Thursday, December 26, 2013

When an Ad Speaks to the Heart

My husband who was also watching the Ad looked over at me and said, "Are you crying yet?"

Apple AdOK, I'll admit it.

 Sometimes—(and by sometimes I mean often)—heartfelt TV commercials can make me cry.

This week was no exception; the latest Ad from Apple featured a family getting together with grandparents for Christmas.

All the kids are excited and participating in various greetings and activities, except the teenaged boy who appears to be glued to his iPhone.

The "mom" in me began to get frustrated with him as in every situation the boy seemed to be ignoring the family holiday festivities as he gazed intently at his smart phone's screen.

No doubt I wasn't alone considering the millions of other parents viewing the Ad for the first time.

Apple AdAnd I'm sure I was joined by all of them again in a collective "Ohhhhhh" of revelation when the teen suddenly stood up, switched on the TV and (using his iPhone) played back the poignant home video he had been making of everything that had taken place since the family had arrived.

My husband who was also watching the Ad (and who knows me better than anyone) looked over at me and said, "Are you crying yet?"

I was.

It's a great Ad that depicts how sometimes our teens can be "misunderstood" and that—although on the surface it may not always be evident—they really are appreciating that family who loves them so.

Good job, Apple Advertising, for a pretty great commercial.

Watch it Here.

Friday, December 13, 2013

A Year After: Why Evil Didn't Win at Sandy Hook

"Evil didn't win that day. We'll carry on that love that she had. It's quiet, it's not on the news. It takes effort to find. But what I've realized through all of this is, how strong and how big God's love really is." -Alissa Parker

Newtown(Newtown, CT)—When I first heard the early reports of a "possible school shooting" at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, a year ago; I had hoped the situation would be resolved with little to no injuries or death.
Then came the impossible news that shook the nation—20 precious little lives ruthlessly cut short; the shooter's own mother's life was taken along with the six adults killed at the school, many as they tried to protect the children.

It was the "2nd deadliest mass shooting by a single person in American history."

"The thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy…"

Along with the rest of those countless others watching on TV throughout the country, who were affected by the atrocity—I cried.

Emilie…For the little lives taken and for those mothers and fathers whose children's presents still sat ungiven, hidden away or under a tree. …For the dreams and hopes each parent had for the child they adored—dreams that would never be realized.
And yet, a measure of healing has come from an unlikely place… God has used strangers—people throughout America and the world, who felt a kinship-grief for these precious ones killed.

They sent cards and letters to the grieving families of Newtown; they paid bills, and offered prayers and words of hope.

Love was poured out, and evil didn't win.

EmilieSix-year-old Emilie Parker—one of the little girls killed at Sandy Hook—left an indelible imprint of joy on her families' hearts that the enemy can't destroy.

Robbie and Alissa, Emilie's parents, have chosen to highlight Emilie's joy and love of life by letting the world know that "Evil Did Not Win" and God's love will and does overcome.

In a blog for the Huffington Post, they wrote: "There have been times where I felt like I HAD to hold on to the dark things, like it was some responsibility I was supposed to carry. But Emilie's life was about color and joy, not about pain and suffering."

The Parkers have captured this concept in a video they've made public that aptly details the horror and sadness of learning their little Emilie was gone; but of the love and kindness that kept them going, and eventually prevailed.

Watch it by Clicking Here.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Chris Lane, Trayvon and the Elephant in Room

One thing I believe people, all around the world, commonly hold in contempt is hypocrisy and double standards.

…At least most of us.

But, the terrible, ludicrous killing of 22-year-old Christopher Lane has highlighted an apparent duplicity at the highest level of America’s government, and as a citizen, I find it shameful and appalling.

Chris—a Melbourne, Australia native, in America on a baseball scholarship—was attending East Central University in Oklahoma.  He had his whole life ahead of him, along with his girlfriend; Duncan, Oklahoma resident, Sarah Harper.

Out for a jog, last Friday (Aug. 16), Lane could not have known it would be the final steps he would take in this life.

Inside a small black car were three of Duncan’s teens—James Francis Edwards Jr. (15), Michael Dewayne Jones (17) and Chancey Allen Luna (16)—who also had their whole lives ahead of them, but who had decided to end another’s.

“We were bored and didn't have anything to do, so we decided to kill somebody,” was the explanation given to police by one of the boys.

The life they took with a gunshot to the back was Chris Lane’s.

