Friday, June 29, 2007

I'm getting to the stage in my life where it feels like everyone around me is getting married. All of the sudden all these people that i've played with and grown up with are taking their turns saying vows. As a girl, I know I am supposed to have my wedding all planned out- colors, songs, bridesmaids... but in all the thinking i have done about my wedding day growing up, and still today, I have never cared much about all that. I have given it some thought I guess, but never came to any conclusion or tried very hard. My focus has always been on the man that I will walk down the aisle towards. What he would be like and look like and how he would treat me.

Spending time with soon-to-be brides I am annoyed for them at all of the rules and expectations placed on them. There are so many people to please and so many traditions that just cannot be broken. It's crazy to me. Who cares? Why does it matter if the invitations are hand addressed in cursive or print? Why does it matter if there is a card table set up or if the aisle chairs are decorated? Isn't that day supposed to be about celebrating love between two people? It's the beginning of a new life for them, why can't it be as simple as that?

Don't get me wrong, I love weddings. I get so excited going to them and I sit through the whole ceremony with a huge smile on my face. I like to see how each couple puts their own unique twist on this traditional time. I just don't understand why everyone has to stress out about every little thing. I don't understand why there have to be so many silly rules to follow to keep from hurting the feelings of your guests.

I think that's so how our faith is too. It's truly a simple thing. I understand that I need a Saviour and that Jesus is the only thing that can fulfill that for me. I love Him and want to live my life the way He would have me do it. That's it. Period. We make it so complicated though. As a church, we fight about so many little issues. I know they don't feel little but in the big scheme of things.. it doesn't matter. We make Christianity and church about ourselves and our own happiness. We completely lose focus of why we gather together on Sunday mornings and why we serve our communities. It's about Him. It's about a love relationship with Him. Tradition can be a beautiful thing but when that becomes the focus, it is useless. I understand the necessity of rules but when they become what makes you a "good" person, we've missed it.

It's simple. As much as people like to make it about the fancy decorations and both silly and serious traditions, they are not why we are here and our lives can't be about making sure those things get done just the way we want. Rather, it's all about the love relationship we each get to enjoy with God and the way that relationship molds and changes who we are. I pray that we are able to let go of all the expectations we believe need to be met in church and our daily lives and let the simplicity of our faith take over. Let our eyes turn to our Saviour and become captivated to the point that we cannot look away. And simply abide in Him.


Thursday, June 28, 2007

What is your favorite season? I always have trouble picking mine. There is something I like about each of them plus I think the changing of seasons is so refreshing- it adds variety. I love the colors of the fall, and I always look forward to wearing sweatshirts and jeans again. I think I enjoy fall so much because it always reminds me of the way our family used to go over to gramma and grandpa's and rake big piles of leaves and then spend a good amount of time jumping into them and destroying the piles that the men had just worked to gather. After we were finally exhausted from our play, we'd have warm apple cider and donuts. Mmm...

Winter is definitely not my favorite season but i do love snow. Waking up the morning after the first big snow is just breathtaking. Spring always bring sweet relief from the ridiculously cold temperatures of winter- and flowers begin to bud and everything turns green instead of brown. Then comes summer. I love summer. I love being able to be outside and NOT BE COLD (i think i am cold blooded.. i am always cold). I love how long the days are. There are so many memories of great times in the summer.

As much as I love the warm sunny weather that comes with summer, part of me always dreads it as well. Once the weather begins to warm, girls seem to think that's the cue to begin to wear as little clothing as they can get away with. At least in highschool, there was a dress code. Now, it's a free-for-all competition of who can wear the smallest skirts or lowest shirts. It drives me insane. I think part of the reason I hate it so much though is because of how quickly I get realed into that mind set. I try to dress modestly, but as the people around me dress that way, I begin to feel the pull to look like "everyone" else. I begin to want to dress that way too because I don't want to be left behind in the competition. I don't know why, it doesn't matter, I shouldn't care. I don't know if it's my competitive nature that causes me to want to be the "best" at everything or peer pressure issue or what.

Regardless of the why, the problem is that I compare myself routinely to those around me to see if I'm "keeping up to speed" with them. Even if it means going against certain morals that I have sometimes, I feel pushed to keep up. And I know I am not the only one. But we are called to be different. We are called to a holy lifestyle. 1 Peter 1:14-15 says "As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct." From how we dress to how we care about those around us, we are called to follow a higher standard. Because live to glorify One much higher than ourselves.


Wednesday, June 27, 2007

How important to our lives are the basic precepts that guide us? If you really believe that something is true, can it be true for you but not true for your neighbor? Is what you believe in relative or real? Is it worth fighting for? Is it worth dieing for? Is it worth killing for? Think about these things - you can't do so quickly because they are too encompassing to who and what you are.

There are definitely those who believe in relativity, that something that is true for them but may not be for anyone else. This, to me, is both illogical and dangerous because it is basically the same as standing for nothing at all while justifying any belief or behavior. It is more scarey for me (because of the threat to my person and those that I love) to think of the many in this world who believe something so strongly, with so much conviction that they will kill to enforce their view, or reinforce their view. However, this second instance seems to me to be more logical because truth is absolute, not relative, or by its very nature it would not be truth.

The difference between Biblical Christianity, christiantity and other religions is that it isn't up to us to convince others of what we believe, that is the work of the Holy Spirit. However, it is our responsibility to share what we believe, otherwise others will not hear what Jesus' true message really is. We also need to know why we believe what we believe, otherwise we can't be very convincing and my guess is that it is this point that trips many of us up, we aren't sure why - or we aren't sure how to express why we believe what we do.

