AccounTEXTability

May 24, 2009 at 11:33 pm (Biblei-Octopi, Inspirational) (, , )

Tools Needed: cell phone w/ active text capabilities

[WEEKLY]

At the beginning of each week (i.e. Sunday):
1) Text or call each other with an update on a prayer focus for the week;
2) Share a verse that you’d like to memorize for the week (option of memorizing each others verses)

[DAILY]
1) Agree on a time to regularly expect a text from each other (i.e. AM, PM, lunch break, etc). Text a simple prayer (most cell providers cap out a single text at 120-160 characters) – can be as simple as “I’m praying for you today” but I recommend you to be more specific, as this will go along way to provide a boost of daily encouragement to each other.

[RECOMMENDATIONS]
>I’ve been doing this for a week now with 3 close friends and have been blessed/encouraged beyond what I initially imagined. My friends have been very specific and challenging in their prayers which has both refreshed me and given me something to ponder for the day. I look forward to praying for them and the discipline of doing so reminds me to be praying more fully for other people and aspects of my life.
>Augment your texted prayers by calling/meeting each other regularly, whether weekly or monthly. My friends are all long distance, so the power of technology has been well used to bring us closer.

[TRY IT TODAY…]
Send a simple text to your friends (not everyone that I sent the initial text to responded or wanted to do it, that’s fine, it’s not for everyone). Text I used (took 2 messages):

[MSG #1] Would you like to commit to accounTEXTability w/ me? Rules: DAILY 1) send a quick text prayer for each other, as simple as “Im praying for you” or a specific…
[MSG #2] prayer. 2) send a verse, request or praise as it comes up. WEEKLY (on Sunday) 1) prayer request for the week, 2) a verse for the week (option to memorize)

Let me know how it goes.

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints. Ephesians 6:18 (NIV)

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Songs of Greatest Impact

February 24, 2009 at 6:07 pm (Inspirational, Sights & Sounds) (, , , , , , , , )

I was in the car yesterday and in the middle of a time consuming detour, “Reject” by Living Sacrifice came up on my iPod. For those of you that are unaware of this Christian Hardcore/Metal milestone, Living Sacrifice was one of the bands that I believe was pivotal in ushering in a new era of clarity in message being expressed through a quality and relevant medium (ie Hardcore music). For those of you that have experienced this tasty treat, recall for a moment where you were at when Reject assaulted your eardrums and you were awakened to a reality where Christian music could challenge you as well as rock your face off.

As my long journey on roads never traveled, this detour through Memoriam (ha ha – Living Sacrifice’s last album) afforded me additional time to consider other milestone songs. I tried to compile the “best of” with these factors: 1) Song must have a clear message; 2) Song must inspire passion; 3) Song must be crisply executed (quality); 4) Must still be relevant today (still sounds good)

Hardcore: Reject by Living Sacrifice

Alternative: Jesus Freak by DC Talk

Contemporary:
Shine by Newsboys or Big House by Audio Adrenaline – “Secret Ambition” by Michael W. Smith deserves a nod and possibly should top the list, who was edgier than MWS in his initial era?

*I recognize there is a host of songs that church going folk will have been inundated with via Christian radio and even the “special music” from church – perhaps some of those belong on this list or maybe a separate category. Some of them may be jaded by their redundancy but a few that come to mind are “Mary Did You
Know” by Michael English; “Thank You” by Ray Boltz

Rap: “What Do You See” by Cross Movement
*I will admit that this is not a genre that I have extensive knowledge of, but I think most that enjoy this arena will have to recognize the impact that Cross Movement has had.

Ska: “Unite” by Supertones

Punk: “Never Die” by Dogwood (“Control” is also another great offering by Dogwood but slightly more mellow) “JCHC” by Officer Negative also came to mind
*I recognize that MxPx owns the most widespread audience as a Christian Punk Band but in the early days of their music where the message was clearest the quality wasn’t but perhaps “Teenage Politics” deserves a nod.

Hair Metal: “To Hell With The Devil” by Stryper

*Is there really any argument here? What was better at the time than yellow spandex and weapons that only the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles had access to.

Before some of you music buffs go crazy and start rioting at my house, please note that this was mainly written on the fly with only my memories to serve me. This list is certainly up for discussion and I’d love to hear back from you all. Keep in the mind the (4) distinctives that I tried to use to guide this list.

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A Chain Letter for Christmas?