Rewind a couple months this year, and you’d find America embroiled in the trial for Floridian George Zimmerman, who had shot and killed a boy by the name of Trayvon Martin.

The jury acquitted Zimmerman of murder, finding that he’d shot Martin in self-defense—fearing for his own life, after Martin attacked him.

While Zimmerman was not really white, but Hispanic, I guess he was “light enough” for the situation to escalate into a full scale racial issue—the killing of Trayvon being called a “hate crime” by many.

And this country’s president spoke up and identified—in the most personal way—with the victim, saying that if he had a son, he would look like Trayvon.

The media was in a frenzy; everywhere people adorned themselves with hoodies.  And the saying, “I am Trayvon” caught on like wildfire.

Obama’s words had added fuel to the already burning fire, which could have been much worse, except for the strength and grace of Trayvon’s family who accepted the verdict and pleaded for there to be no more violence.

Back to Chris Lane…and the hypocrisy in the White House.

Lane was white, and a citizen of a country that has stood with America as one of her closest allies.

If President Obama spoke out about Trayvon Martin’s killing, saying he “could’ve been my son,”  shouldn’t he then ignore the COLOR of Christopher Lane and acknowledge the tragedy of this life so senselessly lost?

The silence is deafening. 

Although one of the teens tweeted that he hated “white ppl,” there’s been no civil rights “frenzy” among the media, save for the few outlets that have pointed to this elephant in the room: hypocrisy.

This is not about guns; they will always find their way into the wrong hands regardless of any law that attempts to prevent it.

This is about a condition: hearts grown cold.

It’s about boys who are “bored” and who’s consciences have been so skewed by a lack of value for life—any life, and every life—that they actually find entertainment in killing another human being.

For those who would like to pin the “racist” title on me, I am not looking at color—cold hearts are found among all colors of skin.

But Chris Lane’s murder has drawn a huge red circle around a dangerous heart condition here in America, and a potentially deadly one.

I hope to hear words that can promote healing from our president in the coming days, and, as Oklahoma Rep. Tom Cole has already done, an apology given to the good people of Australia.

After all, my boy will celebrate his 24th birthday next month…Chris Lane could’ve been my son.

Friday, July 26, 2013

US Air Force Chaplain's Essay Removed for Using a Quote by President Eisenhower...Seriously!

I find it quite ironic, and mostly sad that the very ones who are appointed to protect this country, and the freedoms we hold dear—like the freedom of speech—are being told they cannot exercise them.

ReyesLt. Col. Kenneth Reyes, a Christian chaplain serving in the US Air Force on a base in Alaska, was likely not expecting the controversy he's received over using a quote from President Dwight D. Eisenhower in one of his latest blog postings. (Photo: Lt. Col. Reyes/Daily Mail) 
Reyes had written and posted a piece that used the well-known quote-turned-cliché in its title: "No Atheists in Foxholes: Chaplains Gave All in World War II."

The saying, originally attributed to a WWII Catholic Priest, became famous after Eisenhower used it in a 1954 speech.

"I am delighted that our veterans are sponsoring a movement to increase our awareness of God in our daily lives. In battle, they learned a great truth that there are no atheists in the foxholes," Eisenhower had said.
Pres EisenhowerYou may think there is nothing wrong with quoting a former president (and really, you'd be right according to the US Constitution), however, apparently this kind of speech is offensive and should not be allowed—at least that seems to be the opinion of the newly implemented Pentagon advisor, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation's Mikey Weinstein. (Photo: President Eisenhower) 

Reyes' base commander received a complaint from the MRFF about the essay title saying that by the chaplain's "use of the bigoted, religious supremacist phrase, 'no atheists in foxholes,' he defiles the dignity of service members."

Reyes' "Chaplain's Corner" blog posting was promptly removed, and the MRFF wants Reyes to be "punished" for his essay.

Family Research Council's Tony Perkins notes that Reyes wasn't beating anyone over the head with "faith" in his posting, and that he even ended it by pointing out that there are many different kinds of faith.

"Everyone expresses some form of faith every day, whether it is religious or secular," wrote Reyes. "Some express faith by believing when they get up in the morning they will arrive at work in one piece, thankful they have been given another opportunity to enjoy the majesty of the day, or express relief the doctor's results were negative."

I find it quite ironic, and mostly sad that the very ones who are appointed to protect this country, and the freedoms we hold dear—like the freedom of speech—are being told they cannot exercise them.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Nik Wallenda's Historic Skywire Walk across Grand Canyon Amazing on Several Levels

With nearly every step, Nik is fervently praying, live on TV beamed all around the world and online to millions hanging on every inch of progress.

