Point ... Counterpoint

Just so no one thinks I'm really prejudice, I'm posting something my friend and brother in Christ, Stan, sent me.

Hey, Giggles! (yes, he really calls me that)
I read your blog today. Lots of
fun. Of course, being one of those "city folk" that you so malign, I felt I
needed to respond. Being a friend, I thought I'd do it privately, lest it be
misunderstood and cause hard feelings. So I simply took your list and turned it
around. (Thus, this is best read against your list.) Enjoy! (All in fun.)
an effort to help Southern folk understand the city, the following list should
be handed to each person as they enter the civilization known as L.A.
Angeles to those confused Louisianans):
1. The gas stations are SELF-serve. We know you're used to Gomer pumpin' your gas and checkin' your oil, but it's time you did it yourself.
2. It's called pavement. We know you're used to gravel and dirt roads, but these are designed for speeds greater than 40 MPH, so move it or lose it.
3. Wash the car from time to time. "Dirt" is not considered a status symbol here.
4. Just because we're not typically people that shoot wild animals doesn't make us tree huggers.
5. Go ahead and bring your shotgun hung in your back window. We call it a "fly swatter" compared to the Uzi's, AK's and who knows what else the bangers are carrying around.
6. Wash your clothes! You look like a dirt clod.
7. We will use our cell phones whenever we please. Get over it. It's considered rude to shoosh people just because you don't like their phone usage.
8. Yes, there is a wide variety of choices available. We won't force you to eat meat if you prefer not to. On the other hand, there is no shortage of food, whatever you might like.
9. Tea -- yeah, we have tea. You can have it hot, cold, sweetened, unsweetened, flavored, even green. Why would we want to limit you to one, limited preference?
10. Don't look too closely, and you can avoid whatever might offend you.
11. Yeah, you have a quarter of a million dollar combine that you use for two weeks a year. We prefer "labor saving devices" that we can use often without spending large sums and still have time for a workout at the gym.
(such as???)
12. Understand, traffic is not easy in the city. Green means go. Red means stop. Yellow means go real fast. If we're in the intersection before it's red, it's legal. Just be ready for it.
13. We have too much going on all at once to even begin to tell you what we will be doing on Saturday. But it's a fair bet there's boys' sports, the daughter's dance class, and soccer practice in there somewhere. Don't be surprised.
14. We don't do "slower than molasses in January" well.
15. Greens -- yeah, we have greens. We putt on them. (We figured it would be good for you to know, so as not to get wacked with a putter while you're trying to eat.)
16. Yeah, we eat fish, beef, chicken, sushi, caviar, and who knows what else. Live a little.
(we do... and we know better than to ask "What's in the gumbo?")
17. They are cows. That's what they smell like. We prefer to keep them as far from civilization as possible, but we apologize for the oversized dairies. Don't like it? We're pretty sure the road you came in on goes both ways.
18. Grit is part of sandpaper. You can buy your grits in most supermarkets, but don't expect them to be like home.
19. The "Opener" refers to the first home game of the local sports team. Please leave that shotgun in the back. It's not the beginning of duck season.
20. So every person doesn't wave? Yeah, you try to wave to the typically 100,000 drivers on the road every day and see how long you hold up. Give it a rest.
21. Yeah, we have golf courses. The term "water hazard" isn't serious -- leave the shotgun in the truck.
22. That Highway Patrol Officer that just pulled you over for driving with a loaded weapon in the window --her name is "Ma'am," no matter how much she resembles a Hollywood starlet.
23. We have gangs. You drive that pickup into the wrong part of town, and that shotgun in the window will simply make you a target. Don't go there.
24. Yeah, you think we're liberal, American-hating city folk. Don't make that mistake. We love America as much as you do. We just happen to think that open-mindedness and diversity aren't bad things.
(Is that why California is called the Granola State?)

Southerner by the Grace of God

In an effort to help outsiders understand the Southerner's mind, the following list should be handed to each person as they enter a Southern State. (These actually should be the rules in all states.)
1. That farm boy you see at the gas station did more work before breakfast than you do all week at the gym.
2. It's called a "gravel road." No matter how slow you drive, you're going to get dust on your Lincoln Navigator. Drive it or get it out of the way!
3. The red dirt -- it's called red clay. If you like the color, don't wash your car for a couple weeks -- it'll be permanent.
4. We all started hunting and fishing when we were seven years old. Yeah, we saw that Bambi movie, too. We got over it.
5. Go ahead and bring your $600 Orvis fly rod. Don't cry to us if a flathead breaks it off at the handle. We have a name for those little13-inch trout you fish for: bait.
6. Comb your hair! You look like an idiot.
7. If that cell phone rings while a bunch of mallards are making their final approach, we will shoot it. You might want to ensure it's not up to your ear at the time.
8. No, there's no "Vegetarian Special" on the menu. Order steak. Order it rare. Or, you can order the Chef's Salad and pick off the two pounds of ham and turkey.
9. Tea -- yeah, we have tea. It comes in a glass over ice and it's sweet You want it hot? Set it in the sun. You want it unsweetened? Add a lot of water.
10. You bring Coke into my house, it better be brown, wet, and served over ice!
11. You have a sixty-thousand-dollar car. We're real impressed. We have a quarter of a million-dollar combine that we only use two weeks a year.
12. Let's get this straight. We have one stoplight in town. We stop when it's red. We may even stop when it's yellow.
13. We eat dinner together with our families. We pray before we eat--yeah, even breakfast. We go to church on Wednesdays and Sundays, and we go to high school football games on Friday nights. We still address our seniors with "yes, sir" and "yes, ma'am," and we sometimes still take Sunday drives around town to see friends and neighbors.
14. We don't do "hurry up" well.
15. Greens -- yeah, we have greens, but you don't putt on them. You boil them with salty fatback, bacon or a smoked hog jowl.
16. Yeah, we eat catfish, bass, bream, and carp. You really want sushi and caviar? It's available down at the bait shop.
17. They are pigs. That's what they smell like. Get over it. Don't like it? Interstate 75 goes two ways. Interstate 40 goes the other two. Pick one.
18. Grits are corn. You put butter, salt, and maybe even some pepper on them. If you want to put milk and sugar on them, then you want cream of wheat -- go to Kansas. That would be I-40 West.
19. The "Opener" refers to the first day of deer season or dove season. Both are holidays. You can get pancakes, cane syrup, and sausage before daylight at the church on either day.
20. So every person in every pickup truck waves? Yeah, it's called being friendly. Understand the concept?
21. Yeah, we have golf courses. Don't hit in the water hazards. It spooks the fish and bothers the gators --and, if you hit it in the rough, we have these things called diamondbacks, and they're not baseball players.
22. That Highway Patrol Officer that just pulled you over for driving like an idiot --his name is "Sir," no matter how young he is.
23. We have lots of pine trees. They have sap. It drips from them. You park your darn Navigator under them, and they'll leave a souvenir on your hood.
24. You burn an American flag in our state, you get beat up. No questions. The liberal contingent of our state legislature -- all four of them enacted a measure to stop this. There is now a $2.50 fine for beating up the flag burner.

American by Birth, Southern by the Grace of God!

The Well Watered Garden

Is this not the fast that I have chosen: To lose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, to let the oppressed go free, and that you break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out; when you see the naked, that you cover him, and not hide yourself from your own flesh?

Ah... then. Then your light shall break forth like the morning, Your healing shall spring forth speedily, and your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard. Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer; you shall cry and He will say, "Here I am."

If you take away the yoke from your midst, the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness, if you extend your soul to the hungry and satisfy the afflicted soul, then your light shall dawn in the darkness, and your gloom shall be as the noon day. The LORD will guide you continually, and satisfy your soul in drought, and strengthen your bones; You shall be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail. Those from among you shall build the old waste places; you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; and you shall be called the Repairer of the Breach, the Restorer of Streets to Dwell In... the Mouth of the LORD has spoken.

Let me ask a few questions about Freedom...

Where is the freedom in having to find a place every 30 minutes to an hour to smoke a cigarette? Where is the freedom in restricting one's choice of restaurants due to their policy of allowing smoking or not?

