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.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Food For Thought

What is the evidence of our fear? Obedience.
What is the benefit of our obedience? Wisdom. - Angie Smith

We own in the present what is not yet. - Bill Johnson
Who we truly are and were meant to be is evidenced more by our yearnings than by our history. - Gary A. Haugen
People who walk in revival culture walk in signs and wonders and the prophetic. They do all the stuff that Jesus did when He walked this planet. - Beni Johnson
The thing about vision is that sometimes we get a bigger picture than we can handle all at one time. Sometimes, God gives us a glimpse of the possibilities, but it isn't all for right now. But because of that, we make the mistake of thinking that none of it is for right now. We act as if the mere possession of a dream is the end of our responsibility. - Glenn Packiam
Our joy and thanksgiving cannot be shaken if they are rooted in the character of God and our rich fellowship with him. - Leroy Eims
We usually thing of the will of God as something static - fixed and unchangeable.... The element missing in our understanding of this subject is our role in the unfolding of His will. - Bill Johnson
When you think, you change your brain. When you think according to your own unique sequence, walking in your gift, you change the brain in an ever-positive direction. - Caroline Leaf

You have the power over your life, to do well or do evil to yourself and to your family. - Kim Clement

It's not by sheer will that we will become brave. It takes reformation of the heart. God doesn't call us to try to be brave but to train to be brave. - Gary A. Haugen

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Food For Thought

Faith begins where the will of God is known. - Kenneth Hagin Sr.

Faith is not something you have to get. It’s something that you, as a born-again child of God, already have. Act on it by releasing it to God. That’s when your healing starts! - Oral Roberts

The more I think about it, the more I realize there is nothing more artistic that to love others. - Vincent Van Gogh

We ought to live every day as though we’ve come out of another world into this world — but with the power of that world still upon us. We should live and speak and move in that power, and have our whole being in Jesus Christ! - John Wesley

Tradition is the thief of power. There is no area of our lives where that theft is more evident than in the area of divine healing. - Rod Parsley

The power of God will take you out of your own plans and put you into the plan of God. - Smith Wigglesworth

The assurance of every truth of Scripture is just the beauty of it. First, because He has promised to do it; and God’s promises are bonds that never yet were dishonored. Secondly, because Christ Jesus hath taken an oath that He will do it. - Charles Spurgeon

At Calvary, there was a great healing transfer where the responsibility for healing was switched from God giving it, to you receiving it. - Rod Parsley

Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow; it empties today of its strength. - Corrie ten Boom

The language of faith is crucial because it affords human beings the privilege of intimacy with the ultimate. - Michael Eric Dyson

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Food For Thought

Faith is what makes life bearable, with all its tragedies and ambiguities and sudden, startling joys. - Madeline L'Engle

Faith is putting all your eggs in God's basket, then counting your blessings before they hatch. - Ramona C. Carroll

Faith is the quiet cousin of courage. - Judith Hanson Lasater

Faith is confidence in the veracity of what God has said. - Larry Huggins

Faith enables persons to be persons because God is God. - Carter Lindberg

How can one come to possess great faith? Now listen, here is the answer to that: First, the blade, then the ear, then the full corn in the ear. Faith must grow by soil, moisture, and exercise. - Smith Wigglesworth

Weave in faith and God will find the thread. - Unknown

Faith draws the poison from every grief, takes the sting from every loss, and quenches the fire of every pain; and only faith can do it. -Josiah Gilbert Holland

Every encounter is an opportunity to show how true faith is lived out in daily life. - John O. Eby

I am not moved by what I see. I am not moved by what I feel. I am moved only by what I believe. - Smith Wigglesworth                                     **THIS one is a favorite of mine!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Welcome to the World, Prince George

As nearly everyone who has television, internet, or ready access to newspapers or magazines knows by now, the family royal of the British monarchy welcomed a new member into their folds this week when Kate Middleton and Prince William's adorable little 8lb, 6oz son, whose name had now been released, was born at 4:24 UK time on the 22nd. And the moniker for the little tyke? His Royal Highness George Alexander Louis; His Royal Highness Prince George of Cambridge.

The royal baby. Photo from RIA Novosti.

