Thursday, September 4, 2008

Service of Champions

Unfortunately, I don't have the power to put my church friends on the front of a Wheaties box, but I gotta tell you--our Family Day this past Sunday was awesome, and all the people who participated are champions, in my box--ahem, I mean, book! :) We patterned it after the recently concluded Beijing Olympics and if you weren't here you should really kick yourself in the behind, cuz you definitely missed out!

It all began with a torch runner entering to dramatic fanfare from out on Killian Road. Cheered and applauded all the way to the front of the Sanctuary, our hero lit Cornerstone's very own Olympic flame--igniting the start of an extremely fun, challenging morning!

The rest of our time together included Mahani, Cornerstone's Youth Dance Team pumping us up with "Dance in the River," our Children's Church Worship Team joining ranks with our Big Church team, a visit from Saturday Night Live's "Two Morons," and a message from Pastor Brenda reminding us that the goal is to pass a vital, relevant faith to people beyond ourselves--the same way you pass the baton in an Olympic relay race. And, how, if you fail to make the pass successfully, the race is over, because nothing else matters!

Who are you passing the baton to today? Or have you dropped it? Better question: Are you even in the race??...No matter what your answer to any of those questions is, I have good news! There are plenty of people who need a "pass" from long as they are still here, you can pick that baton up to go at it again...and it's never too late to join the race!

Monday, July 21, 2008

You Can't Hurry Love

Well, hello. It's been a couple weeks, and I apologize for my absence. I promise I wasn't giving the silent treatment, I've just been slightly busy. You see...

I GOT ENGAGED! Very exciting times in my life right now, just very consuming also because we are planning and executing a large scale, yet on-a-budget, wedding in under 4 months time. YIKES! Are we crazy, you ask? Hmmm...probably a little. :)

Anyway, during the rush of activity over the days, and now weeks, since Aron Carpenter (that's his name) popped the question, I've realized there are some things you can hurry. Like for instance, you can microwave your dinner, you can take a short cut to the store, you can hop in a bulbed bed or go for a spray if you want a quick tan, and if you have decent connections, flexible expectations, and a bevy of generous and capable friends, you can even hurry a wedding. BUT, and this is very important, so make sure you grasp it, there are some things you absolutely can not hurry. And, as the old song goes--YOU CAN'T HURRY LOVE...or MARRIAGE, for that matter. At least not the kind God has really ordained, and will really bless.

I am 29 years old, and I have been in love before--at least to one degree. But, not the kind of love to build a marriage on, love to serve as the foundation for a lifetime. Had I hurried to the altar then, I guarantee it would have been very far less than God's best. Though painful, I am so grateful I chose (and in some ways, was forced) to wait on God's man, God's timing for my life.

There may be some of you out there right now feeling very lonely, and wishing desperately to be in a relationship, in a marriage. You desire this so much that you may just jump into something, anything that offered that future to you. I just want to encourage you to wait on the Lord. Be confident in His attention to you, His provision of you, His plan to fulfill the desires of your heart as you walk closely with Him. The Bible tells us that God is conscious of even the smallest of sparrows--so how certain can we be that He is very aware of us?!

Let me encourage you with this...Both my fiance and I waited on God, in a variety of ways, to bring us His best for our lives. It was not easy on many, many days...and there were periods when each of us faltered, choosing to pursue relationships of our own design, rather than His. But, ultimately, both Aron and I laid our hopes and dreams for a love and a life-partner at the feet of the Lord, and He has proved Himself faithful. He has so thoroughly come through for us that it is hard to explain it all in words and this limited space. God was preparing us for one another over all this a matter of fact, just recently we found out a piece of history that tells me God's plan for Aron and I is 30+ years in the making--but, I'll save that for another blog. :)

I know God is preparing great things for you too! Be patient, let Him work, let Him piece everything together in just the right way to meet your wants and your needs. He'll do it...just you wait and see!

"Be confident of this, He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it." Philippians 1:6

Wednesday, July 2, 2008


We're on the verge of a big holiday weekend...It's Independence Day, people! And, you know what that means, don't you?!

Fourth=Friends, Family, Food, Fireworks, Fun, Freedom.

But, it's the last one that got me thinking...Now, just go with me for a minute, ok?

Have you ever examined yourself and wondered where you get those weird freckles? Or your crooked smile? How about your goofy sense of humor or your love of all foods Italian?...I have. For instance, I have green eyes. I’m pretty sure I get those from my Mom—or possibly the Mason Family in general, since there are lots of green eyes on that side. I also have an uncanny ability to eat ridiculous amounts of food for a girl. I definitely get that from my Grandma Young. Then, there’s my stubborn streak—I’m positive I get that from my dad, my mom, both sets of grandparents, uncles, aunts, great-grandparents…Frankly, I could probably go back generations and still find strains of it! And, I can’t forget my chubby toes…I have yet to find a family member willing to claim responsibility for that heritage.