In light of the above, Adrian Rogers once said that "it is more dangerous to believe the wrong thing than to do the wrong thing. When you believe the wrong thing you do the wrong thing over and over." When this happens, wrong compounds wrong - teaching the wrong lesson or message to those who see or hear it. This is why we need to go to the Word to confirm what someone, even the pastor, tells us. This is one reason why we need to spend time in the Word, so that we know where to look to confirm what we hear.

I write this as much to myself as to anyone else. I need to remember this and yet be willing to move beyond myself and the thoughts that limit my action. It is our willingness to share and follow that he wants from us, He will do the rest. Why should that be so scary?


Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Have you ever reached the point where you look around you and just want to pitch it all? You look over the things accumulated around you, and the dust that has accumulated on the things - and the cob webs that have accumulated over the dust - and feel like you can never get rid of it all in an organized, timely, fashion so the easist thing to do is just start tossing it into a dumpster or bagging it and taking it to Goodwill, or maybe the dump?

How can I have the chance to live my life with a sense of peace and purpose if I can't be rid of all of the dirt, dust and clutter that surrounds me, and that doesn't include all of the work that needs to be done on the house - scraping and painting, tearing out a moldy wall or two and redoing the bathroom, replace cracked glass from the old windows? Then there are the accumulated tumbleweeds of dog hair that form a fuzzy border around the walls within 5 minutes of the last vacuum run (and makes the vacuum smell like old garbage when it is running).

And I don't have kids -- how do you all do it?

This would be a good time for Jesus to knock on my front door and ask me to abandon everything and come with Him, then I would have a good excuse and a great escape plan.

Maybe it isn't your physical world that you are ready to dump and walk away from. Maybe it is the emotional or spiritual part of you...the dirt, dust and excess stuff has accumulated inside and with each layer you find yourself further insulated from the love of the Father. We live in a fallen world with its incredibly sticky dirt, the kind that accumulates inside as well as outside.

The amazing thing is that we can go (back) to our Savior and ask him to take all of that sticky dirt from us, to wash us in the sparkling waters of his blood and rinse it all away (again), and He will. He can take the worst mildew and rot, scrape it away and restore the structure to what it once was, or what it was meant to be, so that you may function the way He designed you to.

"He's going to clean house - make a clean sweep of your lives. He'll place everything true in its proper place before God, everything false he'll put out with the trash to be burned."
- Matthew 3:12 (The Message)

Jesus has asked us to abandon ourselves and follow him, though I realize we must still live in this world and take care of what he has given us. It is up to us to keep our homes clean and in good repair, but He is great at remodelling lives.

Have a great day,


Monday, June 25, 2007

Awe Star University is the four day training the students and leaders undergo before heading out to their respective countries to serve. That time is filled with drama training, prayer, worship and teaching from Walker and my dad. The teaching is heavy and intense but great preparation for the hearts of those getting ready to spend a month in different countries spreading the Gospel.

One of the things Walker talks about is how it will be difficult once on the field. Satan fights hard to distract and keep people from being used by God. When we are faced with trials and hardships, whether in the spiritual warfare on the mission field or in our every day life, our true colors come out. Do we chose to lose our patience, get angry, wallow in our self-pity? or do we stand up to the temptation to focus on ourselves and continue serving? In a moment when things are going well it is easy to claim that we would remain focused but in the heat of tempation our decision could be quite different.

When we are "squeezed" like that, what we have filled our minds with and focused our hearts on previously is what deteremines our decision. What we put in is what comes out. When we focus on the world, and let our attention be captivated by the things around us, be it the internet, boy/girlfriends, television, etc... our reaction will likely by that of the flesh. However, when we are focused on Christ and filling our minds with the Spirirt, our reaction when squeezed is to let Christ take over.

Acts 7:54-60 is the story of Stephen's stoning. As Saul holds their coats, the crowd runs Stephen out of the city then begins stoning him. Right before he dies, Stephen cries out to God, "Lord, do not hold this sin against them!" I honestly cannot imagine that. These people were the "religous" folk, and as they killed him, Stephen prayed for there forgiveness. That is someone who is full of the Holy Spirit. Someone who grasped what it means to love people, regardless of anything else. Someone so focused on Christ, that when squeezed, HE was all that was in Stephen to come out. Stephen was allowing God to mold him to be more like Christ- in that he even responded identically while being killed by those he came to preach to and love.

Every time I read that passage, it steps on my toes as if I'd never heard it before. We are called to love- love like that. Love people regardless- love unconditionally. It's so easy to say but yet so difficult to practice. How incredible would it be if we could all live that out? I can't even imagine...

whitney louise

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Corinne, I assume you are asking about the bookstore where I found the Mercy Me CD and that was Family Christian Bookstore in Plainfield. Others may carry it - I never knew to look! You can reach me through if you need any further information. Brad

