Life In The Moments

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Faith, hope, love, forgiveness, mercy, peace, compassion, encouragement, reconcilation just to name a few

When Life Is More Than A Grammy!

Last night was electric in our small town! (You can still feel it in the air this morning.) Our high school band was being featured on the 3 main networks of the big city closest to us. Why? An award called “a Grammy!”

When our family was praying & talking about moving here back in the summer of 2009 – I had checked out the school’s website. At the time, I did not see any mention of a high school band. I’ll chalk that up to user error now.. but at the time – Travis (our middle son, aka T-Masters) was crushed. Part of his identity was tied up in band. When the high school band director found out Travis wasn’t going to be playing for him – he wasn’t just sad but got all teary-eyed. He had been paying attention to Travis throughout his time in middle school. It goes to show you never know who is really paying attention.

Upon moving here and realizing I had made a mistake about there not being a band – Travis jumped right in. Band for a 1A high school is totally different in some ways compared to a 5A school district. I must confess – even for his mom – I had my own share of frustrations with it. Didn’t compare to Travis’ though. But yet, over the almost 2 years – he has truly come to love his band director and the members of the band. And that showed last night too as he was holding “the Grammy” up for all to see it as a part of the Annual Spring Concert which wasn’t a usual concert after all.

With the school year coming to a close soon, Travis as well as Parker (aka PG-13) have received several awards. Travis was also inducted into the National Honor Society on Tuesday night. Something he would have never thought would happen to him. Austin completed his first year of college with a 4.0 average. It’s been a tender week to say the least. A very tender one….

In the midst of all the awards, ceremonies, banquets and etc.. I cannot help but be incredibly grateful for the tender week it has been with all 3 of our sons and my husband (aka That Man). While all these exciting things have been happening with our sons – it’s been one of the busiest weeks for us ministry wise as well. That’s the way God intends for it to be though. All working together in order…. when life is more than a Grammy!

What are your life’s moments more than?

Where does God fit in?

Where does your family?

As always, dear reader, you’ve been prayed for!

Much love,
Camey

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Are Your Windows Open?

A couple of weeks ago now, my family & I went on a vacation to Colorado. While I knew the temperatures there were much different than those of the panhandle of Texas, I wasn’t expecting what happened. There was no air conditioner in hubby’s parents’ home because it was not needed. Simply not needed. The temperatures in Colorado merely do not warrant having one. So, much to my surprise – the windows were open all over the house.

During the day, I enjoyed the breeze that was coming inside due to the windows being open. But, when it came to the night time? “My” natural instinct chimed in and I instantly wanted the windows closed. In talking about closing the windows, it was pointed out to me how much warmer inside the bedroom and the rest of the house it would be with them closed. I gave in even though.. again.. it went against my natural instinct.

Throughout the night, I found myself waking up to sounds I was not used to. To sounds that I had no clue what type of animals they might be. And, in truth, there was an element of fear in me. Not the getting eaten by a bear type of fear… but still fear nonetheless. Up until a almost a year ago now, I had always been a city girl. Yes, G-town was country to me and our sons. But compared to here, definitely not country. Fear. A four letter word that I was not expecting to find while on vacation.

Each morning I would find myself sitting out on the back porch. I would look out at the same scenery that was there at night and would think how beautiful it was. How simply and utterly breath-taking! As I was studying one of those particular mornings and praying, my Father whispered to me, “I brought you to this place to experience the windows being opened at night. Stop closing your windows when there is no need to.” Of course, I also knew then I was to share about this with those who will read. But I knew that was not where the story would end.

When we came back home, just a couple of days later, our air conditioner went out in the parsonage. For those not in the know.. a parsonage is a home a pastor and his family live in provided by the church. Needless to say, the windows were in need of opening. Did I mention we live in the panhandle area of Texas? I had to laugh and smile.. I knew more of the story was about to write itself.