Ok, so fat toes may not be a legacy I’m real grateful for, but there are other aspects of what my ancestors have given me that I value beyond measure. Like the opportunity to live free. In my family heritage I have people who have fought and sacrificed so that I would have the chance to live in freedom. What a gift!

My grandfather was a solider in WWII. When the Axis powers threatened the world at large, and the democracy of America, He stood up and fought back. He was in Pearl Harbor, he jumped on D-Day. He was wounded in France and received the Purple Heart for his passionate commitment to fighting for the right to have freedom.

I also have a great-great-great-great grandfather, named John, who fought in the Civil War. Born a southerner, he gave up his entire family, who disowned him, when he joined the Union Army. He was even forced to change his last name. He chose Mason. This man lost nearly everything, including a leg in the Battle of Gettysburg on July 3, 1863—exactly 145 years ago tomorrow. He sacrificed all this by choosing to fight for the right of all people to have freedom.

Freedom is even part of why I love my church so much. We are affiliated with the Free Methodist Denomination…The Free Methodist Church was founded in 1860 and the issues of the church’s creation included so many freedoms that it would have been difficult to give the new church any other name than “Free Methodist”. For instance, they stringently opposed slavery and fought to abolish it. Also, in the new “free” churches, the pews were free, in contrast to regular Methodist churches which either rented or sold their pews, thus relegating the poor to the back. In the new church, even the poorest people could sit where they chose without having to “rent” or “buy” a pew to worship God. “Free" Methodists called for free seats for everyone and anyone! (

I’m sure if I was able to trace my family and church history back even farther, I would find multiple tales of how those who came before worked, battled, and sacrificed to give me the incredible opportunity to live free. I know that most, if not all, of you could share similar stories. It is a gift our forefathers have given to their children, and their children’s children, and so forth. It is a legacy they started and has continued. Now its time for us to play our part—They believed the chance to have a life of freedom was a gift they were willing to die for…Is it a gift we are willing to LIVE for?

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Team Hoyt

Ok. So, I saw these guys give an in-depth, inspirational interview on "Oprah" a while back...and I balled like a baby.

Then, just today I received the below video from my own Dad through email...again, wept profusely.

The love, investment, bond, respect, and spiritual connection between this father and son is moving to the point that I feel as though it literally reaches through whatever screen I am watching and seizes my heart.

I've included the basics of their story as told by Wikipedia...After which, the video will not only show you Team Hoyt's story in action, but it will also paint for you a very real picture of who our Heavenly Father wants to be for us, a fraction of the sacrifice He gave, and how, through Him, we are more than conquerers! (Make sure your volume is up!)

I can't imagine this won't grip and move you deeply...Boy, it sure has done that in me!

Team Hoyt is a father (Dick Hoyt) and son (Rick Hoyt, b. 1962) in Massachusetts who compete together in marathons, triathlons, and other athletic endeavors. Rick was disabled at birth by a loss of oxygen to his brain because his umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck, and he also suffers from cerebral palsy. Dick carries him in a special seat up front as they bike, pulls him in a special boat as they swim, and pushes him in a special wheelchair as they run.

Thanks to his parents, who ignored the advice of doctors that he would live life in a persistent vegetative state, and Tufts University engineers, who recognized that his sense of humor indicated intelligence, at the age of 12, Rick was able to learn how to use a special computer to communicate, using movements from his head. The first words he typed were, "Go Bruins!", and the family learned he was a sports fan. They entered their first race in 1977, a 5 mile benefit run for an injured lacrosse player who was a schoolmate of Rick's.

Dick is a retired Lieutenant Colonel in the Air National Guard. Rick earned a college degree from Boston University in special education, and now works at Boston College. They continue to compete in races, and are also motivational speakers.

As of January 31, 2008, Team Hoyt had participated in a total of 958 events, including 224 Triathlons (6 of which were Ironman competitions), 20 Duathlons, and 65 Marathons, including 25 Boston Marathons.[1] They have also biked and run across the USA, in 1992 — a 3,735 mile journey that took them 45 days.

When asked what one thing Rick wished he could give his father, his reply was ‘The thing I'd most like is that my dad would sit in the chair and I would push him once.’”

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Footprints: The Remix

"God loved the world so much that He gave his one and only Son, so that anyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life." John 3:16 (New Living Translation)

What an amazing gift, Salvation. Freedom from the everlasting death of sin. What could possibly be better?!...Well, I actually have an idea of one thing that just might be the icing on that particular cake.

"...I came so they can have eternal and real life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of." John 10:10 (The Message)

You see, not only does God intend to grace us with an indescribably amazing forever-life in heaven...He very much wants us to experience the fullest, richest, most satisfying and thrilling life here on Earth, as well!

