Forget-me-not, Oh Lord!

The observations of a "Martha" who is trying desperately to be more like a "Mary."

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Friday, September 19, 2014

Racing for Children

This past Saturday, I ran a 5K for Harvesting Hope Ministries.  The following information is from their website:

"Harvesting Hope Ministries, Inc. is a 501c-3 non-profit whose mission is to bring hope to children and their families who have life threatening illnesses.  Currently, we give care packs to our local Ronald McDonald House at the Egleston/Emory Campus in Atlanta."

Race Shirt
I have said before that I love running for great causes, but I especially love running for causes that benefit children.  

I found out about this particular 5K after running The Chiefs 5K last month.  A lady approached me and handed me a flyer advertising the Harvesting Hope Ministries' race.  After she handed it to me, she explained that the money raised from the 5K would go towards helping kids that have to undergo organ transplants of some kind.  She finished by explaining that her son had to have two liver transplants (one recently), so this was a cause near and dear to her heart.

How do you respond to that?  Well, I said I would definitely be there!

It was a good 5K.  I wasn't too crazy about the course - it was a loop around a local church three times - and it didn't start on time, but I always leave a race pleased when I receive an age group award! ;-)

My time was 32:55.

AND I got this awesome shoelace clip!

I love that the clip has a heart on it! Why?  Because I heart (love) racing. And, as I said, I heart (love) running for great causes.  And when I look at it, I'm reminded of one particular race I'll actually be running next weekend; a race that I absolutely heart (love) - the Remembering our Babies "Walk to Remember."

This event is actually a two mile walk or a 5K run.  I've always run the 5K in honor of Angel and other babies lost too soon.  This will be my third time running this race.  When I run it, I wear the shirt I got running the race that first time in 2012. I have the names of all our angels on it.  Sadly, every year I add more names...

Do you see your angel's name?
If you don't see your angel's name on my shirt and you would like me to include his or her name, just leave me a message below or e-mail me the name ( I would be honored to run in remembrance your baby!

Today's forget-me-not: Children.  ALL children.

"Children are a heritage of the Lord." Psalm 127:3

Friday, September 12, 2014

I have indirectly supported Planned Parenthood and embryonic stem cell research. And, most likely, so have you.

Have you heard this saying?

People who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones.

Basically, it means that people should not criticize others for faults they have in themselves.

That sums up my opinion of persons who pass judgement on others for donating time and money to charities that have ties to Planned Parenthood or embryonic stem cell research when similar ties can be made to just about everything someone may donate money to or use in daily life.

Let me explain why I'm writing this post.

You see, it has recently come to my attention that some fellow pro-lifers have been uniting against the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge because they see it as soliciting funds for research that has connections to embryonic stem cell research - which is somewhat accurate.

Now, how are they choosing to respond to this reality?  Well, in addition to pouring their criticisms and condemnations on those of us who have given our time and money to the ALS Foundation, some are deliberately filming themselves completing an ice bucket challenge in which they say why they are NOT giving money to ALS.  Furthermore, they then say which organizations WILL receive their money and so post their videos online challenging others to follow suit.

First, how loving is that?!  Why would you take the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge which has lifted the spirits of and brings hope to those suffering from this horrific disease (see my previous post on this matter) and post videos that basically communicate to these people that they aren't worthy of your money?! If you don't want to donate money to ALS, don't do it!  But I would request, please, do not attempt to steal away what little joy they have gotten from the recognition received for this lonely disease by filming a mock challenge and posting it online.

Second, and here is my main point,  do you realize how hypocritical it is to criticize and to condemn someone for indirectly supporting Planned Parenthood and embryonic stem cell research when you - yes, you - most likely do the same thing on a daily basis? 

Consider this.  The following are things/companies to avoid if you want to ensure your money isn't going to Planned Parenthood or being used for embryonic stem cell research:  Clorox, Coca-Cola, Pepsi, AT&T, Adobe, eBay, Ford, Gap, General Electric, Kraft,  Xerox, and Yahoo.

Do you use any of those? I know I do!  And I would bet, you do too!

Furthermore,, a pro-life website, states you are supporting abortion if you give your money to any of these companies or use of their services: AOL, Bank of America, Bayer, Chevron, Darden Restaurants (Olive Garden, Red Lobster, etc.), eBay (PayPal, etc.), Laureate Education, Midas, Nationwide (insurance), Nike, Select Comfort (Sleep Number bed), Southwest Airlines (Jet Blue, etc.), Starwood Hotels (Aloft, Element, Four Points, Le Méridien, Sheraton, St. Regis, W, Westin, etc.), Symantec, Wells Fargo, and Whole Foods.