Sure enough? At night, with the windows open – I could hear all kinds of sounds I would not have heard as clearly, if at all, had the windows been closed. Vehicles passing, teens laughing at the park a few streets over, cats and dogs at play – just to name a few. I still did not sleep that well with the windows open. But this time it was not out of fear. It was out of expectancy for the future. Out of sheer excitement over the ways in which I see and know God is moving – not only here – but in places all over the world. And in expectancy for all the ways I’m yet to grow, stretch, and change for I am a work in progress just like you.

I started to publish this on Friday. Funny enough? More of the story was to be written today on the way to the big city with our oldest son, Austin. He was sharing his dreams for the future. Incredible dreams. Dreams that if his windows were closed – he would never want to entertain. For if his windows weren’t open.. and he was not trusting in God, fear would be his favorite four-letter word instead of love.

So, dear reader, let me ask you….

Are your windows open?

And what’s your favorite four-letter word today? For make no mistake about it, it’s probably showing more than you realize.

As always, you’ve been prayed for!

Much love,
Camey

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Paint Outside Usual Lines

Visited with a sweet friend yesterday afternoon. Funny enough… she encouraged & challenged me in a way I’ve never been before. Don’t know what will become of it. But this morning, I woke up with thoughts I’ve never had. Inspiration can come in many forms & can catch us by surprise. And can make us smile deeply when we might not have ever given it a second thought before.

Where will your inspiration come from today?

What will you do with it when it comes?

Who can you encourage & challenge today to paint outside their usual lines?

As always, dear reader, you’ve been prayed for.

Much love,
Camey

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Book Review: the Christian Atheist by Craig Groeschel

Book Review: the Christian Atheist – by Craig Groeschel

Disclaimer: This is not a totally unbiased book review. I’ll leave it at that.

One day, my oldest son – Austin and I were in a LifeWay Store together. His ever-growing consumption for books has taken a rather lofty direction as of late. I couldn’t help but notice one particular book in his hand, the Christian Atheist. Austin is one who has friends who are atheists as do I. But over the last year or more, we have had this ongoing dialogue about how Christians can be just as much atheists as the so-called real ones! Needless to say, I knew I would read the book before he did. If you’ve read any of my book reviews before – you know this is not the first time I’ve reviewed a book of Craig’s. And in fact, you may be one I’ve personally given one of my own books of his to read.

One of the many things I greatly appreciate about Craig is his transparency. And in the book, the Christian Atheist, he continues that even though doing so at times causes the reader to see right through him. {Read: Pastors are supposed to be perfect, right? That would be no.} He talks and shares very openly about his own struggles with being a recovering Christian Atheist. Having been one myself, I can relate to many of the stories he candidly lays out as how one can believe in God but live as if He doesn’t exist. I believe, as I know Craig does too, that this is how far more Christians can be defined these days than not. For the record, I used a cotton swab as my book marker while reading this book. I suggest you have one – if not several ready. Why? Our ears are dirty and in need of cleaning. {Huh? What did you just say?}

The book speaks to where so many are at these days. Believing in God and yet not living as though He exist. Believing in the phony formula as Craig calls it (as do I) that “better possessions + peaceful circumstances + thrilling experiences + the right relationships + the perfect appearance = happiness.” That can be found on page 169. It is not found in real life.

I don’t want to go into great detail about the book because I’m planning on giving this book as a gift in the near future. Very few books do I finish reading and say that about. I knew that half-way through the book if not sooner. So, needless to say, if you’re a Christian – I highly recommend this book to you. If you’re an atheist – the same applies for you. And if you’re somewhere in-between, ditto. Why? You never know when you just might need to hear something inside a book a friend recommends.

To fellow Christians reading this… I encourage you to really pray before opening its pages. I know I did.

And if by chance you’ve never really given God your life’s moments – all of them… no time like the present. But you’ve got to start somewhere. Why not here and now?

As always dear reader, you’ve been prayed for.

