Friday, February 29, 2008

Please, Please Me

I love simple. I am simple. Well, I think that's not true at all. I am pretty complicated and am quite skilled at complicating the most simple of things.

I'll start over. I can "appreciate" simple, and I love when God uses something in a very clear, concise way to get through to me and my complications.

I used to have a problem getting frustrated driving. I drive a lot for my job, and you just wonder what the DMV was doing when they issued liscences to some of you. (excuse me...some of "us").
Well, God put it on my heart then to just write the word "grace" on an index card and keep it in sight while I was driving. Whenever I would start getting "needled", the card reminded me of the grace God shows for me daily, and the need I have as a follower of Christ to show grace...daily.

God has been focusing me a lot lately on holiness...being "set apart". Frightening stuff that holds awesome potential. It is obviously a journey, so there is no condemnation...just conviction. I just need to keep pressing toward the mark.

Mary Ann has said something lately in different settings that has given me that "simple Holy Spirit reminder". Here it is: "God, are you pleased?" That gets at it, doesn't it?

God, does this please you?
Does this thought please you?
How about this action?
This it pleasing to you?
Do my motives please you, Father?

It is a powerful "check" from the Holy Spirit for me. As I walk with God, He reveals more of Himself to me; and I more readily recognize the prompting/nudging/conviction of the H.S. I just stop and ask, "God, are you pleased?" I know my Father always loves me, but is He pleased?

"As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who has called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written" 'Be holy, because I am holy'. [1 Peter 1:14-16]

"May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. [Hebrews 13:20-21]


Hebrews 11:6
Romans 12:1
Proverbs 15
1 Thessaloninas 4
2 Peter 3:11

Wednesday, February 27, 2008


I am getting on my soapbox again, so watch out! I was at Barnes & Noble today purchasing a few more copies of Tift Merritt's new cd, "Another Country". OK. Let's detour for a moment or two and discuss Tift's latest album. BUY IT! You'll love it.

Tift is my all-time favorite artist, and that is saying a lot since music is one of my passions. This cd, which was released Tuesday, is her best to date.I have listened to it at least 25-30 times since buying it. I have also purchased some for friends whom I know love Tift or the ones I think might like to be exposed to her creative genius!

OK. That's my commercial. Now, back to my soapbox. As I was looking for the cd's, I overheard 2 people discussing how they would "share" their music. One would buy cd "A" and make a copy for the other. Friend #2 would buy cd "B" and make a copy of that for the other. AUGGHHH! I just cannot stand it! That, my friends, is stealing...flat out stealing...unauthorized duplication...stealing.

I am well aware that there are legal ways to download music. Great! Enjoy! However, there is way too much downloading and "burning" being done illegally. This hurts the artist (don't you hurt Tift!), the record label, etc. I have heard the lame argument that "the record labels/artists are making so much money anyway..." or "I am just duplicating a cd SOMEONE ELSE paid for." How about, "Music is so expensive anyway".

Phooey! Hey! Milk is expensive, too. Do you sneak onto a dairy farm and slurp milk directly from a cow's udders? No! I imagine if you want milk, you buy it from a store. Then, everyone who had a hand in getting that milk to you, gets paid for it.

Gas is expensive. You don't wait for a Hess tanker to stop at a rest area, and then siphon gas into your car while the truck driver is in the restroom or buying a Snickers out of the vending machine.

I work for a clothing designer, and our clothes are not what you would call inexpensive. That doesn't mean it's OK to just go take some without paying. It wouldn't be long before I would be out of a job if nobody paid.

I'm just is one of the greatest gifts God has given us. It is just as wrong to steal music as it is to steal clothes, money...anything! Know the laws and please just be mindful not to take what is rightfully someone else's. Rock on, Tift!

By the by, yesterday was officially "TiftTuesday". Thanks for the card, Mary Ann! I'm still waiting on the Tiftini.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Make Some Trouble Over Me

"Trouble Over Me' is absolutely one of my favorite Tift Merritt songs. Speaking of Tift, her new album, "Another Country" hits stores this Tuesday. WOOHOO! Three awesome friends are giving me the gift of Tift LIVE! next month...they're even coming to the show with me.

We all like to have a little trouble made over us. Right? Yesterday was my 39th birthday, and Beth would have been proud of the trouble that was made over me. Beth was always so creative and amazing to me when it came to celebrating my birthdays. One of her rules of life was that everybody should have a fuss made over them on their birthday. Amen!

The anniversary of Beth's death is the day before my birthday, so my birthday will always be associated with that. Friday was grueling for me, and it is hard to switch emotional gears and try to "celebrate" my birthday. Well...yesterday, I didn't have to "try" to do anything. I had some amazing friends step up and make me feel like a gazillion bucks.

First, I had a great lunch at The Cheesecake Factory with Robert, Lynda, and Anja. We ate a lot (I still have some cheesecake); we laughed a lot; and they blessed me with some awesome gifts. I love them all so much. Beth loved them, too. She knew how genuine Robert and Lynda always were.