Honestly, if you do research on this topic, you will soon discover that most everything you own and most every business you patronize is somehow supporting Planned Parenthood and/or embryonic stem cell research. On top of that, the American Life League reports, "It is simply just a sad fact that most national medical research/advocacy groups support some form of unethical research. There is no listing, to our knowledge, of only pro-life research organizations."  Even the Susan G. Koman and March of Dimes organizations have been linked to "supporting abortion."

So, what can you do if you really want to avoid indirectly giving your time and money to anti pro-life endeavors?  Not much.  Unless you move to an Amish town.

My point is simple, and it's a point Jesus himself made in Matthew 7:3:  "Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?"

My fellow pro-life friends.  I know. I agree!  We shouldn't support anything that does not treat God's gift of life in the womb with the utmost respect. Don't hear me saying otherwise in this post. However, we live in an imperfect world,  so we must accept that we are not going to be able to avoid things that are contrary to our values 100% of the time.

Life is messy. God knows that. All we can do is pray for direction, and whatever we end up doing, we should do it in the right spirit - the spirit of love.

1 Corinthians 13:13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love.  But the greatest of these is love.

I cannot believe Jesus would ever fault us for acting out of love.

Romans 8: 1-2 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.  For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.

So, let's agree to set aside criticism and condemnation of each other.  And let's consider this, and all other such matters, a matter between each individual and Jesus.

When I accepted the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, I did so to encourage those suffering from ALS.  I donated a small amount of money in the hopes that combined with all other donations perhaps some progress might be made in research combating this terrible disease. I did these things out of the goodness of my heart like those who feel lead to walk for Susan G. Koman and for the March of Dimes.  I did not know that the ALS Foundation had a connection - albeit, a very small connection - to embryonic stem cell research.

But knowing that now, in retrospect, would I do it all again? To that question, I answer yes.

Yes, I would do it again to encourage ALS patients, to inspire hope, and to, hopefully, help improve the quality of LIFE of those suffering with ALS.  Because, to me, ALL life is precious. Including the lives of ALS sufferers.  That is how I am convicted concerning this matter.

Today's forget-me-not:  So remember. Do not criticize.  Do not condemn.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Why aren't you running for the hills from ISIS?

Have you ever seen Hotel Rwanda?  It is a historical drama about the 1994 Rwandan genocide. The events in the movie are based on the true story of Paul Rusesabagina. If you've never seen it, watch the trailer before you continue reading my post...  Even if you have seen it, watch the trailer and refresh your memory...

It is tragic, isn't it? Over 800,000 were killed during the Rwandan genocide, and did anyone step in to stop the deliberate and systematic destruction of the Tutsis?  No. The world powers turned their backs on these people, and the United Nations was unwilling to get too involved. 

I'm currently conducting a film study of Hotel Rwanda with my sophomores. The movie connected with the book we just finished reading, Things Fall Apart, via the subject of colonialism and its effects.   

But more important than that exploration, the movie raises other moral and ethical questions that beg for answers:

Should a country ever get involved in another country's affairs?  And if so, when and why?

My students will have to formulate their own opinions on this matter; however, after watching Hotel Rwanda, I'm not sure that anyone - in good conscience - could say that a country should NEVER get involved in another country's affairs.  If that involvement will prevent the loss of innocent lives then I believe those in a position to help the helpless have a moral obligation to step in and proffer assistance.  If a country can help but chooses not to offer aid, that country is no different than rebels committing atrocities against their fellow human beings. 

Watch Hotel Rwanda, and then, come and tell me why you would think otherwise. 

This is a subject that is very heavy on my heart right now.  I am a Christian, and I've been hearing that my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ have been experiencing something akin to the Rwandan genocide in Northern Iraq.  Since the beginning of August, a group called ISIS has been sweeping through the northern cities of this country and wiping out Christians - targeting especially the Christian children.

And what has my country done in response to this? Not enough.  ISIS is still going strong. 

Here is an urgent prayer request received Wednesday:

Subject: Prayer Request from Iraq.

This message was sent from some friends at church who are former Baptist missionaries. They received this from their contacts in Iraq. They need our prayers now!!!

