Friday, May 18, 2012

We've Made It This Far!!

Thoughts of packing boxes thrilled my soul as we received an offer on the house three years ago.  I knew that this was the first step towards our new journey that was leading us to the “Burg”.  While at moments I almost could not contain my excitement for this next part of our lives, I must admit that I had moments of near depression with the thoughts of leaving my security blanket- Statesville… The place where all of our family and friends were located.  

I must admit that it really feels like we have hit the fast-forward button and now we are almost three years down the road.  At times this journey has felt like a whirlwind.  Sometimes it felt like time would not pass fast enough for me to get see Luke for the few minutes that he would make an appearance from his cocoon.  

I reflect on the nights I felt as though I couldn’t push forward and the encouraging words that I would receive from family/friends or the card that would get me through the day.  The first semester by far was the longest, most grueling semester of Luke’s undergraduate degree for me.  I’m sure that he could argue otherwise for himself.  

As the undergraduate chapter closed this past weekend with the celebration of Luke’s graduation, you could not wipe the smile off of either of our faces-- or the rest of our family and friends- including those that were not able to attend the commencement activity!  For your viewing pleasure I have included some pictures below.

If you notice in the pictures, you will see Luke adorning a red stole… the Gratitude Stole.  In summary, “The Legend of the Stole of Gratitude” offers the opportunity for the graduate to say “Thanks for helping me make it through, thanks for making it possible for me to succeed!”  After the ceremony was done and we had cooled off after having some amazing food, Luke went to the jeep and comes back with this bright red stole.  He walks back over to us and tells me to come up to him, which I did (like a good wife), and he proceeded talking about how so many people helped him and us throughout his first round at Liberty.  He then continued on by telling me and everyone else how he could never accomplished pushing through without me.  How I made it possible to push through during the hard times and encourage him to keep striving.  As my heart melted, both of our eyes began filling with tears.  He briefly explained the Legend and then turned to me and adorned me with his bright red stole.  I honestly felt completely unworthy of receiving this honor from him.  I immediately started thinking about everyone that I felt was worthy of this honor and it wasn’t me.   

Simple story indeed, life impacting indeed, a moment that I will always cherish- you better believe it.
Throughout this journey thus far- and yes it continues this fall with Luke attending Liberty’s Law School, has given me the opportunity to see how God provides for you.  How He holds you through it all.  How amazing it is for others to be used as a vessel by sending an encouraging word.  How every step that I take prepares me to help others, comfort others, support others, and just be there for others that walk through this journey.  I must admit that I am human and that I have questioned God and wondered what He was doing and occasionally if He was really in control and allowing certain items to happen… Hindsight is 20/20.  I have come to learn that I truly must not lean on my understanding- my plan- my thoughts- that I must draw near to my Father who is in control and definitely knows better than any human being of what step to take.

Here’s to a fun-filled summer of having the opportunity to be spoiled by the amount of time Luke is not preoccupied with studies and also the opportunity to reflect on all of God’s mercy thus far on the journey.  While part of me is dreading another 3 years of school, I must admit that I am truly excited and while I want to know the next step after law, I will remain content on our current status.  Cherish each second that I have.  Challenge myself that in every action and every thought that I have, that I will bring honor and glory my Glorious Provider.  

In closing, thank you for your support and prayers that helped us come this far.  

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Who are you?