Nik Wallenda When I first watched 7th generation high-wire walker Nik Wallenda walk across Niagara Falls it was without any audio feed. Always having been a huge fan of the breathtaking waterfall, I thought it was an incredible feat. (Photo: Discovery Channel) 

And then I watched the replay of Nik's walk, this time with the audio feed enabled.
Though I'd been a Believer in Jesus for over two decades prior, Nik's obviously (and audibly) strong faith and reliance on the Lord as he took each perilous step was akin to being in a Holy Spirit-filled revival meeting for me.

There's just something about fearlessness and faith in action.

Naturally, I was excited for his next wire-walk—this time over the immense and spectacular gorge that becomes the Grand Canyon a little further on from where Nik would cross.
Elders of the Navajo Nation graciously gave Nik permission to execute the feat on their land.

Nik Wallenda This would be equally as astounding as wire-walking over Niagara, except the fact that Nik would not be fettered with any tether (or any net below) at his own request; the stakes were amped to the utmost. (Photo: Discovery Channel) 

The stunt would literally be life or death, as the 1,500 foot drop would likely be terminal.
And a good portion of the world would be watching live (with a 10 second delay) thanks to the Discovery Channel, which acquiesced to Nik's request to leave behind the tether he was made to wear over Niagara.

As the countdown for the start of the walk drew near, I hopped onto the highly populated #Skywire Twitter feed. Most of the comments indicated—along with excitement—great concern and tension regarding the walk… "This is crazy!" "Why would he risk his life with his family watching?"

Nik Wallenda I would've been feeling something similar no doubt, except I've been reading Nik's book, "Balance" and I knew this is definitely something of a calling for him. One that his family understands because it's what they've always known. (Photo: Discovery Channel) 

Not unlike Joseph in the Bible, God has given Nik destiny-filled dreams from a young age; he is just pursuing what the Lord has evidently purposed for him to do.

This is pretty apparent from the way God seems to be using the gifting and talents He's bestowed on Nik, and how this Christ-centered man, who has known the wire-walking passion from age 2, is giving God the glory at every opportunity.

At a time in our country's history when a state has to pass a law to be able to use the term "Merry Christmas" without legal ramifications, and a cheerleading team is sued for writing Bible verses on their home game banners; here is Nik Wallenda thrilling the world with his passionate pursuit of both God and the skywire.

Nik Wallenda With nearly every step, Nik is fervently praying, live on TV beamed all around the world and online, with millions watching, hanging on every inch of progress. (Photo: Discovery Channel) 

As he looks down, Nik praises Jesus for His awesome creation, as the gusts kick up Nik asks over and over for the Lord to "calm these winds by the authority of Jesus." With every painstaking step over the canyon 1,500 feet down, he prays "Thank You Father, praise You Jesus."

The Presence of God is intense.

There is also the devoted and vitally important relationship Nik has with his earthly dad that is broadcast to every viewer, as Nik's father Terry—who scrupulously and meticulously oversees the engineering of the cable his son walks on—encourages him through a headset the entire way.

Nik Wallenda "Take your time," says his father near the end of the walk, "I am" answers Nik, but as he steps back over the land on the other side with his family in view, he breaks into a wire-jog, grabs off the 30' long, 40 lb. balancing pole with ease and jumps to the ground kissing it in victory. (Photo: Discovery Channel) 

The relief felt around the world is palpable.

This week major decisions are being wrestled with in the US Supreme Court—decisions that could completely change this country in ways we likely can't yet or would want to imagine.
But, last night, for 22 minutes up on a skywire perched 1,500 feet above perilous beauty, Nik Wallenda led another revival meeting with the world watching and intently listening.
An amazing, inspiring act of fearless faith in action.

Thank you Nik.

If you're a fan, I recommend reading Nik's book, "Balance," in it you'll see that his relationship with Jesus Christ, and his devotion to his family, is central to who he is and all that he does.

