A Pledge of Lives, Fortunes, and Sacred Honor

There is much talk of honoring our soldiers – and there should be. There is much talk of our freedom – and there should be. There is much talk of unalienable rights, essential liberty, allegiance to our flag, colors that don’t run – and there should be. We are Americans; we are born, live, love, play, work, dream, and are buried in the greatest country on earth. We are a blessed nation; one nation under God, with liberty and justice for all who reside within America’s borders as her citizens.

Our country’s history is extraordinary and unprecedented. “Give me liberty or give me death”, Patrick Henry said, and fifty-six men personified this creed, giving their all, sacrificing much, and risking more. These men are the signers of our Declaration of Independence. Ranging in age from twenty-six to seventy, these men gave up the ability to live in silent and terrible, yet somewhat comfortable submission to the tyrant rulers of England, and revolted in a just and honorable, yet life threatening quest for freedom, liberty, and a republican form of government.

In the same week that the delegates gathered at the Continental Congress to vote on this beautiful declaration of freedom from tyranny, the British were also gathering. Thirty battle ships carrying thirty-two thousand troops gathered on Staten Island; a military force larger than the entire population of the largest city in the American colonies. Fully equipped and veteran, this war fleet was the best in the world. When our founding fathers pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor, they meant it.

In a day and age where our President speaks of breaking “free from essential constraints placed by the Founding Fathers in the Constitution” in order for “redistribution of wealth”, where unprecedented arrogance and disregard for law and the Constitution is rampant in our government, in a time where many are content to live in the freedom purchased in blood yet complacently allow tyranny within our land, in a godless era of pseudo-toleration that makes a mockery of the humility of true tolerance, I am reminded that many Americans are utterly and dangerously uneducated and unaware of the cost of freedom.

We know that “all gave some; some gave all”, and the men who signed the Declaration of Independence had the audacity to sign what could have been their own death warrants in 1776 to claim and ensure our essential liberty in 2010. Risking not only their lives, many had spouses and children, prestigious positions and social influence, family owned businesses, farms, stores, homes, animals, and heirlooms, and all stood to be lost and destroyed as these men, these patriots, publicly and historically declared themselves to be traitors. Five of the signers were caught and tortured, twelve had their homes ransacked, one saw two of his sons captured, one saw his son die, one was “hunted like a fox” and was forced to move his family five times in three months.

President George W. Bush said in a speech following September 11, 2001, “the commitment of our fathers is now the calling of our time.” May we as American’s, turn from wickedness, seek the face of God, draw strength, courage, and wisdom from the ideals and action upon those ideals of our founding fathers, and stand strong in defense of our Independence from tyranny of government. Thomas Jefferson said “All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent.” May we honor those gone before and not remain silent in the face of ignorance, socialism, tyranny, or because of fear of defeat.

I will be celebrating this July 4th as I do most years, with my family, an abundance of food and drink, and lighting the night sky with sparkly reminders of our freedom. I wish you all a happy, blessed, and enjoyable Independence Day – We are Americans; we are born, live, love, play, work, dream, and are buried in the greatest country on earth.

God bless you all, and God bless America!

Unexpected Hero

 “Anyone can be a father, but it takes a man to be a dad.” Wade Boggs

Let me tell you about my dad…I call him Papa. I didn’t grow up with him the normal way little girls grow up with their dads, dancing on their feet, wrestling on the floor, memorizing his face as he read Bible stories, going on daddy/daughter dates, twiddling thumbs while enduring dating advice. I was not his little princess or tiny whirling dervish passing in, over, and around his legs. No, I had that with someone else, and so did he.

I met my papa when I was about 15. In a lot of ways, I knew him then just as I do now, as a hero, friend, angel (after all, his middle name is Gabriel!). He was the nurse that cared for and healed a severe bed wound that my grandfather had acquired during a stay in the hospital. The patient tenderness and single-minded dedication with which he worked his gift of healing, paired with his ability to put others at such ease, was inspiring. So when the time came for the necessary teenage job that pays the car insurance, instead of flipping burgers, I took the classes and became a Certified Nurse Assistant in a nursing home. At one point my papa was even my boss! He was never a harsh boss; we often worked side-by-side, feeding, clothing, changing, and dressing wounds on our beloved people (residents).

