The Wonder Years

They warned us that life would pass at warp speed. We would be their age before we knew it. These were the best days of our lives, they said. Maybe so. Just maybe so.

Our parents worked fulltime, so when they were home they stayed busy. Daddy never let an engine stutter, a tool dull, or an appliance operate inefficiently. Mom maintained our household and cooked two meals a day. Because of their busyness, the kitchen table was about the only place where everyone was in the same room at the same time, except for summer thunderstorms.

Our family practiced great respect for lightning and thunder. There was an unspoken rule that we all gather in the living room and speak quietly until the storm passed. These were some of my favorite times because it meant that work and chores and church did not take us in different directions. We simply sat in the room together. It felt safe. We did not know fear as long as daddy was there. He was stronger and smarter than anyone I knew, and he could construct, repair, or unravel anything.

Mom and Dad were very strict. While we didn’t appreciate it at the time, in hindsight both Kay and I are grateful for it. One of the things for which we were most often in trouble was giggling in bed. Daddy always issued a warning, which only intensified our goofiness, until we heard his feet hit the floor. At that point, we knew we had crossed the line. To this day, Kay and I can be uncontrollably giggly and goofy in the most inappropriate situations. We try to avoid each other at weddings and funerals.

When I was four, our local Ford dealership held a drawing for a black and white, 19” portable television. Unbelievably, our dad won it. He put it on a rolling cart in the living room and our family stumbled into the golden age of television. We loved Red Skelton and Lucille Ball, Dracula and Lost In Space. On Sunday mornings we tuned in to watch Oral Roberts pray for the sick and more than once I placed my hand on the convex screen as a point of contact.

Our parents had a daughter between Kay and me, Dianne. She died of pneumonia at six months old. For some time afterward, Kay would cry and say, “I want to see Di.” Several times, my parents took her to see our cousin, Nancy, who was about Dianne’s age and that would assuage her for a while. In her Sunday School class recently, Kay spoke of Mary Magdalene’s visit to Jesus’ tomb and how, when He called her name, Mary knew His voice. Kay said that she believes when she gets to heaven, she will hear a voice call her name, and she will instantly recognize it as belonging to her ‘Di’, her sweet Dianne. I believe it, too.

When we were in junior high, Kay and I formed a trio with our cousin called The Gospel Classics (okay, I said it.) Another cousin played the drums and a friend played bass. Our parents paid for us to record an album. They purchased and renovated an old bus to make traveling easier. When a man in our hometown painted our name on the side, we thought we were the next big thing. Only in adulthood did I realize the sacrifices both parents made: leaving home on Fridays, returning just in time to be back at work on Monday mornings. I took so much for granted that it shames me. They never mentioned their lost weekends or their financial sacrifices. It just seemed that they dreamed with us, for us, and they never computed our indebtedness.

They bore the cost of our wonder years. They spent their youth on our childhoods. They took responsibility for who we were and who we would become. But the driving force that underscored all of their actions and their responses was never more complicated than love. The lone dynamic that held no wonder for us back then was just how much we were loved.

And that was wonder-full.

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February 2013 Update

Hey Everybody, and Happy February!

This is the month for Valentines and chocolates and spinning class. And speaking of class….

Many of you have written asking about the classes I’m taking. Here’s the full story…

I started singing professionally at 18, but it was always in my plans to – one day – go back to college and earn a degree in math or accounting. In 2005, while being treated for breast cancer, I started classes at a nearby community college. I continued at a snail’s pace until last year when my travel schedule slowed down. In three years I hope to have my master’s degree and check that off of my bucket list.

While some of my friends think I’m crazy, I am just loving it. I love being in a learning environment. I love the challenge of it (and it is very challenging!). I love the learning process on THIS side of adulthood. It is hard work, but an incredible privilege!

I honestly feel that this process has the Lord’s fingerprints all over it; this is the result of my Father remembering and granting a desire of my heart. I believe He has opened this door even though it has meant closing others. He is such a good Father, carefully working all things together for our good…

The toughest part of this process is that I am having to curtail my traveling; in fact, I am making time for the concerts I love the most – women’s events – but not much else. I am not comfortable being gone more than one or two weekends a month, and even that’s a stretch sometimes. I am also determined to remain a proud contributor to Homecoming Magazine as long as Gloria feels my column valid. I would do anything for her!