Where is the freedom in spending money on drugs for an artificial high to the point that it steals from the spouse and children to the point of losing one's job, one's home, one's life just for a temporary, artificial high?

Where is the freedom in waking with a lousy head and vacant memory after a night on the town?

Where is the freedom in stealing a few moments of temporary, perceived pleasure in viewing pornographic material, temporary pleasure in someone's company that is not one's spouse... ducking into dark places and hiding the relationship?

Where is the freedom in those feelings that well up inside which are caused by sinful thoughts and deeds? Or stealing hours and hours away from the family to watch TV, or talk on the phone, or pursue internet friendships?

I have heard people scoff at me for being a slave to Christ but they do not understand what being a slave to sin actually means. Where is satisfaction from buying new shoes, new clothes, new car, new anything? That yawning hole keeps begging for more things and more stuff and more of yourself until there is nothing left to stuff down the hole and still the hunger pangs pierce the soul.

There is nothing in this world big enough or satisfying enough to quench the thirst and hunger forever. It always comes back.

Where is the freedom in pursuit of material riches if it steals time away from family? Where is the freedom in busy work at church if the time spent is given grudgingly or with grumbles and gripes?

Everything listed above are joy and peace killers. There are many more things in this world that are slave-makers because we allow them to make slaves of us and to keep us in bondage... ...Things like anger, bitterness, hatred... the list goes on and on. Nothing fills that God-sized void except the Holy Spirit.

We Christians have freedom of choice in how we handle these emotions. We can either pull them around our hearts like an unfinished homemade quilt with all the pins and needles still in it, or we can rush into our Father's arms, tell Him all our woes and ask Him to take care of it.

It took the willing sacrifice of Jesus to reconcile humans to the Living God again legally. In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus sweated drops of blood in His anxiety but He chose to obey God's will.

Here's the wonderful thing about this kind of Freedom. When we accept Jesus as Savior -- That's the last decision we ever make on our own. We have much greater wisdom at work in us than mere human wisdom after the Holy Spirit resides in our hearts. Choosing Jesus means choosing Him as Ruler of the Heart and Mind and Body and Soul. There is great freedom in that.

This is how a Christian is known to other Christians...True Believer to other True Believers. The True Believer will desire to obey God and will be convicted by the Holy Spirit when he/she sins. Does this mean we won't have periods of rebellion and/or times of seduction into doing ungodly things? No. We most certainly will have those times because we are not perfect and we still reside in our fleshly, physical bodies.

What it means is that we will be convicted of our sin when we sin and we won't be able to sleep at night or have peace in our minds or be content. We will worry. We will fret. We will do all manner of running away from God until we recognize the sin for what it is. When we confess that sin and repent from that sin...Then God cleanses us, refreshes us, gives us peace in our hearts and minds. Our witness is restored from the shambles it was in and we are stronger in the Lord than ever before...standing strong in His grace. There is much freedom in being His slave.

You knew it was from God

Joe B over at God Even Loves Idiots Like Me has a challenge for us. I'm answering that challenge and passing it on. I would really like every one to answer this question on their own blog and just post a comment here like, "Come to my place". Joe's stories are great and since this isn't a "can you top that!!" kind of challenge, this should be lots of fun. Really!

Here is Joe's question:

So let me ask you, has anything ever happened to
you, big or small, when after it was all said and done you knew it was from God?

About 10 years ago, I spent a long weekend alone with God trying to figure out if God would allow me to leave my husband. Let's just leave it at he was a wicked man. God walked me through some Scriptures and I "heard" Him plain as day, "Gina, My daughter, enough is enough." So I left him and not too long after that, I lost my job. I got another right away but that one was really lousy and it used up all my savings. I had to find another job, one that paid me, and there weren't any good jobs to be had right then.

We had to go buy groceries and I had about $30. When we got in the car, I told my daughter we'd have to get just the necessitites this time until I found something that would support us. I told her I'd been praying that God would provide a job for me and I knew He would in His own timing.

"But, Mom," she asked, "how do you know He'll provide a job? You've been looking forever." At seventeen, emotions run high but my daughter was so even keel this question was more matter of fact rather than laced with worry.

"I just know He will. He always has in the past so I know He will this time, too. I trust His promises. See? Look over there, the sun is shining and the storm has passed. That's the way it will be now. You mark my words." The light turned green and we turned the corner onto Florida Blvd., a main traffic throughway in Baton Rouge. I gasped as I looked through the windshield and tears started streaming down my cheeks. Before us was the most gorgeous rainbow I have ever seen. It was huge against the backdrop of storm clouds moving away, more brilliant than any diamond. "There's your answer, Manda. God always remembers His promises."

"What do you mean, Mom?"

"God put that rainbow there to remind me that He is most Trustworthy. He promised that He would never destroy the earth with water again and gave the rainbow as the sign of that covenant. He promised that He would provide all our needs if we just look to Him and look at that great, brilliant rainbow! He put that there just for us to see, to remind us that He is watching us and He will provide as long as we remember to lean on Him."

In a short while, I got a job at a computer software training center and went on to break a world record for sales in a small town. It was a God thing.

Another time when I was on my teeth-grinding drive home from Arizona after my second husband decided he didn't want to be married anymore. I was devastated and I kept wanting to turn back. God kept nudging me forward. Finally, the whole western sky was a brilliant orange and I heard plain as day, "I've got your back." That night as I lay in a hard, motel bed, I was sobbing my eyes out and crying out to God, "Why?" "What is so terribly wrong with me?" I felt Him press me into the matress, covering me with His hands, and I heard, "You are acceptable to me, beloved. You need only worry about what I say." The next day, my heart was lighter but I was still angry.

Along about Albuquerque, I was enjoying the sun on the snow. I'm a Southern Magnolia and we don't see snow much. Only often enough to know what it is when we see it. So I got a thought in my head about bringing some of that snow back to sweltering Louisiana. I didn't have a thing to put it in except a plastic bag. But, I stopped anyway and right where I stopped, there was some deer tracks and a jack rabbit had hopped right over them. I scooped up those deer tracks and rabbit tracks, putting them in the bag and tossed it into the seat next to me. I grinned most of the way home after that. I brought some deer tracks home to my Daddy. What a hoot that was!

"What's this?" Dad cleared his throat as he peered through the water in the bag.

"Deer tracks and rabbit tracks," I tossed at him dragging my suitcase from the back seat.

"Whaaaa--deer tracks!"

I told him what I'd done and where I'd scooped up the snow. He started laughing then and chuckled every little while then he told Mom, "I'm bringing that to church tomorrow." She laughed and agreed.

After I got my coffee at church, I passed a clump of people peering into that bag of water and one fellow was saying, "Yeah... I think I see it. What was it again?"

It's a God thing.

Blessed are ye who weep now, for ye shall laugh Luke 6:21b

I am not feeling too creative tonight. I've got a temprature and scratchy throat. I think I'm coming down with something like a code in my node. It's windy out there and our energy source is none to reliable so I might not be posting for a couple of days if the lights go out. We're all praying for the safety of those on the road and on the coast.

How Do I Know for sure I'm in God's Will?

A long time ago and in another galaxy... Maybe not galaxy, but certainly a different lifetime I had a message board along with two other Christian friends. We called it Christian Living and the above question was raised. How can I possibly know for sure I am in God's Will?

There is something inside my soul that tells me this. When I wanted to quit my job because I was so angry at my boss for whatever reason, I cleaned off my desk piled it all on his desk, grabbed my purse and literally stomped out the door. Emotion was fueling my actions like I had never experienced before. I was right and he was wrong. I was right to quit and leave that awful place. It was in a bad part of town anyway. I hadn't gotten more than three blocks down the street before I had this gut wrenching feeling that warned me in no uncertain terms that I must turn around, eat crow and get my job back.

It was the best thing I ever did. My boss took me back and forgave me that incredible outburst. I truly didn't deserve that, but I do believe God was at work in a great way on that day.

So when someone asked that question, I thought about that day long ago and came up with a few reasons how I knew what I did was not in God's will and how I knew what I did next was in God's will. Comparing what I said and what Charles Stanley sayid in his In Touch devotional, it is amazing how close we are.