Friday, June 22, 2007

"May 23, 1997
name B.J.
I saw a ground hog den. UNcle Brad (you) saw a snake.
We also saw a rakoon and a opasum.
We slept in a t.p. to the nex day."
OK, so it won't win any writing or spelling awards, but Beej was just a little guy when he wrote this early "jounle" page and gave it to me after he, Brent and I spent the night here at camp in one of our tipis. He doesn't mention the fish he caught (or maybe disappointment at catching a little bass when he was going for the giant carp he'd seen made it less important to him) with his little pole while fishing with his Dad, but maybe that was the next day.
I cherish this single piece of memo paper handed to me 10 years ago after a short, enjoyable visit that had faded into the shadows of my memories until I came across it a few months ago - it is, I believe, the only writing of his that I posses.
It is interesting how small things can become so important to us after we lose someone. I remember how I hung on to gas card receipts with my Dad's signature on them for a long time because that signature was a little piece of him - he had written it and couldn't do so anymore. I had found them in the pockets of a suit of his that Mom gave me after he died. That signature was like the smell of him that lingered for a while on that suit, a welcome reminder of someone I loved dearly and could no longer hold except through the power of memory.
I am so glad that BJ started journaling at an early age, a practice by the way that was no doubt inspired by the journals his parents did to track Bible studies and prayer requests and answers. I am glad that Brent and Deanna have so much of him in those pages to bring him close, but more importantly for others so that his words can be shared when appropriate to help point other to Christ; to show that even a young person can have a firm grasp on truth and grace and has the ability to do great things for Him.
In that light, think of the gift that He has given to all of us; Jesus left us His story in written form and it is still and always the best way to get to know Him - to breath in His essence and feel His presence again like we did when we first came to know Him. Like looking at Dad's signature on a receipt there are times that I wish He had said more in His word, given us even more specific instructions on how to love our enemies or overcome this world, but even better than the memories that can flood in when we read a signature or smell a scent, Christ has given us the Holy Spirit to fill us and lift us out of whatever we are bound in, to love us and grant us wisdom when we seek it and to comfort when we need it.
Heavenly Father, we are so grateful for the gift of your power and presence. Please give us the strength to lift your word from the table it sits upon. Life can make it a very heavy book to lift, but its contents can remove all of the weight that we bear, bringing refreshment and wisdom where weariness and confusion seem to reign. Amen.
P.S. Brent shared with me Wednesday morning that at the closing service for team training the evening before one of the other leaders asked the group of young missionaries how many of them were there, directly or indirectly, because of the way the Lord had worked through BJ's life . Roughly one-third of them raised their hands! Imagine the emotion that Brent and Deanna experienced, the comfort and purpose that knowing this brings. This is one reason why "bad things happen to good people" - so that God may be glorified in ways that are unimaginable during the pain. This is why they have continued this post. May God continue to be glorified.
Also, I just discovered at the book store the other day that Mercy Me's "Coming Up to Breathe" is also available in an accoustical version! I encourage anyone who loves their music to give it a listen - Bart's vocals are somehow more personal without all of the background music, as much as I love the original version. This isn't better, just -- different (in a good way).

Thursday, June 21, 2007

I spent the majority of last summer in the south. The first half of my summer I was in Dallas interning for a mission organization, and after the month in North Africa it was a couple more weeks of southern hospitality before heading home. It was hard to return to Indiana after so much time in Texas. I'm not sure I could pinpoint what I enjoyed so much about it but it was one of the two places that I have gone and just felt at home- which is weird because I had never been there and have no close ties in Dallas. Nevertheless I truly loved being there and as soon as I got home I started talking about going back and even moving down there.

With Lauren graduating and moving to Oklahoma last month, my thoughts have turned once again to leaving this city where I have grown up. In the last couple months I have gone back and forth and back and forth on where I want to live. I have spent a good deal of time praying about it but have failed to determine how to hear God's voice above my emotions. I have been so torn- I get bored with my routine here in Indy and the south offers something new and exciting, not to mention closer proximity to my parents and sister, but at the same time, I don't want to leave the family and friends I have grown so attached to here. I've had moments where I've felt completely overwhelmed with this decision and trying to determine God's will for my life at this time.

I started studying Ruth awhile back. It's a story I've heard over and over again so I had to force myself to move slowly as I read and really focus on the words. I was struck by one thing in particular. When Naomi Ruth return to Bethlehem, their family is down to just the two of them. In those days, two women couldn't get very far on there own so Naomi had turned very bitter. She told her old friends to no longer call her Naomi but instead to call her "Mara" which means bitter. However, we see a very different response from Ruth. Ruth was quick to make the decision to go to Boaz's field and glean behind his servants. She said to Naomi, "Let me go to the field and glean among the ears of grain after him in whose sight I shall find favor." What hits me about this is the courage that this took from Ruth. Rather than sitting aroung and waiting for someone to come help them, she decides to get up and go and trust that God will cause the owner of the field to find favor with her. She was proactive about the situation.

I think it's important to not just bulldoze through life making decisions that make you happy in the moment. However, I think I am overly anxious about decisions. For instance, my where to live scenario. I have worried so much about whether or not staying in Indiana is really the right choice. I love that Ruth just made a decision and acted on it and trusted that God would bless it. That takes faith. It takes faith to make a decision and trust that God has the details- big or small, worked out for you. We have to trust that God has control over everything, and when we do- there is no longer need for anxiety or worrying!! All that is left is joy.

So here I am, staying in Indiana to start nursing school in the fall. I pray that I have the faith that Ruth had to trust that God has all of the things that could be problems or issues worked out to bring Him glory.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Scripture speaks a great deal about judgement, an inconvenient truth for those who claim that God is not about judging and that a loving God would not _____ - you can fill in the blank, there are many words and causes used. While God's love for us is the primary message of His word, there are many passages that talk about judgement brought by God historically, some refer to coming judgement and yet others speak to our responsibilities as Christians when to "judge" or not.

One sentence in Malachi whittles it all down to a wonderful, grace-filled truth from our Lord: "Return to me, and I will return to you." vs.3:7. He speaks these words in relation to our having turned away from His decrees.