That said, I hope to see a lot of you sometime this year. I’ll be around – and I hope you will, as well.

Now, for some housekeeping items: Many of you wrote that you did not receive the attached article in January – so I’m re-sending it. Also, the WebMASTER says there are still some soundtracks offered at half price in the online store. Don’t miss out!
Here is a link: http://janetpaschal.com/store_home.html

We love you – and we appreciate you!!

Blessings,
Janet

A NEW STAR

Most of us know the story well. In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. Not satisfied with the dark emptiness, He spoke light into His universe and established a timetable for it. He designed a vault to separate the vast waters and called it ‘sky.’ He spoke and the waters under His new sky began to gather, and dry ground appeared. He decided that the land would produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees that would replicate themselves. He was just getting to the details.

He added recessed lighting to the vault of His sky, stars to shine on His earth; a great light to oversee the day and a lesser one for the night. God added great creatures to His waters, winged birds to fly across the vault of His sky, and creatures to move along the ground. He created wild animals and livestock and, under His perennial scrutiny, called it all good.

Next, God replicated His own image and created a man and a woman. He blessed the man and appointed him supervisor over everything in His sea, His sky, and on His earth. At this juncture, God rested.

Genesis chronicles the story of creation in extremely broad strokes. It does not record the details and complexities of the beginning.

God placed His planet the precisely perfect distance from its source of heat and light – some 93 million miles. Even a fractional variance from His calculations and life on earth would be impossible. His lesser light, the moon, is the perfect size and distance away for its gravitational pull to create tides to refresh the ocean’s waters, yet restrain them from spilling over. The earth’s temperature ranges from -30 to +120 degrees; any further away and we would freeze; any nearer and we would be consumed by solar radiation. The blend of oxygen and nitrogen in the air is perfectly balanced for the support of life and the elements. Scientists will tell you that the ecology of our planet is so complex that, centuries later, they are still uncovering layered networks which point to intelligent design.

Tides that wash the beaches, oxygen that recycles, stars that sing, animals with innate behaviors, planets that rotate, water that flows upward against gravity, eyes that focus automatically and distinguish some seven million colors, blood that circulates throughout the body every minute, hearts that beat without outside stimulus; and the God that crafted every DNA strand, every atom, and every ocean, pushed ‘start’ and the spectrum of intricate systems He had spoken into existence began to operate accordingly. And then, God had a child.

It is understandable that people would be talking. The Prophet Isaiah declared, “For unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon His shoulder; and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace, and of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end….” (Isa.9:6-7 NIV). Micah wrote of the city of His birth, “But thou, Bethlehem, though you are little among the clans of Judah, out of you will come [the] ruler over Israel, whose origins are from … ancient times.” (Mic.5:2 KJV).

Against a backdrop of galaxies which He had orchestrated, all of creation must have waited with indefinable anticipation as the almighty Creator planned the arrival of His son. A star led wise men from the East to see the baby and to worship Him. Surely they would witness luxurious opulence and worldwide fanfare. Can you imagine their surprise when the star stopped beside a hotel, and hovered over the barn? When they peered inside, they beheld “the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation….for whom all things have been created through Him and for Him” (Col. 1:15-16).

In purity and simplicity, the Beloved Son was born on the planet created by His Father. At last, a new star had appeared in Israel.

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Christ the Solid Rock

Edward Mote was raised by atheist parents. As an adult he remarked, “So ignorant was I that I did not know that there was a God.” At 18 years old, however, he heard the gospel and was baptized. At 55, he began his first Baptist pastorate in Sussex, England.

