God + Circumstance = Change x Joy x Peace
Circumstance – God = Change x Anxiety / Despair
 
1. God does not cease to be good when our circumstances are bad.
We cannot define God by our circumstances. But we can define ourselves through our circumstances. 
Malachi 3:6-7“I the Lord do not change. So you, the descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed. Ever since the time of your ancestors you have turned away from my decrees and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you,” says the Lord Almighty.
Isaiah 29:16 “You turn things upside down, as if the potter were thought to be like the clay! Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, “You did not make me”? Can the pot say to the potter, “You know nothing”?”
Hebrews 13:5 …be content with what you have because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”
John 14:26-27 But the Advocate, The Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. 
2. God will not be mocked. His love endures forever. Because of that, his patience does have limits.
God may not cause our circumstances; but then again, he just might—and so might we. 
Galations 6:7 Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.
Psalm 14:1-4 The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds, there is none who does good. The Lord looks down from heaven on the children of man, to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God. They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt; there is none who does good, not even one. Have they no knowledge, all the evildoers who eat up my people as the eat bread and do not call upon the Lord?
Jeremiah 18:5-12 Then the word of the Lord came to me.  He said, “Can I not do with you, Israel, as this potter does?” declares the Lord. “Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, Israel. If at any time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be uprooted, torn down and destroyed, and if that nation I warned repents of its evil, then I will relent and not inflict on it the disaster I had planned…This is what the Lord Almighty says: I will smash this nation and this city just as this potter’s jar is smashed and cannot be repaired.”
Psalm 136:1-3 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good. His love endures forever. Give thanks to the God of gods. His love endures forever. Give thanks to the Lord of lords. His love endures forever.
3. Joy is the cure to anger, jealousy, hatred, anxiety and negative thinking. 
Our circumstances need not define us; but they will refine us to be overwhelmed or to overcome. 
Proverbs 27:4 “Anger is cruel and fury overwhelming, but who can stand before jealousy?”
Romans 9:21 “Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for special purposes and some for common use?” 
Isaiah 45:8-10 “Woe to those who quarrel with their Maker, those who are nothing but potsherds
 among the potsherds on the ground. 
 Does the clay say to the potter, 
 ‘What are you making? ’
Does your work say,‘The potter has no hands’? Woe to the one who says to a father,‘What have you begotten?’
Or to a mother, 
 ‘What have you brought to birth?’”
Philippians 4:4-9 Rejoice in the Lord always! Again I will say it: Rejoice!…Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your minds and hearts in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things… And the God of peace will be with you. 
4. Shame never brings change. ONLY submission, obedience and grace bring positive change. 
If we don’t leave it all at the altar, we can’t be altered at all. 
John 8:10-11Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” “No one, sir,” she said, “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”
Jeremiah 18:1-4This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: “Go down to the potter’s house, and there I will give you my message.” So I went down to the potter’s house, and I saw him working at the wheel. But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him. 
James 4:8-10Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.
Romans 12:1-2 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world; but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—His good, pleasing and perfect will. 
No matter our circumstances, as long as God is first in our hearts—above all and anyone else—we will have joy and peace as he intends. 
“God is still God. God is still good. To God be the glory.” Zac Smith 2010 

God + Circumstance = Change x Joy x Peace

Circumstance – God = Change x Anxiety / Despair

 

1. God does not cease to be good when our circumstances are bad.

We cannot define God by our circumstances. But we can define ourselves through our circumstances. 

Malachi 3:6-7“I the Lord do not change. So you, the descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed. Ever since the time of your ancestors you have turned away from my decrees and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you,” says the Lord Almighty.

Isaiah 29:16 “You turn things upside down, as if the potter were thought to be like the clay! Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, “You did not make me”? Can the pot say to the potter, “You know nothing”?”

Hebrews 13:5 …be content with what you have because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”

John 14:26-27 But the Advocate, The Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

2. God will not be mocked. His love endures forever. Because of that, his patience does have limits.

God may not cause our circumstances; but then again, he just might—and so might we. 

Galations 6:7 Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.

Psalm 14:1-4 The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds, there is none who does good. The Lord looks down from heaven on the children of man, to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God. They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt; there is none who does good, not even one. Have they no knowledge, all the evildoers who eat up my people as the eat bread and do not call upon the Lord?

Jeremiah 18:5-12 Then the word of the Lord came to me.  He said, “Can I not do with you, Israel, as this potter does?” declares the Lord. “Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, Israel. If at any time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be uprooted, torn down and destroyed, and if that nation I warned repents of its evil, then I will relent and not inflict on it the disaster I had planned…This is what the Lord Almighty says: I will smash this nation and this city just as this potter’s jar is smashed and cannot be repaired.”

Psalm 136:1-3 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good. His love endures forever. Give thanks to the God of gods. His love endures forever. Give thanks to the Lord of lords. His love endures forever.

3. Joy is the cure to anger, jealousy, hatred, anxiety and negative thinking. 

Our circumstances need not define us; but they will refine us to be overwhelmed or to overcome. 

Proverbs 27:4 “Anger is cruel and fury overwhelming, but who can stand before jealousy?”

Romans 9:21Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for special purposes and some for common use?” 

