Archive for July, 2010

Hey strangers!  I finally have gotten a chance to email!  Things have been pretty unbelievable here.  I feel like my heart has expanded beyond what is humanly possible-haha!  I won’t go into too much detail about what’s been going on because it will take too long, but we have been great.  Our travels all went fairly smoothly, we arrived with all of our luggage (praise the Lord!), and we’re safe.  I can’t wait to tell you about what I’ve been experiencing; it’s been better than I ever could have imagined.  Luckily I’ve been really good about journaling everything so I won’t forget.

Earlier today I had a moment when I realized how much I missed everybody.  This team that I am with is absolutely amazing, but it got to me for a little while how I don’t have any connection back home here with me (I’ve only known these people for a couple of months!), but then we ate dinner together and I was totally restored again- some of these girls with me are incredible and already feel like my family.

I will tell you one thing about today- we had the opening ceremony for VBS today (for the parents and teachers) and there were maybe 300 kids there even though it wasn’t for them, and the moment we pulled into the gates of the school they started running from all over the place along side our bus, waving and smiling.  They mobbed us completely when we got off the bus, and I don’t think my heart has ever felt so full 🙂  We officially start the VBS tomorrow, so be praying for us!  We’re anticipating 2000-3000 kids! 

I better go, but I just wanted to send out a quick update.  I hope you are all doing well.

 Stephanie

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Thanks for supporting Stephanie financially.  She received all the needed funds, praise the Lord!  Keep praying for her and her team!

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The Painting

Posted: July 25, 2010 in Roots by the River

 

My life with Jim Cason has been a wonderful journey.  Like most men, he has a strong side and a sensitive side to his personality.  Little did I realize on that special day in May of 2005 he would touch my heart in a way that would bind our hearts deeper in love than I thought possible.

We own a business and work together which makes it possible to have lunch together most every day.  On this very special day, we finished our lunch and headed to the office, when Jim turned left toward town instead of right toward the office.  When I questioned where we were going, he said he had to run an errand.  I sat patiently wondering where he was going, only to end up in front of the art gallery owned by a very well known southern artist, Greg Cartmell.  We had done some work for him in the past and he and Jim had become friends.

I loved going to this gallery.  It was filled with paintings of landscapes and sunsets so full of color you felt like you were in the middle of a rainbow.  As I admired the art, Jim made his way to the back room where Greg was painting.  A few minutes went by and Jim called for me to join them.  Upon entering the room, I saw Greg sitting on his stool in front of this large canvas painting away.  I stepped slightly to the right to get a peak at the painting and began to cry.  It was the most beautiful wisteria I had ever seen painted.  But more than that it was a painting of my wisteria.

In the front yard of my grandparent’s home were two trees about 50 feet apart, an oak tree and a wisteria tree.  They had to be at least 200 years old because they were absolutely tremendous in size.  The trunk of the wisteria was about 30 feet wide with a latticework of vines as large as your leg, which spanned the 50-foot distance to the top of the oak tree 65 feet high. About half way up the wisteria was a vine, which hooked half way up the oak tree and formed a walkway from one tree to the other.  Hanging from the top of the wisteria were numerous vines large enough to use as Tarzan vines and small enough to hold on to.

As children, my cousins and I would climb up the outside of the wisteria about 30 feet to this opening in the latticework of vines, which I am sure was put there by God himself, onto the vine walkway, grab a Tarzan vine, let out the Tarzan yell, and swing ourselves off into the jungle.

No tire swing could have ever brought us such adventures as our beloved wisteria.

In the spring, to the girls, it was a princess castle, covered in thousands of purple flowers, with purple petals 2 inches deep on the ground beneath the vine walkway.  In the fall, to the boys, it was the perfect headquarters for commandos to plan their attack on the enemy.  In the summer, it was a cool place to rest under the shade of the foliage and in the winter, it was a reminder to be strong until spring.

 

As I wiped the tears away, I began to thank Jim for his thoughtfulness and Greg for his willingness to take time to paint a memory that will forever be with me.  The farm was sold and the developers who bought it cut down the oak and wisteria trees, but not before I got a cutting and rooted a tree of my own.  Greg’s painting is of the wisteria I rooted, and hangs in my office.

I found comfort as a child playing in, around and under that wisteria tree.  I can also find comfort in knowing my Father is preparing a place for me to spend eternity in joy and peace.

John 14:2-3 says, In my Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so I would have told you.  I go to prepare a place for you.  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself.

Dear Father, thank you for the earthly examples of your heavenly promises.

Ann Cason

6/2/2010

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Small Things

Posted: July 19, 2010 in Candle Lights

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One second is such a small thing, but a lot can happen in one second.  I was amazed when I read that a 1.8 GHz computer is performing 1.8 billion operations per second.  At sea level sound travels 340.29 meters per second.  Light travels 186,000 miles per second.  A football game can be won with one second left to play.  Seconds are small things that can make a big difference.

The small things that we do in service to the Lord can touch a heart and put a smile on a face.  My aunt and her little dog visit folks in a nursing home.  I love to hear about the things that happen on their visits.  I was especially touched when told that one of the ladies thanked my aunt for talking to her.  A few seconds of my aunt’s time made a difference to that lady.