December 29, 2008 at 6:01 am (Inspirational, Parents, Seasonal, Words (Not Mine))

I received another chain-letter email, something I don’t normally read as 1) who knows if they are even true and 2) I think the, “Do this or Jesus will smite you” references are appauling. But for some reason this one caught my full attention. I’ve removed the chain-letter plea, even though this one is far better than most as it simply called for you to pray for four people.

What struck me about this story though is the resillience of the woman – life is a challenge and often throws circumstances at you that are ominous, you can either fold under pressure or make the best of your situation. The woman in the story isn’t a victim, she rolls up her sleeves and gets creative with her solutions. We need more of this spirit in individuals, corporations and even government.

The second thing that grabbed my attention is the reality that we all have opportunities to be that heart warming Christmas story. It is that time of year and while you may not have a sleigh that travels the world over in under 12 hours, a small act of kindness can be a big deal to someone in need.

In September 1960, I woke up one morning with six hungry babies and just 75 cents in my pocket.
Their father was gone.

The boys ranged from three months to seven years; their sister was two. Their Dad had never been much more than a presence they feared. Whenever they heard his tires crunch on the gravel driveway
they would scramble to hide under their beds.

He did manage to leave $15 a week to buy groceries. Now that he had decided to leave, there would be no more beatings, but no food either. If there was a welfare system in effect in southern
Indiana at that time, I certainly knew nothing about it.

I scrubbed the kids until they looked brand new and then put on my best homemade dress, loaded
them into the rusty old 51 Chevy and drove off to find a job.

The seven of us went to every factory, store and restaurant in our small town. No luck. The kids stayed crammed into the car and tried to be quiet while I tried to convince who ever would listen that I was willing to learn or do anything. I had to have a job. Still no luck.

The last place we went to, just a few miles out of town, was an old Root Beer Barrel drive-in that had been converted to a truck stop. It was called the Big Wheel.

An old lady named Granny owned the place and she peeked out of the window from time to time at all those kids. She needed someone on the graveyard shift, 11 at night until seven in the morning. She paid 65 cents an hour, and I could start that night.

I raced home and called the teenager down the street that baby-sat for people. I bargained with her to come and sleep on my sofa for a dollar a night. She could arrive with her pajamas on and the kids would already be asleep. This seemed like a good arrangement to her, so we made a deal.

That night when the little ones and I knelt to say our prayers, we all thanked God for finding Mommy a job. And so I started at the Big Wheel.

When I got home in the mornings I woke the baby-sitter up and sent her home with one dollar of my tip money– fully half of what I averaged every night.

As the weeks went by, heating bills added a strain to my meager wage. The tires on the old Chevy had the consistency of penny balloons and began to leak. I had to fill them with air on the way to work and again every morning before I could go home.

One bleak fall morning, I dragged myself to the car to go home and found four tires in the back seat. New tires! There was no note, no nothing, just those beautiful brand new tires. Had angels taken up
residence in Indiana ? I wondered.

I made a deal with the local service station. In exchange for his mounting the new tires, I would clean up his office. I remember it took me a lot longer to scrub his floor than it did for him to do the tires.

I was now working six nights instead of five and it still wasn’t enough. Christmas was coming and I knew there would be no money for toys for the kids. I found a can of red paint and started repairing
and painting some old toys. Then I hid them in the basement so there would be something for Santa to
deliver on Christmas morning.

Clothes were a worry too. I was sewing patches on top of patches on the boys pants and soon they would be too far gone to repair. On Christmas Eve the usual customers were drinking coffee in the Big Wheel. There were the truckers, Les, Frank, and Jim, and a state trooper named Joe. A few musicians were
hanging around after a gig at the Legion and were dropping nickels in the pinball machine. The regulars all just sat around and talked through the wee hours of the morning and then left to get home before the sun came up.

When it was time for me to go home at seven o’clock on Christmas morning, to my amazement, my old battered Chevy was filled full to the top with boxes of all shapes and sizes. I quickly opened the driver’s side door, crawled inside and kneeled in the front facing the back seat.

Reaching back, I pulled off the lid of the top box. Inside was whole case of little blue jeans, sizes 2-10!
I looked inside another box: It was full of shirts to go with the jeans. Then I peeked inside some of the other boxes. There was candy and nuts and bananas and bags of groceries. There was an enormous ham for baking, and canned vegetables and potatoes. There was pudding and Jell-O and cookies, pie
filling and flour. There was whole bag of laundry supplies and cleaning items. And there were five toy trucks and one beautiful little doll.