Much love,
Camey

PS: Any time I review a book of Craig’s – I always receive super lovely letters condemning him and his church, notice – it didn’t stop me.

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Book Review: Josh Hunt’s “Make Your Group Grow: Simple Stuff That Really Works”

First, let me say that I am always thrilled at the opportunity to review a new book. Throw in that I received the book for free makes it even sweeter given that I was prepared to buy it. Thanks, Josh! As a disclaimer: I have met Josh in person. In fact, I played a role in him coming to give a seminar at our last church. We spent more than just a couple of moments talking with each other. We are also Facebook friends – so we’ve stayed connected through social media.

Part of the reason for my giving the disclaimer is this… Josh writes very much like he talks in person. And it’s because of that, this book is an easy read. There is nothing complicated about this book or the subject. Josh has a real passion for showing and sharing Jesus. And because of that – Josh has a fire in his belly for small groups. And the guy likes to party.

There are many areas of this book that I could mention & dissect why I liked or disliked them. I’ve picked out just a few to highlight in this review. I promised Josh no fluff. There won’t be any.

My favorite chapter is #7 – titled simply “You Gotta Have Faith.” Quoting Josh from page 101, “Groups that believe they will grow are nearly 12 times as likely to be growing, compared with those that don’t believe they’ll grow.” God’s Word – The Bible – teaches us time and time again that faith.. Genuine faith bears fruit. It cannot help but do so. That’s the way God designed it. On page 106, Josh says, “God said it. So let’s know it – and then do it.” Could not agree more with Josh on that.

Throughout the entire book, Josh shares real life stories from individuals whom have tried various methods over the years to get their groups to grow. He shares how sometimes they achieved success and other times, they fell flat. Having tried various methods myself over the years in different groups I’ve had the privilege of leading – I can totally relate with many of his findings and others experiences as well. One thing this book is full of is encouragement. Don’t give up if your group is not growing. Stop. Be willing to examine every part of it – including yourself – and then take inventory of what works and what doesn’t. Go from there. All while making sure you’re firmly planted in The Word and in prayer. For without these – what type of group are you really leading?

Why Chapters 7, 8 and 9 are the most valuable in this book to me are a part of my story. Does not necessarily mean I dislike the rest. Which ones will speak to you and your group(s) more will depend upon yours. I have had groups that have grown. I have also had groups that tanked. And all a long the way, God continues to use them to shape and grow me in to the leader He wants me to. And somehow, I have no doubt that God continues to work in the lives of those who were involved. We should be a student until we take our final breath. No matter how many times we might have been called teacher and/or leader.

The Appendix and End Notes are also worth the time in reading. That is not something that can be said for every book. Some I’d rather have a root canal than to read. Boring.. I also can tell a lot about the writer of a book of this type by the sources he/she uses as resources. I’ve now added to my list of things to read thanks to those Josh sites.

If you are a church leader of any type – I highly recommend this book. Warning: You may think I am not recommending this book to you. But you never know when God might just give you a fire in your belly for just this very type thing! And trust me when I say, “I wouldn’t say never or not me.” God will use whomever He pleases for His Kingdom. I am a real life story of that.

Thanks again, Josh, for the opportunity to review this book. Now get busy won’t you?!

For more information, check out the following websites:

http://www.joshhunt.com & http://www.group.com

As always, dear reader, you’ve been prayed for!

Much love,
Camey

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The Education of Austin: More Than A High School Diploma

Today is the last day of high school for our oldest son, Austin. What a crazy journey we’ve been on with his education over the years. I write this today in part to give praise to God and to encourage you – the reader.

I never, ever… never… intended for Austin to go to public school. It was “my” plan to homeschool him from k-12th. But, six weeks before public kindergarten was to start – my husband said after much prayer – he believed we were to have Austin go to public school. I submitted to my husband because I knew he was listening to God. And sure enough…. in February of Austin’s kindergarten year – Parker was born. He was in the hospital the 1st full month of his life since he was a preemie. Did you catch the “never, ever…. never” at the beginning of this paragraph? Talk about being grateful for being wrong.

