Thursday, March 31, 2005

Awake O Sleeper

I awoke because someone shook the bed, as if standing at the foot and pressing hard on the mattress several times. It couldn't be Tony moving around, or Jack who sleeps at our feet. It was too strong, too distinct.

I got up to go to the bathroom, half expecting an angel on the way. Goose bumps ran over my scalp and down my back. If I didn't physically see an angel, my spirit did.

The words, "Awake sleeper" came to mind. I looked at the clock, it was 12:53.

Eph 5:14 -16 says, "This is why it is said: "Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you. Be very careful, then, how you live–not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil."

Romans 13:11 says, "Do this, knowing the time, that it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed.

God is calling us, shaking us awake in this hour. Make wise use of our time. The days are evil. Salvation is nearer than we believed.

Two days ago I had a dream where I was running (ugh! my least favorite thing to do) along a suburban street. It was hard, slow and I was forcing myself forward. I crossed over a street, and suddenly, running was easy, fun and fast. I soared. Somehow, I ended up in an alley way, the kind found between inner city apartments. There were several teenage boys and one said to me, "I want to know the meaning of life."

I said, "Oh easy, I can tell you the meaning of life." I was excited and I told another kid to go get Tony. Then I woke up.

A few days later, I'm shaken awake. I think running is a symbol of evangelism. For most of us, it's hard, isn't it? But if we endure, there will be a suddenly of God when we soar, and it becomes easy.

As for the time on the clock, I knew that 12:53 stood for a Bible verse. It would be odd to find a book with 12 chapters and 53 verse. I thought it might be Luke. Sure enough.

Luke 12:53 - 54, "They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law. He said to the crowd: “When you see a cloud rising in the west, immediately you say, ‘It's going to rain,’ and it does."

Notice how accurate weathermen are today? We have that same "technology" by the Holy Spirit to recognize the spiritual clouds and winds, rain and sunshine of our generation. We must recognize the signs of the times. Understanding the days in which we live, becoming spiritual weathermen. The harvest is ripening.

Isaiah 54 says, "Enlarge the place of your tent; Stretch out the curtains of your dwellings, spare not; Lengthen your cords, And strengthen your pegs. For you will spread abroad to the right and to the left, And your descendants will possess nations, And will resettle the desolate cities."

Tents speak of where we dwell - our homes, community and heart. We must braid ourselves together with the Lord, strengthen our inner man (Eph 3:16) so that Christ dwells in us, so that we are rooted and grounded in love. These "descendants," end time radical lovers of Jesus and each other, will possess the nations! They will bring the gospel of the Kingdom to desolate cities and peoples.

Awake, O sleeper. I know I'm asleep in many ways, so I cry out for the Lord to waken my heart, to awaken the lulled areas of my life. If I'm divided against those I love - family and friends - to stand with Him, then so be it.

Recognize the times. The days are evil. "Awaken me, Lord. Awaken us!! Cause us to be wise. Every looking, ever seeing."

Saturday, March 26, 2005

I've had enough, I'm going fishing

I've had enough. I'm going fishing. Back to my old life, to the life I lived before I met Jesus. My heart aches to see him again, but I'm haunted by the look in his eyes when I said, "No, I don't know him." that last time.

If I could forget the past week, I'd pay every last shekel I have. But how can I undo what's been done? He told me I would deny him not once, not twice, but three times. And I did.

Fear and failure. That's me - Peter. I must be crazy. At first I was ready to die with him, but when the trial came, I denied him. Full of fear. Empty of courage.

My friend, my friend... I've dined with him, talked with him, laughed with him. He was there for me when my family was ill, and that time I was so angry with my wife. "Love her, Peter," he said. "Love her."

"Ahh, my friend, my Lord! I denied you." It wasn't supposed to be like this - death and denial, but victory and glory. You, my Lord, establishing Your Kingdom. Now what do we do? They killed you. Practically beat you... to... death.

Where was I? Where was I! Weeping over my own failure. I couldn't even pull myself together to be with you when they were nailing you to that tree! John said you gazed at him and spoke. He was with you. But I, Peter, was weeping over my own weakness.

Ahh! What kind of friend am I? What kind of man am I? I didn't take the 30 pieces of silver like Judas, but I betrayed you just the same. I'm no better.

Can a man live after such betrayal? Yes, I've had enough. It's over. I'm going fishing. There must be comfort some where in what was, in what I used to know. Before I knew him.

"Who's with me?" I asked. "Let's move on, our friend is gone. Our kingdom, ended." James and John, Nathanael and Thomas grabbed the nets. "We'll go with you."

