Hello and thanks for stopping by my blog. If you’re looking for specific resources, be sure to check out the topics in the column to the right. Otherwise, feel free to look around! ~ Kerry

Friday, March 27, 2009

What Are You Thinking About?

Last Tuesday I had the privilege of introducing the Secrets Bible study to the employees at the national office during their chapel service. The guest speaker was Dr. Gary Smalley, who was a part of the Secrets project. He always shares such amazing insights, and this time was no exception.

Dr. Smalley creatively revealed how meditating on God’s Word will impact our thoughts, beliefs, and behaviors. This wasn’t the first time I heard him talk about meditating on Scripture. When I met with Dr. Smalley to video tape the interviews for Secrets, he shared with me how he is continually memorizing Scripture verses and strives to meditate on them throughout the day. He has chosen key passages like Deuteronomy 6:4-8, Psalm 1, 1 Corinthians 13, Philippians 4:4-8, and James 1. He said he has memorized around 120 passages.

What does it mean to “meditate”? Well, if you know how to worry, then you know how to meditate. Meditating on something is simply going over it in your thoughts on a consistent basis. When we worry, we are simply mentally rehearsing our concerns…there is not enough money in the bank, my pay check won’t cover all the expenses this week, what if the insurance doesn’t cover that last doctor’s appointment… Well, I’m sure you get the idea. We’ve all done our share of worrying. Quite honestly, worry is allowing our concerns to consume our thoughts.

If you look up “meditate” in your Bible’s concordance, you will find several Scriptures that encourage us to meditate on God’s law, precepts, unfailing love, wonders, works, and promises. Dr. Smalley’s challenge is to memorize God’s truth and allow it to saturate our thoughts.

When I think of the difference this has made in my own life, I’m amazed. Worry wears me out emotionally. It produces frustration, stress, discouragement, and fear—and leads me to be self-absorbed. Those attitudes directly affect my behavior and negatively impact every relationship in my life. But meditating on God’s Word, unfailing love, and promises brings light and life, faith and hope, encouragement and peace. I’ve discovered that my attitudes and actions are a direct reflection of the meditation of my heart.

Dr. Smalley gave me a copy of his book, Change Your Hear Change Your Life. When he signed the book, he also wrote “Psalm 1.” May these verses encourage us!

“But his delight is in the law of the LORD,
and on his law he meditates day and night.
He is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither.
Whatever he does prospers.”
Psalm 1:2-3

Thursday, March 19, 2009

God's Grace

As I write this blog, my husband is driving home from Alabama where he officiated the funeral services for Andrea Myers and her 18-month-old daughter, Corrine. He has been gone since Saturday morning and has witnessed overwhelming grief and sorrow over the past four days. Mike stayed with the Myers to attend the funerals for the other ten victims and is now driving back to Wichita with Chuck and Matt…May God’s grace get them safely home…

Early last Saturday, Chuck Myers, Andrea’s father-in-law who attends our church, called and asked Mike if there was any way he could come to Alabama and conduct Andrea and Corrine’s funeral service (which was scheduled for the next day at 3:00 pm). Our hearts have been broken for this family, so the answer was an easy one. Originally, we thought Mike would fly. But due to spring break, there were no empty seats on any planes headed south. So he drove 13 hours Saturday and three more Sunday morning. Mike met with the families, checked into a hotel, and had to quickly handwrite notes for a very challenging funeral. But God’s grace was more than enough…

In the midst of making arrangements to go to Alabama, Mike asked me to speak for our services here at Maranatha. He said, “Kerry, I know this is extremely short notice and this is a difficult weekend to share. But I want this congregation to have their pastors present with them as well. And the only way we can be in both places is for me to go and you to stay here and share in our services.” I’ve never shared at services like we had this past weekend, but God’s grace was more than enough…

Mike has shared many ways God’s grace has been so evident in Alabama. Just last night on the way home, the hotel clerk asked them where they had been. When she learned their story, she wept and gave them their hotel rooms for the evening free of charge…God’s grace seen in a total stranger…

I just got off the phone with my friend, Carolyn (Josh Myer’s mom, Andrea’s mother-in-law, and baby Corrine’s grandma). She wept as she shared the many miracles she has witnessed this past week. Baby Ella made it through the surgery so well and has been in such good spirits. Four-year-old Isaak awakes every morning to tell them of his dreams of Jesus. One night he dreamt of Jesus giving him something to eat and to drink. And this morning he told his daddy and grandma that he saw Jesus with his mommy as he slept last night. How amazing…God’s grace is proving to be more than enough…

Chuck and Josh (Andrea’s father and husband) have asked if they can share in our church service Sunday morning. They are anxious to tell the stories of God’s amazing grace in the midst of the deepest sorrow anyone could face. Please continue to keep this precious family in your prayers. We can pray confidently for God’s grace to be more than enough for every moment this family faces without Andrea and Corrine…

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Tragedy Has a Way of Putting Everything into Perspective

I had just arrived home from a trip to Springfield, Missouri, late Tuesday afternoon when my husband called to tell me that Chuck and Carolyn Myers’ daughter-in-law and granddaughter had been murdered in Samson, Alabama. The Myers are friends who have attended our church since 1997. In 2003, my husband performed the wedding ceremony for their oldest son Josh and his wife Andrea. And we participated in the dedication ceremony for their first two children—Corrine was dedicated just before this young family moved to Alabama a little over a year ago.