1 “Listen, O Israel! Today you are about to cross the Jordan River to take over the land belonging to nations much greater and more powerful than you. They live in cities with walls that reach to the sky! 2 The people are strong and tall—descendants of the famous Anakite giants. You’ve heard the saying, ‘Who can stand up to the Anakites?’  Deut. 9:1-2
‘Who can stand up to the Anakites?’
            As I read the news tonight it seems that all I see in politics is corruption, deceit and lies.  In the world of public opinion, all I can seem to read about are “reality TV shows” that are so far from reality they seem like something from a bad dream.  I heard a secular commentator say the other day that “The institution of marriage is ruined, not by homosexuality, but by pop culture.”  Celebrities who we invite into our home through our T.V.’s are married and divorced on a weekly basis, pornography is a multi-billion dollar industry, affairs are rampant and Christians when surveyed are no different than the rest of the world. 
“Who can stand up to the Anakites?” 
Who can overcome these monstrous issues of our time, who can fight them? Who can defeat them? Who… Who are you?  I have a note in my phone that I see regularly, it says: “Were you Luke? God will ask you this.”  I have not been created to be anybody but me, I have not been created to be Billy Graham or Charles Spurgeon, I was created to be me.  God created me for a purpose. In philosophy we say that when something is and it does not have to be it is for a purpose.  I did not have to exist, but I do.  I have purpose.  My ultimate purpose is to Glorify God, whether I eat or drink all should be to glorify God.  I can do this by serving him, by presenting my body as a living sacrifice to him.  Though it may seem that I loose in doing so, to die to sin and become alive in him is Gain.  God will not ask me why I wasn’t as good as _______. He will ask me if I was who he created me to be. Were you Luke? 
So many people in this world are searching for who they are, they look to pop culture and style, they dress a certain way and walk a certain way to fit the mold they have created, but it is all foolishness, it will never fill.  I’ve tried it, I’ve ran one way when my purpose was another, I failed.  Now, though I may become distracted at times, I am going in the right direction, and as I draw closer to God he shows me more and more who I really am.  Sometimes I don’t like what I see, but when I see frailty and weakness in myself I can see the limitless grace, and love that is Him. 
I am a wretch deserving of punishment, He is my savior.
I am imperfect, He is the spotless Lamb.
I fail, He succeeds.
I am a sinner, He is my savior.
As long as I look for my identity within myself I will never find it, I will never be satisfied.  It is only by looking at our creator that we can see, what we, His creation was meant to be.  He has given me life. He has taken the punishment that I deserved. So who am I, I am His. 
“Who can defeat the Anakites?”
You can Christian! but do not look to destroy the giants in society, first you must look inside yourself.  First you must defeat all selfishness and pride that lies within you.  He that loses his life shall find it.  You must let go of the feeling of entitlement, you must understand that you are not your own, you have been bought with a price.  Your children, and you, can have a better future, but it will have to start with you.  Total surrender to Christ is the only real solution, all else is smoke and mirrors.  It begins in your heart, but it must consume all.  Your relationships, your work, everything.  Put Christ first in your marriage, put Christ first in your relationship with your children, forget about what you think you deserve, grow up and open your eyes, the time is now. Decide today to follow God, trust Christ, and discover your purpose.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Answer For 2012

     It seems I always get this urge to write late at night.  Here it is 12:41 and I should be cuddled up to a hottie (my wife, just to clarify) and I am writing, very frustrating.  Last time I wrote I was somewhat of a downer, “they’re all liberal progressives run!” that kind of thing.  I thought I would change it up a bit tonight.
     It is so easy to get discouraged when we see everything going on in the world around us, so tonight I want to encourage.  What is a Christian to do?  How can we make a difference?  It really isn’t as hard as we make it out to be, we have the answer in one sentence.  Matthew 6:33 says, “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all of these things will be added to you”.  What things?  In the preceding verses Jesus has just told the Disciples, “you are wasting your time worrying” (paraphrase) instead “seek God and his righteousness”.  He promises that if we will seek him he will take care of the rest.
     So, what would happen if every Christian said, “OK God whatever you say that is what I will do.”  It is a scary thought, but liberating at the same time.  When God is in control you do not have to worry about clothes and groceries and such, in fact Christ tells us not to.  I challenge you to tell God that you are his slave and you will do whatever he tells you to do and then just do it, no conditions or qualifiers, just be willing to do or go, whatever or wherever.   I promise you will be amazed at what he does.  You may even end up in Lynchburg Virginia.: )   
Do not worry, let God be your master and let him have control, he can handle it, I promise. He Promises!  The question is do you trust him?