We're lost without him. Men, fumbling, searching for meaning. In light of him, his life, his love, the wonders he performed, all else pales.

About midday, our nets were still empty. We labored in vain. Then a man called to us from the shore, "Friends.... cast your net on the other side."

John gripped my arm. "It's the Lord."

I pulled on my shirt and dove into the water. I must see him. I'm not standing in this boat, in the old life, when he's there on the shore, alive! My friend, my friend. Funny, he saw me already, at my worst when I denied him. But I had to put on my shirt.

"Do you love me?" he asked.

My hand shook and my skin felt hot and prickly. "Lord, you know I do."

Twice more he asked. Twice more I answered. Then something broke in me. Three times I denied him. Three times I declared my love for him. I do love him. He knows I love him. Love conquers all, isn't it true?

"Be a fisher of men," he said.

Whatever you need, Lord, whatever you need. I'm undone. Ruined.

I've had enough. I'm going fishing.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Terry Schiavo

Tony and I were talking during our anniversary lunch about the Terry Schiavo case. We really feel the Lord is drawing the nations attention to this case for a reason. Perhaps challenging us on our stand on life. We are becoming reckless.

I agree with the President. "Err on the side of life." I mean, who wouldn't want to give life a chance? Who wouldn't you want that consideration for you own life!? I would.

In the case of Terry Schiavo, there is no proof, other than her husband's word, that she would not want to be on "life support." I wonder if Terry imagined a feeding tube would be considered "life support." She's living and breathing on her own. She's just unable to feed and cloth herself.

Is that's the litmus test for whether a person dies or not? Quality of life? What about newborns? Two year olds? The mentally challenged or physically impared. What about death row inmates? What kind of quality of life do they have? Yet, they are defended every day. A jury of their peers find them guilty of a capital crime, they are sentenced according to the law, yet people cry, "Unfair. Inhumane! How dare we..."

Life to the guilty, death to the innocent. Barabbas verses Jesus.

I wonder how Terry would feel knowing her husband insist she starve to death even though her parents are desperate to care for her. If they are willing, why is he insisting she die? He's moved on. Has another family. He's been granted over a million dollars in settlement money already. He's free to go on with life. Is he doing this because he loves her? What kind of love is this?

It's his word against an innocent, non-communicative woman. How does anyone know what Terry would want but Terry? Where are the feminist? Where is the outcry about doing something with a woman's body that she may not want? The outcry of a man starving a woman? How dare he!

What kind of people are we when we allow a husband to kill his wife? For ANY reason.

Can a husband shoots his wife in cold blood and claim when he's arrested, "She wanted to die and asked me to shoot her."

So, is it legit? No. How is this case any different? You can't ask the murdered woman. You can't ask Terry Schiavo. We, the people, the government, should protect her.

Wasn't it Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia that routinely killed people because they didn't deem their life worth living? We already have the blood of millions of babies on our heads, do we want the blood of the Terry Schiavo's of the world on our hands, too?

Come Lord Jesus, come.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Faith Chick Dot Com & me at the gym

Here's me at the gym: on the curl machine, third set of reps. 1....2.....3...4....5...6... Eyeing the leg press machine I'm supposed to work next. Ooooh, that old guy is getting on the leg press. Shoot. Takes him 15 minutes to work on machine... 7,8,9,10. Hop up, run over to the other leg press machine so I can work my legs and give my arms a break.

1....2....3...4....5....6..... Ooooh, the arm press machine I missed is available. 7,8,9,10. Jump up, run over to the machine before someone gets on and takes 15 minutes to do 3 sets of 10.

Midway through working out on that machine, the first leg press mahcine is becomes available. But I'm in the middle of a second set of reps... Wham! Clank! I drop the weights, hop up, flick my towel over the hand grips to dry them and run to the leg machine. It's rediculous, I tell you. I can't live like this. I don't work out, I calculate moves so I can get on the machines before one of my senior friends sits down for a leisurely work out. Going to the gym is a whole new experience. It's not pumping iron, it's racing to the machines.

Here's me at the gym: Getting a new attitude. ;)

Faith Chick: You gotta check it out! Steeple Hill authors have been gathered by our own Mary Griffith and we have a web site now: It's a blogging site as well as announcing our releases! How cool! Check it out. The first blog is written by yours truly, so read, and comment!

Today is our anniversary, but I have editing and writing to do and shew weee, the house needs to be vacuumed. Which I'm going to do right now.

Love to all. Big HELLO to my cousin, Sandy!

