Tag Archives: faith

Donation Annoucement

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I hope everyone had a chance to read last night’s post about shoes and the kids in Ethiopia praying for a pair of their own. If not, please take a few minutes to read it and share.

At the end of the post I said I’d count my shoes and announce how much I’m donating to the cause. So how many pairs do you think I have?

IMG_4886.jpgFrom ratty yard shoes to flip flops, slippers, snow boots, hiking boots, tennis shoes, sandals, shoe boots, ankle boots, cowboy boots, tall boots (can you tell I like boots?), flats, pumps, and all I counted a total of 65 pairs of shoes neatly organized in my closet. Are you surprised? Or does that sound about right?

Whether or not you decide to contribute to the shoes for Ethiopian children fundraiser, I’d love to hear how many pairs of shoes you have in your closet!

Now that we know the number of shoes I have, it’s time to announce how much I’ll donate to the cause. I’m on a limited budget while I’m working on a doctorate degree, so I can’t give what I’d like to. However, I am committing to $10 per pair of shoes for a total of $650. I’m headed to the site right now to complete my contribution. Will you consider joining me? Whether it’s a dollar or a $100, every donation helps. If you haven’t already clicked one of the two hyperlinks, click here to access the GoFundMe page.

Thanks Everyone!

Praying for Shoes

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My second earliest memory, the first being the night my sisters were born, is restlessly roaming the aisles of a shoe store bored out of my five-year-old mind while my parents tried to fit the aforementioned sisters with appropriate winter footwear. Finally, Dad told me sit down.

“But what am I supposed to do?” I whined.

“I don’t know. Twiddle your thumbs!” he replied.

He lost his stern dad demeanor when I sat down on the red vinyl bench in the children’s shoe department and while swinging my feet, began twiddling my tiny thumbs. He’d underestimated the value of a Sesame Street education.

Eighteen years later I walked into a bridal shop, pointed to a pair of white satin kitten-heel boots and said, “I’ll take those! Now let’s find a dress to go with them.”

IMG_4709Shoes are closely tied in my mind to endless memories. I remember the pointy-toed cowboy boots a family friend bought me in Nebraska.  Little did he now the culturally unique footwear would nearly get me beaten up in my Norfolk, Virginia elementary school. By high school I was living in the Wyoming/Nebraska Panhandle populated with generations of my family. There, I fit in with popular 1980s footwear such as the light blue jellies I wore with dresses to church and the white, untied high top tennis shoes I wore with jeans to school. I still have the first thing my mother-in-law ever bought me – an oyster colored pair of Justin lace up ropers. Twenty-eight years later I still pull then on for rodeos and state fair. I had the leather loafers my daughter made me get rid of when she was in high school and deeply concerned with my cool factor, but I still have her favorite gold glitter shoes she wore nearly every day of her third year of life.

During a recent Strategic Partners’ Conference of Horizon International, Inc. I poured over the prayer requests from our African partners. I was struck by a request from Tamrat and Mulu, project managers of Life Center in Addis Ababa and Sekota, Ethiopia. They are requesting $5,750 U.S. dollars for shoes for orphans they serve through Life Center. They are praying for the opportunity to purchase school shoes and everyday shoes for these kids. As I wrote out my prayer for the work of Life Center I penned, “God, it seems so strange to pray for shoes.”

I have never needed a pair of shoes. However, I have frequently wanted shoes, and usually gotten them. In fact, the day before I attended the conference, I had taken a photo of a new pair of moss green shoe boots, posted it on Facebook and told my fellow fashionistas how excited I was to break in my new boots at the conference. I have never prayed for a pair of shoes, never been restricted from attending school for lack of proper footwear, never cried at night over cut, bruised feet, lost toenails, or broken toes.

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Florence from Uganda has. During the conference she shared the memory of receiving her first pair of shoes when she was 11 years old! The shoes where hand-me-downs from another orphan. Florence’s husband Herbert shared the memory of a young Ugandan boy receiving his first pair of shoes and going to bed that night with the shoes wrapped up in a blanket and tucked under his arm.

