Friday, December 28, 2007

i've gone domestic.

well, i think that i can officially say that i've gone domestic. it's taken me 27 years to get here. i was extremely blessed this christmas (and birthday, since it is only 9 days before christmas), and the majority of the gifts that i asked for were things for my house. so i thought i'd share my blessed domesticity with you...


i always thought that i'd have to get married to get one of these!


i love this bedspread! i spent over 2 hours ironing it and trying to get the blanket inside the bedspread cover. it was quite interesting... but i conquered.


now i can make individual servings of mac-and-cheese.


a friend gave me this for one of my favorite snacks, chips and salsa!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

out of the mouth of babes...

saw this on a friend of mine's blog, and i wanted to post it here as well.

this soundclip is of a 12 year old boy calling in to KSBJ, a Christian radio station in Houston, TX. you should listen.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

survey says...

i have decided to do some surveys to see how people view aspects of religion. this survey specifically deals with the church and the studying the bible. there are only 5 questions, and i would really appreciate your help. i will put the results (no personal info will be included) on the blog so that you can see what others believe and think as well. all i ask is that you answer honestly.

Click Here to take survey

Sunday, October 14, 2007

boston pictures

here are more pictures from boston.

Friday, October 12, 2007

boston, october 10-14th

this past summer, my dad told me that he and my mom would be coming to boston for a meeting he had to attend, and he asked me if i would like to come with them... of course, i quickly agreed to the trip! boston has always been a place that i've wanted to visit, so i jumped at the opportunity to come. here's an update on our trip:

day one, wednesday:
mom and i had to catch a flight at 6:20 am, which made for a very early day. mom woke up at 3:20... which meant, i woke up then as well. after sleeping for most of the plane ride, we arrived at our hotel, the marriott in copley park. since dad flew in from corpus christi, he didn't arrive until around 2:00 pm... so we took advantage of the time in the room to catch up on some more sleep. the first "touristy" thing that we did was grab dinner at cheers, which is the restaurant that inspired the television show, cheers. after dinner, my parents had to go to a reception for the convention dad was attending, so i opted to hang in the hotel room and be lazy.



day two, thursday:
our second day started with brunch at a local tearoom called, tealuxe. both of my parents love hot tea, so it was a necessity to make sure we visited this local favorite. after lunch, we jumped onto the subway to visit harvard, which is one place that i have always wanted to see. when i was looking into masters programs, i had considered applying to harvard's divinity (theology) school, but had opted for a more conservative program, as well as a school a little cheaper and closer to home. it was great being able to walk on a campus that has been around since 1636. after harvard... and heading back to the hotel for a nap, we ate a great seafood dinner at legal seafood, where the slogan is, "if it's not fresh, it's not legal."







day three, friday:
our day started with an early lunch at the pour house, where i had fish and chips and some amazing homemade mac-n-cheese. after the great meal, we toured fenway park, the home of the boston red sox. my dad raised me to be an avid sports fan, particularly baseball... so seeing such a historical ball field was quite exciting to me...we were able to stand on the green monster, see the original stadium chairs, and see where babe ruth and many other greats played. once again, we made time for afternoon naps and then we "fell into the gap" and went clothes shopping (i got a great deal on a coat... hopefully it will be cold enough for you'll see me wearing it soon). after shopping, we went and had an amazing italian dinner at papa razzi's (the last picture in this section is one of the dining room at the restaurant), and then settled into the hotel room to watch the red soxs play the cleveland indians for the first game of the american league champion series. go red sox (who won the game, by the way)!!









day four, saturday:
This was our last day, so we decided to make the most of it. my mom wanted to go and see some art galleries and shop, while dad and i decided to go and "see" boston by walking the freedom trail. the freedom trail is a "red-brick walking trail that leads you to 16 nationally significant historic sites, these sites include: a unique collection of museums, churches, meeting houses, burying grounds, parks, a ship, and historic markers that tell the story of the American Revolution and beyond." check out the website, www.thefreedomtrail.org, for a map of the trail and a virtual tour of the sites. while walking the trail, dad and i made a few "extra" stops along the way. the first stop was trani, which is an ice cream store that injects ice cream into cupcakes, brownies and other fantastic treats. i'm including a picture of my chocolate cupcake, with chocolate ice cream inside, that was then covered in chocolate syrup. YUM! then after eating my dessert first, we found a little (so little that we sat at a table with two other people, who turned out to be great company so we didn't mind) italian restaurant in little italy, g'vanni's. after a great meal, we met up with my mom at faneuil hall market place for some shopping and site seeing, then we made the long trek back to our hotel. my dad estimates that we walked over 20 miles today... but we were able to see a lot of boston on foot, which was a great experience. we then finished off the night with another great seafood dinner, and game 2 between the red sox and the indians. go red sox!







it was a great trip. i will try and put a link up to an online photo album so that you can check out all of the pictures from the trip.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

what's been going on...

god is faithful. the past several months have provided some interesting times of frustration, learning and sadly have displayed my lack of trust. if you know me, you are probably well aware that i am not one who asks for help, instead i try and help everyone else, and yet i have found myself in countless situations in which i have had to rely on others just to accomplish the simple tasks of a normal day.

let me expand on the situation... in april the great denton floods happened (click here to read a previous blog about it). as i mentioned in the previous blog, my car experienced some damage... the damages were only partially paid for by insurance, and left me with quite a large balance on my credit card. (once again, if you know me... you know that i have always paid my credit card of each month, and now that was not a possibility). frustration, is a mild term to describe how i felt about my newly-claimed debt, especially as i attempted to budget how i was going to pay it off (and when you are in ministry, that can seem quite discouraging).

fast forward to a few months ago... even though i had been making substantial (on my budget, very substantial) payments on the credit card, i knew that i wasn't making a dent. so i started to pray. i had tried to figure out how to manipulate my monthly income so that i can not only live, eat and pay bills... but pay off this debt. (i was a business major in college, so i figured i should be able to figure this out) like i mentioned, i started to pray. why didn't i just start there in the first place? so often we try and fix our problems first and then "turn them over to God."

