Monday, September 29, 2008 by Kristen
Wednesday, September 10, 2008 by Kristen
A Proclamation by the President of the United States of America
September 11, 2001, was etched into America's memory when 19 terrorists attacked us with barbarity unequaled in our history. On Patriot Day, we cherish the memory of the thousands of innocent victims lost, extend our thoughts and prayers to their families, and honor the heroic men and women who risked and sacrificed their lives so others might survive.
Since 9/11, we have recognized the threat posed by terrorists to the safety of the American people and worked to protect our homeland by fighting terrorists abroad. We are confronting terrorism by advancing freedom, liberty, and prosperity as an alternative to the ideologies of hatred and repression. Our Nation pays tribute to our courageous men and women in uniform serving around the world and the devoted members of our law enforcement, public safety, and intelligence communities at home who work night and day to protect us from harm and preserve the freedom of this great Nation.
Seven years ago, ordinary citizens rose to the challenge, united in prayer, and responded with extraordinary acts of courage, with some giving their lives for the country they loved. On Patriot Day, we remember all those who were taken from us in an instant and seek their lasting memorial in a safer and more hopeful world. We must not allow our resolve to be weakened by the passage of time. We will meet the test that history has given us and continue to fight to rid the world of terrorism and promote liberty around the globe.
By a joint resolution approved December 18, 2001 (Public Law 107-89), the Congress has designated September 11 of each year as "Patriot Day."
NOW, THEREFORE, I, GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim September 11, 2008, as Patriot Day. I call upon the Governors of the United States and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, as well as appropriate officials of all units of government, to direct that the flag be flown at half-staff on Patriot Day. I also call upon the people of the United States to observe Patriot Day with appropriate ceremonies, activities, and remembrance services, to display the flag at half-staff from their homes on that day, and to observe a moment of silence beginning at 8:46 a.m. eastern daylight time to honor the innocent Americans and people from around the world who lost their lives as a result of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this eighth day of September, in the year of our Lord two thousand eight, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-third.
GEORGE W. BUSH
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Sunday, August 10, 2008 by Kristen
"To whom much has been given, much will be required."
That verse has been in my thoughts the past few days. Of course, the above is not exactly how it goes, but that's how I remembered it at the time. It wasn't even a verse that I had happened to come upon in my Bible reading, but simply one that popped into my head and refused to leave. Almost as soon as it manifested itself in my mind, it created what you might call an "Ah-ha!" experience in my heart. Suddenly, I felt that I began to grasp, understand, and realize the verse--in a way that I had not done before. It was amazing--like God just spoke to my heart. Such a simple verse, but so important.
Anyway, almost immediately after my initial reaction (which was, in essence, "Wow!") a slightly more unsettling reaction followed--in comparison to the first, this one would have sounded like "Oh...". Upon pondering the verse, I realized something--Jesus isn't simply referring to material possessions; He's not only implying that we should use the monetary and material blessings we have been given to further Christ's kingdom (which might be one common interpretation of the parable in which it is contained). No, more is being required than that.
Perhaps this thought came to me because I happened to be preparing for a piano lesson around the same time; I'm not sure. But have you ever considered that your gifts, your talents (in addition to the aforementioned blessings) might also be the subject of the verse? That the blessing of having many Godly influences (whether it be parents, pastors, or friends) might be included? What about your opportunities? Your resources? Even your very mind? Your desires, passions, skills?
"For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more."
Ouch. When I think of all that I have been given--the immensity of my blessings, and the amount that has been "committed" to me, compared with how much I have given back to Him...How much shall be required of me, with what I have been given! How shall I ever account for it all? What am I doing to prepare for Him who has committed all these things to me? What will the balance be? Am I making the best use of all these blessings He has given me, as the first servant in that parable (I encourage you to read it over again), or am I simply holding them to return to Him exactly as they were when I first received them?