My papa became “part of the family” quickly, and cared for us in many ways: he ushered at my wedding, tended physical wounds, joined us for game nights, provided care for my grandfather as he passed away, and gave much love and laughter. In December of 2001, the man I grew up with, the man on whose feet I danced, chose death over life. My papa came to where I worked, and held me as I cried.

I wonder if, perchance, you can guess the next part of the story. He was, after all, “part of the family”. He did help us navigate the waters of pain and heartache. He saw us through the most difficult time of life to that point. We did always love him. And so, the heart of the little blonde was stolen once more, I stood as witness, and the two became one.

Life as the daughter of the one I grew up with is much different than life as my papa’s daughter. The one I grew up with prayed, “Our Heavenly Father .” My papa prays, “Hey God.” The one I grew up with wore suits. My papa wears scrub uniforms. The one I grew up with cut his own hair. My papa lets me cut his hair. The one I grew up with wore ties. My papa wears Indian neck pieces. The one I grew up with knew me then, and held my childhood memories. My papa knows me now, and is making new ones.

We have shared almost eight years of our own memories now. A few painful ones. He stood by us as we once again walked through the death of family, but this time, I not only lost my brother, he also lost his son. He stayed awake into the wee hours of the morning, waiting and praying, as I suffered greatly in the E.R., only to learn he was going to be a grandpapa, but now his grandchild was waiting in heaven.

But more memories than not contain loads of joy, fun, laughter, and ever increasing love in all. We have taken two cruises together. He helped us move across the state, and back again. He assisted with remodels in our home. He has cooked for and with us. We have gone camping, planned parties, started traditions, shopped (as a date!), prayed together, and even co-led a Bible study together. We are both lovers of “beer-thirty”, and he is the only man in my life to give me a gun! As an aspiring writer, I was thrilled to recently be hired on for my very first professional writing job. My papa knew my heart and presented me with a precious symbol, a Cross pen.

And so, on Father’s Day, I will be celebrating not only a father, but a man – a dad. I call him Papa.

Name Above All Names


I have a secret! My mother is a phenomenal and sought after speaker, and she is a secret weapon in my writing arsenal! Every time I finish a piece that I want to post, I call her and seek her advise. I often need her to come up with that one word that is on the tip of my tongue but I just can’t think of, and she is an invaluable resource for grammar! I am now taking that secret weapon a bit further – I have confiscated the notes of one of her prized speeches, and have weaved parts of it into this post!

 At the first introduction to others, we exchange names. From then on, we struggle to remember the other person’s name! It warms our heart and makes us feel special when others know our name, because our names are important to us, and should be. Solomon wrote that “a good name is better than great riches.” And he knew. He had both, then lost his good name.

 In Bible times, names meant much more than they do today. They represented the character, personality, and essence of the person. God named the first man Adam, meaning mankind. (Gen. 5:2) God changed Abram’s name to Abraham, “the father of many nations.” (Gen. 17:5) When God told Abraham and Sarah in their old age that they would have a baby, they laughed. (Gen. 17:17; 18:12) So they named their son Isaac, meaning laughter. (Gen. 21:3) Rachel, as she was dying, named her newborn Ben-oni, Son of my sorrow. (Gen. 35:18) His daddy, Jacob, renamed him Benjamin, Son of my right hand.

 In the fairly recent history of man, names generally originated from sources that carried meaning such as geographical location. If a family lived on the bank of a river, Atwater might become their surname. My maiden name is Tweedy. While my family genealogy is from Ireland, the name is derived from the owner of the lands of Tweedie which were along the valley of the river Tweed in Scotland.

 Vocations also became surnames: Cook, Baker, Taylor, or Potter. My mother’s maiden name is Sexton. Sextons were caretakers, keepers, and wardens of church grounds. One’s father’s name came to be a surname as well: Johnson, Thompson, Benson.