Isaiah 45:8-10 “Woe to those who quarrel with their Maker, those who are nothing but potsherds
 among the potsherds on the ground. 
 Does the clay say to the potter, 
 ‘What are you making? ’
Does your work say,‘The potter has no hands’? Woe to the one who says to a father,‘What have you begotten?’
Or to a mother, 
 ‘What have you brought to birth?’”

Philippians 4:4-9 Rejoice in the Lord always! Again I will say it: Rejoice!…Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your minds and hearts in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things… And the God of peace will be with you. 

4. Shame never brings change. ONLY submission, obedience and grace bring positive change. 

If we don’t leave it all at the altar, we can’t be altered at all. 

John 8:10-11Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” “No one, sir,” she said, “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

Jeremiah 18:1-4This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: “Go down to the potter’s house, and there I will give you my message.” So I went down to the potter’s house, and I saw him working at the wheel. But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him. 

James 4:8-10Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.

Romans 12:1-2 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world; but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—His good, pleasing and perfect will. 

No matter our circumstances, as long as God is first in our hearts—above all and anyone else—we will have joy and peace as he intends. 

“God is still God. God is still good. To God be the glory.” Zac Smith 2010 

“Christians are sent to bless the world, but never are we told to compromise with it.”

A.W. Tozer (via craigtowens)

This is why we stand or fall on what we believe. We can’t believe and not tell. It’s our job to tell TRUTH—biblical TRUTH. It’s God’s job to do the convincing. But we should NEVER compromise and think it’s a blessing. It’s sin.

HAIKU FOR THE SEASON
Fall drops its colors.
Leaves fall slowly to my feet.
Winter comes too soon. 

HAIKU FOR THE SEASON

Fall drops its colors.

Leaves fall slowly to my feet.

Winter comes too soon. 

HAIKU FOR YOU
God uses crayons!
Riotous colors abound!
Fall is His best time.

HAIKU FOR YOU

God uses crayons!

Riotous colors abound!

Fall is His best time.

daltonblankenship:

I love this pretend witch thickly; but only this one! She’s my daughter! And I am partial to the velvet curly cue hat because I embellished it with tulle and a vintage pewter hat buckle.

I also made her wand from an old mirror handle and two vintage scatter pins. That is her Grama’s ring. What we won’t do for costuming!

She handled the dress part. It was a floor-length blue satin gown that she handkerchief cut leaving the black tulle ‘slip’ to show.

But the absolute best are the spider-web stockings with skulls and her square-toed witch shoes. A completely perfect outfit don’t you think?

Getting ready for dress up day! We’re trading places this year I think. None of our witches are evil and we don’t cast spells…only correct spelling. And we entertain children and tell them all how to avoid the bad guys and stick with the good ones who speak from their hearts about love. God doesn’t look at how we’re dressed, only the overflow of our hearts and who we truly seek and serve.

I never got over playing dress up. It’s why I love theatre and Halloween. Only time I get to play with costumes! At our house it’s all fun and nobody puts their eyes out!

