Saturday, November 2, 2013

Of Living Stones and Angel Wings

Today, I had the privilege of attending the service for my dear friend Kevin. It was not merely a Memorial Service, but a Celebration Service, for, with the Lord's help, he was more than a Good man. He was a GREAT man.
Kevin and Cheryl during our Mt. Hood Railroad venture.
 Someone (Karen or Betty?) mentioned that Kevin was a living stone; a memorial for those of us who knew him, and it's so true.

For those of us who knew Kevin; who watched how he lived, listened to his testimony, knew his heart, he was the best Ebenezer... memorial stone; living stone. We can look back during hard times and say - see here, this is how Kevin handled it; in stride, without complaint, even a bit like a bulldog in his tenacity. That's how he tackled his cancer diagnosis and he lived every day loving God and loving people, doing all he could to love them into the Kingdom.

In the Bible, a good example of an Ebenezer stone comes from 1 Samuel 7:12. Here it is in context, vs. 7-12, AKJV:

And when the Philistines heard that the children of Israel were gathered together to Mizpeh, the lords of the Philistines went up against Israel. And when the children of Israel heard it, they were afraid of the Philistines. And the children of Israel said to Samuel, Cease not to cry unto the Lord our God for us, that he will save us out of the hand of the Philistines. And Samuel took a sucking lamb, and offered it for a burnt offering wholly unto the Lord: and Samuel cried unto the Lord for Israel; and the Lord heard him. And as Samuel was offering up the burnt offering, the Philistines drew near to battle against Israel: but the Lord thundered with a great thunder on that day upon the Philistines, and discomfited them; and they were smitten before Israel. And the men of Israel went out of Mizpeh, and pursued the Philistines, and smote them, until they came under Beth-car. Then Samuel took a stone, and set it between Mizpeh and Shen, and called the name of it Eben-ezer, saying, Hitherto hath the Lord helped us.

The New Testament tells us that this was a picture of Christ Jesus... the first and ultimate Living Stone. We read in 1 Peter 2:2-5 (AMP):

Like newborn babies you should crave (thirst for, earnestly desire) the pure (unadulterated) spiritual milk, that by it you may be nurtured and grow unto [completed] salvation, Since you have [already] tasted the goodness and kindness of the Lord. Come to Him [then, to that] Living Stone which men tried and threw away, but which is chosen [and] precious in God’s sight. [Come] and, like living stones, be yourselves built [into] a spiritual house, for a holy (dedicated, consecrated) priesthood, to offer up [those] spiritual sacrifices [that are] acceptable and pleasing to God through Jesus Christ.

 It has been my immense blessing to know Kevin, and to know his wife, Cheryl. My life has forever been changed, for the best, because God in His wisdom placed these special and wonderful people in my life. And Kevin, who became a runner in his final years, is now racing the angels through the hallways of heaven... probably to the throne to praise his Lord and Savior, the Ultimate Living Stone, Jesus Christ.

When I wrote my post on Sunday after spending time with Cheryl, there was one detail that I didn't know: Kevin met the mortician in a Superman costume; fitting for such a wonderful man who helped draw so many to Jesus. He was always there for those around him, doing his best to remember everyone's name and need and prayer request, seeing what way he could help them. One friend mentioned that just a few months ago, Kevin was insisting on coming to help fix a plumbing issue at his house, and went under the house "just to be sure" there wasn't anything else wrong coming up the pipe... er, pike. He was like that: wanting to make sure the rest of us were prepared for what he, in his heart, already was... the day he strolled into heaven.

Or raced there.

Take your pick of the two, because either was as likely as the other.

But one thing that came to mind today was, knowing Kevin, he might have picked up the ukelele on the way and strummed it on his way past Saint Peter, simply to have an instrument to play for the King of Kings. So now, however it all really happened, Kevin is surrounded by the angels' wings, for he has flown. And I believe he can fly, because God gave me a super Superman to look up to and that man was an Ebenezer; an Ezer.

Fitting for a man who helped with the Scrooge play each year; fitting for a man whose life helped others take flight toward the Savior, and whose words inspired more than he will ever know. People he will only meet on the other side of the Gate.

So this is not goodbye. This isn't even farewell, dear Kevin. This is merely, it was wonderful having you in my life, and you will forever be in my heart, and I thank God for you, and I will see you again. I love you. Always.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

8:43 AM... Run to Glory

Today has been all about 8:43 for me.

You see, a very dear loved one, who has taught me more than I can ever put into words, died this morning. His name was Kevin. He was sweet, generous, loving, and a hard worker; he always had a hug for someone who needed one, and an open heart. And he was a runner the last couple years or so of his life.