 Even God Almighty has chosen to introduce Himself to us through His names. Behind every name of God, He reveals to us His presence, person, character, and attributes. Each time God tells us His name, He opens an avenue for us to grow in greater trust, love, and knowledge of Him. Through His name, God tells us Who He was, Who He is, and Who He will be, for God is immutable, He never changes. (Heb. 13:8; James 1:17; Is. 40:8) No single word or name can adequately convey the idea or rightly reveal all the facets of our God. Yet to get to know God, we must get to know Him by name, and it is an exciting adventure that ensures safety and peace in our lives. Truly knowing Him is the greatest claim and highest ambition of our lives.

 1 Corinthians 13:7 says “Love believes all things.”, and always trusts. 1 John 4:18 says “Perfect love casts out fear.” If we will press in and know our Lord, we will not fear the things of earth, but believe in and trust Him in all things – because we know Him, we know Him by name. We can be like Paul and say “For I know Whom I have believed.” The Hebrew word translated “trust” is Batach. Its reference is to reliance or belief in a person or object. Knowing God’s names and what they mean is a secret to trusting in Him.

 Robert Louis Stevenson tells of a storm that caught and threatened a ship and its passengers. In the midst of the brutal and frightening storm, one man, contrary to orders, made the perilous journey to the pilothouse. He saw the captain at his post holding the wheel unwaveringly. The pilot turned and smiled at the man. That daring man made his way down below to the other frightened passengers and shouted out a welcome and comforting assurance. “I have seen the face of the pilot, and he smiled. All is well.” As we come to know the names of our Pilot, it is as though we have seen His face smiling, and we can say “All is well!”

 Scripture is bursting with promises, blessings, strength, peace, and safety through the Name of our God. “The Name of the Lord is a strong tower, the righteous run into it, and they are safe!” (Proverbs 18:10) “And those who know Your name will put their trust in You.” (Ps. 9:10) “We trust in the name of the LORD our God.” (Ps. 20: 7) “If two or three gather together in my Name, there am I in the midst of them.” (Matt. 18:20) “Whoever calls upon the name of the LORD will be delivered.” (Joel 2:32)  “Because he has loved Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him on securely on high because he has known My name.”  (Ps. 91: 14) David came against Goliath “in the name of the Lord of Hosts!”…and won. (1 Sam. 17:45) Elijah had a bit of fun with the prophets of Baal at Mount Carmal. “Then you call on the name of your god and I will call upon the name of the LORD, and the god that answers by fire – he is God.” (1 Kings 18:24) Guess who won that little contest. If you want a kick – and to see the power of the name of the Lord – read 1 Kings 18:16-45. Total hysterical riot! 🙂

 I will be taking this blog through a study in which we can know our God through His names. Among many, we will study Jehovah Jireh, our Provider; Jehovah Shalom, our Peace; Adonay, our Lord and Master; El Roi, the God who sees even me; El Shaddai, our Sufficiency; El Elyon, the most high God, the strongest Strong One, All-Powerful, All-Sufficient Creator, Possessor of heaven and earth! I will, of course, write on other topics as they arise, but this will become the theme of this blog for a time: to come to know God by name.

 God is jealous for His name. He has worked great and mighty works for His Name’s sake. His name is Who He is, and for good reason. We must be careful to not take the name of the Lord in vain. (Ex. 20:7) According to Webster’s dictionary, Vain means to have no real value or significance; to be worthless or empty; to be without force or effect; to be unprofitable or useless. God sees taking His name in vain as serious business, and so should we.

 So come with me, my friends, let us be humbled, yet bold in this exciting journey of passionate pursuit! “The people who know their God will display strength and take action” Daniel said. May our prayer be that of Jacob the night he wrestled with God, “Please, tell me your name.” (Gen. 32:29) Knowing the Names of your God will forever alter the course of your life, and the appetite of your soul! Let’s take action and learn of our God, our Righteousness, Protector, Strength, Banner, Peace, Healer, Provider, Shepherd, Leader, and Victory, for this God is our God forever and ever: He will be our Guide even unto death! For in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength!! (Ps. 48:14; Is. 26:4) Hallowed, holy, high and lifted up, to be honored is His name! O Lord, our Lord, how excellent is Your name!

Intimate Access


And pray always without ceasing…” 1 Thessalonians 5:17.