during the past few years, i have been blessed with some opportunities to lead worship for different ministry events... so i started to think that maybe i could try and book some more worship opportunities to provide the extra income needed, and with my previous music business background... i figured it would be relatively easy to find a few places to play each month. so i started to look into what i would need to do to "promote" myself (which was very odd... i was the promoter, not the promotee), but at least i had a good idea of where to start. so i've spent the past few months just trying to get myself prepared to contact people about worship leading opportunities. i haven't called anyone. i haven't emailed anyone. i've been so busy with work that i haven't really been able to do hardly anything to get things going, so i figured i'd set a goal of getting things booked in the spring.

then god took over.

the phone calls started to come in... and amazingly enough, i am booked for every sunday and almost every tuesday from october through december. i am also leading worship for a retreat in november. check out what God has done:

Date Venue
10.07.07 Crossroads Church
10.09.07 New River Fellowship - Relevant
10.16.07 New River Fellowship - Relevant
10.21.07 Crossroads Church
10.28.07 Parkway Hills Baptist Church
11.04.07 Parkway Hills Baptist Church
11.06.07 New River Fellowship - Relevant
11.09.07 University Baptist Church Youth Retreat
11.10.07 University Baptist Church Youth Retreat
11.11.07 Crossroads Church
11.13.07 New River Fellowship - Relevant
11.18.07 Crossroads Church
11.20.07 New River Fellowship - Relevant
11.25.07 Crossroads Church
11.27.07 New River Fellowship - Relevant
12.02.07 Crossroads Church
12.04.07 New River Fellowship - Relevant
12.09.07 Crossroads Church
12.11.07 New River Fellowship - Relevant
12.16.07 OFF
12.23.07 OFF
12.30.07 Crossroads Church

for more information with what has been going on with the music ministry God has given me, check out my myspace page: www.myspace.com/stephaniegatesmusic.

it's amazing what happens when you have nothing to do with it... and God takes over.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

free burma


Free Burma!


i read about this on my friend Jeremy's blog. if you haven't heard about this yet, you need to jump on board. tomorrow bloggers around the world will be uniting in support of the people of Burma as they rise up to oppose the militant dictatorship currently in control of the government in their country. go to Free-Burma.org and register to be a part of the day.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

texas bsm stuff

most of you know that i work at the baptist student ministry at the university of north texas, and i thought i'd fill you in on some of the exciting things that have been going in across the state and the world with our texas BSMs.

Go Now Missions is the missions organization that is a part of Texas BSM, and through this organization students like you are changing the world for Christ. Here are the Go Now stats for 2006-2007:

students serving in West Africa

* Students served in 24 countries and 20 states
* 52 semester missionaries (serving in 10 U.S. states and 19 in foreign countries)
* 91 summer missionaries - serving 10 weeks (35 in the U.S. and 38 in foreign countries)
* 76 impact missionaries - serving 2 to 4 weeks (2 in the U.S. and 17 in foreign countries)


serbia.jpg

Financial Giving - $550,414.98 raise to send these missionaries
* $158,841 given by Texas campus BSMs
* $297,365.91 given by Partners in Missions
* $72,393.24 given sacrificially by the students who served
* $21,815.11 other gifts and offerings


students serving in Arlington, TX

269 professions of faith

118 other decisions


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The Focus Conference on September 7-9, 2007 was amazing. Here is a quick recap of the weekend:

* Approximately 2000 in attendance

* 350 served at mission opportunities in Arlington

* 1500 students trained in such areas as leadership, leading small groups, community building, sharing their faith, prayer, world view, cross cultural relationship with Muslim students, etc.

* 130 students expressed interest in serving as Go Now missionaries

Student Responses to ACT NOW opportunities
* 1085 students signed the BWA Micah Challenge Petition to end human slave trafficking

* $300 given to world hunger causes

* 44 letters written to religious prisoners around the world through Voice of Martyrs

* 313 Bibles addressed and sent to China through Bibles Unbound

* 3 water wells sponsored through Water for All

* $960 given to translate 40 verses of scripture into the Walmi language through One Verse

* 519 jars of peanut butter and jelly given to Mission Arlington

Check out the
Focus pictures!

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CHECK OUT our Texas BSM stats:

* 131 Baptist Student Ministers including Directors, Associates, Interns, Campus Missionaries and other volunteers
* 120 Campuses
* More than 80,000 students personally touched by BSM
* More than 16,000 students involved on a consistent basis in BSM
* 27,000 plus evangelistic contacts with students

Monday, September 10, 2007

kanye vs. 50 cent

so have you heard about the rivalry between kanye west and 50 cent? the skinny of the drama is: both 50 cent and kanye are putting out new albums on sept. 11, and 50 cent says he will retire if kanye sales more albums than he does (click here to read the story).

a friend of mine (andrew crosby) blogged about the rivalry, and since i liked his idea, i thought i'd plug his post, here it is:
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
so, i was reading a little online about the feud between kanye west and 50 cent. normally i wouldn't care at all and would just kinda laugh and move on. but then i saw that 50 cent said he would retire if kanye's album outsold his in their first week. and this got me interested. i think it's the civic duty of all americans to bring about the retirement of 50 cent, and i think i know 2 ways that this can happen on the grassroots level.

1. buy the kanye album and tell all of your friends to do the same. and

2. more importantly. make a trip early tomorrow morning to your music retailers such as best buy, circuit city, target, and wal-mart. go ahead and grab your copy of kanye's album and then move on to wherever they are displaying all of the 50 cent albums. then, load your basket with ALL of the 50 cent albums and move out of the cd section of the store. for wal-mart and target slowly start to unload your basket of 50 cent's albums as you move throughout the store. a couple of discs with the milk, a stack behind men's underwear, 3 or 4 behind some cans of soup, a stack in the arts and crafts section, etc. you get the idea. for best buy and circuit city you'll want to "reorganize" the discs. i'd say aim for the adult pop sections. your billy joels, neil diamonds, elton johns, etc.

uncle sam needs you. we can do it.

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i might just give in and go along with his idea... so what do you think? if kanye wins, would 50 cent actually really retire? we can only hope.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

the real jesus

here is a video by the band downhere for their song, the real jesus. great song. check it out.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

philos - the next great american band

here is a band made up of some of my friends (vince, michael and kenny)... and their friends. here's me supporting.



you can also check them out on myspace.

you might notice that the "colorist" from the revlon super bowl commercial is in the band, so i'll give you that video as well so that you can see kenny hanging withe sheryl crow.

