October 28, 2010

Support Dr. Mick Zais for State Superintendent of Education

If you live in South Carolina, make sure you vote for Dr. Zais next Tuesday!

Not only is he the father of one my best friends, Ashley Zais Harper, but he is extremely qualified for the job and would be an amazing asset to the state.

A letter from Senator Lindsey Graham:

Dear Friend,

I have traveled across the country and throughout South Carolina the past several months campaigning for Republicans who could help take our state and nation in a new direction.

I believe one of our best and most qualified candidates is Dr. Mick Zais - candidate for South Carolina State Superintendent of Education.

Mick is a retired general, a former college president, and perhaps most importantly, a former classroom teacher.

Mick is ready to reform education by providing safe and clean schools with strong classroom discipline, directing resources to the classroom and away from the bureaucracy, and empowering teachers and parents.

With the election next Tuesday, Mick needs our help immediately.

Mick's opponent, a former Clinton administration official, is well funded due to his deep roots in Washington and his access to wealthy out-of-state donors.

But I am confident that Mick's campaign will be successful because the parents, teachers, and taxpayers of South Carolina are fed up with the status quo in education.

The choice in candidates could not be clearer:

Mick Zais has been a classroom teacher.

His opponent has not.

Mick Zais has led a school and turned it around.

His opponent has not.

The education challenges we face in South Carolina have been around for many years: a high school on-time graduation rate that needs significant improvement, classrooms that are severely lacking in discipline, and taxpayer dollars wasted in bloated bureaucracies. These challenges make it difficult to train a highly skilled workforce that will attract industry and put South Carolinians back to work.

We can change this dynamic if we elect leaders with integrity, principles, and the fortitude to do what's right. And that is why we all need to step up to help elect Mick Zais.

I know Mick will apply the leadership and organizational skills that have contributed to his success in the military and higher education to the problems that plague our elementary, middle, and high schools. The job will be demanding, but Mick has never shied away from hard work. And with your support, I know he can get the job done.

Mick can win next Tuesday, but he needs your support now in order to share his message with even more South Carolina voters before Election Day. Won't you please join me in making a contribution to Mick's campaign today?

South Carolina's school children deserve the best we can offer them. I believe strongly that Dr. Mick Zais is the right leader and candidate for the job.

Please remember to vote next Tuesday.

Yours very truly,

Lindsey Graham

October 26, 2010

Full Circle

I am often questioned by people about how I like living in DC/how the people are here/is the city intimidating. I always respond by assuring them that the best thing about this "northern" city are all the southerners here and the folks that understand true friendship and live together, work together and play together.

Please take a moment to read Laine's post in Sweetwater Tales about one of my friendships here that has been through it all! I'm so thankful for her and everything she has meant to me. I'm looking forward to many more years of friendship!

October 24, 2010

It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!

Fall is in the air so what is there to do besides carve pumpkins and hold a viewing of, "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!" The Ladies of A Street were gracious enough to host the carving and a good time was had by all!

Friends and knives...

We also celebrated Jordan's birthday!

Everyone's favorite couple...

oops...I meant to put "Everyone's favorite couple" HERE!
Carolyn did a great job of planning the surprise!


Politically themed pumpkins.
L to R: GOP elephant, FIRE PELOSI, Bob Watts (future Gov. of GA),
Judy and Trudy's GOP elephant, fiscal responsibility, and Lady Liberty

Brother and Sister

Anddddd...the party is not complete unless someone gets "antiqued."
True friendship in this photo.

October 20, 2010

My Best Friend's Wedding

My best friend got married last weekend! I addressed her birthday card with her new last name and already changed it in my phone. The whole weekend was fun and a perfect reflection of Mary Jane and Greg.

Since a picture is worth a thousand words, I will attempt to recreate the weekend
with photos and captions.

The bridesmaid's luncheon was held on Friday at the Fairview Inn in Jackson.
This is the "Mississippi Girl"picture
Constance, Kimberly, Mary Jane, me, Jordan (and Baby Peanut), Rhymes, Sara Tyson

My mom made the wedding cake cookies. They were fantastic!

Matrons, Bride and Maid
Lizzie, Sara Tyson, Mary Jane, me
My three best friends!

So many years of friendship

The rehearsal dinner was held at Plantation Commons in Madison.
Constance, Sara Tyson, MJ and I have grown up together at First Pres and all went
to Ole Miss together.

