Your password is ???

Could you, without a thought, recite for me your social security number? Could you, without blinking, rattle off your spouse's or any of your children's birth dates? Could you, without much thought, recite your 16-digit bank account or credit card number?  So, what about your last "real" home phone number?  The preamble to the Constitution?  The password to your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or any other password protected entity??

I recently read about Corrie ten Boom - she and her family were taken from their home during the horrific reign of Hitler.  She, alone, survived the prison camp.  Before they were taken, her family ripped pages from the Bible and stuffed the page in their shoes.  Her father, sister and Corrie would ask one another what they were standing on... They would reply with whatever page was in their shoe - 1 Corinthians, Acts 2...  It truly was how they stood, and how Corrie survived!

When Clay was four, our pastor was leading a sermon series on Psalm 23, so appropriately, he challenged our congregation to memorize the entire Psalm.   Dutifully we challenged our family.  Partly because we spent an enormous amount of time in the car then, Clay and I practiced ... And practiced... And practiced more!  He couldn't wait to share his recitation with our pastor.  Graciously Pastor Les listened intently to  Clay's rendition of the passage, then joyfully suggested that Clay join him at the pulpit the following Sunday to encourage our church members with his memorized work!

Now remember, friends, this was during the same time that this "psalm-memorizing" preschooler had made the mature decision to stick his head in a toilet because  of a friend's dare!  Understandably these proud parents were a bit leery of his attendance on the pulpit.  After much discussion.. And reminders about appropriate behaviors ... And let's be honest, a few strong threats of consequences of unbecoming behaviors, the morning came, the service began, the call for Clay was issued.  We videoed it and somewhere in the recesses of a box of important paraphernalia, it exists!  You will have to trust me when I beam about his word for word, didn't miss a beat, precious 4-year-old fidgety little self that "performed to perfection".  We breathed...  The pastor thanked him and headed Clay toward exiting the stage.  OH NO!!! We had not discussed nor practiced the exit!!!  There were five steps leading up or down from the stage... Without a pause or a thought, he perfectly executed his dismount - not touching one step as he leaped "Spider-Man style" offering spiderlike landing on hands and feet!  The gracious crowd cheered and "amened" even more vigorously than before!  Hmm, maybe we should all feel as invigorated after memorizing and reciting scripture!

That is the challenge for this week, friends.  Our perfect model and leader (we do desire to be Christlike, yes?!), Jesus, knew scripture well.  Likely he had learned from the synagogue school and practice at home with Joseph and Mary.  It is not easy, but there are some reasonable strategies to help us.  We have the luxury of Bible apps, Bible on speaker with phone or computer, and there is still the archaic, nonetheless popular, 3 x 5 index cards!  :) 

What is your very favorite scripture today?  Mine has certainly changed during circumstances and just how God is speaking to my life, but one that has rung in my ears for years is from Zephaniah 3:17, if we were live, I would quote it...
The Lord your God is with you,
He is mighty to save,
He will take great delight in you,
in His love He will no longer rebuke you,

So would you share your favorite... you don't have soar off the platform... you might just stash it in your shoe... you might just tuck it away on the visor above the drivers' seat... you might just praise our precious Lord for HIS word to you!  I'd love for you to comment here and encourage me and others.  Either way, challenge yourself, just a verse.... this every week!  We are WALKING on HIS word!!

Who are YOU?

"Cause I know who I am...I am Rosemary's granddaughter, spitting image of my father, and when the day is done, my momma's still my biggest fan...
I'm a saint and I'm a sinner
I'm a loser; I'm a winner
I am steady and unstable
I'm young, but I am able."

The lyrics from Jessica Andrew's country song, Who I am, above certainly give "identifying" characteristics for this young singer.

So who are you... who am I?  So often we identify ourselves in terms of 'who" we belong with.  I am Frank's wife; I am Katie, Kellie, Mollie and Clay's mother.  I am Bob and Ruth Ann's daughter.  I am Mimi to Caden, Charlie and Corey.  I am mother in law to Chris and Tim.

We are also identified by what we do... I teach 4th grade.

Our drivers license offers each of us a "real" picture of who we are, what we look like... in that moment when she snaps the picture.  I have yet to receive a picture on my license that I like.  I am never ready at the right time; the "photographer" doesn't give a good warning of 1.2.3 SMILE.  I think the camera adds at least 5 pounds to my face. Or, just maybe... that really is what I look like?! 

i would NOT ever pull out my driver's license to offer introduction for my identity!!