Monday, August 6, 2007

wood floors

some friends of mine recently bought a new house and did some great renovations before they moved in, and i gladly jumped at the opportunity to learn how to do some home improvement "stuff." along with repainting the whole house they decided to install wood floors... here are some pictures of our handiwork. we're quite proud.


so how do you think the floors turned out?

Friday, August 3, 2007

dr. mike stroope's 8 principles

last week i was in waco for a work retreat, which means that all of the bsm (baptist student ministry) staff of texas got together for a few days at baylor university to fellowship, grow and relax. the time there was very enjoyable and provided numerous opportunities of which i hadn't expected. one of those opportunities was to experience the teaching of dr. mike stroope, a missions professor for truett seminary.

dr. stroope challenged us with these 8 principles... and then asked us to pick one of which we would actively apply to our lives. here are his 8 principles with some added information he gave for each point:

1. act out who you actually are:
a. acts 1:8 - shall be witnesses
b. you are the one who points to Christ. (k. barth)
c. you don't go witnessing, you are a witness.
d. you must decrease who you are so that Christ can increase in your life

2. build our lives on His Word (Bible):
a. the Bible must be the foundation of our lives and we must read/memorize it
b. we must move from a knowledge-based discipleship to an obedience-based discipleship
c. realize that we "know too much" - what are you going to do about what you know?
d. we must have a radical doing of the Word
e. Jesus' fiercest judgment is on the hypocrites

3. find community:
a. formation of our lives happen in community - we must be people who share lives together with the purpose of being transformed.
b. we must live an open life in front of others

4. act at the Spirit's impulse:
a. we are spiritual beings, so God speaks and prompts us by the Spirit
b. God wants to act in and through our lives

5. we see people:
a. we look @ people, but we don't see people - we usually look past people to see someone else
b. we need new ways to see people
c. our most important tool: our eyes - we must look into people's lives (they need
acknowledgment)

6. live at the margins:
a. we must move from the center to the margins of life - the center is where we feel safe
b. the margins are hard to deal with because we give up power/privilege
c. the margins are where we have to trust God

7. live simply:
a. we need to declutter our lives and move towards simplicity
b. fast from stuff that fills our lives so that we might know God

8. ask questions:
a. anticipating and asking for change, which usually means you are inviting conflict
b. God will/has to reshape and mold us

like i mentioned at the beginning of this post, dr. stroope asked us to choose one of these principles to focus on making it become more of a part of our lives... and perhaps, if you are like me, each of these points need to become more prevalent in my life. may we be challenged to grow and seek Christ in all that we are together.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

i'm not who i was

if you listen to christian radio... you have become familiar with brandon heath's song, i'm not who i was, as it is climbing its way up the charts. i've included the new music video for the song, so that if you are not familiar with the song, we can remedy that fact right now.



the first time i heard this song was when i purchased brandon's album, don't get comfortable, right after it was released. i was walking through mardels christian store's music section and saw the album with someone i recognized. brandon lead worship at the church that i attended while i lived in nashville, so of course i had to purchase the album to support a familiar face.

this song, "i'm not who i was," expresses a lot of what my past 11 months has been about. i had a very close friend... who is no longer a part of my life, and every time i hear this song it reminds me of how much i have changed and how i am no longer who i was when i knew this person. we grow through pain. we figure out who we are and what we are made of when conflict arises... and our response to handling it reveals magnitudes about our true selves.

i am sure that this song, "i'm not who i was," has grow so popular because it expresses what many of us would like to be able to say/do with someone in our past. if only we could just call them up... and talk.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

PostSecret

i recently purchased a book called postsecret. this is a book compiled by frank warren in which he asked people to mail him postcards that had secrets on them that they hadn't shared with anyone. the response that he received was amazing. not only did he receive enough post-secrets to create this book, but he keeps receiving them in the mail, so he has started posting them on his blog, www.postsecret.blogspot.com.

here are a few examples of the postcards he has received:

the book shows amazing insight into humanity and the secrets people hide. the book is not entirely "clean," but i wasn't able to put it down until i had read through the whole thing. what secrets do you hide? how free would you become if you could let them go?

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

www.abort73.com

i was reading in relevant magazine an article about abort73.com, which is a website with the sole purpose of educating about abortion.

the article interviews michael spielman, founder of abort73.com, and asks him these three questions: (i'll look at questions 1 & 3)

(1) what inspired you to start abort73.com?
(2) what's the most inspiring story you've heard as a result?
(3) what is your vision for the future of the website?

spielman says that he started the website "after realizing that abortion is not primarily a political issue so much as a people issue, a 'love your neighbor' issue." he decided that he needed to educate himself on the issue of abortion before he could educate others, and that he was "stunned by how overwhelming the biological case against abortion actually is." speilman believes that when "the secular evidence against abortion is sufficiently presented, minds change."

his vision for the website, and the accompanying resources, is to get better at communicating the message. he states, "to have a widespread cultural impact, we need widespread cultural exposure. as christians say that abortion is murder but act as if it's no big deal, nothing will change. but as christians get better understanding of what abortion is and does, their likelihood of engaging the culture with this issue increases dramatically."

Ultimately, "no matter what happens on the legal level, the more somebody knows about abortion, the less likely they are to have one, and that's a very good thing."

here is a video from the website:

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

oxford adventures revisited - part 4: God's promise is just as powerful as His presence

i've decided to post my online journal entries from my time this past summer (july) studying at oxford. the original post date for this entry: July 23, 2006.

