Celebrating Independence Day

brosi wedding 243_edited  Our freedom was bought with a price.

Whether we are speaking of being a free citizen of the United States of America, or being free from the wages of sin, someone paid the price for our freedom.

If one person tries to silence the thoughts and convictions of another, they have instantly nullified freedom on both ends.  To ask another person to abandon their personal belief system and their moral compass because they are not popular or make one person (or group) is self defeating.  To force one person to abandon their personal convictions in order to serve the desires of another is the beginning of the end of freedom.

Let us not take lightly the price that was paid  in blood by those who loved us and our nation enough to risk and/or lay down their lives for us.  Let us never forget the sacrifice that Christ made for us that we could be free from sin.

Thank you, FATHER GOD, that we can be free because of Your great love for us and Christ’s sacrifice on the cross for us.

Thank you VETERANS for loving your country and cherishing this nation’s freedoms enough to risk your lives in order to assure our freedom.

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Birthdays – Queen of Ordinary – December 4, 2014

How time flies!  Today is my birthday and I can hardly believe I’m this age.  I blinked, it seems, and decades vanished.  It has been a good year, although there is always a balance of happy and sad, good and bad, challenges and victories.  It is the beginning of a new phase in my life and I can’t wait to see what God has in store in the next few years of my life.

I am thankful to have had the life I was given.  It hasn’t turned out the way I had hoped it would YET, but I’ve had plenty of wonderful people in my life through the years, great family, good friends, and interesting experiences.

Since I’m still here, I can only assume that God isn’t finished with me yet.  What is my destiny?  Why am I here in this time and this place?  What business do I have yet undone?

I believe there are still adventures and opportunities ahead that will surprise me.  Life has a way of doing that to us.

I have learned a few things in my years, but there is so much left to learn.  I have loved many people, but there are many more to love..  I have tried to serve God with all of my heart since I was a child, but there is more of my heart to give and more ways I can serve.  I have dreamed many dreams and had them come to pass, but I have probably never dreamed big enough.  I have been judgmental at times, but never as tough on anyone else as I am on myself.  I’ve had some successes, but I am daily reminded of my shortcomings. I am not rich in money, but I am rich in people.

I have tried to be good, but I know that my goodness is not what counts.  As humans we are all flawed and imperfect creatures.  We can never be good enough under our own efforts alone.

It is the goodness of God, His love, His mercy, His purpose, His design for my future, His paths that are most important to me in this life.  At the end of my days, when no more birthdays are waiting for me on this side of heaven, I hope to hear God say, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”  That new day, that birthday in eternity will be the best ever.

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Wood Carvings at St. John’s Cathedral – Oban, Scotland – Queen of Ordinary – November 23, 2014

DSCN6488  St. John’s Cathedral – Oban, Scotland

St. John’s Cathedral was a beautiful church we visited in Oban, Scotland.  I was struck by the many beautiful carvings at the ends of pews, on seats, on podiums and throughout the church.

How do you know when artistry is at work?  Take something practical and functional, then add incredible detail that doesn’t improve the practicality of the thing, but makes it more aesthetically pleasing and you will see artistry at work through the hands of the one who created it.  Below are some carvings on pews and woodwork we found in this church in Oban, Scotland.

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The intricate carvings in the woodwork were amazing.  They were not necessary by any means, but certainly added beauty, and allowed the artists creative expression in their work.  It is as if the person carving the wood turned each opportunity into a thing of beauty and gave it as an offering unto God.

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Our lives are like these pieces of wood when they were still only lumber.  We can live them out of necessity.  We can exist from day to day and get done what must be done, plain and simple.  Or we can choose to take care of the intricate details of living, and let the Master designer create His images in us to be works of beauty that reflect His attention to detail and His delight in us through the process.  If we all started as a piece of timber side by side, each one of us would turn out differently in the hands of the artist.  I am reminded of a poem I heard many years ago that expresses one person’s influence on another person’s life

I Love You by Roy Croft

I love you, not only for what you are, but for what I am when I am with you. I love you, not only for what you have made of yourself, but for what you are making of me. I love you, for the part of me that you bring out. I love you, for putting your hand into my heaped-up heart, and passing over all the foolish, weak things that you can’t help dimly seeing there, and for drawing out, into the light, all the beautiful belongings that no one else had looked quite far enough to find. I love you, because you are helping me to make of the lumber of my life, not a tavern, but a temple. Out of the works of my every day, not a reproach, but a song. I love you, because you have done more than any creed could have done to make me good, and more than any fate could have done to make me happy. You have done it without a touch, without a word, without a sign. You have done it by being yourself. Perhaps that is what being a friend means, after all.

The Abbeys of Ireland, Scotland, and Wales – Queen of Ordinary – November 17, 2014

DSCN5209DSCN5214 DSCN5215  The abbeys of Ireland, Scotland, and Wales are amazing.

