to spoil it for my Asher. I just can't do it.

First of all, Asher believes that Santa or his elves can make anything, and therefore Asher should get anything and everything he asks for. When I tell him that Santa will only be bringing him one gift, he rebutts with, but last year Santa brought (some other kid) 5 toys, so why would he only bring me 1? Asher is also excited because he thinks all the orphans in Africa are getting presents from Santa - that Santa can bring them food, clothes, toys, and anything they need to live a better life.

I'm irritated on many levels. First - we are supposed to be celebrating the birth of Christ. And while it is fun to exchange gifts in the celebration of His amazing birth...... who on the planet has ever said "Oh I love my new diamond necklace in the name of the birth of sweet baby Jesus!" in the same breath? And what child has ever said "hey I got a transformer for Jesus' birthday!"?

The other irritating thing is the sheer competition between parents and Santa. First of all, money is an object. We do not have a Christmas budget. But even if we did have an endless budget.....how does one decide what will be from Santa and what will be from mom and dad? Does Santa automatically get to give the best gifts? I realize that I am competing with a myth, but for now, that myth is real to my kids. If I'm going to spend hard earned money on thoughtful gifts for my kids, I want them to know it is because I love them, not because some overweight jolly man who talks about Ho's thinks they are special. If we let one good gift come from Santa and the other, smaller, not as exciting gifts come from us....well.....that's not fair and I'm in the mood to throw a giant sized temper tantrum about it.

But what of this? This concerns me most of all. In this house, we talk about God on a almost daily basis. We teach our babes about Jesus and encourage their personal relationships. Asher talks to God and prays any time he feels like it. He has never met Jesus. Jesus has certainly not ever left anything for Asher under the Christmas tree. Once a year, we allow stories of Santa to come into our home and we go along with it. But we know Santa isn't real. Right now, to my 6 year old, both Santa and Jesus are real. When he discovers that Santa is not, in fact, real... what will that do to his belief about the other man he has not yet met? It worries me. It bugs me. And in some small way, it is ruining the season for me.

I've got 2 questions for you.

When did you learn the truth about Santa?

If applicable, how did your children find out?

HELP!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Backroads, Tennessee on an Overcast Day

I know I've already posted once today, but I could not resist another. I spent my afternoon alone enjoying some backroads and messing around with my camera. I also experimented with my photo editing program that came with my MacBook. Except for my sinus headache, it has been a peaceful afternoon.












Wishing you all a happy week.

of a feather

This year was the first in 4 years that I have boarded a four-wheeled vehicle and rolled across the hills of Tennessee, the flat marshy delta lands in Arkansas, and into the lone star state for Thanksgiving. I drove. The "moms" was in the passenger seat and those monkey boys rode along in the back.

I've never minded driving through Arkansas. Arkansas is my second home. While it may bore some, I absolutely love driving through Arkansas at different times of the year just to see the crops in their various stages. I love it. Love it. In October I was there and saw the most gorgeous ripe, yet unpicked cotton field. Gorgeous. It makes me want to grow cotton in my backyard. But driving through in late November isn't much to write home about. Except when geese are migrating.

The interstate is more like highway and it is lined on both sides moreso with crop lands than with hills, trees or buildings. From a distance I could see something happening in the sky and upon approach it became clear that it was birds. And then it became clear it was geese. Like you, I have seen geese migrate before. They fly through Nashville, naturally...(music city). I have seen them in flocks of 10 -20, flying in their V formation, often with one odd man out. I've seen it. And I love to see it. They seem so simple yet so incredible. But in my life I have never seen what I saw this year, the day before Thanksgiving. My mom and I both dropped our jaws to the floor of the 4x4. Thousands of geese. Literally, I pinky swear....between 2,000 - 3,000 geese. About 1/2 were in the air and the other half on the ground in a large cleared out cotton field. I slowed down to a bicycle pace to see if my eyes were deceiving me and they were not. I realize that they couldn't have been trying to set the Guiness Book of World Records for the largest ever flock of geese - but that they were many flocks come together, traveling in the same direction for a warmer winter destination. I was shocked by it. Moved by it. And blessed by it.

I wonder how one goose felt to know she was gathered together for the same purpose, with the same birds of her feather. I bet she knew she wasn't alone. And all she had to do to know this was to look to the sky.