Goodnight, Jessica here I come!!!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Conservative or Not Conservative

The election of Barack Obama in 2008 and his subsequent radical agenda was one of the best things that could have happened to our country.  It awoke the conscience of the people, and it showed what can happen when the people become apathetic.  I have never heard so much talk about politics, and granted, I have probably not been as interested in the past as I am now, but the TEA party is an example of the new resolve that has swept the nation.  The last four years have gotten us to think about what we want for ourselves, our futures and our families.  Do we want lives that are more regulated, with government hand-outs, or do we want more freedom and less regulation to do with our lives as we see fit.  This has become the dividing line of our nation, and 2012 is the time to make the choice which way we will go.  The problem is the choice is not as clear in real life as it is on paper.  There are those on the right and the left who want power and station for themselves, they do not care about Liberty or the Constitution, it is a matter of how do I get elected and get as much power as possible.  There are those, Republicans and Democrats who believe that Government is the answer to the problems, that more regulation and more government programs can fix the ills of society.  President Obama and his healthcare plan are a perfect example of this kind of thinking.  The fact is most government programs cost way more than they produce and do not accomplish anything except to get in the way of ordinary people who are just trying to live their lives and be left alone.
                So what is the answer?  Well we are all involved and awake, it’s an election year, what are my choices?  Oh… ewww…ouch…eek… are just some of the expressions that come to mind when we see our alternatives to the current administration, but we have to face facts no matter how much we dislike the choices almost anything would be better than what we have now.  Anything, that is except for possibly a fraud.  President Obama never made it a secret who he was before the election in 2008 and he was elected, O.K.  But in our field of choices we have a candidate who says that he is a Reagan conservative, the conservative alternative to Mitt Romney yup you guessed it, Newt.  Is Newt giving us the whole story?  I don’t think so and I want to lay out why I think that is.  Newt may be your guy and if he is OK, but I ask you to hear me out, if you still feel the same after reading this article by all means stick to your principles, but at least know what those principles are and whether or not Newt is with you.
                Newt talks like a conservative in these debates and gives these wonderful sounding monologues about how he is the small government guy the Ronald Reagan conservative, but he seems to forget who his favorite president of the 20th century is, Reagan? Nope, FDR he said: “...the greatest Democratic President of the 20th century and in my judgment the greatest President of the 20th century was FDR"[1] Not just once but multiple times.  The president that gave us the New Deal and began our modern entitlement society, the Great depression was only called the Great depression in America because of FDR’s policies.  So Newt the conservative likes FDR, who let’s just say was not conservative.
                Newt can also be heard saying that he is a Teddy Roosevelt Republican, what does that mean?  Well TR was the founder of the Progressive party whose aim it was to make sure that the federal government remained stronger than the free market. Hmmm. So, conservative Gingrich aligns with a guy who wanted to increase the power of government, in order to control markets. OK.[2]
                What about the example cited earlier of Mr. Obama’s healthcare plan, surely Gingrich would be against that.  Well, he says it should be repealed but he also says that every American should be required to buy health insurance… So Ronald Reagan conservative Newt believes FDR is the greatest president of the 20th century, calls himself a Teddy Roosevelt Republican, which means progressive, and supports an individual mandate.  The truth is Newt is a big government guy, he is no better than Romney and may be worse, Romney has his healthcare thing in Massachusetts working against him but on the state level there is nothing wrong with what he did, and I know there are plenty of other things to fuss about Romney, but at the same time I do not believe he is prancing around claiming to be something he is not, he is a moderate, and I think he would admit that.  Gingrich on the other hand holds to a national individual mandate, believes government can lead through regulation,  and still claims to be conservative.  It just doesn’t add up.
                The problem arises when we elect someone who says they are conservative and they really aren’t.  Their policies do not work and then it looks like conservatism does not work and then liberals are back in power.  We need to be awake, the right and the left are infected.  If we do elect another progressive republican, and make no mistake I will vote for Newt before I send Barack back, we must be very tenacious in our calls for their accountability.  Mitt and Newt say they are for small government, they better be careful, the public is watching and it will not be as easy to back pedal now.  The people are awake, and unless you want to be the next one term president you better stick to what you say.  We must stay involved and stay informed if we are going to change the course of this country, we must hold our politicians and each other accountable.  We have to do the research.  Search Newt Gingrich on the internet and find his views on the individual mandate, climate change, and wilsonian foreign policy.  Learn who Theodore Roosevelt was and what he stood for, then do the same for every other candidate, just do not make the mistake of believing that Newt is conservative, he is not.
I am not saying any of the other candidates are better I just want you to dig as deep as possible to find out what they actually believe.