DON’T JUST PICK YOUR PLOT
For the second time in my life, I’ve been notified, well after the fact, that my best friend has died. Close friends. Ones that I’ve spent years with. Cried with. Laughed with. Shared high school and jobs and children and late night vigils and the stuff that makes up ‘sisterhood.’
But despite this, no one in the family thought to let me know. Because of this, I could not attend the funeral. I could not grieve with the family. I could not share in the funny stories and the sad ones and add some of my own to theirs. I was denied closure.
You may be thinking: “Well they lost a loved one. You just lost a friend.” True and I do grieve their loss most particularly. But I do not make friends easily. And when I do, it is with my whole heart and for life. Should something cause us to drift apart due to transfers or moves, they can hear me whisper the famous phrase from “Last of the Mohicans”: “I WILL FIND YOU!” And I always do.
The first loss was my friend of childbearing years. Our children sort of came in three year spurts; but her two were sandwiched neatly between my first and last. We were phone friends mostly because after about 18 months, I went back to work and she did the same. Phones kept us alive and sane back then. We knew we could call with whatever was on our minds and the other was ready to discuss, dispense advice or just listen (a very rare quality these days.)
She was probably the wittiest woman I have ever known, a prolific writer and she was usually the one who called in the middle of the night with issues. But one of the funniest things she ever said was the intro to a 3am call: “Are you in the middle of anyone?” I wasn’t; but it took me five whole minutes to stop laughing.
I was the one who moved. But we still kept our phone friendship. We talked for an average of four hours twice a year: once in June (her birthday and our son’s were the same day; mine was nine days later); and once at Christmas. It was enough….until I called that last Christmas. Her husband told me she had been in a horrendous automobile accident, she’d been hospitalized for several weeks—and then she died—that AUGUST. I could have gone to see her. I could have said goodbye. But no one called.
My high school best friend initially thought I was ‘stuck up’ until I finally convinced her that I was painfully shy. Like I said, making friends was not easy for me. But we were close back then. In fact, I sat in the back of our HS auditorium one March night as we were rehearsing for our spring Play Nite. I asked her who the boy was painting flats on the stage. (He had minutes before taken my 3” paintbrush away and proceeded to start painting the flat himself with an 8” wallpaper brush.) She told me his name and I said, “I’m going to marry him.” This was before I knew his name, you understand.
My friend told me I didn’t want to have anything to do with him. He wasn’t the kind of guy she thought I should hang around with. But I asked him out that weekend (it was our equivalent of Sadie Hawkins Day when girls can ask guys out). For me to do this was Spirit led, let me tell you. He said yes. We just celebrated the 50th anniversary of that date and our 47th anniversary.
Both of us moved, but she moved first and often. I managed to find her in November of 2010, the fall before our 45th HS Reunion. She was ecstatic and so was I! In December of that year, on her anniversary in fact (I was her matron of honor, she was my maid of honor), she found out that she had ovarian cancer.
We stayed in close touch and I insisted that she plan to come to the reunion. After much discussion, completion of chemotherapy and an incredible wig, she agreed. And I’m so grateful for that, as were many of our HS contacts.
Within two years, she had brain cancer. After two surgeries and two rounds of chemo, I went to see her in May of this year. She had been to my home twice and I once prior to this visit. She was in the hospital due to an infection; but we spent several hours together over two days. She knew me and could understand me; but had great difficulty with speech.
We called again tonight to check on everything. Her husband tolds us that she died in July. No chance to be with the family. No chance to laugh and share stories. No closure.
So what is the point of this post? It’s just this: making those FINAL ARRANGEMENTS is a very important thing to do. If you haven’t made yours.
I have some suggestions that might be of benefit to you.
1. Take a small loose leaf notebook and into it place the copies of the things I will mention. Either give one to each relevant family member, especially whomever you elect as executor of your estate, or make sure every family member has a document telling them where this notebook is.
2. Make your arrangements, all of them, in advance. Do this before you become ill, before you are unable or just don’t have the energy. Save your family the incredible confusion that results if you don’t.
3. Let your family know that you are doing so. Though they are your arrangements to make, they may have suggestions or concerns.
4. Copies of your will (If YOU haven’t made one, the STATE has made one for you. And they don’t give a rip what you wanted to do with your stuff.). This should also name your executor.
Copies of any power of attorney or power of attorney for medical decisions information or living will that refers to your medical wishes should be included. This differs by state. So be sure you have the proper forms, that they are filled out completely and notarized or signed by the appropriate witnesses. 
It is often helpful to notify your physician and make sure he/she has a copy attached to the INDSIDE FRONT of your chart if you are regularly cared for by the same MD or practice. This is especially important if you do not wish heroic measure to be taken in case you have a terminal illness (DNR order). Notifying your family in advance regarding your wishes and having them legally documented, saves everyone having to make trying decisions when they are least able to do so.
5. If you are financially able, decide on what you want done with your body (burial/cremation/donate to science) and prepay for these services. If you have arranged your ‘funeral’ care with a funeral home or mortuary in advance and paid for it, your family will not be subject to believing they have to ‘buy the best available’ at a time when they may not be thinking clearly. Make sure the family members have copies of these documents as well. It is far better for you to sit down with these people, choose what you wish from their assortment of services, pay for it (Or use an insurance plan that may be available. In the event of your death, if the entire amount is not paid, the rest is waived. This is what we have. It’s all paid for; arrangements made. No decisions for our family.)
6. If you are going to be buried, make sure the family has copies indicating your funeral home of choice, cemetery, plot and how your remains will be handled. There are usually charges for transporting a body from a distance, holding it for any length of time, and many, many other services that you may or may not wish to have your family utilize. If you do not completely preplan the entire funeral, you may want to at least discuss such things and how much they cost with your family beforehand.
7. Know what is required of your state regarding embalming. This may sound gross. But if you plan to be buried immediately, there is no need for embalming and it is a significant cost. It is not required for cremation at all, though many people think it is and pay for it needlessly.
8. If you wish to have any kind of service at your funeral or memorial, it is wise to plan that as well. You can pick who you wish to officiate and how to get in touch with them if it is not someone with whom the family is familiar. Leave a copy of the service: songs or hymns, scripture, poems or readings, whom you wish to give the eulogy and how to reach them (Might be good to ASK that person first!) If you want to have any memorabilia displayed (service connected medals, pictures, other articles that are uniquely YOU), make a list and make sure your family knows where to find these things.
9. And you might want to leave a list of friends that you wish to be notified upon your death. This is especially a lovely thing to do if you are having a memorial service rather than a funeral. It saves the family having to worry over who to notify or invite and insures that the people YOU care about most will know what has happened to you.
10. Take a weekend, go away somewhere, enjoy the idea of planning your own funeral, decide all the details, then return home and finalize everything by contacting all the relevant entities and persons. Make a trip to your funeral home of choice, pick out a casket or if you are going to be cremated, pick out an urn (or better yet, have someone make one for you!) 
Decide if you are able to prepay everything or ask if payment or insurance plans are available to ease this portion of the arrangements.
When it’s all said and done and in your notebook, your family will thank you. 
And so will your dear friends who get to come and tell you goodbye.

