May 21, 2008

Where My Soul And Spirit Meet

Fishing Poles in the Sand

The beach......I love the beach. If you know me well....or even slightly at will have heard this statement come out of my mouth.....more than once. There is nowhere that I would rather be than at the beach. It is where my soul and spirit meet and I feel closer to God than anywhere else.

Last week, Sandy and I were blessed to get to go to Panama City Beach for several days. We had a wonderful time. We rented a two bedroom oceanfront condo that was at a resort called Gulf Crest. It was beautiful. It was very large and clean and had everything that we needed. The master bedroom was on the front so every night we got to sleep listening to the roar of the ocean through our balcony screen door. Talk about something that will rock you off to sleep....that will do it. The condo was located on the 9th floor and had a 39 ft balcony across the front of it. We had a beautiful view of the pool, the beach, and the ocean. It also gave you a perfect view of the sunset over the a perfect place to stay.

We love Panama City Beach or PCB as we like to call it. The very first trip Sandy and I ever took together was to Panama City. We used to have friends whose parents had a house there. We went down with them for Memorial Day weekend....1992. We had been dating for 4 1/2 months and we were in heavy "like"....haha. 3 1/2 months later ....we were engaged....A good beach trip will do that to you. At least now days we don't have to sleep in separate rooms like we did back then.....WE REALLY LIKE THAT TOO!!!!! :-)

But I digress. It had been 4 years since we had been to Panama City and it has really changed a lot. There are two main roads that run along the beach. One is Thomas Drive and the other is Front Beach Rd. Thomas Drive used to be the nice end of the beach (nice condos and restaurants) and Front Beach road was a lot of of little rinky dink hotels (the miracle strip amusement park...was here but is now gone) and a few nice resorts. The two roads gave you a good mixture of large and small and you could find something for every age group and income level. One night we drove all the way down the beach and we were amazed to see that most of the small hotels are gone. There are huge condos and restaurants everywhere now. There is not much difference between the two roads now is all a beautiful place on the beach.

We had a really wonderful time being together. We had three pretty days and a couple of cloudy/rainy days. That actually worked out well. We got some sun the first few days (or we both got burnt I should shoulders got fried and still hurt a week later) and the last couple of days it was cloudy and we got to be out on the beach part of the day and in the condo resting part of the day. That was nice. I just love being out in the sun and walking on the beach or sitting by the pool (they had a great pool area) and then going in and taking a nap. That is the best sleep ever!!!

The beach was beautiful. Panama City's beach is so white it sparkles. The travel channel has several times voted it one of the top 10 beaches in the world. The signs going to the beach say...."Welcome to the world's most beautiful beaches" and they really are. This time of year it is not the least bit crowded. I felt like I had my own private beach most of the week. I spent a lot of time walking and praying and picking up shells. I just love to walk and pray and talk to God. It is so easy to talk to God when you are at your most favorite place in the world. If I'm at the beach I have to be outside most of the time. I feel the full force of God and the Holy Spirit when I'm out "there" with them. I need that sometimes more than I realize.

There are several places we always go when we are in Panama City. We always go to Pineapple Willy's and sit on the deck and have ribs. They have a deck that extends way out on the beach. It is probably the most perfect place to watch the sunset on all the beach. They are known for their ribs (their motto is "mo better ribs") and their Pineapple Willy drink....(which when I had it back when I was in high school ....was deadly!) We go here every time....but we go for the ribs!

Another place we always go is Angelo's Steak Pit. They have the best steaks that you will ever get anywhere. Black Angus beef cooked over cedar wood. So tender it falls apart. Yum yum yum!!!

This time we also went to the new Jimmy Buffett Margaritaville restaurant. It is the anchor for a new outdoor shopping center that just opened on the beach called "Pier Park" . This new shopping center is really cute. All of the different shops are painted in all the pretty Florida, pink, red, green....and it has a great outdoor area to sit and enjoy the evening. It also has a new movie theater called "The Grand" which is even nicer inside than "The Rave". We had to make a stop at "The Marble Slab Creamery" for ice cream. But anyway...we went to Jimmy Buffett's place to eat dinner. I have to admit I love Jimmy Buffett music (most of it) just puts me in a happy mellow place. The restaurant is really nice and is right across the street from the beach. We ate dinner on the outdoor deck and listened to the was a fun night to be together. The food was good too.