This is a compassionate position from God who has every reason to be angry with us, yet refuses to deal with His anger like men (humans) usually do (Hosea 11:9). That isn't to say we will escape His judgement because we will not, but it will come at the time He has designated, another point that many choose to ignore. While we tend to act/react out of anger on an emotional impulse, He keeps His anger in perspective and gives us every opportunity to come (back) to Him before that final judgement. That couldn't be more compassionate or fair.

I have struggled a great deal with anger over the last couple of years since BJ got sick and then went to be with Jesus. I know that there are many facets to it and no doubt, multiple catalysts and roots beyond the significant changes that this has generated in our lives. It usually manifests itself inwardly, when I am alone (for which I am thankful) and do something stupid or when little things go wrong. My reactions though have been spreading to other situations, less solitary and more embarassing (for me and to the Lord) because they are sometimes overheard or come out at others as over-reactions. I apologize to those who have been on the receiving end of one of these failures to hold myself in check.

I am so thankful that God is loving and full of grace, that He still awaits the prodigals and procrastinators with love and patience while we race around in place fussing about what time it is lest we stop and be forced to consider that it is running out.

In reality at least part of my anger is blamed on these circumstances, the changes that they manifested in my life - when in fact focusing the blame in this way is simply a way to avoid dwelling on the fact that I have failed to act on convictions that resulted from these events. I have held back from "going through the mud" to serve my Savior who "went through the blood."

Lord, thank you for being willing to return to us if we will only return to you. Amen.


Tuesday, June 19, 2007

I spent the last week with the youth group from my church at the Ultimate Youth Camp. It was my eighth year going but my first year as a leader- so it was quite a different experience. I've always enjoyed camp- the intimate worship, hanging out with my friends for a week away from responsibilities, work and school, the crazy rec games and getting to play dress up for the different theme nights. It's such a fun week, the best part always being the way God changes lives from the inside out (we had nine people get baptized this year!!).

I've often questioned why it is that God's presence is so strongly felt at events such as these. The same people who could care less about worship on regular Wednesday nights or Sunday mornings have encounters with God that bring them to tears at camp. Why is that we seem to only allow God to change our hearts at these big events?

I think there are lots of reasons that contribute. The amount of prayer that camp is covered in from the rest of the church is incredible and makes a huge difference on the outcome of the week. Also, at camp we are pulled away from all the distractions of our every day lives.

While these are important factors, I believe one of the biggest reasons that encounters with the Lord seem to be so much stronger at camp-type events is because of our expectations. Camp is supposed to bring us to a "spiritual high" it is expected to be a "mountain-top" experience. Although this expectation can get us into trouble by causing us to try to recreate what we've experienced in the past or force an emotional encounter, it also allows us to be open to God moving in our hearts. On Sunday mornings, few people prepare their hearts beforehand for God to move. We expect to sit through service, sing a couple songs, maybe learn a thing or two from the message, pray and go home. We aren't near as open to God speaking to us, especially not in a way that would shake our world.

On the second to last day of camp, a student came to me and said "I can't wait til camp next year, I just love it so much..." Camp is a great time- it's a lot of fun and a place where it is easy to be a Christian, which can be a relief from "real" life pulling us to be in love with the world. But we can't live camp to camp or mission trip to mission trip. We need to expect God to move in our every day life. We need to prepare our hearts to hear from on a regular basis, not once or twice a year. The same spirit that moves on the usually emotionally charged Thursday night at camp lives inside of us constantly, we need to expect Him to move all the time.

love you all!!

Monday, June 18, 2007

I hate to admit it but Friday morning I went out in search of a fix. I was off of work and exhausted, unmotivated to start the chores around the house that needed to be done and with a mind that was spinning out of control and not allowing any rest.

My typical fix is a book and at times I use it like a drug, to escape immediate reality and live outside of it for a while. I love to read and have since I was able to, it started with Dr. Suess and progressed through The Hardy Boys series into more adult literature (or at least writing as some of what I have read doesn't really qualify as literature), both Christian and secular. In college I even studied Herman Melville (thus the name of my dog) and Nathaniel Hawthorn and learned to appreciate, if not love their works (and yes, I've read Moby Dick at least 3 times and actually enjoyed it).

My favorite authors tend to be good at giving just enough detail that my brain fills in the voids, they aren't overly attentive to every little detail, especially those that have no real bearing on the story; those that bring me back to the very feelings I have known, smells I have smelled and emotions that have attended life events are also a draw for me. One of my current favorites is Charles Martin who incorporates his faith into his writing without hitting the reader over the head with it.

As I spent time looking I realized just how many other book junkies there are as I looked at the thousands of titles that are available. While reading can be a constructive use of time it can also be less than that, such as when we are using it to avoid living life and getting involved in the lives of others. I justify it by convincing myself (successfully) that it doesn't dumb me down like watching tv does - at least it isn't passive and requires our brains to function at a higher level.

One way I know when my "habit" is becoming a problem for me is when my time with these author's works is crowding out my time with my Savior and Lord. If I spend 2 or 3 hours reading yet can't find the time to spend in His word, work or prayer, then my "fix" has crossed the line into sin because I am letting it interfere with my relathionship with God. How can a story, even a good one be better than getting to know the Creator of the Universe better?

Enjoy your reading - turn off the tv and stimulate your mind - but do so in a healthy way and start with the Greatest Story Ever Told!


