Category Archives: Just Thoughts

A Year of Firsts

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Mark and I have lots of requests to revive this blog, but our life has become so incredibly full, there just don’t seem to be enough hours in the day to sustain another project. However, today, I find myself with some time as I’m confined at home with a respiratory infection and also, the nature of the day compels me to write a bit.

This year began rather strangely — just a couple of weeks after the birth of our 5th grandchild in late January, I was called to Texas to help with my Mother, who was in the hospital wth a laundry list of serious health concerns. She was in and out of ICU and my sisters needed more help to stay with her at the hospital. My first trip down, I had five days with her and she was in pretty good spirits, all things considered. Mentally she was quite sharp and we reminisced about many things. She also asked about each member of our family in Kansas — needing a person-by-person report. Since she lived up here in Andover on two different occasions, she also knows a lot of people at NewSpring and asked about each of them as well.

Mother had many friends and relatives who came to visit. One afternoon, she had 23 visitors in the waiting room. We had to divide into groups and go into her room in shifts. In addition to the time with my Mother, I got to visit with aunts and cousins I hadn’t seen in years. At the end of the five days, I returned home to take up my responsibilities at the church, thinking she would be dismissed after a week in rehab, but got called again a few days later as she was re admitted to ICU and my sister was taken ill, so I needed to fill in for her.

It was during the second trip (only 3 days) that Mother became convinced she was dying. We talked very frankly about it and she assured me she was ready to go. Having said that, the doctors kept assuring us that she was not at end of life, so I left on a Friday to resume responsibilities only to get a message that next Tuesday that she was gone. She was almost 91 years old and I don’t think we left anything unsaid, but I would have hugged her a little tighter if I had know it was the last time.

She died in March and when her birthday came in April, it was sad, but I tried to imagine her celebrating in Heaven with my Dad who moved to Heaven back in 2010. In May, when Mother’s Day came around, I realized she was reunited with her Mama and they were so close in this life, I’m sure it was a sweet time for them. I did find myself wanting to rewind and redo some Mother’s Days that I didn’t express my love as I would have wanted to. Regret is a hard condition because there is no remedy.

Today is my birthday and there has never been a year that Mother didn’t call and wish me Happy Birthday. As a mom myself, I would share with her that I always think of her on my birthday as she was such an integral part of that experience! I also know that she remembers that day WAY better than I do. She has shared the story with me many times so that I can almost envision what it was like for her. Of course, I have NO memory of that day, but without my Mother’s love to take on number 4 with an already crowded family, I wouldn’t be here. I truly owe her my life. Just 12 years later, she could have legally disposed of me. She wouldn’t have of course, but she had just gone through long months taking care of my older sister through a life-threatening disease and she had a full house with a limited budget. I’m quite sure I was inconvenient. I remember someone telling me once what a burden I had been as a baby — bad timing, cried all the time, etc. When my mother heard of it, she was LIVID! She said she asked God for each one of her children and she very much wanted me. I would hope that all mothers express such love and acceptance to their children no matter what the circumstance.

Perhaps the most sobering thing about this year is the awareness that Mark and I have entered a new season of life. It seems like just yesterday, we were bringing our babies home from the hospital, but now it’s our grand babies going home in the arms of our grown children. Of our four parents, only one is still living. Those sandwich years are almost over, then we become the top slice of the bread instead of the peanut butter in the middle. It all happened so fast! And, why is it that busy days consume lives faster than newspaper in the fire?

Mark and I have often discussed the seasons of our life together and since we were just children when we met and lived in the same area before that, I’m so glad we can walk pretty much all the way down memory lane together. We smile and shed tears as we remember all the amazing things God has let us experience and we shed tears over the regrets of opportunities missed, even though God is so faithful to redeem our mess-ups. God is SO good to us!

Our goal in this new season is to be thankful every day and apply God’s wisdom very carefully as the days left are short.

