No!!! Not the Piggy!!

Many of us celebrated Thanksgiving last week. One of my favorite memories of Thanksgivings was in 2013, our granddaughter was 3 years old and at our house, it is a tradition to go around the table before we eat and say what we are thankful for. We always start from youngest and go to the oldest. I don’t remember what our granddaughters were thankful for, but as we sat around the table filled with Turkey, Ham, and all the fix’ins, I do remember what happened when our then, 17-year-old son shared what he was thankful for, with his shoulders held back, sitting up as straight as he could, he proudly stated  “I am thankful for the Pig that gave his life for our dinner” at that moment our 3-year-old granddaughter screamed to the top of her lungs in a high pitched tone of great despair ” NO! Not the Piggy!!!” and proceeded to get down from the table and refuse to eat the meal. We still laugh about that to this day.

This year we were blessed that our daughter came home from college and wanted to cook the majority of the meal. It isn’t her first time cooking a turkey, she has lots of experience in the kitchen and of course, it was fantastic. In the weeks before Thanksgiving Amy and I had been talking on the phone discussing what would be on the menu. We even created a spreadsheet and sent it out to the rest of the family asking if there was anything they wanted we had forgotten to list.

Each year, it seems our family talks about how we are going to cut back and not have as much food as we did the year before. You see when it comes to cooking and entertaining I am afraid my daughter is as bad as I am, we just don’t know what the word moderation means. Cooking and entertaining is our love language, it is a way we express our love to others. Setting the table is an art to us. With each plate that is set and napkin place in the napkin ring is an act of love of us. We ended up serving 13 people our Thanksgiving Day meal and I am embarrassed to say we had 23 items on our menu, that included appetizers and desserts. After the meal was all over Amy and I was discussing yet again, how next year we need to cut back. Amy made the statement ” I think when God hears us say we are going to cut back on the food we serve, He laughs at us” We both agreed that is probably true. Because by the time we make the menu then other members of the family want some of their holiday favorites and guest bring food and it just grows from there.

You know, all this got me thinking….  So many times we make plans and dream dreams only to be disappointed later when what we plan doesn’t come to past.  What we do when these disappointments happen tells a lot about who we trust.  The Bible tells us in Proverbs 19:21 that “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.”  My dad use to say “plan as if you are going to live forever but live as if you could die tomorrow”.  Just because God has plans for us doesn’t mean we sit back and do nothing. God wants us to live our lives but at the same time, we need to make daily choices in our lives that reflect what God would want us to do so when He does come back we are ready to go back to heaven with Him.  The way we make those daily choices that reflect Him is by making those choices according to what God’s word says. When we live our lives like that then when God comes back to take His children Home to Heaven, He will be happy to. See when things, don’t go the way we plan we have to trust that God has a better plan. Jeremiah 29:11 tells us that God knows the plans He has for us and they are for good and not to harm. Granted there are somethings we can never plan for, the lost of a loved one, the unexpected pregnancy, an illness that can’t be explained or that person that won’t call you back and you just don’t know why. But when those things happen we have to remember to trust the one who made us and know that He is in control and He loves us so much He will bring good out of what seems like it is bad if we will continue to follow what His word says, even when our plans don’t come to pass.  So God may be laughing at the idea that Amy and I  will ever cut back our menu, but that is only because He has plans to use that for His glory the key for Amy and I is to listen to what He wants to do through us as we show His love. So what will you do next time your plans don’t happen just the way you want? Who will you trust?

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CRAZY LOVE

CRAZY LOVE

Bob and Sondra Cave, Overland Park KS

Do you see these two people? I like to joke that this is the perfect example that just because you have an education does not mean you have any common sense. I can say that because these two people have been some of our closest friends for over 20 years. They know I would defend them in an instant if anyone said anything bad about them.  You know, it is kind of like your siblings you can think they are crazy but no one else better talk about them, kind of thing.