The soles of shoes protect the soles of our feet and keep them warm and safeguarded from stones, glass, burs, and other flesh damaging objects. Proper shoes prepare us for the environment and purpose – hiking boots, running shoes, dance shoes, even shower shoes! But shoes also touch our souls. They bring us happy memories and help us feel stylish, well-dressed, and well-cared for. For Florence and others who pray for shoes, finally having their prayers answered assures them God is listening.

I have the opportunity to visit Life Center in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia October 31, 2018 along withHorizon CEO Bob Pearson, a fellow Horizon board member, and four other committed supporters of Horizon and orphan care. While there we will meet some of the barefoot children praying for shoes to protect their soles and allow them school attendance. With your help, I would like to also touch their souls with the promise of the funds they need to purchase these shoes.

Watch for a vlog post tomorrow showing all of my shoes and announcing the amount I’ll donate per pair. In the meantime, if you’d like to contribute, please click here.

 

Flashback Friday 10

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Flashback Friday 10

We’re ending the first month of 2018 already! It may be the new year, but if you’re like me, you’re becoming weary of the winter weather. The Flashback for this week is from almost exactly 20 years ago. It was published in the January 29, 1998 edition of the weekly Chester County Independent in Henderson, TN. Reading back over it, I was reminded of the beauty of our amazing landscapes and how “the very stones would cry out” to glorify God in our silence (John 19:39b ESV).

As you read this week’s column, take a look around you at all the beauty you have in your life. I know it’s cold, and we’re getting tired of it, but spring will come. Rejoice in the good things of this season of our lives.

How Majestic is Your Name

tops-of-pine-treesWhat I love about pine trees is their majesty. They stand straight and tall, boughs uplifted to the heavens, as if in praise to the Almighty. When I look at a pine tree, I am reminded of one my favorite choruses by Michael W. Smith, “O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the earth. O Lord, our Lord, we praise Your name. Oh Lord, we magnify Your name; Prince of Peace, Mighty God; O Lord God Almighty.”

The words to this song make me want to stand up tall as the trees and “shout unto the Lord with the voice of triumph.”

I recently experienced my first ice storm, and saw pine trees in a new posture. As I drove to work, admiring the exquisite adornment of the countryside, I thought what a symbol of worship the bowed pine trees were. Instead of arms raised high, the trees were bent under the weight of the ice, as if in humble subjection to an awesome God.

ice on pine

As I think back on the memory of those ice-laden trees, the words of another chorus overflow my heart:

“I love You, Lord, and I lift my voice to worship you. Oh my soul, rejoice. Take joy my King in what You hear. May it be a sweet, sweet sound in Your ear.”

Flashback Friday 9

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Flashback Friday 9

It is so interesting for me to dig back and reread these 20-year-old columns. It’s fun to be reminded of the things my kids were saying and doing, and to recall my own struggles and fears and know how far I have come. The first fear expressed in this column from 1998 is fear of speaking in public. Now, as a public speaker, I don’t even remember having that fear.

But some things stay the same. At the end of this column, I quote Psalm 27:1 and call it my mantra. A few short months ago, I started my first doctoral level class. We were asked to share a scripture that would help us through the obstacles to come in this four-year intensive online program. I shared the same verse that gave me courage when I left home for the first time, when I became a parent, when I went through divorce, decided to leave a secure job for the unknown, and now embark on earning a doctorate.

I hope you enjoy this flashback. And please, share in the comments what helps you move through your fears to find victory on the other side of the battle.

A Child Shall Lead Them

I’ve heard it said that children “inherit” their parents’ fears. If that is true, the real Geoffrey Taylor and Jeanna Elizabeth Alexandra Cooper probably will become subjects of a switched-at-birth-made-for-TV movie.

So far, my children show no signs of fear of speaking in public. At a recent trip to the doctor’s office, 3-year-old Geoff kept the entire waiting room entertained with tales of “The Magic School Bus,” “Kratt’s Creatures,” “Arthur,” “Bananas in Pajamas,” and “Barney.”

They show no concern for what others may think of them. Last week 23-month-old Jeanna walked up to a stranger in the bank and informed her, “I’m Jeanna. I’m pretty!”

Financial worries are alien to them as Geoff begs for Matchbox cars from “the Wal-Mart Car and Gum Store,” and Jeanna continues in her baby adopting endeavors.

Fear of bodily harm completely surpasses them as their fingers and toes web together and gills sprout behind their ears.