At the same time, I in no way am saying that I think we are required to work for our salvation. It is a free gift, given by Christ to all who will reach out and take it. But there is a level of accountability that I think perhaps we too often miss--for those of us to whom much has been given, much will be required. Yes, I believe absolutely and completely that God loves me no matter what I do or do not do; but should I not attempt to at least use that which He has given me in His love and grace in a way that blesses Him and His kingdom? Why else would He have given them to me? No, that doesn't mean that every single one of us is meant to be sent out into the world to do "great and glorious things" that all the world will see. Maybe what's required of some of us is much simpler. Maybe a particular gift you have been given isn't one to bring in hundreds of new believers, but is to be used for your own family--to develop, train, and bless your own children someday--or maybe it has one of a million other purposes, seemingly small and relatively unimportant to the world, but a necessary tool in God's hand. Maybe? Isn't that still giving back to Him? Developing and furthering what He has given us?
So that's what was on my heart this weekend, and I just wanted to share it with you--though I'm not quite sure that I worded it in a way that properly explains what I was trying to say...Please let me know what you think of it; does any of it ring true for you?
Sunday, July 06, 2008 by Kristen
I suppose my thoughts on this post are, in the words of the oft-quoted Calvin, "Who wouldn't be interested in everything we do?!"
Our dad came into the room that I share with my two younger sisters at 6:45 this morning, awaking me from a sound sleep in which I dreamt that, for some strange reason, I was one of 8 or 9 people chosen to be blasted off into space (to the moon, I think). Being desirous of reaching the conclusion of the dream, I attempted in vain to tune out the unwelcome "alarm." When, however, I heard that we had only 15 minutes to get changed, gather our things, and be in the car, I rather reluctantly but quickly threw back the 3 layers of covers (I get cold at night very easily :P).
After getting ready, I grabbed my cell phone and a ring of keys from my dresser, intending to run down the street to a neighbor's house in order to feed their cat (which responsibility I took on for half a month while the couple celebrates their 25th wedding anniversary in Vienna and on a cruise ship among the Greek islands). As I reached their driveway, however, I remembered that their daughter (a year older than I, and a sophomore in college) had left me a note yesterday saying that she would be home until later that morning, and it occurred to me that she might not appreciate my waking her so early. I therefore hastened back to the car, where the rest of the family was just piling in.
As we drove out of the neighborhood, we passed a little family of ducks just preparing to cross the road--with little baby ducklings. A cry of "Awwww!" came from my mom and me, while my dad looked at me (via the rearview mirror) like my cheese had begun to slide off my cracker. LOL
I then picked up the book I had brought with me and attempted to read. This was quite difficult, however, as my mom was reading to my dad from a book about raw milk and the history of pasteurization (we drink raw milk ;) ). I continued my efforts to tune out the commentary in the front of the car and tried to focus on George MacDonald's The Musician's Quest. The difficulty of this increased, however, as Nicole Nordeman's song 'Sunrise' stuck itself in my brain.
Finally, after a few moments, I temporarily set aside Robert Falconer and Shargar; my mind was going at such a rate (writing the beginning of this blog post, actually), that I quickly requested from my mother a piece of paper and pencil. Kara supplied the paper from her notepad on which she was writing Spanish verbs, and the pencil was found in the compartment between the front seats. (I really should remember to carry a pad of paper around with me everywhere I go.) Thus I occupied myself writing for a good 15 minutes until we came close to our destination, when my concentration was distracted by my dad pointing out some horses along the road to the kids--my attention once drawn to the window, I continued to gaze in that direction for several more minutes. Moments later, a very strange thing came into view; ostriches! Why on earth someone had ostriches in their front yard I don't know. :P
As I went to return to my creative endeavors, I was rudely interrupted by a continuous joggling. Looking up once more, I saw that we had turned onto a dirt/gravel road, and therefore postponed the commencement of my writing, lest I be completely unable to decipher it afterwards. My dad must have been highly amused at the sight of us bouncing around in our seats like Mexican jumping beans.
Miraculously, we found ourselves whole and unbruised when we finally pulled into a parking space in front of the "U-pick" blueberry farm. Everyone quickly unbuckled and gathered their things (hats, water bottles, and--in my case--a camera), whereupon we walked up to the main office.
The man that greeted us immediately congratulated our mother for "bringing so many pickers" as he began handing us buckets and ropes (by which to hang the buckets over our necks, leaving our hands free). Strangely, his voice and laugh reminded me of a character from a movie--after a bit of pondering, I realized it was the Mad Hatter from Alice in Wonderland (which I haven't seen in an eternity). The similarity was quite bizarre.