We are not geese, although sometimes I sound like one when I laugh. But this I know...while I cannot always look up or look down to find the flock I belong to, I know that I am not alone. I am not the only woman who got pregnant at the age of 18, married and divorced in 1 year, and raised a child as a single mom. I'm not the only one who struggles with weight. I'm not the only one who struggles to express my faith. I'm not the only one with a dysfunctional family. I'm not the only one raising a special needs child. I'm not the only one with a list of sins from my past that I'd rather not discuss. I'm not the only one estranged from a parent. I'm not the only one who has suffered heartbreak by a best friend. I'm not the only one who rolls my eyes at my husband and snaps at my children....nope I'm not the only one who is weak. I'm not the only one who loses sleep over orphans in Africa and in the world, and I'm not the only one who still wants "more" out of this life. So, if I'm not alone, then you are not alone either.

This all ends with a new beginning. And like the geese, I suggest we stay focused on that destination and I suggest we keep tabs on our flocks. They need us and we need them. We are birds of one feather. We, who love Jesus.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

word purge

Thanksgiving was wonderful, in Texas with my family. Thank you family. AND, I got to meet a precious blogging friend in Fort Worth - a very special treat. Thank you Sarah, for your time and your heart. You blessed me!

I am in the home stretch of completing my continuing education for my real estate broker license requirements. I will be finished this week. Praise God! I am so over it. I have to complete 2 courses today and then just one more tomorrow night and then I am done. This will bless my life tremendously.

My sweetest Tater Tot will be 6 years old on Saturday. 6. I truly hate that number. Go away number. I can't hardly stand what is happening. Day by day my boys get bigger and older. It's the hardest part about parenting. This Saturday we are celebrating with a party at a crazy place. It's our first for this, as all of our parties have been in our home. Asher is stoked. Because he is 6. And that is par for the course, for a 6 year old. Dangit.

I sold a house yesterday. A treasured friend and someone who is in my business network referred a precious couple to me a couple of weeks ago. We have been on the hunt and yesterday they scored a deal to purchase their first home. I got the sweetest email from them yesterday thanking me for all that I have done to help them in this process. I sat in my car (at a red light) and red that precious, humbling email from them and was immediately covered in goose bumps and a praise was released from my lips. I am so thankful when my involvment impacts a life. I am so deeply grateful and humbled by that. Sometimes my clients don't even realize the value that I add to their experience. So when I receive those verbal and written rewards, I rejoice. I'm so thankful. I know I said that already but I am so thankful.

I'm not ready for Christmas. Have not decorated. Have not shopped. After Asher's birthday, must get busy with that.

This is a crazy chaotic season for many. I'm praying for the peace and the truth of Christmas to rest in our hearts. I'm praying we are celebrating the majesty of the birth of Jesus. My personal prayer for myself is that I will rejoice in His name, His power and His glory daily through the Christmas season. He is the reason I live, the reason that I hope, the reason that I serve and the reason that I love.

Is He your reason?

I pray so.


Monday, November 22, 2010

Shawn and the Gunk Song

video

My Thankful Post

I am thankful most days. I don't really know any other way to live life without going completely insane. Because there is plenty in this world to be discouraged about. If you watch the news you know we are in a world plagued by evil and hatred. And if you read the Bible, you know this is no surprise. My list today isn't cutsie or fantastical. But my list is what I hold onto.

I am thankful for;

  • mailboxes in the USA and a mostly reliable postal system
  • hot cafeteria food for my kids
  • carpet - even if it is dingy
  • clothes - even if they are too tight
  • calories - even though they are my enemy
  • my husband, for his heart - certainly not for his communication skills
  • that my oldest son still calls me "momma" - sometimes
  • text messages and emails from Zimbabwe
  • friends who can lift my spirits - even when my spirits don't need lifting
  • that i get to be mommy to asher and shawn ~ a gift even beyond my own comprehension
  • the broken road that got me here
  • birds, flowers and trees
  • little fingerprints on walls and doors
  • kitchen walls splattered with yogurt
  • my dreams and imagination
  • music - Lord Heaven where would i be without music?
  • that i cannot escpae thoughts of Zim - day and night, day and night, day and night
  • family - near & far
  • hope
  • love
  • Heaven
  • Jesus
Happy Thanksgiving Week!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Invisible Blog Post

Would y'all believe I have written 2 blog posts in the past two weeks that I just didn't publish? I am seriously not doing well with follow through at the moment. Argghh...

