Thursday, January 31, 2008

Good News!

I spoke to my Mom tonight and she sounds great. The tests came back negative for anything bad (her heart is in good shape, no pneumonia etc.) and the doctor thinks her asthma is allergy-related, so she has to investigate getting allergy shots. The drugs they gave her to help her breathe cleared up her lungs.

I found out that when my sister and I were little, my mom gave up getting allergy shots so my sister could have them. My parents couldn't afford the copays for both my mom and my sister getting the shots so Mom went without! The love of a mother...

Please continue to pray that the doctors will rule EVERYTHING bad out that they can and that she will get excellent treatment for what is actually wrong. It was a blessing of encouragement to be able to talk to her to HEAR that she was OK.

After talking to my Dad, I really started to worry that God was going to take my Mom away from me. I've talked to God about such a situation before, as if I could bargain with Him and I told Him, "OK God. I see you are messing with this stuff in my life over here (taking people away, living through car accidents, the deaths of other people I'm close to, the deaths of pets that are akin to family) and I can live a wounded life, if you will only not take my parents, or my sister etc."

A tape of all the crappy stuff that has happened in my life this last year plays in my head.

(Stream of consciousness....)
(Thinking) It could be cancer (what her Mom died of around her age), etc. GOD IS GOING TO TAKE HER AWAY FROM YOU.

FREAK OUT! God for the outcome no matter what. Talked to friends, had impromptu dinner at my house. Good things...

Talked to Mom and know she is going to be OK...relief.
(End of stream of consciousness writing)

No matter how much I love my parents, one day I'm going to be separated from them in death and who knows who'll die first. It could be me. The thing's not my job to sustain them, it's the Lord's and they are His and he gets to decide when He wants to bring them home. They're not going to live one day longer than He wills it, just as I won't live past the time of His desire. It's comforting to know that God is in control, though at times disconcerting that I am not.

Prayer for My Mom

I have a prayer request for my Mom, Jeri. She has been having difficulty breathing lately, and the doctors are doing tests to determine if it is symptomatic of her allergies and asthma, or if it's something more ominous. I just called home today to say hello and talk with my parents, and Dad said mom was in the hospital, preparing to be discharged after a 24 hour period of observation. (This was a surprise)

Mom went to the doctor yesterday because her breathing problems were getting more pronounced. He sent her to the hospital and she had a stress test, and they took some imaging and gave her meds to help her breath. After the observation they are sending her home with more medication. I am waiting until she gets home to call her and see how she is doing. By that time, Dad will have left for work.

Please pray that the doctors will have wisdom to correctly diagnose her condition and appropriately medicate her if necessary. Please pray that we will all trust the Lord for his will in these circumstances and that we will honor him in our response.

It's Thursday afternoon as I write.


Monday, January 28, 2008

School 1967 vs. School 2007

This is an email I received recently.

School 1967 vs. School 2007

Scenario: Jack goes quail hunting before school, pulls into school parking lot with shotgun in gun rack.

1967 - Vice principal comes over, looks at Jack's shotgun, goes to his car and gets his own shotgun to show Jack.
2007 - School goes into lockdown, the FBI is called, Jack is hauled off to jail and never sees his truck or gun again. Counselors are called in to assist traumatized students and teachers.

Scenario: Johnny and Mark get into a fistfight after school.

1967 - Crowd gathers. Mark wins. Johnny and Mark shake hands and end up buddies.
2007 - Police are called, SWAT team arrives and arrests Johnny and Mark. They are charged with assault and both are expelled even though Johnny started it.

Scenario: Jeffrey won't sit still in class, disrupts other students.

1967 - Jeffrey is sent to the principal's office and given a good paddling. Returns to class, sits still and does not disrupt class again.
2007 - Jeffrey is given huge doses of Ritalin. Becomes a zombie. Tested for ADD. School gets extra state funding because Jeffrey has a disability.

Scenario: Billy breaks a window in his neighbor's car and his Dad gives him a whipping with his belt.

1967 - Billy is more careful next time, grows up normal, goes to college, and becomes a successful businessman.
2007 - Billy's dad is arrested for child abuse. Billy is removed to foster care and joins a gang. State psychologist tells Billy's sister that she remembers being abused herself and their dad goes to prison. Billy's mom has an affair with the psychologist.

Scenario: Mark gets a headache and takes some Aspirin to school.

1967 - Mark shares Aspirin with the school principal out on the smoking dock.
2007 - Police are called and Mark is expelled from School for drug violations. His car is searched for drugs and weapons.