Anyway, the Mad Hatter man then directed us towards the back of the farm, where there were berries to be found. I walked with Daddy, ahead of the others, and he chatted to me about a doctor friend of his, while I listened, swinging my bucket happily. Finally we came to the section indicated by the Mad Hatter man (I never did catch his name), and everyone spread out and began picking.
There is a point to this post, believe it or not! So stay in your seat. :P
Picking the blueberries was harder this year than last. This year we didn't manage to make it to the farm until near the very end of the season, so most of the blueberries within easy reach were gone. The ones that were left were either quite far into the bush or way up on top of it. And I'm short; that made it even harder. Apparently I wasn't the only one, either. I overheard a couple on the other side of the row from me talking, and the girl commented that she wasn't getting many berries, whereupon her husband/boyfriend (I couldn't tell which) teased her for being so short and boasted that he had half a bucketful already (Hey, he must've been over 6', so he had an unfair advantage, which he admitted).
The other members of my family began commenting on the scarceness of the berries as well. This sort of blueberry picking was not for the squeamish. It required diving into the very heart of the bushes, pulling back branches, and (in my case) reaching up and pulling down branches to reach the top of them. My thirteen year-old brother approached me at one point and lamented, through the bushes, "How long wilt thou be content with the middlings? When will thou reach higher?" (Yes, I know his Olde English needs help. :P) Humorous as that was, my mind, being the way it is, took that concept and ran with it.
As I picked, I thought about the fact that in order to get the best berries (for they truly were better--bigger and sweeter), one had to strive for the tops and centers of the plants. Isn't that rather like our spiritual lives? How many people are content to walk through life and catch what they can of God along the way--a bit here, a bit there...Whatever is in easy reach. Heaven forbid that they should have to inconvenience themselves to have more of Him and His presence. Why don't we dive into God--into His heart? Why don't we look up and reach for His face? I think He is calling us to do as Aslan called the Pevensies in the Last Battle, when in the "real" Narnia:
"Further up and further in!"
This thought enkindles me. Will you too join the quest to go "further up and further in" to our relationship with Him? For without Him, where is the joy in the journey?
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Thursday, June 26, 2008 by Kristen
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Thursday, June 19, 2008 by Kristen
Hopefully sometime soon I will write out a longer "Life Update" post for you (much has been and is happening in my life), but in the meantime I will try to keep this blog busy with other things. :)
And I shall start with photography! One of my innumerable passions.
The other day I took my little four year-old sister (Becca) and Cody, the family's golden retriever puppy, on a walk down to the nearby pond. Though we didn't get to spend much time there (on account of the extreme heat, despite the fact that it was almost 5 PM), they seemed to have fun--"Baby Girl" (my own special nickname for my littlest sister) especially enjoyed seeing the ducks and watching the little minnows along the shore, while Cody had to be restrained from chasing the one and jumping in after the other. :P
Anyway, I took a camera with me: here's one of the results. :) (If it's not a large enough format, let me know, and I'll link to another version of it.)
I love hearing from you guys--please drop me a note if you get a chance!
Thursday, May 01, 2008 by Kristen
I could write out a long, wordy "speech" to commemorate this momentous occasion, but I shall spare you this time. (lol!)
Unfortunately, the readership seems to have greatly diminished since the beginning of my blog (probably my own fault, as I have not been posting regularly over the course of the past year; for that I apologize!)--I have contemplated shutting it down, but frankly I keep it up because I enjoy blogging, regardless of the number of people reading my writing! :P I am considering, however, giving it a fresh template, if I can find one with which I could be satisfied! What think you? Is it time for a new look for my blog, or does this one suit me too well to change it? (You notice I did not make this a poll--if you wish to give your opinion, you must comment. Mwuahaha.)
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Sunday, March 23, 2008 by Kristen
There is a popular book/movie of which I have heard (but not read/watched) called Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy; apparently, at some point in the story line, the answer to "life, the universe, and everything"--to life's biggest question-- is found. The answer? 42--yes, the number 42.