Science discoveries such as how vast the universe is and DNA, prove God's well ordered and plan for the physical world. The Bible outlines very carefully God's perfect plan for our salvation and reconciliation to Himself. We know, then that God has a plan for each of us. So how do we know we are within that plan?

Let me share what Charles Stanley says. There are a few questions we can ask ourselves:

1. Is it consistent with the Bible?
2. Is this a wise decision?
3. Can I honestly ask God to enable me to achieve this?
4. Do I have genuine peace about this?
5. Does this fit who I am as a follower of Jesus?
6. Does this fit God's overall plan for my life?
7. Will this decision honor God?

As soon as I turned my car around and headed back to the office, that gut wrenching feeling of impending doom left me immediately. Even though I had to eat humble pie, the peace I felt was a living presence. This was not the first time this kind of Holy Spirit guidance happened to me, nor was it that last...far from it.

The peace passes understanding. The turmoil in my soul was an excellent warning that I wasn't within God's will for my life or that of my family. How I acted was certainly not how Jesus would have me act. God had provided that job to help put food on the table, how could I just walk out on a blessing that God had given me and my family through me? In the few minutes it took for me to drive three blocks, God had escorted me through a thought process that made me understand how He directs my life...if I will allow Him to.

I may take these questions and add some Bible verses to them and write a study for our women's retreat. Pray with me on this.

Patriarchs by Beth Moore

A collective gasp came from everyone in the group but two. "What are you saying?"

I replied, "I do not agree with Beth Moore on day 5. The problem is the seeming contradiction between Genesis 19 and 2 Peter 2:7. Enter Peter: ...and delivered righteous Lot, who was oppressed by the filthy conduct of the wicked 8 (for that righteous man, dwelling among them, tormented his righteous soul from day to day by seeing and hearing their lawless deeds) ***9 then the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment... The Bible never contradicts itself and therefore, there must be a different explanation than that Lot had steeped in the wickedness of Sodom long enough to become blind to righteous ways. Otherwise, Peter would never had said that the wickedness of Sodom tormented Lot day to day."

How can Peter have called Lot righteous? He offered his daughters to the townsmen in place of the angels under his roof. What is righteous about that?

Absolutely nothing. Some say that Lot felt safe in offering his daughters because of the homosexual debaseness of the town's men and that they wouldn't be tempted by daughters, they wanted manflesh. I'm leaning that way because of what the men of the town replied to that suggestion.

How could Lot have been righteous if he stayed in Sodom surrounded by evil?

I am living proof that a person can succomb to the evil ways of the world little by little without even realizing that I was sinking back into a depraved person. BUT, God delivered me out of my Sodom, just like He delivered Lot out of his.

I believe that God was intently watching Lot as he lived in Sodom. I believe that God had angels watching and protecting him as well. I also believe that Lot's wife (who is nameless) was so addicted to the urban wiles of Sodom that every time Lot desired to leave, she pressed him to stay. I also believe that she bought into the ways of Sodom as normal just as Lot's daughters bought into the perverted ways. Their husbands to be were not very much in love with them because when Lot told them they were leaving, they laughed at his reason and then went back to drinking.

Certainly we should never interpret Scripture from personal experience. That is totally against hermeneutics, rules of interpretation. However, we see a lot of human experience in the OT which directly relates to our human experience. From this angle I would like to make a correlation.

Even when I was stuck in Satan's web of lies and filth and disobedience, I still knew Jesus was in my heart. There were some things that were abhorant to me that no matter how much I was exposed to them, I could never condone. I would never allow my precious daughters to be tainted by something that was wicked if it was within my power to prevent. Therefore, even if Lot had become somewhat numb to the wickedness around him, I just cannot fathom he would allow sin to become normal.

In Sodom, Lot was exposed to plenty of filth, yet his garments were not soiled (as in the church of Sardis Rev 3:4 You have a few names even in Sardis who have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with Me in white, for they are worthy.) Therefore, we see something really interesting here.

Lot was righteous and to see what that means, we must look in Romans 4 where Abraham's belief was accounted to him as righteousness. Just as David describes the blessedness of the man to whom God imputes righteousness apart from works (v. 6)

So what is it that I disagree with? Beth is saying that even though Lot's family did not participate in homosexual sin, the "dividing right from wrong and healthy from unhealthy got blurred." For Lot's daughters, YES! Because of what they did to Lot. But, for Lot, no. He had kept his daughters virgins. He knew what was right and just. The only way he knew this was from God. Paul affirms this when he states that he would not have known what sin was except for the Law.

I believe that Lot recognized the angels and from Whom they came. They were Holy and stood out like a beacon from the wickedness and filth surrounding him because he baked them unleavened bread. I believe he put protection of them above and before protection of his daughters. His thought process was a bit skewed because he forgot how Big God is and tried a puny and ill thought out solution to the problem pounding at his door. I do not believe for one second that Lot thought those men outside his door would take him up on the offer. The men replied, "... he keeps acting as a judge; now we will deal with you worse than with them."

So, no, I don't believe that Lot allowed the lines around sin to blur.

Otherwise, this is a most excellent study. All of Beth's studies are good and I have learned a lot. I highly recommend them to you if you haven't done one, just do it. If you can get a group of women together purchase the DVDs to view along with your study. They are most excellent.

The Mighty Hummingbird

It's a wonder that I ever get anything done. Two sides of my office are windows and I can see the side yard and the back yard, therefore I have witnessed some most amazing sites.

Yesterday I was watching the dive bomber hummingbird. Last year I took an old broom handle and drilled a hole in it then inserted a screw hook to hang a hummingbird feeder from it after I pounded it into the ground. It worked well as a winter bird feeder, too. I had lamented that we didn't have many hummingbirds at the beginning of the year even though I put out the feeders early just so the scouts could find it and bring the others. Hummingbirds, don't have scouts and they are very territorial about their food sources as it turns out.

Monsieur Hummingbird sits perched on top of the broom handle and holds a constant vigil against any encroaching hummingbird. As soon as one swings by, off he goes chasing the offender past the crepe myrtles into the oak trees. He is ready for any sneak attack, full frontal attack or the favored distract and sip ploy. He doesn't drink as often as I would suppose, after expending so much energy to protect his food. He preens his beak along the wooden side of the handle, and fluffs his feathers yet still he isn't any bigger than a tablespoonful. During Katrina he pointed his thin, little beak into the 60 mph winds and clung on to the top of that broom handle like he was superglued on. I have no idea how such a little thing could have such strength of might or will or both.

The first spectacular site I witnessed was right after my office was finished. We closed in the "hot tub" patio minus the hot tub and put in some storage cabinets and my office stuff with some shelves that my Dad had in his airport office. It was a crisp, crystal clear October day and I was looking out the windows, quite pleased at how much I could see when I looked toward Lake St. Joe and winding down from the heights was this swirling column of pelicans. I had heard that it was such a beautiful site to see the pelicans come in but I had no idea just how spectacular it is.

This pic I found on the net does not do it justice. You can barely see the swirl. About a hundred feet in the air, they start to spiral down one after the other. Fly in at a diagonal to precisely the same point as the bird before and then spiral down until the whole flock is on the water. It is like a lighthouse beacon only pelicans with their brilliant white feathers reflecting the sun. This went on for a full ten minutes. These are not small birds. Their wing span was easily 5 feet or more.

The difference in the birds is more than just the huge difference in size. The pelican flies in flocks as they swoop across the water, their wings fluttering the water's surface and their feet splashing brakes. They nest in flocks; the trees bend under their weight.

Can you just imagine how tired these birds are as they are flying in, hungry, wing sore and yet they swirl in a column for several minutes as a beacon so their brethren and sisterns and childurns can find the home rest below. How different from the hummingbird who chases off all comers with a vengence of a sore-tailed cat. I'm thinking I'd much rather be like the pelicans as they fly together, fish together and find rest together. I want to be a beacon to show others where the home rest is. It's not glamorous, but the sight from the outside is sheer beauty. Isn't that what Jesus told us? Our love for one another is His best witness to the world.