Scenario: Pedro fails high-school English.

1967 - Pedro goes to summer school, passes English, goes to college.
2007 - Pedro's cause is taken up by local human rights group. Newspaper articles appear nationally explaining that making English a requirement for graduation is racist. US Civil Liberties Association files class action lawsuit against state school system and Pedro's English teacher. English is banned from core curriculum. Pedro is given his diploma anyway but ends up mowing lawns for a living because he cannot speak English.

Scenario: Johnny takes apart leftover Independence Day firecrackers, puts them in a model airplane paint bottle and blows up an anthill.

1967 - Ants die.
2007 - Homeland Security and the FBI are called and Johnny is charged with domestic terrorism. teams investigate parents, siblings are removed from the home, computers are confiscated, and Johnny's dad goes on a terror watch list and is never allowed to fly again.

Scenario: Johnny falls during recess and scrapes his knee. His teacher, Mary, finds him crying, and gives him a hug to comfort him.

1967 - Johnny soon feels better and goes back to playing.
2007 - Mary is accused of being a sexual predator and loses her job. She faces three years in federal prison. Johnny undergoes five years of therapy.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

In the Valley

When you're in the valley, things get pretty dark. I've walked in the valley before, surviving my own losses, walking through desserts, and living through thirsty times in my life. The Lord God will provide, and we are trusting him to do so now.

Thank you for your continued prayers for our family.

That being's life with you and yours?

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The Rise and Fall of Democracy (Addendum)

My friend Eric sent me a link to snopes on my piece dated January 9, 2008 that was taken from the internet email on the fall of democracy. Follow the link to get the we feared, the majority of it is fabricated.

Thanks Bro! I appreciate your feedback and knowledge. Keep it coming!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

A Problem with Judgment

I am so glad that the nature of God and his existence does not depend on the ideological whims of His creation. Our self-guided culture has adopted this non-judgemental, "I'm OK, You're OK" mentality and like every other area of our lives (sexual orientation, morality etc.) it is also being applied to our relationships with the being everyone calls "the man upstairs."

If you do not adopt the mentality that "God is who you want to make him and no one has the right to judge your beliefs," then you are considered judgemental and biased. "God is who you want him or her to be!" shouts the world. "Whatever floats your boat." Who am I to criticize?!

If you don't believe that scripture is the divinely-inspired, inerrant Word of God, then there is no basis or manual on who God is or on how we should live. To each his is his own god.

The problem with the judgement "I'm OK, You're OK" is that we're not OK. We're all sinful and have fallen short of God's glory and we all deserve death. The world does not want to admit that's the case, and has come up with it's own, feel-good mentality and scale of morally acceptable behavior by which to pass judgement on one another. No one wants to think they are bad enough that they deserve eternity in Hell.

When "Anything goes!" or "What works for you is good as long as it doesn't hurt anyone else" (fetuses excluded), and "DO YOUR THANG!" are the mottoes by which we judge life, then morality is thrown out the window. We still draw the line at some behaviors that are considered immoral, but for how long?

You can see the moral decline of our nation in every aspect of our culture; in the prevalence of adult novelty stores, the public promotion (Internet, radio, TV sitcoms) of pornography as a natural urge to fulfill, the lax censorship of cuss words in TV, and the relaxed criteria of movie ratings. Adult material is now found earlier and earlier in the TV programming schedule, available when children are awake and can still inadvertently come across it. You can now even listen to uncensored satellite radio (i.e. Sirius etc.).

Our culture has adopted the philosophy of Realism. It's as if Hollywood is saying, "This is what's happening in high schools and in the lives of teenagers, so let's address it in TV episodes." Sex sells! Gay relationships sell! (see the TV program: Degrassi High, the Next Generation) You can see the acceptance of homosexual behavior as each state individually makes the decision to allow gay marriage, and in the classrooms as same-sex couples are promoted as, "just another kind of family."

Tolerance is a subtle poison.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

The Rise and Fall of Democracy...

I don't know how historically or factually accurate this is, but it's an interesting read. The following is an email I received about the rise and fall of democracy. It makes you wonder how much more time we will enjoy living in a democractic nation.

"About the time our original thirteen states adopted their new constitution in 1787, Alexander Tyler, a Scottish history professor at the University of Edinburgh, had this to say about the fall of the Athenian Republic some 2,000 years earlier: 'A democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government.'

'A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always vote for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse due to loose fiscal policy, which is always followed by a dictatorship.'