You may be asking why I question the sanity of these two perfectly normal looking people.  (Ok! almost normal looking)  Well, these two people with doctoral degrees take this 1972 VW campmobile (also known as a Westy in the automobile world), that has already been to the Yukon and South America before they bought it, now they take this already well used and loved vehicle across the country themselves. They have made their way across the country from Kansas to California, with their most recent adventure that took them from Kansas to Albuquerque, New Mexico for the Balloon Festival. Every time they get in this campmobile they affectionately call “The Beast,” I get on my knees in prayer for them.  I remember when they first got this vehicle, after seeing it on the internet.  Bob flew out to Canada to pick it up, thinking he would drive it home.  However, after having it carefully checked out, it was deemed that it was not road worthy enough to make it back to Kansas.  He met his wife Sondra, who flew into Seattle, and they towed it back here to Kansas behind a U-Haul Truck.  All along the way they stopped each night and slept in “The Beast” at Walmart parking lots. This was just the beginning of their VW adventure and collection.  They now own five VW’s of different models and styles.

Needless to say on these adventures “The Beast” has broken down on them a few times. Bob says he has: adjusted the valves, repaired gas leaks, the alternator, and replaced the brakes. There also was the one time the oil filter fell off and all the oil drained out while he was driving to Woodston, Kansas and he ended up needing to replace the engine altogether.

It’s a good thing they have the highest coverage possible with AAA Auto Insurance because they have had to be towed five times in the 5 years he has owned it. Now if most of us owned a vehicle with this many problems, we would have sold it and moved on, but not Bob and Sondra!

Now mind you, this couple is completely financially capable of owning pretty much any vehicle they want. They could afford to fly, almost anywhere in the world and stay in nice hotels that would even serve them room service. But do they choose to do this for these special trips they take? NO! They avoid all that silly security of knowing they will get there safely and staying in nice comfortable hotel rooms with soft mattresses preferring to sleep in “The Beast,” in a Wal-mart parking lot somewhere along the way, without heat or air. They set out knowing something is probably going to break down on this thing and because of their love for adventure and these VW’s they jump in the Westy and go! If you ask me, it is just crazy! Just a crazy kind of love!

You know this got me thinking….. this isn’t the only crazy kind of love I’ve seen in my life. Since I was born I have been told about this Guy who could buy anything, and stay anywhere He wanted. There was nothing that He could not afford. But His father who owns everything asked Him to leave the optimum lifestyle where He had no worries or concerns and go to a world where He would have problem after problem, the breakdowns in communication with these people would be astronomical for His survival. But yet He chose to go. He was so crazy in love with these people He knew the only way for them to survive would be for Him to die so maybe, then they would realize how much He loved them.  He left His perfect world knowing something would go wrong but yet He was willing to go anyway.

If you haven’t figured out by now this Guy I am talking about is named Jesus and He is so crazy in love with you that He came from heaven to earth to make a way for you to one day to join Him in heaven. The questions is, have you recognized just what He gave up for you?  Do you realize He did it all for you?  He is crazy in love with you. Do you know that? The Bible says that “For God so loved the world that He gave His only son, so whoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16) That is how much the Creator of the Universe loves you! You know there is no greater love than this, John 15:13 tells us that “Greater love has no one: than to lay down one’s life for one’s friend.” I know many reading this, if asked would say “God is my friend.” So if that is the case let me ask you a question. “Have you laid your life down for Him?” Several times in this column over the past year, we have talked about denying or dying to ourselves. What that really means is laying down our life, our will, our way and saying “Lord use me, and do with me what you want because I am yours”. Let me tell you that is the craziest kind of love. But the Bible tells us that is what is required of us if we are going to be His friend and after all if He gave up so much for us. Can’t we give our all to Him? Yes, it is a crazy kind of love to leave what we deem the security of being in control of our own life and giving it over to Christ. It is a crazy kind of love that He would continue to pursue people that have rejected and denied Him time and time again. But He did it for us and out of gratitude and appreciation for what He has done for us we need to do the same for Him. Won’t you give your life to Him today? If you don’t know this crazy kind of love, I want to encourage you to find a local Bible believing church and get involved and begin to really get to know what God has done for you today. Christ’s love doesn’t make any sense, that is why we have to accept it by faith. It is just a crazy kind of Love.

 

 

Getting to Heaven is no Popularity Contest!

