Wednesday, October 27, 2010


Yesterday, the morning newspaper screamed this headline:
Police Charge Hodge Elementary PTA President With Theft
(You can read the entire article here) 
I saw the paper yesterday, and felt my stomach drop. Just reading the headline brought back a flood of memories from a few years back. I didn't really need to read the entire article to know what had happened, but I read it anyway. Then I reached for my phone and made a call.

See, a few years ago, the same thing happened. However, instead of it being Hodge Elementary, it was another school. And instead of it being an unknown face plastered on the TV and news while people raged and criticized and accused, it was one of my closest and dearest friends face in the mugshot.

It was a bad time. My friend was accused of taking a large sum of money from our school's PTA. Evidence was compiled, and people talked. We live in a small town, so any tiny tidbit of info is fodder for gossip. My friend lost her job within the school system, had to move her kids to another school, resigned from our community rec center where she had worked tirelessly for years and endured all of the stares and comments from busybodies. She lost a lot of friends, and her kids did too through no fault of their own. She went to trial, pled guilty, paid all of the money back and was sentenced to probation and community service. She has fulfilled all of her obligations to the community and judicial system.

Since then, she has remarried and her kids have grown up watching their Mom go through all of this and learning that you can hold your head up when you go through bad times. They also learned that people make mistakes and sometimes pay dearly for bad choices.

However, as much as people detest the idea that someone would take money that did not belong to them, especially from children, the question that most people ask is "why?" and then they usually follow it up with "I could never do that!"

Although I can't answer that in whole, and I do believe there is always another solution, I can tell you that sometimes we forget the human aspect of people.

What most people so not know about this situation is that my friend was a single mom of 2 kids with a deadbeat dad. She also took care of her elderly and ill mother.  In her mind, the money she took was only a loan, until she could pay it back. Over time however, the amount continued to grow.

My questions to those who say "I could never do that" are:
What would you do if you had no food for your kids?
What would you do if your kid's shoes had worn holes in the bottom or they had no coats for winter?
What would you do if your Mother needed to go to the doctor and you had no gas money to take her there? 
What if you could not pay your electric bill and it was about to be turned off, when the temperature is  below freezing?
What would you do it you had a flat tire, and the spare was bad too?

Most people would say they would go to a friend or a family member for help. But not everyone has that option. Many times, the family and friends are struggling right along with you, living paycheck to paycheck and robbing Peter to pay Paul. 

So back to yesterday. I shared this story with the people I work with at my daughter's school, as they read the headlines. After a few moments, my closest friend there (no connection to the friend who took the money years ago) looked at me with tears in her eyes and said "Thank you. Thank you for reminding me that we all make mistakes."

Later yesterday afternoon, another person came in, grabbed the newspaper, rolled it up and held it high above her head proudly proclaiming "This person needs to be put under the jail! This is simply  unforgivable!"

I looked over to my coworker, and our eyes met. Although nothing was said, I could hear her voice saying again "Thank you for reminding me that we all make mistakes."

In the first part of this blog I mentioned making a call. I called the friend who endured this drama a few years back. I told her how the newspaper had headlines of a story similar to hers, and that I was thinking of her. I finished our conversation by saying how thankful I was for how far we had come from where we used to be. Her simply reply, "I love you" was all that needed to be said.

As I stated before, I do not advocate theft or breaking the law in anyway. I do however, believe that we are all human and can never conclusively say what we will or will not do in a situation. We all struggle with things and we all make bad choices sometimes. I am just so thankful that when Jesus hung on the cross, He did not look at me and my sin in my life and say:

"This person should be put under the jail! This is simply unforgivable!"

I am so thankful that instead He chose to simply say "I love you".

Thursday, October 21, 2010

We're home!

Oh goodness, I am so excited to share with you that last week, on 10-10-10, our church moved into our new facility. It has been a long awaited process, but we are so thrilled to be in our new home!

The building is simply beautiful. The hand painted murals on the walls are fabulous! The youth room is super cool, and the sanctuary is large enough to accommodate us for now, but not for long as we are already welcoming HUGE amounts of visitors and newcomers!

I wanted to share some picture with you from our opening day celebration!
For more info, go to

This is our super cool new sign out front. It is very bright and is attracting a lot of attention!
 Our new Resource Center, which is built to hold 600-700 people in the sanctuary, has a large youth wing, big children's church, a cafe, a Fine Arts department (we have dance teams and a banner team plus an awesome praise team), offices for all the staff, several large classrooms and a beautiful bright and cheery nursery and preschool department with hand painted murals.

 This is the beginning of service, when the banner team performed.
 Here is a view from one side of the church, but it was taken before everyone got there. The place was packed! It was full of guests, visitors, church members, family, and tons and tons of LOVE!
This is our Bishop, Eddie Tomberlin.

Come visit us! You won't find another place like this!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Need a Good Laugh???

Anyone who knows me very well knows that I hate public speaking. Perhaps that is not a strong enough word. I detest public speaking. I abhor it. I shudder at the thought of it. Ok, you get the point.

Imagine the fear running through my veins like ice water downstream when I was asked to make a presentation on Boxtops For Education at our school's PTA meeting tonight. GULP!