I was to meet Mary Ann, Dean, and Michele for dinner after church last night. I get to the church, and Dean and Mary Ann present me with the much coveted Tift Merritt concert ticket. Then, Dean and I head off. We end up at Firebirds at North Hills...walk inside...and there they were! Mary Ann had pulled off yet another surprise for my birthday, and had my buds there for dinner.

Dale and Bruce Gyongyos
Dean and Mary Ann Sibley
Craig Cantey
Michele Woodall
John and Marie Finlay
Jake Carpenter
Rick and Mary Ann Musser
Josh Cantey
Greg Teator
Dan and Erica Courtine
Ray Mills
Pete and Mary Zimmerman
I was blown away. Just blown away. It was so much fun, but there is so much more to it than that. I looked around those tables and saw person...just how richly God has blessed me. Friends that love me so much to not just put up with me, but to make the effort and come be with me. God loves me so much and put someone like Mary Ann in my life who would love me enough to organize all of that for me. For me.
It was just a glorious day, and I so appreciate all of the efforts of my friends. Beth would have been so proud of you, Mary Ann. Beth would have been so proud of all of my friends. Beth's wish for me yesterday would have been for someone to have "made a little trouble over me." You all did. My heart is full.

Friday, February 22, 2008

"What If"

Elizabeth Walker Knight Williams
June 22, 1970 - February 22, 2005
"What If"
by Reverend Jack Moore
What if Heaven is real
And to die is to gain?
What if Heaven is real
With no sorrow or pain?
What if Jesus was right
And His words ever true,
When He said, "I go
To prepare a place for you."
What if Heaven is real
With its streets of gold?
With its light and joy
And blessings untold?
What if the Psalmist was right
When he said God has a plan
Even before we were formed
And our life here began?
What if God placed a baby,
As He has before,
With a Christian couple
To love and adore?
In a home where she'd laugh,
In a home where she'd grow,
In a home where God's love
Bill and Martha Jean would show.
What if Beth
As a little girl one day,
Would draw three crosses
Then bow and pray...
I open my heart's door;
I receive you as Savior.
I receive you as Lord."
What if God would give Beth
A very best friend?
Her name would be Tara;
And she'd stay close to the end.
What if God would give Beth
A young knight, yes, a prince?
Who would cause her to smile,
To sing and to dance?
Who would love her the way
That Jesus said to.
He would ever be loyal,
And ever be true.
Then what if God looked down
On Beth's young life?
And said, "There's a place even better
In Paradise."
"I know it will be hard
For people to understand.
But My ways are much higher
Than the ways of man."
"Their hearts will be broken,
And filled with such pain.
But one day, my darling,
They will see you again."
"So, take heart, dear husband!
Dear parents and friends.
It's only the beginning
And not the end!"
"So Finish your course
And run your race.
For Beth and I will be waiting
In this wonderful place."

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

God is using some amazing people at Hope Community Church. Here is Debbie Dodson (left) and Mary Ann Sibley. 2 powerful women of God. 2 talented and ultra-creative forces. 2 passionate and compassionate friends. We are so blessed. Debbie is the Creative Arts and Drama Director (I'll call her the Creative Arts and Drama PASTOR), and Mary Ann is the Volunteer Ministries Director (I'll call her the Volunteer Ministries PASTOR). Praise God who annoints women such as these to lead in our churches and communities.
A good sense of humor counts for a lot. Both Debbie and Mary Ann reign in that department, and they are so good-natured about the back and forth ribbing. I just love to harp on Pastor Debbie about her "skits". (She despises that term...she prefers something like "vignettes". Isn't that the dressing you put on salads?) Hey! There is none better when it comes to excellence in drama.
If you know me and/or read this blog, you know how I feel about Pastor Mary Ann. With vision and concern, she blazes trails and leads in such an important role. She presses on and presses through as she walks with Christ and her family and friends. What a leader.
Debbie made my day today. So encouraging.
Mary Ann inspires me. What a blessing.
There are so many talented women at our church and churches across the world. Praise God! I'd follow these two anywhere. Who are the women that inspire you?

Thursday, February 14, 2008

My Forever Valentine:

If I had my life to live over again,
Next time I'd give you more kisses and hold you closer.
I'd notice more often the sunlight on your skin and the way your hair smells on a rainy day.
I'd memorize everything you ever said to me and carry it in my heart like a poem.
If I had my life to live over again,
Next time I'd find you sooner,
So I could love you longer,
And better,
And truer.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Billy Spears

Please don't get tired of me writing about Beth, but this month is the anniversary of her heart attack, subsequent hospital(s) stay and death. It consumes most of my thoughts this time of year, so that is what I write about.

That time in the hospitals was so awful. We never received any hopeful news; and I just watched as my lovely wife slipped away more every day. I am so thankful that I could be with her so much as the hospital regulations would allow. God most definitely provided His strength for me to make it through those weeks. God also sent someone to me during that time to help, as well.