Remember your Creator while you are young, before the days of trouble come and the years when you say, “I find no pleasure in them.” Ecclesiastes 12:1

“How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone.” James 4:14

“Teach us to realize the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom.” Psalm 90:12

The Thanksgiving Police

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Mark and I were out for a little walk yesterday and as we usually do, we had music playing to help us keep a good pace. We hadn’t gone far before we saw a lady coming toward us on the opposite side of the street. As she came up almost parallel to us, she shouted something that I couldn’t quite make out, so I asked Mark to repeat it for me. He said, “She said it isn’t even Thanksgiving yet!” Read More

Getting in gear

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I’m still enjoying my reflections on a wonderful Thanksgiving celebration. All of our family was able to be together here at our house for turkey and last Monday I was able to briefly visit with my parents in Texas as well. I am so thankful for the blessing of family and the love we share.

Now that Christmas season is upon us, we’re gearing up for the next big holiday. Although my decorating skills leave much to be desired, I’ve tried to set aside my insecurities and start getting our Christmas decorations up. One of my struggles though is that at my age time flies by so fast that it seems like I just finish getting everthing in place when it’s time to take it all down again!

I am really looking forward to the new message series that starts this week.  Mark usually shares his thoughts with me, so I get some great previews of what’s coming. I also got to see the stage decorations as they were going up during the week. It’s amazing! Dale Poore and his team always manage to top their last project with more creative genius!

I’m also excited to get back with my Starting Point groups after our break for Thanksgiving. I get to know so many people through SP and I love that!

Who Am I?

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Have you ever awakened from a deep sleep and felt the need to ask the nearest person what your name was? Although I haven’t been sleeping deeply (thanks to a head cold), I have been spinning with excitement over all things going on in my life and I’m a little dizzy.

What does it take to make me dizzy? Some major milestone events, lots of new friends, a family holiday and a head cold.

Our Discovery Reception on November 16 was absolutely packed with over 100 people attending. We had to abandon our usual arrangement of beautifully decorated tables and set up rows of chairs, which were all taken and we had to add more during the morning.

Last weekend, four new Starting Point groups launched (which is a record for number of new groups beginning on one weekend). I am leading two of the four and it is a thrill to get to know all of the group members and hear their stories. I love taking the Starting Point journey again with brand new friends!

I’m thrilled that last weekend we had almost 3,100 people at NewSpring, although we are now facing some serious logistical challenges. Everyone in the 11 o’clock service was so kind to move in close and help everyone find a seat. The traffic is also a challenge as we dismiss the 9:30 service and welcome those coming to the 11 o’clock service.

After a couple of days of long staff meetings, we prepared for company to arrive at our house for the holiday. Jonathan, Wendy & Cheyenne arrived on Wednesday and I’ve had so much fun cooking with and playing with Cheyenne. Of course everyone else was great to visit with as well, but being Nana is the most fun!

I hope everyone has had a lovely Thanksgiving and returns safely home from their travels. We have such an exciting future together here at NewSpring!

Mary Alice

My List

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With Thanksgiving coming up this week, I’m reminded of many things I’m thankful for:

  • I’m not trying to pack and move over the holiday weekend like we did last year
  • All of our family is planning to be together for the holiday
  • All of our family is safe and healthy and we are looking forward to the newest additions to be added in 2009 — one by birth and one by marriage
  • I have met MANY new friends at NewSpring during the last 12 months
  • Over 100 people came to Discovery last Sunday
  • 43 people are signed up to begin Starting Point this weekend
  • Most of all, I’m thankful for the wonderful memories of the past, the delicious blessings of the present and the indescribable future life God has in store for me along with all those in His family

I pray that each of you will have a wonderful Thanksgiving!!

What in the world’s going on?

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This morning about 5:00, I started watching the news. I checked out the cable news channels, surfed over to CNBC for a little business to see what went on overseas during the night, and sure enough, it wasn’t long before I got the obligatory sour stomach.  Do you get the idea that the talking heads (experts in their minds) don’t have a clue?  I was told, years ago, that all you have to do to be an expert, is travel three-hundred miles away from home and carry a fancy leather briefcase. Today you only need to get yourself on cable news and yell louder than the other experts.

No kidding, though. I get the feeling that the media types who are trying to explain it all to Joe the Plumber are foggier than we are.  On one channel I caught this expert selling the idea that Iran is really our friend. That behind all that death to America rhetoric and nuclear proliferation, they’re really crazy about the USA, and can’t wait to sit down and discuss with us how to help create a stable Iraq. He added that despite the saber rattling, Iran was just fine with Israel. How about a verse of Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

If that’s not enough to get you woozy, check out the expert spinmeisters weighing in on what a McCain or Obama administration would look like.  If I were a betting man, with all the craziness going on, I’d bet not even McCain or Obama know what their administrations are going to look like.