I gathered my info, and-being technologically-impaired- with some humbling help of my daughter prepared a Power point presentation, complete with sound! (To be perfectly honest the media clerk and my daughter did most of it. I just giggled at the sound choices and made the really hard decisions like which version of "applause" we should use.)

I drafted friends and school staff members to be at tonight's meeting for moral support. I was so thankful they were there. I waited nervously for my turn to speak. I was about 3/4 of the way down the agenda so I thought I had plenty of time to gather myself and my thoughts until the PTA President decided that we had no old business and the new business had already been discussed so it was my turn!

I stood up. I walked towards the podium, papers clasped firmly in my hand. I held my head up, looking ahead and fighting the nearly debilitating urge to run out of the door and never come back. Things went well......


I tripped.

Right in front of everyone. I was not looking at the floor, and my feet got caught in the speaker wire running from the laptop to the electrical outlet.

It was not one of my finest moments.

But somehow, by the grace of God, I did not fall flat on my face. I was also thankful that I did not wear the skirt I had considered, for fear of getting the back of the skirt tucked up in my underwear somehow and showing my ample assets to the entire crowd.

Also by the grace of God, I made it to the podium and heard my voice say:

"And that was just my opening act!"

I think it was a successful presentation after that. The audience clapped and laughed at appropriate moments in my little talk, and I had several people tell me I did well. (What else could they say? "Great job, GRACE?????"

Thank you God for keeping us humble, for giving us a sense of humor, and for friends who will tell you that you did a great job while keeping a sincere straight face.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Be Still

A few months ago, my husband and I took our daughter to see The Karate Kid. You know, the new one, with Jackie Chan and Jaden Smith. We felt that for her to truly appreciate the film, she needed to see the original version, with Ralph Macchio and Pat Morita. (My husband also felt that she should endure the two sequels, which I thought was a bit harsh since neither of them was a particularly fantastic piece of cinematic work but I digress.)

Anyway, after nearly rolling on the floor laughing at the placement of the waistband of Daniel San's jeans in the 1984 version (were guy's waists really 6 inches higher then than they are now????) and practically having a nervous breakdown when I told her that Ralph Macchio was the Robert Pattinson of my day, her father deemed her ready to watch the new movie.

Off we went. Tickets and popcorn purchased. Diet Cokes the size of tubas in hand. Enough candy to feed a small country and turn all citizens into diabetics included. Into the theater we went.

Although the plot was fairly good, I just have to say I thought the original was better. (As it seems to be in most cases of remakes) But this post is not a movie review. Aren't you glad?

Partway through the movie, Mr. Han (Jackie Chan's version of Mr. Miyagi) tells Dre (the smaller and dreadlocked version of Daniel) that "being still and doing nothing are two very different things".


That has resonated within for months.

Be still, and know that I am God" (Psalm 46:10)

How often are we still? I think that especially as a woman, I equate sitting still and doing nothing with laziness. I often find myself multi-tasking to the extreme, loosing track of what I am intending to do by doing too many things at once. I do not understand how my husband and daughter can sit and watch TV for hours, while doing nothing. Just sitting. Staring. I simply can't do it. If I watch TV, it is generally something I have DVRed (is that a word?) so that I can fast forward commercials. I am usually also folding laundry, texting, and making lists of what else I need to do at the same time I watch the program. When I cook, I am also cleaning up the kitchen, loading and/or unloading the dishwasher, helping with homework and setting the table in between stirring pots or flipping meat. When I am online, I typically have three tabs open to do several things at once. Paying bills, balancing checkbooks, checking email, reading blogs, and Facebooking can all be done simultaneously at the click of a mouse. If I am on the phone, I am typically sorting papers or folding laundry or bagging up trash to take out at the same time. You get the picture.

So then what happens when it is time to read the Word or pray? It used to be a struggle. I would get so distracted. Prayer seemed a chore, and reading the Word was uninteresting and hard to understand. I could not understand how my women friends could sit and read the Word or pray for long periods of time. And to just sit and listen to God? To be still before Him? Yeah right. An alien concept to me.

So I prayed about it. While driving. With my cell phone in my cup holder in case it rang and my radio turned down and my eyes on the road. I asked God to make His Word alive to me. To show me how to pray with vigor and enthusiasm. To show me how to listen to Him. And He answered........"Be still."

That was it. Real revelation to me. I had to slow down, and realize that the God who made the Universe and saved me from Hell deserved my undivided attention. He is worthy of so much more that just of me stopping every other activity and coming into His presence with a clear and attentive mind. I wish I could tell you that as soon as I made the decision to approach Him like this it was an instant success, but that would be untrue. Although I tried, my mind drifted, I got sleepy or distracted as I read, and I got frustrated. I pressed on. I kept trying. And it got easier.

Now, although I do not do it as often as I would like or as often as I NEED to, I pray and read the Word much more often. I find myself praying outloud as I drive, with the radio off and the cell phone muted. I pray when I shower. I read the Word and Christian books daily. But every day, I make sure that I get still and quiet and I get still before my Father............

...........and I KNOW He is God.