I just attended an evangelical anglican church, and i truly enjoyed it. it was a new experience to walk into a very ornate church (cathedral like) and have a praise band there and a screen hanging from the ceiling. the man who preached (was filling in for the pastor) was michael green (an author) and he spoke on John 4:43-end of the chapter. the story is about the nobleman whose son is sick and he asks Jesus to heal him, jesus' words heal the boy, and the nobleman and his family all become believers. the main point of the sermon was that God's promise is just as powerful as His presence.

ever since i walked back to my dorm room i have been pondering that statement... i believe that this is a very important thing to remember and believe. all to often we run into those (and even believers fall into this trap) who say that "if i witnessed a miracle done by God, i'd believe then" or "how can you believe in something you cannot see?" the bible is full of stories of when Jesus performed a miracle and then the people who observed it did not have saving faith (the feeding of the 5000 is a great example, after Jesus fed the mass of people, he went out on the water and the crowd met him on the other side of the water, they asked Jesus to feed them... they were not asking for spiritual food, they wanted their physical hunger to be met once again. even the disciples who witnessed this miracle still had a hard time believing that Jesus was who he said he was). today we have the bible, the inspired word of God, which is full of God's promises to us, his people. God is revealed to the people through Jesus, Jesus is revealed to us through the Bible (Word of God), the word must then be preached to the hearers (John 1:1)... that is how God's promise is as powerful as his presence.

as i sit here (at the coffee shop once again) i am amazed how down the road from me men were killed for believe that very concept, that God's promise is just as powerful as his presence. their faith was so great that they know the promise of salvation offered to them through Jesus, and revealed through the scriptures. i am reminded how small my faith is. how feeble my trust in God is. would i give of my life for that same promise? i hope and pray that i would...

as i continue through this growth experience, i pray that God's presence become just as real in my life that others confront me for my faith. in acts the face of stephen is described as shining the glory of the Lord... may that same light shine from me, and all of us.

oxford adventures revisited - part 3: scottland adventures

i've decided to post my online journal entries from my time this past summer (july) studying at oxford. the original post date for this entry: July 21, 2006

well i made it back from scotland yesterday and i must admit that i am glad to be back at oxford. scotland was beautiful and the temperature was cooler, but all of the traveling the past five days has worn me out.

as always there is much to write... especially since my internet access has been limited. we spent 3 nights in scotland (and the drive there took us around 11 hours, because they don't know what it means to have a straight street), and the scenery is amazing. i saw more sheep since i've been here than i have in all of my life (there are actually more sheep in this country than there are people). we went to the town of st. andrews and i was able to see the remains of a castle and a cathedral, and i was able to see the old st. andews golf course (golf was invented in st. andrews and i was able to actually stand on the course - the picture is of me on the famous bridge on the 18th hole).

we stayed at the university of edinborough while we were in scotland and traveled out from there every day to see other things. we had a very interesting experience out last night there. one of my professors 16 year old daughter was staying on the same dorm hall as i was, and had her purse stolen from her room. in that purse was her passport, drivers license, money, credit card, etc. we spent a good 5 hours dealing with that... the police came, and the thief (thieves) had already purchased 3 train tickets within 20 minutes of getting the card. the number one crime in the UK is theft, and sadly we got to experience that. so now they are working on getting her passport replaced, thankfully we had to turn in copies of them to the leader of the trip, which will help make the process much quicker and smoother.

one interesting thing... when walking around in the larger cities of the UK, one would see this "look right" or "look left" painted on the ground. the brits have actually painted instructions for us dumb americans so that we know which way to look before we cross the street. i find this quite funny.

oxford adventures revisited - part 2: mind the gap

i've decided to post my online journal entries from my time this past summer (july) studying at oxford. The original post date for this entry: July 15, 2006

well once again i am back having a nice cup of tea at the coffee shop. i have neglected to inform you that this coffee house (greens cafe) is right next door to the pub (the eagle and child) where c.s. lewis and j. tolkien met to talk matters of the faith. tolkien was the one who led lewis to christ. i plan on eating at the pub sometime soon.

i spent yesterday in london and was able to see many amazing things. i am such a tourist. we saw buckingham palace, big ben, westminster abby (the outside, but we will see the inside soon), parliament, the british museum, the british library, rode the underground (subway - mind the gap is what they tell to make sure that you pay attention to the gap between the platform and the subway cart), and ate fish and chips. it was quite an experience to finally get to see everything that i've seen in pictures and on tv. i have uploaded some of the the london pictures as well.

i have this morning off and start lectures after lunch. i think that i am acclimated to the schedule, but i must admit that having class until 11 pm is still hard to get used to (i doubt i ever will, and it makes for a long day when i've been up since 6:00 am).

i will be going to church at one of the church of england's churches (which is anglican, very close to catholic, started by king henry when the catholic church would not grant him a divorce), so i am looking forward to that experience. next Sunday we want to take the oxford tube (the train) back into london to go to a service at westminister abby, which i am really looking forward to.
thank you for your prayers as i continue to experience God in new ways. until later...

oxford adventures revisited - part 1: which way is really right?


i've decided to post my online journal entries from my time this past summer (july) studying at oxford. The original post date for this entry: July 13, 2006

i have arrived to oxford and all is well... except for my sleeping pattern, but they shall adjust in due time. god is so great. i'm being challenged in new ways, of which i will write more later. i am at an internet cafe around the corner for the part of oxford i am at (it is called regents park, and is one of the 35 oxford universities). i have my own room, and i am the only single girl on the trip, which has actually been a blessing as well. i have been able to talk with some very godly men who are becoming great friends. they are looking out for me (i am on a hall with all guys, so they volunteered to give me the bathroom on the floor and go to the one downstairs, so god is revealing his servant heart through these men).
so far the hardest thing to get used to is the driving on the other side of the road. which is why my subject title is what it is... which way is really right? i am pondering which way i believe is best, and i'll let you know what i determine. =)

i was walking through the streets of oxford yesterday and came across a monument for some men who were burned for their faith (anabaptists, a religious group who were persecuted for their believe in believers baptism, and many were burned at the stake), and it has amazed me that this country has shaped the baptist heritage so much and yet after talking with the bursar of the school i'm at (we had lunch together and it was quite enlightening) i've learned that only around 5% the brits actually go to church. broke my heart. god used this nation so greatly in developing doctrine and biblical "stuff" and now it has turned its back on him. he said that the greatest unreached group are the 14-40 yr. olds... which i would say is where my heart is... who knows, maybe god might lead me back here some day, and i must admit... i don't think i'd mind that one bit!

traveling over here by myself was an adventure, once of which i don't know if i'd want to do again, but it really worked on my trust in god, so it provided numerous faith lessons. amen for that.

i'm all alone.

here is a video that my brother and some of his friends made. it's funny, so i thought i'd share it with you. the song is called 'i'm all alone' and it is from the play spamalot. my bro is the guy driving the car... with the mini-afro... and sporting the snazzy oxford t-shirt that a really nice gal bought him. =)

Monday, April 30, 2007

i survived the denton, tx flood

as some of you know, last tuesday (april 24, 2007), much of the dallas/fort worth area experienced a downpour. not just the usual spring rainfall... but some massive rain-age. much of denton (where i live) experienced flash floods, and here is a video clip of the wet craziness.