The Bible speaks of a small thing that gives great comfort to the followers of Christ.  The blink of an eye is such a quick, small thing, but in the blink or twinkle of an eye (I Corinthians 15:52), the Lord will descend from heaven, the dead in Christ will rise, those still alive will be caught up, we will “meet the Lord in the air”, and forever we will be with Him (I Thessalonians 5:16-18).

We are not promised tomorrow or the next moment.  Our hearts can stop in an instant.  II Corinthians 6:2 states, “Now is the day of salvation.”  Don’t wait.

Diane Padgett 10/30/09

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Twenty-eighth in the series Get close to God

 When they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marvelled.  And they realized that they had been with Jesus.  (Acts 4:13)

Has there ever been someone in your life that you admired and respected so much you just had to be around them whenever possible?  Maybe it was an older sibling you looked up to, or an Aunt or Uncle that took a special interest in you.  In school, it could have been a teacher or professor. 

I remember a particular summer when my family made one of our annual treks from Chicago to Pensacola, Florida.  I got to spend some time with my cousin, John, in nearby Fort Walton Beach.  He was about 16 years old at the time, and even though I was just a few years younger, in kid’s years that was a BIG difference.  He could drive, pull a boat, pilot the boat, and catch fish!  I thought he was so cool, I wanted to be just like him.  His life seemed so adventurous to me.

Most of us didn’t learn our manners, skills, or trades on our own.  We were taught and mentored by our parents, relatives, friends, and business associates, weren’t we?  We spent a lot of time with these people, who influenced us and helped to shape our values as well as our abilities.

Today we have long distance learning, offering degrees and certifications on line, but most professions still require some type of apprenticeship or internship to become competent in their fields.  I certainly wouldn’t want to have open heart surgery performed on me by someone who had only read how to do the procedure!

Mark recorded that Jesus appointed twelve disciples “so that they would be with Him and that He could send them out to preach.”  According to Wikipedia, the term disciple is derived from the New Testament Greek word “μαθητής”, coming to English by way of the Latin discipulus, meaning, “a learner”.  The word disciple is used in English generally to mean “follower” or “pupil.”  What a privilege it must have been to be one of those chosen to live and learn from the Master himself every day for three years!

How do people get trained to spot counterfeit money?  By spending a lot of time in front of real money, feeling the texture and carefully studying the print quality.

You can usually tell when someone is genuine or just trying to impress, can’t you?  The same thing applies to being a Christ follower.  We can do our best to imitate great Christians we know, or even try to be like Jesus, but as soon as someone pushes our buttons or becomes too much trouble, our true nature comes to the surface and exposes us as cheap imitations, or even worse, hypocrites.  That’s because living a pure and holy life, and putting others first does not come natural to us and never will.  We can only learn this from cultivating a relationship with Christ, who not only will show us how it’s done, but will work it out through us.  How is this accomplished?  Let’s take a look at how Paul explained it in Colossians 1:29:

“I labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within me.”

When we willingly supply our time, hands, and feet, God does some really cool supernatural things through us that we could never do on our own.  He even works on our attitudes.  I remember the first time I was asked to lead a small group at our church.  It required more than just facilitating a Bible study.  I was supposed to actually care for those people.  Well, I didn’t really like people back then, much less care for them.  But as soon as I agreed to do it, a love that I never felt before came over me for those in my group.  I actually wanted to know how they were doing and found myself praying for them!  This probably was a result of getting on my knees for wisdom since I knew I wasn’t qualified for the job.

If you are wondering how to get close to God, then you and I will become friends very quickly, because that is my deepest passion these days.  I strongly believe that if we can get properly connected to the Father, most sermons preached today would not be necessary and people would have fewer regrets.  I haven’t figured it all out yet, far from it, but I have learned a few things since I started this quest three years ago.  I’ve covered this in greater detail in previous posts, but it pretty much boils down to time spent reading the Word and good spiritual books, starting your day resting and waiting on the Lord, praying and singing to him throughout the day, and hanging out with other Christians who will stand by you and encourage you.  Memorizing scripture and speaking it out loud whenever you get a chance will also help.  These are not easy disciplines to maintain, and I’m not as consistent as I would like to be, but they are well worth the effort. 

We tend to become like the people we hang out with.  Our moods and demeanor are also affected.  People can make us laugh or cry, encourage or discourage us.  They can bring out the best or worst in us, which is another reason to become a good friend with the Lord Jesus.  This is why David could say in Psalm 16:8:

“I have set the Lord continually before me; because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.  Therefore my heart is glad.”

If our daily planner includes time with the Lord, our faces probably won’t glow like Moses’ did when he returned from his appointments with God, but people will notice that something is different about us.  Wouldn’t it be cool if they realized that we have been with Jesus?

 

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Click here for the entire Get Close to God series

I highly recommend visiting Charleston;  it has something for everyone-history, good food, and waves to surf.  It was especially nice since Brian and Susan booked the townhouse and served as our tour guides for the week!

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