Even though most of them are now in ruins, the beauty of design, the layout of the structures and the locations compared to the lay of the land are stunning.  Some are more memories than reality, and some are still in tact, but most are somewhere in between.

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I could only imagine what these places were like in their full glory days.  I was fascinated with the stone work, the precision, the beauty, and the endurance of these structures that are hundreds of years old.  The fact that this incredibly beautiful places were built and consecrated to those in ministry who had given their lives to serve God says something about the value set on relationship with God in that time frame.

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Most of these ancient abbeys are currently under historic protection and the grounds are maintained through government programs.  In these photos were The Abbey at Cong, Creevelea, Kylemore, Dryburgh, Jedburgh, and Melrose.  The buildings may be crumbling, but the sense of being in a holy place is still very strong.  But then maybe the buildings put is in such a reverent frame of mind that we were more acutely aware of the Spirit of God within us.

To God Be the Glory – Queen of Ordinary – November 8, 2014

DSCN6683  Jedburgh Abbey, Scotland DSCN6663

Jedburgh Abbey is said to be one of the great abbeys of Scotland.  It was built in the border country in the Medieval Ages.  There are many abbey ruins across Scotland, Wales, and Ireland.  All were built with the same basic thing in mind – to bring God glory.

The precision of the rocks that were cut and the way they fit together so perfectly is a mystery to me, knowing that those who did the building had primitive tools.  They created these gorgeous structures to house monastic settlements and train those who professed a calling to live and serve as a monk.  Those who did the cutting, those who did the building, the monks who studied and trained there, and every hand involved in these elaborate stone structures were done with doing something for God.

Perhaps like me, you have stood at the foot of the cross, wanting to have a precious gift to give and feeling as if you had nothing to offer God.  What can we give to the bring glory to God?  We lay down our lives in different ways and offer up what we have.   Perhaps we try to bring God glory through athletic ability, singing, words, teaching, and any other personal abilities.

We get to choose whether we will try to live a life that brings us all the glory or to live a life that brings God the glory.  Just as this medieval structure was planned, implemented, and designed to be a thing of beauty, so are our lives.  When we are willing to put God first in our lives, we truly are giving Him the glory He deserves from us.

Spiritual Dreams and Their Relevance Today – Queen of Ordinary – November 7, 2014

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Glendaloch Monastic Settlement – Ireland

Have you ever had a dream that haunted you for years?  Have you ever dreamed anything in such vivid color and specific detail that you knew it was significant the moment you woke up?

In our Appalachian culture, dreams are still considered significant.  Not all dreams have a message or deeper meaning, but I am convinced that some definitely do.  I believe that all people probably have dreams in the course of their lifetime that are for warning, instruction, or revelation, but not all people take them seriously.

I saw the tower above in a dream that I will share in this post over THIRTY years ago, but the dream remained with me and vivid ever since.  It has often replayed in my head like a giant movie screen, reminding me of the instructions it held.

The Bible actually has a lot to say about dreams.

Acts 2:17 “‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams.”

Amos 3:7 “For the Lord God does nothing without revealing his secret to his servants the prophets.”

There is Beauty in the Art of Every Culture – Queen of Ordinary – November 4, 2014

IMG_2314 Taken in a shop in Wales

Every culture is represented by the art created by the artists of the day.  On our recent journey across four Celtic nations, there was an incredible display of ancient art, medieval art, and modern art.  The diversity of creativity was bound together by the common thread of mankind making an effort to express some human idea of things beautiful.

I didn’t even look at the price tag on the particular  piece photographed above.  Isn’t it a good thing that photographs are free?  In keeping with the marvelous stone creations, this lion’s head has the look of stones stacked to create this lovely representation of a lion’s head.

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At one point I was so overwhelmed with the beauty of the land, the scenery, the people, and the ocean that I felt as if God was smiling on our little band of travelers who had come to see His artwork in the diversity of nature.  I had the image of a child who has created something they believe to be amazing, running to share it with a proud parent.  Except in the reality, it was our Creator, pleased to share the beauty of His creation with us and very pleased that we were experiencing such joy at the work of His hands.

God’s artistic expression doesn’t stop with vast oceans, towering mountains, cloud speckled skies, or majestic evergreens.  The Bible says that WE are His workmanship, created in His image.  Mankind with all of our diversity and imperfections are part of God’s creative expression in the Earth.

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Queen of Ordinary Reflects on Fear – June 12, 2014

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I’ve been with my grandchildren for a couple of days and they are fearless.  It takes someone on their toes constantly to keep these little ones out of harm’s way.  They are constantly exploring, climbing, and searching out the world around them.  At least one adult has to be engaged in watching them full time.

This little colt is one born in the wild.  When I approached the herd in my vehicle, the older horses eyed me suspiciously and kept a safe distance.  This little fellow wasn’t the least bit afraid of anything.  His mother was constantly following him, cutting him off, whinnying at him, and calling him back to her side.  If he didn’t come, she came to him.  I tried to shoo him away from the car because I could tell it made her nervous, but he had absolutely no fear.

