Tuesday, November 30, 2010

When God is Your 911

When God is your 911, the 411 is that all things work out 828.  Romans, that is.

Exactly a year ago today, I received a phonecall from my brother that  my nephews were in a serious car accident.  One of them walked out of the hospital the same day.  The other did not.  The first seven days, we didn't know if he would ever make it out of the hospital.  The rest is HIStory -- how God used what could have been a tragic accident and turned it into a triumphant incident.

A picture may be  worth a thousand words, but this video is worth a thousand tears and ten thousand hallelujahs.

Monday, November 29, 2010

From Jimmy: On Giving Versus Getting Rid Of

(From Lessons I Learned from My Kids When I Was Supposed to Be Teaching Them)

On Giving Versus Getting Rid Of

            When Jimmy was about 8 years old, he collected  trading cards, mostly basketball cards.  There was always something about the way his eyes would light up when presented with a fresh, unopened pack of trading cards.  He would carefully PEEL the packet open, and then slowly fan the cards to see if he got a “good” one.   He would set aside the cards he deemed were “worth SO much” (mostly Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant ones) and then discard the rest of the pack into his “give to Momma’s class” stack.  He was meticulously careful about not folding corners, leaving smudge marks, and keeping his valuable cards in mint condition so as not to lose their value.
            One day, some friends we hadn’t seen in a long time came over for a visit.  Jimmy wanted so much to give something to these friends, so he asked his dad and me if we would care if he gave a gift to his friends.  We told him, no, we didn’t mind, and that he was being very thoughtful and generous.  While the grown-ups visited, the young ‘uns traded cards, and we heard squeals of delight, and Jim and I shared a secret smile, knowing Jimmy had just bestowed his gift upon his friends.
            Later, after they had left, we asked Jimmy how his gift-giving went.  He said his friends LOVED his Kobe Bryant mint condition rookie card.  HIS KOBE BRYANT MINT CONDITION ROOKIE CARD!  His dad and I saw red when we heard.  “Son, you had all these other Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan mint condition cards – triples of them!  Why didn’t you just give away the ones you had a lot of?  That was your one and only rookie card!  That was worth a lot!” I cried.
            He looked at us, puzzled.  “I know that, Mom.  That’s why I gave it,  because it was worth a lot.  If I gave them one of the other ones I had extras of, I wouldn’t have been giving a gift, I would have just been getting rid of a card.”
            Then he went back to rearranging his trading cards.

How often do we deceive ourselves into thinking we are giving to God and His cause, when all we’re really doing is getting rid of our extras?


Thursday, November 25, 2010

I Am Thankful...

...For my parents who loved Jesus enough to get me to want to love Jesus too…
...For siblings who were built-in playmates – our escapades never cease to make me smile…
...For a hero uncle who rescued a little girl…
...For a princess aunt who didn’t believe everything she heard about me, instead gently reminded me that I am loved…
...For a pastor friend who cried at the thought of not seeing me in Heaven someday, and who introduced Jesus to me; I was 10, he was…old (well at least to a ten-year-old!)…
...For a pastor’s wife who invited us to their house for lunch the first time we visited the church, and has been a great friend ever since…
...For in-laws who never saw me as a competitor for their son’s affection; rather, they see me as contributor to his success…
...For life-long friends who’ve had my back when others sought to stab it…
...For a daughter who fights for the underdog, and for her husband who fights alongside her…
…For a granddaughter whose smile lights up a room, whose laughter brightens my day, and whose hugs warm my heart…
...For a daughter who faces her fears by serving her Savior, and for her boyfriend who served beside her…
...For a son who follows his heart, and for his wife who walks beside him…
...For the boy who loved me for who I was back then, and for the man who loves me for who I am now…
...For a Savior who loved me from the start and will continue to love me without end
...For God from Whom all blessings flow.
I am thankful.

