A Woman of True Beauty

We are celebrating the life and homegoing of a dear friend today, who has been like a mother to some of us, and has touched not only our lives, but the lives of countless others with the love of God.  I would like to share with you a poem that was written by a young woman whose life was obviously impacted by our friend.  

A Woman of True Beauty
by Katy Raper

Have you ever met a woman of true beauty?
Not just a woman who is beautiful in shape, color, or form.
But also a woman whose beauty can be seen through her actions.
Her beauty is shown in kindness through her outstretched hand as she reaches to the needs of others.
A woman of true beauty is one that lives every day to serve others above herself. 
You can feel God's love flow through her as she embraces you with a hug.
She will always make you feel as though you were always a part of her family.
She is a protector.
When her mouth opens, she speaks words of wisdom.
She always rejoices with the goodness of the truth.
Her inner strength gives her courage even in times where she may be physically weak.
Her fear of the Lord is displayed when she raises her hands in song and prayer as she completely immerses herself in His love.
She shows a never ending patience.
A woman of true beauty is someone you can always trust.
Her love will be one of encouragement.
Everyone who enters her life is a blessing to her, and she is a gift to them.
Her heart is one that carries all others.
And when she leaves this earth to enter into eternity, every heart she carried will in return, honorably carry hers.
They will forever remember her persevering kindness and love.
They will rejoice in the truth as she once did.
For they know she will be in a place that has no more sickness.
She will not have to endure the pain and suffering of this world any longer because she now dances with the Lord.
For all of eternity, she will give all the glory to Him that she did in this life, joyously in Heaven.
As for us still on earth, her legacy will live on.
She will always be one of those women that we can use to measure true beauty.
For she was as beautiful inside as she was on the outside.
Rest in everlasting peace Sue, we will carry you forever in our hearts.

Enjoy, You Just May Find You like It

    Cranky people are annoying. Especially if they are loved ones. If you are the cranky one, it's worse. I love that song by Pharrell Williams - Happy. I totally get into it. I want to play it when others are cranky. Lately, my husband and friend had been cranky. Normally, I wig out and try to make things all better. This time, I was like, "What ever", talk to me when your normal!
    Life happens to all of us. My wonderful friend and co-blogger Jeanne has suffered the loss of her home and belongings. That is a horrible life event that isn't just a pain in the butt, it's a real tragedy. God works all things together for the good to them that love Him, and are called according to His purpose. She will come through this like the champion God made her to be, but it still sucks.
    So my question to you is, why are you cranky at times? Make the joy of The Lord your strength. Sing a song to God and see what He does. Even when things are not great, God can do great things in the midst of it. Since others have been cranky, I have begun like five future blogs, instead of barely getting them in at the last minute. Yes, you poor people will have to endure me for at least five more blogs, and who knows how many more, peace be with you...lol. Seriously though, most people are giving up things for lent. Why not give up being cranky and intentionally make an effort to be Happy instead. Imagine what would happen if you did something wild and crazy, like walk up to a complete stranger and say, "You look really nice today", to someone that looks like they really need a compliment. You may just save someone from killing themselves, or turn their crappy day around, then they may be kind to someone else. Imagine the possibilities. If you have trouble, ask God to see through His eyes. You never know, compassion and love may just flow from you. If God can make a dead person live, He can do anything. Enjoy today, you just may find you like it.

Happy Ending

When I heard about Jeanne's house fire I was terrified at first until I got to the words, "We're all safe." A house fire brings such terrible losses, some of them irretrievable, but we'd all been spared the worst. One more day to pretend there's a happy ending somewhere, hopefully in nearby proximity to us. 

One thing about studying the saints is that the specificity of a person in an exact place and time brings the giant aphorisms about faith and God's love reachable for me, a specific person in a specific place and time. Real lives come with real sorrow, real struggle, a general glom of reality. I want to appropriate their real faith for myself. I want to know that there is a happy ending nearby.

When All is Lost: For Jeanne

This is my friend, Jeanne Kincaid Miller's house that burned down recently.

When All we had is Lost

Facades are Stripped Away

The Ruins Pile around us

Harsh in the light of Day

The Shock is Overwhelming

The Spirit Reels, Hands Shake

As, Holding those still With us

Great Gratefulness we Take

Suddenly, People Show us

How much they Really Care

When Things are Gone completely

Find So Much More is There

The Father’s Arms surround us

True Friends amaze with Love

Where once we took our Comfort

Replaced from Heaven Above

The Things will come again

God knows our every Need

But what can’t be Replaced or Touched

Is every Thoughtful Deed

Our lives are Changed Forever

But everything is new

Life’s Unasked Chance to Start Again

Experienced by Few

Unwanted as it Is

Cataclysmic in its Sound

Yet, when All Things are surely Lost

 All that is Real is Found

Starting Over...