DON’T JUST PICK YOUR PLOT

For the second time in my life, I’ve been notified, well after the fact, that my best friend has died. Close friends. Ones that I’ve spent years with. Cried with. Laughed with. Shared high school and jobs and children and late night vigils and the stuff that makes up ‘sisterhood.’

But despite this, no one in the family thought to let me know. Because of this, I could not attend the funeral. I could not grieve with the family. I could not share in the funny stories and the sad ones and add some of my own to theirs. I was denied closure.

You may be thinking: “Well they lost a loved one. You just lost a friend.” True and I do grieve their loss most particularly. But I do not make friends easily. And when I do, it is with my whole heart and for life. Should something cause us to drift apart due to transfers or moves, they can hear me whisper the famous phrase from “Last of the Mohicans”: “I WILL FIND YOU!” And I always do.

The first loss was my friend of childbearing years. Our children sort of came in three year spurts; but her two were sandwiched neatly between my first and last. We were phone friends mostly because after about 18 months, I went back to work and she did the same. Phones kept us alive and sane back then. We knew we could call with whatever was on our minds and the other was ready to discuss, dispense advice or just listen (a very rare quality these days.)

She was probably the wittiest woman I have ever known, a prolific writer and she was usually the one who called in the middle of the night with issues. But one of the funniest things she ever said was the intro to a 3am call: “Are you in the middle of anyone?” I wasn’t; but it took me five whole minutes to stop laughing.

I was the one who moved. But we still kept our phone friendship. We talked for an average of four hours twice a year: once in June (her birthday and our son’s were the same day; mine was nine days later); and once at Christmas. It was enough….until I called that last Christmas. Her husband told me she had been in a horrendous automobile accident, she’d been hospitalized for several weeks—and then she died—that AUGUST. I could have gone to see her. I could have said goodbye. But no one called.

My high school best friend initially thought I was ‘stuck up’ until I finally convinced her that I was painfully shy. Like I said, making friends was not easy for me. But we were close back then. In fact, I sat in the back of our HS auditorium one March night as we were rehearsing for our spring Play Nite. I asked her who the boy was painting flats on the stage. (He had minutes before taken my 3” paintbrush away and proceeded to start painting the flat himself with an 8” wallpaper brush.) She told me his name and I said, “I’m going to marry him.” This was before I knew his name, you understand.

My friend told me I didn’t want to have anything to do with him. He wasn’t the kind of guy she thought I should hang around with. But I asked him out that weekend (it was our equivalent of Sadie Hawkins Day when girls can ask guys out). For me to do this was Spirit led, let me tell you. He said yes. We just celebrated the 50th anniversary of that date and our 47th anniversary.

Both of us moved, but she moved first and often. I managed to find her in November of 2010, the fall before our 45th HS Reunion. She was ecstatic and so was I! In December of that year, on her anniversary in fact (I was her matron of honor, she was my maid of honor), she found out that she had ovarian cancer.

We stayed in close touch and I insisted that she plan to come to the reunion. After much discussion, completion of chemotherapy and an incredible wig, she agreed. And I’m so grateful for that, as were many of our HS contacts.

Within two years, she had brain cancer. After two surgeries and two rounds of chemo, I went to see her in May of this year. She had been to my home twice and I once prior to this visit. She was in the hospital due to an infection; but we spent several hours together over two days. She knew me and could understand me; but had great difficulty with speech.

We called again tonight to check on everything. Her husband tolds us that she died in July. No chance to be with the family. No chance to laugh and share stories. No closure.

So what is the point of this post? It’s just this: making those FINAL ARRANGEMENTS is a very important thing to do. If you haven’t made yours.

I have some suggestions that might be of benefit to you.

1. Take a small loose leaf notebook and into it place the copies of the things I will mention. Either give one to each relevant family member, especially whomever you elect as executor of your estate, or make sure every family member has a document telling them where this notebook is.

2. Make your arrangements, all of them, in advance. Do this before you become ill, before you are unable or just don’t have the energy. Save your family the incredible confusion that results if you don’t.

3. Let your family know that you are doing so. Though they are your arrangements to make, they may have suggestions or concerns.

4. Copies of your will (If YOU haven’t made one, the STATE has made one for you. And they don’t give a rip what you wanted to do with your stuff.). This should also name your executor.

Copies of any power of attorney or power of attorney for medical decisions information or living will that refers to your medical wishes should be included. This differs by state. So be sure you have the proper forms, that they are filled out completely and notarized or signed by the appropriate witnesses. 

It is often helpful to notify your physician and make sure he/she has a copy attached to the INDSIDE FRONT of your chart if you are regularly cared for by the same MD or practice. This is especially important if you do not wish heroic measure to be taken in case you have a terminal illness (DNR order). Notifying your family in advance regarding your wishes and having them legally documented, saves everyone having to make trying decisions when they are least able to do so.

5. If you are financially able, decide on what you want done with your body (burial/cremation/donate to science) and prepay for these services. If you have arranged your ‘funeral’ care with a funeral home or mortuary in advance and paid for it, your family will not be subject to believing they have to ‘buy the best available’ at a time when they may not be thinking clearly. Make sure the family members have copies of these documents as well. It is far better for you to sit down with these people, choose what you wish from their assortment of services, pay for it (Or use an insurance plan that may be available. In the event of your death, if the entire amount is not paid, the rest is waived. This is what we have. It’s all paid for; arrangements made. No decisions for our family.)

