Sunday, September 30, 2007

Random Pictures

My nephew, Jackson!

James, Mom, & I on our weekend outing! I love this pic of Mom.

Dad, at the top of the world on Mt. Evans at 14,000 + feet! We went to the very very very top.. this is the highest you can get on Mt. Evans...

My town!

My pup Jet playing tether ball at Camp Wyoba!

He loved it!!!

Jami's Bridal Shower
Elizabeth & I at Douglas' college graduation in May 2007.

Weight loss progress....

Well, this weekend has gone well so far. I have eaten quite a bit, but not too much. I am watching what I am eating. I did have a Pepsi yesterday, and a Cherry Coke today. I also made Cake for a Crowd. In case you don't know, it is chocolate cake, with a chocolate frosting!! Seriously chocolaty and seriously not good for you!! But it tastes sooooooo good. But I have refrained from eating too much. I ate a peice right after I baked the cake, and then I ate 2 peices today!! I feel bad for eating soo much today, but, not really. I am really feeling like I am starting to eat better. I am eating a lot of fruit and I have been having big salads lately!

So, I realized that I did not take my measurements before I started this weight loss project!! I have taken them today. Here they are...
Thigh- 34
Hip- 52.5
Waist- 47
Chest- 44.5
Arm- 16.5

Well, I suppose. That is all for now! I am losing, slowly, but surely!!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

"Go Forward"

I found this in one of the old newsletters at work. I think this is also relevant for today!
Published in The Colorado Baptist April 1943, by Aaron Schlessman, President of Colorado Baptist Association.

The Hebrew people were being "pressed on every side " caught in a pincer movement with Pharaoh’s forces behind and the Red Sea before. Gripped with fear they cried again to Moses and Moses knew what to do. He had learned to "walk humbly with God." And the Lord answered "Go Forward."

It seemed impossible but forward they went passing "through the Valley of the Shadow of death" to victory. The Lord’s people are being pressed on every hand a fearful pincer movement has us in its grip. Do we as Moses of old know where to look for strength?

"Call unto me and I will answer thee and show thee great things and difficult which thou knowest not" (Jer. 33:3). God asks us to accept His challenge. What He really says is "I challenge you to find a problem so difficult that I cannot solve it for you if you will bring it to me in prayer." Are we willing to accept His challenge? Hudson Taylor once said "There is a living God. He has spoken in the Bible. He means what He says. He will do all that He promised."

For our need in soul-winning He has said "Ye are my witnesses." Witness then! He will honor it to His glory. For our giving-needs He promises— "And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory through Christ Jesus." Giving to increasing emergencies is surely a need. Colorado Baptists let us arise and meet it. For our Christian growth He assures "grace—and peace from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ."

To my mind we who are on the home base must grow stronger spiritually to prevent tremendous reactions and losses when our boys and scattered forces come home. In our men’s brotherhood meeting recently I was asked to tell the men what they could do as a group on the home front. Among other things I emphasized the deepening of our spiritual lives. That unless our boys find a deeper spirituality and a richer enthusiasm for God and righteousness there will be keen disappointment when they return for they will need it.

May we really glow with divine energy. "Go forward!" says our Heavenly Father "Go forward!"

2 lbs down to start out with

So I started Weight Watchers last week. I weighed myself this week and I am at 260 now. I have lost 2 pounds. Not as much as I would have liked, but I guess I have to start somewhere.

I am having a hard time getting the correct foods to eat. I haven't really changed the way I eat, but I have changed how much I eat. I am not getting enough fruit and veggies. It is kind of hard to get those when they are so expensive and go bad so fast. It is hard to buy these foods when you don't have money to spend on anything. When I have been going grocery shopping I am buying the healthy foods, but I haven't been able to go grocery shopping this week because we are out of money. I didn't get enough to last me for 2 weeks the last time I went shopping. O well, I will be able to go shopping on Friday and get good food.

I have also decided to lay off the pop! I was drinking about 2-4 cans of Pepsi a day and now I am trying to not have any. I have been drinking tea instead for my caffeine pick me up. It is good, and I am really not craving pop. There are just so many empty calories in pop. I have made a packed with my sister that we won't have pop unless it is Saturday. Well, I broke that yesterday. I went out to eat with a group from work. I had been drinking tea all day and wanted something different than tea or water, so I got a Dr. Pepper. I didn't drink too much. I guess Elizabeth also drank pop too though. We are going to try and do the pop only once a week thing though.