But here is the deal. I'm just busy and a little too busy at that, and it's mostly with stuff that isn't enjoyable so along with the business of busy'ness also comes stress and dread and that brings on fatigue and overwhelming feelings of blech! Our family has also been a little sickly with sinus/allergy problems, runny noses, etc. I think we are better now. The boys are fantastic...full of joy and blessing me every day. Joe is slammed busy with his work right now, but praising God that his hotel (employer) has been restored from the flood damage and is officially back open and better than ever.

I am sorry that my blog is ever so dull lately. When I complete my continuing education for real estate I'll return to blogging more regularly. Until then, if you don't hear from me, happy Thanksgiving to all.

Now, if I remember to press "publish post" this one won't be invisible. Here goes nothing...


Saturday, November 6, 2010

The God of Disappointment

I hear it a lot.

There are many versions of "the church turned on me" when I went through _________.

Or, "I lost my faith when this Christian or that Christian betrayed me."

Or, "Christians are hypocrites, so why would I want to believe in their God!"

These are the challenges that face me lately. How do I explain that there are two heartbeats inside of me? Mine...and....HIS. How do I prove that? I cannot. I just cannot. Is it enough that I'm not who I was? Maybe it is for anyone who knew me then, but what about those who only know me now? How can they see the resemblance of His good if all they are looking for is my sin?

Matthew 10:21-22 speaks a hard truth of those who love and revere the Lord God Almighty in the name of Jesus, the Lamb of God. It's hard and it is real.

Jesus spoke these words:
"Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved."
He may as well have said, your family isn't going to agree with you just because they are family. Your children may choose a different belief. Those friends of yours on facebook, some of them want to vomit every time you type my name. Some of your blog readers think you are a blubbering idiot. Your neighbors think you are over the top and your co-workers find you annoying, just because you love me. Secretely and overtly you are hated by some and will continue to be hated. They will hate you because they oppose me and they are not comfortable with your love for me. They deny me and they will take that out on you. But stand up strong my child because my love covers you. I have given you my hope, my comfort and my counselor. Stand up and don't be afraid to be hated. Yeah, He might as well have just come out and said that.

It is a challenge for certain to walk into an invitation for hate. The challenge isn't in processing the feeling, and not even in showing love anyway. The challenge is to understand and accept that this is the way that it is and the way it will always be. The challenge is in wanting to fix it. I want to help people "get" that the god of disappointment is nothing more than man. We are the gods of disappointment. We are the gods of betrayal. We are the gods of let down. We are the gods of hypocrisy. We are the gods of lies and deceit.

People who do not believe in the mighty name of Jesus will watch us like hawks to catch us in our stumbling. They believe that when we fail, God has failed. If they bother to give Him a name at all, they will only utter it in tones of disappointment. When we get called out, He gets called out. And we WILL get called out, you can pretty much bet on that. True or false, perception is everything.

Recently I attended an awards ceremony at my childrens' school. Sitting in front of me was a mom and a little sister of some child in that packed room. The little girl was probably 3 and she was displaying some annoying behaviors. In a flash of wisdom I pegged her mom as being aloof, as she probably displays similar behaviors in her adult life and doesn't even realize that they are bad. You know, as in the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. Then I recalled several days ago at the ballfield when one of my very own children acted in a way I didn't teach, I didn't model, and I do not condone. In that case, that apple had fallen off a completely different tree. Right? I'm reminded that not even in the power of my own intentional influence, can I ensure that my children will behave appropriately. This is never more frustrating than when your child is throwing a public tempor tantrum over something that doesn't even make sense. There are no telling how many other moms and dads jumped to the conclusion that the stem of my little apple was still clinging to my branch.