Getting to Heaven is no Popularity Contest!

Nov 7th was election day. I questioned if there is even was an election because I couldn’t remember if I had seen anything anywhere around town about it.  I almost didn’t even go vote, but then saw a few of my friends post on Facebook they had voted.  I decided to do my duty as an American citizen and honor the right that I have to make a difference in my community.

As I entered the building I was greeted by the nice ladies there, it wasn’t busy at all and in fact, they looked a little bored. I showed my license and signed my name, was handed a ballot and proceeded to the voting box. As I looked over the ballot, I saw there was the nominees for Hospital Board, School Board, and City Council Members, elections

But what I didn’t see was many names that I recognized. I mean I have heard of a few but considering this was an election and typically people who want you to vote for them make it a point to go out of there way to make sure you know what they believe and what they will be standing for as they represent you.  I had no recollection of any of that. In fact, it hit me, as I stood there looking at the ballot, that I hadn’t seen a sign anywhere in town or any articles in the paper from candidates promising to do anything or standing for anything or for that matter even saying they were running.

Now I understand this is a small town and as I did further research I found that in most cases there was barely enough willing to serve the positions so I guess because of the lack of competition they didn’t feel they needed to campaign.

But all this got me thinking……. What if we lived our life, the way these people campaigned? I  guess what I am asking here is, what do people know about your life? Do they know you are a follower or Christ? I mean besides the fact they know you”go” to church? Is your life, and how you conduct your business, as well as how, you treat others an example of what God would do?

Because I am thinking that if we live our lives for Christ like these people campaigned for these positions we are in trouble. See, I couldn’t vote for most of these positions because I didn’t know the people running for them. Oh! I might have heard their name, I might have even met them once or twice but I didn’t know what these people stood for, what their hopes and dreams for this city were? In fact, to me, without that knowledge, it seemed more like a popularity contest instead of an actual election.

Of course, for some of those being elected, it didn’t matter if they had one vote or a hundred. there was no one running against them so they were a shoe-in. Well,  Let me tell you something, it isn’t about a popularity contest to get to heaven and there is no shoe-ins to get there.

The bible says that there is only one way to heaven.  John 14:6 (NKJV) Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. That means, going to Heaven doesn’t just happen because your name is on the membership list at the church.  Salvation only comes from surrendering your life to Christ. Then once, we give our lives to Christ, God calls us as His disciples to 15 …….“Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. Mark 16:15 (NKJV) You don’t have to be a graduate of a seminary to preach. Your very life is a sermon the only question is. What is it saying?

Your very life is a sermon the only question is, What is it saying?

 

When we are silent about our faith in Christ, and our lives don’t reflex Him. Then we have missed the very opportunity that God created us for. All too often we just fail to even show up, to what God has called us to do and we miss the honor of serving Him. Our community needs more people that will get involved and serve the local positions here because I am sure there is plenty that complains, but most are unwilling to serve. But just like serving as an elected official, we have an obligation as followers of Christ,  but not to the audience of the some 770 people that live here in Greensburg. Our only audience is for one. Jesus Christ, the funny thing is, when we really live for Him, then everyone is gonna notice because that means you are different than the world. So the question is, is your life, a living campaign for Jesus? Because if people don’t know what you stand for you are probably need to reconsider who you are working for, Christ or yourself?  God expects us to “Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” Matt 5:16 (ESV)

I wasn’t aware of what these candidates wanted to do for this community, but we all need to makes sure that those around us can see the love of Christ in us. Because it isn’t a popularity contest to get to heaven and there are no shoe-ins to get there either. We must show up and show out God’s love if we are true followers of Christ. Because that is the most important campaign we will ever participate in,  and we are all running in that election but, thankfully if we follow God’s word we all get elected!

 

 

 

 

Life isn’t a game but Alabama football is.

If you know anything about my family you know, there is only one sport as far as we are concerned. Seriously, I didn’t even realize the World Series was going on and I hate to admit it but, I missed last years too. The last time I watch a World Series was when the Royals was in it and well, of course, it was only because the Royals was in it.