During his lifetime he wrote more than 100 hymns, some of which have become standards in our churches and, more importantly, in our hearts. Here is my favorite:

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness
I dare not trust the sweetest frame
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name

On Christ the Solid Rock, I stand
All other ground is sinking sand
All other ground is sinking sand

When darkness veils His lovely face
I rest in His unchanging grace
In every high and stormy gale
My anchor holds within the veil
(Refrain)

His oath, His covenant, His blood
Support me in the whelming flood
When all around my soul gives way,
He, then, is all my hope and stay
(Refrain)

When He shall come with trumpet sound
O, may I then in Him be found!
Dressed in His righteousness alone,
Faultless to stand before the throne!
(Refrain)

Amen and amen!

Blessings to you all,

Janet

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BARGAIN OF THE MILLENNIA

When you are three generations deep in church ministry, you are sure to possess Bibles of all versions, sizes, and levels of wear and tear. My first was a small, white leatherette King James Version. It was lightweight, bendable, and it rode our yellow Thomas school bus to Anderson Elementary, Dillard Junior High and Bartlett Yancey High. It’s edges are now dry and yellowing, but I still feel a sense of awe when I touch the pages. This is my story, my history.

While most of you know this already, allow me a few highlights of the journey this Book has taken. While scholars do not agree on every historical detail, all agree on the enduring, transformative power of it.

From the oral traditions of the Hebrews to the Biblical scrolls and the apostolic letters, the gospel has withstood generations of adversity. Following the atrocious persecutions of Christians during the first and second centuries, the Edict of Milan was signed by Constantine and Lucinius around 313, proclaiming religious freedom in the Roman Empire. Despite unprecedented hardships, the church increased dramatically and by 324, Constantine the Great had converted to Christianity.

In an effort to unify the early Christian communities (and perhaps wield some control over the new religion), Constantine commissioned the Council of Nicaea in 325. All 1,800 Bishops were invited to address some of the key issues of discrepancy. Out of this meeting came the familiar ‘Nicene Creed’ and the eventual compilation of the books that we know as the Holy Bible.

By approximately 500 A.D, the entire Bible had been translated from Greek into more than 500 languages. By 600 A.D., priests of the organized Church decided that they, alone, should interpret the scriptures, enabling them to manipulate what the people believed. Since only priests were educated in Latin, they declared the scriptures in any other language illegal and punishable by execution. This allowed them to sell indulgences and to absolve sins in exchange for money. The church had officially entered the Dark Ages.

Throughout this period there emerged remnants of the true Christian faith, groups who opposed the organized Church and who worked in secret to return the language manuscripts to the people. In 1385, Oxford scholar, professor, and theologian John Wycliffe translated the scriptures from Latin to produce the first English Bible. These were handwritten transcripts, painstakingly produced.

In Germany, more than a century later, Martin Luther railed against the sale of indulgences by the Church, insisting that true justification came only by faith. On October 31, 1517, he delivered his famous Ninety-Five Theses, which condemned the deceptive doctrines. Excommunicated from the Church, he completed a German translation of the Bible shortly afterward, written in a vernacular that was easy for the people to understand.

William Tyndale produced the first English translation from the Hebrew and ancient Greek texts. Because of the invention of the printing press, His translations were widely distributed and played a key role in the Reformation. He was arrested for heresy in 1535 and executed the following year. Our own King James Version drew significantly from Tyndale’s work.

In the 1450s, The Gutenberg Bible became the world’s first major book ever produced on a printing press. In 1847, James Lenox of New York City purchased one of the Bibles, making it the first to arrive in our United States. It is said that the officers at the U.S. Customs House removed their hats upon seeing it.

The third official English translation of the Bible was commissioned by King James VI of Scotland and I of England in 1604. Forty-seven scholars translated the Old Testament from Hebrew and the New Testament from Greek, resulting in our familiar King James Version.

The passage from the oral traditions of the early Hebrews to the white leather versions of our youth has been long, yet this remains our starting point. For it is through this inspired, spoken, written, translated, printed Word that we know Him. This story is our story. This is chapter one; ground zero for what we believe.

The price of a complete Gutenberg Bible today is estimated to be between 25 and 35 million dollars. Considering the incalculable cost, that is a bargain.