As I drove back through empty streets as the sun slowly rose on the most amazing Christmas Day of my life, I was sobbing with gratitude. And I will never forget the joy on the faces of my little ones
that precious morning.

Yes, there were angels in Indiana that long-ago December. And they all hung out at the Big Wheel truck stop….

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Rocket Fuel – Rich Franklin

December 29, 2008 at 5:44 am (Inspirational, Sports, Words (Not Mine)) (, , , , , )

Rich Franklin (UFC)

Rich Franklin (UFC)

I received this as a bulletin from Rich Franklin’s MySpace and thought it was an encouraging note from a positive sports role-model.

DRINK GALLONS OF ROCKET FUEL

Many people are desperate to escape – it could be a dark childhood; maybe alcohol or drug abuse; perhaps excessive eating and neglected fitness; or just a dispiriting, everyday routine. There is an aching need to escape personal gravity.

The force I’m talking about is that irresistible pull that keeps us gravity-bound to a place we no longer want to be. Which brings us to NASA. A rocket, fire-blasting off its pad at Cape Canaveral, burns 90% of its fuel at take off – in the first seconds. Once the rocket does break earth’s gravitational pull, however, it sails through space with comparative ease. So it is with us.

Breaking away from our everyday world requires us to expend extraordinary energy – to achieve lift off and create a new trajectory. When accomplished, we are free.

I know a few people who, through bad breaks or bad decisions, found themselves on a personal planet where they no longer wanted to be. But through the burning of their own rocket fuel – of determination, focus, work and discipline – launched themselves into new space. When training for a fight, I stay in a city far from Cincinnati, to break the gravitational pull of my home routine. This was especially critical in the weeks prior to the Travis Lutter fight in Montreal. Due to my father’s unexpected death, it took all my concentrated will to blast away from my overwhelming sadness and prepare in Seattle.

For those determined to rise to another orbit – intent to someday look back to the place they left behind – what is needed is rocket fuel. It lies deep within our souls – you can summon it, you can ignite it. eventually, you will soar.

Keep Striving,

Rich Franklin

See More of Ohio school teacher who became Ultimate Fighting Championship’s (UFC) Former Middle Weight Champion and American Fighter Founder Rich Franklin:
MySpace
Website

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Experiencing God’s Sovereignty First Hand

December 29, 2008 at 5:36 am (Inspirational, Parents, Words (Not Mine)) (, )

May 2008 – Article by a family friend who just suffered the loss of their 3 1/2 yr old son

Beauty Instead of Ashes (as posted on lifewithoutlimbs.org)

A mother and her young daughter attended one of Nick’s recent meetings in Ventura at Bible Fellowship Church. Only six weeks prior, her 3-year-old son had choked to death. Still living in a fog of grief, she attended the meeting at the urging of her daughter. After hearing Nick share from his heart about how he prayed for a miracle for himself, but came to realize God was making him into a miracle for others, she was deeply moved.

She told Nick that she could hang on to that hope. Also, while attending the meeting, her young daughter, asked Jesus into her heart. She wrote a letter telling how God had begun to turn the worst day of her life into something that God could use to comfort and help others. To read her story, please go to the Stories section of our website.

In Isaiah 61, it tells how God turns ashes into beauty and mouring into praise. It declares His ability to turn a spirit of despair into a garment of praise. Only God can do that! Praise His glorious name! (May 28, 2008)

Experiencing Gods Sovereignty First Hand
(Amber’s Letter) Six weeks ago today the worst thing I have ever experienced happened to my family. My 3 1/2 year old son choked to death. My husband and I performed CPR on him as his little life slipped away on our living room floor as our 6 year old daughter watched and prayed for God not to let her little brother die. In a matter of minutes my world was ripped apart.

As I followed the ambulance with my husband and son in it, my daughter and I sang Our God is an Awesome God and prayed the Lord’s Prayer. I just knew God would hear our cry and everything would be O.K. I remember my daughter saying “mommy is Caleb going to die”? I wanted to say No baby God will make him be o.k. But I quickly realized that I did not know only God knew. And I told her I don’t know but whatever happens it is Gods will.

When we arrived at the hospital my pastor and his wife were there (I had called the church to let them know what had happened and to please pray. The church office assistant answered and began the prayer chain) my pastor’s wife took my daughter to take care and comfort her. My pastor stood by my husband’s side as they worked on my son. As I stood there in a fog everything around me seemed make believe like I was in a bubble or a dream.