Follow this link to watch portions of this historic skywire walk across the Grand Canyon.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

High School Hero—The Courage of One

"It's always worth it. I'd much rather report something like this than leave it alone. All I can say is what story would you want to see on the news? One person being arrested or dozens of kids dying because of a disaster that could have been prevented." -Truman Templeton

Truman Templeton(Albany, OR)—For the last few months, Truman Templeton had become increasingly concerned about fellow West Albany student, Grant Acord, who seemed to be talking more and more about constructing bombs, according to an exclusive interview by KATU News. (Photo: Truman Templeton/ 

When it was time for a school pep rally, last week, Truman was worried that the plans and diagrams Grant had revealed to his circle of friends, would become reality. He was so worried, in fact, that he skipped going to the assembly.

When he came home from school that day—last Thursday, May 23—Truman's mother noticed that the 17-year-old seemed agitated and nervous. When she asked him about it, he decided to confide in her; explaining about Grant's destructive infatuation, and about the alarming diagrams he'd shown him.

Truman's courageous decision that day could very well have saved the lives of many students, teachers, perhaps even alleged attempted bomber-Grant's own life, as a journal found by police in the troubled student's room listed his suicide before police could stop him, in the eerie "to do" list that detailed his horrific plans.

I think there are times in all of our lives when we are faced with a decision to risk taking action at the price of what others may think; or let someone else do it.

The thing is... Truman wasn't the only student who knew about this, but he was the only one to tell someone.

West Albany High School I remember high school... you spend a lopsided amount of your time during those years, in the pursuit of just "fitting in." To risk incurring the possible anger or ridicule of other students—if there really wasn't a problem—took courage. (Photo: West Albany H.S./

Truman says it was his "conscience" that finally brought him to the place where he knew he had to speak up.

Now Truman's Facebook Timeline is filled with posts of gratitude from fellow West Albany students and friends.

And Truman is being hailed as a hero.

Truman told KATU that he hopes other students—even if it seems like a socially risky thing to do—will also speak out if something is not right and should be reported.
Says Truman, "It's always worth it. I'd much rather report something like this than leave it alone."

"All I can say is what story would you want to see on the news? One person being arrested or dozens of kids dying because of a disaster that could have been prevented," he added.
Well said Truman.

It's something we can all remember the next time we are faced with an opportunity to do something, and we think, "I'm just one person—what can just one do?"

Leslie TempletonThere's another important point to be made here, and that is about Truman's observant mom, Leslie. She must have a close and caring relationship with her son, because she was keenly aware that something was bothering him, and she went ahead and asked him about it. (Photo: Leslie Templeton/Facebook) 

What's more, Truman obviously trusted his mother enough to confide in her, believing that she could help him figure out what to do.

On Leslie's Facebook page, Thursday, she posted the following message:

We have been inundated with sincere love and appreciation and we cannot express how much that means to us. Thank you to everyone who has reached out to show support for Truman, but please do not forget to reach out to your own kids and remind them that they should never be afraid to do the RIGHT thing. That being said, I would like to add that the Acord family is undoubtedly devastated and deserve our support in the days that come. No good can come from vilifying these good people.

Thank you Leslie, for reminding us all to be involved with our kids' lives, and to be praying for Grant Acord and his family—it will be very hard for them in the weeks and months to come… but it could've been so much worse!

Friday, May 24, 2013

More than Just another Holiday: Memorial Day

"It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain…" –President Abraham Lincoln, Gettysburg Address

I know… it's the official start of summer—I get it.

As May turns to June, we in the northern hemisphere are celebrating the casting off of cold, and welcoming flip-flops, sundresses and shorts once again.

Propane tanks are being topped off in preparation of barbeques that will fire up this weekend. Boats are being cleaned up after a winter's sleep, and garage sales are being organized.

Memorial DayBut this country's observance of something much more meaningful often seems to get lost in the jubilant re-visitation of summer.

Remembering. …Honoring the ones who laid down their lives in service and protection of this "Land of the Free."

While I don't really consider myself as having been raised in a "military family," my father and brother both did serve for a time in the U.S. Navy. And, I have always felt it was important to consider the cost of those who have been a part of defending the values and freedom we hold close, in various wars throughout this nation's history.

For one thing, God calls His people to remember—to consider all that He has done in their lives and how they have come to where they are now.

And, to remember the sacrifices made along the way by others for future generations.
At the risk of quoting a philosopher who seemed to be fairly atheistic—George Santayana—I do agree with his often quoted (and misquoted) text; "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."

It's important to remember the reasons why battles were fought, and those who fought them.

King David wrote in Psalm 3, "If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?"

Memorial DayWays to Remember
Throughout all civilizations on this earth, history has been handed down from generation to generation, through storytellers, then through writing and print, then film and TV and now through blogs, videos and photos on the internet.