Sounds like all we did was play and eat doesn't it? I was just thinking of how my mom says, eat ,eat ..... when we go to the beach with her. Seems like every time we turned a round we were eating. We did also manage to play goofy golf (I won but I won't mention that) and we went to the show to see "Prince Caspian" (it's really good) and of course, we had to make a trip to Wally World for groceries (no trip is complete unless you get to go to the local Wal-Mart).
We had a wonderful time going to the beach. It was a quiet time of being together and resting. We needed that and we enjoyed it very much.

Below are some of my favorite pictures from the week. At the bottom of the blog page...there is a slide show of most of the pictures I took. It was to big to fit in the post.



p.s. For my "Hired" friends. When we got there our balcony screen door was torn. We wanted to sleep with the door open at night so we fixed the door ourselves. Check out our "hired" door below. The maintenance man did come fix the door for us the next day... and I'm sure he was not impressed.

Our Gulf Crest Condo

My Private Beach

Pineapple Willy's

On the deck at Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville

A Chair in the Sand

Fishing Pole in the Surf

Sailboat on the Beach
A Gator in the Sand
Self Portrait
Sunset on the Water
Stormy Afternoon

Angelo's Steak Pit

Our "Hired" balcony door

May 9, 2008

Mom's The Word......

My Beautiful Mother

I've been thinking about Mother's Day coming up this Sunday....and in turn I've been thinking about my Mother.

My mother is one of the greatest people you will ever meet. She never meets a stranger..and you will never meet her without wanting to be her friend. She is the life of any party and brightens up any room that she enters. She can make me laugh until my sides hurt and I love listening to (and being a part of) her crazy antics. She also has one of the most tender hearts of anyone I have ever met. She is always taking care of the underdog....even beyond taking care of herself. She sees the good in people and believes everyone deserves a second chance.

I was thinking about growing up with mom. For a long time it was just me and mom and our dog Puddy living together. We did not always agree on the way that things should be. We are much alike and tend to stand our ground when we think we are right. To say that we are both stubborn is a huge understatement (sorry mom....). However, we did a lot of growing up and experienced a lot of wonderful and crazy things together. I look back now and laugh at all the crazy things we have done. My mom was always (and still is) a willing party to anything fun (picture my mom riding the Mindbender at Six Flags, or riding on a luggage cart in a fancy hotel while me and a friend ran down the hall pulling it, or her and her friend Bonnie talking my way into Thunderbirds in PCB when I was just 16, or driving to Florida in a convertible with the top down, or riding in the back of a hearse with her girlfriends on her birthday (don't ask), or taking me to a male review on my 21st birthday (it was innocent but embarrassed me to death), I could just go on and on and on. She is a lot of fun. We have bonded deeply over the years. We have been through a lot together. No matter what, I always knew that my mom had my back and would always take care of me. She always did and she still does.

I have learned a lot from my mom over the years. She is a very independent and strong woman. She has been very successful in her professional life. She has won enough awards to cover all the walls in her office....including the Harry S. Sutton award which is one of the biggest in her insurance profession. She is involved in the community including many local clubs like.. The League of Women Voters, Business and Professional Women, and the Red Hatters. She has been the President in all of these. My mother gives of herself and she makes a huge difference in the world around her.

More and more I see my mom in the way I do and think about things....and it makes me laugh...because I think that's just fine.

Here are a few things my mom taught me:

Have a strong faith in God...he is able
Love your family
Be a loyal friend
Give of yourself
Love and be kind to animals
Take time to laugh and be silly
Appreciate beauty in the world around you
Travel and see the world. She is the reason I have such a great love for the beach.
Take risk when necessary
Stand strong in adversity
Life is short....Eat dessert first
Believe in miracles
Be strong and independent
Make a difference
Always be Thankful
Be a good listener
Take time for yourself
Take time to play
Love with all your heart

I could go on and on....but let that suffice as I say....I love you mom!!! I'm so proud to call you my mom and I'm very thankful for you.