Billy Spears is Beth's uncle. The relationship between Beth and Billy was not great for a while, but that is beside the point. When Billy heard about Beth's heart attack, he got on a plane from Mississippi and got here. The way he stepped up to help me, Beth's parents, and his wife Diane was remarkable.

He stayed in the ICU waiting room all night every night with me. He left his business to come sleep in a chair and watch over me. He protected me. He provided for me. He would listen to me. He comforted me. I could not see then, nor can I see now how I could have made it without Billy Spears.

I remember everyone trying to get me to eat, and I appreciate their sincere concern. Eating was just not a priority. I remember Billy pulling me aside and asking me "if I could eat a little something, what would it be?" He had guessed that I wasn't in the mood for hospital food. So, Billy heads out to Lone Star and comes back with this wonderful steak, baked potato, and salad. He sets me up in a private place in the hospital and I was able to eat a little.

God does amazing things for His children, and He uses amazing people to do those amazing things. Billy was sent by God, and I will never forget everything he did for me. I have not done a good job at all of keeping in touch with him, and that needs to change. Bottom line: Billy loved Beth. Beth loved Billy. God loves me so much to have blessed me with an amazing wife. God loves me so much to have blessed me with Billy.

You learn a lot about people during a crisis. Some things I learned about some people were not so great. However, Billy came through for me in a way I will never...never forget. Thank you, Billy Spears.

Saturday, February 9, 2008


"Well, God love ya." During my years of knowing Beth, that had to be her most frequently used expression. It was not a "Smile. God loves you" kind of thing, either. It was more like a "Well, God is going to have to love you, and help you, and do everything for you...because you have just proved that you have absolutley no ability to adequately function in this world." Now it was never mean-spirited; it was just truth. She used it just as often on herself. "Well, God love me!"

Today marks the 3-year anniversary of her heart attack. This time three years ago I was with her at WakeMed Cary trying to wrap my mind around what was happening to our lives.

Well, I don't have to ever try to wrap my mind around how much Beth meant to me. She was THE most incredible woman...THE most incredible person I have ever known. I miss her terribly.

I took some flowers out to the cemetery today and was able to sit for a while, enjoying the beautiful weather. As I was sitting underneath the tree, I started laughing at all of the great Beth-isms I could remember.

For instance:

"I'm gonna rip every hair out of your head!" - frequently said to me or one (or all) of the animals...whomever had just done something really stupid.

"Bless your heart!" - see "Well, God love ya." above

"Doin' so good I can't stand it!" - her answer when I would call her at work and ask her how her day was going. I could tell in her voice if she had someone in her office and was either correcting them or getting ready to fire them.

"God doesn't like ugly" or "That was ugly!" - said to me when I would get a good "dig" in at her or I would get her flustered.

"Why don't you try to act like you love me?" - said to me when I was unsuccessful in reading her mind. :)

Beth could always make me smile and make me laugh.

Ooops! I just spilled some wine on the carpet!

"Well, God love me!"

Friday, February 1, 2008

Eat Your Heart Out

I'm hungry. I know. That's nothing new at all. It is something new for this week, however. I have been awfully sick for the last few days...high fever, congestion, coughing, surly name it. I'm still not feeling great, but I am getting better, which means... Yep! Thinking about food. I am thinking about what I want to eat when I finally feel like eating again.


Grandma McDonald's vegetable beef soup and cornbread
Ruby's mashed potatoes
Beth's chicken sald or turkey/veggie/goat cheese wraps
Mom's corn fritters or macaroni salad
My father-in-law, Bill's Memphis-style ribs
Grandma Williams' fried chicken and cornbread
Mary Ann's fried rice
Dad's steaks...oh...and snow cream
My mother-in-law, Martha's tea cakes
Karen and Jeff's spaghetti and meatballs
Marlene's peanut brittle
My Aunt Diane's home cooked country meals
Shelby King's Divinity

While I was thinking about (more like dwelling upon) the anticipated return of my appetite, these are the foods that came to mind. They are all great eats for sure, but the common bond is truly all of the great memories that are attached to the food. A lot of people show their love through cooking, and I have been on the receiving end of some awesome food in my life...and love.

So...for my upcoming birthday, I'd like:

Grandma McDonald's vegetable beef soup and cornbread
Ruby's mashed potatoes
Beth's chicken salad or turkey/veggie/goat cheese wraps
Mom's corn fritters or macaroni salad
My father-in-law, Bill's Memphis-style ribs
Grandma Williams' fried chicken and cornbread
Mary Ann's fried rice
Dad's steaks...oh...and snow cream
My mother-in-law, Martha's tea cakes
Karen and Jeff's spaghetti and meatballs
Marlene's peanut brittle
My Aunt Diane's home cooked country meals
Shelby King's divinity

Well, you get the idea.
That's what I want.
All at once.
Where's my bib?