We are just like this with our Father. Sometimes we act out because of stresses and pressures that we fail to keep in check with the Spirit. Sometimes we lose our ever loving minds kicking and screaming until we can finally regain composure. What others don't often see are our closed door repenting, the lessons learned, and the grace. So, instead of marveling at God's mercy and grace, they marvel at this:

  • my tantrum = God's tantrum
  • my lie = God's lie
  • my deceit = God's deceit
  • my judgement = God's judgement
  • my unforgiveness = God's unforgiveness
  • my greed = God's greed
  • my failures = God's failure
God begins to look like the god of disappointment. People HATE to be disappointed. People will deny God because we dissapoint them. People will spend eternity apart from God and apart from us because some human proclaiming Christ will let them down. They will believe that He respresents us in our "bad" rather than we represent Him in our "good". One bad apple spoils the entire bushel. There are some really rotten apples out there, and so to some, it makes us all stink. And really, who doesn't hate a rotten apple?

I have no idea where this blog post is coming from. I'm not experiencing "hate" that I know of. I'm just more and more aware of how a relationship with God through Christ requires commitment for spiritual transformation. There are imposters because there is evil in this world. The bible says that Satan is the prince of this world and it is evident that he has some power. And he will continue to until his head gets squashed. I know that I cannot save anyone. Only God can do that. But the devil has created imposters all over this earth who damage the credibility of Christ. This is no shock to the God of the universe. He knows what's up. And He knows that you and me, those of us who sincerely love Him, He knows that we are trying to shine light in the darkest of places and He knows this is no easy task. The lights we shine, the love we share and the hope we spread is not wasted. It is never wasted. It is never for naught. It has a purpose all day every day. Let us not give up. We don't have to see the fruit here...we hope to but we may not. Let us just not give up. He didn't. In Him there is no disappointment.





Friday, November 5, 2010

The Worst Place In The World

Zimbabwe voted worst country in the world to live in. This article was provided by a UN source on 11/4....yea, just yesterday.

A Friday in November

It's Friday. I have so much on my plate. No, that's not the case. I have too many plates going right now. I guess that means I have so much on each of about 4 plates. Yea, that is more accurate.

But I am excited. So very excited.

In no certain order, my plates are:

1. Real Estate. I am in the process of ramping up my business and marketing plans to implement a bigger business. This excites me more than I can express.

2. Plate 2 is the charitable organization I have started. I will reveal this in more detail soon, but I am humbled by what is ahead, and I am ecstatic about the opportunities. I'm thankful that for at least this moment in time I am standing in the middle of God's will with no fear. No fear. No worries. No fear. I am in His hands and all of my projects are in His hands. This is a wild and exciting place to be.

3. My 3rd plate is like a collectors item. I don't have to have it, but I like it. I am working on writing a book. I am making progress. I have made absolutely zero professional connections in this arena. I do not have a publisher, and no one out there is issuing deadlines and waiting on the edge of their seats for my manuscript. But I am writing and believing that God will use this plate to help serve plate #2. And I just have to say "Glory be". I am happy.

4. Obviously while 1-3 are taking up much of my frazzled mind at the moment, I never cease to be mommy and wife. I take the blessings of my family for granted every day. All day every day. But sometimes like now, in the quiet of a moment, with the crisp air washing over my fingers, I can stare across the room to the blank wall and see images of my children dancing as if on a film. I see my oldest son finding his footing, even if walking in clunky boots. I see my husband working his behind off at work and garnering attention of leaders who value him. And what'doyaknow? I see fingerprints. Oily, smudged finger prints that need to be washed off with a cloth asap oh Lord somebody get me a wet cloth.... I just can't keep these walls clean. Where was I? Oh, yea....................... the blessings of family.

My sweet young friends in Zim are taking their final exams soon which means most of the kids are completing high school and will have to start taking care of themselves, with little opportunity. My heart is breaking over this.

