Saturday, October 30, 2010

The question of Halloween.

Today my blog will not be popular.
Melody says I have scarred her for life.
But here goes...I HATE HALLOWEEN!
There I said it. I do not hate little kids dressed up. Heck my grandchildren play dress up nearly every time they visit.
What I hate is the open mockery of my faith.What I hate is tombstones and making death look like a funny game. Demons and witches are glorified.
Any one who has lost a child knows that death is not a joke.
Anyone who has been confronted with violence knows that blood is not funny even if it is fake. Anyone who understands that in some places human sacrifice is still very real and Halloween is a Holy Day for the enemy. He knows that he has a lot more power if people do not take him seriously.
Would it be right to celebrate the evil of the Holocaust? Why is it ever ok to celebrate evil? Murder? Demons? I don't get it. At all.
Yeah.. I don't even like Halloween alternatives that are often offered by churches.We don't need to sugar coat it any more than it already is. I just wish Christians would say "No." The other holidays (ie:Christmas) have pagan orgins as well but at least they don't openly delight in evil.I pray that Christians would read in Ephesians about the battles that are going on even now in the spirit world.
When the Lord first convicted me of this my youngest daughter Melody was so embarrassed when I took her out of public school on that day. I told her art teacher that scarecrows were fine. Witches were not. No doubt it was hard for Melody.I get that.But God said it and that pretty much setteled it.
I was raised believing in real ghosts and even lived in a haunted house. I know that it is not a joke. The Bible tells us to avoid even the "appearacne of evil".
When children knock on my door I will give them some candy. I'm nice to them. It's not their fault.
I know I am rambling and I would love your comments. But I'm pretty sure you won't change my mind. OH... And by the way Happy All Saints Day. That is on Nov. 1st.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Little Prophet

I was coming out of the grocery store with my cart overflowing with food and house hold supplies. I don't go to the store often but when I do it is an event. No one wants to get behind me in the check out and cashiers usually take a break when they are finished with me.
As I opened my truck a mother and her small (4-5 yr. old) son pulled their cart up to the car next to mine.The little boy wearing a blue Mount Olivet nursery school tee-shirt says to me "You better get your bags in the car quickly there is going to be a big storm. It smells like rain." I looked over to east over the ocean and while it was a bit gray I saw nothing to indicate a "big storm". He continued to say "Wait..let me see your hair. Yeah the wind is coming from over there." as he points North East. A little bemused I smiled as he continued. "I tell you what. You can follow us and we will make sure you get home safely." At this point I am loving this kid and wondering which one of my grandaughters he should marry. But he is not finished. "Yeah, we have lots of things at home to be ready in case we have a hurricane." We parted ways and I thanked him for his concern.
Five minutes down the road I noticed the rain strating to fall on my windshield. The sky opened up and by the time I reached Manteo the streets where beginning to flood. While driving down Airport Road the road was flooded and I could not see more than 15 feet ahead of my car. I kinda wished I had someone to follow to get me safly home! I unloaded the bags in a massive downpour and wished I had listned to the small voice that said "You better get your bags in the car quickly..."
God tells us in His word that things are going to happen. He tells us to prepare. He tells us to follow Him and he will guide us safely home. He tells us that He has made provision for me and He will take care of me.I choose to believe Him or not. I choose to follow Him or not. His word is true if I believe it or not..
Thanking God for this little man, his kindness and for the lesson this little man was teaching me.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

What's in your closet?

Yesterday when a co-worker said "It must be so hard for you having your grandchildren in Haiti with cholera going around." I told her that I had confidence in Gwenn and Nick's ability to care for the children in their home. She responded "And God will take care of them because they are doing His work." I shared with her that sometimes he does not protect missionaries from these things but it is still the right thing to do. I really had peace that as bad as this cholera is that at this time I am not frightened for my family.
When I got off work and read Gwenn's email saying that their upcoming furlough had to be postponed I was disappointed but called her to say that if if were me I would make the same decision. And I meant it. Things have been very stressful lately. People are believing lies and the stress of constantly having put out fires is exhausting work. Holding your tongue when you want to speak, when you want to not turn the other cheek is hard work. So I totally get it and understood why this decision had to be made.
Because I understand and have completely bought into the mission of Joy in Hope in Jacmel I really can take these fears and disappointment with a level of maturity that even sometimes shocks me. I will not whine and complain when I do not get my way. There are too many other things to consider. So I am good with this...
I was cleaning up and went to put something in the closet. THE CLOSET. The closet that is home to hidden gifts and the Christmas clothing. I bought everything on super doper clearance last year after Christmas. I have 9 American grandchildren so that is a lot of clothing. For months I have considered how I would set up the Christmas Card picture. I finally decided and bought some matching shirts for the boys. Everything was in place except the children....
That is when it hit me..there would be no Christmas photo this year. Al least not one with 9 grandchildren in polka dots and checks.And I cried. I am amazed by my reaction.
Part of me thinks what a trivial thing to be concerned about! And it is. But deeper is what those photos represent. They represent family.They represent a family who has come through a very difficult year who has made it! They represent unity and strength that lays the foundation for future generations.
I still think that Gwenn and Nick are making good decisions. I am not in any way wanting to lay some guilt out there for them to carry along with the other burdens that they must carry at the moment. I am really just searching myself.I imagine that the closet door was just a trigger for the emotions that I need to keep inside for self and family preservation. I am so grateful for the other American grandchildren who will still be here. I am blessed beyond measure. And I mean that with everything in me. God is faithful. I am blessed..I am blessed..I am mater what is in my closet. Picture or no picture.