6. If you are going to be buried, make sure the family has copies indicating your funeral home of choice, cemetery, plot and how your remains will be handled. There are usually charges for transporting a body from a distance, holding it for any length of time, and many, many other services that you may or may not wish to have your family utilize. If you do not completely preplan the entire funeral, you may want to at least discuss such things and how much they cost with your family beforehand.

7. Know what is required of your state regarding embalming. This may sound gross. But if you plan to be buried immediately, there is no need for embalming and it is a significant cost. It is not required for cremation at all, though many people think it is and pay for it needlessly.

8. If you wish to have any kind of service at your funeral or memorial, it is wise to plan that as well. You can pick who you wish to officiate and how to get in touch with them if it is not someone with whom the family is familiar. Leave a copy of the service: songs or hymns, scripture, poems or readings, whom you wish to give the eulogy and how to reach them (Might be good to ASK that person first!) If you want to have any memorabilia displayed (service connected medals, pictures, other articles that are uniquely YOU), make a list and make sure your family knows where to find these things.

9. And you might want to leave a list of friends that you wish to be notified upon your death. This is especially a lovely thing to do if you are having a memorial service rather than a funeral. It saves the family having to worry over who to notify or invite and insures that the people YOU care about most will know what has happened to you.

10. Take a weekend, go away somewhere, enjoy the idea of planning your own funeral, decide all the details, then return home and finalize everything by contacting all the relevant entities and persons. Make a trip to your funeral home of choice, pick out a casket or if you are going to be cremated, pick out an urn (or better yet, have someone make one for you!) 

Decide if you are able to prepay everything or ask if payment or insurance plans are available to ease this portion of the arrangements.

When it’s all said and done and in your notebook, your family will thank you. 

And so will your dear friends who get to come and tell you goodbye.

GETTING TO KNOW HIM
Intentional intimacy=direct disclosure. 
The more we truly seek relationship with Jesus, the more He reveals of Himself…& it’s immediate. We don’t have to wait. As we read scripture and pray, asking for wisdom and understanding, it is given to us. We can approach the Throne of Grace boldly. What a gift and a joy!

GETTING TO KNOW HIM

Intentional intimacy=direct disclosure.

The more we truly seek relationship with Jesus, the more He reveals of Himself…& it’s immediate. We don’t have to wait. As we read scripture and pray, asking for wisdom and understanding, it is given to us. We can approach the Throne of Grace boldly. What a gift and a joy!

Please pay attention Congress and Supreme Court. God will not be mocked.

Please pay attention Congress and Supreme Court. God will not be mocked.

Amen!

Amen!

peterdwebb:

Spiritual freedom includes the freedom to look like a fool without shame.

Like I said….

“Half the world is composed of people who have something to say and can’t, and the other half who have nothing to say and keep on saying it.”

Robert Frost (via bookphile)

I so often fear this is me….

(Source: quotes-shape-us)