Truthfully, I could not have been the teacher that Austin needed during that time. But, Mrs. Smith – she was. How she loved that boy of ours! Her encouragement of his love for reading has lasted with him all these years. His dad & I read to him in the home from the time he was born.. but it was Mrs. Smith in kindergarten who challenged his reading in ways we could not as his parents. And I am thankful.

It was during Austin’s 1st grade year that I became ill and would be so for the next 5 years. Part of why God wanted Austin in public school was for his protection and mine. Life’s moments were interesting enough without Austin having been home all during the week days too. Teachers like Mrs. Beatty and Mrs. Oliva were there in ways that God knew Austin would want & need. They would also pave way for Austin’s middle brother, Travis, as well. It was partly due to their love for Austin that they took to Travis as they did as his teachers. But, it was Travis who ended up winning them over because of who he was himself. And I am thankful.

It was also during Austin’s 1st grade year – he gave his heart to God through Jesus Christ. Not at the physical church building we could have been at that morning, but up in a tree outside of our home that afternoon. I wasn’t well enough to go or to be left alone. Those encounters were and are why to this date you will hear us talk about how church does not equal a building and how God isn’t only found inside of them! And how worship can take place anywhere and at any time! Make no mistake about it – wasn’t just Austin who heard from God that day!

It was during Austin’s 7th grade year – he had some health issues. Given that I had been completely healed in 2003 due to the Great Physician – total Miracle – that homeschooling Austin became possible and the right choice for him. It was not okay for him to repeat the 7th grade due to rules about public school attendance when he was making just as great of grades outside their walls as he was in. I’ll never forget the day I walked in to the attendance office & withdrew him from public school. I was told, “From what we’ve known about your family over the years – we would have been disappointed in you.” Catch that? People were watching us & paying attention to who we said we were and how we walked life’s moments. Why? Simple, it was more than the sum of us.

Over the next few years, Austin was either totally homeschooled or a part of a homeschooling co-op. When Austin was 16, he surrendered to God and full-time ministry. It is through the last co-op that he is graduating on Friday, May 21st, at our last church in G-town. Austin being a part of that co-op and being a part of the student leadership with that church allowed him opportunities at the physical church building that is being used today in the town we are at now and with the church we serve at where his dad is the pastor.

His being schooled these ways also allowed him other opportunities that public school simply would not have. I cannot begin to tell you about all the moments Austin got to spend with his Grandpa Brown out serving others together during his last 18 months on this earth. For we believe that education is more than public or private or homeschool. Life’s moments are the real classroom. Why? God created us and the world. Every single day – no matter a person’s age – we are to learn and experience a variety of things. And to see that through the rain or the sunshine – there is no one that can compare to God. No love greater either.

Congratulations Austin on a job very well done! Your dad & I cannot wait to see all that God has planned for you. And how you continue to grow in Him and walk this world shining His light! While we’re thankful to be your parents – even more so to call you our brother-in-Christ! What lessons we’ve learn from and through you since the moment we learned we were pregnant back in 1990.

How are you being educated today? And who is looking at you as a teacher in their life’s moments?

As always, dear reader, you’ve been prayed for!
Much love,
Camey

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Conversations With My Daddy: If I Could Take Your Place

Until the age of 35, I had always had health issues. Me and the word “normal” did not go together as far as the doctors were concerned. I will be 42 in just a few days. And with the exception of 25 lbs, mostly in my hips and backside – I am in the best health of my life! What I am sharing with you today, however, comes from a time when I was at some of my sickest.

Here’s the scene: The year is 1999. It’s November. I am in the hospital paralyzed from the neck down. In walks my daddy. For as long as I can remember, he called me “Little Miss Inspiration.” He even gave me a trophy engraved with it when I was in 6th grade having back surgery due to Scoliosis. He teared up upon seeing his little girl (even though I was a grown woman, married and 3 sons of my own) lying there seemingly helpless. He walked over to me & kissed me on the check and whispered in my ear, “Cam, Miss Little Inspiration. If I could take your place – I would in a heartbeat. It’s so hard for your daddy to see you like this.”