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Desert Bloom

Hey Everybody,

Happy August: Back-to-School, lower hotel rates, blue sky thunderstorms, choir practice cranking up, and pumpkin displays in store windows. I love every minute – no, every second – of it! I hope that your summer has been crazy, sane, fun, frustrating, rewarding, aggravating and, most importantly, memorable!

I wanted to share the attached magazine piece with you all. I hope you enjoy it. I’m still gnawing on it  🙂

We love you!
Janet

P.S.
The WebMaster asked me to share our online special this month. It’s pretty good:)
“Don’t miss this 1/2 price sale – Six Classic Janet Music Videos on DVD –
Limited Quantity – $7.49. View samples of all 6 Videos in the online store!”
Here’s a link: (http://janetpaschal.com/store_test/sixmusic_vid_DVD.html)

 

 


Desert Bloom                                                                                      by Janet Paschal

For the girls in the backyard, it is the best time of the year. Maggie (the magnolia) and Miss Marple (the red maple) join Moe the Survivor (our sycamore) in anticipation of the spring and summer season. This is their time to shine, to hoist themselves upright and spread wide their limbs.

For months, they have quietly anticipated when their season would come. They have waited patiently, hibernating in the rich soils of the North Carolina clay, certain that winter would eventually be usurped by the slow, steady approach of the sun’s rays. They would begin to stretch their trunks and their roots. Their buds would become placeholders for flowers and blooms. They would emerge stronger, broader, and deeper than before. At this writing, their season has, again, come.

About fifty miles south of the city of Tel Aviv is the Negev desert. Named from the Hebrew word for ‘dry,’ the Negev covers more than half of the entire country of Israel. It’s impervious soil allows only minimal penetration of water, resulting in a brown, rocky landscape with deep craters and dry riverbeds.

For six weeks every year (approximately 40 days), this otherwise barren desert comes alive with beautiful color. In a much anticipated event, red anemone flowers blossom in a panoramic backdrop of red and green. Israel hosts a five-week celebration, the Red South Festival, drawing thousands of visitors annually to experience firsthand the sea of flowers in their desert homeland.

Named after the Hebrew word for bride, anemones blossom just above the Negev’s drought line. They flower first as males, giving pollen to bees and closing a few days later. Afterwards they open as females, bearing a white ring because they are now ‘engaged.’ In the short span of six weeks they blossom, reproduce and die until the next spring season.

Jesus had been with the apostles for forty days, approximately six weeks, when He told them to wait in Jerusalem for the gift the Father promised, that they would be baptized with the Holy Spirit. Under Roman rule, they asked, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” He answered, “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set . . .” After He said this, He was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight. They were looking intently up into the sky as He was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:1-10 NIV)

Ah. The promise of the ages. The subject of endless dissertation and theological debate: the long-awaited return of Israel’s Lily of the Valley, her blessed Rose of Sharon, her bright and morning star.

Even more certain than the red anemones that bloom in the Negev desert each spring is the assurance that Jesus will return. Just as their arrival spawns celebration and joy, Jesus’ promise brings hope and enthusiasm when our faith wanes and our hearts grow weary.

Understanding the patterns of nature, we are able to predict the readiness of her leaves and flowers, and to anticipate with some accuracy their return. Yet while some have predicted the event of Jesus’ return, none have discovered it. What we do know with certainty is that when everything is ready (John 14:1-3), He will return for us. Until then, we embrace another rich covenant with Israel in the barren Negev and our hearts are made glad.

Perhaps Isaiah said it best, “The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them (the redeemed); and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose. It shall blossom abundantly . . . and they shall see the glory of the Lord, and the excellency of our God.” (Isaiah 35:1,2)

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The Speed of Light

It’s Tuesday morning and I have just devoured, savored, relished my first home grown tomato of the season. Indulge me here, as there are some things in life that are too good to characterize, impossible to chronicle or delineate. One must accept that there are levels of delicious that are reached only by firsthand experience. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is what happened to me this morning.

I toasted fresh sourdough bread then covered it with soft butter. Next, I sliced the red, perfectly shaped tomato in medium-thin slices, which I placed on the toast. Last came salt and freshly ground black pepper. For the few minutes that it took to devour it, all was right with the world. There was no deficit, no drought, no wildfire. Men did not study war and children did not misbehave. Why, Maxwell Smart didn’t even bark when someone rang the doorbell!