We do however often introduce ourselves in terms of someone or something else.  Does that give us credibility or just simply identification?  There have been times when I've met someone and their response was, "Oh, you're Clay's mom..."  Honestly at times, I have held my breath wondering what exactly the next statement might be.  Would it be a "proud momma" moment because they would follow that question with some glorious comment about how thoughtful, funny and kind my boy is... or might it be a moment of pause as they shared a "not so proud" story of something Clay had done or said.   I could say the same thing of all my children... and myself, as few of us have the luxury of knowing that our identity has ALWAYS been what we want it to be.

A couple of weekends ago, I had the privilege of chaperoning a Youth Retreat that focused on IDENTITY - our identity in Christ... just who are we, not because of anything we've done, not because of what family we were born into... only because of the grace, mercy and love that Jesus offers as our Savior.

We spent a portion of our small group time digging into scripture and defining our identity in Christ.  WOW - truly HE overwhelmed us in that time and since, as I have reflected on who I am.  Our creative group of middle school girls thought the idea of using an "ID" type representation (our id - identity in JC - Jesus Christ)  for each of the qualities that we found would be appropriate.  So, take a look,

In Christ... you are...

You are LOVED.
Loved enough, His word tells us, so LOVED by God, that HE sent Jesus, HIS only Son, that you, if you choose to believe in HIM, will have eternal life.

That my friends is who we are!  Who might you share that with today?

For God so loved the world that HE gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. John 3:16  

Total Makeover...

1991 - 2 little girls at home, just recently moved to Louisville - Frank won a trip to La Jolla, California based on a sales contest at work.  We were anxious about being away at the same time... so much so, that we made a needed attorney appointment, created a will, and left it lying on the kitchen table - for quick reference!  :)
We joined many others in the gorgeous city of La Jolla for 5 days of unbelievable, luxurious, pampering complete with fabulous accommodations.  Choices for us each day were special excursions including a trip to the zoo, a hot air balloon ride around the city (yes, we did that!), and one specific day - the guys headed off to a local golf course and the ladies were whisked away to an entire day at the Spa.
 Treated like Esther preparing to visit the King, we were offered every option imaginable to encourage us to feel refreshed, rested, and renewed - new women!  Choices included every "beauty" option I knew along with a long list of "services" that I surely needed.  Along with a couple of other brave ladies, I chose the "total package", which included as many options that could be fit into the amount of time we were there.  The day was glorious for me - manicure, pedicure, Swedish massage, some kind of stone massage, facial... now remember, I was 29 years old at the time, so I opted out of the "wrinkle" services... oh to have that option today!!!  Interestingly at the end of the day, I felt like a limp noodle.  To use the word, RELAXED, isn't even close.  Honestly, I was so refreshed, relaxed, renewed, refined... I could barely walk.  We were returned to our husbands just an hour or so before dinner. Frank expected me to beam with excitement, full of energy, glistening with refreshment.  Instead I met him with the words, I need a nap!  :) 
It was a total makeover, for sure, but it wore me out.  Recently I have enjoyed a Bible study time led through video with Jennifer Rothschild called, "Walking by Faith, Lessons Learned in the Dark".  It has been a glorious time of renewal, refreshment and challenge as we have walked through specific times in our own lives of facing darkness and challenges.  Each week we have been reminded of the goodness and faithfulness of God.  This week has been especially encouraging for me as we looked at Moses when God called him... and, I mean, really called him, by name, with a specific, albeit daunting task in Exodus 4:1-17.  Moses needed a bit of convincing of the power of God, so God used what Moses had - his staff and his own hand.  God asked that he throw down his staff - it became a snake; God asked that Moses place his hand in his cloak - it became leprous.  Still Moses, questioned, with "pardon your servant, Lord?"  showing his fear and lack of confidence... not just once, but twice!  Come on Moses... this is your total makeover time - GOD is calling you right here, right now for this specific named purpose!  So, in HIS gracious patience and plan, God let Moses know that Aaron would be joining him.
My "stiff-necked" self wants to give Moses a large piece of my mind in discipline and "seriously, what were you thinking???", but then I hear my patient, gracious Lord remind this flailing, challenged-in-obedience daughter, by whispering, "Susan, Susan", and then HE waits... to hear my response.  May it be... "Here am I, Lord, send me!"