'The average age of the world's greatest civilizations from the beginning of history, has been about 200 years. During those 200 years, those nations always progressed through the following sequence:
1. From bondage to spiritual faith;
2. From spiritual faith to great courage;
3. From courage to liberty;
4. From liberty to abundance;
5. From abundance to complacency;
6. From complacency to apathy;
7. From apathy to dependence;
8. From dependence back into bondage'

"Professor Joseph Olson of Hemline University School of Law, St. Paul, Minnesota, points out some interesting facts concerning the 2000 presidential election:

'Number of States won by:
Gore: 19
Bush: 29

'Square miles of land won by:
Gore: 580,000
Bush: 2,427,000

'Population of counties won by:
Gore: 127 million
Bush: 143 million

'Murder rate per 100,000 residents in counties won by:
Gore: 13.2
Bush: 2.1'

"Professor Olson adds: 'In aggregate, the map of the territory Bush won was mostly the land owned by the taxpaying citizens of this great country. Gore's territory mostly encompassed those citizens living in government-owned tenements and living off various forms of government welfare...'

"Olson believes the United States is now somewhere between the 'complacency and apathy phase' of Professor Tyler's definition of democracy, with some forty percent of the nation's population already having reached the 'governmental dependency phase'."

If Congress grants amnesty and citizenship to twenty million criminal invaders called illegal and they vote, then we can say goodbye to the USA in fewer than five years.

Apathy is the greatest danger to our freedom.

Full of conjecture and broad sweeping generalizations...but never-the-less, an interesting and thought provoking argument and evidence (if the facts are in fact...factual).

Quarterback for the Packers

In a news conference Deanna Favre announced she will be the starting QB for the Packers next year. Deanna asserts that she is qualified to be the starting QB because she has spent the past 16 years married to Brett while he played QB for the Packers. During this period of time she became familiar with the definition of a corner blitz, and is now completely comfortable with other terminology of the Packers offense. A survey of Packers fans shows that 50% of those polled supported the move.

Does this sound idiotic and unbelievable to you? Well, Hillary Clinton makes the same claims as to why she is qualified to be President and 50% of Democrats polled agreed. She has never run a City, County, or State.

When told Hillary Clinton has experience because she has eight years in the white house, Dick Morris stated, "so has the pastry chef".

Monday, January 7, 2008

When There's a Funeral

When there's a funeral, what do you end up thinking about? I'm not talking about your opinion on the flowers or how one of the mourners in particular was inappropriately dressed, or how good the sermon was at the service...I'm talking about your own introspective thoughts and your ponderings on the meaning of your life.

What does God think about the way I live my life? Have I really been trying to live for Him? Have I committed my way to the Lord and am I continuing to trust him to take care of me? Do I tell my friends and loved ones that I love them? Do I go out of my way to invite people over for dinner or coffee or to build friendships with the people in my life? Do I regularly make the effort to take the opportunities I have to glorify God?

All these questions and more have been swimming through my head the last couple of days since my friend died Dec. 31, 2007. Nina died, in the way that she died, in the time that she died, to bring glory to her heavenly Father. And she did! I looked around that church sanctuary that was packed with people and I thought, if I died today and went to be the Lord, would people mourn my passing to this degree? I was trying to gage my effectiveness for the kingdom of God, and you know what, there may be attendees at my funeral, but I would not draw the same number of people to my own funeral that Nina drew that day. I have not been living my life to the fullest for the kingdom of God.

Let's examine the evidence shall we? I live a relatively sequestered life. I keep my church committments to the bare minimum. I rarely have anyone over to our house for dinner. I've stopped volunteering to host small group at our house (because I have to cook and clean), and I don't make it a habit to go to the evening church service or to prayer meeting. I'm not involved in any extra curricular church activities or groups and I can't remember the last time I read my Bible outside of church. We haven't tithed since my husband took over managing the finances and we don't financially support a single missionary! I'm going to hell...not really, but I'm such a sinner!

Freakin' Out!

Today was back-to-boot-camp day. I was a little overwhelmed emotionally when I arrived at boot camp this morning. I had to have my blood pressure taken as part of the requirements for the experience. For the first time in my blood pressure was high (145/84). I had it rechecked at lunch and it was 124/82 or something like that, still high, but lower than it was. I'm usually around 120/80.

On the way to get my blood pressure rechecked at lunchtime, I started thinking back over the last few months to September and about memorable life events that have taken place since then and why, pray tell I may be experiencing high BP and I came to realize... A whole lotta stuff has been happening, and I haven't really stopped to consider it all, until now.