Happy Mothers Day!!!


Me and Mom - May 2007- Pippin Girls Trip
Mom and Me - Dollywood- Christmas 2005
The Whole Family - October 2005 - Mom's 65th Birthday

May 6, 2008

The Anointing Begins....

For three days now I've walked around lost in thought about the power of God. On Sunday, at our church we experienced one of the most real encounters with the Holy Spirit that I have ever been a witness to. During communion we worship and sing as people take their turn going up to the table. After we go to the table if we have a need we are free to go up and have Pastor Dewey pray for us. This past Sunday so many people went up to pray with Dewey that the needs of our body became overwhelmingly apparent. The Spirit of God showed up bit by bit by bit and took over the sanctuary and our service. We felt the need and the call to pray one for another bear one anothers burdens....and the walls of self fell down .....humility and healing took over and finally I believe we became what we have been trying to reach for so long..... WE BECAME.....ONE.

It was no coincidence that Jennifer played "They Will Know We Are Christians By Our Love" as the offertory ... or that the lady from Italy talked about singing "They Will Know Us By Our Love" at the healing service that she and Sheryl were at. It was our was finally time...for God to make us the one unified body we have been seeking to be. It was a powerful Holy Spirit experience that has been coming for a long time...and arrived....right on time.

Most of you know that I have the great privilege to be able to coordinate our Sunday Prayer Team at church. On occasion I am able to write to them the things that God lays on my heart. Below is the message I received this week.

Good Afternoon Warriors,

I don't know about you but I am still on cloud nine from that service yesterday. I just keep thinking about how the power of the anointing fell on our service. I was praying early Sunday morning as I was getting ready for church. I kept praying over and over...God please show up and let us feel you everywhere. How was that for an answer? I just love praying for our church. Any time that I think of EMC during the week I pray for God to bless this church and it's people. Still...truthfully I am usually amazed and shocked when he does. Isn't that just the way we are as people sometimes? We pray and even expect great and mighty things....and when they happen we are like....I can't believe that just happened....

My friends....I don't know about you ... but I believe the anointing is starting to fall on our beloved EMC. We have all felt it is coming for a long time. We have fought a hard battle and we have been faithful with all we had. God has kept his hand on us and he is beginning to show us who we can be in him. There was an amazing power that fell on our service yesterday. I felt it almost from the beginning. As the service continued....the Spirit continued to fall more and more. It hung heavy and thick in the room...a Spirit of expectation and relief to finally release new life into us. As the worship time started....someone came to me and said ... Someone is getting healed right now in this service...I don't know who it is but someone is. I was joyful...looking around ...wondering who it was. As communion went on....more and more people went to Pastor Dewey to have him pray for them. I kept thinking to it them you are healing? On and on it went...heavier and heavier the Spirit took over the sanctuary. It was thick with the power of expectation and humility. Our needs are so many. They have been building for a long time. As the service went on....the heaviness of those needs were finally released to the ultimate healer... and they walls of self fell down. We came together... in need and in expectation....and we prayed to our ultimate healer....and we were healed.

I don't know how many may have actually been physically healed...but I do know this....we as a congregation...drew close and put our walls down and confessed our hurts, our needs, and our fears....and the Holy Spirit....the holy agent of change....showed up and we will never be the same. Didn't you feel his power falling? Don't you want more? He has more for us friends. More than we could ever hope, dream, or even begin to imagine.

These are important days in the life of our church. We have a lot going on and there are important decisions to be made. God has a plan for us. Things are starting to happen and the power is falling. We need to get ready my friends. God isn't looking to do small things.... He is looking to do great and mighty things with willing servants who seek to show the world who he is.

We have been praying now for over a year for the anointing to fall on our Pastor, our families, our church. It is happening... Right Now! We need to continue to pray now...more than ever before. God is at work. Give your all, serve with all your heart, and above all ...PRAY!!!