What immense sorrow Chuck and Carolyn must feel—losing a daughter-in-law and grandbaby in a completely senseless act of violence! Knowing their son, a deputy sheriff who puts his life on the line to protect others every day, has just lost half of his family in a matter of seconds at the hands of a crazed gunman. How do they even begin to process the emotion of such a loss?

I can’t imagine all Chuck and Carolyn are feeling and experiencing today. And I don’t want to make inaccurate speculations, but I feel that I know them well enough to know a few things. I’m quite sure they are so thankful for every moment they spent with Andrea and Corrine. I’m sure they don’t regret anything they sacrificed to in order to show them love. I know that the most important thing to them right now is to be with Josh and his other two children—to surround those precious loved ones with as much support as it takes to walk through the sorrow of the upcoming days.

We have walked through times of loss and grief with the Myers in the past year and I have watched them rest completely in the arms of God. Their steady faith has been an inspiration to me. They know that God alone is their Source and that only His grace is sufficient for times like these.

They are more aware than ever what is really important—knowing and loving God and loving and serving those He has given to us. Everything else is just “stuff.” Our jobs, our possessions, our positions, our plans…nothing really matters in times like these except God and those we love.

Tragedy has a way of putting everything into perspective, and it can teach us some extremely important lessons. Please don’t allow Andrea and Corrine’s deaths to simply go unnoticed. We can honor their precious (and much too brief) lives by sincerely asking ourselves:

  • Am I living with the awareness that life is extremely fragile?
  • Am I viewing every moment as a precious gift from God?
  • Am I making the most of every moment given to me?
  • Am I striving to know and love God, so when difficulties come into my life I will be able to rest securely in Him?
  • Do the people in my life know how much I love them? How can I show them?
  • Are my best efforts and energies given to the most important things in life, or am I consumed with temporal, less important things? What priorities should I adjust?
  • How can I live with no regrets?

Jesus said it this way, “The most important is this: Love the Lord your God with all your heart. The second is this: Love others as yourself.” Please don’t miss the most important things in life!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

A Megabyte for Thought

Today I was talking to some coworkers about how quickly technology has advanced in the last few decades. The National Women’s Department got its first computer in 1990 and the entire department had to share the one machine. (Can you imagine?) And if you consider the last 150 years, the changes are almost staggering. From the time of creation to just a few hundred years ago, people traveled by foot, animal, or boat—not automobile or aircraft crossing oceans. Most people ate what was grown in their area—not the international fare we are accustomed to today. Even books were costly and in some places rare. And communication was always face-to-face or carried by hand from one person to another—not instantaneous media and personal computers.

For example, a few Saturdays ago I was sitting in my home office looking at Facebook when a message was posted from my friend JoVonda who is a missionary living in Greystone, Ireland. As I was reading her post, another friend, Pam (a missionary living in Cairo, Egypt) sent me an instant message and we began to chat. A few minutes into my chat with Pam, my son who is Argentina Skyped me. (Of course I had to let Pam go, since I’m not talented enough to use Facebook chat and Skype at the same time. I think you have to be younger than 30 to be able to multitask like that.)

Just think about that . . . Sitting in my pajamas in Wichita, Kansas on a laid back Saturday morning, I was able to communicate with friends and family on three different continents within just a few minutes. That is really incredible! Just a few decades ago it would have taken months to get letters to those places, and the privilege of a real conversation would have cost more than we’d be able to spend. Now, for the cost of internet, computer, and a Web cam, I can actually see my son in Argentina and talk with him virtually “face-to-face.” We live in such an amazing time in history!

I want to be careful to never take for granted (or be overwhelmed/distracted by) the technology advances and opportunities at my fingertips. Instead I want to be thankful for the significant time in which we live, unlike any other period in history. We weren’t born into the “information age” by happenstance—it’s by God’s design. We’ve been placed in this crucial time for a reason, and each of us has a purpose. This challenges me to use technology to advance God’s kingdom—to take every opportunity I have to be an agent of God’s grace and love in this world.

“Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord's will is” (Ephesians 5:15-17, NIV).