PS. Whitney just returned from a week as a camp counselor in Ohio and will be sharing soon. Brent, Deanna and Lauren are in the midst of training teams for the summer trips and will be leaving this Wednesday. Please continue praying for them, the teams and leadership as they prepare to go into the world and share Jesus. Also, please be praying for Lucile, the wonderful "Grandmother" to all of the Awe Star teams and staff who has been so instrumental in the life of that organization and in making it possible for Brent to join their ministry; currently she is hospitalized and, I understand, in a coma state. I will let you know more as I learn details.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Since the minute I arrived at camp this morning (where my computer access is as well) things have been crazy and I am just now able to sit here and type. I won't be in tomorrow or I would wait to visit with you.

I believe that the Lord's timing is perfect. I rarely understand it, often don't like it and would more often than not do things differently (in my short-sighted, human perspective), but I have seen too many times where his omniscience provides perfection. He is God, after all :)

I have just come through one of the busiest sustained periods of my work life and shared this morning with our executive director that my average time on duty had gotten big enough and my time off small enough that I could no longer see things objectively. While I have been seeing what I thought was light at the end of the perverbial tunnel maybe it is just a train, but today a retired gentleman who worked for me during the summer about 6-7 years ago showed up wanting to volunteer. He is a retired mechanic and when he worked that summer, it was his first summer of retirement and he would do nothing remotely like mechanical repair in order not to endanger his retirement benefits through the union.

I am not a mechanic. I fuss around with things and can often get them to work again (much to everyone's suprise), but when it comes to vehicles - color me stupid. Now that he is comfortably into his retirement, he is happy to help however he can, mechanical or not. Boy do I have a truck for him to play with - and a tractor and golf cart, just to get started.

This man is not a believer, but I told him whether or not he understood it, God had brought him back. He is willing to be on call at times so that I can be gone - something I have never had in the 12 years i've been here at camp.

Then, this afternoon I met with a young man named David who wants to volunteer for me regularly. He plays football at the local high school (one of the biggest in the state) and works a regular job so he is already very busy but in his view, he doesn't have enough to do. He is the son of a neighbor to the camp whom I happen to know as she worked for one of the agencies that we are associated with. As we toured the camp and I showed him the grunt work I can use him to accomplish for as many hours as he would like to throw out, he just exclaimed over and over in a low-key way that it was great and he would do anything.

Now my first thoughts after these blessings knocked on the door today was where were they a month or two ago? But I have no doubt that the Lord has brought them here now for a reason that I don't understand yet - maybe I never will. Maybe I would have gone crazy if they hadn't come to pick up some slack - maybe I still will and they can pick up even more slack! In any event, I am thankful and grateful.

Oh yeah, David is a dark-haired, 17 year-old with a trim build. He grew up in Monrovia and was there until he was in junior high. He went from the very small Monrovia school system to one of the biggest schools in the state. I couldn't help but think of the similarities/contrasts to BJ, though Beej moved to Monrovia in junior high - from one of the biggest school systems in the state; was of course dark-haired and trim and would be 17 years old.

Lord, thank you for the way you work in our lives, behind the scenes or displaying your glory boldly. Thank you for knowing what we need when we need it and being there to sustain us when we don't feel we can keep going. Amen.


TAKE NOTE: those interested in pre-ordering "I Would Die For You" (the book about BJ) will find it available on, and - among others. As Brent has noted, it is set for release January 2008.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

It is hard for me to believe that a year has passed since Brent and Deanna were headed to North Africa with the girls and the rest of their team. Now, as then, they were full of anticipation and emotion because of what they had come through and what lay ahead. Please keep them in your prayers as they prepare to embark on this trip where they will meet some of the people BJ met and share the same gospel that he did as they walk the will of the Master.

Monday was a rare day off for me this time of year and I spent an hour doing something about as dangerous as I let myself do, I looked through my college yearbooks. If you've been with us a while you know I tend to be reflective and this activity brought on both melancholy and smiles as I noted how young we all looked and then how my professors appeared to be, more or less, about the age I am now. Sigh.

There was energy in knowing that life was ahead of me in those days, full of opportunity and promise. Everything had a very...physical reality to it; friendships, relationships, smells, feelings, even dreams and ideals for what the future could be. I recall the poignancy of the feelings and experiences of my senior year, the thoughts about my future and more often, worried about everyone leaving school. In a very real way I had focused on graduation as my goal and what came beyond that was just what life would be.

Well, it be - and it hasn't been what I thought it might be like. Some of it has been better than I had anticipated and some of it not; some of it has just been different. I remember how I longed for the assurance that BJ seemed to have grasped so early in life, that he was in the midst of the Lord's will at all times even as he struggled with life issues. He had hopes and plans for his future, I would imagine never imagining that it would pass so quickly (at least until he sensed the Lord's ultimate call to be a martyr for Him, if then). He grabbed life and lived it for his Heavenly Father.

I'm still grasping at whisps of life and not fulling living it. I can blame it on grief, busyness, business, personality - but anyway I look at it I'm grasping, not grabbing. My Savior is real to me, don't get me wrong. I love Him and long to be in His presence but I too often want to shortcut to "graduation" and not have to deal with the responsibility of working to get there. I am not doing all that I can to walk with Him, I continue to let grief, anger, selfishness and human nature muttle my thoughts and actions.

Lord, thank you for loving us even when we aren't very loving, caring for us when we aren't very caring and blanketing us in grace when we just don't deserve it. I can never earn it and I will never deserve it, but let me live like I can. I love you Father.


Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Well, Whitney is a counselor at youth camp this week, and the server is/has been down at Brad's work for a time.

All of our leaders arrived in good shape, and the first training day went very well. We have much to be thankful for to our Father God.