From: Jim & Linda Rice
Date: 09/03/14 20:46:40
Subject: Prayer Request from Iraq

Dear Friends,

Just a few minutes ago I received the following text message on my phone from Sean Malone who leads Crisis Relief International (CRI). We then spoke briefly on the phone and I assured him that we would share this urgent prayer need with all of our contacts.

"We lost the city of Queragosh (Qaraqosh). It fell to ISIS and they are beheading children systematically. This is the city we have been smuggling food to. ISIS has pushed back Peshmerga (Kurdish forces) and is within 10 minutes of where our CRI team is working. Thousands more fled into the city of Erbil last night. The UN evacuated its staff in Erbil. Our team is unmoved and will stay. Prayer cover needed!"

Please pray sincerely for the deliverance of the people of Northern Iraq from the terrible advancement of ISIS and its extreme Islamic goals for mass conversion or death for Christians across this region.

Please pray! If we ask, we shall receive.  Let's join in prayer that God uses His power to protect His people as a testimony to His sovereignty - like He did with His people when Moses parted the red Sea!

And then, take a minute to ask yourself these questions:

Why aren't I running to the hills from ISIS? Why was I born in a country where living as a Christian is living a life without fear of death because of my faith?  Why is it that I don't have to worry about watching my children be a part of a massacre?

What all would God have me do during this current crisis?

I don't have the answers to these questions, but lately, they run constantly through my head and my heart. 

Today's forget-me-not:  Our persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ.

Revelation 20:4 And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus and for the word of God, and which had not worshiped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Don't be an ALS Ice Bucket Challenge hater!

I accepted the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge this past Monday night.

As I said in the video, I heartily accepted this challenge.  Why?   For those suffering with ALS. For those like Anthony Carbaja. Watch his four minute video before reading any further. Don't cheat. You have to watch it to really understand and appreciate what I'm about to say.  Watch it:

Now, how do you NOT accept the challenge after watching that?  Did you hear what he said?

"I am so so grateful.  You have no idea how every single challenge makes me feel.  Lifts my spirits. Lifts every single ALS patient's spirits." - Anthony Carbaja 

Translation: When you complete the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge and share it with family and friends, you lift the spirits of those suffering from this horrific disease.

Conversely, I imagine that every time a person posts an article deriding the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, it does quite the opposite. It crushes every single ALS patient's spirits.  Would you rather be a part of that?

Sadly, the spirit of an ALS suffer is kept low as there is much that adds insult to the injury of an ALS diagnosis.  Anthony points out one such insult in his moving video.  It comes from the pharmaceutical companies. Because making drugs for ALS suffers wouldn't be a profitable venture, they do not invest time or money into ALS research.  Through their inaction, these companies are saying that ALS suffers aren't worth saving.

They aren't worth it!?  How can another human being NOT have worth?

Via the Ice Bucket Challenge I say to Anthony and all ALS suffers, "You are worth it!  You are worth the water, the time, the efforts, and the money spent in bringing awareness to your suffering and in bringing hope to your despair. You are worth it!"

If you don't want to complete the challenge, that's okay.  If you would rather not help bring awareness to this devastating disease, if you would rather not give an ALS suffer a glimmer of hope in his or her darkness, that is your choice.  But I would respectfully ask that you not share any articles or blog posts or memes that would steal away their hope during this time of recognition.

For those of you willing to complete the challenge, thank you!  Whether you give money to ALS or not, you are still contributing a great deal!  As Anthony implied, this is a lonely disease: "No one wants to talk about it." Those that suffer with ALS suffer alone.  Thank you for helping them feel less like an outcast, rejected and forsaken.  Thank you for helping them feel loved.

Today's forget-me-not: Don't be a hater! #love

1st Corinthians 12:4-8 “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Friday, August 22, 2014

sacrifical love

I have been in a Beth Moore bible study on Wednesday nights that has rocked my world.  It's called Loving Well, and what I have learned during the course of this study has really challenged me. I want to share with you the truths the Lord revealed to me.

First, Jesus died for me and saved me knowing that there would be many times afterward I would fail to follow His perfect will.

Wow. Wait a minute. Read that again, slowly. Go on...

That statement above, that is perfect love. 

Love (verb) - To know that someone will disappoint you often but then sacrifice for them anyway.

It's hard to accept such love.  It's difficult to wrap our minds around something given so unconditionally.

Romans 8:38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Christian, it doesn't matter what you or anyone else does, Jesus loves you, and He always will.

Now, another challenging truth revealed to me during this study.  Have you heard something like this before?  With great privilege comes great responsibility.  Well, I believe there is some spiritual truth to this...