Replinished or Depleted? It's a choice.

Angela Hunt has a marvelous post on Charis Connection about Life Fillers and Life Drainers. It is astounding to me what she points out. Of course I knew this. I took a course on time management. I forgot a lot of that since it was 10 years ago, so I prayed and asked God all about it and He gave me some pointers that I wrote down. So why was Angela Hunt's article so startling?

Because life isn't about time management. [shock].
Life for Christians is all about living for Jesus and bringing Him glory. That's perfectly lovely to mouth that platitude, but come on, how many of us actually wake up every single morning with this plan in our head? Coffee is on my mind the first thing. I used to be good and wake up every morning with a prayer on my lips thanking God for all that He has given me. But this morning, I woke up as Spiritually depleted as this piggy bank.

"Why?" I can hear you ask. Because I am in a ministry that I know is not my minsitry. I know it is not my ministry because it does not give me that mental rush as I get ready for it. It doesn't give me any extra energy and I am flat out not motivated to get in the car and go. I have a sense of dread that I cannot overcome by myself. I've been in this ministry for 3 years now and I have this feeling just about every Saturday morning during the school year and I do not have a passion for this ministry like I have for Refreshment in Refuge and for teaching my ladies in Sunday School or even teaching Discipleship Training on Sunday evening. And, most especially, not like the passion I have for writing.

It's called Sonshine Kids and these are really precious kids. We've had 10 accept Jesus in 2 years. That doesn't seem like a lot, but when we consider that on a normal Saturday morning from 10AM to 12 Noon, we have about 15 - 20 kids on a regular basis, it is a lot. They love it. When I get there, I love them, and I have a really good time. For God to bless me in ministry, I must have the right attitude and right heart intent. So, I pray for that. He looks kindly on me and gives my heart a tune-up so that I can keep going.

I cannot help but wonder who's ministry I am working. Who is it that is missing out on a blessing from God that will give them zest for life, energy without stopping and a huge smile in their Spirit?

So, I pray that God will give whoever it is the boldness to come forward and volunteer in this ministry.

Paul talks about various gifts, various ministries and various expressions of power in 1 Cor 12. The various ministries are the good works that God has provided for us to do from the foundation of the world. The various gifts are the motivations that God gifted us with in order for us to gravitate to the works He has planned for each of us individually.

These gifts are what make us who we are in Christ. These gifts drive our personality and define our souls so that we may all work together to make a whole. One body, one Spirit, one Baptism formulate the unity of Jesus. This is something that I believe Christ’s church is forgetting. We are so caught up in political correctness that we forget Christ’s Correctness.

So why don't I quit Sonshine Kids and open the door for whoever is supposed to be doing this?
This ministry is what God gave my Mom after Dad died. There were several memorials given and God nudged her heart into starting a children's ministry to meet the needs of these kids that don't go to church or have a church to go to. It's a place that takes them away from some of the ugly things they live with and gives them hope that things will be better in the sweet by and by. Every time I try to quit, I just can't. I can't let my Mom down, I don't want to let the kids down. You ought to see them on Halloween. My office has these huge windows on 2 sides and I'll be studying or typing away and they stand at the window smiling and yelling, 'Hey, Miss Gina! Hey! Trick or Treeeeeeat!' I just have to laugh and hug them and give them all a treat. And sometimes they drop by just to say hello.

David Jeremiah said something so profound last Sunday that it just knocked me off my feet, thank goodness my bed was close by to sit on. It is simple. He said, "Your prayers draw you into God's plan."

Maybe it's my ministry after all and my prayers are drawing me into God's plan because this life certainly isn't about me, it's all about Him.

(My cousin sent me that picture saying that's what her bank account looked like after buying gas today.)


Russell Kelfer

Desperately, helplessly, longingly, I cried.
Quietly, patiently, lovingly God replied.
I pled and I wept for a clue to my fate,
And the Master so gently said, “Child, you must wait.”
“Wait? You say, Wait!” my indignant reply.
“Lord, I need answers, I need to know why!
Is your hand shortened? Or have you not heard?
By Faith, I have asked, and am claiming your Word.
My future and all to which I relate hangs in the balance,
And YOU tell me to WAIT?
I’m needing a ‘yes’, a go-ahead sign,
Or even a ‘no’ to which I shall resign.
And Lord, You promised that if we believe we need but to ask,
And we would receive.
And Lord, I’ve been asking, and this is my cry:
I’m weary of asking! I need a reply!
Then quietly, softly, I learned of my fate
As my Master replied once again, “You must wait.”
So, I slumped in my chair, defeated and taut and
Grumbled to God, “So…I’m waiting…for what??”
He seemed, then, to kneel, and His eyes wept with mine,
And he tenderly said, “I could give you as sign.
I could raise the dead, and cause mountains to run.
All you seek, I could give, and pleased you would be.
You would have what you want—but …you wouldn’t know Me.
You’d not know the depth of My love for each saint;
You’d not know the power that I give to the faint,
You’d not learn to see through the clouds of despair;
You’d not learn to trust just by knowing I’m there;
You’d not know the joy of resting in Me when
Darkness and silence were all you could see.
You’d never experience that fullness of love
as the peace of My Spirit descends like a dove.
You’d know that I give and I save…for a start,
But you’d not know the depth of the beat of My heart.
You’d not know the glow of My comfort in the night;
The faith that I give when you walk without sight.
The depth that’s beyond getting just what you asked of an infinite God
Who makes what you have LAST
You’d never know, should your pain quickly flee,
What it means that “My grace is sufficient for Thee.”
Yes, your dreams for your loved one overnight would come true,
But, Oh…the LOSS! If I lost what I’m doing in you!
So. Be silent, My Child, and in time you will see
That the greatest of gifts is to get to know Me.
And though oft’ may My answers seem terribly late,
My most precious answer of all is still,

I do not know who wrote this, but 10 years ago it came into my email box and I treasured it. Every time I get impatient for God to DO something in my life He reminds me of this poem. I cannot help but add...

I lifted my eyes and put my hand into His.
and remembered the words of the psalmist 150.

O praise the Lord.
O Praise God in His holy temple,
Praise Him in the vault of heaven, the vault of His power;
Praise Him for His mighty works,
Praise Him for His immeasurable greatness.
Praise Him with fanfares on the trumpet,
Praise Him upon lute and harp;
Praise Him with tambourines and dancing,
Praise Him with flute and strings;
Praise Him with the clash of cymbals;
Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!
O, praise the Lord.

God loves a cheerful giver 2 Corinthians 9:7b

A comment by David on a post by Richard sparked this little study...

Luke 21:1-4
1 And He looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the treasury, 2and He saw also a certain poor widow putting in two mites. 3So He said, "Truly I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all; 4for all these out of their abundance have put in offerings for God, but she out of her poverty put in all the livelihood that she had."

All the widow had to buy food with was 2 mites. These small coins were worth 1/8 of a penny each. She gave to God the only money she had and Jesus watched as she gave her offering. (In the Temple there were thirteen trumpet shaped funnels that led to 13 chests which was in the Court of Women a separate place for the women to give their tithes and offerings. Each was marked for a different use.)

The term Jesus used “poor” widow was a term used to describe deep poverty.
πεντιχρός pentichros (pen-tikh-ros') Prolonged from the base of G3993; necessitous: - poor
G3993-- πένης penēs -- From a primary "peno" (to toil for daily subsistence); starving, that is, indigent: - poor.

Most likely, the woman only had the clothes on her back, the shoes on her feet and possibly a place to lay her head at night, but that is doubtful. The phrase “all the livelihood that she had,” meant that until she earned more money, this woman was penniless…destitute.

Jesus did not go running after her to give her money. He didn’t send someone to give her money. He didn’t take the money out of the treasury chest and give it back to her. Isn't that amazing? Why, if Jesus knew she had nothing and He knew her heart, didn't He give her back her money and more so she would have something to subsist on? Instead He declared she had given far more than the rich men who had placed gold upon the altar. How could this possibly be? How could Jesus be so “cruel” to not share what He had with this poor woman?