When do we lose our natural instinct to trust and let fear take over?  Hunger?  Poopy diapers?  Scrapes and boo boos?  Angry voices?

I have never understood why some people seem to delight in feeding their fears.  I absolutely refuse to watch scary movies.  I don’t read murder mysteries, demonic, or violent themed literature.  Why would opening the door for fear to come in and abide with me be a good thing?

I have enough fears already and wish I could be free of all of them without adding more.  The list of human fears goes on and on.  Fear of death, fear of aging, fear of being alone, fear of not having enough money, fear of being found out, fear of being single, fear of growing old alone, fear of sickness, fear of losing a job.  There are so many fears, many of them have impressive names, hydrophobia, arachnophobia, etc.

I found the following quotes from http://www.whatchristianswanttoknow to be interesting:

“Fear is born of Satan, and if we would only take time to think a moment we would see that everything Satan says is founded upon a falsehood.” ~ A. B. Simpson

“Faith, which is trust, and fear are opposite poles. If a man has the one, he can scarcely have the other in vigorous operation. He that has his trust set upon God does not need to dread anything except the weakening or the paralyzing of that trust.” ~ Alexander MacLaren 

“Fear is the response of the human heart when its one thing is threatened.” ~ Augustine

“No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear.”  ~ C.S. Lewis

“Worry is a cycle of inefficient thoughts whirling around a center of fear.” ~ Corrie Ten Boom

“God incarnate is the end of fear and the heart that realizes that He is in the midst… will be quiet in the middle of alarm.” ~ F.B. Meyer

What does the Bible say about fear?   Quite a lot actually.  There is only one desirable fear – the fear of God – which includes awe, accountability, honor, worship, and respect.

Here are some Bible verses:

Psalms 27:1 The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?

Psalms 56:3-4 When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me?

2 Timothy 1:7 (KJV) For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

1 John 4:18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.

My advice is this:  Don’t feed your fears.  Don’t open doors in your life for fear to come in and dwell in your house or your mind.  When fear does creep in, put your trust in God and fear can not stay.

 

 

 

 

Queen of Ordinary Asks, “What is your destiny?” – June 6, 2014

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Someone I love very dearly is celebrating a birthday.  I found a baby picture and took a trip down memory lane.

I don’t believe any child is an accident.  I do believe every child is born full of potential and with a destiny and a purpose that God has before them if they choose to accept it.

God never violates our will.  We can choose to follow Him and let him fulfill that destiny through us, or we can do our own thing and go our own way.

That is truly a gift from God – that we get to choose.

Even when people make bad choices, God can and will redeem the time if they will turn to Him and ask Him to.  The God who created us, who has a destiny for us, does not give up on us.  He sees the good in us.  He sees His purpose in us.

Every birthday that we celebrate should be a reminder of who we are, where we are, how much time has passed, and if we are allowing God’s purpose and destiny to work in our lives.

Happy Birthday little one!  I love you very much, but God will always love you more!

 

 

Queen of Ordinary Thanks God for Old Time Religion – June 5, 2014

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I remember sitting on wooden pews in church as a child – without cushions, carpets, or P.A. systems.  God was just as near, Jesus as precious, and salvation as sweet without all of our modern comforts.

People came to church for different reasons then, as they do now.  Back then people came because they truly wanted to be saved and serve God.  Young men came to get a look and see if there were any pretty “good girls.”  Young women came, sometimes hoping that a good-looking boy would show up searching for her and have a true salvation experience.  Church was a center of the community where whole families came into the house of God to worship Him and to learn about him.  It was also a place where the Word of God was taken for the truth, and the standard by which Christians were to frame their lives.

Church these days may still have those qualities, but often it is a place for “social networking.”  Young people try it out because they are bored with what they already have and are looking for something new.  Families come because they need all the help they can get trying to stay together.  But many churches have dummied down.  They’ve whitewashed sin and watered down the Word of God so they can be more socially acceptable and be seen as politically correct and tolerant.

The truth of the Bible is still there.  The Word of God hasn’t changed, even if man’s interpretation has.  The presence of God is still awesome, even though most churches don’t expect Him to show up.  The Power of God is still life changing, even though many Christians fear any power that is greater than their own will.  The gift of God’s Son, Jesus Christ, is still the avenue of salvation.  The message of God’s love still transforms lives.

Sometimes I think the modern church has forgotten what Matthew 18:20 is really saying.  “If two or three are gathered together in MY NAME, there I am in the midst of them.”  Church is where we gather in His name – whether on dirt floors, wooden pews, in the jungle, or in glass cathedrals.

I am as spoiled as the next person with air conditioning, technology, and padded seats, but there is a big part of me that truly misses the days of wooden pews and “that old time religion.”