Well, much more about the story than that I don't know, but I believe I have found a different answer. It's very simple, like the number 42...nothing complex or hard to understand about it; in fact, we use it most every day without thinking anything of it. A common word in the English language, short, small, yet its implications can be eternal. My answer? His.
If we could grasp the deep significance of that small word every moment of every day, we would have the true answer to "life, the universe, and everything." It's all His--it all belongs to Christ. I am His, you are His, the person who cuts you off in traffic is His, the very house in which you live is His. Why should we worry, complain, or fret? Yesterday was His, today is His, and every moment of your future is His...is He not capable of taking care of His own? Shouldn't we leave it to Him, then?
If every human being on Earth is His, I should treat them with respect--they're the possessions of the King of kings; the way I react to them is, in essence, the way I am reacting to God, isn't it?
"And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me." Matthew 25:40 KJV
"Then Jesus said to his disciples: 'Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?
'Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.'Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.'" Luke 12:22-32 NIV
You see? If God is truly in control--if everything is really His, then all of life's problems solve themselves, because we don't need to solve them! That's not to say we should be apathetic--God works through our lives day in and day out--but we should rest in joy and peace, knowing that it is all His, and not ours. We are not asked to fix the world, to understand all that He does, but to merely follow His path as we can, and let Him carry us when we cannot, knowing that this is His world that He created--His perfect plan is in place, and all we have to do is allow Him to work through us in whatever way He sees fit. Much easier said than done often times, no? Trust me, I know. Too often we want to pull back the jacket and reveal a superhero, ready to fly in and save the day once again--look out to anyone who stands in our way!--but God's ways are higher than our ways, and His thoughts higher than our thoughts (Isaiah 55:9). To those who don't look for it, God's plan and His works often go passed by, unseen; and sometimes, far from being popular, those who follow that path are ridiculed. But His plan is perfect--for every one of us. Perfect. Without defect. My life is His. Your life is His. All part of His world, His plan, and His unfailing, far-seeing, passionate, and self-sacrificing love.
One little word, encompassing all of time and creation.
Sunday, March 09, 2008 by Kristen
by Michael Wells
(From Life Lines, Volume 112, newsletter of Abiding Life Ministries, International)
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Proverbs 18: 19, "A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city, And contentions are like the bars of a citadel."
"You offended me!" It is always said in the form of an accusation and in a manner indicating the need to change the offensive behavior. After all, the most important thing is that people tiptoe around and never offend self. Heaven forbid, if self were offended. Pastors hear it all the time. The statement is actually said with a tone of spirituality. However, the statement reveals a pathetic, others-controlled person, not a spirit-controlled person.
A man was taking a shortcut, found himself in the, middle of a soccer game, hurried to get out of the way, and as he was running accidentally kicked the ball and made a point. This man had not made a planned offense; it was all by accident. However, the team that was on defense started screaming, "You have ruined the game and given our opponents a point!" The man just stood in amazement. Why blame him? He was just running through, and the defense was terrible. If a stranger who doesn't know the game can score, then the defense is in need of being fixed.
If you keep getting offended by this person and that person--who are only stumbling and bumbling in front of you—fix your own defense. You are the one with the problem, not them. Oh, it sounds better to say they have the problem, but if they really do have an obvious problem and you allow them to offend, you are even in worse shape. You are surrendering your peace to a contentious person. You should be fit enough,spiritually that no one can offend you. One fellow said to me, "I don't really care if they like me or not. I like them!"
Another statement that goes right along with what we are talking about is, "You made me mad." What exactly does that mean: That I am your god and your happiness rests in my hands? Amazing! I didn’t know I had that kind of power over you! The fact is this. You surrendered your joy to my behavior and your misery is completely and utterly consented to by your will. You allowed yourself to get mad, and instead of wearing your weakness, it sounds better to your flesh to indicate that I did it. I didn’t do it. You did it, and you are the failure. Men say that their wives make them mad. No one can MAKE them anything. They choose to allow themselves to be mad. Stop being deceived, take the blame, and take charge of your own happiness. Well, Amen!
Wednesday, March 05, 2008 by Kristen
Buy a pup and your money will buy love unflinching.
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