There is my update. Please share your updates with me. :-)


Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Romans 10:14-15

**First my apologies for being so quiet at my blog. I'm so busy getting caught up on real estate continuing education, starting a charitable organization, and eating Halloween candy. I am also writing more and more, just not on my blog. Thanks to those of you who check in periodically. I'm well.**

Chapter 7 of Radical by David Platt gets into the nitty gritty of reaching the people groups who have not heard the gospels. He titled this chapter "There Is No Plan B", meaning, there is only one way to Heaven. You can't have the backup plan of doing good deeds, no backup plan of equality and universalism. My pastor says this alot "Good people don't go to Heaven. Forgiven people go to Heaven". The Bible says this forgiveness has to come from a genuine act of faith in God through Jesus. Faith ~ forgiveness ~ salvation. This is THE plan and there is no plan B. And this plan was created for every human being, and unfortunately there are 1.5 billion people on this planet who have never heard this message. God has made us to be disciples and ambassadors. We shouldn't be confused or unclear as to what God's will for us is. He has made it abundently clear in His word. Jesus taught it with clear verbal instructions. If you and I have been saved by the grace of God, if we are putting our trust and hope in Christ, then our calling is clear - spread the good news. Mr. Platt puts it boldly on page 160 "The will of God is for you and me to give our lives urgently and recklessly to making the gospel and the glory of God known among all peoples, particularly those who have never even heard of Jesus." For me the key words are the descriptives: urgently and recklessly.

I don't believe that we can predict when Jesus will return. But based on scriptures I can state that I believe Jesus won't return until all of the people groups have been reached. The scriptures show us that people from every tribe, language and nation will be represented in Heaven. Heaven will house His people. He does not discriminate...as He has called peoples from (say it with me) every TRIBE, LANGUAGE AND NATION. And just who is going to reach every tribe, language and nation to tell them about Christ? Christians are. I, like so many of you, am eager for Jesus to return. Life is hard. It is daunting if we are perfectly honest. We are surrounded by evil. We have children who must grow up and function in this awful world and who will face many trials, pains and awful suffering. I want Christ to return, like, yesterday. I have said it many times "Jesus, come quick!". Those of us who believe in Heaven with a passion are pretty eager to get there. We're ready for this earth to be destroyed and to just get on with it....right? Some of you are confused right now but many of you are saying "Amen" right about now because you are as eager as I am to move on to eternity. We can't. Not until God's mission is perfectly completed. I believe this is what Mr. Platt refers to when he uses words like "urgently and recklessly". The sooner the gospel reaches the unreached, the sooner Christ can come for us. Until all of His people have been reached, we can just continue to live in this world and die in this world. I don't know about you, but that gives me good reason to want to live urgently and recklessly to the message of Christ. I'm eager for all of creation to praise His Holy Name.

Mr. Platt says "God has saved you and me by His grace. He has not only given us knowledge about Christ, but he has also give us the presence of Christ and the promise of Christ to provide us with everything we need to take the gospel to them...... There is no injustice in God. The injustice lies in Christians who possess the gospel and refuse to give their lives to making it known among those who haven't heard."

That is uncomfortable. We don't like it. But we shouldn't be afraid to reach the unreached for Jesus. We shouldn't be afraid to give sacrifically of our finances to support missionaries to go out and do this very thing. We should be afraid of the persistence of the evil in this world that will not ultimately be defeated until God's plan is completed and perfect. There is no plan B.

***Two things - go visit Marla's site to read more about chapter 7.

***Go visit Pastor Pete Wilson who wrote an incredible book called "Plan B". I highly recommend the book. His use of the phrase "plan B" is used simply to show us that God has a different plan for us than the one we have for ourselves. And when we are in the midst of living through something we never expected, God is with us.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

How Much is Enough?

Chapter 6 of "Radical" by David Platt. Subtitle of chapter - American Wealth and a World of Poverty

Even the poor in our country have a fighting chance. Why? Government programs such as food stamps, WIC, government subsidized housing, free school lunches, homeless shelters, soup kitchens. Yes even our poor are wealthy. I will even go as far as to say that the homeless who beg on the street corners are wealthy...because they will dig through garbage and find food. My friends in Africa can't dig through garbage to find food, because no one in Africa throws food away. And my introduction to the slums in the Dominican Republic revealed family upon family living in tin shacks, amidst raw sewage. They seemed to be eating only what the local Christians were bringing them. No foodstamps.

This chapter did an incredible job of not condemning the wealthy because money isn't bad. Money isn't at fault. What is at the heart of the handler?