I mean it is football season for goodness sakes, why is anyone playing baseball? But if you know my family you know it isn’t just any football team that we love. No, we only focus on one team, a team that has been supported by the Miller family for generations. The only football team that we pull for is the University of Alabama. My husband was born and raised there, and in Alabama, there is really only 2 teams and the love for them does not co-exist in one household, you are either a fan of Auburn or Alabama and to love one is to hate the other. It has been said that there is no greater rival between 2 teams than Alabama and Auburn.  So, needless to say, this Kansas born girl, knew that I too would have to love Alabama football when I married into this family. Our children were raised to love the team too! When they were little we would ask them “What does the dog say?” and they would bark like a dog. Then we would ask “What the cat say? and they would meow like a cat. Then we would ask “What does the elephant say” and they would yell “Roll Tide!” We have continued this tradition with the grands as well.

When the boys lived at home, they would sit around the television, with their dad each weekend,  watching the game. Following the game, my husband would pick up the phone and call his dad, where they would debate about the game, play by play. They would discuss how each player could have been played better. This was a bonding moment for Jeff and his father. Two years ago when Jeff’s dad passed away that all changed. Since our boys don’t live at home anymore, they have continued the tradition, although they may not be watching with dad in the same room we know they are sitting around a TV somewhere watching the game, and after the game, the phone will ring and now, Jeff the patriarch of the family, gives the advice and together they debate the games.

So, with the boys out of the house, I have now had to become Jeff’s game watching partner. Now don’t get me wrong. I don’t mind it. But honestly, I never really have understood it all. I mean I get the basic’s, There is a ball, and some guys on the field and they run back and forth on the field and when they get the ball in their end zone they get some points, I get that. Although I do have to say when Jeff and I started dating, I played a little trick on him, He told me that he played football at his High School. So I asked, all innocently and with a twinkle in my eye “Does your team make a lot of home runs? ”  Jeff, looked at me shocked, unsure if I was serious or not and replied “Yeah”.  I am certain he walked away wondering ” What he had gotten himself into?” Well, I have come a long way since then. I know a little more now. So with the boys gone, I am have learned I kind of enjoy watching the sportscasters during the week discussing the stats for the games. See I am no longer the snack hostess for the big game day, as I was so many years when the boys were home and they had their game day. No, now I have moved into a full-fledged spectator and Jeff has learned to make his own cheese dip.

Another thing that I have realized that I enjoy is listening to the Nick Saban when he is interviewed by the press. See, Alabama being undefeated is No. 1 in both the AP and Coaches polls, and most recently was ranked No.2 in the college football rankings. In an interview last week on ESPN, he told the press, “I could care less about the poll,” Saban added “You won’t see me waste any time watching TV or who is 1 and who is 2. It doesn’t really matter. What really matters is how you play the rest of the season.”

 Those comments got me thinking………..Wouldn’t it be nice, if all the people who claim to follow Christ felt the same way?   What if they gave up worrying about the opinions of others. All too often as a follower of Christ but an inhabitant of this world, we get way to caught up in worrying about what other people think.
See, what I like about Nick is that he isn’t looking around him to see what the other coaches are trying to do so he can copy them and he doesn’t want his players listening to the comments about how good the team is. He recently compared the positive comments that the press was saying about the team, to rat poison.  See, Nick wants his team to stay focused on what is ahead, he knows this season isn’t over yet and if they get distracted they may miss something they need to do to defeat the next team. I believe what Saban wants from his team is for them to play 100% every game. You know, one of the things that I love about the tradition of Alabama football is they want to be the best and they expect the team to give 150% for the whole 90 or so minutes of that game every week. They expect the best and if they don’t get it, you won’t be playing on that team. What if we had that kind of commitment to God, What if we gave Him our all. What if we quit worrying about what everyone else is doing, saying and expecting of us and we just focused on His word and His will? See cause the truth is if we aren’t giving Him 150% then the truth is we really aren’t playing on God’s Team. The Bible tells us that “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other….. ” Matt 6:24 And you know what verse 25 says, .”…do not worry….”. So how about we stop worrying about what others think, and we just live for God. Let’s give Him our all with what little time we have left in this game we call life because in the end it really isn’t a game so we need to get it right now and following Jesus is the only right way to live.
Christ Our Sure Ground On Sinking Sand

Christ Our Sure Ground On Sinking Sand

Recently I was visiting my son’s and daughter-in-law’s home and while there, I was able to take the grands (grandchildren) to the park and play. Our youngest is about 19 months old and let me tell you he is one of our greatest prize possession. Perhaps it has to do with the fact he is our only grandson or the fact that he is named after not only his father but his grandfather and his great-great-great-grandfather. We love all our grands but this one is special in his own way just as the others are.