How can I define me?
Religious
of, pertaining to, or concerned with religion; imbued with or exhibiting religion; pious; devout; godly: scrupulously faithful; conscientious
Principled
imbued with or having moral principles 
Moral
conforming to the rules of right conduct; moral or virtuous conduct; moral quality or character; virtue in sexual matters; chaste
Sinful
acts regarded as such; transgressions, especially willful or deliberate violations of some religious or moral principles.
Lawful
allowed or permitted by law; not contrary to law 
I am a religious person, though I prefer the designation ‘Christ follower,’ because I have some issues with what religion as an entity has done to the simplicity I see with my relationship with Jesus. I do my best each day to become the godly person Jesus is calling me to be and to follow the commands he has given me in the Bible. I attend and serve in my church faithfully and minister there, as Jesus has called me to do. I believe that anyone who knows me would agree that I am a religious person, as so defined. 
I am a moral person because of the things I have learned through my teaching in the church, my reading of scripture and my relationship with Jesus. I am chaste in sexual matters in that I am married and am faithful to one man, my husband. I believe that sexual intercourse is wrong outside marriage and that marriage itself is between one man and one woman, as God ordained in the Bible.
I believe that there is sin in the world and that men and women are born sinners (You do not have to teach a child to sin; they just do). There are multiple actions that can be defined by US as sin; but God sees all of them equally as SIN. In His eyes, anything we do that separates us from a relationship with Him is considered SIN. He wants that relationship. But HE cannot and will not abide SIN. There has to be a payment for it. 
Therefore, He sent his Son as a perfect sacrifice for OUR SIN, so that we would be able to have access to Him, comfort from Him, correction when we do wrong, forgiveness when we repent of wrongdoing, grace as a result of that repentance and everlasting life when we die. I love telling others my story of salvation.
And according to scriptural imperative, I share the Gospel with them as often as I can, telling them of God’s love; I also tell them of God’s intolerance of our SIN, not just one specific sin. Also by imperative of scripture, I love people and want them to have the same relationship with Jesus that I have—one that is true freedom. I do not accept their sin as being a part of that love. 
I obey the laws of the Town, County, State and Nation in which I live. When I disagree with an established law, I exercise my right to vote. When there is opportunity to either change the law or change the people who have elected office, I am honored with the opportunity and privilege to cast my opinion through my vote. I also exercise my right to speak out against laws that I feel are unfair or that cause others to suffer or be disenfranchised. I write letters to elected officials who are in a position to make changes in the law, when I feel that is a way my voice can be heard. I attend meetings where I can voice my opinion and hear the opinions of others on topics that I feel are of importance regarding religious matters, moral issues and other topics of interest to me. 
This is one of the laws of which I speak: 
1st Amendment to the Constitution—Article I of the Bill of Rights
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
And yet, for exercising my rights as a citizen of the United States of America, I am called a fanatic (as if this were a truly despicable thing), intolerant and a bigot because I call the things some people do—SIN. I have called many things that I do SIN. And Jesus has called me on them.
I have been unforgiving for a great period of time in my life—this is SIN in God’s eyes. He says if we don’t forgive, WE will not be forgiven. (Matthew 6:6) 
I have been prideful; and pride is a SIN in God’s eyes. I have not realized that God cannot honor the use of my spiritual gifts if I forget where they came from and who they are to glorify. (Deut 8:14; Ps 10:4)
I have harbored anger in my heart without seeking the cause or resolution preferring to believe that right was more important than reconciliation—or worse, thinking perhaps that I was better off than someone else because I was further along in my walk. (Romans 3:23)
Fanatic
a person with an extreme and uncritical enthusiasm or zeal, as in religion or politics.
Tolerance
a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward those whose opinions, practices, race, religion, nationality, etc., differ from one’s own; freedom from bigotry.
Bigotry
stubborn and complete intolerance of any creed, belief, or opinion that differs from one’s own.
Permissive
habitually or characteristically accepting or tolerant of something, as social behavior or linguistic usage, that others might disapprove or forbid.
Intolerant
not tolerating or respecting beliefs, opinions, usages, manners, etc., different from one’s own, as in political or religious matters; bigoted. 
I cannot be tolerant or permissive regarding SIN, in myself or anyone else. If this makes me a fanatic, so be it. But it does not make me intolerant, or a bigot. If I were permissive or tolerant of SIN, it would make me the creation I used to be. 
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come; the old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Corinthians 5:17)
I am tolerant of a person’s right to practice their own religion or to be free to not have one at all. However, I will exercise my own right to speak to them about mine. I will continue to do this in spite of a Nation who is making headway in trying to deprive me of that right, to deprive me of even praying where I want to, displaying religious articles, gathering for religious meetings, trying to redefine principles on which our country was founded and—doing so despite the law that upholds such rights. 
I will continue to be a religious, principled, moral and law-abiding person of this Nation. But more than that, I will continue to be a Christ-follower. I will continue to live with a passion for lost people that do not know Jesus. I will continue the desperation to want everyone I meet to be with me in heaven one day. And NONE of us will get there if we don’t have a passionate relationship with a Savior who died to set us free from every. single. sin. we could allow Satan to tempt us into. He did this in order that we could have an abundant life in this world that is so much more than we could ever ask or imagine and an eternity with Him in heaven. (Ephesians 3:16-20)
This defines me.
Oh, one last thing: 
Persecution
a program or campaign to exterminate, drive away, or subjugate a people because of their religion, race, or beliefs  
 

 

How can I define me?

Religious

of, pertaining to, or concerned with religion; imbued with or exhibiting religion; pious; devout; godly: scrupulously faithful; conscientious

Principled

imbued with or having moral principles 

Moral

conforming to the rules of right conduct; moral or virtuous conduct; moral quality or character; virtue in sexual matters; chaste

Sinful

acts regarded as such; transgressions, especially willful or deliberate violations of some religious or moral principles.

Lawful

allowed or permitted by law; not contrary to law 

I am a religious person, though I prefer the designation ‘Christ follower,’ because I have some issues with what religion as an entity has done to the simplicity I see with my relationship with Jesus. I do my best each day to become the godly person Jesus is calling me to be and to follow the commands he has given me in the Bible. I attend and serve in my church faithfully and minister there, as Jesus has called me to do. I believe that anyone who knows me would agree that I am a religious person, as so defined. 

I am a moral person because of the things I have learned through my teaching in the church, my reading of scripture and my relationship with Jesus. I am chaste in sexual matters in that I am married and am faithful to one man, my husband. I believe that sexual intercourse is wrong outside marriage and that marriage itself is between one man and one woman, as God ordained in the Bible.

I believe that there is sin in the world and that men and women are born sinners (You do not have to teach a child to sin; they just do). There are multiple actions that can be defined by US as sin; but God sees all of them equally as SIN. In His eyes, anything we do that separates us from a relationship with Him is considered SIN. He wants that relationship. But HE cannot and will not abide SIN. There has to be a payment for it. 

Therefore, He sent his Son as a perfect sacrifice for OUR SIN, so that we would be able to have access to Him, comfort from Him, correction when we do wrong, forgiveness when we repent of wrongdoing, grace as a result of that repentance and everlasting life when we die. I love telling others my story of salvation.