Denton, Texas Flooding - Click Here for more great videos and pictures!

while i consider myself pretty lucky, my car did lose a battle with the floodwaters. while i was able to make it home, i had to have my car towed to get the water damage taken care of. none of the damage was extensive, but the hassle was slightly frustrating, and thankfully insurance covered the claim. it was an adventure that i hadn't expected.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

today's decisions... impact tomorrow.

maybe you are like me, and right now you desire to do more
with your life. and i believe that god gives us desires and
passions so that we will focus on preparing ourselves for
what God chooses to do with us today and tomorrow. if we
focus on seriously preparing (through prayer/study/etc)
ourselves for the ministries that God brings to us
tomorrow, think about how we could impact the people that
are in our lives today. a continual pursuit of righteousness
and knowledge won't only change us personally, it will
change how others view God through our lives and example.

a friend of mine and i have been talking about 'reaping and
sowing.' here are 4 principles of reaping and sowing that
she has shared with me.
  1. you WILL reap.
  2. you will reap WHAT you sow.
  3. you will reap LATER THAN you sow.
  4. you will reap MORE THAN you sow.
** these 4 principles come from a sermon by David Jeremiah.
with keeping those principles in mind, lets look at Galatians
6:7-10.

"(7)Do not be decieved: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps
what he sows. (8)The one who sows to please his sinful
nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who
sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal
life. (9) Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the
proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.
(10)Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all
people, especially to those who belong to the family of
believers."

Exegetical Idea of this text: A Man Reaps What He Sows

Didactic Context: Written to the church in Galatia in defense of the essential New Testament truth that we are justified by faith in Christ Jesus and that we are sanctified by the obedience that comes from faith in God.

Some Introductory Principles:

  • God has ordained the principle of sowing and reaping to encourage us to be careful of what and how we sow.
  • We are reminded in this text of the seriousness of how we live before God
  • How does this apply to our lives? It reminds us of our personal responsibility before God.

Textual Divisions:

  1. You will reap in kind – A man reaps what he sows. V. 7,8
    • Mukterizo – God will not let himself be mocked, God looks at the motive of our actions – the seriousness of how we live before God
    • Reap - Every man will be rewarded according to his work, what is sown (2 Cor. 9:6-8) – the amount that you sow is important, if you sow sparingly you will reap sparingly
    • Sown for the sinful nature leads to destruction (1 Cor. 6:9 – the wicked will not inherit the Kingdom of God), sown to please the Spirit reaps eternal life
    • You must believe God’s promise that at the end of all things, whatever a man sows he shall reap
    • Personal Application: God looks at the motive behind every action and the harvest that we reap will reflect what we sow

Main Idea: The type of seed you sow determines the type of harvest that you will reap.

  1. You will reap in season – It will come in when it comes in, it will not come in early and it will not come in late. V. 9
    • Ekkakeso – (Greek) to be fainthearted in view or trial or due to fear
    • The harvest comes at the proper time, it will not be early or late
    • Constant perseverance until the end, encouragement to press on
    • Only at the proper time will the harvest be revealed
    • There is always lag-period between sowing and reaping, generally the better the type of harvest the longer it takes to develop
    • Textual Argumentation: 1 Corinthians 15:58
    • “Do all the good you can, in all the ways you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can.” John Wesley
    • Application: Your labor for the Lord is never in vain

Main Idea: Your labor for the Lord is never in vain, so do not become weary in doing what God has called you to do.

  1. You will reap more than you sow. V. 10
    • Ergazomai – (Greek) to work, labor – you must work at doing good
    • Paul is reminding the believers that we must do this day what we can because the day will come when we will have no more opportunity for service
    • Opportunity – beckons the Christians to serve whole-heartedly every day.
    • Let us do good – you are to actively pursue a course of good for others
    • All men – believers and non-believers
    • But there is a special place for Christian service among believers - We must help one another, carry one another’s burdens
    • Textual Argumentation: Proverbs 3:20
    • Application: You are always in the process of becoming who God wants you to be, so you must remember that your spiritual harvest takes time to cultivate.

Main Idea: The harvest always reflects greatly what it is made of. You are always in the process of becoming who God wants you to be, and your spiritual harvest takes time to develop.

-----

as you can see, what we do today impacts our tomorrows.
the decisions and choices we make will play a part in what
happens later. just as i mentioned earlier:
if we focus on
seriously preparing (through prayer/study/etc) ourselves for
the ministries that god brings to us tomorrow, think about
how we could impact the people that are in our lives today.
a continual pursuit of righteousness and knowledge won't
only change us personally, it will change how others view
God through our lives and example.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

youth ministry gets serious

a pastor of a local denton, tx church emailed me the article, "youth ministry gets serious" that he found on leadershipjournal.net. before i start discussing the article, i want to share with you some of the thought-provoking statistics that it offers:

- Number of teens in U.S.: 24 million
- Percentage who have attended church for a period of at least 2 months: 81%
- Percentage who have participated in at least one psychic or witchcraft activity: 75%
- Percentage of young adults who maintain active spiritual life consistent with high school years: 20%
** Stats from the barna group, www.barna.org

many youth ministers/workers/parents believe that youth do not want to attend church because they find it boring, and to combat that the church youth programs must be heavily entertainment-driven. this article discusses how "entertainment-driven" youth ministry seems to be failing. the barna group shows that "61% of american 'twentysomethings' attended church as teens but no longer attend, read the Bible, or pray."