Memorabilia. Photo from baynews9.
 Quite a mouthful, in some ways, isn't it? But it's fitting, too. All bets others have made who have won or lost money aside (a sad state of affairs right there), it was not too surprising, although I had known in my heart Louis would likely be part of his nomen. (It's a Latinate name for Ludwig.) Just not for the reason the Shine! staffer whose article I read - or her source from Nameberry -mentioned. A lovely tribute, though, to a man gone before his time.

An admission I'd like to make, though, is that while I had a sense in the wee hours of last evening that Louis was to be part of this young babe, this young royal's name, part of me secretly hoped either Philip - after his grandfather -  or Edward - a name King James II was highly fond of, and the name of a great uncle - would also be chosen. This was obviously not so, but still... George Alexander Louis is a good chosen name, fit for a king but also wonderful in itself.

In fact, turn it around a little, and it was the name of a fairly famous British author of ESL texts, of all things -  Louis George Alexander.

That George is also the name of the Patron Saint of England is likely no coincidence, in that the royals are finally back on the upswing in popularity in their territories.You can learn a bit about what his life possibly was like, here. (I say possibly due to the fact that little is known of him)

Icon. St. George. St. George Antiocian Orthodox Church.
Your Royal Highness, Prince George... welcome to the world. You've got a big name, and even bigger shoes to potentially fill... but for now, just be the cute little baby people adore and don't worry about your destiny or the dreams others may put on you until you have to!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Food For Thought

The smallest seed of faith is better than the largest fruit of happiness. - Henry David Thoreau

Love, we say, is life; but love without hope and faith is agonizing death. - Elbert Hubbard

Faith comes alive when the Word read from the page becomes the Word heard in your heart. - Rex Rouis

Faith is believing that God is going to take you places before you even get there. - Matthew Barnett

You get faith by studying the Word. Study that Word until something in you “knows that you know” and that you do not just hope that you know. - Carrie Judd Montgomery

Fear clogs; faith liberates. - Elbert Hubbard

Liberty cannot be established without morality, nor morality without faith. - Alexis de Tocqueville

Faith is like radar that sees through the fog. - Corrie ten Boom

Not prayer without faith, nor faith without prayer, but prayer in faith, is the cost of spiritual gifts and graces.- Henry Clay Trumbull

Faith is courage; it is creative while despair is always destructive. - David S. Muzzey

Sunday, July 21, 2013

So, Tonight, Campmeeting Began...

Tonight was the beginning of Campmeeting, which I've been looking forward to for a while now. But was I there? well... sort of.

I was on premises, to be sure; said some hellos, but was I in service. I must admit, I was not. Instead, I was doing some research on kings, cats, rosaries, saints, and horses. And chatting with a friend of mine some online... getting two sentences of the book I'm working on finished, but that's alright, because once I got research finished, now I can go back over notes, and I alredy have a few more pages done since leaving after 9 this evening.

It didn't hurt my feelings that I was also able to go to The Grotto for a while in the earlier hours; not anything upstairs, at the top of the elevator yet, but a good time on the main level. For those not in the know, it's one of the most gorgeous places I've been to in Oregon. If you're in or will be in Portland, please, check it out. It's really wonderful. I'd wanted to go for years, and just hadn't until now, and am so glad I did WHEN I did.

I started out at church, of course... but one of the people who I was with was having a difficult time with some aspect of what was occurring, and so we meandered our way to The Grotto and I, for one, had a blast. Not only is it beautiful; not only is it breathtakingly awesome in how it is set up, and filled with God's Presence, my feelings weren't hurt in that I was able to do research even while there...

So, tonight was Campmeeting opening. I look forward to a lot of the rest, and to what is in store. And I look forward to what I get written during the week, as well...