John and I must conclude this: while our three plants have produced only one red tomato thus far, and while that tomato has cost us about $27, it was worth it. All summer we will reminisce about that one – the first one – that perfect, picturesque tomato on toasted sourdough with melted butter, salt and pepper.

Okay, I feel better now. With that out of the way, below is some food for thought. Enjoy!

Blessings,
Janet

 

   The Speed of Light      by Janet Paschal

Over the years, pastors and evangelists have shared with congregations the ancient legend of the light of God shining in the hearts of man. Here’s the Reader’s Digest version: Upon Jesus’ ascension, He was met by Gabriel at the gates of heaven and their proposed dialogue was something along these lines:

Gabriel: “Oh, Master, how wonderful, how glorious that You have returned. We do wonder, however, how many people down there know how much you love them and that You died for them?
Jesus: “Gabriel, just a little handful; eleven men in a company of a hundred and twenty in the city of Jerusalem.”
Gabriel: “Master, how will the rest of the world know that You died for them?”
Jesus: “I have asked Peter, James, John, and a few more friends to tell others about me. Those who are told will tell others, in turn. Eventually, my story will be spread to the farthest reaches of the globe and all of humankind will have heard of me.”
Gabriel: “Yes, but what if Peter and James and John grow weary? What if the people who come after them forget? What is your alternate plan?”
Jesus: “There is no alternate plan.”

It is obvious that this story is told to admonish believers to share their faith with boldness and frequency. It has probably galvanized young people to consider missionary service, or other lifetime commissions. The legend is obviously not true, but we are clear about it’s purpose: to remind us that we, you and I, are still the light of the world.

Early in the book of Matthew, Jesus has just been tempted by the devil for 40 days. He is hungry and tired, yet He holds fast, eventually driving Satan away. On the heels of this, He learns that His beloved John has been imprisoned. His reaction is quite human: He withdraws and convalesces, then He begins to preach, calling men to repentance.

Shortly afterwards, while walking beside the Sea of Galilee, Jesus sees Peter, Andrew, James and John. His overture to them was the same one that still resonates in the human heart: “Follow me.”

He begins to heal the sick until the crowds become overwhelming. Jesus finds a place on the mountainside to rest and calls his freshmen disciples to Him. After laying some ground rules about being blessed, He stares at the fishermen, tax collectors, laborers, workers, and states very bluntly, “You are the light of the world.” They must have been astonished! Surely science or reason was the light of the world; perhaps self-enlightenment or ingenuity could be labelled such, but could human beings really be the light of the world? Jesus further admonishes them to let their light shine before others, thereby glorifying their Father in heaven.

It is not coincidental that James described God as the “Father of Light,” or that God chose that medium to communicate with a dark world. In 1905 Einstein theorized that nothing in the cosmos travelled faster than light. He further postulated that the speed of light is independent of the motion of the light source. That makes me smile. God just needs for us to shine; He takes care of the rest.

John wrote that the entire world lies in darkness. Our cultural world is in darkness; our social world is in darkness. Our intellectual and political worlds, on the whole, exist in darkness. The light that shines in the darkness is generated by the people of God, those who know Him, those who have responded to Him.

In one of Paul’s prison epistles, he admonished the Philippians to live “blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life” (Phi. 2:15 NIV-UK). How much louder is Christ’s charge to those who await His return? Our assignment is to concentrate our strength and resources, our devotion and labor to do simply this: make the lamp burn, the light shine.

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THE POISON CUP

Hey Everybody,

What a great time of the year! Everything is growing: the knockout roses are living up to their name, the canons are shooting skyward, the sun-tolerant lantana is beginning its summer stretch, and, if daylillies could talk, they’d say, “Watch this.” What a sweet break from our crazy, runaway world when we stop, stoop, and smell the familiar scent of lush petals. How fantastic to be reminded that God’s laws of nature remain unchanged by the instability of man’s nature. Catherine Marshall would have said, “All of this happens quite apart from man; little man who struts and fumes upon the earth.”