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Beauty of Grace

     One day, Jhen got grounded for not doing her chores, so she was confined to her room for the remainder of the day. It happened to be a particularly beautiful day, so Jacky and Jimmy went outside to play in our big backyard.
     While Jacky and Jimmy frolicked in the immaculately kept grass, Jhen was in her room with her face pressed against the window, watching her sister and brother as they enjoyed the freedom of the outdoors.
     “Daddy, can Jhenny come out to play?” asked Jacky.
     “She’s grounded,” replied Jim, “so she has to stay in her room.”
     “But she’s looks so sad and lonely,” observed Jacky. “Can’t you please let her out early?”
     “She didn’t do as she was asked, and she was warned. If you don’t want her to be lonely, you could always go inside and keep her company,” suggested Jim.
     “But it’s such a pretty day, Daddy. It’s a day made for playing outside! What can I do to convince you to let her come out and play?” Jacky ventured.
     “What do you suggest?” countered Jim.
     “Well, if you let her play with us today, I’ll take her place tomorrow,” Jacky offered hopefully.
     “You’re willing to be grounded tomorrow just so Jhen can play today?” asked Jim with surprise.
     “Yes, Daddy. Please, let her come out to play?” insisted Jax.
     “But Jacky, you’re supposed to go to Disneyland tomorrow with the Buskirks!” reminded Jim.
     Jacky looked back at the window where her sister was longingly watching Jimmy, and a momentary shadow crossed her face as she thought about what her dad had just said. Then, with tears in her eyes as she thought of the sacrifice she was about to make, she said, “I know, Daddy. But it’s today that I want Jhenny to come and play. So if you let her come out and play now, I’ll be grounded for her tomorrow. I won’t go to Disneyland with Heather. I’ll call her, she’ll understand.”
     Jhen got to go outside to play in the sunshine with her brother and sister, and Jacky still got to go to Disneyland with Heather and the Buskirks.

     Such is the beauty of grace.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Wonderful Grace of Jesus

Words & Music: Hal­dor Lil­le­nas, 1918  

Wonderful grace of Jesus,
Greater than all my sin;
How shall my tongue describe it,
Where shall its praise begin?
Taking away my burden,
Setting my spirit free;
For the wonderful grace of Jesus reaches me.

Wonderful the matchless grace of Jesus,
Deeper than the mighty rolling sea;
Wonderful grace, all sufficient for me, for even me.
Broader than the scope of my transgressions,
Greater far than all my sin and shame,
O magnify the precious Name of Jesus.
Praise His Name!

 Wonderful grace of Jesus,
Reaching to all the lost,
By it I have been pardoned,
Saved to the uttermost,
Chains have been torn asunder,
Giving me liberty;
For the wonderful grace of Jesus reaches me.

Wonderful grace of Jesus,
Reaching the most defiled,
By its transforming power,
Making him God’s dear child,
Purchasing peace and heaven,
For all eternity;
And the wonderful grace of Jesus reaches me.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Ten Commandments of Marriage

Ten Commandments of Marriage
Current mood: content
Category: Romance and Relationships

I wrote this for my friend Jackie about 15 years ago, and have recently found it. Thought I'd share it with all y'all.

Thou shalt have only God before each other. Your relationship to God should be the only one more important than your relationship to each other. No one else, not relatives, parents, children, nor friends, should come between the two of you.

Thou shalt not make unto thee any ideal images of each other. Accept your spouse as he or she is, not how you would want him or her to become. Let God be the One to make the changes in both of you. Don't place undue or unfair expectations on each other.

Thou shalt not take the vows you have spoken in vain. Your marriage vows are more binding than any contract you will ever sign. They are spoken before your friends, family, and your God. To take them lightly would make a mockery of what God has made holy.

Remember thy anniversary and keep it holy. Yes, holy. Holy means set apart. Each day with each other should be special, but set this day apart to remember and rekindle the fires of your early times together. What you do or give does not have to be expensive, it just has to come from the heart.

Honor thy spouse's mother and father. Remember, anyone who could love your spouse as much as you do can't be all that bad! Keep them in your prayers, as God will use them to give you wise counsel just as He would use your own parents.

Thou shalt not kill thy spouse's self-confidence. Words spoken carelessly can kill motivation or confidence. Instead, choose your words wisely so that you may build and lift each other up. Then back up your words with actions that show how special you think your spouse is.

Thou shalt not steal time from each other. Your time spent together is special and you must guard it carefully. Do not let the matters of the world take away from your joy in each other.

Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy spouse. Put-downs and insults, even in jest, can wound deeply. Instead give well-deserved praise and avoid criticism. Remember that "constructive criticism" rarely is. Speak highly of your spouse to others, and the only person who should hear your complaints about your spouse is your spouse.

Thou shalt not covet thy spouse's triumphs. Instead rejoice in your spouse's every accomplishment. Marriage is not a competition, it is a commitment for better or for worse!

Thou shalt not commit adultery. End of discussion.

JoAnn Hammer

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

I've Got the Blues

 I'm feelin' blue.

Have you ever seen the ocean when it is calm and absent of whitecaps? When it is dark, dark blue, shimmering with the light from the sun as it peeks over the horizon at sunrise, with the promise of a bright, new day? That kind of blue.

Have you ever seen the sky from 7000 feet, free from smog created by man? When it is clear, dark blue, with not a speck of clouds, not a hint of storm, fresh with the promise of peace? That kind of blue.

Have you ever looked in someone's eyes when there's no one else but the two of you? When those eyes are deep, dark blue, full of laughter, love, and life with the promise of friendship? That kind of blue.

Thank you, Lord, for the blues.