1 John 4:9 This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.

Because we, Christian, have been so well loved with an amazing unconditional and freely given love, we ought to love others in that same manner.  In this way, the non-believer will see God.  He or she will see Him through us and, hopefully, come to know Him.

And as easy as that might sound, in application, it is HARD!

Luke 6:27 “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 29 If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. 30 Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. 31 Do to others as you would have them do to you.

Christian - Love is sacrificial, and when done sacrificially, it speaks volumes about our Jesus.  It creates an aroma that is pleasing and attractive to the lost.

2 Corinthians 2:14 But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere. 15 For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. 16 To the one we are an aroma that brings death; to the other, an aroma that brings life.

So, Love. Love sacrificially.  Love unconditionally. Love as Christ loved us.

Love (verb) - To know that someone will disappoint you often but then sacrifice for them anyway.

To love in this manner can be challenging...

Offer a helping hand to the coworker that wronged you and might - most likely - wrong you again. 

Take a meal to the woman who decided to have an abortion and needs a friend to lean on.

Bake a cake for the gay couple if they ask you, or let the lesbian couple buy a dress from your establishment.

Luke 6:32 “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. 35 But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because He is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. 36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

I am beyond appreciative that God loves me in a sacrificial and merciful manner.  I praise Him for loving in a sacrificial and merciful manner.  And as a result, I MUST love in a sacrificial and merciful manner.

And don't fret that your acts of love may translate into the acceptance of sins. That didn't stop Jesus from loving the adulterous woman who was about to be stoned.  And praise God, that didn't stop Jesus from dying for me and you on the cross.

Just love.  The results are amazing. 

Today's forget-me-not: Ephesians 5:1-2 Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Depression. And God.

By now, you have heard. Robin Williams, beloved actor, committed suicide.

Because Robin Williams struggled with depression, internet discussions on the topic abound.  

However, I think there is an element to the current conversation that is at times missing or when present is grossly misinterpreted, and it grieves me. Keep reading, and I'll explain.  There are some things we should cover first.

What is depression?  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that depression as an illness is an affective disorder - the CDC does not classify depression as a disease.

Everyday HEALTH published an article entitled "9 Depression Types to Know."  The nine depression types are Major Depression, Dysthymia, Postpartum Depression, Seasonal Affective Disorder, Atypical Depression, Psychotic Depression,  Bipolar Disorder, Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder, and Situational Depression.

When you read about these forms of depression, you learn that one type of depression can be a stepping stone to another.  You also learn that some forms of depression are a constant reality in sufferers' everyday lives - and will continue as such. Still with other forms of depression, there are recurring bouts which end with seasons of normalcy.  And there are some forms of depression that can be overcome.

When reading further on the subject of depression, you learn that it can be treated in a variety of ways via different drug therapies or talk therapy or nutrition therapies or a combination of these. One type of depression can even be treated with what is known as light therapy or artificial light treatment. However, the proper course of treatment cannot be chosen until it has been decided by a doctor which type of depression the patient suffers from.

Obviously, the topic of depression is very complex.  We need to remember this before making sweeping statements about this diverse disorder.   

There are different types of depression suffered by different people who each then must have a different treatment plan.  And as already mentioned, there are a wide range of options for treatment of depression.

And yet - here is what grieves me about this subject - there is one resource for treating depression that is often not considered or is belittled - turning to God for help.

If you are currently suffering from depression, please, let me say this to you:  In your darkest moments, God is there - close to you. He wants to help too. Call out to Him. Reach for Him.

Sadly, there are those who will read this post and sneer at what I just wrote.

Some will read my advice and instantly think I am implying that those who believe in God never succumb to depression.  But nothing could be further from the truth!  The above plea is for the non-believer AND believer.  Depression is no respecter of persons.

Some others will read my advice and think I am implying that if you just pray enough, your depression will be cured.  To that I say, friend, go back and read my statement again.  I said that God can HELP.  I never said there was a spiritual recipe for curing depression. And I would never suggest that a sufferer of depression rely alone on prayer to see them through. God has enabled physicians and counselors and equipped them with the proper medicines (if necessary) and therapies to help suffers of depression. Seek them out! To neglect to do so would be to ignore assistance God has already put in place to help you on your dark journey.