Kern and me

Exquisite bride

My sister!

The older I get and the more weddings I am in the more I am able to grasp the true gravity of what a wedding means.

Les Newsom, my RUF campus minister, performed the homily. He read from Revelation and discussed the end times. Take a moment to see the passage here. This may seem odd to do at a wedding, but he explained that a wedding points to the end times—where God is united with his BRIDE, the CHURCH. He told Mary Jane that the reason we are all drawn to her beauty is because we hope that someone would love us and see as beautiful too. The glorious truth is that someone does. And that someone is the Creator of the Universe. The most important person that could possibly care for us. And he knows everything about us—our thoughts and actions—past, present, and future. And he rejoices in us. Marriage is meant to point us to this ultimate reality.

As I stood next to Mary Jane and Greg juggling two bouquets and trying not to drop Greg’s ring, I could not help but cry! At the reception, a friend asked me what was wrong with my eye. I replied, “Oh…I was crying!” It was such a surreal moment to watch a friend that you have gone through almost every growing pain with commit the rest of her life to someone.

Another highlight of the weekend was that Ginny Owens sang at the wedding. If you have never listed to Ginny, I recommend downloading some her albums! She sang “Be Thou My Vision.” The song was even more meaningful because Ginny has been blind her entire life.

Time for a quick touch up!

The reception was held at The Cedars--an art museum in Fondren. It was a perfect venue--half indoors and half outdoors.

Mary Jane and Greg and the groom's cake!

Outdoors at The Cedars with Kern

Liz and Hunter Maynard

My Mama and me

The garter was hard to find...but Greg persevered.


Off to Cancun!

Thought to ponder

One of the aspects of my job that I love is the opportunity to work with students with intellectual disabilities. Congressman Harper's son, Livingston, has Fragile X syndrome. Congressman Harper is responsible for starting a Capitol Hill internship program for students with intellectual disabilities. It has been a huge success and our office has grown and learned so much from the students we have had through the program.

I have copied an excerpt from FPC's First Epistle by Steph Hubach, the PCA's Coordinator for Special Needs Ministries, entitled "Special Needs: We all have them." She does an excellent job of bridging the gap (that really doesn't exist) that people sometimes perceive between themselves and individuals with intellectual disabilities.

"In our Christian life, we all have struggle with focus. And it often stems from focusing on the wrong things. You've probably seen the image before. It is a black and white optical illusion that reveals two totally different pictures depending on where you focus. If your eyes focus one way, you will see a vase. If they focus another way, you will see the silhouettes of two faces pointed towards each other. It all depends on your perspective. Both images are real-but only one can be the focus of the viewer.

In a similar way, our perspective on others in the body of Christ will impact what we see in them. When you focus on another individual, do you tend to see their deficits or do you tend to focus on their competencies? More often than not, we tend to view people-especially people with disabilities-from the orientation of what they cannot do. This view comes, in part, from an unbiblical worldview of disability-and therefore an inaccurate view of not only others, but also of us. The Bible teaches us that disability in the broadest sense (physical, emotional, and spiritual) is a normal part of life in an abnormal world. Brokenness occurs across a spectrum-in differences of degree for each of us-in every area of life. None of us exists in a state of complete and utter brokenness on every level. None of us exists in a state of complete and utter blessing or "wholeness" on any level. Disability is a normal part of living in a world where there is a complicated mix of the blessedness of creation and the brokenness of the fall. All of us need encouragement and supports to deal with our limitations and to build on our strengths.

Now, think about the grace of God for a moment. When the Father looks at us, does he focus on our inadequacies, or does His gaze focus only on the ultimate, beautiful competency of Christ alone on our behalf? God knows what our deficits are more fully than we do-but instead of condemning us for our inabilities He supplied the supports we needed to be successful in a relationship with Him-the perfect sacrifice of His Son, and His perfect life lived on our behalf. Can we do any less? How can we be any less than intentional about sacrificially making the Gospel-the good news of the coming of the Kingdom-accessible to all, in word and deed?

In addition, not only do we all struggle with perspective when we look at the disabilities and abilities of ourselves and of others-we also all struggle, at times, with having a sense of perspective on God's purposes in our lives too.

"By interacting with people with intellectual disabilites, we are..."