And according to scriptural imperative, I share the Gospel with them as often as I can, telling them of God’s love; I also tell them of God’s intolerance of our SIN, not just one specific sin. Also by imperative of scripture, I love people and want them to have the same relationship with Jesus that I have—one that is true freedom. I do not accept their sin as being a part of that love. 

I obey the laws of the Town, County, State and Nation in which I live. When I disagree with an established law, I exercise my right to vote. When there is opportunity to either change the law or change the people who have elected office, I am honored with the opportunity and privilege to cast my opinion through my vote. I also exercise my right to speak out against laws that I feel are unfair or that cause others to suffer or be disenfranchised. I write letters to elected officials who are in a position to make changes in the law, when I feel that is a way my voice can be heard. I attend meetings where I can voice my opinion and hear the opinions of others on topics that I feel are of importance regarding religious matters, moral issues and other topics of interest to me. 

This is one of the laws of which I speak: 

1st Amendment to the Constitution—Article I of the Bill of Rights

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

And yet, for exercising my rights as a citizen of the United States of America, I am called a fanatic (as if this were a truly despicable thing), intolerant and a bigot because I call the things some people do—SIN. I have called many things that I do SIN. And Jesus has called me on them.

I have been unforgiving for a great period of time in my life—this is SIN in God’s eyes. He says if we don’t forgive, WE will not be forgiven. (Matthew 6:6) 

I have been prideful; and pride is a SIN in God’s eyes. I have not realized that God cannot honor the use of my spiritual gifts if I forget where they came from and who they are to glorify. (Deut 8:14; Ps 10:4)

I have harbored anger in my heart without seeking the cause or resolution preferring to believe that right was more important than reconciliation—or worse, thinking perhaps that I was better off than someone else because I was further along in my walk. (Romans 3:23)

Fanatic

a person with an extreme and uncritical enthusiasm or zeal, as in religion or politics.

Tolerance

a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward those whose opinions, practices, race, religion, nationality, etc., differ from one’s own; freedom from bigotry.

Bigotry

stubborn and complete intolerance of any creed, belief, or opinion that differs from one’s own.

Permissive

habitually or characteristically accepting or tolerant of something, as social behavior or linguistic usage, that others might disapprove or forbid.

Intolerant

not tolerating or respecting beliefs, opinions, usages, manners, etc., different from one’s own, as in political or religious matters; bigoted. 

I cannot be tolerant or permissive regarding SIN, in myself or anyone else. If this makes me a fanatic, so be it. But it does not make me intolerant, or a bigot. If I were permissive or tolerant of SIN, it would make me the creation I used to be.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come; the old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Corinthians 5:17)

I am tolerant of a person’s right to practice their own religion or to be free to not have one at all. However, I will exercise my own right to speak to them about mine. I will continue to do this in spite of a Nation who is making headway in trying to deprive me of that right, to deprive me of even praying where I want to, displaying religious articles, gathering for religious meetings, trying to redefine principles on which our country was founded and—doing so despite the law that upholds such rights. 

I will continue to be a religious, principled, moral and law-abiding person of this Nation. But more than that, I will continue to be a Christ-follower. I will continue to live with a passion for lost people that do not know Jesus. I will continue the desperation to want everyone I meet to be with me in heaven one day. And NONE of us will get there if we don’t have a passionate relationship with a Savior who died to set us free from every. single. sin. we could allow Satan to tempt us into. He did this in order that we could have an abundant life in this world that is so much more than we could ever ask or imagine and an eternity with Him in heaven. (Ephesians 3:16-20)

This defines me.

Oh, one last thing: 

Persecution

a program or campaign to exterminate, drive away, or subjugate a people because of their religion, race, or beliefs  

 

 