In Jesus’ ministry, people were sick and He healed them. People were hungry and He fed them. People were filled with demons and He freed them. Why didn’t He help this woman with money or food?

I heard a story once about two wealthy Christians, a lawyer and a merchant, who traveled with a group that was going around the world. As they were visiting in Korea, they saw by the side of the road, a field in which a boy was pulling a crude plow and an old man held the plow handles and guided it. The lawyer was amused and took a snapshot of the scene.

He turned to the missionary, who served as their interpreter and guide, and he said, "That's a curious picture. I suppose they are very poor."

The guide replied, "Yes, that is the family of Chi Noue. When the place of worship was being built, they were eager to give something to it, but they had no money, so they sold their only ox and gave the money to the church. This spring, they are pulling the plow themselves."

The men were silent for several moments. Then the businessman replied, "That must have been a real sacrifice."

The guide said, "They do not call it that. They thought it was fortunate that they had an ox to sell."

Philippians 4:19 And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

God gave the Children of Israel Manna from heaven to eat every morning while they were in the wilderness. But they had to go out every morning except the Sabbath to gather their food for the day.

God gave them shoes to wear that never wore out. But they had to walk in the wilderness for 40 years.

They were thirsty and God led them to water. But it was bitter water and they had to cut down a tree to put in it to turn it from bitter to sweet.

God provides for us abundantly however, we must participate in His blessings to us. God does not reward idleness. He gives us special skills to enable us to work and make money. Just as the birds hunt and find enough to eat for the day, God promises that our needs will be met each day. Because God gives these things to us, then we are thankful to give to Him out of His bounty to us. God created everything…and because He created it, it belongs to Him. Our tithe belongs to Him.

2 Corinthians 9:6-8 (paraphrased)
Sow sparingly, reap sparingly. Sow abundantly, reap abundantly. God loves a cheerful giver so give cheerfully, not grudgingly or from duty. God provides for all our needs in all things and God provides abundantly for each good work.

When the widow gave her 2 mites, Jesus knew her heart attitude. She gave cheerfully. She knew God would provide work for her so she could earn enough for her daily food. Jesus knew God would provide for her in His way. This is why He did not chase after her to give her money back. Her heart was Spiritually in the right place and therefore—even though she gave all the money she had—she missed nothing. She gave from her heart just like the Chinese family gave their ox. Because she sowed abundantly, Jesus knew she would reap abundantly.

It's that time of year again...

It is time for me to write the Bible study for our annual Refreshment in Refuge Women's January Retreat. I have written about the Proverbial Perfect Wife. I have written about The message of the cross really is "no stones".

This year, I thought God had provided the topic which was "Streams in the Desert", but our pastor chose that topic for some sermons and I don't wish to repeat. Give me a little help, if you would and tell me what topics sound good to you that go along with the theme Refreshment in Refuge.

About Haiti...

I must apologize to my friend David Miegs. I promised him that I would talk about his series and only today have I followed through. (So little time and so much to do!) He has written an excellent series of articles on a couple from Haiti and how the Lord is working in Haiti. Did you know that 201 years ago, the people of Haiti gave their children to Satan for 200 years? I didn't. Take a few minutes and read all about it here or click the title and go to the last article he wrote called The Building of Haiti Arise.

The Bicycle

I do lament today's throw-away society. So often we acquire a "pretty" and then something happens to mar the pretty and we throw it away. My dad never threw anything away. His shop out back was filled to the brim and the overflow surrounded it like undulating waves hitting the sides of a swimming pool. That's my Dad, fixing a fence outside their little trailer. That's me superimposed. (Those little Brownie cameras were sometimes difficult to use, but my Mom never missed a chance to take some pictures.)

Back to my Dad. He saw potential in everything he looked at. A roll of wire could tie down, hang up or hold together anything. Coca Cola was good for drinking on a hot day and cleaning battery tops. Nails that held boards together for years would hold other boards together if one just pulled them out properly and the boards could build a mighty fine fence and a gate. See?

When I was a kid, I never realized how poor were were. All our things looked brand new. We had a great house and a car and a truck. That's not poor! But what sacrifice did those blessings come?

We didn't see Dad all that much when we were kids. He would eat breakfast with us and then Mom insisted we wait dinner on him. Sometimes we wouldn't eat until 8:00 pm. He worked 6 days a week and Mom worked, too. We didn't know what latch key kids were, but that's what we were. I never heard a single complaint from Dad. When it came time for me and then my sister to go to college, Dad got extra jobs and said, holding out his work worn hands, "As long as I've got these two hands, my daughters will go to college without help from anyone." That wasn't pride. That was determination born from the Great Depression and deep, deep poverty. He never had shoes in the summer and his pockets held a stick called Stick Boy instead of quarters and nickles. He carried around the same 33 cents in his pocket for 6 months. He knew the value of a penny, not just a dollar.

However, we did not have a lot of extras like lavish vacations. We camped at Lake Bruin which is very close to where that picture above was taken at Lake Yucatan. We always had good things, though. Like our bicycles. I never knew until I was an adult that Dad rebuilt and refurbished our first bicycles. Green, mine. Blue, my sister's. Gorgeous, sparking in the sun and looked like racing bikes, so beautiful, in fact that they went missing from behind our house. We never saw them again, but by then we were taking a bus to school and not having to ride our bikes to school. Dad always wanted the best for us, always, which is why he worked such long hours and why he labored over those rusty bikes making them sparkling new again.

The same thing was true about the house he built on Lake Bruin. They didn't have a lot of money, but he labored for 25 years over a house to retire in. Imagine that. The patience that takes.

In the picture below, you can see the biplane he built from scratch. Hours and hours he stretched and schelacked (sp?) the fabric on the wings and body. The Buker (that's supposed to be a u with 2 little dots over it), it was called. It is upside down, not the picture. Dad invented a breather for the fuel system so that the engine would get the fuel even though the plane was not flying right side up. Many airshows and Fly-ins featured this plane and the pilot, Marion Cole. What times we had at those.

The land at Lake Yucatan was sold. The bicycles were stolen. The biplane was sold. The log house at Lake Bruin was sold. Other people enjoy the labors of my father. Oh, but that isn't what is imporant. My father left a much better legacy than money could buy or labor could earn. He instilled in my sister and me a deep and abiding love for our heavenly Father. It was he that brought us to church and lived a life that reflected Jesus. Through him, we understood what a gentle and loving heavenly Father we had. Through his love and servanthood, we understood what God expected of us in our Christian walk. Oh, he wasn't perfect. He had some strange ideas at times. But, my Dad was a wonderful Christian man who always held out a helping hand no matter how few the coins in his pocket because he could always go out to the shop and find something to fix the problem and he always depended on God to guide him, teaching us to do the same.

He lives with the Lord now. How precious the thought that one day I will be with him again, but I am also a bit jealous of where he is. I want to be there, too.

The Computer Security Consultant, Diamondkt

I have made many friends in Blogsville. Some I got to know very quickly because we are so much alike. Others are more mysterious. I wandered into Diamondkt's blog and spent a fascinating hour reading about computer stuff and learning a lot. I also had some chuckles along the way. So, I kept going back and commenting. I also had a blush or two from his article on Colin Ferrel and more recently on Jude Law. Setting all that aside, though, I found an intriguing young man who seemed to love what he does and he does it quite well. I had to ask him a few questions and asked him if I could interview him. He graciously said, "Yes." So here are my questions and his answers.

What one thing about computer security would you have computer users understand?

That technology is constantly changing and with that comes the constant need to protect yourself from the numerous amount of security issues facing computers today. It's important to stay informed about things such as viruses, software patches and spyware...but don't be too paranoid. Yes, the Internet can be a dangerous place, although for the average computer user, the chances that a hacker solely targets you is unlikely. A hacker is much more likely to go after a large corporation where the "pot of gold" on the other end is higher than the average Joe's home PC.

What is the most dangerous, or foolhardy, thing a person can do with their computer regarding security?

Use Windows straight out of the box. Ha-ha, tech joke that many probably won't get. Seriously though, connecting to the net without first turning on a firewall! Even the built-in Windows firewall is better than nothing. If you fail to turn on your firewall and connect to the net for the first time, literally within minutes you will be infected with MSBlast or another virus. That is just a fact and a scary one at that.