Sixteen months ago, he was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. And for sixteen months, he fought the GOOD fight and quite literally ran the GOOD race. Most people I know don't do many runs. But Kevin? He did NINE five and ten-k runs AFTER brain surgery. The last one, he crossed the finish line with his wife, on a walker... but he MADE IT. And then, today...he ran to glory. This time, he didn't need a walker; he didn't need the assistance of people running with him to keep him steady... this time, he was able and strong and did it on his own, courageously, with a heart full of love.

At 8:43 this morning, Kevin walked into the gates of Heaven; at 8:43 this evening, I did communion to honor my God, Who made Kevin and put him in my life, and the life of this wonderful, even heroic, honorable man. He and his wife have been a second set of parents to me in more ways than I can count, for which I am thankful. And for soooo many, he was a HUGE inspiration.

So, Kevin and Cheryl... I am more than thankful for them {432, 433}. Thanks doesn't begin to cover it.

I am thankful that "I love you" were the last words he and I spoke to one another, this past Wednesday after I sent much of the day with them {434, 435}. Thankful God saw to it to place them in my life and in my heart. I don't know what my life would look like without them in it, and am glad I never had to find out. :)

I am thankful for the Christmases we've celebrated together watching the Scrooge play... that Kevin nearly single-handedly built many of the sets for {436}. Thankful to have been in their home group whenever I've been able to attend {437} and for being able to get to know and love he and his wife, and as an extension, their family.

I learned more about the love, grace, and peace of the Savior from this one man than from all others combined, in many ways. And by watching his interactions with his dear wife, I have also learned immensely much about godly relations, above and beyond what I normally see, even in the Church.

I grew up in the Church. I have never been immune to any of these things, but it has been Kevin and Cheryl God has used in my OWN life to really help some of these things hit home.

Kevin lived a life walking the keyboard of PRAISE; at 8:43 this morning, he slipped peacefully away with his wife and daughter by his side, climbed the angels' ladder (maybe you know it as Jacob's ladder...) and through the gates of heaven to the presence of our Heavenly Father. And I believe Cheryl when she said, knowing Kevin, he likely raced an angel to the throne. :) That sounds like our Kevin...

In the coming weeks and months, things will be difficult for many people who loved this wonderful man. And yet it was Christ Jesus Who made him so wonderfully... Kevin was the ultimate example of a person fully running the race set before him. He did it with a smile much of the way; even some joking along the route, even toward the end. And dear friends... that's what I pray for each of us.

Not that we die the same way, or walk the same exact route, for we are all on different walks with the Savior... but that we will all make it to see our Heavenly Father, and loved ones - such as Kevin - who have gone before us.

I told Cheryl this afternoon when I saw her, yes, he was greeted by family... but there were also people like my own grandfather who were there to greet him, too. They never knew each other on earth, but I wholeheartedly believe my Grampa Bob was there with one of the first hugs for Kevin, because the Lord knows they've both really impacted my life, and therefore one anothers' lives through time... because God lives above time and space, and the lessons I learned from both of these wonderful men have overlapped in ways only God could create. And Maggie was there... and so many people who he knew and loved, and those who know and love us who know him even if they haven't met, for you see... we are all ONE family in Jesus Christ, and that family is transcendent of time. So I hope Grampa and Kevin got a good long hug in today... two men I admire beyond words whom I love so much.

And when you and I come to our OWN time... if we are part of the body of Christ, these wonderful men will be among the great cloud of witnesses cheering us into heaven along with the angels, too... where we will see them again, and we will see our Father face to face.

So, run your own race, but... I pray you will aim to run to GLORY, like Kevin did. I'd like to see you there, whether we ever meet face to face on earth or not.

PS-- For those who are on Pinterest and know Kevin personally, I have begin a group Memory board in his memory. Kevin's board is here.

Monday, September 9, 2013

God's Hanger: Loving God, and Others Like One's Self...

There are some decisions that should be common sense, and others that our intuition tell us to move toward. But how and when is God in those decisions?  

Jeremiah 6:16 tells us
 "This is what the Lord says: “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls. But you said, ‘We will not walk in it.’"
There are times when only prayer can help us with our decisions. There are times when only God's sovereign will will do... but are those times few and far between, or for everything that might change our lives?

I recently came across a blog article from Ah, the Life that called this passion for making our own decisions decisionism.  Kelly writes, "Decisionism. The idolatry of decisionism. Men think they are going to heaven because they have judged the sincerity of their own decision."  I would say that decisionism is idolizing decision-making, and believing that if it was their decision, God must have ordained it. But is that what the Bible tells us to do?

At a crossroads, there are five differing decisions someone can make. In everyday life, there are at least this many.

You can go back the way you came, go back a different route, stand still and be stagnant, or go forward one of at least two differing ways. And often, the choices are either all wonderful or all awful, and it is a matter of choosing the one that seems best. So, how do we determine what is best, and not just best in our own eyes?