I know too many Christians who literally rob themselves of God's best. (I find it interesting to note the first half of John 10:10 says, "A thief is only there to steal and kill and destroy...") They do this by meandering through life with a "whatever" mindset. They figure their salvation is "good enough." They suppose following Jesus "most of the time" will suffice. Basically, they are content with mediocre. Well, I challenge that.

I'm sure many of you are familiar with the classic "Footprints" poem, having either read it each time you were in your grandparent's bathroom, received a Hallmark card fashioned around it, or had it forwarded to you through email...213 times. It is a great piece, and very touching. Below, however, I have included a re-working of the poem that speaks to me even more profoundly. Read it. And, let's agree never to settle for "OK."

by Beth Moore

Imagine going to heaven and standing by God as he lovingly shows you His plan for your life. It begins with the day you are born. Once you received Christ as Savior, everyday that follows is outlined in red. You see footprints walking through each day of your life. On many of the days, two sets of footprints appear. You inquire, "Father, are those my footprints everyday, and is the second set of footprints when You joined me?"

He answers, "No, my precious child. The consistent footprints are mine. The second set are when YOU joined ME."

"Where were You going, Father?"

"To the destiny I planned for you, hoping you'd follow."

"But, Father, where are my footprints all those times?"

"Sometimes you went back to look at old resentments and habits. Sometimes you chose your own path. Other times, your footprints appear on another person's journey because you liked their plan better. Sometimes you simply stopped because you would not let go of something you could not take with you."

You are silent for a moment, contemplating, and then ask, "But, Father, we ended up Ok, even if I didnt walk with you every day, didn't we?"

He holds you close, "Yes, child, we ended up Ok...but, you see, 'Ok' was never what I had in mind for you."

Monday, June 23, 2008

Chics! (Of the Human--not baby bird--Variety!)

Not so long ago, I was asked to offer my thoughts regarding Women's Issues in today's society...Whoa. What a loaded topic. But, these people clearly knew who they were dealing with, so they kept me reined in with specific questions to answer, rather than a completely open forum. *wink* Thought I would share my responses with you, and let them speak for themselves. Hope they meet you somewhere you are today!

What women's issues concern you the most today?
Self-image and true purpose in life. I meet with young women and girls on a regular basis—both personally and in my job—and a common thread I see and hear is an inaccurate perspective and misplaced emphasis on image. I also believe that far too many women—and men as well—live their lives without any deep purpose bigger than themselves. They aren’t focused on building a legacy that makes an impact or having a mission worth dying for…Most are far too self-absorbed and distracted by instant and temporary gratification to invest their lives into the things that will ultimately and actually matter. I believe this ties directly into the image problem, as well. Of course your self-image is not going to be great when who you are is based on unworthy things.

How have women's rights, or lack thereof, affected your life experiences in particular?
It has been an interesting, dual-edged sword. On the one hand, my mother is a Pastor—a notoriously male-dominated role. I’ve grown up in a family, and with surroundings, that have always shown and taught me the equality of women—both through her job, and just in the respect and credibility given to women in the social circles I have lived. However, there is another hand of my mother being a Pastor...There’ve been numerous times in my life where I have experienced the disdain of some people, personally or vicariously, who believe a woman is not qualified or appropriate to fill that leadership role.

Growing up was there a certain woman who acted as a role model for you? What did you admire about her? Mom. She has always been able to manage a million things…Be a nurturing, loving, always present Mom, a leader, there’s nothing I have watched her attempt that she couldn’t handle, a great, supportive, partnering wife, awesome at her job, dependable, unflappable, yet fully feminine and compassionate…She has some how managed to be an amazing working woman, stay-at-home mom, wife, teacher, pastor, friend, and lady—simultaneously. It’s awe-inspiring.

If you could create a super-hero for all young girls to look up to, what characteristics would they have?
Honesty, integrity, servant’s heart, intelligence, purpose, kindness, generosity...

What is your hope for women in the future?
To aspire to what I’ve said above…Not to be the next "American Idol," "Pussycat Doll," or Hef's "Girl Next Door." Make your life—every moment of it—about something so much bigger than yourself that it has the potential to change the world!

Monday, June 9, 2008

Asking God "Why?!"...

So, awhile back I heard from a friend who lives out of state. She was experiencing an incredibly difficult time in her life--it just seemed as though the hits kept comin', you know? She had emailed me with her thoughts, feelings, frustrations, and confusions--and to be honest, I felt a little overwhelmed. I didn't know what I could tell her...You see, I am a fixer, and though I very much wanted to, I just couldn't fix her circumstances.

Recently, I have had other people I care about in similiar periods of life--the details may be different, but the struggle and pain the same. Even myself, and my whole family, have been experiencing loss and disappointment on a variety of levels as of late.