Three nights ago, my sister, Jeanne and her family lost their home and most of their belongings when their house caught fire. We are so grateful that everyone got out of the house unharmed. Now they are trying to move forward and carry on as a family from a couple of hotel rooms.  

As things stand now, the insurance company has put them up in the hotel, and is working on locating temporary housing on a more long term basis. The children's clothing needs seem to be well in the works, and they are still determining whether Gene and Jeanne's clothing are salvageable.  Gift cards to local restaurants and other stores could be helpful at this time.  If you are local to the Cumberland, MD area, items may be dropped off at Calvary Christian Academy in Cresaptown, MD.  If you are out of the area and would like more information regarding this, you may email me directly: terri_thomas128@hotmail.com.

For anyone who may be interested in helping them, their band, Longing For Eden, has set up a fund at their online store where donations can be made to assist Gene and Jeanne. The link is  http://www.longingforeden.com/store/#!/Help-Gene-and-Jeanne-Miller/p/47522109/category=0

The People of the Cross

This is an excerpt from an Ann Voskamp writing. It is relevant AND thought provoking and I wanted to share it. Only three days later, people go around with these crosses right on their foreheads.It’s only three days after the world found out that The 21 died for being The People of the Cross, three days after that incomprehensible video stated they were “chopping off the heads of those that have been carrying the cross illusion in their heads” —-that people all around the world  wear these sooty crosses right there on their faces, right above their eyes. Right there on their heads, the shaping of their minds.Like they want to be known and marked and counted as one of those. One of His.

There are these sooty crosses smudged on countless foreheads and that’s what is murmured like a brave and honest refrain around the world today, words from our Genesis beginning:Dust you are and to dust you will return. Dust. Humanity was formed of dust and our human bodies will return to dust.
Three days later people wear it like a like a courageous confession of reality: For all our beautiful bluster — we are just beautiful dust. And if I’m only dust — just my love will not be enough.If love is all we need — I’ve got a problem.Because, honest? Our love isn’t enough to absorb the evil that decapitates men’s heads, evil that rapes little girls, evil that steals and sells children as sex slaves.
There’s real active evil that’s not simply people acting — there’s real evil that’s more than a social construct, that’s more than someone’s bad choices, that’s not from any heart in this world, that’s not from any place in this world, that’s not from any mind in this world — there’s a supernatural evil that slithers into the corners of this world and pythons around hearts and minds until it strangles out the light and we scream against the dark.
At some point — your Love runs out, and You need a Love larger than your own to Love Larger than evil. The only Love that can crush undeniable evil is the undeniable love of the Cross. When you’re just dust — your love alone will not be enough.Super evil can only be absorbed by a supernatural kind of Love.
The kind of love that sings Kumbayah can’t shake a swaying candle at this kind of otherworldly evil — only an otherworldly Love that lets the hammer ring and took on the iron of the nails, that bore the weight of the world on that Cross, can torch straight through the hellish dark of this kind of evil.
Sometimes your heart can’t love— which is exactly why Jesus offers you His.
Our love will eventually fail and leave somebody outbut Cross love never fails to take all the willing in. His Love has no boundaries — and then He binds all the beloved to Him, to shape them to be like Him. And He knows the only way for your love to be transformed to be like His — is for Him to give you a heart transplant. For Him to give you His heart.
When you don’t think you can forget the evil that’s been done —When you don’t think you can forgive the evil that’s been said —When it’s His supernatural heart beating in you — it lets you supernaturally love in a heart beat. Those 21 men didn’t die for Kumbayah love — they died for the love they found on a Cross.
If evil — not people acting, but real active evil — is out to behead us, then Kumbayah love will never be enoughonly Cross Love that willing offers itself for us as a Living Ransom will rescue us.
Because don’t ever be fooled: Cross Love that lays itself down is the only power that can lay the sharp edge of an axe right into evil’s head. It comes back to me a thousand timeshow a missionary told of this snake— a snake longer than a man—that slithered its way right through their front door and straight to the kitchen.And the woman had flung outside screaming and a machete-wielding neighbor had calmly walked into her kitchen and he sliced off the head of the reptilian thing. But a snake’s neurology and blood flow make it such that it slithers wild even after it’s been sliced headless.For hours the missionary stood outside.
And the body of the snake rampaged on, thrashing hard against windows and walls, destroying chairs and table and all things home and good.A snake may wreak havoc — but it has no head. It’s really dead. Evil can go around beheading — but it’s the thing that has no head. Even if the tail still rampages, the snake’s head is crushed.
Only the undeniable love of the Cross can crush undeniable evil. Maybe now is the time that there will be countless thousands of us who we will bend our knees at the great shores of history and let ourselves be counted as The People of the Cross.On an Ash Wednesday, The People of the Cross repent of wanting to be greatly known for anything other than for loving greatly.
On an Ash Wednesday, the People of the Cross repent of a love and life that does anything less than “Love your enemies. Pray for those who persecute you.”
The People of the Cross repent of not daily, relentlessly, extravagantly loving our neighbour next door though we keep saying we want to change the world, repent of hating, avoiding, and dreading suffering though we say we want to be found worthy to suffer for the cross of Christ.
The People of the Cross repent of not dying to dead things so there can be resurrection in us of real things, 
On an Ash Wednesday, it’s happening in quiet, unseen places and churches and cubicles, this quiet bending of the knee in a thousand places today, a bending with The 21, and these murmured prayers of The People of the Cross:
God, forgive us for our lack of prayer, because the very root of our lack of growth is almost always a lack of prayer.
Forgive us for more interest in the paparazzi, motion pictures & famous personalities and People Magazine than in praying for The Persecuted Church.
Forgive us for our lavish church building plans, instead of our plans to love lavishly as a church, forgive us for not serving the outcast but serving the outcast notice to go further away... 
Forgive us for not loving our enemies otherwise known as our brothers -- and for turning those who were known as our brothers into our enemies and forgive us for wanting safe lives of comfort instead of living dangerous lives of love that speak of the comfort found in You.
On an Ash Wednesday, The People of the Cross just get down on their knees and say it through cracks in their broken hearts: 
There’s a love that murmurs on a thousand lips of The People of The Cross:
May The 21 who actually died for their faith, compel countless thousands of us to actually live
Maybe three days after, there’s a whole lot of us longing for a 40-Day journey through into something more — more than we ever have before. Maybe because the world feels more like a strange wilderness that it ever has before. Libya. Iraq. Paris. Denmark. Here.
The last seven days of global news may have CNN headlining, rightly or wrongly, as “Religion’s Week from Hell” — but the People of the Cross can look away from the headlines long enough to know:

What if 40 Days we looked to the Cross — so we might become Cross Love in a world caught in the cross hairs of war and heartache and pain?
What if we, for 40 Days, what if The People of the Cross looked to the Cross and prayed 1 Samuel 7:3 at 7:03? "If you are returning to the Lord with all your hearts, then rid yourselves of the foreign gods...and commit yourselves to the Lord and serve him only, and he will deliver you out..."
And what if for the next 40 days we prayed repentance and redemption and revival and for The Persecuted Church and for the Church that is us, praying every morning and said our Amen with 2 Chronicles 7:14 : "If My people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land."
What if we really committed to that kind of prayer for the next 40 days at 7:03? ... till 7:14?
What if the next 40 days is asking The People of the Cross to do more than Give Up something — but to Take Back something? Take Back taking up our Cross-Take Back our time so we can turn back to our First Love,
Take Back our hypocrisy and our complacency and our apathy and Love Lavishly,
Take Back our excuses for not committing to Give Back every day in some tangible, real way — to the local food bank, to a woman’s shelter, to the refugees and the foreigners and the Muslims and Hindus and Buddhists and to the forgotten neighbour next door with her meowing stray cat.
Maybe now is the time — Now is the time to Take Back what it means to humbly and genuinely live the love of The People of the Cross.

A Good Day!

    My husband, daughter and I went to the beach. On our way, Paul asked, "Did you bring towels"? I had forgotten, and instantly became upset. We were not going to swim, the water was too cold for us. We were simply walking with our feet in the water. Paul and I fussed, and each of us laid blame on the other. Then I simply said, "Lets forget it, it's done, we can do nothing about it now".
    After that, God gave us an absolutely lovely day. It was warm & sunny, but just slightly overcast. Perfect! I was even able to pull off a yearly picture of Sarah, while we were there. I drank it all in, wile thinking of the vitamin D3 & C we received from the sun. Also, the magnesium and all the minerals from the water, and the salt air that cleared up, my little bit of a cold. We returned and were inside our home just as it began to rain. I mean, it poured down the rain. We were truly blessed of God.
    So yes, we all have the occasional, forgetting of towels, rain or even snow in our lives. However, when God gives us many blessings, it's best to realize it. Then be thankful any time we have, a good day!

Sorrow like a Catholic

"Repent and believe in the Gospel." The phrase will be repeated over and over today. I always wanted guidance about fasting, and this time of year the church speaks clearly. Just in case you've wondered, here are the Catholic regulations for Lent.

1) Abstinence on all the Fridays of Lent, and on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.
  • No meat may be eaten on days of abstinence. 
  • Catholics 14 years and older are bound to abstain from meat. Invalids, pregnant and nursing mothers are exempt. 
2) Fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.
  • Fasting means having only one full meal to maintain one's strength. Two smaller, meatless and penitential meals are permitted according to one's needs, but they should not together equal the one full meal. Eating solid foods between meals is not permitted. 
  • Catholics from age 18 through age 59 are bound to fast. Again, invalids, pregnant and nursing mothers are exempt.