Well, I hope I can keep up with this. I have heard good things, and so far so good for me.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Young Adult Retreat

Ok, so all you young adults out there reading this (18-30ish years old), I am looking for some input. I am putting together a proposal for a young adults Christian retreat. I need some questions answered by you.

  1. What topics should be discussed?
  2. If this is going to be for the Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, Kansas, etc area, where should the retreat be held?
  3. What date should this be held? (we are thinking possibly Labor Day weekend 2008)
  4. What would attract you to come to this conference?
  5. What would be a price you would pay to come to this conference?

Please leave a comment for me as soon as possible. I am needing to put together the proposal asap. Please also send this on to as many young adults as you can so I can get a good input! THANK YOU!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Weight Watchers...

Ok, so I have started a new endeavor, I have started the Weight Watchers Program. There are a lot of people that say this program works very well, and is the best. So, I am serious about this and going to work on losing weight. I need to because of health problems. I can't believe how much I weigh now either. So, I am going to embarrass myself and put myself out there. I am going to say my weight on the internet! Oh my goodness. That way you all can help me keep on track!

Ok, so here goes. Starting on on this past Wednesday, my weight is 262. I am setting an extremely high goal of 155. I would be extremely happy though to be at 175. That is what I was all through high school, and looking back, I think I was fairly skinny.

I am also going to update on every weigh in date, which is on Wednesday's. I think this will help me. I will also take pictures once a month. So here is my starting out picture (and no, I am not pregnant. James made the comment that I looked like it when he took the side pic, but I am not!)

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Trust God in Matters That Lay Beyond Human Comprehension & Control

One of the churches in the ABCRM had this in their newsletter. It is written by Litton Logan of Sombra del Monte Christian Church in Albuquerque, NM. I found it quite profound, as I have not looked at this passage in quite this way. Yet, this passage speaks a lot to my first post.

One of my favorite Psalms is Psalm 131:

1 O LORD, my heart is not lifted up,
my eyes are not raised too high;
I do not occupy myself with things
too great and too marvelous for me.
2 But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; my soul is like the weaned child that is with me.
O Israel, hope in the LORD
from this time on and forevermore.

This Psalm is a prayer and verse 2 suggests that the original author was a woman.

The thing that I find most powerful about this Psalm is the profound level of trust the author places in God. We get an image of a recently nursing mother, who is at peace with herself and with God. Her peace is that of the satiated and trusting child that lies asleep on her breast. She has no pretensions; she is not defiant of her plight in life, nor is she troubled with matters beyond her limitations and control. All that lies beyond her abilities, resources, and understandings she entrusts to God.

Many folks would say this Psalm is chauvinistic or that the woman is experiencing a profound level of resignation to her plight in life, or she is grateful that things aren’t worse.

However, the Psalm ends with the exhortation—whether from the mother or a later redactor who uses this mother’s poem to tell God’s people—Israel—that she, too, is to be at peace with herself, her destiny, and to trust God in matters that lay well beyond human comprehension and control.

This mother has done all within her ability and resources and now rests all else in the hands of God.

What a lesson for those of us that are anxious and troubled over things we can’t control.

Whom do you identify with—the mother or the child?

28Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
Matthew 11:28--30 (NKJV)

When it comes to understanding the purpose of the church, we often have it backwards.

So, I was flipping through my Bible today and found this page that was written by the people at Zondervan, or whoever writes the inserts that go into my Bible. Anyway, I found that it speaks to my frustrations with FBC.

When it comes to understanding the purpose of the church, we often have it backwards. The church does not exist for us, though we are central to its existence. The capital-C Church—which is the big-picture, universal Church that includes all believers—exists for Jesus alone. The Church is his bride (see Revelation 19:7; 21:2). The little-c church—near you—is how God reaches the masses with His gospel and love. It is also an incubator for baby Christians, a hospital for hurting people, a gathering place for all to worship and an opportunity for maturing believers to hone their spiritual gifts through serving on another. Although it is human nature to make life “all about me,” the church is all about serving Jesus through serving his people.

That is why petty arguments about the music being to loud, the music being to dull, the pastor talking too long, the service starting to early, the service starting too late and all the other rationales for why we resent the church for not catering to our preferences are just that—petty preferences that do not matter. The next time you try to make church all about you, remember this:

The church is Jesus’ body (see 1 Corinthians 12:27).

Jesus promises to build his church—regardless of our personal tastes (see Mathew 16:18).