For the past several months I have been fretting about a number of things:

From September to December I was taking two classes and working full time.

In October I was in my second car accident on my husband's birthday, (the first happened almost a year ago to the day).

In November, I ran my first 5K race and graduated from my first session of boot camp.

Also in that month, my husband was layed off right before Thanksgiving and he's still looking for a job. Thankfully, he can collect unemployment.

Since August we have concertedly been trying to conceive and have been unsuccessful to date (but I've been off BC for years). My sister in law had her first baby on December 27th.

Mid December the first Christmas credit card bill arrived.

December 31st, a friend passed away after a long illness. Compound all this with job and marriage stress, the inability to conceive, and a five pound weight gain and you arrive at today! How am I doing? I'm ready to freak out and faint. Oh, Did I mention my Aunt Flow came to town this morning?

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Sitting with the Pain

"Sometimes you have to sit with the pain." That's a paraphrase from my friend Abigail. We spoke the other day on the occasion of a passing of a mutual friend, Nina Wells Johnson. When someone you love dies, there is a hole in your life, and nothing else will ever exactly fill that hole again. There is pain when that hole forms, and there is nothing you can do to prevent it from happening, you just have to live through it. With time, the pain lessens and life moves on. But not today.

Today, Jeff and I attended Nina's funeral along with a myriad of friends and family.

It was a beautiful celebration of her life. People packed the church to overflowing. Nina's husband Tim is a police officer. Tim's brothers and sisters in blue came to support him. They all gave up their seats and stood at the back of the sanctuary throughout the entire service so that others would have a place to sit.

People gave testimonies of how Nina touched their lives, we watched two different slideshow presentations with pictures throughout her life, and we heard a tribute to Nina from her husband read by a realtive of her husband's family. It was bittersweet.

We also sang worship choruses. Pastor Lou Curcio gave a wonderful sermon on how one could have a relationship with Jesus just as Nina had. He spoke of a relationtional God, one who desires to reconcile us to himself, who died so that we could live with him in eternity.

Mercifully, God took Nina home to be with Himself and her pain is over. Ours is beginning and will last awhile, but God is with us and He will help us all overcome the pain. For now, we will grieve her loss and celebrate her homegoing.

Our prayers are with the Wells and Johnson families.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

San Francisco Tiger Attack, The Aftermath

Take four punk kids, add a tiger from the San Franciso zoo enclosed in a sub-par enclosure and you get one dead teenager and one dead tiger. These kids likely taunted and provoked this tiger and the zoo will probably be sued.

Interesting things to note:

Four boys matching the "victims" descriptions were seen taunting the lions at that zoo just prior to the tiger attack.

The boys involved in this incident have been in trouble with the police before and were belligerant to the police.

The 67-year old wall in question in the tiger enclosure has not been breached before and no one told the zoo they needed to increase the height of their wall to keep the exhibit in use.

There was a shoe print found on the railing of the exhibit.

Witnesses say the boys may have been roaring at the tigers and possibly provoking them to action.

Tigers are wild animals. The boys were invading their turf and threatening their space. Stupid is as stupid does and nature bites back. Unfortunately for the zoo, if they are going to keep lethal animals they have to protect the public, despite how young and potentially stupid they may be. Both the boys and the zoo underestimated the nature and capabilities of a tiger.

Where are the video cameras capturing what happened?

Tiger attack: Zoo’s fault?Dec. 28: The director of the San Francisco Zoo is now saying that the wall is 12.5 feet deep, about 4 feet shorter than the recommended height. NBC’s Peter Alexander reports.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

The Kindle by Amazon

Check this's like ITunes for books. Meet the Kindle by Download up to 200 books and take them with you in one device instead of lugging a book bag around. I can see these being handy devices for the future for students in school. Great concept. Price $399.00 plus a long waiting list. It's first generation technology so I think I'll wait to buy one until they work out the bugs and the price drops!

Perseverance Produces Powerful Peculiarities

There's a new movie in theatres starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman. You may have heard about it. It's called "The Bucket List." This movie is on my list of movies I want to see and I'll tell you why. It's because it's an emotional drama and what hot mama don't want a little drama now and then?

But looks good. Check out this link.

Plot summary: two old guys meet and decide to fulfill some dreams before they kick the bucket. It's a movie about seizing the day. Carpe Diem (per Dead Poets' Society, Thank you Robin Williams).

As a self-admitted "People Pleaser," the older I get, I too care less about what other people think. I can't be responsible for the reactions of other people, I can only be responsible for my own actions and provocations.