  • Learning to see people with disabilities through a biblical lens, and thereby seeing ourselves more accurately as a result.

  • Learning to view our life's circumstances through God's eyes, and thereby fully embracing the life that was always in His plan for us-even if it was never in ours.

  • Learning to make the Gospel-the good news of the coming of the Kingdom-accessible to all of us-in word and deed.

What great lessons for all of us in every situation and every relationship."

What a great lesson! Certainly something I need to be reminded of on a daily basis.

October 19, 2010

Baby Yeti

Kern sent this to me this morning--probably the cutest thing I have seen in a while! I want a puppy so badly...but my apartment does not lend itself to dog raising. I have to live vicariously through youtube and petting other people's dogs...

So...enjoy this cute puppy!

October 13, 2010

The Tapestry

God is the weaver
of an eternal plan.
He is blending us into
the grand design.

Like brilliant threads
in a tapestry,
Lives are combined to
form one family.

Who can unravel
threads already in place?
Or trace them back
to their original space?

We must learn what we
can and think it not odd--
That you and I
together are in
the plan of God!

Marcia Penn - 1999

My mom wrote this poem over 10 years ago. She and I are both very picture oriented and love to draw parallels between physical items and thoughts. I often think about the "Tapestry" that is my life and when I feel frustrated it comforts me to know that I can only view the back of it, while God can see the end result from the front side! The knots that tie off one stage may look ugly from the back, but from the front they end at the exact right point to make the picture look perfect. 

In Romans 8:28 we are promised: "...that for those who love God all things work together for good." 

Instead of being angry at God when my life doesn't seem to work out exactly how I want it to, I am thankful that He knows the bigger picture and trust that he is orchestrating all of the events that take place in my life to work together for my greater good.

October 10, 2010

The Wisdom of C.S. Lewis

"When I have learnt to love God better than my earthly dearest,
I shall love my earthly dearest better than I do now."
C.S. Lewis

What a high call. But what a TRUE statement. God commands that we love him first, foremost, and best. Our relationship with him should be our first concern...because when it is, we are free to love others--with their imperfections and issues. If we are striving to love others through our own power, it can only go so far because we are limited creatures. We will run out of steam, become too tired, and naturally want to focus on ourselves and our own problems. However, when we encounter Christ's unconditional love and are renewed by his grace and comforted in our problems by his mercy, we are then able to face the world (and our loved ones) with renewed eyes. We are able to love them for THEM and not for what they can do for us. It is true freedom. True freedom from Christ.

So how does one do this? It takes time and a commitment to your relationship with Christ. Just like an earthly relationship, you must spend time with the other person, and you must be willing to spend time with the Lord--reading his word (learning more about Him) and praying. It's not meant to be mechanical and forced, but rather enjoyed--just like coffee with a friend. It may seem odd at first, but the more often you do it, the more natural it becomes. (See my previous posting: duty, desire and delight).

God desires that we would have powerful, meaningful and connected relationships with others on this earth. He made us to desire that and it is a good thing. Relationships with others is often how we see more of him--through the care of a friend and spending time with them. These relationships are meant to mirror his love to us--and that is a beautiful thing!

October 06, 2010

From the First Epistle

My home church in Jackson has a weekly newsletter that I often find encouraging and uplifting. I would like to share some of this week's message from the "Pastor's Perspective" section. My pastor pulls a good amount of commentary from J.C. Ryle:

"This past Sunday, looking at Luke 13:6-17, and especially at the story of the woman "who had had a disabling spirit for eighteen years" and who was "bent over and could not fully straighten herself" (Luke 13:11) and yet who was faithfully coming to worship Sabbath after Sabbath. I love what J.C. Ryle says about her:

"We see in these verses a striking example of diligence in the use of means of grace. We are told of a "woman which had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bowed together, and could not straighten up." We know not who this woman was. Our Lord's saying that she was "a daughter of Abraham," would lead us to infer that she was a true believer. But her name and history are hidden from us. This only we know, that when Jesus was "teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath," this woman was there. Sickness was no excuse with her for tarrying from God's house. In spite of suffering and infirmity, she found her way to the place where the day and the word of God were honored, and where the people of God met together. And truly she was blessed in her deed! She found a rich reward for all her pains. She came sorrowing, and went home rejoicing.