Oh so many quotable pages in this chapter. Here is one paragraph that I had to underline twice.

pg 110
"Yet, while caring for the poor is not the basis of our salvation, this does not mean that our use of wealth is totally disconnected from our salvation. Indeed caring for the poor (among other things) is evidence of our salvation. The faith in Christ that saves us from our sins involves an internal transformation that has external implications. According to Jesus, you can tell someone is a follower of Christ by the fruit of his or her life, and the writers of the New Testament show us that the fruit of faith in Christ involves material concern for the poor. Caring for the poor is one natural overflow and a necessary evidence of the presence of Christ in our hearts. If there is no sign of caring for the poor in our lives, then there is reason to at least question whether Christ is in our hearts."

Where is our allegience? Is it to our net worth and jingling coins? Is it to the shiny oversized stuff in our homes? Do we really care more about hi-def than we do about the starving man, woman, and child who will die in the middle of the night because they couldn't find the scraps a few thousand miles away in our garbage cans? The amount of food in my fridge over the next month that will go bad could have saved at least 1 life. There are people in 3rd world nations today dying of thirst who would proudly drink the clean water out of our toilets, but instead will cup sewage into their dirty hands and sip it, and share it with their babies. Many of them will die from the toxins, but they will drink it anyway because they are so thirsty.

Poverty is not okay. We all need to do more than what we are currently doing. There is really no excuse. There is nothing you or I need today that is worth more than feeding the hungry. Nothing. And we can trust Jesus with this. The question is, can He trust us with this?

David Platt boldly suggests that the way we spend our money is a "barometer of our present spiritual condition".

I think the reality is this, American Christians have a tendency to ignore what scriptures say about money, about feeding the hungry, helping the poor, and about serving orphans and widows. In other words, we are uncomfortable with the truth and so we only hold on to the bits and pieces of it that we can comfortably live with. Until we embrace the truth of scriptures, the whole 9 yards of it...we're just living on a condensed version void of the Living Waters.

John 7:38 "Whoever believes in me, as the scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him."

Go read more at Marla's site, the host of the book study!

Where Emily Blanche Rests

For most of my life, she lived on a gravel road. Her old country house had a sleeping porch. She wore dresses from rummage sales and her kitchen always smelled like homegrown veggies simmering on the stove. She had more gum than teeth but that never kept her from smiling. She was loud, oh Lord have mercy she was so so so loud. There was not much of a decibal range whether she was shouting for joy or just plain shoutin'. I only got to visit her a couple of times a year and I can clearly remember those tight squeezes....because sometimes they were over the top and cut off my breathing, but all in all I survived and she would boil over.

I can remember when she would be disappointed too. If I got a boo boo, her "AHH NOOOO" would wake up the neighbors, except that her only neighbors were cows and bulls and I reckon they didn't mind too much.

I remember watching her juggle several pots and pans on the stove and in the oven, the old country kitchen kind of oven....and she would put an entire stick of butter in everything.

I didn't go to her funeral. She died when I was a young adult. I couldn't recall if I was 19, 20, or 23. I don't recall the date of her death. I do remember that she got to meet Spencer when he was just a baby. I didn't go to her funeral either because I didn't have the money to travel, or possibly because I wasn't getting along with my dad, her son. I just don't remember.

But the past couple of times I have traveled to her home town in Arkansas, I have tried to find her gravesite. With some of my aunts and uncles, I have combed 3 cemeteries with no luck finding her. Until the past weekend. On Saturday October 23rd, I found my grandma. I was by myself. As I was driving to the cemetery I finally knew was her burial place, memories of her flooded my mind and tears welled up on several occasions. When I finally pulled up the truck and stepped out onto the gravel driveway in front of an old condemned church, and walked the grounds of a tiny old cemetery, I couldn't help but cry out "grandma i'm so sorry i didn't go to your funeral". I found her. And I am only writing this blog post because she did something really amazing and sweet. She led me to herself on the exact date of the 20th anniversary of her death. I told you she was loud. I had no idea I would find her on the anniversary of her death.

I spent 45 minutes bawling my eyes out in her resting place. God rest her sweet loud soul.