What follows is a select list of other things I have discovered about myself and life in general as I get older.

I don't like to be micro-managed.

I like deadlines and people who stick to them.

People can look at the same situation from different perspectives and see different things and have separate reactions.

Rain falls on the just and the unjust.

"Thrifty" I admire, but "Cheap?" Never!

Everything that draws breath on this earth will one day be worm food. Carpe Diem. Gather ye rosebuds while ye may.

If I'm on vacation and I have the opportunity to do something new and adventurous, I'll JUST DO IT! I may never get a second chance.

I've also learned that no one is "cut out for marriage." Everyone has to work at it. Marriage is work, not a fairy tale. You will have what I like to call "loud fellowship" with your husband or wife (arguments).

Can I get an Amen?

The Sovreignty of God

Sometimes events happen in our lives and we don't know why or understand how God can allow them to happen.

There is death in a "fallen world." When Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden, death followed. The time and method of our death is orchestrated by a just and loving God. He calls us all home each in our own time for reasons and because of circumstances often only apparent to Himself.

He is God and we are not, so we have a choice to trust in His will and to say "Let it be done," or to stay angry and bitter and to turn our backs on Him. We can also to choose not to believe in God at all.

I have trusted Him and then, at times I have also been bitter. I find myself struggling and wrestling with the reason and justification behind the circumstances of a negative event. Sometimes it is not for me to know the reason why, only to trust in God.

As a sinful human, with human emotions and limited spiritual eyesight, I like to know that a sacrifice is justified rather than to trust that it serves a divine purpose. Such a reaction is part of grief and part of being human.

Grief is a natural process following a loss. There are even stages of grief that someone can recycle through over years of grief:

Denial: “This can’t be happening to me.”
Anger: “Why is this happening? Who is to blame?”
Bargaining: “Make this not happen, and in return I will ____.”
Depression: “I’m too sad to do anything.”
Acceptance: “I’m at peace with what is going to happen/has happened.”

"There is no timetable for grief." I have learned that a new wave of grief can wash over you at different times in your life, but that you don't necessarily experience all of these stages again. We must wrestle with unbelief, anger and sadness and run the gauntlet of inevitable emotions each in our own turn.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Nina's Homegoing

Dear Praying Friends,
Nina went home to be with the Lord on New Year's Eve. Please pray for her family as they grieve at this time. Her obit. follows:

Nina Wells Johnson, 28, of Perkasie, died Dec. 31, 2007 in Temple University Hospital in Philadelphia and went home to be with the Lord following a long term illness. The beloved wife of Timothy A. Johnson, the couple observed their 8th wedding anniversary on December 11. She was a loving mother to Marie Lynn - 7, Ally Elizabeth - 5 and Dakota Jennifer Johnson - 2.

Born in Narragansett, RI, she was the third child born to Pastor Howard N. and Meta (Steward) Wells of Perkasie. She graduated from Christopher Dock High School in 1998.

Nina's passion was her children and her family. She was a member of Bethany Bible Fellowship Church where she served in various capacities, in spite of her illness.

Surviving, in addition to her husband, daughters and parents are her siblings, Rachel Schwartz and her husband, Jonathan, of Hatfield; Nathan Wells and his wife, Michelle and Laura Wells, all of Perkasie; her paternal grandmother, Phyllis Wells of Perkasie and maternal grandfather, Robert Steward of Southern Pines, NC.

Additional survivors include her parents-in-law, Dean and April Johnson of Franconia Twp.; sister-in-law, Dianna McGarry and her husband, Declan of Jenkintown; two nieces, Madison Wells and Delaney McGarry and three nephews, Deryk, Dylan and Daniel McGarry.

She was preceded in death by her paternal grandfather, Richard J. Wells and maternal grandmother, Nina P. Steward.

Relatives and friends are invited to attend her Celebration Service Sat., Jan. 5, 2008 at 11 A.M. in Bethany Bible Fellowship Church, 75 W. Broad St., Hatfield, PA 19440. Interment will follow in Trinity Lutheran Cemetery, Perkasie. Friends may greet the family in the Huff & Lakjer Funeral Home, Lansdale Friday between 7 and 9 P.M. and at church Sat. 9:30 to 10:30 A.M. In lieu of flowers, donations in Nina's memory may be made to either Johnson Children Welfare Trust, sent c/o Bethany Bible Fellowhip Church at the above address or to Bethany Bible Fellowship Building Fund, address above.