As they perform somersaults and mid-air flips, jump from counter tops and slide off of desks.

As Jeanna shouts, “Higher, higher,” and pumps her legs in the “wing.”

As they hug, kiss, and pat every dog, cat, lamb and goat they see.

At the end of eighth grade, I had my first “panic attack.” I stood in front of the “enormous”Torrington High School and begged Christ to return before I was forced to encounter such fearsome obstacles.

I was certain I’d be taken up in the rapture before I had to face the frightful four – high school, college, marriage, and childbirth. In just 11 years, I succeeded in all four, and the only downside has been those extra 30 pounds I still blame on my children.

Before I left home for a large college in Florida, I discovered a verse that has become my mantra. Psalm 27:1 says, “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?”

My husband and I tell the kids that they have nothing to be afraid of because God and Jesus always are with them and protecting them. God says “fear not; for I am with thee,” (Isaiah 43:5a).

Maybe Geoff and Jeanna have more to teach me in some areas than I have to teach them.

 

Flashback Friday 8

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Flashback Friday 8

I kicked off the new year by listening to an audio book called, “The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper” by Phaedra Patrick. I thought Mr. Pepper might have some strange quirks about his personality that the author called curious charms. It didn’t take long for me to realize the charms were part of a bracelet Arthur finds when he cleans out his deceased wife’s closet. He takes on the challenge of tracking down the origin of each charm and learning about a part of his wife he had never known. The book is a beautiful story, sprinkled with humor, of grief, healing, and restoration. As I listened to the adventures of this widower while tracking down the origins of a tiger, an elephant, an artist’s palette, and other charms, I was reminded of my own charm bracelet. Actually, I have several, but my first charm bracelet came from my former mother-in-law, who is still a dear friend. Twenty years ago she read this column and it’s closing paragraph. That Christmas, I received a lovely gold charm bracelet with the first two charms attached.

SYMBOLS OF FREEDOM

As a Navy Brat, I’ve seen both the Pacific and Atlantic oceans and most of the land between them. I’ve stopped in the middle of a summer softball game to stand, hand over heart, as the “Star Spangled Banner” played and the flag was lowered at the end of a day on a Naval reservation.

I whole heartedly believe that the United States of America is the greatest country in the world. I realize there are a multitude of problems in our nation. I’ve been known to grumble about a lot of them. But there still is no other place I would rather live.

When I was in high school, someone made a rude remark about my sister. I immediately defended her. The person said, “but you’ve said the same thing about her yourself!”

My brilliant response was, “Yeah, but she’s MY sister.”

That’s the way it is with family, and that’s the way it is with the U.S. We can fight and gripe, but an outsider better just keep his mouth shut.

“From sea to shining sea” are monuments symbolizing our nation’s ideology and the men who have led us in those ideas. From the Liberty Bell to the Washington Monument, we are reminded of our greatness.

Our country also has many symbols commemorating our freedom. As Americans, we may be selfish with our parking spaces, but when it comes to freedom, we want the whole world to have what we have. That is why we have monuments like the three soldiers raising the flag at Iwo Jima, the Vietnam Memorial and the Statue of Liberty.

The first two monuments recognize the lives that were lost in defending democracy – for ourselves and our neighbors.

The Statue of Liberty symbolizes our willingness to share our bounty with those who could not find it in their own homelands.

I have never seen the Statue of Liberty. But someday, I hope to stand at her base and read the inscription – “Give me your tired, your poor …” I don’t remember the rest of how it goes, but it reminds me of another symbol of freedom – the cross.

While Jesus was still on this earth He said, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest,” (Matthew 11:28, KJV).

Then He died for our freedom.

Each little trinket on a bracelet represents something of importance to the one who wears it. If I had a charm bracelet, the first two symbols I’d hang on it would be miniatures of the Statue of Liberty and of the cross.

 

Flashback Friday 7

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Flashback Friday 7

It’s been a while since I’ve posted a Flashback Friday.  I’ve recently met several deadlines and enjoyed a few big events, and now find myself in a bit of blissful reprieve for a few short weeks before we jump into the holiday season. So I thought I’d take some time to schedule some Flashback Friday posts.