It's pretty easy these days to find ways to spark our memories of our country's past, and those who helped to protect it and shape its history.

Perhaps though, some of the best ways are still the simple show of respect and honor; such as attending a Memorial Day parade; going to a Memorial Day service to honor fallen heroes; or even just reaching out to shake the hand and say "thank you" to a Veteran.

There are also some good movies that can remind us of what was endured to keep this nation free.

So, while you gather with family for the ushering in of the long-awaited summer months; take a little time to reflect and remember the ones—and The One—who made your holiday possible.

Because, Memorial Day is more than just another day off.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

What's Your Footprint?

"What we leave behind is not engraved in stone monuments but woven into the lives of others." -Pericles

It's been the trendy buzz-word for a while now; "footprint." And, like a lot of things these days, it doesn't exactly mean what it used to.

"What is your 'carbon footprint?'" is a question that gets asked, in reference to what kind of damage you leave on the ecosystem after you depart this world.

Grasshopper on rice paperImages come to mind of the old Kung Fu TV show; "Grasshopper" steps lightly, but purposefully, on the runway of rice paper, looking back to see if he was able to walk to his master without indenting the paper with his footprints.

(You can see this concept has been rattling around my brain a bit!) But there is one fact I'd like to point out.

None of us DON'T LEAVE FOOTPRINTS. We all do.

Now, I'm not speaking ecologically. I love this earth that God has created and given us to be good stewards over, and I agree that we need to do what we can to take care of it. But, I'm referring to the impact one life has upon another--or on many.

It might be impact for good, or for bad, but each one of us leaves footprints of where we have walked here on earth, how we have lived, and how it has touched those around us.

Pericles, an influential orator in Athens, Greece, during its golden age, once aptly said, "What we leave behind is not engraved in stone monuments but woven into the lives of others."

We leave behind footprints. And, where our feet have taken us will directly affect where those whom we leave behind will go.

Thoughts like that make me want to bequeath the best things to my loved ones and friends, and to generations to come. Not expensive tangibles, but things like wisdom, security, faithfulness and compassion. And footprints that ultimately lead to the Lord.

In the everyday clamor, it's easy to be focused on the "tyranny of the urgent" and getting where you have to go. I'm guilty-as-charged. But, it really is in that everyday minute-by-minute living, when our lives bump up against others' lives, that footprints are created.

By the way, that "contact" with others will naturally create friction. That friction can lead to warmth or to annoyance.

Investment in another life, or pushing it aside? Construction, or destruction?

The choice is ours...the choice is mine, today.

To again borrow Grasshopper's scenario; as we head toward the Master, stepping carefully on our own rice paper, what will be the footprints that we leave behind?

Moms, their Kids and Facebook—Keeping in Touch

"Facebook has been a boon to family relationships." Paul Levinson
FacebookAs Mother's Day rolled around this year, an interesting article caught my eye online… "Moms On Facebook: How Mothers and Kids Keep in Touch On the Social Network."

Writing for the Huffington Post, Martha Mendoza tells the story of young professional, John Knoller who had refused his mother's "friend request" on Facebook for years, but finally acquiesced.

According to Knoller, he and his mother now have an agreement that she will "try not to make embarrassing comments, and he can delete them if she does."

The stat Mendoza shares is that 1 in 3 moms "are connected with their teens over Facebook."

When the social networking giant began to take off, and my kids migrated from My Space over to Facebook, I joined up as well with the single goal of keeping tabs on my children.
a mom on fbI admit; it has been both good and bad.

Young people can sometimes be over-dramatic, and my kids are no different. During those times of melancholy posts from my offspring I learned (in order to keep my sanity) I would just need to wait about 24 hours for the light-hearted "status updates" to return.

But, I'm glad to have kept in touch in this way, and it's been helpful as a tip-off on how to be praying for them at times when a phone call wasn't possible.
By way of advice, I'd say when you see those posts by your kids that cause you concern, don't be overcome with worry. Just give it to God, He is "able to keep what I've committed to Him…" as it says in 2 Timothy.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Happy Birthday to my daughter, and Thank You, God

29 years ago today, God took a self-absorbed, stubborn 23-year-old, with no direction in life, and very poor judgment--except one: to give this baby life--and He showed her what REAL love is...when she became a single mom. Thank you Allison for coming into my life, I love you, Happy Birthday, Doodle!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Reading the Headlines with Jesus

"The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?" –Psalm 27:1

I think it's important for each of us to be informed on what's going on in the world. But, sometimes that can be pretty frightening.