Have you ever wondered what in the world Paul was thinking when he wrote this? Or perhaps thought that since he spent so much time in prison that he just naturally was of the opinion that all people had the time that he had to pray, and therefore had no qualms about expecting all believers to do as he did, and pray without ceasing.

 But there are many more scriptures that admonish us to this way of life. Ephesians 6:18, Luke 18:1, Luke 21:36, Romans 12:12, Colossians 4:2, and 1 Peter 4:7 bring us to the same conclusion; we must be constant in prayer. So why does God’s Word behest constancy in prayer? What is the need for consistent prayer, and how are we to accomplish this along with a career, laundry, kids, cooking, shopping, playing, dishes, reading, school, choir, and the other assorted necessities of life?

 This morning was not unlike any other weekday morning. My husband and I awoke to the sound of the Brett and Kim show, the Newsboys belting out a song of worship, and the always fun morning brain buster. We continued to lie awake in bed, wound around each other, with a mumble here and there about the possible answer to the brain buster and the fact that Kim is way to perky at this time in the morning and someone should give her a reality check. My husband is always first out of bed, and a little while later, I finally roll myself from the comfy covers into a fluffy bathrobe and slippers, stumble over the cat, and grab some coffee as we discuss our day. Even after he leaves for work, we communicate via Facebook, text, and phone. As husband and wife, open, frequent, and, if possible, immediate access to one another is our privilege and our right.

 This is the very nature of praying without ceasing; being in consistent communication with our Father, Savior, Comforter, and Guide, because we love Him, need Him, and desire to talk with Him often. We are called by Biblical directive to regularly set aside time for private prayer in which we can seek the face and heart of God with dedicated single-mindedness. But what allows us to pray always is what can be described as “arrow” prayers; those prayers that are breathed from the heart, at times spoken, at times just knowing a prayer from our heart to His is being heard.

 New Testament epistles were often started with the writer thanking God upon every remembrance of the recipient. It has become my aim to breathe a prayer at every remembrance of those that I am blessed to have in my life. My mom prays for all that are involved whenever she hears the wail of a siren. I bring “arrow” prayers to the throne of grace as I search for something I cannot find (which is happening more and more often!), as I read status updates of friends on Facebook, while reading my Bible, and as I answer phone calls from needy clients. I plead for God’s help when drawing on eyeliner, and burst forth in fervent prayer when I realize it’s 4:30 p.m and I have yet to even think about what to fix for dinner! Every time my husband tells me of an appointment with a potential client, I pray for favor and blessing upon his work, and I never fail to pray that all grease stains will magically and effortlessly be drawn out of his jeans. I consistently cry out for the words of my mouth and meditation of my heart to be acceptable to my Lord, and ask that all I say and do be acceptable in His sight. My soul overflows with thankfulness that His mercies are new every morning and His blessings are innumerable.

 As I have learned to walk in ceaseless prayer, the resulting peace and intimacy with the Lord is astonishing. My cup began to overflow! Could this be it? Could this be the reason to pray always? The all-knowing God of the universe simply wants us to talk to Him, to have our mind stayed on Him, to be the center of everything we experience, at all times!

 Being always in prayer is infinite in its advantages and benefits. As we grow in constant prayer and draw nearer to Him, He draws near to us, guiding us in His will. We are more able to hear His still, small voice leading. We have greater ability to stand against temptation as it becomes second nature to cry out to Him and take hold of the Hand that was nail-scarred for just such a time. We feel His Arms instantly wrap around us in times of heartache as we more easily recognize His touch. The most mundane tasks become exciting times of communion. We more easily discern right from wrong as we learn of Him, our hearts become more tender for confession and repentance, we more readily see the light He provides for our path, and are enabled to walk in it. Being always in prayer surrounds us with a shield of divine power and protection, empowers us to become more like Christ, allows His redemption and restoration to flow through our lives, and is an avenue through which we renew our minds.