Now in all honesty… Daddy & I had that part of the conversation several times before in different situations with my health. But, when we were alone in the room this time, we talked about how what he was feeling as a father in no way compared to what our Real Father went through with His Son on the Cross. Dad & I didn’t have a choice about my being sick. But God could have chosen not to send His Son – Jesus.

But God….. in His Love for us created a bridge for us to come to Him. And by Jesus’ stripes – we can be healed. While I’m beyond thankful to have received the Miracle of being healed… if I didn’t know Jesus as my Lord and Savior – frankly, it wouldn’t mean a thing. For at some point in this life – I will die a physical death unless Jesus returns before then.

How can today be “Good Friday?” Because God is good. And as brutal as Jesus’ death was on the Cross – God was still good. Even while I was paralyzed from the neck down…. God was good. And even with my earthly daddy being in Heaven – God is good. Heaven is not greater because Larry is there.

So, dear reader, let me ask you….

How long has it been since you’ve had a conversation with God?

And do you realize Jesus took your place that fateful day on the Cross?

It is my prayer that if you do not know Jesus as your Lord & Savior.. and do not call God – your Real Father – that today will be the day you do.

As always, you’ve been prayed for.

Signed,
My Inspiration Comes From My Real Father For There Is None Greater

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More Than A Lunch Date: Tears Over Avocado Enchiladas

On Tuesday… my husband and I set out to the big city for a lunch date. We believe strongly in a husband and wife still dating each other after marriage.. Yes, even after 20 plus years of marriage especially. We had talked about going out on a dinner date Saturday evening, but our plans were changed thanks to Parker. More on that a bit later in this story…. It had nothing to do with celebrating Valentine’s Day. For real love is shown and shared more than one day year with a card, dinner out and perhaps some flowers and chocolates. We knew what we wanted to eat and just where to find them. Off we went..

We left a little later than we usually do for a lunch date. So, when we arrived at the restaurant – there were hardly any customers there. And I couldn’t help but smile deeply at that observation. We were seated immediately and were expecting nothing but a great time of being together and eating some of our favorite food. Of course, we were also expecting to intersect with the lives of whomever we came in contact with.

His name is Chris. He walked up and immediately started joking with us, laughing, and making a couple of suggestions for us. He told me I was too easy when he said they were all out of raspberry tea and I said, ‘Okay. I’ll take a Coke then.” And yet, through his jokes and laughter.. I knew with every fiber of my being he was not okay. And instead of mine and hubby’s usual habit of asking our server how we can pray for them and then doing so… I knew I wasn’t to ask… that he would be back later on in our time there to share what was going on with him. It was very odd I must confess when we bowed our heads to pray and yet had not clue how to pray for Chris.

The food was very hot temperature wise. Chris brought me a few raspberry teas and with each one or whatever he was at our table for… it was clear it was building.. and a flood was about to happen. He looked me at one point and said, “You’re a teacher aren’t you?” He then went on to explain about the grays in my hair and the way I smiled. The look on his face when I replied, “Yes. I’m a Bible study teacher.” showed clearly the real reason for his question.

A bit later, I asked him what he thought hubby looked like… he replied, “Something to do with technology.” We both had to laugh. Hubby was in technology for years in the secular world.. and he is currently working on a website for our church.. where he is the pastor. . The look on Chris’ face yet again when hubby said, “I’m a pastor.” spoke volumes. And truthfully… hubby is a tech geek. I may use it more on daily basis, but make no mistake – he’s the real geek.