John and I have been doing a lot of yardwork; that is, he does the work and I offer encouragement and suggestions (I feel that is my area of expertise.) The girls in the backyard watch and await their grooming, their feeding, and then they wait for us to leave. We’ve no idea what really happens back there when we are not around:)

I’m getting ready for an intense summer semester plus singing a few fun concert events – ones that are close enough to get there and back without missing too much precalculus!

Happy Mother’s Day to all… Kay and I are blessed to share that special day with our sweet, beautiful, healthy Mom, and we do not take it for granted. For those of you who are not as fortunate, I pray that your day is filled with sweet memories and the knowledge that you will see her again. What a promise!

Our WebMASTER has launched an online special JUST FOR YOU – our Newsletter Subscribers! He has discounted many of the products and they are shipping FREE. To take advantage of this, you must follow this link and complete your purchase there. Do not dare to venture outside the link. It will lead you to full retail and shipping costs! Aargh!!!  Here’s the link:

(The link was included in the Newsletter and is available only to our Newsletter Subscribers. If you would like to receive the link, email: JPMoffice@gmail.com and request to subscribe to the newsletter and also request the “Newsletter Deal” link. Please ensure you provide us with the email address to which you want the newsletter sent.  The newsletter is sent once per month with a convenient link to change your email address or unsubscribe at the bottom of the page.)

Following is my nod to the growing, blooming, and killing season of summer. Enjoy!

We love you,

Janet

 

THE POISON CUP

It was an ordinary day in February, 1987, when Gary Wright parked his vehicle at his family’s Salt Lake City computer business. Nearby, he noticed what appeared to be a piece of lumber with nails in it. Fearing that it might flatten a tire, he kicked it away from the parking area. That is when he heard a soft click.

He does not remember the explosion.

He came to consciousness twenty feet away, as fragments of Ted Kaczynski’s homemade bomb continued to rain down. Shrapnel severed his nerves and arteries, and a nail ripped through his chin and lips, barely missing an eye. Multiple surgeries would follow to reconstruct his face and reconnect his nerves and tendons.
The FBI determined that this was the work of an unidentified serial terrorist they nicknamed the Unabomber. It would be nine more years before Ted’s brother, David, and his wife would read the published manifesto of the Unabomber and recognize the rantings as those of his brilliant but mentally ill brother. David Kaczynski called the FBI and his brother was arrested the following year.

Gary Wright used counseling and his Christian faith to arrive at his resolve: “I was never going to be the same person I was, but I could still be happy. I had to forgive this guy.”

Following his brother’s arrest, David felt the need to focus on the victim’s pain and not his own. He called each one to apologize on behalf of the Kaczynski family. Gary’s response was, “But you didn’t do this. It’s not your fault.”

The trial was held in Sacramento. During a break in the proceedings, Dave called Gary and told him he’d like to talk. The two men met and talked for hours. They became best friends and, in a providential turn of events, Gary began to help Dave reconcile what his brother had done and to move past his own pain.

It was a wizened old landscaper in Nashville, Tennessee who first shared with John and me about pruning the dead branches from our beloved trees. Not only would this help ensure that they would not fall and harm someone, but it also removed risk from the living branches; in the event of a storm, they were more likely to be damaged due to the drag of the dead limbs. He also suggested that we remove dead leaves when possible; as long as they are attached, he explained, they rob nutrients from the healthy parts of a plant.

Years ago I read a quote that I have always remembered: ‘Not forgiving someone is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.’ Corrie Ten Boom, having lost everything dear to a maniacal regime, resolved, “Forgiveness is to set a prisoner free, and to realize the prisoner was you.”

I remember a distant relative from childhood. He carried in his heart past offenses from other people and nursed them, rehearsing the events at every opportunity. He spoke as though the infractions had just occurred, even after the offenders were long deceased. What a shame that the drag of past events robbed him of the riches of his life going forward. What a shame that he lived his life trudging through pockets of history that he could never change. What a shame that he never stopped drinking the poison.