What’ll really get you talking to yourself is watching business news. Bulls and bears have been replaced by calves in hailstorms. The expert guys and gals stare into the camera and give us their opinions, but being a longtime communicator, I recognize that look. It says, I don’t have the foggiest notion what’s going to happen, but the camera is on me and I have to say something.

After about a half-hour of that, I came up for air, and went into the living room where Mary Alice was working on tonight’s talk.  For the last few weeks at Powerlines, (Bible discussion that she and I host Wednesday nights at 6:30) we’ve been looking at prophecy and things that are going to happen at the end of this age.  Tonight, we’re planning a discussion on the last battle, Armegeddon, and the millennial reign of Jesus on the earth.  Heavy but extremely exciting stuff!

Juxtaposing my news surfing against what she had been doing recalibrated my thinking. I’d been listening to people, who although smart, really have no idea what’s going to happen. Mary Alice was reading the Word of Someone who not only KNOWS what’s going to happen but CONTROLS outcomes!  Suddenly I remembered the words of a very old song, one of the first my dad taught me.  The chorus goes like this:

Many things, about the future
I don’t seem to understand
But I know who holds tomorrow
And I know who holds my hand

Mark

Current Events

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As Americans, our future looks very precarious at best in these days of financial disaster, war and spiritual bankruptcy. I hope each Christian will pray fervently for God to guide our leaders — whoever they might be. I also hope that each Christian will carefully consider the issues of today in light of God’s Word as they participate in choosing our leaders for the future. I was recently asked about how to choose a leader as I consider the upcoming election. It was startling to me in that discussion that not only was the matter of faith and conscience considered low on the list for evaluating a candidate, but integrity also seemed to be easily traded for the promise of personal prosperity. We have sunk very low here in the USA. Many times lately I’ve felt a little bit like George Bailey in the popular Christmas Movie, It’s A Wonderful Life. Remember when George is stumbling through “Pottersville,” shocked at the moral decline of his beloved hometown? It was just a bad dream for him, but for us today it is reality.
At Powerlines on Wednesday nights, we’ve been talking about end time events and I want to share a link to an interesting article that was posted today by Joel Rosenberg.
Whatever our future may be here in the United States, I hope we will be found faithful about our Master’s work in these last days.

Things to be excited about

By | Just Thoughts, Message Series, NewSpring | One Comment

There are so many things that have happened over the last several weeks that I’m excited about! Every week at NewSpring we are hearing from people that have prayed to receive Christ during one of our weekend services. In the last four weeks alone, 34 people have prayed to receive Christ! Just since our amazing Watermark service on August 24, a total of fifty-five people have accepted Christ! And that only includes those who have responded in the main services and doesn’t include any decisions made in KidzWorld, Project 628, or Clayhouse. 

It has been amazing to see God work with such great power in people’s lives during the Pillow Talk series. Mark has received many, many emails, phone calls, and personal messages describing how God has and is using this series to change lives and restore marriages. If you missed one of the messages, you can watch it online.

Don’t miss the upcoming series Running which begins this weekend. If you didn’t have an opportunity to see the promotional video last weekend, check it out! 

God is busy doing amazing things and I’ve so excited to have a front row seat! For many years I heard stories about God miraculously changing hearts and lives — usually in a far away country. Meeting so many people here at NewSpring especially over the last three or four years, I’ve discovered that the same God is at work right here in Wichita, Kansas! That reminds me of a song title from some years back, God Is Still Doing Great Things!

During this time of great uncertainty in our country and in our world, I’m so glad that my confidence is not tied to any political party or brokerage firm. My confidence is in a God who is holding the world in place and overseeing all the affairs of man — who never changes, but is always up-to-date — who knows the future and is not nervous about any election outcome — I could go on and on and on — Isn’t God Awesome!!

One more note: Be sure to pick up mini invites for Judgement House and email the link to all your friends and family to get online and make their reservation.

I Like New!