You all have a great night!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Photographic Book Recommendations

Outrageous Courage. Kris and Jason Vallatton.
Photos from unless specified.
The Gift in You. Dr. Caroline Leaf.
Who Switched Off My Brain? Dr. Caroline Leaf.
The Happy Intercessor by Beni Johnson
Bill Johnson's Dreaming With God
The Supernatural Power of a
Transformed Mind by Bill Johnson
The Seer, by Jim Goll
Hosting the Presence, Bill Johnson
RC Sproul, Jr's The Call to Wonder
I AM: Inheriting the Fullness of God's Names
John Paul Jackson
Christine Caine's Undaunted
Mark Batterson, The Circle Maker
Soul Surfer by Bethany Hamilton
Kevin and Chad Dedmon's The Risk Factor
Living on the Edge, Chip Ingram
Spiritual Rhythm by Mark Buchanan
Blessed Be Your Name, by Matt and Beth Redman
Perfect Trust, Charles Swindoll

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

100th Post... of Wing-Wind and Raspberries

So, it's berry-picking season, and, of course, I've been doing my share of picking. This morning was one of those times...

Raspberries this morning. I have been alternating between blueberries and raspberries, and because of the possibility of rain, I was helping someone I know out with getting the raspberries indoors so they wouldn't be ruined.
Representational. From
Now, other kinds of berries have been pretty easy to come by, but it is mostly these two types I have been picking this year, since I know someone who has quite a bit of them. And this morning, as I was picking, the briars plucking at my hair and clothes, I had a somewhat unexpected visitor.

Have you ever had a bird fly so close to you in it's wing-wind gusted right past you... so close you could feel the back-breeze and even, yes, some of the feathers as the bird soared past on the way elsewhere?

Well, this morning, that was part of my experience. And it got me thinking about the interactions between people and nature, and between varying people in life.

I'm pretty used to bees, ladybugs, dragonflies,butterflies, and even a variety of spiders and other creepy-crawly critters as I go berry picking. And I'm even used to birds flitting about. What I'm NOT used to is just how close this bird got, and how unafraid it was.

Squirrels, even chickens, I'm used to having get that close. But I think this may have been a finch. She jetted past so quickly, it was hard to tell for sure.

In the book of Genesis, we were called to cultivate, subdue, and take care of the earth and the animals therein. And that is one of the first things that came to mind once I figured out for sure hat had occurred - three times, this bird whizzed past, closer each time. It was pretty cool!

So, as I picked my raspberries and pondered the wind-wing of a tiny, beautiful bird too fast for me to really see, I began to wonder about other things.

What does being a cultivator and subduer of the earth look like, today?

For one, I believe that means we are to take care of the resources around us. We are to help guide others, but also nature. If we don't take care of it... if we don't take care of others... who will?

And in some ways that is what Journey to a Thousand Voices is for. If I am photographing the world around me, while taking time to listen to the stories of others, in some ways, I am cherishing the resources. I am cultivating relationships which can therein cultivate learning and growth within you, my readers. I am sharing the beauty of the world, which helps me, and therein also my readers... my blog followers... to better appreciate the blessings we have been gifted with that so many of us sometimes take for granted.

So, I will continue to ponder the wing-wing moment of earlier today and what I can learn from it. I will continue to ponder how the world around me... the people around me... all affect one another. We all affect each other, for good or evil. We affect the earth and environment similarly. It is all CHOICE.

My Dream of a Journey

Whether you’re a professor, photographer, pear grower, or porcelain expert… a surgeon or a sturgeon fisherman… Whether you deliver babies, speeches, or pizzas… design homes, hotels, hardware, or hoagie sandwiches… Whether you’re a member of Aerosmith, SixxAM, Audio Adrenaline, Sixpence None the Richer, the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir, or your local marching band… everyone has a story. So whether you’re passionate about sports, music, entertainment, finances, social services, your church, synagogue, or family, Journey to a Thousand Voices is all about people JUST like you! And it’s FOR people just like you.

Everyone has been through something… a trial of some sort. Everyone has to decide at some point what they truly believe in, and what is important to them. This project, Journey to a Thousand Voices, is all about helping people come to deeper realizations about who they are, Whose they are, and what they believe. It’s about learning from the experiences of others, and how we come to believe what we do. So, whether you have a story of overcoming insurmountable odds, of finding strength in weakness, of coming to a major ah-ha moment in your life… Journey to a Thousand Voices may also be an opportunity for you to share YOUR voice.

Hello there, friends, family, and blog readers from around the globe... as many of you know, my name is Harmony, and I have a dream. It’s a simple yet profound dream, really: travel to spend time with a minimum of 1000 people in as many places as I am able, given resources, to listen to the stories within their hearts. At the same time, I’d like to do some acts of kindness along the way and photograph the Journey, blogging my experience and the takeaways from each conversation. With Journey to a Thousand Voices, it is my goal to really get to listen to the heartbeat of the people, the life stories, the challenges and triumphs, the victories over trials that have tried to wipe us out. 