What is the first thing a person should get in the habit of doing to protect their computer?

There are a few things people should get into the habit of doing, but #1 would be to turn on your firewall. Then go to the Windows Update site and download/install the service packs and patches. Next I would install some anti-virus software (I like Norton AntiVirus) and allow it to run in the background to protect you. You may also want to install some anti-spyware software too (I like the free Ad-Aware SE). Lastly use good passwords for your router, Windows login, e-mail and any account you own. A good password should be at least 8 characters long and contain both upper and lower case letters, numbers and symbols. It also should not contain any words that could be found in a dictionary or could be easily tied to you - such as your spouse's name. The more random, the better.

Is it a good thing to have Windows automatically download updates?

Yes, definitely. By allowing Windows to automatically download updates, it saves you the hassle of going to their site and searching for new patches and fixes. Let your computer do the work for you. Then you can sit back and relax knowing your system is protected.

There are all kinds of tracking devices out there. Are there any dangers with these? What security level do you recommend with cookies?

Cookies get a bad rap. There are some "bad cookies", but most cookies aren't as harmful as the media plays them out to be. Basically a cookie just saves some preferences for you to speed up your surfing habits. For example, a cookie can hold your username and password for you on a message board. As long as you are the only person who uses that computer, then it's not a security concern. Most people don't realize that no matter where you go online, nearly every site tracks you to some extent. For the average user, I would suggest "medium" security level when it comes to cookies. You will find the option in IE by going to Internet Options and clicking on the Privacy tab.

Since the "average hacker" goes after the pot of gold at the big corporations, should we be wary of doing financial business over the internet with our credit card companies and our banks? What precautions should we take with that?

Well I know many people do their banking and other financial business online. However, I don't. I guess when it comes to my banking, mutual funds, stocks, ect I like to do it the old fashion way. It's very sensitive data and being in the line of work that I am in, I have seen so many banks and stock broker agencies get compromised. It doesn't happen that often and usually when it does it only affects a rather small percentage of accounts. Still, one is too many for me to take the risk on. Yes, virtually all of that data is stored on computers somewhere, I just don't want to be punching in my assets from another computer increasing the risk of someone intercepting the information during a transaction. Now that's just me and perhaps I am a little paranoid and overly cautious so it's a personal decision everyone has to make on their own. The risks are slim, but there is always a risk so don't be fooled thinking 100% secure.

Now I do use PayPal for money transactions online such as purchasing something on eBay. I've bought products from numerous sites, both small and large companies and I have never had a problem with my credit card information being misused. I do pay close attention to my credit card and bank statements that I get in the mail and I suggest everyone keep in eye on those to detect any fraudulent use that may occur. It's a good habit to get into whether you pay bills online or offline because cyber criminals may be the new breed of "bad guy", but the good old fashion offline crook still exists too. To keep safe, only shop with reputable businesses online. Even an online business should be listed with the BBB so if you have any doubt, check with them. Only enter personal information via a website that uses security certificates and encrypts their data. Never give your credit card or other personal information via an e-mail or IM. If you are asked to do that, be aware that you are probably being scammed. Get yourself a PayPal account. They are free , easy to use and widely accepted form of payment on just about every site.

Without getting too technical, what is the worst thing a virus can do? Since anti-virus software is not 100% effective, is there anything we should beware of contracting viruses?

A virus can do minor to major damage depending on what virus you have. Viruses can be as harmless as just changing your homepage in IE to a porn site or they can be as damaging in terms of erasing your entire hard drive or configuring your computer in a way that allows the hacker total control over your computer. A keylogger is another problem that many viruses carry. A keylogger collects every login (username/password) and every word you type. Some viruses can do so much damage that they can even cause problems with the hardware in your computer - changing the BIOS settings on your motherboard and literally frying your system. To stay away from viruses, it's a good idea to not download any file online that you know little about. Adult websites and file sharing sites are notorious for being infected with viruses. Stick with reputable websites and only download software from sources you trust.

I have noticed quite a bit of spam advertising in comments on different blogs. Is there anything we can do to prevent this? Is there anything a person can do to Outlook to make sure the real spam goes to the junk email bin and the good emails go to the inbox?

Yes and yes. For some, blog spam has become a real problem. Fortunately for me I have seen little of it on my own blog, but I have seen a ton of it on other blogs. I'm not sure why one person gets hammered with it and another does not, but I'm thinking it has more to do with the post topics. For instance, when I posted about anything medical, I saw my blog getting spam comments about diet pills or sexual enhancement drugs. Now that may just be a coincidence, but spammers in general use bots to send out their messages. Therefore, keywords are selected on a blog to make the spam more "topic specific" and first appear to be a relevant comment when in fact it's nothing more than an annoying form of an advertisement gimmick. Blogger has taken recent measures to help eliminate spam and give bloggers some control of who and how comments can be posted to their blogs. It's called "Word Verification for Comments" and more information can be found at http://buzz.blogger.com/2005/08/word-verification-for-comments.html

For e-mail spam in Outlook, you can adjust some settings to help filler out the junk. The best spam filter system is done on the network's server which would mean your ISP would need to help you out, but for the sake of your question, we are going to focus on filtering out spam on the users end using just the Outlook program. It can automatically move spam from your Inbox to your Deleted Items folder or to any other folder you specify. Outlook creates a folder called Junk Mail, where you can move junk e-mail and then review it before deleting. Or you can have junk e-mail delivered to your Inbox, but color coded so you can easily identify it. The list of terms that Outlook uses to filter suspected junk e-mail messages can be found in a file named Filters.txt. You can also filter messages based on the e-mail addresses of junk and adult content senders, allowing you to move or delete all future messages from a particular sender. You can review the Junk Senders list and add and remove e-mail addresses from it. For more information on this and the step-by-step instructions, just open Outlook and type in the keyword "spam filter" in the help section of Outlook.

What is a day in the life of a computer security consultant like?

It varies from day to day and depends on the client. Some clients require very basic security needs and routine work, while other clients request tighter security and are more demanding. No matter how big or small the client is, the initial consultation service is the same. I'll meet with them, listen to what their problems and needs are, then I'll give my advice on how I can help them. If they like what I have to say, then I will begin putting together a plan of what needs to be done, how often and of course the cost. After we reach an agreement, I get a contract signed and the job begins. What I do is quite different and much more involved than what a typical IT guy does. It is somewhat difficult to sum up or explain, but the best way I know how to say it is that I do reverse engineering. What that means is that I usually work from the outside in. A company may feel their network is secure, but they want to make certain, so they call on me. I will find their weaknesses and security holes for them before a hacker does. I find what needs to be secured or fixed and protect the company from a possible attack in the future. In some cases a company has already fallen victim to an attack, so I am called on to do the clean-up work and prevent a similar situation happening to the company again. Some days can be very stressful, especially when I work for the government. The best part is that everyday there is something new. I love to learn and "outsmart the bad guy". Technology always changes and for me, keeping up with it and ahead of hackers is a fun challenge. It's rewarding to know at the end of the day you may of helped protect a company from losing millions of dollars in damage. Better yet, that you help secure places like the Pentagon. Not too many people can say that at the end of a workday.

What do you consider the most interesting thing about what you do?

I guess if you are into technology at all, then a lot of what I do may be interesting to people. For the average computer user, what I do is probably over their head and I don't mean to say that to sound rude, but it can be confusing and hard to explain to someone who isn't up on all the terms and things of that nature. I'm not sure if this is really "interesting" as much as it is "shocking", but the public would be surprised at what information government keeps on you. It's also surprising to work for some well respected businesses and colleges and find out that they are central servers for kiddie porn rings! It's very disturbing and not something you can just pull someone aside and let them know they are caught and give a reprimanding too. Other interesting/shocking things include the unwavering amount of trust even security companies have in terms of believing that they are "un-hackable". Let me make it clear that there is no such thing as 100% secure. I lost count at the number of businesses that "secure" the most sensitive data with default logins such as admin/password.