Some scholars feel that Moses’ mountaintop commandments had come full circle when Jesus preached the Sermon on the Mount. Listen to the only section that addresses our involvement: “Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also forgive our debtors…” In offering a pattern for praying, Jesus emphasized one prerequisite: that we forgive each other. He knew that we would be prisoners, otherwise. He knew there was risk and damage in the unhealthy branches.

Theodore Kaczynski did not apologize to his victims. When Gary Wright stood to address him in court, he looked him in the eye and said, “I do not hate you. I learned to forgive and heal a long time ago. Without this ability, I would have become kindling for your cause.” What insight from one who could have spewed venom and contempt. What wisdom he demonstrated when he measured the consequences of unforgiveness and found them far more damaging than the schrapnel. Gary Wright took a long look, made a permanent resolve, and lived the Lord’s prayer. And, once again, God’s kingdom came in the heart of man.

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Happy April 2012!

Hey Everybody,

It’s April, and spring is stirring. The flowers are sprouting and blooming, and the trees are budding. This is a great season, but a season, nonetheless. One of my favorite authors wrote, and I’ll papaphrase, ‘The hard thing about death is that it never changes; the hard thing about life is that it never stays the same.’

Amen. Our hearts go out to the family of Earl Scruggs. He was a well-respected pioneer whose music resonated in my home as a child. The fact that he was a very nice man was a bonus.

After living on this planet for %^&* years, I will be receiving my Associate’s degree this summer. Some of you may remember that I began classes during cancer treatments in 2005-06. While it has been slow (I’ve been a little busy:), it has remained a lifelong dream. From now until August I’ll be brushing up on my maths getting ready for the heavy-duty stuff this fall. We are scheduling concerts and women’s events beginning in September, as I plan to maintain a light travel schedule along with school. I’ve a friend who did that when she was in her twenties. I wonder if that makes a difference:)))

All of that to say that we will be posting the fall schedule in a few weeks. In the meantime, thank you for your patience!

It’s April, so grab your spade and head outdoors. Dig, plant, weed, nurture, then send us a picture of your handiwork. Next month we’ll post a new picture of Maggie. Our backyard matriarch reigns supreme these days, and she can hardly wait to be featured again.

Remember during this lovely, almost perfect month that it is easy to become focused on circumstances. The things that challenge us, that weigh on us, ‘do not go gently into that good night’. They vie for the best parts of us: our minds and our hearts. David knew something about refocusing:

“Why are thou cast down, O my soul?
And why art thou disquieted within me?
Hope thou in God:
For I shall yet praise Him,
Who is the health of my countenance, and my God.”

We love you!

Janet

Farewell Mr. Scruggs.....

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March 2012

Hey Everybody,

It’s March and, true to its reputation, the month is roaring in like a lion. Our hearts have been touched by the devastation wrought in Indiana, Alabama, Tennessee, and parts of North Carolina, and it has been amazing how people all over the country have offered to help those who have and who are still suffering. Hopefully, March will hold true to the rest of the longstanding prediction and march out ‘like a lamb.’

Along those lines, we have had a moving story in our little community, as well. A 38-year-old man stopped to help a young boy who was pushing his brother’s van off an interstate exit ramp, only to be hit from behind by a drunk driver. The 17-year-old boy was killed and the 38-year-old man lost a leg and suffered severe brain damage. He is totally incapacitated. His mother cried as our local network affiliate interviewed her, saying she had been forced to quit her job to stay home and take care of him. She knew that God would take care of them, she just didn’t know how. (The courts awarded them a $1,400 judgment from the defendant.) She had asked God to exchange her healthy life for her son’s. This is where the ‘rest of the story’ begins. The good, ah, GREAT, people and churches of our area purchased for them a handicap-equipped van, motorized wheelchair, and paid their delinquent bills. In this tough economy, God’s people distributed fishes and loaves and everyone was fed and the baskets stayed full. I won’t be surprised if an olive tree sprouts in that trailer park!

Even though our world seems upside down in many ways, God’s people are still throwing banquets for the poor (Luke 14:13). They are still providing a refuge for the poor and needy, a shelter from the storm and a shade from the heat (Isaiah 25:4). The Body of Christ is still His hands and feet in our neighborhoods and work places. Amazing, isn’t it?