This morning when I got up to spend time with the Lord, I discovered I had left my (reading) glasses at the training venue. I headed to the bookshelf to find a "large print" edition of the Bible. Fortunately it was there.

Unfortunately, it didn't help much. My blurry eyes still struggled to make out each word. I pressed on, not willing to give up my time. However, I found it difficult to focus mentally, just as I struggled to get my eyes to zero in.

Whitney, a nursing student, told me my issue is that as one ages, the elasticity in the eye stiffens, rendering one into a mode of squinting as we try to force focus...focus that usually does not come. Frustrating!

After my shower, I climbed out and as I dried off, peered into the mirror. In that instant, a momentary horror gripped me. Now I couldn't see myself at a distance either...oh wait, that is just the steam covering the mirror.

It sounds foolish, but I have always enjoyed and been thankful for my eyesight. Deanna and I each bragged for years that we were the only two people in either of our families to not wear glasses.

Not any more.

Around two years ago, that began to change rather dramatically. Yes, there were other factors involved, but it certainly seems that the stresses of life...and death, have clouded my ability to see normally.

I pray that as we head to Peru, that our vision is not clouded by human weakness, but cleared to sharp acuity by His Holy presence.

Praise God for all He has provided!


Friday, June 08, 2007

Yesterday was amazing! The Spirit of the Lord hovered over us. There were 10 of us who met, and describing the meeting will be anti-climactic. We did not come out of it with action plans, but did make some incredible contacts. It was amazing to sit down with the three men who produced "The End of the Spear." They are passionate, visionary men, who are humble and gentle. We heard about their next project called "Miss HIV" set in Botswana, Africa. This is likely to be controversial, but makes you think and assess your values. We got to see the first 5 minutes of it.

As we pray, they join us in that and are sifting through their contacts to determine the best possible vehicles to get our story out. It is not likely they will produce anything for us, but I did not really expect them to. I value the hours we spent together, and believe the Lord will use that time for His gain in the future!

On the way to the meeting, I was riding with our agent (among many others) and received the first mock-up copy of the "I Would Die for You" book cover (on his blackberry)! I immediately called Deanna and she got on-line to view it. We were absolutely thrilled! What Revell came up with exceeded our expectations! We Praise God for how He continues to orchestrate this for His greatest glory!

We will suggest a minor alteration, and pray that will be the end product. That same book cover should appear in the next month or so, on the Revell website, under "Coming Soon." I can't tell you when, but if you check periodically, you will find it.

Anyway, here is an outline of our schedule for the summer:

June 11-14 Leadership training (in Sapulpa, Oklahoma)

June 15 travel to Dallas to receive MOM's and POP's (small group discussion leaders) and train them

June 16 train MOM's and POP's in the morning, and receive balance of student missionaries in the afternoon and begin training

June 17-19 train teams in drama and discipleship

June 20 fly to respective countries (Ecuador, India, Panama and Peru)

June 21-July 16 ministry in each country

July 17 shopping and travel day

July 18 return to Dallas for debriefing

July 19 Debriefing

July 20 send 30 day teams home, and receive the Panama 10-day team and begin training them

July 21 train Panama 10-day team

July 22 send off the Panama 10-day team, and we return home (collapse)

Again, thank you so much for lifting each team up in prayer over the next couple of months!

We value your support through prayer and encouragement! If the measure of the ministry response for the summer has anything to do with the extreme amount of spiritual warfare we have experienced in the last month, we are in for an incredible summer for the Lord!

Praise God, and Amen!


Thursday, June 07, 2007

I have to tell you that after I wrote about banana's two days ago, I received a call from my Mother. She informed me that when she was pregnant with me, she had a craving for banana ice cream. It was the only time in her life she has wanted it. She also, seldom eats bananas unless they are mixed in to another food. I thought this was an epilogue worth noting.

While we don't normally pay attention to this, I noticed this morning that this is the 600th time we have posted on That is just a whole lot of writing for a family that didn't do it before all this began. While I am not seeking feedback on that issue, I do want to point it out, because of the immense faith journey it has been. Only the Lord could inspire enough words to be shared in this fashion.

It is a blessing to have this as an outlet, and an encouragement to know that the Lord uses it to impact the lives of others in some small way. I am in awe of my God, that he would choose to allow us this opportunity. I do want to thank those of you who remain faithful to checking in here on occasion. You too, have been a significant encouragement.

Tomorrow may be our last entry before our summer overseas. My brother Brad, and daughter Whitney will write from time to time to keep this up. If we have opportunity to update from South America, we will. I know Deanna told you our basic schedule. Tomorrow, we will outline it so that you have a better idea of our movements and how to pray.

Today, I have a meeting with several businessmen in the Christian world. They are in effect, movers and shakers. Our desire is to see the Lord continue to use our story as He sees fit. What happens today, could have significant impact on this in the future.

Five of us (businessmen and missionaries) will travel together to Oklahoma City (a 2 hour drive) and meet with several more. Some are in the publishing world, some are attorneys, some are in the Christian bookstore business and still others are in the Christian film business. I have no idea what the Lord has in store or if anything significant will come of this. Perhaps it will be a time for brothers in Christ to share and encourage one another.

What I do know is that I would be making a mistake if I did not invite your prayer support over an event such as this. You have been alongside of us for nearly two years, and this is one more step in sharing Jesus with a lost and dying world. That is, after all, what we want to accomplish -more than anything else.

I can tell you that I am really unsure what to say, or what my role will be today. I simply ask that the Lord would use my mouth to share what He wants others to hear, and not foolish banter. This is truly about Him, and must remain so.