Jesus loved the church so much that he died for it. The church matters to him, so it should matter to us (see Ephesians 5:25-27).

When we being to make church more about Jesus and less about us, we look for ways to love the body of Christ. Ironically, God rewards our unselfish actions by meeting our needs in return—if we will just put him and his church first (see Matthew 6:33).”

The page also has a quote on it from Rick Warren.
“The local church is the classroom for learning how to get along in God’s family. It is a lab for practicing unselfish, sympathetic love.”

I guess I just let my frustrations just get the best of me from time to time.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Correction to Frustrations...

Ok, so after reading the comment, I must say that I am not concentrating on Christ when I am at FBC. However, it is very hard to center on Him when I am distracted so much. I understand it is a lesson I need to learn, to be able to focus on Christ when things around me are trying their best to distract me from Him. I am still working on it.

The other reason I was venting is because I see that church dying off. I understand that people should focus on Christ, but many people, including new Christians and those who need Christ, have not learned the lesson that I am still trying to learn. Those people will not come into that church and be able to focus, they will just see what they see and go to find another place that provides a better "worship experience." I am just sorry that this church is losing the battle.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Frustration... venting about a church

(Beware, this is long.)

I have this urgent feeling in my heart today. We are on our way back to Denver from Gillette and I have to say, I left there very, very disturbed. We went to church at First Baptist this morning and I felt like I was watching my beloved home church fall apart right in front of me.

I remember the church when I was young. It was so vibrant and full of life. There was an average attendance of 150 people. Members were joining the church by leaps and bounds. Children and adults were being saved and baptized as believers in Christ. Today there were about 50 people in the church, and I truthfully cannot say that I want to go back to that church. I just want to cry because I know that anyone who may be looking for a church could go in there and be repelled almost immediately.

The first thing that would repel the majority of people is the fact that the so called “praise” songs are sung along to a cd. Not an accompaniment cd, no a CD, as if you were riding in your car singing along to the radio. Then, during the “praise” songs, there is a noisy racket produced by the children on stage. The children of the church are invited up to play tambourines and drums along with the songs. The problem is, the children are not taught how to play these instruments in any kind of rhythm so it is just a racket. Seriously, I cannot concentrate on the music because of the noise.

Along with that, the church has put in a great new sound system. This system could be amazing, if it was operated correctly. The people who run the sound turn up the system so loud that frequently I have had to plug my ears. I sang in church a while back and I moved all the mics to the side of the stage because I felt that I did not need any amplification. The church is fairly small, has great acoustics, and I was singing a loud song. No one would have had trouble hearing me. However, with all the mics to the side and me standing in the middle of the stage, the mics were still picking me up. I have heard the pastor whispering to the deacon next to him a lot because the mics are turned up so loud and so is the speaker.

Today, I sang two songs. I decided to use the mic, just so I could control the volume of my voice going through the system. I shouldn’t have to worry about the sound and blowing out the system. But I seriously felt like I would blow someone’s ear out. Dynamics are produced by the instrument, in this case, my voice, and if I can’t do anything but LOUD I cannot convey my message correctly.

There is another thing that could run anyone away from this church. They have a video screen hanging on the wall. They moved the pulpit from one side of the church to the other so the screen would be behind the pulpit. The church is extremely lopsided now. The pulpit, the organ, and the piano are all on the same side now! It looks bad. I know looks shouldn’t matter, but in reality they can make or break a church. Seriously! The other problem with the screen is that it is not correctly used. The sermon today was on prayer. Great! I heard about half of it, because in the middle, the picture on the screen started changing and changed constantly for the rest of the sermon. About every 3 seconds. I couldn’t concentrate on more than one thing, so I caught very few words. I agree that screens are great, but they need to be used correctly.

I have to say with all the distractions, I got absolutely nothing out of the service. I was not worshiping God, I was trying to keep my sanity. I pity that church greatly. I really believe that they are running people of before they can bring them in.

Not only are they running off new people, they are running off all the current members too. Chris and Della Amend used to attend every single Sunday. I have not seen them for about 2 years. The Hitt’s have not been in attendance either. I think there are a few stubborn people that are just going because that is where their church “home” is and not because they really get anything out it. I remember my aunt and uncle and their two kids tried going to the church for a while, and left because it just did not suit their needs.I know that I would NOT attend that church if I lived in Gillette. I am sure that is what many my age feels also.