Things were probably just as alarming at the time the Apostle Paul wrote these words to his young protégé Timothy:

Reading the paper "For God did not give us a spirit of timidity (of cowardice, of craven and cringing and fawning fear), but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of calm and well-balanced mind and discipline and self-control." -2 Timothy 1:7 (AMP) (Photo by: Ronit Geller)

This verse has really been on my mind as I thought about the first few months of this year.

How many of us are plagued at times with fear, in whatever form it may present itself?

Fear prevents us from reaching out to someone else, from communing with the Lord, and from thriving in the joy in which God has designed each of His children to live. (Side note here: joy is not defined by circumstances, which may or may not be favorable—it means being empowered each day by the strength the Lord affords us, namely His joy; see Nehemiah 8:10)

As we look around at the world we live in—as Believers in Jesus Christ—we can't help but notice the mounting persecution against faith on all fronts, and in all places. 

In many non-Christian nations Believers are imprisoned and worse for their faith; the womb is increasingly under attack everywhere, and ideologies that are derogatory to family values are quickly becoming the norm.

It would be easy to give in to fear.

Except that none of this is a surprise to God. And even in these times, He has equipped us to walk in His love, with hope and faith.

2 Peter 1:3 says, "For His divine power has bestowed upon us all things that [are requisite and suited] to life and godliness, through the [full, personal] knowledge of Him Who called us by and to His own glory and excellence (virtue)." (AMP)

news on tablet This morning, looking around the internet at the various headlines; the aforementioned persecution; terrorism; wars and the "powder keg" situations that exist in countries that seem on the verge of war; the natural disasters in just the last 5 years alone and the increasing frequency of asteroids and comets near the Earth . . . (Photo:

Every generation from the first century till now has thought they must be in "the end times." Perhaps we are, and then again, maybe not.

Whether we are or not isn't as much the issue as knowing and staying close to Jesus—in these times; in every time.

The future may be unsure and unclear but it doesn't have to be filled with fear.

You can look at current events each day and bring them to the Lord in prayer; interceding for others and then asking for His peace that passes understanding to guard your heart and mind. (Phil.4:6-7)

In this way we, as Believers, can be ready to receive His direction—instead of being so preoccupied with fright, that we can't even move.

bible and paper In this way we will be able to live—regardless of our situation—in God's power, love and with a sound mind. (Photo: jdshankles.wordpress)

I call this "reading the headlines with Jesus."

As long as "in Him, we live and move and have our being," then nothing can overtake us that He does not allow, and whatever it is we walk through—He is with us in every step.

"Therefore strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees . . ." -Hebrews 12:12 
". . . For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.'" –Hebrews 13:5
"Behold God is my salvation, I will trust and not be afraid; for Yah, the Lord, is my strength and song; He also has become my salvation."
–Isaiah 12:2

"Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever." –Hebrews 13:8

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Michael Oher's "Impossibly Happy Ending"—How One Person with God's Love Can Change a Life

"Everyone has a blind side, but a loving heart always sees a path toward true charity." –Leigh Ann Tuohy

Most of us have seen the award-winning, inspirational movie "The Blind Side," which tells the real-life story of how the Tuohy family took in and eventually adopted Michael Oher, giving him a living and educational opportunity he likely would never have otherwise had.

Michael and Leigh Ann TuohyOn February 3rd, an amazing chapter (ABC News Host Diane Sawyer called it an "impossibly happy ending") was added to Michael's tale—winning the Super Bowl. (Photo: ABC News) 

Wearing number 74 on his Jersey, Michael was an integral part of the Baltimore Ravens' offensive line, as the team worked toward that coveted February finish of the NFL season.

But what strikes me the most about Michael's testimony is that it began with one person's heart to look beyond the comforts of her own life, to someone who had none.

What if Leigh Ann Tuohy and her family had kept driving that day, right past Michael instead of making room for him in their car—and in their lives?

Of that moment Leigh Ann says, "It was nothing and everything. It was just one of those things that you should do."

What a difference one person with a heart of love can make!

Tuohy family Sometimes you get to see that difference (like when the one to whom you've given opportunity brings home a Super Bowl ring); sometimes you just hope and trust that you have made one. (Photo: Tuohy family) 

If we are honest with ourselves, we can probably remember a time when we've felt prompted to step out in faith, and give a little of the love and compassion we've known to someone else in some way—maybe to someone we don't even know.