 “Prayer must fasten all the other parts of our Christian armor…Though set and solemn prayer may be not be seasonable when other duties are to be done, yet short…prayers darted out, are always so. We must pray with all kinds of prayer, public, private, and secret; social and solitary; solemn and sudden…Our enemies are mighty, and we are without strength, but our Redeemer is almighty, and in the power of His might we may overcome.” (Matthew Henry’s concise commentary)

 I have heard it said, “How do I know my Lord is alive and real? ‘Cause I just talked to Him 5 minutes ago!” I love that! 🙂 To see the face of our Lord and follow hard after Him ought to be our one true desire, our one true obsession, our one true need. Oh, how I long for His presence and communion, how my soul thirsts for Him, how I hunger after His righteousness! Oh thanks be to God, it is our privilege and our right to have open, frequent, and immediate access to Him…without ceasing!

A Tribute to Mama

I posted a blog not long ago regarding the forging and developing process of becoming soul mates. I am so very blessed to have my beloved husband as my soul’s true mate, but I have been given yet another extraordinarily special gift. I have not just one soul mate in my life, but two! My mother is truly my soul mate.

From childhood, I have stood in awe of my mother. Efficient, wise, kind, and strong, she is the classiest of women. As a child I adored her, as an adult, I still do, and now I also enjoy her as an equal, truly know her, cry with her, laugh with her, and share most everything with her. She is my confidant, prayer partner, and my best girlfriend.

Immediately after I married, my parents showed grace, wisdom, and an uncanny ability to grant complete release from all parental authority. This allowed for the freedom to bond and form a friendship with them. There have been many times that I know this was not easy for them, but of the many gifts my parents gave me, this is among the most precious.

My mother is always available to give advice when asked, but also allows me to make my own mistakes, and loves me rather than telling me I should have known better. She and I have a lot in common, yet we are very different in a lot of ways. She has always encouraged me to be the person that I was created to be, even when that came out in the form of my rather fiery personality. Although, that little blonde has a bit of fire in her as well!

My mother instilled in me a deep love for God and His Word. The first Bible I ever read cover to cover was a small, burgundy, leather King James Version that she bought for me on Mother’s Day, 1987. We both own several versions of the Bible, enjoy commentaries, love theological research and debate, and daily discuss doctrinal theories, thoughts, and beliefs. Knowledge of our Lord and Savior is our favorite topic above all else!

My mother believed that if you choose to have children, then you are responsible for raising them, not shipping them off to daycare for someone else to raise. She was a stay-at-home mom, preacher’s wife, church pianist, adult Sunday school teacher, and children’s church teacher, as well as home-schooling my brother and me, all while keeping a tidy home, making fabulous home-made meals, and regularly visiting church attendees!  Yes, my mom is Super Woman! My entire childhood was a time of bonding  with my mom.

My mother spent time with me during my teen years, even as I was busy experiencing other things. She would climb onto my bed in the morning, and sing silly songs until I got up! We tried to do tummy crunches and leg raises together every morning, but more often that not, we ended up just eating cereal! We enjoyed grocery shopping together every week and held hands as we walked through the stores, which got several stares! My first car was a ’79 Nissan 280 ZX that my dad bought me, and I bought a ’87 Mustang GT 5.0 convertible a year and a half later, and since I had the cool cars, I always got to drive!  I have fond memories of her and I driving around in the summer with the Mustang’s top down, and also pushing it out of snow drifts, breaking a heel off of her high heel boots in the process! :/

My mother and I created my marriage ceremony together, and that is one of the most treasured memories I have. We sat for countless hours pouring over quotes and poems, and choosing perfect promises and sweet nothings to be said on my wedding day. We wept, we laughed, and she wisely used that time to instruct me, pray with me, encourage me, and talk with me about my hopes and dreams for my future.

My mother instructed me well about marriage, commitment, and how to maintain a happy, healthy sex life, for which my husband is eternally grateful! 😉 Many mothers subconsciously bring their daughters up in a way that demeans the sexual relationship between a man and his wife. If you are a mother, I encourage you to be careful in this area. I am so very thankful that my mother, in word and deed, showed me that the marriage bed is a wondrous thing when enjoyed as God intended. She openly and lovingly guided me in the beauty of this relationship, and I learned from her that, within a loving marriage, sex rocks! (Thanks Jamie! Love, Skot)

My mother has been my truest friend through many, many times of happiness and heartache, and everything in between. We have together come through the death of my father, enjoyed sharing in the new relationship with the man I now call my papa, endured long separations, taken fabulous vacations together, held each other through the death of my brother, prayed fervently for one another, cried over the early loss of my pregnancy, withstood fiery trials within our own relationship, cooked together, cleaned together, shopped together, learned from each other, have seen each other through times of personal sadness, and shared in each others joys and blessings. We go together like peas and carrots!