NOT A LAUGHING MATTER 
If you have been in any large city and driven through the less stellar portions of it, you have probably seen the homeless folks that gather there. Or perhaps you have had someone bump into you along your walk in the park and been a bit off put by the confused mumbling, the incoherent speech and frightened look given you, when it was actually you who were frightened. Some of these folks may have had schizophrenia, a mental illness.
Or perhaps you have been one of the endless uneducated folks who have Tweeted, blogged or at parties been the one said you were ‘beside yourself’ (wink, wink), told the tiresome joke: ‘I may be schizophrenic but at least I have each other.’ Or perhaps this one:
“Doctor,” the worried exec told the psychiatrist, “I’m afraid I’m schizophrenic.” 
"Well," replied the doctor, "that makes four of us."
Schizophrenia is a mental illness. Having it not something to make fun of. Generally, it is not something to be afraid of—unless you are the one that has it. Then, it is simply terrifying. 
Schizophrenia is the most serious of all the mental illnesses because one of its main characteristics is often an inability to recognize the real from the unreal. Those that are so diagnosed may have beliefs that are false, very disordered thinking and memory processing. There can be auditory hallucinations that can be simple sounds or voices that torture the sufferer with vile comments, threats, horrid and demeaning comments about their appearance or character or even vocal commands for the sufferer to do harm to themselves or others. Those with schizophrenia tend to withdraw because they realize they just can’t trust what they see and hear. 
Can we even begin to imagine trying to exist in this kind of world where nothing is what we think it might be? Where those we once called family can no longer be trusted? Where strangers who offer a kind word or food just might be trying to cause us harm?
What we see in a person who is schizophrenic is someone who is no longer able to function in society. They may be hostile, or simply withdrawn. Their speech may be rapid, so rapid as to not be understandable, or, it may be garbled or made up of nonsense words strung together in no pattern whatsoever. They may be always fearful and cling to odd things like many layers of clothing refusing to remove them for washing or healthcare needs. They may become hoarders, fearful to leave items alone for even a moment.
Symptoms can generally be treated with medications. But very often, once those symptoms are stabilized, the person begins to believe the medications are no longer needed, they are stopped, the symptoms return and the cycle of illness repeats itself. 
Schizophrenia was named from two Greek words meaning to split the mind NOT the personality. And this came because of the inability of those suffering from the illness to control the disordered thinking that assails them and do away with the sounds, voices, and sensitivities that preclude functioning in social situations.
It has nothing whatever to do with split personality disorders.
Should you desire a reasonably good explanation and representation of what schizophrenia looks like, the movie, A Beautiful Mind is quite good at showing how ordinary and extraordinary it can appear to both the outside world and the one suffering from its effects. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Beautiful_Mind_(film)
Schizophrenia is a horrible, debilitating disease, which, at best, requires a lifetime of constant supervision, medication adjustment, readjustment, trial and error and further readjustment to find an appropriate combination of medications that suit a particular set of symptoms for a particular individual. Then and only then is a person who has been diagnosed with this mental illness likely to have the opportunity to live a life free of the majority of symptoms that disrupt the ability to live a life of purpose. 
What schizophrenia is is NOT is a joke.
 
 

 

NOT A LAUGHING MATTER 

If you have been in any large city and driven through the less stellar portions of it, you have probably seen the homeless folks that gather there. Or perhaps you have had someone bump into you along your walk in the park and been a bit off put by the confused mumbling, the incoherent speech and frightened look given you, when it was actually you who were frightened. Some of these folks may have had schizophrenia, a mental illness.

Or perhaps you have been one of the endless uneducated folks who have Tweeted, blogged or at parties been the one said you were ‘beside yourself’ (wink, wink), told the tiresome joke: ‘I may be schizophrenic but at least I have each other.’ Or perhaps this one:

“Doctor,” the worried exec told the psychiatrist, “I’m afraid I’m schizophrenic.”

"Well," replied the doctor, "that makes four of us."

Schizophrenia is a mental illness. Having it not something to make fun of. Generally, it is not something to be afraid of—unless you are the one that has it. Then, it is simply terrifying. 

Schizophrenia is the most serious of all the mental illnesses because one of its main characteristics is often an inability to recognize the real from the unreal. Those that are so diagnosed may have beliefs that are false, very disordered thinking and memory processing. There can be auditory hallucinations that can be simple sounds or voices that torture the sufferer with vile comments, threats, horrid and demeaning comments about their appearance or character or even vocal commands for the sufferer to do harm to themselves or others. Those with schizophrenia tend to withdraw because they realize they just can’t trust what they see and hear. 

Can we even begin to imagine trying to exist in this kind of world where nothing is what we think it might be? Where those we once called family can no longer be trusted? Where strangers who offer a kind word or food just might be trying to cause us harm?

What we see in a person who is schizophrenic is someone who is no longer able to function in society. They may be hostile, or simply withdrawn. Their speech may be rapid, so rapid as to not be understandable, or, it may be garbled or made up of nonsense words strung together in no pattern whatsoever. They may be always fearful and cling to odd things like many layers of clothing refusing to remove them for washing or healthcare needs. They may become hoarders, fearful to leave items alone for even a moment.

Symptoms can generally be treated with medications. But very often, once those symptoms are stabilized, the person begins to believe the medications are no longer needed, they are stopped, the symptoms return and the cycle of illness repeats itself. 

Schizophrenia was named from two Greek words meaning to split the mind NOT the personality. And this came because of the inability of those suffering from the illness to control the disordered thinking that assails them and do away with the sounds, voices, and sensitivities that preclude functioning in social situations.

It has nothing whatever to do with split personality disorders.

Should you desire a reasonably good explanation and representation of what schizophrenia looks like, the movie, A Beautiful Mind is quite good at showing how ordinary and extraordinary it can appear to both the outside world and the one suffering from its effects. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Beautiful_Mind_(film)

Schizophrenia is a horrible, debilitating disease, which, at best, requires a lifetime of constant supervision, medication adjustment, readjustment, trial and error and further readjustment to find an appropriate combination of medications that suit a particular set of symptoms for a particular individual. Then and only then is a person who has been diagnosed with this mental illness likely to have the opportunity to live a life free of the majority of symptoms that disrupt the ability to live a life of purpose. 

What schizophrenia is is NOT is a joke.

 

 

 

ANCIENT IRISH STONES

HOW THE IRISH MEND A WALL (‘Tis a bit of Irish humor this!)

HOW THE IRISH MEND A WALL (‘Tis a bit of Irish humor this!)