A hospital staff person got my attention. She wanted me to provide some insurance info. I could not think straight but somehow was able to provide what was needed. We have another daughter that is a teenager who was at work I called a Close family friend to pick her up from work and bring her to the hospital. The Drs. continued to work on my son allowing me to be by his side I spoke to him prayed and sang. At some point I ask if I could try and the Dr. said yes. They let me do CPR on my son. As I counted and did
compressions someone else breathed for him using a hand held breathing apparatus. I soon realized that my son was no longer with us. As he lay lifeless on the table with tubes coming out of his mouth, as a mother I knew!

My husband and pastor watched as I did this. I remember a Dr. asking if we wanted to call it I had seen enough DR. shows on TV to know what that meant I asked if they could wait until my daughter arrived. By this time I was holding my son I don’t know how much time had gone by. I held him wrapping him up in his blanket that I had brought from home. I rocked him and sang to him. (Zacheus and, Jesus loves me) I always sang to him to make him feel better.

I soon heard the cries of my older daughter. My husband met her as she arrived. As I heard her cry my heart ached even more. I don’t remember exactly when but the Dr. spoke briefly to my husband and I and we agreed to “call it” the time was almost 2:30 and the worst day of my life had began somewhere around 1 ish an hour and a half had gone by and our lives were changed forever. Our friends took the girls home and my husband and I stayed along with our pastor and his wife.

We had to wait for the coroner to come and do their formalities. Hospital staff came in and out as we sat. Finally we were done and it was time to leave. We left the hospital empty hearted and empty handed, the same place where my son was born 3 1/2 years ago. My husband and I sat in the parking lot for a while numb and broken hearted. I felt sick to my stomach and empty all at the same time.

When we returned home the house was quiet and empty. I called our friends to let them know we were home and that they could bring the girls home. The girls arrived home we hugged them. That evening our church was having a service with a guest singer who my six year old loves. She asked if we were still going to go. After a bit of conversation we decided that I would go and take the girls. When I arrived at church I felt peace in my darkest hour.

We had just been at church that morning and my sons was singing during praise and worship and running up and down the isle’s after the service. While at the evening service my six year old was asked to come up on the stage with the singer. The singer asked her what she wanted to sing and she said “Jesus loves me”. I have never seen such courage and grace my little six year old who had just gone through a horrible ordeal sang her heart out for the Lord. Shortly after she sang she said “mommy I want to go home” so we did.

My husband and I put the girls to bed in our bed they fell asleep as we watched over them. My husband and I did not sleep that night. That night was the longest night of my life. Little did I know that the days and weeks to come would be the same. The next morning we began calling family members and planning to make arrangements. Our pastor was by our side from start to finish. Our church family was also right there along with our families and close friends. I have never felt so alone in the midst of so many people.

All arrangements were made and completed. We had the most glorious home going celebration for my son I could ever image there were over 250 people who attended. You would have thought he was royalty. (He was Part of Gods royal family). As we strive to resume our lives and get back to the “New Normal” If it were not for our faith in the Lord I would not be here today to function or to share my story.

My husband asked “What is God trying to teach us?” and I replied instantly God is not trying to teach us anything he is using us. I don’t know exactly how or why I just know. My girls are back into a routine eating, sleeping, happy smiling and laughing again. My husband and I are back at work, sleeping and eating as well.

Although we miss him terribly, we have the peace of God that truly passes all of understanding and all of our memories of our son Caleb Joshua Williams (There is meaning in a name) our son made it to the promise land! Last night after a full day of activities my six year old daughter who is now seven saw the sign for Life Without Limbs she said Mommy I want to see the man with no arms and no legs. So I took her. And while there Nicks message confirmed that God uses his people to reach others. Like Nick my family and I are someone else’s miracle. Thank you for letting me share my story.

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Another Christmas Chain

December 18, 2008 at 5:44 pm (Inspirational, Parents, Seasonal, Words (Not Mine)) (, , , , , )

I received another chain-letter email, something I don’t normally read as 1) who knows if they are even true and 2) I think the, “Do this or Jesus will smite you” references are appauling. But for some reason this one caught my full attention. I’ve removed the chain-letter plea, even though this one is far better than most as it simply called for you to pray for four people.