I'm confident there are also many of you out there going through a chapter that involves discouragement or questions, hurt or anger, betrayal or depression...or maybe all of the above, and even some I didn't mention. Makes me think of this quote: "Everyone I know is either in a crisis, coming out of a crisis, or headed into a crisis."
-Andy Andrews

Just today, I came across the letter I eventually was able to pen back to my friend...It encouraged me. Maybe it will do the same for you...

Dear Friend,
I'm so sorry to hear things are rough...Gosh--sometimes it just feels like the bad never really ends, doesn't it?! :/ I wish I had a magical answer or insight. But, I don't. I wish this, not only for you, but for myself as well, because I also sometimes feel the "neverendingness of crap", so to speak. I do know, however, that God is in control--no matter what it looks like to me. Just for ONE instance, I was praying last night and this morning for little Bryan--my brother, Zack and his wife, Amanda's 3 year old nephew. He has horrible eczema that just wreaks havoc all over his poor little body and face. His skin is rough, raw, itches. He can't really swim, be in the sun, use fragranced lotions. There are certain foods he can't eat. And, most of all, it is really painful for him. They've been to doctors upon doctors who can't seem to figure out how to truly help. He is the sweetest little boy, and so adorable--and I just can not for the life of me understand why he has to go through this. I have cried over it many times, and am welling up now as I think of it. I have prayed and prayed that God would heal him--and I am not the only one. I was asking God again last night and this morning, "WHY?!...Why won't you heal him?!" And, suddenly, very clearly, I was impressed with the reality that I don't know everything, but God does. Maybe there is some reason things are the way they are without visible change. Maybe there's something coming down the road in Bryan's life and God knows this hardship is necessary--or at least useable. I changed my prayer and asked that God would do His best by, for, and in little Bryan. That He'd help me keep faith that He will never allow this child to suffer needlessly. I prayed that God would, first and foremost, secure the health and future of Bryan's heart and soul--even if that means, for some reason, that his skin is never healed. God is the ultimate puzzle-piecer and strategizer. Like sometimes when I play Tetris people watching think I have made a big mistake because I put a piece in place that looks like I have blocked myself off, and I'm certainly going to lose. What they don't realize is, I have seen the side of the screen where the next three pieces you're going to get are shown, and I know that my move was the best one in light of what is coming. Do you see what I am saying? Being that I trust Jesus so much, I trust that He is working the puzzles even when I think His moves dont make sense--and even when they hurt. Doesn't mean it's easy or that I don't fret and fuss and screw up--I do. :/ But, ultimately my faith is in Him. I know yours is, too. Steven Curtis Chapman has this song called "Believe Me Now." It really encouraged me a while ago when I was going through a period of "neverending crap." And it still encourages me today. (When other periods of "neverending crap" continue.) I've included the lyrics below. There's one particular line in the bridge that was the first thing to catch my attention. I was crying in my office one day a couple of years ago with my head down, asking God "why" and to please just take the pain away. I had a CD playing in the background. This was a CD I had heard every song on before, but for some reason this one never stood out to me. "Believe Me Now" was already more than half over, and I hadn't consciously heard one word of it when suddenly the melody and the voice broke through my crying and my prayers, and I heard this line from the bridge, "I am the God who never wastes a single hurt that you endure." Now, I don't always know how that's going to play out--frankly, I'm not sure I have yet seen the full outcome of that truth in any area of my life--however, I believe it with my whole heart. God is good. God is faithful. God loves us. God Reigns. Those things are facts, and can handle the weight of our hope.

Thanks for listening to me--these thoughts were as helpful to me to get out, as I hope they are for you to read.

Much love,

Believe Me Now
by Steven Curtis Chapman

I watch you looking out across the raging water
So sure your only hope lies on the other side
You hear the enemy that's closing in around you
And I know that you don't have the strength to fight
But do you have the faith to stand
and Believe me now Believe me here
Remember all the times I told you loud and clear
I am with you and I am for you
So believe me now Believe me now
I am the one who waved my hand and split the ocean
I am the One who spoke the words and raised the dead
And I've loved you long before I set the world in motion
I know all the fears you're feeling now
But do you remember who I am?
Will you believe me now Believe me here
Remember all the times I told you loud and clear
I am with you and I am for you
So believe me now Believe it's true
I never have I never will abandon you
And the God that I have always been I will forever be
So believe me now
I am the God who never wastes a single hurt that you endure
My words are true and all My promises are sure
So believe me now Oh believe me now
So believe me now Believe me here
Remember all the times I told you loud and clear
I am with you and I am for you
So believe me now Believe it's true
I never have I never will abandon you
And the God that I have always been I will forever be
So believe me now Believe me now Believe me now