Friday, October 22, 2010

What if?? An Advent Challange

When Gwenn spoke at my church a few weeks ago she told us of a Haitian proverb that translates :"God gives but He does not separate."
She also wrote about that today in her blog today at . It is a powerful word.
Last night I started to think about the Advent Conspiracy ( and both of these thoughts have been rattling around in my head all day. You may know that Joy in Hope has been doing diaper distribution in the tent cities since shortly after the earth quake. This week they added another camp. While cloth diapers are preferred in these tent camps it it impossible to wash diapers due to the lack water and proper sanitation. With this week's outbreak of Cholera in Haiti this is now an even more urgent need. Face Book friends have been awesome about helping with the diaper collection but this is a hugh ongoing need. Here is what I am challenging:
Go to Youtube and watch:

Let that message rip you up inside. That is what needs to happen. But don't stop there. Make a decision that you can make a difference.
When I was traveling in Haiti in July I started to become overwhelmed by what I saw in Port au Prince. I felt like "There is nothing I can do!!" But God showed me you can't do everything but you can do something. I needed to put my efforts into the something that I could do.
There are many ways to participate in the Advent Conspiracy. One way would be to look at a picture of one baby. Show that picture to your husband, your children, your classmates,your coworkers, Sunday School class and determine that you can help that one baby. You can decide that instead of that overpriced video game or diamond necklace you will make sure that that baby has diapers for one day, one week, one month or even one year. You can help lessen the spread of disease in a tent city with a package of diapers! It is so simple!
You can pray for that baby. You can pray for it's family.
On facebook I have shared a wonderful, easy way to handle the delivery of diapers. You can go to at:
Amazing but true SHIPPING IS FREE! so if you buy a $10.00 package of diapers it cost you $10.00 AND if you spent $50.00 you get a $10.00 credit AND I get 3% back for an entire year on all your purchases allowing me to buy more diapers. Each time family or friends or teams travel to Haiti we load them down with diapers. Each week Gwenn goes to the camps gives out the diapers and checks on the babies.It's very personal and very real.
Some of you may want to send support thought to Project Connection to help pay for the extra baggage costs that we sometimes have to pay..
The beauty is...this is the's about giving from the heart. It's about rejecting the Christmas that is and embracing the Christmas as it can be. I promise you if you Worship More, Spend Less and Give More you will have the best Christmas of your life! It makes me feel just like a kid again! Bring on the Christmas music I'm ready!!!
Here is a link to Gwenn explaining the work in the tent city. There are now three camps where they are serving:

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

How My Husband Almost Killed Me and Other Nautical (mis)Adventures

My husband bought me beautiful blue kayak. His is yellow. Yellow being an easier color to spot on the water I am already at a disadvantage.
We loaded up the kayaks, or I should say Steve loaded up the kayaks in the back of the pick up and we headed over the Manns Harbor Bridge. Steve had suggested maybe a quiet paddle on the Manteo Waterfront but I knew the chance of getting out and searching for sea glass was nil downtown so I suggested going to the sound. Steve was the one who picked the west side of the bridge and that is why this (mis)adventure is solely credited to his decision thus making him fully responsible for nearly drowning me.
When we unloaded...ok..he unloaded the kayaks I searched the sand for my treasured seaglass. In fact I was so intent on my search that I nearly stepped on a bloated rotting carcass of a deer who was partically buried in the sand. But that is a different blog...
Steve helped me in to my blue (not yellow) kayak and I paddled out. He told me to go under the dock so I would not get snared by a fishing line. Good idea if you are good a steering a blue kayak. Bump...I paddled around to try again..made it!
We paddled out for a little while with a fare wind of about 5 knots from the NE. (I know that cause Steve told me not because I know anything about knots.) We were headed out for the point. The sun was getting lower and the moon was starting to rise. Our plan was to get to the point, turn back, take a nice seaglass search walk on the beach and then head back. As the moon began to rise it called to the north wind and we quickly went from a calm sea to waves and white caps pounding over the hull of the kayaks and drenching us from head to toe. I knew only enough about kayaking to not take the waves over the side of my boat but to ride them as much as possible. That was a problem. As I paddled harder and the waves got bigger and I remembered my co-worker Patty (who is pretty much the queen of kayaking in my book) telling me that it is important to use your core body strength to move the kayak. I am pretty sure every muscle in my body was present and accounted for and no doubt will remind me of that in the morning. Finally we were closing back in on the dock. A big wave broke over the cockpit..I wondered if I might not die right then and there. The dock loomed just ahead..when the water was calm I had bumped the piling how could I possibly get through the opening now with the kayak being driven by the surf??? I lined up the shot the best I could and let the current do the rest. Made it!! Finally the kayak rushed up on the sand!! I was alive! Steve who knows about knots and nautical things said that the wind was now about 10-15 knots. I think that's a lot. We were both drenched and cold and glad to not have been swallowed by the sea. Of course I reminded myself that should the very worst have happened that most likely I could have gotten out of the blue kayak and walked to the shore.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Hanging out with my Dad

Melody Goodale Strayer is ridiculously excited that her Daddy is coming to visit. Ridiculously.