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Now, don’t get me wrong, I treasure my heritage and I’m thrilled to look back on all the wonderful things God has done for me. I can be very sentimental about my memories. When Mark and I visit Texas, one of our favorite things to do is drive by the houses we lived in during our childhood, we go by houses where my grandparents lived, churches and schools we attended and even shopping areas in the “old” part of town. All of these places bring back treasured memories but we don’t live there anymore. We aren’t children anymore, we’re grandparents! … and we’re busy making new memories for us and for our children and grandchildren. God was so faithful and good to us in the past, but I’m glad our God is a God of the future as well. He has such wonderful plans for today and tomorrow and I’m anxious to be in the here and now, with an eye toward the future. If we fail to think about the future, we will fail. After all, this life we are living is just an investment in eternity — that’s where we will spend the “bulk” of our existence.

As a matter of fact, we are commanded to “set our sights” on Heaven — our future.

Colossians 3:1-3
Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand. 2 Think about the things of heaven, not the things of earth.

Heaven is what we are talking about on Wednesday evenings at Powerlines. Join us next Wednesday, September 24 at 6:30 in the East Building and our discussion will include a special guest from Scotland.

Have you ever heard the phrase “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” ? I came across that just recently and it really made me stop and think about the logic of that oft-quoted mantra. It might sound reasonable when we are struggling to learn a new process that seems to take more time and effort temporarily, but what if we go back and apply that to all those “new fixes” that we now enjoy every day.

For example…

My legs get me where I need to go just fine… why do I need wheels?
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it..

I enjoy hauling water to our house from the creek nearby. It works for us to use that water for cooking, cleaning, and bathing and we’ve always had an outhouse – it works just fine… why do we need indoor plumbing?
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it..

I love the glow of oil lamps in our house… why do I need electricity?
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it..

My mother taught me how to dip our clothes into these tubs for washing and it’s so much fun to use the wringer… I think my clothes smell extra fresh hanging on the line outside… why would I want an automatic washer and dryer?
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it..

My mother gave me this cast iron manual typewriter, it works just fine… why do I need a computer?
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it..

My rotary telephone works just fine… why do I need one with buttons… and I surely don’t need a phone to carry with me!
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it..

My vinyl records have all my favorite songs and they work just fine, why would I want to use CD’s?
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it..

I love shopping for stationery and writing long letters to my friends. They don’t mind waiting a few days to hear from me – that’s so special and it works great. Why would I want to use email?
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it..

Maybe since Mark and I have been talking so much about Heaven lately, I was thinking about those who don’t like change … don’t like new. It may be a difficult adjustment in Heaven, because God has announced to us about our future….

Revelation 21:5
And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!” And then he said to me, “Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true.”

Which brings me back to….. I Like New!!

Ready for School?

By | Family, Just Thoughts, Message Series, NewSpring, Next Step | 2 Comments

This summer is almost gone — not the hot weather, but summer vacation. Our youngest son, Stephen will be attending band camp this coming week and the following week classes begin. It’s always sad to see summer vacation come to an end even though I’m not in school. I’m also still trying to get used to the fact that my youngest child is starting high school. At my age, four years go by so fast that I’m trying to prepare myself for the empty nest that’s coming all too soon.

As we prepare for this fall, we are very excited to anticipate what God is going to do at NewSpring Church. Even though summer attendance is usually down, the last two weekends we have had over 2,000 and from those two weekends, 15 people have let us know that they prayed to receive Christ. Last weekend, KidzWorld had their highest attendance (472) since Easter and as of last Monday, 103 people have registered to be baptized at Watermark on August 24. Forty-two people have signed up for Discovery Reception where we will introduce our leadership team and ministry opportunities. Discovery is also the place to find out how to become a member of the NewSpring Church family.

This weekend begins a new series and I have gotten some previews, so I can say that you won’t want to miss it. The first message is called “Filing Jointly.” Mark and I were sitting at the lunch table when he was telling me how he was still struggling with the illustration he needed. A minute or two went by and I saw the light come on! God gave him just what he had been asking for. Although I got a small sample, I’m very anxious to hear the whole message this weekend.

I can’t imagine a more exciting life than what God has given me. Even with another summer coming to an end, the best is yet to come!