God bless each of you, and thank you for caring for the Higgins' family. Perhaps the Salvation of Jesus Christ will come to new souls through the continued testimony of one young man who lived his life with "passion, service and faith." He like his Savior, was willing to die that others may live. "I want to have faith like that. I want to die like that.


Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Years ago I was driving down the road listening to a Christian comedienne and she got me so tickled that I had to pull over. She was telling a story where she was getting ready to speak publicly, but at the last minute decided to touch up her fingernail polish, then of course, had to go to the bathroom and was having a little difficulty pulling up her panty hose.

Liz Curtis Higgs, a very funny lady, is one of my favorite authors. She’s delightful to read and it’s insightful stuff. I taught through her “Bad Girls of the Bible” book (she’s also written “Really Bad Girls of the Bible”) and right now I’m re-reading “Mad Mary” about the very misunderstood and misinterpreted Mary of Magdala.

The title comes from the fact that Mary was demon possessed until Jesus drives them out. Thereafter, she is a faithful follower of Jesus and the first person Jesus, the risen Christ, appears to on that historical Easter morning. Jesus’ treatment of women is revolutionary in a day when “a woman’s words in a court of law were never trusted and had to be validated by two men.”

Whitney bought “Mad Mary” on my birthday 5 years ago and she wrote to me on the opening pages. It was quite a sweet find of recent. It even had my birthday card in it with all three of the children’s messages to me penned in it. I smiled and remembered and voiced an excited and heartfelt prayer of thanks. I just have the best children any mother could hope for!

Higgs gives a fictional account of the characters, then a Bible study – that’s the format for the “Bad Girls” books and “Mad Mary.” It’s fascinating and just plain fun to read, with her “girlfriend” references and her personal antics. What we can learn from girls who are “bad to the bone,” “bad for a moment” and “bad for a season but not forever” is surprising and challenging and inspiring. I just love books that help you see truth in a new light.

Why are we drawn to “bad” characters? And why is it no one wants to be the “good girl”? Cause it’s no fun? What a lie “guess who” gets us to believe.

It happens over and over. A star who is known for being “good” purposely does something “bad” to balance out their perceived reputation. We must fit in with the popular notions of acceptability.

All ancient lies from the same source. We are so easily deceived. The media bombards us with all kinds of nonsense. The only way we can combat the barrage is to fill our heads with truth, every day. I love music but I’ve also taken to listening to podcast sermons. There are some pastors out there that are incredible: humble teachers and proclaimers of God’s living and active word. Always measure their words by The Word and you’re good to go.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Yesterday, someone in the office was running an errand and took orders for treats from Sonics from the rest of the staff. Several anted up their requests before my turn came. When it did, I ordered a Banana Shake.

I was surprised at the instant negative reactions that erupted from those in the room. "Ooh ick," resounded in unison in a way my "music teacher" wife would have appreciated.

I was shocked. Why in the world would a banana shake precipitate a chorus of "boo's?"

I shouldn't have been surprised. We often get lunch together at a local eatery, and I usually order banana pudding. It's not quite as good as my Mother-in-law's, but it's okay. I convinced two of my co-workers to try some recently. They could not say enough bad things to get them past the experience.

I hear about it each time we go there.

Two nights ago, Deanna was thinking of trying a banana pudding recipe. She asked the question, "how many banana's go in banana pudding?"

I told her it really didn't matter, that it was a personal taste issue. A guest in my home insinuated that I was crazy, and that it did matter. Deanna retrieved cook books to learn it does not matter, but different recipes call for different numbers of bananas. You can pretty much do what you want.

What is the deal with people beating up on me for my proclivity for banana desserts? I like banana cream pie, too. Might as well get it out in the open.

I don't like or eat banana's by themselves. Ever since I got sick one time while consuming one, I've struggled to do it again. My wife offers every week, and I decline every week. I don't beat her up for offering.

I just like my banana's in dessert form...and yes, I know it is the perfect food. I've heard all the speeches. I just think perfect food tastes better if it's sweet.

I also like my corn on a cob. I don't like canned tastes like...a can. Creamed corn? Are you kidding? No way! On the cob is fine, or just shaved off is good, but please, not out of a can.

I sound very picky. I really am not. I eat most anything...with these exceptions, and well, I don't like cooked spinach, or asparagus in any form.

When the Sonic treats arrived, I was on the phone. My banana shake which had caused horror and repulsion among the staff was given to the wrong person. Even while being on the phone, I found joy and humor in this. I kept waiting for the unsuspecting victim to bring me my shake with a foul look on his face, to trade for the one I was given.

Fifteen or twenty minutes later, he strolled into my office....without the shake. Still on the phone, I fought to control my laughter. It seems up to that point, he did not realize he was drinking the wrong one. Only when he got to near the bottom of the cup and found two banana slices did he realize he had consumed mine.

This man, who rebelled loudly over the issue of my specific dessert, did not even realize that his pre-conceived notions were off base.

Very often, I have found this to be true among those who come to Christ. The fears they bring in terms of what they may have to give up, or what others will say, or general misunderstandings about what truth is, often fall away as empty chatter. He "tastes" far better than expected!

He's not even an "acquired" taste. He brings truth, and life to all who believe. His love for us pushes past the borders of our view of Him. Those who fear not liking banana shakes, will be fully satisfied if they "taste and see."

When I got home from work last night, Deanna had made banana pudding. It's wonderful.

To any of the staff at the office who were so overly critical about my "like" of banana confections? You don't know what you are missing!

You've heard it said, "the proof is in the pudding?" Well this is true. Both with Deanna's Banana Pudding, and with Christ!