"The conduct of this suffering Jewess may well put to shame many a strong and healthy professing Christian. How many in the full enjoyment of bodily vigor, allow the most frivolous excuses to keep them away from the house of God! How many are constantly spending the whole Sunday in idleness, pleasure-seeking, or business, and scoffing and sneering at those who "keep the Sabbath holy!" How many think it a great matter if they attend the public worship of God once on Sunday, and regard a second attendance as a needless excess of zeal akin to fanaticism! How many find religious services a weariness while they attend them, and feel relieved when they are over! How few know anything of David's spirit, when he said, "I was glad when they said to me, Let us go into the house of the Lord." "How lovely are your tabernacles, O Lord of Hosts!" (Psalm 122:1; Psalm 84:1.)

"Now what is the explanation of all this? What is the reason why so few are like the woman of whom we read this day? The answer to these questions is short and simple. The most have no heart for God's service. They have no delight in God's presence or God's day. "The carnal mind is enmity against God." The moment a man's heart is converted, these pretended difficulties about attending public worship vanish away. The new heart finds no trouble in keeping the Sabbath holy. Where there is a will there is always a way.

"Let us never forget that our feelings about Sundays are sure tests of the state of our souls. The man who can find no pleasure in giving God one day in the week, is manifestly unfit for heaven. Heaven itself is nothing but an eternal Sabbath. If we cannot enjoy a few hours in God's service once a week in this world, it is plain that we could not enjoy an eternity in His service in the world to come. Happy are those who walk in the steps of her of whom we read today! They shall find Christ and a blessing while they live, and Christ and glory when they die."

That was a hard page for me to read in some ways. It is convicting to think about how sometimes church can tend to be something to "check off" your to-do list for the week. That's not to say that forcing yourself to go even if you don't feel like is bad. "Duty, desire, delight" is a three-word phrase that often reminds me that if I will do something I don't feel like doing (duty) for the Lord, he will often turns my desires towards that thing and then I will delight in it. God is so good. He built us and knows that we are MADE to WORSHIP him and that we will be happiest and most whole when we are doing just that.

October 05, 2010

Useful Tips

Did you know that your mobile phone can actually be a life saver or an emergency tool for survival?

Check out the things that you can do with it:

FIRST (Emergency)

The Emergency Number worldwide for Mobile is 112. If you find yourself out of the coverage area of your mobile network and there is an Emergency, dial 112 and the mobile will search any existing network to establish the emergency number for you, and interestingly, this number 112 can be dialed even if the keypad is locked. Try it out.

SECOND (Locked Keys in Car)

Have you ever locked your keys in the car? Does your car have remote keyless entry?

If you lock your keys in the car and the spare keys are at home, call someone at home on their cell phone from your cell phone. Hold your cell phone about a foot from your car door and have the person at your home press the unlock button, holding it near the mobile phone on their end. Your car will unlock.

THIRD (Hidden Battery Power)

Imagine your cell battery is very low. To activate, press the keys *3370#. Your cell phone will restart with this reserve and the instrument will show a 50% increase in battery. This reserve will get charged when you charge your cell phone next time.

FOURTH (How to disable a STOLEN mobile phone

To check your Mobile phone's serial number, key in the following Digits on your phone: *#06#. A 15-digit code will appear on the screen. This number is unique to your handset. Write it down and keep it somewhere safe.

If your phone is stolen, you can call your service provider and give them this code. They will then be able to block your handset so even if the thief changes the SIM card, your phone will be totally useless. You probably won't get your phone back, but at least you know that whoever stole it can't use/sell it either. If everybody does this, there would be no point in people stealing mobile phones.

FIFTH (Free Directory Service for Cells)

Cell phone companies are charging us $1.00 to $1.75 or more for 411 information calls when they don't have to. Most of us do not carry a telephone directory in our vehicle, which makes this situation even more of a problem. When you need to use the 411 information option, simply dial:
(800) FREE411 or (800) 373-3411 without incurring any charge at all.

October 01, 2010

The Wisdom of Jefferson

There are many wise and wonderful quotes from Thomas Jefferson, one of our founding fathers, but this one surpasses them all:

“I had rather be shut up in a very modest cottage with my books, my family and a few old friends, dining on simple bacon, and letting the world roll on as it liked, than to occupy the most splendid post, which any human power can give.”

The only addition I would make is COFFEE. Coffee is the catalyst of many good conversations!

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