While at the park we ended up playing on one of those giant playsets. You know the kind with 3 or 4 slides, a set of monkey bars, some tunnels to play in and a bridge to walk across, this one even had ladders and a ramp to help the kids get on it. The whole thing was set in a giant pit of this soft rubber stuff, almost like ground up tires, but under it must have been sand because for this little toddler of ours who is already unsure on his feet, made it even tougher for him to walk on this mushy foundation.

So, as you can imagine I was right by his side the whole time. Because of course, he didn’t want Mimi to hold him. No, this little guy thought he could do it all by himself. He wanted to walk on his own, refusing to stay in the safety of Mimi’s arms. I also didn’t want to stray too far away from him because this park was extremely busy. There must have been several hundred people there that day so I didn’t want to get too far away for fear our little guy might disappear in the crowd.

He walked around on the unsteady, mushy ground, wobbling from side to side, as I followed just a step behind, there to catch him just in case he fell. Then he decided he wanted to get on this massive playset and be just like the other kids. Of course, because of the magnitude of this playset, compare to the small size of our little guy, and surrounded by this immense crowd, it was almost as if he couldn’t comprehend what the potential to play here was. So, I lifted him up to put him on the walkway, and guided him across the bridge, staying just a step ahead of him. I now on the ground and he above me, I called for him to take the next step and then another. He, slightly overwhelmed by the massiveness of his surroundings, unsure of just where to begin in this expansive play set. I put my hand between the rails that kept him from falling off the bridge just above me, patting the walkway calling, “Come on, walk toward Mimi”, Then he still unsure of his surrounding, would take a step or two, I would then move ahead again and called for him to take the next step. Time after time until he crossed the bridge and reached the other side.

As I called for our little guy to take step after step, it was as if God whispered in my ear. “See this is what I do for you”.  Suddenly, I saw that like this little guy, we are loved and adored by our Savior. A prized possession of the Creator of the Universe and although we are on this earth of unsure and mushy ground. We have a Protector who watches over us and is always right there in case we fall. The God of the universe who has been in our tomorrow and knows what we need before we even see it, sees the massiveness of the world around us, compared to our small size of this cosmos, He does not leave us alone, but He is our very present help in time of trouble. (Read Psalms 46) He walks beside us and leads us every step of the way if we will only follow Him when He calls.

It doesn’t matter how big the problems we face ours. He is there for us always watching, always guiding us. The question is, do we listen, do we hear His voice in the immense crowds around us. Are we listening to the still small voice calling us saying “Come on, follow me”? When this world just seems like it is too much to take in when we feel like we don’t know which direction to go and what to do next. Do we rely on the one who cares for us more than any other? Do we trust that He can see what we have even yet to comprehend?

I believe God wants to be our provider and protector but all too often we push Him away wanting to do it our way. We see His ways, that originated out of love and care for us, we see them as more of a hindrance, a penalty or punishment because it isn’t what we want. So instead of seeing the directions that God has provided to protect us, we resist them because we don’t like them. All the while forgetting that He knows what we don’t and we can trust Him.

Thankfully, our little fellow didn’t resist me and turn and run as I called him, but he followed me when I called. I believe God is wanting us to follow Him as well. He has designed a plan called His word and He asks us to follow it because He designed it with us in mind. Everything in it He wrote to protect and provide for us. So, don’t resist it today. Trust that the creator has seen the bigger picture of your life and adores you so much He cared enough to leave this book to guide and direct you. Trust Him! Deny yourself and Follow Him! Because life isn’t a playground, you only get one chance. Do it right and follow Christ, He is waiting for you!