I feel bad because I know there are so many people in Gillette that do not know Christ and do not have a church home. FBC would be a wonderful place for many of those lost souls to find Christ, but they are just about to ruin themselves beyond the point of no return. People looking for a church will go somewhere else because they can leave the service without a headache. I am very frustrated because I know it is just a few people that are “controlling” the church and they make the decisions and the church as a whole—all 50 or so of them—doesn’t speak up for what is right and what would help this church.

Unfortunately I do not see this church lasting more than 4-5 more years. Those people that are making all the decisions for the church are going to run off all of those people that do not agree with them, then there are only going to be a few people left. A church cannot last that that many people.

A church is supposed to be a group of people coming together to worship God. Inevitably, there will be conflict. However, a church guided by God can and should come out of the conflict a strong and wiser church. It does not mean that the parties in conflict have to agree, but they should agree to disagree. There should be an urgent need to reach out to those who do not know God. They should be working on ministering to those who need Christ and not working on destroying themselves.

After 2 years of running people off, shouldn’t a church re-evaluate what they are doing and try something different. If there was success at one point in a churches life, a church should revisit that successful time and see what they were doing right. I understand that times have changed, but the fundamental purpose of the church shouldn’t have changed. There are a lot of people out there that do not like the new “style” of worship and would like a more traditional way of doing things. But there are those who want the more contemporary “style.” A balance needs to be obtained for the purpose of helping all those who want worship do it in their way.

Worshiping is not only about the music in a church. So many—so many—believe that music is the only way to worship God. Prayer is probably one of the most important ways to worship the Lord. Reading, listening to, and learning from the Word of God is also a very important way to worship. Each of these things, including music, should work in harmony to produce a worship service that acknowledges differences, yet accepts them, and works to try and win lives for the Lord.

The other thing that has disturbed me about the church is the lack support from its members. I am not taking monetarily. I do not know those figures. I am talking about “spiritual gifts.” There are many people in that church that have been asked to do something. However, they do not want to do it because their lives are too busy, too hectic, or they just don’t want to volunteer for “one more thing.” A church cannot run without people who volunteer to be a part of the inner workings of the church. My biggest example is the music and those who control it and provide it. (I keep coming back to that because it is such a big part of my life and the life of many, many churches.) For the last 4 years, each time I have come back to the church fewer and fewer musicians are sitting in the pews and up in front of the church.

Chris Amend, Carol Beirbaum, Diana (I forgot her last name), and many others used to keep the churches music going strong. FBC used to have a very powerful church choir. There was a rotating schedule of pianists. My mom was on the schedule and usually only had to play piano once a month. Now there is my mom and Shirley Jervis, the pastor’s wife, that play piano regularly. The Mark, the pastor, is retiring next year, and there will be only my mom left to do the piano. She cannot be there every Sunday. She can try, but it is just not possible with family in Denver, and Sioux Falls, and every where else around the country. So what is the church going to do? Sing along with the CD for the whole service. Yikes! I do not want to see that. A praise band would be wonderful, but I have not seen anyone in the church that has been up there playing the guitar or something like that since my brother left a couple of years ago.

A couple of people in the church need to step up and take on a role of worship “music” provider, and leader. There has been quite a few times when I have come to Gillette from Denver and have been asked to be the music leader. I do not feel comfortable doing that. For one, I do not attend the church regularly any more. I feel that any person that goes to that church regularly should be asked over me. I don’t know if it is true, but I know that there are a lot of people in that church that do not know me very well. They would probably be wondering, “Why is she up there? She doesn’t go to our church.” Every other time that I go up there, the same person is leading the music. That is fine, but they need to have someone that will fill in for him on a regular basis. Not be asking anyone who just happens to walk in the door to lead music. I know that I do not like leading music if I haven’t had time to look at the music and practice, even possibly have a choice in the music. Plus, I do not approve of the children going to the front, banging on drums, and not learning the art of worshiping God with music by singing it! I cannot lead music to a CD either. I would rather just stand in the congregation and sing along with everyone instead of stand up there and “pretend” to lead.

Volunteering is an essential part of a church. I know, I just said that I couldn’t stand up there and lead music. I understand that music is a spiritual gift of mine. I would be up there leading the music IF I went to the church regularly. I also understand that the membership of the church has declined very rapidly. Getting volunteers for the variety of different needs can be hard for a pool so small. However, it is essential for a church to have those volunteers and until the church “pool” grows, those few people need to step up and take on a couple of those jobs and pray and work hard to increase the church membership, not decrease it by scaring people away.