chanon ross, youth director at knox presbyterian church in naperville, illinois is quoted as saying, "the point (was) not to do anything too weighty that would turn kids off. the old goal was to keep it light; keep it fun... while simultaneously conveying a positive, family-friendly alternative to things like MTV." ross believes that this is the reason for the mass exodus of students from the church (and personal faith). for many teens it is difficult to differentiate between the gospel and the pop-culture box they received it in. the article quotes from the book, soul searching: the religious and spiritual lives of american teenagers, instead of worshiping the holy god of the Bible, most teens follow "a combination Divine Butler and Cosmic Therapist" - someone to solve their problems and ensure happiness." they call this belief "Moralistic Therapeutic Deism.

to reverse this trend, Time reports that churches are starting to turn their focus from entertainment to teaching (theology/doctrine). they use youth pastor chris reed's ministry experience as an example of this shift. "when chris reed failed to convert a single student during a 12-month span as youth pastor of calvary baptist church in bellflower, california, he decided to make a change. reed restructured his program around heavier doses of doctrine and adult mentoring. youth rolls expanded from 70 to over 200 in a period of 6 years, with 64 teens accepting Christ in a single year." reed states, "people need to realize that youth are not the church of tomorrow; they're the church of today."

over the past 3-4 years, i have had the opportunities to work in children, youth and college ministries and i can speak from experience about the frustrations of "entertainment-driven" youth ministries. i have been the youth minister who has struggled with balancing doctrine with the pressures of planning events to draw students in. now as i work in college ministry i see first hand the products of poor teaching. as i mentioned earlier in this article, 61% of twentysomethings who attended church as teens no longer attend, read the Bible or pray. i believe that we as believers (the church) must recognize that we cannot expect today's youth (or even the church) to have a strong faith if they are not given a foundation and the tools to build up. faith is more than being able to recite Bible stories. it is more than knowing the words to every song in the hymnbook. it's about constantly pursuing a relationship with God through believing that Christ died for your sins so that you would have the opportunity to come before God. it's a constant pursuit. it's not easy. it can't be based on emotions and feelings. it has to be based on knowledge (which comes from learning). how can they believe if we have not told them (romans 10:14)? if we do not help them find their own foundation for their own faith, then when the questions (personal and from others) come up they will not be able to combat them strongly and effectively.

i will continue with this topic again soon...

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

relevant singles ministry

in august i started leading worship for the relevant singles ministry in weatherford, tx. this ministry is sponsored by the new river fellowship church and meets every tuesday night. while the ministry has been going on for over a year, last night we "launched" into a city-wide singles ministry. the majority of the people that had been attending were members of new river fellowship, so the hope is to use the ministry to reach the many singles of parker county, tx. we held the "launch" service at texas star ranch, which is located in peaster, tx (right outside of weatherford). their facilities are amazing and they have kindly agreed to let us use the ranch once a month for our worship services, which we are very excited about. we hope that by providing a meeting place that is located "outside the church walls" we will be able to reach and impact more people. God answered our prayers last night in many different ways (weather, logistics, etc), and blessed us with around 120 people (which is amazing considering that we tend to have around 30-40 on our regular tuesday night services).

this post is nothing more than just a ministry update. most of you know about the ministries that i am involved in weekly, so i wanted to let you know about what God is doing in this specific one. we would appreciate your prayers as we attempt to allow God to use us to impact the thousands of singles in parker county.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

why did Jesus eat with the disciples after His resurrection... and will we eat in heaven?

i spent this past sunday, Easter, with a good friend of mine and her family. i visited her church (Parkway Baptist), and while we were in sunday school the questions of: why did Jesus eat with the disciples after His resurrection... and will we eat in heaven came up. so just like any good seminary grad... i accepted the (unofficial) challenge to look into these questions. the sunday school lesson was based on Luke 24:36-49, which is the story of when Jesus appeared to His disciples after His resurrection.

QUESTION 1: why did Jesus eat with the disciples?
Luke 24:40-43 says, "When he said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. And while they will did not believe it because of joy and amazement, he asked them, "Do you have anything to eat?" They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate it in their presence."

Jesus shows them his body to prove that he is not a ghost:

  • The resurrection body of Jesus was a literal, tangible body of flesh and bones. It was the same body which had been buried, yet it was changed in that it was no longer subject to death. With this glorified body, Jesus could enter a room when the doors were closed (John 20:19)
  1. He appeals to their sight - he shows them his hands and feet. Christ retained the marks in his glorified body, that they might be proofs that it was he himself; and he was willing that they should be seen.
    1. Zechariah 13:6, 7
  1. He appeals to their touch - Jesus would not let Mary Magdalene touch him (John 20:17), but he allows his disciples to... they were the ones who were to preach his resurrection, and to suffer for doing so. He made them touch him so that they would be convinced that he was not a spirit.
  1. He eats with them: to show that he had a real and true body (and that it was really Jesus himself), and that he was willing to converse freely and familiarly with his disciples, as one friend with another. Peter greatly stresses this in Acts 10:41 (verse included below). Could also be to stress that they will also eat and drink with him in heaven.
      1. Acts 10:41 – “He was not seen by all the people, but by witnesses whom God had already chosen—by us who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead.” - As far as we know, Jesus was not seen by any unbelievers after His resurrection. But the apostles not only saw Him; they ate and drank with Him. This, of course, shows that the Savior’s resurrection body was tangible, material and physical.
QUESTION 2: will we eat in heaven?
  1. Luke 14:15 - "Blessed is the man who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God."
  2. Luke 22:15-16 – (The Last Supper) “And he said to them, "I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God."
    1. This references that Jesus would not keep the Passover meal till He returned to earth and set up His glorious kingdom. In verses 17 and 18, Jesus reminds them that He would not drink of the fruit of the vine again until His Millennial Reign.
  3. Rev. 19:9 – “Then the angel said to me, "Write: 'Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!' "And he added, "These are the true words of God."
    1. An angel instructs John to write a benediction for all who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb. The church is the heavenly bride; those who are invited guests are the rest of the redeemed.
  4. Matt. 8:11 – “I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven.”
so what do YOU think? why did Jesus eat with the disciples? and, will we eat in heaven? contribute to the research and discussion.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

the gospel and technology... friend or foe?

i was asked to speak at a Hispanic youth event called congresso, which is put on by the baptist general convention of texas (BGCT), and its purpose is to inspire, encourage and educate Hispanic youth. the event is being held at the university of mary hardin baylor (UMHB) in belton, tx, april 5-7, 2007. the topic that they have asked me to speak on is "what does Myspace say about me?" when i accepted the opportunity my first thought was, "wow, that's an interesting topic"... once i started researching, i realized... it was a very relevant and needed topic. they wanted me to help students to realize that you can use social networks (such as myspace) for evangelistic/outreach purposes. here are some interesting facts that i found as i was compiling info and figuring out what i wanted to speak on:

1. there are over 150 million myspace users (the number grows by millions every week, so who knows where it is currently).