Tonight, I wanted to tell you a little more about the Journey to a Thousand Voices project I've been asking for help and contributions for. I hope it will clarify a few things and help you, too, become passionate about world change.

My own photo. Lincoln City, OR sunset.
  For those who want to contribute by sharing their story with me, I am honored to be your listener. And I respect whatever level of privacy you request. Some may wish the details of their stories be shared, others may not… and either way, lessons gleaned from a conversation can still be blogged while respecting the people involved. As for photos of those who share their stories, my plan is to capture a few photos of those who are willing, and preview them with you prior to posting them on the blog. As it is my hope to write an autobiography of the Journey afterward, the photos that are accepted for the blog are the only ones I will consider for that, as well.

My goal for this Journey, ultimately, is to visit with and listen to the stories of people in at least 8 states and 4 countries. Capture some amazing photography. Do some random acts of kindness. Make the Journey unforgettable, life-changing, and therefore world changing. With YOUR help, I'll be able to do just that, and you'll have played a part in helping define history fr the next generation to come.

The more I am able to raise, the more diversity there can be, and the more diversity, the more people will be helped in the broader sense. The more diversity there is the more in-tune we can ALL become with what is happening in our world today in the lives of people just like us. What lessons will we learn along the way? How will our beliefs be strengthened or stretched?

People need HOPE. They need to be able to share their experiences in a safe manner, knowing their listener will respect them, no matter what. I believe my quest to begin – and fulfill – Journey to a Thousand Voices is a vehicle for that to occur.

As a Christian, writer, life coach, and photographer, I understand the power of words, of story, of image, and of authenticity – all important aspects of this Journey. I have extensively studied to prepare myself for such an experience, and was inspired to this end while in grad school at Warner Pacific College, where I looked at the intersection of faith, healing, and creativity. I have also been inspired by the lives of many whom I have had the absolute privilege to meet and get to know through my work with women and children who have endured varying crises, and through varying ministry opportunities and experiences. I have a passion for helping people to become the best selves they possibly can be as they overcome obstacles and obstructions of life and walk into their destinies.

My own photo. taken at Oregon coast.

 Will you help me fulfill this Journey? Will you become part of the support team for this endeavor? 

I would greatly appreciate it!  

You might be asking, What's in it for ME?  I'm glad you asked! 

--Follow my journey via a variety of social media outlets.

--Cool postcards and/or photos along the way for those helping fund the project in amounts over $200.

--Big gratitude, e-thanks, handwritten thanks, Facebook updates, and thank yous posted on the blog I will use for this Journey. (That would be THIS blog!)

--Some of you will have the opportunity to become part of the 1000 I talk with for the blog.

--Depending on how much is raised, those who become part of the 1000 will get to meet with me in some pretty special places! And where it is a group meeting, you have the opportunity to be part of group photos for the blog, too.

--For those who would rather not meet in person, there is a ChocolateThanks option, where I send you some pretty fancy chocolate as part of my thanks. There’s also a pretty cool Glittery Thanks option, which has a one of a kind necklace as part of the thank you. 

Why is Journey to a Thousand Voices So Important?

--People can share their stories, which is a cathartic act, leading to healing.

--Readers can follow stories and learn from the lessons of other people's lives.

--Photography of the Journey makes the experience more holistic and fluid. It helps bring the stories to life, while helping others discover the beauty of the world around them.

--Journey to a Thousand Voices is one step in a bigger whole for me. My ultimate goal is to listen to 10,000 stories over the next 10 to 12 years.

--This is a way I can share the unconditional love of Jesus Christ with those around me, no matter who they are, their background, or what they believe.

2 Corinthians 9:6-7 tells us that "Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. "

This is a way that YOU can be a cheerful giver, and so can I. For out of the giving of many, the giving TO many can become a reality!

Thank you for taking the time to read through this, and for your consideration, prayers, contributions, and passings-along of this project, Journey to a Thousand Voices. May it bless all who help prepare the way, beyond measure!