That's where the Christ comes in.

Some decisions are already mapped out for us in Scripture. Take the Ten Commandments, for example. Let's look at just one of them, in Exodus 20 you can find them all...

Verses 8-11, American Standard Version, reads: 
"Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work; but the seventh day is a sabbath unto Jehovah thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy man-servant, nor thy maid-servant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates:for in six days Jehovah made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore Jehovah blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it."
 Reading this, it shows that we are to have a day of rest each week. For many, this is either Saturday or Sunday, depending upon their faith tradition, but for those who have to work both of these days, please, don't let that be an excuse. FIND a day to rest; a day of Sabbath for yourself that you and God can both agree to. Some even do two half-days where there is no other way. But honoring God and all He has done is the reasoning behind this particular commandment. He cares enough about us to tell us, take a rest. Take a breather. Stop with striving and allow yourself to just take in My goodness and grace and rest in that.

Then, let's take the greatest commandments of loving God fully and our neighbor as ourselves. Jesus confirmed to us that all of the law and prophets hung on these two. These two commandments are like the left and right side of a hanger, and our decisions are like the clothing upon the shoulders of that hanger.

The context of Jesus' commandments is that one of the religious teachers of the law, who was attempting to trap Jesus into making a mistake that would condemn Him, came forward and asked what it would take to gain eternal life. The Amplified version says "And he replied, You must love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself." 

From The Message, let's see the story in full from Luke 10:25-37
 Just then a religion scholar stood up with a question to test Jesus. “Teacher, what do I need to do to get eternal life?”    He answered, “What’s written in God’s Law? How do you interpret it?” He said, “That you love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and muscle and intelligence—and that you love your neighbor as well as you do yourself.”     “Good answer!” said Jesus. “Do it and you’ll live.”    Looking for a loophole, he asked, “And just how would you define ‘neighbor’?”    Jesus answered by telling a story.   “There was once a man traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho. On the way he was attacked by robbers. They took his clothes, beat him up, and went off leaving him half-dead. Luckily, a priest was on his way down the same road, but when he saw him he angled across to the other side. Then a Levite religious man showed up; he also avoided the injured man.    “A Samaritan traveling the road came on him. When he saw the man’s condition, his heart went out to him. He gave him first aid, disinfecting and bandaging his wounds. Then he lifted him onto his donkey, led him to an inn, and made him comfortable. In the morning he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take good care of him. If it costs any more, put it on my bill—I’ll pay you on my way back.’    “What do you think? Which of the three became a neighbor to the man attacked by robbers?”    “The one who treated him kindly,” the religion scholar responded.   Jesus said, “Go and do the same.”
 So, going back to the analogy of the hanger, what does that mean?

If our hanger is crooked, our clothes won't sit right. If the hanger is crooked, or even missing, how will the clothing of our decision-making, and our very lives, ever be right?

The scholar had asked who his neighbor was in an attempt to lessen the number of people he would have to help, once Jesus told him that his interpretation of Scripture was indeed correct.  And so, our neighbor isn't necessarily those we would expect. Sometimes he or she is the one we least expect. But we are to seek the good of all people; not just those who are kind to us. 

Jesus tells us (Matthew 5:43-47, AMP)  
"You have heard that it was said, You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy; But I tell you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, To show that you are the children of your Father Who is in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the wicked and on the good, and makes the rain fall upon the upright and the wrongdoers [alike]. For if you love those who love you, what reward can you have? Do not even the tax collectors do that? And if you greet only your brethren, what more than others are you doing? Do not even the Gentiles (the heathen) do that?"
Similarly, in Luke 6, he tells us to not only love our enemy, but to bless them. And sometimes our neighbor is our enemy.

One way to know who is an enemy of Christ or a follower is by the fruit of their lips; and to those who are true followers, the people against Jesus the Messiah are also against them, for they are against all that the follower stands for. But we don't have the icthus anymore. Not in the way the first followers did. We have the fruit.

Luke 6: 45, ESV says "The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks."

Proverbs 13:2 (MSG) further says, "The good acquire a taste for helpful conversation; bullies push and shove their way through life." In the Amplified, it reads " A good man eats good from the fruit of his mouth, but the desire of the treacherous is for violence," and in the NRSV, it reads "From the fruit of their words good persons eat good things, but the desire of the treacherous is for wrongdoing."

All this to say... there are times when we must decide according to what we already know God would have us do, and times when we must seek His face. To not allow God to be part of our decision-making is to be disobedient, or at the least, self-willed, which goes back in a circle to disobedience anyway. And it's not easy. It can be a struggle. We want things our own way, don't we? At least some of the time?