This was my daughter Melody's status on Face Book a few days ago. I love that she loves to spend time with Steve. All of my daughter's are like that. It's not that they do anything big or exciting. They just are. He listens to them and encourages them and well just hangs out with them.
I didn't have that with my Dad. He left when I was four and I saw him once or twice a year after that. Those times it was always an event and not just hanging out time. I didn't really know him and he didn't really know me. When he became ill I went to visit him in Texas. I loved that we sat on his bed and he told me stories and showed me pictures and we .. well.. we just hung out. How thankful I am to have had those few days.
Today I worked until about 2PM then came home and had some lunch. Because Steve is "hanging out" with Melody in PA I had some time to just be alone. I hopped in the car and drove down to the sound to look for beach glass. The day was cool and breezy and sunny. A perfect Autumn day. As I felt the wind in my face I started to be aware that just as Melody was having some time to "hang out" with her Daddy so I too was having some Daddy time with my Father God. I drove to the next beach and then finally to the ocean beach. I talked with my Daddy God about lots of things. We spoke of hidden treasures and surprises that He had for me. We spoke of grace and mercy and repentance. We talked about friends and people who have gone so far down wrong roads that I think maybe they can't come back. He reminded me that His kindness can bring them back.We talked about broken families and broken dreams. We walked and talked and we just hung out. Like Melody I would have to say that I was "ridiculously excited" to have this time with my Daddy God. As the shadows started to become longer I went back to the sound and watched the sun disappear below the horizon. Deeply satisfied to have had such a wonderful visit I look forward to our next time to just hand out.

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Magical One

Some birthdays are more memorable than others.
The earliest one I remember was when I turned four. I remember being allowed to sit in my father's seat at he head of the table when I got my cake.
When I turned 10 my mom took me and 9 of my friends bowling. When we got to the car all of my gifts were stolen..The next day a parcel arrived at my mother's work with a gift from someone who heard my story on the radio. Until I was married I received a gift from this secret friend each birthday.
When I was 14 I had plans to go out with my friends but Kathy (my sister in law) convinced me that it was best to do the family cake thing. I caved in, had cake and then babysat as the rest of the family went out to a movie! (love you Kathy, you are not so mean now :)
When I turned 40 I had just moved to the Outer Banks. Melody and I were in a small apartment at Morrison Grove. Steve was still up north. When I came home Melody ( who was in 7th grade) had decorated the apartment and made a cake and dinner and invited our neighbor Kevin Carter (a 17 yrs. old surfer boy) to join us. Kevin said to me something like "You're so phatt." but I heard "You're so fat."
There are other memorable moments ...Aunt Bam always having a cake and little gifts from each person who was there so you always had lots of things to open was a favorite memory.
But this year is my magical year. Now I use that word because that is the word my kids have coined as they tease me about my special day. But it really was special. I was born October 10, 1955. I turned 55 on 10-10-10. Everything about it is 10.
In the Bible the number 10 is a number of wholeness and completion. Five is the number of grace. I see both of these as revel ant to who I am today. I feel like I am at the time of my life when I have a deep, abiding satisfaction with my life. I feel like I am growing unencumbered by what people think of me and regardless of my circumstances. This satisfaction does not mean that I don't still have pain, sorrow or discouragement. This satisfaction has more to do with the understanding that God has placed me here for a purpose and I now get that I can't change the whole world but I can touch and bring comfort to the small part of the world that God has revealed to me. The satisfaction also comes from really understanding that my satisfaction has nothing to do with my 'stuff'. I like my 'stuff' but I don't need it and sometimes I don't even want it.
My satisfaction comes from knowing I have something to offer. And from knowing that I don't have to be a people pleaser. And from victory over fear. That is a big one. Do I ever feel fear? Sometimes.But I realize that it is a choice I make and does not have to be an automatic response.
The satisfaction also comes from having a husband who loves and respects me. This I know is huge and not every marriage has this.I respect him and love him. There is great satisfaction in a marriage that has continued nearly four decades and is not only intact but is strong and alive.
The satisfaction seeing how my children have grown up and what their lives have become is a reward that I can not even describe. Grand children's laughter and sloppy kisses are the gift wrapping on this gift of satisfaction that I have been given.
It's ok if my children tease me about this 'magical' birthday. I know it's not magic. But I see it as a truly special moment in time when God speaks to me and says "Denise, Happy Birthday. Here is a special day for you to always remember." I love it when he speaks my name.