Monday, October 25, 2010

Foreclosure - this post is for everyone

Is it just me or are we becoming numb to the foreclosure crisis? I am a real estate professional and so I hear so much about people losing their homes. And of course, there are headline stories daily about the crisis. Some choose to just walk away from their homes and intentionally get foreclosed on because they didn't have much equity anyway. The environment is currently a somewhat forgiveable one, because after all, it is happening in somewhat of a widespread epidemic. (is that the right word?) People are talking about it...because it is the norm. I know many people have either lost their home or walked away, figuring in 7 years or less they can start over anyway.

But here is a new twist I hadn't heard of before.

I have a real life friend in Georgia who is facing the loss of her home next month. November 11 to be exact. And the details are ridiculous. See, my friend and her husband have mostly always had plenty of money, with much to spare. They have been generous beyond words, for decades. They have worked incredibly hard, given much, saved responsibly and yada yada yada. They live very humbly in a small house on about 5 acres, and they raise pot bellied pigs for goodness sakes. They drive pick-up trucks and they boil crawfish for visitors. Good peeps. Fairly simple peeps. Generous peeps. They are Catholic, for those of you who need to know.

When the market crashed, they lost everything but their house. No more retirement and savings. They sold everything they had of value. It didn't happen overnight, but they ended up with nothing left but each other and their humble home. They are both still working very hard, but in very low paying jobs. Several months ago they adjusted their mortgage payments to come out weekly, as they were now living week to week and it seemed easier. Long story short...their mortgage company didn't apply those payments, but rather accrued them in escrow. Now they are behind (bank's fault) and they have been charged ridiculous amounts in attorney fees (for the bank). They are $2,000 from being foreclosed on Nov 11. These are good people. And they have been my dear friends for 21 years. The wife of this duo is the only one on the planet who came to visit me (from a distance) after Shawn was a few weeks old to take a reading on my mental stability. She was ready to scoop me up off the floor if I had sunk into it. She held my sweet little baby and smiled into his slightly crossed eyes. She kissed his separated toes and snuggled him up to her own bosom, with the greatest of love. She held my hand and did the same. This is just how she is. She is everybody's momma hen.

But because she is everybody else's momma hen, she didn't let us know she was in trouble, until now.

Yes, she is fighting the bank and if I know her at all, she will eventually win...but she won't win before November 11. Can you help me save her house? Her home.

Here is my plea....if you have food in the fridge and your rent or mortage payment is not going to be behind this month and next month...... if you've bought an expensive coffee lately, downloaded some itunes, or purchased your kids a halloween costume, will you help save this home? Thank you.

Contact me and I'll either tell you how you can mail money to them directly, or send to me and I'll get it there. And yes, I'm helping too. My goal is to raise $1,500 by Friday 10/29. YES WE CAN DO IT! God bless you all.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

my boys and uncle bucky








We traveled to northeast Arkansas this weekend for me to work on some official secret undercover business. But while there, we visited family. My boys loved every minute with Uncle Rick (aka Bucky - per Shawn) and especially rides on the "tractor".

Thursday, October 21, 2010

My Favoite Color

My favorite color has been green for a long time. I don't know why...it is just my favorite. Oddly however, I do not live a green lifestyle. I do not recycle unless it is made extremely easy for me. I have not been concerned about my carbon footprint, mostly because I didn't understand it. This past week I have been participating in a real estate seminar to keep up with my continuing education requirements...and to be educated about "green" home features and to learn how to save some money. I learned so much more. I'm horrified, overwhelmed and thrilled. Knowledge is power. I have already changed out most of our lightbulbs to the compact flourescents (CFL's) with the Energy Star label. I am making some immediate changes in our home with regards to conservation and recycling. I pray to God I will never throw a piece of plastic, being container or wrapper or anything plastic ever into the trash again. I might as well just throw garbage into the ocean. Oh how sad. Did you know that plastic never goes away. Never. It never biodegrades. Never. We must recycle plastic. Watch this very very short video, please.



Sunday, October 17, 2010

Lately

Asher has been playing T-ball this fall. Shawn does not like to sit in the bleachers and watch his big brother and all the other children play play play. After the games, we let Shawn run out onto the ball field. He goes wild. See.



Here is one of Asher up to bat!

Shawn being Shawn.


Asher chill'axin at the playground.

Shawnie finally taking his thumb out of his mouth for a happy face photo.