My mother is a continuing source of strength, beauty, and delight in my life. “As is the mother, so is her daughter”, Ezekiel 16:44 says, and this gives me great hope, for my mom is my life’s hero and my soul’s forged mate. Happy Mother’s Day, Mama, I love you!

Treasured memories of my mama and me!

Corner Cleanin’

Spring has sprung at our little house in the form of the annual cleaning that warm weather and natures new birth inspires.  I began this task with energy and enthusiasm, determining to show closets, yards, corners, desk drawers, and sheds no mercy.  Our bedroom closet took an entire day, but I was confident that the rest of the house wouldn’t take nearly as long.  As a work-from-home wife, I, of course, keep our home quite tidy! 😉 I soon began to realize however, that our tiny 1000 square foot house is not much more than just a storage box for “I’ll use that someday’s”, “I’ll fix it when I get ’round to it’s”, things being stored to sell, and precious mementos.  I have satisfactorily finished several get-tough-on-clutter projects so far, but I have a lot farther to go.

 As I clean my way through our little nest bit by bit, I have started thinking about life’s little storage boxes, corners, nooks, and cranny’s.  What about the shelf that holds a dusty friendship, the corner where we tucked “someday”, the closet bursting with “round-to-it’s”, the shed where we shoved unresolved pain or resentment, or even the drawer where we hide destructive secret sin.  When was the last time we prayed as David did,  “Search me, O God, and know my heart.  Try me and know my thoughts, see if there is any wicked, offensive, rebellious, or grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting”?  Have cobwebs so taken over our hearts corners that we can no longer even see what is in there?

 As I was emptying out our bedroom closet that first day of spring cleaning, I discovered something unsightly and disconcerting.  I found mildew on the walls!  How long, I wondered, had it been there?  Where is the moisture coming from?  How do I get rid of it?  Then I began to wonder where mold might be clinging to the walls of my heart.  I began to pray, “O God, search me!  See if there is mold anywhere in me! Show me so that I can walk uprightly before You.” 

 But be ready when asking God to search you and bring to light anything that grieves Him, because that is exactly what He will do!   He  laid His finger on a part of my life and said “This”.

 Many years ago I entered a high school writing contest, and won first place!  But that was the only time before beginning Philosophies of Strawberry Short Cake that I ventured to put my hearts words on “paper”.  I have since fallen in love with writing, and along with posting this blog, I am excitedly developing a book!  I have always loved digging deep into studying the Bible and hearing the Lord speak, and as Christ followers, we are to be saturated with His Word!   Since the majority of my writing is about the One for Whom I live my life, I am daily immersed in hours of researching ABOUT Him.  Yet somehow I had missed the fact that I was spending less and less quality time alone WITH Him.   And that is precisely where the Holy Spirit laid His finger.  “This”.  

As I looked back on the last couple of months, I could only recall a spattering of times that I sat down with my personal Bible (not just those that I use for study and research), a pen, and my accent dry pencil, and asked my Father to meet me face to face.  And so I did.  I sat down at the feet of Jesus, looked full into His beautiful Face, and the things of earth grew strangely dim!  And then I did the same the next day, and the next, and the next.  As I sit with Him each morning, I become more and more aware of the corners and shelves of my life that need dusted or emptied.  And as I stay attached to the Vine through time in the Word and sweet communion, I gain the strength needed to sweep out those places.  

 Rabbit Trail Side Note: during my “face time” this morning, He turned the development of my book upside down and showed me how He wants it written! Yay! 🙂

As I complete each spring cleaning project, I just love how everything sparkles!  I walk around my home and just feel cleaner myself!  Where in your life can see that mildew or thick layers of dust need to be removed?  Is God speaking to your heart, pointing to “This”?  Don’t fear Him.  Invite Him to make you sparkle!