2. the 2 main groups of people who are attracted to myspace: teenagers and sexual predators
3. teenagers spend on average 2.9 hours on the internet each day (82% use instant messangers, 68% are on social networks like myspace, and 28% have online blogs).
4. myspace is the 2nd most visited site on the internet (yahoo is number one)

while praying about the direction that i wanted to take in the seminars, the biggest issue that i felt i needed to discuss was identity. it is during your teenage years that identity becomes not only a dilemma, but more importantly, a quest. i defined identity as "the stability of knowing who you are." identity is not trying to figure out who you will become, rather it is based on asking questions such as: "who am i," "where am i going" and "what do i want to be." your identity determines your ability to have successful relationships and to function within the environment that you are in. if someone does not determine their identity, more than likely they will isolate themselves. i believe that identity is what makes myspace and other social networks so appealing. it provides an opportunity to either: (a) become who you want to be (want others to perceive you as) or (b) to actually express who you are. sitting in front of a computer screen feels non-threatening and allows you to interact while still isolating yourself. the fear of rejection is minimalized and relationships can become whatever you want them to be. sadly, most teenagers (and even adults) base their identity on what they see on tv, internet, magazines, ect... instead of basing it on what the Bible tells them about themselves. so let's now look at what the Bible says about identity:
1. Galatians 2:20 - "I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me."

2. Jeremiah 1:5 - ""Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations."

3. Acts 17:26 - "From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live."

4. 1 Corinthians 10:31 - "So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God."

i believe that these 4 verses are a great place to start when figuring out identity. in galatians, we learn that we are crucified to ourselves and that it is Christ who lives in us. that is a very difficult idea to grasp... here is an illustration to think on: too often christians are like mirrors, they only reflect who God is. instead of being mirrors, we must become like the moon. the moon absorbs light, and only after that can it shine. as christians, we must absorb Christ (so that he is truly living in us) to base our identity on Him. the verse in Jeremiah reminds us that we were created for a specific reason and that nothing happens out of chance and circumstance. in Acts 17:26, we see that our true purpose in life is to bring glory to God. lastly, in 1 Corinthians 10:31, we must do everything to the glory of God. a few other verses to consider are: John 15:19b and Ephesians 2:10.

I believe that it is only after we have establish our personal identity (who we are in Christ) that we can truly reach others for Christ. sadly, only 2% of american christians have actually introduced someone else to Christ... if our identity is uncertain... how can we tell others about who Christ is and what he has done in our lives?

one thing that i'll ask the students to remember is that "everything we do, no matter how outstanding, is secondary to our calling to be evangelists," and that "nothing speaks louder than a life."

remember that i mentioned that there are over 150 million users on myspace? pat williams said "there is no set way of doing it, but remember, we are constantly given opportunities to witness." i believe that once christians realize that their identity is not based on the world, but on Christ who lives in them, they can truly start to impact the world by telling their story (testimony - a story about an event in your life and how it changed your life). there are millions of lost and lonely people in the world who are hurting and searching for the hope that we as believers have. many of them turn to the acceptance they feel through the isolated involvement in online social networks... if we as believers become more creative and vocal about our faith through myspace (and other social networks) what kind of impact could we have on the world.

so is technology a friend or foe to the gospel? while there are many negative aspects to technology... i believe that we must find a way to spread the love of Christ and his saving message in the online "hang-out" places of the world. it is our choice to make technology a friend of the Gospel.

Monday, March 26, 2007

brokenness

i recently finished reading A Tale of Three Kings by Gene Edwards (click here for more info on the book). it's not too often that you find a book that truly hits you in the gut and will not let you put it down. for me, this is the first book that has done so in a very long time. the book is described as "light, clarity and comfort to the brokenhearted. many christians have experienced pain, loss, and heartache at the hands of other believers. to those believers, this compelling story offers comfort, healing, and hope."

this story is based on the biblical figures of david, saul and absalom, and discusses the leadership characteristics of each of them. edwards starts off with how God called david to royalty... and how saul felt threatened by God's divine calling on david's life. because of saul's persistent attacks on david... God was able to instill in david the brokenness he wanted him to have. edwards writes, "God has several types of people. he has people who claim to have God's authority... and don't - people who claim to be broken... and aren't. and people who do have God's authority, but who are mad and unbroken. all of these he has in abundance, but broken men and women, hardly at all. saul was God's chosen way to crush david."

edwards writes "david the sheepherder would have grown up to become king saul II, except that God cut away the saul inside david's heart. and the tools that God used to remove david's inner saul... was the outer saul." and at the end of the operation god performed on david, david was barely recognizable. God had crushed everything out of him. by earthly measures david would have been considered a shattered man, but by heaven's measures, he was a broken one. we must all be broken to ourselves before we can truly become who god calls us to be. we must allow him to chisel away the mess of who we are to break through to the parts of us that are mailable to God. "the truth was that when others saw David, they didn't recognize him. he had changed. his personality, his disposition, his total being had been altered. he talked less. he loved God more."

edwards points out the kind of man that saul was. many forget that he was anointed by God. the deliverer of israel. and yet he's remembered mostly for his madness. while there has been a lot of bad press on him, he was one of the greatest figures of human history. he was "everything people today are seeking to be... empowered with the Holy Spirit... able to do the impossible.. for God. a leader, chosen by God wtih power from God. he was also eaten with jealousy, filled with self-importance, and willing to live in spiritual darkness." when looking at saul's life one must ask, "what does this world need: gifted men and women, outwardly empowered? or individuals who are broken, inwardly transformed?"