This is just what we've been up to lately.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Multiplying Community

I was so busy last week that I did not write a blog post about chapter 4 of the book "Radical" by David Platt. And of course, that may have been one of the best chapters of the book. It was titled "The Great Why of God - God's global purpose from the beginning till today". I will come back to that chapter in a later post....but before writing out my thoughts and emotions on the current chapter, #5....I just want to share a subtitle in chapter #4....just to get you in the mood.

...page 69 = JESUS DIDN'T DIE FOR JUST YOU

ouch

Chapter 5 "The Multiplying Community" comes as somewhat of a relief to me. The subtitle of this chapter is "How All of Us Join Together To Fulfill God's Purpose".

In the past, here on my blog, I have written about many revelations I have experienced by way of the Holy Spirit over time. I remember receiving a word about God's big picture and little picture. I believe most of us live in our own personal photo book. Most of us view our lives as what takes places primarily inside of our walls. Our lives are about our families, ourselves, our friends, our jobs and our unique experiences. I think we need to realize that if Jesus kept photo albums, they wouldn't be of your family. If he were collecting photo albums, they would contain photos of every one of His chosen ones.....and there are several photo books empty and numerous shelves to fill. They aren't empty because He doesn't know whose photo belongs in the book. They are empty because those haven't come to know Him yet....or at least not enough to want to pose for a portrait. In kindergarten theory.......Jesus has given each of us a camera and given us an assignment. He's waiting for His lost children to be ministered to. He is waiting for each tribe to hear His name. He is waiting for the remainder of His children to line up with photo in hand and to say "here is my photo, Jesus...please save it in your book of life".

My original post on this was quite different. You can click here to read it.

The phenomenal part of this chapter to me, which I read several times, is the simple reality that Jesus spent His time here on earth making disciples. He made disciples. He focused on 12 men and out of those 12, He made 11 disciples. Those disciples made disciples, and then those disciples made disciples, and then those disciples.....and so on. I am a disciple today because of this multiplying community effect. Jesus is not asking me necessarily to be responsible for "saving " people.... I can't save people because I am not Jesus. He wants me and you to intentionally share our hearts about Him.... and to be available for questioning. He calls us to teach....not necessarily to large crowds, but to one at a time. But more than making a believer....He calls us to make disciples. The multiplying effect is how the gospel spreads and reaches to the unreachable. Numbers. And it isn't about the numbers in churches....it is about the numbers in the world. Church matters A LOT....(the BRIDE of Christ) but this chapter asks if we are just receivers of the word? (i.e. at church) or are we REPRODUCERS of the word? If all we do is listen, swallow and digest.....are we just zooming in on ourselves? Shouldn't we zoom out?

One of my favorite quotes from this chapter is about reproducing the word of God.... "It is multiplying because the people of God are no longer listening as if His Word is intended to stop with them. They are now living as if God's Word is intended to spread through them."

Is His word spreading through you?

Why is this a relief to me? Because saving the world doesn't mean I have to do something monumentally humongous. My hands don't have to touch every orphan in Africa. I don't have to stand at a podium or do the conference circuit. I don't have to struggle to be heard. I don't have to write a book (although I still want to) and I don't have to blog everyday. Me....little ole me..... I just have to be intentional on a small scale. I do have to be intentional, though.

Discipling isn't about convincing people to believe what you believe. Discipling isn't about being right. Discipling is quite simply knowing that you know that you know that Jesus is real, that Heaven awaits, and being desperately eager to expose this truth to others so that they too can know forgiveness, hope, peace, grace, mercy, love and a perfect, everlasting, eternity with God.

Go visit Marla's page where she is hosting the discussion via other blogs about this book, this chapter. And stick around....she has a great blog! MARLA

Monday, October 11, 2010

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Camping





The Irwins went on our first ever family camping trip yesterday. Joe grilled our dinner and all 4 of us slept in a tent, on 1 queen and 1 twin air mattress. Except for one middle of the night dramatic episode a la Asher Tater Tot - everything went beautifully. This morning after breakfast we went hiking.

My only complaint about our camping excursion is that Mr. Irwin has some funky food packing strategies. Next time...I'll be packing the food. But at least we do all agree that there will be a next time.

Now it is on to our church picnic this afternoon. YeeHaw!

Hope you all had a beautiful weekend.