You have an extremely successful blog. Any advice for us new Bloggers or even for those who have been blogging for a while?

Thanks, but I'm not sure it's as successful as some other blogs. I think the best advice I can give to a new or veteran blogger is...blog because you HAVE something to say, not because you WANT something to say. I see too many blogs with nonsense posts about nothing other than what the person ate for lunch. It doesn't make for good reading material. Personally I am more inclined to read and return to a blog that has some sort of theme or purpose. There are so many blogs out there which are just personal diaries and sometimes that can be entertaining to see, but unless I actually know the person, I tend to not care about their personal trials and tribulations of everyday life. I think you should blog about what you are passionate about. For me that is technology and of course I have other interests that I blog about too, but it really does show when a writer is passionate about what they are talking about. Their enthusiasm and energy comes thru to the reader in their words. That to me makes for a good blog. Plus creative post topics, a little humor and a hidden talent for writing also helps.

One of my own secret trips that I can give people is to link back to other bloggers. Be kind to them and open to their different points of views. You will see they will return that same respect and curtsey to you. I devote a section on my site for every person who stops by my blog and leaves a comment. As a thank you and a way to expand my "blog community", I add a link to their blog. It's also a good way for me to easily find their blog and visit there too. Lastly, keep in mind that it's "quality and not quantity" that makes a successful blog. If you can update your blog daily, that's great but if you feel obligated to post something/anything, then perhaps you are posting too frequently. For me, I never like to make blogging feel like a chore. I do it because I like it and I feel I have something to share. When blogging feels more like work and less like fun to me, then that is the day I quit.

Any other comment you'd like to make?

Most of the computer security advice and tips I gave above focused on Windows mostly because the majority of computer users are on Windows. I hope that this interview was bother informative and entertaining for everyone to read. In no way is a complete look at what I do or who I am as a person, but I think most people already know that a single interview can not reveal everything there is to know about someone. I know thru this interview at times I rambled and at other times I left things out, I apologize for that. Although generally it should give you a somewhat basic idea of what my job is about and a little inside look at who I am. Thanks to Gina for taking the time to write these questions up and I'm flattered that you felt I was a subject worthy of interviewing. It's been fun!

The Man, Diamondkt

Interview with Diamondkt continued...

Are you a Christian? (Had to ask :)

I'm Catholic, but not really active anymore. Growing up we went to church every Sunday and on all the holidays and just about every holy day. These days I've gotten away from that. No reason why I don't attend mass like I once did, perhaps one day I will become more involved again.

Tell us who the real Diamondkt is. What do you hope for in the next year? Five years from now?

I would say the real "DIAMONDKT" is nobody special, but my friends and family would disagree. They would classify my as a pretty bright guy with a good sense of humor and big heart. I'm not your typical tech head. I would rather be outside snowboarding, mountain biking, playing hoops, ect than inside on a computer. I believe in working hard, but playing even harder. I do work alot of hours, but contrary to what many think, I also make time for other things. I love riding speed bikes and my Ducati never fails to bring a smile to my face every time I get on it. I am defiantly described as an adrenaline junkie! Don't get me wrong, I love technology and all that computer stuff, but I do know how to balance things out. I enjoy working out and going out on the weekends and to me the best weekend is a one spent AWAY from a computer. Everyone needs to "unplug" now and then.
A year from now, my goal is to have my business a little more established. I started my own business about a year ago and since then I have built-up a pretty good client list, but there is always room to improve and grow. I'm looking to hire some more engineers to work for me and perhaps get myself an assistant to help with all the paper work, phone calls and meeting scheduling. Right now I handle that on my own, but a year from now I may need a hand in doing that. Five years from now, I hope that my hard work is paying off enough that I can have the luxury of spending extra time with my (future) wife and kids. I would like to have my work schedule flexible enough that it wouldn't be a problem to take off work for little league games or take the wife away for the weekend - just the two of us to escape everyday life. I want to be able to help out with a family as much as I can, be a real hands-on type of Dad and not just one who keeps a roof over their head and food on the table.

I think 5 years from now will be a point in my life where my business is established enough that I can delegate much of the work out and be able to focus on not only being successful in my career, but successful as a husband and father as well. To me, success should not just be measured by what you do for a living or how much money you make. I think it's the overall man that you are. (Hope that doesn't sound cheesy, having a hard time wording that.)

What is your favorite thing to do on vacation?

Sometimes my favorite thing to do on a vacation is absolutely nothing. I can just lay on a beach listening to the ocean waves, let my mind mind relax and my body unwind. I might opt to make a little sand castle or bury myself in the sand (it's the kid in me). I may even dig around in the water to find a hermit crab. I like a nice quiet seafood dinner out and then take a stroll at night along the boardwalk. Then the next day I like to do a fun activity like ride a waverunner, boogie board, rock climb, anything that gets my body moving. I don't like just sitting around and being lazy. Kicking back and doing nothing is fun for a day, but after that I want action! I'm a active person and anyone who vacations with me should feel the same if we are going to have fun together.

What was your first job?

My very first job as a kid was cutting grass for my Dad. Computers weren't really big back then and I had no real interest in anything but sports - lots of sports! In fact, I didn't find a interest for technology until college. I was introduced to computers back in elementary school and had some basic computer classes even thru high school, but the teachers presented the material in such a way that it made me literally HATE computers! It wasn't until somewhere during my freshman year in college that I picked up computer stuff and the majority of what I know has been self-taught. I feel that is the best way to learn, at least for me it is. I discovered a whole new world which also landed me in a bit of trouble during my early "hacking days". Later on I would discover that those "hacks" would land me some great job opportunities. In this field, sometimes you don't find the job, the job finds you. Basically, my mischief opened a door for me. It was the first step in helping pave my career and to where I am today. Being bad can be good. ;)

What was the best advice you've ever received? Who gave it to you?

That's a tough one. I've received lots of great advice thru the years - mostly from my Mom, coaches and college professors. I guess some of the best advice I have been given is to believe in yourself even if nobody else does. Hard work does pay off so push yourself above and beyond your limits. It's amazing what a strong mind can overcome - trust me on that. If you can dream it, you can achieve it. That may sound cliché, but it's true. Sure it will take time, determination and a lot of hard work to get there, but it's obtainable if you want it bad enough. Everyone in life is dealt some bad cards, some more than others. So there is no reason to let the bad hand hold you back. Work with what you have and turn things around. There is nothing worse in life than someone who complains all the time or blames their hardships on everyone else. You are responsible for your own life and your own happiness. Then the people you surround yourself with will only enhance that. Choose your friends wisely and your enemies wiser. There is an old saying "don't bite the hand that feeds". Basically, everyone needs support and if you treat someone you love or care about poorly, then don't be surprised when the day comes that you need help and you reach out your hand, that they are not there to pick you up. Treat others in life as you would like to be treated. No matter where they are from or what they do, they are not beneath you.

What is the best advice you would give to someone else?

Find your passion in life! What do you love? Chances are what you love is probably also what you are good at because you devote your energy, time and heart to it. Find a way to feed off of that - literally. By that I mean you should figure out a way to do what you love for a living and still get paid for it. We all spend a great deal of the week at our jobs. Most people spend more time with co-workers than their family! So if you don't love what you do a living, change it. It's terrible to spend 40 hours or maybe even more doing a job you hate and with people you despise.

Since you are a handsome, single, successful guy, tell us what you are looking for in a mate?