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Please don't empale me

I was almost empaled. Not by a torturer, for pain, or death, but by a love sick, radical bass playing worshipper. (Love the way you worship, dude.) At Fire Dwellers Friday night, Jake and I did a warm up song for a sound check, next thing we know, we're in the zone. It was awesome.

Saturday I went to Ezra's one year old birthday party. He celebrated with his friend, 10 hours older, Samuel. They each had their little patty cakes to dig into, but they didn't do a whole lot of damage. I remember when Kendall turned one, she was covered in head to toe with chocolate.

Watched "The Incredibles" with the Olinski's last night. Cute, but I was expecting more. The funniest scene in the movie wasn't IN the moive - it was the trailer. But go Jeremy Vickory. He worked on the lighting for the movie. He's one of our old kiddos.

Reading Acts 2, the Day of Pentecost. The author writes, "Now there were Jews living in Jerusalem, devout men from every nation under heaven."

Every nation under heaven? Now that's incredible. Every nation under heaven. I suppose it could be debated that is was every KNOWN nation, but if I believe the scriptures are the inspired Word of God, then let's go with every nation under heaven - known or not.

Do you know what this means? It means that a representative from every nation heard Peter preach the gospel of Jesus Christ that day. Some marveled. Some mocked. But from that moment in time, the gospel was woven into the fabric of every nation. The gospel had been preached to at least one - in every nation. That's amazing. God has sewn Himself into the fiber of our nations. And when He's ready, He'll pull on that thread and unravel the world revealing His Son and His Bride.

Matt 24 says that the gospel of the Kingdom shall be preached to the whole world as a testimony, and then the end will come. Jesus preached the gospel of the Kingdom and went about healing and setting free. Maybe we should be like Jesus and preach the Kingdom which is rigteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. And go about healing people and setting them free - in His name.

I had a dream once where Jesus said to me, "I'll pour out my glory, then I'll come." Then end is going to hard and terrifying, but absolutely amazing and glorious.

Every nation under heaven.

Finished Lambert's Peace. Love the ending. Taylor finally accepts Will's marriage proposal, but it's in a crowded dinner after she had driven half way across the country and back. He looks up just as she walks in, her hair all over the place, coat half on, half off and.... wait! Read the book. :)

I think I'll go for a walk outside now, the spring sun is calling my name, can you hear me now. I gotta get out, gotta get awayayay... Sunshine Day. Everybody's smiling. Sunshine Day. (oops, sorry, Brady moment.)

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Rainy days and Thursdays

It's raining. Guess spring has sprung in central Florida. I only have two minutes to write this so pardon all goofs.

I wore my shorts inside out to the gym yesterday. Noticed while doing sit ups, "Gee, there's a tag." Don't read anything deep into this. I was tired when I got up at 6:30. I went to prayer, then the gym.

Good news! My boys will be home for the summer - Eric and James. James who'd rather surf than kiss will be happy to be near the beach I guess. It will be great to have them home. I miss them.

What is up with King of Queens? They are turing Carrie into a complete "B" and using it for comedy. Last night's show, she's kicked out of her nail salon and blackballed from all the other in the neighborhood. I felt sorry for her. Not sure the writer's were going for that. And Doug gets the cold shoulder from his friend Deacon. If they were going for funny last night, they missed by a mile.

American Dreams was on, too. I taped it since I had youth church. I love that show, but I hear it's going to be cancelled. I think they missed their target audience. I AM their target audience, but they feature Britney Snow and she's a teen. Teens won't get or appreciate this show. It's about the 60's. My age group and older will get this show. It's well done and interesting. I'm not going to mail NBC, cause well, my life will go on if the show is cancelled, but they should really rethink their marketing and give the show a chance to gain an audience.

I had all this stuff to write. And it was funny too, but now I'm way over my two minutes and I have to get to WORK.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Two Gold Fish

Every time one of our former youthees grows up, gets married and has a baby or two, I beg them out of sheer lunacy, "If it's a boy, name him Rachel, er, no, I mean Tony. If it's a girl, Rachel. Naaammee herrr Rachel."

They laugh. I laugh. They think I'm kidding....

I begged my sister, who recently had a baby girl, to name her child after me. Even threatened to "breaka yor legs." But noooooouh.

Since Tony and I will mostly like not have biological children, I figure it's the responsibility of one of our spiritual kids to pass on our name... don'tcha think? (No guilt, no condemnation, just logical thinking.)