And still there are others who will read my advice and laugh at my supposed ignorance.  They believe counseling someone who is battling depression to ask God for help in fighting the battle is futile.  They say depression can't be changed by God.  But if you believe there is a God, you must believe He is all powerful and has no limitations because to be otherwise means He would cease to be God.  So I say, God is God. God can do anything!  To say God CAN'T do something is illogical.

Hear me! I am saying God CAN help you! HE is the ultimate light in any darkness.  Don't turn away from Him. Consider Him - the Great Physician - your creator - in your treatment plan.

After having said all this, I know we are left with a stark reality.  With God or without God, there is nothing easy about battling depression.

In high school, my sophomore year, I struggled with depression. My treatment primarily came in the form of talk therapy with my guidance counselor.  It was effective.  But it wasn't until I started talking regularly with Jesus after giving my life to Him the summer before my senior year of high school, that I felt completely healed of my depression.

Does this mean that I will never again have to deal with depression in my life?  Absolutely not.  As stated in the Everyday HEALTH article linked above, when it comes to major depression,  "In some instances, a person might only experience one episode of major depression, but the condition tends to recur throughout a person's life."

If I am unfortunate and experience depression again, I will seek help and avail myself of all available treatments - including Jesus.  Please consider doing the same.

Today's forget-me-not: If you are suffering from depression, seek help! Tell a friend or a family member and your doctor. Seek a professional counselor. And don't forget Jesus. He wants to help too!

James 4:8 Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you.

Friday, August 8, 2014

my two cents to runners and race managers

Last Saturday, I ran a 5K in support of the cross country program at the high school where I teach.
@ The Chiefs 5K

I ran this last year, but they, thankfully, changed the venue. Previously, it was at a park with a gravel path in a primarily wooded area. You had to loop three times to make the course 5K - I hate looping - and by the end of it, I had all kinds of bug bites on my legs.

So needless to say, I was super excited to find out that this year the race was going to be at the new outlet mall in our area. I was eager to run this race, and I did okay. Certainly, it was not my best time, but you can't expect much better when you haven't been running regularly and have been eating poorly the past couple #summer months.

It was chip timed, and here are the results that were sent to me via e-mail: Your 5K time was 33:30. Your pace was 10:47/M. You were number 147 overall. You were number 4 of 10 in your age group 36-40.

Those results look better than I did by the end of this race...

Me leaning on a parking sign.
That was appropriate since my butt was PARKED there for awhile trying to catch my breath.
Afterwards, as I reflected on this race, I realized that after running over twenty races, I've learned a few things about running and 5Ks that I'd like to pass along. There's wisdom here folks - running and race coordinating wisdom. Take it to the bank!

Proverbs 28:26 Those who trust in themselves are fools, but those who walk in wisdom are kept safe.

So, here it is! My Two Cents To Runners and Race Managers

1. Runner - Go pee before the race starts. Yes, I know you went pee before you left the house this morning. And yes, I know you don't feel like you need to pee right now. But mark this down, if you don't pee before you start a race, you WILL have to pee at some point during your run. And that is #nofun.

2. Race Manager - Do NOT advertise that your course is mostly flat if it is NOT mostly flat. If it contains some rolling hills for about half the course but then is mostly downhill afterwards THEN SAY THAT! A runner has to get herself mentally ready for the challenges that lie ahead, so your false advertisement is frustrating to realize in the midst of running a 5K. Besides, when it comes to races and signing up for races, if you lie to me, I will not come back next year! DON'T LIE!

3. Runner - If you want a good 5K pace and overall time, train for it! If you don't train for speed, you will be disappointed, and no one wants to leave a 5K disappointed in her performance! Along these same lines, if you eat garbage leading up to your run, your run will be garbage. Do yourself a favor. Don't sabotage yourself!

4. Race Manager - Never. NEVER run out of t-shirts. This is a huge #nono. Especially if you advertise that you are going to have awesome technical t-shirts instead of the ratty cotton ones. PLEASE! Do not run out of said awesome t-shirts! This makes me really REALLY not want to invest in your race again next year - or ever. Yes, I ran the race to support your cause, but typically, I run for two other very important reasons: to be able eat more without guilt AND to get another racing t-shirt. When you run out of shirts, you seriously injure one of my racing passions - collecting 5K shirts.

Well, those are just a few words of wisdom to myself, to fellow runners, and to race managers that I gleaned from this particular 5K experience and that I have gleaned from my racing "career" as a whole. Take it or leave it; the choice is yours.

Today's forget-me-not: "Before anything else, preparation is the key to success."
  - Alexander Graham Bell