while god used saul to shape and break david... he also used absalom to reveal the character that made david who he was. for those of you who are not familiar with absalom, he was david's son. a son who rebelled against his father... that rebellion had been in his heart for years... just as god foretold to david (2 samuel 12).

i feel that i have given you a poor representation of this book. while it looks at the lives of these three men, it does so much more than just tell a story. it brings truth to the relevance of brokenness. i don't know where your heart is. God does. i don't know what you've been through. God does. i do know that as i look at what God has done in my life, i see the situations and people that God has used to break me, to draw me closer to Him, and to beat the "stephanie" out of me to transform me into who He is calling me to be.

this book addresses brokenness... specifically brokenness that is brought on by other people (maybe other Christians) and how God uses it to mold us. i have been hurt. i have cried because of situations that have happened between myself and a friend. i have felt like giving up on people. i have felt like giving up on myself. but God has taken the brokenness and turned it into something beautiful. He's used it to shower me with His love. He has blessed me and brought me through it by putting new people in my life who He has used to continually point me back to Him.

i do not recommend books often, but this one i truly say is a MUST READ. it's a sweet story of true life and love and how God mends brokenness through His grace and power. pick it up and let me know what you think. if you can't afford your own copy. i'll buy it for you.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

UNT BSM spring break mission trip


i just got home from taking our UNT BSM students on a spring break mission trip to the rio grande valley, specifically to san benito, tx and reynosa mexico. we left on saturday (3/17) and returned back to denton on friday (3/23). the trip went amazingly well. we were blessed by perfect accommodations at borderland calvary chapel in san benito, tx. the church converted 1/3 of their facilities into a mission facility with 2 bunk rooms (each sleeping over 40 and had their own bathroom facilities), a huge common room and a large kitchen. their pastor, dwayne spearman gave us his entire week to be our "leader" and help us as we ministered to the different communities.

here is an overview of our schedule for the week:
on sunday, our students distributed information for the church in the neighborhoods surrounding the church, and then spent the rest of the evening getting things ready for the next day. on

monday we went into reynosa mexico. we spent the morning distributing rice and beans to an impoverished area. the poverty there was astounding. this picture was taken of some of the children in this area. along with passing out the rice and beans, we also walked around saying "dulce" which is spanish for candy which made the children run to us. then in the afternoon, we went to an orphanage outside of reynosa and did a vacation bible school (VBS) for around 70 children.

tuesday, we went to the first baptist church of reynosa and did light construction for them (sanding chairs/gates/metal doors, painting, etc). the church was so excited and appreciative that we were there that they went an bought enough bottled coca cola for each of us to have 4. then they went and bought chicken and sausage and grilled lunch for us. it was amazing to see how even though we were there to serve them, they wanted nothing more than to serve us. such a blessing to see the body of christ work as it should. lunch was fabulous. we actually set up tables and chairs in their chicken coup and ate the chicken and sausage (which was made from goat) with live chickens running around our feet.

wednesday, was a crazy day. i had to take a student to the emergency room to have her wrist looked at (she fell in mexico, but thankfully it was just a bad sprain). while we were there a maintenance man was mowing the lawn... and the lawn mower threw a rock THROUGH the drivers door window on one of our 15 passenger vans. so i spent the rest of the day getting a glass company to come and replace the window so that we could head back into mexico the next day. our students spent the day distributing information for the church to communities in san benito and brownsville, tx while also doing door-to-door evangelism and outreach surveys.

thursday was our longest day... but easily my favorite day off all. we went back into reynosa and did some light construction at a church start that the church we stayed at was working with. while some of our students were working at the church the rest of the students went out to distribute beans and rice to another community. then we held a VBS at the church that evening and had around 35-45 children come. the VBS went amazingly well, and by thursday night most of us were starting to get more familiar and comfortable with communicating through very broken spanish. god blessed us with 2 fluent spanish speaking students who were able to help us communicate with the people we came into contact with. the picture to the left shows you some of the children we had at this VBS. also, while we were at the vbs, i met a 9 year old girl who's name is stephanie michelle... which as most of you know is my name. here she is...

friday, we went to progresso mexico so that our students could shop for souvenirs and then ate an authentic mexican meal at a restaurant and then headed back to denton.

the trip was amazing. our students stepped up to the plate and were always willing to serve no matter the situation or circumstance. we pray that god blessed those who we met just as much as they blessed us.

Saturday, March 3, 2007

my new pair of eyes


yesterday i received a new pair of eyes. while technically speaking, my eyes were not actually removed and replaced, instead they were revamped and reshaped. my parents gave me these new eyes as my graduation present from seminary. after some research we opted for the IntraLase Lasik procedure. this is the newest version of Lasik that uses only lasers throughout the entire procedure. the picture is similar to the machine used on me yesterday. the procedure took about 10 minutes to complete and was relatively painless, but i must admit there were some uncomfortable moments. The doctor who preformed my surgery did a fabulous job, and kept me entertained throughout the entire procedure. he kept instructing me to "not move at all" and "keep looking at the blinking light." did he actually think that i was going to move? he was shooting lazers at my eyes for goodness sake. i can't think of any better incentive to remain still! afterwards i experienced some discomfort and a crazy white-tented haze, but after a nap and a good nights sleep "i can see clearly now the 'haze' is gone!" the bedside table looks like a pharmacy with all of the eye drops i'm supposed to use, and also i'm sporting some pretty snazzy goggles when i sleep (so that i can't rub my eyes). i will keep you posted as i continue on my quest for 20/20 vision.

Monday, January 1, 2007

how is the story of life written?

How is the story of life written? Do we each chose each step we take, or does destiny actually lead us to our next encounter? Life is so short, and yet we choose to refuse to acknowledge that fact. About a month ago, I spent my weekend watching a close friend of mine bury her husband. Now she is a 27 year old widow. No one should lose a spouse so young. They had been married for 110 days, until cancer took him away. You see, she married him knowing the dark outcome. She married him knowing she would lose him sooner than she should. She chose love knowing the heartache. She gave of herself, because of love, for someone else. That is how a great story of life is written. A combination of climaxes and endings partnered with joy and heartache. Today is the first day of 2007, and as I think about what is ahead of me I can't help but stop and think about what is behind me and how I have written my story. Here's to the new year... a new chapter... and a chance to change the direction of the story I live in.