So this morning, sitting in church with my girl Sheree Stebbins, she leans over while her dad's preaching (I told her not to talk to me in church, but at 30, she makes up her own mind) and says, "I bought two gold fish yesterday."

Roll eyes. "Good for you."

"We named them Tony and Rachel."

Snap head around to look at her. "What?"

"Yeah, I asked Mom and Dad what I should name them and Mom said, 'Tony and Rachel.'"

Finally, a legacy. Two goldfish. The classy one was going to be named after me, but since he/she was also bigger, Tony got the name. So, I'm the small, plain one.


This afternoon - I took a reading vacation and am almost done with "Good in Bed." I love her voice and style, while at the same time get bored with her in-depth detail about her weight and father. Move on, Jen. Yet, I can see how I need to slow down and get more emotion and depth into my writing. I feel like I'm going to bore everyone. I can't say it's my journalism training 'casuse Jennifer is a professional journalist. Or was. So, move on, Rach.

Been thinking a lot about my writing lately, where I want to go, how I can get there, if it's possible to get there. Do I have what it takes? Reading Weiner makes me scratch my head and go, "Hum, how'd she do that?" But I know all stories are developed with hard work and dedication. I just want it to come out of my fingers perfect.

I liked Sophie Kinsella's "Shopaholic," but Sheree gave it back to me today with a "I couldn't get through it." Go figure! I liked "Whitney Chronicles" and "Bad Heiress Day" and several of my friends have read those and given thumbs up. So that's good! Go Steeple Hill Cafe.

I started a Susan May Warren book and highlighted it with a yellow marker. I've never heard anyone not like Susie. All this to say, I'm trying to learn. Read and learn. And OH! Plot and Structure by Jim Bell? Best book on writing I've read in a long time. To be honest, usually put writing books down because I'd rather do it than read about doing it. But, Jim's style and lessons are engaging and fun! I'm learning tons.

We had a great time yesterday at Ted's with all the Fire Dweller leaders. Great progress and we are excited about what God is doing in our area in the matter of city wide prayer. But while building a house of prayer, we want to build a house of friends.

Well, I'm off to shower or something since I just road my bike... around the block. Came home. It's Sunday. Vacation day.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Vignettes at the Cross

She didn't recognize him. Bruised, bloody, beaten. He stumbled under the weight of the splintered Cross. Wind tunneled down the narrow street, billowing his blood soaked robe. Flesh hung and she could see the jagged edges of his skin and muscle. She could see through to the bone.

She looked away as bile rose in her throat and tears streamed her face without restraint. What had they done to him? Why? The man she loved, whose feet she washed with her tears. They tried him as a common criminal. Battered and humiliated him beyond belief. For what? For loving them? For healing them?

The jeering and mocking of the crowd pounded in her head like the wild beating of drums and she wanted to scream. "Stop! Leave him alone!"

Isn't that what he said to her accusers the night she washed his feet with her perfume? "Leave her alone," he commanded. "She's done this for my burial." She knew then of his complete acceptance, his unending love. His eyes never left her face. No man ever looked at her the way he did. Pure. Without demand. Without lust.

Now, oh now. She dared to look at him again. He'd fallen and blood stained the cobblestones. The cross tipped off his shoulder and he stumbled, pain contorting his battered face. Help him. Help him.

Then, there was his hand, reaching out to her. His eyes swollen closed, but his hand, trembling, red and dripping, reaching. To her? My friend.

"You! Carry the cross." A soldier jerked a man from the crowd. He stumbled forward, but with such care, took the cross from him. Blood fell on the man's clothes, his hands and feet.

She followed the procession to the hill. Sobbing, uncontrollable, helpless to stop them as they nailed his hands, his feet to the splintered tree. He flinched with each blow of the hammer, but not once, not once did he cry out.

Willing he went, she now knew. But why? He's innocent. So beautiful.

She stood at the foot of his cross, and with one last breath, he gazed down at her. There were others, crowding around, but she felt as if he saw her alone. He struggled to look, the blood from the thorns seeping down.

She dared, reaching up to touch his battered, pierced foot. He groaned when she touched him. Any other time, any other man, she would not have recognized him. But there, in his eyes, she saw her true love. His lips parted. A smile. Did he smile? In the midst of such suffering, did he smile? At me?

Then she understood, absorbed with her entire being, the purpose of this man. More than the night she wiped his feet with her hair. More than when she looked at his face and he silenced her accusers. Complete and utter love, without condition. Nothing could separate them now. Not even death.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Oooo, eeee, aaahhh, ouch!