What struck me about this story though is the resillience of the woman – life is a challenge and often throws circumstances at you that are ominous, you can either fold under pressure or make the best of your situation. The woman in the story isn’t a victim, she rolls up her sleeves and gets creative with her solutions. We need more of this spirit in individuals, corporations and even government.

The second thing that grabbed my attention is the reality that we all have opportunities to be that heart warming Christmas story. It is that time of year and while you may not have a sleigh that travels the world over in under 12 hours, a small act of kindness can be a big deal to someone in need.

In September 1960, I woke up one morning with six hungry babies and just 75 cents in my pocket.
Their father was gone.

The boys ranged from three months to seven years; their sister was two. Their Dad had never been much more than a presence they feared. Whenever they heard his tires crunch on the gravel driveway
they would scramble to hide under their beds.

He did manage to leave $15 a week to buy groceries. Now that he had decided to leave, there would be no more beatings, but no food either. If there was a welfare system in effect in southern
Indiana at that time, I certainly knew nothing about it.

I scrubbed the kids until they looked brand new and then put on my best homemade dress, loaded
them into the rusty old 51 Chevy and drove off to find a job.

The seven of us went to every factory, store and restaurant in our small town. No luck. The kids stayed crammed into the car and tried to be quiet while I tried to convince who ever would listen that I was willing to learn or do anything. I had to have a job. Still no luck.

The last place we went to, just a few miles out of town, was an old Root Beer Barrel drive-in that had been converted to a truck stop. It was called the Big Wheel.

An old lady named Granny owned the place and she peeked out of the window from time to time at all those kids. She needed someone on the graveyard shift, 11 at night until seven in the morning. She paid 65 cents an hour, and I could start that night.

I raced home and called the teenager down the street that baby-sat for people. I bargained with her to come and sleep on my sofa for a dollar a night. She could arrive with her pajamas on and the kids would already be asleep. This seemed like a good arrangement to her, so we made a deal.

That night when the little ones and I knelt to say our prayers, we all thanked God for finding Mommy a job. And so I started at the Big Wheel.

When I got home in the mornings I woke the baby-sitter up and sent her home with one dollar of my tip money– fully half of what I averaged every night.

As the weeks went by, heating bills added a strain to my meager wage. The tires on the old Chevy had the consistency of penny balloons and began to leak. I had to fill them with air on the way to work and again every morning before I could go home.

One bleak fall morning, I dragged myself to the car to go home and found four tires in the back seat. New tires! There was no note, no nothing, just those beautiful brand new tires. Had angels taken up
residence in Indiana ? I wondered.

I made a deal with the local service station. In exchange for his mounting the new tires, I would clean up his office. I remember it took me a lot longer to scrub his floor than it did for him to do the tires.

I was now working six nights instead of five and it still wasn’t enough. Christmas was coming and I knew there would be no money for toys for the kids. I found a can of red paint and started repairing
and painting some old toys. Then I hid them in the basement so there would be something for Santa to
deliver on Christmas morning.

Clothes were a worry too. I was sewing patches on top of patches on the boys pants and soon they would be too far gone to repair. On Christmas Eve the usual customers were drinking coffee in the Big Wheel. There were the truckers, Les, Frank, and Jim, and a state trooper named Joe. A few musicians were
hanging around after a gig at the Legion and were dropping nickels in the pinball machine. The regulars all just sat around and talked through the wee hours of the morning and then left to get home before the sun came up.

When it was time for me to go home at seven o’clock on Christmas morning, to my amazement, my old battered Chevy was filled full to the top with boxes of all shapes and sizes. I quickly opened the driver’s side door, crawled inside and kneeled in the front facing the back seat.

Reaching back, I pulled off the lid of the top box. Inside was whole case of little blue jeans, sizes 2-10!
I looked inside another box: It was full of shirts to go with the jeans. Then I peeked inside some of the other boxes. There was candy and nuts and bananas and bags of groceries. There was an enormous ham for baking, and canned vegetables and potatoes. There was pudding and Jell-O and cookies, pie
filling and flour. There was whole bag of laundry supplies and cleaning items. And there were five toy trucks and one beautiful little doll.

As I drove back through empty streets as the sun slowly rose on the most amazing Christmas Day of my life, I was sobbing with gratitude. And I will never forget the joy on the faces of my little ones
that precious morning.

Yes, there were angels in Indiana that long-ago December. And they all hung out at the Big Wheel truck stop….

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