"Taste and see that the Lord is good!" Psalm 34:8


Monday, June 04, 2007

School's finally out! Woo hoo. Teachers and students everywhere rejoice and feel the relief. It always seems wrong to be in school when June arrives. And here it is, the 4th already. wow. How time flies when you're having so much fun.

Well, my schedule this week will be my own, I'm thankful for that. I get time to take a deep breath and rest and get refreshed and rejuvenated and not have to wake up at the crack of dawn. I am a morning person so I really prefer an early schedule anyway. Sleeping in is difficult for me any day... but, it's still nice to have a break from your routine, for sure! The question is, can I forget about school? Will my mind give it a rest? I'll do my best...

Next week, our leadership training for all the different summer teams begins. We drive to Dallas together on Friday the 15th for more training with all the students. We're sending teams to India, Panama, Ecuador and Peru. We all fly out to our respective countries on Wednesday, the 20th. The Peru team flies to Equador, then we'll take a bus ride to Peru after that... sounds like the beginning of an amazing adventure!

Yesterday, our church prayed for us. In all three services. It moved me, it helped focus me, it was very affirming and it spurned me to pray for others as well. We need to be reminded that we're all missionaries wherever we go, next door, across town or across the ocean.

I'm so very grateful that we get the opportunity to go. It's an honor and a privilege and a responsibility that we do not take lightly. We pray intensely for God's protection and provision. We trust in His guidance. We know He is preparing the way for us so that His work can be done. We're so excited that we get to be part of what God is already doing!

Teach us how to reach those we are going to share with. The drama Awe Star Ministry uses is such a powerful tool. Thank you for it Father and we pray it continues to be effective. May each character play their part with enthusiasm. As so often in ministry or a teaching post, we learn more ourselves than we end up teaching or sharing. May it be so with us. We have so much to learn ourselves. Open our eyes, our ears and our hearts to them and give us wisdom, put Your words in our mouths. Help us listen and help us care with deep affection.

May we proclaim Your truth clearly and help them to understand and recognize it. Minimize the petty conflicts. May we deal with the frustrations that are sure to come with grace and submission to You Father. You are in control even when we are not (which is, what... most of the time?) and for that we are truly thankful. I pray for all of those who go to experience God in a different, fresh, real way that will make a difference in their lives when they come home.

Did you know that Americans make up 5% of the world's population? And we consume 40% of its resources? Going on mission trips or any trips out of the U.S. opens up our minds to how the rest of the world lives. It's incredible, it's humbling, it's just plain astounding that we are so wealthy. Thank you to those of you who share your wealth, especially if you contributed to a mission trip or missionary.

Have a great day!

Friday, June 01, 2007

Doing the right thing can cost you something.

I can think of many instances in life where doing what was best came at an unpopular price. Either to my family, those at work, or whatever the situation.

Recently, our church nursery has been in significant need of workers. I am not sure what happened since I don't have any little ones, but I've heard that we had paid workers who got a better offer at another church. They all of a sudden left...together. I don't think I've ever heard of that happening before.

I don't know if that is actually what happened, but that is the story circulating. Regardless, you already know I ended up in the nursery two Sundays ago.

I love children. Being in the nursery is not a big deal to me. It's a lot like being a grandparent. You get to have fun with the kids, amp them up on sugar and stuff, and then give them back to their parents.

One of the young men in the toddler room that day had a virus. I know this because it kept running out his nose and crusting over on his face. I pretty much chased him around the room with a kleenex. Somehow he thought it was a game and never wearied of it.

I was surprised by that as my own children expressed themselves rather dramatically if I came towards them with tissue in hand.

Less than a week later, it happened. That little virus had chased out of his head and into mine. I was down for four days. I behaved less like him and more like my own kids. I did not let Deanna chase me around the house with tissue. I did not want to play any games. I was pretty much a lethargic mass of inactivity as I lay on the couch watching "Alias," seasons 1 and 2 for four days.

I should have been reading my Bible.

I think Sydney Bristow (star of Alias) is like a female James Bond. However, I learned some of her biggest fans reside in Tulsa, and were insulted at that depiction of her. They think she is way beyond Bond's abilities.

I really should have been reading my Bible.

Perhaps that is because she is a woman and so were those chiming in. I don't know, I've never seen her use an inflatable raft as an escape from a crashing plane whose pilots have bailed out.

No, wait. That was "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom."

I guess she does have better martial arts skills than Bond. Her shooting skills are about the same. I've noticed that when either of them are firing at bad guys, the bad guys tend to fall. Whenever the bad guys fire, the safest place to be is directly in the path of the guns sights. Even when they use machine guns, they just leave cardboard cutouts of their intended victim. Bond and Bristow always walk away unscathed.

I think the government agencies they both worked for must take their cues from Old Testament warfare. When the smoke clears, none are left standing but the good guys.

When my head cleared, all of the shows were over. I think it might have been a bad dream...actually, many bad dreams. I didn't take any medication, so I can't blame it on drugs. I can't remember anything that happened either. Maybe it's age, kicking in. I am pretty old. My family tells me I don't remember things anymore. I think it's a ploy for them to get what they want.

I can't remember if it's working or not.

Anyway, back to reading my that what I was doing?

That little boy running around the nursery with a faucet for a nose. He's to blame. If he had been faster, more Bond-like, more Bristow-like, I wouldn't have been infected. I really hope I worked in the nursery the Sunday before last, cause this is all starting to scare me.

Do the right thing because it's the right thing. Regardless of the cost, the Lord will affirm you.