A few minutes went by… and there was Chris again.. standing there beside me and laying his hand on my shoulder. And then he began simply pouring out about his life’s moments.. the good, the bad and the ugly. He couldn’t help but pull out the chair beside me and literally started welling up with big tears. And yes, of course, I couldn’t help but put my hand on his back and rub it.. That’s one thing I knew upon being physically healed back in 03.. I am to use my hands to touch those who are hurting. Not with my own hands mind you really.. with His.. God’s.

I won’t go in to all the details Chris shared. I will ask again for you to pray for him and his children and the woman he shared with us about too other than his x-wife. Hubby and I took Chris by the hands and prayed with him right there then. His tears filled with the added flavor of God’s love as individuals noticed his pain and met him right where he was….. just exactly like God through Jesus does.

Make no mistake about it.. Chris was crying out for Jesus. And God sent a teacher and a pastor. If you remember earlier on I shared how we almost went out Saturday night instead.. but didn’t because of Parker. Parker wanted to go to his first public school dance. And yet, he got the time wrong and when we showed up there – no one was there. No one so it seemed. He ended up spending most of his evening with his dad and I. And yet, Parker has said that it meant more to him that we were even willing to let him go and then didn’t go on out after we realized he wasn’t going to the dance at that time. Oh, Someone was there. He always is.. no matter where a child may go. Or a guy named Chris.. or Dick… or a woman named Camey. Or fill in your name……

Who will you notice today? And are you willing to share in their pain?

What about showing them who the Real Hope is found in?

As always, dear reader, you’ve been prayed for.

Much love,
Camey

PS: If you’re a local to this town or the big city.. I’ll be happy to share with you where you can find Chris if you’re interested in reaching out to him too.

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Prayer Request!

Requesting prayer for a very dear friend of mine… His name is Bill. He is having surgery this morning. He had a biking accident several months ago. Bill is the pastor of a church in Indiana. More importantly than that… he is the husband of Jo, dad to Tami & Janna, and grandpa to B. Thanks in advance!

And as always, dear reader, you’ve been prayed for.

Much love,
Camey

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Who’s Driving?

Yesterday afternoon, Austin & I shared one of the most tender times as a son & a mother… and also as a brother & sister in Christ. Austin is in the process of learning how to drive. So, I threw him the keys and let him get behind the wheel as we headed out to make a special delivery. One of our favorite things to do together is to serve others out of the overflow of God’s love in our hearts and lives. Yesterday was definitely a picture of that.

Austin has gone with me several times now to make deliveries to this one family in particular. In fact, the first time we went there, I had gotten mixed up on the streets since we were still new to the area. Austin helped us get there with his better sense of direction than his mom’s. So, as we were heading out yesterday, I didn’t have to tell him where to go or how to get there. He knew the way very well. It was fresh in his mind and heart.

Just a little bit ago, Austin and I were talking about the difference between driving and riding along when out serving others. We also talked about how it can make one want to serve others even more so than before when they can drive on their own. Oh, sure.. having the driving directions are important. If it weren’t, things like mapquest & GPS would not be used to the degree that they are. But what is more important is who is driving, where you are going and why are you going?

We’re praying about the future here in this town and county we’ve come to serve in. For one thing is very clear to us in God’s Word as the living example of/in Jesus Christ… He didn’t come to be served, but to serve. And it is with that in mind… we’re praying for a building. A building that will be used as a food pantry and possibly a soup kitchen to help meet the physical needs of others. A building that will be used not only by individuals from our church, but from any of the other churches in our area that want to be a part. Why? God’s love knows no denominations in Heaven.. why should it here on earth?

Yesterday late in the afternoon, there was a little boy in our kitchen with me. As he was helping me make chocolate chip cookies… he just started sharing about his own life’s moments… and I am convinced even more so now than I was when I had the dream. Some are called to travel across the world to places like India, Haiti and etc…. but regardless of that… we are called to go wherever we are already at as well… to be the hands & feet of God. And to walk humbly with our God.

So, dear reader, let me ask you……

Who is driving?

Where are you going?

And why?

And as always, dear reader, you’ve been prayed for!

Much love,
Camey

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