Those can be priceless moments or missed opportunities—it's up to us.

The Lord may move on our hearts but—with the exception of Phillip's "Holy Spirit ride" in the Book of Acts—it's not very often that He will also move our feet—we've got to step out in willingness.

Because of their experience in reaching out to Michael Oher, the Tuohy Family have created the "Tuohy Family Foundation: Making It Happen." It exists to: "live and share our commitment to faith, family, and others, while opening doors to promote awareness, provide hope, and improve the standard of living and quality of life for all the children fighting to survive in the invisible cracks of our society."

It all began with one moment's decision to stop and make a difference to someone else.

As Leigh Ann says, "Everyone has a blind side, but a loving heart always sees a path toward true charity."

Monday, January 28, 2013

Super Bowl Faith: a Glance at Two of the Believers Involved in This Year's Game

"God has brought me this far, He's laid out a phenomenal path for me and I can't do anything but thank Him." –Colin Kaepernick

This Sunday the Baltimore Ravens and the San Francisco 49ers will wrangle on the grid iron in Super Bowl XLVII.

The faith of a few members of the NFL has been increasingly highlighted in recent years, and it is certainly not lost on some of this year's players.

Colin Kaepernick In fact, forget the eye-black-with-Scripture so significant when worn by Tim Tebow in his time as a Gator; 25-year-old Colin Kaepernick of the 49ers has plenty of it—in the form of tattoos on his arms.

Perhaps literally guilty of "wearing his heart on his sleeve" (pun intended), Kaepernick seems to back up the tatt depictions of his Christianity with a personal devotion to the God he follows.

"My faith is the basis from where my game comes from," Colin explained in a Daily Sparks Tribune interview last year. "I've been very blessed to have the talent to play the game that I do and be successful at it. I think God guides me through every day and helps me take the right steps and has helped me to get to where I'm at. When I step on the field, I always say a prayer, say I am thankful to be able to wake up that morning and go out there and try to glorify the Lord with what I do on the field. I think if you go out and try to do that, no matter what you do on the field, you can be happy about what you did."

Regarding his tattoos, Kaepernick told Reuters, "I don't really care what people think about my tattoos. I got them for me and to show people this is what I believe in. God has brought me this far, He's laid out a phenomenal path for me and I can't do anything but thank Him."

On the young quarterback's right bicep the word "Faith" is inscribed, and "to God the glory" and a scroll with Psalm 18:39 elsewhere on the same arm.

Ray Lewis On the other side of the field there is equal passion for the Lord, probably most prominently displayed by the Ravens' defensive leader and linebacker, Ray Lewis.

"I just know that when you put your trust in God, that anything is possible," Lewis told a CSN reporter about making it to this year's Super Bowl contest. Earlier this year, after returning from an injury, Lewis announced that he would be retiring at season's end.

Lewis' fiery on-field persona is balanced by a strong faith in the Lord, one that has helped lead the Ravens through the season, as Lewis reads and preaches from the Bible in the locker room, prior to games.

While Lewis' faith has risen out of troubling circumstances and a very different scenario than that of, say, Tim Tebow—Ray is just as passionate, and has had a huge impact on his teammates, especially this year.
Orlando Magic vice president Pat Williams described Lewis' faith this way, "He's come from a totally different background than someone like Tim Tebow. He has come to Christ later in life but isn't that true of so many? The Bible teaches us that not only are our sins forgiven but they are forgotten."

What does Lewis say?

"Don't look at my yesterday, look at my tomorrow," explained Ray in a Fellowship of Christian Athletes interview. "I've said it before, God never changes. The relationship was there all along."

Friday, January 18, 2013


I wrote this for anyone who has been through or is going through pain, and/or despair in their life. The picture in my mind is a back alley, circa post WWIII... desolation.  And even amid this, there is a future and a hope in Jesus.

In the ruins and the rubble
of a life that's crashing down
At the edge of my vision 
I caught a fleeting glimpse
There You stood in clothes like mine
The murky dust-filled air 
clung to Your skin too,
the acid rain burned into both our scalps.
I turned to You and fear melted off of me
In Your eyes a strength absolute
without waiver
I suddenly knew You had always been there
To feel what I felt
to see what I saw
You smiled then and hope began to fill my heart.
No more steps alone
Now in cadence together 
You take me through
Not away, not around,
But through.