Be blessed today. Know that, nationwide, prayers are going up for those of you who are suffering, be it tornadoes of the atmosphere or those of the heart. The Body of Christ is alive and well, even thriving in the land, and we’ve got your back!

We love you all!

Janet

Posted in General | Comments Off on March 2012

Happy Valentine’s Day

It’s February, the month of Valentine’s Day, President’s Day, Groundhog Day, and National Bird-Feeding Month. While that list begs for a great one-liner, I’m going to let it go. If you think of something very clever, and if you just can’t help yourself, send it to me!!

First of all, some nuts and bolts… We have brought our online store back in-house and we are excited about that. You’ll find samples of every song on every CD and every soundtrack, too. We thought you’d like that. We enjoy the interaction with you all and we enjoy hearing what you like and, yes, what you don’t like about your online shopping experiences. Check it out. We think you’ll like what you see.

Maybe some of you, from time to time, need to be reminded that GOD IS WITH US. I know I do.

Enjoy!

GOD WITH US…….Janet Paschal

For several years my dad operated a pulp wood yard. This ‘yard’ included an office building, heavy loading equipment, mountains of logs and, our favorite, a stretch of train track that ran right along the front. Dad was extremely careful over us, warning of the potential dangers that each apparatus represented and diligently policing our movements. I’d have climbed every stack of logs in the yard had he allowed it.

Our favorite part of the day was after lunch when the logging traffic slowed and dad would take us for a walk on the railroad track. We walked in the middle, navigating the broad slats and occasionally balancing atop the rails. There was one section that narrowed significantly, offering little or no shoulder to escape the track. More than once, along that stretch, dad would say, “Okay babies, let’s get along. There’s a train coming,” and we would rush down the track to the wide, flat parcels. We did not see a train; we did not hear a train. We asked daddy how he knew a train was coming and he explained that he felt the vibrations of the rails.

Kay and I did not know we were in danger. We did not see or hear it. We lumbered along those tracks with no thought of our safety; not because we were familiar with the characteristics of railroads, but because we were intimately familiar with the characteristics of our father. He loved us; he watched us; he would protect us. We felt safe as long as he was with us.

God laid out before Moses a great commission. Flabbergasted, Moses asked, “Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” And God said, quite simply, “I will be with you.” (Exodus 3:12)

When Joshua stepped into Moses’ role, the Lord assured him, “As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Joshua 1:5)
His promise to unite Israel came after dry bones rattled and ligaments joined bone to bone, “I will put my sanctuary among them forever.” (Ezekiel 37:26)

To Gideon He promises, ‘I will be with you.’” (Judges 6:12-16) He encourages Jeremiah, “Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you …” (Jeremiah 1:6-8) His word through Isaiah, “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you.” (Isaiah 43:2)

David learned, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me…” (Psalm 23:4)  Jesus told His disciples, “You will leave me all alone. Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me.” (John 16:32)

The Lord spoke to Paul in a vision, “…. keep on speaking, do not be silent. For I am with you .…” (Acts 18:9)  Peter declared the works of God, “…. because God was with him.” (Acts 10:38)

God’s proximity was foretold by the prophet Isaiah “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel.” (Isaiah 7:14) The Hebrew translation is staggering: ‘God with us.’

Jesus added finality to the promise when He spoke to the eleven disciples at Galilee, words that have resonated in the hearts of everyone who ever believed He was who He said He was: “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20)

It has often been a late summer breeze that awakened my senses and stirred my heart to let me know, in that moment, God was with us. I have gazed at a winter sky when Jupiter gleamed especially bright, knowing, somehow, that the Creator God was near. Just as surely as I have felt the hand of my father while maneuvering a railroad track, I have felt the divine, careful orchestration of the events and moments of my life and I remain amazed that the God of the ages still concerns Himself with the day to day.

So…. At Christmas, we celebrate the miraculous: His arrival. Always, we celebrate the unfathomable: God with us.

We love you all!
Janet

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