I feel that First Baptist Church of Gillette is hanging on by a thread, and if they do not change, they are going to run their membership and any perspective lives, and run themselves right out of Gillette. I pray that the church wises up and sees that things need to change. I pray that they can refocus and win lives for Christ.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Why does my dog like the ball so much?

Ok, so here is my story. I have a lab, a big black one. 75 lbs on a lazy day, 70 on a running day. Anyway, he will do anything and everything for a ball. Why is that? Why does he love to chase the ball. He wears himself out to where he can't even stand anymore and then he pants for an hour after playing. I swear I think he has asthma. Even on not hot but not cold days he pants forever, so it can't just be that is his way of sweating. But then again, maybe it is. O well.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Being Blessed & Counting My Blessings

Being blessed? What does it mean to you? Many people find blessings in everything they do. I have to say that my greatest blessing lately has been being accepted into this position with the ABCRM. Things happened perfectly for me to find this job. It was like God knew that I needed a change, and that change came in the form of this new job. Events worked out to show me that this place is where I needed to be.

I am very blessed that my parents do not live too far away from me. I miss having all of my family around me and being here in Denver is difficult. However, my parents, mostly my mom, come down here from Gillette a lot, so it is not as bad as it could be. I was asked by my sister the other day why I had not moved to Sioux Falls. I told her I don’t know. I do know this though, if we were in Sioux Falls, I would not have this job and I would not be as blessed as I am right now.

My next blessing that I can count right now is my husband. I cannot count how many times he has been there for me, helped me, cared for me, and just loved me. Our lives can be hectic and difficult at times, but I am so blessed to have him as my partner.

Our church is another great blessing for me. I really believe if we had not found Calvary, we would not be where we are today. I am positive of that fact. We are so busy with the church, it is our social life. We don’t have a bible study or something to go to yet, but we are so busy with choir, bells, committees and services that anything else would have to be squeezed into our “quality” time together. But, that may be a good thing. I think it would help James and I both individually and as a couple to have a bible study to go to.

Anyway, I have found blessings in other places too. God has decided to either say no, or wait, on many things I have been praying for. He just does not think the timing is right. I understand, and I am trying to maintain patience. That is the one thing that I am not overly blessed with. But I will get there and everything will be ok eventually.

Yesterday I was asked if I was angry at God when my brother died. When I think back now I do not recall being angry (this is leading to a blessing, stay with me). I did recall being extremely angry with myself. I know I was not the best sister in the world. I can’t even say that I tried to be a good sister. But I don’t remember being angry with God. My reasoning to my questioner yesterday was that I have always believed that everything is done in God’s timing. He will let us know what He wants from us and others when He wants to. If he decides to take someone away from us, then He wants them with Him, or has bigger and better things for them. I understood when Tim died that God had been preparing him to go home. He had started going back to church and had been able to see all the family a week before he died. I trust that he is with God and with my family members that have gone before us.

My blessing out of all of that is the blessing of trust in God. I don’t know why, but I have a great trust that God will do what is best for everyone and do the things that He decides are right. I have had to. My life has had too many ups and downs and good and bad things happen. I trust that God knows what is right and good. James surely has a very hard time putting trust in God. He wrote a devotional for me to post for work this past week and he talks about this very topic. He talks about how we moved down here with just our savings and our faith. Eventually we have made out great. Starting out though, you could have popped James with a fork because he was so inflated with stress (bad analogy I know). He did not trust that God would take care of us and help us like I did. I remember almost every night when we would lay down to sleep, he would roll over and look at me and tell me he was stressed. I would tell him to let it go and let God take control. He eventually did and go a job within 3 days. God works in mysterious ways, but all we have to do it trust that He will keep us.

Now, I know everything will not always be so perfect. I know that God will bless us in different ways. He may tell us No, and make us go somewhere else then where we want to go. I know from a fact that He will tell us to “Wait, I don’t want you to have this yet.” But in time He will give us what we need and even what our hearts desire. Unconditional trust in God is what we need.
Now, I know that I have not put down all my blessings, but I would run out of memory and room on my computer if I was to do that. So I am going to sign off by saying this. Please, do all you can to trust in God. Trust that He is going to do what is good for you in your life. Trials and tribulations are all a part of growth and will help you to trust that He knows what is best for you. I hope you take that to heart. Gods timing is perfect. He knows you and knows what is best. I hope that God will bless you today and everyday. You must look to Him and trust in Him.

God bless!