But there are things we can do; there's a foundation we can lay that will help us stay on the hanger and not slide off. Putting God first; loving Him above others, then ourselves and others in equal turn. For we must, indeed, love ourselves in a way that is befitting a child of the King, and others in the same way. We are not to be partial, and we are not to do away with what we know is right. And by these few things, we go a long way toward correct decision-making, and thus believing that God will, indeed, direct our paths well, for He is trustworthy, even when we are not.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Friday Photo

                                      I thought I'd put flowers up for my birthday. :) Just because...

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Research and More Research

So, it's been quite a month, give or take, as I've been working on a few different books, researching and writing; editing and attending the Oregon Christian Writer's Conference. And to top it off, I've also spent hours poring over genealogical research, reading, and on Pinterest, as well, gathering ideas and inspiration along the way.


Feel free to check out my Pinterest to see what I've found. :)


I've read, oh, maybe thirty books in the time frame of a month, finished a novel, Edward's Heart, and edited it the first three times. I've begun two more writing projects, one of which is book two in the same series with E. H. and the other, unrelated, set in the garden of Eden.

I've been reading books by Susan May Warren, Leslie Gould, Tosca Lee, Francine Rivers, and a few others lately, and have done so as much for the enjoyment of the story as to study craft.


I've learned a lot about my family's history that even I hadn't found before recent days.

So, some of the more interesting things I've found include:

Annis Boudinot Stockton was one of the first published women poets in the colonies.

Two were signers of the Declaration of Independence.

One ancestor bought the land where Princeton now sits from William Penn, and used to own much of what is now that whole Princeton area. Another was the second Vice-Chancellor of Cambridge. A large part of Maryland was once owned by an ancestor, as well.

General Braddock marched right past one ancestor's house when on his way to Fort Duquesne when she was a child.

I knew there were war heroes in the midst of my ancestors, but hadn't recalled just when. At least three were in the Revolutionary War. Another was a Colonel and the Treasurer of the Province of Maryland. This same man was the (some say grand) father in law of Charles Carroll. One was a Land Captain (Captain of Militia) in the Imperial, Swedish and Bavarian Armies. Yet another was a Commissioned Lieutenant of Horse and all in that side of the family are descendants of Sir John Stockton, Esq., Lord Mayor of London from 1470-1471, who was knighted as one of 12 to pull down the assault on London by Thomas Neville, the "Bastard of Fauconberg".

One ancestor was an agent for Lord Baltimore and was closely related to him.

For several generations, and through three different lines, my family was related to that of Paris Hilton. We're the 8th generation removed from relation now.  (Just found this out today, actually. 8th through 15th generations.)

Interestingly, until today, I also thought I was related to Andy Griffith. I am, but only barely.

There are people in my ancestry from at least five different branches of the Church at large, both Catholic and Protestant. (This I already knew, but got more detail...) Many more than I thought were farmers, and a few were wool-combers; there were a number of politicians, several writers and some poets, including the one I've mentioned.

So many other things, but these were some of the more interesting highlights. Can't wait to read more on all of this and see who or what I can incorporate into novels. ;)

Friday, August 30, 2013

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Oregon Christian Writer's Conference 2013: A Life Changing Experience

So, earlier this week, I was blessed to be able to attend the Oregon Christian Writer's Conference, 2013, over on Hayden Island. It was the 50th year for the conference, and the 1st year they had the Cascade Awards, and it was a pleasure and honor to be there.

Have you ever lived within a moment when you knew without a shadow of doubt God had you there for such a time as then?

This week, that's what I experienced from Monday early afternoon through Thursday afternoon, taking coaching courses, attending workshops, and listening to keynote speaker Liz Curtis Higgs and then, on Thursday, Georgene Rice.

I can't recall when I've sensed such a wonderful fit with a group of people. There were both Oregon Christian Writers and American Christian Fiction Writers people in attendance; editors, agents, publishers, and fellow writers. It was a wonderful time, and I took in all that I was able.

 As people got to know one another and learn more about their calling, the Holy Spirit's presence was palpable and His leading was distinctively with me. I made a number of new acquaintances whom I hope will become good friends over time, and got some good critique for Edward's Heart, the first novel in a time travel romance series I have been working on.

While Edward's Heart is a finished manuscript, I'm currently in process as I continue to edit and hone it toward its end goal. Rose for Rose, the second book in this series, is already underway, as well. It is my hope that this series will be five, possibly six books. Aside from this, I am working on a text tentatively entitled Antics in 'Edhen, looking at life before The Fall. This is a fantasy book.

The feedback I received from both a mentor and an editor/ publisher was quite helpful, and I have implemented some of the suggestions they've given. I look forward to the day I submit the manuscript, for I am confident they will see great change, for the better.