We watched the Contender tonight. Didn't intend to watch this but oohh, aaahhh, owee. I felt bad for the guy who lost, Jonathon Reid. He had such a great heart. And such a large family.

I racquetballed with Jim Travis Tuesday. I let him win. You know, male ego and all. Right... I am still sore today. Add to that, I've been in the writing chair for twelve hours. I'm in deep, dark mode until Saturday morning. Nothing but writing. The Lambert's Peace edits are going well. I'm cutting and cleaning up.

I had all these great things to write. But now I can't think of any of them. God is good. The "70's Show" is really rediculous. I'm just saying...

I'm going to bed. Sorry I'm not more brilliant right now.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Fireside chat

As it turns out, last rainy but warm Sunday was not our last chance for a fire. Indeed not. This whole week has been chilly and this Saturday night is the perfect night for a fire.

So, we have one. The neighbor has not come over concerned the house is burning down. I've been writing most of the day. My confidence is growing. I can't decided if I'm blistfully ignorant and the "you're dreaming, stupid" brick is about to fall, or if the peace and confidence of the Lord that I've been praying for is taking hold.

Hum, let's go with the latter. Hold up now, I don't think I'm the next Austin or Dickens. I'm not the next Steel, Bateman or Billerbeck, but I am sure my writing is in the hands of my Father who loves me. On that, I can depend.

That being said, the day is very uneventful, which I'm glad.

Excellent Quote: "You had me at hello."

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Laugh out Loud

Cruising the Weight Watchers message boards I caught up with the results of The Bachelorette. I never knew when that show was going to be on, so I didn't watch it. After squandering my time watching Jesse Palmer, I couldn't make another effort of this purposeless series. I'm going to have to account for that wasted time before the Holy One some day and I'm pretty sure I'll be calling for a mountain to fall on me. Or, better yet, hiding in the righteousness of my Beloved.

Sandy Garcia of Metro News wrote of The Bachelorette, "This show is ridiculous and lacks any real emotion. But, what a way to throw in a final twist." Laugh out loud.

Rediculous sums it up. ABC's choice for Bachelorette had me scratching my head. Isn't choosing a previous Bachelor "winner" contradictory to what the show is trying to achieve? Helping people fall in love. Like we all thought that would happen. How could Jen say with any sincerity and believablity, "I came on this show to find true love." Pu-lease.

Dreams - I had a dream the other night. I won't share the detail because it gives me the willies. Okay, one hint. Snakes. So, I woke up and said to Tony. TV has got to go. I love television. But it's stealing my affection. I thought Lord, "How will I keep curent? How will I know chic, trig dialog and the latest phrases? Like bling, bling." But, I have to trust Him. Now that I think about it, I didn't learn bling, bling from the TV.

But, the Lord will keep me. Without the distraction, I can dig deeper and produce better stories. I hope. I pray. Though, it's not about the writing as much as it is about the heart, my heart, the depth in which I give my affection to Jesus.

A Monday Morning Call - Our friend Ted rang up around 9:00. Before Tony asked me, I knew Ted was inviting us to breakfast. Tony said, "Hey, Ted wants to know..."

I said, "Yes."

We met him at Cracker Barrel a half hour later. We talked about lots of stuff, but when the subject moved to Heidi and Roland Baker, and Mozambique, I teared up. We resently spent an evening with one of Heidi's adopted sons, Norberto. He spoke some things to Tony and me that only God knew. I mean, Norberto barely knew our names. He didn't know mine at all (never mind I spent the weekend with him during the prayer retreat. LOL!) He spoke specific things, used words maybe only Ted would know in the natural. We were encouraged. Am I to go to Africa? I don't know? I have a friend who wants to go. She's been touched by Heidi's book. Perhaps we'll go together.

We know God is moving, doing stuff in us and through us. But all things in time. All things in due season. To everything... turn, turn, turn.

Lambert's Pride - Got an email from a woman, Missy, today. She wrote, "I wanted you to know that I read Lambert's Pride this weekend. I loved it! It was like at the end I wanted to read more. You both should write a few books to follow that town. It just seemed so homey. I know some writers do that."

Isn't that cool? I'm glad there are two more Lambert books coming. Thanks, Missy.

Oh, guess how she found my web site? Googling Kristin Billerbeck. I have a picture of Kristin, me and Colleen Coble on my Photo's page and it comes up on a Google. Pretty cool, eh?

Well, off to finish Lambert's Peace. Remember how I said I thought I'd be short on word count. Um, no! I'm going to be way over. But that's okay. I can cut and tighten.

Be blessed today. May the grace and peace of our Father guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.