Well thank you. What I look for in a woman hasn't really changed much in the last few years. Physically, I like women with an exotic type of look. I'm a sucker for pretty eyes especially. I like long hair, blonde or brunette. Generally I date women 5'5 or taller since I am 6'1 myself. I go for women with athletic builds because I enjoy working out and a woman who takes good care of her body says a lot about her personality. She tends to be dedicated, hard working, self-motivated, takes pride in her appearance and has energy for life. I like stylish women, not really high maintenance, but women who dress hip and sexy while still looking classy. A woman who can put on a sexy dress and a pair stilettos one night and then also be comfortable and look great just wearing my boxers and a tee is something I love! I'm not into fake boobs even though I've dated women with them. I do however like a nice butt like J Lo! Now personality wise, I like career/goal oriented women that in the future wouldn't mind giving that up to raise a family with me, or together we could find a way to balance career and family if she wanted that. I am able to relate to and hold a conversation longer with a woman who has more in common with me - has gone to college and has a similar background growing up or shares common interests. I enjoy a woman who can challenge my mind and hold my attention by teaching me new things.
Turn-ons would include a good sense of humor (including being able to laugh at herself at times), laid back, smart, a genuine caring nature and sex appeal. Turn-offs would include complainers, drama queens, moodiness, airheads, self-absorbed and an argumentative nature - she's right/you're wrong type of attitude. Someone who looks a the glass as half empty rather than half full when it comes to life is a downer in my book and not someone I want to hang out with. Someone who is condescending and spiteful towards me or others are two characteristics I can't stand. I'm a spontaneous and adventuress person and I enjoy a woman who is up for anything at anytime. She needs to be secure with herself because I'm a bit of a flirt, although I would never cheat or do anything to put any unnecessary stress on a girlfriend or the relationship. I like women who can be open with me and in turn I will be open with them. Sometimes a problem comes up or an occasional "relationship talk" needs to take place. I can handle that, but I can't handle a woman who always want to discuss the relationship in terms of "where is this going, when and what, explain this and that" - ugh, it drives me crazy!
Unlike a lot of other guys, I love romance and like doing little things for a woman. Traditional red roses are too "by the book" for me. I like to add a twist on that and make every gift or thing I do or say a little unique - things that only she and I would get like "inside meanings or jokes" if that makes sense [and] sweet enough to take over to meet my Mom or can handle herself well at a business cocktail party. A woman who never has pity on me, but yet can lift me up and encourage me when I am down is a wonderful thing. Someone who will stand-by me and support me thru thick and thin. Someone who will love me on a bad day just as much as a good day - unconditional. Someone who I can trust with my heart and always feel it's in safe hands is a beautiful thing.

I noticed that you didn't put "Christian woman" as a qualification for your future wife. Was that something assumed or is that important to you?

I know some people who are raised to date only within their race or religion put an emphasize on certain things when looking for a mate. Personally, I don't feel that same way. I know a Jewish girl would most likely not date me because I am not Jewish and that is fine, but it's not really important to me what religion someone I date is. I was raised Catholic so if I date or marry someone who is also Catholic, then great, but I don't have a problem dating or marrying someone outside my religion...as long as it's not a problem for her either.

Only One

I know you've seen this before. I have seen it several times and saved it, but after my last computer crash, I lost it and thought it gone forever. Then I was at BJ Hoff's Grace Notes today and not only did I find it again, but now I know who wrote it! BJ Hoff wrote it during a time of great trial. Thank you, BJ, for bringing back a friend I thought I'd lost.
Only One
I've often heard your question. This message is My answer. You're concerned about the hungry in the world, the millions who are starving and in need ...
and you ask Me, 'What can I do?' Feed One.
You grieve for all the unborn children murdered every day ...
and you ask Me, 'What can I do?' Save one.
You're haunted by the homeless poor who wander city streets ...
and you ask Me, 'What can I do?' Shelter one.
You feel compassion for those who suffer pain and sorrow and despair ...
and you ask Me, 'What can I do?' Comfort one.
Your heart goes out to the lonely, the abused, and the enslaved ...
and you ask Me, 'What can I do?' Love one.
Remember this: Two thousand years ago the world was filled with those in need, just as it is today, and when the helpless and the hopeless called out to Me for mercy, I sent a Savior ...
Hope began with only One.

A message to take to heart Psalm 46

Psalm 46
God Our Refuge
For the choir director. A song of the sons of Korah.
According to Alamoth.
1 God is our refuge and strength,
a helper who is always found
in times of trouble.
2 Therefore we will not be afraid,
though the earth trembles
and the mountains topple
into the depths of the seas,
3 though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with its turmoil. Selah
4 [There is] a river—
its streams delight the city of God,
the holy dwelling place of the Most High.
5 God is within her; she will not be toppled.
God will help her when the morning dawns.
6 Nations rage, kingdoms topple;
the earth melts when He lifts His voice.
7 The LORD of Hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our stronghold. Selah
8 Come, see the works of the LORD,
who brings devastation on the earth.
9 He makes wars cease throughout the earth.
He shatters bows and cuts spears to pieces;
He burns up the chariots.
10 "Stop [your fighting]—and know that I am God,
exalted among the nations, exalted on the earth."
11 The LORD of Hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our stronghold. Selah
With love like this how can we tremble?
With power like this how can we falter?
With God like this how can we fail?

Confessions of a Diaster Junkie

I do not know why I have not been able to drag myself away from the news channels. All my family are fine, one house is somewhat damaged and needs a new roof but the other house in Moss Point is perfectly fine. No one is hurt. I praise God for all of that, yet I weep at the misfortune of others. My older daughter lost everything. My younger daughter didn't even lose power.

From God's eye view, New Orleans is just a speck on the horizon. Can't even tell where it is. And yet, God is absolutely in control. We may have trials and tribulations beyond the scope of our imaginations, but not beyond God's ability to protect, test and save all for His glory. Why do bad things happen to good people? Because there is much to learn, much to minister, much to bring glory to God. God does not get glory from the bad things that happen. God is glorified when His people act like Jesus and when people who do not know Him, get the opportunity to meet Him through His children.

Here in North Louisiana, people have opened their homes and churches and other places; food aplenty is spread on tables; sacks of groceries are given to those who are now living in their RVs and travel trailers with no money to buy food; schools have opened their arms to children that have no homes. Amidst all the kindness there are faces of tragedy because they have lost everything. Among those are the dissatisfied who will never be satisfied. They are in a cool, dry place with food and water and a cot to sleep in, but they "want out..." It comes from a society of entitlement. These are the people who are born into poverty but believe they are owed a livelyhood whether they work for it or not. Or is it a majority that feels that way? The bible teaches that those who do not work, do not eat. Where did we as a society go wrong?

I think it is the fault of yellow journalism. The anger gets heard and the gratefulness takes the back seat. Gratefulness is not exciting. Because most of those affected have dark skins, then it must be a racial issue. Poppycock. It is a disgrace to journalism that most of the reporters I have seen the past several days have sensationalized and catagorized the events to the point that it absolutely must be someone's fault the people in this trauma were not instantly "beamed" to safety.

The question was asked of a reporter, "How long did it take you to get where you are standing?" The reporter answered, "Two days." General Honore said, "Well, there you go. That's why it's taken us so long to get here." Reporters latched on to the fact that school buses were standing by for 2 days before being allowed to go into New Orleans. Some of our buses were in that pack. The drivers were told before they left that they would not go into the war zone without armed guards on each bus. Why is that?

Did you see the story about the overturned bus just north of Lafayette and south of Opelousas? An angry evacuee tussled with the bus driver while the bus was in motion! The bus overturned and 17 were injured and 1 was dead. That's why.

As I watched this story unfold, I noticed quite a bit of idiocy in the reporting, false accusations, false reports, hysteria, blatant use of emotional words designed to wrench the heart and stir up anger. I saw lots of angry reporters. My friends, when that happens, then the journalist disappears and inflamation appears. For me, the travesty of horrible journalism was surpassed by the tragedy of the storm aftermath, absolutely. The aftermath will be cleaned up and cities will be rebuilt, but I'm afraid that the integrity of journalism is now an oxy moron.

You can go to Dee Andrews blog to get a close up view of what's going on at the coast. Her husband is running a newspaper in Picayune and is printing real news, not slanted or canted toward an agenda.

Here is what I know. My brother-in-law, Jimmy, is an operations manager for Acadian Ambulance and was working for 36 hours straight with triage. The helicopter evacs dropped off patients and left. Jimmy said he saw more dead bodies in the past few days than he had seen his entire career as an EMT and a Paramedic. I ache for the unsung heros. Those doctors and nurses who would not leave their patients and those paramedics that worked night and day to save as many lives as they could. The enormity of this cannot be fathomed.

We have been praying for all those effected by Katrina, join us.