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.

Friday, October 8, 2010

blogger block




I guess we can just call it "blogger block".

I am just sure I have something to say. I'm sure of it. I'm mean, of course I do! Right?

Ok, maybe not.

So....here are some photos instead. Happy weekend.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Hay

My day yesterday involved a lot of this.


And a little of this.



Would you believe me if I told you I crossed a river on horseback?

It was glorious.

Monday, October 4, 2010

40 Years 1 Day

I never thought I would make it to 40, and I have no idea why that is. I have had an eerie feeling for a couple of decades that my life would be short. It still could be, but for whatever reason, 40 was the magic number for me. I have not lived in fear. I have still boarded airplanes and driven on the interstate. 2 or 3 summers ago I went parasailing. And while my eerie feeling hasn't stopped me from doing things that might be dangerous, the thoughts have hovered just around the perimeter of the active part of my imagination. Today I am free from that.

Maybe now you can know why I have had near panic attacks in Africa when boarding my planes to come home. The narrower the gap to "40" the more powerful my imagination. These past few weeks have been slightly stressful. I had not shared this with anyone. Not my hubs, not my best friends....no one. About 10 years ago, I did share this with my Aunt Brenda. She was very sick with cancer and we were talking about death, and in a weak moment I told her my eerie feeling. She has now been gone for 8 years.

So, today my feet are 40 years old and 1 day, as are my hands, my hair, my eyes, my teeth and my heart. Today isn't just the day after my birthday. Today is new life with no more eerie feelings. I am so thankful to be here. So thankful.

Friday, October 1, 2010

learning love

I'm overwhelmed these days by the love in my life, both going out and coming in. I have a very sweet, special, dances to the beat of her own rhythm, tender, brave friend who I haven't really known for long, and rarely get to see but maybe once every 2 or 3 months.....well I met her for lunch yesterday. When we meet, our time is brief and mostly intense. I can't say no to her. If she called me and said, "hey girl come meet me at the spot in the dark wood where the moonbeams sear through the leaves and shines a light on the path.....for 20 minutes at midnight".... i would probably do it. I'm gripped by her presence. Yesterday, for nearly 30 minutes straight, we talked about "love". The conversation just went there. And not just any love.....but the way that God truly transforms us, almost magically, not only by loving us.....but by infusing us with His love and making it possible for us to love others. We sat in a quaint, perfect, eating establishment in a dern near perfect town square. It was full... bustling with noise and conversation, forks ringing against sweet small white ceramic platters, laughter, business speak, food orders, and footsteps on crickety wooden floors. We shared our thoughts and experiences on the miracle of God's love. Between the things that we shared, as well as love portions that we poured forth......the more vivid the picture in my minds' eye comes into focus on the deep, true commands of love in scripture. If Jesus commands us to love people who are difficult (if not impossible) to love, then it must also be true that He makes it possible.

Love, grace, mercy, forgiveness and compassion.....these are not things you and I are truly capable of. We have not the strength to conjure up the truest expressions of these gifts, aside from what the Spirit gives us. I feel sad for those who believe God no longer performs miracles. When your heart has been cleansed of hate, bitterness, envy, malice, disdain and a whole host of other uglies.......God didn't just perform a miracle....He flat out transformed the world again.

My friend and I parted ways to rush back to the lives that manage our children, spiff up our walls, sorts through closets and weeds the garden. And as if my afternoon hadn't been picturesque enough, my journey back involved backroads, rolling hills, fall air sweeping through the car while my long'ish hair floated up and out of the moonroof....and a little Patty Griffin in my speakers. All I could see were faces......faces of the women in my life who soak up a little of me and pour out much of themselves. One by one the faces of my friends passed through my mind. Having lost 2 wayward girlfriends in the past for reasons unknown, an iron gate around my heart has been difficult to pass through. But I don't think its there anymore. I see love all around. I am in awe as I sit with friends, here and there, girlfriends who love Jesus.... and I know that He is in them. He is on their insides. He appears in their thoughts and He provides the love in those sweet warm embraces. The very love He commands, He provides. He makes impossible love, possible.