Today’s post is the very first column I ever wrote.  I showed it to my editor, Sue Hite, at the Chester County Independent and asked for feedback. I thought it was funny, encouraging, and meaningful, but what would Sue think? I sweated it out until she told me to run it on the Obits/Religion page as the first installment of my own weekly column.

Reading it back today, I still think it’s funny, encouraging, and meaningful. I wrote this the year I turned 30. Twenty years later, I’m balancing on the brink of celebrating the half century mark of my life on this planet.

Guess what…

I’m still making the same mistakes.

I think I’m making them a lot less often, and with a lot more grace and style, though.  But  those wayward Israelites still annoy me.

Not My Virtue

Patience is a virtue. It’s just not one of mine. Of course, life has written a daily lesson plan directed at teaching me, but I don’t have the patience to learn.

Last year I decided to read the Bible cover-to-cover, however, I lost patience with those thick-skulled Israelites. Moses must have been sure he was leading a group of toddlers. He had to be exhausted after a day of repeating,

“I told you not to build a golden calf!”

“No, you can’t have chocolate chip cookies, you’ll just have to be satisfied with manna from heaven!”

or “No, we can’t go back to Egypt. They want to kill you!”

“And so do I,” he must have whispered under his breath. His ears probably were burning from 40 years of hearing, “Moses, are we there yet?”

I became so disgusted with God’s chosen people. They just never got it. They made the same mistakes over and over. God punished them, and they did it again. They were brought out of slavery, famine, and the slaughtering of their children. Instead of praising God for His mercies, they turned their backs to him. Rather than publishing the first edition of 101 Ways to Serve Manna, they threw up their hands and said, “We can’t stand another day of freedom and free food falling from the sky, we’re going back!”

The Israelites had their every need provided, but they had no patience for the inconveniences they faced along the way.

Of course, I had to go and have an epiphany – bright, flashing lights and arrows pointing to my head. If the story of my life is ever written, years from now someone may read it and exclaim, “The moron! She kept making the same mistakes.”

The Lord has allowed me enormous blessings, but I stumble over the small stuff and scream in impatient tantrums. I’m still not a virtuous woman in the area of patience, but now instead of shouting, “I can’t take it anymore,” I pray, “Lord, let me learn from the Israelites.”

Flashback Friday 6

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Flashback Friday  6

Hello my handful of readers! I know it’s been far too long since I’ve posted anything, but that is about to change. I hope you’ll enjoy all new Flashback Friday posts sharing columns I wrote back in the 1990’s for the Chester County Independent and start looking forward to regular posts on Tuesdays. If you like what you’re reading, please subscribe to the blog and share with your friends.

Now, for this week’s Flashback Friday…

I was out picking chokecherries the other evening, enjoying the cool breeze right before the sun began to set. I stood on tiptoe, reached with my left arm far above my head, grasped a branch and bent it toward my right hand, and remembered the times when I would pick blackberries with my family. This memory reminded me of one of my earliest columns…

Picking Blackberries with God

Many People believe that children are unable to understand the concept of God. After all, few adults really grasp the realities. Jesus told His disciples that it is best to have the faith of a little child. Obviously, we adults don’t give kids enough credit.

The last time my sister called, she asked my 3-year-old son, Geoffrey, what he’d been doing. Around a mouthful of blackberries he said, “us been picking blackberries with God.” A couple of days later we were again picking blackberries and Geoff looked up at me and said, “God’s pickin’ blackberries with us.”

Another popular Geoffism is “God sleeps with us and keeps us safe with monsters.” Every time he says it, he says “with” monsters, not “from” monsters. That’s a pretty important concept. The Bible tells us that God will deliver us from all evil. It never says He will keep the evil away, only that He will protect us through it.

Nearly everyone is familiar with the 23rd Psalm, “Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies; thou annointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over” (verses 4 and 5). Even in death, God is with us. In the midst of our enemies (monsters), God sets us up at the head tables and fills our cups to overflowing with love and protection.

My sister and her family will be visiting us next week. We’ve been asking Geoff what he will do with his cousins. He says “Jordan and Geoff throw rocks in the mud and pick blackberries with God.”

Whatever it is we’re doing, picking blackberries, throwing rocks, or sleeping with monsters, God is with us, keeping us safe. God promises, “Lo, I am with you always.”

No one has ever told Geoffrey that. I guess he already knew.